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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Norine Braun

Conventus The Eye of the Heart

Review by Gary Hill

This is a pretty good set. The mix of sounds is interesting and musically it’s always good. The only problem is the vocals. At times they work pretty well. At other points, they can be pretty difficult to endure. Overall, though, this is a good set. It could have been great with a little more care in the vocal department.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Lightning Strikes Twice

The guitar riff driven sound that opens this makes me think just a bit of Led Zeppelin. There’s some nice harmonica lending some serious blues to the piece. The vocals bring it more into the psychedelic rock meets blues side of groups like Canned Heat. This is a catchy tune that works well at opening the set.

How Would We Know
This acoustic based tune is a big change. It’s more or less a melodic, but energized jazz tune, but there are hints of reggae in the mix. I like the vocals on this tune better than those on the opener, but the music for that one was stronger. There is some great acoustic guitar soloing here, though. Both songs are quite strong, just for different reasons.
Dizzy
This is even better than the two previous cuts. It’s definitely set more in that jazz sound, but somehow it’s just got an intensification to it. There’s more “oomph” here and the vocal performance is the best we’ve heard to this point. It might lack the crunch of the opener, but it isn’t lacking anything else. There’s even a rap in the midst of this piece.
No More Reprise
While there’s more real blues here, it’s still got a lot of that jazzy texture. It’s got some hints of reggae and some healthy dosages of funk. The harmonica is a nice touch and this is another energized tune that works well.
Boy

Here we get a song that’s more of a pure pop rocker. It’s got an especially tasty guitar solo and some great soaring moments. It’s not that far removed from some of the modern alternative rock based prog out there. There are definitely hints of psychedelic rock in the tune, too.

Today

Musically this song is one of the best. It’s very much in keeping with a psychedelic rock vibe. It’s got a lot of energy and some great moments. The only problem is that the vocals are a bit hard to take at times on this one.

99%
On the one hand there’s a lot of old school blues here. That said, there is a modern vibe to it, too. This almost feels like something Sophie B. Hawkins would do to me. It’s one of the best tunes on the disc.
Take the Sleek Train

Here’s a song that could have been among the best here, but missed the mark a bit. The music is kind of a dreamy sort of trippy progressive rock with a lot of blues in the mix. The vocals soar over the top. Those vocals are the problem, though. At times they work well. At other points they are downright abrasive.

Fire Flames
There is a lot more of a psychedelic rock edge, particularly in the guitar that seems to soar around the edges of this piece. Beyond that, this kind of resembles the previous piece. Beyond that the vocals to this one have a definite tendency to grate on the listener.
The Perfect Love Affair

The vocals here work better and this song has some modern elements, but is more along the lines of vintage jazz. There are some great retro keyboard sounds here.

I Found You

This is one of the best songs on the album. The vocal performance is among the best. A balladic cut, there are hints of jazz and rock in this and a health dosage of country. It’s a great tune.

Conventus

A bouncy number, this works pretty well. The vocals are better than those on a lot of the disc. The change of pace (this is kind of a jazzy electronic vibe with a lot of pop music) is cool. The only real issue is that it seems to go on a bit long to me.

 
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