Nick Perri Talks Nirvana In New “Episode” Of Premiere Guitar’s ‘Hooked’

Nick Perri, front man and namesake of Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves talked about Nirvana’s role in his life and in American culture in a new “episode” of Premiere Guitar‘s “Hooked” video series.

Perri said in the nearly six-minute video that he became a fan of Nirvana thanks in part to a member of his extended family. Who that family member is will be left for audiences to find out on their own. Additionally, Perri talked about the role the Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ played in his early development as a guitarist during the video.

Courtesy: Premiere Guitar/Nick Perri

In other news, the band announced on July 28, a new series of live dates. The band’s new tour schedule, which is in support of its album, Sun Via, is slated to launch Sept. 7 in the nation’s capitol. It is scheduled to run through Sept. 19 in Des Moines, IA, with dates in cities, such as Chicago, IL; Philadelphia PA and St. Pail, MN along the way.

The tour’s schedule is noted below. Tickets are available here.

Sept 7th – Lincoln Theatre – Washington D.C.
Sept 9th – Stone Pony Summer Stage – Asbury Park, NJ
Sept 10th – The Mann Center – Philadelphia, PA
Sept 11th – Capitol Theatre – Port Chester, NY
Sept 12th – Stage AE – Pittsburgh, PA
Sept 14th – Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
Sept 18th – Palace Theatre – St Paul, MN
Sept 19th – Vel Air Ballroom – Des Moines, IA

The band debuted the video for its latest single, ‘I Want You’ May 20 through American Songwriter. The premiere came approximately nine months after the band debuted the album’s lead single, ‘Feeling Good.’

Sun Via is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:




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Dirty Honey’s Self-Titled Debut LP Succeeds Because Of Its Fully Accessible Musical, Lyrical Content

Courtesy: Dirt Records

Independent rock and roll act Dirty Honey will release Friday, what is one of 2021’s most  welcome and best new pure guitar rock albums in its self-titled album.  The eight-song record has been the subject of a lot of hype since 2019, and it can be said that the album lives up to that hype and then some.  That is evidenced clearly through the 28-minute album’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes, all of which are fully accessible.  One of the songs featured in the album that serves to support the noted statements comes halfway through its nearly half-hour run time in the form of ‘Hold My Hand.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Another Last Time,’ which closes out the album, is another example of how its musical and lyrical content comes together to make the album so engaging and entertaining.  It will be discussed a little later.   ‘The Wire,’ one of the album’s early entries, is yet another example of the importance of the album’s collective content.  It will also be discussed later.  All three songs examined here are important in their own way to the success of Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes Dirty Honey a work that every guitar rock purist will enjoy.

Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album is a strong start for the up-and-coming neo-classic rock quartet.  The album’s success comes collectively through its musical arrangements and lyrical themes.  One of the songs that most notably exemplifies the noted statements comes halfway through the album in the form of ‘Take My Hand.’  The musical arrangement in this song is the polar opposite of that in the album’s lead single, ‘California Dreamin’’.  Not to get too far off topic, but ‘California Dreamin’ is not to be confused with the song made popular by The Mamas and the Papas way back in 1965.  rather, this song is its own, original composition.  Getting back on the matter at hand, the musical arrangement featured in ‘Take My Hand’ immediately lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Small Town Titans and Audioslave.  The Audioslave comparison should come as no surprise considering that Dirty Honey worked with producer Nick DiDia on this album.  DiDia worked with Tom Morello and his band mates in Rage Against the Machine (whose members eventually formed Audioslave after a split with front man Zach De La Rocha in 2000).  Clearly DiDia’s own creative influence came into play here, considering that history.  The guitar arrangement, the drums and bass all immediately mirror works from Audioslave.  Front man Marc LaBelle’s vocal fiery vocal delivery style and sound is itself even comparable to that of the late, great Chris Cornell here, making the Audioslave comparison even clearer.  For all that the song’s musical arrangement does to make it stand out, it is just a portion of what makes the song (and album) work.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical content also plays into that success.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Take My Hand’ stands out because of the discussion that it will generate.  It would seem that, in listening closely, the song’s lyrical content presents a message about letting go of the past and just moving forward in life.  This is inferred in the song’s lead verse, in which Labelle sings, “No time to change/The mistakes you made/And if I carry the weight/It’s the price I have to pay/But I wanted all your love/And I needed all your love…take my hand/You’ll understand/I’m just a sinner, too/There’s no way out/We’re headed south/I’m lonely just like you.”  This alone would seem to hint at someone telling another person that he/she knows about the other person’s past but that said person needs to just leave the past in the past because things in the present are what they are and that other person is not alone in his/her situation.  The seeming message continues in the song’s second verse, with LaBelle singing, “Hide in the light/Stories that you told/Paying no mind/To your wicked ways of old/When I wanted all your love/And I needed all your love/It drove me out of my mind/Take my hand/You might understand/I’m just a sinner, too/There’s no way out/We’re headed south/Don’t play me for a fool.”  Again, here is that seeming message of just letting go of the past, not letting it weigh one down mentally and emotionally.  LaBelle does not just come out and make clear if the overall lyrical theme has anything to do with perhaps a couple in a relationship or if this is just a general statement made from one person to another.  Regardless, the seeming message is relatively clear.  When it is paired with the song’s infectious musical arrangement, the whole makes the song a clear example of what makes the album’s musical and lyrical content so important to the album’s overall presentation.  ‘Another Last Time,’ which closes out the album, is another example of what makes Dirty Honey a successful presentation.

‘Another Last Time’ presents a musical arrangement that will itself find quite the interesting comparison.  The song’s opening bars lend themselves to comparison to Pearl Jam’s hit 1992 b-side, ‘Yellow Ledbetter.’  That comparison is brief, but is there.  From there, listeners will notice a sound and stylistic approach that is more akin to works from the Black Crowes, what with the combined use of the keyboard, choral type backing vocals, guitar, and drums.  It is a work that will appeal to any southern rock fan.  The tone in the song’s arrangement, that sense of melancholy, does well to help illustrate the familiar story featured in the song’s lyrical content.  The story in question comes across as being that familiar tale of the breakup of a romantic relationship, with the “last time” being metaphorical language for the one last go-round.

The breakup story is made even more as LaBelle’s subject adds in the song’s chorus, “Tell me what it takes/’Til you find your way back to me/And we’ll say/One last time/Another last time/Another go round and we say goodbye.”  That the song’s subject compares the woman in question to whiskey and rain, stating, “Lord knows when I’ll see her face again” in the song’s lead verse adds even more to the clear story.  He even notes that the woman has “Got me wondering/Why I’m holding on to this,” making even clearer, the noted statement.  This is a mournful, melancholy song about a relationship’s end, thus the lyrical and musical content.  The thing is that it is more of an introspective and retrospective look at that relationship.  This is something to which many listeners will relate, proving its accessibility.  When it is paired with the song’s equally accessible southern rock stylistic approach and sound, the whole continues to prove the role of the musical and lyrical content featured in Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album.  It is just one more example of that importance, too.  ‘The Wire,’ which comes early in the album’s body, is one more example of what makes the album’s collective content so important to its success.

‘The Wire’ presents a musical arrangement that is one of the most unique of the album’s compositions.  The song’s arrangement immediately exhibits influences from the likes of AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and even the aforementioned Black Crowes.  Even with so many distinctly different influences presented here, the band still manages to craft a song that is unique and that boasts its own identity.  The energy exuded by the song’s musical arrangement is important to examine because it helps to translate the message presented through the song’s lyrical content.

The message presented in ‘The Wire’ is that of a man who knows he needs to get away from a woman who is not good for him, but he can’t help but keep going back to her.  That is evidenced as LaBelle sings, “This wasn’t part of the plan/I  never wanted to see you again/I’m a fool for you/And those things that you do/Can’t get this picture of you out of my head…I’ve been walking the wire/And I’ve been walking your wire for too long…turn and walk away.”  This is just the song’s lead verse, but it makes relatively clear the noted inference.  The song’s second verse continues the statement as LaBelle sings, “Thought it would get better with time/But your kisses, baby/They still blow my mind/I’m a fool for you/And those things that you do/The way that you love me is such a crime.”  That last statement about the mistreatment in the relationship is the most telling.  Again, this is someone who knows he is in a bad situation, but can’t bring himself to just walk away.  He keeps getting drawn back into the toxic situation because “your kisses, baby/They still blow my mind.”  While the song is sung from the vantage point of a man, women could relate just as much.  That is because they get into the same situations.  To that end, the song’s lyrical theme proves its accessibility even more.  The energy exhibited through the song’s musical arrangement does well to help illustrate the subject’s mixed mindset.  Together, the two elements join to make this song another standout addition to Dirty Honey, showing once more why the record’s musical and lyrical content collectively makes it such a successful offering.  When this song and the other examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole leaves no question about the engagement and entertainment that the record offers.  All things considered, it leaves no doubt that the album is one of this year’s top new independent and rock albums.

Dirty Honey’s self-titled debut album is a strong first offering from the up-and-coming rock band.  It succeeds as much as it does because of its combined musical and lyrical content.  The record’s musical arrangements exhibit influences of some of the most talented and respected bands past and present throughout.  Even with those influences noted, the arrangements still boast their own unique, engaging, and enjoyable identities.  They are fully accessible and enjoyable compositions from one to the next.  The lyrical themes featured in the album’s featured songs are just as engaging and accessible as their musical counterparts.  All three of the songs examined here more than support the noted statements.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the songs featured in this record, the whole makes Dirty Honey a standout addition to this year’s field of new rock and independent albums.  Dirty Honey is scheduled for release Friday through Dirt Records.

More information on Dirty Honey’s new record is available along with the group’s latest news at:




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Christopher Shayne’s New EP Will Appeal Widely To Southern, Country Rock Fans

Courtesy: Carry On Music

Independent rocker Christopher Shayne is helping southern rock fans start off the new year on a good note.  The up-and-coming singer-songwriter is giving the noted audiences reason to be happy as 2021 opens with his new forthcoming EP Ten High.  Scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music, the seven-song record offers audiences something to like in its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangement offers its own appeal for listeners, too.  It will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the noted content rounds out the record’s most important elements, bringing everything together, completing the EP’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Ten High.  All things considered, they make Christopher Shayne’s new EP a record that guarantees its appeal to its target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a presentation that is certain to appeal to Shayne’s specifically targeted audiences from start to end of its 24-inute run time.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question all present a distinct southern rock approach and sound.  While each arrangement displays the same kind of approach and sound, the arrangements in whole do at least give audiences something unique from one song to the next.  Case in point is a comparison between maybe ‘Any Given Sunday’ to the album’s title track.  ’10 High’ gives audiences plenty of the noted southern rock sensibility at points throughout the song.  At the same time, the verses in this song present a clear AC/DC style influence.  The contrast of those two styles gives audiences something interesting in itself.  Meanwhile ‘Any Given Sunday’ presents more of a southern/country rock style approach.  Shayne’s own unique composition adds subtle influences from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and maybe Josh Turner.  Again, the influence is so subtle, but it is noticeable through a close listen.  When that whole is compared to the whole of the EP’s title track, it leads to more appreciation for the record’s musical arrangement. 

On another level, ‘Jus Get Drunk,’ which closes out the EP immediately lends itself to comparison to work that Zakk Wylde has composed with his side project Pride & Glory in terms of its acoustic approach and distinct southern rock sound.  Shayne’s vocal delivery style is even right up there with that of Wylde and other powerhouse vocalists.  By comparison, ‘Give A Damn’ is arguably the EP’s most intense arrangement.  It is yet another full-on composition, but there is so much fire and vim in this work.  It is comparable to works from virtually any southern rock outfit out there today.  The subtle addition of the banjo in the song’s opening bars adds its own unique touch to the whole of the song, too.  When one examines this song in comparison not only to ‘Just Get Drunk,’ but also to the rest of the EP’s arrangements, its power becomes even more evident.  What’s more, when all of the songs are considered together, the whole of that content makes for reason in itself for southern rock fans to take in this record.  That foundation is strengthened even more through the EP’s lyrical content.

The lyrical content that is presented in Ten High is just as accessible for listeners as the EP’s musical content.  The record’s opener and closer are both pretty clear in their content.  They center on drinking.  What is interesting to note is that where ‘Pour The Bottle’ presents a man who is having no regrets about just drinking his troubles away and tells the bartender, “I ain’t finished yet/Pour the bottle/I won’t have any regrets.  He even goes on in the song’s second verse to sing about drowning himself “in alcohol.”  So again, this is someone who is just giving that proverbial middle finger to the world, including obviously a woman that has wronged him.  ‘Jut Get Drunk,’ by comparison is the opposite end of that emotion.  This song is that person sitting at the bar, having gotten drunk, he talks about not feeling the same without some whisky and that he’d “rather just get drunk/’Cause I need a little time/To sort what’s in my mind/Just one more and I’ll be fine.”  So again, here are two songs that lyrically tell their own story.  The contrast in those two sides will ensure listeners’ engagement in itself. 

On another hand, ‘Getaway Babe’ changes directions but keeps listeners engaged with its lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical theme is that familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman.  He tells her to “come get gone with me” in the song’s chorus, while adding plenty of praise in the verses.  That familiarity and the song’s catchy musical arrangement pair to make the song in whole yet another standout addition to Ten High.  When it is considered along with the equally engaging story presented in ‘Just Get Drunk’ and ‘Pour The Bottle’ and the rest of the EP’s lyrical content, the whole of that content makes for plenty for audiences to enjoy lyrically, too.  The appeal that the EP’s lyrical content provides audiences is just one more part of what makes the EP stand out.  The sequencing of the content puts its own ouch to the record.  The sequencing of the record’s musical and lyrical content puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The sequencing of Ten High’s overall content brings everything together in this record, to complete the EP’s presentation.  As has already been noted, the EP’s opener and closer certainly seem to work hand in hand even if not intentionally.  That book-ending, generated through the sequencing is sure to present its own appeal.  Along the way, the sequencing changes things up, going from the seeming celebratory title track to the equally familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman in ‘Getaway Baby’ to the slightly introspective ‘Any Given Sunday’ and ‘Burn Me Down.’  The rather rowdy ‘Give A Damn’ changes things up even more before the EP closes out in the almost rueful ‘Just Get Drunk.’  The whole of the noted lyrical content ensures in itself shows that plenty of thought was put into the sequencing of this side of the EP.  Just as much thought was put into the sequencing of the EP in regards to its arrangements and their energies.

What more can be said of the sequencing of the EP in regards to its musical arrangements and their energy than it ensures the energy stays high.  The only time when the EP really pulls back is in its closer.  Other than that moment, ‘Burn Me Down’ is the only other point that presents any pull back in the record’s energy.  That pull back is noted in the song’s opening bars.  It only lasts that short time, too.  From those opening bars, things waste little time picking back up.  Overall, the sequencing of Ten High in regards to its energy ensures that aspect keeps listeners remain engaged just as much as that of the lyrical content.  It barely lets up at least until the EP’s finale.  To that end, it will keep listeners fully engaged and entertained.  Keeping this in mind, when this final touch is put to the EP, it brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  The result of that completion is that the record will appeal strongly to Christopher Shayne’s target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a record of which southern rock and country rock fans will think highly.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangement in question boast some very clear southern and country rock vibes while also making sure the arrangements do not just copycat one another.  There are subtle changes in each song that show a wide range of influences.  That alone helps the EP’s appeal.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangements adds its own touch to the EP’s presentation.  That is because the topics presented in the lyrical themes are accessible.  They are familiar topics for any listeners.  The sequencing of that musical and lyrical content brings everything together, completing its presentation.  Each item noted here does its own important part to make Christopher Shayne’s new EP appealing.  All things considered, the EP proves a work that will appeal equally to any southern and country rock fan.  Ten High is scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music.  More information on the EP is available along with all of Christopher Shayne’s latest news at

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Ellefson Debuts New Compilation’s Lead Single; Unveils Initial Track Listing

Courtesy: Combat Records

Audiences got their first preview of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s new eponymous rock project this week.

The band — Ellefson (bass), Thom Hazaert (vocals), Andy Martongelli (guitar), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), and Paolo Caridi (drums) — released the song ‘Wasted‘ Friday.  The song, a cover of the Def Leppard song, is the lead single from the group’s debut record, No Cover.

Ellefson’s cover of ‘Wasted’ features guest appearances from Frank Hannon (Tesla), Jacob Bunton (Mick Mars, Lynam), and Dave McClain (Ex-Machine Head, Sacred Reich).

The famed names featured on ‘Wasted’ are just some of well-known musicians and performers who make appearances on this record.  Also lending their talents to the album are equally well-known figures, such as Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Al Jourgensen (Ministry) and Gus G. (Firewind).

Along with debuting its lead single, Ellefson has also unveiled the initial track listing for No Cover.  The initial listing opens with a cover of Judas Priest’s timeless hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ and also features covers of songs such as AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff,’ Queen’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell.’

The album’s initial track listing is noted below.  Two tracks are still TBA. Pre-orders are open now.


1. Freewheel Burning (Judas Priest) ft. Jason McMaster, Gus G, Andy James, Dave McClain
2. Tear It Loose (Twisted Sister) ft. Eddie Ojeda, Dave McClain
3. Love Me Like A Reptile (Motorhead) ft. Doro Pesch, Greg Handevidt, Chuck Behler
4. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys) ft. Charlie Benante
5. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)
6. Wasted (Def Leppard) ft. Frank Hannon, Jacob Bunton, Dave McClain, Bumblefoot
7. Riff Raff (AC/DC) ft. Jason McMaster, Dave Lombardo
8. Nailed To The Gun (Fight) ft. Andrew Freeman, Russ Parrish, Jimmy DeGrasso
9. Not Fragile (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) ft. John Aquilino
10. Say What You Will (Fastway) ft. Troy Lucketta, Mark Slaughter
11. LOVE Machine (W.A.S.P.) ft. Dirk Verbeuren, Dave Alvin
12. Love Hurts (Nazareth) ft. Brandon Yeagley, Chuck Behler, Tyson Leslie
13. Sheer Heart Attack (Queen) ft. Bumblefoot, Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante
14. Sweet FA (Sweet) ft. Todd Kerns, Bumblefoot, Shani Kimelman
15. TBA
16. TBA
17. Auf Wiedersehen (Cheap Trick) ft. Al Jourgensen, Brandon Yeagley, Charlie Benante

Bonus Tracks
18. Eat The Rich (Krokus) ft. Dead By Wednesday


No Cover was co-produced by Ellefson, Hazaert, and Martongelli.  The record was engineered by Alessio Garavello, Matt LaPlant (Nonpoint, Lil Jon, Skindred) and John Aquilino.  Alessio and Garavello mixed the album alongside Randy Burns and others.

Ellefson talked about the record’s genesis in a recent interview.

“Before any of us started writing our own songs, we all began playing cover songs by our heroes during our formative years as musicians,” said Ellefson.  “So, it’s fun to go back in time and revisit those songs which helped us to become the artists we are today, especially when, ironically, many of those artists have now become peers and friends. During the process of recording some covers for B-Sides and bonus tracks for the upcoming Ellefson solo LP, Thom and I just said, “This is a blast, let’s just do a whole album of covers!” Literally, within 2 weeks, we had the songs recorded, and began calling our friends to join us, many of whom we had just performed with on the MEGA-Cruise back in October. From there, the album just fell into place.”

“A lot of our buddies have been playing covers and quarantine jams on the Internet during the pandemic, so this is really just an extension of that, but we took it the next level and actually recorded a full studio album,” he added.” We’ve been working remotely anyway, as we’re all over the Globe, so it was easy to incorporate some guests jumping in with some outstanding performances of their own. It’s been a really fun nod to making great music with our friends, who are kick-ass players, and many legends in their own right, which is the whole reason we got into this in the first place!”

Hazert expanded on Ellefson’s comments with his own thoughts.

“It’s all songs and artists that really mutually influenced both myself and David, especially a lot of early “Metal” and harder Classic Rock,” he said. “Some stuff I picked, some stuff he picked, but for the most part is was all artists that we both loved. What’s funny, as there’s a bit of an age gap, we were sometimes more influenced by different eras of the same bands. But it was really him saying, “Let’s do this song”, and me saying, “Yes!!! And let’s do this song.” And before we knew it, we had over 15 songs. And it’s a lot of album tracks, deep cuts, early tracks, stuff people might not expect, which was what was so fun.”

“It was also great that we were able to work in a lot of nods to David’s [Ellefson] history, getting Chuck Behler to play with us, bringing in original Megadeth guitarist Greg Handevidt to play on “Love Me Like A Reptile”, a song they used to play in cover bands together before they moved to LA (which we wrote about in More Life With Deth), and Randy Burns is going to mix a track or two,” added Hazert.  “As a singer, these are literally bands I’ve listened to, and covered all my life, and for me, getting to play with Eddie Ojeda, the Tesla guys, Charlie Benante, Jason McMaster, Mark Slaughter, etc, and sing these songs that mean so much to me. I mean, literally, the entire record is my bucket list of people I’d love to play with, and some of my favorite bands. So, it’s truly an honor to put together something so fun, and really as effortless as this was. It truly is a love letter to Rock N’ Roll, an homage to what made us, musically, who we are today.”

Ellefson resurrected Combat Records in 2017 as part of the EMP Label Group family.

Combat Records was a seminal punk and thrash record label in the 1980s.  Its doors closed in the mid-2000s after its catalog was absorbed by Sony Music.  Combat Records’ official relaunch took place in 2018.

Ellefson said in an interview in 2017, Combat Records would handle only new music because Sony has control of the label’s back catalog.

“…And to clarify, we do not own any rights to the Combat Records back catalog,” Ellefson stressed. “That is owned and controlled by Sony, and they have done a great job of curating it through other imprints. Combat Records will solely focus on new releases under the Combat banner. As always, thank you for your support and stay tuned for more details!”

More information on Combat Records, along with its latest news, is available online now






Ellefson is scheduled to release its debut full-length studio recording in spring 2021.  More information on Ellefson is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:






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DiMino’s New LP Shows Sometimes Its A Good Thing That “Old Habits Die Hard”

Courtesy: Frontiers Music Srl

Courtesy: Frontiers Music Srl

Old habits die hard.  It is a simple statement but also a very powerful statement.  For veteran vocalist Frank DiMino it is a statement that is especially true in listening to his new album Old Habits Die Hard.  The eleven-song record exhibits DiMino’s old habits from beginning to end, taking listeners back to the days of big hair and even bigger riffs in every single song.  For fans of 80s rock, with all of its pomp and bombast that is a very good thing because this record has every bit of that beginning with the album’s opener ‘Never Again.’  ‘Sweet Sensation is another one of the album’s offerings that exhibits that classic, over-the-top sound.  The same can be said of ‘Tonight’s The Night.’  All three songs show in their own respective way the sound on which Frank DiMino thrived in the early days of his career.  They are just a few of the songs featured in DiMino’s first solo record that make this musical trip back to the 80s so enjoyable for fans of that age.  Songs such as ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You,’ ‘Rockin In The City,’ and ‘Mad As Hell’ are just as notable in making that statement.  The classic song of love lost is even there in the form of ‘Even Now.’  Whether for those songs, the ones more directly noted here, or any of the album’s other compositions, the record in whole proves that while old habits may die hard, it’s not always a bad thing.

Frank DiMino’s first ever solo record Old Habits Die Hard is a record that any fan of big hair and even bigger riffs should hear.  From beginning to end its songs transport listeners back to the 80s with every element that made “hair metal” so…well…big during its era.  The album’s opener ‘Never Again’ is just one of the songs that serves to take listeners on that musical ride back in time.  Right from the song’s huge opening drum fill to its equally bombastic guitar line, which runs through the song’s five minute-plus run time, the song harkens directly back to the 80s.  The song’s lyrical content, which seems to address a certain woman (or type of woman), is just as familiar as the music that forms the song’s foundation.  The topic in question is hinted at as DiMino sings, “Backdoor lover/Undercover/Slip away into the night/Hands up baby/Drive me crazy/Come and step into the night/Reach out/No doubt/Looking for a lover…”  He goes on in the song’s chorus to sing, “Caught in the grip with my heart in the palm of your hand/It’s the last time I have told you/Never again.”  The song’s final verse is very similar to its lead and second verse stylistically as DiMino again addresses that woman again.  Considering what DiMino has to say about said women in the song’s final verse and in the song’s other verses, that woman is definitely something.  She is good but also good at being bad it would seem.  This is, again, very much the familiar topic for rock acts from the 80s- just as familiar as the song’s huge musical arrangement.  Both elements join here to make the song in whole a clear example of what makes OHDH (as it will henceforth be known) a good fit for any 80s rock aficionado.  It is just one of the songs that serves this end, too.  ‘Sweet Sensation is another one of the album’s offerings that exhibits that classic, over-the-top sound.

‘Never Again’ is a clear example of what makes Frank DiMino’s new solo record OHDH a good fit for any 80s rock fan.  That is due to the mix of its lyrical content and its huge musical arrangement.  Both elements are completely familiar to fans of 80s rock.  It is just one of the songs included in this record that serves to show what makes the record such a good fit for fans of that musical era.  ‘Sweet Sensation’ is another example of what makes the album one that 80s rock fans will appreciate.  Just as with ‘Never Again’ that is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly conjures thoughts of AC/DC with its mid-tempo 4/4 time signature and blues-based guitar line.  Though, the inclusion of a keyboard line as a central element in the song’s chorus also conjures thoughts of Deep Purple among other veteran acts.  Considering those comparisons, the song’s musical arrangement in itself makes the song stand clearly apart from the other songs included in this record.  It is just one part of what makes the song (and ultimately album) stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.  DiMino sings here, “Taking the midnight train home/So turn your lights down low/I can’t get you off my mind/I just lose all sense of time/Every time you come my way/You take the night out of the day/Everything just melts away/You bring the color to my gray/Feels like the first time/Deep down inside/Sweet sensation/You know where it feels so good/Sweet sensation/The only way it really could.”  He continues in similar fashion in the song’s second verse as he sings, “You know the things it takes to please/And bring a grown man to his knees/You can make the sunshine bright/And hide the darkness from the light.”  He keeps going on in exactly the same fashion.  So needless to say, DiMino doesn’t leave much room for guessing if any at all.  It is a classic schmaltzy song lyrically speaking.  What is interesting is that the song’s musical arrangement doesn’t match that schmaltzy lyrical content.  Rather, it gives the song more of a “come hither” type of feel.  This is a guy that is flirting with his subject, not trying to woo her.  Again, it is another familiar showing for hair rock fans.  It still is not the only other example of what makes OHDH a record that any 80s rock fan will appreciate.  ‘Tonight’s The Night’ is yet another example of what makes OHDH a good fit for 80s rock fans.

‘Never Again and ‘Sweet Sensation’ are both key examples of what makes OHDH a good fit for any hair rock aficionado out there.  That is due to the songs’ combination of big rock riffs and equally big lyrics.  They aren’t the only songs that serve to exhibit DiMino’s throwback approach to his new record.  ‘Tonight’s The Night’ is one more example of that throwback sound.  That is most evident in the song’s musical arrangement, which is centered on some Poison style guitar riffs.  Those riffs are, in themselves based richly in the rockabilly sounds of the 1950s.  It’s an interesting juxtaposition, but it still works.  Keeping that in mind, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what DiMino’s subject is singing about here.  Right off the top, he sings, “It’s gonna happen again/Just a matter of time and a matter of when/The night has just begun/We’re gonna have some fun/Cause’ don’t you know that tonight’s the night/Tonight’s the night/I’m gonna set a date…It’s time to cut use/You know there aint’ no use/Cause tonight’s the night.”  He makes note about jumping in the back of his Cadillac, and the heat that can’t be beat.  Considering all of this, the song’s subject is pretty clear.  The song’s musical energy adds to that pretty clear supposition, too.  What’s so interesting is that DiMino doesn’t try to be overly explicit in making the song’s subject so clear.  It shows that a song can still be kind of naughty without being downright nasty.  At the same time, it can still be fun too.  That being the case, both the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content work to show clearly why the song is yet another standout addition to OHDH.  Together with ‘Never Again’ and ‘Sweet Sensation,’ all three songs show collectively why OHDH is a record that any 80s aficionado will enjoy.

Old Habits Die Hard is a record that any 80s rock aficionado will appreciate.  That is regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Frank DiMino’s extensive resume.  Songs such as ‘Never Again,’ ‘Sweet Sensation,’ and ‘Tonight’s The Night’ make that crystal clear.  They are hardly the only songs that support that statement.  ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You,’ ‘Rockin’ In The City’ and ‘Mad As Hell’ each could be used to support that statement just as much as could any of the album’s other featured songs.  All things considered, Old Habits Die Hard proves in the long run that sometimes, it’s a good thing that old habits die hard.  Old Habits Die Hard is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via Amazon.  More information on Old Habits Die Hard is available online now along with Frank DiMino’s latest news at:










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Foghat Shows Real Rock and Roll Is Still Alive And Well On Its New LP

Courtesy:  Foghat Records

Courtesy: Foghat Records

2016 has been quite the year for the rock community.  Over the nearly eight months that have already pass, the rock community has seen a number of impressive new releases with plenty more on the way.  Those impressive releases have come from both independent acts such as Buffalo Summer, Love and a .38, and Resurrection Kings and from more well-known acts the likes of Santana, Rich Robinson, and the focus of today’s review, Foghat.  The veteran rock band released its latest album Under The Influence late last month.  The album, the band’s seventeenth full-length studio recording, is also one of the year’s top new rock records so far.  From beginning to end, this twelve-song record presents everything that is right with rock.  That includes both the musical arrangements that form the foundation of each song and their lyrical content.  One of the songs that best exemplifies this is ‘The Upside of Lonely.’  It is the antithesis of the breakup song.  ‘Knock It Off’ exemplifies it just as much.  Much the same can be said of ‘Hot Mama.’  Each song shows in its own way what makes Under The Influence everything right about rock.  Those songs join with the album’s other nine offerings to make the album in whole, one of 2016s top new rock records so far and one of the year’s top new albums overall, too.

Being considered “under the influence” is typically considered a bad thing.  It means that someone has in his or system something that he or she shouldn’t have.  However in the case of Foghat’s new album, being “under the influence” of the band’s music is a good thing.  It is in fact a very good thing.  That is because over the course of its twelve total songs, the only high that listeners will get is a musical high.  That is because this record exhibits over that span everything that is right with rock and roll today.  It proves that true blue-collar rock and roll is still alive and well.  This is exhibited clearly in the form of ‘The Upside of Lonely.’  The playful, blues-infused tune is the complete antithesis of the breakup song.  Charlie Huhn’s bluesy licks and Scott Holt’s vocal delivery couple with Craig MacGregor’s bass line to form a solid foundation for the song.  Their work conjures thoughts of an upscale jazz and blues club.  Drummer Roger Earl’s equally solid timekeeping strengthens that foundation even more.  The combination of these elements instantly makes the arrangement in whole infectious and a favorite among the album’s overall arrangements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important.  Lyrically speaking, the song is the total antithesis of the breakup song.  Holt sings here about all the positives of being alone versus being in a relationship.  He sings, “The good thing about you being gone/I can watch the game all day long/I can stretch my legs out in the bed/Extra pillows underneath my head/Don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely/I got a lot more room for all my stuff/And I only have to wash one cup/I can stay up late and play my guitar/And the groceries go twice as far/Don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely/You girlfriends ain’t ringin’ the phone off the wall/And I never have to hear from my mothering-law/I ain’t cut the grass since the middle of June/I smoke a big cigar in my living room/I don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely.”  What man won’t smile and pump his first in the air in agreement with this sentiment?  Listeners should keep in mind that Holt sings these lines with his tongue planted firmly in cheek.  There’s not a single hint of animosity as he sings these lines or the lines that follow.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s Stevie Ray Vaughan style musical arrangement and its playful lyrical content couple here to make this song a clear example of why Foghat’s new album its own collective example of all that is right with rock and roll today and why the album is also one of the year’s top new rock and overall records.  It is just one of the album’s key compositions, too.  ‘Knock It off’ also serves to help UTI (as it will henceforth be known) stand out in whole.

‘Upside of Lonely’ is a clear example of what makes UTI stand out among its counterparts in the rock community this year.  That is due to its bluesy, Stevie Ray Vaughan style musical arrangement and its playful lyrical content.  It is just one of the record’s key compositions.  ‘Knock It Off’ serves to show what makes UTI stand out just as much as ‘Upside of Lonely.’  Only it does so in a different way.  In listening to this song, listeners that know their music history will instantly note the stylistic similarity to AC/DC in terms of the song’s musical arrangement.  It is a driving, straight-forward 4/4 rocker that is infectious in its very own way.  It does plenty to make the song stand out among the rest of the album’s offerings.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical content.  Huhn makes no bones about the song’s message here.  He (or the song’s subject) is addressing someone whose sole intent in life seems solely to be making trouble and making others miserable.  He sings to that person in a very matter of fact fashion, “Don’t need no excuses/You like stirrin’ my cup/And pullin’ my strings/You keep winding me up/You think I’m overreacting/There’s a line you cross over/Just give me a reason/I got a chip on my shoulder/So knock it off/Knock it off/You’d better knock it off/I’ve got a chip on my shoulder…so knock it off.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “You keep pushin’ and pushin’/You just won’t let up/We gotta settle this quickly/And get out of this rut/I see you lookin’ for trouble/Well I desire some, too/Well just give me a reason/Double dare you to knock it off.”  Who out there hasn’t dealt with someone such as the subject being addressed here?  Exactly.  Considering this, the song becomes a great way to blow off some steam in dealing with such individuals instead of risk losing their jobs or safety over those people.  Keeping this in mind, it serves even more to show why this song is so important to the overall presentation of UTI.  It is still not the last example of what makes UTI stand out, either.  ‘Hot Mama’ serves to show what makes UTI such an important new offering from Foghat just as much as ‘Knock It Off’ and ‘Upside of Lonely.’

‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off’ are both key examples of what makes Foghat’s new album such an important new offering in this year’s field of new rock albums.  Both songs’ musical arrangements harken back to a better age of rock; an age when rock was great because of its simplicity.  The songs’ lyrical content is just as important to note because of their clear, simple messages.  The prior is the antithesis of the breakup song and the other is a loud, confident statement defying those that would make others’ lives miserable.  The combination of each song’s musical arrangement and lyrical content make each song in whole important in its own right to the album’s overall presentation.  They are, again, just two key compositions included in the body of UTI, though.  ‘Hot Mama’ is just as important to note in examining the album’s body as ‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off.’  That is because it stands apart from those songs (and the rest of the album’s offerings’) just as much as they do from one another and the rest of the album’s songs.  This song’s musical arrangement helps it stand out with its pure, old school southern rock and roll sound.  It conjures thoughts of Lynyrd Skynyrd and others of that ilk with its riffs.  That is just one part of what makes this record stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as notable here as its musical arrangement.  It is so important to note because it is in direct contrast to that of ‘Upside of Lonely.’  Whereas that song touted the positives of bachelorhood this song is more of a fun little piece about a man who has found quite the woman.  There is even a bit of innuendo so to speak in the song’s lyrical content as Huhns subject sings to that woman, “Hot mama/Who’s gonna fan your flame/Hey hot mama/Let me be your fireman” in the song’s chorus.  Whether or not that innuendo was intentionally inserted is anyone’s guess.  But one can’t deny that it is there unintentional or not.  The woman in question is obviously attractive, though.  Huhn’s subject makes that clear as he says to her, You give me a fever/When I’m standing next to you/You’re gonna burn down the house/Lookin’ like you do/Hot mama/Who’s gonna fan your flames/Hey hot mama/Let me be your fireman.”  If this doesn’t get any couple in the mood for a *ahem* busy night then nothing will.  That is because between its “fiery” musical energy and equally notable lyrical content, it will definitely light some flames of passion.  Considering this, it shows once more why this song stands out so loud and proud among the rest of the album’s offerings.  When it is considered along with ‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off’ all three songs make rather clear why UTI is such an impressive new effort from Foghat.  When listeners hear them, and the rest of the album’s songs, they will agree that every rock purist will want to be under its influence.

Foghat’s new album Under The Influence is a record that is one of 2016’s top new rock records and top new albums overall.  That is because from beginning to end it exemplifies everything that is right with rock and roll today.  It shows that rock is thankfully still alive and well.  Between the album’s overall musical content and its lyrical content, there is plenty to appreciate about the record.  This is evident not just in the songs directly discussed here but in each of the album’s offerings.  In considering this listeners will agree that every rock purist will want to be under its influence.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Under The Influence is available online now along with all of Foghat’s news at:










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The Midnight Special’s Re-Issues Will Have Audiences Singing, Dancing Well Past Midnight

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years.  Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies.  For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television.  Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD.  The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history.  The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library.  That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC.  It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum.  The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success.  Just as important to note is the quality of the footage.  More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972.  In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well.  And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet.  The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That is the central point of its importance.  It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series.  Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time  Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.

The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day.  Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching.  What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day.  The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks.  That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series.  The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO.  It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today.  Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right.  Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago.  In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent.  That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.

The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue.  More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972.  That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced.  Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable.  The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia.  Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too.  So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing.  The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue.  The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation.  Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats.  The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet.  The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears.  That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts.  By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue.  The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations.  In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong.  That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues.  While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy.  This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.

The Midnight Special is available online now.  Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at  The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:




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Riff Rockit’s Latest LP Soars

Courtesy:  Doggie Doodles Productions

Courtesy: Doggie Doodles Productions

Kindie-rock star Riff Rockit released his latest album If I Could Fly last week.  The album, his second so far this year, is a solid follow-up his previous release, the fully Spanish-language album Luz Verde Vamos.  This latest release includes a trio of songs from that album, translated completely into English.  The feline-centric song ‘Mr. Tux’ is one of those songs.  It is also one of the most enjoyable of those songs and one of the best songs included in this album, too.  Just as enjoyable is the seasonably fitting ‘Beach.’  As if that isn’t enough, Rockit has also crafted a birthday song for a whole new generation in the simply titled ‘Birthday.’ Forget the classic ‘Happy Birthday.’ This is a whole new birthday song that will have kids and even parents wanting to sing. The songs noted here are just a few examples of will most certainly make this record a favorite among both kids and their parents. The remaining seven tracks not noted each make If I Could Fly just as enjoy able by themselves. Together with the noted tracks, they make If I Could Fly a record that could soar into any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

If I Could Fly is highlighted by so many enjoyable songs both for children and adults. Any one of the album’s ten total tracks could serve as a representative single for this release. The most enjoyable of the album’s tracks—in the eyes of this critic—is a song that Rockit carried over from his most recent album Luz Verde Vamos. The song in question is titled ‘Mr. Tux.’ It is a song centered on a rather well-to-do celebrity feline, believe it or not. While the song’s lyrics will entertain both children and their parents, the song’s 80s style sound will take many parents back in time. The use of the guitars and keyboards in this song is a direct throwback to another era of music. Yet somehow, Riff Rockit has somehow taken that sound and improved on it in this case. The song’s lyrical side makes the song even more fun for listeners. Riff Rockit sings in this song about a tuxedo cat named…well…Mr. Tux. He sings of the cat that he is definitely living the good life. He sings that the cat in question is “Black and white/A fur machine/The coolest kitten in Los Angeles…Got a mansion in the canyon/Yeah, he’s living it good…Making movies/Livin’ the life….he loves to dance/Rocks every gig/he is a legend on the sunset strip.” Needless to say, this is one cat that is living in the lap of luxury. One can so easily see this cat living it up as Riff Rockit sings about the fancy feline, too. That vivid imagery and infectious club style grooves are sure to entertain listeners over and over.

‘Mr. Tux’ is a fun song for listeners of any age. It’s so fun because for starters it is original. It is one more example of what makes children’s music just as fun as music for grown-ups if not more fun. The fact that it can take the classic sounds of the 80s and update them makes the song even better. As enjoyable as ‘Mr. Tux’ is, there are still other examples of what makes If I Could Fly work as well as it does. One of those other examples comes in the form of the pleasantly relaxing ‘Beach.’ This song’s music lyrics perfectly mirror one another. It would have been so easy to make it another up-tempo song that so many songs of a day at the beach prove to be. Rockit took the road less traveled road instead with this composition. It takes the vantage point of someone simply appreciating the calm and simplicity of being at the beach. He sings in this song, “sitting by the ocean/Cool summer breeze/Sitting by the ocean/I love/I love/I love/The beach.” The classic 80s style guitar solo incorporated into the song’s bridge adds just enough accent to the song to make it really work. Audiences can close their eyes and visualize every word in their own theater of dreams. Visions of a person sitting on the beach on the first morning of summer just after sunrise come to mind. The waves are gently hitting the sand. It is its own song celebrating summer. That individuality and gentle melody makes this song stand out so well as another of this album’s best moments. It still isn’t the last of those moments, either. There is still one more song on this album that serves as an example of what makes it “fly.” That song is Rockit’s very own ‘Birthday’ song.

‘Birthday’ is a good mid-tempo rocker that is certain to have parents and kids alike clapping and singing along. He sings over the song’s somewhat driving sound, “Well it’s your birthday/Gonna have a party/Everybody’s getting’ ready/Don’t it feel good/You got your favorite music/So let’s get to it/These balloons blown up/Hats for all your friends/Today is your birthday/So let’s have a party/Take lots of pictures/And celebrate you’re one year older/Have all your friends over/For fun and ice cream and cake/Happy birthday to you.” If one didn’t know any better, one could almost argue that Rockit’s guitar solos hint a little bit at and AC/DC influence, believe it or not. They actually sound a little bit like Angus’ guitar lien from AC/DC’s hit ‘Highway to Hell’ go figure. They have a certain little kick and sound about them that hints at that influence. Audiences will hear for themselves when they purchase this album for their own children. Potential influences aside, parents and children alike will agree in listening to this song that they will want this song playing at their next birthday party instead of the more standard ‘Happy Birthday.’ It is that fun and catchy. That musical and lyrical catchiness together make it one more of so many songs from this album that is ready for radio airplay. And together with the songs not noted here, it becomes one more part of an album that makes a solid argument for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new children’s albums.

Riff Rockit currently has no tour dates scheduled. However, parents and children can find out when his next live performance will be online via his official Facebook page, website, and Twitter page. They can also keep up with all of his latest news and updates through both sites. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog, too.

Hammercult’s Sophomore LP Is An Intentionally Over The Top Slab Of Metal

Courtesy:  SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Courtesy: SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Anyone that keeps up with the news of the world each day knows that there is a lot of trouble going on in the Middle East right now. Tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis have really stepped up again in recent weeks as have the attacks. It’s really a sad state of affairs. For all of the negativity coming from that part of the world, at least one positive has come from that war-ravaged land this year. That one positive is the sophomore album from the Tel-Aviv, Israel-based band Hammercult. Steelcrusher, the band’s follow-up to its 2012 debut album Anthems of the Damned, is a full on assault on the ears that will make any purist member of the Metal Nation worldwide proud. The album’s songs are sung with tongue planted firmly in cheek. One look at the obviously intentionally over-the-top album cover, the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page and one listen through this album proves this to be the case. The band pokes fun at the stereotypes placed on metal and its legions of fans from start to finish. The end result is an album that will have audiences both laughing and rocking along throughout every song. One of the best examples of that satire comes in the form of the metal anthem ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ There is also the full throttle song about the stereotypes of metal bands on the road in the album’s penultimate song ‘Heading For War.’ And then there is ‘Unholy Art,’ which seems to poke fun at the stereotypes of metal and hard rock in general created by certain groups. It’s one more example of the works on this record that will again, have audiences laughing and rocking along from start to finish.

Audiences will note in listening to Hammercult’s recently released sophomore album Steelcrusher, that there are some pretty dark sounding songs, lyrically and musically speaking. But the reality of the albums on this record is that they were obviously written with tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek. One look at the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page drives home the argument that the band is anything but the dark, evil entity that others such as perhaps Ghost, Emperor, etc. One piece of evidence in that argument comes in the form of the anthemic ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ Not only does the band encourage the metal legions of the world to put their collective metal horns in the air, it also goes so far as to pay tribute to one of the biggest names in metal in the form of Metallica. Front man Yokir Shochat sings in this full-on anthem, “I’m so wasted/I can’t stand/Grab a *&$$%/Get some #&@%/Speakers blasting through the wall/Master of Puppets and Balls to the Walls.” He goes on later in the song singing to listeners, “Bang your head in full conviction/Raise your fists and show the horns/No remorse or lamentations/Play it loud/Or die/Metal rules tonight/Trends will come and fade away/Heavy metal is here to stay/We are damned but we are free/It’s our way of life/The way it should be/Metal!” That last line sort of echoes AC/DC’s ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ in which front man Brian Johnson sings that “Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution/Rock and roll it will live on.” The song’s speed/thrash metal musical backing will have its fans putting their horns high in the air with pride as they sing along to this metal anthem.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ is one of the highest of points on Hammercult’s new album. It is only one piece of evidence in the argument that despite the band’s speed/thrash metal sound and its seemingly dark lyrics, it should be taken with a relatively large grain of salt. Another piece of evidence in that argument comes late in the album in the song ‘Heading For War.’ Right off the top, Shochat makes that clear once again as he screams, “Thrashing hotels every day/Heads are banging/Ears are bleeding/Raise your hammers/Ready to explode.” He sings in another verse, “Racing to another city/Party hard tonight/Heavy drinking/Never stopping/It’s the only way we stay alive.” These two verses alone more than tell audiences everything that they need to know about this song. If that’s not enough, the song’s chorus makes painfully clear that there’s nothing evil at all about the band or its album. Shochat sings in the chorus, “Heading for the stage, heading for war/Yes, we live or the fight/And die for the cause we believe to be right/Giving it all with fury and force/Spreading the sound of destruction.” Shochat likens being on the road, performing on stage after stage to like being in a war. Though, interestingly enough, one could argue that there is a lightly veiled reference to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians there and the lack of sense in it. Instead of being involved in that conflict though, the band lives and dies for metal in that “battle” to spread metal’s word to the world. If that veiled commentary on the war in the Gaza strip is in fact there, then that double meaning in this verse makes the song in whole all the more interesting. And along with ‘Metal Rules Tonight,’ it makes the album in whole all the more worth the listen, too.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ and ‘Heading For War’ are both prime examples of what audiences can expect from Steelcrusher. Both songs show that despite the album’s similarity to works from the likes of Exmortus, Arch Enemy, and others of that ilk, it actually stands out quite a bit from those bands. There is one more example of the band’s tongue in cheek delivery on this album. That example is the song ‘Unholy Art.’ The band’s commentary is perhaps at its strongest in this song as Shochat and company point the finger right back at those that would judge the metal community, singing, “The blackest hearts and darkest minds/You never know just what you will find/It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art/Dishonored/A branded kind/The masses will burn in the flames of our pride/We’ll rise to our own blackened skies/And devour the worlds/And we’re starting tonight. The band singing together, “It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art” is itself a sarcastic statement. It’s Shochat and his band mates almost laughing as they say, “oh it’s such evil stuff. It’s not for the faint of heart.” Again, it’s just one more example of how firmly in their cheeks the band members’ tongues are planted in this record. The statement of “The blackest hearts and darkest minds” is something of a statement against the stereotypes created by certain groups against the metal masses around the world. Those judgmental groups are so fast to throw the first stone even without knowing the full story or doing their research. It’s such searing commentary in so few words. It makes for one of the most powerful statements of the album’s entire body of songs. Of course together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted) it makes the entire collection of songs an album that any true-blooded member of the metal nation worldwide will enjoy and appreciate.

Steelcrusher is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon or purchased at the band’s next upcoming performance. The band is currently scheduled to perform live August 9th at Brutal Assault in Jaromer, Czech Republic. Audiences can pick up Steelcrusher at that performance, too. More information and tour updates are available online via the band’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog.

Satriani Proves He’s Still Got Plenty Of “Momentum” On New LP

Courtesy:  Epic Records/RED Distribution

Courtesy: Epic Records/RED Distribution

Joe Satriani’s latest release, Unstoppable Momentum is the famed guitarist’s best release since his 2006 album, Super Colossal.  This new record is the album that fans have waited for since the release of Super Colossal.  It is just as bombastic as Super Colossal and more at some points.  It’s also just as gentle as SC, too at different points.  Perhaps a big reason for the success of this record is the Satch opted for a different backing group than he typically uses on his records.  Many of Satriani’s past records were recorded with Jeff Campitelli on drums and Allen Whitman on bass.  This time out, Satch opted instead to have drummer Vinnie Colaiuta man the kit and Chris Chaney add the low end on bass.  Another change to the lineup that could have created such a difference on this record from his other works was the inclusion of Mike Frasier behind the glass once again.  The two are quite familiar with one another, having worked together on no less than six of Satch’s previous records, including his most recent album, Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards (2010) and Super Colossal.  He also helped with the creation of both of Chickenfoot’s current releases on which Joe played guitar.  That familiarity and friendship between the pair—and the inclusion of new musicians–obviously played a role in the record’s sound as it has proven to be not just his best record since Super Colossal, but one of his finest records to date.

Right from the opening number of Unstoppable Momentum, long-time fans of Satriani’s work know they are in for quite a ride.  The album opens fittingly with its title track.  Simply listening to the song, one can’t help but hear that perhaps Satriani is making a statement early on that even fourteen albums in, he still has a lot left to offer audiences.  He still has that “unstoppable momentum.”  The song’s seeming ABA structure starts off easy before really kicking things up in the middle section.  Joe shows without a doubt that he’s still got plenty left in the tank with his “solos” in this section while drummer Vinnie Colaiuta gives an added intensity with his musicianship behind the kit.  He proves to be just as solid as [Jeff] Campitelli, if not more so.  His ability to handle polyrhythmic patters without missing a single beat is impressive to say the least, both here and throughout the record.  This is just one example of what makes this such a solid record.

Another good example of what makes Unstoppable Momentum a success is the almost Beatles-esque, ‘I’ll Put a Stone on Your Cabin.’  The song’s “A” sections have something of a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club influence.  Somehow, Satriani and his band mates manage to tie in a sound that is quite the counterpoint to this vibe, making the song into a piece unlike anything that Satriani has ever recorded throughout his career.  It is one of those songs that simply must be heard to be appreciated and understood.      

There is at least one more example of what makes this new record one that fans will enjoy.  And it is the album’s absolutely shortest, but most touching piece.  That song is the one minute and forty-three minute long, ‘I’ll Put a Stone on Your Cairn.’  For those that don’t know, one of the traditional uses of a cairn is as a monument to one who has passed on.  Its use roots all the way back to prehistoric Eurasia.  So placing a stone on one’s cairn would be an act of tribute and remembrance to the deceased.  Keeping all of this in mind, the gentle, dulcet tones of this short opus are sure to create thoughts in the minds of listeners of perhaps those that they have lost.  It offers some of the album’s deepest emotions and is sure to generate among listeners some of the deepest emotions, as well.  Without a doubt, this song may end up being a favorite for fans, even as short as it is.  And it is just one more among so many that listeners will enjoy throughout the course of the album’s eleven total tracks.  The album is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online via Joe’s website,, where he has links to iTunes, Amazon, and through his own website.  Fans can also order the new album and all sorts of Joe Satriani gear through his official Facebook page,  Fans can keep up with the latest tour updates and news from Joe on his Facebook page, too.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at