Slugterra: Return Of The Elementals Will Impress Any Anime Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Disney XD/Nerd Corps

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Disney XD/Nerd Corps

Disney X D’s Slugterra is one of the most popular series on the Disney Channel’s digital sister station today.  The CG-based series has drawn large numbers for the network and seen a handful of episode compilations since it first debuted.  This week, Shout! Factory released the series’ latest DVD, which is in fact the first non-compilation disc rom the series in the form of Slugterra: Return of the ElementalsSlugterra: The Return of the Elementals is the first “movie” spawned Disney X D’s series.  Those that might not be so familiar with this presentation will enjoy this story for more than one reason.   The first reason that audiences will enjoy this feature is the fact that while it is an anime series of sorts, it can only rightfully be compared to maybe one other series stylistically speaking.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this “movie” is its writing.  It is a bridge of sorts between the series’ previous episodes and those to come.  And unlike other features of its ilk, it doesn’t necessarily require viewers to come into the presentation with knowledge of the series up to this point.  Last to note of the note of the “movie” is the series’ exhibition of its stylistic difference from the likes of Beyblade, Pokemon, Digimon, Monsuno, and others within that realm.  All three factors taken into consideration, audiences will see in watching this latest release from Shout! Factory and Disney X D, that Slugterra actually proves worth watching by any anime fan.

Disney X D’s Slugterra has proven to be a big hit for the network in its now three seasons.  It is sure to grow in popularity now with the brand new release of its first full length “movie” Slugterra; Return of the Elementals.  The primary reason that this presentation will help increase Slugterra’s popularity is the fact that it can’t necessarily be compared to all of the other series out there today in terms of its look.  Series such as Monsuno, Pokemon, and Digimon have a very specific look about them.  The only series to which one could truly and justifiably compare Slugterra, as evidenced in this DVD, is the short-lived series Hot Wheels Battle Force 5.  This should come as no surprise as both series are produced by the Canadian animation studio Nerd Corps.  Viewers that are familiar with Hasbro Studios’ properties will see a similar trend among its series, too.  So the fact that Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals can be compared to only another series under the Nerd Corps umbrella and not other CG/anime hybrid series makes it stand out right from the start.  It’s only one aspect of this DVD that will impress especially audiences that are new to Slugterra, both in terms of the series and this DVD.

The look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals is an important part of this presentation especially among those audiences that are experiencing the series for the first time on this DVD.  Just as worth noting in this DVD is the writing behind the presentation’s story (I.E. its script).  The story behind this feature picks up where the events of the series’ second season leaves off.  The Shane Gang thought that they had gotten rid of Dr. Black and The Goon, and saved the caverns.  So, things seem okay at first.  But when all the slugs start essentially becoming possessed, Eli knows that something is very wrong.  It turns out that things are very bad and are about to get much worse as they didn’t finish the job after all at the end of the series’ second season.  It leads to a perilous hunt for the fabled Elementals, which are essentially the ancestors of all of the slugs in the caverns.  It makes for a fun story within itself and an equally enjoyable bridge between the events of the series’ first two seasons and the potential third season to come.   The inclusion of a series recap before the story even begins enhances the overall viewing experience even more both for viewers that are more familiar with the series than others.  It shows respect for those that might be coming on board for the first time and for those that had forgotten what had happened even having watched the series’ first two seasons.  It’s one more way that Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals proves to be worth the watch by any anime fan at least once.

The writing and the look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals are both important in considering the impact of this DVD among its key audiences.  They both help to set this movie apart from the extended features spawned from other series such as Digimon, Pokemon, and Monsuno just to name a few examples.  There is one more aspect of this presentation that makes it stand out from that crowd worth noting.  That last aspect is the “movie’s” stylistic approach.  The stylistic approach taken with Slugterra is rather different from those aforementioned series.  Whereas the series in question center on battles between characters, Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals presents a somewhat different approach.  The series’ characters do use super powered creatures and even keep them in their own special containers as with the other anime series out there.  But unlike those series, Eli and his friends in the Shane Gang, don’t necessarily engage in the same kind of battles per se.  Rather the slugs are used as part of the overall action of the story.  From saving Eli and company from a raging underground river by crafting a web to hold back rocks to protect them from evil attackers and even to heal a person, the slugs are more tools so to speak than the sort of creature used in the other anime series currently populating the television spectrum.   It’s one more aspect of this feature that makes it stand out and in turn makes it even more enjoyable for viewers new and old.  Together with the feature’s script and its overall style, all three elements collectively make Slugterra: the Return of the Elementals even more worth the watch by any anime fan.

The general style or look of Slugterra: The Return of the Elementals is one that can only be compared to its fellow Nerd Corps counterpart in Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 much as the series under Hasbro Studios are quite similar to one another.  The story that makes up Slugterra: Return of the Elementals is full of action and even humor that audiences old and new will appreciate.  Whether viewers are jumping on board for the first time with this DVD or are more familiar with the series at this point, its series recap before the presentation serves as an excellent addition to the overall program.  And rounding out the whole presentation is the “movie’s” stylistic approach. While it is fantastic in its own right and bears a slight similarity to other anime series out there, it still maintains its own identity from those series in how the creatures are used.  All three factors alone make this feature rather interesting in their own right.  Collectively, they prove Slugterra: The Return of The Elementals is a “movie” worth at least one watch whether one is new to the world of anime or is far more a fan of the genre.  Slugterra: Return of the Elementals is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-animation/slugterra-return-of-the-elementals.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.  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.

Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies Is One Of This Year’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  MGP Records

Courtesy: MGP Records

MGP Records’ newly released children’s album Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies is one of the most surprising releases in its genre so far this year.  The album, which was crafted by composer-musician Darryl Tookes and Joe Beck is a beautiful tribute to the memory of Beck, who passed away in 2008.  Beck, like Tookes, was himself a composer and musician.  He wrote and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry throughout his life. From Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis to the likes of James Brown, David Sanborn, and Paul Desmond, Beck’s resume was a shining list of who’s who in the music world.  So it goes without saying that when Beck passed in 2008 his friend Darryl Tookes had to wonder if this project would ever see the light of day.  Thank goodness, it did.  That’s because of the pure musical beauty contained from beginning to end in this compilation of songs.  The compilation opens with a catchy, jazzed-up take of the standard ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ that in this critic’s view, boasts quite the Stevie Wonder influence.  It’s a take that will take many by entirely pleasant surprise.  The flowing harmonies and keyboard line in ‘I Love You Too Much’ conjure thoughts of Boyz II Men.  The song is a touching tribute to every young boy out there.  The young ladies out there haven’t been forgotten, either.  As a matter of fact, ‘Daddy’s Girl’ is great for when a young lady is still a little girl or even for the first father-daughter dance at the wedding of any father’s daughter to her suitor.  It boasts its own old school r&b style that will move any dad with a heart to tears of happiness.  All three of the songs noted here are excellent examples of what makes Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies a beautiful surprise of a record.  Audiences will find for themselves in purchasing this album that every single one of the album’s ten tracks will leave a smile on any parent’s face; some songs more so than others.  In the end, audiences will agree that this record is a fitting tribute to the memory of Joe Beck and an equally fitting addition to any parent’s music library.

Tookes and Beck make quite the first impression with this compilation in their jazzed up take on the standard ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’  That jazzed up feel is the most obvious aspect of the song that audiences will appreciate about it.  This classic poem/song is typically much slower and straight forward.  This more up-tempo take on the song is the polar opposite of that standard sound. One could almost argue that it boasts a celebratory vibe for lack of better wording.  And after hearing it, audiences will agree it is worlds better than that standard format.  Tookes channels Stevie Wonder as he sings poet Jane Taylor’s classic work.  Audiences that hear this song without knowing it is Tookes singing might actually mistake him for Wonder.  That in itself is quite the statement to Tookes’ vocal talents.  Not to be left out, Beck shines with his guitar work alongside Tookes’ vocals.  Their talents alongside the song’s vocal harmonies and the percussion add even more depth and emotion to the song.  That depth and joyful emotion generated through the song makes it clear why it was chosen as the album’s opener.  It makes just as clear that it was the right choice to open the album.

Beck and Tookes’ jazzed up take on ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ was the perfect choice to open this album, especially when taking into consideration the body of the album, closer included. It isn’t the only cover included on the album, either. There is also a medley of nursery rhymes that is just as enjoyable. And the duo’s gentle adaptation of ‘Rock a Bye Baby’ is just as impressive. The pair’s re-imaginings of classic songs aside, there are just as many equally moving originals throughout the album, too. One of those truly great pieces is an ode to sons everywhere in the song ‘I Love You Too Much.’ The gentle strains of the piano set against Tookes’ equally gentle vocals makes a person want to listen. The picture he paints of a father and son’s relationship is something worthy of a music video. This critic already has a vision of a music video in mind just listening to the video as the father and son talk to one another in the song’s verses. And as with the album’s opener, harmonies play a big role in this piece, too; especially in the song’s final moments. The best way to explain the combination of it all is that it is something that truly must be heard to be fully understood and appreciated. And in hearing it, every parent out there will appreciate the pure talent and musicianship exhibited throughout the composition. It is one more work that makes this compilation in whole an absolute for any parent out there.

The cover of the classic children’s poem/song ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and the tribute to every son out there that is ‘I Love You Too Much’ are two absolute gems that shine so brightly one Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies. Every parent that picks up this album will be glad to know that in crafting the album before Beck’s passing, he and Tookes did not forget all of the young princesses out there. Beck and Tookes pay tribute to all of the daughters out there early on in the simply titled ‘Daddy’s Girl.’ All of the parents and daughters alike will be happy to see that this original song is also the first original work included in the compilation. It is the second song overall, yes. But it is the first of the record’s original tunes. So in a sense, one could say that the young ladies out there are getting a double tribute, getting their own song before the boys. Of course, that was meant in the most playful sense possible so as to not offend anyone. The lightly Latin-jazz tinged song is a piece that works whether a young lady is a child or enjoying her first father-daughter dance at her wedding. Tookes sings happily of a daughter, “This is a love/A love like no other love/This is a love/Unlike another/A love like no other I’ll ever know/And so she goes/And as I watch her grow/Daddy’s girl/My daughter/And I love her so/Daddy’s girl/My daughter/And I love her so.” Once again, the harmonies that are so prevalent throughout this record do so much in this piece. The addition of what sounds like bongos in the background alongside a light triangle line adds even more emotion and depth to the whole thing. As with ‘I Love You Too Much’ that depth and emotion makes it so easy to see this song being accompanied by a music video, too. Yes, that is a not so subtle hint to whoever makes those choices. Music video or not, it is one more absolutely beautiful and moving piece that exemplifies what makes Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies one of the most wonderfully surprising children’s albums to be released this year. That is not to discount the album’s other songs, either. The lullaby that is ‘Daddy’s Here’ and the album’s African-influenced title track will impress audiences just as much. Whether it be for those songs or any of the others not noted here, one will come away from this album knowing that in listening to it, they have just experienced something very special. They will know they have just experienced not just a group of songs, but a group of truly thought out and heartfelt songs that dare this critic say is timeless in its own right.

Precious Child: Love Songs & Lullabies is one of the most surprisingly enjoyable children’s albums to be released this year. From start to finish, every song on this album plays its own part in making this album timeless in its own right. Collectively, they make the album potentially one of the year’s definite best in its category this year. It is available now in stores and online. 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.

AL Central, NL Central Matchups Take Center Stage This Weekend On ESPN’S MLB Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell closes out its 25th season of MLB coverage this weekend when the NL Central leading St. Louis Cardinals host division foes the Cincinnati Reds.

Sunday night’s matchup will be the closer in a three-game series between the NL Central foes. Dan Shulman will have the call for Sunday night’s broadcast. He will be joined by analysts John Kruk, Curt Schilling, and reporter Buster Olney for commentary. Coverage of the game is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET. Before Shulman and his SNB colleagues bring audiences Sunday’s season-ending broadcast, Karl Ravech and MLB Hall of Famer (and Cincinnati Reds great) Barry Larkin will have all of the latest baseball headlines on Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet live at 7pm ET. For those that won’t be near a TV, the game will be simulcast on ESPN Radio affiliates nationwide and online at WatchESPN. Spanish-speaking audiences can catch the game on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes Radio.

Tonight, ESPN2 will have another matchup with even bigger playoff implications as the Kansas City Royals host the Detroit Tigers in the opener of a three-game series between the AL Central foes. Detroit currently leads the Royals by only half a game. And it looks to end its current two-game skid as it comes into Kansas City today in that series’ first game. This weekend’s series looks to be a close one as the Royals and Tigers are evenly matched. Detroit is 43 – 35 on the road while Kansas City is 41 – 36 at home. Interestingly enough, Kansas City is 4 – 6 in its last 10 games while Detroit is 7 – 3 in its last 10 games. Dan Shulman and company will be on hand for tonight’s broadcast. Hakem Dermish and analysts Alex Cora and Mark Mulder will have all the latest from around the league before the game at 7pm ET on Baseball Tonight. Fans can also catch the series’ second game live Saturday on their local ESPN Radio affiliate. Jon Sciambi will have the call for that game. He will be joined by Jim Bowden for additional commentary. The duo will also have full coverage of Sunday night’s game between the Cardinals and Reds.

More information on this weekend’s MLB coverage is available online at

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

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.

Like A Storm Brews Up A Storm With Its New Video

Courtesy:  Another Century/Century Media

Courtesy: Another Century/Century Media

The video for ‘Love The Way You Hate Me,’ the new single from Like A Storm, has officially topped the one million views mark on YouTube. The single is taken from the band’s debut record on Another Century/Century Media. The video is available online to view via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xhblqV1CI. The announcement comes just as the band—Chris Brooks (Lead vocals, guitar, didgeridoo, keyboards, programming), Matt Brooks (Vocals, lead guitar, keyboards/programming) and Kent Brooks (bass, vocals, keyboards/programming)—announced even more tour dates. The brothers will hit the road alongside Alter Bridge, Thousand Foot Krutch, and label mates Otherwise beginning today in Ringle, Wisconsin.

Front man Matt Brooks discussed the band’s excitement at the announcement of the band’s new video breaking the one million views mark in a statement released to the media. “We were absolutely blown away when our “Love the Way You Hate Me” video hit one million views!” he said. “For three brothers from New Zealand, it is just insane to think that a song we wrote, recorded and produced ourselves has had over a million hits from rock fans all over the world… especially when that song features a didgeridoo! We want to say a huge thank you to all our friends and fans who have made this incredible milestone possible.” He went on to discuss the band’s upcoming fall tour dates, saying “We can’t wait to rock with everyone on our upcoming tours with Alter Bridge, Drowning Pool, Otherwise and more!”

The band’s current list of tour dates is available below.

Like A Storm Tour Dates

w/ Otherwise

SEPTEMBER

18 Ringle, WI – Q&Z Expo

19 Racine, WI – Rt 20

20 Green Bay, WI – The Watering Hole

21 Battle Creek, MI – The Music Factory

22 South Bend, IN – Cheers Pub

24 Ft Wayne, IN – Piere’s

25 Morgantown, WV – Schmitt’s Saloon

26 Gardners, PA – Fall Jam 2014

27 Parkersburg, WV – West Virginia Polo

29 New York, NY – The Studio @Webster

30 Rochester, NY – Montage Music Hall

OCTOBER
01 Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom

w/Alter Bridge

05 Detroit, MI – Fillmore

09 Worchester, MA – The Palladium

10 Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom

12 Huntington, NJ – The Paramount

13 Lancaster, PA – Freedom Hall

w/Thousand Foot Krutch

16 Flint, MI – Machine Shop

17 Fort Wayne, IN – Piere’s

18 Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection

w/Alter Bridge

25 San Francisco, CA – Warfield Theatre

26 Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

w/ Drowning Pool. “Unlucky 13 Tour”

30 Lynchburg, VA – Phase 2

31 Fostoria, OH – The New Nest

NOVEMBER

01 Macomb, IL – The Outskirts

02 Sioux Falls, SD – The District

04 Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep

05 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater

06 Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theater & Lounge

07 Salt Lake City, UT – Murray Theater

08 Las Vegas, NV – LVCS

13 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven

14 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory

15 Missoula, MT – Stage 112

16 Billings, MT – Babcock Theater

18 Minot, ND – The ‘O’riginal Bar & Nightclub

19 Spring Lake Park, MN – POV’S

21 Racine, WI – Rt. 20

22 Ringle, WI – Q&Z Expo Center

23 Joliet, IL – Mojoes

26 Joplin, MO – Rock 3405

More information on Like A Storm, its new album and all of the latest news from the band is available online at:

Website: http://www.likeastorm.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/likeastormofficial

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.

Eagle Rock Debuts New Concert Recording Series This Fall

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will debut a new series of live recordings this fall.

Eagle Rock’s new “From The Vault” series will debut this fall beginning in November with a pair of archived concerts from The Rolling Stones. From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981 and From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: L.A. Forum Live in 1975 will be released Tuesday, November 18th. The first of the pair, From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981, features a complete two-and-a-half-hour concert. The concert was recorded at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Virginia. It was one of two shows that closed out the band’s 1981 tour in support of its then new album Tattoo You. Included in the concert are performances of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together,’ ‘Shattered,’ ‘Beast of Burden,’ ‘Tumbling Dice,’ ‘Miss You,’ ‘Jumping Jack Flash,’ and ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ among many other classic hits. From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981 will be available on SD Blu-ray ($17.98), DVD/2-CD ($29.98), DVD/3-LP ($44.98), and DVD (MSRP TBA).

From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: L.A. Forum Live in 1975, like From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981, features a full two-and-a-half-hour concert. The concert presented in this recording was taken from the band’s July 12th, 1975 performance at the L.A. Forum. It was one of five concerts that the band held at the venue from July 9th, 1975 to July 13th, 1975. Those performances were part of the band’s “Tour of the Americas ’75,” which was the first tour with the band for then new guitarist Ronnie Wood. Audiences will get to hear from this concert even more classic Rolling Stones hits including: ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ ‘Brown Sugar,’ ‘Midnight Rambler,’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ along with plenty of other equally well-known hits. From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: L.A. Forum Live in 1975 will be available on DVD, DVD/2-CD combo pack, and DVD/3-LP combo pack. The DVD/2-CD combo pack will retail for MSRP of $29.98. MSRP for the DVD and DVD/3-LP will be announced at a later date.

Audiences can check out a view of the Stones’ ‘Shattered’ from From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum Live in 1981 online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj96Tau44OA.

Audiences can also check out a performance of ‘Star Star’ from From The VaultThe Rolling Stones: L.A. Forum Live in 1975 online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou90MPHZzXs.

The complete set list for both recordings is available below.

 

                          HAMPTON COLISEUM TRACK LISTING:

1) Under My Thumb

2) When The Whip Comes Down

3) Let’s Spend The Night Together

4) Shattered

5) Neighbours

6) Black Limousine

7) Just My Imagination

8) Twenty Flight Rock

9) Going To A Go Go

10) Let Me Go

11) Time Is On My Side

12) Beast Of Burden

13) Waiting On A Friend

14) Let It Bleed

15) You Can’t Always Get What You Want

16) Band Introductions

17) Happy Birthday Keith

18) Little T & A

19) Tumbling Dice

20) She’s So Cold

21) Hang Fire

22) Miss You

23) Honky Tonk Women

24) Brown Sugar

25) Start Me Up

26) Jumping Jack Flash

27) (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction


L.A. FORUM TRACK LISTING:

1) Introduction*

2) Honky Tonk Women

3) All Down The Line

4) If You Can’t Rock Me / Get Off Of My Cloud

5) Star Star

6) Gimme Shelter

7) Ain’t Too Proud To Beg

8) You Gotta Move

9) You Can’t Always Get What You Want

10) Happy

11) Tumbling Dice

12) It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll

13) Band Intros*

14) Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)*

15) Fingerprint File

16) Angie

17) Wild Horses*

18) That’s Life*

19) Outta Space*

20) Brown Sugar

21) Midnight Rambler

22) Rip This Joint

23) Street Fighting Man

24) Jumpin’ Jack Flash

25) Sympathy For The Devil

*Not available on LP

 

Audiences can keep up with all of the latest news from the Rolling Stones online at

Website: http://www.rollingstones.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/therollingstones
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rollingstones

More information on these and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt
Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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.

The World Wars Is One Of 2014’s Top New Documentaries

Courtesy:  A&E Home Video/History Channel

Courtesy: A&E Home Video/History Channel

History Channel’s new powerhouse documentary The World Wars is easily one of this year’s best new documentaries hands down.  It is the proverbial icing on the cake that the network started baking earlier this year with the release of 100 Years of WWI and continued working this summer with 75 Years of World War II.  And along with the PBS documentary Day of Days: June 6th, 1945, it makes complete the collection of any history and military history buff this year. The first and most important aspect of this double-disc set that audiences will appreciate is its depth of information.  100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII were specifically directed at the technology and battles of WWI and WWII.  This presentation is far broader in its content.  It focuses on the history of both wars and more specifically how the events of WWI would lead four specific figures to be the most important individuals of World War II.  The combination of re-enactors and footage of the wars together heightens the content provided across the presentation.  That is the second factor that audiences will appreciate in this documentary.  And last but not least worth noting is the breadth of bonus material included in the program.  The bonus material included in the Blu-ray and DVD presentation of The World Wars gives even more depth to not just the history of the wars but to those most important figures of the wars—Patton, Stalin, Hitler, and Churchill.  Each figure receives special attention in its own bonus special feature.  These bonuses are just some of the many bonuses added to the DVD and Blu-ray to enhance the overall viewing experience.  And they do just that.  The bonus material together with the rich content and the focus on the wars’ primary figures make this program an absolute must have for any lover of history whether it be military or history in general.  It is just as invaluable a tool in the classroom or in the living room.  It proves that much more just why this presentation is one of the year’s best new documentaries.

History Channel’s new military history documentary The World Wars is one of this year’s best new documentaries.  The central reasoning for this argument is the documentary’s sheer breadth of information.  The network already released earlier this year a pair of documentaries centered on the World Wars in the form of 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII.  Those documentaries presented more directed content than this presentation.  Where 100 Years of WWI and 75 Years of WWII focused on more directed content—they focused primarily on the technology that was developed as a result of the wars and a couple of the wars’ more important battles—The World Wars offers audiences a far more broad picture.  It leaves absolutely no stone unturned in its telling of how both wars started.  From the political and economic causes of the wars to their political and economic ramifications and much more, audiences might find themselves shocked at some of the material included in this four-and-a-half hour presentation.  Among the most interesting facts to learn in watching the program is that then President Woodrow Wilson actually tried to prevent the League of Nations from forcing economic penalties on Germany as he and others knew the potential problems with doing so.  Audiences will be just as surprised to learn that Hitler actually escaped death three separate times throughout his time in the German army in WWI.  One of the academics tapped to help add to the story explains that the very first of those times was a showdown between himself and a fully armed British soldier.  He asks hypothetically can audiences imagine how much the world’s history would have changed had that first encounter led to Hitler’s death.  It’s definitely a mind twist when one really sits down and thinks about it.  There is even mention of how the Japanese, despite having contributed troops to the Allied efforts in WWI were shut out at the conference that led to the crafting of the Treaty of Versailles.  It goes without saying that the representatives at the conference were probably a bit upset over this, potentially leading to part of the motivation behind Japan’s negative feelings toward the U.S. before its attack on Pearl Harbor.  These are just some of the examples of how much content is shared throughout The World Wars’ near five-hour run time.  There is far more material and information proving how much depth this program possesses and why that depth is key to the program’s success.

The amount of information shared throughout The World Wars’ four-and-a-half-hour run time is key to the presentation’s overall success.  The amount of information included throughout this program could rival any college level history course.  The additional combination of actual footage from both wars alongside re-enactors goes a long way towards helping viewers grasp the material being discussed in each segment of the program.  The actors make it clear through their portrayals that they understood the importance of what they were doing, too. They did so by not overacting. It showed that they understood they weren’t in a “based on actual events” major Hollywood blockbuster, but a still professionally produced piece nonetheless. It just so happened that the piece in question is a straight forward historical documentary.

The in-depth content provided throughout The World Wars by itself makes this historical documentary well worth the watch by itself. That content would have been nothing without the addition of the program’s actual wartime footage and re-enactments. The World Wars would have been a success if it had only been highlighted by these factors. Of course, those behind the semi-mini-series didn’t rest on those laurels. They also included a bevy of bonus material that puts the presentation over the top. Included as bonus material is a collection of profiles on the most important figures of World War I and World War II, and a pair of short features on both the technology developed in the wars and life in the trenches. There is also an in-depth piece that adds even more background on the wars in which one of the most important statements is made. One of the historians interviewed for the program notes here that the Treaty of Versailles was essentially the catalyst for the start of WWII because of its language. She goes on to note that WWI and WWII were in reality not two wars, but two parts of one global conflict. It’s just that the world rested for two decades before the second part of that conflict re-ignited. It’s really an interesting concept to consider. And in hindsight, watching The World Wars in whole, her statement makes quite a bit of sense. It becomes perhaps one of the most important statements of the entire presentation. There are plenty of other important notes and facts shared throughout the bonus features included in The World Wars. Whether it be those notes and facts, the profiles or the other bonus material included in the package, the bonus features are collectively a final fitting touch to a documentary that is one of the year’s best new documentaries if not the best of the year.

The bonus material included in The World Wars by themselves are impressive in their own right. They offer their own depth and enjoyment for any military history buff or history buff in general. Along with the content of the primary presentation, and the footage and re-enactments, the bonus material included in the package makes the entire presentation that is The World Wars complete. Collectively, everything noted here proves that its various reality TV series aside, History Channel does in fact still offer quality content worthy of being called one of the year’s best new documentaries if not the year’s best new documentary. The World Wars is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from History Channel’s online store at http://shop.history.com/the-world-wars-blu-ray/detail.php?p=567846&v=history_show_world-wars. More information on this and other History Channel programs is available online at http://www.facebook.com/History. 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.

Peace At All Costs Is Well Worth The Cost

Courtesy:  Century Media Records/Another Century

Courtesy: Century Media Records/Another Century

Las Vegas, NV-based hard rock band Otherwise surprised a lot of people in 2012 when it released its Century Media Records debut album True Love Never Dies. The album was such a surprise among audiences because like label mate Girl On Fire, Fozzy, and Adrenaline Mob, the band’s more mainstream sound wasn’t exactly within the mold of the bands that have made Century Media one of the leading labels in hard rock and metal. That album was met with relatively positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. Now two years later, Century Media has responded to the success of that album by releasing the band’s new release (it’s second for the label and third overall) on its fledgling label Another Century. The new label is the sister label of sorts to Century Media. It serves to focus on the likes of Otherwise and its previously noted label mates. Audiences will agree in hearing Otherwise’s new album Peace at all Costs that the re-assignment of sorts to Century Media’s new label is quite the well-deserved vote of confidence in the band. Peace at all Costs takes the melodic hard rock sound established on the band’s Century Media debut and has built on that sound here, musically speaking. Lyrically, the band covers a range of topics, too. From personal relationships to overcoming one’s own personal demons, and points in between, the album’s lyrical content makes the album just as solid of a listen for fans new and old alike.

Otherwise covers a number of topics throughout the course of its new album. The most prominent topic covered across the album is that of personal relationships. Most of the album’s songs that center on personal relationships deal mainly in the issue of broken relationships as is evident in the album’s first full length song, the aptly titled ‘Love & War.’ The song is a full throttle fist pumper that will have audiences singing along from start to finish. The dual guitar attack from Ryan Patrick and Andrew Pugh set against Corky Gainsford’s drumming provides the song with so much of a punch. The song’s infectious chorus of “Love and war/It’s all the same to me/No use fighting/Lie some more/It’s all I ever need/So why you hiding/Love and war/It’s all the same to me presents a situation to which so many people can relate. The manner in which it was written is especially because it doesn’t necessarily specify if this is being sung from the standpoint of a man or woman. And the sarcasm in front man Adrian Patrick’s voice as he sings, “Lie to me/It’s all I ever need” is perfectly clear. It makes the chorus in whole all the more powerful of a statement. The talent of Patricks’ band mates not only in the song’s chorus but throughout makes the song in whole a solid re-introduction for the band’s older fans and an equally solid first impression for those that might be new to the band’s body of work.

Otherwise could not have possibly opened its new album in a better way than with the aggressive, seemingly relationship based song ‘Love & War.’ Rather than take the standard oh-woe-is-me approach to the issue of a troubled and/or broken relationship, the band takes the polar opposite approach to such a topic, making for a song that deserves consideration as another single to promote the record. The topic of relationships is not the only topic tackled on Peace at all Costs. The band also offers its listeners some music therapy of sorts in the pummeling ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne).’ Just as ‘Love & War’ could be used as a single, so could this song. It could be used as a single as both its musical and lyrical content will have audiences singing proudly along, horns high in the air. It comes across as a song promoting self-empowerment. [Adrian] Patrick sings in this song, “Hey kid/Who you fightin’/Fight yourself so you can stand united/With the voices that are screamin’ loud inside your head/Hey kid/Get it together/Every second doesn’t last forever/You could be the president/Or you could end up dead/Take control of the monster inside of you/Focus the rage/All the answers are right there in front of you/Just turn the page/Wake up/When you’re burning inside/And everybody’s gone and lost their faith in you/Wake up/You’d better open your eyes/Look around/’Cause there’s so much love to lose/Heavy is the heart of the one who walks alone/Let ‘em know that you’re comin’ for the throne!” The song’s second verse carries just as much power and is just as infectious. It goes without saying that this song is one of the best additions to this album. Sure, Patrick sings, “Hey, kid” in the song’s versus, seemingly singing to younger listeners. It would make sense. But even older audiences can take something from this song as even adults struggle with feelings of self-loathing, depression, etc. So there is a value even to those audiences. Add in an infectious chorus and some really pummeling guitar riffs and audiences get in this song a work that is one of the highest of highs throughout the album.

‘Love & War’ and ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne)’ are both prime examples of what makes Peace at all Costs such an impressive new effort from Otherwise. One song tackles the standard relationship fare that is prevalent on so many records from so many genres. What sets the song apart from those other works is it doesn’t take the standard oh-woe-is-me approach to the topic. It takes that road less traveled. And the empowering, almost anthemic ‘Wake Up (Coming for the Throne)’ is certain to become a fan favorite thanks to its combination of hard rocking music and equally powerful lyrics. Both songs are sure to have audiences talking for both their musical and lyrical content both by themselves and as whole works. There is at least one more song among the album’s fourteen total tracks and forty-five-minute run time that will have audiences talking for a wholly different reason. That song comes late in the album in the form of ‘For The Fallen Ones.’ Patrick and his band mates sing in the song’s chorus, “Raise your glass/For the fallen ones,” leading listeners to think that perhaps the song is a tribute to America’s men and women in uniform. However, the song’s verses paint a somewhat different picture. Patrick sings in the song’s second verse, “Now nothing feels the same/Picking up the pieces/ Color in the secrets/And I don’t feel ashamed/Now that I am older/Another fallen soldier.” It’s tough to figure out if Patrick is using the soldier as a metaphor or if he is directly mentioning a soldier. A look at the song’s opening verse leaves one wondering scratching one’s head, but not in a bad way. Patrick sings in the song’s opening verse, “I don’t need to blame/The scent of my father/The scars of my mother/For the beast that I became/Now I shine the light on my sisters and my brothers/It’s all I needed/To feel alive/We’ll never have to say goodbye.” One could see how this song would be in reference to America’s military personnel. It could be argued that it’s sung from the vantage point of someone that joined the military and became a better person considering his or her past life in turn. It would be interesting to hear from the band itself the exact meaning behind the song. If it is in fact a tribute to the military personnel past and present that made the ultimate sacrifice, it wouldn’t be the first song from the band to have done so. That’s not a bad thing, either. Regardless, the very fact that it could generate so much discussion on its topic all while entertaining audiences with its musical side says plenty of why this is another guaranteed hit, regardless of whether or not it is used as a single. And it is one more example of why audiences will enjoy Peace at all Costs whether they are new to the band’s work or are more seasoned fans.

Peace at all Costs boasts a total of fourteen tracks. Interestingly enough, the album in whole comes in at less than an hour long. To be exact, its total run time (TRT for any media people out there) is roughly forty-five minutes. That’s a shocker to be honest. One would think fourteen tracks would equal out to a much longer run time. That aside, audiences that pick up this latest effort from Otherwise will agree that each of those tracks offers something that every listener will appreciate. The songs noted here are just a few examples of what makes the album work as well as it does. They are this critic’s own personal favorites from the whole thing. Audiences can pick up the album and pick out their own favorites now as the album was officially released yesterday in stores and online. It can be ordered via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/otherwise/id164633854 and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Otherwise/e/B001LHTTN0. Audiences can also pick up Peace at all Costs at any of the band’s live shows as the band is currently touring in support of its new album. It is playing a trio of dates in Wisconsin this week today through Friday before making its way to Michigan Sunday and Indiana next Monday and Tuesday, September 22nd and 24th. Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule and keep up with all of the latest updates from the band online at

Website: http://www.weareotherwise.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/otherwiseofficial
Twitter: http://twitter.com/wearetherwise

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