With New Year’s Day landing on a Tuesday this year, today is the first true release date of 2013, and the slew of excellent new albums across the board ensures that the new year is definitely starting off on the right foot. Need a musical infusion to pick you up after the post-holiday let down? Check these out.
Twenty | One | Pilots “ Vessel
Combining hip-hop, synthpop, modern rock, and a heaping dose of adolescent anxiety, Columbus Ohio’s Twenty | One | Pilots have happened upon a golden, and distinctly 21st century, sonic formula. Their new album, Vessel, features the mega-catchy single “Holding On To You.” If you have any doubt that 2013 will be their year, watch and learn. (more…)
Packed with heavy riffs, thunderous drums and plenty of ominous overtones, the first of the two-part concept album has listeners giving high praise and rave reviews. Although we won’t know how the second album stacks up for another few months, you can head over to Rolling Stone right now and judge The Afterman: Ascension for yourself.
If you like Coheed & Cambria check out OurStage artist Against Atlas.
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Epic sci-fi prog-rock concept masters, Coheed & Cambria are at it again with their new installment of The Amory Wars. Claudio Sanchez and company have announced on their website that their forthcoming release will be a 2-part album with staggered release dates. According to TheAudioPerv.com, “The first volume, The Afterman: Ascension, will be available on both physical and digital platforms October 9, 2012 via Hundred Handed/Everything Evil, and distributed through Fontana/Ingrooves. The second volume, The Afterman: Descension is slated for release in February 2013.” You can watch an HD teaser trailer for the albums below.
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It’s 1972. The Godfather is inaugurating America’s obsession with the inner lives of Mafiosi. Hunter S. Thompson chronicles the dreams of the ’60s turning sour in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, over in England, Ian Anderson and his chums in Jethro Tull are cementing their status as prog-rock legends by following the previous year’s Aqualung album with the conceptual meisterwerk that is Thick As A Brick. According to Anderson, who is currently preparing for a multi-tiered celebration of the latter milestone’s fortieth birthday, TAAB was actually conceived mostly as a satirical response to the media’s rampant misinterpretations of Aqualung as a concept album. “I thought it would be fun to do a concept album that was such a huge step into the improbable,” says Anderson, “a slightly surreal and satirical look at concept albums, so that’s what I did.”
Prog rock was in full flower at the time”1971 had seen the release of such watershed albums as Yes‘s Fragile and Genesis‘s Nursery Cryme”but Anderson was never one to remove his tongue entirely from his cheek. “Yes or early Genesis or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, I suppose those would be the classic examples of our peers who, in a way, I was gently lampooning,” he says of his concept-rock satire, “But it was just a fashionable period of time for concept albums. By ’72 I think quite a few people were at it, doing that kind of grand-scale work, and I just thought I’d try to take it a step further.” Of course, Thick As A Brick represented much more than just the Spinal Tap of its day”containing one continuous, album-length piece of music, the record is a full-fledged song suite, full of fascinating changes in mood, mode, tempo and time signature, with an evocative and coherent lyrical narrative running throughout. “Like anything that has some parody or satire, it also has an element of seriousness that lies behind it,” Anderson agrees, “I think that’s one of the important things you try to do if you’re a writer or a composer, you try to give it some other layers of meaning than the obvious one.”
Leave it to pop punk godfathers Saves The Day to prove that concept albums are not just the province of sci-fi obsessed prog rock bands. Having endured numerous changes in membership and label relations over the years, the band has retained only one consistent member in frontman Chris Conley. Compared to the vicissitudes of Saves The Day’s career so far, the challenge of writing a three-part series of concept albums seems like a welcome one. Daybreak, the final album in the three-part saga that also includes Sound The Alarm and Under The Boards was released last week on Razor & Tie. We recently caught up with Conley to talk about his love of Bowie, his opinion of the group’s earliest material and what it’s like to be a huge influence on an entire generation of young bands.
OS: Daybreak is going to complete Saves The Day’s three-album-long concept arc. What’s your favorite concept album by another band?
CC: My favorite concept album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars by David Bowie. It’s a weird album with a weird concept featuring killer songs and bizarre production. I love the compositions and I love his voice. Arun and I listened to Ziggy on repeat while working on the demos for Daybreak.
OS: You’ve already collaborated with Say Anything’s Max Bemis on your Two Tongues project. Who’s another artist that you’d like to collaborate with?
CC: I’d love to work with Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate. I was thoroughly obsessed with Sunny Day in high school and beyond, and I love his voice and his writing style. I’m pretty sure his singing is one of the reasons I sing in such a high register, and I think we could make some funky music together.
OS: I recently read a great magazine piece about you and your daughter. How has being a father affected your lyrics and the themes you choose to write about?
CC: Well, being a father was one of the main reasons I embarked on a mission to bring my heart back to life through the writing of the trilogy. I didn’t want to be an angry dad. I didn’t want to raise my daughter to be cynical and disconnected from society. So I reached down into my heart and brought myself out of a nasty funk in order to be a better example for her and for my family. I needed to come back to the world and meet it with a caring and compassionate heart, as opposed to feeling alienated and angry.