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The Tea Club - General Winter's Secret Museum CD (album) cover

GENERAL WINTER'S SECRET MUSEUM

The Tea Club

 

Crossover Prog

3.77 | 45 ratings

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Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Some months ago I received a collection of demos from this good USA band with a suggestion for Symphonic, as usual we deal with what we have and had to reject the band not because of the quality, but because they are not Symphonic, there's too much happening in THE TEA CLUB to limit them into a narrow genre, so after some time, they found a home in Crossover Prog which is a wider sub-genre.

A couple of weeks ago I received a request of the band to review their debut album General Winter's Secret Museum, I told the band it's a risk because I always say my truth and if I don't like the music I tend to be too crude (to be sincere the samples hadn't impressed me too much), so yesterday I received my autographed copy of the album and I'm glad to say there's nothing to fear, the album is really strong, more than I expected, to the point that I believe they should be in Eclectic or Heavy Prog because I don't find the mainstream connection that justifies Crossover.

As most USA bands from this new century, THE TEA CLUB presents a very elaborate and complex combination of Progressive Rock styles and different atmospheres, they master the dissonances with unusual dexterity for a young band making their debut.

Normally as a Symphonic fan I analyze the keyboards which are among my favorite instruments, but in this case the combined work of guitar and bass is simply breathtaking, this guys don't hide anything or leave the best for the end, they attack the listener with all they have during all the album, which IMO is an unusual demonstration of confidence in what they are doing, the band is good, they know it and exploit it but without arrogance, as the people who know what they want and go for it.

The album is opened with Werewolf, which after a short guitar intro leads to a vocal passage where the vocalist attacks with ferocity but strangely for this era where technology replaces ability to sing, the vocals are very good.

The changes are very dramatic, from almost metal sections to soft passages where a melody calms the mood, great track that somehow reminds me of King Crimson with a touch of Mike Oldfield.

Cool Smack is different to the opener, the band hits the audience from the first note, again the dissonance between instruments and vocals is a prove that we are before a group of very skilled musicians, the vocals blend with the rest of the instruments to create a solid sound, very elaborate track.

Big Al starts simpler and closer to Classic Rock with an outstanding vocal and guitar work, but the dramatic changes don't let us forget we are before a Prog band and a very good one. As the song advances the music goes in crescendo but they manage not to explode in a sole sonic wall, they have several short bursts of strength, great drumming.

Castle Builder begins as a power ballad with a very oneiric atmosphere, flows soft and gently, but after a few seconds you notice they again go in crescendo like announcing a spectacular explosion that never happens, another strong song.

Purple Chukz is a strange combination of a solid melody with a dissonant sound, like if they were getting closer to Post Rock, being that it's far too elaborate to be Classic Rock, again the guitar work is fantastic

The Clincher begins in the purest KING CRIMSON style with controlled cacophony over a basic melody, the band starts to wander in some sort of Space Punk, until the vocals place their feet in the ground, frantic from start to end, love that distorted guitar that reminds me of Lark's Tongues in Aspic.

Will O' The Wisp is a relieving track, despite the elaborate arrangements and complex passages that reminds me a bit of THE BEATLES, probably this is the reason of their inclusion in Crossover, but hey, after a few seconds of calm, the complexity returns, even when the melody remains intact, the guitar produces an incredibly elaborate effect, again with a touch of KING CRIMSON and believe it or not, Flamenco style.

The Moon starts as the simplest song, but the excellent vocal work and apparently a keyboard takes us to a different dimension, dreamy, but intense enough to grab the attention of the audience specially in the strongest sections.

In Ice Clock THE TEA CLUB changes their sound to an Alternative style somehow reminiscent of RADIOHEAD but with much more complexity, a strong closer for a strong album.

I very rarely give 5 starts to a debut album, specially when I believe they have more to give, and this will be no exception, 4 stars and will be waiting with impatience for their next release.

Strongly recommended for fans of good and aggressive Prog with elaborate melodies and high level of complexity.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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