YES, who are Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison, Billy Sherwood & Jay Schellen, have released their new studio album Mirror To The Sky on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music this week. “This is a very important album for the band,” says Steve Howe, Yes’ longest serving member, master guitarist, and producer of Mirror To The Sky.“We kept the continuity in the approach we established on The Quest, but we haven’t repeated ourselves. That was the main thing. As Yes did in the seventies from one album to another, we’re growing and moving forward. In later years, Yes often got going but then didn’t do the next thing. This album is demonstrative of us growing, and building again.” For Yes, that “next thing” is a collection of high energy, intricate, lush and layered new studio songs for an album which adds to the band’s much heralded legacy, while charting a path to exciting future times ahead.
To celebrate, the band are pleased to launch a video for the albums closing track ‘Circles of Time’
Mirror To The Sky is available now on several formats, all featuring artwork by long-time Yes artist & collaborator Roger Dean:
Ltd Deluxe Electric Blue 2LP+2CD+Blu-ray Artbook with poster
Ltd Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook
Ltd 2CD Digipak
Standard CD Jewel case
The blu-ray editions include the album as Dolby Atmos, 5.1 Surround Sound, Instrumental Versions & Hi-Res Stereo Mixes.
Phoenix was the first of 3 studio albums from the reunited original line-up of ASIA. Released in 2008, following up the Fantasia (Live In Tokyo) release. At the time I thought Phoenix was a good album, and over time I’ve come to really appreciate those 3 albums (along with Omega and XXX), all made for a great set of follow ups to the band’s first 2 from 1982 and ’83. Standout tracks and favorites would be the opener “Never Again”, “An Extraordinary Life” – both of which would’ve been huge hit singles decades earlier, as well as “Alibis”, and ” Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Déyà”. Phoenix never came out on vinyl when originally released, so this will be a welcome addition to many Asia fans’ collections. *Check out the press release and links below…
ASIA are a multi-platinum selling, English Rock band who formed in 1981 and celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2021. ASIA announce the release of Phoenix for the first time as a 2 vinyl LP set on 26th May. Phoenix was originally released in 2008 and was their first studio album with the original line-up in a quarter century.
In terms of sound this emotional, compelling comeback album sees Asia continue the very high standards from where they left off in 1985, as ever displaying suppleness when stretching out into multi-part suites while retaining a knack for big, arena pop hooks.
Their 1982 self-titled debut album reached number one in several countries, including 9 weeks topping the US charts, with lead single ‘Heat Of The Moment’ making the top 40 in over a dozen, including US #4.
This is the second of four critically acclaimed ‘reunion’ releases (2007-2012) featuring vocalist John Wetton ex of King Crimson, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard player Geoff Downes from Yes and drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The sleeve comprise unique artwork by world famous rock music artist Roger Dean.
Canada’s The Wring is gearing up to release a third album Spectra next month, which promises to be an assertive mix of different styles including hard rock, jazz, metal, classical, 80’s rock, 70’s rock, and probably a few other things. Solo artist Don Dewulf had the idea and with the help of accomplished musicians, the project has been brought to life. The next piece they are sharing is the single “Stiletto” ft. Marco Minnemann, which Dewulf outlines:
“This song is about the debilitating need for social media attention and validation. The blade goes in and you never even feel it, then you slowly bleed out. The verses are in 5/8 and ⅞ creating a somewhat jarring effect, and also speaking to the theme. Chandler does a killer job on the chorus vocal and there is a very peculiar odd-time breakdown before the solo. Very fun song to play.”
He also comments thatSpectra is a bit like a 1970’s King Crimson album, but without any ethereal soliloquies and certainly with a more significant hard rock/metal influence. Compared to last year’s full-length “Project Cipher”, this new offering carries on in the same tradition and headspace, but the songs are fuller and cohesive.
The album got its name because Dewulf feels that it really touches on a wide range of musical styles and themes. The mixes are very layered with a lot of detail; you can listen to it many times and still continue to pick out intricacies and small details each time.
Dewulf is writing constantly as he always has a lot of ideas to flesh out and bring to the ears of listeners around the world. He has no intentions of stopping soon, so fans of Spectra should keep an eye out for new music. The Wring is recommended for fans of King Crimson, Dream Theater, and Opeth.
The music video for“Stiletto” ft. Marco Minnemann can be seen and heard via its premiere on BravewordsHERE.
Caustic Casanova hail from Washington, DC, and are releasing their 5th album – Glass Enclosed Nerve Center! The band is progressive, but with some post-punk / 90s alternative influences to go with their King Crimson influence. Described as “Stoned Psych Sludge”. The album features 5 varied tracks, a few which are pretty trippy and ‘out there’, with some interesting titles, starting off rockin’ with “Anusbis Rex”, followed by the single “Lodestar”, and ending in the 22+ minute “Bull Moose Against The Sky”. Colorful cover-art by Scott Partridge. (*check out press info below for more info and to order).
On their fifth album, the brain-frying “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center”, Washington, DC-based riffonauts CAUSTIC CASANOVA pull an expansive range of sounds into their tight, hyperkinetic core – and explode them outward in a kaleidoscope of progressive heavy rock exuberance.
In ferocious opposition to playing music in an established style that might give listeners a way in but can narrow down what’s allowable, CAUSTIC CASANOVA plant their flag dramatically on the side of genre-agnostic exploration. Simply put, the Americans allow each song to go wherever the hell it wants (or needs) to head towards.
Formed in 2005 as the trio consisting of drummer and vocalist Stefanie Zaekner, bass-player and singer Francis Beringer, and guitarist Andrew Yonki, CAUSTIC CASANOVA‘s chose a path to constantly refine their thrillingly unpredictable music, which careens from sardonic noise rock to proggy sludge in the vein of BARONESS, RED FANG, and TORCHE, while also taking inspiration from the gargantuan heft of MELVINS to BORIS, and fleet guitar heroics with flashes of dark-hued post-punk.
After a number of proudly DIY releases, CAUSTIC CASANOVA caught the attention of KYLESA, who released the band’s third full-length “Breaks” through their own label. Having brought their pure rock fury to the riff-thirsty masses on more than a dozen full and regional US tours, CAUSTIC CASANOVA applied their road-honed chops to bang out a heavier, more joyously swaggering set of righteous songs for 2019’s triumphant album “God How I Envy the Deaf”.
With the addition of second guitarist Jake Kimberley in 2019, the now-quartet set their sights on making the most adventurous and prog-rock CAUSTIC CASANOVA record yet. “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center” underscores all their strengths, while making the most of the expanded line-up that opened up their sound to new possibilities. Beringer’s reedy, melodic bass dances heavily alongside the two frying guitars to empower a trio of lead voices. Zaenker’s percussion is powerfully inventive across the album’s five expansive songs, sounding equally at home in swinging, Bill Ward stomp as in math-rock jitteriness.
Long-time travelers in CAUSTIC CASANOVA‘s orbit will doubtless find “Glass Enclosed Nerve Center” an exhilarating welcome back that includes the ambitiously sprawling, 22-minute epic ‘Bull Moose against the Sky’ which occupies the album’s entire B-side. Yet those who are new to the massive sound of these raging psychedelic sludge buffaloes will find outstanding songcraft and rich storytelling that is worth every second and countless repeat spins. Three, two, one… go!
Tracklist 1. Anubis Rex 2. Lodestar 3. A Bailar Con Cuarentena 4. Shrouded Coconut 5. Bull Moose against the Sky
Line-up Francis Beringer – vocals, bass Stefanie Zænker – vocals, drums, percussion Andrew Yonki – guitar Jake Kimberley – guitar
SIX BY SIX is the new trio consisting of Canadian guitarist Ian Crichton (Saga), British drummer Nigel Glockler (Saxon), and American multi-instrumentalist & vocalist Robert Berry (Hush / 3 ) . An interesting combo, with progressive and metal backgrounds. As a fan of early Saga and in later years Saxon (and years ago I interviewed Robert Berry for something), so I am keen to hear this. As with Saga, what is first noticeable is the distinctive guitar sound of Crichton from song to song. But where Crichton’s guitar usually shares the songs or is overshadowed by keyboards in Saga – that is not the case here. This is a ‘heavy’ guitar album, not ‘metal’, just a big sound, heavy rock, and progressive, with some fine vocal arrangements. Fave picks are melodic rockers “The Upside Of Down” and “Save The Night”. Plenty of solid tracks here like “The Last Words On Earth” (awesome big organ intro), and more progressive cuts like “Casino” and “Battle Of A Lifetime”, and the short ballad “Live Forever”. A cool sounding album, well worth checking out. The album is due out August19 (CD & LP!), and there will also be a graphic novel – The Journey Internal to be published on September 30th 2022, as a companion. *check out the bio/press release below …
The term six by six can conjure various images. It could be something of large and impressive stature or perhaps the dimensions of a newly discovered space on the planet. For some, it may be the exponential potential of those numbers. For others, it might bring to mind the rhythmic pulse of sound waves.
Now, for the initiated, for those in the know, SiX by SiX is perhaps all of those things. It’s also the name for an exciting new band. It’s a sizable collaboration filling a massive sonic space and driven by three renowned and diverse musicians of international origin. The anticipation is palpable as the group is about to release its eponymous debut album on the InsideOutMusic label, part of Sony.
SiX by SiX is composed of three hugely accomplished and highly acclaimed, musicians hailing from disparate corners of the globe and each with the pedigree to back up the claim. They are guitarist Ian Crichton from the acclaimed Canadian prog rockers Saga, recognized as one of the top rock players in North America, powerhouse drummer Nigel Glockler of English heavy metal masters Saxon, and U.S. based Robert Berry, perhaps best known for his association with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in their group ‘3’ on bass, keyboards and vocals.
The roots of SiX by SiX can be traced back decades to a time when Glockler and Berry were together as part of Yes guitarist Steve Howe’s continuation of the band GTR. Then there’s the Asia connection, where Crichton and Glockler contributed to sessions and recordings, while Berry was the link for his guitarist friend Pat Thrall joining that band. Time marches on, paths cross and fate brings these three musicians together, born from a conversation with an industry insider in the UK who connected Ian Crichton in the Toronto area with Robert Berry outside San Francisco, who in turn reached Glockler at his home on the south coast of England.
While the chemistry of the band transcends audio speakers and their sound is distinctly their own, comparisons to other power trios past and present will likely be inevitable. SiX by SiX boldly say, “Bring it on!” Certainly, discerning listeners will hear an expansive guitar-driven pallet, paired sonically with the unique flavor of the Crichton/Berry songwriting collaboration. If you don’t already know Ian, Nigel, or Robert individually or collectively as SiX by SiX, you’ll likely know them soon. Management is in place; the record company has assembled an enthusiastic support team and a tour is in the works. All in all, the SiX by SiX equation adds up to winning numbers. And that’s good news for everybody.
SiX By SiX “SiX By SiX” Playing time: 46 min 48 sec 1. Yearning to Fly 2. China 3. Reason to Feel Calm Again 4. The Upside of Down 5. Casino 6. Live Forever 7. The Last Words on Earth 8. Skyfall 9. Battle of a Lifetime 10. Save the Night
About The Journey Internal :
THE JOURNEY INTERNAL, A Graphic Novel is based on the songs of SiX By SiX, and is the result of a collaboration between the band and renowned Chicago-based artist J.C. Baez. It will be available for purchase through www.StNicksPicks.com for customers in North America and through Burning Shed www.burningshed.com worldwide.
Though not conceived as a concept album, the band and the artist have woven the songs into a compelling tale of one man’s adventures and struggles. THE JOURNEY INTERNAL is a poignant and captivating story of his quest to find beauty and peace. Drawn in dramatic graphic detail, it chronicles the journey of Reign searching for sunlight in a very dark world. Following him from the highest highs to the lowest lows. The pages turn from battles of fire to demons in dungeons, from the confines of Reign’s inner mind to the realities encountered on the streets. From his solitude in battle to finding inspiration from a dream not yet realized.
Ian Crichton comments: “This graphic novel is amazing. The way that J.C Baez has blended the lyrics and captured the emotion of each song into a visually stunning graphic interpretation is simply amazing.
Nigel Glockler comments: “One word sums up this incredible visual feast: stunning!!!
Robert Berry comments: “When J.C. approached us we were intrigued to see what he would come up with based on our songs. The results are masterful.”
J.C. Baez, a Chicago-based artist has collaborated with Jon Anderson of Yes, Steve Hackett of Genesis, and Walter Koenig, of Star Trek fame, and now Six By Six.
J.C. Baez comments: “I am fortunate to be working with Ian, Nigel, and Robert, bringing their amazing musical ideas into the visual realm. The process has been very much a collaboration and I’ve been made to feel like part of the Six By Six family. This story is dynamic and exciting and I’m thrilled to work on this graphic novel which is in the vein of Genesis’s ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and other classic albums.”
SiX By SiX, featuring Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler & Robert Berry, launch third single ‘China’
With the release of the record only two weeks away, the band are releasing one final track prior to fans getting to hear the album in full. Watch the video for ‘China’ now here: https://youtu.be/stTEYLiTYWQ
Robert Berry comments: “The song China came about differently than most of our songs. Ian had sent me a very cool finger picking type riff, which was playing repeatedly in my head as I tried to go to sleep one night. Earlier that evening the television news ran a story about China, including the appalling oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. I couldn’t get that out of my head either. I have many Chinese friends who do not agree with what the government of China is doing. Suddenly, inspired by Ian’s finger picking, this heavy riff came to mind. Then, as I paired it with the news story, the lyric just poured out. Born from anger and disbelief but also with respect for my Chinese friends, this song came to me in one big flash. When Ian heard the basic writing demo he immediately headed into new territory with the guitar solo. It’s angry, edgy, and totally psychotic in nature – a perfect fit! And of course we all must say ‘goodnight’ and good riddance to any government that treats its people so harshly.”
British progressive band GENTLE GIANT released 11 studo albums and 1 double live albums from 1970-1980. The band split in 1980, but still have a large following. This upcoming box set looks like it will be most welcome by fans and collectors. For more info & details check out the press release below –
Gentle Giant “Front Row Center (US Dates 1976-1980)” 10LP Deluxe Box Set Released on Madfish Sept. 23, 2022
10LP box set + 60 page book from the influential cult progressive rock collective.
Gentle Giant “Front Row Center (US Dates 1976-1980)”10LP Deluxe Box Set will be released on Madfish Sept. 23, 2022! Celebrating four classic years (1976-1980) of touring throughout the USA, encompassing the full Gentle Giant live experience through never-before pressed vinyl, unseen memorabilia and photographs.
The box set features: • HEMPSTEAD, New York – CALDERONE CONCERT HALL – JULY 13, 1976 (3LP) – Originally broadcast live on New York City’s WLIR radio as part of the station’s Bicentennial celebration. • HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK – CALDERONE CONCERT HALL – NOVEMBER 16, 1977 (3LP) An outstanding previously unreleased performance sourced from guitarist Gary Green’s personal collection. • CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA – WIDENER COLLEGE – NOVEMBER 18, 1977 (2LP) – Available for the first time on vinyl sourced from Gary Green’s collection. • ATLANTA, GEORGIA – AGORA BALLROOM – MAY 29, 1980 (2LP) – A rare recording from the band’s final tour prior to their split in the summer of 1980.
In addition to the recordings the set will come with a 60-page book written by GG authority Alan Kinsman concentrating on their live experiences and memorabilia. The set will also include a numbered Limited-Edition certificate.
This is a chance to own a collection of uber-rarities here on vinyl for the first time ever. A must have for all Gentle Giant collectors.
DISC 1 A.1. Intro/Just The Same (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) A.2. Proclamation/Valedictory (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13,1976) B.1. On Reflection (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) B.2. Interview (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976)
DISC 2 C.1. The Runaway/Experience (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) C.2. So Sincere (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) D.1. Excerpts From Octopus (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976)
DISC 3 E.1. Give It Back (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) E.2. Timing (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976) F.1. Free Hand (The Bicentennial, NY, July 13, 1976)
DISC 4 A.1. Two Weeks In Spain (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) A.2. Free Hand (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) B.1. On Reflection (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) B.2. I’m Turning Around (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977)
DISC 5 C.1. Just The Same/Playing The Game (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) C.2. Memories Of Old Days (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) D.1. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) D.2. Funny Ways (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977)
DISC 6 E.1. The Face (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) E.2. For Nobody (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977) F.1. Excerpts From Octopus (Calderone Concert Hall, NY, 16 Nov 1977)
DISC 7 A.1. Two Weeks In Spain (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) A.2. Free Hand (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) A.3. On Reflection (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) B.1. I’m Turning Around (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) B.2. Just The Same/Playing The Game (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) B.3. Memories Of Old Days (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977)
DISC 8 C.1. Betcha Thought We Couldn’t Do It (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) C.2. The Face (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) D.1. For Nobody (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) D.2. Excerpts From Octopus – part 1 (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977) D.3. Excerpts From Octopus – part 2 (Widener College, PA, 18 Nov 1977)
DISC 9 A.1. Convenience (Clean And Easy) (The Agora, GA, 29 May,1980) A.2. All Through The Night (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) A.3. Free Hand (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) A.4. Knots (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) A.5. Playing The Game (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) B.1. Memories Of Old Days (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) B.2. Giant For A Day (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) B.3. Inside Out (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980)
DISC 10 C.1. It’s Not Imagination (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) C.2. Underground (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) D.1. For Nobody (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) D.2. The Advent Of Panurge (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980) D.3. Number One (The Agora, GA, 29 May, 1980)
Flash were an early ’70s progressive rock band which featured original YES guitarist Peter Banks. In a few short years the band released 3 albums, all worth checking out. This live set is for collectors, as it gathers the band’s live recordings over their short lifespan touring the USA. Likely bootlegged over the years, these recordings have been cleaned up as best as possible and are an enjoyable look at the band. Flash had lots of potential, but for whatever reasons didn’t last too long. These shows make a great companion to the band’s studio albums (which featured some cool cover-art!). *Check out the press release below for more details & track listing.
Prog Legends FLASH Featuring Peter Banks “In The USA Live 1972-73” 3-CD Set Available Sept, 9, 2022
Available on Sept. 9th, restored live recordings from 1970ʼs classic prog rock group FLASH featuring ex-YES guitarist Peter Banks. Twenty-two tracks from seven shows across 3 discs; a majority of them previously unavailable. Best known thanks to their YES connections, the band nevertheless held their own across three Billboard charting albums, and the top 30 single hit “Small Beginnings.” Includes 32-page booklet with exclusive band interviews, unpublished photos and tour itinerary. A true time capsule back to the golden age of US rock concerts.
• Carefully restored and previously unreleased recordings • For fans of progressive rock, guitar heroes & YES • Previously unpublished photos & essay including detailed US tour history with exclusive band interviews and memorabilia
“Capturing the collective during seven of their American shows of 1972-1973, one of those preserved for posterity in its entirety, the digipack will allow the listener to savor most of the three LPs in rather different performances than those laid down in the studio and the uninitiated will have the opportunity to see how brilliant these musicians were. Colin and Ray worked for a while under the old name relatively recently, but it’s the old recordings their followers are after, so there’s something to look forward to.” – Dmitry Epstein https://dmme.net
Says Ray Bennett: “What ‘Think Like A Key Music’ set out to do here, on this multi-disc set, is to gather together whatever was left out there of live FLASH stuff regardless of quality and present it in the best possible way. Whatever improvements could be made to the audio were done. Quite a bit of it is rough sounding, but I found that even with the poor sound issues there was something coming across from the live experience. Some surprisingly good moments. A fair bit of this material was fan-recorded, probably on cassettes, some possibly from rough mixing board recordings; some is much better studio type quality, and some has been online for years on obscure websites, but in the worst possible form – awful sound, complete with extraneous noise and talking in the recordings. So all that has been cleaned up and the sound mastered as well as possible. Overall, I think this is a worthy project for the historical record at the very least. Other than the ‘In Public’ CD which is already available, this new set is it as far as we know. Pretty much all that there is of live FLASH performance.”
Legendary guitarist Steve Hackett is pleased to announce, ‘Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More’, the visual document of his 2021 UK tour celebrating the classic Genesis live album. Set for release on the 2nd September 2022 (with vinyl following on the 25th November), it sees Steve and his band perform ‘Seconds Out’ in full & in sequence, as well as a selection of solo material including tracks from his most recent studio album ‘Surrender of Silence’.
Steve comments: “I’m so happy to release my Seconds Out & More show… A spectacular night with a band on fire tearing into that magic music combining the true spirit of Genesis with a fresh virtuosic approach and an extraordinary sound under amazing lights. This show is a feast for both ears and eyes. The best of so many worlds!”
‘Genesis Revisited Live: Seconds Out & More’ will be available as Limited 2CD + Blu-ray & Limited 2CD + DVD, both including 5.1 surround sound, behind the scenes documentary & promo videos. Steve Hackett and his band comprise Roger King, Rob Townsend, Jonas Reingold, Nad Sylvan & Craig Blundell, and they were joined by Amanda Lehmann as special guest on the night.
Steve Hackett & his band have just completed a run of shows in New Zealand and Australia, and will continue their ‘Seconds Out & More’ tour in Japan, Europe and North America throughout the rest of year. In September and October 2022, they will present their ‘Foxtrot at Fifty’ 25-date tour in the UK. For the full list of dates and to buy tickets go to HackettSongs.com.
About Steve Hackett
Steve Hackett joined Genesis at the beginning of 1971 and gained an international reputation as the guitarist in the band’s classic line-up alongside Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins. Hackett’s intricate guitar work was a key element of Genesis’ albums from Nursery Cryme (1971) to Wind And Wuthering (1977) including the classic Selling England By The Pound.
After leaving Genesis at the end of 1977, Hackett’s solo career, which now spans more than 30 albums, has demonstrated his extraordinary versatility with both electric and acoustic guitar. Hackett is renowned as both an immensely talented and innovative rock musician and a virtuoso classical guitarist and composer and this was recognised in 2010 when he was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame. He has also worked alongside Steve Howe of YES in the supergroup GTR.
Hackett’s compositions take influences from many genres, including jazz, classical and blues. For his later studio works The Night Siren (2017) and At The Edge Of Light (2019) Hackett has explored the influences of world music. Recent tours have seen Hackett celebrate his time with Genesis including a spectacular 2018 tour in which he realised a long-held ambition to perform the works of Genesis live with his band and an orchestra.
The lockdown enforced by the 2020 global pandemic has proven to be a particularly creative period for Hackett. He began by releasing Selling England by the Pound & Spectral Mornings: Live at Hammersmith, a live recording of 2019’s hugely successful tour celebrating that Genesis classic together with the 40th anniversary of one of his most-loved solo albums. Lockdown also gave Hackett the opportunity to write and record two new studio albums, the UK Classical Chart hit Under A Mediterranean Sky and the forthcoming Surrender of Silence.
California band Birth is set to release their debut album “Born” in July. You can check out the band’s 9 minute + psych-epic “For Yesterday”, and order their album on CD, vinyl, or digitally here – https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/album/born
Fans of heavy psych-rock will love “For Yesterday” with it’s heavy guitar, and various keyboards, making it sound like it’s from a different era. Love the album’s artwork, and looking forward to hearing the full album!
[from press release] On ‘Born’, Birth musically and creatively constructs a science-fiction-inspired sound-world in which bleak tumult and skybound rapture co-exist. The result is an intoxicating album haunted by earthly concerns while its sonics aim simultaneously for the stars. “I’m a scientist by trade and I read a lot of dystopian sci-fi, which I believe is relevant to many of the events that have been occurring lately,” notes Riley. “These views feed a dark, spiritual and mystical relationship that I have with scientific thought”.
Birth features members of San Diego retro-rockers Astra along with current or former members of Joy, Radio Moscow, and Sacri Monti.
Conor Riley (vocals, keyboards, acoustic guitar), Brian Ellis (lead guitar, keyboards), Trevor Mast (bass), and Thomas DiBenedetto (drums). Drums on ‘Born’ performed by Paul Marrone.
Album Track listing: 01. Born 02. Descending Us 03. For Yesterday 04. Cosmic Tears 05. Another Time 06. Long Way Down
Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie’s fourth solo album comes out in a few weeks, and it’s surprisingly nothing that I expected. Now, to be honest I haven’t kept up with Dream Theater much since the early 2000s, just not huge on lengthy modern prog concept albums and pieces, I guess. But Beautiful Shades Of Grey is far from that. It is a collaboration with Paul Logue of UK band Eden’s Curse (I will have to check them out next), and features 11 tracks, with no heavy concepts, no long numbers, and no real heavy rockers. There’s plenty of acoustics, piano, synths, harmonies,… Sure, most of it would be classified as ballads, but it’s not too soft by any means, plenty of well crafted and performed tracks, They’re all pretty different, and there’s some nice use of strings and different guitars, piano… particularly on faves like “Give And Take” and “Sunset Ruin”. Strong acoustic cuts in “Wildflower”, “What I Missed”, and a cool take of Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” – which is pretty fitting, as this album has a good ’70s vibe to it all. Lead off number “Devil In Drag” comes in an acoustic and electric version, the stand-out track for me – an instantly likeable track, with a great melody, love the synths. The electric version, which ends this album is the only rocker here, but that’s OK. A very enjoyable album, just in time for summer! Cool cover, btw! Check out the first 2 videos from Beautiful Shades Of Grey below, and read the press info below.
James LaBrie, known internationally as the vocalist for progressive metal icons Dream Theater, embarks on uncharted waters with his fourth solo album, titled ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’. The new endeavor sees him traverse personal maturation, loss, a myriad of complex relationships, and most importantly – LaBrie’s burning passion for music. On paper, the latest studio offering from the Canadian singer first took shape shortly after the global pandemic began to emerge. But in reality, LaBrie formed a bond with his fellow collaborator, bassist Paul Logue, nearly a decade earlier.
The two first met in 2011, when James would lend his voice to a feature for Logue’s band, UK melodic metal outfit Eden’s Curse, on the song “No Holy Man”. As years went by the two remained in touch, occasionally kicking the tires on the idea of working together on another project. But when Dream Theater performed in Glasgow during the late winter of 2020, LaBrie and Logue would run into each other at the airport – once again asking the question. But this time, armed with the knowledge that a drastic change in the world was all but imminent, LaBrie made the decision to set things in motion.
“I said, ‘Let’s touch base as soon as I get home. Let’s start talking about it.’ So then, March 15th (less than a month later) the whole world shut down, and Paul reached out to me and said ‘Hey, do you have time now?” LaBrie’s response was simple and definitive “Wow, yeah. Let’s go for it.”
On the album, Logue plays acoustic rhythm guitar (both six & twelve string) and acoustic bass, while guitarist Marco Sfogli, who’s contributed on all of LaBrie’s solo albums since 2005’s ‘Elements of Persuasion’, handled the leads and solos. Logue recruited Eden’s Curse keyboardist Christian Pulkkinen to lend his playing on the record, while the suggestion to recruit James’s son Chance to play drums would also come from Paul. ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’, as LaBrie describes it, was a title that only came to him once he identified the record’s two core themes throughout its track list. “A lot of these lyrics are dealing with the beauty of human beings, and a lot are dealing with the grey areas of the in between. You’re not exactly happy, but you’re not exactly sad, either.”
The record starts off (and ends) with the track “Devil In Drag”, which emerges as a wall of synthesizers and acoustic strumming before exploding into a full-blown ensemble. LaBrie, who wrote all the lyrics on the album except for “Wildflower”, expresses that the song was written about “someone who started out as a decent human being, but along the way lost touch with their roots – overtime becoming self-serving, narcissistic and devoid of principles or values.” Going on to say, “’Devil In Drag’ is written from the perspective of someone who’s known them all their life and, seeing them now, asking ‘what happened?’”
Other early tracks like the adventurous and lovelorn “SuperNova Girl” and the uproarious self-revelation of “Hit Me Like A Brick” are eager to come to blows with false pretenses, be they felt with a romantic interest or from within. On the enduring melancholy of “Sunset Ruin”, LaBrie pays remembrance to his late brother, who passed from pancreatic cancer in 2016.
Going beyond the thematic and personal elements, for James, ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’ presented an opportunity to capture the love and enthusiasm he feels for great songwriting through a vehicle that wasn’t tied to the same rules and archetypes of his other projects. Reflecting on artists that he’s been drawn to over the years, ranging from Journey, Foreigner, and Gino Vannelli to Chevelle, Big Wreck and Prince, the common thread that’s kept him coming back to them was their eclectic, unpredictable output. “All these artists had versatility, and I think it’s primarily because of this that they maintained my attention. They always, I believe, pushed themselves to ask, ‘what else can I do?’”
The biggest homage on the album is paid to Led Zeppelin via a faithful and spirited cover of the song “Ramble On”. The mix on the track perfectly captures what LaBrie has established throughout the record with its “acoustic + full band” approach – that, sometimes, it’s best to give each instrument and instrumentalist the space to roam and harmonize, rather than obfuscate or gussy up. On ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’, the end goal isn’t creating something that meets a certain genre characterization, but rather being informed by decades of finding beautiful expression across a wide swath of musical artists, and knowing that veering away from familiar habits is a part of creative growth.
1. Devil In Drag 2. SuperNova Girl 3. Give And Take 4. Sunset Ruin 5. Hit Me Like A Brick 6. Wildflower 7. Conscience Calling 8. What I Missed 9. Am I Right 10. Ramble On 11. Devil In Drag (Electric Version)
*Available on CD, as well as black And yellow vinyl!