Indie Music Reviewer
Micah ‘Kain’ Rollins
Sea Of Tranquility
Indie Music Reviewer (www.indiemusicreviewer.com)
In the wake of dying intellectuality and a generation with a palate for increasingly bland music, comes an album that will change all of that. With confidence, the Tea Club stormed the modern music scene in October 2010 with Rabbit; a delightfully creepy record that breaks the rules in every way.
Rabbit, their second full length album release, hit the merch tables hard at their shows, and people are loving it. Their recognition is spreading among prog-rock blogs, websites and magazines throughout the northeast, and even heading to the south. The album was released on iTunes as well as hard copies available directly from them at their shows.
If I had to describe the band as a whole, in a way that most people could relate to, it would be this: If Alfred Hitchcock hired Keane to to write music for his films, the Tea Club would be that compilation. (If you haven’t heard Keane go give them a listen)
The sound that Rabbit brought to the music table is something that this writer has never heard. Sure, Genesis has some eerie sounding parts in some songs, and King Crimson has the whole creepy prog rock thing going on at times, but the Tea Club takes it and runs away with it… <continue reading>
James Russell (www.progarchives.com)
Got Rabbit? One of 2010’s finest albums
What do revolutions, re-invented wheels, clocks that don’t work, scarecrows, and Moonfreaks have in common? They were the curios and relics of General Winter’s Secret Museum, the 2008 full length debut by The Tea Club, one of today’s most passionate American progressive rock bands. It was my pleasure to hear their mysterious, hugely rewarding follow-up “Rabbit” and to write an early review. [Note: Since I wrote this review, I’ve learned that The Tea Club line-up has changed. We’ll cover the changes in my interview with them, but I’ve decided to leave this review as written, to honor the people who made this album.]
The Tea Club and producer Tim “Rumblefish” Gilles invested a great deal of heart in this album and their efforts have paid off. It’s a piece of work that takes the promise of General Winter and brings it to another level. It feels mysterious, with some slightly dark undercurrent, more ambitious, more complex, a much longer walk down the moonlit trail. This is a “proggier” album than General Winter which had a post-punk energy and was defined as a Crossover album via some very accessible, downright catchy rock hooks. Rabbit does not give up its secrets as easily, the listener here must spend some time immersing themselves into the musical world laid forth. For The Tea Club did not choose a more commercial path here, this is a band dedicated to their own sound and they’ve stayed true to it. <continue reading>
Micah ‘Kain’ Rollins (www.progarchives.com)
Two years ago, The Tea Club burst onto the scene with their debut, General Winter’s Secret Museum. It was considered a major highlight of that year, and was more or less universally lauded as a truly impressive piece of progressive music. I can remember where I was when I first listened to that album, as well as writing my review of it. I was very different then, and by this point I’d like to think I’ve matured and grown considerably as a person and as an artist. With Rabbit, their second studio release, I’m happy to report that The Tea Club have taken that maturing journey right along with me.
It is quite difficult for me to fully explain the dark, ethereal beauty this album contains without just giving a play-buy-play account, but I will try to give my impressions of the release in as concise a manner as I can. Firstly . . . it just makes sense. Just like its predecessor, this album fits the time it was made in, and never compromises a thing. Plenty of the elements held within the beautiful packaging are still unconventional and bold in their presentation, but something I feel must be pointed out is that in many ways, Rabbit surpasses what came before. To me, that is more impressive than anything else about this striking release. <continue reading>
Ivan Melgar-Morey (www.progarchives.com)
The promising band of 2008 became a reality in 2010
A few days ago I received a PM from my friend “Dan McGowan” announcing me he was sending a copy of the second “THE TEA CLUB” release called “Rabbit”, so immediately went to my archives and checked the review I made for their debut called “General Winter’s Secret Museum” because after receiving and reviewing more than 400 albums, is hard to have all them in the memory.
While checking the review remembered how impressed I was with their debut release despite I’m not a fan of this style, so waited with expectation a new visit of the mailman with my copy of “Rabbit”, and wasn’t disappointed, I believe the band has given several steps forward recording a more mature and daring album, yes it’s shocking and extremely dissonant through long passages, but hey…Breaking boundaries and causing a strong reaction in the listener is what Progressive Rock is about, and this guys have achieved this without loosing the sense of melody. <continue reading>
Robert Walton (www.progarchives.com)
Warning: This album is dangerous. Chances of losing oneself in a dream, very possible…
I am convinced that the McGowan brothers are more than intelligent, emotional, passionate, and creative musicians, but enchanters or sorcerors in their own right, dawning a cosmic besprinkling of notes, chords, and sounds, all which fabricate into a soundscape beyond sound and into a vivid dreamscape. Dan and Pat lull you into your own fantasies, and not by force. Becky, their bassist, is burly and pressing, never twiddling, but massive and full to burst, a giant hand swatting at the swarms of McGowan butterfly interplay. And Kyle, fading in and out, juggling everything in reach, reacts to all of it, balancing the Paul Bunyan bass and Poetic guitars; a drummer who is adventurous, dramatic, and theatrical… the song layout is perfect. Your ears don’t bleed from the sort of intensity found in an album like Bedlam in Goliath nor become exhausted from such albums like The Whirlwind. For 65 minutes it don’t feel like it… in fact, it leaves you wanting more…
I am not afraid to give an album five stars when it deserves it, and this album “Rabbit” deserves it. All those that have insisted on giving this album 4.5 stars should think to round it up, not down (Math class, remember…). It’s ashame that folks can’t give an album five stars simply because they aren’t born in the seventies. I’m not biased when it comes to different prog. styles, or eras, though the 80’s slummed in the creative department… I love it all. Am I going to give all albums I think great five stars, no… but “Rabbit” is a modern day classic in its own right. <continue reading>
Raffaella Berry (progmistress.wordpress.com)
In 2008, New Jersey-based trio The Tea Club’s debut release made waves on the progressive rock scene, and sparked a lot of interest in this youthful new band. A completely self-produced effort, General Winter’s Secret Museum brimmed with freshness, enthusiasm and not inconsiderable chops. Moreover – most important in this age of manufactured, cookie-cutter musical outfits – it sounded original, not sporting its influences too openly. The Tea Club were at the forefront of the new generation of ‘crossover’ progressive rock bands, fuelled by the raw energy of post-punk and indie/alternative rock, with an eye to melody and another to complexity – a power trio for the new millennium, with enough quirkiness and intricacy to appeal to the old-school set, and contemporary-sounding enough to make headway with the younger fans.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the release of Rabbit, the band’s sophomore effort, was eagerly awaited in prog circles. Due to their ideal location right in the middle of the ‘prog hub’ of the US Northeast (the main subject of the documentary film Romantic Warriors), they have been able to gain a loyal following, as well as the opportunity to increase their visibility by playing relatively frequent live shows. Unlike other bands of recent formation, they have never suffered from overhype, and still retain an endearingly down-to-earth attitude. On the other hand, Rabbit comes across as a clearly more ambitious project that its somewhat stripped-down predecessor. With the basic lineup augmented by bassist Becky Osenenko, longer track times (including a couple of almost epic-length numbers) and the unobtrusive but constant presence of the keyboards (manned by an experienced musician such as Tom Brislin, known for his associations with the likes of Yes and Renaissance), the albums marks a shift away from General Winter’s… immediate, hard-rocking impact into more nuanced modern prog territories. <continue reading>
Sea Of Tranquility (www.seaoftranquility.org)
New Jersey band The Tea Club are back with the follow up to General Winter’s Secret Museum entitled Rabbit. In the band are Patrick McGowan (vocals, guitar), Dan McGowan (vocals, guitar), Becky Osenenko (bass), Kyle Minnick (drums) and guest musician Tom Brislin, who has worked with Yes, Camel and Renaissance, on keyboards.
Their first album was excellent, please see my review on this site, and the new one may be even better . The addition of keyboards was a great move as Brislin adds that extra layer of atmosphere and is a perfect complement to the band’s sound. The band plays a moody brand of contemporary progressive rock and Brislin’s keys gives this music a dream-like quality. He prefers a more subtle approach as he provides support for the other instruments although he does add the occasional solo. The guitars are used in much the same way as the keyboards, with the riffs and chords swirling about the surface setting the perfect mood. No rapid fire solos here and I do not miss it one bit. Rabbit is a mellower album than General Winter’s Secret Museum and maybe even a bit more progressive as the band has really upped the ante as far as dynamics are concerned. The music is lush and melodic and should even appeal to those not familiar with progressive rock. Folks, trust me when I say this is outstanding stuff and one of the year’s best albums.
All of the album’s nine songs are of extremely high quality and “Simon Magus”, the album’s first is no exception. Gentle guitar phrasings blend with different moods and atmospheres as the music builds but never gets heavy. The more subdued parts feature keyboard soundscapes and the lead vocals are outstanding, reminding me of a more restrained Matthew Bellamy of the band Muse. The McGowan brothers share vocal duties throughout the album and do an excellent job. <continue reading>
Jerry Lucky (www.jerrylucky.com)
When I was first contacted by the band The Tea Club I got a sense that these guys were serious about making their way in the music world. Interestingly at that time the idea of carving out a niche for themselves in the prog world seemed a bit new although the music on their first disc certainly fit the bill. So now we have their second disc and I gotta tell you I’m just blown away with what these guys have created. The Tea Club have grown to a quartet Pat McGowan (vocals, guitar), Dan McGowan (vocals, guitar) and Kyle Minnick (drums) and the newest member Becky Osenenko (bass). Then to top it off they’ve enlisted Tom Brislin to provide the keyboards. If I had to describe the music on Rabbit, I could do it in two words – Absolutely Stunning!
The nine compositions that make upRabbit seem light years from the music created on the band’s first CD. All the early elements are there, but this time around the music is more crafted, more complex even dare I say it, more interesting. And I really liked their first release; it’s just that this one is so much better in that it offers so much more to the ear. They’ve taken all their compositional approaches and defined them further by adding keyboards or even more proggy structures in places. If you have their first CD, General Winter’s Secret Museum the first thing you’ll notice here is that they’ve pretty much lost the obvious Mars Volta and Rush influences and become The Tea Club. <continue reading>
Organ ‘Zine (www.organart.demon.co.uk)
THE TEA CLUB – Rabbit (self-release) – Ambitiously melodic neo-prog epicness from the North American band who are really going for it this time. The Tea Club are from Philadelphia, New Jersey, they’re not afraid to nail their colours firmly to their mast and fly directly in to the face of fashion. Most of the time they’re in that melodic area that bands like Pendragon, Jadis, Pallas and such occupied in the days before they all got too fat, while some of the darker, more ethereal passages push towards early Rush territory in a rather positive manner. The Tea Club have ambitiously built of the foundations of 2008’s General Winter’s Secret Museum. There’s moments of genuinely rewarding proper prog rock in here along with their neo-melodicness and the somewhat slick delivery. A lot of consideration gone in to those lyrics, some genuinely intelligent, emotional, passionate, and creative moments here, He Is Like a Spider opens like Genesis’ Ripples before it evolves in a way of its own, elsewhere they touch on the vocal delivery of Mars Volta or classic tune-making of Camel. Rabbit is excellent in terms of progressive melodicness and the clean-cut side of neo-prog conventions, Rabbit is also an album that isn’t afraid to adventure a little now and again, take a little risk or two, real progression if you know what I mean – www.theteaclub.net
Rabbit is out now…
Unlike the debut album of The Tea Club, I didn’t fall for Rabbit immediately. In fact, I postponed writing this review, because I had a hunch this could be one of those albums that take a while to settle in my brain – just like some of the greatest prog albums of all time. And so it happened….
After playing the album on and off for about a month, in between all kinds of prog, but also blues and classic rock tracks that I’m checking out for my cover band, I started to recognise some parts and I started to like the album.
The album contains an interesting mix of heavy, mellow, and sometimes even theatrical (out of the oceans). The Tea Club certainly have grown, and changed since General Winter’s. The music is not continuously all over you, there is more time for variability within the scope of one song than there was before, and the compositions have gotten stronger. <continue reading>
What we have here is a band that blends their pop, indie and prog influences into a delicate whole, very subtle, fresh and intriguing. Take that from a reviewer who approaches anything with pop influences with the utmost care.
The first few bands that come to mind for possible comparisons are Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho and Oceansize. All of them bands that have taken the emo-indie-rock of Radiohead and Muse into Prog territory. Together with Oceansize’s first album, this Rabbit album seems like one of the most successful of such crossovers.
There’s a couple of reasons for that, the band has crafted a very intricate sound, where layers of melodies and rhythms weave an ever changing melodic pattern. The music is direct, emotional and accessible, but also subtle and intelligent enough to keep a few of those layers hidden, and it takes a couple of listens to reveal those. The natural and lively production of the album is brilliant; it’s good to see that some people still master that art.
Rabbit is a great example of modern Prog, not earth-shattering but still fresh and with personality, with a certain pop sensibility but without the sentimentalism that often comes with that. Recommended for fans of Radiohead and all Prog bands in their wake.
The Torch (www.umasstorch.com)
Progressive band The Tea Club starts off strong with Rabbit
In today’s musical world, it’s hard to find bands that are truly innovators.
Fortunately, my world is filled with progressive rock that pushes the envelope more than any mainstream rock could, and The Tea Club demonstrate this perfectly with their 2010 release Rabbit.
Rabbit is an all-encompassing album, offering vocal strains and guitar bellows that rival anything Dream Theater, Beardfish, or any of the other modern progressive trailblazer offer.
It starts off with “Simon Magus,” a song that appears to be about an evil man that wants nothing more than to rule the world. It offers a point, counterpoint style that is brought in and out of the track by swaying guitar and bass lines, all mixing together to form a wall of sound unlike anything else on the album.
“Diamondized” follows, which is one of my favorite tracks on the album, mostly due to the excellent vocal work by brothers Dan and Patrick McGowan. Dan’s voice is very interesting, sounding a little like Daron Malakian of System of a Down fame and Darroh Sudderth of Fair to Midland. <continue reading>
Ron Fuchs (prognaut.com)
I had the pleasure of listening to two albums for reviewing, by The Tea Club. Here’s the review for the band’s second album entitle Rabbit, which was released in 2010. The band has evolved since the debut into a refined sound while retaining the aggressive edge from the debut. They also expanded their line-up between albums to include a keyboardist, Tom Brislin for the album Rabbit.
Just like the debut, the band mixes pop, indie and progressive rock into something quite unique (in my opinion). With the addition of the keyboards, opened up new ways to create music. This also catapulted them to being compared to more bands like Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho and Oceansize, to name a few, while having a unique vibe. I feel that Rabbit is just as important release as albums being released by those band around the same time.
From the first trio of songs “Simon Magnus” (6:23), “Diamondized” (6:34) and “The Night They Killed Steve Shelly” (9:07), which all flow almost seamlessly from one song to the next. From this point, I was captivated and needed to hear more. These are some of my favorites of the album. <continue reading>
Go get the Rabbit! It hasn’t been an immediate and simple chase. I’m counting now the 10th spin. But. As it goes, as I like, best things aren’t comin’ easy, and most precious gems aren’t revealing immediately. I’m urging everybody seeking for fresh, modern crossover prog music to immediately direct to get this piece of art. Touches of Maudlin Of The Well, more of Echolyn (the never-stay-too- much-on-same-lines attitude), an EXCELLENT production and sound instrumentation palette are taking possess of your loudspeakers…I agree with the previous review of “themortician” of the infectious, enthralling, mesmerizing effect the disc has built on me. Shame just that this appear not to be popular as it deserves, so far. I would rate full deserved 4 stars, me too I’m feeling that this band could create a next masterpiece…so I’m sparing stars for the next work! And also because I’m just not convinced of a few moment of the disc (“The Night I Killed Steve Shelley”). But others pieces all have such a diversity that just young talented energized bands can create, being “Astro” the cherry on top of the cake! Yes, no doubt, one the best installment of 2010.
This one came as real surprise–very cool sound feeling somewhere between OCEANSIZE, RADIOHEAD, BIG BIG TRAIN, MOON SAFARI and even some TOBY DRIVER. The weave of instruments is so well performed that rarely does any one instrument really stand out, yet all are of top caliber. But it is the vocal performances, IMO, that deserve special mention: so diverse, emotional and well-executed. The first three songs are acceptable rockers, but is with “Royal Oil Can” that something extraordinary leaps out at me. As a matter of fact, songs 4 through 11, minus #10, “Tumbleweeds” (beautiful yet lacking something…), are each and all beautiful, often masterful.
“Royal Oil Can” (9/10) is, IMHO, more beautiful than anything by MOON SAFARI–and powerful when the bass and toms enter at the 2:55 mark. The production is so clear and balanced, the songwriting and performance so mature and controlled. <continue reading>
Let me put out some words on this band that do differ from others that have been written so far, when addressing their latest release “Rabbit”. Yet I’ll also grant The Tea Club some other characteristics that I’ve already seen exposed by other reviewers.
I will not be pretentious to believe that my view upon this album is more accurate than others, as I’ve read some pretty extensive reviews, but still my experience listening to the sophomore album of this New Jersey band has brought to mind some particularities that, apparently, did not occur to other fellow reviewers online.
While the tag of crossover progressive rock is dead on, as the band brings the indie and alternative ambiances to a much more adventurous and progressive path, and while also agreeing on some Oceansize, Radiohead and The Pineapple Thief reminiscences (on oppose to Gazpacho, which I don’t find connections at all) , there is much more to this band than what meets the ear at first listens. And the fact is that, the more you listen to the album, the more you find different connections and new points of interest in the experimental sounds of Rabbit. Curious thing is that, despite an obvious complexity and even challenging construction of the tracks, many times reminding (in architecture, not in sound) The Mars Volta, still an odd feeling of straight forward musicality can also be sip, turning the band a possible target for fans of other musical grounds and not only the progheads.. <continue reading>