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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Sep7ember

Strange Ways of Going Home

Review by Gary Hill

This band has produced an album with a pretty wide range of sounds. There are hints of metal, punk and power pop merged with more standard and generic modern rock. When they take things in unique directions they shine more than when they are more closely aligned with the usual suspects sound wise. All in all, these guys are quite talented and seem likely to make it pretty big.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
View Into Blur

Starting with an almost punk sound, this powers out to something closer to modern metal. The staccato vocals make me think of Rob Halford and this thing builds gradually with an understated metal sound that’s killer. There’s a great, soaring kind of progressive rock element over the top later.

I Hate NY
The lyrics to this are quite punk rock, but it almost has an Alice Cooper edge to it. Musically it’s more like a modern alternative rocker, but it has a sound and arrangement that avoids the clichés and carries some intriguing changes. It’s catchy and still quite edgy.
Run
This is a little more standard fare. It’s not all the exceptional and falls into almost a power pop range. It’s good, but just pretty generic. There are some interesting layers of sound here, but overall I’m reminded of Cheap Trick mixed with 80s music.
One Thing
The hard rocking sound that drives this is very much like a lot of the music on the radio these days. Still, these guys infuse it with enough power and uniqueness to make this stand taller. If there’s a good example of how modern alternative rock can be both familiar and edgy, this is it. I love the vocals on this one.
So
This starts like a ballad and then becomes a killer melodic rocker. It’s got a lot of power and edge and never really feels derivative. This has a lot of character and is one of the highlights of the set. Still, as good as this album is, it’s hard to pick a standout. All that said, though, there’s a droning rhythm guitar part later that’s pretty clichéd.
Rocket To Somewhere
This cut is done well, and with conviction. It’s really a bit too clichéd to stand out at all, though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good. It’s just not very original.
Carpets
This almost has a Ramones kind of sound, but turned to a modern alternative rock meets metal approach. This is a good tune. It’s not one of the highlights, but it’s catchy and meaty. The fact that it seems sort of middle of the road is more about the strength of the other material here.
Bitterness
Early on there’s a beeping sound, kind of like some satellite signal, that’s pretty annoying. It goes away after a while, but this another tune that’s a bit too generic.
Gods Are Laughing
Now, this is a lot better. It starts off fairly mellow and gradually builds up to something more rocking. It’s still moderately paced and almost calls to mind the Radiohead kind of sound at times. The multiple layers of vocals and shoegaze meets Radiohead turned metal approach both lend a lot to this tune. It’s another highlight.
Superhero Smash Hit Wonder
The early sections of this powerhouse remind me of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky,” but this turns a lot more towards modern metal. It’s not one that grabs you early on, but the riff that drives a lot of this is classic and the sound is great and fairly original.
Remaining Days
This melodic rocker has a lot of that alternative prog sound. It stands out as quite different from the rest of the set, but still fits. It’s a good number that works pretty well. There’s definitely a Radiohead-like section later.
All Quiet
I like the vocal performance on this, but it’s definitely not the most original cut here. It’s got a lot of energy, though, and works pretty well.
So (acoustic)
This bonus track is an acoustic telling of an earlier song. It’s a strong tune that works pretty well in this stripped down approach. It certainly allows the lyrics and vocals to shine.
 
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