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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Soft Underground

Lost in Translation

Review by Gary Hill

This is an unusual set. It has moments that are definitely heavy metal. Some of it is well rooted in grunge. Other things land near progressive rock. Yet, it all works together to establish a consistent identity somehow. There are some incredible songs here. There is really no weak material, only stuff that’s not as strong as the rest. This is a solid album with moments of greatness.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Psychedelic Audio

Tasty feedback laden weirdness opens this. The cut eventually pounds out to a scorching jam that’s very much in a stoner rock style. This is plodding and so cool. The vocals and the entire arrangement lend a trippy kind of vibe to the incredibly hard rocking music. It’s such a perfect opening shot. There is a melodic, rather catchy chorus and some tasty melodic guitar soloing, too.

Dreamers
A screaming hot metal riff opens this. The song has an old school hard rock vibe with some modern metal in the mix. The vocals bring a bit of a psychedelic texture. The guitar solo section on this is both noisy and on fire.
Rockstars & Razorblades
The riff driving this has a definite old school punk sound. The vocals are more in line with the psychedelia that shows up here. Yet, there is also some definite metal at play. This is another killer cut that shows yet a different side to the sound of this act.
Why Can't I Sleep?
A mellower segment opens this. It is alternated with a harder rocking movement. The combination makes this like a power ballad. That said, this isn’t really metal. It’s more of a modern alternative rock with some psychedelia in the mix. The closing instrumental section even works out toward progressive rock.
Limousine
I like this song alright, but it’s not at the same level as the ones that came before it. It’s just a bit average on the choruses. There are some jazzy things in the mix on the verses, though. This is psychedelia meets DIY alternative rock. It is catchy. On a different album, it would be a highlight. There is just so much great competition here.
Is the Wolf
Mellower guitar starts this and the cut works out to a melodic jam from there. This is powerful. It’s part psychedelia and part alternative rock. It’s also a great song. It’s very different from a lot of the rest, but somehow it fits. Somehow it makes me think of The Doors just a bit.
To Silhouette
This energetic and rather catchy. It’s more pure alternative rock, but there is definitely some punk and psychedelia built into this thing. It’s not my favorite tune here, but that’s more about the surrounding musical quality than it is about this song.
Right Between Her
Perhaps the most unusual track here, much of this is mellow. It’s rather trippy and definitely like modern progressive rock in a lot of ways. There is a psychedelic rock edge. As strange as this piece is, it’s also compelling.
Paper Stars
Accessible, melodic alternative rock is the musical concept here. It does turn crunchy late in the piece. This is good, but not at the level of some of the rest.
Untrue
Acoustic jamming starts this. The cut feels very much like a melodic grunge styled tune. This is a cool rocker for sure. It’s a bit punky. It’s also a definite change of pace.
Molasses
Although this starts mellow, it’s still heavy. This is very much a stoner rock styled cut. When it powers out later to something a bit like Clutch, that becomes even more apparent. There is still a grunge edge to this thing. It’s definitely one of the stronger tracks here. Given some of the competition, that says a lot. The closing instrumental movement gets noisy and reminds me of Electric Wizard. Perhaps that part drones on a bit too long, but it’s cool. It ultimately segues into the next cut.
Satellite
The noisy drone from the previous tune starts this. Mellower, acoustic music rises up and struggles to take command. The resulting contrast is trippy, psychedelic and very proggy. As a piano melody emerges and the guitar part gains ground, that noisy backdrop is still there. This instrumental is weird, but also very cool. It’s very much a prog rock (but the modern version of the genre) thing.
 
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