Happy Birthday to a Hero

That brooding stare from the record sleeve of Leftoverture (1976) belongs to Kerry Livgren, born this day in 1949.  Despite being an early kerryBoomer, Livgren was, (as he wrote in the song “Two Cents Worth”) “born in the wrong century.” At an early age he was rapt in the majesty of Lutheran hymns, Strauss, and Wagner, arising from a Swiss church and a relative’s phonograph into the vast sky above Topeka, Kansas. Although his early gigs included a R&B band, Livgren would carry the classics with him into a career that carved out one of the most distinctive sounds in progressive rock — a fusion of jazz, classical, arena rock, and country. The music of Kansas (the band) was as fierce, dynamic, and restless as the cover art to their eponymous first release, a painting by John Stuart Curry of John Brown astride “bleeding Kansas.”

As a teenager growing up in the southern Piedmont of North Carolina, I, too, was listening to Also Sprach Zarathustra, Elektra, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. But I was also weaned on the Stanley Brothers and Buck Owens; so when I heard the opening harmonies and heavy bombast of “Carry On Wayward” erupting from the FM station my dad managed, I found something musically that harmonized what had seemed distressingly disparate tastes. Livgren proved you can put these diverse elements together and make something glorious and coherent of them.

The greatness of Kansas’ music never rose higher, in my mind, than “The Pinnacle” (Masque, 1975); but majestic moments are found all over of the band’s catalog. Moreover, coupled with the music was Livgren’s deep spiritual search. As a rocker from the Plains he epitomized Jesus’ challenge to, “Seek, and you will find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” If there was one American who exhausted the religious and philosophical well of thought, it was Kerry Livgren. That search, chronicled on Kansas’ albums, concluded with a return to the faith of fathers. Livgren wrote of his career and conversion in Seeds of Change (1980, 1991), an autobiography coauthored with Kenneth Boa.

Settling the religious question did not settle Livgren’s music. As a solo artist he wrote — and, in Todd Rundgren fashion, played all the instruments — on a characteristically diverse and fascinating album, One of Several Possible Musiks (1989). Together with Kansas bassist Dave Hope (now an Anglican priest, btw) Livgren formed AD, releasing a string of albums in the ’80s of ’90s. In 2000 he produced one of his best solo efforts, Collector’s Sedition (an album I was privileged to review for PopMatters) that again showcases the sheer breadth of his interests and abilities.

In his bio Livgren introduced the tantalizing subject of the “pre-” Kansas bands — Kansas I and II, featuring Lynn Meredith’s histrionic vocals and John Bolton’s wild, Coltrane-inspired saxophone solos. Doing the prog world an unspeakable service, Livgren re-mixed and released Early Recordings from Kansas, 1971-1973 (2002), which I would say holds up as a prog album worthy of any collection. On the strength of that effort, the aptly named Proto-Kaw became a band again, touring and recording three new albums.

We’ve barely scratched the surface here; but suffice to say that Kerry Livgren is a renaissance man: church elder, husband, father, farmer, pilot, student, promoter of others’ gifts and talents, and yes, a brilliant composer, arranger, and musician.

Happy birthday, Kerry Livgren. Thank you for a tireless witness to honesty, truth, beauty, and order over the past five and a half decades.

Rock is NOT Dead

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 7.28.05 PMI must admit, I’m so utterly frustrated by all of the “Rock is dead” doomsayers over the past week that I’d like to wretch (or, retch–you know, either way).  Really big time.

Here’s the latest complaint–from the London Telegraph of all things (isn’t this supposed to be one of the respectable papers, or am I confusing it with the Daily Mail?)–to follow laments from CLASSIC ROCK mag earlier this year, a member of KISS who seems to resent much of life, and every single human who has decided to hate U2: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11089923/The-decline-and-fall-of-rock-and-roll.html

[A quick side note.  You have Apple and you don't like U2?  Easy--hit the image of the album and drag it to your trash.  Your Mac will then ask you if you would like to delete or hide.  Deleting it actually deletes it.  No offensive U2 ever need show up in your library again, and you will have accomplished this is far less time than it took for the album to download to your computer.  In fact, it will take you less time to delete the album forever from your personal space than it will for you to write a comment on the web or even an article for a respectable English newspaper about how much you dislike U2, Bono, Apple, Catholics, Apple pies, Irishmen, or whatever your current dislike is.]

I have no idea if I’m using this term correctly, as I’m not English.  But, my first thought is: what a wanker that Telegraph writer must be.  Did I use the term correctly?  What say you, Mr. Andrew Woods?  Here in the British colony of the United States, we’d just call you a prig.

Of course corporations try to conform us.  They give us lots of good stuff, but they also make the world a lot less interesting. They want us as consumers, and consumers are much easier to manipulate when only the same tepid and pallid mush is being served.  Is the Telegraph suddenly a not-for-profit paper?

The next time a corporation tries to sell you something, just walk away.  It’s really not that hard.  Turn away from the offensive thing and move in the other direction.

Growing up in Kansas, I knew next to nothing about NME.  What I did know: NME looked like a bunch of quasi-trash porn that wealthy children in Kansas City might purchase out of boredom.  I didn’t pay attention to it or to Rolling Stone.  When Rush came out with a new album, I bought it.  When Tears for Fears came out with a new album, I bought it.  When Kate Bush came out with a new album, I bought it.  When Talk Talk came out with a new album, I often bought two copies, one as backup.  I didn’t look to NME or Rolling Stone or whatever rag was available at the time telling me what to think and wear and write and read.  I worked very, very hard for my music collection.  Sure, I made a few missteps, such as once purchasing a Howard Jones album.  But, I also collected a lot of great music, much of which I treasure to this very day.

What many music journalists, record labels, and professional wankers have yet to figure out is that the market for art is now as decentralized as humanly possible.  The internet gives us as much space to be excellent as it does to be mediocre.

Some of the music being made right–including and especially the vast majority of music we have the privilege of reviewing at progarchy–is some of the best rock music ever made.  Here and now.  Not merely there and yesterday.  Here and now.  Right here, right now.  Rock is so far from being dead that I can barely keep up with so many enticing, interesting, and dramatic releases.

The author of the Telegraph piece can’t see beyond the very corporations he so hates and, thus, he becomes a conformist in his own cry against conformity.  Face it, Mr. Andrew Telegraph, you are the establishment.  And, from what I can tell, you always have been–especially when you read magazines such as NME, then or now.

One last thought.  I really don’t care if U2 recorded forty-five minutes of The Edge working in his back garden.  Any group of artists who can write and record October have earned a position of respect in the world.  I, for one, will give them the benefit of the doubt, and presume good (and, yes, profit-seeking) motives on the parts of Mr. Bono and Mr. Cook.

On Mr. Andrew Woods?  The jury is still out.

[P.S.  I'm glad Mr. Woods mentioned his daughter.  My thirteen-year old daughter can name every member of Rush, Big Big Train, and The Tangent, and she knows almost every lyric written by FROST*.  Care to compete?]

Evil Scarecrow’s new album, Galactic Hunt

Evil Scarecrow

Galactic Hunt


13 October 2014

evil scarecrow‘GALACTIC HUNT’

Release date: October 13th

The finest heavy metal band ever to write a song about a robot… probably.


Following on from their EPIC performance at Bloodstock Festival to upwards of 12,000 people at 11am, Evil Scarecrow are now gearing up for the release of their long awaited 3rd album (the first recorded with their current line-up) ‘GALACTIC HUNT’ with the legendary producer Russ Russell (Dimmu Borgir, Napalm Death, The Wildhearts, Exploited, Evile, Sikth, Oaf etc) at the helm.

As ever the album will include influences from across the metal genre melded together with the inimitable Evil Scarecrow humour and just a smattering of some rather more imitable dance moves!

Galactic Hunt was produced and mixed by Russ Russell at Parlour Studios, Kettering, UK

Mastered by Dexter Russell in the garden.

The album can be pre-ordered here:


It can also be pre-ordered from Amazon here:


Dr Rabid Hell has some “words of wisdom” on the making of the album and their 7 foot robot, Whitaker 5:

“We worked with some incredible people to bring this album together; a world class producer in Russ Russell, a guest accordion player and very special guest Hugo Myatt. You might remember him as Treguard from the classic cult TV show Knightmare. We thought it’d be great to get him to do some voiceover for our track that pays homage to the show. Famous for playing Treguard in the cult, classic tv show Knightmare, we thought it would be great to get him to voice over for our track which pays homage to show. He also added some extra layers to some other tracks, most notably Space Dementia! He was a total legend, and his missus was bloody lovely too! Space dementia is sounding super War-of-the-Worlds-epic because of his contribution”

“With Brother Pain being a time traveller and a bit of a kleptomaniac we occasionally find some gems in his massive horde of collected trinkets. We’ve had Whitaker 5 for a while, knocking about in our giant gothic sky castle in Norway. He was getting cranky just wandering around bringing us the occasional packet of Space Raiders and cartons of his special moon juice, so we thought if we wrote a song featuring him [Space Dementia] we could probably just pretend he was prop and let him on stage to bust his moves. It gets him out in the open for a bit of a dance, keeps his mind off world domination for a while. The earth owes us big time really. The sheer power of our music must have saved humanity a thousand times over. You’re welcome by the way!”

You can check out their stunning Bloodstock performance & utterly bonkers crowd here:




Upcoming live shows:

Saturday 20th September – WRONGSTOCK, The Underworld, London

Saturday 11th October – The Portland Arms, Cambridge

Wednesday 12th November – The Waterfront, Norwich – Supporting Diamond Head

Thursday 20th November – Warehouse 23, Wakefield – Supporting Diamond Head

Saturday 13th December – The Underworld, London – With Lawnmower Deth

Saturday 3rd January – Yardbirds, Grimsby

Saturday 14th March – Hammerfest, Wales

Previous releases:

‘Sixty Six Minutes Past Six’  Album

‘Helldog’  EP

‘Crowcifiction’  Album

Videos – Robototron, Blacken The Everything




Evil Scarecrow are:

Dr Rabid Hell, vocals

Brother Dimitri Pain, guitars

Kraven Morrdeth, guitars

Princess Luxury, keyboards

Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist, drums

Thanks to our friends at BJF Media, especially Judith Fisher.

Cherry Tree Farm, New Road, Coleshill, Bucks.  HP7 0LE

Rush to Release R40 10-DVD Collector’s Set

Originally posted on rush vault:

R-40 Thanks to a head’s up from RushIsABand we learn that Rush is putting out a 10-DVD box set called Rush R40 to celebrate the band’s 40-year anniversary. It releases November 11 and you can pre-order it now on Amazon.

The 10-disc version retails for $87.49. It also comes in a 6-disc Blu-ray version, which retails for $97.99.

From the product description:

“2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Rush s eponymous debut album. This deluxe collector s box set brings together live performances by Rush from each decade of their career. It includes Rush in Rio, R30, Snakes & Arrows Live, Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland, and Clockwork Angels Tour, plus a spectacular bonus disc of previously unseen and unreleased live material stretching from 1974 to 2013. The bonus disc features over two hours of unreleased footage including their masterpiece 2112 in its entirety, the…

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Steve Rothery, The Ghosts of Pripyat trailer

Hear the latest trailer for Steve Rothery’s forthcoming solo album, The Ghosts of Pripyat, due for release September 22nd.

And in case you missed it, you can download the track “Morpheus” (featuring Steve Hackett) for free at http://www.steverothery.com.

“You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good” — from Sloan’s Commonwealth LP

I am pleased to report that the new Sloan LP is completely awesome.

In advance of my full review, I just had to share with you all one of my favorite tracks on the album.

So hard to decide such things, but as always I am a super-huge fan of anything Chris Murphy contributes to the band.

Here he is again at his finest, with a killer riff and thoughtful lyrics: “You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good” — from Sloan’s Commonwealth.

Play it loud … for the sake of the kids!

Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar: A Review


I was hooked from the start. I have already listened to Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar twice in its entirety and thus far it is one of the few albums of which I can sincerely say I enjoy every song. Be forewarned, however: this is not the Plant of hard-rocking Led Zeppelin. Instead, this album is a blend of alternative, folk, Americana, progressive, and world music, a peculiar amalgam of genres, but it works. It is more Battle of Evermore-esque (my favorite Zeppelin song) than Whole Lotta Love-like. Absent is the wailing guitar of Page; the thunderous and formidable drumming of Bonham; the dexterous bass of Jones. This might seem disagreeable to some, but guess what: I don’t miss them and the album doesn’t either. These standards of the rock genre have been replaced by bendirs, banjos, kologos, ritis, and other exotic instruments to create a distinctly West African/alternative inspired sound. Imagine Peter Gabriel, Gordon Lightfoot, and George Harrison got together one day and made an album: this would be the product. Add Plant’s vocals and I’d say you have a recipe for success. Fortunately, Plant acknowledges his strengths and understands his weakness: namely, that his vocals are not what they used to be. You will hear no wailing or screaming; no vain attempt to hit notes out of his range that at this point would make him sound like a man in agony rather than the great vocalist that he is. Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that I cannot recommend this album highly enough. As someone who appreciates the complexity and diversity of world music and folk, I believe Robert Plant has found his niche, crafting music that is good, true, and beautiful.

Here are my favorite songs from the album:plant

Little Maggie: an enjoyable traditional folk song updated with a somewhat “alternative” sound

Embrace Another Fall: somber, haunting, alternative sound with a dash of electric guitar added for good measure

Up on the Hollow Hill: sounds like a softer, eerier version of When the Levee Breaks from IV, featuring a consistent drum and guitar pattern

Arbaden: shortest song on the album; more alternative with a techno-edge, similar in sound to some of Coldplay’s works; features Fulani vocals by Juldeh Camara, a native Gambian

P.S. I also highly recommend Plant’s previous two releases, Band of Joy and Mighty ReArranger. The song Monkey from Band of Joy may be the best rock song of the (still young) 21st century.

Mordred, “The Baroness”


Mordred release free download of first new single in over 20 years as a Thank You to fans


New single: THE BARONESS

Following on from their triumphant and hugely welcome return to these shores, Mordred have released a free download of their first new single for over 20 years, THE BARONESS, as a thank you to everyone who came along and supported them throughout their killer recent tour. This single can be streamed and downloaded from their Facebook page:


As fierce and funky, brash and brilliant as ever, this is taste of what’s to come from this wickedly inventive band of San Franciscan musicians, and I for one can’t wait to hear more. 20 years gone and sounding as fresh as they did first time round, quite simply awesome!

“..this is a massive performance…highlights, though, are the raptastic Esse Quam Videri and a stunning cover of Thin Lizzy’s Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed. But the whole occasion is simply a joy. The atmosphere, the musicianship, the song choice… it all works. And Mordred’s combination of metal, funk and hip-hop sounds convincingly contemporary
Malcolm Dome, Metal Hammer

“Mordred’s return to Belfast after two decades is nothing less than triumphant….No band has ever really managed to better what Mordred did, and with the prospect of a new release this could hopefully be the beginning of a renaissance for the band. All in all, a faultless gig”

“Back in ’91 I heralded Mordred’s legendary Marquee show as the greatest night of my life, but….I can safely say I was wrong because some 23 years later I’m finding myself saying it again. Without a shadow of a doubt, Mordred will always be the coolest band to grace stage, vinyl, cassette, disc and ears.
Metal Forces.

Also included are a couple of their old tracks – Everyday’s A Holiday and Falling Away – for you to give a listen to, more new music coming soon!

RochaNews Continued: Burnt Belief



Instrumental collaboration between U.K. bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and U.S. guitarist Jon Durant out October 21


COHASSET, MA – World-renowned bassist Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Metallic Taste of Blood, Ex-Wise Heads) and guitarist/composer Jon Durant have once again teamed up under the moniker Burnt Belief for the release of a new album of progressive ethno-ambient fusion instrumentals titled EtymologyEtymology will be released on October 21, 2014 via Alchemy Records, and will be available at Burning Shed, Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, jondurant.com and other digital outlets.


An Etymology teaser video can be seen on YouTube at:http://youtu.be/aa0yLjSHr3Q.


Pre-order Etymology at: http://jondurant-com.myshopify.com/collections/frontpage/products/burnt-belief-etymology and:http://www.amazon.com/Etymology-Burnt-Belief/dp/B00NAZX8BA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1410294068&sr=1-1&keywords=burnt+belief.


“We feel like we’ve progressed within our shared approach, including some new harmonic, rhythmic and melodic elements,” commented Jon Durant.


“Much of our compositional approach remains consistent from the first Burnt Belief record,” he added. “For instance, a number of the pieces began as ambient cloud guitar atmospheres, which Colin would then explore and find rhythmic grooves to play over or with the clouds. Then, I would maybe re-arrange, construct melodic ideas, and send back to Colin for further input from him. In this way, the pieces evolve, sometimes very far from their original state.”


The compositions which unfold across Etymology‘s 70 minutes showcase the duo’s fruitful symbiosis and clear developmental path across their shared musical landscape. Assimilating diverse elements ranging from polyrhythms, deep ECM styled atmospherics and even angular nu-jazz abstraction, the result is an immersive, multi-layered and engrossing documentation of a remarkably sympathetic musical connection.
Etymology is further enhanced by sensitive, deep electric violin performances from highly regarded classical musician Steve Bingham, also known for his evocative work with U.K. art-rock band No-Man.

The album’s title is a metaphor for the pair’s working methodology, in which compositions evolve from an initial germ of an idea into a fully realized piece. The resulting work is often very different from its original concept yet still maintains the initial elements at its core.

1. Chromatique

2. Dissemble

3. Précis

4. Hraunfossar

5. Convergence

6. Rivulet

7. White Keys

8. Not Indifferent

9. Hover

10. Chimera

11. Squall

Edwin and Durant first teamed up for Durant’s 2011 album Dance of the Shadow Planets, a wholly live in the studio documentation of their nascent musical chemistry centered around Durant’s atmospheric compositions and featuring also the talents of violinist Caryn Lin and multi-percussionist Jerry Leake.

The follow-up to Dance of the Shadow Planets, 2012’s eponymously titled Burnt Belief, was distance recorded, but a fully collaborative compositional affair with Edwin taking equal responsibility for the writing process. Having confidently cemented their working methods and musical connection with the well-receivedBurnt Belief, the duo undertook some live dates in the U.K. and Ukraine with Kiev-based female vocal duo Astarta (as Astarta/Edwin), a project Colin has been working on for some time, but presently on ice due to the current instability in the country.
Energized by working together in a live environment again in late 2013, Edwin and Durant reconvened to create the present album, Etymology. Whilst still retaining the strong sonic identity laid down on Burnt BeliefEtymology represents a considerable expansion and natural evolution of their sound, not least because of the additional input of three marvelous drummers (Vinny Sabatino, Dean McCormick and Jose Duque) to complement and reinforce the programmed electronic rhythms.


“Colin and I both felt that after two records utilizing hand drums exclusively, it was time to change it up and go with a live drum kit to augment Colin’s rhythm programming. It ended up giving the pieces a much harder edge to them, and this in turn allowed me to push my guitars a little more over the top.”
Follow Burnt Belief on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/BurntBelief and Twitter at: @BurntBelief3 for more information on Etymology.


Burnt Belief online… 








About Jon Durant…


Guitarist Jon Durant brings a unique sense of texture and melody to his instrument. His distinctive “cloud guitar” soundscapes and engaging lead work have graced numerous CD recordings and film soundtracks. As executive producer of Alchemy Records, he produces recordings for internationally acclaimed artists in his small Massachusetts studio. Along with longtime collaborators Tony Levin (bassist with King Crimson and Peter Gabriel), percussionist Vinny Sabatino, pianist Michael Whalen, and guitar/synth master Randy Roos, Jon has recorded with electric violinist Caryn Lin, percussionist Jerry Leake, singer/songwriter Porter Smith, soul singer Ray Greene (Tower of Power) and many others.Etymology is Jon’s third recording with Colin Edwin.


About Colin Edwin…


Colin Edwin is best known as a founder member and bass player of the internationally successful progressive rock band Porcupine Tree. In addition, he has a long running collaboration as Ex-Wise Heads with avant multi-instrumentalist Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow/Hatfield and the North) with six albums blending ethnic, world music, improvisation and ambient and experimental influences. Colin is also a member of Metallic Taste of Blood, a genre-defying group whose intense and cinematic music draws from dub, metal, progressive, free jazz and ambient music. In 2013 Colin recorded the critically acclaimed bass duo album Twinscapes with Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati.

RochaNews: Nordic Giants



Debut album coming early 2015

ENGLAND – Kscope is thrilled to announce the signing of multi-instrumentalist duo Nordic Giants. Ahead of the debut album coming in early 2015, Kscope will be release Nordic Giants’ 2014 self-released EPs ‘Build Seas’ and ‘Dismantle Suns’ together on one LP and CD this fall.


A teaser video for the new signing can be seen on YouTube at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjhOGU-KdwM.


Nordic Giants spent the last couple of years bringing its bespoke formula of claustrophobic post-rock cinematic sound to audiences across the U.K. They have recently toured with Public Service Broadcasting, God Is An Astronaut and 65daysofstatic, this Summer playing festivals including 2000 Trees, Kendal Calling and Y-Not as well as their own headline shows. They have performed in churches, disused Victorian music halls and converted seaside bandstands to enhance the audience experience of their atmospheric soundscapes.


Seeing Nordic Giants has been described as akin to a religious experience. Multi-screen visuals, powerful strobes and exquisitely timed accompaniment create a whole that appears far greater than the sum of its parts. Each performance is accompanied by award-winning short films which coupled with haunting piano, bowed guitar, climactic drums and array of guest vocalists gives the audience a mind-blowing and visceral experience that goes beyond the normal descriptors.


Kscope was formed in 2008 providing a home for an evolving and adventurous style of music without boundaries. Nordic Giants join a roster that includes North Atlantic Oscillation, Engineers, Steven Wilson, Ulver, Anathema & The Pineapple Thief.

Stay tuned for more information on Nordic Giants.


Nordic Giants online…www.nordicgiants.co.uk




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