Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
The Tea Club - Quickly Quickly Quickly CD (album) cover


The Tea Club


Crossover Prog

4.10 | 250 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars QQQ - Good things come in threes

Back in 2003 Dan McGowan awoke from a strange dream. As he would often do after dreaming he grabbed his notebook and jotted down the contents of said dream before falling back asleep. When he awoke he found a drawing of a curious caterpillar-like creature gracing his page, with the letters "qqq" above it, perhaps his name, perhaps something more obscure. Ten years later brother Pat McGowan and his friend Shaun were throwing around album titles for the new Tea Club release when "Quickly Quickly Quickly" was pulled from a book Shaun was reading. Dan was not sold at first until the name was abbreviated by Pat in a text message and the "qqq" creature emerged from the recesses of his mind. Being a fan of coincidence he also noted some "three" themes emerging: QQQ, their third album, three members departing and three remaining. And so it was meant to be.

The Teas have been through some turbulence since the 2010 release of their breakthrough second album "Rabbit." Kyle Minnick's departure was followed by some band building which added three members to the fold, bringing them to a fleshed out group of six talented musicians. They played ProgDay and later on proudly shared a stage with modern prog bigshots Beardfish. They worked intensely on a new collection of material which would showcase the band's new muscle and recorded again with the sage of Big Blue Meanie Studios, Tim Gilles. About a year ago guitarist Jim Berger had quit the band. Then in early August keyboardist Becky Osenenko left the band and in late September bassist Charles Batdorf followed, leaving the Tea Club at three. With QQQ hitting the streets in November 2012 the push is on to find some new blood. Do not worry that these departures will stop the music as Dan, Pat, and Joe remain committed to following the sparkle of the moon's eye.

The new album picks up where "Rabbit" left off and but finds the band pushing further into longer, slightly more complex tracks. Four long pieces grace this new album including their first epic to approach the 20 minute mark. "Firebears" enters like intruders busting down your door, a roar of sounds, glorious heady maelstrom. Drummer Joe Rizzolo leads the charge with insane bashing as the keys and guitars are fused in a "Relayer" level of intensity--the jamming is just triumphant! When the intro rolls into the verse Pat sings "Someone left the door unlocked, now all the wolves are getting in" and the warning is punctuated with these four punches-reminds me of how Densmore used to talk about punctuating Morrison's lines. After the intense first section the track drops into this quiet, spacious middle interlude that has a dreamy feel. It's one of the loveliest sections of the album as Pat delivers a very intimate vocal over Becky's extended piano section, a lovely melody with a sad feel to it. In one part it gets very quiet and it's friggin amazing, just a stark emotional vocal against the most beautiful piano and some light guitar color. The music works well with the colorful lyrical themes touching on conformity and growing up, among other things, perhaps becoming a modern 18 minute lyrical soulmate to Jefferson Airplane's "Lather." The final third sees the return of the heaviness and energy along with a reassuring vocal melody, it's just effortlessly enjoyable. I completely disagree with one of the blog reviews on Firebears which found the track unfocused and generally lacking compared to the rest. On the contrary it is the strongest track here and one of their richest songs, anchoring this album in thrilling adventure. It is well assembled with so many enjoyable components to take in. It's music that really makes me feel.

"The Eternal German Infant" begins with some tangy guitar and whimsical sounding lyrics about Chocolate Wolf and Pepper Witch. Dan's vocal here is as cool as Pat's in Firebears, very rich and exposed. Apart and together in harmonies the vocals are one of the attributes that elevates The Tea Club above so many bands. Likewise their interweaving free-willed guitar playing returns, this time slightly less to the fore as the keyboards on QQQ are now a complete part of the sound. There is a great balance between guitars and keys, while the rhythm section is more elaborate. "Mr. Freeze" is a truly creepy track that reminded me the character-driven dark stories of Spiral, my other favorite US band of the moment (The USA is often overlooked by the prog snobs but has so much rich music). With slow, spidery guitar lines and a character vocal that sounds like Peter Gabriel deep in costumed recitation it is wonderful fun. There is a cool 2-minute interlude with moody acoustic, electric effects, and bass. The closer "I Shall Consume Everything" features some stellar, swift guitar picking and music that builds to ferocious intensity before Dan unloads the tension with "I knew you were gonna pull this!" (I just love that part and am already singing along, scary as that fact is!) The vocals of QQQ transition so effortlessly between the intense and the serene, with plenty of attention to the arrangements. I joked with Dan once about how challenging it must be to pull off their vocals live and I'm sure it gets no easier with these tracks.

Just as Rabbit was clearly a better album than General Winter, QQQ shows further sonic growth over its predecessor. But the Teas have avoided the trap of getting mired down in too much cerebral posturing or unnecessary shred. They achieve pleasing complexity without abandoning their strengths: unapologetic melody, colorful storytelling, and an authentic, intimate connection to their listener. Tea Club fans care about these albums because these guys give a bit of themselves to the listener, and that matters. They also manage to keep the most appealing aspects of the "Tea Club vibe" there for their fans while challenging themselves at their various personal craft. That is not easy to pull off. Many bands who try to force "progressiveness" for the sake of it end up with music that just isn't that much fun to listen to. And I'm too old for that crap.

The album's cover, like Rabbit, was painted by a wonderful artist named Kendra DeSimone ( I strongly suggest you check out her website if you're an art fan. In addition the inner package artwork features the cool drawings of Dan and Pat, one of those personal touches that sure beats the homogenous artwork of some other artists. One of 2012's gems.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this THE TEA CLUB review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives