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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Serapicos

Serapicos Is a Town

Review by Gary Hill

Psychedelic sounds and other retro elements are on display at points here. Some jazz shows up at times. Overall, though, this is alternative rock that’s a bit jarring in a lot of ways. For one thing, the arrangements are packed with tasty weirdness that manages to often be off-kilter and catchy at the same time. In addition, at lot of the vocals seem to be played for a dissonant effect rather than melodic insights. That means this is a little tough for mainstream audiences to take, but has plenty of alternative rock charm at the same time.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
There Is No Satisfaction

After a noisy little introduction this fires out into a bouncing kind of slightly off-kilter jam that’s part punk, part alternative rock and all cool. There’s a cool jazzy jam later in the piece. It’s really quite a dynamic number and features some great music and strong vocal performance.

Blow Me

A cool funky guitar bit starts this, but it works out from there into a jam that makes me think of The Grateful Dead. There is a cool retro soulful section later in the piece.

Artists Are Crazy

As good as the first two cuts were, this one drops down a bit, mainly due to some vocals that are hard to take. It’s a quirky and strange tune that combines world music with modern alternative rock and psychedelia.

Pee Pee Jazz

A slow moving and playful music arrangement serves as the background for vocals that sometimes provide more for the jarring approach.

Lucky Numbers

Slow moving alternative rock sounds a bit like something from Camper Van Beethoven open this. The vocals bring a different angle, but this grows up into something that has a quirky alternative pop texture. It’s definitely a step up from the previous couple pieces, especially when the arrangement gets a revamping in terms of volume level and pace. It drops down mid-track to a bit of world music and then comes back out with more of that alternative rock sounds.

Inspire Me

Non-lyrical vocals open this and it turns out to bouncy kind of retro textured pop rock sound from there. There are 1950s music elements in this piece.

The Sexiest Girl in the World

Percussion opens this and then it works out to slightly strange alternative pop sound from there. We get some killer music and non-lyrical female vocals near the end, changing the whole character of the piece and really elevating it.

Balloon

There’s a bouncing kind of 1950s rock and roll element to the music here. The vocals seem to challenge traditional melodic concepts, serving as dissonance to the pop-kind of musical approach.

The Egg Song

Here we get a more hard rocking tune that’s definitely more modern in scope. This is a step back in the right direction. It’s an alternative pop rock number with a lot of energy.

When Your Husband's Away

An acoustic ballad approach opens this. It’s slow moving. The vocals are really the thing that shifts this towards the strange end of the spectrum as they again challenge traditional melodic precepts.

I Just Want To Be Your Friend

There’s a cool alternative pop approach here. The quirky, slightly anti-melodic texture is heard here, too.

Love Pills

Almost like a lullaby, the lyrics and vocal delivery turn this into something much stranger than that.

Russian Roulettes & Persian Carpets

Some cool keyboard sounds open this with a retro psychedelic texture. It drops to something more akin to musical theater with more of that world sound in the mix. The vocals here are more melodic than on some of the other cuts. There are some particularly cool musical moments on this thing. It’s a slow moving groove and it’s also one of the best tunes of the whole set.

Sexy Julia

Drums bring this one in and then a killer retro sound climbs up with non-lyrical female vocals lending a lot of flavor. It works out to an alternative rock arrangement that’s brought into the weirder zone mostly via the vocals. There are some cool retro rock and roll moments and a tasty guitar solo is heard in the piece, too.

Serapicos Is a Town

A slow moving tune, this is quite ballad-like and the vocals lend the alternative rock textures here. Additional layers are added to the mix as this develops.

 
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