Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Matinee: Concerto for a Rainy Day by Electric Light Orchestra

Progressive Epics. Folky Meditations. Extended Jazz Improvisations. Some songs are just long, y'know? So when better to sit down and take it all in than on a Saturday with your beverage of choice in hand?

Today's Matinee: "Concerto for a Rainy Day" comprises the entirety of Side 3 of Electric Light Orchestra's 1977 Out of the Blue album. While "Mr. Blue Sky" has over time become a signature single for Jeff Lynne and ELO, it originally appeared as the finale of this side-length 'concerto'. The relentlessly positive track provokes an even bigger smile when experienced after the beautiful melancholy of "Big Wheels" and the sense of futility expressed in "Standin' in the Rain" and "Summer and Lightning." Come for the big pop hooks, stay for Richard Tandy, King of the Vocoder.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Magenta Release Trojan EP Ahead Of New Album

Welsh progressive outfit Magenta have released Trojan E.P. ahead of the April 27 street date for their upcoming LP We Are Legend. The extended play single comprises an edit and remix versions for the album opening 26 minute epic, "Trojan."

This single edit for "Trojan" is the longest musical preview Magenta has provided leading up to the new album's release. It certainly whets the appetite with moody synths, downright pretty electric key tickling, a powerful and focused rhythm section, lyrical guitar leads, and Christina Booth's enchanting vocals. Oh, and you can also dance to it! It's a progressive rock miracle! The Trojan E.P. is available from Magenta's Bandcamp site, and you can view an accompanying music video below.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

That Singles Life: Your Saturday Sins by Dw. Dunphy

We told you this was coming; now it's here.

Dw. Dunphy's first 7", "Your Saturday Sins" b/w "Nothing's Harder Than A Song," is hand-lathed and cut at 33 1/3 rpm, in an extremely limited (no, really) edition pressing. The record looks and sounds great, bringing out both the brightness of the keys and the almost Eddie Offord/Yessongs-esque (take that as you will) sense of space that Dunphy imbues to his relatively lo-fi recordings.

The long overdue resurgence of the vinyl format has brought its share of setbacks; namely, the cost and long wait times at the major pressing plants can make it prohibitively difficult for the most independent of artists to release their music on this beloved physical disc. Remember when independent and fiercely regional small-run releases made up the majority of albums being released? Me neither, but the bins at my local Goodwill tell an intriguing anthropological story. Hopefully, the recent increase in pressing machines (at both Third Man Records and URP) and the proliferation of smaller hand-lathing operations will promote an increased diversity and affordability in the vinyl market. "Your Saturday Sins" is a lovely example of the joy of tangible musical accomplishment in this world of sound and fury, often pressed to nothing.

"Your Saturday Sins" is out now on Introverse Media Ltd., available for purchase from Bandcamp

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Matinee: Stranger In Your Soul by Transatlantic

Progressive Epics. Folky Meditations. Extended Jazz Improvisations. Some songs are just long, y'know? So when better to sit down and take it all in than on a Saturday with your beverage of choice in hand?

Today's Matinee: "Stranger In Your Soul" is the second 20+ minute epic on Transatlantic's impeccable Bridge Across Forever album. Neal Morse has described the track as "The epic to end all epics," and it's hard to disagree. Every piece in the suite interlocks perfectly with its fellows, there are some heavier rock moments interspersed with quieter numbers, and several genuinely moving emotional highlights transpire. "Stranger" is a strong contender for best modern progressive composition.

Friday, April 14, 2017

One Sentence Reviews: Anoraknophobia by Marillion

Forget the details; let's get to the heart of the matter. Here's our one-sentence review for Marillion's groundbreaking, crowd-funded album, Anoraknophobia.

Anoraknophobia is the fresh, modern, stadium-ready yet nuanced and soulful art-pop follow-up to All That You Can't Leave Behind that U2 never quite managed to record.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The April Playlist: Great Interpreters of Song

Spring. Unpredictable weather, happy thoughts, what was old is new again. To celebrate, we've compiled a playlist featuring Great Interpreters of Song. This is no mere list of great cover songs; rather, we've included artists who, like the great Crooners of old, prove time and again that they can take almost any song and make it their own. The playlist includes two songs from each artist. You'll notice that the secret secondary theme is U2, while the tucked away tertiary theme is Keith Emerson.

1. "Southern Accents" by Johnny Cash (original Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
2. "Love is Blindness" by Sixpence None The Richer (original U2)
3. "All I Want Is You" by Anneke Van Giersbergen (original U2)
4. "Stardust" by Bob Dylan (original Hoagy Carmichael)
5. "Jerusalem" by Keith Emerson/ELP (original William Blake/Hubert Parry)
6. "Lucky Man" by Magenta (original Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
7. "Unchained Melody" by U2 (original The Righteous Brothers)
8. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (original Nine Inch Nails)
9. "Don't Dream It's Over" by Sixpence None The Richer (original Crowded House)
10. "Little Red Corvette" by Anneke Van Giersbergen (original Prince)
11. "Full Moon And Empty Arms" by Bob Dylan (original Frank Sinatra)
12. "America" by Keith Emerson/The Nice (original Stephen Sondheim/Leonard Bernstein)
13. "Wonderous Stories" by Magenta (original Yes)
14. "Paint It Black" by U2 (original The Rolling Stones)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday Matinee: Ars Longa Vita Brevis (Symphony for Group and Orchestra) by The Nice

Progressive Epics. Folky Meditations. Extended Jazz Improvisations. Some songs are just long, y'know? So when better to sit down and take it all in than on a Saturday with your beverage of choice in hand?

Today's Matinee: "Symphony for Group and Orchestra" comprises Side 2 of Ars Longa Vita Brevis by The Nice. A clear preview of the sort of excess that people would come to associate with Progressive Rock, this track features avant-garde improvisations and extended drum soloing in the first half of the track, before settling into the classically-influenced keyboard cacophony that would become Keith Emerson's trademark. It's loud, long, wild, and ingenious fun.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review Roundup: Pain of Salvation, Tim Bowness, Last Flight To Pluto, Nerissa Schwarz, Big Hogg, Steve Hackett

While we publish a variety of features on this site, many of our more in-depth album reviews appear elsewhere around the InterWebs. We've compiled a list with links to recent reviews both here and elsewhere.

"Clearly a concept album about death, this progressive metal tour-de-force is also a love story, and manages to cover religion, sex, “politics, and poetry” along the way. Musically, the band delivers on the promise of a return to a heavier sound, and there are brutal palm-muted riffs and speaker-busting bass rumbles aplenty. Léo Margarit is the hero here; more thunder than lightning, he hits the drums so hard that you’ll have to sit up straight and pay attention. Still, with three people playing keys, the songs exhibit a variety of textures, from industrial sounding synths and effects to more tender piano."

Full review is at The Prog Report

"The album fully inhabits that 1967-1969 period without coming off as retro, and it’s at least as upbeat as it is offbeat. Don’t fear the strange and unfamiliar, folks; embrace the weird and the wonderful. There are plenty of sing-along hooks and smile-inducing horn breaks here to carry a new listener through the initiation, and once you’re in, you’ll have twice as much fun as your benighted friends. Recommended for fans of progressive music, jazz, Bob Fosse dance sequences, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore films, boozy halloween parties, and Stonehenge."

Full review is at Progradar

"Classic Hackett leads cry the alarm whilst diverse musical accents frame Clapton-esque vocal melodies; the more the merrier, indeed."

One Sentence Review right here on Radio Eclectic

"Last Flight To Pluto makes a grand entrance onto the prog scene with their debut album, ‘See You At The End’. Their energy is brash, raw, and engaging across six tracks and an hour of music—a deft alchemy of late 70’s Rush and late 90’s Massive Attack in roughly 65-35 ratio. Band leaders Alice Freya (lead vocals, guitar) and Daz Joseph (drums, vocals) put in years on the cover band circuit, while young lead guitarist Jack’o McGinty must have studied ‘A Farewell To Kings’ from birth to channel Alex Lifeson’s riffs and solos so naturally. The result is that this band, while young as a unit, are experienced, confident, and very tight."

Full review is at Progradar

"Musically, the focus throughout the album remains on Bowness’ vocals and the rich bed of keys. And there are a lot of keys, strongly reminiscent of Tony Banks’ work on ‘…And Then There Were Three’ and ‘Duke’. Bowness mostly sidesteps the busier side of prog virtuosity in favor of layers of different key sounds, including Moog synths, bright piano, Hammond, and various blips and bloops. Tasty kit work and lyrical fretless bass lend more than a hint of jazz to the rhythm section, while the guitars tend to add texture, such that the few times a solo cranks up, its impact is felt doubly."

Full review is at The Prog Report

"Most of the songs move between pretty, bright uses of the electric harp and mellotron—more like the ‘hippie’ and folky-psychedelic sounds you probably associate with the instrument—and downright frightening brown notes that creep, circle, but never quite obscure the harp. Indeed, Schwarz has come up with some truly inventive uses for an instrument that often occupies a place of nostalgic filigree in many compositions. Here, the sounds range from meadowy to proggy to atmospheric to reminiscent of Taurus bass pedals."

Full review is at Progradar

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saturday Matinee: Arpan by Anoushka Shankar

Progressive Epics. Folky Meditations. Extended Jazz Improvisations. Some songs are just long, y'know? So when better to sit down and take it all in than on a Saturday with your beverage of choice in hand?

Today's Matinee: "Arpan," composed by Ravi Shankar and conducted by Anoushka Shankar, comprises the better part of the first set of the Concert for George. The music is spiritual, occasionally meditative, but also dynamic and exciting. It also features some acoustic leads from Eric Clapton toward the end of the performance.