Every Waking Hour, a new progressive rock band from Colorado, shine on their excellent debut CD of neo-prog, Writing on the Wall.
The band is a duo - Tim Kestle (guitar, bass) and Paul McLean (keyboards, drums, vocals) - assisted by guest musicians and they have a healthy take on progressive rock: their ambition is to keep in what they love about the genre ("hummable choruses, epic songs and twisting instrumentals") whilst omitting what they call the "angular dissonance of many bands in the genre that often make prog inaccessible to casual listeners". I think I know what they mean on that one! In any case, they've succeeded because Writing on the Wall is easy to listen to. However, I wouldn't call the songs "epic", certainly not by prog rock standards and there are no completely instrumental tracks, but I'm fine with both of those choices.
The music is melodic, neither entirely guitar or keyboard-driven but with a good instrumentation balance and the singing is good. It shows less obvious influences from the past than bands like Pendragon do, that have been performing for many years, and it is closer to the "new neo" style that more recent bands like The Gift have composed. There are influences in Every Waking Hour's music, for sure, but they are more diffuse than in the music of those bands that were closer to the 1970s. Every Waking Hour's list of influences includes the usual suspects as well as a few surprises like Duran Duran and ELO, but they are also right up to date by citing bands like Spock's Beard, Dream Theater and Magellan, as well as surf rock and eastern music. This eclecticism is healthy and in amassing these diverse temporal and musical ideas the band is going to get closer to a unique sound. It's good music, not too densely layered to become heavy or overpowering, but with sufficient presence to be continuously interesting.
"At Any Price" gets the album off to a good start with a mix of rhythmic structures, good melodic work and a strong vocal from guest Jeff Burkett. "The King is Dead" – which mixes up ELP with surf rock according to the band – follows in fine style: good keyboard work on this during a long instrumental section. The album continues with a good mix of melody and rhythm, the instrumental sections having interesting musical textures courtesy of the large range of instruments chosen. A special mention goes to the final song, which deals with the current tensions between Islamic and Christian cultures, and which features eastern influences within the soundscape. Of course, it's a recurring theme these days – a sign of the times I guess – but the song is very good, one of the highlights of the album.
An impressive debut then, more so for the fact that the CD was recorded in Tim Kestle's home studio and self-released. Despite the budgetary constraints the band manage to provide a decent CD slip with lyrics: the CD is available for purchase from CD Baby. Every Waking Hour are playing the Colorado Creative Rock Festival on 25th July alongside some other, perhaps better known bands like Singularity, so if you're local to the area then it will be worth giving the guys a shot. Check out:
Colorado Creative Rock Festival
I hope the guys are successful enough to persevere with their music, which deserves a wide audience.
1) At Any Price (6:28)
2) The King is Dead (7:32)
3) Arrivederci (9:53)
4) Spotlight (7:22)
5) Where the River Flows (9:45)
6) Conspiracy of Silence (4:38)
7) Over Now (5:52)
8) Writing on the Wall (8:22)