Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Prog Rock Records Showcase 2011-2012
ProgRockRecords is a California label run by Shawn Gordon. The label has been releasing melodic progressive rock for many years now and many famous artists have been able to express themselves due to the labels sheer dedication to this style of semi-mainstream prog music. I will give short overviews of these records in the order that they have been released.
Everwood- Without Saving (PRR605)
This is the 3rd record from the Hungarian act, Everwood. The CD features 12 tracks in 53mins. They have some pretty heavy and hard rocking riffs mixed with very melodic singing and sometimes intense keyboard playing as well. Some of the tracks are more mainstream that others but musically they have a lot of intensity. At times they remind me of a more progressive Soundgarden. The booklet has all the lyrics and beautiful artwork.
Xanadu- The Last Sunrise (PRR608)
Xanadu is from Poland and play some intense music. They are a five piece band with two guitars and a very good singer. They mix some really heavy riffs, some more spacey synths and keyboards, which are played by two guest musicians, and melodious singing. The track Violent Dream features some really excellent lead guitar work, which is not that present on many of the other tracks. This is really an amazing song. The last and title track also features a guest female vocalist, Paulina Tomaszweska. Quite an impressive record.
Akin- The way things End (PRR318)
Akin are a 7 piece French band that features a string quartet of viola, violin and cello on many of the 15 tracks on this hour long CD. I was really caught by surprise by the very special and intense female voice. There will be many people who will not like Adeline. Musically, they are very diverse with a lot of different instruments taking the lead in different songs, sometimes it is the strings, the piano, darbuka, tablas, electric guitar. Unhearted is a particularly diverse track. Sometimes the music is rocking pretty hard with a 70s style progressive lead guitar work while other times is very much modern melodic prog, so that bands stretch across both styles.
Profusion- RewoTower (PRR565)
This is Profusion’s 2nd record. The band is a mixture of musicians from Italy and Georgia (not the USA). The CD features 11 tracks in 55 minutes. The opening track has quite a catchy groove to it and a hard edge. The music is more slick and mainstream than any of the other bands in this review. Occasionally, they mix it up a bit more with tracks like Treasure Island, which has a very different vocal style and musical approach to start and then they go back to the same sort of style that I am not really digging. This band is just a bit too poppy for me somehow, despite having some quite cool elements and heavy guitar riffs at times. It is probably the 80’s style vocals and choruses. Check them out.
Centric Jones- The Antikythera Method (PRR077)
This CD caught me quite by surprise. From what I can tell this is the 2nd record by Chris Fournier (Guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion) and Tobe London (Drums, percussion and keyboards). They are joined by the impressive Laurie Larson or Tessa Anderson on vocals. Only 5 of the 12 tracks have vocals though. This record is really different with a super cool floating, spacey feel to it and some fantastic acoustic guitar playing and on other tracks, really cool electric guitar, keyboards. Think of a sort of really cool spacey Enya, with lots of progressive elements and deep musical textures and layers and not all the new age garbage. There are a few of these type of tracks. They even cover Then by Yes. The band has some detailed notes about each and everyone song with what instruments were used and their thoughts about the tracks in general. What more to say???
Gekko Projekt- Electric Forest (PRR238)
This is a four piece band featuring US and British musicians. The music is mostly instrumental with some intense guitar work. Vance, the keyboard player also does some singing and has written the majority of the music. The band is at its best when it is just playing. Cognitive Dissonance has a really great bass line to start off. Vance uses a wide range of different keyboards which provides a lot of different textures on the different songs. Peter certainly has a favourite lead guitar tone that you hear a lot on his solo sections but this is not to say he does not also have a diverse range of sounds. This is more jazz rock at times rather than hard rock but it has these very melodic vocals (he does not have a great range but a lot of passion). I am not a big fan of these pad synths behind the vocals that are often used, to give it this more pop feel or something.. Anyway, a very good album. I love the bands web page as well.