“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
(2014)

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
(1990)

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

Nick’s Best of 2013 (Part 3)

Following on from Part 1 and Part 2, here is the third and final part of my ‘Best of 2013’ list: positions 5 to 1 in my Top Ten.

(By the way, if you are wondering at the absence of Big Big Train’s magnificent English Electric: Full Power, remember that I am excluding rereleases of older material; without that restriction, it would most certainly be up near the top of my list!)

 

5. Maschine – Rubidium

The debut release from the formerly-dubbed Concrete Lake, featuring two alumni of The Tangent: guitarist Luke Machin and bassist Dan Mash. Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride through a dizzying array of different musical styles as this album jumps effortlessly from prog metal shredding to jazz to salsa (yes, really!) and back again. It’s bonkers, but I love it to bits.

 

4. Riverside – Shrine Of New Generation Slaves

A minor change in direction for Poland’s premier prog rockers finds them flirting with more straightforward hard rock, blues and even jazz influences in places, to great effect. The resulting album is more cohesive conceptually than any of their previous work and touches on similar issues to those explored by The Tangent’s latest opus. Disc 2 of the special edition features over 22 minutes of instrumental music quite different in tone from the main album but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

 

3. Sanguine Hum – Weight Of The World

An accomplished follow-up to 2010’s Diving Bell from Joff Winks, Matt Baber & Co. Sanguine Hum’s sound calls to mind Turin Brakes, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, the layered electronica of North Atlantic Oscillation and even Porcupine Tree in their more reflective moments. It’s captivating, however you describe it, and the songs on this album are beautifully constructed. Apparently, the band have two album’s worth of new material already written, which bodes well for the future.

 

2. The Tangent – Le Sacre Du Travail

The best release yet from the ‘Steely Dan of prog’, offering a more coherent vision than their earlier high points Not As Good As The Book and A Place In The Queue. With music loosely inspired by Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring and a thought-provoking, opinion-polarising message regarding the mundanity of the daily grind and our role as wage slaves, this is a progressive tour de force as far as I’m concerned.

 

1. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing

Quite simply, Steven Wilson’s finest work to date. Opting for a live recording approach over meticulous overdubs has paid off handsomely and the music frequently builds to a thrilling intensity as this masterful band of players feed off each others’ energy. It is difficult to pick out highlights from something so consistently brilliant, but Guthrie Govan’s guitar solo in Drive Home really does take the breath away, leaving us wondering how in the name of prog Wilson is going to better this.