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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tautologic

Wheels Fall Off

Review by Gary Hill

I reviewed a previous set from this Chicago act. In that review I mentioned that the music was unusual, and even a little odd, but yet compelling. Well, some of the alternative rock weirdness mentioned in that review is still present here, but in some ways this moves more toward more mainstream prog and jazz styled sounds. That said, there is still enough quirkiness to keep it unique. However you slice it, this is another particularly successful release from a very talented act.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Wheels Fall Off (Intro)
This short introduction has some children reciting a verse over some ambient elements.
That's What I Hear
This comes in with a cool jazzy groove. It drops down a bit for the entrance of the vocals. The tune rises back upward for the chorus. this is a cool and unique prog tune. The powerhouse closing movement is so strong.
Memo To Yourself
I dig the unusual riff that opens this. It has a bit of a Fripp vibe to it, but with some roots music in the mix. The vocals come in over the top of this stripped back arrangement. As it grows outward it makes me think of what you might get if you merged Frank Zappa with The Residents and The Beatles. This is tastefully odd and also quite strong. There are reggae elements at play as well as jazz ones. The lyrics to this are funny. This is a largely playful tune.
Rocket Surgery
The prog instrumental work on this is so strong. We get great shifts and changes and a real epic feeling. The cut is nearly seven-and-a-half minutes long, so perhaps not a true epic, but definitely leaning in that direction. It's also one of the highlights of the disc. It has a real classic prog vibe with some various angles. Violin calls to mind Kansas at times. There is a full jazz break, too. This instrumental number is just so strong.
Fat, Dumb, and Happy
A bouncy kind of alternative rock number, this has a lot of energy and groove to it. Proggy, jazzy and entertaining all apply to this cut.
Covered In Grit
There is both female vocals and a lot of funk in this number. The cut is so much fun. They don't lose the prog elements in the process, though. Horns bring jazz and there are some definite Zappa-like things at play on this.
Exit Strategy
Another instrumental, this is also another prog powerhouse piece. There is so much great musical exploration here. The sounds are often classic, but also modern.
Summer, 1995
With female vocals and a lot of style, this is strong. This is perhaps not really proggy during the first half, but it does have some jazzy concepts at play. Around the midway point it explodes out into an instrumental movement that's packed full of jazzy prog.
High School Reunion
Another bouncy alternative pop styled song, this is entertaining. The instrumental break again takes us into jazzy prog zones. There is some particularly classy guitar soloing on the tune.
Wheels Fall Off
The bouncy alternative elements merge with the proggier concepts pretty perfectly here. This is a strong tune.
 
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