echolyn – “I Heard You Listening” REVIEW

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By Mike Lieto

On July 31st, echolyn will be releasing their much anticipated new album I Heard You Listening” and, once again, they have created another amazing work filled with depth, love, and musicality of the highest order.

This album is another step forward for the mighty echolyn. Masters of their craft, they continue to show their impeccable songwriting skill and monumental musicianship throughout this album. Overall, it sounds like a mix of The End is Beautiful and their last album, but still new and fresh. In fact, with each listen, I Heard You Listening sounds more and more unique, and there is something to love about every track. This is a slow grower of the best kind. As usual, there is a lot of emotional depth here, which is conveyed lovingly. There are also a lot of harder rock moments on this one than the last album, which gives this one a bit more of an edge than the others.

As usual, the singing is impeccable. Ray and Brett sound the best they have ever sounded to these ears, and the vocal harmonies are just stunning. Paul Ramsey continues to be a hidden hero in the band. His drumming is understated and not at all flashy, but he is the perfect anchor for the band. Every fill and groove is perfect. It takes a really masterful drummer to pull this off, especially in progressive music, and Paul does it perfectly. Tom (and sometimes Ray) is right there with him with great bass playing and support.

The guitar parts are awesome and there are some great tones throughout the album. For me, its Chris’s keyboard that work really shines on this album. He has some absolutely gorgeous parts and some moments of real power. He continues to use some killer sounds to their fullest effect. These parts also illustrate how well orchestrated these songs are. echolyn really are masters of the art of song craft.

Of course, the lyrics are top notch. echolyn are one of the only bands that I really have a deep, personal connection with. Their lyrics are at times just what I am thinking and feeling, or an emotion that I feel but can’t quite express what it is. Their songs have helped me to find some guidance on my path and to get through some darker days, and for that I am ever grateful. This album is a continuation of this higher lyrical standard, and once again I am finding new lyrical amazement here. There are even some lyrical callbacks to earlier works (“Past Gravity” “The End is Beautiful” for example). Pay attention to the lyrics when you listen, there’s some powerful prose throughout.

A brief track-by-track breakdown:

“Messenger of All’s Right”: An opener that gets better and better each time I hear it. This one has some of my favorite lyrics on the album, and some gorgeous harmonies too. There is a great Brett guitar solo in the middle. One of my favorite tracks on here.

“Warjazz”: Probably the “proggiest” song on the album, energized and tons of fun. Probably sounding the closest to older echolyn than anything they’ve done in a while. Paul’s drumming is absolutely mesmerizing. Another favorite.
“Empyrean Views”: This one didn’t click for me until about the 4th listen. This is the longest song on the album and it is quite pretty. There’s an amazing little building to the powerful “Calls to the destination” section that adds so much depth. Great Brett lyrics here too. A perfect example of why this album is a great slow grower.

“Different Days”: One of the hardest rocking tunes on the album. A real fun tune with some really great piano and bass parts.

“Carried Home”: My cohost’s favorite song on the album, and it’s a beauty. On first listen, I said ‘meh’ to this one, but on the second listen it took me and shook me. Now its one of my favorites on the album. Wonderful atmosphere and GREAT keyboard sounds!

“Once I Get Mine”: For me, this is the most The End is Beautiful sounding track. It could fit right in. Some Cowboy Poems Free like percussion in there. It has a killer ending, with throbbing bass and a pretty acoustic guitar break.

“Sound of Bees”: This is the tune that grabbed me the most at first listen. A beautiful song with some of my favorite Ray lyrics he’s written yet. “Not to be able to make people happy well it, it clouds my everything” is a stunner of a line. There’s even some awesome bee buzzing-like guitar flurries in the beginning verse. This song is one that I really relate too, and my favorite on the album.

“All The Time We’re Given”: Memories, dealing with mortality, this is an important one. Powerful and one of the most expressive on the album, this is a favorite for sure. “Although we’re given back to the oak and vein the light we lived in will shine on us again” is my favorite lyric on the album.

“Vanishing Sun”: The other tune I’m not too crazy about. Great moment at about 5 minutes in, but for me this song is just not as great as the others on this one.

Overall, this album is pretty spectacular. Lots of great music to discover on here that really begins to invade your conscience and stay with you. Another great collection of songs from one of the best bands out there, who continue to prove time and again they are tremendous songwriters. Yes, echolyn has done it again. One of the best albums of 2015 for sure. It hard for me to rate it just yet because its still growing on me and gets better with each listen but I’ll say this: 9/10. Great work boys!

echolyn’s I Heard You Listening will be featured on Deep Cuts on Thursday, July 16th!

 

Romantic Warriors 3 – Canterbury Tales Review

Romantic Warriors Canterbury tales coverRomantic Warriors 2 – About Rock in Opposition arrived at a time in my life when quite a lot of things were changing for me. I had just finished my first year at college and had been a fan of classic progressive rock pretty much my entire life. In June of 2012, I discovered that the world of progressive rock was bigger and more vibrant then I’d ever dreamed it to be when I went to the North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) in Bethlehem, PA to see Van der Graaf Generator and left a fan of bands I’d never heard of before such as Aranis, Anglagard, and Gosta Berlings Saga.

During the course of the festival, I met filmmakers Adele Schmidt and Jose Zegarra Holder who had just released the second film in the Romantic Warriors documentary film series. I had heard of Rock in Opposition and had owned a handful of albums by people like Univers Zero, Henry Cow, and Magma, but not much more, so I purchased it not quite knowing what to expect. When I saw this documentary, the very human story at its core – the struggle of the idealistic musician vs. the music business machine – ignited a passion for this little known and under-appreciated subgenre that has lasted through this very day. Continue reading “Romantic Warriors 3 – Canterbury Tales Review”

Some Thoughts on Daevid Allen

Daevid Allen

I am absolutely gutted to hear the news from Daevid Allen, singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the legendary band Gong.  If you have not seen the news yet, read it here.

As the Canterbury Yahoo Group, What’s Rattlin’, is accepting personal notes to Daevid, I thought I would add my own thoughts as well. I’ve been pulling for Daevid’s full recovery since the announcement of his illness and I’m deeply saddened to hear this news. I’m not the type to write to my favorite musicians, but I made a exception this time.

I can only assume that I’m one of Daevid’s youngest fans.  I first discovered the music of Gong via a Facebook friend shortly before my senior year of High School (2010 – 2011).  Someone, who recognized my interest in progressive / creative / avant garde rock music, shared a video of Gong performing “Radio Gnome Invisible” on my Facebook wall and I instantly fell in love.  The whimsical Englishness of the vocals, the spacey electronics, the soprano saxophone, and the quirky lyrics about “teapots in the sky” appealed to me immediately.  I loved the wit, the charm, and the surreal nature of the song and the performance.

I immediately bought Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg, and You and played them endlessly over the following year; I just loved those records to death.  Later I bought Camembert Electrique and 2032 and loved those equally. At this point, those records are engrained in my psyche and my heart and now, in my senior year of college, I still dig them out and play them, reliving that funny, jaw dropping, and inspiring music all over again.

This past year, I heard Gong’s latest, I See You, and was happy to see that they were still alive and had lost none of their bite and have enjoyed playing that one on my commutes to and from college.  I was so excited to hear new Gong music and Daevid’s voice and writing in such fine form; despite his condition, I really hoped this was not a swan song. I desperately wanted to see him perform live and more records down the line, but as a swan song, I See You is a fitting cap to a tremendous career.

Daevid’s words of optimism are truly inspiring and I respect him to no end for his enduring positive vibes.  It was those same positive vibes (no, different vibes than the ones in “Love is How Y Make It”!) that drew me into Gong’s music in the first place.

Thank you again, Daevid. He will live on forever through your life’s work that will continue to be treasured by future generations. What more could an artist hope to achieve?

Ian Beabout

Image: http://imgkid.com/daevid-allen.shtml