Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham, Mass Hysteria, 2020

Doris Brendel & Lee Dunham - Mass HysteriaRegular readers of the blog will surely have noticed the Doris Brendel name a couple of times. Her output in recent years has always been with Lee Dunham, who both also write the songs. And for these people it will not come as a surprise when I say I really like their music. So it gives me great pleasure to discuss their latest output, Mass Hysteria. Especially since I think this is one of their strongest efforts ever! (Not that they ever released anything sub-par)

Opener Takes One To Know One sets the tone for one of the most progressive albums of the duo. But that does not mean they sidetrack you with songs that take time getting in to. On the contrary, tracks like the opener, You Took My Breath Away, You’re Everything or On The Other Side nest themselves in your brain in an instant. And if there was any justice in the world, It Can Only Get Better would become the massive hit it deserves to be.

This is a great album from start to finish. One that people who normally do not listen to “progressive rock” will enjoy if they give it a chance. So maybe I should just call it a pop rock CD and send you on your way to get it?

Prime example of what to do when you’re stuck at home and cannot tour the world. Deliver class!

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Hepcat Dilemma, Art Imitates Life, 2019

hepcat dilemma - art imitates lifeTo the people that are into progressive music, especially when it borders on avant garde, and who miss hearing new ideas coming from Frank Zappa; fear not, because now there is this band whose music is as strange as their name: Hepcat Dilemma!

Built around the songs of Bob Loiselle (guitars and piano),  this trio (with Chris Colpo on bass and vocals and E. Hood on drums) prove they are not afraid to confuse you anyway they can. With songs like The Chauffeur Will Have The Last Word, Night Of The Spiders, Persian Monkey Treatment or What Will Her Kiss Mean Tomorrow? they keep firing idea after thought after break at their listener. All glued together in instrumental unison and with the machismo of scene veterans who play just for the fun of it and do not really think much about how they will be received/ perceived.

In a time where too many acts sound alike, these cats sure are a breath of fresh air. Probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but if you like a challenge, this sure is a collection worth diving into. Kudos gentlemen!

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Legion, Redemption, 2020

legion - redemptionSince their return in 2019 with Rising, Legion have wasted little time so here is their next effort Redemption. Delivering another 11 tracks, this is by no means a quick fix, trying to cash in on the gaining momentum. In fact, I think it is as least as good as their comeback album!

For those who are yet to discover the band, Legion is a combo of US singer Phil Vincent, with UK musicians Vince O’Regan (guitars), Gav Cooper (bass), Irv Parrat (keyboards) and Andy Pierce (drums). Together they deliver hard rocking tunes that may be bordering on the metallic. But since Phil is involved we need not worry about melody.
So we get power, groove, shredding and catchiness combining to form a winning formula.

Simply put, another great album that will not need much time winning you over.

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Elaine Samuels & Kindred Spirit Band, Elemental, 2019

elaine samuels - elementalIn all honesty, for me this is a tricky one. Despite several spins, I am still unsure if I like what is going on on this album.

But let me take a few steps back first. I guess musically speaking, the progressive folk rock tag is fairly correct, There are flutes and violin, the music is dynamic and diverse and the lyrics are “percesptive and intriguing” to quote the press sheet.

But the problem for me lies in the fact that I think the flutes and violin often come too much to the forefront in the mix. And for me Elaine sings a bit too clinical. Somehow she sounds more focused on singing in tune than on singing with emotion. And for me that kind of kills the joy of listening. It might be just me though!

So if you are into female singers and like folk mixed with prog, you’d better give it a few spins yourself…

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The Needs, You Need The Needs, 2019

the needs frontDon’t know how this ended up on my desk, but currently making rounds in my CD player is this album “You Need The Needs” from The Needs (duh).

There are 12 titles on the disk. And when I tell you the total playing time is still below 30 minutes, I guess you agree that must mean either some short interludes, or it is a punk album.

Well, both are true to some extent. There are indeed 2 short ditties, and there are several songs bursting of punk energy. But it is a melodic kind of punk, coupled with a healthy dose of powerpop. The result is a mix that is fairly easy on the ears and still has enough vibrancy to get you moving. And Hey Wake Up should be a hit if you want my 2 cents…

Fans of bands from the likes of The Offspring to Cheap Trick, chances are you will like this! I know I do, and I want more 🙂

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RPWL, Live From Outer Space, 2019

rpwl - live from outer spaceAfter their 10th album Tales From Outer Space, RPWL made the rounds in Europe, often playing sold out venues but always to enthousiastic crowds.
So no wonder they decided to record their seventh live album (!). Released on double CD, vinyl as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, this set of course features their sci-fi inspired Tales tracks, as well as songs from their extensive back catalogue.

CD 1 holds 8 tracks, and CD 2 delivers 6 more. And with this experienced band, you know you get quality. Nice touch is these versions are sometimes extended with on the spot jams.

Not sure if it will bring them new fans, but I sure do not mind listening to this band!

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Yogi Lang, A Way Out Of Here, 2019

yogi lang - a way out of hereYes, the RPWL frontman has released another solo album. Since it is now a year old, I guess most of you will already have heard it and/ or picked it up. For those not yet familiar, if you like latter day Pink Floyd, you will like this too.

But in all honesty that is a bit too easy even when Yogi does have a vocal sound not unlike that of David Gilmour and the overal vibe is similar to PF.
But Lang again proves to be a creative songwriter who is able to churn out great melodies and who can pack melancholy in songs of love and hope. After all, when there is a way in, there is a way out…

So Floyd fan or not, surely worth listening to, and not only for prog lovers!

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Moon Letters, Until They Feel The Sun, 2019

moon letters - until they feel the sunOpener Skara Brae will tell you a lot about the music on this album; music that flows from neo prog to technical prog metal to more intimate almost folky music. But it wasn’t until the vocals started that a name from the past kept popping up in my brain, that of Klaatu! Moon Letters have the same knack for melody but have expanded the sound into a mix that many lovers of prog will surely embrace.

Worth noting is that they avoided the trap of over producing the album. So the technical proggy bits still sound fairly dry and sit remarkably well with the more neo prog and or folky segments. So when they move from a moog inspired synth solo to a more heavy guitar part, the album still breathes.
As a result the album impresses with quality songs and playing and above all melodies that stick. The fact that their songs range from 1 tot 9 minutes only adds to the many colours.

That’s a job well done!

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War Gods Of The Deep, Action Space Battle, 2019

war gods of the deep - action space battle frontOver the years doing this, I have seen some pretty stunning artwork and packaging. But if memory serves me right, this is the first time an album arrived in a matching box! Which also contained a card, stickers, buttons, etc. See the picure below. All serving the same purpose, draggin you into the sci-fi world of War Gods Of The Deep. Kudos for that!

Now on to the music. While I could understand if for some the lead vocals are a somewhat aqcuired taste, I must say for me the often doubled and harmonized vocals, with additional harmony and gang vocals have created a sound I have not heard before. And the dark vocals suit the melodic metal music well.
Another trick used is introducing a song like you would on the radio. Was not sure that would work on repeated play but in reality I was not bothered much.

All tracks are powerful and are carried by catchy hooks and chorusses. The almost 11 minutes of The Machine are epic, but since most songs are around 5 to 6 minutes, they take time to develop a song and go places.

So put simple: I like it and maybe you will too if you give it a try!

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war gods of the deep box

Life in Digital, Signs To The Far Side, 2019

life in digitalVia his busy social media activities, I have been following the steps of John Beagley for quite a few years now, even buying several of his releases. So it was nice to receive the promo for his second Life In Digital album. Which is John and singer Robin Schell (who is a dead ringer for Jon Anderson).

Knowing that John not only comes from an Eighties pop/wave background, but also is a massive prog fan, it will not come as a surprise that this album is an amalgam of those influences. On this, fans of the Trevor Rabin era of Yes will find many things to their liking. And for avid proggies who think nothing is prog unless a song is over a quarter long, the album opens with the 22+ minutes epic Karma. Nice thing about it is that they were not afraid to add more ambient soundscapes. The other songs are more in the 5-6 minute range but also showcase their talent.

This is a very melodic prog album with obviously a strong Yes reference. Thankfully the music can stand on its own and turned out to be entertaining!

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