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Cheeto's Magazine - Amazingous CD (album) cover

AMAZINGOUS

Cheeto's Magazine

 

Crossover Prog

3.90 | 117 ratings

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TCat
5 stars Cheeto's Magazine is a crossover prog band from Barcelona, Spain. The band typically puts on a colorful front in their shows with a bit of humor and cartoon-ish vibes. Originally, the band was a duo putting on shows with Esteban Navarro doing hijinx and vocals, keyboards and Manel Orella on guitar. To build a proper band, they later added Matia Lizana on keyboards, Alex Marques on bass and Gerard Sala on drums. But except for an EP, they never released a full album until 2014, and one other in 2017.

Early in 2019, they released their 3rd full studio album called "Amazingous". It was released on vinyl as 2 LP's, one red and one blue; on CD; and also through streaming or download on Bandcamp. Crossover Prog covers a wide variety of styles which this music does, but overall the style sounds to me like a combination of symphonic prog and eclectic prog. It sounds like if "Styx" and "Queen" got together and had a baby, this is the kind of music they would play at the birthday party.

Starting off with "Chili Guillermo", we instantly get the bright tones of keyboards and guitars and a latin rock vibe. The music is definitely progressive and quite cheerful. You get swept up instantly in the sound, making one think they are in Willy Wonka's Progressive Rock Factory. The music is as colorful as the album cover. When the vocals come in, they are a humorous operatic style, a bit over the top, but this changes to more normal vocals as it goes, and the vocals are very good, matching the mood of the rousing and exciting music. It is both fun and seriously progressive in a perfect mix.

"Cheese Cheater" continues that bright and cheery progressive vibe with keyboards establishing a happy melody. Vocals switch back and forth like a conversation with the normal and goofy vocals. This music just makes you feel good as it is very upbeat. The moods and styles change, as you would expect of this type of music, but the themes recur often so it is very cohesive. Don't worry, you also get a rocking guitar solo in here too, it's all there.

"Outflow" begins with a huge variety of synth and keyboard music changing from one sound to another quickly, including piano that anchors it all. After a happy "Styx"-like beginning, an acoustic guitar comes in retaining the beat through strumming. Again, both styles of vocals occur. Humorous vocals come in later with a latin mariachi style sound as brass instruments come in for a short time. The rhythm is definitely complex as it goes on, but you still feel like dancing to it anyway because it just makes you happy. Things finally mellow towards the middle of the track with a slower vocal passage, almost becoming a ballad of sorts. A lovely piano passage comes in and soon the band builds off of this letting the synths speed up the piano theme until things return to as before. It all ends with an excellent climax of synths.

The first three tracks hang around the 7 minute mark while the next three are around 5 minutes more or less. "Ready to Rumble" is one of those glam rock songs that wants to be a stadium rocker. It succeeds. I could see a lot of people jumping up and down and pumping fists to this one. It still retains enough progressiveness to keep it interesting, but is more interested in getting the crowd involved. It's still a lot of fun and another flat out rocking guitar solo will keep you going. "Close Your Eyes" starts as a lovely ballad, but interesting enough to not be called standard, it later moves to a fast beat with the latin flair showing up in the instrumentation. Later it moves to a stately tone as it moves back to a more serious sound, wrapping itself up in the same feel as it started, but in a more climactic way. The track is more commercial, but it is still pretty good. "Scum" is mostly instrumental, and it has a darker vibe to it as it begins, but the synths can't help but make it all sunny sounding as they come in. The guitar kicks in more heavily along with an organ later. After awhile, you are left with vocal field recordings and a sneaky bass line. Suddenly things get very heavy with a throbbing guitar riff, but again synths come in to save the day. "A.W.K.W.A.R.D." is a tricky little track at about 4 minutes. It sounds like power pop, but a bit more complex. Again, there is that Styx attitude, but Styx at its best. Remember how much you liked "The Grand Illusion"? Well, if Styx had stayed with that style, this is how they would have sounded. Except the lyrics are goofy.

For many bands, this would have been enough as you already have a 5 star album. But, Cheeto's Magazine had to go one big step further. "Big Boy" is the last track, and it has a run time of over 25 minutes. It starts with a lot of keyboard flourishes and guitar heaviness. It suddenly gets cut off, has a few glitches and then builds up quickly again to a stately section before returning to the beginning section and then vocals come in. At 5 minutes, things go minimal with a tinkling piano and a soft synth, then a new theme comes in with the vocals. "Starcastle" style guitar and synth come in and things brighten up again. Vocal riffs make this section infectious, and positive lyrics and instrumentals also make it somewhat uplifting. At ten minutes, the track takes a dark left turn and that is reflected in both lyrics and music. At thirteen minutes, there is an excellent progressive instrumental section which hangs on the heavy side a bit and meters and moods fight against each other. This is amazing-ous! Suddenly, it all stops except for a beautiful piano and vocal section. At the end of this section, there is a spoken vocal recording as things start to build again a step at a time and sung vocals become more and more intense along with the music. Then there are some really cool vocal and instrumental effects as it builds with a solid guitar riff and keyboard solo. Complexity returns with a new theme in both vocals and instrumental sections.

I am completely blown away with this album. It looked interesting from the start with the tracklist and the album cover alone, but it is everything I expected plus much more. I stand by my claim that this is how Styx should have sounded if they continued being more progressive after "The Grand Illusion". But then add in more quirkiness, both funny and serious vocals, a degree of playfulness and lots of complex music and you've got it.

Folks, what we have here is another contender for best album, and so far, it is definitely the best for February 2019. Very highly recommended, and the last epic track is worth it alone, but most of the rest of the album is just as good. This is a must hear album!

TCat | 5/5 |

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