The Five Songs Meme, 2011 edition

I think the Five Songs Meme started out on Livejournal and spilled over to the blogosphere.

It’s quite simple – just list five songs you really into at the moment; not your five greatest songs of all time, but five songs you’ve been listening to a lot recently, for any given value of “Recently”. And give a few words explaining why.

Not sure in these social networking days whether blog memes still have any traction, but it gives me an excuse to talk about music, so here it goes.

Barclay James Harvest – The Poet/After the Day

I’m a late convert to Barclay James Harvest. While they’ve been on my radar screen for decades, it was only seeing the John Lees Barclay James Harvest at the 2009 Cambridge Rock Festival that prompted me to start exploring their very extensive back catalogue. The version of this song I’ve been listening to comes from a 2006 live album by the John Lees BJH. It’s the sort of music for which the term “Epic Symphonic Prog” was invented; hugely melodic. massive walls of Mellotron from the late Woolly Woolstenholme, and some fantastic lead guitar. We’re in serious goosebumps territory with this one.

Heather Findlay – Phoenix

The title track from Heather’s debut solo EP. While the stripped-down production is a significant move away from the big wall of sound which characterised her previous band, her distinctive melodic songwriting is still recognisable. This is perhaps the strongest song on the EP, a powerful vocal performance, with some intriguing and very dark lyrics.

Judas Priest – Persecution

The double concept album “Nostradamus” is Judas Priest’s equivalent of Kiss’ “The Elder”. It’s a strange mixture of metal, prog and more than a trace of west-end musical theatre. While parts of the album venture into those most un-Priest regions, it does contain a few old-school metal belters, and this is the best of them.

Liam Davison – Heading Home

Liam’s solo album has been one of the unexpected surprises of the year so far, revealing Liam not only to be a great songwriter but a far better singer than many of us imagined. The production and arrangements recall the cinematic sweep of early Mostly Autumn. This is perhaps my favourite song, ending with a glorious solo backed by washes of keys from Iain Jennings, and a great groove from Stolen Earth/Breathing Space bassist Paul Teasdale.

Phideaux – Have You Hugged Your Robot

I don’t really know that much about this band; “313″ is the only album of their I own, but this song is one of the standouts. Despite a piano figure lifted from Greig’s “Hall of the Mountain King”, this particular song more quirky pop than prog, but there something about the exuberant energy of this song that gets me.

And that’s it.

I’m not going to tag anyone in particular, but anyone who wants to pick this up and run with it is welcome to. Post on your own blog if you’ve got one, in the comments here if you haven’t, or somewhere within Facebook’s walled garden if you really don’t want your words visible to the whole wide Interweb.

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4 Responses to The Five Songs Meme, 2011 edition

  1. BeastiePsy says:

    Ok, seeing as your tweet was of a disappointed man… here’s my 5 with very brief notes:

    David Bowie – Uncle Floyd: The original version of “Slip Away” from Heathen, but the version on leaked “Toy” album. The intro makes this strangely sadder than the original. I find myself unable to tear myself away from it.

    Haven – Out Of Reach: I was mad on this CD when it came out, then the follow up was poor. Relistened for the first time in ages and it’s still stirring stuff, especially in the dark in my garden around a fire pit with a couple of beers. Atmospheric, melodic indie anyone? Thought not.

    Matchbox 20 – All Your Reasons: I make no excuses for my love of this band, and I care nothing for the fact that they are ridiculed by the media (especially in the US). This song is about as close to pop/rock perfection as it gets. I never get bored of their CD’s.

    Imogen Heap – Headlock: I am frankly speechless at how talented this woman is. I revisit her CDs on a very regular basis and this week has been no exception. Could have chosen any number of tracks, but I’m in the mood for Headlock today.

    Combichrist – All Pain Is Gone: Aggrotech – not my normal genre, but I find this lot irresistible. Playing this a lot at the moment to poke the wound as I can’t go to see them on their UK tour in June.

    So, rather prog-free lately, or shall we say free of notable prog as I have been playing lots of prog, but none that deserves mention here.


  2. Tim Hall says:

    Quite a few people I know (including artists I respect) are big fans of Imogen Heap – what records of hers do you recommend?

  3. BeastiePsy says:

    Don’t get me started on Immi… I’ll be here all day. But since you asked: they’re all worth hearing, but as a starting point I would go for her 2 most recent “Ellipse” and “Speak For Yourself”. She is one of those artists who takes a little while to get under your skin. I didn’t appreciate the true joy of Ms Heap until I saw her live last year. She uses a live band and samples to build the songs from scratch on stage, even creating her own backing vocals. I was completely in awe of what she was doing. Additionally I love her vocals… yes, me, loving female vocals (you may recall I have a problem with a lot of the female-fronted ‘prog’ bands). Her tone and vocal style are unique to my ears. It’s very difficult to pigeonhole her (which can only be a good thing), but I would say she is something of an acquired taste, without wanting that to sound elitist. You’ll either get her or you won’t I guess.

  4. Markus says:

    This was half a year ago, but I will be doing it anyways :p

    Starsplash – Hardstyle:
    Haven’t listened that much to this kind of music before, but this song is really great. It has the catchy melodies and rhythms that make me want to move.

    Edguy – Robin Hood:
    I’m a big fan of Edguy and this is their newest song so I have of course listened to it many times. It’s very good and gives me high expectations for their new album.

    Avantasia – Journey To Arcadia:
    Just amazing music. I’ve listened to every song of Avantasia more times than I want to count.

    Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere:
    Just a great song from a great artist. I haven’t really listened to Springsteen too much before now, but that’s my loss. I surely will from now on.

    Blues Traveler – Maybe I’m Wrong
    I haven’t really listened a lot to it recently, only generally. I have of course listened to it recently as well. I don’t think I will tire of this song:)

    You could check out my blog if these songs interest you. There are plenty more there :)