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The Tea Club

Crossover Prog

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The Tea Club Rabbit album cover
3.85 | 107 ratings | 9 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Simon Magus (6:24)
2. Diamondized (6:34)
3. The Night I Killed Steve Shelley (9:07)
4. Royal Oil Can (5:15)
5. Out Of The Oceans (7:17)
6. He Is Like A Spider (6:20)
7. Nuclear Density Gauge (7:22)
8. Tumbleweeds (4:09)
9. Astro (11:31)

Total Time 63:59

Line-up / Musicians

- Patrick McGowan / vocals, guitar, bass
- Dan McGowan / guitar, vocals
- Tom Brislin / keyboards
- Becky Osenenko / bass
- Kyle Minnick / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Kendra DeSimone

CD self-released (2010, US)

Thanks to finnforest for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy THE TEA CLUB Rabbit Music

THE TEA CLUB Rabbit ratings distribution

(107 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

THE TEA CLUB Rabbit reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Got Rabbit? One of 2010's finest albums

What do revolutions, re-invented wheels, clocks that don't work, scarecrows, and Moonfreaks have in common? They were the curios and relics of General Winter's Secret Museum, the 2008 full length debut by The Tea Club, one of today's most passionate American progressive rock bands. It was my pleasure to hear their mysterious, hugely rewarding follow-up "Rabbit" and to write an early review. [Note: Since I wrote this review, I've learned that The Tea Club line-up has changed. We'll cover the changes in my interview with them, but I've decided to leave this review as written, to honor the people who made this album.]

The Tea Club and producer Tim "Rumblefish" Gilles invested a great deal of heart in this album and their efforts have paid off. It's a piece of work that takes the promise of General Winter and brings it to another level. It feels mysterious, with some slightly dark undercurrent, more ambitious, more complex, a much longer walk down the moonlit trail. This is a "proggier" album than General Winter which had a post-punk energy and was defined as a Crossover album via some very accessible, downright catchy rock hooks. Rabbit does not give up its secrets as easily, the listener here must spend some time immersing themselves into the musical world laid forth. For The Tea Club did not choose a more commercial path here, this is a band dedicated to their own sound and they've stayed true to it.

On Rabbit the substantial talents of brothers Pat and Dan McGowan become even more apparent. They share the guitar and vocal duties but not in the traditional lead guitar/rhythm guitar sense. In fact there isn't much "lead" guitar on the album if your definition is based upon guitar solos. Instead they unite their guitars to paint atmosphere by weaving odd chords, tunings, and notes around each other, and they seem to have a very intuitive musical relationship which compliments the other. The same is true of the vocals. While they trade off lead vocals and both sing with intensity and passion, there is an added layer of magic which comes from their crucial harmonies, the combined sound of the dual guitars and vocals is something to behold and is now certainly a band trademark. With this album Becky Osenenko is now firmly on board and beginning to make her imprint on the Tea studio sound. Her playing is thick and reassuring, a grounding force against the freedom of the McGowan guitar style. And then there is Kyle Minnick, who on the second album has taken a huge leap forward in his playing. Here the drumming is literally propulsive and agile, at times reminding me of the Oceansize or Mars Volta drummers, and if I dare invoke the name there is some Moon-like energy to this guy. Another important note on Rabbit is the addition of guest keyboardist Tom Brislin, an amazingly adept player who has toured with Yes, Camel, The Syn, and Renaissance. His contribution adds some delicious new layers to the cake, from flowing atmospheres to well timed melodic flourishes. These additions push the sound to something richer, but importantly, without ever placing complexity or veils above the raw directness of the humanity here. There is still some punk rock in the Tea Club vein, an insistence that their take on "prog" must not abandon immediacy. You might say this is the second Tea Club trademark.

Together the four are now a complete force capable of pursuing the limits of their compositional imaginations. We should be in for quite a ride, one which is rich and whimsical, ferocious and delicate in equal measure. There are nightmares here being explored, yet my feeling is that the Tea world is one in which beauty and hope prevail over the dark side. It is human emotion examined with complete sincerity, the stories are the work of imagination, yet never does it feel pretentious or fake. The opening of the album is incredible with these wispy guitar notes floating down among keyboards and a big bass/drums build-up to the vocal. When the first rock part pauses and it gets quiet there are lovely piano notes against the frisky bass. Wonderful stuff. Spooky guitars open "Diamondized" with what sounds like spiderwebs, before it softens into a fragile dance of guitar and bass notes, mimicking with sound the rather troubled state described in the lyrics. "The Night I Killed Steve Shelley" is barely contained rumble, slowly and emphatically laying down the cryptic vocal lines until the band finally breaks into almost pure heavy space-jam with lots of sckrunch to the guitar growls. "Royal Oil Can" is the sparsest and most beautiful piece yet, with mainly acoustic finger-picking as the backing for their wintry yet warm harmonies. It plateaus into sunnier sentiments with a proclamation that "the love that you were seeking was worth waiting for." I'll save lyric discussion for my interview with the band, but throughout the lyrics are every bit as fascinating as the musical stories.

"Out of the Oceans" contains perhaps the grooviest, most infectious rock passages harkening back to General Winter's strength, with powerfully reaching vocals near the end. "He is like a Spider" is such impressive interplay between the members, Kyle is literally out of his mind here, tapping into his own dialogue of fills. "Nuclear Density Gauge" offers more heavy, spacey bombast and almost a brisk shuffle beat. Now comes the finale of "Tumbleweeds" and "Astro." An album of beautiful moments gets no more memorable than the vocal of "Tumbleweeds," again set to acoustic guitar and bass, no drums. An amazing lyric and vocal fills the listener with imagery and emotion as successfully as something like "A Pillow of Winds" from Meddle. All previous explorations throughout lead to the epic closer "Astro" which I believe is the first TC studio track over 10 minutes. This is the track where Brislin's keyboards most add serious poignancy to the great songwriting, his gorgeous piano falls in with splashes of melody during certain repeating passages. Becky and Kyle are just unbelievable on "Astro", I love it when any "rhythm section" moves beyond their "duties" into something more lively and conscious. The sideways kick of the "no stories, no glories" bit and the many different sections give this track epic proggy feel. And again the singing is as if their very lives depended on it, especially during those closing exaltations which wrap several tracks. The songs are well written and emotionally gripping which is what really pulls me into The Tea Club. They combine so well the energy and spirit of their youth with a certain world weariness and emotional immediacy, which I think allows their sound wider appeal.

Rabbit is true adventures in other worlds, sonic and otherwise. These are tracks which are earnest and intimate. After many spins the full impact comes through: hidden melodies, endless energies, and great intuitions on where they should go with the pieces. Wonderful usage of the colors of sound. Much of the artwork again comes from the band which I love because it breaks down barriers between artist and listener. The lovely and mysterious cover art was created by Kendra DeSimone ( and shows Rabbit holding court in a moonlit clearing. Surrounding him are the creatures of the wood and while at first glance it appears the moon is casting shadows, you'll note they all cast in unnatural directions toward Rabbit. This is not cookie-cutter prog from either modern or retro shapes, this is prog from the gut and the rustle of leaves. These are songs which blew in on the wind of a winter eve, with the ever present Tea Club moon always overhead. About 4.25 stars if you want to split hairs, and easily on my best of 2010 list. And it ain't even RPI.....what gives?

(Check out our Tea Club interviews in the "Interviews" section of the Forum.)

Review by JLocke
4 stars Two years ago, The Tea Club burst onto the scene with their debut, General Winter's Secret Museum. It was considered a major highlight of that year, and was more or less universally lauded as a truly impressive piece of progressive music. I can remember where I was when I first listened to that album, as well as writing my review of it. I was very different then, and by this point I'd like to think I've matured and grown considerably as a person and as an artist. With Rabbit, their second studio release, I'm happy to report that The Tea Club have taken that maturing journey right along with me.

It is quite difficult for me to fully explain the dark, ethereal beauty this album contains without just giving a play-buy-play account, but I will try to give my impressions of the release in as concise a manner as I can. Firstly . . . it just makes sense. Just like its predecessor, this album fits the time it was made in, and never compromises a thing. Plenty of the elements held within the beautiful packaging are still unconventional and bold in their presentation, but something I feel must be pointed out is that in many ways, Rabbit surpasses what came before. To me, that is more impressive than anything else about this striking release.

The first time around, one of the big draws for me was how strong the opening track was on General Winter. It really made you want to dive in to the rest of the material to follow. With Rabbit, it's much the same. ''Simon Magus'' is the perfect album opener, and I was already able to tell by that track that the band's sound had evolved considerably, in a relatively short amount of time. That got me excited for the remainder of the album. What else would The Tea Club have up their sleeves?

Well, the answer to that is simple: magic. That's what the band had in store for me, although I didn't quite expect to be this floored by the whole thing. From the lovely opening notes of track 1 all the way 'till the record's resounding end, I felt like I had been swept up into a dream-- a dream that could only be concocted by someone with a firm grasp of his art and the proper knowledge to know what to do with it. Clearly, with Dan and Patrick, I was in very capable hands in this regard.

But of course the band is more than just two people. Specifically, let us not overlook just how instrumental Becky Osenenko is to the album's fresh sound. I think without her, the end result wouldn't have been as enjoyable for me. She really adds a lot to the overall feel of the band's music. But as it was the last time around, it is very clear all of these guys have a helluva lot of talent. Bringing more experimentation and more daring song variety into the mix on Rabbit was bold, and it also happened to be the right decision. It blew me away on more than one occasion, and it further solidified the notion I already had brewing that The Tea Club are among the leaders of modern experimental music.

Something that kept coming to mind as I listened to Rabbit was that the grungy heaviness that seemed to play such a huge role in the band's unique sound on the previous album is almost non-existent, here. It's still evident in places, but no longer is it as potent. It is strange how I felt this element was so instrumental in the band's uniqueness previously, since its frequent absence on Rabbit has absolutely no effect whatsoever on my enjoyment of the music itself. In place of the harder-edged energy of , there is an even better-fitting element of reserved, beautiful complexity (lending itself brilliantly to that 'dream-like' quality I eluded to earlier). That isn't to say things don't still rock pretty hard in places, but when things do get hectic, it feels more layered and three-dimentional.

I guess that's a huge part of this entire album: everything feels much more exact and anticipated. A second release for many bands can be even more difficult than the debut, because the anticipation can lead one to question his direction and spend time analyzing his motives much more than he would otherwise. You just want it to be good, and sometimes that means you will improve yourself into failure due to pushing beyond your limits. Thankfully, that didn't happen here. Either these guys are incredibly lucky, or they simply know the right decisions that need to be made artistically and musically. In the case of Rabbit, the right decisions certainly were made.

Lyrics are also a stand-out feature for me, I guess because I find them particularly poetic and left up for interpretation. My favorite lyrics will often capture a mood or an emotional state, but not spoil things by being too specific in subject manner. By and large, this seems to be the case on Rabbit. A brilliant example of what I'm talking about is near the end of the song ''Royal Oil Can'': Heart in hand, The Iron Woodsman clears a path. I'm on my roof, as everything turns white. That's real poetry, kiddies. take notes.

The best tracks on the album for me are ''SImon Magus'', ''Royal Oil Can'', ''Out Of The Oceans'', ''Tumbleweeds'' and finally, ''Astro''. While all songs are great, it is that particular selection of tracks that spoke to me on the most intimate of levels. Getting even more exact, I would say that ''Out Of The Oceans'' is by far my personal favorite. It just seems to be the perfect example of what Rabbit is about. It has a flawless mixture of all the best elements; melody, instrumentation, lyrics, and depth. The Tea Club fellas have grown considerably as songwriters and performers, and I'm just ecstatic over this album. May they continue rocking my socks off for many years to come.

If you don't try out this album, you will be missing out on one of the best works of the year. 4.5 stars, easily.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The promising band of 2008 became a reality in 2010

A few days ago I received a PM from my friend "Dan McGowan" announcing me he was sending a copy of the second "THE TEA CLUB" release called "Rabbit", so immediately went to my archives and checked the review I made for their debut called "General Winter's Secret Museum" because after receiving and reviewing more than 400 albums, is hard to have all them in the memory.

While checking the review remembered how impressed I was with their debut release despite I'm not a fan of this style, so waited with expectation a new visit of the mailman with my copy of "Rabbit", and wasn't disappointed, I believe the band has given several steps forward recording a more mature and daring album, yes it's shocking and extremely dissonant through long passages, but hey...Breaking boundaries and causing a strong reaction in the listener is what Progressive Rock is about, and this guys have achieved this without loosing the sense of melody.

The album starts with "Simon Magus", in reference to "Simon of Gitta" or as most people remember him "Simon the Sorcerer", a well known heretic founder of the Gnostics, very complex concept to start with.

The lyrics are outstanding and the music places the listener in the limbo that separates a saint from a man who was described in the Acts of the Apostles as a sorcerer who bewitched people and served as inspiration for Goethe's Faust.

Complex, dramatic, strong, contradictory, with "Tom Brislin" in the keyboards (Played with Yes in the Magnification tour and the Symphonic DVD) creating an almost sacred atmosphere and the guitars adding a contradictory sound, while the vocals add the drama and passion of the profane, simply delightful.

"Diamonized" starts softer but not less aggressive, the vocals still confusing and sounding like a lament, but at the same time pleasant, combine perfectly with the almost chaotic guitars by the McGowan brothers and the keyboards in the background but the strong drumming by "Kyle Minnick" keeps the coherence, again amazing.

The weird "The Night I Killed Steve Shelley" follows the path of the previous songs, dark, mysterious complex, elaborate and with powerful vocals, this time Brislin adds some really scary sounds with the keyboard tat are complemented by the guitar, I honestly don't know where this guys are taking me, but I enjoy the trip, specially the chaotic final section, that sounds like delicate blend of "RADIOHEAD" and "FANTÔMAS". in other words, they manage to blend depression and complexity with extreme dexterity.

The acoustic and melodic "Royal Oil Can" is a relief after the violence and aggression we heard in the previous tracks, again the subtle atmosphere created by "Brislin" is simply delightful and the vocals are superb.

"Out of the Oceans" begins powerful and violent, but this time like if they were re-visiting their previous album, change the mood into an infectious form of Rock with less mystery but the same strength, good change

If it wasn't for the characteristic vocals and a couple of beautiful dissonances, I would believe "He's Like a Spider" is performed by another band,somehow Jazzy and much more fluid than all the previous tracks, another prove of the versatility of the band.

"Nuclear Density Gauge" is another weird song, it's the most complex and elaborate at this point of the album, the radical changes between calm and frenetic keep the listener interested and hooked, because you never know what's coming next.

"Tumbelweeds" is the track in which the Alternative/Indie influences are more obvious, there are hints of RADIOHEAD, but the sound is much more developed and again dissonant, a good introduction for "Astro", the epic that successfully closes the album with a variety of sounds and influences but the usual mysterious and melancholic at,atmosphere.

After checking all the songs carefully, I must say that I liked "Rabbit" even more than "General Winter's Secret Museum", the sound is more mature and defined, but most important, they are able to shock the audience, something any good Prog band should expect but few achieve, .

Sadly I can't rate Rabbit" with 4.5 stars because the system in Prog Archives doesn't allow this, so will go with 4 solid stars and wait for another release of THE TEA CLUB, one of the best bands of this new century.

Review by Angelo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Unlike the debut album of The Tea Club, I didn't fall for Rabbit immediately. In fact, I postponed writing this review, because I had a hunch this could be one of those albums that take a while to settle in my brain - just like some of the greatest prog albums of all time. And so it happened....

After playing the album on and off for about a month, in between all kinds of prog, but also blues and classic rock tracks that I'm checking out for my cover band, I started to recognise some parts and I started to like the album.

The album contains an interesting mix of heavy, mellow, and sometimes even theatrical (out of the oceans). The Tea Club certainly have grown, and changed since General Winter's. The music is not continuously all over you, there is more time for variability within the scope of one song than there was before, and the compositions have gotten stronger. The guitar, bass and keyboard work are amazing and well balanced, the only down side for me is that I sometimes cannot stand the vocals. It's hard to explain, but, being a singer myself, there are certain things that a voice can do (for example singing at the edge of 'breaking') that I don't appreciate, which Patrick and/or Dan seem to like very much. Still - the music is so enchanting once I get the hang of it, that I can live with that. I'm not going to do a track by track review here, because I listened to the album as a whole only - and didn't take track by track notes. However, I have to add that I like Out of the oceans and Nuclear Density Gauge best, even if the latter is exactly one of those 'breaking voice' tracks.

In summary: As great as General Winter's it is not - it's is better, more mature, and very enjoyable once you get into it. The Tea Club is one of those young bands that will keep prog alive for another few years to come. The only reason I give 4 stars rather than 5 is that I think their magnum opus has yet to be composed.

Thanks to the band for providing a review copy of the album.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What we have here is a band that blends their pop, indie and prog influences into a delicate whole, very subtle, fresh and intriguing. Take that from a reviewer who approaches anything with pop influences with the utmost care.

The first few bands that come to mind for possible comparisons are Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho and Oceansize. All of them bands that have taken the emo-indie-rock of Radiohead and Muse into Prog territory. Together with Oceansize's first album, this Rabbit album seems like one of the most successful of such crossovers.

There's a couple of reasons for that, the band has crafted a very intricate sound, where layers of melodies and rhythms weave an ever changing melodic pattern. The music is direct, emotional and accessible, but also subtle and intelligent enough to keep a few of those layers hidden, and it takes a couple of listens to reveal those. The natural and lively production of the album is brilliant; it's good to see that some people still master that art.

Rabbit is a great example of modern Prog, not earth-shattering but still fresh and with personality, with a certain pop sensibility but without the sentimentalism that often comes with that. Recommended for fans of Radiohead and all Prog bands in their wake.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This one came as real surprise--very cool sound feeling somewhere between OCEANSIZE, RADIOHEAD, BIG BIG TRAIN, MOON SAFARI and even some TOBY DRIVER. The weave of instruments is so well performed that rarely does any one instrument really stand out, yet all are of top caliber. But it is the vocal performances, IMO, that deserve special mention: so diverse, emotional and well-executed. The first three songs are acceptable rockers, but is with "Royal Oil Can" that something extraordinary leaps out at me. As a matter of fact, songs 4 through 11, minus #10, "Tumbleweeds" (beautiful yet lacking something...), are each and all beautiful, often masterful.

"Royal Oil Can" (9/10) is, IMHO, more beautiful than anything by MOON SAFARI--and powerful when the bass and toms enter at the 2:55 mark. The production is so clear and balanced, the songwriting and performance so mature and controlled.

"Out of the Oceans" (8/10) starts with a kind of BILLY JOEL meets OCEANSIZE feel and sound. At 1:50 the pace changes and the vocals get the underwater treatment. The organ that joins at 2:45 is very cool. The OCEANSIZE vibe is definitely strong in this one. The delicate section with almost a cappella vocal beginning at 4:10 mark is stunningly emotional and gorgeous. This is where it really begins to sound like a TOBY DRIVER performance--especially as it builds to the tortured singing after the 6:10 mark. Great song.

"He Is Like a Spider" (8/10) sounds very RADIOHEAD-like. The opening guitar and vocal work is quite ear-catching. The second section of the song kind of gets lost before it reassembles into another gorgeous section with harmonizing vocals resembling MOON SAFARI or BIG BIG TRAIN. Unfortunately, it then disassembles again into a reprise of the awkward second section to close.

"Nuclear Density Guage" (9/10) has a very space/psychedlic beginning--even through the pretty vocals over slow discordant guitar strums. Then, suddenly, it kind of picks up into an energized section sounding much like THE MARS VOLTA. Awesome guitar sounds. I love the unusual (ZAPPA-like?) singing (ranting) that begins 3:45 mark and the chorus that closes it. Strange fade out.

"Astro" (8/10) begins very melodically with all instruments weaving together in gorgeous support so much like BIG BIG TRAIN. A few divergences into pure RADIOHEAD land work well. And the DAVE GREGORY imitation guitar soloing here sounds even better than on "The Underfall Yard." Awesome segue back into vocals at 6:25! Then there is a very delicate "Cinema Show" section beginning at 7:25. Wonderful vocal and drum/cymbal work. Again, remarkable collective weave of instrumental performances to support the vocals.

I look forward to much more from this band. I so enjoy the extraordinarily selfless, 'group' mentality they convey so well (whether intentional or no) in their beautiful songscapes. Well done, TEA CLUB!

Added 10/9/11: I wish to update and upgrade my review of this album for, during the nine months since 2010 ended, this is one of only two albums that I keep going back to over and over the other is BROTHER APE's "A Rare Moment of Insight"), which feels fresh, interesting, and invigorating. The main point is, I keep wanting to come back to it, which, in my mind, means this is a keeper, a classic, a masterpiece. Again, well done, Tea Club! Keep on doin'!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. THE TEA CLUB's second album is another powerful and modern sounding record that the young crowd will love i'm sure. My biggest obstacle are the vocals which while good are of a style that i'm not too into. Still, like the debut I did enjoy listening to this recording this past week.

"Simon Magus" starts off great and I especially like the way it builds. Vocals follow then it settles with piano and reserved vocals 4 minutes in. "Diamonized" is fairly laid back with vocals but there is this powerful undercurrent. "The Night I Killed Steve Shelley" again puts the focus on the vocals and powerful soundscape. There's a haunting calm before 2 minutes but not for long. Kicking ass 6 1/2 minutes in. "Royal Oil Can" is mellow with vocals and picked guitar.

"Out Of The Oceans" has a cool sounding rhythm and check out the emotional vocals 6 1/2 minutes in. "He Is Like A Spider" is excellent and probably my favourite. "Nuclear Density Guage" is relaxed but it does pick up and the tempo and mood will continue to change. "Tumbleweeds" is vocal and acoustic guitar led throughout. "Astro" has guitar and a fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes but the ebbs and flows will continue.

Like the debut this is close to 4 stars but I can't pull the trigger. This one seems more serious and I could picture these guys opening for MUSE and fitting right in.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Go get the Rabbit! It hasn't been an immediate and simple chase. I'm counting now the 10th spin. But. As it goes, as I like, best things aren't comin' easy, and most precious gems aren't revealing immediately. I'm urging everybody seeking for fresh, modern crossover prog music to immediately di ... (read more)

Report this review (#449535) | Posted by ingmin68 | Thursday, May 19, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Warning: This album is dangerous. Chances of losing oneself in a dream, very possible... I am convinced that the McGowan brothers are more than intelligent, emotional, passionate, and creative musicians, but enchanters or sorcerors in their own right, dawning a cosmic besprinkling of notes ... (read more)

Report this review (#303673) | Posted by themortician | Tuesday, October 12, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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