Yes, Virginia, there is good neo progressive rock. Early Marillion was an excellent example – and now, so is Strangefish.
Full Scale has all the elements of good neo: The standard rock lineup, lots of keys to give it texture, excellent guitar work, clearly enunciated mid-range vocals, intelligent song structures, and all the tempo changes and key changes and multi-layered instrumentation that define progressive music. And more than a tip of the hat to early Genesis. And if that doesn't convince you, perhaps this will: Strangefish was voted Best New Band of 2003 by the UK's Classic Rock Society The received top honors in three categories: Best New Band, Best Male Vocalist and Best Drummer. They came second in many other categories. In fact the only area they didn't achieve honor was Best Female Vocalist – and that's only because they don't have one!
This certainly doesn't sound like a debut album. It is tight, the music is complex but played with the comfortable ease of deep experience And perhaps the "new band" category is a bit of a stretch. You see Full Scale is the band's debut album, but they've been playing together for no less than fourteen years – and that depth shows.
Songwriting is one of Strangefish's strengths, along with excellent musicianship. Each song has its own very distinct character and you won't be bored. The vocals are full of emotion and expression in the mold of an early Gabriel or Hammill – the best example being the eclectic, Genesis- esque "Touch Sensitive" – which is surely the standout track.. The lyrics seem to be intelligent and are peppered with snippets of Brit wit. It was hard to tell for sure because the promotional copy we received was a hand-labeled CD-R and a half-page bio, with no cover art, and no lyrics.
So Full Scale is very good neo prog, but more important, you just might find yourself playing it again and again.
Track Listing :
- Shifting Sands And Turning Tides (10:08)
- Oceans Deep (11:19)
- Listening To Ghosts (7:46)
- Take A Holiday (4:39)
- At First Sight (11:38)
- Touch Sensitive (7:12)
- Wallflower (5:29)
- Simple Life (9:05)