Nathaniel Rateliff And The Nightsweats Surprise In A Big Way With Their Debut LP

Courtesy:  Stax Records

Courtesy: Stax Records

The self-titled debut record from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is one of the most intriguing albums to be released so far this year. The Denver-based band’s eleven-song set mixes classic soul and R&B sounds with modern lyrics to make an album that will grow on audiences increasingly with each listen. And with each respective listen, audiences will increasingly agree that this album is in its own way one of the best new albums of 2015. One song that proves that argument is the album’s lead single ‘S.O.B.’ This infectious, up-tempo piece was a perfect choice for a first impression for the band and if the band lives on past its debut album, will most certainly go on to be a fan favorite years down the road. That is the case thanks to both its musical and lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is just as enjoyable of an example of how much this album has to offer listeners. It does so in exactly the same way as the album’s lead single, too. The same can be said of ‘Look It Here.’ The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics stand out against so many songs of lost love that one can’t help but note its enjoyment. It’s just one more example of what makes the self-titled debut LP from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats a solid start for the band. That is not to discount the album’s other songs by any means. Any one of the songs included in this record could be used as examples in their own right. It just so happened that these three are the ones that this critic found served as the album’s best trio of representative tracks. Collectively speaking, all eleven songs (S.O.B. is actually included both in a “clean” version and a regular version making for twelve tracks but eleven songs) come together to complete an album that is one of the year’s best new overall albums.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut album is one of the year’s best new overall albums and one of its most intriguing to be released so far. That is thanks to the mix of soul and r&B influences that flow throughout the record’s eleven songs. Given the Denver-based band is not the first to exhibit such influences in its music. But there is something about the combined talents of the band’s members–Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Mese, Luke Mossman, Mark Shusterman, Wesley Watkins, and Andy Wild–and those of the album’s production that make this record feel like it was sent through time direct from music’s golden era. That is made clear in the album’s lead single, ‘S.O.B.’ The infectious, up-tempo pieces instantly conjures thoughts of Little Willie John, The Temptations, and so many others from that era right from the song’s outset. The steady humming and clapping will have listeners do the same along with Rateliffe and company while happily tapping their feet in time, too. Rateliff’s gravelly vocal style makes the song even more enjoyable as he sings, “I’m gonna need someone to help me/I’m gonna need somebody’s hand/I’m gonna need someone to hold me down/I’m gonna need someone to care/I’m gonna writhe and shake my body/I’ll start pulling out my hair/I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you and nobody’s gonna give a damn.” When one really takes the time to examine this verse (and the song’s second verse) the song really takes on a whole new identity. That is especially considering the driving energy exuded in the song’s verses and even more frantic energy released in the chorus. The combination of that varied energy and the song’s lyrical content leads one to interpret this song less as just an upbeat, radio ready single but something much deeper. Rather, the combination of said elements presents the song as one that presents a subject at the point of revelation, realizing that he (or she) has a problem. It is inferred that said problem is addiction via the song’s chorus in which Rateliff sings “Son of a b****/Give me a drink/Won’t more night/This can’t be me/Son of a b****/If I can’t get clean/I’m gonna drink my life away.” If this is indeed the case–that the song is centered on a person that is battling some personal demons–then the musical content set against such lyrics is an original approach to such a topic. One can almost see this person on the verge of going through withdrawal as he or she sings the noted lyrics. Of course this is all just the interpretation of this critic. Other listeners could easily make their own conclusions in hearing it for themselves. Speaking of which, audiences can hear it for themselves online now via the band’s official website http://www.nathanielrateliff.com. Regardless of the song’s true meaning it can be said that its ability to catch listeners’ ears, hold them from start to finish, and generate so much discussion around its mix of musical and lyrical content shows exactly why it is such a solid first taste of this record and an equally solid example of why the record in whole is one of the year’s best new albums overall.

‘S.O.B.’ shows via its combination of musical and lyrical content why it is such a solid example of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ debut LP has to offer audiences. It is just one example, too. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is another clear example of what the band’s new album has to offer. That is because even with its equally clear old school soul and r&B influences, it still stands out both musically and lyrically from ‘S.O.B.’ and the rest of the album’s remaining tracks. The use of the horns and drums set against the song’s guitar line harken back to legends such as The Temptations, Ray Charles, and The Four Tops just to name a few. Just as impressive is the fact that Rateliff shows he isn’t just a one trick pony in regards to his vocal style. His delivery here is much smoother yet still has just as much strength as is exhibited in ‘S.O.B.’ All things considered here, the musical content presented in this song shows even more the breadth of the band members’ collective talents and in turn shows even more just how much the band (and the album in whole) has to offer audiences. It’s just one part of the song that makes it so impressive, too. The song’s lyrical content must not be ignored. In regards to its lyrical content, the song comes across as something of an introspective piece that looks back in an almost celebratory fashion of a one-time love. That can be argued as Rateliff sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can we be there/Oh, just think of the time/Thought of love so strange/Said you never knew/While I try my best/To cover our eyes/It’s a common way to blame and hide the truth.” The song’s second verse serves that argument even more as he sings, “Taking our time/ah/Just standing in the rain/Meaning what you said/ah/And mean it to me/All of these lies/oh/And never again/Come on say it now/It’s a game.” It’s as if Rateliff (or his subject) is looking back on a past relationship and rather than being sad about what was, the subject opted to look back with a more positive outlook. That is driven home as he sings in the song’s verse, “I know that some will say it matters but little, babe/But come on and mean it to me/I need it so bad/I needed to try/I need to fail/I needed your love/I’m burning away/I need never get old.” It could be the wrong take but it seems almost like Rateliff’s subject is telling the other person that she(?) kept him young and how much she both meant and means to him. Yet again, this could be wholly off the mark. Though, it can be hoped that it is at least somewhere in the ballpark. If it is at least close, then it can be said that it is a rarely taken approach to such a subject. And in turn such approach makes the song all the more enjoyable and that much more of an example as to what Rateliff and company have to offer listeners on their new album. It is not the last example of how much this record has to offer audiences, either. ‘Look It Here,’ which comes late in the album’s sequence is one more strong example of how much this record has to offer audiences.

Both ‘S.O.B.’ and ‘I Need Never Get Old’ are clear examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have to offer audiences on their debut full-length studio recording. While both songs are clear, solid examples of how much it has to offer, there is still at least one more example that can be cited. That example comes late in the album’s sequence in the form of ‘Look It Here.’ This song boasts just as much classic soul and r&b influence as any of the album’s other songs including those previously noted here. What’s really interesting though, is that even with its old school influences, it also boasts a more modern style sound throughout its verses while that old school influence is more evident in the song’s chorus. The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics in which Rateliff’s subject sings, “Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees begging please/Look it here baby I’m calling out/Crying now hear me, hear me plead” is completely unlike other songs today of its kind, lyrically speaking. It isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill, oh-woe-is-me songs about lost love. Rather the band’s approach here brings about thoughts of James Brown. That is made even more clear as Rateliff sings in the song’s main verse, “I got a love so hard I can’t stand it/And with a heart so weak and abandoned/You’ll have to bury this man/And if that’s what it takes for a love that must be proved/Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees beggin’ please yea/Look it here baby there’s no one else/Come on now hear me out.” It would have been so easy for Rateliff and his band mates to take that easy route and make a standard song about lost love. Being that they didn’t, it makes this song stand out proudly as yet another example of what makes the band’s self-titled debut such a strong first effort. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via the band’s official website along with ‘S.O.B.’ at http://www.nathanielrateliff.com.

‘S.O.B., ‘I Need Never Get Old,’ and ‘Look It Here’ are all clear and solid examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut record has to offer audiences. They are not the only songs included in the record that could be chosen as representatives for the record, either. Any one (or more) of the tracks included in this record could just as easily be used to exemplify just how enjoyable this collection of songs is from start to finish. That being the case, it can be said of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats that this album is one of the year’s most intriguing albums released so far this year as well as one of the year’s best new albums overall. It is available now in stores and online. Rateliff and company are currently touring in support of their new album and have a pair of dates scheduled in North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday November 10th and 11th in Carrboro and Asheville respectively. More information on the band’s debut album is available online now along with its current tour schedule and all of its latest news at:

Website: http://www.nathanielrateliff.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NRateliff

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Starz To Hoist The Flag Again This Fall

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Starz network will hoist the flag once again this fall.

Officials with Starz network announced this week that it will release the second season of its hit high seas action/drama Black Sails on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The second season of the Emmy Award-winning series picks up right where Season One left off. The crew of the Walrus is in a standoff with an army of Spanish soldier who stand in the way of a large trove of Urca gold. The events of Season One now see Flint and Silver being forced to team up in order to survive their ordeal. While the pair is away, a new group of pirates led by Ned Low has descended on Nassau. This leaves Eleanor Guthrie fighting to keep her hold on the region.

As Season Two progresses and tensions heighten, Charles Vane is faced with some difficult decisions. He must decide if he values Eleanor more or the respect of his crew. These distractions allow for a priceless treasure to be smuggled into Nassau. It is a treasure that is so invaluable that its discovery will have an immeasurable impact on everything and everyone that everybody knows.

Along with its full compliment of episodes, Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will also have more than an hour of exclusive bonus features, that also includes expanded commentaries from the show’s cast and creators, behind-the-scenes featurettes that center on the show’s stunt work and special effects, and more. The complete list of bonus material to be included in Black Sails: The Complete Second Season is listed below.

New Bonus Features:

Inside The World Of “Black Sails”
The Man O’ War
Expanding Worlds
High Seas Action
History’s Influence

Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The DVD set will retail for MSRP of $49.98 and the Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack for MSRP of $59.99. More information on Black Sails, including all of the latest news from the set, is available online now at:

Website: http://www.starz.com/blacksails

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacksails.starz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blksails_Starz

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PBS Takes Wing Next Month With Its New Avian-Centered Documentary

Courtesy:  PBS/New Hampshire Public Television

Courtesy: PBS/New Hampshire Public Television

PBS takes flight next month when it releases the new box set Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration.

PBS Distribution will release its new box set Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration on Tuesday, September 8th. The new two-disc set features five episodes that follow the migratory patterns of some of New England’s migratory birds. Hosted by Willem Lange, the program was produced by New Hampshire Public Television. Lange makes his way through both North and South America as he follows the birds. He meets a number of bird enthusiasts and experts along the way who work to track and protect the birds throughout their trips. Lange is an author and Emmy Award-winning host of New Hampshire Public Television’s Windows to the Wild series.

The set’s title episode opens the presentation. It is in this episode that Lange brings viewers along to meet members of the National Audubon Society at the organization’s annual Christmas Bird Count. The count takes members of the organization (and Lange) from New England all the way to the mountains of Ecuador and even to Cuba.

“Bird Tales” follows Lange as he meets people from all walks of life and finds out what it is about birds that makes them so devoted to birds.

The set’s third episode “Saving Songbirds” takes viewers along with Lange as he delves even deeper into his encounters with people of all ages working to protect migratory birds. This includes scientists that track the birds’ migratory patterns, coffee farmers that have instated bird friendly practices that protect the birds and their homes, and even school children in Vermont doing their part to bring trees back to the deforested regions of Costa Rica.

“Journey of the Broad-Winged Hawk” is the fourth program featured in Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration.” This program focuses centrally on the 4,500 mile migration of the Broad-Winged Hawk from New Hampshire to South America. Lange traces the hawks’ migration and meets those that follow their migration along the way.

Closing out this set is “Plight of the Grassland Birds. This program focuses on a variety of birds that call North America home and the danger facing their existence as their habitats are gradually disappearing more and more each year. It serves as a warning to audiences that something must be done to protect the birds in question.

Counting on Birds: Tales of Migration will be available on DVD on Tuesday, September 8th on DVD. It will retail for MSRP of $29.99 and can be ordered online now at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=67509596&cp=&sr=1&kw=counting+on+birds&origkw=Counting+on+Birds&parentPage=search. More information on this and other titles from PBS is available online now at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org

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

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Out Of The Vault: Halloween Is A Frightfully Fun Treat For Every Nicktoons Nostalgic

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Shout! Factory Kids/Nickelodeon

August is almost over and September is about to begin. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is right around the corner. With the unofficial start of the annual holiday season nearing once again audiences are going to start seeing any number of seasonally-themed DVDs and Blu-rays hitting store shelves if they haven’t already. While many of the DVDs and Blu-rays are the same ones that are seen every year, there are some new additions each year. One of the most notable of this year’s crop of new holiday-themed DVDs is Nickelodeon’s new Out Of The Vault: Halloween collection. This new collection of Halloween-themed classic Nicktoons episodes is one that audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the collection’s episodes. The collection features sixteen classic Nicktoons episodes pulled from five classic Nicktoons series. Their presentation is relatively well-balanced over the course of the disc’s roughly three and a half hour run time. The writing behind each of the featured episodes is just as important to the collection’s enjoyment as the episodes and their distribution. The writing incorporated into each of the episodes equal amounts and frights and fun. Rounding out the reasons that this brand new compilation is so much fun is the various animation styles of each series. It is a subtle factor. But it really shows in the bigger picture one of the most important parts of what once made cartoons great. That will be discussed at more length later. But it is just as important as any of the other reasons noted here. All things considered, Out Of The Vault: Halloween shows in the end to be one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and one more collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection.

Nickelodeon’s new holiday DVD Out Of The Vault: Halloween is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Holidays aside, it is also another collection that any “Nicktoons Nostalgic” will want to have in his or her own home collection. The main reason that it is such an enjoyable watch is its featured episodes. The episodes are not limited to just a small handful from one classic Nicktoon. Rather they are pulled from a healthy spread of the network’s classic animated series. Those series include: Hey Arnold!, Angry Beavers, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Rocko’s Modern Life, and CatDog. Each series is well-represented, too with four of the series being represented by three episode each and the fifth—Rocko’s Modern Life—being represented by four episodes. That brings the episode total to sixteen episodes and roughly three and a half hours of programming. In an even larger sense, what such a balanced representation does is give those that might otherwise not have any of the series’ previously released box sets the chance to finally own at least a part of the featured series and kick-start their collections. Keeping this in mind, the episodes presented in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection show that on their own, they collectively make a solid reason for this collection to be part of any Nicktoons Nostalgic’s home library.

The episodes featured in Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory’s new Nicktoons Halloween collection by themselves why this collection is one of the best of this year’s new crop of holiday DVDs and Blu-rays. Of course the episodes themselves are just one part of the reason that the collection proves to be so impressive. The writing that went into the episodes is another reason that this collection proves to be such a solid new release. “Arnold’s Halloween” is just one example of how the writing behind the collection’s episodes makes the collection in whole so much fun. This episode playfully pays homage to both to Orson Welles’ classic radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. It just adds a little bit of a spin that will have audiences of all ages laughing throughout the episode and will ultimately leave them wanting to watch it again not just during Halloween but during any time of the year. The Angry Beavers episode “The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up” shows doubly just how important the writing behind the collections episode is to the presentation in whole. The first way in which it does so with this episode is the very title of the episode. The title is a playful poke at the classic 1951 sci-fi flick The Day The Earth Stood Still. the episode itself pays tribute to all of the classic sci-fi/horror flicks that were churned out throughout the 1950s. Having Dag and Norbert actually become part of one of those classic films puts its own spin on those classics that will have older audiences and younger viewers alike laughing together at the inanity of it all. “This Is Your Brain on Ickis” is yet another example of how the episodes’ writing makes this collection so enjoyable. As with the noted Angry Beavers episode, the title of this episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters in itself an example of how its writing makes it so fun. The title is a playful homage to the 80s anti-drug campaign that told viewers “This is your brain on drugs” as it showed an egg frying in a pan. The episode itself shows the strength of its writing as Ickis shrinks down and takes over monster hunter Simon’s brain. The end result will have viewers laughing tears of joy. It is just one more example of how the writing behind the episodes featured in this collection makes the presentation in whole so enjoyable. There are plenty of other episodes featured throughout this collection that could be used as examples of the strength of the episodes’ writing. Those episodes and the ones noted here together show in whole why the writing behind each episode together with the episodes themselves makes Out of the Vault: Halloween a must have this Halloween for any Nicktoons Nostalgic.

The episodes featured as part of Out of the Vault: Halloween and the writing behind each episode both make for plenty of reason for any Nicktoons Nostalgic to add this DVD to their personal home DVD library. While both of the noted elements are clear reasons that this collection shines so brightly, the animation presented in each series proves to be just as important to the set in whole. Most people probably won’t pay that much attention to the animation style of each series presented in this DVD. But the reality is that the animation style of each series is just as important to the enjoyment of this collection as anything else. That is because it serves as a reminder of the artistic originality that once made cartoons so great. By comparison there is a troubling lack of that artistic creativity and originality in today’s cartoons. The series on television today by and large don’t even deserve to be called animated series being that they are cookie cutter creations made by computers rather than the human hand. Looking at the animation style of each presented series, it reminds audiences of the importance of putting one’s heart and soul into a cartoon rather than just moving a mouse and using a bunch of desktop tools. From the somewhat grainy look of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters to the softer design style of Hey Arnold! and CatDog to the rigidity of the animation in The Angry Beavers and even the almost free-flowing style of Rocko’s Modern Life the different animation styles within each series serves to give each series just as much of its own identity as the writing behind each series’ episodes. Both of those elements come together with the episodes themselves and their balance from one series to the next to make fully clear why Out of the Vault: Halloween is a must have for any Nicktoons Nostalgic and one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays.

Out of the Vault: Halloween is not the first Nicktoons compilation to be released this year by Nickelodeon and Shout! Factory. It is however, just as enjoyable as the companies’ previous compilation disc. The episodes featured in this collection and their balance from one series to the next are collectively one reason that it is so enjoyable. The largely laugh-inciting writing behind each series’ episodes is another reason that the collection proves so enjoyable. And the original, hand-drawn animation at the base of each episode rounds out the presentation. Each series’ animation reminds audiences of what once made cartoons so great. All three reasons considered together, they make Out of the Vault: Halloween one of the best of this year’s crop of new holiday DVDs and Blu-rays and a frightfully fun treat for every Nicktoons Nostalgic. It will be available next Tuesday, September 1st in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory and Nickelodeon is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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Dodgers, Cubs Take Center Stage This Weekend On ESPN’s SNB

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This Sunday night, ESPN’s flagship baseball broadcast returns to the west coast once more for a matchup of the Dodgers and Cubs.

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell will come live from Dodgers Stadium this Sunday night as the Dodgers host the Chicago Cubs in the closer of a three-game series between the NL foes that kicks off Friday night. Currently no information is available about who will take the mound for either team in Sunday’s game. The Dodgers currently lead the NL West division by a game and a half over the Giants while the Cubs sit third in the NL Central six and a half games back from the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis also leads the league overall at 79 – 45. Speaking of the NL Central, before the Dodgers take on the Cubs this weekend, they will look to end their five-game skid as they kick off a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds tonight in Ohio’s Queen City. Cincinnati is currently in the basement in the NL Central at 52 – 71 having just ended its nine game skid last night with a come-from-behind 12 – 5 win against the Detroit Tigers. Los Angeles is 25 – 36 on the road so far this season verses its far more impressive home record of 42 – 20 and has gone 4 – 6 in its last ten games.

ESPN’s SNB team of Dan Shulman, Curt Schilling, and John Kruk will b in the booth for the call for Sunday’s game. They will be joined on the field by reporter Buster Olney for additional commentary. Sunday night’s broadcast will be preceded, as always by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet. Adnan Virk will anchor the broadcast. He will be joined at the desk by analyst Aaron Boone and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian.

Those that won’t be near a television Sunday night can still catch that game live online via WatchESPN.

As an additional note, the rubber match in this weekend’s series between the Dodgers and Cubs will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio affiliates across the country Saturday evening at 8pm ET. Jon Sciambi will have the call for Saturday night’s game. He will be joined in the booth by Chris SIngleton for the broadcast.

All of the latest information on ESPN’s MLB coverage is available online now at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

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

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

ESPN To Carry Arena Bowl XXVIII Live This Weekend

Courtesy:  Arena Football League

Courtesy: Arena Football League

The Arena Football League will wrap up its 2015 season this weekend.

The AFL’s 2015 season comes to a close this weekend as the Jacksonville Sharks take on the San Jose Sabercats in Arena Bowl XXVIII. ESPN will have full coverage of the annual AFL title game. It will air this Saturday, August 29th at 7pm on ESPN.

San Jose dominated the AFL this season, finishing the season with a record of 17-1-0 while Sharks had a harder road to run. The Sharks finished the season second in the American Conference’s South Division with a record of 10-8-0. That was also good enough to put the Sharks in third overall in the American conference behind the Philadelphia Soul (15-3-0) and the Orlando Predators (12-6-0). Its rough road aside, Jacksonville still looks to be a valid challenger to the Sabercats. QB Tommy Grady finished the season third in passing in the league, throwing for 4,660 yards and going 402 of 597 passes with only 11 INTs. Derrick Ross led the league in rushing, compiling a total of 586 yards and 33 TDs while San Jose’s Erik Meyer finished a distant ninth just ahead of Orlando’s Bran Thompkins with 142 yards and 6 TDs. Jacksonville also led the league in receiving (Anothony Jones–2,087 yards, 38 TDs) and Sacks (Joe Sykes–18.5 sacks, 117 yards). the Sabercats on the other hand far outperformed the Sharks in tackles, INTs, and kicking on both sides of the ball. So this weekend’s AFL title game is apt to be an evenly matched game.

Coverage of this weekend’s season-ending title game is scheduled to begin at 7pm ET on ESPN. More information on the AFL and ESPN’s coverage of the AFL is available online now at:

Website: http://www.arenafootball.com

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

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com. 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.

Moock’s New Album Is All Kinds Of Enjoyable

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

2015 has been quite the fruitful year for the world of children’s music. New releases from veteran acts such as Recess Monkey, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and Josh and the Jamtones have joined releases from others such as Jazzy Ash, The Bazillions, and fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer among others to form a field that has offered up quite the selection of music for audiences of all ages. Now another veteran artist by the name of Alastair Moock has added yet another new release to this year’s field, making things even more interesting for those keeping track. The album in question, All Kinds of You And Me, comes only a few months after fellow veteran entertainers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released a similar album in the form of Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families. While the two acts’ new albums are similar in their lyrical topics, it can be said that Moock’s new album manages to maintain its own identity apart from that of Frink and Marxer’s new album thanks to the fact that it takes the foundation established by Fink and Marxer’s lyrics and builds on it with even more interesting topics. It also builds on the pair’s foundation with its mix of musical styles. That is the second reason that audiences will enjoy this album. Last but hardly least of note of this album is its run time. The album doesn’t even hit the one-hour mark. Rather it clocks in at forty-five minutes. The album’s longest track, its closer ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ comes in at just over five minutes. And the shortest comes in at just under the three-minute mark. That each of the album’s songs runs at a relatively normal time makes each one all the more apt to keep listeners of all ages locked in from the album’s opener to its end. Moock’s lyrical and musical approach to each number does just as much to keep listeners engaged. All three elements considered together show All Kinds of You and Me to be one of this year’s bravest and most confident children’s records. What’s more that confidence and bravery pay off in spades, proving it to be one more of this year’s best new children’s albums.

Veteran singer/songwriter Alastair Moock’s latest full-length studio recording All Kinds of You and Me is one of this year’s best new children’s albums. The twelve-track, forty-five minute recording is not the first of its kind to be released this year. Fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released an album in Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families only months before this album’s release. While the two albums are similar in regards to their lyrical content, they are also quite different. That is proven first through the fact that Moock doesn’t stick to just the concept of the different kinds of families that make up America’s population. He does cover this topic. That can’t be ignored. However, he doesn’t stop there. Instead he branches out paying tribute to Malala Yousefzai in ‘I Am Malala’ and even to Woody Guthrie in his cover of ‘This Land is Your Land’ and its narrative intro ‘You and Me.’ There’s even a playful little piece about the different holidays in the simply titled ‘Every Day’s A Holiday.’ While those songs each help to make Moock’s new album stand out among this year’s field of new children’s releases, the songs about families and America’s social norms do just as much to help it stand out. Moock tackles the rigid social norms and gender roles that dominate American families in the album’s opener ‘It Takes All Kinds,’ and in the two songs that follow, ‘PEOPLE’ and ‘You Might Be A Girl.’ These songs are brave to say the least. They take a similar track as that taken by Fink and Marxer. But unlike them he takes more of stand against those norms established by American culture in these songs. Every one of the songs noted here shows in its own way to play an important part in what makes All Kinds of You and Me a standout recording. While each of the noted songs plays its own role, that is not to say that the others don’t play a role, too. Quite the opposite actually. Each one of the album’s twelve total tracks plays its own part in the whole of the album’s impact with all twelve showing clearly why the lyrical approach to this album makes it one that every family should take in together. Any family that does will be glad that it did. That is because of the foundation for discussion that each song’s lyrical content forms. It’s just the starting point of what makes this record such an interesting listen. The musical approach taken by Moock throughout the record is just as important to its success and enjoyment.

The lyrical content of Alastair Moock’s latest LP is within itself plenty of reason for audiences of all ages to hear this record. That is because of the number of topics covered by Moock throughout the course of the album’s twelve tracks and forty-five minutes. He tackles the strict gender roles and social norms established within American culture in the album’s first three songs before going a little more playful as the album advanced. He even pays tribute to human rights and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai and to folk legend Woody Guthrie in the album’s closer among much more content. It is just one portion of what makes this record so enjoyable, though. The album’s musical content makes it just as enjoyable. By and large, Moock presents a folksy, bluegrass style sound throughout the record. Though, he does break off at a few random points. The album’s opener presents a fun, rockabilly sound while ‘PEOPLE’ boasts a lighthearted Dixieland style sound. ‘You Might Be A Girl’ is just as enjoyable in regards to its music as it boasts something of an old school R&B influence. That is of course this critic’s own interpretation. And then there’s the dreamy, dulcet tones of ‘My Life(Is A Lot Like Yours)’ that will conjure thoughts of Allison Kraus and Norah Jones. That is a tribute to vocalist Jennifer Kimball’s extraordinary talents. ‘All In A Day’ also boasts that old school R&B influence. It conjures thoughts of Otis Redding. For all of the interest that the noted songs generates, the most intriguing of the album’s songs (in terms of their musical content) is ‘I Am Malala.’ The song largely boasts a gentle, beachy sound that conjures thoughts of Jimmy Buffett by and large. Though, interestingly enough the song switches things up in its final bars, sounding more like the opening bars of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ than that beachy sound that makes up the rest of its body. All of these examples together paint a rich musical picture that is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as that painted by the album’s lyrical content. The album’s musical and lyrical content taken jointly into consideration, they give listeners of all ages plenty of reason to hear this brave, enjoyable record.

Both the lyrical and musical content presented throughout the course of Alastair Moock’s new album make for plenty of reason for families to hear this record. While both elements are equally important to the whole of the record’s success and enjoyment, there is still one last element that should be examined in the whole of its presentation. That element is the record’s overall run time. The album clocks in at forty-five minutes. That is actually a relatively standard length both in regards to the realm of children’s music and that of music for adults. The album’s longest song is its closer, the cover of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land.’ It comes in at five minutes and three seconds. The album’s shortest song is its second track ‘PEOPLE.’ That song comes in at two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Some might ask what significance any of this plays in the grand scheme of the album. It significance is that when set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content together, it can help to determine just how long the songs (and the album in whole) are likely to keep listeners engaged. Being that the songs’ musical and lyrical content is not over the heads of its intended audiences and the songs themselves are in fact really standard length, it means a greater chance of keeping audiences’ ears from beginning to end. Sure, five minutes for a song–especially a children’s album–might seem like a lot. But the simple redundancy of the song’s chorus makes it (‘This Land is Your Land’) one that will definitely keep young listeners’ ears for the full length of its run time. That, friends, is the importance of the album’s run time. And on a smaller scale the run time of each of the album’s songs. Those run times, set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content, make one whole record that stands out against its counterparts within the realm of children’s music this year. In turn, the combination of all three elements makes this record one of this year’s best new children’s records.

All Kinds of You and Me is a record that can be said to be all kinds of enjoyable from beginning to end. That is thanks to the album’s mix of musical stylings and lyrical themes. The run times of each of the album’s twelve total songs makes a total run time that together with the album’s musical and lyrical content is sure to keep listeners fully engaged regardless of their ages. All things considered, All Kinds of You and Me proves in the end to be all kinds of enjoyable for listeners of all ages and in turn one of this year’s best new children’s records. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Alastair Moock’s official website at http://www.moockmusic.com. More information on All Kinds of You and Me is available online now along with all of the latest news from Alastair himself at:

Website: http://www.moockmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alastair-Moock-Music/43677062968

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlastairMoock 

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