The Best Albums of January 2019

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January is always an interesting month. I find myself still listening to some of the best albums of the previous year, as well as exploring albums from other people’s Top Ten lists for the previous year that I somehow missed.

And then there are the new releases of the year. Sometimes January can blow you away, as artists release something new in January that is so good, you just know it will be on your Top Ten for that new year.

So far in 2019 we have had an incredible January. Two giants of prog have each given us masterpieces. Steve Hackett has released his magnificent At the Edge of Light and The Neal Morse Band has given us The Great Adventure, both of which Progarchy has reviewed at length, because both are top notch releases that no lover of great music should miss.

Also of note is that Dave Kerzner has launched Acceleration Theory — Part 1 with his In Continuum exercise in collaboration. It’s pretty good but, because it recycles some material destined for the second Sound of Contact album that never happened, it has some unevenness and lack of cohesion. Yet it does also have some really great moments, and I am particularly fond of the crazy “Bjork from space” episodes as delivered by the protagonist’s love interest on the “AlienA” track, as well as the album’s more conventional prog awesomeness on “Hands of Time.”

Kerzner’s solo albums are all superb, so let’s hope he brings Part 2 more into focus. Still, he may have saddled this project with too silly of a story line to make it possible to achieve a higher musical elevation. Then again, prog has a tradition of transfiguring the silly idea into a classic epic. Try explaining the best concept albums to someone without the music. They sound like jokes, right?

Meanwhile, on the new Dream Theater album, the only track I can like is “S2N,” because while the musicians undeniably have technical skill, my main first impression is the album overall lacks interesting or emotionally engaging songs.

Other new albums that I have been listening to in 2019 have been Weezer’s superfun Teal Album and Damian Wilson and Adam Wakeman’s intimate Stripped, both of which supply plenty of emotional impact, since both exhibit what great songwriting is (be they originals or cover songs).

There are four albums from 2018 that I still cannot stop listening to in 2019, and so I commend them all to you, in case you missed them:
Subsignal, La Muerta
Wytch Hazel, II: Sojourn
Greta van Fleet, Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Phaeton, Phaeton

Don’t forget, Soen’s Lotus is released tomorrow (on February 1), and I can guarantee its excellence. I have already written a preview review of it for you on Progarchy. It’s their best release ever, and if you love prog metal you cannot miss it, since it offers songs with serious emotional depth as well as unusual musical skill.

Kansas “Point of Know Return” Tour Resuming; Band to Return to Studio in August

Kansas – ‘Point of Know Return’ Anniversary Tour Resumes March 1st

Photo credit: EMily Butler Photography
KANSAS INTRODUCES KEYBOARDIST TOM BRISLIN AS NEWEST MEMBER OF ICONIC BAND

KANSAS RETURNING TO STUDIO IN AUGUST

ATLANTA, GA – KANSAS is excited to announce keyboardist Tom Brislin as the newest member of the band.  Brislin replaces departing keyboardist David Manion.

An internationally acclaimed musician, Brislin has performed and toured with a variety of artists, including Yes (appearing on Symphonic Live), Meat Loaf, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Camel, Renaissance, Dennis DeYoung formerly of Styx, and many others. For years he fronted the band Spiraling and produced his debut solo album Hurry Up and Smell the Roses.

Most recently, Tom co-founded the progressive rock group The Sea Within. Along with guitarist Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings, bassist Jonas Reingold of the Steve Hackett band, and drum star Marco Minnemann, they released their first album in 2018 on Sony/Inside Out Music, joining KANSAS on the label’s roster. Tom has also formed Gold Rotation, a collective of diverse musicians and songwriters who premiered with a performance at Progstock Festival in 2018.

KANSAS original member and drummer, Phil Ehart comments, “We are extremely excited for Tom Brislin to be the newest member of KANSAS.  We think KANSAS fans will really enjoy what Tom brings to the band.  Rehearsals for the spring have been going great.  We cannot wait to get back out on the road and perform for KANSAS fans. Then, it’s into the studio in August to begin a new KANSAS album, and back out on tour in September.”

Brislin adds, “It’s an honor to be asked to join a such legendary band as KANSAS. Their music has been in the soundtrack to so many of our lives, and their repertoire has enduring depth, beauty, and power. I’m thrilled to perform the classics and I’m equally excited to be a part of the new music that KANSAS creates.”

Brislin’s first performances with KANSAS will be aboard the Rock Legends Cruise in February, followed by March 1 in Baltimore, MD at the Modell Lyric where the band will be resuming the Point of Know Return Anniversary Tour.  The band will perform a set of KANSAS Classics at shows throughout the summer, before returning to the studio to begin a new KANSAS album in August 2019.

A complete list of announced 2019 KANSAS tour dates is listed below.  Ticket & VIP Package information can be found at KansasBand.com

SPRING 2019 KANSAS POINT OF KNOW RETURN TOUR DATES
March 1         Baltimore, MD     The Modell Lyric
March 3         Wilkes-Barre, PA     F.M. Kirby Center
March 8         Des Moines, IA        Hoyt Sherman Place
March 9         Peoria, IL        Peoria Civic Center Theater
March 15       Salina, KS        Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts
March 16       Salina, KS        Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts
March 21       Charleston, WV     Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences
March 23       Louisville, KY         Louisville Palace Theatre
March 29       Beaver Creek, CO    Vilar Performing Arts Center
March 30       Denver, CO       Paramount TheatreApril 2            Tucson, AZ          Fox Tucson Theatre
April 4            San Diego, CA     Balboa Theatre
April 6            Los Angeles, CA      The Orpheum Theatre
April 7            Santa Barbara, CA    The Arlington Theatre
April 10          Oakland, CA      Paramount Theatre
April 12          Portland, OR     Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
April 13          Seattle, WA      Paramount Theatre
April 24          Vancouver, BC, Canada       The Orpheum
April 26          Edmonton, AB, Canada       Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
April 28          Calgary, AB, Canada            Jack Singer Concert Hall
April 30          Saskatoon, SK, Canada       TCU PlaceMay 1             Regina, SK, Canada       Conexus Arts Centre
May 3             Winnipeg, MB, Canada    Burton Cummings Theatre
May 10           Rockford, IL            Coronado Performing Arts Center
May 11           Fort Wayne, IN        Foellinger TheatreSUMMER 2019 KANSAS CLASSICS DATES  May 17          Ocala, FL              Square Cultural Center
May 18          Coconut Creek, FL      Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
May 24          Biloxi, MS             Beau Rivage Resort & Casino
May 30          Bethlehem, PA      Sands Event Center
May 31          Atlantic City, NJ           Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
June 1           Atlantic City, NJ           Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

The Neal Morse Band, The Great Adventure

I was skeptical when I heard about the Neal Morse Band’s new project.  A concept album that’s a sequel to their previous concept album?  Might Neal, Eric Gillette, Bill Hubauer, Randy George and the ever-prolific Mike Portnoy have finally taken this “epic of epic epicness” thing too far?

But then, I was skeptical about 2016’s The Similitude of a Dream, too.  A double album based on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress sounded like a disaster in the making to me.  (Yes, this lifelong Lutheran still bore psychological scars from Morse’s Sola Scriptura.)  But, to my ears, Morse and crew rose to the challenge, unreeling Bunyan’s basic narrative with an enticing flow of steady invention, high style, and hearty commitment. And on the evidence of the Similitude of a Dream Live and Morsefest 2017 videos, the work got sharper, more dramatic and more engrossing the more the NMB played it.   At this point, along with the two Testimony sets and ?Similitude is firmly ensconced in my Top Ten of Morse-led albums.  (Which Transatlantic still rules.  But I digress.)

So I gave The Great Adventure a chance — and I’m glad I did.   It’s got enough continuity with Similitude to feel like a genuine sequel, but also enough musical and lyrical freshness to stand on its own merits.  On initial hearings, I think it’s a smashing success that will reward repeated listens.

Continue reading “The Neal Morse Band, The Great Adventure”

Andy Tillison – Now on Bandcamp!

From Andy Tillison, posting on the Tangent’s Facebook group page:

Hello – and as promised, here is a link to my very own Bandcamp page. I would like you to consider this a BETA, or work in progress. A few things I need to make clear. These are flac/wav/mp3 downloads only. I am doing this to make the music available – the re-release of these limited interest titles on any form of media would be impossible to finance. I’m sorry that the world ended up like that. However, the quality is exactly the same as the original CD releases. Nothing for your shelves… but plenty for your ears. …

Yes – the albums have to be paid for, I’m sorry but assure you that I plough as much as possible into the development of new work. Most of you realise this. More titles are in preparation from Po90, The Tangent and my own solo work.  Same time next week?

What’s in Tillison’s first wave of Bandcamp releases, you ask?  Follow the jump for the details!
Continue reading “Andy Tillison – Now on Bandcamp!”

Steve Hackett North American Tour Dates

I finished yesterday’s review of Steve Hackett’s new album At the Edge of Light like so:

Here’s hoping his 2019 tour (also featuring Spectral Mornings and Genesis’ Selling England by the Pound) crosses the pond to North America!

Not even 24 hours later, here are Hackett’s complete North American tour dates.  Note that the Quebec, Oakville, Montreal and Vancouver shows are already on sale.  Direct links for tickets are included with the official listing on Hackett’s Tour Dates page.

  • 12 September – Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 13 September – State Theatre, Ithaca, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 15 September – Grand Theatre de Quebec, Quebec, CANADA
  • 17-18 September – Oakville Centre for Performing Arts, Oakville, CANADA
  • 20 September – Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, CANADA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 21 September – Place des Arts Theatre Maisonneuve, Montreal, CANADA – * SOLD OUT *
  • 22 September – Place des Arts Theatre Maisonneuve, Montreal, CANADA
  • 24 September – Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA (Onsale 1 February; Pre-sale code: BOSTON)
  • 25 September – Beacon Theatre, NYC, NY (Onsale 1 February)
  • 26 September – The Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT (Onsale 1 February)
  • 27-28 September – Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 1 October – Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, Munhall, PA (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: musichall)
  • 2 October – Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, OH (Onsale 1 February)
  • 3 October – 20 Monroe Live, Grand Rapids, MI  US (Onsale 1 February)
  • 4 October – The Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI, US (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: GENESIS)
  • 5 October – The Copernicus Center, Chicago, IL (Onsale 8 February)
  • 7 October – Pantages Theatre of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN (Onsale 1 February; Pre-sale code: WALRUS)
  • 10 October – Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA (Onsale 1 February; pre-sale code: WALRUS)
  • 11 October – Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, CANADA
  • 12 October – Revolution Hall, Portland, OR (Onsale 1 February)
  • 16 October – Fox Tucson Theatre, Tucson, AZ, US – Ticket link to follow
  • 17 October – The Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ (Onsale 8 February)
  • 18 October – Orpheum Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (Onsale 1 February)
  • 19 October – Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA – Ticket link to follow
  • 20 October – Fox Theater, Oakland, CA (Onsale 1 February)

 

— Rick Krueger