Welcome, New Progarchist!

Disclaimer: The above photo shows Reyna in a past life and does not reflect her actual appearance.

Fellow Progarchists:

Please extend a hand to the newest member of our team, Reyna McCain! She is an avid fan of ’60s and ’70s music, cats, and bellbottom jeans. I have no doubt that she will be a welcome addition to Progarchy, and we look forward to her first post!

Neal Morse Band Announce New Album for August Release

From Radiant Records:


image

Hey, everyone!

We’re delighted to announce details of the eagerly-anticipated new NMB album! Some incredible new music is coming your way. We will be starting pre-orders at www.radiantrecords.com on Friday, June 18th. Watch for our updates as we reveal some amazing exclusives relating to this release, plus another release only available from our website!

** OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE **

NMB are pleased to announce the release of their much-anticipated fourth studio album Innocence & Danger on August 27th, 2021.

With NMB’s previous two releases being concept albums, it’s perhaps remarkable that Innocence & Danger is a series of unrelated songs, but drummer Mike Portnoy says “After two sprawling back to back double concept albums in a row, it was refreshing to get back to writing a collection of unrelated individual songs in the vein of our first album.”

Indeed, making this album came easy to the band; while the initial inspiration came particularly from Bill Hubauer (keyboards) and Randy George (bass), the ideas flowed from everybody from there on, as George recalls: “I am excited about the level of collaboration that we achieved on this one. We even went in with a lot of ideas that weren’t necessarily developed, and I think in the end we have something that represents the best of everybody in the band.”

In fact – like its two acclaimed predecessors – Innocence & Danger is a double-album by inspiration, rather than design, as Portnoy explains: “As much as we wanted to try and keep it to a single album after having just done two double albums, we wrote so much material that we found ourselves with our third double album in a row! That’s pretty prog!”

There is also plenty: “There’s one half hour epic and another that’s about 20 minutes long. I really didn’t realise that they were that long when we were recording them, which I guess is great because if a movie is really good, you don’t realise that it’s three hours long! But there are also some shorter songs: some have poppier elements, some are heavier and some have three part acoustic sections. I’m excited about all of it, really.”

The album will be released as a Limited 2CD+DVD Digipak (featuring a Making Of documentary), 3LP+2CD Boxset, Standard 2CD Jewelcase & Digital Album, featuring artwork by Thomas Ewerhard (Transatlantic). Pre-orders start on the 18th June, and the full track-listing is below:

CD 1 (Innocence):

1. Do It All Again 08:55

2. Bird On A Wire 07:22

3. Your Place In The Sun 04:12

4. Another Story To Tell 04:50

5. The Way It Had To Be 07:14

6. Emergence 03:12

7. Not Afraid Pt. 1 04:53

8. Bridge Over Troubled Water 08:08

CD 2 (Danger):

1. Not Afraid Pt. 2 19:32

2. Beyond The Years 31:22

The Neal Morse Band (now NMB) was formed in 2012, featuring long-time collaborators Neal Morse (vocals, keyboards and guitars), Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) and Randy George (bass), as well as Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals) and Eric Gillette (guitars, vocals). The band’s first album, The Grand Experiment, showed both a freshness and maturity that was further developed in 2016’s The Similitude Of A Dream, 2019’s The Great Adventure and 2021’s Innocence & Danger.

Look for NMB on tour in North America in October 2021 and in Europe throughout May/June 2022. Tour dates coming soon!

Blessings,

The Radiant Records Team

Single Premiere: Fungi -“Third Eye” Off Upcoming Album “Into the Void”

FungiWe’re excited to be able to premiere the first single from Fungi’s upcoming album, Into the Void. The song, entitled “Third Eye,” is the opening track on the record, and it gets the album off to a pounding start.

The album has touches of progressive metal with a particularly fresh spin. There are elements of hard rock and metal, reminiscent of bands like Chevelle or Tool. At just under forty minutes, the album flies by leaving the listener wanting more.

Into the Void has a youthful energy that reminds me of the early days of Dream Theater, particularly in the quieter moments, such as on the second track, “Passengers III.” It doesn’t necessarily sound like Dream Theater, but it has that sincerity and intensity. Fungi allow their sound to develop and shift over the course of the songs. For instance, part of the third track, “Parallels,” has a Genesis vibe, with an acoustic guitar and light flute in the background. The song opens with a heavier riff but alternates between quieter and heavier passages. The ten-minute long final track, “Genesis,” takes on some symphonic elements while maintaining the heavy guitars, pounding drums, and soaring vocals.

Regarding the album’s concept, the band tells Progarchy:

Into the void is a progressive rock album that talks about the transition process we go through when you get to a point in your life where you need to step up or upgrade to your new version/Self. The main idea is the a part of you has to die in order for other to be born, and that process, that tends to be tough and confusing, is only clear and understood, once you get to the other side, meanwhile you can feel altered, lost, confused, seeking help, angry, but then at some point you kind of get that feeling of familiarity, reconnection with something very deep, you feel as if you were back to your true self (your inner kid, your creative self, your spiritual self); after feeling that strong reconnection strong feeling of glory, power and freedom is reached. And so you can now start your new journey as your new self, walking towards your future next transformation process, which will be wearing another undistinguishable disguise. We go through these processes a lot of times in our life but somehow we fail to recognize when we are going through the process. Maybe by hearing this album, people can identify more clearly and easily when they are going through these processes.
Everything is written from a point of view of a made up story of a man mysteriously walking through a highway, who gets tired, walks down a path that gets him to a river with trees and shadows, so he lays to drink water and find something to eat.. the only thing he sees are a bunch of mushrooms, which he then eats and lays to rest, as he starts having visions, and hearing voices, represented in the verses of the songs. Choruses are mostly him thinking to himself, reflecting on what he heard from the voices, making his own conclusions. The music emulates the trip of a mushroom starting with Intense euphoria, rapid changes in mood, reflexion, followed by an afterglow and a sense of liberation.
Into the Void packs a lot into forty minutes, but its brevity makes it easily digestible. It brings to the table many of the aspects of prog that make the genre so appealing. It has storytelling, heavy rock moments, and quieter musical passages. We highly recommend you give Fungi’s “Third Eye” a listen, and look out for the upcoming release of Into the Void.
Follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thisisfungi/
Fungi_IntotheVoid

New Film About Big Big Train and Their “Passengers” To Be Released This Summer

Courtesy of the folks at the Prog Report, I just found out that a new independent film about Big Big Train and their fans is going to be released this summer. The film, which is entitled Journey of the Passengers, is specifically about the band’s first ever tour: 2019’s Grand Tour. The 132 minute movie will be released in six episodes beginning in August. 

Read more over at the Prog Report: https://progreport.com/new-independent-film-follows-big-big-train-and-the-journey-of-the-passengers/

And check out a brief trailer: https://youtu.be/N8ZXThy63uY

 

Tim Bowness, Brian Hulse, and David K. Jones Set to Release Latest Plenty Album

Press Release:

Plenty - Enough

Formed in 1986 from the ashes of Liverpool-based post-punk band A Better Mousetrap and Warringtonian art rockers After The Stranger, Plenty was a group that featured singer Tim Bowness immediately prior to him hooking up with multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson to found No-Man.

Echoing then contemporary artists such as The Blue Nile, It’s Immaterial, The Chameleons, David Sylvian and Talk Talk – as well as the iconic likes of David Bowie, Eno/Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush – Plenty alternated between anthemic indie-pop, poignant ballads and electronic experiments. In 2018, Bowness and fellow original Plenty members Brian Hulse and David K Jones reunited to record and release the well received album ‘It Could Be Home’.

‘Enough’ is a brand new 2xCD that comprises two 2021 ‘lockdown’ projects plus the first ever release of seven original demos recorded in the ‘80s. Harder hitting and more diverse than its predecessor, ‘Old’ is a mini-album consisting of seven contemporary interpretations of 1980’s Plenty songs not included on the reunion record. ‘Borrowed’ is an EP of five cover versions that sees the trio stamp its identity on songs by It’s Immaterial, Suzanne Vega (wherein despair takes a trip to the Euro disco), The Teardrop Explodes, Kevin Coyne and Hank Williams (in what may be the most English slice of Americana ever!). ‘Older’ features seven original Plenty demos dating from 1986 to 1990, with several songs containing lyrical ideas later utilised by No-Man.

https://youtu.be/LDCBtGIB7sY

Something old, something borrowed, but all blue, ‘Enough’ showcases the origins of styles that subsequently became Bowness and No-Man trademarks and reveals different facets to his distinctive vocal technique. The powerful bass playing of Jones and inventive guitar parts and pulsating electronics from Hulse also push Bowness into territories he’s rarely explored since the 1980’s.

A video for a re-recording of the first ever Plenty song, ‘Forest Almost Burning’, has just been made available. Bowness explains that the original “was one of the first pieces of mine that I sent to Steven Wilson and it ended up being included on Steven’s compilation album ‘Double Exposure’ [released in 1988]. It was also enough to convince Steven he’d like to work with me, and it became a part of our early No-Man live sets.” Both versions of the track appear on ‘Enough’.

The artwork for ‘Enough’ is by Carl Glover and the 2xCD booklet includes extensive  sleeve notes by Tim Bowness.

PLENTY
Tim Bowness – vocals, backing vocals, FX
Brian Hulse – guitars, pianos, synths, drum programming
David K Jones – bass, fretless bass, double bass, bass pedals
+
GUEST MUSICIANS
Tom Atherton – drums
Michael Bearpark – guitars, fretless bass
Peter Chilvers – piano, synths
Charles Grimsdale – drums  

https://plentymusic.bandcamp.com
https://burningshed.com/plenty_enough_cd

Album Review – The Rebel Wheel’s “Simple Machines”

The Rebel Wheel - Simple MachinesThe Rebel Wheel, Simple Machines, November 11, 2020
Tracks: 
Pulley (4:06), Hammer (5:21), Inclined Plane (4:48), Screw (5:40), Fulcrum (4:36), Switch (5:19), Wheelsuitewheel (11:37)

I’ve been sitting on the promo CD for Ottawa, Ontario band The Rebel Wheel’s latest album, Simple Machines, for a while, although I’ve been listening to it a fair amount. The album has been a pleasant surprise for me. I’ve enjoyed it every time I’ve listened to it. The Canadian three-piece is comprised of Andrew Burns (bass, keyboards, vocals, producer), David Campbell (guitars, keyboards, vocals), and Alex Wickham (drums, keyboards, vocals).

While The Rebel Wheel have several albums and several decades under their belt, Simple Machines finds them making a few changes, with every band member contributing to the writing and a different band member producing it compared to past records. Their overall sound is hard to pin down, as it is rather varied. I think Primus must be a major influence for Andrew Burns, who produced the record. Skimming through their discography on Bandcamp, I definitely recognize some similar musical ideas, but a Primus influence sounds much more prominent on Simple Machines. I hear this in some of the vocals, particularly on “Inclined Plane” and “Wheelsuitewheel,” as well as in the funk-influenced brand of metal on the album. That influence is present in the music and vocals, but not in the lyrics, which are rather simple in their construction, yet still deep with meaning. Not surprisingly I also hear a Discipline-era King Crimson influence in the guitars and bass.

With those two prominent influences there is still plenty of room for innovation. Some of the music almost approaches metal, if we’re going to call what Primus does a kind of metal. But it’s probably more accurate to call The Rebel Wheel progressive rock with heavy a jazz influence. The drums are distinctly jazzy. The bass drives the songs with guitars adding the flourishes and the keyboards filling the soundscape. There are experimental moments too, such as on the eleven and a half minute-long final track.

Even though I’ve made the connections to both Primus and King Crimson, the resulting record sounds quite unique and fresh. A King Crimson influence might be common enough in the prog world (I mean, who hasn’t been influenced by them to at least some degree), but Primus not so much. With the more progressive synth sounds, the record takes on its own life. The vocal harmonies add a nice touch. There’s even some blisteringly heavy guitar at points that remind me of Rush, but I’ll leave that to you to find those moments in the album.

I highly recommend The Rebel Wheel and their latest album. It’s a welcome departure from the Neo-prog territory common amongst most straightforward “prog” bands today. It’s got a crunch and a pleasant quirkiness that doesn’t blend into a symphonic backdrop. It grabs your attention. You won’t find too many other bands making music that sounds quite like this.

https://www.facebook.com/TheRebelWheel/
https://therebelwheel.bandcamp.com/album/simple-machines

Big Big Train, Common Ground

Well, this is a pleasant surprise:

30th July 2021 sees the release of Common Ground, the self-produced new album from Big Big Train released on CD via their own label, English Electric Recordings, and on double LP in a gatefold sleeve via Plane Groovy. The album will also be available as a Bandcamp download and on all major streaming platforms.

Recorded during the worldwide pandemic in 2020, Common Ground sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.

Common Ground finds the band taking in wider musical and lyrical inspiration from artists such as Elbow, Pete Townshend, Tears For Fears, Elton John and XTC, as well as acknowledging their more progressive roots. As ever, Big Big Train will take listeners on a journey, be it waiting for the 5pm pandemic UK press conferences (The Strangest Times) to the library of Alexandria (Black With Ink) to the bottom of the ocean (Atlantic Cable).

Big Big Train has taken lyrical and musical inspiration from periods of history that are recognised as great leaps forward. Now with Common Ground, they are making such a surge themselves.

The title track is now available to stream at Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube:

Preorders for the Common Ground album and related swag are now available at:

And still there’ll be more in 2022:

The Common Ground tour will be Big Big Train’s most comprehensive set of shows to date and will conclude in the UK at the prestigious London Palladium.

For the UK tour Greg Spawton (bass, bass pedals), David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals) and Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) will be joined by Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), who contributes vocals to Common Ground, Dave Foster (guitars), who plays on two tracks on the new album, Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) and by a five piece brass ensemble led by Dave Desmond (trombone).

The band expects to announce North American tour dates shortly.

With all this in store after BBT was forced to cancel their 2020-21 touring, I could only think of the words of noted music critic, theologian and hobbit Sam Gamgee:

“Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”. . . “O great glory and splendor! And all my wishes have come true!”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

— Rick Krueger

Reflecting Tull: Reflection Club’s “Still Thick As A Brick”

Reflection Club - Still Thick As A BrickReflection Club, Still Thick As A Brick, March 3, 2021
Tracks: Prelude (2:00), Time Out (4:03), Years on the Fast Track (3:31), Rellington Town (6:17), The Club of Hopeful Pinions (3:47), The Foray of the Sharks (5:45), Sentimental Depreciation (5:19), Nervesoothers (3:09), The Great Dance around the Golden Calf (3:36), Bedlam (5:48), Look Across the Sea (4:24)

Berlin-based progressive rock project Reflection Club have mastered the spirit and sound of the classic era of Jethro Tull. A frequent critique from some people regarding the current wave of progressive rock is that it often sounds like it’s copying the sounds of the 70s – particularly Genesis and Yes. Reflection Club avoid that critique by making it abundantly clear where they get their influence. They aren’t pretending to make their own unique sounds, but they place themselves out on a ledge by blatantly “reflecting” Jethro Tull, because in doing so they have to live up to the hype they’re creating. Thankfully, they do. 

Reflection Club is primarily the creation of German multi-instrumentalist Lutz Meinert together with German guitarist Nils Conrad, American flautist Ulla Harmuth, and English vocalist Paul Forrest. Not surprisingly, Forrest sings in a tribute band called Jethro Tull Experience. He expertly matches the tone and style of Ian Anderson’s voice circa 1972. Lyrics are written by one George Boston… Ok they’re really written by Meinert.

In the style of the original Thick As A Brick, the group created a beautiful hardcover booklet in a magazine style satirizing music magazines, album and concert reviews, and interviews. It’s really quite hilarious if you take the time to read it. The booklet comes with a CD and a DVD, which has the album on a 5.1 mix or a high quality stereo uncompressed stereo mix. The DVD has a slideshow to go along with the album, helping tell the story. The album is also available on vinyl. 

While this music certainly sounds like Jethro Tull, it in no way sounds like a copy of Thick As A Brick. It is a concept album like the original, and the lyrics are written in Anderson’s style. The album is split into 11 tracks, but it’s really one long song with seamless transitions between tracks. The lyrics deal with many of the issues we deal with in our complex modern world. Thankfully there’s no mention of the pandemic.

Continue reading “Reflecting Tull: Reflection Club’s “Still Thick As A Brick””

Four Months, Four Albums – 2021’s Best Thus Far

There has been a lot of music to wade through thus far in 2021. Most good. Some not so much, depending on who you ask. Despite the title of this post, I don’t think my four favorite albums of the year thus far represent each month, but who cares. Let’s go!

Atravan - The Grey LineAtravan – The Grey Line 

This album was the biggest surprise of the year, so far. Out of the blue back in January, Shayan Dinati of Iranian prog-metal band Atravan contacted us about a review of their album. I gave it a listen and immediately discovered this was worth spending a lot of time with. They dwell in the area of prog metal perfected by Riverside – atmospheric and brooding with thoughtful lyrics. Sure, they’ve got room for improvement to reach the heights of Riverside, but this is a great album in its own right. I was hooked right away, and I highly recommend the album. The Dutch Progressive Rock Page had similar praise for Atravan: https://www.dprp.net/reviews/2021-032 

Steve Hackett Under A Mediterranean SkySteve Hackett – Under A Mediterranean Sky

When I heard last year that Mr. Hackett was working on an acoustic album, I was very excited. I’ve really enjoyed his recent solo output. His last three rock albums are some of the best from his entire solo career. But I also really like his acoustic moments, and he doesn’t disappoint on Under A Mediterranean Sky. He takes us on a grand instrumental tour of the Mediterranean, something sorely needed in an age of travel restrictions. The combination of his stunning guitar work, Roger King’s masterfully arranged symphonic notes, and various world instrumentation make this a beautiful and contemplative album. It isn’t rock, but it’s gorgeous. Check out Rick Krueger’s review: https://progarchy.com/2021/02/02/steve-hackett-under-a-mediterranean-sky/

Nad Sylvan Spiritus Mundi album_coverNad Sylvan – Spiritus Mundi 

Nad Sylvan’s latest solo album is a slight departure from his last three albums, but it’s just as good an album, if not better. Putting the poetry of William Butler Yeats to music may not be a new idea, but Nad has done a wonderful job with it. The album has its rock moments, but it also has pastoral tones that haven’t been as prevalent in his work. His voice is top notch with a versatility that shows he is so much more than a Gabriel or Collins sound-alike. Check out Rick Krueger’s recent interview with Nad, and check out my review.

And now for my favorite album of the first four months of 2021…

Soen - IMPERIALSoen – Imperial

Swedish prog metal supergroup Soen can do no wrong, it seems. I first became cognitively aware of Soen a couple years ago through one of the editors at the Dutch Progressive Rock Page, who frequently sang their praises in reviews and best-of lists. I quickly became a fan of their last couple of albums, and I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across their new release back in January. I was listening to their 2019 album, Lotus, one Friday evening when I wondered if they had any new music coming out soon. It just so happened that they released Imperial that very day, so I dowloaded it and have been happily enjoying it ever since. It’s heavy when it needs to be, but it can recede to quieter moments when necessary.

Joel Ekelöf has one of the best voices in metal, and he really sets Soen apart. They have a heavy guitar crunch that’s more typical of mainstream metal and hard rock bands, but the music is distinctly progressive. Their melodies and lyrics are catchy yet intelligent. My only complaint with the album is that it isn’t longer. It’s 43 minutes, but I could easily listen to much more. Great stuff. 

https://soenmusic.com

Hopefully the rest of 2021 will be full of more excellent music! 

 

 

FROST* Release Video for Title Track off Upcoming Album “Day And Age”

From the fine folks at Inside Out:


Frost* are set to release ‘Day And Age’, their first new studio album in 5 years, on May 14th, 2021. The band’s fourth record features Jem Godfrey once again joined by John Mitchell & Nathan King, as well as 3 guest drummers: Kaz Rodriguez (Chaka Khan, Josh Groban), Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre) & Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister). The album also features actor Jason Isaacs.

The band are pleased to launch an animated clip for an edit of the album’s title track, ‘Day And Age’. Watch it now here: https://youtu.be/RmiAmW3sgHs

Jem Godfrey comments: “Day And Age is about how we have become a planet full of transmitters. Everyone has the power to convey their thoughts far and wide. However nobody is listening because they’re too busy transmitting.”

Watch the previously released video for the track ‘Terrestrial’ here: https://youtu.be/wda09d-QdUk

‘Day And Age’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020, featuring 8 tracks and striking cover artwork by Carl Glover of Aleph Studios (Steven Wilson, Marillion, Steve Jansen). The album will be released on Limited 2CD (including a bonus disc of instrumentals), Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD (with etching on Side D), and as Digital Album.

Pre-order now here: https://frost-band.lnk.to/DayAndAge

1.  Day And Age 11:49
2.  Terrestrial 5:13
3.  Waiting For The Lie 4:31
4.  The Boy Who Stood Still 7:33
5.  Island Life 4:14
6.  Skywards 4:13
7.  Kill The Orchestra 9:27
8.  Repeat To Fade 6:14

Continue reading “FROST* Release Video for Title Track off Upcoming Album “Day And Age””