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C Sides - 2017 - "We Are Now"

(68:24; C Sides)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. Out of the Water 9:22
2. Black Road River 8:51
3. Deck Chair City 8:27
4. Truth Through Clowns 3:15
5. Rock and a Hard Place 10:16
6. Before the Fall 3:27
7. Living Without Wires 5:17
8. Lies in the Open 9:11
9. We Are Now 10:18


Allen McCarthy - vocals
Martin Bosser - guitars, keyboards, vocals
Jay MacDonald - bass
Allan Mason-Jones - drums, percussion

Prolusion. UK band C SIDES, which are known as The C Sides Project these days, was formed back in 2007 by members with a past from many other bands, noted progressive rock band Magenta among them. They released their debut album "Devitrification" in 2011, and in 2017 their second studio album "We Are Now" was self-released by the band. Since then they have released a third album, "10 Days", under their revised moniker The C Sides Project.

Analysis. The press for this release cited the album as one to look forward to for people with a desire to hear a band taking their cues from the likes of Rush, Gentle Giant and Yes, among others, and re imagining them in a new context referencing a band like Mew as an example of this. For my sake, I cannot find too many traces of the mentioned references, although I have to admit that Mew isn't a band I'm overly familiar with. But as far as Gentle Giant is concerned, perhaps some of the vocal harmonies can be traced here, and I guess the same is the case for Yes. Some Geddy Lee tinged bass moments and Neil Peart feel to certain drum parts is a part of the totality, and some of the tighter guitar moments does have a wee bit of Alex Lifeson's spirit to them. All of these are minor details though, at least as far as I can tell, and as such aren't all that important when describing this album. Details that merits a mention for sure, but no more. My impression is that this album hovers on the border between melodic rock music and accessible progressive rock of the kind that doesn't really fit into any given sub-genre. Most of the songs are guitar driven affairs, with keyboards having more of a supplemental role, and the primary progressive rock aspect is the song structure, with mainly long songs featuring multiple parts, repeated themes and motifs and pretty much what most progressive rock fans will desire in that very specific context. Careful electric guitars backed by acoustic guitars or clean wandering guitars is the main dynamic throughout, with occasional use of harder edged riffs and darker tones for added impact. Generally staying well away from being dramatic, the passages are more of a smooth but firm variety, with steady lead vocals and at times liberal use of vocal harmonies. The overall style has something of a US sounding tinge to it from what I can hear, with blues-tinged guitar sound, elements that remind me ever so slightly of southern rock at times, and often slight associations towards the more accessible aspects of a band like King's X. Some of the more flowing and less blues-oriented guitar solo runs, combined with the often light and elegant supporting guitars, actually remind me quite a lot about late 1980's Wishbone Ash, in the era just after "Nouveau Calls", and if I should stamp a calling card on this album that would probably be my main point of reference. What doesn't work all that well on this album are the songs themselves. Some ideas are explored overly long, some sections just doesn't tie to well with each other, and some of the longer tracks suffers from the flow and motion stopping overly much or for too long. To some extent by being to smooth as well at times. As music is subjective this will of course be flaws as regarded from a subjective point of view, and my experience is that I just didn't get engaged in the music all that much, and some of the material disengaged me to some extent as well. There are many fine moments and endearing details along the way, but the totality adds up to be a bit less than the sum of the individual parts for me, even if some of the parts aren't all that strong to begin with. Personal taste can only indicate so much of course, but for me at least the conclusion will be that this is an album that probably will have something of a finite reach, especially in progressive rock circles.

Conclusion. This second album by UK band C Sides isn't among the more memorable of the albums I have listened to from 2017. Primarily melodic rock as I experience this album, and with some songs that for me comes across as somewhat odd in the manner in which they have been compiled. There are many fine moments and details to be found for those fond of the most accessible aspects of progressive rock, but as a whole I found the total album experience to be somewhat underwhelming. A possible key audience for me would be those who love and treasure late 80's and early 90's Wishbone Ash, and then especially those who do not mind the occasional bluesier and arguably more US sounding take on that specific sound.

Progmessor: July 24th 2019
The Rating Room

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