Happy Batman Day

Happy Batman Day!

I celebrated by going to The Phoenix Nest.

They were all out of stock of Clockwork Angels …

… but I did get my free Batman comic, along with the Magic: The Gathering 2015 Core Set.

Batman is very prog …

… because he’s a legend.

Just ask Brad Birzer.

Or how about U2?

Some Tool News

The waiting continues to be the hardest part with respect to the release of the next Tool album.  This Rolling Stone piece explains some of the reasons for the delay.  There are also some tantalizing details about what might be forthcoming:

So far, the process has yielded one song that Jones describes as “pretty much done.” Carey says the yet-untitled track is at least 10 minutes, in which it “goes through lots of changes and it’s got really heavy elements.”

In fact, “heavy” is a word both band members use to describe their new sounds. “Sometimes I feel we get a little too proggy or too into exploring time signatures but not getting heavy enough for my taste,” Jones says. “There are some good nose-bleeding riffs happening, and I’m really happy about that. It’s not out-of-the-gate crazy heavy, but there are these little journeys with nice paths that end up very heavy.”

“It’s all a little more ‘metal’ sounding, if I may,” Carey says with a laugh. “I’m having fun drumming on it. There is one other song [beyond the 10-minute tune] that I would say is pretty much there. It’s another one that’s pretty gnarly with some good double-kick [drumming] going on in it.”

Let’s hope they get these delays sorted out and get this album out soon … because the anticipation is killing me!

Latest The Reasoning News

And, my hearts beats faster. . . . The Reasoning reports at their own website:

Album and Tour News

So it would seem that Pink Floyd, Opeth, The Pineapple Thief, The Steve Rothery Band, Amplifier, Threshold and Flying Colors, to name but a few, are all releasing new albums in the latter part of 2014. As you know, The Reasoning had the very same idea (great minds, and all that), but after much deliberation, we have selflessly decided that the above-mentioned bands deserved to catch a break for once. We have therefore postponed the release of our album until the early part of 2015, to avoid unfairly creating a situation in which these other bands simply don’t get a look in. We care too much, obviously…

With tongue firmly removed from cheek, our album is sounding amazing already, harking back to some of the much-loved musical and vocal elements from our earlier days, but with a great deal of contemporary pizazz. After the whirlwind experiences of the past couple of years, we’re going to take some extra time to really develop and embellish this new piece of work, craft it to its very richest potential and, most importantly, ensure that we give YOU, our dear followers, your most enjoyable Reasoning experience to date. This is going to be a big financial investment for us – outsourcing the recording of drums and, for the first time, vocals, to some “big” studios. We’re also in talks with several mix engineers, both here and on the other side of the Atlantic – more on this soon. Particular time and attention will be paid to the capturing of voices this time around, with Rachel and Seb (our young French floozy) leading the way, ably embellished by Rob and Jake.

This leads us very nicely on the other reason for postponing the launch of album 5. Next year, 2015, is the 10th anniversary of the formation of The Reasoning, and so this new release offers us the perfect way of celebrating such an auspicious occasion. Not only will there be a very special tour to promote the album, we will be doing other things to make sure we share the whole thing with you – with bells on! Watch this space.

tourpostergreatescapeOur October/November tour this year will still be going ahead as planned, and will be entitled “The Great Escape Tour 2014”. During these shows, we intend to perform our Awakening album in its entirety, and to throw in some additional tracks – some not heard live for a LONG time! – from “Dark Angel”, “Adverse Camber” and “Adventures In Neverland”. Oh yes, and we’ll be road testing some brand new material from album 5 as well. This will be a rare opportunity for you to hear yet-to-be- recorded music and, for us, will be a really organic way of putting the final touches to the songs before we commit them to their final digital destinations. There will be plenty of scope for you to be involved as listeners, too, so more on that in the very near future.

We’re looking forward already to our autumnal Great Escape from the studio, and we can’t wait to hook up with you all for fun and frolics on the road, Reasoning style. In the coming months we will release the name of the album as well as some of the artwork, and will give you details of a little something special that’s planned for the 10th Anniversary tour next year. Finally, we will be setting up a special group on Facebook (if you are on Facebook) based purely around “The Great Escape Tour” where you can talk openly about your thoughts, expectations, and share anecdotes of past gigs etc. We won’t be setting up individual ”Events” on Facebook this time either. Part of the new approach to promote these shows is to utilize the use of modern, portable technology and therefore, we have set up the band on the app “BandsInTown”. Here is a little blurb about what is does…….

Not only does BandsInTown allow us to keep our schedule up to date easily, it provides fans with a really excellent way to be notified about bands they don’t want to miss when they’re on tour. It’s an intelligent app that pro-actively informs fans of new tour dates for all the bands they connect with and show interest in.

Our BandsInTown schedule can be displayed on our website, on Facebook, and other places so that any updates are sure to be seen everywhere.

Our own website diary will also be up to date and may contain even more details than is available on the BandsInTown app, and our Great Escape Tour group will be filled with a compilation of ALL tour related information.

So, there you have folks, I know this is a lengthy piece but, we never do anything by halves, after all! Don’t forget also, that the wonderful “HeKz”, who will be promoting a new album, will be joining us on the road. It’s going to be a corker so, come along, have fun and sing with us as you always do. We cannot wait to see you. We’ve missed you a lot. Be well and love to you all as always,

Rach, Matt, Jake, Keith, Rob and Seb xxxxxx

Neal Morse and Radiant Records News

Radiant Records

Hello all,

Greetings from Team Morse! We’re all so excited around here for Neal’s upcoming release – we can’t wait for you to hear this new album!

Pre-orders for “Songs From November” begin TOMORROW (Tuesday, July 22 at 10am CST). Neal will be autographing the first 100 copies, so don’t wait to grab yours!!

 

PLUS, all orders over $60 will receive 15% off TOMORROW and WEDNESDAY ONLY, so be sure to check out the rest of our store while you’re there! 

 

  

The new album, set to be released on August 19, 2014, is said to be Neal’s, “singer-songwriter – ‘feel good’ album”. Full of strong melodies and powerfully personal stories, it’s not the prog album you might expect from the progmeister – these songs are from Neal’s mellower, simpler side. In the words of one reviewer, ‘Songs From November’ is, “more in the vein of 1999′s S/T cd and 2001′s ‘It’s Not Too Late’ … despite the lack of Prog moments, this album is every bit Neal Morse.”

Fans of anything Neal Morse will not want to miss out on this one! Grab yours tomorrow at radiantrecords.com, where sound samples of the album will soon be available as well!

Blessings,

Megan Batista, Radiant Records

Nosound, July 31, 2014, The Robin, England

nosoundDear UK friends, feel free to gloat over the superiority of your access to prog venues.  Yours, green with envy, Brad

Regarded by critics and fans alike as one of the most interesting up and coming alt/art rock bands in Europe, Nosound inventively combines influences from ’70s psychedelia, ’80s/’90s ambient and contemporary alternative, progressive and post rock. The project started as a one man studio project in 2005 by Giancarlo Erra, but has since grown into a five piece band, evolving into something unique, focused and powerful. The music is evocative and intense, with personal songwriting. Influences range from Pink Floyd to Brian Eno, from Porcupine Tree to Sigur Ros, passing through rock and electronic/ambient.

http://www.therobin.co.uk/whats_on/giginfo.asp?gigid=3823

The Gift – “Land of Shadows”

cover

London’s The Gift have created a true masterpiece with their second album, “Land of Shadows.” In fact, I believe this is my favorite prog album of the year thus far, and there have been a lot of fantastic albums released this year. Their sophomore release comes eight years after their first album, “Awake and Dreaming.” Due to various circumstances, The Gift were never able to tour after their first album, and the project as a whole was set aside for several years until founder Mike Morton decided to breathe life into the band again.

So who are The Gift? On vocals and flute: Mike Morton. Guitars: David Lloyd. Bass: Kirk Watson. Keyboards: Howard Boder. Drums: Joseph Morton (Mike’s son).

Their music is self-described as symphonic prog, but I find that it ranges anywhere from that to prog metal to Gabriel-era Genesis prog back to symphonic prog. It’s really quite a joy to listen to. The technical skill of the musicians is certainly excellent, with the guitar work standing out as being exceptional. There are echoes of 70s “golden age” guitar along with hints of more modern metal guitar. Mike Morton’s vocals are fantastic and unlike anything I have heard in progressive rock. Interestingly enough, his voice instantly reminded me of Christian singer Steve Green, which is indeed a very good thing, as Steve Green has one of the most remarkable voices I have ever heard. The interplay between the instruments and Mike’s voice is simply beautiful.

“Land of Shadows” starts off with a short, spoken word piece entitled, “I Sing of Change.” It aptly sets the stage for the whole album. The second song, “The Willows,” seems to move through several sub genres of prog throughout its 12 minutes of awesome. It starts off quiet and slow, with soothing piano, drums, acoustic guitar and Mike Morton’s haunting vocals and lyrics. At about the 3 1/2 minute mark, the song quickly delves into The Gift’s version of progressive metal. Later, it circles back around to symphonic prog and a greater focus on the lyrics. By the end of the song, it almost feels like you are listening to Pink Floyd. But, to be sure, The Gift never copy the work of other bands. Instead, they blaze their own trail in this third wave of prog.

Each track on this album is fantastic, but I particularly enjoy “The Willows,” “Walk Into the Water,” and “The Comforting Cold.” Coming in as the fourth track, “Walk Into the Water” is a song of hope. I can’t help but hear references to baptism throughout the song, both in spiritual rebirth, and physical baptism. Specifically, I believe the song references the journey one takes as they prepare to die:

Walk into the water / Throw away your fear, wash away the pain / Walk into the water / You’ve nothing left to lose, mystery to gain… Take a quick look behind at your footprints in the sand / As you wade in blind it’s time to leave dry land / And walk, walk into the water…

Band photograph by Sabrina Dersel

Band photograph by Sabrina Dersel

The contemplation of death and rebirth in “Walk Into the Water” ties in perfectly with the seventh track on the album, the nearly 20 minute long “The Comforting Cold.” This song takes the Biblical story of Lazarus and places it in the modern day. In it, a tired worker dies of a heart attack on a train, and is brought back to life by paramedics, only to wish he could have remained in eternity. The song questions whether or not someone who had just died would really want to return to life, but it also reminds us that our time on earth is not guaranteed. We aren’t promised another day, and we must be ready for the reality of death. While this sounds depressing in a Pink Floyd “Animals” sort of way, it really isn’t. Actually, it is quite the opposite, offering hope where there should be despair.

The Gift have created something uniquely special with “Land of Shadows.” This is an album that I have thoroughly enjoyed over the past several months. The hope that this album offers the listener is refreshing. Of all the albums released in 2014, I think that “Land of Shadows” is one of the best pieces of art I have heard this year. Listening to this album is like looking at a fine painting. You can listen to this album over and over again and still hear something new and interesting in it, just like you can always find something new in a good painting. From the technical musical skill, to the soaring vocals, to the haunting lyrics, “Land of Shadows” is a must-have from 2014.

 

http://www.thegiftmusic.com/index.php

20 Looks at The Lamb, 13: Shuffle

Now, here’s a thing I normally would NOT do.  (That “not” is as emphatic as you can make it.)  But I’m going to do it, and I’m inviting you to do it with me.  I’m doing this as my 13th look (regard) at The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

Yes, I’m superstitious, and that might be part of what has presented me with a sort of “block” for a while.  That plus all the other personal-life stuff that you don’t care about.  If I do this as number 13, and nothing comes of it, then we can just go on.  But “nothing” coming of it might be just the ticket, after all.  Without nothing, there might not be anything.  (I’m thinking Heidegger, if you sort of know about that; if you don’t then never mind.)

shuffleBut I am going to do it.  I expect it might hurt, but I’m going to do it anyway.  You can do it with me, but (as always) only if you want to.

I’m going to listen to it on “shuffle.”

One shuffles the cards so that the next deal will be fun.  It’s not truly random, but it might as well be from our point of view (if it’s done thoroughly).  If it’s not fun, feel free to call “misdeal.”

Are you in?

Live in Langley: Double concert with singer-songwriter Kathleen Claire @DeAngelisEnt and musical duo A Guy and A Girl @GuynGirl

A Guy and A Girl

Always support your local musicians. Go see their concerts as often as you can.

There’s nothing quite like hearing live music. Nothing can replace the unique and unrepeatable experience of talented artists sharing their gifts in concert.

Last night I had the chance to hear a wonderful double concert in Langley, British Columbia, at St. Nic’s which showcased musicians I have known from their past presence on the local campus here at TWU. It’s so great to see them now play live in concert.

The first half of the evening featured singer-songwriter Kathleen Claire, now visiting from out-of-town. Hearing Kathleen Claire’s voice live in concert is an amazing experience. She has such a delicate and dynamic range of vocal stylings, she sounds different from song to song, and she even does unexpected things within a single song to change things up and to surprise and delight. The intimate rapport that a singer-songwriter and her guitar can establish with an audience will always be something special to the live concert, and Kathleen seizes upon all of the genre’s possibilities. Kathleen played a perfectly paced set that included an impressively diverse sampling of her own songs, with even two brilliant covers thrown into the mix — CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” and Joan Osbourne’s “One of Us” — which she transformed in very interesting ways to make them a part of her musical universe. Kathleen released her debut album a couple of years ago and is currently working on her next one with a UK record company.

Kathleen Claire

The second half of the evening featured local singing sensation A Guy and A Girl. Jesse LeBlanc and Kathleen Dunn have been playing concerts together for three months now and they have a lot of people excited with their musical chemistry. They took top prize in a local talent contest, and I am sure we will be hearing more from them as they continue to share their infectious love of music. Their set featured a whole lot of fun, including a lot of joking around between numbers, and they took great pleasure in getting the audience involved in their hijinks as well, encouraging everybody to sing along at a number of points in the evening. Early on, Jesse introduced a song he wrote by saying that people should sing along if they know it, but then apologized that because he wrote it nobody had heard it yet and nobody would know it. Later in the evening, however, audience members could be heard singing along to real musical opportunities that the duo provided for full participation. With Kathleen on keyboard and Jesse on guitar, A Guy and A Girl combine two quite different voices into one musical experience and it is always a pleasure to hear them singing beautiful harmonies. They bring a lot of energy and excitement to their music, which ranges from the quiet and introspective to the revved-up and percussion-enhanced celebratory sing-alongs.

A Guy and A Girl

Support your talented local musicians. Always go see their hometown concerts and buy their music online. Thanks to digital downloads, you too can share in the magic while hoping that they will some day come to your own town on tour:

Kathleen Dunn, Two Hearts

Kathleen Claire, Lyrics of a Woman

Tin Spirits, SCORCH–Coming in September

Poor Icarus.

Poor Icarus.

 

Tin Spirits has issued the following press release

Esoteric Antenna are pleased to announce the release of the album ‘Scorch’, the much anticipated follow up to Tin Spirits debut album ‘Wired to Earth’.

As you would expect of a band that includes XTC’s 6-string genius Dave Gregory, ‘Scorch’ is a celebration of guitars and harmony with songs that immediately captivate and engage. Lovingly crafted over two years ‘Scorch’ was mixed ‘old school’ with fingers on faders by acclaimed producer Paul Stacey (Black Crowes, Noel Gallagher), resulting in a sonic experience guaranteed to be a highlight of this year’s new releases. 

Along with Dave Gregory, Tin Spirits’ fellow Swindonians Mark Kilminster (Vocals, Bass) and Doug Mussard (Drums), as well as the Australian import Daniel Steinhardt (Guitar, Vocals) notably of TheGigRig, have carved themselves a unique niche being unashamedly progressive yet entirely accessible. From the rapturous tones of the instrumental opener ‘Carnivore’, to the introspective anthem ‘Little Eyes’ and the progressive epic ‘Garden State’, “Scorch” is an album that shows Tin Spirits have truly come of age with one of the most exhilarating and satisfying releases of 2014. The album will be preceded by a digital single “Summer Now” released 8th September.

Yes, I’m thrilled.  The first release, WIRED TO EARTH, has been a favorite since it came out.  What I appreciate most, however, are the lyrics of the fourth track, “Broken.”  Few songs have moved me so much.

 

Four guys, sowing their seeds of love.

Four guys, sowing their seeds of love.

Johnny Unicorn: A Bit of History

Earlier today, before a quick hike in the Rockies with my kids, I asked Johnny Unicorn (in reality: John Adams; but not the former president) to give me a bit of history of himself.  He very kindly sent the following (below).  As some of you might remember, I was really taken with his previous release–SADNESS AND COMPANIONSHIP.

sadness and companionship

The forthcoming, ANGELS IN THE OORT CLOUD, looks even more interesting.  As I mentioned at the time of the first release, I think that Johnny Unicorn embraces the spirit of PHISH–wacky, innovative, and yet always very serious about the art.

Here’s what Mr. Unicorn wrote today (a huge thanks to him for taking the time!):

***

“Johnny Unicorn” has been my solo project since 2006.

2006, 2007, 2008 – “Dates Or Non-dates”, “Riversongs”, and “Put Your Mind Inside My Mouth”

    JU was the only member of the recorded or live band except for occasional live backing vocalists (Audri the Great, Joy Moore) and one show with a full band (Jabari Parker on drums, Joel Weinstein on bass, and Audri and Joy on backing vocals).

2010 – “Sweet Edith Manton” 

    JU recruited old friend Jason Campbell to play drums on the album. Toured the Northern U.S. as a one-piece

2011 – “Thinking Hard To Overcome Nervousness” 

    Lots of guest musicians played on the album. JU toured the U.S. again as a one-piece. Later in the year, Naomi Smith and Jesse Mercury (formerly Plack)(http://jessemercury.bandcamp.com) joined the live band on synth and drums respectively.  Roy Garcia played drums in the live band also in 2011.

2012 – West coast tour with Plack, Smith, and Unicorn (playing JU songs and Jesse Mercury songs) plus Autumn Electric.

2013 – “Sadness And Companionship” – Album recorded with just two musicians, JU and Naomi Smith. After successful Kickstarter campaign, Max Steiner joins live band as guitarist, and Ian Steiner replaces Jesse on drums for another Northern U.S. tour.

The forthcoming album from Johnny Unicorn.

The forthcoming album from Johnny Unicorn.

2014 – “Angels In the Oort Cloud” – Album recorded with a handful of guest musicians, including “Edith Manton” drummer Jason Campbell. Chris Barrios joins live band on drums. Max Steiner moves to Germany.

2015 and beyond – “Heavy Jugs To the Moon” is a 25-27 song double album that includes a horde of guest musicians, including all current live band members and many past members, and people i met on the internet. The songs are in a dramatic range of styles and they are all relatively short. The following album “Indentations” will be a four song album (all over 15 minutes) and will only include the current live band members and possibly some piped in guitar from overseas, except for one song that is a string quartet with vocals. Following this album, I am writing an album for jazz orchestra. In the interest of saving my ears, future JU tours will most likely be acoustic. After that, it’s all just vague ideas that will solidify as soon as room is freed up in my brain.

I am currently actively working with the following bands:

Horace Pickett (http://horacepickett.bandcamp.com) since 2011

Autumn Electric (http://autumnelectric.bandcamp.com) since 2012

Phideaux (http://phideaux.bandcamp.com) since 2007

johnny unicorn image

***

What an amazing person.  Again, thank you, Johnny, for taking the time!  To pre-order the new cd, click here.

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