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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Umbrella Bed


Review by Gary Hill

The overall description here would be "ska." That said, there are other things at play like punk, psychedelia, and Dixieland jazz. The vocals are often a bit rough around the edges, bringing a DIY element to this. If you like things completely polished, you probably need to look elsewhere because of those vocals. Overall, though, this set it a fun one that seems designed to get the listener up and moving.

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Track by Track Review
The basic concept of this cut is ska. That said, though, there is a real weird angle to this. It's off-kilter in its approach. The horns lend a lot of interest to this cut. The rhythm section really drives it well. The vocals bring the weirdness.
Say Your Goodbyes
I like the bass that drives the backdrop of this. The horns are again a touch of style here. This is a slower cut, and perhaps closer to something like a jazz arrangement than reggae. That said, there is still enough reggae to get this a landing under "ska." It has a weird edge to it, too, but not as much as the opener did.
Dark Days
There is a metallic edge to this cut at the start. They take it out after the introduction to some of the most mainstream ska we've heard thus far. The vocals again pull it out of the zone of mainstream, though.
These Final Days
This is bouncy and fun, but the vocals again are a bit on the awkward side. There are some great instrumental moments here, though.
Tell Me What To Do
There is a bit of a drop back on this cut. Beyond that, this is a powerhouse driving ska tune. It has a healthy helping of punk along with the reggae in the mix. The vocals work better here, making this one of the strongest cuts of the disc.
Strange Conviction
The rhythmic element to this is almost rubbery. The song has a combination of Dixieland jazz and ska in a lot of ways. It's definitely one of the more "left of center" cuts on show here.
Always on the Rebound
I dig the horns on this. The cut has a lot of energy and a cool groove. The vocals bring some oddity. There are some weird punk meets psychedelic breaks built into this tune, too. The fast paced, hard rocking jam later is a pretty crazed and one of the most interesting instrumental passages of the disc. They take it into a full on psychedelic rock jam from there.
3 Twenty Seven
The opening arrangement here calls to mind a lot of the jazz styled music that was so popular in the rock scene in the last 1960s and early 1970s. There is still a ska edge to the piece, but this is closely related to things like Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago. This instrumental is possibly the best cut on the disc.
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