Saturday, May 21, 2016

Schooltree - Rise

Now for me, I have a soft spot of Female Progressive Rock Bands and Artists. From the realms of Renaissance, Bent Knee, Julian’s Treatment, Earth and Fire, Blood Ceremony, Purson, Curved Air, Kate Bush, Ancient Bards, and Within Temptation to name a few. It isn’t just a boy’s club, but to give honors due, it’s time to give the women a huge amount of credit they deserve in the family trees of Progressive Rock. And one of the artist that has taken me to another level, is Lainey Schooltree.

Lainey Schooltree is a very busy woman when it comes to her work with The Steamy Bohemians, Jerkus Circus, and Bent Wit Cabaret. I first became aware of Lainey’s music when I’ve heard some of the samples of her 2013 debut album, Rise on her bandcamp website. I was completely blown away by the way she sings and the way she writes and produce. She carries the torch of Kate Bush and knowing that she has amount of shoes to fill in.

I went ahead and bought the album straight away. And from start to finish, I was jaw-dropped right from the moment I put the CD on. There are influences from Queen, early Genesis, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, MoeTar, Randy Newman, and Rush combined into a complete full circle. Alongside Lainey herself who plays piano and sings, she brought help including Jordan Ross on Drums, Brendan Burns on Guitar, and Derek Van Wormer on Electric/Upright Bass.

Heavenside starts off with a gloomy haunting guitar improvisation that Brendan gives into a mourning situation as if he is channeling David Gilmour before Ross’ militant drum funeral march. Here, Lainey channels the essence of Peter Hammill and Moorea Dickason (MoeTar) in her vocals as if she is giving a haunting tale with a soaring twist as the rhythm heads into the heavenly-sky before Brendan’s melody channels her vocalization and erupts into a gigantic roar on his improvisation.

Opener, Six Feet Up is a blaring and melodic waltz done in the time signature of 3/4 which pulls the psych and heavy wah-wah guitars, concerto piano of a Broadway melody, and channeling Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside-era while Today channels the late 1890s and 1910s with piano and banjo in the styles of Scott Joplin and Newman’s writing arrangements as if Lainey herself shows a bit of humor in her melody in a Ragtime rhythm with an homage to Soft Machine’s Slightly All the Time at the very end thanks to Lainey’s vocalizations.

But it’s Lainey’s usage of the vocal harmonizer as she brings the experimental and futuristic arrangements with different tracking of where her vocals go into those areas that are soothing and uplifting to stand up on the title-track. But on Everyman, it transform into a Blues Rock shuffle from Piano and Guitar that suggests of Pink Floyd’s obscure composition, Biding My Time as Brendan himself exercises the resonance of his guitar work.

Brendan channels Brian May’s work as he sends it to the early Queen albums from Queen II and A Night at the Opera which is evidential on the closing track, Reprise. Vocal harmonies and heavier/symphonic structured with a higher ranger, they close it off with a haunting feedback before fading off.

Lainey delivers a promising debut. And this year she is working on a follow-up in which it’s a rock-opera entitled Hererotopia which she helped crowd-fund on Kickstarter and with achieve support from people like; Amanda Palmer, Barry Crimmins, Aimee Mann, and Margaret Cho, I can’t wait to hear she is going to do with this and where she is going to take to follow in the footsteps of the Progressive Rock genre. But all in all, with Rise, it feels like a breath of fresh air.

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