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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Marsh

The Marsh

Review by Gary Hill

This is another band that's really hard to pin a label on. In many ways they have a lot in common with '60's rockers, but I also hear Niacin, Pink Floyd, Yes, Jellyfish, It Bites and even punk rock in their particular mix. I'm including them in progressive rock because they do have some leanings and that direction and they certainly challenge the borders of musical genres. Besides where do you put a band that doesn't have any guitar, instead relying on keyboards? This is another that might be a little hard to try to find, but you can drop by their myspace profile for sound samples and lots more information.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Seasons
A cool bouncing sort of progression with a major retro sound makes this one up. It seems a bit like a cross between Jellyfish and It Bites. The vocals tend to be more punk rock oriented, feeling like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Stiv Bators. The overall effect is that of a pop oriented, if weird proggy cut. An organ solo lends a nice 1960's texture to this cut.
8 Years Long
Here you'll get the feeling (other than the vocals) that you've wandered in to some jam session by the Animals. It's got that vintage R & B blues texture to it. As they move out into the differently timed segment I even hear some White Witch in this mix. They pull quite a few intriguing changes into this song structure and some pretty intriguing retro textured jams.
It Was Only Yesterday
A fifties sort of groove is met with more retro sixties tinged sounds. The vocals on this one annoy me a little, but the overall composition of the piece of music makes up for it. This one has a great retro feeling. They have a lot of interesting changes on the arrangement of this one, too. The vocals don't bother me nearly as much later. This varies between challenging rock and bouncy retro pop. They even include a full on jazz segment on this one. There is also a smoking organ solo here.
Stars and Scars
As the piano starts this one off I half expect to hear the opening lines of "Rocket Man" by Elton John. Instead this builds into something that feels a bit like Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon era - albeit with very different vocals. As this eventually rises up into a new jam you can hear moments of early Yes and even Deep Purple here. The Pink Floyd textures, though, really predominate in a lot of ways. This is probably my favorite piece on the album. As always, they seem to have no regard for standard patterns of song building, instead moving in an almost poetic stream of consciousness approach to their composition. The thing is, this is all catchy music. A stacatto jam later almost makes me think of Emerson Lake and Palmer a bit.
Beginning to See the Truth
As they kick this one off the Deep Purple sounds are prevalent. They run through with this hard rocking approach for a while, but then drop back to more of a Jellyfish type approach for the verse. This groove begins to be alternated with that harder DP like segment as the track carries onward. The keyboard solo later is a real screamer and the progression that it is based on feels like a cross between DP and ELP. They drop it back to more playful mellower sounds to carry forward from there, though. It moves back upward after a time as they move through more varied segments.
We Said No
The piano segment that starts this is quite pretty, and it moves outward after the intro into another very effective balladic segment. This has such a great classic rock sound here that it's almost scary. The Yes Album era Yes sounds turn up here a bit, along with a healthy dosage of old Genesis, but still in a mix that is all The Marsh. As always the changing themes of this band's songs are hard to get a grip on. It's like trying to catch a dream. Let's just say that this is one of the strongest tracks on the disc, and probably the one that more than the rest shows off their progressive rock leanings.
Won't You Please
This one starts with a slow ballad approach with a major retro feel. This seems in many ways like a very old bluesy R & B (even back to when that style was called "soul") piece. The thing is it resolves out later into more harder rocking territory ala Deep Purple. They move it between these two stylings, but pound out in a smoking prog-like jam later with a killer keyboard solo.
Lie Back Down
Piano starts this one off in a balladic mode. As the vocals enter there is something creepy and a little psychotic about the texture. This it moves along with a jazzy sort of rocking approach, again with sort of a stream of consciousness approach to the changes. This cut doesn't differ from the musical elements of the rest of the album much, but it is a very solid dosage of the type of medicine these guys dish out. In fact, it's one of the stronger pieces here, and therefore a good choice to close the disc.
 
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