Band: Exhibit A
Band Website: www.exhibita.org.uk
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2010
Now this is an interesting item. The origins of Exhibit A go back to the early nineties, and yet this is only the band’s third release. With your roots going back that far it should not be a surprise to expect that era’s sonic influences to be present. And yet it was more than a little unnerving to listen to their new release Make Mine A Lobster and still feel I was in 2010. And I don’t say that in a bad way because these tunes are really quite good, as is the overall proggy approach of the band. This quintet consists of Steve Watts (bass), Nick Hampson (guitar), Dave Foss (vocals), Neil Foss (keyboards) and Paul Caswell (drums). What we have here is a set of tunes that are kind of a cross between early Magnum and early Pendragon.
Make Mine A Lobster is made up of nine tracks all around the four, five or six minute range. As you might expect from my previous reference these are not overly long and complicated compositions instead they are song based with all manner of proggy embellishments. Songs will start off in dramatic fashion, with punchy musical accents before sliding into the familiar verse/chorus arrangements. And yet there are also more than a few subtle shifts in time and tempo that keep everything interesting. Keyboards are quite prominent throughout providing not only the prerequisite sonic landscapes but plenty of solos as well. In fact there’s a lot of interesting interplay between the guitar and the keyboards. The overall tone is part hard-rock mixed with melodic pomp rock. This is a style of prog that we heard a lot of before the advent of heavily distorted crunchy guitar that is so prevalent in prog-metal. The sound here predates that and is a bit of refreshing change.
Exhibit A may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, and some may even question how proggy it really is, but in fact it’s a very engaging listen, partially due to the nature of the songs. On one hand, I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic listening to Make Mine A Lobster it just feels so reminiscent of times past. And yet, there is such a confidence displayed in the performance and song writing that you can’t help like it. If you enjoy the bands mentioned earlier, or the style of bands like Styx you’ll find some enjoyable music here.