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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Crack the Sky

Ostrich

Review by Gary Hill

There are a lot of musical concepts and leanings expressed on this awesome album. I can make out such things as Frank Zappa, Primus, Rush and King Crimson at times, but that’s just part of the picture. Add in some psychedelia, fusion and you’ll be getting closer, but still not complete. Put some R & B, jazz and jam band music and even some funk like Parliament and you’ll be really close. The thing is, however you see the mix of sounds, this is fun progressive rock music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Box

The mode that starts this feels electronic and rather weird, but they take it from there to a jam that’s a bit funky, but also rather like jazzy King Crimson. The weird processed vocals call to mind psychedelia. There is some space rock built into this later as it powers upward. It gets more intense after that transitional section, but stays in the same general musical territory. It drops way down after that to almost acapella, but powers back upward. At times this calls to mind Primus a bit. It’s bouncy and rubbery and very cool.

Happy Happy Happy
Funk and sounds like Frank Zappa merge on this killer track. There are definitely hints of James Brown here. One might almost think of this as Parliament meets Zappa. The vocals do get a minor parental advisory.
Your House Is On Fire

The familiar links are still present here, but this ups the jazz ante quite a bit. The horn section is great and there is just so much oomph here that it’s awesome.

King of the Rodeo

This is slower and mellower, and the vocals, along with some of the music, brings a tongue-in-cheek country element. The Primus concept here, yet it also calls to mind Rush just a bit, too.

Big Elephant

Processed vocals and a killer bass line open this, with a definite Frank Zappa vibe. From there it powers out into something hard rocking funky. This is another that merges King Crimson with Frank Zappa. This is quite a tasty tune. In a lot of ways, it’s the most accessible of the bunch. There is some awesome guitar soloing on this beast, too.

Holding My Breath

There’s a bit of a retro edge here. It’s got a lot of soul and R&B in the mix, but still comes in as fast paced rock music. It’s easy to hear some jam band music here, too. This is killer progressive rock that’s not instantly recognizable as prog. The organ sounds are great and this is one of the most mainstream pieces on the disc. The instrumental section that takes it out is particularly noteworthy, feeling at times like a cross between Santana and Yes.

Pole Dancing at the Hollywood

A full horn section really emphasizes the funk on this number. There’s still plenty of progressive rock here, but in a lot of ways this really feels a lot like Parliament, perhaps with a bit of War in the mix. There’s a soulful rap on this tune, too.

Under The Hood

What an intriguing cut this is. It works up gradually and has elements of progressive rock and world music built into it. It’s dramatic and rather understated a lot of the time. It’s a great piece of music that’s so powerful, while remaining mellower than most of the disc.

Don't Ask

Weird fusion is merged with something akin to King Crimson. Yet, there’s also a mainstream, alternative rock vibe here creating a completely different concept as the overall effect. The guitar soloing later is classic.

Ali's Song
Although this has a dated feeling, seeming like something from the early 1970s, it’s a mellower number that’s got a combination of pop music, folk and jazz. It’s also the most mainstream thing here. It’s a great way to end things in style. Yet, there’s still a slightly left of center vibe here.
 
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