The Tea Party


Splendor Solis

The Tea Party - Splendor Solis ©1993 EMI
1. The River
2. Midsummer Day
3. A Certain Slant Of Light
4. Winter Solstice
5. Save Me
6. Sun Going Down
7. In This Time
8. Dreams Of Reason
9. Raven Skies
10. Haze On The Hills
11. The Majestic Song

Sticking out like Jerry Falwell at Pride Day, The Tea Party were an oddity for the Canadian scene at the time, circa 1993, forsaking the usual bland commerciality that plagues most Canuck bands for a full-on retro Doors/Zepfest. And not only does singer/guitarist Jeff Martin sound like Jim Morrison, he damn well looks like the guy too. Musically, a comparison to Jimmy Page is unavoidable, with bassist Stuart Chatwood and drummer Jeff Burrows' uniformly contributing to the Zeppelinsque (mostly silly) mysticism, all beneath Jim Morrison's enigmatic crooning (whoops, did I say Jim Morrison?). The point is, I guess, even though this is highly derivative --bordering on outright theft-- The Tea Party have given a nod to accomplished musicianship (again, rather unCanadian) and the songs are complex, musically thoughtful and, well, pretty durn good. So I'll forgive them. "The River", "Winter Solstice" and "Sun Going Down" lead this this unusual album in a positive direction. Of the three LP's this band has released, this is the best; eventually the rug from underneath is yanked for the whims of trend chasing, or the malaise of modernity, as it were.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/1998

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The Edges Of Twilight

The Tea Party - The Edges Of Twilight ©1995 EMI
1. Fire In The Head
2. The Bazaar
3. Correspondences
4. The Badger
5. Silence
6. Sister Awake
7. Turn The Lamp Down Low
8. Shadows On The Mountainside
9. Drawing Down The Moon
10. Inanna
11. Coming Home
12. Walk With Me

Nearly all of the press I've read about The Edges of Twilight mentions the fact that the band members played a grand total of 32 instruments to complete this non-epic. Yet, in all this technical brilliance, it a damn shame they forgot about the songs. Though "Correspondences" is sad, affecting, and downright majestic, there are 11 other tracks here and the magic is wearing thin. Without the cogent songcraft and jovial self-evidence of Splendor Solis, The Tea Party's facade is stripped away; these guys are just too far gone into their Zep/retro/'defiantly 70s' melodies obsession, and seem incapable of concocting anything even remotely original, or more importantly, enjoyable. Most tracks are needlessly long, displaying unmistakable symptoms of Dream Theater Disorder: "look how good we are at our instruments!". Very bloated and absolutely filled to the bookends with pretentious cheese amounting to nothing and leading nowhere (except maybe the cut-out bin, that is). In summation, The Edges of Twilight bores the shit of out me. Middle-of-the-road mediocrity masquerading as importance.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 05/1999

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Transmission

The Tea Party - Transmission ©1997 Atlantic
1. Temptation
2. Army Ants
3. Psychopomp
4. Gyroscope
5. Alarum
6. Release
7. Transmission
8. Babylon
9. Pulse
10. Emerald
11. Aftermath

With the surfeit of goth/electronic tinged records already heaped upon the public like hot dogturds, what's one more? Well, I'll tell you. On Transmission, The Tea Party's third full-length, their paper thin anterior is stripped away to reveal yet another bandwagoning rock band. You see, prior to Transmission I used to dig these guys; they played epic, poetic rock songs. However the operative phrase here is "prior to"; unless you've spent the latter half of this decade in a coma you might have realized these days "progress" is essentially synonymous with "electronic", and since the Tea Party never really could do anything original, that bandwagon looks mighty tempting. Much to my chagrin, because this sort of "electronica" (what a stupid term) is generally cheap, commercial junk; highly illegitimate, highly uninteresting, and serving little purpose other than to ANNOY. Don't get me wrong--one can make worthwhile within music such annals, but you'll rarely hear it on the radio, and you certainly won't hear on The Tea Party's Transmission. Rock/techno/goth... bleech. The boys don't do themselves any favors either by fallaciously laying claim to some new musical territory, really an insult to anyone whose intelligence equals or tops that of their bathroom toiletries. Wake up people. Enough is enough.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/1998

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The Interzone Mantras

The Tea Party - The Interzone Mantras ©2001 EMI
1. Interzone
2. Angels
3. The Master & Margarita
4. Apathy
5. Soulbreaking
6. Lullaby
7. Must Must
8. White Water Siren
9. Cathartik
10. Dust To Gold
11. Requiem
12. Mantra

To someone like, say, me, there are so many objectionable aspects to The Tea Party's music that I should be playing frisbee with this CD instead of reviewing it: the permeating Led Zeppelin obsession, down to the Bonham soundalike drums (except the washing machine in which they were recorded must have been slightly larger), the vaguely Indian-inspired lydian acoustic guitar riffs, the classic rock guitar solos, the let's-write-a-U2-song-cuz-I'm-kinda-tired-of-Zeppelin-right-now songs ("Angels"), the overall sense of large-penile-endowment-strutting oozing from every vocal line, and the enormouser-than-thou riffs and instrumentation ("Soulbreaking"), to name a few. Yet The Tea Party gets so many things simply right that all I can do is shake my bootay and bang my head like a possessed chihuahua hanging from a mail carrier's pantleg.

In a nutshell, The Tea Party is quite possibly the best, nay, the only worthy classic-rock-revival band around; to the risk of incurring the ire of bell-bottom-clad Page/Plant minions, I'll even venture to say that they beat Led Zeppelin at their own game in quite a few instances on this rocking album, notably on the stunning opener "Interzone", the Kashmiresque "Must Must" and the lydian acoustic-based "White Water Siren". What makes The Tea Party so interesting is that, unlike Zeppelin, Zeppelin-like music is not all they are capable of doing, and they very successfully incorporate songwriter-rock influences la Jeff Buckley, Joy Division and U2 and a keener-than-hell melodic sense into their songs, resulting in true gems like "Interzone" and especially "Cathartik".

It is not clear to me at this point how much staying power this album will have, but it certainly is a remarkable set of songs to drive to.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 10/2003

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