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Simon Phillips, Protocol III (Phantom Recordings)




Cartesian Jetstream, Ancestors (Ballagroove Records)

Politely lauded by NME, the BBC and some half-interested British blog lemmings, this Isle of Man indie trio have emulsified all the influences of their debut 2013 Sleep Over LP in the hope of finding their own sound, and they’ve found success at that: Ancestors sounds like a collection of rejected tunes that 1960s hacks might have sent to the producers of The Monkees. There’s plenty of jangle and plenty of pop, tambourine, half-plugged guitar, forgettable vocal lines that make you think of mellow-mode Fugazi — this is like Versus on an Austin Powers trip. All that being said, I wasn’t passing out from disgust over it; in fact “Foxes” has a nice, summery Byrds-lifted arpeggio and comfortable-enough backing vocals, and “Transparent Eyelids” made me picture a skinny kid brother version of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Lots to like if you’re into Lou Reed, too, such as “Slightly Real,” but the main issue is a lack of variation in the songs, like most of them were stamped out of the same mold and hastily scribbled lyrical features applied for differentiation’s sake. I swear they’re all written in the same key, too. B- Eric W. Saeger




Simon Phillips, Protocol III (Phantom Recordings)
CD Reviews: June 4, 2015

06/04/15
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



Simon Phillips, Protocol III (Phantom Recordings)

There aren’t a whole lot of session players who’ve been involved in as many old-time  arena-rock projects as 58-year-old drummer Simon Phillips, whose resumé credits include The Who, Judas Priest and Tears For Fears. His first solo record, 1988’s Protocol, was hater-bait for a lot of reasons, most notably that he wasn’t good enough of a guitarist or keyboardist to pull off a one-man operation, and shortly after his second attempt, Force Majeure, he became Toto’s full-time drummer. He managed to squeeze out a few solo records during that time, but resumed his full-time bandleader role with 2013’s Protocol II, obviously the predecessor to this one. PII was the long-awaited real-deal do-over, featuring whiz-bang cohorts that included guitarist Andy Timmons and keyboardist Steve Weingart, the same bunch that played on this one. So ends the overlong CSI, the product of which is this set of singer-less fusion/hard-rock originals that would have fit in fine during Yes’s 90125 phase, particularly “Outlaw,” a head-bashing riff-rocker. The best track, opener “Narmada” wants to be John McLaughlin with an attitude, which Timmons pulls off nicely, while “Amrita” sort-of delivers on the press-release’s world-music promises with rote Spyro Gyra chill. B Eric W. Saeger





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