The Magic Show Act II Proves To Be Just The Beginning For The Members Of We Are The Finale

Courtesy: Houndstooth productions

Courtesy: Houndstooth productions

Typically when people think about Nashville, Tennessee, the first thing that comes to mind is country music.  Nashville is the home of country music.  Its Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry are shrines to the legends of country music for all intents and purposes.  So the thought that a rock band–a punk band no less–would rise among the country ranks and make a name for itself among that mass of counrty acts no less comes as something of a surprise. But when audiences hear the new EP The Magic Show Act II: The Turn from We Are The Finale, they will agree that this Nashville, TN-based band is set to finally start turning the tide in Music  City, USA and help make the city known for being more than just the capital of country music.  The Magic Show Act II: The Turn totals only five songs and sixteen minutes.  Throughout the course of the EP’s technically four full-length songs–the EP’s opener only runs fifty-one seconds and isn’t technically a song–front man Daniel John Schafer and band mates Bradley Gwinn, Brandon Keysey, Freddy March, and Ronnie Mills show quite a bit of diversity and talent.  They take listeners on a ride through some of rock’s sub genres throughout the record from the pop punk style of the EP’s first full track ‘Well Enough Alone’ to a semi-post hardcore sound in ‘…And Scene’ and an almost seemingly 80s influenced sound on the EP’s closer ‘The Honeymoon Phase.’  It’s tough especially in the indie rock world to find a record that crosses so many sounds within the course of its songs (Whether it be an LP or EP). But the members of We Are The Finale have done just that here.  Keeping that in mind, it helps to make this EP one that is deserving of at least one listen by audiences.

The members of We Are The Finale have crafted a record in its new EP The Magic Show At II: The Turn that is well worth at least one listen.  The reason being that through the course of the EP’s four full-length songs, the band refuses to stick to just one of rock’s various sub genres.  it switches things up from one song to the next, thus keeping audiences engaged from start to finish.  The record’s lead song ‘Well Enough Alone’ is proof of that.  The song’s slower, almost bluesy sound instantly hints at an influence from the likes of Set It Off.  Front man Daniel John Schafer’s lyrics add a certain depth to that musical side, too. He hits on a topic that quite a few men have dealth with in life in the form of a woman that causes a man no end of problems inside.  He sings, “Your eyes are telling lies/That your mouth is trying to hide/So now I gotta decide if it’s worth it/To keep this dragging on.”  Schafer writes in the song about how his subject is going crazy over the female in question, writing, “Girl, you got me faded (Whoa, I’m so smooth girl)/And now the groudn is shaking (Let me move you)/Now I feel like I’m six feet deep (You shouldn’ve known, too)/And the top of my headstone reads Leave well enough alone.”  In other words, the woman in question is killing his subject, metaphorically speaking of course.  What man hasn’t been in this situation at least once in life?  And while the song’s subject is obviously male, one could argue and flip it to have a female as the lead subject singing about a guy driving her crazy as that does happen, too.  That interchangability and the song’s musical side colletively make ‘Well Enough Alone’ a fitting opener for the band on its new record.

‘Well Enough Alone’ is a good first impression from We Are The Finale on its new EP.  This is especially the case for those that might not be so familiar with the band’s music.  That’s thanks to its mix of relatable lyrical content and equally interesting musical side.  Audiences that pick up the band’s EP will note that as enjoyable as this song proves to be, the band doesn’t resteasy on its laurels.  Rather it switches things up from here as is evidenced in the semi-post hardcore sound of ‘…And Scene.’  The song opens with the sound of an old film reel setting the stage for what is to come much like was done with old movies.  It is a fitting addition to this song, considering the song’s lyrical content.  Shafer sings in the song’s chorus, “All you ever wanted was to bust out on the scene/But I won’t let the scene change me/And all you ever wanted was a reason to feel this way/So now I’ll stay away/Away from you for a while.”  Before this, he sings, “My face fills with blood/Your face is so smug/So now I’ll take some steps away/This life you sell/It can’t be real.”   The song seems to come across as highliting the frustration felt by someone that has to deal with one of those overly annoying people who lives solely to bring others down one way or another.  Hopefully that interpretation is right as it is just the interpretation of this critic.  The song’s second verse strengthens the argument for this interpretation as Shafer sings, “I’ve heard these lies before/Back when I was young/And I am moving on my way/Now that I’m older I see all the things that I want/And I’m ready to plead my case.”  Again, Schafer comes across as targeting the people that would say whatever they want to others, knowing others would believe them and in turn allow themselves to be torn down emotionally.  It will be interesting to find out whether or not this interpretation is correct. Hopefully it is correct.  Regardless, the very fact that it could generate such discussion and thought by itself makes it well worth hearing.  The balance of Schafer’s clean vocals and his screams set against the song’s guitars and drums adds even more depth to the song, proving again what makes ‘…And Scene’ another part of a whole that any indie punk and rock fan will enjoy.

We Are The Finale shows throughout the course of both ‘Well Enough Alone’ and ‘…And Scene’ its musical versatility and its lyrical versatility, too.  The band exhibits just as much musical versatility in ‘The Honeymoon Phase’ which closes the EP.  The band’s use of keyboards throughout the song and the rather bombastic guitar solo incorporated into the song’s bridge adds its own share of depth to the song.  They collectively show something of an 80s influence.  There’s also a bit of a Fall Out Boy influence here, too.  Such a juxtaposition of sounds shows even more than ever the versatility of the band’s abilities and influences.  That versatility by itself makes the song one more good example of what makes The Magic Show Act II: The Turn well worth the listen.  The song’s lyrical side gives it even more depth as Schafer sings, “I’ll rip the ties that bind me to your walls/And I will grab hold of everything and try/To stay on my feet while you’re chasing afer me/Because this war torn heart can’t beat anymore/And I’ve lost my want to pick you off the floor/So stay on your knees and stop chasing after me.”  He goes on to sing of his subject taking the chance to tell a significant other that he/she loves someone in particular.  Yet in the song’s end, he sings, “Now we’ll stay forever broken-hearted/And destined to feel this way.”  It’s almost as if he is saying in regards to his subject that said subject will take the chance to express his/her love for a certain person even though it may be too late and regardless of not getting that chance again.  It’s something of a bittersweet song, when considered from this lyrical angle.  The song’s musical side complements that bittersweet feel, too. the two elements together make for a song that is just as solid as the EP’s opener.  It will leave audiences wanting more in the best possible way.  Audiences will get to hear more as the band has a pair of live dates currently scheduled.

Audiences can hear more from We Are The Finale live now as the band currently has a pair of live dates confirmed.  The band is scheduled to peform a live home town show tomrrow at Rocketown.  It is also schedule to perform at Exit/In in Nashville, TN on January 17th.  Audiences can purchase tickets for both shows online now and get the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/WeAreTheFinaleband. Audiences can also keep up with all of the latest from the band online via Twitter at http://twitter.com/wearethefinale.  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.

Set It Off’s “Duality” Is A Solid Sophomore Effort

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off releases its brand new full-length studio effort Duality today.  The album, the band’s second full-length release and fifth overall release is an impressive new work. That is because it does so much to continue establishing the band’s identity, separating it even more from other bands to whom it had been compared early on in its existence.  While the band exhibits quite a bit of growth on this album, it also hasn’t lost the sound that made it so popular early on among its fan base.  That makes Dualityeven more of a solid new recording from Set It Off.  The combination of the band’s musical growth is evident in the album’s lead single ‘Why Worry.’  The band’s harder edged sound is present in this song.  But there is also a poppier sound mixed into the whole.  That balance of sounds alongside the song’s thought provoking lyrics makes clear why this song was chosen as the album’s lead.  Staying on a similar page, audiences will also enjoy ‘Tomorrow.’  Its Jimmy Eat World style sound crosses with its equally optimistic lyrics to make this song just as much of a surefire hit with listeners.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ is sure to ignite just as much of a fire in listeners because of its intensity both musically and lyrically.  These songs are just a few that exhibit what makes Dualitya solid second full-length release from Set It Off.  The album’s other eight tracks are sure to become favorites to listeners in their own right, too.  Collectively, all eleven tracks on Duality prove just why audiences will want to check out this latest release from Set It Off regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.

Duality is a record that every lover of rock should hear regardless of their familiarity with the band and its sound.  ‘Why Worry,’ the album’s lead single, takes the sound that made the band a fan favorite early on and mixes it with a somewhat more poppy, Fall Out Boy style sound in its chorus to make a song that proves to be quite catchy musically speaking.  The song’s positive lyrics make this piece even more enjoyable.  Front man Cody Carson sings in the song’s opening verse, “This sinking feeling sets/It feels just like a hole inside your chest/I know you’re thinking No, no, no, no it is easier said than done/But please let me attest/I know it’s hard/You’re feeling like you’re trapped/But that’s how you react/When you cannot see the light/But try and see the light/I’m telling you no, no, no, no you’re the only one/Standing in your way/Just take a breath/Relax/And tell me….Why/Please tell me why do we worry.”  The song comes across as addressing those individuals that think to themselves “Oh woe is me.” Carson says to those people in an attempt to motivate them, “You’re the only one/Standing in your way.”  The song’s second verse in which Carson sings about handling each day’s difficulties as they come rather than trying to cross bridges that don’t yet exist.  It proves to be quite the enlightening work and uplifting at the same time.  The addition of the song’s catchy hooks and choruses make it even more enjoyable and clearer why it was chosen as the album’s lead single.  Thanks to a partnership with Fuse TV, audiences can check out the song’s brand new companion video online at http://www.fuse.tv/videos/2014/10/set-it-off-why-worry-premiere. 

‘Why Worry’ was an excellent first choice to represent what Duality has to offer audiences.  Its combination of catchy hooks and choruses alongside its positive lyrics will both move listeners and get them moving.  Much in the same vein, ‘Tomorrow’ offers its own enjoyment and positivity.  Intended or not, this song exhibits something of a Jimmy Eat World style sound in its musical side.  Lyrically, it is just as uplifting as ‘Why Worry.’  Carson sings in this song, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise/Tomorrow/We’re the authors of our lives tomorrow.”  Carson’s note that there’s always another “bittersweet blessing in disguise” is such a short statement.  But it speaks volumes.  He is saying that even things that seem bad could be blessings in disguise. And those hidden blessings are what make tomorrow better than today.  It is truly a positive message.  It is a message from which audiences of all ages can take some heart and hope.  That positive message set against the song’s catchy musical side makes it another of the best of this record’s moments.

The positive messages and catchy music that make up ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Why Worry’ make these songs two of the brightest moments on Duality.  On the completely opposite side of things, the lyrically searing ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ is certain to get any listener’s adrenaline flowing.  The song’s title and its lyrics leave zero doubt as to what the song’s topic.  It is a full-on lyrical assault on those that would attempt to lie and deceive others.  Those people include those people that call themselves friends but are so fast to stab people in the back among others.  Cody makes this painfully clear as he sings right off the top of the song, “Beware, beware be skeptical/Of their smiles/Their smiles of plated gold/Deceit so natural/But a wolf in sheep’s clothing is more than a warning.”  He goes on to sarcastically use nursery rhymes to illustrate his point.  That use of children’s nursery rhymes as a juxtaposition of children’s mentality to that of older individuals adds even more punch to the song.  And Carson’s diatribe that builds into the song possesses enough vitriol to make Eminem proud.  Though in his defense, who wouldn’t want to scream “Burn in Hell!” to those that have deceived us for one reason or another?  It is a powerful finishing touch to what is one more of Duality’s best moments.    Together with the likes of ‘Why Worry’ and ‘Tomorrow,’ Set It Off has proven once again why it is one of the best in the next generation of its genre.

‘Why Worry,’ ‘Tomorrow,’ and ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ are each excellent examples of what makes Duality a solid sophomore effort from Set It Off.  They aren’t the only positives to this album in whole, though.  The album’s gentle closer ‘Miss Mysterious’ is the polar opposite of the album’s opener ‘The Haunting.’  ‘Bleak December’ also offers its own value to the whole as does ‘N.M.E.’  All things considered, Duality is proof that Set It Off has just started and the future looks bright for this u-and-coming band.  The band will hit the road in support of Duality beginning tomorrow, October 15th in Orlando, Florida on the “Black Mass 2014” tour presented by Hot Topic.  Also along for the ride will be Black Veil Brides, Falling in Reverse, and Drama Club.  The tour brings all four bands to North Carolina next month.  It will make a stop at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  Tickets for the concert can be ordered online via Ticketmaster.  Set It Off’s complete tour schedule is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/setitoff

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.

Set It Off Announces Release Date, Track Listing For New Album

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off will release its new album this fall.

Duality, the latest full length studio release from Tampa, Florida’s own Set it Off will be released Tuesday, October 14th via Equal Vision Records.  Front man Cody Carson explained in a recent interview the root of the album’s title noting that it has to do with the two sides that each person possesses.  “I’ve always been borderline obsessed with the notion of duality. Something about the juxtaposition of two polar opposites seems so vulnerable and blatantly human to me,” he said.  Everyone has two sides, the side they let people see and the side they hide. In this record I decided to bare exactly who I am and what I go through in my day to day life. Love, heartbreak, sex, alcohol, happiness, sadness, anger, the human experience. I want you to hear this record and experience every human emotion you’re capable of feeling,”

Carson expanded on that train of thoughts, explaining how that thought pattern played a role in hwo the songs on this album came to life.  “It’s not just the lyrical content that represents duality,” he said. “The instrumentals portray it as well. You’ll hear dark, minor verses that transition to bright, happy choruses. Just like our lives, the great involuntary, impulsive non-stop roller coaster ride. I’m sick of fake people and watching them skate by with the idea that it’s okay to put on an act to gain confidence and trust in their peers. Allow me to be the first to tell you this about myself: I am good, I am evil. I am solace, I am chaos. I am human, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. Be human with us and show us your true duality.”  Duality’s track listing is noted below.

TRACKLISTING
Duality
1. The Haunting
2. N.M.E.
3. Forever Stuck in Our Youth
4. Why Worry
5. Ancient History
6. Bleak December
7. Duality
8. Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing ft. William Beckett
9. Tomorrow ft. Jason Lancaster
10. Bad Guy
11. Miss Mysterious

In anticipation of Duality’s release, Set It Off teased the album with the premiere of a clip from the video for the single ‘Why Worry,’ which is one of the songs included on the upcoming LP.  That clip can be viewed now here. The band is also currently touring in support of Duality ahead of its release.  It is currently touring alongside Heartist, Our Last Night, and Stages & Stereos.  It will hit the road with Black Veil Brides, and Falling in Reverse beginning October 21st on the “Black Mass 2014 Tour” presented by Hot Topic.  That tour includes a stop at the Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 5th.  The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

TOUR DATES:
Set It Off and Our Last Night w/Heartist and Stages & Stereos
Aug 13 Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock at House of Blues
Aug 14 Fort Worth, TX @ Tomcats West
Aug 15 Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
Aug 16 St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Aug 17 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
Aug 22 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall+

+ OLN 10 Year Anniversary Show: Our Last Night and Set It Off w/Class of 92 (Matt Arsenault of A Loss For Words), Heartist and Stages & Stereos

Black Veil Brides w/Falling In Reverse and Set It Off
Oct 21 Niagara Falls, NY @ Rapids Theatre
Oct 22 Columbus, OH @ The LC Pavilion
Oct 24 St. Paul, MN @ Myth
Oct 25 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
Oct 27 Denver, CO @ The Fillmore Auditorium
Oct 30 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues
Oct 31 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee Theatre
Nov 01 Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre
Nov 03 San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
Nov 05 Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Nov 07 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
Nov 08 Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House
Nov 09 Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
Nov 10 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
Nov 12 Kansas City, MO @ Uptown Theater
Nov 14 Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
Nov 15 Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
Nov 16 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
Nov 17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Nov 19 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Nov 21 Stroudsburg, PA @ Sherman Theater
Nov 22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
Nov 23 New York, NY @ Best Buy Theater
Nov 26 Portland, ME @ State Theatre
Nov 28 Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
Nov 29 Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore Silver Spring
Dec 02 Louisville, KY @ Expo Five
Dec 03 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
Dec 04 Orlando, FL @ House Of Blues
Dec 05 Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
Dec 06 Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
Dec 08 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Orbit Room
Dec 09 St Louis, MO @ The Pageant
Dec 11 Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center
Dec 12 Dallas, TX @ South Side Ballroom
Dec 13 San Antonio, TX @ Backstage Live
Dec 15 Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater

Fans can keep up with the latest tour updates and news from Set It Off online at http://www.facebook.com/setitoffband, http://www.myspace.com/setitoff, and http://twitter.com/setitoff.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at 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.

William Beckett, Set It Off Annouce Spring Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Equal Vision acts William Beckett and Set It Off are hitting the road together in 2014.  They will tour as support acts for We are the In Crowd.  Also on board will be Candy Hearts and State Champs.  Both Beckett and Set It Off have been very busy this year.  Beckett, former front man of The Academy Is, recently released his debut solo full length album, Genuine & Counterfeit.  The record was produced by Marc McClusky (Weezer, Ludo).  It also features guest vocals from Say Anything’s Max Bemis and Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders.  Beckett has toured extensively throughout 2013 to build anticipation for his new album, making his way across the U.S. and Australia alongside Relient K, Hellogoodbye, Rick Springfield, Anberlin, and The Maine, along with the annual Vans Warped Tour.

Set It Off is currently on the road in support of its Equal Vision debut, Cinematics.  The album was originally released in September 2012.  It was later re-issued as an expanded with four extra songs, including two new songs.  The first of those new songs is ‘Partners in Crime.’  It features Ash Costello from New Years Day.  The second of the new tracks included in the CInematics re-issue is ‘Kill The Lights.’  There is also an acoustic version of ‘Dreamcatcher’ on the new re-issue as well as a re-mix of ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.’  The band is expected to enter the studio in 2014 to begin recording its sophomore release.

Both Set It Off and William Beckett have a full slate of tour dates coming up to wrap up 2013.  Equal Vision alumni Chiodos will join Set It Off will join the band on the final dates of its tour before Set It Off and William Beckett join We Are The In Crowd for its tour.  Each band’s tour schedule is listed below.

Set It Off
Dec 14 Norfolk, VA @ The Norva
Dec 15 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
Dec 16 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
Dec 18 West Palm Beach, FL @ Respectables
Dec 19 Orlando, FL @ The Social
Dec 20 St. Petersburg, FL @ State Theater
Dec 21 Jacksonville, FL @ Lava

William Beckett
Dec 28 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
Jan 19 Charlottesville, VA @ University of Virginia

We Are The In Crowd w/William Beckett, Set It Off, Candy Hearts & State Champs
Feb 22 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Feb 23 Toronto, Ont, CAN @ Mod Club
Feb 25 Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop
Feb 26 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar
Feb 27 Pontiac, MI @ The Pike Room
Feb 28 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
Mar 01 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave Bar
Mar 02 Burnsville, MN @ The Garage
Mar 04 Lawrence, KS @ Granada Theatre
Mar 05 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theatre
Mar 06 Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
Mar 08 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Mar 09 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
Mar 11 Sacramento, CA @ Assembly
Mar 12 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Mar 14 Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
Mar 15 San Diego, CA @ Soma Sidestage
Mar 16 Scottsdale, AZ @ Pub Rock
Mar 18 San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit
Mar 19 Dallas TX @ House of Blues-Cambridge Room
Mar 20 Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Downstairs
Mar 22 Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
Mar 23 Orlando, FL @ The Social
Mar 25 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade – Hell Stage
Mar 26 Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
Mar 28 Greensboro, NC @ Greene Street Club
Mar 29 Vienna, VA @ Jammin’ Java
Mar 30 Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
Apr 01 Hamden, CT @ The Space
Apr 02 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
Apr 03 New York, NY @ The Gramercy Theatre
Apr 04 Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall

Fans of Set It Off and William Beckett and Set It off can get all the latest on both bands at the links provided below.

equalvision.com

facebook.com/equalvision

twitter.com/equalvision

blog.equalvision.com

williambeckettmusic.com

facebook.com/williambeckettmusic

twitter.com/williambeckett

thewilliambeckettblog.com

setitoffband.com

facebook.com/setitoffband

twitter.com/setitoff

setitoffband.tumblr.com

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

Annie Claus A Touching, Romantic Holiday Flick For Couples

Courtesy:  Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/Sonar Entetainment/Hallmark Channel

Courtesy: Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment/Sonar Entetainment/Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Channel’s latest holiday movie, Annie Claus is Coming to Town is a good holiday romance movie for any young happy couples and hopeful happy couples to be.  The near ninety minute movie offers a new twist on the classic romance genre by giving it a holiday twist.  In this newest entry into the world of romance movies, audiences are introduced to young Annie Claus (played by Maria Thayer).  Annie’s story is set off when Mrs. Claus (Vicki Lawrence—Mama’s Family, The Carol Burnett Show) reveals that Santa is getting ready to retire and has to pass on the mantle of Santa to the next generation.  So being the next generation, Annie is sent out to try and find a love interest who could potentially become the next Santa.

As cheesy as it may be, it’s fitting that Annie ends up in a place that is the “polar” opposite (and yes that bad joke was fully intended) of the North Pole when she finds her way to sunny California.  Annie stays at the Candy Cane Inn (insert rim shot here), during her time in California. The inn is run by Lucy (Vivica A. Fox—Independence Day, Set It Off, Soul Food).  It doesn’t take long for the pair to become friends.  She also gets to know one of her soon to be love interests in Ted (Sam Page) when she takes a job at a small toy store that’s struggling to survive.  Of course, what story is complete without some conflict?  Another potential love interest comes into play.  But there’s a catch with this other man that at its roots hints back to certain other holiday movies.  Audiences will have to discover that catch on their own.  Of course, the second man who comes into the picture leads Annie to have to make a tough choice.  It’s a choice that could greatly impact the very fate of Christmas around the world.

Being that it’s a Hallmark Channel movie, audiences know that Annie Claus is Coming to Town will have a happy ending.  It’s that ending that makes it a good movie for any happy couple or hopeful happy couple to be during the holiday season.  It shows also the classic themes that love can be found in the most unlikely of places and that true love will always prevail.  One only needs to follow one’s own heart.  Annie Claus is Coming to Town is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Hallmark Channel online store at http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/shop/default.aspx.

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.

Set It Off’s Debut LP A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off released its new EP, Horrible Kids earlier this year.  Now the Tampa, Florida based band has followed up the success of that EP with an equally successive outing in its debut full length record for Equal Vision Records in the form of Cinematics.Cinematics boasts the same elements that made the band’s previous EP such a success.  Its melodic hard rock vibe carries all the requisite hooks and choruses throughout each song, making for an album that has more than its share of high points.  One of those high points comes in the form of ‘Plastic Promises.’  Sure it’s another song about a breakup.  But the combination of a near ska sound mixed in with the band’s hard rock vibe makes it one of those songs that will grow more and more on listeners with each listen.  Front man Cody Carson sings about a woman who has obviously done him quite a bit of wrong.  He sings, “Tell me/What am I to do with a double dose of you/Her lips are the gun/And her tongue are the bullets/She could save a life/But she took mine away instead.”  Early in the song, he sings about how she tried to lie to him, with her fingers crossed behind her back as he packed his stuff to move out.  So this was obviously not a good relationship.  It’s the kind of situation to which many more people than would like to admit can relate.

Another of the high points that’s equally relatable comes in ‘Freak Show.’  This is one of those songs to which the band’s younger audiences especially can relate.  Every person goes through a time in their life when they feel like an outcast, like a circus side show attraction so to speak.  The title of this song and its lyrics are a fitting combination.  Carson sings about feeling like a circus freak put on display for everyone to gawk at.  Yet despite feeling that way, there’s a definite sense of defiance as he sings, “You’ll never break me/You’ll never change me…I’ve waited 10 long years/To tell you I’m fearless/You don’t understand/I’ve become who I am/You know you can’t break me.”  That’s a sentiment that not only young listeners should harken, but adults, too.  Even in our adult years, there are bullies out there would like to treat others in similar fashion.  So even for adults, this is a good song.

The album’s closer, ‘The Grand Finale’ is in fact a grand finale.  It’s the most brutal of the songs on this LP.  Lyrically, it’s quite interesting.  What Carson is singing about here is left to interpretation.  But it comes across as something similar to an end of days scenario.  It doesn’t come across as the brightest of scenarios.  But musically, any true rocker or metal head will find this track to be one of their favorites, if not their favorite from this the band’s Equal Vision Records debut.   It’s just one more example of what makes the entire album a success from start to finish.  It’s available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online via the Equal Vision store at http://equalvision.merchnow.com/ or on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/set-it-off/id124991353.  After picking up the band’s new album, fans can also go online to the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/setitoffband and its official website, http://www.setitoffband.com to find out where they can see the band live as it tours in support of Cinematics.

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Heartist A Solid Mix of Metalcore And Emo

Courtesy: Roadrunner Records

Southern California based Heartist is a good fit on Roadrunner Records’ current artist roster.  And it’s an equally good fit for fans of bands the likes of As I Lay Dying, My Chemical Romance, and Set It Off.  The way that the band melds together its guitars and screaming vocals with the more melodic keyboard parts and actual singing makes the band’s debut EP, Nothing You Didn’t Deserve a record that metalcore and emo fans will appreciate.

Nothing You Didn’t Deserve opens with its lead single, ‘Disconnected.’  Front man Bryce Beckley writes in this song, “Can you remember/What brought us here/Or are you just as/Lost as I am?”  He goes on in the chorus, writing, “I’m disconnected from the ones above/I’m disconnected from the ones/Who fell in between/And I stray from this pathway/Though there’s still nothing/Left of me.”  The introspective nature of these lines will get any listener thinking.  It comes across as giving the vibe of someone feeling emotionally alone and lost in the world.  It’s the sort of lyrical topic to which younger audiences will easily relate.

On a different note, the band takes a different road on ‘Rhinestone.’  This time, the band seems to take the more traveled road with what comes across as a song based on a broken relationship.  Again, front man Beckley’s vocals capture the emotion of a person having finally gotten to the point after a breakup of realizing what was really wrong in the relationship.  In an odd sense, it’s almost sort of a self-empowerment moment.  Beckley sings on this track, “I should have learned/From the things that/I told myself/I’d never do/All along/The liar was you/Show your true colors/Let them see.”  This could easily be used from the angle of either a male or female, as there’s no gender assigned to the song.  Again, as young listeners are just finding themselves, this is a very good song for them.  It will serve as a big help for them as they navigate the rough waters that are personal relationships.

Both ‘Rhinestone’ and ‘Disconnected’ offer their own takes on the trials and tribulations of life.  The topics served up in this record mixed with the music make it easily accessible to the band’s key audience.  And it gives those same audiences something to build the hype over the eventual release of the band’s Roadrunner debut.  In the mean time, audiences will get the chance to see the band live this Fall and Winter as it hits the road on the “It’s Now or Winter” tour alongside a handful of other acts.  The band will kick off its tour in San Bernardino, CA on November 24th before making its way down the West Coast and to Texas.  From there, the band will make stops in Georgia and Tennessee before making its way through the Midwest and Northeast.  Fans can get a full tour itinerary along with all the latest news on the band online at http://www.heartistband.com and http://www.facebook.com/HeartistBand.

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.