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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents

The Tunes of Two Cities

Review by Gary Hill

The second album of a planned series that were intended to work as an extensive concept work, this is a bit more accessible than its predecessor. There is definitely more jazz in the mix, too. Yet, it is still decidedly The Residents with all that tasty weirdness that implies. I like this album better than the one that came before, but it's actually really close. It should be noted that I've reviewed this here as a retro review, but also as part of a new box set. I strongly recommend getting it that way as there are plenty of bonus things on the disc itself, and it's just one of six CDs in the set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Serenade For Missy
Horn sounds bring this into being. As it moves forward the cut takes on a playful kind of jazzy arrangement. It feels like a twisted sort of version of 1940s music.
A Maze of Jigsaws
This thing is noisy, creepy and so cool.
Mousetrap
More jazz starts this. The cut grows into a vaguely playful kind of number that seems a bit like the opener, but with a much more twisted and strange nature at its heart.
God of Darkness
Percussive and alien sounding, there is something that feels alive to this number. There is a strange tribal element that emerges later .
Smack Your Lips (Clap Your Teeth)
Bouncy, jazzy and quite tasty, I like this number quite a bit. It has a real playful kind of vibe to it in the opening section. Noisy guitar textures drive over the top for a time around the one-minute mark, but they drop away and the track continues in a similar fashion that which started it.
Praise For The Curse
Percussive in nature, this has a cool trippy element as it starts. It gets into some noisier electronic territory as it continues driving forward. It drops back down, but there is a new entity heard in the percussive arrangement as it continues. As it gets more rocking, it seems twisted and altered in weird ways.
The Secret Seed
There is a fun sort of percussive element here. It's like weird dance music.
Smokebeams
Jazz, rock and more merge on this cool jam. It has a real retro vibe, but twisted through the odd sonic vision that is The Residents.
Mourning The Undead
Percussive and electronic, this is tastefully strange.
Song Of The Wild
Keyboard dominated and almost processional, this is intriguing.
The Evil Disposer
More percussive, there is a weird tribal element at play on this track. It gets noisy and a bit unsettling.
Happy Home (Excerpt From Act II Of "Innisfree")

Electronic and both jazzy and classical in nature, there is a more mainstream element to this cut in a lot of ways. Mind you, it's still suitably strange and twisted. It is The Residents, after all. There are some rather operatic vocals that lend weirdness, and also tie this into the previous album.

 
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