Luminous Newts are brand new to the prog scene. The band started in 2012 and is based in Berkeley, California (USA), formed by experienced musicians. This untitled album is their debut album, and what a debut it is!
But first, let’s talk about the album cover. I really love the newt logo/mascot on the cover. I think more bands need a cool mascot like that! It is even so that animals are well-presented in most song lyrics; Wolves, snakes, kittens, fish…
The album itself is very enjoyable to listen to. This album needed to grow on me, but I really started to appreciate more and more when I listened to it more often. The production is good, although it could be a little more dynamic in the louder parts.
The music is what I call ‘feel good’ prog/rock. Most tracks have a nice tempo, which encourages the ‘feel good’ ambience of the album. It’s a band that is influenced by big prog bands like Pink Floyd and Genesis, but they do not sound like a ‘typical’ old fashioned prog band at all. Thea Kelley is a very good singer, who sings on most of the tracks. Eric Kampman also has a nice, sweet voice. I don’t think that it’s a concept album, but I have the feeling that some tracks are correlated to each other.
The album starts with the track The Wolf Doesn’t Howl So Loud, which has a very funky intro. It’s not really a track what you call ‘prog’, but it does have a great guitar solos that makes the track very interesting to listen to. The second track Up and Out sounds actually very neo prog to me, the changes in the chords and rhythms are neatly done and the keyboard solos are great, this really reminds me of early Genesis. This is my favourite track on the album for sure. The third track Before I Die is a sweet track, the vocal harmonies between Eric and Thea are very dreamy. The fourth track Cult Of Two (Sailing Over The Moon) starts good but it loses my attention during the chorus.
I found out the band has a lot of humour as well! I’m referring to the lyrics in the fifth track St. Patrick And The Snakes where you can hear about Tim’s ‘snake’ in his trousers. Sixth track called Flying Fish is great and pretty ‘folky’, and it shows that Thea dares to do a lot with her voice. The seventh track Waiting (A Bridge To Nowhere) reminds me of the ‘softer’ work from Neal Morse. Sadly the lyrics from the eight track Feel Better Now are missing in the booklet. It’s a fast, short track. Ninth track called Envy is some sort of choir ballad with a powerful chorus. The tenth track Kommie Kitty is a funny track, with a catchy chorus (ooh mao mao). I really love the organ solo on the eleventh track I’m Just Sayin’. It isn’t really a progrock track, but more a blues/soul/funk track. The twelfth track Waiting is a cover, the original track is written by Kevin Gilbert. I think this cover is nicely done and is more vivacious than the original.
My conclusion? I think this album is great despite most music is not my cup of tea. They did a great job for a first album and I will be curious when they will come with a new album. I would love to see this band perform live when they will do a tour.
**** Iris Hidding
- The Wolf Doesn’t Howl So Loud (5:49)
- Up And Out (4:38)
- Before I Die (3:45)
- Cult Of Two (Sailing Over The Moon) (4:12)
- Patrick And The Snakes (3:19)
- Flying Fish (3:33)
- Waiting (A Bridge To Nowhere) (4:50)
- Feel Better Know (3:13)
- Envy (4:06)
- Kommie Kitty (4:13)
- I’m Just Sayin’ (5:17)
- Waiting (3:51)
My review on Background Magazine:
You can listen to some of their tracks here: