Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Best Of 2013: Top 10 By Kev Rowland

This year we thought in doing lists of the best 2013 albums. As you saw before we had done it with the readers' choice (HERE) and we even did Podcasts about it (HERE). Now it's time for us to do some personal lists!

The first one comes from our collaborator Kev Rowland that has been writting reviews for over 20 years. From 1990 to 2006 he ran Feedback fanzine in the UK. He also contributed to the French progzine Acid Dragon, and was also asked to write for Rock 'n' Reel and for the Ghostland websites. In 2006 he moved to New Zealand and stopped running Feedback (which was then renamed Amplified). The magazine produced more than 80 editions with more than 11,000 pages of print and thousands of reviews and interviews.

Kev also is a collaborator in MLWZ, Silhobbit, Progarchives, Metal Music Archives, Jazz Music Archives, Gonzo Magazine and of course, here on Progshine.

Interested in reading Kev's reviews? CLICK HERE and have fun!

Here it is the top 10 albums from 2013 in Kev Rowland opinion:

1. Clive Nolan - Alchemy

This is much more than 'just' a concept album, it is a full-blown musical, and even though there is further explanation in the detailed booklet that comes with the double CD set, the lyrics and narration ensure that the listener knows exactly what is happenings. It is a quest, a fight of good against evil, with Professor King (played by Clive) and his colleagues attempting to foil the dastardly plot of Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears).

Key song: 'The Unwelcome Guest' – four part harmonies, just stunning.

2. Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live At Hammersmith

We have classic songs (mostly forty years old remember) given new life by a guitarist in control of his own band, with the additional confidence of always being on the road and proving himself time and again. He has mostly stayed very true to the originals, but when he has the opportunity to crank his guitar out he certainly does.

Key song: 'The Musical Box' – even better than the original

3. Legend - Spirit

I have seen a few reviews of this album that have stated that in many ways this is a logical progression from Cardinal Points (2011), but I'm not sure that I agree with them. In many ways this feels to me that it has much more in common with the earlier period, especially 'Lie', but taken to a whole new level. It is more complex, more layered, with Paul relishing the opportunity to yet again provide crunching riffs that take the music further.

Key song: 'Leap Of Faith'  - new singer Beck does an incredible job

4. Devin Townsend - The Retinal Circus

What we have here is an aural feast. Anneke has a wonderful voice, and relishes playing the part of being the light against all of the shade. This music is really heavy, very bottom end, and she plays a huge part in making it sound complete.

Key song: 'Grace'. Awesome

5. Spock’s Beard - Brief Nocturnes And Dreamless Sleep

I never thought that I would be able to say this again, but Spock's Beard have released a five star album: just don't expect it to be the sequel to anything they have done before as they move into a more melodic rock/prog area.

Key song: 'Submerged' - surely destined to be an AOR radio classic!

6. I Know You Well Miss Clara - Chapter One

The album is a delight from start to finish, and I have to concur with the statement from Sid Smith that is included in the digipak "The time you spend getting to know this music will be time well spent indeed". If this is their debut, what on earth are they going to come up with next? Fusion really doesn't get any better than this.

Key song: 'A Dancing Girl From Planet Marsavishnu Named After The Love' – a great tribute

7. Oceans 5 - Return To Mingulay

If I had to pick just one prog band as a reference then it would be Floyd, especially with some of the Gilmour style noodlings, and they convinced Lorelei McBroom to add some of her very special vocals to '6000 Friends'. But, that is just one standout track among many, and if like me you have eclectic tastes, or if you just enjoy great music whatever the style then take it from me this is immediate, accessible, and above all an incredible piece of work.

Key song: 'The Mingulay Boatsong' – this is what started the whole project

8. Haken - The Mountain

It is just not possible to fault this album, everything they do is accomplished and polished yet never loses that feeling of spontaneity and rawness that is so important. Unlike some progressive acts, there is nothing here that sounds contrived, the music just oozes honesty and passion.

Key song: 'As Death Embraces' where the vocals and piano contains a compelling majesty.

9. Moon Safari - Himlabacken Vol 1

There is a clarity of thought and approach that is sadly missing from some progressive music, and while it can be incredibly complex they also understand that at times simple is just as good.

Key song: 'Red White Blues' – Sounds like a long lost classic

10. Thieves’ Kitchen - One For Sorrow...  Two For Joy

The music is incredibly complex, and at times has a hard rocking neo- prog guitar edge while at others it is much more symphonic. However, the big difference for me is that there appears to be a far greater understanding of the nuances of atmosphere and delicacy, combined with loads of control.

Key song: 'Of Sparks And Spires'. Class, sheer class, from start to end.

1 comment:

  1. Kev always have something different to show everyone! I still have to ive a try on Thieves’ Kitchen :)


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