Petrucci and company are back with a self-titled album that delivers a menagerie of soaring melodies, crushing riffs, and musical prowess.

Dream Theater
Dream Theater
Roadrunner

Born as Majesty in 1985, Dream Theater has been one of the most consistent concept-rock bands of its generation. In fact, somewhere in South Dakota, the DT logo is probably very precisely carved in the “Rushmore of Prog.” After 2010’s much-publicized breakup with founding drummer Mike Portnoy—a huge creative force in the band since its inception—the group's 12th studio album is aptly self-titled, as it revisits DT's roots and offers the first listen to the band's writing with new drummer and rhythm heavyweight Mike Mangini.

Dream Theater> delivers a menagerie of soaring melodies, crushing riffs, and musical prowess. John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keys), and newcomer Mangini provide a sonic buffet of classic forms. Petrucci’s meticulous, ultra-tight tone is flawless throughout, matched by Myung’s usual inventive fingerings. A whirlwind of heavy, arpeggiated duals and time-signature changes drives the mesmerizing “The Enemy Inside” and “Enigma Machine.” And James LaBrie’s vocals and the tight melodic rock on the radio-ready “The Looking Glass” will have early DT fans dreaming of 1992’s Images and Words. The acoustic-guitar-driven middle section in “Surrender to Reason” recalls 1997’s Falling into Infinity, and Rudess’ virtuosic piano arrangements are as stunning as ever in “The Bigger Picture.”

Throw in the multi-movement opening and closing tracks that venture from padded-out synths and strings to thrashing metal, as well as the 22-minute epic “Illumination Theory,” and you’ve got all the makings of an archetypal Dream Theater album. Oh, and for those who feared Mangini couldn’t fill Portnoy’s big shoes, rest easy: Throughout Dream Theater, he displays formidable technique, while also adding a new flavor that promises to help keep faithful fans headbanging for years to come. —Luke Viertel

Must-hear tracks: “The Looking Glass,” “Illumination Theory”

How jangle, glam, punk, shoegaze, and more blended to create a worldwide phenomenon. Just don’t forget your tambourine.

Intermediate

Beginner

  • Learn genre-defining elements of Britpop guitar.
  • Use the various elements to create your own Britpop songs.
  • Discover how “borrowing” from the best can enrich your own playing.
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When considering the many bands that fall under the term “Britpop”–Oasis, Blur, Suede, Elastica, Radiohead’s early work, and more–it’s clear that the genre is more an attitude than a specific musical style. Still, there are a few guitar techniques and approaches that abound in the genre, many of which have been “borrowed” (the British music press’ friendly way of saying “appropriated”) from earlier British bands of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.

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"'If I fall and somehow my career ends on that particular day, then so be it," Joe Bonamassa says of his new hobby, bicycling. "If it's over, it's over. You've got to enjoy your life."

Photo by Steve Trager

For his stylistically diverse new album, the fiery guitar hero steps back from his gear obsession and focuses on a deep pool of influences and styles.

Twenty years ago, Joe Bonamassa was a struggling musician living in New York City. He survived on a diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and ramen noodles that he procured from the corner bodega at Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. Like many dreamers waiting for their day in the sun, Joe also played "Win for Life" every week. It was, in his words, "literally my ticket out of this hideous business." While the lottery tickets never brought in the millions, Joe's smokin' guitar playing on a quartet of albums from 2002 to 2006—So, It's Like That, Blues Deluxe, Had to Cry Today, and You & Me—did get the win, transforming Joe into a guitar megastar.

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