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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.
TRACK LIST: 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 LINEUP: Darran Charles – vocals; guitar; piano Jason Marsh – bass With: 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.