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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Chris Castino


Review by Gary Hill

With country, rock and much more mixed together, this lands most often in pretty mainstream zones. While most of this works pretty well, it does have a tendency toward feeling monolithic. It also can get a bit dull at times. Still, a lot of that can be avoided by listening to a song or two at time rather than the full set at once. I think a lot of people probably listen to music that way these days, anyway.

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Track by Track Review
Chinese Whispers
There is a classic vibe to the pop rock arrangement on this number. As the vocals join they bring a melodic and mainstream sound with them. There is a female vocal along with the male one on this number, creating a classic duet. This is an effective piece.
Fire & Stars
Set in a vintage sounding arrangement, there is a real singer-songwriter vibe to this cut. There is a bit of a country element to this number along with hints of things like The Grateful Dead. Yet there is a modern angle to it all, too.
There is a dreamy kind of quality to this number. It's a mellower piece. It has a folk rock turned modern edge to it.
More of a balladic folk rock based song, there are some hints of country in the mix.
There is a healthy helping of country built into this piece. There is a bit of an awkwardness here, too. While that's a bit of a charm, it doesn't work that well for me. That said, the instrumental at the end of the piece is great. It has some expressive guitar work and feels a bit like a cross between The Dead and The Allman Brothers to me.
There is a bit of a psychotic country edge to this number. It is a slow-moving piece with a real down-home vibe to it.
The rocking opening bit on this has some of the coolest sounds of the whole set. It drops way down for a melodic movement to carry forward. There are some jazzy elements in the mix on that section. It's somewhat effective, but also just a bit dull to me. I do like the backing vocals on the cut. The tune eventually gets into more powered up zones that are quite powerful in places. Those sections work quite well.
Ms. Missme
Folk music and country merge on this tune. Some of the instrumental work on this really manages to elevate the piece, but overall the formula is starting to wear a bit thin. This isn't bad. It's just not that different from a lot of the other stuff here to really stand out.
Beginner's Mind
The country and folk concepts are on-board with this number, too. There is a bit of an awkward edge to some of this that might be considered a charm by some. Personally, this is another cut that's just too much like others here. There are some tasty guitar fills in the mix, though.
Don't Break My Heart (explicit S#it)
Now, this is a great change. Hard-edged and rocking, there are still some hints of country brought by the vocals. This is meaty and has some great riffs and arrangements. This does earn a parental advisory, but you can figure that out from the parenthetical. I dig the guitar solo on this quite a bit.
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