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The Tea Club - Quickly Quickly Quickly CD (album) cover


The Tea Club

Crossover Prog

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Some of you may know this already about me: I love music that uses space and subtlety; I love the power that is conveyed through pause, sustain, minimal input. That is why I've been so attracted to groups like PG-era GENESIS, ANT PHILLIPS, DAVID SYLVIAN, BARK PSYCHOSIS, BJĂ?RK, KARDA ESTRA, AISLES, MAD CRAYON, NOSOSUND, BIG BIG TRAIN, BROTHER APE, FREQUENCY DRIFT and some of STEVEN WILSON's work, to name a few. Well, let me tell you, people: There is another kid on the block--an American group--that is knocking on the door, making a claim to be included in this group, and that band is THE TEA CLUB.

I only picked up on THE TEA CLUB in 2010 with Rabbit--which I loved and remains a regular on my playing rotations to this day. Now we have a 43-minute release of four songs under the title Quickly, Quickly, Quickly. (Check out the amazing album cover: It's like Japanese animator extraordinaire Hayao Miyazaki painted Carl Jung's favorite book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead!) This masterpiece of diverse prog music draws from many, many that have gone before yet is synthesized into a sound all their own. One area that this mature group has especially mastered is the ability to convey their message with their music--by this I mean, the moods that their instrumental compositions set forth seem to always fit perfectly with the lyrical message they are trying to convey. This is a rare and special talent.

1. "Firebears" (17:52) has an awesomely dynamic and original intro with great drumming and bass supporting cool guitar and keyboard interplay to introduce the song's main themes. At the two minute mark begins the vocal section of the song. The first vocal section has a very XTC Skylarking-era feel and sound to it--especially the harmonies, pacing, and guitars. A STYLE COUNCIL-like organ play helps bridge to the "If you can't sleep at night?" speaking part. The next vocal section has quite the WHO/TOBY DRIVER/STYX combination feel to it. (You have to hear it to understand what I mean.) At 6:40 everything quiets down for an absolutely gorgeous, dreamy, four minute NEKTAR/MARC ALMOND/ MAUDLIN OF THE WELL-like section. The vocal dexterities on this song are amazing! GEORGE WINSTON-like piano play brings us out of this delicate section, helped by guitar, a great bass line, and sensitive drum play. At 13:35 a strumming electric guitar starts the emergence into a reprise of the first XTC-like section--this time with some awesomely powerful, emotional vocals, keyboards and beautiful chord and key changes. The wordlessly intoned vocal passages are especially catchy and emotive. Great work on the batterie throughout! An incredible journey--a wonderful song that reminds me of the epics on one of my all- time favorite albums, BIG BIG TRAIN's The Difference Machine except with all the idiosyn- chronous things belonging exclusively to The Tea Club. A prog epic for the ages! (10/10)

2. "The Eternal German Infant" (8:11) begins with a great OCEANSIZE-like intro--great drum sounds (I love how TEA CLUB record their drums--especially their cymbols). The ensuing vocals are more like what I'm used to hearing from THE TEA CLUB. Raw bass--very early prog sounding. 2:00 slow down with vocal "meows" and ROBERT FRIPP guitar (which then turns to STEVE HOWE) sounding. At 2:40, as vocal continues to recite his alphabet associations, the music starts with quiet background then builds, first with glockenspiel-like instrument, then the full band rejoins, gradually adding layer upon layer of background voocals (hi and lo). At the 3:50 mark, (after a cool single fast piano arpeggio) the song starts into a more OCEANSIZE-like bass, guitar and drum pounding, building. Then, at 4:40 a solo synth "flute" sound carries the song forward into a delicate GENESIS Trespass-like pastoral section. Again, it builds with layer upon layer and increasingly complex, frenetic drumming, keyboard support and vocal arrangements. Guitar & keyboard soli start at 7:30, leading into frenzied kind of classical (Beethoven?) chord progression to close. Great song. (8/10)

3. "Mister Freeze" (6:49) opens with a bare electric bass followed by a plaintive wail from a sustained electric guitar--not unlike that from THE MARS VOLTA's "Televators". The vocal that follows sounds to me almost like a sedated IAN ANDERSON or CAT STEVENS--or even PHIL COLLINS on "Ripples." I love the spaciousness of the instrumentation throughout these first three minutes. Love the 'surprise' chord change at 1:30. Bass, Acoustic & electric guitars and synths, and now b vox. At 2:55 enters kind of KING CRIMSON/TONY LEVIN rhythm. At 3:38 a spooky synth ushers in a very intimate, softened, pastoral acoustic section similar to very early GENESIS/ANT PHILLIPS. The volume-controlled electric guitar in background is wonderful. Beginning at the 4:46 mark is a delicate "scat" vocal similar to PETER GABRIEL's in "Mother of Violence"--and organ joins in! At 5:24 arrives an awesome multi-layered vocal harmony "your labor that filled my mind, body, soul" section. Cool organ! Nice bass, too. This section plays out to the end. Awesome song with a very Trespass/HARMONIUM sound, yet with a mature sensitivity and feel to it. Tons of subtleties making this one of those songs that you hear differently each and every time you hear it. (10/10)

4. "I Shall Consume Everything" (9:26) begins with a couple of strangely odd guitar chords being played rapid arpeggio. The harmonized vocals at 1:10 sound like FLEET FOXES. Then, at 1:30, there is a lull of guitar arpeggios and tremolos. Just before the two minute mark we are teased with a very brief dynamic shift before everything calms down again and harp(?) arpeggios carry us forward. At 3:00 the song climbs fully into realm of electric "rock". The lead vocal surprises me by staying in a low register. It's very effective! The vocal builds in emotional intensity until a scream opens up into a brief guitar solo. This is soon followed by a very powerful "More, give me, more, give me" vocal/music section. I love the crazy- lunatic-sounding "circus carousel" instrument sounding in background, as well as the haunting repetitive bass and electric guitar lines. The feel gets creepier and weirder crossing the six minute mark before electric guitar chords and drums usher in the powerful "only some will live forever" vocal section. The last two minutes of the song repeat this dirge with increasing strength and dynamic effects. Nice FRIPP-like solo beginning from the eight minute mark. The last thirty seconds sound as if the human machine is fading, failing, losing strength. This one I get without having to try very hard. I find it amazing how the group's vocals, bass, guitar parts, frenetic drumming and keys parts all convey so masterfully the tense lunatic-crazy feeling of our culture as we frenetically, freakishly follow our addictions like slaves. It's as if the eery, ludicrousness of our rampant rush to self-destruction is constantly conveyed by at least one instrument throughout--guitar, bass, 'circus carousel' keyboard sound, drumming, and, of course, the diverse vocals, solo and harmonized. What a sad world we've created--and how brilliantly THE TEA CLUB have captured it in their art. (10/10)

Mega kudos, Dan and gang. Mega Kudos, Tea Club! With Quickly, Quickly, Quickly, you have not only proven yourself, you have risen to the top of the heap.

"More, give me more, give me more, give me more"!

2012 is (finally) starting to look like another great year. Could it equal or surpass The Year Of Prog, 2011? We shall see. There are still three months left. Right now my top albums of the year would be the year's contributions from Big Big Train, The Tea Club, Kotebel, Battlestations, Anglagard, Anathema, Thinking Plague, Distorted Harmony, Astra, Echolyn, Greylevel, Dean Watson, Sylvan, RPWL, The Flower Kings, Magma, and Crippled Black Phoenix, in that order.

Report this review (#841349)
Posted Sunday, October 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars When The Tea Club's second album "Rabbit" came out, I honestly thought, "how could McGowan's top the originality and adventure of 'Rabbit'? The band would need a genie (preferrably Robin Williams) in order to produce an album of greater caliber. But now, after hearing their third album "Quickly, Quickly, Quickly...", I am left pondering where they found this genie. Who is this genie? Why is it so darn powerful (because it is Robin Williams)?

Let me assure you? never, ever, ever... ever, ever, ever, x (infinity), underestimate The Tea Club's resourcefulness. "Quickly, Quickly, Quickly..." is an album of vast resourcefulness, quirk, cleverness, punch, and dimension. From the start, the chaos, complexity, and urgency of "Firebears" instantly yanks the attention. Keyboards, guitars, bass, and drums bleed and blend together; all embodying one epic sound, and yet all with a fanatic life of their own--something the The Tea Club has sublimely mastered throughout the years. Midway through "Firebears" is a section so beautiful it may just bring you tears. It builds into the third and last part of the song where the intensity hits its peak and leads you into a catchy and placid resolution. Patrick's voice hear is absolutely gripping, haunting, and pacts a lot of punch. 10/10

"Eternal German Infant" is a quirky, unpredictable song with Dan's catchy lyrics and dreamy guitar at the forefront. The drumming is incredibly volatile, and yet the bass, a perfect blend of melody and rhythm as usual, manages to keep it in the realm of the ever-fanatic imagery of the guitars and keyboard. 10/10

"Mr. Freeze" slows it down. Haunting. The dark and brooding mood swallows you whole. The harrowing guitar effects are chilling and Dan's low voice effectively helps darken the mood. This chilling song really builds into something mesmerizing and sentimental--a perfect example of the McGowan's songwriting abilities and craftsmanship. 10/10

"I Shall Consume Everything" opens hypnotically. Once again, the guitar effects are beautifully highlighted. The keyboards here are tantalizing, charming, and always present with loads of catchy tricks up its sleeve. Volatile and catchy throughout, the song ends with a dark sense of adjusted hopelessness and all the instruments bellowing. 10/10

Blood and sweat went into making this album, and you can tell. Strong and brutally original throughout its entirety, "Quickly, Quickly, Quickly..." is an indubitable work of experimentation, heart, complexity, hard-work, and wild imagination. Not only did The Tea Club mature as artists and musicians, but they proved that music of this generation can be original and complex, and still maintain its accessibility and ability to transcend deep within our hearts.

"Quickly, Quickly, Quickly..." is an instant classic. And I say, it grants them a spot next to such acts as Yes, Radiohead, Genesis, Tool, and all the big guys who do it best.

If I had to compare them to anything it would go as thus: The spirit and song-writing ability of Genesis, the cleverness and power of King Crimson, the attitude and emotional dynamic of Oceansize, the originality and balls of Radiohead, and the epicness and energy of Yes!

Report this review (#842984)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars QQQ - Good things come in threes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#844834)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Man I have grown to love this album. In fact that first track has become one of my favourite songs of 2012. I have had a soft spot for these guys since I first became aware of them a few years ago or so. I like their sense of humour and while I think their first two albums were good, this one is great !

The song I mentioned earlier is the almost 18 minute opener called "Firebears". Man that instrumental intro just makes me feel so good and when the vocals arrive that feeling continues. Some spoken words before 5 minutes. Man this is so good and how energetic is the drum work here ?! Vocals are passionate as he screams the words that follow. A calm after 6 1/2 minutes and i'm thinking of GENESIS for some reason. Piano and fragile vocals after 10 minutes. It's picking back up before 12 minutes but then it settles back again. It kicks back in with vocals before 14 minutes. Nice. Vocal melodies late to end it. "The Eternal German Infant" opens with passionate drumming then the vocals arrive as it settles back some. Dan is singing here and he has what I call those modern sounding vocals. Probably my least favourite track but I still dig it, especially the instrumental calm that starts after 4 1/2 minutes. Tender vocals then join in. It kicks back in after 6 1/2 minutes with multi vocals. Cool. Nice keyboard section too.

"Mister Freeze" is darker with bass and eerie sounds as the reserved vocals join in. I can't help but think of Hackett with those acoustic guitar lines. Yes GENESIS comes to mind again to my surprise. It all sounds so beautiful 5 1/2 minutes in. Great track ! "I Shall Consume Everything" continues where the last song left off with intricate acoustic guitar and reserved vocals. Then flute-like sounds join in followed by bass. I like how dark it sounds before 2 minutes then it settles back. It kicks in with angular guitar after 3 minutes. He almost screams the words after 4 minutes then the angular guitar returns. The intensity lets up before 6 minutes and the vocals return. They turn passionate again. What a song !

THE TEA CLUB is a band who's music early on was embraced by the Prog community I think to their surprise. In turn though they themselves have embraced Prog and this is the glorious results. A very solid 4 stars and still growing on me.

Report this review (#884344)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Quickly Quickly Quickly' - The Tea Club (9/10)

Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson once stated in an interview that "...the Mars Volta, Tool, and Radiohead. . .are the future of progressive music." I would like to add The Tea Club to that list. Although these US proggers make a customary nod in the direction of the prog classics, much of their sound is drawn from the well of the current rock scene. Since 2010 with their second album "Rabbit", The Tea Club have been on the radar, and it's tantamount to criminal that I'm only first hearing them on this, their third album. To put it simply; "Quickly Quickly Quickly" is the sort of album that will only grow on the listener and the progressive community at large as time goes by. It's a wonderful fusion of post-rock aesthetic, progressive song structure and the loose-reined vigour of punk rock. Although 2012 was a year host to output of impressive records from some of progressive rock's finest, The Tea Club just may have topped them all.

Comparisons to The Mars Volta or The Dear Hunter are inevitable; besides each of these bands' names starting with everyone's favourite definite article, The Tea Club take aspects of the oft-recycled progressive formula and successfully translate them to a 21st century context. Although most of these 'nu-progressive' (or 'modern prog'- what's the term I'm supposed to use here?) artists tend to get first compared to Porcupine Tree, The Tea Club go for a much more sporadic sound. "Quickly Quickly Quickly" demonstrates this from the very start; the eighteen minute "Firebears" opens with an appropriately fiery instrumental passage that incorporates all the best elements of jazz fusion, punk, and vintage progressive rock. Of course, like all the best, The Tea Club exercise moderation in their music. "Firebears" ultimately settles down into a mellowed-out midsection with a sublime balance between soft instrumentation and captivating vocal melodies. Later on and throughout the album, The Tea Club showcase the emotive and energetic in relatively equal proportions. "The Eternal German Infant" represents this binary effect to wonderful results: it successfully pairs melodic catchiness and harmony with the sort of chaotic riffs and distortion you would normally hear in math rock.

Although certain passages (particularly the mellowed midsection of "Firebears" and the filmscore-worthy album climax) stole my heart from the first listen, "Quickly Quickly Quickly" is- contrary to the album's title- an album that took its time to grow and ferment. There aren't too many albums that manage to be instantly gratifying and long-lasting simultaneously, but the band's mixed approach ensures that the album retains its flair and poignance throughout many a listen. Possibly the most accessible and inviting aspect of The Tea Club's sound are the vocals, offered here by the brothers McGowan, Patrick and Dan. Although at times they hit the higher notes and bombast of The Dear Hunter's Casey Crescenzo (or Coheed & Cambria's Claudio Sanchez), both vocalists' strength lay in the more laid-back, mid-range vocals. If proof is needed, I refer once again to the midsection on "Firebears"- "I watched as you spun your web..." . The vocals do much more for less. On the other side of the spectrum, there are a few times when the vocals try to reach out of their regular zone, occasionally hitting 'scream' territory. Although it could have potentially worked in this sort of music, the brothers McGowan's more aggressive passages aren't as impressive as the rest of the vocal passage. Regardless, there's not a note here that leaves a bitter taste- The Tea Club have made a near-perfect album here, and still, I'm left feeling they'll be able to hit even greater heights in time.

Although "Quickly (x3)" never reaches the sort of chaotic energy that a band like The Mars Volta typically hit, the balance between musical disciplines insures that the album never feels monotonous. Even on the epic-worthy, eighteen minute opener, The Tea Club never extend themselves past what is tasteful. It's this willpower to keep themselves from exercising the 'ultra-prog' aspect of their sound that makes The Tea Club such an attractive prospect in a scene that often values technical showmanship over emotive profundity. The album's relatively brief length keeps it from ever wearing out its welcome or encroaching on dinner time, but most importantly, it's left me wanting more from the band. Check them out- by the gods- I implore thee!

Report this review (#891147)
Posted Friday, January 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Tea Club "Quickly Quickly Quickly" 9/10

Upon hearing this incredible piece of art, I very quickly quickly found myself online buying more of their music. Such a fantastic effect this album had on me. I have been stunned by the sheer brilliance these gentlemen have put into Quickly Quickly Quickly (Here on, QQQ). I have let myself listen to this album at least a dozen times in various situations to let myself really soak it up, before writing down my thoughts. Even now, listening to it again, amazement flows through me as my mind attempts to understand how such a fine piece of awesome can simply exist.

Beginning with the epic "Firebears", QQQ contains elements of truly fantastic progressive music. Easily a new favourite of mine, and definitely ranking among the talents like Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta and Yes, anticipation for a next release has already begun. "Firebears" does what it is well; "Firebears" hits off a stunning beginning to this incredible album, and sets up just how awesome QQQ is. Yet it is more awesome than that even. The astonishing sound that comes from The Tea Club and their QQQ brings forth wishes of knowing of them years earlier. The then 5-piece, Patrick and Dan McGowan, Becky Osenenko, Charles Batdorf and Joe Rizzolo, clearly know how to write music and compose true art.

Following "Firebears" is the track that really got me hooked on this album; QQQ's second track, "The Eternal German Infant" contains some truly mind melting melodies and astounding and enjoyably lyrical work. This is not to say that the rest of QQQ lacks these elements in comparison, I simply fell in love with "The Eternal German Infant" first. The lines "P is for Pink Wood House/O is for Orange Moon Cakes/I is for Ivory's key/N is for Number Nine/(Strawberry Number Nine)/T is for a Triumphee!" and others like it, I find are delivered so fantastically well I could cry. The sound and tone these lines add to the music are way beyond brilliant. If someone were to tell me that the group were not actually human, I might believe them. A divine creation they have set upon the earth, and I shall pray to The Tea Club every night in hopes of a new album and to see them live.

Throughout the album, the vocals and guitar work is harmonized so fantastically beautifully well by Dan and Patrick McGowan, a sound that I will never forget in my lifetime. Considered their signature sound, it certainly adds a definite mood and element to the music that is already done so very well. The melodies carried by these two are found in the dictionary definition of "Awesome", and I don't mean the simple, every day awesome. I am talking about see-the-earth-from-space kind of awesome, which I am sure The Tea Club has done, being the divine beings they are.

The drumming. Oh man the drumming. Rizzolo is able to capture the perfect blend of simplistic and technical drumming in QQQ. Knowing the perfect time to step it up a few notches to 12/10 incredibleness, and then humble it down to a slower, less complicated pace. Additionally, the sound of his DW Collectors Series is amazing, and recorded in perfection. Nothing at all to hate here, such brilliance has been created.

Wrapping up, it is unbelievable that such an album as this exists. It is unbelievable that The Tea Club exists in all their excellent skill. Something so amazing has been hidden (from me) for too long, and their masterpiece Quickly Quickly Quickly demonstrates that they are more than able to show the world some real talent. I am honoured to have given my ears the chance to enjoy the awe-inspiring sounds that come from such a beautiful package, simply titled "Quickly Quickly Quickly" written and recorded by the magnificent Tea Club. When is the day I can die peacefully? Never, as long as The Tea Club exists... M is for Masterpiece...

Report this review (#891480)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Upon initially listening to this album (which was my first encounter with The Tea Club) I was not sure what to make of it. The music had moments of "classic" prog, but didn't rely on old formulas for its signature sound. What it did have in droves was an unmistakable sense of drama and urgency, and a conspicuous disregard for conventionality. There are hard rock, pop, grunge, folk and alternative moments -- all delivered with meticulous finesse, even when just about to go off the rails.

Without diminishing the excellent performances by all the band members, I would like to note that one of the standout aspects of this album is Joe Rizzolo's flavorful drumming. I would even go so far as to say there is *melody* in so many of the fills. In places where simple rollouts would suffice, Joe instead pulls off inventive, well articulated patterns that fit the moment but without the unnecessary "look at how technical I am" showiness.

This album is definitely one that grows on you over time (like most complex albums do), and fully blossoms when enjoyed end-to-end through headphones.

Report this review (#899352)
Posted Friday, January 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Excellent, Excellent, Excellent

I can still remember the day when THE TEA CLUB was suggested to the Symphonic team, and we had to say no, simply because they are not Symphonic. But since Dan Mc'Gowan had sent me a copy, of their debut called General Winter's Secret Museum, listened it with interest and was very impressed with the birth of a good band.

Two years later Dan sent me a copy of Rabbit and found that the band had matured a lot. But nothing can compare with what happened this Christmas evening when the postman brought me a copy of their third album Quickly, Quickly, Quickly.

It was a complete shock to find that this guys have grown incredibly and now they embrace a new kind of Progressive Rock that blends Symphonic, Heavy Prog and some sort of inspired Eclectic that left me asking for more, if they keep improving at this rate, the sky is the limit.

The album opens with Firebears, an almost 18 minutes epic that really blows your mind even if you are prepared. After a frenetic intro where the band attacks with a violence and intensity that can only be compared to Relayer, even when more melodic. After the first two minutes the vocals join and then you can expect anything, I listen hints of KING CRIMSON, YES, VDGG, GENESIS and even RADIOHEAD, mixed with such delicacy that nothing seems out of place. The wonderful dissonance between voice, keys and guitar is breathtaking while Charles Batdorf in the bass and specially Joe Rizzolo in the drums, are the ones who are responsible to glue all the individual efforts........Simply amazing.

The Eternal German Infant is slightly different, even when they don't lose that fascination with dissonances, the song tends to be more melodic and dramatic. In some parts reminds of Derek Shulman in Advent of Panurgis but with a great difference, while GENTLE GIANT seem to search complexity as their ultimate goal creating a divorce between vocals and the random sounds they create with the instruments, the music of THE TEA CLUB becomes complex when required by the natural evolution of the song, with a perfect synchronicity between the vocalist and the rest of the band.

When I thought I had enough surprises, the dark and mysterious Mister Freeze begins with something I never expected, while the obscure and almost depressive vocals (Hey depressive is good) are enhanced by a mysterious keyboard and bass, an acoustic guitar plays a tune that reminds me of A TRICK OF THE TILE. But this is only momentary, because after a minute or so, they return to the original tune, but the fascinating thing is that if you pay close attention, you can feel the delicate variations, another delightful song.

The album is closed by the incredibly beautiful I Shall Consume Everything, but the listener needs to be ready, because the changes are constant and radical, taking us from the mellow acoustic guitar and flute (Guess synthesized) to the frenetic sections where the band attacks us with all the heavy artillery creating an intense collision of sounds and moods that any Progressive Rock fan will appreciate. In seconds they take us from calm and peace to aggression and anguish, in other words, they can transmit strong feelings which in my opinion is one of the greatest achievements of any band. Obviously my favorite song.

Normally when i reach this point in a review I'm full of doubts and asking myself what rating will be less unfair, being that a number can't summarize the music, but today I have no problems, being that THE TEA CLUB has crossed the line that divides good from extraordinaire bands who are able to release a masterpiece like Quickly, Quickly, Quickly , so without hesitation, will go with 5 solid stars.

Report this review (#901441)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars After having read some of these rather overwhelming reviews it seemed only right to go and explore for myself. Amazon kindly obliged and within 10 minutes I had the album sitting on my hard drive. Having wanted the best sound I converted the mp3 into a wave file and copied the whole album to a cd. Ready to run on a very large and powerful system, time on my hands and THE TEA CLUB not to be mistaken for THE TEA PARTY had their chance to prove the critics, in this case right. Well I'm still waiting for the impact. The fall over with glee type feeling, tell all your mates what you've discovered type feeling. Unfortunately the album does very little for me other than join the ranks of the "well done lads you show great promise" and move on to better things. It is not for me to pass judgement other my own opinion and am convinced that there is undoubtedly talent on show here, furthermore if they are able to appeal to so many other listeners then it can't be anything other than positive. Keep on progging!
Report this review (#906487)
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars

Promises promises promises kept

Before this album came out, Dan asked me to have a listen to some premixed tracks, and see if I could do a review. At the time, I was quite busy, so despite playing the tracks a few time, I never got around to doing that review. Now, finally, I do have the time, so it's time to live up to the promise.

This album definitely takes some time to grow on you - at least in my case. There is so much to hear, and so much going on that it's easy to get lost, this is not for people who like verse-chorus-verse-chorus-chorus-verse-yeah style music.

Fire Bears explodes in your face straight away, with a great instrumental intro. The band members surely have the skill to hang on to their instruments in what may sound to the casual listener as chaos. If you sit down for it, you hear an intricate piece of music, that can compete with classics by Genesis, Pink Floyd or Van der Graaf Generator, while at the same time not forgetting the fact that this is the 21st Century.

The Eternal German Infant is not much different in quality, although it is a completely different track. The intro is even more 'bombastic', although using that word seems unfair. Not because bombast is bad, but because although the keyboards are clearly in the lead here, in no way does the band attempt to mimic a band like ELP. It's fresh, energetic and modern, with a hint to classic prog. Half way through the track, I can't help but being reminded of some of the tracks on Van der Graaf Generators Trisector album - and the darkness and power equal that of old VDGG.

With Mr. Freeze, in comes a completely different beast - musically speaking. The comparatively mellow track, with a prominent roll for a very modestly played bass changes the atmosphere completely. Again, it's dark as an old mansion at night with all fuses blown - but this time almost hypnotically so. A masterpiece in painting atmospheres with sound, as far as I'm concerned.

After awaking from hypnosis (even without someone snapping their fingers), I shall Consume Everything takes us to yet another galaxy. One that brings to mind waterfalls and green valleys, mainly due to the way the keyboards and guitar interact - a bit like the effect the acoustic guitar has in Rush' masterpiece 2112. The build up from their to a magical prog rock track, which once again combines power and darkness in a VDGG like manner is implemented perfectly.

When I heard General Winter's... the first time, I was impressed a lot, and I gave it four stars because I felt it had to prove itself over time. It did. With Rabbit I needed time to let the album grow on me, and I gave four stars again, because I felt there was more to come. I was right... and more has come. This time, all the good parts of the other two albums, and more, are combined. This album does not need to prove itself, it already has proven itself over the past three months.

A solid master piece, the first in many years.

As usual, thanks to Dan, for allowing me to pre-listen - and apologies for not writing this earlier

Report this review (#911644)
Posted Saturday, February 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well my first experience listening The Tea Club

Very good crossover prog .Very good musicians..innovators ..creative...

This is good modern prog rock.

The first song Firebears my most likeable :a song with many delightful changes of styles .It reminds me sometimes old Genesis (PG era)...the The Mars Volta...sometimes Big Big Train.

The other 3 mostly in the level of the first one.

I can,t deny this is very good but is not so original :This is a perfect mix between the Mars Volta and Big Big Train ...with some Genesis drops...

I like this innovative crossover prog rock but the front line is in TMV and BBT.

3,5 stars for me.

Report this review (#925913)
Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Tea Club are a progressive rock band from New Jersey, USA, started by brother tandem Patrick and Daniel McGowan. After honing their sound, and releasing several EPs and a couple full length albums, The Tea Club (TTC) dropped their third full length album, titled Quickly Quickly Quickly, on November 27th. Had I stumbled upon this sooner, it easily would have made my Top Albums of 2012 list, as it is absolutely a prog rock masterpiece. It is complex when it needs to be without being at all difficult to listen to, and it knows when to back down and let gentle waves wash over the listener.

Consisting of only four tracks, and starting with the sprawling, near-18 minute long epic, "Firebears", this is not an album for those not initiated into progressive rock fair. The musicianship is inventive, layered, and perfectly executed. The drumming on just the opening track is enough to make a name for drummer Joe Rizzolo. It is very Gavin Harrison- esque, using subtlety and skill to create stunning fills and passages as well as having a few oddly timed rhythms, which end up sounding very satisfactory in the general mix of the music. The guitar parts are fluid and melodic, resulting in some very comforting sounding lead melodies, even when the music ramps up the intensity. Occasional nods to classic prog bands such as Yes, Genesis, and Camel as well as more post rock influences are heard, but TTC manage to sound very unique and fresh. The keyboards are sparse and gentle, but are woven nicely into the guitar parts to build wonderful textures in both the softer and more intense moments. The McGowan brothers share vocal duties, and both acquit themselves excellently. Their harmonies are beautiful, and their individual passages showcase brilliant, soulful singing from both. It is easy to tell they really feel passionate about their music and the lyrics that they write.

Lyrically, QQQ is quite complex, with one song, "The Eternal German Infant", using acrostic poetry for its refrain. The song seems to tell some sort of fairy tale, in a style similar to that of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles. The language is strange, vibrant, and pleasing to the ear. The music fits the words, floaty and happy, but not afraid to turn up the tension and intensity. "Mister Freeze" is by far the calmest song on the album. It has a few moments that are almost post rock in between serene acoustic passages interspersed with keyboard swells, and a few darker sounding sections.

The Tea Club are a fantastic prog rock band, and Quickly Quickly Quickly is certainly one of the top prog records of the last few years. It is modern sounding, without forgetting where its roots are. Utilizing magnificent musicianship, skillful songwriting, and a brilliant lyrical mind, this album is a unique musical journey into a strange, peaceful landscape, and stands as one of the top albums released in 2012.

Score: 87

Report this review (#930101)
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of those bands who, like Birds and Buildings, have a distinctly modern sound which feels like a logical continuation of the experiments of underground prog bands past rather than mere mimicry of it, The Tea Club offer an excellent collection of tracks on Quickly Quickly Quickly. Think of any progressive band from King Crimson to Radiohead and if you listen carefully you could probably find echoes of them somewhere deep in here, whether it's one of the many surprises concealed in the bizarre epic Firebears or the bombastic tantrum of the Eternal German Infant or the sinister netherworld of Mr Freeze. In a year not short on excellent prog albums, Quickly Quickly Quickly stands out as an album which will hopefully gain more widespread appreciation over time.
Report this review (#931950)
Posted Sunday, March 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars A sonic kaleidoscope, The Tea Club presents a quartet of songs that appealed to me from the start. Energetically tasteful, Quickly Quickly Quickly never fumbles under its own vigor, keeping the listener engaged throughout with a variety of interwoven sounds and a decidedly symphonic panache.

"Firebears" I knew I would like this as soon as that driven opening blasted through my speakers. The drumming throughout is a highlight, offering enough texture and variety by itself to compete with the tightly woven fibers of sound presented by the guitars and keyboards. Midway through, we're treated to a shimmery, jazz-tinged section with wandering bass and hushed vocals. The enigmatically beautiful vocal melody that closes out the piece is so satisfying.

"The Eternal German Infant" Alternating between hard-hitting incursions and a certain Echolyn-like whimsy, this second song demonstrates the broadness of style The Tea Club is capable of, all while maintaining a respectable coherence.

"Mister Freeze" Temporarily abandoning the motley soundscape for a quiet acoustic song, this contains both mellow and darker passages. It is the album's "breather," but that does not make it any less admirable.

"I Shall Consume Everything" Pairing heavy progressive rock with a bit of a country shuffle and smooth harmonies, this song has the angst-ridden edge of a band like The Dear Hunter, as it gradually adopts more symphonic elegances.

Report this review (#1005633)
Posted Friday, July 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first review - and this album deserves it. Quickly Quickly Quickly is a powerful expression of progressive rock, melding classic and modern themes into a unique, artful masterpiece. After several listens I believe it deserves a spot in the collection of any discerning prog fan.

"Firebears" is an emotional epic that keeps delivering. There is a rough edge beneath superb playing all around. The drums drive the track - sometimes too close to the edge, but never over. Guitars and keyboards dance around and into each other with glee. This track unfolds after many listens - there is a lot going on and it all fits. It makes me want to keep listening.

"The Eternal German Infant" features a whimsical lyric that immediately pulls you in. As the story unfolds, you sense several classic flavors throughout as many reviewers have noted (the nod to Genesis halfway through is unmistakable), but their concoction is delightfully fresh. Delicious.

"Mister Freeze" bubbles out with a funky bass that belies serious depth. Haunting, but not gloomy. This is what I love about the album: they weave modern chord progressions throughout while eschewing the doom that has shrouded prog over many years. This song presents a thread of hope amid shadows.

"I Shall Consume Everything" is the real gem in my view. It encapsulates everything I love about progressive music and could stand as one of the finest songs of this age. I can hear a thousand classics throughout yet I only hear one band - and I absolutely love it. What a finisher.

OK so I am a fanboy. But I am soaked in prog over many decades (and many years on this site), and I constantly search for modern bands who speak old languages in fresh tongues. A stellar review of their new album Grappling led me to this (as I type this, my pre-order download has just arrived and is fiercely beckoning) and I am giddy to pop my cork for QQQ. I cannot wait to hear the new one.

This is a must-have masterpiece and deserves my five stars.

Report this review (#1487802)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is easily one of my favorite albums of the decade.

The Tea Club truly found itself on this third studio endeavor. After having heard the previous release, Rabbit, I peeked at the track listing of Quickly Quickly Quickly and thought it might be an EP. How blissfully wrong I was! "Firebears" grabbed my attention immediately and held it for 18 straight minutes, with each subsequent song different enough from its predecessor that I remained transfixed from start to finish.

The lyrics here are intelligent and provocative. The music and vocals are passionate, diverse, exciting, and downright brilliant. The packaging, I must add, is absolutely glorious -- you're doing yourself a disservice if you merely stream or download this, because the CD's outer and inner artwork (designed by the absurdly multitalented McGowan brothers) are spectacular.

Quickly Quickly Quickly is, quite simply, perfect.

Report this review (#1826852)
Posted Sunday, November 26, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars To start off, I must say that everything about this album is stunning to me, from the compositions, to the musicianship, to even the incredible cover, which admittedly was part of the reason I was drawn to this album in the first place. The band blends the modern and classic prog together amazingly, having a very clear combination of symphonic and heavy prog, and then taking their influences to make something truly unique and mature. Each of the four songs on this album are of incredible quality, each filled with subtle nuances and beautiful melodies, backed up further by the production, which has the instrumentals all blend together in such a way that they each remain distinctive, while also providing incredible tone and atmosphere.

'Firebears' starts the album off strongly, with what is easily one of my favourite intros to any song, utilising fast paced drumming with a keyboard melody that is simply divine, already clearly displaying the way such energetic elements simply lend themselves to the particular beauty present in the album. One thing in particular that I really love about this is how despite the song being so long, it manages to all sound like one complete, coherent song, rather than a suite of smaller songs, which while I love some songs that do that, I do find it impressive when a band is able to pull off a massive epic that maintains the feeling that it is just one song. Parts in particular that I love here are the spoken word section, and the last 3 minutes, which produces a melody that simply blows me away. I'd go as far as to say that this is within my top 50 songs of all time. The middle 2 songs, 'The Eternal German Infant' and 'Mister Freeze' are both considerably less overtly complex, but both still are extremely high quality as well. 'The Eternal German Infant' features some quirky lyrics and decent melody overall. The band is more energetic and fun here, being light on the emotion and atmosphere, and instead focusing more on making something generally entertaining. I like the very strong symphonic elements present here, and the vocal harmonies being excellent. The vocals are very high quality, displaying emotion, range, and having an incredibly pleasant tone to them. 'Mister Freeze' feels like the complete opposite of the previous song, being extremely mellow and atmospheric, using the electric guitars and synths to create an amazing soundscape. The way it picks up slightly at the halfway point further improves it, in every respect, paving the way for amazing vocalisations and causing the listener to simply feel like they're drifting along with the music. 'I Shall Consume Everything' adds a significant layer of darkness and angst to their formula, incorporating slightly offputting elements such as the the three chord bassline and the gradual buildups throughout. This leads directly into some inharmonious guitar work and my favourite moment on the album, where Dan McGowan screams out "I knew you were gonna PULL THIS!" and has the song continue increasing in intensity.The album then ends with a section that progressively sounds more melancholy as it goes on, returning to the beauty that was present before.

This album is an absolute masterpiece, each of the four songs are incredible, full of subtleties and nuances, each contributing to the overall unique sound that The Tea Club has, while each having their own identity. The production is also stellar, with each instrument mixed incredibly to allow for more energetic moments without disrupting anything. The best thing is that while I find this album to be incredible, I still feel as if the band could further progress and improve, becoming even greater than this album shows.

Best songs: Firebears, Mister Freeze, I Shall Consume Everything

Weakest songs: While the album has no song that I find less than great, The Eternal German Infant is the weakest

Verdict: This album is simply incredible in basically every way to me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a prog fan, classic or otherwise, as this album will almost certainly contain something you'll enjoy

Report this review (#2051390)
Posted Friday, November 2, 2018 | Review Permalink

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