Hannah Williams’ Second LP Takes First On Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Independent Albums List

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Courtesy: Record Kicks

The countdown to the year’s end continue today with yet another addition to Phil’s Picks’ 2016 “Best Of” lists.  This time, Phil’s Picks offers its list of the year’s top new independent albums.  This list was just as difficult as any assembled.  Readers should understand independent doesn’t necessarily mean unsigned.  Rather it encompasses unsigned bands and bands signed to independent labels, thus the title “Independent Albums.”  Included in this year’s list are new releases from Cage9, All Hail The Yeti, Hannah Williams and the Affirmations among many others.  As always, the list includes the year’s Top 10 new albums on the list as well as five honorable mention titles, bringing the total album count to 15.  So, without further ado, here are Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Independent Albums.

 

2016 Top 10 New Independent Albums

 

1) Hannah Williams and the Affirmations – Late Nights and Heartbreak

 

2) All Hail the Yeti – Screams From A Black Wilderness

 

3) Love and a .38 – Nomad

 

4) Buffalo Summer – Second Sun

 

5) Cage9 – Illuminator

 

6) Apollo Under Fire – Apollo Under Fire

 

7) The Heavy – Hurt and the Merciless

 

8) Celeb Car Crash – People Are The Best Show

 

9) Radio Exile – Soulfire

 

10) Ray Rocket – Do You Wanna Go To Tijuana

 

11) Another Lost Year – Alien Architect

 

12) Alexis Taylor – Piano

 

13) Garrett Klahn – Garrett Klahn

 

14) Pareidolia – Denied Truths

 

15) Phill Rocker – Hard To Bleed

 

 

 

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The Empire Will Rise This Winter

Courtesy: Rise Records/Velocity Records

Courtesy: Rise Records/Velocity Records

The empire will rise this winter.

Cosplay rock outfit Galactic Empire will release its debut album Friday, February 3, 2017.  The 11-song, self-titled record will be released via Rise Records.  It will feature the band’s own take on a number of songs featured in LucasFilms’s Star Wars movies.  Those movies are not limited to just the original trilogy of films.  The franchise’s latest installment, The Force Awakens gets a nod on this record in ‘Ben’s Death: Tie Fighter Attack.’

Also included in the band’s upcoming album are ‘Imperial March,’ ‘The Asteroid Field,’ and other re-imagined songs from the famed franchise.

The band recently released a joint statement announcing the album’s upcoming album in a manner only the Empire could.

“AT LONG LAST!  Our preparations are complete.  The mighty Galactic Empire will unleash our ultimate weapon in the battle to bring heavy metal to your galaxy,” the band said. “The puny humans at Velocity and Rise Records have succumbed to the crushing power of the Dark Side and will release out debut full-length album on which we pay tribute to Supreme Sith Overlord John Williams with 11 tracks of pure sonic devastation.  Join us, and together, we can rule the galaxy!”

The full track listing for the band’s upcoming album is noted below.

 

Track Listing:
01. Main Theme
02. Imperial March
03. Duel of the Fates
04. The Force Theme
05. The Asteroid Field
06. Battle of the Heroes
07. Cantina Band
08. Ben’s Death: Tie Fighter Attack
09. Across the Stars
10. The Forest Battle
11. The Throne Room: End Title

 

Velocity and Rise Records released videos for ‘The Imperial March’ and ‘Main Theme’ earlier this year.  The band has also been keeping audiences updated on the album through its own YouTube Channel.

Pre-orders are available for Galactic Empire now via iTunes and the band’s official website.

More information on Galactic Empire’s upcoming debut album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/GalacticEmpire8

 

 

 

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.

‘Late Nights And Heartbreak’ Is One Of 2016’s Most Surprising Albums

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Hannah Williams is one of the music industry’s most well-kept secrets.  The UK-based singer first made a name for herself in 2012 with her debut album Hill of Feathers.  That album’s lead single ‘Work It Out’ earned her fame around the world.  Its companion video has more than one million views.  Four years and thousands of tour miles later—with a number of sold out shows along the way—the young soul powerhouse has released her follow-up to Hill of Feathers in the form of her sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak.  While her debut album set her on her path to fame, this latest offering could very well be the record that makes her a mainstream hit.  One song supporting that statement is the socio-politically charged ‘Ain’t Enough.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another song that shows the strengths of Late Nights and Heartbreak.  It will be discussed later.  Williams’ cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ is one more song showing the strengths of this album, and is hardly the last example of those strengths, too.  In fact, every one of the songs included in this album could be cited in exhibiting what makes this record stand so proud.  All things considered, Late Nights and Heartbreak proves to be one of this year’s top new independent albums if not one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Hannah Williams’ sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak is one of this year’s top new independent albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.  That is exhibited throughout the album’s 13-song body crafted by Williams and her new backing band, The Affirmations.  One of the songs that best serves to show the album’s strengths is ‘Ain’t Enough.’  In terms of its musical arrangement, it echoes the arrangement presented in Marvin Gaye’s hit song ‘What’s Going On?’ but does so without merely replicating that arrangement.  Adam Holgate’s guitar licks and Jai Widdowson-Jones’ infectious beats join with the group’s horn section—Nicholas Malcom (trumpet), Liam Treasure (trombone) and John Pratt (baritone saxophone)—to make a rich sound that echoes Gaye’s timeless work but still maintains its own identity separate from that of Gaye’s song.  What’s even more amazing here is the fact that the group’s presentation feels so effortless.  There are a lot of acts out there who try way too hard to resurrect the sound of a certain era only to end up failing miserably in their efforts.  The Affirmations make it clear that it is not one of those acts in this composition.  Instead it shows itself to be an act that has clearly spent a long time perfecting its collective abilities.  The end result here, again, is a work that sounds wholly genuine.  In turn it turns out to be just one of so many standout arrangements presented in this album.  The song’s musical arrangement is clearly important to displaying the album’s overall strengths.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s socio-politically charged lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Ain’t Enough’ is clearly an important part of the song’s presentation.  It is one clear example of what makes LNAH such a strong new effort from Hannah Williams.  It is just one part of what makes the song (and album) stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.  Williams takes on the country’s political leaders in the song’s lyrics, her vocal delivery sounding like a hybrid of Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, if one can even begin to fathom such a combination.  She sings here, “It’s hard to believe/All these things that you say/When so much of what we have is being taken away/This ain’t a nightmare/No, this is real life/Wake up to all these problems/Cause they ain’t solved overnight…If this is you doin’ all you can/It definitely ain’t enough.”  She goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Before you accuse/Take a look at yourself/Is peace what you want/Or is it more about wealth/Lining your pockets/Pulling wool over our eyes/Getting rich from selling weapons/Watching innocents die.”  There’s no doubt from here about the song’s topic.  Williams makes no bones about it here.  She is not happy about what the world’s political leaders are doing at the expense of the people. Yet she’s not screaming about it unlike so many acts out there today.  But it is definitely a concerted statement.  Again, it is a statement that would fit just as well with the protest songs of the 60s and 70s as it does with today’s socio-politically minded songs.  One could even argue that it outshines its modern counterparts.  When this is taken into consideration alongside the song’s infectious musical arrangement, the whole of the song shows clearly why it is one of the album’s strongest songs. In turn it shows in part why LNAH is a solid record in whole.  It is just one of the songs that supports the latter statement.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘Ain’t Enough’ is one of the strongest offerings from Hannah Williams’ new album Late Nights and Heartbreak.  It shows in part through its infectious musical arrangement an influence from the likes of Marvin Gaye, yet still maintains its own identity.  Even better is that The affirmations make what they do seem effortless and genuine.  When the song’s socio-politically minded lyrics are set against that arrangement, the end result is a song that will move people and transport them back to another era.  While both elements work to make this song clearly stand out, the song in whole is just one of this record’s most notable works.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another of the album’s most notable works.  Its musical arrangement is one reason that it stands out so clearly.  The song’s arrangement is led by Jones’ and keyboardist James Graham.  The pair forms the foundation for the song’s arrangement while Adam Holgate adds his own extra spice to the song through his guitar riff.  The trio’s arrangement is a mid-tempo groove that while laid back, is still infectious in its own right.  That’s especially the case as the group’s horns come in and help the song progress.  The arrangement presented in this song stands out clearly from that of ‘Ain’t Enough.’  It does a lot to make the song stand separate from LNAH’s other songs and still entertain audiences by itself.  As important as it is to the song’s presentation, it is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Woman Got Soul’ is key to the song because it clearly establishes the song’s identity separate from the other arrangements presented throughout LNAH.  It is a laid back piece that is still just as infectious as the album’s other arrangements.  While it is obviously an important piece of the song’s overall presentation, it is only one part of what makes the song such a strong effort.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical theme seems rather to the point as Williams sings, “There’s a lot in this world/That makes you do wrong/You see you got to think hard/If you wanna stay strong/There’s a lot of people/That can’t resist/Screwing up their whole lives…I was taught how to love, not how to fight/We don’t want no trouble/We don’t need no more/You’re so amusing/At a dance floor/All my women/Sing it with me/Show me how you do/Woman got soul.  The song evolves into a jam session of sorts from here with Williams and company eventually singing over and over again, “woman got soul/We don’t need no more.”  It has to be inferred through such simplistic lyrical content, that the song is one of female empowerment.  It seems like Williams and company are telling women to be proud of who they are and just get out there, not be one of those people who love drama and ruining their own lives.  If that is indeed the case, then in all honesty, it’s even better than Beyonce’s female empowerment anthem ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ and the Destiny’s Child song ‘Independent Women.’  That’s a bold statement, and audiences will agree with it after comparing all three works.  That is especially the case when the song’s musical arrangement is set alongside its lyrical content.  Even as strong as it is in its combined musical and lyrical simplicity it is just one more of the songs included in this album that shows the album’s strengths.  Williams’ cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused is another one of this record’s strongest efforts.

‘Aint’ Enough’ and ‘Woman Got Soul’ are both clear examples of what makes LNAH a solid new effort from Hannah Williams.  That is evidenced through the songs’ musical arrangements and their lyrical content, both of which stand firmly on their own merits.  They create identities for the songs that are separate from both one another and from the rest of the album’s songs.  While both songs stand clearly as two examples of what makes this record such a strong effort, they are just two of the album’s high points.  Williams’ take on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ is yet another of the album’s many high points.  In regards to the song’s musical arrangement, the song maintains the original composition’s sound.  However, it also gives the song a little bit of a kick so to speak.  Rather than being the slower, more bluesy piece that Led Zeppelin crafted so long ago, this take on the song is more of an up-tempo piece.  The funk elements incorporated into this take from Williams and her fellow musicians in The Affirmations adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Even with the song’s original arrangement being stepped up here, the fact that it still stayed true to its source material still makes it a completely enjoyable work.  It makes the group’s take on the classic a work that Zeppelin’s fans, Williams’ fans and rock fans alike will appreciate.

The lyrics presented here have been slightly altered from the original, since they are performed from a female vantage point.  That aside, they are still largely the same as the original save for that one alteration.  Keeping that in mind, Williams’ delivery packs a punch that hits just as hard as that of Robert Plant.  Even more impressive is that it does this all while, again, giving the song its own identity even in that right.  Considering the group’s ability to balance the original composition with its own take on the song, it shows once more why this song is another of the album’s strongest points.  When it is joined with ‘Ain’t Enough,’ ‘Woman Got Soul,’ and the rest of the album’s songs, it becomes wholly clear why this latest effort from Hannah Williams is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  They reveal the album to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Hannah Williams’ sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  The 13-song album proves through its diverse musical arrangements and its equally varied lyrical topics to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.  ‘Ain’t Enough,’ ‘Woman Got Soul’ and the group’s take on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed And Confused’ each fully support those statements.  They are just some of the songs included in this record that do so, too.  ‘In Your Arms’ with its bittersweet musical arrangement and equally painful lyrical story is yet another example of what makes this record stand out among its competitors.  ‘Callin’ Me Back’ stands out on its own merits, too and adds even more enjoyment to this album.  Much the same can be said of the album’s closer, ‘Your Luck Can Change.’  Between those songs, the pieces more directly noted here, and the album’s other offerings, the whole of this record proves to be a work that is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  It will grip fans of funk, soul, and even R&B across the board with its stunning arrangements and equally strong lyrical content.  All things considered, it proves to be once more, one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Late Nights and Heartbreak is available online now along with all of Hannah Williams’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.hannahsoulwilliams.bandcamp.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pg/hannahwilliamsandtheaffirmations

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hannahfwilliams

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.

Red Tide Rising Takes Top Honors In Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New EPs List

Courtesy: Vanity Records

Courtesy: Vanity Records

2016 has been an outstanding year for new music.  New albums from every genre have flooded the market.  While albums take center stage for so many audiences and critics alike, they are not the only new recordings that are deserving of attention.  EPs deserve just as much attention as albums this year and every year.  Keeping that in mind, this critic has maintained a list of the year’s top new EPs throughout the year.

Now with the year’s final weeks winding down, Phil’s Picks begins its annual “Best Of” lists with a list of the year’s top new EPs as, again, they are deserving of as much attention as the mass of albums released across the board.  This year’s list is topped by hard rock outfit Red Tide Rising’s new EP Voices.  Also included in this year’s list are new EPs from Fenix TX, Silvertung, Orgy and many others.

As in previous years, the lists presented by Phil’s Picks are topped by the year’s top 10 new releases.  An extra five releases worthy of honorable mention are included, too.  That brings each list’s count to 15.  Having said all of that, here is the first of Phil’s Picks “Best Of” lists for 2016.  It is 2016’s Top 10 New EPs.

 

2016 TOP 10 NEW EPs

 

1) Red Tide Rising – Voices

 

2) Fenix TX – CRE.EP

 

3) Silvertung – Out of the Box

 

4) Tengger Cavalry – Mountainside

 

5) Aree and the Purehearts – Aree and the Purehearts

 

6) Into The Fire – Into The Fire

 

7) Essential End – Essential End

 

8) Not A Planet – Smokebombs and Cigarettes

 

9) Orgy – Talk Sick

 

10) KT Tunstall – Golden State

 

*11) Guttermouth – New Car Smell

 

*12) The Brevet – Embers Chapter 2

 

*13) Crystal Yates – The Other Side

 

*14) Death Valley Dreams – Death Valley Dreams

 

*15) Step Sisters – Thick

 

Tomorrow, Phil’s Picks will offer up 2016’s Top 10 New CD Re-Issues.  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.

CMG Shines Again With ‘Sudden Fear’ Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Cohen Media Group

Courtesy: Cohen Media Group

Later next month, Cohen Media Group will re-issue Joseph Kaufman Productions’ 1951 noir thriller Sudden Fear on Blu-ray. The movie, an adaptation of author Edna Sherry’s book by the same name, is a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic work.  That is due in part to its story.  This will be discussed shortly.  The work of the movie’s main stars—Joan Crawford, Jack Palance and Gloria Grahame—is just as important to note as the movie’s story to the overall presentation of the movie’s upcoming re-issue.  The bonus commentary included with the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own way to the presentation of the movie’s upcoming re-issue.  All things considered, Cohen Media Group’s re-issue of Sudden Fear proves to be one of 2016’s top new re-issues.

Cohen Media Group’s upcoming re-issue of Joseph Kaufman Productions’ 1952 hit noir thriller Sudden Fear is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  This is proven in part through the movie’s story.  Sudden Fear’s story was adapted from a page turner by the same name written by author Edna Sherry.  It follows lead character Myra Hudson (Crawford) as she meets and falls in love with actor Lester Blaine (Palance).  As the story progresses, Myra marries Lester Blaine, but finds out later he hadn’t married her for love at all, but rather for money.  As she discovers by chance, he is plotting with another woman to murder her and take her money.  There’s a certain irony to the plot that audiences will appreciate in hindsight.  As it turns out because of his greed and short sightedness, he didn’t even know he could have had even more money.  It serves to show the old adage that crime never pays is very true, and is a great addition to the story, especially in its subtlety.  What’s even more interesting in dissecting the story is that being made in 1952, the story seemed pretty much run-of-the-mill back then.  But now in the 21st century, one need just watch an episode of 48 Hours, Dateline or 20/20 to see just how realistic such a story can be and is.  Add in relatively stable pacing over the course of the story’s near two-hour run time (the movie runs 110 minutes, just shy of the two-hour mark) and audiences get a story that forms a solid foundation for the movie’s presentation and that of its upcoming re-issue.  It is just one part of what makes the movie’s upcoming re-issue so enjoyable.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here as the movie’s story.

The story at Sudden Fear’s base is a hugely important part of the movie’s presentation.  On one level, it does make some changes from author Edna Sherry’s original novel on which it is based.  But it still strives to stay at least somewhat true to its source material.  On another level, it is a simple story that audiences will have no trouble following, yet is still so gripping.  On its last level, its pacing makes its 110-minute run time pass by with relative ease, even in its somewhat slower moments. Keeping that in mind, the movie’s story, again, forms a solid foundation for its presentation.  While it is clearly an important piece of the movie’s presentation, it is just one of the movie’s key elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important to note here as that of its writers—Lenore J. Coffee, Robert Smith and Joan Crawford herself (this will be discussed later).  Crawford, as audiences will learn through the bonus commentary included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue, was hardly a rookie actor when she took on the role of Myra Hudson in this movie.  In fact, Turner Classic Movies writer and author Jeremy Arnold reveals that Crawford had starred in more than 70 (yes, 70 plus movies) at the time that she starred in Sudden Fear.  Her years of experience showed clearly in her performance here as she progressed from strong, confident, self-assured playwright to standard female romantic lead back to that strong, confident, self-assured figure in the end.  There were so many moments throughout where Crawford easily could have chewed some scenery such as when Myra first discovers by chance that Lester had only married her for her money or in the story’s final chase scene.  But she didn’t allow herself to do that, instead exhibiting clearly those years of experience.  That control made her acting so enjoyable to take in.  Her talent will make audiences across the board cheer her on as she defies Lester and makes her own plan to stop him.  Hers is just one example of what makes the cast’s wok so notable in this movie.  Palance is just as impressive in his portrayal of the evil, scheming Lester.

Joan Crawford’s portrayal of Myra in this movie is spot on from beginning to end.  Audiences will find themselves riveted by her performance as she journeys from a strong, confident woman to the standard female lead back to her strong, confident self.  Crawford’s years of experience help her shine throughout her performance here, as she remains the consummate professional even in scenes where it would have been so easy for her to ham it up and really chew the scenery so to speak.  This professionalism makes her portrayal of Myra completely believable.  Hers isn’t the only work that should be noted here.  Co-star Jack Palance’s work as Lester Blaine is just as notable.  Palance is likely known to most audiences as the hardened cowboy Curly from City Slickers (1991).  So his portrayal as the greedy Lester Blaine here is a surprising and entertaining change of pace.  He makes audiences love to hate Lester as Lester and Irene plot to kill Myra.  That’s not just because of his plotting but because of the personality that he gives Lester in his portrayal.  Audiences will note that as confident as Lester proves to be, he is also quite lacking in confidence and somewhat maniacal.  That is exhibited in the story’s final act as Lester and Irene’s plan (or technically Myra’s plan, not to give away too much) begins to unravel.  Lester’s reaction (including his emoting) as he chases Myra is the clearest example of that lack of confidence and maniacal nature.  Audiences will be enthralled as they watch Lester so determinedly chase her, to the point that he makes one fatal mistake (which won’t be given away here), leading up to the story’s finale.  Between his work on camera and that of Crawford, the pair shows with full clarity the importance of the cast’s work to the movie’s presentation.  The moments displayed here are just some of the moments in which their work shines.  Audiences will find plenty of other moments in which their work proves so important to the movie’s presentation when they purchase or order the movie’s re-issue for themselves.  Even when all of those moments are combined with the work of the movie’s writing team, they show themselves to be only two of the movie’s key elements.  The bonus commentary that is included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out the movie’s most important elements.

The work of Sudden Fear’s writers and cast members are both important in their own way to the movie’s presentation.  The writers’ work is so important because of the way in which they adapted author Edna Sherry’s novel for the big screen.  It changes some of the material in Sherry’s story, but still ends up presenting a gripping story that will keep viewers on the edge of their collective seats.  Lead stars Joan Crawford and Jack Palance are impressive, too as the movie’s leads.  Their cast mates as entertaining in their own right, too.  While the work of the movie’s cast and writers proves to be in key to the movie’s presentation in the end, they are only a couple of the elements that make the movie such a surprisingly entertaining work.  The bonus commentary that is included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Turner Classic Movies writer and author Jeremy Arnold provides the commentary for the movie in its upcoming re-issue.  It isn’t the first time that he has provided commentary for one of CMG’s classics re-issues.  He also provided commentary for the recent re-issues of Lured and A Scandal in Paris by CMG.  He offers plenty of important information in his commentary here, just as in the company’s previous re-issues.  Some of that important information includes the revelation that the idea to adapt Sherry’s novel to the big screen originally came from Crawford.  The problem with adapting it was that it couldn’t be done until Crawford could get out of her contract with Warner Brothers.  Arnold also reveals through his commentary the decision on the movie’s director even came from Crawford and that Sherry’s novel actually took place entirely in New York.  He explains Sherry’s story never involved San Francisco, a train ride or certain other elements incorporated into the story’s big screen adaptation.  He even gives viewers a little bit of a history lesson on Crawford’s early career in his commentary, revealing Crawford’s birth name and how she gained her screen name of Crawford.  That story in itself will give viewers a little bit of a laugh.  Between these revelations and so many others, Arnold provides viewers with lots of invaluable information throughout the movie.  That mass of material is one more example of the importance of audio commentary in any movie’s home release.  It can take a bad movie and potentially make it worth a second watch, or it can take a good movie (such as this work) and make it great.  Considering that along with the writing team’s adaptation of Sherry’s story and the cast’s work, the movie proves in whole to be a work that movie lovers and classic film buffs alike will enjoy.  It combines to make Sudden Fear one of this year’s top new re-issues.

Cohen Media Group’s upcoming re-issue of Joseph Kaufman Productions’ Sudden Fear is one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  That is evidenced in its story, adapted from Edna Sherry’s original novel.  While the story presents a number of differences from Sherry’s literary work, it is still an entertaining work in its own right.  There are a lot of moviemakers out there today who could take a lesson from the writing team’s approach to this story considering that.  The work of the movie’s cast on camera is just as important to note here, especially that of lead stars Joan Crawford and Jack Palance.  Their work will keep viewers just as engaged and entertained as the story itself.  The bonus commentary included in the movie’s upcoming re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements.  Jeremy Arnold once again offers a great depth of knowledge about and appreciation for the movie, even as robotic as his delivery seems at times.  Each element is important in its own right to the movie’s presentation here.  All things considered, CMG’s upcoming re-issue of Sudden Fear proves itself to be one of this year’s top new DVD/BD re-issues.  It will be available Tuesday, December 13.  More information on this and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://cohenmedia.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cohenmediagroup

 

 

 

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.

Heart Fans Everywhere Will Appreciate The Band’s Latest Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Heart is one of the most respected bands in the music industry’s modern era.  The band has performed around the world many times over the course of its four decade plus life.  It has sold millions of records and has earned countless accolades for its talents and accomplishments.  For all that the band has done and earned throughout its life, there is still likely a lot that it hasn’t yet done.  Earlier this summer, though it knocked one item off of its to do list when it performed live at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall for the first time ever.  The performance was a sold out show, exhibiting clearly the place that Heart still holds within the music community’s upper echelon.  This Friday, December 2, audiences will get to own that performance for themselves on separate DVD and Blu-ray platforms as well as CD and digital platform in the form of Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Heart’s fans will find plenty to appreciate about the recording beginning with its set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance of that set list is just as important to note as the set list.  The concert’s audio mix rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is clearly important in its own right to the concert’s overall presentation.  All things considered, it proves to be a piece that any devout Heart fan will be happy to have in his or her music library regardless of the chosen platform.

Heart’s latest live recording Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a piece that any devout Heart fan will be happy to have in his or her music library.  That is due in part to the concert’s set list.  The seventeen-song set list goes all the way back to the band’s 1976 debut album Dreamboat Annie and even as recent as its latest album Beautiful Broken, which was released this past July.  It also includes a cover of Led Zepplin’s hit song ‘No Quarter’ in its body, and a Lovemongers cover in ‘Sand,’ which was included in Heart’s own 2010 album Red Velvet Car.  Obviously there’s no way that the band could cover every one of its 16 albums so far.  But it still pulls from a healthy number of its albums.  The band’s 2016 album Beautiful Broken is the most heavily represented of the band’s album in this concert with four total songs represented in the set list.  The band’s 1976 debut record Dreamboat Annie comes in second with three songs.  The other albums featured in the concert are: Little Queen (2 songs), Bebe le Strange (2 songs), Heart (2 songs), Bad Animals (1 song) and Fanatic (1 song).  Considering the band pulled from half of its current albums to make the body of this concert is impressive.  It showed the band really put some thought into its set list rather than just tossing a bunch of its songs together.  It wanted to give its audiences and fans the best show possible if only in terms of its set list.  Of course the set list is just one of the elements that makes the show such a welcome addition to fans’ music libraries.  The band’s performance of its set list will entertain audiences just as much as the show’s set list.

The set list that is featured in Heart’s new live recording is by itself a key piece of the concert’s presentation.  It pulls from half of the band’s extensive sixteen-album catalogue.  That is including the band’s holiday album, and no there obviously are no Christmas songs in this set list since the concert was recorded this past June. The show’s set list is just one part of what makes the concert stand out for fans.  The band’s performance of its set list is just as important to note as the set list itself starting with the work of guitarists Nancy Wilson and Craig Bartock.  The pair expertly captures the emotion of every song with their talents. ‘I Jump’ is a prime example of that talent.  The song has its heavier moments, but also has some softer moments.  The attention to the song’s lyrical content makes every moment so powerful just from the pair.  Its handling of the cover of ‘No Quarter’ exhibits that talent just as much.  Stylistically, the song is not the best rendition of the song that has ever been crafted.  But Wilson and Bartock still exhibit such talent here regardless.  In the same vein, the soaring chorus of ‘These Dreams’ shows the duo fully embracing the heartfelt lyrics in that song, too.  Nancy’s sister Ann shows just as much spark even as long as she has been performing. Her vocals are top-notch throughout the concert.  That is exhibited most clearly as she as she soars through the choruses in ‘What About Love’ and in ‘No Quarter.’  She does a respectable job of trying to emulate Robert Plant here.  It doesn’t fully reach Plant’s levels.  But it is still respectable, regardless.  Drummer Ben Smith and bassist Dan Rothchild shine just as much as their fellow musicians throughout the concert, too.  When each musician’s talent is combined with that of his or her band mates, the whole of the collective’s performance shows clearly why the concert was sold out.  That’s because every member of the band gives it his or her all, which will, again, impress any of the band’s fans.  Even as important as this is to note, one can’t talk but so much about it without taking too much time.  There is still at least one more item to discuss in examining this recording.  That item is the recording’s audio mix.

The set list featured in Heart’s new live recording and the band’s performance of that set list are both key to the recording’s presentation.  Both elements will please any devout Heart fan.  They are not its only key elements either.  The concert’s audio mix rounds out its most important elements.  The Royal Albert Hall is a massive venue.  Audiences who have never seen the inside of the building until now will be blown away by its size both in terms of its diameter and its ceiling.  Considering that, handling audio duties for any concert here is a chore to say the least.  The people behind the boards for this concert—both at the venue and in post-production—handled that chore with the utmost expertise.  It is thanks to their efforts that audiences feel like they are right there at the venue with the rest of the audience without feeling like they can’t hear any one part of the performance.  The vocals and instruments are balanced with full precision throughout the performance.  Again, considering the size of the venue, that is its own powerful statement.  It goes without saying that the camera work gives audiences the best seat in the house.  So keeping that in mind, when the camera work and audio engineering are joined with the concert’s set list and the band’s performance of the show’s set list, the whole of this concert proves to be, once again, a work that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.

Heart Live at the Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is a recording that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.  Being that it was the first time that the band ever performed at the legendary venue, it was a successful first time experience.  Its set list pulls from half of the band’s 16-album catalogue.  The band’s performance of its set list, audiences will agree, is just as impressive.  It shows that even as long as Heart has been along, it is at the top of its game.  The combined audio engineering and its camera work round out its most important elements.  When all three elements are joined together, they make this recording a work that is on one level, more proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is still today the leading name in live recordings. On another level, it combines to show that, once more, this recording is a piece that any devout Heart fan will appreciate.  It will be available this Friday, December 2 in stores and online.  More information on this recording is available online now along with all of Heart’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.heart-music.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/officialheart

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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 reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Hell On Wheels’ Final Episodes Are A Fitting Farewell To One Of TV’s Top Serials

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

Courtesy: eOne/AMC

AMC’s hit western drama Hell on Wheels finally reached the end of its tracks this summer (bad pun fully intended) with the end of its fifth season.  The series’ end had been announced well before Season 5 started.  That didn’t make it any less difficult to see such a standout series comes to its end.  For those who didn’t want the series to come to its end, its final episodes were released on DVD and Blu-ray at November’s opening.  There is plenty to say about the series’ final volume of episodes beginning with the work of the show’s writers.  That will be discussed shortly.  The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note here as that of the show’s writers.  The bonus material included in this final volume of episodes rounds out its most important elements.  Each element plays its own clearly important in the collection’s presentation.  All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5 Volume 2 proves to be a fitting final farewell for one of the best serials to come along in recent memory.

Hell on Wheels: Season 5 Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for a show that is one of the best serials to come along in recent memory.  That statement is supported in part through the work of the show’s writers.  Once again the series’ writers managed in these final seven episodes to keep audiences completely engaged as they wrapped up all of the loose ends left from the first half of the season.  Not to give away too much, one of those loose ends might leave some audiences really disliking Cullen even despite everything else.  The writers did a good job of showing the difficulty in Cullen’s decision here.  But it’s still difficult to not dislike Cullen’s choice or to not dislike Cullen himself for that choice.  It is truly a heart wrenching moment.  It’s just one of the loose ends that is wrapped up in these final episodes.  Viewers finally see the end of Thor Gundersen in these final episodes, too.  This is perhaps the one moment in which the writers slipped up.  Every time it seemed like Cullen had finally finished off Thor, he was still alive.  That is until he finally meets his fate.  That moment is brutal in itself to watch.  Getting back on topic, the fact that Thor just kept coming back up until that moment made it seem like the writers weren’t entirely certain how to finish off Thor, so they used the different scenarios to keep the story moving in hopes that audiences wouldn’t mind his multiple deaths.  At the same time, finally presenting Thor’s past served to illustrate why he had become such an angry person.  So that makes up for the issues of Thor’s many deaths up until his final death.  One of the most surprising moments in which the writers’ work shines comes as Cullen is called to testify against Thomas Durant in Washington, D.C.  Cullen’s reaction as he sits before the committee was completely surprising.  It also showed in its own way perhaps another realization by Cullen about who he was in comparison to Durant.  That deeper element makes this moment stand out even more.  It’s just one more moment that exhibits the importance of the series’ writers in these final seven episodes.  There are so many others that could be cited.  But there isn’t enough time or space to cover them all.  Audiences will have to find them for themselves when they purchase or order this final volume of Hell on Wheels’ episodes.  While the work of the series’ writers clearly exhibits its own importance in the collection’s presentation, it is not the only important element to note.  The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as the work of the series’ writers.

The work put in by Hell on Wheels’ writers in its final episodes goes a long way toward making them entertaining and engaging.  That is evident through the moments discussed here and through so many other moments.  Even with this in mind, the writers’ work is not the only work that makes these episodes so entertaining.  The cast’s work interpreting each episode’s script is just as important to note as the writers’ work.  One of the most notable moments that exemplifies the importance of the cast’s work comes as Thomas Durant sees first hand the death of someone very close to him.  He finally saw for himself the impact of his schemes.  It was clear from that moment on that he was not the same man anymore.  Colm Meaney’s handling of the moment made that traumatic moment so powerful.  He didn’t try to ham it up and scream, “nooooo” or anything else.  He merely had to look at what had happened to fully display the impact that the moment had on him.  His narration of the events leading to the moment, so calm yet clearly so hurt, added to the moment’s emotion.  Meaney handled it all with such expertise.  As devious as Durant had been throughout, this one moment actually will lead audiences to feel some level of sympathy for him.  Again, that is thanks to Meaney’s handling of the situation.  He is to be so highly applauded for his work here.  Fellow star Anson Mount is to be just as applauded for his display as he handles his own emotional struggles.  For so long throughout this series, Cullen has proven to be a rock solid figure in terms of his emotions.  But here in these final episodes, that façade finally begins to crack as he is forced to make some very difficult decisions.  One of the most intriguing of those moments comes as he encounters a Native American at a stream.  The pair stares one another down, waiting to see what the other will do.  It is a short moment, but when one looks back, it explains why Cullen told Grant he wasn’t an indian killer.  The defiance in his voice as he makes that clear to Grant makes so much more sense when one considers that moment.  There were no words, only actions and emoting.  Yet it was such a powerful moment.  Both Mount and his co-star shined brightly in that simple moment, showing once more than importance of the cast’s work to these episodes’ presentation. As with the work of the show’s writers, there are so many other moments that could be cited in explaining the importance of the cast’s work.  But that would take far too much time and space.  So, again, audiences will find plenty of other examples when they purchase or order Hell on Wheels: Season 5 Volume 2 for themselves.  Keeping this in mind, the work of the series’ writers and cast are obviously both important to the episodes’ presentation here.  They are just two of the series’ most important elements.  The bonus material included in the episodes’ recent home release is just as important to note in their presentation as the writing and acting behind each episode.

The work of Hell on Wheels’ writers and cast are both pivotal to the series’ continued entertainment in its final episodes.  The writers managed to wrap up the show’s leftover loose ends relatively well and keep audiences entertained and engaged in the process.  The cast did just as much to entertain audiences as evidenced through the work of Colm Meaney and Anson Mount (and their cast mates).  While the work of the series’ cast and writers is undeniably important to the presentation of its final episodes, they are just two of the elements that make this collection’s presentation enjoyable.  The bonus material that is included with the collection is just as important to note as the writing and acting in these episodes.  As with each of the series’ previous installments each episode is coupled with its own “Inside the Episode” audio commentary.  Needless to say, that commentary is not to be missed.  The other bonus material is less extensive.  But it does a good job bringing everything full circle.  “Golden Spike” is the shortest of the bonuses. It last all of perhaps a couple of minutes, if that.  But audiences learn through this little piece that the golden spike was very real.  They also learn that allegedly every telegraph in the country was silenced on the day that the golden spike was hammered into the transcontinental railroad.  That was so that when the message was delivered—by the strike of the hammer—every person in the country would know that was the moment when the spike was being driven.  That is something that generally isn’t taught in history classes at any level, so it is interesting to learn.  “Wrap Up” and “A Look At The Final Episodes” are both interesting in their own way as they offer the cast and crew the chance to comment on the importance of the episodes’ stories as well as working on the final episodes.  Viewers will be most intrigued to learn of Anson Mount’s connection to Cullen as he discusses topics such as Cullen having to kill and bury Elam, who had become such a friend to Cullen.  Robin McLeavy also gets the chance to discuss Eva’s personal growth from the series’ opening to the final episode.  This discussion is just as important to take in because it reminds audiences that while Eva might not have been one of the series’ marquee characters, she was still very integral to its development in her own right.  It’s just one more discussion that exhibits the importance of this collection’s bonus material.  There are so many other discussions both in the shorter features and the episode-length commentaries that add their own depth to the collection.  When they are joined with the discussions noted here, the whole of that bonus material proves to be just as important to the collection as the episodes and their content.  When all three elements are combined, they make clear why Hell on Wheels: Season 5Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for what is one of the best serials to come along in a long time.

Hell on Wheels: Season 5 Volume 2 is a fitting farewell for a series that is one of the best serials to come along in a long time.  Considering how many serials are out there today versus standalone series, that is saying a lot.  From day one, this series has proven to be a serial actually worth watching.  This collection is no different.  It shows just as much why the series is worth the watch whether one is a fan of dramas or a western fan.  That is evidenced primarily through the work of the series’ writers.  Even with perhaps one or two minor slip-ups here and there, the writers succeeded by and large in these final episodes.  The cast was just as entertaining as ever, too.  The bonus material that accompanies the work of the series’ cast and writers rounds everything out.  That is because it brings everything full circle all while keeping audiences just as engaged as ever.  Each element is important in its own right to the collection.  All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5Volume 2 proves, again, to be a fitting farewell to a rare serial that is actually worth watching.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Hell on Wheels: Season 5 Volume 2 is available online now along with more information on Hell on Wheels at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.amc.com/shows/hell-on-wheels

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hellonwheelsamc

 

 

 

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.