Mercury Studios and the Rolling Stones have partnered to release another live recording from the band this summer.
The company, formerly known as Eagle Rock Entertainment, is scheduled to re-issue The Rolling Stones’ 2007 live recording, A Bigger Bang: Live on Copacabana Beach July 9. A trailer for the forthcoming recording is streaming here.
The recording — at least the 18th from the partnership between The Rolling Stones and Mercury Studios — will come less than a year after the release of the company’s then latest live recording from The Rolling Stones, Steel Wheels Live: Atlantic City, New Jersey. It will release on DVD/2CD, SD BD/2CD, 2DVD/2CD, and 3LP platforms. The vinyl pressing will come in separate clear, green, blue, and yellow.
The forthcoming re-issue will present The Rolling Stones’ Copacabana show in whole unlike in its original release. That presentation means the addition of four songs — ‘Tumbling Dice,’ ‘This Place is Empty,’ ‘Oh No, Not You,’ and ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ — not featured in the 2007 recording.
The Deluxe 2DVD/2CD platform will feature a 40-page book and the Copacabana concert on DVD and CD. The set’s second DVD features the band’s 2005 Salt Lake City, Utah concert in whole. Both concerts were part of the band’s tour in support of 2005 album Bigger Bang.
Audiences will get an early taste of the forthcoming recording with the release of a five-song digital EP May 28. The EP will feature the band’s performances of ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ ‘Wild Horses,’ ‘You Got Me Rocking,’ ‘Happy’ and ‘Rough Justice.’ With the exception of the ‘Rough Justice’ performance, the performances here were pulled from the Copacabana show. The ‘Rough Justice’ performance was lifted from the band’s 2005 Salt Lake City concert recording.
Additionally, Mercury Studios and the Rolling Stones will continue to promote the Copacabana show on Record Store Day, June 12 with a special vinyl release. the vinyl release will feature the band’s performance of ‘Rough Justice’ (from the 2005 Salt Lake City show) and ‘Rain Fall Down’ (from the Copacabana concert).
RIO 1. Jumpin’ Jack Flash 2. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It) 3. You Got Me Rocking 4. Tumbling Dice 5. Oh No, Not You Again 6. Wild Horses 7. Rain Fall Down 8. Midnight Rambler 9. Night Time Is the Right Time 10. This Place Is Empty 11. Happy 12. Miss You 13. Rough Justice 14. Get Off My Cloud 15. Honky Tonk Women 16. Sympathy For The Devil 17. Start Me Up 18. Brown Sugar 19. You Can’t Always Get What You Want 20. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
SALT LAKE CITY (Bonus show – deluxe versions only) 1. Start Me Up 2. You Got Me Rocking 3. She’s So Cold 4. Tumbling Dice 5. Rain Fall Down 6. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (but I Like It) 7. Wild Horses 8. All Down the Line 9. Night Time Is the Right Time 10. Slipping Away 11. Infamy 12. Miss You 13. Rough Justice 14. Get Off of My Cloud 15. Honky Tonk Women 16. Sympathy for the Devil 17. Brown Sugar 18. Jumpin’ Jack Flash 19. You Can’t Always Get What You Want 20. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
More information on Steel Wheels Live is available along with all of its latest news at:
More than seven years after the release of its then latest album, Kaleidoscope, prog rock super group Transatlantic returned this year with its fifth album, The Absolute Universe. The then long-awaited album has since proven to be quite the interesting presentation from the band – Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, ex-Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), Neal Morse (ex-Spock’s Beard, The Neal Morse Band, Yellow Matter Custard), and Pete Trewavas (Marillion). One key point of interest in this latest offering from Transatlantic is its very presentation. This will be discussed shortly. The arrangements that are featured throughout the expansive record add their own level of interest to the record. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make The Absolute Universe a unique new addition to this year’s field of new rock albums.
Transatlantic’s recently released fifth album, The Absolute Universe is a presentation that its fans and those of the band’s members will agree is itself absolutely interesting. That is proven in part through the album’s presentation. The presentation in question is that of a concept record. The catch here is that while the expansive recording is a concept record, it is not the typical presentation that audiences expecting a story-based concept album will expect. Rather, it is based on one, central theme, according to Portnoy. Portnoy said in a recent interview of the concept, “The storyline is about the struggles facing everyone in society today.” Stolt expanded on Portnoy’s comments, stressing, “We didn’t start out with the idea of this being conceptual. The way things work with us is that we have a load of ideas, and these are developed spontaneously when we meet up. Everything happens in the moment.” So essentially what audiences get in this album is a concept record that technically is concept in the loosest sense of the word possible. That aside, the fact that the songs’ lyrical themes are so accessible and do in fact work with the noted overarching theme here, it all combines to make the record unique in this aspect. Case in point is ‘Swing High, Swing Low.’ This song is clearly about the myriad emotional ups and downs that a person experiences daily in life. ‘The World We Used To Know’ is just as clear. It is a person commenting on the state of the world today. This is something that every generation does. To that point, it is just one more way in which the album’s overall presentation generates a certain engagement and entertainment and just the tip of that proverbial iceberg. The arrangements that are featured throughout the album add their own layer of interest to this presentation.
The musical arrangements that are featured throughout The Absolute Universe are of interest because of the various influences that are evident throughout. From one song to the next, the songs show influence not only of the band members’ own work past and present, but also evidence of vintage prog influence. Case in point is ‘Heart Like a Whirlwind.’ The layered keyboard line immediately lends itself to comparisons to works from Emerson, Lake & Palmer as well as hints of The Flower Kings. At the same time, audiences can also clearly hear a Spock’s Beard influence here when the keyboards are joined with the guitars and vocal harmonies. On another level, the influence of The Neal Morse Band is just as evident. The addition of the classical music tributes peppered throughout the album makes for even more interest here. One can ever argue that there are hints of influence from Transatlantic itself at other points here. Simply put, the arrangements featured here are everything that audiences have come to expect from this band. Taking this into consideration along with the album’s unique presentation, the album gains even more interest. It sill is not the last of the album’s most important elements. The album’s production puts the final touch to its presentation.
The production that went into The Absolute Universe is important to examine because of its role in the album’s general effect. As noted, there are a lot of influences exhibited within each song. What’s more, there is a lot going on in each arrangement in terms of items, such as instrumentation, dynamics, and even vocals. The production in each song pays off because it takes all of that into account. The result is that each song evokes a wide range of emotions and thoughts from listeners as they remain engaged and entertained in each composition. Considering the impact of the record’s production, its featured arrangements, and its very approach, the whole presents itself as a truly unique new offering that any prog-rock fan and Transatlantic fan will find interesting.
Transatlantic’s latest album, The Absolute Universe is a presentation that will appeal to any prog-rock fan as well as those of the band. That is proven in part through the band’s approach to the album. The approach taken to the album is that of a concept record that defies the standard definition of a concept album. Rather than being story-based, it is a concept album that instead centers on one overarching theme. The musical arrangements that are featured throughout the album add their own interest to the album. That is because of the diversity that they show in regards to their influences. There are hints of vintage prog influence as well as the influence of the band’s own work and that of the band members’ own projects. The production of those arrangements rounds out the most important of the album’s elements, as it brings everything together. The production ensures that everything is balanced in each song, thus evoking the fullest emotional response and impact. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album a work that prog-rock and Transatlantic fans alike will agree was worth the wait. The Absolute Universe is available now.
More information on Transatlantic’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
The United States Air Force Band’s premiere jazz organization, the Airmen of Note, have been entertaining audiences nationwide for more than 70 years with their performances. Part of the group’s effort to entertain audiences is its long-running Jazz Heritage Series. Now in its 31st year, the series, the series is one of so many live shows negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, the organization was able to perform live last year before the pandemic forced all live entertainment to halt. That performance, held in April 2020 in Washington, D.C., was recorded for the group’s annual Jazz Heritage Series release, and was released last month, to media outlets nationwide in the form of the 2021 Jazz Heritage Series. The recording, which is not available for sale, proves itself enjoyable from start to end in part through its featured performances. They will be discussed shortly. The recording’s production adds its own touch to its presentation and will be addressed a little later. The sequencing of the songs in this presentation rounds out its most important elements. When it is considered alongside the record’s other noted items, the whole makes this recording another welcome addition to the Airmen of Note’s ongoing Jazz Heritage Series recordings.
The USAF Band Airmen of Note’s 2021 edition of its Jazz Heritage Series recordings is a presentation that any jazz aficionado will enjoy. That is proven in part through its featured performances. The performances, which are split into two separate programs, feature guest appearances by special guest musicians, jazz guitarist Peter Bernstein and saxophonist Chris Potter. A third musician, pianist/singer Diane Schuur was going to take part in the 2020 performance, but according to information provided about the concert, COVID-19 restrictions prevented her from taking part in the 2020 concert. Potter and Bernstein are each established musicians, with extensive catalogs of their own. Each brought a portion of his catalog to perform along with the Airmen of Note. Potter and company’s performance of ‘Exclamation’ – which is featured in Potter’s 2019 album, Circuits – is just one example of how the featured songs and performances prove their importance. The song is a frenetic composition to say the very least. Its performance here takes a song that was already interesting enough on record and improves on it even more. Potter’s own staccato playing here, alongside the heavy low-end from the tuba and TSgt. Chris Ziemba’s subtle performance on keyboard adds even more to the overall impact here. The control that all involved display here is incredible to say the least. That is especially the case as the eight-minute-plus opus reaches its climax in its closing bars. That Potter and his fellow musicians are able to maintain control and not step all over each other in all of the frenetic energy is a statement to the focus displayed by each individual. Considering that an exclamation is defined as a strong statement of sorts, one can only imagine this is what an exclamation would sound like if it was a musical work. It is just one example of what makes the recording’s songs and related performances so important to its presentation. ‘Jive Coffee’ and its related performance is another example of that importance.
‘Jive Coffee,’ originally featured in Bernstein’s 1994 album Signs of Life is a much more relaxed tune in comparison to Potter’s ‘Exclamation.’ That is the case even with the big band approach here. The original studio rendition does have a big band backing. However, the composition has something more of a kick in this presentation. There is more energy in other words. MSgt. Tedd Baker’s work on the tenor sax shines here, especially when he gets his time leading the group. MSgt. David McDonald meanwhile adds just the right amount of flash and flare with the cymbal crashes. At the same time, his time keeping throughout the song is solid, even as he adds in his own fills here and there. His work, that of Baker, Bernstein and all others here make the performance in whole its own unique presentation as well as the song. It is yet another example of what makes this latest Jazz Heritage Series performance so enjoyable. The group’s performance of ‘The Source’ is one more example of what makes this feature’s songs and performances stand out.
Originally featured in Potter’s 2001 album, Gratitude, this song is a light, modern jazz composition that finds Potter in the lead. It is a much more controlled work than ‘Exclamation,’ but still boasts its own energy. Some of Potter’s runs in this song could be easily equated to so much free jazz. The addition of the subtle piano line and the way in which the song builds as it progresses makes it even more enjoyable. Between this song and performance, the others examined here and the others that flesh out the presentation, the songs and performances overall prove their importance. They are just a portion of what makes this recording so enjoyable. The recording’s production adds its own level of appeal to the presentation.
The production of the 2021 Jazz Heritage Series recording is important to note because of the fact that it is a live recording. The production proved successful as it balanced expertly, all of the musicians’ parts. Considering the size and openness of the concert hall, the sound was certain to go everywhere, but thanks to wise placement of microphone and balance in the sound level, audiences are treated to a concert experience that gives them the best seat in the house. That is because even with the balance, audiences still get just enough of the airy sound from the performers as well as in the audience’s applause. Again, all of that in mind, listeners get the best seat in the house. The impact of the production really fully immerses listeners into the concert, making for even more appeal. The songs’ sequencing puts the final touch to the presentation.
The sequencing of the songs and performances is important to note because it presents the April 2020 concert exactly as it was presented to the audiences who attended the concert. The show was divided into two separate sets, as previously noted. So audiences who get their hands on this record will get the same concert experience. What’s more, the balance in the songs’ energies is balanced expertly here. From song to song and even within the songs, the energies rise and fall just enough throughout to keep things interesting. The result is that this recording will appeal to audiences just as much for its aesthetic aspect as for its content. Keeping that in mind, the combination of the sequencing, the content, and its production makes this presentation a completely engaging and entertaining recording.
The United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note’s latest entry in its Jazz Heritage Series is another welcome addition to that series of releases. That is due in part to the feature’s songs and their performances. The songs are mostly originals originally recorded by the featured guest musicians in this concert. The performances of those songs are themselves fully engaging and entertaining. The production that went into the concert recording adds its own appeal. It leaves audiences truly feel as if they are there at the concert in person. The recording’s sequencing builds on the experience ensured through the recording’s production. It presents the concert from beginning to end as it was presented last April. What’s more, it balances the energy in each set expertly from beginning to end. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, the recording proves itself deserving of a spot among the best of this year’s top new live CDs. More information on the 2021 Jazz Heritage Series recording is available along with all of the latest news from the USAF Band and Airmen of Note at:
Independent singer-songwriter Bernice Marsala debuted her latest single last month.
Marsala debuted her new single, ‘Down‘ April 9. The song features a simple, pop-style musical arrangement that will appeal to fans of works from acts, such as Adele, Ingrid Michaelson, and and Smith & Thell.
Marsala talked about the song’s musical arrangement in a prepared statement.
“I wanted to orchestrate the effect of falling through this sort of “wall” of brass and saxophone, and I wrote the bassline in the chorus to express the description of spinning,” she said. “Usually my primary focus is my lyrics, but with this song I really felt the music pulling me into a certain direction.”
No information was provided as to the lyrical theme featured in Marsala’s new single. However, a close listen leaves listeners to infer that the song’s theme is a reference to a troubled personal relationship of some sort, whether plutonic or romantic.
More information on Marsala’s new single is available along with her latest news at:
Nonpoint returned this week with its latest single.
The band premiered its new single, ‘Ruthless‘ Wednesday. The song is the band’s first new music since the release of its 2018 album, X. The song is the first single from the band’s forthcoming as-yet-untitled EP, which will see its release this year through the band’s newly formed independent label, 361 Degrees Records. Additionally, Nonpoint has partnered with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) to promote the song and the wrestling company.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Ruthless’ is another heavy, guitar-driven work from Nonpoint. The edge in the arrangement and its fire are collectively everything that audiences have come to expect from the band throughout its life.
The lyrical theme featured in ‘Ruthless’ is a statement of self-determination and overcoming great odds, which plays directly into the band’s recent decision to launch its own label.
Front man Elias Soriano addressed the song’s lyrical theme in a prepared statement.
“Ruthless is more than just a song,” said Soriano. “It’s a story with attitude and purpose. This is more than just an anthem, it’s heart pounding, high octane jet fuel and OUR MOST IRRESPONSIBLE MUSIC EVER”
Additionally, the band recently released a prepared statement discussing the launch of its new label.
“We would like to thank everyone for the support in our announcement of starting our own label!,” the statement reads. “The messages we have received have been really amazing, inspiring, and we’re so grateful to know we have all of your support. Over the past year, we filmed a documentary-series so we could show you our journey during this important step in our careers and to take you behind the scenes as we write new music.”
Nonpoint launched 361 Degrees Records LLC in January. The official announcement of the label’s launch was made last month through a video from the band. That video is available to view here. The band followed up that video with a “docu-series” that is streaming through the band’s official YouTube channel and website.
More information on that tour, the band’s new album and more is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:
Family music entertainer and educator Little Miss Ann is scheduled to release her latest album Friday. The album, 28 Days, is a 34-minute presentation that will appeal to audiences of any age. That is due in part to the album’s varied musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The album’s equally diverse lyrical themes add their own interest to its presentation and will be discussed a little later. The sequencing of the album’s collective content rounds out the album’s most notable elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the record’s whole. All things considered, they make the album a work that longtime and new audiences alike will enjoy.
28 Days, the latest album from family music entertainer and educator Little Miss Ann (a.k.a. Ann Torralba) is a presentation that audiences of all ages will find moderately appealing. Additionally, it is a presentation that Torralba’s established and new audience base will find appealing. That is due in part to the musical arrangements that are featured throughout the album’s 11-song body. The whole thing opens with a light ukulele-based work in ‘We Go Together Very Well’ before dramatically changing course in the Buffalo Springfield-esque arrangement featured in ‘Marshmallow Man.’ ‘Good Luck,’ which follows that tune, comes across as a sea shanty style composition, changing things up yet again. The stylistic changes do not stop there, either. ‘Going Down the Road’ is a full-on country/bluegrass style composition. The album’s title track, takes listeners back to that ukulele-based sound while also adding the slightest touch of soul to the mix to keep things interesting. Torralba goes the neo-folk route from there in ‘Safe at Home.’ From that point on, the changes in the album’s arrangements continue to change from one to the next, generating plenty of engagement and entertainment, again, for a wide range of audiences. The wide range of musical styles featured throughout 28 Days makes for a positive starting point for the album and is only a portion of what audiences will appreciate. The equally diverse lyrical themes featured throughout the album are important in their own way to the record’s presentation.
The lyrical themes featured throughout 28 Days cover their own wide range from one to the next. ‘Tuba’ for instance, is essentially a song that teaches a very basic lesson about some of the musicians who make up a band/orchestra. As the title infers, the song opens by introducing listeners to the tuba and how it sounds. From there, the drummer/percussionist and flautist are introduced before the attention turns to pianist and then the conductor. The song is a wonderful way to start educating pre-school and kindergarten-age children to the world of music. This should come as no surprise considering that Torralba’s day job is that of an educator.
‘Tuba’ is just one example of the diversity exhibited in this album’s lyrical content. ‘Marshmallow Man,’ which features a guest appearance from Torralba’s fellow family music entertainer, Suzie Shelton, is an even simpler song that celebrates the joy of making s’mores over a campfire. Considering that spring is here, temperatures are rising, and people are making their way to the nation’s campgrounds, the song is a fitting addition to this record. Torralba and Shelton personify marshmallows as they sing about that joy of making the spring/summer favorite treat. It is just one more example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes, and is fun in its own way, too.
‘Stars on the Island,’ which closes out the album and features a guest appearance by Mil’s Trills, is yet another example of the variety in the album’s lyrical content. This song is apparently a seasonal work of sorts that finds Torralba singing how Christmas is celebrated in Torralba’s home nation of the Philippines. The song finds Torralba singing about gathering fish for celebrations across the nation, composed of dozens of islands and people on one side of the world looking up at the stars realizing that things are different from where he/she resides. That theme, and the song’s light musical arrangement pair to make the song yet another important way in which the album shows its strengths. When this song’s lyrical theme, the others noted here and the rest of its themes are considered together, the whole shows clearly, the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When that engaging, entertaining, and diverse lyrical content is considered along with the album’s equally diverse musical content, the two sides join to give listeners even more to appreciate from this album. Even with this in mind, the album’s content is only a portion of what makes 28 Days appealing. The sequencing of the album’s content rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of 28 Days’ content is important because it clearly takes the diversity in the noted content into full consideration in its execution. From one song to the next, neither the record’s musical nor its lyrical content stays the same or even for too long. What’s more, the album’s sequencing balances the songs’ energies just as well. The mid-tempo feeling of songs, such as ‘We Go Together Very Well’ and ‘Marshmallow Man’ are offset well through the more relaxed feeling of ‘Good Luck’ to open the album. In the same vein, ‘Safe at Home,’ another of the album’s more relaxed works, serves as another good way to break things up again as the album progresses. The same can be said of the African vibe of ‘Mojo’ established through the use of the sleigh bells and marimba. Simply put, the songs’ energies rise and fall at just the right frequency throughout the album, ensuring listeners’ engagement in yet another way. When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s content in general, the whole of these elements makes clear why this latest (fourth) album from Little Miss Ann another positive new offering.
Little Miss Ann’s latest album, 28 Days (her fourth album) is a presentation that will appeal equally to her established and new audiences will appreciate. That is due in part to the album’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements vary in style from one to the next and will appeal to an even wider range of listeners because they are not just kindie-pop and pre-K style compositions. The album’s lyrical content is just as diverse as its musical arrangements, covering topics from the silly to the serious from one to the next. The sequencing of the album’s content puts the finishing touch to its presentation. It ensures the content’s variety keeps listeners engaged and entertained through just as much as the energy in the arrangements. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, the noted elements make 28 Days a work that will appeal to audiences for 28 days and then some. The album is scheduled for release Friday through Marsha Marsha Records. More information on 28 Days is available along with all of Little Miss Ann’s latest news at:
More than 25 years after it released its debut album Highway Fun, Latin-jazz collective Lunar Octet will return this week with only its second-ever album. Convergence is scheduled for release Friday through Summit Records. The 14-song album is a presentation that any fan of the noted genre will enjoy. That is proven in no small part through the record’s featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The sequencing thereof adds its own appeal to the listening experience here. It will be examined a little later. The album’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here is key in its own way to the overall listening experience with Lunar Octet’s new album. All things considered, they make the album a work that any fan of Afro-Latin jazz will find fully enjoyable.
Lunar Octet’s first new album in more than a quarter of a century is a presentation that the group’s established audience base will find just as appealing as those who are new to the group and its work. That is proven in large part through the album’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are diverse in their sound and stylistic approach throughout the record. Case in point is the arrangement featured in ‘Mambossa.’ This arrangement blends the group’s familiar Afro-Latin jazz leanings and blends that with a more guitar-driven style a la Carlos Santana to make it a unique composition in its own right. What is so interesting is here the fully noticeable evolution of the evolution. It starts off softly with the pairing of the saxophone line, bass, percussion/drums, and subtle guitar. As the song progresses, more horns are added to the mix, giving the arrangement more energy. Approximately three minutes in, the Carlos Santa influence comes into the mix, to build on the arrangement even more. The gradual growth and transitions exhibited throughout the song are so fluid and natural. It makes for so much enjoyment throughout the song.
The variety within ‘Mambossa’ is just one example of what makes the album’s musical arrangements so crucial to its presentation. ‘Samba Diabolico’ is another example of the role of the album’s musical content. The very first thing that comes to mind when one hears or reads the word “Samba” is a typical two-four dance tune complete with agogo bell, horns, and Afro-Latin percussion. This arrangement is anything but. There is a trumpet line here, and even a saxophone. There is even some subtle Afro-Latin percussion added into the mix, but it is not the typical samba work that conjures thoughts of Rio and Carnival. Rather, the incorporation of the bass line and piano to the mix gives the arrangement here more the feel and sound of something that one might expect to hear playing at a café in Cuba than the boisterous sounds most commonly associated with the samba.
‘Olduvai Gorge’ is another example of the important role that this album’s musical content plays in its presentation. The Carlos Santana style influence is present once more here as it opens the five-and-a-half-minute composition. The seamless fashion in which that element and the composition’s more pure Latin influences move back and forth will impress any listener. What’s more, the stability in the song’s energy as the composition progresses is just as engaging and entertaining. When this arrangement, the others noted here and the rest of the album’s arrangements are considered together, the importance of the album’s musical arrangements in whole becomes clear. That collective content is just part of what makes the album successful. The sequencing of the album’s musical content builds on the appeal of the arrangements and makes the album even more engaging and entertainment.
Audiences will find through a close listen to the record that its arrangements were sequenced in a fashion that keeps the album’s relatively stable throughout, what with its mostly mid-tempo compositions. There are however, some break points of sorts thrown in to change things up and keep listeners entertained and engaged. They come in the form of ‘Oye’ (the shortest of the record’s songs, it clocks in at only 47 seconds), and the even more relaxed ‘Until I Find The Words.’ Other than those moments, the rest of the album keeps its energy moving fluidly from one song to the next. The stability in the energy delivered through the arrangements also leads to stable pacing from beginning to end. The result of all of this is that audiences will find enjoyment from this album for its content and the general effect of that content. Even as much as the content and its effect does for the album, it still is not the last of the album’s most important elements. The booklet that accompanies the album rounds out its most important elements.
The booklet that is featured in Lunar Octet’s new album is important to examine because of the information that is presented in its liner notes. The booklet’s liner notes start by giving a brief overview of the band’s history before pointing out the work that the band members put in to unite and work together. From there, the notes — penned by Michael G. Nastos – briefly state that the songs featured in the album are both new and old works that the band members have developed over the years. That note, although brief, adds to an appreciation for the album because it shows that this is not just something that the band members tossed together. Rather it is a presentation that has grown and evolved over time while the band members did their own thing. Speaking of that, the history section of the liner notes points out clearly that the band’s extended hiatus was fully on positive terms and that there was no animosity at all among the musicians. That adds even more appreciation for the record. As if everything noted is not enough, the extensive biographies of each of the group’s members adds its on share of interest. When everything noted here is considered along with the album’s musical content and its sequencing, the result is a presentation that any Afro-Latin jazz fan will enjoy.
Lunar Octet’s first new album in more than 25 years (and only its second album overall) is a presentation that will impress jazz and Afro-Latin jazz fans alike. Additionally, it will impress audiences who have waited and wondered for so many years if this group would ever release a new record. The appeal comes in large part through the album’s featured songs. As the liner notes point out, the songs are a combination of older material that the band crafted years ago and some more recent material. It is also diverse in terms of its sound and stylistic approaches. That in itself makes for reason enough to listen to this record. The songs’ sequencing does its own share to ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment. That is due to the stability in the songs’ energies and the constant change in the sounds and stylistic approaches to the works. The record’s booklet rounds out its most important elements, adding just enough background to the project to make the listening experience that full. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Convergence. All things considered, they make the album a presentation that audiences in general will agree was well worth the wait. Convergence is scheduled for release Friday through Summit Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Lunar Octet’s latest news at:
Prog-metal outfit Vokonis has quietly made quite the name for itself in the past few years or so with its existing trio of records. That name will grow in notoriety Friday when it releases its fourth album, Odyssey. The six song record is a work that definitely holds its own against its metal and prog-metal counterparts, both more well-known and lesser. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements adds to the record’s success. It will be discussed a little later. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the 40-minute album a must hear for any metal purist.
Vokonis’ forthcoming fourth album Odyssey is a unique addition to this year’s crop of new independent and hard rock/metal albums. It is a record that provided the proper support, is certain to continue building the band’s name within the noted genres. That is proven in part through the album’s featured musical arrangements. Throughout the course of the album’s 40-minute run time, it incorporates a variety of influences in each arrangement to make its whole. ‘Rebellion,’ the album’s opener for instance, opens with a guitar riff that would fit easily into any active rock radio programmer’s playlist. As the vocals come into play, the guttural screams from front man Simon Ohlsson lend themselves to comparison to those of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein. The more melodic, clean vocals from Ohlsson’s band mates – Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), Peter Ottosson (drums, percussion), and Per Wiberg (keyboards) – make for more of a Tool-esque sound. The two stylistic approaches are vastly different, but used against one another, somehow manage to work. The full-on wall of sound approach that the band uses here is also comparable to that of Crowbar. It all sounds very raucous, but at the same time controlled in its chaotic approach. It is just one example of how the album’s musical content plays into its appeal.
On a completely different note, the musical arrangement that is presented in the late entry ‘Hollow Waters’ lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Leprous, as well as to those of Crowbar. The Leprous comparison comes in the choruses with their full yet somewhat ethereal sound. It makes for a welcome change of pace to ensure listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment. As with ‘Rebellion,’ this song’s arrangement is just one more example of what make the album’s musical content so noteworthy. ‘Blackened Wings,’ the album’s lead single, is yet another example of how the power and variety in the album’s musical content makes it successful.
‘Blackened Wings’ is just as busy and loud as any of the album’s other arrangements. Yet even in that controlled chaos, there is something so engaging. The guttural death/black metal style screams set alongside the song’s death metal guitars lend themselves to comparisons to works from Between the Buried and Me. The contrast of that sound to the cleaner, heavy, sludge metal style approach to the rest of the song makes for even more interest here. The expert balance of those distinctly differing styles speaks highly of the production that went into the album. This aspect will be discussed later. Staying on the topic at hand, this song’s arrangement does just as much as those already examined and the rest of the album’s works, to show why the diverse influences and power in the arrangements make them so important to the album. The whole of the album’s musical arrangements, including the clear Dream Theater influence exhibited in ‘Azure,’ creates a solid foundation for Odyssey. Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s intense musical content.
The lyrical themes that are presented throughout Odyssey will make for just as much engagement as the musical arrangements that they join. Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Hollow Waters.’ The song’s lyrical content seems rather nihilistic on the surface, what with the mentions of the “Circle of sorrow/Closing in on you” and everything bad going on in the world.” However, the song’s lyrical theme ultimately is one of hope. This is pointed out in the song’s second verse, which states, “Cities will fall/Empires crumble/Hope can prevail/We will follow/Forests will burn/Under the scourge/Lead us again through these faraway lands.” The message of hope is raised again in the song’s third verse, which finds Ohlsson singing, “Wrath of the scorned/Born of fire/Tainted fury leads to nothing/Let it all pass/Open yourself/Lead us away through these faraway lands.” That positive message is delivered once more in the song’s final verse, stating, “The everlasting light/Is the flame of eternity.” These notes and the rest of the song’s lyrical content join to form a unique approach to a welcome theme. When that theme joins with the song’s already noted equally unique musical arrangement, it shows in whole why the album in whole is so powerful.
The lyrical content featured in the album’s title track is another example of what makes it such a strong new offering from Vokonis. This song’s lyrical content seems (at least in the ears and mind of this critic) to deliver a message of living life and facing life’s challenges. Again, this is only this critic’s interpretation. The inference is made as Ohlsson sings about overcoming “the final step” and the “Beacon of tranquility” shining “upon us all/Light of serenity/Essence of the divine.” It’s one more unique lyrical presentation from Vokonis on its latest outing that is certain to keep any listener engaged. When this original presentation is considered along with the other content examined here and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of said content. When the album’s collective lyrical content pairs with the record’s equally powerful musical arrangements, that body makes for even more engagement and entertainment. Even with that in mind, it is only a portion of what make the album such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.
As was noted earlier, the songs featured throughout Odyssey each utilize a powerful wall of sound style approach, as well as other elements and influences. Considering how much goes on throughout the album, those behind the glass had to pay exceptional attention to every minute detail. Luckily, that painstaking attention to detail paid off from beginning to end. The result is a record that even being so active and full, completely engages and entertains. Keeping all of this in mind, the album proves to be a surprisingly impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.
Vokonis’ forthcoming album Odyssey is a strong new presentation from the already established prog-metal outfit from Sweden. It is a work that serves as a strong starting point for those audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog and an equally new offering for the band’s established fan base. That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements exhibit a wide range of influences, not just prog-metal. That applies within each song and from one to the next. The lyrical content featured throughout the album adds to its interest. It is presented in truly unique fashion even as it touches on what seem to be some familiar topics. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements. It ensures that even as busy as each song is, the record’s arrangements do not become muddied and worn down in themselves. The result of the work put in through the album’s production is an album that will appeal aesthetically just as much as for its content. It all makes the album a musical odyssey that any metal purist will be glad he or she took. More information on Odyssey is available along with all of Vokonis’ latest news at:
If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Everyone knows that adage. It is at the center of Tumi Productions’ 2020 movie, Mambo Man. The independent Cuban flick originally premiered in June 2020 at the Crownwood International Film Festival in India and made its way to American theaters only months later in September. That release was followed by a DVD release Feb. 16 through Corinth Films. The movie, which runs less than 90 minutes, is worth watching at least once. That is due in part to its story, which will be discussed shortly. The movie’s cinematography does its own part to make the presentation worth watching, too. It will be discussed a little later. The movie’s soundtrack rounds out its most important elements. When it is considered along with the movie’s story and cinematography, the whole makes Mambo Man a presentation that holds its own against other statement films.
Tumi Productions and Corinth Films’ presentation of Mambo Man is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new independent movies. It is a work that is worth watching at least once. That is due in part to its story. The story in question focuses on JC (Hector Noas – El Comisario, Corazon Azul, Terre Indigo), a farmer, promoter and all around hustler who has driven his family to the brink of financial ruin with his spending habits. Even with the success of his pig farm and promoting, JC has spent much of his time in recent years living beyond his means. The story opens with that behavior having caught up with him. The thing is that the extent of his financial mismanagement is not fully revealed until he tells his wife about a scheme presented to him by his old friend Roberto (David Parez). The scheme involves JC buying some jewelry from a woman who wants to allegedly raise money to join her family in the United States. JC’s wife reveals to audiences in the discussion with him, that the majority of his ventures have failed and that if his plan in this case fails, it means complete bankruptcy for the family and having to sell their house. All of this sounds like it could be used for a comedy. As a matter of fact it has been used for a comical take on the familiar theme. In this case though, the featured story is much heavier emotionally. This is where the movie becomes somewhat difficult to watch. Rather than taking a light hearted approach, the writing team of Mo Fini and Paul Morris has crafted a story that leaves viewers feeling so uncomfortable throughout. Even when the story reaches its bittersweet ending (no, the ending will not be spoiled here), it tugs at viewers’ heartstrings. The result of all of this is that viewers will find that they have to really be in the right mindset in order to really enjoy the story. That means it is not one of those stories that audiences will find themselves willingly watching any time. Of course that is not to say that the movie is a failure. It just is not a presentation that viewers will find themselves watching a lot.
While the story featured in Mambo Man is something of a mixed bag in terms of its presentation, the movie’s cinematography works well to make up for the story’s shortcoming. According to information provided through IMDB, Mambo Man was filmed entirely on site at locations throughout Cuba. This means that the lush countryside locations and the busy city streets of Santiago de Cub and Bayamo are in fact those locations. The vast differences in the settings and the rich colors and general appearance of each location make for so much visual engagement and entertainment. What’s more, the angles and simple shot styles bring out the best of those settings. Case in point is the roadside café at which JC stops late in the story. . The almost primitive roadside café in one shot – which is essentially a series of thatch huts – looks so wonderful thanks to the angles and lighting. On another hand, the streets of Santiago de Cub are so rich in their color, from the streets themselves to the colors of the store fronts and houses. It is all captured and highlighted so well through the work of those behind the lenses. If for no other reason than the ability of those behind the cameras to so effectively capture the natural beauty of Cuba, viewers will want to watch this movie. Just as enjoyable to take in throughout the movie is its soundtrack.
The soundtrack to Mambo Man is important to address because of the aesthetic enjoyment that it additionally brings to the movie’s presentation. Music from the likes of Afro-Cuban All-Stars, Arturo Jorge, and Candido Fabre highlights the music that has become synonymous with the island nation throughout its history. The catchy rhythms of the sambas and jazz-tinged sounds of other songs work with the soundtrack’s other sounds, and the movie’s wonderful cinematography to even more bring the movie to life. When those aesthetic elements are joined with the story, whose basis is itself believable enough, the movie in whole proves itself worth watching at least once.
Tumi Productions and Corinth Films’ presentation of Mambo Man is an intriguing work that drama fans will find worth watching at least once. That is due in part to its story. The story, while very heavy in the manner in which it is presented, presents a matter that can and does happen in reality. That believability makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment. The cinematography exhibited in Mambo Man stands out throughout the story. The use of certain angles, filters, and lighting does so well to bring to life, the sights and sounds of Cuba. Just as the cinematography makes the viewing experience more enjoyable in this case, so does the movie’s soundtrack. This element presents some of the modern and traditional music of Cuba in one presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation. All things considered, they make Mambo Man proves itself to be not an easy movie to watch, but still worth watching at least once. It is available now.
More information on this and other titles from Corinth Films is available along with the studio’s latest news at:
Veteran thrash metal outfit Artillery returns Friday with its latest album, X. The title is a representation of the album being its tenth full-length studio recording. Coming more than two years after the band released its ninth album, The Face of Fear, the band’s latest album will appeal to any of the group’s established audiences. It will also appeal to any thrash metal aficionado. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical themes play just as much into its appeal and will be discussed a little later. The album’s production rounds out its most important elements. It brings everything together and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted here plays its own important part to the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make X a strong statement about Artillery ten albums and almost four decades into its life.
Artillery has seen a number of highs and lows over the course of its nearly 40 year life. From the breakups and reunions, to the new albums and lineups, this veteran thrash metal act has been there and done that. Now with its aptly-titled 10th album, X, the band shows that it still has more highs to reach. That is proven in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are everything that listeners have come to expect from the band. Right from the album’s outset, the guitar riffs offer audiences influences of Slayer and Judas Priest in one in ‘The Devil’s Symphoony.’ The shredding solos and the powerhouse verses pair with the equally solid time keeping, bass, and equally powerful vocals (including the choruses) to make the song a strong, familiar approach that will keep listeners engaged and entertained.
The arrangement featured in ‘Force of Indifference,’ a late entry to the album, does just as much to show the power of the record’s musical arrangements. As with the album’s opener, this song boasts a clear Slayer influence alongside a more melodic power metal approach. The key to remember here is that while the noted influences are there, the song is not just a rehashing of ‘The Devil’s Symphony’ or any of the works that are presented between the two works. It is its own intense thrash composition that boasts its own power. Yes, the variances are subtle, but a close listen reveals them and in turn makes for plenty of appreciation for the song in whole.
‘Mors Ontologica,’ an even later entry to the album, is one more example of the importance of the album’s musical arrangements. The thrash element is just as prevalent here as in any of the album’s songs. In the case of this song though, the variance is more audible. In the case of this song, the Slayer influence is replaced more by a vintage Metallica/Megadeth influence alongside the band’s equally prevalent power metal stylistic approach. The result of the blending here is another unique work that will engage and entertain the band’s fans just as much as thrash fans in general. When this arrangement, the others examined here and the rest of the album’s musical content is considered together, the whole of the record’s musical side leaves no doubt as to its role in the album’s success. Even with all that the album’s musical arrangements do to keep the record appealing, they are only a part of what will engage and entertain the noted audiences. The record’s lyrical content adds its share of interest to its presentation.
Lyrically speaking, X touches on a variety of topics. From a social topic, such as that presented in ‘In Your Mind, to concerns about charitable giving in ‘Beggars in Black Suits,’ to religious fanaticism with Satanism in ‘The Devil’s Symphony,’ the album proves to cover a lot of ground. Front man Michael Bastholm said of ‘In Your Mind,’ that the song is “about the thoughts you have when you feel that the other person has an awfully specific assumption of you, which you know is wrong.” Everybody has been in this position at least once, meaning this message is accessible. The statement is made clear right from the song’s outset as Bastholm sings, “I guess it all makes sense/There is every proof and evidence/That all you think is true/That all is clear between me – me and you.” The cynicism and frustration which Bastholm noted in his statement is made fully clear here. Its clarity is increased in the song’s second verse, which finds Bastholm’s subject singing, “There is a need to be sure/You think there is a real good cure/To control under lock and key/To realize what makes – makes me, me.” The song’s third and fourth verses add even more to the discussion as they continue in similar fashion. All things considered, the song proves to be a work that will resonate with most listeners what with its relatable theme and presentation thereof.
‘Beggars in Black Suits’ takes on an equally real topic in the matter of knowing where one’s money goes when one makes charitable contributions. This is a very real topic, as the media has raised questions in recent years about how much money contributed to, say, The Salvation Army, actually goes to benefit the needy. Bastholm said of this song, “All these media persons and politicians beg us to pay for this or that cause, without us having any security that our money goes into the right pockets,” he said. “Often, we see this money end up in the wrong hands, and therefore the title, ‘Beggars In Black Suits.’” Just as with the case of ‘In Your Mind,’ the topic broached here is presented in a relatively accessible fashion. That is made clear in the song’s lead verse, which finds Bastholm singing, “You – hold your hands forth, honesty in your eyes/You – speak those soft words, all filled with lies.” The song’s second verse makes the statement just as clear, as Bastholm sings, “How – can you wear those honest, pleading caring eyes/When – all you want is for us, to believe your lies?” The song’s third and final verse puts the accent to the statement, as Bastholm sings, “Now – we really know you, despise you to the core/We – will make sure that you, shall be no more.” Again, reports have made their way through various media outlets in recent years questioning just how much money given to charities actually benefits the needy. This song voices the frustration that so many have felt when they learned that the money in question might not have gone to where they were led to believe it would go. It makes this song just as accessible for listeners as ‘In Your Mind’ while also showing even more, the variety in the album’s lyrical content.
Social concerns are just a portion of what Artillery takes on in its new album’s lyrical themes. The band also takes on religious fanaticism in ‘The Devil’s Symphony.’ According to Bastholm, while the song and its lyrics present a dark topic, it is not meant to make people think the band promotes Satanism. Rather, it is about “that almost exhilarating feeling of being against established convictions and beliefs. It is not a song about us being Satanic or anything like that, though.” The song examines that fervency by examining all the things that those types do, from using inverted crosses, to burning incense, to almost making the writings of Levay and others their theology. So on the surface, the song is an examination of the people who partake in the religion in question. On a deeper level, one could argue that it is just as much about people in general who are so fanatical about their given religion, but at the same time so uneducated. It is a truly unique way to approach a familiar rock and metal lyrical theme. To that point, the song proves to be one more example of the album’s varied lyrical themes and the overall importance of said content. To that end, this song, the others examined here join with the rest of the album’s lyrical themes to show clearly the importance of said content. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine. That item is the album’s production.
The production of X is important because of its role in the album’s general effect. As has already been noted earlier, the musical arrangements featured in this album are everything that audiences have come to expect from the record. That means that they are rather intense from one song to the next. In other words, there is a lot going on, between the instruments, vocals, and other noted additions to the songs. The attention paid to every minute detail of each arrangement ensures that the songs are each expertly balanced. The result is that every song is fully engaging and entertaining in terms of its musical and lyrical content. The end result of that overall appeal is that listeners will agree X lives up to expectations and that it is among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.
Artillery’s new forthcoming album, X, is a solid new offering from the veteran thrash outfit. It is a presentation that shows the band is still looking to reach plenty of highs. Listeners will agree that the album is itself a new high for Artillery. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements. The record’s musical arrangements are everything that longtime fans have come to expect from Artillery, but are still original in terms of their sound from one to the next here. A close listen proves that true through the subtle differences heard in each song. The lyrical themes featured throughout the album are themselves important to the album’s presentation because of their varied topics and accessibility. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements, bringing everything together. This is done through the expert balance of every element in each arrangement. It ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own right. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make X another impressive offering from Artillery that is also among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums. X is scheduled for release Friday.
More information on X is available online now along with all of Artillery’s latest news and more at: