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Never Wasn't: Never Wasn't

Listening to Never Wasn't's eponymously titled debut album I was struggling to think of which band they most reminded me of and I came up with two approximate answers: late-period Yes and Starcastle (ok, I guess that leaves Yes!). Later, reading through the promotional notes the band themselves have provided, I noted that I had failed to highlight to myself the inspiration and influence they derived from ELP, Flower Kings, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, Rush, Spock's Beard and The Who!! Quite a list, eh? A hypothesis that one could formulate from such an exalted list, pooled as it is from rock's greats, is that if competent musicians are truly influenced by such artists then there is a very good chance that they themselves will produce enjoyable music.

It's a fair hypothesis and if Never Wasn't is the experiment, then the hypothesis is proved correct.

Certainly, Never Wasn't's finest moments are 4-star quality: for instance, "No More War" with its thumping rhythm; "The Last One", a slower number but featuring strong emotional musicality and good composition; "Timeline", displaying some fine rhythmic keyboard playing; "Changing Seasons", with some interesting vocal interplay, fine melodies and effective guitar solo in its final phase. Elsewhere some inspirational soloing from the guys in the band lifts less notable songs: "Feel the Heat" for example. There's plenty to enjoy throughout the album.

Never Wasn't is the culmination of a five-year project influenced by the events of 9-11. The band are from Woodland Hills, California and have written all of the material themselves with the exception of "Changing Seasons", which is credited to Mike Matier (guitars, backing vocals) and a Scott Jones. All of the other compositions are credited to Mike and the other band members: Ronny Lapine (vocals), Snake Zusman (bass, backing vocals), Grant Cooper (keyboards, backing vocals) and Jeff Coza (drums, percussion).

I do have a slight problem with the album, however, and that is that the weaker songs drag the overall "feel" down. Some compositions, "Undertow" for instance, begin to sound either "samey" or lacking inspiration. Also, the opener, "Can't Find the Door", acts as a poor start to the album, lacking tempo or memorable melodic phrasing, and leaving the listener confused with lyrics of "I've got the blues" with music that doesn't match - it doesn't work, those words have become such a cliche that you actually need the music to match for it to be successful. My feeling is that with the album at about 65 minutes, then two or three compositions could have been omitted, actually resulting in a stronger product. Mind you, as a criticism, complaining that the quality is variable is something that some people would apply to latter-day Yes, so Never Wasn't are in good company!

Irrespective of that slight criticism, Never Wasn't remains a good debut album: pleasant overall with some very good moments. You can check out for yourself by clicking on the band's website link below as they provide downloadable mp3 clips from all of the compositions on the album on the "music" section of the site.

It will definitely be worth keeping an eye on what this band produces in future and, if they are playing near you, popping in to see them if you can.

Track Listing:-
1) Can't Find the Door (4:20)
2) Timeline (5:17)
3) Changing Seasons (6:31)
4) No More War (2:52)
5) Take a Moment (6:03)
6) Too many People (4:25)
7) Leprechaun (4:50)
8) Undertow (6:04)
9) In Tune With the Moon (5:58)
10) The Last One (5:16)
11) Feel the Heat (4:57)
12) In a Blue Dream (5:36)
13) Generator (4:29)

Added: November 15th 2008
Reviewer: Alex Torres
Related Link: Band's Website
Hits: 1901
Language: english

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