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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Andrew McCutcheon

Second Sun

Review by Gary Hill

On this, his second CD, McCutcheon shows a different side of himself musically. Still firmly rooted in the sounds of the `60`s and `70`s, this release seems to take on more modern alternative sounds as well. The lyrics, as always, are wonderful.

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Track by Track Review
Welcome to Periphery
McCutcheon's vocals seem to welcome us to this album, "Welcome to periphery, The kingdom of the in-between". This bouncy cut features an unusual and rather sparse arrangement. At many times the vocals seem to sound a bit like Lou Reed, but other moments are more soulful and even some Zappa influenced segments show up. The organ sound is quite retro and some of the guitar work seems to call to mind such guitarists as Duane Eddy.
Alive Now
A triumphant sounding rock intro leads to a segment that calls to mind the rockier side of the Moody Blues. The verse seems to combine the sounds of Lou Reed with David Essex and David Bowie. This rocker definitely has progish leanings and the guitar solo has a very psychedelic texture to it.
Twisting and Reeling
Guitar, percussion and spoken word start off this tune in an entertaining and hip manner. The chorus here is quite prog and the vocals to the whole tune are spoken. The keyboard arrangement on this one is quite intricate and beautiful.
With an acoustic alternative sort of mode, this cut has a catchy chorus. The arrangement seems a bit in the mode of Elvis Costello at times. The number also includes a very potent segment of overlaid vocals. This is a rather long and varied composition.
All My Heroes
Beginning in a very triumphant sounding mode, this cut has a texture that seems to combine Tom Petty and Lou Reed. Add to that an arrangement that is quite retro at times, and a Byrdsish instrumental break and you have a very interesting number.
When I Am With You
Featuring a bouncy early `70`s pop rock texture, the vocals on the chorus calls to mind Cream's "I Feel Free".
Darkening Light
Starting with drums, this is a quirky pop rock cut with strong retro leanings and a nice piano solo. "Close your eyes and we'll divide the darkening light."
With A Girl Like You
With a retro sounding alternative rock texture, this one feels quite a bit like The Kinks. "With a girl like you, I could pass for normal, We could crash the formal, Be the king of the world, With a girl like you."
Feeling a lot like twisted rock, this cut is unnerving and a bit strange. It features a very strong guitar solo.
Someone Still Wants You
Bluesy and entertaining, this is a fun cut. "Someone still wants you, Guess I'm that fool, Don't mean to sound cruel, But if I'm gonna be miserable, It might as well be with you, And if I'm gonna be miserable, They you might as well be, too".
Rain Maker
Much of McCutcheon's first disc was very Doors influenced, but the first Doors musical reference on this CD shows up here, in the form of a music and spoken word intro that really does call to mind that band. The remainder of the piece is in very original, retro-based, modern-rock tones. This is one of the stronger tracks on this CD.
Never Break A Psycho's Heart
Starting in a jazzy mode, the cut then moves into more Morrisonish poetry. Next, it cuts into very straightforward `60`s modes. This one is quite fun, and features major dark humor in the lyrics. "She wants to be a movie star, Maybe one day she'll get that far, With a car and a mansion as big as her head, but either way, She'll end up dead, 'Cause I'll be waiting in the dark, To pay her for that broken heart". "Never break a psycho's heart, And if you do, Don't walk alone in the dark". Quite twisted, but still quite funny, this one features a Doorsish instrumental break with some Dick Dale oriented guitar work. The cut then drops back into its jazzy intro to end.
Life Is Too Short
A bluesy rock song, somewhat Dylanesque, it eventually evolves into a jam oriented instrumental section.
Second Sun
Starting in retro tones, this is a somewhat progish number. It has some magical moments and an unusual texture. It features some more Doorsish moments nestled in its complex arrangement.
Hug Your Inner Beast (RainMaker Reprise)
Catchy and bouncy, this brief number really works.
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