Say Hello To Shalom Sesame Again This Fall

Courtesy:  SISU Home Entertainment

Courtesy: SISU Home Entertainment

SISU Home Entertainment will re-issue the Sesame Street series Shalom Sesame next month.

The twelve-episode series is spread across six discs with two episodes on each disc, all of which chronologically follow the Jewish calendar. It all starts with an introduction to Israel and Hebrew. From there, viewers are taken on a trip through the various important dates on the Jewish calendar with the whole thing culminating in a trip taken by beloved Sesame Street resident Grover and guest star Annelies van der Pol (That’s So Raven, Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast). Throughout the trip, the duo highlights the importance and richness of the Jewish culture and its associated traditions. Each half-hour episode pulls from those traditions and culture in general to teach young American audiences about the Jewish community. The episodes include lessons on Hebrew letters and words, unique sites in Israel, and Jewish values.

It was originally released on DVD October 11th, 2011. The new upcoming re-issue will see the series contained in a thin pack gift box, which will retail for MSRP of $99.95. It will include a free bonus DVD that features two episodes from the classic Shalom Sesame series—“Jerusalem” and “People of Israel.” Also included in this upcoming re-issue is a free 30-day trial of download of the program “Welcome to Israel.” That program is the first episode from the original Shalom Sesame series. It is currently available online at http://www.sisudigital.com.

Along with the main series and its bonus DVD, Shalom Sesame also includes a number of bonus features. There is a trailer for another series titled Grover’s Video Player, sing-alongs and a chance for young viewers to do their own karaoke with songs such as ‘Aleph Bet Song,’ ‘’Rosh Hashanah Hannah (a spoof of Disney’s Hannah Montana), and even the most beloved Sesame Street song of all, ‘Rubber Ducky.’ The catch with that final song is that it is done entirely in Hebrew. And Annelies van der Pol is not the only celebrity to make an appearance throughout the series. Fellow celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing, Matisyahu, Eva Longoria, Christina Applegate, Greg Kinnear, Debi Mazar also make appearances throughout the series.

Shalom Sesame will be available Tuesday, October 14th on DVD. Parents and children can view trailers for the series online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/shalomesesame. More information on Shalom Sesame is available online at
Website: http://www.shalomsesame.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShalomSesame
Parents can also order separate stand-alone episodes of Shalom Sesame online now at http://www.sisuent.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.

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.

Egypt Central Announces Details of Upcoming Compilation Disc

Courtesy:  Fat Lady Music

Courtesy: Fat Lady Music

Egypt Central will release its long-awaited new album this month.

The members of Egypt Central announced this week, the upcoming release of its long-awaited new album Murder in the French Quarter. The band’s latest album will include a total of seven songs. Two of those songs will be previously unreleased pieces. The other five will be previously unreleased demos of songs that were included on the band’s current full length albums—its 2008 self-titled debut and 2011’s White Rabbit.

The members of Egypt Central had a direct hand in the creation of its new compilation. Drummer Blake Allison produced the compilation while bassist Joey “Chicago” Walser developed the compilation’s cover art. The band will count down to the August 19th release of Murder in the French Quarter by debuting a different song from the compilation each day on its official YouTube channel. Allison explained the songs on this record in a recent interview and what audiences can expect from them stating that, “This is a collection of songs in their original versions.” He went on to note that “Before they were dissected and operated on in the studio. These songs are carelessly raw and perfectly imperfect.  EGYPT CENTRAL as we were in our truest form.” Allison added to his discussion by explaining the importance of Egypt Central to his own personal life and how it played a role in the creation of Murder in the French Quarter. “For the rest of my life, I will always know that EGYPT CENTRAL is a gigantic reason why I am the way I am,” he said. “The band helped craft the man, the friend and the musician that I am today.  The friends (and enemies) that I made during my years with EC will forever be my guidelines for good and bad relationships.  Everything was building to Devour the Day, and I know that now, but it would not be possible without EC first.  I am so blessed to have had those experiences.  This new release was so important to me, because it was the completion of a novel.  The final chapter of musical history finding its natural place among the rest of the catalog.  There is no real future without coming to a peace about the past, or at least that’s what the fortune cookie said.”

The band posted an open letter to its fans on the official Egypt Central Facebook page this week regarding its upcoming compilation noting that the band’s fans played a role in the band’s decision to develop this compilation, too. The letter reads as follows: “We have seen your posts, we have read your messages and we are pleased to announce that we’ve gone through all our past sessions and our archives to bring you MURDER IN THE FRENCH QUARTER.  We didn’t want to hold anything back and wanted to give the greatest fans in the world all of the music we had created in one last release.  Blake has gone through every guitar and drum track and produced this ensemble of songs that we hope you all enjoy.”

The track listing for Murder in the French Quarter is listed below.

  1. Enemy Inside (Rock Mix)
  1. Cliche’
  1. Citizen Radio
  1. Over and Under (demo)
  1. Different (demo)
  1. Wake Up In Flames (demo)
  1. Change (demo)

 

More information on Murder in the French Quarter and all of the latest Egypt Central news is available via the band’s official Facebook page and Twitter page. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog, too.

Hammercult’s Sophomore LP Is An Intentionally Over The Top Slab Of Metal

Courtesy:  SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Courtesy: SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Anyone that keeps up with the news of the world each day knows that there is a lot of trouble going on in the Middle East right now. Tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis have really stepped up again in recent weeks as have the attacks. It’s really a sad state of affairs. For all of the negativity coming from that part of the world, at least one positive has come from that war-ravaged land this year. That one positive is the sophomore album from the Tel-Aviv, Israel-based band Hammercult. Steelcrusher, the band’s follow-up to its 2012 debut album Anthems of the Damned, is a full on assault on the ears that will make any purist member of the Metal Nation worldwide proud. The album’s songs are sung with tongue planted firmly in cheek. One look at the obviously intentionally over-the-top album cover, the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page and one listen through this album proves this to be the case. The band pokes fun at the stereotypes placed on metal and its legions of fans from start to finish. The end result is an album that will have audiences both laughing and rocking along throughout every song. One of the best examples of that satire comes in the form of the metal anthem ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ There is also the full throttle song about the stereotypes of metal bands on the road in the album’s penultimate song ‘Heading For War.’ And then there is ‘Unholy Art,’ which seems to poke fun at the stereotypes of metal and hard rock in general created by certain groups. It’s one more example of the works on this record that will again, have audiences laughing and rocking along from start to finish.

Audiences will note in listening to Hammercult’s recently released sophomore album Steelcrusher, that there are some pretty dark sounding songs, lyrically and musically speaking. But the reality of the albums on this record is that they were obviously written with tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek. One look at the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page drives home the argument that the band is anything but the dark, evil entity that others such as perhaps Ghost, Emperor, etc. One piece of evidence in that argument comes in the form of the anthemic ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ Not only does the band encourage the metal legions of the world to put their collective metal horns in the air, it also goes so far as to pay tribute to one of the biggest names in metal in the form of Metallica. Front man Yokir Shochat sings in this full-on anthem, “I’m so wasted/I can’t stand/Grab a *&$$%/Get some #&@%/Speakers blasting through the wall/Master of Puppets and Balls to the Walls.” He goes on later in the song singing to listeners, “Bang your head in full conviction/Raise your fists and show the horns/No remorse or lamentations/Play it loud/Or die/Metal rules tonight/Trends will come and fade away/Heavy metal is here to stay/We are damned but we are free/It’s our way of life/The way it should be/Metal!” That last line sort of echoes AC/DC’s ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ in which front man Brian Johnson sings that “Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution/Rock and roll it will live on.” The song’s speed/thrash metal musical backing will have its fans putting their horns high in the air with pride as they sing along to this metal anthem.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ is one of the highest of points on Hammercult’s new album. It is only one piece of evidence in the argument that despite the band’s speed/thrash metal sound and its seemingly dark lyrics, it should be taken with a relatively large grain of salt. Another piece of evidence in that argument comes late in the album in the song ‘Heading For War.’ Right off the top, Shochat makes that clear once again as he screams, “Thrashing hotels every day/Heads are banging/Ears are bleeding/Raise your hammers/Ready to explode.” He sings in another verse, “Racing to another city/Party hard tonight/Heavy drinking/Never stopping/It’s the only way we stay alive.” These two verses alone more than tell audiences everything that they need to know about this song. If that’s not enough, the song’s chorus makes painfully clear that there’s nothing evil at all about the band or its album. Shochat sings in the chorus, “Heading for the stage, heading for war/Yes, we live or the fight/And die for the cause we believe to be right/Giving it all with fury and force/Spreading the sound of destruction.” Shochat likens being on the road, performing on stage after stage to like being in a war. Though, interestingly enough, one could argue that there is a lightly veiled reference to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians there and the lack of sense in it. Instead of being involved in that conflict though, the band lives and dies for metal in that “battle” to spread metal’s word to the world. If that veiled commentary on the war in the Gaza strip is in fact there, then that double meaning in this verse makes the song in whole all the more interesting. And along with ‘Metal Rules Tonight,’ it makes the album in whole all the more worth the listen, too.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ and ‘Heading For War’ are both prime examples of what audiences can expect from Steelcrusher. Both songs show that despite the album’s similarity to works from the likes of Exmortus, Arch Enemy, and others of that ilk, it actually stands out quite a bit from those bands. There is one more example of the band’s tongue in cheek delivery on this album. That example is the song ‘Unholy Art.’ The band’s commentary is perhaps at its strongest in this song as Shochat and company point the finger right back at those that would judge the metal community, singing, “The blackest hearts and darkest minds/You never know just what you will find/It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art/Dishonored/A branded kind/The masses will burn in the flames of our pride/We’ll rise to our own blackened skies/And devour the worlds/And we’re starting tonight. The band singing together, “It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art” is itself a sarcastic statement. It’s Shochat and his band mates almost laughing as they say, “oh it’s such evil stuff. It’s not for the faint of heart.” Again, it’s just one more example of how firmly in their cheeks the band members’ tongues are planted in this record. The statement of “The blackest hearts and darkest minds” is something of a statement against the stereotypes created by certain groups against the metal masses around the world. Those judgmental groups are so fast to throw the first stone even without knowing the full story or doing their research. It’s such searing commentary in so few words. It makes for one of the most powerful statements of the album’s entire body of songs. Of course together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted) it makes the entire collection of songs an album that any true-blooded member of the metal nation worldwide will enjoy and appreciate.

Steelcrusher is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon or purchased at the band’s next upcoming performance. The band is currently scheduled to perform live August 9th at Brutal Assault in Jaromer, Czech Republic. Audiences can pick up Steelcrusher at that performance, too. More information and tour updates are available online via the band’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. 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.

Fozzy Shows Real Growth On Its Latest P

Courtesy:  Century Media

Courtesy: Century Media

Guitarist Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo) and pro wrestler Chris Jericho have been friends for many years.  The pair’s friendship goes back to the days of Jericho’s tenure on the now defunct WCW.  So it came as not too big of a surprise that the pair’s friendship would eventually lead to the creation of Fozzy in the late 90s.  What has come as a surprise is the success that the band has enjoyed since the release of its self-titled debut back in 2000.  That album was pure covers.  And the use of faux names for the band members made Fozzy appear as little more than a one-off Spinal Tap style project put together by the two friends.  Little would anybody know that almost fourteen years after the release of that album, Fozzy would go on to release four more albums each one separating the band even more from its semi-satirical cover band roots.  Now in 2014, the band has released its fifth full length studio album titled Do You Wanna Start A War.  And it is everything that audiences have come to expect from the band and then some.  Whereas the band’s previous albums were full on hard rock opuses, this album maintains more of a balance between that hard rock sound and a more mainstream feel.  It’s almost as if the members of Fozzy have finally found that “happy, familiar place” on this record.  The end result is a record that offers plenty for audiences in both the rock and hard rock realms of the music industry.  On the hard rock side, audiences have already been offered up a solid slab of hard rock in the form of the album’s lead single, ‘One Crazed Anarchist.’  This song is sure to impress fans of both Fozzy and Ward’s other primary project, Stuck Mojo.  On the more mainstream, radio ready side of things, the band offers a heavy yet uplifting piece in the form of ‘Unstoppable.’  And in the completely radio ready realm, the band offers up the up-tempo yet happy-go-lucky style ‘Tonight.’  These are just a few examples of why Fozzy remains a fan favorite nearly fourteen years after its debut record’s release.  Each of the album’s remaining nine songs plays its own role in the overall enjoyment of this record.  And together with the trio of songs noted here, all twelve tracks on this record collectively make it an album that is sure to impress Fozzy’s fans new and old alike.

Fozzy first built the hype over its new album early this spring with the release of ‘One Crazed Anarchist,’ the lead single from its new album.  There is quite a bit to note concerning this song that makes it work.  Musically speaking, audiences that are familiar with the work of Rich Ward and fellow Stuck Mojo band mate Frank Fontsere will instantly hear the influence of the pair’s work with that band in this song.  Front man Chris Jericho’s vocals are just as powerful as he sings about quite a disturbed individual, singing, “One crazed anarchist/He’s ready to blow/Grenade in his pocket and he’s ready to blow/Finger on the trigger/And he’s waiting to pull/It’s time to deliver and his docket is full.”  The song’s chorus seems to hint at how said individual became what he become as Jericho sings, “How did my love just fade away/Faith and hope/Have gone astray/I can’t run away from the beast/Rip the scab/And set it free/It’s the killer in me.”  Of course, he’s speaking metaphorically about “running from the beast.”  It almost hints at someone that has become an extremist of sorts as a result of having lost everything both physically and emotionally.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the song an even harder hitting piece coming at it from a lyrical angle.  Add in the songs steady crunching guitar line underneath Ward’s primary guitar part and an even deeper emotional impact is created.  One should take into account, too Jericho’s own vocal delivery.  He does quite the job of interpreting the subject’s seeming emotional and psychological state as he sings about the unnamed man.  This serves to make ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ one of the best examples of how much Fozzy has grown over the course of its life.  Audiences can check out the songs video now online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9aKjbRIJ_k.  Just as much of an example of the band’s growth, is the still heavy yet uplifting song ‘Unstoppable.’

‘Unstoppable’ is another example of the growth on Do You Wanna Start A War because while it is a rather heavy song in its own right, it also presents a positive message.  That message is one of self-determination.  The band brought in guest singer Christie Cook for this song.  Her vocals are just as powerful as Jericho’s.  But there’s something that just makes it all perfectly fit here as she sings in the song’s chorus, “You’ll never break me/I’m unstoppable/You’ll never shake me/I’m unstoppable.”  Perhaps it is that certain grittiness in her voice that makes it work.  It’s almost a mix of Lita Ford and Joan Jett, if one can envision such a hybrid sound.  And just as ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ bears its own similarity to Stuck Mojo’s sound, so does this song bear a certain similarity to Stuck Mojo’s ‘Invincble.’  That song in question comes from Stuck Mojo’s most recent release, 2009’s The Great Revival.  One can almost see her on stage with the band, pumping her fist in time with the audience as she sings, “I do just what I want to/Because I know it’s right/Don’t tell me I can’t make it/Won’t down without a fight/Away from my past/Because in my eyes/I can do anything/Now watch me rise.”  This is such an anthemic song.  It is the kind of piece that could easily inspire people in so many situations.  That ability to so easily inspire audiences combined with such a heavy sound make this song one more of this album’s examples of how much Fozzy has grown throughout the years.

Fozzy’s new record shows so much growth from the band. That’s already been evidenced in both the album’s lead single ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ and the driving, uplifting ‘Unstoppable.’ There is at least one more example on this record of just how much Fozzy has come since its earliest days. That example is a song that is perhaps the album’s most mainstream song of all—‘Tonight.’ If ever there was a song that could be used as a radio single it is this song. Jericho and his band mates sing in this arena anthem, “This is our last chance/To show the world/Jus what we’re made of/We’ll bring this town to its knees/And then/We’ll take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly(and stage our battlecry)/Take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly (it’s time).” That positive vibe runs throughout the course of the song. It offers that same sort of inspiration as ‘Unstoppable’ that is sure to uplift audiences and entertain them at the same time. It is one more example, as audiences will hear, of how much this band has grown from little more than a novelty cover band to a serious musical group. And as audiences will hear from the album’s other songs, those songs along with the pieces noted here exhibit that growth even more.

Do You Wanna Start A War is available now in stores. Audiences can currently pick it up at Best Buy and get a free Fozzy bandana with purchase. Fans can also pick up the album at any of the band’s live shows. The band is currently touring alongside Theory of a Deadman in support of its new album and will be in Syracuse, NY next Friday, August 2nd at the Chevrolet Court. The band also has a performance scheduled at the famed Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, September 24th. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news and updates from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/FozzyRock and http://www.fozzyrock.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.

Jefferson Grizzard’s Sophmore LP Another Solid “Modern Classic Rock” Record

Courtesy:  Back Porch Syndicate Records

Courtesy: Back Porch Syndicate Records

Singer/songwriter Jefferson Grizzard has released in his sophomore album Learning How To Lie a record that any fan of the “modern classic rock” genre will appreciate. The dozen tracks that make up his latest album instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Seeger, Joe Cocker, George Thorogood, and even Bruce Springsteen to a lesser extent. That’s thanks to the combination of his own vocal style set alongside From social commentary of sorts to songs of lost love and what would seem to be personal experiences, the songs on this album cover any number of topics. And the songs’ companion musical side serves to make each one all the better. One of the best examples of that social commentary comes in the form of the album’s title. The mournful yet powerful ballad ‘Lorelei’ is one of the best songs centered on a broken relationship. And ‘New Location’ comes across as a song that illustrates a personal experience. It would be interesting to hear from Grizzard himself on this infectious piece. Of course it and the other noted songs are but part of what makes Learning How To Lie a fit for any “modern classic rock” fan. There are nine other songs not noted here from which audiences will be able to choose their favorite(s). In hearing those other songs, those same listeners will agree that whether it be their first time hearing Grizzard’s music or not, this album is a solid work from start to finish.

One of the best examples of what makes Jefferson Grizzard’s latest record such a joy is its title track, which comes roughly halfway through the album. Grizzard writes in this bluesy rocker, “Lovers spasm up the stairs/Through cries of pleasure and despair/The pauper and the millionaire/Their fates are slowly fusing/Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields/Throw tear gas full of sex appeal/While riots make commercial reels/The cobbler slays the general/And the planet keeps on turning.” These musings come across as personal thoughts on the state of the world around us. “While riots make commercial reels” could be referencing the spots made by news agencies that tease the daily nightly newscasts. More often than not, those spots tend to feature violent stories such as riots. One look at the nightly newscasts across the “Big 4” networks proves that. He writes also that “Golems hide ‘neath plastic shields.” Anyone with any knowledge of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will get this reference. It would seem that he’s speaking metaphorically, saying that something ugly lies beneath a weak façade. Of course this could be wrong being that it is just this critic’s own interpretation. Regardless, the fact that Grizzard could create such thoughts (and likely discussions) centered on this song just goes to prove its importance on this record. Audiences can make their own decisions when they check out the song’s official video online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9cEtilwnn4.

‘Learning How To Lie’ is a prime example of why “modern classic rock” fans will appreciate and enjoy Jefferson Grizzard’s sophomore CD by the same name. It’s just one of so many songs on the record that boasts a solid groove sure to have audiences singing along. And its seeming social commentary only serves to make it even more enjoyable. On the exact opposite side of that musical coin, Grizzard exhibits his softer side on the ballad of lost love, ‘Lorelei.’ The words themselves are only part of what makes this song so hard hitting. The addition of gentle piano runs, alongside a chorus backing Grizzard and his band mates, and an orchestral arrangement make this song a solid tearjerker. Grizzard sings overtop of those additions, “Hear the engine roar/She’s got me running/From my own sweet home/She’s got me feeling all alone/With shots of shattered bones/That leave me stranded/Crash landed in a field/Where her voice, it never yields/You’ve got centuries to fill/With all these words you’ve crafted.” He paints a picture of a relationship that did not exactly end well. Again, with the addition of the orchestration and choir, it becomes all the more impactful for any listener.

Both ‘Learning How To Lie’ and ‘Lorelei’ are excellent examples of what Grizzard offers audiences on his latest full length release. If they aren’t enough for listeners to give this album a chance, then ‘New Location’ most definitely will be enough. Grizzard gets pretty descriptive here, writing about a person living in a situation that is less than even substandard for lack of better wording. He writes in this song, “All my books are burning/The carpet’s stained with tar/There’s Raptors rippin’ all the second strings off my guitars/Outside on my deck/The dogs are howlin’ at the moon/Jackie’s in the basement/Puttin’ fire to a spoon/I aint tryin’ to make no accusations/But I can’t lie/I need a new location.” The imagery only gets more disturbing from here. And it’s no better early on. That’s not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, the picture that he and his fellow musicians paint with their combination of lyrics and music make this one of the absolute highest of points. Audiences can download that song, the others noted here or any of the album’s other tracks now online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Learning-How-Explicit-Jefferson-Grizzard/dp/B00JRE0R6M/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1405712208&sr=1-2&keywords=jefferson+grizzard.

Jefferson Grizzard currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, after downloading the songs from his new album, audiences can keep up to date with all of the latest tour updates, news and more online at http://jeffersongrizzard.com and http://www.facebook.com/jeffersongrizzard. 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.

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo “Jumps For Joy” Over New Album’s Release

Courtesy:  Underground Playground Records

Courtesy: Underground Playground Records

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s new album The Perfect Quirk hit stores and online outlets this week. In celebration of the album’s release, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo himself took to the skies and went sky diving! That’s right! And the full video from pre jump to landing can be viewed online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5sDUqLX6Pc. The whole thing is set against the song ‘Imaginary Friend,’ which is just one of many songs included on The Perfect Quirk.

A summer tour in support of The Perfect Quirk has already been set beginning with a performance in Hurst, TX on July 11th. He will also be in his home state of North Carolina for a pair of dates on July 23rd and July 27th respectively. On July 23rd, Skidoo will perform live in Black Mountain, North Carolina at the Black Mountain Music Festival. And on July 27th, he will play a home town show in Asheville, North Carolina at the city’s famed Orange Peel. The current schedule of dates for Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s summer tour is listed below.

SECRET AGENT 23 SKIDOO IN PERFORMANCE

Highlights – Summer 2014

July 11 – Masterworks Concert Series, Hurst, TX

July 13 – 18 – Summerstage Series, NYC

July 19 – Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA

July 23 – Black Mountain Concert Series, Black Mountain, NC

July 27 – The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

Aug. 2 – Rox in Sox Festival, Lake Oswego, OR

Aug. 3 – The Vera Project, Seattle, WA

Aug. 4 – Bonney Lake Kids’ Club, Bonney Lake, WA

Aug. 6 – Kent Summer Concert Series, Kent, WA

Aug. 7 – Everett Summer Concert Series, Everett, WA

More information and all the latest updates on Secret Agent 23 Skidoo’s tour and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/secretagent23skidoo and http://www.secretagent23skidoo.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.