I am back as years before, struggling to know if I missed any albums on this list, and the answer would be a resounding yes. Every year see thousands of releases just in the prog genre alone. It’s virtually impossible to discover and hear every prog release in any given year, so I did my best to showcase the cream of the crop, but then again I must point out these are one man’s points of view and will vary from publication and reviewer abroad. My taste in music is vast so I hope you all feel I have done justice by showcasing these 21 releases. The Un-qualified Critic
1)The Blue Door First full-length release by Candian Progressive jazz folk-rock act, A Gardening Club Project CD & Digital Melodic Revolution Records http://gardeningclubmusicandart.ca
2) The Uncrowned King (Act 1) The third release by US art-rock band, Evership CD & Digital Self-released https://www.evership.com
3) We Are The Truth Sixth studio album by Swedish progressive rock band, Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion CD, LP & Digital Glassville Records https://www.hfmcband.com
4) Imperial Fifth album by progressive metal supergroup, Soen CD, LP & Digital Silver Lining Music https://soenmusic.com
11) The Absolute Universe Forevermore Fifth studio album by multinational progressive rock supergroup, Transatlantic CD, LP & Digital InsideOut (Europe) Metal Blade/Radiant (US) https://www.transatlanticweb.com
13) Presence Of Life Seventh album by Norwegian progressive folk group, Kerrs Pink CD, LP & Digital Self-released https://kerrspink.com
14) Forsaken Innocence Eight studio by UK-based Progressive Rock band, Drifting Sun CD, LP & Digital Self-released https://driftingsun.co.uk
15) Snakes & Angels The second release by US progessive metal artist, GorMusik Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital https://gormusik.com
18) Playing House 2nd release by progressive art-rock band, Meer Karisma Records CD, LP & Digital http://meerband.com
19) The Forgotten Earth Debut solo release by Scarlet Hollow prog band bassist, Jeffrey Erik Mack Melodic Revolution Records CD & Digital https://www.jeffreyerikmack.com
16) Copeland King Cosmo & Blew, Gizmodrome Live First, live album and second release by progressive rock supergroup Gizmodrome formed in Italy Ear Music CD, LP & Digital https://www.facebook.com/Gizmodrome
17) A View From The Top Of The World Fifteenth studio release by US prog metal pioneers, Dream Theater Inside Out Music CD, LP & Digital https://dreamtheater.net
20) One to Zero Eleventh studio album German progressive rock band, Sylvan Gentle Art Of Music CD, LP & Digital http://www.sylvan.de/home/
21) Aphelion Eighth studio album by Norwegian progressive/avant-garde metal band, Leprous Inside Out Music CD, LP & Digital https://www.leprous.net
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
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