Porcupine Tree, “Kneel and Disconnect”: New Porcupine Tree! It’s
always great to get new stuff from these guys. It’s good, but it’s not
up to the quality of their last two albums. (But given that their last two
were utterly amazing, that’s not much of a criticism.)
Mind Games, “Royalty in Jeopardy”: Some prog that I recently found
via eMusic. They’ve got a sound that I describe as being sort of like a
mix between Yes and Marillion. They’re very good – I wouldn’t put them
in the top ranks of neo-prog, but they’re not at the bottom either.
Riverside, “Cybernetic Pillow”: Now, these guys, I would
definitely put in the top ranks of neo-prog. Riverside is a
Polish prog-rock band, formed by members of a couple of other
heavy metal bands. They’re absolutely brilliant. This track
is off their album “Rapid Eye Movement”, which I’d recommend as a first
Marillion, “Hard as Love (acoustic)”: This is the version of “Hard as
Love”” from their recent acoustic album. HaL was one of their louder,
poppier, catchier tunes – a Marillion rocker. To call this just an acoustic
mix doesn’t do it justice. They took the basic bones of the song,
and completely rebuilt it. It’s an amazing change. The acoustic
version swaps the bridge and the chorus, completely changing the fell
of the structure, and turning it into something that’s almost a ballad.
Amazing, and much better than the original version of the song.
Thinking Plague, “This Weird Wind”: Thinking Plague is a group
that I have a hard time describing. To me, they sound like a very out-there
post-rock group with classical influences, but I’ve been told that
they call themselves a “Rock in Opposition” band. What they are is
a distinctly peculiar ensemble. They’ve got vocals, but they use
the singers voice like it’s just another instrument in the mix – it’s
not leading the song in any way, it’s just part of the music. The music
itself is frequently atonal, with a very peculiar sound. The guitarist
sounds very much like one of Robert Fripp’s GuitarCraft students – but
when I mentioned that in the past, he showed up in the comments saying
“Who’s Robert Fripp?” I love Thinking Plague, but I have a hard time
recommending them – they’re so strange that most people won’t like
them. If you’re a big fan of both neo-progressive rock and 20th
century classical, then definitely give them a listen.
EQ, “Closer”: IQ is back! IQ is a progressive band that
got started around the same time as Marillion. Also like Marillion, they
started off sounding like a Peter Gabriel-era Genesis rip-off, but
they’ve evolved their own very distinct sound over the years. They’re
absolutely fantastic – I’d put them up in the top of neo-progressive
bands with Marillion and the Flower Kings. And they just released a new
album, which is absolutely fantastic.
Sonic Youth, “Rain King (live)”: Very typical Sonic Youth – strange
tonality. Loud. Tons of hidden complexity. Brilliant. And performed
live! No studio tricks here.
Kayo Dot, “The Useless Ladder”: Another very hard-to-describe
band. Roughly, they’re what you get when a progressive metal band
decides to start writing 21st century classical chamber music. Very,
very highly recommended.
Red Sparrowes, “And By Our Own Hand Did Every Last Bird Lie Silent In
Their Puddles, The Air Barren Of Songs As The Clouds Drifted Away. For Killing
Their Greatest Enemy, The Locusts Noisily Thanked Us And Turned Their Jaws
Toward Our Crops, Swallowing Our Greed Whole”: It took me longer to type
the title of that than it did to listen to it. Red Sparrowes is a really
excellent post-rock band. But frankly, this track just annoys be because
of the damn title.
Rachel’s, “A French Gallease”: A beautiful track by my favorite
of the classically-leaning post-rock ensembles.