Some Neglected Music of 2017, Part I

By neglected, I don’t mean by the world.  I mean, by me.

In a few other posts, I have had the privilege of listing my top albums, in the order I loved them.  My 2017 list goes, from no. 10 to no. 1: Anathema, The Optimist; Bjorn Riis, Forever Comes to an End; My Tricksy Spirit; Ayreon, The Source; The Tangent, The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery; Cosmograf, Hay-Man Dreams; Glass Hammer, Untold Tales; Newspaperflyhunting, Wastelands; Dave Kerzner, Static; and Big Big Train, everything released in 2017!

There are, however, a number of great releases from the year that I simply did not have time to grasp fully or immerse myself in the way I think necessary to review properly.  None of this, however, should suggest–to my mind, at least–even a kind of lesser quality or second-hand citizenship in the world of Prog, or in the republican anarchy that is progarchy.

For what it’s worth, I thought each of the following extraordinary as well, and, I hope, when Kronos allows, time to embrace each in the way it deserves.

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lifesigns cardingtonLifesigns, Cardington.  I think John Young is a treasure of a musician and composer, and I’m honored to travel this world at the same time as he.  Intelligence radiates from everything the man does, and, even better, it’s an intelligence utterly in the service of good things.  The first Lifesigns was a shock of joy to me.  This one as well, though I’ve just not had the time to dive into it.

When I listen to Lifesigns, I actually think of Young and the band as the anti-Radiohead guys.  Imagine the darkness of Radiohead and then do exactly the opposite, in terms of melody and lyrics.  And, you might arrive at Lifesigns. My favorite track on this new release is nine-plus minute “Different.”

Continue reading “Some Neglected Music of 2017, Part I”

My Best of 2017???

Let me just state from the outset that I love that Chris had the gumption to post his favorites albums of the year already.  We’re not even in December, Chris!  Love it.

So, just as an experiment, I checked my player’s settings and calculated the albums I listened to the most.  While I can’t claim this to be a fair statement of what I think the best of the year was–after all, some albums, such as Glass Hammer’s UNTOLD TALES.  It’s only had a month to compete against some albums that have had 11 months.  Still, it’s a marker.

Additionally, because my player calculates the number of plays for the year total, it registers all albums in my collections, not just those that came out in 2017.  So, by the number, folks, by the numbers—the ten most played albums in the Birzer house for the last 11 months.

No. 10 most played of 2017:

Glass Hammer Untold

 

Continue reading “My Best of 2017???”

Mew in North America!

Holy Schnikees!  Wouldn’t have imagined this would happen.  Wonderful.

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DANISH ART/ROCK BAND MEW
ANNOUNCES “VISUALS” NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

L-R:  Jonas Bjerre, Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen, Johan Wohlert

Photo credit:  Sasha Ryabina
LOS ANGELES, CA – (Friday, April 28, 2017) — To support and celebrate today’s release of Visuals, the band’s seventh album (Play It Again Sam), Denmark’s biggest export, the indie-art-rockers MEW, announces an 18-date North American major-market tour that kicks off August 3 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, and wraps in Los Angeles on August 26 at the El Rey Theatre.  Confirmed dates are below; tickets go on sale next Friday, May 5 at 10AM local time.  For all ticketing information, log onto www.mewsite.com
Additionally last week, Mew’s new single, “Twist Quest,” “a fascinating beast of a track,” according to
Stereogum, catapulted to the #2 position on FMQB’s SubModern Report chart with spins at Alternative and Triple A major and secondary market radio stations across the country.  Check the track’s lyric video out here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHIEEvJMZBI&t=1s
Said vocalist Jonas Bjerre, “One of the big questions on the minds of everyone in the band since we were close to finishing the new record has been, ‘When are we going to tour North America again?’ The last time was one of the greatest touring experiences we’ve had so far, and we’re longing to come back.  Well, we are confirmed for August 2017, we are super thrilled with these new Summer plans, and are currently working on making this tour really special, to live up to the title of the album!”
Indeed, Bjerre, who creates the visuals for all of the band’s art work and merchandise and has directed several Mew videos, has conceived and designed the stage production for the North American dates. Based around the concept of “visuals,” projections and videos, produced expressly for this tour, along with special lighting and other effects, will set the stage for Mew’s captivating and majestic music.  Fans can expect the band’s set list to draw from all points of their career, including selections from the new release.
For these dates, Mew’s line up – vocalist Bjerre, bassist Johan Wohlert and drummer Silas Utke Graae Jorgensen, will be joined by guitarist Mads Wegner and keyboardist Nick Watts.
Confirmed dates for Mew’s “Visuals” North American tour are as follows:
AUGUST
 3    Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
 4    Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
 5    9:30 Club, Washington, D.C.
 7    The Foundry at The Fillmore, Philadelphia, PA
 8    The Sinclair, Boston, MA
10   Mod Club, Toronto, ON
11   Magic Stick, Detroit, MI
12   Park West, Chicago, IL
13   Turf Club, St. Paul, MN
15   Bluebird Theatre, Denver, CO
16   The State Room, Salt Lake City, UT
18   Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC
19   Neumos, Seattle, WA
20   Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
22   The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
24   The Observatory North Park, San Diego, CA
25   The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
26   El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Continue reading “Mew in North America!”

Up and Over: Mew’s AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES

MEW Kites
Such a hideous cover for such a perfect album.  What were these guys thinking with this cover?  It ranks up there with LOVE BEACH.

Many years ago now, I bought my first Mew album, FRENGERS, because of the recommendation of Big Big Train’s Greg Spawton.  Greg has impeccable music tastes (and book recommendations as well), so I was more than happy to learn of the Danish band.

I can state with no exaggeration that FRENGERS pretty much blew me away.

To a lesser extent, the same true of NO MORE STORIES.

Only very recently did I purchase AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES.  For whatever reason, it’s difficult to obtain in North America.  I had to order a used copy.

Whatever I thought of Mew’s other albums, this one is perfection itself.  It’s not only magnitudes better than their other albums (which are already excellent), but AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES is up there with PET SOUNDS, SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, and SKYLARKING.

In other words, we’re now in the realm of prog-pop godhood.  Holy schnikees.  If you don’t have AND THE GLASS HANDED KITES, get it now.  Granted, the album art is simply terrible, but don’t judge an album by its cover!!!

A proper review is forthcoming.

Progarchy Radio Episode 2

Getting far more comfortable with this, though I still have a relatively steep learning curve.  A huge thanks to my somewhat co-host, Veronica Rose Birzer (age 4).

Playlist: Neal Morse Band, Lifesigns, Love Spit Love, Mew

Galahad [transition between these two songs could’ve been smoother!], Frost*, Matt Stevens

Steve Hackett (x2), Kevin McCormick

Enjoy!

 

prog7