Thursday, October 13, 2011

Still Looking For the (Music) Answers

From time to time on this blog, I like to go outside the world of comics and talk about other things for which I am emphatically enthusiastic. Dig through this blog or read the header above it and you’ll know that usually means either baseball or music.

Well, we have another post-season without any of my teams in it. The games have been fun to watch even still, but I am already looking forward to the time between the end of the World Series and the start of Spring Training to see what moves the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants make. Anything can happen (see: Arizona Diamondbacks going from 90+ losses in 2010 to 90+ wins in 2011).

I have to believe the Giants will be front-runners in 2012 with their strong pitching, the return of Buster Posey and some young talent developing to go along with veteran players.  The A’s continue to be a low-budget team that develops a lot of talent but rarely sees that talent pay off for the A’s  at the major league level (see: LA Dodgers Andre Ethier, Colorado Rockies Carlos Gonzalez and Texas slugger Nelson Cruz as three players the A’s developed in the minors but were traded before they blossomed into big league stars).

OK, so that’s enough baseball (for now, anyway). So let’s talk music.

When you visit Flying Colors, there’s always music playing. Even when the baseball is on the TV, the sound is off while the music goes on. The music we play here is a vital part of the atmosphere and I’m always happy when we get good comments about the stuff we play.  

Our play-list features favorites from our Flying Colors Retailing Brigade members which includes lots of classic rock, some new music from across the rock and pop spectrum, plus the occasional forays into jazz. There’s a heavy emphasis on my favorites….you know, since I’m the boss and everyone wants to keep me happy. My tastes range from even more classic rock, lots of indie power pop and new and classic progressive rock, along with the occasional soundtrack and Big Band.

But what’s “Progressive Rock,” you may ask? Well, a few years back on this blog, I wrote a piece about progressive rock and my favorite current band that plays that varied style of music--- the mighty Spock's Beard--- a band that would be HUGE if radio programmers actually cared about a fuller range of music. You can read that post HERE!

But I digress!

There is another band that released their debut CD within the last few months getting a lot of airplay here at Flying Colors. The band is called 41POINT9… and the disc is called “Still Looking For the Answers.”

Well, when it comes to the melodic side of prog-rock, I believe I’ve found The Answer with this release. But honestly, I'm still looking for the answers of how to put into words how much I'm enjoying this debut effort from 41POINT9. 

Let’s start with the name. Douglas Adams, science fiction author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” wrote about a group of super-intelligent otherworldly beings demanding to learn the “Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.” They specially construct a supercomputer, known as Deep Thought, just for the purpose of finding “The Answer.”  Seven and half million years later, Deep Thought has the answer, which turns out to be 42. While the Answer is found, The Question remains a mystery.

Well, if The Ultimate Question is “What is perfection?” and the answer came back “42,” then I figure 41POINT9 has to be pretty close to perfect. At least in prog circles, anyway…

So, here come Bob Madsen, Brian Cline and Kenny Steel, with a little help from some of their friends (including drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Jimmy Keegan from the mighty Spock’s Beard), and they’re all “still looking for the answers.”

On the CD’s second track, we hear a song that fits the mood of the country right now. “Living In Hard Times” recalls without aping the dramatic Genesis opus called “Driving the Last Spike,” as both are longer songs that tell tales of trying to persevere through miserable circumstances. 

“Building Blocks” feels like a lost gem from the Alan Parsons Project, with its driving bass, Brian Cline’s Eric Woolfson-like vocals and the harmony-laden pop hook in the chorus.  
“Surface Tension” is an instrumental that rocks with the fusion-like precision and melodicism of Brand X. 
“Promise the Moon” is a more gentle, romantic ballad that also breaks into a memorable chorus. The closing track “The Torch” is an almost country-like ballad that would seem to fit comfortably with Guns N’ Roses “November Rain.”  The title track continues with the onslaught of melody, this time feeling like it was inspired by the late great band Level 42… and it makes me wonder if there wasn’t some nod to Level 42 in the naming of this band. 

But whether inspired by Douglas Adams’ pursuit of perfection, the glossy production of Level 42 or the story-telling songs of  Genesis, I do believe 41POINT9 should have called themselves 100% because that's the success rate they have on this CD.

I confidently recommend this CD to those who love any of the bands mentioned, throwing in Journey, too…as 41POINT9 has the sound of a band ready to be heard by a much wider audience. 

41POINT9 "Still Looking For The Answers" is available from the band's web-site HERE! (where you can also get lyrics and behind the scenes info about each song) ...and  from ProgRock Records HERE!

Peace n' proggy goodness! 


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