Monday, August 15, 2016

The Tangent Release Short Film Reacting To Brexit

Progger Andy Tillison and his top-notch outfit, The Tangent, have released a 20 minute short film (i.e., a standard-length prog song) raging against the popular rhetoric and racist vitriol surrounding the recent vote in England for that country to renounce its membership in the European Union. "A Few Steps Down The Wrong Road" is loud, brash, and unapologetic in its intensity, featuring alternating narration, singing, and instrumental passages. It's about as punk as a prog song can get.

On his Facebook page, Tillison offered the following dedication: "So For all those people, for Marie Eve, for Dagmara, For Tushar, for my amazing students from countries I don't even know how to pronounce. who teach me more than I teach them - this song is for you. It's a song from a man who loves his Yorkshire, his England, his Britain and his Europe more than the self serving hacks from the tabloid press seem to love anything. This is The Tangent. We are a PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND. This is our new song. Play as loud as you can - and make sure you listen to the very end."

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Devin Townsend Project Release New Single, "Failure"

The Devin Townsend Project have released "Failure" as the first single for their upcoming album Transcendence, due out on September 9th from Inside Out Music.

In addition to serving as a relatively accessible first listen for Transcendence, this song includes some notable departures from the Devin Townsend Project's past releases. The track features an extended guitar solo from about 2:15 until about the 4 minute mark, when synths come to the fore. Mostly eschewing technical wankery, the solo is an exploration that complements the contemplative mood of "Failure." In a departure from the usual spotlighting of Anneke Van Giersbergen's gorgeous contributions, all backing vocals are folded into the big 'choir' effect on the chorus, leaving the focus squarely on Devin's soaring laments. Finally, the mix feels more airy and centered on keys and drums, as opposed to the denser guitar-dominated approach that Devin sometimes takes.

 USA Omerch Pre-Order

The DTP must have been feeling pretty cheeky to release "Failure" as the first single from the new album, as it clearly succeeds. It's a strong track in its own right, it includes many musical trademarks that longtime fans will expect (soaring vocals, heavy riffs, exploration of dark moods and textures), but it also distinguishes itself with the long guitar solo and lighter mixing. In interviews, Devin has talked up the significance of the collaborative writing approach for Transcendence, and it seems to have paid off with, ironically, a spectacular "Failure."

To follow up the new single, Devin Townsend will participate in a Facebook Live Q&A on August 10, at around Noon his time (Vancouver time?).

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kansas Are Back, Nothing's Changed, And That's Fine

Relentless, Unchanging...

Kansas are many years removed from their days as a chart-topping arena act, and have taken a decade-and-a-half to record a studio album of new material. Now, having acquired a new vocalist and signed with Inside Out Music, they have announced a new album and begun releasing some teaser material.

Unsurprisingly, Kansas & Inside Out Music have chosen an upbeat ballad as the first full preview track from their upcoming album, The Prelude Implicit. To anyone who has lost touch with the band, or who simply found themselves skeptical of a new vocalist, "With This Heart" announces that Ronnie Platt and the band are quite prepared to make this new Kansas album a worthy event.

David Ragsdale
 and Platt are front and center here in a track that leans more toward a classic 80's Kansas sound (think Drastic Measures and In The Spirit Of Things) than it does toward "Carry On Wayward Son." But that choice may reveal a strength overlooked by casual fans, who forget that this band has been around for a long time after the 70's. There's nothing new or spectacular here, but the track is refreshingly mundane--no gimmicks needed, as Kansas simply turn in a song that is clearly Kansas and nothing else. And that's enough for now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The July Playlist: Summer Jamz

What does it take to make a song worthy of the title 'summer jam'?

Common ingredients seem to include pop hooks, bouncy rhythms, electric guitars, and topics such as romantic love, sunshine, cars, and dreams for the future. It probably also helps if it cruises well and includes some catchy theremin licks.

The following playlist includes all of the above ingredients.

1. Haley Reinhart- Show Me Your Moves
2. Prince- Compassion
3. Yes- Roundabout
4. ELO- State of Mind
5. They Might Be Giants- Bills, Bills, Bills
6. Anneke Van Giersbergen- Take Me Home
7. Leigh Nash- The State I'm In
8. Chuck Berry- Maybellene
9. Bill Mallonee- Wintergreen
10. Brian Wilson- Good Vibrations
11. Paul Gilbert- Make It (If We Try) + Full I Can Destroy album stream