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Beardfish - Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two CD (album) cover

SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC: PART TWO

Beardfish

Eclectic Prog


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Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Awaken the sleeping!

A very different band by every sense of the word, Beardfish has always excelled with the strange yet not so strange. Quirky yet serious, this eclectic band is definitely one to watch with this release. The second part of their two part Sleeping In Traffic saga is a beast which demands attention. Rockish riffs mix with smooth keyboards, killer bass lines, a beating rhythm and excellent vocals to make something great. The best way to describe the band would be to take their two most talked about influences, (Frank Zappa like songwriting with a touch of King Crimson,) put them in a blender, hit purée, and watch what happens.

The concept over the two albums is this - 24 hours in a person's day. What does s/he see, do, and have happen to them. The second part is the night, as evident by the ambient jangling of the opening intro As The Sun Sets. The night-time section may be expected to make the music more ''dark'', but while it does at parts, the music on the album is mostly upbeat and fun.

Something the band really excels at is just that - keeping the music fun. As evident in a song like South Of The Border, these guys have a sense of humor that they're able to work in well with their tunes as is so rare in music these days with so many artists taking themselves very seriously. The previously mentioned song also has a wonderful riff and hard rock feel that propels it through the story like a hot knife through butter until it reaches its ironic breakdown which is (in a good way) laugh out loud funny. But of course, what better way to follow up a song like this but with a stellar, and quirky, instrumental such as the wonderful Cashflow.

Another excellent standout on the album is the rhythmic The Hunter, its instrumental opening couple of minutes able to induce head bobbing in even the most critical ear. Backed by some floating guitars and synths the song presses finally into the vocals, which only make the song better with its catchy, almost sing along chorus and wonderful melodies.

Along the ''Darker'' side of things are a couple of songs. The opener Into The Night is still upbeat but is able to bring in the feeling of night with its lyrics and breakdowns. The Downward Spiral/Chimay is likely the darkest song on the album however, and also the slowest. Creepy synths and guitars open up the song while the voice comes in to further that feeling. In the end, it's a great track that ends with a couple minutes of great instrumentalism.

The track that most prog heads will be waiting for, however, is the 35+ minute epic that the two albums were named after, Sleeping In Traffic. Starting and finishing with the same great riff this one is a trip of massive proportions. Seemingly overlong the first couple times through, this one eventually catches on with its several excellent segments, and again, quirk. Truly a fun song as Beardfish would be expected to do, the song features a lot of different places and dream sequences as well as references that can keep just about anyone interested the whole way through. Shifting from strait up rock to toned down descriptor sections and winding instrumentals, this one certainly has been planned well by the band.

Then it ends as it began, the sun comes back up with Sunrise Again reprising the intro and taking the album to its end.

While it's definitely going to take a couple of listens to get used to the title track, this one is an excellent album which is worth repeated listens and any prog fan's time. 4 stars! It's hard to come up with many complaints with this one, other than the title track almost requires that one take time out of their day to hear it. Still a wonderful album which is recommended to all!

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#170363)
Posted Friday, May 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
5 stars Having become a big fan of Beardfish in the last year I was really looking forward to this new album, the second part of the Sleeping in Traffic concept. For those of you new to Beardfish they're a pretty eclectic bunch. Influenced by many of the classic seventies, particularly Symphonic Prog bands along with some Zappa with much humour thrown in for good measure. To all this they add their own unique style and so despite the influences give Beardfish their own sound. For those of you more familiar, if you enjoyed any of their previous albums you'll almost certainly enjoy this too. Rikard Sjoblom (Vocals/Keyboards/Guitar) states in the liner notes that this album may take a bit longer getting into than previous albums. He's probably right as it's more complex and includes a 35 minute epic. Having said that I found myself enjoying it first play but with repeated listenings it just gets better and better revealing more of its charm.

Sleeping in Traffic: Part 2 starts as you might imagine, where Part 1 left off. Following someone's day, this is the night time segment opening fittingly with As the Sun Sets, a short Piano only instrumental. Into the Night is next and those seventies influences are immediately apparent, particularly from the strong use of (Hammond?) Organ and the organic production. Dynamics aplenty throughout this excellent track; each player having the musical technique to cope with the twists, turns and subtleties evident not just here, but throughout the album.

First listen I thought The Hunter was going to be an instrumental (we always get a few of these from Beardfish) but at just over 2 minutes the vocals come in for an excellent up tempo melodic piece including a great Keyboard solo. South of the Border as the lyrics state is the story of Gad-About- Garth, a bit of a womaniser it seems...or maybe not! With hilarious lyrics (Zappa influences definitely here) to compliment the excellent instrumentation capturing the band at their heavier end in places.

Cashflow is a typical idiosyncratic Beardfish instrumental and holds the listeners interest throughout its 6 minutes. After the upbeat Cashflow, in contrast we're taken to darker places with The Downward Spiral/Chimay, a more moody atmospheric track.

The overall strength of this album will naturally lie with the 35 plus minute title track; fortunately it's brilliant! There are many instrumental interludes throughout, starting with a strong 4 minute opening section before things come down for some melancholic vocals. The listeners interest is maintained throughout with all the Beardfish trademarks present including an amusing Stayin' Alive (Bee Gees) pastiche when our hero enters a seventies disco. It's a good time to mention David Zackrisson who along with Sjoblom plays some tasty Guitar, always playing to what the track needs rather than bombast and overplaying like many, no names mentioned, might do. The same can also be said of the rhythm section comprising of Bassist Robert Hansen and Drummer Magnus Ostgren who hold together the many twists and turns with ease.

And to close we go full circle to where Sleeping in Traffic: Part 1 started with Sunrise Again, a continuation of the keyboard only album opener As the Sun Sets.

I've sat on this album a few weeks before reviewing it and I'm not one to dish out 5 stars easily but this album is so good and the best so far from possibly the greatest Prog band of recent years it would be churlish not too. I can't recommend this album highly enough.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#172638)
Posted Saturday, May 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars

In my review about Sleeping In Traffic : Part One, I mentioned that Beardfish was scheduled to perform on the first edition of the Dutch Symforce festival in the summer of 2007. Well, I was there and together with my Dutch PA friend Angelo I witnessed that gig, it was awesome, this Swedish four piece band blew us away with their enthousiastic, dynamic, varied and unique progrock. So I was very curious to the successor of Sleeping In Traffic : Part One, simply entitled Sleeping In Traffic : Part Two.

I didn't need much time to get excited about their new album, it even impresses me more than Part One. Beardfish has done their best to deliver varied compositions with lots of musical surprises as you can hear directly in the short first song As The Sun Sets with its electronic atmosphere. Then many alternating and exciting tracks with elements from both Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant and Spock's Beard as the Seventies USA Classic Rock bands. The omnipresent 'churchy' Hammond organ gives a 'Classic Prog touch' and the powerful, often a bit funky bas sound deliver a fat groove to the music, what a delicious melting pot of musical styles. I also like the strong vocals and the fiery guitarplay (with use of the wah- wah pedal). The outstanding 'magnum opus' on this CD is the titletrack (more than 30 minutes): the one moment you hear bluesrock with heavy guitar runs or a mellow part with twanging acoustic guitar and warm vocals, the other moment there is a tango with bandoneon, a compelling interlude with violin- Mellotron or swinging rock with lush Hammond organ. The final part contains a bombastic climate with the unsurpassed Mellotron as an important ingredient.

Beardfish is on the way to become a known band, if you like adventourus and dynamic progrock, don't miss this album!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#172779)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Hey baby, what would you like for breakfast in the morning?'

That's gotta be one of the lamest pick-up line ever, and one of the funniest; and the song South of the Border is full of that college fun. Humor is a part of Beardfish that is not to be negliged when judging their albums...and what a masterpiece this is.

Where to start frankly? There's nothing to throw out yet, and this is like my 10th listening. Every song is carefully crafted, and compared to Sleeping part 1, this one has more instrumental passages, more time changes, more technique, better melodies and more punch...well you get the picture, it's a band that finally found their ground and sound.

Their influences goes from Frank Zappa (South of the Border) to Gentle Giant (everywhere!) and Radiohead (Sleeping in Traffic part 2) but their main strenght is again to create a retro-1973-sound-but- it's-actually-2008 atmosphere with amazing brio. The musicianship is not absolutely complex or flamboyant, but it's a perfect mix of 70's classic prog and modern ideas.

This record has stolen my heart completely and deserves a place in your home, your head and your life.

Perfection is rare but does happen.

My pick of best record for 2008.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#175824)
Posted Monday, June 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In my last review I suggested that the two parts of 'Sleeping in Traffic' are equally brilliant. On reflection, I'm going to resile from that view. 'Part 1' has the better music; while 'Part 2' stretches the band further. Take your pick; but for me, this album doesn't work quite as well as its predecessor.

BEARDFISH ride the crest of the Scandinavian retro-prog wave. Even a cursory glance shows that Scandinavia is responsible in large part for the renaissance of prog rock, and BEARDFISH are about as good as it gets. While 'Part 1' is an emphatic musical statement to that effect, this album is a little more equivocal. The brief opener doesn't link to the next track - it seems cast adrift. 'Into the Night', the first 'proper' song, is rather pedestrian for the first six minutes, until we finally get the signature BEARDFISH sound: a lovely keyboard hook in 3/4 time - and, rather belatedly, we're off.

And we're off into remarkably upbeat territory. This is supposed to be the 'night' to 'Part 1's 'day', but there's little darkness here. The album is dominated by humorous energy of the FRANK ZAPPA variety, underpinned by those infectious hooks and a surprisingly subdued rhythm section: gone are the obvious GENTLE GIANT comparisons. 'The Hunter' passes quite proggily by without offering the heightened interest one might have expected from the promising opening to the track, and then it's full-on ZAPPA-esue humour in 'South of the Border'. This is the most memorable track on the album, and the music takes a definite second place to the message. Great story, great fun, and rather daring, I would have thought, given their audience.

'Cashflow' is this album's 'Ungodly Slob', an instrumental allowing the band to strut their prog credentials - but this is rather subdued compared to the outstanding 'Slob' from 'Part 1'. This is followed by the interesting two-part 'Downward Spiral/Chimay', a darker moment that still sounds ridiculously upbeat. The lads are just too happy for their own good. The vocals are in places oddly reminiscent of TODD RUNDGREN and his unique harmonies.

Then, after forty minutes of interesting if not outstanding music, we get a 35-minute epic. Yes, an epic fully as long as an entire GENTLE GIANT album. And thinking of this title track in those terms helps expose this album as comparatively lightweight musically compared to those gentle giants of the 70s, despite how entertaining the track is. A few listens reveals a pleasing structure, in which many of the themes from both albums are worked into a centerpiece that outstrips most modern retro-prog epics without challenging the 'Supper's Ready's of this world. It has moments of zaniness - affected voices, and an appearance from the BEE GEES - well, sort of. We get a dash of everything, and it's all splendid fun. If BEARDFISH do anything, it's entertain.

We finish with a short instrumental laying the album to bed. Of course, by now you've probably forgotten the opening theme of 'Part 1': there's a solid 140 minutes of listening to hear the whole cycle. Worth doing, I think. 'Sleeping in Traffic' is an ambitious and successful effort: Part 1 is essential, while Part 2 is merely excellent. The cycle is well worth having.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#175974)
Posted Thursday, July 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Unlike the Part One album which I have reviewed previously, this one is harder for me to digest. That's why it has taken three weeks since I received the CD to review it after more than 8 spins, I think. It sounds awkward at first as I can not hear the melody clearly from the first spin of the CD. As I spin some more finally I find the key to listening to this CD is to focus more onto the musical composition by forgetting the melody line. Well, there must be melody but it did not flow quite naturally or was catchy enough to my ears. That's something as mystery in prog music as I experienced the first time with Yes "Tales From Topographic Ocean" or "Gates of Delirium" which did not sound familiar to my ears.

Innovative and brilliant!

The opening track "As The Sun Sets" (1:13) is an acrobatic keyboard solo which is nice to my ears. When it moves to "Into The Night" (8:52) the vocal line does not seem to produce something catchy to typical ears. But hey, forget the vocal line and focus to the music. I can find the beauty of the composition. The music flows neatly with each instrument plays complex notes producing unique listening experience especially when I play it loud with descent sound system. I like the organ maneuvers in some passages that really enrich the textures of the music. It's brilliant man!

It moves seamlessly into a bit friendly passages in the next track "The Hunter" (5:57) where bass guitar plays tight lines and so powerful accompanying the guitar work. The sounds of Gentle Giant is now becoming prevalent and it mixes beautifully with Zappa like music. The break using vintage organ sound reminds me to the old days of prog. It's so stunning! The vocal quality is also great. I tell you the truth .. it's great enjoying this passage! Observe the tight bass lines and singing style.it's so powerful and so inspiring!

In "South Of The Border" (7:43) the band tries to bring a catchy musical riff through combined guitar work and followed by powerful low register notes vocal. There are many surprises throughout this track and I really enjoy it. "Cashflow" (6:08) is probably the funniest parts of the music as the sound of keyboard is a bit awkward but funny and .. entertaining! I really admire the band especially with this passage of musical magic! " The Downward Spiral/Chimay" (7.10) follows with another style of music focusing more on the style of Gentle Giant with tight arrangement combining dynamic singing and tight bass lines, dynamic drumming.

The peak is of course the epic "Sleeping In Traffic" (35.44) which has varieties of styles and tempo. There are so many breaks during the passage of the music with some textures of Gentle Giant. If you listen to this track carefully, you might find some riffs that remind you to Gentle Giant's "I Lost My Head" even though it's not the same. Try it! (Of course if you are familiar with Genntle Giant albums). The album concludes with "Sunrise Again" (1.37).

Overall, I can use countless words to describe how powerful this album is but I am sure you will get bored with it. And I do believe if you like eclectic prog like Gentle Giant or Zappa, you can definitely enjoy this album. Not only that, you will LOVE this album. I am very sure that this album deserves a full five star rating. The rationale is: it has neat and tight composition in every single segment of the music when if everything is combined together into song and later into album they all form a one cohesive whole that is hard to beat by others. In addition, they are all brilliant musicians, I truly believe. Production quality is top notch! Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#176992)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's getting better all the time..."

I suppose it's the best album of 2008. After excellent previous CD ("Sleeping in traffic: Part One"), which was issued in 2007, the band did almost impossible thing - recorded even better album. Despite album enough long - over than 74 minutes, and the longest track "Sleeping In Traffic" - more than 35 minutes, it's never bored. It's classic art rock at his best. Sometimes it reminds Gentle Giant (especially Rikard Sjoblom's vocals and keyboards), sometimes Genesis, but always in special, Beardfish-ish way. The band has his own face, and it's very intelligent face. There is also one heavier, guitar-oriented song, "South Of The Border". Arrangements are brilliant, musicianship is great, and music itself is very interesting. In my opinion, it sounds much better than Tangent or Flower Kings, really! And it's as excellent, as classic progressive albums of early 70-s. I think, today they are perhaps the most interesting prog-band not only in Sweden, but in whole world. Why not?

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Send comments to Jeth (BETA) | Report this review (#179119)
Posted Thursday, August 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars After being introduced to Beardfish with their previous release Sleeping in Traffic: Part 1, I was really looking forward to Part 2. This release did not disappoint, it possibly exceeded Part 1, but in a different way. Part 2 seems more eclectic, more out there, more broad, more experimental, more funky, more everything...and that's what makes this album a very good release. It did take me quite a few listens to really grasp everything that is going on, especially with their 30 minute plus epic. In fact, it may be too soon for me to review this one. I could have easily taken in about 10 more spins before trying to formulate an overall opinion. But this I do know....so far this is the best release of 2008 for me and it is easily worthy of 4 stars....If new to Beardfish, I suggest get these 2 releases in order. They have successfully created their own brand of prog music, combing a vintage 70's sound with a more modern sound at the same time. The only other band that I can think of that relates to this style might be Black Bonzo, but they are still quite different. If you like something different and challenging, this would be a fine choice...4 stars and a job well done! May prog be with you.....

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Send comments to cutsofmeat (BETA) | Report this review (#179303)
Posted Saturday, August 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
LiquidEternity
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is the second part of Beardfish's two album concept, and this is the stronger, more creative, more unique album.

The clear influences from 70s prog are not nearly so present on this album, save for the much stronger presence of Frank Zappa (and not just in the songwriting, either). The focus is much less on the vocals than the first part, though they still get their workout. There are not really any soft and mellow short tunes in here like on the first part. Rather, the bulk of the album is taken up (I'm sure you noticed) by a single song. However, do not let that deceive you. The whole album is very strong and very individual. Don't lose sight of the other tracks on here. They stand just as good or better than the big one. The main difference, however, between this part and the first one (indeed, the difference that garnered this one a spare star) is the amount of quirky creativity throughout the album. It's very much a peerless album, in the way that Pain of Salvation writes peerless albums: no one else combines the same elements anywhere else. On this record alone, in conjunction with classic and neo-prog elements, we get disco, pirates, punk, country, Middle Eastern, and a spot of metal. Since I believe out-of-the-box creativity is the strongest asset to a progressive band, you can understand why this album would grab my attention.

The opener As the Sun Sets sounds haunting but is really nothing more than an intro track. Into the Night kicks the album into gear. The vocal melodies are catchy, the music all over the place without sounding like a bunch of random things tied together, and as a whole the track sets a powerful tone for the rest of the album. The keyboards steal the show on this one, especially with some wild soloing near the end. Into the Night walks in next with some powerful bass and creepy lyrics. Again, the complex and sophisticated music is marked by catchy (and, dare I say, accessible) vocal melodies and well written choruses. South of the Border is Zappa-inspired tune if I've ever heard one. The music not so much, necessarily, but the lyrics recall strongly the classic album Sheik Yerbouti and the many odd sexual tangents that man sang about. The middle section features some really intense drumming and guitar, but then segues into a bluegrass sort of sound that reminds me a lot of some drugged up Lynyrd Skynyrd. Cashflow is a strange instrumental song, reminiscent at points of the complex intertwining that Gentle Giant pioneered. Again, though hearkening back to that classic band, it is not a rip-off in any way of their sound or style. It very much is Beardfish writing and playing this song.

The Downward Spiral/Chimay opens with some very dark bass noises, building to intensity while guitars scrape over the top. A minute or so in, some melancholic vocals enter in the vein of Jeff Buckley (except not so falsetto-heavy). The country, folk, or maybe southern rock feel again reappears throughout the track, especially halfway through. Then comes the song that most of you are wondering about, the 36 minute title track. It's pretty solid. It does wander a bit, in truth, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts by the end. The first half is pretty solid, but it's the second half (contrary to prog standards) where the music really shines. Here we find pirates, disco (indeed, the Bee Gees), punk, and who knows what else pulling at the music and turning this track into one serious head trip. The album then closes with the little sound-effect track, Sunrise Again.

This album is not perfect, but for a young and not well-known band, this is a tremendous release and one that needs much more attention. Fans of just about any style of melodic music will find something to appreciate here. This is a very strong recommendation.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#185332)
Posted Saturday, October 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Musically this is one of the most enjoyable albums from the modern era of prog, that I've set my ears a' listening to at least. The dynamite they-are-newer-but-sound-like-they-could-be-older instrumentals are mixed with spirited and irreverent lyrics that I find to be somewhat hit and miss. An example of a miss would be South Of The Border which sounds like an over the top attempt to achieve the Zappa sound (I mean instrumentals, back up vocals, use of sounds, even Rikard Sjöblom's vocal pattern) without the lyrical creativity, blingeling glimmering would be something more suited in Big & Rich's Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy for instance. A definite hit would be proceeding song, The Hunter, which is a highlight track for the vocal delivery of the lyrics (especially that chorus) and the big keyboard sound. I have to give BEARDFISH a big round of applause too for weaving a 35 minute song and keeping every minute interesting, a feat nearly unheard of in the modern age. Can't express love for the entirety of the track but it never bores. Too sum it all up: the music itself is overwhelmingly overwhelming while the lyrics run from very good to uninspired. 3.78 barbate gill breathers out of 5 (rounds up, of course).

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Send comments to manofmystery (BETA) | Report this review (#193111)
Posted Sunday, December 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I could see so much potential in this band when I reviewed their "The Sane Day" album. Well lets just say that potential has been fulfilled in spades with "Sleeping In Traffic : Part Two". I can't tell you how impressed I am with this release. I really like the vocalist but man can these guys play ! I read where Mike Portnoy said that BEARDFISH were one of his favourite new bands playing in that seventies style. I couldn't agree with him more. In the liner notes Rikard says "Everyone plays better than ever on this album and the music feels new and fresh.The songs are maybe a bit weirder than usual and might need a few plays more on the stereo than our previous ones in order to please those crazy tastebuds you all have in your ear canals. But if your anything like us it's gonna be worth it". By the way the center piece of this album the almost 36 minute "Sleeping In Traffic" is a song the band wrote in 2002 and have been playing live ever since, but up until now they didn't feel it was right for one of their albums.

"As The Sun Sets" is a short keyboard intro signaling that night is almost upon us.The concept here concerns the "goings on" during the night, while the previous album dealt with the "goings on" during the day. "Into The Night" is such a catchy tune with vocals as drums and organ help lead the way. Guitar comes in when it settles. It kicks back in and we get some great bass 3 1/2 minutes in as it calms down again. Some fast paced vocals 7 minutes in. "The Hunter" opens with deep bass and drums as guitar comes in.The organ is prominant 2 minutes in with vocals to follow. Great bass lines throughout this one. "South Of The Border" sounds like a cover of a Zappa tune. It's not of course but man these guys have some really good ideas, and they all seem to work perfectly.This song is hilarious about this male chauvinist named Garth who becomes "Gay-Man-Garth". Haha. Very funny lyrics throughout. And the instrumental music on this track is killer !

"Cashflow" is an instrumental that is uptempo early. It settles before a minute. A dead calm 2 minutes in but it builds back up with a silly melody including some accordion. "The Downward Spiral / Chimay" is dark with some excellent bass when it kicks in. Vocals after a minute. Some fantastic instrumental work on this one. It ends as it began. "Sleeping In Traffic" is one of the best tracks i've heard in a while. You would think with it being almost 36 minutes long it would have moments that drag. No, no it doesn't. Fat bass lines to open with light drums as the guitar comes in sounding fantastic. The tempo picks up and we get some Fripp-like guitar. Nice. The song continues to change and evolve and themes are repeated. It's absolutely amazing ! There's even some Post-Rock style guitar around 17 1/2 minutes and the heavy melody that follows sounds like "Owner Of A Lonely Heart". Some Zappa- like vocals 26 minutes in. The heavy ending is unbelievable. I'm barely touching the surface on this track on purpose because I won't do it justice. "Sunrise Again" is a reprise of the opening track really.

Obviously this band blew Andy Tillison away when they toured with his band THE TANGENT. In fact he was so impressed he asked them to be part of THE TANGENT.They accepted. Can't wait to hear what that will sound like. For me this is brilliant, funny and most of all so enjoyable. I feel this deserves 5 stars. Gotta go now and hit the "repeat" button.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#194702)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I spent the summer and fall of 2008 listening to a lot of blues and jazz and got behind on my prog. So during the past few weeks I've been picking up some of the top releases of 2008 and 2007 as chosen by the reviewers on this site. My favourite so far has been Sleeping in Traffic Part II. While Part I is a superb 4.5, Part II is clearly deserving of 5 stars. From Sunset to Sunrise, this new Beardfish release is musically engaging, thoroughly entertaining and pure prog. These young guys have been studying classic 70s prog artists and the influence of Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant and even Deep Purple on the heavier moments can clearly be heard. However, while tipping their hats to the greats of the past, Beardfish is wholely original. They don't sound like anyone in particular but if some one topld me they werer from the early 70s, I'd believe them if I didn't konw better.

Everything from the musicianship to the singing is top-notch. Whese guys even have a wacky sense of humour which we don't seen very often in contemporary prog. The production and sound quality are excellent as well. I'm not sure if this is a digital or analog recording but not only do they play vintage 70s music but the album sounds vintage 70s as well, and I mean this in a good way.

To me this is clearly deserving of 5 stars. I can't wait until their next release.

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Send comments to proggesser (BETA) | Report this review (#201307)
Posted Saturday, January 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is the second part of a duology, this album represents night, after the daylight-themed Part One. Night, to Beardfish, however, doesn't mean darkness, scary owls, and depression. Night means going out, missing a bus and spending your time in a sleazy 70s disco bar while fantasizing of pirates.

Unabashed, pure prog with modern influences and - gasp - a sense of humour. Beardfish meets expectations and exceeds them. Prog connaisseurs will have no trouble picking out the influences this excellent group shows - GENTLE GIANT and YES are all over the place, FRANK ZAPPA's quirky humour is just as ubiquitous, and the careful listener will notice modern techniques, twinges of distortion, and other interludes you'd expect to find in a modern prog band.

Apart from the sixth song, The Downward Spiral / Chimay, which doesn't quite pick up pace as easily as the other songs, this album fits the 'all killer no filler' template. A song-by-song review has been done often enough, but a few song deserve separate mentions. First of these the hilarious and surprisingly heavily rocking 'South of the Border,' a story of an annoying man who discovers he's a homosexual after accidentally seducing a drag queen, complete with heavy riff sbetween his pick up lines and an a capella rendering of ''cause he was gaaaaay!' Musically and lyrically daring.

The second seperate mention is the 35-minute epic Sleeping in Traffic, which explores many styles of rock, mentions to quote the bee gees, disco music, and pirate shanties without losing coherency for a minute. My advice is this: listen to it, then listen to it again. This track grows on you quickly, but take the time to listen to it; it isn't background music.

Easily the best album of 2008 in my opinion. It's time Beardfish gets the attention it deserves.

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Send comments to Cayafas (BETA) | Report this review (#201841)
Posted Thursday, February 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Beardfish come out to all sights with its fourth studio release - Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two. It can be consider as the breakthrough album for this Swedish eclectic band. All the news are good here for this innovative album. The sound is compact and very saturated; the sound production is perfect. The songwriting is really of high standard. All the songs are fresh and flexible, and most important - remembable. The band is strongly influenced by Gentle Giant. Without being quite dark, it's a release each art rock fan must own! It is the second part of Sleeping In Traffic duology, but it's very different to it, in positive manner. More completed song and I think the most important - very compact sound, one of the most compact sounds, I've ever heard. Some songs reveal different way of thinking of this musicians; for example - Cashflow. It's very Gentle Giant-sounding song with avantgarde direction of creativeness, full of light detachment tunes. Other song I want to point at is The Hunter - very original jazz-sounging song at the beginning, gradually transforming into typical art rock song of highest standard. Sleeping in Traffic is the culmination of the duology as whole; it's full of fresh artistic ideas and I consider it as wonderful progressive journey, appropriate for over and over again use. There is something very interesting with this album. If you listen to it without knowing the year of release, you could think it's 70s' work. The sound is really classic. 4 stars without any hesitation for the best work of that promising band!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#204731)
Posted Sunday, March 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Intense, fresh, amusing, breath-taking, catchy but very complex'

This Album is, for me, along with The Tangent's 'Not As Good As The Book', Opeth's 'Watershed' and The Mars Volta 'Bedlam In Goliath', one of the best album of 2008. Everything seems to flow perfectly, note after note, words after words, songs after songs to form a bloody masterpiece! Beardfish seems to have catch what prog rock is all about. It's not about how long your songs are, or how complicated the melodies and rhythms are, or how the keyboards sounds like genesis! It's all about beauty and the pure destiny of music that you write. Listening to prog rock is like living a lifetime journey in more or less than 1 hour. Prog rock, what ever who (or what) you are, must be your ticket to a new and challenging world. You must keep in mind that what lies behind the door you are about to open is going to change you a little bit (in some case, as form me, those changes are very intense, other times, they're more subtle). You must be very open-minded. Fortunately, Beardfish makes it easy for everyone as they are able to make you sing along for the very beginning to the dramatic end of a 35+ min epic song. And this is not nothing as they can also make you head-bang, laugh out loud while giving a very good performance all in a 7 min song!

This said, I would like to precise that this is my very first review and I'm only 20. plus I'm a frenchie, so don't blast me too much cause I'm a beginner dude! So now (how original!) let's make a little song-by-song review

- As The Sun Sets: good intro. Calm but a little weird. It gets you in the mood for the next track, the prog rock monster 'Into The Night'

- Into The Night': an ever changing songs that let you in (for another time if you'd listened to 'sleeping in traffic part 1. sadly from me, I didn't) the world of Beardfish. very good song, with good sound and good solo. You can hear influence of zappa, crimson, gentle giant, and a lot of genesis-spirit. that's what I like about beardfish: They show their influence in the spirit of their music, not in the sound or in the song structure. it flows very well into the next track.

-The hunter: While everybody think a the first listen that this is an instrumental track, you have to keep in mind that this is just a big intro (somehow unusual for a 5 min song to have a 2 min intro, but hey, this is prog rock). This is a good rocker after such a challenging song. Oh and really nice catchy chorus

-South of the Border: This is a very Zappa-like song with a king crimson-like instrumental bridge. very amusing. I like to Head-bang on this one. special mention for the guitar work here. Fantastic!

-Cashflow: very good instrumental that divide the album in two (in term of length). funny to see that the song in itself is divided in two! if you like caravan, gentle giant, camel or even mirriodor, you will like this one

-The Downward Spiral-Chimay: It took me a few spin to get in this one. There is a early-genesis feel that flow around this one (as I said before, not in the sound). It as is place in the album even if it's not my favorite track. It's just that I'm SO excited to hear the 35+ min epic that I found it hard to keep all my attention for this one.

-Sleeping In Traffic: One of the best epic of the last decade. This is just so mind blowing! I won't describe all the parts of this song, nor do I will mention every solo it contains. But I must say that EVERYTHING in this song is perfect, like in a giant puzzle, everything is in it's right place. it's so perfect that it succeed to create a full universe that you can visit every time you hit the little play button. do yourself a favor a listen closely to this one, it may change you for ever.

-Sunrise Again: After such an adventure, those guys take you where it all began, like a murderer returning to the scene of the crime. it close the album very well and it left you with a good feeling. Just like a good, strong tea after a huge dinner.

Warning: this cd may be legal, but it is bloody addictive. watch out, no way of detox after that

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Send comments to the puppeteer (BETA) | Report this review (#204971)
Posted Tuesday, March 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A band that gets better with each release. Musically, there's no doubt that these guys are talented. One thing that troubles me, though...is that I think they have politician syndrome(as in...they take their own presse clippings a little too seriously, i.e. the Frank Zappa comparisons). Folks, there was only one FRANK ZAPPA. Beardfish prove that they can write killer instrumentals here(i.e. Cashflow). Influences are easy to spot = Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, minimal King Crimson...maybe some Phish. Don't get me wrong, I think Beardfish is one of the better bands out there today, but I think they need some editing or a producer willing to put up some _pretend microphones_ in the studio, or at least feed the microphones solely into their monitors and not the _record button_. Ahem, but I digress. There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism, is there? Watch for their next album...I've got a feeling it'll be a masterpiece if they heed my advice. :-) 3 stars, but could've been a 4 with some editing and the cutting out of the profanities.

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Send comments to Gooner (BETA) | Report this review (#205762)
Posted Sunday, March 08, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars ''Har, har, we have sailed far from Norway to Peru.''

At the mention of the 35-minute epic mega- titletrack, I was instantly attracted to the music of BEARDFISH. Since I mostly listen to progressive metal, I thought: ''Why not try something new?'' BEARDFISH clearly offers that with their unique blend of humor, 70's rock influences, ranging from the mighty Frank ZAPPA to GENTLE GIANT; and goofy, yet enjoyable lyrics.

Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two is bookended by two short, muted piano songs, ''As the Sun Sets'' and ''Sunrise Again''. While they have their charm, I find them to be very throwaway tracks. In great contrast, ''The Hunter'' and ''South of the Border'' are good hard rocking tunes, the former putting forth a mid-paced groove from Robert Hansen's bass guitar, while the latter is more guitar driven, displaying the band's Zappaesque sense of humor (I particularly loved the vocal sound effects and the a capella section). There is room for the proggier tracks too, with the almost 9-minute ''Into the Night'' being the first real dive into the album with a mildly upbeat melody, while it's polar opposite ''The Downward Spiral/Chimay'' is the sad straggler, eventually picking up speed with a nice proggy acoustic instrumental section. ''Cashflow'' is the Part Two equilavlent of ''The Ungodly Slob'', with bubbly organs, chickin' picked guitars, and funky bass.

But the icing on the cake (or rather the cake itself) comes with ''Sleeping in Traffic'', the monster epic. There is to much to describe about this song, except that there are pirates, great musicianship, a disco club, a fire-breathing bitch, and seagulls among other things. What I was most suprised about when listening to this song for the first time was how well it flows. The 35 minutes went by in a flash; the rhythm really does grab the listener by the balls.

All in all, the album is a must-have if you are a true fan of music looking for something fun to lighten up your collection a bit. Both Sleeping in Traffic albums are equally genius. I mean after all, whatever Captain Flurry says, you must believe that it's true.

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Send comments to ZeroDreamPlasMaximus (BETA) | Report this review (#206982)
Posted Friday, March 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A bit overrated, but still a pretty good and refreshing album

Last year, this album made quite a fuzz among progheads around the world, and there is no question why: a pretty unknown band, even for prog rock standards, released THIS, one of the most fresh and competent progressive rock albums of last year. Upon releasin Sleeping in Traffic: part two, the band recieved more attention and media coverage than ever before and even was invited to participate in the 2009 Progressive Nation tour.

It is really not hard to understand why Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two got so much attention and praise. The band Beardfish made an excelent mix of traditional progressive rock, which has a big deal of mixing and experimentation already all by itself, and other genres, like blues rock, folk and soul/funk. Besides, the album has a considerable deal of humorous mood in some songs, like in South Of The Border, Crashflow and in the 35 minute epic Sleeping in Traffic, due to the lyrics or to the music itself.

So, for having many positive aspects, and for still being relatively unknown (thus avoiding from being mercilessly bashed by purists) this album enjoyed a quite big amount of praising. However, there is one fundamental problem with Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two: the band can't make a very good transition from one musical idea from the other, SPECIALLY in the epic and in South of the Boarder. I mean, instead of working a transition part or a bridge, many times they just change from one musical idea from the other, making the song sound bumpy or rough and (sometimes) even unfinished. It is sure good to have a lot of ideas to develop in an album, so it can be rich and colorful, but it is also essential to work the transitions between them.

All in all, that doesn't mean that the album is bad, just that it could be much better for having a better flow inside the songs and, due to that, a better flow through the album.

Beardfish also shows us with this album that it is not needed to be a virtuoso at playing any instrument to deliver a great progressive rock, specially retro prog. Competent playing is only a way to put out terrific compositions.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Many people usually bash retro prog for sounding a lot like the progressive rock in the 70's, but I really don't care. The only thing the band has to do is to release good music, the style does not matters, and Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two kind of proves it: great songs and many good ideas within them with classic prog composition and instrumentation.

Because of their problem with smoothing their songs, I can't really give them a better grade than 4, so that will be: 4 stars for this great album. I just hope they can make their music more cohere in their next album.

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#207966)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars Oh yeah, five star disclaimer. It's reserved for masterpieces, right ? Got it, this is their epic. And even their newest album was awarded by 5 star rating from me also, this one is better. Time will prove this right I believe.

"Into the Night" 0:18 basically from beginning we hear overpowering, strong and confident vocals (do I hear backing vocals here?), he can even do Michael Jackson style high pitch (even just for five seconds). 1:11 and another section, by the way this entire song is comprised of these /parts/, there will be even strong keyboards. Yes, when I was not looking, style of singing has returned to first section. This one can be irritating sometimes, not everyone can appreciate (or stand) his voice in this part. 3:12 marks radical change of mind of songwriter. From quite bluesy tones "Lost, the approaching night, traces of summer..." and harph like guitar sound. You know, just grab the strings by the /balls/. 5:43 stands for it all. This section comes seconds before this time, but 5:43 again repeats second part, but with a lot of inovations. For example 6:19 - nice keyboard solo. XX - Randomly during this track we can hear waltz rhytm (which I appreciate a lot). For example 7:26 - tu ti ti, tu ti ti ... (((1-2-3, 1-2-3))). 7:41 on the contrary contains some head-banging sound. Yeah, this song is full of geniality. It's blend of some thing I I've never believed that can be combined together. Not just two or three, but many more. From parts when you flow away to the sections where you can rock (and roll).

"Hunter" or if you wish, "The Hunter"

Enough for now, I gotta rest. Anyway, I hate "Cashflow". So I will just ignore this track and rest deserve this 5 star rating fully. With it, I would gave it 4.62

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#208458)
Posted Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is probably the least accessible album from their career. Not love at first sight, this album needs several spins to catch your attention. It is very diversified (from heavy prog during ''The Hunter'', even somewhat country-oriented with the well named ''South Of The Border''.

But mixing too many genres is at time confusing. The later song also has some ''10CC'' influence: some humour, several theme variations and vocal effects. Almost the same grotesque and bizarre atmosphere reigns on the weird ''Cashflow''. Totally eclectic, I must say. But difficult to digest.

This album is of course overshadowed by the ultra long epic ''Sleeping In Traffic'' which opens on a brilliant intro full of sounds; with mainly hypnotic guitar. An ENORMOUS start. Some flamenco is taking over for a while, which is fine. The first sung part could have been avoided but it is getting better after a while.

This song is well balanced, but to be honest it falls really short when compared to major epics from prog giants. Some passages are not really tasteful and as a whole, this track lacks in passionate moments, thrilling instants, memorable vocal performance or magnificent instrumental breaks.

In all, I can't consider it as a great prog epic, period. I had expected much better after having read all those laudatory reviews. Mine is not really like these, I'm afraid. I have listened a few hundred times to ''Supper's Ready'', ''Close To The Edge'', ''Thick As A Brick'', ''Echoes'' and ''Awaken'' to name a few. I will never reach these numbers with ''Sleeping.''.

Some might feel gorgeous to integrate some ''Staying Alive'' parts in a prog epic. As far as I'm concerned: I can pretty well live without this crap (yes, there are no other words to qualify this passage).

This ''Sleeping.'' is not very impressive to my ears. Ultra long album for the sake of it, that's for sure. Few gorgeous songs to be honest. I guess that this is one of the most overrated album on PA (with ''Les Quatre Saisons'' probably).

To my standards, this is only an average album but I will upgrade it to three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#216246)
Posted Saturday, May 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two, while never reaching outstanding levels of musicianship, is a great album. Anyone who has been keeping up with the modern prog scene has probably heard of Beardfish and their latest release, and for good reason. Beardfish is a band that deserves attention, because they have plenty of ideas and never really get boring.

While the sound is definetely retro-prog, on the entire album there is not one example of simply rehashing the ideas of the classics of the 70s. No doubt about it though, Beardfish clearly has their influences. The boys clearly have been listening to their Gentle Giant, clearly because of the prominence of their organs and keyboards in the mix, and even a vocal run in "Into the Night" is clearly composed with Gentle Giant in mind. Also they are clearly fans of Frank Zappa, made absolutely clear by a sharp wit and nice sense of humor in the album, most evident in the title track and "South of the Border". However, while some see them as wearing their influences on their sleeves, they use clearly old band ideas without sounding derivative or boring.

Anybody talking about the album will no doubt talk about the 35 minute length title track. While lengthy, if listened to in the context of the album, it simply becomes an excellent addition. Of course, it's rather like a ton of ideas stitched ideas, but they are interesting ideas nonetheless. It has an interesting sense of humor in its narrative of a mans dreams of Norwegian pirates and disco clubs (hilarious 70's references to be found in this part).

Overall, this album will be worth your money. The laid back style and the cool licks are very enjoyable, though aren't really outstanding among the prog or even the standard rock world. That being said, Beardfish show that they are great musicians and never fail to lose ideas to make an excellent song.

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Send comments to topofsm (BETA) | Report this review (#220863)
Posted Saturday, June 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Beardfish are a likable bunch with a powerful sound, they've got complete control over their instruments, the band's leader is amazing, not only does he write all of the music and play nearly all of the keyboards but he also takes all the lead vocals (some beautifully vulnerable passages in there). The many positive reviews on Progarchives gave me the impression this album HAD to be a masterpiece - all those seasoned critics just couldn't be wrong, could they?

Well, I'm afraid they did have it wrong, and I'm totally astonished that, at the time of writing, this ranks among the three most popular albums of 2008. In spite of the professionalism and the goodwill on display, Beardfish's sophomoric humour and post-adolescent angst totally get me down.

Now Frank Zappa is often criticised for being a homophobe and a misogynist - wrongly, in my view. His lyrics get misinterpreted by people who just don't understand satire IN GENERAL. Zappa was a misanthrope in the same vein as Jonathan Swift; he couldn't help seeing the ridiculous side of everyone and everything. Zappa's lyrics may annoy you, but at least they're never dull - except on albums which turn out to be rush job.

SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC PART TWO is not a rush job, it's intended as a Big Statement, and Beardfish have taken a leaf out of Zappa's book, but I simply don't know what to make of 'South of the Border', a tune in which a guy is first ridiculed for lamely chatting up the ladies in a bar, and then for sleeping with a balding drag queen, only to be finally praised (???) in an overly operatic manner with the words:

"How could something he had always thought was filthy growing up, suddenly seem so right? 'CAUSE HE WAS GAY!"

I don't know if this kind of thing passes for Political Correctness in Sweden (where Beardfish are from), but to me it sounds cack-handed in the extreme.

This album's magnum opus, 'Sleeping in Traffic', is even worse. The first ten minutes sound nicely angst-ridden, the band spell it all out for you, piling cliché upon cliché... By all means, people, write a 35+ mins. epic if you must, but be aware your listeners expect some kind of tension, and an emotional climax or two! Instead, Beardfish soon descend into whimsy. Suddenly we're sailing "from Norway to Peru" with a bunch of stage pirates. (If you thought Genesis' "Willow Farm" was embarrassing, try THIS!) We end up in a 1970s disco, and sure enough, borrowing yet another of Zappa's ideas, the band launch into the "ha ha ha ha" from the Bee Gees' "Staying Alive", and of course they can't leave it at that, their singer also sees the need to incorporate the Bee Gees' lyrics into his vocals. I can imagine this passage might cause sniggering among hairy prog-lovers (unable to dance, of course) whenever Beardfish play live, but the recorded version bored me from the first time I heard it...

Soon after, the song's protagonist is confronted with a "concrete stone faced super sonic ultra bitch" (???) and her boyfriend, a punk who's got dyed hair, and out come these lyrics, tantalisingly slow:

The punk is raising living hell / I decide to grow my shell / Run from here while I still can / 'Cause he's got a gun in his hand / Shooting bullets where they hit / Or wherever they may fit / My stomach begins to ache a bit / And I collapse while thinking: "[&*!#]"

This passage sounds so lame you can't believe anyone would want to waste your time with this. (There is none of Zappa's customary SHARPNESS.) And so "Sleeping in Traffic" fizzles out.

I hate to slag Beardfish off, since any new band which aims to make music in the grand prog tradition ought to be encouraged and, moreover, the band apparently like Chimay, one of the beers from my own native country. As I said, much of their playing is good fun. The album's instrumental bits are excellent, and maybe, given some time, I'll even come to forgive the band their sheer goofiness...

But I feel I ought to write, above all, an honest review. Since Beardfish have been wildly overrated in these parts, please be warned: you may have the same reservations about their music as I do.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#227721)
Posted Tuesday, July 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Truth
COLLABORATOR
Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars Definately the better part of the Sleeping in Traffic concept, Part 2 starts of where we left off with the setting sun and we set off on an extremely odd nighttime adventure. Almost every song is great on this album with the exception of the start and finish which both leave very nearly no impression. However after the boring start, Into the Night starts the tale off very wonderfully bringing to mind a heavy version of Gentle Giant, (Then again I suppose almost the whole album does,) and as the tale goes on other tracks that stick out are South of the Border (which has an odd topic), the instumental Cashflow, and of course the highly anticipated title track which is one of the best super-epics I've heard in quite some time. (Just to clear things up, a super epic is a phrase I use to describe an epic that is over 30 minutes.) Although it has to be listened to as a whole (like all great albums) and it has a below average start and finish, this album to me is a great one, one that gets better each listen.

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Send comments to The Truth (BETA) | Report this review (#228816)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Bee Gee's never sounded better. Masterpiece! This was the first time I listened to Beardfish. I was a bit sceptical because of the references to Gentle Giant and Zappa, which are not on my All Time Fave list (Blasphemy! I know?). It was love at first listen with this album. The first thing to notice is the superb production: every single instrument perfectly distinguished and an overall rich, warm, almost raw sound coming out of my speakers. After a short and quiet intro we are blown into the night so to speak, and the bizarre journey begins? Into the Night sets the scene perfectly, and in hindsight it sounds almost restrained. The Hunter reminds me of Alan Parsons, but in a good way, the Project was my first "Favourite Band" back in the 80's. I laughed like crazy with South of the Border, the sound effect when the drag queens jump out of the cake (ta-da!) just cracks me out! Who said you should be depressed while listening to Prog? Now, Cashflow has become my 3 year old daughter's favourite song? Every time she jumps in the car she asks for the "funny" song! (In fact, I was quite proud last time I played the CD in the car with both my kids, my 6 year old son began singing right on cue along Into the Night!). The first part of the album plays so well, every time The Downward Spiral ends, I have a feeling of "Is that it? Are we on for the main course?"? And what a main course it is! Sleeping in Traffic could be seen as a "mini-album", and is by far, my favourite song here. The showcase of different time signatures at the beginning is great, it is amazing what you can do with a simple yet elegant 3/4 signature. The story has been criticised in other reviews, but I like the simplicity and almost cinematic effect of the vignettes described. The use of a pirate song can be seen as a cliché, but hey, didn't Zappa use more obvious and outrageous clichés too? And the whole disco parody is just excellent, as I said above, the Bee Gee's never sounded better. Just when you think the band has run out of ideas and start wrapping up the song, the ending is an amazing example of how to end an epic: bombastic, majestic and with quick references to the main themes played before. Last thought: Is Sunrise Again necessary? I think it plays the perfect finale, a return to the sober theme played right at the beginning, book ending one of the most accomplished records I own? This one is on the Top 10 in the Harkonnen list.

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Send comments to Harkonnen (BETA) | Report this review (#230006)
Posted Tuesday, August 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amusing trip through the night.

Another highly talented group from Sweden. This land really seems to be place of rebirth of prog. Not only Beardfish reveals ability to associate symphonic sounds and prog music of new millennium on such intelligent way.

Result is a concept album with huge variety of ideas and considerate construction. Every song is a little story with strong lyrics. The narrative voice of Rikard Sjöblom makes the listener curious of the next action and creates an interesting fable for the record. Of course you need some special sense of humor to consider this work as funny and it's not always obvious to understand all the jokes. I would say the sense of humor of the band is as eclectic as their instrumentals.

Anyhow, the strongest point of the band is the instrumental work. I really enjoy the old-sounding keyboard which reminds unforgettable sound of ELP. Gentle Giant influences are also present since the group mentioned them as big inspiration for their activity. There are also various experimental sounds like "Cashflow" which surprise us in many places but overall they are part of the concept and reveal the genius of the band to make music combined of many different styles. This is the strength of Beardfish and a big plus for the album. The work owns a good structure. We are travelling from dusk till dawn and at the end we are pleased with astonishing epic. The 35 minutes track tells another fascinating story. Repeating, catchy sound holds this song together. This is one of the best structured epics of the modern prog. You always know where you are due to characteristic music compositions during this song. You get never bored of it, really memorable work. Beside The Flower Kings this is my favorite of the Swedish bands, because of this unlimited amount of ideas and music creations. Indisputable five star rating for this release.

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Send comments to ChrisDawid (BETA) | Report this review (#248516)
Posted Friday, November 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If I had to name one key difference between this album and Sleeping in Traffic, part 1, it would be the loss of smoothness. Somehow, everything in Part 1 seemed to flow together perfectly, with a fluid silkiness that carried me through the entire album. This album does not quite have that feeling.

This makes Sleeping in Traffic: Part 2 both better and worse than part 1. The betterness of it is that each track has more of an identity, and two of the tracks surpass almost anything in Part 1. The worseness is that the album is much more uneven.

The album basically has four song ranks, and two songs from each rank. The first rank is the useless tracks, these being the two keyboard tracks that bookend that album. They don't really seem to gain any meaning or say anything. Luckily, each is short and their inclusion is barely noticeable.

The next rank is the good songs. These songs are on a slightly lower par than pretty much all of Sleeping in Traffic: Part 1: The Hunter, and Downward Spiral/Chimay. Each is a strong track, but they both overstay their welcome by just a bit, and that overlongness is part of what makes the album feel less fluid than the first.

The third rank are the great songs. These songs are on the same rank as the best songs from Part 1, and they are: Cashflow, and Into the Night. Cashflow is probably the biggest contributor to the disjointed feel of the album, as it is replete with sound effects that sound like they could have come from an SNES game. This is not inherently a bad thing, however, and I actually find the song to be a really fun and catchy track that always gives me a boost of energy.

The standout tracks are South of the Border and the title track. South of the Border is an irreverent, hilarious track about a homophobix homosexual who overcompensates to hide from himself what he truly is, and how he discovered that he was gay. The way the story was told is hilarious, and I laugh every time I hear the song. The way that the band loudly announces with glee, "'cause he was Gaaa-aaa-aaa-aaaa-aaa-aa-aaaay" makes me laugh each time, because of their presentation. Truly a humurous story.

Sleeping in Traffic is another song that doesn't take itself quite seriously, with perhaps some of Beardfish's less emotional and more 'trippy' (think: Supper's Ready) lyrics. It is a journey from bed to a pirate infested beach to a disco club to who knows where, but most importantly, I think it is a journey through insanity. It is not quite a flawless track ... the opening takes a little longer than one might expect to get going, and the ending always drifts away from my consciousness so that I am surprised when I hear the first note of the closing keyboard track. But the middle includes some of Beardfishes hardest rocking and catchiest bits on the album. Definitely a fun, irreverent trip, although even after hearing this song, I must admit I am still puzzled about what the significance of "Sleeping in Traffic" is. It is a phrase that both this album and the first were named after, and the track that matches the name is longer than any other three tracks from those albums put together. So clearly the band felt that there was significance to it, but danged if I have been unable of yet to figure out exactly how it ties in to these two albums. Perhaps I am just reading too much into it.

Overall, this album gets a 4 star rating, with the strong parts counterbalancing the weak to make this album roughly as good as part 1.

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#255675)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I subscribed to become a member on Prog Archives I made the commitment to myself only to use the five star rating for true Prog masterpieces. Selected Yes and Genesis albums for example will get some when I get round to it, but four stars only will go to others that may be my current favorites. I feel it takes time to absorb a truly great record before you can really know just how great it is.

As only the third album that I have written a review for on this site, this is the first full five stars that I have awarded.

For me, Sleeping In traffic: Part Two can be placed amongst the greats of Progressive rock. In my opinion it sits comfortably on the proverbial top podium next to such greats as Three Friends, Fragile, Trespass and ...Crimson King etc. Quite an achievement for an album that quite obviously stands on the shoulders of such giants. Well that may be the secret of its success. If, like me, you long for that quality that can only really be found in the likes of the old-guard prog bands, then look no further. Sleeping In traffic: Part Two sounds and feels like it was made about 35 years ago. I've read in various places how the sound of Beardfish is described as retro/70s style prog. I feel that label doesn't do this band justice because where as so many other bands do try to resurrect that sound and style, Beardfish just ARE that sound and style, and nowhere more so than on Sleeping In traffic: Part Two.

There is a sort of effortless breeziness to the compositions on this album layered over a dark undercurrent that I find so appealing. It isn't over produced either, helping the honest organic quality of the musicianship remain at the fore front. There is also a depth that you can recognize from some of the old favorites that I've listed above. You know those moments in music that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Sleeping In traffic: Part Two by Beardfish is full of those for me. You just don't find that hair-raising organic honesty these days. But they are available in the performances here!

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Send comments to Plastic Dreamer (BETA) | Report this review (#282368)
Posted Monday, May 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me, this is probably the best album of the '00 decade. Or at the very least a top 3 album. Every song is fantastic, and there's really not a thing I could suggest that would make this album any better. The music is great, with some truly classic rock sounding riffs but also more eclectic parts where experimentation runs wild. Rickard Sjöblom also has a fantastic voice, and coupled with the often witty and fantastically clever lyrics, the vocals really, really, really hit the spot. Not once during a listen through this lengthy, twisting and turning album do I cringe or think something is out of place, or too much, or even just slightly below the best.

Yeah, it's pretty frickin' great alright.

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Send comments to Werneflo (BETA) | Report this review (#284480)
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With a special delivery of heavy eclectic prog from Sweden, Sleeping in Traffic II is a fun and well-played album from a maturing band. Although the entire album is not great, there are lots of fun, rocking bits with just enough prog thrown in to really make this an album worth having.

And that 35 minute epic? Well, no worries--it's a home run in my book!

The bulk of this album (non-epic) is fairly solid, yet somewhat forgettable, music that oscillates between heavy guitar and keys to sometimes goofy, silly bits, with perhaps too many atmospherics and sound effects in between. Cashflow is a good example for me, with some good melodies and genuinely interesting music, but a bit too much filler and noise mixed in. South of the Border is a definite highlight of the album, which tells an amusing story about your typical office horn-dog who just happens to be sexually confused. More importantly, the music is very solid, with some catchy guitar lines and Rikard really letting loose on some of the vocals.

On to the epic! I suppose this is less an epic and more like a very well-connected, cohesive mini-album--although I suppose at this length it could be a full album by Gentle Giant or Rush standards. Either way, they've really accomplished something impressive here by pulling it all together so well. Things start off simply but effectively, with a fat bass line 7/4 time, building up some of the central themes nicely from there. I have to agree with some that the momentum varies a bit in the first 10 minutes or so, with plenty of rock, but also reflective moments. I'm fine with this as long as the music is good and it's ultimately going somewhere even better, which is the case here.

The second half is even better, with of course the unique contribution to the prog canon of disco pirate rock. I even like the die-down right before the big finale. Usually I'm not a big fan of this, but maybe it's because the tempo is still brisk, even though it's only guitar and vocal. Then the massive, cathartic refrain comes in, seemingly tying things up nicely, only to change gears once again. Here's where even after 35 minutes, I still want more. Now that they've built to this wonderful finale, and taken it that next step, to have it just peter out the way it does is not ideal. That can be the difference between great and incredible.

On this album, Beardfish have a really good sound. I have questions about how it would translate live (vocal straining, overdubs, etc), but it works well here. Here's hoping that Beardfish continue to create ambitious, fun and catchy music.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#285074)
Posted Saturday, June 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
Matti
COLLABORATOR
Neo-Prog Team
4 stars This Swedish band was a new name for me, but estimated from the large amount of reviews, especially this album has gained a lot of positive response among prog listeners. And they absolutely deserve it! I was blown by their talent to write and perform massive epic prog pieces with various influences from FLOWER KINGS to GENTLE GIANT. Mostly the talent lies on the shoulders of their leader, singer-keyboardist-composer Rikard Sjöblom.

Just for the records, this album included the longest single track I've come across this far: nearly 36-minute 'Sleeping in Traffic'. And it has no weak parts! Even the section where the protagonist is in a disco hearing Staying Alive (which is referred to in the music) is delightful.

The eclectisism of this band operates bravely on the dangerous edge but never falling into the plainly irritating side. (Well, maybe the instrumental 'Cashflow' gets slightly irritating here and there, but the nice nod to Gentle Giant makes it up. Moreover on the negative side, I didn't really like the short instrumental tuned-piano intro and outro tracks, and a couple of longer tracks too were less up to my taste from the respectable total of 74˝ minutes.) Other comparisons have been FRANK ZAPPA and 10CC - and some reviewers do think the eclectisism is simply overblown. It would have been a good bet that I would have been in that group of listeners (I seemingly can't get into Zappa for instance), but to my own surprise I enjoyed this album quite a lot. The sound is very solid, not far from the Flower Kings (replace sax by organ, add some more acoustic guitar), and the vocals are good too. Sjöblom can carry the drama with his singing too. Actually there is some sort of narrative level going on for the most of the album. However, the vocals are used sparingly and the music has longish solos here and there which makes it really enjoyable.

One of the best prog albums of the '00s, I believe. 4,5! I'm hesitating between five and four stars. Since it was no pure delight from start to end but instead included some useless moments too, let's round it up down. But this band will be remembered, I'm sure.

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Send comments to Matti (BETA) | Report this review (#293219)
Posted Tuesday, August 03, 2010 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This was one of the first albums I got when I was first starting to get into modern prog, and to be honest, I bought it because it had a 35-minute song. Now, quite a while after buying it (several years, if memory serves) I'd like to take a shot at reviewing it.

As you can probably tell by the number of stars to the upper left of this review, i love this album. Conceptually, it is supposed to represent the nighttime hours, and, while that's not always apparent, the whole album creates an absolutely amazing and cohesive atmosphere.

The Tracks:

As the Sun Sets: A short little opening instrumental. Not too much to say but very pleasant.

Into the Night: The first proper track of the album sets quite a high bar. From the first line the song is energetic and lyrically very strong. Rikard Sjöblom's voice is perfectly suited to the music and the writing is very good: this song goes through a number of themes, all of which are very powerful and interesting.

The Hunter: A bit shorter and less complex than Into the Night, still a very energetic song. This one is a little more poppy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing here. Very catchy and again lyrically strong.

South of the Border: This is kind of a weird one. Lyrically very silly, it has a sort of "exaggerated blues" feel to it. Still has a couple different sections though.

Cashflow: Interesting instrumental. Sounds very happy and upbeat, almost childish in its themes, but still good.

The Downward Spiral/Chimay: This one definitely gives you a late night feel, if that makes sense. A bit more atmospheric than some of the others.

Sleeping in Traffic: The song that prompted me to buy the album. I was not disappointed. Starting with a powerful bass, the song goes through an instrumental section before arriving at its first theme, a beautiful and haunting melody that gives the listener the impression of driving alone at night. Many more sections and themes follow, all brilliant, and all very well written. One of my absolute favorite prog epics.

Sunrise Again: Another instrumental. Similar to As the Sun Sets.

This is definitely the place to start with Beardfish, and in my opinion their best album. Definitely Recommended.

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#298200)
Posted Thursday, September 09, 2010 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two was my very first Beardfish album, and still remains one of their best in my mind. This album has a dark feel throughout and is also often very symphonic. They use a lot of organ sounds, which I am not particularly a fan of, but it isn't as dominant as it is in some progressive rock bands. All of the melodies in these tracks are very memorable and crafted masterly, along with the musicianship being impeccable entirely. I think this is the album that anchored Beardfish into the position of best modern eclectic progressive rock band, and it's hard to disagree. This is stronger than any of the material that they would go on to release in the future. The epic title track is exceptionally fantastic because it changes constantly while remaining coherent and well structured. It never gets boring, and along with the rest of the album, it manages to pack in a healthy dose of humor without sounding stupid.

Highly recommended.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431114)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP
Site and Forum Admin
4 stars Into the light

Beardfish is a Swedish band that has garnered a significant amount of praise in the progressive community the last few due to their last few excellent albums. The band's quirky, symphonic, jazzy, eclectic style has captivated the ears of numerous listeners throughout the past few years. In 2007, the band began a two part concept album titled Sleeping in Traffic, with an interesting theme of a man who fell asleep in traffic and then traveled through various, humorous, quirky, and interesting dreams before re- awakening on the epic 35-minute title track featured on this album, Part 2. The band has crafted an album full of interesting styles amalgamated into an epic album, full of interesting lyrics, great themes, and some really fantastic music.

One of the first things that stuck out to me about this album was the rather interesting and humorous concept. Usually I don't pay a lot of attention to the lyrics, other than picking up on a few poetic lines here and there that I like. However, on this album, I couldn't help but listen to these lyrics. At points, they are truly hysterical. Most notably on an album favorite of mine "South of the Border," the band has truly created some rather interesting sections of lyrical melody. Interestingly the band does not just stick this often ridiculously silly theme through the entire album ("HE WAS GAAAAAAAY!!!" does not reflect the entire album), but actually delves into a somewhat more deep theme at spots, most notably the lengthy title track. Overall, this interesting and quirky theme oddly fits in with the mood of the music, displaying the band's great competence with their music.

Of course these odd lyrics are not backed by simple music. The band has shown an incredible knowledge of melody, composition, rhythm, and arrangement on the album. From the xylophone intro/ending to the complex keyboard parts to the great rhythmic work and fantastic bass and guitar work, the entire band really pulls their weight and makes this album move along really well. Even on the 35 minute epic, the band doesn't slow down, not seeming dull or uninventive at any point on the album with this highly creative and engaging music. The band even has the taste to spice their music with interesting arrangements of classic themes and songs (including the classic Bee Gees "Staying Alive," among others). From quirky keyboard parts adding a great flavor to the music or the guitar lines, which often fuse countless genres, from country influence to funk to metal to rock to R&B and so much more, the whole musical aspect of this album is truly amazing. The complex melodies and enticing harmonies add dimension to the music, accentuating the theme as you traverse through the driver's dreams. Overall, the music aspect of the album is truly incredible, making the album even more wonderful as you travel through the band's wonderful skill and ability throughout the album.

Overall, this album is a truly spectacular display of modern progressive rock. From the quirky concept to the complex music, the whole album is brimming with progressive greatness. Saturated with symphonic influence yet tinged with countless others, I can see why the band is filed under Eclectic not Symphonic. As far reaching as bluegrass and as interesting as jazz or pop, the album truly has an incredible repertoire of influences going into to its formation. The band weaves melodies with harmonies and complexity with beauty, meshing their countless influences with carefree progressive bliss, to make for a truly spectacular album. In the end, the album is certainly one of my favorite new finds. 4+ stars.

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Send comments to Andy Webb (BETA) | Report this review (#458666)
Posted Thursday, June 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was turned on to Beardfish by a friend of mine recently and am happy to say I have since acquired their entire catalog. "Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two" is a tremendous piece of work that establishes this band as one of the modern masters of the genre. The epic title track is worth the price of admission alone, but the album has so much more to offer. It is a wondrous mix of classic 70s prog vibe along combined with some heavy rock/funk elements that never lets up. All apologies to Steven Wilson, Rikard is the most talented man in prog today. Between his keyboard expertise, soulful and precise guitar work, thoughtful lyrics and tremendous vocals there is no single individual in prog today with more pure talent for the game. No hesitation whatsoever giving this modern classic 5 stars.

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Send comments to MarcellusDarson (BETA) | Report this review (#795731)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've heard all recording projects of this group, except The Void. Sleeping in Traffic: Part I and Part II are the best and most progressive. Moreover, almost no tracks or sections contain fillers. They are more even, and with outstanding compositions.

Regarding Part Two: The guitars are inspired and make a good relationship with keyboards. The bass guitar is very rhythmic and protagonist, like drums. This is clearly seen in the instrumental Cashflow, to give an example.

The centerpiece is varied and entertaining, with great musicianship, remarkable. The vocal and lyrical of Sjöblom (Gungfly) are great, especially in this part.

Into the Night and The Downward Spiral are very good, too. South of the Border is not to my taste I do not find the meaning, and the whole album has a definite retro spirit. Fifteen minutes less would have been better.

Not reached the status of masterpiece, but it is a comprehensive work more than acceptable to my ears.

Unfortunately, after the group was inclined to a more direct sound and more heavy, with a lyrical more insulting. Not my cup of tea.

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Send comments to sinslice (BETA) | Report this review (#943582)
Posted Sunday, April 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Beardfish's fourth record from 2008: "Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two" contains very much great music for the interesting listeners. It's not either very complicated to understand. The cover is mostly brown but it also shows a streat with a forest on the left side. The band comes from Gävle (Gästrikland, Sweden) and is still active with doing great music.

This record has eight tracks but is dominated by the rather long title song. The starter and the closer are short, soft and instrumental. "Into the night" shows how majestic the sound of the organ/keyboards is and it is a happy and playful song with a bright progressive mood. "The Hunter" is also sharpe and beautiful and "South of the border" is one of my favourite with a very humouristic text with a telling melody which changes during time. A very clever composition. "Cashflow" is instrumental and wonderful. It whirls towards new dimension with pretentious beauty and the sound of the keys reminds me of "Kullamannen" a great children television from the 60s. "The Downward Spiral/Chimay" proves the band's skillful musicians with a lot of technique and the melody is almost classical. "Sleeping in Traffic" finally is amazing but you have to be alert and rested to get it. This episodic compositions shows all of Beardfish's talent. And this is a perfect opportunity to study the lyrics. They are very funny and humouristic. The singer Rikard Sjöblom does a good work on this record. Beardfish is one of the best modern progressive bands in my opinion and this record is surely worth listening. There is something innocent about it I like.

Best tracks: South of the border, Cashflow, Sleeping in traffic Worst track: No, every one is great!

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#982117)
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've always thought of Beardfish as a primarily retro band, creating its quirky yet accessible prog from popular, rather than obscure, ingredients of the 70s. Of their albums, Sleeping in Traffic has the most 70s vibe to me. Two albums released a year apart, but basically a double concept CD, it has surprisingly little filler for a modern-era double album, with the second part being even better in that regard. Most songs are multi-part, and each part has a memorable foundation to it, be it hard-rocking boogie, blues, soul, funk, fusion, a bass/keyboard dominating melody, an intricate guitar duet, whiny alternative rock or even accordion and tango. The most-talked about song is naturally the 35-minute eponymous epic. It is surprisingly consistent for such a long song, but has a curious structure - after a scorching deep bass-Eastern-metal-tango book-end the song is very slow for the first 15 minutes, and for the next ten it is basically a non-stop romp, before returning to the original unsettling melody. In short, if you can afford to have only one Beardfish disk, all are good, but if you must, get Sleeping in Traffic part 2. Disregard the frontman Rikard Sjoblom saying that its more difficult to get into. Just give it a few spins, and it will fall into place.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1071331)
Posted Sunday, November 03, 2013 | Review Permalink

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