(Hed) p.e.’s Latest LP Is One Of 2014’s Top Indie Albums

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

(Hed) p.e. has spent the majority of its life flying just under the mainstream radar. From changes in the band’s lineup to changes in record labels and more, the band—Jahred Gomes (vocals), Mark Young (bass), Jackson Benge (guitar), and Jeremiah Stratton (drums)—has stuck to its guns so to speak and managed to remain a favorite among its fans while still pulling in new fans along the way. Now with its latest album, titled Evolution, due out later this month, it looks to gain even more fans. That is thanks to the album boasting a solid mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics from start to finish. One example of how that mix of music and lyrics will catch listeners’ ears is the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This song comes across as a social statement of sorts about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. ‘No Tomorrow’ has its own interest, too. And for all of the high intensity that permeates most of this album, the members of (Hed) p.e. do show a softer side in the album’s closing numbers without losing any of their social consciousness. Case in point the album’s penultimate piece ‘Let It Burn.’ This one harkens back to reggae great Bob Marley. It is one more of so many pieces throughout Evolution that will have listeners agreeing that this album is some of the band’s best work to date.

The songs written for Evolution collectively make this album some of the band’s best work to date. That’s because of the mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics. The topics covered in this album vary in subject matter. One of the hardest hitting of those subjects comes in the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This is just this critic’s own interpretation of the song. But it comes across lyrically as tackling the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Front man Jahred Gomes sings of a person whose life was rough to begin with but was only made worse with the introduction of drugs and alcohol. He notes in the song’s opening verse, “It’s just another day/Gotta wake up to the pain/Those demons inside/They wanna come outside and play/Those demons I hide inside/I gotta make ‘em go away/Tonight/We raise hell/We take everything in sight.” He goes on from here to sing about the consequences of covering those demons with various drugs and alcohol. Specifically, he says, “I can’t feel my face/I’m so wasted/I wanna die/I’m young/Just having fun/So why/Not/Drink and drive/You dead/From all that whiskey/And all the vodka/drinking cocaine/And sniffing marijuana.” Yes, that’s right. The whole intention of that line being written in such fashion is to illustrate just how powerful and dangerous abusing drugs and alcohol can be. It shows that it can screw up a person so badly that said person wouldn’t even know what he or she is doing. Something as minor as this, examined on a larger scale, makes for quite the powerful statement. And the manic energy exuded by the band illustrates that message even more. Gomes goes even deeper as the song progresses. And audiences in hearing the song’s depth will agree that such musical and lyrical depth makes this one of the album’s most important and best songs, too.

Another of the album’s standout moments comes only a few songs after ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The song in question is the radio ready ‘No Tomorrow.’ Right from the song’s start, audiences will note a stark difference in the overall style of the song in comparison to ‘Lost in Babylon.’ It’s more of a straight forward hard rock song. That difference in sound makes it far more apt to be one of the album’s singles than say ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The defiant lyrics and the heavy, thundering guitar line here will work just as well in a live setting as on the radio. The song’s chorus, in which is written, “When it all goes down/You know I wanna be right there/Yeah, when the walls come down/You know I wanna be right there/On the frontline/Fightin’ on the right side/Holdin’ up the frontline/Like there’s no tomorrow.” The band adds in the song’s second verse what comes across as an indictment of the powers that be. Gomes sings in that verse, “Renegade/Can’t be f&*^!^% around with my life/I’m gonna break you/Show you how real rebels we ride/Take a big hit/Open your eyes and realize/It’s not the destination/It’s about the journey we ride/Can’t stop you from turning water into wine/Like the system/Poisoning the masses from the inside out/But change is coming that you heard about/The revolution’s on the way/Go BOOM BOOM!” There is a certain social consciousness about this song, nothing the revolution coming. It would seem that the noted revolution would be in regards to those working inside the system that is poisoning the masses. If that is the intended reference, then it makes the song all the harder hitting and worth the listen. In the bigger picture, it is yet another piece of Evolution’s whole that makes this album worth the listen.

Evolution boasts more than its share of high intensity songs throughout the course of its twelve tracks. For all of the powerhouse riffs and equally deep lyrics, the members of (Hed) p.e. show that they can also craft songs that are just as powerful without the heavier riffs and pounding drums and bass line. A prime example of that ability lies in the album’s penultimate track ‘Let it Burn.’ This piece harkens back to reggae legend Bob Marley both stylistically and lyrically. Gomes sings in this song, “show me a miracle/Show me some love today/A little bit of love go a long way/Just a little bit of love go a long way.” It’s one of those pieces that exemplifies the themes of togetherness and joy in life common in works from Marley and even his song Ziggy. And after all of the fiery energy presented by the album’s previous songs, it shows that a song can still be heavy without being musically heavy. It’s one more example of what makes Evolution worth the listen and potentially one of the year’s best independent releases.

(Hed) p.e. is currently touring in support of its upcoming album. It will be in Houston, Texas today and Dallas, Texas on Sunday. The band’s tour schedule also includes a stop at the famed Hooligan’s night club in Jacksonville, NC on Wednesday, August 27th. Fans can get the band’s full tour listing online now as well as the latest news from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/hedpe, http://www.hedperocks.com, http://www.myspace.com/hedpe, and http://twitter.com/hedpe. 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.

Count Rebelution’s New LP As Another Of 2014’s Best Indie Albums

Courtesy:  Easy Star Records

Courtesy: Easy Star Records

Rebelution released its fourth full length studio effort this week.  Count Me In, the band’s latest album, is an equally impressive piece for any reggae fan regardless of one’s familiarity with the California-based quartet.  Eleven tracks comprise Rebelution’s new album.  Among the songs included on Count Me In are a handful of pieces that are rooted in the standard relationship issues.  The band also delves once again into the socially conscious roots of reggae on other tracks on the record, too.    One of the best of those socially conscious songs is ‘More Love.’ This song is especially important considering the state of the nation’s youth today. Another of those more socially conscious songs is the album’s penultimate track, ‘Against The Grain.’ And while it isn’t necessarily socially conscious ‘Roots Reggae’ pays homage to the socially conscious roots of the genre that has made the band a fan favorite. This trio of songs stands out most to this critic. But they aren’t the only songs that will impress listeners. There are eight more songs from which listeners will find their favorite(s) on this album. And in listening to said songs, audiences familiar and not so familiar with Rebelution’s music will agree that there is plenty to like about this record.

Rebelution has crafted an album in Count Me In that is just as good a first impression for new audiences as it is a re-introduction for those that are more familiar with the band’s body of work so far. One of the key pieces that stands out as proof of this is the socially conscious song ‘More Love.’ Front man Eric Rachmany sings in this song, “More love/That’s what we need to succeed/Not dollars/Not what we need/Let’s give them love/So the youth can achieve.” This critic’s interpretation of this chorus is one that says this nation’s youth need to be more loved, plain and simple. Maybe if kids were more loved, there wouldn’t be so many school shootings. Maybe there would be less bullying. Maybe kids wouldn’t be afraid to try and succeed. It may not necessarily be the message that the band was trying to send. If not, then apologies are in order to the band and its fans. Rachmany sings in the song’s second verse about looking in the mirror and seeing things more clearly. It serves to heighten the message of togetherness and support. Rachmany comes across as saying that if we see more clearly, we’ll have more empathy and more love. In turn, we’ll give that love to the next generation so that that generation can succeed where this generation failed. That socially conscious vibe isn’t relegated to just this one song, either.

Much as ‘More Love’ pays homage to the roots of reggae with its socially conscious lyrics, so does the album’s penultimate track, ‘Against The Grain.’ The song’s closing verse is the one that best highlights this. Rachmany sings in the song’s closing verse, “To power through and through it’s a constant struggle/But we got what it takes for sure to survive/Alright…well they same I’m out the game/It’s me against the grain/Come on rise.” He comes across as saying to listeners, don’t be afraid to stand tall and proud. We can survive no matter what people will say and do. Reggae is known for boasting positive lyrics of all kinds. It’s not all just protest music. It actually serves even more of a purpose. And this song in particular proves just that. Because it does, it makes Count Me In all the more enjoyable for listeners no matter how familiar audiences are with Rebelution.

‘More Love’ and ‘Against The Grain’ are both prime examples of Rebelution carrying on the long-held tradition of reggae presenting an important social conscience. There is at least one more track included in Count Me In that presents that conscience. It presents the conscience in question in a manner slightly different than that of the previously noted songs. The song in question is the aptly titled ‘Roots Reggae.’ The song harkens back to the days of Bob Marley with Rachmany singing, “We’re groovin’/Nothing like roots reggae music/Now turn it up/I wanna lose it/Nothin’ like roots reggae music/We’re groovin’/The rhymes of the music/It’s alright…You wanna jump/You wanna shout/You wanna stand/You wanna shout it all about/I let the owner know/The music got you, yeah.” It’s a celebration of the joy brought by the music. And the use of the keyboards, horns and drums to craft such a vintage sound makes the song all the more a celebration and joy to take in. Whether it be this song, one of the others mentioned here or those not mentioned, audiences will each find at least one reason to be *ahem* “counted” among those that call themselves fans after listening to this record.

Count Me In is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/count-me-in/id860352132.   The band is currently on tour in support of its new album. It will be in New York, New York tonight and at the House of Blues in Boston, MA tomorrow, June 12th. The band also has a performance at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina scheduled for June 20th. Tickets can be purchased for that show online at www.bandsintown.com/event/7925266/buy_tickets?affil_code=fb_29914385736&artist=Rebelution&came_from=128. Fans can see the band’s most current tour schedule and keep up with all of the latest news from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/rebelution and http://www.rebelutionmusic.com. 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.

Bluesman’s New LP Some Of His Best Yet

Courtesy: Field of Roses Records

Guitarist Dave Fields’ new record, “Detonation”, is a good listen for any fan of the blues or just generally enjoyable music.  On his third release—due out Tuesday, September 18th–Fields has decided to branch out more from his blues roots, and try his hand at something more experimental.  That experiment has produced some very good musical fruit, so to speak.  While “Detonation” does still have elements of Fields’ previous blues heavy records, it also goes in a little more mainstream direction, showing even more of his ability and talent.  The music isn’t all that makes this album a success.  “Detonation” also succeeds because of the album’s packaging.  Rather than using the standard plastic casing, he has opted for a much easier way to contain the disc.  And making the song lyrics part of the packaging only adds to the overall success of this album, making it a release that his fans new and old will enjoy with each listen.

Fields is said to channel his “inner Hendrix” in the album’s opener, ‘Addicted To Your Fire.’  But a closer listen makes this song much more comparable to the likes of fellow guitar legend, Stevie Ray Vaughan.  That’s not to say that there isn’t at least some Hendrix influence there, too.  Regardless, the energy of the song does a good job mirroring the song’s lyrical content.  Fields sings on this song, “I’m addicted to your fire/Need to feel all your attraction/Got that 9-1-1 attraction/Your passion is like a nuclear reaction.”  That chorus conjures images of two people getting down, dancing, sweat pouring over each of them, the shared energy and feelings obvious as they dance.  That’s the clean version of course.  The music helps to enhance that image too, making it that much clearer.

‘In The Night’ is a little bit slower, but still just as funky.  It almost sort of picks up where ‘Addicted To Your Fire’ leaves off.  He sings about something a little more than a couple just meeting and feeling some sparks to say the least.  He sings, ‘Gonna make it right/and make it new/Won’t stop ‘til the sun comes up/There’s nothing that can hold back love/When angels fly on the wings of a dove.”  It’s pretty obvious what he means with this.

Fields has some really good bluesy material on this new LP.  But what makes it worth the listen isn’t just the blues songs included in the sequencing.  Fields branches out on this album.  And fans will love it, too.  He gets in a Bob Marley style song in ‘Bad Hair Day.’  The irony of the song is as much as it jams, it’s still very much a blues song.  He sings literally about a bad hair day.  He sings, “When the sun won’t shine/When I feel like I’m/Going out of my mind/There’s nothing really worse than a/Bad Hair Day/Bad Hair Day.”  Yes, it seems silly for a song topic.  But somehow he makes it work for what is one of the standout songs on “Detonation.”

“Detonation” has lots of good music for Fields’ fans throughout.  There’s a little bit of a rock feel, along with plenty of old school twelve bar blues pieces, and other styles, too.  It all combines to make for a good multi-purpose record that can be enjoyed any time of the year.  The music isn’t all that makes this a good record, though.  That each song’s lyrics would be included in the “case” itself is another positive.  Instead of making listeners have to thumb through a booklet, the lyrics are right there for listeners.  This might come across as a minor factor in the overall effect of an album.  But for those wanting the full effect of an artist’s music, this is a very good addition.  It all combines to make for an album that any true music lover will want to check out. 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Dirty Heads’ New LP A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy: Five Seven Music

The release of The Dirty Heads’ sophomore album, “Cabin By The Sea” was released almost a month ago.  Its release couldn’t have been better timed.  Much like its debut album, “Any Port in a Storm”, this new release is a good Summer road trip record.  Fans of the band’s debut album will welcome this release as the sound on both releases is so similar. 

The album’s real opener and title track is a nice easy going beachy island type of sound.  It’s a nice gentle open to the record.  It’s followed by the 311-esque ‘Disguise’.  The hip-hop style mixed with the horns make for an interesting Latin-tinged piece.  Following ‘Disguise’ is perhaps one of the album’s best songs in ‘Spread Way Too Thin.’  This song makes itself a fan favorite without even trying.  It’s infused with elements of Jack Johnson and 311. Front man Dustin Bushnell sings on the song “I, I’m spread way too thin/Everybody wants to know what’s happening/I, I’m spread way too thin/what’s the big rush now/tell me why you’re rushin’.  It’s just an easy going anthem that every listener will love for its theme of relaxation. 

The Dirty Heads show their more modern influences on “Cabin By The Sea” with many of its songs.  But there’s also an older school influence from the one and only Bob Marley.  The band does more than merely showing Marley’s influence on ‘Your Love.’  It pays tribute to Marley with the inclusion of one Kymani Marley on the song.  It takes that Marley influence and seamlessly fuses it together with its own hip-hop style on “Dance All Night’ for another of the album’s high points.  Matisyahu joins the boys on this one to add his own extra spice to the mix.

“Cabin By The Sea” is a good beachy record for a sunny Summer day.  For fans who want a little more, the rap stylings of ‘Mongo Push’ and ‘Smoke Rings’ will get them moving, too.  Del The Funky Homosapien joined the band on ‘Smoke Rings’ for what is the album’s most hard edged song.  It’s definitely not a song for children.  And while it’s not a rap song, the same applies to ‘Best Of Us.’  The more mature themes of these songs and the language are not suitable for younger listeners.

“Cabin By The Sea” is available now in stores and online.  Fans can download an exclusive deluxe edition via iTunes.  The band is currently touring in support of the album.  NC based Dirty Heads fans will get a chance to see the band live this Summer when it performs Saturday, August 18th at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre.  Fans can get a full list of the band’s tour dates and more online at http://www.dirtyheads.com, http://www.facebook.com/DirtyHeads, http://twitter.com/#!/dirtyheads, and on its official YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/user/DirtyHeads.

To get all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.