Chris Johnson formerly of Mostly Autumn as of 2008, started to work on a solo album. As soon as he started he came aboard as the second guitarist for the touring band of Fish. When that ended he started back to work on his solo album, which became a band called Parade. The end result is a debut entitled The Fabric which was released in January 2010.
Joining Chris is multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Anne-Marie Helder of Panic Room and Mostly Autumn, and from Fish’s band, Gavin Griffiths (drums), Patrick Berry (Bass) and Simon Snaize (guitar) plus some special guests on The Fabric including ex-Mostly Autumn vocalist Heather Findlay (percussion on “The Diamond“, “The Dogs“, “Facing Down” and “Ending“), Olivia Sparnenn (vocals on “All That I Wanted“), and current member of Mostly Autumn, Bryan Josh (guitars on “The Diamond” and “Ending“).
The Fabric is a mixture of an indie sound combined with some moments of progressive rock. Chris handles a majority of the vocal chores with Anne-Marie primarily supports him on backing vocals. I figure if I wanted to hear Anne-Marie on lead vocals I can get either of the Panic Room albums (both are strongly recommended).
Starting off the album is “Introduction” (0:33) it leads into “Come Alive’ (4:34) which has at the foundation a indie sound with some progressive/art rock touches throughout. “Start Again” (4:36) is a nice prog/pop sounding song that’s very melodic with infectious hooks and vocals.
One of my favorite tracks on this album is “The Diamond” (5:51) which features Anne-Marie on lead vocals. Her angelic vocals just make you want to hit the repeat button. The music is simple with complex background arrangements. The closest thing to best describe is the way Brian Wilson composes his music both solo and with The Beach Boys.
“High Life” (4:41) a atmospheric track with some background tribal sounding percussion. It ends with some wordless vocals by Anne-Marie. While a good song, it doesn’t really gel with me.
“The Dogs” (5:48), the second longest track on the album, is an acoustic based song that features both Chris and Anne-Marie on vocals. This could easily be a single, maybe even the lead single. Around the 4:30 mark, the electric guitar kicks in and stays for almost the remainder of the song.
“Facing Down” (4:40) is a very somber sounding song. Probably similar to what bands like Paatos or even Portishead. Another band that similar is The Gathering, musically.
“Feedline” (6:16) one of the longer track on the album and the most infectious in both the instrumentation and lyrically. This is my favorite track on the album. I hear new sounds each time I hear it. Well done Chris & Anne-Marie!
“Cut” (4:28) is at the beginning an atmospheric song in the vein of Paatos, Portishead and again The Gathering musically. It’s quite a dreamy song. Towards the 3:10 mark, the band goes full on electric and continues that way till the end.
“All That I Wanted” (5:34) is a somber tune that sounds like someone reflecting on life. This is also an acoustic based song that segues into the next track “Ending”.
And finishing up this wonderful album is “Ending” (6:44). It’s such an appropriate song to close off the album. The lyrics sound to me has a realistic feeling that leaves me feeling optimistic. I think the lyrics can be looked at differently by each person that hears it.
So in closing, I have to say that Parade and it’s debut album, The Fabric, is while not really a ground breaking album, it is one of the more pleasant sounding albums of 2010 and I can‘t recommend it enough. It should appeal to fans of Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, Panic Room, The Mermaid Kiss, Portishead and the acoustic side of RPWL.
Reviewed by Ron Fuchs on August 31st, 2010