Sunday, March 18, 2007

2007: The Year of Kermit the Prog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 4, 2007