French TV

The Case Against Art

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Three years after The Violence of Amateurs, Mike Sary and consorts came back with The Case Against Art. For this occasion, French TV presented yet another lineup. Forming the nucleus with the bassist/leader are keyboardist Warren Dale, drummer Chris Vincent, and guitarist Chris Smith. The contributing guests include past members and well-wishers Dean Zigoris, Greg Acker, and Cathy Moeller, plus ex-Boud Deun guitarist Shawn Persinger adding his touch in one track. The previous album had set the pole very high; the group was unable to top it, but The Case Against Art is still a good album. It comes back to a more straightforward brand of progressive rock, closer to French TV's fourth release, the 1995 Intestinal Fortitude. There is even a song with lyrics ("Partly the State," sung by Cliff Fortney). So after its most far-reaching, avant-gardist CD ever (which included a Samla Mammas Manna cover and a cameo by Eugene Chadbourne), Sary delivered something that could be almost termed as easy listening in comparison. The pieces still follow a suite-like form where stylistically different segments are pasted together. But the shifts are not as wild, the styles as extreme, the general demeanor as cartoonish as before. Some people, prog heads who found the previous CD hard to swallow, will find this a lot more suitable to their taste ("Partly the State" is a cover of an old Happy the Man song with original singer Fortney handling vocals). And in any case, "That Thing on the Wall" and "Under the Big 'W'" can stand the comparison to most of the group's repertoire.

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