Song of the day: Graham Czach – "Windows"

November 6, 2010

The lovely Chrissy (Hi, Chrissy!) from Luck Media & Marketing emailed me and wondered if I wanted to have a listen to Lucid (2010), an album by a prog rocker called Graham Czach. I’m a sucker for prog, so I said “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” – or words to that effect. I had a listen to the album and duly reported my first impressions to Chrissy.

Here are those first impressions:

1. “Reincarnate”

This track engendered a few immediate reactions in me:
a) when it began I thought “hippy”;
b) then Graham started singing and I thought “Radiohead” (Graham’s high tenor voice sounds reminiscent of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke);
c) and when the guitars came in, I thought “Muse“. (the drop-D tuning on the guitars, the distortion tone, and the liberal use of octaves all say “Hello, Muse!” to me).
Before I forget, I’d like make a point of mentioning the drumming in this track. I thought it was mighty good. (I found out that the drummer on the album is a chap called Kris Myers. Thanks, Kris, for the drumming.)

2. “Hurry Up And Wait”

This one was much more proggy than the previous track, and subsequently I liked it more. The layered vocals in this one reminded me of Yes. Each time the distorted guitars came in I kept thinking “Ah, prog metal…”, but then the guitars would go away and I’d stop thinking “Ah, prog metal”. And this song felt nowhere near long enough.

3. “Keep You”
I liked the vocal melodies in this one. By the way, I thought that Graham’s double-tracked voice in the choruses sounded a lot like David Gilmour. Which prompts me to say to Graham: “Hey, Graham – any guy who can sound like both Thom Yorke and David Gilmour is one vocally versatile dude.”

4. “Will I Ever”
I can hear a lot of Muse and Radiohead in this one. Nice drumming towards the end of the slow build-up (from, say, 2:17 until 2:49).

5. “Abide”
Very Pink Floyd. (To me, that’s not a bad thing.) Nice vocal harmonies. Nice drums, too, although I wouldn’t have minded them a bit louder in the mix. I liked the piano fills in the last third of the song (starting at about 2:48 – they reminded me of Mike Garson‘s work on David Bowie‘s “Lady Grinning Soul“).

6. “Windows”

I was originally going to be facetious and saying something flippant like “Why name your song after an operating system?”, but then thought better of it. (You – or Graham – certainly don’t want to waste your time reading smart-alec comments from an unhelpful listener.) I liked the chorus. Melodically, that chorus was a real standout on the album.

7. “Gather Round”

This one felt like it had a definite hippy vibe to it. I must admit that I could have done without the “Across The Universe” reference (pinching the “Jai guru…” melody, the first time at 0:27). I’m afraid that inserting bits of Beatles melodies into songs is close to sacrilege for me. However, the two things I liked most about this track were the string arrangements (very busy, but interesting) and the percussion (which sounded like spoons being struck on the sides of bottles).

8. “True Love”
Very nice string arrangement. It sounds like a string quintet, with a cello and double-bass on the bottom end instead of the usual two cellos. It sounds rich and full. And it sounded even fuller at the end when the singing had finished (I’m guessing the strings were doubled there).

9. “Nightmare”
This one was a bit odd. The little interlude (or whatever it was) starting at 2:10 sounded like a mix of prog and musical theatre. (Now there’s a combination you don’t hear every day.) I liked the mood of this track (created by the drum beat and the unchanging root note). I also liked the guitars in this track. Oh: the interlude came back (at 3:42). I guess it’s a middle eight, not an interlude. Anyway, I liked this track. And I liked the surprise heavy-guitar riffing (from 4:58).

I’m enjoying this album.

10. “Choice”
I suppose the drum beat suited the song’s riffs – I guess that’s what Graham wanted – but it made me feel as if I was inside a washing machine on an agitation cycle. Apart from that, I was fine with the track. I guess this song would qualify as ‘prog metal’. I can’t really tell if it is, because I don’t listen to prog metal (which, to me, is defined by bands like Tool), but this is what I imagine prog metal would sound like.

11. “Lost In Life”
A very well recorded acoustic guitar. Plus the reverb on the track is very nice. (Can you enjoy a track for its reverb?) For some reason I’m not terribly clear on, the quieter, acoustic-y moments of this song remind me of The Moody Blues. I like the sound of the bass (from 2:13 onwards) until the instrumental section. I like the instrumental section – and that’s a refreshingly subtle use of synthesized percussion in that part of the track, too.

12. “Goodnight (Lily)”
Hooray! Solo bass! One thing I listen with unnatural enthusaism to is solo bass (mainly because I’m a bass player). Nerd question for Graham: Was the main bass on that track an Alembic?

Well, that’s what I thought on first listen. I’ve heard it a few more times now, and my views aren’t that much different to the ones above. So, rather than bore you even more with a much longer post involving my second, third, fourth, and fifth impressions of the album, I’ll leave it as it is.

If you want to hear more songs from the album, you can do that very thing over at Luck Media’s Graham Czach page.

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