20 Essential Albums of 2018 by Kev Rowland

No. 1
Yagull – Yuna
December 2, 2018

No. 2
Galahad – Seas of Change

January 22, 2018

No. 3
Michael – Alan Taylor Avalonia (The Sonnets of Guinevere)

Melodic Revolution Records
June 29, 2018

Bomber Goggles – Gyreland
Melodic Revolution Records
March 21, 2018

No. 5.
Tiger Moth Tales – Story Tellers Part Two
Self-releasedTalking Elephant
October 18, 2018

No. 6
Ashley Hutchings – Paradise And Thorns
Talking Elephant
November 9, 2018

No. 7
Soft Machine – Hidden Details
September 14, 2018

No. 8
3.2 – The Rules Have Changed
Frontiers Music SRL
August 10, 2018

No. 9 
Dream Aria – The Other Side
February 24, 2018

No. 10
Dave Bainbridge & Sally Minnear – Live in the Studio
September 16th. 2018

No. 11
Xavi Reija – The Sound Of The Earth
MoonJune Records
January 18, 2019

No. 12
Mystery – Lies
and Butterflies
Unicorn Digital 
Released July 14, 2018

No. 13
Damanek – In Flight

Giant Electric Pea
October 12, 2018

Dwiki Dharmawan – Rumah Batu
MoonJune Records
May 15, 2018

No. 15
Dialeto – Live with David Cross
Chromatic Music
June 4, 2018

No. 16
Mayan – Dhyana
September 21, 2018
Nuclear Blast

No. 17
Carpe Noctem – Vitrun
Aural Music
October 5, 2018

Ovrfwrd – Blurring the Lines (a democracy manifest ) ( 2018)
September 29, 2018

No. 19
The C Sides Project – 10 Days
October 26, 2018

No. 20
Ten Jinn – Ziggy Blackstar (A Tribute To David
Melodic Revolution Records
October 5, 2018




Although I have previously heard some albums in which Steve has been involved, most notably the awesome Bomber Goggles and their incredible album ‘Gyreland’ (if you haven’t already bought this then you need to), this is the first time I have come across one of his solo albums. Steve provides guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and vocals, and is joined by Böhn (acoustic and electric guitars and backing vocals) and Bingo Brown (drums, percussion, and backing vocals). ‘Stargazer’ is a concept album, and is the nickname given to the hero of our story born into a dystopian future in which man’s neglect has made Earth no longer habitable. This is a similar theme to ‘Gyreland’ and the impact of humanity’s impact on the earth, and at this point, it is not possible to save the planet so people have to leave.

Steve has a knack of bringing together multiple musical themes and styles and bringing them together in a fashion that is best thought of as crossover progressive rock, with large elements of power pop styles. The songs are all short, with only a couple daring to break the five-minute barrier and are incredibly infectious. In fact, one can imagine quite a number of these being played on the radio to great effect. Take “Phoenix Rising” for example, here we have find Steve channeling Weezer while with “In The Darkness” it is much more like Nik Kershaw! The music is fluid, sonorous, and always with stacks of melody and hooks.

It is an incredibly accessible album, one that I knew I was going to enjoy from the very first note, as the title cut opens proceedings with layered harmony vocals. This is a poppy funky rocking number that shows inspiration from Utopia, and I defy anyone not to sing along with the chorus when it returns. Straight away I was smiling, grooving in my chair, knowing that this was yet another to add to my list of albums of the year – and given that ‘Gyreland’ is also in the Top Ten, Steve’s not doing badly. He has a real knack of producing catchy songs, giving them enough depth so that they have a real presence, but also showing restraint. There is the impression that ‘Stargazer’ could have been a lot heavier, it wouldn’t have taken much in the mix but it works great as it is. There are also little touches, like the bass slide up and down the frets in the chorus, which definitely add to the overall piece, and from that we go into the far more jagged “The Celestial Show” which has a very different attack both in terms of arrangement and vocals, yet is also another great number. This is quite some album, highly recommended.
10/10 Kev Rowland

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By Kev Rowland

Peter Matuchniak has been around the progressive scene for nearly forty years now, firstly with Janysium, and then with Mach One when he and Simon Strevens were both asked to join. They became a  popular band in the Eighties, with various releases and performances at The Marquee etc. Fast forward quite a few years and I came to know Peter, who was by now living in the States, both for his solo works and with Gekko Projekt. So when I heard that he had a new band I asked how they had come together, and where on earth the name came from: “After completing the second Gekko Projekt album, the keyboard player Vance and I were discussing plans for a new album.  At the time I had just played my second live solo show and was discussing an album with my bassist, Steve Bonino.  Of all the musicians I have met over my time, these are by far two of the very strongest composers and great to work with for ideas creatively. So I had the idea of doing a new project with just the three of us.  Vance came up with the concept of Gyreland which Steve and I added our parts to and we would work in a studio on both story and songs together.  We worked extremely fast and had the whole album written within a few months last year.  Then we pulled in Jimmy Keegan on drums, and he nailed the whole album in one day — extraordinary! I had a temporary band name made up of the first two letters of our last name: Bo, Ma, Gl, and pronounced it phonetically as “Bomaggle”.  It was never intended to be our real band name until I accidentally referred to us as “Bomber Goggles”.  We all laughed, but the name stuck and everyone we knew told us to keep the name!”

But what about the album itself, it is a concept, but what is the story? “The album ‘Gyreland’ tells the story about a new continent that is constructed out of the plastic debris that is floating in our oceans. As the currents swirl, they bring the plastic closer together, something we are witnessing in our oceans today. The oceanic swirl is called the Gyre, and so in our story the new inhabitant’s name this new floating continent “Gyreland”. As more people are drawn to this new place, they experience a strange phenomenon, where they can almost anticipate each other’s thoughts and it allows them to build Gyreland at an unprecedented pace.  Some people think that the gyre provides strange forces or power, whereas others believe it enhances our empathy or telepathy. Or perhaps it’s the earth’s way of rewarding those that choose to take care of her?  We never truly find out the exact reason, but it attracts the interest of countries around the Pacific Rim who now want a piece of this power. Three powerful countries form an alliance to invade Gyreland.  At home, their citizens protest, but the “Triangle of Power” proceeds with their invasion plans, as well as plans to break the alliance once they get what they want out of this new source of power. The new people of Gyreland have no armies or weapons, and so they wait uneasily for the invasion to occur.  Some hope that the oceans that gave them this second chance will provide them with an answer. An answer in the wistful waves. But on the day of the invasion, something strange happens.  As the invading soldiers set foot on Gyreland, they are overwhelmed by a sense of empathy that prevents them from wanting to fight.  Perhaps this empathy is the same force that allowed Gyreland to be built in the first place?  Whatever the reason, it makes it impossible for any hostile takeover to occur, because the new invaders simply abandon their army and join the people of Gyreland. A new turning point in the history of mankind.”

Given that the topic of plastic in the oceans is incredibly topical at present, in many ways it could be argued that this is the most relevant progressive album out there. I have been watching programmes on the Great Pacific garbage patch, which is a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean discovered between 1985 and 1988. Estimates of its size vary between being equivalent to Texas or equivalent to Russia, but at the very least it is huge. And now we have a progressive rock band singing a story about a mythical continent that is built out of the plastic debris – seems more relevant than “Tales of Topographic Oceans” to me.

I can honestly say that I have been playing this album a great deal, as it was sent to me digitally but wanted to wait for the physical CD to arrive so kept playing this on rotation until that happened. But, events conspired against me and Peter and after more than a month it still hasn’t got here and I just can’t wait to write about it any longer! It took me ages to work out what musically the band was reminding me of, as in many ways it is so far removed from the normal regressive progressive rock I am sent, and then finally it hit me. Utopia! There is something about their melodic crossover poppy progressive rock with harmony vocals that I can imagine Todd and the boys coming up in their heyday. But, while it is indeed reminiscent of how Utopia would approach something, it is very much music for 2018 and not what was being produced some 40 plus years ago.

This is a debut album, but by a band whose members have been working in the scene for a great many years, and the guy who dropped in to provide drums completed the whole album in one day! (okay, so Jimmy is an incredibly well-known drummer, but that is some feat for anyone). I am not going to pick a particular track and point to the benefits of this or that, but will just say that this is an incredibly accessible and enjoyable album from the very first time it is played, and it only gets better the more it is listened to. Superb.


Bomber Goggles Offer Special Pre-order

“Gyreland” is the debut album by new California Prog outfit, Bomber Goggles. The album has been receiving many accolades from radio stations and their listeners alike.​


Here are a few quotes from the band’s Facebook page which was just recently launched.

Andy Ryan, February 18, 2018. I can already tell how wonderfully epic this project is. Cannot wait for March 21st!
Brent Freemont, February 16, 2018. Amazing album, Already on my personal top five playlists. Well done guys!
Brent’s Garage. Mana’o Radio, Hawaii.

Bomber Goggles are in many ways a supergroup featuring some talented former and present members of Gekko Projekt, Evolve IV, and Spocks Beard.

As an introductory offer the Bomber Goggles debut album “GYRELAND” offer a Free Bonus CD, that’s right pre-order a copy of “GYRELAND” and receive for free the bonus CD, “Reya of Titan” by Gekko Projekt a band that features both Peter Matuchniak on (Guitars) and Vance Gloster (Keyboards) Both Peter and Vance are members of Gekko Projekt.

This Offer Is Good While Supplies Last!

Bomber Goggles Info & Links
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