US - Eamon's Day


Year of Release: 2003
Label: independent
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:59:00

When Jos Wernars, bassist of the Dutch prog rock formation Us, asked me if I was interested in hearing their new album, I of course said yes. When I received the album, I immediately played it and within 2 minutes it completely blew me away! So, who are Us then? According to their website, their story starts somewhere in 1975, when Jos, Paul van Velzen (drums and percussion) and Ernest Wernars (keys) form a band and initially set out playing covers. They call themselves Saga, but in 1983 the story of Saga ends end finds the three friends even selling all their instruments and stuff. In 1998 the story continues and Us is formed. They released a "debut" album called The Sorrow In Our Hearts and now they have finished the follow up: Eamon's Day.

Don't let the small number of songs fool you. The tracklisting consists of one song of 10 minutes, one of over 15 minutes and the closing track, "Life In Progress [Phases I to IX]" is close to half an hour! Opening and title track "Eamon's Day" was the song that blew me away and it did so for two reasons. It opens with a very warm sound, but after one minute the bass kicks in, and this bass sound is so incredibly massive and funky, it makes you crank up the volume right away! That's not all ... less than 30 seconds [later] the organ comes in, this cuts your soul with its beauty. Honestly said, it could have been played by Tony Banks (Genesis), as it is his characteristic sound. The vocals by Stephan Christiaans are a bit melancholic, which fits the organ quite nicely. So with the first track I already have a contradiction, as it sounds both melancholic and funky. The bass play by Jos Wernars is a returning factor throughout the album, and a characteristic mark of the music of Us. "Sea Song" has a great guitar solo, quite early in the song, in the vein of Mike Holmes (IQ), by Peter de Frankrijker, followed by acoustic guitars by Jos Wernars. Again I find the vocals extremely pleasant to listen to and I am forced to turn down the bass level on my stereo, to avoid a fight with my neighbours! My God, that bass sound is so heavy! Besides the already fantastic keyboards on this song, Ernest Wernars treats us at a great solo. The music is going at a steady pace, just when you think you can catch a breath, they move on, in a different direction, wild as the sea itself.

After two songs of epic proportions, it is time for something lighter, musically at least, as the theme is about the toil and repetitiveness of every day working class life. It is a semi acoustic song, with Jos Wernars on electric guitar. Just guitars, keys and vocals give it a bit of an eerie mood. This song was written by Ernest wernars, but unused for several years. It fits the album very good. Together with "The Tunnel," "Happy Suburbia '78" is one of the two short songs (less than 10 minutes) on the album. "The Tunnel" picks up where "Sea Song" ended: heavy, with lots of guitars and bass, although not as much upfront as in "Eamon's Day," yet still being the characteristic sound of the band. The album closes with a true epic: "Life In Progress," a concept story on everything that happens between birth and death, and that is close to 30 minutes (27:26 to be exact). Well, you better sit back for this one. In this song, more than in the rest, is the admiration Ernest Wernars has for Tony Banks, evident in his keyboard play, with many similarities to Banks' play. The band gives everything in this last song, lots of solos, instrumentral parts, breaks, excellent drums by Paul van Velzen and again the great vocals of Christiaans. Despite the acoustic guitar part, there is no major change in the melody throughout the song.

Eamon's Day is an album that I love to listen to and can listen to it for a long time. It will stand the test of time and 20 years from now people will still love it. I don't know if it has to do with the Genesis, Camel and yes influences I picked up in the music, or just because these guys know, even with the mentioned influences, how to compose timeless songs. I prefer to think the latter, also because Ernest Wernars told me he is huge fan of Tony Banks, so I say the influences are more a way of showing appreciation for these bands, rather than a lack of creativity. Definitely a must have album.

[This review originally appeared December 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]


Tracklisting:
Eamon's Day (10:15) / Sea Song (15:32) / Happy Suburbia '78 (6:03) / The Tunnel (5:14) / Life In Progress [Phases I to IX] (27:25)

Musicians:
Jos Wernars - bass
Paul Van Velzen - drums and percussion
Ernest Wernars - keyboards
Peter de Frankrijker - guitars
Stephan Christiaans ? vocals

Discography:
Saga - To Whom It Concerns (1975/6)
The Wizzard Of Us (ltd. edition demo) (1990s)
A Sorrow In Our Hearts (2002)
Eamon''s Day (2003)
The Ghost of Human Kindness (2004)
The Young and the Restless (2006)
Reflections (2007)
Climbing Mount Improbable (2008)
Everything Changes (2009)
Feeding The Crocodile (2010)
The Road Less Travelled (2011)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin NL

Added: January 30th 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Score:
Artist website: www.the-music-of-us.nl
Hits: 588
Language: english

  

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