Sunday, December 16, 2007

Counting down: 40-31..



40. Paulson - All At Once (reissue w/ Bonus tracks)
Another disc that's reissue dropped on March 6th, 2007 (maybe it'll be considered a holiday for me as it was that day? :P), it was one I would go back to sometimes, mainly to listen to the standout cut "I Knew You When." It has one of the catchiest sections I heard all year from any song. And even though it is a reissue, they added a bunch of new songs to this edition, and that I got the sense it received a lot more distribution. Having 14 songs and about an hour in length, I tended to enjoy other parts of this one as well. The whole thing has an upbeat feel and energy to it; which is one of the reasons I went back to it as often as I did. It was definitely one that when I 1st heard I didn't expect to like or play as much as I ended up doing. At 1st it seemed like a alt-rock guilty pleasure, but over time, however bubblegum or pop-ish it came across, the fact was I went back to it a fair amount; and I found a lot to like about the majority of this one.



39. Marillion - Somewhere Else

The good parts of this are a. It is still Marillion, a band I've loved for over a decade. Even their worst work I often find good material in. b. It is different than their last record "Marbles" so it really cannot be accused of being rehash. The best pieces on here to me are a couple of the songs in the middle. The title cut, while sad like this whole disc, does offer an enjoyable atmosphere, a powerful crescendo, and another trademark Steve Rothery guitar solo at the end. The following piece "A Voice from the Past" is effective in a similar way. Well-written and not as lazy as much of the rest of this. "Wound," and I suppose a couple of the others like the closer "Faith," the opener "The Other Half," and "Thank You Whoever You Are" all are decent songs with qualities I enjoy about Marillion. But ultimately, this album doesn't demand me to go back to it right now anymore than say "Radiation" or "Holidays In Eden" ever did. The feel of it is dreary and very slowww, not to mention the intended depressing or melancholy mood it gives. In a way it almost feels like demos or they wanted to go at this one at 1/2-speed. You'd almost not recognize them if you heard this back-to-back with "Marbles." I guess some of these songs do better live; which is a bit of a relief. But with their history, I'm not highly surprised and thus not highly disappointed in it. I know they can and will put out more great music, it's just it wasn't quite there on this one. The next disc may be out in 2008, so maybe pretty soon; although some of that material and reason so soon for a follow-up has to do with the fact they recorded a lot of material that didn't end up on this one. Let's hope a lot of that ends up being better than this. They're still my favorite band, no matter.


38. The End - Elementary
Were to open for Between the Buried And Me this fall, but their guitarist Andrew Hercules departed the band, and they had to drop-out of that tour. That is how I heard about this band. Even though they had to bail on that tour, I still checked them out and got into this one. This is their 3rd full-length release, but the only thing I know by them right now. Sort of progressive/alternative hardcore if that's a style (aren't "styles" only a necessarily evil in the 1st place?). A couple of the songs have a decent Tool-slant. I guess I just dig how I can put this on and hear little things in each song to notice each time around. Having a new interest in more kinds of Metal, these guys fit right-into what I was digging this fall. The vocals for some will kill this for them, but for me, they only add to it. I like screaming in fact now. Ironically, maybe the finest part of this is the entirely clean-vocalled 9 minute epic "And Always." The piano, and build on that one closes out a for the most part, flawless record. Their future may or may not be certain (it appears they are doing some concerts this month at least, so the guitarist issue may be remedied for now), but at least they have left us with something to enjoy in the mean time.


37. Porcupine Tree - Nil Recurring (EP)
With the highly disappointing "Fear of a Blank Planet" dropping in April, it was uncertain what to expect on this EP which the material was written and recorded in the same time period. As it turned out, this release ended up being better all-together. Sort of less-is-more in a way, which often can happen with EPs. A band teases you, or just includes some individual pieces that didn't seem to fit with the majority of the writing they do. "Normal" is the best thing I heard from Porcupine Tree in 2007, and it's not even close. It takes a melody from "Sentimental" and blows it up. The fast, intricate drumming from Gavin Harrison is perfect for the Meshuggah- like section in the middle. Almost a tease since we only get to hear that briefly from this band. The other 3 cuts are worth hearing in-the-flow and feel of this. "Nil Recurring" is a heavier, spacey instrumental which I remember being reminded of "Wedding Nails" initially. "Cheating the Polygraph" and "What Happens Now?" has this great spacey-groove that reminds me of Signify-era Tree, that later builds. I couldn't help but listen to it and *love* it as much for what it is, as how much better it seemed to be than FoaBP.


36. One Republic - Dreaming Out Loud
A bit of a wait for this thing to be released, it surprised me as there aren't any songs here I'd skip. "Someone To Save You" and "Mercy" are maybe my two favorites among the tracks I had yet to hear, not from their myspace going back to the Spring of 2006. STSY is a highly catchy, poppy track with a melody I couldn't help but love and think of a band like Jellyfish. "Apologize" is a good song, without the Timbaland exposure and factoring what the remix did, which I honestly don't think is as good. "Sleep" was a track that got me into these guys. "Stop And Stare" is rather poppy and adult-contemporary sounding but for what it is, I'd rather hear it from these guys than someone else. Their singer has a lot of similar elements to Jeff Buckley or even Bono, yet still has enough of his own voice for these songs to work. To go along with that, the songwriting, even with a lot of it's poppy nature, is one of this band's strengths. I just wish the whole Timbaland thing hadn't done the opposite of what it could have done. Getting the band exposure, and then leading them to being Timbaland's little pet project to get overplayed by Radio stations to death. In the process, many folks who might have picked up their disc, may not have; and maybe worst, they have been evaluated soley on that one (remixed) song and video, while it doesn't do the quality of this album justice.



35. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo
We didn't see The Mars Volta release a full-length in 2007 for the 1st time in 3 years, but this solo-offering from their guitarist is more or less on par with much of their work. And possibly his best solo work having only heard and read about his other material. "Please Heat This Eventually" is a classic Latin jazz-rock mini-epic at 11 minutes. The hook is one you don't get out of your head easily. The bits of psych-noodling on it and the rest of this record don't hurt this album. "Rapid Fire Toolbooth" is really the blueprint for "Goliath," a track on the upcoming Volta LP. The title track and really the whole record works beginning to end. Some great elements of Jazz-Rock, specifically with a Latin or *Salsa* approach which reminded me as much of Return To Forever, Chick Corea and Al Di Meola as anything else. I wonder how big a fan of Al's Omar is. Santana I'm sure, but Di Meola I'm sure as well.

Woven - Aftermath EP
34. Woven - Aftermath (EP)
Saw a bit of buzz about this band the past couple of months which led me to check them out and become a fan. I guess they have toured with dredg even. They released a debut EP and a full-length prior to this, which the brief amounts I've listened to those I've liked a lot of their electronic style rock. But at least for now, their new stuff seems to be having them go further for me. Layers, textures, mood. A bit of a Deftones-like style to the singer in spots. Only the last 15 minute minimalistic 6th track "Untitled" I can find flaw with as the 1st 5 numbers totally work in a big way. I got into the band Stateless this year as well, and these guys have a lot of the same kinds of elements I love about Stateless. The 1st song "Inhale" has a great build and vibe that I can't help but rock-out to. "Cosmonaut" as well. The chorus is strong on that one; the rhythm almost reminds me of "Free" by the band VAST. The 5th track "Abort Instruction" has audio for about four and half minutes, the last section with a whispering "Again" that leads to a "I never feel this againnnn!" that in turns segues into a brief, but still soothing dreamy section. Maybe the only thing that hurts my feeling about this is the fact some of the tracks on their myspace weren't included; notably "Where We Going" which was the 1st song I got into from them. However, they have an LP expected to drop in 2008 already titled "Designer Codes" which that and a lot more moody-greatness may be on.


33. Bend Sinister - Bend Sinister (EP)
Last year in finding out of this Vancouver, BC based group, a few of the tracks they made stream-able on their myspace page were not coming from their excellent debut "Through the Broken City." "Time Breaks Down," "Yours Truly" and "Julianna" all are included on this along with their two newest gems "TV War" and "High Horses." My hopes and admiration for this group may be a reflection to an extent on the placing/ranking of this release. Why I say that is partly due to one difficult thing to not mention. Those three songs and more specifically the *recordings* I have only one big beef about. The cymbals and/or specifically Crash/Splash triggers seem in my multiple experiences to *clip* noticeably to the point of almost nails-on-a-chalkboard like way. Whether it's just me, the mp3's, or the headphones and speakers I've listened to them from I can't be certain as the limited other writings I've come across about them (and this band sadly still) fails to mention this. The songs other than that part are great, classic Bend Sinister and seem to be a reasonable progression from the material on the debut. What is probably most encouraging is the two newer tracks are possibly better and this clipping issue doesn't seem to be evident with. I love the crescendo in "TV War" and breakdown in "High Horses" especially. Money, exposure, possibly being in Canada and in the Pacific NW could be their biggest reasons for obscurity. But if even a fraction of the folks who've caught onto Portugal the Man among some others knew of these guys, I still think they could blow up. But then again, how often do I and many others say that? What sucked maybe even more for me this year is they did finally get to tour, but only in their native Canada (thanks to a grant I recall), and I failed to be able to travel across the border to catch them due mainly to the financial hit that I would have faced (I don't earn a 6-figure salary just yet of course!).


32. Andre Matos - Time To Be Free
Ever since the split of Angra in the late 90's, it's very clear to me this guy was the bulk of the talent in that Brazilian outfit. The group he formed with two of the other members from Angra, in Shaman, put out a highly memorable debut in 2002's "Ritual." A couple years later a somewhat less discussed follow-up in 2005's "Reason" was released. Since then, for whatever reason, Andre's musical path led him and the two Mariutti brothers to continue somewhat in the same direction with his 1st solo-band release. I suppose I have come to the conclusion about this album, as I have also got with some other '07 heavier and symphonic releases like Alter Bridge and even Inme. A flow beginning to end, many hooks and sections on most of the songs you want to bang your head to. And it does have a lot of the *big sound* many of the Angra and Shaman material had. "Endeavour" is a bit of an epic and probably my favorite cut, even if it's the final original song on this one (the last track is a respectable cover of the Journey song "Separate Ways"). Other songs that I enjoy include the title track and "Letting Go." There are even some hints of a death growl in "Rescue Me." This one is probably one of those albums that I'll never regard as a classic, but I can't say anything bad about it as I enjoy it all beginning to end. Being the Matos fan I am could be partly biased about that, as he's still at least in the studio, one of my favorite singers with as good of vocal chops as any singer today. His compositional skill and desire to progress also seem evident here.


31. Battles - Mirrored
Catchy, fun, dance-able, a grower, and more accessible than you'd think on paper. The 1st half of this debut LP from this *math-rock* of a sort group, seems to really work. Tracks like the single "Atlas," "Tonto" "Ddiamandd," and the opener "Race:In" were among my favorites. Percussive, time-changing, and rhythm being a large focus of the sound here. The quirky edge I think of 80's King Crimson, and the vocal chanting reminds me of as non-traditional music like The Residents, but at the same time recalls similarities to even Yes. Yeah, this was certainly an album once given some repeated attention, I recognized where and why some of the buzz happened with them. Unfortunately, I can't entirely say they floored me live mainly due to wondering if they would add more improvisation than it seemed they did. Although I wouldn't say the concert I caught them was unsatisfying at the same time. I may find myself discovering more about this one down-the-line even as the 2nd half of it I remember enjoying but not frequently making it through to for various reasons not involving the music itself.

The Cusp of 50: Favorite CDs of 2007 Numbers 50-41


50. Coheed and Cambria - Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: Volume II: No World For Tomorrow
The follow up to what was a classic and my favorite Coheed record GOOD APOLLO VOLUME I, this album sadly didn't come close to measuring up to that. Why exactly? This one has about half a dozen songs that sound very much in the 80's Hard Rock and Arena style which in a way is cool, but ultimately isn't like their past work or even that effective for this band. It also doesn't have the flow and unavoidable catchiness that was all over the hooks on their last 2 records. A bunch of the songs I do like still. "The Reaping," "Mother Superior" the title track and probably my favorite cut "The Hound (Of Blood And Rank)" along with the closing Pink Floydy "On the Brink"which reprises the guitar solo from "The Final Cut" off GA 1. By many standards, this album has a good amount to offer, but by Coheed's it fell very flat. Maybe over some time it'll warrant more playability, but for now I can't claim to be nothing short of disappointed as it was one of the most highly anticipated releases for 2007 and unlike some, a band who was coming off brilliance. Maybe on LP #5 we'll see them get that back.


49. Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
The 9th studio record from probably the most important band I've discovered since getting into music. Sadly, this one was not the big return to greatness I was hoping. it to be. "In the Presence of Enemies - Part 1" is well-written and a great start to this album. Great crescendo and very much worthy of how long it goes. "Forsaken" is also a catchy, melodic ballad that I can appreciate. "Prophets of War" I don't care how much it sounds like Muse, I still actually like, if for no other reason, but the hook is impossible for me to not like. "Constant Motion" while not an amazing single, still is a song that grew on me, mainly because the bridge rocks out like only Dream Theater tends to do. But beyond that, I can't say I look at this album offering much of any other value. "The Ministry of Lost Souls" is a lengthly piece that seems far too sleepy and that drags on far too much for me to want to hear again. "The Dark Eternal Night" is highly cringe-worthy. The best part of that was seeing the live Video. I don't follow how this song has received the praise it has so often; it's one of the worst things they've ever done. "Repentance" while a nice idea, doesn't really have the beauty that a heartfelt song could have, but at least I would say it's not bad for what it is, I just don't really find the desire to play it regularly even *within* the flow of this record. "In the Presence of Enemies - Part 2" has a couple of fun, melodic sections, but what kills it is the Dracula/preachy lyrics. Another band can and has done songs like this, it's just it's not Dream Theater's game and the extended wanking sections that don't dismiss Jordan Rudess's need to use that plasticy synth-patch found on so many Walmart-bought Casio's kills the best parts of this song from desire to hear often. It's really too bad, Dream Theater seem to be a band who have some great ideas, but also a lot of being in their *comfort zone* with songwriting especially. Maybe the 10th record will see them change again, because this is a band with more than enough talent to produce classic records still, it's just not at the clip many (including myself) have come to want/expect.


48. Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
Another highly anticipated disc that barely made the Top 50 due to it falling far short of expectation. I popped this one on again today and I guess my initial thoughts about it might have been slightly exaggerated about the depressing nature of it. Yeah, PT are known for writing sad songs, but the issue here wasn't feeling sad hearing this (or lack their of). No, this guy just doesn't have anything mind-blowing or classic on it. Really, what on here says "oh what an amazing part!" or "That song I can't get enough of." Where's the "Lazarus" or "Trains"? or even "Arriving Somewhere But Not Here"? No where. "Anesthetize" has a cool section that lasts about 8 minutes, especially the Meshuggah part that is hard to avoid raising the horns and banging your head to. "Sentimental" I still like, but having heard "Normal" later in the year I realized how it's inferior to that. And maybe the thing that comes across is even at 50 minutes or so, you finish the record without that experience of "wow, that was something." It's more like "That was it?..there's gotta be more right?" At least in their case "Nil Recurring" redeemed some of my faith in these guys, a band who seemed to be on a good roll with their last 3 discs. Hopefully a comeback will be in store for the next one.


47. People For Audio - The New Ancients
2nd release from the Montreal Art-Rock group. I stumbled upon this disc one day at Cheapo this fall when it read "RIYL: The Besnard Lakes, Do Make Say Think, Pink Floyd." While I haven't honestly played it that many times, I recall liking it the 1st time I heard it; and then last week revisiting it again I was more impressed than I remembered. The whole thing flows well beginning to end. The spacey, dreamy, psychadelic sections reminiscent of Hawkwind and the aforementioned Pink Floyd are included throughout. On the sticker I jotted down the following: 1,2,5,10,12 for the highlight tracks, but actually I think the composition of the entire album it's it's biggest strength. I should be playing it a lot more in years to come, but a fine work from this new Canadian outfit who barely anybody knows as far as I can tell. Maybe I won't be saying that a year from now.


46. Inme - Daydream Anonymous
Coming somewhat out of nowhere to me, and slipping my mind the fact this was to come out this fall. Like the People For Audio disc, I heard this once, and liked it but sort of forgot about it. Well in going back to it in recent weeks a few times, I was a lot more won-over the 2nd time around. What is the best way to describe this one? An album that never loses you because it has track-after-track with this lovable energy. Electronic touches and different sounding guitar riffs all are well put together throughout pretty much every song. There's one piece toward the end "Soldier" almost sounds like something Coheed And Cambria wrote a few years ago. The singer does sing with what sounds almost like a Scottish accent; a bit like Biffy Clyro's singer in fact, but it doesn't really hurt the quality of the songs at all. A great flowing, infectious record for me, and one I'll probably go back to a lot more soon and possibly their back catalog as I understand they formed over 10 years ago. However, finding their cds at an affordable price is whole nother story, which may be one reason this one has had such little mention.

45. Alter Bridge - Blackbird
Big sound, epic in some ways, grandiose and heavy. This is Metal, but also poppy. I guess their past work was more in the Creed-school, but this one doesn't have much evidence of that. I guess my impressions on this is they do some of what I loved about Queensryche and Extreme, but with a modern writing approach. Not highly original, but at the same time, I can't say I know or listen to many bands who are doing what's on here (or as well). The whole record is good. Tight songwriting, hooks, some ballads, some rockers. Probably the title track and the opening cut "Ties That Bind" are the songs that grabbed me the most right away. However there's no question this one surprised me as much as any others, the production work included.


44. Serj Tankian - Elect the Dead
Many good tracks on here, the biggest thing, well two biggest actually that stick out about it though are. 1. This sounds *highly* like System of a Down. Some feel that's fine since SOAD may be no more, or are at least on a lengthly hiatus. 2. The themes and lyrics are so overtly political, they're right in your face. As a result it ends up hurting the best parts, being the music itself. Putting that aside, it still has many well-written songs with some nice hooks and layers. String parts and whatnot. The two singles that made radio, "Empty Walls" and "Unthinking Majority" I suppose are among the best. I guess if we don't see a SOAD reunion down-the-line this may be traced back to be a decent to bordering on impressive debut disc, but right now it doesn't go quite that far.


43. Menomena - Friend and Foe
This Seattle-based chamber-rock group of a sort, I 1st heard on the local Indie radio station. I really dug the subtle piano parts especially. I later came to learn much of the material I liked was from a previous record "I Am the Fun Blame Monster!" which I've come to enjoy immensely. But in getting into that one, I was still wanting to dig their most recent release. And what it amounted to is a record that grew on me some, but still doesn't measure up to that other one (I have yet to hear the one the preceded this one). The 1st 1/2 of this album is quite good, and then a few of the cuts toward the end I found to myself liking. The best probably being the single "Wet And Rusting" and opening cut "Muscle and Flo." At this stage it's not a classic, but hardly without value. I guess when this band hits the pretty nail on the head melodically with a piano melody or the use of horns for example, it *really* works well, thus I still find myself going back to this one often. Fans of groups like Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, Anathallo, or Sufjan Stevens who don't know these guys, may want to check them out.


42. The Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army
Some have said this was a bit of breakthrough or just their finest work. I'm not as versed in this Texas based Rock ensemble, enough to say necessarily as I only have heard their debut as well this one. No question this group are a totally different animal live, but this cd is pretty solid beginning to end. My favorite track remains the title cut which I just can't help but love the choir-vocals "We all wanna know"..and maybe some of that is the unavoidable cuteness of those female singers on the risers doing the dance. The album does bring me back to the show I saw, or even witnessing them on Austin City Limits. They have a special quality about them that when bought into, you can't avoid getting a *natural high*. Not to mention all the stuff going on with their music, all 21+ members, 2 drummers, trumpet, trombone, 2 keyboardists, 2 or 3 guitarists, etc..including Annie Clark aka St.Vincent even, and of course their leader Tim DeLaughter who reminds me a bit of Peter Gabriel vocally at times. Some other highlights here would be "Running Away" and the ballad "We Crawl" which reminds me of a bit of what they were doing on "It's the Sun" and "Reach the Sun" on the debut. Solid studio band, and even more enjoyable to hear this material live.

41. Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same
A record I went back to somewhat often as this group reminded me of one of my biggest discoveres last year in Mew. And rightfully so, Mew fans could and I have seen do dig this band. The only thing that has dropped this down the list some is the fact they do have a bit of a Christian-Rock slant lyrically; comparisons to Mae among others. And the fact what I dig about them, is also what doesn't seem as much their own sound I guess. This being a debut cd, I give them a pass, a bit like Portugal the Man last year. The pieces that are worth mentioning for fans of bands like Mew or even Fields to an extent. "Surface," "Shoreline," and "Shadow and City Lights" at least do capture the beauty and melodic sense I tend to enjoy and go back to often. Uplifting songs, which can demand repeated play. The rest of this album flows well and I found myself listening off an on throughout the year, afterall, this did drop onto shelves on March 6th, 2007.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

2007 Discs: The Outside Looking In

Note: this is the 1st Entry of a few to come this weekend/coming days. There are many albums not on here, and many here I have only heard a few times. Why this is not the "Top Albums" of the year, but could be or might have been given more time.



85. Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus! ..I really liked the latter 1/3 of this one. It and the band needs more time.
84. Thrice - Alchemy Index Volume I + II - Fire And Water. I listened to the "Fire" disc a couple of times and while there were a couple of songs I liked, I haven't found enough reason to go back to it. Still, maybe the best thing I've ever heard from this band (which honestly isn't a lot).
83. Arch Enemy - Rise of the Tyrant Not having heard a ton from this band, but with my newly found interest in Death Metal, I found myself more impressed than many by this. Still it requires a lot more time to move higher
up.
82. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam My impressions of this band were they were quite odd and avant-garde; however on this new one I would say they may have found a niche for new fans, and outsiders to their style. I still can't get past the whole Pink Floyd-UMMA GUMMA idea with them and that band "The Sounds of Animals Fighting." No matter, this record on early impressions would fit well with many of the Elephant 6 bands. I may be diving more into them in the near future after fully digesting this one more.
81. The Stars of Track and Field - Centuries Before Love and War A myspace sign-in exposure band. Not blown away, but especially the 2nd of this album was fun and catchy.
80. Jason Falkner - I'm Ok, You're Ok I didn't find desire to go back to this from memories of the songs just not quite doing it. Maybe next year, but it certainly didn't measure up to much of his past work. I'm still a fan of his no matter.
79. The Cinematic Orchestra - Ma Fleur Probably will receive more appreciation in the coming times, but as a 1st intro to the band, I am liking some of this. Reminds me of Sufjan Stevens among some others and much of it does live up to their name as music very use-able for the Cinema.
78. Sylvan - Presets I am pretty sure I liked a previous sampling more from this band where the recipe/euro/prog-cheese factor didn't come into play. However, I can't deny a couple of tracks worked well. The 2nd track "Signed Away" and the 12+ minute closing title piece mainly were memorable.
77. Anekdoten - A Time of Day
Swedish band I go back a few years hearing, 1st in 2000 at NEARFEST. Their style doesn't seem vastly different on this one, with King Crimson elements still evident. But "In For a Ride" is probably as good a song I've ever heard from them.
76. Ulver - Shadows Of the Sun Having revisited this one again recently, it's effective on what it is, a very depressing and melancholy recording. Which ultimately didn't warrant it to be heard too much, but doesn't detract my respect for this group. I will always remember hearing this right after hearing of longtime Mike Portnoy forumer Keith Kitchens passing.
75. Dethklok - The Dethalbum A new spin on parodied music in the vein of This Is Spinal Tap. Soundtrack/band for the Cartoon Network program "Metalocylpse," when I was given the chance to see and meet Mike Keneally this fall, and among my big Metal exploration ironically, I can't deny getting into their music and the show was a lot of fun. The visuals especially. Hey, I missed out on seeing Annuals for it, and don't regret that still.
74. The Graduate - Anhedonia Another group traced to the front-page of myspace. Partly a guilty-pleasure in their Taking Back Sunday stylings, but I'd be lying to say I don't enjoy more than 1/2 of this record. Some fun, catchy hooks and a bit of electronica makes this an underated album since I rarely see anyone mention it or them. Fans of Paulson probably like or could get into this.
73.Dug (Doug) Pinnick - Strum Sum Up. Trying to digest a lot of this at the last hour here, I can conclude this is some of his best work outside of King's X. But that doesn't mean a ton really. Maybe a couple of these pieces could have, or some of the idea will carry-on over to KX's next soon-to-come disc. In the mean time, my early favorites: "Perfect World" and "All I Want" which features a funky jam, are to keep in mind. The fact it's on Magna Carta may not be however.
72. Chick Corea and Bela Fleck - The Enchanment Not a ton to say about this other than my recollection from the 1st half. Cool the two worked together, but the pieces were not mind-blowing. More of something I'd go back to if in a *Jazz* mood or anticipating a concert from either of them.
71. Miracle Fortress - Five Roses. Brian Wilson stylings, although the vocals seem to be about the tone rather wording as I can't claim to have understood much. Vocals-as-an-instrument if you will. But maybe the best overt recapturing of that style in recent years. You could swear some of this was taken from the *Smile-Sessions*. The last 1/3 of this album I liked the most.
70. Yeah Yeah Yeah's - Is Is
This EP for the most part worked. One or two of the songs made Indie radio, and it got me more motivated to check them out. The riffs and melodies worked for the most part, and maybe will inspire my exploration more into them now having heard this. "Kiss Kiss" is not only a great band, but song from this group.
69. Dean Magraw - Unseen Rain. Longtime Minnesota-based guitarist put out a record with his trio-lineup with Jim Anton and JT Bates. I especially enjoy some of the Pat Metheny-like pieces "Eva Arriving" and "Mali" along with "Isabella." Still likely a *Jazz-mood* album for me, but one of Dean's better works.
68. Bockman - Chasing Dragons having currently misplaced this, I can only go buy revisiting the tracks on myspace and memory. A fun, happy, catchy melodic record for the most part. The XTC comparison probably fits most, but also bands like The Polyphonic Spree and Jellyfish of course can be heard in hints on it. For a debut, they show some promise at a minimum.
67. Liquid Trio Experiment - Spontaneous Combustion. Fort what it is, it's about as good as expected and still worth hearing. Petrucci's absence does affect the level of enjoyment that I normally get from LTE. Also since these are so much of loose jams, it's nothing I can play everyday. No matter, it has it's value and moments to not forget, most notably on "Firedance."
66. Dial - Synchronized New project from the recently departed bassist of Pain of Salvation, Kristoffer Gildenlow. Probably 2/3 of this record have songs I liked, but not overwhelmed by. More folk and pop than his work with PoS, his dutch girlfriend has a nice voice and is featured here on some of them. As well, Kris himself can be mistaken for his brother vocally at times, which for the most part is a good thing. "Jewel" and "Childhood Dreams" are probably two of best parts of this one.
65. Behemoth - The Apostasy. One of my newest favorites in discovering Death Metal. I was floored by their live show, and hearing this, some of the criticism I have seen either can be explained one of 2 ways. Their past work was so damn good, this record's inconsistency is it's only flaw. Or that it was simply overlooked. Not everything on here slays, but a few of them brought me back to that show again. "Kriegsphilosophie" and "Libertheme" I can say have added to my interest in them even more. The grooves, riffs, phrasing, and tightness just works incredibly well when they're on. I cannot wait to become more familiar with them, as these guys are *teh shit* when they're on their game.
64. Rush - Snakes And Arrows. The result of another Rush record has led me to not have faith in their genius again. They're like a veteran DH hanging around as much for his name as for trying to reach statistical milestones. "The Main Monkey Business" was the needle in the haystack, and a couple of the other songs had some moments. But it was for the most part rehash of the last few albums; which I and I imagine now even more of their fans have come accept. We can at least get much out of their concerts still.
63. Nile - Ithyphallic Only a brief amount of time I've given this one, their earlier stuff I was impressed by. This was more spotty, especially some the rituals the song titles conjure up. However, the rituals are part of their charm at the same time, just a song like "Eat of the Dead" is probably not one I'm gonna go back to. Thankfully the whole thing didn't give me that reaction.
62. Opeth - The Roundhouse Tapes Soncially good, tracklist is ok I suppose, performance not lacking really, except for the fact they don't seem like amazing *live versions* really. Had some other bands made a recording like this in 2007, they may warrant a higher spot. But at least it's in their catalog now and for me having not seen one of the Ghost Reveries-Tour shows. The forthcoming DVD may have more to get up about next year.
61. Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers Fun, cute, cheery, and clever-pop record from this woman who I only had known from her experience with The Decemberists. Every piece is good here, but not highly addictive to make it higher on my list. Still, I'd say she's somewhat underated as I don't see her name that often.
60. Editors - An End Has a Start One that definitely I got into at 1st, but especially after seeing their show, I realized how much of this record is samey. Still, it's not without songs I still like to an extent. Just not as much as I did at 1st. The riffs and catchy hooks can be found on the 1st 3 tracks especially. Fans of this record and them, may want to check out Bloc Party for a more complete record from 2007.
59. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Spirit If. In such a short time this record went from optimism to falling short. My new found love of BSS got me excited here, and the 1st impression made me think it belongs in there with their best work. Not quite. The 2nd half did work moreso, "Frightening Lives' may end up being the 1 classic track on it; although who knows, maybe this one will grow on me with some time.
58. Canon - Wide Awake I found a copy of this for next to nothing and the prog word was tagged on the sticker on the jewel-case. Over a few plays I got to liking this more, despite production quality and some hints of Thom Yorke vocals I tend to loathe. Although at times I hear a Jeff Buckley voice in their singer too (funny how that is for me, but it's more in the writing approach and annunciation where Buckley is vastly more for me than Yorke). But not quite enough to consider it a classic, but more of certainly a band to watch. The title track, "Renaissance" and "Don't Trust the Teachers" are some of the best parts of it.
57. Alcest - Souvenirs d’un autre monde. A 2nd assessment has given me much more appreciation for this band doing their own brand of Post-Metal if you want to call it that. As it goes along, the builds and melodies become more evident, which doesn't force this one into dragging or boring sections that often can happen with this style.
56. Hiromi Uehara - Time Control Being new to her but reading mention and comparisons to Return to Forever, I appreciate much of this album. But it didn't quite blow me away beginning to end, as I hoped. Still the Metheny-like piece "Deep Into the Night" is in fact a classic, and the pieces with *Time* in the title seem to have some nice sections (especially piano) that are worth going back to. I may owe it myself to seek out her earlier stuff as there is no question she is one of the newer artists bringing the classic elements of Jazz-Rock. Having David Fiuczynski of Screaming Headless Torsos on here is an added bonus.
55. Between Two Skies - A Thousand Conscious Moments. This debut EP has some of this young group's best material on it. "Walker Floater" and especially "Hand Over Heart" are dramatic yet create a mood I appreciate. The people who dig dredg and Tool I wish knew more about this band. Maybe with more time. They are one of my favorite local groups, maybe it won't just be *local* in the next few years.
54. Animosity - Animal As technical and tight a Tech/Death band I checked out this fall, the biggest issue I have recently found with this is the samey-ness of their sound/these songs. I did get into their live show as well. I'm not familiar with their back-catalog, but for what they do, they do well. One of the better new bands in this style no matter.
53. Gogol Bordello - Super Taranta! Having just heard this for the 1st time, it may be unwarranted to put it ahead of some of these post-Top 50's. But I was pretty floored by a lot of this, some really technical playing here. But still the fun, energy, and spontaneity that I'd expect from a Punk-type band with horns and other non-traditional rock elements. Probably even better live, this album at 14 tracks might be not without added fat. No matter, when you got half a dozen or more songs that are crazy-ass shit, they become progressive to me. I'm not sure their previous record did that much, as I recall being bored by it. Maybe time has changed my take on them and this style. I'm not into punk rock, but this may be one exception so-to-speak.
52. Chase Pagan - Oh Musica Singer/Songwriter debut record that I find can and should appeal to fans of Ben Folds, Ours (a few tracks reminds me totally of them "Time to Myself" for one), The Dresden Dolls, and Murder By Death among others. A lot of it Piano-driven. Some layering and emotional vocals included, this album does not include any bad songs on it, just not quite enough moving songs to crack the top 50 (although in other years it may have). "Walzting in the Sky" still may be the best cut on here as it's been on the myspace for many months, but it's hardly the only highlight.
51. Born of Osiris - The New Reign. Less is more. Clocking in at 21 minutes, it's funny how this one seems short, but at the same time seems much longer or at least much more than just that. The length of a sitcom episode, yet these guys give a lot more to offer than you would think on paper. Sort of like Between the Buried and Me sans for the clean vocals and dreamy sections. The songs flow into each-other and phrases are tight. As I wrote earlier in the year, the thing is over before it starts, there's no way to say anything on here is excessive.

expected next: No's 50-26....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Albums of the year coming

ok I'm to the point where I need to start using this more for everyday banter. So the hell with the long exhaustive posts for the most part. This is beyond just MEDIA I guess.

Anyway, I *hope* to write some possibly stream-of-consciousness topics this weekend..but lists may be what they are in fact. Kinda rough drafts for the lists I've meant to do for awhile and also upcoming lists in the Albums of the Year..movies and tv shows of course.

Say hello to change..on here (I really should be saying that in REAL life, lol. No gf or career maybe? :P

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day 2007: Donkey Kong and Kyle XY



King Of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. I finally got to catch this much praised documentary which in way was like a MOC-umentary except unlike 2005's classic NEVER BEEN THAWED and more like TREKKIES, it was from what I could tell purely non-fiction and just cleverly edited. A few segments here and there seemed doctored, namely some of the scenes with Billy Mitchell and the footage at the Funspot not necessarily being in chronological time.

But overall this (and the people involved) was a funny, geek-exposing (in a good way hopefully) docudrama that like some of the past kinds like TREKKIES, didn't take itself too seriously. Even the colorful and likeable referee Walter Day was entertaining enough throughout. I understand a lot of the portrayal was edited in a Michael Moore-like way in making Billy Mitchell seem like the bad guy intentionally. The 1st half of the film I wouldn't necessarily say that is clear, but when the film leads to what the viewer wants to see, I can follow that. I'm not clear if Mitchell, Day, or Wiebe really minded that much since they probably were just excited to see themselves in something they presumably have a passion for and now the world is able to see as well. Or in other words, getting famous/being a star so-to-speak in a movie trumps any issue with how the film told the story for the most part.

But the way they showed the backgrounds of the guys, mostly Steve and Billy of course, made it more doc-like anyway. Steve's little girl may have had the best line in the film when she says to him about getting his name in the Guinness Book of World Records, "I think a lot of people ruin their lives to get in that book."


The 2nd endeavour today for me was the 1/2-season finale (yes not THEE season finale contrary to what ABC Family's ads were saying, quite blatantly to hype and keep viewer-ship up) of the Scifi Family Dramedy KYLE XY.

My thoughts on this 2.0 finale, this season, and the show as a whole; Everything surrounding where Jessi and Kyle were seemed like a very good spot to put a cliffhanger with her jumping off a ledge and leading to Season 2.5 Kyle hunting for her and reviving her. The whole getting in his head on accident seemed like a good angle, but a bit limited in detail. The questions now have to be, what he exactly tells the Tragers when he gets back to their place about Foss and Zzyxx and Madacorp and Baylin especially. The problem they are facing is that info in his head and how much the Tragers want to know and will find out. The only thing is with Foss; I gotta believe there is a lot of stuff he knows about both and Baylin that he hasn't told Kyle. They will likely have to tell more about what Madacorp got from his head, because presumably, everything he knew they have, thus what background he tells Kyle doesn't necessarily help that much anymore.

Also the Emily character and her family; she seems really close to burning Madacorp one of these times. The whole blackmailing her family needs to be emphasized more. There also very easily is a genetic connection to her and Jessi. Very easily the writers will introduce Jessi's mother as her sister or something like that.

While this 1/2 season didn't have quite as much mystery as the 1st season, I think the show has gotten better in a lot of respects. More characters, more complicated, and more questions. Although like Clark on Smallville, the secrets are inevitably going to leak out, but it seems the writers are doing a reasonable enough job adding more intrigue. The Josh character in this finale, without Andy around, seemed to be back to his old comic-relief self which I think was missed this season to an extent. I read a rumor about the Andy character being killed off with the Cancer, but that remains unclear still. I personally really like her, but also like Josh in Kyle-is-an-Alien mode. If the writers kept Andy around, they could try and have her be Josh's partner-in-crime so-to-speak. I'm not sure that's happening, as well as where the Amanda character will be as I recall seeing a quote from her not appearing much in the Winter episodes. I understand that, but that also is a bit of a downer as she is a reason to watch the show alone for. Call me a sucker for the sensitive-type girls, but it's without a question one reason I like this show. Well, and the fact my name is Kyle doesn't hurt, hehe.



I also did catch another film this afternoon, CHALK. Maybe not as hard-to-stomach for long periods as NBC's THE OFFICE, but it was similar in a lot of ways. The jokes were hit and miss. I imagine more folks could find this as a potential classic; that's fine and it's hardly the worst film I saw this year. The History teacher who runs for Teacher of the Year was good for a percentage of the scenes he did at least.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

2007 Pre-Award Season Films Report



The Hoax - Richard Gere puts on an exceptional performance in portraying Howard Hughes biographer Clifford Irving. Alfred Molina gives great support as Irving's friend and partner-in-crime. There is a lot of dreamy imagery in this film, the dialogue and storytelling never becomes dull. I never got the sense that this one was seen by a large audience, which along with the fact the timing of it's release kills much Oscar potential, and the exposure it deserves. Maybe it'll have a chance to become a cult-film eventually at least. Much in the same status of THE JACKET or THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (I was reading through Amoeba records 06-07's cd/dvd favorites list and actually noticed that one a handful of times, which may claim it to becoming a cult-film finally!); which I personally feel could and should reach the level of 2000 films like DONNIE DARKO and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.



Cashback
I was very moved by this short-film expansion into full-length feature. A guy (Sean Biggerstaff, from the 1st Harry Potter film) is dumped by his girlfriend, then starts a job at a supermarket when he's not at Art school. Ever since the loss of his girlfriend, he can't stop thinking about her and then finds it impossible to sleep. So what happens is he finds a way to slow time down where everything is frozen but him and his drawing materials; which he ends up using to enhance his portfolio of drawings of the female body. He ends up finding a connection to a girl at the grocery store, and the time-pausing turns this romantic-comedy upside down. The music and supporting comedy add even more reason to want to see this one again.



First Snow
Surreal mysery with Guy Pearce seeing a soothsayer on an isolated road where his car is being fixed. The man tells him his death is near, but not much else other than it comes near "The First Snow." The film's pace at times moves a little slow, but the climax it leads to is all worth not missing. Great performances by Piper Perabo and JK Simmons. Another highly undermentioned potential classic. Fans of films like THE MACHINIST may owe it to themself to seek this one out on DVD.



Breaking And Entering
- Jude Law's character faces a moral dilemma whether to turn in the boy who is involved in an unsolved robbery of technology used at his architecture company, or keep it silent after finding a connection with the boy's mother while in a struggling marriage. The twist the director takes this film seems somewhat real, my only real complaint about it was at times with Law's character the amount of emphasis on emotion doesn't come across as it could. But Juliette Binoche does compensate at times for that.



Stardust
- Charming, humorous fantasy tale in the tradition of Terry Gilliam and films like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Neil Gaiman finally has a one of his stories that qualifies to make a mark in Hollywood. The big names like Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfieffer, and Claire Danes, but the lead Charlie Cox really does breakthrough in this performance. A story about star that falls onto the Earth and a guy to try and win over a woman he desires, proposes to capture that star for her to win her love. Little does he know that *on the other side of the wall* lies a much different magical world. The novel I understand does not include the closet-gay Air-pirate ship captain played by De Niro, but it was one liberty that the writers probably pulled off for the better. This one could have been, or possibly still may have a shot at some award mentions as I found it to have a lot of the accessibilty that you notice in films that the Awards-Season champions. I probably also will always associate it with when the 35W bridge collapsed on Wednesday August 1st as I was watching it while the news of that tragic event occurred.



The Lookout - Cleverly and dreamy shot film about a guy who has trouble recalling much of his recent memories due to an accident when he was in High School. He ends up mixing with a guy in his town who befriends him but then leads to false intentions as he proposes to rob the bank he works at overnight. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is definitely one of the better young actors today, and I found this film much more appealing than 2006's BRICK. Jeff Daniels and Matthew Goode both give solid performances as well.




The Valet
- Very funny and charming French film about a Valet who due to a random photo taken with a supermodel, gets mixed up in an attempt to expose an affair of a prominent businessman. This is another one of these engaging and lighthearted comedies I find reach our Art-house theaters in the States here that works really well. The dialogue is great, the women are more than easy on the eyes, Daniel Auteil puts on another fine performance as the guy who is easy to not root for and laugh at.


Death At Funeral - Slapstick and well twisted story of a funeral that Murphy's Law seems to be watching over at that precise time. From an accidental overdose of Acid, to an unknown gay love affair from the deceased that is an attempt at blackmail; this one does use some of the same jokes to the point of redundancy, but overall it doesn't end up hurting. The uncle played by Peter Vaughn, is worth enough laughs to see this one alone. Very British, and very much effective in what it set out to do.



Broken English
- The 2nd Parker Posey film I saw this Summer, and the better of the two. A very relate-able story about a woman who has never found love after many years. She seems stuck in her NYC life and bad date after bad date. One day she meets a French guy who seems to latch onto her. He at 1st lacked charm, but a bit like in KNOCKED UP, he does grow on you and to the point when he's gone, you want him back with her. She seeks him out back in his home country of France after quitting her job and the ending works perfectly. Any single people who seem to be love's bitch, may find this film highly appealing. I know I did.


The TV Set - A movie looked forward to for nearly a year after reading great reviews of it at the 2006 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. David Duchovny is a TV writer whose show is being shown during "Pilot Week" in the Spring. The show does manage to gain momentum that week, but not without a price. This story is clearly inspired by writer/director Jake Kasdan's personal experience with the fickle prime-time network television industry of the past and present (he was involved with the short-lived cult show "Freaks And Geeks"). Anyone whose ever liked a show that got cancelled or wondered why a show is so popular that don't like should really see this movie. A similar situation to Corporate radio, it exposes what can happen to a great story (or artist) by demand and money. The cast is also good reason to see this starring Sigourney Weaver (not too different from her role in WORKING GIRLS), Judy Greer, Justine Bateman, Ian Gruffud, and even Philip Baker Hall. There are two scenes in particular that floored me. One was the tv show being shown to 20 different people in a room, the guy giving the instructions was hilarious telling these people, including this old grandma about controlling this rating knob the people were given to rate what they think of the show. He captured a lot of the way Gary Cole is in THE OFFICE..ya know "mmkay?..that would be terrriffic" and then this other short scene in a mall they have this woman ask random people about a name for a TV show and if they'd watch it. She goes over a bunch of names and then one she asks him "would you watch a show called 'Call Me Crazy'?"and the dude goes "yeah, because the dude is fucking crazy!" If you're a Christopher Guest fan..or know the Kevin Bacon film "The Big Picture" this one could be right up your alley.


Fay Grimm - Good cast starring Parker Posey and Jeff Goldblum especially, I didn't realize going in that this was a sequel/follow-up to "Henry Fool" which at times it really could have helped to have known that film's story. The previews made it seem comedic, but it actually was a lot more dramatic and action-oriented than I was expecting. Parker Posey is under pressure by the CIA to find her ex-husband who is not as they learn, in the USA anymore. She flees after him with her brother-in-law whose a nobel-prize winning author. This one has more in common with THE FUGITIVE than BROKEN ENGLISH, but overall it still works. And especially if you're a fan of the 1st, it's one to try and see.



Nancy Drew
- Cute and charming depiction of the classic mystery seeking teenage girl. It is not cliched or one to take things too seriously or obnoxious attempts at slapstick. No, the VERONICA MARS comparison can be made to extent, and that's not a bad thing (unlike BRICK which may have been). Being a Disney film, it does have it's adolescent direction, but as a whole there is more depth to notice than most of the films aimed at that demographic. Definitely better than your Nickelodeon or Family channel movie of the week. Emma Roberts may have a bright future ahead of her if she doesn't fall into the Sarah Michelle-Gellar trap that Kristen Bell may be headed unfortunately.



Knocked Up
- I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening of this back in April and was pretty impressed with it being more than just a film to stare at Katherine Heigl. Although, that was certainly a reason to go, but a lot of the jokes worked and I think solidifies Judd Apatow as a filmmaker of this era to be thought of now. Seth Rogen's character definitely grows on you throughout this movie. The only issue I still would say is the length being over 2 hours. I probably would go for another viewing since the theater was not exactly quiet and I remember missing a few lines here and there due to the broadcast laughter by others there. The response was maybe greater than THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, and justifiably, but I didn't expect it to be as big after seeing this one. Will it receive Awards mention? It's release time may kill that, but a lot of people most likely will be jotting it down on their list come next Winter.

Some that were not bad films, but do not compare on my list to the above.

Interview
Factory Girl
Color Me Kubrick
Puccini For Beginners
Harry Potter And the Order of the Phoenix
Spiderman 3


The films caught in between seasons:

Alpha Dog. Ben Foster should have been nominated for an Oscar for this one. Very moving, dark film that may have not received the amount of discussion it deserved. Justin Timberlake CAN ACT as proof here.

Children Of Men - I liked the use of King Crimson and the Pink Floyd nod. The filming/photography was worth seeing, but I'd recommend people see Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN instead from Alfonso Cuaron. The only character you actually like or notice development from is Michael Caine's character. A very dark, hard-to-watch, and confusing picture in the end.

Little Children - I wrote about this one last Winter. Kate Winslet is quite good, but different. Todd Field has a certain style, and having been a fan of IN THE BEDROOM, this film definitely shares some elements to that story. I'm glad Kate and Jackie Earl-Haley were recognized here, although in a way I'm also glad it wasn't Kate's 1st Oscar win since she has played roles that were probably even more deserving.

Anticipations
Rocket Science
Introducing the Dwights
Delirious
(Steve Buscemi)
Romance And Cigarettes (Winslet, Buscemi, 2005 Musical finally hitting theaters)
Grace Is Gone (John Cusack)
On the Road with Judas
My Name Is Bruce (Bruce Campbell)
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
Margot At the Wedding (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black, Nicole Kidman)
Fanboys (Kristen Bell, William Shatner
Be Kind Rewind (Michel Gondry and Jack Black)

Monday, July 2, 2007

2007 Midseason Report

Note: A podcast may shortly be followed:

Albums:



1. Kaddisfly - Set Sail the Prairie.
A work of art and journey of musical styles and flavors. Kaddisfly have broken through and grown immensely with this record. Having listened to it 100+ times over the last twelve months, speaks volumes for it's quality and demand to be played repeatedly. Like many classic albums, this one continues to grow on you and reveals new things about it over time and familiarity. The cracking chips for example in "Harbor" is a good example of that. Very much greater than the sum of all it's parts. And it has reached me on a spiritual level, which makes it worthy of my favorite record this year. The Summer, Fall, and Winter of 2006-07 will always be known for the time of Setting Sail on the Prairie for me.


2. Fair to Midland - Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True. A band I first heard over a year ago. Like Mew last year, I would say I benefited from time away and a 2nd assessment to fully gain the desire to discover this band. "Inter.Funda.Stifle" still is a well put together, complete record. And very much a big progression from this band's debut record. But it's amazing how some re-arrangements, polishing, and especially mastering can up the level of the impact of a song or band's sound as a whole. David Botrill does deserve a lot of credit for the clarity and improved tightness of these songs and quality of the compositions. It flows incredibly well, from headbanger, catchy melody, heavy-hook, to soaring ballad. They hit on all cylinders without excessiveness on every track. The versatility of Andrew their singer is a trademark on here; and really of the Fair To Midland sound. The concept could be loosely similar to Aesop's fables or other childhood fairy tales. As well, as the premise of the film "Big Fish" perhaps. Those fictional imaginings even translate to the artwork, with quotes and characters from each track on each page.

This is a record you can play over and over, infusing energy and adrenaline that is not frequently found from start to finish. At 48 minutes, it is a perfect example of less being more, leaving you for wanting maybe a tad more. That extra chunk is the only thing preventing this from taking the crown. But it's damn near close, as after 3 months, it's still reliable and sounds fresh to my ears and mind.


3. The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Meaning of and All Things Regarding Ms.Leading. Casey Crescenzo's first full length LP since departing from The Receiving End of Sirens, a band who seemed to capture a lot of his genius on the only record he participated in. Casey's 2006 precursor EP "ACT I" and debut of The Dear Hunter, became something that caught me by storm, thus building up more interest in this one. While this record is quite different in many ways from "Act I" it does display more of why I believe he is one of the most talented young songwriters to arise this decade, This record is an epic chapter to the premise of this project. It's a story of "Hunter" as he's known, trials and tribulations, mostly involving a callgirl. A Rock Opera of sorts, similar in the tradition of The Who's "Tommy" to an extent, but not as story-based literally. Where he shines is creating the beauty and magic of what Brian Wilson was known for. The happy, barbershop vocal harmonies, and 60's style melodies. Beyond those, many songs recall older styles like ragtime and country blues. Putting aside the lyrical use in "Red Hands," it is about as orchestral and melodic a song as you'll hear this year. Every radio station on the globe should be playing it. "Dear Ms.Leading" is another that the more you hear it, the more you love it. Really the entire record is without a boring moment. As much as this one is long, there is enough flow and depth here, that it really works immensely well as an Epic record.



4. 3 - The End Is Begun. In hearing this (finished demos from a promo) one for a few weeks now, it's clearly to me my favorite 3 studio record. It is without a bad song, and includes a handful of tracks that work extremely well. And like many addictive records, the songs definitely start to grow on you over a few times. Lyrically it seems somewhat cynical and politcal about the state of things globally and the future. But that does not detract at all from the flow and quality of the songs. "My Divided Falling" and "Serpents in Disguise" may be the two strongest tracks overall. The former being complex, progressive, and aggressive, the latter being highly catchy, but still having punch. Many other songs have that punch and muscle that make this a great record. "The Word Is Born of Flame" and "The End Is Begun" also have punch and the groove element that 3 are known for, along with an infectious march that soaks you into the feel and flow of the album right off the bat. Once more people get to hear this record, they may not be able to avoid acknowledging how polished it is. With their recent exposure opening for Porcupine Tree and the newer fans who caught on to the band when "Wake Pig" was re-released, this could be the breakthrough this band deserves finally.



5. House of Fools - Live And Learn. This debut record from North Carolina's House Of Fools is very impressive. Noted in "Alternative Press" in 2006 for being one of "100 Bands You Need To Know" this album took a bit of time to finally come out. But it was well worth the that time. A concept album of sorts, that deals with primarily introspective and social situations. It flows remarkably well, never dragging. Capturing a lot of what many of the Classic Rock bands did in the 70's, one will notice hints of artists like Queen and Paul McCartney. The vocals are mostly minimalistic, which seems to really suit the House Of Fools sound well. Ballads, interludes, Ragtime themes, and even just clever catchy pop songs all work perfectly from beginning to end. Tracks like "Until It's Over," "My Life Before Today," "Better Part of Me," "Kiss the Haze," and the title track give an incredibly uplifting feeling. "Go Down" "Coke And Smoke" and "Interested" are also three other incredibly infectious songs that include things like a piano part, or guitar melody that you seem to find yourself loving. This is probably thus far, the most notably overlooked record of 2007. Whether it is that way in a year or two remains to be seen, but in the mean time, this is one band and album I will not stop singing the praises of. It unexpectedly impressed me a ton. And will go down as one of the best debuts this year and a very significant release on that big day of March 6th, 2007.

The Next Group

Avoiding ranking these seems fine for now since we are only 6 months in and more importantly, none of these seems vastly superior to the others thus far. But all of these albums have been in regular rotation to an extent this year, having many songs to want to go back to and hear each.

Kiss Kiss - Reality Vs. The Optimist. Very flowing debut disc. The length is the only issue, but they do make the most of the 32 minutes it is. Quite original style of Chamber, Progressive, and PostHardcore you could say. Love their string melodies in "Stay the Day" and "Vagabond" especially.

Bloc Party - A Weekend In the City. Another record that flows exceptionally well. No bad tracks on this, although some of the songs at times can sound samey. But it turned me into a fan, reminding me what i love about bands like Muse and U2. "Uniform" is probably the most *progressive* and biggest winner overall on this one. Lyrically it is quite dark however.

Silverchair -Young Modern. It is being released in the US on July 24th, this definitely is not a disappointment for newer Silverchair and Daniel Johns fans. About four or five tracks really sound grandiose and catchy, including the two singles "Straight Lines" and "Reflections of a Sound."

Pain of Salvation - Scarsick. Hardly their best, but through time this record does get better and better. The biggest moments do rank up there in the history of the band's best work. "A Flame to the Moth" "Scarsick" "Idiocracy" and "Enter Rain" all are included. The rest of the album is part of this record's "sound" and may get even better over time. Maybe the most unusual track "Disco Queen" is one that probably qualifies already, as the that one includes some incredible moments.

Fields - Fields. Somewhat unknown, this british group share some of the best qualities that bands like Pure Reason Revolution and Mew have. The Vocal and songwriting approach. They aren't as *progrock-like* as them, but they have some of the heavy riffs those groups or bands like Muse or Bloc Party have. But also a very strong emphasis on acoustic and folks stylings. "Song For the Fields" is an obvious highlight, but tracks like "The Death" "Feathers" and "If You Fail We All Fail" are as well. An impressive debut record.

Aereogramme - My Heart Has A Wish That You Would Not Go. A Scottish band that was around for a number of years prior to this release, this one possibly has received the most distribution, but sadly it may be their last as the band announced not long after it's release their breakup later in the year. Maybe not necessarily a reason to martyr-ize a band, but there are a handful songs on this one. "The Running Man" maybe being my favorite. "Barries" "Exits" "Living Backwards" and "Trenches" all have some great moments. The ethereal and atmospheric. The pretty, ambient, and heavy riffs this band combines well, which is one of the best things I love about a band like Mew or Klimt 1918.

Stateless - Stateless. Another solid debut record from a UK band. This album has about 4 or 5 songs that I really like. The best probably being "Bluetrace" with it's buildup and layering. It reminds me of Pure Reason Revolution. It is one of those songs that got better over a few times hearing it. "Exit," "This Language," and "Running Out" are the other songs I frequently go back to as well. Not being familiar with much of DJ Shadow or Massive Attack, I still was able to get into this one surprisingly.

Blackfield - Blackfield II. The second record from Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen. This guy probably doesn't have as many huge moments on it than the 1st, but it seems to have more depth in quality songs. "Christenings" may be my favorite. A catchy tune. Other tracks of note, "The End of the World" and "Where Is My Love?"

Paulson - All At Once (reissue). Almost seeming like a guilty pleasure at 1st. This band have an impressive ability to create poppy hooks that work. Probably best on the track "I Knew You When." Fans of the over-the-top catchiness of Coheed And Cambria or even Men, Women And Children last year, may find the same thing with this album and that song especially. The reissued edition includes some extra songs, which ultimately makes it seem a bit lengthly, but more than half of the songs on it still really work. Tracks like "Miami Current" have a crazy synth bridge. "Just Shy" "Ultra High" "Voids" among them. The drummer Jeff Widner has one of the cleanest snare drum sounds I've ever heard. Similar to someone like Dino Campanella from dredg.

Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same. Another group who share elements of the Danish band Mew. The higher range vocal style, with ambient layering and a heavier guitar riff. The entire record I haven't found myself having to hear repeatedly, but a couple of songs especially they hit the nail on the head melodically. "Shadow And City Lights," "Surface," "Shoreline," and "Anything You Say" are the songs I found myself going back to.


The New Pornogaphers - Challengers.
In playing this one off and on over the past month, I have probably raised my level of interest in this band. Although, they are not a group whose totally blown me away, I can't deny their consistency. "Entering White Cecilia" "Unguided," "Myriad Harbour" are my early favorites, but especially the pieces Neko Case sings lead on really sound great. The production on this album impressed me as much as anything. It drops finally on August 21st.


The Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder.
Being new to this band and only listened to this album a couple of times, my feeling about it is probably not what it may become. But at least I can claim to like more than half of the 24 tracks it includes. Maybe the best of the Elephant 6 bands at putting together great Poppy Psychedelic Rock. Almost too much at times. They are one-part fun, one-part trippy, and one-part analog. "Beautiful Machines Part 3-4" "Crimson" "Sunday Sounds" and "Energy" are probably the early favorites. Definitely a competitor for Power-Pop record of the year.

Disappointments, uncertainties, and lower interest albums:


Battles - Mirrored. I haven't spent a ton of time with this guy, but among a lot of buzz, I have gone back to it a couple of times. Mood music for myself. It does remind me well of 80's Crimson/Fripp/Eno and The Residents for what that's worth. I'm not fully clear on why it's as popular as it is however, but I suppose I could say the same about some "Post Rock."


Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet.
Not a bad record compositionally, I just haven't found reason to go back to it. Lacking energy and flow unlike the last three records from this band. It was far too hyped up to fulfill my hopes and expectations. "Anesthetize" years from now might be a classic epic, but within the whole record it doesn't matter. Also it somehow feels far too short and might work better with more meaty songs.

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos. Not a classic record, but not quite as over-the-top as their recent work. Four songs work, one songs does not, and the others would work far better with a lot of editing and un-useful gymnastics. "In the Presence Of Enemies Part 1" and "Forsaken" are both well written. "Prophets Of War" has a strong hook, and actually the lyrics don't matter ultimately. The opposite could be said about "The Dark Eternal Night" possibly one of the band's worst songs lyrically ever, and it comes across musically as well. A song I don't foresee wanting to hear for a long time. "Constant Motion" has an acceptable chorus, but what makes it work is the outstanding bridge.

Marillion - Somewhere Else. Nothing like the classic "Marbles," instead this is a very slow and depressing album. There still are a handful of songs that work on here, but the overall feel and mood of this one prevents it from deserving repeated play. Kinda disappointing given how great their last record was. But not unlike some of their past history. Highlight tracks include "Somewhere Else," "The Wound," "A Voice From the Past," and "The Other Half."

Rush - Snakes And Arrows. With some buzz about this one being more reminiscent of their classic era, and a general hype about this one, the newest Rush record has not translated to be much different than their recent work. The style and songwriting is quite similar to 90's Rush and their last record "Vapor Trails." The production is better, but save for the instrumental "The Main Monkey Business" I cannot find anything on this one so far to want to go back and listen to.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - Se Dice Bisonte, No B├╣falo.
I have yet to go back to this many times more due to time and it slipping my mind. When I did play it, I was surprisingly impressed by a lot of it. Cedric Bixler sings on a couple of the songs. The 11+ minute "Please Heat This Eventually" I recall being the most likeable track. And while it still had some of the symptoms of the last Mars Volta record, it didn't meander to the same degree. Maybe one of the more overlooked albums so far by myself and others in 2007.


Jason Falkner - I'm Ok...You're OK.
A late addition here, I was up for this one at 1st as from the limited number of solo songs by him I have heard I have liked many. However, the entire disc didn't go that far for me. One or two tracks I recall liking, although I am not remembering which ones they were. But I do recall a lot of the songs having a cool melody but not quite going far enough and a lot of samey-ness. I probably need to give this one another go like some others though.


Chick Corea and Bela Fleck - The Enchantment.
Very much of a mood record for me. I need to go back and play it again, but I recall them quoting at least one or two pop tunes in a Jazz style. Not overwhelming, but not bad either. More of what you'd expect from these two.

Dean Magraw - Unseen Rain. Dean's latest with his trio. About 1/3 of this really works, including the Coltrane piece and the numbers that remind me of Pat Metheny. The rest kinda put me to sleep, but that may have more to do with how much of a *mood album* this is. I still find he shines a lot more live anyway.

Abigail's Ghost - Selling Insincerity. I want to like this band, and at 1st I was impressed by their diversity of kinds of songs. But the *influence* the recent Porcupine Tree has on this album and band's sound seems a bit too close to copying, rather than influence. Thus far, they seem too much like a Poor man's Porcupine Tree at best. Maybe I need to play it more.

Circa Survive - On Letting Go. The vocal style hasn't changed enough for me to like this band. The songs and production is a step-up at least, but ultimately it doesn't make a difference. I may never be able to call myself a fan of this band until Anthony Green stops singing for them.

Portugal the Man - Church Mouth. I have sampled this but wasn't getting a sense of a lot of progression from their last. The Mars Volta copying will probably have to end if my interest will continue.

Menomena - Friend And Foe. I'm new to this band, and am not fully clear how I feel about them. Their last record I seem to really like, but the one time I put this on, I recall being bored to tears. Maybe it requires more time.

Dominici - 03: A Trilogy part 2. I heard it once, and as much as I loved the guy with DT, and the 1st effort seemed adventurous; this album is not my thing anymore, if it ever was. Very much like "Train of Thought" from Dream Theater, but it's not even Dream Theater.

Slavior - Slavior. I love Mark Zonder as a drummer, and some of the music here I recall liking. But the singer is too much butt-rock and it suffers from too much of an old-school Metal writing approach. Mark, that's wonderful this came out, but I still hope you have interest in doing that "Alfa Dog" project with Gary Wehrkamp from Shadow Gallery.

Glory Opera - Equilibrium.I was suggested this is a band who captures the Andre Matos-Angra style really well. Maybe so, and maybe their singer is better than the average Power/Prog Metal vocalist, but I was lost in over-indulgnece and cheese. Maybe this style has left my tastes, or for the people who make those comparisons, they are not hearing what I do. More power to them. I may want to give it another go eventually and see if my mind changes.

EPs
The Apex Theory - The Lightpost EP. This is a remarkable piece this band seemingly have refined and re-identified themselves with. A 15+ minute epic track, it hardly seems to last that long it flows so well. It is the springboard to the upcoming full length "Faces" due out in September.

Portugal the Man - It's Complicated Being A Wizard.This was like one long trip-hop noodlefest gone bad and drug-induced. And then repeated as individual songs. Nothing that I recall that would warrant any repeated play.

Haven't Heard:
The Pax Cecilia - Blessed Are the Bonds
Alan Morse - Four O'Clock And Hysteria
The Bad Plus - Prog
The Aliens - Astronomy For Dogs
Amaran's Plight - Voice In the Light
Machinehead - The Blackening
Thought Chamber. Angular Perceptions. I like Ted Leonard a lot, but the music sounded incredibly like recipe prog.
Between Two Skies - A Thousand Conscious Moments EP

The 2nd Half's biggest anticipations:
Coheed And Cambria - No World For Tomorrow
The Receiving End of Sirens - The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi
King's X - Go Tell Somebody
Oceansize - Frames
The Apex Theory - Faces
The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath

Questionable:
Superior - New World Order
dredg
Pure Reason Revolution
Mew
Anathallo
Enchant
Doves
Ours - Dancing For the Death of an Imaginary Enemy
Margot & the Nuclear So And So's - Animal!
Klimt 1918
Imogen Heap
Andre Matos
Shaaman
Karnivool
Demians - Building An Empire
Opeth
Orphaned Land - ORWarriOR
U2
Peter Gabriel/The Big Blue Ball
Janus
Bend Sinister
Revere
Kaura
One Republic

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sorry it's been so long..

There should be a handful of reviews in the next few weeks. And to add, the music-related reviews, blogs, etc will be cross-posted over at Channelinthestreet.com as well.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

2007: The Year of Kermit the Prog

2007 is looking to be a HUGE year for new albums and music in general. In recent years Progressive Rock has seen a gradual resurgence in cult fanbases and even among the demographics who are into more popular kinds of music. "Prog" once was looked down upon, now is becoming somewhat cool again. Music listenors are grasping onto bands who are into playing music that makes you think. This new year of ours could see the biggest resurgence in visibilty and accessibility to Progressive music. The following records are among the key releases the fans may look back on 2007 for being a significant year for Progressive Rock.


Kaddisfly - SET SAIL THE PRAIRIE
Release Date: March 6th, 2007
This is the 2nd full length on Hopeless Records for Oregon's Kaddisfly. A concept record that has fourteen tracks, twelve of which each represent a separate month on the calendar and a location on a map. The music itself is quite diverse: ranging from soaring ballads to headbang-able crescendos. Each song, like each month, has a flavor of it's own. The experience hearing this record from beginning to end is a journey. It truly is a record that is much greater than sum of all it's parts. In many cases Kaddisfly are a band who effectively grow on you with repeated listens. Their previous record "Buy Our Intention: We'll Buy You a Unicorn" had many of those same qualities, but it's clear how much this group has learned and matured from that previous album. And to note, "Set Sail the Prairie" is the 2nd of a planned Trilogy of albums conceptually. The trilogy of songs off the previous album "Buy Our Intention: We'll Buy You a Unicorn," "Set Sail the Prairie," and "Horses Galloping On Sailboats" are a map of the groups recent past, present, and future in song and in potential experience. I believe this record will put this band "on the map." All that is required now is time.
Track Suggestions: The whole record. Sampling: Campfire, Via Rail, Forest, Harbor, Empire
Recommended If You Like: dredg, MuteMath, Coheed and Cambria, Enchant, Oceansize, Minus the Bear.
kaddisfly.com
myspace


Pain of Salvation - SCARSICK.
Release Date: January 30, 2007
This has been a long awaited full length album from this Swedish Metal band. Ever since 2002's "Remedy Lane" the band haven't released a traditional studio album; with 2003's live acoustic record "12:5," and 2004's highly conceptual Opera of sorts "Be." The people who do know this group have wanted another classic full length recording to feast upon. With this album, the band seem to be "progressing" in it is an album that has them still being quite different than their previous work. Pain of Salvation are a band about growing, changing, and trying to push envelopes in sound and in art. Highly political, it is not easy to ignore the messages founding member Daniel Gildenlow is expressing here about American society and it's impact on the rest of the globe's lives. Beyond the messages and the politics, there still exists many elements to value on this release. There is Pain of Salvation's trademark experiemental vocals, odd time signatures, and infectious use of heavy and melodic; thrash with beauty, and Daniel Gildenlow's large spectrum of characterized vocals. Among the songs, the opening title-track catches your attention. "Disco Queen" is a song that like this album, may grow on you as an older and new listenor. On the surface it sounds like it's a sarcastic tribute to the Bee Gees, however, within the whole piece it has some of their most ironic and brilliant work. How does a band write a song that sounds like you should dance to it, and then it becomes emotionally charged thrash? Somehow this band manages to pull it off without it turning into a mess. "Flame to the Moth" and "Idiocracy" are two other pieces that over time will stand out. And the closer "Enter Rain" some may find to be best heard like meditative hymn, may grow on you like many of their other songs. It's also not to be forgotten this record has been proclaimed the 2nd Chapter of "The Perfect Element" story. The previous part, which was released in 2000, is to some, the band's most moving achievement thus far. Over time, this chapter, may carry on that feeling until we hear more to the story.
Track Suggestions: The whole record. Sampling: Scarsick, Flame to the Moth, Idiocracy, Kingdom of Loss, Disco Queen
Recommended If You Like: Dream Theater, Faith No More, Fates Warning, Opeth, Tool.
painofsalvation.com
myspace


Marillion - SOMEWHERE ELSE
Release Date: April 9th, 2007
The follow up to 2004's doubled-sided opus "Marbles" which was possibly their most well received release in many years. This new record I imagine seeks to continue on with the quality of craft of that record. MARBLES was an album very polished and with much depth. This upcoming album on the surface does not have a similar structure. But in recent times, Marillion have not necessarily found depth and large scale epics to be their only if not best quality. Beneath so much of their progressive rock roots, this group has always been about infusing incredible levels of passion and surreal melodies. They are as much a clever pop band as a tight collection of musicians. Steve Hogarth frequently comes up with moments that etch in the listenors brain long after they have heard them. 2001's "Anoraknaphobia" and 1999's " Marillion.com" were both records that recognized the band could be Progressive and still emphasize good songwriting. Many bands like to stress how their current record is not entirely like, but still a reflection of their last. "Somewhere Else" does not have any lenghtly pieces as Marbles did, but it may echo some of what their recent albums all had in them.
Track Suggestions: Somewhere Else, Wound, Voice From the Past
Recommended If You Like: Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, Genesis, U2.
marillion.com
myspace


Release Date: April 24th, 2007
Porcupine Tree - FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET.
This highly anticipated record includes mostly material that the band performed live on their fall tour in 2006 to support their 1st live DVD "Arriving Somewhere." From many accounts, the material has the group going into some territory they have yet to explore. In recent years, they have incorporated a lot of heavier elements into their music. Frontman and founder Steven Wilson's experience and relationship with Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt, has impacted Porcupine Tree's sound as much as anything. 2002's "In Absentia" sonically was very impressive, but also showed how much different the band could be. From many accounts, this one may exceed that amount of emphasis even more. Particularly the epic "Anesthesize." Porcupine Tree craft clever songs and touching melodies with atomsophere and adrenaline. Spacey hard-rock with loops and layers. There are many things to notice about this group's music, and with each release, their comes more reasons to listen. On 2005's "Deadwing" the band included guest performances from King Crimson's Adrian Bellew and Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. On this upcoming record, the listenors are treated to contributions from King Crimson's Robert Fripp and Rush's Alex Lifeson. If for no other reason, those names add more interest for this one.
Track Suggestions: Anesthetize, Sentimental
Recommended If You Like: Pink Floyd, Radiohead, King Crimson, Marillion, Muse, Mew, Rush.
porcupinetree.com
myspace


Rush - SNAKES AND ARROWS
Release Date: May 1st, 2007
The famed Canadian Power Trio's return to the studio in a few years may embark upon a new zest for ideas and interest in the band. From some reports this new record has the band incoporating many elements of their classic periods. The band at one time were one of the most visible Progressive Rock groups. From the buzz among fan communities, this album could be much different than their most recent modern-rock sounding efforts. The band themselves have even mentioned the great energy and creative juices that they put into it. We may see a return to their progressive past with it. No matter, Rush have always been about trying to move forward, and this very well may be their best effort in many releases at doing so. The impact of Neil Peart and Alex Lifseon listening to some newer Progressive Rock groups like The Mars Volta and Porcupine Tree, may have influenced some of the direction of this one. That could raise the level of curiousity, and of how much this album reflects that.
Track Suggestions: The Main Monkey Business, Far Cry
Recommended If You Like: Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Muse, Led Zeppelin.
rush.com
Neil Peart's myspace


Dream Theater - SYSTEMATIC CHAOS
Release Date: June 2007
The Ninth full-length album from NYC-based quintet Dream Theater marks a new chapter in their history. The band recently signed to a new record label, RoadRunner Records, and seems to be expanding their fanbase with each album and passing year. By some, their classic period was their early days, while other fans have caught-on in the last few years to enjoy the band. They don't deny their influenced by the original Progressive Rock bands, but as much if not moreso by older Heavy Metal and many modern Rock and Metal bands. There is a lot to digest and emphasize about this band's sound. Many enjoy their astute musicianship, while others find the musicianship complements their melodic side. The fact the band seem to have found this upcoming release to be a "new chapter," may suggest it to be their most significant album since 1999's "Scenes From a Memory." That record clearly was the band attempting to make a statement, and go-in with a new approach. This new record may be much in the same, in that just when you think you know what to expect from Dream Theater, the band manages to turn your head again. So don't be surprised to see another strong statement from this group, largely considered the most visible "Progressive Rock" band to surface in the last 20 years.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Tool, Metallica, Queen, Steve Vai.
dreamtheater.net
myspace

Coheed And Cambria - Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow
Release Date: Fall
This new record (unofficially titled "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow. Part Four of The Amory Wars (Volume 2)") from Upstate NY based Coheed and Cambria is highly aniticipated by many. This group is known for it's records connecting through a Science Fiction story accompanied by a graphic novel. Their music is highly catchy, and not without flash and flare. With each record, they seem to have developed more tight musicianship and strong songwriting. 2005's "Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV: Fear Through the Eye Of Madness" was a marathon of hook after hook, melody after melody, and crescendo after crecendo which by the time it ended, you wondered how there could be anymore to the story. Their new release may flow and progress even further. This band just knows how to kick your ass with complexity and some of the most mindblowing hooks ever recorded. I would not be surprised to find this record in heavy rotation among many new and casual listenors' playlists for quite awhile.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: The Mars Volta, dredg, Dream Theater, Rush.
coheedandcambria.com
myspace


dredg - TBA
Release Date: Fall 2007 (tentative)
Dredg are a four-piece group that has changed and evolved an incredible amount over their history with three studio and one live album. They are constantly adding colors and layers to their style and sound that it is very difficult to pinpoint how to describe their music. 2002's "El Cielo" was a concept record involving many different factors. Inspired by the artwork of Salvador Dali, it trancends the visual, but also reaching in and telling the heartfelt story of many suffering from the condition of sleep paralysis. 2005's "Catch Without Arms" examined many challenges the band faced as professional musicians, as well as reflecting upon their recent success of the previous record. The next album might have them introducing new elements to their sound, but also including what made their last two records great. Organic touches of strings and horns. The vocals have been a big part of their sound. Gavin Hayes seems to be improving a ton with experience and age as a singer and writer. Word is he is to play some guitar as well on this new album. Like every other dredg studio release, this album will have a concept. The concept and beauty that has come from this group's past, very easily could standout again with this one.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: The Mars Volta, Marillion, The Police, U2, Tool, MuteMath.
dredg.com
myspace


Oceansize - TBA
Release Date: Fall 2007 (tentative)
This newer group from the UK have impressed many with their wall-of-sound layering and psychadelic trips. They truly have a "big sound" and when embraced, will slam right it into your brainwaves like you didn't know what hit you. Adrenaline is clearly involved, but their sound still manages to segue into the gentle and melodic. Both of their previous full-lengths have orgasmic moments that will not allow you to forget. However, each one also seems to be inkling on the potential that there is a more complete work to come. They could put-out a record soon that may become the trademark release which often happens early in a band's career. Oceansize's 2007 output may result in that.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: Pink Floyd, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Kaddisfly
oceansize.co.uk
myspace


Mew - TBA
Release Date: Fall 2007 (tentative)
Surreal, ethereal, dreamy are all qualities one could describe the danish band Mew. Four releases, but really only known well for two full-lengths. There seems to be a ton to enjoy about this band's music. "And the Glass Handed Kites" seems to have two sides to it of different flavors. The first side is very flowing and energetic. The second more mellow and inconsistent. The previous album, "Frengers" was an introduction to most fans outside of Denmark. It has a ton to like, but also could be foreshadowing with more to come. The band seemed to be inspired by some darker and heavier things with "Kites." With their next recording they may combine the influences of both of these albums, but at the same time "progressing." They could be on the brink of a classic in their near future, possibly what they put out in 2007.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: Porcupine Tree, Sigur Ros, Pure Reason Revolution, Muse, Yes
mewsite.com
myspace


Pure Reason Revolution - TBA
Release Date: Fall 2007 (tentative)
An "epic subconscious space tale" is one description of Pure Reason Revolution's debut album "The Dark Third" from 2006. In its many different versions, it managed to flow and capture many listenor's attention. What will come next is uncertain, but this ensemble seem to have enough ambition to potentialy conceive something more bold. The Trip-Hop element may surface more prominently based on a bonus track "Golden Clothes," which was included on the newest version of their debut disc, just recently released on InsideOut Music in Europe. For all the momentum they gained through almost a year of support of The Dark Third, the sophmore effort could bring on even greater reason to be jazzed about how "Ace" this group is.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Muse, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin.
purereasonrevolution.com
myspace


The Mars Volta - TBA
Release Date: Summer 2007 (tentative)
The fourth full-length LP from this somewhat contraversial ensemble was written at the same time as their most recent record, 2006's "Amputechture." Largely influential and highly experimental, fans have seen this group continue to change and expand on their influences. The Rick Rubin produced debut "Deloused in the Comatorium" was rather impressive for a first output as well as being different than most commercially visible music. The follow-up "Frances the Mute" met more contraversy, but also more praise at times. More epic in scale and length, The Mars Volta added a lot more color. The record that followed that one seemed to be an attempt at combining the experimental side of FRANCES and the flow of the their debut, but ultimately may have fallen short. Some of the best ideas may have been held over for this fourth studio release, saving for the fact their drummer Jon Theodore has left the group and been replaced live three times, most recently by Berklee College of music alum Thomas Pridgen. Like their previous three, this next record is to be another concept album. This band have enough ideas and talent to potentially top everything they've done. By the end of this year, we may see that.
Track Suggestions: N/A
Recommended If You Like: King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Coheed And Cambria, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes.
themarsvolta.com
myspace

Like in most years, many unknown groups pop-up, but in support of how much progressive music could come out this year, and how much depth 2007 could have for this style of music, here are a number of other groups who are noteworthy bands to look for albums out in 2007:

Kiss Kiss: This NY-based ensemble released an impressive debut LP in February "Reality Vs. the Optimist" that is one of those albums that seems to be more than the 32 minutes it clocks in at. RIYL: King Crimson, Queen, System of a Down, Murder By Death

House Of Fools "Live And Learn" was released in early March. "The Flaming Lips trying to cover the Beatles in a Rock Opera" is one reasonable description. RIYL: Queen, 10CC, Ben Folds.

The Dear Hunter 1st side-project turned full-time group for former The Receiving End Of Sirens member Casey Crescenzo. The debut EP released in 2006 is the springboard for the first full-length Chamber Rock chapter. RIYL: The Receiving End Of Sirens, The Beach Boys, Queen, Coheed And Cambria, dredg.

Klimt 1918 Gothic progressive Hard-Rock. 2005's "Dopoguerra" was a breakthrough for this Italian band. the follow-up is anticipated to come out sometime in 2007. RIYL: dredg, Katatonia, Mew.

Superior German Progressive Metal band have a new album coming out in May called "New World Order." This is their first release in nearly five years. RIYL: Dream Theater, Savatage, Pain of Salvation, Metallica.

Fair To Midland The first fully distributed full-length release "Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True" is expected out in early June from this Texas-based band. David Bottrill produced it, who is known for work with the likes of Tool, Peter Gabriel, and King Crimson among others. RIYL: dredg, System of a Down, Opus Dai.

The Receiving End of Sirens The follow-up to 2005's classic "Between the Heart and the Synapse." Key singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Casey Crescenzo is gone, but the band managed to tour and now write another album "The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi" expected out in July. RIYL: The Dear Hunter, Coheed And Cambria, Kaddisfly, dredg, Circa Survive.

Demians Brainchild of french musician Nicolas Chapel, the long awaited debut release "Building An Empire" could finally be available in 2007. To note, french metal band Gojira is on the same record label as this group; and Gojira over the course a few months became very popular. The same may hold true for this band soon. RIYL: Devin Townsend Band, Pain of Salvation, Peter Gabriel.

Janus Somewhat unknown Chicago-based progressive metal band. 2004's debut "Armor" showed some potential. The band have a new record in the works which many of the songs they have on their myspace likely will include. RIYL: 3, Coheed And Cambria, Rage Against the Machine, Circa Survive.

Anathallo is anticipated to make the follow-up to 2006's well received "Floating~World." Chamber-Rock of a sort, this group has always put out impressive music, which lends one to not question the beauty and quality of their next album potentially out in the fall of 2007. RIYL: Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Frank Zappa, dredg, Sufjan Stevens, Revere, My Latest Novel.

Margot and the Nuclear So And So's have a large collection of songs written for the follow-up to the debut LP "The Dust of Retreat." Song-oriented chamber-rock. Plenty to like and "progressive" about this large ensemble. RIYL: Anathallo, Sufjan Stevens, dredg, Ours, Revere.

3 have spent some time recently in the studio working on the follow-up to 2004-05's breakthrough "Wake Pig." The neext album is expected to come out in June on Metal Blade Records.RIYL: Coheed And Cambria, King's X, Janus.

Enchant remain an active and still somewhat underground Neo-progressive Hard Rock band. They have been working off and on their next full-length album to follow-up 2004's "Tug of War." Word is it may be released by the fall of 2007. RIYL: Rush, Marillion, Dream Theater, Coheed and Cambria, Kaddisfly.

Bend Sinister hail from Vancouver, BC. Very unknown, yet impressive for a band so early in their history. A full-length or EP could manage to come in 2007 for this band who have had a bunch of new songs on their myspace for awhile. It will be the follow-up to a classic debut record "Through the Broken City" that came out in 2005. RIYL: Queen, The Mars Volta, Jeff Buckley.

Ours have worked for nearly five years on the third full-length record "Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy" which was announced the title early in 2007. It is only a matter of having their record label's situation put in ink as to when the album comes out. Likely to be the group's most "progressive" and diverse album, many of the songs have been played for years live. RIYL: U2, dredg, Jeff Buckley, Jellyfish.

Opeth, swedish progressive black-metal group are anticipated to release the follow-up to 2005's "Ghost Reveries" sometime late in 2007. RIYL: Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Katatonia.

King's X have a twelfth studio album expected out as early as the Summer of 2007. "Go Tell Somebody" it was mentioned on a recent myspace blog, is the title. An interview given recently, singer/bassist Doug Pinnick talked about how this album has a large Beatles and classic King's X influence. RIYL: Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Beatles, Fishbone, Living Colour.

Andre Matos Band Andre Matos, formerly the frontman/singer/keyboardist/composer of Brazilian Progressive Metal bands Angra and Shaman is expected to release a solo debut album in 2007. A demo is available to stream on his website. RIYL: Dream Theater, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Savatage.

Blackfield is maybe Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree most welll-known and accessible sideproject with Israeli singer/songwriter Aviv Geffen. "Blackfield II" was released early in 2007. Although more stripped down and song-oriented than Porcupine Tree, there are a lot elements of Progressive Rock with this band and their newest release. RIYL: Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Nick Drake, Depeche Mode.