Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Hard Chargin'" with Dreadnaught

Enjoying the heat fellow progheads?  It only gets hotter this week as the search for all things prog takes a bootlegger's turn and makes a fast and furious run through the raucous, disheveled, loud thumpin' section of the prog garden!  Seeing as how summer makes her official entry into 2017 less than 24 hours from now, I thought it only fitting to cruise back to Portsmouth, NH and spend some time proggin' with Dreadnaught...who coincidentally just released their latest album, "Hard Chargin'" last week.



Dreadnaught is the type of prog band that forces you to think long and hard about why you like prog in the first place; they refuse to follow any rules--written or unwritten--that attempt to define the genre.  This is a band that has a simple mission statement: "Listen and Enjoy."  Being self described as "Zappa meets Yes at Willie Nelson's BBQ" should give you a general idea of where the stress level is within the band.  Time to plunge headlong into the music and marinate  a bit...

The first cut on the album is aptly titled "Have A Drink With Dreadnaught" and it leaps through the headphones like a corvette maneuvering a double "S" curve on Mount Everest.  The mood is fast and loose as the band primes your ears and mind for a wild romp through many sections of the prog garden.  Dreadnaught are masters of their craft without all the stuffy hobnobbery...you remember the kid in physics class with the faded Yes T-shirt that always aced the exam?  Well, he started a prog band...

Moving the stylus deeper across the vinyl, I find another interesting nugget; "Gets The Grease."  I am immediately taken to a smoke filled jazz lounge as a piano/sax duet open the piece.  I search the room for the Wurlitzer from which the music is emitting...but alas all I see is the old Victrola...Dreadnaught has an uncanny ability to leap across the prog garden with giant steps yet they are as fleet afoot as a butterfly in a meadow, flitting from song to song as they lead you on a prog journey exploding with sounds, emotions, and exhilaration.

Liner Notes...Dreadnaught is Bob Lord on bass, Justin Walton on guitar,  and Rick Habib sitting behind the drum kit.  A musical trio as diverse and unafraid as a Vietnamese restaurant in Macon GA, Dreadnaught changes tempo, mood, and time signatures much the way Imelda Marcos used to change shoes.  Hailing originally from Portsmouth NH, they have traveled the planet for over twenty years, putting on exhibitions as opposed to mere concerts or shows.  Nothing is simplistic yet everything is fun. Additional musicians on this album include Chris Dow on flute, Andy Happel on violin, and Jonathan Wyman ripping a solo on "That's The Way That You Do It (Your Way)."

Don't be fooled or lulled into a false sense of incoherence; Dreadnaught is comprised of serious musicians who are merely unable and unwilling to take themselves too seriously.  You may not catch yourself singing along, but you will notice an inability to avoid tapping on the dashboard, playing air guitar, or just moving with the beat.  If only Dreadnaught would tour with Adrian Belew; now that would light up the prog garden...



You can purchase "Hard Chargin'" at the band's website Dreadnaught, their record label Red Fez Records' website Red Fez Records, and Dreadnaught's Bandcamp website Dreadnaught BC.  Most of the Dreadnaught library is available on all sites and I implore you to check it out.  You will also find Dreadnaught on iTunes and Amazon. Find out more about Dreadnaught on Facebook at Dreadnaught FB  and try keeping up with them on Twitter @dnaughtmusic .  This is the music your parents warned you about, only to discover that they themselves enjoy the stripped down straightforwardness Dreadnaught invokes with every tune.

One last song for review and it is another dandy; "Express Delight."  This piece sets up camp in the metal section of the prog garden and refuses to play nice.  I pick up strong aromatics of The Sex Pistols and The Clash having a reverb contest as the song opens...and then top notes of Traffic begin to float across the top as mayhem takes a backseat to fine tuning.  Dreadnaught seems to enjoy playing with your senses; all that is missing is the carnival ride through a haunted house with strobe lights wailing to bring this to a rolling boil, and that is the point.  Dreadnaught doesn't want to explode all over the room--the full simmer that keeps your attention is the real fun.



Another review for the prog faithful reaches the end of the disc.  As has become my custom with album reviews, no clip to seduce your listening sensors; 'tis better to purchase the entire album and enjoy within the confines of your home, office, car, boat, backyard, or anywhere you feel the urge to let loose the prog garden magic.

And once again we reach the end of the post...for now.  Dreadnaught was the frozen margarita required to kick the summer prog season into overdrive.  There is so much more new music, great bands, and as yet undiscovered artists lurking throughout the prog garden just waiting for discovery.  Of course I am only too happy to oblige and keep the search for all things prog going full throttle.  In the meantime please enjoy Dreadnaught and all the artists you have discovered here in The Closet Concert Arena.  Until next time...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Malcolm Galloway "Social Astronomy"

Good morning/afternoon/evening fellow progheads!  These past two weeks with Inside Out Music was nothing short of stellar as the search for all things prog brought you two fantastic new releases from the prog garden.  This week The Concert Closet hosts something a bit different--as is my modus operandi for those new to the Closet Concert Arena.

Malcolm Galloway has graced the the Concert Closet previously...February 2016 to refresh your memory.  Malcolm is the founding force behind Hat's Off Gentlemen It's Adequate; more than just a thinking person's prog band, they have the distinction of possessing the longest band name in the prog garden.  Malcolm is constantly evolving the band and taking bold steps with his music which is but one reason I find myself being drawn to this flame.  Malcolm's latest solo release is called "Social Astronomy" and resides in the minimalist section of the prog garden.  Minimalist interpretation of music and sound has always been intriguing to me; a section of the prog garden where I can find solace and relief from all the skulduggery of the working world...



"Social Astronomy" is a 76 minute piece of music that develops as it plays, musical patterns building on themselves and painting a picture that is as delicate as it is intricate.  Much like Philip Glass, Steven Reich, and Brian Eno, Malcolm takes the listener on a journey that looks at music and its creation through an entirely different lens.  There is even a sense of Abstract Aprils and Bang On A Can filtering through the headphones...

The album is but a 76 minute plus track moving through sound and building a mood much the way Robert Fripp took the listener on bold adventures during his Frippertronics days.  At the time there was nothing in the prog garden to hold up as a comparison or starting point to relate to; Fripp was venturing into new and uncharted territory.  So too, Malcolm is carving his own trail through the prog garden and "Social Astronomy" is merely a continuation of that trajectory.  While comparing Malcolm's solo work to his musical output with Hat's Off Gentlemen It's Adequate may not be exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, there are striking similarities. Malcolm seems to enjoy tinkering on the logical side of the garden...deconstructing sound as it were and following a different set of instructions to rebuild it in such a way as to lead you on a journey through a crystalline kaleidoscope..mysterious at first but quite remarkable in its simplicity.


This is music for those who want more from their music; nothing here is ever going to make airplay on mainstream radio.  Of course if we are honest and radio sounds are what we chase all the time there would be  no point in traipsing through the prog garden in the first place.  If you are a fan of soundscapes and enjoy music that does not force you to sort through lyrics, wait for the bridge to come around, or keep a steady 4/4 beat, Malcolm Galloway may be a soothing balm for your ears.

Malcolm's music can be found at Malcolm Galloway CD Baby and Hats Off Gentlemen.  He as well as his band also have Facebook pages at Malcolm FB and Hats Off Gentlemen FB, and the proverbial Twitter @itsadequate.  You know how I feel about supporting the artists here in the prog garden, so I will refrain from ranting--if you promise to make a purchase.

The search for all things prog continues to go off on different tangents each week, exposing more music to the loyal prog faithful.  I believe it is important to shine a light on artists, bands, and music that might otherwise be overlooked for no other reason than the arena is crowded.  Both Malcolm's solo work and his music with Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate are excellent additions to the prog garden and, while similar, occupy their own acreage. Flying solo Malcolm tends to be more"cranial" while within the confines of a band he flexes and pushes the prog paradigm.  

To say "Social Astronomy" is the thinking man's prog is to sell both the artist and the listener short.  Yes the music tends to bore deeper into the mind, but it does so in a genteel, refined way.  Malcolm challenges the listener to expect more from the music he/she chooses and offers an alternative that drops the gauntlet with a friendly grin.  To accept the dare is to step out of one's routine and into a dimension that is both provocative and encompassing--without being the condescending prude.

The search for all things prog continues to peel away layers of the genre, exposing a multitude of moods, experiences, and styles.  I hope you enjoy...until next week...