WE CAME FROM SPACE – Overlords (Album Review)

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Progressive rock can be a serious place. For every whimsical prankster prog band out there, there’s at least five others who take their craft probably much too seriously. Given that reality, We Came From Space occupies a niche within a niche, admirably aiming for that narrow band of music geeks who also enjoy a nerdy sense of humor. Come to think of it, there might be quite a few of them out there. Let’s hope so because WCFS delivers the goods and has released a fine album that deserves to be heard. If you fancy tastefully arranged progressive pop rock, this is a band to discover. And if you want a laugh, check out their liner notes or website.

This quartet may be best known in prog circles for their keyboard player and vocalist Bill Hubauer who has been a member of the Neal Morse Band over the past decade, but the rest of the band is equally talented: Dave Buzard on guitar and vocals, Dave Hawk on bass and vocals, and Tim Malone on drums. Having released the impressive “While You Were Away” in 2018 and then following up with a 2020 EP (two tracks from which make it onto this new full-length release), the band has all cylinders firing for new album “Overlords”, from performance to songwriting to production.  There’s an extremely modern sheen throughout the recording. Even though 70s influences can be heard throughout – from Styx to Rush to ELO to Steely Dan and more – the material sounds fresh and relevant thanks to the crisp engineering and production.

The ten-minute opening title track establishes the terrain pretty quickly, playing “some happy chords for the robot overlords, making a joyous noise while the landing gear deploys”. The initial orchestrated pomp opens up to the sweeping GeoShred guitar app played by Hubaeur before beginning the first verse sung by Buzard who lends a slightly Barenaked Ladies feel. As the band features three vocalists, there’s lots of vocal layering and swapping out of the lead role as songs progress from section to section with plenty of twiddly instrumental bits in between. In this case, by the time we get to the reprise of the main chorus, Hubauer takes over the singing duties for a grand finale amidst guitar fireworks.

Dave Hawk comes to the fore on the mic for the next two songs. The catchy “On The Radio” could be a tidy 3-minute hit single but this is prog so the band stretches out in several spots including a deliciously spacious  jam towards the end of the song. “Empty Space” carries the vibe of a 70s ballad, music and melody composed by Hubauer including a breezy piano solo and some Steely guitar work from Buzard.

“Overlords” Album Artwork

Odes to the atomic bomb seems to be a perennial favorite and “She’s The Bomb” is perhaps the most adoring contribution since David Gilmour’s “Cruise”. Paired with “Atomic Blues”, this lengthy jam finds Hubauer’s synths blazing forth towards the cosmos and beyond. Unfortunately, following track “Reputation” fizzles out and is the album’s one dud, the straight-ahead rocker feeling out of place with the rest of the material

The final three songs are a Hubauer tour de force as he features on the mic and primary musical composition (lyrics throughout the album are mostly written by the feathered pair of Buzard & Hawk). “Silent Letters” brings in that psychedelic pop brand of Jellyfish and XTC that Hubauer and his friend Neal Morse have explored so thoroughly in various other bands, proving that WCFS can handily conquer that style, too. “Facade” ups the ante with a soaring chorus and the inevitable tip of the keyboard  hat to Dennis DeYoung but it’s the mini-epic “Seize the Day” where everything comes together as the highlight of the album. Seizing on Mike Portnoy’s favorite mantra, this satisfying closer carries the emotional impact to match the band’s musical muscle for their best song yet.

Truth be told, “Overlords” is one of my favorite kinds of albums: slick, well-produced songs which harken back to an organic era of inspiration, carrying a wide range of influences. It’s stylish, it’s cleverly executed and it’s even funny at times. They came from space but the music is relatable enough for us humans to come to love.

Released By: Independent
Release Date: February 3rd, 2023
Genre:  Progressive Rock

Musicians:

  • Dave Buzard / Guitar, Vocals, and the Flatulating Reticulated Flume
  • Dave Hawk / Bass, Vocals, and the Möbius Stripper Pole
  • Bill Hubauer / Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals, and the Baritone Hyperbolic Funkometer
  • Tim Malone / Drums, Percussion, and the Four Octave Schissel

“Overlords” Track-listing​:

 1. Overlords
2. On the Radio
3. Empty Space
4. She’s the Bomb/Atomic Blues
5. Reputation
6. Silent Letters
7. Facade
8. Seize the Day

8.8 Excellent

Hailing from the outer edges of the solar system (western Pennsylvania), We Came From Space offers a powerhouse of power pop prog pizzazz. Featuring three vocalists, clever songwriting and creative musicianship, this gem of an album should find its way to your ears if you fancy Steely Dan, Flying Colors or Styx

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9.5
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