Date First Published: 24 June 2018 – Classic Rock Radio (UK)
Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Not A Good Sign – Icebound (2018)
By Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Now that I listened to this enough times, I’ll start off by wishing I had, Not A Good Sign – Icebound, on CD. Heads up, I’m reviewing a digital copy sent to me via someone with connections to the band: Not A Good Sign. Went through my archival website to contact me. Worked! Hoping for a good write up, as do they all. The flip side, intelligent enough to realize that if days, weeks, and months fly by and I don’t mention their newest creation, that I might be doing them a favor. I decline invitations more times than I say, yes. Not enough time in a day thing. It’s flattering to be considered/asked. Has to be something I can work with. Something I honestly ENJOY! Get this. Good reviews are actually harder to compose. As compared to writing a negative summary. I’m a journalist and not a hack. In the professional writing world, being a ‘hack’ is not a good reputation to have. Means you (the reader) can’t believe a single typed word. Might as well be a writer for the Huffington Post, or Rolling Stone Magazine.
Admittedly I have good friendships with people in the music/PR business. Means shit as far as automatically getting a positive article, authored by yours truly. Something you could share with the loved ones. Used to springboard from (sales tool). I have been doing this long enough to realize if I say something nice, that it could mean a rise in sales for whatever it may be. An old altar boy/boy scout. Whatever I author, reflects that. People pick up on such things. And in the process of doing so, I always make sure, due to what I was taught as a child, to include as a part of my writing, among other positive traits; integrity. Least I can do.
A strong wind. The old vibes. Heavy keyboards, wicked electric guitar, combined with a no-nonsense rhythm section. If played loud enough could call upon the spirits of classic progressive rock. Still, not a total retro. They have a personality of their own. Mixed in with the more modern prog landscapes of the day, and a band like ‘Not A Good Sign’ is capable of getting splendid results. I’m offering over a thousand words about their just recently released third studio album. So we”re on the same page, I never heard of, Not A Good Sign, before this. Means ‘Icebound’ is my introduction to the group. New territory. Could be yours as well. Let’s see how chill this is.
Two studio albums in Not A Good Sign’s back catalog:
Not A Good Sign (2013 debut self-titled),
and two years later: Not A Good Sign – From A Distance.
Because of what I’m hearing here, I’ll catch up with the both of them soon.
Going into this writing assignment, I am a tad familiar with some of the musicians that make up this new album: Not A Good Sign – Icebound. Be it either current members or special guests. Did I say ‘Not A Good Sign’ is from Italy? I love the food from there! And the women. My past two wives were full Italian. Hot blooded! Both first generation: American. You know, now that I think of it, maybe I should start eating Chinese more?
“Uncle G” discusses … Not A Good Sign – Icebound (2018)
The imagery sets the tone, in which the CD packaging does to the max. Limited numbers being sold, currently. Hopefully, with this review, they will keep em’ coming. Nowadays my ‘go to’ when playing music, is the compact disc. Digital’s my last pick. Is convenient. If not compressed too much, can sound as good as anything played on the radio. I understand. For my money, I honestly admit to liking something I can physically hold, and even put on a shelf. The first CD I purchased was 26 years ago: Vangelis – 1492: Conquest Of Paradise. Still in my collection, and plays like it did when newly purchased, all those years ago.
Track one on Not A Good Sign – Icebound, hits you like a ton of bricks. A two minute or so instrumental. Has a nice hard rock, kind of feel to it. Excites me. Opens the door to which anything is possible. This is, after all, a real prog-rock band. Studio album number three makes them seasoned professionals. Am confident each contributor (musician) as they were learning music, studied the decades of prog-rock before them, in which progressive rock was formed. In other words, as we say here in America: “They should know their shit.”
As the recording proceeds to the next offering, my wake n’ bake brain thinks at first it’s old school meeting new. The intro rocker (Second Thought) was an impressive start. Track two (Frozen Words) introduces vocals, and in the beginning, a serious mellowing down. Almost the feel of an old jazz bar one would find in a shady part of town. Then it goes ‘full on’ prog! What we pay for! Feels like early Spock’s Beard has entered the building. Nice long instrumental passages. Rocks in a united effort. Offers instances, one can admire the musical abilities of whosoever turn it is. A satisfying mix. Just over seven minutes long.
If having read my music write-ups before, you know that I listen to CDs from start to finish. I don’t skip around (as a rule). I will stop a song after it’s done, and listen to it again. Case in point: Hidden Smile. Track three. Instrumental. Mellow beginning. Smooth sounding electric guitar. Builds from there. Contains a cool, Porcupine Tree vibe. Uptempo. Totally rocks in places. A violin reminds me some of 1970’s Kansas. The tune ‘Hidden Smile’ made me do just that. A grin from ear to ear.
The fourth number (As If), is beautiful and brief.
The next title; Down Below. Follows the tried and true formula again in which the song builds and over time (almost 8 minutes) becomes an excellent showcase for not only the group as a whole unit but showcases individual performances as well.
Track Six entitled: Truth. Splendid instrumental opening. Love the synth! Catchy melody. Vocals fit right in. Consistently engrossing. Strong closing. Track written, played, produced wonderfully. No complaints. The whole album is consistent like this. Cool headphone experience. Burst forth out of my HP computer speakers. Prog Rock … the way it was meant to be.
The last three tracks (Not Yet_Trapped In_Uomo Neve) display how to properly close out an album. From melodic to capable of blowing out those speakers I just mentioned. Maybe I should trade them in for Bose?
“Uncle G” RATES … Not A Good Sign – Icebound (2018)
Using the five-star rating system, whereas one star means it’s simply horrible, to five stars which means for myself, it’s worthy of your time and hard-earned money. I rate ‘Not A Good Sign – Icebound … 5 stars! A digital copy did the job. And it came in handy when I was on occasion out and about the hood, running errands. Totally eliminating otherwise irritating sounds that I might have heard, should I have forgotten my headphones. Things like planes, trains, and oncoming automobiles.
In closing, try to support the bands YOU enjoy. Buy the merchandise. Attend the shows. Money helps grease the wheels that keep the music flowing. In a grown-up world, nothing is free. Here’s a band, if you have the disposable income to spare, you can safely throw some Denaro at, and get a nice exchange. Nothing requiring an antacid.
Additional Details – Music Samples can be found on these websites:
Not A Good Sign Official Website: www.NotAGoodSign.org
Not A Good Sign Official Bandcamp Page: www.notagoodsign.bandcamp.com
And let’s NOT forget…
Gary “Uncle G” Brown Archives: www.GaryUncleGBrownArchives.com