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This Town Needs Guns - Animals CD (album) cover


This Town Needs Guns

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Before I start, I feel it necessary to say this is NOT a progressive rock album. It is a math rock album.

This is an amazing album, to say the least. I am originally a jazz and metal guy, and I was completely turned off by TTNG (This Town Needs Guns) when I first heard them. I listened to a couple of songs, then...went back to my Symphony X. I did not re-visit them until much later, when my friend got me into some 'mathy' bands. I finally decided not to put off any longer. I sat down and listened to "Animals" in its entirety. Wow. What an experience. It was such a good time, listening to that amazing album. One of the best math rock albums by one of the best math rock bands. This is a MUST have for any fan of math rock. Even if you're an instrumental guy only. This album has over 100 plays on my iTunes, and will hit 200 soon. I HIGHLY recommend it.

(I did not rate it a masterpiece, because there were no epic songs of over 10 minutes).

Report this review (#571304)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars First off, this album is a masterpiece. Very unique tone, surreal sounds, and mesmerizing beats/time signatures. There is really not much like anything else--this album is incredibly happy sounding and uplifting. The lyrics are much more sophisticated than usual pop lyrics (and actually are a bit sad, thought-provoking, contrasting the happiness of the music), which brings me to the controversial part of this review: the songs are all short, incredibly poppy, and "not all that progressive." Well, that first criticism, short obviously true. But there's nothing bad about that, because what matters is what you do with the length you have. A short but excellent 4 minute song is much better than a boring 18 minute epic. The second part is a stretch. The songs can actually be danced too, although you probably have to be on some drugs to follow those rhythms. They sound very poppy, but it's magical how they manage to do this because the riffs are ultra-complex. This can only be a strong point. And actually, it's a lot of fun to try dancing to it!

Anyway, that last's not progressive? Well that is just not true. I've seen people say this isn't progressive at all, but how can that be? The way this band uses highly complex rhythms and manages to make them sound poppy, experiment with sounds, and whatnot...that is very progressive. The ONLY criticism I have of this masterpiece is that the songs are not all that varied...but that's okay because they are all so good, that it ends up building one giant masterpiece instead of a few good songs here and there. Plus, they each have something unique about them. On to the music!

The first song, Pig, starts off immediately with what I think is 7/8 but it lasts maybe four seconds. It's immediately overwhelming and fun, and the ending of this piece puts you in a state of bliss, with what sounds like handclaps. It just grows into something magnificent.

The second song, Baboon, starts off with about a million guitar notes, yet it sounds soothing and calm. Very technical yet still poppy. The voice is great here (maybe it sounds too emo for some of you, but this singer definitely does have a lot of strong points, sounding like a weird cross of Tool's Maynard and Anthony Green from Circa Survive). There are some awesome transitions in this piece, like at 1:22. Enjoy!

Panda starts with some uplifting notes and continues on without a lot of power, some very happy sounding vocal sections with dreamy lyrics here. The ending features some "happy drumming."

Gibbon features an amazing psychedelic section towards the end. Headphones are essential for this piece, as various sounds come out of different sides and spin all around your head before an amazing transition back to the intro.

Rabbit starts off ultra poppy and it feels like it will last forever, but it literally only lasts two seconds. From there it's a mind-blowing tornado of music, that ends with some absolutely marvelous and beautiful "string" keyboards (or maybe real strings?) as it gets calm.

Badger begins a little slower than most other tracks here. It's strongest point has to be the additional piano/keyboard touches. It's hard to believe actual human beings could piece those beautiful notes over the madness underneath. The snare drumming towards the end is also a standout.

Elk is the most blissful musical experience ever. Just listen.

Crocodile follows Elk thoughtful, still very calm and with a brilliant middle section that makes you feel like you are looking at the stars with a close friend.

Quetzel is nonsense, psychedelic nonsense, just the guys having fun.

Chinchilla is when things pick up again; however, it slows down a bit later and we're treated to some more great riffs and some nice drumming. At about 1:20 we get some great guitar tidbits. The rim drumming is pretty sweet as well, check it out.

Dog is just some more greatness, with delicious double bass drum chops. With a heavier distorted sound on guitars and growling vocals it'd be metal, but they make it sound happy. Some good lyrics here too.

Lemur has some catchy vocals and catchy drumming, yet it is still the same brand of ultra complex. "You know, from the get-go" is brilliant, very catchy. Some cool tribal drumming stuff going on.

Lastly, we have the very different Zebra. This is a psychedelic masterpiece, beautiful, a little dark, and a great ending to the album.

If you are in the US you will be treated to some marvelous bonus tracks.

Overall, this album is essential listening for all. The only thing I think stopping a few people are the misleading song lengths, and maybe the vocals. There is so much going on here, it takes lots of listens, and the replay value is incredibly high.

The Mind-blowingly insane: There's a lot, but I'll pick the most immediate, hard-hitting one: in Pig, the 11/4 time signature bits with that weird bass notes. The coordination is insane.

The Mind-blowingly beautiful: there's also a lot, but Elk (all of it) just overwhelms all competition with its sheer beauty and uplifting sound.

The Mind-blowingly unexpected: that psychedelic headphone section I mentioned.

Report this review (#700544)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This Town Needs Guns has a unique sound, mixing math rock and pop-rock. Instrumentally the band is good, but the vocals are definitely "pop-rock" vocals, which I must confess I found somewhat annoying after a while. The result is catchy music, but I found myself getting tired with the album because all the songs sound similar. It's worth listening to, but I don't think the album is exceptional, and I'm mostly left with the band's overall sound instead of any really memorable or moving music. If you enjoy more pop-oriented "crossover prog", then you might really enjoy Animals, but it is not essential to a prog collection.

Rating: 6/10

Report this review (#803039)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was so excited when I discovered this album and so sad to discover that it's the only one the band produced with that particular lineup. Their sound is unique and their time signature fluency is remarkable, which I find highly appealing. The only thing that keeps it below 5/5 in my opinion is its harmonic simplicity; ultimately, as far as I can tell (not having ventured to complete a full analysis of the album), most of what you will find here is pentatonic. There aren't a ton of key changes; most of the intellectuality of the music is embedded instead in the angular melodies and odd time signatures (which, I should add, don't generally change the apparent velocity of the music; the tempo in each song stays about the same, even though the emphasized beats will fall in unexpected places).

There's not much distortion here, which I also like. Frequently I feel that distortion is hard on the ears without adding anything to the music itself. The vocals are quite clean also; the overall feel is more placid and frequently uplifting than aggressive, though sometimes undergirded with a sense of driving intensity.

I wasn't particularly concerned with the lyrics here, although some people might find them overly sentimental. For me, it was enough to be interesting and appeal on an emotional level without distracting from the cerebrality of the music itself.

Report this review (#1090588)
Posted Sunday, December 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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