Category Archives: Pop

No-Man – “Love You to Bits”

Wow! Eleven years waiting for a new No Man album. Both Tim Bowness and Steve Wilson have been very busy with solo and other projects in the interim. They now return to deliver Love You to Bits, this November 22, 2019.

Can you dance to prog? Well…now you can, when its blended well with electronica, ambient, pop and fusion. Especially when that album “chronicles the aftermath of a relationship from different perspectives”. An album about Love and its affects.

Love You to Bits, is No Man’s seventh album, and possibly its most entertaining. The band is made up of Tim Bowness, the lyrics writer, who also sings lead and harmony vocals; and Steven Wilson, on guitars, keyboards and other instruments. The album was written and produced by No Man .

The band invited guest performers on Love You to Bits, including: Adam Holzman, (from Moonparticle, Steven Wilson, and The Fents), playing keys; David Kollar, from Komara, playing guitars; Ash Soan, from Aviv Gefen, on drums; Pete Morgan, playing bass; and the Dave Desmond Brass Quintet.

“Love You to Bits” opens with some very cool orchestration, and then Tim Bowness’ voice enters the soundscape. One of the best voices in prog, never disappoints. “What are you thinking? What are you dreaming? I’d like to know what’s on your mind”. The keyboards are warm and welcoming. A very danceable beat sets the mood and makes this latest album, by one of my favorite groups, a very accessible creation. At around the 2:54 minute mark, a cool riff that sounds similar to one I remember from Pineapple Thief’s “Nothing at Best”, enters and it is repeated to great effect. Bowness continues to unfold his feelings for a past love before us. The openness and clarity is something we absolutely need in this current state of ‘no contact’ world we live in. Everything seems to be cold and shared over an impersonal Internet. The fact that a human being is expressing feelings so freely is refreshing.

The same open feelings are expressed to different pulses and beats throughout the five songs that make the complete set of side one or “Love You to Bits”. Trance, electronica, ambient, and freely danceable music is used to transmit this wonderful self-expression. Reaching out person-to-person for interaction. Like it used to be. Not over some sanitized cell phone or Internet connection.

The laser cool guitar work and Depeche Mode like keyboards are wonderful. The Dave Desmond Brass Quintet’s closing requiem sound is the perfect punctuation to the end of side one of the album.

“Love You to Pieces”, is the second side of the album and it is also broken into five parts. It opens with gentle flute like sounds, then Bowness sings softly and emotionally. “All of the heartache. All of the signs. All of the waiting. All of the time. All of the things we should have known. I thought of the future”. The gut feeling of a sudden end to a relationship.

This side of the album starts out more subdued, and more questioning of what has happened in the past. There is contemplation of the time spent, and the memories of what will be missed. This is a song of regret for a very dynamic and potent love, not a one-night stand.

On part 2, Bowness uses voice modulation to great effect.

On track 3, we get the powerful lyrics, “It felt like the future”.

On the closing track 5, I got a sense of the rhythm and keyboards I remember from 10CC’s “I’m Not in Love”.

This album, forces the listener to contemplate how much they want to hear those words, “I Love You”? I think it is the Holy Grail that we all seek from birth; and in many different ways. Just to belong to the society we live within, and the world as a whole. Imagine that feeling, set to music. That is what you get with No Man’s latest creation. It also, hopefully, makes you appreciate how important and fragile love is, and to try to preserve it.

Tool might have written the album of this year…capturing the current anti-social climate which has engulfed the world. No Man envisions a return to the feeling of normalcy and caring, which existed before this nationalistic fervor, that has gripped the world. They explore what it feels to be in love and to lose it. Their vision is more expansive and inclusive of more of the Earth’s residents. Their vision transcends time. Both good and bad times. We will always search for love like the Holy Grail. “No Man is an island”, and Love You to Bits may be the greatest affirmation of the band’s origin. After all,…”Love is all we need…”

Please get this album if you have ever loved, wanted love, or dreamed of what it would be like to be in love.

Track List

  1. – 4:53
  2. Love You to Bits (Bit 2) – 1:03
  3. Love You to Bits (Bit 3) – 1:35
  4. Love You to Bits (Bit 4) – 5:15
  5. Love You to Bits (Bit 5) – 4:19
  6. Love You to Pieces (Piece 1) – 6:03
  7. Love You to Pieces (Piece 2) – 4:02
  8. Love You to Pieces (Piece 3) – 3:03
  9. Love You to Pieces (Piece 4) – 2:02
  10.  Love You to Pieces (Piece 5) – 3:44

Love You to Bits was produced by NoMan, and the album was mixed by Bruno Ellingham. Matt Colton mastered the album for Caroline International.

YYNOT – “Resonance”

I found YYNOT’s debut album, released in June of 2018, late in 2018, and reviewed it for another webzine. I was completely surprised, like I bet most fans, when I first heard their live cover of Rush’s “2112 Overture”. I was overwhelmed by the playing which sounded so authentic and close to the sound of one of my favorite bands. However, I was absolutely blown away when I heard the voice of 19-year-old Rocky Kuner, sing Rush’s lyrics almost as well as Geddy himself.

So, to make a long story short, I became a fan and when I heard their new album, Resonance, was already in the works and coming out in 2019, I wanted to be early to the party this time. Resonance, YYNOT’ssophomore release, made it to online stores on September 19, 2019.

In case you are new to the band, like I was last year, YYNOT is made up of Billy Alexander, the band leader, lead guitar player, keyboards player, and backing vocalist; Tim Starace, on bass;
Joel Stevenett, on drums and percussion; Rocky Kuner, on lead vocals; and Tony Morra, on drums, and percussion.

YYNOT, opens the album with a signature instrumental called, “Synergos”. The slow plucked lead guitar at the opening is a nice intro, before Starace’s flowing bass takes the stage.
Joel Stevenett’s drums and rhythm build, and your memories of all those early Rush concerts come back into focus. But there is some wonderful unique chords being played and most importantly indicating that this album will be much different than their debut. This is a more mature band, full of amazing energy.

They follow an intense opener with their first hit song, and probably one that will draw a lot of new fans, “Wildest Dreams”. This song allows Rocky to paint the soundscape with her beautiful voice and fill your ears with her dreams. The video that supports the song is a good look at a band on top of their game. Rocky sings, “So much to do and be counted upon. Sharing all of your heart can never be wrong. But unfolding too much all at once can slip through your hands”. Yes, indeed. “Imagine yourself living your wildest dreams”. Yes, I think she and the band are enjoying that moment…for sure.

“Bully”, can be interpreted many ways. I see some inference pointing back to the king on the cover of “A Farewell to Kings”, as well as the current state of political and social affairs around the country and globe. Any bully shades their fear and doubts by attacking or projecting the same fears or doubts on others. Rocky sings, “Words can also strike a blow like a chisel chipping away. A mean streak to feel the need for power over the weak”. Fast moving and accelerating, like early 80s Rush. One of the album’s best. They do intertwine some Rush chords towards the end, but it is a welcomed addition to the mix.

“Future Unknown” is amazing! This will be a live show favorite request…for sure. The lead electric guitar solo at the beginning, along with the sounds of the wind; paint a picture of a desert, or an amazing Montana ‘Big Sky’ afternoon, or maybe, even lazing around in a cornfield in Iowa in the morning. A perfect mood set for Rocky to provide the best lyrics and vocals on the album, “I wish there was something to touch, that could light all of my dreams. If I could trust. Not chained to fears and doubts but set my mind free. How good that would be”. This is her song, their song, and it is as real and authentic as YYNOT this time. The best song on the album for me. For me this, is the song that sets the band apart from being a cover band to hopefully rocketing them into the starshine.

“Open Book”, is the second hit off Resonance and it is a great one. Rocky sings, “Always gonna say how I feel. Never gonna break on a deal. Never fake. Always real”. Yes, if we could all live our lives that way. Good song with a powerful lyric.

“Chemical Burn”, opens with one of those cool Rush-like, electric lead guitar, sword shows. Then powerful bass and drums bounce in for another blistering instrumental. Count this in as another live show favorite.

“She Said I Love the Rain”, is another powerful showcase for Rocky’s vocal. Her feminine influence with this band helps separate YYNOT from all of the other Rush copies, and other rock bands dominating the stage. She balances out the band’s sound perfectly. The band brings the power chords, bass and drums, but Rocky adds the top layer of the cake with her vocals and attitude.

“Heart and Soul”, comes at you full tilt with grinding guitars and drums. Then it settles back as Rocky sings, “Give me a chance to prove my love. All I ever want is to be the one you’re dreaming of”. A good, hard rocker.

“Blind Luck”, opens like most YYNOT songs. But this song has a wonderful surprise, a nice guest violin by Macie Slick. Yes, it will bring back memories of Rush’s “Losing It”, but this is an original composition full of YYNOT’s heart and soul. A powerful moment of glory for this band.

“Precious Time”, has a wonderful wandering electric lead guitar opening with bass added like sprinkled salt or pepper. Just enough to add flavor. Then, Rocky sings, “Such a fine line between drive and ambition. Driving so fast you don’t know what you’re missing. Like a bird in the sky. Or a gentle kiss goodnight”. A great love ballad and solid closer.

Rocky is incredible…but Resonance is excellent! Better than the debut album. The Rush influence is still there, but you can hear more of their own sound on every track. More powerful, tighter playing and excellent songwriting. The musicianship is up to their usual high standards. But with songs like “Future Unknown”, “Open Book”, “Wildest Dreams”, and “She Said I Love the Rain”, the band is building its own catalog of memorable reasons to come to its shows.

My gut feeling, is that with the debut album, everyone came to the shows to watch and listen to their favorite Rush covers. I bet more fans will show up wanting to hear Resonance songs. Please give this album a spin and I think you will agree.

T rack List

  1. Synergos – 3:10
  2. Wildest Dreams – 4:13
  3. Bully – 4:35
  4. Future Unknown – 3:36
  5. Open Book – 5:01
  6. Chemical Burn – 5:13
  7. She Said I Love the Rain – 4:17
  8. Heart and Soul – 4:02
  9. Blind Luck – 4:48
  10. Precious Time – 5:01

The video that started it all for me: