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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Dare Dukes

Prettiest Transmitter of All

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always found it fascinating how some musicians can take sounds that are decidedly left of center and make them seem “catchy.” Dare Dukes shows himself to be such a person. His music reminds me a lot of Cracker – if Cracker were less rock. I can also hear Radiohead – if Radiohead were less proggy. This music might be hard to describe, but somehow it gets under your skin and lives there.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Ballad of Darius McCollum

This starts with an acoustic guitar ballad and this motif serves for the first verse, feeling to me a bit like Radiohead meets Neil Young. The track is powered out after this and we get a more rocking take on the central themes. It’s catchy and still reminds me a bit of Young’s music.

Kick + Holler
Here is a fascinating piece of music. This is compositionally complex and yet catchy. If the rest of the disc were like this I’d probably call it “progressive rock.” In many ways this is quite similar to the previous number, yet the arrangement – complete with strings and female vocals – is much more involved and lush. I love this track.
Sam's Cathedral
Much of this is far more stripped down, like a gentle folk ballad. There are more layers of sound added later to fill out the arrangement. It’s got the same quirky charm as the rest of the disc and some more female vocals show up in this one.
Lucas Goes to the Demolition Derby

This doesn’t differ a lot from the songs we’ve heard so far. That said, the tone and delivery might be similar, but this has its own identity. It’s one of my favorites on the disc, actually, so Dukes must be doing something right.

Bakersfield

Bakersfield” is quite probably my favorite number here. This starts as a stripped down ballad and then shifts out into a real progressive rock oriented arrangement. It’s kind of like Cracker gone prog. It’s a great tune.

From a Plane
This is the most accessible (and “normal”) track on show here. Somehow it reminds me a bit of Green Day. I like it, but not as much as some of the rest of the music. There is one proggy excursion in this, though.
Equipment Is Fine
This is the strangest piece on the disc. It’s got some really odd musical explorations and stream of consciousness lyrics that are bound to offend a lot of people. The keyboards that come over the top of this are very prog-like at times, though. I’m not really into this song, but it’s got a certain charm to it.
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