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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Changing Modes

Aeroplane

Review by Gary Hill

While I can see people not agreeing with the classification of this one as prog, I put it in the section because just by the sheer weirdness of throwing off-kilter timings and strange progressions into something that seems to want to be accessible pop to me just about qualifies it as progressive rock. When you add in the fact that there are segments that really seem to share a lot of sound with some of the progressive rock greats, it's hard to imagine this going under any other category. The music here really feels like these guys think they are creating pop songs, but yet weird timings, changes that come out of nowhere (and are rapid fire) and prog like textures are all over this. The vocals definitely take a little getting used to, but do add to the odd left-turn type sound. If you've ever heard the Waitresses (think "Christmas Wrapping", their best known song), then you'll know what to expect.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Another Country
This jumps right in, feeling like you came in in the middle of something with a bouncy off kilter, yet strangely accessible sound. The textures here seem to take a new wave texture and blend it with a retro jazz sound, then throw progressive rock left turns all over the cut. This is almost like taking The Waitresses, Niacin and King Crimson and putting them all in a blender.
Traces of You
This is a bit less adventurous than the last cut in terms of odd left turns and such, but also includes a great melodic prog break.
Daily Life
A retro pop sound blending with an incredible off kilter jazz prog arrangement make up the order of the day here. This one includes some killer organ sounds.
Blind
Keys start this, and the band gradually move into a slightly funky fast paced mode that includes a crunchy chorus followed almost immediately by something best described as "a funky Yes" sound - if you can wrap your head around that one. A cool noisy guitar solo makes its appearance on this one as part of an expansive break. This really hits its stride in a fast paced segment later that combines retro sounds with prog and weird pop.
Chain Lightning
This feels like a cheesy, jazzy arrangement and features a cool walking bass pattern. One section, though is a quirky off kilter Crimsonish/Pentwater-like thing. A very KC-like guitar dominated break later is awesome. Then they rework some old world music textures from the intro into an intriguing new progression.
Two Steps Down
Weird, yet poppy, (the order of much of this CD) is in full force here. This one doesn't have much going for it, though as a lot of the rest does. It does shift gears later to an intriguing fast paced segment, though.
Get Up
Take ELP and send them on a funky jam and you have something close to the musical backdrop here. This gets pretty weird at times, but weird seems to be the norm on this disc. It drops to a melodic prog ballad type approach for a short time.
Arnold
This comes in feeling like a twisted "Lucy in the Sky," but then switches to a segment that feels like the weirder side of Jefferson Airplane (think "Lather"), but with more of a prog approach.
True Love
Coming in with a reverse crescendo, this is almost like pop RIO in its approach - if that makes any sense. Frantic changes with odd angles and timing changes are all over this in a mélange that the band seems to think is a pop song. This is very odd, but extremely cool. It never stays in one place for more than a few lines. The exception is the jazzy space rock instrumental outro.
Russian Roulette
This is pop music twisted by obtuse angles and off-kilter timing changes. The keyboard solo on this one is very tasty.
Aeroplane
This is super fast, bent in unnatural angles retro jazzy rock. It almost feels surreal. It is more consistent in texture than a lot of the stuff here, but still manages a surprise or two and a cool prog instrumental journey.
Reprieve
This is the most straightforward melodic music here, but it still pulls enough strange angles into ti to keep it up a ways in the "weirdness" category.
Tomorrow Never Comes
Fast paced and punky, this one feels like prog rock done by a new wave band. This is hard edged, and crunchy, but still has its prog moments.
Panic Button
Wow, this is so off-kilter yet catchy that it's almost unbelievable. It's like having Pentwater and King Crimson (the first couple albums) join together with The Waitresses and try to create a pop song. This is my favorite cut on the disc and has some killer musical textures.
Car
This one is more of the same almost pop weirdness, but not an exceptionally strong chunk of that mix. Therefore it probably wasn't the best choice for album closer. Still, the instrumental break, short as it is, is quite potent.
 
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