Kansas, “Byzantium”: an example of why Kansas fans waited so long for
Kerry Lofgren to return to the band. The guy’s a brilliant songwriter. Even with
Walsh’s voice clearly aging and suffering from abuse, this is fantanstic stuff.
Isis, “Wrists of Kings”: Fairly hard post-rock. I like Isis a lot, but one thing
about them that takes some getting used to is the “lead singer”. In general, Isis has a sound
a lot like Mogwai, but they do use vocals. And their vocals consist of a guy screaming
hoarsely in the background. This track doesn’t have the really awful vocals; in fact, the
singing here is pretty reasonable.
Genesis, “Squonk”: I’ve been going back and listening to old Genesis lately. And
it’s really amazing to listen to. You can see why so many of the neo-progressives start
out by trying to sound like Genesis – it’s such an amazing, unique, engaging sound.
This is off of the first Genesis album after Peter Gabriel left, so it’s a pretty dramatic
change from what preceeded it. But it’s still distinctly Genesis – listening to
“The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway” followed by this, it’s clearly the same band.
Marillion, “How Can it Hurt?”: a bit off of the worst album Marillion ever made. Considering the album that it came off of, this isn’t a bad song; but for Marillion, this
Sonic Youth, “Rats”: typical Sonic Youth. That means that it’s fantastic,
strange, full of odd tonalities and controlled noise. It somehow manages to be smooth
and mellow and noisy and dark all at the same time.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor, “Static: Terrible Canyons of Static”: The deities of
post-rock. No one can do this kind of music like Godspeed. I dearly wish they’d get back
into the studio and do some more music. Their spinoff “A Silver Mt. Zion” is really good,
but it’s not Godspeed.
King Crimson, “Indiscipline”: Brilliantly goofy song from King Crimson. This consists
of wonderfully improvised dark noisy guitar and spectacular drumming, interspersed with
Adrian Belew talking about some thing, without ever saying what the thing is.
Kruzenshtern and Parahod, “March”: progressive klezmer. Wow. This is strange,
and wonderful, and amazing, and really strange. I’d kill to be able to play
my clarinet like that!
Naftule’s Dream, “The Aimless Path”: In a wonderful coincidence of iTunes
shuffle randomness, another bit of progressive klezmer. Naftule’s Dream is
a spinoff of the Shirim Klezmer orchestra. Shirim is fantastic, mostly traditional Klezmer.
Naftule’s Dream is the stuff that really pushes the boundaries of the genre. Highly recommended, and a lot easier to find than K&P.
The Flower Kings, “Man Overboard”: The Flower Kings are, probably, my favorite band. They started off as a blatant Genesis ripoff (see my comment above on “Squonk”), but they’ve evolved into a really amazing band with a real distinctive sound. You can’t mistake the Flower Kings for anyone else – just a couple of seconds of any of their songs, and you know that it’s them. This is one
of my favorite of their shorter tracks – only 3 1/2 minutes! But it’s got the most amazing twisted rhythm and chords in the chorus, connected by a highly contrasting smooth melodic bridge. It’s amazing.