Happy Birthday, Progarchy!

Today is progarchy's second birthday.  A huge thank you to all contributors, readers, and artists!

Today is progarchy’s second birthday. A huge thank you to all contributors, readers, and artists!

The Fierce and the Dead: Tickets!

Win free tickets!

Our last show of the year is at The Blackheart in Camden, London this coming Thursday (that would be the 16th of October). An excellent line up has been put together, MannheimTrojan Horse and Sumer so expect a big night out. And to top it all off we will be playing two brand new tracks for you. So please help us and spread the word about this one. I know many of you are not UK or London based but sharing the news wherever you are will always help!

To celebrate we are giving away one pair of tickets donated by the excellent Nightshift Promotions. All you have to do is go to the FB event page, share it and add the hashtag #letsstartacult and you’ll be added to the draw. We’ll let you know on Tuesday evening if you’ve won via FB.

Here’s the event page link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1509922915907928/?fref=ts

After this show we are heading back to the studio to finish off a new e.p. we’re working on and to start writing album 3. A few other projects on the way too!

Get involved!

Kev, Matt, Stuart & Steve.

info@fierceandthedead.com
fierceandthedead.com
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fierceandthedead.bandcamp.com
twitter.com/tfatd
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youtube.com/user/TFATD

Flying Colors – “Second Nature” – Rock Brilliance

album

Flying Colors’ sophomore release, Second Nature, may very well be the best album of 2014. If it weren’t for Big Big Train’s English Electric, I would say this may be the best album of the past ten years. It is that good. Seeing the band live only confirmed this suspicion for me. Many times, so-called “supergroups” don’t turn out to be so super. While the idea of putting some of the best musicians in the world in the same band sounds like a recipe for success, the results are often the opposite. I find it easy to believe that egos could often get in the way of making fine music. Not so with Flying Colors. This band combines some of the greatest musicians in the world, and they fit together as band members perfectly. In fact, for several of them, this band may be some of their best work. With Second Nature, the band has an album and a tour under their belts, and they have developed a good relationship.

For those of you unfamiliar with Flying Colors (like I basically was about a month ago), the band is made up of :

Mike Portnoy – drums, backup vocals (co-founder of Dream Theater, member of Transatlantic and The Winery Dogs)

Neal Morse – keyboards and vocals (Spocks Beard, Transatlantic)

Steve Morse – lead guitar (Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple)

Dave Larue – bass (Dixie Dregs)

Casey McPhersen – lead vocals and guitar (Alpha Rev)

The talent in this band certainly is not lacking. The same can easily be said of their new album. When I first heard it a few weeks ago, I was blown away. Then I listened to it again. Wow. It has been played basically every day since then. I went back and listened to their first, self-titled, album and their live album, and I was thoroughly impressed. I knew I just had to see them live.

The album itself begins with the over 12 minute long progressive epic, “Open Your Eyes.” This song combines the musical virtuosity of these amazing artists with McPherson’s haunting vocals. The album quickly shifts gear with the second song, “Mask Machine,” probably the most “radio friendly” song on the album. This song masterfully combines prog and pop rock. The next song, “Bombs Away,” is probably the heaviest song on the album, with an awesome bass line courtesy of Dave Larue. That guy rocks, quite literally. From the heaviest song on the album, we move to one of the quietest on the album, and one of my favorites, “The Fury of My Love.” I identify with this song: it isn’t anger, it’s intensity (listen to the song and you’ll understand what I mean). The next three songs, “A Place in Your World,” “Lost Without You,” and “One Love Forever” are straight up classic hard rock songs. Great guitars, strong keyboards, steady bass, driving drums (it’s Portnoy, what do you expect), and great lyrics. The 8th song on the album, “Peaceful Harbor,” is my favorite on the album, if not my favorite song of the year. Brad mentioned in a comment on another Flying Colors post that “Peaceful Harbor” is like “Dust in the Wind” revisited. I couldn’t agree more. The song starts quietly, in a brilliant fashion, and gradually builds to an epic guitar solo with choral singing reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky.” This song is good, true, and beautiful. The album finishes with another prog epic, “Cosmic Symphony.” Made up of three parts (I. Still Life Of The World; II. Searching For The Air; III. Pound For Pound), this song ends the album perfectly. The name of the song is perfect, as it sounds symphonic. In concert, I couldn’t help but sing along with “Pound for Pound.”

One of the elements that I like the most about the music of Flying Colors is the upbeat tempo that it has. I’m no expert on the technical side of music, but I don’t think any of their songs are in minor key. This isn’t really a metal album (although you certainly hear metal elements in Portnoy’s drumming). From the music to the lyrics, you are uplifted the whole time. Furthermore, Flying Colors doesn’t go overboard trying to make their music sound complicated. It seems as if many bands in the progressive genre these days are making their albums overly complicated in studio with so many extra instruments that they can’t possibly go on tour. Flying Colors keeps it simple by only recording what they can play in concert, and they do a fantastic job with it.

As a whole, Second Nature is a masterpiece of progressive rock, as well as AOR rock. This album belongs in the rock annals with the likes of Leftoverture, Journey’s Escape, Moving Pictures, The Grand Illusion, and many other classics of progressive and arena rock. It is that good. This album is, in my opinion, an instant classic, and it pains me to think that so few people will appreciate this masterpiece. This is an album that should be blasted loud to annoy the neighbors (and to hopefully win them over to prog!).

I highly recommend Flying Colors’ new album, Second Nature, to anyone who is a fan of rock. From the guitars, to the keyboards, bass and drums, to the amazing vocals, this album is a must have. You will not be disappointed, as it is one of the best albums made in any genre over the past several years.

http://flyingcolorsmusic.com

flyingcolors1-hr

U2’s creative holding pattern in a thumotic genre

Perhaps it is Dan Flynn who wrote the best review of U2’s Songs of Innocence:

Songs of Innocence follows the creative holding pattern that began after Pop ventured too far from the mainstream for the stalwarts there from the raw-rock beginnings of Boy. It reminds listeners of the back catalogue, which may be the point.

Conclusion? This isn’t U2 but a robot tribute act playing Coldplay playing U2. Surely the busker bazillionaires, particularly the world saver on vocals, can no longer spare the time for mere music.

Still, if it’s worse than U2 past, it’s better than radio present. “Song for Everyone,” an acoustic ballad that builds into a soaring anthem, deserves to knock Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber off the airwaves, even if for four minutes. And if it fails in that noble mission, it will at least serve as the soundtrack for when the twelve-pack becomes a one-pack. “If there is a dark/within and without/There is a light/don’t let it go out.”

Guys in their fifties generally fail to match the artistic output of their twenties in as thumotic a genre as rock ’n’ roll. Songs of Innocence isn’t Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, or Achtung! Baby. But it isn’t exactly post-Tattoo You, phone-it-in Rolling Stones, either. U2 on an off day hits the ears better than no U2 at all. And with fans thirsty for a drink after five dry years, going back to the well works well enough to satiate. Listeners get more than their money’s worth at the price.

U2 keeps making the same album. … There’s a payday in safely playing like the heyday.

Steve Babb’s Lay of Lirazel

The Lay of Lirazel by Steve Babb.

The Lay of Lirazel by Steve Babb.

Steve Babb’s rather stunning Lay of Lirazel (closely related to the story as told in Glass Hammer’s Inconsolable Secret) is now available as an ebook.  Only $2.99 at amazon.  Well worth it!  It’s a gorgeous story.

http://www.amazon.com/Lay-Lirazel-Stephen-R-Babb-ebook/dp/B00NFSDKBK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412721798&sr=8-1&keywords=lay+of+lirazel

One More Red Night — @District 97 : ★★★★★

The new District 97 live album One More Red Night is out… and it is completely AWESOME.

John Wetton is superb, and the band does a mind-blowing job with all these Crim classics!

Tracklisting:
1. One More Red Nightmare (4:41)
2. The Great Deceiver (3:38)
3. Lament (4:19)
4. The Night Watch (5:31)
5. Fallen Angel (5:47)
6. Book Of Saturday (3:07)
7. 21st Century Schizoid Man (5:25)
8. Starless (4:47)
9. Easy Money (5:27)

Produced by Jonathan Schang

Recorded live on October 17, 2013 at Reggie’s Music Joint, Chicago, IL

John Wetton-Lead Vocal
Leslie Hunt- Lead and Backing Vocals
Jim Tashjian-Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rob Clearfield-Keyboards, Additional Guitar
Patrick Mulcahy-Bass
Jonathan Schang-Drums

Wow, is this band ever the real deal!

I can’t wait to hear the new studio album that is in the pipeline, thanks to their amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign.

Rock on, District 97. You are today’s upper-echelon prog, and you carry us on your mighty shoulders.

Yes, indeed. Faithful to all the best inspirations of yesteryear, Leslie and the boys are rigorously maintaining the interstellar standards of excellence which define the essence of prog.

I love this album! My friends, play it loud; and play it often.

You will be stunned at how good this album is!! I was not expecting this, but here it is.

It is now undeniable. District 97 has assumed the mantle!

Pledge for Lifesigns

Dear progarchists,

I received a very kind (every note from John is kind!) note from John Young yesterday.  He and his band, Lifesigns, have decided to raise money for their forthcoming CD/DVD.  I can’t encourage this enough.  Why?

1.  These are great, great guys, and their music is equally great.  Melodic prog–gorgeous compositions and equally gorgeous vocals.  Viva, Lifesigns!

2.  Every one of us knows how quickly the music market is changing and has been over the past two decades.  The explosion of the internet has undermined record companies.  This, to my mind, is ultimately a good.  Good riddance to corporatizing music.  But, it also means that we as fans and consumers must support the music we love in every way possible.  I will go as far as to claim we have a duty to make the new world work and work well.

3.  Forgive me for being a historian, but I can’t help but note that the greatest art of western civilization prior to the 19th century was through a patron.  Sculpture, painting, and music all came from a charitable aristocrat.  That world has long gone.  As the western world democratized–prior to being corporatized in the early 20th century–art came from subscription.  The corporate may rule much of the western world (blech!), but it most certainly does NOT have to rule us.

4.  progarchy has proudly thrown whatever influence it has toward supporting the present and future of metal, Leah McHenry, and she was able to raise $50,000 for your forthcoming album.  We’ve done much the same for Andy Tillison, though he is, thankfully backed by a good label.  Again, very proudly.

5.  I would like us to do the same for John and co.  Lifesigns is more than worth supporting.  So, please go to the link below, click it, and give what you can.  http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lifesignsdvd

Sincerely,

Brad Birzer

P.S.  To make all of this even more glorious, Lifesigns will donate a portion of what they raise to “Save the Children.”  Win, win.

The first album was nothing short of glorious.  Let's help make the next release equally so.

The first album was nothing short of glorious. Let’s help make the next release equally so.

*****

John Young

here from Lifesigns, please excuse the generic letter but we need your help.

We hope you enjoyed our first album, and we are pleased to announce that we are looking at further writing and recording in the months to come.

We decided the best way forward is crowdfunding. As such YOU become our record company and give us the freedom to make the music we believe in, unhindered by industry opinions and trends.  To this end it is vital that we work with the friends and fans who appreciate our efforts.

You can pre-order anything from the download to the DVD/CD. Should you wish you can even become an executive producer the choice is yours.

It should be quite a ride:-)

To pre-order/pledge for our new DVD please feel free to join us

here:http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lifesignsdvd

kindest wishes
Lifesigns

John Young, Frosty Beedle, Steve Rispin, Jon Poole and Niko Tsonev.

You are no. 6.

You are no. 6.

Flying Colors – Live in St. Charles, IL – 10/3/14

Flying Colors - Left to right, Steve Morse, Casey McPherson, Neal Morse, Dave Larue, and Mike Portnoy

Flying Colors – Left to right: Steve Morse, Casey McPherson, Neal Morse, Dave Larue, and Mike Portnoy

Last night, I had the great pleasure of seeing Flying Colors perform songs from their first and second albums live on the second show of their tour. Held at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, IL (western suburb of Chicago), the show got off to a rather slow start. Two hours slow, to be exact. The concert was supposed to start at 8PM, with seating to begin at 7. That didn’t happen, due to the fact that the FAA is yet another incompetent government agency run by morons and buffoons. Weather might have also played a part in the fact that the band’s flight from California was late, but I blame the FAA. (The Air Traffic Control facility in Chicago was lit on fire by a “disgruntled” employee last week, and they are still recovering.) Mike Portnoy claimed the band hadn’t slept in a couple of days, but it sure didn’t show while they were playing. So, considering the circumstances, it was almost a miracle the show happened at all, so props to Flying Colors for making it happen.

The Flying Colors began playing at 10, but they had a touring band called Bend Sinister, of Vancouver, Canada, open for them at 9 PM. According to the theater people, Flying Colors didn’t inform the theater that Bend Sinister would also be playing. Shoutout to the band manager for a job well done (sarcasm). Bend Sinister’s music can be best described as classic hard rock. They had guitar, drums, bass, keyboards, and a singer with the vocal range of Steve Perry (I’m not kidding, the dude was amazing). They played loud, and were a fairly solid opening act. They finished their act with a cover of Supertramp’s “The Logical Song,” and they did a great job with that. I kind of felt bad for not buying one of their albums to support them, but I’m a poor college student. The bassist gave me a business card after the show though, so there’s that.

Flying Colors finally took the stage around 10, and, boy, was the crowd ready. I don’t remember the setlist, which doesn’t much matter because they ended up playing a song that wasn’t on it. All the songs were from their first two albums, except for one acoustic song done by Casey McPherson from his band, Alpha Rev. He phased that song right into the beginning of “Peaceful Harbor,” and it worked perfectly.

Right from the get go, Flying Colors was rockin’ the roof off the joint. I was so excited to finally get to see Mike Portnoy, my second favorite drummer behind Neal Peart (who else?). After listening to my review copy of Second Nature a few weeks ago, I knew I had to hear more from this band. I acquired their first album (thanks, Brad), and I listened to both of Flying Colors albums almost daily for the past two weeks, until I decided to buy a ticket on Wednesday. They did not disappoint in concert. Everything from Steve Morse’s unworldly guitar work, to Portnoy’s always amazing drum work, to Dave Larue’s steady and technical bass work, this band has it all. I don’t think it is too much to say that this is one of the best “supergroups” ever.

The frustrating part of the evening, both for me and obviously for the band, was the feedback problems they had with their audio system. I think all of the problems were coming from Casey’s amps, as he said a couple of times that he blew a few amps, and the audio guy was on stage half the show messing with Casey’s guitar and amps trying to fix the problem. He never did, unfortunately. But, it was only noticeable on the quiet songs. Despite the setback, the band still performed flawlessly, and they really deserve credit for fighting through yet another setback. The crowd was more than gracious, which I’m sure the band appreciated.

IMG_1217

Dave Larue on bass

If you have listened to any of the Flying Colors catalogue, you know how amazing these guys are. In concert, they take it to the max. In fact, some of their songs sound even better live, especially “Infinite Fire,” which was the encore, and “Peaceful Harbor.” The beautiful thing about this band is they don’t play loud for the sake of playing loud. Even though I left with about 1/4 of the hearing capacity I arrived with, each instrument could be heard (or felt) clearly and distinctly. It wasn’t just loud noise, like some bands. As a lead singer, arguably the least famous member of the band, Casey McPhersen has an excellent stage presence and a fantastic voice with great pitch and range. He never missed a note. Neal Morse sounded good as well, and he was a whiz on the keyboards. Even Portnoy sang, which was cool to see the drummer do. He talked to the audience a lot as well, explaining their difficulties getting to Chicago. The Arcada Theater has become his “home away from home,” as this was the third show he has played there this year, all with different bands. Dave Larue is incredible on the bass, and he bears an uncanny resemblance to Geddy Lee. Steve Morse is a god on guitar, enough said.

Throughout the night, the band played a good mix of songs from both of their albums. It was probably about 50/50, but they may have played more from Second Nature. I think they opened with “Open Your Eyes,” but I can’t rightly remember. (I’m better at remembering albums, since I usually listen to albums in their entirety and never look at what song is playing. That’s why I love TaaB!) In no specific order, they also played, “Cosmic Symphony,” “Mask Machine,” “Bombs Away” (freakin’ amazing bass!), “The Fury of My Love,” “Peaceful Harbor,” Shoulda Coulda Woulda,” “Kayla,” “The Storm,” “Infinite Fire,” and several other songs I’m forgetting. It was all awesome, and there isn’t a Flying Colors song that I don’t like.

In the end, this was a fantastic concert. The band did a great job of overcoming adversity, especially when the venue was nowhere near sold out. They truly love their fans, because they showed nothing but appreciation to the crowd. In my mind, the only thing holding them back is the airlines, equipment failure, and whoever the hell set up the sound equipment.

Tonight was the last American show, held in Philadelphia. However, for European fans, there are seven more shows in the tour spread out around the continent. My recommendation: go! You won’t regret it. And go buy Second Nature. Great job Flying Colors!

http://flyingcolorsmusic.com

My iPhone takes garbage photos. I think a polaroid from the 70s could do better. My dad has color slides from a Journey concert that are clearer than this.

My iPhone takes garbage photos. I think a polaroid from the 70s could do better. My dad has color slides from a Journey concert that are clearer than this.

Re-Entering the Universe

dennisleeaskew

Well, it has been exactly one year since I first joined Progarchy, and what a positive experience it has been. In celebration, I have decided to briefly give another shout out to my friend Dennis Lee Askew of the band Universe, one of my favorite American prog bands.  I very much enjoyed reviewing his first album in an earlier post.  Dennis recently issued a new album (pictured above) containing some songs from his first album and a few others previously unreleased. If you enjoy the sounds of psychedelia, space rock, acid rock, and prog, you will enjoy this album. It is a superb blend of Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues with some Yes added for good measure.  My two favorite songs on the album are I Am, which is keyboard driven and definitely has an early Pink Floyd vibe, and The Axiom, which features a cool synth opening and some great guitar work. You can support Dennis and his work by visiting his website and purchasing the album.

http://www.universemusic.us

Prog nobility in my old hometown, Kungsbacka!

Earlier today I searched YouTube for some suitable music to post on Sally Collyer’s Facebook timeline since it’s her birthday and all. What would be more suitable than a nice piece of footage from a Tangent gig, I thought! :) And really perfect it would be if I could find a clip from the gig I attended, the one in my old hometown Kungsbacka, south of Gothenburg, Sweden. Imagine my joy when I actually found these two clips from the absolutely fantastic Monday evening, when The Tangent and Karmakanic joined forces for the last time on the short but intense tour they were out on in the last week of May and beginning of June. They started out with two gigs in Sweden, continued with three shows in Germany and The Netherlands and played, what first was meant to be the end of the tour, for an apparently ecstatic audience at Celebr8.3 in London. But, alas, the festival gig wasn’t the last, so they actually flew back to Sweden again to finish the tour at Kungsbacka Teater! Which, naturally, I’m so very happy they did!  And so, watching the clips this morning made me again feel the happiness to be here, now, in this very time, being able to enjoy all the wonderful music being played by fantastic bands like The Tangent and Karmakanic. And soon, oh soon it’s time for the highly anticipated gathering of friends, also known as Big Big Train Live at King’s Hall, which probably will be The Pinnacle of my life as a music lover. :)

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