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Old 12-26-2011, 07:27 PM   #661 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:39 PM   #662 (permalink)
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Although I of course buy albums by artistes I like, and this therefore usually leads to collecting their whole catalogue, or as near as I can, there are artistes by whom I will buy one or maybe two albums --- and quite like them --- but never feel the compulsion to go ahead and buy the rest of their material. Sometimes it might just be one song I'm after, or perhaps I want to see how the rest of this particular album measures up. In the old days, it was often also the case that, should an album have up to three hit singles from it (or three singles I enjoyed), then it was financially more prudent to buy the album, as the price of three singles would usually outweigh, or at least come close to, the price of the full album.

There are other reasons why I bought just one or two albums from a particular artiste and never any more, among them perhaps the fact that although I really enjoyed this album, I knew in my heart that the rest of their output would not appeal to me. Sometimes, you just know. George Michael's “Listen without prejudice” is one such album, which I already reviewed. Then there are bands whom I think are going to be great, but the album doesn't measure up to the single(s) and I'm sorry I got it. Lots of reasons, and no hard-and-fast rule, therefore, that just because I have, say, one Duran Duran or Nik Kershaw album that I'm going to have them all.

We too are one --- Eurythmics --- 1989 (RCA)


So it is with the Eurythmics (surely one of the all-time misspelled band names?). I bought “Savage”, quite enjoyed it, but was not blown away with it. Then they released “We too are one”, and to be honest it was cheap and second-hand, and I had liked the two singles from it, so I thought, why not? It's a good album --- in places really good --- but never impressed me enough to make me want to seek out their other six, at the time, albums.

As it happens, “We too are one” followed “Savage”, so you could say the latter led me on to the former, though in truth I did not buy “Savage” when it came out, and it's actually purely coincidental that the only two Eurythmics albums I have were released two years apart, one after the other. It just happened that way.

The album in question opens with the title track, with a kind of weird horn sound, then gets going with a mid-paced rocker, Annie Lennox's voice clear and unmistakable, Dave Stewart's guitar taking a little of a backseat to Pat Seymour's keyboards, though it certainly makes its presence felt as the track goes on. Nice sort of whooshy sound on the keys and also the vocals, giving a sort of spacey feel to it in places. It's a good opener, and certainly sets the stage, and the second track doesn't disappoint either, upping the tempo a bit and introducing more brassy horns, romping along on a nice clean keyboard line, “The king and queen of America” is more poppy than rock, with elements of soul in there too, courtesy of the horns, which could be made on the keys, as they don't seem to be credited.

Production is clean and crisp, as you would expect from Jimmy Iovine, who shares duties with Dave Stewart, who always had a strong grip on the Eurythmic sound. Surprisingly perhaps, this song, although released as a single, did not get a US outing, maybe due to the rather pastiche nature of the video that accompanied it, which parodied certain aspects of American culture. Oh, those Americans!

“(My my) Baby's gonna cry” is almost new-wave in its melody, Stewart's guitar coming more to the front, and he adds to the vocals this time, for the first time I've heard on the album. It's a slower tempo, though not a ballad, very solid, and the dual vocal works very well, especially when Stewart and Lennox sing in unison. Nice little new-wave keyboard touches from Seymour stay just where they should, not trying to take over the song, but definitely helping to form its identity. Nice guitar solo from Stewart, not over the top, but certainly making the point.

With definite shades of their big hit single “Here comes the rain again”, the next track up, “Don't ask me why” is again a pop-driven tune, with more keyboard taking the lead, and Lennox's voice absolutely taking command as she revels in her element. With lyrics like ”I don't love you anymore/ Don't think I ever did/ And if you ever had/ Any kind of love for me/ You kept it all so well hid” it's fair to relate this back to her perceived failed love affairs and her attitude towards men, most famously exposed on the track “I need a man” from the previous album. Despite the bitterness in the lyric, it's quite a tender and lush song, with a really nice melody and some almost strings-like keyboard arrangements.

The first ballad on the album, the sumptuous “Angel”, features some lovely restrained guitar work from Stewart and a lonely, almost lost vocal from Lennox, emotion drenching the memories she recalls in the lyric: ”I remember you/ Like Elvis Presley singing/ Songs on a Sunday.” Some great backing vocals in an almost gospel style, a very big production and indeed this should have been a big hit for them, but perhaps because the subject matter concerns suicide it did not do as well as perhaps it could have done. “Revival” is a real hard-edged rocker with more gospel elements, a real call to action, a “pick yourself up off the ground” sort of song. Nice little keyboard hook, reminds me of the Tubeway Army.

There's little ambiguity about a song with the title “You hurt me (and I hate you)”, and as you might expect it's a tough, bitter, savage little song, opening with a deceptively low-key piano intro before it kicks into gear, as Annie lists her faults: ”I'm not an angel/ I'm not a saint/ I'm not a saviour/ I'm not that quaint” and then snarls the title with all the vitriol a scorned or hurt woman can muster. Great horns again in this track, some nice whistly keyboards and there's almost a false sense of fiesta about the melody: you could nearly take it as a celebration, and perhaps it is --- a kind of “I will survive” mentality.

“Sylvia” comes in on beautiful string intro, quite similar in ways to INXS's classic “Never tear us apart”, a great sense of drama and tragedy in the song, perhaps presaging the woman in “Angel” who takes her own life, as Annie sings ”She wants to fall/ Into a deep, deep sleep/ So she can forget herself.” Nice solo on what sounds to me like a harpsichord, but may be Stewart being really inventive on the guitar, who knows? It's a sparse but yet powerful song, while “How long” rides on a deep bass line carrying a pretty rocky track with some great guitar, but it's the closer that really puts the finishing touches on this album.

Opening on a low, wailing bass and keys, “When the day goes down” is a deeply powerful ballad, with Lennox giving her all on the vocal, as she talks about the evils in the world: “All the people of this lonely world/ Have got a piece of pain inside/ Don't go thinking you're the only one/ Who ever broke right down and cried.” It's almost a lullaby for adults, a calming voice in the maelstrom of modern life and all our worries, fears and nightmares are shushed away by Annie's gentle voice, the lush soundscape behind her perfectly complementing her passionate vocal. Great little guitar solo from Dave, and then the whole thing fades out, as it really has to, it's the only way it can end. Lovely, truly lovely.

You might say, if I enjoyed the album so much, why did I not get more of their work, and to be honest I don't know. This is a really great album, but I was never a huge fan of the Eurythmics, and as it happens this was their last album before they broke up, though they did reform some years later and released another album. Maybe I came in too late, or maybe just at the right time. I know from their previous singles that they had some very good music (but then, I don't like all of their singles), but were their albums that good? I don't know, I guess I never will.

But this one is really good, and I'm certainly glad I listened to it.

TRACKLISTING

1. We too are one
2. The king and queen of America
3. (My my) Baby's gonna cry
4. Don't ask me why
5. Angel
6. Revival
7. You hurt me (And I hate you)
8. Sylvia
9. How long
10. When the day goes down
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:05 AM   #663 (permalink)
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Ho ho ho! Hope you all had a happy Christmas, and are looking forward to the new year --- then, back to work ha ha! Here's a real classic which the worm thinks epitomises the sound of the seventies to get us going on the last few before 2012 sticks its oar in. This is “Sad sweet dreamer”: you'll recognise it once you hear it...
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:25 AM   #664 (permalink)
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Note: as we head into the last few days of 2011, I'm anxious to review the remaining albums from this year that I have already written up, so I'll be posting one a day, perhaps even more depending on how time goes. After Saturday, this section will only feature albums from 2012 --- as soon as they're released and I get them! This doesn't mean that no more albums from 2011 will be reviewed: they will, of course, but not under this section.

Most of us have a healthy diverse interest across several spectrums and genres of music. Me, I like rock and metal first, but I'm also partial to some good classical and good vocal albums. My interest in Josh Groban's work is well known among those who read my journal, and I do intend to review his new album quite soon. But first I want to take my first dive (ah, if only!) into the music of one Katherine Jenkins, and review her latest album.

Daydream --- Katherine Jenkins --- 2011 (Warner Bros)


Now, this could be a real crash and burn. Katherine Jenkins is known foremost as an operatic style singer, and I really can't stand opera, but we'll give it a lash (again, if only...) and see how we get on. I see from the tracklisting there is a mixture of classical, opera and pop tunes, along with some traditional fare and even a song that featured in Doctor Who! Can't be bad then...

It opens, as you would be correct to expect, with a lavish orchestral overture, then “Black is the colour (of my true love's hair)” is delivered on a soft, gentle vocal from Katherine, she taking centre stage as the orchestra slowly builds behind her. It's a traditional Scottish folk song, and its first proper performance was in 1913, though it dates back much further than that. I have never heard the song, so can't comment on her version, but it's a nice song, powerfully driven by the orchestra and well sung by her. As a matter of fact, looking down the tracklisting, there are few songs here that I do know. Hopefully though that won't hinder my reviewing them.

Next up is “Your silhouette”, again opened on powerful strings and then dropping to a simple piano line for the opening verse, Katherine's vocal feather-gentle, then the drums come in and her backing vocalists add their voices, and her own gets stronger, sounding a little, if I'm honest, like Mary Black. It's another ballad, but let's be fair, we're not expecting a rendition of “Ace of spades” or “Enter Sandman” here, are we? Gentle piano reminiscent of Nilsson's classic “Without you” introduces “Can't slow down”, which can't really: it's already a slow song. Okay, time for the crap jokes to end.

It's a powerful song in fact, another ballad of course but with a lot of heart and emotion put into it by Jenkins. Sounds vaguely country, for some reason, kind of Faith Hill or Leanne Rimes. A song from “Les Miserables” is next, “J'avais reve d'une autre vie” --- says the translation is “I dreamed a dream”, and I guess they should know, but looks more like, to my admittedly limited French, “I dreamed of another life”? Anyway, as musicals go the song is of course dramatic and epic, with great backing from the orchestra, and Katherine stretching her vocals to that famous mezzo-soprano that made her name. Very effective. I'm one of the probably three people in the known world who have never seen the show, but she certainly seems to put in a passionate performance of this song.

One of the few I do know is “Carrickfergus”, the old Irish traditional song covered more times than old Mister Brennan can remember (sort of in-joke for Irish people there), and she does a nice version of it, though it's one of those songs that really, it's been covered so many times that it's hard to pick out a better version of it. Powerful, emotive and well arranged though, with really nice backing vocals from a choir of some sort --- solid information on this album is not that easy to come by. Nice to see her paying tribute to Ireland, too.

That's about it for the ones I know, more or less. “L'alba verra (The dawn will come)” is like something out of a film, or possibly the stage, or an opera, starts powerfully then again drops to single piano backing. Sung in the native language of the song (Italian?), it's impossible for me to tell you what the lyric means: my Italian is worse than my French. Nicely sung though with again that high-pitched voice reaching notes others can only dream of, but never getting jarring in the way so many opera divas can. Some really class piano playing there really adds to the song.

Back thankfully to English for “And this is my beloved”, another stirring ballad where the strength of Jenkins' voice really comes through, while “Love divine (Hyfrydol)” appears to be some sort of hymn (hey, don't look at me: I'm an atheist, thank god!) and delivered in flowing style with great backing from her choir and the orchestra. Even a non-believer like me, though, knows “Ave Maria”, and she certainly sings it like an angel, backed by what sounds like harp and cello? There seem to be a lot of different versions of this song, and this is one I'm actually not familiar with, but lovely nevertheless.

“A flower tells a story” is another powerful ballad, again showcasing her tremendous voice, at times gentle and at times belting out the song, while the power and passion she puts into Delta Goodrem's “Break it to my heart” is phenomenal to say the least. “Blaenwern”, I have to assume, is a Welsh traditional song, and very nice it is too, and the album then closes on that song I mentioned from Doctor Who. It's called “Abigail's song”, and I remember Katherine, who also guest starred in the last Christmas episode, singing it and how touching it was. It loses none of its magic or majesty here, absolutely stunning. Heartbreaking and tearjerking, a really powerful and emotional finale to the album, with excellent backup and just a fantastic atmosphere about the whole piece. Spellbinding.

I would be the first to admit I'm probably not a fan of Katherine Jenkins, but be the hokey she can sing! She's also damn hot! But seriously, this album is not really for everyone: there's a good mix on it, but some of the songs --- the hymns, the stage stuff --- I don't know and to be honest I doubt I'd listen to them in any other sphere. There are some great performances on here, but then that's the least you'd expect from a talent like hers.

I would say in conclusion, I'm definitely impressed, and wouldn't for instance turn off the radio if she were singing, but I don't think I'd be rushing out to buy another album by her. This one, however, won't be getting deleted just yet.

TRACKLISTING

1. Black is the colour (of my true love's hair)
2. Your silhouette
3. Can't slow down
4. J'avais reve d'une autre vie (I dreamed a dream)
5. Carrickfergus
6. L'alba verra (The dawn will come)
7. And this is my beloved
8. Love divine (Hyfrydol)
9. Ave Maria
10. A flower tells a story
11. Break it to my heart
12. Blaenwern
13. Abigail's song
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Old 12-27-2011, 06:46 PM   #665 (permalink)
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Old 12-27-2011, 06:50 PM   #666 (permalink)
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For a guy who had, at one time, two separate singles in the top twenty, you'd think Fergal Sharkey would have gone on to great things, wouldn't you? But he seems to have basically crashed and burned after those two singles: maybe he should have stayed with the Undertones! Here's the one you all know...
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Old 12-27-2011, 07:05 PM   #667 (permalink)
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I've been told the latest Journey album has no ballads. To be honest, that comes across to me as unlikely as there not being a keyboard solo on a Rick Wakeman album, or Prince releasing an album with no songs about sex. It just seems impossible. Journey have, if not made, at least advanced their long career upon classic ballads like “Open arms”, “Faithfully”, “Still they ride” and of course “Who's crying now”. To hear that they released an album without a single ballad sounds, well, hard to believe. But so the reviews I've read would have me believe, and they should know, having heard the album, while I haven't.

Up to now, that is.

So, let's find out if they know what they're talking about then.

Eclipse --- Journey --- 2011 (Nomota LLC)



“Eclipse” is Journey's first new album in three years, their second with new vocalist Arnel Pineda, and the first on which he sings a collection of totally new songs. 2008's “Revelation” --- although I have yet to hear it --- consisted of a mixture of new songs and re-recordings of old ones, so this is the first time Pineda has a chance to impress and shine on his own merits, though of course he'll always been compared to previous Journey vocalists, most notably the great Steve Perry.

Although it's now been fifteen years since Perry and the band parted company, the man casts a long shadow, and even though Steve Augeri was the singer for two albums since Perry's departure, he was and always will be compared to “classic” Journey, and Perry's is the name that will be forever the yardstick by which he, and any subsequent pretenders to his throne, will be judged. It's not fair, but that's just how it is. Perry was frontman for Journey for so long that it's hard to forget him, and few Journey fans ever will. For them, there will never be another Steve Perry.

And so there should not be, but Pineda will probably carry the albatross of Perry's reputation around his neck for a long time, trying to prove himself to the dyed-in-the-wool Journey fans. He's already won over many of them from the last album and from gigs, but there's work to do yet. This album is his chance to perhaps throw off the shackles history has weighed him down with, and become once and for all his own man, not just the new singer for Journey, but simply Journey's singer.

The album opens strongly, with a good rocker, Neal Schon at his best, and there's no doubting the power and talent inherent in Pineda's voice, though whereas Steve Augeri sounded uncannily like his predecessor, there's a whole different sound about the guy from the Philippines, and he's eager to stamp his own identity on the band, and on the album. “City of hope” is a great opener, laden with the usual hooks you expect in Journey songs like “Faith in the heartland”, “Girl can't help it” and “Separate ways”. Jonathan Cain's keyboards take something of a backseat here, as Schon stands centre stage alongside Pineda, introducing the new Journey album with a grand flourish and a powerful punch.

“Edge of the moment” has an opening riff that sounds so close to “Separate ways” it's frightening, but it soon settles down into its own song, another rocker with some great guitar from Schon. The tracks on this album are longer than normally expected on a Journey album, with all but two of them breaking the five-minute barrier (one is 4:57, so we won't count that as below the marker) and several over six, while two come close to the seven-minute mark. When “Chain of love” is introduced on sweet synth and dreamy piano, you think here we go, here's the first ballad, but after Cain's “Tubular Bells”-like intro, Schon's growling guitar shoulders its way in like an uninvited party guest, and Deen Castronovo's drums pound out a rhythm that turns the song into a hard rock cruncher. Also one of the longer songs on the album, it's quite a surprise, evolving as it does, and Pineda's vocals are stretched on the song, and not found wanting.

Since Perry left, Schon and Cain have exercised a pretty tight control over the songwriting on Journey albums, and Pineda had no input at all into “Revelation”. Here, he co-writes two tracks, one of which also credits Erik Pineda --- his brother? --- but the rest are firmly helmed by the guitarist and the keysman. And they know, as we already are aware, how to write damn fine songs! “Tantra” again opens with soft, mellow piano, a gentle vocal from "the new guy", and surely this has to be a ballad? Well... there's strong guitar, thumping drums, but I would have to say this still keeps to the format of what I would consider a ballad. Okay, it's not “Faithfully”, but it's certainly a slower song. Yeah, I'd have to call this a ballad, even if it is a power one. Knew there had to be one in there.

Then, after a brief interlude (you know what Ade Edmondson said in Bottom: “Yeah, well, you gotta put something in for the girls, don't ya?") we're off with a mid-paced rocker, though “Anything is possible” is still kind of in mid-ballad territory, a slowish beat, impassioned vocal and a very anthemic chorus. Damn good workout by Schon as the song comes to its close. Next up is “Resonate”, which opens with guitar feedback, spacey synth then melodic guitar as Pineda keeps it fairly low-key. I wouldn't go so far as to call this a ballad, no, but it's not a rocker either. Quite guitar-led really, as is the vast majority of the album, Journey opting for a harder, rockier edge to their previous outings.

“She's a mystery”, the first song on which Pineda gets to show his songwriting skills, is almost acoustic, quite jangly and boppy, with some very nice proggy keyboard from Cain --- nice to hear him getting in on the action properly! Near its end the song morphs into a hard crunching rocker, then Cain and Schon trade licks all across “Human feel”, while Castronovo goes nuts on the drums. Things finally speed up again with “Ritual”, with almost a brass feeling to Cain's keyboards, and Pineda really sounding like he's enjoying himself.

The other song on which Pindea --- well, the two Pinedas --- has songwriting credit comes across really as another ballad. “To whom it may concern” smoulders and simmers just below the boil, with powerful guitar and emotive piano, and excellent, soulful vocal from Ardel Pineda, as well as really effective backing vocals. This has all the hallmarks of being a future classic, and certainly I could see it being shouted for at Journey concerts. Urgent, dramatic keyboards from Cain really paint the soundscape, and Pineda is probably at his best on this track. Take note guys: this guy can write! Although I of course don't know how much input he had into this song --- and as he's a vocalist I assume it was mostly on the lyric --- the difference this and the other song he co-wrote make to the album is considerable, and not to be ignored. Perhaps we'll see more of his songwriting on the next album.

The band get rockin' again then with “Someone”, the closest we've come to a throwback to the days of “Escape” and “Frontiers”, or even “Raised on radio”. Great keyboard melody line and exuberant piano from Cain, with Schon's guitars keeping just a little more to the shadows but certainly there. The album ends on an instrumental, as if Schon means to confirm that he is in charge. “Venus” is composed solely by him, and it's a great little closer to the album, a kind of coda if you will. Does come across as more the end-part of a song though than a full piece in its own right. Nice though, very dramatic and epic.

Of course, a less kind reviewer would say this is a prime example of Cain and Schon shutting Pineda out, reminding him that he's the new guy and that Journey is built around the two of them. But I wouldn't be so crass.

This album has been hailed as a classic, a masterpiece, best Journey album since “Escape” and so on. I'm not so sure. It's certainly a great album, but does it rank up there with “Frontiers” and “Escape”? Or my all-time favourite, “Arrival”? I've heard efforts from Journey that are just as good, to be honest. “Generations” is a great album, as is “Trial by fire”. The songs are pretty much without exception excellent on “Eclipse”, but are they better than on other albums? Are there any future classics lurking in there, waiting to be discovered?

Maybe “To whom it may concern”, but even then it's just a really great song, and lacks the pedigree and punch of the real classics we all know from this band. One thing is certain though: Ardel Pineda has definitely stamped his authority as vocalist on this album, and though he may technically still be seen as something of an outsider, he's moving closer to getting into the sanctum. It may not be too long before people are saying “Yeah, but he's no Pineda!”

Both Steves, Perry and Augeri, are tough acts to follow, but on “Eclipse” I think Pineda has proven that not only can he follow these former stars of Journey, but he can make himself a star and lead this band to new heights. Eclipse them? Perhaps that's asking too much, but I feel confident, from his performance on this album, that he can once and for all step out from underneath their rather long shadows.

TRACKLISTING

1. City of hope
2. Edge of the moment
3. Chain of love
4. Tantra
5. Anything is possible
6. Resonate
7. She's a mystery
8. Human feel
9. Ritual
10. To whom it may concern
11. Someone
12. Venus
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:12 PM   #668 (permalink)
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:26 PM   #669 (permalink)
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Some bands are hard to categorise, aren't they? Like these guys...
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:01 AM   #670 (permalink)
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Who would be the hardest band to Google, eh? Think about that for a moment. Here's your answer:

The ghost you gave to me --- 3 --- 2011 (Metal Blade)


Yep. Try googling a band called 3, and see how far you get. Possibly not the cleverest marketing decision made by a band --- I had to input the name of the album on Wiki to get to the band --- but certainly innovative, challenging and indicative of a band prepared to take risks. This, as it turns out, is their sixth album, and yes, it's another one of those I bought on impulse. Basically, I saw an ad for their album in a mag and decided I liked the look of it. After a quick read of a review I knew I wasn't veering too far off my usual path in checking their music out, but let's see exactly how far they pull me off my normal route. With interest and a little unease, I note their Wiki entry says they have tried every genre from hip-hop to progressive funk and from metal to punk and rockabilly on their albums, leading them to describe themselves as a “hybrid” band. You have to be interested. This sounds like the sort of thing Jackhammer would be into, were circumstances different at the moment. In his honour, as it were, let's check it out and see if it measures up.

It starts very proggy with a nice little acoustic guitar track, very short, barely over one minute, with nice soft vocals from I guess Joey Eppard, as he's shown as the only vocalist on the album, but it certainly sounds female. “Sirenum scopuli” runs directly into the first full track, “React”, retaining its basic melody but filling the song out a little more with electric guitars and drums. Strangely enough for a so-called progressive band, or at least one with progressive leanings, 3 don't appear to employ any keyboard player, content to make all their sounds on guitar, and if that's the case then Eppard and Billy Riker deserve some major plaudits, as they definitely make their guitars sound like much more than just the instruments they are.

“React” is a good rocker, with some nice passages and some very decent vocals from Eppard, quite commercial in its way, and you could without question hear parts where keys would have been very welcome, yet the song doesn't seem to suffer from the lack of them, which is a hard trick to pull off. There's a great hook to the song, marking it for radio airplay should anyone bother to take notice, which hopefully they will. “Sparrow” is a much heavier song, bringing to mind images of Deep Purple in its hard guitar opening riffs, nice bass work from Daniel Grimsland laying a decent foundation to the song, which then veers off into kind of Led Zep territory, circa “Zep II”.

There are no backing vocals credited, but they are there, even if it's just Eppard multi-tracking his own voice, and they're good. There's a hook in this song too, but not as insistent or as instant as in the previous --- kind of wanders around a bit like someone who's had a few too many trying to find his way home in the dark, then “High times” reminds me of the Lostprophets, with maybe a dash of Snow Patrol, uptempo but much less heavy than “Sparrow”. Next up, “Numbers” comes in on a rolling drumbeat, then jangly guitar and there's a certain edge of funk mixed with hard rock on this, decent guitar solo that doesn't go over the top but makes its point. Towards the end though it does become little more than a vehicle for Eppard and Riker to show off their guitar skills, which are, it has to be said, admirable.

One of the longer songs on the album, “One with the sun” is introduced on almost pastoral acoustic guitar, a kind of post-Beatles vibe to the track, probably the closest on the album so far to out-and-out prog rock, or at least, what I consider prog rock. Makes me think of It Bites, actually. Quite similar. Yeah, the more I listen to it the more I hear It Bites in there. I like this one, best so far. Joey Eppard has a voice that's very easy on the ear: he doesn't seem to shout or scream, but you can hear him clearly on every track, and his voice has a great warmth to it. All too soon, “One with the sun” is over, and we're into the title track.

A heavier sound on this, almost a stripped-down sound, sharp guitar and pounding drums but I don't really hear the actual melody until about a minute into the song when the chorus kicks in. It's certainly a song of two halves, as it were: the verses have their own separate sound while the chorus is much more melodious and together I feel. “Afterglow” has a sort of Britpop feel to it, nice chunky guitars and quite commercial --- could see this as maybe a single being released from the album. There's something of a return to the prog-rock sensibilities of “One with the sun” then for “It's alive”, kind of early Yes in its makeup, and those guitars without doubt sound like keyboards, but I'll take their word that they aren't using keys. Heavy sound on the chorus, which seems to be something of a signature with 3: one sound on the verse, another almost completely different on the chorus. Certainly keeps it interesting, but are these guys being too varied? I'm beginning to think so.

“Only child”, the longest track on the album at just over seven minutes, slows things down for I guess what you would accept as being a ballad, though it kind of goes along at a mid-pace, and again I could swear there are keyboards in there! It's got a sort of Spanish rhythm to it: you could almost imagine some girl in a flame-red dress dancing the flamenco to this. Then about halfway in the guitars get heavier, then lighter but faster, more technical, and the song kind of goes into a faster rhythm, picking up speed and getting more intense as it goes on. What sounds like violins or cellos at the end adds a nice extra dimension to the song.

An acoustic ballad closes the album, and “The barrier” is about the most straightforward of their songs I've heard now. It's very relaxing, and I am sure I can hear piano in the background but again none is credited. Nice little guitar solo in the song, very effective and also what sounds like accordion, but I'm sure it isn't.

I really don't know what to make of this album. My initial impression is that 3 are trying too hard to be all things to all men, and that seldom if ever works out well. Just when you think you've got a handle on their style, they change it --- often within the same song --- and it can be very unsettling and jarring. If all their music was like “The barrier”, “One for the sun” and “React”, I think I would be quite fond of and impressed with this album, but as it is it's just confusing me, jumping from style to style, genre to genre, and I'm left with a feeling of not knowing where I am, or what to think.

So all I can suggest is that you have a listen to it and decide if you like it or not. I can't recommend it, but in fairness I can't not recommend it either.

TRACKLISTING

1. Sirenum scopuli
2. React
3. Sparrow
4. High times
5. Numbers
6. One with the sun
7. The ghost you gave to me
8. Pretty
9. Afterglow
10. It's alive
11. Only child
12. The barrier
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