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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Tom Brislin

Hurry Up and Smell the Roses

Review by Gary Hill

I really like this album. I first heard about (and met) Tom Brislin when he was playing with Yes on their symphonic tour. I was impressed with both his personality and his playing skill. I’ve kept an ear on his career since and always been pleased. The man is a classy musician with great chops and musical sensibilities. He’s also a great guy. His new album showcases a sound that combines pop rock music with progressive rock into a mix that’s very tasty, indeed.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Hurry Up and Smell the Roses

Insistent piano opens this track and the vocals come in over the top. While there’s clearly an alternative rock meets progressive rock vibe, somehow I’m also reminded a bit of Queen on this. As it builds upward, though, Porcupine Tree might be a valid comparison. This piece really gets a lot of energy and oomph as it moves forward, but it never loses its prog meets pop rock vibe. I can almost make out hints of something like The Killers at times here, yet that Queen reference seems ever present, too. As the arrangement moves out towards spacey territory later it really soars.

Your Favorite Day

Piano also opens this one. The alternative rock meets pop sound takes over for the first verse. Then we get some intriguing changes as more electronic progressive rock sounds emerge. This song wouldn’t be out of place on modern pop radio, but it’s also not that far removed from a lot of the modern progressive rock from acts like Porcupine Tree. It’s a great blend of sounds in an intriguing arrangement.

When You Told Me Not to Go

Keyboards paired with vocals opens this as a sedate and rather melancholy little melody. It grows out slowly from there. An extremely evocative piano melody emerges later in the cut and there are some definite symphonic elements in place on this.

Stuff You Would Understand

The same general mix, pop rock music with more progressive tendencies, is heard here. This one really has some intriguing changes and some dramatic ups and downs. There is some theremin in the mix at times (either real or synthetic) and I’m a sucker for theremin. The arrangement here seems to have more changes than are present on some of the other material.

Industry in the Distance

The early portions here are dominated by electronic Europop. It grows out as it continues with more of the modern progressive rock sounds in place. In a lot of ways this reminds me of The Buggles.


This short piano solo is pretty and delicate. It’s also intricate and seems to serve as the introduction for the next piece.


This one is clearly much more in keeping with music of bands like Porcupine Tree and RPWL. Piano dominates the arrangement.

The Outskirts

Another short instrumental, this one is electronic and moody. It’s rather symphonic in some ways, but also has some hints of industrial music.

I Hold a Candle

Lush and pretty, this showcases more of that combination of modern pop rock with progressive elements. It’s another cool tune on a disc that’s full of them. It’s an extensive track and later in the piece it works out to something that’s not far removed from fusion for a great instrumental movement.


Another piano solo piece, this is again quite pretty and gentle. It’s longer than “Predawn” and has more complexity built into it.


There’s a bit of a groove to this, but overall the pop meets prog approach on the rest of the disc is heard here. Still, there are even some hints of funk heard on this tune. There’s also a shift towards jazzy sounds in the midst of this thing. It’s another great tune.

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