One Ring Zero, Planets (Urban Geek Records, 2010)

One Ring Zero are a quirky band from Brooklyn, led by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalists Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst, but also featuring Ian Riggs on bass, Ben Holmes on trumpet, and Timothy Quigley on drums and percussion. For their newest record, Camp and Hearst decided to make a concept album about the planets in our solar system. The result, simply called Planets, is an intriguing but uneven assortment of spaced-out prog rock with some Eastern European touches.

The band save their most inspired work for the smallest bodies, Mercury and Pluto. "Mercury" features a nice blend of old-school psychedelia with Balkan brass music. And while Pluto is not technically considered a planet anymore, the song "Pluto" handles the demotion to a dwarf planet in a fun and reasonably accurate manner. Unfortunately, much of the rest of Planets plods along at a tepid pace. Most of the tracks start slowly, but don't really build up to anything. One Ring Zero could have developed the more exotic elements in their sound further on this record, especially given the credentials of Holmes and Quigley as members of the great Brooklyn gypsy band Romashka, but after "Venus" the band mostly settle for dreamy art rock without any real surges in the energy level.

Planets is an interesting idea with some good moments, but on the whole it was a little too slow and a little too serious. I could easily picture They Might Be Giants taking the same concept and having a lot more fun with it than One Ring Zero did.

Overall grade: B-

reviewed by Scott


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