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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Kicklighter

The Fascinating Thinking Machine

Review by Gary Hill

I like this set a lot. Not everything here is great, but a lot of it is. Even the stuff that misses the “great” mark is still pretty darned good. This is solid pop rock. It’s accessible throughout with solid songwriting and performances. It should be noted that Kicklighter is more or less a one man band, but I don’t have all the credits to verify that fact in terms of this recording.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Until You See the Sun

Strange keyboard sounds start this. It grows out from there, eventually turning into a cool pop music vibe. This is catchy and just tasty. There are some nods to glam rock on this.
Says a Tender Mind
This track lands under progressive rock. The thing is, it’s got a modern prog vibe, but there are also retro elements at play. It’s catchy. Yet, it’s also complex. This is a great tune that even surpasses the opener.

 

Building a Robot
On the one hand, this shares the catchy hook concept with the other two songs. Beyond that, though, this one is completely different. It’s very much a folk rock kind of tune. It would have felt at home in the 1970s in a lot of ways. It is definitely a great number, though.
The Sultan of Brunei
In some ways this is similar to the last piece. It has a bit of a jazzy element, though. The give and take dual vocal arrangement is great. There are parts of this that make me think of Steely Dan a bit. This is one of the best tunes here, really.
After the Healing
I like this one a lot. The basic concept doesn’t change a lot, but the jazzy groove on this one just works so well. The hooks are strong and all the instrumental touches are just about perfect.
When Howie Dressed Me Down
A more straightahead rocker, there is some funk built into this. It’s not bad, but it’s just not at the same level as some of the rest here.
The Professor
This is another that just doesn’t stand as tall as a lot of the rest. The rocker is just lacking some intangible thing. It’s just nothing all that special.
I’ve Been Thinking
Now, this is more like it. Combining alternative pop with classic rock, this is catchy. It just has a lot of magic in the mix. It’s one of the highlights here.
Kid
Here is another packed with great moments. It’s a rocker, but it’s also folk-oriented in a lot of ways. It’s a real pop-oriented tune, too. It’s a winner, that’s for sure.
Saying Goodbye
I love this song. It is basically a balladic piece. It has some great vocal elements and the whole song is just so well constructed. It’s rather jazzy, but also has a great folk music feeling at play.
The Libertarian
This bonus track is pretty good, but not exceptional. Then again, it is a bonus track.
 
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