Cherry Red 2015
Canadian trio deliver on their international promise and impressively mix current affairs with affairs of the heart.
Having come to prominence with their cover of a PINK FLOYD classic whose refrain ran, “Hey Ayatollah, Leave Those Kids Alone!” – Iranian issue makes brothers Osley’s Persian blood boil – this band set their stakes high among the prog fraternity. Five years on, global disposition hasn’t changed much, but there’s a turn in the ensemble’s style that embraced pop-rock for wider accessibility of their cause, even though the trio’s debut was produced by Terry Brown of RUSH fame. So while political agenda is still on the collective’s mind, it’s given a sweet coating which, actually, lodges the uneasy subject matter into listener’s lobes much more effectively than heavy propaganda.
Thus, “No More War” opens the proceedings with a punchy mantra where Sohl Osley’s bass propels his sibling Sepp’s wah-wah jive into a light chorus whence optimism chases away Ben Riley’s pounding, before belligerent brass starts its spiritual soaring to bring a hymnal choir for a coda. Such an anthemic approach marks the Lennon-referencing flow of “Dear John” – a charity-aimed single – but the Eastern urgency of “The Keeper” trades serenity for a tight anxiety passing it to the title track’s warning and another “no more” plea. Still, the ways-of-the-world concept doesn’t prevail here.
The organ-oiled “Rollin’ On” offers a darker view of a bluesy hue on a personal level, but there’s also a twisted proposition to “compromise your soul – it’s only rock ‘n’ roll” and the piece’s predatory pace spills into “Long May You Run,” its psych undercurrent leading to a vocal harmonies-filled, hopeful lullaby. Shattering the calm, a sharp riff of “Promise” reveals the group’s real edge and their irresistible pull which informs the funk groove of “Wherever You Are” just after “All I Wanted” has taken ’60s innocence to a dancefloor for a cosmic communal celebration. So there’s nothing blurry about this record; here’s a clear-eyed wonder on display.