P.O.D.’s ‘Satellite’ 20th Anniversary Edition Is Among The Best Of 2021’s Music Re-Issues

Courtesy: Atlantic Records/Rhino Records

P.O.D. will mark a big anniversary this week when it re-issues its 2001 album, Satellite.  Originally released Sept. 11, 2001 through Atlantic Records, the album (the band’s fourth) is scheduled for re-issue Friday through Atlantic and Rhino Records to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its original release.  The band also launched a tour last month in support of the album’s re-issue.  The tour’s next stop is scheduled for Saturday in Houston, TX at Buzzfest.  The album’s presentation in its forthcoming re-issue is a prime example of a re-issue done right.  Not only do audiences get the original album in whole (complete with remastered tracks therein), but they also get a second disc loaded with some interesting bonus tracks.  Not the least of those tracks is the RTP Remix of the band’s hit single, ‘Rock The Party (Off The Hook).’  It will be discussed shortly.  Also of note among the bonus tracks featured in this re-issue is the Conjure One remix of ‘Youth of The Nation.’  It will be discussed a little later.  Much the same can be said of the demo take of ‘Ridiculous’ that opens the bonus content.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  When these alternate takes are considered with the other featured extra tracks, the whole makes the bonus content and primary content collectively a work that is among the best of this year’s music re-issues.

Atlantic and Rhino Records’ forthcoming re-issue of P.O.D.’s Satellite is a presentation that is certain to appeal to any of the band’s fans, established and otherwise.  That is due in no small part to the bonus content featured with the album.  There are demos, remastered tracks, and remixes compiled among that bonus content that makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment, not the least of which is the RTP Remix of ‘Rock The Party (Off The Hook).’  ‘Rock The Party (Off The Hook)’ was originally featured in P.O.D.’s major label debut, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1999).  The original composition is a full-on nu-metal composition complete with turntables, infectious guitar riff, bass, beats, and rapping.  The blend of the rock and rap elements were everything that made nu-metal such a hit back in the late 90s and early 2000s.  The song’s RTP Remix takes that original presentation and turn it on its ear by adding a healthy dose of electronics.  Even the guitars have more of an industrial vibe in how they were handled.  The addition of the keyboards and effects, and even the use of the electronics in some of the vocals gives the song a unique alternate take on the song that makes this remix even better than the original.  That is not to say that the original is bad by any means.  That should not be misunderstood here.  It is just that the remix takes something good and makes it even better, to use clearer wording.

The RTP remix of ‘Rock The Party (Off The Hook)’ is just one of the songs featured among the re-issue’s onus content that makes this re-issue successful.  The Conjure One remix of ‘Youth of the Nation’ is also of note.  This remix takes the original in a different, more hip-hop oriented direction than the original.  By comparison, the original leans more in a rock direction.  The use of the keyboard, bass, and electronics here maintains the deeply thoughtful mood established in the original but gives the song a unique identity separate from the original.  That it maintained that contemplative nature established in the original in the process really makes the song just as successful in this case as in the original if not more so.

As much as the examined songs do to make the bonus content featured in Satellite’s re-issue so positive, they are just a portion of that proof.  The alternate demo take of ‘Ridiculous’ is yet another example of how much the bonus content enhances the album’s presentation in its re-issue.  The demo stands out because in comparison to the final product that ended up on Satellite, this demo version has more of a raw feel in its sound.  It lacks the more spit shined sound and feel of the final product.  There is one more notable difference between the two takes in the song’s opening bars, but by and large, what audiences get here in the song’s demo is just a rawer, experimental sound and feeling.  It is still engaging and entertaining in its own right.  When this demo and the other songs examined here are considered along with the other songs featured in the re-issue’s bonus content, the whole makes for so much more enjoyment for audiences.  That and the presentation of the original album fully remastered collectively makes the album in whole an example of how to do a music re-issue right.

P.O.D.’s forthcoming re-issue of its album, Satellite, is a successful new offering from the band.  It is a fitting celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary.  That is proven not only through the sound in the remastering that was done in the primary content, but also through the extensive bonus content featured with the re-issue.  From the demos to the alternate takes and more, the bonus content ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment just as much as its primary content.  All three of the songs examined here serve well to support the noted statements.  When they are considered with the rest of the re-issue’s bonus content and the primary content, the whole makes Satellite’s 20th anniversary re-issue one of the best of this year’s music re-issues. 

The remaining dates on P.O.D.’s tour schedule are noted below. Tickets are available here. Due to injuries sustained by its members in a wreck last month, Sleep Signals announced Aug. 20, the band could not continue its run on the tour with P.O.D., From Ashes To New, and All Good Things.

P.O.D. ON TOUR:
WITH FROM ASHES TO NEW, ALL GOOD THINGS:

9/4 —   Houston, TX – BuzzFest (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – KBTZ Show)~
9/5 —   Dallas, TX – BFD21 (Dos Equis Pavilion – KEGL Show)~
9/9 —   Danville, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Festival^
9/10 — New Haven, CT — Toad’s Place
9/11 — Laconia, NH — Granite State Music Hall
9/12 — Worcester, MA — The Palladium
9/14 — New York, NY — The Gramercy Theatre
9/15 — Huntington, NY — The Paramount
9/16 — Baltimore, MD — Ram’s Head Live
9/18 — Atlanta, GA — Center Stage
9/19 — Mobile, AL — Soul Kitchen
9/21 — Birmingham, AL — Zydeco
9/22 — Savannah, GA — Victory North
9/23 — Orlando, FL – Rebel Rock Fest (Pre—Party)~
9/25 — Columbia, SC — The Senate
9/28 — Cleveland, OH — House of Blues
9/29 — St. Louis, MO — Pop’s
10/1 — Tulsa, OK — Tulsa State Fair
10/2 — San Antonio, TX — The Rock Box
10/3 — Lubbock, TX — Jake’s Backroom
10/6 — Santa Ana, CA — The Observatory
10/7 — San Diego, CA — House of Blues 
*With From Ashes to New
^With From Ashes to New & All Good Things
#With All Good Things
~P.O.D. Only

More information on P.O.D.’s upcoming Satellite re-issue and tour is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.payableondeath.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/POD

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/POD

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

All Treat, No Tricks: Overkill Announces Details For New Box Set

Courtesy: BMG

Overkill fans will get an early Halloween treat this year.

The band announced Wednesday through a news release, that it will release a new comprehensive box set Oct. 29 through BMG. The box set, The Atlantic Years: 1986 – 1994 features all six albums that the band released during its time with the nationally- and internationally-known record label: Taking Over (1987), Under The Influence (1988), The Years of Decay (1989), Horroscope (1991), I Hear Black (1993), and W.F.O. (1994).

Pre-orders are open. The six-disc collection will release on vinyl and CD. The box’s vinyl presentation marks the first time in more than a decade that the albums have released on that platform. A trailer for the album’s release is streaming here.

The Atlantic Years: 1986 – 1994 will come more than two years after the release of Overkill’s then latest album, Wings of War, which was released in February 2019 through Nuclear Blast Records..

More information on Overkill’s new box set is available online now along with all of the band’s latest tour updates, news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.wreckingcrew.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OverkillWreckingCrew

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/OverkillBand

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

P.O.D. Announces ‘Satellite’ Re-Issue Release Date, Specs; Premieres Previously Unreleased Demo; Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

P.O.D. will bring the music to the masses in more ways than one this year.

The band will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of its album, Satellite with a re-issue of that album Sept. 3. The re-issue will feature a total of 27 songs. Among those songs are rarities, re-mixes, previously unreleased demos and a full remastered presentation of Satellite.

The band premiered the previously unreleased demo of ‘Alive‘ Tuesday. The demo is a semi-acoustic take of the hit single. Among the rarities featured in the re-issue are the b-sides ‘Critic’ and ‘Sabbath’ that were previously available only in Europe. Re-mixes of ‘Boom’ and ‘Youth of the Nation’ are also featured as part of the extensive re-issue.

Courtesy: Atom Splitter PR

In other news, P.O.D. is scheduled to launch a new tour Aug. 14 in support of the album’s re-issue. The tour is scheduled to run through Oct. 7 in San Diego, CA. It features performances in cities, such as Columbia, SC; Louisville, KY and Minneapolis, MN.

Front man Sonny Sandoval said he and his band mates were looking forward to getting back out on the road in a recent interview.

“We’ve been touring and working hard for almost 30 years now,” said Sandoval. “It’s all we know. This past year has really made me realize how much I love what I do and how much I appreciate that I am still able to make music and play live for all of those who are still listening. Thank you to all of you who still love live music and can’t wait to be a part of the P.O.D. experience. We can’t wait to see all of your beautiful faces out on the road.”

Guitarist Marcos Curiel expanded on Sandoval’s thoughts with his own comments.

“It’s been way too long,” said Curiel. “We are beyond excited to get back to the stage — where we provide the rock and you provide the roll. From familiar faces to new ones, let’s get back to what we’ve all been waiting for. We are ready as a band to create new memories with you all. Let’s do this! Peace, love, light, and rock ‘n’ roll.”

The tour’s schedule is noted below. Tickets are available here. Sleep Signals, All Good Things, and From Ashes To New are scheduled to serve as support for the tour.

P.O.D. ON TOUR:
WITH FROM ASHES TO NEW, ALL GOOD THINGS, + SLEEP SIGNALS:

8/14 — Sturgis, SD – Buffalo Chip*
8/16 — Denver, CO — Gothic Theatre
8/17 — Omaha, NE — The Waiting Room
8/19 — Sioux Falls, SD — The District
8/20 — Des Moines, IA — Wooly’s
8/21 — Glen Flora, WI – Northwoods Rock Rally^
8/22 — Minneapolis, MN — First Ave
8/25 — Louisville, KY – KY State Fair#
8/26 — Fort Wayne, IN — Piere’s
8/27 — Belvidere, IL — The Apollo Theater
8/28 — Joliet, IL — The Forge
8/29 — Detroit, MI — St. Andrew’s Hall
8/31 — Pittsburgh, PA — Roxian Theater
9/4 —   Houston, TX – BuzzFest (Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion – KBTZ Show)~
9/5 —   Dallas, TX – BFD21 (Dos Equis Pavilion – KEGL Show)~
9/9 —   Danville, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Festival^
9/10 — New Haven, CT — Toad’s Place
9/11 — Laconia, NH — Granite State Music Hall
9/12 — Worcester, MA — The Palladium
9/14 — New York, NY — The Gramercy Theatre
9/15 — Huntington, NY — The Paramount
9/16 — Baltimore, MD — Ram’s Head Live
9/18 — Atlanta, GA — Center Stage
9/19 — Mobile, AL — Soul Kitchen
9/21 — Birmingham, AL — Zydeco
9/22 — Savannah, GA — Victory North
9/23 — Orlando, FL – Rebel Rock Fest (Pre—Party)~
9/25 — Columbia, SC — The Senate
9/28 — Cleveland, OH — House of Blues
9/29 — St. Louis, MO — Pop’s
10/1 — Tulsa, OK — Tulsa State Fair
10/2 — San Antonio, TX — The Rock Box
10/3 — Lubbock, TX — Jake’s Backroom
10/6 — Santa Ana, CA — The Observatory
10/7 — San Diego, CA — House of Blues 
*With From Ashes to New
^With From Ashes to New & All Good Things
#With All Good Things
~P.O.D. Only

More information on P.O.D.’s upcoming Satellite re-issue and tour is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.payableondeath.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/POD

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

Weezer’s Latest LP Is An “OK” Presentation

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Veteran alt-rock band Weezer is one of those acts that clearly does not rest easily on its laurels.  Ever since the release of its debut self-titled album in 1996, the band has released one new album every two to three years (at the most – some of its albums are separated by no more than a year).  Counting its latest album OK, Human, which was released Feb. 12, the band has released now, a grand total of 14 albums in less than 30 years.  That is a lot of content to say the very least.  What’s more, the band even has plans to release a second album this year in the form of Van Weezer.  That album is a story for another time.  Getting back to the band’s latest album, it is a presentation that will find the majority of its appeal among the band’s most devoted fans.  That is proven in part through its lyrical content, which will be discussed shortly.  While the record’s lyrical content is certain to appeal to a wide range of listeners, its musical content does limit its appeal.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production is also of note.  It is its own positive and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of OK, Human.  All things considered, the album in whole proves itself to be worth hearing at least occasionally.

OK, Human is an interesting new offering from Weezer.  That is because while not necessarily a failure, it is also not what one might consider a groundbreaking presentation from the band.  Again, even despite that, it does have some positives, one of which is its lyrical content.  The record’s lyrical content does the most to ensure the record’s appeal.  The album’s lyrical content covers a wide range of topics. ‘Bird With a Broken Wing’ for instance, presents an existentialist rumination of sorts. Front man Rivers Cuomo said during an interview that, “I think I was just feeling pretty irrelevant and passed over and past my prime, just feeling pretty sorry for myself.”  Everyone has been at that point at least once in life if not more times.  He compares himself here  to that “bird with a broken wing” but reminding himself that “I still have a song to sing/Turning night to day…And this beautiful song to sing/Don’t feel sad for me/I’m right where I wanna be.”  So while the song is sad, it is still uplifting.  It does present its own message of hope.  That is proven even more as Cuomo further states later in the song, “Nothin’ matters in the world/And everyone is free/But I’ll belong to you/If you believe in me.”  Here again is that uplifting message that even though we get down, it is possible to feel better.  It is just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so pivotal to the record’s presentation.  ‘Playing My Piano’ is another great way in which the record’s lyrical content proves its importance to the album’s presentation.

According to Cuomo himself, ‘Playing My Piano’ is simply about the joy that he gets from playing his piano, and the positive mental and emotional effect that sitting in front of the piano and playing those keys has on him.  He points it out right from the song’s outset in the lead verse and chorus, which states, “My wife is upstairs/My kids are upstairs/And I haven’t washed my hair in three weeks/I should get back to these Zoom interviews/But I get so absorbed and time flies/I just can’t let go when I’m playing my piano/Ooh, I’m playing my piano/I’m pounding out the bass/Singing out the tune/I never see the sun like I’m living in a womb/I’m playing my piano/Ooh, ooh, ooh.”  The light, upbeat sense continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “A cup of java at the edge of the  keys/Dripping down from major to mixolydian/Put on some white noise/Double-bolt the door/Kim Jong-un could blow up my city/I’d never know/I just can’t let go when I’m playin’ my piano.”  On the surface, this is just a song about Cuomo getting lost in playing his piano.  On a deeper level, this is a mind state to which so many listeners can relate.  Music is that powerful, whether it be playing an instrument or just listening to a good song.  So to that end, that accessibility and difference from the lyrical theme presented in ‘Bird With a Broken Wing’ and the rest of  the album’s songs shows that much more, the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important.  The lyrical content featured in ‘Mirror Image’ shows Cuomo’s adoration for his wife.  Right from the song’s outset, Cuomo calls his wife “My mirror image/Showing me who I am/Until the day that we shatter,” adding “She helps me understand.”  This not just another run-of-the-mill love song.  This is a direct love song that he wrote for his wife, though it is a song that plenty of husbands and even boyfriends will find useful with their significant others.  He adds that “Heaven can’t save this man/Heaven can’t help this man/heaven turned his back on this man/Heaven shuts the door on this man.”  This heightens even more, the message of Cuomo’s appreciation for and devotion to his wife.  It stands on its own merits, separate from the other lyrical themes noted here and those not addressed.  All things considered, the album’s lyrical content is certain to reach a wide range of listeners.  In turn, it creates a firm foundation for OK, Human.  For all that the album’s lyrical content does for its presentation, its musical content limits its appeal.

The musical arrangements featured throughout the course of OK, Human’s 12 total songs are anything but unfamiliar.  The arrangements in question take to heart the old adage that one should not fix what’s not broken.  One could also argue that the band maybe takes that adage (and even Mark Twain’s timeless statement to “write what you know) a bit too much to heart.  That is evidenced from start to end of this record because the arrangements in question take the same approach as those in the band’s existing catalog.  It is that same “poppy” neo-Beatles-esque pop rock and separate alt-rock type of sound that the band has used for years in each of its existing albums.  It is hardly anything ground breaking for the band, but again, it is a familiar approach and sound that the band’s most devoted fans will appreciate.  Keeping this in mind, it does not make the album a failure by any means, but it is an approach that will appeal primarily to the band’s most devoted listeners.  Together with the noted lyrical content, the two elements join together make the album slightly more appealing and worth hearing at least occasionally.

While the musical arrangements featured in OK, Human limit the impact of the record’s presentation, they do not make the album a failure.  To that end, there is at least one more item to examine that makes the album work.  That item is the album’s overall production.  Some of the record’s featured songs are more active than others.  Regardless of how much is going on in each of the songs, particular attention had to be paid to each work.  That attention paid off in each case, too.  Whether in the simple, instrumental ‘Everything Happens for a Reason,’ the more active album opener, ‘All My Favorite Songs,’ or the more contemplative ‘Bird With a Broken Wing,’ each song has its own specific focuses.  ‘Everything Happens for a Reason’ for example is a slightly light, reserved song (and short at that, clocking in at only 23 seconds) but the simple use of what sounds like  a  flute against the keyboard still  is strong with its less is more approach.  The song’s keyboard line is just subtle enough against the flute line to make the song in whole work.  ‘All My favorite Songs’ takes influence from Marcy Playground and The Beatles collectively here.  That balance of influences and instrumentation had to have been a chore, but clearly, much attention and effort went into making sure they were, and it paid off.  The gentle, flowing, arrangement featured in ‘Bird With a Broken Wing’ does so well to help illustrate and translate Cuomo’s mental state and emotions as he wrote the song’s lyrics.  It shows once more, the time and thought that went into the album’s production.  The strings here, while clearly synthetic, but play such a crucial part here.  They never overpower any other instrument in this case.  They give just the right accent to the song, working with the other instruments (and with Cuomo’s own vocal delivery) to make the song so hard hitting in their combined simplicity and complexity in one.  It’s one more way in which the album’s production proves important to its presentation.  When it and the other cases noted here are considered along with the rest of the album’s production, that aspect along with the album’s lyrical themes an musical arrangements ultimately prove that the album is deserving of being heard at least occasionally.

Weezer’s latest album OK, Human is a presentation that is worth hearing at least occasionally.  That is due in large part to its lyrical themes.  The record’s lyrical themes will reach a wide range of listeners, including casual fans of Weezer.  The album’s musical arrangements will appeal more specifically to the band’s more devoted audiences.  That is because more casual fans will note that the arrangements take much the same stylistic approach than that taken on the rest of the band’s catalog.  It is not enough to make the album a failure, but does limit that appeal.  The album’s production works with its overall content to bring everything together.  The production shows that much time, thought, and effort was put into making each song the best possible.  That work paid off, too.  The result is a presentation that sounds impressive throughout.  The vocals and instrumentations are expertly balanced in each song, and each work offers the most and effective impact on listeners.  When it is considered with the album’s overall content, the whole of those items makes the album in whole worth hearing at least occasionally, and most appealing to Weezer’s most devoted fans.  OK, Human is available.  More information on the album is available along with all of the  band’s latest news at:

Website: https://weezer.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/weezer

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

‘Unleashed’ Is Another Successful Effort For Skillet

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Earlier this month, Skillet “unleashed” its latest full-length studio recording to the world. Its tenth full-length studio offering, Unleashed is everything that fans have come to expect from the band. That is not necessarily a bad thing, either. Over the course of its twelve total songs the album’s radio ready riffs and uplifting lyrical content make it a record that both secular and non-secular rockers alike will appreciate.  That is exhibited right off the top in the album’s high-energy, guitar-driven arena anthem ‘Feel Invincible.’  ‘Lions,’ with its stirring musical arrangement and equally uplifting lyrical content serves to show just as much what makes the album another success for the band.  ‘Burn It Down,’ with its Orgy-esque musical arrangement and powerful lyrical content serves n its own right to show what makes Unleashed another solid new offering from Skillet.  Of course these three songs are just a small sampling of what makes this record stand out.  ‘Undefeated,’ ‘I Want to Live’ and ‘Out Of Hell’ each stand on their own merits, too.  When they are set against the other three songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the record in whole proves to be yet another successful effort from Skillet.

Skillet’s latest full-length studio offering Unleashed is in whole another solid, successful effort from the veteran rock outfit. That is exhibited throughout the course of the album’s forty-three minute run time thanks to the album’s mix of radio ready riffs and uplifting lyrical content.  The album’s opener is just one example of how that combination of musical and lyrical content makes Unleashed another solid record from the band.  That is due in part to the song’s keyboard-driven musical arrangement.  It instantly conjures thoughts of Muse’s hit song ‘Uprising.’  Guitarist Seth Morrison’s guitar line and drummer Jen Ledger’s time keeping couple with Korey Cooper’s keyboard line to make the song’s musical arrangement infectious and sure to be a favorite among audiences.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s positive lyrical content sits on the foundation formed by the song’s musical arrangement and makes the song even more solid.  It presents a message of self-determination and confidence as Cooper sings, “Target on my back/Lone survivor lasts/They got me in their sights/No surrender no/Trigger fingers go/Living the dangerous life/Hey, hey, hey/Everyday when I wake/I’m trying to get up/They’re knocking me down/Chewing me up/spitting me out/Hey, hey, hey/When I need to be saved/You’re making me strong/You’re making me stand/Never will fall/Never will end/Shot like a rocket up into the sky/Nothing could stop me tonight.”  Cooper’s subject is someone who isn’t letting anyone or anything keep him or her down here.  Even more interesting is that these lines could apply just as easily in the secular realm as in the non-secular realm.  That is a strong statement in itself. And it applies to the rest of the song’s verses, too.  Keeping that in mind, that vast inspiration couples with the song’s musical arrangement to show clearly why ‘Feel Invincible’ is such a strong example of what makes Unleashed such a solid new effort from Skillet.  Audiences can hear ‘Feel Invincible’ now online via Skillet’s official YouTube channel. It is only one of the songs that exhibit this, too.  ‘Lions’ is another example of what makes Unleashed such a strong new effort from the band.

‘Feel Invincible’ is a prime example of what makes Unleashed another successful effort for the veteran rock act. That is due to the combination of the song’s musical arrangement and its uplifting lyrical content.  The two elements together make the song a solid start for the album and its own standout composition within the bigger body of the album.  It is not the album’s only notable inclusion. ‘Lions’ stands on its own merits, too as another example of what makes this record a success.  One of those merits is the song’s musical arrangement.  The song’s musical arrangement combines Korey Cooper’s work on keyboards with an equally stirring string arrangement to form its foundation. John Cooper’s vocals and bass line strengthen that foundation even more alongside Jen Ledger’s work behind the drums.  The end result is a musical composition that in itself stands just as tall and proud as the giants and lions that are mentioned in the song’s lyrical content.  Speaking of that lyrical content the song’s lyrical content is just as important to the song as its musical arrangement.  [John] Cooper sings here, “Today is ours/It’s always been/Before we face the fight/We know who’s gonna win/We live by faith and not by sight/We don’t want safe and quiet/We don’t wanna run and hide.”  He goes on to sing, “This is not an intermission/It’s our time/Not gonna miss it/You’ve already called us fearless/Unafraid.”  The message presented here is obvious.  It is a message of self-confidence and pride, just as with the album’s opener.  And it is just a small sampling of that message, too.  The song’s lead verse and third verse present much the same message.  What is interesting here is that considering the confidence presented in these lines, one would expect the song’s musical arrangement to be more intense.  But the song actually works just as well with the mix of confidence and gentility that is in fact presented in this arrangement.  It actually serves to make the song’s lyrical message more impacting.  When all of this is taken into consideration, it makes clear why ‘Lions’ stands out just as much as ‘Feel Invincible’ and the album’s other offerings.  One more of those standout offerings included in this record is ‘Burn It Down.’

‘Feel Invincible’ and ‘Lions’ are both clear examples of what makes Unleashed another success for Skillet.  While both songs clearly exhibit in their own way what makes this record a success, they are hardly the album’s only bright spots.  ‘Burn It Down’ is one more of the album’s high points.  That is due in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  Audiences that know their music history will instantly catch a clear similarity between this song’s musical arrangement and that of Orgy’s cover of ‘Blue Monday.’  It is most evident in hearing Seth Morrison’s guitar line, Korey Cooper’s keyboard line, and John Cooper’s bass line.  The similarity isn’t a mirror image so to speak.  But it is so close that there is no similarity between the two songs coincidental or not.  Keeping this in mind, the song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical content presents a message of proud defiance against life’s obstacles, much as the album’s other songs.  That is evident as Cooper sings, “Do you ever wish that you weren’t a prisoner/Do you feel like you’re done/All the dreams you had are hard to remember/Well, you’re not the only one/Well it’s over, it’s over, it’s over/I won’t be pushed around/Move over, move over, move over/get back or just get out/Set this plane up in flames/It’s over, it’s over, it’s over/It’s time to burn it down.”  He is saying to listeners, everyone has felt those tough times at one point or another and that no one should let those difficult times stop them.  Rather, they should face them and burn them down, metaphorically speaking of course.  That message is presented just as clearly in the song’s second verse as Cooper sings, “Do you ever feel your colors are fading/Like your world might combust/Do the voices in your head make you crazy/When they’re the only ones you trust.”  He reprises the song’s chorus right after that, reminding listeners once again not to let themselves get pushed around and held down by life’s many obstacles even when it seems like even one’s own thoughts are working against a person.  It is a message that never gets old and is always welcome by listeners of all ages.  When it is set against the song’s high-energy musical arrangement, the two elements couple to show in whole why this song is yet another of the most notable of this record’s songs.  When the song is set alongside ‘Lions’ and ‘Feel Invincible,’ all three songs show clearly why Unleashed is another welcome offering from Skillet.  When they are joined with the remainder of the album’s songs, the album proves in whole to be one more success from one of the Christian rock community’s top acts.

Skillet’s new album Unleashed is, in whole, another successful effort from the veteran rock act.  Christian rock act or not, this album is still a solid new effort from the band.  That is evident both in the musical arrangements presented in each of the album’s songs and the songs’ lyrical content.  The musical arrangement present radio ready riffs from one to the next.  The lyrical content presented within each song will is uplifting without being preachy at any point.  The end result is a record that secular audiences should and will appreciate just as much as non-secular listeners.  All things considered Unleashed proves in the end to be one more successful effort from Skillet.  The band is currently touring in support of Unleashed.  It will be in Anaheim, California tonight and Duquoin, Illinois August 28th.  Audiences can see the band’s full tour schedule online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.skillet.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/skilletmusic

 

 

 

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TSO Goes Back To Its Past On New EP

Courtesy:  Atlantic Records

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Trans Siberian Orchestra is back at it again.  It’s been over fifteen years since this famed melodic power rock band first turned the world of Christmas music on its ear with its blend of classical, rock, and holiday sounds.  And it’s been eight years since the band’s last holiday themed release, The Lost Christmas Eve (2004).  Now, the band has returned to form after the release of its most recent album, Night Castle with the release of its new EP, Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night).

TSO’s new EP offers fans four new songs and one that revisits an old classic and updates it at the same time.  That track is the EP’s title track.  Long-time fans of TSO will instantly recognize the band’s song ‘Queen Of The Winter Night’ in this song.  The change here though is that it has been mixed in with the final movement of Vivaldi’s legendary ‘Four Seasons’ opus.  Obviously, going back in time for this song has and will continue to divide the band’s legions.  But adding in new material makes for an interesting musical reboot of sorts.   

The EP’s opener, ‘Winter Palace’ is the perfect first impression for this new release.  Its ominous piano based intro will instantly grab listeners and keep their attention throughout the course of the song’s near four minute run time.  It’s the song’s buildup from the first bars to the sudden harder edged rock sound that makes it such a powerful first song.  It will instantly conjure thoughts of the band’s breakthrough hit, ‘Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12/24’ with its overall tone.  And its transition into the EP’s title track adds even more power to the overall general effect of this new release.

The EP’s third track, ‘I Had a Memory’ is just as…well…memorable as song as anything that the band has released over the course of its “Christmas Trilogy.”  This one will instantly conjure thoughts of ‘Faith Noel’ also from the band’s previous Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve.  Fans will recall that after the song’s initial slower opening “A” section, the tempo picks up in its “B” section.  The overall sound here even goes to more of a rock based sound.  A side by side comparison of the two songs will surely show the similarity.  While the band obviously looked to its roots for this piece, it can’t be said that the band directly ripped itself off.  But the influence of its previous record is undoubtedly there in this song. 

The influence of the band’s previous works is evident even as it moves into the EP’s penultimate track, ‘Someday.’  Stylistically, its emotional, almost folksy sound is similar to that of certain material from the band’s debut 1996 album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories.  What’s different here though, is the song’s lyrical side.  Lyrically, it is a tribute on the part of TSO founder and singer Paul O’ Neill to his parents sung by vocalist Tim Hockenberry.  Hockenberry’s haunting vocal style won’t leave a single eye dry after hearing singing here, “So I wrote these words/And I hope they last/For the years have come/And the years have passed/Think of all they gave/Think of all the debt/But can’t find a way/To repay them yet/For the days still come/And the debt still mounts/And do words unsaid/Ever really count/But sometimes still/In the dead of night/I can see them there/In the pale moonlight/I am trying/And I don’t know how/And I don’t know when/But I’ll have to tell them/Someday.”  It’s not just Hockenberry’s vocals that will move listeners in this emotional piece, either.  The music makes for a fitting compliment to Hockenberry’s gritty and almost mournful vocals in this song.  Together, they make one more highlight to the EP.  It’s a song that will leave even the strongest person at least a little teary eyed.

TSO’s new EP closes out with the gentle and equally emotional vocals of singer Georgia Napolitano on ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping.’  Yet again, TSO has reached back into its bag of tricks here as its obvious this song was influenced at least some part by the band’s song, ‘Dream Child’ from its 1998 album, ‘The Christmas Attic.’  Napolitano’s vocals are so powerful in their gentility, proving once more the old adage that less is more is very true.  Listeners can almost see this loving mother figure holding her young child, smiling down on said child as she sings, “I can see you breathing/Know that I am near you/Feel the evening whisper/In gentle sighs/To close your eyes until tomorrow/Childhood dreams are always new/And when you are there I’ll follow/And believe that my whole life is…/You.”  If this final moment doesn’t send chills and draw tears once more from listeners, then it’s anyone’s guess what would.  ‘Time You Should Be Sleeping’ doesn’t necessarily show any real Christmas themes.  But that aside, its beautiful lullaby style sound and lyrics make it the perfect counterpart to the EP’s opener, gently landing listeners on another musical shore after the journey taken from the EP’s other songs, thus closing one more impressive release from one of rock’s greatest and most talented bands around today.

Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night) is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via TSO’s online store at http://transsiberianorchestra.shop.bravadousa.com/.  It can also be picked up at the band’s shows as it tours the country in support of the new release and its most recently full length Christmas album, The Lost Christmas Eve.  To get a full list of tour dates and all the latest news from the band, audiences can go online to http://www.facebook.com/TSO or http://www.trans-siberian.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Halestorm Holding Special Online Performance Today

Courtesy: Atlantic Records

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Halestorm has a very special treat for all of its fans today.  The band will be taking over the Warner Sound studios today.  The band will be performing live at 3pmEST/12PT for a very special Live Session performance.  Fans can check out the announcement from the band right here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfpxXV3HrVg.  And fans can go to The Warner Sound’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/TheWarnerSound

The PA based band’s performance is all part of its ongoing promotion for its most recent album, Strange Case Of…  The album was released April 10th via Atlantic Records and was produced by mega producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Sepultura, Theory of a Deadman, etc.)  Those who don’t get the chance to catch the band this afternoon will still get plenty of opportunities to see the band live as it tours in support of its new album.  The band’s next live performance will be Thursday, November 8th at the Soul Kitchen in Mobile, Alabama.  It will also be making a stop in Asheville, North Carolina on Wednesday, December 12th at the Orange Peel.  Halestorm’s fans can get a full tour rundown and all the latest news from the band online at http://www.halestormrocks.com, http://www.facebook.com/halestormrocks, and http://www.myspace.com/halestorm

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always get the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Zac Brown Band Impresses Again On “Uncaged”

Courtesy: Southern Ground Artists/ROAR/Atlantic Records/wngreen

Zac Brown band’s third release, “Uncaged” is an interesting work.  While this record does have some of the same feel of the band’s 2008 debut, “The Foundation”, it goes in a slightly different direction.  What it tries to do is mix the sounds of its previous two releases into one full album.  It’s not the worst album that the band has released.  But it isn’t the best, either.  Regardless, it still has enough firepower to make it a fun listen.

The album opens very strongly with the song, ‘Jump Right In.’ The drums and whistles instantly conjure thoughts of Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival festival.  The song goes straight into the Jimmy Buffet song style that has made the Zac brown band so popular.  It’s just as uplifting lyrically as it is musically.  Brown sings in the song’s chorus, “You can jump right in/let the music pull you in/You can jump right in/Oh, lose yourself again/as the southern wind sings again/another lullaby.”  Simply put, this song is just a feel good song.  It’s about letting go of the worries of the world and simply having a good time every now and then.  It makes for a wonderful opening to this new album.

‘Jump Right In’ is followed by a song that is just as solid in the album’s title track.  While it’s just as solid a song, its general feel is quite different from ‘Jump Right In.’ This track has more of an Allman Brothers Band feel.  The use of the organ and the guitar work gives the song that feel.  And from the opening verse, listeners get more positive vibe.  Zac sings as the song opens, “Gonna drift to the great wide open/gonna set my spirit free/won’t stop till I reach the ocean/gonna break these chains all in me.”  The song’s second verse is just as uplifting.  He sings on verse two, “Gonna swim in the coldest river/gonna drink from a mountain spring/Live in the land of the great wide open/let the water roll all over me.”  The remainder of the song carries that same uplifting vibe.  Both musically and lyrically, it will get any listener moving.

The band kicks into a bluegrass vibe after these two songs in the album’s fourth track, ‘The Wind.’  Brown picks with the best of them in this song.  Rather than being one of the standard country style songs of lost love, Brown pays tribute to a very special woman.  He sings in this song, “Where the wind blows baby/you can bet/I’ll be ridin’ high with it/holdin’ on for my dear life just like I always did/Close yoru eyes babe/take a breath/say my name/and I’ll be there/My love will find you anywhere/anywhere, my love.”  The guitar breaks and musical backing in general make this one of the album’s top songs.  It would be no surprise if this song becomes one of the album’s singles.

Fans of ZBB in North Carolina will take pride knowing that “Uncaged” was recorded in the old north state.  It was recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording.  Among the big name artists and bands that have recorded at Echo Mountain are the likes of:  Dierks Bentley, Darkest Hour, Soilwork, Smashing Pumpkins, and T. Bone Burnett, just to name a handful.  The studio’s list of who has recorded there is far longer. 

“Uncaged” is available in stores and online now.  The band is currently touring in support of the album.  Fans in North Carolina will get to see the band live when it makes a stop at Charlotte’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  Fans can keep up with all the latest news and tour dates from Zac Brown band online in the meantime at http://www.zacbrownband.com, http://www.facebook.com/zacbrownband, and http://twitter.com/zacbrownband.

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Cody Simpson Brings Fans Installment Three Of Summer Video Series

Teen pop sensation Cody Simpson has released the newest video in his Wish You Were Here Summer Series. In the series’ third brand new installment, Cody and company take fans along for the ride for the group’s performance at the OC Fair. Fans get to see Cody on stage, behind the scnees and interacting with fans before and after the show. It’s all set to Simpson’s song, “Wish You Were Here.”  Just click the link right here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhJJWrkBYPc.  The first two episodes of Cody’s series are also available online now.  Episode 1 can be viewed at http://youtu.be/5TP1Mu5Hu4W.  Episode 2 can be seen at the link here:  http://youtu.be/TmbuGSUhom4.
While fans watch the latest episode from Cody’s Wish You Were Here Summer Series, they can also check out his “Preview to Paradise” EP on iTunes at http://bit.ly/TWSPreviewtoParadise. Fans can also follow all the latest news and tour information from Cody online at http://www.codysimpson.com, http://www.facebook.com/codysimpsonmusic, http://twitter.com/codysimpson, http://www.youtube.com/codysimpsonmusic, and http://www.myspace.com/codysimpsonmusic.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.