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Album Reviews
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

She (Metal Mind Productions)

She—a lavish two-CD set written by veteran British progressive rocker Clive Nolan and based on H. Rider Haggard’s 1887 Victorian-adventure novel of the same name—fits practically every definition of “rock opera.” The majestic, large-scale story of a white African queen who made herself immortal by . . .
Album Reviews
Monday, June 30, 2008

Metamorphosis (The Laser’s Edge)

Christina Booth, lead vocalist of the British prog band Magenta, cites Madison’s Garbage as one of her favorite artists. That influence shows in Magenta’s fourth album, the dark and slightly off-kilter Metamorphosis, which bristles with haunting and atmospheric pop-rock songs that can stir odd emotions in listeners...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Live From Chicago (Coming Home Media)

Think the Steve Miller Band doesn’t matter anymore? Try telling that to the generations of smiling fans who packed the sold-out Ravinia Amphitheater in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park for two nights last July. Captured with 17 cameras in 5.1 surround sound, those gigs anchor Live From Chicago . . .
Album Reviews
Monday, June 9, 2008

13th Star (Chocolate Frog Records)

Some of rock’s most memorable albums have been recorded by artists in the midst of grief and despair. While 13th Star, a poignant reflection on love by the recently heartbroken Derek Dick—better known as Fish, former frontman of the seminal British progressive-rock band Marillion—may not go down as one of the . . .
Album Reviews
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crossing Dragon Bridge (Blue Rose Records)

The title of Crossing Dragon Bridge was inspired by the landmark that Steve Wynn regularly traversed during a recent three-week stay in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where the founder of ’80s alternative-rock pioneers The Dream Syndicate recorded his first solo album since 2001.
Album Reviews
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lesser Epitomes (Palace of Lights)

The ambient, disconnected work of minimalist composer K. Leimer exists on the fringes of experimental music. And yet, the Hawaii-based musician has nearly 10 albums to his credit. His latest release, Lesser Epitomes, is a 70-minute collection of 21 short and closely related pieces organized into three suites.
Album Reviews
Monday, April 7, 2008

Bushwhack (Bushwhack Entertainment)

Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree rank among the most common reference points for progressive metal in the early 21st century. Serious and technical, yet still melodic, both veteran bands have proven that complex music can find an audience—if not always mainstream acceptance. Now along comes Bushwhack, an all-instrumental quartet of college students from New Haven, Conn., that picks and chooses influences from Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree and other modern progressive
Album Reviews
Monday, April 7, 2008

Secrets of the New Explorers (Independent)

The six sparse and spacey songs on Secrets of the New Explorers by Glen Phillips (the former frontman for ’90s alternative-popsters Toad the Wet Sprocket) could land this sonic astronaut some new fans. With low-fi guitars, minimal percussion and dreamy vocals, Phillips explores space travel and the mysteries of the solar system. The strongest cut here, “Solar Flare,” even invokes
Album Reviews
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ilembe: Honoring Shaka Zulu (Gallo/Heads Up International)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo unites native South African musical traditions with Christian sentiment and political context. It makes sense that the country’s premier vocal group would record an album honoring the iconic warrior Shaka Zulu. But instead of glorifying violence—Zulu imbued South Africans with an indomitable fighting spirit in the early 1800s—Ilembe (“The Greatest Warrior”) celebrates perseverance and commitment. By incorporating its signature a cappella harmonies and tongue clicks into a collection of songs that reference Zulu’s beliefs and practices . . .
Album Reviews
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Iraq (United For Opportunity Music)

War may be hell, but Black 47 makes it rock. On Iraq, veteran Irish renegade Larry Kirwan and his band of pacifists attempt to conquer the current war with a song cycle of previously released and new material. The punchy melodies are Black 47’s best in years, as uilleann-pipe-fuelled rock, reggae, folk, jazz and traditional Irish music collide in a rewarding protest record.

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