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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Missionary Position

Consequences

Review by Larry Toering

This is one hot band that happens to be a NorthWest bunch from Seattle. It's not often you hear such a great blend of alternative oriented rock with horns so heavily featured. One listen to this and the ears are begging for more, as it manages to please on every last note. I hope they get on every radar, much as they recently landed on mine. That is just how highly recommended they are on this disc. I can see this one on my playlist for the entire summer, at the very least.  The list of players are Jefferson Angell on vocals and guitar, Benjamin Anderson keybass, various keyboards and backing vocals, Gregor Lothian on saxophones and Michael Alex on drums. Together they rip and tear everything in sight into tiny little pieces, sweep them up, put them back together and do it all over again on every track this killer disc has to offer.

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
Please Don't Leave
The first few bars instantly ring of Shaft, which is automatically thrilling, but things go into a big horn section frenzy before settling into the overall groove. That groove is based on a heavily jazz rooted inclination combined with alternative rock with a southern vibe wrapped around it. Once this is over you really hope that mix is going to stick throughout the entire disc. I’m glad to report that it does. The addition of trumpet here is provided by John Benedetti. This is madly delivered with both grit and finesse, and the results are ultimately hot and classy.
White Knuckles
This has a slower groove with tremendous vibes, as it crawls along nicely with precise little bursts of horns in all the right places. The lyrics begin to show evidence of what's to come in that department, and on this track they have an overall narrative approach. That’s a commodity of which the disc is full. A lovely Flugelhorn is added here as well by Benedetti.
Leave The Motor Running
This is a nice smoky little piano motif that sets up that track that follows it.
The Objects In The Mirror
The lyrics begin to come on very strong on this one, which results in a definite standout track for me. I start getting a slight punk vibe from the vocals at this point, not unlike that of guitarist/singer Steve Conte. The track starts off with that same jazzy feel but goes into something almost completely different from there without ingoring the horns in the process. This is absolutely fantastic!
One Eye Open
Here comes the funk element in an oh so groovy way, with some killer piano added to this burning example of just what this band is capable. There is a word I use to describe funk, whether it be just elements of it or fully blown, and that is “pedestrian,” which can come off an insult when used to describe such factors in other genres. Here it's purely called for, as this is pure funk, and pure rock at the same time, in every way. The sax solo is more than worth a mention here as well as the lovely honky tonk piano applied.
The Key
Things really slow down here with a melancholy ballad delivered at just the right time. This is equally  brash as it is beautiful. Every song on the disc could benefit from mentioning lyrics, with an example like “Don't Fall in love / In case you haven't heard / The instructions aren't included / It's a four letter word,” one can see where I'm going with that, as this is the kind of phrasing to be found on every number. This is just simply another mind blowing track.
Every Man For Himself
This is where the reality begins to really set in, and the result is becoming more evident that not only is this a killer band instrumentally, but the vocals are as much a feature as anything else they have to offer. This even contains pretty touches. How they get away with this combo effect is mystifying, indeed. There is so much soul in this track alone, yet it rocks all over the place. Man alive, talk about fitting titles. And not often do I find profanity in lyrics necessary, but here I can actually appreciate them, as I get angry along with the singer as they're delivered.
Neon City Nightclub
This is another lovely, albeit brief, little instrumental with that smoky factor once again kicking in with the sax doing the work nicely. As with the previous non-vocal number, this really just serves to set up the following number.
How It Feels
After being led properly in, this has a big groove and a wide open sound for one of the more direct approaches to what this band does. The sax is cleverly applied to an outstanding effect here, with breathtaking swirls the like of which I’ve never heard before.
Outside Looking In
This is another stripped back number, but unlike the previous tune it's not a musical arrangement. Instead, the singing is done over some handclapping and nothing else but a kick drum and brief use of cymbals. This appropriately gets the message across with no need for any other musical trappings.
Everything All Over Me
The big band element is found all over this one, and it's another that proceeds to impress, as it just kicks rocks all over the place. There is less to describe going on here except that it jams as much as anything else in the set. There are just more gigantic vibes here, complete with very wild scratchy guitar licks to keep it spicy.
When I Fall Apart
This has the slowest groove on the disc, but the smoothest as well, and somehow cleverly contains everything from gospel to country flavors. It features Barrett Martin on percussion and upright bass, as well as additional guitar by Kris Green and backing vocals by Kolleen Klanin.
Money To Burn & Time To Kill
This band knows how to control their momentum, as this doesn't follow the “throwaway number at the end of the disc” routine. More killer guitar is applied to this, as it does serve to be one of the harder numbers on offer. All in all, it's a great way to end a unique release by an equally unique outfit.

 

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