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OSTRICH

Crack The Sky

Heavy Prog


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4 stars The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is that Ostrich is not progressive in the traditional "prog" sense of the word...although if you follow CTS then you will see that this is definitely a progress-ive record with the emphasis on progress.

This is their funkiest record ever. Yes, you can dance to it. I choose not to but that's just how I roll. I prefer to sit and chill and groove and brother, there's plenty to groove to here.

Ostrich opens with "The Box", very reminiscent of Vrooom-era King Crimson with angular guitars and interesting Floydian effects. When the band kicks in 1/3 of the way in, prepare to feel like the guy in the old Maxell cassette tape adverts. You better ""hold on"...haha. The band slams like guys with something to prove!

And btw, the band hasn't fessed up to this, but this IS a concept record! "I live in a box...the size of my head". Well right there you can see the ostrich connection. The subject is a modern day isolationist who knows what he knows and not much else. The next track "Happy Happy Happy" shows our subject walking around so blissfully ignorant of what's going on in the world that all you can do is pity the chump. Musically this one kicks off with mega bass, introducing new bassist Dave DeMarco, who I can only guess was a member of P-Funk in another life. Deep, dope and funky to the max! The horns make this song feel so lively and upbeat but it's only when you read the lyrics that you understand the irony - this is a very dark song and if you're like me, you'll feel this song describes someone you know or work with.

Next is "Your House is on Fire". I originally thought this was a metaphor for someone whose life was in a mess but nope...this brother's house is literally on fire. I won't spoil it for you by telling you who set it. This is a tour-de-force and again, I hear Crimson in the verses. Maybe a little ToP in the choruses but by golly the guitar solo is pure vintage Rick Witkowski...or it might be Bobby Hird. They both complement each other so well that it's hard to tell who's who sometime.

"Big Elephant"...a political treatise that's spot on. Great keyboard flourishes that remind me of late 80s Rush, tribal drums and again that bass. Slap bass in CTS??? That's a first.

But wait...CTS done went all country on us, complete with pedal steel guitar and prairie dog back up vocals. That's "King of the Rodeo" a song about a cowboy who moves to Japan to get work because his job got eliminated here. Where does Palumbo come up with this stuff? Was this a story on Fox news? Makes me laugh every time though and twango guitar solo is the icing on the cake. Like I said, not prog...but very progressive.

"Pole Dancing"...another funky monkey here with some great jazzy horns. These guys must be eating cornbread and collard greens these days. This is some serious soul. Go back and listen to their last record "Machine" and then remind yourself that this is the same band. Well different bassist and maybe that's where all this funk comes from although he is not listed as a songwriter.

"Don't Ask"....I hear Nine Inch Nails and ToaPP-era Crimson again. And some Revolver-era Beatles from the guitars. Lyrically, I'm not going to ruin the surprise for you but it's VERY topical and very controversial. My son likes this song the best and said it reminds him of Green Day. Maybe in terms of it being very up-tempo and almost punky.

"Holding My Breath" features the patented CTS dual guitar trade off at the end. I get another whiff of Rush on this one but I can't quite put my finger on it. Well, if Rush were from Oakland. Another great social commentary about the other 98% of us!

"Under The Hood". This is CTS's "Kashmir"...lots of deep, trippy grooves and southwestern guitars. Yeah, this is going to be all about introspection and self-discovery. Nope. It's about a blow up doll. HAHAHA! Classic Crack from the guy who brought you cannibalism in "Sea Epic". Love it!

Ostrich closes with a very touching ballad - "Ali's Song". My wife and I dance to this in our parlor and my son leaves the room but I don't care, I think it's sweet. There's some nice mandolin and accordion on this one and the band sounds very relaxed and confident. I'd bet my porch swing that they recorded this live in one take. At least that's what I want to believe. If you tell me otherwise I'll bury my head in the sand.

I listen to this and can't believe that all or most of these guys must be in their 60s by now. Compare this to new offerings by any of prog's elder statesmen an there's no comparison. They can play circles around just about anyone out there and yet they take the high road and groove like a well-tuned muscle car. And yet the arrangements have so much ear candy I was expecting to see George Martin's name in the credits. The production is flawless and totally state of the art.

I'm a big fan of Joey Macri and was surprised he had left the band again. Dave DeMarco fits this band like a glove - driving, authoritative lines reminiscent of the first 3 albums but with the added funk upgrade. Kudos to Palumbo and Co for giving the new guy so much air time. Bass kicks off 3 or 4 songs on Ostrich including the lead off track. Welcome aboard DD!

There's not a dud to be found on this platter. If they release a live DVD from this tour, I'll be all over it! Buy this record and enjoy the ride. This is a concept record for the rest of us!

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Send comments to chefster (BETA) | Report this review (#918787)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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