Music Discovery Monday – 11/21/16
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
This week, in a Hard Rock Daddy exclusive, Neal Morse shares the story behind two songs off of The Neal Morse Band’s latest double concept album, The Similitude Of A Dream.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher, Hard Rock Daddy)
THE NEAL MORSE BAND – “The Ways Of A Fool”
If you’re a fan of prog, you’re probably already familiar with Neal Morse from his work with Spock’s Beard, and also with the projects that he’s worked on with drummer Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic and Flying Colors). The Neal Morse Band also features Portnoy on drums, so you might be expecting more prog music this time around. And you’d be right, but with one caveat – The Neal Morse Band has a unique way of creating intricate songs by blending influences from more mainstream rock artists.
“The Ways Of A Fool” makes you stand up and take notice from the first piano notes which come in with precision force. Your mind immediately thinks back classic Queen and Three Dog Night. The vocals kick in with a smooth vibe before yielding to the heavy bottom of the bass and Portnoy’s dynamic drumming. The top-notch vocal harmonies offer a compelling mixture of Queen and ELO. All of this happens within the first minute of the song, so you know that you’re in for an interesting musical journey as the song progresses.
Although “The Ways Of A Fool” ventures off in different directions throughout, it always comes back to the hook that grabs you from the onset. The musicianship is so impressive that you can help but enjoy every deviation. From the ELP-esque keyboard fills to guitar leads that would make Brian May proud, everything works so well together that you start to look forward to each twist and turn.
In an exclusive interview with Hard Rock Daddy, Neal Morse discussed the meaning and inspiration behind “The Ways Of A Fool”…
“This song, actually Bill Hubauer (our keyboard player) had written it about a guy that tied balloons onto his chaise lounge in L.A., so that he could see the fireworks (or something like that). He wound up flying into the LAX airspace, and they had to get helicopters to bring him down. So, he wrote this song, and we had been interested in it for The Grand Experiment album, but we didn’t use it then (thank God). It was always called ‘The Balloon Song,’ so that was kind of where it started.
We had the idea to bring it in on this album. I don’t know how it came up, but it evolved into such a perfect place (I think). It’s such a beautiful thing when everything just falls into place on an album. I adapted the story for when the main character meets a guy who is a worldly wise man. I think that it came out amazing; it’s such a cool piece. It’s a lot of people’s favorite song on the record, and I just couldn’t be happier with it.”
THE NEAL MORSE BAND – “So Far Gone”
Like “The Ways Of A Fool,” “So Far Gone” is also from The Neal Morse Band’s epic double album, The Similitude Of A Dream. Back in the day, long before radio changed in the United States, this song would have made an excellent single in the vein of early Kansas and Styx. While it has its complexities, “So Far Gone” has an even more mainstream rock influence than “The Ways Of A Fool.”
At times, “So Far Gone” will inspire memories of Mountain and Grand Funk Railroad as riffs are enhanced by the cowbell (in a tasteful way, not like Spinal Tap). The vocal harmonies are a thing of sheer beauty. If you have an appreciation for stellar musicianship and production that enhances (rather than sanitizes) music, you’ll be blown away by “So Far Gone.” You know that you’re listening to true professionals when you consider that this is not a band that has a long history together, and the moments of spacing are as musical as the instrumentation.
During the exclusive interview with Neal Morse, he also shared the meaning and inspiration behind “So Far Gone”…
“This song follows ‘The Ways Of A Fool.’ After the character in the story follows the advice of the worldly wise man, he kind of veers off track just a little bit, but as he goes on his way, his trajectory leads him to a dangerous place. When I wrote the song, I was thinking about what it would be like to wake up and think… ‘Man, how did I get here? How did I wind up so far away from where I wanted to be?’ I think that most of us can relate to that.”
ANDY CHEUNG – HRD Music Scout
SUPERJOINT – “Caught Up in the Gears Of Application”
Phil Anselmo and the gang are back with a new Superjoint album in over a decade, Caught Up In The Gears of Application. Their brand of sludge/doom metal is heavy, noisy and slow just like the swamps of New Orleans (if that’s what the swamps of New Orleans sounds like). Fans of the band will appreciate the hardcore influences as well as the traditional sludge sound in the vein of Down and Eyehategod (a welcome return for the ex-Pantera vocalist).
HAMMER OF MISFORTUNE – “Dead Revolution”
Progressive metal meets classic heavy metal in a new album by Bay Area metallers, Hammer of Misfortune. This song (and album) has it all; complicated flashy solos, crazy keyboards (a la Deep Purple) and chugging riffs. The songwriting is spot-on, and the vocal work is amazing. Not just a progressive metal album, Hammer of Misfortune takes it up a notch with an old school classic heavy metal vibe as well.
ROB DELL’AQUILA – HRD Music Scout
JOANOVARC – “White Trash”
Four women come together to form Joanovarc, delivering new melodic hard rock with that old school sound. They’ve been playing together for roughly a decade, and have now released their debut album, The Ride of Your Life, to much acclaim. Clean vocals dripping with harmony, shredding guitars, and touches of punk and groove make for an album that’s sure to please hard rock fans.
APOLLO – “Revolution For The Brave”
Apostolos “Apollo” Papathanasio is a Swedish vocalist of Greek descent. He has an extensive resume, and is perhaps best known for fronting on four Firewind albums, for his tenure with Time Requiem and, more recently, Spiritual Beggars. He continues amassing a body of amazing material here with his first solo album, Waterdevils.
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com