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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Michael Cullen

True Believer

Review by Gary Hill

It’s hard to pinpoint this or land it in one particular place. There’s a lot of Americana here, but things like folk music and old time rock and roll are joined by Goth rock and Pink Floyd like elements. This is a unique set. It’s also an entertaining one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Black Dog

What a cool song this is. There is a rather Goth rock like sound to it in a lot of ways. The vocals are mostly spoken and quite deep. This is dark, but also dramatic and powerful. There is a lot of Americana in the mix, and it’s just such a great opener.

Believer
This is quite like the first song. The organ, though, lends more of a retro vibe here. This is quite a strong piece, but not different enough to stand up to the power of that first song. Still, it has its moments, particularly later.
Nothing Special
More like a folk rock song, this is cool stuff. It’s definitely got some variety and is more mainstream and “song-like” in terms of vocal delivery. This actually is something special. The horn section later is a great touch, too.
Black Coffee and Cigarettes
As good as the first few songs were, there are moments of this that are so dissonant that they are hard to sit through. This is a fairly complex song structure, but it feels very amateurish. If there’s a song to skip, this is it. It does improve in the later sections, though.
Damaged
Keyboards and what sounds like a drum machine form the backdrop on this piece. This is sparse, mellow and incredibly cool. It really makes me think of Pink Floyd quite a bit. Other instrumentation does enter later in the piece, but it never really rises up much.
Cha Cha Cha d’Amour
Based more on Americana, there is a trippy quality that works quite well on this. It’s a nice bit of variety.
I Walk Alone
The keyboards on this add a lot to the mix. There is still some of that Americana here along with some old time rock and roll. That said, there is a lot about this that makes me think of Pink Floyd. It also gets quite progressive rock oriented in general at times. This is probably my favorite piece of the whole disc.
I Never Knew
The arrangement on this, particularly early on, is more sparse. It doesn’t lose any points for that, though. In fact, this one just oozes cool. It’s one of my favorites here. It’s another that hints at Pink Floyd and progressive rock in general.
Broken Horses

More of a straightahead rocker, this is good stuff. It’s one of the more mainstream pieces here, but still has a lot of the odd Americana element we’ve heard throughout. It’s great music, though.

 
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