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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Marco Mendoza

Casa Mendoza

Review by Gary Hill

This disc does a great job of combining progressive rock, jazz, funk and a whole lot of other sounds into an album that is quite fun. It rocks out and manages to really take things in unexpected, yet quite appealing, directions. I’d consider this one highly recommended for anyone who enjoys music that crosses boundaries. It might not be purely progressive rock, but I’m happy to consider it fitting into that category.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Living For The City

This is a cover of a Stevie Wonder track. While that reference can be heard at times, it’s just a base of operations. These guys are not confined by that at all. The festivities are led off with some fast paced fusion. The vocals, though, bring in a world music element at first. There are some bits of hip hop even in this. At times this resembles Living Colour. You might even make out Prince here and there. A full on jazz romp is included later. We even get some scat built into the number. It’s quite a dynamic and diverse piece of music.

Trouble
In many ways the musical concepts are the same, but this frantic fusion romp is not anything close to a copy of the previous number. It’s very much like a jazz and prog version of something you might have heard from Living Colour. It’s a real screamer and includes both some powerhouse vocal work and some killer jazz instrumental interplay. The piano is particularly noteworthy, but you can’t discount the guitar either.
Suzy Q
Another cover, this one is a smooth jazz version. The lyrics and vocal melody call to mind the original, but the comparisons really end there. This is one of the most purely jazz-oriented numbers on show. It’s also quite cool and a change of pace from the seeming constant change and fury of the first couple numbers. Some killer scat is included later in the track and a powerhouse crunch guitar based bit is used for some frantic jamming from all involved.
You
Covering much of the same musical territory we’ve heard to this point, the cut has a cool Latin texture added to it. At times you might hear early Santana. Yet there’s a cool movement later in the piece that calls to mind groups like Yes. It alternates nicely between mellower and harder rocking motifs.
Circle Of Live
Here’s some more high energy jazz that careens this way and that with change after change and lots of great soloing. There is some killer keyboard work and this is an instrumental. The standup bass is especially tasty, too.
Kingdom Of Paradise
The Living Colour gone fusion comparison is quite appropriate here. This is another powerhouse jam that really incorporates a lot of sounds without feeling artificial or forced.
Are You There
There’s still a lot of fusion built into this but in many ways it’s more pure progressive rock in a modern vein. There’s a seriously hard rocking movement later that’s along the lines of heavy metal, but with a groove. There’s also a cool jam after that’s got a real atmospheric element with more pure jazz on display. There are some bits there that make me think of Steve Howe a little.
Betty Joe
Mix Lenny Kravitz with a funky jazz sound and throw in a little Parliament. Now you’ve got a good idea of what this track sounds like.
Faith (Interlude)
This is just a short recording of some kids singing “Happy Birthday.”
Crying Out
While jazz and progressive rock overtones are heard, this is overall a mellow rock ballad. It’s a tasty tune. There’s some killer bass work later.
Get Ready
There is a pretty and rather magical feeling to this cut, particularly on the introduction. It’s a tasty balladic number that’s quite cool. It powers up further down the road and again I can hear Lenny Kravitz, but presented in a more progressive rock oriented arrangement. There’s a soaring jam later in the piece, too. There’s a bit of “The Lord’s Prayer” in this later and a cool mellow groove serves as the extended outro. It includes some tasty retro space rock styled keyboards. The actual conclusion is someone singing a song over an answering machine.
You Got A Friend
The final cover of the set, this is a Carole King song. They put in a killer jazz induced rendition that has a lot of Lenny Kravitz and Living Colour built into it.
Bonus Track “Tu”
As you might guess, this is a bonus track. It’s a cool rock meets Latin meets jazz jam that has lyrics in Spanish. It gets pretty involved and it’s quite tasty.
 
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