In 2008 Background Magazine received General Winter's Secret, a debut album made by a couple of American musicians called The Tea Club. While listening to this album I discovered that it hardly contained progressive rock influences, but rather mainstream and guitar-orientated music. The album contained a kind of post-punk energy defined as a crossover album with some catchy rock hooks. I sent General Winter's Secret to one of our reviewers, but the disc never reached its destination and got probably lost in the mail. Two years later the band released their second album called Rabbit. I was afraid that it might get lost again, so I decided to review this one myself.
Well, I have to say that it isn't a punishment at all to listen to this album over and over again. The Tea Club succeeded in recording a very enjoyable album for the readers of Background Magazine, especially for those who enjoy the music of bands like Blackfield, Muse, Anathema, The Pineapple Thief and Oceansize. Compared to General Winter's Secret the progressive rock influences are more prominent. The people responsible for this pleasant sounding album are two brothers: Patrick McGowan (guitar, vocals) and Dan McGowan (guitar, vocals). Together they created a wonderful guitar sound, although they hardly perform any solos on their instruments. However, I must confess that I didn't really miss them. The guitar riffs are strong enough to keep the groove going especially with a rhythm section consisting of Becky Osenenko (bass) and Kyle Minnick (drums). Another important note on Rabbit is the addition of guest keyboardist Tom Brislin, an amazing and experienced player who had toured with Yes, Camel, The Syn and Renaissance. His contribution adds some fine keyboard layers to the overall sound providing most of the tracks a progressive rock sound that I missed on the band's debut.
It's difficult to name any favourite tracks on Rabbit. Maybe Simon Magus and Diamondized because on these tracks the band took the finest ingredients of the music performed by Muse and turned it to wonderful compositions. It might be Astro as well, the longest piece on the album containing wonderful keyboard parts that lift the song to a higher level. The synthesizer solo on this eleven-minute epic piece is really awesome. However, the mellower piece Royal Oil Can is without doubt one of the highlights as well. Here, the acoustic guitars and the very peaceful vocals sound very relaxing.
If The Tea Club will record more music in the style of Astro for their next release, I think they might become as big as the above-mentioned bands. More prog rock devotees will find their way to the music of The Tea Club; no doubt about that. After listening to Rabbit several times, I'm very positive about this band. It's only a matter of time for others to follow.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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