Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Sun

Domestic greetings fellow progheads!  Once again the concert closet has returned to the "good ol' USA" in the search for all things prog.  Perusing a map with a keen eye and eager ears, I am led to the left coast where I have found great music and excellent bands in the past...so the question is; do I feel lucky?  Why, yes as a matter of fact I do--lucky and blessed.

Curiosity may have killed a few cats, but it has brought me some great progressive music--and this week is no different.  Fitting that as we enter a new week and approach a new month while encroaching on a new season, I am enjoying the sounds of New Sun.

New Sun is a prog band performing what they call "dynamic heavy progressive rock that is...cinema for the ears." Well alright then...consider my attention grabbed.  Cinema for the ears is a visual I can certainly appreciate and enjoy. New Sun hails from the Silicon Valley, so let us discover together if northern CA is a leader in something other than high-tech innovation...

Taking a slightly different approach to the buffet this week, I am sampling servings from New Sun's 2012 release titled "Damage Done."  In an attempt to come off randomly, I start in the middle of the disc with a tune called "Miscreants."  The song opens easy enough; vocals leading into a smooth guitar riff and drums filling the sound out.  I get a sense of Alan Parsons Project meets Kansas on this track; there is depth and emotion backed with strong guitar and percussion.  New Sun shines in the "Not Your Father's Prog" section of the garden--and that is remarkably refreshing out of the gate.

My next sampling is the first cut on the disc called "Shards in the Sand."  Another opening on the mellow side. New Sun places as much emphasis on the vocals as they do the instrumentation...a trait some bands fall short on.  New Sun plays deep and a bit dark...the music hits you square but it is not a fatal blow--more akin to a soothing darkness falling over an unsuspecting crowd...you are at peace and feeling content, unaware of the black clouds racing across the horizon.  To paraphrase the warning on the passenger side rear view mirror, the sounds of New Sun are much deeper than they appear...

Liner Notes...New Sun is Chris Trujillo drums and vocals, Chris Elio vocals, Christopher Scott Cooper guitars, vocals, and keyboards, and Alex Kley bass.  Side Note: Alex may want to change his name to a variation of Chris to avoid confusion.  New Sun first shone in 1993, founded by D.L. Erickson and Christopher Scott Cooper.  The band went through several mood swings and different persuasions of progressive music in the beginning, and Erickson ultimately left the band to pursue his personal tastes and interests for ambient music and guitar craft.  Like many new bands out of the gate, New Sun continued to mature and grow, adding influences of Tool, Pink Floyd, and Porcupine Tree.  Alex Kley left the band only to come back into the fold as New Sun continued to find its identity.

More collaboration and experimentation led to two singles being released in 2009...both of which are on Damage Done.  Chris Elio became a member of New Sun in 2010 as New Sun found itself treading on new soil in the prog garden.  New Sun has more tricks up its proverbial sleeve and the promise of a new release in 2014 that takes the band and listener in yet another direction.

My third listen for review this week is a song called "Antigravity."  New Sun marks it territory with a trademark guitar intro leading to a strong vocal opening.  I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the strength of the lyrics New Sun wraps with music in these songs.  In the prog world lyrics can sometimes be overlooked for the sake of unbelievable guitar work, although some bands (very few if I may allow my "prog snob"attitude to bleed through) master both the music and the lyrics...see King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. While it may be premature to chisel the name New Sun onto that stone, strong lyrics entwined with the proper accents of guitars, drums, and keyboards make New Sun an outstanding choice for both the classic prog fan and the novice listener looking for a music education.

The cut posted here is the title cut, "Damage Done."  I thought this was the best way to introduce you to the band and the sound.  Despite being a live performance the recording is clean and crisp.  Chris Elio cuts right through the guitars to deliver a strong vocal performance and the drums keep everybody reigned in. New Sun has been through several personnel, mood, genre, and attitude changes...and managed to emerge all the better for it. Learn more about New Sun at http://www.new-sun.com/.  Just remember to have an open mind, a fresh attitude, and a zest for the latest harvest from a new section of the prog garden.

Once again fellow progheads new ground has been broken and new sounds unearthed.  One week seems like such a short time to dig deep into the heart and soul of a prog band...although it does whet the appetite for more.  New Sun has cultivated a sound that draws from classic prog while being able to stand up on its own.  Do yourself a favor and buy the CD, then take a long ride to nowhere in particular and listen to it repeatedly...could be a cure for road rage.

I hope you enjoyed this new wing of the concert closet; reviewing not only a band but a particular CD is new territory for me and I hope you enjoyed the reading as much as I enjoyed the listening and the writing.  New Sun is developing a sound that rides all three rails; deep lyrics, strong vocals, and exceptional instrumentation.  The mood is deep and thought provoking--which is always a plus in my book.  Cinema for the ears indeed...until next week...      



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