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

“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 These standards of the rock genre have been replaced by bendirs, banjos, kologos, ritis, and other exotic instruments to create a distinctly West African/alternative inspired sound.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, and other digital outlets.


An Etymology teaser video can be seen on YouTube at:


Pre-order Etymology at: and:


“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: 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:


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…

A New Fractal Mirror is Just Around the Corner

Well, they’ve yet to capture the imagination of Tim Cook and the PowersThatBeiTunes, but they have our attention.  And, we’re absolutely thrilled.  A second Fractal Mirror is just about here.  Amen, amen, amen.

But, I’ll let the guys of FM speak for themselves:


We are very proud to be able to announce that we have started taking pre-orders on our Bandcamp site for our second album Garden of Ghosts . The release of the album is scheduled for November 2014. The album contains 11 tracks and includes a 12 page booklet with artwork from Brian Watson and all the lyrics. The album has been co produced by Brett Kull (Echolyn) and Fractal Mirror. Brett Kull also mixed the album. Larry Fast mastered the album. People who pre-order the album receive an immediate download of the albums opening track “House of Wishes”. During the pre-order period the price of the album will be EUR 10,00 (ex shipping).
Brett Kull also plays guitars and background vocals on all the tracks of the album and there are also guest appearances by other members of Echolyn, Jacque Varsalona, Don Fast, Larry Fast and The Stephanus Choir.
Art by the incredible Brian Watson.

Art by the incredible Brian Watson.

Here is the link to our 4 minute album teaser:
Here is the link to our bandcamp page for Garden of Ghosts:
We sincerely hope you are willing to share this news with your readers and help us spread the word about the album!
Thanks for your support!
Fractal Mirror
Ed, Frank, Leo
progarchy’s take and prophecy: order early and order often.  Surely, this will be a top ten album of the year.

Floyd Fashion!

One of my great Facebook friends and a sometime former student (I’m probably claiming too much here.  She was a participant in a summer conference at which I taught!), Ashley Rae, posted this wonderful picture of herself this morning.  Talk about great advertisement for Dark Side of the Moon!

Anyway, a huge thanks to the lovely Ashley for permission to repost here.

Ashley Rae and Pink Floyd.  A lovely match, indeed.

Ashley Rae and Pink Floyd. A lovely match, indeed.

Ranking Tears for Fears

Orzabal-tomcats_screaming_outsideTen years ago this Sunday, Tears for Fears released its last full album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. As I realized this this week, it hit me hard that it has been this long since the band’s last album. A decade. Of course, that album appeared nine years after the previous one, Raoul and the Kings of Spain. Still, in between the two albums came Orzabal’s truly brilliant solo album, Tomcats Screaming Outside. Thus, the gap seemed less severe.

This is not to suggest that TFF has fallen off the radar of popular culture completely since 2004. Far from it.

ready boys and girls

Released last spring, but only on vinyl.

In fact, they’ve been quite active in a variety of ways. In addition to some infrequent touring, TFF released a three-song EP of covers, Ready Boys and Girls? (only on vinyl and with a gloriously psychedelic cover) last spring and is, according to the news available, hard at work on a new album, a rather dark one it seems.

Rolling Stone covered quite a bit of TFF news almost a year ago.

Roland has also just this year released his first novel, Sex, Drugs, and Opera. I’ve yet to read it, but I most certainly will as soon as time allows. Reviews of it have been strong, most reviewers noting with some surprise that this is Roland’s first novel. The guy is obviously immensely talented.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been interested in TFF since I first heard “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” This was the first single to make its way to the U.S. and to the Great Plains of central Kansas. It was the second single, “Shout,” that convinced me to (made me?!?!) fall in love with the band. I immediately purchased Songs from the Big Chair as well as The Hurting. I’ve detailed my thoughts about Songs from the Big Chair elsewhere on progarchy. Suffice it state here, I consider it—along with Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys and XTC’s Skylarking—as the three best and greatest examples of progressive pop.

If pushed, I might also throw in some of World Party’s songs (but not the albums).

As far as I know, I own a copy of every single song TFF has made with the exception of the vinyl releases mentioned above. I’ve even bought multiple copies of certain albums (such as Songs from the Big Chair and Raoul) just to get the b-sides included with each new release. So, it would be fair to state that I’m a rather huge fan and have been for decades.


To commemorate the tenth anniversary of Everybody Loves a Happy Ending and in anticipation of a full album, I’ve decided to rank all TFF albums.  So, here they are:

songs big chairSongs from the Big Chair (1985). As I’ve tried to argue elsewhere, this is a perfect progressive pop album, beautifully conceived and constructed. No stand out tracks as they’re all stand out. Not a flaw on this album.  10/10

The best TFF album since Elemental, 2004's EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING.

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004). Not at the level of Songs from the Big Chair, but pretty close. The album suffers from two problems. First, it’s not nearly as cohesive as Songs. Second, it has a few weak tracks. Still, the album as a whole is so good that it makes the weak tracks even better. The best tracks: Call Me Mellow, Who Killed Tangerine?, Quiet Ones, The Devil, Killing With Kindness, and Lady Bird. 8/10

elemental-4e3c6aeb6d16fElemental (1993). Again, a nearly perfect album. If I had to label it, I’d call it prog electronica. As the title suggests, the atmospherics on this album are just stunning, as are the lyrics. Stand out tracks—all of them, really. Not a dud on the album. But, I most like: “Elemental,” “Cold,” “Mr. Pessimist,” “Fish Out of Water,” “Gas Giants,” “Power,” and “Brian Wilson Said.” Everybody Loves a Happy Ending ranks higher, in my opinion, only because its best songs are better than the best songs on Elemental. But, barely. 8/10

Tears-For-Fears-The-HurtingThe Hurting (1982). Artistically, this is a brilliant album. It is almost pure art rock. Yet, it’s so claustrophobic, it’s hard for me to listen to too often. Still, who couldn’t recognize its genius? 7/10

Saturnine Martial and Lunatic
. When it comes to b-sides, TFF writes the best. Indeed, the b-sides of TFF not only rival their main album singles, they usually better the very best of other bands. Only Talk Talk, U2, and The Cure rival TFF when it comes to b-sides. Saturnine contains 18 songs from the studio sessions of the first four albums. Even the most experimental, “The Big Chair,” “The Marauders,” and “Empire Building” are interesting. Again, not a failure here. Everything is either brilliant or fascinating (usually both). The weakest song is “New Star,” a pop rocker. But, in context, it’s pretty good. 7/10

Tears+For+Fears+-+Raoul+And+The+Kings+Of+Spain+-+CD+ALBUM-476930Raoul and the King of Spain (1995). There’s much to love about this album. Indeed, the first five songs are some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. They can best be described as earnest. Here we have the complete Roland—he gives his every thing on these five songs. The remainder of the album is good, but it begins to feel overproduced, beginning with track six. And, unfortunately, that album that started so amazingly simply fizzles out. “Falling Down,” track two, might very well be the single best song Roland has written, and this is saying a lot. 5/10

seeds of loveThe Seeds of Love (1989). This is, by far, TFF’s least successful album, in my opinion. Successful, that is, measured artistically.   Overall, the album is way too bombastic in tone and over-produced. Every time I listen to it, I feel as though the band is screaming at me. Two songs I do enjoy: “Standing on the Corner of the Third World” and, especially, “The Year of the Knife.” Otherwise, I just don’t get this album or why it was so financially successful. 2/10

U2 and Apple: An Editorial of Gratitude

Joshua Tree era U2.  Young, angry Irishman in the New World.

Joshua Tree era U2. Young, angry Irishman in the New World.

As is more than well known, U2’s latest album showed up in every single person’s iTunes library, wanted or not. A cursory google search reveals how angry this gratuity made a whole lot of folks out in the world. The complaints run as follows: if rock is free, it’s not rock; pulling out guys in their fifties to celebrate the latest piece of technology is just tacky; the music is terrible., etc., etc., etc.

My reaction to these reactions is so strong, my head (and maybe my soul) really really really want to explode. Really.

Admittedly, I’ve not kept up with U2 as well as I once did.

For what it’s worth, I was rather obsessed with them from 1982 to 1987. My love of U2 never came close to equaling my love of Rush, Talk Talk, Yes, or even Thomas Dolby at the same time, but I still knew about everything there was to know about the four guys from Ireland.

To this day (September 12, 2014), I think October and The Joshua Tree are two of the greatest rock albums ever made, “New Year’s Day” a contender for the greatest rock song ever written, and “Under a Blood Red Sky” second only “Exit Stage Left” as the greatest live album of all time.

I still can’t listen either to October or The Joshua Tree (the latter especially) without becoming emotional. The first time I listened to The Joshua Tree, I cried and cried. Perhaps not very manly, but certainly very human. Bono’s voice and lyrics spoke to my lifelong desire for social justice.

As strange or paradoxical as it is seems to me now, I can state with some certainty that while Neil Peart’s lyrics taught me to love myself, Bono’s lyrics taught me to love that which is not myself.

I thought Rattle and Hum a great rockumentary, and I continued to defend—sometimes vehemently—U2’s music post “Rattle and Hum.” I couldn’t do that now. While I think post-Rattle and Hum U2 is very, very good, it’s not excellent. U2 enjoyed a streak of genius from Boy to The Joshua Tree. After 1987, though, it did great things but not brilliant ones. The song with Johnny Cash on Zooropa and Fez from No Line on the Horizon still show that old brilliance, but the glimpses of genius have become rarer as U2 has aged.

I’m sure there are reasons for this, though I’m not sure I could identify them easily. I do think that U2’s social justice made much more sense in the Cold War than it does in the post Cold War period. By this, I don’t mean that Social Justice is less important than it was in the 1980s. It’s ALWAYS important. It’s just that the social justice U2 espoused was anti-Cold War, a focus on problems that did not fit into the Cold War scheme of things. With the Cold War over, U2’s position seems less full, somehow watered down. In hindsight, I think their positions were necessarily anti-Cold War as opposed to a-Cold War. The troubles of early 1980’s Ireland or South Africa just don’t hold the kind of gravitas they once did.


Tim Cook and three members of U2, September 9, 2014.

This is all a very long way of saying to U2 and to Apple, thank you. When I look back at my 1980s, Steve Jobs stands next to Bono as heroes. Both spoke for excellence in the human condition. I have no problems with the two being connected, in my memory or in the actual present. Do the guys of U2 looks like they’re in their fifties. Three of the four do. The Edge still looks young. But, hey, who cares? Age is utterly and completely relative. Do I at 47 act like I did at 22? Thank God, NO! Wouldn’t it be much worse if U2 spent their money on plastic surgery rather than advocating aid for the poor in Africa?

And, I really, really like the new album. Is it The Joshua Tree. No. Is it even Actung, Baby? No. Is it good? Yes. Bono’s voice still sounds excellent, the lyrics are quite strong, and, perhaps most importantly, the music is completely earnest. No gimmicks, no fads, no tricks—just four older guys making music.

Thank you, Tim Cook. Thank you, four guys from Ireland.


[P.S.  This is my 500th post at progarchy.  Tempus fugit.]


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