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Flyin' Ryan Brothers, The: Totality

Holy Guitar Mayhem Batman!

There once was a time when it seemed that only the Steve Morse Band could churn out instrumental guitar rock this good, but, as evident from their last few releases, The Flyin' Ryan Brothers are out to prove that tasty, guitar oriented music is still relevent today. Totality is the latest platter of majestic riff magic from Jimmy & Johnny Ryan, along with the always dependable William Kopecky on bass and drummer Johnny Mrozek, and it sports material that is well written, honing in on many styles and textures. From the yearning, jazz-fusion of "The Choir of Eden" (anyone remember the band Elements?), to the raucous guitar monster "Escape Velocity", to an almost Celtic sounding "The Crosses Of Annagh", there's much to take in here. Those Ryan guys certainly know how to put together some memorable melodies, and their ability to show restraint during the more mellow and progressive pieces, letting the overall atmosphere and character of the songs take a precedent, is very admirable. Sure, there's plenty of shredding here, like on the brawny "Big Shotz", a real crunchy rocker, and the majestic "Spirit's Call", where the two trade off some complex harmonies, but the lighter pieces are just as compelling. Kopecky's bass work is simply marvelous throughout, his Jaco-ish lead lines on the lovely "Wes Is More" need to be heard, and his powerful, melodic phrasing helps drive the grand closer "Heritage Reprise" to lofty heights.

At just about an hour, Totality really gives you your money's worth, and shows a band that really is on the top of their game. If you've yet to discover The Flyin' Ryan Brothers, and love instrumental music with an emphasis on guitar yet containing lots of melody, check this out.

Track Listing
1 Totality
2 Escape Velocity
3 Heritage
4 The Choir Of Eden
5 The Crosses Of Annagh
6 Aeolian Rhapsody
7 Big Shotz
8 Free To Fly
9 Spirit's Call
10 Wes Is More
11 Cosmic Calypso
12 Now And Forever
13 Heritage Reprise

Added: July 23rd 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2251
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Flyin' Ryan Brothers, The: Totality
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-07-06 16:57:04
My Score:

By now, in a perfect world, the Flyin' Ryan Brothers would be as much of a guitar-hero name brand as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. The fact that they are not only makes this expressive double-lead-guitar-playing duo from Illinois even more charming.

On the siblings' fifth album, Totality, Jimmy and Johnny once again are impeccably backed by bassist William Kopecky and drummer Johnny Mrozek. With an ever-expanding sound that now includes piano, accordion, lap-steel guitar, glockenspiel and theremin, the Flyin' Ryans move way beyond guitars here, going for broke by cramming as many musical styles as possible into 60 minutes. There are the soft and lush sounds of "Free to Fly" and "Aeolian Rhapsody," jazzy and world-music pieces such as "The Crosses of Annach" and "Wes Is More," heavy and retro tunes like "Cosmic Calypso" and "Big Shotz," and the technical and progressive wizardry of "Escape Velocity" and "Spirit's Call."

But the results of all this are far from the sloppy hodge-podge of half-ass compositions you might expect from lesser musicians. In fact, each of the 13 songs on Totality is a highlight, playing like a mini-masterpiece and able to stand entirely on its own merits. Bound together by crystalline production, these songs rival those on 2006's solid and mighty Blue Marble and prove that independent artists with little more than a cult following can make some of the most exciting and accessible music on the planet and not sacrifice artistic integrity.

Commercial success may forever elude the Flyin' Ryans, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve to sell every CD they can.

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