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Face the Heat

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Customer Reviews

Excellent sophomore effort

My friend John Szinger, who was a bandmate in college, and played sax on my song "Happy Monkey", has just put out another CD under his band name "Buzzy Tonic", called "Face the Heat".

Of course I'm biased because I'm friends with the guy, but this is a really excellent piece of work. I haven't seen him a lot since college (20 years ago), but he's a very energetic, friendly, outgoing guy, but a little bit contemplative and intellectual at the same time. This is apparent when you read his blog and the music reflects it as well. I would describe it as a prog rock/pop/jazz mix. He and his brother Martin also freely admit a heavy influence of Steely Dan, which to my ears manifests itself in the jazzy chords and unusual lyrical themes, but lacking the cynical edge often associated with Becker and Fagan.

John describes the songs himself on his web site but here are my impressions. The CD starts out with an energetic blast of heat with "Heat Wave", which if you knew John, you would say this song sounds exactly like knowing the guy. Hard to explain what that means, so I guess you'll just have to hear it.

"Angel or Alien" is an example of the contemplative nature I mention above, a sci-fi musing with a prog-rock feel, evoking the spooky but beautiful feeling one sometimes gets walking alone at night.

"The Nine" has the prog-rock love of odd meters, and he really makes this flow nicely, and adds in some distant Tolkien-inspired speaking to nice effect.

"Fine Red Wine" is a love song to his wife Jeannie, whom I also know, since they were college sweethearts and she would be present at Infinigon rehearsals, in a non-Yoko kind of way, and offer constructive criticisms, such as coaching us to learn the harmony vocals on "Lucky Man". I like to think that this song was John's response to my song "Universe of You" on Quiet Revolution, which was a love song to my wife. I didn't know the inner workings of their relationship, but apparently Rush and Mexican food were very important!

"Who Can Fool Me" is possibly the angriest you'll hear Szinger get- I forgot to ask him about it, but it reminds me a bit of "The Royal Scam" because of the c-minor electric piano chords and the scam/fooling connection. I wonder if he noticed it too, or deliberately used it.

"Earthbound" does a fantastic job of evoking a cold dreary day emerging from the ground at Times Square, near John's job. John and I are both from Buffalo, and it has a certain resonance for me in the way I think of winter, dreariness and beauty all mixed up together.

"Green Glove" gets the family involved- Jeannie on background vocals, and daughter on flute, I think. Very charming, and I'm glad he decided to persevere in fleshing out the arrangement and keeping it on the CD.

"Making Miles" shows being a prog-rock fan doesn't preclude being able to put together a pretty, pleasant accessible song.

"Touch the Ceiling" is an old Infinigon original that we played back in Buffalo. John did a great job on the vocals, thanks to coaching by me and Diamond Dave- I sent him an mp3 of the isolated vocal track from "Running With the Devil" just for laughs, and suggested he do his vocals in Dave's style. I guess my humour is a little bit too dry, since he took me seriously. However, once I heard what he did, I thought it was great, and told him to keep it even though I had only been joking. I also love the Buffalo/Toronto-specific vocal tag in the fade-out. Perhaps it's a tribute to the mysterious 420-lovin' former Infingon singer Stevie "Tumbleweed" Mineo? Oh, and it has some fantastic guitar work by John Neumann :)

Face the Heat, Buzzy Tonic
View in iTunes
  • $8.91
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: Oct 01, 2010

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