The Twenty Committee – A Lifeblood Psalm (2013)

TwentyCommittee_LifebloodPsalm4 out of 5 Stars!

From New Jersey, The Twenty Committee’s debut (and thus far, only) album is a collection of highly melodic and well-produced tracks of diverse modern Prog-Rock.

Some songs (or sections of tunes) such as the track “How Wonderful,” are delightfully smooth and laid-back, yet quite jazzy at times, especially when the grand or electric pianos take the center stage and allow singer Geoffrey Langley’s mellow voice to dominate. Indeed, during these segments—which somehow remind me of Bruce Hornsby’s most beautiful piano-rich material—it would also hardly seem out of place to have Gerry Rafferty “Baker Street-like” sax making an appearance.

On the lengthier, more complex tracks, however, such as “Her Voice” and the five-part “The Knowledge Enterprise,” Neo-Prog and Symphonic Prog styles really burst to the fore, not dissimilar to groups such as Unitopia, Transatlantic, or United Progressive Fraternity.

So, as I mentioned, this collection of songs is wonderfully diverse and a seemingly perfect mixture of light and heavy moments, of both jazzy and poppy dreaminess liberally interspersed with a treasure trove of Prog-Rock madness. Impressive! After experiencing A Lifeblood Psalm, I certainly hope this won’t be the last we see of this talented group.

 

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Salem Hill – The Robbery of Murder (1998)

SalemHill_RobberyMurder4 out of 5 Stars!

This Prog-Rock group from Nashville, Tennessee (of all places) has released a slew of enjoyable albums since the early ’90s, and The Robbery of Murder (a concept album from 1998 about a troubled man seeking justice for his father’s death by a drunk driver, and the band’s fourth collection overall) is the one that first caught my attention and formally introduced me to the group.

To me, on mellifluous yet emotionally impactful tunes such as “Father and Son,” “When,” “Dream,” “Revenge,” “Someday,” and “Evil One,” Salem Hill plays within the same realm as Symphonic Prog acts such as Kansas, Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, The Flower Kings, and offshoots of those various bands. The dozen tracks contain charming atmospheres and complex melodies, all with lush and sophisticated accompaniment, and a nice balance of both bouncy and upbeat rhythms versus moody, stark, and highly dramatic moments.

Also note, on this particular album, the Kansas comparisons are in even greater abundance, thanks to the violin contributions by guest star David Ragsdale, who appears on numerous tracks.

Overall, Salem Hill is yet another talented band that truly deserves greater acclaim within the Prog-Rock community, and this ambitious concept album proves why.

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