October Tree: The Fairy's Wing
Few progressive rock bands are formed by a married couple; however, October Tree is an exception to the norm. Headed by Greg and Tammy Lounsberry, the group creates some very colorful, melodic, and fantastical music and imagery on their debut album, The Fairy's Wing. Although some influences stand out easily, their modest approach and refined skills make for a fairly unique sound and an extremely impressive introduction.
The idea for the project came from Greg's desire to give Tammy a platform to perform as lead vocalist. Coincidentally, she immediately knew that she wanted to do a concept album about fairies, and Greg quickly wrote a draft of an allegory. He goes into more detail by saying that "the soul of the album is a trilogy of songs that I wrote based on a couple of melodic themes, called 'Parallels,' 'Mirrors,' and 'Epiphanies.' The first, being the observation by the Minstrel who loved her, the second, Alisyn's reflections, and third, her epiphany." Naturally, reading the printed novelette would help explain the tale, and fortunately, it's been posted on their official site.
The rest of the band consists of Matt Sweitzer, Chris Cobel, John Swope, and the Lounsberry's son, Daniel. Interestingly, Cobel and Sweitzer are also part of Canvas, another indie prog act. Perhaps even more charming than the unassuming music itself is the fact that October Tree is made up of a modest group of family and friends. While so many new groups form to shamelessly emulate others and prosper financially (the latter would easily appeal to the Lounsberry's too, no doubt), October Tree exists as a labor of love and creative harmony. Listening to The Fairy's Wing, one can definitely hear the magic in the makeup.
Chirping birds and Floydian guitar riffs open the title track, which starts the album. Soon, Tammy introduces the narrative with enjoyable melodies as the piano plays warm chords and the percussion keeps everything steady. The psychedelic, fun timbres recall artists like Nektar, Eloy, Echolyn, and Caravan, and Tammy's voice is similar to Geddy Lee's (albeit much gentler and less annoying). As the name suggests, "Dark Carnival" is much more ominous and ghastly, although it's just as hypnotically intriguing.
There's a definite similarity to early Genesis (specifically, Steve Hackett's trademark sound) on "Parallels," and the thick male vocals help give The Fairy's Wing some diversity. "The Ogre" ranks as one of the albums best tracks thanks to its lovely piano chord progression and Canterbury production, and "Into the Glade" is a majestic interlude that leads into the melodically engrossing "Howl." Once again using male vocals, "Mirrors" feels like a fine combination of The Moody Blues and the Allan Parsons Project. Finally, album closer "Epiphanies" features brilliant transitions and impeccable musicianship. It concludes with a burst of energy that helps leave the listener wanting more.
The Fairy's Wing is easily one of the most impressive debuts I've ever heard; the sextet creates and performs with one shared mind, and it's a regal, earthly mind at that. Somehow, the album captures in music form the wonder and enchanted mystery of childhood fairy tales; however, they write, produce, and perform as skilled masters. The future of the genre will indeed be bright with bands like October Tree at the helm, and I for one can't wait to hear what they do next.
1. The Fairy's Wing
2. Dark Carnival
4. The Ogre
5. Into the Glade
8. Mortis Urgan
9. Cult of the White Witch
Added: September 16th 2012
Reviewer: Jordan Blum
Related Link: Band Website
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|October Tree: The Fairy's Wing
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-09-16 21:34:03
So, a concept album about fairies, more specifically about the capturing of a Fairy's wing and the journey that ensues. If that doesn't scream progressive rock I don't know what does. This is the premise behind the new album from October Tree.
The beginnings of the project can be traced all the way back to 1993 and the formation of Canvas by Matt Sweitzer and Chris Cobel. As far as I know a couple of albums were released, the last being Digital Pigeon in 2008. I suppose you could consider October Tree as an offshoot of Canvas Productions. On this album the duo are joined by the husband and wife team of Tammy Lounsberry (vocals, piano) and Greg Lounsberry (guitar, bass, keys).
Getting back to the concept. One might initially believe this to be a cheesy affair but nothing could be further from the truth. This is classy, progressive flavoured rock, very melodic with excellent vocals from Tammy. Her voice sounds a little like Stevie Nicks which perhaps is why the band reminded me of a more progressive leaning Fleetwood Mac.
Highlights include the album opening title track where an intro of bird calls leads to a delicious guitar groove recalling The Wall era Pink Floyd. The synths and keys are very tasteful and not at all in your face. No, this is more of an understated album and a little subtle at times. That is not to say the instruments do not pop out. One only has to listen to the tasty guitar throughout "Dark Carnival" to know that is not the case. As a matter of fact, Greg's guitar work is excellent throughout all ten tracks.
One of the best songs is the album ending "Epiphanies", starting off a little dark with almost doom-like guitar lines before lightening up with excellent vocals and Cobel's pretty piano lines.
With ten strong tracks, The Fairy's Wing is an excellent melodic prog/rock album. Can't wait to hear what the band does next.
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