Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kansas: Progressive for the 21 century

So Kansas, the USA's best progressive rock band, has come out with a release that harkens back to their Signature style. Two things:, first I can't say America's best example of Progressive Rock due to Rush from Canada. The next thing is the USA has great bands that are almost Progressive Rock like, Journey, Styx, Boston and early REO Speedwagon, but mostly they are Arena Rock. If the USA had to showcase its Progressive Rock band it would be Kansas.

Unfortunately, it is the 80's Kansas that went to the Arena rock stage, but with this new release,The Prelude Implicit,  the band has returned to its Progressive Rock roots. The first thing I noticed is that the violin is back. I always thought the violin was a great touch and depth to their earlier music. Unfortunately the vocal sounds of Steve Walsh are not here, but Ronnie Platt is a wonderful addition. The two vocalist are different but both can carry the right sound, and can even sing the phone book and grab my attention. The complex melodies and layers that are a staple of Progressive Rock bands are on nearly every track on the release

For the new release, The Prelude Implicit, there are 10 tracks. Eight of them I really enjoy. One I love and One I just don't care for. The first two tracks the band released, With This Heart and Visiblilty Zero are classic Kansas and got me really excited about the the bands return to form. Rhythm in the Spirit and The Voyage of Eight Eighteen are truly wonderful examples of what the USA can offer for Progressive Rock. The one track The Unsung Heroes leaves me flat, it's not awful, it is just filler. Refugee is the track that really made me stop and listen. It's haunting and the subject matter is hard but delivered in such a powerful way that it really grabs you.

The Prelude Implicit is not Leftoverture or Point of No Return but that's a good thing. No great band should step back; they need to take their music forward. Even so with different band members you can't catch that sound or chemistry again. No, The Prelude Implicit is a Progressive sound for this time from these members of the band and can be enjoyed for it.

Til next time, listen to the best -  your ears deserve it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Louder Than Life Gets the Festival Right

Louder Than Life invited the Bluegrass Mixer to cover their festival last weekend.  It was great to be invited as the press.  Honestly it has been a few years since my last music festival,  Never been a big fan of them, but Louder Than Life changed my mind.

With Music Festivals you get at most 30 minutes of the band playing a few hits then you get an hour of roadies changing the stage and checking the mics.  Not exciting and worth the payoff for the wait. So the clever people at Louder Than Life had three stages.  Two main stages for the headliners and a third separate stage for the smaller acts.  At the music festivals in the past you sit very compact and crowded and bored through the sound check.  Louder Than Life had plenty of room to wander around in between acts.  The best thing Louder Than Life did was have all types of food trucks everywhere. The only change would be having charging stations for your phones.

If you chose to go next year, spring for the VIP pass.  As members of the press, the Bluegrass Blog Mixer had access and it was a great set up.  A separate tent with plenty of seating and their own food trucks and bar.  It was nice to be part of the press.

Due to prior commitments, (Scarefest in Lexington), we only got to go to the Sunday line up.  There was a great line up for both days and I do really regret not getting to see Avenged Sevenfold.  The line up for Sunday was awesome and had a cool assortment of Hard Rock and Metal.  The bands that surprised me were  Crobot and Skindred.  Crobot is a much tighter sounding band live and is a shame they can't catch the same sound in the studio.  Skinred is a band not to be missed live.  Hard and funny at the same time they drove the crowd hard in the early afternoon.  Doing reading on the band, Skindred are known for kicking ass live.

The biggest surprise was Ghost.  A very controversial band, I won't even get into the whole Satan worship thing.  What I will say is that the band is charismatic and spot on musicians.  Skillet was just as good live as on their records and a fun show.  Myles Kennedy and Alter Bridge were amazing to hear and his voice was even better live.

The two headlines  were Korn and Disturbed.  Both have dominated the Hard Rock and Nu Metal scene for decades and after seeing them live I can say they deserve their place at the top of the heap.

Thank you Louder Than Life for allowing us to cover your event and showing us on how a Rock Festival can be done right