Review – Built For The Future – Brave New World

B4tF is a progressive/alternative rock band from San Antonio, Texas. The music represents strong elements of prog as well as melodic passages that hope to maintain accessibility.

Drawing on a range of long time influence and admiration of bands such as Rush, Yes, Genesis, Tears for Fears, Gabriel, The Fixx, Ultravox and of course The Beatles. The first objective in the music is to create an emotional connection through melody and the lyrics.

​The project began in 2014 when Patric Farrell found his many songs unfinished and at a stand still. The songs written and produced, but stuck. The missing element seemed to be a vocal that matched the level of the songwriting and production.

At the same time, Kenny Bissett was writing and experiencing the opposite, having a great ability to establish melody through his many years as a writer and vocalist. But not being able to hit his target as a producer. Although Patric and Kenny had been friends and musical comrades since the 80’s, they had never worked on a serious project together.

At a chance meeting in a coffee shop, Kenny and Patric comparing projects, Kenny just stated: “I just wish I could do something where I just showed up and sang.”

Realizing that a great vocal was the missing element to Patric’s music, and knowing that he admired Kenny’s vocal style, talent and work..the invite was issued to have Kenny sing on the stagnated music.

The result was the band’s outstanding debut album ‘Chasing Light’, released in 2015. The album had flavours of Yes(Rabin yrs), Rush(mid period), Tears for Fears and later Genesis, with some Beatles ‘peppered’ in as well and sold in over 12 countries around the world, with really kind and generous reaction from fans from so many different places.

‘Brave New World’ is the new album. This album is the next chapter in the metaphorical story that began with ‘Chasing Light’. The album was driven by a desire by Kenny and Patric to be a bit more progressive and a shade darker. Inspired by the emotion that the continuation of the personally driven lyrics would demonstrate, finding a ‘new life’ in a ‘new world’.

Much as I was impressed by the band’s debut release, ‘Brave New World’ is a big step forward. Infused with sc-fi themes, awash with synthesisers and punctuated with vivd guitar solos, this collection of tracks is as vibrant a release as you will hear this year.

Everything begins with the layered construction of the intro to title track Brave New World, a lengthy, immersive song rooted firmly in the world of progressive rock but the sort of prog rock you could imagine as the backdrop to an Aldous Huxley novel. It’s a mighty introduction to the album and a bold musical statement. Breathe takes a more easy going approach and delivers a fast paced track more akin to hard rock but no less impressive or enjoyable. Key to this is Kenny’s rather fine vocal with its unique delivery, adding that futuristic layer to an already modern sound.

This deeply engaging release continues with the elegantly relaxed vibe of The Sheltering Sky, a wistful and nostalgic song that has pathos and humility at its core and one that leaves a lasting impression. Zenith is an edgy and dramatic track that has a feeling of uneasiness around it before breaking out into a more melodic and uplifting song, Kenny’s vocal again at the heart of things.

More than just progressive rock, City of the Sun is a superbly crafted piece of music and one of the highlights of the album for me. The plaintive vocal and haunting music, highlighted by the expressive guitar of David Peña, speaks volumes about what this band are all about as musicians and songwriters. This release was dedicated to the memory of Neil Peart and no more can that Rush influence be heard than on Azimuth, and a fitting tribute to the legendary drummer it is. Dave was encouraged to run loose with his experimental approach to the guitar, and created the incredible otherworldly tone for the songs and it can really be heard here.

The final two tracks on the album, Distant Land and Line of Sight, are true epics in the sense of the word, both coming in at over twelve minutes long. The great thing about long tracks is that, when done right, it gives the artists chance to expand on a story and give it more life and B4tF do that here with mighty aplomb. These songs draw the listener in on an emotive musical journey, one where you feel welcomed and inclusive and Patric and Kenny are proving themselves to be master storytellers and skilled exponents of their art. Listening to David Peña’s articulate and masterly guitar, you feel that they have found the added layer of finesse that makes the band complete.

‘Brave New World’ has shown that the so-called ‘difficult sophomore album’ doesn’t happen to everyone. B4tF have created a masterful musical odyssey that builds on their debut release and brings everything full circle into a highly satisfactory conclusion and I recommend it very highly!

Released 24th August 2020

Order from bandcamp here:

https://builtforthefuture1.bandcamp.com/album/brave-new-world

Review – Pain Of Salvation – Panther

Pain of Salvation have been firmly at the forefront of the progressive
rock and metal scenes for nearly three decades now. Led by mercurial multi-instrumentalist Daniel Gildenlöw, the Swedish band have consistently demonstrated a sincere passion for moving their own extraordinary music forward, while always remaining lyrically enlightened and ferociously intelligent.

The leaders in thoughtful, pained and poignant progressive-metal music, the band have had a stellar career that has produced ten studio albums and included such highlights as ‘Scarsick’, ‘Remedy Lane’, ‘Road Salt One’, ‘Road Salt Two’ and their brilliant previous release ‘In the Passing Light Of Day’. From elaborate and pointedly metal early classics through obtuse wizardry and genre-blurring mischief, Pain of Salvation’s all-encompassing musical vision has delivered some of contemporary prog’s most brave, bold and startling moments.

The band returned this year having deftly weathered the departure of guitarist Ragnar Zolberg, discovering a newfound enthusiasm for what happens next in the process.

“We did In The Passing Light Of Day and that ended with the departure of Ragnar from the band,” Gildenlöw recalls. “In the past, 10 or 20 years ago, that would probably have made me doubt the future of the band and all of that. I went through that a lot in the past with members leaving or things not turning out in a good way! It’s always difficult and it’s always something that makes you sad, when your little band family is disrupted, but I never came to the point where I doubted where to go or what to do. The other band members were pushing us on to continue, so I just kept writing music.”

The result of that sustained surge of creativity is ‘PANTHER’, the eleventh Pain of Salvation album and a very obvious landmark release in a career full of them. ‘PANTHER’ is a concept piece that delves into the conflicts and contradictions between so-called normal people and those who are wired entirely differently.

This is an album full of creativity and power, a simmering melting pot of brooding desire and thunderous riffs that creates a body of work leviathan in scope and content.

The edgy, almost funky opening track Accelerator gives a restless, tense feel to the music before opening into a sparse soundscape dominated by Daniel’s vocal before the stark, blasted landscape of Unfuture hoves into view, hewn from granite and taking no prisoners, “Welcome to the new world…”, indeed…

Gildenlöw has always been the master of simple, severe beauty and that is delivered in spades on the sublime Restless Boy, a song thats rawness is there for all to see. “This is not a test..” Pain of Salvation have a knack of producing songs that drip with bare emotion and Wait drops perfectly into that category with a simple piano note and acoustic guitar laying the foundations for a wistful and nostalgic piece of music that lives long in the memory. As graceful a song will be hard to find on any progressive-metal album.

So, who fancies a bit of electro-ambient progressive rock? Sounds an odd combination doesn’t it but PoS make it work brilliantly on Keen to A Fault, a fast paced, stylish track that works amazingly well. Fur is a short interlude that speaks to me of Eastern European 50’s film noire and segues into the title track. Well, what can I say about PANTHER? It’s superb, a complete melding of rap, oriental sounds and electronica that sounds like nothing else the band have ever done. It’s more akin to Linkin Park than anything else and, well, it’s just brilliant!

The final two tracks are Pain Of Salvation at their very, very best. The slow burning, monolithic power of Species has a simmering build up to a crescendo of crushing guitars and heartfelt vocals and then Icon closes the album out with humility and style in a similar vein to the title track from ‘In The Passing Light Of Day’. At once intense and dynamic, then calm and thoughtful, this is a song that contains all that is best about the band and showcases Daniel Gildenlöw’s consistent ability to write masterpieces of music.

One of the highlights of the year and an album that could become a seminal progressive-metal release, Pain Of Salvation have created a piece of music that could well be their finest yet.

Released 28th August 2020

Order PANTHER here:

http://painofsalvation.com/store/

New Studio Album From Jon Gomm – The Faintest Idea – Due To Be Released Through Kscope on 16th October

UK HEADLINE TOUR FOR 2020 / 2021 CONFIRMED
1st Single – Cocoon released – video here

Jon Gomm, the UK based acoustic guitar virtuoso, has announced the details of his new album The Faintest Idea, due for release on Kscope on 16th October 2020, with this new album he has found new emotional depths in immense melodic pop landscapes.

When most people look at an acoustic guitar, they see exactly that – a wooden box with strings. As one of the pioneers of the modern fingerstyle sound, however, Jon Gomm has a rare gift for turning one instrument into what feels like an entire orchestra…

The Blackpool-born singer-songwriter’s 2003 home-recorded debut, Hypertension, was nothing short of a musical revelation: drumming beats, tapping chords and striking harmonics on his acoustic underneath that warm, soulful voice. Things changed for Jon with landmark single Passionflower racking up 17 million plus views on YouTube and other media platforms in 2012 – with British legend Stephen Fry describing him on mainstream television as someone “playing the guitar in a way I’d never seen it played before” and “an all-round genius”. Follow up album Secrets Nobody Keeps arrived in 2013, further cementing his stature as one of the driving forces behind an acoustic revolution – but now, having signed a label deal for the very first time in his career, he’s managed to truly refine the pop sensibilities and emotive expression within that unmistakable wall of sound. Latest full-length The Faintest Idea is set for release this October.

I didn’t realise that my songs were worth anything beyond the crazy guitar playing,” shrugs the songwriter reborn, who originally started out on ukulele at the age of two. “When people started getting my lyrics tattooed on them, I had to accept that they’re not doing that because they’re fans of percussive guitar”

Perhaps one of the greatest surprises with The Faintest Idea is how it contrasts the incredible human warmth of Gomm’s acoustic articulation with more icy affairs, thanks to the synth parts and production work from Australian musician Andy Sorenson. Instead of a war between man and machine, the collaboration delicately cross-pollinates simple honesty with more forward-thinking atmospheres. It is a contemporary masterpiece – rich in its sense of paths travelled and roads taken, while also daring to gaze into the unexpected future.

Andy has taken my raw, intimate solo acoustic performances, and placed them in an artificially expanded landscape of his own creation. I feel like I’m playing a gig, but the venue is a synthetic reality dreamworld. I strum a chord, and it bounces off a cyan cloud releasing a shower of notes, I hit another, and it echoes through a crystal chamber” Gomm muses.

The album earned its title through the notion that all of us, to some extent, are just The Faintest Idea. The singer/guitarist notes how that everything is made out of vibrating strings of probability, and it’s this scientific and spiritual meaning – as well as the more literal translation of total guesswork – that felt like the perfect summation of album number four… “It’s an enigmatic title,” smiles Gomm. “There’s a fine line between a metaphor and a pun, so I guess it dances on that.”

The album is complemented by the delicate hand drawn pen and ink cover art created by Lee Zimmerman.

Often cited as one of the most naturally gifted acoustic artists of the modern age, a one-man band with seemingly no limit to expression, it’s little surprise that the new music drew from the musician’s own experiences over the last five or so years. And while there have been moments of joyous celebration, by his own admission there has also been plenty of personal upheaval “This album has been a long time coming,” he reflects. “I tend to write in a really painstaking way. The last few years of my life have involved a lot of personal trauma – from me and my wife losing a pregnancy, through to losing other people in my life.”

There’s a sense of reinvention that arrives in The Faintest Idea’s 11 tracks – documenting a musician coming to terms with the talents that got him recognised and choosing to evolve into the unexpected. Despite having already gone viral and established himself as one of the modern-day masters of acoustic, this could very well be the release that sees the virtuoso transition to a mainstream audience far removed from the guitar community he’s long been revered by… “People knew I could play, I didn’t need to write an album to make that point anymore,” summarises Gomm. “And being aware of that brought out my music in a better way. The technique side can feed into the ego after a while. This is still acoustic guitar music, but the sound, approach and experiences behind it are totally different. I didn’t need to force myself to follow any musical philosophy when I could just make a beautiful-sounding album that was totally immersive and more emotional.”

Indeed, it’s as immersive and emotional as music gets. And while these are the most expansive recordings of JonGomm’s career so far, it still really just boils down to the magic of one man with his guitar and voice. And what a powerful magic it is.

The Faintest Idea is due to be released on 16th October on the following formats:
*CD
*Double gatefold LP with D-side artwork etching
* Digitally
*As a stunning limited edition deluxe 3 disc hardback book edition which will feature:
CD1 – The Faintest Idea album
CD 2 – The Naked Artist Mix – a stripped back version of the album
a DVD containing6 exclusive performances filmed in a medieval church
Guitar technique presentations
A 35 minute Jon Gomm interview
Song description videos
The Faintest Idea in high resolution stereo audio.
The beautiful book will feature Lee Zimmerman illustrations, song descriptions, handwritten lyrics and full guitar tablature for the song “Check You’re Still Breathing”

The Faintest Idea – UK & Eire headline tour – tickets on sale now
December 2020                              
Sat 5 – Huddersfield – Parish Pub
Sun 6 – York – The Crescent
Thu 10 – Trowbridge – Emmanuels Yard
Fri 11 – Cheltenham – Frog And Fiddle
Sat 12 – Swansea – Sin City

Jan 2021                                           
Mon 4 – Southampton – Joiners
Tue 5 – Brighton – Komedia
Wed 6 – Bury St Edmunds – Apex
Fri 15 – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms
Sat 16 – Bristol – Thekla
Sun 17 – Birmingham – Hare & Hounds
Fri 22 – Manchester – The Bread Shed
Sat 23 – Liverpool – Leaf
Fri 29 – Leeds – Brudenell

Feb 2021                                           
Wed 3 – Runcorn – Brindley Theatre
Fri 5 – Milton Keynes – Craufurd Arms
Sat 6 – Haverhill – Haverhill Arts Centre
Sun 7 – Reading – Sub 89
Thu 11  – Cardiff – The Globe
Fri 12 – Blackpool – Bootleg Social
Thu 18 – Preston – The Ferret
Fri 19 – Newcastle – Cluny
Sat 20 – Glasgow – Oran Mor
Sat 27 – Dublin – Academy 2

March 2021                                      
Fri 5 – London – Bush Hall
Sat 6 – Guildford – Boileroom

Artist image by Elizabeth Gomm.

Review – Dyble/Longdon – Between a Breath And A Breath – by John Wenlock-Smith

Many of you will be saddened with the cessation of daily routine and life, especially in the area of live music. Big Big Train have certainly had a rough time of all this with their inaugural headlining show at Rosfest in Florida being cancelled due to the virus. During this time David Longdon has not been idle, instead he has been able to complete a rather significant and a very personally special project with Judy Dyble (whose pedigree includes being Fairport Convention’s original vocalist and also being latterly of Trader Horne, alongside an interesting solo career of late). When Big Big Train undertook a run of shows at King’s Place in 2015, Judy was introduced to multi instrumentalist David Longdon and they bonded over their shared love for words and history to the extent that Judy performed a duet with David on The Ivy Gate from the band’s ‘Grimspound’ album and they expressed the desire to work together further at some point. 

This new album is a further and, sadly, final chapter to that friendship as Judy passed away shortly after the completion of the album. So this release will be a celebration of that very special friendship and act as both a testament and a tribute to Judy. 

‘Between A Breath And A Breath’ is a very fine album indeed, there is a lot of very fine music compositions and sublime lyrics on offer on this release. The artwork by Sarah Louise Ewing is exquisite & sensitive and the photos are lovely and dignified, especially the lovely photo of Judy and her beloved greyhound Jessie. 

Of interest to many will be the appearance of most of BBT in some form or another and whilst the music is far more folky than rock, there is still enough punch to bring this into the progressive rock realm, especially on the longer tracks like the epic France and Whisper, both of which are intriguing compositions. 

Judy wrote interesting lyrics and she often said strong things within her songs, as evidenced by her scorn for Astrologers who dupe people with their false promises. This song is the first single from the album and it is a great opener with a fine guitar line from Dave Gregory, whose complex playing adds layers of depth to the song. Obedience follows which is a wonderfully expressive track that swoops and soars with David providing an impressive vocal performance, especially on the chorus. Possibly the most powerful track on the album and one on which the BBT influence can be heard the most.

Tidying Away The Pieces is another song that speaks of preparing for death but is still somehow a positive experience. It is a beautiful song, very emotional but not cloying, rather it is practical and decisive. This song made me smile and cry at the same time. Between a Breath and a Breath is the title track for the album and is a duet between David and Judy in which they swap lines to great effect. A subdued song that has a totally other worldly feel to it.

Then we are onto side two of this remarkable record and the lengthy epic track France at nearly eleven and a half minutes. The song is split in two sections linked by a mirror ball dance section and is about impressions captured on a trip to France and the history encountered whilst there, how war came and changed the home again. This is a sombre piece but the music it contains brings great pathos to the proceedings. It is very expressive and has great guitar solo performed by David Longdon, sweeping accordion from Rikard Sjoblom, in fact pretty much all of BBT bring this song to life beautifully and sensitively, a truly magnificent piece of music. 

Whisper is next and is another strong  piece, the playing on this track is graceful and full, very satisfying. It rewards the listener with repeated playing, unlocking different nuances as the song plays on. It is about being isolated and left out but still being able to listen. 

Final track Heartwashing is a bit different in that Judy doesn’t sing on it but she does speak the words. I gather that illness had consumed Judy by this stage and she couldn’t sing but she did speak with the final lines telling much of the tale when Judy says, “For what will be the next adventure, should there be such a thing…” Sadly it was not to be as she died on the 12th July in advance of the release of the album. 

It is an absolute pleasure to be able to recommend this music to you all, between them David and Judy have gifted us with a graceful poignant and touching record that is a fine testimonial to the unique gentle talent of Judy Dyble and one that is brought to life by the great skills of David Longdon, the members of Big Big Train and a few others. 

This is an album that you must listen to or you miss it at your peril. I cannot recommend this highly enough, I think it is one of my albums of the year. Indeed the beautiful music and the grace that the album offers make this worthy of a place in any albums of the year listing. Yes, it is that good, truly remarkable in fact!

Released 25th September 2020

Order from Burning Shed here:

https://burningshed.com/dyble-longdon_between-a-breath-and-a-breath_cd

GAZPACHO, RELEASE NEW SINGLE “CLOCKWORK” TAKEN FROM THEIR FORTHCOMING NEW ALBUM FIREWORKER,DUE FOR RELEASE ON KSCOPE ON 18TH SEPTEMBER

Clockwork is the second single taken from Fireworker, the new album by Gazpacho.

The new single doesn’t feature on Fireworker in this form; it is part of the album’s opening track “Space Cowboy”.

Thomas Anderson from the band explains the song is about ” a trip into the mind to uncover the animal that, the main character believes, lives there and how much of him it really controls. As the main character of the song ventures deeper and starts sensing that the animal is near, his consciousness tries to warn him that there are some things better left alone and communicates this through a dream”

Gazpacho have reigned as the kings of atmospheric and affective art rock, no small feat, as the subgenre is full of wonderfully moody, ornate, and emotional artists; yet, none of them manage to achieve the same level of exquisite baroque resonance and hypnotically introspective weight as this Norwegian sextet. Gazpacho never fail to provide awe-inspiring examinations of the human condition, and their latest observation, Fireworker, the follow up to 2018’s album “Soyuz”, is no exception. It is undoubtedly among their greatest achievements, as well as one of the most profound pieces of music you’ll hear in 2020.

Conceptually, the album follows the band’s tradition of blending grand philosophical quandaries, stimulating literary leanings, and haunting personal turmoil. In a way, it acts as the culmination of the themes and techniques that has decorated earlier collections. Fireworker comes across like the overarching umbrella under which all of its predecessors occur.

Fireworker is truly life-changing experience, so you would be wise to turn off all of the lights, clear your mind as best you can, and prepare to meet the Fireworker.

Fireworker will be released on Kscope on 18th September, on CD, a gatefold 2LP on 180g black vinyl  (3 sides audio, 1 side art etching) and digitally (digital pre-orders receive the title track “Fireworker” as an instant download) and is available to pre-order HERE 

GAZPACHO LIVE

Sadly, due to the current covid-19 situation the band’s European and UK dates scheduled for October 2020 have been postponed to October 2021.
Gazpacho are:Thomas Andersen – keyboards, programmingJan-Henrik Ohme – vocalsJon-Arne Vibo – guitarsMikael Krømer – violin, additional guitarsKristian “Fido” Torp – bassRobert R Johansen – drums

Marillion Couch Convention – 4th, 5th, 6th September 2020

Marillion join virtually with their fans, for a weekend of music and togetherness.

This coming weekend, UK Rock legends Marillion will come together with thousands of fans globally, for their first, and in the own words ‘hopefully only’, Marillion Couch Convention.

“We have a rare and beautiful relationship with our fans,” says Steve Hogarth, the band’s singer. “We wanted to do something to let them know that we are with them; find a way to show our appreciation for the support they give to us and more importantly in strange times like these, each other.”

The band will broadcast their three most popular gig films on YouTube across the three nights, with support acts, introductions from the band and even a live Q&A hosted by Prog Magazine editor Jerry Ewing. The band will also be hosting virtual Q&A’s with fans, music masterclasses, a quiz, fan club meetups with band members, and even a run-along with keyboard player Mark Kelly and a cocktail class with guitarist Steve Rothery. There are opportunities to win a virtual photo with the band, virtual coffee with a band member and all sorts of other competitions, including an online dog show and prizes for the best photos from the weekend.

Lucy Jordache, the band’s manager for the last 20 years, says, “When I realised that our 2021 conventions would not be going ahead, I wanted to give our fans something that might help them experience the amazing feeling our conventions famously have. As the COVID 19 crisis deepened, it became more and more important to bring our fans together in a virtual space, where they can feel the love and support from one another and the band.”

All events over the weekend are free. The band have pre-sold merchandise (t-shirts, cushions, wine and beer glasses, banners and even confetti) to help fans get into the spirit of the event, and a rarities auction will take place over the weekend. With tough times being experienced across the globe, Marillion were keen for this to be a free event. However, an online tip jar will be live all weekend, for fans who might want to help out Marillion’s crew who have been hit hardest by the lack of live events.Hogarth adds, “We’ve been completely amazed by the response of our fans to the idea of the Couch Convention and the merchandise we created for it. We sincerely thank them for their continuing love and support and hope to see them out on the road soon.”

Marillion are a British rock band with a successful 40-year history. Their last studio Album F E A R, debuted at number 4 in the UK Album Charts, claiming a top 20 slot in many European countries and charting across the world including the United States.

The band are known for their uniquely close relationship with their fans, and are widely attributed with reinventing the way bands work commercially, including the revolutionary crowdfunding of their 2000 album Anoraknophobia.

Marillion held their first global convention in April 2002. And now play Marillion Weekends all over the world including their bi-annual hiring of Center Parcs in Holland where they play to over 3000 fans from over 50 countries.

Marillion Couch Convention 2020, 4th, 5th & 6th September 2020More information at: https://www.marillionweekend.com/athome/main/whatson.html

THE FLOWER KINGS – announce October 30th as release date for new double album “Islands”

On October 30th, 2020 progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS will release their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”.

Due to the Covid-19-pandemic, the album comes out quite a bit sooner than originally planned as the band’s creative mastermind Roine Stolt explains:

“All shows and festivals were cancelled and the future didn’t really ‘unfold’ itself like we had hoped. To sit out the pandemic with no activities was not an option for us! We can’t be stopped by an evil virus! So, with members living in the USA, Italy, Austria and Sweden, the only way to realize this album, was to use the magic of the ‘net’, sending files around the globe and start building what now has become a mammoth-sized double album of 21 songs.”

The 92 minutes long “Islands” features artwork by legend Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep) and all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for. From vintage keys to epic guitar solos, from odd drum patterns to symphonic elements, THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.

Stolt reveals the following about the concept of the record:

“The theme of the album is isolation – so the title ‘Islands’ felt like a most relevant title – as much of it circulates around isolation, loss, and the fear of being disconnected. Having to face this unexpected pandemic will leave marks on each one of us for a very long time and to lose loved ones forces us to soldier on, learning and growing a stronger version of ourselves in this fragile cycle of life.

Musically; the aim has been to  create a bigger grand epic piece out of 21 songs – so they are all connected with themes that weave in and out – like the way ‘Sgt Peppers’ or ‘The Lamb’ were built on shorter songs,  but yet linked. So view it as one mega song or as 21 separate pieces, it is all  tailored to be listened to as one piece – like a cinematic 90min long ride.”

Disc One (49:40)

1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24

2 – From The Ground 4.02

3 – Black Swan 5:53

4 – Morning News 4:01

5 – Broken 6:38

6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19

7 – Journeyman 1:43

8 – Tangerine 3:51

9 – Solaris 9:10

10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18

11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21 

Disc Two (43:01)

1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48

2 – A New Species 5:45

3 – Northern Lights 5:43

4 – Hidden Angles 0:50

5 – Serpentine 3:52

6 – Looking For Answers 4:30

7 –Telescope 4:41

8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11

9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29

10 – Islands 4:12

“Islands” will be available as massive Limited 3LP & 2CD box set with slipcase and 180 gram vinyl housed in two gatefolds, one single sleeve; as Limited Edition 2CD Digipak and Digital Album. Presales will start September 11th, 2020.

Line-Up:

Roine Stolt – Vocal, Ukulele, Guitars, Additional Keyboards

Hasse Fröberg – Vocal & Acoustic Guitar

Jonas Reingold – Bass, Acoustic Guitar

Zach Kamins – Pianos, Organ, Synthesizers, Mellotron, Orchestrations

Mirko DeMaio – Drums, Percussion

Guest: Rob Townsend – Soprano Saxophone

Band picture by Lilian Forsberg.

Derek Sherinian Launches Video For ‘Dragonfly’

World acclaimed keyboardist Derek Sherinian, (Sons of Apollo, Black Country Communion), one of the most significant keyboard players of the modern era, recently announced the release of his new solo album ‘The Phoenix’ on the 18th September 2020, his first since 2011’s ‘Oceana’. Derek comments: “I truly feel that this is my best solo record to date. Simon and I put a lot of energy into the writing, and I am grateful to all of the great players that contributed to this recording.”

Today he launches the video for the album’s second single, ‘Dragonfly’, featuring Sherinian joined by Simon Phillips on drums and Ernest Tibbs on bass. The video was directed by Vicente Cordero (Sons of Apollo, Ritchie Kotzen, Haken), and you can watch it now here:

The album’s first single, Empyrean Sky, which features Sherinian and drummer Simon Phillips joined by Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal on guitar & Jimmy Johnson on bass, and was called a “marvellous voyage of instrumental virtuosity” by Guitar World. Listen now here:

As mentioned, Sherinian has teamed up with drummer extraordinaire Simon Phillips, who not only plays drums but also co-produced and co-wrote the album: “It is always an amazing experience to be able to work with Simon. He’s been a hero of mine for ages, ever since I heard him playing on albums with Jeff Beck and Michael Schenker.  And he is such an invaluable part of the way this new record has come out.”

There are a number of top line guests featured on ‘The Phoenix’, as has been the case in the past for Sherinian, on both guitar and bass. Some have become regular contributors to his solo sessions. People such as bassists Tony Franklin (“He’s been on all my albums to date”), Jimmy Johnson and Billy Sheehan (Sherinian’s bandmate in Sons Of Apollo). Plus guitarists Joe Bonamassa and Zakk Wylde. In addition, others are welcomed into the fold for the first time. For instance, there’s master guitarist Steve Vai. “Steve Vai has always been on my hit list. But it was when I played keyboards on the Generation Axe tour of Asia in 2017 that I asked him to play on my record, which he gladly accepted” Also present are Sons Of Apollo bandmate Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (Sons Of Apollo) and Kiko Loureiro (Megadeth).

“Kiko and I have known one another for about 20 years. But this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to play with him.”

The album features 8 tracks, including a cover of Buddy Miles ‘Them Changes’, and will be released as a Limited Edition Digipak CD, 180g LP + CD & as Digital Album. Find the full track-listing below. Pre-order the album here: https://dereksherinian.lnk.to/ThePhoenix

1.     The Phoenix

2.     Empyrean Sky

3.    Clouds of Ganymede

4.     Dragonfly

5.     Temple of Helios

6.     Them Changes

7.     Octopus Pedigree

8.     Pesadelo

Derek Sherinian’s far ranging talents have been much in evidence through the music of Alice Cooper (who once called him “The Caligula of keyboards”), Dream Theater, Black Country Communion and current band Sons Of Apollo. Moreover, proving just how much he is demand to work with rock royalty, Sherinian has also toured and recorded extensively with KISS, and Billy Idol, proving his classic and hard rock pedigree, whilst also being voted #9 in Prog Magazines greatest keyboardists of all time.

Review – Fish on Friday – Black Rain by John Wenlock-Smith

‘Black Rain’ is the fifth full length album from Belgian/UK/US outfit Fish on Friday, although there was a compilation last year called ‘Initiation’ that included a non album track (Wings) but acted as a fine introduction to this little-known band.

I have been a follower of the band from hearing their first album – ‘Shoot the Moon’ – in 2010 which I Reviewed for DPRP and where I was highly impressed by their superior song writing abilities. Their second album ‘Airborne’ (2012) added Nick Beggs on bass and chapman stick which rounded the sound out more evenly.

Their third album ‘Godspeed’ was their first for the Esoteric label. This was released in 2014, their last full album was 2017’s ‘Quiet Life’ which, again, was another welcome set of songs. This release also introduced some longer songs that gave room for the group to stretch out more. It also introduced the world to the fabulous voice of Nick’s daughter Luka Beggs who sang on a track and who adds her vocals to four of the songs on the new release.

Once again, the artwork and sleeve are significantly tied into the themes of the album. As always these are impressive and impeccable, adding real value to the album.

The album is a real grower and will need several spins for it to click, which personally suits me as albums that you grow into tend to be those that have greater depth and resonance.

That is certainly true here, opener Life In Towns has some fabulous bass lines from Nick Beggs and some lovely guitar from Marty Townsend that add shade and colour to a song about the loneliness and impersonality that town life can often bring. The spoken part from Nick tells you much about how he feels about towns and how they smother him. The second track, and the albums longest at 8:13, is a song about living on the edge. On Murderous Island Highway Nick lays down some driving basslines to power the song along and there is also some quite ethereal sounding guitar lines which bring to mind the guitar work on David Gilmour, especially in the solo at the 4.00 minute mark. Marty is really stretching out here and Frank’s keyboards offer strong support to proceedings. The song is a slow burner which really grows the more (and louder) that you hear it, it is a strong, remarkable and imaginative piece of music.

Title track Black Rain is, again, about isolation and also frustration at how life has treated you. This sombre song is lifted by the trio of backing vocalists whose voices lift the song, especially in the chorus of “All you’re giving me is black rain…” . This song again is really impressive and well handled by all. Mad At The World opens with deep synths before switching to piano and taking on a quite strident tone. It deals with the disappointments one faces in life. The wonder here is how this band make such sad songs sound so impossibly joyous and so relevant and enticing and is in itself a real gift, such sad themes and yet such fabulous music. This really is top drawer stuff and, as a bonus, there is some very fluid sweet guitar from Marty to really ice the cake, as it were.

Letting Go of You features some lovely clarinet from Theo Travis, alongside some gentle acoustic guitar from Marty and a great vocal from Luka Beggs. It’s a song that tells us that we could call on every angel and is about letting go of someone that has gone and giving you hope to carry on. Angel of Mercy follows a similar theme, pleading that we are not made to wait too long for heavenly assistance, again another powerful song.

We’ve Come Undone is another stunner, opening with a distorted guitar chord and gentle piano before strong vocals give strident pace to the song. This track also has some powerful bass parts to it, the chorus is also very strong. The urgent pace continues throughout the song with some great dynamics that add a good punch to the music. Another stand out track from the band and with more excellent guitar adding to proceedings making it a fabulous song that ends on some stylish synth notes.

We Choose to be Happy is amore upbeat song both in its pace and in its lyrical content. The track is about choosing to be happy and not letting the past deter you, it’s a choice we can all make and it’s an uplifting, feel-good track. Trapped In Heaven is the penultimate track and this one is about being in love and how that love can trap you and imprison you so beware of such relationships. This song features one of Marty’s best solos in it too and features some great bass flourishes from Nick.

Final track Diamonds opens with keyboards and a sole vocal from Frank until Luka joins in on the chorus, her distinctive voice matching Franks in both pitch and intensity. The musicianship very impressive and the song ends with Luka asking ‘when you are getting me a kitten?’ Presumably it’s aimed at her father but brings this fabulous album to a fabulous finish.

This album really takes the band forward, crafting songs of value and emotional impact. It really satisfies and impresses and I heartily recommend this to all who like the more pop end of progressive rock, the music of the Alan Parson’s Project or simply good music as it offers all that and more.

Released 15th May 2020

Order from Cherry Red here:

Review – That Joe Payne – By Name, By Nature

“Flair is what makes the difference between artistry and mere competence. Cmdr. William Riker”
― Star Trek The Next Generation

Well, I never thought I’d start a review with a quote from Star Trek but these are strange times we are living in!

Ex- The Enid frontman Joe Payne reinvented himself and launched his solo career as That Joe Payne and has just released his first full album, ‘By Name, By Nature’, on 7th August.

I always like a bit of background to my reviews so here is what Joe’s website says about him:

“Born 1989, Payne is a classically trained vocalist with backgrounds in theatre, pop and rock music, remembered by audiences for his impressive 5 octave range and strong countertenor.

He is best known for his work within progressive rock as frontman of The Enid (2011-2016). During their time together, the band released 6 albums and 3 live videos. They received 3 Progressive Music Award nominations in 2013 and 2015, including Best Band, Best Album, and Best Event.

More recently, Payne has released collaborative work with Zio and John Holden, as well as producing solo material. 

His personal achievements include being voted Best Male Vocalist for two years running (2014 & 2015) in the Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll.

In 2019, Payne was invited to support Marillion at their fan-weekend at Port Zelande, NL.”

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here is what I think about the new album…

‘By Name, By Nature’ is fifty three minutes of pure artistry from a man who will be the first to admit that he certainly has a flair for the theatrical. It is a delight from the first note until the last and shows what an absolutely consummate performer Joe is, he is, honestly, a true entertainer.

After the dramatic instrumental opening of The Thing About Me Is the next two songs are pure driving pop music with a definitive diva edge to them. Title track By Name. By Nature and Nice Boy play to Joe’s talents and panache, imagine Andy Bell at the height of his fame with Erasure and, in my opinion anyway, you’ll be bang on the money. I am a particular fan of Nice Boy, you will not hear a more fun and jaunty track this year, I’m sure!

“He’s a Payne by name and a pain by nature…”

To be fair, I’ve met Joe and he does himself a great disservice with that line as he is a really nice guy, anyway, we then start to move into proper musical theatre territory with In My Head and What Is The World Coming To. The former song has a chorus that hails from Joe’s time in The Enid and is powerful and emotive and the latter is just pure theatre where Joe’s distinctive vocal is the focus.

Love (Not The Same) shows the soulful side of Mr Payne, a slow burning and sensual song followed by the soaring I Need A Change, which was previously released as Joe’s debut single and is still as powerful now.

The pared back, graceful feeling End Of The Tunnel is wistful and nostalgic and Music For A While takes the music of Henry Purcell and gives it an 80’s electronica backbeat. The album comes to a close with the stunning Moonlit Love where Joe’s skills as a songwriter meet his penchant for the theatrical, never has Beethoven’s music been put to a better use!

That Joe Payne has given us a highlight of the year, something entirely different to the majority of the rest of the music I have been listening to and all the fresher and inspiring for it. If you want to listen to an album that will take your mind off the world for a while and take you to a place of wonder and not a little wry humour then ‘By Name, By Nature’ might just be the one to take you there.

Released 7th August 2020

Order the album direct from the artists here:

https://www.thatjoepayne.com/shop

Artist picture by Martin Reijman.