Rock and Roll Purists Will Enjoy Big Engine’s Latest LP

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Jacksonville, Florida-based rock band Big Engine will release its debut record for Pavement Entertainment August 19th. The album, Shot Like a Rocket, is an album that provided it gets coverage from radio programmers, will be rather aptly titled. The fourteen songs that make up this record are a good fit for anyone that is a fan of classic rock from the late 80s and early 90s. Right from the album’s opener ‘Party Like a Rock Star,’ the band will instantly grab audiences with its straight forward, driving sound and equally no nonsense lyrics. The equally rocking ‘Burn It Down’ will have listeners singing and clapping along just as much whether in their living rooms, cars or at the band’s live shows. For all of the energy exuded by Shot Like a Rocket, it also has its more subdued moments. One of the most interesting of those tracks is titled ‘Not Your Fool.’ This track is quite the interesting piece considering the juxtaposition of its searing lyrical content against its more subdued musical side. These songs and the remaining nine not noted here come together to make Shot Like a Rocket a musical ride that any rock and roll purist will enjoy with every listen.

The members of Big Engine give quite the first impression on its Pavement Entertainment debut. ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ is an infectious, full on rock and roll anthem that will be a favorite among audiences whether they’re listening to it in their car or home or singing along with the band’s legions of fans at one of its live shows. The band’s founding members—Tony Mikus and Hans Oellerich—sing about the rock and roll lifestyle here, singing, “I’ve been waiting/For the weekend/To chase these blues away/I’m gonna set my soul in motion/Forget all about these bills I’ve gotta pay/I’m gonna call upon my good friends/Say meet me downtown/No matter where I’m going/It’s time to shake it up/It’s time to get down/I’m gonna sing along/To every song/All night long/Dance on the bar/And play our guitar/And party like a rock star.” This theme of just letting loose after the rigors of the work week is one to which so many people can relate. And who hasn’t wanted to just go all out like that, singing their favorite songs, playing their air guitar? The ability of the band to reach its audiences here both lyrically and musically leaves no doubt that this was the perfect choice for the band’s very first introduction.

‘Party Like a Rock Star’ was a no-brainer for a first impression from Big Engine for its new album. It’s only one of the songs from this record that serves as a solid example of what audiences can expect overall. Another good example of what audiences can expect from this record comes late in the record in the form of ‘Burn it Down.’ This piece has much the same energy as ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ and much the same theme of just letting loose. Mikus and Oellerich sing in this piece, “It’s too late to turn around/Gotta keep my head above ground/Gonna get crazy tonight/No sleep/Runnin’ on adrenaline/I can’t stop/No, I won’t give in/Rockin’ is our policy/And I don’t give apologies/Yeah, we’re gonna party tonight/Well we get a little crazy/And we raise a little hell/then we leave this town/With a story to tell/Gonna raise our mugs/yeah, yeah/We’re gonna drink ‘em down/yeah, yeah/We’re gonna fire it up/We’re gonna burn it down.” This classic lyrical rock and roll theme goes on throughout the remainder of the song. And again, the imagery is classic rock and roll in every way. It would be so easy to see a video companion to this song, with footage of the band out in random bars, playing on stage to huge crowds, etc. Not only that, but it’s just as easy to see this song being as anthemic as ‘Party Like a Rock Star.’ It’s one more of so many songs on this record that any rock and roll purist will enjoy on this record.

Both ‘Party Like a Rock Star’ and ‘Burn It Down’ are good examples of just how much Shot Like a Rocket has to offer audiences. There is one more example of how much this record has to offer audiences in ‘Not Your Fool.’ The song centers on a bad breakup. But the juxtaposition of its lyrics against its musical side is really what makes it stand out. Most songs that are centered on breakups generally have a relatively emotional musical backing. This song is no different in that arena. However, listening to the song’s lyrical side, one can’t help but wonder why the band didn’t option for something more up-tempo, musically speaking, in order to match the song’s searing lyrics. Mikus and Oellerich sing in this song, “You’ll find somebody new/With sympathetic ears/And arms open wide/Yeah someone new to use/Say what they wanna hear/Tear them up inside/And there’s so much I could say/And we could scream and shout/You know I could go on and on but/I’m not your fool anymore/I’ve been there too many times/To pick you up and say/It’s alright this time.” There’s a certain sarcasm and cynicism about these lyrics. And that vibe makes one feel like the song’s musical side should have more power about it. Ironically enough, the more subdued sound that takes its place actually makes it just as impactful. That’s because it creates more of a sense of someone being completely fed up with a certain situation. The end result is a song that has just as much power as any standard breakup song if not more power. That power shows why this song is one more prime example of what makes Shot Like a Rocket an album that any rock and roll purist will enjoy.

Big Engine will release its new album Tuesday, August 19th. In celebration, it already has a handful of live shows scheduled for August. The first of those dates is a two-night stand at The Legendary Boot Hill Saloon in Daytona Beach, FL on August 22nd and 23rd. The band will be in Homosassa, Florida on August 24th and Sanford, Florida on August 31st. Audiences can keep track of Big Engine’s tour schedule and all of its latest news online now via its official website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Reverb Nation page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog.

Wovenwar Debuts New Single

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Wovenwar premiered its new single Monday.

Wovenwar premiered its new single, ‘Profane’ yesterday on the official website of Revolver Magazine. Audiences can stream the video now through the magazine’s now at http://www.revolvermag.com/news/wovenwar-premiere-new-song-profane.html. The single comes from the band’s upcoming self-titled debut record. The album will be released worldwide via Metal Blade Records next Tuesday, August 5th. After checking out the band’s new single, fans can also leave their thoughts on the song in the “comments” section of the site. Fans can also check out two other songs from Wovenwar’s upcoming album—‘All Rise’ and ‘The Mason’—and four In Studio videos filmed by the band through the band’s Metal Blade Records website, http://www.metalblade.com/wovenwar. Fans will get to hear the album in its entirety this Friday, August 1st when the album stream goes live ahead of its release in store and online.

Wovenwar is currently touring in support of its upcoming album alongside Black Label Society. That tour wraps next Monday, August 4th. After that, the band will take a couple of days off before playing a trio of album release shows August 7th and 8th. The third show will be at Phil Sgrosso’s new club, Brick By Brick. Fans that come out to that show will have the chance to hang out with the band, celebrate the album’s release, and even have the chance to win prizes provided by Wovenwar, Metal Blade Records, MotorCult, and Dirtbag Clothing. Fans that attend the band’s August 8th show at Soma can use those ticket stubs to get into the show at Brick By Brick for free. Others get in for five dollars. The Brick By Brick show is a 21+ show. The band will also perform Saturday, August 9th at the famed Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. The full schedule of performances is listed below.

08/07 – Anaheim, CA: Chain Reaction Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: SOMA (side) Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: Brick By Brick – **Wovenwar Album Release Party** Tickets — Here.

If fans aren’t able to make it to any of the shows noted above, they can still catch the band live at the famed restaurant Grill ‘Em All in Alhamba, CA. Details on that upcoming show will come soon. Fans will also get plenty of chances to see the band live as it tours in support of its debut album. It is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour. It will be in Indianapolis, IN tomorrow. That date will be followed with performances in Texas and new Mexico. It all wraps with the band’s upcoming shows in California. After that, the band will take some time to rest before kicking off the European leg of its tour on August 15th at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Germany.

All of the latest tour updates, news and more from Wovenwar is always available online at http://www.wovenwar.com, http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar and http://twitter.com/WOVENWAR. 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.

Battlecross Announces Tour With Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Epica

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The members of Battlecross announced Monday that the band will embark on a North American tour this fall in support of its latest album War of Will.

Battlecross will join Machine Head, Epica, and Children of Bodom beginning Saturday, October 4th in Denver, Colorado. Tickets for the band’s joint tour will go on sale this Friday morning at 10am ET. Battlecross guitarist Tony Asta discussed in a recent interview, his thoughts on touring alongside Children of Bodom and Machine Head once again and with Epica for the first time ever. “What an honor to be on this tour!,” he said. “We’re really stoked to reunite with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, both legendary bands and friends from last summer’s Mayhem Fest, and to see what Epica is all about. This is a tour with something for every metal head and we can’t wait to be bring it brutal throughout the USA & Canada, banging heads and melting faces from coast-to-coast.See you in the pit!”

Before Battlecross makes its way across America this fall, the band will join Black Label Society in Mexico City before performing a trip of dates with Killswitch Engage and Memphis May Fire in Brazil. Hiran Deraniyalaga, who also plays guitar for Battlecross, commented on the upcoming performances. “What a year this has been for us so far,” he said. “We’ve been to Europe twice and now we’re going to Mexico and South America! We’re so honored to be invited to play with Black Label Society in Mexico City. We have so many loyal rabid fans there and we finally get to play for them! After that we fly to Brazil for three dates with our good friends Killswitch Engage, who we can’t thank enough for always inviting us out for awesome opportunities like this one. Get ready to rage my friends! This will be one for the books!”

The schedule for Battlecross’ upcoming tour with Machine Head, Children of Bodom, and Epica is listed below.

Battlecross
Tour w/ Machine Head, Children of Bodom, Epica
10/04 Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall
10/06 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Dallas
10/07 Houston, TX @ House of Blues Houston
10/09 Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
10/10 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
10/14 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
10/15 Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
10/16 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
10/17 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – Rock and Shock festival
10/18 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
10/20 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
10/21 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave II
10/22 Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
10/23 Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret
10/24 Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre
10/25 Calgary, AB @ The Republik
10/26 Edmonton, AB @ Shaw Conference Centre
10/28 Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theater
10/29 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
10/30 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
10/31 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
11/01 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
11/02 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues

Battlecross
Summer Headline Tour w/ IKILLYA
07/30 Reading, PA @ Reverb
07/31 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room
08/01 Hartford, CT @ Webster Underground
08/02 Albany, NY @ Bogies
08/03 Ottawa, ON*** @ Mavericks
08/04 Quebec City***, QC @ L’Agitee
08/05 London, ON*** @ Rum Runners
08/06 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
08/07 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
End tour
08/08 Louisville, KY** @ Expo 5
08/09 Birch Run, MI @ DIRT Fest
08/10 Libertyville, IL** @ Austin’s
** w/ Killswitch Engage
***w/ Crimson Shadows & IKILLYA
Battlecross
South American tour dates
w/ Black Label Society
08/20 Mexico City*** @ Jose Cuervo Salon

w/ Killswitch Engage & Memphis May Fire
08/22 Curitiba, Brazil @ Music Hall
08/23 Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Carioca Club
08/24 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil @ Circo Voador

All of the latest news and tour updates from Battlecross is available online at http://battlecrossmetal.com, http://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal, and http://twitter.com/battlecross. 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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Judas Priest Back In A Big Way On Redeemer Of Souls

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Judas Priest’s new album Redeemer of Souls is one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. As a matter of fact, it is, in this critic’s eyes (and ears) a contender for the top spot on said list. The only other album that can even come close right now to vying for that spot is Black Label Society’s Catacombs of the Black Vatican. What makes Redeemer of Souls such a top notch album despite its slightly touchy production is its mix of music and lyrics. Musically, this album has been likened to previous hit Priest albums including: British Steel, Nostradamus, and Painkiller just to name a few. That it could be compared in such positive light to so many other of the band’s releases is a statement in and of itself. Lyrically, it covers some interesting themes throughout the course of its thirteen tracks and sixty-two minutes. One of those themes is of standing up for what one believes. That topic comes in the album’s fourth track ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Another interesting topic is that of the tribute paid to the fans of sorts in the album’s lead single ‘March of the Damned.’ Late in the album, front man Rob Halford and his band mates cover an interesting topic in ‘’Hell & Back.’ The topic in question is one of the band’s survival through the years. Or it would seem so at least. Regardless, its lyrics and music together make for one more prime example of why Redeemer of Souls is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums. That argument is made even stronger through the two songs noted before it and through those pieces not noted. Altogether, this album is proof that Judas Priest is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today.

Judas Priest has proven without a shadow of a doubt on its new album that it is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today. It has done so through an album that is easily one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums in Redeemer of Souls. One example of why this album deserves such recognition comes early on in the album in the form of ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Musically, it is a full on, rocker that comes across as being about false leaders and standing up for one’s own beliefs. As audiences will hear, front man Rob Halford sings here, “When men lead by words that are false as they preach/Fatality waits in the wings/Surrounded by fools behind walls that are breached/Beware of the jester that sings.” Right there, audiences are led to infer that Halford and company are singing about said false leaders. And those leaders don’t necessarily have to include religious leaders, either. They can include political leaders, too. Halford and company go on to sing, “Stand tall/Rise up/Stay strong/Fighting your enemies/Truth will find its reward/If you live and die by the sword/The whispers can’t hide when the tongues are let loose.” Listeners might get from this verse a message of not giving up against certain insurmountable odds. They come across as telling audiences don’t just give in like sheep to the words of those false leaders and to stand up to said leaders and those that would harass an individual for having views other than their own. This could very well be the wrong interpretation. It is merely the interpretation of one single critic. If it is at least somewhere in the ballpark though, it once again serves as solid proof of why this record is one of the year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums.

‘Sword of Damocles’ is just one many examples of what makes Redeemer of Souls one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. With its mix of adrenaline-fueled music and thought provoking lyrics, this song is an instant hit. The album’s lead single, ‘March of the Damned,’ is just as solid a choice for a single. As guitarist Glenn Tipton explains, this song is simply about the fans that come to the band’s shows. There’s no deep, hidden message for the religious right wingers to hunt for. It is for all intents and purposes a tribute to those fans. Halford sings against the song’s driving guitars and drums, “Can’t stop us/They don’t know why/They try/Can’t hurt us/We’ll never die/We are on the march of the damned…We know what’s at stake/Won’t take your mistakes/Won’t break us/We’ll never fall/That’s all/It’s over/Just watch us crawl.” Referencing Tipton’s statement about the song again, these lyrics illustrate quite well exactly what he was saying. They come across as a collective statement from the band’s fans saying that they don’t care what anyone says. They are fans for life. It is easy to see why this anthem was chosen as the album’s lead single. It’s a powerful statement from an album that could be the last from one of metal’s most legendary bands.

‘March of the Damned’ is a powerful statement from the members of Judas Priest. It puts expertly into words the devotion of the band’s fans regardless of their fans’ ages. It’s especially fitting that there’s no telling whether or not this will be the band’s last album, especially considering that some years ago, Halford and his band mates said they were through touring. Yet once more the band has in fact hit the road in support of another album. Speaking of being on the road, ‘Hell & Back’ will have audiences wondering if perhaps this tour will be the band’s last. Halford ruminates on the band’s past here, singing, “Still in the land of the living/Rocking the home of the brave/Staying alive and still kicking/Ain’t got no need to be saved/Out of the fire and into the black/We’ve been through it all/We’ve been to hell and back.” The song’s musical side is not the high-powered, straight forward piece that the previously noted songs prove to be. But set against the song’s lyrics, one can clearly see the song’s chorus and verses play out clearly in one’s own mind. That clarity will again lead one to wonder about the band’s future after this album and tour. If it proves to be the last for the band on both counts, then this song will have proven to be one more powerful statement from the band. And along with each of the album’s other songs—both noted and not—it is one part of a whole that is easily one of the top two new hard rock and metal albums of the year.

Judas Priest will kick off the U.S. leg of its tour in support of Redeemer of Souls this fall beginning Wednesday, October 1st in Rochester, NY. The band’s current tour schedule is listed online along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest, http://twitter.com/judaspriest, and http://www.judaspriest.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 Pop Ups’ Latest LP Is Fun For Children and Children Of The 80s

Courtesy:  Pop Up City Records

Courtesy: Pop Up City Records

Appetite for Construction, the latest new release from kindie-pop rock band The Pop-Ups is an interesting work. The twelve-track album from the Brooklyn, NY based band will take parents all the way back to the 1970s and 80s with its mix of sounds all while celebrating the joys of childhood with its lyrical side. That lyrical side will also entertain parents as it will take them back to their own childhoods with songs such as ‘Craft Night,’ ‘Costume Party,’ and ‘All These Shapes.’ That these songs and those not mentioned could reach audiences of so many ages and entertain them at the same time proves once more why children’s music can be and often is just as good as anything crafted specifically for grown-ups.

The Pop Ups’ latest album is such a joy for parents and children alike because of its ability to reach audiences of all ages. It reaches so many audiences thanks to a combination of music and lyrics that takes listeners back to the 1970s and 80s musically while celebrating the joys of childhood through various avenues. One of the best examples of that mix comes late in the album in the form of ‘Craft Night.’ The duo—Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein—sing about the fun of creating a picture collage. They sing about sitting at a table, taking those old tubes of glue, and gluing pictures to sheets of construction paper. Anyone that ever did this as a kid will understand and appreciate this song just as much as any child today provided schools still teach children about making collages. The men sing, “Can you find some macaroni/Glitter too/Find some pink construction paper and some glue/And you’ll make some beautiful things on craft night/Beautiful things that’ll make the world delight.” They go on to sing about cutting out a heart and combining that with the glitter and macaroni to make a child’s own work of art. From there, the pair sings about finger painting and other crafts. Any parent that ever took part in such craft making as children will be taken back in time thanks to such vivid imagery. And any children that actually still take part in such activities in schools today—apparently there are children that focus more on computer-based learning than on arts and crafts—will relate to it just as much. The addition of an old school 1970s/80s sound will entertain parents just as much. The end result is a song that as already noted, is just one prime example of what makes ‘Craft Night’ one of so many examples of the joy offered on this record.

Sitting down and making arts and crafts has been a time-honored tradition for children for generations. Hopefully it hasn’t become an entirely extinct tradition considering the increased emphasis being placed on computer-based learning in schools across the country. Just as much of a time-honored tradition among children is that of the costume party. Boys and girls alike dress up all the time. And their parents did, too. Such a tradition crossing generations, it makes for another great topic for a children’s song. Thus the aptly titled ‘Costume Party’ in which the duo sings of getting dressed up in different outfits. It’s one that both boys and girls will enjoy. That’s because there’s mention of girls getting dressed up in princess dresses and of boys getting dressed in a relative’s clothes. That set against the song’s 80s pop vibe will help the song to connect both with kids and their parents. Speaking of 80s pop, parents that grew up in the 80s will also appreciate the equally creative ‘All These Shapes.’ That song is one more piece from this album that serves as a solid example of what audiences have to expect from this record.

‘All These Shapes’ is another piece that is set against a 1980s era sound for all the grown-up children of the 80s out there. Stein and Rabinowitz sing in this song about all the possible things that could be drawn from the shapes. They sing, “What can you make with all these shapes/Little circle magnet on my fridge/Just like a baseball we could pitch/Round as an eye that you could wink/Or a head filled with a brain that thinks/Could be a planet or the moon/A floating helium balloon/Maybe a wheel to steer a car/Or the top of a big ol’ pickle jar.” Parents will appreciate how this song really encourages thinking and creativity. And they will also appreciate that in its own right, that emphasis on creativity makes the song itself creative. It’s just one more piece that shows the extent of creativity and originality that fills this record. There are nine other tracks that display that creativity and originality just as much as this song and those previously noted. Audiences will be able to hear those songs for themselves when Appetite for Construction is released next month.

Appetite for Construction will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 19th.  It can be downloaded online via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/appetite-for-construction/id899582693.  The Pop Ups will hit the road in support of its new album beginning Wednesday, August 6th at 4pm ET at The Springfield Museum in Springfield, MA. From there, The Pop Ups will head to New York, New York for a performance at Riverside Park on August 7th. A complete listing of The Pop Ups’ current tour schedule is available online along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.thepopups.com, http://www/facebook.com/thepopups, and http://twitter.com/thepopups. 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.

D-Day’s Sunken Secrets Is Another Important Chapter In The History Of WWII

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets is another invaluable program for anyone that has any interest in the history of World War II or in military history in general.  As informative as the program is, one can’t help but note that it perhaps could have benefitted from a different title.  That’s because most of the program focuses more on the operations of Operation Overlord than on the sunken remnants of the Normandy invasion.  That isn’t to say that that moment in time is completely avoided.  But it doesn’t focus on that aspect near as much as one might be led to believe by the program’s title.  That aside, it is still an interesting piece of World War II history that adds yet another chapter to one of the biggest operations in military history that might otherwise not have been known by some.  And that’s just the beginning.  Audiences will be interested, too to discover that the program’s narrator is himself a WWII veteran who was also there on D-Day.  And last to note is the use of vintage footage against modern video of Normandy today to help illustrate the story of what happened on D-Day and the days that followed.  Each factor plays its own important role in the overall success of this presentation.  Together, they make a program that while perhaps improperly titled, still is an important story that needed to be told.

The first aspect of NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets the fact that it reveals another chapter of sorts to the story of the D-Day invasion.  It reveals a part of that history that might not have otherwise been known.  Everybody knows about the initial invasion by Allied forces.  And sometimes discussed by historians is the immense planning that led up to the invasion.  However, many might not know that then general Ike Eisenhower actually wrote a letter taking full blame for the operation should it fail.  Interestingly enough, whether or not the initial operation actually failed comes up between a military veteran and a military historian.  The true irony is that the veteran, when posed with the question actually says that in his own view, the operation did in fact fail.  He notes that it failed in that the men that took the beachhead went without the air coverage or the planned naval coverage, either.  Add in changing tides, much like at Dieppe, and the argument is made that while Allied forces eventually took the beaches of Normandy, the operation was still a failure at least in its planning.  That argument actually makes sense.  Had those men had the planned coverage, it is possible that casualties would have been far fewer among Allied forces.  Just as interesting to note is that German U-boats were still patrolling the waters off of France’s coast even after the initial invasion, which led to its own share of sinkings.  There was also the failure of the “floating tanks” and much more discussed throughout the course of the program’s near two-hour runtime.  All of that and more will definitely keep audiences watching and wanting to learn more about what really happened on D-Day and the days that would follow.  It is but one part of what makes NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets another important addition to the vast history of World War II.

Another important factor to consider in the overall success and enjoyment of this episode is the use of an actual WWII veteran as the program’s narrator.  For that matter, the use of a veteran that fought at Normandy makes it especially interesting. Peter Thomas narrates the program. And while he does quite the job in his role, it is obvious that he does at times become somewhat choked up as he carries out his duty. It could very well be this critic’s own interpretation. But it certainly sounds like he does in fact choke up at times. If that is the case, it’s a welcome change from every documentary out there. It actually adds a certain realism to the program that is sadly lacking in those other programs out there. It adds a more human element for lack of better wording. That human element will pull in viewers even more and lead them to feel at least a modicum of the emotion felt by those that served on that fateful day. It’s one more impressive touch to this program that makes it another invaluable addition to the library of any lover of military history or history in general.

The use of an actual WWII vet that fought on Normandy and the inclusion of even more information on the history of that groundbreaking operation both are key to the overall enjoyment of NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets. The final aspect of the program that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion once again of actual footage filmed as Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. Just as much, audiences will appreciate the use of video illustrations outlining the movements of both Allied and German forces before and after the initial landing and battle to reclaim the beachhead. Viewers will be amazed at the CG recreation of the Allied forces’ man-made harbor and how it worked with the waters off the French coast. The bridges that were created were an engineering feat far ahead of their time. So, even those with an interest in engineering and construction will find something to like about this episode of NOVA. It’s the final touch to another overall impressive albeit slightly mis-titled piece of World War II history.

NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34895296&cp=&sr=1&kw=d+day&origkw=D+Day&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline, http://twitter.com/novapbs, and http://www.pbs.org/nova. 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.

Wovenwar’s Debut Record Puts AILD To Rest At Last

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The self-titled debut record from Wovenwar is a triumphant return for the now former members of As I Lay Dying. The former band recently disbanded after the arrest of its front man Tim Lambesis for a murder-for-hire plot against his now ex-wife. The fallout from the band’s breakout and Lambesis’ arrest was far reaching for fans of AILD. Now thanks to the upcoming release of Wovenwar audiences will find that AILD is gone and from its ashes is a whole new band with a whole new sound. It is a band and sound that while unlike that of AILD is even better than that of that band. The sound on this record is one that promises a hopeful future ahead for Wovenwar. The melodic hard rock sound churned out right off the top in ‘All Rise’ is a clear indicator of this. The straight forward, driving energy of ‘The Mason’ makes for another wonderful addition to this record with its straight forward, driving energy. And or those hoping that the band that was AILD hadn’t lost its full on metal edge, ‘Matter of Time’ will assure them that they most definitely have not. These songs are but a few examples of what makes Wovenwar a welcome new birth for the members of AILD. And it is even more welcome for audiences that have waited with baited breath for this record.

When it was announced that the members of AILD had formed a new band and were hard at work on said band’s debut release, anticipation immediately built for that release. Both the band’s members and audiences alike needed a fresh start what with the black eye brought on by Tim Lambesis’ arrest. Right off the top of the album, the band lives up to all of that anticipation thanks to ‘All Rise.’ This melodic hard rock was the perfect way to open the album. Its pounding drums and shredding guitars are a bridge to what was once AILD while the more melodic vocal style of front man Shane Blay displays the band’s different direction. He sings in this song what may well be a reference to Lambesis’ arrest as he sings, “Who stands the storm and faces/The horrors that darkness breeds/Who will take the life they’re given/And cast light for all to see/Who stands the storm if not the brave/What’s built from cowards that we praise/Who stands the storm if not the brave.” It’s very possible that this could be in reference to comments made by Lambesis regarding his eventually changing views on faith that apparently led to his fate. That argument is made even stronger in the song’s opening verse as Blay sings in the song’s opening verse, “Oh You feel the hunter’s gaze/A shadow even in the dark of night/scheming your early grave/He’s going to leave you dead or dying/Draining all the blood he craves/You never thought you’d be meat for the market/What’d you expect when you sold your name?” One can’t help but wonder if this was directed at Lambesis’ ex-wife considering what is known about their relationship now. It would definitely be interesting to hear the story behind this one. Regardless it makes for a fitting introduction for Wovenwar on its debut album.

‘All Rise’ is a fitting opener for Wovenwar on its debut album. Just as impressive as an example of what audiences can expect from this album is the song ‘The Mason.’ The full on almost speed metal style sound combined with the song’s melodic metal sound makes it stylistically one of the album’s most intriguing moments. Blay shows in this song that he can do more than just sing, too as he screams and sings, “And I/I have caved in/Again but/I’m building from the wreckage.” It’s honestly nice to hear an album that is essentially a metalcore album without so much screaming and growling. Blay is a vocal powerhouse throughout the record. Audiences will agree as they listen to him make his way through the song’s chorus, singing, “We bend, we break, we’re forced to heal/The toll it takes in time revealed/The trial awakes and then creates or tears us down/We bend, we break, we learn to heal/Failings I claim for mason hands to shape/So strike away the grip of past mistakes.” He seems to be saying that things happen, but we have to learn to put the past behind us. As always, that is merely the interpretation of this one critic. It could very well be incorrect. Regardless of wrong or right, one must agree to the depth of these lyrics. That depth and the song’s straight forward, full throttle musical side together make it one more example of just how much Wovenwar has to offer audiences.

‘All Rise’ and ‘The Mason’ are both excellent examples of what audiences have to look forward to on Wovenwar’s upcoming self-titled debut record. They both exhibit both the band’s sound from its previous life as AILD while also exhibiting an obvious musical and lyrical growth at the same time. There is still at least one more example of that growth on the album’s penultimate piece, ‘A Matter of Time.’ This full-throttle piece presents almost a death metal style sound as Blay sings, “We fight to conceal this truth/But it’s all a matter of time/Time/The years wasted/Persuaded to smile/When it feels so wrong inside/How could we let ourselves/Continue this routine/The artificial beat/Of a heart that’s long since ceased.” One can’t help but wonder from what perspective this was written. It comes across as someone suffering from depression and what such person must feel. If that is indeed the case, then it could serve as a starting point for a discussion on such a topic that is all too often swept under the rug. As with the previously noted songs, it would be interesting to learn the story behind its creation. Regardless, it makes for one more great addition to an album that audiences will agree deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Wovenwar will be available Tuesday, August 5th in stores and online. While fans wait for the album to drop, they can hear these songs and more at all of the band’s current live dates including its show tonight at the Minglewood Hall in Memphis, Tennessee. Its current U.S. tour wraps up August 9th at the famed Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. After that, the band will take some time to rest up before kkicking off the European leg of its tour August 15th at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Belgium. Audiences can see the band’s current tour itinerary and keep up with the latest news from the band online now at http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar, http://www.wovenwar.com and http://twitter.com/wovenwar. 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.

Marillion’s “A Sunday Night…” Is A Great Listen For Any Night Or Day

Courtesy:  E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Courtesy: E.A.R. Music/Eagle Records

Marillion’s new live recording A Sunday Night Above the Rain was released in North America this week.  The double-disc recording is a piece that any fan of the veteran progressive rock band will want to add to their personal music library now that it is available to the masses.  The primary reason that audiences will want to add this new live recording to their personal music library is the band’s performance of its most recent album in its entirety along with a handful of other songs to complement the performance.  The second reason that Marillion’s fans will want to add this recording to their personal music libraries is its total run time.  Between its two discs, ASNATR offers audiences just over two hours of music.  The audio quality of those two-plus hours (technically two hours, two point four minutes) is expert.  All three factors together make Marillion’s new live recording well worth the money for any fan of this well-established band.

The central point of the success of A Sunday Night Above the Rain is the fact that the band’s set list in this show is comprised almost entirely of the band’s hit 2012 album Sounds That Can’t Be Made.  That album’s eight total tracks are spread across the record’s two discs.  They are accompanied by a handful of extremely rare songs from the band.  In the case of Marillion, the use of the term rare is not just thrown around.  Rather only perhaps two of those remaining five songs come directly from the band’s previous releases.  And those songs themselves have very rarely been performed live by Marillion.  The others are even rarer.  This makes the recording’s five remaining performances more than just part of the whole.  They become collectively a bonus in and of themselves.  Though, together with the other eight tracks from Sounds That Can’t Be Made, they become bonus material, too.  And that only serves to make this live recording even more enjoyable.

The songs included in Marillion’s set list are on the surface, great additions to the show.  On a deeper level, the very fact that the band would perform one of its albums in its entirety and do so for a live recording is even more important in itself.  That’s because while not entirely unheard of for a band to perform one of its albums in full, a band of such high regard doing so and for so many years as Marillion is less common.  It helps A Sunday Night Above the Rain stand out and establish its own identity even more.  That in turn makes this an even more special record for Marillion’s fans to add to their own home music libraries. All together, the performance of Sounds That Can’t Be Made alongside the rarer songs equals out to a performance time of just over two hours. To be more precise, it equals out to approximately two hours and two point four minutes. That is a lot of music for audiences to enjoy. And along with the last of this recording’s positives—the audio mix—those two factors and the set list together make ASNATR even more a great listen or Marillion’s fans.

The last factor worth noting in the release of ASNATR is the concert’s audio mix. Every concert venue around the world presents its own challenges when it comes to recording concerts.   Whether it be an American venue or one such as Center Parcs in Port Zealande, where this concert was recorded, balancing audio levels both for those in attendance and for potential home release takes painstaking and expert work. And that work paid off in the case of ASNATR. Neither front man Steve Hogarth’s vocals nor the music of his band mates covers the other at any point. Recording/Mix specialist Michael Hunter deserves his share of applause for maintaining that balance even in the recording’s softer moments. He shows that he can handle every moment from beginning to end. The end result is a recording that will allow listeners to capture so many nuances with each listen. The very fact that not every nuance can be caught in just one listen is in itself a testament to Hunter’s talents. Those talents are the finishing touch to a live recording that is one of this year’s best live CD recordings.

The CD side of ASNATR is available now in stores and online alongside its DVD and Blu-ray presentation. Each can be ordered online direct from Marillion’s website at http://www.marillion.com/shop/. They can also be purchased at the band’s upcoming live dates, the next of which will be Friday and Saturday, August 8th and 9th at the Cropredy Convention in Oxford, UK. The band’s latest tour dates are listed online at the band’s official website and Facebook page, http://www.marillion.com and http://www.facebook.com/MarillionOfficial. Fans can also go to either site or to the band’s Twitter page, http://twitter.com/marilliononline to keep up with the latest news from the band. 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.

Rolling Stones’ “Clearly Classic” Vinyls Are Among 2014’s Best Re-Issues

Courtesy:  ABKCO

Courtesy: ABKCO

Early this Spring, ABKCO re-issued to audiences around the world three more of The Rolling Stones’ most beloved albums.  The albums in question are: Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert, 12 X 5, and the band’s hits collection Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  All three titles were re-issued as part of ABKCO’s ongoing “Clearly Classic” series.  And for audiences that prefer the vintage sound of vinyl to the more spit-shined sound of music on a CD or an MP3, these three latest re-issues are the perfect fit.  That sound is only part of what audiences will appreciate in these latest re-issues.  That they have been re-issued with their original artwork makes each vinyl even more enjoyable for fans of The Rolling Stones.  Last but definitely not least of all, each of these re-issues can be purchased by themselves or collectively depending on whether or not one already owns the original vinyls.  All three factors together make these vinyls the year’s top three music re-issues of 2014.

The central point in the enjoyment of ABKCO’s recently re-issued Rolling Stones titles is of course its sound. And it goes without saying that the sound on these re-issues could not be better. The sound is just as wonderful as it was in the vinyls’ original releases.  Only in the case of these “Clearly Classic” re-issues, it actually sounds even better as if it was on CD.  It sounds especially impressive on the band’s live release Get Yer Ya-Yas Out: The Rolling Stones in Concert.  Considering how many years ago that concert was originally recorded, it’s incredible that it sounds as good today as it did then.  Those charged with re-mastering the sound on that concert recording or this new re-issue are to be applauded for their efforts.  Much the same can be said of the sound on both 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).  In the case of the songs on the latter of that pair, they have been added to nearly every one of the Stones’ many hits collections released over the years.  So it’s nice to hear them in one of their earlier hits collections.  There’s just a different quality that can’t be fully put into words.  It is something that must be heard first hand to be fully appreciated.

Audiences will appreciate the sound of the songs on these three latest Rolling Stones re-issues.  The sound on all three vinyls is just as impressive as that of the songs in their CD re-issues. Audiences will also appreciate in these re-issues the fact that they have been presented with their original artwork. There are so many labels out there today that try to revamp albums all the way down to their cover art as a means to market the albums. ABKCO didn’t take that route with these re-issues. It proves once more just how much the company wanted to honor both the historical significance of the albums and the band itself. Even more, it also shows a certain level of respect for the audiences, too. Older audiences will appreciate this as it will add to the sense of nostalgia established through the albums’ re-issues. Younger audiences that might be hearing these releases for the first time will appreciate them more for their historical significance. A comparison of such artwork to that of so many of today’s albums shows a vast stylistic difference. Unlike so many of today’s releases, there is nothing sexy or controversial about these releases’ artwork. That means that the attention will largely be on the music. The end result is a deeper appreciation for music that is plain and simple, real.

The transfer of the Rolling Stones’ original albums from CD back to vinyl on these re-issues is impressive to say the least. The sound quality is just as wonderful as ever. The use of the releases’ original artwork makes the overall listening experience even more enjoyable whether one is new to the world of The Rolling Stones or a far more seasoned fan. There is still one last aspect of these re-issues worth noting in their success. That final aspect in the success of these albums is the ease of purchasing them. They can each be purchased now via Amazon. And all three albums are below the thirty-dollar mark. So they are also affordable for audiences. Considering that many markets lack an indie store where fans could potentially pick up these vinyl re-issues, this ease of ordering becomes an even more important aspect to their overall enjoyment and success. Get Yer Ya-Yas Out can be ordered directly via Amazon at http://smarturl.it/YaYasLP, while 12 X 5 and Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) can be ordered at http://smarturl.it/12x5LP and http://smarturl.it/TTPDVinyl respectively. That cost effectiveness and ease of ordering along with the releases’ artwork and quality sound transfer back to vinyl each partners together in the overall presentation of these releases to make them absolute must haves for any true-blooded Rolling Stones fan. It also makes them three of this year’s top new re-issues.

More information on The Rolling Stones is available online at http://www.facebook.com/therollingstones,http://www.rollingstones.com and http://twitter.com/rollingstones.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.

Wynonna To Appear On NBC’s Hollywood Game Night Thursday Night

Courtesy:  Mitch Schneider Organization

Courtesy: Mitch Schneider Organization

Country music superstar Wynonna will be on TV tomorrow night.

Wynonna Judd will appear tomorrow night at 8pm ET/7PM CT on NBC’s hit celebrity game show Hollywood Game Night. She will be joined by fellow celebrities Johnny Weir, Scott Foley, Leah Remini, Krysten Ritter, and Nick Swardson on tomorrow night’s episode. She and her team won’t be the only ones cying for a win tomorrow night. Audiences will actually have the chance to win a free pair of shoes from Wynonna’s own “Got Soul” line during tomorrow night’s episode. Here’s how: Wynonna and the show’s people will tweet out a question about the episode. Those that answer the question correctly and tag both @Wynonna and @NBCGameNight with the hashtag #WynonnaGame Night will have the chance to win a free pair of shoes. One lucky winner will be chosen this Friday morning. More details on tomorrow night’s contest are available online at http://www.wynonna.com.

Tomorrow night’s appearance on NBC isn’t the only event on Wynonna’s very busy schedule. She is also scheduled to perform the National Anthem Sunday August 3rd at Dodger Stadium before the currently NL West Division leading Dodgers host the Chicago Cubs. And the night before her performance, Wynonna will hold a free concert in Los Angeles as part of the “Country in the City” concert series. The concert is an all-ages show and is presented by KCRW 89.9 FM. The concert series serves to celebrate the Annenberg Space for Photography’s “Country: Portraits of an American Sound” exhibit. The exhibit is currently running and will run through September 28th. Ticket information for all of Wynonna’s shows is available online at http://www.wynonna.com/the-road.html. Wynonna’s current tour schedule is listed below.

Catch WYNONNA & The Big Noise out on the road this summer:

Tue

7/15 Central Point, OR Jackson County Fair
Wed 7/16 Livermore, CA Wente Vineyards
Fri 7/18 Tacoma, WA Emerald Queen Casino
Sat 7/26 Calgary, AB Canada Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
Sat 8/2 Los Angeles, CA Annenberg Space for Photography
Fri 8/8 Rock Hill, SC Old Town Amphitheater
Sat 8/9 Waco, GA Black Tie & Boots Event – Murphy Campus
Thu 8/14 Shreveport, LA Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
Fri 8/15 Robinsonville, MS Horseshoe Casino
Tue 8/26 Scottsdale, AZ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Thu 8/28 Redding, CA Win-River Casino
Fri 8/29 Reno, NV Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
Sat 8/30 West Wendover, NV Peppermill Concert Hall
Sun 8/31 Copper Mountain, CO Copper County Festival

 

To top off everything that Wynonna is currently doing, she and her husband , producer/drummer Cactus Moser, are working on material for her eighth full length studio release. That album is due out in 2015 on Curb Records. She recently sat down with Rolling Stone for an interview and explained what fans can expect from the album. “It’s vintage yet modern,” she says. “It’s hard to explain. A lot of the things I did I’m drawing from, yet the new sound is so simple and so pure. I’m playing instruments on stage that I started playing when I was nine. I’ve never done that in my whole career. So it’s a time of going back to the well and starting over.” The complete interview can be read online now at http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/wynonna-gets-raw-primal-on-life-changing-new-album-20140709.

More information on Wynonna’s tour, album and more is available online at http://www.wynonna.com, http://www.facebook.com/wynonnajudd, and http://twitter.com/WynonnaMusic. 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.