Dragonforce’s New LP More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Euro-metal band Dragonforce released its latest album to American audiences this week.  Maximum Overload, the band’s sixth full length studio effort, is an aptly titled record.  That is because the album pushes the envelope of power metal from start to finish on this album.  From the album’s pummeling opening number ‘The Game’ to the full throttle ‘Defenders’ to the album’s equally nonstop pounding instrumental closer ‘Galactic Astro Domination,’ the members of Dragonforce leave listeners breathless by the album’s end.’  Listeners will agree that by the time the album finally ends—it runs a total of fifteen tracks and just over an hour—they have on their hands some of the best work that the band has crafted to date.

Dragonforce wastes no time getting things moving on its new album.  The band opens the album at breakneck speed in ‘The Game.’  The song initially comes across as being rather nihilistic.  But the reality of the song is that it is in fact a song that presents hope through all of the negativity in the world.  New front man Marc Hudson starts out singing of life’s difficulties, “Messed up once again/Told me it’s okay/But this path that I’m taking/I’m lost in the deep end…I tried/So hard/To reach for the stars/But I failed you all/Tried to keep standing tall/Never had a real chance at all/But I’m still searching.  That final line in which Hudson states “But I’m still searching” is a hint at the ability of the song’s subject to keep pushing on somehow despite so many negative thoughts.  That mix of emotions and strained thoughts continues late in the song as Hudson sings, “Ten thousand ways to say sorry/But life writes its own tragic story/Time marches onwards and nothing can ever be the same/But we’ll pray for a brighter tomorrow/Break free from this lifetime of sorrow/Years pass us by/But we’re all just a part of the game.”  In its own way, the song is presenting an image of someone pushing on through everything despite what seems like a battle with his or her own personal emotional demons.  Said figure won’t let those negative emotions take over no matter how many years pass.  This is just one critic’s own take on this song.  So it could very well be wrong.  If it is in fact incorrect, then apologies go out to the members of Dragonforce for the misinterpretation.  But it certainly seems to present that message of determination through the toughest of emotional odds.  That seeming positive lyrical message set alongside the pummeling dual guitar attack from Herman Li and Sam Totman, and drummer Gee Anzalone’s machine gun-like drumming makes even clearer why this song was chosen to open Maximum Overload.  The band doesn’t stop here, either.  Rather, it keeps the energy flowing well into the red and beyond right into the album’s midpoint, ‘Defenders.’

The seeming positive lyrical message presented by Dragonforce in Maximum Overload’s opener is echoed even more clearly as the album reaches its midpoint, ‘Defenders.’  Hudson sings in this song that there are those in this world that will try to bring others down.  But one can’t let those people win.  He sings of those people, “Life’s uncertain/A rat race of pain/Endlessly searching for more/Hopeless and aimless/Held back by the chains/Until we can’t take anymore.”  For all of the obstacles in life—both physical and emotional—Hudson reminds listeners that they should not give in or give up.  He goes on to sing, “Hold on/Stay strong/Breaking out from a past life fading/No more/What for/All we got is to keep on praying/Wait for their downfall/Their lives in dismay/Witness the final decay/Suffering in silence/For years we were blind/But now we got something to say.”  It’s almost as if Hudson is saying to the band’s audiences to let life’s obstacles destroy themselves whether they be other people or some other obstacle.  As with the album’s opener, the band keeps the energy going full throttle in this song.  That energy serves to make the song even more hard hitting and even more of a valuable addition to the album in whole.

The members of Dragonforce show time and again throughout the course of Maximum Overload their high level of talent. That is clearly evident in the songs already noted here. The album’s closer, ‘Galactic Astro Domination,’ more than exhibits that talent, though. Anyone that is familiar with the work of Dragonforce’s American counterparts in Powerglove will agree that Dragonforce takes the similar sound crafted by that band and ups it by a factor of at least one hundred in this full-on instrumental attack. And considering the nonstop adrenaline rush experienced throughout the songs that precede this one, it makes for a fitting final statement from Dragonforce on its new album. Whether it be for this full throttle finale, the other pieces noted or those equally driving pieces not noted here, fans of Dragonforce will find plenty of positives throughout this latest release from start to finish. Those fans will likely also find this album playing in their CD players and MP3 players quite a bit as a result.

Maximum Overload is available in stores and online now. It can also be purchased at any of the concerts on the band’s upcoming European tour. That tour will kick off Wednesday, September 17th at the Liquid Room in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. It runs through February 1st, 2015 in Brussels, Belgium. The band’s current tour schedule, news, and latest updates are all available online now at http://www.metalblade.com/dragonforce, http://www.facebook.com/dragonforce, and http://twitter.com/dragonforcehq. 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.

Power Rangers In Space Volume One Is Another Out Of This World Box Set For Every Power Rangers Fan

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands/FOX

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands/FOX

The final chapter in Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise is also one of the franchise’s best installments.  And thanks to the partnership between Saban and Shout! Factory, the first half of that final chapter is finally available on DVD in the form of Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One.  Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One is one of the best of Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise first and foremost because of its writing.  All of the elements that made the Power Rangers franchise so beloved early on in its run are still present.  Making things better is the expansion of the Rangers’ world so to speak.  For the first time ever, the Rangers’ adventures aren’t limited to just Angel Grove and Earth.  There’s even a crossover with Saban’s  short-lived live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in this volume to sweeten the deal.  The episodes’ presentation is just as important to the overall success of this box set as the writing of each episode.  That is also worth noting concerning this box set.  And last but not least is the set’s packaging.  As with Shout! Factory’s previous Power Rangers box sets, this set has also been packaged in a manner that saves space on audiences’ racks.  All things considered, Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One proves in the end to be one more welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan.

Power Rangers In SpaceVolume One is a welcome addition to any Power Rangers fan’s collection especially if said fan doesn’t already own Shout! Factory’s previously released twenty-one disc megaset containing the full original seven-season Power Rangers run.  The primary reason for this is the writing incorporated into this half of Season Six.  All of the elements that made the franchise’s first five seasons so enjoyable are still present in these episodes including both the life lessons incorporated into each episode and the comic relief on the part of Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy (Bulk and Skull). In “A Ranger Among Thieves,” Andros (and viewers) learn an important lesson about right and wrong and the consequences connected to doing wrong. The season’s two-part premiere incorporates the familiar lesson of teamwork into the story.  These are just a couple of the lessons included in this season.  There are plenty more included across the episodes spread throughout all three of the discs that make up Power Rangers in SpaceVolume One. And those lessons are not all that the show’s long-time fans will appreciate in this latest installment.  Just as welcome, is the inclusion once again of the comic relief from Paul Schrier and Jason Narvy as Bulk and Skull.  Having left behind their short-lived careers as junior police officers and then aids to Detective Bullock at his own private eye office, Bulk and Skull are now assisting a crazy professor in his search for alien life.  The duo’s Laurel & Hardy style comic routines are just as funny as ever this season, and help to lighten the mood anytime that the pair is on screen.  The comic relief provided by Narvy and Schrier does just as much as the lessons taught throughout each episode, leading the two factors collectively to show solidly just why the writing in this half of Season Six continues to be just as impressive as in past seasons of the Power Rangers franchise.

The writing that went into each of the episodes presented in Power Rangers in Space: Volume One is highly important to the success of this latest Power Rangers release.  Just as worth noting is that the episodes presented here are presented exactly as they were in their original broadcast on FOX’s weekday afternoon FOX Kids programming block.  Unlike so many other series that see changes and edits here and there, none of the seasons of Power Rangers released so far by Shout! Factory have seen those edits.  It’s one more reason that Shout! Factory has continued to remain at the forefront of home releases for so long.  Audiences will see for themselves when they purchase this three-disc box set for themselves.

The writing and general presentation of the episodes contained in Power Rangers in Space: Volume One are both of high importance to the set’s success and enjoyment.  The last factor to examine in the success and enjoyment of this set is its packaging.  Just as Shout! Factory has made a tradition of presenting the Power Rangers’ episodes in their entirety, so has Shout! Factory also made a tradition of proper and respectful packaging.  While there are only three discs in this set, each one is placed on its own spindle inside the standard single-disc DVD case.  Two of the discs are placed on either side of a single insert while the third rests on its own spindle on the back of the case.  As with every previous Power Rangers release, this protects the discs from one another, thus preserving them and allowing for enjoyment for quite some time.  It is the final piece of the whole that makes Power Rangers in Space: Volume One a welcome addition overall for any true fan of this landmark franchise.

Power Rangers in Space: Volume One is available now on DVD in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/product/power-rangers-space-vol-1.  More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial and http://www.shoutfactory.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.

The Quiet Ones Proves Low-Budget Horror Flicks Can Be As Scary As Their Big Budget Brothers

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Quiet Ones, the latest horror/thriller from Lionsgate Films, is one of the scariest movies that horror fans will see this year if not the single scariest.  The phrase edge-of-your-seat is tossed around far too often in various film genres.  However in the case of The Quiet Ones, that far too oft term is quite properly used to describe this story.  It will keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish even with the movie coming in at just over an hour and a half.  It all starts with the script.  The script is one that while based on actual events, has crafted a story that successfully creates its own story.  It will leave viewers questioning quite a bit right up to the story’s twist ending.  The script is but one part of what makes The Quiet Ones work.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the story even scarier.  There is something about the cast’s acting that will pull viewers in and at times, even send chills up viewers’ spines, thus leading to the edge-of-your-seat term even more justified here.  Last but hardly least worth noting that makes this movie work now in its home release is the bonus “Making of” documentary.  Much like the far too oft used phrase noted already, “Making of” featurettes hardly ever live up to the expectation of being bonus material.  The “Making of” featurette here only serves to deepen the overall experience and in turn makes the movie even scarier.  These three factors are but the tip of the iceberg that can be noted in what makes The Quiet Ones one of 2014’s scariest movies.  Audiences will find plenty more for themselves when they purchase this movie for themselves.  And when they do, said audiences will themselves be making quite the noise (yes, bad pun intended) about The Quiet Ones.

So much can be said of the script behind The Quiet Ones.  This script isn’t just another one of those run-of-the-mill, over-the-top slasher flicks or even just another ghost story.  The movie’s script writers have crafted in this piece a story that combines an absolutely terrifying tale of the occult with an unexpected human drama, both of which combine to make a story that will leave even the hardest of unbelievers questioning what they believe right up to the story’s twist ending.  And the script itself is only part of what makes the story work as surprisingly well as it does.  The movie’s trailers made it come across as just another found footage film.  The reality of this movie is that it in fact is not just another one of those works.  Audiences will note that while there is an element of the found footage genre, it isn’t just another found footage flick.  That element is used more as part of the story rather than as the story itself, if that makes any sense.  It is used to help advance the story at various points rather than being used as the crux of the script, to hopefully make that clearer.  This is all discussed at length in the bonus “Making of” featurette that has been included in the movie’s new home release.  The discussions on those and so many other topics add even more depth to the movie.  The end result is a respect for the movie that some viewers might not have previously had should they have seen the movie while it was in theaters early this year.

The deep and deeply terrifying script crafted for The Quiet Ones is the center of the movie’s terrifying success.  It’s just one element of what makes the movie work.  Also worth taking into account is the acting on the part of the movie’s cast.  The Quiet Ones is a low budget film.  Going back to the in-depth bonus “Making of” featurette, this is noted in that featurette.  The thing is that typically, when one thinks of low budget films (such as the ones churned out by Syfy), one thinks of everything wrong with the movie industry.  But in the case of The Quiet Ones both the script itself and the acting on the part of the cast made this movie a success.  Actress Olivia Cooke (The Signal, Bates Motel, Ouija) steals the spotlight as the troubled young Jane Harper.  Viewers can’t help but watch her as the movie progresses.  At no one point does she ever try to take things over the top.  There is just something on which a finger can’t be placed about her acting that makes it work.  Perhaps as (again) noted in the bonus “Making of” featurette, it is her ability to go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye.  Her cast mates—Jared Harris (Natural Born Killers, Lincoln, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Sam Claflin (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Erin Richards (Open Grave, Breaking In, Gotham) feed off of that energy and serve to heighten the story’s tension and terror.  Audiences will see that in their gradual transition from believers in science to believers in something much darker and less capable of being explained away.  They expertly interpret the script and present a fear that audiences can almost feel as they watch the story unfold.  It proves to be a feeling of terror that audiences will find it hard to shake even after the movie ends.   That is one more sign of acting done right.  So, kudos are in order for the cast of The Quiet Ones for doing their part to make this movie a terror in the best possible way.

The acting and writing that went into bringing The Quiet Ones to life are both key to the movie’s success.  Despite the work of the scribes charged with bringing the movie to life and that of the movie’s cast, this underrated horror was largely lambasted by audiences and critics alike.  Now that it is being released to DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU, audiences will see it for its true value especially thanks to the movie’s bonus “Making of” featurette.  Far too often, moviemakers and studios try to throw in these additions to movies in hopes that they will make their movies more accepted.  The problem is that hardly often enough does that actually happen.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t always work.  The case with The Quiet Ones proves that it can and does at times make a movie more worthy of respect.  Audiences get an in-depth look at the movie’s script, the location shooting, acting, and so much more.  There are discussions on the inspiration behind the script, why the house in question was chosen and even on the choice of Olivia Cooke as the movie’s lead.  Audiences will learn why this story isn’t just another movie that is based on actual events.  They will learn about the terror factor in the house and Cooke’s ability to simply turn her emotions on and off for the cameras with ease.  There is so much to note that audiences would be best served to watch this featurette for themselves.  In doing so, both those that have and haven’t already seen The Quiet Ones will have a new respect for a movie that is one of the year’s scariest movies, hands down.

The Quiet Ones will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th on DVD and Blu-ray/VUDU combo pack.  It can be ordered direct from the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=The%20Quiet%20Ones.  More information on this and other releases from Lionsgate is available online at http://www.facebook.com/linosgate, http://www.lionsgate.com, and http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies.  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.

Grammer’s Sophomore Album Is One Of The Best New Pop Albums Of 2014

Courtesy:  S-Curve Records

Courtesy: S-Curve Records

Andy Grammer’s second full length album Magazines or Novels is one of this year’s best new pop albums.  Grammer shows on his new album that the past two years on the road haven’t left him any worse for wear.  He has picked up on Magazines or Novels right where he left off with his 2011 self-titled debut record as is evidenced by the album’s lead single ‘Back Home.’  The celebratory tune shows that Grammer has actually stepped things up with this album.  And the album’s opener ‘Honey, I’m Good’ is sure to impress Grammer’s female fans out there.  It takes a road far less traveled in the world of pop music.  And the equally poppy love song ‘Holding Out’ is a piece that both Grammer’s male and female fans will appreciate.  While it is a song of love found, it’s not the sappy song that so many songs of its ilk prove to be in the long run.  These three songs are just a few of the pieces that make Magazines or Novels another hit for Andy Grammer.  The album’s remaining six songs each present their own enjoyment, too.  Audiences will agree that whether it be for the songs noted here, or the remaining unnoted pieces, there is plenty of reason to call Magazines or Novels one of the best new pop albums of 2014.

Andy Grammer surprised a lot of people in 2011 when he released his self-titled debut record on S-Curve Records.  Now three years later, Grammer has shown that he isn’t just another flash-in-the-pan act on his sophomore album.  He has proven that right off the bat with the album’s celebratory single ‘Back Home.’  The infectious chorus of “It don’t matter where we go/We always find our way back home” will instantly get stuck in listeners’ heads.  And the equally positive vibe of the song’s verses set against its musical backing makes it even clearer why Grammer has a bright future.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “I’m gonna need you to raise your glass/I don’t care what you put in it/Here’s to nights that you can’t take back/We live hard/But we love to laugh/We all thought that we’d get rich fast…See we won’t forget where we came from/This city won’t change us/We beat to the same drum/No we won’t forget where we came from/This city can’t change us/We beat to the same drum.”  From here, the song kicks into that celebratory chorus before going on to paying tribute to all the little things that make life so great in the song’s second and third verse.  The song’s upbeat musical backing throughout is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face as they sing happily along. From start to finish.  All of the elements combined here show why this song was chosen as the first representative work from Grammer’s new album.  For that matter, they combine to show why just as the album in whole is one of the year’s best, so is this single by itself one of the year’s best new songs.  The video for the song can be viewed online now at Grammer’s official website here.

‘Back Home’ is a wonderful first impression from Andy Grammer on his second full length studio effort.  It’s only one song on this record that makes the work in whole such a joy for listeners.  Another example of what makes Magazines or Novels such a joy is the album’s opener, ‘Honey, I’m Good.’  In an age when so many pop and R&B songs are centered on breakups and unfaithful significant others, Grammer has proven that it is actually possible to make a song that is about a faithful individual overcoming the temptation of cheating.  He sings in this song, “Naw, naw honey I’m good/I could have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I got somebody at home/It’s been a long night here/And a long night there/And these long, long legs have been damn near everywhere/Hold up now/You look good/I will not lie/But if you ask where I’m stayin’ tonight/I gotta be like/Awww, baby/Naw, baby/You got me all wrong, baby/My baby’s already got all of my love/So naw, naw honey, I’m good/I could probably have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I got somebody at home/And if I stay/I might not leave alone/Naw honey, I’m good/I could probably have another/But I probably shouldn’t/I gotta bid you adieu to another/I will stay true.”  It’s not the first time that Grammer has paid tribute to women, either.   He paid tribute to the memory or his mother and to women in general more than once on his self-titled debut.  So that he would pay tribute to women everywhere again is sure to impress quite a few listeners to say the least.  Audiences can check out this song on Grammer’s official website along with the video for ‘Back Home’ now here.

It’s a great thing to hear on the opener to Andy Grammer’s new LP that he takes the road far less traveled in the world of pop music.  The equally upbeat lead single ‘Back Home’ only adds to the enjoyment that is this album.  They obviously aren’t the only songs on this record that make it a standout collection of songs.  There is neither enough time nor space to point out every single song that makes Magazines or Novels work as well as it does.  There is time and space though, for at least one more example of what makes this album such a joy.  That song is the poppy love song ‘Holding Out.’  Grammer sings here about the revelation that past relationships not working out was a good thing.  In his words, it was a good thing because he realized that he was just “holding out” for a certain woman.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “When I met you love/I hadn’t done the dirty yet/You called me a unicorn/You said that I didn’t exist/Truth is my heart was torn/The V had a couple of rips/But I was still holding on/To the edges with my fingertips.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus that that all changed when his subject met the woman in question, though.  He sings of the change, “With a little bit of prayer/With a little bit of porn star (sorry)/Couple long nights of sleeping on my own/Waiting or the right one to come along/Waiting for the right one and now I know that I was holding out for you.”  Just as Grammer takes the road less traveled in the album’s opener, so does he take that same road with this piece, too.  Rather than take the standard, sappy, overly emotional R&B-style route, he opts for a more upbeat musical backing that still manages to reflect the cautious optimism felt in the blooming romance portrayed in the song’s lyrical side.  It’s a wonderful mix of musical and lyrical sensibility that is just as certain to have audiences singing along happily.  This is especially the case for Grammer’s female audiences.  And heck, even the guys out there could use it with the women they are dating to help put into words how they feel.  It’s one more way that this piece makes Magazines or Novels in whole an album that is just as welcome among audiences whether or not they are hearing his music for the first time.

Magazines or Novels is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon direct via Grammer’s official website here.  Audiences can also pick up his new album at any of the shows on his upcoming tour which kicks off Tuesday, September 9th.  The tour includes a performance at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina on Thursday, September 11th alongside O.A.R.  As with the album, tickets for this and all of Andy Grammer’s shows can be purchased direct via Grammer’s website.  Along with the latest tour updates, audiences can get the latest news on Andy Grammer online at http://www.facebook.com/andygrammer.  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.

Hey Arnold! The Complete Series A Must Have For Any Nicktoons Nostalgic

Courtesy:  Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Nickelodeon/Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon released the final season of Nickelodeon’s classic Nicktoon Hey Arnold! last year. It was the culmination of a process that started in 2011. And thanks again to Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory, those classic Nicktoons fans that didn’t have the chance to pick up any of the series’ stand-alone box sets in their original releases will have the chance to own the entire series in one complete box set. Hey Arnold! The Complete Series will be distributed exclusively through Wal-Mart beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th. Audiences that pick up the box set will note that in comparison to the previously released stand-alone sets, this box set actually is a space saver on any DVD rack. That is the starting point of what makes the set a win for any fan of Hey Arnold! Another positive for fans to consider is the fact that this box set also contains every episode from the original series. Unlike box sets from other companies (those companies will remain nameless), nothing has been left out here. And last but not least is the box’s pricing. Considering that this box set contains ninety-nine episodes spread across two boxes and sixteen discs, it is relatively affordable. That affordable pricing combines with the inclusion of every one of the series’ episodes and the box’s overall packaging to make Hey Arnold! The Complete Series a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic yearning for Nickelodeon’s golden era and a set that is one of this year’s best new box set for children and their parents.

The very first thing that audiences will note of Hey Arnold! The Complete Series is its packaging. The series was already released over the course of two years and six box sets. Season Two was split into two separate volumes. This box set has taken every one of the series’ ninety-nine episodes and spread them over sixteen discs and two boxes. What’s more, the discs contained within each box were packaged in exactly the same fashion as the discs in the previously released stand-alone box sets. The end result is a set that is far more ergonomic than the series’ previously released stand-alone box sets. In other words, it actually saves space on any fan’s DVD rack. And being that space is increasingly a premium for any viewer today, the space afforded by this set will make any fan of Hey Arnold! want to pick up this box set.

The space that Hey Arnold! The Complete Series saves on any viewer’s DVD rack is but one reason that audiences will appreciate this box set. Another reason that fans of this modern classic will appreciate its complete series release is the fact that it actually includes every single episode aired in the series’ original run. Audiences take for granted far too often that certain companies will give everything hoped for in the box sets released by said companies. However, as at least one company has shown in recent years, it is possible to release box sets (and movies) that are severely lacking in content. The company in question is NOT Shout! Factory, thank goodness. Rather, Shout! Factory remains the leader in DVD and Blu-ray box sets and movies. And they show just why once again here, as audiences will note. Every episode that aired in Hey Arnold!’s original run is included here. Nothing has been left out. Though one can only hope that with the release of every episode in one box set, Shout! Factory will next re-issue Hey Arnold! The Movie to completely finish off this modern classic series once and for all. In the meantime though, the release of this box set will definitely do for anyone yearning to add the series to their own home collection and re-live a piece of their own childhood.

Hey Arnold! the Complete Series will resonate with audiences both for its ergonomic packaging and for the fact that it doesn’t short change audiences that grew up with the series. Those two factors alone are more than enough reason for audiences to pick up this brand new box set. As impressive as these factors are, there is still one more reason for audiences to pick up Hey Arnold! The Complete Series. That reason is the box’s pricing. Its list price is roughly thirty dollars. However, audiences will note on Wal-Mart’s website (as the series will be available exclusively via Wal-Mart), that it will be available for twenty-seven dollars (plus shipping and handling of course). There is another modern classic children’s series being released in its entirety soon that has far fewer episodes than this box set. It is listing at double the list price for this box set. Keeping that in mind, audiences will hopefully see that Hey Arnold! The Complete Series is actually quite affordable by comparison. The affordability of this box set compared to that of so many others is the final touch on this set. Taken into consideration with the set’s packaging and its inclusion of the series’ complete run, it makes Hey Arnold! The Complete Series an absolute must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and one of the best new box sets for children and their parents this year.

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.

The Whizpops Make A Splash On Sea Blue Sea

Courtesy:  Stretch McCoy Records

Courtesy: Stretch McCoy Records

The Whizpops get *ahem* two fins up for the band’s latest full length album Sea Blue Sea.  The third full length release from the band, it follows much the same trend as the band’s previous releases in presenting one clear and specific theme.  The band’s 2012 debut was science themed.  Its 2013 follow-up Adventures of Stretch Mc Coy took listeners on a camping trip into the woods.  And now on its third album in as many years, the band—Kevin Cashman (guitar/vocals), Casey Schaefer (guitar/vocals/ukulele), Steve Kalling (upright bass), Margie Cates (vocals), Daniel Kiely (drums/timbales), and Keaton Wilson (piano/keyboards)—takes listeners on a journey into the deep blue sea, as inferred by the album’s title.  This collection of songs is a joy for listeners of all ages.  And it is so for a number of reasons.  It isn’t just an album with songs about undersea life.  It’s more than that.  It teaches marine science at the most basic of levels through each song.  It also teaches the importance of the preservation of the world’s oceans.  Rounding out the entire presentation is its various musical stylings.  From start to finish, each song presents to listeners a different style of music which also expertly complements the songs in question.  Case in point is the album’s opener ‘Coral Reef.’  Its easygoing, poppy vibe, makes one fee like one is taking a trip, cruising around just beneath the waves as the band’s members sing about the different life that lives on a coral reef.  And then there is the even more laid back, Jack Johnson style ‘Manatee’ that makes visualizing the cows of the sea gently swimming along.  And the album’s closer ‘Octopus’ has almost as many movements and musical styles as there are arms on an octopus itself.  It’s the perfect way to close out an album that is a sleeper hit in the race for the year’s best new children’s albums.

Sea Blue Sea’s opener ‘Coral Reef’ is a great way for the band to re-introduce itself to audiences. The song’s easygoing, poppy vibe leaves audiences feeling like they are taking a trip just beneath the waves. All the while, they are learning about the ecosystem of the coral reef and why they should take care of the world’s reefs. Cashman raps (yes, raps) on this track, “Yo/The coral/They got/These creatures/Inside ‘em/Growin’ in clear water/So the sunlight can find ‘em/They help change color/And turn sunlight into food/So to say the least/They’re incredible dudes/Please don’t stress ‘em out/With pollution and heat…Without the coral reef/The ocean ain’t complete.” There are mentions throughout the song of how coral reefs interact with the animals around them and vice versa. Those mentioned interactions between the reefs and ocean life in general paint a clear picture of the importance of coral reefs. And that picture is painted in a manner that avoids any preaching. The ability of Cashman and company to avoid that preaching set alongside the song’s catchy yet relaxing musical vibe makes even clearer the reason that this song was chosen as the opener for Sea Blue Sea. It makes the song even more fun for audiences of all ages, too. Altogether it makes ‘Coral Reef’ not just a great way to open this album but a great addition to the album in whole.

‘Coral Reef’ is both a great song and a great way to open Sea Blue Sea. It is just one of so many songs that make this album so fun for audiences. That fun, easygoing vibe continues in the album’s second song ‘Manatee.’ Any older audiences that are familiar with Jack Johnson will appreciate this piece in which Cashman sings about the life of a manatee. The gentle, flowing waves set against Steve Kalling’s upright bass in the song’s opener instantly establish the song’s positive vibe. Cashman’s Jack Johnson style vocals and Casey Schaefer’s ukulele fill out the song and complete it. The picture painted by the band is so vivid as Cashman outs himself in the vantage point of the manatees, singing, “Well this warm/Water’s just right/For me/For me/Beneath the mangrove trees/Swain’ side to side/For me/For me/Down here/Swimmin’ with my friend/We kinda look like cows/With no legs/The shallow sea/Only place to be/A manatee.” Audiences can so easily close their eyes and see manatees slowly swimming along in their aquatic habitats. Anyone that has ever seen footage of them or even seem them in the flesh know how pleasant a sight this is. Just as with the album’s opener, such a sight drives home the importance of protecting such sea life and its habitat. And it does so yet again without even the slightest hint of preaching. It’s just one more reason that audiences of all ages will appreciate Sea Blue Sea.

‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Manatee’ are both wonderful examples of what makes Sea Blue Sea a wonderful new release from The Whizpops. The band shows both a certain pop sensibility and the ability to reach audiences without preaching to them unlike so many other acts with this album. The band expertly balances that pop sensibility and sense of environmental awareness throughout the course of its new album right up to the album’s closer. That song, ‘Octopus,’ finishes off the album just as well as ‘Coral Reef’ opens the album. It is a three-movement piece that outlines the daily life of an octopus. The song features an ABA format that opens and closes with a reggae sound and is centered with an upbeat, Latin-tinged bridge of sorts. Not only does the band exhibit a pop sensibility here, but it also exhibits a full knowledge of and appreciation for basic musicianship, too. The band blends the two completely different sounds seamlessly. The end result is a song that while it may not have as many arms as an octopus, is still a great closer for an album that will make a *ahem* splash (pun fully intended) with any listener and critic that (here’s another one) dives in.

Sea Blue Sea will be available tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19th in stores and online. The Whizpops will hit the road beginning this Saturday, August 23rd in support of its new album. Audiences can pick up the band’s new album at those shows, as well as online and in stores. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now at http://www.thewhizpops.com. More information on The Whizpops’ new album, tour, and more is available online via both the band’s official website and its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/thewhizpops. 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.

Eagle Rock Entertainment To Release New Eric Clapton Tour Documentary

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Eric Clapton’s new tour documentary this fall.

Planes, Trains, And Eric will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, November 4th.  The film documents Clapton’s 2014 tour through the Middle East and Japan.  It features both documentation of his tour and thirteen full-length performances.  There are also interviews with Clapton and his band mates during rehearsal, soundcheck and even in the course of travelling from venue to venue.  On board for the ride on Clapton’s 2014 tour were: Paul Carrack (Hammond organ & vocals), Nathan East (bass/vocals), Chris Stainton (keyboards), Michelle Jordan (backing vocals), Shar White (backing vocals), and legendary drummer Steve Gadd (drums).  The complete listing of songs performed in this documentary is noted below.

TRACK LISTING:

1) Tell The Truth

2) Pretending

3) Crossroads

4) Driftin’

5) I Shot The Sherriff

6) Little Queen Of Spades

7) Layla

8) Wonderful Tonight

9) Key To The Highway

10) Before You Accuse Me

11) Tears In Heaven

12) Cocaine

13) Hoochie Coochie Man

14) High Time (Credits – Audio Only)

 

The documentary will retail for SRP of $19.98 on Blu-ray and $14.98 on DVD.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eagle-rock.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  More news and updates from Eric Clapton is available online at http://ericclapton.com, http://www.myspace.com/ericclapton, and http://www.facebook.com/ericclapton.  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 Dinosaur Train Will Bring Lots Of Spooky Family Fun This Fall

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

Courtesy: PBS Kids/PBS/The Jim Henson Company

PBS Kids and The Jim Henson Company will release another brand new DVD from PBS Kids’ family favorite series Dinosaur Train next month.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure will be available on DVD Tuesday, September 2nd.  The brand new DVD features four more family friendly Halloween-themed episodes that are perfect for any child’s Halloween party.  In “Haunted Roundhouse,” the first of the adventures on this disc, the Pteranodon family goes to Troodon Town.  During the family’s trip, the Dinosaur Train makes a stop at its roundhouse, which has been decked out in Halloween decorations by the Troodons.  While there, the Pteranodon kids meet Vlad Volaticotherium.

“Big Bond Pumpkin Patch” is the second of the shorts included on the disc.  The Pteranodon kids discover their first pumpkins in this episode while learning about the customs of their neighbors, the Lambeosaurus family at the annual “Gourd Day,” a prehistoric Halloween of soirts.  The whole family learns how to hollow out and carve pumpkins along the way.

“Night Train” is the third of the shorts included on PBS Kids’ latest Dinosaur Train DVD.  Buddy and Tiny go for a nighttime ride on the Dinosaur Train along with Mr. Pteranodon in this short.  They learn about all sorts of nocturnal animals during their ride.  T all ends with a walk under the full moon at the Big Pond.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure is rounded out with the short “Fossil Fred.”  Buddy, Tiny, and Don are searching for fossils around the Big Pond in this episode.  The result is the discovery of the complete skeleton of a dinosaur from the Jurassic era.

Dinosaur Train: Buddy’s Halloween Adventure will be available Tuesday, September 2nd on DVD.  It will retail for SRP of $7.99.  It can be ordered via the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=42447476&cp=&kw=buddys+halloween+adventure&origkw=Buddy%27s+Halloween+Adventure&sr=1.  Parents and children can get more information on Dinosaur Train, as well as games, activities and more episodes online at http://www.facebook.com/DinosaurTrain and http://pbskids.org/dinosaurtrain.  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.

Eyes Set To Kill Announces Fall Tour Schedule

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

The members of Eyes Set To Kill announced the details of a new upcoming tour this week.

Eyes Set To Kill will launch the “Little Liar” tour this fall. The tour begins Saturday, October 4th in Beckly, West Virginia.  The band’s current tour sees it performing eleven dates from October 4th to Wednesday, October 15th.  Two of those dates are in North Carolina.  The first of the band’s North Carolina dates is Tuesday, October 7th at Ziggy’s in Wilmington.  The second of the band’s dates in North Carolina is the next night, Wednesday, October8th at Amos Southend in Charlotte.

Along with its schedule, the members of Eyes Set To Kill also announced that it would not be alone on this tour.  The band will be joined by Providence, Rhode Island’s Scare Don’t Fear for the length of the tour as a support act.  The band is currently touring alongside Nonpoint, which is currently touring in support of its upcoming album The Return, which is due in stores Tuesday, September 30th in North America.  Eyes Set To Kill’s current tour schedule is listed below.

AUGUST

15 – Hartford, CT @ The Webster

16 – Worcester, MA @ The Palladium

17 – Portland, ME @ The Asylum

18 – Trenton, NJ @ The Backstage at Championship Bar

19 – New York, Ny @ Webster Hall

21 – Lansing, MI @ The Loft

22 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s

23 – Denver, CO @ Marquis

24 – Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater

SEPTEMBER

13 – Sacramento, CA @ Discovery Park (Aftershock Festival)

16 – Waterloo, IA @ Spicoli’s (w/ Nonpoint)

18 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection (w/ Nonpoint)

19 – Cherry Valley, IL @ Take 20 (headline with Righteous Vendetta)

20 – Dayton, OH @ Oddbody’s Music Room (w/ Nonpoint)

21 – Erie, PA @ BT Theater (w/ Nonpoint)

23 – Fostoria, OH @ The New West (w/ Nonpoint)

24 – Pontiac, IL @ Freksters Roadhouse (w/ Nonpoint)

25 – Chesterfield, MI @ Diesel Concert Lounge (w/ Nonpoint)

26 – Libertyville, IL @ Austins (w/ Nonpoint)

27 – Ringle, WI @ Q And Z Expo Center (w/ Nonpoint)

28 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Hall (w/ Nonpoint)

30 – LaCrosse, WI @ The Cavalier Theater (w/ Nonpoint)

OCTOBER

01 – Mishawaka, IN @ Smith’s Downtown (w/ Nonpoint)

02 – Macomb, IL @ The Forum Live (w/ Nonpoint)

03 – Battle Creek, MI @ Planet Rock (w/ Nonpoint)

OCTOBER – LITTLE LIAR TOUR:

04 – Beckly, WV @ Muncheez (with Scare Don’t Fear)

06 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Shakas (with Scare Don’t Fear)

07 – Wilmington, NC @ Ziggy’s (with Scare Don’t Fear)

08 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend (with Scare Don’t Fear)

09 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade (with Scare Don’t Fear)

10 – Orlando, FL @ Bombshells (with Scare Don’t Fear)

11 – St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theatre (with Scare Don’t Fear)

12 – Tallahassee, FL @ Atmosphere (with Scare Don’t Fear)

13 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits (with Scare Don’t Fear)

14 – Destin, FL @ Club LA (with Scare Don’t Fear)

15 – Bossier City, LA @ Back to Back (with Scare Don’t Fear)

 

All of the latest tour updates and news from Eyes Set To Kill is available online at http://www.facebook.com/eyessettokill and htp://twitter.com/eyessettokill.  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.

ESPN Networks Covering A’s, Braves Weekend Series

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Two of the top teams in Major League Baseball will face off this Sunday night on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.

The Atlanta Braves will host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series beginning tonight.  ESPN will carry the third game of the series live Sunday night on its weekly Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell broadcast.  Coverage begins at 8pm ET with Dan Shulman at the helm.  He will be joined by analyst John Kruk and reporter/analyst Doug Glanville for commentary.  Looking at the numbers, this weekend’s series is sure to be a close one, despite the vast difference in the teams’ records.  The Athletics currently sit atop the MLB standings at 73 – 48 while Atlanta currently sits at 61 – 60.  Oakland has proven to be much better at home than on the road so far this season.  The A’s are 40 – 21 at home and 33 – 27 on the road.  On the other side of the ball, Atlanta’s home/road record so far this season has been just as rough.  The Braves are 34 – 28 at home so far and 27 – 32 on the road.  Atlanta has gone 3 – 7 in its last ten versus Oakland’s 5 – 5 record in its last ten.  Sunday night’s game will be preceded by ESPN’s weekly pre-game show Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet at 7pm ET with host Adnan Kirk and analyst Eduardo Perez.   Those that won’t be near a TV Sunday evening can still catch the game online and on the radio via ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, and WatchESPN.

Along with Sunday’s coverage of the series’ third game, ESPN Radio will have coverage of the series’ first and second game Friday and Saturday night.  Jon Sciambi will have the call for Saturday’s game.  He will be joined in the booth by Chris Singleton for both broadcasts.  Adnan Virk, Rick Sutcliffe, and Eduardo Perez will have a wrap of Friday’s game live on ESPN and WatchESPN at 10pm ET.

More information on ESPN’s MLB coverage is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight and http://espn.go.com/mlb.  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.