The Best Prog of 2016, Part I

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The best album of 2016: Glass Hammer’s VALKYRIE

What a year.  I would guess that when historians look back to 2016, they will see it as a year of extreme violence and angry populism.  Sadly, both the violence and the politics revealed themselves from time to time in the prog world, but not detrimentally so.

Life, dignity, and art remain, however, no matter what the politicians scream.  And, praise the Lord we have good music to heal so many hurts of this broken world.

Glass Hammer, VALKYRIE.  Not just the best GH album, but one of the greatest rock albums ever made.  Susie has never sounded better, and GH has gone well beyond their comfort level to explore a full-blown novel in this terribly moving story.  This album strikes that perfect—and all too elusive—via media, balancing beauty and innovation.  VALKYRIE is, undoubtedly, my favorite album of the year.

In the next several spots, I have to wrestle with myself.  Frankly, any ranking after VALKYRIE, would change day by day and, perhaps, even hour by hour.  So, I offer the following loves.

Continue reading “The Best Prog of 2016, Part I”

Confidence Within a Sphere of Creativity: FIRE GARDEN

Fire Garden, FAR AND NEAR (2016).  Tracks: Far and Near; There’s Something; A New Day; Life of a Drifter; A Thousand Lost Souls; War and Peace; Faint Shadows; Whitelight; and Diary of a Blood Moon.

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Fire Garden’s second release, FAR AND NEAR.  A must own.
www.firegardenmusic.com

One of the single best things about being a hyperfan of progressive rock music is always dealing with the most interesting of people.  When it comes to prog—the musicians, the engineers, and the fans—we’re all basically a bunch of OCD perfectionists.  And, I think we understand each other in ways non proggers simply cannot (as in, not constitutionally equipped to do so).  In the nearly ten years I’ve been reviewing music online, I’ve met a number of absolutely fascinating people.  None less so than Chicago’s young master of all that is melodic metal prog, Zee Baig.

The moment I first found Zee’s music—as first sold through his ep, aptly titled THE PRELUDE—I knew I had to reach out to him.  I did, he was responsive, and we pretty quickly established a friendship through email.  We talked about war, tradition, music, kids, art.  You name it, and Zee and I talked about it.  Even though we’re only a three-hours drive from one another, we’ve never actually met in person.  Strange, but true.  And, here’s hoping, someday soon this will be rectified.

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Zee Baig
Until that glorious moment, I’m more than content listening to Zee’s astounding music.  It, in and of itself, has become a close friend.  The band’s first album, SOUNDS OF MAJESTIC COLORS, has remained in my constant listening rotation since it first appeared in 2014.  There’s no mistaking that the best of Dream Theater influenced and inspired much of the first album, but Fire Garden takes chances that Dream Theater never would.  This is especially true in lyrical content.  To be sure, Fire Garden is no clone of DT.

FAR AND NEAR, Fire Garden’s second full-length album, has just appeared on the market, and it’s a stunner, as strong and as good as anything else that has come out this year.  This is no small praise when one considers how many greats have come out: from Frost* to Glass Hammer to Big Big Train.  FAR AND NEAR stands with those at the very top.

Continue reading “Confidence Within a Sphere of Creativity: FIRE GARDEN”

Progarchy Radio, October 2016 Edition

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Autumnal prog bliss, 2016

Welcome to another edition of Progarchy Radio, Autumnal Inspirations!  Featuring music from Stranger Things, Glass Hammer, Fire Garden, Marillion, Kevin McCormick, Cosmograf, King Bathmat, Frost*, Oceansize, and The Fierce and the Dead.

Over two hours of pure Autumnal prog love.

Some Random Prog Thoughts

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Press play.  Repeat.  Thank you, Glass Hammer.

My apologies for being so quiet for a bit now.  After the great visit by the Reverend John Simms and his beautiful bride, Jude, I’ve been working on tons of things not directly related to music or to progarchy.  Mostly classes and lecturing, but quite a bit of traveling as well.

Yet, at the back of everything, prog keeps reminding me what matters most in the world–hearth, home, kids, my students, beauty, truth, and goodness.

I’ve been rather obsessed with a few albums through the first third of this academic semester: Glass Hammer’s VALKYRIE; Marillion’s FEAR; and SAND’s SLEEPER.  If you’ve not gotten these yet, please do so.  They have  been in constant rotation.

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Fire Garden’s second album now available!

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FAR AND NEAR, now available.

For those of us who love everything Zee Baig and Fire Garden, REJOICE!  Album no. 2, FAR AND NEAR, is now available for those of us wise enough to have pledged our undying love, support, and devotion to this amazing band through PLEDGEMUSIC.  Reviews and others cool things to follow. . . .

9 songs, 55 minutes, featuring the work and talents of Zee Baig, Jordan Rudess, Jimmy Keegan, and Bruce Soord.  I get the feeling everyONE wants to hang out with Zee.

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