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Beardfish - Sleeping In Traffic - Part One CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.05 | 460 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Beardfish is a band that is rapidly gaining ground, and with a release like their two part Sleeping in Traffic idea, the reasons why are pretty clear.

First off, I must note that while the band is clearly throwing tributes out to some of their favorite 70s prog bands, the music, while reminiscent of some of these, is independent and completely unique to the band. That is, of course, also not to say that all of the songs here are simply tributes to other ones. A few might be classified as such, but the majority are Beardfish tunes, through and through. The Zappa influence is a lot stronger on the second part of the two album series, but even here it is notable. As far as the band goes, the vocalist, interestingly enough, reminds me often of Jeff Buckley, though he spends less time in falsetto and in long wails. The instruments are all what you'd expect, with talented guitars, quirky keyboards, and some jazzy drums. The bass guitar, I must add, gets a workout and gets its own spotlight often, which is a huge plus. It really adds to the sound. In a number of ways, this is a less pompous, less heavy, and less complicated Pain of Salvation, in a good way. It has the same strengths (great vocalist, clever instrument lines, intriguing songwriting) with less of a single-writer feel.

The album opens with the little intro ...On the Verge of Sanity. It segues then into Sunrise, a solid and catchy track that showcases a very odd and unique keyboard solo, among other things. The vocalist even dabbles in a rough and almost screaming style at the end, which simply shows that the band is fully willing to use any tool at their disposal. Afternoon Conversation is a shorter and more poppy tune, being pretty mellow. The guitars and the vocals really play off each other well when they're both present. And Never Know is a fair bit wilder and almost punk-influenced at points. On this track, too, the guitars and vocals are the most impressive aspect, though the bass really gets some groove in there. Next comes this album's longest track, Roulette, a more neo-prog sort of tune, reminiscent of later IQ or modern Galahad. The chorus is catchy and emotive, but the true highlight here is the wonderful keyboard work, such as the accordion bit near the end of the song. Very clever and slightly Eastern European. Dark Poet is another gentle and poppish track in the vein of Afternoon Conversation, though, like the title would suggest, it's much darker and more haunting.

The album continues with Harmony, this time featuring a strong Yes vibe, especially in the intro. When I wrote earlier that the vocalist sounds like Jeff Buckley some of the time, this is the perfect example of what I mean. Harmony moves slowly, but it nevertheless carries a lot of passion throughout its length.The Ungodly Snob is a strange piece, a preview of the quirkiness that will dominate the second part of Sleeping in Traffic. It opens with a bit of acoustic hoedown noises, before dropping into a moody guitar bit underscored by funky bass. Not an easy song to get a hold on quickly, it nevertheless is an energetic statement of creativity. The bass and the keyboards are the highlight of this piece. Year of the Knife moves in next, a song clearly influenced by Gentle Giant, especially their song Free Hand. It's a fast paced and catchy tune that ends in a long fading string and keyboards section. Without You is the third shorter and quieter song, after Afternoon Conversation and Dark Poet. This time, the music is just melancholic and sad. It then moves into the slow-burning Same Old Song. This final track has a lot of Genesis influence, though, again, it is in no way a rip-off of the Genesis sound. A piano solo in the middle gives this a very mature feel. It gradually picks up and gets moving faster, wrapping up the album in an epic sort of way.

What we have with this release is the first part of a very strong duo of albums from Beardfish. This is highly recommended to fans of classic prog, neo-prog, Pain of Salvation, or any sort of music that encourages creativity and complexity without sacrificing melody and raw entertainment value. Very much a band that deserves to be heard more.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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