Friday, September 28, 2012

Top Albums of the Year 2000, Part 2: Others

Other Albums from Y2K Worth Listening To


Radiohead? Progressive rock? This is a contentious topic to which I have only to add that Radiohead has certainly been a leader in music evolution, whether that be pop orientation, creative song and album formats, or technological advances and achievements--and none moreso than on this album, Kid A. Therefore, my inclusion of Kid A is more intended to give special recognition to a band that has forged new innovative songwriting, performance, and marketing techniques, and this, their finest album (their only one that I fined myself listening through, start to finish.)

Favorite songs: "Optimistic" (5:16) (10/10); "Everything in Its Right Place" (4:11) (9/10); "Treefingers" (3:43) (9/10); "Kid A" (4:44) (8/10); "In Limbo" (3:31) (8/10); "The National Anthem" (5:51) (8/10); "Morning Bell" (4:34) (8/10), and; "Motion Picture Soundtrack/untitled" (6:57) (8/10). 

82.0 on the Fish scales = four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

THE FLOWER KINGS Space Revolver 

Probably my favorite Flower Kings album--mostly due to the presence of my favorite Flower Kings song, "I Am the Sun, Part 2" (10:39) (10/10). The presence of melodic master of the fretless bass is felt very strongly throughout this album. I have three complaints about TFK albums and songs: 1) quite often their songs seem too familiar--as if someone else has already done this (usually YES or GENESIS); 2) their albums (and often songs) seem to go on so long--sometimes seemingly pointlessly; 3) Roine Stolt's voice is not one of my favorites.

Other good songs: "Dream on Dreamer" (9/10), "I Am the Sun, Part 1" (8/10), "Chicken Farmer Song" (8/10), and "Slave to Money" (8/10).

A decent 4 star album with The Flower Kings usual quirkiness and attempt at profundity, but, ultimately, it is a bit too 'all over the map.' But, as for giving TFK and ROINE STOLT a listen, this is a good place to start.

CABEZAS DE CERA Cabezas de Cera

Great music--truly of a progressive nature--from a Mexican trio-sometimes-duo that include, on this, their debut album, an amazing percussionist (Francicso Sotelo on electronic drum set & tuned and untuned percussion), a Chapman Stick player (Mauricio Sotelo playing "grand stick, electric & acoustic guitars, electric bass"), and an extraordinary master of wind instruments--some of which are local/indigenous (Ramses Luna on "varied flutes, saxophone & clarinet"). A fresh sound that is very exciting to listen to but then feels a little raw and less-than-polished in the end. Still, the Sotelo brothers really have something new and special. Videos of their live performances are really fun to watch.

1. "Ventiuno (5:40)
2. "Gocxilla (5:30)
3. "Encantador De Serpientes (5:47)
4. "Un Pueblo Escondido (5:47)
5. "Caravana (4:40)
6. "Pretexto A Un Texto Fragmentado (4:30)
7. "Gitana (3:04)
8. "Frontera (6:04)
9. "Al Aire (6:05)

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven

1. "Gathering Storm" (22:32)

2. "Terrible Canyons of Static" (22:35)

3. "Murray Ostril: 'They Don't Sleep Anymore on the Beach'" (23:17)

4. "She Dreamt She Was a Bulldozer, She Dreamt She Was Alone in an Empty Field" (18:57)


TAAL Mister Green

TRISTEZA Dream Signals in Full Circles

1. "Building Peaks" (4:51) (8/10)
2. "Respira" (4:37) 
3. "City of the Future" (5:53) (10/10)
4. "Shitty Drifty" (3:46) 
5. "Auroura Borealis" (4:40) 
6. "I Am a Cheetah" (5:27) 
7. "Chiaroscuro" (6:22) 
8. "Are We People" (4:05) 
9. "Opiate Slopes" (5:37) 


All of the KING CRIMSON comparisons are well justified though this is the mellower, earlier KC we're comparing DF to. Odd retro-sound choices in the production room from ANGLAGARD's Mattias Olsson, which makes one think that one is listening to an album from the early 1970s. Weird, to say the least. The melodic sides are very GENESIS-like, the acoustic parts sound like MOON SAFARI.

1. "The Pioneer (6:48) 
2. "--- Yellow Line(1:39) 
3. "OCD (2:48) 
4. "King Of The Skies (7:31) the masterful organ play in this one wins me over. (9/10) 
5. "The City In The Sea (6:26) 
6. "Dry (7:01) 
7. "Stolen Smile (5:29) opens with a cool British funk sound/feel--until that first guitar chord shift betrays its progginess. Very PORCUPINE TREE-ish. 
8. "--- Blue Line (0:51) 
9. "The Ultraviolence (6:27) 
10. "Departure (2:35) is an acoustic guitar strummed folk ballad before turning into an computer synth pop experiment. Clever and unusual. (8/10)


An Andy Tillison project that I happen to like more than his other projects--solo, Tangent, or collaborations (Big Big Train). Still, there is something too borrowed/cheezy/neo about this music for me (as is the case for most AT contributions. If they were Canterbury style, it might be different, but the bombastic YES/ELP approach doesn't work well for me).

EVERON Fantasma

Pompous heavy prog, almost on the metal and/or 1980s "classic rock"vein. Nice clean sound production and enough space to hear everything--which is nice.

1. "Men Of Rust" (6:20) 
2. "Perfect Remedy" (5:19) 
3. "Fine With Me" (3:33) 
4. "A Day By The Sea" (5:47) 

Fantasma Suite:
5. "Right Now..." (2:04) 
6. "... Til The End Of Time" (5:16) 
7. "Fantasma-Theme" (0:38) 
8. "The Real Escape" (4:24) 
9. "Whatever It Takes" (2:10) 
10. "Battle Of Words" (3:42) 
11. "May You" (4:33) 
12. "Ghosts-Intro" (1:52) 
13. "Ghosts" (5:52) 

ECHOLYN Cowboy Poems Free

1. "Texas Dust (5:16) 
2. "Poem #1 (1:33) 
3. "Human Lottery (5:32) 
4. "Gray Flannel Suits (4:47) 
5. "Poem #2 (0:59) 
6. "High As Pride (6:45) 
7. "American Vacation Tune (5:18) 
8. "Swingin' The Ax (3:15) 
9. "1729 Broadway (6:01) 
10. "Poem #3 (1:50) 
11. "67 Degrees (5:21) 
12. "Brittany (6:34) 
13. "Poem #4 (1:30) 
14. "Too Late For Everything (4:33)

STEVE HACKETT Sketches of Satie

I can't help myself here:  I am a sucker for anything by, covering or derivative of the work of French classical composer, Erik Satie. John and Steve's Hackett's renderings of some of Satie's best known pieces are wonderful, though at times I feel Steve's guitar support is either lacking emotion or evoking a very different emotion to that of his brother's flute. These are, truly, interpretations of Satie's music, though no doubt the sheet musics were the guides. To really feel the sublime power of these pieces I highly recommend viewing the 2003 DVD Hungarian Horizons which captures John and Steve's January 26, 2001 live performance before a Hungarian audience. There you can see and feel the chemistry working on all levels.

4.0 stars; rated down for it's more classical, less progressive rock nature.



Albums from Y2K that Are, IMHO, Over-rated


This 63-minute long "EP"is held in high regard by many in the prog world. I find it derivative, "Revelation" (8/10) starts beautifully but then goes over the top. The two epics "At the End of the Day" (7/10) and "The Great Nothing" (7/10), 16:27 and 27:03, respectively, are just showy and pointlessly long. "All on a Sunday" sounds as if it wants to be a pop song in the vein of BEACH BOYS (and foreshadowing the later arrival of MOON SAFARI). But it just doesn't have the hooks. "Thoughts, Pt. 2" (7/10) is a GENTLE GIANT ripoff--as if to say "Look: We can do Gentle Giant!" Even the best song on the album, "Goodbye to Yesterday" (8/10) is a bit too cliched and nothing to really write home about. Technically talented, lyrically banal, unfortunately, playing music that is so familiar, so similar to "classic" groups and songs of the 70s as to be almost embarrassing. Spock's Beard, even with Neal Morse, has never produced an album that gets rotated into my play cycle. Not even a song. And this, their most highly rated album, is nothing more than a 3 star album to me.

SMPTe Transatlantic

A super group bringing together SPOCK'S BEARD's singer songwriter, NEAL MORSE, THE FLOWER KINGS' singer guitarist ROINE STOLT, DREAM THEATER's drummer MIKE PORTNOY, and MARILLION's PETE TREWAVAS only creates more of what they all came from: very talented musicians creating deriviative, unoriginal music and lyrics. The low-key and brief (in comparison to the album's three 16-plus minute songs) "We All Need Some Light" is the highlight for me. "My New World" also has some nice redeeming parts. A polished, pretentious show of old-style prog--called Neo-prog. (Not my favorite 'sub-genre.' Neo-prog doesn't seem to want to say much new, instead it seems to be good at repeating and paying homage to the sounds and artists of the past.)

FATES WARNING Disconnected

Heavy prog, almost on the metal and/or 1980s "classic rock"vein. The album has nice clean sound production and enough space to hear everything--which is nice, but I'm not a big fan of the lead vocals--Ray Alder's competent and confident but there's really nothing special here. Highlights: the two epics:  the spacious, atmospheric "Something from Nothing" (10:58) (9/10) and the more melodic though more neo-oriented, "Still Remains" (16:11) (here I can really hear the Kevin Moore contribution) (9/10).

1. "Disconnected (Part 1) (1:16) 
2. "One (4:23) 
3. "So (8:07) 
4. "Pieces Of Me (4:24) 
5. "Something From Nothing (10:58) 
6. "Still Remains (16:11) 
7. "Disconnected (Part 2) (6:07)


Great drumming. 1980s King Crimson-like guitar stylings and weaves.

1. Fire Back About Your New Baby's Sex (4:42) 
2. "The Peter Criss Jazz" (10:35) (9/10) 
3. Haven't Lived Afro Pop (7:34) 
4. You Drink a Lot of Coffee For a Teenager (2:41) 
5. "Ones All Over the Place" (9:00) (9/10)
6. I Never Liked You (4:59) 
7. "Details on How to Get Iceman on Your License Plate" (5:35) (9/10)
8. A Lot of People Tell Me I Have a Fake British Accent (5:23) 
9. Let's Face It Pal, You Didn't Need That Eye Surgery (5:09) 

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