TOUCHSTONE – The City Sleeps (2011)
British band Touchstone was formed in 2003 by keyboard player / vocalist Rob Cottingham and guitarist Adam Hodgson, and the current line-up was completed by bassist Paul Moorghen in 2006, vocalist Kim Seviour in 2007, and drummer Henry Rogers in June 2010.
The band released two EP and two full albums, was awarded as ‘Best New Band’ at the Classic Rock Society Awards in 2008, toured with It Bites and made prestigious appearances at such major American Festivals as the Rites of Spring in Philadelphia and CalProg in California.
I still remember the 2nd effort ‘Wintercoast’ being a good disc, but their brand new full length album “The City Sleeps” lift Touchstone’s profile even higher.
This CD can be described as song-oriented album blending sympho and melodic rock, with many excursions into progressive territory and a lot of riffy guitar.
The bandleader is keyboardist Rob Cottingham (responsible for most of the compositions) who also sing lead vocals complemented with female young vocalist Kim Seviour. Bass player Andre Moorghen on parts of the album dutifully steps up next to Seviour to sing backing vocals, and the harmonized combination of male and female vocals is gorgeous.
The musical style is varied with intelligent twists here and there, from some serious hard rock guitar on “Throw Them To The Sky” through to the Mike Oldfield-approved musical build-up on “Corridors Epiphany”, where each instrument comes in one by one.
“These Walls” is an enjoyable female fronted proggy melodic rocker, while “Good Boy Psycho” has an interesting lyric and suitable music to go with scary subject matter. This would make an excellent song for a horror movie soundtrack.
One of my favorites is the crisp “Horizons”, a great tune which starts slow and melodic and then offers a razor-sharp catchy rhythm section of Rogers and Moorghen and a nice keyboard / guitar duel.
But apart from the shorter, more accessible song-based tracks, “The City Sleeps” gives the band space to shine on two epic compositions.
The notable “When Shadows Fall” is a really well constructed composition featuring a superb guitar work from Hodgson, some awesome proggy synths from Cottingham and beautiful vocal melodies that are commanding from Cottingham yet carefree from Seviour. Musically it is a prog rock track with many SFX, but during the chorus lands into melodic rock territory.
The other epic song is the magnum opus and title track “The City Sleeps” in which we hear contributions from the band’s friend John Mitchell (It Bites, and also responsible for the mix of the album) playing a flaming guitar soloing, and Anna-Marie Wayne (daughter of actor Jeff Wayne) laying down a compelling narration in the middle. Kim Seviour reaches some angelic notes throughout the song, along with Rob Cottingham complementing each other very well over a tight rhythm section. A really great track.
On “The City Sleeps”, Touchstone has successfully blended many styles as prog, melodic rock, pop and prog metal resulting in a cohesive product.
The album has a commercial, and dare I say it, mainstream feel that should make it appealing to a wide audience. The quality of the songwriting is really consistent and never gets swamped by complexity.
As said, the prog aura is always present, but with a commercial-sounding approach and some exciting departures venturing into more melodic rock areas.
There are a lot of female fronted prog rock bands out there, many not that great once you give them a few listens but Touchstone have the vocals, music and songs.
They can satisfy the prog rock fans, besides, if you are put off by the ‘progressive’ tag but like intelligent song-oriented rock, then check this album out.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrock
1. Corridors (5:50)
2. When Shadows Fall (10:02)
3. These Walls (3:40)
4. Throw Them To The Sky (5:04)
5. Sleeping Giants (4:16)
6. Good Boy Psycho (6:47)
7. Horizons (6:38)
8. Half Moon Meadow (5:17)
9. The City Sleeps (11:40)
10. Corridors Epiphany (Instrumental) (1:56)
Kim “Elkie” Seviour – lead vocals
Rob Cottingham – lead & backing vocals, keyboards, programming, sfx
Adam Hodgson – guitars, sfx & artwork
Andre P Moorghen – bass and backing vocals
Henry Rogers – drums & percussion
Anna-Marie Wayne – Narration on 9
John Mitchell (It Bites) – Guitar solo on 9
BUY IT !