IZZ, Christmas, and Charity

music-philippines

One of my favorite bands, IZZ, just announced two new songs–Christmas songs–with the profits going for charity to help the Philippines.  Truly worthy of our support.

IZZ is pleased to offer original arrangements of two traditional Christmas carols, featuring the inspiring vocals of Anmarie Byrnes on “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and Laura Meade on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  In the spirit of the Season of Giving, all proceeds will be donated to assist in the relief efforts for the Philippine victims of Super Typhoon, Haiyan. All proceeds will be donated directly to Save the Children. Save The Children is targeting relief efforts at families and children directly affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  Thank you for your generous support for the Philippine people in the wake of this devastating storm.

To order, click here.

Existentialist Prog–John Galgano

John_Galgano_Real_LifeA review of John Galgano, “Real Life is Meeting,” (Doone Records, 2012).

You may not like what I say.

You may not like the way my eyes stay straight.

But I tell the truth.

–John Galgano, “Real Life is Meeting, Pt. 1”

Appearing amidst a whirligig of CDs in that prog annus mirabalis, 2012, John Galgano’s first solo album barely got noticed.  And, this is to the great loss of all of us who love beautiful things.  For Galgano’s art is of the highest quality, and this CD would be regarded by any sane person as a must-own, prog masterpiece.

From the beginning note to the last word, the CD breathes integrity and a real wholesomeness.  It is, clearly, a labor of love.  The lyrics, the performances, the packaging.  Everything.

Each instrument performs spectacularly.  None, though, stand out in terms of quality more than the bass.  Indeed, the bass work is nothing less than extraordinary.  If there is a failing to this album (and this would be the only one), however, it is that the bass is way too low/quiet in the mix.  When I listen to the album, I have to strain to hear the bass–but it’s worth it, as the bass soars in both subtlety and craftsmanship.

But, the highest of the high–that which holds the entire album together–is the combination of the voices of Galgano and Laura Meade.  Alone, each is stunning.  Galgano has a distinctive voice, and it’s as clear on this solo CD as it is on IZZ albums.  He possesses a warm, charismatic, and inviting voice.  In part, this is just a gift of nature, but it’s also a result of his integrity.  That is, it’s rather clear to any listener that Galgano believes in what he’s singing.  But, Galgano is at his best when signing with, around, and next to Meade.  Together, they sound like a chorus of the heavenly muses.  If these voices are the ones I hear seconds after death, I’ll be confident I’m heading to the right place for eternity.

There are nine tracks, ranging from a minute and a half (bizarrely called “Galgano Bonus Track) to the full-blown epic, “1000.”  Common themes–relationships, suffering, depression, redemption–predominate.  When Galgano and Meade sing of love, it’s difficult to know if that love is transcendent of earthly.  Regardless, it’s good.  To be sure, it’s very good.

 

Nothing Added to nothing

Gives us lots of Nothing

The only thing

The only thing

The only thing

Is Love.

–John Galgano and Laura Meade, “The Only Thing”

Most readers of Progarchy know Galgano as one of the essential parts (and persons–let’s not be too uncouth here!) of the astounding American prog band, IZZ.  In recent advertisements and billings, John Galgano solo is presented as “IZZ Lite.”  From my listening of/to his excellent solo album, I can’t quite agree with the advertising, but I understand the meaning.  Perhaps it might be better to state: Galgano solo is IZZ while the whole band is IZZ completed.  Regardless, whether one might call this IZZ or IZZ Lite or IZZ completed, this solo album is an amazing and beautiful piece of art, radiating conviction in every one of its aspects.

Even Galgano’s CD package itself is a thing of beauty.  The colors and fonts are tasteful, the image of the front cover, entitled “Cathedral” is quite stunning in a late-1950s Dave Brubeck-artful kind of way.  [The title, the inside information reveals, comes from a line in Jewish humanist and existentialist Martin Buber’s, “I and Thou.”]  Even the lettering of the lyrics is quite nice.  While I love packaging in general, I rarely find anything beyond the actual artwork worth commenting on.  Here, though, it’s worth praising.  Overall, the packaging, the fonts–everything–is just, well, like the music itself, tasteful.  The one thing I don’t get are the three dates subtly in the background: 1945, 1974, 1923.  I’m sure these have some kind of meaning, but no explanation is offered.

It would be a crime to all art, all rock, and all prog should this release continue to be barely noticed by the music community.  Sadly, I did not know about it until last December when I was playing around a bit at the IZZ website.  As soon as I saw it (and the title captivated me, as it has great significance for many of my personal heroes, including T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis, and Christopher Dawson), I ordered it.  Had I known about it earlier than the last month of the year, I would certainly have included it in my top CD picks of 2012.

I’ve been meaning to write this review for nearly five months now.  Finally, here it is.

Order “Real Life is Meeting,” and cherish it.  It’s a rare and precious thing, and it deserves every ounce of support we can offer.

galgano love

Real life is meeting

I have known this house

There is copper in the soil

–John Galgano, “Real Life is Meeting, Pt. II”

3RDegree and John Galgano Show

concert 3d degree galganoThis was just posted on Facebook, and I’m now thinking it might be worth a car trip to Connecticut!

3RDegree is pleased to announce John Galgano (and Izz Lite) will be opening up the show on May 13th at Marisa’s Ristorante in Trumbull, CT as part of the PROG ON THE SOUND concert series. John is a driving force behind Izz who have been a fantastic generator of great prog rock albums since the late 90’s and John’s solo album REAL LIFE IS MEETING is a highlight of 2012. Sharing the stage with him has been something 3RDegree has wanted to do for a while.

From my perspective, each made one of the best albums of 2012.  Sadly, neither has received enough attention.  May this be rectified in 2013!

Some 2012 Thoughts

Tardis-in-Space-tardis-6289809-1600-1131Looking at some of the other ‘Best of 2012’ posts here, you have to wonder how some of the other Progarchists do it.  That is, how do they find the time to listen to and fully absorb that much music (and particularly prog)?  Not to be snobby or anything, but listening to prog is not a passive thing, it takes an active effort by the listener to fully “get it”.  And yet when I read through these posts, I can conclude that my fellow Progarchists are A) listening to a lot of prog, and B) “getting it.”  With the other obligations they have in their lives – families, careers, other hobbies, other blogs – it would seem like it would take a superhuman effort to fully absorb all of that music. And yet clearly they do just that.

Alas, I think I’ve figured out their secret – most, if not all of the other Prograrchists are in possession of an ERTEM – short for “Einsteinian Relativistic Time Expansion Machine.”  In short, the ERTEM is a machine about the size of a booth or a very small room.  A person may enter his ERTEM, shut the door, and emerge in what appears to be only a few minutes to an outside observer.  But aaaah, inside the ERTEM, time expands, and the occupant therein can spend several hours of “inside time.”  Thus, the Progarchist may receive a new CD or a new album in digital format, step inside his ERTEM, and indulge in hours of listening pleasure, until they fully “grok” (apologies to Robert Heinlein) their most recent prog purchase.  They may even be smuggling their laptops in their to write some of their long, detailed, and typically excellent reviews – the type that usually send me lurching toward my computer to make yet another purchase.  Continue reading “Some 2012 Thoughts”

Excellent Jerry Lucky interview with John Galgano of the fabulous IZZ

index-banner
I’ve been slowly (way too slowly) getting up a review of IZZ’s latest album, CRUSH OF NIGHT.  From my perspective, it’s one of the best albums of this past year.

As I’ve been listening and prepping, I came across this excellent interview.

Jerry Lucky: Let’s start at the beginning. What’s the short-story as to how Izz came into being?

John Galgano: IZZ started when Tom was in College with Greg DiMiceli and through Greg met Brian Coralian and Paul Bremner. Being Tom’s brother, I was sort of already involved and working with the guys. We had originally gotten together to work on a piece called Deafening Silence that ended up being on the album My River Flows. Tom had written that piece of music and we all played on it for a few live shows. After that, we began writing material as a group and used that material for what became Sliver of a Sun.

JL: Who came up with the name? And what’s it all about?

JG: I’m a big fan of the New York Mets and at the time we started thinking about band names in the mid-90s, they had these three young pitchers who were supposed to be the next great pitchers for the Mets. One of the guys was Jason Isringhausen who was nicknamed “IZZY”. I loved this nickname and mentioned it to Tom and as we talked it over, we decided to drop the “Y” and just make it IZZ. It seemed to work well and we liked the way it sounded

To keep reading, please go here: http://www.jerrylucky.com/interviews_054.htm

The Best 15 Albums of 2012, The Greatest Year in Prog. Ever.

IMG_3725by Brad Birzer, Progarchy editor

One of my greatest pleasures of 2012–and there have been many–has been listening to massive quantities of progressive rock, mostly for pleasure.

Being a literary and humanities guy, I’d contemplated rejecting the entire numerical ranking scheme.  Rather, I thought about labeling each of my best albums with various qualities of myth.  These albums achieved the level of Virgil; these of Dante; these of Tolkien, etc.  But, I finally decided this was way too pretentious . . . even for me.

Below are my rankings for the year.  Anyone who knows me will not be surprised by any of these choices.  I’m not exactly subtle in what I like and dislike.  Before listing them, though, I must state three things.

First, I loved all of these albums, or I wouldn’t be listing them here.  That is, once you’ve made it to Valhalla or Olympus, why bother with too many distinctions.  The differences between my appreciation of number 8 and number 2, for example, are marginal at best.

Second, I am intentionally leaving a couple of releases out of the rankings: releases from Echolyn, The Enid, Minstrel’s Ghost, Galahad, and Kompendium, in particular, as I simply did not have time to digest them.  Though, from what I’ve heard, I like each very much.

Third, I think that 2012 has proven to be the single greatest year in prog history.  DPRP’s Brian Watson has argued that we’re in the “third wave of prog.”  He might very well be right.  But, I don’t think we’ve ever surpassed the sheer quality of albums released this year.  This is not to belittle anything that has come before.  Quite the contrary.  I am, after all, a historian by profession and training.  The past is always prologue.  Close to the Edge, Selling England by the Pound, and  Spirit of Eden will always be the great markers of the past.

Ok, be quiet, Brad.  On with the rankings.

Continue reading “The Best 15 Albums of 2012, The Greatest Year in Prog. Ever.”