The Winery Dogs’ Debut Even Better The Second Time Around

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

Billy Sheehan, Mike Portnoy, and Richie Kotzen (a.k.a. The Winery Dogs) released their self-titled debut last summer.  The rock super group’s album proved to be one of the best rock records of 2013 at least in the view of this critic.  Now the trio has followed up the success of its debut full-length with a re-issue of that album that includes a bonus live disc boasting a ten-song live performance by the band.  That recording, Unleashed in Japan 2013, combines songs from the band’s self-titled debut, and songs previously unreleased in the United States.  The bonus disc itself is the central point of the re-issue’s enjoyment.  The recording’s set list is another reason that audiences will enjoy the bonus concert.  The show’s audio mix is the finishing touch for the whole package.  That factor, the set list and the very fact that this show would be included with the original album makes the whole package one of the year’s re-issues definitely worth checking out.

The new re-issue of The Winery Dogs’ self-titled 2013 debut record is one of the few album re-issues definitely worth checking out in 2014.  The primary reason for that is the album’s bonus companion live recording.  The Winery Dogs obviously isn’t the first band to re-issue an album with a bonus live recording.  But The Winery Dogs is a super group of sorts.  Its members each have their own projects going on outside of this one.  So, touring time is more than likely limited.  That being the case, it makes any live recording all the more valuable especially for fans that don’t have or haven’t had the chance to experience The Winery Dogs live.  The companion live recording is even more of a bonus when compared to the live recordings included as companion material by other bands on their albums.  Other bands just take performances from their tours and jam them all together onto a CD or DVD (or both in some cases).  The Winery Dogs didn’t do that here.  This recording is an extensive concert recorded in Tokyo, Japan, July 17th 2013.  That was the second ever concert held by the band.  It would be interesting to see if Loud & Proud Records will follow up this audio recording with a companion DVD/Blu-ray video in the near future to compliment this piece of the whole.  Regardless, having included a concert recording as extensive as this one with the band’s debut album is central to this re-issue.  It gives audiences the near complete experience of what The Winery Dogs is all about.

The inclusion of the bonus live recording as part of The Winery Dogs’ new re-issue is central to the re-issue’s enjoyment.  The set list chosen for the band’s concert is just as important to the package.  Audiences will notice that the band only played a few of the songs from its debut record in this concert.  The band included in its live companion recording one song that was previously unavailable to American audiences.  The trio also included songs that its members had written and recorded with and by others.  Among those songs are: Poison’s ‘Stand’, Elvin Bishop’s ‘Fooled Around and Fell In Love’, and even a piece co-written by Richie Kotzen and Richie Zito (both of whom performed and recorded with Poison) titled ‘Shine.’  The combination of the band’s own works and the these songs makes the band’s concert all the more of a full experience.  The band’s balance of the songs throughout its set is the key to that enjoyment.  And set alongside the concert’s audio mix, the concert becomes a complete experience for fans.

The set list chosen for the band’s concert presented here is quite well balanced, especially being a concert promoting the band’s debut album.  As important as the set list is to the experience, the audio quality of the recording is especially important.  That applies whether or not audiences were actually there in person at the show.  The show’s audio mix is relatively clear. The vocals and music are both equally balanced. The show’s audio operator is to be commended for handling what was a clear issue with the venue’s acoustics. Even on record, audiences can tell that the concert’s venue had to have had rather high ceilings. Even despite this, the person helming the boards compensated quiet well for this, putting what is the final touch to the recording, making it a recording that any fan of these three veteran musicians will love. The recording together with the band’s original debut album make the package as a whole one of the year’s few re-issues so far worth checking out.

The band is currently touring in support of its newly re-issued album. It will perform live at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, CT. The band’s current tour schedule also brings it to North Carolina for a pair of dates this month. A performance at Amos Southend in Charlotte, North Carolina is scheduled for next Saturday, May 10th and one to follow the next day at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem. The band’s current tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs. Audiences can check out the band’s tour schedule there as well as keep up with the latest news from the band, too.

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.

Roadrunner Records Announces Trio Of Releases For Record Store Day

Roadrunner Records has announced a group of special releases for Record Store Day.

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Roadrunner Records will re-issue Slipknot’s Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses tomorrow as part of the annual Record Store Day across the country. The album will be released on double clear vinyl in limited quantities.

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Courtesy:  Roadrunner Records

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also scheduled for release tomorrow from Roadrunner Records specially for Record Store Day are; Opeth’s Watershed (2008) and a twelve-inch picture disc single for Dream Theater’s ‘Illumination Theory.’ Watershed will be re-issued on double green vinyl. ‘Illumination Theory’ comes from Dream Theater’s latest self-titled full length release. More information on Roadrunner Records’ Record Store Day releases is available online at http://www.recordstoreday.com, http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com, http://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerrecords, and http://twitter.com/rrusa. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bigelf Gives Fans Free Download Of New Song

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Bigelf will release its new album this Spring.  The band will release Into the Maelstrom on Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.

In anticipation of the album’s release, Bigelf is giving audiences the chance to download for free, one song off of its new album.  Fans can download the band’s brand new track ‘Alien Frequency’ for free now online at http://insideoutmusic.com/specials/bigelf/.  After downloading the band’s new song, fans can also check out a special EPK that gives some background information on the album’s creation.  That information is given via interviews with Bigelf front man Damon Fox.

Also available for viewing now is the lyric video for the band’s song ‘Control Freak.’  It can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YShfPzht-mc&feature=youtu.be.

Into the Maelstrom will be available on limited edition double-disc digipack and gatefold double-disc vinyl LP. The double-disc digipack includes exclusive re-mixes and demo versions of the album’s songs.  The double-disc gatefold vinyl includes the album on both vinyl and CD.  It can be pre-ordered now online at http://www.insideoutshop.de/Artist/Bigelf/21221.  As an added bonus, Into the Maelstrom features famed drummer Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Winery Dogs, Transatlantic) on drums.  The complete track listing for Into The Maelstrom is listed below.

1.     Incredible Time Machine
2.     Hypersleep
3.     Already Gone
4.     Alien Frequency
5.     The Professor & The Madman
6.     Mr. Harry McQuhae
7.     Vertigod
8.     Control Freak
9.     High
10.  Edge of Oblivion
11.  Theater of Dreams
12.  ITM
I. Destination Unknown
II. Harbinger Of Death
III. Memories

More information on Bigelf is available online now at http://www.bigelf.com, http://www.facebook.com/bigelfmusic and http://twitter.com/bigelf.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Armoury Records Gives Sherinian’s Latest Solo Effort A Proper Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Armoury Records/Eagle Rock Entertainment

Every year, consumers see any number of albums re-issued from a variety of artists, groups, and bands. The reasons for those re-issues are as varied as the re-issues themselves. It goes without saying that among that annual mass of music, some of it is worth the purchase, while some of it is not as worthwhile. Keyboardist Derek Sherinian saw all of his solo releases re-issued this week. Those albums are among the re-issues that are worth purchasing. This is especially the case for those that are long-time fans of his music. Sherinian proved throughout each of his solo releases that he was just as good on his own as he was with any of the bands and artists with whom he had already worked over the course of his career. One of the best examples of that talent is his 2009 release, Molecular Heinosity.

Molecular Heinosityis the fifth and most recent of Sherinian’s solo releases. As with his previous four solo releases, this record is largely an instrumental release. The sole song on this album that includes any lyrics is one of two pieces he recorded with long-time friend and Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde. The song in question is ‘So Far Gone.’ Audiences will also be interested to note that Brian Tichy joins Sherinian on this track. Tichy has also played drums for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, and Zakk WYlde on Wylde’s 199 release Pride& Glory. Most recently, Tichy played with the hard rock supergroup Something Unto Nothing. So it goes without saying that there is a certain level of familiarity between the trio. And it shows in this song, too. The trio–along with fellow musicians Tina Guo (cello) and Tony Franklin (fretless bass)–come together to make this one of the album’s best pieces. Wylde proves once again on this song why he is one of the most revered guitarists in the music business. And Tichy’s timekeeping is rock solid despite the various time signature changes throughout the song. Sherinian’s work on the keys is not to be ignored, either. Whether by himself, partnered with Tina Guo’s performance on cello or even the semi-call and response with Wylde in the song’s bridge, Sherinian shows time and again in this song why he is such a sought after musician even after so many decades in the business. This isn’t the only point at which he exhibits such talent on this record. Another of the album’s high points comes in the album’s second track, titled ‘Ascension.’

‘Ascension’ is one of this album’s high points especially in that it boasts something of a similarity to the music he wrote with his former band mates in Dream Theater. To be even more precise, it sounds stylistically like the music that he wrote with his now ex-band mates for the band’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  What is most interesting of all in this song is just how much is going on within the context of the song’s near three-minute run time.  That’s right.  This song comes in at less than three minutes in length.  To be more exact, it clocks in at two minutes and fifteen seconds.  That’s pretty short.  Yet, the way that it gradually builds, from start to finish makes it so interesting.  Making it even more interesting is what would appear to be Sherinian mimicking a guitar part with his keyboard in this song.  If that is indeed the case, he is to be even more highly commended.  That’s because that part could easily pass as a guitar.  And it shows even more his understanding of and appreciation for his instrument.  The song’s musical effect overall shows his knowledge of music and his talent just as much.  All of that together makes this song all the more enjoyable.

The songs that comprise Molecular Heinosity each have their own musical identity.  Collectively, they make the entire album one that any fan of Sherinian will enjoy.  Now that it has been re-issued courtesy of Armoury Records, the music is just part of the album’s success.  Just as important to this re-issue is the new companion booklet.  Most people don’t pay too much attention to the liner notes that come with albums in their physical form.  But as audiences will see in the album’s new liner notes, there’s plenty to take in.  This album for instance gives listeners a bio of sorts on Sherinian and his career.  It goes all the way back to his days playing with Alice Cooper and Billy Idol as well as a little surprise background on his departure from Dream Theater.  This critic was surprised to learn that he didn’t leave Dream Theater, but was in fact let go from the band.    Along with the semi-career bio, Armoury Records also included background notes from Sherinian on a handful of songs.  That background info gives extra insight into said songs.  It’s too bad that more bands, artists, and musicians don’t do this.  It’s one more reason that the physical object will never be fully replaced by the digital.  Little things like background notes on songs as art of the liner notes serve to enhance one’s listening experience.  And this album is no exception to that rule.  The bonus liner notes and bio included in this new re-issue are wonderful compliments to the album’s music.  Together, they make the whole product again, one that any fan of Derek Sherinian will want to add to their library especially if they do not already own this record.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from Derek Sherinian’s official website at http://www.dereksherinian.com/merchandise.htm.  More information on this and other releases from Derek Sherinian is available online at http://www.dereksherinian.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.

LaBrie’s Latest Is The First Great EP Of 2014

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

James LaBrie’s new EP I Will Not Break is the first great EP of 2014.  The Dream Theater singer’s new release follows up the release of his most recent full length solo album, Impermanent Resonance (2013)—his sixth full length solo release overall.  LaBrie’s new EP will impress audiences right off the bat thanks to the inclusion of its title track. The track in question comes right from Impermanent Resonance.  That’s not all that audiences will appreciate from this record. Just as worthy of applause from LaBrie’s new EP, is the inclusion of ‘Why’, which also closes out Impermanent Resonance. So fans are offered some level of familiarity on this new EP, as is evidenced already.  That familiarity isn’t all that will impress audiences.  I Will Not Break closes out with a trio of remixes of songs from Impermanent Resonance.  The final piece in that trio, ‘Euphoric’, is perhaps the best of the three. And it is also a fitting closer for this recent release.  As with any EP or LP, the songs presented are just part of what makes the presentation in whole worth hearing.  LaBrie’s new EP boasts a total of nine tracks.  That leaves six others that are enjoyable in their own way.  And for anyone that is a fan of James LaBrie or even Dream Theater, I Will Not Break is a welcome addition to said individuals’ personal music collections.

I Will Not Break opens with its namesake song.  And for those that might perhaps be unfamiliar with James LaBrie’s work both by himself and with his band mates in Dream Theater, this song—the EP’s title track—is one heck of a first impression.  Those that are more familiar with LaBrie’s body of work will attest to the fact that the ferocity in this song as a whole is nothing new for him.  This applies both to the song’s musical side and that of its lyrics.  The song opens gradually, growing with echoes of its chorus until its first full powered notes from guitarist and drummer Marco Sfogli and Peter Wildoer.  Those first notes let audiences know that they are in for one heck of a ride.  Put simply, there’s almost a sort of Swedish metal influence in the pair’s performance.  LaBrie’s semi-social commentary in the song’s lyrical side compliments that intensity quite well. He sings in the song’s chorus, “So let them take/All that they can/Each one of them/I will not break/Now I have to walk/Have to walk away/Never seem to fit/Most of the time/I’ll be better off/Better off this way/And taking back what’s mine.”  Keyboardist Matt Guillory’s guttural screams of “We’re taking it back” seal the deal so to speak.  The defiant stance taken in the song’s lyrics perfectly compliment the power in the song’s musical side.  In the end, listeners will understand with both sides combined why this song was chosen as the EP’s opener.  They will also agree that including this song was just as wise a choice.  It wasn’t the only wise choice, though.  Just as wise a choice for inclusion on I Will Not Break was ‘Why.’

‘Why’ closes out James LaBrie’s most recent album.  Much like the EP’s title track, LaBrie and his band mates come together to make a song that at least on its musical side, bears a striking Swedish metal influence.  That famed “Gothenberg influence” is just as impressive here as it is in the EP’s opener.  The irony here though, is that it doesn’t necessarily match up with the song’s lyrical content.  ‘Why’ comes across as a song rooted deeply in personal relationship issues.  LaBrie sings in this song, “But here we are/Lost in the dark/So tell me why/Why are we wasting our time/Are we that scared of goodbye/That we’d rather/Be living a lie/Tell me why/Can’t we move on with our lives.”  It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this song’s lyrical and musical sides seem somewhat askew for lack of better wording.  In fact, the two different emotional states exhibited by the song’s music and lyrics make the song all the more interesting to take in.  It’s for that reason that this song being included in I Will Not Break was another wise choice for LaBrie.

The inclusion of a pair of originals from Impermanent Resonance was definitely a wise choice for this new release. The most surprisingly wise choice made for this EP is its closer.  LaBrie closes out with an interesting re-mix of ‘Euphoric’, which was also included in said album.  This was a wise choice as it is the polar opposite of ‘Why.’  Whereas ‘Why’ was a piece seemingly centered on personal relationship issues, ‘Euphoric’ presents the happier side of personal relationships. LaBrie sings in the original song, “Tired of bumming the streets alone/No relationships/On my own/Forgot what it was like/’Til she/’Til this lovely girl/She touched me.”  The re-worked version takes pieces of the song’s chorus, with LaBrie singing, “I never felt/Euphoric so high/You got me/I’m yours/A spell on me/Look forward to seeing you.”  So the same sentiment is exhibited in this NeonGenesis re-mix of ‘Euphoric.’  What makes this re-mix stand out is its electronica and dubstep elements.  Most audiences wouldn’t equate such upbeat lyrics with the sound crafted for this re-mix.  But somehow it works.  And the two sides together make it a solid re-mix and equally solid closer for I Won’t Break.  Together with the already noted songs—and those not noted—it serves as more proof of why I Won’t Break is the first great EP of 2014.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on I Won’t Break and all of the latest news and more from James LaBrie is available online at http://www.facebook.com/officialjameslabrie and http://www.jameslabrie.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

“Sounds…” Re-Issue Offers Audiences Even More Enjoyable Sounds

Courtesy: Eagle Records/E.A.R. Music

Courtesy: Eagle Records/E.A.R. Music

Veteran British progressive rock band Marillion released its seventeenth full length studio release in 2012. The album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made, was met largely with positive reviews from fans and critics alike. A little over a year later, Eagle Records and E.A.R. Music re-issued Sounds That Can’t Be Made with an extra bonus. That bonus is an extra disc that boasts variants of songs from the original album. Those variants include a handful of live and in-studio performances, a demo of another song, and a previously unreleased song that kicks off the whole thing. That song is an incredibly emotional piece titled ‘Wrapped Up In This.’

‘Wrapped Up In Time’ was a fitting way to open the bonus companion disc to Sounds That Can’t Be Made. This deeply emotional piece is a perfect opener for the album’s bonus disc. The song’s introspective, almost mournful lyrics will leave anyone with a heartbeat in tears. Front man Steve Hogarth sings in this previously unreleased song, “Things got wrapped up in time/Like the past and the present/Or the perfect line/In a song/They take their time/And when they’re gone/They take their time/You can’t have them back/For the time for them has gone/Their time has gone.” Hogarth perfectly catches the emotion of someone remembering lost loved ones here. This is especially true when he hits the high notes in the song’s chorus. The control he exhibits over his voice is incredible. His use of vibrato even better illustrates the pain in the song. The addition keyboardist Mark Kelly’s performance only serves to add to the song’s emotional depth.  Anyone left dry-eyed by the song’s end simply isn’t human.

‘Wrapped Up In Time’ is a fitting opener to the bonus disc included in the new re-issue of Sounds That Can’t Be Made. That’s because it is so beautiful yet heart wrenching at the same time.  On the completely opposite end of the spectrum, the band’s original take on its song ‘Lucky Man’ is just as interesting to hear as the final product.  The final product that is on the originally released album is a joyous piece celebrating happiness with what one has in life.  Hogarth sings in this song, “Some of us want diamonds and trinkets and gold/The perfect body and the perfect skin/Witnesses to their good deeds/Willing accomplices to their sin/Some of us pray for absolution/Some want sex and call it love/But freedom  to cheat’s not something I need tonight.”  He goes on to sing in the chorus, “I truly am/A lucky man/I have everything that I want.”  His words ring loud and clear.  We as people are never truly happy.  We should be happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are.  The final take on the song is a full on rock song.  One can close one’s eyes, take in the music and lyrics and see all of the images of which Hogarth sings being book ended by a camera spinning, pointed up at a shining blue sky.  The original demo take on the song is noticeably different from the final product.  It starts off much softer and doesn’t have the full on rock feel of what’s on the album.  It’s more piano driven.  When the choir comes in, its effect against Hogarth’s piano playing is just as powerful as what is presented in the album take of the song.  It definitely is one of the highest of points on the re-issue’s bonus disc.

Both ‘Wrapped Up In Time’ and the original demo take of ‘Lucky Man’ are wonderful additions to Marillion’s newly re-issued album.  There is at least one more addition to the re-issue’s bonus disc that merits noting.  That song is the band’s live performance of the title track from its recent release.  This nearly eight-minute performance taken from the band’s 2013 performance in Holland is a prime example of what makes Marillion such an extraordinary band in a live setting.  Hogarth’s vocals soar as he sings, “Aurora Borealis/Shimmering green and blue/Indigo and violent/Like phantoms half-imagined/Something unreal/But realer than everything/Seeing all the planet’s love floating in the air/Caressing you every day.”  The semi-psychedelic sounding lyrics gain even more power in the song’s live performance.  That’s thanks not just to Hogarth, but to the talents of his band mates, too.  Guitarist Steve Rothery is right up there with the likes of Dream Theater’s John Petrucci as he makes his way through the song.  And drummer Ian Mosley keeps the whole band together with this less-is-more style playing.  There are no major flashes or fills from Mosley.  He keeps a solid beat and adds a little musical spice where need be for lack of better wording.  Put simply, the band’s performance of the album’s title track is something that audiences must hear for themselves in order to fully appreciate it.  The same applies to each of the songs included on the bonus disc of Sounds That Can’t Be Made (Special Edition).  Audiences that give these variants a chance will agree at just how impressive each one is.  They will agree that the songs collectively make this record a solid re-issue and a re-issue worth hearing.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Marillion, as well as all of the latest news from Marillion is available online at http://www.marillion.com, http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial and http://twitter.com/marilliononline.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, 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.

Bigelf Releases Cover Art, Track Listing For InsideOut Debut

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Veteran L.A. based stoner rock band Bigelf will release its latest release this Spring.  Into The Maelstrom will be available in stores and online Tuesday, April 1st via InsideOut Music.  The band’s new album will be the first for Bigelf on InsideOut.  It will also be the first record for drummer Mike Portnoy (Transatlantic, Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater) with the band.

Into The Maelstrom will be available in a double-disc digipak and on a double-disc gatefold vinyl release.  The double-disc digipak will feature both the album and a handful of re-mixes and demos from the band.  The gatefold vinyl will feature the entire album as presented on CD.  The album’s track listing is as follows:

  1. Incredible Time Machine
  2. Hypersleep
  3. Already Gone
  4. Alien Frequency
  5. The Professor & The Madman
  6. Mr. Harry McQuhae
  7. Vertigod
  8. Control Freak
  9. High
  10. Edge of Oblivion
  11. Theater of Dreams
  12. ITM: I. Destination Unknown / II. Harbinger Of Death / III. Memories

Founding member Damon Fox explained in an interview what audiences can expect from the bands upcoming InsideOut debut.  “I think ITM is the best Bigelf record yet,” he said. “And I believe it is a real game changer for the band. It’s gonna put us over the top! Psychedelic cinematic landscapes and melodic prog-doom set the stage for the new album, I cannot wait for fans (old and new) to experience all of its apocalyptic color.”

Bigelf will be part of this year’s Progressive Nation At Sea cruise.  The cruise sets sail February 18th and returns to port February 22nd.  It will also feature performances by Transatlantic–another band with whom Portnoy plays—Devin Townsend Project, Riverside & Adrian Belew Power Trio.  Tickets for the Progressive Nation At Sea Cruise are available on the cruise’s official website, http://www.progressivenationatsea.com.  Audiences can also go to the cruise’s website to get a complete list of performers and all of the latest information on the cruise.

More information on Bigelf, its upcoming new release, tour dates and more is available online at http://www.bigelf.com, http://www.facebook.com/bigelfmusic and http://twitter.com/bigelf.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.