Matt Mays and El Torpedo busted out of Nova Scotia at the turn of the decade, made an album with Tom Petty's producer, started touring as opening act for the mighty Sam Roberts Band and Canadian folk-rockers Blue Rodeo, and with only four years as a band behind them, had gained enough of a following to start headlining large clubs and theaters.
It seems, on the surface at least, that the band has had an easy ride from obscurity to the stage of the 2005 Juno Awards, where Mays and Co. walked away with three trophies and no less a personality than Bubbles of the hilarious Canadian spoof-com "Trailer Park Boys" proclaiming his love for the band. Of course, the group's success is well-deserved. Few in the El Torpedo peer group have been able to channel the most indelible of roots-rock influences into a new whole that might be described as "modern"; indeed, few have tried.
Even a cursory spin of the new Mays and El Torpedo platter, "When the Angels Make Contact" (Sonic/Warner Bros.), reveals a band toughened by endless road miles, tightened by the strain of endearing itself to audiences often unfamiliar with its music and inspired by the quality of songs leader Mays is throwing its way. "Angels" may in actuality be the soundtrack to an incomplete film given birth by Mays -- funds ran out, it seems -- but it needs no exoskeleton of story line to give its raucous roadhouse blues rants and sublime white-line fevered rockers the strength to stand.
Mays and El Torpedo arrive in Buffalo -- a town that welcomed the band from the get-go -- this evening for an 8 p.m. gig inside the Buffalo Icon, 391 Ellicott St. Tickets are $12.
-- Jeff Miers