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Glass Hammer - Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted CD (album) cover

THREE CHEERS FOR THE BROKEN-HEARTED

Glass Hammer

Symphonic Prog


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lor68
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well this time it's an embarassing moment, just a bit, to evaluate this work by G.H.!!

Don't get me wrong, this US ensemble has not forgotten to play music, but rather I remark their difficulty in creating a few original pop melodies, above all because there are some typical missing features, that made their previous albums (especially the early ones) so good!! For instance I'm not satisfied about the arrangement, sometimes simplistic, nor I like their new tendency to avoid the typical structure characterizing a kind of progressive rock (this time They are not so original...), like within their old symphonic suites!! Nevertheless Susie Bogdanowicz is always a remarkable singer and after all the core elements and their essential melodies as well, could make our listen more relaxing (perhaps too much relaxing...). So, no complexity and no creative moments you can find here, but there's a polished sound anyway!! However, despite of facing their new music travel without a precise direction, G.H. stand alone in the world music market, being former pioneers of such "Modern Progressive Rock". Unfortunately this latter music-genre has been taking a glance to the past for many years, but They try to create something desirable for the common listener still today, even though denying their roots...so, nevermind if They have forgotten the true language of progressive rock, because their product is interesting after all!

Ok, at the end you could also erase an half star at least...but- as They've often been a good or even sometimes a remarkable band- make your own choice!!

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#280583)
Posted Wednesday, May 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars What band is this?

This is my question when I heard this new cd of GH. Perhaps the cover reveals the official entry of Susie in the group and that this fact decisively to have influenced the sound of this album. Another novelty is the new physical form of Fred Schendel and this may not have yielded positive effect on music grupo.Falo this as a big fan of GH and while I am intrigued by the radical change in the sound of this disc compared to previous work : Nothing that a good proghead can find in a progressive band, even those fans Shiites. In a few moments pop and heavy rare verging on any mainstream band that is out there, to find a progressive element you have to listen very carefully to their rare moments when they manifest themselves. The only conclusion one can give is that this is not the same band! Do not want to extend this rating, because not even have much to say, what remains is to pray to heaven for us returning the old GH. To conclude: until recently the Gh symphonic band was my favorite, but disappointed to give my first grade for the worst site. 1 star.

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Send comments to nandprogger (BETA) | Report this review (#280779)
Posted Friday, May 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars With this album, I feel that Glass Hammer betrayed everyone who has been carrying water for them.

I want to support an artist's right and responsibility to follow their muse, but I think it's also fair to say that when someone picks up a Glass Hammer record, it's because they are a progressive rock fan, and not someone looking for a cheap knock off of 10,000 Maniacs or Tori Amos.

"Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted" is a pop album with tiny - tiny! -references to this having been a symphonic prog band at one time. They lift tricks wholesale from the Beatles as a songwriting template.

I struggle to imagine who the intended audience of this album might be. It didn't chart on the top 40, and it can't please someone who loved Glass Hammer's previous work.

Glass Hammer has now had two failed experiments. One was to include a "shredding" style guitarist on their previous album, "Culture of Ascent." This was a failed attempt to seem relevant to the prog-metal scene. Instead, it ruined some pretty promising melodies with directionless five-string Onanism.

This album tries to sell Glass Hammer as a college radio-ready alt-pop band. It sounds more suspiciously like a reject from Christian rock radio.

I miss the male vocals and complex arrangements. I miss the ambitious themes. I miss the progressive rock!

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Send comments to freyacat (BETA) | Report this review (#284882)
Posted Friday, June 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well.

Strange album for Glass Hammer

Many pop rock oriented songs.

Heavy prog? Neo-prog?

Glass Hammer the best symphonic prog rock act of the USA really made a change(as Fred Schendel body-a stomach operation?)

It seems that Schendel s change of physiognomy produced a extreme change in GH music.

A bad album? Not at all.But in comparison to the past work of Glass Hammer a change of the decay.

Why this temptation? Porcupine Tree had it(from space rock to heavy prog) Genesis(from symph to pop prog) Rush (from heavy prog to pop rock) Yes(from symph to AOR Rock) and then....

I really hope this was only an essay , a proof ..a game...but please not a permanent change.

But songs are quite good(independently from the prog classification ) and Susie Bodagnovic is always awesome.

So 3 stras

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Send comments to robbob (BETA) | Report this review (#285891)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Aim for a different target group. Fail miserably

Glass Hammer's tenth album, Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted is a rather agressive departure from their traditional sound, characterized by lengthy symphonic pieces highly inspired by Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Kansas with numerous vocalists, complex instrumentation and normally upbeat and somewhat optimistic feeling, to a simpler, more band driven and darker sound, inspired by the 60's psychedelic and barroque pop bands (in the like of bands such as late Beach Boys, The Zombies and The Beatles), electronic music and striaght to the point rock'n'roll.

The vocal department was also reduced considerably, with singer Susie Bogdanowicz being in the charge of singing duties for most fo the album, unlike previous releases, where, as mentioned before, a considerable number of people would partake the singuing duties. The lyrics also treat of more mundane themes, specially when compared with every other album released by Glass Hammer.

Accoding to the band (i.e. Fred Schendel and Steve Babb), Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted was supposed to both show a different side of their music and musical influences and to try and reach a different audience from the ones that followed the band up untill then. The result was absolutely disastrous. Not only they failed to reach a different group from what they are used to, but the album's reception was extremely apathic and cold by the band's following, what is no surprise when you realise that this kind of audience is incredibly small and specialized, for the lack of a better word.

Personally, I do not believe this is actually a bad release. Yes, it is very different from the traditional Glass Hammer sound, but it evokes a style of music that is getting increasingly forgotten and hidden in the shelves of time, despite being highly enjoyable, which is the late 60's pop music, that eventually helped with the creation of progressive rock itself. Procol Harum, for example, was part of that very style of music in their earliest albums, as was Moody Blues after they reboot with Days of Future Past.

I must say that, however my positive opinion today, this was not what I was expecting when I got the album. The strange mix of 60's rock with electronic music the band delivers in their 2009 studio album really disgusted me in initial listenings, but time proved that this album is actually a grower. The simple and somewhat plain tunes proved to only improve over time.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Chages of heart proved to painful in the music industry. This was no exception: changing from a classic and epic progressive rock sound to a simpler, darker and more accessible sound proved to be traumatic for Glass Hammer, otherwise they would not release a return to form album so fast.

Despite the relentless criticism directed at Three Cheers for the Broken-Hearted simply due to the change of direction the band took, I find that most of them fall short of either understanding or openness to deal with such changes. Different does not equals bad or worse by deafult.

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#329023)
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars Well, this was disappointing.

After recording two fine albums where they were finally developing their own prog sound, and very successfully so, Fred Schendel and Steve Babb decided to take aim at more radio friendly music.

I wouldn't say the album sucks, like, say the music Genesis and Renaissance made in the eighties, but compared to most of their other albums, this one feels like there is something missing.

Susie Bogdanowicz sounds mostly uninterested through most of the songs on the album. And while a few songs tend to pick up the energy, that energy seems short lived.

It isn't until the ninth track, Schrodinger's Lament a strange diatribe on cause and effect, that the album finally grabbed me. And I will admit, Hyperbole works itself up into a delicious frenzy.

So for all of this, I'd rate it about 2.75 stars.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#743402)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This album seems to have really rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way! Glass Hammer don't make symphonic prog album shock ..the end of the world is nigh. I guess my own tastes vary quite a bit and I've always liked a good melody and don't mind a bit of ''pop'' ,although this is not really pop music. Its very dark in places and weirdly varies between sixties sounding pop music and a modern hard edged almost metallic prog sound. Distinctly odd although the word I would prefer is 'quirky'. The main feature is Susie Bogdanowicz's vocals. I like female vocals especially the likes of Chrissie, Annie ,(and Jon and Geddy ha ha) so this is very pleasant to my ears. I also like the variety of music on offer. If you do short tracks make them interesting and these are all very nicely different.

I decided to give this 5 stars just to raise the average rating which seems a bit low although I realise this is a prog site (we hope) and that the lack of long complex peices will not appeal to most. However I prefer this release to the album that followed 'If'. I suspect there was a knee jerk reaction and GH decided they needed to appease the fanbase. In the process they ditched the delicacy and lightness of touch that always exised for a cold technical approach. Shame really from my point of view. This could well be the last GH album that I get to love and enjoy.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#789887)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Glass Hammer has been a band I have pursued over the years due to their clean pristine upbeat sound, Christian lyrics and especially the wonderful vocals of Jon Davison. Indeed, they normally sound close to the Yes sound and it is little wonder that Davison eventually took the helm for Yes with the departure of Jon Anderson, followed by David Benoit. Having seen the new Yes lineup in a recent 2012 concert in Saint Kilda, Australia, I have experienced the vocals of Davison first hand and he is always astounding with a high register unlike Anderson. Thus I was drawn to listen to more Glass Hammer. In this early lineup of the group the lead singer was Susie Bogdanowicz, who would be replaced by the far superior Anderson on "If" in 2010. The other members of the group on "Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted" is Fred Schendel on keyboards, mellotron, cello, horns, guitars, drums, Steve Babb on bass, keys, guitars, Josh Bates on guitars, and David Wallimann plays a cameo guitar on 'Sleep On'.

The sound on this is far removed from the Yes influences of the band's earlier material. Susie has a golden tone that is pleasant to listen to but it is very unlike the earlier Glass Hammer. The guitars are heavy and moody on 'Come On, Come On'. The rhythmic distorted guitars dominate also on 'The Lure of Dreams', with Susie sounding passionate throughout. The bassline is effective and there is a heavy atmosphere prevalent. The lead break has a wah wah effect and the nuances of organ and strings enhance the symphonic aspects.

'A Rose for Emily' is a sweet melodic song that is a commercial sound, but I like Susie's vocals so this does not disappoint me. The band have definitely diverted though from their prog Yes sound, and of course this diversion did nothing but harm the band's elite fanbase.

The heavy prog returns for 'Sleep On' with a great riff and some spacey effects. I like the riffing on this and the psychedelic overtones, kind of like prog metal with psychedelic layered effects. There is some nice piano on this too, cool synths and it is one of my favourites on this album. 'The Mid-Life Weird' follows, with a radio sound and awful male vocals that really grate on my nerves. Surely the worst thing they have done.

It is followed by 'A Bitter Wind', a beautiful ballad from Susie with a strong rhythm and flute nuances. The symphonic elements are very pleasant on this lovely song. 'The Curse They Weave' has a strong synthesizer rhythm and great melodic vocals from Susie. The male vocals return on 'Sun Down Shores', a slow song with lots of keyboards and a steady meter.

'Shrodinger's Lament' is an odd prog song with King Crimson riff time sigs and some weird narrations about cockroaches and other craziness. It really is a fish out of water but so good to hear among all the other commercial tracks. It is followed by another riffy song 'Hyperbole', with Susie sounding great and some very heavy guitar distortion. It is a longer song at 7: 39, and features an excellent bassline and some odd instrumentals such as guitar and organ. The narration of a miracle doctor scam artist reminds one of the circus travelling false doctors that used to rip people off with false cures and miracle medicines. The song is lot of fun with this section and overall has a terrific heavy rhythm. The album is getting better as it goes at this stage, but only one track remains. The last track is 'Falling', that is heavily reliant on piano and male vocals. It does nothing for me at all.

In conclusion this is not the starting point for Glass Hammer but it is still a solid album with some great tracks. The diversion in sound on this album was short lived and they returned to the less heavy more complex symphonic sound, much to the relief of their adoring fanbase.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#800241)
Posted Saturday, August 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars A somewhat controversial and mostly unloved release from American symphonic proggers Glass Hammer, `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted' saw the band, usually associated with lengthy instrumental filled epic arrangements, adopt a more accessible and stripped back format for their tenth album. This is probably one of the last albums from the band that newcomers should begin with, but the idea that's it's a dud, or worse yet, some kind of commercial sell-out is absurd! Female vocalist Susie Bogdanowicz takes the majority of the lead, but Steve Babb and Fred Schendel still get standout vocal passages throughout as well. All the usual romantic prettiness, the sweeping melodies and lush instrumentation are still there, just tightly compacted into more easier to approach settings, and best of all, the band adopted some more modern influences that, in retrospect with what was come, make this a real one-off that should be reconsidered.

Tracks like opener `Come On, Come On' and the sun-kissed cover of The Zombies' `A Rose for Emily' have a Beatles-esque 60's psychedelic pop flavour, Susie's voice offering breathy sighs. The confident acoustic guitar driven gothic ballad `A Bitter Wind' is one of the absolute album highlights, with weeping Mellotron weaving around Susie's wilting tones during the sublime repeated chorus, and it's pretty much a perfect Glass Hammer piece. Fred especially excels on both the strident and somewhat jaunty `The Mid-Life Weird', which wouldn't have sounded out of place as a breather on earlier album `Lex Rex', and sophisticated ballad `Sundown Shores' glistens with his tasteful piano playing and warm urgent vocal.

Several other tracks take some unexpected and welcome changes of direction. `The Curse They Weave' is very surprising, exciting and moody electro pop with dark slinking grooves, and it works a treat! There's a refreshing brooding heavier atmosphere on `The Lure of Dreams', with Steve's thick reverbreating bass, plus imposing Hammond organ, forceful drumming and intimidating searing Mellotron. `Sleep On' has nice muscular electric guitar workouts that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a Dream Theater album, while the ambitious `Schrodinger's Lament' has snarling sludgy riffs over somewhat distracting ranted spoken-word samples that drops in and out of floating spectral passsages that almost take on a dreamy Beach Boy's `Surf's Up' quality.

The almost 8 minute `Hyperbole' is the most overtly proggy standout here, but also easily one of the most contemporary and modern sounding pieces ever to appear on a Glass Hammer album. Dominated by Steve's bouncy leaping bass, a brisk up-tempo relentless beat drives electric guitar fire and infernal Mellotron choirs almost sounding like the later Porcupine Tree discs, twisting turning time-changes, ballistic synth soloing, and even Susie bringing a tougher vocal to carry the catchy repeated chorus home. I'd love the band to head in this direction again sometime soon, so many potential new directions they could investigate! Album closer `Falling' is a classy retro piano ballad from Fred that sounds just like the sort of multi-harmony honey-dipped pop that retro-rocker Matthew Sweet excelled at, and it's just as good. A gorgeous Mellotron outro closes the album perfectly.

Of course there's some filler scattered briefly throughout the eleven tracks, and the cover itself is not very special (although it's pretty inspiring to see the results of Fred's weightloss - way to go, buddy!), but `Three Cheers' frequently bristles with a relaxed energy that being free of ambitious extended and vintage flavoured proggy arrangements allowed the band. Despite some 60's pastiche here and there, this is the furthest Glass Hammer ever drifted from the vintage/retro-prog sound, and it seems fresh and full of untapped potential. I feel albums like this are more interesting and appreciated when looking back over a long discography of an artist, where risks and formula shakeups can be admired. It's a shame that the reaction from stuffier, perhaps older prog fans ensured that Glass Hammer never tried anything like this again (to date). As much as I still enjoy their albums from `If' onwards, it seems like the band had a massive panic attack from the response to this and raced back to the safe comfort of 70's sounds from then on.

The connection with Yes may have brought the band and their recent works more popularity and status, but even before Jon Davison joined their ranks, Glass Hammer already had a number of superb modern symphonic prog works in their career, and `Three Cheers for the Broken Hearted' was a very respectable diversion for patient lovers of the band, with frequently daring and unexpected experiments that we may never get to hear the likes of from them again. It's an album that revealed more variety and their own unique personality a little more than the 70's love-fests that have come since, and I wish the band would take a chance like this again...or that more of their fans would allow them to.

Three and a half stars.

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Send comments to Aussie-Byrd-Brother (BETA) | Report this review (#1265300)
Posted Sunday, August 31, 2014 | Review Permalink

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