MP3 Z-plan - A Change From Within
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ROCK: 80's Rock, POP: Beatles-pop
Here's what people had to say about our first CD Circus
A change from within is even better!
Ola Granshagen, June, 2000
Sometimes you get surprised in more than one way.
When I first heard about the US act Z-PLAN, I just knew they had a CD out co-produced by none other than JEFF CANNATA (of solo and ARC ANGEL fame).
It turned out that it is absolutely not AOR, but really high quality melodic rock! Z-PLAN consists of Pete Hodson, Bill Welch, Larry Nero, Dean Christiano and ED Merola (yes, it says capital ED).
Right from the opener "So long to yesterday" I think that this is what BOSTON would sound if they decided to slow things down a bit.
And in "Guilty" you might think of the fantastic Canadians CHEEZ BROS (changed their name to Zen Archer later on), if you know about them.
Otherwise it's like SUPERTRAMP meets BOSTON, and with a damn fine sound too.
Z-PLAN takes it to semi-powerpop in a few tunes, like "Circus" for example.
But mostly this is fantastic melodic rock, with quite a big share of acoustic rhythm playing.
It wouldn't be wrong to mention bands like EAGLES or VENICE, either.
This is the fact in the song "Maybe".
And then you understand that Z-PLAN means good harmony vocals and wonderful melodic rock in a rather soft outfit.
You must check this band out, because they're ready to break world wide ." They are simply just that good".
Bill's Best Rock Music Page, May, 2000
From looking at the Z-Plan website and reading the band's song lyrics, I was immediately encouraged as to the music I was anticipating.
The lyrics looked like proper, thoughtful song-writing, something that had feeling in them and something to say - not just a load of words churned out to fit a song.
On hearing "Circus", I was pleasantly surprised to hear a nice gentle melodic sound.
A rock band more intent on saying what they want to in their own (peaceful) kind of way, rather than entertaining a crowd with loud rock'n'roll.
"So Long to Yesterday" is a moderate paced sof tmelodic opener, with a chorus where the band sing beautifully in harmony.
You may think this is a ballad, and a strage way to start an album, but it is no different to the rest of the album in terms of heaviness.
The whole album is very 'easy listening'.
"Guilty" is a simple song about love, with a perfect drum beat.
The title track is probably my favourite track, with its highly emotional chrous and a superb instrumental with some fariground music which is integrated superbly with the band's playing.
"Calling Out" is another perfect ballad, which makes you want to cry in emotion, just hearing the intro.
It's chorus is very catchy and haunting.
Track 5, "Maybe" is a short peaceful acoustic song, with just a guitar and vocal harmonies on top - something a little different.
"Believe" is much similar to "Guilty" and "Time Will Heal You" and "Paradise" are also laid back gentle songs.
Just as you are starting to get sick of so many ballads(!), "Don't Wanna Wait" kicks of with a rocky, and slightly funky, electric guitar riff but does not turn any heavier, so lies as a 'passive' rock track, with a chilled drum beat.
"Part of a Dream" is probably the rockiest track on the album, and can be turned up loud and jumped around to a bit.
It has an amazing low voice at the chorus "it's all part of a dream....".
Superb! "Let Love Lead the Way" turns down the pace a bit, and prepares us for "Lessons" which yet another lovely ballad, which goes on for 6 minutes plus and brings the album to a satisfying, gentle end.
Overall, a top melodic album, to be played when you are in a chilled mood and want to sit back and relax, but have a bit of a beat to keep you awake, but then the vocal lines will do that anywhay because you'll be singing along! A strong and encouraging debut.
Maybe the biggest criticism would be a lack of diversity in the songs, but this is a debut and a band needs to set their style, and it's a style I like.
Look forward to the next one.
Indie Journal, March 2000
Z Plan is a throw-back; one of those extremely well-produced AOR (Adult Oriented Rock) bands which were so prominent in the late 70's and early 80's.
At times I am reminded of Journey, Kansas, or the Eagles, but mostly Circus feels and sounds like REO Speedwagon in their craftiest.
What stands out, even above the beautiful acoustic guitars, layered keyboards, and melodic lead guitar riffs, is the harmonies.
At times drawing on the 3-part style of C,S&N, and at times just 2 perfectly spaced vocals, these guys don't miss a note.
Although the Z Plan sound is identifiable throughout the CD, there is sufficient variation in the songs to keep the listener interested.
From ballad to straight ahead rock to simple love song, this group makes music with a passion.
The opener, "So Long To Yesterday," rocks in a driving sort of way, with a few spots hitting exquisite C,S&N style harmonies.
The title song "Circus" is a sort of upbeat tune starting with a circus organ and moving into a more traditional classic rock style.
"Calling Out" is a softer power ballad, but still makes use of great harmonies.
"Maybe" is all together different from most of the CD.
It's probably my favorite simply because the wonderful vocals are nearly naked without any instrumentation other than a simple acoustic guitar to hold them up.
A beautiful love song and in my opinion the most likely candidate for hit status.
Another tune that blends a classic rock perfection (more C,S,&N-like 3-part harmony) with the soft waves of synthesized strings and piano is the love song "Believe," another radio friendly tune that would surely see success on any AOR station.
Not only do these guys sing incredibly well, but they are all solid musicians.
Z Plan consists of Pete Hodson on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, and keyboards; Bill Welch on vocals and acoustic guitar; Larry Nero on vocals; Dean Christiano on drums; and Ed Merola on Bass.
Individually each demonstrates a solid command of their respective instrument, and together they form one tight unit.
If you are the type of person who is sick of the simple, quickly thrown together songs of the 90's, and long for a return to a time when rock music was carefully written, performed and recorded (and had actual melodies), you'll enjoy Z Plan.
Circus is highly recommended.
Hot Rock, February 2000, by Thomas Persson
So, who are Z Plan? Well, I don't believe they are the kind of rockers that trashes hotel rooms and constantly gets arrested..."Circus" is one slick album, everything feels to be thought over and over again.
Every bit of sharp edges has been gently polished away.
Does this mean that this is perfection into boredom? Absolutely not! I think this is one of the best soft rock albums that I've ever heard.
"Calling Out" is so awesome, totally amazing! A perfect blend of softness and attack.
This band should be very happy for singer/producer Pete Hodsons vocal performance, on this track and trough out the whole album.
One hell of a voice!
"Maybe" must be the best Simon & Garfunkel song that they never wrote! A solid performance from a band that shows how diverse the label "Rock" can be.
Don't look for any head banging material on "Circus", but loads of stunning arrangements and a great overall production.
Jeff Cannata has been involved in the production side of the album and I'm sure that helped bringing out the best from the band.
Musical Crossroads, January 2000, by Matt Levitz
A few months ago, Z Plan stumbled across The Musical Crossroads, and e-mailed me to ask if I'd like to hear their album.
I said, "Sure," and when it arrived, I was blown away.
Amazing songs, great harmonies, and an excellent mix of acoustic and rock sound.
I can't recommend this album highly enough.
Major labels, are you listening?Currently, Z Plan's "Circus" can only be ordered through the band's webpage, or through the half dozen online CD stores the page links to.
Trust me and check it out.
Loud 1, January 2000, by Gez
What a brilliant album.
Produced by none other than PETER HODSON & JEFF CANNATA you have one of the biggest surprises of 99.
Stunning and mature song writing, crisp production and an excellent balance of light and more contemporary AOR songs and all delivered by some great musicians.
The harmonies that smother each track are quite breathtaking.
I expect to hear big things from these guys.
An essential purchase.
Classic AOR BOSTON meets REO SPEEDWAGON.
Just Plain Folks, January 2000, by Brian Austin Whitney
With echoes of ELP and CSNY, Z-Plans Pop Rock harmonies remind me of why those bands music endures.
It is just plain good.
Same can be said for Z-Plan whose songs have that classic rock quality, and sound fresh as can be in today's day and age of tired boy bands and the complete void of pop rock on the radio.
Slick production and strong songwriting on songs like "So Long To Yesterday," "Guilty" and my favorite "Circus" make this a band to be reckoned with.
I listen to this CD and imagine it being played right along side all the standards on classic rock today, and I wonder if programmers of those types of stations realize that there is new music of this magnitude that fits in so well, and sounds so good.
I can only hope!
Boston Sound Check, January 2000, by Double A
Z-Plan - Circus - 12-song CD > Recorded @ Victory Alley Studio; Produced and Engineered by Peter Hodson, Jeff Cannata, and Z-Plan
Lush guitars, excellent harmonies, and professional arranging, Z-Plan has a fine collection of pop/rock tunes here.
The keyboard work makes for an orchestrated sound that might send you back to '80s style pop and it is well played and presented so be it! The band has a knack for writing catchy hooks and writing the songs around the hooks.
Throughout the album they display a nice style of creating tension and release.
The guitar production, especially the acoustic guitar, is excellent, as this is a very important part of their sound.
I also liked their intros to a lot of the tunes, especially "Lessons" with good fretless bass work.
"Calling Out" and "So Long To Yesterday" were other favorites.
Collective Soul with Richard Marx are some of the ingredients I hear in this group, although they can have a nice darkness to their sound.
Really clean and professional vocals strengthen this band throughout the album.
Z-Plan is a band that has some serious songwriting skills in the pop/rock mode that will do very well in their genre if presented to the right people.
I'm happy to see that some bands just like to write good songs regardless of what's chic.
AORsters, - 8.5 out of 10 December 1999, by Guilherme Jr.
Judging by the beautiful cover, one could safety deduce that these American musicians are into avant-garde music.
But personal eccentricities aside, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a re-release from Dr. Hook back catalog, complete with The Eagles Western-flavor guitar riffs.
So you can expect several songs influenced by breathless melodicism of the 70's.Their music is very melodic, semi-acoustic AOR very well produced by Adult Oriented Rock hero Jeff Cannata (ArcAngel).
With amazing soaring vocals by Pete Hodson (vocals, guitars and keys), ED Merola (fretless bass) and intelligent lyrics, this debut offering marks Z Plan as a combo whose underground status is already guaranteed.
Thanks for making me relax and helping me find my peace of mind.
Air Music, November 1999, by Mark Kastle
I love rock.
I love melody.
I love great soaring harmonies.
I love this CD! I have to admit it took me a while to get to this CD, and like so many other times, I wondered why it took me so long to get to this one.
What a great combination of rock, lyrics, melody, fun, and power with clean licks, and a tightly produced recording that makes my day.
I was so impressed by their ability to change the mood of their music, while remaining true to their own style.
From the hardest pounding rock theme, to the prettiest of ballads, this is a work of art.
I really was torn choosing which songs to post on this page.
I loved the first two songs so much, I was tempted to stop there (So Long To Yesterday, track one, and Guilty, track two.) I figured the only solution was to offer track three, the title track, "CIRCUS," and track one, "So Long to Yesterday," although I hope you invest a couple bucks to have a lot of enjoyable music that I believe will remain timeless.
Rock and a Hard Place, November 1999, by Torch
If you've ever wondered what the definition of AOR, listen to Z-Plan's "Circus" and will all become clear.
There aren't a plethora of bands of this nature out there unfortunately.
I would assume they get their inspiration from bands such as Kansas, The Eagles, Little River Band and others of that nature.
The music is melodic, well-written, and well-produced.
The band uses melody and harmony to the full extent, unlike 99 percent of the new bands you hear, who wouldn't know melody if it bit them in the ass.
Z-Plan understands that the longevity of a song depends on the melodic content.
The title track "Circus" is an absolute classic gem that could easily be thrown into a classic rock or AC mix with no problems.
Lead singer and guitarist Pete Hodson has a voice that easily compares to the Classic voices of the 70's rock icons.
The rest of the band is equally talented, there is no denying the musicianship and quality song-writing of this band.
The problem with the music scene right now is that bands like Z-Plan get lost in the mix.
They're too light for an Active Rock Format, not established enough for an AC format, too new for Classic Rock, and they're not Country, although Country fans would like this stuff.
My theory is that a lot of the Female demographic that were into rock in the 70's and 80's drifted towards Country music because of the lack of good soft-rock/AOR bands.
Well, here's one that fits right into that mold.
The CD itself is full of great Melodic tracks, I did seem to be waiting for them to break out into an all out Rocker at some point.
Lead vocalist Pete Hodson teases you with some fabulous vocal ability, but the songs never get much heavier than mid-tempo rock.
Now my tastes is towards the heavier stuff of course, but I found A LOT of stuff I like here, more than average, and I've listened to the entire CD on numerous occasions.
It's not Party music, but on the other hand, it's not really loaded with sappy ballads.
It's simply great AOR mid-tempo melodic rock done extremely well.
The Jef Watson Page November 1999, by Amy Williams
I'd never heard of Z-Plan before getting the CD "Circus".
And that is a good thing because it's nice to listen to a band when you have no previous knowledge of their music in which to make comparisons.
The music can stand alone on it's own merit.And "Circus" definitely has a lot of merit.
What a pleasant experience for the ears! It's a laid-back AOR, heavily acoustic with absolutely beautiful, well-blended vocal melodies and harmonies.
The smooth vocal harmonies are probably the one feature that really stood out and grabbed me.
I found it somewhat reminiscent of a few 70's bands like Kansas or Boston, but with an updated style.
The lyrics are uplifting with positive messages which is so needed in today's music as we're still trying to forget all the grunge angst-filled lyrics.
The lead-off track, "So Long To Yesterday", was well chosen - it hooks you right away.
Things slow down and mellow out in the middle of the CD, only to come back and rock towards the end with tracks like "Don't Wanna Wait", "Part of A Dream" and "Let Love Lead The Way" which has a tight bass and drum combo pounding out a great rhythm.
When I heard the intro for "Don't Wanna Wait", I was almost expecting to hear Steve Perry start singing! All in all, a great collection of tunes that flow together and give the listener a real "feel-good" experience.
The Northern Light November 1999, by L.H.
Z Plan is Pete Hodson (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Bill Welch (vocals and acoustic guitars), Larry Nero (vocals), Dean Christiano (drums) and Ed Merola (bass).
"Circus" shows Z Plan's strength as a very melodic rock act with its feet firmly planted in the US soft rock tradition of the Eagles, CSN (Crosby, Stills and Nash) and even Simon & Garfunkel and the Beach Boys.
So you can expect a lot of harmony vocal arrangements and acoustic guitars on the album.
Another contemporary band that I can hear similarities with is Venice.There are twelve tracks on the album and they make up a very coherent bunch of songs.
It's clear that Z-Plan has a vision of what they want to sound like and where they are going.
They two key ingredients throughout are an incredible sense of melody and beautiful harmony vocal arrangements! There are hardly any fillers on the album but my only complaint, although a minor one, is that too many of the songs are done in a similar way.
My favourite tracks are the album opener and one of the more rocking tracks "So Long Yesterday", "Circus" with its sweet melody, "Calling Out" which sounds like a summery radio hit.
"Part Of A Dream" and "Time Will Heal You" are two more great tracks that stand out.
The bottom line is if you are a fan of great vocals and especially beautiful harmony vocals this one's definitely for you!
Moodswing November 1999, by Nigel Wilson
Verdict: In a world of bland & unoriginal music, Z Plan have created a unique sound and an uplifting album.
This album was actually released back in 1998, but it has only recently come to my attention.
I've checked out a few places around the web and the reaction when it was first released was very positive.
The band play AOR, but it isn't of the bog standard variety.
The Z Plan style is a gentle form of AOR with an emphasis on strong vocal harmonies.
In terms of comparisons Boston, but a chilled out Boston playing a semi-acoustic style."So Long To Yesterday" opens the album with some Boston style harmonies.
"Guilty" is one of the mid-tempo semi-acoustic tunes that is typical of the band.
I'm reminded of a band called Bread.
It is time to sit down, relax and enjoy.
The next batch of songs all follow the lead of "Guilty" i.e.
semi-acoustic & great vocal harmonies.
"Maybe" isn't so much a ballad as a lullaby where you'll enjoy the vocals so much that you'll hardly notice what else is going on the track.
I found "Believe" and "Time Will Heal You" uplifting to listen to.
My one criticism is that I sometimes find this bit of the album a bit 'one-paced', but I guess on those occasions I just haven't chilled out enough.
"Don't Wanna Wait" breaks the pattern when the band pick up the pace and the Boston style sound is in evidence again.
This is at it's strongest on the rockiest song on the album, "Part Of A Dream".
Once the band get fired up there is no stopping them.
"Let Love Lead The Way" is the third rocker in a row.
Needless to say the vocal harmonies are just as good on the rockers as the mid-tempo numbers.
Z Plan leave you quietly contemplating the "Lessons" of love.
More and more it would appear that artists in the AOR and Melodic Rock arena seem happy to borrow ideas and styles from both their contemporaries and predecessors.
That is why a band such as Z Plan are so refreshing.
Whilst there are many who have gone for the softer end of the AOR market and ended up producing albums full of sappy ballads, Z Plan have gone for a 'gentle' style.
In the lyrics department most of the songs seem to have an underlying positive message, rather than languishing in the self pity of 'lost love' songs more typical of the AOR genre.
The end result is an album which forges it's own identity and which I can best describe as an uplifting experience.
Flash Magazine October 1999, by Andrea Bertamino
Z PLAN "Circus" (Victory Alley Rec) vote: 90 "Circus" is the first album by this Connecticut based band and is honored by the presence of Mr Jeff Cannata, who co-produces it and gives the whole CD that touch of professionality that makes the final product attractive for all AOR/Westcoast fans."So long to yesterday" is an excellent starter with that vivacity mixing the first Zebra with a chorus in Boston style.
Moving into softer grounds, the semi-acoustic "Guilty" is graced by beautiful multi-layered voices, similar to King Of Hearts.
The appetizing "Circus" reminds me (in a strictly AOR context) of the progband Echolyn and shows an incredibly high radio friendly refrain.
The acoustic "Maybe" places itself between "More than words" by Extreme and Simon & Garfunkel, with "Time will heal you" and "Paradise" addicted to westcoast music.
In the end we find "Let love lead the way", a great AOR uptempo song that's reminicent of the '80s with Boston and Nelson among the most evident influences.
And "Lessons", an intense ballad that keeps the emotive tension high for all of its six minutes as well as offering a nice guitar solo by Pete Hodson.
The perfect vocals structures created by Bill Welch (gt), Larry Nero and Hodson (gt, keys) find in Dean Christiano (dr) and Ed Merola (bs) a valid and ductile rhytmic support, making of "Circus" an album to have
NY Rock / Street Beat October 1999, by Jeff Bercovici
I'm going to bestow upon Z-Plan the highest praise known to me: they sound like Boston.
Not enough like Boston, to be sure - there's really no substitute for Brad's bionic voice and Tom's godly fingers - but the similarities are more than just striking: lush, overdubbed vocal harmonies, glorious guitar solos galore, and more post-production than a James Cameron film.
They also have an unfortunate tendency to indulge in REO Speedwagon-like cheesiness; the lyrics to one song include "Lock me up and throw away the key/ If love is a crime then I'm pleading guilty." Nevertheless, it is clear from Circus that Z-Plan aspire, in their better moments, to a Bostonian ideal of perfection, and what more could you ask of a band?
EarBuzz.com October 1999
ZPlan is a four piece rock band from Connecticut who's music is a mix of influences from Kansas rockers, Fogelberg sweetness, and CSN harmonies, all wrapped within words that sound mysteriously Christian without any raw references to any faith.
"Only a fool would say that God isn't there, his mind is made up to reveal this love we share", in the Fogelbergish track "Maybe", is about as close as it comes.
The sentiment here is simple, lead a better life, better love, try harder, have faith in God, and the pain and struggles in life will be far more bearable.
Musically, ZPlan is heavily influenced by the music of the 70's and 80's, with production values that dial in everything from the distorted Rockman-esque guitars, to the reverb laden snare.
The sound result is gorgeous, and the highlight of this band are their harmonies - lush, exact, and melodic.
The songwriting is on-the-mark, with hummable hooks and emotional verses - in "Circus" the band reaches out for purpose, "life is a circus and every one's caught on the merry-go-round, life has its purpose and I could find mine if you'd just show me how".
We think they know how - making a sizeable donation to the musical circus is a start - that is accomplished here.
Particularly inventive and musically fresh is the guitar solo in "Circus", as singer/guitarist, Pete Hodson, treats us to a six string circus grinder of fun.
Cool record with a positive musical vibe.
Majestic Magazine, MMMM (rating out of MMMMM) Majestic Magazine, October 1999
Z Plan releases a very special CD with their debut Circus.
Because despite the use of electrical amplified instruments a big part of this album has a very acoustic feel to it.
So Long To Yesterday opens the album in style.
Big harmonies, a bit like Boston characterize this song.
This cracker is immediately followed by the incredible beautiful ballad Guilty.What a fantastic song! PETE HODSON shows us what he's capable of (Yeh right!)in a big way.
He has this great, high and clear voice with which he settles the sound of the album, together with LARRY NERO and BILL WELCH who do the backing vocals.
Circus is okay, but Calling Out is another fabulous ballad again.
On Maybe the Z Plan harmonies sound a little like Simon & Garfunkel.
Like it or not, it's very well done...Believe has some very clear CANNATA influences in the verses.
Not really strange when you know that this AOR legend is one of the producers of the album! I think Time Will Heal You is less appealing than the last two songs but still a good song.
It's a little poppy.Paradise has the same kind of harmonies as Calling Out.
It has this little sixties feel.
Mike Roth's slide solo is one of the highlights of the - already great- song."Heavy" guitars and a Hammond organ start off Don't Wanna Wait.
Suddenly it appears that Z PLAN - next to doing wonderful ballads and more laid-back songs - has no problem with the somewhat heavier stuff either.
Part Of A Dream begins more mellow and stays that way during the verses but in the choruses this track gets a little harder.
Not one of my favorites, but still okay.
Let Love Lead The Way is much better, I think.
The verses are a bit dull but that's made up for by the bridges and the choruses that are great, just like the solo.Lessons ends the album acoustic.
Another great ballad which makes me think of STYX.
The beautiful solo is done on an electric guitar.All in all a good album that does extremely well in the late hours.
(Ask the missus! :-))
Loud and Clear Kimmo Lauttalammi, October 1999
Z Plan's biggest claim to fame in the AOR circles may be the fact that Cult AOR hero Jeff Cannata produced their album, but I am sure that they will find their audience too.
I have had this album for a while, and it's a good thing I didn't review it in a hurry, because I like it now a lot more than I initially did.
Yep, what we have here is "a grower"! Most of these songs do not have immediate appeal, they may sound a bit samey and too slow for the most part after a few spins, but given time one might be able to find some hidden aspects in them.
At least that's what happened to me.
The music of Z plan reminds me a bit of The Bridge, the project of Lillian Axe vocalist Ron Taylor, acoustic guitar-driven pop rock.
Other influences my old ears picked up include King's X and Simon & Gartfunkel - check out "Maybe" if you don't believe.
I was half-expecting them to follow it with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or "Sound Of Silence"! The harmony vocalizing of these guys has to be heard to be believed! For me, the highlights were the more uptempo tracks like the catchy "Let Love Will Lead The Way" (A bit like Nelson) and "So Long To Yesterday".
Out of the more mellow - or should I say "dreamy"- material I especially liked "Guilty" and "Lessons" (nice surprise uptempo finale there!).
Admittedly I can't quite get a grip of all the songs, but as usually, I'll leave the final judgement to you.
I'd recommend this to anyone who's into the Bridge album, the lighter moments of Nelson's "Because They Can" or Simon and Garfunkel (hopefully I spelled that right!) with a modern approach.
Just don't expect anything to hit you right away...
AOR Central September 1999
For those of you who were wondering where Jeff Cannata had been for the past few years, the mystery is now solved, as we found him co-producing this great album from the east-coast USA melodic band, Z Plan.
While Z Plan aren't your typical AOR band and aren't your typical Melodic Hard Rock band, they do have influences from both genres of music.
I would say that they are more along the lines of a very melodic pop/rock band, combining acoustic and electric guitars and addictive harmony vocals.
The album begins with "So Long to Yesterday", a song that starts off the album on a very positive light and impresses with its great harmony vocals.
The first we noticed is that the vocal harmonies sound a bit like Chicago with Peter Cetera.
The production is also very well done, as is expected from Jeff Cannata.
The following song, "Guilty", is a beautiful ballad whose melodies are truly enchanting.
At this point the listener is completely convinced that the rest of the album will follow this very melodic pattern.
The vocal harmonies are quite similar to some of the Cannata material, and the song itself would be a good candidate for the best song in the album.
The title track, "Circus", is one of the more uptempo songs in this album, as it begins with some fantastic vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar.
One good thing about this album is that not one instrument dominates the others, as we have seen in albums that have a lot of acoustic guitar.
The chorus is equally impressive and is highly catchy, with its great combination of guitars and vocal harmonies.
"Don't wanna Wait" is perhaps the hardest song on the album (which does not imply that it is really heavy) and it is here where we finally see some heavier distorted guitar.
This is a very good combination of hard rock and pop, with its great rhythm playing and song structure.
Finally, another song that we should mention is "Let Love lead the Way" which is reminiscent to some of the Nelson material, especially their latest "Life" album.
In this song we hear a very good combination of acoustic and electric guitars, and the chorus is just superb, with its addictive melodies.
One of those choruses that you will find yourself singing along to for the rest of the night.
Overall, the album is quite good and full of great melodies and singing.
The only complaint we have about this album is that during the middle of the album, the songs tend to sound too similar to each other and are too soft.
Perhaps a bit more electric guitar and variety would have done it well.
Otherwise, "Circus" is a very well done album, both song-wise and production-wise.
If you are a fan of the Cannata material, or are a fan of great vocals and melodies, this is an album you should buy.
September 1999 Actual Website
Heart of the Rock Z Plan play in a semi-accoustic style and though their melodic influences are embedded in the seventies, they are still very much a product of the nineties.
Keeping the latter in mind, for me they are a mix of Venice, Nelson and Arizona's Innuendo, while their seventies feel harks back to the likes of Crosby Stills And Nash, no doubt due to the strong 3 part vocal harmonies supplied by Hodson, Welch and Nero.
The other 'Z Factor' on this album is that 'Mr Arcangel' himself Jeff Cannata does the CO/ production, and his influence helps proceedings most noticeably.
Track opener 'So Long To Yesterday' has strong vocal harmonies, and to me this rocks similarly to Randy Jackson's Zebra, off their 1st album.
The other notable rocker is 'Let Love Lead The Way' which could be Nelson.
'Guilty' is probably best representative of the entire album, a softer accoustic workout with layers of keyboard sitting behind it.
The title track 'Circus' moves into symphonic territory.
Are we sure Mr Cannata didn't have a hand in this? Next track 'Calling Out' has some gorgeous guitar melodies while the CSN feel is evident on 'Maybe' which is primarily a vocal workout.
'Paradise' is one of my favourites, a simple song but executed in a style not unlike Innuendo.
'Don't Wanna Wait' is another great track, and has a effective simple but catchy chorus.
The album closer 'Lessons' is near on 7 minutes and though it takes a wee while to warm up, the finish is worth waiting for.
Man .. those harmonies, whew! Overall, Z Plan have released a totally appropriate slice of melodic rock, which sits quite comfortably across a range of musical genres.
Those people out there who appreciate music spanning 3 decades in a fresh nineties approach will find Z Plan to their liking.
To get more info of the band, and to order a copy of this CD can go this web site address: http://www.z-plan.com/ Thanks to Pete and the Z Plan team.
Night Ranger/Neverland Craig Matusinski September 1999
This is some incredibly impressive stuff! I'd never even heard of these guys before this disc showed up on my doorstep, and I had definitely been missing out! While they aren't typical Detritus material, any fan of quality melodicrock should be able to get into this.
Z-Plan plays a brand of stripped back, polished, classy West Coast AOR, in the vein of King Of Hearts, Toto, and some of the quieter moments of Journey and Survivor.
The disc is co-producedby AOR cult figure Jeff Cannata, and not surprisingly the sound is also very similar to his solo work and his band Arc Angel.
The production, especially considering this is an independent release, is flat out amazing, and the musicianship, lyrics, and superb the vocals, are just stunningly good! The single greatest aspect of the disc has to be the perfect harmonies throughout, courtesy of Pete Hodson, Bill Welch, and Larry Nero.
The four strongest tracks are the opener "So Long To Yesterday", "Don't Wanna Wait", "Part Of A Dream", and "Let Love Lead The Way".
On these songs, the band lets loose a bit and starts to rock out as Pete Hodson shows what a top-notch rock guitarist he is.
The rest of the songs are acoustic-tinged, slow to mid-tempo smooth AOR, and though this could have had the potential to get boring, Z-Plan holds your interest totally, through every song.
This is just an all-around great, feel good, positive album that has a place in everyone's collection.
Metal and Hard Rock Area, Nicky Baldrian August 1999
Anyone remember classy aor songwriter Jeff Cannata? Well he turns up here as co-producer for American christian aor act Z Plan,and this is simply a must for fans of Journey, Southern Sons, Innuendo, The Rembrandts, King Of Hearts, and Richard Marx.
Fans of this genre will enjoy the west coast breeze that gushes off with open track "So Long To Yesterday",a song that demands your attention and delivers a great hookline.
The mooden hastens for the next song "Guilty", a delicious ballad baring similarties to Richard Marx and King Of Hearts.
The next ballad, "Calling Out" is pure west coast balladry a'la Nelson,Southern Sons and Nouveaux, capturing simplistic lyrics and very uptempo catchy vocals that continues into "Believe" and "Maybe",whilst "Paradise" features some great keyboard textures and rich guitar work before things thump into action on "Don't Wanna Wait" a beautiful song reminiscent of Toys Of Joy,West Of Sunset and The Tambourines.
"Let Love Lead The Way" is the most formulaised song with a great beat and uptempo melodies again similar to Nelson.
The final track on "Circus" is called "Lessons" and leans into a refrained piano led ballad that captures great performances from all the band.
Z Plan play it safe and stick there own creative voids, and in doing so create a winning formular that turns into a very pleasant listen that is most uplifitng and at times quite glorious.
Heavy Harmonies Rating (5 Stars Max) 4 1/2 stars Dan Harding July 1999
Well, well, well...every now and then a CD comes along out of nowhere and just absolutely floors you with its harmony, melody, production, and sheer musicianship.
This is just such an album! Laid-back "West Coast" AOR with wonderful hooks and harmonies.
The influences here are myriad, with interwoven touches of Toto, CSN, Chicago, Boston, Yes, and even 4 Him and Dan Fogelberg...overall a very "late '70s" feel to the album, but with upscale production.
This group takes the very best musical subtleties from many classic AOR groups and blends them into a style that is uniquely their own.
The musicianship is top notch, the production superb, and sure to please any fan of '70s-'80s AOR.
This effort far surpasses many of the efforts being released on major labels these days!
Strictly For Konnisseurs, Kurt Torster May 1999
Sometimes, when I've got nothing better to do, I plug the words "melodic" or "AOR" into the various search engines to see what comes up.
On a recent hunt, the band Z-Plan popped up.
This Connecticut four piece simply floored me from the start.
A bit of a cross between the lighter sides of Boston and Night Ranger with a touch of CSN thrown in, they play perfectly crafted AOR that beneath breathes a soul not normally found in the sometimes sterile genre.
On the first go around, I was left a bit stunned.
In fact, it took me a couple of listens just to try and put this review down as I became more impressed on consecutive listens.
Words like class and brilliance kept cropping up and the beautiful harmonies left me speechless.
These are easily some of the strongest vocal performances I've heard in a while.
I guess if I had to play favorites, the weaving "So Long To Yesterday" or the rocking "Don't Wanna Wait" and "Let Love Lead The Way" spring to mind.
But then, a song like "Guilty" or the dazzling "Believe" comes across and suddenly you have a new set of favorites.
Though maybe at times a tad on the mellow side for some, if you're looking to escape from the bombast, if even just briefly, then Z-Plan needs to be in your collection Think of this as coffee house AOR.
Music's New Artist Review, Sonji Rush MNAR November 1998
Having such a wonderful blend of harmony music and song, Z-Plan describes themselves as a combination of the best musicians in their area.
They prove themselves true to their word in a combination of styles and an expertise in all.
The album "Circus" meets their goal in changing the course of music in a positive direction.
Simply incredible Z-Plan Bringing back the meaning of GREAT music.
The Rock Report, Editor : Rick Huissene .October 1998
...great vocals from Larry Nero , Bill Welch and Pete Hodson.
The production was done by Jeff Cannata, so the sound perfectly fits by these kinds of songs, and there is no weak track on the whole CD ....far better performed than the average AOR-band .
Boston , Orion and RTZ fans will like this CD alot ...
music in the best tradition and performed with a lot of class .
Rock Notes On-Line, Ernie Todd , November 1998
With the release of their debut CD titled Circus, Z Plan displays a style of music reminiscent of early 70's bands like CSN and America.
The Branford-based group consists of Pete Hodson (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards), Bill Welch (vocals, acoustic guitar), Larry Nero (vocals), Dean Christiano (drums), and Ed Merola (bass).
Z Plan provides a dynamic sound from the mellow acoustic ditty, "Maybe," to the hard driving, "Let Love Lead The Way," as tight harmonies permeate throughout.
"So Long To Yesterday" is the strongest track with some nice lead guitar work by Hodson.
Another nice addition is the nifty slide guitar by guest artist Mike Roth on "Paradise." Overall, Circus is a refreshing alternative to much of today's hardcore genre.
Struterzine, (Points: 8.0 out of 10) February 1999
The debut CD 'Circus' contains both pure AOR and more West Coast orientated songs.
To my surprise JEFF CANNATA co- produced the CD.
The CD opens with "So long to yesterday", a great semi AOR ballad with a chorus like BOSTON/RTZ.
The next track "Guilty" is a good calmer semi AOR ballad with very nice harmonyvocals during the chorus.
The song reminds me of the old WHITE HEART.
After a nice progressive AOR song ("Circus"), we can hear a good AOR ballad titled "Calling out".
After this song, we are surprised with 4 West Coast orientated songs ("Maybe", "Believe", "Time will heal you" and "Paradise").
These songs are nice, but I prefer the AOR based songs, and happily the last 4 songs are quite good and AOR.
"Don't wanna wait" and "Part of a dream" are good melodic rocksongs somewhat like BLUE RAIN or FREEFALL.
My favourite track of the album is "Let love lead the way".
This song is uptempo early 80s AOR rock with influences of bands like BOSTON, FRANKE & THE KNOCKOUTS and DAVID ROBERTS.
Combined with a lovely guitarsolo, this song is a winner for the fans of pure 80s AOR.
Closing track "Lessons" is a nice calmer semi AOR ballad like WHITE HEART.
Also this song captures a great melodic guitarsolo.
Concluded we can say that ZPLAN is a nice supply to your collection.
MidWestern Skies, Juha Harjula, April 1999
Z PLAN "Circus" 1998 (Victory Alley Records) P: Z-Plan and Jeff Cannata
I don´t know if Z-Plan hails from US or Canada.
This album from Z-Plan is very good.
Z-Plan plays very smooth laidback acoustic AOR/Rock.
I have not been a big fan of this kind of music but this album from Z-Plan surprised me in a great way.
It reminds me very much of the second album from Nouveaux and maybe little Jars Of Clay.
One thing that strikes me is that this guys can really sing harmony vocals.
I don´t know what song I should write about because all the songs are nice to hear.
So long to yesterday is a good song with great harmony vocals.
Maybe is a nice ballad and listen to the harmony vocals and just enjoy.
Other songs that are worth listen to is Don´t wanna wait, Guilty and Let love lead the way.
The albums contains 12 songs and they are all nice to hear.
This is something you got to get if you like this kind of music.
This album is very well produced by Z-Plan and Jeff Cannata.
Great work guys.
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