The most progressive of all Crack the Sky releases, Animal Notes also continues to display a winning sense of humor. One of their most popular songs begins the record with “We Want Mine.” The lyrics portray an example of the have-nots ready to take on the must-haves. Whereas the first album wore its Lennon/McCartney influences on its sleeve, this one takes a tangent further in to guitar-rock-progressive-pop ala Utopia, Kansas or It Bites. On this recording, the sound is akin to a Kansas with a sense of play (and no violin) on more than one cut.
“Wet Teenager” and “Virgin… No” are two songs with great guitar work by either of the two guitarists, Rick Witowski and Jim Griffiths. Guitar is quite prominent on this album and it rocks pretty darn hard. Band leader John Palumbo plays a wonderful classically-drenched piano solo introduction that leads into his over the top vocal that works in a very comical way on “Invaders from Mars.” He is an excellent songwriter with clever lyrics and unique instrumental turns.
My favorite song is “Maybe I Can Fool Everybody” which begins with beautiful twin guitars playing in harmony. It is almost six minutes long including an incredibly sweet guitar solo and a pause that makes you think the song is over, but it’s not. Even longer and more progressively inclined is “Rangers At Midnight.” I love bands with comical wit and CtS displays that here with lyrics of the life of the Canadian Mounties. It contains over seven minutes of ever-changing musical ideas and theatrical humor.
This album is currently available paired with another great album by Crack the Sky, Safety In Numbers, their third. The songs on these albums are catchy and complex, with great hooks and intricate melodic passages. Plus, it’ll make you chuckle a few times. That to me is worth the price of admission.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on June 30th, 2011