Monday, December 20, 2010

2010 Album Index 15-1

15. Everything Everything | Man Alive

One weekend last Summer this band had 3 or 4 singles, remixes and eps being buzzed about, at least on one website I frequent. I checked out their background out of curiosity, and among the bands they got compared to, Yes was one of them.

So, I immediately checked them out and got rather addicted. Although the Yes comparison only makes sense to a point, I think in the complex vocal arrangements mainly. Their music had this odd, quirky, and still catchy element to it. You can't understand much of anything their singer says, but maybe they share that aspect with Yes to a point as well. Nonsensical lyrics, that are more used to how they actually sound, rather than from a literal standpoint.

So, I got wind of this album dropping in August and really enjoyed it for a few weeks I recall. It was without a track I skip, and the energy especially kept drawing me back to it.

Some people didn't follow the comparisons I made with them to Bloc Party and Foals, and I think I compared them to those two bands, mostly due to the fact they are British like those 2 groups. But they also share a dance-able element with both of them, as well as using textures and having a post-punk element in their music.

And with Steven Wilson's endorsement in his year-end list, and a few months ago in fact, some people are coming around on them. I guess for a debut record, this will be among the more noteworthy in 2010, but hopefully their next record will go even further with some new found attention. A good, recent case in point would actually be Foals and their latest.

Suggested: Photoshop Handsome, Suffragette Suffragette, MY KZ, UR BF, Schoolin’

14. Pure Reason Revolution | Hammer and Anvil

A rather fast follow-up to 2009's slightly less-prog and more electronic sophomore release Amor Vincit Omnia. This record originally seemed to be a combination of both AVO and their well-liked Floyd-ish debut The Dark Third. But over a bit of time, it came across more similar to the former. More electronic or industrial even, which in some examples really worked well; "Blitzkrieg," "Open Insurrection" and "Last Man, Last Round." However, a good chunk of the songs in the middle gave me this generic 80's New Wave/Synth element and left me a bit sad. They almost didn't sound like PRR in ways.

But, I went back to this album again the other day, and among the 4 tracks that really bugged me, I'd say two of them "Valour" and "Never Divide" are okay enough, that I'm not as sour about them. And 4-stars is acceptable.

I guess the closing trilogy of songs "Blitzkrieg" "Open Insurrection" and "Armistice" I enjoy so much each time I play this thing, it's not as disappointing as I initially felt. I get goosebumps hearing those every time. "Armistice" almost reminds me of Doves. Also tracks like "Black Mourning" and even the opening Tom Bellamy-written piece "Fight Fire" add more to how good this album is.

However, with two 4.5-star albums, previously, this is still a little bit of a step down for one of my favorite bands. I still wonder if a lot of this album came from ideas never finished on AVO. And given how soon after it came (less than 2 years), its quality might have been hurt due to pace of the writing and recording. Questions to ponder but probably never answered. Clues may only come with of course in what they do next. Of course we'll see.

13. Oceansize | Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up

Going in to 2010, this probably was my most anticipated album. Oceansize had released 3 lps and some eps and singles previous to this, namely the Music for Nurses along with those 3 other records, pretty much showed how consistently good they were. But none of them were absolute masterpieces. They all are damn close though.

So like a few other groups I really enjoy, I feel it's not a matter of if, but when their definitive work is made. I thought, maybe finally this was going to be it.

Well, it wasn't. It was rather good though, at least the best work on it is. "SuperImposer," "Build Us a Rocket Then...," "Oscar Acceptance Speech" and "Silent/Transparent" are all some of the best songs the band has written. The textures and emotional impact are there. The opening cut "Part Cardiac" and "It's My Tail and I'll Chase It If I Want To" I would say also work well on this album, enough to not hurt it or it's flow.

But the ballads namely are what killed this thing.

The 1st or 2nd time through, I came to the thought, I know this is the kind of album the band wanted to make, but not the album they could make. So it's a bit of a double-edged sword. As an artist, you're supposed to be selfish, and for that I totally applaud them here. But the bottom line is, I don't desire to play this album as often as I anticipated, nor do I even think it's as good as their others, in the end.

Perhaps a few years from now, those ballads will fit nicely in here and it'll be seen at least on par with Everyone Into Position and Frames if not eclipsing them somehow, but knowing how highly talented this band are, I can't get past the fact they could have made an album I got more attached to, and did not here. But, who knows, maybe with their next one? Not that it's totally fair, but I can say right now, Mew have surpassed them and Pure Reason Revolution in terms of the best or my favorite modern prog groups in the last couple of years. I guess ultimately, I'd love to view all 3 of those groups equally, but No More Stories / Are Told Today / I'm Sorry / They Washed Away // No More Stories / The World Is Grey / I'm Tired / Let's Wash Away is better than both of their most recent works by a decent amount.

However, if it were any other band, this album deserves any and all praise it got. It still 4-stars and like I said, it includes some of their best, most moving songs to date. Those songs include those goose-bump sections namely, and for that, it still places pretty high on my list. The average good Oceansize song is so much better than the average band x or y song, it warrants being placed this high still.

12. Revere | Hey! Selim

The long awaited debut record from this UK group. I guess in revisiting it again recently, the 1st 5 or 6 tracks especially really stand out to me in quality and mood. The record gets a bit darker in the 2nd half, but overall, it still includes pretty much all good songs.

I'm probably a bit guilty for not playing it as much as I'd like. Why? I guess maybe due to not finding as many new things about it, or perhaps just the mood. But as I did just revisit it again, I may try and give it even more deserved time in 2011 to see just how far it goes. They're definitely a talented band, and one doing the College-Prog thing rather well at times. Using strings, trumpet, xylophone, and various dynamics. Are they then UK's answer to Kiss Kiss or Anathallo? the press compare them to the Arcade Fire of course, but I definitely think they're more worth my time than that. I suppose one thing that could help them and this record is it getting distribution in North America among other territories. Maybe 2011 will see that happen along with the band working on a new record.

Suggested: As the Radars Sleep, We Won't Be Here Tomorrow, The Escape Artist

11. Jazzkamikaze | Supersonic Revolutions

This is this danish band's 3rd album, but I guess much different their previous two. The name Mew can't be avoided of course. They come from the same country of Denmark. And there are elements of Mew's music on this record. But I guess it doesn't hurt it for me. They do combine jazz elements (soprano saxophone namely) really well with pop and prog here. And it's a consistent album, one that I enjoyed initially, and only recently came to realize how consistent it was.

Given that, I probably will want to go back to it even more, along with their back catalog and the album they are expected to release in early 2011. But for now, not a ton of people know who this band is still, so it definitely finds the Overlooked category right now.

Suggested: Bring Back Spring, Acropolis.

10. Emanuel and The Fear | Listen

A friend of mine told me of this group last Spring, and compared them to Apes and Androids among others.And that comparison got me curious. They were sort of a rock orchestra doing a rock-opera in a way. Or at least this album almost came across that way at 1st. I guess I attribute a lot of that to the female vocal character parts. But also the almost Show-tune tribute track "Dear Friend."

But given some time, this album/band sounded less conceptual. But the chamber element was there, along with the dramatic synths.

But the bottom line was, after hearing this album a couple of times, I was pretty floored by a handful of tunes, namely probably 2010's best track in "Jimme's Song (Full Band Version)" "Guatemala" "Ariel and the River" and "The Finale."

“I don’t wanna to do nothing but be in a rock band/I don’t wanna get a job/I don’t wanna be a man...I don't wanna do nothing at all”

that chorus never leaves your head.

The rest of the album got better with time, but sadly not enough of it for this thing to really grab my attention every day. I thought it was going to, but it only did to a point. I really thought at the time (last Spring) this was an album that could challenge for album of the year. I guess the biggest reason why it didn't was the sad example of hearing their singer Emanuel Ayvas swallow into the microphone. Namely from tracks 11 ("Whatever You Do") through 15 ("Simple Eye"), but even some of the other songs it was notice-able. I just have a hard time getting through hearing that now-a-days. I would guess if not for that one flaw in a percentage of the songs on here, this album could have been a classic record potentially, because the other parts of those songs are good. And like I said, a lot of the other tracks only grew well with time.

So the end result was a promising group with a good debut album with a handful of great songs on it. And much hope for the future. Apes and Androids isn't around anymore, but this project fills their void to a point. We'll see what happens in 2011 when their next EP is expected. And in the mean time, if there ever is any justice, "Jimme's Song" will become a track played on radio and web play lists for years to come. But will it? Has The Dear Hunter's "Red Hands"? sadly no. That shit still needs to change. It's-going-right-under-their-noses. It's remains their loss, not mine.

9. Foals | Total Life Forever

Antidotes, their debut album from a few years ago was good, but to me, always sounded blatantly like other bands. Battles, Minus the Bear, and especially their fellow Brits Bloc Party namely. But the songwriting was still good enough, despite this, I enjoyed Antidotes a bit. But hearing they had a new record, I didn't expect a lot more than what I got from Antidotes.

However, the 1st initial track/single shared online "Spanish Sahara" didn't resemble the Antidotes sound all that much. It was more of a building, epic, almost prog-piece. And it was so good, it ended up being my favorite part of this new record, and one of the best songs of 2010. I just love the way it leads to that climax. "I'm the fury in your head, I'm the fury in your bed, I'm the ghost in the back of your head." That part is just HAUNTING. I get a cinematic reaction to it. Some movie or story comes in and almost transports me from my workplace, to some horror or scifi thriller or something.

But beyond the stellar "Spanish Sahara" this was a damn consistent record. The radio stations and blogs kept pimping the 2nd single "This Orient" which as it turns out, I think it probably is the worst song on this album. While tracks like "Blue Blood," "Black Gold," "Alabaster," and "After Glow" are all rather memorable. But I'd say the whole thing is worth playing, 1st and foremost, instead of said amazing songs alone.

I was supposed to see them live the same night Janelle Monáe and Menomena were also in town. It didn't happen unfortunately. But like Menomena, I don't think I will pass up another chance to see these guys live. That and their next work definitely are something I look forward to, as this clearly was one of it not the biggest breakthrough album of 2010.

8. Warpaint | The Fool

Long awaited by myself, and it ended up coming out, frankly, a lot different than I expected. I adored this group and their ep Exquisite Corpse for many months in 2009 into early 2010.

Exquisite Corpse had this incredibly dreamy and textured element on every track, I got sucked in and was seduced so easily by them. It didn't hurt how attractive they were as well. It's pretty rare to find an all-girl band, doing prog especially.

So, going-in to hearing this, I was hoping it would have much of those qualities. And it did to a point, but the compositions were a lot more organic sounding I guess. The vocal lines were not as catchy, save for the single "Undertow" I guess. However, I think with the stripped-down approach and more atonal and percussive style of writing, the band have evolved or "progressed" in a lot of ways.

This record is more of a grower, but unlike some groups who put out an ep I love, and then disappoint with the full-length, I think this record could stand the test of time more so. Why I say that is how in-depth and longer-lasting the songs seem to be. It's less-is-more, and more-is-more at the same time. You don't notice a lot of things the 1st few times hearing it.

I suppose it may depend on what they do next, to see how it holds up. But they kind of have effectively made 2 kinds of releases, within their style. They can be melodic and dreamy, and be laid back and dreamy. They can do complex vocal arrangements ("Billie Holiday"), or do stripped-down singer/songwriter stuff (see "Baby"), and have the voices for it.

Maybe I'm still drinking their cool-aid a bit, but I can't be down or feel disappointed here, even with how thrown off I was initially by the difference in this album. I guess Exquisite Corpse also was a case where the songs were modified and refined for many years, the end result reflects that. These songs, to a point were as well, but maybe not as much so. The band hopefully has reached stable lineup finally now (Stella being the latest in what is a handful of different drummers they've had, over the years), and have found their sound and who/what they are in many ways.

Now, if they only would just come back and play a headlining show in Minnesota. I could use hugs again from them ;] (Hopefully in 2011).

: Undertow, Composure, Bees, Majesty, Set Your Arms Down

I have a lot more to add about them, but not here, but in another entry. The whole web-hype thing and Local Natives.

7. Agalloch | Marrow of the Spirit

Great flow to this record. They use repetition with builds exceptionally well. The one blemish is actually a part by many other reviews considered the most unique or progressive part of this album. The whispering vocals the 1st 5:50 of the 4th piece "Black Lake Nidstång" in particular the swallowing and how HIGH IN THE MIX I cannot stomach hearing. Much like on the Emanuel and The Fear, Cloud Cult, and Jimmy Gnecco (briefly) albums from this year, along with Sufjan Stevens and Anathallo from years past, I am kind of disgusted by the sound of hearing a singer swallow. Particularly a male singer.

But beyond those nearly 6 minutes, I enjoy more or less the rest of this record. Their mix of guitar textures and layers in folk, prog, black metal, and post rock seems to blend wonderfully. In a way, how good this album turned out, is an unexpected make up for no albums from the likes of Ne Obliviscaris and Subterranean Masquerade in 2010. And the lack of quality of the new In Vain record as well. This album may force me to re-check much of their back catalog now (beyond The White EP which I already know and enjoy very much).

6. Menomena | Mines

Like Oceansize, this was rather high on my anticipation list. I appreciate this band and their skill for songwriting. 2003's I Am the Fun Blame Monster remains a favorite of mine, and my appreciation for it continues to grow every year. And I'd say 2007's Friend and Foe, some of the same about, only to a bit lesser of a degree.

So naturally, I couldn't get more excited about another release from them. And the result did not disappoint. Am I speaking from a fanboy's perspective? perhaps a bit. But the fact is, every track on this album I enjoy. It's the musical/album definition of consistent.

Now, understanding how it was made, and where the band were at, was the only chink in it's armor I suppose. It was made or at least written through email. The band are not really on good terms I guess. And their impending break-up, I am preparing for. Although nothing has surfaced publicly about that, that I know the last few months. But I'm not going to forget about it, as I've been through too many other similar situations where bands end/hiatus unexpectedly. And this case, I can at least be aware of it to happen soon.

But this album, if it is their last, does not taint their legacy. There's the Brent Knopf tunes which I all love (Killemall, Sleeping Beauty, Intil), the Justin Harris tracks (Taos, Bote, Queen Black Acid, Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such a Big Boy) and Danny Seim ones (Tithe, Lunchmeat, Five Little Rooms, Dirty Cartoons), at least from a lead-vocal standpoint. I would assume most if not all of said pieces were written by those who sang the vocals. Although I can't be sure, but like many songwriting teams who have multiple singers, Menomena seem to function that way.

But each and every track on this album has the quality and thought put into it for me as a fan, to enjoy. Are there many ear-worms or catchy hooks? only a few, namely on "Killemall." I also really love the slide guitar on "Tithe" for example. But Menomena are not a pop band. They're a prog band. People don't call them that, mainly because the p-word is something their critics and audience don't care for. But they've always been a group whose executed experiments with texture and dynamics to success. And Mines is not an exception to that.

And if in fact it is their swan song, I have come to grips with it being a great way to go out. Brent has Ramona Falls, and Danny has Lackthereøf, no matter what transpires beyond this point. But Mines, at least for now, is a record I'll hold as significant as any in the year 2010.

6. Sufjan Stevens | The Age of Adz

I've enjoyed Sufjan Stevens music in a mood-music kind-of-way for many years. Illinois and a few of it's tracks like "Chicago" and "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" are two of the most memorable songs he's written and probably of the 2000's. But like Sigur Rós I've never become thoroughly attached to anything he's done. Maybe one reason being, you hear him swallow a lot in his music. But also the fact, despite all the instrumentation he uses, his music overall, always seems or comes across as being too lite and folk-y for everyday listening for me.

Well, this album was not lite or all that folk-y, at least to the extent of his previous work. It was synthy and more in your face at times. I guess to be honest, the 25 minute epic "Impossible Soul" is largely what put it over the top. That sucker works like magic at times. It really is of the tradition of many prog epics, with movements or sections, that segue quite well. Even the auto-tune vocals part. I can't forget how someone said it was his calling-out to Kanye, lol. Almost mocking him, and if that actually is true, it is all the better and more funny at the same time.

But maybe the most brilliant, epic part of it is the repeated chorus

It's a long life, better pinch yourself, Put your face together, better get it right, It's a long life, better hit yourself, Put your face together, better stand up straight ,It's a long life, only one last chance, Couldn't get much better, do you wanna dance? It's a long life, better pinch yourself

Get your face together, better stand up straight

Boy, we can do much more together, (Better get it right, get it right, get it right, get it right)
Boy, we can do much more together, (Better give love, give love, give love, give love)
Boy, we can do much more together, (better get it right, get it right get it right, get it right)
Boy, we can do much more together it's not so impossible, It's not so impossible

and some of the instrumentation that follows. It's definitely a case of a phrasing and MELODY that is milked, but totally works, that you can't get it out of your head, in a good way. It's Sufjan I guess talking to himself/looking at himself in the mirror. But I think it's most thought-provoking quality is the inspiration I can draw from it.

However, this record included some other enjoyable material as well. "Vesuvius," "Get Real, Get Right, ""Now That I'm Older," "Too Much" and "I Want to Be Well" and it's "I'm not fucking around" lyric.

The whole thing works extremely well start to finish. I guess it probably could go even higher, but I only got addicted to it for a few weeks, and to a point, it still felt like it needed to be heard with the right mood. But I wouldn't be surprised if it receives a lot more headphone time from me in the coming years. Also the fact he and the band looked a bit like posers on national television, kind of throwing me off a bit, contributed to how often I've put it on down the stretch here.

4. Cloud Cult | Light Chasers

2010 was in a lot of ways, the year-of or the year-for Cloud Cult. This album I guess was labored over for a countless number of days/hours, and the end result shows that.

Cloud Cult are from my hometown of Minneapolis/St.Paul, and I have known about them for many years. Finally in 2008, I got into them a bit with Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes). I however, meant-to since, but never got around to exploring their back catalog.

They are prog in a lot of ways. The media will never call them that, but they are. Baroque and Chamber rock/pop. They use a lot of non-traditional rock instruments and textures namely.

This album is a bit of a concept, which on the surface looks or sounds like an almost Scifi, spaceship journey story. But it actually is metaphorical for the experience lead singer/writer Craig Minowa and his wife Connie's experience with the birth of their new child. A lot of it is inspired by the hugely sad loss of another child the couple had 8 years ago. So, the huge level of emotion is totally understood when taking this album in.

From a musical standpoint though, it's the most cohesive thing I've heard from the band (I've still only heard only about half their catalog). The string arrangements, guitar riffs, vocal lines and harmonies, and segues between each piece. It really works incredibly well on a compositional level.

To top it off, finally seeing them live, probably stapled it as significant an album and group I enjoyed in 2010. That show in November was totally energetic and at times breathtaking. Not to mention the fact I saw the sound-check, got free pizza and talked to the band, after losing my ticket to the show, I was lucky enough to get placed on the guest list.

It's only flaw, like many others on this list, is 2 tracks, you hear Craig's swallowing on the microphone. But the amount of time is limited, it doesn't hurt the experience of listening to the album really (skipping 2 of 16 tracks).

All the things you'll love, All the things that may hurt you, All the things you shouldn't do, And all the things you want to...They're calling your safely."

"There's so much energy in us"

Suggested: Room Full of People In Your Head, There's So Much Energy In Us, Running With the Wolves, Unexplainable Stories, Exploding People

3. Janelle Monáe | The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)

I wrote a detailed review of this back in the Summer explaining my situation, doubting her and if I'd like it. And eating crow, of some kind, in a rather enjoyable way.

This record was terrific for many reasons. Maybe 1st and foremost, the energy. I love a record that gets me going. And the 1st 8 or 9 tracks at least, totally get my blood pumping. Then the different genres explored and the melodies being rather memorable. The songwriting is mature beyond her resume, although given how many years this record was spent leading up to, I'm not too surprised.

Janelle obviously loves her funk and r&b, but she also must enjoy her classic and psychedelic (prog?) rock as well. Some of the guitar tones and textured arrangements remind me of the likes of Pink Floyd and Genesis. Along with some elements of Disney Soundtracks, and the dreamy side to an artist like St. Vincent.

The concept is rather cool too, and not stereotypical really. I have yet to read through the booklet, but I guess it references or is inspired by a story like Metropolis. The whole Android and Man vs Machine canon. And it's funny, but I cannot deny, the Apes and Androids comparison, the more I get to know this record and her, makes sense. Is this album as good as Blood Moon? no. It may never come close, but it's still appealing to me as a huge fan of A&A's. And that may be as much a reason why I got into this as anything. And the story/concept, which began with her debut EP, is supposed to continue on, so that's a good reason alone to look forward to what she does next.

Suggested: Cold War, Faster, Dance or Die, BaBopByeYa

2. Lehto & Wright | Children's Songs

This is in a way their most ambitious work. This group have been around for a decade and have a rather prolific output, but this album is in a lot of ways something they were building towards. The 32 minute instrumental title piece/medley is something they obviously spent a great deal of thinking about, using transitions extremely well.

(All Tunes Traditional, Arr: Lehto and Wright except as noted)

The Rigs of London Town (Sing by Charlie Wills, from the Rounder CD,
Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales: Songs of Seduction)

Introduction (including Prelude No. 5 by Manuel Maria Ponce)
Emerrode (Piers Hellawell)
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 No. 1. Von fremden Lándern und Menschen (Robert Schuman)
The Blue Tail Fly
Blackberry Blossom
The Peeler's Jacket
Children's Song No. 1 (Chick Corea)
Children's Song No. 7 (Chick Corea)
Gearrchaili Bhaile an Mhuilinn
Máramarosi Tánc (Béla Bartók)
Buckinghames branle
Stack the Rags
Children's Song No. 15 (Chick Corea)
Katonanóta (Soldier's Song) (Béla Bartók)
Prelude No. 5 (Manuel Maria Ponce)/Rigs of London Town (Reprise)
After the Rain (John Coltrane)
Albatross (Children's Song) (Steve Lehto)
The Rain Song [Excerpt] (Jimmy Page, Robert Plant)

it's not short, but it hardly feels that long. I would guess there's maybe only 1 or 2 parts of it that drag, but each time hearing it, I got more and more used to them. The 18 minute closing piece "Betsy Bell and Mary Gray" is also a very well thought-out composition, with great transitions and segues that capture various moods.

The 1st 2 shorter pieces "Wasn't that a time" and "The Broomfield Hill" are both memorable as well. Why this record has stood the test of time and is placed as high on my list as it is. It also as I originally predicted, probably the most overlooked record of 2010, at least among the progressive rock scene. The only thing that may justify that is the fact they are more known in the folk scene and just in Minnesota. But I don't follow why those two factors should have anything to do with it's lack of recognition or just distribution. O well, sometimes these things take years to finally receive their due.

1. The River Empires | The River Empires (Epilogue)

This record has stood the test of time. It really was so unique and original, it continued to leave more and more to be explored. Great, masterpiece-type records do that. They leave you with a continued sense of curiosity and exploration.

The whole template that was set up with this band/project being that is the 1st 2 released volumes of an epic fantasy/scifi story being told, that originally was intended to go along with a series of 3 films. And now has been modified to either a television program or mini-series (or perhaps both), just lent to how in-depth it was just to listen to.

Each and every one of the 29 tracks on it, has it's own identity in some way, including the little movements and shorter segue pieces. The instrumentation is incredibly tasteful and well-thought out. The production is pristine. And at 88 minutes in total, guess what? it doesn't feel long. It never has, and I don't imagine ever will.

I suppose part of why this record was such a focal point for 2010 for me was it was a wonderful breath of fresh air, and the fact it was released rather early in the year, it allowed for a lot of time to take-in. But also due to the fact, it never had any competition, if that holds any explanation. There was nothing even close to as good as it was. Nothing as unique really. Sure, the Lehto & Wright album is great, but as far as what I get most from everyday-music-listening way, this record just seemed to call to me more and more.

Details specifically, I'll mention those go-to tracks I suppose:
Three Tigers, A Toast to the Snake King, A Dimmer Lux, The Curse of Maybel Cains, Theon the Fox, Marching of the Clocks, From Outside the Cellar, Our Neighbor, the Earth, Witches Blossom.

But really, it's probably the cohesiveness and flow of the whole thing being it's greatest quality. Yeah having Casey Crescenzo on board certainly was/is a big deal, even with the limited amount of singing and I suspect songwriting he did. I can't deny, Jessy Ribordy seems to really have something special with what he's doing here. The whole concept of this project, and the music itself. Even with the limited amount of visibility of it, he's clearly made this a priority, and created it as perfect as it could be made. That is why it took so long to be released. He wanted it to be released the right way/best way. And on these 2 volumes, it was.

I think this project is worth 1000 or a million words, at least at the point when it's done. Five more releases will come, and the soundtracks and story presumably will be told. What is the story about? it's a mystery and told in a different world. It's about two children, Mars and Brighton who, during one particular summer, find a glass bottle with a message in it that changes their lives forever. The world it's about may include things like genetic hybrids of animals, very earthy, nature-like elements. There's a reason why the music is largely based on folk and bluegrass music. That kind of music fits with green, soil-based environments. And I really think combining that with chamber instrumentation and progressive rock intricacies, makes for a truly fulfilling recipe.

The only thing is, knowing this record is as rewarding as it is, and there's five more to go, being able to continue this quality may be their only real challenge ahead. That, and everything that happens with the television series. But it being the "Epilogue" release, it's the final 2 volumes in the telling of the story, as well as a outline or template for what will come. And the records I guess are to be released chronologically in reverse. So the next release titled "Mars/Brighton II" will be Volume 5, and Volume 4 is set to follow that one, etc.

It should be very intriguing to follow over the next 5+ years. But no matter what, this long awaited debut will stand as the best release I heard in the year 2010.