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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mike Keneally

and Beer For Dolphins-Dancing

Review by Gary Hill

The music on this CD is really quite deceptive. Listening to just a piece here or there one would certainly think that the group was making modern alternative rock/pop. However, that simplicity is the deception. Indeed, these guys really capture that sort of hook driven sensibility in segments of their music, but the arrangements definitely move in far more prog oriented areas, at times seeming rather King Crimson oriented or Zappaish, among other things. The Zappa leanings are certainly to be expected since Keneally was a member of the late great one's group. The overall result is catchy prog which perhaps we have not seen the like of since Toy Matinee or at least Spock's Beard.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Live In Japan
Picture Bare Naked Ladies adding some strong progressive rock leanings to their particular style of modern rock/pop and you come pretty close to the texture of this track. The instrumental break on this one is great, and some portions of the arrangement are sheer brilliance.
Ankle Bracelet
With a style that calls to mind modern Marillion just a bit, this is a cut that continues the tradition begun on the pervious track while coming in a bit harder edged and more gritty.
Poo-Tee-Weet?
This cut is a very brief vocal exploration.
Backwards Deb
Coming in with hard edged guitar chops, this cut has a modern sort of texture. At times the arrangement takes on serious Crimsonesque tendencies.
We'll Be Right Back
Beginning in an off-kilter sort of jazz oriented style, the cut drops after the intro into more of that Bare Naked Ladies related pop oriented rock. It wanders around that format, getting very quirky and prog driven as it carries on, eventually breaking into a brief jam that calls to mind Frank Zappa. The track covers a lot of ground in its eight plus minutes, wandering from popish verse, to weird progish riffing, to spacey jamming. This is a hard cut to really put your finger on.
Joe
Beginning in mellow retro tones, this is a cut that really feels a lot like Spock's Beard. It has a great groove to it. This jam gets quite lush and powerful and even a little playful at times.
Pretty Enough For Girls
Beginning in a definite Zappaish way, this cut drops to more melodic style to carry on. The Zappa tendencies return later, and the cut seems to alternate between these various styles.
Taster
Set in slow bluesy sort of progression, this instrumental has a lot of feeling and seems to call to mind the solo work of David Gilmour at times. It also gets quite dramatic and weird from time to time.
Dancing
The title track, this one starts in a mysterious and somewhat dark balladic mode. It builds on that format. It is a brief and somewhat weird cut that is just a little disquieting.
Selfish Offer
Another instrumental, this one starts in very Crimson oriented weirdness. It begins building from there in cacaphonic style, bringing in elements of Frank Zappa to the mix. This is another cut that is quite strange, but also very interesting. It even feels a bit Hawkwindish in the keyboard solo segment.
Only Mondays
Beginning with a retro sort of jazzy pop style, this cut turns a nice change from the previous number's weirdness. This brief cut is just a nice ballad with the texture of late '60's jazz rock/pop stylings.
Lhai Sal
This instrumental comes in with a great rhythmic groove. It cuts loose with a southern rock oriented type of screaming guitar riff. This is a scorching jam that really works. It drops to a playful jazzy sort of segment that gets a little odd at times. Then jumps back up to the frantic riff that started the number. Next comes another drop to jazz oriented dissonance to end the cut.
The Mystery Music
Another instrumental, "The Mystery Music" starts in a basic sort of rock and roll texture and as the sax joins in, it begins to feel like a fun jazzy jam from the late 1960's. It evolves into a jam with a great rhythmic texture. This is another piece that really works, although it is a bit brief.
The Brown Triangles
Continuing in the series of music sans vocals, this cut begins in very chaotic jamming style. The chaos continues throughout, making this number feel a bit too noodly for this reviewer.
MM
Yet another instrumental, this one comes in with a retro piano style. In fact, it is a brief, jazzy piano solo that directly gives way to the next tune.
I Was Not Ready For You
Coming in with percussion, this one begins building in one of the coolest grooves the album has shown us. This number is rather short, but it really is one of the most effective pieces on the album.
Ragged Ass
Beginning with a quick paced and quirky progish jam, this cut is a fun one that reminds one a bit of Pentwater and certainly Frank Zappa. It is pretty effective piece. It does dissolve into a jam that is pure weirdness before coming out into a segment that feels much more like Genesis with a touch of Crimson than it does anything else. As the saxophone fights for supremacy on this segment, the cut becomes a jazz jam. It drops back to its earlier styles to bring it through to the outro, a weird textured sort of effects segment.
Skull Bubbles
Another cut based in a great retro sort of jazzy riffing mode, this one is also in a great groove. The cut feels a bit like a more straightforward take on Queen.
Friends and Family
Beginning with a bluesy sort of piano riff, the cut begins building on that, being another one which feels a bit like Queen, particularly in the vocal harmonies. Guitar enters, building on those same themes. The track keeps reinventing itself, becoming more dramatic, then drops to a more melody driven element that becomes interspersed with off time intrusions and other weirdness. When the song proper enters, it is in a rather off-kilter alternative rock sort of mode. That style lasts for one verse to end the piece.
Kedgeree
Beginning with a rather bouncy sort of guitar mode, other instruments join to begin pulling it into a progressive rock jam sort of style. As the vocals enter, a triumphant sort of sound ensues and the cut feels a bit Spock's Beardish. This is a very expansive and dynamic sort of prog jam that is both one of the strongest compositions on the CD and a fine way to end the album.
 
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