'Above Gravity' is the title of Plastic Yellow Band's latest musical effort. On the ISI Music label, the album just dropped. Plastic Yellow Band's sound/style is described as New Classical Rock. Translation: new music that resembles the popular rock music of the 1960s and 1970s. Or to put it another way, new stuff that is recycled and repackaged old stuff. No offense intended. And none should be taken, because face it, in one sense, all music is recycled and repackaged old stuff.
Plastic Yellow Band's major influences are Pink Floyd-like progressive rock, along with John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. Lennon's influence pervades the album; in fact, although the vocalist eschews out-and-out mimicry, his phrasing is an exact duplicate of Lennon's.
'Above Gravity' comprises nine tracks. 'Starlight', a twenty-one minute monster of a song, is the first track. The very length of the song harks back to 1970's prog rock, when bands like Pink Floyd and Robin Trower put together protracted, mesmerizing songs that meandered like extended jam sessions. A piano provides 'Starlight's' intro, followed by distorted vocals that for some reason seem out of place. As the song proceeds, various tempos and themes are explored. The highlight is a snarling guitar solo tumescent with raw emotion. 'America' begins with a Lennon-like intro, then jumps into a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band melody. 'You Lied To Me' is another prog rock number that rides a strong organ and crisp drums. Excellent vocals are complemented by hefty guitar licks on the chorus.
The band changes gears on the next track, 'Heaven Can Wait', which opens with R&B guitar riffs that segue into a vicious, almost punk beat. Dense, wailing guitars form the song's signature sound. Next up is 'Two Virgins', an indie-rock tune replete with superb background vocals and guitar work that replicates George Harrison.
'When I Rock' is pure 1960's rock and roll. It resembles early Beatles' stuff, like 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and 'She Loves You'. What sets it apart is a blazing guitar solo. 'Promises', a prog rock piece, exudes a definite Pink Floyd influence, with its lethargic, slightly psychedelic melody. The best song on the album is 'Pain', an indie-rock tune with a nice beat and attractive melody. The drummer demonstrates his talent with brilliant cymbal accents and an extended snare. Most drummers extend the bass drum, but the best drummers extend the snare.
On the last track, 'Dressed In Her Lace', the band switches inspiration, moving away from Lennon and the Beatles to the Byrds. The melody exhibits an exaggerated delicacy, strong harmonies and Byrd-esque jangle. It's a nice tune that evokes nostalgia, along with a certain amount of broodiness. Although probably meant to appeal to contemporary listeners, the album's likely audience is Baby Boomers and Old Hippies, who will recognize and identify with the music on 'Above Gravity'. Still, there's no denying the fact that the music falls just a bit short of Lennon and the Beatles and Pink Floyd. There's nothing like the real thing.
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The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.