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SJW

MOMENTS OF MAGNITUDE

RELEASED 1st SEPTEMBER 2011

WHITE DOG MEDIA

 

 

The words progressive, interesting and the fact that I'm not going to stamp this release with a convenient generic label is sure to put some of you off, but really it shouldn't. This is a really enjoyable, well-rounded collection of songs that has a lot to recommend it to lovers of all kinds of rock.

 

If you like a bit of progressive rock you'll find echoes here of lots of bands you will be familiar with. There's definitely more than a hint of Rush especially in the earlier songs though we run the gamut and at times you can feel the warm caress of everyone from a less-metal/more-rock Queensryche to the Police. Indeed Simon's voice does at times remind you of a more subdued Geoff Tate or a tuneful Geddy Lee, with more than a hint of Jon Anderson thrown into the mix.

 

The best thing here though the variety: we get the full-blown Rush sure, but we also get choruses you can sing along to rather than consult your dusty tomes, and also songs that reference, refract and distil simpler pop-rock fare.

 

So if you like the obvious Rush and Yes and Genesis but hanker after bands that have the distinction of say Kings X or pay a passing nod to Queen you should take time to check them out.

 

Opener ‘Constant Motion’ showcases the more complex side of the band its melodic prog (with a small ‘p’) but of the kind that won’t alienate a more traditional rock audience, a definite high point and along with songs like ‘Is This?’ and ‘Distant Rider’ it will catch your attention and having you hit replay.

 

‘Unturned’ is the tipping point between Rush and Queensryche and fits well. And whilst ‘By the Way’ may well be the proggiest offering here but it does have me thinking of great underappreciated bands like Kings X, so push on if it doesn’t connect as there’s plenty more on offer.  

 

The hint of funk that drives the bass of ‘Mercury’ opens up a song that does everything right and leads into the eloquent ‘Heavy Cargo’ that has a welcome Queensryche heaviness and shade to it that has you wondering if they will explore this just a little more, it could well be our favourite track. Closer ‘The Hero and the Tragedy’ though with its driving riff takes the cake and had Mark Rockpit asking who the hell that was! Very nice indeed coming from someone not known for their love of all things prog!  

 

The riff to ‘The Heel’ makes you think of bands like Nirvana but of course it’s not that straightforward and then ‘Chasing Time’ starts off all early Rush but with a melodic chorus that particular band would be unlikely to countenance. Sometimes it’s that juxtaposition of styles and ideas that get you thinking. Is this prog pop? Then you think who cares – it works whatever it is!

 

‘We Pretend’ comes over something akin to The Cars, a simple riff and a soaring chorus with a lovely guitar refrain. It’s probably the song with the most ‘air and space’ in it and a really nice slab of rock-pop, that’s lifted even higher by that guitar. Another of the highlights.

 

You don’t get a lot of albums these days that make you think and make you want to rock. This is one and it will be a sad day indeed if this goes under most people’s radars.

 

I was going to review SJW’s earlier release here too, but that deserves it’s own space – so stay tuned!

 

 

By Jo Rockpit