By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: November 6, 2020
Genre: Progressive Rock, Art-Rock
Vancouver’s progressive rock/art-rock band Red Herring return with their new six-song collection of music in thirty-five years. The band released their 1985 debut EP, Taste Tests, that resulted in Red Hering hitting the road for one single tour across Canada roughly a year after the release of Taste Tests. Shortly thereafter, Red Herring ultimately broke up. Since the breakup, many of the band members went on to perform or record with an assorted list of Canadian music bands/artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Veda Hille, and Ray Condo. Red Herring regrouped in 2013 and since been working on what is their EP Neon. It’s also worth noting that the complete original lineup consisting of vocalist/guitarist Enrico Renz, guitarist Stephen Nikleva, bassist Martin Walton, drummer Steve Lazin, keyboardist Id Guinness, and backing vocalist Tania Gosgnach, all have returned for the recording of the EP.
Neon opens with the band’s lead single, “Brain Song.” This is the first taste of what is yet to come. The band’s out of the ordinary, art-rock/progressive rock blend comes into full display. The tracks on the album, which are also experienced on the opening tune, features unorthodox time signature changes, with a mix of up-and-down tempo changes throughout the entirety of the track. It’s almost as strange as something out of a David Lynch film, which is in no way a bad thing. “Brain Song” is a quirky little tune about -you guessed it, brains. It tells a narrative of brains being resentful about being jammed and claustrophobic being in a skull all day searching for a sense of contact from the outside world.
The EP’s title track “Neon” distinctively pops out at me on every listen. I’ve listened to this track several times now that I can confidently say it yields a lot of comparable musical traits that clash together that sounds very reminiscent of the styles you may have heard on David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. “Neon” stays unapologetically in the key as a unique Red Herring track. The EP’s second single, “Julia,” is a sombre ballad unlike anything else on Neon. This sincere track explores the idea of leaving behind things that don’t essentially matter. It’s best described as a spiritual song about not being afraid. In the end, all of this stuff you could be worried about is just stuff.