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Phideaux: The Great Leap

With the subtitle "A Celebration of Lemmings," rest assured that The Great Leap by Phideaux will, for the most part, be a fun listen. The members of this delightful and endearing collaborative of musical friends, led by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Phideaux Xavier and drummer Rich Hutchins, seldom stop sipping creative juice. And although The Great Leap is not quite as challenging of a listen as Phideaux's last record, 313, it's actually more enjoyable. Each song is an adventurous sonic excursion from the Beach Boys-meet-David Bowie prettiness of "Rainboy" to the Moody Blues/Lou Reed textures of "Abducted." A late-Sixties and early-Seventies vibe permeates most of these 11 tracks Jethro Tull, The Beatles, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music and early Pink Floyd mark just some of this band's sonic boundaries including "I Was Thinking," "Tannis Root" and "Wake Up." On the other hand, The Great Leap's finale, "Last," sounds like a thoroughly modern ballad with an aching Xavier-sung ballad that's as broken-hearted as it is beautiful. Compelling stuff.

Track Listing:
1) Wake Up
2) You and Me Against A World of Pain
3) The Waiting
4) Abducted
5) Rainboy
6) I Was Thinking
7) Long and Lonely Way
8) The Hunt You Down
9) Tannis Root
10) One Star
11) Last

Added: March 8th 2007
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Bloodfish Music
Hits: 5225
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Phideaux: The Great Leap
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-03-08 17:06:24
My Score:

Jethro Tull meets Roger Waters, in a dense folk-meets rock body of work with dark, somber moods and tones that run from cynical to tender, from sarcastic to desperate. It is melodic, nod-your-head and sing-along art-folk-rock, with earworms that will be implanted for weeks to come.

"The great leap forward" was Mao Tse Tung's socio-economic experiment in the 1950s, and The Great Leap explores life in today's totalitarian society. Subtitled "A Celebration Of Lemmings," it's the first part of a trilogy - with part 2 called Doomsday Afternoon scheduled for 2007. So there's an underlying theme, yet musically it's song-oriented with 11 short songs in 59 minutes that end too soon.

The Great Leap doesn't have quite the complexity of Chupacabras, and the wonderful female vocals Phideaux has employed with such great effect in prior releases are missing here. This one is more dense, heavier, and less overtly progressive than previous records, although once again Phideaux Xavier has penned unusual lyrics and the sometimes esoteric prose leaves a lot to your own interpretation. Listen to the haunting recriminations in "I Was Thinking", or the soft love-song ballad "Last", the psychedelia of "You and Me Against A World of Pain", and the story-teller lilt and lyrics of "The Waiting.

The song structures are reasonably complex and are intelligently constructed, and have a lot in common with Phideaux's hard-rocking third release Ghost Story. There aren't many technical sections, but listen to the carefully interwoven instrumentals - like the solo and the dual guitar sections in the middle of "Abducted". A significant number of musicians contribute to the album, yet it successfully retains its cohesion. Apparently Xavier and drummer Rich Hutchins develop the basic material then layer in the contributions of several regular and guest collaborators. Xavier's addictive vocals are delivered in a wonderfully clean, relaxed yet perfectly controlled, clearly enunciated mid-range, that recalls the early '70s English singers - like David Bowie and Peter Hammill - or perhaps American Matthew Parmenter.

Phideaux Xavier describes himself as a perfectionist, and his attention to detail shines through the the production quality. It's crisp, yet has an organic sound that's easy on the ear.

So it's a bit quirky, it's very catchy, and it definitely deserves its place in some of the Sea Of Tranquility writers' top 20 albums of 2006.

Phideaux: The Great Leap
Posted by Steve Pettengill, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-01-01 11:17:31
My Score:

Phideaux is the name of the band as well as that of multi-instrumentalist Phideaux Xavier. They are not at all new to the world of progressive music and have garnered quite a cult following. The Great Leap is my first encounter with Phideaux so I don't have much to compare it to, except to say it's a very well written modern rock album. Thematically, The Great Leap concerns itself with the darker side of life and the lyrics are the main focus of the CD. The band's influences aren't immediately obvious and while comparisons have been made to Van Der Graaf Generator, Genesis, David Bowie and Roxy Music, I hear very little of those bands in Phideaux's music, which is not at all a bad thing. In fact, I think The Great Leap will probably appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree, Radiohead or possibly Muse. Phideaux Xavier's vocals might be described as a bit of an acquired taste, but he really gets the emotions across in his songs. While the entire CD is certainly worth a spin, highlights include "Rainboy", the funky Clavinet chorus of "The Waiting", the melancholy "Last" and the desperation of "I Was Thinking". The Great Leap is not at all challenging stuff, but if one appreciates good songs, Phideaux more than fits the bill.

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