“Late to the Party” — Best of 2016

As the year winds down, I would like to start a new feature over here at Progarchy.

This new feature is called “Late to the Party.”

Its purpose is to communicate albums that I found out about too late to include on my own Best of 2016 lists.

That is, I found out about them mostly by reading other people’s Best of 2016 lists!

Upon checking out their suggestions, anything that I fell in love with, and consequently started playing on heavy rotation, is placed on my “Late to the Party” list.

(We can continue this feature into January, if people are willing to share their late year-end discoveries. I know I always learn about a ton of great new music from CEO. Carl will always keep me busy for a lot of January!)

Also, you can include items on the “Late to the Party” list from years prior to 2016, items that you nevertheless discovered in 2016, and played heavily during the year, just as if they had been brand new discoveries that edged out all the competition in 2016 for a time on your playlists. (I include two of these “REALLY Late to the Party” discoveries below: i.e., Harvest and Gowan.)

First up is Anakdota, who have an absolutely fantastic, crazily progtastic album that I learned about thanks to Nick here at Progarchy:

Anakdota — Overloading

Also, the MoMM taught me about the existence of Maschine. I absolutely love their jazz tinges and I am giving this one much heavy play in December also:

Maschine — Naturalis

Further, AMG alerted me to this excellent 80s-style metal album, which totally rocks:

Eternal Champion — The Armor of Ire

And now on to the big revelation for December. MoMM also gave me The Jaguar Priest, which is probably the album I am playing in heaviest rotation this month. If you can’t handle death metal vocals (i.e., growly “Cookie Monster” singing) as part of the vocal palette of a cast of multiple singers, then skip tracks 1, 2, and 4 on this release. But do not miss the rest of the album which, even with those three tracks deleted, remains one of the finest prog metal epics of the year. Don’t believe me? Then download one track, “Awakened By the Light.” I did and I was soon hooked, buying the whole album in short order:

Universal Mind Project — The Jaguar Priest

By the way, I discovered Harvest in 2016 and ended up listening to their Northern Wind album from 2014 an incredible amount of times. This was also an album where I downloaded only one track at first, “It All Becomes Clearer,” but fell in love with it and soon purchased the whole album, which I listened to again and again:

Harvest — Northern Wind

Finally, I saw earlier this year that an album by Gowan from 1990, Lost Brotherhood, was re-released on iTunes. I never listened to it at the time, but it turns out that it has three brilliant tracks that totally hooked me this year: “Love Makes You Believe,” “Message From Heaven,” and “Holding This Rage.” Highly recommended!

Gowan — Lost Brotherhood

It’s never too late to come to the rock and roll prog-party!!!

Do Not Disturb – I am listening to Van Der Graaf Generator

Van Der Graaf Generator: Do Not Disturb

Esoteric Antenna EANTCD1062


1 Aloft

2 Alfa Berlina

3 Room 2010

4 Forever Falling

5 Shikita Ga Nai

6 (Oh no! I must have said) Yes

7 Brought to Book

8 Almost the Words

9 Go


Revitalised as a trio of Hugh Banton, Guy Evans & Peter Hammill since 2008’s Trisector, this is the latest (and maybe last) album from one of the most innovative, exciting and original bands from progs first wave.

This was released back in September and it has taken me a while to get round to writing this review, due to as previously mentioned life getting in the way, and of course I needed time to live with and digest this album.

With the added shadow of this potentially being their last album, the mood of regret, or closure and a sense of finality hang over the record, which for my money is one of the finest they have produced in this latter period of their mighty career.

Continue reading “Do Not Disturb – I am listening to Van Der Graaf Generator”

Best Live Release of 2016: Big Big Train’s STONE AND STEEL


Retro-re-review of Big Big Train, STONE AND STEEL (EERBR001; English Electric, 2016).

Way back on the first day of April, 2016, I posted this:


For the most part, the live studio versions performed on STONE AND STEEL are similar, but not identical to the original album versions.  It’s clear that the band encourages spontaneity in each musician.  Watching the band, I was happily surprised to see how many duties Manners and Poole (even Longdon plays keys briefly) share when it comes to the keyboards and just how much Gregory (my all-time favorite guitarist, along with Alex Lifeson) shares with Sjöblom.  Such sharing, of course, is nothing if not a sign of wisdom and charity, yet another example of why so many of us love this band.  Individual ego diminishes in proportion to the excellence manifested by the entire band.

Spawton, it must be noted, is clearly the sturdy pillar around which all revolves.  Though he’s off to the side and not in the limelight, his bass is strong, innovative, and warm.

My review was glowing, and there’s nothing in it I would change, even 9 months later.  When it comes to live releases in 2016, there have been a fair number of simply excellent ones.  Steve Hackett’s TOTAL EXPERIENCE, Aryeon’s THE THEATER EQUATION, Morse’s ALIVE AGAIN, and even BBT’s second live release of the year, A STONE’S THROW FROM THE LINE, each captured something unique about the musicians and the time period.

Continue reading “Best Live Release of 2016: Big Big Train’s STONE AND STEEL”

Best Prog of 2016, Part III

Ok, so I’m taking a bit to get through my best of 2016.  It was a GOOD year.  Certainly not when it came to violence or politics, but music.  It soothes my upset soul.  Thank you, fellow proggers.

stranger-things-cdOne quick note before I dive into part III.

I must mention an album (two parter) that brought immense joy to me this year: the soundtrack of STRANGER THINGS.  I’ve had the opportunity to sing the praises of this glorious 8-part nostalgia trip of a Netflix series elsewhere, and I’m terrible at trying to describe and review electronic music.  Regardless, this soundtrack captures the mystery of the series just perfectly.  I’ve seen the series three times, and I’ve listened to the two-CD soundtrack a million more.  Few things will define 2016 as much as this series did.

Ok, back to regular programming. . .

Continue reading “Best Prog of 2016, Part III”

What I Liked This Year

I wasn’t too adventurous in my listening this year – maybe because artists I’m already familiar with released so much good music that they kept me busy!

Here’s what I liked in 2016 in the world of prog:

Tales_from_Topographic_Oceans_(Yes_album)10. Yes: Tales From Topographic Oceans (Blu-ray ed.)

Technically not a 2016 release, but with Steven Wilson’s 5.1 mix, this is a new album to my ears. This has everything a Yes fan could ask for – versions of TFTO that include the original mix, a radio promo, a “needle-drop” vinyl transfer, an instrumental version, in addition to Wilson’s new mixes – literally hours of music. A sometimes maligned work gets its proper release, and it really shines.


The Mute Gods9. The Mute Gods: Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me

I love Nick Beggs’ blend of 70s – era FM rock with snappy songwriting. Turns out he’s much more than one of the best bassists ever.


Continue reading “What I Liked This Year”