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Parmenter, Ryan: The Noble Knave

Remember the feeling you got when you first heard Fritz Doddy's The Feeling of Far album a few years back? Well, be prepared to take a similar trip into British styled pop/progressive waters on Ryan Parmenter's The Noble Knave. Parmenter should be no stranger to the prog rock community, with his current band Eyestrings making quite a name for themselves the last few years, as well as being the nephew of former Discipline singer Matthew Parmenter. The Noble Knave is his second solo album (Helvetika was released in 1995), and features songs that he has written over the last decade, mainly tunes that did not quite fit in with his other projects, but all sound perfectly at home with each other here. Imagine if you will a cross between The Beatles, the theatical 70's material of the Kinks, Queen, ELO, and perhaps a touch of The Beach Boys, and you have an idea of what to expect here. All the 13 songs were performed by Parmenter, and most are completely keyboard and vocal driven, filled with quirky hooks that rely as much on jazz as they do pop melodies. Songs like "Dating My Frankenstein", "Zuccer", and the lovely "Starving", will have you instantly snapping your fingers and humming along at the sumptuous melodies and clever arrangements. "Diamond Eggshell" has a certain Beatles-ish charm with its multi-layered vocal harmonies, jazzy electric piano, and jangly guitar riffs, but when Parmenter throws in a wild synth solo his proggy side fully comes through. The gorgeous piano ballad "All Ways" recalls Queen's tenderest pieces, as Ryan's vocals easily invoke images of Freddie Mercury, and his tasty guitar lines mix with endearing piano on "Sterilized", a fun progressive pop piece that also has great vocals and layers of keyboards. "No Matter How You Spend Your Day" is a wonderful homage to The Beatles, "Dream" a neat little keyboard dominated instrumental piece, and the title track a majestic and symphonic prog rock number that invokes images of The Moody Blues.

It's not often that charming little releases like this come along, but The Noble Knave is such an album that is sure to please anyone who can appreciate rich harmonies and alluring melodies. Call it pop, call it accessible prog, it really makes no difference the tag line, but Ryan Parmenter has surely put together a fun record here that never failed to bring a smile to my face each and every time it played through in my CD player, and I'm sure it will continue to do so for quite a time to come. Bravo!

Track Listing
1) Zuccer
2) Keep Crying
3) Dating My Frankenstein
4) Starving
5) Diamond Eggshell
6) I Dig Your Head
7) All Ways
8) Sterilized
9) Dream
10) No Matter How Your Spend Your Day
11) I'm Just a Guy
12) The Noble Knave
13) Come Along

Added: January 1st 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Ryan Parmenter Website
Hits: 4499
Language: english

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Parmenter, Ryan: The Noble Knave
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-01-01 21:04:18
My Score:

Want to know why we as music listeners and critics shouldn't pigeonhole artists? I give you Exhibit A: Ryan Parmenter, enigmatic leader of the brooding, off-kilter, deeply progressive-rock band Eyestrings. Parmenter's second solo album (his first in almost a dozen years) is a far cry from Eyestrings. In fact, one could make the argument that The Noble Knave is the antithesis of a prog album. Featuring songs written between 1996 and 2006 that fell outside of the scope of Eyestrings and Parmenter's film-score work, The Noble Knave is one of those melodic yet eclectic pop records on which every song happens to be a fun discovery. Using layers of keyboard-triggered sounds to achieve the effect of a pseudo-band, Parmenter runs through tunes about beards ("Sterilized"), geek love ("I Dig Your Head") and being just a guy ("I'm Just A Guy"). From the dreaminess of the appropriately titled "Dream" to the trumpet-like blasts on "No Matter How You Spend Your Day," Parmenter makes delightful music that's heavily influenced by the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Even the artwork and liner notes have a goofy charm about them that belies the creepiness of Eyestrings. I second Pete Pardo's "bravo."

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