Independent Indian Prog-Metal Band’s New Single Is A Deeply Compelling Work

Courtesy:  Symphony Novel

Courtesy: Symphony Novel

India-based progressive metal band Symphony Novel recently debuted its latest single.  ‘Ethereal Ash,’ the band’s latest single is a piece that is unlike the works crafted by most other bands of its ilk.  Its mix of traditional Indian musical styling and heavier, progressive metal makes for a song that defies the standards of progressive metal itself.  The song’s rather thought provoking lyrics set against that hybrid musical side makes the song even more intriguing for anyone looking for something that will actually make audiences stop for once and take real notice.  The song’s companion video adds even more depth, making for even more interest among audiences.  Together with the song’s lyrical and musical side, it serves to make ‘Ethereal Ash’ a song that everyone should hear at least once.

One of the most common practices that many American rock bands use in their records is incorporating a Middle Eastern sound into its music.  It’s something that’s used all too often in the hard rock world.  Save for indie rock band Boy Hits Car, few other bands today have really utilized Indian music in their records.  So hearing a band from India actually turning the tables and utilizing more Western elements into its own sound to create this song is actually relatively original.  That hybrid sound is the core of what makes ‘Ethereal Ash’ so intriguing.  The dual guitar attack of Vivek Khati and Rachit Sachdeva conjures thoughts of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s own work.  And the harmonies created by Gauri Ayeer and Suvarna Tiwari’s dual vocals are so haunting to say the very least.  There is so much power in the subtle manner in which they carry their parts.  The addition of a cello line to the song adds even more depth to the song’s musical side that must be heard to be fully appreciated.  As subtle as it is, this part combined with the heavier elements of the song’s musical side adds so much emotional depth to the song.  ‘Etheral Ash’s’ musical side is by itself an impressive part of the whole song.  The reality of the matter is that if the song were to have only its musical side to boast, it would still be just as interesting as it is with its lyrical side.  Speaking of the song’s lyrical side, the lyrics are one more element of ‘Ethereal Ash’ that makes it such an interesting work.

The musical side of ‘Etheral Ash’ by itself makes this latest single from Symphony Novel worth more than just one listen.  It makes the song one that anyone looking for something truly original should hear.  The lyrical side of ‘Ethereal Ash’ takes the song’s musical side and adds even more depth to the song.  The band explains that the song’s lyrical content is rather socially charged.  It centers on mankind’s mistreatment of the Earth, and the potential outcome of mankind’s mistreatment.  Ayeer and Tiwari sing in the song’s opening verse, “Rain falls again/Unfurls wild color/The earth smirks insane/Carpets the stain of sorrow/New wings span everywhere/Embrace the veil of destiny.”  The band urges a warning in the song’s verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing, “Heavens are clear now/But it wouldn’t last forever/Winds stay sealed in a jar/Away from all the torture/Silence kills me now/Leaves a trail of bleeding tears/From the pages of a story foretold/Epiphany.”  Sachveda notes of these words that they are meant metaphorically, saying that mankind has done such damage to Earth that the winds themselves want to be put in a jar away from all of the bad things humans have done to the planet.  He goes on to note that the lines regarding all of this environmental destruction were foretold.  That likely isn’t necessarily a reference to Nostradamus but to other “prophecies.”  Things only get more dire in the song’s second verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing of crashing waves (tsunamis) and other signs of the prophecy in question.  Sachveda notes that in writing this line, he was thinking of all of the natural disasters that have been ravaging the Earth in recent years, thus that verse was written.  It’s a foreboding warning, true.  But it is also a very powerful statement, too.  It was not meant to be preachy, but rather to get people to sit up and take notice of what humans have done to the world.  He wanted to get people to consider the ramifications of the damage being done to the Earth without being preachy but rather more poetic.  The good news is that said goal was attained and done expertly, too.  It really doesn’t come across as just another nihilistic downer of a song.  But it definitely does hit hard when taking those lyrics into consideration.  Taking also into consideration such hard-hitting lyrics next to the song’s deeply emotional musical side, ‘Ethereal Ash’ becomes an even more powerful piece for audiences to take in.

The combination of ‘Ethereal Ash’s’ musical and lyrical sides makes this song a hard hitting work.  They combine to make a song that is just as strong as anything released by Symphony Novel’s more well-known prog-rock counterparts both stateside and overseas.  Given the chance, ‘Ethereal Ash’ could make Symphony Novel one of the next big names in prog-metal and even world music.  Thankfully, the band has increased its chances of the song being heard around the world as it has posted the song’s companion video online via YouTube.  Audiences can view the video online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqRPUvJkPqI.  The video incorporates that element of a prophecy of sorts to add even more depth to the song.  It presents right off the top, a document that is surrounded by candles in an otherwise dark room.  That same document comes into play throughout the course of the song, with the song’s lyrics fading in and out.  This is mixed in with shots of the band recoding the song in the studio.  It heightens the song’s emotional impact even more when given full attention.  That added emotion coupled with the combination of the song’s musical and lyrical sides prove even more why ‘Ethereal Ash’ is the song that could help Symphony Novel become one of the next big names in the realm of prog-metal.

‘Ethereal Ash’ is Symphony Novel’s latest single.  The band’s debut album ARIA is available online now via Amazon, CDBaby, and other online retailers.  More information on that album and all of the latest news from Symphony Novel is available online at:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SymphonyNovel

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The Wonder Years Season One Is A Wonder-Ful Box Set

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista Entertainment

Twenty-one years ago, one of the greatest television series in the modern era of television came to an end after six seasons.  The series in question is none other than ABC’sThe Wonder Years.  The Wonder Years was and is today one of the greatest series in the network’s history.  Few shows have made as much of an impact for ABC as The Wonder Years before or since.  That’s not to say that there are none.  There are those that obviously have.  But for that network alone, The Wonder Years remains today one of the network’s absolutely most beloved series.  While The Wonder Years did see some VHS releases after it ended its initial run, it had not seen the light of day since then.  That is until now.  Next Tuesday, October 7th, StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment will release the first season of this hugely acclaimed series to audiences alongside a pair of full series set for the series’ most diehard fans.  The complete series box sets are a bit pricey, needless to say.  That means that many fans will be aiming more for the first season box set that will be released alongside those boxes.  There is just as much to appreciate about the stand-alone Season One box set as those full series sets.  The most obvious factor that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion of all six (yes, six) episodes from the series’ first season.  The companion booklet included in the box set adds to the enjoyment factor even more.  And last but not least is the bonus material included with the set.  All three of these factors together make The Wonder YearsSeason One one of the most welcome new box sets this year.

The Wonder Years was one of the greatest series to ever come to television.  It is still one of the greatest in television’s modern era to this day.  The series worked so well because like so many series of its time, it had such substance and originality.  There was also so much heart to the show.  It all showed through clearly thanks to the hard work of the series’ writers.  This is the case even in the series’ debut season.  Audiences that pick up Season One will hear the cast and crew discuss in the bonus features that heart and substance among many other topics.  That will be discussed at a later point.  Getting back to the point, the writing within Season One’s episodes is the most important of factors in this season’s enjoyment and success.  That’s especially the case considering the fact that Season One lasted all of six episodes.  Audiences are taken back to 1968, well before most of the show’s audiences had even been thought of.  Despite this fact, the themes carried within each episode are timeless.  Families having to deal with personal loss, young love, and the general coming-of-age themes are ones to which even today’s audiences can relate.  Given, times have changed.  So the situations portrayed in these episodes might have evolved in a manner of speaking.  But by and large, they still remain just as relatable today as they were in the episodes’ original broadcasts.

The themes presented within each of Season One’s episodes are timeless.  They are themes to which audiences of all ages can relate even today.  That in itself is quite the statement to the work of the series’ original writers.  Collectively, they make up what is just one part of the whole that is such a joy for all audiences in The Wonder Years: Season One.  Another part of Season One that audiences will appreciate is the set’s companion booklet.  Yes, that’s right.  The booklet carries just as much weight as the episodes themselves presented in this season’s set.  The reason that the set’s companion booklet is so important is that it serves as far more than just another ordinary, run-of-the-mill episode guide.  Audiences get in the double-disc set’s companion booklet an episode guide.  They get a thorough history of the show, too.  There are in-depth notes about the show’s production, from Kevin (Fred Savage) and Winnie’s (Danica McKellar) first kiss to personal thoughts on the episodes and even music listings from each episode and more.  Audiences that might not have known will be interested to learn that Kevin and Winnie’s kiss in this season was also the very first for Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  Both actors offer more insight on that moment in the bonus features included with the set.  And the show’s runners offer their own insight into the episodes and specific characters throughout Season One both in this booklet and the bonus features included in the set.  Again, the bonus features will be touched on later.  The music listing included in the set’s companion booklet is especially important to the whole as it was in fact that music rights that held up the series’ release for so many years.  Now, audiences get to hear all the great classic music from the series’ setting and even learn about said songs thanks to their listing and a brief history on those that performed said songs in each episode.  The inclusion of that brief history on the songs makes for a great introduction to a whole new world of music for audiences of all ages.  It helps to introduce them to music to which they might not have otherwise previously had knowledge or interest in those songs.  All of the collective information and insight provided in Season One’s companion booklet enhances the overall viewing experience.  Together with the timeless, solidly written episodes, the two factors make this set all the more of a must have for anyone that grew up a fan of this modern classic.

The timeless, solidly written episodes that make up The Wonder Years: Season One are themselves more than enough reason for fans of this modern classic series to add this set to their personal collections.  The companion booklet that comes with the set heightens the enjoyment of the box set even more.  That is because of the amount of information and insight included throughout the booklet.  It isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide.  In direct connection to both the episodes and the set’s companion booklet, the bonus material included in Season One’s box set rounds out the package.  The most important of the bonuses included in this set is “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Early Days of the Wonder Years.”  This feature includes interviews with the cast and crew, including the show’s creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black, and from lead actors Fred Savage and Danica McKellar.  There is also some insight from actor Daniel Stern (Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, City Slickers, Bushwhacked) in regards to narrating the series and how closely certain episodes actually mirrored his own personal life.  As noted before, both McKellar and Savage discuss that first kiss.  McKellar laughs as she discusses the slight discomfort at having an audience for the scripted kiss.  That was the case being that it was the first kiss period for both actors both on screen and off.  Co-stars Josh Saviano (Paul) and Jason Hervey (Wayne) share their own thoughts on the show’s early days alongside Dan Lauria and Alley Mills who played Kevin and Wayne’s parents Jack and Norma.  The cast reunion highlights and personal interviews also included as bonuses each offer their own enjoyment.  But the look back at the series’ early days offers the most enjoyment of the bonus features.  That is because it is a direct compliment to the episodes themselves and the set’s companion booklet.  Together with the booklet and Season One’s timeless, solidly written episodes, that one bonus feature alone serves to make this box set complete.  It is that proverbial cherry on the banana split that is The Wonder Years: Season One.  Audiences will see that for themselves when they purchase this box set or order it for themselves when it is made available next Tuesday, October 7th.

The episodes that make up the first season of The Wonder Years are some of the most impressive from the debut season of any series in television’s modern era.  Their themes are timeless.  The result is a group of episodes that audiences of any age will appreciate today.  The companion booklet included with Season One makes this box set even more enjoyable because it isn’t just another run-of-the-mill episode guide booklet.  It offers an episode guide, yes.  But it also offers a history on the series, on the series’ music, and a certain amount of insight on the season’s episodes in particular.  That depth makes the episodes even more enjoyable for viewers.  And the bonus features pick right up where the companion booklet leaves off, rounding out the whole package.  The people at StarVista and Time Life obviously went to great lengths to make sure that each of these elements would make the biggest impact possible for fans of The Wonder Years.  They did that and more.  All three factors together prove The Wonder Years: Season One to be one of the most welcome new box sets of 2014.  The Wonder Years: Season One will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 7th on DVD.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Wonder-Years-Season-1/dp/B00L9OPFTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1412286805&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Wonder+Years+Season+One.  More information on this and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.timelife.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Peace At All Costs Is Well Worth The Cost

Courtesy:  Century Media Records/Another Century

Courtesy: Century Media Records/Another Century

Las Vegas, NV-based hard rock band Otherwise surprised a lot of people in 2012 when it released its Century Media Records debut album True Love Never Dies. The album was such a surprise among audiences because like label mate Girl On Fire, Fozzy, and Adrenaline Mob, the band’s more mainstream sound wasn’t exactly within the mold of the bands that have made Century Media one of the leading labels in hard rock and metal. That album was met with relatively positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. Now two years later, Century Media has responded to the success of that album by releasing the band’s new release (it’s second for the label and third overall) on its fledgling label Another Century. The new label is the sister label of sorts to Century Media. It serves to focus on the likes of Otherwise and its previously noted label mates. Audiences will agree in hearing Otherwise’s new album Peace at all Costs that the re-assignment of sorts to Century Media’s new label is quite the well-deserved vote of confidence in the band. Peace at all Costs takes the melodic hard rock sound established on the band’s Century Media debut and has built on that sound here, musically speaking. Lyrically, the band covers a range of topics, too. From personal relationships to overcoming one’s own personal demons, and points in between, the album’s lyrical content makes the album just as solid of a listen for fans new and old alike.

Otherwise covers a number of topics throughout the course of its new album. The most prominent topic covered across the album is that of personal relationships. Most of the album’s songs that center on personal relationships deal mainly in the issue of broken relationships as is evident in the album’s first full length song, the aptly titled ‘Love & War.’ The song is a full throttle fist pumper that will have audiences singing along from start to finish. The dual guitar attack from Ryan Patrick and Andrew Pugh set against Corky Gainsford’s drumming provides the song with so much of a punch. The song’s infectious chorus of “Love and war/It’s all the same to me/No use fighting/Lie some more/It’s all I ever need/So why you hiding/Love and war/It’s all the same to me presents a situation to which so many people can relate. The manner in which it was written is especially because it doesn’t necessarily specify if this is being sung from the standpoint of a man or woman. And the sarcasm in front man Adrian Patrick’s voice as he sings, “Lie to me/It’s all I ever need” is perfectly clear. It makes the chorus in whole all the more powerful of a statement. The talent of Patricks’ band mates not only in the song’s chorus but throughout makes the song in whole a solid re-introduction for the band’s older fans and an equally solid first impression for those that might be new to the band’s body of work.

Otherwise could not have possibly opened its new album in a better way than with the aggressive, seemingly relationship based song ‘Love & War.’ Rather than take the standard oh-woe-is-me approach to the issue of a troubled and/or broken relationship, the band takes the polar opposite approach to such a topic, making for a song that deserves consideration as another single to promote the record. The topic of relationships is not the only topic tackled on Peace at all Costs. The band also offers its listeners some music therapy of sorts in the pummeling ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne).’ Just as ‘Love & War’ could be used as a single, so could this song. It could be used as a single as both its musical and lyrical content will have audiences singing proudly along, horns high in the air. It comes across as a song promoting self-empowerment. [Adrian] Patrick sings in this song, “Hey kid/Who you fightin’/Fight yourself so you can stand united/With the voices that are screamin’ loud inside your head/Hey kid/Get it together/Every second doesn’t last forever/You could be the president/Or you could end up dead/Take control of the monster inside of you/Focus the rage/All the answers are right there in front of you/Just turn the page/Wake up/When you’re burning inside/And everybody’s gone and lost their faith in you/Wake up/You’d better open your eyes/Look around/’Cause there’s so much love to lose/Heavy is the heart of the one who walks alone/Let ‘em know that you’re comin’ for the throne!” The song’s second verse carries just as much power and is just as infectious. It goes without saying that this song is one of the best additions to this album. Sure, Patrick sings, “Hey, kid” in the song’s versus, seemingly singing to younger listeners. It would make sense. But even older audiences can take something from this song as even adults struggle with feelings of self-loathing, depression, etc. So there is a value even to those audiences. Add in an infectious chorus and some really pummeling guitar riffs and audiences get in this song a work that is one of the highest of highs throughout the album.

‘Love & War’ and ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne)’ are both prime examples of what makes Peace at all Costs such an impressive new effort from Otherwise. One song tackles the standard relationship fare that is prevalent on so many records from so many genres. What sets the song apart from those other works is it doesn’t take the standard oh-woe-is-me approach to the topic. It takes that road less traveled. And the empowering, almost anthemic ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne)’ is certain to become a fan favorite thanks to its combination of hard rocking music and equally powerful lyrics. Both songs are sure to have audiences talking for both their musical and lyrical content both by themselves and as whole works. There is at least one more song among the album’s fourteen total tracks and forty-five-minute run time that will have audiences talking for a wholly different reason. That song comes late in the album in the form of ‘For The Fallen Ones.’ Patrick and his band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “Raise your glass/For the fallen ones,” leading listeners to think that perhaps the song is a tribute to America’s men and women in uniform. However, the song’s verses paint a somewhat different picture. Patrick sings in the song’s second verse, “Now nothing feels the same/Picking up the pieces/ Color in the secrets/And I don’t feel ashamed/Now that I am older/Another fallen soldier.” It’s tough to figure out if Patrick is using the soldier as a metaphor or if he is directly mentioning a soldier. A look at the song’s opening verse leaves one wondering scratching one’s head, but not in a bad way. Patrick sings in the song’s opening verse, “I don’t need to blame/The scent of my father/The scars of my mother/For the beast that I became/Now I shine the light on my sisters and my brothers/It’s all I needed/To feel alive/We’ll never have to say goodbye.” One could see how this song would be in reference to America’s military personnel. It could be argued that it’s sung from the vantage point of someone that joined the military and became a better person considering his or her past life in turn. It would be interesting to hear from the band itself the exact meaning behind the song. If it is in fact a tribute to the military personnel past and present that made the ultimate sacrifice, it wouldn’t be the first song from the band to have done so. That’s not a bad thing, either. Regardless, the very fact that it could generate so much discussion on its topic all while entertaining audiences with its musical side says plenty of why this is another guaranteed hit, regardless of whether or not it is used as a single. And it is one more example of why audiences will enjoy Peace at all Costs whether they are new to the band’s work or are more seasoned fans.

Peace at all Costs boasts a total of fourteen tracks. Interestingly enough, the album in whole comes in at less than an hour long. To be exact, its total run time (TRT for any media people out there) is roughly forty-five minutes. That’s a shocker to be honest. One would think fourteen tracks would equal out to a much longer run time. That aside, audiences that pick up this latest effort from Otherwise will agree that each of those tracks offers something that every listener will appreciate. The songs noted here are just a few examples of what makes the album work as well as it does. They are this critic’s own personal favorites from the whole thing. Audiences can pick up the album and pick out their own favorites now as the album was officially released yesterday in stores and online. It can be ordered via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/otherwise/id164633854 and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Otherwise/e/B001LHTTN0. Audiences can also pick up Peace at all Costs at any of the band’s live shows as the band is currently touring in support of its new album. It is playing a trio of dates in Wisconsin this week today through Friday before making its way to Michigan Sunday and Indiana next Monday and Tuesday, September 22nd and 24th. Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule and keep up with all of the latest updates from the band online at

Website: http://www.weareotherwise.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial
Twitter: http://twitter.com/wearetherwise

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.

Grammer’s Sophomore Album Is One Of The Best New Pop Albums Of 2014

Courtesy:  S-Curve Records

Courtesy: S-Curve Records

Andy Grammer’s second full length album Magazines or Novels is one of this year’s best new pop albums.  Grammer shows on his new album that the past two years on the road haven’t left him any worse for wear.  He has picked up on Magazines or Novels right where he left off with his 2011 self-titled debut record as is evidenced by the album’s lead single ‘Back Home.’  The celebratory tune shows that Grammer has actually stepped things up with this album.  And the album’s opener ‘Honey, I’m Good’ is sure to impress Grammer’s female fans out there.  It takes a road far less traveled in the world of pop music.  And the equally poppy love song ‘Holding Out’ is a piece that both Grammer’s male and female fans will appreciate.  While it is a song of love found, it’s not the sappy song that so many songs of its ilk prove to be in the long run.  These three songs are just a few of the pieces that make Magazines or Novels another hit for Andy Grammer.  The album’s remaining six songs each present their own enjoyment, too.  Audiences will agree that whether it be for the songs noted here, or the remaining unnoted pieces, there is plenty of reason to call Magazines or Novels one of the best new pop albums of 2014.

Andy Grammer surprised a lot of people in 2011 when he released his self-titled debut record on S-Curve Records.  Now three years later, Grammer has shown that he isn’t just another flash-in-the-pan act on his sophomore album.  He has proven that right off the bat with the album’s celebratory single ‘Back Home.’  The infectious chorus of “It don’t matter where we go/We always find our way back home” will instantly get stuck in listeners’ heads.  And the equally positive vibe of the song’s verses set against its musical backing makes it even clearer why Grammer has a bright future.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “I’m gonna need you to raise your glass/I don’t care what you put in it/Here’s to nights that you can’t take back/We live hard/But we love to laugh/We all thought that we’d get rich fast…See we won’t forget where we came from/This city won’t change us/We beat to the same drum/No we won’t forget where we came from/This city can’t change us/We beat to the same drum.”  From here, the song kicks into that celebratory chorus before going on to paying tribute to all the little things that make life so great in the song’s second and third verse.  The song’s upbeat musical backing throughout is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face as they sing happily along. From start to finish.  All of the elements combined here show why this song was chosen as the first representative work from Grammer’s new album.  For that matter, they combine to show why just as the album in whole is one of the year’s best, so is this single by itself one of the year’s best new songs.  The video for the song can be viewed online now at Grammer’s official website here.

‘Back Home’ is a wonderful first impression from Andy Grammer on his second full length studio effort.  It’s only one song on this record that makes the work in whole such a joy for listeners.  Another example of what makes Magazines or Novels such a joy is the album’s opener, ‘Honey, I’m Good.’  In an age when so many pop and R&B songs are centered on breakups and unfaithful significant others, Grammer has proven that it is actually possible to make a song that is about a faithful individual overcoming the temptation of cheating.  He sings in this song, “Naw, naw honey I’m good/I could have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I got somebody at home/It’s been a long night here/And a long night there/And these long, long legs have been damn near everywhere/Hold up now/You look good/I will not lie/But if you ask where I’m stayin’ tonight/I gotta be like/Awww, baby/Naw, baby/You got me all wrong, baby/My baby’s already got all of my love/So naw, naw honey, I’m good/I could probably have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I got somebody at home/And if I stay/I might not leave alone/Naw honey, I’m good/I could probably have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I gotta bid you adieu to another/I will stay true.”  It’s not the first time that Grammer has paid tribute to women, either.   He paid tribute to the memory or his mother and to women in general more than once on his self-titled debut.  So that he would pay tribute to women everywhere again is sure to impress quite a few listeners to say the least.  Audiences can check out this song on Grammer’s official website along with the video for ‘Back Home’ now here.

It’s a great thing to hear on the opener to Andy Grammer’s new LP that he takes the road far less traveled in the world of pop music.  The equally upbeat lead single ‘Back Home’ only adds to the enjoyment that is this album.  They obviously aren’t the only songs on this record that make it a standout collection of songs.  There is neither enough time nor space to point out every single song that makes Magazines or Novels work as well as it does.  There is time and space though, for at least one more example of what makes this album such a joy.  That song is the poppy love song ‘Holding Out.’  Grammer sings here about the revelation that past relationships not working out was a good thing.  In his words, it was a good thing because he realized that he was just “holding out” for a certain woman.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “When I met you love/I hadn’t done the dirty yet/You called me a unicorn/You said that I didn’t exist/Truth is my heart was torn/The V had a couple of rips/But I was still holding on/To the edges with my fingertips.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus that that all changed when his subject met the woman in question, though.  He sings of the change, “With a little bit of prayer/With a little bit of porn star (sorry)/Couple long nights of sleeping on my own/Waiting or the right one to come along/Waiting for the right one and now I know that I was holding out for you.”  Just as Grammer takes the road less traveled in the album’s opener, so does he take that same road with this piece, too.  Rather than take the standard, sappy, overly emotional R&B-style route, he opts for a more upbeat musical backing that still manages to reflect the cautious optimism felt in the blooming romance portrayed in the song’s lyrical side.  It’s a wonderful mix of musical and lyrical sensibility that is just as certain to have audiences singing along happily.  This is especially the case for Grammer’s female audiences.  And heck, even the guys out there could use it with the women they are dating to help put into words how they feel.  It’s one more way that this piece makes Magazines or Novels in whole an album that is just as welcome among audiences whether or not they are hearing his music for the first time.

Magazines or Novels is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon direct via Grammer’s official website here.  Audiences can also pick up his new album at any of the shows on his upcoming tour which kicks off Tuesday, September 9th.  The tour includes a performance at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina on Thursday, September 11th alongside O.A.R.  As with the album, tickets for this and all of Andy Grammer’s shows can be purchased direct via Grammer’s website.  Along with the latest tour updates, audiences can get the latest news on Andy Grammer online at http://www.facebook.com/andygrammer.  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.

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

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

Courtesy: Dark Star Records

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jefferson Grizzard’s Sophmore LP Another Solid “Modern Classic Rock” Record

Courtesy:  Back Porch Syndicate Records

Courtesy: Back Porch Syndicate Records

Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard has released in his sophomore album Learning How To Lie a record that any fan of the “modern classic rock” genre will appreciate. The dozen tracks that make up his latest album instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Seeger, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent. That’s thanks to the combination of his own vocal style set alongside From social commentary of sorts to songs of lost love and what would seem to be personal experiences, the songs on this album cover any number of topics. And the songs’ companion musical side serves to make each one all the better. One of the best examples of that social commentary comes in the form of the album’s title. The mournful yet powerful ballad ‘Lorelei’ is one of the best songs centered on a broken relationship. And ‘New Location’ comes across as a song that illustrates a personal experience. It would be interesting to hear from Grizzard himself on this infectious piece. Of course it and the other noted songs are but part of what makes Learning How To Lie a fit for any “modern classic rock” fan. There are nine other songs not noted here from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s). In hearing those other songs, those same listeners will agree that whether it be their first time hearing Grizzard’s music or not, this album is a solid work from start to finish.

One of the best examples of what makes Jefferson Grizzard’s latest record such a joy is its title track, which comes roughly halfway through the album. Grizzard writes in this bluesy rocker, “Lovers spasm up the stairs/Through cries of pleasure and despair/The pauper and the millionaire/Their fates are slowly fusing/Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields/Throw tear gas full of sex appeal/While riots make commercial reels/The cobbler slays the general/And the planet keeps on turning.” These musings come across as personal thoughts on the state of the world around us. “While riots make commercial reels” could be referencing the spots made by news agencies that tease the daily nightly newscasts. More often than not, those spots tend to feature violent stories such as riots. One look at the nightly newscasts across the “Big 4” networks proves that. He writes also that “Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields.” Anyone with any knowledge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will get this reference. It would seem that he’s speaking metaphorically, saying that something ugly lies beneath a weak façade. Of course this could be wrong being that it is just this critic’s own interpretation. Regardless, the fact that Grizzard could create such thoughts (and likely discussions) centered on this song just goes to prove its importance on this record. Audiences can make their own decisions when they check out the song’s official video online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9cEtilwnn4.

‘Learning How To Lie’ is a prime example of why “modern classic rock” fans will appreciate and enjoy Jefferson Grizzard’s sophomore CD by the same name. It’s just one of so many songs on the record that boasts a solid groove sure to have audiences singing along. And its seeming social commentary only serves to make it even more enjoyable. On the exact opposite side of that musical coin, Grizzard exhibits his softer side on the ballad of lost love, ‘Lorelei.’ The words themselves are only part of what makes this song so hard hitting. The addition of gentle piano runs, alongside a chorus backing Grizzard and his band mates, and an orchestral arrangement make this song a solid tearjerker. Grizzard sings overtop of those additions, “Hear the engine roar/She’s got me running/From my own sweet home/She’s got me feeling all alone/With shots of shattered bones/That leave me stranded/Crash landed in a field/Where her voice, it never yields/You’ve got centuries to fill/With all these words you’ve crafted.” He paints a picture of a relationship that did not exactly end well. Again, with the addition of the orchestration and choir, it becomes all the more impactful for any listener.

Both ‘Learning How To Lie’ and ‘Lorelei’ are excellent examples of what Grizzard offers audiences on his latest full length release. If they aren’t enough for listeners to give this album a chance, then ‘New Location’ most definitely will be enough. Grizzard gets pretty descriptive here, writing about a person living in a situation that is less than even substandard for lack of better wording. He writes in this song, “All my books are burning/The carpet’s stained with tar/There’s Raptors rippin’ all the second strings off my guitars/Outside on my deck/The dogs are howlin’ at the moon/Jackie’s in the basement/Puttin’ fire to a spoon/I aint tryin’ to make no accusations/But I can’t lie/I need a new location.” The imagery only gets more disturbing from here. And it’s no better early on. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the picture that he and his fellow musicians paint with their combination of lyrics and music make this one of the absolute highest of points. Audiences can download that song, the others noted here or any of the album’s other tracks now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Learning-How-Explicit-Jefferson-Grizzard/dp/B00JRE0R6M/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405712208&sr=1-2&keywords=jefferson+grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, after downloading the songs from his new album, audiences can keep up to date with all of the latest tour updates, news and more online at http://jeffersongrizzard.com and http://www.facebook.com/jeffersongrizzard. 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.

Tempt’s Debut EP Is A Guilty Pleasure For Any Fan Of Big Hair And Even Bigger Rock

Courtesy:  Chipster PR

Courtesy: Chipster PR

Indie rock band Tempt recently released its debut EP Under My Skin.  The New York based band’s debut record is something special, especially for fans of bands such as Def Leppard, Journey, Poison and others of that ilk.  The band’s members—Zach Allen (vocals), Harrison Marcello (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Jimmi Kane (drums), and Zak Gross (bass, vocals)—are way too young to have grown up in the 80s.  But the sound that the band’s members collectively craft is one that displays such respect for the music of the era.  It truly makes Tempt quite the rarity in the current era of rock music.  The band transports audiences back to that era of big hair and equally big rock songs right off the top in the EP’s title track.  That pomp and bombast doesn’t let up even in the slightest as the band moves into the EP’s second song.  The song exhibits something of a Queensryche influence circa Rage for Order.  And on the EP’s penultimate track, the 8-s big hair influence keeps rolling before the band closes things with a standard 80s ballad-style song.  All things considered, anyone that is a fan of big rock and big hair will agree after hearing this EP that Under My Skin is one of the best of the year’s new EPs.

The members of Tempt look to be far too young to have grown up in the 80s.  That hasn’t stopped the band from crafting an EP loaded with music that sounds like it has been kept in a time capsule for ages and pulled right from that era of big rock and big hair.  This is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opener and title track.  If one didn’t know any better, one would think this was Def Leppard, Journey, Poison, or another major name act that had its heyday in that era.  Lyrically speaking, the song centers on the standard subject of a broken relationship.  What’s most interesting about it here is not just the standard over-the-top nature of the song, but [Zach] Allen’s vocals on the song.  He sings much in the same style as other big name vocalists from the day as he sings, “Stop and start many years ago/You was a looker that I/Got to know/Now I’m sitting here/The pain won’t die/With the letter saying you’ve left my side.”  There is just a certain quality to his vocal style.  And the song’s chorus brings about even more of that classic song style with the rest of the band joining in almost the same style as the aforementioned bands.  It is pure retro rock joy for fans of that sound.

The first impression that the band makes on its brand new EP is just the beginning of the retro rock joy for fans of hair metal.  ‘Use It Or Lose It’ comes second on the disc.  Those that are more familiar with bands from the era of hair metal will hear influences from the likes of Queensryche right from the song’s opening riff and the chorus style vocals.  The song is just as good a follow-up to ‘Under My Skin’ lyrically as it is musically.  That’s because it follows a similar lyrical theme.  Allen sings here about a woman that is bad news for all intents and purposes.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “She’ll steal your soul/Drag your mind through pouring rain/Take you down into the dark/She don’t feel no pain/But if I turn my back/Would you turn your eyes on them/Are you ready/Let the games begin.”  He goes on to sing of the woman in question in the song’s second verse, “She’s a one-of-a-kind/A storm within a name/A natural disaster/But I want her just the same.”  As with the EP’s opener, the style of Allen’s vocals and the song’s musical side together make this song sound like something right out of the 80s.  And again, that taken into consideration fans of that sound will welcome this song in with arms and ears wide open.

Both ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Use It Or Lose It’ are impressive additions to the debut EP from Tempt. The third of the EP’s tracks, ‘The Fight’ instantly conjures thoughts of Journey and other more melodic rock bands of their time. Its forward-driving sound and infectious chorus of “It’s the fight that makes us stronger, baby/We both know you can see” will have audiences singing along in no time whether it be in their vehicle on the road or in their own living room/bedroom. Along with the previously noted songs, this song is just as much an arena anthem as them and the EP’s closing number. Allen and his band mates are seemingly singing about the fight that we have within ourselves to not give up. In this case, it seems to be the fight to not give up on a relationship. If that be the case, then the song takes quite the upbeat turn from so many songs rooted in relationship issues. It actually argues that there is hope for a relationship that would otherwise be broken. That and the song’s musical side together make this one of the EP’s best numbers. And together with the EP’s previously noted tracks, it makes the EP even more worth the listen especially by anyone that grew up a fan of the era of big hair and big rock. Audiences can listen to the title track from Under My Skin now via Tempt’s official website at http://www.temptband.com/#!listen/c1x9v.

Under My Skin can be purchased online via iTunes and Amazon.com or at the band’s next live performance. The band is next scheduled to perform live Friday, July 18th at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York. Audiences can keep up with the band’s tour schedule and all of the band’s latest news online both through its official website, http://www.temptband.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TemptBand. Audiences can also keep up with the latest from the band through its Twitter page, http://twitter.com/temptband and its Reverb Nation website, http://www.reverbnation.com/temptband. 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.