The Spirit Of Satch Is Anything But Another Covers Album

Courtesy:  Concord Records

Courtesy: Concord Records

Covers albums, like greatest hits albums, are among the most overly used records in the music industry.  Regardless of genre, there are almost as many covers and hits albums in stores and online every year as there are albums of new music from artists across the genres.  The problem with these albums is that it’s obvious that they are nothing more than fillers used for the purpose of contractual obligations.  One listen through their track listings proves this. For all of the forgettable covers and hits albums that pollute store shelves and online outlets each year, there are thankfully those diamonds in the rough that actually stand out among the masses.  Those hidden gems show that for all of the space fillers that are out there, there are those artists that take covers albums, hits albums and tribute records with at least a certain amount of seriousness.  One of those hidden gems that has been revealed in 2014 comes from veteran performer Dr. John in the form of his Louis Armstrong covers/tribute album Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch.  This thirteen-track record is more than just a collection of covers from one of the greatest names in the industry.  The covers included on this record exhibit not only the spirit of Satchmo, but also the very creative spirit of music itself.  While the songs on this record are largely full-blown re-imaginings of Armstrong’s original works, the creativity used in each song will lead this record to grow on even the most hardline of Louis Armstrong fans.  And it all starts right off the top with Dr. John’s re-imagining of Armstrong’s greatest hit, ‘What A Wonderful World.’  Dr. John’s jazzy cover of ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ will most certainly impress audiences as it’s one of the few songs on this record that stays close to the original work.  The addition of blues great Bonnie Raitt doesn’t hurt the song, either.  And his collaboration with the famed Dirty Dozen Brass Band on ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You’ is the perfect closer for this record.  As impressive as these songs prove to be in the long run, they’re only part of what makes Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch such a rare release.  The album’s other ten tracks are worth their own listen, too.  And in hearing all thirteen tracks on this disc, any listener will agree that this record definitely stands out as one of this year’s truly rare covers/tribute albums worth hearing.

Dr. John’s new Louis Armstrong covers/tribute album Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch is one of 2014’s rare covers/tribute albums that is actually worth audiences’ attention.  And it isn’t just because it is from one of the most respected names in the music industry today.  That is proven right off the top with his cover of Armstrong’s most beloved of songs, ‘What A Wonderful World.’  Dr. John collaborated on this cover with gospel greats The Blind Boys of Alabama and fellow New Orleans native Nicholas Paton.  At first listen, the song will most certainly leave some audiences scratching their heads.  That is because it is a completely re-imagined take on the classic tune.  Rather than taking the safe route here, Dr. John and company give the song a decidedly upbeat almost gospel-style turn, making it into more of a celebratory song than the more reserved piece which audiences have come to know.  Of course that is thanks to the inclusion of The Blind Boys of Alabama on this take.  It may not grab some audiences at first.   But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  That’s because it will grow on said audiences that give the song more than one chance.  Those audiences will realize that the more celebratory tone, as different as it may be, actually works when one takes into consideration the song’s lyrics.  Armstrong once sang on this song of all of the things that make the world so, well, wonderful.   Audiences that take that into consideration will in turn appreciate this rendition for the surprisingly positive re-working that it proves to be in the long run.  And in doing so, it will lead audiences to give this album’s other songs just as much of a chance, too.

If the re-imagining of ‘What A Wonderful World’ doesn’t win over listeners, then perhaps his duet with fellow blues legend Bonnie Raitt on ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ will.  This hybrid jazzy/bluesy cover comes as close to the original as possible without actual mirroring said song.  Raitt and John both pay proper tribute to Armstrong in this take.  Audiences that are familiar with both artists’ style will be pleasantly surprised by their ability to balance the song’s jazz roots with their own bluesy addition to the composition.  Audiences that have heard Tony Bennett and k.d. Lang’s Armstrong covers album won’t be able to ignore the comparison to their covers here.  That’s because both Raitt and John exhibit a true reverence for Armstrong’s work here more than anywhere else on the album.  That reverence will most certainly have purist Armstrong fans dancing arm in arm and *ahem* cheek to cheek (bad pun fully intended here).

Dr. John’s duet with Bonnie Raitt on his cover of ‘I’ve Got The World on a String’ is without a doubt this record’s peak moment.  Coming in a close second is the cover of ‘When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You).’  The song, which features Dr. John’s fellow New Orleans musicians in The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, closes out the album.  And such a song proves to be the perfect way to close out such an imaginative collection of covers.  The song’s run time comes in at just under three minutes.  To be exact, it clocks in at two minutes and forty-two seconds.  Dr. John takes a back seat throughout most of the song, letting the members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band have the spotlight instead.  For those audiences that are less familiar with the work of the band, this song is a wonderful first impression from its members.  Those that are more familiar with the band’s body of work will be just as impressed with the ability of the band members to mix its trademark Dixieland sound with a more Latin-tinged sound.  The end result is one more truly creative and original cover of one more of Armstrong’s most beloved works.

The collaboration with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band as the final number for Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch proves to be the perfect way to close this record.  That is because it once more exhibits Dr. John’s respect for Louis Armstrong’s legacy and Armstrong himself.  Just as with all of the songs that come before it, it pays homage to Armstrong’s legacy by balancing the song’s original sound with something of a more original arrangement.  In this case, it doesn’t stray too far from the original tune.  Because it doesn’t, it is sure to leave listeners with that warm, happy feeling of nostalgia.  And what better way to go out after such an intriguing musical ride than with that warm, happy feeling?  By the song’s end, audiences will agree that having heard it and the album’s other songs, Ske-Dat-De-Dat is anything but another run-of-the-mill covers album.  It is one of the most creative covers/tribute albums released by any artist to date.

Ske-Dat-De-Dat­: The Spirit of Satch is available now online and in stores everywhere.  Fans can order it online now direct from Dr. John’s official Facebook page and website at http://www.facebook.com/DrJohn and http://www.nitetripper.com.  Audiences can also purchase Dr. John’s new album at any of his upcoming live performances.  Fans can check out Dr. John’s tour itinerary now on both sites as well.  They can also keep up with all of the latest news and updates from the man himself on both sites.  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.

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.

Riff Rockit’s Latest LP Soars

Courtesy:  Doggie Doodles Productions

Courtesy: Doggie Doodles Productions

Kindie-rock star Riff Rockit released his latest album If I Could Fly last week.  The album, his second so far this year, is a solid follow-up his previous release, the fully Spanish-language album Luz Verde Vamos.  This latest release includes a trio of songs from that album, translated completely into English.  The feline-centric song ‘Mr. Tux’ is one of those songs.  It is also one of the most enjoyable of those songs and one of the best songs included in this album, too.  Just as enjoyable is the seasonably fitting ‘Beach.’  As if that isn’t enough, Rockit has also crafted a birthday song for a whole new generation in the simply titled ‘Birthday.’ Forget the classic ‘Happy Birthday.’ This is a whole new birthday song that will have kids and even parents wanting to sing. The songs noted here are just a few examples of will most certainly make this record a favorite among both kids and their parents. The remaining seven tracks not noted each make If I Could Fly just as enjoy able by themselves. Together with the noted tracks, they make If I Could Fly a record that could soar into any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

If I Could Fly is highlighted by so many enjoyable songs both for children and adults. Any one of the album’s ten total tracks could serve as a representative single for this release. The most enjoyable of the album’s tracks—in the eyes of this critic—is a song that Rockit carried over from his most recent album Luz Verde Vamos. The song in question is titled ‘Mr. Tux.’ It is a song centered on a rather well-to-do celebrity feline, believe it or not. While the song’s lyrics will entertain both children and their parents, the song’s 80s style sound will take many parents back in time. The use of the guitars and keyboards in this song is a direct throwback to another era of music. Yet somehow, Riff Rockit has somehow taken that sound and improved on it in this case. The song’s lyrical side makes the song even more fun for listeners. Riff Rockit sings in this song about a tuxedo cat named…well…Mr. Tux. He sings of the cat that he is definitely living the good life. He sings that the cat in question is “Black and white/A fur machine/The coolest kitten in Los Angeles…Got a mansion in the canyon/Yeah, he’s living it good…Making movies/Livin’ the life….he loves to dance/Rocks every gig/he is a legend on the sunset strip.” Needless to say, this is one cat that is living in the lap of luxury. One can so easily see this cat living it up as Riff Rockit sings about the fancy feline, too. That vivid imagery and infectious club style grooves are sure to entertain listeners over and over.

‘Mr. Tux’ is a fun song for listeners of any age. It’s so fun because for starters it is original. It is one more example of what makes children’s music just as fun as music for grown-ups if not more fun. The fact that it can take the classic sounds of the 80s and update them makes the song even better. As enjoyable as ‘Mr. Tux’ is, there are still other examples of what makes If I Could Fly work as well as it does. One of those other examples comes in the form of the pleasantly relaxing ‘Beach.’ This song’s music lyrics perfectly mirror one another. It would have been so easy to make it another up-tempo song that so many songs of a day at the beach prove to be. Rockit took the road less traveled road instead with this composition. It takes the vantage point of someone simply appreciating the calm and simplicity of being at the beach. He sings in this song, “sitting by the ocean/Cool summer breeze/Sitting by the ocean/I love/I love/I love/The beach.” The classic 80s style guitar solo incorporated into the song’s bridge adds just enough accent to the song to make it really work. Audiences can close their eyes and visualize every word in their own theater of dreams. Visions of a person sitting on the beach on the first morning of summer just after sunrise come to mind. The waves are gently hitting the sand. It is its own song celebrating summer. That individuality and gentle melody makes this song stand out so well as another of this album’s best moments. It still isn’t the last of those moments, either. There is still one more song on this album that serves as an example of what makes it “fly.” That song is Rockit’s very own ‘Birthday’ song.

‘Birthday’ is a good mid-tempo rocker that is certain to have parents and kids alike clapping and singing along. He sings over the song’s somewhat driving sound, “Well it’s your birthday/Gonna have a party/Everybody’s getting’ ready/Don’t it feel good/You got your favorite music/So let’s get to it/These balloons blown up/Hats for all your friends/Today is your birthday/So let’s have a party/Take lots of pictures/And celebrate you’re one year older/Have all your friends over/For fun and ice cream and cake/Happy birthday to you.” If one didn’t know any better, one could almost argue that Rockit’s guitar solos hint a little bit at and AC/DC influence, believe it or not. They actually sound a little bit like Angus’ guitar lien from AC/DC’s hit ‘Highway to Hell’ go figure. They have a certain little kick and sound about them that hints at that influence. Audiences will hear for themselves when they purchase this album for their own children. Potential influences aside, parents and children alike will agree in listening to this song that they will want this song playing at their next birthday party instead of the more standard ‘Happy Birthday.’ It is that fun and catchy. That musical and lyrical catchiness together make it one more of so many songs from this album that is ready for radio airplay. And together with the songs not noted here, it becomes one more part of an album that makes a solid argument for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Riff Rockit currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, parents and children can find out when his next live performance will be online via his official Facebook page, website, and Twitter page. They can also keep up with all of his latest news and updates through both sites. 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, too.

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.

Get Stoked Proves It’s Just As Talented As Its Bigger Named Pop Punk Counterparts On Its New EP

 

Courtesy: Imminence Records/Persistent Heart Media

Courtesy: Imminence Records/Persistent Heart Media

Mount Pleasant, Michigan’s five-piece pop-punk band Get Stoked will release its new EP this month. Washington Street, the band’s new EP, will be released Tuesday, August 19th via indie label Imminence Records. This four-track disc is a good fit for anyone that is into bands such as A Day To Remember, All Time Low, and Yellowcard just to name a few. It’s interesting to note that among the EP’s five tracks, its opener is one of its best tracks. It’s interesting in that the song in question is an instrumental track that lasts not even two minutes. That song leads straight into what is another good example of audiences can expect from this EP in the form of ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’ This song’s title *ahem* speaks for itself. Audiences will understand in listening to the song’s lyrical content. And as a final example of what the band has to offer on its new EP, it also offers the song ‘Forward Progress,’ which is a welcome breath of fresh air after the more emotional songs that preceded it. Each one of the songs profiled here is by itself a solid pop-punk production. The songs in question combine with the other two songs not noted here to make for an EP that any pop-punk fan will find enjoyable.

Get Stoked opens its new EP with an instrumental that is simply considered the album’s ‘Intro.’ The song clocks in at not even two minutes long. To be more precise, it is only one minute and thirty-eight seconds long. Ironically enough, as short as the song is, it proves in the long run to be one of the best songs on the disc. It’s one of those songs that proves not every good song rock or otherwise needs lyrics to make it work. It would be just as easy to hear front man Cameron Wheeler singing alongside his band mates. But they—Jacob Cardona (drums), Ryan Turek (guitar/backing vocals), Ben Jensen (bass), and Zach Smith (guitar)—hold their own throughout this song’s ninety-second plus song. Cardona’s time keeping is spot on next to the work of Turek, Jensen, and Smith. For a band that is currently signed to an independent label, this introduction from the band shows that its sound is Just as solid as anything released by any of its bigger named counterparts. And that solid sound doesn’t stop here, either as audiences will note in Washington Street’s first full length song, ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’

‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’ is one more example of how easily Get Stoked stacks up against its bigger name pop punk counterparts. The song, which seems to center on personal relationships is the first chance for [Cameron] Wheeler to put his talents on display on this release. To be more exact, it comes across as being centered on a personal relationship with a former love interest. He goes so far as to make a commentary about all the men that the woman in question had slept with. This leads him to sing to her, asking, “What did you expect/We’ve all tried our best/And if you didn’t succeed/You blame it all on me/These cold winter nights/They leave me quiet and discreet/Who are you to tell me/Who I can and can’t be/When first we barely knew each other/But lately/I bet I’ve come to find out/What it is you’re looking for/And I can’t understand it/I won’t understand it/Until you explain it to me.” It is from here that Wheeler and company proceed to sing about the former love interest sleeping around with other men. And that leads everything full circle back to these opening verses, making them far clearer for listeners. Wheeler’s subject here is expressing the mix of emotions felt by someone who is dealing with an unfaithful partner. That lyrical theme alongside the song’s energy and sound makes the song whole and just one reason that pop punk fans will appreciate this record.

While Wheeler and his band mates delve into some emotional territory on Washington Street, there is also at least one song with a more positive outlook on things on the EP’s penultimate song. That song, ‘Forward Progress,’ exhibits a subject that has gone through the worst but still sees the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. That is something rare in today’s music industry. It seems like so many songs, regardless of genre, focus mainly on breakups and other negative topics. Wheeler sings in this song, “This is a thing called forward progress/I hope you know that I could care less/This is a thing called forward progress/I hope you know that I could care less/Face clenched/And arms bent/I’ll march through this/With only intent to make who/I wanna be/A realistic vision of myself/And everyone around me.” The defiant stance taken in these final verses gives a completely different view of life in comparison to the songs that come before ‘Forward Progress.’ And they make the song’s title far more fitting, too. It is Wheeler and company saying collectively, “I am going to be who I want to be no matter what others think of me.” This is an important message for the band’s audiences, especially in this age. Together with the previously noted songs and those not noted here, Get Stoked present to audiences an EP that is a work that is just as solid as anything released by its bigger named pop-punk counterparts.

Audiences can hear Get Stoked live now as the band is currently on tour with Backslashes and Bad Ideas. Audiences will also be able to pick up Washington Street at the band’s live shows after it is officially released. More information on Get Stoked, its tour schedule and more is available via the band’s official 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, too.

Egypt Central Announces Details of Upcoming Compilation Disc

Courtesy:  Fat Lady Music

Courtesy: Fat Lady Music

Egypt Central will release its long-awaited new album this month.

The members of Egypt Central announced this week, the upcoming release of its long-awaited new album Murder in the French Quarter. The band’s latest album will include a total of seven songs. Two of those songs will be previously unreleased pieces. The other five will be previously unreleased demos of songs that were included on the band’s current full length albums—its 2008 self-titled debut and 2011’s White Rabbit.

The members of Egypt Central had a direct hand in the creation of its new compilation. Drummer Blake Allison produced the compilation while bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser developed the compilation’s cover art. The band will count down to the August 19th release of Murder in the French Quarter by debuting a different song from the compilation each day on its official YouTube channel. Allison explained the songs on this record in a recent interview and what audiences can expect from them stating that, “This is a collection of songs in their original versions.” He went on to note that “Before they were dissected and operated on in the studio. These songs are carelessly raw and perfectly imperfect.  EGYPT CENTRAL as we were in our truest form.” Allison added to his discussion by explaining the importance of Egypt Central to his own personal life and how it played a role in the creation of Murder in the French Quarter. “For the rest of my life, I will always know that EGYPT CENTRAL is a gigantic reason why I am the way I am,” he said. “The band helped craft the man, the friend and the musician that I am today.  The friends (and enemies) that I made during my years with EC will forever be my guidelines for good and bad relationships.  Everything was building to Devour the Day, and I know that now, but it would not be possible without EC first.  I am so blessed to have had those experiences.  This new release was so important to me, because it was the completion of a novel.  The final chapter of musical history finding its natural place among the rest of the catalog.  There is no real future without coming to a peace about the past, or at least that’s what the fortune cookie said.”

The band posted an open letter to its fans on the official Egypt Central Facebook page this week regarding its upcoming compilation noting that the band’s fans played a role in the band’s decision to develop this compilation, too. The letter reads as follows: “We have seen your posts, we have read your messages and we are pleased to announce that we’ve gone through all our past sessions and our archives to bring you MURDER IN THE FRENCH QUARTER.  We didn’t want to hold anything back and wanted to give the greatest fans in the world all of the music we had created in one last release.  Blake has gone through every guitar and drum track and produced this ensemble of songs that we hope you all enjoy.”

The track listing for Murder in the French Quarter is listed below.

  1. Enemy Inside (Rock Mix)
  1. Cliche’
  1. Citizen Radio
  1. Over and Under (demo)
  1. Different (demo)
  1. Wake Up In Flames (demo)
  1. Change (demo)

 

More information on Murder in the French Quarter and all of the latest Egypt Central news is available via the band’s official Facebook page and Twitter page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog, too.