Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mike Keneally

Scambot 2

Review by Gary Hill

I have been impressed with Mike Keneally since the first time I heard him. Like King's X, Keneally can take music that's decidedly left of center and make it catchy. That's impressive. The most obvious comparison is to Frank Zappa, but that's only so accurate. All in all this new double disc set is quite strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 6 at
Track by Track Review
Disc 1
In The Trees
Angular and rather metallic, this is an unusual cut. There are definitely things here that call to mind Frank Zappa. Still other parts are more tied to modern metallic prog. References to King's X wouldn't be completely out of place. This is dramatic and rather strange. It's also oddly catchy and compelling. It's an excellent way to start things in style.  Around the half way mark (this is over ten minutes in length) this works into a cool driving melodic movement that's almost jazz. It eventually works back out into the earlier type of stuff to carry on beyond that.
Roots Twist
This rocker is a bit more mainstream. It feels to me a bit like a cross between something like King's X and modern King Crimson. It's another exceptionally strong piece of music. It features some powerhouse guitar.
Although this does have some crunchy sections, it lands more in the melodic, slightly mellower end of the spectrum. It's perhaps more mainstream rocking and less proggy. Yet, there are bits that are decidedly prog like. This is one of the most accessible cuts here.
Coming in with nearly pure fusion, this moves forward along those lines. It shifts to quirky directions as it drops down. There is some particularly cool guitar work on this thing. The cut has some intriguing changes, too.
Forget About It
This short instrumental is quirky and quite symphonic.
The way this piece seems to wrap around itself, "Pretzels" is a good name for it. It's part prog and part fusion. The piece has a number of changes and varied movement. It makes good usage of balance between mellower and more rocking territory.
Although generally there is no huge stylistic change, the vocals and killer melodic guitar soloing really make this stand out. It's an exceptional piece. In fact, it might be my favorite of the disc.
Race The Stars
There are almost some hints of country music here. This rocker is oddly mainstream. It has a lot of fusion and prog built into it.
This instrumental is just a little less than a minute and a half in length. It's energized and quite cool, while still remaining a bit sparse and trippy. 
There is a real old school heavy metal element at play here. Yet this has the same powerhouse slightly off-kilter yet catchy Keneally vibe. The scorching hot fired up guitar soloing later is seriously awesome.
This mellower cut has jazz and even some country in the mix. It's a nice change of pace. It's also still proggy enough to keep it from moving the bar too far out of the prog rock vicinity.
Freezer Burn
Soaring melodic prog is the order of business here. This instrumental is dynamic and classy.
Scores Of People
For some reason, this makes me think of Queen just a bit. The cut is psychedelic, jazzy and very creative. It has an almost soulful vibe at the same time. There is a section mid-track that's quite classical in nature. There are also more Zappa-like reference points built into this.
Cold Hands Gnat
The vocals on this are really strange. They make this into a pretty bizarre little number. I believe they are supposed to sound like the gnat singing. Musically this is a bit on the mellower end of the spectrum with folk music and jazz seeming to merge.
The opening of this has an almost Steely Dan-like vibe to me. There is some of that sound as the cut continues but with more King's X and Frank Zappa in the mix.
Disc: 2


There is a lot of jazz built into this cut. In fact, in a pinch, I'd call this short instrumental "quirky fusion."

More of a folk music like number in some ways, this still has the same kind of off-kilter concepts that we've gotten used to on this disc.
Coming in rather textural, this grows very gradually. An instrumental, it never really rises too far beyond it's origins, but has some intriguing segments nonetheless.
The mix of sounds here is intriguing. It has these fast paced bursts of craziness. There is a mellower, almost folk music kind of element at play a lot of the time, too.
The Coma
This is a technical and rather crazed hard edged number.
I Named You

Mellow and rather like chamber music at the start, this builds gradually from there.

This instrumental is very crunchy and energized.
O Elastic Love!
This is another rather freaky instrumental.
I dig the cool slightly off-kilter groove of this killer tune. The vocals almost bring some soulful elements to the table. This makes me think of the more modern eras of King Crimson for sure. There is some scorching guitar work built into this song. There are also some intriguing melodic moments. The closing section is actually rather trippy, and this is an extensive piece of music.
Mystery Song
This is a four second blast of shred power.
A little over thirty seconds long, this is another rather quirky instrumental.
The Scorpions
Fusion is very much the idea on this cut. It has some definite freeform wanderings.
Skating Backwards
Organ makes up more than the first minute of this. Then other elements join and the cut continues in more or less a straight, but slightly altered line from there. The keyboards remain the driving factor.
This is a powerful and dynamic piece of extended fusion styled music. It's quite classy stuff. There is a really trippy bit mid-track.
This is really strange with some supposed news coverage over sound effects.
Another short bit of oddity, this is classy.
Back It Up
More of a mainstream rocker, this is actually catchy.
Melodic and yet a bit on the crunchy side, this is another with a healthy dosage of fusion.
Uncompressed Rag
This is really very much an old school jazz styled cut.
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Progressive Rock

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./