The Source is a young progressive rock band based out of Los Angeles. Prickly Pear is their sophomore album and shows development within the band from their first release. I regard them and Moon Safari as great new, young, fresh progressive acts amongst a lot of older, more established bands. I feel that the vast majority of prog bands are a lot older and it is refreshing to see young people closer to my age be inspired by progressive rock and provide a more youthful perspective. That is one of the main things I love about The Source, their sound is very refreshing in what can sometimes feel like a stale genre. I am in no way dissing progressive rock because I love more established bands, but it is a nice change of pace to have such a young band.
This album was a difficult one to review. At first, I was not that impressed by it. There were bits and pieces that caught my attention, but as a whole I wasn't moved by it. But, on repeated listens, I've really grown to love this album and now consider it a considerable improvement on their debut album. This album is definitely a grower, and I recommend that you listen to it numerous times to give it a chance before you make your final verdict on it. In fact, I still feel it is too early for me to form a final opinion, and I feel that it will only keep getting better as I keep listening. This album has become truly addicting for me and I love it.
While I feel the star of their debut was keyboard player/singer Aaron Goldrich, I think the star here is guitar player Harrison Leonard. I am drawn in by his playing which sounds an awful lot like Steve Howe at times, and very jazzy at others. I also love some of the acoustic guitar work as well that pops up on a few tracks. By highlighting Leonard, I in no way am downplaying the other members of the band. I think the playing is top notch all across the board. So, that being said, I'm not sure what bothered me when I first listened to this album. I thought Goldrich's vocals were perhaps too whiny, but I am now quite impressed with his style and love certain vocal sections. I think my main problem with the album is that there doesn't seem to be as much heaviness as I usually like in my prog. I don't mean that they have to have heavy, fast Dream Theater like sections, I just felt that sometimes they get a little too light in their approach and I would like a little more bite.
But, that being said, I've come to appreciate the more "light prog" elements of their sound. I absolutely love the opening track, "Promised Land" and have loved it from the start. The opening reminds me of the opening of "Close to the Edge" by Yes. It is chaotic and beautiful at the same time. I also love the instrumental bits at the end that lead the listener on quite the musical journey. I was actually a little dissapointed when it started to fade away because I was ready to be taken to the next part of the musical journey. The two shorter tracks, "Star Dreamer" and "Thin Air" are both favorites of mine as well, especially "Thin Air". I love the jazziness of this track and the "ooh, la la las" that make this such a fun listen.
The two longer tracks have been the most difficult for me to get into. "Until Morning Time" is great, but once again it seems to drift along without getting to a really hard hitting place that I expected it too. "Castles in the Sky" I like a lot more, and I especially love the ending which for me resembles the ending of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by the Beatles. This really is a great piece and I have grown to love it more and more with each listen.
So, my verdict on this album is that I have really grown to love it and my score for it has gone up and up as I've listened to it again and again. I still feel I have a ways to go to truly appreciate this record. At first I thought that the compositions sounded chaotic and messy, but I am starting to get how the compositions fit together and flow and it is making for a much more enjoyable listen. So, my conclusion is that this is a remarkable band who have created a great album of music. There are parts where I get a little bored, but for the most part I am fully entertained and even blown away by some parts. This comes highly recommended and is the first album of the year that I feel truly has a chance of making the big end of year countdown. I look forward to getting to know this record even more.