PapaJ's Top 10 CD's of 2007

Special Edition of PapaJ's Matinee featuring the Top 10 - MP3 Audio Download 180MB (128kbps MP3)

1 . Kaipa - Angling Feelings 


Kaipa Website

Hans Lundin - acoustic & virtual keyboards, vocals
Per Nilsson - electric guitars
Morgan Ågren - drums
Jonas Reingold - electric basses
Patrik Lundström - vocals

Aleena Gibson - vocals 
With: Fredrik Lindqvist - recorders & whistles (1, 2, 8-10)
Although it had no bearing on this selection, this is the first Kaipa album without Roine Stolt. Doing the progumentary "The Evolution of Prog" this year, I was surprised to learn that Kaipa has been around in one form or another since the late 70s. Before this record however, none of their work had really held my interest.  But this record is exquisite to my ears. Steeped in mood changes, technical prowess, and proggy as hell, I found myself returning to this recording over and over again for sheer musical fun. And that, to me, is the ultimate test of a prog record, do I keep wanting to play it over and over, and do I keep discovering more with each listen. Of all the records released this year, this one had the most "legs".
2 Jordan Rudess -  The Road Home



Jordan's Website

Jordan Rudess - keyboards, vocals on 3
Nick D'Virgilio
Ricky Garcia
Rod Morgenstein
Neal Morse
Marco Sfogli
Steven Wilson
Kip Winger
Ed Wynne

Some part of me thinks that this it's kind of cheating, for a CD of classic prog covers to land on a Top 10 list. Even one graced by talents like Neal Morse, Kip Winger and Steve Wilson performing highly articulated and energized versions of songs like Dance on a Volcano (Genesis), Sound Chaser (Yes) and Just the Same (Gentle Giant) just to name a few. But what I found myself thinking as I listened was how GREAT the original compositions were, and that Jordan does an incredible job of walking the tightrope between staying true to the originals and adding touches that are trademark Rudess. The result is the best “tribute” album these ears have ever heard. He breathes new life into these wonderfully rich songs without ever giving us the feeling that he’s just rehashing the prog classics.

3.  Knight Area - Under a New Sign 



Gerben Klazinga - Keyboards and main Composer
Mark Smit - Vocals
Pieter van Hoorn - Drums
Gijs Koopman - Bass & Taurus
Rinie Huigen - Guitars
Mark Vermeule - Guitars
Joop Klazinga - Keyboards & Flute
OK, I'll admit this album is kind of cheesy and pretentious, but isn't that what prog is all about? Sometimes it just works, and this is one of those albums for me. I listened to this album many times during my drives to and from work, and it really stuck with me. Yes, another "Scandinavian Prog Band".
4 . Oblivion Sun - Oblivion Sun 



Stan Whitaker
guitars, vocals
Frank Wyatt
Kurzweil, piano, saxes
Bill Plummer
Dave DeMarco
Chris Mack
This primarily instrumental band with occasional vocals features 2 players from Happy the Man as well as CalProg alum Chris Mack. It's a tight little album with well written and performed songs, and not a lot of improvisational wankery. I found myself liking it almost immediately and really enjoy the jazzy style of prog that they deliver. An excellent album, especially for fans of bands like Frogg Cafe and Helmet of Gnats. 
5 . Pain of Salvation - Scarsick 



Daniel Gildenlöw
vocals, bass
Johan Halgreen
Fredrik Hermansson
Johan Langell
I have always felt that Pain of Salvation has all the ingredients to make a big mark in progressive rock. Their music is edgy and precise, and they take risks (angry Nordic rap passages) that many current bands avoid. And even though I take great pleasure in taking potshots at Danny (Daniel Gildenlow) for his extreme political views and his seemingly endless supply of overwrought
6 . Sylvan - Presets 



Marco Glühmann
Matthias Harder
Sebastian Harnack
Kay Söhl
Volker Söhl
I acquired a taste for this band with the exceptional album "Artificial Paradise" a few years ago and have followed their progress ever since. They have consistently turned out music that has made it into my top 10 lists each year and Presets is another great album in their legacy. The vocals are very expressive and among my favorite in prog today. The music is a bit melancholy at times but thoroughly enjoyable. There's no hard edge here, this German band is totally smooth.
7 . The Flower Kings - The Sum of No Evil




Roine Stolt
Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Hasse Fröberg
Guitars, Vocals
Jonas Reingold
Bass, Bass Pedals 
Zoltan Csörsz
Tomas Bodin
Hasse Bruniusson
Marimba, Glockenspeil, Percussion
Ulf Wallander
These veterans of the prog scene just continue to turn out music on a regular basis that is consistently high quality and fun to listen to. This is prog in the traditional sense, exploratory, complicated, and melodically logical. This single CD release has no filler (as some of the double releases have in the past) and is high quality in every respect. If you like the Flower Kings at all you'll like this album.
8 . Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet  + the EP Nil Recurring (if you combine them as one)




Steven Wilson
vocals, guitar, piano
Richard Barbieri
keyboards, synthesizers
Colin Edwin
Gavin Harrison
drums & percussion
Alex Lifeson
guitar solo (3)
Robert Fripp
soundscapes (5)
John Wesley
Backing Vocals
This band continues to be the darlings of progressive rock fans even though Steve Wilson has done his best to distance himself and the band from the dreaded "prog" classification. They are a riff oriented band that at times rocks like no one else, but to me they have become formulaic. This album is nowhere near as powerful as Deadwing was, but it still has some strong moments. But to be honest, I'm growing tired of the plaintiff whalings and minor keys that are now the Porky Tree trademark. Steve's repeated references to prescription psychotropic drugs has me wondering if perhaps he was force-medicated as a child. There's just so much resentment in the tone of the lyrics. And yet, with all my complaints, it still managed to make it into my top 10 if for no other reason than the fact that they do what they do as well as it can be done.
9 . Ritual - The Hemulic Voluntary Band




Patrik Lundström
vocals, guitars
Jon Gamble
keyboards, harmonium, harmonica, vocals
Fredrik Lindqvist
bass, bouzouki, mandolin, flutes, vocals
Johan Nordgren
drums, percussion, nyckelharpa, vocals
The Irish Rovers meets The Flower Kings. At first I thought this music was what you might hear if there was such a thing as an Irish Prog Pub. It's "get drunk and sing along" appeal escaped me at first, but then grew on me. It's definitely an interesting take on progressive music, and might appeal to you if you enjoy an occasional journey off the beaten path. There's no instrumental wizardry or showing off, it's just straight ahead Pub Prog (again, if there WERE such a thing!).
10 . Tie...

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement  Website




Dream Theater
John Petrucci
John Myung
Mike Portnoy
James LaBrie
Jordan Rudess

Mariusz Duda
vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar
Piotr Grudzinski
Piotr Kozieradzki
Michal Lapaj

I'm not a big prog-metal fan, but I do like a little now and then in my prog diet. Great for the digestive tract. Dream Theater is the undisputed heavyweight champion of this genre, and this album shows why. It is another high quality, chops-laden, mind bending record. But another band that really caught my attention in this genre was Riverside. This polish band has turned out increasingly appealing records over the past few years and to my ears this is the best so far. It's powerful and heavy, and shows how they are maturing as writers and performers.

Honorable Mention: MoonSafari - A Doorway to Summer

This album actually came out in 2006, but I just discovered it this year. As far as amount of time accumulated in my car stereo, this is the winner, hands-down. This is definitely light prog, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I would describe them as a cross between the Manhattan Transfer and the Flower Kings. There are incredibly rich vocal harmonies in an almost jazz-choir vibe that I've never before heard in progressive rock. And the music was all up-beat and positive, which provides a nice counterpoint to some of the overly angst-ridden stuff that has become increasingly common. I highly recommend this CD and am really looking forward to a new release promised for 2008.

Special TOP 10 CDs of 2007 Show
Downloadable WebCast

Jan. 5, 2009 
(3  Hours 15 mins) 
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  180MB (128kbps MP3)

1. PJs Matinee Theme2 - DA (3:05)
2. Phideaux - The Doctrine Of Eternal Ice (Part Two) (8:08)
3. Carl Roa - Captain's Chair, from the 2007 album "Eternity" (4:04)
4. Dr Katz - Intrusive Thoughts (0:51)
5. Infront - Autumn Velvet (5:05)
6. Fluttr Effect - Venus Loves Hades (4:02)
7. Echolyn - : My Dear Wormwood, from the 1995 album "As The World" (3:36)
8. Moonsafari - Doorway (LP -- A Doorway To Summer, 2005, Blomjud Records, Sweden) (11:35) (Honorable Mention)
(Tied for #10 - DT and Riverside)
9. Dream Theater - In The Presence Of Enemies Pt.1, from the 2007 album "Systematic Chaos" (9:00)
10. PJnG Feb2006 - Byte - JF the Drunk (0:03)
12. Ritual - Waiting By The Bridge (4:39) (#9)
13. PORCUPINE TREE - Fear Of A Blank Planet (7:28) (#8)
14. Lucid Moments (Intro) (0:39)
15. Lucid Moments (Outro) (0:11)
16. Porcupine Tree - Normal (7:07) (#8a)
17. The Flower Kings - One More Time (13:05) (#7)
18. SYLVAN - One step beyond (7:16) (#6)
19. SYLVAN - For one day (3:49)
20. Pain Of Salvation - Scarsick (7:08) (#5)
21. Oblivion Sun - Fanfare (4:41) (#4)
22. Oblivion Sun - Noodlepoint (3:51)
23. Knight Area - A Different Man, Part II (12:57) (#3)
24. Jordan Rudess - Dance On A Volcano, from the 2007 album "The Road Home" (8:44) (#2)
25. Kaipa - The Fleeting Existence Of Time (12:34) (#1)
26. DrKatz - Sarcasm (0:28)
27. Yes - South Side Of The Sky (7:56)
28. Arcade Fire - Intervention (4:19)
29. PFM - River of Life (7:01)