Flying Colors – Flying Colors (2012) [Progressive Rock]
Flying Colors’ Debut: A Review
June 19th, 2012
Written and Edited by Troy Swiatek
I picked up this album alongside Adrenaline Mob’s Omertà during my last visit to my local record store. They’re both recent Mike Portnoy supergroup releases, so of course I had to get both. Fortunately, the two albums were on two separate sides of the spectrum: heavy metal in Omertà and progressive rock in Flying Colors. The genre for this album, however, is debatable, so let’s just call Flying Colors eclectic progressive rock for now. Luckily for me, I don’t have to copy and paste that damned “à” for this album name. Not to mention the fact that I’m completely in love with progressive rock at this point.
Since its release, there have been many positive reviews of this album. Unfortunately, this one is but another in that haystack.
The album cover truly intrigues me. Of course, it caught my eye and was one of the reasons I purchased it – I was looking for it for a while, but couldn’t find it until I saw the easy-to-spot album art. The album cover has a sense of diversity to it, which reigns true throughout the album; there is a certain diversity on every track; a different musician shines on each track. Of course, there is a bit of similarity between all of the tracks: the annoyingly cheesy lyricism. The lyrics were simply.. stupid on this album. That, however, does not interfere with the fact that the musicianship on this album is perfectly executed.
Any who, purchasing this album was a no-brainer for me. It features many of the progressive/rock musicians I’ve come to know and love in my past three years of music exploration. There’s drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), keyboardist (and vocalist, not to mention guitarist) Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, solo), guitarist Steve Morse, who is of no relation to Neal Morse, (Dixie Dregs, solo, Kansas, Deep Purple, etc.), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Planet X, Steve Morse Band, etc.) and one who I am relatively unfamiliar with, vocalist (alongside keyboards and rhythm guitar) Casey McPherson. Transatlantic also happens to be my favorite modern progressive rock band, so another collaboration between two members of the band I’ve come to love couldn’t possibly be bad. Well, it could, but that doesn’t happen here. I also happen to absolutely adore Steve Morse’s work in Dixie Dregs. Basically, the musical portion of this band had to be phenomenal. No letdowns there, I assure you. Then there’s the vocalist whom I have no prior experience with: Casey McPherson. Surprisingly, his and Neal’s melodies were beautiful throughout the album. No complaints on the musicianship. The vocals, however, were a slight nuisance on a few songs. The lyrics.. well, relatively cheesy throughout. Flying Colors, however, manages to incorporate almost everything I love about progressive rock into this album, hence the 8.5/10 rating.
Now then, onto the individual track reviews.
The first track of this wonderful album is entitled Blue Ocean. This track really sets the mood for the rest of the album: a fun-loving group of musicians doing what they love: making wondrous music. You can tell at the beginning of the song that these guys simply adore working with each other; that, in my mind, sets the course for a brilliant album. This is probably my favorite track off of the album, and currently my favorite song released in 2012. Mind you, I have never heard Mr. McPherson sing before this track, and quite simply.. I was blown away. His vocal abilities are astounding; his vocals soar right on through the music, flowing beautifully. This is the track that really stands out above all the others on this album. Especially with the “Blue ocean” harmonies, not to mention a brilliantly coordinated solo by Steve. The song caps off with the stellar “Blue ocean” piece. Wonderful, simply wonderful.
Shoulda Coulda Woulda is the second track of the album and the title scared me a little bit. Casey’s vocals at the beginning also frightened me quite a bit. The vocals remain quite.. annoying throughout the entire song. However, the musicianship is simply fantastic, and that alone makes this a song works listening to. Lyrics are also extremely cheesy, and I would advise Casey to avoid these types of vocals for future reference.
Kayla is the third song of the album, and from what I’ve seen has received extremely positive reviews by listeners. Unfortunately, I don’t hear the attraction. The song is actually quite boring and one that I would tend to skip when listening to the album. The music is slightly above average, vocals slightly below average, and the lyrics are pretty.. bleh. I’m unsure what the cause of the extremely positive reviews were, but I could not find anything that truly impressed me here. It’s an overall below average song. That’s all.
The Storm is the fourth track of the album with a title that makes me hoping for a barrage of orgasmic instrumentals alongside relatively ‘louder’ vocals. My expectation was indeed quite off the mark, but nonetheless this song is wonderful in its own right. Excellent musicianship. Soaring vocals. The Morses: keyboards and guitars. An overall impressive track. Not what I expected initially, but I left with a smile on my face and a tune in my head.
Forever in a Daze is the fifth track off the album. The beginning is simply orgasmic, for lack of a better term, and certainly sets the mood for the rest of the song – a soaring bass. Hm. Appears to be another love song, similar to Kayla, but certainly much more impressive. Bass and guitar solo right in the middle. This song is fantastic, a must-listen for any progressive rock lover. I usually despise love songs, but this song is an obvious exception. “You don’t even know my name, but you got me loving you forever in a daze..”. Very nice.
Love is What I’m Waiting For is the sixth track of the album that has me thinking: Another love song? Ah, that doesn’t exactly matter. The lyrics are quite cheesy and don’t appeal to me much. The musicianship, on the other hand, remain continuously impressive and leaves me relatively happy. This is an okay song. The vocals fit, flow and are performed well, but just do not impress me whatsoever.
The seventh track of the album is called Everything Changes. This is probably the softest song on the album with a fairly simply message, as noted in the title: everything changes. And indeed it does. Despite its softness, this song is carefully orchestrated into masterful perfection. Brilliant guitar work. Portnoy flows right along with the rest of the crew. Casey truly shines here, demonstrating his beautiful vocal ability. Quite an impressive song to say the least.
Better Than Walking Away is the eighth track of the album that begins in a way that left me thinking I was wrong about the last song being the softest on the album. Luckily for me, it picks up relatively quickly and morphs into a ‘faster’, ‘heavier’ song about halfway through. The two, Everything Changes and Better Than Walking Away are clearly the two softest songs on the album. That, however, does not diminish their brilliancy. Another nice listen.
All Falls Down is the ninth track of the album that finally starts to pick up the album, once again, into the heavier portion of progressive rock that is this album. Starts off with a combination of Steve and Mike’s brilliant musicianship and quickly transforms into an epic song with some nice ‘harmonies’, or rather ‘chants’ from the group. Excellent guitar playing by Steve on this track, he really shines here. Casey flows right along with Mike’s poundin’. Another great track.
Fool in My Heart is the tenth track of the album, leaving me thinking, once again, ANOTHER LOVE SONG? Well, yeah, basically. “I always will love you, forever I will“.. meh. The lyrics somewhat annoy me, but Casey and the crew pull off another okay song, which is rare for me – mind you, I hate songs about love. Of course, this song contains yet another awesome solo from Steve but quickly picks up back into the cheesiness.
The final, eleventh track of the album is called Infinite Fire. This is the longest song on the album, clocking in at nearly 12 minutes long. The longest by nearly five minutes. It kicks off with.. well, basically a great, nearly two-minute instrumental portion before the vocals pop in. The vocals, in my opinion, flow relatively less here than in other songs, but they still make an excellent sound. LaRue, alongside Portnoy, Neal and Steve all shine brilliantly on this song. The harmonies are also quite intriguing, however cheesy the lyrics they’re singing are. Nonetheless, fantastic solos and genius drum-work truly make this song one of the best on the album. I believe there’s even a keyboard solo by Neal here. Truly a magnificent piece of work Flying Colors managed to create here, incorporating each of the members’ talents so terrifically. It reminds me slightly of Transatlantic’s My New World, although the lyrics there, I believe, are better than those portrayed on Infinite Fire. Nonetheless, this track is amazing and a brilliant closer to a great album.
Alright then, that concludes the individual track reviews. Now, I must admit, my opinion of this album overall altered during the writing of this review. The rating went from a 9.5 to a 9.0, only getting worse for me, and eventually halting at 8.5. I believe this album is quite worth the 8.5, and quite possibly, at best, an 8.75. I could not, for the life of me, find a copy-and-pasteable half-star for the ‘out of 10′ stars under the album cover at the very top – this bugged me for at least half an hour before I gave up and decided to ’round up’ for the star-rating. Any who, this album was well-worth the listen and I can see myself going to see these guys in concert, if they happen to tour. I would also jump at the chance to purchase a new album of theirs, if such a chance arises. I’ll be listening to this album, especially Blue Ocean and Infinite Fire, for years to come. I would recommend the album to any progressive rock fan who can also handle the occasional ‘pop rock’ influence; this influence is mainly held within the vocals, anyway. The musicianship is top-notch, the crew consists of the best of the best, and the vocalist, despite novel to me, really impresses me. I’m honored to be able to express my opinion on this album as a review. 🙂
- Music: 9.5
- Vocals: 8.5
- Lyrics: 4
- Overall: 8.5
~ by Musical Indulgence on June 19, 2012.
Posted in Music, Pop, Progressive, Reviews, Rock
Tags: 2012, Alternative Rock, Bill Evans, Casey McPherson, Dave LaRue, Debut, Dixie Dregs, Dream Theater, Flying Colors, March 2012, Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Peter Collins, Phenomenal, Progressive Rock, Spock's Beard, Steve Morse, Supergroup, Transatlantic