CEO’s Ten Favorite Prog & Rock CDs of 2016

After failing to post any “Favorite Music of 2015…” lists last year, I’ve decided that I should avoid elaborate explanations for my choices, but simply note a thing or two about each release that captured my ears and held my attention. I’ve also decided to post three separate but fairly short lists: Prog/Rock, Jazz, and Everything Else. In short, I’m trying to kill my propensity for overkill. I suspect I’ll fail! Here, first, are my picks for favorite prog & rock albums of the past year (give or take a few months):

• “The Prelude Implicit” by Kansas | This is, I think, one of the best feel-good stories in kansas_thepreludeimplicitprog of 2016. After all, Kansas could have just kept touring and playing the same old—ranging from good to great to classic—tunes. Instead, they produced a very good, even great, album. As I wrote in my Progarchy.com review: “In short, the band has found a commendable and impressive balance between old and new, with plenty of prog-heavy, classic Kansas-like passages, but with an emphasis on ensemble playing over solos.  … Kansas is to be commended for embracing their past while clearly moving forward with a confident and often exceptional collection of songs. Highly recommended for both longtime Kansas fans and for those who like melodic, well-crafted prog that puts the emphasis on memorable songs and musical cohesion over theatrics and solos.”

 “Secrets” by Ian Fletcher Thornley | I was initially flummoxed by this album, expecting thornley_secretsa variation on the hard-rocking, high energy music of Big Wreck and Thornley, both fronted, of course, by the prolific Canadian singer, guitarist, writer, and producer. I finally listened to it late one night, in the dark, and I finally heard it on its own terms: acoustic, reflective, mellow, mournful, defiant, sad, and yet shot through with a sense of cautious hope. Thornley demonstrates that his remarkable writing skills are equal to his vocal prowess, which is an aural wine bearing hints of Big Country (“Frozen Pond”), Chris Cornell (“Feel”), Peter Gabriel (“Stay”), Bruce Springsteen (“Just To Know I Can”), and Jeff Buckley (“Blown Wide Open”). In the end, this is a modern blues record featuring every shade and hue of sadness, longing, and loss.

Continue reading “CEO’s Ten Favorite Prog & Rock CDs of 2016”

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016

Among the Progarchy editors, I happen to be the resident metalhead. So, on that basis, here is my list of the 10 best metal albums of the year. I have listened to them many times with the utmost enjoyment. They each have aspects that grab you right away, while other aspects must grow on you over time. In any event, they are all musical achievements of the highest quality, and I give them each my highest recommendation.

The albums below are listed in chronological order. As each month of the year went by, it was clear which album I was listening to the most and enjoying the most. So, on it went to my Top 10 Metal playlist. By November it was abundantly clear, simply from my daily listening habits, what my top 10 picks for the year are. So, here they are, but please note that I will also publish a supplementary “pure prog” Top 10 list later on this month. For now, here is the metal list.

The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016



Megadeth — Dystopia
★★★★★



Holy Grail — Times of Pride and Peril
★★★★★



Haken — Affinity
★★★★★ Continue reading “The Top 10 Metal Albums of 2016”