It’s hard to resist the proggy captatio benevolentiae of the first two tracks on IZZ’s new album, Don’t Panic. Their unmistakable first impression is that the groovy bass guitar sounds exactly like Chris Squire playing for Yes in the 1970s. It’s so good, you’re guaranteed to smile. Trust me!
The multi-vocalist singing is terrific too, and also quite reminiscent of Yes. And, I don’t know whether to attribute it to Anmarie or Laura (or both), but there is a vocal timbre that reminds me of Neko Case singing with The New Pornographers. It’s really fantastic.
“Don’t Panic,” as the first track and as the title track, places front and center the famous phrase from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Very, very cool, and also gracing the prog proceedings with the right dose of whimsy.
Track two, “42,” invokes the number that is famously the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (as we also learned from Douglas Adams). Well, the band didn’t give us a 42-minute song, but they pushed it past 18 minutes; so, how can you not help liking this album, only two tracks in?
Wait, it gets even better. While “Six String Theory” gives us yet more Yes nostalgia, by way of a Steve Howe-worthy (early Yes) acoustic solo guitar piece, suddenly things take an interesting turn with track four, “Moment of Inertia.” There are some nice bits in that track that immediately make you think of King Crimson, but eventually the track becomes what I think is IZZ being very strongly original.
Even better, the album ends with with “Age of Stars,” which also vocally invokes the pleasurable “Don’t Panic” life hack catchphrase yet again, as the album rides out to a perfect conclusion.
Thus, while the album’s first three tracks make things completely irresistible for lovers of early Yes, the best part is when IZZ close out the album with two tracks that present their inimitable selves in all their musical fullness.
It’s a total prog thrill ride, and immensely satisfying. You get the best of both worlds: prog nostalgia about yesterdays (see what I did there?), and yet also a remarkably clever and original musical creation for the present day. Well done, IZZ, and thank you for a first class musical experience.
1. Don’t Panic
3. Six String Theory
4. Moment of Inertia
5. Age of Stars
Paul Bremner: Electric & Acoustic Guitars
Anmarie Byrnes: Vocals
Brian Coralian: Electronic & Acoustic Drums and Percussion
Greg DiMiceli: Acoustic Drums and Percussion
John Galgano: Bass Guitar, Electric & Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Tom Galgano: Keyboards, Vocals
Laura Meade: Vocals