White Knight Records [Release date: 14.03.17]
Back in the day there was a TV comedy series called ‘Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width’ and it’s a maxim that applies to so much of what passes for progressive rock these days.
Many newish prog bands fall into the elephant trap of thinking ‘we’re prog, therefore the album has to be 70+ minutes long – and bugger the quality control’.
And C-Sides have fallen right in.
Given their lineage I was expecting great things from ‘We Are Now’ – both guitarist Martin Rosser and drummer Allen Mason-Jones had served time in that well-known academy of prog that is Rob Reed’s excellent Magenta.
Unfortunately the band have come up short of expectations – which is a great shame as it is patently obvious that they can play, Rosser in particular showing some deft touches around the fretboard.
But the whole thing is (a) 25 minutes too long as a result of endlessly repeated riffs and refrains, (b) much of it is quite clichéed making the whole thing sound a bit ‘Prog by numbers’, (c) there’s too much use of distorted vocals and (d) THE most annoying clicking sound from the drums.
Now I’m not a drummer so I don’t know what causes this, but I’ve noticed it on a few recent releases where whenever the kick drum is hit a strange clicking sound ensues making the listener think he’s got death-watch beetle in the speakers. Surely this can be filtered out by sound engineers?
Supposedly taking their lead from ‘90125’ era Yes (not that band’s finest hour), Gentle Giant and Rush, six of the nine tracks here clock in at over eight minutes as if, in some way, to nail the band’s prog credentials to the mast – but it’s all just too much.
On the plus side, there are quite a few nice touches – the cascading guitar of opener ‘Out Of The Water’, the acoustic and electric guitar of ‘Black Road River’, the click-free (and rather fine) drumming on ‘Rock And A Hard Place’ and the Rush-like riff of standout ‘Deck Chair City’.
If the band can build on these and perhaps pull in a bit of quality control (a call to Rob Reed, maybe?) there’s obviously enough talent here to make a go of it.
As it stands, disappointing. **
Review by Alan Jones
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, second Sunday of the month at 18:00. Expect some prog.
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