Peak, Electric Bouquet, 2018

peak - electric bouquetAnother album that has been playing for quite a while here at YMB HQ, is the debut from NYC band Peak. Consisting of Jeremy Hilliard on guitar/ vocals, Otis Williams on keys/ vocals, Eric Thachuck on bass and on drums Dale Paddyfote, who is replaced by John Venezia for live shows. Hilliard is the main songwriter.

What is really nice about the album, is that it is an obvious melting pot of influences that may seem far fetched, yet the band make them work. Think of funk, blues, fusion, dance music and rock. Or as Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and Chic having a coming together, wooing the crowd with a vibrant mix of songs, sounds and beats.
Yes the album moves around with the various tracks. But when it is over, I cannot help but think that it was a damn fine listen that just made me feel good. And upon listening closer, it is also clear that underneath all those positive vibes, is a band that knows how to play and treats you with little musical accents and arrangements that show their ability.

So if you should need more prove that it is possible to create independent music that is easy on the ears, sounds good, is suited for a large audience, and is still filled to the brim with class musicianship, look no further.

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Stimuli, They Are We, 2018

stimuli - they are weThis album has been spinning quite a few times the last couple of weeks. And it just keeps intriguing me! Let’s first introduce the band members; Tai Hake does bass and theremin, Jimmy Tomahawk sings and plays guitars and Cole Andrews handles drums. The album is self produced and released and since California is mentioned on the cover, I guess that is where they are from. They also have Thayne “Chief Runnamukka” Hake guesting on Native American flute.

The music on this album could be described as a mix of Rush, Tool and Alice In Chains. The drumming in the songs is inventive with a combination of groove and unexpected fills and breaks. The vocals are the most grunge oriented I think. Combine that with expressive guitar and bass and you have that combination that keeps me locked in while listening.
What also helps is that the 11 songs on offer are all about 4 to 5 minutes. So they are focused and varied.

And yet somehow I struggle to pinpoint why I like it so much. But after all that does not really matter. Fact is I thoroughly enjoy hearing it and never mind hitting replay.

So if the bands mentioned are right up your alley, this is surely worth tracking down!

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Dialeto, Live With David Cross, 2018

dialeto - live with david crossBrazilian band Dialeto teamed up with David Cross and recorded and released this set. Both the band as well as David Cross have been featured before so you might know that this is a kind of avant garde / progressive rock / fusion album. And live or not, no doubt there will be improvisations…

The album opens with 3 Roumanian Folk Dances, numbers 3, 2 and 4 to be precise. Since these are kept fairly short, I think (not knowing them) they stick pretty close to the originals. Folk Dances usually have a leading melody, and these are no exception. Next are 3 Mikrokosmos tracks, 149, 113 and 78. Here the subtitles refer to Bulgaria, so I suppose this are more original folk tracks, adapted. And of course, being from the East, the rhythms are often more complex than you might expect. Also the improvisations seem to be flowing more.

During playback of the album, I am sometimes reminded of the soundscapes King Crimson is known for. Like the opening of An Evening In The Village. But then we are back to more faster playing. Exiles is another piece that moves around from soft to wild and frantic.
And talking of KC, the album closes with 2 of their tracks, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic part 2 and Starless. And even when I miss John Wetton’s voice (it is still sung right), this will always be a song that hits home.

So maybe not for everybody, there is a lot to enjoy here for the right people.

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Cellar Dwellers, Junkyard Chronicles part 4, 2018

cellar dwellers - junkyard chronicles part 4With part 4 the Cellar Dwellers are closing their Junkyard Chronicles. And have completed the picture!

In the meantime I have seen the band live, and they are a formidable force. Their combination of rock, metal and punk energy is sure to go down well with many a crowd.

On this EP 6 songs this time. Shut Up is another ballsy rocker that they do so well. Furniture, is a short little steamroller where their punk influences really come to the fore. Take It is a Black Sabbath influenced heavy metal punch. At least you think so, until they suddenly change direction and take off with speed and determination. She’s A Loser is back on the metal track and a menacing at that. Song About Nothing is slightly more commercial, great riffs and melodies throughout, catch the video below. The EP closes with Rock ‘n Roll Noise, which sees them in their more classic rock ‘n metal mode.

Over 4 EP’s and 21 tracks, Cellar Dwellers have proven to rise to the challenge. Will be interesting to see where they are heading next…

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Ally The Fiddle, Up, 2018

ally the fiddle - upOf course the violin is an instrument that is no stranger to progressive rock / metal. Think Kansas, David Cross or Apocalyptica. Let alone all arrangements involving orchestrated music.

Ally the Fiddle is a band around classically trained violinist and singer Ally Storch. For Ally, progressive means spinning things around. So expect prog rock and metal, but don’t be surprised to hear parts beyond that. A dash of fusion here or a bit of folk there, etc.

Opening track Sisyphos is an up tempo melodic track with multi layered vocals and the violin adding all kinds of extra’s. The song is expanded with an instrumental section full of breaks and solos, adding the metal to it. Aphotic Zone continues in that mould, going from gentle to fierce and back. Solos are exchanged between violin and guitar. The choices of tones in the melodies do create a jazzy sense to the track. But the metal guitars keep you grounded. The title for The Bass Thing suits the song well as the bass gets a leading role, supported by the rest of the musicians. Well, with a bass player as well as a chapman stick player in the band, you do get the chance to expand.
Because of the 6 instrumentalists in the band, there was no need to add keyboards…

Overall the album is more melodic than you might expect. Of course there are lots of instrumental parts and solos, but a lot of those keep an eye on melody as well.

Nice album to get to know the band (even when this is their second album) and certainly a band that manages to add a fresh colour to the densely populated prog scene.

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BlurryCloud, Pedesis, 2018

blurrycloud - pedesisSecond feature of this one man band, and it is also the second release. Yet this time things have been done different a bit by main man Jack DeMaio.

First is involving several guests throughout the 6 tracks on offer. Second is the inclusion of vocals in A Lilac Husk, making this not a 100% instrumental affair. And lastly, but certainly creating a big effect, is the maturing in the songwriting. More focus on “a far more paced and handcrafted sound with a clearer stylistic approach” as he calls it. And even when inspirations from for instance Devin Townsend or Caligula’s Horse still are a part of the end result, I think Jack has created a beautiful album here.

From the opening tones of Flutter to closer Fleur De Lune, we are treated to beautiful atmospheric passages as well as riff laden progressive metal. But the overall sense pouring is that the central theme of the album is represented oh so well: natural beauty that degrades with time. So while the tone may be sombre, or rather melancholic, you just have to stop and smell the roses. Or in this case, hit repeat.

Very well done!

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Aaron Brooks, Homunculus, 2018

aaron brooks - homunculusAfter a 2 year hiatus, former Simeon Soul Charger songwriter Aaron Brooks returns to the scene. Helping him are, amongst others, 2 people that will peek the interest of the progressive community: Yogi Lang and Kalle Wallner from RPWL. Still that does not mean that this is a full on progressive album. Yes, you hear elements here and there. Like mellotron, or some more elaborate arrangements to spice things up. Yet in essence I think this will appeal to anyone who loves the vibe of the sixties. Or the other qualities on offer.

On to the music then:  with a few exceptions, most songs clock in at around 3 minutes. Brooks must have had his melancholy hat on when writing most of them, because the feel that is pouring from them is full of emotion. And since the songs are very melodic, the outcome is a very warm and entertaining album.
The song titles seem to be telling a lot (alas the promo does not come with lyrics): Consume, You’re Just A Picture In A Frame, Everybody Dies, By Your Halo Or The Fork Of Your Tongue, Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Someone Else or my favourite: What Is A Man But An Animal’s End.  Guess some people needed dealing with 🙂

To conclude this is an album for many uses. To listen to with attention and admire the storytelling and melodies. Or to play in the background when you have friends over, just to show you do not need to play technical music all of the time…

Well done!

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Odin’s Court, Turtles All The Way Down vol. II, 2018

odin's court - turtles all the way down vol iiThe reason that I very much prefer to receive a CD for review purposes, is not only that I still think that it sounds better than a compressed file. Or that it suits my listening habits more. It is also because mp3 files often get lost somewhere on my pc and I have a hard time keeping track. So sorry Odin’s Court, now you know why these words are arriving late.

Okay on to the album then. The guys boldly start with a 20+ minute epic called A Brief History Of Time. Which serves as a perfect way to introduce all you can expect from the band: progressive metal, soaring melodies, breaks, solos, and also laid back interludes to give you some breathing space.
And they prove to be very good at what they do. Every musician gets a chance to shine without making it sound like they thought “oh wait, we need a spot for a bass solo”.
No they keep it together and the songs flow. As a result the 8 tracks and almost 60 minutes fly by as I am listening to this. And every time I just hit repeat. This not only because of what I said before, but the melodies and especially the choruses are damn catchy too. In the genre they are more comparable to Threshold than to Dream Theater if you know what I mean. I feel the songs are still more important that showing off their capabilities.

Very good album, go check it if you have not tried it yet.

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Upcoming Rock Company releases

Claudio Delgift, also known as “C,” is a singer and guitarist from Buenos Aires, Argentina. So far he has released 7 solo albums, two singles, and an EP, as well as participated in many more musical ventures. His large following on social media is due to his frequent postings of his amazing work. Often live! Since so far none of his releases had been available on CD, Rock Company contacted Claudio to see if a cooperation would work out. And it did! So here we proudly present a remastered version of 12 tracks from his 7 albums so far. We think it is a stunning testament of a truly gifted musician.

CD pre-order available on bandcamp and Rock Company and album release is December 28.

Slug Comparison is the solo project of Fen vocalist/guitarist Doug Harrison. Known for blending darkness and light, acoustic and electric, Harrison first deepened his exploration of these elements with a 2014 solo album that felt like a Part II to Fen’s acclaimed album Trails Out Of Gloom.
In 2017, Harrison started recording and releasing EP’s. After four of them—IIa, b, c and d—Rock Company got in touch and convinced him to bundle these EP’s, add a few extra tracks and release them as the successor to his solo debut.

So here is Slug Comparison’s second album: When You Were Living Here. Album release is January 16-2019 and pre order starts January 1 on iTunes, Bandcamp and Rock Company.

Sky Empire, The Dark Tower, 2018

sky empire - the dark towerSometimes an album just blows you out of your socks. And simply put, this is one of those albums! Yes I may be a bit biased, but what this UK, London based band deliver on The Dark Tower is of the highest progressive metal order in my humble opinion.

But let’s start with the musicians: Tom Hobson on keyboards does not limit himself to adding colour, but manages to shine on his solo spots as well. And does not mind playing some beautiful piano either. Singer Yordan Ivanov delivers his vocals in a wide variety of styles and with a great reach too. Also the clever placed harmonies add nice touches to melodies. Which tower magnificently over the often complex rhythmic music. Remi Jalabert provided the drums, keeping all together like clockwork. Main songwriter and guitarist Drazic Lecutier… what can I say… he is up there with the best. Be it as a shredder or delivering stunning and heartfelt melodic solos or bone crushing riffs, he delivers in spades. Rounding out the band is Tony Snow on bass, providing that much appreciated low end.

Then the songs; 5 in total, starting with Marionette (over 6 and a half minutes) and closing with the title song, delivering all its beauty in an epic 26 minutes. Every song on the album lasts longer than its predecessor. But all of them create a punch, even in the quieter moments. All tick the necessary prog metal boxes: complexity, solos, breaks, orchestral parts and choruses that hook you.

Everyone who thinks of themselves as a serious prog metal fan ought to own this. It is that good!

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