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

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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.

Cason’s Latest LP Has Plenty Of “Heart”

Courtesy:  Plowboy Records

Courtesy: Plowboy Records

Singer/Songwriter Buzz Cason has spent some six decades making music. He started his career by starting the very first rock and roll band in Nashville, Tennessee. He has founded his own recording studio where greats such as Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and The Doobie Brothers have recorded hit songs among many other major names. He has also spent much of his career making his own music. He has continued making his own music up to this year. As a matter of fact, Cason released his latest record, Troubadour Heart earlier this year. The album is quite aptly titled considering Cason’s storied career. And for those audiences that might not be so familiar with Cason’s body of work, Troubadour Heart serves as quite the first impression, too. The album exhibits quite the number of influences. The laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ presents an influence from the likes of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and Robert Johnson. This applies both musically and lyrically. And then there’s the southern rock styling of ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ This song shows Cason’s Nashville roots and his rock leanings at the same time. Troubadour Heart’s penultimate tune ‘Cowboys & Indians’ exhibits more of Cason’s southern rock influences. Audiences more familiar with the history of modern rock will hear tinges of Eagles and even George Thorogood to a slightly lesser extent. There are also hints of The Grateful Dead and Dire Straits peppered throughout the course of Cason’s latest release. All of these influences together make Troubadour Heart one of 2014’s more interesting new records.

Troubadour Heart is one of this year’s more interesting records. That’s because of the range of influences exhibited throughout the course of the album’s fifteen total tracks. One prime example of this comes in the laid back bluesy ‘Goin’ Back To Alabama.’ The song—the album’s only blues-influenced piece—conjures thoughts of Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, and even Robert Johnson thanks both to its music and lyrics. Cason sings of a subject reminiscing of his younger days in Alabama. He sings, “When my world/Comes unraveled/I know it’s time/For me to travel/Going ‘round the bend/Gettin’ in that Dixieland.” He goes on in the song’s chorus to sing in semi-celebratory fashion about going back to Alabama. The most interesting aspect of this song is that not only does it exhibit classic blues influence, but that guest singer Dan Penn actually sounds just like Eric Clapton. If one were to hear this song without knowing that it was Penn backing Cason here, one would swear that one was hearing Eric Clapton. The similarity between the pair’s vocals is incredible. That and the song’s easygoing lyrics and music show just why ‘Going’ to Alabama’ is such a solid example of what makes Troubadour Heart such an interesting listen.

‘Goin’ Back To Alabama’ is an excellent example of the diversity of Cason’s talent on his latest record. It is just one example of that talent, too. Another equally impressive example of that diversity is in the more up-tempo southern rock tinged song ‘Something I Can Dance To.’ It clearly reflects Cason’s early days growing up in Nashville with its sound. That up-tempo sound and the song’s lyrics—which are slightly sexually charged in their own right—make this song a perfect fit for so many country-western style bars and clubs. The energy exuded by this piece will have listeners up and dancing in no time regardless of whether or not there’s a formal dance floor.

‘Cowboys & Indians’ is the penultimate track included in Troubadour Heart’s fifteen total tracks. It is also one more fitting example of the diversity of music presented on this record. This song presents a pretty obvious country-western influence as Cason sings about a Romeo and Juliet style story. Cason’s story here presents the love story of a Native American woman falling in love with a seemingly White male. Despite the fact that one’s parents doesn’t approve of the other, the couple doesn’t let that stop them. They end up happily ever after and having their own family together. It’s a fun story and an equally fun final blast from Cason before he gently closes out the album with the aptly titled beachy tune ‘Pacific Blue.’ That final song is a fitting closer as it is one more song showing the pure vastness of Cason’s talent and influences. Having taken in this song and those mentioned before it, listeners will agree once more that Troubadour Heart is without a doubt one of the year’s most intriguing records.

Troubadour Heart is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HGTNKAK/ref=s9_simh_gw_p15_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1RG9YQMJV0C4KG1XBKVB&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. His new album can also be purchased at any of his upcoming live shows. Cason is scheduled to perform live Wednesday, Jun e18th in Okoboji, IA. He also has a pair of shows scheduled in Nashville and one in Lincolnton, North Carolina. That concert is scheduled for Saturday, August 16th. Audiences can get a complete list of Buzz Cason’s live events and news online at http://www.facebook.com/buzzcasonmusic, http://www.buzzcason.com, and http://twitter.com/buzzcason. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s New Archived Live Dio Recording Gets Four Horns High

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Niji Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Niji Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment may as well be its own radio station. That’s because it just keeps pumping out hit after hit, essentially putting on an ongoing clinic as to how to put out proper live recordings. And yes that bad pun was fully intended. Next week, Eagle Rock will put out yet another of its hugely impressive live recordings in the form of Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993. This latest live Dio recording follows up Eagle Rock’s 2013 release of Dio: Finding The Sacred Heart—Live in Philly 1986. Being that this is not the first live Dio recording from Eagle Rock, it would be easy to compare the two shows. But that would be quite unfair as some seven years passed between the pair. Keeping that in mind, Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 is an impressive recording all its own. It is one more that any classic rock buff and any true hardcore Dio fan will appreciate. The first and most obvious reason for this is the show’s set list. This show, the last from the band’s 1993 “Strange Highways Tour,” boasts songs not just from Strange Highways but also from Dio’s time with Black Sabbath, Rainbow, and from his own solo career. The second reason that audiences will appreciate this recording is the band’s overall minimalist approach in its performance. And last but not least, audiences will appreciate the recording’s audio and video mix. All three factors come together to make this latest live recording from Eagle Rock just one more in a very long line of certified hits and another candidate to be one of the year’s best new live recordings.

The set list chosen by RJD and his band mates for this recording is key to the recording’s success. The set list chosen for this last show of the band’s 1993 European “Strange Highways Tour” balances songs from Strange Highways with numbers from Dio’s days in Black Sabbath, Rainbow and even his own solo career. Some of the best of the best from the concert include hits such as : ‘Stand Up and Shout”, “Holy Diver” and one of RJD’s biggest hits, “The Mob Rules” among so many others. Making the show even better, RJD and company—Vinny Appice (drums), Jeff Pilson (bass), Tracy G. (guitar), and Scott Warren (keyboards)—give the audience in attendance not one, not two, but three full encores—“Rainbow in the Dark”, “We Rock” and the fittingly titled final closer “Here’s to You.” Between the encores, the show’s primary fifteen song set and the bonus “Hangin’ WithThe Band” featurette, audiences of all ages get a show that is complete in every sense of the word in this recording. Not only is it complete, but it is a recording that any hard rock buff, classic rock buff and hardcore Dio fan will enjoy no less with every watch.

The set list and bonus companion featurette included in Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 more than show why any Dio loyalist and rocker in general will appreciate and enjoy this recording. Just as important to consider in this recording is the band’s minimalist approach. There was no pyro, no big gimmicks or anything else. Given, being an indoor concert, pyro was probably not permitted at the venue. But RJD and company showed throughout the show that it is possible to put on an amazing show without any of that regardless of whether the show is indoors or out. From the first note of “Stand Up and Shout” to the final strains of “Here’s To You,” the band’s music and its very on-stage presence far more than made up for any gimmicks that other lesser bands might have needed to entertain audiences. All these musicians needed was their music, the audience, and a wall of amps. Tracy G.’s searing guitar work, Jeff Pilson’s heavy bass lines and Vinny Appice’s solid timekeeping and chops together created so much energy among one another and the crowd. Add in RJD’s larger than life personality, and audiences will see for themselves just why these men are still so revered to this day and emulated by so many of today’s top rock acts. It’s yet one more reason that this concert has earned the titled of one of the best new live recordings of 2014. But wait! There’s more! Yes, that terrible pun was intended, too.

The set list and overall stage show put on by RJD and his band mates are two very important reasons that audiences will enjoy this latest live recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment. Last but not least to note of this recording is its collective audio and video mix. Audiences should note that while Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 has been presented on Blu-ray, it is in SD-Blu-ray format. That simply means that the show was obviously recorded originally in standard definition instead of high definition. Of course high definition wasn’t available in the early 1990s. Audiences will be able to clearly see the difference the quality of standard definition from high definition. At the same time, it goes to show just how far recording technology has come over the course of twenty-one years. Even more important to consider is that since this show was originally recorded on magnetic tape, it’s nice to see that the footage has held up and been transferred to DVD and Blu-ray so well.

The show’s final audio mix is just as impressive as the video mix. When one takes into consideration the size of the Hammersmith Apollo and its acoustics, one develops much more respect for those that manned the boards in the initial concert and those charged with making sure that the audio transferred over just as solidly as the video. Far too often, audiences take for granted that the video and audio mix of life recordings will be equal. But there are some cases in which that doesn’t happen. Luckily, that isn’t the case with this recording. It maintains the high standard established so many years ago by Eagle Rock Entertainment. That high quality audio and video alongside the band’s performance and set list complete this recording. They all come together to make Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 a definite candidate for a spot on this year’s list of the best new live recordings. It will be available next week and can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Live-London-Hammersmith-Apollo-Blu-ray/dp/B00J0LGZYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1399495060&sr=1-1&keywords=Dio.

More information on Dio: Live in London—Hammersmith Apollo 1993 and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at http://www.eagle-rock.com and 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.