Proggily Down the Stream . . .

A sign of Spring’s awakening? Two rather special sounding streamed concerts are coming our way:

The Pineapple Thief have decamped to a top sound stage studio and recorded, in drummer Gavin Harrison’s words, “the show that we were meant to do in Covid times (but had to cancel).” Nothing But The Truth will be available on demand from 6 pm this Thursday, April 22 to 6 pm on Monday, April 26. Since I was boneheaded enough to miss the Thief’s late 2019 tour of the States, I’m eagerly anticipating this one! Tickets are dirt cheap (under $25 US), with a variety of merch (including crew support t-shirts) also available. Details and ordering at TPT’s website.

Next month, Nick D’Virgilio mounts a livestream performance of his solo album Invisible (one of my faves of 2020) from his homebase of Fort Wayne’s Sweetwater Studios on Friday, May 14 at 4 pm. Virtual packages with prices ranging from $15 to $65 are available at Mandolin.

And looking ahead to the fall, Neal Morse’s annual Morsefest has already sold out its limited live seats — but virtual options for the two night festival on Friday-Saturday, October 8-9 (featuring the upcoming fourth album from the Neal Morse Band) are still available at Radiant Records.

— Rick Krueger

The Big Prog (Plus) Preview for Fall 2020!

As always seems to be the case, there’s tons of great music coming out between now and Black Friday, November 27. Below, the merest sampling of upcoming releases in prog and other genres below, with purchase links to Progarchy’s favorite online store Burning Shed unless otherwise noted.

Out now:

Simon Collins, Becoming Human: after 3 solo albums and Sound of Contact’s acclaimed Dimensionaut, Phil Collins’ oldest son returns on vocals. keys and drums; his new effort encompasses rock, pop, prog, electronica and industrial genres. Plus an existential inquiry into the meaning of life! Available on CD from Frontiers Records.

John Petrucci, Terminal Velocity: the Dream Theater guitarist reunites with Mike Portnoy on drums for his second solo set of instrumentals. Plus Dave LaRue of the Dixie Dregs and Flying Colors on bass. Expect lotsa notes! Available on CD or 2 LP from Sound Mind Records/The Orchard.

The Pineapple Thief, Versions of the Truth: Hot on the heels of their first US tour, Bruce Soord and Gavin Harrison helm TPT’s latest collection of brooding, stylized alt/art rock, honing in on the post-truth society’s impact on people and relationships. Available on CD, BluRay (with bonus track plus alternate, hi-res and surround mixes), LP or boxset (2 CDs/DVD/BluRay) – plus there’s a t-shirt!

Rikard Sjöblom’s Gungfly, Alone Together: Sjöblom spearheads a thoroughly groovy collection on vocals, guitar and organ, with Petter and Rasmus Diamant jumping in on drums and bass. Heartfelt portraits of daily life and love that yield extended, organic instrumental jams and exude optimism in the midst of ongoing isolation. Available on CD and LP (black or deep blood red vinyl).

[Upcoming releases follow the jump …]

Continue reading “The Big Prog (Plus) Preview for Fall 2020!”

2019 Prog (Plus) Preview 2!

More new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe & super-deluxe) and even books about music heading our way between now and Christmas?  Yep.  Following up on my previous post, it’s another exhaustive sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below.  Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the creators.

Out now:

Andrew Keeling, Musical Guide to In the Court of the Crimson King, 10/50 Edition: composer/musicologist/online diarist Keeling’s revision of his 2009 book (the first of a series acclaimed by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp).

Marillion with Friends from the Orchestra: 9 Marillion classics re-recorded by the full band, the string quartet In Praise of Folly, flautist Emma Halnan and French horn player Sam Morris.  Available on CD.

A Prog Rock Christmas: Billy Sherwood produces 11 holiday-themed tracks from the typical all-star cast (members of Yes, Utopia, Flying Colors, Renaissance, District 97, Curved Air and more).  Download and CD available now; LP available November 1.

 

October 25:

King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (50th Anniversary Edition): featuring brand new stereo and surround mixes in 24/96 resolution by Steven Wilson.  Available in 3 CD + BluRay or  2 LP versions.  (Note that the new mixes will also be included in the Complete 1969  CD/DVD/BluRay box set, which has been delayed until 2020.)

Van Morrison, Three Chords and the Truth: 14 new songs from Van the Man, available in digital, CD or LP versions.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Colorado: the first Young/Horse collaboration since the 2012 albums Americana and Psychedelic Pill, available in CD or 2LP versions.

Continue reading “2019 Prog (Plus) Preview 2!”

The Big 2019 Fall Prog (Plus) Preview!

What new music, live albums, reissues (regular, deluxe or super-deluxe) and tours are heading our way between now and All Hallows Eve?  Check out the exhaustive (and potentially exhausting) sampling of promised progressive goodies — along with other personal priorities — below.  Click on the titles for pre-order links — whenever possible, you’ll wind up at the online store that gets as much money as possible directly to the musicians.

 

 

  • August:
    • Dave Kerzner, Static Live Extended Edition: recorded at the 2017 Progstock festival.  Kerzner’s complete Static album in concert, plus selected live highlights & new studio tracks.  Pre-orders ship in late August.
  • August 30:
    • Sons of Apollo, Live with the Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony: recorded at Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s Roman amphitheatre (the site of previous live efforts from Anathema and Devin Townsend).  Available in Blu-Ray, 3 CD + Blu-Ray, and 3 CD + DVD + Blu Ray versions.
    • Tool, Fear Inoculum: Tool’s first album in 13 years.  Available via digital download, as well as “a deluxe, limited-edition CD version (which) features a 4” HD rechargeable screen with exclusive video footage, charging cable, 2 watt speaker, a 36-page booklet and a digital download card.”  Really. 

Continue reading “The Big 2019 Fall Prog (Plus) Preview!”

Bryan’s Best of 2018

Earlier this year, I questioned whether or not 2018 was going to be a poor year for prog. It seemed like the the progressive rock community took a few months to stop and take a collective breath… but that was only the breath before the plunge. The second half of the year saw many excellent new releases. The following are some of my favorites from 2018, in no particular order (my top two at the bottom of this list are tied for first place).

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The Pineapple Thief’s Dissolution — Coming Soon!

From Kscope:

Dissolution is the follow-up album to 2016’s Your Wilderness, and is the band’s second album to feature King Crimson and Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison. Due for release on 31st August.

The new material establishes The Pineapple Thief’s intent to elevate themselves to new heights, with a desire to develop their songwriting and technical capabilities, and with artwork created by iconic design agency Stylorouge, whose previous work includes Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Blur and British film Trainspotting. The album concept tells of the often dark consequences of living in a society in which everything is played out on a public stage, a theme paralleled in the cover art, which was created by ‘glitching’ the original photographs.

Songwriter Bruce Soord explains “broadly speaking the title reflects the disintegration of relationships and the undoing of our social fabric. In a time when we are supposed to be bound closer together than ever, I have never felt so apart from the world.  We are living through a revolution and right now I am not sure it’s a good one. Lyrically this is the most vivid I have been.”

Burning Shed now has Dissolution available to pre-order in multiple formats (CD, BluRay, deluxe CD/DVD/BluRay set, regular and crystal clear vinyl), along with supporting swag (tshirt, hoodie, tote bag).  The Pineapple Thief have also announced European tour dates for September-October 2018 and March 2019.  When I talked with Bruce Soord at last year’s Progtoberfest, he was hoping the band could also play the US this time around — fingers crossed.  Based on the evidence from the Thief’s Where We Stood live video, the upcoming tour could be one to remember!

In the meantime, here’s the first song released from Dissolution, “Far Below” — an eerie, desperate breakneck stomp in 5/8.  Soord, Harrison and the rest of The Pineapple Thief definitely feel like a winning combination here.  Dig it!

— Rick Krueger

 

 

Progtoberfest: Day 2 Report

by Rick Krueger

The sun shone warmly again on the south side of Chicago as Progtoberfest III kicked off its second day.  Taking in the view as I exited the ‘L’, it was amusing and welcoming to see a familiar screaming face painted on the exterior of Reggie’s:

IMG_4097

Hoping to get Alphonso Johnson’s and Chester Thompson’s autographs in the VIP Lounge the night before, I’d struck up a delightful conversation with members of the North Carolina Genesis tribute band ABACAB.  In 2016, festival organizer Kevin Pollack had given them “homework” for this year: to play all of Genesis’ live album Seconds Out on the 40th anniversary of its release.  You could tell the band was nervous (they focus on 1980s Genesis to get bookings, so they had to learn half the album in the past year) but also absolutely thrilled to bring it to the Rock Club stage.  And on Saturday afternoon, they nailed it, to the joy of an enthusiastic, supportive crowd and rave reviews from other acts.  They’re already planning to return to Reggie’s in April as a headliner, and for Progtoberfest IV next October.  Check out why below:

Continue reading “Progtoberfest: Day 2 Report”

(Belated) Best of 2016

Please forgive my late entry, for I did not listen to as many new albums as I should have in 2016; I suppose I still have an affinity for the “classics.” Anyway, here is my all too brief list (in no particular order) of the best albums of 2016:moonpool

A Moon Shaped Pool (Radiohead): This was my first exposure to Radiohead, and I was impressed. The atmospheric, almost hypnotic vocals of Thom Yorke, supported by Jonny Greenwood’s haunting string arrangements, make this a work of eerie beauty. Burn the Witch and Daydreaming are the two stand out pieces, but the album overall is excellent.

Say So (Bent Knee): Not as well-known as the other two, but a gem nonetheless. This innovative band from Boston features the inbentkneecredible vocals of Courtney Swain, whose range will impress prog and non-prog lovers alike. You can check out my review of their first album here.


Your Wilderness
(The Pineapple Thief): I must admit that I enjoy just about anything created by Bruce Soord. The man is quite the talent – as a songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist. His latest effort is no exception; it is filled with well-crafted and accessible songs. Overall, it is a great followup to 2014’s Magnoliayour-wilderness

 

Bryan’s Best of 2016

2016 has been a pretty horrible year: terrorism, deaths of way too many musical heroes, the recent loss of Prog magazine and the total screwing of all Team Rock employees, personal inability to find a job… Yeah, this year has sucked.

Thankfully, despite these trials, progressive rock has continued to be the most creative and innovative genre in the music business. I always enjoy writing a “best of” list, mainly because it gives me a chance to look over the best music of the year. We prog fans really are spoiled.

Like last year, my 2016 list will be pretty big, and the order is completely arbitrary. I have a numbered top 4, but my top 3 picks for this year are essentially tied for first place. Without further ado, my favorite albums of 2016:

Continue reading “Bryan’s Best of 2016”

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.

far-and-near
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.

zee
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”