Bryan’s Best of 2016

2016 has been a pretty horrible year: terrorism, deaths of way too many musical heroes, the recent loss of Prog magazine and the total screwing of all Team Rock employees, personal inability to find a job… Yeah, this year has sucked.

Thankfully, despite these trials, progressive rock has continued to be the most creative and innovative genre in the music business. I always enjoy writing a “best of” list, mainly because it gives me a chance to look over the best music of the year. We prog fans really are spoiled.

Like last year, my 2016 list will be pretty big, and the order is completely arbitrary. I have a numbered top 4, but my top 3 picks for this year are essentially tied for first place. Without further ado, my favorite albums of 2016:

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2016”

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”

VIDEO: “Heartstrings” by Frost*

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a decade (!) since the release of “Milliontown” by Frost*.  It was an album that seemingly came out of nowhere and didn’t sound quite like anything in the genre – a dense, dynamic, keyboard-heavy, and at times industrial-sounding album full of killer playing and plenty of memorable melodies.

The brainchild of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jem Godfrey, “Milliontown” remains one of my all-time favorite albums. I’m not sure a week has gone by in those 10 years without my giving at least one or more tracks from it a listen. Since then, the band released a follow-up album, “Experiments In Mass Appeal,” played quite a few gigs, went through some lineup changes over the years in the rhythm section department, released a couple live albums and bonus tracks, and has been an on-again, off-again unit since “Experiments.”

Well, the band is very much on again as Godfrey, John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena, Kino), bassist Nathan King (Level 42) and drummer Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson of late) have recorded “Falling Satellites,” their third full-length album and first in nearly eight years.

Never a group to do the obvious thing – a look at their many “Frost* Reports” and live videos kicking around YouTube will more than prove that point – the Frosties gathered at Rockfield Studios several years back to record some of their tunes live off the floor.  One of those tracks,”Heartstrings,” is well known in the Frostiverse, but will see its studio debut on “Falling Satellites,” which will be released May 27th.

(By the way, it’s not like you need me to connect any prog dots for you, but if Rockfield Studios sounds somewhat familiar, it could be because Rush recorded “A Farewell To Kings” and “Hemispheres”at the Wales-based studio)

Taken from “The Rockfield Files” DVD, Godfrey excerpted and posted this beautifully-shot and edited video for “Heartstrings” earlier this week. Enjoy!