Kurtzman-Counter’s Miles Books Are Excellent Teaching Tools For Parents, Educators

Courtesy:  The Mother Company

Courtesy: The Mother Company

Raising children is one of the biggest challenges that anyone will face in their lives.  This critic is learning that every day being the parent of a toddler.  Other more experienced parents will agree with this statement, too.  It is a challenge because parents themselves have to find inventive ways to keep children’s attention and to reach them on their levels without really talking down to them at the same time.  Thankfully, there are any number of tools and methods for parents in their efforts to do just that.  Some of those tools and methods work relatively well.  While others not so well, obviously.  Last month, a company known as Ruby’s Studio released a pair of books for parents, children and educators that every parent and educator will find quite useful and effective and that will relate to every child.  Simply put, the books—Miles is the Boss of His Body and When Miles Got Mad—are two very effective tools in raising children both at home and in an educational setting.  The central reason that both books are such impressive tools is the fact that they are books.  In an age when even children are being groomed to be part of a digital world, it’s nice to know that some out there still believe in the physical object.  Also worth nothing is that the books have been written in such fashion as to easily reach young readers.  Audiences will also appreciate the look of the books.  Their look is very similar to a series of books written by another very well-known author of children’s books.  All three factors noted here work together to make both of these books works that prove to be just as valuable in the home as in an educational setting.

 

Parents and teachers today have so many tools and resources at their disposal for teaching children.  From CDs and video games to play computers for kids, there are so many options.  Parents and educators will note that each of those tools prepares children to be part of an increasingly digital world.  Yes, there are still books out there for children.  But increasingly those books are becoming rarer or they are moving more towards the realm of e-readers and tablets.  Some schools out there don’t even use textbooks anymore.  They have been replaced by either students or teachers with tablets and online learning.  Even parents are increasingly being encouraged by the big tech companies to teach their children using the latest, hottest tech tool.  It’s really disheartening.  So both books (and Ruby’s Studio) win major marks for this factor alone.  Children need to know what true, physical books are versus just having a cold, battery operated object in their hands, staring at a monitor all the time.  Hopefully within the context of this aspect, Ruby’s Studio won’t fall victim to that trend and will remain a company that releases books in physical form only.

 

Courtesy:  The Mother Company

Courtesy: The Mother Company

The fact that Ruby’s Studio has made both books available in physical form is the key aspect to why parents and educators alike will appreciate them.  That is parents and educators that are not afraid of using a physical book over the digital object.  Examining both books on a closer level, they have been crafted in a way that makes their topics easily accessible to young audiences.  The topics in question are themselves extremely important.  The first of the books discusses people putting their hands on children.  It lets children know that it is okay for them to set limits on how people touch them.  It goes on to let kids know that it’s okay to tell people that they don’t like to be touched one way or another.  The other book focuses on children’s feelings.  More specifically, it touches on their feelings of frustration and anger.  It emphasizes to young audiences that they should use their words instead of using their actions.  The manner in which these topics are covered makes them easily accessible for those younger audiences.  Miles and Max look and do things that any kids do.  And they aren’t in some magical land.  They are placed in real world settings.  There aren’t lots of words involved, either.  What words are used are simple enough for younger readers to grasp.  So Kurtzman-Counter has actually established a way to keep the attention of her readers and make the concepts being discussed easy to understand.  It’s a double whammy in the best way.  It means an increased chance of these topics really sinking in with kids.  Any parent or educator will admit that it takes a lot to really get certain topics to sink in with children.  Kurtzman-Counter has found one of the best ways to do so in a long time with these presentations.  It’s one more aspect of the books that makes them an important tool whether at home or a given educational setting.

 

The accessibility that Kurtzman-Counter’s books offers  her young readers is something that so many children’s authors overlook.  Believe it or not, there are some authors of children’s books that make valiant attempts to reach this audience or that.  In some cases they do succeed.  But in just as many cases, the end result is a product that is far too broad in its attempt to reach as many audiences as possible.  In turn, said book(s) present topics that only children of certain ages will grasp and enjoy.  These two books are the polar opposite.  They are a couple that succeed in entertaining and reaching children anywhere from ages three to five and maybe even six.  The fact that these topics have been broached in physical books makes them even more enjoyable.  While both aspects of Kurtzman-Counter’s books are equally important in their overall success and enjoyment, one factor remains to be noted.  That final factor is their look.  Anyone that is familiar with the work of fellow author Mo Willems will recognize the look of his Knufflebunny books in these books.  It presents young Miles as a hand drawn figure set against real life pictures as backgrounds.  This is exactly the same format used by Willems and his publishing company in the Knufflebunny books.  Whether or not the appearance of that influence was intentional, it is visible.  And it serves as even more reason for audiences of all ages to check out these books.

 

Samantha Kurtzman-Counter’s children’s books based around her fictional character Miles and his brother Max are wonderful resources for parents and teachers alike. Both books by themselves offer plenty of reason for them and younger readers alike to appreciate and enjoy them. Collectively, their positives—noted above—make both books all the more valuable whether they are used at home or in an educational setting. Both books are available now and can be ordered online http://www.rubysstudio.com/. More information on these books and others from Ruby’s Studio is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.RUBYsStudio.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheMotherCompany

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheMotherCo

 

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Amaranthe’s Latest LP Is Massively Addictive

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Euro/Industrial metal act Amaranthe released its latest full length studio effort this week.  Massive Additctive, the band’s third album is as many years is one that will impress audiences in its own right regardless of their familiarity with the band.  Anyone that is a fan of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and the ilk will enjoy this record from start to finish.  The combination of the band’s bombastic, old school shredding and solos, precision drumming, and the  vocal talents of the band’s co-vocalists make this a record that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear at least once.  The songs’ lyrical content is just as important as their musical sides, too.  All things considered, the combination of each song’s music and lyrics makes Massive Addictive one of the best of the underground rock and metal community this year.

Audiences that are familiar with the sound established by Amaranthe on its first two records will appreciate that said sound is just as prevalent on this record.  What makes this latest full length effort worth the listen regardless of one’s familiarity with the band is the introduction of more and varied electronic elements.  The album’s mix of keyboards, sampling and other electronic elements show a certain amount of growth from the band this time out. That is evident right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘Dynamite.’  This aptly titled song is a fitting opener for Massive Addictive as it launches the album with the furiousness and energy of a keg full of dynamite.  Yes, that was a cheesy cliché.  But hey, it works, right?  The song opens explosively with that electronic/keyboard mix alongside the solid guitar work of Olof Morck.  The influence of other Gothenburg bands such as In Flames and Soilwork in Morck’s performance.  The juxtaposition of Elize’s clean vocals to the screams of co-vocalist Henrik add even more intensity to the song.  The song’s lyrical content matches its energy quite well.  The vocalist pair Light the fuse/See the sign/Unbalanced heart/I’m in my prime/Get out of here while there is still time/I’m reaching overload/I’m going right on top/While you abide my dynamite.”  The message here is pretty clear. This is someone holding in a lot and getting ready to burst.  If that’s not proof enough, then consider the song’s second verse, in which Henrik screams, “No excuse/Break the bonds/A gasp of air/My will is strong/Get out of here/My mind is futile/I’m just a statuette/Without a timer set/While I apply my dynamite.”  This is someone that has a lot of pent up frustrations, it would seem.  And the song’s energy seems to present that message, too when set alongside such lyrical content.  If that interpretation is correct, then such combination makes this song an even more powerful opener for the band’s new album.  That’s because everybody has reached that breaking point and ready to blow.  Having a song such as this to which people can relate could serve to help diffuse that proverbial dynamite lit inside them.

‘Dynamite’ is a strong starter for Amaranthe on its new album.  It’s just one of so many examples of why audiences new and old alike will enjoy this record.  Another example of why audiences will enjoy this record is the album’s latest single ‘Drop Dead Cynical.’  This song comes across as the polar opposite of sorts from the album’s opener with Elize singing, “I need attention/Feed my addiction/I want the action/The satisfaction/You have to feed me/Worse that I inquire/So my discord someday takes me higher.”  While it comes across metaphorically, the message seems relatively clear here.  If this critic’s interpretation is right, that line alone describes the type of person that is full of himself or herself.  That same person has nothing to spread except for negativity.   Henrik’s response to this declaration is a powerful retort. He screams in response, “I hope to thrill you that expectations rise/I want to bring you/So that you can compromise/I’m coming at you like a killer now/So it’s the truth/You are drop dead cynical.”  That is a pretty strong response.  Everybody has met someone like the subject of this song.  There may be people even now that know someone like that.  If so, this song is a great way to deal with said person(s) without screaming at them or worse.  To that extent, it makes for another great positive to this record.

Massive Addictive’s opening tracks make for a solid first impression from Amaranthe on the band’s latest album.  As impressive as those two songs prove to be, the album’s title track proves to be one of its best.  On a side note, the song’s musical side actually bears a slit resemblance to the chorus of Imagine Dragons’ hit single ‘Radioactive.”  The song’s lyrical content aside, what really makes this song such a hit is its musical side.  The bombastic, old school style guitar solo is there alongside Morten’s drumming drive the song.  Elize’s hypnotic vocals and Henrik’s own vocal assault are not to be discounted here, either.   Lyrically, it is certain to create some discussion especially taking into account the song’s infectious chorus.  Elize sings in the song’s chorus, “Massive addictive/And suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide/Scared of losing my mind/Massive addictive/I’m totally completely afflicted/As I inspire the lie like a lullaby/Crawling around in my mind.”  On the surface one would think that the song makes no bones as to its lyrical topic.  It sounds like it is being taken from the standpoint of someone fighting addiction.  Elize singing “Suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide” sounds like what someone might feel in getting that high from whatever drug.  “Scared of losing my mind…I’m totally completely afflicted” sounds like the psychological and emotional effect of said high.  Again, this could be a completely incorrect interpretation of this song.  If it is indeed incorrect, it would definitely be wonderful to hear the story behind the song.  The very fact that it could garner so much discussion is itself reason that audiences will enjoy this song.  The addition of the song’s soaring musical side makes it even more enjoyable and proves why this is perhaps the best of the album’s songs overall.

The songs noted here each make Massive Addictive enjoyable in its own way.  As enjoyable as they are, the album’s other songs not noted here should not be discounted.  At no one point does Massive Addictive fail listeners.  Every one of the album’s dozen total tracks makes this album enjoyable in its own way.  That is something difficult to say about most albums today regardless of genre.  So for Amaranthe to have crafted an album that shines from start to finish shows that this album is just as enjoyable as anything released by the band’s bigger-named counterparts across Europe.  That being the case, Massive Addictive proves in the end to be an album that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear and an album that is one of the best in the underground metal community this year.

Amaranthe is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour in support of Massive Addictive.  The band’s audiences overseas will soon enough get to experience the songs from this album live.  They will even get to pick up the band’s new album at the band’s upcoming tour dates.  In the meantime, the band’s North American audiences can pick up Massive Addictive in stores now.  Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule and keep up with its latest updates now online at:

Website: http://www.amaranthe.se

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmarantheBand

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.

Shout! Factory Gets “Weird” This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

A little more than twenty-five years ago, a little comedy by the name of UHF took the world by storm. The movie starred famed quirky comedian and satirist Weird Al Yankovic and a then unknown Michael Richards (Seinfeld). Just over a quarter of a century later, that cult hit flick will see the light of day again when Shout! Factory re-issues the movie on Blu-ray next month.

Shout! Factory will re-issue UHF on Tuesday, November 11th. As bizarre as the movie is, its premise is actually a relatively solid sticking point. It centers on a small time TV station facing off against a corporate giant in its attempts to keep from being bought out and shut down. In his attempt keep the station from being shut down, George Newman (Weird Al) enlists the help of his friends to put on a giant fundraiser that involves some of the wildest programming that anyone has ever seen. Among those friends is Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards).

UHF will be available on DVD Tuesday, November 11th. It can be pre-ordered online now via Shout! Factory’s website at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-comedy/uhf-25th-anniversary-edition. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

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, 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.

MST3K Vol. XXXI Is An Early Thanksgiving Treat For Classic Film Fans

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is bringing audiences quite a tasty treat of a classic series next month.

Shout! Factory will release Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIThe Turkey Day Collection on Tuesday, November 25th. The box set’s release is a doubly good thing since it won’t interfere with the annual traditions of watching football and eating lots of food. Though, it could start its own tradition of taking in some of the movie industry’s biggest turkeys each year around Thanksgiving. Speaking of those cinematic turkeys, the movies included in this year’s Thanksgiving special are: Jungle Goddess, The Painted Hills, The Screaming Skull, and Squirm.

Just as with every previous MST3K, the movies included in the box are just part of the whole that audiences will appreciate. It also includes a number of bonus features. Those features include all-new Turkey Day episode introductions by star Joel Hodges, and an interview with Squirm star Don Scardino. There are also featurettes and bonus “movie posters” crafted by artist Steve Vance. The bonus featurettes included in this box set are: “Undercooked & Overstuffed: Inside the Turkey Day Marathon,” “Bumper To Bumper: Turkey Day Through The Years,” “This Film May Kill You: Making ‘The Screaming Skull’” and “Gumby & Clokey.”

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Volume XXXIThe Turkey Day Collection will be available Tuesday, November 25th on DVD. It will retail for MSRP of $64.99. It can be pre-ordered online direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/action-adventure/mst3k-volume-xxxi-the-turkey-day-collection-collector-s-edition-tin. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

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.

The Midnight Special’s Re-Issues Will Have Audiences Singing, Dancing Well Past Midnight

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years.  Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies.  For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television.  Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD.  The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history.  The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library.  That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC.  It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum.  The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success.  Just as important to note is the quality of the footage.  More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972.  In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well.  And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet.  The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That is the central point of its importance.  It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series.  Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time  Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.

The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day.  Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching.  What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day.  The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks.  That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series.  The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO.  It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today.  Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right.  Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago.  In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent.  That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.

The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue.  More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972.  That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced.  Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable.  The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia.  Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too.  So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing.  The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue.  The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation.  Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats.  The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet.  The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears.  That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts.  By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue.  The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations.  In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong.  That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues.  While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy.  This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.

The Midnight Special is available online now.  Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at http://timelife.com/products/the-midnight-special-collector-s-edition.  The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Special-6DVD-Amaray/dp/B00L9OPJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1414009549&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Midnight+Special.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.timelife.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

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.

ESPN’s MNF Wins Monday’s Ratings Race

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Monday Night Football brought in some big numbers for ESPN Monday night. The matchup of the Steelers and Texans helped the worldwide leader in sports essentially run the table. The network won the night among all networks in viewers, households, and all key male and adult demographics. It came in as the top broadcast of the night across cable and broadcast among those key male demos, as well as adults 18 – 34 and 18 – 49.

Monday night’s matchup between the Steelers and Texans averaged an 8.1 household U.S. rating. That equals to 9,483,000 households and 13,275,000 viewers (P2+) according to Nielsen. The broadcast peaked from 9:45 – 10pm ET with a 9.1 rating and 15,124,000 viewers.

The battle between the AFC foes pulled in a 14.3 rating on ESPN and a 13.0 on KIAH-CW for a combined 27.3 rating for that market. Pittsburgh viewers pushed the game to a 10.8 rating on ESPN and a 27.8 on WTAE-ABC for a combined 3805 rating in the Pitttsburgh market. In Baltimore, home of the Steelers’ AFC North divisional foes the Ravens, Monday night’s broadcast pulled in a 12.1. Fellow AFC markets Indianapolis and Jacksonville brought in a 10.6 and 10.5 respectively. In the bigger picture of the nation’s top ten metered markets, Las Vegas brought in the highest ratings with a 15.1. It was followed by Sacramento and San Diego. Both pulled in a 12.2 rating. It brought in an 11.0 with San Antonio and Richmond bringing in a 10.8 and 10.7 respectively.

Monday Night Football is averaging an 8.3 household U.S. rating through the first seven weeks of the season for ESPN. That is the equivalent of 9,618,000 households and 13,355,000 viewers.

The numbers or ESPN’s digital broadcast of Monday night’s matchup between the Steelers and Texans was impressive in its own right. Monday’s game reached 313,000 unique visitors on WatchESPN. That is an increase of 87 percent compared to week 7 from last season. It logged 21.5 million minutes viewed. That is an increase of 76 percent from the same time last year. It had an average minute audience of 106,000. That, too is an increase of 76 percent. These combined numbers drove ESPN as the most social network for the seventh straight Monday. Additionally they pushed Monday Night Football to the position of the most social program for the day.

Spanish-speaking audiences helped push Monday night’s game to the top, too. Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Texans averaged a 0.4 average Hispanic household U.S. rating. That is the equivalent of 66,000 Hispanic Household impressions. This is an increase of fourteen percent over the same time last year. It brought in 86,000 Hispanic P2+ impressions. So far this season, ESPN Deportes is averaging a 0.4 Hispanic Household rating. That is a one hundred percent gain, with 59,000 Hispanic Household Impressions and 87,000 Hispanic P2+ impressions. That are increases of 73 percent and 85 percent respectively.

Next week on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys host the Washington Redskins. Kickoff for that game is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET. It will mark the sixteenth time that the NFC East rivals will face off on Monday night. That is second only to the Raiders and Broncos, who have faced one another seventeen times in the forty-five year history of ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

More information on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, its 2014 broadcast schedule and more is available online at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl/mnf

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

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.

Wood’s Latest LP Is Caught Between Good And Great

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Guitarist Andy Wood is most widely known for his work with Creed front man Scott Stapp when Stapp is not recording with his band mates in Creed.  Wood has displayed his own share of talent in his work with Stapp.  With the release of his latest solo album Caught Between The Truth and a Lie, Wood has displayed even more talent.  Throughout the course of the double-disc record, Wood displays his chops as a rock guitarist once more.  That is not the most interesting aspect of this record.  It is his talent within the worlds of country and bluegrass that will really catch audiences’ ears on this new release.  That span of musical talents is the key to the enjoyment of Caught Between The Truth and a Lie.  Throughout the course of the album, Wood mixes things multiple times, throwing instrumentals alongside full compositions.  That stylistic mix of music makes this record even more enjoyable for audiences whether or not said audiences are familiar with Wood’s solo work.  Last but not least worth noting in the album’s success is its sequencing.  Wood doesn’t just go from one genre to another.  He actually slowly transitions from bluegrass to rock to country and back to rock again.  The end result is a work that proves music truly is the universal language as it will most certainly bring together so many different audiences throughout the course of its twenty-four tracks.  By the end, audiences will agree that Between The Truth and a Lie is somewhere between good and great.

Andy Wood’s latest full length solo record Between The Truth and a Lie is, as noted, an album that sits somewhere between good and great. The main reason for this is the range of talent displayed throughout the course of the double album’s twenty-four total tracks.  Wood, who is known largely for his work with rocker Scott Stapp, displays expert bluegrass and country chops right alongside his talents as a rock guitarist throughout the course of the album.  Bluegrass fans will enjoy the old school style of ‘How Mountain Girls Can Love’ and the album’s opener ‘Everybody Loves You.’  Those whose leanings are more in the country realm will enjoy ‘The Ballad of Ricky and Cal’ and the album’s closer ‘the Cowboy Rides Away.’  There was nowhere for this song to go than at the album’s end considering its title.  And Wood’s gentle, bluesy guitar work shows why, too.  Rock fans aren’t left out, either.  Wood offers his rock fans ‘Of Elf and Man’ (perhaps paying homage to Metallica’s ‘Of Wolf and Man?’), ‘Got A Light’ and the toned down cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Fool in the Rain.’  There’s even a jazzy piece thrown in for good measure in the form of ‘Dracula and His Cooky, Spooky Band.’  The use of the horns and Latin percussion alongside Wood’s own talents will have audiences up and dancing on this track, especially with Halloween now just around the corner.  The songs noted here are just some examples of Wood’s versatility on this record.  It goes without saying that said versatility is displayed quite well.  The enjoyment doesn’t end there, either.  The sequencing of the songs throughout the record makes the journey from start to finish all the more enjoyable.

The variety of sounds that Wood includes throughout the course of new record is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to give this album at least one listen.  If audiences aren’t convinced by that aspect, then perhaps the stylistic differences in the songs will convince audiences.  Stylistically speaking, the songs that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are both full compositions complete with vocals and instrumental tracks.  Wood balanced that mix quite well, too making sure not to stay on the full compositions or the instrumental pieces for too long.  It shows that he and all involved behind the glass put a lot of thought into the album’s overall presentation.  Speaking of that thought, the mix of musical genres and styles together make for plenty of reason for audiences to check out Andy Wood’s new album.  If there is still anyone not convinced as to why they should check out Between The Truth and a Lie by now, then perhaps an examination of the album’s sequencing will convince said audiences.

The musical mix of genres and styles that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are equally important to the album in terms of its enjoyment.  They would be nothing without the album’s sequencing, though. It would have been so easy for Wood and those behind the glass to randomly toss the album’s songs in throughout the record.  But that didn’t happen.  Rather, the album gradually progress from Wood’s bluegrass sound to a more rock oriented sound and then back to a country sound.  It is done with such precision that the progression is almost unnoticeable to the untrained ear. Those that listen closely though, will hear the slow change.   It’s especially nice to hear that change happen gradually instead of suddenly.  That is because it makes the album in whole all the easier on the ears.  Combined with the songs themselves and their difference in style, it makes the album one that will bring audiences of all ages and interests together, proving true once more the adage that music truly is the universal language.  And that language is sure to bring together every person that gives this record a chance.

Caught Between The Truth and a Lie is available now in stores and online.  More information on the album, Wood’s tour dates and latest updates is available online at:

Website: http://www.andywoodmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andy-Wood/123741651016472

Twitter: http://twitter.com/awoodshreds

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/awoodshreds

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