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rogerthat View Drop Down
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    Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:31
This wonderful new band from Boston needs an appreciation thread.  I just recommended them in a watsapp group of music fans and dubbed them as "sort of like Mars Volta with a (better) female vocalist".  That's a quick description but in reality, their sophomore album Shiny Babies is way more eclectic than Mars Volta with violins, saxophone and some very jazzy piano (then again, never heard much TMV beyond the first album).  The similarity begins and ends with the punkish energy and wild, almost moody swings between hard, dissonant sections and soft, melodic ones.  All eyes on the insanely talented vocalist Courtney Swain obviously, but the band overall is incredible.  One of the best things to happen to prog in a long time, though, sadly, they choose not to call themselves that. Tongue

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:32
A warning, though, this is NOT for the faint of heart.  Don't be deceived by Courtney's more melodic moments; the intensity of the music can be almost frightening at times. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:34
Another one and I will stop here as I don't want to go Svetty on this thread:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nogbad_The_Bad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:41
Great band, one of my favorite modern bands, I discovered them a couple of years ago when they supported Mike Keneally at the Middle East. I've seen them twice since including a month ago when they were filming their new album in Jamaica Plain. They never fail to impress. Shiny Eyed Babies was a significant step up from the debut. Their third album will be released on Cuneiform in the next few months, the stuff I heard was excellent. Also check out the guitarist's solo band, The Ben Levin Group, most of Bent Knee are on it.

Edited by Nogbad_The_Bad - January 24 2016 at 09:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:42
Will do, thanks for the heads up! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raff Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:50
Great band, though I believe they will go down like a lead balloon at ROSfest. I was one of the first people to discover them, when they were suggested for Crossover at the end of 2014. Looking forward to their new album! They would have been a great choice (and a much better fit) for ProgDay.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 08:54
Why so (go down at ROSfest)?  Not the right venue for their kind of music, you mean?  Indeed, I came to know of them when they had come up for evaluation at Crossover, one of the first bands I voted on, lol.  But later couldn't find the time to listen intently to their music again.  The female vocalists poll got me interested again.  Bought the digital copy ASAP and now on a second run already, hopefully not the whole thing again.  But it's addictive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raff Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 09:01
ROSfest is geared more towards "melodic" prog, with forays into AOR (this year's Sunday headliners will be Zebra). In the past few years the organizers have tried to inject more diversity, but I know that two years ago MoeTar did not go down very well. NEARfest managed to achieve a fine balance between tradition and cutting-edge, but unfortunately it folded because of the fans' attitude (and other factors as well).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 09:04
Oh dear!  Yeah, in that case, it won't go down well.  More like, assault on melody and all that.  Wink  The way their music is organised - on Shiny Babies at least - is very interesting.  None of the tracks are even longish, let alone long (by prog standards, i.e 12-15 min) and yet the music has a very loose feeling, as if taking its own sweet time.  Also doesn't sound pop-y even though it's very contemporary. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 09:17
Love this band. Shiny Eyed Babies is one of a few rare rock albums this millennium to genuinely sound unique.
It's going to be tough trumping it, but I am still very much looking forward to the new one. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 09:19
Me too!  Though I'd like to get my heart's content of Shiny Babies before that.  Holy mother of God, even Toothsmile is brilliant.  Better stop with this else wifey's gonna get bored (listening on headphones obviously!).  Going from very classic prog-sounding organs to violins to very modern guitar in the space of 3 1/2 minutes.

Edited by rogerthat - January 24 2016 at 09:20
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nogbad_The_Bad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 09:41
Originally posted by Raff Raff wrote:

ROSfest is geared more towards "melodic" prog, with forays into AOR (this year's Sunday headliners will be Zebra). In the past few years the organizers have tried to inject more diversity, but I know that two years ago MoeTar did not go down very well. NEARfest managed to achieve a fine balance between tradition and cutting-edge, but unfortunately it folded because of the fans' attitude (and other factors as well).

I hadn't heard that MoeTar didn't get a great reaction at ROSfest, that's a pity and they are probably the nearest comparison to Bent Knee with their wonky pop style with strong female vocals. I'm wishing them good luck anyway, if nothing else it's good exposure. Having been to three of their gigs I can attest that the Prog Festival crowd is not their primary audience as most of the crowd has been 20's, 30's hipster. I'm sure they are looking for as broad a range of audience as possible. They would go down a storm at ProgDay given the success of bands like Thank You Scientist.

Edit - just checked the 2013 ROSfest Review thread on PE, indeed the split is pretty much 50:50 between those who thought MoeTar were one of the top bands and those who hated them. Needless to say the anti's were the usual symph weenie suspects anti anything not melodic symphonic prog. If Bent Knee get the same 50:50 split they'll have had a great experience and gotten good exposure.


Edited by Nogbad_The_Bad - January 24 2016 at 09:56
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 10:33
Should check out MoeTar too, sounds interesting.  Funny that I like what was once described colourfully by a PA-er as "butter melts in my mouth vicar's wife Annie Haslam" and then this kind of stuff too.  I suppose I don't see it as an either-or, as a dichotomy, but just as the different flavours of music, of life.  Bent Knee has both ends of the spectrum covered within the space of one track and that's amazing.  Kind of what Jeff Buckley was going for but he sounds pretty soft next to Courtney Swain.  And I don't say that lightly; Buckley is the one I'd pick in a heartbeat as my favourite singer of all. OK, there isn't nearly as much flavour in her soft singing as he could muster in just a couple of lines from say Lover You Should Have Come Over but it's early days yet and I am excited to hear what more this talented singer has to offer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 10:55
Originally posted by rogerthat rogerthat wrote:

Me too!  Though I'd like to get my heart's content of Shiny Babies before that.  Holy mother of God, even Toothsmile is brilliant.  Better stop with this else wifey's gonna get bored (listening on headphones obviously!).  Going from very classic prog-sounding organs to violins to very modern guitar in the space of 3 1/2 minutes.


That is indeed this band's greatest feature - aside from the powerhouse vocals - it's ability to shift and turn on a dime, without ever sounding forced or overly ornamental. As an old drumming aficionado I personally can't stop listening to Gavin Walllace-Ailsworth. I just love the way he underlines the vocals and at times you really hear how the two feed off one another making for an astonishing outburst of musical energy.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote verslibre Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 12:00
Originally posted by Raff Raff wrote:

ROSfest is geared more towards "melodic" prog, with forays into AOR (this year's Sunday headliners will be Zebra).
 
Zebra is playing ROSfest? As in Randy Jackson, Felix Hanemann and Guy Gelso? That Zebra?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Raff Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 24 2016 at 13:29
Originally posted by verslibre verslibre wrote:

Originally posted by Raff Raff wrote:

ROSfest is geared more towards "melodic" prog, with forays into AOR (this year's Sunday headliners will be Zebra).
 
Zebra is playing ROSfest? As in Randy Jackson, Felix Hanemann and Guy Gelso? That Zebra?


Yes, that one!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BrufordFreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2016 at 20:36
Originally posted by Guldbamsen Guldbamsen wrote:

Love this band. Shiny Eyed Babies is one of a few rare rock albums this millennium to genuinely sound unique.
It's going to be tough trumping it, but I am still very much looking forward to the new one. 

Agreed! This and albums like maudlin of the Well's Part the Second, Proghma-C's Bar-do Travels, Domina Catrina Lee's Songs from the Breastbone Drum, Gabriel Riccio's Interior City, Five-Storey Ensemble's Not This City and Homunculus Res's two recent albums give me real hope for the future of progressive progressive rock music.

Shiny Eyed Babies is the best album I've heard in the last 25 years!

 


Edited by BrufordFreak - January 28 2016 at 08:30
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BrufordFreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2016 at 20:47
Thanks for the heads up to this thread, rogerthat. I follow the band and its members on Facebook so I do keep up a little with their activities and interests. I, too, am quite excited for their May release on Cunieform. (Though I, too, find myself a bit anxious about having the hurdle of trying to top Shiny Eyed Babies.)

The role of producer/onstage soundboard manipulator Vince Welch intrigues me, reminds me a bit of the impactful role of Pete Sinfield with King Crimson, Brian Eno with many bands (Talking Heads, U2), or Nektar's light man, Mick Brockett. And I love the democratic practice and implicit trust the band members have for one another's contributions and reservations. 

The YouTube video of The Ben Levin Band's Zappa-esque Freak Machine is quite interesting and entertaining--well worth watching . . . all four parts.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BrufordFreak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2016 at 20:49
^ and it's a live concert performance!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 27 2016 at 21:14
Keep 'em coming! Must check out those albums too as well as the Levin performance. Good to hear that it's a democratic band.
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