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Land of Chocolate — Your Finest Hour
(Bandcamp Turn To Start no#, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-11-07

Your Finest Hour Cover art

Yumm. Just the name of the band conjures up visions of those chocolate rivers inside the Wonka factory in that classic movie so many years ago. But the band’s second album, Regaining the Feel back in 2004, was certainly no Everlasting Gobstopper, in fact most fans of the band probably figured that the group, l ed by ex-Finneus Gauge drummer turned keyboardist Jonn Buzby, had called it a day a long time ago. In fact over the last decade Buzby emerged with a new band, Damn Fine Coffee, starting out as a trio and shrinking to a solo project over the course of three albums. But there was unfinished business with Land of Chocolate — a third album that was started back in the day, but never finished; there’s even a four-song demo from 2004 promising a full length release the following year. But as often happens, band members went in different directions, throwing a wrench into future plans. So here we have it, finally, after the band could be reassembled, Your Finest Hour, a full nineteen years after the last LoC album, but one definitely worth the wait. Brian O'Neill, the band’s original guitarist, was reinstated to help with completion of the album, stepping in to complete the parts unfinished by the band’s second guitarist John Covach, who had since moved away, though he is still featured on five of the album’s twelve cuts. Listeners who know those earlier albums will have some idea of what to expect with the new one; their sound could best be described as embracing a busy progressive rock idiom, more modern song oriented than vintage (ie. not a neo-prog or metal variant, nor jazz-rock fusion), steeped in angular multi-part harmonies, clever and witty in a purely musical sense — every song is brilliant and full of surprises. That’s not to say that the album is void of purely instrumental work, as the beautiful “A Rae of Hope” or “A Deep Breath” will evince, but the vocal work is the band’s trademark, and they do it superbly. Among those there are so many standouts, like the kaleidoscopic “Helpless,” set opener “Movers / Shakers,” the follow-on “This Beautiful World” and the powerful and angular “Air,” but to be honest there isn’t a dull track on this album anywhere, and it holds up to repeat listens, revealing something new with each spin. What remains to be seen is if Your Finest Hour is the closing of the final chapter on Land of Chocolate, or whether it’s a whole new beginning. Hopefully the latter.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Land of Chocolate

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