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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Phish's fifth album is obviously one they had fun to make but however exhilarating the music can be, the album still does not offer much of an interest for dedicated progheads looking for new adventures.

Simply too many Country influences on this album (especially in the second part of the album) annoy me enough but I was rewarded for listening to this until the end with the excellent 10 min+ Demand full of great solo (reminding you at times of the Allman Bros Band) as if the band needed to let off steam and burst out of the safety valve. The usual Phish influences are present namely the Grateful Dead, the ABB and the Spin Doctors .

I would advice progressive fans, if they choose to investigate this band to start with the live Slip, Stitch and Pass. This is were the band shows their full potential and improvisational skills.

Report this review (#33644)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Phish had been steadily gaining an audience over the past few years, and this album solidified that fan base due to its commercial appeal. Songs like Down with Disease and Sample in a Jar got a significant amount of airplay, and the band's status as a live band swelled their following. The death of Jerry Garcia and the end of the Grateful Dead in the following year helped to swell their following, as many of the deadheads now followed Phish due to the similarities in their music.

But Phish, I feel, was a much better band than the Dead. They were much more virtuosic, and much more progressive. This album doesn't showcase this that much. Instead, Phish decided to relegate shorter more accessable songs to their albums, and their extended epics were reserved to a live setting. Many of their best songs were never even officially released on studio albums, and can only be found on the many live albums Phish has released.

Therefore, this album is not very progressive. Aside from the last song, all the songs are short and too the point and without extended instrumental sections. This is much more of a pop album than anything else. But it is a good pop album, and should not be dismissed as it still contains their signiature sound. After seven albums and almost ten years of hard work, the band deserved a bit of commercial success.

Report this review (#72488)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Overall a weak follow-up to the excellent 'Rift' album. A couple of good tracks on here such as "Julius", "Down With Disease", and "Sample In A Jar".

Although the band was peaking at this particular time in terms of their live performances - their studio output remained spotty. The three good tracks mentioned above make it worth checking out. Try to borrow this one from someone before you buy it though. You may end up regretting the purchase otherwise.

Report this review (#118284)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars While not terribly prog, this album is fun to listen to, as it appears it was fun to record. The songs transmit a feeling of excitement from the band. It may be bacause this was the time that Phish was becoming a huge concert draw, but before Jerry Garcia's death, which seemed to cause this group to become a de-facto Dead for aimless Deadheads.

This was the last Phish album I enjoyed. I purchased "Billy Breathes" when it came out, but was so disappointed by it that I haven't shelled out the cash for any subsequent albums from them.

The music, as is usual for Phish, is an eclectic mix of rock, folk, country, and whatever they feel like playing. Standout tracks are the gospel/rock Julius, the hard rocking Axilla (Part II), and the extended jam Demand. The only low points are the too-tame Scent Of A Mule and Dog Faced Boy.

Not a bad album, bet they lose a point for me on this site for lack of prog.

Report this review (#299629)
Posted Saturday, September 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Most of the band's fans agree that this is one of Phish's weakest releases and since I am a phan myself, I tend to agree with this. It is not very progressive and it followed 4 excellent albums, and it was a disappointing release. Phish had gained popularity and was working to expand their audience even more with this albums, but that backfired and fortunately Phish returned to phorm afterwards.

That is not to say this album doesn't have some 5 star songs, but the consistency is sporadic at best. It starts off with an excellent groove and sounds like it is the start of another great album. But halfway through "Julius" things get stuck in this groove and it wears out it's welcome when the entire production lays it on way to thick and the chorus repeats itself ad naseum. The next track "Down with Disease" again shows promise and even though it is a conventional rock song with a hard and somewhat tricky beat, it isn't too bad, at least it's passable. "If I Could" is more of a Alternative Folk style song and even guests Alison Krauss with her beautiful voice. This is one of my favorite Phish songs even though it has nothing to do with progressive music, it is beautiful and sensitive. The strings that make up the climax add to the beauty of this track.

Now the album slips with a short track of noise called "Riker's Mailbox" which has a story attached to it which Phish Phans are familiar with, but it adds nothing. "Axilla Pt. 2" has an annoying chorus but also has a powerful beat that drives the song anyway and a really good and powerful guitar solo, but the song is just weakened by the chorus and that cancels the track out. Next up is "Lifeboy" which is a mellow 7 minute folkish song. Here the singing is too prissy sounding, yet the instrumentals are decent. I have a love-hate relationship with this song.

Moving on, we return to more of the New Orleans style rock sound that dominates the album with "Sample in a Jar" which is a great rocker and another heavy guitar solo which actually works to get the heart beating again. "Wolfman's Brother" is similar but not quite as interesting. "Scent of a Mule" is a silly song that lampoons country music. Usually this works for the band quite well, especially in the album "Rift", but it doesn't work as well here. It's adds a little more variety to this album, but by this time, it is not really a surprise having done the same thing much better in "Rift". "Dog Faced Boy" is boring and the singing is annoyingly naive.

The album finishes up with the only progressive song on the album at over 10 minutes. This is mostly instrumental and features some very tricky rhythms and great improvised guitar, more of what we are expecting from the band. There's even a bit of humor at the end that involves an angelic choir. Unfortunately, this last track doesn't save the album and the few great tracks on the album just isn't enough when so much more is expected. The album is good enough because of the few great tracks, but should not be the introduction to the band. Stick with "Junta", "Rift," or "A Picture of Nectar" as a more representative introduction to the band and then you can move on to "Story of a Ghost" or "Billy Breathes" or "Lawn Boy" from there. Then if you want more, check out there very extensive live discography. This album should be one of the last ones you check out. Only good, but not essential is a great description for "Hoist" 3 stars.

Report this review (#1418285)
Posted Thursday, May 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars People who like and follow the band Phish seem to forget this one, something that I'll admit I've done on several occasions. A mid-90's album that sort of rehashes and mellows down the art-rock style they developed on Rift, Hoist is an album that inspired a similar playing style of a blend of soft rock epics, shorter more eclectic pieces hailing to their earlier days, and blanket rock-and-roll. This particular style is one of my personal favorites of the band, and in my opinion led to some fantastic songwriting that was able to remain simple yet still have that edge of complexity (see Billy Breathes). Highlights of Hoist include the hard rocking 'Down With Disease', incorporating some funkiness spewed by Gordon, the mellow epic 'Lifeboy', and 'Sample in a Jar'. Perhaps my favorite track is the eclectic closer 'Demand', which subtly shifts moods several times throughout, from boisterous to more avant-garde to extremely climactic-so much so that the song ends with a literal crash and the sound of mourning a Capella. It is slightly worth noting that there is a lyrical reference in the song to 'Squirming Coil', a track on the 1990 Lawn Boy album.

Hoist is mainly a skip-able work of Phish. It has an overall sense of clunkiness and doesn't have the best flow as an album itself. As for individual tracks, there are some definite keepers that not only I found interesting but were indeed added to the vast Phish live repertoire. Mediocre? A bit. But I still suggest that it deserves at least a try, no matter if you are a 'phan' or a prog-enthusiast or simply a fan of rock.

Report this review (#1563218)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2016 | Review Permalink

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