Music Blog

All the music-related posts gathered together in one place.

This very moving and personal blog post on acceptance and grieving by Reading-based musician John Mitchell is wel worth reading.

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The Eurovision Song Contest

I’m at a gig this Saturday, so I’ll be missing the Eurovision Song Contest. But here’s Lithuania’s entry for 2006, the same year as Lordi won for Finland.

The brief instrumental break with the dancing William Hague look-a-like is the best bit.

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Panic Room confirm Dave Foster as permanent guitarist

Dave Foster of Panic Room at Bilston Robon 2

After the successful “Wildfire” tour, Panic Room have now confirmed that Dave Foster is joining the band as a full-time member.

Panic Room had not previously appointed a permanent replacement for founder member Paul Davies, who had left the band at the end of 2012.  Morpheus Rising’s Pete Harwood stood in on a temporary basis for the tour in Spring 2013, and Adam O’Sullivan performed with the band throughout 2014 as well as playing lead on the band’s fourth album “Incarnate”.

Dave Foster, who also plays with Mr So and So and The Steve Rothery Band, had previously been announced as playing with the band for 2015, contributing to the soon-to-be-released acoustic album and playing live on the Spring tour. The band had decided to wait until after the tour before making a final decision for the longer term.

Anyone who saw the recent tour will have seen how well he fits into the band. Not only was he adept at playing all of Panic Room’s varied styles from sophisticated jazz-flavoured sounds ro classy hard rock, but just as importantly the chemistry was right. In the end it can’t have been that hard a decision to make.

The band are now planning further tours in Autumn 2015 and Spring 2016, and will be working on a new studio album in the second half of this year.

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Zero She Flies – Small Mercies

Zero She Flies new single is now released as a download from Bandcamp, CDBaby and Amazon.

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There are some questions for which “Ziltoid the Omniscient” is the only possible answer. Because bonkers prog-metal sci-fi concept album about the daydreams of a bored barista.

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Marc Atkinson leaves Ghost Community

Ghost Community LogoGhost Community is a progressive rock supergroup comprising of former and current members of The Reasoning, Riversea, Also Eden and Godsticks, currently working on their début album.

Unfortunately, as announced on the band’s Facebook page, Riversea’s Marc Atkinson is withdrawing from the project because of time commitments.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I had to bow out of my position as lead vocalist for GHOST COMMUNITY. When I first got involved with the project I was expecting it more to be an ‘album based/recording’ outfit rather than a band that was going to be gigging too heavily so I thought I’d be able to juggle the recording work and a few gigs here and there with my already busy and booked solo acoustic live work. As time went on, however, I began to realise that I wouldn’t be able to play as many live shows as the rest of the guys were hoping to perform. I knew that if I stayed with the project I’d eventually be in a position where I’d be letting the rest of the band down and holding them back as far as live work was concerned. So I decided it was in the band’s best interest if I pulled out of the project before we got any further down the creative route. I hope to be still involved with the band in a smaller capacity by helping out with backing vocals for the album and I’m also pleased to hear the group will be hopefully using a few of the vocal melodies I wrote during the initial song writing sessions. I greatly enjoyed my brief time working with the guys in GHOST COMMUNITY and wish them nothing but success for the future… We’re all in this together…”

His replacement will be John Paul Vaughan, who had previously worked with Matt Cohen in the 1990s in a band called Unbroken Spirit.

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IOEarth – New World

She was lost in the forest, when suddenly…. A prog band started playing. IOEarth’s long-awaited third album “New World” is now available for pre-order.

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Black Sabbath: 10 of the best

Black SabbathThe Guardian have just published a piece I’ve written in their “Ten of the Best” series, about Black Sabbath.

The task of choosing ten songs to tell the story of the most influential metal band on the planet wasn’t an easy one. Listening to all their albums, especially the early ones, showed Black Sabbath’s remarkable consistency. For every song I eventually chose there were two or three others that would have been equally valid. At one point my draft list said “Something from Master of Reality”, and I could easily have chosen almost anything from that album. That my final list didn’t have space for “NIB”, “Paranoid”,”Iron Man”, “Children of the Grave”, “Spiral Architect”, “Neon Knights” or indeed anything at all from “Volume 4″ says it all.

One dilemma was whether to base the list around the obvious standards that everyone knows, or highlight some of the lesser-known gems. In the end, I went for a bit of both, including defining classics like “Black Sabbath”, “War Pigs”, “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and “Heaven and Hell” while leaving room for atypical songs such as “Air Dance” or a representative of the often-overlooked Tony Martin era.

Speaking of the Tony Martin era, one of the constraints I had to work to was that all the chosen songs had to be available on Spotify, and unfortunately neither “Headless Cross” nor “Tyr” were there; the only album available was “Eternal Idol”. Hence the last-minute substitution of “Glory Ride” in place of Tyr’s “Anno Mundi”. Which makes the comment that it was a great list except then “Anno Mundi” should have been there instead of Glory Ride spot-on. Little did he know.

Some of the other comments are amusing; there are clearly a few people who don’t like anything beyond the first four albums and lost it with “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”. As as for “Too much Dio”, there is no such thing as too much Dio. But that’s Guardian commenters for you…

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Big Big Train – Wassail

A new song from Big Big Train, which is well worth a listen.

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Panic Room, The Fleece & Firkin, Bristol

Anne-Marie Helder of Panic Room at The Fleece

Panic Room’s “Wildfire” tour was eagerly anticipated. Although all the individual band members have been active lately, Anne-Marie Helder and Jon Edwards playing as Luna Rossa, Yatim Halimi playing bass for The Steve Rothery Band, and drummer Gavin Griffiths touring with Fish, it’s almost a year since Panic Room’s last live appearances together. It’s also the first chance to see them with new guitarist, Dave Foster, on loan from Mr So and So for the rest of the year.

The tour follows an interesting format, with the band performing a short set from their soon to be released crowdfunded acoustic album, followed by a headline-length electric set, in effect acting as their own support band. For a “school night” they attracted a fair-sized crowd at Bristol’s Fleece and Firkin for the fourth night of the tour.

The acoustic set was semi-acoustic in parts, with Dave Foster adding some bluesy electric guitar on a few songs, and Gavin Griffiths returning to his kit after playing the first couple of numbers on a cajon. With the exception of one brand new number, the beautiful ballad “Rain and Tears and Burgundy”, it was stripped-down reworkings of material from across the band’s history, including a delightful take on the quirky “I Am A Cat”, a reggae-style “Black Noise”, and the less-is-more versions of “Song for Tomorrow” and “Promises” played as encores a year ago.

The electric set focused on the big richly-layered atmospheric numbers and the out-and-out rockers, and turned into a greatest hits set featuring established favourites alongside songs that hadn’t been performed live for years. The way it went from highlight to highlight demonstrated just how strong a back catalogue Panic Room have built up over four albums.

They dazzled with the jazzy “Chameleon” featuring a brief flute solo, the eastern-tinged percussion-heavy “Tightrope Walker”, the soaring title track of “Skin”, and the remarkably emotive “Dust”. They rocked out with “Apocalypstick” from the very first album including a spectacular keyboard wig-out by Jon Edwards, the organ-driven metal monster of “Dark Star”, and the Zeppelinesque “Hiding the World”. As always, Anne-Marie Helder was on superb form vocally, combining range and power with emotional depth and completely dominating the stage. She’s been voted Prog Magazine’s female vocalist of the year more than once for a reason.

Panic Room at The Fleece

Dave Foster made his mark on guitar, demonstrating the versatility that Panic Room’s hugely varied music demands; from atmospheric fills and bluesy soloing to hard-edged riffing and jaw-dropping shredding. We even saw the appearance of a twin-neck guitar on a couple of songs. For music like Panic Room’s the lead guitarist matters as much as the singer, and Dave Foster proved to be a very good fit.

Last year’s tour, good as it was, emphasised the jazz-flavoured adult pop side of the band’s music. But Panic Room have always been a band with feet in more that one camp, and this time around the emphasis was as much on the classy hard rock side, something that had been missing the last time round.

It will be very interesting to see where Panic Room go next. The acoustic album is close to release, after which the band return to the studio to begin work on another new album, again featuring Dave Foster on guitar. But before that there are still two more dates on the tour to go, at Manchester Sound Control and Bilston Robin 2.

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