All That Remains Announces Release Date For New Album

Photo Credit:  Justin Borucki

Photo Credit: Justin Borucki

All That Remains don’t have long to wait for the band’s new album.

The band recently announced that The Order of Things, its seventh full-length studio recording, will be released February 24th via Razor & Tie Records. Audiences can get a hint of what’s to come right now as the band has leaked one of the album’s songs online already. Fans can check out ‘No Knock’ online now via the band’s official website. The band has tapped Josh Wilbur to man the boards for this record. Having Wilbur on board to produce the record means that most of the recording process will take place in Massachusetts, while the fine tuning will be done in Los Angeles. Wilbur’s credits include albums from the likes of Lamb of God, Gojira, and Hatebreed.

ATR’s most recent album was 2012’s A War You Cannot Win. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard Top 200. It garnered two hit singles–‘Stand Up’ and ‘What If I Was Nothing.’ ‘Stand Up’ made its way to the #1 spot on the Active Rock radio chart. That was a first for the band. ‘What If I Was Nothing’ was close behind, making its way all the way to the #2 spot on the same chart.

Pre-orders for The Order of Things will be available soon as will announcements regarding tour dates and more new music from the album. Audiences can keep up with all of that online at:

Website: http://www.allthatremainsonline.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/allthatremains

Twitter: http://twitter.com/atrhq

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.

Parents, Children Alike Will Love “Love Bug”

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records/Shoreline Records

Veteran children’s entertainer Raffi has been one of the most well-known and respected artists within both his genre and the music industry in whole for near four decades. He has of course also been the butt of some jokes here and there. The reason for both of these scenarios is actually a good one. The reason in question is that throughout the course of his career, Raffi (whose real name is Raffi Cavoukian) has constantly re-invented his sound on every one of his records. His latest release Love Bug is no exception to that rule. Love Bug presents a decidedly country/folk sound throughout the course of its sixteen songs. Though later in the album’s run, Raffi also includes a fun little reggae style piece in ‘Cool Down Reggae’ and a somewhat gospel-tinged piece in the album’s bonus closer ‘Turn This World Around.’ This is an especially enjoyable piece because a close listen reveals a comparison to Peter Gabriel’s anti-apartheid song ‘Biko.’ Given, the stylistic and lyrical similarities might not have been entirely intentional. But they are there. And they are welcome, too. They make the song one of the album’s best pieces if not the best of the album’s available selections. Along with the likes of ‘Cool Down Reggae,’ the short but still fun instrumental Pete’s Banjo,’ and the album’s other songs not noted here, this record proves once again why Raffi is still one of the music industry’s most respected artists to this day.

Raffi has remained one of the top names in both children’s music and the music industry in whole for nearly four decades. The reason being that he has constantly re-invented his sound on every one of his new studio releases. Love Bug, his latest full-length studio effort, is no exception to that rule. The album is dominated largely by a country/folk sound. While that country/folk sound is the album’s most prominent sound, he also branches out some and includes a reggae piece in the aptly titled ‘Cool Down Reggae.’ This piece is a complete change of pace from the rest of the songs that make up the body of Love Bug. This song will have parents and children alike relaxing and jamming along as Raffi sings, “In the rhythm of the jangily day/Time for enjoyment/In the sway of the come and go/So nice to take it slow/With the cool down reggae/Slow down reggae/ Cool down reggae/Slow down reggae.” Even without the steel drums, this song still works and is a welcome change of pace from the rest of the album’s songs. It definitely makes for one of the highest of points on this record. Another of those high points comes in the album’s gospel-tinged closer ‘Turn This World Around.

‘Turn This World Around’ is considered a bonus addition to Love Bug. This means that for all intents and purposes that it is not technically the album’s closer. Regardless of which side one takes on that issue, everyone can agree that it stands out more than any other song included as part of the album’s whole. A close listen to this song reveals a close stylistic similarity to Peter Gabriel’s famed anti-apartheid anthem ‘Biko’ both musically and lyrically. ‘Biko’ is about black anti-apartheid leader Stephen Biko. Biko rose to fame as the head of the Black Consciousness Movement in the 1960s and ‘70s. ‘Turn This World Around’ on the other hand, is not about a specific individual but rather the world needing to make social change for the next generation. While ‘Turn This World Around’ isn’t as anthemic as ‘Biko’ lyrically speaking, it still very much maintains that same social sensibility within its lyrical content. That is noted as Raffi sings, “Honoring the children is what we’re here to do/Now is the hour/And we’ve got the power/To turn, turn, turn/Turn this world around/For the children/Turn this world around.” When he wrote ‘Biko,’ Gabriel had very much the same mindset. He wrote about ending apartheid for the sake of the present and the future. Raffi’s song is broader. But it also discusses making sweeping social changes for the present and future, too. Such a powerful social message coupled with an equally enjoyable musical backing easily makes this song the best moment by far from Love Bug.

‘Turn This World Around’ is the most memorable of moments off of Love Bug. Its mix of social consciousness and equally enjoyable music a la Peter Gabriel is to thank for that. Just as enjoyable for audiences is the laid back sound and vibe of ‘Cool Down Reggae.’ As enjoyable as both sounds are collectively, one would be remiss to omit the obvious country/folk sound that largely dominates this record. And one of the best of those country/folk songs featured in this record is the instrumental ‘Pete’s Banjo.’ This song boasts a fun, old school Appalachian style sound that will have children and their parents dancing together with its simple banjo picking and fiddle playing. It conjures thoughts of an old mountain country store where people would gather to talk and sometimes even dance. And even at only two minutes and fourteen seconds long, it is no less enjoyable. If anything, it makes a person yearn for even more of that old mountain sound. There is a little bit more of said sound peppered throughout the record, too. Audiences will hear it for themselves when they pick up this album for themselves or order it online. They will hear that and much more for that matter. In hearing the album in whole, audiences will understand for themselves why after so many decades, Raffi remains more than deserving of being called one of the best in his genre and in the industry in whole.

Love Bug is available in stores and online now. Raffi already has a pair of live dates scheduled for the new year where audiences will get to hear the songs from Love Bug and from Raffi’s rich body of work. He will perform live in Seattle, WA on January 31st at 1pm and in Portland on February 1st.  He has two performance times on that date.  He is scheduled to perform at 1pm and 4pm on that day. Parents can find out when his next live dates are and keep up with all of his latest updates online now at:

Website: http://www.childhonouring.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Raffi.Cavoukian

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The Treatment’s Debut LP Keeps Pace Solidly With Rock’s Big Dogs

Courtesy:  Spinefarm Records

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

The 1980s is one of the most important decades in the history of the music industry.  Disco evolved into New Wave during that decade.  Rap and Hip-Hop started burgeoning during those years, too.  And in the world of rock, audiences were presented with both the New Wave of Heavy Metal (NWOHM), and the rise and fall of the hair metal movement.  While the age of big hair and big rock came and went seemingly in the blink of an eye, it also produced some of the biggest names in the history of rock and metal.  Def Leppard, Poison, Motley Crue, Dokken and others of that ilk dominated radio stations and arenas across the country in that ten-year span.  Motley Crue is officially calling it a career.  The others called it a career years ago.  And while they may be gone, many bands since have shown that they are hardly forgotten, producing record after record that pays homage to said forebears.  Now another act has added its name to that long list of bands keeping the age of big guitar riffs and equally big hair alive in the form of The Treatment.  The five piece from Cambridge, England released its full length deut record Running With The Dogs on indie label Spinefarm Records back in February of this year.  It is a fittingly titled record, too.  That’s because the band, whose members are each in no more than their late teens, stays right with the rest of the pack on its debut.  The band keeps up with other bands of its genre (E.g. Buckcherry, Airbourne) in its debut.  That’s thanks both to its full-throttle, no nonsense rock and roll sound, and its equally old school lyrics.  The combination of the two makes this record a must hear for anyone that  wants a break from the seemingly constant barrage of cookie monster growls and poppy rock songs dominating so much of the rock world today.  Right off the top, front man Matt Jones and his band mates–Dee Dammers (guitar), Tagore Grey (Guitar), Dhani Mansworth (drums), and Rick “Swoggle” Newman (bass)–show that they mean business in the album’s opener ‘I Bleed Rock N’ Roll.’  This song is classic rock and roll all the way around and will have audiences instantly rocking and singing along.  By and large, the band keeps things moving throughout the record, slowing only once in the album’s penultimate acoustic opus ‘Unchain My World.’  Even being an acoustic piece, it harkens back to the acoustic ballads of Poison and other big hair bands from the 80s.  And what rock record is complete without an up-tempo piece about a female figure that all the guys want?  It’s there, too in the form of ‘She’s Too Much.’    These three songs are each enjoyable in their own right for anyone nostalgic for real  rock and roll.  Along with the other ten songs that make up this album, the whole thing proves to be a record that any old school rock and roll fan will enjoy.

The Treatment’s debut album Running With The Dogs is an aptly titled collection of songs.  The band’s members show exactly why right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll.’  Musically speaking, this song instantly shows influences from veteran rock acts the likes of AC/DC and Motley Crue.  Drummer Dhani Mansworth’s solid 4/4 time set against the dual guitar attack of Dee Dammers and Tagore Grey instantly gets the body and the blood moving.  The duo’s old school shredding and harmonies will transport audiences back to rock’s era of big riffs and even bigger hair.  Front man Matt Jones’ vocal styling adds to that musical trip back in time even more.  It’s incredible how much Jones’ vocal style soudns so much like Motley Crue front man Vince Neil.  Lyrically, the song is just as much of an homage to rock’s “biggest” era with the band singing in the song’s chorus, “I live rock and roll/It’s my destiny/All I bleed is rock and roll.  the message is clear and simple not just here but in the song’s verses, too.  That simplicity and clarity of the song’s lyrics couple with its musical side to make this song the perfect opener for the band.  To another extent, that it finishes in such bombastic fashion makes it an equally fitting closer both on the album and in a live setting.  It’s just one of so many of the album’s opuses that shows what makes it a pure rock record well worth the listen.

It goes without saying that The Treatment chose the right song in ‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ to open its debut full-length record.  Interestingly enough, that same song would work just as much as a closer for the band as the album’s closer and even as a show closer in a live setting.  The energy exuded by the band in this song is carried throughout every one of the songs that follow it right up to the album’s penultimate piece ‘Unchain My World.’  This acoustic ballad is just as much a throwback to the 80s as the album’s opener and any other song on this record.  Stylistically, listeners will instantly be able to make comparisons between this song and the ballads churned out by veteran rock bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, and even Mr. Big just to name a few.  This applies to the song both musically and lyrically.  The comparison to Mr. Big comes especially in the song’s chorus as the band sings “Unchain my world/Cause you’re all I’ve really got.”  Musically, one could even mistake the song for one of Mr. Big’s biggest hits of all time if one were listening to this song not knowing it was said band.  The song’s verses highlight that comparison, too with Jones singing how much a certain love interest has changed the subject’s life.  He sings of said subject’s view of the love interest, “I’m still fascinated/How deep inside I feel so incomplete/Indiscreet.”  Just as with the album’s opener, that mix of music and lyrics is just as certain to take audiences back to what is perhaps one of rock’s most underrated eras.

‘I Bleed Rock and Roll’ and ‘Unchain My World’ are both prime examples of the old school 80s influence presented on The Treatment’s debut full-length album.  Any old school rock and roll aficionado will appreciate thanks to that direct influence.  They aren’t the only good examples of that influence and enjoyment on this record, either.  The blues-based rocker that is ‘She’s Too Much’ is another great example of that influence and enjoyment.  It’s not as up-tempo as some of the album’s other songs.  But it leaves no one guessing in regards to its lyrical content.  It is presented very much in the vein of AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  Jones sings over the bluesy riffs of his band mates, “She’s too much/Everything is not enough/She’s too much/Better load your gun boys/Take aim/Now fire.”  The song is thankfully not a direct mirror image of ‘Whole Lotta Rosie.’  But the blues-based rock sound churned out by Dammers and Grey definitely makes the comparison easy and not in a bad way, either.  Again in a time when so much of the rock and even hard rock world is dominated by cookie monster growls and crunching, down-tuned guitars, such a comparison is especially welcome considering that The Treatment has taken an influence as respected as AC/DC and crafted its own equally fun rock song.  It’s just one more of the thirteen total songs on this record that classic rock buffs will enjoy.

The songs noted here are each good examples of just what makes The Treatment’s debut album Running WithThe Dogs one more album released this year proving that contrary to Gene Simmons’ own views, rock and roll is not dead.  Nor is it even in the hospital so to speak.  It proves that rock and roll is alive and well.  It takes audiences back to an era when rock and roll was indeed rock and roll; an era when rock and roll was truly fun.  European audiences will agree with that sentiment when they see the band live on its current European tour.  Audiences will get to hear the band live when it rolls into Rotterdam, Netherlands next Thursday, November 27th, Paris, France next Friday, and Brussels, Belgium next Saturday, November 29th.  Audiences can pick up the band’s CD at those shows and each show after.  Whether in Europe or in the United States, audiences can pick up Running With The Dogs in stores or online now.  Fans can keep up with the band’s current tour schedule and all of its latest updates online now at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheTreatmentOfficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheTreatmentUK

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.

Royal Blood Joining Foo Fighters For Band’s 2015 North American Tour

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Records

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Records

Foo Fighters announced the schedule for its upcoming worldwide tour this week. The tour, which kicks off Wednesday, December 10th in Cape Town, South Africa, is in support of the band’s new album Sonic Highways. The European leg of the band’s tour runs through June 23rd, 2015. The North American leg of the band’s tour kicks off July 4th, 2015 at RFK Stadium in the nation’s capital. That performance is followed by twenty-six more dates that will take the band across America throughout the remainder of the summer. British rock duo Royal Blood will join Foo Fighters for a number of those dates beginning July 6th in Camden, New Jersey. That is the second date on the North American leg of Foo Fighters’ tour in support of Sonic Highways. Of the twenty-six dates set for Foo Fighters’ North American tour, Royal Blood will join Foo Fighters for eleven dates from July 6th to August 25th.

Before Royal Blood hits the road with Foo Fighters, the duo—Michael Kerr (bass/vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums)—it will wrap up its own current slate of headlining dates in support of its self-titled Warner Brothers Records debut album. That album was released August 25th, 2014. Box office-only pre-sales for Royal Blood’s dates with Foo Fighters begin this Saturday, November 22nd. All price levels are subject to availability. Online pre-sales begin Monday, December 1st. Public ticket sales will run Thursday December 4th and 5th. Royal Blood’s latest schedule of live dates is listed below.

ROYAL BLOOD NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES

December 1 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL

December 3 – The Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA

December 5 – War Memorial Auditorium – Nashville, TN

December 6 – Juanita’s Cantina – Little Rock, AR

December 7 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK

December 9 – Seattle Center – Key Arena – Seattle, WA

July 6 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ*

July 9 – Molson Canadian Amphitheater – Toronto, ON*

July 16 – Citi Field – New York, NY*

July 19 – Fenway Park – Boston, MA*

August 12 – Rexall Place – Edmonton, AB*

August 13 – Scotiabank Saddledome – Calgary, AB*

August 17 – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater – Denver, CO*

August 19 – Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre – Maryland Heights, MO*

August 22 – Xcel Energy Center – St. Paul, MN*

August 24 – DTE Energy Center – Detroit, MI*

August 25 – First Niagra Pavilion – Pittsburgh, PA*

 

Royal Blood was released August 25th on Warner Brothers Records. It debuted at Number 1 on the UK Album Chart and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The Mercury Prize is awarded to the best new records from the U.K. and Ireland each year. One album is awarded the prize each year from a list of twelve albums nominated for the award. The albums in question come from every genre of music. More information on Royal Blood is available online at:

 

Website: http://royalbloodband.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RoyalBloodUK

Twitter: http://twitter.com/royalblooduk

 

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.

Rolling Stones’ Second “From The Vault” Recording Leaves Audiences Wanting More In The Best Way Possible

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  Over the course of the band members’ now fifty-two years together, they have released some twenty-two albums and seemingly just as many greatest hits compilations.  The band has also released its own share of live recordings along the way, too.  The most recent of those live recordings is 2013’s Sweet Summer SunHyde Park Live.  That recording is one of the band’s best live recordings to date if not the best to date.  That recording was released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, the same company responsible for the release of the band’s archived 1981 Chicago show Live at the Checkerboard Lounge in 2012 and a handful of other recordings that followed.  2014 has been no different for Stones fans as Eagle Rock released two more archived live concerts from the band early this month.  One of those recordings takes audiences back to the band’s 1981 performance at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  The second takes audiences even farther back, going all the way back to 1975 and the band’s performance that year at the famed Forum in Los Angeles.  There is just as much to enjoy about the Stones’ 1981 show in Hampton, Virginia as there is about its companion concert from the band’s ’81 show in Virginia.  The most obvious of the show’s positives is its set list.  Many of the songs that are presented in this show are also presented in the band’s ’81 show.  The difference between the two shows’ set lists is that there is far less of the slower stuff in this show than in its companion recording.  Another great reason to check this concert is the band’s stage presence and its overall stage show.  And last but hardly least of all worth noting is the show’s collective production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Taking into account the recording technology of the day, the audio quality is rather impressive.  And the video mix isn’t that bad, either.  It does serve to show how much recording tech has advanced since this concert’s recording.  That is not to take away from the importance of the recording’s companion booklet, either.  Even the companion booklet serves its own purpose in the concert’s overall presentation.  All things considered, From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 proves to be one more reason that The Rolling Stones is considered to still be one of rock’s elite acts and why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings to this day.

The members of The Rolling Stones have been making music together for well over half a century.  While so many other bands have gone by the wayside in that time, Mick Jagger and company have remained one of rock’s elite acts.  Eagle Rock Entertainment has more than proven why in recent years why exactly The Rolling Stones is still one of the music world’s top acts with each one of its archived Stones concerts.  From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is no exception to that standard established by Eagle Rock so many years ago.  The most obvious way that it shows this is through the concert’s set list.  The band was not touring in support of any new release at the time of this performance.  As audiences will learn in the recording’s companion booklet, the band was roughly a year removed from the release of its most recent release at the time, It’s Only Rock and Roll (1974).  That album was the band’s fourteenth (yes, fourteenth) U.S. release and twelfth for the band’s fans in the U.K.  That was over the course of eleven years since the release of the band’s delf-titled U.K. debut and U.S. debut England’s Newest Hit Makers.  That means that even without a “new” album to tour behind, Mick and company still had more than their share of material with which to entertain audiences.  And they did just that, pulling from that album and going even farther back in the band’s catalogue all the way back to the band’s earliest days.  It would be interesting to see if there is a band out there today that has as much material under its collective belt today.  Most of today’s music acts regardless of genre only have on average three albums to their names  after ten years.  So that’s really saying something in the case of this recording and for the band’s creativity.  In all, the set list for this show totals twenty-six songs and well over two and a half hours.  That is a lot of music and a lot of enjoyment for Rolling Stones fan of any age.  It’s just one of so many ways in which this recording proves to be another welcome addition to said fans’ personal collections.  The band’s stage presence throughout the course of those nearly three hours is another way in which it proves this argument.

The band’s stage presence over the course of its nearly three hour performance at the Forum is definitely worth noting.  The companion booklet that comes with the concert notes that this concert was not the first for the band that night.  It was the fourth of five shows in a row at the Forum that the band held between July 9th and July 13th.  One would think that having performed three shows before this one and having one more to go, the band’s members would have been exhausted and perhaps saving their energy.  But that certainly isn’t the case here.  Jagger and his band mates kept the energy high and in turn, the audience in house fully engaged from start to finish.  Adding to the interest of the band’s stage presence is the fact that these shows marked part of the band’s first tour with then new guitarist Ronnie Wood.  The cemistry between Wood and the rest of the band was quite obvious throughout the course of the show.  It definitely went a long way toward making the show more enjoyable both for the band and the audience in attendance that night.  It does just as much for audiences that purchase this recording today and watch it themselves.  Audiences will especially understand this when they purchase the concert’s DVD recording.  In seeing that energy and chemistry, audiences will agree that the band’s stage presence throughout the course of its nearly three-hour show is one more way in which it proves to be another welcome addition to any Rolling Stones fan’s personal collection.

The set list and the stage presence of The Rolling Stones throughout the course of From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 both serve as prime examples of why every Rolling Stones fan will enjoy this recording.  One more important factorto consider in the recording’s overall presentation is its production values (I.E. audio and video mix).  Nearly four decades have passed since this performance was first recorded.  It goes without saying that since that time, recording technology has evolved by leaps and bounds.  Even with the tech available at the time of the concert’s recording, it still looks and sounds relatively good.  The sound quality is especially impressive considering the size of The Forum within its walls.  The shots that made up the concert do an impressive job in their own right showing just how expansive The Forum’s inner workings were at the time.  That vastness coupled with the band’s stage set explain by themselves why so few of the shots were taken up close but rather from a distance.  Even being taken from a distance, the shots in question still give audiences a clear view of the band when not recorded from the stage.  The combination of the audio and video together make the overall viewing experience even more worth it for fans regardless of their age.

The production values presented in From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 alongside the recording’s set list and the band’s stage presence collectively make the recording more than worth the watch regardless of audiences’ ages.  As much of a role as they play, one would be remiss to note the recording’s companion booklet as an important factor to the whole experience.  The companion booklet that comes with the cocnert’s DVD presentation offers audiences a thorough look at the concert from start to finish, much as with the band’s other archived live performance from 1981 at Virginia’s Hampton Coliseum.  It even goes into detail on the band’s backing musicians instead of just the band itself.  As if this isn’t enough the companion booklet includes an equally thorough summary on the evening’s concert once again written up by Richard Havers.  Havers composed the liner notes for the band’s other From The Vault concert from 1981.  This in-depth look at this concert plays directly into the aforementioned factors to make it just as important to the whole as them.  Together with those aspects, it completes the experience and proves ultimately again why The Rolling Stones is one of rock’s elite acts.  Having so much content and such a quality overall experience, it also shows once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leader in live recordings.

From The VaultThe Rolling StonesL.A. Forum Live in 1975 is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

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.

Zodiac’s “Sonic Child” Is Another One Of 2014’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Pure Rock Records

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

When Prosthetic Records added Zodiac to its roster two years ago, it went without saying that doing so was something of a gamble for the label.  It was such a gamble because much like Century Media, Metal Blade, Roadrunner, and others, Prosthetic is known more for the “extreme metal” bands that make up its roster than for the likes of the Munster, Germany-based band.  That’s not to say that Prosthetic sticks primarily to that more extreme sound.  Acts such as Niacin and Felix Martin both stand out among Prosthetic’s other acts.  Zodiac however has become the label’s most commercially viable band since Lamb of God was signed on with the company.  Zodiac’s mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock has helped the band to stand out among its label mates ever since the release of its 2012 Prosthetic Records debut A Bit of Devil.  Now with its third full-length studio effort, Zodiac has one again set itself apart from its label mates and grown just as much musically.  From the slow blues-based opener ‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ to the more up-tempo neo stoner rocker that is ‘Holding On’ to the equally catchy closer ‘Swinging on the Run,’ this record proves to have not one bad moment.  It proves to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Sonc Child, Zodiac’s third full-length studio effort, is by and large the band’s best work to date.  With its mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock sounds, this record proves to be one that every rock purist should hear at least once.  Right off the top, the band grabs listeners without really trying in the album’s opener ‘A Penny and a Dead Horse.’  The twelve-bar blues churned out in the song’s “A” section conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and so many of the forefathers of the blues.  Anyone that is a fan of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry, and other bands of that ilk will enjoy the more straight forward neo-stoner rock sound of the song’s “B” and “C” sections.  Lyrically, the song is just as enjoyable.  Vocalist Nick van Delft sings about an unnamed woman that has left a man, and left him with basically nothing.  Thus the song’s title.  van Delft sings of the woman, “Oh, woman/Where have you gone with that/Pot of gold/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/You had to leave me/Before the break of dawn/Somebody been haunting you/Somebody run you down/Over the yonder/Beyond the fields/Someone call your name/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/Sweet darlin’/You left me to die alone/With a penny and a dead horse.”  van Delft paints such a vivid picture thanks to the way in which he sings these lines.  The gradual tempo increase as the song progresses makes that picture just as vivid.  The picture goes from a man sitting alone in the darkness, perhaps drinking from a bottle of cheap whiskey to someone who feels something stronger as he and his band mates sing, “So long, so long” in the chorus.  The song’s final strains exhibit perhaps the man’s collapse.  This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation on the song.  Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now at the Prosthetic Records website at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  While there, audiences can also order Sonic Child, which was just recently released at the end of September.

‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ is a wonderful addition to Sonic Child. It is also just one excellent example of what makes this album such a surprisingly enjoyable record.  ‘Holding On’ is another solid example of why this record proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable rock record.  Where the album’s opener almost tells its own story, ‘Holding On’ is more of a straight-forward rock song.  It harkens back to rock and roll’s golden era much like Black Stone Cherry, Fireball Ministry, and others of that ilk.  van Delft sings against drummer Janosch Rathmer’s solid timekeeping and fellow guitarist Stephen Gall’s own work, “What is the point of your life/Your life/All covered up in those eyes/Those eyes/So now free mind/You’re one of a kind/Take a hold of the good things/And give sight to the blind/Tell me the one thing you see/Tell me the one thing you know/Show me the one thing you live for/Holding on.”  This set against the song’s opening verse in which van Delft sings, “Time keeps on ticking/Revealing your patience/It’s only a matter of self-defense/Eager to please/Your only disease/It’s just the weight on your mind/A day of your life/A step on your way to return” makes the song especially interesting.  There is a seeming message about each one of us having a meaning in life and it being just a matter of finding that meaning.  Again, that could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is right, though.  Regardless, the very fact that it could lead to such deep thought serves to make this song all the more enjoyable.  The guitar solo in the song’s final movement adds even more enjoyment to the whole work.  Between that impressive guitar work, the deep, thoughtful lyrics and the overall talent displayed here, ‘Holding On’ shows again why any rock and roll purist should give this record at least one listen.

Zodiac shows throughout the course of its latest full-length release why this record is just as good as any album released by its bigger-named counterparts.  That is evidenced in the songs previously noted here.  From its more blues-tinged rock to its more neo-stoner sound, there is not one moment that disappoints on this record.  There is almost something of a more modern rock and roll influence in the album’s closer ‘Swinging on the Run.’  Much like the album’s opener and other tracks on this disc, ‘Swinging on the Run’ is not one for anyone with a short attention span.  This track clocks in at just over six minutes.  It’s not the album’s longest work.  that honor belongs to the aptly titled ‘Rock Bottom Blues.’  That song comes in at just over the nine minute mark.  And anyone that is a fan of the likes of The Allman Brothers Band will especially enjoy this piece with its smoky, old school blues-rock sound.  Getting back to ‘Swinging on the Run,’ audiences can clearly hear influences from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, and so many others that have come before as the song progresses.  It shows a good song doesn’t necessarily always need lyrics to be enjoyable.  that being the case, it makes perfect sense why it was chosen as the band’s final statement on this record.  It leaves audiences knowing that they have experienced something very special.  It leaves listeners knowing that along with those tracks noted here, and the remaining seven not noted, they have in Sonic Child an album that is just as deserving of respect from rock purists as any album released by the band’s more well-known counterparts.  And given the right support from listeners and radio programmers alike, it could become just as big a record as those released by said bands.

Sonic Child is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Prosthetic Records online store at http://store.prostheticrecords.com/products/531769-zodiac-sonic-child-cd.  More information on Sonic Child and all of the latest updates from Zodiac is available online at:

Website: http://www.zodiac-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Zodiac.Rock

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.

PBS Celebrates Four Decades Of ACL With Special Anniversary Concert

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ Austin City Limits hit a major milestone this year.  The network’s hit music series celebrated forty-years with PBS.  In celebration, PBS is releasing a special DVD celebrating the long-running series next month.

PBS will release Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years on Tuesday, December 2nd.  Austin City Limits’ four-decade long run on PBS is especially important to both the network and to music lovers alike.  In the four decades that Austin City Limits has been on PBS, it remains the only TV series to be awarded the Medal of Arts.  Also in that time, MTV’s Unplugged and VH1’s Storytellers have gone by the wayside.  And even CMT’s on Crossroads series has failed to maintain the stability and reputation of ACL.  Throughout its now forty-years on television, ACL has seen and continues to see some of the industry’s biggest names take to the stage.  Those names include the likes of Elvis Costello, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, and so many others.  Many more names are sure to be added to that list as there appears to be no end to this landmark series.

In honor of the series’ fortieth anniversary, many of those same big names have come on board for this celebratory concert.  Bonnie Raitt joins Jimmie Vaughan, Gary Clark, Jr and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes for a performance of the Sam & Dave classic ‘Wrap It Up’ to open the concert.  Howard returns later in the show alongside Gary Clark, Jr. for a special performance.  Willie Nelson, the red-headed stranger himself, joins Emmylou Harris for a performance of Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’  Singer/actor Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow team up for a performance of Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.  Foo Fighters even make an appearance to perform Roky Erickson’s ‘Two-Headed Dog.’  That performance was recorded at the original ACL television studio especially for the concert.  Actor Jeff Bridges hosts the night’s festivities.  He also performs a special rendition of ‘What A Little Bit Of Love Can Do’ from the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton.  Bruton was a big influence on Bridges’ Oscar-winning role in the movie ‘Crazy Heart.’  As if all of this isn’t enough, Joe Ely and fellow local legend Robert Earl Keen make an appearance.  Blues legend Buddy Guy rounds out the show with a performance of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’  And finishing off the whole thing is a star-studded tribute to Buddy Holly and the one and only Stevie Ray Vaughan.  A who’s who of guitarists performs Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’ and SRV’s ‘Texas Flood’ for the night’s biggest finish.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped live at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater and the show’s original studio, Austin PBS affiliate KLRU’s Studio 6A.  The complete list of performers is: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.

Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years will be available Tuesday, December 2nd.  It will retail for MSRP of $24.99.  It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=50214636&cp=&sr=1&kw=austin+city+limits&origkw=Austin+City+Limits&parentPage=search.  More information on Austin City Limits is available online at

Website: http://acltv.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/austincitylimitstv

Twitter: http://twitter.com/acltv

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.