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A Big Goodbye - Sounds & Silences CD (album) cover


A Big Goodbye


Heavy Prog

3.63 | 78 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars An album and band which appear to be making some waves in the world of prog, and listening to this again tonight, it is very easy to see why. For this 2011 debut from American band A Big Goodbye is about as slick and polished a new work as I have had the pleasure to listen to in a while.

The band are a trio, a la Rush, and like that great band, they certainly make a lot of noise very well between them. It would be interesting to see how all of this transpires live.

There are many influences in their music, and it ranges from almost psychedelic late 1960's, to Floydian passages, to commercial rock, to very heavy, almost metal, prog. In fact, although I agree with the band's categorisation in heavy prog, they could almost fit within eclectic, because there is a whole lot of stuff going on in here.

Opener, Thinking Out Loud, has a very mellow beginning, with acoustic guitar and gentle vocals that remind me strongly of Floyd circa 1970/72. The track then bursts into life with a pounding riff, but accompanied by some very adept Spanish guitar backing. It settles down into a very good heavy rock track and is actually quite commercial (this, as those who read my reviews know, is very much meant as a compliment). A very good start, with all extremely well executed.

Solitude follows. This has a very nice mix of late 60's effects and tone, with the modern sensibility of Porcupine Tree. It is very well performed, and seems to me to be crying out for some decent radio airplay in their homeland, because I think it would catch on very fast. There are some classy riffs with some very nicely performed keyboard work.

The Great Divide clocks in at just short of ten minutes long, and there is a lot going on here, and it is this ability to change the mood, tempo, and performance that keeps a very good track fresh throughout. I really like the acoustic guitar work on this, and on the album as a whole, and the production is so slick that the acoustic backdrop never gets lost amongst the electric riffs. At around 7:50, a sax comes in, and you really do leap up in joy at the audacity of this extremely well performed and clever change in the track. A highlight of 2011 to be sure.

The woodwind theme continues at the start of February Girl, with some fantastic oboe that almost gives you a Supertramp feeling before the track progresses to a standard American rocker. It features some magnificent keyboard work which, in my opinion, should certainly feature more in future releases.

I am less keen on the two tracks which follow, The Door and In My Dreams, and I admit that my attention still wonders somewhat after a few listens now. They both strike me as being very formulaic heavy rock tracks, with very little progressive tendencies at all. The Door does feature a very good guitar solo, and both are very good if you like that sort of thing. However, I get the feeling that these two were possibly early compositions by the trio before they matured. I might be wrong, but that is the impression I get - heavy rock by numbers.

Thankfully, matters recover with a thrill on the closer, and longest track at over 14 minutes long, Memories. This is far more like it. Yes, there are still some pounding riffs, and the drums and bass rhythm section, in the heavier passages, sound fantastically strong. This is a track, though, of very many changes in tempo. It is rather melancholic, and features some more extremely well performed woodwind, keyboard, and acoustic guitar work. It is this type of track which showcases this young band at their best, the ability to create a genuinely moving and clever piece of music that manages skilfully to avoid falling into heavy rock cliches. You will love the closing percussion segment, simple but very effectively performed.

What does strike you about this debut is its very audacious confidence and, very pleasingly, the extremely high production values instilled. All is as clear as a bell, and I do not think it will be too long before this talented trio will be moving onto bigger things. The acoustic passages are lovingly rendered, and, the two formulaic tracks aside, the heavier passages are engaging and very skilful.

A very pleasing listen, I really like this album. I am going to award it three stars, but with the emphasis on it being a good album, and it would easily get 3.5 if we had such a rating. The next release, I feel, will be one to look forward to with relish, but, as it is, this one is highly recommended for you to try.

lazland | 3/5 |


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