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Izz

My River Flows

Review by Steve Alspach

Sometimes Amazon steers you right. I was on a CD-buying binge a few weeks ago and one of the links was to a band called Izz. "My River Flows," the fourth album by this NYC outfit, was ripe for the pickins, and I've found it to be full of well-crafted and innovative songs. Tom and John Galgano play keyboards and bass respectively and share vocal duties, Paul Bremner handles the guitars, and Greg DiMiceli and Brian Coralian combine on drums and percussion and play quite well off of each other. Add to that the nice vocal touches of Anmarie Byrnes and Laura Meade, and you have a band that is worthy of whatever recognition and praise that comes their way. You can let Amazon lead the way - or take our word for it - but either way, you'll be glad that you checked out this Izz.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
My River Flows
The filtered vocals and crunch guitar sound a bit like Porcupine Tree or latter-day King Crimson as the album starts with a down-and-dirty punch. There are a few channel-hopping, psychedelia-laden breaks, and some go-for-it instrumental breaks as well. If punk bands learned to play in 5 (given they could count that high), it may sound like this.
Late Night Salvation
What sounds like another guitar-fest turns into a more complicated tune as Bremner's guitar line makes for a growling background fill to a chordal keyboard pattern. Tom Galgano's piano, with the vocals, sound a bit like Spock's Beard, and the harmonies between the Galganos are quite good and go a bit beyond what the listener might expect. Bremner gets a chance to flex his chops in a solo while the keys drop out and the rhythm section play in a tight 6/8. The keys come back in for a section that sounds like it could have been further developed (or maybe not, but it couldn't have hurt), then a drum duet from DiMiceli and Coralian. The end section has some nice acoustic strumming, and Anmarie Byrnes joins in for the final verses.
Rose Coloured Glasses
Here is a mid-tempo rock piece featuring Tom Galgano's vocals, and the pared-down arrangement (one drummer, and predominant use of piano) show that Izz can construct a short but catchy number.
Deception
Short synth chords and use of acoustic guitars lend for a restrained feel to "Deception." The song has a McCartneyesque sense of bounciness to it, but there's still a good amount of edge in the piece. It shifts direction as Laura Byrne takes the vocal over Tom Galgano's string synthesizer, sounding a bit like Lana Lane. A Bremner solo over a march pattern closes out the number, though one would expect that a final verse or chorus would be in line to finish out this track.
Crossfire
There is a bit of a Beatlesque bridge in the vocalized sections after the verses on "Crossfire." Once Bremner's guitar kicks in you expect the song to go into overdrive, but it surprisingly holds back for quite sometime before kicking in. The piece then goes back to the Beatlesque fill and Izz uses that chord pattern to let Bremner stretch a bit.
Anything I Could Dream
Sounding a bit like a deep cut from a Cheap Trick album, especially with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics, "Anything I Could Dream" is more of a pop-rock song than a prog piece (cue the Seinfeld clip: "Not that there's anything wrong with that"). The arrangement is rather simple with piano, acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and drums.
Abby's Song
This is a fast number with just John Dalgano on acoustic guitar and vocals and Bremner adding harmonics and occasional arpeggios on electric guitar. It's reminiscent of the early 70s folk-rock.
Deafening Silence
The introduction alone is a piece in itself, moving from third-stream piano to riffing in 7 to Gentle Giant-like musical interplay. After a short section to introduce the vocals, the track moves into something Marillion might do, Bremner's guitar work very similar to that of Steve Rothery's. Anmarie Byrnes and Laura Meade get some places to show their seamless blending of voices. After a Bremner solo, Tom Dalgano gets a bit on piano that would do Glass Hammer or Renaissance proud. A spacey, Pink Floyd-like or Yes-like keyboard section follows and the piece quiets down to three voices and piano. But you can't keep a good band down, and in true prog form, Izz closes out this 21-minute epic in a 7/4 section before going to a slightly understated finish.
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