Mr. Fantasy (mrfantasy) wrote,
Mr. Fantasy

Feel the power of the New Prog

I figure, hey, I am proud to admit I like prog rock. I'm a white, nerdy American guy. It's my music. The problem with prog, is that despite the name "progressive", most of it was made in the 70s, and new bands making music in that style aren't really "progressive", they're stagnant. Now sure, some of it can be good music, but it's nostalgia, not progression.

But, wait, now there's New Prog. As far as I can tell, New Prog is prog rock made by people in their 20s who supposedly grew up listening not only to Old Prog, but the Sex Pistols and 80s music. Not to be confused with neo-prog which is the prog that people made back in the 80s (and who Marillion are likely the best embodiment of, and who ironically are an influence to New Prog bands) and was considered more derivative of classic prog with shorter songs and pop hooks. New Prog is trendy, it's hip, and it's something that all the cool kids are now allowed to listen to.

So, are you following yet? New Prog is prog made by indie bands in the 90s and 00s, influenced not only by "classic" prog (which is usually considered their parents' music) but punk, new wave, and other 80s musical styles. It so far seems to have not gotten the critics as mad as 70s prog did, for reasons I have yet to understand. I think it's because they assume that New Prog bands are being ironic about their utilization of 70s prog structures, or that enough time has passed that critics can begrudingly accept 70s prog as viable music while not formally renouncing their profession's earlier criticisms of the genre. I think I saw the attitude best summed up by a review of Pure Reason Revoloution's new album that basically said that if prog had been like this we wouldn't have needed punk. Whatever.

Most importantly, this is damn good music. PRR's "The Dark Third" is a brilliant, melodic, complex, and just beautiful song cycle, with the songs blending together, 12 minute tracks that are everything good about a long song, great vocal harmonies, and solid songwriting and playing. I've heard the term "space rock" used to describe them, I think that's mostly the wild sounding analog synth fills that make people think that, but regardless, this is one that's really getting inside my head.

I've also picked up a few other albums in this genre that I enjoy. Basically, I read the articles linked from the Wikipedia entry for new prog and started buying stuff. Mew's "And the Glass Handed Kites" came out over a year ago and calling it "prog" is at times difficult. It's got a strange, 80s pop feel, very European sounding (they are Danish after all). But solid music, very detailed, and very revealing after repeated listens. I like the first side of the CD better than the second--well, the first half, which is much more rocking--the second half kind of gets lost in what so far seems to ramble a bit with some long and not too interesting songs, but I may change my mind when I listen to it more. Also at times this reminds me of emo, but emo with better songwriting, playing, and singing.

Mystery Jets are also as New Prog but to my ears really sound like an 80s British pop band, mostly new wave with some punk thrown in, but I guess with some complicated melody and playing beneath it, so there you have it. I think the prog moniker comes from their long, improvisational concerts they apparently do, whereas the album doesn't really reflect that as much. I like this album a lot, great playing and really cool lyrics, but I don't consider it "prog" the way the other two above are (these albums are probably listed in order of decreasing progginess.) It's got a bit of a disorganized chaotic feel to it that no true prog would tolerate. I also had to buy this as an import, but they're releasing a US version of their album this spring (with a slightly different track list so I just might get it too.)

Anyway, here I am, listening to new music. I'm sort of happy I've found a vein of new sounds I can mine for a while, that while new and even somewhat popular amongst the critics is thoroughly rooted in the things that I've always liked. I'm also pleased that revisionist history is making it so I don't have to apologize for my prog rock proclivities as much as I used to.

Anyway, if you like some of this kind of stuff (and yes, I'm talking to you, origamislayer) then check it out.
Tags: mew, music, mystery jets, new prog, prog rock, pure reason revolution

  • Prog rock lives

    The band Transatlantic--a prog rock supergroup containing members of Marillion, Dream Theatre, The Flower Kings, and Neal Morse, formerly of Spock's…

  • Things that will never happen to me

    I've always dreamed about finding an amazing Hammond Organ at a garage sale, for a discount price, and fixing it up nice and good. But now, that…

  • Happy birthday, Geddy Lee!

    I just happened to notice while reading the paper this morning that it's Geddy Lee's 55th birthday today. In his honor, I have listened to nothing…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 1 comment