10. Flying Colors – At first I thought this was more “pop” than “prog”, but I kept coming back to it throughout the year. It’s prog, and it’s very good!
9. Neal Morse – Momentum. Neal stays true to his beliefs, while delivering the best album of his solo career. Full of energy and great melodies, he, Randy George, and Mike Portnoy create a masterpiece with this one.
8. Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy – WaterSky. A beautiful set of ambient pieces that were recorded while on retreat at a lodge in rural Texas. The sympathetic interplay between Johnson’s keyboards and Keaggy’s guitar is simply wonderful. My students request this music while working on math problems!
7. Gazpacho – Night. Okay, this was originally released in 2007, but, in my opinion, the rerecording of the album proper and the addition of a second disc of live tracks qualifies it as a “new” release. If you don’t think this is a prog must-have, read Brad Birzer’s post about it. Besides, it even has a new cover.
6. Sanguine Hum – Diving Bell. The very first song opens with a blast of Devo-esque angular guitar and concludes with gorgeous XTC-style melody. I love this album.
5. Various Artists – Spirit of Talk Talk. The greatest triumph of this compilation is the fact that every single track stays true to the spirit of the magic that was Talk Talk. This two-disc set was the subject of my first post to Progarchy.
4. Yppah – Eighty-One. I recently posted about how much I have enjoyed this album. Music that transports one to a better place.
3. North Atlantic Oscillation – Fog Electric. What a talented duo. They marry a shoegazing wall-of-sound to lush Beach Boys harmonies, and never disappoint. Their debut album was a favorite of mine last year, and this one is even better.
2. Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Lost In the New Real. A fun concept album from the mastermind behind Ayreon. It raises a lot of interesting philosophical questions, while rocking like hell. (Once again, see Brad Birzer’s excellent review) I emailed Mr. Lucassen to express my appreciation for this album, and he replied, “It’s a very personal album (despite the sci-fi contents) and I’m extremely proud of it.” I can’t wait for the new Ayreon album due out in 2013.
1. Big Big Train – English Electric, Part One. This is getting embarrassing. People will think Progarchy is a shell site set up to promote BBT, but English Electric truly is a once-in-a-lifetime album that deserves every accolade it has received. Every note, every vocal, every word is perfect. I can’t say anything more. If you don’t have it yet, get it.
Honorable Mentions: O.S.I. – Fire Make Thunder, RPWL – Beyond Man and Time, District 97 – Trouble With Machines, and Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick 40th Anniversary Edition.