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(48:12, Cuneiform Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Drag You Down 4:32 2. Trial of Error 4:34 3. This Is the New That 4:58 4. Pre-Somnia 1:27 5. Sleep 3:48 6. Barely Breathing 3:18 7. Life in Pollyana 3:19 8. Death by Pollyanna 3:21 9. Drug You Down 0:44 10. Salad Dies 4:08 11. Post-Somnia 1:11 12. Cynical Girl 2:12 13. Go Gaunt Green 0:29 14. Empty Province 4:41 15. Provincial Din 5:12 LINEUP: Thymme Jones – vocals; keyboards; brasses; drums Jeff Libersher – vocals; guitar; keyboards; trumpet Alex Perkolup – vocals; bass Carmen Armillas – vocals D Bayne – keyboards; trombone With: Andrea Faught – vocals; keyboards Lise Gilly – saxophones
Prolusion. According to the press kit of this CD, “No Ifs, Ands or Dogs” is the 17th release by America’s CHEER-ACCIDENT. The review of the outfit’s previous album, “Fear Draws Misfortune” from 2009, sheds more light on its history, though.
Analysis. This is my first acquaintance with the band’s work. After reading the above review (which was written by one of my former workmates on the site), I only expected positive vibes from “No Ifs, Ands or Dogs”, but was at times disappointed too. There are fifteen tracks here with an average track length barely exceeding three minutes. If you can imagine a compilation of pop rock songs by mid-60s Beatles and hard-edged avant-garde compositions by King Crimson circa “Red”, often alternating with each other, you’ll have some-to-a-certain, idea of the album, even though the band uses quite a few of other genres too, from pop art to Jazz-Fusion, throwing them all into the disc’s fire-box (by your permission), at times trying to combine some really/originally incompatible ones, such as on Salad Dies where avant-garde Art-Rock adjoins a DJ-like stuff. It’s not too easy to describe such a stylistically motley outing as this one, so I’ll continue with its shortest four items, ranging from 30 seconds to one and a half minutes in length, as all of those are overall mono-stylistic. Drug You Downand Pre-Somnia are each a four-voice choral vocalization as it is and with some musical background respectively. Go Gaunt Green is a brief interplay between piano and trumpet, perhaps performed impromptu. Finally, Post-Somnia is a guitar soundscape with some hints of minimalist classical music. Now it’s the turn of pieces of a full-band sound on which the musicians aren’t blazing any trails as players either, instead going for a rhythmically steady, though never urgent, approach. While as well executed as almost everything on the album, Barely Breathing and Cynical Girl are simple melodic pop rock with liberal doses of The Beatles, especially in the vocals (the harmony singing included), the vocalists the main focal point in both cases. To my ears, the pieces lack some energy, plus there’s certain sameness to them that gets repetitive after the second refrain. Drag You Down, Life in Pollyana and Death by Pollyanna all paint a similar picture overall, but are better, since structurally they fall into hard rock category, occasionally revealing even avant-tinged chordal constructions, though. Stylistically, Sleep is a stand-alone piece, most often using vibes and brasses as lead instruments, at times reminiscent of Gong (when both Michelle Bauer and Didier Mahlerbe were parts of the band), but while there are plenty of jazz-fusionesque moves, the music is still quite predictable, at least most of the time. Combining avant-garde and electronic devices, Trial of Error offers moody beds of synthesizers married to programmed drums that make no apologies for their synthetic quality. A drum machine pattern, accompanied by keyboard sequences, always remains the foundation for the piece, even when the music assumes the shape of real avant-garde, which it does within its last third. Most of the music on both This Is the New That and Empty Province is Metal-In-Opposition of the King Crimson variety (with the “Vroom” album coming to mind as often as “The ConstruKction of Light”) and is wonderful in all senses. Unfortunately, besides these two tracks, there’s nothing overtly complex on the album, and even its final piece, Provincial Din, which at first sounds promising, designed as a logical continuation of the last of those, quickly loses its energy, continuing/finishing as a slow synthesizer drone – a 3-minute long one.
Conclusion. What unites all the varied contents of this album is that there’s a strong retro feel to the music almost throughout (it could really be from any time in the last forty years or so), and it doesn’t sound dated in most cases. Nonetheless, only omnivorous music lovers, those who are equally into Progressive and mainstream rock, might like it in its entirety.
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