Dead Soul Tribe, “Goodbye City Life”: mediocre prog metal. Not bad,
but nothing special either.
Dave Matthews Band, “Lying in the Hands of God”: I know, lots of people think
I’m crazy to like DMB. But I do. And I find this song terribly depressing. One of the
members of the DMB was an amazing saxaphone player named LeRoi Moore. Moore’s
saxaphone play was absolutely fantastic – incredibly skillfull, tasteful, with a huge
range. Moore was killed in an auto accident, and his place was taken in live shows
by Jeff Coffin from the Flecktones. Coffin is, in my opinion, a godawful
gimmicky player with no taste, no style, and who knows one volume setting: way too
loud. This track uses old samples of Moore from before he died – the last time we’ll
get to hear his beautiful playing.
Marillion, “The Space” (electric): this one is actually a double. I just got
the digital version of Marillions new album, which consists of acoustic rewrites
of a selection of their old songs. This is one of the tracks that they chose.
The original version is from “Season’s End”, the band’s first recording with Steve
Hogarth as the lead singer. It’s a great song – one of the best from that album. The
original version is very interesting – because it’s recognizably Marillion, and yet
there’s a huge difference to the sound of the song compared to the stuff they’d been
performing with Fish on vocals – and that basic difference emerged all at once on
this album, and stayed with them through the dozen albums since. Like I said,
it’s classic Marillion, with beautiful transitions, elegant instrumental
breaks, intricate structure. A lovely song, which is carried by Hogarths vocals,
Kelly’s keyboards, and Rothery’s electric guitar.
Marillion, “The Space” (acoustic rewrite): An amazing difference. From an
incredibly dense electric song, to a sparse, intimate acoustic. It’s not just an
acoustic remix, but a really deep rewrite of the song. The rhythm of the vocals has
changed. The main vocals are now sung mainly against acoustic bass guitar and
a but of rythmic chunking on the guitar. Everything is much more syncopated. It’s
hard to believe it’s the same song. I need a few more listens – but I think I actually
prefer this newer version – the rhythmic changes and the sparse arrangement just
increase the emotional impact of the song. It’s really quite impressive.
IQ, “Breathtaker”: Bit of a jarring change after the acoustic version of
“The Space”. But IQ is one of the very best neo-progressive bands out there. Like
Marillion, they started off as a Genesis sound-alike, but grew into their own sound.
Great song, from “Subterranea”, the IQ album to buy if you’ve never heard
Isis, “From Sinking”: Post-rock, from one of the harder/louder post-rock
bands. Isis is a bit of a harder listen for many people, because they include
death-metal-style screeched vocals, which can really grate. But their overall
sound is brilliant – it’s worth getting over the vocals to enjoy them.
Dirty Three, “Feral”: Another big transition, but still post-rock. Dirty
three is a mostly-acoustic post-rock ensemble from the more classical end of the
spectrum. Their compositional style is much more minimalistic than a lot of others.
But it’s beautiful stuff. Highly recommended.
The Flower Kings, “Flight 999 Brinstone Air”: What can I say about the
Flower Kings that I haven’t said before? THey’re a neo-progressive band that’s
fit to drop the neo – they could stand up well next to pretty much any of the
original wave of prog in both quality and creativity. This is a typical
instrumental track from them. If you’ve never listened to the Flower Kings,
give them a try. It’s pure brilliance.
Isotope 217, “New Beyond”: This is hard to classify. It might be sort-of
progressive rock. It might be sort-of odd Jazz fusion. I just don’t even know where
to put it. It’s a recent acquisition, and to be honest, I haven’t formed a firm opinion
of it yet. (That could be good or bad. Much of my favorite music is stuff that I wasn’t
sure about at first. I tend to like things that challenge me as a listener, and so
that sometimes means listening a few times to absorb it.)
Abigail’s Ghost, “d_letion”: Abigail’s Ghost was recommended to me by
a reader as an American neo-prog band that I’d probably like. Unfortunately, I’m really
not wild about it. I don’t know if this album is typical of their sound. But I really
don’t like this one.
I suggested checking out Psychotic Waltz. Its the singer/songwriter from Dead Soul Tribe’s previous band. Very good prog metal (A Social Grace album).
Ever give Ween a listen? They’re one of those love-‘em-or-hate-‘em bands, but I get the feeling that they have some music that you’d really appreciate – notably, their album The Mollusk. It’s often described as their tribute-cum-send-up to prog rock, but it’s a lot more than that (although for my money, “Buckingham Green” may actually out-Crimson King Crimson).
It’s also a genuinely loving tribute to sea chanteys, Motorhead, psychedelia, folk music and, well, popular (and not-so-popular) music in general. It’s all united loosely with a nautical theme and riddled throughout with some seriously funny (and seriously off-color) lyrics.
What really makes it special, though, is that you can tell that for all the fun they’re having, they’re true fans of the music they’re appropriating, and it’s not so much a lampoon as it is an homage from a couple of guys who just can’t resist a good joke. Seriously, check it out and I’ll bet you a dollar that you find it worth your while.
I agree with you on Jeff Coffin I haven’t heard him with DMB but I felt the way you do when he replaced Howard Levy in the Flecktones.
Isis is more of a post metal band, and fits in with a couple of others in that genre, notably Neurosis, Pelican and Cult of Luna. I’d recommend all three if you like Isis and can learn to enjoy the singing/screaming.
Isis and Dirty Three are very different bands. Isis definitely alludes to more “metal” influences, while D3 is more jazz-rock influenced, with a splash of punk.
One thing they do have in common though, they are both excellent live. Life changing for me definitely.