July 30th, 2021 sees the release of ‘Common Ground’, the self-produced new album from Big Big Train on their own label, English Electric Recordings. The new album, recorded during the worldwide pandemic, sees the band continue their tradition of dramatic narratives but also tackles issues much closer to home, such as the Covid lockdowns, the separation of loved ones, the passage of time, deaths of people close to the band and the hope that springs from a new love.
Watch the new video for the title track, created by Christian Rios, here:
“This is unashamedly a love song. It is about finding things that we share and have in common with other people. When my partner and I first came together as a couple, we lived not far from Avebury in Wiltshire, a very Big Big Train kind of place. The chalk hills and standing stones were part of the imagery of our ‘Folklore’ album, and once again I was writing what was literally happening in the location in which we found ourselves. I remember seeing my white chalk dust footprints upon the black of the car mats after we’d been walking around Avebury. I’m pleased that we both get to have this time with each other and ‘Common Ground’ is about finding out the things that we have in common with each other and deciding what we want to do in life together.” – David Longdon
Tracklisting:1. The Strangest Times 2. All The Love We Can Give 3. Black With Ink 4. Dandelion Clock 5. Headwaters 6. Apollo 7. Common Ground 8. Atlantic Cable 9. Endnotes
‘Common Ground’ sees the band taking in wider musical and lyrical inspiration from artists such as Elbow, Pete Townshend, Tears For Fears, Elton John and XTC, as well as acknowledging their more progressive roots. As ever, Big Big Train will take listeners on a journey, be it waiting for the UK 5pm pandemic press conferences (’The Strangest Times’) to the library of Alexandria (‘Black With Ink’) to the bottom of the ocean (‘Atlantic Cable’).
For the ‘Common Ground’ tour, which will be their most extensive to date and which will culminate in the UK with a show at the prestigious London Palladium, Greg Spawton (bass), David Longdon (lead vocals, flute), Nick D’Virgilio (drums, vocals) and Rikard Sjöblom (guitars, keyboards, vocals) will be joined by Carly Bryant (keyboards, guitars, vocals), who contributes vocals to ‘Common Ground’, Dave Foster (guitars), who plays on two tracks on the new album, Clare Lindley (violin, vocals) and by a five piece brass ensemble. The band expect to announce North American tour dates shortly.
Big Big Train has taken lyrical and musical inspiration from periods of history that are recognised as great leaps forward. Now with ‘Common Ground’, they are making such a surge themselves.
BIG BIG TRAIN UK TOUR 2022 TUE, MARCH 15TH – YORK, BARBICAN WED, MARCH 16TH – CAMBRIDGE, CORN EXCHANGE FRI, MARCH 18TH – BIRMINGHAM, SYMPHONY HALL SAT, MARCH 19TH – BATH, FORUM MON, MARCH 21ST – GLASGOW, ROYAL CONCERT HALL TUE, MARCH 22ND – MANCHESTER, BRIDGEWATER HALL WED, MARCH 23RD – LONDON, PALLADIUM
Big Big Train was initially founded in 1990 and went through several line-up changes, but in 2009 the band decided on a fresh start, and the core of the current version of the band was born.
Since then, they have gone on to win four Progressive Music Awards, played sold out shows and seen their last album, 2019’s ‘Grand Tour’, reach #1 in the Official UK rock charts and break into the top 40 in the Official UK album charts.
The band toured the UK for the first time in 2019, culminating in a sold out show at London’s Hackney Empire, subsequently released as the critically acclaimed Blu-ray ‘Empire’, and 2022 will see the band performing their largest UK tour to date along with their first ever dates in North America.
While many of Big Big Train’s songs have been rooted in the history of Great Britain and Europe, it seems fitting that they are now indeed an international band. Bassist Greg Spawton, who founded the band, grew up in a railway household and named them after a 1970s train set he owned, is based in the UK, as is singer David Longdon, who joined the band in 2009 for the breakthrough album ‘The Underfall Yard’. The other two core band members, drummer Nick D’Virgilio and multi-instrumentalist Rikard Sjöblom, reside in Indiana, USA and Gåvle, Sweden, respectively
Join Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius on YouTube Saturday, February 27th at 3 PM EST for a chance to win free music downloads. There can only be 20, will you be one of them?
The new video features claymation with live footage from each band member from their own studio. “Cognitive Dissonance” is a collaboration with Patrick Carmichael, who has subbed on drums for the band through the years.
“Cognitive Dissonance”’s first verse deals with the confusion we go through, when elders and leaders influence us to change our minds with their negative feelings on those we care about. “We are all born innocent, free of prejudice and hatred, but our elders make us carry a heavy burden, which can last our whole lives. Hatred is taught, we are not born with it,” explains Joe. “We all see children that are terrified by friends that are their same ages, because their parents have taught them negative things about other religions, ethnicities, genders, skin colors, political ideologies….” He says prejudicial teachings “can create “cognitive dissonance” in anyone’s mind when they’re told their friends are ‘evil’ because they have different roots.”
The second verse deals with political and ideological intolerance. “There’s rising extremism, and it’s been this way for decades. People are prisoners of fake news, social media echo chamber bubbles, and politicians who reinforce conspiracy theories and retweet them to their followers. The line ‘No one can touch us now’ refers to people hiding behind their screens, spewing the deep-rooted hatred without fear of physical retaliation. Even though I wrote the song a year ago, I think it eerily speaks to recent events.”
“It’s easy to write about our high ideals and our wishes for world peace, but when you have a gun pointed to your head or your business is burning down, it’s a rude awakening about how nasty the world really is. The big collective guitar/electric violin solo at the end represents two sides screaming at each other, full of hatred, fading out screaming, never reaching an understanding or resolving anything.”
Multi-instrumentalist Randy McStine, who has subbed in Stratospheerius on guitar, bass, and drums, has played on a few of the band’s songs: “Soul Food” and “Impostor.” His voice blends with Joe’s, that “we thought it’d be cool to have him sing lead on the second version of ‘Cognitive Dissonance.’”
Joe has been called The Jimi Hendrix of the electric violin. Stratospheerius has showcased their “frenzied mélange of progressive rock, jazz fusion and funkabilly” throughout the world. Stratospheerius was a winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition the Musicians Atlas Independent Music Awards. They have been featured in Progression, Relix, Downbeat, and Jazziz, among other publications. Their last album on Melodic Revolution Records, “Guilty of Innocence,” has been widely acclaimed by critics and fans. Joe has played violin in orchestras for Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Sheryl Crow, 50 Cent, and Renaissance.
Stratospheerius is: Joe Deninzon – lead vocals/electric violin Jason Gianni – drums Michelangelo Quirinale – guitar Paul Ranieri – bass
As reported on February 21, 2021. Transport Aerian will release his new song and video Falling 20 today on YouTube at 11:00 AM EST. The first 20 commenters on the video will receive a digital copy of the new single absolutely for free!
Additionally, the new single Falling 20 will also be released today after the video premiere, exclusively on Bandcamp, and worldwide digital distribution will follow in March of 2021. Falling 20 is from an upcoming Transport Aerian album, a concept album, and a story-driven piece, under the title Skywound.
Transport Aerian is: Hamlet: vocals, bass. Stefan Boeykens: guitars Umut Eldem: keyboards Paul De Smet: drums, violin.
Music and lyrics by Hamlet Arrangement by Transport Aerian
Tracked and mixed by Hamlet in Leuven.
Music video credits: filmed and produced by FD Films (aerial/land filming, post-production) http://fd-films.co/ https://www.facebook.com/fdfilmsproduction
Legendary Dutch progressive rockers Kayak recently announced they will return with their 18th studio album ‘Out Of This World’ on May 7th, 2021. Now they are pleased to reveal the first single taken from that album, and you can watch the video for ‘Mystery’ here:
Founding member Ton Scherpenzeel comments: “This song is about the, in my view, unfathomable mystery and wonder that is the world around us. No matter what stunning progress science makes, and whatever religion wants us to believe, the essence will always be that: a mystery. Which doesn’t mean we have to stop trying to figure it all out.”
The album is now also available for pre-order, arriving as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 2LP + CD, and as Digital Album. An exclusive blood red vinyl edition is available directly from the band. Pre-order now here: https://kayak.lnk.to/OutOfThisWorld
The full track-listing is as follows: 1.Out Of This World 2.Waiting 3.Under A Scar 4.Kaja 5.Mystery 6.Critical Mass 7.As The Crow Flies 8.The Way She Said Goodbye 9.Traitor’s Gate 10.Distance To Your Heart 11.Red Rag To A Bull 12.One By One 13.A Writer’s Tale 14.Cary 15.Ship Of Theseus
‘Out Of This World’, the band’s eighteenth studio album, with 15 new tracks, spanning 70 minutes of energetic and incredibly diverse material- though still very much recognizable as Kayak. It is clear that the new found energy has gained even more momentum since Hans Eijkenaar rejoined the group. Although they were forced to cancel all tours because Ton Scherpenzeel suffered a heart attack at the end of 2019, and immediately after that because of the Covid pandemic, we’re hearing a band that, since the demise of Pim Koopman in 2009, has not sounded more together, balanced and motivated. The current line-up of the band is as follows:
Ton Scherpenzeel – Keyboards, lead and backing vocals Bart Schwertmann – Lead and backing vocals Marcel Singor – Guitar, lead and backing vocals Kristoffer Gildenlöw – Bass, lead and backing vocals Hans Eijkenaar- Drums
Kayak History: KAYAK was formed in Hilversum, The Netherlands, back in 1972, by keyboard player Ton Scherpenzeel and drummer Pim Koopman who struck up a friendship in their early teens after meeting at a local volley ball club. They were committed to writing original material. With loads of melodic, symphonic songs in their pocket they recruited fellow music conservatory student Max Werner (lead vocals) and Johan Slager (guitar). After bass player Cees van Leeuwen joined, the first lineup of KAYAK was complete with the new band being signed by EMI Records being launched as a new supergroup. Their debut album ‘See See The Sun’(1973) featured a minor hit single , ‘Lyrics’, with ‘Mammoth’ and the title track also reaching the top 40. The album sold well in Holland, earning the band significant critical acclaim and developing a growing army of passionate followers.
After a series of successful albums and several hit singles in their homeland KAYAK was on the verge of an international breakthrough in 1977 when the single ‘Want you to be Mine’, from ‘Starlight Dancer’ achieved chart success in the U.S, peaking at #55 in the Billboard Charts. KAYAK was even voted Most Promising Band of the Year by the influential American music magazine Record World. Due to the fact that charismatic lead singer Max Werner wanted to fill the vacant position of drummer meaning the band was suddenly without a lead singer, making it impossible to embark on an American tour. KAYAK focused on finding a vocalist instead. The search began with advertisements placed in British magazine ‘Melody Maker’, spotted by Edward Reekers, a huge fan of the band since the early days. Passing the audition with flying colors he became the new frontman for KAYAK and with the addition of two female singers the band returned to the recording studio to create their 6th album, the award winning ‘Phantom of the Night, which turned out to be their commercial peak. The blend of progressive rock and immaculate pop brought them phenomenal success. The album went to number one on the charts, reaching platinum status and ‘Ruthless Queen,’ became their highest charting single, (#4 in the Dutch charts).
The next album, ‘Periscope Life’ (1980), was similar in style and recorded in Los Angeles. It consolidated KAYAK’s position as one of Holland’s most popular bands. With their next effort, ‘Merlin’ (1981), KAYAK returned to its original progressive and symphonic rock roots, with a suite about the legendary medieval magician on side A. Many music fans considered this a milestone in the bands career. Personal and musical struggles within the band however led to a break up in 1982. The first era of KAYAK ended after the release of the semi live album ‘Eyewitness’.
The next chapter in KAYAK’s career began in 2006 with ‘Kayakoustic’, presenting the now seven-piece band in an intimate setting.In the new millennium KAYAK was resurrected after an 18 year pause and came back with the strong symphonic crossover album ‘Close to the Fire’ (2000) with again Pim Koopman on drums and Max Werner on vocals. Unfortunately, due to ill health Max was soon forced to leave, with ex- Vandenberg singer Bert Heerink, who already joined the band on stage, taking over. With Heerink three studio albums were recorded, including the rock opera’s ‘Merlin – Bard of the Unseen’ and ‘Nostradamus – The Fate of Man’, their most ambitious efforts yet. The rock opera’s, dominated by longer, prog-based compositions, also showed KAYAK’s theatrical side with an extended cast of singers and dancers contributing to an impressive first rate live experience. It also marked the return of Edward Reekers and introduced Cindy Oudshoorn as first female lead singer.
2008 was an important year celebrating their 35th anniversary and embarking on a large tour taking the group to the theaters and clubs. ‘The Anniversary Box’, a DVD containing the Paradiso concert as well as a collection of fan chosen tracks is released.
The tragic, unexpected death of drummer and composer Pim Koopman one year later in the middle of the ‘Letters From Utopia’ tour almost led to KAYAK’s downfall, but two years later the group re- emerged with Hans Eijkenaar on drums and the album ‘Anywhere But Here’, dedicated to Koopman. After a period of two years preparing and recording the new rock opera ‘Cleopatra- The Crown of Isis’ was released in 2014. Shortly before the tour, lead singers Reekers and Oudshoorn unexpectedly and inconveniently announced their departure, leaving the band in disarray. But as they say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and like the proverbial cat with nine lives – in 2018 KAYAK came back with a vengeance and ‘Seventeen’.
In October 2020, progressive rockers THE FLOWER KINGS released their new double album “Islands” on InsideOutMusic, just a year after the group’s much celebrated “Waiting For Miracles”. Today the band have launched a brand new video for the track ‘All I Need Is Love’, and you can watch it now here:
The band comments: “Hasse Fröberg – this is his contribution, ‘All I Need is Love’ – to the latest album Islands. The only member, besides Stolt, from the original first line up of The Flower Kings that started in 1994. Still with the band many moons later – vocalist, guitar-player,rock star. This video was recorded around Christmas time – some of it outdoors! A traditional multi-part prog-rock song penned by Fröberg – that has all the elements that put the Swedish ‘kings’ on the progressive map worldwide.”
With an epic length of 92 minutes, “Islands” offers all trademark sounds and melodies, the band is renowned for including vintage keys, brilliant guitar solos, odd drum patterns and symphonic elements. Rounded off by artwork courtesy of the legendary Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gentle Giant, Greenslade, Uriah Heep), THE FLOWER KINGS present a dynamic and complex record that is bold, bombastic and beautiful.
Disc One (49:40) 1 – Racing With Blinders On 4:24 2 – From The Ground 4.02 3 – Black Swan 5:53 4 – Morning News 4:01 5 – Broken 6:38 6 – Goodbye Outrage 2:19 7 – Journeyman 1:43 8 – Tangerine 3:51 9 – Solaris 9:10 10 – Heart Of The Valley 4:18 11- Man In A Two Peace Suit 3:21
Disc Two (43:01) 1 – All I Need Is Love 5:48 2 – A New Species 5:45 3 – Northern Lights 5:43 4 – Hidden Angles 0:50 5 – Serpentine 3:52 6 – Looking For Answers 4:30 7 –Telescope 4:41 8 – Fool’s Gold 3:11 9 – Between Hope & Fear 4:29 10 – Islands 4:12
Downes Braide Association (DBA) have announced the release of “Your Heart Will Find The Way” – the second track to be taken from their forthcoming album Halcyon Hymns. Watch the video here:
Chris Braide says: “Your Heart Will Find The Way has an almost YES like quality of all the songs from Halcyon Hymns I feel, in that it’s very up and direct. It’s also a great example of how Geoff and I will sometimes write. Geoff sent me the verse chord progression and the riff and then I added the chorus chord progression and the melody just fell out on top of those two elements. The brooding verse and majestic riff coupled with the uplift of the chorus dictated the lyric which is about listening to your inner voice and trusting your gut instinct to navigate you out of adversity…It’s a positive self-affirmation of a song.”
A few words from Geoff: “It was such a joy to hear the basic idea I sent Chris for ‘Your Heart Will Find A Way’ turn into something of a mini-epic. The masterful development of the rhythm section of Ash & Andy really enhances the track and brings it to life. It has become something of a feature of mine and Chris’s songwriting where the verse (in the minor key) sets the mood of the piece only to climax into an upbeat chorus (in the major). Here is a good example I believe of how we mix pathos with positivity – but ultimately delivering the overall message as one of hope and promise. It could be about a relationship, or indeed about having a belief and confidence in yourself that will eventually succeed. It’s for the listener to relate to and hopefully feel the strength of the message contained within.”
Halcyon Hymns is the fifth DBA collaboration and follows their previous critically-acclaimed studio albums Pictures of You (2012), Suburban Ghosts (2015) and Skyscraper Souls (2017). The duo also released Live In England (2019) recorded at their first ever concert at Trading Boundaries, East Sussex, in 2018.
Downes Braide Association was formed as a studio-based project by Geoff Downes and Chris Braide and has now produced three studio albums: Pictures Of You (2012), Suburban Ghosts (2015) and Skyscraper Souls (2017) and a live album Live In England (2019). The project draws on Downes’ and Braide’s rich musical heritage to create a delightfully accessible brand of classic rock.
Keyboard wizard Geoff Downes was thrust into the limelight with the worldwide success of “Video Killed The Radio Star” in 1979. The single topped the charts chart in 16 countries for The Buggles duo of Geoff and Trevor Horn (vocals, bass guitar). They briefly joined prog legends YES before Downes became a founder member of the supergroup Asia with YES guitarist Steve Howe, ELP drummer Carl Palmer and the late John Wetton (vocals, bass guitar). The Wetton-Downes composition “Heat Of The Moment” became a world-wide hit in 1982 heralding many years of success for Asia with their FM radio-friendly brand of rock. Downes later rejoined YES in 2011 and remains with the band alongside Steve Howe.
British singer-songwriter-pianist Chris Braide has recently returned to UK shores after many years based in California. He enjoys enormous success writing and producing music for film scores, advertising campaigns and working closely with artists including Sia, Lana Del Rey, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Paloma Faith, Britney Spears and Marc Almond.
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