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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Pete Macleod

Rolling Stone

Review by Gary Hill

Looking just to the album proper, this is nearly perfect. It’s got a great blend of folk rock, classic sounds and other things that just works well. This is the kind of music that appeals to just about any type of listener. Sure, it might not be the favorite type of music for a progressive rock fanatic or a metal head, but it’s the kind of thing they’d be happy to spin. The only real issue here is the hidden track. For a number of reasons (outlined in that track review) it should have been left off. Without that thing there, this would be a nearly perfect set. As it is, it’s still pretty great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let It Shine

Light and breezy, this has a real classic rock vibe. Still, there are elements of modern alternative rock and pop here. Whatever you call it, though, this is a happy song that’s quite accessible. It’s a great way to start the set in style.

Keep Your Dreams Alive
Perhaps this one is a bit more rock and roll. It’s no less compelling or classic in nature, though. It’s another killer rocker that works really well.
Rolling Stone
Somehow I’m reminded of The Byrds a bit on the opening section here. The main song, though, has a lot of the folk rock sound that was so big in the 1970s. This is another that really feels classic and familiar while being fresh and new. I really like the slide guitar solo on this a lot.
Give a Little Love
Imagine a Supertramp sound done as a 1970s folk rock tune. You’ll have a good idea of what this sounds like. It’s another that really feels familiar and yet it’s new and fresh.
Hold Me Now
As good as everything to this point was, this is even better. It’s still got that same folk rock vibe, but there’s a real soaring kind of element here. The guitar sound has a real dramatic feeling to it.
God Speed
There’s more of an energetic vibe here. This rocks out a bit more. It’s also quite classic in nature and delivery. It’s one of the catchier cuts. It’s also got more of the modern rock and pop sound to it than most of the other stuff does.
On the Other Side (Part 1)
A little spoken sound bite is heard on the dramatic and yet mellow introduction to this. The cut grows out to something that has a lot of progressive rock in the mix. It’s lush and dreamy. It’s also quite powerful. It’s one of my favorites on the set. Yet, it still fits with the rest of the album very well.
Panic
There’s a spacey psychedelic element to this cut. It’s another that’s among the best here. It’s dramatic and powerful. It might not be the instant classic than some of the other music here is, but this is just great.
Re: Ality
I love the intricate picked acoustic guitar sounds that drive this. The thing is, as cool as that is, the vocal arrangement on this is even better. This is arguably the best tune of the whole disc. It’s classic and classy and just a great piece of music.
Today I Went Swimming
This is very much a classic rocker. It’s got that same folk rock vibe to it. I’m reminded of Neil Diamond a bit. It’s another strong cut and a great way to end the disc in style. It’s definitely the kind of piece that will have you singing along. Now, mind you, this is not actually the last track.
Hidden Track
This is the big mistake of the album. I mean, the whole thing of hidden tracks is kind of a cliché these days and really old fashioned. Even so, if it’s just a few minutes of silence setting it up, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. This time, though, it’s almost a half hour of silence after the final tune. That gives way to a full song done backwards. It’s way too long to wait for it and too much of a novelty to make the pay-off work. This album would have been much better if this had been avoided.

 

 
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