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Phideaux - Chupacabras CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.88 | 277 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars I purchased this album because it was far cheaper than Doomsday Afternoon, and it was the first Phideaux album I heard (although I did hear "Formaldehyde" courtesy of the free streaming tracks hosted on a certain website). Everyone I had spoken to about this album while I was waiting for it to arrive in the mail said pretty much the same thing: A solid four stars. I am very much inclined to agree. There's nothing here that is groundbreaking or mind-bogglingly amazing, but to be in search of that misses the point of great music, a category this album easily falls into. What may be most appealing about this record is that Phideaux uses a wide variety of instruments and textures and yet maintains a clear, coherent sound throughout that is their own. What's more, this album has encouraged me to pick up other releases by this celebrated artist.

"Okay" Heavily distorted organ and Mellotron in flute-mode make for the introduction of a two minute prelude, which gives way to a plain electric guitar, deep vocals, and stunning female vocals on top. This appetizer does what it is supposed to do- if I were not completely inclined to listen to this album, this little piece gets me wholly engrossed.

"Chupacabras" Methodical drums, slide guitar, and piano begin this monster that just wouldn't stop growing. The song very soon gets pumped up and full, with various instruments working together during what serves as a main theme. Staccato piano hammers out the chords as the first bit of proper singing comes in. The female vocals are one of the most enchanting aspects of this album, and I'm pleased that Phideaux chose to use them so liberally throughout the album. The piano progression that follows, with washes of cymbals, is an exceptionally beautiful transition. After some wind and barnyard noises (goats, notably- perhaps the supper of the chupacabra!), the piece takes a sudden curve into swamp music, bringing in a twangy Dobro and some acoustic guitar. Almost without realization, it shifts into a more Celtic-flavored part. Sometimes the male vocals are a bit loud and "squeaky," if that makes any sense, which at first really put me off, but now that I've grown accustomed to them, I can confidently say this is one of Phideaux's brightest moments.

"Party" Initially, I balked the first time I heard "Party." The thing was so flamboyant and giddy I almost skipped it out of embarrassment (and I was home alone at the time). And yet this ludicrous-sounding song plastered itself right into my subconscious, and as I found myself begrudgingly singing parts of it ("Speak, only when you are spoken to"), I knew I had to play the album again (including this song). While I'd still say the female vocal is goofy ("It's not nice to leave before the party is over"), I take no shame in saying I look forward to this incredibly quirky piece of music any time I am in the mood for the album. The lyrics make this something like the "Hotel California" of dance balls, I guess.

"Fortress of Sand" Muffled piano and vocals begin this track, right before a clean guitar begins what I consider to be the most tedious part of the album. Ultimately, it's a bland piece, since it's five minutes of post-rock that carries on with the same chord progression, and even though there is some subtle building, it can still try one's patience.

"Ruffian on the Stairs" If the previous track put anyone to sleep, this will wake them right the hell up. A barrage of heavy guitars, drumming, and distorted vocals rip right through the speakers. It's a gritty, biting song that has a fascinating refrain.

"Sunburnt" Phideaux makes great use of various guitar tones and effects in this short song. Dark vocals that almost sound a bit like Billy Idol present the lyrics.

"Return of the Ruffian" What is essentially a reprise of "Ruffian on the Stairs" is more vitriolic and fuller in sound.

"Titan" If there is one track that is not very memorable from this album, it is this final one. Every time it begins to play, I can't remember anything about it. Still, it's a peaceful respite after the wrath of what has come prior. Once again, the female vocals are enthralling, warm, and mature. While perhaps an uninspired way to end a very inspired album, "Titan" is a good work nonetheless.

Epignosis | 4/5 |


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