The Oakland-based Once and Future Band doesn’t shy away from the influence of progressive rock’s legendary forefathers throughout its self-titled debut, with a heavy emphasis on sunny harmonies and ELO/Yes-inflected song structures. Drummer RAJ OJHA navigates the ever-shifting arrangements with a steady hand, rocking out when called upon and even throwing in a half-time shuffle on “Hide & Seek.” Ojha’s understated groove sits perfectly in these tunes (check out his beautiful touch on “Tell Me Those Are Tears of Joy”), and when it’s time to let loose some fills, he surprises you. The drum tones are lively and open as well, so it actually sounds like a live band tracking. (Castle Face)


The Illinois-based band Cheer-Accident has been upending the meaning of progressive rock since the late ’80s, and its eighteenth album, Putting Off Death, is yet another eclectic collection of compositions that defy category. “Language Is” shifts from sullen piano balladry to King Crimson–flavored odd-time dissonance over the course of eleven minutes, while “Wishful Breathing” finds drummer THYMME JONES dishing out a hip syncopated snare and kick pattern straight out of the Can cookbook. Also dig Jones’ playful cymbal work and snare ghosting on “More and Less” for a good idea of how varied the drumming gets. This music is not going to cause any seismic waves on the mainstream charts, but as thinking-person’s fare, it succeeds mightily. (Cuneiform)


Perhaps the most overtly prog-sounding record of the bunch, Edit Peptide finds Minnesota’s Bubblemath straddling the line between aggressive, Dream Theater–style guitar riffage to stuff that hearkens back to ex-Zappa guitarist Mike Keneally’s mid-’90s writing. Drummer JAMES FLAGG owns the million changes of mood and texture in “Routine Maintenance,” whipping out huge tom fills and intricate hi-hat licks without stopping to breathe. The odd-time flam groove opening “Perpetual Notion” gives way to more manic drumming and some double bass, always in service of the song. Flagg has chops galore, but his performance here is a study in how to play complicated music without being over the top…well, most of the time. (Cuneiform)


Carl King’s Grand Architects of the Universe is a concept record that super-prog-heads can geek out to, and there’s no shortage of sci-fi TV-show narration and cartoon lunacy. Ex-Periphery drummer TRAVIS ORBIN provides the main kit work brilliantly throughout the record, keeping everything together in what must have been some long charts, and there are special guest drummers who handle solos on random tracks. With song titles like “Into the Inky Black Nostril of Zorbon” and “The Unexpected Techronicity of the Network Galaxy’s Most Evil of All,” you immediately have an idea of what you’re in for here, and Orbin, plus DAVE ELITCH, MARCO MINNEMANN, MORGAN ÅGREN, VIRGIL DONATI, and MIKE STONE all take turns being wild men, throwing down big rolls and elasticizing the music with metric modulation. (carlkingdom.com)