Odds & Ends: December 7, 2022

Band: Audio’m | Album: Godzilla | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

This album consists of just one 43-minute, kaiju-sized song. Though it doesn’t have the city-destroying fury of kaiju-themed thrashers Oxygen Destroyer, this French septet’s newest release is quite strong. The music is often swirling and otherworldly, with the band’s two keyboardists weaving together complementary moldies and textures. Hints of jazz and Baroque music are sprinkled throughout this release, and that diversity of influences keeps this opus interesting.

Score: 77/100

Band: The Bronze Horsemen | Album: IV | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

This is some solid, enjoyable progressive rock. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but rather than detracting, it adds a homespun charm to it. This allure is especially evident when considering the combination of certain folk and bluegrass elements. This band roots its sound in the 1970s, with particularly strong Camel flavors. While it’s not groundbreaking, there’s a lot of heart and creativity here, and it’s definitely worth your time.

Score: 79/100

Band: Selfeater | Album: The Master Is Impossible To Please | Genre: Progressive rock | Bandcamp

Selfeater is the latest in a long line of acts to draw heavy inspiration from dark, heavy prog acts of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, most notably Porcupine Tree and Tool. The music is played well, and it’s not like there’s anything egregious on this record. There’s just not much unique about it. It’s enjoyable enough, and if you’re just looking for something Tool-y to have on in the background, there are certainly worse options out there.

Score: 70/100

Band: Nik Turner & The Trance Dimensionals | Album: Synchronicity | Genre: Space rock | Bandcamp

Longtime Hawkwind saxophonist and flautist Nik Turner has teamed up with prolific prog-electronica musician Steve Hillman to put out a new album. Hawkwind was always an amazing live band with hit-or-miss studio output, and Nik Turner put on a great show when I saw him live a few years ago. Unfortunately, Synchronicity is a largely unnecessary album. The music is fine, I guess, if rather derivative and lackluster. Turner’s vocals are weak, and a lot of the music is either uninspired or paint-by-numbers. This isn’t awful, but it’s really nothing special. If you’re looking for good, jammy space rock, just go listen to Space Ritual.

Score: 50/100

Band: Wired Ways | Album: Wired Ways | Genre: Art pop, Psychedelic rock | Bandcamp

To say this band is indebted to The Beatles would be a gross understatement. The music sounds like it’s ripped straight out of 1968, to mixed results. It’s summery, fun, and smart; but at the same time, it doesn’t feel particularly fresh. The musical ideas are all well-trod, to be sure. This duo executes everything well, but there’s a certain spark of creativity or originality I’m searching for that I’m simply not getting here. 

Score: 55/100

Band: WIZRD | Album: Seasons | Genre: Progressive rock, Math rock | Bandcamp

This Norwegian act plays a high-energy, technical, and accessible variety of progressive rock. They remind me a lot of their fellow countrymen, Shaman Elephant. Hints of classic prog are melded seamlessly with more modern sensibilities, including flashes of indie rock, dashes of jazz, and a healthy sprinkling of math rock. Even in extended instrumental passages, the music’s contagious energy keeps the experience engaging and fun. The band members all have backgrounds in jazz, and that’s clearly demonstrated in their ability to work a groove and keep a jam moving.

Score: 82/100

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