Sunday, December 20, 2009

Lists, Lists, Lists: Best Of 2009

The holidays are a time for listmaking of all sorts, including our personal favorite -- lists of the best musical offerings of the year. The Vault's annual "Best Of" feature this time out offers lists from Sarah Curristan, Melanie Love, Sean McCarthy, Mark Millan and yours truly. For added fun, check out the contrasting views of albums like Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, which one writer named album of the year whilst another was busy trashing it with her "Emperor's New Clothes Award"!

Friday, December 11, 2009

All aboard the Big Big Train

British prog-rockers Big Big Train return this week with The Underfall Yard, a classic Genesis-Yes-Floyd smashup that adds brass and strings to half of the band's most moving set of songs to date. Building out from BBT's founding core of Greg Spawton (guitar, keys, songwriting) and Andy Poole (bass, production), new lead vocalist David Longdon -- who nearly succeeded Phil Collins at the mike for Genesis in 1996 -- is a terrific addition, as are extended guest shots by Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard) and Dave Gregory (XTC). Other prog luminaries on the scene include Jem Godfrey (Frost*) and Francis Dunnery (It Bites), making this a virtual all-star affair. That said, there's not a wasted moment here; The Underfall Yard is an amazing, moving, truly impressive piece of work, and a sure thing for my upcoming Best of 2009 column.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Old And Wise.

Yesterday, Eric Woolfson, the lead vocalist and lyricist of the Alan Parsons Project, died at age 64.

For anyone with even a passing familiarity with my musical tastes and my ten years of reviews on the Daily Vault, this is obviously a huge, earth-shattering, sad and painful time for me. The first album I ever bought was the Project's Turn Of A Friendly Card.

It's been 24 hours or more, and I still haven't fully comprehended my feelings about it. I feel old. I feel worn. I feel like more and more of my childhood is slipping beyond that big grey veil -- the veil that I get closer to every day. And, frankly, I don't like it.

What I'm clinging to now is a line from Woolfson's post-Project work, the musical Poe. This is a video of Steve Balsamo singing Eric's song "Immortal":

There's the lines, at the end:"If you remember me... I am immortal."

What is remembered, lives.