The Whizpops Make A Splash On Sea Blue Sea

Courtesy:  Stretch McCoy Records

Courtesy: Stretch McCoy Records

The Whizpops get *ahem* two fins up for the band’s latest full length album Sea Blue Sea.  The third full length release from the band, it follows much the same trend as the band’s previous releases in presenting one clear and specific theme.  The band’s 2012 debut was science themed.  Its 2013 follow-up Adventures of Stretch Mc Coy took listeners on a camping trip into the woods.  And now on its third album in as many years, the band—Kevin Cashman (guitar/vocals), Casey Schaefer (guitar/vocals/ukulele), Steve Kalling (upright bass), Margie Cates (vocals), Daniel Kiely (drums/timbales), and Keaton Wilson (piano/keyboards)—takes listeners on a journey into the deep blue sea, as inferred by the album’s title.  This collection of songs is a joy for listeners of all ages.  And it is so for a number of reasons.  It isn’t just an album with songs about undersea life.  It’s more than that.  It teaches marine science at the most basic of levels through each song.  It also teaches the importance of the preservation of the world’s oceans.  Rounding out the entire presentation is its various musical stylings.  From start to finish, each song presents to listeners a different style of music which also expertly complements the songs in question.  Case in point is the album’s opener ‘Coral Reef.’  Its easygoing, poppy vibe, makes one fee like one is taking a trip, cruising around just beneath the waves as the band’s members sing about the different life that lives on a coral reef.  And then there is the even more laid back, Jack Johnson style ‘Manatee’ that makes visualizing the cows of the sea gently swimming along.  And the album’s closer ‘Octopus’ has almost as many movements and musical styles as there are arms on an octopus itself.  It’s the perfect way to close out an album that is a sleeper hit in the race for the year’s best new children’s albums.

Sea Blue Sea’s opener ‘Coral Reef’ is a great way for the band to re-introduce itself to audiences. The song’s easygoing, poppy vibe leaves audiences feeling like they are taking a trip just beneath the waves. All the while, they are learning about the ecosystem of the coral reef and why they should take care of the world’s reefs. Cashman raps (yes, raps) on this track, “Yo/The coral/They got/These creatures/Inside ‘em/Growin’ in clear water/So the sunlight can find ‘em/They help change color/And turn sunlight into food/So to say the least/They’re incredible dudes/Please don’t stress ‘em out/With pollution and heat…Without the coral reef/The ocean ain’t complete.” There are mentions throughout the song of how coral reefs interact with the animals around them and vice versa. Those mentioned interactions between the reefs and ocean life in general paint a clear picture of the importance of coral reefs. And that picture is painted in a manner that avoids any preaching. The ability of Cashman and company to avoid that preaching set alongside the song’s catchy yet relaxing musical vibe makes even clearer the reason that this song was chosen as the opener for Sea Blue Sea. It makes the song even more fun for audiences of all ages, too. Altogether it makes ‘Coral Reef’ not just a great way to open this album but a great addition to the album in whole.

‘Coral Reef’ is both a great song and a great way to open Sea Blue Sea. It is just one of so many songs that make this album so fun for audiences. That fun, easygoing vibe continues in the album’s second song ‘Manatee.’ Any older audiences that are familiar with Jack Johnson will appreciate this piece in which Cashman sings about the life of a manatee. The gentle, flowing waves set against Steve Kalling’s upright bass in the song’s opener instantly establish the song’s positive vibe. Cashman’s Jack Johnson style vocals and Casey Schaefer’s ukulele fill out the song and complete it. The picture painted by the band is so vivid as Cashman outs himself in the vantage point of the manatees, singing, “Well this warm/Water’s just right/For me/For me/Beneath the mangrove trees/Swain’ side to side/For me/For me/Down here/Swimmin’ with my friend/We kinda look like cows/With no legs/The shallow sea/Only place to be/A manatee.” Audiences can so easily close their eyes and see manatees slowly swimming along in their aquatic habitats. Anyone that has ever seen footage of them or even seem them in the flesh know how pleasant a sight this is. Just as with the album’s opener, such a sight drives home the importance of protecting such sea life and its habitat. And it does so yet again without even the slightest hint of preaching. It’s just one more reason that audiences of all ages will appreciate Sea Blue Sea.

‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Manatee’ are both wonderful examples of what makes Sea Blue Sea a wonderful new release from The Whizpops. The band shows both a certain pop sensibility and the ability to reach audiences without preaching to them unlike so many other acts with this album. The band expertly balances that pop sensibility and sense of environmental awareness throughout the course of its new album right up to the album’s closer. That song, ‘Octopus,’ finishes off the album just as well as ‘Coral Reef’ opens the album. It is a three-movement piece that outlines the daily life of an octopus. The song features an ABA format that opens and closes with a reggae sound and is centered with an upbeat, Latin-tinged bridge of sorts. Not only does the band exhibit a pop sensibility here, but it also exhibits a full knowledge of and appreciation for basic musicianship, too. The band blends the two completely different sounds seamlessly. The end result is a song that while it may not have as many arms as an octopus, is still a great closer for an album that will make a *ahem* splash (pun fully intended) with any listener and critic that (here’s another one) dives in.

Sea Blue Sea will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th in stores and online. The Whizpops will hit the road beginning this Saturday, August 23rd in support of its new album. Audiences can pick up the band’s new album at those shows, as well as online and in stores. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now at http://www.thewhizpops.com. More information on The Whizpops’ new album, tour, and more is available online via both the band’s official website and its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/thewhizpops. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release New Eric Clapton Tour Documentary

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Eric Clapton’s new tour documentary this fall.

Planes, Trains, And Eric will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 4th.  The film documents Clapton’s 2014 tour through the Middle East and Japan.  It features both documentation of his tour and thirteen full-length performances.  There are also interviews with Clapton and his band mates during rehearsal, soundcheck and even in the course of travelling from venue to venue.  On board for the ride on Clapton’s 2014 tour were: Paul Carrack (Hammond organ & vocals), Nathan East (bass/vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Michelle Jordan (backing vocals), Shar White (backing vocals), and legendary drummer Steve Gadd (drums).  The complete listing of songs performed in this documentary is noted below.

TRACK LISTING:

1) Tell The Truth

2) Pretending

3) Crossroads

4) Driftin’

5) I Shot The Sherriff

6) Little Queen Of Spades

7) Layla

8) Wonderful Tonight

9) Key To The Highway

10) Before You Accuse Me

11) Tears In Heaven

12) Cocaine

13) Hoochie Coochie Man

14) High Time (Credits – Audio Only)

 

The documentary will retail for SRP of $19.98 on Blu-ray and $14.98 on DVD.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  More news and updates from Eric Clapton is available online at http://ericclapton.com, http://www.myspace.com/ericclapton, and http://www.facebook.com/ericclapton.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Set It Off Announces Release Date, Track Listing For New Album

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off will release its new album this fall.

Duality, the latest full length studio release from Tampa, Florida’s own Set it Off will be released Tuesday, October 14th via Equal Vision Records.  Front man Cody Carson explained in a recent interview the root of the album’s title noting that it has to do with the two sides that each person possesses.  “I’ve always been borderline obsessed with the notion of duality. Something about the juxtaposition of two polar opposites seems so vulnerable and blatantly human to me,” he said.  Everyone has two sides, the side they let people see and the side they hide. In this record I decided to bare exactly who I am and what I go through in my day to day life. Love, heartbreak, sex, alcohol, happiness, sadness, anger, the human experience. I want you to hear this record and experience every human emotion you’re capable of feeling,”

Carson expanded on that train of thoughts, explaining how that thought pattern played a role in hwo the songs on this album came to life.  “It’s not just the lyrical content that represents duality,” he said. “The instrumentals portray it as well. You’ll hear dark, minor verses that transition to bright, happy choruses. Just like our lives, the great involuntary, impulsive non-stop roller coaster ride. I’m sick of fake people and watching them skate by with the idea that it’s okay to put on an act to gain confidence and trust in their peers. Allow me to be the first to tell you this about myself: I am good, I am evil. I am solace, I am chaos. I am human, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. Be human with us and show us your true duality.”  Duality’s track listing is noted below.

TRACKLISTING
Duality
1. The Haunting
2. N.M.E.
3. Forever Stuck in Our Youth
4. Why Worry
5. Ancient History
6. Bleak December
7. Duality
8. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing ft. William Beckett
9. Tomorrow ft. Jason Lancaster
10. Bad Guy
11. Miss Mysterious

In anticipation of Duality’s release, Set It Off teased the album with the premiere of a clip from the video for the single ‘Why Worry,’ which is one of the songs included on the upcoming LP.  That clip can be viewed now here. The band is also currently touring in support of Duality ahead of its release.  It is currently touring alongside Heartist, Our Last Night, and Stages & Stereos.  It will hit the road with Black Veil Brides, and Falling in Reverse beginning October 21st on the “Black Mass 2014 Tour” presented by Hot Topic.  That tour includes a stop at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

TOUR DATES:
Set It Off and Our Last Night w/Heartist and Stages & Stereos
Aug 13 Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock at House of Blues
Aug 14 Fort Worth, TX @ Tomcats West
Aug 15 Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
Aug 16 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Aug 17 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
Aug 22 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall+

+ OLN 10 Year Anniversary Show: Our Last Night and Set It Off w/Class of 92 (Matt Arsenault of A Loss For Words), Heartist and Stages & Stereos

Black Veil Brides w/Falling In Reverse and Set It Off
Oct 21 Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids Theatre
Oct 22 Columbus, OH @ The LC Pavilion
Oct 24 St. Paul, MN @ Myth
Oct 25 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Oct 27 Denver, CO @ The Fillmore Auditorium
Oct 30 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
Oct 31 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee Theatre
Nov 01 Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre
Nov 03 San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
Nov 05 Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Nov 07 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
Nov 08 Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House
Nov 09 Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
Nov 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
Nov 12 Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
Nov 14 Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
Nov 15 Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
Nov 16 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
Nov 17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Nov 19 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Nov 21 Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
Nov 22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
Nov 23 New York, NY @ Best Buy Theater
Nov 26 Portland, ME @ State Theatre
Nov 28 Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
Nov 29 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
Dec 02 Louisville, KY @ Expo Five
Dec 03 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
Dec 04 Orlando, FL @ House Of Blues
Dec 05 Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
Dec 06 Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
Dec 08 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Orbit Room
Dec 09 St Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Dec 11 Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center
Dec 12 Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom
Dec 13 San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
Dec 15 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater

Fans can keep up with the latest tour updates and news from Set It Off online at http://www.facebook.com/setitoffband, http://www.myspace.com/setitoff, and http://twitter.com/setitoff.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wovenwar Impressive In Its First Week

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Good news for Wovenwar.

Wovenwar’s self-titled debut for Metal Blade Records has debuted at #36 on Billboard’s Top 200. The news is just as good for the album’s debut online and overseas. It peaked online in the #2 spot on iTunes’ rock chart and the top spot on the online music service’s metal chart in the album’s first week of release. Overseas, Wovenwar debuted at #41 on the German Top 100 Media Control album charts. These numbers come on the heels of the debut of the video for the band’s new single ‘All Rise.’ That video can be viewed now online at Wovenwar’s Metal Blade Records website, http://www.metalblade.com/wovenwar.

Wovenwar is currently in the midst of a European tour in support of its debut record. The band will be at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Belgium this Friday. That show will be followed by a performance at the ELB Riot in Hamburg, DE Saturday and the X Rockfest in Herford, DE Sunday. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

WOVENWAR on tour:
European Tour
08/15 Hasselt, BE Pukkelpop Festival
08/16 Hamburg, DE ELB Riot
08/17 Herford, DE X RockFest
08/19 Berlin, DE Lido w/ Of Mice & Men
08/21 London, UK Barfly headliner
08/23 Reading, UK Reading Festival
08/24 Leeds, UK Leeds Festival
Tour w/ In Flames, and While She Sleeps
09/27 Krakow, PL Studio Club
09/28 Budapest, HU Barba Negra
09/29 Prague, CZ The Roxy
09/30 Hamburg, DE Grosse Freiheit
10/01 Esch-sur-Alzette, LU Rockhall
10/02 Milano, IT Live Club
10/03 Zürich, CH Komplex
10/04 Lausanne, CH Les Docks
10/05 Trezzo Sull’Adda, IT Live Club
10/07 Madrid, ES LA Rivierea
10/08 Barcelona, ES Sala Razzamatazz
10/09 Zaragoza, ES Zaragoza
10/10 Cenon, FR Le Rocher de Palmer
10/11 Clermont-Ferrand, FR La Cooperative De Mai
10/12 Paris, FR Le Bataclan
10/14 Strasbourg, FR La Laiterie
10/15 Brussels, BE AB H all
10/16 Manchester, UK The Ritz
10/17 Glasgow, UK 02 ABC
10/18 London, UK O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
10/20 Tilburg, NL 013
10/24 Frankfurt, DE Jahrhunderthalle
10/25 Kempten, DE Bix Box
10/26 Leipzig, DE Haus Auensee
10/27 Wien, AT Gasometer
10/29 Berlin, DE Columbiahalle
10/30 Ludwigsburg, DE Arena
10/31 Köln, DE Palladium
11/01 Bochum, DE Ruhr Congress
11/02 Copenhagen, DK Store Vega
11/04 Helsinki, FI Helsingin Jäähalli
11/06 Stockholm, SE Hovet
11/07 Oslo, NO Spektrum Arena Ans
11/08 Gothenburg, SE Scandinavium

More information on Wovenwar’s tour and all of the latest news and updates from the band is available online at http://www.wovenwar.com and http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Adage Could Be North Carolina’s Next Big Name In Music

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Austin, Texas.  Seattle, Washington.  Los Angeles, California. Atlanta, Georgia.  New York, New York.  Most people reading this right now are likely scratching their heads where this is going.  The answer is simple.  The cities noted here are some of America’s biggest hotbeds in the music industry.  They aren’t the industry’s only major hotbeds, though. Most people might not know it, but North Carolina as a whole state is a music hotbed within itself.  As a matter of fact, North Carolina could be argued to be one of the biggest musical hotbeds in America.  That’s because of the variety of major name acts that have called North Carolina home throughout the ages.  Jazz pioneers such as Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, and Max Roach all called North Carolina home as did fellow jazz great Billy Taylor. Taylor hailed from Greenville, North Carolina while Monk and Coletrane came from Rocky Mount and High Point respectively.  The Fabulous Corsairs, which featured famed singer-songwriter James Taylor called Chapel Hill home.  In terms of the world of rock, the world renowned Corrosion of Conformity is still performing and recording today.  As a matter of fact, COC released its latest album earlier this year.  The band calls The Old North State’s capital city Raleigh home.  Delta Rae, which is one of the biggest of North Carolina’s biggest acts today calls Durham home as does indie band Bombadil.  Of course one can’t forget the likes of The Avett Brothers, Parmalee, Between The Buried and Me, or Trioscapes among so many others.  Now another young up and coming band has added its name to that list of bands and artists that have made North Carolina the rich musical hotbed that it is for so many decades thanks to its new EP Defined.  The band’s debut for Pavement Entertainment presents great potential for the Winston-Salem based band even with only a total of five songs.  The songs included on this record exhibit influence from bands such as Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, and to a lesser extent Trapt.  What’s more any of the songs included on this disc could easily be used as a single to promote the band.  That is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opening number ‘Anymore.’  It is just as obvious on the EP’s third and final songs, ‘Hold On’ and ‘By Myself’ respectively.’  ‘Best Of’ and ‘Growing Colder’ are also excellent examples of what audiences can expect from Adage’s new EP.  Collectively, the songs included on this record show Adage as a band that is on the brink of adding its name to the list of North Carolina’s biggest bands and artists.

The members of Adage show why the band is close to becoming another of North Carolina’s most well-known and talked about acts right from the outset of its new EP in the song ‘Anymore’  The song’s agro-rock stlye sound hints at influences both from the likes of Trapt and even Taproot to a slightly lesser extent.  Drummer Alex Hough’s timekeeping in this piece is exception especially considering the polyrhythmic patterns that he handles while keeping time for the band.  And the 1-2 punch of guitarist Luke and vocalist Justin Doyle heightens the song’s energy and emotion as well.  There is a certain furiousness in Doyle’s voice as he sings over the equally driving guitar line, “Everytime you look in my eyes you lie/And tell me everything’s alright/I know you don’t feel it anymore…I hate you/For all you’ve done to me/Some things you never see/And I don’t care.”  Songs about breakups are nothing new to the music industry.  They go back as far as the industry’s own beginnings it would seem.  But those songs that take the high road instead of the depression oh-woe-is-me angle are rather few and far between.  So when angrier, more aggressive pieces such as this one come along, they are a welcome change of pace.  That more aggressive lyrical and musical style that collectively make up this song makes it an instant radio ready song and a good representation of the band’s work on Defined.

As with ‘Anymore,’ ‘Hold On’ is also centered in the standard lyrical theme of relationships.  It also boasts the same agro-rock style that made so many bands in the late 90s and early 2000s fan favorites.  This song absolutely cries “LIVE” because of that sound.  Doyle sings Sorry that I’m not perfect/One day I will be worth it/To you/So hold on/I can’t ever find the right words/For saying nothing is so much worse to you/Hold on/All of this will come together/And I promise you/I promise you/Say goodbye for you.”  This song comes across as the polar opposite to the EP’s opener in that it seems more like his subject here is pleading for a woman to stay around versus the self-assured figure in ‘Anymore.’  He is trying his hardest to convince her to stay.  The musical comparison to the band’s bigger named counterparts only serves to make the song even more entertaining for audiences.  It goes to show the caliber of material the band is presenting here.  And that caliber is high, needless to say.  Together with ‘Anymore’ it makes for even more reason for fans to check out this EP when it drops August 19th.

Both ‘Anymore’ and ‘Hold On’ are good examples of what makes Defined an impressive new release from Adage.  Of the EP’s five songs, though there is still one more example of what makes this release the work that could potentially make Adage North Carolina’s next big name.  That song is the EP’s closer ‘By Myself.’  This song is a good way for the band to have closed out Defined.  It was such a good choice for a closer in that it shows the band’s softer side.  It’s a more melodic piece.  And among the EP’s five songs, it is perhaps the strongest candidate of all for the song that really breaks out the band.  Doyle sings in this song, “I’m crying out/Out for help/I just can’t be by myself/Remember how/How I felt/I just can’t see/By myself/I hear it from all sides/On how I should love you/I can’t make up my mind/On anything I do/Why am I here/Why won’t you just take me home/Why am I here/Why won’t you just leave me alone.”  The guitar breaks that follow the chorus are right up there with the likes of Mark Tremonti (Alter Bridge) and other top named guitarists.  That along with the power in Doyle’s vocals make this song just as fitting a closer as ‘Anymore’ is the opener for the record.  Such a powerful final statement along with the EP’s other noted songs (and the pair not mentioned) seals the deal for Adage and for Defined.  It is the final piece of musical evidence proving why Adage is on the verge of becoming North Carolina’s next big name.

Defined will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 19th via Pavement Entertainment.  Audiences can check out the songs from Defined online now via Adage’s ReverbNation website at http://www.reverbnation.com/adageband while they wait for the EP to drop.  They can also keep up with the band’s latest tour dates through that website and the band’s official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/adageband1.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Phil’s Picks Celebrating The Raskins’ New Album, Tour With Special Giveaway

Courtesy: Miral Records

Courtesy: Miral Records

The Phil’s Picks blog is proud to announce a special giveaway this week. As any classic rock fan knows, the men of Motley Crue are currently out on tour on what is said to be the band’s farewell tour. If it is indeed that last go-round for one of rock’s biggest bands, then what better way for one of rock’s next big names to get its start? New York-based independent rock duo The Raskins is touring as support on the Crue’s tour along with none other than Alice Cooper. In celebration of The Raskins’ debut and its tour with Motley Crue, Phil’s Picks is giving away three free signed copies of The Raskins’ debut self-titled record.

Fans can enter now simply by going to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and hitting the “Like” button and then writing on the page’s timeline, saying they want to be entered for a chance at one of the three remaining copies available for giveaway. Fans can also check out a review of The Raskins’ self-titled debut record from Phil’s Picks right now at the Phil’s Picks blog.

Fans can always keep up with the latest tour updates, news and more from The Raskins on the band’s official Facebook Page and official website. Audiences can also keep up with the latest from the band on the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and blog.

Unbreakable Takes Audiences Back To The 80s On Its New Album

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

German rock band Unbreakable released its new album this week.  The album, Knockout, is a work that will instantly transport listeners back to the days of big rock and even bigger hair.  That musical trip back in time starts right from the album’s outset and trudges on nonstop throughout the eleven tracks that make up this record.  Throughout the course of the album, audiences will hear clear influences from a number of the biggest acts of the 80s including names such as: Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Whitesnake among so many others.  From the raucous opener that is the album’s title track to the more subdued sound of ‘In Your Heart’ to the full on rocker  that is ‘Game of Life,’ and more, fans of the 80s rock scene will find plenty to like about this record.

Unbreakable wastes no time on its new album, grabbing its audiences’ ears, and showing them what’s in store from this musical trip back in time courtesy of the album’s title track/album opener.  Front man Al Crespo’s vocals and the talents of his band mates—Martin Ries (guitar), Pascal Alles (guitar), Alex Ries (drums), and Lukas Mittler (bass)—instantly transport listeners back to that age of pomp and bombast in this song, with Crespo singing about having woken up next to a woman he had met the night before, not remembering a thing.  It is classic big rock fare.  Crespo sings in this throwback piece, “Who’s this girl/Next to me/In my bed/I lost my mind/Can’t remember where I’ve been/Just drunk too much/Too much in me/She looks real hard in my face/She demands/She demands me/My head explodes/But I’m happy what I see/She looks real great/She’s a knockout.”  This is classic big hair lyrical fodder at its finest. And there’s plenty more of that to come after this song, too. Case in point, the more subdued ballad-style song, ‘In Your Heart.’

‘In Your Heart’ is a classic 80s style ballad that fits just as well on this record as any of the album’s other songs. Crespo sings in this song, “Wait/Why don’t you come back to me/I’ll love you forever/Don’t leave/There’s some work/I’ll make it right.” His delivery in the case of this song really is what makes the song so powerful. He already proved his prowess on the album’s previous songs. This includes the album’s opener. He shows his ability to really interpret the lyrics and get the most emotion out of the song. That one line is just a tiny part of the song in which he exhibits that talent, too. Of course that isn’t to discount the talents of his band mates. [Martin] Ries and [Pascal] Alles add their own share of emotion to the song. Even drummer Alex Ries’s talents on the drums add their own something extra to the song to make it even more hard hitting. That deep emotion makes this song even more reason for fans of classic 80s style rock and roll to check out Knockout.

Both ‘In Your Heart’ and ‘Knockout’ are prime examples of what Unbreakable has to offer 80s rock fans on its new album. They both show the band’s versatility or lack of better wording. Just as much of an example of that versatility is ‘Game of Life.’ ‘Game of Life’ is more classic 80s style big rock from Unbreakable. The comparison is especially easy thanks to its musical side. Any number of big hair bands could be referenced in terms of this song. Lyrically speaking, it comes across as another song centered on personal relationships. But it comes from a different angle, as audiences will hear. Crespo sings here, “The day begins/I open my eyes/And think of what I can do/For you in life/Never stop giving up on me/I tried to please you/And change my ways/Open my eyes to see/Welcome to the game of life/I’m going to touch your inner light/Welcome to the game of life.” At one point, when Crespo hits the high notes in this song, he actually sounds a little bit like Dream Theater front man James LaBrie. The guitar work of Ries and Alles gives the song something of a Scorpions type of vibe for fans of that band. It’s just one more way that the band impresses audiences of that old school sound with this new record.

The songs noted here are only a few examples of what audiences can expect from Unbreakable’s new record. Anyone that is a true fan of the classic sounds of the 80s will want to check out the rest of this album along with the songs noted here. Knockout is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded now via Amazon and iTunes or at the band’s upcoming shows later this fall. The band’s German fans can also pick up its new album when it performs this November. The band is scheduled to perform live November 1st and 8th in Burgberghalle and Kult respectively. More dates will be announced soon. Fans can keep up with those upcoming tour date announcements and all of the latest news from the band via its official Unbreakable website and Facebook page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog.

 

 

Rock and Roll Purists Will Enjoy Big Engine’s Latest LP

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Jacksonville, Florida-based rock band Big Engine will release its debut record for Pavement Entertainment August 19th. The album, Shot Like a Rocket, is an album that provided it gets coverage from radio programmers, will be rather aptly titled. The fourteen songs that make up this record are a good fit for anyone that is a fan of classic rock from the late 80s and early 90s. Right from the album’s opener ‘Party Like a Rock Star,’ the band will instantly grab audiences with its straight forward, driving sound and equally no nonsense lyrics. The equally rocking ‘Burn It Down’ will have listeners singing and clapping along just as much whether in their living rooms, cars or at the band’s live shows. For all of the energy exuded by Shot Like a Rocket, it also has its more subdued moments. One of the most interesting of those tracks is titled ‘Not Your Fool.’ This track is quite the interesting piece considering the juxtaposition of its searing lyrical content against its more subdued musical side. These songs and the remaining nine not noted here come together to make Shot Like a Rocket a musical ride that any rock and roll purist will enjoy with every listen.

The members of Big Engine give quite the first impression on its Pavement Entertainment debut. ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ is an infectious, full on rock and roll anthem that will be a favorite among audiences whether they’re listening to it in their car or home or singing along with the band’s legions of fans at one of its live shows. The band’s founding members—Tony Mikus and Hans Oellerich—sing about the rock and roll lifestyle here, singing, “I’ve been waiting/For the weekend/To chase these blues away/I’m gonna set my soul in motion/Forget all about these bills I’ve gotta pay/I’m gonna call upon my good friends/Say meet me downtown/No matter where I’m going/It’s time to shake it up/It’s time to get down/I’m gonna sing along/To every song/All night long/Dance on the bar/And play our guitar/And party like a rock star.” This theme of just letting loose after the rigors of the work week is one to which so many people can relate. And who hasn’t wanted to just go all out like that, singing their favorite songs, playing their air guitar? The ability of the band to reach its audiences here both lyrically and musically leaves no doubt that this was the perfect choice for the band’s very first introduction.

‘Party Like a Rock Star’ was a no-brainer for a first impression from Big Engine for its new album. It’s only one of the songs from this record that serves as a solid example of what audiences can expect overall. Another good example of what audiences can expect from this record comes late in the record in the form of ‘Burn it Down.’ This piece has much the same energy as ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ and much the same theme of just letting loose. Mikus and Oellerich sing in this piece, “It’s too late to turn around/Gotta keep my head above ground/Gonna get crazy tonight/No sleep/Runnin’ on adrenaline/I can’t stop/No, I won’t give in/Rockin’ is our policy/And I don’t give apologies/Yeah, we’re gonna party tonight/Well we get a little crazy/And we raise a little hell/then we leave this town/With a story to tell/Gonna raise our mugs/yeah, yeah/We’re gonna drink ‘em down/yeah, yeah/We’re gonna fire it up/We’re gonna burn it down.” This classic lyrical rock and roll theme goes on throughout the remainder of the song. And again, the imagery is classic rock and roll in every way. It would be so easy to see a video companion to this song, with footage of the band out in random bars, playing on stage to huge crowds, etc. Not only that, but it’s just as easy to see this song being as anthemic as ‘Party Like a Rock Star.’ It’s one more of so many songs on this record that any rock and roll purist will enjoy on this record.

Both ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ and ‘Burn It Down’ are good examples of just how much Shot Like a Rocket has to offer audiences. There is one more example of how much this record has to offer audiences in ‘Not Your Fool.’ The song centers on a bad breakup. But the juxtaposition of its lyrics against its musical side is really what makes it stand out. Most songs that are centered on breakups generally have a relatively emotional musical backing. This song is no different in that arena. However, listening to the song’s lyrical side, one can’t help but wonder why the band didn’t option for something more up-tempo, musically speaking, in order to match the song’s searing lyrics. Mikus and Oellerich sing in this song, “You’ll find somebody new/With sympathetic ears/And arms open wide/Yeah someone new to use/Say what they wanna hear/Tear them up inside/And there’s so much I could say/And we could scream and shout/You know I could go on and on but/I’m not your fool anymore/I’ve been there too many times/To pick you up and say/It’s alright this time.” There’s a certain sarcasm and cynicism about these lyrics. And that vibe makes one feel like the song’s musical side should have more power about it. Ironically enough, the more subdued sound that takes its place actually makes it just as impactful. That’s because it creates more of a sense of someone being completely fed up with a certain situation. The end result is a song that has just as much power as any standard breakup song if not more power. That power shows why this song is one more prime example of what makes Shot Like a Rocket an album that any rock and roll purist will enjoy.

Big Engine will release its new album Tuesday, August 19th. In celebration, it already has a handful of live shows scheduled for August. The first of those dates is a two-night stand at The Legendary Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach, FL on August 22nd and 23rd. The band will be in Homosassa, Florida on August 24th and Sanford, Florida on August 31st. Audiences can keep track of Big Engine’s tour schedule and all of its latest news online now via its official website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Reverb Nation page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog.

BLS, Judas Priest Tied For The Top Spot On The Year’s Top New Hard Rock, Metal Albums List

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Zakk Wylde and his Black Label brethren released early this year what is without a doubt one of the year’s most thought provoking albums.  Musically speaking, the album is classic Black Label Society from start to finish.  Lyrically, it proves to be a work that will most definitely have listeners paying close attention.  Those that have already picked up the album’s deluxe edition will understand why.  Throughout most of the course of the album, listeners are presented with songs centered on some rather deep themes.  By the time the album reaches its end in ‘The Nomad’ however, those themes have turned to a more positive light.  And it all starts with the album’s opener, ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  With its mix of heavy guitars and equally heavy lyrics, it makes for quite the opener to the record.  Things eventually take a sharp turn with the equally hard rocking yet rather angry song ‘Damn The Flood’, which seems to see Wylde writing about all the people out there that would try to spit lies as easily as a snake spitting its venom.  By the album’s ultimate end though, the outcome is more positive, with Wylde singing about moving on with life wherever it may lead.  Whether all of these songs came from a personal place or simply as a concept idea, they combine with the album’s musical side to make what is one of the most powerful records that Wylde and his band mates have written to date.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican opens on a powerful note in the form of ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  This first impression from the band is what leads one to wonder if this album is indeed a concept album of sorts or if it came from personal experience.  Wylde sings in this piece, “So you think that it’s over/So you think that it’s done/The fields of unforgiveness never die/They’ve just begun/You thought you’d elude life’s sorrow/emptiness and grief/The oceans of life’s contempt/Drown the liars and the thieves.”  That one line concerning liars and thieves is the center point of this song.  It almost comes across as addressing someone that has done something really bad.  The person in question thinks that he (?) has gotten away with said deed.  But as the chorus notes, it’s never over.  “The fields of unforgiveness never die.”  Such a searing indictment set against an equally hard rocking musical backing makes this song one heck of a first impression from the members of Black Label Society on its latest record.

As hard hitting as ‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ proves to be with its mix of Wylde’s trademark shredding and equally searing lyrics, it isn’t the album’s only heavy piece. Just as heavy and hard hitting is ‘Damn The Flood.’ With its equally driving sludge rock sound and its indictment of the proverbial snakes out there, this song stands out as one of the album’s most powerful moments. Wylde sings against the song’s solid, southern sludge sound, “This flood of snakes/The breeding lies/Existence of unjust/Spewing falsehoods as they crawl/Assassins of one’s trust…Poisoned blood manipulates/The bending of one’s will/Assassins of your sacred words/For trust it shall be killed.” These verses could be applied to so many situations. It could be applied to this nation’s political leaders. It could apply to an everyday basis in terms of those that call themselves friends, only to kill others’ trust once those backs are turned. As pessimistic as the song sounds, it’s actually positive as listeners will note in the song’s chorus. Wylde sings in the song’s chorus of dealing with those people and their evil ways. Yet again, it proves in the end to be one of the album’s best moments with that combination of musical and lyrical heaviness. It shows once more Wylde’s long ago argument that a song can be heavy without being heavy.

Through all of the lyrical and musical heaviness that makes up Catacombs of the Black Vatican, those that have the album’s deluxe edition will note that these is a message that through all of the negativity in the world, one can persevere through it all. He sings in ‘The Nomad’ of facing one’s past but moving on at the same time. As audiences will hear, he sings, “I’ve left the past behind/So much more to see/Like a feather to the wind/Wherever it may lead/Wherever it may lead/Where I’ll never know/For I can’t be tied down/I can hear it call.” He is singing about accepting the past and knowing it’s there, but not letting it weigh down an individual on one’s journey in life. Wylde and company exhibit such talent musically in this song. It isn’t the driving, hard rocker that the previously noted songs prove to be. It is more controlled. That more controlled nature makes this song a fitting end to an album that boasts just as much heaviness in its finale as in its beginning. That solid heaviness from start to finish both musically and lyrically prove why Catacombs of the Black Vatican is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums of 2014.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes here. It can also be purchased at any BLS live show including tonight’s show at the Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news from the band are available online at http://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety and http://www.blacklabelsociety.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wovenwar Debuts New Single

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Wovenwar premiered its new single Monday.

Wovenwar premiered its new single, ‘Profane’ yesterday on the official website of Revolver Magazine. Audiences can stream the video now through the magazine’s now at http://www.revolvermag.com/news/wovenwar-premiere-new-song-profane.html. The single comes from the band’s upcoming self-titled debut record. The album will be released worldwide via Metal Blade Records next Tuesday, August 5th. After checking out the band’s new single, fans can also leave their thoughts on the song in the “comments” section of the site. Fans can also check out two other songs from Wovenwar’s upcoming album—‘All Rise’ and ‘The Mason’—and four In Studio videos filmed by the band through the band’s Metal Blade Records website, http://www.metalblade.com/wovenwar. Fans will get to hear the album in its entirety this Friday, August 1st when the album stream goes live ahead of its release in store and online.

Wovenwar is currently touring in support of its upcoming album alongside Black Label Society. That tour wraps next Monday, August 4th. After that, the band will take a couple of days off before playing a trio of album release shows August 7th and 8th. The third show will be at Phil Sgrosso’s new club, Brick By Brick. Fans that come out to that show will have the chance to hang out with the band, celebrate the album’s release, and even have the chance to win prizes provided by Wovenwar, Metal Blade Records, MotorCult, and Dirtbag Clothing. Fans that attend the band’s August 8th show at Soma can use those ticket stubs to get into the show at Brick By Brick for free. Others get in for five dollars. The Brick By Brick show is a 21+ show. The band will also perform Saturday, August 9th at the famed Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. The full schedule of performances is listed below.

08/07 – Anaheim, CA: Chain Reaction Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: SOMA (side) Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: Brick By Brick – **Wovenwar Album Release Party** Tickets — Here.

If fans aren’t able to make it to any of the shows noted above, they can still catch the band live at the famed restaurant Grill ‘Em All in Alhamba, CA. Details on that upcoming show will come soon. Fans will also get plenty of chances to see the band live as it tours in support of its debut album. It is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour. It will be in Indianapolis, IN tomorrow. That date will be followed with performances in Texas and new Mexico. It all wraps with the band’s upcoming shows in California. After that, the band will take some time to rest before kicking off the European leg of its tour on August 15th at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Germany.

All of the latest tour updates, news and more from Wovenwar is always available online at http://www.wovenwar.com, http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar and http://twitter.com/WOVENWAR. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.