(All Album Reviews by jlneudorf)
New Jersey band The Tea Club are back with the follow up to General Winter’s Secret Museum entitled Rabbit. In the band are Patrick McGowan (vocals, guitar), Dan McGowan (vocals, guitar), Becky Osenenko (bass), Kyle Minnick (drums) and guest musician Tom Brislin, who has worked with Yes, Camel and Renaissance, on keyboards.
Their first album was excellent and the new one may be even better . The addition of keyboards was a great move as Brislin adds that extra layer of atmosphere and is a perfect complement to the band’s sound. The band plays a moody brand of contemporary progressive rock and Brislin’s keys gives this music a dream-like quality. He prefers a more subtle approach as he provides support for the other instruments although he does add the occasional solo. The guitars are used in much the same way as the keyboards, with the riffs and chords swirling about the surface setting the perfect mood. No rapid fire solos here and I do not miss it one bit. Rabbit is a mellower album than General Winter’s Secret Museum and maybe even a bit more progressive as the band has really upped the ante as far as dynamics are concerned. The music is lush and melodic and should even appeal to those not familiar with progressive rock. Folks, trust me when I say this is outstanding stuff and one of the year’s best albums.
All of the album’s nine songs are of extremely high quality and “Simon Magus”, the album’s first is no exception. Gentle guitar phrasings blend with different moods and atmospheres as the music builds but never gets heavy. The more subdued parts feature keyboard soundscapes and the lead vocals are outstanding, reminding me of a more restrained Matthew Bellamy of the band Muse. The McGowan brothers share vocal duties throughout the album and do an excellent job.
The moody “Diamondized” features slightly dissonant guitars, generating an eerie and somber atmosphere leading to sweet acoustic guitar and interesting drum patterns. “The Night I Killed Steve Shelley” starts out heavier with a crunchier guitar riff before leading to an ambient section with lush choral background vocals before entering a final phase of spacey/psychedelic atmospheres. The lovely “Royal Oil Can” is as peaceful and serene as the album gets with sparse instrumentation and a definite Beatles influence, especially in the vocal harmonies. “Out Of The Oceans” at times reminded me of XTC with its completely infectious rock groove and outstanding vocal arrangement with an ambient section that slowly builds as the drums and cymbal work gets more intense. The impassioned vocal performance is spine tingling. The melodic “He Is Like A Spider” features tasty guitar and keys and a dreamy middle part that recalls The Beatle’s Abbey Road with its superb vocal harmonies.
Pretty acoustic guitar runs all the way through the Floyd-like “Tumbleweeds” and the album ending “Astro” features musical build ups, fuzzy guitar and complex drum patterns with Osenenko’s audible bass groove leading the way.
Rabbit is a great album which all fans of progressive rock need to hear. If the band continues to put out material of such a high quality there is no telling how popular The Tea Club could become. The Tea Club might just be progressive rocks next big thing as their future seems very bright indeed.