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CD Review: Flying Colors (Mascot Records)

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Flying Colors

“Good luck”, states producer Peter Collins (Rush, Queensryche) at the outset of this debut album from supergroup Flying Colors. As if they need it. Collins should’ve saved his breath; with players like guitarist Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Kansas), keyboardist Neal (no relation to Steve) Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold) among its members, it was hard to imagine this lineup could go wrong. And it doesn’t, but the music is not what you might expect from this roster, either. With Alpha Rev frontman Casey MacPherson handling most of the lead vocals, Flying Colors is a blazingly successful attempt by these accomplished art rockers to craft a more mainstream, accessible sound. Much of the album could easily be called alternative rock, such as “Shoulda Woulda Coulda”, which would fit well on a Weezer album. Elsewhere, other influences come into play: “Everything Changes” channels Cat Stevens and The Beatles; “Love is What I’m Waiting For” recalls the psychedelic alt-pop of Jellyfish; “The Storm” is a hybrid of Coldplay and Muse; and “Kayla” has a midpoint instrumental break reminiscent of Steve Morse’s work with Kansas. Morse, Morse, LaRue and Portnoy give instrumental heft, skill and dexterity to even the simplest passages here—Steve Morse delivers his typically excellent speedy solos—while MacPherson provides a contemporary feel with his wide-range vocals. These leopards can’t completely change their spots—final track “Infinite Fire” is an epic running over 12 minutes, and the spirituality of Neal Morse’s solo work is subtly used here. Beautifully produced by Collins (and reportedly recorded, for the most part, in only nine days!), Flying Colors passes with … well, you know.
For further info, visit the band’s Web site here.

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