Chasing Twisters A Sweet Taste Of What May Be To Come From Delta Rae

Delta Rae Chasing Twisters

Courtesy: Sire Records

Delta Rae has been quite busy since the release of its full length debut record, Carry The Fire.  The Durham, North Carolina based band has toured the country and made countless TV and radio appearances along the way.  All the while, the band’s fans have waited with baited breath for its next new release.  Those that have followed the band even before it signed on with Warner Brothers Records have been rewarded with a new EP titled Chasing Twisters.  The band’s new digital-only release is a very strong statement of the band.  If it is a statement of what’s to come from Delta Rae, then audiences have plenty to look forward to whenever the band releases its sophomore album.

Chasing Twisters opens with the EP’s up-tempo title track.  The song is led by drummer Mike McKee’s driving four-on-the-floor rhythm.  It partners with singer Brittany Holljes’ vocals to make the song come across as being more pop influenced than the songs on the band’s debut.  At the same time, it still maintains a certain vibe established by the band on its debut record.  This blending of the old and new makes the song even more enjoyable.  What makes this song especially interesting is that among some listeners, it will conjure thoughts of the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  What sets the two apart though, is that ‘Chasing Twisters’ is that ‘Chasing Twisters’ is not a western.  The emotion in Holljes’ voice crescendos as she sings, “So kiss/me now/This whiskey on my breath/Feel the lies/That I have taken/What little soul that I have left/And oh/My God/I’ll take you to the grave/The only love I’ve ever known/The only soul I ever saved.”  It adds so much to the song’s overall impact.  This is especially the case when she reaches the peak of that emotion, only to pull back and crescendo again in the next verse before the song eventually reaches its end.  It would be a surprise if this song isn’t an instant fan favorite by those final fading moments of this track.

Chasing Twisters’ lead track was most definitely the right choice to open the EP.  Just as enjoyable is the EP’s second track, ‘Run.’  This song is such an interesting addition to the release first and foremost because it’s one more example of the band’s growth.  It boasts something of a 1980s vibe with its keyboards.  What’s ironic about this is that even those that aren’t fans of 80s music will appreciate this song.  Maybe that’s because it doesn’t go all out with that seeming 80s influence.  It could also be because of the song’s energy.  Again, drummer Mike McKee serves largely as the song’s driving force alongside the equally driving keyboard part.  Holljes gets to exhibit her vocals even more this time, too.  And she takes full advantage of that.  The song comes in at barely more than three minutes in length.  Over that short time, her vocals soar as she sings, “I wanna run/To feel again/To be no one/To lay/Under the stars of Orion/And all my life/I’ve been burdened by the dreams/I’ll hide/Now I want to run.”  She shows yet again why she is one of the best female pop vocalists in the industry today, even if the big names don’t recognize that.  Those amazing vocals coupled with the work of her equally talented band mates make this one more wise addition to this new EP.

‘Chasing Twisters’ and ‘Run’ aren’t the only new material included on Delta Rae’s new EP.  The closing number, ‘I will Never Die’ is just as impressive.  This song throws back to the band’s debut, stylistically speaking.  It bears a sound and style very similar to that of ‘Bottom of the River’ yet it somehow manages to maintain its own identity.  The song develops a certain eeriness to the song thanks to the song’s slower bass drum beat set against Holljes singing, “You can bury my body/But I’ll never die.”  It’s but one part of what makes this song as a whole one of the EPs best songs.  Together with the acoustic takes on ‘Dance in the Graveyards’ and ‘If I Loved You’, it is the finishing touch to an EP that sets the bar pretty high for this Durham, NC based band for its second album.  If this EP is any indication though, the band will more than likely live up to those expectations.  The band is currently touring in support of its new EP and its debut album.  It will be at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, CA this Thursday.  That performance is followed up next Tuesday, December 10th at Mechanics Hall in Worchester, MA.  The band will take a short break after that show in order to recharge its batteries and get ready to hit the road again in 2014.  An extensive list of the band’s 2014 dates is already listed on the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/deltarea.  Fans can go there or the band’s official website, http://www.deltarae.com to check out the list and get the latest news from the band.  Fans can also follow the band via Twitter and MySpace at http://twitter.com/deltrae  and http://www.myspace.com/deltaraemusic.  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.

Fall Fashion Takes Center Stage In New Issue Of Us Weekly Magazine

Courtesy:  DKC Public Relations

Courtesy: DKC Public Relations

The new upcoming issue of Us Weekly Magazine is one that any woman will appreciate.  The September 16th issue of the magazine will be a full fifty-page issue centered entirely on fall fashion.  The special edition will feature insider fashion advice from celebrities such as:  Pharrell, Vera Wang, Khloe Kardashian and plenty more.  It will also feature a list of one hundred items that can be bought for under $100 and a full article on Splurging versus Saving.

The focus on fashion isn’t all that readers have to look forward to in the new issue of Us Weekly.  Lauren Conrad, reality star-turned-entrepreneur is interviewed in the upcoming issue.  She discusses in her interview, her busy life after reality television.  She talks about running two clothing lines, being an author, running multiple websites and much more in her interview.  She discusses how she manages to balance it all and still have time for a personal life, too.  And for those wondering about Conrad’s personal life, she notes about boyfriend William Tell that the couple is taking things very slowly, and that there’s no rush for marriage right now.  “We aren’t in a rush,” she said.  “We’re happy where we are.”  And what of the couple’s future as potential parents?  She adds on this subject that her friends have told her to wait until she’s at least thirty.  She jokingly responded to this saying, “I’m not far off! Two and a half years – that flies by.”

The upcoming issue of Us Weekly also has the latest gossip on the split between Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom.  Also featured is the latest on the recent official announcement of the split between veteran actor director Clint Eastwood and wife Dina.  The full article is available here:  http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/clint-eastwood-dina-eastwood-split-shocking-wife-swap-post-split-201349#ixzz2dvkwwVuF.  All that and much more will be available in the new issue of Us Weekly.  More information on these stories and more is available on the official Us Magazine Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/UsWeekly and its official website, http://www.UsMagazine.com.

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Storming Juno Another Important Story Of WWII

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Stories of WWII told from the American and British vantage points are quite plentiful in the world of television and movies.  Stories from those in other Allied forces are far less.  That is they are far less prominent in the United States.  Now finally, another lesser told piece of WWII history has finally been added to the whole.  One part historical drama and one part documentary, Entertainment One’s brand new WWII story, Storming Juno is an impressive work.  The hour and a half presentation tells the story of the events of June 6th, 1944 from the perspective not of the American or British forces, but from the Canadian military.  It is centered on three young soldiers that were actually there on the day that marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. 

It is difficult to know where exactly to begin in the discussion of Storming Juno.  It would be very easy to compare this movie to the likes of bigger blockbuster films such as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers.  By comparison, Storming Juno is just as good as those war epics if not better than them.  That might be a bold statement to some.  But it is a true statement.  That’s not to say that the aforementioned films were bad.  It just means that for an indie war film, Storming Juno definitely holds its own.  And it does so quite well at that.  So what enabled Storming Juno to hold its own so well against much bigger, more epic war movies?  For starters, the movie itself runs just over an hour.  The remaining half an hour of the entire feature’s ninety minute run time is taken by a documentary of sorts.  Another factor in the success of this movie is tied directly to its run time.  That factor is the story’s writing.  Script writer Christopher Gagosz managed in his script, to balance the intertwining stories of the three men on which it focuses.  Along with its balance, there are two more factors that make Storming Juno a success and a must see for any history buff and lover of war films. Those factors tie in to make this a complete story that any history buff and war movie fan will enjoy just as much as any war movie released by Hollywood’s major studios.  The factors in question are the incorporation of actual footage taken on D-Day by Canadian forces and the general historical accuracies portrayed in the movie itself.  These tie back into the writing and in turn the story length and overall enjoyment of the movie.  It all works together to make Storming Juno not just an enjoyable war story, but also one of 2013’s best independent movies.

Storming Juno holds its own against other bigger name war movies first and foremost because of its run time.  Paramount’s Saving Private Ryan clocked in at a massive one hundred sixty-nine minutes long.  That is roughly two hours and forty-nine minutes, or in simple terms, nearly three hours long.  Paramount’s other major war epic, Flags of our Fathers, came in at roughly two hours and twelve minutes.  Storming Juno on the other hand comes in at only ninety-minutes.  The primary story itself (not counting the semi-documentary that follows the main story) comes in at just over sixty minutes.  This puts the actual story at less than half the time of both previously mentioned movies.  If one were to count the full ninety-minutes, then it would still be just over half the time of said movies.  Thanks to the writing of Christopher Gagosz though, it doesn’t feel that ninety-minutes at all.  It keeps viewers engaged through every action filled moment.

Script writer Christopher Gagosz’s writing is largely to thanks for the movie’s ability to keep viewers engaged throughout its full ninety minutes.  He does this because instead of focusing on melodrama, as Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers do, he instead balances the personal emotions of his subjects with the story’s action.  While Juno Beach might not have been nearly as fraught with danger as Utah Beach, it was still dangerous.  The body language of the soldiers as they waited to take the beach said so much without saying anything.  It served to set the mood of tension, thus keeping viewers engaged.  The action that ensued from the moment that the troop transports landed and the tanks were launched (and subsequently sunk) plays into that tension and does even more to keep viewers’ attention. Right to the battle’s final moments.  As those final moments close, audiences are introduced to some of the men that were there at Juno Beach.  Their interviews serve to cement the story presented and tie into the final factor of the movie’s success.  That factor is its accuracy. 

Much of what is presented in Storming Juno was taken directly from both oral and written first-hand accounts of this battle.  As noted in the bonus “Inside Storming Juno” feature, much work went into bringing the story to life and making it accurate.  Even actual veterans from the battle were brought in to help set the scene, as was an individual with expert knowledge of the Royal Regina Rifles to make certain that the battle was portrayed as accurately as possible.  It would seem that the only questionable aspect of accuracy is that of the planes used in telling the story of the paratrooper.  They seemed to look like B-25s of some sort.  Other than that one slight inaccuracy, so much else was done right with this movie.  It ties right back in to the writing.  And along with the writing and run time, it makes Storming Juno a movie that any history buff and war movie fan will appreciate regardless if another movie based on non-American or British Allied forces is ever made.  It is available now in stores and online.

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WWII From Space An Excellent Introduction To The History Of World War II

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E Home Video

History Channel’s latest WWII documentary, WWII From Space is a good jumping off point for anyone that has ever had any interest in the…well…history of World War II.  Much like last year’s release of History of the World in Two Hours, this documentary is not intended to go into the massively in-depth discussions of perhaps Vietnam in HD or WWII in HD just to name a couple of other History Channel war documentaries.  Rather, this feature scratches the surface in the war’s history.  It does so over the course of roughly an hour and a half.  And it does so largely thanks to its mass of CG based visual aids employed throughout the presentation.

Some audiences have criticized WWII From Space because of its use of CG based visual aids.  The reality is that this is not such a bad thing.  Rather, it along with the feature’s relatively short run time that is solidly segmented makes it a wonderful addition for any high school and entry level college history course.  The CG based maps of the earth present the movement of both the Allied and Axis forces throughout WWII.  It also employs the use of what would be the equivalent today of military spy tech to present the different movements and weaponry of forces on both sides of the war.  It’s like something out of the recent Iron Man movies.  And keeping this in mind, it is sure to entertain not just younger audiences, but older audiences, too that are enamored by the ever changing scape of technology.

The CG based maps make for excellent visual aids in following the course of the war.  Adding even more interest to this feature is the use of CG based graphics to illustrate the battles both on the land and in the air.  One good example of this would be the comparison of U.S. forces killed in Pearl Harbor as compared to Japanese forces that were killed.  Audiences learn the massively wide ratio of U.S. forces killed in comparison to Japanese dead.  It uses helmets highlighted to show each side’s dead and points out the ratio clearly on screen.  This is just one time that this strategy is used.  It is used throughout the course of the program.  Again, there is nothing wrong with such a method being used.  Instead of simply filling people’s ears and minds with facts and figures, these illustrations help to drive home the sheer magnitude of the seemingly overwhelming odds that Allied forces faced over the course of the war.

The CG based graphics are the biggest part of this introductory level WWII documentary.  Those behind its creation should also be applauded for touching on more than just the facts and figures of the war’s numbers in terms of casualties and force sizes, etc.  Throughout the feature, audiences will notice the constant subtle note that the war was largely economic both in the Pacific and European theater.  It takes the time to note that it was in fact an embargo on Japan that eventually led to the island nation’s military forces to attack American forces in Pearl Harbor.  Anyone that has any interest in this side of the war would be well recommended to read author Evan Thomas’ book, Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941 – 1945.  This book clearly notes the effect of the embargo on Japan and how it led to the decision by the Japanese government to attack U.S. forces in Hawaii.  Even more interesting to learn in reading this book is something echoed by actor/director Clint Eastwood’s 2006 WWII foreign language movie, Letters From Iwo Jima.  This movie, much like the aforementioned book actually points out that not all Japanese citizens wanted to go to war with the United States, nor did certain members of the Japanese government and military.  Again these much more in depth discussions are all started by History Channel’s WWII From Space.  So it proves just how valuable this documentary is even at an introductory level.

While the program and those behind it are to be applauded for their work providing introductory information concerning the economic influences of the war, there are other factors that are left untouched.  For instance, the late mention of Truman making the call to drop the atomic bombs on Japan was more than merely Truman making the call.  As anyone that has seen any of History Channel’s other documentaries will recall, Truman didn’t merely make the call.  He offered Japan more than one opportunity to surrender before making the call.  What’s more Truman took over during the course of the war after Roosevelt died.  History Channel’s multi-disc set focusing on some of our nation’s most well-known presidents goes into depth about this very subject.  Again, this goes back to the importance of this feature as an introductory level feature.

That WWII largely takes an introductory level is a very good thing for audiences of all levels despite what some might want to believe or say.  It doesn’t attempt to go into too much depth.  And yes it does move at a relatively fast pace.  But it also is segmented as if it was a televised feature.  There are breaks throughout the course of the documentary that will allow for audiences to stop, take breaks, and come back to the show at their own pace.  This is especially helpful both in the living room and in the classroom as teachers won’t be forced to decide where to stop for the sake of class time.  And home viewers can simply take the program at their own casual pace.  What’s more, the Blu-ray presentation of WWII From Space will allow viewers to stop the program, take it from one Blu-ray player to another and bring it back to the original player, and pick it up from where it was stopped on said Blu-ray player if so desired.  This is a minor detail on the surface.  But in the grand scheme of things, it proves to be one more nice addition to the overall presentation.  It prevents audiences from having to go through the scene selection menu on the main menu or from even having to search through the program to get back to where they originally stopped.  Again, this is subtle but impressive.  And combined with everything else already noted concerning this feature—from its CG based visual aids, to its introductory level information about the war, and its segmented presentation—it proves to be a great feature both for teachers and home viewers at any level and an enjoyable watch for anyone that has ever had any interest in the history of one of the world’s biggest conflicts.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online from the History Channel store at http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=450976&SESSID=30040cc7fc45da7ca4832f41ee690e27&v=history.

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Shout! Factory Gives Film Buffs Even More Laughs In New MST3K Set

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Thank goodness for Mystery Science Theater 3000 and thank goodness for Shout! Factory keeping this classic comic science fiction show alive on DVD.  This modern classic is one of the single greatest shows ever created for film lovers.  There was no other show like it during its time.  And there has been no show like it since.  On the surface, the very concept of a man and his robot friends watching a bunch of really bad B-movies sounds like something wouldn’t work.  But it did.  And it still does today.  Now, fans of MST3K have been rewarded once again for their loyalty with another new collection of so bad they’re good movies and great skits from an equally great modern classic TV show.   

Shout! Factory released the latest volume of this modern classic earlier this week.  Included in this brand new set are four more movies that are so god awful that they’re great.  Contradictory, no?  This four disc set is anchored by the absolutely campy sequel to Universal’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon in Revenge of the Creature and the equally campy Operation Double 007.  1955’s Revenge of the Creature sees the return of the famed creature.  This time out, the creature actually becomes a bit of a sympathetic character as it’s captured by scientists and taken to an aquarium in Florida to be studied.  Awakening in the aquarium and gawked at by hundreds of people, the creature (played here by Ricou Browning) becomes angered and tries to escape his tank.  This leads to more strict means to hold the creature, which only makes it angrier when it finally escapes.  And as was the case with classic monster flicks of that era, it went after the first young, attractive woman it saw as it wanted her for a mate.  The creature is of course stopped in the end and the damsel in distress saved.  While the film is absolutely campy, the very fact that it’s part of a franchise featuring one of Hollywood’s great movie monsters, having the opportunity to take in this flick will be appreciated by any true classic movie buff.  As an added bit of trivia, a young Clint Eastwood plays an uncredited role in this campy sci-fi classic.

Revenge of the Creature is a great addition to the new MST3K set from Shout! Factory.  It’s just one of the movies included that make the set great for anyone that wants to go back in time to just one era of Hollywood’s “Golden Age.”  Along with that flick, classic film buffs will also appreciate the even campier, Operation Double 007.  This largely forgotten flick from 1967 starred the younger brother of now retired actor Sean Connery, Neil.  Neil plays a plastic surgeon that is brought on board by the British government when his older brother (who just happens to be a secret agent) turns out to not be available to help them for a special mission.  Here’s where things get completely ridiculous.  The mission in question involves Neil stopping the evil crime syndicate Thanatos from using a giant magnetic wave device that will stop all metal machinery in the world.  Yes, it’s laughable.  But that’s what makes it so fun.  Of course, the action is just as campy, making it that much more fun and funny.  Think it can’t get any worse?  It can.  Not only is the plot and the action hilarious, but the scriptwriters didn’t even try to give Connery’s character a name.  He is actually called by his real name throughout the story.  There is even more that classic film buffs will love and laugh at throughout this movie proving why it’s one more that’s so bad that it’s great.  Thanks to being part of this new set, it’s one more movie that would be great for a classic camp movie marathon.  Of course, it’s just one more in this set.  Audiences will also love Robot Holocaust and Kitten with a Whip.  They finish out the four disc set that’s available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct at Shout! Factory’s online store, http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

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