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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Residents

Present The Bunny Boy

Review by Gary Hill

I know a lot of people are probably going to quibble with my putting The Residents in under progressive rock. I have to say their form of weirdness really isn’t far from RIO (Rock In Opposition). Besides some of the material here even sounds like King Crimson. I’ll admit we don’t get a single extended length song and this is quite tongue in cheek, but I will stick by my decision. I’ve always liked this group, but this is the first CD of theirs I’ve owned. It’s amazing to me how a bunch of musicians can take music this weird and make it so infectious. As odd as this disc is I like it a lot.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Boxes of Armageddon
First off, you’ve got to love the title. The pounding sort of song structure is quite cool and somehow reminds me of modern King Crimson. There is a great (albeit short) solo segment that truly makes you think of KC. They drop it way back down to a stripped down arrangement after this section. We get a reprise of the solo segment, though. This wanders out into Crimsonian weirdness to end.
Rabbit Habit
Bass leads us off here and holds it for a few measures. The vocals come in over the top of this and then keys enter at the end of the lines.  They twist it out to RIO-like weirdness for an instrumental segment and come back into a quirky chorus with electronic percussion and weird vocals. Angular guitar lines come in after this chorus and we’re back into Crimsonian territory. This is quite a strong piece of music – weird as it is.
I'm Not Crazy
This is really weird. Odd sounds swirl around each other in a weird pattern as the narrator/singer tries to convince us that he isn’t crazy, but someone else is. They chug out into some rather symphonic oddities later with definite Crimsonian elements. Then it drops back to even stranger sounds as the vocals take on a distant echoey texture. Another unusual soundscape based on an echoey “everyone is crazy” augmented by spoken continuations of that theme takes it to its close.
Pictures From A Little Girl
The music here reminds me of something from a 1960’s psychological thriller movie. It’s a really odd song. You have to love any piece of music that leaves you sort of singing, speaking, “Fear, Terror, Panic and Doom.”
What If It's True?
Fast paced and industrial – like machinery, not the musical style, this is quite interesting. Lines of rock guitar weave across this pattern of sound. They drop it back to ambient weirdness, but then come back towards the previous section. Rather than guitar, though, this time it’s understated vocals that make their way across the backdrop. They turn it towards symphonic textures that are quite dramatic later. This gets noisy and nervous. The singer wonders, “What If It’s True?” in a rather agitated way.
Fever Dreams
Bouncy keyboard sounds weave the patterns that start this off. As the vocals and other elements enter it’s like King Crimson meets the B-52’s in a RIO arrangement.
Butcher Shop
This is fairly heavy and actually rather catchy. Of course, the lyrics are twisted – about a little boy running a butcher shop because he didn’t have a Dad. This spins about in some unusual directions and is deliciously strange. There are moments here that call to mind Kraftwerk.
I Like Black
Alternating between guitar dominated and keyboard controlled segments this is quite a tasty instrumental piece.
Secret Room
Weird vocals and sounds begin this and they shift things out and around as they carry forward. Some of the music here feels a bit like harp. This is actually quite a gentle number. We get a cool wandering guitar solo later in the number. Then it moves out into a more energized version of itself.
My Nigerian Friend
Several swirling lines of the title give way to a stop with “is gone.” Then the cut shifts to darker tones with other lines of vocals explaining the events leading up to his departure. They shift it out from there into some seriously dissonant RIO territory and then pull it back to more melodic music before we get a reprise of the opening section.
It Was Me
This works through a couple changes, but overall it’s dark and strange, but still catchy and rather pretty.

Golden Guy
Stripped down sounds and an electronically styled rhythm section serves as the background for the vocals. Other elements come and go here and there. It turns to proggy weirdness with some more spacey elements. A voice speaks across this backdrop and some sci-fi film like sounds join.
Bunny Boy
Electronic bouncy weirdness serves as the backdrop for the early vocals. Guitar weaves across later. Just after the one minute mark they pound out into a jam that’s very much like modern King Crimson. Then there is a drop back to more oddities like the earlier portion of the sky. It gets lush from there and then dissonant. You might hear echoes of the “Psycho” soundtrack here.
Blood on the Bunny
This is a somewhat lighter song. It’s very much in keeping with the rest of the disc, but still has its own identity.
I Killed Him
Heavier and a bit stranger, this is still somehow catchy. The spoken vocals – telling a tale of a specifically twisted way of killing a person – are very peculiar.
Dark Man
This is both pretty and disturbing. That’s some combination.

Secret Message
Now this one is quite melodic and pretty. It’s a gently moving track that almost feels accessible. As the vocals enter they bring weirdness in the form of noise with them. Still the chorus is downright catchy.

This starts moody and with some of the most pure progressive rock oriented sounds on the disc. As the move into more angular, crunchier territory it still stays in that particular playing field. They alternate between the gentler and more hard rocking, but every bit of this song works quite well. We get some more Crimsonian jamming at the end.
Black Behind
They bring it in with a dark and twisted sound that again reminds me of modern Crimson. It moves out towards more melodic territory at times, but comes back to the main song structure before it ends. More angular Crimson-like guitar lines come here and there, too. Near the end a voice announces, “Everything is black, if you look behind.” Then they take us into pretty territory with nearly new age sounding music. This is shifted more towards weirdness as they carry on, though. And voices do come back in across it before it fades away to end.
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