Tempt’s Debut EP Is A Guilty Pleasure For Any Fan Of Big Hair And Even Bigger Rock

Courtesy:  Chipster PR

Courtesy: Chipster PR

Indie rock band Tempt recently released its debut EP Under My Skin.  The New York based band’s debut record is something special, especially for fans of bands such as Def Leppard, Journey, Poison and others of that ilk.  The band’s members—Zach Allen (vocals), Harrison Marcello (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Jimmi Kane (drums), and Zak Gross (bass, vocals)—are way too young to have grown up in the 80s.  But the sound that the band’s members collectively craft is one that displays such respect for the music of the era.  It truly makes Tempt quite the rarity in the current era of rock music.  The band transports audiences back to that era of big hair and equally big rock songs right off the top in the EP’s title track.  That pomp and bombast doesn’t let up even in the slightest as the band moves into the EP’s second song.  The song exhibits something of a Queensryche influence circa Rage for Order.  And on the EP’s penultimate track, the 8-s big hair influence keeps rolling before the band closes things with a standard 80s ballad-style song.  All things considered, anyone that is a fan of big rock and big hair will agree after hearing this EP that Under My Skin is one of the best of the year’s new EPs.

The members of Tempt look to be far too young to have grown up in the 80s.  That hasn’t stopped the band from crafting an EP loaded with music that sounds like it has been kept in a time capsule for ages and pulled right from that era of big rock and big hair.  This is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opener and title track.  If one didn’t know any better, one would think this was Def Leppard, Journey, Poison, or another major name act that had its heyday in that era.  Lyrically speaking, the song centers on the standard subject of a broken relationship.  What’s most interesting about it here is not just the standard over-the-top nature of the song, but [Zach] Allen’s vocals on the song.  He sings much in the same style as other big name vocalists from the day as he sings, “Stop and start many years ago/You was a looker that I/Got to know/Now I’m sitting here/The pain won’t die/With the letter saying you’ve left my side.”  There is just a certain quality to his vocal style.  And the song’s chorus brings about even more of that classic song style with the rest of the band joining in almost the same style as the aforementioned bands.  It is pure retro rock joy for fans of that sound.

The first impression that the band makes on its brand new EP is just the beginning of the retro rock joy for fans of hair metal.  ‘Use It Or Lose It’ comes second on the disc.  Those that are more familiar with bands from the era of hair metal will hear influences from the likes of Queensryche right from the song’s opening riff and the chorus style vocals.  The song is just as good a follow-up to ‘Under My Skin’ lyrically as it is musically.  That’s because it follows a similar lyrical theme.  Allen sings here about a woman that is bad news for all intents and purposes.  He sings in the song’s opening verse, “She’ll steal your soul/Drag your mind through pouring rain/Take you down into the dark/She don’t feel no pain/But if I turn my back/Would you turn your eyes on them/Are you ready/Let the games begin.”  He goes on to sing of the woman in question in the song’s second verse, “She’s a one-of-a-kind/A storm within a name/A natural disaster/But I want her just the same.”  As with the EP’s opener, the style of Allen’s vocals and the song’s musical side together make this song sound like something right out of the 80s.  And again, that taken into consideration fans of that sound will welcome this song in with arms and ears wide open.

Both ‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Use It Or Lose It’ are impressive additions to the debut EP from Tempt. The third of the EP’s tracks, ‘The Fight’ instantly conjures thoughts of Journey and other more melodic rock bands of their time. Its forward-driving sound and infectious chorus of “It’s the fight that makes us stronger, baby/We both know you can see” will have audiences singing along in no time whether it be in their vehicle on the road or in their own living room/bedroom. Along with the previously noted songs, this song is just as much an arena anthem as them and the EP’s closing number. Allen and his band mates are seemingly singing about the fight that we have within ourselves to not give up. In this case, it seems to be the fight to not give up on a relationship. If that be the case, then the song takes quite the upbeat turn from so many songs rooted in relationship issues. It actually argues that there is hope for a relationship that would otherwise be broken. That and the song’s musical side together make this one of the EP’s best numbers. And together with the EP’s previously noted tracks, it makes the EP even more worth the listen especially by anyone that grew up a fan of the era of big hair and big rock. Audiences can listen to the title track from Under My Skin now via Tempt’s official website at http://www.temptband.com/#!listen/c1x9v.

Under My Skin can be purchased online via iTunes and Amazon.com or at the band’s next live performance. The band is next scheduled to perform live Friday, July 18th at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, New York. Audiences can keep up with the band’s tour schedule and all of the band’s latest news online both through its official website, http://www.temptband.com and its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TemptBand. Audiences can also keep up with the latest from the band through its Twitter page, http://twitter.com/temptband and its Reverb Nation website, http://www.reverbnation.com/temptband. 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 Winery Dogs’ Debut Even Better The Second Time Around

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

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

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

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

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

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Winery Dogs’ Debut A Super Record From A True Supergroup

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

2013 has been quite a year for new rock records.  The list of new records vying to make critics’ lists of the year’s best is already cluttered.  And the year’s not even out yet.  That list already includes releases from the likes of:  Pop Evil, Queensryche, Buckcherry, Filter and Joe Satriani just to name a handful of releases.  Now with the release of its self-titled release, rock trio The Winery Dogs has added its name to that already massively cluttered landscape.  The band—Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison)—instantly draws comparisons to Chickenfoot from early on with its brand of rock.  If one were to listen to this and not know it was another band, one would instantly think one was listening to the latter of the two.  Even vocalist Richie Kotzen sounds at times like Chickenfoot front man Sammy Hagar.  At others, he sounds like Soundgarden/former Audioslave front man Chris Cornell.  The similarity in the singers’ voices is eerie.

The band’s new self-titled album is a solid mix of sounds, opening with a trio of heavier, energy-laden songs in: ‘Elevate’, ‘Desire’ and ‘We Are One.’  From there, things slow down a little bit in ‘I’m No Angel’ ‘The Other Side’ and ‘You Saved Me.’  What’s interesting here is that while this trio of songs is a little more subdued, there is still a certain controlled energy throughout all three.  The guitar solos in ‘We Are One’ along with Portnoy’s expert drumming in this song is just one of so many of the album’s highlights.  ‘You Saved Me’ is impressive not just because of its musical content, but also for its uplifting lyrical content.  Kotzen sings, “You saved me in my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You gave me all my strength and power/And when sunshine turned to grey/In my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You stood with me/My guiding angel.”  This could be interpreted in a religious sense.  It could just as easily be considered more in the sense of a relationship.  Regardless of which angle one takes here, the ballad with its moving music and equally uplifting lyrics is sure to impress any listener. 

‘You Saved Me’ is a fitting midpoint for The Winery Dogs’ debut record.  That is because it is after this point that things pick back up beginning with what is one of the best of the best from this record in ‘Not Hopeless.’  This song is a standout thanks to the contradiction of the heavier, slower sludge rock style verses to the more standard rock style choruses.  Kotzen shows throughout both sections (and his solos) that he can easily hold his own alongside fellow guitar great Zakk Wylde here.  And if this isn’t enough to get listeners excited, the album’s next track, ‘One More Time’ definitely will.  Bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan gets his chance to shine in this up-tempo prog rock piece alongside Portnoy.  Sheehan gets his own solo alongside Portnoy in the song’s bridge.  Kotzen eventually joins in to add in his own spice, too.  By the time the song ends, it will have left listeners in awe of the trio’s talent once more.  Forget the lyrics.  This song is entirely about the talent of these three musicians.  And it definitely doesn’t disappoint.

After the high energy of ‘One More Time’ and ‘Not Hopeless’, the band slows things down only momentarily in ‘Damaged’ and ‘Six Feet Deeper.’  This gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before diving back in the deep end again on the album’s final trio of songs.  ‘Time Machine’, ‘The Dying’, and ‘Regret’ finish off the album.  And they do so in expert form.  The energy in these three songs is just enough to keep listeners engaged right to the final notes without skipping even one song.  Suffice it to say that listeners that are familiar with the musicianship of Sheehan, Portnoy and Kotzen will be just as impressed with this record as anything else that the trio has recorded throughout its career.  For those that are new to the trio’s talents, these final three songs are certain to seal the deal and make new fans of three of the most talented individuals in the music industry today. 

Winery Dogs’ debut record is slated to be released Tuesday, July 23rd via Loud & Proud Records.  Fans can pre-order it now via the Loud & Proud Records website at http://loudandproudrecords.com/releases/winery-dogs/.  In the meantime, fans can check out the band’s new album live on its tour.  It will be touring through Japan and South America during the month of July before coming back to the United States on August 3rd.  Fans can get a full list of the band’s tour dates online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs.  Fans can also “Like” the Winery Dogs’ Facebook page for all of the latest news and updates from the band.

To keep up with all of the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com

Steel Panther’s New Live BD A “Solid” Release For Fans

Courtesy:  DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Courtesy: DC3/Universal Republic/3 dimensions/AGPS Management

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, once said that death and taxes were life’s two constants.  If he were alive today, Franklin would change his tune and say that there are in fact three more constants in the twenty-first century.  Those constants are sex, drugs, and rock & roll.  Many bands have tried to live those constants.  Many have succeeded.  But few have truly lived those constants like the glam rockers of Steel Panther.  This California based band actually started in 2009.  Since that time, its members—Lexxi Foxx, Michael Starr, Satchel, and Stix Zadinia—have become the poster boys for everything that was at one point all that rockers lived for.  The band has already released two albums under its current moniker.  And now thanks to Universal Republic Records, audiences get a new chance to experience all the testosterone fueled, alcohol infused bombacity that is Steel Panther live in its new live release, British Invasion.

British Invasion was recorded live at the famed Brixton Academy during its most recent live tour in support of its most recent album, Balls Out.  Brixton Academy has hosted some of rocks biggest names including both Machine Head and Sepultura.  Now Steel Panther can add its name to the list of huge names that have performed there.  Fans of the aforementioned bands got quite the show with each one.  And Steel Panther’s fans get a show that they’ll enjoy in this new release, too.  Not only do fans get a full set from its performance at Brixton, but there’s also the bonus of five extra songs recorded live at the band’s performance at the Download 2012 Festival.  The audio and video mix on both of the main and bonus performance are quite clear.  And whether one has seen SP live before or not, audiences get a show that has all the over the top antics and music that audiences have come to expect from this band.  To sweeten the deal, the band and its label, Universal Republic Records, have included a booklet complete with lyrics to every song performed in the main set.

The booklet included with the Blu-ray is just part of what viewers will appreciate from this performance.  Audiences get out of this performance, a band that actually interacts with the audience in attendance.  And it’s not just your standard back and forth banter, either.  The entire band gets in on the act.  It’s little things like that that make a performance memorable.  Though of course, the band’s interaction with its audience is just half of what will make the band’s fans enjoy this recording.  There’s also enough T & A to make any college frat boy happy for quite some time.  The band even brings in some “adult entertainers” to help with its show in more than one song.  Add in the impressive audio and visual editing and mixing and fans get in this recorded performance a show that fans of Steel Panther will be watching time and again.  The band’s new DVD and Blu-ray are both available online and in stores now.  Regardless of whether or not fans manage to pick it up, they’ll still have the chance to see the band live as it’s currently touring in support of the new live release now.  Fans can get all the latest tour dates and news from the band now online at http://www.steelpantherrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/steelpantherkicksass, http://twitter.com/#!/Steel_Panther, and http://www.myspace.com/steelpantherkicksass.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Giant X’s Debut LP Is Giant Fun

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

Giant X, the brainchild of Running Wild band members Rolf Kasparek and Peter J. Jordan brings back all the flare and bombacity of rock’s golden era.  Right from the first moments of the album’s opener, ‘On A Blind Flight’, audiences are instantly transported back to the days of big rock and in many cases, big hair.  ‘Blind Flight’ is a solid mix of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with its solid driving guitars and soaring vocals.  The duo hardly let up from there as it launches into what is sure to be a fan favorite in ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow.’  At this point, there are no plans for Giant X to tour.  But should the band ever manage to h it the road, there’s no doubt that this song would become an instant arena anthem for the band.  The song opens with the simplest of chants that conjures the image of a massive crowd singing along, fists pumping in the air.  Lyrically, this is an equally empowering song.  Kasparek sings near the song’s end, “When the times are getting crazy…don’t quit till tomorrow.  Raise your hands for rock and roll.”  Simply put, what is being said here is don’t let the tough times get you down.  Don’t give up.  Keep pushing through.  The positive message mixed with a solid rocking musical baking makes this one of the album’s best songs, hands down.  Things don’t let off here though.

As the last tones of ‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ fade away, listeners are able to catch their breath just enough to get ready for even more solid rock in the form of ‘Badland Blues.’  This blues based southern rock style piece is a rock song, plain and simple.  It’s just a great near five minute musical experience.  The only time that the record slows down any is on the semi-ballad, ‘Nameless Heroes.’  This one seems to be a tribute to the men and women in uniform the world over, as Kasparek and Jordan sing, “This goes out to all the nameless heroes/This goes out to all the ones that paid.”  The band leaves little doubt as to whom they are singing for here.  And it’s a fitting tribute to those individuals, too.  It’s one more that’s bound to be a fan favorite regardless of whether or not Giant X tours in support of this record.

‘Don’t Quit Till Tomorrow’ and ‘Nameless Heroes’ are both bound to be fan favorites from Giant X’s debut.  There is at least one more (if not more) that will be another fan favorite.  That song is the album’s very next track, ‘Go 4 It.’ It makes for a perfect transition from ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The song instantly kick starts its listeners after the more emotional ‘Nameless Heroes.’  The first thing that listeners hear from this song is a rather fast guitar intro that leads into Kasparek singing, “You feel the gasoline in your blood…You reek of gas/And you’re kickin’ ass/You are hell on wheels.”  There’s a certain something about this song that oozes the likes of Poison as an influence.  It’s just one more of so many tracks that any fan of big hair and big guitars will appreciate on this upcoming new album.  And for those wondering, Giant X’s debut album, I is due to be available in stores and online in the U.S. on January 22nd.  To find out if the band will be touring in support of its debut, I, fans need just go online to http://www.running-wild.net, and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Giant-X/176387661550

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.