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MARS HOLLOW

Crossover Prog • United States


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Mars Hollow biography
Mars Hollow are the atypical modern progressive rock band. Based on the classical 70's progressive benchmark, create a great blend of progressive rock music combined with melodic pop.

The origins of MARS HOLLOW can be traced back to 2005. At that point in time Jerry Beller (drums) answered to an ad for "drummer wanted" in a local Los Angeles paper which lead to Beller hooking up with Kerry Chicoine (bass) in a band project called Code Red, a side project led by keyboardist Ryo Okumoto.

When Okumoto called it a day for this venture, Beller decided that he wanted to form a band of his own, and that progressive rock was the style to explore. Chicoine was asked if he was interested and accepted, and shortly after Steve Mauk (keyboards) hooked up with the twosome following an ad in "Music Connection". A "guitarist wanted" ad later the line-up was finalized with the inclusion of John Baker (guitars).

Many sessions of working out material and a few demo tapes later the quartet were signed to US label 10t Records, who released their debut album "Mars Hollow". The album was well received, and when the sophomore album "World in Front of Me" appeared the following year this foursome of music veterans were quickly making a name for themselves, with positive reviews, interest and the occasional festival invitations starting to appear.

Early in 2012 Mars Hollow got invited to perform at a prestigious festival in the United Kingdom. But just weeks prior to the event the band fell apart. Just what transpired in the summer of 2012 will probably remain clouded in a veil of mystery, as there are about as many versions of events as there are band members. The end result was that founding members Beller and Chicoine either quit or were fired, while Mauk and Baker decided to continue the band, employing the services of a new bassist and drummer a couple of months later.

A live album documenting the band's performance at ROSfest 2011 have since been announced, scheduled for release in the fall of 2012.

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Sources:
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Mars Hollow

Mars Hollow official website

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  • Eureka Mars Hollow, 2010
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Mars HollowMars Hollow
10T Records 2010
Audio CD$19.40
$11.90 (used)
World in Front of MeWorld in Front of Me
10T Records 2011
Audio CD$9.38
$9.36 (used)
LiveLive
Fingerwoven Records
Audio CD$23.29
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MARS HOLLOW discography


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MARS HOLLOW top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.62 | 72 ratings
Mars Hollow
2010
3.70 | 71 ratings
World In Front Of Me
2011

MARS HOLLOW Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.70 | 4 ratings
Live
2012

MARS HOLLOW Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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MARS HOLLOW Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 World In Front Of Me by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 71 ratings

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World In Front Of Me
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 really

Mars Hollow from USA and their second offer from 2011 World in front of me created a good blend between prog moments with melodic aprach almost pop arrangements. There are some very nice vocal lines and quite strong melodies and catchy parts, the opening 12 min plus track Walk On Alone is excellent and sets the mood for the entire album. I like that the sound and atmosphere are joyful , the musicinship is great, each one bringing the best they have. I very nice release for me and a pleasent listning from start to finish. Billy Sherwood is also present here with the production. For fans of Spock's Beard and specially those who have a more melodic aproach in their prog sound.

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 Mars Hollow by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.62 | 72 ratings

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Mars Hollow
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Hailing from Los Angeles, US act Mars Hollow was found in 2007 after the meeting of keyboardist Steve Mauk and drummer Jerry Beller through an ad.They were joined by singer/bassist Kerry Chicone and singer/guitarist John Baker soon after, but Kerry would quit for personal reasons to be replaced by Joe August.Initially the band was named Next, August would also leave in May 2008 with Chicone being available to regain the bass duties.After a demo Next would be renamed to Mars Hollow at the fall of 2009, followed by a contract with 10T Records in early 2010.A few months later Mars Hollow's self-titled debut was a fact.

Without breaking any new grounds, Mars Hollow's debut is an album full of Classic Prog nuances as well as modern Prog flavors, always glancing to the past and transforming the sound to the present years.With links to bands like CITIZEN CAIN, CRUCIBLE, DISCIPLINE, BOLUS or PUPPET SHOW, Mars Hollow play an elaborate Progressive Rock with dynamic and rich arrangements, good instrumental parts and expressive vocals.Most of the tracks are quite long with both vintage and contemporary references, like the careful use of GENESIS- influenced organs or the beautiful piano interludes as well as the multi-layered synthesizers and the very modern-sounding vocals.Even some beats of Mellotron appear here and there and the overall sound is basically driven by the work of keyboardist Steve Mauk.But again there are still plenty of nice guitar grooves in a Power Rock style in the vein of RUSH or TILES to make the album even more dynamic.The production of the album is fantastic, delivering an attractive and very fresh sound of a Prog release with equal doses of accesibility and complexity.

Classic Prog vibes transmitted in the modern age is what Mars Hollow's proposal is all about and anyone into balanced Progressive Rock will have the chance to listen to some very good music, albeit not very personal.Recommended.

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 Live by MARS HOLLOW album cover Live, 2012
4.70 | 4 ratings

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Live
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I hate it when I seem to be the last to know what is going on within the prog world. Back when I was running Feedback I seemed to know what was happening most of the time, but that was certainly easier in the early days when everything was by letter or phone. Of course, now we have the world of the internet which allows me in NZ to download an album from America: the only issue I have with all of that is that this Mars Hollow's third release and it is the first time I have come across them! Normally I will play an album for quite a while before I write about it, but I only got this yesterday and here I am writing just because if I don't it will stay on the player for the next month and I won't get anything else reviewed!

Back in 2005 drummer Jerry Beller and bassist Kerry Chicoine worked on a project with Ryo Okumoto (Spock's Beard) and after that ended they decided formed their own band with Steve Mauk (keyboards) and John Baker (lead vocals/guitars). They released their debut in 2010 and followed it up a year later, which is also when they were asked to appear at RosFest where this album was recorded. The band have a different approach to may within the prog scene, imagine Rush with Spock's Beard combining with 'Discipline' era King Crimson and then dropping in some Yes (particularly with the bass sound)and Kansas references here and there. Every musician is a virtuoso, which allows for intricate interplay along with almost Gentle Giant- style harmonies.

I have read one review where it was stated that the reviewer hadn't been this excited about a new prog band since he first heard Spock's Beard, and while I may not go quite that far I certainly can understand the statement. The band had a dramatic line-up change at the beginning of this year with both Beller and Chicoine leaving, but they have been replaced by bassist Joe August and new drummer Bob Craft and these four recorded the bonus studio song 'So Far Away'. Based on this I can't wait to hear the next album.

If like me you hadn't come across this band then you need to go to their website to discover more. The new song is being released as a single, so why not give them a try? www.marshollow.com

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 World In Front Of Me by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 71 ratings

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World In Front Of Me
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by maryes

5 stars Brilliant 2nd studio album from this North-Americam band. In spite of the obivious influences from the master of progressive-rock of the 70's, such as, YES, GENESIS, EL&PALMER, GENTLE GIANT, RUSH and their countrymen from KANSAS, they get put in their music a certain "smell" of modern music and in no moment sounding like a "cheap copy" from the above mentioned musical period. Beside this the disk flows easily and each track awake in the listener a almost frenetic desire to hear the next track. All of themes are very pleasant, since the introducion choir in track 1 " Walk on Alone" passing to the rhythmic section and the "dialogue" between keyboards and eletric guitar in the track 3 "Weapon" (one of the best moments in this album) and the magistral last track "World in front of me" . My rate is 5 stars !!!

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 Mars Hollow by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.62 | 72 ratings

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Mars Hollow
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I picked up this album a while ago, but I've been listening to it quite a bit recently as I want to reacquaint myself with the band's sound before their second album arrives from Amazon. I remember this being touted as one of the standout albums in 2010, and while there is a lot to like here, I don't totally agree with that. While this is a very impressive debut, it's still a debut and I think there are some aspects of this music that could be refined a bit. I don't mean to sound too down; it's still a good album that definitely deserves a listen.

"Wait For Me" begins the album on a frenetic note, starting off with a quirky little instrumental section that's slightly reminiscent of Yes without actually sounding too much like them. As more instruments are layered on and a very nice guitar solo comes in, the similarity to Yes fades and the music begins to take on a more modern edge. This blending of old and new sounds continues throughout the roughly three minute introduction section before vocals make a sudden entrance; so sudden in fact that it's almost jarring. The aforementioned vocals are powerful and melodic, and suit the music very well. The track switches into a slower vein about halfway through, but the great vocal melodies and keyboard work are preserved, and a couple synth solos later the track is over. Overall, "Wait For Me," is a great track that manages to show influences from classic prog bands like Yes, Genesis and Renaissance (the latter whose influence I hear especially in the keyboards), while still sounding thoroughly modern.

"Midnight," one of my favorite tracks on the album, begins with some very cool acoustic guitar work before vocals come in. "Midnight" is definitely one of the catchiest prog songs I can think of, with fantastic instrumental work throughout and a chorus that's guaranteed to get stuck in your head. It's a little more "pop" than "Wait For Me" was, to be sure, but it's still a great track and most prog fans should find plenty to enjoy.

"Eureka" begins with a keyboard-led introduction that I think sounds almost startlingly similar to parts of Triumvirat's "Illusions on a Double Dimple." When vocals enter they're typically excellent, with the range and powerful delivery of the singer continuing to impress me. There's an extended instrumental section in the middle of the track that I think maybe could have been tightened up a bit, but towards the end the track definitely picks up, with a killer guitar solo and a great reprise of the first instrumental motif to close out the track.

"If I Were You" comes next, beginning with another keyboard part. In contrast to the rather crazy part in "Eureka," however, "If I Were You" is markedly more subdued. As a matter of fact, "If I Were You," is one of the more subdued tracks overall, probably falling into the category of prog-ballad, if such a thing can be said to exist. I really enjoy the bass work on this track, though, surprisingly, I'm not a huge fan of the vocals on the track. It sounds a bit over-emotive to me and at times the vibrato is so wide it almost sounds like he's straining his voice. As is probably clear this is not my favorite song on the album, though there is an energetic instrumental section towards the end.

"In Your Hands" begins with a melodic, almost bluesy guitar line before delving into a more typically progressive rock sound, with synth taking the lead for much of the introduction. When vocals come in, it sounds like a different lead vocalist has stepped up. This song, like "Midnight" I think falls comfortably into that sort of pop/prog crossover genre, with catchy vocal melodies and more standard verse/chorus structure aided by complex instrumental parts and a much wider sonic palette than is generally found in straight pop music. I actually think that the songwriting is a bit tighter on these more accessible tracks than on, for example, "Wait For Me," which lacked a bit of cohesion, in my opinion.

"Wild Animal" is another favorite of mine, beginning with a somewhat haunting instrumental motif before what I would consider the best vocals on the album enter. This is a track, like its predecessor, that really proves that progressive rock doesn't have to be mind-bendingly technical or overly obtuse to sound great- "Wild Animal" combines pitch-perfect instrumental texturing with great vocal melodies and an absolute belter of a chorus to create music that's simultaneously powerful, accessible and musically very interesting.

"Dawn of Creation" closes out the album, beginning its 12 minute duration with some very nice ambience followed by a keyboard and guitar part that reminds me a lot of Beardfish. This opening section I think is probably one of the best moments compositionally on the album, and when vocals enter they're melodically excellent as well. Another keyboard section follows, this one also very reminiscent of Triumvirat, and as the track progresses I can also hear influences from Kansas and Renaissance. Again, I feel like there are sections that run just a bit long, but overall "Dawn of Creation" is a great track, maybe the best on the album. If anyone wanted to know how progressive rock could stay true to its influences while also presenting a fresh sound, this is probably the song I'd give to them.

So Mars Hollow's self-titled debut is a pretty solid album, though I do have some problems with it. For all the tracks I really love it seems like there's others that just don't grab me, to the point where I can hardly remember them even if I've just listened. "Midnight," "Wild Animal," and "Dawn of Creation" I would call the standouts, with the rest not doing a ton for me. This album shows a ton of potential though, especially as a debut, and I'm really looking forward to getting the band's second album because I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be great.

3/5

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 Mars Hollow by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.62 | 72 ratings

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Mars Hollow
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Mars Hollow' - Mars Hollow (7/10)

As far as progressive rock goes, there are not many new bands out there that generate more than a seasonal hype. Barring established heavyweights like Porcupine Tree and The Mars Volta, there are few bands who can hope to share the same present-day attention of the classic tier. Although I was aware of hype surrounding Mars Hollow as far back as 2010 when this album was released, they were quick to come out with a second record the year following, and thus kept a steady buzz going. These Californians are seen as a different take on the 'classic' prog rock sound, in the sense that they focus more on melodies and songwriting rather than complexity. Especially at a stage when alot of modern prog rock starts to sound the same after a while, Mars Hollow's slightly different angle makes for a much more memorable experience. Although the signature 70's sound is all over this debut, the impressive performances and clever songwriting make 'Mars Hollow' a memorable experience in its own right.

Although not quite as focused as its formidable successor 'World In Front Of Me', Mars Hollow introduces the band as an upbeat, sometimes melancholic, always melodic ensemble that uses the template of sounds favoured by the classic prog rock acts to furnish their songwriting. Calling Mars Hollow a 'crossover pop' group would not be out of line, but for those who are now running to the hills in fear of the dreaded three chords; there's no need to panic. Mars Hollow are only 'poppy' in the sense that they are not afraid to focus their music around melodies, even catchy choruses. One can think of melodic vocal hooks to be the heart and soul of Mars Hollow, but the body of the music is leased to intelligent arrangements and well-balanced band instrumentation. It is practically a pre-requisite for tradtionally-based prog acts nowadays, but it should be mentioned that Mars Hollow are excellent musicians, but most importantly, they are tasteful while they're at it. As may be expected from a melodic act, Mars Hollow never let the instruments colour outside the lines. Musically speaking, Steve Mach's keyboard work appealed to me the most; he has a diverse range of moods throughout the album, be it through the use of haunting pianos, upbeat synth solos, or crunchy organ flair.

The vocals are arguably the most important part of this music, seeing as they fuel the main attraction; the melodies. John Baker leads the band for the most part, and I have a feeling that his vocals will be the most controversial aspect of this band, even moreso than their blasphemous melodic focus. Setting the record straight; Kerry is an excellent vocalist for the higher male range, with a tone to his voice that is crossbred somewhere between Jon Anderson of Yes, and Geddy Lee of Rush. His delivery rarely steers off course, and- for better and worse- like the instruments, his voice never colours outside the lines either. On that note, that may be the biggest issue I have with 'Mars Hollow'. It's readily evident to me that this is a great album, but what keeps me from calling it excellent is the fact that there a little too much restraint exercised. Although the melodic focus keeps the music from ever being boring, it sometimes feels that Mars Hollow is limiting themselves to a certain number of emotions they are allowing themselves to stir in the listener. Although some of these tracks (such as the intimate 'If I Were You') can get quite melancholic, Mars Hollow does not take me on that course of emotional highs and lows that I crave from music of this style. They would fortunately correct this with their second album by adding a dash of darkness to their sound, which made for a more fulfilling musical experience. Regardless, the debut of Mars Hollow does not disappoint. It does seem single-minded and dedicated to one approach, but at the same time, the path they take is one less walked upon in the world of progressive music. A great start for a band that has thus managed to consistently impress me.

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 World In Front Of Me by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 71 ratings

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World In Front Of Me
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars US band MARS HOLLOW is based in Southern California and made quite a splash when they released their debut album in 2010. One year later they have been booked for and performed at festivals in the US and Mexico, having had a handful or so additional concert opportunities, and have managed to write, record and now release a new album as well. This, their latest, excursion is called "World in Front of Me", and as with their previous CD it was issued by the US label 10t Records.

Strong melodies set within a compositional context harking back to 70's art rock in general and symphonic progressive rock in particular are, I think, a neat summary of what Mars Hollow has to offer, performed with joy, liberally flavored with positive moods and harmonic details. Nothing groundbreaking, but a charming production that should find favor amongst many who tend to look back to the 70's as the golden age of rock music.

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 World In Front Of Me by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 71 ratings

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World In Front Of Me
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars MARS HOLLOW took only one year to release their sophomore album. It features seven songs with a length of 48 minutes. If someone wants to have a clue about stylistical similarities, I would name Presto Ballet, IZZ or Kansas, but please don't take this too seriously. They sound rather unique, to make it clear. Musicianship is great overall, especially bass player Kerry Chicoine and guitarist John Baker who are excellent vocalists on top of it. Keyboardist Steve Mauk acts a bit restrained, others will say not overpowering. Jerry Beller's drums and the bass guitar fairly complement each other and care for the necessary drive.

So the band play very compact and lively. There's some room for (short) instrumental solo excursions either. That said both guitarists have their special moments on the excellent epic Walk On Alone which lyrically seems to reflect some relationship problems. Voices convinces me with its special sense of melody and a strong symphonic appeal. 'Weapon in my hand' ... the following song showcases a catchy refrain, evidently dedicated to appeal to a regular rock music fan with hit potential? No, I won't say that this ever was their intention because this is combined with a tricky structure to something entertaining moreover.

World In Front Of Me is the second to cross the ten minute mark, again provided with a catchy refrain. Overall this comes close to the Flower Kings somehow, keyboards are prominant, great dynamics, some groovy parts - a nice workout. This album has become shorter as the debut, in any case a proper effort from this US quartet, as for the initial three songs and the title track substantial really. Symphonic and AOR elements are nicely put together in order to reach for highly melodic songs. Billy Sherwood has a finger in the pie here when it comes to the production - 3.5 stars

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 World In Front Of Me by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.70 | 71 ratings

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World In Front Of Me
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Judging from all the positive reviews i've seen across the net for this album I might be the only one to give this a 3 star review on this site. But hey that's fine by me, these guys deserve all this positive feedback. I was really bowled over by their debut (4.5 stars) and I must admit my expectations were high for this one, especially with so many people saying this was even better. I guess this just proves there no accounting for taste. Billy Sherwood is the producer this time around. I wish I could explain what it is specifically that makes this a 3 star record for me. I like it but it's just not clicking at all like the debut and i've listened to this one plenty of times.Go figure ?

"Walk On Alone" is quite the opener that for me gets off on the wrong foot with the acapella singing.That changes quickly though as it kicks in with the drums and keys standing out.The chunky bass is prominant before 1 1/2 minutes. It settles back as the vocals arrive. Some brief processed vocals after 8 1/2 minutes as it stays relaxed sounding.The instrumental section that follows is more powerful, then the vocals return after 10 minutes. Bass and organ standout late.

"Voices" settles quickly with vocals but it picks up again. An uptempo instrumental section comes in at 2 1/2 minutes with organ. I like the synths and drums 5 minutes in.

"Weapon" has a good intro then we get a calm with vocals. It picks back up and the organ comes in.Vocals are back 5 minutes in. "What Have I Done" has some nice sounding bass in this relaxed intro. Reserved vocals just before a minute. It picks up then settles back as contrasts continue. A good synth led instrumental passage ends it.

"Mind Over Matter" features vocals and a laid back guitar melody. Melancholic synths replace the vocals after 1 1/2 minutes. "Prelude" is another short track but this one has piano throughout.

"World In Front Of Me" has some good guitar before 2 1/2 minutes then the vocals follow.The bass is again prominant and we even get some vocal melodies at one point. Piano before 6 1/2 minutes then it builds. Guitar leads after 10 minutes.

I wish I could be more enthusiastic but at least their debut will always have a place in my rotation.

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 Mars Hollow by MARS HOLLOW album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.62 | 72 ratings

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Mars Hollow
Mars Hollow Crossover Prog

Review by lor68
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Well, I'm not surprised about the debut new album of this intelligent line-up of veterans, with its leader Mr John Bakers (his vocalism is very interesting, being also supported by his guitar, which is well fitted into this project) and other three expert musicians, always conscious of their role; while Steve Mauk is able to re-create the atmosphere of the seventies, regarding in particular the melodic compositions by R. Wakeman and K. Emerson: anyway, even though I can't get crazy for the "Genesian" mood a-la "Trick of the Tail", here revisited and corrected, within an easier structure in comparison to the master work of the late seventies (I mean, it's more like some tunes by "Big Big Train" , a band that I don't love too much), after all I'm not disappointed...As a matter of fact it's not a derivative album, but their strong references are clearly present here (think of the track "Eureka", in the vein of the early Yes) and the variety of the themes, giving the songs all the necessary dynamics, make this work worth to be checked out! Engineered by by King Crimson associate Ronan Chris Murphy, the sound is clear and the mixing not bad as well, so such features are important in the "economy" of the band!

In fact the whole project Is not so modern, consisting of a couple of albums, but their cleverness and also the good arrangements inside, let me think of this "Mars Hollow" like an almost essential product, even though of course it's not a masterwork!!

Interesting music effort after all, where in some circumstances you could add an half star to my evaluation, in order to recognize the good job of the musicians!!

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