Progarchy’s End of Summer Round Up

There has been a lot of quality prog released this summer. Overall I’d say there isn’t as much top tier level stuff (i.e., albums that rank with some of the best ever made in the genre), but there have been a lot of solid albums worthy of your attention released lately. This list won’t be exhaustive, but it should be a good starting point for people looking for some new music. Order is completely arbitrary. Ok maybe this first one is at the top for a reason.

Nad Sylvan – The Regal Bastard

Steve Hackett’s touring vocalist released his best solo album to date this summer. It is a little more accessible than the first two albums in the Vampirate trilogy, but it retains some of the same themes and motifs. Sylvan has a lot of talent, and this album stands above the crowd this summer. If you only listen to one album off this list, choose this one. And check out my interview with Nad from earlier this summer: https://progarchy.com/2019/06/30/the-vampirate-speaks-a-conversation-with-nad-sylvan/

Tool – Fear Inoculum

I’ve only ever passively listened to Tool, but I found this album to be quite good. Was it worth the wait for diehard Tool fans? I’m not sure, but this is a solid album that is heavy without being overpowering. Check out Rick Krueger’s review: https://progarchy.com/2019/09/01/tool-fear-inoculum/

Richard Henshall – Cocoon

Haken guitarist Richard Henshall released a solo album this summer, and listening to it makes it clear how central he is to Haken. While nowhere near as heavy as Haken, there are many similarities in the song structure and in the overall sound. If you like Haken, or even if you don’t like metal, check Cocoon out. It takes familiar sounds in a lighter and gentler direction that should appeal to many. Check out Time Lord’s interview with Henshall: https://progarchy.com/2019/07/26/richard-henshall-interview-the-progarchy-podcast-richhaken/

District 97 – Screens

Even though they’re a Chicago band (where I’m from), District 97 has never really clicked for me. I appreciate their live album of King Crimson material recorded with John Wetton, but their own albums haven’t stood out to me. This album is different. It’s more unique, and it sounded a lot fresher to my ear. Check out Rick Krueger’s review: https://progarchy.com/2019/09/07/district-97-screens/

Rise Twain – Rise Twain

Theoretically, this album has more in common with the heyday of popular rock music from the 1960s, but the immense skill of Brett Kull and J D Beck as songwriters and musicians takes this album to the next level. This album is extremely well crafted, and is a remarkable work of art. Check out my recent interview with Brett Kull about this album: https://progarchy.com/2019/08/30/a-conversation-with-brett-kull-of-rise-twain/

Lobate Scarp – Spirals and Portals EP

So-Cal’s Lobate Scarp make very fresh-sounding prog rock that has nods to the classic era of prog yet still sounds very contemporary. This EP is brief and includes the previously released single “Beautiful Life,” but it offers a nice quick prog fix. Plus that artwork is phenomenal. https://www.lobatescarp.com

Pattern Seeking Animals – Pattern Seeking Animals

Featuring some current and former members/producer from Spock’s Beard, this album sounds vaguely familiar yet still separate enough from Spock’s Beard to be an interesting listen. Check out Adam Sears’ interview with Jimmy Keegan and John Boegehold: https://progarchy.com/2019/07/19/a-conversation-with-jimmy-keegan-and-john-boegehold-of-pattern-seeking-animals/

IZZ – Don’t Panic

Prog with a elements of classical guitar? Yes please. There are clear nods to 70s era prog, but they have their own unique sound. Check out Time Lord’s review: https://progarchy.com/2019/06/05/album-review-izz-dont-panic-izzmusic/

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – Ark

And here I thought only classical music could have instrumental songs influenced by historic events. The story behind this little EP is pretty cool. Malcolm Galloway, the main man behind this band, wrote the song “Ark” about his grandfather’s time as part of the Ark Royal during World War II. The other songs offer progressive rock interpretations of electronic music and a proggy take on an old Irish folk song. There’s a lot of diversity in these three tracks, but it all sounds very good. http://www.hatsoffgentlemen.com

Malcolm Galloway – Transitions

And speaking of Malcolm Galloway… his solo album is solid too. Only three tracks long (one is over a half hour long), the album provides a simple dose of instrumental synths. The first track, “Pattern Jugglers” is definitely the strongest, with some interesting sounds appearing throughout. Instrumental and keyboard-oriented music fans will be most drawn to this. https://malcolmgalloway.bandcamp.com/album/transitions

Moron Police – A Boat on the Sea

Just got this one in recently. Wow! This Norwegian band really knows how to pack energy into a song. The music has a lot of bounce to it, and the vocalist has a very unique voice that sort of reminds me of Volbeat’s singer. “A Boat on the Sea” is definitely a must-listen. Guitars, drums, vocals – man everything is awesome about this. The wild key and time signatures shifts on “Captain Awkward” are great. Plus with a title like that, I’m assuming they wrote the song about me. Just saying. https://moronpolice1.bandcamp.com


I’m sure that I’ve missed a ton of great music out there, but these albums and EPs should keep you busy for a while. I’m glad to see the prog scene is still going strong despite massive shifts in the music industry more broadly.

Thoughts?

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