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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Chocolate Watchband

This is My Voice

Review by Gary Hill

It's still very early times in the year, but I will be shocked if this album doesn't make my "best of 2019" list. It's just such a strong set. In fact, as it stands right now, this is my favorite album of the year. Like I said, it's still early days, but this should rank high by the time the year is over. This band got their start in the 1960s, and there is plenty of that sound here. The ethos of the 60s is represented, too, in part because there is a lot of protest music here, and in part because there are quite a few covers from that era. All in all, if you like killer rock and roll with a 60s edge, give this a try.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Secret Rendezvous
I love the fuzz-drenched sound on the guitar as this starts. They work out to a cut that's part psychedelic rock, part punk and part garage band sound. I can make out some Kiss in the mix here, believe it or not. This is catchy and meaty and so cool.
Judgement Day
There is a cool old school blues vibe built into the opening here. It's stripped back with harmonica wailing out the pain. I'm definitely reminded of the mellower, blues based side of early Led Zeppelin here. Yet there are still signs of the fuzz-laden garage band sound. As this builds outward it makes me think of The Rolling Stones to some degree. As the arrangement fills out later, they scream out with power and fury. The organ brings some killer retro textures. I love this song. It is just so potent.
This Is My Voice
A crack of thunder starts this tune. They work out into a more pure psychedelic rock sound from there. This really feels like something that could have been at home in the 1960s. The guitar sound that soars over the top is almost prog rock like. The lyrics are the modern element of this cut, though. This thing gets so powerful.
Trouble Everyday
Here they cover one of my favorite Frank Zappa songs. I really like this version a lot. They play it fairly faithfully, but still manage to make it their own. The lyrics are updated on this version. I definitely think this stands up to the original. I might even like it better. That says a lot.
Take A Ride
There is a motorcycle at the beginning of this. They work out from there to a tune that feels like "Willie and the Hand Jive." This is a killer slab of retro rocking goodness. The harmonica adds a lot of magic to the proceedings.
Talk Talk
Here's a cover of a song by The Music Machine. I first heard this number when Alice Cooper covered it. While I don't like this version as much as I do that one, the killer psychedelic rock guitar solo and 1960s garage band sound to the guitar really make this special.
Bed
Harpsichord-laced sounds bring this into being. It's a bouncy kind of mellower number. This is another that feels like a slab of the 1960s, The hooks and textures are pure magic.
Bombay Pipeline
Serious psychedelic elements are delivered via sitar sounds at the start of this. The cut grows out from there with a killer jam that has an almost progressive rock based texture to it. This instrumental is Indian styled, fast paced and so cool. The dropped back movement mid-track is a great touch.
Desolation Row
Here they turn their attention to a Bob Dylan song. They bring in this in on acoustic guitar, feeling in line with what you'd expect from Dylan. I've never been a fan of Dylan's singing, but this feels closer to a cross between Arlo Guthrie and John Flynn to me. They turn in a cool folk rock treatment of the track here, with the arrangement growing as the song moves forward. I love the electrified arrangement later in the tune.
I Can't Seem To Make You Mine
A cut originally done by Sky Saxon, this is a cool tune, but not as strong as some of the rest. It is heavily keyboard based, and that's a nice bit of variety. If there is a weak tune here (and I don't think there is), this would be it. It does have a bit of a punky edge to it on the spoken section.
Till The Daylight Comes
This has a sound-clip of Trump at the start of the song. Acoustic guitar starts this track. The tune works out from there as it gets more rocking. I love the guitar work on this thing. It's a hopeful piece as a capper to an album that features quite a bit of protest music.
 
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