Goosebumps Suffers From Scripting Issues But Is Still Spooky Fun

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Columbia Pictures

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Columbia Pictures

Prequels, sequels, and remakes. It seems that there is no end in sight to Hollywood’s trend of churning out prequels, sequels, and remakes. Even the biopics and “based on actual events” flicks that were once so prevalent have largely taken a back seat to all of the prequels, sequels, and remakes out there and on the way. That is not to say that they are nonexistent. But they are not as prevalent right now as the aforementioned offerings from Hollywood’s major studios. So whenever a movie that is not a prequel, sequel, or remake hits theaters it is a reason to celebrate. However in the case of Columbia Pictures’ adaptation of author R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and FOX Kids TV series there was not as much reason to celebrate as one might hope. That remains the case now that the movie has been released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital platforms. The movie is a fun turn-off-your brain flick that fans of Stine’s Goosebumps franchise will enjoy. It is also a nice escape from the endless stream of prequels, sequels, and remakes being churned out by Hollywood’s major studios. But it is anything but perfect. It has its flaws. They are mainly in the story’s writing. That will be discussed shortly. Its flaws aside, it still has enough positives to make it a breath of fresh air at a time when Hollywood is polluting theaters and store shelves with its endless ocean of prequels, sequels, and remakes if only a small breath.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s new take on author R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps franchise is a breath of fresh air in a seemingly endless ocean of prequels, sequels, and remakes that is drowning audiences and theaters figuratively speaking. That is thanks in large part to the movie’s writing. The writing team of Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski crafted a story that does something few if any other literary-based movies do.  It takes Stine’s beloved family friendly horror stories and their characters, and uses them for a story that really is a tribute to Stine and his legacy in the literary world. This is important to note first because so many other movies based on books just take said books and essentially re-imagines them. On another level it doesn’t go the comic book to screen route either. So many movies based on comic books just throw a bunch of different story arcs together from different issues to make one story. Lemke and his partners don’t go that route either. It just uses Stine’s characters and stories as the basis for a story that pays tribute to said characters and stories in its own original tale. It is a story that sees Stine (played here by Jack Black—Shallow Hal, School of Rock, Kung-Fu Panda Trilogy) having to work with his “daughter” (hint: she isn’t really his daughter. That is all that will be revealed here in terms of that) and two local boys in order to get his literary monsters back in their books. The thing is that the search for the escaped monsters is caused by one of the two boys—Zach (Dylan Minnette—R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour, Scandal, Lost). This is where things with the writing become a little bit dicey.

The overall approach taken to Goosebumps by its trio of writers is in itself a major positive to this take on R.L. Stine’s beloved literary franchise. As positive as the trio’s approach proves to be for the movie’s presentation the script in whole suffers from having so many hands in the proverbial pot. Having so many hands in the pot led the script to develop some noticeable plot issues beginning with the story’s setup. If not for Zach and his friend Champ (who is randomly introduced only minutes ahead of the key scene) sneaking into Stine’s house in search of Stine’s “daughter” Hannah (Odeya Rush – The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Giver, We Are What We Are) then the monsters might never have gotten free. That is because the whole chain of events was set off by Zach. And it wasn’t accidental either. If not for his impulsive behavior (brought on largely by teenage hormones) then the hunt for Stine’s monsters never would have happened. In other words Zach and company end up having to solve a problem that was caused by Zach in the first place. Sound familiar? Disney and Marvel studios used a similar plotline for its recent blockbuster sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Avengers had to stop a megalo-maniacal robot created by one of their own in that movie. I.E. they had to clean up a mess ultimately created by one of their own. Many of the classic creature features that were so popular in the 1950s and 60s also ended up centering on the American military having to stop giant mutant monsters that they created through their nuclear testing. Of course the military never told the populace that they caused the problem along the way. The Avengers 2 was very similar in this fashion and so was Goosebumps. Stine and company never make it known that Zach essentially caused the problem. So it goes without saying that Goosebumps’ core plot is anything but original. What’s more, as with those older movies, there is a giant, gaping plot hole in that the only ones that know the cause of the conflict are the ones that caused the conflict in the first place. Why are they the only ones that know? This has always been a sorely overlooked issue with monster movies. And it needs to be addressed by writers, studio heads, critics, and audiences alike. It is just one of the problems that weighs down this monster movie, too. There is also an issue in character introduction/development that must be addressed within the movie’s script.

The major issue with Goosebumps’ story is its setup. It is a setup that presents an age-old plot hole which reaches all the way back to the creature features of the 1950s and 60s. It’s just one of the problems that weighs down this script. Another major problem with this movie’s script lies in the introduction of Zach’s friend Champ (Ryan Lee – Super 8, This Is 40, Trophy Wife). Zach is randomly introduced in a school assembly scene about a quarter of the way through the movie. This comes after Zach had told his mother Gale (played by Amy Ryan – Birdman, Gone Baby Gone, Escape Plan) that he didn’t want anyone knowing that he was the new kid at the school where Gale was the new vice principal. Now if he didn’t want anyone knowing he was the new kid, how did Champ know at the assembly that Zach was the new kid? There was no background offered on this within the context of the movie’s script or in any bonus material. That makes this very much a problematic plot hole especially being that the two just happen to get along and cause the very problem which sets up the movie’s central story line. Again, it is just one more of so many problems presented in the movie’s script. There is one more problem—a dual-part problem—that must be addressed. That problem lies in the relationship between Zach and Hannah.

The central story line behind Goosebumps’ and the random introduction of Champ into the story are in themselves a couple of very problematic issues with the movie’s script. They are not the only issues that the movie’s script presents either. The relationship between Zach and Hannah is one more problem that must be addressed. That is because it actually presents three major issues that cannot be overlooked. The first problem lies in the pair’s relationship. The high school, puppy-love scenario is anything but original in the horror movie genre. The boy next door falling for the girl next door, who is herself in grave danger is one of the most overly used story elements in the world of horror movies. In other words, it is yet another unoriginal aspect thrown into the movie. Moving forward in the script, the story’s final scene presents its own problem. The scene in question won’t be revealed for the sake of those that have yet to see the movie. But needless to say it plays back into a statement made by Hannah earlier in the movie in regards to her revelation about her identity. Considering the revelation and that final scene it essentially negates everything that had developed between the pair. This includes the related issue of Zach even searching for Hannah early on when he thought something had happened to her. Since she was obviously in the house when he and Champ went looking for her, how could she have not heard them in the basement in the first place? Why did it take Zach and Champ getting into Stine’s study for her to find them? One would think that this would have been addressed before script went to screen. If she had stopped them early on they might have never made it to Stine’s study and in turn caused the problem that led to the movie’s central story. It all comes full circle. And being all tied together, all of the noted issues with the movie’s scripting show why three heads are not better than two and for that matter that two heads are not better than one. Luckily for viewers, for all of the script’s problems those problems don’t make Goosebumps entirely unwatchable. The movie’s special effects department does its part to make the movie watchable as do some of the cast members.

There are a number of problems with Goosebumps in regards to its script, as noted. As a matter of fact there are even more problems than just the trio that are listed here. For all of the problems posed by the movie’s script, they are not enough to make the movie a total loss. There actually are some positives other than just the writers’ overall approach to the movie. Another of those positives is the work of the movie’s special effects department. The special effects department is to be applauded for its work in bringing to life Stine’s monsters. From Slappy the dummy to the abominable snowman to the giant praying mantis and the evil gnomes every one of the monsters resurrected for this movie look outstanding. It is obvious that they are computer generated. But even in being computer generated those behind their creation went to painstaking efforts to make them not look like just another bunch of computer generated creatures. To a certain point their design throws back to the monsters of the old creature features from the 1950s and 60s. This is especially the case with the blob and the mantis. It is obvious not just in their design but in how they move, too. Little elements like that make them all the more believable and enjoyable to watch as they wreak havoc on the town. Being so believable makes them all the more enjoyable to watch, yet again exhibiting why the work of the movie’s special effects department proves to be so important to Goosebumps’ presentation. It is not the last notable positive involved in this movie. The cast’s work in front of the camera is just as notable as that of the special effects department.

The approach taken to Goosebumps in regards to its overall story and the work of the movie’s special effects department are both key to the movie’s presentation. While both elements are important in their own right to the movie’s presentation they are not the only notable positives. The work of the cast is just as notable as the movie’s other positives. This is especially the case with Jack Black. Black is billed as the movie’s lead. But in watching the movie he is in reality more of a supporting character even playing the famed children’s horror author. The lead roles belong to his younger counterparts. Black shows throughout that he understands this and never tries to take over any of the scenes, opting instead to let his younger cohorts have their time in the spotlight. What’s more audiences will note that the buffoonery for which he is commonly known is nearly nonexistent in his portrayal of Stine. That is not to say that he doesn’t have a few moments in which that side of him comes out. But even when they do they are few and far between. Rather Black takes his experience and centers it in a way that gives his humor a drier, more focused presentation. For those that have ever seen the real life R.L. Stine interview, this means that Black’s portrayal of Stine is pretty close even with his occasional moments of goofiness. On a related note Ryan Scott Lee is just as entertaining as Champ. In all honesty it could be argued that he actually outshines Minnette with his portrayal of the high-strung and somewhat neurotic Champ. One can’t help but laugh as he pleads with Minnette about going into Stine’s basement versus being Zach’s lookout. He easily could have hammed it up in this moment. But instead he nailed the moment. And when he saves the girl from the werewolf later in the movie his momentary hesitance, while small, shows great character growth. For that he is to be applauded just as much. Of course Minnette is entertaining in his own right as he plays the hormonally challenged Zach. Audiences won’t be able to help but laugh at his portrayal at least somewhat because of the number of male leads that have been so much like Zach in other horror movies. Minnette never overdoes it in his portrayal. But he does just enough to make it clear that he is poking some fun at those male characters. His work is just one more way in which the work of Goosebumps’ cast proves to be just as important to the movie as that of the movie’s special effects department and its writers for their overall approach to the story. Even with the number of problems with the movie’s script the overall approach to the story still sits as a key element to the movie’s presentation. And together with the work of those both in front of and behind the camera the movie proves in whole to be good, spooky fun for the whole family.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Columbia Pictures’ new Goosebumps feature is an interesting new take of R.L. Stine’s literary franchise. That is because it presents an approach unlike most other movies based on literary works. Yes, it presents a number of problems in its scripting. But luckily those problems, while glaring, are not enough to make the movie completely unwatchable. That is because the work of the movie’s cast and its special effects makes up for the script’s various problems. In the end the movie proves that while it might have flopped at the box office (it hemorrhaged money right from the get go in terms of ticket sales, and only got worse from there) it is still a movie that anyone familiar with the Goosebumps franchise will agree is good, spooky fun that is worth at least one watch if no more. It is available now in stores and online on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.

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Crossing Rubicon’s Debut LP Is No Less Than Everything That Rock Purists Want

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Earlier this month up-and-coming hard rock act Crossing Rubicon released its debut full-length studio recording No Less Than Everything. The Connecticut-based band’s twelve-song, fifty-five minute record boasts a fitting title. That is because it is everything that makes rock great today. Over the course of its near hour-long run time the album mixes elements of classic 80s hard rock (versus 80s hair metal) with more modern hard rock elements for a record that is set to make Crossing Rubicon potentially one of the next big names in the mainstream rock realm.

Crossing Rubicon is set to potentially become one of the next big names in the mainstream rock realm today. Of course that is given it receives the right support from audiences and rock radio programmers across the country. The album’s lead single ‘Unhinged’ is one example of what makes this album worth the support. It is exemplified through both the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content. The song’s musical arrangement clearly displays the band’s mix of 80s hard rock influences thanks to guitarists Zach Lambert and Jesse Near. What’s really interesting about the duo’s approach to the song is that its mix of classic and modern hard rock is nearly seamless in its approach. Rather the duo blurs the line between the two elements for a sound that will entertain fans of both worlds. Even the chorus has that vibe of classic hard rock chorus chants as the band sings, “I become unhinged/I break away from these chains/Like a tiger from his cage now/I’ve become unhinged/Let the demons come over/I’ve lost all control now.” Lambert and Near’s dual guitar approach adds even more to that vibe. The song’s lyrical content adds even more impact as front man Scott Anarchy sings, “I can’t find/The means to find a whisper/To the voices all control over me/You realize/There’s no turning back now/Your oppression’s brought Pandora’s release.” Later in the song Anarchy and company ask, “Am I the monster you created before turning and noting that “I am the monster you created.” The message being delivered is obvious especially thanks to the message that precedes the song in which Anarchy notes the power of music in life. The message is one of a person having been pushed to the edge and become unhinged. That is because said person had no outlet to prevent the drastic actions. The message is in itself a powerful statement. The song’s musical arrangement makes it even harder hitting. That is because of the power in the arrangement. Both elements together make this song a clear example of why Crossing Rubicon’s debut album deserves support from listeners and radio programmers alike. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via the band’s official website at http://www.crossingrubiconband.com. It is just one example of what makes the album worth the chance, too. ‘Who’s Gonna Save You’ is another example of what makes Rubicon Cross’ debut album worth the chance.

‘Unhinged’ is a clear example in its own right as to why No Less Than Everything deserves a chance both by radio programmers and audiences in general. The mix of the song’s musical arrangement and its thought-inspiring lyrical content proves this. It’s just one example of what makes this record worth hearing at least once. ‘Who’s Gonna Save You’ is another example of what makes this record worth hearing. Whereas ‘Unhinged’ mixes the band’s older and more modern influences the latter is more of a directly modern composition. That is made clear through Lambert and Near’s slower and heavier crunching guitar lines. Drummer Brandi Hood’s adds to that sound thanks to her pummeling, consistent time keeping. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as the song’s musical arrangement. Anarchy really gets listeners thinking here as he sings from a first-person perspective of someone that has some real disgust for a certain unnamed party. He sings, “You came here to let it go/I am your life’s abomination/You insult me/Who do you think you are/You regret me/This is all your fault.” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “I am/the face you can’t forget/I am/Your false messiah/Turn off the light/Salvation’s not far away/I am/The beast inside your heart/I am/The last temptation/Who’s gonna save you/Who’s gonna save you now.” It is a rather sharp statement. And considering the line in which he and his band mates state, “I am the beast inside your heart” one can only wonder if the figure that is speaking is not physical but perhaps mental. Perhaps this is a person struggling with himself or herself. That being the case the song’s lyrical content becomes even harder hitting and thought-provoking. That content coupled with the song’s musical content makes the song in whole one more example of the album’s depth, which in turn makes the album in whole worth hearing at least once. It is still not the only remaining example of what makes No Less Than Everything worth hearing. ‘Bittersweet’ is one more example of what makes this record worth hearing.

‘Unhinged’ and ‘Who’s Gonna Save You’ are both clear examples of what makes Crossing Rubicon’s debut album a good start for the band and worth hearing at least once. They are hardly the only songs worth noting in regards to noting the album’s strengths, though. ‘Bittersweet Day’ is yet another example of what makes the album a good start for the band. Whereas ‘Unhinged’ displays the band’s classic and modern hard rock influences and ‘Who’s Gonna Save You’ stays more on the modern rock side, ‘Bittersweet Day’ tends to stay more on the side of classic hard rock. The band wastes no time with this song. It launches right into the composition with Lambert and Near once again leading the way alongside Anarchy. [Brandi] Hood and bassist Jeanne Sagan establish the song’s foundation with a solid driving tempo and harmony respectively. In regards to the song’s lyrical content the song’s chorus seems to speak the loudest. Anarchy and company sing in the song’s chorus, “It’s alright/I’m okay/I’m not tryin’ to make it better/It’s a long road I must take/To end this bittersweet day.” The bittersweet day in question is illustrated by so much negativity surrounding the song’s main subject. Said subject seems to come across as saying that he/she knows the road isn’t easy but it is one that must be taken rather than avoided. How many people out there would rather avoid those difficult proverbial roads than face them and deal with all of the negativity in life? That seems to be what Anarchy and company are discussing here. Their subject knows that the easy way isn’t the way. That is of course just this critic’s own interpretation of these lyrics. They could, as always, be completely off. Hopefully they aren’t. Regardless, that Anarchy and company could craft such a deep lyrical song shows yet again the album’s overall depth in regards to its lyrical content. The song’s musical content partners with that lyrical content to make for one more solid addition to Crossing Rubicon’s debut full-length effort and why this album in whole is worth hearing at least once by any rock purist audience or otherwise. If course it still is not the last remaining example of what makes this album worth hearing. Any of the nine remaining songs not noted here could just as easily be cited in that argument. Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves to be a solid first full effort from Crossing Rubicon and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Crossing Rubicon’s debut album No Less Than Everything is a record that every rock purist should hear at least once. This includes both general audiences and mainstream rock radio programmers. The reason being that the band has presented a dozen tracks in this record that seamlessly mix the band’s classic hard rock influences and its modern hard rock influences. The album’s overall lyrical content makes the album just as interesting as each song’s lyrical theme is sure to leave listeners talking long after the record has ended. The combination of both elements together make No Less Than Everything no less than everything that rock purists should hope for in a rock record. It is available now in stores and online. More information on No Less Than Everything is available along with more information on the band, its tour dates, news and more at:

Website: http://www.crossingrubiconband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RubiconCT

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PBS To Release Two New Episodes Of NOVA Next Month

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS Distribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

Next month PBS will release two new episodes of its hit science-based series NOVA on DVD. First up is an episode that takes audiences back in time to Earth’s earliest days in another new episode of NOVA. Later in the month NOVA: Mystery Beneath The Ice will be released. It, too will be released on DVD.

PBS and PBS Distribution will release NOVA: Life’s Rocky Start on Tuesday, March 8th. The program follows mineralogist Robert Hazen as he goes globe-hopping in a journey to uncover how Earth’s rocks and its earliest microbes worked together to form Earth in its infancy. Hazen goes from an ancient Moroccan market all the way down to the Australia Outback in his search for answers in the roughly hour-long presentation. As his journey progresses so does the story of Earth’s co-evolution” from its infancy up to modern day.

NOVA: Life’s Rocky Start will be released Tuesday, March 8th. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99. It can be pre-ordered online at a discounted price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85850026&cp=&kw=nova+lifes+rocky+start&origkw=nova+life%27s+rocky+start&sr=1. Audiences can see a trailer for this episode online now via NOVA’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pjsrj3-40U/.

 

 

Courtesy:  PBS/PBS DIstribution

Courtesy: PBS/PBS DIstribution

Later in the month, on March 22nd, PBS Distribution will release another new episode of NOVA in the form of NOVA: Mystery Beneath The Ice. This episode of NOVA examines the impact of climate change on krill. Krill are a key component of Antarctica’s fragile ecosystem. However their numbers have been disturbingly decreasing in recent years. One theory for the decline in krill population is that their body clocks, which are tied in to changing Antarctic ice pack, has been thrown off due to climate change. That change in their body clocks, it is theorized, is leading to less numbers of krill reproducing, thus decreasing their numbers.

Audiences go along with researchers aboard the Polarstern, a state-of-the-art research vessel, into the Antarctic as they search for answers beneath the waters of the region. They search for ice caves beneath the surface that protect juvenile krill in the winter as part of their efforts and examine how the changing seasons coupled with climate change impact krill populations.  Audiences can view a trailer for this episode online now via NOVA’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdNO-kzmCwk.

NOVA: Mystery Beneath The Ice will be released Tuesday, March 22nd. It will retail for MSRP of $24.99. It can be ordered at a discounted price of $19.99 online via PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=85850036&cp=&kw=mystery+beneath+the+ice&origkw=mystery+beneath+the+ice&sr=1. More information on these episodes of NOVA and others is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

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

 

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A Life In Song Will Resonate Loud And Clear With Bacharach’s Fans

Burt Bacharach A Life in Song BD Box ArtBurt Bacharach is one of the most revered figures in the music industry today.  Over the course of his more than three-decade long career, Bacharach composed some of the industry’s most popular songs.  Those songs include the likes of: ‘What The World Needs Now,’ ‘What’s New Pussycat,’ ‘Alfie,’ and so many others.  His songs have been featured on the radio, in movies, and even on Broadway.  Needless to say that considering all of this, his successes are far more than could potentially be listed in one sitting.  Last year Bacharach was honored for his numerous contributions to the world with a special tribute concert on the BBC.  The concert featured artists such as Joss Stone, Justin Hayward, Rebecca Ferguson, and others performing Bacharach’s biggest hits and some slightly lesser-known pieces all while Bacharach watched.  It was a momentous occasion that Bacharach’s fans will get to enjoy for themselves thanks to the BBC and Eagle Rock Entertainment in the form of the new live recording Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song.  The performance of Bacharach’s hit songs is by itself just one part of what makes this recording a must have for his fans.  It is just one part of what makes this recording so interesting.  Between songs, Bacharach is interviewed by the BBC’s Michael Grade.  So not only do audiences get to hear some of Bacharach’s greatest hits but they also get to hear from Bacharach as he discusses the inspiration behind his songs and other topics.  Last but hardly least of note with this concert is its production values.  The concert looks and sounds wonderful especially considering the size of the venue.  Each element plays its own important part in the recording’s overall presentation.  Altogether they make Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song a recording that anyone familiar with Bacharach’s songs should experience at least once.

Burt Bacharach: A Life In Song is one of the most complete collections of songs from the legendary songwriter to be presented in any format in recent memory.  The twenty-four song set (that is including its two bonus songs) is a recording that anyone familiar with Bacharach’s work should experience at least once.  The performances that are featured throughout the recording make up the central reason for it being worth the watch.  Moody Blues front man Justin Hayward and famed singer Joss Stone are joined by the likes of Alfie Bow, Rebecca Ferguson, Michael Kiwanuka, and a number of others as they perform Bacharach’s beloved compositions.  Those songs include the likes of: ‘That’s What Friends Are For,’ ‘What The World Needs Now,’ ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,’ and so many others.  Staying on the topic of the performers, most American audiences likely will only recognize Stone and Hayward whereas audiences overseas will likely be more familiar with the other noted performers.  This is a good thing all the way around.  Audiences that are familiar with the noted artists will appreciate their inclusion in the concert and their performances.  Those that are less familiar with the featured artists will appreciate their performances because they serve as an introduction to those artists, and an impressive introduction at that.  The performance on the part of the featured artists is just as much to note.  In watching each of the concert’s featured artists, their reverence and respect for Bacharach’s work is obvious.  It shows in turn a real reverence and respect for Bacharach and for his legacy.  It is a respect that translates so well on screen and in turn makes the experience all the more enjoyable for audiences at home.

The performances that are presented in Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Burt Bacharach tribute concert are in themselves hugely important to the recording’s overall presentation.  That is because the artists that present each performance are likely more well-known among UK audiences than American audiences.  Though, Joss Stone and Justin Hayward are relatively known by American audiences.  That means that American audiences will be introduced to these artists that they otherwise would not have known about all while even being introduced to some of the most beloved compositions in the American songbook.  While this proves to be of the utmost importance to the recording it is just one element that is worth noting in the recording’s overall presentation.  The interviews conducted by host Michael Grade are just as important to the recording’s presentation as its performances.  That is because audiences are treated to Bacharach’s own insights into the songs and other topics throughout the concert.  Audiences learn early on that had Bacharach not given up playing soccer (football) he might never have taken on becoming a songwriter.  It’s a heck of a change.  But as popular and respected as he has become throughout his career it goes without saying that he made the right choice.  Audiences also learn that the inspiration behind another of the concert’s featured songs was in fact from a personal experience with a young lady in his younger years.  The song’s inspiration is actually rather funny to be honest.  Even Bacharach himself laughs as he recalls what led to the song’s creation.  There is even a technical discussion of sorts in which Bacharach discusses the structure of another song in regards to it being played in one key versus another.  That discussion leads Bacharach to take to the piano and play said song himself.  The song won’t be revealed here so as to not spoil the experience for those that have yet to see the concert.  It’s just one more way in which the discussions held between Bacharach and Grade make the overall experience in Bacharach’s new live recording so enjoyable for his fans. It makes the concert not just a concert but a clinic of sorts, too. It all makes for an experience that will keep Bacharach’s fans fully engaged from beginning to end. It still is not the last element worth noting in this recording. The recording’s production values are just as important to its presentation as any of its other elements.

Both the performances presented in Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song and Bacharach’s interview segments are key in their own way to the recording’s overall presentation. While both elements are equally important to the recording they would not be worth mentioning without mention of the recording’s production values—its video and audio mix. Those that perhaps have never had the pleasure of visiting London’s Royal Festival Hall will be amazed at the venue’s spaciousness. While not as immensely large as say the Royal Albert Hall it is still a rather large venue in its own right. Being such a spacious concert hall it would have been easy for the sound to echo quite a bit. This is even with the featured songs being so soft and gentle. Yet those behind the audio boards and in post-production handled their duties with the utmost expertise. They captured the full emotion of each song as it fills the hall. The echoes are there but they are fully controlled from start to finish. The video mix is just as impressive as the concert’s audio mix. That is because it captures just as expertly the juxtaposition of the performers on stage to the size of the venue. Seeing that juxtaposition it makes for even more appreciation for the work put in to balancing the concert’s audio. It also creates a certain appreciation of the construction of the Royal Festival Hall and by direct connection the control that each of the invited artists exhibit in the concert. It all ties together in one complete presentation that in whole will impress any of Bacharach’s fans. All things considered Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song proves in the end to be a concert that any of the legendary songwriter’s fans should experience at least once if not more times.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new BBC tribute to Burt Bacharach is a recording that any of Bacharach’s fans should experience at least once if not more times. That is proven through a variety of elements not the least of which being the performances presented by the concert’s featured artists. Bacharach’s one-on-one interview segments with host Michael Grade are just as important to the recording as its performances. That is because it allows Bacharach to explain in his own right the inspiration behind many of his biggest hits and other topics. The expert work done in the concert’s recording and its post-production round out the recording’s presentation. It ties the presentation together. Each element is important in its own right. Altogether they make Burt Bacharach: A Life in Song a presentation that Bacharach’s fans should experience at least once if not more times. It will be available Friday, February 26th in stores and online. It will be presented on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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ESPN Networks Focus On Conference Rivalries In This Week’s NBA Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The ESPN networks have another busy week of basketball for this week. And it all begins this afternoon on ESPN.

ESPN and its family of networks have another week of extensive NBA coverage for fans this week. It all begins this afternoon on ESPN with another new episode of The Jump. Host Rachel Nichols will have all of the latest NBA headlines. She will be joined by Tracy McGrady and Zach Lowe for insight and commentary into each headline. That is at 3pm ET on ESPN. Doris Burke, Jalen Rose, and Chauncey Billups pick things up at 7:30pm ET on ESPN’s NBA Countdown charged by Mountain Dew. The half-hour pre-game show will come ahead of tonight’s Eastern Conference match between the Wizards and Bulls. Chicago is in last place in the Eastern Conference’s playoff race while Washington is currently out of the hunt for a spot in the post season. So both teams will be playing hard albeit for different reasons. The Spurs and Kings round out the days’ coverage in the late game. Tipoff for the game is scheduled for 10:30pm ET on ESPN. Mark Jones and Mark Jackson will have the call for the game. Sacramento is well out of the playoff race. San Antonio on the other hand currently sits second in the Western Conference behind Golden State, which currently leads the conference at 50 – 5 so far on the season.

The ESPN networks’ NBA Coverage continues Thursday night on ESPN Radio as the Thunder host the Warriors in another Western Conference matchup with major playoff implications. Oklahoma City currently sits third in the Western Conference at 40 – 16, which is well back from the conference and league–leading Warriors (50 – 5). Rachel Nichols will have a preview of Thursday night’s game on Thursday afternoon’s edition of The Jump. Raja Bell and Zach Lowe will join Nichols for the 3:30pm ET broadcast on ESPN.

ESPN’s NBA coverage returns to television Friday evening in a double header schedule. First up on the schedule is an Eastern Conference matchup between the Bulls and Hawks. Both teams will be playing for their playoff lives in Friday night’s game. Atlanta currently sits sixth overall in the Eastern Conference, two games back from the conference-leading Cavaliers. Chicago meanwhile sits last in the conference’s playoff race eleven games back from Cleveland. Mark Jones will have the call for the game. He will be joined by Doris Burke for additional commentary. Later Friday night the Grizzlies and Lakers face off in the night’s Western Conference showdown. The Lakers (11 – 47) are at the bottom of the Western conference and completely out of the playoff picture. Memphis is still in the playoff picture, sitting fifth in the conference fourteen and a half games back from Golden State. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 10:30pm ET on ESPN. Dave Pash will have the call for the game. He will be joined by Jon Barry for additional commentary. Sage Steele, Jalen Rose, and Doug Collins will lead off the evening on ESPN’s NBA Countdown at 7:30pm ET. Earlier in the afternoon Rachel Nichols, Raja Bell, and Zach Lowe will preview both of the evening’s games on The Jump. That will be at 3:30pm ET on ESPN.

Golden State and Oklahoma round out the week’s NBA coverage on the ESPN networks Saturday on NBA Primetime on ABC. The game will be simulcast on ABC and ESPN Radio with tipoff scheduled for 8:30pm ET on ABC. Mike Breen will have the call for Saturday night’s game on television. On the radio side Kevin Calabro will have the call. Breen will be joined on ABC by Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and reporter Lisa Salters. PJ Carlesimo will join Kevin Calabro on ESPN Radio’s broadcast of Saturday night’s game.  Sage Steel, Jalen Rose, and Doug Collins will preview the game on NBA Countdown at 8 pm ET live on ABC.  The complete schedule for this week’s NBA coverage across the ESPN networks is noted below.

Date Time (ET) Telecast/Commentators Network (s)
 Wed, Feb 24 3:30 p.m. The Jump presented by State FarmRachel Nichols, Tracy McGrady, Zach Lowe ESPN
  7:30 p.m. NBA Countdown charged by Mountain DewDoris Burke, Jalen Rose, Chauncey Billups ESPN
  8 p.m. Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls presented by State FarmMike Breen, Jon Barry ESPN
  10:30 p.m. San Antonio Spurs at Sacramento Kings presented by State FarmMark Jones, Mark Jackson ESPN
Thu, Feb 25 1 a.m. NBA TonightCassidy Hubbarth, Brad Daugherty ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. The Jump presented by State FarmRachel Nichols, Raja Bell, Zach Lowe ESPN
  7:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City ThunderRadio: Kevin Calabro & PJ Carlesimo ESPN Radio
Fri, Feb 26 1 a.m. NBA TonightCassidy Hubbarth, Bruce Bowen ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. The Jump presented by State FarmRachel Nichols, Raja Bell, Zach Lowe ESPN
  7:30 p.m. NBA CountdownSage Steele, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ESPN
  8 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks presented by State FarmMark Jones, Doris Burke ESPN
  10:30 p.m. Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Lakers presented by State FarmDave Pasch, Jon Barry ESPN
Sat, Feb 27 1 a.m. NBA TonightCassidy Hubbarth, Jorge Sedano ESPN2
  8 p.m. NBA CountdownSage Steele, Jalen Rose, Doug Collins ABC
8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder presented by La QuintaMike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Lisa Salters

Radio: Kevin Calabro, P.J. Carlesimo

 

More information on this week’s NBA coverage across the ESPN networks is available online now along with all of the latest NBA headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nba

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

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Holy Grail Announces More Live Dates

Holy Grail Devildriver Tour PosterHoly Grail just kicked off its latest tour yesterday and already the California-based five-piece has announced plans for even more dates.

Holy Grail announced this week that it will join Devildriver on the road this spring.  This comes as the band has just embarked on a thirty-seven date tour alongside Black Tusk and The Well.  The band’s upcoming tour will see it serve as support act for Devildriver.  The tour launches Wednesday, April 27th in Las Vegas, NV and runs through Saturday, June 18th in San Diego, California.  It also includes dates in Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, and a number of other cities.  Incite and Hemlock are also scheduled to serve as support acts to Devildriver for the upcoming tour.  Holy Grail’s upcoming dates and current tour schedule are listed in whole below.

 

TOUR DATES

2/24 Richmond, VA – 25 Watt #

2/25 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #

2/26 Boston, MA – Once Ballroom #

2/27 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus #

2/29 Burlington, VT – Nectars #

3/1 Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle #

3/2 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques #

3/3 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck #

3/4 Detroit, MI – Berserker Fest @ The Masonic Temple #

3/5 Chicago, IL – Reggies #

3/6 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #

3/7 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock #

3/8 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium #

3/9 Winnipeg, MB – The Windsor Hotel #

3/11 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina #

3/12 Edmonton, AB – Brixx #

3/13 Calgary, AB – Palomino #

3/14 Kamloops, BC – The Office #

3/16 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore #

3/19 Portland, OR – Panic Room #

3/20 Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub #

3/22 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst #

3/23 San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge #

3/24 Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room #

4/27 Las Vegas, NV – Vinyl &

4/29 Boise,  ID – Knitting Factory &

4/30 Seattle, WA – Studio Seven &

5/1 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory &

5/3 Grand Junction, CO – Mesa Theatre &

5/5 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room &

5/6 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave &

5/8 Flint, MI – Machine Shop &

5/9 Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts &

5/10 Nashville, TN – Exit/In &

5/11 Grand Rapids, MI  – The Stache &

6/13 Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon &

6/14 St. Louis, MO – Fubar &

6/16 Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater &

6/17 Window Rock, AZ – Window Rock Sports Center &

6/18 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick &

# with Black Tusk

& with DevilDriver, Incite & Hemlock

 

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

The newly announced dates for Holy Grail’s upcoming tour are just the latest in the band’s ongoing efforts to promote its latest full-length studio recording Times of Pride and Peril.  The band also toured with Night Demon late last year and performed at Death Angel’s 2nd Annual Christmas Show last December.  And as noted, the band just hit the road for a late winter/spring tour in support of Times of Pride and Peril on February 23rdTimes of Pride and Peril debuted at #9 on Billboard’s New Artists Chart in its release earlier this month.  It also landed at #14 in the magazine’s Hard Music Chart, and #35 in the Independent Artist Chart.  It sold more than 1,500 copies within its first week of release.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and Prosthetic Records’ online store.  More information on Holy Grail’s tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.holygrailofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/holygrailband

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Children and Children Of The 80s Will Enjoy Liz DeRoche’s Latest Children’s LP

Courtesy:  AlphaBeat Records

Courtesy: AlphaBeat Records

Six years ago Liz DeRoche (a.k.a. The Singing Lizard) launched her professional music career in the nation’s capital. In the years since then she has kept herself quite busy, founding a record label–AlphaBeat Records–performing both solo and with other acts–The Pushovers (since 2009) Cane and The Sticks (since 2011), and Tom Goss (since 2013). She has also recorded with Gross on his latest record, 2014’s Wait. She also toured with Goss in support of his new LP. As if all of that isn’t enough, her efforts garnered her the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Young Artist Grants (2010 and 2011) as well as the #1 spot in Nickelodeon Parents’ Pick Awards “Party Entertainer” category. And since 2009 she has worked with Girls Rock, a non-profit for girls to help them develop self confidence, build community, and make music. One can only wonder considering all that the now San Francisco Bay area-based children’s entertainer has done and is doing, how does she do it all? The answer is anybody’s guess. But somehow she has. And somehow she continues to do so as is evidenced in her upcoming album Club Called Awesome. The thirteen-song record is a testament to DeRoche’s drive and love for her craft. That is thanks in large part to its musical content. Comparisons to the likes of Regina Spektor and Daft Punk are (in this critic’s view) incorrect in regards to the album’s musical content. It sounds more akin to R&B from the 80s and early 90s That’s just one aspect of this thirty-seven minute record that makes it so interesting. Its varied lyrical themes are just as notable as its musical content. Last but hardly least of note in this album is its companion booklet. That will be discussed later. Each element is in its own right an important part of the album’s whole. Altogether all three elements make Club Called Awesome an album that the entire family will truly enjoy.

Liz DeRoche’s new children’s album Club Called Awesome is one of the most standout recordings to be turned out so far this year in the children’s music world. It is an album that the entire family truly will enjoy from beginning to end. That is thanks in large part to the album’s throwback musical content. DeRoche’s sound has been likened over the years to the likes of Regina Spektor and Daft Punk. But in the case of this album DeRoche’s sound is anything but. Instead she has presented here a sound that is (in the ears of this critic) more of a throwback to the R&B sound of the 80s and early 90s. It comes complete with synthesizers, and other standard R&B elements that made the sound what it was in that era. It’s a sound that is very rare both in today’s mainstream R&B realm and even in the realm of children’s music. There are poppy songs out there. There are even more uptempo rock style compositions out there. Heck, there are even rap/hip-hop albums for children. But the sound presented in this record is seemingly rare in the world of children’s music. To that extent it makes the album stand out against its counterparts both past and present. What’s more, being a sound that will be familiar to so many older audiences, it is just as accessible for said listeners, too. It all feels entirely natural, too. Keeping all of this in mind the album’s musical content proves in itself to be a highly important element in the album’s overall presentation. It is of course not the only important part of the album’s presentation. The album’s varied lyrical themes are just as important to the album as its vintage musical sound.

The vintage R&B sound that populates the body of Liz DeRoche’s new album is in itself a hugely important part of the album’s overall presentation. However it is not the only key element in the album’s presentation. The varied lyrical themes that are presented throughout the course of the album’s thirteen tracks. In regards to those themes, audiences will especially appreciate the message of self-confidence despite the country’s gender roles and mores in ‘Be Yourself.’ Hers is not the first song to ever buck America’s established gender roles in her music. But she does present the message in her own original fashion. The result is a song that when coupled with its musical content becomes the album’s lead anchor. ‘Peace Sign’ closes out the album. And while it is the album’s closer its message of peace is just as important to note as the messages presented in any of the album’s other songs. It isn’t one of those preachy songs that one might expect. Rather it is just a song about making a peace sign with one’s hands. She sings here, “Let me see your hand/Raise it high in the sky/Make a peace sign/Point around the middle/Fly/Peace sign altogether/Enjoying one another/Show me your peace sign.” It’s pretty basic content since that is all she sings throughout the course of the (once again) throwback style song. The thing is that even with these being the song’s only lyrics they become surprisingly infectious thanks to them being coupled with the song’s musical content. Being so infectious the message presented will get stuck in listeners’ heads and in turn perhaps grow and stay there throughout the years. For all of the heavy and serious themes tackled in the album’s lyrical content, they are not the only themes that are presented here. There is some more light-hearted fare in ‘Beat Bot The Robot.’ While the robot does play a part in the song, its part in the song is minimal at best. That is because in the song’s story DeRoche’s characters don’t meet the robot until they are well on their way in their trip through the cosmos. The robot is a fun companion for the subjects to have, too. But it is really the journey that is central to the song. And young listeners will enjoy going on that journey with DeRoche’s subjects. The song’s musical content set against that fun journey makes the journey just as fun for grown-ups with its own original throwback sound. The combination of the two elements together makes the song just one more example of the importance of this album’s lyrical content. It is hardly the last example, too. Each of the ten remaining songs exemplify in their own way what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to the album’s presentation. Together with the album’s musical content both elements come together to show why this album is a wonderful collection of songs not just for children but for grown-ups, too. Of course they still are not the only important elements to note in the overall picture of the album’s presentation. The album’s companion booklet is just as important as its musical and lyrical content.

The musical and lyrical content that is presented throughout Liz DeRoche’s new children’s album is unquestionably important in its overall presentation. They work together to make the album one that adults will enjoy just as much as their younger counterparts. They aren’t the album’s only important elements, though. The album’s companion booklet is just as important to the album’s presentation as its primary content. It is presented in a comic book fashion complete with separate panels. Those that pay close attention with note that each of the 4-panel pages directly connects to each of the album’s thirteen songs. They tell their own very short stories. But they also present lyrics from each of the album’s songs throughout. It’s a fun and wholly original way to get young listeners interested in said content and in turn get those same listeners even more engaged in the album. DeRoche is to be applauded for using this avenue to connect to her younger audiences. It is ingenious. It solidly bridges the album’s primary content to this, its secondary content, resulting in the end in an album that the whole family truly will enjoy from beginning to end.

Club Called Awesome is a rare album in the realm of children’s music. That is because it can be said with full certainty that it is one of those very rare offerings that the whole family truly can and will enjoy together. Parents will enjoy the album’s throwback to the 80s and early 90s in its musical presentation. It varied lyrical themes play their own pivotal part in the album’s enjoyment. They range from the serious (E.g. ‘Peace Sign’ and ‘Be Yourself’) to the much more easygoing (E.g. ‘Beat Bot The Robot,’ ‘Club Called Awesome,’ ‘My Balloon’) throughout. The album’s companion booklet presents an original and solid bridge between the album’s primary content and its secondary (the booklet). It is a presentation in itself that is just as certain to engage and entertain younger listeners. It is the finishing touch to an album that the whole family truly will enjoy from beginning to end and in turn will agree is one of the best of this year’s crop of children’s musical offerings so far. It will be available Friday, March 25th. While audiences wait for it to drop they can enjoy the video for another of the album’s songs, ‘Show Me Your Happy.’ The video sets DeRoche’s song against the backdrop of an animated video in which a young child shows what seems to be a group of abominable snowmen (and women) how to be happy. The video’s animation style is wholly original and will impress audiences just as much as the song, which gets audiences to show others their own happy. The video is streaming online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R4ufdFzIvk&feature=youtu.be. More information on the video is available online along with all of DeRoche’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://thesinginglizard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SingingLizard

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.