Sunday, January 29, 2023

Marillion - Marillion Weekend Canada 2022 - Night 3, 2022-07-03 - Olympia Theatre, Montreal, QC, Canada


Marillion Weekend Canada 2022, Night 3
Olympia Theatre,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Audience Recording (Poignant Pros-Binko), Very Good Quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320kbps) versions

Here's the final night (night 3) of Marillion Weekend Canada 2022. This show features their complete Season's End (1989) album played in its entirety. This was the first album with Steve Hogarth as lead vocalist, following the departure of previous vocalist Fish. The show also features a couple of other Epic-length songs, 'The Leavers' suite from the band's album F.E.A.R. (2016) and 'Gaza' from The Sounds That Can't Be Made (2012). This show wraps up the Marillion Weekend experience in glorious fashion. Over the course of the 3 days, the band played songs (and some whole albums) from throughout their extensive catalog, creating a unique concert experience for fans.

00 Intro Q&A (VIP package)
01 The King of Sunset Town
02 Easter
03 The Uninvited Guest
04 Seasons End
05 banter
06 Holloway Girl
07 banter
08 Berlin
09 After Me
10 The Release
11 Hooks in You
12 The Space
13 Gaza
14 The Leavers 


Thursday, January 26, 2023

Marillion - Marillion Weekend Canada 2022 - Night 2, 2022-07-02 - Olympia Theatre, Montreal, QC, Canada

Marillion Weekend Canada 2022 - Night 2
Olympia Theatre
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Audience Recording (Poignant Pros-Binko), Very Good Quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320kbps) versions

Here's the 2nd night from Marillion Weekend Canada 2022, with this show featuring a live performance of their newest album, An Hour Before It's Dark (2022) in sequence and in its entirety. As encores there are also a few tracks from earlier albums. A great presentation of their newest music here on the 2nd night show.

01 Be Hard on Yourself
02 Reprogramming the Gene
03 Only a Kiss
04 Murder Machine
05 banter
06 The Crow and the Nightingale
07 Sierra Leone false start
08 Sierra Leone
09 Care
10 Quartz
11 banter
12 Man of a Thousand Faces
13 Neverland

Pete Trewavas – bass guitar
Ian Mosley – drums
Steve Rothery – electric guitar
Mark Kelly – keyboards
Steve Hogarth – lead vocals

Mp3 - Marillion_2022-07-02_Olympia, Montreal,QC_mp3.rar

FLAC -  Marillion_2022-07-02_Olympia, Montreal,QC_FLAC.rar

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Marillion - Marillion Weekend Canada 2022 - Night 1, 2022-07-01 - Olympia Theatre, Montreal, QC, Canada

Marillion Weekend Canada 2022 - Night 1
Olympia Theatre
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Audience Recording (Poignant Pros-Binko), Very Good Quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320kbps) versions

Moving back to more recent events, Here is the first night of the Weekend series of shows from prog rock veterans, Marillion. Marillion held several 'Marillion Weekend' events in 2022, marking 3-day festivals featuring 3 consecutive nights of concerts consisting of completely different shows (different songs) each night. These Weekend shows in Canada were at L'Olympia Theatre in Montreal on July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in 2022. We are fortunate to have a good quality audience recording for each of those three nights. These series of shows enable audiences to hear a much wider variety of songs than normally possible in a normal tour. Here is the first night, which features a mixture of songs from throughout the band's extensive back catalog, highlighted by multiple songs from Marbles (2004), Holidays in Eden (1991), and .Anoraknophobia (2001), and individual songs from an additional 7 albums, ranging from 1985-2008. Subsequent nights would feature songs from more recent albums (and will follow shortly).  

01. Separated Out
02. The Other Half
03. You're Gone
04. Drilling Holes
05. Cannibal Surf Babe
06. This Town
07. How Can it Hurt
08. Lords of the Backstage
09. Woke Up
10. Hard as Love
11. The Damage
12. Between You and Me
13. Incommunicado
14. banter
15. Market Square Heroes
16. Cover My Eyes (Pain and Heaven)
17. The Invisible Man

Pete Trewavas – bass guitar
Ian Mosley – drums
Steve Rothery – electric guitar
Mark Kelly – keyboards
Steve Hogarth – lead vocals

Mp3 - Marillion_2022-07-01_Montreal,QC_mp3.rar

FLAC -  Marillion_2022-07-01_Montreal,QC_FLAC.rar


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Manassas (Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and Band) -1972-03-22 - Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands

(Stephen Stills, Chris Hillman and Band)
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands 
FM Broadcast Recording, Very Good Quality
Available in both Lossless (FLAC) and Mp3 (320 kbps) versions

OK, Ive been dealing mainly with recent (2022 releases) music for the past few months, but before we get full into 2023 music, let's go back again (50 years) to some older stuff. In 2022, I spent some time looking back at albums that turned 50 years old, making lists of favorites, etc. from 1972 (and what a great year for music that was). The lists of the top 25 or 30 albums from that year include some of the greatest of all-time. However, there were so many great albums from that year that some very notable releases seem to have been more neglected or nearly forgotten. This band, Stephen Stills' Manassas, a coming together of Stephen Stills and his touring band with Chris Hillman (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers) and Al Perkins (of FBB), put out a great double album (Manassas, 1972) featuring a blend of rock, blues, latin, folk, country, and bluegrass, but barely received a mention among the great albums of 1972. Even in my own list of the top 30 albums of that year, I didn't have it in there (so many great albums that couldn't all make the list), but probably should have. This was an interesting band and album, as well as an interesting time. Stephen Stills was in the final stages of touring with his band in 1971 (in support of his 2nd solo album, Stephen Stills 2, which was considered a disappointment), when he crossed paths with Chris Hillman touring with Flying Burrito Bros (but that band was in turmoil amid various departures), hit it off, started jamming together, and decided to form a new band, consisting of Stephen and his backing band (Drummer Dallas Taylor, bassist Fuzzy Samuels, keyboardist Paul Harris, and percussionist Joe Lala) with Chris Hillman and pedal steel guitarist Al Perkins from FBB. As their sessions got going, they really gelled and produced abundant material, which turned into a double album. The band is very versatile, with many influences, capable of playing in many different styles. The album reflects that, as the 4 sides of the album follow different themes, with side 1 consisting of rock and latin-influenced songs, side 2 featuring country and bluegrass tracks, side 3 being acoustic and folk-rock, and side 4 being rock and blues. The album was quite successful, reaching #4 on the albums chart, going gold, and featuring several songs getting substantial radio airplay (It Doesn't matter, Johnny's Garden, Rock and Roll Crazies, etc). They went on an extensive and highly successful tour throughout 1972, with a unique and varied song selection, and some pretty amazing shows. Presented here today, was one of their very first shows as a band, an FM broadcast recording fro their show in Amsterdam in March 1972. I've also added in a few additional songs from a show a month later in Florida. A Great show and an underappreciated band and mix of talent. The band did go back to the studio for a follow-up album (Down the Road, 1973) and subsequent tour, but by that time the magic seemed to have gone, as there was much conflict and disagreement during the making of that album (which was not nearly as good), and the band broke up soon after. Hillman left to join J.D Souther and Richie Furay in the Souther Hillman Furay Band (with previous posts here), and took Al Perkins, Paul Harris, and Joe Lala with him for that band. Stills went back to CSN&Y for a 1974 tour and expected album, but the album (and parts of the tour) fell apart before completion. But for 1972, Manassas was flying high making great music in the studio and on tour.

1. Rock And Roll Woman
2. Bound To Fall
3. Hot Burrito #2
4. It Doesn't Matter
5. Go Back Home
6. Change Partners
7. Know You Got To Run
8. 4 & 20
9. Intro to
10. Bluesman
11. Word Game
12. Do For The Others
13. Move Around
14. Both Of Us (Bound To Lose)
15. Love The One You're With
16. He Was A Friend Of Mine >
1. Fallen Eagle
2. Hide It So Deep
3. Johnny's Garden
4. Don't Look At My Shadow
5. Sugar Babe
6. Four Days Gone
7. <For What It's Worth.
8. <Song Of Love
9. Rock And Roll Crazies
10. Cuban Bluegrass
11. Jet Set [Sigh]
12. Anyway>
13. The Treasure
14. Find The Cost Of Freedom

Bonus Tracks (1972-04-22 - Dania, FL)
1. So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star
2. Crossroads > Black Queen
3. You're Still On My Mind
4. 49 Bye Byes > For What It's Worth
5. Right Now
6. Carry On

Manassas is:
Stephen Stills - vocals, guitar, bottleneck guitar, piano, organ.
Chris Hillman - vocals, guitar, mandolin
Al Perkins - steel guitar, guitar, vocals
Calvin "Fuzzy" Samuels - bass
Paul Harris - organ, tack piano, piano, organ.
Dallas Taylor - drums
Joe Lala - percussion, vocals

FLAC - Manassas_1972-03-22_Amsterdam(FM)_Flac_CD1.rar

MP3 - Manassas_1972-03-22_Amsterdam(FM)_MP3.rar


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Favorite songs of the Year - 2022 - My Top 25

Top 25 Favorite Songs of 2022 (sort of) 

Here we are in 2023 already. Happy New Year! But I'm not quite finished with 2022 yet. So, here are some of my favorite songs from 2022. Yes, this is a very eclectic list, in that none of these songs ever charted, were ever heard on the radio, or even much outside the narrow confines of progressive rock circles. Thus, these are primarily my favorite songs from my favorite albums of the year. For some albums, such as Kaprekar's Constant and The Dear Hunter's, it may be somewhat arbitrary because there were many great songs that all fit together to tell the story of the album that it is difficult to select one over another, but nonetheless, these represent my overall favorites, although there are so many that could have been included. I have only included one song from each artist, just so more different artists could be featured.
25. Dignity - Porcupine Tree
24. Tired of Taking it Out on You - Wilco
23. Alive - Galahad 
22. Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You - Big Thief 
21.The Theory of Molecular Inheritance - Arena
20. Memento Mori - JPL
19. David Longdon - The Letting Go
18. The Years Roll By - Glass Hammer
17. Mare - Dim Gray
16. Nobody - Evership
15. Another Trip Around the Sun - D'Virgilio, Morse, and Jennings
14. Miles From Nowhere - Jonas Lindberg
13. You Are The Sun - Time Dwellers
12. Coalescence - Elder
11. The Past of Future Days - Comedy of Errors
10. Marillion - Care
9. Magnificent Hurt - Elvis Costello
8. Big Big Train - Lanterna
7. Tall Tales By Firelight - Kaprekar's Constant
6. Chrysalis - Ryo Okumoto
5. Ring 8-Poverty - The Dear Hunter
4. Much Ado - Pattern-Seeking Animals
3. All of a Sudden You're Gone - Von Hertzen Brothers
2. Ghost in the Machine - Dawes
1. Only One Way Out of a Hole - Cloud Cult 
Ok, so that should wrap up  my year-end round-up.What were some of your favorite songs of the year? Next, on to 2023 and all the new exciting music that will be coming out over the next year.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

More Favorite Albums of 2022 - Best of the Rest, Surprises, Disappointments

Here are some more of my favorite albums of 2022  - those that did not make my top 25

So many quality albums in 2022, many more than the top 25 I posted recently. These are all good to very good albums, but may have some issues (inconsistent, some not very good tracks, etc), that kept them from the very top spots. Thus, I am dubbing these the 'quite good, but not quite great' albums. These are not ranked, but just listed in alphabetical order, but separated into Prog and Non-Prog categories

Quite Good, but not Quite Great

Birth - Born
Ben Craven - Monsters of the Id
The Flower Kings - By Royal Decree
Gandalf's Fist - Widdershins
Glass Hammer - At the Gate
Kaipa - Urskog
Anthony Kalugin - Rebirth
Karfagen - Land of Green and Gold
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Changes
Lobate Scarp - You Have it All
Magenta - White Witch Trilogy
Manticore - Elements
Marillion - An Hour Before Its Dark
Mars Volta - Mars Volta
Naxatras - IV
Alan Parsons - For the New World
Tiger Moth Tales - A Song for Spring
Devin Townshend - Lightwork
Yesterdays - Saint-Exupery alma
WIZRD - Seasons

Indie/Alt. Pop/Rock, etc.
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - XI Bleed Here Now
Alvvays - Blue Rev
Animal Collective - Time Skiffs
The Beths - Expert in a Dying Field
Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You
Built To Spill - When the Wind Forgets Your Name
Everything Everything - Raw Data Feel
Kiwi Jr. - Chopper
Wilco - Cruel Country
Wet Leg - Wet leg
Weyes Blood - And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Sobs - Air Guitar
Tears for Fears - The Tipping Point
For me, the biggest surprises were the discovery of the bands Kaprekar's Constant and Cloud Cult, and just how great their albums were. Also, the resurgence of Dawes, and the brilliance of the Von Hertzen Brothers and Elder's new albums. Just fantastic.

But, as fine as the year was, there were undoubtedly some disappointments along the way. These are a few albums that were most disappointing to me, in that I was expecting more from them.
Most disappointing:
The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention
Although many have praised this album from this side project from Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, I found it tedious and dull, that is when it wasn't plain annoying. A couple good tracks, but overall pretty lame and unpleasant.
A couple others that were somewhat disappointing, still decent/pretty good, but underwhelming and not what they could have been:
Jethro Tull - The Zealot Gene
Porcupine Tree - Closure/Continuation

And Lastly, although I usually try to stay positive and not dwell on negatives and the stuff I do not like (because everyone has different tastes, and although I may not like a particular artist, many others may derive much enjoyment from them), but there were a couple of albums that have been highly acclaimed and mentioned on many best of lists, that I thought were terrible and I just don't get at all. So, here is a special category.
Worst albums to be highly acclaimed and placed on many best of lists:
Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There
Black Midi - Hellfire 
To me these are almost unlistenable, yet are adored by many. Both are considered to be in the 'post-rock' realm, and if this is what post-rock is, count me out. It's odd though, because both bands are obviously very talented musicians, and musically are solid (Black Country New Road also features interesting and unusual instrumentation), but the 'songs' are mostly terrible, and the vocals are just awful throughout. Sorry, but to me, this is just pretentious art-school nonsense.
OK, so that's about it. So many great albums and songs this year, with just a few negatives. Let me know what you thought about the music of 2022.
I may still do a post on the best songs of 2022, if I have time. Looking forward to a great 2023 as well.
Anyway, Have a Happy New Year, and see you in 2023                                         

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Favorite Albums of the Year - 2022 - Top 25

Top 25 Favorite Albums of 2022

Yes! It is that time of year, that is, the end of the year, so time once again to go through some of my favorite albums for the year 2022. And it was actually a pretty great year for music. I listened to a lot more new music than usual this year, and so many new and different bands and artists that I previously had never heard of or knew anything about. So, it was a big year for discovering new stuff. I do have to say, however, that the vast majority of what I listened to this year was in the overall realm of progressive rock and the whole special niche of that community. but even within that there is a wide variety of different styles and sounds. So, if you are not into that 'scene' at all, you probably will not recognize most of my entries, but they are all really good. I listened to a lot of other stuff as well, but the Prog was what I came back to most often. But no matter what your core area of music you listen to (and there are so many sub-groups and sub-genres these days that highlight very specific interests), there was some great stuff that came out this year. There were so many high quality albums I listened to this year that I had to split them up, so here today are my top 25, but I will also have another post later with another 25-30 albums that are all well worth your time to listen to, as well as some other end of year aspects, such as disappointments, surprises and some not-so-great albums. 

Once again, this list represents my own personal favorites, what I enjoyed the most this year, and not any other ranking or quality criteria.  For #25 to #18, I will just list the albums without additional comments (as I just didn't have time to add comments, maybe I'll add some later), but for the top 17 I have a few very brief comments, with more comments for the top 10.

25. The Tangent - Songs From the Hard Shoulder
24. Evership - The Uncrowned King, Part 2
23. Galahad - The Last Great Adventurer
22. Arena - The Theory of Molecular Inheritance
21. D'Virgilio, Morse, and Jennings - Troika 
20. Comedy of Errors - Time Machine
19. Returned to Earth - The Fall of the Watcher
18. Rosalie Cunningham - Two-Piece Puzzle
17. Toehider - I Have Little to No Memory of These Memories (Fun, entertaining roller coaster ride through many genres and styles in this single 47 min. track. Buckle up, hang on, and just enjoy the ride)
16. Phoenix Again - Visions (This band handily pulls off the very difficult feat of making an all instrumental prog album that stays fresh, enticing, and interesting through the entire album)
15. David Longdon - Door One (Wonderful, dynamic album, full of great songs and great production along with the great vocals from David. Sometimes rockin', sometimes proggy, sometimes introspective, always melodic. A major achievement, but bittersweet, as this is also the last album we will get from David, RIP.)
14. Dim Gray - Firmament (Wonderful melodic, atmospheric soundscapes)
13. Elvis Costello - A Boy Named If (Best from Elvis in many years, great songs from this master)
12. Time Dwellers - Novum Aurora (Great prog rock, blend of '70's rock with prog elements - Sometimes sounds like cross between Wishbone Ash and Mike Oldfield)
11. JPL - Sapiens Chap 3/3 Actum (Great jazzy prog, concluding chapter to epic 3 album series)

10. Elder - Innate Passage
A very recent addition, as I only heard this for the first time about a week ago, but it is sensational! Also one of the biggest surprises for me, as I totally did not expect this album. Although I had not heard any of this band's previous albums, I was aware of their overall reputation (at least for their early albums), as playing 'stoner metal', a mixture of psychedelic and metal, and quite heavy, which is not my thing at all (pretty much anything that has 'metal' in its description is just not for me. But this was not that at all. This album is a fantastic progressive rock album, hard-rockin' at times, but also very intricate and even delicate, with lush soundscapes and immersive atmosphere. And yes, quite melodic as well. Just a stunning album of great extended tracks that rocks, rolls, comforts, and delights, with intriguing and enigmatic riffs and moods. A brilliant album that I'm sure will rise even higher as I listen to it more (as I've only had time to hear it 2-3 times so far). Best Tracks: Catastasis,  Coalescence, The Purpose, Merged in Dreams-Ne Plus Ultra. 

9. Ryo Okumoto - Myth of the Mostrophus

Reviewed previously here. This album from the long-time keyboard player for Spock's Beard, with the help of many of his present and former Spock's Beard bandmates (including Nick d'Virgilio, Dave Meros, Ted Leonard, Alan Morse, etc.) and other special guest artists, is more than just a great Spock's Beard-related album. Although ostensibly a solo album, it has much more of a fully fleshed out band feel throughout, as the sound is not dominated by Ryo's keyboards as one might expect, but with active and key contributions from all musicians involved, with prominent and soaring guitar solos, stunning arrangements, and excellent vocals and harmonies. Everything here is just top-notch and exquisitely done throughout, with great songwriting, vocals, musicianship and execution. Overall, a very fun and entertaining album of classic symphonic prog rock gems, highlighted by the epic-length 'Myth of the Mostrophus', a fun Monster story.  Best Tracks: Myth of the Mostrophus, Mirror Mirror, Chrysalis. 

8. Von Hertzen Brothers - Red Alert in the Blue Forest
Another very recent, and surprising addition, as this gets better and better with repeated listens. This is the 8th album from Finland's Von Hertzen Brothers, three brothers (Mikko, Kie, and Jonne) that play guitars and bass and all sing (beautifully), joined by keyboardist Robert Engstrand and drummer Sami Kuoppamäki. Although I was not familiar with their previous albums, I was mightily impressed with this one.  They have put together a fantastic album of dynamic and  and accessible progressive rock, expertly mixing in gentle acoustic and vocal harmony tracks and sections with powerful rockin' sections, all while maintaining a strong melodic sensibility throughout. Wonderful melodies, vocals, folk and pop elements, lyrical content, and musical and instrumental artistry. A stunning album, eclectic and daring in its scope and ambition, featuring a range of moods and styles, yet rooted in melody and atmosphere. Best tracks: All of a Sudden You're Gone, Peace Patrol, Day of Reckoning, Anil, Northen Lights, Dissappear There.


7. Big Big Train - Welcome to the Planet
Reviewed previously here. Big Big Train’s follow-up to their stellar 2021 album, Common Ground, continues their run of wonderful albums, with another collection of great songs. Although it can’t quite match the heights of the previous album (which was my pick for best album of 2021), it is still a great album. The band continues growing and developing during a period of transition and changeover in personnel, exploring and moving in some new directions, and getting contributions from various band members. Both of the songs written by drummer Nick D’Virgilio (‘Connection Plan’ and the dynamic instrumental ‘Bats in the Belfry’) are excellent and quite different from previous Big Big Train songs (including an extended drum solo). The first half of the album shines the brightest, with ‘Connection Plan’, the grand and sumptuous ‘Lanterna’, the sparse and beautiful ballad ‘Capitoline Venus’ (featuring perhaps the best vocal performance from David Longdon), and the atmospheric instrumental ‘A Room with No Ceiling’. A great album overall. However, it is also bittersweet hearing the wonderful vocals of David Longdon on this album. Great that we get these new songs from him, after his tragic death late last year, but sad that we will not hear his voice or his other contributions on future Big Big Train albums.

6. Jonas Lindberg and The Other Side - Miles From Nowhere
Reviewed previously here. This is the 2nd album from this Swedish prog rock band. They have a delightful mix of catchy pop melodies and vocal harmonies interspersed with extended progressive passages and intriguing instrumental sections. Jonas plays many of the instruments himself, from bass, guitar, keyboards, and vocals, but with able assistance from the rest of the band, especially the impeccable lead and backing vocals shared by Jonas Sundqvist and Jenny Storm. The expansive album provides over 75 minutes of music, with several extended length tracks, capped off with the epic multi-part album-closing title track (over 25 min. long). The more I listened to this, the more I liked it, and although the major influences are clear and present throughout, emulating the style and structure of music provided by Neal Morse and his various bands (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, Neal Morse Band) and The Flower Kings, among others, the music is so good, it transcends such comparisons. Best Tracks: 'Miles From Nowhere', 'Summer Queen', 'Astral Journey', 'Why I’m Here'.

5. Pattern-Seeking Animals - Only Passing Through
Previously reviewed here. This offshoot from Spock's Beard , with their third album, has produced a remarkable album of great, accessible progressive rock. They incorporate a lot of pop and power pop sensibilities in establishing great hooks, melodies, and vocals, but also mix in good bits of jazz, folk, classical, and film score prowess, but also never abandon their eclectic Prog approach (with plenty of odd-time curves and proggy instrumental breakouts). Great stuff throughout, with very imaginative and inventive songs and arrangements. They put in whatever extra instrumentation and arrangement flourishes that will enhance each song (horns, mandolin, sitar, bassoon, violin, cello, specialty percussion). From the very opening notes of ‘Everdark Mountain’, I was hooked, with its unique dark woodland prog sound, and it just takes off from there.  Best Tracks: 'Time Has a Way', 'Everdark Mountain', 'Much Ado', 'I Can’t Stay Here Anymore'. 

4. Dawes - Misadventures of Doomscroller
Previously reviewed here. With this newest album, their previous folk-country roots are barely evident, as the band stretches out with longer songs,  a free-er looser style, with more jazz influences as well as some somewhat progressive rock-influenced instrumental breaks. The result is, at least for me, their best album to date, a wonderful musical journey through the ups and downs of contemporary life. The core of the band has always been Taylor Goldsmith's songwriting and vocals, and he shines throughout once again, but with the rest of the band also taking more of the spotlight as well with great musicianship and song arrangements. And the instrumental extensions are more than just solos, as they represent dynamic explorations of new styles and themes, and move in different and interesting (even proggy?) directions. The album is a delight from beginning to end, offering great melodies and engaging arrangements, and encouraging many repeat listens. Best tracks: Ghost in the Machine, It Comes in Waves, Everything is Permanent.  

3. The Dear Hunter - Antimai
Reviewed previously here. Great album from The Dear Hunter, a fun ride through this ringed society. It is predominantly lively, upbeat, and quite accessible. They incorporate much soul, R&B, latin, pop, jazz, and rock into the mix, with liberal use of funky horns and tuned percussion, yet the result is still undeniably prog rock. This is a concept album that chronicles a world where society is set-up in concentric rings, with the outer rings occupied by the poor and industrial sectors moving inward to the more luxurious and powerful inner rings. The album consists of 8 tracks, each corresponding to one of the rings and highlighting features of that sector. But you don't need to know or care about the concept or story to enjoy the album, as it is quite wonderful from start to finish. The album flows well and all the tracks are very well done, featuring a variety of vibrant styles, dynamics, and instrumentation, in addition to very fine vocals. Best tracks: Ring 8 - Poverty, Ring 5 - Middle Class, Ring 4 - Patrol, Ring 3 - Luxury. 

2. Cloud Cult  - Metamorphosis 
A surprising recent addition. I would call this music something like Symphonic Folk, and it is wonderful. Cloud Cult is a band from St.Cloud MN, has been around since 1995, but I had never heard of them until about a month ago. I heard one song ('One Way Out of a Hole)' from this album and was hooked. It totally grabbed me and I became obsessed with this song (It is my song of he Year). Then I listened to the rest of the album and the whole album is great as well. They have a basic folky, stripped down sound and vibe, but then they develop their songs with interesting arrangements featuring strings, dramatic builds, and emotional intensity, as well as inspiring lyrics and vocals. Would've been the find of the year for me, except for #1

1. Kaprekar's Constant - The Murder Wall
Previously reviewed here. This was my favorite album earlier in the year, and quite surprisingly, this masterpiece retained its status right through to the end. The music has been described as ‘symphonic melodic progressive rock’ that features beautiful melodies, grand themes, lush arrangements, and great vocals, in addition to a passion for history and storytelling. This is a concept album with all the songs dealing with stories about various attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) by mountaineers to scale the North Face of The Eiger Mountain, known as the Murder Wall, due to all those that have lost their lives on it. Although this may sound like a very dark theme, the music is anything but dreary, filled with beauty from simple melodies to majestic anthems. There just wasn't anything else that could quite match the beauty, majesty, elegance, and sheer wondrousness of this album for me. The melodies, the vocals, the arrangements, the stories, the production, just wonderful. I kept going back to it, expecting it to lose some of its luster with repeated listenings, but each time it reinforced just how magnificent it was. And this was surprising, because its not really rock, it's not very proggy, its just great from start to finish, and despite all odds, this remains my favorite album of the year. Just thoroughly captivating.

Coming next: More really good albums from 2022, and other end of year stuff.