Noise Floor by Spock’s Beard
2018, InsideOut Music
It’s always good to see your face my friend
I guess I’ll get the 8A angle out of the way first and say that Spock’s Beard is a four-person progressive rock band from California with a Japanese keyboard player named Ryo Okumoto.
Spock’s Beard released its thirteenth studio album on May 25, the same day Meiko dropped her beautiful covers album. It’s the first of the band’s albums without an official drummer — the drummer on the previous two albums, Jimmy Keegan, left to pursue other interests, so original timekeeper Nick D’Virgilio returned to play on this recording as a guest, ‘though he’s not an official member of the band.
Following the grand design
Disc 1: Noise Floor
Disc 2: Cutting Room Floor
I’ve been unable to find album credits! I’m especially annoyed by this because I pre-ordered the double CD from Amazon, and I think there was a problem with the discs because although the album is streamable and downloadable, the disc mailout was pushed back to June 15. I am freaking irritated by this.
Vocals: Ted Leonard
Guitar: Alan Morse
Keyboards: Ryo Okumoto
Bass: Dave Meros
Drums: Nick D’Virgilio
And probably lots of other cool musicians I don’t know about, including (I suspect) founding lead singer Neil Morse.
I’m alive to breathe another day
Last week, I said I think the new Meiko album is my second-favorite album of the year. I said second-favorite because I’d already listened to this one. As much as I love this band (and I reeeeeally love this band), I thought the last couple of albums were pretty forgettable. It pains me to say that although I purchased them as soon as they were available, I pretty much never listen to them.
I’ve listened to Noise Floor at least ten times through already. Honestly, I can’t get enough of it. It has an incredibly warm, sunny, joyful spirit, as if the guys had been forbidden to play their instruments for ten years and finally picked them up again just for this recording. Lyrically, there’s definitely a thread running through the album about surviving and thriving, and I’m totally here for it. Solos on pretty much every instrument are sweeping and grand, technically as interesting as they’ve always been, but this time they sound like they’re playing for the clouds to open up and the sun to shine down on only them.
There isn’t an uninteresting moment on the actual album (disc 1). The bonus EP (disc 2) is pretty flat and really adds nothing to the overall feel of the album, except “Bulletproof” which is quite good. I can’t figure out why this one’s not on the full album; it fits right in. Give the “To Breathe Another Day” video a chance, and if you find it intriguing, spin the whole album. It’s music to make your brain and heart feel great.
No need to seek redemption
Best song: “To Breathe Another Day”
2nd best song: “Somebody’s Home”
Song that’ll make you say “wuh?”: “Have We All Gone Crazy”
Song to listen to with headphones while riding Space Mountain: “One So Wise”
Song for the second ride on Space Mountain: “Box of Spiders,” the only instrumental.
Best lyrics: I’ll have to get back to this when I finally get my CDs in the mail.
Best moment: Oh man, the bass playing behind the guitar and keyboard solos in “To Breathe Another Day” beginning at 3:33 is sweet. Meros is ferocious on this album.
Rating: 8/10. A high 8/10.
All the planets
also this pretty cool song, “Godzilla vs. King Ghidarah” from one of Okumoto’s solo albums.