Power Rangers Fans Will Get Lost In Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Three years ago, Shout! Factory and Saban struck a deal that saw the first in a long line of releases from Saban’s now world-renowned Power Rangers franchise.  The release in question was Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Season 1 Volume 1.  It was the first but most definitely not the last of the Power Rangers franchise that fans would see finally get a proper release.  Nearly three years after the release of that initial box set, Shout! Factory has seemingly come to the end of the road with the Power Rangers.  That is because on March 10th, Shout! Factory will release what would be the first of the Power Rangers installments in the “post-Zordon era.”  The installment in question is Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.  Long-time fans of Saban’s Power Rangers franchise will especially appreciate this upcoming release primarily because it is the complete “series” set in one stand-alone box set.  That is quite the noticeable change of course for Shout! Factory being that its previous seasons of Power Rangers were split up into multiple box sets.  So, that Shout! Factory didn’t take that route this time is sure to impress any long-time Power Rangers fan.  Second to note of this collection is the writing within the episodes.  The most noticeable aspects of the “series’” writing are that while it serves as its own series separate from the original Power Rangers franchise, it also maintains at least the slightest of links to that franchise thanks to the inclusion of Bulk and Skull yet again, and of course the re-introduction of the Astro-Megaship from Power Rangers in Space.  It’s sort of the writers’ way of saying the past is gone but not totally forgotten.  Long-time fans will appreciate this just as much.  Also, worth noting of the writing is the fact that the writers were able to keep Leo’s personal drama in check throughout the series, opting instead to allow the series’ central stories maintain their place at the forefront of each episode.  Last but not least of all that makes this set so welcome is its continued use of both “live” footage and stock footage from its Japanese base series.  Just like the writing mantains a link to Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise, so does this balance of footage.  It rounds out the reasons that fans will want to add this set to their own collections. Together with the series’ writing and its complete complement of episodes, all three noted elements combine to make Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series a fitting final release from Shout! Factory’s series of releases from Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise.

Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series seems to be the last of Shout! Factory’s Power Rangers releases.  That is unless there is a deal in place that would allow Shout! Factory to release Seasons 8 – 17, which were previously released in two separate box sets containing Seasons 8 – 12 and 13 – 17.  Regardless, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series is still a box set well worth the addition to any Power Rangers fan’s personal collection.  The most obvious reason that fans of Saban’s long-running property will appreciate this set is the very fact that it features the entire “series” in one stand-alone box set.  Shout! Factory didn’t split it up into two separate sets unlike with its previous Power Rangers sets.  This has been a point of contention among fans ever since Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Season 1 Volume 1 was released on DVD back in 2012.  Save for the mid-season filler “series” Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers every other season of Power Rangers released by Shout! Factory since has been split into no less than two boxes.  That being the case, having this potentially final season set released in one box is a breath of fresh air.  Should the seasons that followed actually be re-issued separate from their previously released five-season box sets, hopefully they will in fact be re-issued as their own complete stand-alone sets, too just like this one.  Regardless, this complete showing of episodes in one box is the cornerstone on which the rest of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series’ positives rest.  It is a solid cornerstone, too.

The fact that Shout! Factory has presented Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series is a solid starting point in examining what makes this box set a success.  It’s not all that makes the set a success.  The writing that went into the show’s episodes is just as worth noting.  Long-time audiences will appreciate the fact that the show’s writers didn’t just make a whole new series.  They actually maintained a pretty solid link to Saban’s original Power Rangers series with the inclusion once again of Bulk and Skull into various episodes including the two-part season opener.  The Rangers even utilize the Astro Megaship from Power Rangers in Space throughout this season.  These two elements of the show’s writing by themselves show that the writers wanted to do their best to not alienate fans that came on board way back in the days of MMPR.  The actual episodes though, are just as important to the presentation.  Within the episodes themselves, the show’s writers were able to balance just enough the personal drama of the Power Rangers (E.g. Leo’s coming to terms with Mike’s “death,” Archie’s dealing with Leo and the pair’s growing friendship, Cerina’s longing for her home world, etc.) with their battles against Scorpius and his evil forces.  The writers never let that personal drama step on the “series’” central story line, thus creating a whole that keeps audiences fully engaged from the “series’” premiere to its final, climactic battle.  The end result of that writing is yet another part of the whole of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series that shows just why long-time fans of the Power Rangers will enjoy this latest release.

The inclusion of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy’s complete forty-five episode run in one complete stand-alone box set and the writing that went into the show’s episodes complement each other quite well  in terms of elements that make this box set a success for fans.  The show’s look is just as important to the presentation as the writing and the fact that the “series” has been presented in whole here.  Both those that aren’t so familiar with the Power Rangers and the franchise’s long-time fans will appreciate that even this far into the Power Rangers’ run, will appreciate that the show’s heads once again combined new, live elements and CG along with the stock footage from its Japanese source series Seijuu Sentai Gingaman.  This would be the last of the Power Rangers series to make that balance so noticeable for audiences.  And it really added a certain something to the show, too.  It could be argued that the balance of both elements creates once again that certain sense of old meets new that somehow creates so much enjoyment.  It’s that familiar something that especially long-time fans will understand and that new fans will appreciate when they see that balance for themselves.  It’s something that sadly was lost in some of the seasons that followed.  The seasons in question had more of a spit-shined look about them.  That look took away that certain feeling established by the previous Power Rangers seasons.  Long-time fans will especially agree with that sentiment.  And in doing so, they will agree even more that the use of both the original Japanese and American footage for this season completes the season, making all the more reasons for fans to add this set to their collections.

The mix of Seijuu Sentai Gingaman’s original video with Saban’s live and CG elements is a standard that long-time Power Rangers fans will definitely like about this season.  The balance of the show’s writing elements adds even more reason for audiences to pick up this box set when it hits stores.  It’s nice to see that the writers didn’t alienate the Power Rangers’ original audiences even in creating a new branch of the Power Rangers legacy.  Rather they honored those fans and the legacy of the original series while bringing in a whole new generation of audiences with this season.  The very fact that Shout! Factory presented this season in its entirety solidifies the whole thing, proving without a doubt that this is a must have for any Power Rangers fan. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: The Complete Series will be available in stores and online Tuesday, March 10th. It will retail for $24.95 but can be pre-ordered online now for a reduced price of $19.99 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-lost-galaxy-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online at:


Website: https://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: https://www.shoutfactoryofficial


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The Good Times Do Indeed Roll On JD McPherson’s New LP

Courtesy:  Rounder Records

Courtesy: Rounder Records

Singer/Songwriter JD Mcpherson recently released his latest full-length studio release Let The Good Times Roll. The album, his second, was released via Rounder Records. McPherson’s new album is an aptly titled record. That is because throughout the course of the album’s eleven tracks and thirty-six minutes, McPherson offers audiences an album that will have them dancing and singing from the album’s upbeat title track to its Buddy Holly-esque ‘Bridgebuilder’ all the way to the album’s full-on 1950s style rocker ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American.’ And those are just a few of the reasons that audiences will love this album, too. There is not one bad song throughout this record from beginning to end. It takes the classic vibe established in his 2012 debut album Signs and Signifiers and takes it another step forward incorporating more influence from the rock and r & b acts that continue to make the 1960s one of music’s greatest eras ever. The end result is an album that is deservedly one of this year’s early contender’s for a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson has crafted in his second full-length album Let The Good Times Roll a record that is quite aptly titled. That is because from start to finish, McPherson does indeed let the good times roll. Every performance will leave a smile on listeners’ faces and will leave listeners wanting to listen to it again once it’s done. That is evident right from the album’s opener and title track. ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ is a great rocker that harkens back to the days of John Fogerty and others of his ilk. McPherson’s guitar work and drummer Jason Smay’s driving tempo set the song’s backbone. The additional piano line makes that backbone even stronger. McPherson’s soulful vocals complete the song as he sings, “I miss you so/Every time I fall away/I miss you so/Every time I fall away/Let the sky open up little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and/Let the good times roll.” He goes on to sing to his figure of interest, “Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Why can’t you see/I’m standin’ at your door/Open your home little darling/Follow me when I go/Let the sky open up and let the good times roll. It should be noted that this is not a cover of the 1956 song written by Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee. That aside it is still an enjoyable song in its own right. Presented here is a man telling a woman how much he needs her and loves her. But it’s not done in the classic almost begging style. Rather, there’s a full on swagger to the song here. It’s a swagger that is—again—certain to have any listener on their feet, singing and dancing happily right to the last moment and just as anxiously waiting to see what he has in store next.

What McPherson offers to his audiences after the album’s opener/title track is nothing short of impressive. Every one of the songs that make up this album is well worth its own mention. That includes even the softer, slower sounds of ‘Bridgebuilder.’ The seemingly Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced song will instantly take listeners familiar with music of the era back to the 1950s both with its musical and lyrical side. Audiences can almost see McPherson and his band mates—Jimmy Sutton (upright bass), Jason Smay (drums), Ray Jacildo (keyboards), Doug Corcoran (Saxophone, guitar, keyboards)—on some high school stage a la Back to the Future performing for a group of teenagers while their teachers and parents chaperone the school dance. That is not necessarily meant in a negative way. Rather, the rendition is so pure that it creates that vivid image in one’s mind. That image becomes even more vivid as McPherson sings, “I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/I’ll build something that is real and true/Building bridges to you/Bridgebuilder, bridge builder build me a bridge/Draw a straight line on the water/Bridge builder, bridge builder/The waters are deep/Fear I may sink to the bottom/Waiting in shadow/In old merry times/Dreaming of some father’s daughter.” The combination of those lyrics and the song’s classic 1950s style music creates a truly incredible song. It actually sounds like it came direct from the 1950s rather than just being some modern song recorded to sound like something similar to the music of that era. That speaks volumes of this song. It speaks, for that matter, just as loudly as the album’s opener and every other track on this disc. Because it does so, it proves ‘Bridgebuilder’ to be yet another wonderful addition to Let The Good Times Roll.

As is evidenced by both the Buddy Holly/Roy Orbison influenced ‘Bridgebuilder’ and the Jon Fogerty influenced opener/title track to Let The Good Times Roll, JD McPherson gives audiences plenty to like about his new album. They are definitely not all that there is to like about this album, either. McPherson and his band mates keep audiences entertained from start to finish on this album. And hearing the album’s rock and roll/r & b hybrid sound of the album’s closer ‘Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout The All-American’ listeners will agree with that sentiment. McPherson sounds almost like Little Richard here as he sings, “Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American/Knockin’ down walls like a bombardier again/Hair fallin’ down like a razor blade/Breakin’ every heart in every place you’re playing/Everybody talking ‘bout the All-American.” The sax and the drums coupled with McPherson’s work on the guitar and his vocal style make this song feel like something pulled right out of a time capsule that was buried decades ago. It is a solid and rocking final statement from McPherson and company that leaves the absolute best impact on listeners’ ears. Coupled with the rest of the album’s compositions—both those noted and not noted—it will leave an impact so strong that it will have listeners hitting play almost instantly to listen to the album again. That is how impressive this album proves itself. To have such a lasting impact on listeners means that it is definitely deserving of being called one of this year’s best new albums overall.

JD McPherson is currently touring in support of his new album. He will be at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, New York this Wednesday, February 25th for a sold out performance. From there, he and his band mates will wind their way through the Northeast before heading to the Midwest by way of Charleston, WV on March 8th. After those dates, the band will make its way down South beginning April 9th in Paducah, Kentucky. The band’s late spring schedule across the South includes a stop at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 23rd at 7pm. That performance date will see McPherson supporting country music superstar Eric Church. Even more tour dates follow that show. McPherson’s latest tour schedule can be found online along with all of the latest news from McPherson online at:

Website: https://www.jdmcpherson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jdmcphersonhistyle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jdmcphersonjr

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Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band Looking To Its Fans For Its Next LP

Courtesy:  Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Courtesy: Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is looking to fans to help fund its next album.

The band has released six albums, all of which were released independently. It has its own show on PBS called Lishy Lou and Lucky Too. The show in question is produced by the band’s own production company, meaning it puts its own money into the show. It has even won a Latin Grammy for its 2013 album fantastico. That album was the band’s first US release to win a Latin Grammy. As if these accolades aren’t enough, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band has been featured by no less than NPR’s All Things Considered, USA Today, CNN, Sprout TV, American Airlines, Univision, and many more outlets.

For all of the success that Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band has had over the years, it should be noted again that said success has come from the pockets of the band members’ own pockets. Now Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is looking to its fans to help fund its next album Adelante. The band is looking to its fans for help in part because while working on Adelante it suffered a heartbreaking setback. Someone broke into the band’s storage locker, stealing its instruments and destroying the set that it uses for its show on PBS. Sadly the band’s insurance apparently only covers a very minute portion of its damages and losses. So now it is asking its fans to be part of its new bi-lingual record’s creation. The money donated by fans will go toward purchasing new instruments and replace the set for its show. And what’s in it for fans that help make Adelante a reality? Fans can pick up autographed copies of the band’s albums, props from its show, private concerts, skype time with the band and pretty much anything else that fans could probably think up. Donation levels start as cheap as $15 and run as high as $15,000. Here’s how it breaks down:

For $15, fans will get an advance digital download of Adelante and monthly behind-the-scenes video journals. Also at this level, fans will get a digital download code for the album a month ahead of its release as well as monthly behind-the-scenes video journals from the band. Only forty of these offers are left.

At the $25 level, fans can get a physical autographed copy of Adelante from the band as well as a secret download code for the album and monthly behind-the-scenes video journals. Fans that donate at the $25 level will even get their name in the album’s liner notes along with that downloadable copy of the album. Supplies of both rewards at this level are limited.

From the $25, the level jumps to $40. At this level, fans can get a two-fer. Fans at this level can get one personalized copy of Adelante for a family member and a signed copy to give as a gift. The band will send out the gift copy personally with a card letting the recipient know who had it sent to them. Or both copies can be sent to donors for donors to send out themselves. Less than 20 of these are left.

The rewards increase at each donation level from here. Fans can find out what they can get for donating at each level at the band’s indiegogo website at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-album-adelante-lucky-diaz-the-fjb. And for all of the latest news on the album’s progress, fans can follow the band online at:


Website: https://www.luckydiazmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lucky-Diaz-and-the-Family-Jam-Band/182600891967

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

Boardwalk Empire’s Third Volume Is A Wonderful Musical Love Letter To Music’s Golden Age

Courtesy:  ABKCO Records

Courtesy: ABKCO Records

HBO’s hit drama Boardwalk Empire wrapped up its fifth and final season late last year. the series, which starred veteran actor Steve Buscemi, wrapped up after five seasons. The series’ final season. With the series at its end, its final season was released on DVD last month alongside its soundtrack, Boardwalk Empire Volume 3. It is still very early in the year. But it is safe to say at this point that Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 is one of this year’s best new overall albums. The reason that it is deserving of such high honor is the fact that listening to this record is like taking a musical trip back in time. And while that phrase is tossed around sometimes too often by critics (this critic included sometimes), this compilation of songs is one of those rare pieces that truly is wholly deserving of such note. The collection resurrects some of the greatest jazz songs of all time, reaching all the way back to the 1920s ad 30s for its track listing. The catch is that each of the record’s nineteen tracks is recorded by a modern act. Yet none of the songs has been updated. It would have been easy for the acts in question to put their own spin on each song. But they didn’t do that. They recorded the songs exactly as they were recorded so many decades ago. The only thing that the songs on this record is missing is the static of an old vinyl. If that had been there, it would have pushed the record over the top. Even without that static, the songs still comprise a record that any true lover of jazz will appreciate and one that should be on every critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall come December. That is just part of what makes this record a must hear for any true-blooded lover of jazz. Another reason that audiences will appreciate this collection so much is the fact that while classic jazz songs make up the majority of its body, there is also a light touch of the blues and even some classic Latin-tinged pieces, too. That mix of musical styles coupled with the fact that the songs themselves are true classics makes Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 all the more enjoyable. Last but not least worth noting of this collection is the fact that while it is a soundtrack, the songs that make up the record make it just as solid a stand-alone collection as a companion to the series’ recently released fifth and final season DVD box set. Listeners can enjoy this record without having to have any prior knowledge of Boardwalk Empire’s five-season run on HBO. Rather they can just enjoy it as the collection of classic jazz tunes that it is. It is just as important a factor in the record’s success and enjoyment as the songs themselves and their renditions. All things considered, Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 proves in the end with its full complement of songs to justifiably be considered an early contender for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall.

Soundtracks for movies and television series far too often are little more than a bunch of songs tossed together for the purpose of bringing in extra money for a given movie studio or television company. The mass of soundtracks that meet that mantle is so extensive that it would be impossible to name all of the soundtracks that never should have seen the light of day. For all of the forgettable soundtracks that are churned out each year, there are actually some rare diamonds in the rough among that mass. Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 is one of those rare diamonds. It proves to be one of those rare diamonds first and foremost because of its songs. The songs collected for this latest (and final) volume of songs from HBO’s hit drama is a wonderful arrangement of songs that any true lover of classic jazz will appreciate. The songs that make up Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 reach all the way back to the 1920s and 30s, music’s golden era. From Elvis Costello’s take of Harry Barris and Gordon Clifford’s timeless I Surrender Dear as the record’s opener to Margot Bingham and David Mansfield’s take of Ma Rainey’s blues classic ‘Farewell Daddy Blues’ to Bingham’s cover of the equally timeless Fabian Andre/Wilbur Schwandt/Gus Kahn song ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me,’ to all of the record’s other songs, the record in whole presents itself like a musical trip back in time. That phrase is thrown around sometimes too often by critics. But in the case of this record, it is deservedly used. From start to finish, every one of the songs that makes up the record’s body was recorded in the exact same fashion as in their original recordings. There was no attempt by any of the artists to put their own spin on the songs. This makes the songs feel like they were pulled right from the original masters instead of having been re-recorded by modern artists. The only thing that is lacking in the presentation of the record’s songs is that classic sound of static. Even without that sound though, the quality of the songs is reduced by a factor of zero. That is how incredibly believable these songs are in their presentation and why the songs and their presentation combine to make the most important part of Boardwalk Empire Volume 3’s enjoyment and success.

The songs that were chosen for Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 and the uncanny similarity to their original recordings are collectively the most important part of the record’s enjoyment and overall success. For all of its importance, just as important to note of the disc’s success is its overall makeup. Classic jazz songs make up most of the record’s body. But they are not all that audiences get in this collection of songs. As noted perviously, there is a touch of the blues in Margot Bingham and David Mansfield’s cover of Ma Rainey’s ‘Farewell Daddy Blues.’ It is an acoustic performance that must be heard to be fully appreciated. There is also a Latin-tinged piece in ‘Son Que Quita Las Penas,’ which translates roughly to ‘They are that it removes penalties.’ And ‘The Yodeling Chinaman’ offers its own interesting sound that adds even more interesting musical variety to the record. The combination of those varied sounds across the album’s nineteen songs and sixty-two minutes coupled with the incredible presentation of each song makes even more evident why any jazz purist will love this record and why it is one of this year’s best new albums overall.

The songs that make up the body of Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 display a wonderful window into the music industry’s past. They take listeners on a musical trip back in time to the business’s golden era more so than any classic collection since. Making this collection of songs even better is the fact that the artists that re-recorded them for the collection didn’t try to make some artsy remake in their own vision. Rather they stayed true to the original rendition of each song. Save for the static in the background, the end result of the recordings is a group of recordings that sounds like it was lifted right from the original masters. Both aspects of Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 are of equal importance to the record’s presentation. As important as each element proves to be to the whole, the fact that audiences don’t have to have any knowledge of Boardwalk Empire’s televised side in order to enjoy these songs. Unlike so many other soundtracks released every year in partner with their movies and television series, this collection of songs wasn’t aligned in time with its show’s episodes. So there’s no need to have any background information on the show in order to enjoy the songs. A basic understanding and appreciation of jazz history is all that audiences need. And even for those lacking even that understanding and appreciation, it makes for just as solid a starting point for anyone wanting to learn about the history of both music and jazz more specifically. It’s yet another way that Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 proves to be one of this year’s best new albums overall.

Boardwalk Empire Volume 3 is one of this year’s best new albums overall. Given, it is a soundtrack for all intents and purposes. But it is still deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall. That is because the songs presented on the record make this recording more than any before, a musical trip back in time to a better age. The renditions of the presented songs pay full tribute to the original songs. And audiences don’t even have to have any previous knowledge of the series in which they are utilized. That’s because the songs aren’t used in that same chronological fashion as songs that comprise other soundtracks. They are just great classic jazz tunes. They are a window into a better era of music. Because audiences don’t have to be fans of the series from which they were lifted, and because of the fact that they weren’t altered in their new versions from their original performances, they are made all the more enjoyable. The very fact that they have been resurrected for a whole new generation of music lovers is the ultimate statement of love and respect for their legacy. Whether for one of the aforementioned reasons or all of them, any listener that gives this recently released soundtrack/compilation will agree that it is indeed one of the best new albums of 2015. It is available now in stores and online.

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

Bonz Speaks Loud And Clear On Broken Silence

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Twenty years ago, Stuck Mojo released its first ever full-length album. That album, Snappin’ Necks would be only the beginning for the Atlanta, Georgia-based rap-metal band. The band would go on from there to release five more albums an EP and a hits collection in the form of Violate This (2001). Of those recordings, front man Bonz handled vocal duties on all but two. That is because after the release of 2000’s Declaration of a Headhunter, Bonz parted ways with his band mates in what was allegedly a less than amicable split. He would go on to be replaced by Lloyd “Lord” Nelson on Southern Born Killers (2007) and The Great Revival (2008). Late last year though, Bonz and his band mates seemingly buried the hatchet and reunited for what many thought would be a one-time only show in Atlanta. Though, now the band also has another show planned for April 17th in Charlotte, North Carolina. Word is that this reunion is in fact just temporary as Ward and company still have their own projects going on as does Bonz.  Bonz has his own band bearing his name and a new album to boot titled Broken Silence. That album was released last week via Pavement Entertainment. And for anyone that is familiar with Stuck Mojo’s sound, those fans will especially appreciate Broken Silence as it stylistically bears quite the similarity to Stuck Mojo’s ’95 debut from beginning to end. That is clear right from the album’s lead single and title track in which Bonz tackles the fallout from his split with his brothers in the self-proclaimed four piece of doom in the early 2000s. ‘Sinister Grin’ proves to be just as deeply personal in examining its lyrical content. There is a lot of pent-up emotion behind this song. He even goes after his naysayers in the heavy, headbanger ‘Take It Personal,’ essentially saying he isn’t ignoring them and that it’s them that makes him stronger. It’s another piece proving that regardless of whether he is recording and performing with his brothers in Stuck Mojo or with his new family in his own band, Bonz hasn’t lost any of the fire that was there nearly three decades ago when Stuck Mojo first formed. Whether for the songs noted here, for those not noted, or for the record in whole, Broken Silence proves to be a record that any long-time fan of Stuck Mojo and/or Bonz himself will appreciate.

Broken Silence is, as noted, a record that any long-time fan of both Stuck Mojo and Bonz will appreciate. That is due in large part to the coupling of a sound that harkens back to Stuck Mojo’s 1995 debut Snappin’ Necks and lyrical content throughout that exhibits quite the emotion and depth. The album’s title track is a prime example of how that mix of musical firepower and lyrical depth makes the album worth the listen. ‘Broken Silence’ utilizes song titles and lyrics from all of the albums that Bonz recorded as a member of Stuck Mojo to take on the fallout from his split with the band after the release of its album Declaration of a Headhunter in 2000. Right from the song’s outset, the similarity to Stuck Mojo’s early days becomes fully evident through the work of guitarist Curt Taylor, drummer Erin Stagg, and Bonz’s own vocal delivery style. The anger and frustration that obviously built up after Bonz’s split with his former band mates is just as evident in the ferocity of his delivery. He raps in this song, “Who’s the devil/On a pigwalk/Crooked figurehead saying it’s all my fault/Been violated/Even changed my ways…snappin’ necks from beginning to the end…Mental meltdown/Twistin’ my game/Monkey behind the wheel deciding my fate/Don’t get started/You left that out/Step up, step up what’s next out your mouth.” Bonz continues in this same fashion, citing Stuck Mojo’s body of work to verbally assault one of his former band mates. Anyone with any knowledge of the split between Bonz and the rest of the band can only assume that the target of Bonz’s lyrical attack here is guitarist and Stuck Mojo founding member Rich Ward. Making the song even more interesting is the very fact that now Bonz and company have reunited at least temporarily. So one can’t help but wonder if the animosity expressed by Bonz has been tempered at least to a point and the proverbial hatchet buried. Regardless it makes for a solid anchor to Broken Silence and an equally look into the fallout from Bonz’s split from Stuck Mojo for any fan of both sides.

Broken Silence’s title track makes for quite the introduction to Bonz’s new album. This is especially the case for any fans that might have wondered what Bonz has been up to and where he has been ever since the two sides split. It serves as such a solid introduction (or re-introduction) for audiences because of it searing honesty and equally powerful musical side. For all of the musical and lyrical punch offered throughout the course of the song, it is just one of the album’s songs that exemplifies the emotions that Bonz has felt over the years. The album’s opener ‘Sinister Grin’ displays just as much musical and emotional power. Bonz raps against Curt Taylor’s full throttle shredding and Erin Stagg’s machine gun-precision drumming, “How do I smile without a sinister grin/I grab my pen and then the lyrics begin/How do I smile without a sinister grin/The enemies used to be my friends/How do I smile without a sinister grin/I grab my mic and the lyric then begins/How do I smile without a sinister grin/Friends, success imagine my chagrin/I’m reminiscing about those b!&@%#$/Steady a$$ kissin’ always on a mission/I hear ‘em hissin’, swearin’ and wishin’…” He goes on in this similar fashion through most of the song, even going so far as to verbally stand up to the subject(s) of his verbal punches saying that he has nothing to hide unlike said figure(s). It could easily be a misinterpretation on the part of this critic. but considering the venom that he spit in the album’s lead single, this song seems to lyrically follow the same pattern, attacking his former band mates in Stuck Mojo. Of course that is again merely the interpretation of this critic. It would be interesting to find out the full story behind this song and see if it gels with that interpretation. Right or wrong, it still proves both verbally and musically to show even more just how much power Broken Silence boasts both musically and lyrically. And considering that, it shows even more why Broken Silence proves to be a good introduction and re-introduction to Bonz.

Both ‘Broken Silence’ and ‘Sinister Grin’ show in their own way what makes Broken Silence a solid introduction and re-introduction to Bonz and the music that he’s crafted since splitting from Stuck Mojo. They also tell quite the interesting story of what he’s gone through at least emotionally since those days. That is thanks to their mix of music and lyrics. Both songs serve as excellent examples of what audiences have to expect from Bonz and company on the band’s debut release for Pavement Entertainment. While both songs serve as excellent examples of what Broken Silence has to offer in their own right, the band offers another equally solid example of what makes Broken Silence a solid return for Bonz just past the album’s halfway point in the song ‘Take It Personal.’ Rather than focusing his pent-up emotions on his former band mates here, he puts his crosshairs on his naysayers in general. The musical backing offered by Bonz’s band mates in this song will make the purest of purist headbangers happy. [Curt] Taylor’s guitar line and Erin Stagg’s drumming in the song’s chorus conjure thoughts of certain sludge/doom bands while Don Leslie’s bass work expertly accents Bonz’s own verbal skills in the verses. Speaking of those verbal skills, Bonz adds his own impact to the song as he raps, ‘Here’s a middle finger/Now you got a clue/That I don’t give a damn who the hell are you/B-O-N-Z man you cannot boo/No we ain’t goin’ down and play the fool.” Bonz goes on in similar fashion throughout the course of the song’s nearly four and a half-minute run time, shooting verbal missiles at his critics and at those of his new band. Bonz’s stylistic approach in this song is almost methodical in the verses. He makes his point entirely clear throughout the verses without having to be forceful, saving his energy instead for the song’s chorus sections. The juxtaposition of the two vocal styles coupled with the work of Bonz’s band mates leaves no doubt as to why this song is one more solid addition to Broken Silence and one more part of what makes Broken Silence in whole an album that any fan of Bonz and/or Stuck Mojo will enjoy.

Broken Silence is a solid introduction and re-introduction to Stuck Mojo’s original vocalist. That is evident in the songs examined here. While all three songs play their own part in the success of Broken Silence, the album’s remaining seven songs–including the live take of ‘Take It Personal’ that closes out the album–each present their own examples as to why fans of both Bonz and Stuck Mojo will appreciate this record. Whether for those songs or the pieces noted here, the album in whole proves to be one in the end that any Stuck Mojo fan should hear at least once regardless of whether they are fans of the band or of its outspoken front man. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Broken Silence and any upcoming live dates from Bonz is available online now at:

Website: https://www.bonzband.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bonzband

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Indie Children’s Entertainer Nathalia Keeps Listeners Engaged From Here To There On Her Debut LP

Courtesy:  Nathalia Palis-McLaughlin

Courtesy: Nathalia Palis-McLaughlin

When she released her sophomore album Dream A Little last year, children’s entertainer Nathalia Palis-McLaughlin proved to be a surprisingly impressive artist. Apparently despite the talent and creativity displayed throughout the course of that album, the Colombian-born singer/songwriter still seemingly remains unsigned to any of the labels in question. That is surprising considering the evolution of Palis-McLaughlin’s sound on that album in comparison to her 2012 debut album From Here To There. Her Colombian roots are more equally evident on both records. But the more recent of the pair boasts a poppier, more mainstream sound than that of From Here To There. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with From Here To There. In fact it is quite the enjoyable record in its own right. Even with a different feel and sound in whole, From Here To There proves to be quite impressive. One example of what makes From Here To There so impressive comes halfway into the album in the form of ‘Muevete’ or ‘Move’ roughly translated. The song’s dance club feel is similar to ‘Shine,’ which is included on Dream A Little. The catchy, laid back sound and feel of ‘Kindergarten Here I Come’ is another good example of what makes Nathalia’s debut album so impressive. Its musical side will entertain audiences of all ages while its lyrical content is sure to put a smile on listeners’ faces as it encourages young listeners getting ready to go off to kindergarten for the first time. The gentle strains of ‘La Semana’ are unlike almost anything else presented on FHTT save perhaps for the album’s closer ‘Help The World.’ It seems to be a lullaby promoting the pleasures of being with family each day of the week after the rigors of school and work. Anyone not left with a smile on their face or even the slightest tear from their eye after hearing this song has no heart. All three songs show in their own way why FHTT is all the more reason that any label specializing in children’s music would benefit from having her on its roster. The same can be said of the album’s other tracks, too. All ten tracks together show clearly why FHTT is a record that listeners of all ages will enjoy *ahem* from here to there or rather from beginning to end.

Nathalia Palis-McLaughlin’s 2012 debut album From Here To There may not be as well-known as album’s from the likes of The Okie Dokee Brothers, Recess Moneky, The Not-It’s or other famed names from the world of children’s entertainment. Despite that, it is still a record that proves to be just as entertaining as those acts’ albums and her own 2015 sophomore release Dream A Little. From beginning to end, the album’s ten-track body will keep listeners of all ages fully engaged with its mix of musical and lyrical content. One of the strongest examples of what makes this album such a success is the album’s infectious ‘Muevete.’ The title translates roughly to “move.” It’s a fitting title considering the song’s dance club vibe. Nathalia sings to her listeners about “moving” their hands, feet, and whole bodies to the beat. Even without a booklet to decipher the song’s Spanish lyrics, the English lyrics make up for that lack, and prove the song to be the main anchor to this album. This is especially the case when said lyrics are partnered with the song’s danceable beats. It is the album’s anchor. but it isn’t the only good example of why audiences will enjoy FHTT. The laid back vibe of ‘Kindergarten Here I come’ is another good example of what makes FHTT so enjoyable.

‘Muevete’ is a solid anchor for FHTT. Its danceable beat and matching lyrics make it a great first impression for anyone not yet familiar with Nathalia’s music. Much as with ‘Shine’ from Nathalia’s 2014 sophomore album Dream A Little, this song bears a slight simialrity to fellow Colombian singer/dancer Shakira’s work. So it makes sense that it is such a strong anchor for FHTT. It’s just one example of what makes this album so enjoyable, though. The laid back vibe of ‘Kindergarten Here I Come’ is the polar opposite of that song. Yet in its own way, it proves to be just as positive an example of what makes FHTT so enjoyable. While the 2015- 2016 school year is not yet over, any parent with a child preparing to enter Kindergarten in the 2015 – 2016 school year (or any school year for that matter) will find plenty of value in this song when they start preparing their children for their very first day of public school. Nathalia sings over the song’s seeming mix of R&B and jazz, “I’m growing/Taller/Taller every day/I’m growing/Smarter/Smarter every day/Kindergarten here I come/It’s gonna be fun/I think I’m gonna learn to ride a police car/I think I’m gonna learn to do the hula hoop/I think I’m gonna learn to tie my shoes/Kindergarten here I come/It’s gonna be fun.” She is singing of all the great new things that children will experience when they go off to Kindergarten. It is a wonderful way for any parent to help his or her child/children overcome the natural fears and doubts that come with preparing for that new stage in their lives. If only for that reason alone, ‘Kindgergarten Here I Come’ shows exactly why it is such a solid example of what audiences can expect from FHTT. The song’s positive lyrics set alongside its equally easy-on-the-ears musical side makes it even more a welcome addition to FHTT. As impressive as that combination of music and lyrics makes this song, it still is not the last example of what makes FHTT such an enjoyable record and Nathalia an impressive artist in her realm. The album’s seeming lullaby ‘La Semana’ rounds out the reasons that any family will want to add this album to their CD collection. The song is a gentle piece that while sung entirely in Spanish seems to translate with just enough ease for even the most novice Spanish-speaking audiences to enjoy.

Both ‘Kindergarten Here I Come’ and ‘Muevete’ show in their own way why From Here To There is so enjoyable even for an independent release. They both present their own sound unlike the other and lyrical content that stands out just as much. One touts the joys of dancing and moving while the other serves as music therapy of sorts for young listeners counting the days to their first day of Kindergarten. With such creativity and originality, both songs show why FHTT is just as enjoyable as any record released in recent years by Nathalia’s more well-known counterparts in the world of children’s entertainment. The album’s seeming lullaby style song ‘La Semana’ is another excellent example of why FHTT is such a solid recording. The entire song is sung in Spanish. But those with even a rudimentary understanding of the Spanish language can pick out enough words to know that the song touts the pleasures of being with family after a long week in school and at work. The gentle strains of Nathalia’s guitar coupled with an equally gentle piano line will leave a smile on any listener’s face and a tear in those same listeners’ eyes. Anyone not left smiling or even tearing up even the slightest from this song has no heart. It is just one more part of the whole that makes FHTT a record that deserves so much more credit than it has received since its original release three years ago in 2012.

‘La Semana,’ ‘Kindergarten Here I Come,’ and ‘Muevete’ are all excellent examples of why From Here To There proves to be one of the best children’s albums that most families have likely never heard. They aren’t the only good examples of what makes FHTT so enjoyable for listeners, either. The other seven tracks that make up the album each add their own enjoyment to the record, too. Whether for those songs or for those mentioned here, every family will agree that From Here To There is an album that is far more deserving of credit than it gets. It can be ordered online direct from Nathalia’s website at https://www.nathaliamusic.com/buy.html along with her latest release Dream a Little. More information on both of these albums, Nathalia’s latest tour dates, updates and more is available online now at:

Website: https://www.nathaliamusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathaliapalismusic

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

Dragonforce Releasing First-Ever Live Recording This Summer, Celebrating With Special Contest For Fans

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records/Revolver Magazine

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records/Revolver Magazine

Dragonforce will release its first ever full-length live DVD this summer. And in anticipation of its release, the band is holding a special contest for fans.

Dragonforce will release its first-ever full-length live recording this summer. The band will release In The Line of Fire on Tuesday, July 14th through its label Metal Blade Records. It will be available on Blu-ray and 2DVD/CD combo pack. The footage for the recording was shot during the band’s Ultimate Stage headline show at the 2014 Loud Park Festival in the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. One of the songs included on the band’s upcoming recording is the hit song ‘Three Hammers.’ Audiences can check out that performance online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIv3cmvZRTI. When asked why the band waited until this point to release its first live recording, guitarist Herman Li responded, explaning that the band didn’t just want to toss out some random, tossed-together recording. The band wanted it done “right” as Li noted. He went on to explain that the band felt that it had enough material at that point to put out a recording that really represented the band in terms of its body of work. “We always held the opinion that if we ever did a DVD we wanted to do it properly,” he said. Now, having released six studio albums we thought we had a great cross section of material to pick from and we knew the facilities at Loud Park made it a great place to film a show. Everything just came together and we’re very pleased with the results and hope the fans will be also”.

In celebration of the DVD’s upcoming release, the band has teamed up with its label and Revolver magazine to win a mega-prize pack of swag from Dragonforce, Ibanez, Metal Blade Records, and Razer. The prize pack includes: a signed, stage-played Ibanez guitar from Herman Li, a signed drum head, t-shirts, One (1) pair of Razer Kraken Forged headphones, Razer keyboards and more. Fans can enter the contest now online at http://www.revolvermag.com/news/enter-to-win-the-ultimate-dragonforce-prize-pack.html.

Dragonforce is currently touring in support of its latest full-length album Maximum Overload, its sixth full-length recording. The band is currently scheduled to perform live this Tuesday, February 17th in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tuesday night’s performance will be followed by performances in Wellington, New Zealand and Auckland, New Zealand on February 18th and 19th respectively. From there, the band is schedule for a six-date string of performances across Australia before heading to South America beginning March 4th. A North American tour with Kalemot is also planned for this spring. That tour is expected to kick off April 27th in Baltimore, Maryland and run through May 23rd in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The band’s current North American tour schedule is listed below.

Tour w/ Kamelot

04/27 Baltimore, MD Soundstage

04/28 Philadelphia, PA The Trocadero

04/29 New York, NY Webster Hall

05/01 Worcester, MA The Palladium

05/02 Montreal, QC Metropolis

05/03 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theater

05/05 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall

05/06 Joliet, IL Mojoes

05/07 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights

05/09 Winnipeg, MB Garrick Centre

05/10 Saskatoon, SK Louis Pub

05/11 Calgary, AB MacEwan Hall Ballroom

05/12 Edmonton, AB Union Hall

05/14 San Francisco, CA The Grand Ballroom at the Regency

05/15 Anaheim, CA The Grove

05/16 Tempe, AZ Marquee Theater

05/18 Denver, CO Ogden Theater

05/20 Austin, TX Emos

05/21 Birmingham, AL Iron City Live

05/22 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Civic Theatre

05/23 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues (Orlando)

Fans can check out the band’s full tour schedule and all of its latest updates online at:

Website: https://www.dragonforce.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragonforce

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