Album Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes

Open_Your_EyesThere’s a reason why very few people look back fondly on Yes‘ 90’s period.

As I have a few hours to kill on a flight, I’ve taken it upon myself to drudge through the post-Drama depression so you don’t have to – I’m a modern day saint, I know, you’re welcome. You may think I revel in tearing albums apart, but I honestly approached Yes‘ seventeenth album, Open Your Eyes, with a glimpse of optimism and thought to myself: “It can’t be as bad as everyone says it is. It can’t be as bad as Heaven & Earth”.

I was wrong.

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Album Review: Glaswegians – Severance

glaswegiansIndependent Bandcamp artists – they can be quite the unassuming species, can’t they? Amongst the layers of aspiring lo-fi bedroom artists; waves of opportunists jumping on the vaporwave memewagon and a scattering of experimental oddities, there is gold to be panned.

Vancouver-based artist Glaswegians is one of those rarities, with 2017’s Severance being better than an underground independent release has any right to be. Severance is 65 minutes of progressive, folk and post-rock excellence that puts most professional artists’ work from this year to shame.

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Roundabout: Bent Knee – Land Animal

Boston-based art rock act Bent Knee have been about since their 2011 self-titled release, and on the playlists of almost every Prog Talk admin since their explosive 2014 sophomore release in Shiny Eyed Babies and the excellent Say So from last year.

The band has gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries of pop, rock and the avant-garde simultaneously, and many here at Prog Talk would gladly label them the most exciting upcoming act of the 2010s.

That said, does their most recent release, Land Animal, live up to our notably high expectations? Are we asking too much of the band? Will Leth, Cerpin and Symphony make it to the 21st Century? Find out the answer to all of these questions on this upcoming episode of… Roundabout“!

Land Animal

As ever, we’d like to remind you that our Roundabouts are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s individual and subjective opinions. While we may or may not have expressed our thoughts on the album in private beforehand, we do not collude while writing our reviews. So without further ado, let’s talk progressive art rock.

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In Honour of Fathers, Here Are Our Favourite Dad Prog Anthems

What better, thought I, than to celebrate our fathers, and those among us who father, than to share some of the best ‘dad prog’ out there. As you may know, I have quite a history of opposing that rather subjective subgenre, but, despite all its cheesiness and retrogressive flaws, I do have a soft spot for some songs. A few indeed are able of breaching the shell and reach my hard, cold heart and warm it ever so slightly.

Father’s Day is usually celebrated on the third Sunday of June, but many countries digress. But since I’m in a country that’s part of the majority, I’m writing this today, in honour of the fathers who are there for their children, for the fathers who aren’t, and for the fathers who have been there. I’ve gathered the opinions of the other admins of the page as well, so here’s a list of some good dad prog.


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Frog

 

Neal Morse – Cradle to the Grave (One)

This duet with Neal Morse is the emotional tale of a father and his child, and though it’s simple, cliché, and not inventive the slightest, it’s effective, and struck a chord with me. I hope it does with you as well. The album, and whole Neal Morse solo project, is very Christian and preaching, but some of his compositions manage to get us through it all.

The Tangent – A Crisis in Mid-Life (Not as Good as the Book)

This whole (double-)album is just the pinnacle of dad prog. On one side, it’s a concept album about a midlife crisis – you could hardly get more dad than that -, but on the other side, the music is really inspired, progressive, and interesting Canterbury-style progressive rock. It deals lyrically with some subjects that are difficult to get right, as they can sound fake, edgy, or cliché, but on this album they have all ben executed to near perfection. Even the mini-novel that comes with the physical edition of the disc is an emotional tale of nostalgia and futurism centred around progressive rock that manages to work.


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Sacul

 

Crucis – Recluso artista (Crucis)

Crucis are one of Argentina’s most iconic prog bands. Although some obvious influences like Yes and Genesis, and even Jethro Tull are notorious, they still hold that special sound and style that made our national progressive rock stand out. Their balance between complex arrangements, technical passages, and catchy melodies and good jams, are sure to make you sing along to it!


Happy Father’s Day!

Roundabout: Tetrafusion – Dreaming of Sleep

Five years after near complete radio silence, Tetrafusion are back.

Their last release, the crowdfunded 2012 EP Horizons, caught some attention in the progressive world, but progressive metal group Tetrafusion were somewhat eclipsed by the rising popularity of instrumental prog metal group Scale the Summit, of which Tetrafusion’s bassist Mark Michell and drummer J.C. Bryant were a part of. After a messy affair in late 2016, Scale the Summit was left with only Chris Letchford at the helm – but we’re not going to be opening that can of worms today. What’s important is that Tetrafusion released their 3rd full length album, Dreaming of Sleepback in April this year, an album which was anticipated by Prog Talk admins, Frog and Cerpin.

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And so Frog and Cerpin take to the Roundabout once more to muse over Dreaming of Sleep  but do they reach the same conclusions about the album?

We’d like to remind you lovely people that our Roundabouts are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s individual and subjective opinions. We do not collude whilst writing our reviews, though some admins hold their tongues better than others. So without further ado let’s talk prog!


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Roundabout: Alt-J – Relaxer (Beyond the Wall Edition)

All the way back in 2012, Alt-J, aka ∆, created an awesome wave with their debut album and put Leeds on the map of relevant patrician music – and no, Kaiser Chiefs are not patrician nor relevant. Alt-J’s successful blend of electronica, indie, folk and art pop led to An Awesome Wave winning the 2012 Mercury Prize and their sophomore album, This Is All Yours, hitting #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Calling them ‘prog’ might be a stretch, but the band’s artistic flair and proficiency in the unlikely genre of ‘folktronica’ are certainly interesting enough to make Alt-J stand out in the world of popular music.

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But what of their latest record? Leth and Cerpin take Relaxer for a special ‘Beyond the Wall’ trip on our Roundabout – but do they reach the same conclusions about the album?

As ever, we’d like to remind you that our Roundabouts are compilations of each Prog Talk admin’s individual and subjective opinions. While we may or may not have expressed our thoughts on the album in private beforehand, we do not collude whilst writing our reviews. So without further ado let’s talk… indie pop?

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Album Review: Anubis – The Second Hand

a0063366005_10The pedestal is a potentially dangerous object, sometimes even metaphorically – though it really depends on how hard you can throw it.


Australian progressive rock band Anubis have been sitting quite comfortably on my pedestal for quite some time. Their previous albums, 230503, A Tower of Silence, and Hitchhiking to Byzantium remain some of my favourite albums, and those of you who have read my review of the latter may even accuse me of, dare I say, ‘fanaticism’? However after first hearing their fourth studio album, The Second Hand, I began to second guess myself and my expectations of the band – am I right to expect an artist’s latest work to be the same as their others? Am I right to even have expectations? What this record shows, both as a part of Anubis’ discography and through its politically-charged concept, is that to err is human. Though some may see it to be a misstep in an excellent discography, The Second Hand is an admirable effort, where Anubis’ shift in musical style and approach to concept albums present some of the band’s best and worst newfound qualities.

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Cerpin’s 2017 Roundup I (Jan – April)

You may (or may not) have noticed that things have ground to a halt here at Prog Talk. Now I can’t speak for every admin, but a deadly cocktail of all-consuming academia, a dab of stress and a deviating taste away from prog has left Prog Talk untouched for some time and Cerpin throwing up over the side of the settee. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Dare I say that prog just doesn’t interest us anymore? No, that’s not quite right – there are still a number of progressive rock albums from 2017 that have duly impressed me, but there’s been a lot more that haven’t. However, it’s prog’s sister-genres: avant-garde, experimental, and jazz fusion that have really piqued my interest so far – so you have some catching up to do, prog.

As we’ve just entered the second third of 2017, I thought it would be fitting to give a brief roundup on my highlights of the year up until now, and a shout-out to future albums that we may expect to be just as excellent. Remember: This is just my opinion, I do not speak for the rest of the team at Prog Talk.

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Album Review: Azure. – Wish For Spring

AZUREConcept driven ‘classic’ progressive rock has had a bit of a bad run recently – well, for this cynic at least, anyway. Neal Morse’s album and Dream Theater’s He-Whomst-Must-Not-Be-Named have left a sour taste in the mouths of many, especially for the latter’s hollow and copious ballads. Imagine my surprise when Azure.’s debut album comes and flaunts classic prog worship; 19-minute conceptual narratives and power ballads like they’re going out of fashion. With Wish For Spring, Azure. has breathed new life into the seemingly doomed prog stereotype with daring vocals, exciting song concepts and a pinch of sex appeal that makes for one of the strongest prog records from this year so far.


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Let Me Make It Clear: Nova Collective Is Good, but Nothing New

The new prog supergroup Nova Collective, encompassing the bands Between the Buried and Me, Haken, Cynic, and Trioscapes, is soon releasing The Further Side. They play some damning good tunes, as demonstrated in the video above, and in the other ones that they’ve published, but everyone calling their music ‘new’, ‘pushing boundaries’, or ‘next level’ is only putting their musical illiteracy in broad daylight. Here’s why, in a relatively short rant. Continue reading