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Raptor Trail; The: New World

A few of my music loving friends who still (thankfully) spend their own hard earned cash on CDs, downloads and the likes, often ask me, isn't it a chore wadding through a pile of CDs for review purposes by bands I haven't necessarily chosen to listen to for pleasure? Now I can't tell a lie, during my time at SoT I've encountered some real clunkers, however they've been far outweighed by the good to excellent acts I've discovered along the way. Falling squarely into that latter category, I'm pleased to say, come Brevard, NC outfit The Raptor Trail, with their second album, New World. A three piece comprising Gene Bass on drums (yes I know that sounds like part of the 'Whose on first sketch…'), Matt Mayes on guitars and fingered slide guijos (more of which later) and Johnny Meyer on all manner of guitars and vocals, TRT may be short on band members, but they sure as hell ain't short on influences. Billed as melodic prog, I can't quite escape the feeling that the only reason that tag is being used is because there isn't a neat little genre bag to drop this band into. For some outfits that ensures a quagmire of hotchpotched ideas all squodged together and presented as something new – which isn't. On New World, The Raptor Trail simply get on with making good music and, unusually, don't seem all that interested in how we might categorise it.

Across this album everything from country to Americana, dreamy UK pop to prog, hard rock to riff fuelled aggression comes tumbling forth. However what binds it all together is an innate sense of melody and a sublime line in arrangements and top notch performances, whether they be pinpoint but heartfelt vocals, stinging but impassioned guitars, or locked down tight, yet still deep in the groove, rhythms and beats. As I type, "Stone By Stone" is spinning, so let's start there, the compelling vocals bringing to mind Cosmic Rough Riders, as the driving beat is wonderfully smoothed by chiming guitars. However play CD roulette with this album and no matter where the ball lands, it's jackpot time, "Let It Go" an atmospheric slice of ambience, "Whoville" a less opinionated R.E.M. - although it still has a huge amount to say.

"Four Times" introduces the album in full force style, bass romping along, guitars cranked to a roar, however it is the guijos that brings a new element here. The instrument is a Strat body with a banjo neck (unusual for starts), but here Mayes plays it tube-slide style, bringing a genuinely new sound and idea to the mix. To be fair it's a subtle thing, but New World is full of them and sounds amazingly familiar and yet somehow different because of it. There's more to discover, lots more in fact, the dazzling Tom Petty-ish "Time Slides Onwards" that somehow sounds nothing like Tom Petty… while "Desolation" has a brooding melancholic melody any song with that title deserves.

I doubt I'd have stumbled across the music of The Raptor Trail if I wasn't in the fortunate position of being sent it for review on SoT. I'm glad I was, because put simply, this is a little fire cracker of an album that also proves to be crafted and subtle. Few bands can bring all those aspects together, but for New World, The Raptor Trail have done so with ease. The results are superb.

Track Listing
1. Four Times
2. Whoville
3. Going To Dublin
4. Stone By Stone
5. Let It Go
6. The Fall
7. New World
8. Time Slides Onward
9. Blue Highway
10. Wheel
11. Desolation
12. Grace

Added: June 19th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Raptor Trail on Facebook
Hits: 1914
Language: english

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