Here’s a band that has learned how to use their best musical influences to combine considerable chops and solid songwriting skills, creating brilliant pop-inspired prog
12 tracks 53:43
“We're longing for substance, but we settle for style / Remain blind to the essence and can't reconcile.” So goes the chorus of “Sometimes Nothing,” a song from the second project by the wonderful band known as We Came From Space. Contrary to the words of the aforementioned song, this is a band that has plenty of both style and substance. The music is influenced by Classic Rock, informed by Prog, and always has a pop sensibility about it, creating many a hook and avoiding the pitfalls of meandering prog pretentiousness. The lyrics are intelligent and show a sense of humor, even though there are some dark observations here on modern culture. “Digital desolation / We're the techni-generation / Slaves to our own innovation / And just too blind to see” – from “Eye to Eye.”
The ghosts of Kansas, The Beatles, Mountain, Led Zeppelin and others inhabit the aural landscape but the band never imitates - and if you’re going to be haunted by some rock and roll ghosts it might as well be giants like those!
Bill Hubauer (Vocals, Keyboards, and who knows what-else), Dave Buzard (Vocals, Electric Guitars), Tim Malone (Drums and percussion), and Dave Hawk (Vocals, Bass) create music with interesting parts, changing rhythms, and intricate structures yet the songs never sound forced or pretentious. The playing is superb by all. Hubauer’s keyboards are a delight throughout, whether in piano, mellotron, or organ mode (personally, I dig the organ work), His solo following Buzard’s equally powerful Kansas-like guitar solo on “Business as Usual” is worthy of special mention. After the tempo change on that same track Malone gets to strut his stuff with some delicious drum fills that should delight all of the drummers out there. Hawk’s bass playing is solid and melodic – he really gets to have some fun with some fancy riffing at the very end of “Out of Phase” (listen to the fade).
Of course, Hubauer has been seen ‘vocal coaching’ the harmony parts on behind-the-scenes videos of The Neal Morse Band and he brings that same sense of harmony and vocal calisthenics to We Came From Space. “Sometimes Nothing” features some Crosby, Stills, and Nash influence and features that substance and style mentioned earlier. Bill’s solo voice sound more like Bill Hubauer on this project, where he’s not required to be the vocal chameleon that he sometimes becomes with The Neal Morse Band – which is a good thing, since Hubauer has a great range and an emotional style that works well in any context. All of the lead vocals on the album are excellent, although I’m not yet sure which lead vocals belong to Buzard and which to Hawk. So we actually have a Buzard and a Hawk in the same band? Go figure…
While You Were Away has a lot going for it, even down to the song transitions (which seems to be a lost art these days) - phone signals, radio station surfing (with really delightful little sound bites), and other unexpected sounds often end one song and lead right into another. Certainly, there’s variety here, even though the album is quite unified and the band’s sound never escapes from them. If you’re looking for a tour-de-force like Bill’s “Ways of a Fool” (from the Neal Morse Band’s last album) listen to “The Mission.” Feel more like some ska, a la Devo or Men at Work? Listen to “All Rights Reserved.” Want some classic British Invasion Beatles-influenced pop? Try “Vivid Colors.”
We Came From Space is a band that has learned how to use their best musical influences to combine some considerable chops and solid songwriting skill. The result is While You Were Away. Hopefully, they won’t stay away quite as long to deliver the next album.
-Bert Saraco www.facebook.com/express.image