Root System – Tree No Leaves Plants Lush Conceptual World on ‘The Eyes of Xylem’ Album

Tree No Leaves plants a vivid, lush conceptual world that challenges widely held notions about the cycle of life on “The Eyes of Xylem.” Artwork – Andy Thomas of Ando Illustration

Last year, Dustin Galish instantly took root in a new adventure.

The Bowling Green, Ohio-based Tree No Leaves vocalist and multi-instrumentalist planted a vivid, lush conceptual world that challenges widely held notions about the cycle of life.

“I had a dream one night, and there was a narrative that showed up and made sense. I wrote it down in the morning and went into work that day, but continued to scribble on this piece of paper that was very small and kept cramming everything on it,” he said.

Galish showed his initial scribbles to artist Andy Thomas of Ando Illustration, and the two carefully cultivated an alternate universe for Tree No Leaves’ new thought-provoking concept album, graphic novel and multimedia experience, The Eyes of Xylem.

“The real raw theme is perception and the cycle of life. At the end of the day, all of us have a very different perception of what that cycle of life is, and it can be religious, spiritual or atheistic. We all deal with that cycle of life, and we’re all trying to come to terms with what it is. Some of us have a very cool explanation for it while others have a sad, barbaric or magical one,” Galish said.

Along with Tree No Leaves bandmates Steven Guerrero (bass, f/x, EBow), Garrett Tanner (sax, recorder), J.P. Stebal IV (drums, electronics) and Billy Gruber (congas, percussion), Galish magically chronicles a condensed life cycle across eight compelling, multi-genre tracks on The Eyes of Xylem, which is now available via all streaming platforms.

Also available as a four-track, clear 7-inch vinyl on Bandcamp, the insightful concept album lyrically and visually depicts the story of anthropomorphic tree characters, Willow and Elder, who rapidly experience a series of life-changing situations in a haunted town. Each track features an accompanying mystical illustration by Thomas that sets the scene for listeners as they join The Eyes of Xylem journey.

“My goal is to have two characters that experience the full cycle of life and death in a short period of time, but in an amazing way. They’re both experiencing things simultaneously while their perspectives of what they’re experiencing are different,” Galish said.

“I researched symbolism relative to trees and what they represented in different cultures. Willow and Elder represent the duality of the world in any place and in anything that exists. I think it’s important to understand people’s perspectives and how we’re all different, but we’re experiencing things together as part of the same cycle. ”

Continue reading “Root System – Tree No Leaves Plants Lush Conceptual World on ‘The Eyes of Xylem’ Album”

Full Circle – Widetrack Returns to Pontiac for Saturday’s ‘November Two Remember’ Crofoot Show

Widetrack’s Ron Tippin and Zach Tippin

Widetrack intentionally creates the perfect sonic circle.

The Waterford alt-prog, father-son duo of Ron Tippin (vocals, guitar, drums) and Zach Tippin (bass, guitar) will fittingly return to their musical birthplace of Pontiac for a Saturday show at The Crofoot.

“We are absolutely stoked to be playing our first Widetrack show together as a two-piece, premiering the public live debut of songs we wrote together for our newest album, The Unwakening,” said Ron Tippin, Widetrack’s founder.

“What makes it really special though is that The Crofoot is literally right across the side street from my old rehearsal and recording facility, where Widetrack was born back in 2006. It’ll be kind of like coming full circle for us.”

Widetrack will join eight other bands – Loud Thoughts, Roc Steady, Negative Gravity, Mars Hill, Stompbox, Cicrus, Letters from Abel and Motor City Vibrations – for Smash Concerts’November Two Remember” show and perform a six-song, 30-minute set with haunting, introspective tracks from their mystical four-album catalog.

“We’re really looking forward to playing that same stage with The Crofoot’s amazing sound and lights. We hope that people who’ve never heard us before will find our music and on-stage energy to be inspiring. Inspiring others is our deepest desire as musicians and as a creative force,” said Ron Tippin.

A Spirital Unwakening

Widetrack released “The Unwakening” in April.

With the Tippins at the helm, Widetrack continues to unleash their dark, proggy creative energy since releasing their hypnotic, otherworldly album, The Unwakening, in April. The reflective project ventures through a dozen digital tales to uncover the conflicting duality of our personal and online identities in a “Black Mirror-like” dimension.

“The idea of The Unwakening is how we immerse ourselves in this digital landscape, and it just makes our worst tendencies come out; we just wallow in it. All of our wisdom goes out the window and so does our better nature,” said Ron Tippin.

Continue reading “Full Circle – Widetrack Returns to Pontiac for Saturday’s ‘November Two Remember’ Crofoot Show”

State of Mind – VK Lynne Smashes Self-Doubt on New Upbeat ‘Brain Waves’ Single

VK Lynne’s latest single, “Brain Waves,” encourages listeners to overcome self-doubt and anxiety.

For VK Lynne, it’s simply a case of mind over matter.

The Los Angeles alt rock singer-songwriter triumphantly tackles lingering self-doubt and paralyzing anxiety on her uplifting new pop-fueled anthem, “Brain Waves,” out now via all streaming platforms.

“I wrote this song several years ago, and finally, this seemed to be the time for it. There are perceptions, expectations and stereotypes about ourselves that we sometimes unknowingly give into and allow ourselves to be held down by other people’s rules. When you finally work out that realization in your mind, your ‘brain waves’ goodbye to the ideas that don’t serve us. There is hope in that departure and freedom,” she said.

Throughout “Brain Waves,” Lynne proudly shares her personal sense of freedom as intermittent vibrant piano, rhythmic finger snaps, humming synths, fuzzy electric guitars, bouncy bass and pounding drums bolster her growing confidence. She soulfully sings, “As it always is/Ain’t how it’s gotta be/Crumpling the page and I’m aiming/For the basket next to me/I’m as empty as the can/Baby can you deal with the drama/Can you fill me up again/And we’ll hold our fire.”

“I usually write my songs in a huge heart-vomiting purge, and this one was no exception. I attempted to put together a production; I played bass, guitar and programmed drums and made the world’s worst mix right after I wrote it. But when I pulled it out this year, I decided that it deserved better,” said Lynne, who plans to release a new video for “Brain Waves” soon.

“My idea was to try something totally different. I’ve done blues, rock, metal and prog, but this had a feel that was decidedly unique to my catalog. I contacted my friends Alexx Calise and Dennis Morehouse of Batfarm. They came on to produce, and we gave this song an upbeat, pop-rock treatment that it seemed to want.”

Continue reading “State of Mind – VK Lynne Smashes Self-Doubt on New Upbeat ‘Brain Waves’ Single”

Paradise Lost and Found – LEVELS Chronicles Timeless Adam-Eve Tale on Mixed-Genre Debut Album

LEVELS entwines assorted genres, changing tempos and complex time signatures on their self-titled debut album.

LEVELS spiritually rises above standard musical conventions.

The international super group magically entwines assorted genres – R&B, hip-hop, funk, jazz, pop, prog rock, Latin and Afrobeat –  changing tempos and complex time signatures into an expansive sound that transcends space and time on their 2019 self-titled, full-length debut.

“These cats are all masters of their craft. The name LEVELS was fitting for us because we all come from different backgrounds culturally and musically and disciplines giving our unit so much dynamism. We’re always adding new levels to the tunes and each other. It’s great to be multinational and international since there’s so much flavor and opportunity to learn and push envelopes musically,” said Keith “WildChild” Middleton, LEVELS co-lead vocalist and co-founder.

Middleton pushes global, multi-genre musical envelopes with American-Italian bandmates Jacopo “Snow” Mazza (piano), Luca “Mack” Marcias (guitar) and Aaron Marcellus (vocals) on their intergalactic, poetic 16-track concept album, which beautifully follows the time-traveling journey of Adam searching for Eve after being exiled from paradise.

“The entire album is woven this way and becomes their journey. We have so many styles it’s only right that they are all represented to tell this story our way. Everyone can identify with having a relationship of some sort. I just put a cosmic, spiritual twist on it to provoke thought and start a conversation – ‘We all share Eve’s and Adam’s atoms,’” said Middleton, who’s currently quarantined in Italy due to the country’s coronavirus pandemic.

‘A Place’ for ‘Unicorns’

Eve’s and Adam’s atoms form a complex musical chemistry on “A Place,” a slow, groovy R&B hip-hop declaration of eternal love (think Garden of Eden). LEVELS’ breathtaking track features tweeting birds and soothing waterfalls as vibrant acoustic guitar, crashing cymbals, bouncy bass and pounding electric drums surround the star-crossed lovers.

To celebrate the lovers, Marcellus hypnotically sings, “There’s no place that I would rather be/Than here with you my dear beside me/Made a space for you inside my heart/Don’t ever fade away my shining star.”

In return, Middleton seamlessly raps, “Yeah shining star if I may elaborate/I follow my heart when I navigate/Palpitations causes sensations at faster rates of rotations of butterflies proclaiming my candidate/No space or time Donny Hathaway/In this and our next lives you won’t have to wait/When we grappled that apple that ample sampled that unraveled the man with the time travel secret passageways/I’ll always find you baby.”

“‘A Place’ tells their tale, and you find out in the first verse, it’s Adam professing his love for Eve. In the second verse, they are doomed from the apple incident, but because of the bite revealing a secret, Adam vows to find his Eve in their next lives. In the third verse, Adam breaks down all of their incarnations till present time, also revealing that on this next go-round, he will spot her at one of his shows while he’s performing with his band LEVELS on stage,” Middleton said.

Continue reading “Paradise Lost and Found – LEVELS Chronicles Timeless Adam-Eve Tale on Mixed-Genre Debut Album”

Dark Reflections – Widetrack Creates Haunting Virtual Realm on ‘The Unwakening’ Album

Widetrack’s Ron Tippin and Zach Tippin

For Widetrack’s Ron Tippin, a new type of “mirror” reveals our hidden truths in a vast technological world.

That “mirror” doesn’t reflect our human faces, but instead displays our evolving digital personas on social media and the Interweb through multiple computer, tablet and phone screens. In a sense, we’re residing in a parallel world while interacting with one another in a dream-like state.

“The idea of The Unwakening is how we immerse ourselves in this digital landscape, and it just makes all our worst tendencies come out, and we just wallow in it. All of our wisdom just goes out the window and so does our better nature,” said Ron Tippin, Widetrack’s vocalist, guitarist and drummer.

Ron Tippin explores this haunting concept throughout Widetrack’s new otherworldly 12-track, alt-prog album, The Unwakening, which dropped yesterday. As part of a Waterford father-son duo with 16-year-old bassist-guitarist Zach Tippin, he travels through a dozen digital tales to uncover the conflicting dualities of our personal and online identities.

“I look at a show like ‘Black Mirror,’ and I’ve read the reviews, and people say, ‘Oh, I get it, digital media is bad.’ Well, it’s not that simple. It’s a fantastically great tool, it can connect us in ways it never could, and it’s the stuff of my childhood imagination,” said Ron Tippin, who released the album to coincide with his son’s 16th birthday.

Together, father and son plunge headfirst into a ‘Black Mirror-esque’ realm filled with an angry online influencer who trolls social media, online forums and discussion threads to create a polarizing digital culture. Each haunting track on The Unwakening chronicles the influencer’s rapid rise to power and eventual decline in a fickle virtual universe.

“I started thinking about if this person got everything he ever wanted, what would that world look like, and I got this idea that this guy ascends to power, and he gets so many followers, he becomes this huge demagogue, and he rises to a position of power, and the world just goes to hell,” Ron Tippin said. Continue reading “Dark Reflections – Widetrack Creates Haunting Virtual Realm on ‘The Unwakening’ Album”

Divine Light – Neal Morse Explores Spirituality in ‘Jesus Christ The Exorcist’ Prog Rock Opera

Neil Morse revisits the timeless story of Jesus in his latest prog rock opera, “Jesus Christ The Exorcist.” Photo by Victor Peters

As a child, Neal Morse found a kindred spirit in Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Nashville progressive rock composer and multi-instrumentalist became instantly drawn to the 1970 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera album turned Broadway musical.

“I got it when I was 11 or 12, and I lived that album for months. That’s the way I was when I was young, I only listened to one thing at time,” said Morse, the former Spock’s Beard frontman.

Nearly 40 years later, Morse decided to write a new rock opera showcasing the Gospel at the encouragement of his friend Michael Caplan. In 2008, he embarked on a 10-year creative journey to compose and record Jesus Christ The Exorcist: A Progressive Rock Musical, a refreshing take on the timeless story of Jesus.

“At first I thought, ‘It’s been done, doing a rock musical or rock opera based on the Gospel seems like a trite thing at first,’ and then the more I thought about it, I prayed about it, I felt like, ‘Yeah, I should take a stab at it,’” Morse said.

“I’m a little bit of a one-project-at-a time guy, and so when I worked on it in 2008, I didn’t work on anything else. I only did that until it was done, and I spent about two months on it back then, and then a month demoing it. It was pretty elaborate, I had friends come in and help me sing over stuff. We worked pretty hard on the original demos because we were going to shop it as a Broadway show.”

Unfortunately, Jesus Christ The Exorcist didn’t make it to Broadway, but Morse resurrected the project and debuted it live a decade later at Morsefest, his annual two-day music festival near Nashville. By 2018, the project’s revival led to a renewed interested in releasing it.

“Michael called me up and said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, I think I’ve got a record deal for this,’ and I’m like, ‘Whoa, that’s really interesting because I’m doing the rewrite now, that’s perfect,’” Morse said.

Frontiers Music srl, an independent Italian-American record label for classic rock, hard rock, prog rock and metal artists, released Jesus Christ The Exorcist as a double album for Morse last year.

With the label’s support, Morse assembled an impressive roster of vocalists and musicians for the project, including Ted Leonard (vocals), Eric Gillette (drums, guitars), Paul Bielatowicz (guitar), Nick D’Virgilio (vocals), Randy George (bass), Bill Hubauer (keys), Matt Smith (vocals), Rick Florian (vocals), Talon David (vocals) and others.

“They really brought their style to playing. There really wasn’t much that was brought to the table in the way of composition because the whole thing was already composed. It wasn’t like the collaborativeness of The Neal Morse Band, Flying Colors or Transatlantic. It was more of ‘OK, here’s the part, play it kind of thing,’ and there was a little bit of embellishing, but not a ton on this,” said Morse, who also released a new Flying Colors album, Third Degree, in October.

Continue reading “Divine Light – Neal Morse Explores Spirituality in ‘Jesus Christ The Exorcist’ Prog Rock Opera”

The Other Side – Nektar Revisits Past, Present Influences on Latest Album, Performs Tuesday at The Token Lounge

Nektar’s current lineup includes Ron Howden, Derek “Mo” Moore, Ryche Chlanda, Mick Brockett, Kendall Scott and Randy Dembo. Photo by Jay Petsko

Back in 1974, Nektar left a promising sonic door open in Detroit.

The British progressive rock band shared a pulsating new track, “Devil’s Door,” during a show at The Michigan Palace.

“That’s where we wrote it. We had a couple of days in the theater. We were able to jam and play, and we did a lot of that. Then, we played it for the first time at the Palace theater,” said Derek “Mo” Moore, Nektar’s bassist, vocalist and co-founder.

Nektar only played “Devil’s Door” a few more times live that year before stashing it away. The soaring track remained hidden in the band’s vault for nearly 45 years before including it on their majestic new album, “The Other Side,” which dropped in January via Esoteric Antenna.

The eight-minute gem features the band’s late original frontman and co-founder Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals at the track’s intro. Recorded live by then-sound engineer Vinny Schmid via a soundboard in Detroit, “Devil’s Door” beautifully blends Albrighton’s vibrant guitar and enthusiastic “yeah, yeah, yeahs” with Nektar’s stunning new version of the track. Sadly, Schmid passed away six years ago while Albrigton died in 2016.

“We were able to get the two of them on the album. It just felt right, it was so clear when we played that into the headphones, and then the band came in, and Roye stayed with us for a little while with his parts,” Moore said.

“Then, we dropped the original band and brought up the new band. It just felt great. I called Roye’s wife, and I said, ‘I know I don’t have to ask you for permission, but I’d like your blessing. Is it OK for us to use Roye?’ She was thrilled, and I sent her a copy of it right away. She was blown away.”

Metro Detroit audiences will be blown away Tuesday when Nektar reopens “Devil’s Door” live at The Token Lounge in Westland as part of a current 36-date North American tour. The long-awaited track will be featured as part of the band’s three hour-plus set amidst a stunning video and lights show by visual artist and co-founder Mick Brockett.

“We’re changing the sets every night, especially when we did four days in New York, and we did two days in Baltimore. We try to do a lot of the old classics like ‘Remember the Future,’ ‘A Tab in the Ocean,’ and ‘Recycled,’ and we do a variation of that, and then we intersperse them with the new album, ‘The Other Side,’” Moore said.

Continue reading “The Other Side – Nektar Revisits Past, Present Influences on Latest Album, Performs Tuesday at The Token Lounge”

Shine On – Read the Sun Enters Experimental Sonic Orbit on ‘Living Thru’ EP

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Read the Sun revolves around an ever-changing musical landscape drenched in brilliant rays of experimental indie rock.

The Detroit indie rock quartet of Alexa Gabriel (vocals, guitar), Jon Meyer (guitar), Sean Hussett (bass) and Joseph Jankowski (drums, percussion) beautifully fuses cinematic elements of classic, prog and alt rock to produce a soaring sonic experience on their latest five-track EP, “Living Thru,” which dropped in August.

Living Thru” opens with a gorgeous instrumental, “Living,” to elegantly blend high-tone guitars and vibrating synths with light cymbal taps for a brief infectious sonic rotation. It seamlessly segues into an intense emotional track, “Brown Shoes,” as a metaphor for the struggle about starting a transition as a transgender woman.

Slow rhythmic drums, vibrant guitars and deep bass echo the struggle depicted throughout “Brown Shoes”  – “I could walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes/And find nothing wrong with these other soles/I could take mine away/And leave nothing more.”

“One of the things we wanted to deliver in this EP is our continuous change of sound that we are beginning to solidify. We have started to amplify each of our strengths in the writing process and weed out the desire to imitate. We are currently on a good path towards fully realizing a more consistent sound,” said Read the Sun, whose members are influenced by Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Snarky Puppy.

Together, the band recorded “Living Thru” in Gabriel’s bedroom where she runs a portable studio for recording and mixing. They also recorded their striking 2018 debut, “Music for Birds,” over nine months at a family-owned barn up north over a three-day stay. Coincidentally, bird sounds crept into every recording on their first full-length release.

Before they discovered “Music for Birds,” Read the Sun started as a jam session among four Plymouth-Canton high school friends. That jam session solidified into an official project by 2017 as the band members honed themselves as musicians and songwriters and cultivated an evolutionary sonic path.

Along their growing sonic path, Read The Sun continues to solder different sounds on “Living Thru,” including “The SacroMambo,” a dancy six-minute track that shimmies and sways with a symphony of electric guitars, drums, bass, saxophone and percussion.

Continue reading “Shine On – Read the Sun Enters Experimental Sonic Orbit on ‘Living Thru’ EP”

The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album

Bruce Soord and The Pineapple Thief will make their first metro Detroit live appearance Saturday at The Crofoot in Pontiac. Photo by Steve Brown

The Pineapple Thief will steal the spotlight Saturday night in metro Detroit.

The British prog rock quartet will make their long-awaited Motor City live debut at The Crofoot in Pontiac as part of a 22-date North American tour.

Bruce Soord (guitars, vocals), Steve Kitch (keys), Jon Sykes (bass, backing vocals) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) have embarked on their first North American tour in support of 2018’s “Dissolution,” a splendid nine-track album via Kscope Records that poetically chronicles the impact of social media on people’s lives and society.

“Over the last four years since ‘Your Wilderness’ came out, the band’s just gotten bigger, and we were playing to more people. The modern band is quite weird because you get so much data to analyze, so you look at your Spotify listeners, where your Facebook people are coming from, and you can see where people are,” said Soord, who formed the band in 1999.

“We knew the USA was the big market for us. Obviously, it’s a very big place, so it’s difficult, but we knew that Germany, the U.K., and the USA were the three big territories that are into The Pineapple Thief. Since we’ve been selling more records, we were able to afford to do it.”

Continue reading “The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album”

Prog Royalty – Nad Sylvan Reimagines ‘Selling England by the Pound’ for Genesis Revisited Tour, Releases Enchanting ‘Vampirate’ Album Trilogy

Nad Sylvan will perform Genesis’ 1973 album, “Selling England by the Pound,” with Steve Hackett during the “Genesis Revisited” tour. Photo by Scott Saldinger

Tonight, a Grand Rapids, Mich., audience will travel through time to a majestic era filled with British knights, sailors, lovers and battles.

They will step inside the 20 Monroe Live “time machine” and sonically travel back to October 1973, when Genesis released their definitive prog rock album, “Selling England by the Pound.”

During their sonic travels, the audience will receive Nad Sylvan as their exquisite, effervescent and enchanting musical tour guide. Dressed lavishly in dark ruffled shirts, dark velvety capes and cloaks, slim riding pants, and tall black boots, Sylvan, a “vampirate,” will magically perform “Pound” in its entirety alongside legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, keyboardist Roger King, bassist Jonas Reingold, saxophonist/flautist Rob Townsend and drummer Craig Blundell.

“I’ve done more than 500 shows with Steve now, and this is my seventh year with him. But I felt that this tour has been perhaps the most successful tour because people love ‘Selling England by the Pound.’ We go out and do the whole album without any words in between songs,” said Sylvan, a U.S.-born Swedish prog rock singer-songwriter and musician.

“We just play it like you play the record, and I take on these characters, and I do it in my own way. I’m not mimicking Gabriel at all, I do sound a bit similar to him sometimes because of my register. Everyone knows I’m a massive Genesis nut. I always have been, that’s why I got the gig.”

Sylvan, Hackett and the band are currently embarking on a 27-date North American “Genesis Revisited” tour through Oct. 20 and performing “Pound” as well as highlights from Hackett’s popular 1979 album, “Spectral Mornings,” and his latest release, “At the Edge of Light.”

The band previously performed a series of “Genesis Revisited” tour dates in 18 countries in seven weeks and will head back to Europe and the U.S. as well as Australia and New Zealand next year. Their next Michigan stop will be March 4 at The Fillmore Detroit.

Sylvan started touring with Hackett and his band in March 2013 in support of Hackett’s 2012 release, “Genesis Revisited II.” Hackett learned about Sylvan after he released a Genesis-inspired album with Bonamici called “Unifaun” in 2008 and a mutual friend suggested they work together.

“That’s why I did the ‘Unifaun’ album, that was just prestige of Genesis just for the hell of it, and that was long before I got to know Steve. I think that’s partly why I have the gig because he knew that guy sounds authentic, he sounds like a Genesis singer,” said Sylvan, who first saw Hackett perform with Genesis during the 1977 “Wind & Wuthering” tour in Stockholm.

“That’s how he felt about my singing, even though I have the ability to sing more soulful and go different ways with my vocals with different vibratos and what have you. But when I sing Genesis, I just sing it the way I believe I’ve heard them, but I put my own stamp on it.”

Continue reading “Prog Royalty – Nad Sylvan Reimagines ‘Selling England by the Pound’ for Genesis Revisited Tour, Releases Enchanting ‘Vampirate’ Album Trilogy”