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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Ions

Atom Butterfly

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite an intriguing disc. It's a bit uneven, but has some shining stars. The easiest description of this would probably be "indie rock," but there is a pretty wide range in terms of that label. There is a punky edge to a lot of this. There are also plenty of connections to things ranging from 1960s garage rock, power pop, new wave, psychedelia and more. It all rocks, but some of the best tracks seem to congregate near the end of the disc.

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Track by Track Review
For Blanche
There is a cool punk edge with a lot of energy here. This has some power-pop in the mix, too. The keyboard textures and some of the vocal arrangement calls to mind a new wave reference point. This is energetic and rather catchy.
Do Not Disturb Me
I like the guitar riff that opens this quite a bit. This more firmly in that power-pop kind of vein. The cut has a more stripped back and punky arrangement than the opener did. The rhythm section takes over for a time and piano comes over the top of that in a late track instrumental movement. It eventually builds back out to the song proper for a short instrumental iteration for it ends.
What Are You Waiting For?
The guitar sound on this is meaty and a lot more rock and roll. The mix feels a bit on the DIY side, lending a certain punky charm to this cut. This is meaty and tastefully gritty. It has some cool riffs driving it.
The Gemini
This number isn't as effective as the first two were. There is a mellower section that opens it. The harder rocking sections work better, but there is a bit of a rough-around-the-edges texture here that seems to take away from those less edgy parts. Still, this has some charms.
Lacey More
There is a bit more of an old school rock and roll edge to this number. I can hear hints of things like The Animals in this. I really dig the guitar solo on the track.
The Strain
With more of a mainstream rock sound at its core, this is one of the more effective pieces of the set. It has some of that DIY texture, but it lends a bit of charm.
Hot and Cold
The rhythm section pounds this into existence. Some cool distorted guitar rises up from there as it build in an almost punky approach. I dig the hooks on this and the bass solo movement later in the piece is a great touch. There is more of a raw new wave punk texture to this number. The bits of keyboards lend an interesting flavor. I'd consider this to be one of the highlights of the disc.
Not the Only One
The opening acapella line brings both a punk and an old school rock and roll edge. The music that comes in has a cool groove that works particularly well. This high energy and somewhat unusual rocker is another highlight. The drums really manage to stand out on this tune.
I Want to Know
This has a killer hard rocking edge to it. It reminds me a bit of the song "Steppin' Stone." That's high praise from me as I've always felt that tune could use a modern hard rock rendition as it is a great tune. This has a 1960s garage band texture to it and really stands out as one of the stronger cuts here.
Something Happened in Heaven
This isn't as strong as the last few cuts. It's a bit more of a melodic tune, but it just doesn't seem to gel as well as its more direct predecessors.
Good News from Fortuna
The bass opens this with a cool riff. Other elements join as this works forward in a killer retro rock sound. There is a punk edge here along with some psychedelia and garage band texture. This is a big change, but also one of the standout tunes. It just grinds forward with a cool sound.
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