Forthcoming: THE TIPPING POINT by Tears for Fears

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal

I’m thrilled to learn that the forthcoming Tears for Fears album has a name: THE TIPPING POINT.  At the moment, the title is a tentative one, more indicative of the band’s desires and aspirations than of any confirmed realizations.

It’s been, amazingly enough, thirteen years since the band’s last studio album, EVERYBODY LOVES A HAPPY ENDING.

Westword has a really good article and interview here:

I, for one, have no doubt that this will be a worthy successor to EVERYBODY and a brilliant album.  I’m pretty convinced that Orzabal is our great living pop musician.

The Year of Big Big Train: 2017

The third release of 2017 from Big Big Train.

Is it possible that this train is unstoppable?  I’m honestly not sure.  I am sure—absolutely certain—that I hope it never does.

If you don’t know yet (which is unlikely), Big Big Train has just released its third release of 2017.


Let me stress this again: un-freaking-beautifully-believable.

This past week, the English prog band proved once again why they lead the current revival of the genre, with the free (yes, free) release of a 34-minute EP, entitled simply “London Song.”  Yet, there’s nothing simple about the 34-minutes of music.  A combination of their various songs dealing with London, this “new” track comes with all kinds of surprises and segues worthy of Rush’s Xanadu.

What a thing of beauty.  If Grimspound, Second Brightest Star, and London Song have yet to convince you that there are things in this world worth preserving and cherishing, nothing will.

Since downloading it, I have listened to it almost exclusively.  The new Steven Wilson is kinda neat, but it’s nothing compared to the genius of London Song.  And, after all the inane debates this week on social media about vocals and politics, Big Big Train just does its own thing.  And, what a thing it is!


Existential Genius: Cosmograf’s HAY MAN DREAMS

Cosmograf, THE HAY MAN DREAMS (Cosmograf Music, 2017).  

Professor Birzer’s grade: A.

hay man

Having grown up on Great Plains of North America, surrounded by grazing horses, big skies, and farms, that guy that hangs out on a big kind of crucifix in the fields of wheat was always, to me, a “Scarecrow.”

And, that really, really scary Batman villain, Dr. Jonathan Crane, is also a “Scarecrow.”  He’s creepy in Bruce Timm’s animated Batman, but he’s downright demonic in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

When I first saw the title of Robin Armstrong’s latest Cosmograf masterpiece (and, yes, this IS a masterpiece) HAY-MAN DREAMS, I had no clue what the album would be about.  After all, Armstrong loves existential themes of isolation, alienation, and timelessness.  When I first saw the title, I just assumed the album would be about a farmer who cultivates hay.  Maybe some lonely old guy who couldn’t figure out the modern world.  I knew that Armstrong would do something wild with it, but I didn’t know what.  Hay man?

Continue reading “Existential Genius: Cosmograf’s HAY MAN DREAMS”

Sgt. Pepper’s at 50. Meh.

I turn fifty in two months.  I’m about six months younger than SGT. PEPPER’s.

As almost all of you surely know, Apple/Parlophone/EMI/Capitol/Universal has released a new stereo mix of the uber-famous 1967 album.  Just as the convoluted name of the company suggests, the new album comes in a variety of packages from one disk to innumerable ones.


Growing up in a family that loved music of all types and genres, I’ve had the Beatles running through my head from my earliest memories.  No one in the house was a fanatic, but we certainly appreciated the music.  My two older brothers tended to like the pre-REVOLVER Beatles best, but I always loved REVOLVER through ABBEY ROAD the best.  For about a six-to seven-year period in my life—mostly in college and early graduate school–I was obsessed with the band.  I bought and read all of the books about the band, and I knew every song and every lyric from REVOLVER through ABBEY ROAD.  I knew the most minute details about the recordings, the controversies. . . well, everything.

Continue reading “Sgt. Pepper’s at 50. Meh.”

Do Hours Pass? The Timelessness of Newspaperflyhunting’s WASTELANDS

There are few things in the world of music more pleasurable to me than listening to the philosophical-art-drone-wall of sound-innovations of Poland’s newspaperflyhunting.  The band is probably the greatest unknown band in the world.

Yet, they do nothing if not without utter and complete excellence.  So very prog.

To my shame (and business), I have had their latest album, WASTELANDS, for a few months now without formally reviewing it.  Admittedly, I’ve been a bit selfish, hoarding this grand and glorious music all to myself.

Continue reading “Do Hours Pass? The Timelessness of Newspaperflyhunting’s WASTELANDS”

Astra! Great News–A Third Album Forthcoming

Astra posted this seven hours ago on social media.  Excellent news!  The first two albums are simply outstanding.  Great psychedelic prog.  The “Prisoner” ending is a little spooky, however!

astra update

First off, I have to apologize for just dropping off the map for so long. You all deserve much more than that and since so many of you have been nice enough to write and ask “What’s going on with ASTRA?” I wanted to give you all a status update.

Back when our drummer David Hurley left ASTRA in 2013, no one could really foresee the difficulties ahead. We knew carrying on without Dave would be a hard road to travel but we had no idea just how much of an impact his departure would have on us. The 5 of us had an undeniable chemistry that just worked so well in every aspect, but especially when it came to songwriting. After Dave left, I think we were all pretty bummed out and while we were working on writing material for our 3rd album, our frustrations slowly started cropping up. We decided to take a short break which turned into a long break, which turned into a longer break, which happens to be where we’re at now. Because of this long hiatus some of the guys have become extremely busy with their own musical projects which, unfortunately, now leaves very little time for ASTRA.

However, I do have some good news! I just recently spoke with all of the original ASTRA members, including Dave, and everyone is down to record a 3rd ASTRA album if we can get enough material together. Another bit of good news is that Stuart and I have been playing and writing together and we’re hoping that we can eventually make this 3rd album a reality.

Now, none of this is a guarantee but I think it is a step in the right direction. ASTRA will always be my baby and my first love when it comes to music and I don’t want to give up on her so I’m going to do all that I can to make this happen. This will most likely take quite some time since everyone is so busy but I will try to keep you all updated as best I can. I will also try to be much more diligent in responding to your emails and messages in the future.

Lastly, a huge THANK YOU is long overdue, so, thank you all for sticking with ASTRA through the years and for being such amazing fans. I love you all more than words can say and I’m going to do my best to bring some new ASTRA music to your ears as soon as possible.

Be seeing you,
-Richard Vaughan

Administrative Note for July-August 2017

I’m Andrew Jackson, and I do NOT approve of this message.

Dear Progarchists, readers, reviewers, and creators,

Just FYI, I (Brad) will be only intermittently reviewing and writing about prog over the next two months.  I’ve contracted to write (and complete!–the private sector actually wants results, as Dr. Stantz reminded us in Ghostbusters) a book-length manuscript on President Andrew Jackson.  All to the good, of course, but it means that I will be living the next two months in the 1830s.  Sadly, this was a violent time, and a time without the benefit of progressive rock.

I’ll do my best to connect the Jacksonians with the proggers.

Progarchy should continue without a hitch, but I do want folks to know that if they submit anything to me (Brad), it might take a bit for a response.

Please make sure you also contact one of the other editors if you need anything–but especially Chris (Time Lord:  Thank you!

Yours, BB