Let’s Set Aside The Math For A Minute…

…and talk about some music. I haven’t written a music post in a long time; which is probably due to the fact that I don’t buy nearly as much music as I used to. Here are a couple of albums that I recently picked up, though, and have really enjoyed listening to the last few days.

First up: Flying Colors. This is sort of a contemporary prog-rock supergroup. Mike Portnoy is on drums, Steve Morse handles guitar, Neal Morse (no relation) on keyboards and vocals, Dave LaRue does bass, and Casey McPherson is the lead vocalist. Strictly speaking, this isn’t progressive rock, but rather more pop-progressive. Think late-’80s Rush (it’s produced by Peter Collins) meets late-’60s Beatles and late-’70s Kansas. It’s a very enjoyable listen from the first spin, but it’s somewhat superficial compared to the music the members created with their original groups (Dream Theater, Spock’s Beard, Dixie Dregs, etc.)

Next is O.S.I. with Fire Make Thunder. This is Kevin Moore on keyboards and vocals (formerly of Dream Theater), and Jim Matheos on guitar (Fates Warning), assisted by Gavin Harrison on drums (Porcupine Tree). Fire Make Thunder is O.S.I.’s fourth album, following Blood. It’s a great set of songs, and probably my favorite album of the year so far.

Finally, I’ve discovered a new band, Big Big Train, via this excellent blog post. Their website has lots of terrific tracks available for free download. They are the real deal – as good as Close to the Edge-era Yes, or Red-era King Crimson. The Difference Machine and The Underfall Yard are astounding, beautiful albums that reward repeated listens. I haven’t been this impressed with a band in years. They are incredibly generous with downloads – check them out now!

Thanks for staying with me as I went off on a tangent (ha!); I’ll be returning to mathematics on my next post.

Honorable Mentions (last-minute additions to The Best of 2009)

Matt Bissonette: Life Of The Party

I just found out Matt Bissonette released a solo cd this year. He is a power pop genius who is involved in multiple projects, primarily The Mustard Seeds. If you like great guitar-driven power pop with clever lyrics and layers of harmony in the vocals, then you won’t regret picking this one up. Highly recommended.

O.S.I. - Blood

I discovered this group (Jim Matheos of Fates Warning and Kevin Moore of Dream Theater) through their connection with Steven Wilson. He sang on one song on their first cd, Office of Strategic Influence. This latest disc (their third) is a somber, beautiful album with flashes of metal, but primarily atmospheric keyboards. Melodic themes are repeated throughout the songs, making for a unified listening experience. Snatches of samples of what sound like air traffic controllers add to the feeling of technological detachment. The deluxe edition has three bonus tracks, on one of which Tim Bowness of No-Man fame sings. In case you’re wondering, Tim’s partner in No-Man is none other than Steven Wilson!