If it takes a long time you might as well deliver a big album. That seems to be the approach that Tiles have taken with their newest effort, Pretending 2 Run. Their previous album, Fly Paper, came out in 2008, and featured names such as Alex Lifeson and Kim Mitchell. Kim returns on this album, and is joined by Mike Portnoy, Adam Holzman, Colin Edwin, and some strings to make this a very involved album. It’s also two discs in length, offering plenty of music to makeup for the extra long wait. For a full review of the album I would direct your attention to the wonderful work of Mason found here. If you’d like to purchase the album, and you should, you can pre-order is for an April 15th release here.
Next up, on Friday, April 8th the new album from Three Trapped Tigers will be released. It’s some excellent instrumental work out of England, and is called Silent Earthlings. You can grab that here, and check out the lead video below.
Next up, out of Russia, is another band with a slew of guest appearances. Iamthemorning released Lighthouse earlier this month, and if features Mariusz Duda, Colin Edwin, and Gavin Harrison. You can buy it here, and check out a song below.
And to finish things off, take a trip to the old West with this fun little tune.
The Flower Kings – Different People
Tiles – Drops of Rain
Spock’s Beard – Go the Way You Go
Iamthemorning – Chalk & Coal
Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthlings
Arjen Lucassen and Friends – El Paso^
Circus Maximus – Chivalry
Kingcrow – Eidos
Tiles – Taken By Surprise
Heliopolis – Elegy
Jon Anderson – Big Buddha Song
Leprous – Forced Entry
Mob Rules – Dust of Vengeance
Fates Warning – Anarchy Divine
Dream Theater – Another Day
O.S.I. – Hello, Helicopter!
Marillion – Berlin
Tiles – Other Arrangements
Tiles – The Disappearing Floor
Albums: Pretending 2 Run
Available: April 15th, 2016 via Laser’s Edge
Tiles has always seemed to be one band where the expression “your mileage may vary” seems to apply. Those of you that follow the show know that I’ve always been a huge fan of the band, and they are one the first bands I will suggest to someone when they are ready to look beyond the established names – particularly if they show an interest in Rush. Their sound can be very Rush like at times, and they’ve got some other contributing factors as well. We’ve seen Alex Lifeson throwing down a guest spot on Fly Paper, Hugh Syme doing the cover art for the fourth straight album, and having Terry Brown producing his third straight Tiles album. But there is enough differentiation from Rush for Tiles for them carve out their own piece of the prog pie.
If you are already familiar with Tiles and like them, then Pretending 2 Run is likely going to be a welcome addition to your collection, as their signature style is all over the album, with a few new welcome additions. If you’re not familiar with them, and my word isn’t good enough for you, I will name-drop a list of musicians who have agreed to lend their talents to this album: Ian Anderson, Mike Portnoy, Colin Edwin, Adam Holzman, Kim Mitchell, Matthew Parmenter, and Mike Stern – and if that last name doesn’t mean much to you now, I’ll explain later.
Pretending 2 Run is Tiles first album of original material since 2008, and given the amount of time that has passed since Fly Paper was released, they generated enough material to release a double album. If you’ve never listened to a Tiles album before, here is what you can expect – well controlled higher pitched vocals that possess a satisfying smoothness by Paul Rarick; catchy guitar riffs provided by Chris Herin; and a rhythm section that has crunchy bass and some well-timed keyboard work provided by Jeff Whittle, and solid work on the skins by Mike Evans. Another hallmark of the Tiles formula is the large number of instrumental tracks compared to other bands that have a vocalist. While those all hold true for Pretending 2 Run, the band has done some tinkering with the formula for this album, including some jazz instrumental sections, utilizing guests such as Mike Stern, who was Miles Davis’s guitarist. The band also used a string section on many songs, providing another new dimension not previously found in their sound.
Pretending 2 Run is a nice new extension in the Tiles catalog. It brings back a familiar sound to those who waited eight long years like I have, and it has the potential to get a neophyte to explore their back catalog. My biggest kudo is that this is the most diverse sounding and most exploratory album by the band yet, without losing sight of their signature sound. My biggest complaint is probably an obvious one, and that is the length. While I would have a hard time pinpointing as individual song as a weak spot, I have found that my interest wanes on disc 2 when listened back to back, yet if I start at disc 2, it is a much more enjoyable listen. I’m sure I could make some cuts to the track list without a huge loss, but seeing as the price is the same as a single album, I don’t think complaining about the extra material is fair. A second nitpick is that while I don’t think the album has any weak points, with 21 tracks total, there are only 3 that really shine, those being “Shelter In Place”, “Drops of Rain”, and stashed away in the middle of disc 2, “The Disappearing Floor”.
While I’m pleased with this album and have already preordered it, I’m also quite aware of where is stands in both their catalog and my catalog as a whole. It’s a nice, solid offering that is enjoyable, but probably isn’t going to send anyone over the moon.
Mason’s Grade: B