Haven Is One Of Kamelot’s Heaviest Records To Date

Courtesy:  Napalm Records

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Kamelot’s eleventh full-length studio effort Haven is one of the heaviest albums that the band has released in its now twenty-four years together. Across the course of its thirteen total tracks, the band–Tommy Karevik (vocals), Thomas Youngblood (guitars), Sean Tibbetts (bass), Casey Grillo (drums), and Oliver Palotai (keyboards)–the band has crafted a record that is some of its heaviest not only musically but lyrically, too. The majority of the songs that make up the record come from an emotional point that most listeners would probably rather not visit. Interestingly enough it is that melancholy (and that’s putting it lightly) lyrical content that makes this album so heavily at least in part. The musical side of the songs expertly complements the lyrical approach of the songs, making them compositions that especially the band’s long-time fans will appreciate. While most of the record’s songs come from a deeper emotional place, there are at least a couple of pieces that counter the album’s general feel of melancholy. That being the case, they are also two of the album’s most noteworthy songs. The songs in question are ‘Under Grey Skies’ and ‘My Therapy.’ There is also an equally interesting piece that takes a completely different turn in the form of ‘Age of Innocence.’ This piece displays an emotion at the completely opposite end of those presented in the previously noted songs. It is a powerful piece both musically and lyrically that is just as heavy as those songs because of its mix of music and lyrics. All three of these songs show in their own way what makes Haven one that every one of Kamelot’s fans should hear if they haven’t already done so. Together with the remaining ten tracks that make up the rest of the album all thirteen tracks prove Haven to be a record that every one of Kamelot’s fans should have in their own personal music libraries.

Haven is one of the heaviest albums that Kamelot has put out since the release of its debut album Eternity nearly twenty years ago. That is thanks to the mix of the album’s musical heaviness and its lyrical heaviness. More specifically, it is thanks to the mix of the melancholy feel of the songs’ music and lyrics combined. It’s not all doom and gloom this time out, though. The band does offer at least a pair of more optimistic pieces for audiences. ‘Under A Grey Sky’ is the first of those songs. And while it is more optimistic than most of the album’s other songs, it is still no less heavy. The call and response of sorts used between front man Tommy Kariken and his female friend in this song makes the song deep in its own right. Karivek’s female friend sings with an almost restrained optimism here, “When I drown in my fears/In the darkness of sorrow/There’s a promise of grace/Under silver grey skies/And I’m drying my tears/In the blaze of the sunlight/A reviere sealed with a kiss.” Karivek responds in kind singing alongside his friend, “You may call me a dreamer/Call me a fool/Just a blue-eyed believer in you/But I’ll die for that someone/In the blink of an eye/So tell me/Please tell me/Just what kind of fool am I.” It is almost as if Karivek and his co-vocalist are saying, “I must be crazy for letting myself feel this way. But something about feeling like such a fool makes me feel good.” that is evident in the power of the pair’s vocal delivery in this chorus. It may be that not everybody has ever been in the situation presented here. But there are plenty of listeners out there that will be able to relate to the feelings of cautious optimism expressed through this song’s combination of music and lyrics. Being that so many audiences will be able to relate to the very heavy emotions expressed here, those audiences will agree that in juxtaposition to the album’s more melancholy songs, it is a clear choice for one of the album’s best works.

The cautious optimism expressed by Karivek and his band mates in ‘Under A Grey Sky’ is a very deep and heavy emotion to which many listeners will be able to relate. its ability to reach so many audiences with its lyrical content by itself makes it a prime example of why fans new and old alike will enjoy this record. Set against the album’s other songs, it shows even more just how heavy this album is both lyrically and musically. It is just one example of how truly heavy Haven proves itself to be, too. Much as with that song, ‘My Therapy’ also exhibits quite the depth and heaviness. The difference between the two songs is that while both express a certain rare hope and optimism on this record, this song expresses that hope in a more confident fashion. That confidence is displayed immediately through the song’s musical side. There is more power to this song, musically speaking in comparison to the more cautious and reserved nature of ‘Under A Grey Sky.’ Kerivek also exhibits even more power in his vocal delivery as he sings, “Come and take me off my daily dose of pain/Take me off and shelter me/From this static nothing.You’re the antidote/For solitude injected in my veins/May the touch of your hand/Forever be my therapy.” Despite writing in metaphors, the message is clear here. Karivek is singing from the standpoint of someone telling a romantic interest that the person in question is the one that makes the song’s subject feel alive. Even as Karivek’s subject essentially pleads with the romantic interest to not leave, that power is never lost. Because it isn’t, it makes the song that much enjoyable. It also makes even clearer why this song is one more example of why Kamelot’s fans should have Haven in their personal music collections.

‘My Therapy’ and ‘Under A Grey Sky’ both exhibit in their own way what makes Haven a record that every one of Kamelot’s fans should have in their personal music libraries. While they contradict the generally melancholy feel of the album’s other songs, it is that contradiction that makes them so enjoyable by themselves and in turn the album in whole so enjoyable. Next to those more melancholy pieces, the overall picture painted by the album’s songs is one tha is actually quite deep. One of those more melancholy pieces that makes the album’s overall picture so rich comes late in the album in the form of ‘End of Innocence.’ This piece comes across as being from the vantage point of someone that is at the deepest point of his or her depression. That is made evident as Karivek sings right off the top, “Tell me do you remember/The games and the laughter/Far from the choices we’d have to make/A kiss on the lips turned a toad to a prince/And the end was a lifetime away.” He continues on singing in the song’s chorus, “I pour myself onto this page/I am writing a swan song for ages/I will leave it behind/And just maybe you will/Remember me.” By no means is Karivek advocating what it sounds like this subject is considering. He is merely describing the feeling of utter emotional loss that the song’s subject feels here. It is a point at which so many people have reached. Those that have been at that level will be able to relate to this situation. They will especially appreciate the song because they survived and didn’t go through with what the song’s subject seemed to contemplate. Yet again the ability of the song to reach audiences and perhaps even provide a source of strength for some listeners shows even more why this song is another prime example of Haven’s overall strength. Together with the previously noted songs, all three compositions make a strong argument for Haven. They show collectively why whether by themselves or with the album’s other songs Haven is a piece that every one of Kamelot’s fans should have in their personal music libraries.

‘Under A Grey Sky,’ ‘My Therapy,’ and ‘End Of Innocence’ are all excellent examples of the strength of Haven. By themselves they are just a snapshot of the album’s strength, too. Together with the remaining ten songs that compose the rest of the album, the whole of Haven proves to be an album that is definitely one of the band’s heaviest and not just because of its musical side, either. The combination of its music and lyrics together make it a work that is heavy all the way around and again a piece that every one of Kamelot’s fans should have in their music libraries. Haven is available now in stores and online. More information on Haven and all of Kamelot’s current tour dates in support of Haven is available online now at:

Website: http://www.kamelot.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kamelotofficial

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.

Cinedigm’s New Action Spoof Is A Great Escape For Anyone Wanting A Good Laugh

Courtesy:  Cinedigm

Courtesy: Cinedigm

Indie movie studio Cinedigm’s new action spoof Tooken is dirty.  It is raunchy.  And it is also hilarious.  The spoof of actor Liam Neeson’s Taken trilogy is so dirty and raunchy in fact that it’s a surprise that it earned an “R” rating instead of an “NC-17.”  That aside it is still a laugh riot that viewers won’t be able to help but watch.  That is thanks in large part to its completely nonsensical story that is very much in the vein of the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie and Haunted House franchises.  The only difference between those movies and this one is that writer/director John Asher and co-writer Cameron Van Hoy have taken the comic element established in the Wayans brothers’ spoofs and knocked down the wall established by those movies.  Whereas the Wayans brothers at least showed some restrain, this movie pulls zero punches and will leave audiences laughing so hard that they cry all while asking themselves why in the world they are watching the movie.  Of course as important as this element is to the whole of Tooken it would be nothing without the work of the movie’s cast.  Lead actor Lee Tergesen (Monster, Wayne’s World, Oz) does an impressive job of channeling legendary comic actor Leslie Neilsen here.  Last and hardly least worth noting of this indie spoof is it’s the very fact that it is not a big budget movie even being a spoof.  Being a proud, low-budget presentation, there’s something special about it.  It just makes it that much more enjoyable.  And together with both the movie’s story and the work of its cast it solidifies the movie as one that anyone wanting a good laugh.

Cinedigm’s new spoof flick Tooken is hands down one of the funniest movies that audiences will see this year.  It is also the year’s bawdiest and raunchiest comedies that audiences will see this year.  It is so bawdy and raunchy in fact that it is a surprise that it received an “R” rating versus an “NC-17” by the MPAA.  That aside it is still a laugh riot that viewers won’t be able to help but watch.  The comic element of the movie and the movie’s story together make up the central reason that audiences won’t be able to help but watch.  The movie sees retired CIA agent Bryan Millers (Lee Tergesen–(Monster, Wayne’s World, Oz) trying to make a life for himself in retirement.  He is divorced and working as a rent-a-cop, dreaming of his days on “the force.”   And he is trying to stay connected to his teenage daughter Kim at the same time, which is essentially what leads to the story’s plot (if one even wants to call it a plot).  In trying to connect with Kim (played here by actress Laura-Leigh—We’re The Millers, The Client List, The Ward) Bryan finds himself getting caught up in a completely bizarre plot by an evil mastermind named Brownfinger (yes, Brownfinger).  Brownfinger is played by famed comedienne Margaret Cho (Drop Dead Diva, Face/Off, Notorious C.H.O.).  Brownfinger’s completely bizarre plan involves dogs and explosives.  Yes, truth is stranger than reality.  And it is definitely strange in this case.  Interestingly enough, writer/director John Asher and co-writer Cameron Van Hoy actually has Bryan break down the fourth wall to a point, going so far as to point out himself the absolutely ludicrous nature of Brownfinger’s plan, essentially pointing out what every viewer is likely thinking, too.  That adds even more enjoyment to the whole of the story and points out a related topic that makes the story just as worth the watch as the story itself.  The element in question is the script’s comic element.

The comic element of Tooken is not entirely new to those audiences that are familiar with the Wayans Brothers’ Scary Movie and Haunted House franchises.  It is a brand of comedy that throws back to the likes of Leslie Neilsen’s Naked Gun franchise with its mix of slapstick comedy and sometimes irreverent humor.  What sets the Naged Gun franchise and those of the Wayans Brothers from this spoof is that where their writers exhibited a certain amount of restraint, Asher and Van Hoy exhibit absolutely none, right up to the end, at which the movie borders on something akin to a hardcore porn flick, believe it or not.  It’s still debatable if that is good or bad.  Regardless, the lengths to which Asher and Van Hoy go in delivering the story’s comic element does pay homage to its predecessors while establishing its own brand of comic mayhem, thus making both this element and the movie’s script in whole a solid foundation for those that want a good laugh.

The script crafted for Tooken and its comic elements offer audiences looking for a good laugh plenty of reason to watch this movie even with its ability to disturb some viewers at random points.  Having laid a solid foundation for audiences, the work of the movie’s cast rests easily atop both elements.  Tergesen is especially entertaining in his role as Bryan Millers.  Audiences will especially love how Tergesen willingly switches back and forth between an American accent and a completely intentionally terrible Irish accent as he pokes fun at Liam Neeson throughout the movie.  Those that know their movie history will especially appreciate Tergesen’s work not just for this reason but because his portrayal of Bryan harkens back to Leslie Nielsen’s work in the Naked Gun franchise just as much as the movie’s overall comic element.  Reno Wilson (Mike and Molly, Transformers, Prison Break) is just as entertaining as Lenore’s (Lauren Stamile—Scandal, Burn Notice, Community) new love interest.  He obviously fully embraced his role as Money Maker.  Audiences will find themselves laughing riotously at his full-on portrayal of the stereotypical gangsta rapper figure.  Joyce Bulifant will have viewers laughing just as much in her role as Bryan’s mother Edna.  Edna is everything that the stereotypical grandmother isn’t.  She also used to serve with the CIA.  And she is definitely anything but a little old lady.  The easiest way to describe her is that she is a tough as nails woman with the libido of a teenager.  This is despite her age.  And she shows it throughout the movie.  Bulifant is spot on in her portrayal of Edna, too.  If that doesn’t get audiences laughing, then it’s anyone’s guess what will.  But for those that love a good laugh, her work and that of the rest of the movie’s cast proves in the long run why their collective work makes for even more reason for audiences that love a good laugh will want to see this movie.  There’s not enough time or space to discuss the work of the rest of the movie’s cast (both lead and supporting).  But it goes without saying that the work of the entire cast makes for more than its share of laughs.  Together with the movie’s script and its comic elements, all the noted elements together show even more clearly than ever why comedy fans (adult comedy fans that is) should see this movie if only once.

The work of Tooken’s cast and the work of those that crafted the movie’s script—which also includes its comic element—together make for plenty of reason for older comedy fans to check out this nonstop laugh riot indie action spoof.  For all of the enjoyment that both elements offer audiences, they would mean nothing without the mention of the movie’s intentionally low budget approach.  Yes there are explosions.  Yes there is some blood spatter.  Yes there is gunfire.  But the production values tied into these elements and the rest of the movie are anything but big budget.  The interesting thing is that this is actually a good thing.  It’s another way in which the movie sets itself apart from the works of the Wayans Brothers and other more well-known spoofs. From Money Maker getting his thumb and eventually hand torn off, to the almost cartoonish way that he survived getting blown up beforehand, to the rather disturbing “sword” fight in the movie’s final minutes to so many other moments, the production values of said moments are proudly low budget. In an odd way, the fact that it didn’t try to be a big budget spoof especially in terms of its production values actually made it even more enjoyable. It really served to establish the movie’s identity within the spoof genre. It served to show that a movie can be low budget and still be entertaining regardless of the movie’s genre. Together with the work of the movie’s cast and those that crafted its script, it serves to completely solidify Tooken as a flick that indie or otherwise is still a fun piece for anyone looking to escape, turn off their brain, and have a good laugh.

Tooken may not be a big budget movie or even a big budget spoof. Regardless it is still a movie that anyone looking for an escape and a good laugh will appreciate and enjoy. That is thanks in large part to the movie’s script complete with all of its comic elements. The work of the movie’s cast is just as much to thank for the movie’s enjoyment. The fact that the movie’s cast and crew embrace the movie’s being low budget on every level makes the movie in whole that much more enjoyable. It brings everything full circle and shows clearly why anyone looking for an escape and a good laugh will want to watch this laugh riot indie action spoof. Tooken will be available on DVD Tuesday, July 7th. More information on this and other titles from Cinedigm is available online now at:

Website: http://www.cinedigmentertainment.com

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

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.

ESPN Networks To Carry Full Coverage Of 2015 NCAA Division I College Baseball Tournament

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The weather around the country is finally warming up. And just as it is, so are things for the boys of summer. This includes not just the majors but the college ranks, too. The field for the College Baseball Championship tournament was set this past weekend. THIS weekend, the tournament itself begins. And when it does, ESPN and the ESPN family of networks will have full coverage of the tournament.

ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, and the SEC Network will combine to cover all 153 matchups from the tournament’s regions all the way to the College World Series. ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPN 3 will carry coverage of the tournament’s Regional round (May 29th – June 1st). Super Regional coverage presented by Capital One (June 5th – 8th) will be carried on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU. And the world Series (June 13th – 24th) will be carried on ESPN and ESPN2.

Regional coverage will feature the return of ESPN’s four-day Bases Loaded platform. The Bases Loaded platform provides audiences with no fewer than thirty-nine hours of live, unlimited live cut-ins and highlights from a number of games. This includes up-to-the-minute commentary from ESPN’s analysts. ESPNU and ESPN2 will carry a total of thirty-one hours of Bases Loaded while ESPN3 will carry Bases Loaded coverage in its entirety. ESPNU and ESPN2 will carry ten hours of coverage this Friday and Saturday, followed by six hours of coverage on Sunday amd up to five hours of coverage next Monday. Matt Schick and Brendan Fitzgerald will have the call for the games. They will be joined by analysts Kyle Peterson and Ben McDonald for the broadcasts. the complete broadcast schedule for the tournament’s Regional round is listed below.

Site: Los Angeles, Calif.
Commentators: Clay Matvick, Mike Rooney
Teams: No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 Ole Miss, No. 3 Maryland, No. 4 CSU Bakersfield
Networks: ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Maryland vs. Ole Miss: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – CSU Bakersfield vs. UCLA: May 29 at 11 p.m., ESPNU
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 11 p.m.

Site: Baton Rouge, La.
Commentators: Mike Keith, Rusty Ensor
Teams: No. 1 LSU, No. 2 UNC Wilmington, No. 3 Tulane, No. 4 Lehigh
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Lehigh vs. LSU: May 29 at 4 p.m., SEC Network
Game 2 – Tulane vs. UNC Wilmington: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 4 p.m. & 9 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Louisville, Ky.
Commentators: Doug Bell, Wes Clements
Teams: No. 1 Louisville, No. 2 Bradley, No. 3 Michigan, No. 4 Morehead State
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Michigan vs. Bradley: May 29 at 2 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Morehead State vs. Louisville: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 6 p.m.

Site: Gainesville, Fla.
Commentators: Mike Morgan, Dave Perno
Teams: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Florida Atlantic, No. 3 USF, No. 4 Florida A&M
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – USF vs. Florida Atlantic: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Florida A&M vs. Florida: May 29 at 7 p.m., SEC Network
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 6 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 4 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Coral Gables, Fla.
Commentators: Jason Benetti, Nick Belmonte
Teams: No. 1 Miami, No. 2 East Carolina, No. 3 Columbia, No. 4 Florida International
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Columbia vs. East Carolina: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Florida International vs. Miami: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Champaign, Ill.
Commentators: Jim Barbar, Jerry Kindall
Teams: No. 1 Illinois, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Wright State, No. 4 Ohio
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Wright State vs. Notre Dame: May 29 a 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Ohio vs. Illinois: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 2 p.m.

Site: Fort Worth, Texas
Commentators: Brett Dolan, Greg Swindell
Teams: No. 1 TCU, No. 2 NC State, No. 3 Stony Brook, No. 4 Sacred Heart
Networks: ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Stony Brook vs. NC State: May 29 at 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Sacred Heart vs. TCU: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Springfield, Mo.
Commentators: Anish Shroff, Landon Powell
Teams: No. 1 Missouri State, No. 2 Iowa, No. 3 Oregon, No. 4 Canisius
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Oregon vs. Iowa: May 29 at 2 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Canisius vs. Missouri State: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 2 p.m.

Site: College State, Texas
Commentators: Tom Hart, Gabe Gross
Teams: No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 2 Coastal Carolina, No. 3 Cal, No. 4 Texas Southern
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Cal vs. Coastal Carolina: May 29 at 1 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Texas Southern vs. Texas A&M: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Site: Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Kevin Dunn, Keith Moreland
Teams: No. 1 Dallas Baptist, No. 2 Oregon State, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 VCU
Networks: ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1- Texas vs. Oregon State: May 29 at 2:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – VCU vs. Dallas Baptist: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Nashville, Tenn.
Commentators: Dave Neal, Chris Burke
Teams: No. 1 Vanderbilt, No. 2 Radford, No. 3 Indiana, No. 4 Lipscomb
Network: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Indiana vs. Radford: May 29 at 3 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Lipscomb vs. Vanderbilt: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 4 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Site: Houston, Texas
Commentators: Doug Sherman, John Gregory
Teams: No. 1 Houston, No. 2 Rice, No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette, No. 4 Houston Baptist
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Rice: May 29 at 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Houston Baptist vs. Houston: May 29 at 8 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 3:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 8 p.m.

Site: Tallahassee, Fla.
Commentators: Mike Couzens, Eduardo Perez
Teams: No. 1 Florida State, No. 2 College of Charleston, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 Mercer
Networks: SEC Network or ESPN3
Game 1 – Auburn vs. College of Charleston: May 29 at Noon, ESPN3
Game 2 – Mercer vs. Florida State: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at Noon & 6 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at Noon & 6 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 6 p.m.

Site: Lake Elsinore, Calif.
Commentators: Trey Bender, Jay Walker
Teams: No. 1 UC Santa Barbara, No. 2 USC, No. 3 Virginia, No. 4 San Diego State
Networks: ESPN3
Game 1 – Virginia vs. USC: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – San Diego State vs. UC Santa Barbara: May 29 at 10 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 6 p.m. & 10 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 9 p.m.

Site: Stillwater, Okla.
Commentators: Mark Neely, Jay Powell
Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Oral Roberts, No. 4 St. John’s
Networks: SEC Network, ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Oral Roberts vs. Arkansas: May 29 at 1 p.m., SEC Network
Game 2 – St. John’s vs. Oklahoma State: May 29 at 7 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 7 p.m.

Site: Fullerton, Calif.
Commentators: Roxy Bernstein, Randy Flores
Teams: No. 1 Cal State Fullerton, No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Clemson, No. 4 Pepperdine
Networks: ESPNU or ESPN3
Game 1 – Clemson vs. Arizona State: May 29 at 6 p.m., ESPN3
Game 2 – Pepperdine vs. Cal State Fullerton: May 29 at 10 p.m., ESPN3
Games 3 & 4: May 30 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Games 5 & 6: May 31 at 7 p.m. & 11 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): June 1 at 11 p.m.

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NCAA Division I College Baseball tournament is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-sports

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

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.

Coal Chamber Burns As Bright As Ever On Rivals

Courtesy:  Napalm Records

Courtesy: Napalm Records

Ten years ago, Coal Chamber front man Dez Fafara made it official that he and his then former band mates were done. He said that Coal Chamber was finished and that it would never get back together. Apparently nobody ever told Fafara to never say never. That’s because that “never” only lasted about six years. In 2011, he joined forces once again with guitarist Miguel Rascon and drummer Mike Cox and started up the fire in the chamber (bad pun fully intended here). The trio is currently joined by bassist Nadja Puelen, who also recorded and performed with Coal Chamber for a period of time after the departure of original bassist Rayna Foss Rose. Four years removed from Coal Chamber’s resurrection, the band has released an album in the form of Rivals that shows the band’s time apart did it plenty of good. That is because it sounds as strong as it did in its heyday. This is evident more than once through the course of the album’s thirteen total tracks including the album’s second track, ‘Bad Blood Between Us,’ its title track, and its penultimate song ‘Fade Away (karma Never Forgets).’ These are just a few examples of the fire that has been building inside the band since its breakup and subsequent reunion. Each of the remaining ten tracks that make up the rest of this record show exhibit just as much fire and fury in their own way. Whether for those tracks or for the compositions noted here, audiences will agree in listening to each work that collectively they make Rivals an album that *rivals* the band’s previous releases with ease. And because it does, it proves itself a record that long-time fans and newer fans alike should hear at least once.

Thirteen years have passed since Coal Chamber released its last full-length studio effort Dark Days. Who ever would have thought that upon its release that album’s title would be such a foreshadowing for the band? While well over a decade has passed since the release of that album and the band’s latest release Rivals, that span of time has clearly done more good for frontman Dez Fafara and his band mates–Mike Cox (drums), Miguel Rascon (bass) and Nadja Puelen (bass)–than bad. That is because Rivals shows through the course of its thirteen tracks that it is just as strong as it was in that album’s release if not stronger. Whatever bad blood was there so long ago has seemingly been healed at least to some extent. Interestingly enough that same bad blood has actually helped make Rivals the strong record that it is. It has helped in that it serves as the basis for one of the best of the album’s compositions; the aptly titled ‘Bad Blood Between Us.’ Fafara writes clearly of the emotions that he felt upon the band’s split and the time leading up to its split in this song. That is made crystal clear in the song’s chorus as Fafara writes, “There’s some bad blood that flow between us/That flows between us/Turning the other cheek just evens out the scars/Nothing drowns the sorrow.” He goes on to write in the song’s closing lines, “Say it/We’re out for blood/I’m out for blood/It’s time to unravel/This wrath is on you/Heed this warning/Take this message/I’m out for blood.” The message is clear here. There was obviously a lot of animosity both in the days leading up to the band’s breakup and the actual breakup at least on the part of Fafara. This is just a small part of the picture painted by Fafara, too. The rest of the song’s verses coupled with the fury of its musical side makes the picture in question even richer and clearer for audiences. And being so vivid, it makes for just one impressive example of what makes Rival an easy *rival* against the band’s previous albums.

The energy and emotion exhibited in ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ is a prime example of just how much Coal Chamber has to offer on its new album. While it does plenty to show just how much the band has to offer in itself, it’s just one example of how much Coal Chamber has to offer in its latest outing.  The album’s title track also makes clear that Coal Chamber still has plenty to offer audiences. The juxtaposition of the song’s more contemplative verses to its more impactful chorus in its musical side builds a strong foundation for the song. The lyrical content laid overtop each verse and chorus makes the song even more powerful. Fafara ruminates in the song’s verses, thinking about all the bad that has been done to the song’s subject, writing in the first verse alone, “You spit in my face/You reek all over this place/Try to bend my will just to get your thrills/After all this time/You’d think it would all be fine/But it feels out of line/It’s so hateful/Jealousy reigns/It causes so much pain/But it helps to eliminate/The unfaithful.” This could apply to a marital situation. It could point to a friendship gone wrong, too. It could even relate to another situation entirely. Regardless, these straight forward lyrics and Fafara’s delivery of said lyrics set opposite the song’s chorus make for a song that hits listeners just as hard as any other piece on this record. the same can be said of the song’s second verse set against the song’s chorus, too. It makes the song just as hard-hitting as ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and in turn just as solid an example of how much Coal Chamber has to offer audiences in this record.

Both ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and ‘Rivals’ show in their own way that despite thirteen years between the release of Rivals and Coal Chamber’s last album, the band has lost none of its edge. If anything they show that the fire burning beneath the band’s members is burning as bright as ever. If those examples are not enough for audiences, then the album’s penultimate composition ‘Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)’ should do the trick. This song proves just as strongly as the previously examined works what makes Rivals worth at least one listen by long-time fans and newer fans alike. This song is a full on assault both musically and lyrically. Puelen, Rascon and Cox are the driving force behind the song from beginning to end. Fafara’s fury in his no-nonsense lyrics and vocal delivery add the proverbial icing to the cake. He lets listeners know he means business as he screams in the song’ chorus, “Fade away/Karma never forgets/It’ll be one hell of a war/Before you rise against me.” Fafara makes no bones about it here. He is saying to someone, “Want some? Come get some.” As if there was any room for doubt, he goes on to sing in the song’s lead verse and refrain, “Stripped me apart/Left me in the dark/Because you took it too far/Now I keep your heart locked up/With herbs and bone in a black mason jar.” Whether this is aimed at a former romantic interest or the result of very hurt feelings from the band’s original breakup, the one thing that can be said of these lyrics is that they leave little to question other than the subjects(s) at whom the song is aimed. The fury in the song’s music and lyrics is very real. And being so clearly real it makes this song yet another example of what makes Rivals such a strong return for Coal Chamber. Together with ‘Bad Blood Between Us’ and ‘Rivals’ the trio of songs noted here show without a single doubt that Coal Chamber is back and in a big way. In fact together with the remaining ten tracks not noted here, the album in whole proves once more why it is a solid *rival* to Coal Chamber’s previous releases and any other hard rock record released so far this year.

‘Bad Blood Between Us,’ ‘Rivals,’ and ‘Fade Away (Karma Never Forgets)’ are all excellent examples of the strength of Coal Chamber’s new full-length studio release. That is not to take away from the album’s other songs not noted here. Each of the remaining ten songs that make up the rest of the album’s body could easily be cited as examples of the album’s strength, too. All things considered, Rivals presents Coal Chamber as a band that is just as strong today as it was in its heyday and a band that is ready to make its mark on the rock and metal community again. Rivals is available now in stores and online. More information on the album is available online now along with all of the latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.coalchamberofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/COALCHAMBEROFFI

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Black Veil Brides To Release Debut Live Recording This Summer

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Black Veil brides will release its first-ever live recording this summer.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Alive and Burning on Friday, July 10th. The band’s first-ever live recording, it will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally via iTunes. Alive and Burning was recorded live on November 1st, 2014 during the band’s hometown show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The show was part of the band’s 2014 “Black Mass Tour” presented by Hot Topic. It features seventeen songs pulled from the band’s now four full-length studio releases including: ‘Knives and Pens,’ ‘Fallen Angels,’ ‘Faithless,’ and ‘The End’ just to name a small handful. The complete set list for the recording is noted below.

Track Listing


1) Heart Of Fire

2) I Am Bulletproof

3) Coffin

4) Faithless

5) Wretched & Divine

6) Knives & Pens

7) Overture

8) Shadows Die

9) Last Rites

10) Rebel Love Song

11) Drum Solo

12) The Legacy

13) Sweet Blasphemy

14) Perfect Weapon

15) Fallen Angels

16) Rebel Yell

17) In The End

Plus bonus feature “Meet The Fans”

Audiences can check out the trailer for Alive and Burning online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kverarFmT50&feature=youtu.be. More information on Alive and Burning is available online now along with all of the latest news from Black Veil Brides at:

Website: http://www.blackveilbrides.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blackveilbrides

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.

Every Listener Will Be Glad That They Found Lost And Found

Courtesy:  Nonesuch Records

Courtesy: Nonesuch Records

On September 16th, 1997 Ry Cooder and Juan de Marcos Gonzalez released the very first album from the musical conglomerate known as Buena Vista Social Club. That was seventeen years ago. Fast forward to 2015. Cooder and de Marcos Gonzalez have both kept themselves quite busy with their own projects; so busy in fact that up until this past March, the pair had released only one other recording under the Buena Vista Social Club moniker. The recording, a live recording titled Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall, was released in 2008 via World Circuit Records around the World and on Nonesuch Records domestically in North America. Despite keeping so busy with their own projects Cooder and de Carlos Gonzalez did record some other pieces both in studio and live that until now had never seen the light of day so to speak. And thanks to the efforts of those at both World Circuit and Nonesuch, Buena Vista Social Club’s fans now have some of those recordings in the form of the group’s new compilation record Lost and Found. Lost and Found is a wonderful addition to any true music lover’s music library first and foremost because it is not just another compilation of “previously unreleased songs” and “new” songs. Instead it balances both some of the group’s previously unreleased songs with some of its live recordings, too. It really makes a valid effort to balance both elements, too. Both the live and studio elements offer their own enjoyment, too as audiences will hear. That is especially the case when examining the audio mix in the live recordings. Last but hardly least worth noting of the compilation is that even those audiences that don’t speak Spanish won’t have to worry about knowing any Spanish. That is because the songs’ musical side speaks volumes. The old adage that music is the universal language proves true time and again throughout each song. Audiences will find this for themselves when they listen to this collection of songs. It speaks volumes, too saying to audiences of all ages that Lost and Found is another record that proves itself one more of this year’s best new hits compilations.

Lost and Found is only the third overall collection of songs to be released by Buena Vista Social Club since it released its debut self-titled album in 1997. While not technically a collection of new studio recordings, it is still a record that proves itself well worth the listen. the main reason that it proves itself so worth the listen is that it isn’t just another contractually obligated space filler that has been haphazardly thrown together. Rather it is obvious in listening to the album’s fourteen total tracks that a lot of thought was put into the compilation’s assembly. While the group’s previously unreleased songs dominate the record, there are at least three live recordings included throughout the record, too. What is more, neither the members of BVSC nor the label reps at World Circuit or Nonesuch try to make them anything but what they are–b-sides that simply never made it to record because of the group’s commitments to other projects. This is different from compilation records churned out by so many other acts across the musical universe. Other acts try to market their compilation records as some sort of huge bonus for audiences and fans. They throw in “bonus making of DVDs” or “bonus live tracks, etc.” to try to convince audiences to pay for records that really end up bring hardly worth the money. It’s good to see that none of the parties involved here took that route. It creates within itself a solid foundation for the record and all the more reason for audiences to hear it regardless of their familiarity with BVSC.

The overall makeup of Lost and Found in regards to its sequencing makes for more than enough reason for audiences to hear this record. It’s just part of the reason that audiences will want to hear this record. The record’s production values add even more reason for audiences to hear this record especially with the live recordings included in the record. the audience noise is kept so well in check in the live recordings both on the front end and the back that they almost don’t feel like live recordings. There is just enough of that noise to let audiences know they are in fact hearing live performances. On another level, the musicians themselves are just as expertly balanced throughout each of the live performances, too. That means that each part can easily be heard. Just as impressive is that in hearing each performer, each part sounds so full that yet again one almost wouldn’t know one was hearing a live performance if not for the slightest amount of crowd noise just underneath the performers. It really is a tribute to the work of those charged with handling the audio mix in the noted recordings. That isn’t to take away from those that handled the production of the studio tracks of course. The production values of those tracks is just as impressive as that of the live recordings. All things considered, the work of those charged with handling the recordings’ production are to be commended. Their wok paid off in spades here, leading to yet another reason that any listener will enjoy this record.

The work that went into getting Lost and Found’s songs to record is definitely worth the mention in examining what makes this compilation so enjoyable. When partnered with the mix of live and previously unreleased studio tracks (as well as the compilation’s marketing), audiences are presented with double the reason to check out Lost and Found. For all of the value of these elements, the value of the songs’ musical side is just as worth noting. Regardless of whether or not audiences speak Spanish, every listener will appreciate the record’s musical side equally. It is said after all that music is the universal language. though for those that speak at least a little bit of Spanish, those audiences will appreciate the balance of the songs’ musical content with their lyrical content. From one song to the next each song presents its own depth and enjoyment thanks to the balance of music and lyrics. Such impressive balance of musical and lyrical content throughout the record solidifies Lost and Found’s success. Together with the record’s mix of songs and their marketing, and the production values of the songs, all three elements together make Lost and Found a record that every listener will be glad that they found.

Lost and Found may not necessarily be a new record from BVSC. Even being a compilation record, it is still an impressive record in its own right. That is thanks in large part to its included songs and related marketing of said songs. It doesn’t try to claim to be some special bonus record for audiences that is in reality just an obligatory space filler. It is a collection of songs that paints its own special picture of BVSC. The record’s production values are just as much worth noting both in terms of its studio tracks and its live recordings. Last but not least is the fact that whether or not audiences speak even the slightest bit of Spanish, the musical side of these songs will offer more than its own share of enjoyment. For those that do speak at least some Spanish, those audiences will appreciate the attention paid by the musicians to the link between the songs’ lyrical and musical content. All three elements together show clearly that Lost and Found is a record that every music lover will be glad to have found. Lost and Found is available in stores and online now and can be ordered online direct from Nonesuch Records’ online store at http://www.nonesuch.com/store/buena-vista-social-club. More information on this and other titles from Nonesuch Records is available online now at:

Website: http://www.nonesuch.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NoneSuchRecords

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Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions Are Also Some Of The Original Series’ Greatest Episodes

Courtesy:  CBS DVD/Paramount

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount

When NBC first brought Star Trek to the airwaves in 1966, it was not the only sci-fi series to come to audiences at the time.  The Twilight Zone ran on CBS from 1959 – 1964.  ABC responded in 1963 with The Outer Limits.  From 1964 to 1968, ABC took audiences beneath the waves in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which itself stemmed from the 1961 big screen feature of the same name.  CBS also had Lost in Space from 1965 – ’68 and My Favorite Martian from 1963’66.  From 1967 – ’68, ABC also ran The Invaders.  Looking at all of this, it goes without saying that Gene Roddenberry’s series had its fair share of competition in its original run on television.  And interestingly enough, it actually ran for about the same amount of time—three seasons—as those other series.  In some cases, it ran longer than its competition.  Yet having only run three seasons it has gone on to become the most successful of all of the franchises that came before and after.  From the time of its original broadcast on NBC, Star Trek has gone on to spawn no fewer than six big screen features, five more series, four more movies linked to one of those series, and countless video games, books and box sets.  The latest of those box sets—Star Trek: The Original SeriesCaptain Kirk’s Boldest Missions—was just released this past March.  More specifically, it was released March 17th.  Regardless of audiences’ familiarity or loyalty to Star Trek: TOS, this latest collection of episodes proves itself a worthwhile addition to any fan’s Star Trek collection.  The main way in which it proves itself a worthwhile addition to any fan’s collection is through the episodes culled for the collection.  From playing a game of cat and mouse in “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “Balance of Terror” to facing off against a device that could destroy entire worlds, Kirk and company face some huge odds in the episodes collected for the set.  And these are just a few examples of what fans have to expect from this set.  There is much more for audiences to enjoy from these and the set’s other episodes in whole, proving why the episodes collected for the set are the foundation of its enjoyment.  The bonus commentary included with the set adds even more enjoyment to the set even as limited as it proves to be.  It is one more reason that audiences should check out Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions.  Last but not least worth noting of this collection is its collective production values.  The episodes presented here look and sound just as impressive as in their previous DVD and Blu-ray releases with the other episodes from the series’ full season sets.  That means that all eight episodes prove just as enjoyable to watch here as in the series’ full-season sets.  And it solidifies Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions as quite the bold outing itself.  It is a collection that Star Trek fans of all ages should have in their collection regardless of whether they already own the previously released stand-alone full season sets or not.

Star Trek: The Original SeriesCaptain Kirk’s Boldest Missions is obviously not the first collection of classic Star Trek episodes to have been released since the series first hit the airwaves in 1966.  It is however a great addition to any Star Trek fan’s personal collection regardless of their familiarity or loyalty to the series.  It holds its own quite well against all of the other TOS collections that have come before (including the stand-alone full-season sets).  The main way in which it holds its own so well is through its featured episodes.  It features eight total episodes spread across two discs.  The episodes culled for this set are not just some of Captain Kirk’s boldest missions but also some of the most memorable episodes of the series’ overall.  Disc one sees Kirk and company playing a high stakes game of cat and mouse in “The Corbomite Maneuver” and “Balance of Terror.”  They also come face to face with Khan for the first time in “Space Seed.”  “The Conscience of the King” features an interstellar murder mystery of sorts.  Disc Two presents just as much entertainment for audiences.  It offers up two alternate timeline/universe stories in the form of “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Mirror.”  Both stories are classic alternate universe stories in their own right, too.  “Mirror Mirror’s” alternate story sees Kirk thrust into a universe in which the crew of the Enterprise is anything but honorable.  “The City on the Edge of Forever” sends Kirk and company back in time to an Earth that is ruled by the Nazi party.  And it’s up to them to change that.  “The Doomsday Machine” is just as gripping and thought provoking.  That is because the machine in question was a humanly created machine meant solely for warfare.  And it has gone rogue so to speak.  Now it’s yet again up to Kirk to lead his crew and stop the machine before it destroys the Enterprise.  “Return To Tomorrow” offers its own interest as it raises the question of whether or not beings from other worlds visited Earth eons ago. The manner in which the show’s writers raised this discussion is itself short. But it definitely opens up the door for that discussion. And it’s just another way in which the episodes featured in Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions prove themselves the most important part of the set’s enjoyment.

The episodes collected for Kirk’s Boldest Missions each offer audiences their own share of enjoyment, showing from one to the next why they sit at the center of this set’s enjoyment. As enjoyable as each episode proves itself to be, the episodes can only go so far on their own merits. Luckily for fans, there is additional commentary included with the set, too. Of course it is limited. There is no commentary within the episodes per se. But there is still commentary included on both discs. The most extensive commentary precedes “The City on The Edge of Forever.” William Shatner and co-star Joan Collins (who guest stars on the episode in question) discuss the importance of the episode and the implications of World War II’s outcome. It drives home the importance of what the Allied Forces accomplished in stopping Hitler’s Nazi regime. Didn’t think that sci-fi could be so deep? It most certainly can be. And as in this episode, it most certainly is deeper than many people think. Speaking of that depth, Shatner offers even more depth in the bonus commentary included in the set’s first disc as he discusses the importance of the captain keeping a log on Star Trek and how that mirrors a person keeping a personal journal in real life. He also relates the characteristics of a good captain to a good leader in real life, and the legacy left behind by Captain Kirk. Yet again, he makes a real world comparison to the legacy that people leave in their own lives. These discussions continue the depth presented in the one episodic commentary included in the set’s second disc. All of the commentaries combined, they offer their own insight and entertainment for audiences. Those commentaries added to the episodes prove even stronger why Kirk’s Boldest Missions is a great addition to any Star Trek fan’s collection even if said fan(s) already own the series’ stand-alone season sets.

The bonus commentary and episodes featured at the center of Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions collectively give Star Trek fans plenty of reason to add the compilation to their own DVD libraries. Having noted both elements, there is still one more element to note to its positive. That last element is the look and sound of the episodes, or its overall production values. The episodes culled for Captain Kirk’s Boldest Missions look and sound just as good as they do alongside the series’ other episodes in its previously released stand-alone season sets. As lacking as this seems in terms of importance to the whole, it is actually rather important. There are some companies out there that try to churn out compilations such as this one for other series without trying at all to make them look or sound even presentable. Those companies will remain nameless here. But they do exist. Luckily for fans, those at Paramount and CBS Video have made certain to make these episodes look and sound their best once more for fans regardless of whether or not fans already own the series’ standalone sets. Because the episodes sound and look as good as they do, they make for all the reason for fans to watch the episodes and commentary and add this set to their personal Star Trek collections.

Star Trek: The Original SeriesCaptain Kirk’s Boldest Missions offers the series’ fans plenty of reason to add this collection to their own personal DVD libraries. It offers audiences eight episodes that are not only some of Captain Kirk’s greatest (and boldest) missions, but eight episodes that are also fan favorites. On top of that, it also includes some rather in-depth commentary form Captain Kirk himself. Topping of the ways in which this set proves itself worthy of Star Trek fans around the world is its collective production values. The episodes presented here look and sound just as good as in their previous presentations. All three elements combined together prove this double-disc set one that every Star Trek fan of every age will appreciate with every watch and should have in their own home DVD collection. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from CBS Home Entertainment at http://cbshe.com/STKirk. More information on this and other titles available from CBS Home Entertainment is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.cbshomeentertainment.com

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

 

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