Having released its debut album “Building Up” in 2002, Rochester rock band The Niche broke up in 2006 before it could release its completed sophomore album, Fourteen years later, the band kicks out the quirk on its long-awaited follow-up album, “Breaking Down.” On the opening cut alone, “Dealin’ and Squealin'," the band chugs with a power-pop push toward a jammed-out ending. That song, along with “Don’t Fear the Future” and “Smells So Lemon,” are available as digital singles on Spotify and other streaming platforms
This launches the listener directly into the sunrise of the next number, “Tuba Ruba,” complete with the tongue-and-cheek contrast of the chorus: “I ain’t taking no shit, I ain’t wasting no spit.” The song also has an Allman Brothers feel that’s out of left field but welcome, thanks to Willy O’Riley’s gregarious piano groove. The Niche isn’t one to relax and stay away from oddball joy. Harmonious songs such as “Nothing Is New” sound as if Randy Newman were the fifth Beatle.
Overall, this nine-cut trip down the tracks is plenty progressive in spots, but it doesn’t require a protractor or a slide rule to decipher the music. Hearing the band’s obvious influences — Phish, Zappa, and Ween (sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?) — is a heads-up game that makes perfect sense amid the frivolity and fun of the music. And that’s the band’s niche. For now, the entirety of “Breaking Down" (which starts at the 16:23 mark) can be heard alongside live recordings from throughout the band’s 20-year history, via the album’s listening party video:
Frank De Blase is CITY's music writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.