I don’t know what I was expecting from a band called Dizzybloom formed in Austin, Texas in 1995. But what it wasn’t, was a British sounding female fronted melodic post-prog band vying for the space occupied, in the UK at least, by the likes of Mostly Autumn. So in a sense, it’s easy to see why they’ve struggled on home soil – even to the extent of getting a record deal.
Formed with a core of guitarist/bassist Billy R. Preston, keyboardist Juliet Gamero and vocalist Stacey Evans, and with guitarist Steven Oakes joining later, they released an eponymous debut in 1997 but American audiences simply didn’t ‘get’ it and the band called it a day shortly thereafter, a ‘thumbs down’ from Elektra Records being the final nail in the coffin.
Fast-forward to 2009 and Preston and Oates hooked up again via social media, Gamero was brought back on board on piano and Hammond B3, Wiley Koepp sat in on drums and on the recommendations of producer Mark Hallman; Ashley Glover was recruited on vocals. The result was Heroes For Ghosts, a superb 5 track EP/mini-album including a delightful re-working of ‘Dream On’ from Aerosmith’s eponymous 1973 debut album.
And a quite magnificent example of female fronted post-prog rock it is too. Running out at 36 minutes and closing with the 11 minute Floydian ‘Power And Light’, there’s sublime female vocals throughout and, in the supremely melodic guitar and keyboard work, hints of the more restrained moments of many ‘classic’ British acts such as Floyd, Zeppelin, Genesis and Yes.
It’s a genre that’s also struggled to take a mainstream foothold in the UK music psyche, but one where there’s a cult following of bands and a seemingly never-ending merry-go-round of players that at one time or another have been associated with acts like Karnataka and Mostly Autumn. But it’s a genre where the quality controls are almost universally high. *****
Now with a promotional and publicity deal with Two Side Moon Promotions in the UK, Heroes and the band’s latest offering Oceans are getting a push on this side of the pond. Oceans is, itself, something of a ‘then and now’ summation of Dizzybloom. With four songs remixed and remastered from their debut, and five new recordings featuring current vocalist, The Voice contestant Amy Whitcomb.
If anything it bookends Heroes with a slightly more mainstream, almost Mac-esque soft rock sound – the decade plus gap between the marvellous lead single ‘Oceans’ and the dreamily infectious ‘Sunflowers’ featuring original vocalist Stacey Evans being hard to spot.
Elsewhere, the new material finds the band trying a variety of styles from the Latin, flamenco tinged ‘Dolores’ (think Vaya Con Dios), a respectable cover of The Who’s ‘See Me, Feel Me’, an ambient instrumental (‘Birds Of Baikal’) and an acoustic version of the Heroes track ‘Lost Memories’. ****
For those with a soft spot for the likes of Mostly Autumn, and those who lament the passing of Breathing Space, Heroes For Ghosts comes highly recommended, and the marginally more mainstream Oceans runs it a close second.
Review by Pete Whalley
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 30 August 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 8 September 2020.
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