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Earlier this year I reviewed Crocodile’s 2019 album ‘Howling Mad Black Music Under Hot Stars’, and now I have gone back in time to 2018 to discover their debut. This is a concept album, based on the boss of a firm one of the guys worked for on remodelling/renovating houses. Apparently, they worked together on and off for 15 years, and this album was then written some 15 years on from that, during which time they had not been in contact. However, on checking out their site it appears they have since presented Stan with a copy of the album and he loves it! It is the same four guys from Austen, Texas on each album, namely Greg Seale (drums), Thomas Shaw (keyboards and vocals), Kevin Sims (guitar and lead vocals) and Ted Thomas (bass and vocals). Somewhat unsurprisingly, given it is the same personnel, and there is only a year between their first two albums, this is in a very similar vein to the follow-up and consequently I love it. As I said for the second release, here is an American band which do not sound American at all, but very British indeed. The electric guitar is far more hard rock in timbre and attack than many, but there is also a great deal of complexity and angularity in their attack. That they are influenced by pronk as much as neo prog is never in doubt, yet it is the blending of this with more traditional styles which really makes them stand out. Gentle Giant is never far away from what they are doing, both in the timely use of glockenspiel and the long instrumental sections which always have direction and purpose as opposed to meandering. Mind you, the tile track always makes me think of classic 10CC which is not what many people expect from a prog act! I somehow can’t imagine Eric Gouldman singing the repeated line which is the main lyric on what is a mostly instrumental song. They use harmony vocals when the time is right, move the music around in terms of tempo and attack, and the result is something where the listener is never sure where they are going to be taken but know it will always be with a big smile on their face. Both their albums are well worth investigating, so I wonder when the next one is due?
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