Although 8traC’s scattered debut lacks musical identity, the quintet at least has a legitimate excuse for the myriad genres found on Falling Up
: they hail from Boulder, Colo., a locale that has produced its share of genre-bending bands.
8TraC’s effort to ply all trades, however, has left them master of none. Falling Up
drifts between off-course jazz and stagnant funk, Jah-less reggae and hobbled hip-hop, never really harnessing the ensemble’s evident musical talent to a coherent purpose. “All I Know” features vocalist Chantel Mead exhibiting the raw emotive talent of a Motown revue while her supporting musicians wander, leaving her wistfully floating. The appropriately-titled “This N’ That” has the confusing swagger of a disco-laden chorus stuck between verses that recall the potency of the JB Horns. Unfortunately, this muddled fusion buries Mead’s vocal brilliance, an unintentional motif of Falling Up
. 8traC’s centerpiece ought to be Mead belting not wafting over groove-heavy hits as on “Let’s Do It,” which effectively channels Chic and Jamiroquai while emphasizing the vocal oomph of 8TraC’s dynamic lead.
8TraC’s wide-open sonic palette offers so many options that Falling Up
’s canvass is overcrowded and, consequently, unaffecting. (Jonathan Stumpf
8TraC plays The Loft Wednesday, March 28 at 10 PM. $5.