This month, Luke and I decided to offer a double feature of albums that deserve your time, but don’t evoke all that many words for us. Both are prog rock and both artists are quite talented. Take a look at Face The Day and Tiger Moth Tales.
Face The Day is comprised of multi-instrumentalist Martin Schuster and drummer Filip Kittnar, and based out of the capital of the Czech Republic. Therefore, it’s not only prog rock, but also Prague rock. Schuster is a talented musician and songwriter whose stock in trade is his ability to write a hook, and Face The Day’s new album Stuck In The Present has exceeded my expectations.
I’m not going to do a full track-by-track, but I do want to highlight some of the tracks. The first track, “Stuck In Verona,” is an intro track. It unfortunately doesn’t serve the album at all. In my opinion, the first song of an album should grab the listener, making him want to listen to the rest of the record. “Stuck In Verona” doesn’t do the trick. The first real song, “The Remainer,” is written over an awesome bass riff and features a really nice guitar solo. It also includes some harsh vocals, the only growling on the album, which is very unexpected. This track would have made a really nice opener, but I digress. “Sympathy To Sin” includes a lot of guitar harmonics, which I like. It’s also Kettnar’s best performance on the album and has a very catchy chorus. “Elevator To The Sky” is probably my favorite song on the album. It has a really great riff and good use of the synthesizer.
I do have a couple complaints. I do not like Schuster’s voice. It has kind of an odd timbre and he uses a lot of falsetto. This is a very subjective complaint, of course; many of people like odd timbre and falsetto and I don’t have an objective problem with it. But it’s not my thing. My other problem is that a few of the songs overstay their welcome. Face The Day probably could’ve made the album about ten minutes shorter. But like I said; the songs, for the most part, are good, and the riffs are really well-written. If you like atmospheric Prague rock with good hooks and lots of acoustic guitar, look no further than Face The Day.
Tiger Moth Tales is a solo project from contemporary Camel frontman Pete Jones. Aside from his smooth-as-butter voice, he plays keyboards and saxophone. “Story Tellers, Part 2” is his follow up to last year’s “The Depths of Winter”, and it continues the nostalgic storytelling and serene atmosphere of that record.
The musical style here is progressive rock, though it is rather simple and completely unadulterated, as it shies away from too much technicality. The album is more about warm keyboard tunes, nursery rhymes, and especially about Pete’s flawless voice than about impressing anyone. Yes, sometimes the music and lyrics can come across as a sappy tower of cheese, but there is sincerity here that is spellbinding in some ways.
“Story Tellers, Part 2” is an album of rich melodies, old-fashioned sounds, and English sensibilities. Some of it sounds like the soft rock love ballads from the 80s and early 90s, and somehow I’m okay with that. There’s even an ode to Winnie the Pooh on “Hundred Acre Wood”, as well as to the three little pigs, the snow queen, and the boy who cried wolf. Yes, this album is about as family-friendly and wholesome as you are bound to find in modern times.
The album is often really good, like with the darker “Kai’s Journey”, the soft rock “Eternity”, or the solemn awesomeness of “The Palace”. But then, sometimes, you get songs like “Three Little Pigs” that will make you want to upchuck your dinner. “Hundred Acre Wood” almost crosses that line of cheese, but not quite, while other songs like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” roar past it with no regard for self-editing. It seems like I rather love the songs based on The Snow Queen, almost to the point that I wish Pete had written an entire concept album based on that sound and story.
So, yes, this Tiger Moth Tales album is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed some songs, and I greatly admire the range and tone of Pete’s vocals. Some of the writing, though, just isn’t for me. Take that as you will.
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