Friday, February 28, 2014

Cloud Caverns - Gypsy Loft (2014)

Gypsy Loft cover art

1. Sparrow
2. The New Colossus
3. Clatters, Swells, and Tosses
4. The Reservoir
5. Memory Leaks
6. Fading Light Blues
7. Ladybird
8. MacArthur
9. A Warm Glow
10. Greenlawn
11. Gypsy Loft
12. Overlook

Being released May 4th. Brandon Peterson did the engineering and AJ Estrada the artwork, so it has still some influence and connections with Hotel of the Laughing Tree.

Not that this is huge on my radar, but I did like that EP from last year a bit,so I wouldn't be surprised if this is more of the same if not better.

Previous Cloud Caverns entry

Monday, February 24, 2014

Significant Albums: The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

File:Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.jpg

The 1st vinyl record I ever bought. I have a vague yet certain memory of buying this album on vinyl LP in the year 1987, likely in the Summer. And after I bought it, which I am guessing was at the old 'Great American Music" store at Harmar Mall (or possibly Rosedale). My parents and I went to dinner after that, at I think the Green Mill at Rosedale

It was around that time I had seen "Complete Beatles" which my folks had recorded on VHS tape off I think the local PBS affiliate in the Twin Cities, Channel 2. And of course that documentary spoke glaringly about this album. I recall there was one guy whose title was "musicologist" praising it to no end. I remember after seeing that title, wondering what a "musicologist" was exactly, and how does one become a musicologist. How much money could a musicologist make? etc.

"Within You, Without You" in my 2nd or 3rd revisiting/renewal of my love for The Beatles music, was the song I became the most in awe of. Some of the best Beatles songs are the one's where they incorporated spiritual and middle eastern elements.

Try to realise it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows within you and without you.

When you've seen beyond yourself-then you may find, peace of mind,
Is waiting there-
And the time will come when you see
we're all one, and life flows on within you and without you

A therapeutic and meditative track, that I love the call and response between Lennon's vocals and the sitar played by George Harrison, which I'll fully admit, I use to assume was Ravi Shankar.

The triippy nature of "Being for the Benefit of Mr.Kite" I also have probably appreciated more recently than back in 1987. The *circus* atmosphere Lennon wanted-to and more or less created is wonderful. It's 1 of those tracks, like "Tomorrow Never Knows" or "Strawberry Fields Forever", that is a head rush that I can't help but love. And I can't even imagine how it influenced a lot of psychedelic rock that came after it.

And actually the same could be said about "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" which I know received more notoriety (and airplay), for one reason alone, just the whole LSD thing with the title. That tune I distinctly remember hearing as a kid and liking. I think maybe even more than the trippy odd tones coming from the music, the lyrics told a story to me. "The girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes"..the 11 or 12 year old me found that freaky. But I also remember picturing a tale of 2 younger people sort of in love. The different adjectives and references, honestly may have been the 1st time I'd heard them. "Marmalade" I remember once hearing in a kids story, that was British, because I came to often associate that word and food with the UK.

Cellophane Flowers and Marshmellow Pies? yeah, I don't think I had been exposed to those before hearing this tune.

Getting Better, When I'm 64, Lovely Rita, the title track and the reprise, A Little Help From My Friends were all kind of Beatles staples I got to know about, I think on the compilation record my folks had they would play. And songs like She's Leaving Home and Fixing a Hole also add to the charm of this album.

And then you have "A Day in the Life," which to many is the quintessential Beatles tune. It seems like an experiment of studio technique and little movements that worked perfectly. "I heard the news today Oh Boy"..which leads And then the McCartney voiced

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

 to that trippy moaning from Lennon.

So relate-able at first, the whole rush in the morning (which maybe the fact there is a song titled "Good Morning" was made or influenced this song, or vice-versa). But the way the lyrics talk about "a dream" this song and maybe the album as-a-whole is meant to be kind of a dream.

Like Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz (or even The Secret Life of Walter Mitty even..the whole idea of a DAY DREAM). I mean this by many is regarded as the 1st *concept album* of sorts. So it sort of tells a story, but fictional. The ending of A Day in the Life kind of wraps up the experiences of the album and offers where the story of the band or just one person.

I have no idea if the band intended it to be that way, or if the songs just seemed to go well together lyrically and musically. Even down to the cover art, with all the famous people and what not. It's almost like this fictional band, Sgt Pepper's, is taken or takes you, to a world where all those famous people are. Whether they were alive in the real world The Beatles themselves were in, or not.

I guess I haven't read boat loads of material about the analysis of this record to know if many others interpret it in a storybook almost fantasy or scifi way, but it wouldn't surprise me. A Day in the Life though, is just one of those songs that included a ton of ideas, from dynamics, to sampling, to like I mentioned before, some clever, original studio tricks.

Sgt Pepper's is historically a highly praised record, and by many, The Beatles peak. I'm not sure if I feel that way entirely, but the influence it had on not only on so much music I love, but just personally myself I can't deny. Even for the fact there was a period in the 90's, I came to shun The Beatles, I suppose due to hearing bands like Rush and thinking much of their music was too simplistic and overrated. My best friend from High School felt similarly (probably more so), and used to criticize them frequently. But I came to realize how naive I became in that thinking (whether I ever feel the same about bands like Nirvana or Radiohead, I dunno, I have my doubts though).

But no, Sgt Pepper's is a work of art, a very experimental/forward thinking record that I still honestly am marveled by for nostalgia sake and for just the quality of the songs, production and historic importance of. I might even say in some ways, it was my 1st favorite album, even though I wasn't so into "albums" when I was 10 or 11 years old. Thriller and Purple Rain, I think I mainly think of the singles 1st, but Sgt Pepper's still was then and still is an *album* greater than the sum of its parts. And it really set the standard for the millions or more artists to make *albums* as opposed to just a bunch of songs.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2014 Music Part 3: Some others

This is kind of a hodgepodge of stuff I didn't include in the previous two, maybes, longshots, and hopefuls. And there are I'm sure dozens of artists who also I'm not including in here who I may in a future entry, or just throughout the course of the year.

Alphabetical Order Orchestra (was My Latest Novel - Good Bees, Strong Hives?)

It appears some of the members of My Latest Novel are involved in this new project and a post from early February says they have Half of an Album already written.

By the end of the month we will have half an album...working titles 'Surprise Motherfuckers' or 'Facemelters' here!

What that means as far as My Latest Novel? who knows. But it does go along the lines of a pattern of a band from the past who ends up having the members do different things due to various possible reasons. Time, $, inspiration. I really loved My Latest Novel's last record 2009's Deaths and Entrances, but that was nearly 5 years ago. But perhaps Alphabetical Order Orchestra will be another cool group for some of the MLN members and, "Good Bees, Strong Hives" or whatever the title may be for the/a next release will happen eventually for them.

Annuals (or Adam Baker?)
Adam Baker, whose the lead singer and 1 of the main songwriters of Annuals, I guess he moved to LA a couple of years ago and has been writing new music. The stuff that ended up on last year's Annuals LP Time Stamp, I don't believe is stuff he wrote as recently. Him and Annuals Mike Robinson appeared in a video for a group called First Person Plural, which was nice to see, although the song itself didn't grab me all that much. But, I'm not sure if Mike and Adam did any of the actual songwriting with First Person Plural or that song.

But, some I noticed a few updates from Adam on Annuals facebook including using loops or something. So, he's obviously working on new music.

The Aston Shuffle - Photographs
As I yesterday posted about the Mayer Hawthorne-featured track "Never Take It Away," I'm enjoying that song and potentially this group. It's kind of dancey/soul pop, that is melodic. And in some ways, reminds me of Capital Cities. Although I guess this band put out an impressive debut record 3 years ago, so maybe Capital Cities remind some of them? Regardless, this album drops on March 28th, and I will have to keep it in mind.

This is singer Misato Yamanaka of Kacica's new band/project. Or 1 of them at least as I just found out within the last day or 2.  It may not be exactly like Kacica, but maybe even better? Misato is a great singer and songwriter, and what it says below, Kazuya Horiba also comes from Kacica as I just noticed he was their bassist. So, I might anticipate some Kacica-like music still here, but who knows having never heard a second of their music.

Here's their bio from their site.

AYNIW TEPO is a Japanese music group making very nice sound anybody never listen.
By singing, using various world music instrument, we can draw the beautiful soundscape.

Our band is composed mainly of two menbers, Misato Yamanaka(vo, synth) and Kazuya Hori(ba),
who is member of the Japanese great band named kacica in Nara.
We underwent member changing several times, Tomoe Yoshida(vo, piano, synth) joined AYNIW TEPO.
And we welcome new support member,Tedder (dr) 、Takk (gu)

The Barnum Meserve

A late entry that slipped my mind, but they are worth including in here certainly. I discovered them last year with an EP of theirs. I forget where, but it may have been a suggestion on rateyourmusic. Anyway, I haven't revisited their music more or less since hearing it initially, but I do remember liking their style of darker toned rock.

But their Facebook page says they have a new single coming that will be included on their debut album, so that suggests both very likely will be coming out this year.


Big Elf - Into the Maelstrom
Mike Portnoy is playing on this, and his speaking out/up for these guys over the last five or more years is probably as big a reason to pay attention to them (although I 1st heard the/saw their name back in the late 90's actually).

I'll likely check this out if time allows; although I'm sure many others will get more into this than me, but who knows. Portnoy's involvement does have me more curious about this than I normally would be.

released March 3rd..

The Bird and the Bee - TBA
The gf is into this band. This album has been made, it just has no means (money and/or a record label) to have it come out. I wonder though, if the band may just decide to either Crowd Fund its release or make it available on a bandcamp page if no record label comes their way.

Apparently an EP could be coming early in 2014. This is a band who have been around for a few years, that I wrote about a few weeks ago after noticing the cover of The Turtles "Happy Together." They have an EP titled Psycho that came out in 2012, and made some videos, but other than that, they are known for their live shows I guess. Style-wise, maybe just copying their Facebook description would be best.

"Todd Rundgren in Genesis listening to Muse while hanging out with Queen, Sikth and Quincy Jones who are all shagging Prince in Rush's private studio on LSD dressed up as The Beatles mixing Psycore jamming with The Manhattan Transfer in a lost Gershwin musical somewhere in Iceland.”

I think potentially, I could absolutely LOVE this band. They use a lot of styles I happen to enjoy. Kind of like sElf or Pepe Deluxe. I guess the big question though is, like a band like Painted in Exile or Sigmund Droid, when or even how long may it may before they do release a record.

Flying Colors
I recall reading most of the music has been written, but of course with this group's members A-jobs, the timing will factor if this does manage to come out. I would think if not in 2014, by 2015 sometime if not this year.

Godspeed You Black Emperor
I'm only including them as I saw some people mention their name on some other lists. Although their last record Allelujah! Don't Bend! was OLD material, recorded/updated etc. Whatever new music they may release, this year or in the future, at least will be the 1st newly written music since their hiatus ended.

The Grape and the Grain
Daniel Grimsland of the band Three's new project. Their raised enough I suspect the progress on this upcoming record could come sooner than later. I'm certainly intrigued by this band's style of heavy ballsy blues rock, as their latest singles released last fall got my attention.

What the status of the next Three record is? I have no idea, but if we don't have another Three album soon, at least Daniel is keeping busy (although between Three and Joey Eppard of course, something seems to come out nearly every year anyway..i.e. if a new Three album did come out, I would hardly be surprised).


Hannes Grossman - The Radial Covenant
Released February 4th. This is from the drummer from technical death metal bands Obscura and Necrophagist. The list of guests, among the metal/tech-death crowds is impressive (as far as I have read). The sample I listened to earlier was impressive, but in playing and actually production.

How different this is from Obscura's albums? I dunno. But from some comments from Hans on Youtube, he wrote it all and had control over all the lyrics, vocal lines and other aspects.

Mayer Hawthorne
He recorded  like 40 songs for Where Does This Door Go, and he said he'd like to release many that didn't come out on WDTDG, And he's posted a few videos on Facebook recently, which appears could have been in the studio.

I suppose the biggest reason a new record/ep or single may or may not come in 2014 for Mayer will be based on how much his touring schedule takes up of his schedule.

House of Fools
They posted an update or 2 in 2013 about writing new music, but given there isn't a ton of detail, and their past presence online; and the gap between their last record and Live and Learn, it's certainly no guarantee, but still wouldn't be too surprising if they did release something soon.

I'd love to see it in 2014, as I do really enjoy this band, but I'm not expecting it until they start posting more stuff about it online.

DUg Pinnick (King's X), George Lynch (Dokken) and Ray Luzier (Korn) project which I gotta admit, the samples sound intriguing,  The Self-Titled debut album drops on March 11th.

Pat Metheny Unity Group - Kin
The trio band, which from less than satisfactory time listening to that style/lineup, is more traditional jazz. In other words, less fusion/synthy-guitars, etc. But, especially after seeing Dean Magraw interpret a lot of that kind of style in recent years, hearing another recording from Pat and his impressive band (Christian McBride, Antonio Sanchez), I may get more won over by this, here and now even. Then again, this is Pat Metheny, anything more or less can happen.

Edit: I've checked most of this out and I dig it, but other than some soprano sax, it doesn't vary all that much to most of Pat's other records. Still,  I do enjoy much of it already. it should be worth revisiting throughout this year.

George Michael
He announced like 2 weeks ago, he has a new album in the works. Now, I won't admit to loving everything he does like my girlfriend nearly does, but I do enjoy Faith and some of the Wham music, even just for nostalgia. Plus he did own the stage when he sang with Queen at the Freddie Mercury tribute in the early 90's. And it's been many years since he released a new record (a new single came out in 2012 I recall, but the gf wasn't crazy about it).

Miracles of Modern Science
They had a pretty big year in 2013, so I wonder if they will be working on their next record this year. Even have already, since the MEEMS EP got them a lot of exposure (and of course their popular cover of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky"), I wonder if they may be looking to follow that up rather soon. If not 2014, soon after.

Sounds like 2014 could be a year they spend a fair amount of time in the studio, but that may not mean their next record actually gets released until late or sometime in 2015. But Odd Soul was in some ways, their best record, so the record they are working on now is certainly one to get excited about in 2014 or later.

Speaking of which, it’s going to be two years since Odd Soul released. You’ve spoken a bit about the next album in previous interviews. What stage is it at right now?  
We are still just writing songs. We have written so many ideas at this point, and I think if we were together in a studio and work them out, we’d have who knows how many songs. I’ve never made as many instrumental tracks in preparation for an album as I have in this process. I’ve made so many songs. We are trying to be tough on ourselves and wait till we’ve done something really special. I feel like we’re still in the first phase, that starting phase. But I think we’ve spent so much time in this phase that the next phase can often happen with a lot more fluidity and ease if we do a lot of preparation. 
It’s been nice. We have had the luxury of festivals and shows that have been paying enough to buy us time to live, think and write and keep writing and you get more instruments and gear. I’m excited, because in two weeks, all of the guys are coming over to my house and we’re going to set up all the gear. We’re going to spend two weeks here recording ideas. We’ll try to make them as complete as we can, so that we can take them to a producer. So we’re at a stage right now where we’re talking about different producers and who to work with. 

Michael Nesmith and/or The Monkees
The big deluxe live album is being released from his last tour, but I hope/wonder if after playing live both with The Monkees again and solo so much, if many of the songs he's put up on his Videoranch site might be released in some fashion, if he has the time I suppose. I know he's showing up at The Monkees convention for the 1st time in March, in New Jersey. And he is touring this Summer with The Monkees again, but all this touring the last few years just makes me wonder if he may want to record again.

Not that I would think the odds are high, but probably better than it was a few years ago.

Movies of the Mind, the live record has already been released in some forms (the $200 deluxe and super deluxe anyway).

I wonder if releasing that will serve for motivation to want to release something new, soon. Although I should add, the gf mentioned a news story talking about Mike, Micky and Peter making a new record (because "Just Us" was sohhhh loved/good..which she doesn't really agree with, but she still would love to hear something from them I imagine).

But if not in 2014, maybe 2015. Perhaps Mike and/or The Monkees will at least work on new music this year.

Picture of Ours
Ours - Ballet the Boxer 2?
As their 2013 record "Ballet the Boxer 1" implies, it's not, or may not be the last or only part or album they release with said title. Ours is in an odd place now, as they released that record last year, as fast as they could. And the truth is, I am still awaiting my vinyl copy and tote bag, which I understand to a point why, since Vinyl can take time to produce.

And for a band that formed over 20 years ago, and only just released their 4th record last year, I wouldn't expect another record so soon. But, the fact is, Jimmy Gnecco and Ours have plenty of new and old songs written and in some cases, recorded perhaps. Just from the sessions when they made BtB1, it's certainly possible there are recordings that got cut.

It's not like they don't have an online presence, as they do, but it can be vague or long periods of time without hearing much about their new music. Jimmy's a busy guy, a father, collaborator and a renaissance man or troubadour of sorts. And Ours and Jimmy still tour enough, which may dictate the time-frame of their next record.

But Jimmy every so once will post something to his email list and on their website/twitter/facebook with an update. I wouldn't be surprised to see him do that soon and mention something about the next record, whether it is Ballet the Boxer 2 or something else.

But as a fanboy, I totally look forward to it.

Pain of Salvation - Clean?
I noticed some stuff about this maybe even as far back as 2012. But last year, I thought some people were anticipating it. The band toured the North America finally, even though it was abbreviated since Daniel Gildenlow got sick midway through and before the scheduled show in St.Paul at Station 4.

And as I write this, the band are on the Progressive Nation at Sea Cruise, without Daniel somehow, given he has been hospitalized with a required surgery due to a flesh-eating bacterial infection. The guy has not had the best run of luck with his health recently, but hopefully his luck and health will improve.

But assuming that happens, perhaps this record will get made and be released soon after. The Road Salt records I am luke warm about, but I really haven't spent tons of time listening to. They are a lot different in sound (and of course membership). Not really metal, but blues rock/classic rock sounding.

Who knows if "Clean" or what they/Daniel makes next will be the same, but it should be worth checking out regardless.

Painted in Exile
A new single/song will be coming out supposedly based on the last update they included in January. But the fact they don't have a singer  and bassist currently (that I'm aware of), may continue to delay the release of the long awaited 1st full length record. But perhaps things will escalate quicker once they do.

File:Pharrell Williams G I R L.jpg
Pharell - G I R L
This album will include the single "Happy" that was featured in Despicable Me 2 and on many other stations and commercials. If you asked me a year ago who Pharrell/Pharrell Williams was, I would have had NO CLUE. But with the Daft Punk collaboration on Random Access Memories and his work with Robin Thicke and Mayer Hawthorne especially in 2013, along with "Happy," I may have to check this record out, which comes out on March 3rd.

Even the interview he did with Leonard Nimoy helped increase my interest in this guy. He clearly is a talented singer/songwriter and producer, so I would not be surprised to enjoy this, his most recent work. I dunno, eventually he may end up working with other musicians I appreciate like Janelle Monae or Kimbra for example.

Put Down the Muffin
The return of one of the better local bands I came across in the 2000's, and 1 of the better young jazz groups. Really doing more jazz-rock or prog in a sense. Their return kind of came out of the blue, as I sort of forgot about them a few years ago. And I still have yet to see them live, but with this new record they have coming, maybe some live shows will happen too to support it.

Media Addicts are gone now, but with Put Down the Muffin's return, it may fill that newer local jazz-fusion band void. Where to see them? unfortunately not The Artist Quarter . But perhaps Black Dog Cafe or 1 of the clubs in Minneapolis I still need to go to like The Icehouse.

The River Empires
The status of the next progressive/classical /cinematic/bluegrass release from The River Empires  is a mystery and nothing to be assumed at this point, in terms of a time frame.. Jessy Ribordy was posting stuff about the next record, Mars/Brighton II, back in 2012. But it was probably wise to just back off about news and things until something concrete and substantial was available to share. So not a single post or word was made from The River Empires in 2013.

And until the record is all lined up to come out, maybe nothing will be shared, which may or may not be in 2014 or 2015 or later.

But, I love the music for this project too bloody much not to at least anticipate. I am just not assuming anything soon. Falling Up perhaps as they continue to be posting things online, and naturally as I imagine the interest and income even is more consistent with them. But at the point The River Empires does return, I know there will be a lot of people very interested as well.

Rx Bandits - 
It's being made if I recall, per a Pledgemusic or Indiegogo. Trombones? somehow I am skeptical they'll be back. But ANYTHING is great given they announced a breakup a few years ago.

Agalloch member Don Anderson's progressive rock with black metal vocals project, was last heard from in 2008 with Embodiment, a record I have always enjoyed. The samples from the short film "Camera" were among the best parts of it. I also have enjoyed some of their earlier records as well.

Agalloch has a new record coming soon, but Don has posted some on Facebook about the next Sculptured record as well, so it wouldn't surprise me to see it come out either in 2014, or 2015.

Look up "Matrix Metal" on Facebook and you'll see some recent updates.

July 23rd:

Things have been very quiet here, but I've been finalizing a few new songs for what will eventually be the 4th Sculptured album. However, my attention has mainly been given to the upcoming and fifth Agalloch album, as well as the upcoming Sol Invictus album that I guested as guitarist on. Once the Agalloch is finished I hope to dedicate the majority of my time to Sculptured. Thanks everyone for your interest!

edit: double post from Part Two . i didn't realize it, although when I 1st started these, I only intended for there to be one Entry anyway. But whatevah. Nothing wrong with a 2nd reminder about this upcoming record.

Like The River Empires and some others, a new sElf record has been mentioned in the works for many years. And Matt himself is active on Facebook, although not typically about his own music, but just daily life like bartending and what to buy at the grocery store.

But the fact is, he moved back to Tennessee and has a studio there I believe. And 2 singles were released only a couple of years ago "Could You Love Me Now" and "Looks and Money," within the period he was making music for commercials and animated films.

The fact he did that TED Talk recently and with the re-release/vinyl release of Subliminal Plastic Motives, it seems he is still focusing on the sElf music, it's just when a new collection of tunes comes may or may not be just this year. But perhaps still sooner than later.

Darroh Sudderth
Lead singer from what appears to be the in transition or hiatus band Fair to Midland. I know in 1 or more interviews a few years ago he talked about a solo record, which I recall style-wise would not be so much like the heavy rock of FTM, but possibly more folky?

And I found a post or 2 on FB from 2012 where it was mentioned a record could be coming from him. But it's now been over a year since then (I think it was in November or December).

But with Fair to Midland's status unclear, maybe that solo record will come to the surface in 2014 finally.
I love the man's voice and songwriting, so if/when a solo release from Darroh/Andrew comes, it'll be worth hearing.

Tiles - Other Arrangements
I used to be pretty into this Michigan-based progressive rock band in the mid-late 90's. Presents of Mind and their S/T especially I used to listen to a lot, even if they did sound a lot like Rush, but in a good way. Mike Portnoy is a guest on some of this record too. They have been active in the last decade or more, I just haven't been as into their recent music. But perhaps with Portnoy and some other factors, this record will renew my interest in them. Terry Brown is producing and Hugh Syme is doing the artwork again for them, so those are also pluses.

The Velvet Teen
This band have posted here and there about a new record in the works the past few years. I absolutely love 2004's Elysium, although I would be surprised what they may release will resemble that record much. But at this point, I am interested in hearing anything from them. Hopefully it will finally come out soon, potentially this year, since its been 4 years since their last release 2010's No Star EP, and 8 since their last full length 2006's Cum Laude.

Steven Wilson
The odds of the next record from Steven coming in 2014 seem slim to none, but KSCOPE music, his record label posted something yesterday (2/21) that his next record will be made in 2014.

ququRi/Kukuri (Misato Yamanaka ex-Kacica?) - Phantom Theater (2013)

In just doing a little research for another entry coming soon, I wondered what has happened to the great Japanese post/prog band Kacica, and it seems they have vanished. Their Facebook is gone, their homepage it appears as well. And Misato Yamanaka, their singer took the "kacica" part out of her twitter url, and changed it to "yamanakamisato" instead.

But I noticed on her twitter page a link to this musical project called "ququRi" (or "Kukuri"?) and went to said site (and used Google Chrome's translator) to check it out. Although it doesn't show her name there, but it has the below debut record Phantom Theater and track list along with the 2 Soundcloud links below. And I must say, those tunes are rather nice! Not exactly like Kacica, more acoustic and piano driven, but so what.

It appears Phantom Theater was released last April.

edit: Here's the profile on their website:

pianist / composer Akiko Sakakibara vocals and the mountains of Misato kacica.
2 who were born and raised in Nara formed a ququRi (kukri) in 2012.
Named Kukri is derived from (God of princess enclosed) Kikurihime God.

So it seems this is a 2-member project with Misato and this other female japanese musician Akiko Sakakibara.

It also appears there's a bunch of nice live videos on Youtube. And actually some other live Kacica videos are linked there, with some songs I don't recall like "Last" "Herbert"  and "Rainbow" which sounds familiar. Those videos appear to be from their 2011 Fall/Winter tour of Japan. So, a few years ago, but not so long ago. Maybe Kacica is just on hiatus? I sent Misato a message on twitter just asking about that and ququRi, so maybe that will help.

edit 2: Here's Misato's reply to me on Twitter. New band is called


@AllMediaReviews kacica has stopped activity now.New band's name is "AYNIW TEPO"(ainiu tepo) Please check this.(^^)→

So, going about hearing this whole record may not be so easy, but if I can manage to do so, I am rather interested, even if it may be as an alternative to Kacica for now, or forever.

1, biscuits
2, moonlight
3, china
4, goldfish
5, sheep
6, tunnel of love
7, film of that day

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Aston Shuffle - Never Take It Away feat. Mayer Hawthorne [Single] (2014)

Great uplifting tune! Never heard of this group The Aston Shuffle, but this song is niice

I wonder if it was this, that Mayer was in the studio working on like a month ago? perhaps, although it doesn't change the fact he has a lot of music that was written and recorded I recall, that hasn't been released yet.

But as for The Aston Shuffle, maybe I need to hear more from them? Maybe they'll be 2014's synthy/dancey breakthrough group like Capital Cities was in 2013?

From the forthcoming album "Photographs", out March 28th.
Pre-order now and receive this and 3 other tracks pre-release.

Significant Albums: dredg - El Cielo (2002)


Another *deep* record with which probably warrants a more extensive background, that may end up being put into this blog, but I'm sure I'll not be able to include it all tonight.

dredg is a band I have grown to love and their music has meant a ton to me. And while I still appreciate every one of their records, this is their highest art in some ways to me. Like Marillion's Brave in a way, the feeling, images, nostalgia, goose-bump moments, and what hits my brain when I listen to many parts of this album, are like staples in my existence.

It's at least partially a concept album about people's experience with Sleep Paralysis, which I thankfully cannot relate to, but still empathize with. But I also think the way the tones and lyrics that are used in this, can be connected on, with many other things. And naturally one of them is love and relationships.

Which brings me to the association I will likely always have with one of my favorite movies, Michel Gondry's The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; which is a movie that tells the story about 2 people who have the memory's of their what seems like failed relationship erased.

dredg wrote and recorded this album long before that movie was made, so it of course is more or less pure coincidence, yet still rather fascinating how it was discovered this album syncs up rhythmically/lyrically/tonally with that movie. The song "I'm Sorry But It's Over" maybe being the most coincidental as Kate Winslet basically is saying that very thing to Jim Carrey's character when that song comes on.

And as hard to believe, it was watching that movie with this album that kind of made me realize the unique element of this record, and got me to start listening to it and even the band in a different way I suppose.

The use of strings, the way this album flows so well, stands out. It almost is more of a *suite* like Marillion's Misplaced Childhood or Fates Warning's A Pleasant Shade of Gray in a sense. And for that reason, I do enjoy this album all at once, rather than hearing the tracks at random or selectively.

"Here We Go, down that Same ol road again..."

As much as something like "Bug Eyes" is dredg's most well known track, I think that line is probably their most well known line.

I guess to highlight some specifics though, tracks like "Convalescent" which I often think of a 50's or 60's family home like Leave it to Beaver or something from Big Fish or Pleasantville when I hear Mark Engles guitar riff at the beginning. and makes me imagine being in some old fashioned automobile, coming home to the family or something. It's almost dreamy. But the way that tune crescendos is just infectious. The line:

Maybe you've never seen it
Maybe you've never been through it
It's the only way to understand it
Save your clever statements
Brave yourself if you want in
It's the only way to understand it
To understand it

"Whoa is Me" also really stands out, as I always get goosebumps hearing the ending with Gavin's soaring vocals and the saxophone. "Waiting for the Snow ....When the water comes, I will over flow I will overflowwww ohhhh ohhhhh." Great saxophone, great building crescendo, and rather sad/sympathetic sounding ending (although go figure, with a song of that title). Those lyrics almost read like a story thinking about at the point when the weather gets warm enough to have the snow melt, something bad or sad may happen. Almost like a snowman? lol (Frosty?)

And it segues so well into "The Canyon Behind Her."

The line "Does anybody feel this way? does anybody feel the way I half of me is gone, but the lonesome part remains" just so sad yet powerful. This song gives this image of someone whose lost a loved one, or lost part of himself in some dark, horror/scifi story. Half of this person's essence was taken away, died, or went to heaven or hell. And I always think of a guy or girl sitting near a cliff looking onto a desert landscape. It's kind of surreal, which is another reason I am in awe of that song and the end of this album.

I think it was that song and those lyrics that 1st grabbed my attention to the band in general. Before that, I kind of thought they were just a rap-core band,or a band who just wanted to sound like Tool. But far from that I would come to learn, and there's a reason why Canyon closes this album and is the last song they play at most if not all shows in the encore. Call it "epic" or just call it a piece of music that can be impossible to ignore. It almost could be considered a spiritual or religious hymn or prayer actually.

Other songs or aspects to El Cielo stand out, from "Sanzen" to "Triangle" and for one, its reference to "Penguins in the Desert" from Leitmotif.

We live like penguins in the desert
Why can't we live like tribes?

The ending of that track just soars in the whole "born into silence, and let it all be... a fortune in silence"

To "Eighteen People Living in Harmony" which I love how it builds and the 2nd half builds 

Art is dying, is art dead?
Art is dying, is art dead?
Believe it, we need to move on.
A one track mind in a one way time,
Let's go ahead and gentrify,
We let art die with robot minds,
They steal the brush and paint boundary lines.
A stale kind of people we'll find,
Walking in single file line,
I think it's time we finally rewind,

Let's go ahead, we might as well

which repeats the chorus and then goes into a trippy almost backwords guitar interlude.

The guys in dredg love Pink Floyd, so there are moments I totally think they may have been going for a Floyd thing, from the samples to those dynamic sections that go spacey and quiet.

"Of the Room" I have always enjoyed, including the poetic lyrics (which a lot of this album's lyrics read lie poetry anyway), but for some reason i have always thought of the Jeff Buckley tune "Mojo Pin" in a way. The reference to a 'White Squalls" and on Mojo Pin referencing to "Black Beauty" I think of a black and white horse for some reason. Or horses or the story/movie? The Black Stallion.perhaps. Even though the term "squall" refers to a gust of wind, the idea of wind and riding a horse or horses kind of fits, so that connection, while may sound silly or a reach of sorts to some, I am not surprised the two might hit me. 

The uses of samples, and dynamics, to even the ethnic chanting and the rather clean production adds even more to how much this album stands out. It's really a work of art, that even though it was just their 2nd record, it seemed they spent the many years leading up to making. In fact dredg seem to be one of the best groups at doing that. Which is one of the reasons why, even with a smaller catalog than some bands, the quality of their work could be all the better because of the time and effort (and patience) they have spent creating them. And El Cielo being their most unique. I don't find any of their records, nor really any other records are quite like it. I just wonder if they will ever make something as revered as it again (Pariah I found came close a few years ago).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Significant Albums: Jerry Goodman and Jan Hammer - Like Children (1974)

File:Like Children.jpeg

Odd enough in the random numbers this record comes up right after another record from 1974 in Yes's Relayer. Maybe 1974 was the year of Jazz-Rock? lol

Anyway, this album I find to be the best thing any of the members of Mahavishnu Orchestra have ever done. Even though a few of the songs were recorded on what ended up as The Lost Trident Sessions, and performed live with Mahavishnu on Between Nothingness and Eternity. The stuff on here, and those versions of "Stepping Tones," "Sister Andrea," and "I Wonder," I prefer. There is something about the less-is-more and clean production on this record which always wins me over.

My friend Creighton once brought this album down to KFAI and played 4 or 5 cuts off of it on the air. He didn't mention who it was until after playing them. And I will never forget how much he stressed in finding a copy of it, at the now long since gone, record store in St.Paul, MN (the store might have been called "One Stop Music Shop"? but I'm not certain). He mentioned how shocked he was to find it, and thought he'd never see a copy after his friend Tim had showed him it years before.

I'm not sure entirely how rare it was, but it certainly is less well known than most of the classic Mahavishnu records.

I guess as much as I love John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham especially, there is something incredibly warm and vintage about the way Jan Hammer and Jerry Goodman not only were featured on their primary instruments (keys and violin), but also Hammer on drums and Goodman on guitars. They fit each piece so well. And the production, both the original and the remaster, I just am in awe how clean and clear it is.

The songs themselves: "Country and Eastern Music" is a rocker that even the vocals stand out in many ways.

Like Children....., they are free to be up or down...
Dance to Country and Eastern Music, Feel the sweet balance of Life!..

I adore not only Hammer's moog synths on this track, but that gunning guitar riff is really ballsy. Also the bass line, which may be from Mahavishnu's Rick Laird, as I know he plays on some of this album, but which tracks specifically? I'd have to look it up.

Some of my other favorites include "Earth Still Our Home," "No Fear," "Stepping Tones," "Full Moon Boogie" and the closing track "Giving in Gently/I Wonder" is a favorite.  The walking piano on "I Wonder" I totally love. And Goodman's guitar part more or less takes some of what McLaughlin did on the Mahavishnu version, and made it his own.

This album can sound a little bit like a 70's hippie record; but with some tight compositions, that are both laden in Jazz and Rock (or prog). But it has its funky side, it's dynamics, its textures. Yet, it always sounds stripped down in a good way.

Maybe it was like if you took Mahavishnu or Return to Forever, and isolated a lot of the great melodic and harmonic ideas, and added some adequate vocal lines. When I listen to it, I feel like I'm living in 1974, hanging out at the lake on a sunny afternoon in July. Looking at a river, or a garden or a meadow or something, and am at peace. It really is a record I find is bright in tone and mood. Could drugs have made some impact on it? sure, perhaps, but what music being made in 1974 didn't?

And while I do enjoy a lot of the other Mahavishnu records and related works, I just find this album stands out as a blend of their sound and other influences in great way. Is it dated? some probably feel that's the case, but the remastering job I find does help alleviate some of that.

Significant Albums: Yes - Relayer (1974)

File:Relayer front cover.jpg

This is my favorite Yes record. Patrick Moraz is a very big reason for that. The wall of sound he created on this was really, like no other I've ever heard. I wonder how many synth/keyboard tracks were used on "The Gates of Delirium?" Maybe dozens.

I guess I'm not going to try and give my entire history with the band Yes with this, but I can say, originally I never got totally into Yes. I liked Roundabout and a few of their other tracks, and then I checked out Tales from Topographic Oceans and was more or less turned off.

Maybe a year or two later, I ended up picking up Close to the Edge, Fragile and this album, and had all of them inside the Jukebox cd player I got from Best Buy. And I often would fall asleep listening to music at random on that thing. I had a dream or two where some of their music seemed to be in, in the background, etc. Close to the Edge I recall specifically. But I think it was at that point, I was convinced to invest the time into their music more so.

That was probably around 1999 or 2000. And then I met some friends, 1 specifically, from being on KFAI, named Creighton. Creighton and I attended Nearfest together along with some other friends named Tim and Gino. And of course we'd listen to music during the non-concert time periods, and I specifically remember Tim playing Relayer, and "The Gates of Delirium" specifically, a handful of times on those trips. I think it may have partially had to do with the fact Yes were on the "Masterworks" tour in 2000 and played TGoD, and then I think the next year they played it as well (with an Orchestra/String section?). And I remember the show in Chicago was free and we went on KFAI just after Nearfest and Tim mentioned that show.

Sadly, I did not end up seeing shows on either of those tours. It was a budget thing, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to regretting it.

So, I just ended up listening to this record a lot in that time period. I listened to a lot more Yes in the early 2000's than any other time. But this album I just seemed to go back to the most. I kind of see it as Yes at their most virtuosic, at least "The Gates of Delirium" was. And it was their most experimental while still not losing focus for the song/part/melody etc.

TGOD is just a trip. It features quite complex/multiple-tracks of guitars and keyboard textures that at times almost sound like guitars. It's a roller coaster really. And at times a battle of sound and echo or call-and-response between Howe, Moraz and even Squire at times.

Lyrically, I know it's some-of, if not the darkest stuff Jon Anderson has ever written. My Yes-savant friend John mentioned when we played it on KFAI, how the Vietnam war likely served much inspiration/influence for the lyrics.

"Listen, should we fight forever...
Kill them, give them as they give us..
The fist will run, grasp metal to gun"

The whole battle section is intense and heavy. I think the way it is so heavy, made me grasp onto it like I would progressive metal. Even though John would call it more in the Jazz-Rock vein. I just always hear the different sections getting more intense and layered so-to-speak, which makes it come across louder and thus, heavier to me.

And of course it all closes with the gorgeous ballad section of "Soon," which is just so fitting. It may be my favorite Yes ballad of sorts anyway.

But, so I was at that point, being floored by TGoD and then got to taking in both "Sound Chaser" and "To Be Over," which were both quite different tunes from TGoD, but they seemed to work really well on this record.

Moraz also was featured largely on "Sound Chaser", and it admittedly, has some of the oddest use of minor keys, at least within the composition of a Rock song. The whole "cha cha cha, cha cha" at 1st I thought was cheesy, but then started to enjoy more and more. And like on Gates, it seemed Steve Howe uses refrains and echoes to the songs advantage. It almost sounds like a Jimmy Page approach. I guess I'm a sucker for a guitar texture, when it sounds cool, used to its fullest.

And the rhythms are almost dance-able in a way.Squire and White I think get overlooked on this album.

"To Be Over" is very unlike the other two pieces on here, but works really well as the last act of this record. It's a gorgeous piece that I never find drags or overstays its welcome. The pacing and tone is perfect. The pedal-steel guitar is anthemic I kind of see it as the happy closing chapter to this journey. The way To Be Over introduces the uplifting moods, it's almost spiritual. Yes often can get deep, almost too deep for me like on a track like "Awaken." But on "To Be Over" the balance of enlightening instrumental tones and how the vocals are used, never gets too deep for me. The vocals are kind of less is more in that sense, especially the way the keys and guitars make more or less every second of this song. The ending even with the background chants with the pedal-steel is as enjoyable a part of the whole record.

I probably will also think of Hawaii and in 2003, Yes played it there, (with a string section?), and I wanted to go, but also wanted to go to New York City to see Mike Portnoy play Led Zeppelin tunes. And it was in September I think, and going to Hawaii when it's warm in Minnesota seemed slightly less beneficial, than in say in January?. So, I went to see Hammer of the Gods in NYC instead, but damn, seeing Yes play "To Be Over" in Hawaii I'm sure would have been a memory I'd never forget.

Relayer, it just seemed/still seems to be the right length, approach to songs, textures, studio production. Despite Moraz replacing Wakeman and it only being the 2nd record with Alan White. I have always felt it just all came together, kind of when Yes was in transition, on the heals of the much polarized Tales. I also love the Drama record, so maybe for me, I find my favorite Yes, is the Yes when they aren't exactly like the Yes many people know and enjoy them for? lol

Maybe this album and that idea has something to do with a response to adversity? Or maybe it was having Patrick Moraz bring some new ideas to the band at that time?

Yes included 4 tracks of 20 minutes a piece on Tales, but this album only had 1 song over 20 minutes. In a way, it's sort of improving on the idea of Tales in some ways, in, instead of including 4 side-long pieces, just get all the best ideas into 1 side long piece? and then the other 2 pieces work as slightly shorter, but complement the 1 extensive piece? At least just from a comparison and reflection to their last record.

I also think it was kind of a studio experiment that worked extremely well, but when done live, maybe not so much. Gates is on Yesshows, and I have never found it to be as engaging as the studio track. Which ironically, most of the stuff on Yessongs, I like more in some ways. But, Bruford vs White, Wakeman vs Moraz live, etc. maybe had something to do with that.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Reign of Kindo Spring 2014 Tour (no MPLS, but Chicago)

So, if a Minneapolis or St.Paul date is not added, as it doesn't appear it will (the 13th would be only date, but why would they come to MN after Tennessee and before Indianapolis? the routing doesn't make sense).

Passover begins Monday April 14th, which would mean if I wanted to go to the Chicago show, I'd miss the 2nd night/seder which really isn't seder, but more of just dinner. Then again, attending the Nashville,TN show on Saturday the 12th might not be much difference in price and would not force me to miss work nor anything Passover-related.

Nothing I see, but I wonder/suspect they'll have a few other bands on tour, I wonder if The Dear Hunter could be one of them. Then again, that's the fanboy in me of course.

2013 Bend Sinister in Chicago.
2014 Bend Sinister in St.Paul, MN

2014: The Reign of Kindo in Chicago (or TN).
2015: The Reign of Kindo in Minneapolis or St.Paul?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Team Me - TBA (2014)

2/17/14 4:32PM
You can stream the 1st single "F is for Faker" at thSoundcloud Link (no embed *rolls eyes*)

Nice tune!. It has the Team Me energy and uplifting vibe, and the riffs.

12/31/13 7:30PM
I really enjoyed this Norwegian band's debut record from 2011, To the Treetops, more and more. In fact, I maybe have grown to enjoy it even more since 2011. It's just one of those high-energy records that was sort of a good go-to records to wake up or just escape or hear something uplifting. The melodies are often so strong and dreamy, they don't leave my brain for many hours.

So, nothing I have seen is official, but with these 6 (oops, not 4) recent studio videos, I would expect their next record to come out in 2014, and likely pretty early.

Mew fans I'm sure are watching their social media outlets everyday, but I would imagine many of their fans could catch on to this band next year if they haven't already.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

King's X (or "Sneak Preview") - "Linda" (from 1983)

Wow. I had never heard nor seen this video or song before. Not a bad, catchy tune. As much as I love King's X. I have not heard all that much of the music they made before their debut album Out of the Silent Planet, from 1988. But of course I know of their history, which dates nearly a decade before that record (1979 I believe is when Dug Pinnick and Ty Tabor met).

But the hardcore and longtime fans know a lot about this stuff, especially if they lived in Springfield, MO where Sneak Preview and the other names they went by (The Edge I recall being another).

I wonder if those folks have uploaded many other videos from these periods, as I'd be curious to see or hear more. I do have a bootleg or 2 of them playing a few covers like Roxanne by The Police. And I know they would play covers frequently. I even remember hearing about them covering Rush ("Tom Sawyer" I recall).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bend Sinister: March 20th, 2013 on JBTV (yeah, I was there)

2/13/14 5:12PM

This is "One Shot."

I wrote a review of sorts of both shows in the March 21st entry "Bend Sinister in Chicago 3/20/13"
obviously they played a few more tracks and I recall did an interview. Unfortunately at this time, I'm not finding that stuff on Youtube nor on JBTV's site at this time. But hopefully soon.

I guess 1 thing I'll never forget about this thing at JBTV was, I was like THE ONLY FAN THERE, lol. So it felt like a private, almost house-show, which was odd, but very cool at the same time.

Hopefully the rest of this will be available soon, perhaps even before the Bend Sinister show at The Turf Club next month.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Austenland DVD: Nelly's "Hot in Here" montage = GOLD

I caught this Keri Russell-starring DVD last evening with the gf (her pick, although I didn't think it looked bad from seeing a trailer a little while back). And the film itself, really was mediocre at best. But the ending credits had my gf and I on the floor!

I suppose part of it is IN CONTEXT as they are all dressed up in Jane Austen-style/novels period clothing, and the setting.

It did remind me of some of the Psych-outs from the tv series Psych.

I suppose this might belong more in the All Media Reviews: Not Music Blog, but perhaps I'll cross-post since it still is involving and related to music.

I just wish I could come up with what other movies or tv series musical ending credits it reminded me of (The Howling II came to mind, but that isn't the only or best/most similar to this one).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Significant Albums: Marillion - Marbles [Deluxe/Campaign Edition] (2004)


The most recent absolute classic record from Marillion. And it's actually 10 years old this year, which I must be dating myself, because it doesn't feel even close to that long ago it came out.

There's a long list of reasons why this record is so significant to me. Maybe 1st and foremost, when it was released in 2004, it was coming off two good, but not amazing records by a band who I fairly or unfairly, hold maybe at a higher standard than any other given my own personal love and bias towards them. In other words, they were at the time, and still remain my favorite band of all-time.

Anoraknaphobia and are both records I enjoyed at the time and still do, but don't place as highly as many their others. And I would say even going back to This Strange Engine, it had been since Afraid of Sunlight, when they genuinely made a record that I loved every moment of. And I really came to the point of not expecting anything on that level again.

But they did it. They totally did it on this record. And I had done the whole campaign for Anorak, but after that, I just decided to buy this after sampling it.

But this was hit right out of the park. Every track stands out in some way. "The Invisible Man" I loved when I 1st heard it, and still love now. The crescendo is just so infectious and moody. It's one of Steve Hogarth's best vocal performances, and one of the best musical climaxes ever written.

And the scary thing was originally when I bought it in the Summer of 2004, my copy didn't include" Ocean Cloud." I was busy that Summer adoring that track, "Neverland," and "Drilling Holes" among the rest of the record, but the US Edition didn't include "Ocean Cloud," "Genie," "The Damage" and I think one other track. I do recall though having to special order a copy of the cd per either Roadrunner Records or The Electric Fetus, and being extremely pissed off not for the fact it didn't include those tracks, but THE PRICE being like $25 or $30. And I unhappily paid said music store that much for the cd, but could not figure out why it was so bloody expensive.

The explanation is kind of a bad memory and mystery to me still, but my guess is I couldn't find it in retail or figured it would take too long to import. I recall around this time, I wanted-to, but was unable to use my cc or paypal on the Racket Records site. But why I didn't use Amazon or cduniverse (or even Ebay) I guess I may never know. I suppose it may have been the whole import price and time, and I was being impatient wanting the bloody thing asap.

But I would guess it was sometime around July or early August (Mike Portnoy's forum history would likely show it) I saw all the buzz around the extra/campaign edition tracks, I was able to find them eventually and totally got won over. "Ocean Cloud" I eventually grew to like maybe more than "The Invisible Man." The dynamics, and layers, and samples on that song created such a wonderful atmosphere. Pink Floydy in a lot of ways.  It is kind of a melancholy piece lyrically, about a man, possibly who makes his living at sea, not wanting to settle down like most normal people.

"You can take all the boys and the girls in the world
I wouldn't trade them this morning for my sweet Ocean Cloud
I've seen too much of life
So the sea is my wife and a sweet ocean cloud is a mistress I'm allowed
for now."

I know Hogarth has had relationship up and downs, and not every one has worked out for him, So maybe writing about a man retreating to the water, and attaching himself to that environment, it became his way of living. Maybe lonely in some ways, but to him, therapeutic perhaps. I dunno, I've always sort of been taken away by the music more than the lyrics directly. Although I do enjoy when he drops certain things like Barbados and radios. I guess my life being a homebody and someone who hadn't had much if any luck in relationships, I kind of related to some of this. The water or ocean was his sanctuary. I often listen to this song wanting to be lost at sea, but safe and at peace.

"Genie" is another track I adore on this album.  Simple, yet the use of vocal textures is just perfectly captured for the tone. And it has a great climax as well.

I'm scared of everything I am
I'm scared of opening the can
I'm scared of losing who I am
Think I might've taken all I can
I let the genie out of the box

"Drilling Holes" has that wonderful driving, adrenaline infused riff that leads to that calming line "It was just one of those days When the mind strays One of those days When everyone plays." The shifting dynamics and some have mentioned the Beatles influence, stick out among other parts of this track. I also for some reason think of the story Lord of the Flies when listening to this song. Maybe it tells the story of kids playing amongst themselves. The "insects" reference maybe I think of with the insects or *flies* on the island those kids are on.

"Neverland" is probably the most loved tune on this album universally, and I get why. It's really dreamy and almost inspiring. Although I'll admit, I often think of Peter Pan, when I hear it (beyond the title), I have no idea if the band or Hogarth specifically titled it for that Peter Pan reference. The lyric "I want to be someone, someone I want to be" etc, I kind of hear a dream of so many out there, wanting to find themself making a mark on the world. Whether it be famous, or just accomplish something. And it does speak to me and many others in that sense. It also does just stand out as a wonderful closing track, with an infectious flow to it. The whole vocal echoing with Mark Kelly's floating synths just give you an incredibly uplifting feeling. It actually might be a great tune to play at a wedding or awards ceremony or something. I could see an Orchestra totally bringing it to even greater heights actually. It's just 1 of those pieces of music that almost transcends it's original format.

But I cannot also forget so many other parts of this record. "Angelina" is a cool sad/relatable mesmerizing track where I think of hearing a soothing voice late at night on the radio (and in fact I have played it on the radio).

"Fantastic Place" is frankly, pretty fantastic. A fantasy tune, that musically I hear a lot of U2 on, but in such a cool way.

"The Damage" is very Beatles-like. It almost sounds like something from the Abbey Road period. Very catchy. I wish I could say the same about "Lucky Man."

"The Only Unforgivable Thing" I probably think of for hearing some dude at the show I saw in Chicago say to another person talking "the only unforgivable thing is talking during a Marillion concert." Lol, but it leads to in a classic Marillion element, something very cool in the bridge. I swear Marillion have written like 10 or more tunes like this, and I love it when it happens. Where it's a song that starts out slow, and doesn't sound like it's going anywhere, and then eventually starts to get trippy and rocks out in such a great way.

"Don't Hurt Yourself" is probably the catchiest track on Marbles, and one that I never get sick of. It almost sounds like The Eagles or Neil Young or something, but the melody just stays in your head for hours.

"You're Gone" is another track that could have been played on the radio. The wall-of-sound textures at times, with Hogarth's impassioned lyrics and vocal lines. 'You are the light, you have the day, I have the night." I mean it does speak to saying goodbye to someone, but almost in a good way. Almost like if you were a parent sending your kid off to camp or college or something (or in a relationship with someone, and they are leaving to college or for a job or some other reason), but you still have the memories or something. It almost is a song that could be sad, but actually ends up being happy.

And then there is the "Marbles Suite" which I think adds a very storybook-quality to this album. Almost in narrative, or telling a story of someone's childhood (Hogarth's I recall reading once), in 4 phases or chapters at least. 

This is a double album, that seems to work best as a double rather than single record. The production/mixing/mastering also stands out among many other parts of it.

But I think maybe the most significant part of this album was it really proved to me to never doubt this band again. Even if they never make a record at this level again, I just can't discount that 25+ years into their career, they made a record as good as anything they'd ever done. It felt like to me, Marillion saying, yeah,we may be older, but we still know how to make an album you can revere like many of our others. And it'll still sound modern and not exactly like our music from so many years ago.

And who knows, it would not surprise me to see them make another record this good again.

Significant Albums: The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Meaning of and All Things Regarding Ms.Leading


This has been my favorite record of The Dear Hunter's, more or less since it was released. Sure, I love Act I nearly as much, and adore nearly all of Act III as well, but this album is just without flaw. And people say it's too long? I feel it's more or less the proper length. Or rather, I enjoy it most all at once, and don't find myself wanting it to end, even at the end of "Vital Vessels Vindicates."

Lord, I don't know how extensive the details will be included here initially about it, but I will include at least some of them for now.

I love the layering, the styles incorporated being ragtime, progressive rock, Beatles and Beach Boys like harmonies and instrumentation.  Some of those melodies I will never forget. When I listen to it now, I do get a ton of nostalgia to the Summer and Fall of 2007. "Red Hands," I'll admit, I still adore and think it's the most accessible track the band has ever made (as much as Casey may not agree, and at least doesn't quite love it, for that or just for what it is).

The chorus is just so addictive to sing along to. And the way he brought it in with the strings towards the end, I often get tears just thinking about the passion or emotion put in to it. "Oh My God What Have I Done? Now My Darling Put Your Clothes Back On."

Shit, my train of thought is leaving me....

I mean just going down the track list, "The Procession," "The Lake and the River," "The Oracles and the Delphi Express," and "The Church and the Dime," just offer a great sense about how The Dear Hunter have so many influences. From the time changes, to the choruses and lyrics that return or get referenced. They are 4 songs, but almost seem like 6 or 8, with the transitions and change in style. Among them, I guess I think of the deep vocal section of "The Lake and the River" "Eat so much but I never get full" . For some reason, the track "Nauticus" from Pain of Salvation, I get reminded of in that section. Musically and lyrically, they aren't that similar, but the whole slow, rhythmic deep (baritone?) vocal use and what sounds almost gospel or preaching/prayer-like, and sort of in a random, out-of-the-blue way in style, those 2 songs/section I seem to think of.

"Smiling Swine" I guess I will always associate with The Beatles "A Day in the Life"..the whole rhythm and use of vocal dynamics. I thought I read or heard once of Casey's love for that Beatles song or at least that song being inspired by The Beatles. It might have been other Beatles like something off of Abbey Road or something. I also for some reason think of the story being at a Hotel or something, and The Who's "Bell Boy" ideal if not music specifically.

I guess that is one point where the story seems to be as big a deal as the music. But unlike many Rock Operas (not including Quadrophenia tho) and story/dialogue based albums/music, The Dear Hunter's storytelling and narrative totally works and avoids the issues with a lot of the cheesy melodramatic elements of those kinds of albums. The music still does come first and the vocals are not written for the story, but for the song still.

The story itself, while I honestly don't attach myself to, I find appealing enough to wonder about. It does pickup from where Act I left off about the young man Hunter's exploits and encounters, in this case, with a call-girl who he falls in love with, but then learns about what her intentions and identity are. Although I kind of see her as initially trying to deceive him, but ultimately wanting what's best for him.

I love the ending of this record to bits, as I stated earlier with this album not dragging or seeming too long. In fact the last 3 or 4 tracks in some ways are the most memorable. From "Red Hands" on, I seem to receive ear worms with nearly every track. "Dear Ms.Leading" is such a great rocking tune. The vocal harmonies and the way it builds. The organ texture works so well, almost in a Deep Purple-kind of way. And Casey's screaming totally fits.

"Where the Road Parts" and "Black Sandy Beaches" are dreamy and just impossible to leave my head. The line "You were the only one that didn't fold"....I keep hearing over and over. And actually recall loving the original demo which I think was just titled "You Were the Only One That Didn't Fold." It's just a tear-dropper, the way it builds and the dreamy floating synths with the vocal chants.

"The Bitter Suite" suite, and "Evicted" I would say the same about as well. Dreamy, mesmerizing, and another great example of The Dear Hunter's use of falsetto vocal harmonies, that I totally love. Whether that is partly due to Casey's love of The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson or just his general interest in using them, especially at the time he wrote this, I dunno. Although I suppose the overt Beach Boys-like moments aren't as evident on this album as they are on a couple of tracks on both Act I and Act III, they still seem to be noticed enough.

Blech. I guess for now, I can just add or conclude, this is a special record that while it may not be exactly the kind of music The Dear Hunter are making now, and wasn't my introduction to the band initially. It totally cemented my love for them and Casey Crescenzo as a songwriter and musician. It's a record with a ton of ideas and a ton of moments to enjoy. And it's very progressive rock-like but in a modern way, screaming being one-of but not the only part of that. I hope for the day Casey makes something I enjoy even more than this, but if it never happens I can't say I will be disappointed.