Monday, December 31, 2012

Shelter Red New Studio Video

I've been reading updates on facebook from this band about their new record for maybe close to 2 years, and as of the last couple months, their yet to be announced titled new album is nearly ready to go. Recorded/Tracked etc..maybe mixing and mastering along with stuff like artwork and a track order (and a title) are needed. And then of course HOW it gets released. Bandcamp? I could see it anyway.

But for those unfamiliar, Shelter Red are what I may call a progressive post metal band of a sort who made a really great record in 2009 titled Strike a Mortal Terror. And with a band like Russian Circles sort of jumping a shark or two, and Long Distance Calling last record not being quite what I hoped, I'm hoping these guys have a new record to fill that proggy post metal fix.

But of course, once all the details are available, I'll be sure to add another new entry with them. But just a heads up about the video and for myself and others to keep Shelter Red in mind as far as upcoming records for 2013.

Steven Wilson Band Spring 2013 Tour Dates (incl Minneapols)

12/31/12 9:35AM

On sale: Friday, January 11 at noon CST


So, there it is. I still would be surprised if many of those media sources say much about it, or still even list it. And by some chance they do, what are the odds they refer to his band as "Prog"? not a guarantee.

How much 1st Ave is involved beyond that listing is not clear either. But maybe, just maybe, if PT comes back and/or this show does well, those folks will take note and book them in the Main Room next time. But let's see how well this is promoted 1st, and how well the ticket sales go. I worry the ole WALKUP thing may occur and thus, it won't be viewed as well as it should.

Personally, 2 things have come up since in that as well for me:

a) this show falls on my girlfriend who-hates-most-prog 's Bday. But, given how late this and some others factors, hopefully my schedule will allow both celebrating with her and this show.

b) I suggested to Bend Sinister that they open. Joseph Blood of the band actually messaged me on Facebook and sounded intrigued by the idea. Now, whether the others involved are, and the logistics work out are totally unclear. But it certainly can't hurt to mention.

12/28/12 8:09PM

This announcement just came out earlier today, and I posted it on facetwitterbook, but not in here given I was flying home from Arizona just after it got announced.

And of course the big part of this is the fact his band is actually coming to Minneapolis for the 1st time ever, and Steven is coming back to Minneapolis for the 1st time since Porcupine Tree played a 500+ sellout at the Fine Line in May of 2005.

Now of course I'm happy to see his band, even though his solo work has not blown me away like a lot of Porcupine Tree, or even some of the 1st 2 Blackfield records. But he has a different band, different from PT obviously, but also different from the band he went out on tour with a few years ago. But this tour is to support his new album The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), which if I recall features among others, drummer Marco Minneman and Guthrie Govan who may be worth going to this show alone for,

But, the other thing just to bring up about this show/tour is I am likely WAY OFF BASE here, but for some reason, Steven's band does come here now after the many remarks I've made (along with others online of course) about how the promoters haven't booked Porcupine Tree and now his band in town here. Although, as much as I'd like to believe my online voice did have something to do with that; I suspect some of the reasons why his band is coming here is because it is NOT Porcupine Tree.

1) Whatever the promoters that never brought PT back here thought, in this case, the NAME Porcupine Tree does not exist in this booking, thus it's a totally new artist to test out in our (fly-over-land at times) market.

2) Whoever is promoting this show in Minneapolis, which I don't know yet, but I don't think it's Sue McLean as it's not listed on Sue's website, may not know how often Steven's bands have skipped coming here, nor of course the 2 shows in 2003 (with Opeth) and 2005 500+ in attendance (Sellouts, albeit much due to WALKUPS, but none-the-less, SELLOUTS still)

3) This is not being held at First Ave, The Varsity Theater, and/although thankfully not Station 4, The Cabooze (nor The Entry for that matter) due to Steven's name is not as big as Porcupine Tree. If PT were coming here, I suspect The Fine Line  and the promoters WOULD NOT BE OFFERING THEM ENOUGH MONEY (meaning Steven's band, and people who work for his band ala The Agency Group) to play there. In other words, if Porcupine Tree were coming back, they really ought to be paid what a HEADLINER at FIRST AVE or at least THE VARSITY THEATER would get. Perhaps The Cedar Cultural Center as well. Gawd I'd love to see some of those lemming hipsters try and show up to see Steven and his band play those 15 minute epics and have them complain, lol. But in truth, The Cedar would actually FIT rather well for Steven's band. As would a jazz club, although I'm certainly glad The overpriced work of The Dakota didn't try and book his band as I bet the tickets would be like $50, lol.

The venue that would have been ideal for this show probably would have been The Triple Rock (or The Whole Music Club at the U of MN) but maybe given PT did play The Fine Line back 8 and 10 years ago they were the venue Steven's people remembered.

4) One other obvious reason why this show ended up here and not skipping us, is the shear fact Steven's band doesn't have back-2-back shows/nights in Chicago like on 2 or 3 of those PT tours in the past. Why that is, again, might be due to his name not being as big as Porcupine Tree, thus those promoters who booked Porcupine Tree at The Park West back-2-back shows (like Marillion last Summer) were a little gun shy given the name of the act is STEVEN WILSON and not PT. Also the fact Steven's music has not received much distribution in the States, if any. I imagine the KScope folks may have to get some kind of distribution deal with a NA distributor to have that happen. Maybe with the new record that'll happen. But as far as I know, the only copies I've seen of Grace For Drowning and Insurgentes were special orders. And the live albums/dvds? I haven't seen any of them show up at Cheapo or The Electric Fetus at this point.

All in All, it is quite good news about this show and tour, a 17-date tour of North America, which I recall his other North American tours maybe being about 5-10 shows max.

Another point to add, that may be not clear on with myself and Steven Wilson's live shows. I do want to see him, but I HAVE SEEN HIM, with PT 5 times, so this show/tour and seeing him and would have seen PT the past 6 or 7 tours of the US, while it is and would have been nice. I AM MORE PASSIONATE ABOUT HIS BANDS COMING TO MINNESOTA FOR OTHER FANS IN MINNESOTA WHO NEVER HAVE SEEN HIM/PORCUPINE TREE LIVE.

I'll repeat



Because let's be honest, outside of the 1st generation of progressive rock (Yes, Rush, Genesis, Pink Floyd, etc) the biggest progressive rock has become is Dream Theater and maybe acts like Tool and The Mars Volta to an extent. Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson represent the closest thing to having prog and prog within prog-circles (NOT college prog like dredg, Fair to Midland, The Dear Hunter, Coheed, etc) get mainstream. I mean Steven has been nominated 2 or 3 times for Grammys (5.1 mixes I recall), he's worked with a lot of huge names in Classic and Prog Rock (Tull, ELP, King Crimson..even Rush to a smaller extent), and so if progressive rock ever receives more of a mainstream level of recognition, Steven and PT are maybe the closest it may ever get.

Now will 89.3 start playing his music or Porcupine Tree (or Blackfield even which might be the most accessible)? Pretty much no chance. Radio K? almost no chance as well. But if Steven is going to make his solo band really his longer term focus like it seems, he may by just some freak chance, find he makes music (or even just 1 shorter song) that the mainstream grabs on to. Although his solo music seems extremely far from songs like "Trains" and "Lazarus" it seems rather unlikely. But, I suppose pigs may find themselves flying one day too.

I will predict though the only media source that will list his show at The Fine Line on May 4th will be Citypages won't give a shit, nor will the music journalists for the Strib and Pioneer Press (although if Ross Raihala did, I'd be less surprised than the likes of the 2 Strib columnists. And this show is being held in Minneapolis too, lol). Nor will 89.3 list it on their calendar, however, perhaps I can try and add a submission manually like I at least tried to for the Coheed/BTBAM/Russian Circles show.

Also tickets? Ticketmasochist has the show listed for sale, but no way in hell am I considering paying those disgusting fees, at least before checking with The Electric Fetus, which I called and they said they should have tickets for sale, but they are unsure when. I'm thinking maybe 1 of the next 2 or 3 Fridays. I may even try going down there tomorrow and asking about them again.

03/01/13 Manchester, Lancashire Academy 1 United Kingdom
Address: Manchester University Union, Oxford Road.
03/02/13 Glasgow, Lanarkshire ABC Glasgow United Kingdom
Address: 300 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
03/04/13 London, Greater London Royal Festival Hall United Kingdom
Address: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road.
03/08/13 Paris, Paris Le Trianon France
Address: 80 Boulevard de Rochechouart.
03/10/13 Cologne, Köln Live Music Hall Germany
Address: Lichtstraße 30.
03/11/13 Melkweg, Amsterdam Rabozaal Netherlands
Address: Lijnbaansgracht 234.
03/12/13 Antwerpen Arenberg Schouwburg Belgium
Address: Arenbergstraat 28.
03/14/13 Hamburg CCH Saal 2 Germany
Address: Am Dammtor / Marseiller Straße.
03/16/13 Stockholm Filadelfiakyrkan Sweden
Address: Rörstrandsgatan 5.
03/18/13 Oslo Sentrum Scene Norway
Address: Arbeidersamfunnets Plass 1.
03/19/13 Copenhagen VEGA Denmark
Address: Enghavevej 40.
03/21/13 Berlin, Hasenheide Huxley’s Germany
Address: Hasenheide 107-113.
03/22/13 Essen, Altendorfer Straße Colosseum Germany
Address: Altendorfer Straße 1.
03/23/13 Frankfurt, Neu-Isenburg Hugenottenhalle Germany
Address: Frankfurter Straße 152.
03/25/13 Stuttgart, Siemensstraße Theaterhaus Germany
Address: Siemensstraße 11.
03/26/13 Munich, Theresienhöhe Alte Kongresshalle Germany
Address: Theresienhöhe 15.
03/27/13 Zürich Volkshaus Switzerland
Address: Stauffacherstr. 60.
03/28/13 Milan, Assago Teatro Della Luna Italy
Address: Via G. Di Vittorio, 6.

04/16/13 Tampa, Florida The State Theater United States
Address: 687 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. On Sale Soon
04/17/13 Atlanta, Georgia The Variety Playhouse United States
Address: 1099 Euclid Avenue Northeast.
04/19/13 Glenside, Philadelphia Keswick Theatre United States
Address: 291 North Keswick Avenue. On Sale Soon
04/20/13 Washington, Washington D.C. Howard Theatre United States
Address: 620, T Street Northwest.
04/21/13 Buffalo, New York Town Ballroom United States
Address: 681 Main Street. On Sale Soon
04/23/13 Toronto, Ontario Phoenix Concert Theatre Canada
Address: 410 Sherbourne Street.
04/25/13 Montreal, Quebec Club-Soda Canada
Address: 1225 Saint-Laurent Boul. On Sale Soon
04/26/13 New York City, New York Best Buy Theater United States
Address: 515 Broadway. On Sale Soon
04/27/13 Boston, Massachusetts Berklee Performance Center United States
Address: 136 Massachusetts Avenue. On Sale Soon
04/30/13 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mr Small’s United States
Address: 400 Lincoln Avenue. On Sale Soon
05/02/13 Cleveland, Ohio House of Blues Cleveland United States
Address: 308 Euclid Avenue. On Sale Soon
05/03/13 Chicago, Illinois Park West United States
Address: 322 West Armitage Avenue. On Sale Soon
05/04/13 Minneapolis, Minnesota The Fine Line United States
Address: 318 North 1st Avenue. 
05/06/13 Boulder, Colorado Boulder Theater United States
Address: 2032 14th Street. On Sale Soon
05/09/13 San Francisco, California The Fillmore United States
Address: 1805 Geary Boulevard. On Sale Soon
05/10/13 Los Angeles, California Club Nokia United States
Address: 800 West Olympic Boulevard. On Sale Soon

05/14/13 Mexico City Teatro Metropolitan Mexico

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brief Fates Warning Update

b-mouth link

Guitarist Jim Matheos of U.S. progressive metal icons FATES WARNING has issued the following update:

"I'm happy to say that all the music for [the new FATES WARNING album] is now written (finally!). Still some lyrics to do, but we're close. Looking forward to sharing this with you in 2013."

Not a ton there, but it does confirm there is or should be a new record coming in 2013. Of course I'm jazzed about it, although I do suspect there will be a lot comparisons to the Arch/Matheos record Sympathetic Resonance, from 2011.

It'll be nice to finally hear music from Ray Alder that I will likely enjoy again. But we'll see. It seems like it's been ages since 2004's FWX . This album also should feature new drummer Bobby Jarzombek who played on the Arch/Matheos record of course, and has been playing live with FW off and on over the last 5 or more years.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

dredg - The Making of Catch Without Arms DVD?

12/27/12 1:36PM (Mountain Time out here in AZ)

haven't downloaded or watched it, but it's great to finally have it come out. Now the HISTORY of the band thing? who knows if that'll ever happen, but I'm happy to see anything at this point.

3/24/12 7:32PM

been talked about for years, hopefully this footage which Drew Roulette, their bassist, uploaded a few days ago is a sign the damn thing finally will be available. Whether it's a just Making of CWA or the "History of the Band" thing he told me and some others about a few years ago, I guess we'll find out. That footage looks like just CWA stuff, but anything at this point would be great to finally see.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Off Topic: The Mayan Prophecy 12/21/12 5:12PM CST

I should post this to the non-music blog, but for now it'll just go here.

Everyone keeps mentioning it is thought to be the End of the World aka Apocalypse. But if I recall, the belief is it's not supposed to be the end of everything, but instead, We Are Supposed to ASCEND TO SOMEWHERE ELSE. Which technically is not the same thing.

I would like Darren "Dutch" Daulton to come out in the next 24 hours and say something, just to humor some of us.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Singles of 2012 (per Sound Opinions Message Board)

Here's a list I submitted like a week ago for their Singles poll. This is a list, but it also is not by any stretch an accurate list of  what I felt were the absolute BEST SONGS OF 2012, because it was only just what I voted for in their poll. And SOMB end of year poll is restricted to songs that were

a) released as an actual single albeit digital or hardcopy cd, lp ("7. "10 or "12 etc)

b) an official music video was made of the song

Now, I'll fully admit, I stuck in a few that did not technically fall under either of those categories, but I at least regarded as a single since the artist had the song available for download in some fashion.

I'd link up videos and whatnot, but I'm not really looking to use the amount of time to track those all down right now. I'll say, most of these can be found on Youtube or Bandcamp (or both). Or by just using Google of course.

72 Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra | Trout Heart Replica
71 Anneke van Giersbergen | Feel Alive
70 Bloc Party | Octopus
69 I Mother Earth | We Got Love
68 Biffy Clyro | Stingin' Belle
67 Dead Letter Circus | Wake Up
66 Neverending White Lights | Ghostship (feat Hot Hot Heat)
65 Hammock | Parkers Chapel (feat. Brooke Waggoner)
64 O'Brother | Lo
63 Timmy Sean | It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas
62 Early Ghost | Cadaques
61 Annuals | Bother
60 Sucre | Hiding Out
59 Rush | Headlong Flight
58 The Beach Boys | That's Why God Made the Radio
57 Kimbra | Come Into My Head
56 Cloud Cult | All the Things We Couldn't See
55 Bend Sinister | Don't You Know
54 Minus the Bear | Your Private Sky
53 Neverending White Lights | Goodbye
52 Kimbra | The Build Up
51 Archive | Violently
50 Imogen Heap | Xizi She Knows
49 Oedipus | Kiss on the Fist
48 Radical Face | Always Gold
47 Mutemath | Prytania
46 Mother Falcon | Just To See Her Smile
45 Everything Everything | Cough Cough
44 Miracles of Modern Science | Eating Me Alive
43 Emanuel & the Fear | My Oh My
42 Menomena | Plumage
41 Memoryhouse | The Kids Were Wrong
40 Diablo Swing Orchestra | Voodoo Mon Amour
39 Revere | Keep This Channel Open
38 Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra | Do It With a Rockstar
37 The Dear Hunter | Never Forgive, Never Forget
36 Muse | Follow Me
35 Water & Bodies | Fourth of July
34 House of Fools | Oblivion
33 Bloc Party | Kettling
32 Emanuel & the Fear | All We All
31 Local Natives | Breakers
30 Ramona Falls | Fingerhold
29 Pepe Deluxe | My Flaming Thirst
28 Miracles of Modern Science | I Found Space
27 Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra | The Killing Type
26 Archive | Hatchet
25 Team Me | Show Me
24 Majestyy | The Notion
23 Sucre | When We Were Young
22 Between the Buried and Me | Astral Body
21 The River Empires | Five Circles
20 Bend Sinister | She Don't Give It Up
19 Ours | Autumn
18 Mayer Hawthorne | Henny & Gingerale
17 Mutemath | Allies
16 Foals | Inhaler
15 Ours | Devil
14 Rush | The Wreckers
13 The Mars Volta | Zed and Two Naughts
12 Vuvuzela | Rings and Things
11 Brooke Waggoner | Ink Slinger
10 Imogen Heap | You Know Where to Find Me
9 Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra | Want it Back
8 Pepe Deluxe | Go Supersonic
7 Kimbra | Two Way Street
6 Pepe Deluxe | A Night and a Day
5 Forest Park | Golden
4 Anathema | Untouchable Part 1
3 Gatherer | Regular Frontier
2 Ramona Falls | Spore
1 Bruce Peninsula | Of Songs

Guante & Big Cats - You Better Weaponize (2012)

I finally got around to checking out this record after hearing a few different tracks on Radio K over the last few weeks. There was enough about it, I needed to check it out. And I may be getting a head of myself a little bit with this, but I am being reminded of when I discovered Immortal Technique and Revolutionary Volume 2 back in 2008.

Guante aka "El Guante" I have known about, for nearly the same amount of time as I have Immortal Technique. Except for the fact, I never remembered to pursue his music. But I can't forget, I want to say after talking to someone about Immortal Technique back on OKCupid who told me I might like El Guante. But she also said how El Guante thought IT wasn't very good or something. He had no flow?

Anyway, but finally hearing him on this, I think one big reason I do enjoy him, is he does remind me of Immortal Technique in some ways. Mainly in his articulate sense of preaching and posturing. I find his words and points, at least realistic and well informed. I suppose where he differs, are for one, his use of things about Minnesota. Which I suppose I have a bias since I am from there as well.

Also he doesn't seem as negative or as much about being pissed off, but concerned in a more down to earth manner.

I guess I'll give this more time, but just immediately, I can say I enjoyed nearly every track. The music (or "beats" as they say..frankly, I think the term "beats" should be done away with, and just use "rhythms" or "tones with rhythms" or something else), along with the pop-culture references, including a ton involving Minnesota.

The lines about every kid in the crowd looks like Jeremy Messermith and getting your song on The Current by the time your 30 had me rolling on the floor laughing out loud, haha.

This album seems to be poking fun, or exposing all the bad stereotypes about Generation Y and the Internet disease. And honestly, the way he's doing it, more people should hear it and it might make the whole Web and online-music culture improve.

He has a lot of guests on here, as well as many other records I have yet to hear. Maybe his other work is better? I don't know. But I hopefully will get around to checking it out along with spending a fair amount more time with this.

The people kissing the ass of P.O.S. and Brother Ali should give this a shot. Even the likes of Sims and Sage Francis, I find Guante (or El Guante) more my speed. It's great to discover an artist from my hometown doing more arty Hip-Hop. I'm not surprised by it, as Guante is a champion slam poet, which I'd be surprised many if any of the Doomtree artists can also claim.

1 To Young Leaders 3:22
2 Until There's Nothing Left (feat. Toki Wright & Crescent Moon) 3:34
3 Lightning (feat. Chastity Brown) 4:38
4 Underground Sex Party (feat. Kristoff Krane) 3:46
5 Other (feat. Chastity Brown, See More Perspective, Chantz Erolin) 3:55
6 Fireworks 3:51
7 Everything Burns 4:40
8 Straight Outta Genosha 3:34
9 Break (feat. Kristoff Krane) 4:20
10 A Leap of Faith Into a Bottomless Pit 3:22
11 The Invisible Backpacker of Privilege (feat. Chantz Erolin, Truth Be Told) 3:44
12 A Pragmatist's Guide to Revolution 4:12
13 Asterisk 2:06

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Media Addicts RIP

Hello world. Media Addicts plays its FINAL show tomorrow night (12/19) at the Artists' Quarter in St. Paul. It is a send-off to our dear friend Billy G.- guitarist for Media Addicts, as he will be moving to a bigger pond down the road (L.A.) in the coming months. Eric Miller, our original drummer, has also moved on to bigger and better things, whose part will be played by the great Jendeen Forberg. FYI, the first set will be an open jazz set with guests of Billy's choosing, then Media Addicts will hit immediately following. Again, this is your last chance to see this great band. Music starts @ 9pm

I can't be really all that surprised by this given I knew their drummer was leaving with his wife back to Montana anyway, after speaking with him at their CD Release show a few months ago. And one key member goes, it's never easy to replace them (why I am a little worried about The Book of Right On as well unfortunately..see Painted in Exile and some others whose progress has slowed since losing a band member).

And with Billy also going, I don't see how they are still a band, at least for now. Maybe a reunion will happen at some point. O well, damn.

I might add, here's another example of a far too talented and interesting group that NOBODY caught on to, save for some of the people in town who follow the Jazz scene. And I will fully confess I am guilty of not catching on to them early enough, as it really took til about 9 months ago where I fully got into them. I had their cd Elsewhere for a few years, and even saw it at KFAI, but I really wished I had seen them more often live and knew that album while they were still around.

I imagine there is these guys music, in whatever form, that may come in the future. Maybe David (sax) and Brent (bass) could form a new group? or maybe they could hook up with Mike Linden and JP from The Super Pilots who also are kind of not at a full-strength now here in Minnesota? IT'S WISHFUL THINKING I'll admit, but if the world somehow worked magic like I'd like, that maybe could happen.

Anyway, I shall attend their final show tomorrow night and maybe get a little more insight into what future they all may have music or otherwise.  And of course I will continue to enjoy both Elsewhere and their latest Autonomy, which finished rather high on my 2012 Index.

I will add though, I should credit my girlfriend with situations like these, as she's not crazy about getting attached to BANDS/GROUPS but instead SOLO ARTISTS. That way, this stuff is unlikely to occur.

89.3's "The Local Show: Critics Edition"

12/18/12 2:30AM

Edit: Here's the stream of it.

And for those not wanting to listen to all 2 hours, here is a transcript of this show.

Of course, I was right, as they didn't say a word about anything I submitted below. Not that I would expect them to, but it just goes to show, it's a numbers game, and perhaps the people who ran this thing on 89.3, may (likely do) not give two shits about anything I write about here in this blog.

I will say, it was kind of clear who I would side with among those critics. Raihala and even Reed Fischer I seemed to agree with more than the others. I actually always liked Ross Raihala when I used to listen to the Pioneer Press podcast he was on a few years back, and frankly, I've never gotten as much of a snobbish impression from him compared to some of the other music media in this town. Now, that doesn't mean he's not guilty of what many of the others are, but just from hearing his responses on this show, and remembering those podcasts back in the day, I definitely find his approach to be more inviting.

12/15/12 12:48PM
I was going to wait until after this special show tomorrow on 89.3 to actually publish this, but I'm deciding to do it now given I don't expect them to include anything from it anyway. And even if they do, I won't be able to hear it live since my family's annual Channukah party/dinner will be taking place during the time it will air (6-8PM). Perhaps they will put it on their website to stream, which will help. If that happens, I'll have to listen to it and link it up.

Every year on The Local Show, we do our critics edition to talk favorite local releases of 2012 as well as trends and predictions. This year, we're welcoming back Reed Fischer of City Pages, Chris Riemenschneider of The Star Tribune, Ross Raihala of The Pioneer Press and our very own Andrea Swensson to give us their takes on Minnesota music.

But we also need your opinions on the matter! Below, you'll find questions that the critics have been asked to answer, and David Campbell wants some additional ammo to bounce off the crew in the studios. We'll also choose one listener-submitted question for the critics to tackle.

Submit your responses by end-of-day Monday, December 3, and tune in Sunday, December 16 from 6-8 p.m. on The Local Show to hear the discussion play out.

Did the "super secret fraternity of local tastemakers/gatekeepers" get it right in 2012? If not, who was overlooked? I'm not sure who all is part of this "super secret fraternity" but I might infer whoever they are, they may be in to be put on "[double]/super secret probation" ;)

But if the question refers to the most known local music media:
-89.3's Local Show
-Citypages (both print and web)
-The music columnists from both major newspapers
 -Radio K's "Off the Record"
-some of the minnesota music blogs/sites

I'd say overall, no, they did not get it right. Why I say that is some of my favorite music that came out in 2012, was from Minnesota, and more or less none of these sources talked about them. These artists, that I'd say got overlooked would include the likes of Brice Plays Drums, Media Addicts, Mike Linden, Lehto & Wright and The Royal Veil.

Which artists or stories were overhyped in 2012? Who didn't live up to the hype they got, or was mentioned far more than was deserved?
-Owl City definitely. Awful mall-pop. This should in no way represent the kind of music Minnesota can produce. I really wish the local and national music media would stop talking about this project, as it's a huge waste of time to mine and many other music fans I know.
-The Velvet Teens: If for no other reason, but the fact there is a terrific band named The Velvet Teen, and this new local band of nearly the same name, makes music that doesn't even come close to comparing, or even being any good.
-4 on the Floor
-P.O.S. (if only this guy lived up to the initial P O and S like PAIN OF SALVATION, but he does not in much if any way) like a lot of local artists who somehow get big nationally, I find nothing about his music that is interesting. There are other, better local Hip-Hop artists (No Bird Sing, Lazerbeak, Guante) who deserve more attention than him and people like Brother Ali.

EDIT: these I forgot to include, but I find it worth adding here and now at least. I'm sure there are others I am not remembering, and if/when that happens I may also add them.
-Hayley Bonar She is a dime-a-dozen and yet the music media makes her out to be the next big thing in female singer/songwriter types. I hear absolutely nothing unique about her or her voice. Give me Alicia Wiley or Jenny Dalton among many others instead.
-Polica so their singer likes to use a vocoder? yeah, but that's hardly is new, nor means the vocal lines and songwriting is anything amazing.
-Trampled By Turtles: Boiled in Lead are SO MUCH better than this band, and not to forget, have been around MUCH LONGER. Why the music media and hipsters keep praising them to no end is kind of baffling. Boiled In Lead should be receiving the same amount (if not VASTLY more) of attention. But are they? of course not.

What were the most impressive live events that took place in 2012? What made these events great?
-Brice Plays Drums and The Super Pilots @ 400 Bar. This was a tremendous show, and probably the best local concert I attended in 2012. Maybe a lot to do with the fact The Super Pilots were a band I had never seen before, and they totally blew me away. They have this outstanding approach to Jazz-fusion that I can't help but be romanticized by in my love of groups like Return to Forever and Weather Report. And Brice Plays Drums, simply put, are my favorite local band right now. They put out my favorite local album each of the last 2 years, and they also deliver the goods live. I think there's far too many people who have no idea what they are missing by never hearing them. They are as talented a young band to come along in a few years, and have this incredible knack for composing epic songs with multiple-sections that segue unbelievably well. In other words, they are like a Minnesota answer to both Yes and The Mars Volta. And if even a fraction of the people became aware of them, that could and should, they'd have a chance to continue making a lot more music and play concerts like this down the road.

-Mutemath @ First Ave. What made it great was more or less what makes every Mutemath concert great. They bring tons of energy, it's never boring, they get the crowd involved, and they do these infectious group drum jams. And having seen them 4 or 5 times before, they somehow keep on matching if not topping each performance.
-Mayer Hawthorne @ First Ave. This show was great because he has this great vibe about him, playing to the crowd constantly. And his band is super tight. And like Mute Math, his music just has an added flavor to it live. The Stepkids were a fun opener, and Mayer even covered a Hall & Oates tune!
-Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra @ First Ave. Despite the lack of Soundproofed walls at First Ave, this show was highly memorable and engaging. Amanda's got a great band, plus the local musicians who came on and played with both her band and the opening/side musicians. She played most of her excellent new record "Theatre is Evil" and even did some incredible covers like George Michael's "Careless Whisper."
-Kimbra @ The Varsity Theater. Kimbra has a freakish amount of energy, her songs seem to almost take on a life of their own live. She played most of "Vows" including "Withdraw" which I was not expecting, but thrilled to see and hear live. But most of the songs she played, had these great new arrangements live, it was in some ways, like hearing them for the 1st time again.
-The Monkees @ The State Theatre. This was an incredibly unexpected EVENT concert for many including my girlfriend whose longed to see Michael Nesmith play live for over 26 years. And to have it finally happen, was historic. Their performance, including Mike's, was more or less flawless. They played much of both their "Headquarters" and "Head" records along with a number of other standards, and more obscure tracks. What  also added to it was the way they used Videos in the background throughout the entire show, including a couple of moments to spotlight the late Davy Jones. This show came on, and seemed to be over almost too fast, given the band didn't take a set break. It was maybe the shortest yet fulfilling 2+ hours of my and my girlfriend's concert going life.
-The Who @ Target Center. I just attended this concert last week, and I think it was almost unexpected how good and epic a show it was. The band performed their entire Quadrophenia record, in an entirely new way. They used video/audio clips and performances from both the late John Entwistle and Keith Moon, almost like they were in the building. The arrangements using a horn section really added new things to many of the tunes on that great record.

edit: this does not include the highly memorable 2-night event seeing Marillion for the 3rd and 4th times in Chicago. But that was not in Minnesota afterall.

Predictions for 2013: who's currently operating under the radar that's poised for a breakout year in 2013?
-The Royal Veil. They released a promising self-titled debut EP that fused different styles of psychedelic and progressive hard rock. And their debut full-length "King of the Ocean" is coming out early in 2013, and it is without question one-of, if not my most anticipated local album right now for 2013.
-The Book of Right On will release "How Many Ways Can You Say That You're Speaking" the album they were looking to put out in 2012, but due to the unforeseen setback of one of their drummers leaving, it didn't get released. But they as interesting a band doing progressive rock, that I've heard in many years. And having heard some their newest music live, I am totally excited to finally hear it on record. Hopefully some news about their drummer situation and this 2nd album of theirs will be announced soon.
-Greg Herriges and Telluric Currents: It's been nearly 4 long years since the release of 'Telluric Currents" an amazing record that fuses acoustic rock, folk, ethnic (East Indian, Greek, Japanese and others), and progressive music, molded into tremendous songwriting and moodiness. As a big fan of his, I am hoping 2013 will finally be the year he and his group (known as "Telluric Currents" now) follows up that tremendous album from 2009.
-Cloud Cult: Minnesota's most visible band doing progressive rock of late, and their last 2 albums especially have been among the best of their career. With that recent history, I can't see any reason not to be excited about their next album.
-Bubblemath. Will their long awaited 2nd album finally come out? a good friend of the band said it may finally.
-Between Two Skies: The same question desires to be raised to them as was Bubblemath.
-Elgin Foster: From talking to him, he has an amazing group of guest musicians like John Wright, Dean Magraw and others, on 1 or more records coming in 2013. I'm intrigued certainly.
-The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra: I guess they are working on their 3rd full-length record. Their 1st 2 are both really great records that combine elements of bluegrass, jazz and progressive rock. I'm definitely up for checking out what they have in store next.

Ask your own question to the critics. If chosen, they'll discuss it on the show.
Why is there so little coverage of progressive rock both on radio stations like The Current and Radio K, and in print?
For example, a few years ago, one of my favorite bands, The Dear Hunter, headlined a concert at The Triplerock Social Club. And other than one staff writer from, Jay Boller, I saw and heard absolutely nothing about it in both print and electronic sources. The Dear Hunter had actually even just made an appearance on National Television in fact, on G4's "Attack of the Show." So it's not exactly if they were a band who are totally unknown.

Why do you think some venues and artists never end up playing shows here? Specifically, why do you think a venue like First Ave doesn't book certain artists that may not be as "hip" to the Pitchfork audience? I'm referring to a few of the modern college-progressive rock bands such as Porcupine Tree, dredg, Fair to Midland and some others. These bands all have fan-bases that are large enough to show up at First Ave, and in some cases, have played other venues many times to sellout crowds, yet the promoters and the people who run First Ave specifically, don't seem to know about this, or care to book them. And I am awfully puzzled why. Porcupine Tree specifically toured the US I counted 7 straight tours where they skipped our town. And for some reason, had First Ave wanted to book them, they likely would have come here. But it never happened.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Something brewing for 2013...

I may look in to doing some more babble fests, if I am given the time to go to KFAI especially. I have a mic and software at home, but more likely, it'll be something to try when I can sign up and go down to the station. Perhaps even in correlation when I go volunteer at the library i.e. reserving a spot in the library between 5-9PM on a weekday evening perhaps. Or, perhaps do library work late on a weekend, etc.

Anyway, especially with the lack of success and frequency of epic rock talk. Although I don't think it's dead, but maybe just hibernation.

Anyway, I am thinking of even starting a new blog for said babble fest, and I have a potential name for it, lol.

KHIP..the ironic meanings and whatnot.

I also may look into registering a url or even blog title with "progsucks" in the name, haha.

These are just a few of the things potentially in my agenda for the near future.

I also likely will finally publish on rateyourmusic and in here, a "Eras" album list. I.e. a Best of the last 5 or 6 years albums list, which will consist of about 50 albums. Blurbs? I hope so, but I will try my best to keep them to a twitter-length.

And maybe even, especially after seeing some of the page-viewing activity of the old ones, I may try and get back to the Essentials series. I did maybe 6 or 7 of them, and have another 20 or more still written, lol.

Rush inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

12/13/12 12:35AM

I just stumbled upon an interesting website
Here's just a few things they provided about this year's Inductees

The good, the bad and the ugly of the 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee announcement:

The Good:

  • Quincy Jones was finally inducted into the Rock Hall. Whatever history there may or may not have been between Jones and the Rock Hall was set aside to do the right thing.
  • Public Enemy getting inducted on the first ballot. It may have seemed like a foregone conclusion, but the Rock Hall sometimes whiffs on these no-brainers.
  • Rush getting its first nomination and promptly getting ushered into the Hall of Fame, like they should have been there all along.
  • The death of the blackball. Will the inductions of Rush and Jones, and the nomination of Deep Purple, put to rest all of the conspiracy theories about a blacklist?
  • No back door inductions. The Rock Hall shouldn’t get credit for not doing something absurd, but we should at least acknowledge that all of the inductees are in their proper categories this year.
  • Keeping the induction ceremonies open to the public. Let’s hope this is a permanent change and that New York will get an induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden next year.
  • Involving Flea in the induction announcement. It’s a great idea to make a bigger deal out of the Hall of Fame induction process by including enthusiastic Hall of Famers like Flea.
  • The predictions. Maybe the Rock Hall is getting a little more predictable, but fellow Rock Hall expert, Tom Lane, nailed all six performer inductees back on October 25th.
  • Amazing. Our predictions are here.

The Bad:

  • The snubs. Let’s face it, the Rock Hall could have easily inducted 12 of the 15 nominees. It’s great that the Rock Hall is now inducting six performers instead of the usual five, but the back log of snubbed artists keeps getting longer and longer. 
  • The ballot rules. Why does the Rock Hall let its Voting Committee only vote for five names when there are going to be six inductees?
  • The Rock Hall completely neglected the Early Influence and Musical Excellence categories this year. This is puzzling, since there are still plenty of deserving candidates.
  • Speaking of Early Influences, the Rock Hall still hasn’t set up a “Veteran’s Committee” or “Pioneer’s Committee” to properly address the pre-Elvis era. This should be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame since no one would be opposed to this. There likely won’t be a live stream available of the induction ceremony since HBO holds the rights to the edited broadcast. The Rock Hall was ahead of the curve on this back in 2007, but they have given in to their broadcast partners.

The Ugly:

  • The comments on the Rock Hall’s Facebook posts.
  • The Rock Hall’s handling of the announcement press event. No live video of the announcement? Are you serious?
  • Rolling Stone infuriating every other publication by jumping the gun on the announcement embargo.
  • The official fan poll. Joel Peresman announced that there were over 500,000 votes from the public, but that only counted as a single ballot among the 600 cast (or is it 500?).
  • The 50% “rule.” The Rock Hall still has on its website that inductees are required to appear on at least 50% of the ballots to be inducted. This is demonstrably false. Like any other year, there are things to criticize about the inductees, but on the whole, this year will be seen as a positive step for the Rock Hall.

The list of "Snubs" is quite interesting, as it's kind of a summary of a lot of the artists that have been eligible, and how often they even got nominated. Many artists have been eligible for well into 2 decades and still have not even been nominated once.

Artist            YE     Nom
Afrika Bambaataa   7   1
The B-52's 8 0
Bad Company 13 0
Barry White 14 0
Big Star 15 0
Björk 10 0
Black Flag 9 0
Bon Jovi 4 1
The Buzzcocks 10 0
Can 19 0
The Carpenters 18 0
The Cars 9 0
Cat Stevens 21 1
Cheap Trick 10 0
Chic 10 7
Chicago 18 0
Connie Francis 29 0
The Cure 9 1
The Dead Kennedys8 0
Deep Purple 19 1
Def Leppard 8 0
Depeche Mode 6 0
Devo 9 0
Dick Dale 25 0
Dire Straits 9 0
The Doobie Brothers 16 0
Duran Duran 6 0
ELO       16 0
ELP 17 0
Eric B. & Rakim 1 1
Eurythmics 6 0
Faith No More 2 0
The Flaming Lips 3 0
Gram Parsons 20 3
Hall & Oates 15 0
Harry Nilsson 20 0
Hüsker Dü 6 0
INXS 7 0
Iron Maiden 8 0
The Jam 10 0
Jan & Dean 27 0
Jane's Addiction0 0
Janet Jackson 5 0
Jethro Tull 19 0
Jim Croce 21 0
Johnny Burnette and the Rock N Roll Trio 31 0
Journey 12 0
Joy Division 9 0
Judas Priest 13 0
Kate Bush 9 0
King Crimson 18 0
KISS 13 1
Kraftwerk 16 2
Linda Ronstadt 18 0
Link Wray 27 0
LL Cool J 3 2
Love 21 0
The Marvelettes 26 1
Mary Wells 26 2
MC5 21 1
Megadeth 2 0
The Monkees 21 0
The Moody Blues 23 0
Mötley Crüe 6 0
Motörhead 10 0
My Bloody Valentine 2 0
N.W.A 0 1
New Order 6 0
New York Dolls 14 1
Nick Cave 3 0
Nick Drake 18 0
Pantera 4 0
Peter Gabriel 10 0
Peter, Paul & Mary 25 0
Pixies 0 0
Procol Harum 20 1
The Replacements 6 0
Roxy Music 15 0
The Runaways 11 0
Scott Walker 21 0
Silver Apples 19 0
Slayer 4 0
The Smiths 4 0
Sonic Youth 5 0
Soundgarden 1 0
Sparks       16 0
The Specials 8 0
The Spinners 26 1
Steppenwolf 19 0
Steve Miller Band 19 0
Stevie Ray Vaughan 4 0
Stone Roses 2 0
T. Rex 19 0
Television 12 0
Thin Lizzy 16 0
Tommy James & the Shondells 21 0
War 16 2
Warren Zevon 18 0
"Weird Al" Yankovic 8 0
Whitney Houston 3 0
X 9 0
XTC 10 0
Yes 18 0
The Zombies 23 0

12/12/12 5:30PM
A couple of links of streams/discusssions:

edit: I still mean to elaborate on this either in this entry, or another. Time of course, that elusive thing. Hopefully either tonight or maybe tomorrow sometime. I will quickly add, I for some reason think Jethro Tull is the next prog band that will get in. Why I say that is they were more accepted by the masses and hipsters than Yes for some reason. They won a Grammy and just don't receive the wank stereotype that Yes (and ELP even more so) receive, thus more people will probably vote for them. But to me, other than Purple and some other early/heavy Psych/Prog, YES is the obvious next name that should get in.

Anyway, hopefully more soon about that.

12/11/12 1:35PM

Rush, Heart, Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Donna Summer, Quincy Jones and Albert King. No Deep Purple or Procol Harum (or NWA for that matter). I'll add more later, mainly about PROG and the Rock Hall, sort of updating the Genesis post from a few years ago. But in the mean time..


Why not for the rest: Sorry Rush fans (some of whom already begrudge me), but those musical wizards haven't cast their spell on rock outside of their fanatical fanbase. Kraftwerk’s influence is cultish, and its albums are generally overrated. Joan Jett and Heart are among’s rock’s greatest heroines but were otherwise not all that pioneering or unforgettable musically. The Butterfield Blues Band also did not brand much original music nor was it a major presence. The Marvelletes and Procol Harum are B-listers at best.

hey Chris Riemenschneider, care to eat some crow?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar 1920-2012

can't believe so recently, 92 year olds Dave Brubeck, and now Ravi Shankar. The same age, and both legends in their genre. RIP #RaviShankar

I can't lie in that I have known about his legend for many years, and have listened to some of his music, sparingly, but NOT NEARLY AS MUCH AS I SHOULD.

I even purchased, for like $1, his Live at Monterey International Pop Festival record on Vinyl. According to my friend John, he more or less was the best performer at Monterrey in '67, besides Hendrix.
But since I don't own a turn table yet, I can't play the record yet.

And of course he toured frequently, and eventually retired, but then came back, maybe more than once according to my friend.

Damn, Brubeck, Ray Charles, and many other legends who peaked long before my time, but still were around and played my hometown, and I never saw them :(.

His daughters are still around of course, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar. Although from my friend's accounts, when Anoushka would play with Ravi, the shows would always dropoff when Ravi wasn't playing.

O well, he did live a full life. RIP and Godspeed Ravi. There likely won't ever be a sitarist like you again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 Editorial Part 1

I think it makes sense to go into detail a bit more about this year, and things. When I started this blog (or when it started, I came along like a week after it was), I was looking to write about any and all forms of entertainment and media that crossed my mind. Music of course being the largest. And at some point, I found myself doing a pretty good job, even though it started to evolve into less about reviews, and more about news, because of the nature of the web, people want to know when something is new/news.

Was it out of desiring attention? maybe, but not primarily. But inevitably, when I realized this blog receives many hits by some hard to believe chance, but largely due to the fact blogger, blogspot, etc are in bed with Google.

But fast forwarding, as I wrote at the beginning of 2011, I took on a brand new kind of job, for the 1st time in my life. Up to that point, I did, to put it simply, Data Entry work, involving many things, but the Medical/Insurance field was a large part of my work. Especially when I started working for the employer I still work for, back in 2004.

Data Entry work, especially with Insurance Bills, is a big right brain/left brain kind of work. You more or less look at different information like dollar amounts, dates of birth, and CODES, and often so they are matching what is on the bill, into the software and database, etc. It is pretty straight forward, although there are rules to learn, and that change off and on, for the most part, once you know the rules and get used to finding the right info to KEY in, it's easy to do that, and then the other side of your brain can focus on something else, like music or talk radio.

This is what I did, and have done. It's not rocket science, it's not something I went to college to learn to do,  but it became something I discovered I could do, do fast, and do efficiently.And over time of course I learned a lot of standard things, just about said types of Bills and insurance, and specifically in my hometown.
So I got to do that, pay my bills, through ups and downs, often using a lot of the disposable (and maybe not so disposable) income on my addiction to music and music related things.

Anyway, but in 2011, the new job I took required more of my brain work to do. First off, it was a new position, and I was in effect training for a year or more. What it was, was not so much Data Entry, but Data Analysis and more coding rules involving paying, denying, and explaining details about Insurance Bills.

Many others I saw take positions like this, from where I came, so I figured, why not me? And in some ways, learning/training was easy, given some of the simpler work, thus I found time to do the right brain/left brain stuff. But training ended for the most part at the end of the year.

So 2012, there was more responsibility on my shoulders to produce and know how to do my job. And that factor, led me to just not be able to do as much listening to music for long periods of time. In other words, I had countless times in 2012, I would put an album on, and within 10 or 15 minutes, I'd have to pause it and focus on my work. And it would happen, a lot more than I was used to in 2011 and especially in my old Data Entry work.

It can be kind of frustrating. And I just came to the point this year where I didn't care anymore. I just could not slave away trying to listen to X number of albums a day/week because my job was more important. Now mind you, I still listened to a lot of music, especially considering I worked a shit ton of Overtime. Just a guess,  but I would guess I earned 1/4 of the amount of money just in Overtime this year. There's a lot more as to why that is, but I am not really at liberty to go into details about that.

But I can add, part of it is desire to listen to albums. When I get to work in the morning, I login, get some coffee or hot chocolate or whatever morning beverage and quasi breakfast I seem to have (sometimes none, sometimes M&M's, sometimes cold pizza, sometimes a banana and hot chocolate, or on the best days/back-in-the-day, a toasted bagel with cream cheese which I kind of discovered was a bad addiction to have/moderation probably was best).

I'm just going to go out and say this. I really don't think I'm a very good writer. I know I'm not, and I don't intend to come across as one. I never got a college degree. Although I often found English as something I liked, but I also found I hate/hated being edited. Constructive criticism, right? But I guess I don't see it that way. The way I see it is, the point of just being able to communicate. No matter how poor the grammar, spelling, facts, structure, terminology/knowledge, repetition is.

I'm sort of caught between a rock and hard place in a lot of ways. And I feel masochistic. I suppose I see myself as doing a dayjob to pay my bills, and doing somewhat well actually, if not thriving in my own way, as responsible to just take care of myself. I did try and go into Radio, back in the 90's by interning at KFAN and then with KFAI, and both experiences didn't end up as I hoped. But then, maybe I learned from trying them, what I hoped they would bring me, wasn't actually all desirable anyway.

I guess another way to put it is, I think I should have my taste reflected in media. Music, for example, I should influence if not be directly or indirectly involved in at least some of the music on a station like 89.3. It goes back to the point I made a few weeks ago about that station. It's not only that they don't play the music I love, but unlike a corporate station, they actually COULD play stuff like Kevin Gilbert and Marillion, but CHOOSE NOT TO. And I did apply to DJ there, but there's no way in hell I would have given up my dayjob and the vastly more secure employment, for working there. But I still thought I could be like a part-time DJ or even just work part-time with the people who run the station.

And I earlier this year sent an email to their Program Director, suggesting they do a feature about blogs, local blogs. The problem is/was, I was too cryptic in my email, and actually, it read poorly. Which really struck me hard that night about how poor a writer I can be, if not often. That experience, along with about a year ago, pursuing writing for and they more or less having the same exact reaction to my writing, kind of hit me how poor a writer I can be. And that this whole extensive, time consuming work I do here, might actually be as pedestrian and amateurish as I wondered.

It's almost like, the traffic this site receives, is not intended for the writing, it's just intended for the names and albums/songs/videos it shares. And that I could just become like any other cliche blog out there, and have nothing to say personally, and have that just within those names.

So, like I should just post about Marillion and their album Sounds That Can't Be Made. And just say, it's good, and nothing else. Or not even say it's good. Just post, and post, and post with no opinions, no details, because the actual attempt at writing about them is too inept to even have value.

I also add to the whole caught between worlds, in that my taste seems to be a dichotomy as well. To put it as simply as I can. When I mix with the prog folks, and prog metal folks, my taste isn't prog enough for them.  Just trying to review for Progression magazine earlier this year is proof of that.

I mean if artists want me to review their music, I either am just being nice, or too shy to be brutally honest. I come across as being so prog-centric, but the truth is, most of the stuff overtly prog that has come out, especially in the last 10 years or more, I find totally fucking sucks. It is a chore to listen to. Blah Blah Blah. I almost think by not wanting to review the album, says that itself.

But I'd also say when among hipsters or the p4k, 89.3, Radio K, Sound Opinions, and many other message boards, my taste doesn't work too well either. Unless the music is hip enough for those college rock addicts.

So I'm sort of caught in no man's land. If I made a festival, it wouldn't be called prog nor would it be a p4k approved festival. It just would be the stuff I'm into, which call it college prog, or call it just interesting rock music, or whatever, but I also sense I'd be like the only person who might go, or at least would be a fan of the majority of the artists playing.

I guess I'm just trying to enjoy music and entertainment, while now finding the many ups and downs of a relationship. Paying bills and budgeting, trying to eat healthy, live healthy. Sometimes with entertainment being so trivial to others, but not to me, I think I may not have a choice but to agree with their stance. It's just music. It's just television. It's just a movie. There are a lot more real world/real life things, that are more significant. But for the longest time, this entertainment was/is my best and only escape. And so, I wanted it to be what I did as much as possible. But if it did, it might not be as enjoyable. It might feel like a *job*.

Someday, I've said for years, I want to retire and do 2 primary things. Watch films and do this as a job in terms of time. Namely listen to Jazz and maybe Classical music. Perhaps at that point, I could also do a radio show. It may depend on just cost of things for me, and what other agenda I may have like volunteering or something.

But the idea of just working in something totally unrelated to music and entertainment, to try and save up and retire some day to do ultimately, may sound crazy and unrealistic, but maybe I will find myself able to do that.

Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 Album Index: ****'s or better

There's an Editorial/Confessional/Soapbox post sort of coming, if time allows. But just for the actual bread and butter of this whole ordeal, here's the Index and blurbs for now.

23 Debashish Bhattacharya | 'Madeira'
I saw this East Indian musician sort of on a whim from a friend of mine's suggestion, as he was coming to The Cedar Cultural Center to open his US tour this October. And his show was both jaw-dropping and mesmerizing at the same time, or throughout. He plays this really unique style of slide guitar, I don't recall ever hearing before. It sounds rather Indian-classical, and translated unbelievably well on the style of slide guitar he plays.

And this album it was announced, was a special limited printing release. Something like only 500 copies were printed I guess. So I couldn't pass up the chance of picking up a copy. And after seeing that show, listening to this was in a lot of ways, more of the same.

Some of the intricate and jaw-droppingly fast playing on this I cannot help but be in awe of. Specifically,I'd say the last 1/3 of the opening 16+ minute title piece, along with mostly the entire 2nd piece "Morninggait."And then mostly all of the 3rd track "Jhoom" which includes some wonderful tablas.

Debashish plays some of the fastest and highly technical music I've ever heard. It's really incredible how quickly he moves-on/plucks the strings, with precision and ease it seems.And to think this is the only record of his I've heard thus far. He has a sizable discography on his own, as well as collaborations which among them, one of the credits is the Remember Shakti record.

Of Songs cover art

22 Bruce Peninsula | Of Songs
This is just 1 track the band recorded and went up for sale on their bandcamp page. But it clocks in over 12 minutes and is of the tradition of a lot of multi-part progressive rock compositions.It very well may be the best individual song released in 2012, at least that I heard. It has the Bruce Peninsula tribal drums and percussion along with wonderful gang vocals.But I think they put out something new and unique here, with different textures and the segues working extremely well.

It's a prog epic of a sort, but it's also blending the traditional BP sound, with Post Rock and ambient music. And it's very polished and inspiring. I'm not sure if the "Of Songs" refers to a number "of" songs the band had ideas for, and then managed to transition them together well. Because I think it may be their best composition yet, and I hope there's more where this came from down the road.

21 Water & Bodies | American Dream [EP]
Excellent production and very polished songs. "4th of July" is both dreamy yet in-your-face at the same time.
I actually think this may be the best collection of songs they have made since forming this group under the Water & Bodies name.ther tracks:
"Over Under" has its epic and dreamy moments as well.
"Not Alone" has that echoing chorus that always stays in my head.
"All I Remember" is a tune that almost could be something U2 wrote, perhaps around the Joshua Tree period.

This is just a great, polished collection of songs, that for the 4th year in a row, shows the guys write and record songs I enjoy listening to. I think W&B's are 4 guys who I just enjoy hearing the music they are making, even if it's not Kaddisfly. Chris Ruff has one of those voices that is always enjoyable to listen to. And Aaron Tollefson always comes up with melodic guitar lines that make the songs all the more better.

I'm rather excited to hear what they may do next year, perhaps their next full-length. It wouldn't surprise me it's as good if not better than this.

Dyed In The Wool Ghost cover art
20 British Theatre | Dyed in the Wool Ghost [EP]
This is a wonderful follow up to the Self-Titled EP from earlier in 2012. And I would say everything about that 1st EP got better on this. I might liken this in some ways to more of the lighter Oceansize music, but adding more loops and textures. The electronic rhythms work incredibly with the music.

Pretty much all 5 tracks on this EP I find I love in at least 1 or more ways. Perhaps with the electronic side, and some of those huge harmonic and melodic peaks that I loved with Oceansize often. Many of them are incredibly dreamy, I can't help but get goosebumps.

From some of their posts online, a full-length is not far away for these guys, and I think if the stuff on it compares to this EP, I may not miss the absence of Oceansize quite as much as I have the past few years.

19 Hotel of the Laughing Tree | Mammoth Skin, Pt. 1 [EP]
I've become rather Fanboy-ish for Hotel of the Laughing Tree, really since getting so attached to 2011's incredible debut LP Terror and Everything After. This EP came out just a little over a week ago, and I've probably listened to it more than any other release since that time.

Plain and simple, this is in a lot of ways, a continuation in the quality and much of the style of Terror. These guys are just on a roll to me, as every track on this album I am enjoying more each time I hear it. The only small issue is there is a tiny bit of clipping with the cymbals at times, but I noticed similar moments on Terror as well, and it overall didn't matter.

I'll mention some specifics, if for no other reason, I haven't yet given it just came out.

"Make Waves" starts out with this static, but once it gets going, it seems more and more catchy each time I hear it. It's really a playful tune that includes some trumpet and trombones that the guitar harmonizes and echoes it sounds like, really well.

"People That We Please" is another great riffy blues rocker track, with big, emotional vocal parts, that sound like they were doubled and/or using gang style.

"Flowers and Lawyers" has among different parts I like, this great clappy almost latin section that is really catchy. I just love that fun section every time I listen to it.

"Waterfall Games" is an epic track. It has this opening tribal percussion that Local Natives could have used, easily. And I love the way it goes back and forth between that percussion and these heavy echoing riffs. What follows are nice vocal harmonies, which then climax to AJ doing these HUGE vocal chants, which came often on many tracks off Terror, and have returned really well again with this song..

"Brotherly Thunder" is probably my favorite track among all 5 of these songs. Like Waterfall Games, really great, thick bluesy guitar riffs set the tone.It eventually transitions into a quiet section that AJ has the words "I'd like to talk to you one more time, my favorite part of you" then crescendos to a great guitar solo which these guys (Brandon Peterson I suspect) seem to come up with often. The track then goes into a quiet vocal section with distortion and some organs which close with some static, ending the EP like it began.

This is as I posted a few weeks ago, "Pt. 1" so, if the stars align, perhaps it's going to be followed by something else that will tie-in. Hopefully even in 2013. I really love this band, even if they have had some members leave and lineup changes. I think their core sound remains on this EP with AJ Estrada and Brandon Peterson especially.

The music industry may not catch on in huge ways to these guys, but if at least they can continue making music, especially that they believe in, and are not forced to rely on the industry part of making music, the sky may still be the limit. At least in the near future, as this EP is proof they are making some of the best music/or music I enjoy as much as any artist right now. And if they are able to still record stuff like this, even if it's not every year, but every few years, I cannot complain.

18 Godspeed You! Black Emperor | 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
My take on this record is pretty simple. The the two 20+ minute pieces "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are for the most part perfect in Godspeed's gradual building crescendo style that when they do it well, even as bleak as it can come across at times, really does work. And there isn't another band who does it better. Including segues and a lot of orchestration. Both of them have more than 1 climax that fulfills the time it takes to get it. Or, doesn't feel as long as it clocks in at. A lot like how much of the Skinny Fists record works well.

The other two shorter 6+ minute Drone pieces, frankly, do absolutely nothing for me as they seem to go nowhere, like more or less all Droney/Sludgey/Doomy music.

But those 2 pieces, that makeup more than 40 minutes worth of music on this record, are good enough to warrant this record to be about if not 4-stars. I am not surprised as the music for this record was written originally not long before they went on the long hiatus in 2003.

Now, what they may create in the near future has me curious. What may the past 9 years do to influence new music that they may write? Maybe more samples or kinds of samples? Maybe more chamber instruments? It should be interesting to see what may come next from these guys, I just hope very little of it are like those 2 Drone pieces of music.

17 The Gathering | Disclosure
I wrote a piece about them and ex-lead singer/frontwoman Anneke van Giersbergen early in 2012, and how I found a new interest in this band's music. In some ways, like how I have found a new interest in Anathema as well, and The Gathering and Anathema are actually stylistically, not incredibly different in more than one way.

Both are from Europe, both use emotion, melancholy moods, different textures really well, and as a large focus on the kinds of heavy rock they make. Both actually have evolved from quite different forms of Metal than the kind of music they are making right now. And both The Gathering and Anathema both were formed/started their careers around the same time in the late 80's/early 90's.

And I would say, this album, is the 2nd best of it's kind to get released in 2012, the best being the new Anathema record.

But specifically, I think the biggest strength of this album is the mood and flow. I can listen to it, and not get bored during any of the songs. The dynamics and textures are really refreshing. As much as she sounds a fair amount like Anneke, I really like Silje Wergeland as a singer and many of the vocal lines that go with the music on this album. Some vocal harmonies and point-counter-point sections included.

The song "Heroes For Ghosts" was released as a single and/or video in 2011, and it still remains one of the best things I've ever heard from this band. It's about 11 minutes, and it works incredibly well in the tradition of the multi-part song, . It definitely is one of the best songs of 2012, one I look forward to each time I listen to this record, as it's a tune I always get goosebumps on.

The Gathering may have found a new Renaissance with Silje on vocals, and this album. Like Anathema, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of their music impressing me in the next few years.

Northern Abbey Cover Art
16 Northern Abbey | Northern Abbey [EP]
Sublime is really the best word to describe this music. It's just so delicate, pretty and creates such a great calm and relaxation. This project I only know about through Jessy Ribordy posting about it and being involved. But he's not the chief songwriter I don't think. And this EP is only 3 songs, but those 3 tracks each time I listen to them, I savor the experience.

Stylistically, it does share things with Jessy's project The River Empires, although it also uses some electronic textures at times. But one thing I think it has in common with TRE is just the quality of the writing. It appears a musician named Nick Lambert wrote everything on it. I don't know Nick's background, but these 3 songs are so good, I really wonder if he's done other work of this quality.

Just in using google, Nick Lambert played guitar on Falling Up's last album Your Sparkling Death Cometh, and very well may also have played on the 2 new records they are gradually releasing right now, specifically the music for the songs from Hours.

But in just looking up his background, he played in a band from Seattle called Paper Astronomer in the past, and he also is involved with Jessy Ribordy with the recording/producing music company Osiander.

This is only 3 songs, and what kind of future Northern Abbey has is unclear. Some of that may be how much time Nick has to do it, and if/when the inspiration may come. I guess I hope there's more to come, but I have seen sadly, many really great EPs get released from new bands/projects, and then they go incommunicado for awhile.I really hope there's more to come from Northern Abbey, as the 3 songs on this EP have got me awfully intrigued what may come next from them.

15 Sucré | A Minor Bird
The collaboration between Jeremy Larson of Canon Blue, Darren King of Mutemath and his wife Stacy Dupree-King of Eisley ended up really terrific. And style wise, it doesn't resemble any of their other bands that much, which in a lot of ways I think was a good thing.

This debut album is a great collection of dreamy, orchestral pop tunes with some twists and turns. I often was in awe of it, namely some of the string arrangements and the way Stacy's vocals went along with them.

I almost felt like I was hearing her account in some fantasy land or some book like Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz at times.

I guess the only issue I had with it, and maybe why I never got fully addicted to it was due to how it did carry a similar sound through most if not every track. Now, that sound is really nice and pleasant to me, but in a way, it seemed a little repetitive to a point.

But overall, this was an album I enjoyed each time I listened to it. I'm a little surprised it didn't see more interest actually, given many connection from the members primary bands. Perhaps more interest will arise in the near future. Maybe even a tour, if time allows.

Favorite tracks: "When We Were Young" 'Chemical Reaction" 'No Return."

14 Media Addicts | Autonomy
The follow up to this band's debut album Elsewhere from 2008, which I only have realized how great that album was over the last year. And this album in a lot of ways, is even better.

This band do a very cool style of heavy, instrumental jazz fusion. Most of the songs on this album build for a little while, but eventually lead to these crazy technical sections. The interplay between soprano sax and guitar at times got my head turning.

The members of this band, I guess went to McNally Smith music school in St.Paul. And they sound like they learned a lot about technique and chops from that. There really is some crazy technical work on this, along with great use of dynamics and shifting moods.

Over the last month or more, I've noticed a lot of people on the forums into the band Thank You Scientist, and I can't help but wonder what they might think of this album as well. And these guys don't have a singer who adds a post-hardcore element that hurts my feeling about Thank You Scientist.

No, this is one epic, diverse, technical, textured, moody record, that each time I listen to it, I enjoy more things about it. Maybe my only issue is, a little bit like Between the Buried and Me new album, the entire record ends up feeling a little longer than I'd like, especially to demand everyday addiction. Although the 15 minute closing piece "Zeitgiest" adds something to that. But that track is mesmerizing, as it has this basic rhythm playing in the background on guitar, and then more guitar, sax, bass and drums playing phrases over that, in a really calming fashion. I actually listen to that track, and think it could go on for a lot longer and I'd be fine. I may have to try hitting repeat on that track sometime in the future to see if I'm right about that.

13 Amanda Palmer &The Grand Theft Orchestra | Theatre Is Evil
This album will be known 1st and foremost for the unbelievable Kickstarter campaign and media attention following it. $1.2 million dollars, for this album along with a book, art shows, and a ton of other stuff. But beyond that jaw dropping accomplishment, this ended up being a really great record. And one I without question prefer overall to 2008's Who Killed Amanda Palmer An album I still really enjoy.

I do think after spending enough time with this album, it's 2-sided in some ways. I find the 1st 8 tracks or so to all have something I like and don't have reason to skip. The best or my favorite probably still being the extremely catchy "Want It Back." That song is pure energy.

I find the 2nd half or tracks after the intermission piece to be a little hit and miss. "Massachusetts Avenue" maybe being the best, as I love the driving rhythm on that track. And the closing track "Olly Olly Oxen Free" does have a great, epic feel to it. Amanda seems to be closing the book on an adventure with that one. The ole, going out with a bang.

Her band, and the string arrangements add a lot to this record, as they did at times on WKAP. The varied styles also make this album rather diverse and ranging with different emotions. I guess it is worth adding, seeing many of the videos, with Amanda of course frequently topless, kind of puts some of the songs on here in a different light.

Is this album a concept album? It may be. I found WKAP also to be kind of conceptual. She never seems to write songs that don't have hidden or multiple meanings. But as the title suggests, this album has it's theatrical side, although most of her music seems to. "Cabaret" almost could be regarded as a sub-genre of theatre anyway.

I should also add, 1st off being a backer to the Kickstarter, I pledged an amount that got me one of the special hardbound books that included the CD of the album. And the book was shiny and very well made. Along with, a free download of the bonus tracks, which I liked more or less every song, namely the "Ukele Anthem" which while it is just Amanda singing a song about playing a Ukele, only singing and a Ukele. That track has some of her best, most brutally honest, funny, pop-culture filled lyrics. I think it may be the greatest song with a Ukele ever written.

All in All, one of the best records of 2012, and to cap it off, she put on another highly memorable and outrageous concert at 1st Ave back in October. So to say this was a big year for Amanda would be accurate. I'm not sure if she'll do another Kickstarter campaign next, as she did for this, but Amanda proved that her music and everything that goes along with her approach as an artist (exhibitionist?) is worth paying attention to.

12 Mike Linden | Bubble & Squeak
This is one of the best jazz or jazz-fusion records I've heard in the last few years. Mike Linden is a guitarist from Burnsville that along with drummer JP Bouvet I guess met keyboardist Dave Mackay and bassist Jason Weiss out at Berklee college of music and the 4 of them formed the band The Super Pilots.

The music on this record is I guess mostly if not all music The Super Pilots wrote and those 4 play on it. I'm not sure why exactly it was released under Mike's name specifically, but I guess it doesn't matter either way.

This band is really tight, as at times they capture elements of a lot of the classic Jazz Fusion stuff like Return to Forever and Weather Report. And at times even some others, such as on the maybe my favorite part of this record, the "Paper Planes" suite, Mike's guitar solo namely, almost sounds rather Marillion or Pink Floyd like.

This record is maybe a bit under 40 minutes, and I often get the sense I could have it last a bit longer. But at the same time, they do so much with each track, it is less-is-more in many ways. Even the last track "The Adventures of Uncle Pennybags" shows Mike's influences by writing what is essentially a country (or bluegrass?) piece. I actually can't help but wonder what the The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra folks might think of that piece. Perhaps Mike and/or The Super Pilots will share a bill with them at some point. The audience for both would seemingly appeal to the other anyway.

11 Anathema | Weather Systems
In a lot of ways, this album is a continuation of what I and many others are considering a modern classic in 2010's We're Here Because We're Here. This record has those powerful, flowing sections of beauty and melancholy that are impossible for me to not give in to. It has those goosebumps I never forget about.

I would even say just say the the opening "Untouchable" suite is pretty much as breathtaking as anything off WHBWH. The way it builds, the textures, the female vocals, and the climax. I almost get to the point after playing that, I'm a bit down that there isn't anything as overwhelming on the rest of the record.

Now, that doesn't mean the rest of it is rubbish, but I think it's obvious, I would have placed this album a bit higher had their been. I mean there still aren't any tracks to skip, including the closing track "Internal Landscapes" which like on WHBWH, they used a clip or sample, but instead of a woman talking about light and more uplifting things, it's about a man whose recalling a near-death experience. And that does kind of give a sense of closure and fulfillment when this album ends.

Anathema keep making terrific records, I almost wonder how long they will be able to keep this up. But they are kind on a roll here, as 2011's re-working of some older material's Falling Deeper finished rather high in that year's index, and now this. In a way, they kind of have filled the void without Porcupine Tree and some others making this style of melancholic progressive rock. I guess I only hope they keep making stuff like this, as it keeps ending up rather high at the end of the year for me.

10 Marillion | Sounds That Can't Be Made
The 1st proper full-length since 2008's double LP Happiness is the Road. I enjoyed that record, but can't say I have ever fallen addicted to it. And of course Marillion are my band, my favorite all-time band, and I have a fanboy bias no matter what they release.

But I can't lie to myself or anyone online here, I am going to evaluate this for what it is, just so I don't appear to be drinking their Kool-Aid to the point of delusion of drunken-ness, haha.

This is a good record, and I've felt more or less since the 1st week of hearing it, I enjoy enough of it to prefer to Happiness overall. But, it also is hardly perfect, nor without music I am skipping still. Although I must not forget how with Marillion, I have had many songs/albums have my opinion change. For better or worse.

But as far as details, "Montreal" is a favorite on this album, and one of the best pieces the band has made historically. I love the epic nature of it, with different parts of a narrative of naturally, their experience going to the Fan Weekends in Montreal. But I think they hit on all cylinders with the textures, dynamics, vocal lines and even the lyrics. I really like how Hogarth used some pop-culture references on it.

My other highlights would be:
-"Power" I always love how it builds to a heavy climax.
-"Sounds That Can't Be Made" which features some great extended vocal lines, which may be more based on how they *sound*, rather than what they say (the whole "Aurora Borealis" section namely).
-"Gaza" an Epic piece, that is rather dark tonally/texturally, but has enough twists and powerful moments, that the love this song often gets is warranted. Although I wish "Montreal" would receive even half the credit that this track gets. Some have compared it to "Ocean Cloud" or "The Invisible Man" but honestly, I never followed those comparisons, save for the fact they were written in multiple-sections. I would liken it more to an epic like "Catherdral Wall" or "House" in that it is subtle and methodical at times, but there's still enough things to enjoy and notice, it doesn't get boring.

The rest of this record, I haven't fallen in love with, but I'd say save for "Lucky Man" I don't hate. "The Sky Above the Rain" is nice and pretty, and uplifting in some ways, that it does work well as a closing track. "Invisible Ink" and "Pour My Love" I enjoyed watching the documentary that came with the Deluxe edition and got some more from them. But I can't say they grab me at this point, like even some of the lighter, quieter tunes in the past have from the guys.

And "Lucky Man" I hope time is more kind to. I don't loathe it, but I just struggle with it more than I should. They made some comparisons to an Abbey Road element on it on the DVD, and maybe that is there, but for some reason it hasn't clicked enough with me yet. But in the case of this band, I'm not going to write it off just yet, such as a tune like "See it Like a Baby" or "Most Toys" from 2007's Somewhere Else for example.

9 Ramona Falls | Prophet
Brent Knopf left Menomena in 2011, more or less to focus on this project or band entirely. And while Ramona's debut record Intuit was really good, and has probably only seemed better through time, I think it's clear Brent's focus on Ramona now showed a lot on this album. Maybe even 1st and foremost in the really unusual cover art/design for the sleeve. But then again, the cool, interactive element to some of the Menomena albums, I suspect Brent had to do with as well.

But I guess the biggest things to mention about this album, Prophet, are it maybe includes the best track Ramona has done, and maybe even Brent's musical career in "Spore." I have loved that tune ever since hearing it last Spring. It's just so perfect. The lyrics "ready or nohhhht, heeeeeere I commmmme" that lead to that catchy interval pattern, more or less has been planted permanently in my brain. When the name Ramona Falls comes up, I likely always will think of that song, and that riff with those vocal lines. It's probably even more memorable than the "Always Right" from Intuit, lol.

But the entire record is not without a song that I'd skip. I think this record is sort of greater than the sum of its parts, which I think Intuit is/was as well. But I think the difference being, Intuit doesn't have anything as good as "Spore."

But just as far as what Brent has done with this album from Menomena, the guitar riffs, vocal range, lyrics, string parts, percussive element, lead piano. I mean he brought it all with him, yet still seems to be adding new things. There's ballads on this album, there's some rather dark tunes. I think the 2nd to last track "Proof" could have ended the album, as it has a great sad, melodic ending. But he included "Helium" as an uplifting and at times almost mystical way to close out the record.

Even on the Vinyl which I recently bought after seeing Ramona for the 2nd time last month, because it was printed on 180 gram vinyl, it ended up being a double LP, and 2 bonus tracks were included. And the 2 extras "Miracle Cure" and "Bveloed" are both as good as most of this record.

Brent Knopf is one of my favorite songwriters working today, really going back to the 1st time I heard "Wet and Rusting." I think like Casey Crescenzo of The Dear Hunter, I hope he keeps making music, especially that he believes in. This album is really just more evidence of his talents as a songwriter and musician. I think there always will be people that enjoy his music. Whether he can get Ramona to the level of "Self Sustaining" like Menomena kind of has, I dunno. It would be nice certainly, but to expect it might be wishful thinking in the short term. Especially since I really didn't see a ton of momentum like I thought there might be when this album came out. Namely from the progressive rock crowd. I think part of that is he's not prog enough for them. And the college rock crowd may be wishing he was still with Menomena. I wonder if Ramona Falls could get on a tour with a band with a size-able fan base, such as Minus the Bear or even Local Natives it might help a lot. I dunno, but I guess for him to keep making music, hopefully how close to self-sustaining Ramona Falls gets, I hope isn't relied on entirely.

Forest Park EP Cover Art

8 Forest Park | Forest Park [EP]
I heard this EP I think literally the same weekend I heard Northern Abbey for the 1st time. And I totally remember being in awe of both of them. I actually think the Northern Abbey EP I preferred just slightly, but I kept going back to this and liking it more.

And maybe it's not so coincidental, how like Northern Abbey, this is a project being made from the Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon, where it seems so many artists I enjoy are from.

One thing I totally was wrong about earlier in the year, at least I think.Forest Park does not include any members of the Portland band Typhoon. I think Typhoon may have posted about them on Facebook, and for some reason, I took that to mean it was a sideproject of some of Typhoon's members. But at least in scanning the credits, there are no names listed on their Facebook pages that match.

But, assuming that is the case, it may only increase the upside this band may have in the future, as this is a breathtaking EP that is in some ways, Post Rock of a sort, that may be Post Rock at it's finest. I am blown away every time I hear how incredibly dreamy and sublime the music on here is.

The female vocal harmonies and subtle melodies, with instrumentation that just soothes my eardrums, like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. The trumpet works so well harmonically on the music here, I almost wish I could pick mine up and play along sometimes.

This EP is like 25 minutes long, but I almost always want it to last another 25 or more minutes. The sensations experienced with it, are almost like being calmed and hypnotized by nature at times. Maybe it's the female voices that help and make it so dreamy. I might almost compare them to Warpaint in that sense.

I highly hope there is more from this project in the near future, and I just noticed they made a video for their epic 10+ minute track "Golden" a few months ago, that's on Vimeo. I'll probably post about it in a short while after finishing this, as it was just so wonderful to see the music with the visuals of the band members I think, go about on journeys and really connect with what that tune creates throughout.

I may be ahead of myself a bit, but I may find along with Pepe Deluxe and maybe Gatherer, Forest Park could be my favorite discovery of 2012. This may be the start of even bigger things for them. Especially just within fans of Post Rock, this band could probably gain a lot more fans. But, I always say that, and I'm not sure if it really ever has happened. There's always a 1st (or 2nd and 3rd counting Warpaint and Local Natives I suppose).

I think this EP ranks up there with some other breathtaking EP's over the last decade. Distrails Virginia Creeper , Call Florence Pow's The Strange SituationThe Dear Hunter's Act I: The Lake South, the River North, or  John Arch's A Twist of Fate . It's just *that* good.

7 House of Fools | Versus the Beast
It was a long 5 year wait for this album to finally come out. I absolutely love House of Fools epic debut album Live and Learn from 2007. And with the delay and lack of news from the band, I at one point thought they had to be done.

But thankfully they are not. And this album, while I'm skeptical I will ever grow as attached to it like their debut record, really came out at least as good as I could have hoped.

It's a record that does flow rather well, and unlike L&L, it actually is not as lengthly, nor does it feel long. I suppose track wise, my favorite on it is the heavy energetic rocker "Need to Be Free." I just get goosebumps when I hear it. The whole

"Let's Talk About Me, But I've Got Nothing To Say, No I don't wanna fight I don't want Control, I Need to Be Free...Let's Talk About You, You Got No One To Trust 
Listen! Listen!..I've always heard about it. Misery and Love are company"

The lyrics may not be 100% correct as I can't find them published anywhere, including in the digipack copy of the cd I bought. But like many of the songs and lyrics on L&L, this song speaks to me in some way. It's just a big Fuck You to the music industry among other things they have gone through over the last 5 years. And myself, I can relate as even with House of Fools, you have a band who defies categorization, yet still manages to write accessible, engaging songs. And very few people have ever caught on to them, unlike many other bands, and I scratch my head as to why.

In some ways songs like "Dogfight," "Time" and a few others on here, the same can be said about. "Time" I often get goosebumps from, just in the sad nature of it and the guitar work.

The rest of this record is without a bad song, and many which I have only enjoyed with more time. There's psychedelic stuff on here, there's nice bluesy ballads, there's some happy uplifting parts. And then there's a song like "When the Lights Go Out" which starts out with an alarm that wakes what sounds like singer/guitarist Josh King up in the morning, and then you hear a series of voice-mails, just exposing what goes on with their situation with the music industry. It reminds me of what the band 3 did on one of their earliest records, displaying how they may be too good for the music industry. Sarcastic, yet profound.

But I'm not sure if it is just the industry, but the lack of momentum in fans they never fully received. I think this album is a minor miracle for being released and I would put them along side Water & Bodies, Annuals, and some others (Ramona Falls perhaps?), Bend Sinister maybe, in bands who maybe are just too clever to gain the masses attention long enough. It's not like they can be accused of not having the talent, but like dredg, or even King's X back in the 90's and many others (King Crimson even to an extent), they deserve better, but don't have any business compromising their art.

So like those modern acts, even if they can make music that reaches some people, and can at least play live in their home state of North Carolina's Region, they may at least stick around and do music on their terms for awhile longer. I guess only time will tell. But in the mean time, I still really dig this record, and may still discover new things down the road. A worthy follow-up certainly.

6 Ne Obliviscaris | Portal of I
This was a long time a coming, as I think the 1st time I checked this band out and their now classic demo/EP The Aurora Veil, was in 2009. And a lot of what transpired with their guitarist getting kicked out of Australia and what not was posted in this blog and other places. And then this info came out in late 2011, etc. and this album immediately became a huge anticipation for myself among 1000's of other Metal fans around the globe.

And I guess overall, this album did not disappoint me, as it's highly layered, cleanly produced progressive death/black metal album with great violin arrangements that complement the varied vocals including shrieks, and a lot of the blast beats and guitar work.

But, I guess it was more or less in 1st or 2nd place from the point of hearing it, until about a month ago. I just came to the conclusion, while it does flow well, the structures of the songs don't drag much, and so on, it does end up getting repetitive to a point. It really does sound like Opeth with Violin, but for 45 or 50 minutes, even with a lot of similar parts, might not get old. But when you go over an hour, it gets to be a little bit a chore, I couldn't honestly say it was a perfect record.

Nor is the album I like to compare it to, In Vain's wonderful debut record The Latter Rain. I guess sometimes epic Metal can be a little long for me to listen to, to the point of addiction. And so while I still really love this album and band a lot, I found myself not up for playing it so often. It sort of went into mood territory. And I would say it still is without question the best Metal release of 2012, over some time, it didn't age quite as well with me as I would have expected.

For those unfamiliar, looking to check them out, I would suggest any number of songs. The 5th and 6th 9-12 minute tracks "And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope" and "As Icicles Fall" might be as good as anything.

But they have received a fair amount of attention this year for it, so much so, I might call 2012 the year of Ne Obliviscaris in some ways. But what they do next holds my curiosity. The 3 tracks on The Aurora Veil were re-recorded for this album anyway, and they have a new drummer, so their next release might not be exactly like Portal of I. We'll see, and hopefully they will manage to come do a tour of North America (and Europe) at some point soon. See Karnivool and Dead Letter Circus. If those 2 down under bands can tour here, these guys should be able to as well.

5 Bend Sinister | Small Fame
Their 1st album since 2008's masterpiece Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers . They released 2 EPs leading up to this record, and it's odd how those EPs were good, but not as amazing overall as their other work. But this record seemed to include a lot of music I love still, so much I enjoy it more than those 2 EPs.

Now, compared to Stories, and especially another previous release like Through the Broken City, Bend Sinister seem to be leaning more towards 2 genres specifically. Power Pop and Classic Rock. Which I can't say I prefer, but also can't say I don't like. This new album Small Fame, maybe has the most music of those styles, compared to any of their other releases.

Just take the shorter, catchy tunes like "She Don't Give It Up," "One Shot," "Got You On My Mind," and "Give It a Rest," all have those little hooks that I enjoy. They also feature some of Dan Moxon's extended vocal lines that I have always loved about Bend Sinister.

But getting more into this album, the tracks that I totally look forward to are the likes of "Quest for Love" which to me is like an Iron Maiden tribute (although Moxon I recall mentioned Dio, which I hear as well). It's really epic, yet it's just over 3 minutes long. I actually think that tune could have been on various radio stations, from Hard Rock/Metal to the college rock ones, and it would have fit. But has it? no, of course not. But perhaps it may in 2013, when they do more touring in the States.

"My Lady" is another I totally love the back and forth/call-and-response element. And the bad-ass bluesy keyboards, have this energy I totally love."Hot Blooded Man" and "She Lost Her Love For Rock and Roll" as well. Really great, infectious melodies, that lead to a twist, which is kind of a Bend Sinister trademark of sorts.

Even the slow, dark ballad "Black Magic Woman" I fall for, as it does kind of remind me of Led Zeppelin (and not Carlos Santana) in some ways.

The only track I skip, is the the repetitive "We Know Better." I'm not sure how or why they included this on the record, but it just seems rather simplistic and namely the lyrics just seem to be repeated too many times. I wish they had included "Things Will Be Better" from 2010's Spring Romance EP instead, but I suppose that song was older and didn't fit with the writing period of the music for this album. But so be it.

I am drinking a little of their Kool-Aid here, but after 6 or more long years hoping this band will finally get their due, I am thinking it may finally come in 2013 when they get to do some more extensive touring in the US. Whether it does happen or not, I am a fan no matter. But it is nice to finally have a little bit of optimism about 1 of MY bands for once. I guess we'll see what happens next year. But in the mean time, Small Fame, another excellent record from maybe my favorite band from Canada (save for Rush of course, :p).

4 Gatherer | So Be It
This band and debut LP sort of came out of nowhere. Thanks to fellow down-under musician Kimbra (who this blog of course knows pretty well), mentioning this group, shouting out to the prog fans, I was led to their music.

I guess first and foremost, the thing I like about them is they really don't sound like any other band specifically. And they also managed to write driving, memorable songs, that combine a bunch of genres, but still don't lose sight of the songwriting.

The two standout tracks on this album I find to be I think the 2 singles. "Thrive" and "Regular Frontier." Both of those have these twists and surprising harmonic and melodic parts, while still being heavy and riffy. Take a band like Faith No More, who combined pop with Metal and experimental elements; Gatherer, while they don't sound a lot like FNM, are sort of doing the same thing.

Their use of vocal harmonies, and their approach to vocals, while I didn't love right away, really began to grow on me fast. I would go back to them and not have issue with them at all after a few times through. Their singer yells, certainly, much in the Punk or Post-Hardcore punk style, but actually he sounds like he has refined his style quite a bit. I say that, after checking out the music they made under the name "This City Sunrise" which naturally, I found shared qualities with Gatherer, but the screaming was more chaotic.

Although, I'll fully admit, I have grown to really love This City Sunrise as well, which is odd because bands like Deftones and even Exotic Animal Petting Zoo (or even a band like The Fall of Troy), I never got past the screaming fully. EAPZ I did to a point, but this band, I think I've found a kind of hardcore screaming I am able to get past. So much, I'm reminded when I got into Between the Buried and Me and so many other of those Extreme Metal bands. There's just too much to offer in their style of music and songwriting itself, the screaming issues become non-issues.

And the fact Gatherer seem to have toned that part of their style down a little bit, may ultimately be in my preference and their favor.

To mention other highlights, I suppose songs like "Camp Creative," 'Elvis Horizon," 'Hammer," "Sinister," "Mr.," all really grew on me, rather fast actually. The whole record did. They also had excellent production work on this. The drummer is quite technical, I wonder if he may enjoy his Jazz or much like Kimbra, a lot of those drummer using poly-rhythms. I actually think the drum work is as great a part of this record as anything. Its just that with it's changing times so often, and odd minor key parts, may be what throw some people off. They sort of remind me of Everything Everything in that sense, in that you can hear the pop side and a lot of their influences, but they seem to blend those with such an unorthodox style of songwriting, they really require some time digest. At least I think for some. Myself? well, I enjoyed Pain of Salvation right off the bat, and many other bands, so I may have a little bit more of an ability to digest subtle things that may bug others right away.

But this album was really not talked about much, save for in their home country. And that was largely due to the build up, as like Kimbra, I guess they built a local fan base gradually every year since their inception, just not yet really outside of their home. Maybe in 2013 that will happen. And maybe like Kimbra, their record will get released overseas and they could even tour here. I think for the avant-garde Prog, Metal, Post-Hardcore, etc fan, this band could really be one to get into. Perhaps with some time, or their next record even.

3 Vuvuzela | The Hollow Choir
I posted about the Kickstarter campaign this project was setting up, during the Summer of 2011. And their goal was to raise enough money to kickstart their work on a Debut EP. And they did reach and exceed their goal in fact, and I do wonder a little bit, if the exceeding of their goal led them to record enough songs for a full-length album.

Now, Vuvuzela is one of Josh Benash's main focuses as a musician, with Kiss Kiss out of commission. Along with a solo record he released earlier in 2012, Josh had a pretty busy and big year in 2012.

Kiss Kiss released an EP and 2 full-lengths in their history. The 2 full-lengths, namely their debut record Reality vs. the Optimist among it's unique qualities, was how short it was. Something like 32 minutes long, but it always *felt* longer, at least to me and some others. And I suspect this debut record of Vuvuzela's was about that long as well, in that I think Josh almost comes by making albums of that length.

There are 8 tracks on here, and while there's a ton of ideas and different twists and turns, the length is absolutely perfect, I've come to conclude. Each track has just enough of their waltzy-prog, to satisfy. Perhaps that is 1 of Josh's many talents, in the ability to compose albums of the perfect length, regardless of how short they look like on paper.

Style wise, this album uses a lot of wonderful harp along with piano, male (Josh) and female (Stephanie Babirak) vocals. Stephanie's are in spots, and harmonies which really complement's Josh impassioned and great range of vocals at times.

I would suggest songs, but I honestly love every song on here. In other words, this album would be best just to listen to all at once. But just to say specifics, "Star Shoes," "Sylvia," 'The Hollow Choir," and "Rings and Things" all have those little sections I totally love. I wrote down some words about this album the other day that describe it:

Dramatic (and not Melodramatic)
Symphonic (just some of the orchestral arrangements, and some of the choir vocals kind of give this element).

I really can't say enough good things about this, although unlike a few other projects like Forest Park, I knew about this a few years ago, and know how good of a songwriter Josh Benash is/can be. So, the end result didn't come out maybe as surprising as some others. But that doesn't change how I love this record and imagine I will go back to often in the future. As in, if I'm up for some Kiss Kiss, I probably will pull this record out as well. In fact, I think in some ways, it may be the best thing Josh has done, which is great to notice. I hope Vuvuzela has a lot more in-store, even with the experience of Kiss Kiss hiatus, perhaps the 2nd time around, will be a little more fruitful for Josh and co.

I must not forget, the upright bass work on this album was played (and written?) by Kiss Kiss bassist James O'Keefe. So, at least part (and more than just Josh) of Kiss Kiss are still making music together in Vuvuzela. But Stephanie Babirak I really enjoy and appreciate her great harp work on this as well as vocals, and drummer Ben Goldstein as well. So, it's not as if Josh didn't surround himself with some great musicians, like he did in Kiss Kiss. But it will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Vuvuzela in the coming years. Hopefully there's more where The Hollow Choir came from.

2 Brice Plays Drums | Man the Animal Cannon
I'm not sure how in-depth I am going to be able to get about this record, in a blurb that doesn't maybe allow it. But simply put, I fucking love this record, and enjoy it more probably every time I listen to it. Just the little nuances, secondary guitar parts, point-counter-point reflective parts between the guitar and bass, or guitar and piano (or more than 1 guitar?).

This album consists of 3 epics, and I would say you likely have to enjoy multi-movement/multi-part songs to dig this. But of course, when they work well, I am a total sucker for them (and probably regard them as greater than any normal 3-5 minute song, even however great it may be).

"Freight Train Blues" I think it's worth mentioning, even though it's kind of obvious, the fact the rhythm at the beginning sounds like a train starting to take off. I failed to mention that earlier this year. But among the 3 epics on this record, I think I lean towards that being my favorite. But between those little sections of guitar parts, or basslines. Some piano, or the drum rhythms. Or even just Michael Higgins vocal lines, despite some that are not entirely understandable, I think he has improved a fair amount as a singer.

"The Jester" includes one of those great, ironic, lyrics "all the while I'm on the brink. I'll make you clap, or make you think, all the while on the brink, I'll fade my loyality to poison-your-drink!"
The organ parts, the wah-wah pedal guitar interludes, fast-picking sections. This track amazes me sometimes, and also it creates sort of a fantasy element, given the name, I sort of imagine it telling a tale taking place in Ancient times, with a King, Queen, subjects, etc and the Jester working for the King, but also being devious and plotting.

"Delta Waves" of course the longest of the 3 epics, but it doesn't necessarily feel the longest (nothing on this record feels long to me anyway). The transitions are excellent, between a bunch of different tempos and guitar and bass lines, along with piano. I really do hear Yes/Steve Howe a lot on this track, sort of in the Tales From Topographic Oceans or Close to the Edge period. The harmonics are happy, and it sort feels uplifting at times, the flow makes it work so well. The 2nd half has this cool marching melody that gets faster gradually, and you just have to follow where it leads. Of course Michael comes up with a line in the epic climax that I always love, "I've got to run before you driiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!"

I really am marveled by this record, a band who just know how to make the extensive, multiple idea-ed (to make up a word) song/suite work so fucking well. Whether the progressive rock scene, and the "super secret society of taste makers" (who need to go on "double/super secret probation" of course :p) ever actually catch on or even just give this band a shot, is totally unexpected. But still not without warrant to want or hope for.

This band among some others, are proof progressive rock is alive and well in Minnesota. At least for however long they can make music. And like Lehto & Wright who made a prog masterpiece in 2010's Children's Songs, and Greg Herriges whose last record, 2009's Telluric Currents, this album and band's music will be around to discover. Cloud Cult is doing progressive rock and from my hometown, which is great, but there are others, like those I just mentioned and on the 2012 Index (Media Addicts, Mike Linden, The Royal Veil, etc) and BPD who could find a wider audience, it just may take some time. Either way, I know I am on board no matter who else catches on to Brice. And I totally can't wait to see what they put out next.

1 Pepe Deluxé | Queen of the Wave
Well well well. The band and album I got into early in 2012, just out of curiosity in seeing this record #1 on's Chart. And I caught on to this fast, but also said I still doubted this would finish as the #1 album by the end of the year. And, while I did confess to later not thinking that, I was wrong. This became a classic with just a little time.

It became one of those records that had so many reasons to like and listen to it. It reminded me of many other bands/artists, and the vintage element helped that. But somehow I totally fell for the cinematic/theatrical side to this, while the energy, catchy-ness., textures, tones, instrumentation (vintage sounding as in Hammond Organ, Harpsichord, Flute, fuzz guitar, surf/Dick Dale guitar channeling), vocal lines, vocalists, and concept just all grabbed me.

I think this band has created over the evolution of their sound, a very unique style. Some have called it campy, I just don't give a shit. The songs, and atmosphere, and layers, and even the length being about 40 minutes or so, just work perfectly.

I guess the only thing that gets me is the way they have this mysterious quality about them. Those short films/videos sort of make you wonder how much money they spent to make them. They look really vintage, like they were taken from films or television from the 1960's. Irwin Allen or something out of The Twilight Zone. And I love that, but also just wonder, what is the deal with them? Their online presence is just mysterious. I suppose I never invested hours upon hours into their background. I know James Spectrum is maybe the biggest force behind this group and Paul Malmstrom also is pretty involved. And those 2 guys are from and may still reside in Finland. But other members of the band reside in other parts. Even just the different female singers, who sound like they are from a Motown group.

One comparison was to Janelle Monae, which that fit with those singers certainly. But there are more than one. And I'm not sure if it's Spectrum or Malmstrom, or someone else who has the deep, baritone Sinatra-like voice, but he has more vocals on their older records for some reason.

I guess as far as Queen of the Wave, like many other records on the index, I like it best as a whole, but of course the tracks that are worth mentioning I suppose
-"Go Supersonic!"
-"A Night and A Day"
-"Contain Thyself" (love the organ on this one, although most of the organ work on this album is outstanding and totally vintage sounding).
-'The Storm" (one of a number of tracks that feature that incredible Dick Dale-esque guitar work)..

One other thing I can't forget is, one band I don't think I ever compared them to was, in little sections, one of my all-time favorites, in Apes and Androids. Some of those operatic, chanting vocals ala Queen, Pepe Deluxe use on this. Just off the top of my head, but there are a few other points where I am reminded of Blood Moon and the cool textures Apes and Androids used. I suspect the people in Pepe don't have any clue who Apes and Androids are, but it would be interesting to learn if they did.

And something I can say that Pepe Deluxe and this album do share in common with Apes and Androids is, I discovered it/them just randomly one day, and fell in love after doubting them. I totally love it when that happens. But it doesn't happen every day, or even to this extent every year. But with them, it did sort of happen this year, and to that I am grateful. Whether 2013 holds for that to happen or not, I have no clue. I do know 2013 there's a boatload of artists who have albums I'm extremely excited about to hear. And it wouldn't surprise me at least in terms of depth, 2013 surpasses 2012. But, 2012 at least did have a number of great releases and EPs namely. But for now, 2012 was only top-heavy, hence why I didn't even rank the releases past 23. But as usual, I wouldn't be surprised if in the coming years, a lot of 2012 albums will come up and impress me, some even that I knew about but didn't have enough time for this year. But with that thought it is time to put this portion (I have an editorial/confessional that's still in the oven, that I should get to finishing soon) of the 2012 Index to bed.

Here's looking forward to 2013....and plans to better the process for myself especially, as I have some new plans again to do this as best as I can.