Author Archives: bradbirzer

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, where sound samples of the album will soon be available as well!


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.

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)( 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 ( since 2011

Autumn Electric ( since 2012

Phideaux ( 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.

RochaNews: New Pineapple Thief Coming This September



10th studio album out September 16 via Kscope

ENGLAND – The Pineapple Thief has announced details of its new album, Magnolia, due for release in North America on September 16 via Kscope. Magnolia follows acclaimed 2012 album, All The Wars, and marks an important turning point for the band, as it expands its musical horizons beyond the progressive sphere.
Recorded at Snap Studios and mixed at Strongroom Studios in London, Magnoliarepresents the ultimate culmination of songwriter and guitarist Bruce Soord’s ongoing quest to raise spirits and connect. A devastating yet uplifting collection of 12 beautifully crafted songs, it showcases the band’s intuitive chemistry and soulful demeanor, cramming a vast array of emotional shades and inspirational ideas into its 47 mesmerizing minutes. Veering from the strident opening assault of “Simple As That,” due to be the first single, through to the cinematic sweep of the closing track “Bond,” it marks an important step in the band’s story, while skillfully encapsulating everything that has made its musical journey such a relentlessly fascinating one.
“All I ever wanted was to write catchy songs that stay with people,” commented founder Bruce Soord, explaining how this record represents an important evolutionary phase for The Pineapple Thief. “The striking thing is that there are no long tunes… all I care about now is writing a good song. I don’t think about whether it’s rock or progressive or commercial or anything like that. As time went on, I discovered I could say everything I wanted to say within a shorter period of time.”
New drummer Dan Osborne, also heavily involved in the production of Magnolia, brought fresh energy and ideas to The Pineapple Thief, strongly contributing to steer the band in a new direction. Completing the line-up are solid bassist Jon Sykes and keyboard maestro Steve Kitch. While string arrangements are courtesy of regular collaborator Andrew Skeet of The Divine Comedy, the stunning final mix was crafted by mix engineer Adam Noble, who has previously worked on albums from the likes of Placebo, Guillemots, Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams and Belgium alt rock band dEUS. The artwork for Magnoliawas created by French artist Patrick Gonzales ( 

1.       Simple as That (04:01)

2.       Alone at Sea (05:21)

3.       Don’t Tell Me (03:35)

4.       Magnolia (03:47)

5.       Seasons Past (04:14)

6.       Coming Home (03:06)

7.       The One You Left to Die (04:19)

8.       Breathe (02:35)

9.       From Me (04:31)

10.     Sense of Fear (04:31)

11.     A Loneliness (03:22)

12.     Bond (04:31)

Formed in 1999 by founder and chief songwriter Bruce Soord as an experimental bedroom project, The Pineapple Thief has since continued to evolve and refine its sound. The group is seen by many as one of the most interesting and innovative rock bands the U.K. has produced in recent years. Previous albums like Someone Here Is Missing (2010) and All The Wars (2012) have made The Pineapple Thief’s reputation and fan base stronger, resulting in interest from a wider audience. Bruce Soord also collaborates with other Kscope artists, joining forces with Jonas Renkse of Swedish band Katatonia on their critically acclaimed Wisdom Of Crowds project. Along with this collaboration, we saw Soord join Katatonia on their recent “Dethroned & Uncrowned – Unplugged & Reworked” acoustic European tour. 

With a new, blossoming sound, Magnolia has all the potential to bring The Pineapple Thief to the masses. This, the band’s 10th record, could not only be a milestone, but also a mainstream breakthrough for the band. With Magnolia, The Pineapple Thief has created 12 musical gems that defy all classifications – anthemic, catchy, intense, honest and straight from the heart.


Stay tuned for more information on The Pineapple Thief and Magnolia.




The Pineapple Thief online…



The Pineapple Thief is…


Bruce Soord – vocals, guitar
Dan Osborne – drums
Jon Sykes – bass
Steve Kitch – keyboards

For more information, contact Brian Rocha at Fresno Media.

Time Warp in Boulder and Clockwork Angels

Clockwork_Angels_01_Cover_BAfter spending my first afternoon at the University of Colorado, I stopped by Time Warp Comics (  As it turns out, Neil Peart, Kevin J. Anderson, and Nick Robles have been producing a six-part comic book series of Clockwork Angels.

The first three issues are out, and I was even able to purchase a signed (by Anderson) copy of issue 1.

And, equally important, I found out that several of the guys working at Time Warp are proggers.  They were also just–not surprisingly–fantastic guys (and a gal).  So, a huge thanks to Clayton, Garrett, Michael, and Georgia!

What a store.  I’ll certainly be stopping by again.

If you’re in Boulder, make sure you check out Time Warp.

Time Warp Comics, 3105 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301.

Time Warp Comics, 3105 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301.

What Does It Mean?


what do you think STENDEC means.. ?

discuss the real origin…..

and/or . make up your own acronym and post it here…


salander cover


Progarchy’s take. . . coming soon!

Big Big Train News (from the source!)

English Electric Full Power.  A definitive album of third-wave prog.

English Electric Full Power. A definitive album of third-wave prog.

Big Big Train News


Big Big Train has been nominated in the Anthem category of the 2014 Progressive Music Awards which will be held in September at the Globe Theatre. Listeners can vote for their choice of Anthem and for their favourites in the other categories online at:


The band are spending a week at Real World studios in August 2014 where they will be rehearsing for live shows and filming performances of a number of songs for release on DVD and Blu-Ray. The band will be joined by Rikard Sjöblom of Beardfish who will be assisting with guitar and keyboards. Live shows will follow in 2015 and an announcement about the dates will be made in the autumn.

Some short films of the bands preparations and rehearsals for the Real World sessions are now online at:


Big Big Train has been working on a number of new songs and it is expected that a new album will be released in 2015. Work also continues on the Station Masters retrospective collection.


English Electric Part One and Part Two are both available as double LP’s on 180gm vinyl.

Big Big Train tee-shirts are available from our merchandising retailer, The Merch Desk:

Best wishes

Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg and Nick

Big Big Train

Follow the band on Twitter at:

Join our Facebook group at:

Giving Up Everything: The Grace of Natalie Merchant

A review of Natalie Merchant, NATALIE MERCHANT (Nonesuch, 2014).  Songs: Ladybird; Maggie Said; Texas; Go Down, Moses; Seven Deadly Sins; Giving Up Everything; Black Sheep; It’s a Coming; Lulu (intro and full song); and The End.


Natalie Merchant, self titled (Nonesuch, 2014).  Highly recommended.

Natalie Merchant, self titled (Nonesuch, 2014). Highly recommended.

Natalie Merchant’s 2010 album, LEAVE YOUR SLEEP, was a masterpiece, pure and simple.  Taking her favorite poems and putting them to music was a stroke of genius.  Merchant’s firm but ethereal voice gave a cinemagraphic feel to some of the finest writings of the last several centuries.  While the poems already had a life of their own, the New York artist proved just how alive they really are by offering each a soundtrack.

Ranging over two disks and including a gorgeous detailed book about the poems and why she chose them, LEAVE YOUR SLEEP is a must-own for any music and poetry lover.

Prior to this, Merchant had released THE HOUSE CARPENTER’S DAUGHTER (2003), a reworking and rearranging of traditional American (and some British) folk and labor songs.  Also stunning, but in a very different way than LEAVE YOUR SLEEP, THE HOUSE CARPENTER’S DAUGHTER came out on Merchant’s own label, Myth America.

Little news from Merchant emerged between 2010 and now.  The last significant interviews she gave—most importantly to the New York Times in 2010—the American revealed that she and her daughter were living in a nunnery in Spain.  Having returned to her childhood faith of Roman Catholicism, Merchant was exploring the possibilities of writing liturgical music and, as hopeful speculation had it, a Mass.

In May of this year, Merchant released a new solo album, self-titled, that is not liturgical in setting, but it is intensely religious, confessional, and pro-fessional, at least in its lyrics.

As an artist who made her fame in the 1980s as one of the lead singer and songwriter of one of America’s favorite alternative rock bands, 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant is often remembered for her poppier music.

Her solo career, however, has revealed several different aspects of this musician.  Her albums have ranged from vaudeville to operatic to folk.  Not surprisingly, she covered a Richard Thompson song on THE HOUSE CARPENTER’S DAUGHTER.  While many in the music industry label her as a “female pop” singer, usually associating her with other North Americans such as Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, and Sarah McLachlan, she really has far more in common with Van Morrison, Fairport Convention, and Traffic.

Like the three bands/acts just mentioned, Merchant at her best always produces soulful, deep, melancholic songs touched not with irony but with intrigue and regret.

Leave Your Sleep (2 disk, NONESUCH, 2010).  Highest recommendation.  A must own.

Leave Your Sleep, (2 disk, Nonesuch, 2010). Highest recommendation. A must own.

The latest album, NATALIE MERCHANT, has every key aspect of her non-pop song writing in spades, but it is still a step removed—on terms of creativity—from her other work.  It’s not nearly as profound, unfortunately, as LEAVE YOUR SLEEP, but then, how could she really compete with the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins.  As a lyricist, though, Merchant is quite good.

Yet, NATALIE MERCHANT is a truly satisfying affair.  From the opening song to the last note, this album pleases the soul as much as it pleases the aural senses.  Though the lyrics aren’t political, they are full of social justice and charity.  They are also moving as well as haunting.

Tellingly, the photo inside the cd package shows a gracefully graying Natalie (she’s 50), holding a dove.  She holds the bird of peace closely and sincerely.  It’s quite the contrast to The The’s  bayonetted dove of MIND BOMB.  Merchant’s holding of the dove is not sarcastic but hopeful and longing.

Songs such as “Go Down, Moses,” offer a pleading for grace, while the song “Seven Deadly Sins”  scathingly attacks the culture of war.

The most difficult song, lyrically, is “Giving Up Everything.”  Many will no doubt attempt to interpret this as some form of nihilism.  Given Merchant’s faith journey, however, the reality of the meaning is probably quite the opposite. What Merchant is giving up is not life and meaning but the belief that she herself can discover her purpose alone.  “Giving up everything, the big to-do, the hullabaloo, the tug-of-war for some twisted truth.  For the everlasting ache of it, no longer slave, not chained to it, no gate, no guard, no keeper, no guru, master, teaching.”  “Black Sheep” is a retelling of the parable of the prodigal son, and “It’s a coming” and “The End” are apocalyptic.

That’ll be the end of arms stretched wide, of begging for bread, of emptiness inside.  And the sea, so wide and treacherous, and the land, so dark and dangerous, so far left behind.  That’ll be the end of the war, when we finally lay down the barrel and the blade and go home.– Natalie Merchant, ‘The End’


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