Review – Emerald City Council – Motion Carries

Emerald City Council is an American progressive rock band, formed in 2021 out of a recording project produced by saxophonist/keyboardist Brent Bristow. The band features vocalist Jake Livgren (Proto-Kaw, newphew of Kansas’ Kerry Livgren) and drummer Noah Hungate (Team Illuminati, son of Toto’s David Hungate), along with Jeremy Nichols (Erin Coburn) on bass, and up and coming guitarist Seth Hankerson. Brandon Goff, Associate Professor of Music Industry at Francis Marion University, has also contributed significant guitar work as special collaborator to the band.

‘Motion Carries’ was written and produced by Brent Bristow and boasts a wide variety of styles and influences. The album has a unique blend of saxophone and guitar-driven material that fans of both classic and modern progressive rock will love. The album includes several guest appearances.

Bristow says of the album, “Producing this album has pushed me on many levels as a musician and songwriter. Everyone who worked on it put their heart and soul into bringing this material to life, which forced me to be better, and I could not be more grateful. While the songs can all stand on their own, I think we are providing a true album experience for those that want to lose themselves in music for an hour.”

I really love it when I get sent an email introducing me to a new band that I’ve never heard of and asking if I’d like to find out more. Music isn’t just there for enjoyment, it is a voyage of discovery and asks questions of the listener. When Brent Bristow contacted me and I checked out the two videos he had sent me, I knew I needed to know more about this intriguing band and immediately Jeffrey Combs narration and the dynamic, fast paced feel to opening track Realize I – Escape From the Ancient drew me in to this impressive and immersive musical journey. There’s a proper feel of truly American progressive rock to ‘Motion Carries’, which is not surprising knowing the musician’s pedigree, I can hear Spock’s Beard, Pattern Seeking Animals and Kansas throughout the album’s sixty minute running time. Realize II – Brutal Camouflage introduces us to Jake Livgren’s energetic and lyrical vocal delivery and to a really fluid delivery of the eloquent music which is dotted with intense saxophone at every turn and did I ever tell you, I love the saxophone?! Noisy Talking carries on the impressive storytelling with it’s edgy, high energy feel and Jake’s almost rap style vocals. The guitar playing on this album is next level good, Seth Hankerson providing the driving forward motion, ably assisted by Douglas Case, and Paul Bielatowicz delivering some incendiary soloing.

Mortal Game takes a more measured approach and heads down a more AOR/ classic rock route. Jake’s emotive vocal is superb and works perfectly in harmony with Heather Bristow and the sax is just spine tingling. It is a beautiful, soulful piece of music that will really touch you. Ice Thinning brings the exciting rhythm section of Noah Hungate and Jeremy Nichols into focus and really could have come from a modern Kansas album. The song is both powerful and graceful at the same time and packs a real stirring punch, especially on the notable chorus.

Now we get to the pièce de résistance, the gloriously pompous and wonderfully overblown prog epic Platforms of Illusion. This piece of music is just brilliant and has everything that a song of this nature should contain, all combined with a palpable sense of fun and enjoyment, isn’t that what music should feel like? Just sit back, relax and let this twenty minutes of pure musical inspiration wash over you. The time changes and segues keep you guessing at all times and the skill on show is just incredible. I’m a big fan of both Kansas and Spock’s Beard and, on this song especially, Emerald City Council give us a perfect amalgam of all that those two bands are great at. I’ve already said that Jake Livgren has a great voice and he really gets to shine here and as for Brent Bristow, this multi-talented musician is proving to be a force to be reckoned with.

Rather cleverly, after the mind blowing previous track, the band give us a lovely little musical amuse bouche in the shape of the light stepping, enjoyable instrumental Diversion 1 before we get back to the main event with the punchy, rocking No Thanks To You, a song that leans more towards the Toto edge of AOR and hard rock. The driving piano and rhythm section combine with the edgy riff to give a more classic rock focused feel, one that is only endorsed by the superb vocals and Mike Thompson’s epic solo. Realize III – The Comfort Of Suffering closes the album with another superb slice of hard rock infused prog. Soaring guitar and vocals and elegant bass and drums all combine to deliver another highly addictive song that will linger in your mind for quite a long while, especially the superlative melody.

Emerald City Council have entered the progressive rock scene with a massive bang. ‘Motion Carries’ is a superb album, utterly immersive and uplifting with incredible musicianship, soaring melodies and a real sense of fun. This is music that touches the mind and lifts the soul and I haven’t stopped smiling yet. Trust me, you need this album in your life!

Released 19th January, 2024.

Order from bandcamp here:

Motion Carries | Emerald City Council (

You can also order a copy signed by Brent Bristow at the band’s website here:

Online Store (