I started to collect records in 1976 when I was sixteen years old. Well, my first albums was actually Music Cassettes. I bought everything I could find by Bachman Turner Overdrive, Thin Lizzy and 10cc. One of my first vinyl’s was Rush – “All the World’s a Stage” and soon their other albums followed. In the summer of 1977, my family moved to Wisconsin in the US and that’s when my vinyl collecting started to get serious. I found out about new exiting bands like Kansas, Styx and UK as well as older bands like Budgie, Yes, Blue Öyster Cult, Camel, Jethro Tull and many others. Back in Sweden a year later I used to go to a record store on my lunch break where I was introduced to, at the time, more obscure bands like Legs Diamond, Riot, Triumph and so on… My hunger for new music by new bands never stopped and a couple of years later when the NWOBHM exploded soon followed by a stream of exiting new US bands like Savatage and Metal Church I was in Heavy Metal Heaven. I also found lots of new prog bands like IQ, Pallas, Pendragon and of course Marillion. A couple of years on, I had switched from vinyl to CD. Still my search for new bands and music persisted for many years, but sometime around 2002, if I remember correctly, I lost my hunger for exploring new music as well as new bands. As a matter of fact, I listened very little to music for many years, even though I still kept buying records, but I hardly listened to them. I was bored with music, unless I played it myself in Destiny.
I started to enjoy it a little bit more again around 2010 and in early 2012 I finally did something I always wanted to do, I bought new great and expensive speakers for my hifi. What a difference, it was like experience good music for the first time again. So, for the first time in many years I started to really enjoy listening to music. However, my hunger for new music wasn’t back yet, instead I started to go back to the albums I liked in the seventies and even though I still love most of the music I listened to from the later decades and on, I now realize that the way the music was written and recorded in the seventies is for me unparalleled. These days most bands don’t write and record that way. There are some exceptions like for example the latest albums by Styx, Kansas and Deep Purple, but these are old bands. Apart from Opeth, since their change to a more progressive style with clean vocals, I haven’t found any newer bands that write and sounds somewhat like my favorites from the seventies.
At least not until last year when I discovered an American band called Presto Ballet. I had actually heard of them before as the band is led by Metal Church guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof. As huge Metal Church fan I really should have checked them out earlier, especially as I also loved his other band Vanderhoof that played some kind of classic seventies hard rock. The problem was that I could not find their debut album “Peace Among the Ruins” here in Sweden when it was released in 2005, and then I kind of forgot about them as I was in my non listening period. Many years later I got Spotify and for some strange reason about a year and a half ago I come to think about Presto Ballet again and luckily all of their six albums was available there, even though some of them might be ep’s. I had never heard of these albums before, I didn’t even know that the band was still active. I listened a bit and even though they sounded nothing Like Metal Church I immediately decided that I need to buy all there albums as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I could only find “Invisible Places” from 2011 here in Sweden, but when I got it, I really loved it. The style was something like a mix of the most progressive albums by Styx and Kansas as well as a healthy mix of the best British prog bands from the seventies plus some Rush elements as well, but still with a strong enough identity of their own to make it interesting. Almost a year past and I could still not find their albums, not even their latest record “The Days Between” which was released late 2018. Well, some of them are available on the internet, if you have a paypal account, which I don’t, yet…
Anyway, as it seemed impossible to get hold of their albums I decided to check them out for real om Spotify and I was not disappointed. I have not been so impressed with new music since the heydays of Styx and Kansas. This was truly great prog rock with one foot each in the British respectively US prog from the seventies but with the head in the 21:st century. I love it and need to get these albums. Presto Ballet have had three different singers Scott Albright, Ronny Munroe (also in Metal Church for a couple of albums) and current vocalist Chuck Campbell. The latest line up apart from Kurdt and Chuck also features Bobby Ferkovich on Bass, Kerry Shacklett on keyboards and Charlie Lorme on drums. As much as I’m a huge Metal Church fan I think that Presto Ballet is the best Kurdt Vanderhoof band and their latest album “The Days Between” would have been my number one album of 2018 if I had heard it at the time, just ahead of “Damned If You Do” by Metal Church witch was my number One. Kurdt Vanderhoofh is a musical genius.
But wait, there is more. As a bassist I sometimes check out other bassists YouTube channels and sometime last year I stumbled on the excellent Tim Starace whom amongst other things played along with Rush songs, most of the times with my favorite bass Rickenbacker 4001. The amazing thing was that he played along exactly right tone for tone as if it was the easiest thing in the world. He also managed to get the exact right Geddy Lee sound out of his basses. This intrigued me so much that I started to subscribe to his channel. Not long after that, You Tube started to recommend videos by a band called YYNOT. As I had never heard of them, I just ignored them until one time when it said that the song on one of their videos was a Rush like instrumental. That made me curious and I clicked on the video and man, was I impressed. This sounded almost exactly like Rush and soon I started to check out their other videos. There was tons of Rush live covers and they really played them well. It turned out that Tim Starace was their bass player and just as he managed to play and sound like Geddy Lee, the guitarist Billy Alexander and the drummer Joel Stevenett does the same with Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart respectively. There was also a female singer, Rocky Kuner, to round out their lineup. She doesn’t sound like Geddy Lee, but close enough to manage the Rush covers with ease.
Soon I realized that they also played original material and that they had released two albums, the self-titled “YYNOT” from 2018 and “Resonance” from 2019. Unfortunately, the problem was the same as with Presto Ballet, I could not find these albums in Sweden and still don’t have a PayPal account to order the albums from the band’s homepage. But thankfully both their albums are available on Spotify and this time I didn’t wait. I checked them out directly. The first album is really good, and the Rush influences are very prominent. Sometimes you can really hear what riff and from what song influenced them without ever being a rip off. The first album is very good, some of the songs are more that great! The second album is even better, it’s actually amazingly good. The Rush influences are still prominent, but their own style is more present here. The sound is also still very much in the style of Rush, which I think is great as I love that sound as much as I like the music of Rush. Ok, once again, this is not a Rush rip of, it’s a band that is very influenced by Rush but still developing their own style and I love it. Actually, I love it so much that I put “Resonance” as the number one album on my list of the best albums from 2019, and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next time!
So, there you go, if you like me miss the craftmanship of the music and the musicianship of the seventies rock on new recordings you should definitely check out Presto Ballet and YYNOT, and I should definitely get a PayPal account…
Presto Ballet on Spotify
YYNOT on Spotify