First Listen: The Beard Still Grows

For those of us who are “old-timers,” still somewhat stuck in the 1970’s, band personnel changes can be among the most significant events in music-making.  Perhaps this is still true, but my sense is that it has become much more taken-for-granted as part of the “prog” landscape.  I’ve been taking it slow with my forays into Spock’s beard, and singing the praises of patience, of not being hasty.  I haven’t yet commented on X, though I have listened once, and the post will come.

But a quick “first impression” moment for the newest release, number eleven, Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep (2013), is too hard to resist.  While I will need another careful listen to decide completely exactly what I think of the addition of Ted Leonard’s vocal stylings to the mix, the impression there is by no means a seriously negative one.  And more importantly, everything else seems to point to the ongoing vitality of SB’s musical ethos.  That ethos pulsates here with an entrancing blend of hard-edged rocking and soundscape sculpting, with what seems just the right amount of fealty to the “tradition” (a weighty word that I hope is not too burdensome) of progressive rock.  Both composition and lyric-writing come across, on my first listen, as quite consistent with the high standards set by (sorry for the persona-centric specificity of historical reference) the “NdV era” Beard.

I will listen again.  But that first listen was no disappointment.  If you have had that nagging, subtle fear of change, as I have in this case, and if you’ve found value in the judgements that I’ve rendered so far, then you should definitely listen.  The Beard still grows.  These guys still rock!

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One thought on “First Listen: The Beard Still Grows

  1. carleolson

    Thanks, Pete, for this mini review. I’ve not listened to much of SB since Neal Morse left, so I’m not a good judge of the band’s recent arch, but after three listens, I’m quite positive about this line-up and album. It helps, of course, that I’m an Enchant fan of many years. Leonard is a very good vocalist, and I found the songs and sound immediately attractive. That was not the case for me with Leonard’s recent project with Affector (“Harmagedon”), which was very well played but left me completely cold. Of course, a concept album based on premillennial dispensationalist eschatology is going to be a hard sell for me, and the sometimes cheesy lyrics did not help at all. Anyhow, thumb’s up for “Brief Nocturnes…”!

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