Kevin McCormick’s Squall (1999)
Kevin McCormick, Squall (1999). To my mind, this is some of the best rock music ever written—but tempered with very serious classical sensibilities and lacking the over-the-top bombast present in even some the best of 1970s progressive rock.
If one had to label his music, it would most likely be a post-prog, post-rock, or, simply put post-Talk Talk. In the current realm of music, one might think of a mixture of Matt Stevens, Gazpacho, and Nosound.
McCormick incorporates his profound poetry as lyrics. Each word—and the way Kevin sings it—seems utterly filled with grace and conviction. This is part two of a rock/post-rock trilogy (he’s currently working on number three). And, it’s hard to listen to Squall without listening to its equally fine predecessor, With the Coming of Evening (1993). Kevin really has it all: a great voice, the ability to write poetry as lyrics, and the training of a classical guitarist.
Before I write any more, let me admit my bias. Kevin is one of my closest friends, and he has been since we first met in the fall of 1986 as freshman at the University of Notre Dame. We still talk and correspond frequently. Kevin is the godfather of my oldest son, and I of his second daughter.
We bonded immediately on matters of music back in 1986.
Kevin and his two brothers had a well-known Texas band in the mid 1980s, and Kevin formed the finest band at Notre Dame, St. Paul and the Martyrs, during our years there. Toward the end of our senior year, St. Paul and the Martyrs opened for the-then unknown progressive jam band, Phish.
During our years in college, Kevin and I traveled throughout the U.S. and England together (making sure to visit Trident studios as well as EMI (hoping to catch a glimpse of Mark Hollis) while journeying through the mother land of prog and New Wave), co-produced a “Dark Side of the Moon” charity show, complete with an angsty-movie backing a full performance of the album by the Marytrs, talked music and lyrics until late into the nights, and even co-hosted a prog rock radio show on Friday nights.
Not surprisingly, one of my greatest memories of Kevin in college was listening to the entirety of Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden in 1988. We remained completely silent for a very long time after its completion, stunned by the immensity of its beauty.
Kevin is extremely talented in a number of ways. Not only is he the father of our beautiful daughters, but he has won national poetry as well as classical guitar composition awards. In addition to the two post-prog albums (With the Coming of Evening and Squall) already mentioned, Kevin has also released several albums of solo classical guitar as well as an album of Americana, all recorded on an 1840s Martin.
His music has been praised publicly by many (see, for example, his entry at Allmusic) and privately by such luminaries as Phill Brown and Greg Spawton.
As of this afternoon, Kevin has finished mixing a Christmas CD, recorded with his oldest daughter on vocals, to be released next Christmas season. And, as mentioned above, he is currently working on the completion of his post-rock trilogy.
Here’s Kevin’s music at CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/KevinMcCormick
Here’s Kevin’s official site: http://www.kevin-mccormick.com/KM/index.html
I know we at Progarchy have offered lots and lots of suggestions for worthwhile purchases over the last three months. But, as we begin this near year, I can state unequivocally that it’s worth supporting Kevin, especially as he prepares to record his new post-prog album. I’ve only heard bits and pieces, but Kevin is a man of absolute integrity. He is, like so many of us who either play prog or simply listen to prog, a perfectionist. He also possesses one of the finest senses of beauty I’ve ever encountered in another. So, while 2013 will probably NOT be the year of Kevin McCormick in the prog world, 2014 almost certainly will be.
Certainly, Kevin’s album should be one of the most anticipated releases of the next two years. It’s worth beginning to anticipate today, January 1, 2013.
Some video links: