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Soul Asylum —The Silver Lining




Bottom Line:
Soul Asylum

The Silver Lining

Melodic Rock

2.5 Stars
It’s like reliving 1992 all over again!

Somewhere between The Goo Goo Dolls and Bruce Springsteen you can find Soul Asylum. Unfortunately, that’s not really a good place to find yourself. The songs aren’t quite as catchy as the former, and the lyrical content isn’t as refined as the latter.

The music is melodic rock with an Americana folk-rock bent, but it sounds old and seriously dated. Rather than evolving over the years, it seems like Soul Asylum found themselves watching far too many late ‘80s teen movies and put out a record that sounds more like a classic teen movie soundtrack than a modern melodic rock or pop album.

I really wanted to like this record, but updated songs of the caliber of their first big hit, “Runaway Train,” were nowhere to be found. Don’t get me started on the lyrics, either – this record is an excellent study in rock-n-roll clichés. You know almost every line before Dave Pirner sings it, but I suppose that helps make it at least somewhat catchy.

The production was fine, but pretty basic. Acoustic guitar, some electric guitar, bass, drums, and some crooning. Simply stated, it’s just very average music from a band who could have done better.

– SK

Rullian —Chameleons In Disguise




Bottom Line:

Chameleon In Disguise
Progressive Rock/Fusion

3 Stars

Instrumental fusion showcasing multitudes of musical styles
composed in story line format.

Composer/Musician Raoul Renoa left no stone unturned when composing Chameleons In Disguise. This CD is a melting pot of music fusing Rock, Folk, Pop, Techno, Jazz, Funk, Classical and New World Music into a non-lyrical, instrumental orchestration. For most, this may not be pleasing as the CD needs to be listened to multiple times in order to grasp its musical path.

Structured like a concept album, the twenty-seven tracks (yes, twenty-seven!) were intended to be listened to as one entire piece of music taking the listener through a story type landscape. In addition to some heavy rocking guitar tracks, the orchestral instrumentation and symphonic compositions provide a wide variety of fusion between musical styles which adds depth and emotional feeling throughout the collection.

At first listen, the opener is sure to mislead you – it’s an orchestral piece featuring acoustic guitar. The feel is light and airy, though a little tense due to some intonation issues ( I’m not sure if that was meant to be in the scheme of things or if the producer had an ear infection that day). After a short introduction, the piece transitions immediately into track two, three and four which contain heavy, creative, guitar textures and progressive solo lines. Through the remainder of the collection, the listener is guided through a plethora of musical textures and styles. For most listeners, though, it’s too many changes without being attached to an actual story line or Rock Opera concept.

Though not meant to be a guitar-featured album, Raoul demonstrates his guitar proficiency on the album throughout. His playing is very clean and articulate, but nothing new here to identify him as an icon. The listener can identify styles and tones of Eric Johnson, Leo Kotke and Al DiMeola to name a few.

During some of the excerpts (all tracks are not complete songs), we found some groves to be repetitious and joined together without meaning. Though the writer may have been inspired by a certain lick or groove, we often times lost interest halfway through a track.

You won’t walk away from this album with a hook stuck in your head, nor will you be humming a melodic line from any of the tracks. What you may get from this CD is some great orchestration ideas and a reference source for many guitar styles, techniques and tones. From a listener’s standpoint, the selection should have consisted of half the tracks. We feel focus should have been on quality of songwriting (production values were excellent) rather than quantity of songs. Sometimes, less actually is more.

– DD
Porcupine Tree Arriving Somewhere...




Bottom Line:
Porcupine Tree

Arriving Somewhere

Progressive Rock

3.5 Stars
Inspired performance from one of today’s best progressive rock bands.

Filmed in Chicago in October 2005, Porcupine Tree are seen and heard in outstanding musical form, delivering music drawn primarily from their two most recent releases, Deadwing and In Absentia.

With a sound that tends to fall somewhere between Marillion and Pink Floyd, but with a heavy prog metal touch thrown in here and there for good measure, Porcupine Tree deliver outstanding live performances of their most popular songs. Singer/guitarist Steven Wilson, keyboardist Richard Barbieri, bassist Colin Edwin, and drummer Gavin Harrison are accompanied by John Wesley on second guitar and additional vocals.

The audio quality is excellent, and the video production was also top notch, drenched in an artistic treatment reminiscent of old Super-Eight home movies interspersed with beautiful high quality video that lets you really see the details you care about on stage.

The bonus disc has some great extras including a few additional live concert tracks from other shows, the promo video for “Lazarus,” and an amazing performance video called “Cymbal Song,” performed solo by Gavin with nothing but… cymbals! Percussionists won’t want to miss this awesome bonus.


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