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These Curious Thoughts

A Decade in the Shadows

Review by Gary Hill

I have reviewed several discs from this act in this issue of Music Street Journal. This is a disc from 2015, and it showcases their usual blend of prog angles from psychedelia to alternative rock and more. One interesting feature of this one is that it's split up as two sides, like a record. That analogy is further carried into the music with sounds of record scratches and a needle stuck at the end and getting placed at the beginning added. So convincing are those sounds that I had to check to make certain this wasn't originally released on vinyl and this edition mastered directly from that.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
The Stars
Sounds like a scratchy record start this. Then piano rises up in a pretty melody. The cut drives out from there into some killer prog rock zones. This is catchy, and yet meaty. There is a real dreamy quality to it. It has some catchy hooks, as well. There is some killer hard-edged guitar soloing at times on this number. There is a drop back to piano and vocals after the halfway mark. The track builds on that with some of the most dramatic prog of the whole piece emerges as it grows outward.
Better to Be Human
This number has a lot of energy. There is plenty of progressive rock here, but it also has a lot of alternative rock built into it. I dig the guitar sounds on this thing, too.
Glass Horse
A mellower, vocal based arrangement brings this number into being. Horn sounds bring some jazzy elements. This is a slower moving song that has some folk and psychedelia in the mix. As the cut builds out later those jazzy textures really come to the fore. The fast paced movement later in the track has some killer bass work and a cool vocal arrangement.
A slower tune, this is another that comes in on the more sedate end of the spectrum. It has plenty of jazz in the mix. The shifts and changes bring more alternative rock meets prog textures. There is a blast of faster paced prog at the end of the tune.
A Decade in the Shadows
After a cool prog introduction, the title track shifts to some killer funk-driven textures. This has a lot of alternative rock built into it, but the changes are quite proggy. In some ways this makes me think of a proggy version of REM. A scratchy, stuck record sound ends this.
My Lizard Preacher
The sound of a needle hitting vinyl brings this into being. A keyboard arrangement creates the backdrop for the vocals on this number. There is a twisted feeling to it. It grows gradually, keeping a rather balladic like feeling at the heart of it.
Small Town Hero
Bouncy alternative rock type sounds with proggy edges, this definitely has a psychedelic pop rock feeling to it. This dissolves into noisy psychedelic chaos mid-track and has some really punky tendencies as it comes out from there. I dig the smoking hot guitar solo that emerges beyond that, though.
A mellower and rather tentative arrangement brings this in with a folk meets prog kind of approach. The number drives outward with some killer electric guitar coming over the top after the first vocal movement. The melodies are driven home with some effective prog. It drops back to the mellower edges for the next vocals, but with a great intensity added to it. 
Life Is a Lens
The opening movement of this is in mellower, more ballad-like zones. As it approaches the halfway mark the cut rises up into more potent prog sounds. The bass work on this section is so cool. There is a drop back to the more sedate, and a psychedelic edge, which was always there, becomes more obvious. The song rocks out again from there.
Every Day I Wonder
Alternative rock and prog merge on this cool cut. It has a nice balance between mellower and more rocking zones, and it's another that reminds me of REM to some degree. The tune has weird, but cool little doo wop section later, too. There is some crazy keyboard texture at the end followed by the sound of a record player reaching the end of the album.
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