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Monday, March 6, 2017

IZZ - Ampersand, Volume 2

Whenever I would look through bands or artists that would peak my interest, I knew my ears would perk up. When it comes to a band like IZZ, it’s something that would give me some attention. Now I’ve heard some of the samples of their music on Internet radio many years ago when I was at Houston Community College and then, I completely forgotten about them. It wasn’t until last year I went ahead and bought their new album on The Laser’s Edge which was Ampersand, Volume 2. And from the moment I put it on, I was instantly hooked right from the first note.

IZZ launched back in their hometown of New York City 21 years ago the Galgano brothers (Tom and John). And despite the line-up changes, they have released eight albums and performed at NEARfest ten years ago. This is their ninth album released on the Donne Records label. And it’s their follow up to their 2015 album, Everlasting Instant. They have a passion for songwriting, melody, and diverse texture between the sound and style.

In the digital booklet it begins with a quote, “Sometimes music is just music. Songwriters and artists create works about which they are passionate. Sometimes creations falls into a certain category; sometimes they don’t.Ampersand, Volume 2 it’s a diverse album and I got a kick out of it a few times. And while I’m very new to the music of IZZ, their new album will get me open my eyes more of their sound and vision of what they want to accomplish.

John Galgano’s virtuosity from playing both the acoustic guitar and piano have shown a lot of importance. When you listen to Hail Double Knob, Children of Mars there are different sections from his acoustic instrument going back and forth as if Mason Williams delved into the styles of medieval music and wished he had been a member of Gentle Giant during the time period of the Octopus-era.

Then, he steps towards into the piano with the mixtures of both Jazz and Classical music a-la George Gershwin style with 84th and Amsterdam while his brother Tom goes through his vocal arrangements between Godley and Crème of Ascension in Time. With elements of something straight out of an unearthed 10cc track from sessions of The Original Soundtrack, guitarist Paul Bremner and Tom give their nods to ELP. Did I forget to mention one thing? You ready? MELLOTRONS GALORE!

With Ready To Go, Paul’s snarling solo work comes out with a volcano ready to explode and have the lava emerged out of the mountains as time-changes and symphonic rock erupts at you like the fire that will never burn out. The spacey ambient introduction of Penelope starts with a sombering piano ballad as Laura Meade’s soothing vocals as if the lyrics tells the story of a last farewell before their dying days.

And it goes into a Prog-Pop orientated arrangement as Laura and John share vocals for a few pieces in the background sections before Paul comes shining through the leading melodies. Fine is alternative rock with lyrical texture that starts off with an acoustical riff for the first 57 seconds before kicking into high gear in the styles of lyrical essence of Kurt Cobain.

After delving into IZZ’s swimming pool of different textures of music, I knew this is a band right away I will check out and it strikes me well to know they have done their homework right. Ampersand, Volume 2 is a triumph.

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