I must say that I, skeptic that I am, have thoroughly come to embrace The Tea Party into my music collection. As far as it stands now, I have all but their indie release in albums, and a few live songs I managed to pilfer. Since the odds of my seeing them live any time are about next to nil - about the same as my winning the lotto in California, and I don't play that often.
That aside, I have found that they easily have a place next to my other major musical love - Styx. And in some people's eyes, that must mean something, considering the "Styx fanatic" I was/am. (I've mellowed as I've aged... happens to all of us. Not that I still aren't listening/collecting!)
The Tea Party has this sound that I can't quite name, somethign that just draws me in. Jeff Martin's vocals alone astound me, hsi range and depth are so varied. Smooth as silk, or completely rough adn gritty, no song is a challenge to evoke a feeling for him it seems, and his rendition of Paint it Black on Tangents completely made me pay more attention. (I'm not a big fan of covers - most do not sound good or are pointless/overdone. This was great. Paint it Black happens to be one fo the few Stones songs I love. I like the Stones,.but I love Paint it Black.) As well his guitar work also amazes me - Heaven Coming Down just completely entrances me with the church bell-like opening/progression. The Halcyon Days is another one I love... there's so many I could list where I just love the guitar work!
Stuart Chatwood's bass playing makes such a wonderful undertone to the rest, and really lays a fundation of sound to build on. I've always loved the abss guitar underneath everything because it's so much fun to try and hear it in songs going along layng that foundation to build the 'house' of the song. The Bazaar comes to mind as one fo the songs where it's great to listen to.
The drumwork underneath everything is a driving force I can't help but listen to at times, and I definitely love to listen to Jeff Burrows drumming along ebhind many of my favorite tunes. It seems that Chatwood adn Burrows are on the same page constantly, nad laya grat groundwork to build on that there's no worries about wether something will come out or not. Overall, the three work so well, it's proof that a band can go somewhere if they just remember the simple things - each other, and thier creations.
As I've listened to the albums you can hear the progression they've made in music. Splendor Solis is a great offering indeed, and The Edges of Twilight shows that growth and depth form more experience and a new flavor of foreignness - moreso then was in Solis. Edges still has some growing to do with me, but I still like it much - Sister Awake, Fire in the Head, Correspondences all have places, along with SIlence and the Bazaar. Past that, we come to Transmission, which made my ehad turn again, after having been indulged in TRIPtych for awhile. Transmission easily topped out my hopes and really woke me up - the sounds and feelings it has are definitely something I like. It showed more progression, and new things, yet it was still them. TRIPtych was the first album I had laid hands on, and had the most appeal to me at that point - The Halcyon Days and Heaven Coming Down were more then enough reason for me, along with The Messenger. I fell in love with TRIPtych's ways, this seeming blend of three styles into one. The eastern influences mixed well with their other work - the harder sound found on Transmission and also the more pop/balland softer works such as Heaven Coming Down. I wasn't sure if I would like The Interzone Mantras, having been warned it wasn't like their past work too much. But once I gave it a chance it's easily become another major favorite, with songs like Lullaby, Mantra, Requiem, and Dust to Gold easily winning me over. I can't say I really dislike any of their albums, and will listen to every song at least once in awhile.
I am awaiting their next album to see what else they can amaze me with. I have yet to find a good reason to dislike them.