Spock's Beard — The X Tour - Live
(Music Theories Recordings MTR 7357 2, 2012, 2CD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01
This set marks the end of an era for Spock's Beard. The tour in support of the 2010 album X was the last to include founding member, drummer, and singer Nick D'Virgilio. As with another notable prog band that had its drummer take over lead vocal duties, D'Virgilio gave "the Beard" bucketloads of talent and professionalism that will be missed. This outing (recorded at the Downey Theatre in SoCal) serves up fan favorites like "Thoughts" and "The Doorway," as well as the entire X album (a nice demonstration of confidence in new material for a group with ten albums to draw from). The entire group is firing on all cylinders, including Ryo Okumoto on keyboards, Dave Meros on bass, Alan Morse on guitar and live drummer Jimmy Keegan (now SB's permanent drummer). Okumoto flings chops around the hall on the instrumental "Kamikaze" while Meros shines on "The Quiet House," delivering the meaty and virtuosic bass lines he's known for. Alan Morse complements the keyboards via guitar work that is equally at home with textural backing and soaring melodic leads. Perhaps even more impressive than the instrumental fireworks Spock's Beard musters on stage is the group's command of multi-part vocal harmonies. I can't guarantee that some "sweetening" hasn't been applied in post-production, but the end result reinforces what has always been one of SB's trademark strengths. The sound quality on this set is solid, if a tad flat. The drums were sacrificed a bit to ensure everything else has clarity, but that's probably a worthwhile tradeoff. If the Nick D'Virgilio era is to be judged by this release alone then they have a document to be proud of. Note: This review pertains only to the audio portion of this release, which also includes a DVD with video of the same event.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more