C-Sides - We Are Now

(CD 2016, 68:27, White Knight Records)

The tracks:
  1- Out Of The Water(9:22)
  2- Black Road River(8:52)
  3- Deck Chair City(8:27)
  4- Truth Through Clowns(3:15)
  5- Rock And A Hard Place(10:16)
  6- Before The Fall(3:27)
  7- Living Without Wires(5:17)
  8- Lies In The Open(9:11)
  9- We Are Now(10:19)

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If you have a closer look at the British band C-Sides, you will find a line-up that seems very promising. Because bassist/ lead singer Dan Fry, guitarist/ keyboard player Martin Rosser and drummer Allan Mason-Jones where all former Magenta members. Together they recorded their debut album Devitrification (see review) and released it in 2011. An album that would appeal to pop fans as well to the progressive rock aficionados that go for a very light accessible sound and compositions. Since their debut the line-up has gained bass player Jay MacDonald and vocalist Allen MacCarthy to replace Dan Fry.

In my opinion the change of line-up has some positive aspects; Allan's vocals have a wider range and a much more progressive rock touch to them. On the other hand, musically the combination of pop and progressive rock seems to have gone over to the dark side. The poppy aspect has gained ground over the progressive rock base the songs still have. Vocally Out Of The Water definitely has a poppy touch, while the music sees some Rush influences as well as elements of a band called Live. During the following Black Road River and Deck Chair City; like the opening track, song that last over eight minutes, the progressive rock part does stand out more. Still the vocals, choirs, tend to have that poppy element, but nice acoustic guitar parts and fine bass playing ensure the tracks are kept interesting. Truth Through Clowns is a close to acoustic song, where the first part of the vocals is heavily computerized. The other part reminds me a bit of a soft acoustic track by Life Of Agony or perhaps Keith/ Mina Caputo. Although Rock And A Hard Place musically is pretty nice; a bit too long to keep focussed though, the vocal parts are not really appealing to me, seventies pop style and like I wrote, a way too long composition. Listening further, even the instrumental composition Before The Fall doesn't really get to me, at the end the pace is cranked up, but it's all smooth meandering music. I sit here waiting for things to be spiced up, spices are not on the menu when you listen to We Are Now. During the final tittle track some hunches of the early Wishbone Ash can be found when Martin doubles himself in a guitar part, but this is too late to really impress.

I wanted to give C-Sides the benefit of the doubt I had, but alas the meandering character of the music and the overly present pop elements during the vocal parts, make this an album that isn't appealing enough to me. If you like smooth progressive rock and Magenta, you might check on this album.

*** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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