Jolly – “Family”

jollyIt’s been 6 years since I last heard anything from (the Incredible?) Jolly. After their promising two part album series “The Audio Guide to Happiness,” the band went the Patreon route (not a route that I am into) to work on their next album. They started releasing a song at a time for what would become “Family.” I did get the first track “Ava” and found it rather dull.

Once I realized more about Patreon, I figured I’d check back when the “Family” album was done. I prefer hearing an album as a whole and not in pieces. I promptly forgot all about Jolly. 6 years passed and was surprised to get this promo in my inbox. Oh, Jolly still exist. Glassville Records? Okay. They had a deal with InsideOut before Patreon and now they are on an unknown indie. Whatever momentum they had with “The Audio Guide to Happiness” has long evaporated.

Jolly still sound the same even after six years. They have a modern prog metal vibe. Take some Tool, mix in Porcupine Tree and Riverside. The music is good but the hooks that were there in the past aren’t quite as strong. “Lie to Me” and “Lazarus” start off the album and are rather unfocused. A big problem I’ve had with Jolly is that singer/guitarist Anadale isn’t a great singer. He is okay and carries a tune but just isn’t the world class vocalist I would expect. 6 years later, he sounds the same.

Then comes the tracks “Rain,” the aforementioned “Ava” and “Who Will Remember.” The first two are indeed a bit dull and boring. “Who Will Remember” is an interlude which on a 9 track album that took 6 years to make, it seems like unnecessary filler. “Let Go” is easily the best track on the album. It’s over 10 minutes and has strong hooks and great music. I wish the rest of the album was this strong.

“Violet” slides back a bit. When it kicks in (a little), it’s a decent song but nothing incredible. Overprocessed vocals over plodding music start the track “Circuit Heaven.” The Stephen Hawking-esque vocal track doesn’t work for me either. But again, the track kicks in and it gets better. It makes me wonder what an outside producer could have done with “Family.” Jolly are talented but it feels like they are too clever for their own good.

The album closes with the ballad “With Me.” Sadly it underscores the need for a stronger vocalist as Anadale just doesn’t cut it. His guitar solo on the track however is an album highlight. But the album is short on highlights. I had forgotten about Jolly and “Family” does a good job of reminding me about what I liked and didn’t about them. They say “Jolly loves you.” I am guessing after this review they won’t love me, neither will their family (their fans for which the title was named). But I was hoping for a surprise and got less than that.

Glad I didn’t hang around on Patreon.

Rating: 4.5/10

Label: Glassville Records
Release Date: 22 June 2019
Website: www.jollyband.com

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Pattern-Seeking Animals – “Pattern-Seeking Animals”

albumIs the self titled debut album by Pattern-Seeking Animals really just a Spock’s Beard album in disguise? You could certainly argue that. The band is composed of two current members of Spock’s Beard, singer Ted Leonard and bassist Dave Meros, along with former drummer Jimmy Keegan and the band’s chief songwriter (since Neal Morse left), John Boegehold on keys. So if nothing else, Pattern-Seeking Animals are a variation of Spock’s Beard…and not all that much different. It works for me though.

The album has a mix of longer epic tracks in the 10 minute range and shorter prog/pop songs. The main difference is that with Leonard on guitar and Boegehold on keys, the sound is not the same as SB. Like I said, it’s close. Boegehold doesn’t rely overplaying but rather he is all about melody and the choice of instruments. For example, the mellotron on “Orphans Of The Universe” makes the song for me. It’s the mood needed for the track.

The shorter songs are all really solid and damn catchy while still being progressive. “The Same Mistakes Again” is a favorite, great chorus. The riff on “No One Ever Died And Made Me King” makes the song which shows Leonard is a better guitarist than I would have expected! The one song which doesn’t quite stack up to the rest is “These Are My Things.” Mainly it’s the lyrics. They just seem odd. But the instrumental break on the track does salvage things.

“Fall Away” is an excellent ballad that (like most of this album) would not sound out of place on a Spock’s Beard album. And that brings us back to the first question. Pattern-Seeking Animals are basically Spock’s Beard. Leonard puts on his usual vocal pyrotechnics. It’s great to hear Keegan destroying the drums again, plus he does some great vocals here and there on the album too. If you are a Spock’s Beard fan, this album is a must have. Those who prefer their prog a touch less overblown (it can happen) will need this album as well. I am already looking forward to the next album!

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:

1. No Burden Left To Carry (09:38)
2. The Same Mistakes Again (05:10)
3. Orphans Of The Universe (10:28)
4. No One Ever Died And Made Me King (03:54)
5. Fall Away (04:47)
6. These Are My Things (04:52)
7. We Write The Ghost Stories (03:22)
8. No Land’s Man (05:35)
9. Stars Along The Way (10:20)

Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 5 July 2019
Website: http://PSAnimals1.com

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Progressive Music Planet Radio Show: “Home”

home

Perhaps I should post about my radio show on here. I never do it and it’s a reasonably well liked show. 2 hours of prog and I love doing themes. Tomorrow’s theme is “home.” Tune in at 10am EDT, 3pm UK on www.metalworldradio.com

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Rise Twain sign to InsideOutMusic for release of their self-titled debut album

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Photo credit: William Schwartz

InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce the signing of Philadelphia-based duo RISE TWAIN to the label, for the release of their self-titled debut album on September 6th, 2019. The union of Brett William Kull (producer, audio engineer, and member of Echolyn, Grey Eye Glances, and Francis Dunnery’s New Progressives) and J.D. Beck (The Scenic Route, Beck-Fields, author & playwright) bring their collective years of direct and varied experience in writing, performing and recording music together for their impressive debut.

The band comments:

“This entire album has been a serendipitous occurrence. From the beginning writing process to the final mixes and masters, we have experienced fortunate moments that have given our endeavor a momentum all its own. Meeting Thomas Waber from InsideOut Music is an example of this. Like the writing of the songs, signing with the label felt easy and natural to do. Thomas and the staff have been wonderfully helpful and active in promoting the energy and momentum of what we started. The songs carry this force in them. You’ll feel it from the first note of the album to the last, whether listening with headphones, lights dim, or in a car with the windows open and alive. Check this music out!

 Rise Twain
Brett William Kull & J.D. Beck
June, 2019”

Talking of how the duo came together: “I produced an album for J.D.’s original band, The Scenic Route”, says Kull, describing his first meeting with Beck in 2007. “They were a rocky, progressive kind of band, like a Jeff Buckley kind of thing. I was immediately drawn to his vocals. He’s such a strong singer.” Kull says he and Beck immediately hit it off, what he describes as an “inevitable connection.”

Adds Beck, “I just knew I had to work with Brett on a higher level. When I came in to cut the vocals on the Scenic Route album, the way we worked together…some people you just gel with, and then some people you have a barrier with. Brett and I gelled.” They spoke of one day collaborating on their own project, which finally surfaces as Rise Twain.

Discussing the album’s musical direction, Beck notes, “There’s not a typical structural theme that we use over and over and over. ‘Organic’ is a word that comes to mind. Seeking openness through simplicity and allowing the complexity of music to exist without the necessity of overly packing it or overly processing it. With that we were able to achieve such a broad spectrum of sound, and a colossal sense of its existence, without having to have a billion guitars and a billion things put over top. There’s some colouring with strings and other embellishments, but it really is something very simple and stripped down, and it’s awesome.”

Kull adds, “There’s a lot of complexity in this, but it’s not overt in the least bit. But yet, when you get into it, there’s all this really rich harmonic and dynamic stuff going on.”

RISE TWAIN are:
J.D. Beck: Piano, lead and backing vocals
Brett William Kull: Guitars, bass, keys, percussion, lead and backing vocals

 Look out for more information on the debut album from RISE TWAIN, as well as the first taste of music, in the coming weeks.

 

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Daniel Tompkins – “Castles”

021997

The voice you’ve heard in the bands TesseracT and White Moth Black Butterfly now has an album bearing his own name. Daniel Tompkins’ solo debut is called Castles.

While the term castle may conjure up an image of a fortress, in my mind the castle here is a symbol for individual autonomy in a relationship. Who do we let visit the castle? Who gets to stay around for the long term? Are we still in control of events or do we need to cede some power to the other party?

I’ve always admired songwriters who dare to dive a little deeper in describing humans and their interactions. Mr. Tompkins does that here as he looks beyond the basic love/hate tropes.

People crave interplay, of being a part of something, of being wanted by others. And these relationships aren’t always smooth.

The musical dynamics on this album reflect the human dynamic – sometimes things are delicate and gentle, sometimes things are more forceful and passionate.

My favorite track on the album is the strongest and most forceful, Kiss. It is placed right in the middle of the album, and it is the apex of the whole. It has a massive beat that never obscures Mr. Tompkins’ vocals.

The vocals are treated with respect on all the album’s songs. They are to the front so that the singer’s style and range shine forth. To me, Daniel is an alternative Adam Lambert.

The music here has electronic elements that add depth, and the instrumentation works well with the vocals.

From a music fan’s point of view, Castles is an enjoyable, entertaining listen. The components of sound and lyrics work well together.

I know some folks love to put music into genres, so for those people, I’ll give them a genre for this album – modern human.

The digital edition I was given for review included reworkings of selected tracks.

Rating 9/10

Tracklist:
1. Saved
2. Black The Sun
3. Castles
4. Kiss
5. Limitless
6. Cinders
7. Telegraph
8. Black The Sun (Head Rework)
9. Limitless (ft Dmitry Stepanov)
10. Kiss (ft Randy Slaugh)
11. Saved (ft Acle Kahney)
12. Saved (ft Paul Ortiz)
13. Saved (ft Randy Slaugh)

Label: Kscope
Release Date: 31 May 2019
Website: danieltompkinsvocalist.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danieltompkinsvocalist
Twitter: twitter.com/Rockwithdan
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rockwithdan

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Gong – “The Universe Also Collapses”

gong-universe-cover-art-500Gong has had a long stored history with many different variations of the band. Of course there’s the Daevid Allen classic Gong but there’s been Mother Gong, Planet Gong (now known as Here & Now) and Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. Now with the passing of Allen, “The Universe Also Collapses” is the second Gong album without him…or any member from the classic lineup(s). Does it really matter though?

“Rejoice! I’m Dead!” was a stunning album which I was ill prepared for. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. Honestly, the name of the band didn’t matter. It was great music! And the same can definitely be said for “The Universe Also Collapses.” It is just as incredible as the previous album and might very well be even better!

“The Universe Also Collapses” has 4 songs. The 20 minute psychedelic freak out “Forever Reocurring” start things off in jaw dropping fashion. There is a bit of a krautrock opening to it before things go full on prog in your face. “If Never I’m and Ever You” is the other end of the spectrum at two and half minutes. Yet Gong gets more done in that period of time than most prog bands do in 10 minutes.

“My Sawtooth Wake” is another big track. Amazing playing and Ian East is an absolute star on sax. The album closes with yet another great song, “The Elemental.” The playing on this is just flawless. That’s why THIS Gong is one of the best prog bands around today. Are they Gong? I don’t care what they call themselves because they are awesome. Should they be honored to be considered Gong? Gong fans are lucky to have these guys calling themselves Gong.

“The Universe Also Collapses” is a masterpiece. There are plenty of times I audibly said “wow!” What’s in a name? Well I guess that’s up to you. This is Gong. And no other Gong lineup could have achieved this album. I am not saying they are the best version of Gong. They are the version of Gong we need. We are lucky to have them and “The Universe Also Collapses.”

Rating: 10/10

Tracklist:

1. Forever Reoccuring
2. If Never I’m Ever You
3. My Sawtooth Wake
4. The Elemental

Label: Kscope
Release Date: May 10, 2019

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The Aristocrats to release “You Know What…?” on June 28th

I am looking forward to this album. Here’s the press release and all the important information.

________________________________________________________________________
What do you call an act who blends elements of dirty rock, folk, jazz, and explosions of esoterica into one mind-melding album?

The Aristocrats, of course.

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The Aristocrats (guitarist Guthrie Govan, bassist Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann) are perhaps the best known instrumental rock-fusion band on the circuit and have just recorded their most ambitious and exploratory album in their eight year history. You Know What…? is the fourth studio album from the trio and includes nine new tracks recorded at Brotheryn Studios, Ojai, CA.

In true Aristocratic tradition, each band member wrote and produced three songs which were brought to life in the studio thanks to the band’s instinctive chemistry and shared musical vocabulary. Having taken a little time away to work on other projects, the band were excited to be back together doing what they do best and producing a sound that’s at once fresh and new but unmistakably the work of The Aristocrats with their trademark blend of discipline and musical freedom. True to form, the album doesn’t hitch its wagon to any one genre. The only rules the trio live by are that the music must be pleasurable for the listener and it most definitely has to be fun to play.

A glance at the track listing for You Know What…? may cause some raised eyebrows from those unfamiliar with the band. For fans however, it’s a tantalizing glimpse of the stories behind the songs that the band will soon be sharing with audiences all over the world on their upcoming world tour, which begins in North America this summer. From the filthy, greasy rock of “D Grade F*ck Movie Jam” and “Terrible Lizard”, to the quirky anything-goes madness of “Spiritus Cactus” and “Spanish Eddie”, to the lavishly arranged “Burial At Sea” and “When We All Come Together”, and to the timeless melodies of “All Said And Done” and Last Orders”, You Know What…? is an album full of addictive grooves, high energy jamming and seemingly impossible musical twists and turns.The Aristocrats are undoubtedly back and ready to blow some minds.

The band are pretty pleased with how it turned out, commenting that: “On You Know What…?, we feel like we inspired each other as songwriters and musicians to do things we’ve never done before as a band. We know each other pretty well now, and we used that familiarity to really get after it in the studio and push the boundaries of what we can accomplish on a record. And still, it’s totally, completely an Aristocrats album. We think it’s the coolest thing we’ve done yet by far.”

W139 PSD

Tracklist:

  1. D Grade F*ck Movie Jam 
  2. Spanish Eddie 
  3. When We All Come Together 
  4. All Said And Done 
  5. Terrible Lizard 
  6. Spiritus Cactus 
  7. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde 
  8. Burial At Sea 
  9. Last Orders 

You Know What…? will be available in both standard and deluxe CD packages, in addition to digital download and streaming versions. The deluxe edition includes a bonus DVD, filmed and edited by Jon Luini, featuring exclusive studio footage and interviews with the band – as well as a 12-page booklet comprising artwork to accompany each song, in which Graphic Artist Hajo Müller continues and expands the Aristocratic tradition of illustrated artwork with a decidedly childlike vision of each of the album’s nine tunes. You Know What…? will be released on June 28th 2019. Pre-sales will be available from early June.

 

The Aristocrats will begin a new world tour this year in support of You Know What…?, starting with their very own music camp “The Aristocamp” in upstate New York from June 18th to 21st before heading off for their most extensive tour yet of North America. Tour dates for other continents will be announced in the coming months.

 

Tour dates and ticket links can be found on The Aristocrats website at: http://the-aristocrats-band.com/shows/

 

All studio and live releases by The Aristocrats can be purchased at: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/the-aristocrats

 

For more information on The Aristocrats, please visit: 

 

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