The Treatment’s Debut LP Keeps Pace Solidly With Rock’s Big Dogs

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

The 1980s is one of the most important decades in the history of the music industry.  Disco evolved into New Wave during that decade.  Rap and Hip-Hop started burgeoning during those years, too.  And in the world of rock, audiences were presented with both the New Wave of Heavy Metal (NWOHM), and the rise and fall of the hair metal movement.  While the age of big hair and big rock came and went seemingly in the blink of an eye, it also produced some of the biggest names in the history of rock and metal.  Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crue, Dokken and others of that ilk dominated radio stations and arenas across the country in that ten-year span.  Motley Crue is officially calling it a career.  The others called it a career years ago.  And while they may be gone, many bands since have shown that they are hardly forgotten, producing record after record that pays homage to said forebears.  Now another act has added its name to that long list of bands keeping the age of big guitar riffs and equally big hair alive in the form of The Treatment.  The five piece from Cambridge, England released its full length deut record Running With The Dogs on indie label Spinefarm Records back in February of this year.  It is a fittingly titled record, too.  That’s because the band, whose members are each in no more than their late teens, stays right with the rest of the pack on its debut.  The band keeps up with other bands of its genre (E.g. Buckcherry, Airbourne) in its debut.  That’s thanks both to its full-throttle, no nonsense rock and roll sound, and its equally old school lyrics.  The combination of the two makes this record a must hear for anyone that  wants a break from the seemingly constant barrage of cookie monster growls and poppy rock songs dominating so much of the rock world today.  Right off the top, front man Matt Jones and his band mates–Dee Dammers (guitar), Tagore Grey (Guitar), Dhani Mansworth (drums), and Rick “Swoggle” Newman (bass)–show that they mean business in the album’s opener ‘I Bleed Rock N’ Roll.’  This song is classic rock and roll all the way around and will have audiences instantly rocking and singing along.  By and large, the band keeps things moving throughout the record, slowing only once in the album’s penultimate acoustic opus ‘Unchain My World.’  Even being an acoustic piece, it harkens back to the acoustic ballads of Poison and other big hair bands from the 80s.  And what rock record is complete without an up-tempo piece about a female figure that all the guys want?  It’s there, too in the form of ‘She’s Too Much.’    These three songs are each enjoyable in their own right for anyone nostalgic for real  rock and roll.  Along with the other ten songs that make up this album, the whole thing proves to be a record that any old school rock and roll fan will enjoy.

The Treatment’s debut album Running With The Dogs is an aptly titled collection of songs.  The band’s members show exactly why right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll.’  Musically speaking, this song instantly shows influences from veteran rock acts the likes of AC/DC and Motley Crue.  Drummer Dhani Mansworth’s solid 4/4 time set against the dual guitar attack of Dee Dammers and Tagore Grey instantly gets the body and the blood moving.  The duo’s old school shredding and harmonies will transport audiences back to rock’s era of big riffs and even bigger hair.  Front man Matt Jones’ vocal styling adds to that musical trip back in time even more.  It’s incredible how much Jones’ vocal style soudns so much like Motley Crue front man Vince Neil.  Lyrically, the song is just as much of an homage to rock’s “biggest” era with the band singing in the song’s chorus, “I live rock and roll/It’s my destiny/All I bleed is rock and roll.  the message is clear and simple not just here but in the song’s verses, too.  That simplicity and clarity of the song’s lyrics couple with its musical side to make this song the perfect opener for the band.  To another extent, that it finishes in such bombastic fashion makes it an equally fitting closer both on the album and in a live setting.  It’s just one of so many of the album’s opuses that shows what makes it a pure rock record well worth the listen.

It goes without saying that The Treatment chose the right song in ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ to open its debut full-length record.  Interestingly enough, that same song would work just as much as a closer for the band as the album’s closer and even as a show closer in a live setting.  The energy exuded by the band in this song is carried throughout every one of the songs that follow it right up to the album’s penultimate piece ‘Unchain My World.’  This acoustic ballad is just as much a throwback to the 80s as the album’s opener and any other song on this record.  Stylistically, listeners will instantly be able to make comparisons between this song and the ballads churned out by veteran rock bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, and even Mr. Big just to name a few.  This applies to the song both musically and lyrically.  The comparison to Mr. Big comes especially in the song’s chorus as the band sings “Unchain my world/Cause you’re all I’ve really got.”  Musically, one could even mistake the song for one of Mr. Big’s biggest hits of all time if one were listening to this song not knowing it was said band.  The song’s verses highlight that comparison, too with Jones singing how much a certain love interest has changed the subject’s life.  He sings of said subject’s view of the love interest, “I’m still fascinated/How deep inside I feel so incomplete/Indiscreet.”  Just as with the album’s opener, that mix of music and lyrics is just as certain to take audiences back to what is perhaps one of rock’s most underrated eras.

‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ and ‘Unchain My World’ are both prime examples of the old school 80s influence presented on The Treatment’s debut full-length album.  Any old school rock and roll aficionado will appreciate thanks to that direct influence.  They aren’t the only good examples of that influence and enjoyment on this record, either.  The blues-based rocker that is ‘She’s Too Much’ is another great example of that influence and enjoyment.  It’s not as up-tempo as some of the album’s other songs.  But it leaves no one guessing in regards to its lyrical content.  It is presented very much in the vein of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  Jones sings over the bluesy riffs of his band mates, “She’s too much/Everything is not enough/She’s too much/Better load your gun boys/Take aim/Now fire.”  The song is thankfully not a direct mirror image of ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  But the blues-based rock sound churned out by Dammers and Grey definitely makes the comparison easy and not in a bad way, either.  Again in a time when so much of the rock and even hard rock world is dominated by cookie monster growls and crunching, down-tuned guitars, such a comparison is especially welcome considering that The Treatment has taken an influence as respected as AC/DC and crafted its own equally fun rock song.  It’s just one more of the thirteen total songs on this record that classic rock buffs will enjoy.

The songs noted here are each good examples of just what makes The Treatment’s debut album Running WithThe Dogs one more album released this year proving that contrary to Gene Simmons’ own views, rock and roll is not dead.  Nor is it even in the hospital so to speak.  It proves that rock and roll is alive and well.  It takes audiences back to an era when rock and roll was indeed rock and roll; an era when rock and roll was truly fun.  European audiences will agree with that sentiment when they see the band live on its current European tour.  Audiences will get to hear the band live when it rolls into Rotterdam, Netherlands next Thursday, November 27th, Paris, France next Friday, and Brussels, Belgium next Saturday, November 29th.  Audiences can pick up the band’s CD at those shows and each show after.  Whether in Europe or in the United States, audiences can pick up Running With The Dogs in stores or online now.  Fans can keep up with the band’s current tour schedule and all of its latest updates online now at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheTreatmentUK

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.

eOne’s “Cell 213″ Is An Interesting Theological Thriller

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Paramount.  Disney.  MGM.  20th Century Fox.  Warner Brothers.  For the longest time, these studios were what made Hollywood and the movie industry great.  But somewhere along the way, something changed.  Something very bad happened.  Somewhere in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these five major studios went from churning out some of the greatest titles that audiences have ever seen to churning out nothing but prequels, sequels, and remakes.  Now in 2014, there seems to be no end in sight for this trend from Hollywood’s own “Power 5″ (only sports fans will get that reference).  Thankfully, independent studios such as IFC Films, Level 33 Entertainment, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and eOne Entertainment have picked up the slack, releasing some of the most original and entertaining movies that audiences have seen in years.  One example of that originality lies in eOne’s recently released thriller Cell 213.  The movie’s box art and description leads one to believe that it is a horror movie of sorts.  The reality is that it is in fact a rather deep and surprisingly original story.  The story behind Cell 213 is by itself more than enough reason for audiences to watch it at least once.  Veteran actor Michael Rooker’s (Guardians of the Galaxy, Days of Thunder, Cliffhanger) acting as the vile prison guard Ray Clement is another positive to the movie.  While the movie centers on Michael Grey (Eric Balfour), Rooker is the real star of this story.  And last but not least of all worth noting here is the movie’s run time versus its pacing.  At a time when it seems like Hollywood’s major studios are continuing to battle one another to see who can cram the most material into their movies within a given time span (more often than not that time span is about 2 1/2 hours or a little more), this roughly hour and forty-nine minute movie does plenty without even reaching the two-hour mark.    Each of these aspects by themselves play their own important role in the overall success of this interesting indie thriller.  Collectively, they make Cell 213 worth at least one watch and prove once more why indie movies are just as worth the watch as all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes being currently churned out by Hollywood’s “Power 5″ if not more so.

At first glance, eOne and Alliance Films’ recently released thriller Cell 213 looks like another run-of-the-mill horror flick.  But as the old adage states, never judge a book (or in this case a DVD) by its cover.  The movie is in fact far more than just another one of the overly gory and violence laden flicks that Hollywood’s “Power 5″ call a horror.  Rather, it proves to be more a thriller than a horror.  What’s more, it’s not just another thriller, either.  The movie’s script, which was crafted by Maninda Chana, combines traditional thriller elements with some rather deep theological discussions for a movie that will ultimately leave open-minded audiences really thinking.  As audiences learn, young up-and-coming lawyer Michael Grey himself ends up in jail after one of his clients kills himself, essentially framing Michael for his murder.  It is at this point that the movie’s biggest plot hole emerges.  The plot hole is big enough to drive a handful of semis through it.  Thankfully though, the theological discussions that make up the remainder of the movie more than make up for that glaring issue.  The discussions in question center on the battle between good and evil and on making the right choices in life before we die.  A close look at the story reveals these discussions and really makes the movie a lot more interesting than one might have originally thought at first glance.  The end result is a script that makes this indie thriller worth at least one watch.

The theologically based story behind Cell 213 is a big surprise.  By itself, the discussion raised on judgment of one’s soul, etc. is more than reason enough for audiences to check out this movie.  Another reason that Cell 213 is worth at least one watch is the acting on the part of Michael Rooker.  Rooker is most well-known for his work on the NASCAR-based drama Days of Thunder.  He has also worked on Marvel Studios’ latest hit blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, too.  So this movie is obviously not the first time that he has played the role of a villain. And he shows his experience as a villain quite well. Between showing no mercy to the inmates at the prison to putting a chokehold on another officer (a female no less) to showing something of a troubling, almost Norman Bates sort of personality at another point, Rooker makes Ray Clement an absolutely disturbed character that will disturb audiences and make them love to hate him at the same time. If for no other reason, audiences should watch this movie at least once to see just how diabolical and disturbed Rooker makes Clement. That portrayal together with the movie’s deep, theological themes, makes for even more reason for audiences to give it at least one watch.

The theological themes that make up most of Cell 213’s story and the work of veteran actor Michael Rooker are both key to making this movie worth at least one watch. That still leaves one more aspect worth noting—the movie’s run time. Anyone that has been to the theater in the past couple years or so has noticed that Hollywood’s major studios have been seemingly caught up in a competition to see who can shove the most amount of material into a roughly two and a half-hour movie without making it too mediocre. The problem is that movies like The Dark Knight Rises, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, and even the recent Spiderman and Superman movies have been mostly mediocre. That’s because the people behind the cameras and the scripts have in fact crammed so much into each one of those movies that they have overpowered audiences. That’s hardly the case with Cell 213. The movie clocks in at just under the two-hour mark. Within the confines of that roughly hour and forty-nine minutes, writer Maninder Chana and director Stephen Kay waste no time ruminating on personal drama or any such related topics. The entire time is well-spent, focusing on the battle being waged for Michael’s soul and how he was essentially being tested, thus tying back in to the story’s theological themes. What’s more, at no point do those themes ever get so deep as to lose audiences. Viewers are kept engaged from start to finish thanks to that well-balanced mix of the movie’s run time and its overall content. That, coupled with Michael Rooker’s acting and the themes incorporated into the story, makes this movie complete. They collectively make Cell 213 a story well worth at least one watch whether one is a fan of the horror genre or has any interest in Christian theology. It all makes for a movie that is actually quite surprisingly interesting.

Cell 213 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Cell-213-Michael-Rooker/dp/B00K2OBSI2/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1416580052&sr=1-2&keywords=cell+213. More information on this and other titles from Alliance and eOne is available online at:

 

Website: http://ca.eonefilms.com

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

 

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.

Royal Blood Joining Foo Fighters For Band’s 2015 North American Tour

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

Foo Fighters announced the schedule for its upcoming worldwide tour this week. The tour, which kicks off Wednesday, December 10th in Cape Town, South Africa, is in support of the band’s new album Sonic Highways. The European leg of the band’s tour runs through June 23rd, 2015. The North American leg of the band’s tour kicks off July 4th, 2015 at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital. That performance is followed by twenty-six more dates that will take the band across America throughout the remainder of the summer. British rock duo Royal Blood will join Foo Fighters for a number of those dates beginning July 6th in Camden, New Jersey. That is the second date on the North American leg of Foo Fighters’ tour in support of Sonic Highways. Of the twenty-six dates set for Foo Fighters’ North American tour, Royal Blood will join Foo Fighters for eleven dates from July 6th to August 25th.

Before Royal Blood hits the road with Foo Fighters, the duo—Michael Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums)—it will wrap up its own current slate of headlining dates in support of its self-titled Warner Brothers Records debut album. That album was released August 25th, 2014. Box office-only pre-sales for Royal Blood’s dates with Foo Fighters begin this Saturday, November 22nd. All price levels are subject to availability. Online pre-sales begin Monday, December 1st. Public ticket sales will run Thursday December 4th and 5th. Royal Blood’s latest schedule of live dates is listed below.

ROYAL BLOOD NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES

December 1 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL

December 3 – The Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA

December 5 – War Memorial Auditorium – Nashville, TN

December 6 – Juanita’s Cantina – Little Rock, AR

December 7 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK

December 9 – Seattle Center – Key Arena – Seattle, WA

July 6 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ*

July 9 – Molson Canadian Amphitheater – Toronto, ON*

July 16 – Citi Field – New York, NY*

July 19 – Fenway Park – Boston, MA*

August 12 – Rexall Place – Edmonton, AB*

August 13 – Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, AB*

August 17 – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater – Denver, CO*

August 19 – Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre – Maryland Heights, MO*

August 22 – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, MN*

August 24 – DTE Energy Center – Detroit, MI*

August 25 – First Niagra Pavilion – Pittsburgh, PA*

 

Royal Blood was released August 25th on Warner Brothers Records. It debuted at Number 1 on the UK Album Chart and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The Mercury Prize is awarded to the best new records from the U.K. and Ireland each year. One album is awarded the prize each year from a list of twelve albums nominated for the award. The albums in question come from every genre of music. More information on Royal Blood is available online at:

 

Website: http://royalbloodband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/royalblooduk

 

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.

Rolling Stones’ Second “From The Vault” Recording Leaves Audiences Wanting More In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  Over the course of the band members’ now fifty-two years together, they have released some twenty-two albums and seemingly just as many greatest hits compilations.  The band has also released its own share of live recordings along the way, too.  The most recent of those live recordings is 2013’s Sweet Summer SunHyde Park Live.  That recording is one of the band’s best live recordings to date if not the best to date.  That recording was released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, the same company responsible for the release of the band’s archived 1981 Chicago show Live at the Checkerboard Lounge in 2012 and a handful of other recordings that followed.  2014 has been no different for Stones fans as Eagle Rock released two more archived live concerts from the band early this month.  One of those recordings takes audiences back to the band’s 1981 performance at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  The second takes audiences even farther back, going all the way back to 1975 and the band’s performance that year at the famed Forum in Los Angeles.  There is just as much to enjoy about the Stones’ 1981 show in Hampton, Virginia as there is about its companion concert from the band’s ’81 show in Virginia.  The most obvious of the show’s positives is its set list.  Many of the songs that are presented in this show are also presented in the band’s ’81 show.  The difference between the two shows’ set lists is that there is far less of the slower stuff in this show than in its companion recording.  Another great reason to check this concert is the band’s stage presence and its overall stage show.  And last but hardly least of all worth noting is the show’s collective production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Taking into account the recording technology of the day, the audio quality is rather impressive.  And the video mix isn’t that bad, either.  It does serve to show how much recording tech has advanced since this concert’s recording.  That is not to take away from the importance of the recording’s companion booklet, either.  Even the companion booklet serves its own purpose in the concert’s overall presentation.  All things considered, From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 proves to be one more reason that The Rolling Stones is considered to still be one of rock’s elite acts and why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings to this day.

The members of The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  While so many other bands have gone by the wayside in that time, Mick Jagger and company have remained one of rock’s elite acts.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has more than proven why in recent years why exactly The Rolling Stones is still one of the music world’s top acts with each one of its archived Stones concerts.  From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is no exception to that standard established by Eagle Rock so many years ago.  The most obvious way that it shows this is through the concert’s set list.  The band was not touring in support of any new release at the time of this performance.  As audiences will learn in the recording’s companion booklet, the band was roughly a year removed from the release of its most recent release at the time, It’s Only Rock and Roll (1974).  That album was the band’s fourteenth (yes, fourteenth) U.S. release and twelfth for the band’s fans in the U.K.  That was over the course of eleven years since the release of the band’s delf-titled U.K. debut and U.S. debut England’s Newest Hit Makers.  That means that even without a “new” album to tour behind, Mick and company still had more than their share of material with which to entertain audiences.  And they did just that, pulling from that album and going even farther back in the band’s catalogue all the way back to the band’s earliest days.  It would be interesting to see if there is a band out there today that has as much material under its collective belt today.  Most of today’s music acts regardless of genre only have on average three albums to their names  after ten years.  So that’s really saying something in the case of this recording and for the band’s creativity.  In all, the set list for this show totals twenty-six songs and well over two and a half hours.  That is a lot of music and a lot of enjoyment for Rolling Stones fan of any age.  It’s just one of so many ways in which this recording proves to be another welcome addition to said fans’ personal collections.  The band’s stage presence throughout the course of those nearly three hours is another way in which it proves this argument.

The band’s stage presence over the course of its nearly three hour performance at the Forum is definitely worth noting.  The companion booklet that comes with the concert notes that this concert was not the first for the band that night.  It was the fourth of five shows in a row at the Forum that the band held between July 9th and July 13th.  One would think that having performed three shows before this one and having one more to go, the band’s members would have been exhausted and perhaps saving their energy.  But that certainly isn’t the case here.  Jagger and his band mates kept the energy high and in turn, the audience in house fully engaged from start to finish.  Adding to the interest of the band’s stage presence is the fact that these shows marked part of the band’s first tour with then new guitarist Ronnie Wood.  The cemistry between Wood and the rest of the band was quite obvious throughout the course of the show.  It definitely went a long way toward making the show more enjoyable both for the band and the audience in attendance that night.  It does just as much for audiences that purchase this recording today and watch it themselves.  Audiences will especially understand this when they purchase the concert’s DVD recording.  In seeing that energy and chemistry, audiences will agree that the band’s stage presence throughout the course of its nearly three-hour show is one more way in which it proves to be another welcome addition to any Rolling Stones fan’s personal collection.

The set list and the stage presence of The Rolling Stones throughout the course of From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 both serve as prime examples of why every Rolling Stones fan will enjoy this recording.  One more important factorto consider in the recording’s overall presentation is its production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Nearly four decades have passed since this performance was first recorded.  It goes without saying that since that time, recording technology has evolved by leaps and bounds.  Even with the tech available at the time of the concert’s recording, it still looks and sounds relatively good.  The sound quality is especially impressive considering the size of The Forum within its walls.  The shots that made up the concert do an impressive job in their own right showing just how expansive The Forum’s inner workings were at the time.  That vastness coupled with the band’s stage set explain by themselves why so few of the shots were taken up close but rather from a distance.  Even being taken from a distance, the shots in question still give audiences a clear view of the band when not recorded from the stage.  The combination of the audio and video together make the overall viewing experience even more worth it for fans regardless of their age.

The production values presented in From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 alongside the recording’s set list and the band’s stage presence collectively make the recording more than worth the watch regardless of audiences’ ages.  As much of a role as they play, one would be remiss to note the recording’s companion booklet as an important factor to the whole experience.  The companion booklet that comes with the cocnert’s DVD presentation offers audiences a thorough look at the concert from start to finish, much as with the band’s other archived live performance from 1981 at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  It even goes into detail on the band’s backing musicians instead of just the band itself.  As if this isn’t enough the companion booklet includes an equally thorough summary on the evening’s concert once again written up by Richard Havers.  Havers composed the liner notes for the band’s other From The Vault concert from 1981.  This in-depth look at this concert plays directly into the aforementioned factors to make it just as important to the whole as them.  Together with those aspects, it completes the experience and proves ultimately again why The Rolling Stones is one of rock’s elite acts.  Having so much content and such a quality overall experience, it also shows once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings.

From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

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.

Zodiac’s “Sonic Child” Is Another One Of 2014’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Pure Rock Records

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

When Prosthetic Records added Zodiac to its roster two years ago, it went without saying that doing so was something of a gamble for the label.  It was such a gamble because much like Century Media, Metal Blade, Roadrunner, and others, Prosthetic is known more for the “extreme metal” bands that make up its roster than for the likes of the Munster, Germany-based band.  That’s not to say that Prosthetic sticks primarily to that more extreme sound.  Acts such as Niacin and Felix Martin both stand out among Prosthetic’s other acts.  Zodiac however has become the label’s most commercially viable band since Lamb of God was signed on with the company.  Zodiac’s mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock has helped the band to stand out among its label mates ever since the release of its 2012 Prosthetic Records debut A Bit of Devil.  Now with its third full-length studio effort, Zodiac has one again set itself apart from its label mates and grown just as much musically.  From the slow blues-based opener ‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ to the more up-tempo neo stoner rocker that is ‘Holding On’ to the equally catchy closer ‘Swinging on the Run,’ this record proves to have not one bad moment.  It proves to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Sonc Child, Zodiac’s third full-length studio effort, is by and large the band’s best work to date.  With its mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock sounds, this record proves to be one that every rock purist should hear at least once.  Right off the top, the band grabs listeners without really trying in the album’s opener ‘A Penny and a Dead Horse.’  The twelve-bar blues churned out in the song’s “A” section conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and so many of the forefathers of the blues.  Anyone that is a fan of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry, and other bands of that ilk will enjoy the more straight forward neo-stoner rock sound of the song’s “B” and “C” sections.  Lyrically, the song is just as enjoyable.  Vocalist Nick van Delft sings about an unnamed woman that has left a man, and left him with basically nothing.  Thus the song’s title.  van Delft sings of the woman, “Oh, woman/Where have you gone with that/Pot of gold/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/You had to leave me/Before the break of dawn/Somebody been haunting you/Somebody run you down/Over the yonder/Beyond the fields/Someone call your name/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/Sweet darlin’/You left me to die alone/With a penny and a dead horse.”  van Delft paints such a vivid picture thanks to the way in which he sings these lines.  The gradual tempo increase as the song progresses makes that picture just as vivid.  The picture goes from a man sitting alone in the darkness, perhaps drinking from a bottle of cheap whiskey to someone who feels something stronger as he and his band mates sing, “So long, so long” in the chorus.  The song’s final strains exhibit perhaps the man’s collapse.  This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation on the song.  Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now at the Prosthetic Records website at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  While there, audiences can also order Sonic Child, which was just recently released at the end of September.

‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ is a wonderful addition to Sonic Child. It is also just one excellent example of what makes this album such a surprisingly enjoyable record.  ‘Holding On’ is another solid example of why this record proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable rock record.  Where the album’s opener almost tells its own story, ‘Holding On’ is more of a straight-forward rock song.  It harkens back to rock and roll’s golden era much like Black Stone Cherry, Fireball Ministry, and others of that ilk.  van Delft sings against drummer Janosch Rathmer’s solid timekeeping and fellow guitarist Stephen Gall’s own work, “What is the point of your life/Your life/All covered up in those eyes/Those eyes/So now free mind/You’re one of a kind/Take a hold of the good things/And give sight to the blind/Tell me the one thing you see/Tell me the one thing you know/Show me the one thing you live for/Holding on.”  This set against the song’s opening verse in which van Delft sings, “Time keeps on ticking/Revealing your patience/It’s only a matter of self-defense/Eager to please/Your only disease/It’s just the weight on your mind/A day of your life/A step on your way to return” makes the song especially interesting.  There is a seeming message about each one of us having a meaning in life and it being just a matter of finding that meaning.  Again, that could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is right, though.  Regardless, the very fact that it could lead to such deep thought serves to make this song all the more enjoyable.  The guitar solo in the song’s final movement adds even more enjoyment to the whole work.  Between that impressive guitar work, the deep, thoughtful lyrics and the overall talent displayed here, ‘Holding On’ shows again why any rock and roll purist should give this record at least one listen.

Zodiac shows throughout the course of its latest full-length release why this record is just as good as any album released by its bigger-named counterparts.  That is evidenced in the songs previously noted here.  From its more blues-tinged rock to its more neo-stoner sound, there is not one moment that disappoints on this record.  There is almost something of a more modern rock and roll influence in the album’s closer ‘Swinging on the Run.’  Much like the album’s opener and other tracks on this disc, ‘Swinging on the Run’ is not one for anyone with a short attention span.  This track clocks in at just over six minutes.  It’s not the album’s longest work.  that honor belongs to the aptly titled ‘Rock Bottom Blues.’  That song comes in at just over the nine minute mark.  And anyone that is a fan of the likes of The Allman Brothers Band will especially enjoy this piece with its smoky, old school blues-rock sound.  Getting back to ‘Swinging on the Run,’ audiences can clearly hear influences from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, and so many others that have come before as the song progresses.  It shows a good song doesn’t necessarily always need lyrics to be enjoyable.  that being the case, it makes perfect sense why it was chosen as the band’s final statement on this record.  It leaves audiences knowing that they have experienced something very special.  It leaves listeners knowing that along with those tracks noted here, and the remaining seven not noted, they have in Sonic Child an album that is just as deserving of respect from rock purists as any album released by the band’s more well-known counterparts.  And given the right support from listeners and radio programmers alike, it could become just as big a record as those released by said bands.

Sonic Child is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Prosthetic Records online store at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  More information on Sonic Child and all of the latest updates from Zodiac is available online at:

Website: http://www.zodiac-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Zodiac.Rock

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.

Lionsgate’s Latest Power Rangers DVD A Good Watch Any Time Of The Year

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Saban/Saban Brands

Nickelodeon is set to close out the latest installment of Saban’s hugely popular Power Rangers franchise this weekend.  Power Rangers Super Megaforce will close out this Saturday on Nickelodeon.  Before it closes out Saban and Lionsgate have released a new featuring a holiday episode from this season.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas brings to audiences yet another new holiday tale from what has over the years become a worldwide phenomenon.  What audiences will appreciate most of all in this episode is the fact that yet again, the people behind the franchise have switched things up in this episode instead of repeating the same story as in previous Power Rangers seasons.  This is especially important considering some of the redundancy that can be seen in the seasons that followed the franchise’s original seven-season run.  The lessons taught in the central episode tie directly in to that originality.  It’s another reason that audiences will appreciate this installment from the Megaforce Rangers.  Speaking of lessons being taught, the lessons taught in the companion episodes are just as important to the overall presentation.  The episodes themselves may not be Christmas-themed.  But the lessons shared in said episodes are just as applicable during the holidays as they are any other time of the year.  Those lessons coupled with the lessons taught in the DVD’s central episode and said episode’s originality combine to make this DVD one that any Power Rangers fan will enjoy whether during the holidays or any other time of the year.

Over the course of its now twenty-ne years on television, Saban’s Power Rangers franchise has made a tradition of running a new Christmas-themed episode in every season.  And every season’s Christmas episode has proven to be different from the last.  This applies both stylistically and in terms of their stories.  Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is no different in that fashion.  Given, it is for all intents and purposes a clip show.  And it’s not the first time that Saban has used clip shows in previous seasons of the Power Rangers.  But through the use of the various clips, the story is more than just another typical clip show.  For that matter, it’s also not just another piece telling about the “true meaning of Christmas.”  The show’s writers incorporate the values commonly associated with Christmas into Robo Knight’s own attempt to better understand humans.  The end result is something of a third person vantage point that helps to better illustrate the morals and values that are so important not just during the holiday season but during any time of the year.  The show’s writers accomplish this goal without being overly preachy about it, either.  Sure there’s some sappiness.  But it’s still a good non-traditional piece that focuses on the holiday season and its associated values.

The lesson centering on Christmas’ values and Robo Knight’s own attempt to understand those values couple to make Robo Knight Before Christmas another enjoyable Christmas episode of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise.  Staying on that same train of thought, the two Power Rangers episodes included as bonuses offer audiences their own positive lessons.  Neither episode takes place during Christmas or even the holiday season.  But they still teach invaluable lessons.  Power Rangers Wild Force’s episode “Team Carnival” teaches an important and invaluable lesson about self-worth.  The interesting thing of the episode is that the writers behind that season actually also took a non-traditional route in presenting said lesson.  In the case of this episode, that season’s writers presented the lesson through the use of the season’s villains Toxica (Sin Wong) and Jindrax (Danny Wayne).  When Jindrax sees that Toxica has her own family in the fight against the Power Rangers, it makes Jindrax feel worthless.  He ends up teaming up with his own family member to fight the rangers and still learns his own valuable lesson about self-worth in the long run.  It’s interesting to see any episode of the Power Rangers make a villain a sympathetic character.  But it works here.  That and the lesson centering on personal self-worth makes this episode its own invaluable addition to this DVD.  It’s one more reason that this latest Power Rangers is another *ahem* mega-hit for audiences.

The second of the bonus episodes included in the new Power Rangers Megaforce DVD, “The Spirit of Kindness,” comes from Power Rangers Jungle Fury.  The most important lesson taught through this episode could be argued to be that of the golden rule so to speak.  As audiences will see in this episode, Casey (Jason Smith)  finally wins over an old nemesis in Whiger (Jared Turner) and convinces Whiger to join him in fighting Whiger’s own former evil ally.  Whiger admits before disappearing that he fought alongside Casey because Casey was kind to him unlike the season’s other villains.  He finally realized in that final moment before his own demise the importance of kindness.  It taught Casey that kindness can be just as powerful as fighting, too.  That in itself is an extremely important lesson to be taken away from this episode.  It’s one more lesson that is just as important during the holiday season as any other time of the year.  This lesson combined with the others presented on this DVD shows once more how much the Power Rangers franchise has to offer audiences even two decades plus after it first debuted.

If the lessons taught in each of the DVD’s trio of episodes isn’t enough for audiences, then the fact that the DVD comes with a bonus digital copy will win over audiences.  Having that digital copy means that audiences can take all three of these episodes with them wherever they go.  So the lessons and the entertaining stories can be shared with any viewer without having to lug around the DVD.  It is the finishing touch to yet another DVD that any Power Rangers fan will appreciate.

Power Rangers Megaforce: Robo Knight Before Christmas is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=31609&TitleParentId=9994.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

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.

Parents, Educators Can Count On Leap Frog’s New DVD

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

Parents and educators alike have so many tools at their disposal today with which to use to educate children.  Television and the internet are both key resources.  Even video games offer their own educational content.  It’s just a matter of finding the right games.  And then there is another standby in the form of DVDs and Blu-rays.  There are perhaps just as many DVDs and Blu-rays from which to choose as there are websites and TV programs combined.  There are so many in fact, that deciding which one(s) to use to educate children can be as stressful as holiday shopping.  Thankfully, Lionsgate and Leap Frog have made that choice just a little bit easier thanks to its recently released DVD Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade.  It is the latest in a series of home releases from Lionsgate and Leap Frog.  And it is another great tool for parents and teachers alike that is just as valuable in the classroom as it is in the living room.  There is plenty to note that makes this DVD worth the watch, not the least of which being the presentation’s central story.  The story presented in this presentation sees the twins Lily and Tad deciding to raise money to buy books for their local library.  There is so much that can be said of this.  And it will be noted momentarily.  As important as the story is to the overall presentation, the combined lessons on both spelling and basic math are quite well balanced, making for even more enjoyment for young viewers.  The educational content and the presentation’s overall story that make up Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade more than make this DVD worth the watch whether in the classroom or the living room.  Speaking of its usefulness, kids can watch the DVD not just in the classroom and the living room but on the go, too.  The DVD comes complete with a digital copy for kids to watch on any mobile platform.  That means kids can be entertained and educated at the same time any time of the day, anywhere.  That is not to discount the “Curriculum commentaries” for parents and educators or the sing-a-long videos for young audiences.  These are added in as bonus material.  They round out the entire presentation and show once more why this DVD is well worth checking out no matter where one intends to use it.

Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade is not the first DVD to be released from Lionsgate and Leap Frog.  It is still a great tool for parents and educators, and an equally great watch for young audiences.  The reasons for this are so many that it would take too long to note them all.  One positive that can be noted though is the central story presented in the DVD.  The central story presented in this program focuses on Tad and Lily’s plans to raise money to buy new books for their local library.  We live in an age today in which books are increasingly going by the wayside in favor of all things digital.  So seeing that Leap Frog and Lionsgate are essentially promoting both books and literacy is by itself a huge positive.  The subtle promotion of community service to the story is worthy of applause, too.  It is great to see that not everybody has given over to the digital movement…at least not in full considering the promotion of actual physical books.  Whether or not Leap Frog and Lionsgate actually intended to promote physical books through the program’s central story is anyone’s guess.  Regardless, it is still nice to have that in there.  Children need to remember books.  For that matter, kids shouldn’t grow up knowing only digital books.  They should be able to experience the joys of actually holding a physical book versus the cold sterile e-readers out there.  Again, this aspect of the story may be subtle.  But it is an important and welcome addition to the whole that is the program’s central script.  The promotion of literacy is par for course from Leap Frog.  So Leap Frog and Lionsgate are to be applauded just as much for that.  The positives don’t end here, either.    The educational content contained in this program is just as noteworthy as its central story.

The educational content that is provided throughout Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade’s roughly thirty-five minute run time is just as important to its enjoyment and success as the central story line.  This installment of Leap Frog’s rather popular series of DVDs balances elements of both math and spelling showing how the two work hand in hand just as much as they work separately.  Tad and Lily have to use basic math skills in order to make the perfect lemonade mix.  At the same time, they incorporate basic spelling skills when assembling their lemonade stand among other activities.  Many of the lessons are accompanied by short, catchy songs that are sure to have young viewers singing along.  And with any luck, the songs will help said young viewers have an easier time remembering the lessons taught throughout the program.  That balance of math and spelling lessons coupled with the catchy songs used to teach them makes for yet another reason that audiences will appreciate and enjoy this latest DVD regardless of age and where it is viewed.  Speaking of where it is viewed, this is one more reason that Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade succeeds as much as it does.  The DVD comes coupled with a digital copy that can be viewed on any mobile web device. This is especially worth noting for any on-the-go family.  And even it in itself still isn’t all that makes this new DVD such a worthwhile watch.

The collective songs and lessons centered on basic math and spelling presented in Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade are by themselves plenty of reason that audiences will enjoy this program.  The feature’s central story makes the whole thing even more enjoyable for parents, educators, and children alike.  As important as these factors are to the presentation in whole, they still are not all that makes it worth watching.  Parents and educators will note that it is presented both with a physical and digital copy. That means that young viewers can enjoy it anywhere and anytime.  In an age when families seem to be increasingly on the go, this is especially important to the DVD in whole.  It means kids can still enjoy the DVD whether coming or going from school, going on a family trip or in any other given situation when not at home.  It may not seem like much of an addition, especially considering that so many DVDs and Blu-rays come complete with digital copies.  But in the grand scheme of things, it is extremely important considering all of the distractions that children have today.  Having this program in digital form is one more way to keep young viewers away from said distractions and still entertain and educate them at the same time.  So for that reason alone , the people at Leap Frog and Lionsgate deserve a standing ovation here.  That isn’t to discount the DVD’s curriculum discussions for parents and educators or the sing-a-long feature included as bonus material.  They play their own role to the DVD, too.  They are topics for another discussion.  The factors noted here collectively prove in the end that Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade is one of those rare children’s DVDs well worth the watch and the price.

Letter Factory Adventures: Counting on Lemonade is available now on DVD/Digital combo pack in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Leap Frog is available online at

Website: http://www.LeapFrog.com

Facebook: http://wwww.facebook.com/LeapFrog

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LeapFrog

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.