DKM’s New LP One Of Its Best Yet

Courtesy:  Born & Bred Records

Courtesy: Born & Bred Records

Dropkick Murphys has returned.  The seven man Boston based Celtic punk rock band released its eighth full length studio album earlier this month.  And the band’s new album, Signed and Sealed in Blood is the best that the band has sounded in a long time.  This new album goes back to the days of the band’s 2001 album, Sing Loud, Sing Proud.  Fittingly enough, the band opens the album in similar fashion to that album, too with the song, ‘The Boys are Back.’  It’s a relatively simple song.  Its simple chant of “The boys are back/The boys are back/The boys are back/And they’re looking for trouble” makes it the perfect re-introduction for long-time fans and first time introduction for anyone that is new to the veteran punk rock band’s sound.  As a matter of fact, it’s such a hit that’s now this season’s official intro video for the band’s hometown hockey team, The Boston Bruins.  This isn’t the first time that the band has made a song for the Bruins.  The band also wrote an equally popular song in ‘Black and Gold’ that was included in its 2003 album, Blackout.  This new song seems to have gotten the job done already for the Bruins.  The team opened its new season with a 3-1 stomping of the New York Rangers on Saturday.  Next up is a matchup against the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon at 1pm.

Hockey aside, DKM’s new album will impress anyone longing for the band’s older sound not just for its opener, but for the entire album.  The boys definitely don’t back down after reintroducing themselves to audiences.  They just keep the energy moving with the album’s next track, ‘Prisoner’s Song.’  It has a slight tinge of ‘Shipping Up to Boston’ for fans of the band’s more recent material.  Listeners will appreciate the song not just for the musical side, but also for its lyrical side, too.  The way that the song was written was almost storytelling in style.  It’s easy to actually see images in one’s own mind as the band sings, “Looking back on a past/When we still had a chance/We were pawns in a game/That we could not win/Now we’re alone/Just a pick and stone/We’re dreaming of a future/When our ship comes in.”  One can actually see a group of prisoners like something out of a storybook singing this.  That storytelling nature of the band’s music is one of its trademarks, too.  So it is nice to hear that the band hasn’t lost that with this new release.

Speaking of that storytelling side, listeners will especially appreciate the band’s own take on the whole concept of Christmas songs.  Yes, you read right; Christmas songs.  Christmas has passed already.  But it’s not too far behind us.  So why not have a good post-holiday laugh?  ‘The Season’s Upon Us’ is a hilarious yet rather true song to which so many listeners can relate.  Founding member Ken Casey sings about the holidays with this family in this song.  He sings, “Some families are messed up/While others are fine/If you think yours is crazy/Well you should see mine.”  From here Casey goes on to sing about life with his family during the holidays.  The raucous and slightly dysfunctional family life makes for so many laughs in that it is so relatable.  He starts off by introducing listeners to his sisters and their not so great husbands and children.  The words he writes are something that can’t exactly be entirely repeated here.  From there he goes on to his parents.  It’s like a musical stand-up comedy act that will leave listeners in stitches.  It makes for one more of so many songs that listeners will love from this new release.  Signed and Sealed in Blood is available now in stores and online via iTunes at http://smarturl.it/DropkickSASIB.  The band is currently touring overseas in support of its new album.  It will be back stateside beginning with a performance at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio on February 21st.  Fans in North Carolina will get to hear the band’s new material live when it makes a stop at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday, March 5th.  To get a full tour rundown and to get all the latest news and more from the band, fans can go online to http://www.dropkickmuprhys.com, http://www.facebook.com/DropkickMurphys, http://www.myspace.com/dropkickmurphys, and http://www.twiter.com/dropkickmurphys

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.

Cookie Jar’s Christmas Collection Is Holiday Fun For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment

Cookie Jar TV’s Christmas Cartoon Collection” is a fun grouping of cartoons for kids and parents alike.  This single disc collection includes ten holiday themed episodes of some of the best cartoons from Cookie Jar (formerly DiC Entertainment).  This new collection includes toons from both the 21st Century and some more classic toons, too.  It all starts with a pair of episodes from the kid friendly favorite, Busy World of Richard Scarry.  The first of the episodes sees an evil mastermind stealing stuff from all across New York City.  It’s up to one man to solve the mystery of who is lifting the legendary city.  In the second episode from the show, Santa’s in danger of not making his annual Christmas run after making a rough landing.  The runners on his sled have broken and even Mr. Fix-It can’t help.  So how is Santa to get his sled flying again?  Kids and their parents will have to find out on their own when they pick up this family friendly DVD. 

 Speaking of Santa, in another of this collection’s best episodes, Heathcliff has a mystery on his hands when the mailman tells him that his and his boy Iggy’s letters to Santa have been returned.  And theirs aren’t the only ones.  So Heathcliff and Spike head off to the North Pole to figure out why everybody’s letters are being returned.  The answer to the mystery is a surprise even to Santa himself.  Although being a holiday episode, everything is worked out in the end, and Heathcliff and Squish get a lift back to their homes from Santa as a thank you for getting all the letters returned to him.  Anyone who is old enough to remember when this classic cartoon originally aired will love not just the warm, fuzzy feelings that it will create, but also the general sense of nostalgia that it will instill, too. 

Heathcliff is just one of the cartoons that will make for a great sense of nostalgia on this new collection from Mill Creek Entertainment and Cookie Jar.  Viewers who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons on ABC will remember a short lived cartoon called Bump in the Night.  This stop motion based toon featured a certain little monster named Mr. Bumpy.  In the show’s holiday episode presented here, Mr. Bumpy is awaiting the arrival of Santa.  He doesn’t want to just see Santa.  He wants to trap him and snag his bag of toys.  It’s not his first try at trapping Santa, either.  Every year that he’s tried, Mr. Bumpy’s plan has failed for one reason or another.  He actually does succeed this year.  But in the process, Mr. Bumpy learns what’s really important during the holidays.  Audiences will enjoy this positive message.  They’ll also appreciate the pop culture references peppered in throughout the episode.  From monster style takes on classic Hanukkah and Christmas songs to a tribute to the Indiana Jones franchise and a spoof of a famous Kenny Loggins song, there is plenty for both kids and adults to love in this episode.  Even veteran actor Cheech Marin joins in on the fun as the voice of a Spanish worm who helps Mr. Bumpy and Squish along the way.  It all comes together to make this episode one more piece of the overall presentation that makes the Cookie Jar Christmas Cartoon Collection such a great collection for families this and every holiday season.  It’s available now in stores and online.

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.

Idelsohn Society’s New Album This Year’s Best Holiday LP

Courtesy:  The Idelsohn Society

Courtesy: The Idelsohn Society

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is the best of this year’s annual crop of holiday records.  The record, which was released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, is subtitled The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights.  The catch is that this record is anything but a musical battle.  Rather, this record does exactly what music is said to do.  It’s a unifier.  It joins two distinctly different cultures through the medium of music.  On a side note, The Idelsohn Society for those who perhaps may not know was named for its namesake, musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn.  Audiences can learn more about him and the Idelsohn Society’s website, http://idelsohnsociety.com/about-us/

‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is just the latest in a series of releases from the Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation.  The compilation features thirty four tracks from across both the Jewish and Christian faiths.  Those songs celebrate, as the subtitle notes, both Christmas and the just ended annual celebration of Hanukkah.  What makes this double disc compilation even more interesting is that both the songs of the Jewish and Christian faiths are sung by both those in the Jewish community and those with Jewish roots.  Among some of the more notable of those artists are the likes of: Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, and Herb Alpert just to name some.  Adding even more interest to this already worthwhile listen, the music presented by the variety of artists makes the record even more multi-cultural.  Some songs are standards, while others are more original, crossing the cultural borders of the music industry. 

All thirty-four tracks in this compilation present enjoyment thanks to their cultural variety.  One of the most enjoyable and interesting of the songs in this compilation comes not from the Christmas side, but from the Hanukkah side.  Gladys Gertwiz’s presentation of ‘A Chanukah Quiz’ is a wonderful starting point for young members of the Jewish community.  Gerwitz sings to her audiences of a “Hanukkah riddle” of sorts.  In reality, this song is a history lesson both of Hanukkah and of Jewish heritage.  She tells parts of the history, and leaves parts blank for listeners to answer (in song form) back.  It’s fun and creative.  On a completely different tangent, ‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah also offers a Latin style holiday song in the form of ‘El Die de la Navidad.’  It’s one more example of just how multicultural this record is.  The upbeat sound alone makes this another enjoyable song.  Add to the danceable sound the lyrical holiday celebration and listeners get another enjoyable addition to this release.  It’s just one more of so many enjoyable songs included in a record that is simply put the best holiday record of the year.  The album is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online direct at the Idelsohn Society store at http://idelsohnsociety.com/store/albums/

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.

Nickelodeon, CBS Present New Spongebob Special, Album

Courtesy: Nickelodeon

With Thanksgiving only days away, many people are looking forward to the second half of the holiday season and the arrival of Christmas.  One of the most beloved traditions of the holidays is sitting down to watch the annual holiday specials on television.  CBS will have a new holiday special this year in the form of a new Spongebob Squarepants special called, It’s a Spongebob Christmas.  Along with the new special, there will be a soundtrack available for parents to pick up for their kids, too.  In anticipation of both, the special’s lead song has been released. The song, which was co-written by Tom Kenny and Andy Paley even has a video to go with it. 

The video for ‘Don’t Be a Jerk (It’s Christmas) was the winner of the 2008 Built By Me Movie contest. The contest in question is held by Lego and Nickelodeon.  It features Spongebob and his friends celebrating the holiday season all while Spongebob sings.  It can be viewed here now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVOPRCnc8r4.  And families can even follow along with the lyrics right here, too!

DON’T BE A JERK (IT’S CHRISTMAS)

(Andy Paley & Tom Kenny)

BRING JOY TO THE WORLD IT’S THE THING TO DO
BUT THE WORLD DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND YOU
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

THERE’S A SIGN ABOVE THE LINE THAT SAYS “EXPRESS”
THAT MEANS TEN ITEMS OR LESS
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

BE NICE TO BABIES AND ANIMALS
OLD FOLKS TOO
‘CAUSE THAT’S HOW YOU’D LIKE THEM TO TREAT YOU
USE TURN SIGNALS DON’T SCREEN MY CALLS
DON’T WRECK THE HOUSE WHEN YOU DECK THE HALLS

SPIT YOUR GUM WHERE IT WON’T WIND UP ON MY SHOE
SQUEEZE TOOTHPASTE FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE TUBE
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

(solo)

WHEN OTHERS ARE TALKING NEVER INTERRUPT
DON’T PUT PEOPLE DOWN AND LEAVE THE TOILET SEAT UP
IT’S THE TIME FOR FAMILY AND HOLLY AND TURKEY
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY NOT JERKY
(JOLLY NOT JERKY)

DON’T DIG IN THE CEREAL BOX FOR GOODNESS SAKES
TAKE THE PRIZE AND LEAVE ME NOTHIN’ BUT FLAKES
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

SANTA BROUGHT NEARLY EVERY GIFT ON YOUR LIST
WHY WHINE ABOUT THE ONE THAT HE MISSED?
DON’T BE A JERK
IT’S CHRISTMAS

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Christmas Miracle Is A Heartwarming Holiday Movie For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Vivendi Entertainment

The lord works in mysterious ways.  In the new straight-to-DVD movie, Christmas Miracle, audiences see just how mysterious the good lord’s ways are.  In this heartfelt holiday drama, a group of people are brought together in an old church thanks to a snowstorm.  The catch with the group being brought together is that save for one person, everyone else that was brought together was either married or on the verge of a divorce.  The one lone individual who was single admits a painful secret late in the movie as to why he is alone.  Each couple at the church is at a different stage of its marriage.  As a result of this, each couple learns some very valuable lessons about the importance of marriage, and how to make marriages work.  This isn’t like those movies from Sherwood Studios.  It’s nowhere near as preachy as those movies.  Rather it sends those very important messages while being entertaining at the same time.

The story in Christmas Miracle is touching and heartwarming.  Being that it’s a straight-to-DVD release, it’s a good story for any family, especially during the holidays.  Despite the old song, the holidays aren’t exactly the most wonderful time of the year.  The holidays are the most stressful time of the year.  Keeping that in mind, what this movie does is it serves as a reminder to families to remember what is most important, especially at this time of year.  What’s most important is family.  This movie does a very good job of reminding its audiences of this and in an original fashion, too.  Because of its Christian overtones, it’s equally fitting for any church group to view during the holidays.

Viewers will especially appreciate the movie after watching the movie’s bonus making of featurette.  The cast and director explain in more depth that not only is there one message of family, but a message that it’s never too late for second chances.  Each couple learns this lesson, as does the former reverend.  Not only does this message bring new life to each couple’s life but to that of the reverend, and even the old abandoned church.  It all comes together for an original holiday movie that the whole family will appreciate.  It can be picked up in store or even ordered online now for anyone starting to plan their holiday celebrations.

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 log at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Martha Stewart Holiday Collection Offers Lessons, Ideas For The Holidays

Courtesy: A Squared

Martha Stewart recently announced that she has made a deal with Hulu to have some of her programming broadcast via Hulu.  Now, audiences of all ages have a brand new way to enjoy Martha Stewart like never before.  Martha & Friends:  Holiday Collection follows a ten your old Martha and her friends (Hannah, Kevin, and Lily) through the holidays.  The single disc collection starts off on Halloween.  In Martha’s Halloween, Martha and her friends have to go hunting for her dogs, Francesca and Sharkey, after the dogs get scared during Kevin’s filming of his Halloween movie.  Martha, Lily, and Hannah play a trio of “glampires” who attend a Halloween costume party with the aim of turning everyone else into “glampires.”  The dogs think that Martha and her friends really are vampires, so they run off and accidentally pull the plug to the power in the old barn in which Kevin is filming his movie.  This leads the kids to go off in search of the dogs.  There’s nothing overly scary here.  So both parents and kids of all ages will be able to sit down and enjoy this episode that would be a great fit for any child’s Halloween party.

Martha and her friends learn in Martha’s Halloween that as a certain president once noted, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.  She and her friends learn even more valuable lessons in the collection’s Thanksgiving episode.  In Martha’s Thanksgiving, Martha and her friends all have family visiting from out of town.  Along with their aunts and uncles, all four kids have to deal with their cousins, too.  So it’s up to Martha to figure out how to entertain her friends’ cousins and her own cousin, too, all while managing their Thanksgiving plans, too.  The kids’ cousins aren’t the only hurdle that Martha and her friends have to face in the collection’s Thanksgiving episode.  They learn that the elderly Mr. McGregor isn’t the mean person that they were previously led to believe he was.  In turn, they learn not to let what they’ve heard be the basis of what they think of someone.  These are more great lessons for viewers of all ages.  It all comes together to make for a fun and memorable addition to the collection.

Along with the valuable lessons about family that this episode teaches, audiences are also reminded of proper pet care during Thanksgiving.  Francesca and Sharkey (Martha’s dogs) remind audiences that dogs can’t eat turkey bones because it’s not safe for them.  So instead, they show audiences how the turkey bones can be used to help make a broth.  That creativity echoes throughout all three episodes of this collection.  It too is something that parents and kids alike will love. 

Viewers learn one more very valuable lesson in the final piece of the Martha and Friends:  Holiday Collection.  In the Christmas episode included in the set, Martha and her friends are setting up a Christmas tree for the annual Christmas tree decorating contest.  She wants to win really badly.  Even her friends realize that maybe she’s a little too caught up in what she’s doing.  So when things don’t go exactly as planned, thanks to the weather, young Martha realizes what’s really most important.  Parents will love the lesson taught by this episode.  While it’s a holiday episode, the lesson taught here is one that will resonate throughout the year.

The trio of holiday shorts included in this set teaches audiences lots of great lessons that will apply throughout the year. They’re just a part of what makes the shorts a joy for the whole family.  There are also lots of ideas of how to decorate and cook special dishes for the holidays that kids and adults alike will enjoy.  Parents can even pop the DVD into their computers to access bonus content including:  cookie cutter templates and templates just to name a couple bonuses.  There are also a handful of bonus webisodes that families can enjoy without even the use of a computer.  It all combines to make a holiday DVD that the whole family will enjoy again and again throughout the holiday season.

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.