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Making progress
Of the Hour stretch out on Entropy
BY BOB GULLA

Of the Hourís new album, Entropy, has some grand aspirations. In parts it sounds like modern prog-ish outfits like Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. At other times, when it rocks out, they have the conviction of a band like Live (where are they now, incidentally?), and when they take it down a notch, the quartet spews vibes like mid-í70s era Pink Floyd. All of this means that Of the Hour isnít your standard issue rock band, and Entropy, their debut, is anything but a hackneyed outing.

Thereís something to be said for stepping off the trail, for setting your sites on a goal not often fired at. Sure, itís good and all to be a punk band or, say, a thrash outfit, but think of how difficult it is in those cases for a band to set itself apart from the pack. Ainít nothing wrong with a punk, like I said. But there is something strangely boring about 30 punk bands in the same town trying to rearrange the same three chords night after night after night.

Anyway, Of the Hour doesnít have that problem, since they tread across vastly different soundscapes from song to song. "Evolution of Things," for example, is a polished and cohesive exploration of Jeff Buckley-era passion-rock mixed with a prog-ish arrangement. "Strange the Way It Is" begins with a crawling guitar line, which leads into a spidery, Rush-like chorus. Itís introspective and rich, with excellent attention paid to detail, melodically and lyrically, and just enough subtle shifts in motif to keep the experience slightly off balance.

"Like Sun To a Vampire" illuminates the bandís potent use of dynamics, as it shifts and swells through electric, acoustic, quiet, and heavy passages. The bandís ability to write both effective melodies and counter-melodies ó with impressive production/fidelity ó points to the fact that these guys have been there before in some way or shape. Dave Witham (vocals, keys), Josh Karten (guitars), Nick Sollecito (bass), and Alex Chapman (drums, percussion) like to refer to themselves as "prog rock without the chops" and the fact is there is probably no better five-word description for Of the Hour. And besides, who says you have to play "lights out" when the genre du jour is prog?

Witham sums it all up in the bandís website bio. "Music is supposed to be a reflection of the artistsí personality, so it seems fitting that the music should encompass all parts of human emotion, like fear, love, hatred, humor, joy, or whatever other emotions that could be felt at one point in oneís life." One must agree, musnít one?

Of the Hourís CD release party will be at the Century Lounge on Friday, June 10. Also appearing will be the Milwaukees (from NJ) and Rebecca Nurse. The show starts at 9 p.m., costs $5, and is 18-plus. Go to www.ofthehourband.com for details.

Lightning Strikes. File this one under "Bad Luck." Kevin Crandall, a good friend of local blues, was struck by lightning on June 1 ó and not metaphorically either ó in one of those hellacious spring storms. Word has it heís now in a coma at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in New London. Kevin was in the High Rollers for a few years in the early í90s and was on the bandís first release, Lonesome Tears In My Eyes. He replaced Dave Howard on vox and harp until Howard returned to the lineup. We wish Kevin and his family and friends all the best and we hope thereís music of some kind in his immediate future.

Downcity Signal. Weíve been informed that DownCitySignal (www.downcitysignal.com), the Rattlehead web station, is once again operational. Though the design is purportedly "still fluid" and there will be changes over the next few weeks, the big changes have been rendered successfully. So you oughta go and check it out. The stationís capacity for programming has grown massively. When you hit the "Signals" page youíll see a crazy stew of programs ó live stuff, studio stuff, random stuff, carefully selected stuff, even a radio show. And it all comes courtesy of and for musicians and fans of the local scene. The staff also built its own Flash player for the site. And thereís something in the works at Rattleheadquarters called the AreciboNet Project, about which more details will be forthcoming. But basically, while it hasnít been thoroughly tested, the organization can broadcast, rebroadcast, and/or record nearly anything any listener wants whenever she wants, and anyone in the world can listen in. Cool, eh? So, if youíre feeling adventurous, or if youíre interested in the vast possibilities of these concepts, check in over at Rattlehead and experience the work of some people who really know which end is up.

NE Pop. Organizers are pleased to announce that this year the New England Pop Music Festival will be held September 15 through 17 at the Abbey Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts. The Festival (aka the New England PopFest or the NE PopFest, depending on your abbreviation preferences) is an annual music gala celebrating and showcasing the pop music of New England musicians. This yearís festival, NE PopFest 2005, will feature six bands performing full sets each night. Itís a cool gig. If youíre up for it, the festivalís brain trust is accepting applications from interested parties. See www.nepop.com for more information, or contact Roy Rubinstein at roy@nepop.com.

Wandering Eye. Itís summer, or at least summer-like at last, and that means itís time to get your ass down to South County and Newport, where the breeze is cool and the beer just seems to taste better when thereís sand in sight. Dave Howard and the High Rollers are holding a party at the Bon Vue on Saturday (the 11th) in Narragansett, and on Tuesday (the 14th) at the Newport Blues Café down on Thames Street. Greg Hodde and the Blue Miracles will also be in Narragansett this weekend, on Friday at the Narragansett Café at 9 p.m. Planet Groove plays Area Venue in Newport on Friday, with showtime around 10 p.m. So there are lots of breezy shows in the southern coastal section of your favorite beach state.

In less cool areas, the Fashion Failures play the Green Room on Friday night with Bling Kong (from NYC) and Sibling Rivalry. FF will also play on Saturday at the Safari Lounge; itís a free show. FFís gigs this weekend mark the debut of Dan "Halen" Gendreau (ex-Ellison, the Heaters) as their new lead guitarist.

E-mail me with your music news at big.daddy1@cox.net


Issue Date: June 10 - 16, 2005
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