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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Summer Rain

Tye Dye

Review by Gary Hill

There is a certain sound that bands from the midwest have, especially on the vocals. All you have to do is listen to such diverse groups as Cheap Trick, Off Broadway and Enuff Znuff to hear what I mean. What does that have to do with Summer Rain you might ask? They aren't from the midwest. Well, no, they aren't, but if you compare their vocal approach to the aforementioned bands, you might think that they were. That midwest sound, most associated with power pop, seems to be the rule of the day with this outfit. In fact, overall a retro tinged power pop sound with some alternative rock leanings could be said to be the style of this group.

"Tye Dye" is their latest release, and finds the band putting down a fairly diverse (in terms of overall range) set of tunes. While that range is wide, the majority of the songs unfortunately fall into a narrow band, making a lot of them seem much too similar. It can lead to a listening experience that drags and bogs down at points. That said, this is still a strong album. None of the tunes on offer are dogs, and in fact, some of them really shine. If you enjoy alternative pop rock with retro elements, you really should check these guys out - they might be your next new band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Now
This cut jumps in with a pretty straightforward power pop sound. It's not overly catchy, but still works fairly well.
A Long Drive
This comes in with a lot more punky approach, but yet the vocals still have a very midwest power pop sound ala Off Broadway and other such bands. This has a fairly complicated arrangement with overlayers presenting varied elements earlier and a full on change to a more stripped down segment later. The lyrics are full of punk angst.
Window Sills
The one is mellower and rather psychedelic, feeling a bit like a cross between the '60's psychedelia outfit H. P. Lovecraft and early Grateful Dead. What a shit, though, as they turn it into a heavy, more standard alternative rock sound later. The eventually combine those two sounds.
Sublunatic
Percussion starts this and the poppier edge is back, feeling very power pop in this arrangement.
Breath
This is a more balladic stripped down rocker based on '60's psychedelia. It gets a little heavier later, but doesn't move far from its origins.
April Anymore
Another balladic one, this don't differ much from its predecessor.
Down That Road
Now this is a much-needed change of pace, coming in a lot like Neil Young's Crazy Horse. The vocals aren't much different than the previous material, but the grungy metal guitar sound makes this one a good change up. The arrangement on this, with its spoken word sound bit overlayers and powerhouse e vocal romp later is quite cool This is one of my favorite tracks on the disc.
Everything's Fine
A pretty acoustic guitar starts this one, and it begins in a more pretty acoustic ballad style. They ramp it up a bit, but that folk rock theme carries on. It drops later to just acoustic guitar the moves back up. This is another quite effective track.
Into Psychedelia
While one might expect this to come in as a flowers and beads jam by the title, instead it is a dramatic and powerful mid tempo rocker. The performance here is very powerful and evocative. This is a strong rocker jumping up in speed and intensity later.
Stand And Fall
This one is another good alternative rocker with solid classic rock leanings, but it's a bit too generic. At least by this point, the band's take on this genre has gotten just a little stale.
Numb
This pretty basic rocker has its moments, but by this point the sameness is becoming numbing.
Broken
This one has more of a tentative approach, making it a bit of a change of pace, and a bit of a standout. They jump it back up later to something that is a bit like the previous material, but its powerful arrangement pulls it far above the earlier songs. This one is a killer.
There Are Days
This is a garagey rocker whose raw texture is actually a bit of a bonus. This is pretty punky and rather cool.
Taking All Of My Time
This balladic one is pretty and well conceived. It gets rather involved and quite interesting. While it seems a little questionable to close with a mellower track, this one rocks out just enough to be effective. Besides, it's not actually the closer.
Hidden Track
Several minutes of silence give way to this somewhat weird psychedelically tinged prog rock type number. This may well be the best track on the album. It's definitely the most unique.

 
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