“POTC 5” Is A Welcome Return to Form For Disney’s “Pirates Of The Caribbean” Franchise

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

More than 14 years ago, Disney brought to audiences what was one of the company’s biggest and best movies of its rich, decades-long history when it released Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. That nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie, based on a ride at one of the company’s theme parks, proved to be its own enjoyable and successful action packed cinematic ride. In the years since its July 9, 2003 theatrical debut, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has become less enjoyable with each entry. It fell so far from the glory of that first movie that when it was originally announced that Disney would make the franchise’s fifth film, Dead Men Tell No Tales, much speculation was raised along with plenty of eyebrows. Every bit of that speculation was justified considering the problems with the franchise’s second through fourth installments. The reality of the franchise’s latest (and hopefully last) installment is that it proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable addition to the series. that is due in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. The movie’s stylistic approach is just as important to note in examining this movie as the story itself. It will be discussed later. The work of the movie’s cast puts the finishing touch on its presentation. Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s overall presentation. All things considered, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales proves itself a treasure in its own right even with its problems.

Pirates of the Caribbean : Dead Men Tell No Tales is a treasure of a movie, looking at the overall picture of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. That is because in comparison to the franchise’s second through fourth installments, its story brings the franchise full circle while also wrapping up the loose ends created over the course of the series’ previous entries. That includes its very first offering. This time out, Jack Sparrow has to evade yet another high seas villain who he wronged years ago all while trying to locate yet another powerful treasure. All the while, young Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites — Maleficent, Oculus, Gods of Egypt) is trying to lift the curse on his dad, Will Turner, much as Will tried in previous movies to lift his dad’s curse. Henry ends up meeting his own love interest Carina (Kaya Scoldelario — Moon, The Maze Runner 1 – 2) very much in the same fashion in which Will and Elizabeth met in the franchise’s first movie). The twist that the writers put on Carina’s back story is a positive because it doesn’t just outright repeat Will and Elizabeth’s love story, but gives it new life so to speak. Henry trying since his childhood to lift his father’s curse is just one of the loose ends that this movie’s writers wrap up this time out. It is directly connected to the reunion of Will and Elizabeth, which is also addressed in this story, in turn bringing the entire franchise full circle. What is truly interesting to note in those attempts to tie the franchise together, the writers even acknowledge, albeit briefly, the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. That very brief mention of that movie is actually a good thing considering how…well…strange it was.Considering all of this, the story at the center of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales forms a relatively solid foundation for the movie’s presentation.

Relatively is emphasized because there are some issues with the story that cannot be ignored. First and foremost is the fact that in the original trilogy, it was hinted that anyone who controlled Davy Jones controlled the seas. Yet in this story, anyone who wields Poseidon’s trident also controls the seas. It’s kind of misleading to have two separate ways to control the seas. Also of note is the number of scenes that likely could have been cut without harming the movie’s overall story. There was a handful of scenes throughout the two-hour, nine-minute movie that could have been cut, not only cutting down the movie’s run time, but also keeping the movie’s pacing from slowing at those points, too. The dual presentations of Salazar’s back story not once but twice is a prime example of material that could have been cut back. It would have made more sense to tell how Jack lured Salazar into the Devil’s Triangle when he was initially introduced rather than introducing him initially and then later telling his back story. Some of the early interactions between Carina and Henry could have been trimmed back, too. Given, two hours and nine minutes is not a bad run time for this installment of the POTC series, but the material that could have been axed made the movie feel almost two and a half hours, which became the series’ standard run time. Cutting the noted material would have easily cut the movie back to about two hours flat, but considering as quickly as the story already manages to progress, it would have progressed that much faster without losing anything along the way. Keeping that in mind, the movie’s story is not perfect, obviously, but it also is quite an improvement over the stories at the center of the series’ previous entries. To that end, this story forms, again, a relatively solid foundation for its presentation. It is not the movie’s only key element. The movie’s stylistic approach is just as important to note as its story.

The stylistic approach taken in this movie is so critical to note because it takes audiences back to the very first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The action is there throughout along with the comedic timing, prat falls and more that made Pirates of the Caribbean so surprisingly enjoyable in its first outing. The over-the-top drama of the franchise’s second and third films were largely absent this time out, too, making this stylistic return to form quite welcome. Jack’s unlikely re-introduction and the early island fight sequence between Jack, his crew and the British soldiers are prime examples of what makes the movie’s return to form so welcome. The big high seas battle scenes between Salazar’s ship and crew and those of Sparrow also show how this movie stylistically returned to the franchise’s roots. There are also the liens traded between Jack and Henry as well as other dialogue that returns to form just as much. Between the lines and scenes noted here and so many others not noted directly, viewers will find that the movie’s creative forces went to great lengths to stylistically take viewers back to POTC‘s roots in a new setting and story. Those efforts paid off greatly here, strengthening even more the movie’s overall presentation. When those efforts are coupled with the work of the movie’s cast, the movie’s presentation proves even more why it is worth the watch.

Johnny Depp and company entertain audiences throughout the course of POTC 5 with their performances. That includes funny moments such as Jack and Henry’s first meeting and even Barbosa’s men as they discuss Salazar’s escape from the Devil’s Triangle with Barbosa as well as so many other moments. What audiences will note in these interactions is that even these moments are themselves another stylistic return to form for the movie. The same can be said of the more emotional moments between Henry and Carina. Audiences familiar with the series’ history will agree very similar chops were shown between Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in the original trilogy. Thwaites and Scodalerio are just as impressive as the pair’s characters slowly fall for each other. Rather than just go over the top, the growth is gradual, keeping audiences fully engaged. That subtlety in the pair’s acting shows experience beyond its years, and shows the promise for each actor’s future. Even Geoffrey Rush deserves his own applause as he has to keep himself from being run through by Salazar. He shows a side of Barbosa that rarely had to be seen in any of the franchise’s previous entries, and did so professionally, too. It made those moments just as interesting as any other from himself and his fellow cast mates. Those moments in question, when joined with the moments noted here, make even clearer why the cast’s work in front of the cameras just as important to the movie’s presentation as its story and its stylistic approach. Speaking of those elements, when they are joined with the cast’s work, the whole of the noted elements keeps Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales afloat much more easily than its predecessors, and makes it honestly the series’ best entry since Curse of the Black Pearl. keeping that in mind, Dead Men Tell No Tales sees Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise sail off in style, putting a positive final note to an otherwise doomed franchise.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is a positive final statement for Disney’s otherwise sunken high-seas series. It takes audiences back to the glory of the franchise’s first film both in terms of the cast’s acting and the movie’s stylistic approach. While the movie’s story does have at least one plot hole — which is more powerful, controlling Davy Jones or Poseidon’s trident? — and suffers from some minor pacing issues related to unnecessary scenes, it still is a fun story that easily allows audiences to suspend their disbelief. Each item noted here plays its own part into the movie’s overall presentation. Good and bad considered side by side, this movie sees thankfully, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise sail off in style, putting a much-needed positive final note to the otherwise maligned franchise. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Walt Disney Studios is available online now at:

Website: http://www.waltdisneystudios.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyStudios

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‘Cars 3’ Is A Fitting Final Lap For Disney/Pixar’s ‘Cars’ Franchise

Courtesy: Disney/Pixar

Cars 3, the latest entry in Disney/Pixar’s high-octane Cars franchise, was one of the most hotly anticipated movies of this year ahead of its nationwide theatrical debut this past June. That is because of just how disappointing the franchise’s second installment — released in 2011 — proved to be. That movie, which was essentially just an acting vehicle for Larry The Cable Guy, was little more than a cash grab for Disney and Pixar. While Cars 3 did make up for the wreck that was Cars 2, it didn’t do so without some issues. That is not to say that Cars 3 is unwatchable. As a matter of fact, one of the elements that makes it worth at least one watch is its story. At the same time, the story is also the movie’s primary negative. It will be discussed shortly. While the movie’s story makes up two of its most important elements, divided into two sides, it is only one of the movie’s most important elements. The work of the movie’s cast rounds out its most important elements. Both elements are critical to the movie’s overall presentation in their own fashion. All things considered, Cars 3 still manages to make it to the checkered flag, albeit on seven cylinders. Yes, that awful pun was intended. That aside, Cars 3 does go the mile and in turn proves itself worth at least one watch.

Cars 3 is a fitting finale for Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise. It is not a perfect period to the franchise, but is still an enjoyable presentation that is worth at least one watch. That is due in part to the movie’s central story, which brings the franchise full circle. Eleven years after Lightning McQueen first debuted, he has become a beloved veteran of the Piston Cup Series in this movie — beloved both by fans and by his fellow race cars. However, he also finds that his heyday has passed and must come to terms with moving on and moving forward. If this sounds familiar, it should. A very similar story was presented approximately seven years ago in Toy Story 3, another Disney/Pixar flick. The movies’ writing teams are not the same, but the story is quite similar, just presented in a different scenario. It is also a story that, much like that of the franchise’s freshman entry, reminds audiences of racing’s roots. While Thomasville Speedway does not exist in the real world, it instantly conjures thoughts of North Wilkesboro and so many of the tracks that formed NASCAR’s foundation. It was nice to see the movie’s writing staff bring back this focus on the sport’s past (including its moonshining connection) once again, especially considering the direction that NASCAR has gone since the early 2000s under its current leadership regime.

Paying tribute once more to NASCAR’s roots while also presenting a message of letting go and moving forward are both key to making the story Cars 3‘s central story entertaining. They are only a portion of what makes it watchable. Not to give away too much for those who perhaps haven’t yet seen this movie, but there is also a surprise twist in the movie’s final scene that is just as certain to entertain audiences while still tying directly into that theme of progress. It makes the story that much stronger. Keeping all of this in mind, the movie’s central story forms a strong foundation for its presentation. While that foundation is strong though, it is not entirely solid. There are some noticeable cracks in that foundation thanks to the writing team’s apparent struggle to decide if they wanted to throw back to Cars or make this movie more a tribute to the voice of Doc Hudson, the late great Paul Newman.

Throughout the course of Cars 3‘s one-hour, 42-minute run time, the story references Doc Hudson so many times that it becomes easy to lose count of said references, even going so far as to use what must have been some material that never made it to Cars’ final cut in this case to try to advance the story. The problem here is that rather than advance the story, it leads the story to get sidetracked, ultimately slowing the story’s pacing. That pacing problem is in the end, the second of the movie’s most important elements to discuss. It almost makes one want to fast forward the movie at times as Lightning McQueen progresses on his journey of re-discovery just to make it through the movie’s traffic. Yes, that bad pun was intentional, too. Getting back on the subject at hand, the diversions created through the references to Hudson include extra scenes, such as Lightning’s discussion with Smokey about Doc and his recollections of his own conversations with Doc among others. Those extra scenes probably should have hit the cutting room floor as they do not do much to advance the movie’s central story. Considering all of this, it becomes clear why Cars 3‘s central story is both a positive and a negative. That duality is so important that it in itself gives audiences plenty of reason to watch this sequel at least once. Also making Cars 3 worth at least one watch is the work of its voice cast.

Owen Wilson returns once more as the voice of Lightning McQueen for this ride as do the original voice actors who brought life to Radiator Springs’ residents and even Dinoco owner Tex’s voice (Humpy Wheeler), that of Chick Hicks — Bob Peterson (Cars, Up, Finding Nemo) — and Lightning’s hauler Mack — John Ratzenberger (Cars, Cars 2, Toy Story 1 – 3). Both the seasoned cast and the new additions — Armie Hammer as the voice of Jackson Storm, Chris Cooper as the voice of Smokey, Cristela Alonzo as the voice of Cruz Ramirez and Kerry Washington as the voice of Natalie Certain — do their utmost to make the movie enjoyable for audiences of all ages. While Jackson Storm is the movie’s main villain, he is not really on camera very much. Keeping that in mind, Hammer (The Lone Ranger, The Social Network, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) easily could have hammed it up as the self-centered, high-performance race car. He didn’t allow that to happen, though. Instead he showed his understanding and respect for his part in the story’s bigger picture each time, making Storm a villain that audiences will love to hate. To that end, Hammer is deserving of his share of applause for his work. Alonzo (Mind of Mencia, Cristela) is just as entertaining as Cruz. This includes both Cruz’s funnier moments — such as when she accidentally digs herself into the sand and when she is acting as the racers’ trainer — and her more emotional moments –such as her confrontation with McQueen following the demolition derby and the equally moving climax in the story’s final act (not to give away too much). Considering the situations into which the movie’s writers put Cruz, it would have been easy for Alonzo to go over the top, too. But She shows time and again so much talent, ensuring even more audiences entertainment and engagement. When her work and that of Wilson couples with work of the movie’s supporting cast (the Radiator Springs cast, announcers, etc.) the whole of their work strengthens the foundation formed by the movie’s story, and makes the movie that much more worth the watch. That is even considering the issues raised in the story’s balance. When this is considered along with the movie’s standout CGI, which has clearly been stepped up since the franchise first debuted 11 years ago, the whole of Cars 3 proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable watch. It doesn’t live up to the legacy left by Cars, but definitely does make up for Cars 2 while potentially even leaving the door open for a whole new series of Cars movies, leaving it a fitting finale for the Cars franchise.

The third and likely last entry in Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise is a fitting final lap for the series. It proves in the long run that it really should have been Cars 2 instead of the movie that turned out to be Cars 2. That movie never should have even existed. Even with that movie having been made, Cars 3 will likely be considered the real rightful Cars 2 by most viewers. That is due in part to a story that despite struggling to balance its tribute to Paul Newman with an actual continuation of Cars, still proves to have some heart — enough heart to make it worth at least the occasional watch. The work of the movie’s voice cast — both main and support — strengthens the movie’s presentation even more. Add in some impressive CGI work that that clearly is another step up from the franchise’s freshman film, and audiences get a movie that definitely makes it to the checkered flag. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Cars 3 and other Disney/Pixar movies is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pixar.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DisneyPixar

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Breaking Through Joins Saliva For “Only The Sickest Survive Tour”

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Up-and-coming hard rock outfit Breaking Through has hit the road alongside Saliva for Saliva’s new tour.

The bands hit the road Nov. 24 for Saliva’s “Only The Sickest Survive Tour.” The roughly three-week tour runs through Dec. 16 in El Paso, TX and includes performances in Tucson, AZ; New Orleans, LA; Fresno, CA and other cities.

Breaking Through is serving as support for the tour. Its performances are in support of its latest EP Lessons Learned (2016). That seven-song EP, which can be ordered now via iTunes, includes the hit single ‘Escape Plan.’ Its video was released in 2014 and can be seen here. The song will appeal both musically and lyrically to fans of Breaking Benjamin, Saving Abel and other similar acts.

Along with the band’s most recent EP, audiences can also order the band’s first EP The Scarlet Letters via iTunes. It includes the single ‘Not A Saint,’ whose video is streaming online now here.

More information on Breaking Through is available online now including the band’s latest news, tour updates and more at:

Website: http://www.breakingthroughband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BTROCKNROLL

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‘Zoo: Season 3’ Release Date Announced

Courtesy: CBS Home Entertainment

The third and final season of CBS’ hit drama Zoo is coming home.

Zoo: Season Three is currently scheduled to be released Tuesday, Dec. 12 in stores and online. Season three originally aired on CBS between June 29 and Sept. 21, 2017 and featured 13 episodes.

This season sees a number of stories including the revelation about who might have created the killer animals in “Welcome To The Terra Dome” and the revelation that Jackson can communicate with the hybrids in “Stakes on a Plane” along with the continuing the hunt for The Shepherds’ leader and much more.

Zoo: Season Three will retail for MSRP of $29.99 and can be pre-ordered online now. Its total run time is nine hours, 15 minutes. More information on this and other titles from CBS Home Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.cbshomeentertainment.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CBSHE

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‘Cook’s Country: Season 10’ Is Available Now

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

The holiday season is here, and with it the cold weather. That means lots of kitchens and homes will be warming up. Those looking for some new dishes to try this holiday season are getting a hand courtesy of PBS and Public Media Distribution in the form of the 10th season of its hit series Cook’s Country.

Cook’s Country: Season 10 was released just this week. It offers plenty of sweet and savory recipes for weeknights and the weekend including plenty of pork dishes, stove top ideas and even some more southern and Italian offerings. Season 10’s full episode-listing is noted below.

The dishes dished out this season are collectively only one key part of its presentation. Once again, all 31 featured recipes are included in printable form for those home cookbooks. the familiar equipment and food testing segments are also included in whole throughout the season.

Cook’s Country: Season 10 is available now exclusively on DVD. It is retailing for MSRP of $29.99, but can be ordered at a reduced price of $24.99 via PBS’ online store. More information on this and previous seasons of Cook’s Country is available online now at:

Website: http://www.cookscountry.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TestKitchen

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.

PBS Examines The Knight’s Armor In A New Military-Centric Episode Of ‘NOVA’

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution/WGBH

PBS next month will take viewers back to medieval times with a new episode of NOVA on DVD.

NOVA: Secrets of the Shining Knight will be released Tuesday, Dec. 19. The hourlong program examines the importance of knights’ armor in battle. It does this through examination of the armor’s creation, its strength, and ability to withstand attacks from various weapons.

Not only does it examine all of the noted items, but even takes audiences into a workshop as a pair of blacksmith’s try to recreate armor originally crafted in the ROyal Workshop of King Henry VIII. Once the armor is finished, it is tested to see just how strong knights’ armor really was.

NOVA: Secrets of the Shining Knight will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered online now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

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.

PBS Taking Viewers Back To Stonehenge Next Month

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution/WGBH

PBS is taking audiences back to Stonehenge this winter.

Public media Distribution will release a new episode of PBS’ hit series NOVA on Tuesday, Dec. 19 focused on the site titled NOVA: Ghosts of Stonehenge. It will come almost a year after the network released Secrets of the Dead: After Stonehenge on DVD.

This latest look into the ancient site follows archaeologists as they examine bones, remnants of meals and other material in an attempt to figure out the exact purpose of Stonehenge.It also attempts to explain, through its discussions, what led to the site’s downfall not long after it was established.

The one-hour program will retail for MSRP of $24.99, but can be pre-ordered now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/novapbs

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Foghat Offering Fans Special Deals During Thanksgiving Weekend

Courtesy: Foghat

Foghat is offering its fans some special deals this Thanksgiving weekend.

The veteran rock band is offering fans 30 percent off all of its Foghat Cellars wines and all of its apparel. The deals run from today (Black Friday) through Monday, Nov. 27 (Cyber Monday). The deals on the band’s signature wines includes collector bottles signed personally by Roger Earl.

In order to get the deals on the wines and apparel, fans need just use the code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout to get the deals.

Courtesy: Foghat

More information on Foghat’s holiday weekend deals is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.foghat.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Foghat

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‘Come From Far’ Shows How Far New Kingston Has Come, How Far It Can Go

Courtesy: Easy Star Records

New Kingston released this past August, what is the group’s fourth full-length studio recording when it released A Kingston Story: Come From Far. The 10-song offering was the band’s fourth overall album and came almost seven years from the release of its 2010 debut In The Streets. That actually bucks the trend of most mainstream acts regardless of genre, which typically sees acts release the same number of albums in a 10-year period. This latest effort is everything that audiences have come to expect from New Kingston both musically and lyrically, though there are at least a few songs that stand out this time around including ‘Agape’ and ‘Solid As A Rock’ — both of which would fit easily into any mainstream Top 40 pop radio station’s rotation — and ‘Starlight.’ Of course, this trio of songs is only part of what makes this album another work that will appeal to the group’s fans. The album’s seven other songs not noted here combine with the more directly noted works to ensure the album will keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout its 32-minute run time.

New Kingston’s fourth full-length album A Kingston Story: Come From Far is, over the course of its 10-song, 32-minute run time, everything that audiences have come to expect from the group. This applies both musically and lyrically. Of course some of the songs featured included in this record do stand out from their counterparts. ‘Agape’ is one of those standout offerings. Musically speaking, the song easily fits into any mainstream Top 40 pop station’s rotation. The guitar and electronics couple with the group’s vocal delivery make the song a gentle, accessible presentation that will reach a wide range of listeners. Of course the song’s musical arrangement is only one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement. In regards to its lyrical theme, the song is a moving song about believing in love no matter what. That is proven as guitarist/vocalist Stephen Suckarie sings in the song’s lead verse, “Some people search a lifetime/A lifetime/Tryingto find a love like mine/So I thank the man above for sending me love like this/Though I wasn’t looking, my heart found it/So you can’t give up on love/Love is everything you need in life.” the rest of the song continues in very similar fashion, with that central message of not giving up on love remaining throughout. That positive message is one from which every listener will benefit, and the fact that the group didn’t go over the top in its delivery makes it all the more impacting. When it is coupled with the song’s equally gentle and emotional musical arrangement, that pairing shows clearly why this song stands out on New Kingston’s new record. it is only one of the record’s most notable additions. ‘Solid As A Rock’ is another of the record’s most standout offerings.

‘Solid As A Rock’ stands out from its counterparts — just as ‘Agape’ — in no small part because of its musical arrangement. The song’s arrangement does present something of an old school reggae sound. However, the group doesn’t let it dominate the song. Instead, it incorporates more modern guitar and keyboard lines into the song to make it more up-to-date. The use of those more modern influences in the song’s arrangement makes it another easily accessible and radio ready addition to this record. Of course as is the case with ‘Agape’ again, this song’s musical arrangement is only one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical theme is important to discuss, too. That theme is one of self-determination and persistence, thus the song’s title ‘Solid As A Rock.” That theme is best illustrated in the song’s final verse in which the group sings, “One day/Oh, one day/things are gonna change/What doesn’t kill me/Can only make me stronger/Growing from the pain…Got to make the best of what this world has given you/It’s up to you…unconditional, you know that we’re solid as a rock.” Similar wording is used earlier in the song as the group addresses naysayers and life’s general challenges. All things considered, the same message of “staying solid as a rock” remains throughout. Keeping that in mind, it is clear here that the group is sending a very positive message that, again, applies to listeners of all ages. When it is coupled with the song’s laid back musical arrangement, that pairing creates such a positive vibe that it makes the song stand out that much more among its counterparts. It is still not the last of the album’s most standout songs. ‘Starlight,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is one more notable inclusion in this record.

‘Starlight’ stands out because of the pairing of its musical arrangement and its lyrical theme. The song’s musical arrangement is a clear throwback to reggae’s roots, with its guitars, keyboards and drums. Even its upbeat tempo is familiar. Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t necessarily stand on its own two feet. However, when that arrangement is coupled with the song’s lyrical theme, which is one of a love song, that pairing makes the song in whole stand out. The group sings of a man who is in love. In fact, it starts off with the statement that “Love is the greatest thing.” From there the group goes on to sing of a man who will love a woman unconditionally, singing, “when the sunlight fades away/And the moonlight starts to wake/Let the sunlight guide the way/Bring your loving my way. This is just the chorus of course. The group sings of all the positives that a woman brings to a man’s life, even calling her a blessing from the heavens and a queen. There is also mention of a man never letting a woman go and working to make sure things work. It would have been so easy for the group to go over the top with way too schmaltzy wording. But it really didn’t do that, nor did it even get away with itself in its delivery of its words. When this is considered with the power in the song’s arrangement, that pairing becomes a whole that stands out among today’s love songs. When it is considered alongside the other songs noted here and those not noted, they make the whole of the record a work that is certain to win applause from the group’s most devout fan base and maybe even garner some new fans. That could include fans who come to the group’s upcoming live shows on its winter 2018 tour, which launches Jan. 24 in Albuquerque, NM. The tour currently runs through Feb. 18 in Colorado Spring, CO and includes performances in Seattle, WA; Bozeman, MT; Eugene, OR and a number of other cities across the midwest and west coast — weather providing.

New Kingston’s new album A Kingston Story: Come From Far is a work that is certain to appeal to the group’s most devout fan base while also possibly earning the group some new fans. That is due to a mix of familiar musical and lyrical material and some newer material that fits easily into any mainstream Top 40 pop radio station’s rotation. Between that material and the group’s more familiar material, the whole of the album proves over its 10 songs and 32 minutes to be another strong new effort from the group. It is available now in stores and online. It likely will be available at the group’s upcoming Winter 2018 tour stops, too. more information on A Kingston Story: Come From Far is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://newkingstonmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NewKingstonLive

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.

Spock’s Beard Offers Audiences Another Solid Live Effort In ‘Snow Live’

Courtesy: Radiant Records/Metal Blade Records

On Aug. 27, 2002, veteran prog-rock outfit Spock’s Beard released what has since come to be known by the band’s fans as one of its most pivotal albums when it released the simply titled, yet complex concept album Snow. The two-disc record was the last for then front man Neal Morse, who left the band for a solo career not too long after its release. Just this month, the band re-visited that seminal album when it released its new live recording Snow Live in stores and online. The recording marks the first time ever that Spock’s Beard has ever performed the album in full in a live setting. That in itself is the bedrock for the recording’s presentation, and will be discussed shortly. Just as important to note in examining the recording is the band’s performance thereof. This will be discussed later. Rounding out the most important of the recording’s elements is its collective bonus material. It will also be discussed later. Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, Snow Live proves to be another solid live effort from one of the most respected names in the prog community.

Spock’s Beard’s latest live recording Snow Live is hardly the band’s first live recording. Even with that in mind, it can be said easily that this latest live effort from one of the prog community’s most respected names is another solid effort from the band. That is due in no small part to the very fact that it presents the band performing what has become one of its seminal works in whole for the first time ever in one special setting. The setting in question was the latest installment of former front man Neal Morse’s Morsefest. It is somewhat fitting that the band united members past and present in that setting for the performance considering the importance of Morsefest and of Snow. That combination makes the performance a collective show of unity from the band that shows in itself an appreciation for the fans and their respect for Snow. It all combines to make this first-of-its kind performance from Spock’s Beard that much more important. Audiences will especially appreciate the concert’s production values throughout. The audio was expertly balanced throughout, which says plenty considering the size of the venue and that the concert was performed indoors. Recording live shows indoors always presents its own challenge because sound has only so far to go. Those who handled the concert’s sound both in production and post are to be commended for their work here. The same can be said of those responsible for handling the concert’s video production. The work of all involved makes this all too important concert for devout Spock’s Beard fans that much more that much more important and enjoyable. Of course as key as the concert’s very set list and related productions values are collectively to this recording, they are only one part of what makes the recording such a solid effort from Spock’s Beard. The band’s performance of its set list is just as important to discuss in examining its presentation as the show itself.

The band’s performance of its landmark 2002 concept album deserves just as much credit in making the concert watchable as the show itself because of the effort clearly put in by the band members. Between interacting with one another on stage and with the audience through something as simple as a facial gesture or invitation to be part of the show from the floor, the band shows throughout, its dedication to its fans and to properly translating the album from studio to stage. It pays off, too. Audiences will be impressed to experience that effort firsthand, and in turn will agree that said effort is something that must be experienced firsthand to be truly appreciated and understood. Keeping this in mind, audiences will agree in seeing the band’s performance for themselves that said performance goes a long way toward strengthening the recording’s presentation and making it enjoyable for the band’s fans. That performance, even as important as it is to the recording, is not the last of the recording’s most important elements. The bonus material included in the recording rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material featured in Snow Live includes an extensive hour-long presentation of behind-the scenes material and a nearly 40 minute encore set from Morsefest 2016. The songs and the audiences’ full engagement makes the encores that much more entertaining for home viewers, ensuring even more their engagement and entertainment. The band shows just as much dedication to the music and the fans here, too, as in the concert’s main feature, making the encores that much more entertaining. The behind-the-scenes featurette includes an in-depth interview with the band members and an intimate audience ahead of the band’s concert. The interview session includes discussions on the band members’ influences, the creative process in the studio, lineup changes and much more. There are also some more intimate on-camera moments with the band members that offer their own insight including Morse’s own discussion on his conversion to Christianity and its impact on his life. Seeing Morse’s genuine emotion as he discusses the change is moving to say the least. Between those discussions and the others not directly noted here, and the bonus encores, it goes without saying that Snow Live offers plenty of enjoyable and engaging bonus material. When that bonus material is considered along with the recording’s main feature and the band’s performance thereof, the whole of those elements makes Snow Live that much stronger of an offering from Spock’s Beard; an offering that will easily reach every one of Spock’s Beard’s fans.

Spock’s Beard’s latest live recording Snow Live is a critical addition to the band’s already extensive body of work. It presents what is one of the band’s most influential albums being performed live in whole for the first time ever. What’s more, the album is presented by the band’s members past and present. That show of unity in performance of the album sends its own strong message that fans new and old alike will appreciate. Speaking of the band’s performance, the energy and emotion put into each song’s performance strengthens the concert’s presentation even more. It translates the album expertly from studio to stage while also showing the band’s dedication to presenting a fully enjoyable and immersive experience for audiences. The bonus material included in the concert’s recording puts the finishing touch on the recording with its hour-long interview session and nearly forty-minute encore set. Each noted element plays its own important part in the whole of Snow Live‘s presentation. All things considered, they make the recording another solid effort that Spock’s Beard fans old and new alike will enjoy. It is available now in stores and online. more information on Snow Live is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.spocksbeard.com

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/spocksb

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