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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hemisphere

American Dreams

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is quite interesting. It's perhaps not all progressive rock, but it's almost all jazz rock. Then add in the fact that there is a lot of prog sprinkled throughout, and this really fits under that progressive rock heading. It tends to get a bit too adult contemporary to land completely in my wheelhouse, but it is a very strong and intriguing set of music.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 6. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
America
Energetic and classy, there is a real progressive rock meets 1960s pop rock vibe to this piece. Jazzy Latin elements emerge as it continues. They bring it back toward the proggier side of things for a chorus. Then it works to exploration that lands closer to a fusion sound. There is a drop to a mellower movement for the next vocals. It's explodes outward to another proggy movement from there with multiple layers of vocals.
Dance Club
Prog, musical theater and adult contemporary music seem to merge here. This tune has some energy, but is mellower and more static than the opener was. This one works well, but pales compared to its predecessor. I love the keyboard soloing further down the road.
Big World
Adult contemporary music and jazz rock are the main elements here. The sound is very vintage. This is an accessible and driving piece, but not one of my favorites here.
Transmission
Now, this tune has some of the some elements of the previous cut, but is much more dynamic in nature. It also reaches into some serious prog zones. This makes me think of Toto to a large degree. It's one of the highlights of the set. There are some cool twists along this road, and even turns a bit funky at times.
Home
A mellower cut, this is no less effective. It has plenty of progressive rock and jazz in the mix, but lands more as a ballad. That said, it works out to some more powered up jazzy sounds later.
Where Do We Go Now
I love the vocal dominated groove as this cut begins. The track works out into some classy zones as it continues. Jazz is a dominant element here. The keyboard-based jamming late in the number is so strong. The tune is one the strongest of the whole disc, actually. It has catchy hooks and a lot of meat on the bones.
Letter from NYC to SF
Jazz and rock merge on this piece. It has a driving energy and some cool hooks. It also includes some intriguing changes and tasty solo passages for both saxophone and guitar. 
One Life
A lot of this lands on the mellower end of the spectrum. That cut has plenty of jazz rock and proggy textures.
These Are the Days
A cut with some cool changes, this is one of the most decidedly prog rock tunes here. I dig the guitar fills and the guitar soloing on the number. It still has plenty of jazz in the mix, but definitely lands more on the pure prog side. This is another that makes me think of Toto just a bit.
Sky Full of Stars
This starts mellower. It's dreamy, trippy and very prog-like. As the vocals join it definitely makes me think of the Alan Parsons Project. The guitar puts in some particularly expressive work on this. The cut has a lot of artsy qualities to it. It turns more jazzy further down the road.
America Reprise
I'm guessing you know that this is a reprise of the opening track of the set. They pull in some killer prog rock textures with synthesizer soloing over the top of this version. It makes for a great bookend closing.
 
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