ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Godsticks - 2009 - "Godsticks"

(22:48, 'Godsticks')


Prolusion. The UK outfit GODSTICKS was formed in 2006, initially as a cover act. The trio soon started contemplating making their own compositions though - in particular due to what they felt was a lack of music created of the kind that they really loved, so they decided to make those tunes themselves. Their first effort is a self-named 5-track EP issued in 2008 and after its release the band has managed to gain a solid reputation, being included in the cover CD of the first edition of Classic Rock's new progressive rock magazine, probably the most notable achievement for this outfit so far.

1.  Not the Face 4:21
2.  Only When Provoked 4:41
3.  Puppy Gardener 5:27
4.  Venial 4:50
5.  Clinical 3:30


Darran Charles – vocals; guitar; piano
Jason Marsh – bass 
Aaron Evans – drums (1, 4, 5)
Steve Roberts – drums (2, 3)

Analysis. Many reviewers and musicians have been in awe over the so far brief output of this act, which is understandable. In a world where a plethora of new albums are issued each year, coming across an act where influences are hard to place – or even find – is an eye-opener in itself. That the musicians are adept on their instruments, have developed the foundations for a signature sound and have been skilled in marketing themselves certainly helps a new band to get attention. Their chosen field, judging from this first effort, seems to be the field of art pop. The songs are light, pleasant and filled with a joyful spirit, and dominating, distinct and melodic vocals are just as important for the mainstream oriented elements of their stylistic expression as the light, easygoing guitars and generally pleasant soundscapes created. Beneath the light and pleasant atmospheres thus created some pretty nifty instrumental work hides, especially the guitar patterns are rather quirky and complex at times on closer inspection, and also the highly distinct bass guitar provides elements of a nature you won't find too often in music aimed towards a broader audience. As for the guitars, the acoustic and undistorted varieties are the ones most often utilized on this effort, often harmonizing with some pretty nifty piano themes. Some distorted riffs and licks are found as well; but slightly toned down and with an emphasis on melody rather than contrast. The guitar soloing is of the melodic variety, creating moods being more important than showcasing speed in these segments of the compositions. For me most of this effort, while undeniably showing a lot of talent, tends to come across as rather too pleasant. The one exception, Puppy Gardener, is also my personal favorite. Especially the first half of this song is truly fascinating, adding some distinct jazz-influenced elements and possessing a higher degree of contrast in the sonic tapestry than what's found in the other tracks.

Conclusion. Godsticks is a talented act, and their brand of positive, melodic art pop should be a pleasant discovery for those into the lighter side of progressive music, as well as a broader mainstream-oriented audience looking for music of a higher complexity than what's found on the radio these days. Those favoring highly complex musical escapades might be somewhat put off by the light, optimistic atmosphere dominating this effort from start to finish though; even if there's some pretty nifty instrumental efforts to be found on closer inspection.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: Agst 21, 2009
The Rating Room

Godsticks - 2009 - "Godsticks"


Analysis. GODSTICKS’ debut EP is yet another example of how prog and mainstream music can meet and interact more or less successfully. While none of the five songs can be called genuinely ground-breaking, they make a rather interesting listen, with plenty of vocal harmonies, liberal sprinklings of piano and other keyboards, and a wickedly funky rhythm section. Their prog quotient (as I like to put it), however, is not immediately evident, and a first-time listener may be forgiven for thinking that Godsticks are just an ‘intelligent’ pop band ended up on this site by mistake. On the other hand, they undeniably have at least one thing going for them: in spite of their past as a cover band, Godsticks sound original, so that terms of comparison are far from easy to find. Though melodic, they are never cheesy or trite as other modern ‘crossover’ bands, and the funky spicing of their music – in which, not surprisingly, bass lines are quite prominent – goes very well with the big, meaty sound of the guitar and the keyboards. All the five songs on the EP follow a mid-tempo pattern, with vocals often taking centre stage, and nicely balanced instrumental parts. There is very little to suggest the harder varieties of rock, unless one counts the occasional riff and slightly more aggressive guitar work on the disc’s centrepiece, the quirkily-titled Puppy Gardener. The vocals, though not stellar, are more than adequate, and shun the all-too-frequent Beatles-que mould in favour of a more streamlined approach. As previously mentioned, Godsticks produce a remarkable volume of music for a three-piece, and in several instances the instrumentation feels positively lush – as in the second half of Only When Provoked, a song that features some really brilliant drumming. Though the prog connection can be elusive at a superficial listen, it slowly emerges when concentrating more carefully on the music rather than on the vocals (which can be admittedly distracting). Abrupt shifts in time signature, pauses and instrumental interludes are to be found in all the tracks, though they are definitely more prominent in the first three – while both Venial and Clinical come across as more straightforward and laid-back. And then, Godsticks’ music has the added bonus of being upbeat and humorous, unlike the convoluted navel-gazing of numerous modern prog bands, or the gloom and doom of far too much prog-metal.

Conclusion. Those who are looking for a traditional prog band, with intricately virtuosic playing and20-minute epics, or who blanch at the mere mention of ‘progressive pop’, should give this EP a miss. On the other hand, those who like funky, uplifting music with more than a pinch of quirky humour thrown in for good measure (Beardfish fan, take note) will find a lot to appreciate in “Godsticks”. This is a band with quite a bit of potential – hopefully we will not have to wait too long for a full-length release.

TB=Raffaella Berry: Agst 21, 2009
The Rating Room

Related Links:



ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages