Niji Entertainment’s Re-Issue of Dio’s ‘Killing The Dragon’ Cannot Be Killed

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Dio’s classic album Killing the Dragon has officially been resurrected again.  The album, originally released in 2002 through Spitfire Records and again in 2007 with Niji Entertainment’s re-issue of Dio’s 2000 album Magica, was re-issued Feb. 21 through Niji Entertainment, which is owned by Ronnie James Dio’s wife.  The latest re-issue marks  at least the second time that Killing the Dragon has been re-issued.  Its latest release is marked most notably by the inclusion by a handful of live performances that will be discussed shortly. While the bonus content featured with the re-issue does a lot to make this presentation appealing, it is just part of the recording’s positive.  The production and mixing that went into each of the lives tracks is worth noting, too.  It will be addressed a little later. The concept at the center of the album itself is yet another key to the whole of the presentation and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this latest re-issue of Killing The Dragon another work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciate.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Killing The Dragon is another pleasing presentation for the band’s most devoted fans.  That is due in no small part to the bonus content that is featured with this re-issue.  The bonus content in question is a group of live performances that was captured during Dio’s 2002-03 “Killing The Dragon Tour.”  The collection is short, featuring six songs at a total of 25 minutes.  While the collection is brief, it should be pointed that that this material was also not featured in the 2007 re-issue of Killing The Dragon.  That re-issue, in fact, was a companion release to Niji Entertainment’s re-issue of another of Dio’s albums, Magica.  Also, of the six bonus live recordings featured here, two of the featured songs – ‘Holy Diver,’ Rock and Roll’ – are repeated here from any of the other three new Dio re-issues.  The only of the re-issues that features the songs is Angry Machines. ‘Heaven & Hell’ is featured on that recording and as a bonus live performance on the new re-issue of Master of the Moon. The thing is that while the songs are repeated, the performances are not repeated.  The performances were captured during different tours, meaning the performances themselves are different despite the songs being the same.  The other three bonus live recordings featured with this re-issue ‘I Speed at Night,’ ‘Killing The Dragon’ and ‘Stand Up And Shout’ come from different points in Ronnie James Dio’s career.  ‘Killing the Dragon’ obviously comes from Killing The Dragon.  ‘Stand Up and Shout’ is taken from Dio’s very first album Holy Diver.  ‘I Speed At Night’ Dio’s 1984 album The Last in Line.  Here is what is important to note here:  When comparing this collective content to that of Dio’s other latest re-issues, that cross section, brief as it may be, makes even richer the overall picture of RJD’s life and career.  To that point, this bonus content – again as brief as it may be – proves in the immediate picture to be valuable, but in the bigger picture, far more valuable.  To that end, this bonus live content gives audiences, actually, a whole lot to appreciate.

While the bonus live recordings featured in this re-issue of Killing The Dragon does a lot to make the presentation appealing, it is just one of the positives of this presentation. The production and mixing that went into each performance makes each performance engaging and entertaining.  Everything that has already been noted of the bonus live material by this critic in the reviews of Niji Entertainment’s other new Dio re-issues applies here, too.  Each element of each performance is expertly balanced throughout each performance.  The sound levels in whole are at just the right volume to the point that listeners will rarely have to adjust the volumes whether on their computers, smart phones, CD players or even stereos.  In other words, the sound balance was handled with expertise in every aspect of that element.  Keeping that in mind, the content and its aesthetics go a long way toward generating plenty of engagement and entertainment for audiences in this bonus material.  It makes the bonus content, again brief as it may be, still valuable in itself and in the bigger picture of Niji Entertainment’s latest Dio re-issues.  Again, it is only part of what makes this re-issue so important to the whole of this album’s re-issue.  The lyrical concept at the center of Killing The Dragon proves invaluable in its own right.

The lyrical theme at the center of Killing the Dragon focuses on the dangers of technological advancements, according to Dio himself in an interview about the album.  He pointed out in the noted interview, that the songs that make up the body of the album are focused on the damage that technology will pose to the world.  Of course he was not the first person to ever make such statement.  Even in 2002, it was a familiar theme, considering that Isaac Asimov warned the world about the dangers of technology decades ago, as did the late physicist Steven Hawking and famed industrial metal outfit Fear Factory in every one of its albums.  Even other bands have addressed the matter before in records that preceded Killing The Dragon.  That aside, it is as relevant today as it was almost two decades ago.  He even went so far as to point out in the noted interview, that one part of the album was a warning against humans becoming essentially slaves to technology.  That is exactly what has become of society.  Just look at how humans have become so dependent on social media in order to emotionally and physiologically survive on a daily basis.  Keeping that in mind, that underlying lyrical concept in the album (and the album’s musical content) does more than its share to make the album engaging and entertaining.  When this is considered alongside the value in the re-issue’s bonus content, the whole of the re-issue proves to be one more work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciate.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Killing The Dragon is another welcome addition to the music library of any of the band’s most devoted fans.  That is, as noted here, due in large part to the bonus content featured with the album’s re-issue.  Both by itself and along with the bonus live recordings in the company’s other Dio re-issues, it presents its own share of engagement and entertainment value.  The production and mixing that went into that bonus live material proves important in its own right.  The primary content in this album joins with the previously unreleased bonus live content to make the whole even more enjoyable for the noted audiences.  Each item is important in its own right to the whole of Killing the Dragon.  All things considered, they make this re-issue one more offering that is certain to appeal to Dio’s most devoted audiences.  More information on this and Niji Entertainment’s other new Dio re-issues is available online along with all of the latest Dio news at:

 

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

 

 

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Niji Entertainment’s Re-Issue Of Dio’s ‘Angry Machines’ Will Make Dio Devotees Very Happy

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Ronnie James Dio’s classic 1996 album Angry Machines is available again.  The album – the seventh of his 10 total studio recordings – was received to mix reception in its original release.  Now with what is at least its second re-issue – it was also re-issued in 2018 by Niji Entertainment (which is owned by RJD’s wife) – the album is certain to get more cheers than it did in its original release.  That is due in large part to the bonus content featured with its presentation.  This will be discussed shortly.  Speaking of content, content also is the source of the re-issue’s one negative.  The content in question is the presentation’s primary content.  This will be addressed a little later.  While there is one negative to the presentation, it is not enough to ruin this re-issue.  There is one more positive to note, that being the production of the bonus content.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Niji Entertainment’s latest Angry Machines re-issue.  All things considered, they make this take on the album its best presentation to date.

Niji Entertainment’s 2020 re-issue of Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines is the record’s best presentation to date.  That is due in large part to the bonus content that is featured with the re-issue.  The bonus content in question is a series of live recordings captured during Dio’s 1997 “Angry Machines Tour.”  Audiences get in this bonus content what was at the time, a healthy cross section of Dio’s catalog up to that point.  The 12-song compilation reaches all the way back to Dio’s debut album Holy Diver and as then recent as Angry MachinesStrange Highways is represented, too, with a performance of ‘Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost – Straight Through The Heart.’  Dio’s own work with Black Sabbath is even represented here with a live performance of ‘The Mob Rules’ and ‘Heaven & Hell.’  As if that is not enough, even RJD’s work with Rainbow is represented with a live performance of ‘Man On the Silver Mountain.’  Simply put, audiences get in this bonus content, a good portrait of RJD’s career.  At the same time, this collection of live performances also serves the purpose of giving audiences something live in a time when every scheduled live performance right now is on hold around the globe.  It serves as a positive enjoyable live recording in itself, and one that was not featured with the recording’s 2018 re-issue.  To that end, it becomes that much more valuable to the whole of this presentation.  It makes this re-issue that much more worth the price whether audiences already own the album’s previous presentations or not.

While the bonus content featured with this new re-issue of Angry Machines does so much to make it appealing, the release’s primary content brings up its lone negative.  The negative here is that whether this is the record’s second re-issue or more, it is notable that the bonus track featured in the album’s Japanese release – ‘God Hates Heavy Metal’ – is once again absent from the album.  Perhaps there is a copyright issue preventing its inclusion in the album.  That the album was released via Mercury Records in Japan and through Mayhem Records in the U.S. in its original release, that would seem to be the only feasible possibility.  That’s even with Niji Entertainment being owned by Ronnie James Dio’s wife.  Given, the song is readily easily to find online thanks to YouTube, but if even for the sense of completion, it would have been nice to have had the song at some point featured with the American release of this record.  That’s especially the case considering the value in the song’s collective musical and lyrical content.  The song’s musical arrangement is a full, heavy horn raiser that sarcastically goes after the religious right that had at that time (and sadly still does today) claim that Dio was in league with Satan.  That obviously is anything but true for anyone who knows anything about him and his career.  Keeping all of this in mind, the lack of that one song in this latest re-issue is not enough to ruin the re-issue by any means.  It is just a minor negative that hopefully when and if this album receives another future re-issue, will be addressed at that point.

Moving on from the one minor negative that is the lack of the bonus track ‘God Hates Heavy Metal,’ it is a minor con to the whole of this re-issue.  Moving back to the positive, the production and mixing of the re-issue’s bonus live content couples with the songs themselves to add even more appeal to the collection.  As with the live material featured in the re-issues of Magica, Killing The Dragon and Master of the Moon, the sound of each performance is spot on.  Dio’s vocals expertly compliment the guitars of then band mate Tracy Grijalva.  Grijalva’s works is just as well-balanced with drummer Vinny Appice’s time keeping and bassist Jeff Pilson’s low-end.  That is the case just as much in the collection’s more upbeat performances and the slower works.  Each performer’s work gets just as much attention as that of his bandmates throughout the course of the 72 minute compilation of live performances.  If one closes one’s eyes, it’s as if one is right there.  If a live DVD or Blu-ray has not already been released that compliments this set, then it certainly needs to be released.  Doubtless that top notch production and mixing will join with the set list itself to make for just as much of an enjoyable presentation.  Keeping this in mind, the production and mixing that went into these live performance recordings couples with the expanse of content to make this bonus disc more than enough reason for the most devoted Dio fans to own this re-issue, especially if said fans do not already own the album’s previous releases.  Even taking into account the lack of that one bonus track with the main album, the recording in whole is still that worth the addition to any Dio devotee’s library.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Dio’s Angry Machines is a presentation that is certain to appeal to the most devoted of Ronnie James Dio’s fans.  That is due in large part to the extensive and well-recorded live content featured with the album.  That 72-minute (one hour, 12-minute) collection of songs presents a rich picture at that point, of Dio’s career.  Its production and mixing add even more engagement and enjoyment to the collection.  Even with the lack of one bonus track to the recording’s primary album, that bonus content couples with the primary album to make this a fully appealing presentation for Dio’s most devoted fans.  The re-issue is available now.  More information on this and other RJD releases is available online now along with all of the latest RJD news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

 

 

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Niji Entertainment’s Latest ‘Magica’ Re-Issue Will Appeal To RJD’s Most Devoted Audiences

Courtesy: Niji Entertainment

Ronnie James Dio’s classic concept album Magica has gotten the re-issue treatment again.  Originally released in 2000 through Spitfire Records, the 13-song concept album was re-issued again Feb. 21 through Niji Entertainment, as with its 2013 and 2018 re-issues.  Yes, the album has now been re-issued no less than four times since its original release, and each re-issue has presented something different for audiences.  That extra content on the album’s latest re-issue is one of its most important elements.  It will be discussed shortly.  The concept at the core of the original album is something well worth noting, too, and will be addressed a little later.  The sequencing of each portion of the re-issue rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this recording.  All things considered, they make Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Magica another intriguing tribute to a true rock legend.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Ronnie James Dio’s 2000 album Magica is an intriguing presentation.  That is due in part to the bonus material that is featured with this latest re-issue of the album.  The bonus content featured with the album this time is the most important of the presentation’s elements.  In comparison to the album’s 2018 re-issue, that presentation was extremely limited on any bonus content.  It featured only live takes of the songs ‘Fever Dream’ and ‘Magica Theme.’ The 2007 re-issue included Dio’s 2002 album Killing The Dragon.  That album is also among Niji Entertainment’s latest round of Dio re-issues, and will be discussed another day.  Getting back to the latest re-issue of Magica, its 2013 re-issue was a bit heavier in the way of bonus content, featuring eight official bootlegs that were recorded during Dio’s 2000-2002 Magica World Tour.  This latest re-issue pulls from that tour again.  What is important to note though, is that the live material featured this time is not just a re-hashing of the live material featured in the album’s 2013 re-issue.  Rather, audiences get not eight, but 10 (yes, 10) of the 13 songs featured in the original recording.  The only difference here from the actual album is the omission of the songs ‘Turn To Stone,’ ‘As Long As It’s Not About Love’ and the album’s closer, the reprise of ‘Lord of the Last Day.’  Other than those omissions, what audiences get in this live recording is almost the entirety of Magica live in its original sequence.  This is crucial because of the general effect that it has for listeners.  This was an artist performing an album virtually in its entirety before it became the cool thing for acts to do.  What’s more getting to take in the album nearly in whole in a live setting makes the experience that much more special.  As any one can tell a person, live shows are special experiences for audiences.  So getting to experience the album in two different settings in nearly the same order makes for quite the extraordinary experience for audiences.

Now, keeping this in mind, the automatic rebuttal to this statement becomes why should one own the same album twice over just because the bonus content is different (I.E. the 2013 and 2020 re-issues).  The answer there is that while this latest re-issue may feature Magica almost in its entirety in its near exact sequencing both times, the album’s 2013 re-issue does feature the live take of ‘As Long As It’s Not About Love.’  Given, ‘Turn To Stone’ and the reprise of ‘Lord of the Last Day,’ it does feature a live version of the primary take of that song.  The 2013 re-issue also features a hint at what would have been Magica 2 & 3 in the form of the song ‘Electra.’  To that end, that content, along with a telling of the Magica story by RJD himself adds even more interest to that presentation.  So, keeping all of this in mind, the album’s 2013 and 2020 takes feature varying bonus content, the 2020 re-issue proves enjoyable in its own right for the most devoted RJD fans just as much as the album’s 2013 re-issue.  The 2007 and 2018 re-issues meanwhile prove less valuable and worth replacing among those listeners who may have one or both of those re-issues.

The bonus content featured in the new 2020 re-issue of Magica is clearly important in its own way to the re-issue’s overall presentation.  It is just one of the re-issue’s key elements.  Looking at the concept behind the album itself, that item is well worth discussing.  Dio actually discussed the album’s concept prior to his death.  He pointed  out in an interview that the album focused on a standard battle between good and evil.  The twist is that while so many stories of good and evil are told from the vantage point of the heroes, this story was told from the vantage point of the villain; something which is rarely if ever past and present.  He pointed out during the noted interview that he left the album ending how he did because “evil always exists, good doesn’t always triumph, and that’s the universal balance.”  Given, LucasFilm’s Star Wars franchise did have some chapters in which the bad guys won.  That was a movie, though.  In the real world, we are seeing daily that evil does win considering who is running America today in the form of a crooked businessman who is also a xenophobe, homophobe, misogynist and racist.  So while the concept at the center of Magica might still be very rare to this day in the world of music and entertainment in general, it is something that is very much real in the real world.  Now, Dio was not advocating for the bad guys to win in making the noted statement.  That needs to be clarified here.  Rather, he was pointing out that the concept that the good guys always win is not a reality.  For that reason, RJD is to be commended highly for taking what was then and is still today, the road less traveled.  Keeping this in mind with the bonus content featured with the album’s re-issue, the two elements go a long way toward making this latest re-issue of Magica a welcome addition to the libraries of the most devoted RJD fans.  They are not the album’s only notable entries.  The production and mixing of the bonus live content is worth its own mention.

The production is important to note because of the resultant sound quality of the live material.  The term bootleg is used for these recordings, but the production and mixing used in these official live bootlegs has left the sound just as clear, engaging and entertaining as any other act’s live recording past or present.  The guitars, the symphonic elements, the drums, everything is balanced so well throughout each performance.  RJD’s vocals are perfectly clear, too.  In other words, while the recordings may be marketed as “official bootlegs,” they are anything but bootleg.  If any one thing can be said of the bonus content, it would be that to this day, RJD’s 2000-2002 “Magica World Tour” has  seemingly never has received one full live recording either on CD or on DVD or even Blu-ray.  If Niji Entertainment wants to truly impress RJD’s fans, that would be a wise choice.  Again, going back to the previous discussion on bonus content, Magica’s 2013 and new 2020 re-issues each features content from that tour, but it is all spread against two different recordings.  Why has no single recording been released featuring nothing but that performance content?  Officials at Niji Entertainment and other companies need to keep that in mind.  That aside, the production and mixing that went into the official live bootlegs featured in this recording – as with the album’s 2013 re-issue – resulted in a wonderful experience that will appease any rock fan pining for a live experience in this age of bacterial spread.  To that end, it proves its own importance to the recording’s latest presentation.  When it is considered along with the re-issue’s other elements, the whole of the re-issue proves to be its own positive presentation for the most devoted fans of Ronnie James Dio.

Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Ronnie James Dio’s 2000 album Magica is a presentation that is certain to appeal to the legendary performer’s most devoted fans.  That is proven in part through the re-issue’s bonus content, which is distinct from that of the album’s previous re-issues, as is noted here.  The very concept at the heart of the album is important in its own right to the presentation.  The production and mixing that went into the presentation of the re-issue’s bonus content is important in its own way to the whole of this re-issue, too.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the whole of the set.  All things considered, they make Niji Entertainment’s latest re-issue of Magica a work that the most devoted Dio fans will appreciated.  The record is available now.  More information on the album is available online along with all of the latest RJD-related news at:

 

Website: http://ronniejamesdio.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/OfficialRJDio

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bloodywood Debuts ‘Yaad’ Video

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Bloodywood debuted the video for its latest single over the weekend.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Yaad‘ Friday.  The video features a man watching video footage of himself and his dearly departed dog, remembering the good times he had with his best friend. While the video centers on a man’s memories of his four-legged friend, lyrically, it is actually a much broader song about coping with loss.

Bloodywood founder/guitarist Karan Katiyar discussed that topic in a recent interview.

“‘Yaad’ (Hindi for ‘remember’ on ‘in memory’) is about the power of accepting the loss of a loved one and moving on,” he said.  “The lyrics celebrate the permanent impact they have on us, reiterating the belief that we carry them in our best memories, no matter how far apart we may be.  I lost my dog 10 years ago and I still feel the loss to this day.  I wanted the video to show the bond between and his dog to highlight its (the song’s) message.”

The song’s musical arrangement is a powerful presentation that is a stark contrast to much of Bloodywood’s current music, boasting a distinct melodic hard rock sensibility instead of the heavier rap-rock for which it has come to be known.

Portions of the video for ‘Yaad’ were shot in the Himalayan mountains. Other portions of the video were shot in urban areas of India.

‘Yaad’ is available to stream and download at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Google Play.

In an added effort that ties in with the song’s message and the video’s treatment, the members of Bloodywood recently funded the purchase of a new animal ambulance for a nonprofit animal shelter known as The Posh Foundation in their home town of New Dehli.  The shelter’s other ambulance recently broke down, leading to the need for the new vehicle.

Pending the developments in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Bloodywood is scheduled to perform live this summer at a series of European festival shows. The virus caused the cancellation of the Sonic temple Festival, at which the band was scheduled to perform. The band’s upcoming pending live schedule is noted below.

 

The European Festival Dates:
07/08 @ Bloodstock Festival – Derby, UK
08/09 @ Alcatraz Festival (Swamp Stage) – Kortrijk, BE
08/14 @ Reload Festival – Sulingen, DE
08/15 @ Summer Breeze Open Air – Dinkelsbühl, DE

 

More information on Bloodywood’s new single and video is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bloodywood.dehli

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Bloodywood2

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “”Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

 

The Dodies’ Latest LP Will Appeal To Emo, Garage, Punk Fans

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Independent rock band The Dodies will release its forthcoming album It’s One Hell of a Ride next month.

The duo — Yoni Avittan and Ran Aronson – is scheduled to release its new 13-song record April 24.  The record’s musical arrangements will appeal to fans of the punk, garage and stoner rock genres.  Its often bleak lyrical themes are certain to appeal to fans of the emo genre, many of whom are also part of the punk and garage rock fan base.  Of course not all of this 42-minute record falls into that mold.  The record’s opener and lead single ‘Boiling Point’ supports that statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  The brooding ‘Suleyman,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another standout addition to the record.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Goodbyes,’ the record’s closer, is one of the most notable of the record’s songs.  It will also be discussed later.  Keeping that song in mind along with the other two noted here, this record proves to be a presentation that is worth at least one listen.

The Dodies’ new album It’s One Hell of a Ride is an interesting offering from the Israeli duo.  It is a work that will appeal to a very targeted audience base, as is evidenced through its musical and lyrical content.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘Boiling Point’ is just one of the songs that serves t support the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly lends itself to a comparison to music from The Darkness and Royal Blood.  That is especially the case in the song’s chorus as Avittan hits his high notes.  He sounds just like The Darkness’ front man in those moments.  The song’s manic energy serves well to help translate the emotion in the song’s lyrical content, which Avittan recently discussed in an interview about the song.

“I wrote the song when I was really depressed and felt nervous about having no sexual interaction with any woman in my early twenties,” he said.  “I felt like I was in some sort of crossroads, like something drastic had to change in my life because I’m about to reach my boiling point.”

Avittan writes in the song’s lead verse, “I’m surprised that I’m so surprised/I love my TV/But it’s filled with lies/I don’t know where to go from here/If I don’t get lucky/Then it’s off the pier/Nothing wrong with being a bum/I’m not condescending/You’re just dumb/I forgot what my grandpa said/But I know I puked in my empty bed.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, “I don’t want to smile again/’Cause I know I’ll blink and it’ll suddenly end/I must say that it’s quite bizarre/That I get no p**** and I play guitar/See fumes of loneliness gushing out of me/Never do my best to try and fix it up/’Cause I think I drove too far to stop.”  He concludes in the song’s third verse, “Sorry if I disappoint/I’m about to reach my boiling point/Phony smile and a wave goodbye/I don’t’ wanna live/I don’t wanna die/That’s one fine comfort zone/Would you like to trade?/I can’t stand my one/Don’t ask me/I don’t know/But we might as well/Just give ‘em a show.”  Avvitan’s frustrations are such that especially plenty of young male listeners will connect with his words and with the energy in the song’s musical arrangement.  That ability to connect with listeners (albeit targeted listeners) with the song’s infectious arrangement and relatable lyrical content is just one example of what makes this LP worth at least one listen.  It is just one of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Sulyeman’ is another intriguing addition to the album.

‘Suleyman’ is a stark contrast to ‘Boiling Point’ in its musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  The song’s musical arrangement starts out in very brooding fashion before building into a distinct stoner rock approach with its fuzzed guitar sound and heavy drums set against the duo’s vocal delivery.  It definitely stands out to this end, against the rest of the album’s entries.  It’s just one part of what makes the song so intriguing.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to its presentation.

Considering that the members of The Dodies are from Israel (The Middle East), the first thing that comes to mind here is that perhaps the song centers on the infamous Islamic leader Suleyman.  For those who might not know the history, Suleyman was an Ottoman Sultan.  During the course of his life, Suleyman waged war against Christians in Europe and the Mediterranean.  He also led the way in making reforms in law, education and taxation.  Not only that, but Suleyman was also renowned for protecting Jewish residents who lived within the Ottoman Empire.  Considering that much of Israel is populated by Jews, it would make sense that The Dodies’ work here would, in turn, be focused on him and his rule.  Of course, that is all this critic’s interpretation, and could be wholly incorrect.  Hopefully it is somewhere near being correct.  There is no direct mention made of the legendary ruler at any point in the song, again leading one to wonder.  Regardless of right or wrong, the very possibility and the discussion that is certain to ensue from that possibility is in itself reason for audiences to take in this song.  Keeping this in mind, it’s one more way in which It’s One Hell of a Ride proves an interesting offering from The Dodies.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable entries.  The record’s closer, ‘Goodbyes’ is another important addition to the album.

‘Goodbyes’ stands out because it is musically another piece that is unlike all of the emo-style works that make up so much of the record’s body.  Yes, it is an emotional work in its simplicity, but at the same time, it is not one of those downer, oh-woe-is-me type works.  It is just one guitar and one person singing.  And when joined with the song’s lyrical content, which focuses on the difficulty of saying goodbye, it becomes all the more powerful and moving.

Avittan points out in the song’s final line that the song is about saying goodbye not in relation to death or a broken relationship, but about going out into the world, saying goodbye to everything and everyone that one has known and heading out into the unknown.  He sings in the lead verse, “Auf widersehen/You were a great friend/You now as well that I can’t pretend/Gotta head out and see the big world/So many people from so many homes/I’m not that good at saying goodbyes/Maybe it’s ‘cause you can see through my lies/not gonna cry/It’s the sun in my eyes/I’m not that good at saying goodbye.”  He adds in the song’s second verse, “Maybe I’ll slip and slowly decay/Maybe you’ll see me on TV someday/Those are big words/But I’ve got to say/Anything’s better than having to stay.  I’m not that good at saying goodbyes/Picking a fight, so you won’t see me cry/I already said it’s the sun in my eyes/I’m not that good at saying goodbyes.”  He goes so far as to add in the song’s final lines, “Send my goodbyes to mom and dad/Yeah/I know they’ve never been that proud/But I’ve got to go and find my way.”  Some might say addressing the matter of coming of age and learning about becoming one’s own person is cliché.  Maybe it is.  But the way in which the matter is addressed here is anything but cliché.  It is in fact, very positive and is certain to connect with plenty of listeners.  When the whole of this work is considered along with the impact of the other two noted songs and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album becomes a presentation that audiences will find worth at least one listen.

The Dodies’ new forthcoming LP It’s One Hell of a Ride is an intriguing offering for audiences who are perhaps not overly familiar with the duo’s work.  Composed largely of musical and lyrical content that will appeal to fans of the emo, garage and punk realms, the album also presents some more personal content, as noted throughout this review.  Between the songs noted here and those not addressed, the album in whole proves to be worth at least one chance.  It’s One Hell of a Ride will be available independently from The Dodies April 24.  More information on the album is available online along with the duo’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://thedodiesband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thedodiesband

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Run Around’s New EP ‘Bombs Away’ Anything But Bombs

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Up-and-coming punk rock outfit The Run Around released its first new studio recording in 11 years this month.  The Chicago, IL-based quintet released its EP Bombs Away March 14 independently.  The five-song record is the band’s first studio recording since the release of its 2009 LP Fight The Day. Its musical and lyrical content will appeal to fans of bands, such as Dropkick Murphys, Sum 41 and Bowling for Soup, the latter of which is scheduled to perform live alongside The Run Around Aug. 27 at Bottom Lounge in The Run Around’s hometown.  Tickets for that concert are available here.  The EP’s lead single and opener, which is also the record’s title track, is just one example of how that content makes this record so appealing.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘White Coats,’ the EP’s mid-point is another example of what makes the record stand out in this year’s field of new punk rock records.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Go Under,’ the EP’s closer is one more example of what makes the disc stand out.  It will also be discussed later.  Between this composition, the other noted songs, and the record’s other two offerings, the EP in whole proves itself to be a strong return for The Run Around, and hopefully not the band’s last release.  That is because it is one of this year’s top new EPs.

The Run Around’s first new studio recording in 11 years is a strong return for the up-and-coming punk rock band whose appeal is far-reaching, thanks to its collective musical and lyrical content.  The record’s opener/title track, which is also its lead single is just one example of what makes this record such an impressive return for The Run Around.  The song’s up-tempo musical arrangement lends itself to comparisons to the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Rancid.  One could even argue that a comparison to works from Sum 41 could be made, at least  in the way of that arrangement.  The infectious groove established in this song couples with the straight forward, no-nonsense sociopolitical commentary in its lyrical content to add to its impact.

Front man Jason Fein sings against the work of his band mates – Jason Enders (bass, vocals), Fabian Falcon (guitar, vocals), Mario Sanchez (guitar) and Mike Curran (drums) – “Little Tommy’s gun a gun/He’s not gonna shoot anyone/Sick of this carousel/There’s only one way out when it goes to hell/And when it comes, too/All that we’ll go through/Does not mean a thing/When war mongers control our brains/No future/No desire/We are drowning/But we’re too close to the fire/Bombs away/It’s just an ordinary day/In the U.S. of A./Say/No way/We contradict your politics/And the grand old GOP.”  The song’s second verse is difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference. However, in the refrain of the song’s chorus, Fein and his band mates change things up slightly, stating, “We contradict your politics and the redneck NRA.”  Considering this and everything in the song’s lead verse, the message in this song comes across as being pretty clear.  Fein adds in the song’s third verse that, “we must ride this wave or go down in punk rock glory” before returning to the chorus once more, adding, “Where the hell’s our liberty?…We say no way.”  Again, the lyrical content leaves little doubt as to its statement.  This is a commentary about the state of the nation.  Given, it will appeal mainly to those who are anything but Republicans, but to those audiences in question, it will certainly find its ears.  The urgency in the song’s musical arrangement adds to the fire in the song’s lyrical content to make the song in whole, a work that is a strong start for Bombs Away and an equally strong first impression for the band in its return.  The song is just one of the EP’s most notable works.  ‘White Coats’ does its own share to show the EP’s strength.

‘White Coats’ presents a musical arrangement that once again, is pure punk rock.  As with the EP’s opener, this up-tempo, guitar-driven work, with its solid time keeping is another work that lends itself to comparisons to works from Dropkick Murphys.  That is especially the case through Fein’s vocal delivery.  It instantly lends itself to the vocal delivery style of DKM vocalist Al Barr.  The simple, yet infectious hooks, which feature band simply singing “whoah” even are instantly comparable to DKM’s work.  The same can be said of the guitar solo in the song’s bridge.  That driving arrangement joins with the song’s straight-forward commentary in its lyrical content to make the song all the more powerful.

Fein sings in the song’s lead verse, “Wake up, baby/It’s the weekend/And we’re never gonna be … again/So let go/Of control/It’s too much stress for one to handle/You know it/We know it/Let the past be the past/You can’t wait for it/Tonight our enemy will be the sunrise/Haters gonna hate on what they don’t know.”  He and his band mates continue in the song’s second verse, “Mr. policeman/Put down the weapon/Please don’t shoot/We’re only drinking/Let go/Of control…we promise we won’t tell/One night/So live life/You know it/We know it/The past is the past/You can’t wait for it.” Of course Fein and company are not saying that drinking and driving is okay here.  The choice of words might have been better.  However, the bigger picture here is that the song’s message comes across relatively clearly.  The message inferred is that we should make the most of our lives.  This argument is strengthened even more as Fein sings in the song’s chorus, “Forget the bastards/And those who bring us down/Tonight, we’ll live life…when the white coats come/To take us all away/Sanity is just your favorite blue pill away.”  That line about sanity being our favorite blue pill away and the men in white coats coming to take us away enhances the song’s overall message about making the most of life.  It is as if Fein is saying that we are going crazy as a nation, and we need to just live our lives, making the best of every day.  That might account for the note of the blue pills and the men in white coats.  Keeping that in mind along with the playful, lighthearted vibe in the song’s arrangement, the song does an admirable job of translating that seeming message.  Looking at the seeming message and music, and that of the EP’s opener, it is clear that this record certainly has substance both musically and lyrically.  That substance does not end with these two songs.  Rather it continues in the EP’s closing number, ‘Go Under.’

‘Go Under’ is, musically, a very accessible song for audiences with its radio ready musical arrangement.  The harmonies established through the guitars, bass and vocals couple with the solid time keeping to make this song at least musically, this EP’s most radio ready work.  It’s just one part of what makes the song so accessible.  The song’s lyrical content, which centers on the all-too-familiar topic of a broken relationship.

Fein sings in the song’s lead verse, “Let’s start at the part/I broke your heart/You told me that you loved me/Right before I fell apart/Never meant for this/Bliss and happiness/Came with the yard and the white picket fence/I bit off my tongue/So you’d never drink alone/Blew off my friends/Pretend that we weren’t home/Now I’m the one/You scream when I call/All is far is love and war/Always my fault.”  He makes mention in the song’s chorus of things going to hell, which signals yet again, that matter of the relationship going south relatively fast.  He adds during the chorus, “I was your lightning/You were my thunder/Never really looked at another//When the lightning crashed/There was no more thunder/Life goes on/Then we go under.”  The song’s second verse is very similar in its approach, continuing that story of the broken relationship.  Between that clear presentation made in the verse and chorus, the song’s lyrical content translates quite well.  Coupled with the infectious musical content, the song in whole is a wise choice for a single, and could be that work that breaks the band into the mainstream, what with that accessibility.  Considering the strength of this song, the others discussed here and the rest of the EP’s entries, the whole of the 16-minute record proves to be a positive return for The Run Around and that is easily one of this year’s top new EPs.

The Run Around’s newly released EP Bombs Away is a record that explodes with so much substance, both in terms of its musical and lyrical content.  It is a work that will appeal to purist punk rock fans as well as those of the more mainstream stuff.  That is evident from the record’s opening to its end.  Keeping that in mind, this EP is a solid return for The Run Around and hopefully just the new beginning for this punk rock outfit.  The EP is available now.  More information on Bombs Away is available now along with all of The Run Around’s latest news at:

 

 

 

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/The_Run_Around

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

JLCO Earns Its Own Championship Title With Live Recording dedicated To KU’s Basketball Program

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Late last year, Blue Engine Records announced it was going to open 2020 with a bang by releasing four new live recordings from The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  Three full months into the year, the label has stuck to its busy schedule, releasing the group’s live recording of its performance of music from Wayne Shorter, and of Shermann Irby’s Inferno, as well as a presentation of the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s timeless record Black Brown & Beige.  The label continued that packed slate of new recordings last week with the release of JLCO’s fourth live recording so far this yeear, Rock Chalk Suite.  Released March 20, the 63-minute recording is another wonderfully enjoyable performance from the collective.  It is a work that apparently will appeal to sports fans, too, thanks to its central concept, which will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements that make up the body of the recording add even more interest to its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production and mixing round out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is key in its own special way to the whole of Rock Chalk Suite.  All things considered, this latest live recording from JLCO is yet another one of this year’s top new live CDs.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ latest live recording Rock Chalk Suite is another impressive new live offering from the organization that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live CDs.  That statement is supported in part by the concept at the heart of the recording.  As noted in information provided about the recording, its concept bases each of its 15 songs on one of the famous basketball players from none other than the University of Kansas.  That includes members of the men’s and women’s team.  One might immediately begin to scratch one’s head wondering how such a concept came to life.  The answer to that question is that the recording was meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the construction of the university’s Lied Center.  Given, the Lied center has never hosted KU basketball games, being a cultural arts center, but that aside, KU students, staff and alums will appreciate the very fact that this group recorded this entire performance in dedication to the university in so many facets.  Few if any music acts from any genre can say they have dedicated an entire recording – whether studio or live – to a college and its rich history.  To that end, this is really unique, and sets a solid foundation for the recording.

The foundation set by Rock Chalk Suite’s premise is strengthened by the arrangements that make up the body of the 15-song recording.  It is important to re-state here that each arrangement is meant to pay tribute to a specific member of KU’s basketball program throughout the years.  Figures, such as Paul Pierce, Jo Jo White and Bill Houghland are honored along with the likes of Mario Chalmers, Charlie B. Black and Lynette Woodard throughout the performance.  ‘C.B.’s Theme,’ which pays tribute to Black, is a wonderful classic 1960s style work that conjures thoughts of works from the likes of the Dave Brubeck Quartet, the Miles Davis Quintet and the Chet Baker Quartet.  That is evident through the horn arrangements, the dynamic changes and the subtleties in the work’s piano and percussion lines.  Considering the success that KU’s men’s basketball program enjoyed during his time as a member of the team, it makes sense that this song would be so light and upbeat. The light, bouncy approach to the song serves well to illustrate the happiness that must have flowed through each player and the university in whole during his time with the team.

In contrast to ‘C.B.’s Theme,’ ‘Third Quarter’ is a stark contrast.  The song pays tribute to KU and former NBA star Nick Collison.  This work is more reserved than ‘C.B.’s Theme’ and some of the recording’s other works.  It could be argued that maybe the title and vibe in the song are a reflection of how understated Collison’s career was.  He led the Jayhwks to two consecutive Final Four appearances during his career at the university.  He was the NCAA Player of the Year during the 2002-03 season; Big 12 Player of the Year during the same season and was a first-team All-American.  Those are some pretty hefty accolades, but he apparently never rose to the superstar level of some of his counterparts, such as Carmelo Anthony.  He did go on to play with the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics and Oklahoma City Thunder, but was the 12th overall pick in the NBA’s draft after his graduation from KU.  So yes, he was successful, not at the level of other NCAA standouts from KU and other schools.  Of course, this is all this critic’s interpretation, and could be wholly inaccurate.  So, it should not be taken as gospel.  Regardless, the fact of the matter remains that this song boasts its own share of entertainment with its combination of woodwinds, piano, light percussion and standup bass.  The arrangement will put anyone at ease.

‘The Ponderous Pachyderm of the Planks,’ which pays tribute to Clyde Lovellete, is another example of the importance of this performance’s arrangements.  It’s fitting that a song about Lovellette would basically call him a pachyderm.  He was a giant in many ways, physically and in his accomplishments.  Lovelette stood six-feet, nine-inches in height, which is very tall.  Given, elephants are much taller, but in comparison to most other plays of his day and present, he clearly was “as big as an elephant.”  His ability to make one-handed shots during his professional career draws images of someone his height almost taking huge steps down the court, a la an elephant, and making those shots.  Looking at his college career, he led the team to the 1952 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, earned MVP status and scored what was then a record 141 points along the way.  He was named first-team All-American twice during his college career, too.  As an added highlight, he also won gold with the USA Men’s Basketball team at the 1952 Summer Olympics, not long after leading the Jayhawks to the NCAA title.  He was the team’s leading scorer during the games.  Lovelette’s life after basketball was humble, finding him working as a farmer and Sheriff and even worked at a faith-based school helping at-risk youths.  Considering all of these accolades, it makes sense why the arrangement presents a certain swagger and bombast.  That energy is about as big as he was along with his career.  It’s just one more way in which the recording’s arrangements serve to show their importance to the whole of this presentation.  Between this arrangement, the others noted and the rest of the featured arrangements, each does its own part to properly honor KU’s program and its members.  When considered along with the very concept of joining sports and music in this fashion, the two elements make this record even more engaging and entertaining.  They are not the recording’s only key elements.  The recording’s production and mixing round out its most important elements.

The production and mixing that went into Rock Chalk Suite is just as impressive as that of JLCO’s past live recordings.  Whether the arrangements are upbeat or more reserved in their energies, whether they are more lively or subdued, each member of the orchestra has his/her performance expertly balanced with that of his/her fellow musicians.  The horns lead the way throughout the majority of the record, given, but the subtleties of the piano are there, too, as are those of the drums and percussion.  Every part gets its own attention, and in turn, each line is heard perfectly.  The end result is a presentation that is just as easy on the ears because of the content as for the content’s aesthetics.  Those behind that work are to be commended for their continued attention to every finer detail.  Keeping this in mind along with the value of the recording’s content and its foundation, all three elements join to make Rock Chalk Suite a work that is most certainly a slam dunk for sports fans, jazz aficionados and music lovers alike.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s latest live recording Rock Chalk Suite is a work that will appeal not just to jazz lovers, but to fans of college basketball — and specifically to fans of the Kansas Jayhawks – and to music lovers in general.  That is proven in the very concept that the recording is a tribute to a college basketball program.  That is unique to say the very least.  The arrangements do an applause-worthy job of paying tribute to some of the program’s most notable names.  The recording’s production and mixing put the finishing touch to the presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this presentation.  All things considered, they make this recording deserving of its own trophy.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchesta with Wynton Marsalis is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.