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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Art Decade

Western Sunrise

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an intriguing disc. It’s very symphonic in nature and combines modern and classic prog sounds into something unique and powerful. Certainly Radiohead is one of the most obvious comparisons, but so is Muse. This covers a lot more territory than either of those comparisons convey, though. However you slice it, it’s a unique and potent set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Lie

A symphonic flourish serves as the introduction to the album as it opens the first song. “A Lie” has a real retro texture in a lot of ways, feeling a bit like Electric Light Orchestra and Klaatu, but there’s a modern edge, as well. Like much of the album, comparisons to Radiohead are certainly appropriate here. Yet some of the vocal arrangement even calls to mind Yes a little.

Western Sunrise
The title track continues the same basic musical themes, but it’s perhaps more tied to modern alternative rock. The drumming really drives it and there’s quite a bit more energy on the tune.
I Try
“I Try” loses most of that alternative rock edge and really has a classic symphonic progressive rock sound with some classic rock styled pop in the mix. There are a lot of symphonic elements built into it. There’s a cool little percussive workout at the end of the piece.
Raspberry Universe

“Raspberry Universe” starts with a very percussive movement before powering out into some seriously energized symphonic prog with its heart in classic prog and its movement in forward thinking modern sounds. This is certainly one of the highlights of the set and features some killer bass work. 

Dandelion Tea
The opening of “Dandelion Tea” calls to mind “Pictures of Matchstick Men” a bit. Then it shifts to sort of a noise rock jam that’s not that far removed from something by Cheap Trick. From there, though, it works out to more of the symphonic modern prog heard on the rest of the set. They return to that noisier jam at times, though.
Breeze
This presents a contrast to the harder rocking sounds of its predecessor. It’s a ballad-like tune that has a lot in common with the symphonic prog and even pop of the 1970s. It’s the mellowest and slowest thing we’ve heard. At times, the Beatles is a valid reference.
Weapon
Here they pound in with distorted noisy plodding sounds. It’s sort of like something Giant Squid might do. Falsetto vocals are heard early here and there is some real funk in the mix. It’s another great tune and a nice change of pace.
Steam Punk Sticker War
“Steam Punk Sticker War” comes in hard edged and almost metallic. There’s a lot of power and energy in the tune. The bass line really drives it and in some ways it feels a bit like Rainbow meets King Crimson. That said, there are some particularly melodic vocal arrangements on the tune.
Daydream
This is bouncy and really pretty pop oriented. It’s perhaps the least proggy tune here, but it’s also quite fun.
Kids and Kings
“Kids and Kings” has a bouncy kind of rhythm section that’s sort of like jazz meets R & B. The melodic parts of the music and vocals, though, have it more in a proggy alternative rock sound..
The Impossible
The closer comes in extremely symphonic and it drops to a ballad-like movement. This calls to mind Muse mixed with Radiohead. Still, there are some Beatles-like moments and it turns out to a more energized section that has a real fusion feeling. Overall, the tune has one of the most dynamic arrangements of the whole set. In a lot of ways it resembles classical music more than it does rock music
 
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