Band: Contrarian

CD Title: “Minor Complexities”

Band Website: www.contrariantheband.com

Label: Independent Recording

Label Website:

Release Date: 2007

 

Part of the challenge for fans of any musical genre is simply keeping up with the new bands coming out of the woodwork. And strange as it may seem this is true even within the progressive rock genre. I’m always pleased to hear from new bands looking to get their music exposed to a wider cross section of prog fans. I recently received a package from the Trenton, N.J. based bandContrarian who just released their first CD entitled Minor ComplexitiesContrarian is a trio consisting of Joseph L. Leming (vocals, percussion), Timothy G. Boney (guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals) and Michael J. White (drums). All three have years of musical experience performing in various bands in the Trenton area. They have the assistance of Lance Cockrell (violin) and Eric Jorgenson (cello). Now on first listen you’d swear you were listening to some long-lost Kansas recording from the Monolith era. The sound crafted by Contrarian is that distinct Ameri-prog with a strong emphasis on guitar and drums utilizing the keyboards and especially the violin to develop the symphonic aspect to their music. In this specific case Leming’s vocals bear a distinct resemblance to Steve Walsh, both in terms of style and range. Now, all of this influence would be for naught if the band’s original material didn’t hold up, but I was pleased to say that it does.

 

There are 12 tracks on Minor Complexities, most of which are in the 5 - 6-minute range. The longest of the bunch times out at just over 10 minutes. This is progressive rock that is distinctly song-based, no long solo musical excursions here, rather most of these compositions place an emphasis on tight performance and with the technology available it’s hard to believe there are only three guys playing. Many of the songs will feature changes in time and tempo; grand opening flourishes are countered with straight forward anthemic rock sections. The most symphonically proggy songs tend to be the longer ones like “Operation Overlord” (6:12), “Fear and Trembling” (10:15) and “Plato’s Cave” (5:37). These tend to be the songs which feature some powerful violin again drawing the Kansas comparison. Another thing I really liked was Contrarian write songs that expect you to think about the stuff they’re singing about, even when the songs are more or less straight forward rockers. The band encourages this in the lyric booklet by placing a two line introduction to each of the songs indicating the lyrical inspiration. It’s then left up to the listener to place the lyrics in context.

 

I must admit to being partial to Contrarian’s more progressive side. There is simply no denying the longer songs are better for holding the musicianship up for display. Although a track like “Barricades” (5:38) quickly became a favorite of mine as well, with its off-kilter staccato accents and violin work providing a strong contrast to the more straight forward rock segments. I’d love to see the band craft more material in that direction. For a first time effort together I give Contrarian’s Minor Complexities high marks and look forward to hearing what they come up with next time.

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