Rob’s Recommendation Roundup: Volume 16

ZeitgeistCover

Frank Wyatt and Friends – “Zeitgeist”
Release Date: 1 November 2019
Website: frankwyattmusic.com

Frank Wyatt is one of the founding members of prog rock legends Happy the Man. The band was signed to Arista Records in the late 70s when prog was actually going out of style. They were a mostly instrumental band with some of the craziest playing I have ever heard. Their first 2 albums are ESSENTIAL for anyone that loves prog rock.

More recently, Frank formed Oblivion Sun with former HtM cohort Stanley Whitaker. The band release two top notch albums which sound quite a bit like Happy the Man. That’s inevitable really. So I was very excited when Frank contacted me about his new project “Zeitgeist” which is billed as Frank Wyatt and Friends.

Who are the friends? Well the list does include many of his former Happy the Man bandmates including Stanley Whitaker on vocals and guitar, Ron Riddle on drums, Mike Beck on percussion, Rick Kennell on bass, David Rosenthal on keyboards and yes even the great Kit Watkins on keyboards and “cool sounds.” Now to be clear, they all aren’t on every track but Whitaker and Watkins are together on the title track. While Riddle and Whitaker join Wyatt on “Twelve Jumps,” which works well for Riddle’s playing.

Kennel and Rosenthal are on the track “Eleventh Hour,” one of my favorite tracks. Original HtM drummer Mike Beck adds percussion to “Fred’s Song.” But this is definitely Frank’s show. Frank Wyatt shows how important he was to his original band’s sound. The only disappointment being that Wyatt didn’t play any sax on the album as he did back in the day. It always added a bit of a “madcap” vibe to the music. And the music? It’s the usual mix of jazz, prog and ambient beauty.

What I love about Happy the Man is they had a sound that was unique to them. NO ONE sounded like them and that’s what separates great bands from the pack. It’s nice to hear that the essence of that band is still very much alive on “Zeitgeist.” I might not get a full on Happy the Man reunion but this is damn close and it works for me!

 

bask

Bask – “III”
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 8 November 2019
Bandcamp: basknc.bandcamp.com

“III” is the aptly titled third album by Asheville, North Carolina’s Bask. The band blend post rock and stoner rock with psychedelic rock mashed with just enough prog to get me excited. The riffs are thick and would not sound out of place on a Mastodon album or the last few Opeth records. In fact, Bask would be a better fit as an opening act for Opeth than Graveyard!

The only problem that I have with “III” is it’s only 36 minutes. I wish it was longer only because it’s really awesome. But it’s better to have a solid 36 minutes than add filler to make it longer. The highlight for me is the two part of “Noble Daughters.” The first part has the cool riffs while the second has possibly the best melodies on the album. Plus the guitar solo on Part II is killer.

There are moments that remind me of Elder or Thrice or King Buffalo but never a rip off of either of those bands or the others I’ve mentioned. It’s a point of reference. The playing is tight and Zeb Camp has a really great voice…plus his name is Zeb. The album is really strong from start to finish and they finish with some banjo on “Maiden Mother Crone.” You can’t beat that.

 

voyager

Voyager – “Colours in the Sun”
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: 1 November 2019
Bandcamp: voyager.bandcamp.com/album/colours-in-the-sun

I have a special place in my heart for Voyager. That said, their last album “The Ghost Mile” was a big disappointment for me. I suppose it was bound to be a let down after their masterpiece “V.” So I was curious if they could bounce back with “Colours in the Sun.” Did they ever!

While I am not sure if “Colours in the Sun” is as amazing as “V,” this new album is the album I wanted the last one to be. The melodies are stronger, the riffs are there and the band have an even more 80s vibe going. As my buddy Matt said to me, they sound like “if Duran Duran went prog metal.” It’s a fair description!

As for a more modern prog comparison, Voyager have a lot in common with Leprous. Even more so now that Leprous mainman Einar Solberg provides guest vocals on “Entropy” which really makes the song. His unique vocals fit the track, and I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Voyager singer Danny Estrin also has a unique voice!

But it’s the music that really makes a comeback on “Colours in the Sun.” From the hooks in the lead track “Colours” (a favorite) to the shimmering synths on “Brightstar” to the jagged riffs on “Reconnected,” this is a true showcase of what Voyager is capable of. I suspect that the album will grow on me more and more and who knows, maybe it is as good as “V.” At least, it shows that Voyager is back with a vengeance!

About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music...progressive music!
This entry was posted in jazz, modern prog, progressive metal, progressive rock, stoner metal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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