‘The Jetsons: The Complete Series’ Is In Fact Incomplete

Courtesy: Hanna-Barbera/Warner Home Video

When Hanna Barbera debuted its animated series The Jetsons in 1962 on ABC, few if any people would have thought that the series would go on to be such a prophetic program and so beloved.  So when the series’ first season was released on DVD in 2004 through Warner Home Video, it gave lots of people plenty of reason to be excited.  It would take another five years before audiences would see another release, which came in the form of the first half of the series’ second season.  That release was the last official release for the series, while the second half of the second season, the third full season and the whole season were released on DVD and Blu-ray respectively through an on-demand platform through a partnership between Amazon, Hanna-Barbera, and Warner Brothers.  Those releases were not official releases, meaning that audiences were pretty much left waiting and wondering when and if the rest of the series would ever get an official release.  Audiences got their answer Oct. 13 with the release of The Jetsons: The Complete Series on DVD.  The eight-disc collection is a mostly enjoyable presentation, though also imperfect.  Its main positive is it’s the fact that it does in fact contain all three of the series’ seasons in one set.  The importance hereof will be discussed shortly.  While the inclusion of all three of the series’ seasons is an undeniable positive, its overall lack of any bonus content hurts its presentation considerably.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the lack of any real bonus content hurts this collection’s presentation without argument, the set’s packaging actually helps that presentation.  This will be discussed later, too.  When it is considered with the very presentation of the full series, the two elements do just enough to make the set worth owning for the series’ most devoted fans, but just enough.

Warner Home Video’s recently released presentation of The Jetsons: The Complete Series is a presentation that while mostly enjoyable, falls somewhat short of expectations.  It is not a complete failure, though.  One thing about the collection that audiences will appreciate is that it is in fact the full three-season run of the timeless, beloved series.  This is important because this release marks the first time ever that the series has ever received an official full series release.  As already noted here, Warner Home Video and Hanna-Barbera partnered in the early 2000s to release the series’ first season in whole on DVD.  That was followed five years later with the release of the first half of the series’ second season.  After that though, the series never released any other official DVD releases.  Amazon partnered with Hanna-Barbera and Warner Brothers to release the second half of Season Two and the whole of Season Three on an on-demand DVD platform, and the series’ full run on an on-demand Blu-ray platform.  Those releases, in other words, are recorded to DVD-R/BD-R discs when audiences purchase the sets online.  According to some reviews read by this critic, allegedly the Blu-ray series set may in fact not be the whole set, but only Season One.  That is stated by multiple people who reviewed the set through Amazon.  If in fact there is some credence to the allegation, then it makes this new DVD collection that much more appealing for the noted devotees of The Jetsons.  Now, for all that the actual full physical presentation of the series’ run does for this collection’s presentation, the lack of secondary content detracts greatly from its presentation.

Secondary content is, in this case, bonus content.  The only bonus content that is featured in this collection is the Jetsons movie The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones.  On the surface, having the movie seems okay.  However, it is a downfall because the movie in question is already featured in the much less expensive double disc set of The Flintstones movies and TV specials as one of the featured movies.  That collection in question costs only about $14.87 (using listings at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellsers, and Books-A-Million).  This eight-disc collection of The Jetsons averages $26.18 (sing price listings at Walmart, Target, Amazon, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers – it was not listed at Books-A-Million).  Audiences will find themselves left scratching their heads and wondering why The Jetsons movie was not also featured as a bonus here.  Additionally, the box sets for the series’ first season and the first half of its second season featured lots of bonus content, such as a history of The Jetsons, the series’ cultural importance and even a pair of feature-length audio commentaries.  Those bonuses were not carried over to this collection.  Considering that each set was released in partner between Warner Home Video (Warner Media Group) and Hanna-Barbera, it seems odd that the noted content was not carried over.  As a result, audiences who (like this critic) enjoy that bonus content and already own the noted sets will basically have to keep them in order to enjoy them since they were not brought to this latest set.  That is a disservice to the noted audiences and is collectively an undeniable detractor from the set’s presentation.  Now for all that the lack of any real bonus content does to detract from the collection’s presentation, it does not make the set a complete failure.  One other item – the set’s packaging – makes up for the problems posed by the lack of bonus content.

The packaging in question actually takes up less space than the two official season sets that Hanna-Barbera and Warner Home Video released in 2004 and 2009.  In other words, it will take up slightly less space on audiences’ DVD/BD racks than those noted standalone sets.  This is unquestionably positive.  Even better is that the discs are themselves packaged well inside the case.  Each disc sits on its own “plate” inside the case, separate from the other discs.  There is no having to move the discs and risk damaging them in order to remove or replace them before and after watching them.  It may come across as a surprise, but there are still some companies who take that old packaging approach for their multi-disc DVD and BD sets.  To that end, this adds to the set’s appeal.  It still is not the last of the most notable of the packaging positives. 

The set also features an insert that clearly points out each episode’s title, on which discs the episodes are featured, and even which discs present which season.  Again, there are a lot of home video companies even today that will not take that approach.  So both companies are to be commended for taking this simple step, too.  Putting the proverbial cherry on top of this presentation is the exterior packaging.

The exterior packaging for The Jetsons: The Complete Series is simple.  The case is surrounded by a simple cardboard type outer “box” that slides simply on and off of the case that contains the discs.  This protects the case and the discs while also saving audiences time in getting to the discs.  This is important to note because in comparison, the Season One and Season Two, Volume One sets each essentially have to be shaken from their exterior packaging to even get to the cases.  That is because the cases are packed so tightly in their respective exterior packaging.  Having to shake the cases can lead the discs to potentially come undone from their spots inside the cases and get damaged.  It is also time consuming to have to take that extra time trying to just get to the case, let alone the discs therein.  To that end, this aspect of the packaging is definitely its own positive, even being more of an aesthetic aspect of the packaging.  When this aspect is considered with the other noted packaging elements, the whole of the packaging really stands out and shows its importance just as much as the fact that the entire series is actually presented here.  When these two elements are considered along with the concerns raised by the lack of any real substantive bonus content, the whole of those elements makes the collection enjoyable although imperfect.

Warner Home Video and Hanna-Barbera’s recently released The Jetsons: The Complete Series set is an enjoyable presentation, but is sadly not necessarily complete.  Yes, it has the series’ full three-season run.  Yes, its packaging definitely is complete.  However, it lacks any real substantive bonus content.  To that end, the series is complete in one aspect, but it still will leave some audiences wanting for more in the long run.  Keeping that in mind, one can only hope that if the set is ever re-issued, it really will live up to its title of being complete.  More information on this and other titles from Warner Home Video is available at:

Website: http://warnerbros.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Warnerbros

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Audiences Will Find ‘The Trip To Greece’ A Cinematic Journey Worth Taking At Least Once

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ final entry in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip To franchise – The Trip to Greece — is an intriguing end to the cinematic “series.”  It is a presentation that, like its predecessors, audiences will either like or not.  Viewers who are not already fans of British drama and comedy will not find themselves coming into the fold through this movie.  The opposite applies for those who are fans of said brand of entertainment.  Regardless of which side one takes on this franchise, its stars, and British movies and television, everyone will agree that this last entry to the noted franchise is worth watching at least once.  That is thanks in part to the movie’s story.  This will be addressed shortly.  While the story proves itself a point of interest, it does create one notable concern, that being the issue of pacing.  This will be addressed a little later.  For all of the concern that the story’s pacing causes, the cinematography that is featured throughout keeps the story at least somewhat engaging.  This will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Trip To Greece a slightly enjoyable new cinematic trip.

The Trip to Greece is an interesting finale for Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s globe hopping docu-dramedy “The Trip To…” franchise.  While not a perfect ending to the franchise, it is worth watching at least once.  That is due in part to its unique story.  The story that is presented here is actually a two-part work that is one part drama and one part comedy.  On one side, audiences follow Coogan and Brydon doing comic impersonations of their fellow actors (famed names, such as Sean Connery, Michael Kane, and Dustin Hoffman just to name a few) as they follow the journey of the legendary mythical warrior Odysseus.  Just as a little back story, Odysseus’ story is that of his journey from a far-off land in an effort to return to his family.  It is a very dramatic epic story.  Throughout the course of Coogan and Brydon’s retracing of Odysseus’ journey, they meet “sirens” and deal with other figures along the way.

The comic factor of the duo’s story is just one aspect that is important to note.  Along the way, audiences also see a more personal story for each, what with Brydon dealing with his wife’s illness while being away from her and his family and Coogan getting updates on the health of his own father from his son.  This is where the interest really sets in.  The emotion that Brydon and Coogan feel as they face those personal matters is a mirror of sorts to Odysseus’ journey and his desire to be home with his family in his story.  That duality forms a firm foundation for the movie, and reason enough to give the movie a chance.  Of course for all that the story does to make the movie interesting, the pacing thereof proves problematic.

The Trip to Greece clocks in at one hour, 43-minutes.  However, even coming in at just under two hours, the story’s pacing makes it feel like it is nearly two-and-a-half-hours.  Maybe it is because of all of the small-talk.  Maybe it is the travel scenes.  Maybe it is something else or everything combined.  Either way, audiences will find themselves wanting to fast forward this flick multiple times throughout its run.  Some might even give in to that urge.  It just moves that slowly.  The thing is that in fast forwarding, audiences might miss some important moments in the story that make the noted juxtaposition of the ancient and not so aged so important.  To that end, even as much as audiences are going to want to fast forward, they will have to hold steady and not give in if they want to really capture the nuances of the story.  It’s a sad trade-off, but one that is necessary.  Luckily, as much as this story’s pacing detracts from the movie’s presentation, its cinematography makes the slow, plodding take at least somewhat bearable.

The cinematography that is featured throughout The Trip to Greece is outstanding.  Whether it be the aerial shots of the bays or the seaside footage s Coogan and Brydon have their discussions, or even something as simple as the duo driving from point to point, the cinematography offers so much to appreciate.  The way in which the footage was captured presents such a rich, lush landscape throughout the Mediterranean region.  The colors are so well-balanced throughout the feature, even with so many standard style shots.  It’s like watching a video postcard of sorts.  It’s no Rick Steves show, considering how spit shined it is, but is still engaging in its own right.  When this aspect is considered along with the movie’s central story, the two aspects make up for the problems posed by the movie’s pacing enough to make the movie an interesting presentation, just not perfect.

The Trip to Greece, the finale in IFC’s “The Trip To…” franchise is an intriguing end to the “series.”  It proves itself worth watching in part because of its story.  The story is a mirror of sorts to the journey which Odysseus faces in his mythical journey.  Brydon and Coogan face the desire to be with family just as much as Odysseus.  Each is re-united with family, but in different ways.  That desire to be with family comes as the duo makes its way along the path that Odysseus took on his journey all while spoofing the work of some of their well-known contemporaries.  As interesting as the story proves what with its duality and irony, the pacing thereof cannot be ignored.  It does cause its own share of problems for the movie.  Even as much as it detracts from the movie’s presentation, the movie’s cinematography makes up for that issue at least to a point.  When it is considered alongside the movie’s central story, the two elements together make the movie a cinematic journey that audiences will find worth taking at least once.  The Trip to Greece is available now.  More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available at:

Website: http://ifcfilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifcfilms

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Saul’s New LP Shows This Band’s Star Is On The “Rise”

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

You can do anything that you put your mind to.  Everybody knows that old adage, and independent hard rock band Saul is proof that the noted words of wisdom are in fact true.  While the band got its start during the high school years of its founding members, brothers Blake and Zach Bedsaul, the band wasted little time chasing its dream, eventually hitting the road and releasing its debut studio recording Aeons last March.  Now less than two years after its release, the band released its debut album, Rise as Equals.  The 14-song record is a positive second studio offering and equally strong full-length debut for the band.  That is proven in part early on in the song ‘Brother.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Rise as Equals,’ the album’s title track is another example of what the album has to offer audiences.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Sticks and Stones’ is yet another example of what makes Saul’s new album stand out.  It will be addressed later, too.  All three songs noted here do their own part to make this record worth hearing.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a work that is the beginning of Saul’s rise to equal fame with the band’s more well-known counterparts.

Saul’s debut full-length studio recording Rise as Equals is the beginning of this band’s rise to fame equal to that of its contemporaries.  That is proven in part early on in the album’s run in the form of the song ‘Brother.’  The band’s members waste no time launching into the nearly four-and-a-half-minute song’s musical arrangement, taking off right from the song’s outset.  The crunching guitars, bass and drums couple with front man Blake Bedsaul’s vocal delivery to instantly conjure thoughts of Hellyeah, Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin.  It doesn’t let up until late in the song’s run, either.  That moment when the song’s energy pulls back is well-placed, too.  That is because it helps to heighten the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme right at that moment.

Speaking of the song’s lyrical content, Bedsaul explained in an interview about the song’s topic.  “Lyrically, this song defines what I should have said to my brother in his last moments,” Bedsaul said in the interview.  “This song cuts deep for me, and it’s a constant reminder that life is fleeting.  Tell the people in your life that you love them.”  This message is delivered clearly as Bedsaul sings in the lead verse, “I write this letter/It’s a letter I’ll never send/Words I’d never say/Would you read it anyway/Tell me brother, what’s my fate/Did you see the sunrise/Did you see the rain/We’ve come so far/Penniless in pain/This is my fate/The world awaits/Hold my hands and tell me that it’s alright/Are you proud of everything I’ve done in my life.”  From here, Bedsaul goes on to sing in the song’s chorus asking pleadingly to his brother “Are you still proud of me after everything that I’ve done?”  Bedsaul continues in similar fashion in the song’s second verse.  Ultimately what this comes across as (at least to this critic) is a person who is dealing with a lot of personal guilty and heavy feelings in general.  Those thoughts and feelings are translated very well.  When it is considered alongside the companion that is the song’s musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes a work that easily holds its own against its more well-known noted counterparts, and proves easily that it could just as easily be played on any mainstream/active rock station along with songs from those bands.  It is just one of the songs featured in this EP that makes the record appealing for its noted audiences. ‘Rise as Equals,’ the album’s title track is another example of its strength.

Much as with ‘Brother,’ the musical arrangement featured in ‘Rise as Equals’ is a very industrial/melodic metal style composition.  What audiences will appreciate that despite having a very similar stylistic approach to that of ‘Brother’ and the album’s other works, it still boasts its own unique, heavy sound that also boasts its own share of melody, too.  The heaviness and the sincerity in the melody serves well to help deliver the message of unity featured in the song’s lyrical content.

The noted message of unity is made clear right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “You are my equals/We bleed when we’re cut/We weep when we’re torn/We love and we lose/We scar and we bruise/From the day that we’re born/We fall and we fight/We’re all damaged inside/Under our skin/We all want to win/We see eye to eye/I will be there for you/You will be there for me.”  It is made just as clear, if not more so, in the song’s second verse, which states, “There is no above/There is no below/We’re willing to bleed for what we believe/We all reap what we sow/I will be there for you/You will be there for me/RISE.”  The song’s chorus adds even more impact, stating, “This is my tribe/These are my people/Sisters and brothers/You are my equals/Live till we die/Together we’re lethal/Sisters and brothers/You are my equals/I won’t let you go/You are my equals/I won’t let you go.”  Once again, audiences get a proud statement of unity even despite the world’s situation.  Together with the song’s noted equally powerful musical arrangement, the two elements jointly make this song its own impacting work and just one more notable addition to Rise as Equals.  ‘Sticks and Stones,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another of the album’s strongest entries.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Sticks and Stones’ is another industrial style song that also adds in some very distinct hardcore influences a la Hatebreed, Terror, etc.  That is evidenced through the pairing of the heavy, crunching guitars and screaming vocal delivery style.  What makes the arrangement even more interesting is the pairing of the more melodic elements alongside that heavier side.  The contrast is noticeable in the two sounds, yet the band still manages to make the pairing work, and work well at that.  It pairs well with the song’s equally powerful lyrical theme, which focuses on a toxic personality who has caused an otherwise good, controlled person to lose their cool.

The noted theme is inferred right from the song’s outset, as it states, “Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Close knit failing scene/Watch me live your broken dreams/I said I’d never get low I’d never get petty/You’ve broken the dam and opened the levee/Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Crooked smiles I’m not your martyr/Want to be me you better try harder.” The song’s second verse hints even more at the noted theme, as it states, “Always doubted me/They stand in disbelief/I knew I’d be the king at the top of the pile/When you see me I’ll be nothing but smiles/Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Can’t take what you never earned/Can’t fake what you never learned.”  The song goes on to outright call the person in question “Two-faced.”  That speaks volumes when considered alongside the rest of the song’s noted lyrical content.  Taking all of this into account, the heaviness and fire in the song’s musical arrangement becomes even more impacting, especially when coupled with this no nonsense message.  When the song in whole is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the album, in its entirety, proves to be the point at which Saul really starts its rise to fame equal to that of its fellow metal and hard rock acts.

Saul’s debut album Rise as Equals is a record that proves it will not take long before this band is equal to its more well-known counterparts in the hard rock and metal community.  That is evidenced in the record’s musical and lyrical content, as pointed out here.  When the three songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the record in whole leaves no doubt, that Saul’s star is on the rise.

More information on Rise as Equals is available now along with all of Saul’s current live dates and more at:

Websitehttp://saulofficial.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/saulbandofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/saulband

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Trehern’s Debut LP Makes Him One Of The Next Big Alt-Rock Names To Watch

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Independent singer-songwriter Ty Trehern officially released his latest album Dear, Dichotomy Friday.  The 10-song record – his second studio recording and debut album (his debut studio recording was his 2019 EP The Sound) — is a presentation that proves Trehern to be one of the alt-rock community’s next big names to watch.  All three of the singles that the album has produced – ‘The Air,’ ‘Sleep,’ and ‘Better Off’ – all serve to show what makes Trehern’s new album so notable.  They are just some of the best examples of how much the 38-minute album has to offer audiences.  The record’s title track is worth its own share of attention and will be addressed shortly.  ‘The House You Built,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another strong addition to the record and will be addressed a little later.  ‘Tell Me,’ which comes even later in the album’s run, stands on its own merits, too.  It will be examined later, too.  All three songs, coupled with the album’s singles four remaining songs, make one whole that is a presentation that, again, makes Trehern one of the names to watch in the next generation of alt-rock artists.

Ty Trehern’s debut album Dear, Dichotomy is an impressive first full outing from the up-and-coming alt-rock singer-songwriter.  It is a presentation that shows Trehern as an artist who is well worth watching.  As noted already, all three of the singles that the album has produced do their own share to support the noted statements.  They are just some of the album’s most enjoyable entries.  The record’s title track is just as enjoyable as those songs.  The album’s first full-length song (its very first track is a 54-second intro track), its arrangement follows stylistically in line with the songs featured in The Sound.  It is a mid-tempo, guitar-driven work that holds its own easily against works from so many of his more well-known mainstream rock and alt-rock counterparts.  Trehern’s vocal delivery and the production used on said element adds even more to the mix to make this arrangement a strong start for the album.  The song’s lyrical content couples with the musical arrangement to make for even more engagement and entertainment.

While Trehern’s vocal delivery and the production thereof helps to enhance the presentation of the arrangement featured in ‘Dear, Dichotomy,’ it also hinders understanding the song’s lyrical content to a point.  Luckily, that hindrance is not such that it leaves the lyrics completely indecipherable.  From what can be understood throughout the song, it comes across as being a work that centers on someone trying to figure out who exactly he/she is.  This is inferred early on in the song’s lead verse, in which Trehern sings, “Looking through my head again/Walking on a rope/Hanging onto hope/All I want is to feel a balance underneath my feet/To feel the ground beneath/The flexibility/Searching for my guiding hand/It’s like day and night/A blurry wrong and right…”  The last line in that verse is difficult to decipher.  That aside, the rest of the verse is clear enough to know that the subject is singing here about basically facing the familiar inner turmoil of that battle with one’s self.  It is a familiar topic in the musical world.  What is interesting though, is that in so many cases, such a topic is accompanied by a decidedly moody, brooding musical arrangement.  That is not the case here.  What audiences get instead is something more generally contemplative in nature.  It is a nice change of pace.  As the song continues, Trehern sings in the song’s chorus, “I am here and there/Somewhere in the in-between/Show me/All these feelings that I hide/So won’t you show me/Save me/Living in the black and white/So won’t you save me.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Running through my thoughts again/Like the seasons change/But now they stay the same/All I want is to be free of all the back and forth/All this back and forth/Keep going back and forth.”  Yet again audiences are presented with a story of someone who is facing that inner turmoil, yet is not doing so in that more familiar brooding, “Oh woe is me” fashion.  It is a nice change of pace from such kind of songs in this case.  What’s more, that it is such a familiar lyrical theme, it makes the song even more accessible.  To that end, the combined musical and lyrical content featured here makes ‘Dear, Dichotomy’ its own impressive addition to Trehern’s new album.  It is just one of the many songs that show what makes the album worth hearing, too.  ‘The House You Built’ is another notable addition to the album.

‘The House You Built’ immediately lends itself to comparisons to works from Set it Off with its semi-acoustic musical arrangement and finger snaps.  The bluesy guitar licks that are featured throughout the three-minute-plus opus and the fire in Treyhern’s vocal delivery couples with the rich, steady time keeping to make the song in whole even more impacting.  The arrangement does a good job of helping to illustrate the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as centering on the familiar topic of someone who is just fed up with someone who is just toxic in terms of his or her personality; that kind of narcissistic person who just thinks that he or she is so great while making everyone else miserable.  This is a familiar topic in its own right for everyone, thus making the song even more accessible.

The noted lyrical theme presented in ‘The House You Built’  is made clear right from the song’s outset as Treyhern sings, “Your ego’s left you blind/But you think you can see/And you think with a one-track mind/But you think you got it figured out/You think I’m fallin’ behind/But you’ve been running in place/And you think with a one-track mind/But you think you got it figured out…Do you think I care/to see the way/You look down on me/And I’m all that you can think about/When you find yourself alone/Do you think I care/To hear that I’m so far beneath you/You should know that I love it/When you lock yourself inside…”  The last part of that line is difficult to understand without a lyrics sheet to reference.  Even without that last portion, no doubt is left as to the frustration that the song’s subject has with the noted toxic individual.  The fire in the words and Treyhern’s delivery thereof makes for quite the impact, needless to say.  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Your words are such a waste/They’re falling on deaf ears/And you still keep running in place/But you think you got me figured out.”  The damning indictment of that toxic individual continues on into the song’s third verse.  It goes without saying that the indictment in question is just as strong there.  When it is joined with the rest of the song’s story, the whole becomes a work whose lyrical content will definitely connect with listeners in its own right.  It will do so even more when this understandably forceful message is coupled with the song’s equally fiery musical arrangement.  All things considered, they make the song one more example of what makes Dear, Dichotomy such an enjoyable new offering from Treyhern.  It is hardly the last of the album’s most notable works, too.  ‘Tell Me’ is one more standout addition to the album.

‘Tell Me’ is one of those works whose arrangement proves that a song can be heavy without being heavy.  The song’s arrangement features just Treyhern and a piano, nothing else.  There is some production used on Treyhern’s vocals to add to the arrangement’s impact, but other than the noted elements are all that are featured here.  It presents such a sense of vulnerability from Treyhern, and is so unlike anything else featured in this record.  That sense of vulnerability carries over to the song’s lyrical content, which is just as moving it’s the song’s musical element.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Tell Me’ is a deeply introspective statement.  Trehern notes in the song’s lead verse, I’m undone/What has this world become/Why can’t we be free/Why can’t we be free/Everyone/Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters/All of them/Trapped in hope and faith/So can you hear my voice from way up there/Tell me is there a heaven/’Cause this feels like hell to me/Tell me is there a reason/I’m not where I’d like to be/Are you there/Do you hear our cries/When our angels die…is this real/teach me how to feel/Like I can move on/When my heart is gone/Can you hear my voice from way up there.”  This comes across as someone who is having a crisis of faith.  If in fact that is the case, then this song will connect with its own share of listeners, as there are plenty of people who have or are having that crisis.  It certainly is not the first song to take on such a topic (again, if that is in fact the interpreted topic).  Other songs have taken on the matter of religion, but few if any in such a fashion as is presented here.  To that end, it makes the song that much deeper, moving, and unique.  Keeping that in mind, when this song is considered with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its works, the end result is a solid debut album from Ty Trehern.

Dear, Dichotomy is a strong first full-length offering from up-and-coming alt-rock singer-songwriter Ty Trehern.  It features a variety of musical arrangements that are just as engaging and entertaining as anything presented by his more well-known mainstream counterparts, as evidenced here.  The record’s musical arrangements are familiar yet unique in their presentations, again as pointed out in this review.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole makes itself a strong debut from Trehern.  Additionally, it makes Trehern validly, one of the next big names to watch in the alt-rock community.  Dear, Dichotomy is available now.

More information on Trehern’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.tytrehernmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/tytrehernmusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/tytrehernmusic

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

Audiences Will “Celebrate” Kurt Baker’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Independent pop rock artist Kurt Baker is scheduled to release his latest album After Party Friday.  The 12-song record is, like his label mate Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’, another surprisingly enjoyable musical diamond in the rough in the year’s field of new albums.  The four singles that the album has already turned out more than prove the noted statement true.  They are but a snapshot of what makes After Party so enjoyable.  ‘Used To Think,’ which comes late in the album’s run, shows in its own way what makes the album so engaging and entertaining.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Should’ve Been The One,’ the 36-minute record’s penultimate entry, does its own share to show what makes the album stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Waiting For You,’ which comes a little earlier in the album, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its entries, the whole of After Party proves itself to be a presentation whose arrival listeners will happily celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new solo album After Party is a wonderful new offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners with its musical and lyrical content alike.  The singles that the record has produced leave no doubt about that.  They are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable, too.  It boasts plenty of entertaining and engaging songs other than the noted entries, not the least of which is the song ‘Used To Think.’  The musical arrangement featured in this song is a unique presentation in itself.  It mixes elements of music from the 1980s and 50s for its whole.  The 1950s style sound is more evident in the choruses, with the simple, infectious calls of “ooh-ah, baby” while the more 80s pop rock style sounds are more commonplace in the verses.  The pairing of the sounds does not seem like it would work on paper, but in hearing them together here, they make for such a fun song.  When they join with the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as Baker looking back on life and learning from his experiences, but doing so with a positive mindset, the song becomes even more accessible and enjoyable for audiences.

The noted lyrical topic is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, in which Baker sings, “I used to think that I wanted money/I used to think that I wanted fame/And looking back/Though it may seem funny/I used to think that was just a game/I used to think/That maybe one day/You might get up and go/I used to think/But now I know.”  The noted theme is continued in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I spent a lot of money on used records/I spent a lot of money on cheap beer/But in the end I got no regrets ‘cause/All that spending got me right to here/I used to think/That maybe one day/I would reap what I sow/I used to think/But now I know.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “I realize that things are more important/I realize that things are black and white/To understand just how this world works/You’ve got to be in it for the fight/I used to think…”  that last refrain is tough to decipher. That is a minor issue.  Looking at the bigger picture of the lyrical content, it delivers a relatively positive message of someone who has learned some valuable life lessons and grown as a person as a result of those lessons.  That is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation.  Regardless, that it is not just another typical song about relationships and that it couples with an equally accessible musical arrangement, makes it that much more enjoyable for audiences.  It is just one of the works that shines so brightly in this presentation.  ‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another enjoyable entry in the record’s overall presentation.

‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another of those songs that mixes influences of the 1950s and 1980s.  What is important to note here is that it is unique from the album’s other entries. In this case, the song’s musical base takes elements of 1950s doo-wop a la The Skyliners, The Everly Brothers, and Ritchie Valens and crosses that with the synth-pop sounds that were so popular during the 1980s.  The hybrid approach makes the song a surprisingly appealing composition that holds its own alongside the album’s other arrangements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s familiar lyrical theme of a relationship adds to its appeal.

The noted theme is presented right from the song’s outset as Baker sings, “I found a true love/But I threw it away/She gave me all the lovin’/Day after day/But I was getting careless/I was foolin’ around/And I shoulda known that you would find out/Always act suspicious when I came home late/I told you I was working/And you took the bait/Rumors have a funny way of making their rounds/But the truth came out/And you found out/I know I let you down/Should’ve been the one to tell you/I should’ve been the one to say/Should’ve been the one to let you know…I can’t change my ways/Should’ve been the one to say.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We were having our share of sleepless nights/Every disagreement/Turned into a fight/She came out of nowhere/There was nothing I could do/She makes me feel the same way I did when I met you.”  Even lyrically this song harkens back to the 1950s, as it is a song sung from the male perspective, knowing that he has done wrong, and he is basically showing his remorse to the woman he wronged.  This, and the song’s catchy musical arrangement, pair up to make the song that much more unique and interesting.  It is just one more way in which Baker’s latest offering proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable work.  ‘Waiting For You’ is yet another way in which the album exhibits its appeal.

‘Waiting For You’ is unique in that while it does present its own 1950s sensibility, one could also argue a more modern influence a la Jack Johnson.  That is presented through the simple piano riff and guitar line.  Baker’s vocal performance is the main point at which the 1950s influence shows through.  In this case, it conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly.  That in itself is enough to generate plenty of appeal.  When that element is coupled with the equally familiar modern pop rock influence that is spread across Baker’s record, the song becomes even more enjoyable.  Add in the familiar relationship-based lyrical content and audiences get an even more pleasant presentation.

The lyrical presentation featured here comes across as that of a man who is completely devoted to a woman.  That is inferred as Baker sings in the song’s lead verse, “You were shining bright/On a warm summer night/And I was waiting for you/People smiled at me/’Cause I bet they could see/I was waiting for you/It was something real girl/How you made me feel, girl/And I always hoped you would feel it, too/Well we lost it all, girl/Sometime in the fall, girl/And I’m still in love with you.”  One need not really much deeper than this, as the rest of the song follows in similar fashion.  Though Baker does ask in the second verse, “What else can I do girl/It’s all up to you girl/Did you start a love affair with someone new?” as he tells the woman “I’m still in love with you.”  This is a man who is head over heels for a woman, point blank.  Again, this lyrical theme itself even throws back to another time.  When this is considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes yet another truly high point of After Party.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation overall that is a wonderful work that any listener will celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new album After Party is a surprisingly enjoyable offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  Its musical and lyrical content alike more than prove that true.  That is proven through the songs noted here and through the record’s singles, as well as its other works.  All things considered, they make the album its own party for listeners ears that audiences will find themselves celebrating.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.kurtbaker.me

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/KurtBakerMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Kurtmiltonbaker

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

Armored Saint’s New LP Is Enjoyable, But Has A Kink In Its Armor

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Armored Saint is scheduled to release its next album Friday, but audiences will get to hear the album in full tonight, ahead of its release.  The band made the announcement Wednesday through its official Facebook page.  The stream is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m .ET through the band’s official YouTube and Twitch channels, and will feature the opportunity for audiences to chat with the band as the record streams.  The 11-song record has already produced two successful singles, each of which proves in its own way, why audiences will enjoy the album.  While the noted singles do paint a positive picture for Armored Saint’s new album, the record is sadly not a perfect presentation.  Its overall pacing proves somewhat problematic.  Thankfully that aspect is not enough to make the record a failure.  The album’s production counters the noted concern.  When this is considered along with the positive that is the overall musical arrangements, they make this record still a positive new offering from one of the greatest bands in the history of hard rock and metal.

Punching The Sky, the eighth album from veteran hard rock band Armored Saint is an interesting new offering from the band.  It is a record that while enjoyable, is imperfect.   Audiences will be glad to know that even with that in mind, the album boasts more positives than negatives, not the least of which is its musical arrangements.  The arrangements that are featured in this album are solid hard rock arrangements from one to the next.  Both of the singles that the record has produced serve clearly to support that statement.  They are just some of the songs that serve that purpose, too.  ‘My Jurisdiction,’ which comes early in the album’s run, stands on its own merits.  The heavy, blues-based and guitar-driven arrangement here is so infectious and unlike anything else on the album.  The early 90s hard rock influences are just as prominent throughout the work as are the more modern hard rock sounds.  On another note (no pun intended) ‘Bark, No Bite,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another standout addition to the album.  The song is surefire favorite for any guitar rock purist.  There are influences of the vintage guitar rock sounds of the 80s alongside some 70s rock influence.  The result is an arrangement that is just as possible as a single as any of the album’s other entries.  It is hardly the last of the songs that can be used to show the importance of the record’s arrangements.  ‘Never You Fret,’ which closes out the album, is another powerful entry.  The full, rich sound from the guitar, bass, and drums is a full-on modern hard rock style composition.  Oddly enough, a close listen reveals a little bit of a jam band type of influence here, too.  The whole of these influences makes the song in whole just as solid a closer for the album as ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ is an opener.  Now while the songs noted here join with the album’s singles and the rest of its works to clearly show the power of the record’s arrangements, the arrangements do bring about at least one notable concern, that being the album’s overall pacing.

Bassist Joey Vera said in a recent interview that the run times of the songs featured in Punching The Sky are shorter than those of the album’s predecessor, Win Hands Down“I would have to say that this time, I was conscious about making the songs a little more to the point than the previous record,” he said. “As a result, most of the songs are a little shorter in length than they are on Win Hands Down (2015). ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ being an exception at almost seven minutes!”  Even with the shorter run times, the songs still suffer somewhat from a concern of pacing.  ‘Lone Wolf’ for example clocks in at just under four-and-a-half minutes (4:19 to be exact), but even at that time, there is something about the band’s approach here that makes the song feel like it runs five minutes in length, if not longer.  That is even with the song being a mid-tempo composition.  ‘Unfair’ by comparison, feels extra long, too.  Its run time is listed at four minutes, four seconds.  However, the slow, brooding nature in the song’s arrangement makes that run time feel stretched out even more.  Much the same can be said of the album’s other entries.  While the barely top the five-minute mark at their longest (with the exception of the one noted song from Vera), the songs each feel longer than they actually are.  Maybe that is the result in how they were composed.  Maybe it has to do with the songs’ energies.  Maybe it is both.  Regardless, this one aspect detracts from the record’s overall presentation.  Luckily, the impact that this element has is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s production couples with the songs to make up for that aspect of the songs’ pacing.

The production presented in Punching The Sky is positive in that it clearly take into account everything that goes on in each of the album’s songs and balances each arrangement expertly.  Each song is loud and bombastic, save for ‘Unfair.’  The songs liken themselves to the best works of Judas Priest with their ferocity.  That means that the guitars are full throttle and the bass and time keeping are just as strong in their own right.  The vocals offer their own impact along with the instrumentation of each song.  Considering how much is going on in each of the songs, it would have been so easy for each part to overpower the other.  Thankfully, those behind the glass did not allow that to happen.  The guitars are right there with the vocals, and even just below, allowing the vocals to be understood just enough while also allowing the guitars to shine.  At the same time, the harmonies created through the bass are just subtle enough but also just audible enough.  Meanwhile the drums maintain each song’s heartbeat, keeping everybody together without overpowering any of the other parts.  The result is a presentation that sounds just as good aesthetically as it does in terms of its overall presentation.  When this is considered along with the album’s one negative point, the whole of Punching The Sky proves itself a strong, successful new offering from one of the most respected names in rock and metal.

Armored Saint’s new album Punching The Sky is a positive new effort from the band.  That is despite at least one noticeable kink it its own armor.  The record’s arrangements are in themselves just as powerful as ever.  They bring in influences from the 70s, 80s and even 90s for a whole presentation that will appeal to longtime audiences and those less familiar with the band and its catalog.  The production of those arrangements adds even more appeal to the record.  That is because it led to the band members’ respective parts balancing out expertly from beginning to end.  These two elements together make up at least to a point for the record’s one negative, its overall pacing.  The pacing is worth noting in that as powerful as the songs are and as good as they sound, they do generally feel longer than they actually are.  Even with that in mind, the record is not a failure.  Rather, it is a work that is still worth hearing occasionally.  It will certainly still have listeners punching their fists to the sky when they do take it in.  Punching The Sky is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on Punching The Sky is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.armoredsaint.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thearmoredsaint

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thearmoredsaint

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Two New ‘Peanuts’ Music Playlists Streaming Online

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Peanuts fans have two new ways to celebrate the franchise’s history.

Craft Recordings has curated two new playlists that celebrate the music of Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi. The playlists’ debut come less than a month after Craft Recordings debuted another playlist that features music from the Peanuts movies and TV specials.

The two new playlists are composed separately of “Easy Listening” and “Dance” songs that were featured in the noted movies and TV specials. Audiences will find that some of the songs featured in these two new lists are also featured in Craft Recordings’ initial Vince Guaraldi playlist, but are now more distinctly classified from one another in the noted new lists.

In related news, Craft Recordings recently premiered a new animated video for the beloved song, ‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz.’ The song is featured in the timeless Peanuts primetime TV special It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

The video opens with Linus’ classic letter to The Great Pumpkin, asking for lots of toys. From there, the curtain lifts to show Linus in the pumpkin patch in which he waited all that fateful night with Sally for The Great Pumpkin. As the video progresses, a series of pumpkins and presents wrapped in orange with green ribbons fill the screen against a constantly changing backdrop, all the while the song playing over the video.

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz’ was last featured on the 2012 CD re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ soundtrack as one of two bonus tracks. The other bonus track was one of the songs from the Peanuts primetime Thanksgiving TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Neither song is featured in Craft Recordings’ recently released vinyl re-issue of the soundtrack, which is at least the seventh of the soundtrack’s re-issues.

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available at:

Websitehttp://CraftRecordings.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/craftrecordingsofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/craftrecordings

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

‘Live! Against The World’ Is HammerFall’s Best Live Recording Yet

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Live, in-person concerts have been hard to come by this year.  That goes without saying.  The global COVID-19 pandemic has all but wiped out live shows.  If not for live streams and so-called “drive-in” concerts, live music would be gone.  The noted shows are just a couple of ways that acts across the musical universe have worked to bring live music to audiences.  It would seem that as a result of the pandemic’s impact, audiences have also seen a rise in the number of live recordings released this year, too.  That is just this critic’s own take and could be incorrect.  Though, it certainly seems that live recordings have been more prominent this year than in the past.  Veteran power metal band HamemrFall will join the ranks of those countless acts who have released live recordings this year when it releases its new live recording Live! Against the World Friday through Napalm Records.  Only the band’s third ever live recording, this 20-song performance is everything that the band’s longtime fans could hope for.  That is thanks in no small part to its set list, which will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of said set list adds to the recording’s appeal, and will be discussed a little later.  The performance’s production rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Live! Against The World HammerFall’s best live recording yet and one of the year’s top new live DVDs/BDs.

HammerFall’s forthcoming live recording Live! Against The World is a wonderful way for the band’s fans to get their live fix now and even after the global COVID-19 pandemic ends, whenever that might be.  That is due in no small part to the recording’s set list.  The extensive 20-song set list clocks in at just under two hours, and is the very definition of career-spanning.  Given, the concert – recorded Feb. 15, 2019 at the MHP Arena in Ludwigsburg, Germany – was mainly in support of the band’s then latest album Dominion, but it pulled songs from every single one of the band’s 11 albums.  Dominion is only represented by five songs, as a matter of fact.  Other albums only get one nod, while others get two to three.  Regardless, what the band has done here is given audiences the widest possible cross section of its catalog.  That includes some well-known songs and even some deeper cuts mixed in for good measure.  Simply put, the expansive set list that is featured in Hammerfall’s new live recording creates a solid foundation for this presentation.  It is just one part of what makes this recording such an appealing presentation.  The band’s performance of the set list does its own share to make the recording so engaging and entertaining.

The performance of the concert’s featured set list is powerful in its own right.  Right from the show’s opening in ‘Never Forgive, Never Forget,’ the energy runs high.  Front man Joacim Cans’ vocals soar here while his band mates – Oscar Dronjack (guitar), Pontus Norgren (guitar), Fredrik Larsson (bass), and David Wallin (drums) – each shine in their own right.  The time keeping is solid while the harmonies between the guitars and bass, and the guitar solos absolutely soar.  The show’s energy stays high from that point on through, with the only moments of rest coming occasionally between songs when Cans taking the time to interact with the audience.  Even those moments are themselves rare.  What’s more, even in a slightly slower song, such as ‘Hollwed Be My Name,’ the band still manages to keep the audience entertained simply by performing the song.  That in itself is a statement.  The over-the-top guitar solos are kept to a minimum, with the band opting instead to present the songs as they were on record for the most part.  The result is a concert performance that lets the band’s talents shine through from beginning to end, rather than relying on a bunch of theatrics.  It is another solid testament to the recording’s appeal and to the band’s ability to entertain audiences.  It is just one more way in which the recording proves itself so appealing, too.  The recording’s overall production rounds out its most important elements to bring everything together.

The production of HammerFall’s new live recording Live! Against the World is important to note because it gives audiences the best seat in the house.  The camera angles and transitions keep right up with the energy in the songs, enhancing the experience even more. Audiences will appreciate the seeming drone shots that take them up above the crowd, looking down at various points throughout the concert. Whether it its a drone shot or a crane shot, the fact of the matter here is that this is a unique style shot that is not often used in live rock recordings. There is something special about being able to look down and see the audience moving en masse as the fists pump and heads bang in time with the music. It instills a certain positive feeling in audiences as they see it happen The various on-stage shots that come from just below the stage and even on the stage gives viewers that up close and personal experience that they otherwise would not have likely gotten. The wide shots give audiences an appreciation for the venue’s makeup and the sheer devotion of the fans as they see how packed the concert hall was for the show. The shots used for the pyro effects add their own touch to the presentation. They are captured at just the right locations and angles to fully capture the immensity of the plumes of fire. One can almost imagine how hot the flames must have been. Noting again the transitions between all of the noted shots, they are so smooth throughout. They help to translate the energy exuded by the band and audience alike without leaving viewers feeling dizzied. As a result, they and the shots themselves do even more to enrich the viewing experience.

On a related note, the recording’s audio production is just as impressive as its video. The audio production is exactly what audiences should hope for.  The instrumentation is expertly balanced, even as bombastic as that collective is.  The vocals are right there with the instruments, too.  Considering the size of the concert hall, all of this is important in regards to making sure the sound was balanced and did not just echo throughout the venue. Those efforts paid off, too.

HammerFall’s forthcoming live recording Live! Against The World is an impressive presentation that the band’s longtime fans will appreciate just as much as those who are less familiar with the band’s catalog.  That is proven in large part through the recording’s featured set list.  The expansive 20-song set list clocks in at just under two hours and is in fact a truly career-spanning retrospective.  The band’s performance of the set list will keep audiences engaged and entertained from beginning to end.  The production, at least in regards to the recording’s CD platform, is appealing in its own way.  It leaves the concert sounding good just as much as the content makes it “appear.”  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, this presentation is HammerFall’s best live recording to date and one of this year’s absolute best new live recordings.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Napalm Records.  More information on the recording is available along with all of HammerFall’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.hammerfall.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HammerFall

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

‘Blood & Stone’ Proves Once Again Why Sevendust Is One Of Hard Rock, Metal’s Elite Acts

Courtesy: Rise Records

Veteran hard rock band Sevendust has, for more than 25 years, remained one of the most respected names in the hard rock and metal community.  That is due to the top notch music that the band has crafted in each of its 12 current albums.  That reputation is sure to continue growing with the forthcoming release of the band’s 13th album Blood & Stone Friday.  The 13-song record is one of the band’s best works to date.  That is proven right from the record’s outset in the form of ‘Dying To Live.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Against The World,’ which comes later in the album’s 49-minute run time, is another example of what makes the album stand so strongly.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Nothing Left To See Here Anymore’ is yet another interesting addition to Sevendust’s new album.  It will also be addressed later.  Between these three songs and the rest of the record’s entries, the album in whole continues to cement Sevendust’s place as one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community.

Sevendust’s latest album Blood & Stone is another unquestionable success from the band.  Its musical and lyrical content alike certifies that statement, beginning with the album’s opener, ‘Dying To Live.’  The song wastes no time launching into its full-on aural attack with its pummeling guitars, drums and bass.  The song’s energy never lets up once from beginning to the end of the three-minute-plus opus.  The intensity that runs throughout the song takes the best elements of so many of the band’s existing works and uses them for this unique.  Even as the song reaches its bridge and suddenly becomes subdued, there is still a certain heaviness in that moment that will keep listeners engaged.  By the song’s end, audiences know that they have experienced something powerful and memorable as one of Sevendust’s best songs in what is already a crowded field of notable works.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, of course.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s arrangement adds even more depth to the work.

The lyrical theme of ‘Dying To Live’ is important because of the message that it seems to hint at.  The message in question comes across as a commentary about paying attention to the bigger picture of the world rather than ourselves.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, which finds front man Lajon Witherspoon singing, “We’re cold/Immune to the abuse/Whatever price you pay/They take away/The only thing that matters now/Every little thing we want/Rips out a piece of us/With all that we give/Why am I dying to live/With all that we have to face/Keep dying to live.”  That note of being “immune to the abuse” and “whatever price you pay/They take away? Hints at the fact that we as a society have become so desensitized to everything.  The note of “whatever price you pay/They take away” is metaphorical language that seems to speak to we as a society losing just as much as we gain because we have become so desensitized.  The song’s second verse infers the noted central message even more as Witherspoon sings, “Why do we believe/This time around/We found our soul/Better make your peace with death/And take what’s left/I’ll see you on the other side/I know.”  This seems to infer that we need to get our heads on straight and focus on what’s really important because this is the only life that we have.  We need to get our priorities right.  This is all just this critic’s own interpretation, of course and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Regardless, the song’s lyrics are heavy.  That goes without saying.  When they are coupled with the equally heavy, infectious musical arrangement featured in this song, the two sides make for one whole that is a strong start for the band’s new album and an equally strong exemplary of what makes the album such a powerful new offering from Sevendust.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Against The World’ is another notable addition to Blood & Stone.

‘Against The World’ stands out almost instantly as it opens with the eerie, brooding keyboard line that opens the song’s arrangement.  The ethereal sense that the keyboard line creates lends itself to comparisons to works from Nine Inch Nails.  When it is coupled with the blistering guitar riffs in the chorus sections, that pairing makes the arrangement in whole even more unique.  The juxtaposition of that element and the band’s more trademark melodic hard rock approach that makes up the rest of the arrangement, the song in whole becomes another work that is certain to engage and entertain listeners.  As with ‘Dying To Live’ and the rest of the album’s songs, the composition’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical accompaniment adds its own share of interest to the presentation here.

Witherspoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “Is there something you want to say/Get it out…Don’t hold on/If it burns you up…”  Much of the song’s lyrical content is difficult to decipher from here.  Though the mention of “it’s you and I/Against the world/I’m not gonna let you down…Still there’s something left to burn” would hint at this song delivering a message of someone being there for another despite certain factors coming into play.  Witherspoon even sings in the song that “You and I will find a way.”  In other words, (again going without a lyrics sheet to reference) this song would seem to be lyrically, a statement about focusing the anger and frustrations brought on by the world together.  If in fact that is the case, then the way in which the band approached that topic is unique here both lyrically and musically, and will certainly connect with listeners.  To that end, it proves itself yet another strong point in this record and another example of what makes the album so strong, too.  It is hardly the last of the album’s most notable songs, too.  ‘Nothing Left to See Here Anymore’ is the most unique addition to the album of all.

‘Nothing Left to See Here Anymore’ stands out in its musical arrangement as it takes the band’s more melodic side, but also presents a little bit of a bluesy influence, believe it or not.  While it boasts its own heaviness, it also presents a distinct mainstream sensibility that would make it a good fit for any active rock radio programmer’s play list.  It has that kind of sound and stylistic approach.  It’s heavy, but more in the noted corporate rock sound that is quite unlike most of anything that the band has ever produced.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s unique musical composition ads even more interest to its presentation. 

Witherspoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “Slapped my face again/So I can feel the one/Before this began…Time to tear down the walls/And start it again/You’re reaching out/I’m pulling back again/You’re reaching out/I’m pulling back again/There’s nothing left to see here anymore/I thought you’d never put me through this again/But the truth is/It’s always the same…So tear down the walls/And start over again.”  He continues in the song’s next verse, “How long/’Til this will end…”  Again, not all of the lyrics are able to be deciphered here without a lyrics sheet to reference.  However, what can be inferred from what is able to be understood, this song comes across as centering on the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship.  Whether it is just a personal, plutonic relationship with someone or a romantic relationship is left to interpretation.  That aside, the way in which the song approaches the topic manages to give it a unique presentation.  When this is considered along with the song’s even more unique musical arrangement, the whole makes the song in whole that much more of a notable addition to Sevendust’s new album.  When the song in whole is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole leaves no doubt as to its appeal.  All things considered, this record is another fully successful effort from one of the best bands in the hard rock and metal community.

Sevendust has, for more than 25 years, proven itself and then some as one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community thanks to its albums, its live shows and connection to its fans.  The band’s forthcoming 13th album Blood & Stone only serves to cement that reputation even more.  It takes the best elements of the band’s existing albums and builds on them to make yet another work that is solid from start to end.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, that whole makes Blood & Stone one more of this year’s definite top new hard rock and metal albums, and Sevendust still one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community.  More information on Sevendust’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.sevendust.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sevendust

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

Aittala Signs New Record Deal; Offers Album Updates

Courtesy: Exitus Stratagem Records

Independent hard rock band Aittala has a new update for fans.

The band has signed a new record deal with independent record label Exitus Stratagem Records. The deal puts the band alongside fellow North Carolina-based bands Motor Junkie, Overlord SR, and Alter The Deal, who are also signed with the label.

With the new record deal finalized, the band has announced its plans to re-issue its fourth album American Nightmare in early 2021. Additionally, the band is working on its next new album, with plans to release the album in late 2021.

More information on Aittala’s new record deal and releases is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.aitala.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AittalaMusic

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