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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents


Review by Gary Hill

The list is getting rather crowded, but this a contender for my best of 2018 list. Then again, you can pretty much count on The Residents for releasing music that works well for me. The Residents are always intriguing in that their sound is dark and tastefully weird, but has a mainstream sort of edge to it. This album captures that really well. The CD comes in a nice heavy-duty book type package. That packaging includes a nice booklet with pictures and the lyrics.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Bobbie's Burning Blues
Slightly strange piano opens this. Other elements add some oddities over the top of that. Female vocals come in for a few lines. The cut gets more developed and powered up from there. The vocals returns as this piece continues to evolve. There are alternating extended instrumental sections and vocal based ones. This is quite electronic and dark in a lot of ways, but there are also symphonic elements and organic things here. This is a very special piece of music and a great way to start the set in style.
Voodoo Doll
There is a trippy kind of Americana guitar sound at the heart of a lot of this. There are some female backing vocals, but the lead ones are male here. This has a cool energy and groove to it. It's also dramatic and tastefully odd. Those female vocals bring an almost operatic element near the end of the piece.
The Scarecrow
The sounds of crows begin this. The cut gradually grows outward from there. With horn sounds and tasty guitar, this is almost mainstream. I mean, it's The Residents, so you know that it's not going to get too mainstream, but there is a mainstream edge to it. It shifts down to a more electronic mellower movement that's far from mainstream, though. In fact, that's almost creepy. Once the weird vocal comes over the top of that, it is definitely creepy and unsettling, particularly when the weird slowed down vocal is added to it. This works out to a horn soaked section from there that has some jazzy tendencies. It moves to trippy electronic based sounds after that for more of those vocals.
Frank's Lament
Noisier, this still manages to be dark and trippy. It's also twisted with weird bits coming in from different angles. It drops to a mellow atmospheric section for the vocals. There is more rocking stuff for a bit, but it drops back to the mellower for the final vocal movement.
Missing Me
There is almost  a Motown groove to this. Female vocals are back on this cut. There are some spoken male vocals further down the road. This evolves and grows, moving toward psychedelia at times. While it's definitely a bit twisted toward the tastefully strange end of the spectrum, this has one of the more mainstream sounds of anything here. It's also one of my favorite cuts of the disc.
Still Needy
Electronics bring this into being. As it shifts toward more rocking, horn and guitar sounds both drive this thing in cool ways. The voice that enters later has an almost robotic vibe to it. This cut pounds forward getting some symphonic elements added to the mix. It's another powerhouse number. It's another of my favorites, too.
The Other
There is a classical basis to this, but it's delivered with trademark Residents sounds. This is another standout tune that works so well. It's dramatic and powerful and almost mainstream.
Good Vibes
Trippy echoey textures serve as the background for a spoken bit. There are some other musical elements that rise up as this continues. After a while, as this has built up toward a more powered up but freaky element, some processed, strange vocals emerge. Beyond that segment we get some rather King Crimson-like guitar work that emerges. After that movement it drops back down for the return of the original voice. This gets a parental advisory.
Endless And Deep
More trippy Residents stuff, this is dramatic, dark and so cool. It has some freaky movements and really works well. It like the balance between the more powered up and mellower sections of the cut.
Running Away
I dig the energy and trippy electronic groove of this piece. It's fast paced and a bit psychotic and paranoid. There is some crazed carnival music in the mix at points, and this is just so freaky and cool. There is a rather fusion-like section further down the road. There is a tasty guitar based rocking movement further down the road. It features some killer guitar fills and brings it into more of a King Crimson-like vein. Of course, this is still trademark Residents.
Coming in a bit tentatively, this powers up into some of the most dramatic music of the disc. There is an insistent kind of driving soundtrack music element to it. As it shifts to the vocal section it has more of a pure progressive rock element. The vocals are of the female variety. It drops from there to some trippy atmospherics. A spoken male vocals come over the top. After this section we get a more mainstream progressive rock building with an electronic edge to it. The female vocals return for this movement, and the piece continues its evolution. Around the five minute mark it explodes into a powered up section that has both male and female vocals. That portion of the track is so powerful. It serves as the parting shot.
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