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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Maggi, Pierce and EJ


Review by Gary Hill

I’ve wanted to review this disc for a while, but each time I sat down to do it, I kind of got lost. Well, this time I made it through – and what a rewarding journey it was. This music is difficult to categorize. That’s because in many ways this group seems like a completely different band from one song to another. Sure, there are threads that run through it, but overall this set is one of the most diverse albums I’ve heard. It’s also intriguing in its layout. We get basically three separate EP’s – all with their own title and flavor. I’d have to say that this music is probably not for everyone, but for those of us with a sense and taste for the unusual, yet oddly familiar, it is highly recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Whale Song
Pretty picked acoustic guitar melodies begin this and move it forward. This is a gentle, folk meets alternative pop styled number. It's pretty. I like the piano that shows up here and there and the multiple layers of vocals. In fact, the vocal arrangement, more than anything else, makes this really shine.
Bouncy, this cut has some rag time, some folk and even a little bluegrass in the mix. Whereas the last track had male vocals with female ones as accompaniment, this one’s the opposite. This is good, but a lot more lightweight than the previous one – and not as strong.
Melt Away
Another bouncy, folky number, this one has male vocals. It’s also a bit less fluffy than the previous track.
Castle Walls
More powerful and involved, this seems to have more of a shared vocal present and some strings add some intriguing dimensions.
Lies Behind the Sun
This starts like an energetic folk piece that reminds me a bit of something from Arlo Guthrie – with different vocals. It shifts out into a more proggy excursion as other layers are added, though. This is quite an intriguing track and one of the highlights of the set. Around the four-mark the whole thing gets a powerful injection of rock instrumentation, bringing it more fully into the realm of progressive rock. In fact, I’d have no problem calling this song that.
Big Falls, WI
Starting as a mellow and lightweight folk song, this is another that shifts out to pure rock later – and when it does it’s again very prog oriented. It’s another that I’d consider a highlight of the set.
Here they lead off with a real rock motif, this one feeling a bit like a Beatles-like pop rocker. I can hear Cheap Trick on this, too. There’s also a more modern alternative pop element to it.
Music of the Sea
There’s a soulful R & B groove to this sultry jazz number. It’s got so much jazz in it that we even get some serious horn blowing. It almost reminds me of Edie Brickell at times. There’s a rap on this, too.
A Moment
This is closer to the sounds of the previous disc, but it’s also more of a rock tune than a lot of the music on there. Again, I’m reminded a bit of Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, but also early Blondie.
Snowed in With You
Funky and bluesy, there’s a lot of bluesy jam band sound to this cut. It’s good, but I wouldn’t really consider it a highlight. It seems a little awkward somehow. That said, the main riff is quite tasty.
Sea of Green
This one’s a bit more pedestrian and more like the music on the first disc. It’s not bad, just not exceptional.
Ezra's Stove
Although much of this track is similar to the last one, the arrangement gets a lot more involved and at times reminds me a little of Camper Van Beethoven. This is a tasty cut and it stands tall above the one before it.
Bonus Track
After some silence we get a little spoken interlude (an answering machine message) and then a bouncy cut enters and creates the next musical journey of the disc. This is fun, if a bit light. It does work out into a more full, and quite rocking, arrangement later. The answering machine returns at the end to close the track out.
A punky sort of cut, this has some of the more lush elements of the previous music.
One Hand
Even harder rocking, this isn’t that far removed from heavy metal. Parents need to be warned by the lyrics on this one and the more lush sections of the arrangement are noteworthy. Comparisons to early Radiohead might be warranted. This gets pretty noisy later. There’s a rather proggy movement after that, though.
Pocahontas, IL
Coming in quite heavy, when this drops down to a piano based arrangement for the vocals, the cut is quite pretty and progressive rock oriented – and yet there’s also a catchy, pop music kind of texture, too. This is one of the most dynamic tracks on show here. It’s also one of the coolest.
This isn’t as in your face as the tracks we’ve heard so far on this disc of the set. That said, it’s still a more hard rocking number that’s has a bluesy sound to it. It includes a more laid back movement and reminds me quite a bit of Pink Floyd – especially the early music of that group. There are also hints of The Beatles at times.
String of Pearls
What an intriguing piece this is. First off, it should be mentioned that here’s another song parents should screen before playing in front of their children. What I find fascinating about this piece is the juxtaposition of opposites. One portion is a raw, noisy, aggressive and violent punk rocker. This is alternated with a pretty and quite sedate love song.
This twisty, bluesy cut reminds me of King Crimson’s “ProzaKC Blues.” There’s a mellow and more melodic movement built into it, too. Again, children should be warned about the lyrics on this – especially leading up to and in the spacey sort of jam that comes in later in the piece. It eventually dissolves out into processed vocals and backwards tracked elements mixed with percussion. This is another that probably qualifies as progressive rock.
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