Memorial Day Weekend Prog and Prog Metal Round-Up

There is a lot of great prog and prog metal currently in the pipeline – either that has already been released or that will be in the coming months. Plenty of new singles and whole albums out.

Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant

Australian prog metal band Caligula’s Horse released their brand new record, Rise Radiant, today. For some reason their music never really connected with me before, but this album has. It is insanely good. It has the technicality mixed with the quirkiness that this generation of prog metal has become known for. Outstanding vocals as well. I’ve got some homework to do on their back catalog. If all goes well, they’ll be coming to North America next January-February for the very first time. https://caligulashorse.com

Haken – Virus

I’ve been able to listen to an advance copy of Haken’s new album for a few weeks now, and it is quite good. It has been a slow burn for me, but that could have something to do with absorbing it in the background while I work from home. It has the heaviness and the technicality we are used to, and melodies abound. There’s a gentleness in Ross Jennings’ voice that strikes me as something new, but I could be wrong. There are also musical nods to their last album as well as “The Cockroach King.” The title is bound to upset some people, but it’s not like Haken could have possibly known what was going to befall the world when they wrote and finalized the album. The release date has been pushed back a few weeks to June 19. I expect this is due to production issues with supply chains in the western world having been shut down for over two months. The band released another single today. https://hakenmusic.com

Nick D’Virgilio – Invisible

Big Big Train drummer Nick D’Virgilio has a new solo album coming out. Based on the single, it has a bit of a Big Big Train vibe in the song structure and general progression, but there’s also a Broadway theatricalness to it. The latter, according to D’Virgilio, comes from his time working with Cirque de Soleil. The album title comes from being an invisible member in the orchestra pit. Nick obviously plays the drums on this album, but he also sings. Anyone who knows his work from Spock’s Beard knows what a great voice he has. Jonas Reingold plays bass, Randy McStine plays guitars, and Jordan Rudess plays piano and sythns. Brass and string sections are courtesy of the Abbey Road Studios orchestra. Yeah this is some next level stuff. I’m looking forward to hearing the whole thing. Out June 26. https://www.nickdvirgilio.com

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Prog More, Spend Less: Radiant Records 3-Day Sale

radiant recordsRadiant Records–the company founded and owned by Neal Morse–is having a three-day sale, with the wonderful tagline, “Prog more, spend less.”

The sales are on cds/DVDs/ and/or blu-rays of MORSEFEST2015, SNOW LIVE, SIMILITUDE OF A DREAM, ALIVE AGAIN, KaLIVEoscope, TESTIMONY 2, MOMENTUM, GOD WON’T GIVE UP, and SO MANY ROADS.

Frankly, all specular releases.

To go to the sale (which ends this Friday), go here: http://www.radiantrecords.com/category/191735-bargain-bin.aspx

Streaming Music (Editorial)

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Prog art at its finest–Jim Trainer’s Winchester Diver for Big Big Train.

A great DJ is just a step below a great producer and sound engineer.

From time to time, I’ve considered joining a streaming service permanently.  I’ve toyed around with Spotify, Pandora, and iTUNES.

I just can’t understand the attraction.

There was a time in my life, I really loved radio.  From the years between late grade school and the end of high school (class of 1986), I listened faithfully to Wichita’s KICT-95.  The station introduced me–rather gloriously–to album rock radio, back when radio actually played entire sides of albums.  I got to know the DJs, the music, and their various programs.  I knew when to expect a full album side, and when to expect the latest news in the rock world.  I knew when T-95 broadcast concerts, and I knew when the radio station sponsored bands to play live in Wichita.  It was a golden age of rock.  I was always far more taken with prog than I was with acid or hard rock, but T-95 presented all as a rather cohesive whole, thanks to the quality of the DJs.

But, streaming?  I just don’t get it.  It’s bland.  It’s tapioca.  There’s no personality, no matter how great the music is.

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Neal Morse Considers Streaming Service

radiant records

Now, first of all, I’m not against streaming. I think it’s wonderful! I love to sit in my recliner and choose whatever songs or whatever albums I want to listen to from my chair and be able to adjust the volume without having to get up. I’ve recently gotten into vinyl again, but, man, every 20 minutes you have to actually get up and WALK ACROSS THE ROOM to change the record! Unthinkable! This is much too difficult. So, I love streaming as well as anyone. It’s tremendously convenient and sounds good as well.
   Of course, streaming is great for the listener but doesn’t compensate the artists much, if at all.
   Just for an example, here’s a screen shot of a recent royalty statement I received.
Notice the $0.0004. I can’t even figure out how to SAY how small of an amount that is. Is that one fourth of one thousandth of a penny? Who decides these things? Crazy. Anyway…As an artist who is not Metallica or Taylor Swift this doesn’t really make any sense…or to quote a song, it makes…”zero sense”. Or “zero cents,” haha.
   So, like everyone in the entertainment business, I have been wondering, what do we do now? How do we survive? How can we pay the tremendous costs of making quality albums and live? Mega-skilled artists such as Steve Hackett and Rich Mouser don’t come cheap. And they shouldn’t.
  Answer: create my own streaming service. My objective is simple: to provide a great streaming experience that is complete, super high quality and easy to use on multiple formats. Not to compete with the big streaming services, but to give fans of my music a similar experience, anywhere in the world.
My current plan is to build my own thing, then use Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon etc. as a kind of advertising tool and put a smattering of material there so people can become aware and hopefully sign up for the streaming service. Or get the actual albums. Whatever they prefer.
    What we want to give people is the supreme experience of being able to listen to any of the music from my catalog, including classic Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic and the Neal Morse Band, anytime from anywhere and not have to get out of their recliner. This is the great goal of modern life!
I NEED YOUR HELP:
I’m taking a poll! Please let me know if you would be interested in subscribing to the proposed music app at a cost of, let’s say, $5.99 a month. (Of course, there will be a special discount for Inner Circle members. No obligation of course!)

SNOW by Spock’s Beard: Two Stories

Snow LIVE
From Radiant Records.

As I am sure is true for all of us, albums I love and cherish and listen to, repeatedly, carry with them fond personal memories.  For better or worse, almost every single Neal Morse album and Spock’s Beard album comes with a story, and usually more than one.  As I’ve mentioned on progarchy before, I’ll never forget the release of the first Spock’s Beard album, THE LIGHT.  Being a prog fan since as far back as I can remember, I had no idea about the arrival of neo-Prog in England, and I had to content myself in the early 1990s with jam bands such as Phish and jam pop bands such as the Dave Matthews Band to satisfy my not so easily satisfied prog desires.  I had purchased so many CDs and had had so many discussions with the manager of Tracks in Bloomington, Indiana, that she remained on the lookout for me.  Anything that even remotely smacked of prog, she let me know.  She rather gleefully handed me a copy of THE LIGHT when it first came out.  To say I was thrilled would be an understatement.  I was just plain elated, inserting that cd in the tray, putting on my Sennheizers, and falling into prog bliss, attempting to follow all the nuances of the album and to figure out all of the lyrics.  I mean really, who is the catfish man?

And, why did this guy with such a great voice have to cuss so much?

Continue reading “SNOW by Spock’s Beard: Two Stories”

Spock’s Beard SNOW LIVE Deluxe Edition

Snow LIVEAfter what seemed like an eternity (yes, even at age 50, patience is not one of my virtues), my copy of the deluxe edition of SNOW LIVE by Spock’s Beard arrived this afternoon.  And, the wait was more than worth it.  This thing is just loaded to the max with goodness and beauty.  Lots of truth as well.  2 CDs, 2 DVDs, and 2 Blu-ray disks.  Additionally, the set comes with a certificate of authenticity.  My authentic number is 1,887 out of 2,000, in case you were wondering.  And, you were wondering, right?  There are also a number of elongated postcards of the band members and a poster.

The best part of it all, though, is the book.  The size of a traditional album, the SNOW LIVE book is a thing of glory at 50 pages.  Full of liner notes and photos, I found myself quite taken with what Radiant Records has produced.  I’ve only begun to explore this all, but I’m thrilled to have it.  This is some of the best packaging I’ve seen, and I hope other bands take notice.

I really like, for example, the Rush boxset of 2112, but I think I like this open book format the best.  As sturdy as the Rush 2112 box is, I’m always a bit afraid it will get crushed.  Not so with the SNOW LIVE deluxe packaging.  It just feels solid.  As solid as it is beautiful.

Thank you, Radiant!  And, thank you, Amy Pippin at Radiant Records for doing the hard work of processing all of the orders and getting these shipped out.

SNOW Live–Spock’s Beard

Snow Live

Though Neal Morse’s Radiant Records has become much less friendly (at least to reviewers) over the last year or so, I’m still rather excited about this release.

SNOW has been a masterpiece of prog since it first came out 15 years ago.  I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing the deluxe package of Marillion’s last album, so I’m not going to make that mistake for this one.

And, I’ll not so quietly wish that Neal Morse and Radiant become more responsive to their fans in the not so distant future.

To order, go here: http://www.radiantrecords.com/products/692-snow-live.aspx

Neal Morse Inner Circle Goes TOTALLY Digital. NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

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Not cool.

Over the last several weeks, Neal Morse has announced that his venerable INNER CIRCLE club is going exclusively digital.

To state that this infuriates me would be going way too far.  To state that I’m unhappy, however, would not be an exaggeration.

Not only have I been a proud INNER CIRCLE member for years, but I’ve also got my own Neal Morse display in my office–in all of its tangible (yes, TANGIBLE) and technicolor glory.

Do I want downloads?  No.  I don’t want downloads from Neal Morse or from Glass Hammer or from The Tangent or from Riverside or from NAO or from Big Big Train.

As far as I’m concerned, sadly, Neal Morse’s INNER CIRCLE is done.  Whatever it was (and, it was brilliant), it’s over.

I’m so tired of the world moving toward nothing but digital.  We (or, at least I) love prog because everything is so well done–the lyrics, the music, the playing, and the art.  I want an album or a CD or a DVD or a blu-ray.  A down load is just not cheap, but, frankly, tacky.

Mr. Morse, please, please, please reconsider this.

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Very cool.

 

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My Neal Morse Shrine.  Very, very cool.

 

Radiant Records Announces Live Morsefest 2015 Set

Radiant Records has announced a live release of Morsefest 2015, featuring two concerts covering Sola Scriptura, ?, and selections from the catalogs of Transatlantic and Spock’s Beard. One of the concerts even finds Mike Portnoy and Nick D’Virgilio on the same stage together.

You can pre-order the set now over at Radiant’s website. My only beef with the variety of sets on offer (besides the high price) is the fact that they aren’t offering a 2 Blu-Ray/4CD set. All they have is the 2DVD/4CD set or the 2 Blu-Ray set. Why they aren’t offering a DVD/Blu-Ray/CD set (much like the excellent Transatlantic KaLiveoscope box set from a couple years ago) is anyone’s guess.

Check out the trailer: