Scale The Summit Announces New Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Scale The Summit is heading out on tour this spring.

Scale The Summit will embark on a twenty-eight-date tour this spring in support of its latest full-length studio recording V. The tour kicks off Tuesday, March 15th in Los Angeles, CA and runs through Wednesday, April 13th in San Francisco, CA. The first portion of the tour will see the band making its way from California into the Southwest and Midwest. There will also be a string of dates along the East Coast that begins Thursday, March 24th in Atlanta, GA. That leg includes a stop in North Carolina on Sunday, March 27th at The Rabbit Hole. After winding down the East Coast leg of its tour, STS will then perform another small handful of dates in the Midwest before heading north into Canada for the last leg of the tour. That leg will see the band Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver just to name a handful of cities. After wrapping the Canadian leg of its tour, the band will then head south again to perform in Seattle, WA on April 11th, Portland, OR on April 12th, and then San Francisco, CA on April 13th. The band’s complete current tour schedule is listed below.

 

TOUR DATES


3/15 Los Angeles, CA – Roxy #

3/16 San Diego, CA -Brick By Brick #

3/17 Mesa, AZ – Nile Underground #

3/18 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad #

3/19 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theatre #

3/20 Lawrence, KS – Aftershock #

3/21 Fort Worth, TX – Tomcats #

3/22 Austin, TX – Dirty Dog #

3/23 Houston, TX – Walters #

3/24 Atlanta, GA – Masquerade #

3/25 Tampa, FL – Orpheum #

3/26 Jacksonville, FL – 1904 Music Hall #

3/27 Charlotte, NC – Rabbit Hole #

3/28 Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel #

3/29 New York, NY – Marlin Room @ Webster Hall #

3/30 Boston, MA – Middle East #

4/1 Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace #

4/2 Detroit, MI – Loving Touch #

4/3 Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club #

4/4 Minneapolis, MN – Skyway Theatre #

4/5 Winnipeg, MB – Goodwill #

4/6 Regina, SK – Exchange #

4/7 Edmonton, AB – Skylite #

4/8 Calgary, AB – Dickens #

4/9 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre #

4/11 Seattle, WA – Crocodile #

4/12 Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre #

4/13 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill #

# with Intronaut, North

 

Scale The Summit will serve as co-support act for Intronaut for the upcoming tour, which marks the first time that STS will have performed live with drummer J.C. Bryant. V is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct via Prosthetic Records’ online store, Scale The Summit’s official Bandcamp page, Amazon, and iTunes. More information on Scale The Summit’s upcoming tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.scalethesummit.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/scalethesummit

 

 

 

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Holy Grail Debuts Lyric Video For New Single, ‘No More Heroes’

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Holy Grail will release its latest album next month. In anticipation of the album’s release–the band’s third full-length recording–the band debuted the lyric video for its new single ‘No More Heroes’ this week.

The lyric video for ‘No More Heroes’ is an interesting new production. It presents the lyrics for the song set against a backdrop of battle scenes from World War II. It should be noted that the scenes in question are not actual footage but instead computer generated recreations of different scenes from World War II. Even having been re-created via CG, the backdrop in question is surprisingly impressive.

Courtesy:  Noisey/Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Noisey/Prosthetic Records

Front man James Paul Luna discussed the concept behind ‘No More Heroes’ in a recent interview noting that the song centers on what is happening around the world as a result of tryanny and what must be done to stop it. “Conspiracy or not, heavy shit is going down in the world, and we can’t survive battling it alone,” he said. “‘No More Heroes’ is about the evils of tyranny and self-will, where only strength in numbers can persevere. We’re all in this together, for the win. With that being said, we’re very pumped to be hitting the road with the mighty Black Tusk this spring. Together, we will wave the flag of heavy metal across North America, and together we will shred in the name of heavy metal. Stay hard and see you soon.” Speaking of the band’s tour, the band is currently touring in support of its new album. The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

2/11 San Antonio, TX – Fitzgerald’s ^
2/12 Houston, TX – Scout Bar ^
2/13 Dallas, TX – Trees ^
2/14 Little Rock, AR – Juanita’s ^
2/16 Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade ^
2/17 Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits ^
2/18 Orlando, FL – Backbooth ^
2/19 St. Petersburg, FL – The State Theatre ^
2/20 Ocala, FL – O’Malley’s Alley
2/22 Greenville, SC – Gottrocks
2/23 Charlotte, NC – Milestone #
2/24 Virginia Beach, VA – Shakas #
2/25 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie #
2/26 Boston, MA – Once Ballroom #
2/27 Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus #
2/29 Burlington, VT – Nectars #
3/1 Quebec City, QC – Le Cercle #
3/2 Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques #
3/3 Toronto, ON – Hard Luck #
3/4 Detroit, MI – Berserker Fest #
3/5 Chicago, IL – Reggies #
3/6 Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon #
3/7 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock #
3/8 Fargo, ND – The Aquarium #
3/9 Winnipeg, MB – The Windsor Hotel #
3/11 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos Cantina #
3/12 Edmonton, AB – Brixx #
3/13 Calgary, AB – Palomino #
3/14 Kamloops, BC – The Office #
3/16 Vancouver, BC – The Biltmore #
3/17 Seattle, WA – El Corazon #
3/18 Spokane, WA – The Pin #
3/19 Portland, OR – Panic Room #
3/20 Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub #
3/22 Santa Cruz, CA – Catalyst #
3/23 San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside #
3/24 Los Angeles, CA – Viper Room #
3/25 San Diego, CA – Brick by Brick #
3/26 Phoenix, AZ – Pub Rock #
3/28 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Bar #
3/29 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater #
3/30 Kansas City, MO – Riot Room #
4/1 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter #
4/2 Newport, KY – Southgate House #

^ with Marty Friedman
# with Black Tusk

‘No More Heroes’ is available now as a digital single. It is included as an instant download with all pre-orders of the band’s new album Times of Pride and Peril. Physical pre-order bundles of Times of Pride and Peril include: 1) A physical copy of the album on CD or LP, 2) Exclusive T-shirt, ong-sleeve, or hoodie designs. Fans can place their orders for physical pre-order bundles online now at http://prostheticrecords.limitedrun.com/bands/holy-grail. Fans can also pre-order Times of Pride and Peril online now via iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp at:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/times-of-pride-and-peril/id1061331360

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018AHIGG4?ie=UTF8&ref_=cm_sw_su_dp

Bandcamp: https://holygrail.bandcamp.com/album/times-of-pride-and-peril

Vinyl options for Times of Pride and Peril include: Black, Limited-Edition Orange, and Limited-Edition Marble variants. Each vinyl copy of Times of Pride and Peril comes in a gatefold package that includes a color poster/lyric insert and download card. The full track listing for Times of Pride and Peril is noted below.

TRACK LISTING
1. Crystal King
2. Waste Them All Away
3. Sudden Death
4. Those Who Will Remain
5. Descent Into The Maelstrom
6. Apotheosis
7. Psychomachia
8. No More Heroes (listen)
9. Pro Patria Mori
10. Black Lotus

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a toi meshen Gets Off To A Good Start With Its Self-Titled Debut LP

Courtesy:  Misery Pill Records

Courtesy: Misery Pill Records

Orange County, California is one of the most historic regions of the country in regards to the modern history of music. It has been home to the likes of Agent Orange, Fu Manchu, Offspring, Aquabats, Thrice, Social Distortion, and so many others. Odds are most music lovers out there have probably not heard of most of those bands save perhaps for the likes of Offspring (no, it’s not THE Offspring, just like it’s not THE Deftones) and Social Distortion at least in terms of that short list. Orange County, California has been home to some of the biggest acts both in the mainstream and the underground. That’s the point of that statement. There are more acts than can be noted in one sitting, plain and simple. One of the region’s bands looking to add its name to that already expansive list goes by the name of, a toi meshen. Yes, that is really the band’s name. It is pronounced A Toy Machine. The band released its self-titled debut album this past October (October 1st to be exact). The ten-track, thirty-seven minute record is an interesting first effort from the band. That is thanks in large part to its sound. The easiest way to define the band’s sound is in its similarity to that of Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, and certain other more well-known acts. That is thanks to its balance of rap and rock elements throughout the course of the record. Interestingly enough even with such comparison, the band actually holds its own against the likes of LP and other rap rock acts. One of the best examples of that ability lies in the album’s opener ‘Waste of Time.’ That song will be discussed shortly. ‘Phony People’ is another key example of the band’s famliar sound and its abiilty to use said sound to hold its own against its more well-known counterparts. ‘Tear Down,’ the album’s penultimate is one more example of the band’s sound and its ability to use that sound to hold its own against its more well-known counterparts. All three songs noted here each show in their own way what audiences can expect from the band’s self-titled debut. Together with the other seven songs not noted here, the album in whole proves to be one that is a promising start for the band.

a toi meshen’s self-titled debut album is a good start for the band. Listening through the course of its ten total tracks, it is easy to make a comparison between this five-piece Orange County, CA-based band and the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Linkin Park and to a lesser degree Shinedown among other more well-known counterparts. Even with such comparisons easily made, it can be said of the band and its debut album that both do a good job of proving independent acts (both those signed to indie labels and those that are unsigned) can and in many cases do hold their own against their more well-known counterparts. That is proven right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Waste of Time.’ This rap-rock composition takes the influence of the noted acts to form a song that radio programmers would be just as comfortable adding to their stations’ play lists as any of the songs from said acts. Audiences can hear that mix of sounds for themselves via the band’s bandcamp page at http://atoimeshen.bandcamp.com/releases. In terms of the song’s lyrical content, vocalists Tony Lanza and Daynon Lato don’t come out and say whether the song is referring to a broken romantic relationship or friendship at any point in the song. That is exemplified as Lanza raps over Lato’s own vocals in the song’s lead verse, “At a time/To define/Who we are/Where we at/How it is/It ain’t a prophecy/We relaying/A part of a tragedy/You cannot/Justify/What you do/Cuz I’m not gonna wait/You can never create/You in a blind state/Destroy your fate/Take me back/To the day/When I was never locked in a cage/Easy to rock the spot/Drop/My world is hot/Moving on/Understand where we stand/How we dropping the plan/Looking back at our time/I realize it was never mine.” And that is just the start. In the song’s second verse, the duo’s call and response paints even more of a vivid picture as they sing/rap against one another, “Rising up/From the fall/As I call/Just to weaken you all/Is it making me stronger/I feel the anger within/Begin my ultimate sin/Rah/Said to me/Now the hold that you had is now gone/It’s a twist of reality/Don’t get it twisted/Avoid the fact you missed it/I’m the one/That is breaking you down/Now I see all the madness around/And I’m not gonna take it/So check it out/I’m at the very point/To kill the joint.” Yet again there is some ambiguity in the song’s lyrical content. That ambiguity is maintained in the song’s third and final verse. considering the fact that the band left the song’s interpretation at least somewhat in the air is actually a good thing. The song is clear enough lyrically that listeners know that it comes from a very personal place. Now whether or not the song comes from a romantic or general personal standpoint is another story. And in all honesty regardless of which angle is the correct one, it could be used for both in examining these lyrics. That dual use of the song’s lyrics coupled with the song’s overall musical content makes it a solid example of what makes this record a good first effort from e toi meshen. It’s just one example, too.   ‘Phony People’ is another example of what makes this album a good first effort from the band.

‘Waste of Time’ is a clear example through its musical and lyrical content as to why a toi meshen’s debut album is a good start for the band. The personal, self-assured statement made through the song’s lyrical content set against its solid musical content makes it a song that could easily be the song to break the band on any mainstream rock radio station. It is just one example of what makes this album a good first effort from the band. ‘Phony People’ is another example of what makes this record a good first effort from a toi meshen. Just as with ‘Waste of Time,’ this song’s musical content clearly shows the influence of its more well-known counterparts. It can also be heard via the band’s bandcamp page. In regards to the song’s lyrical content, the song is a sharp indictment of all of the fake people in the world. This could apply to people in our everyday lives, the fake people who line the halls of the entertainment world, and anywhere else. Lanza and Lato make that clear as they rap/sing against one another, “Look at all the phony people out there/They’re the reason that I don’t even care/And now I’m forced to make you tell the truth/And make you realize that you’re full of/Lies.” The pair goes on in the song’s second verse, saying, “And I don’t believe/That you can prove/All the stories that you devise/Cause now I know/That what I see/Is far from perfect.” It’s not the first time that any band has crafted such an indictment of the fake people who fill the world. That is a given. But it is still a solid statement in its presentation here. That being the case, it becomes yet another example of what makes e toi machine’s self-titled debut record a good first effort. And together with ‘Waste of Time,’ both songs together paint an even richer picture of what makes this record a good first outing for the band.

‘Waste of Time’ and ‘Phony People’ are both clear examples of what makes a toi meshen’s self-titled debut a good first effort from the band. While both songs are good examples of what the album has to offer they are also not the only examples. ‘Tear Down’ is one more example of just what a toi meshen has to offer in its debut record. Much as with ‘Waste of Time’ this song is another radio-ready composition. That is exhibited through its up-tempo musical content. The balance of the song’s guitar and keyboard line throughout the course of the driving tempo will keep listeners fully engaged. The song’s lyrical content will keep listeners just as engaged as Lanza takes the lead, rapping “On the inside where it all began/Pressing on my mind for the right plan/And it feels out of time/And it feels like an SOS/From the outside as I’m looking in/Trying to make new in my old skin/And I don’t understand/Why you treat me the way you do/Yeah I don’t like it/I think twice/I won’t pay the ultimate price/Now I’m walking backwards/Falling from the weight of you/So here I am again/And I’m standing.” Lanza comes across as addressing a figure that aims to…well…tear down others emotionally and psychologically. That is made clear in the song’s chorus in which Lanza and Layto write, “Is this what you’re looking for/Tear down/You tear me down/And I’m about to break/I think I’m breaking/Tear down/You wear me own/I just can’t sit and take it/I’m just about to break/On the front side/Seeing crystal clear/Never too far from a lost tear.” No matter how much said figure tries to tear down the song’s speaker, that speaker never lets that happen, thus the line, “So here I am again/And I’m standing.” it comes across as a solid message of inner strength and self-confidence for listeners. That is just this critic’s own take on the song of course. It could very well be wholly wrong. If however it is somewhere in the proverbial ballpark then it shows even more why a toi meshen’s self-titled debut is a good first effort from the band. Of course it is not the only other song that could be cited as an example of what makes this record worth at least one listen. Any of the other seven songs that make up the rest of the album’s body could be cited just as easily. That being the case, all ten tracks featured in this record come together to show why this new record is a good effort in whole.

a toi meshen’s self-titled debut record is a good first effort from the band. This is exhibited from start to finish in the album’s ten-track, thirty-seven-minute run time. Musically speaking, the album presents a band that holds its own against the likes of Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown and other more well-known counterparts to the band. Lyrically, its personal stories and social commentary make it even more worth hearing. The combination of its musical and lyrical content together makes a toi meshen a solid start for the band. a toi meshen is available now and can be ordered direct via the band’s website at http://www.atoimeshen.com and the band’s official bandcamp page at http://atoimeshen.bandcamp.com. More information on a toi meshen is available online along with the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.atoimeshen.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AToiMeshen

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.

Empresarios’ New LP Will Leave Listeners With Their Own Positive Vibes

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Independent Latin group Empresarios’ latest full-length studio recording The Vibes is an impressive new release from the Washington, D.C.-based collective. The ten-track, forty-minute musical ride provided by the group is one that will bring together audiences of all tongues. This is despite the fact that of those ten tracks eight feature lyrics presented entirely in Spanish. The musical content of each of those tracks more than makes up for the lack of any English-translation for the songs’ lyrical content, again showing why this album will unite audiences of all tongues. So what of the remaining two songs? The songs, interestingly enough, are included as the album’s final two compositions. Both compositions are full-on instrumental tracks that stand just as well on their own merits as the pieces that precede them. The whole of those songs leads The Vibes to be just as solid of an introduction to Empresarios’ sound for those that are less familiar with the group’s sound as it is a welcome return for those that have followed the group from early on. While the songs that make up the body of The Vibes are in themselves plenty of reason for audiences to pick up this latest release from Empresarios, the sequencing of the songs is just as important to note. From start to finish all ten songs are ordered in such fashion as to keep the album’s energy flowing just enough to never lose listeners. The end result of that attention to detail in the album’s sequencing and to the songs themselves is an album that is one of the best of this year’s New World music offerings.

Empresarios’ new album, its third full-length studio offering, is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is a ten-track, forty-minute collection of songs that is certain to bring together audiences of all tongues. This is even without English translations for any of the songs included in the album that feature any lyrical content. The songs in question are so powerful in regards to their musical content that said musical content alone will have listeners on their feet, moving in time to those songs. The album’s opener ‘No Vamos A Parar’ is just one example of the group’s ability to bring audiences together. The song’s very title, which roughly translated into English means “We Are Not Going To Stop”, is hint at that. The group’s “Tropicaliente” is clear as day here with its mix of Latin and Afro-Cuban musical influences. The light, playful sound of the horns that opens the song sets a wonderful tone for the song. The equally light guitar line and hip-hop beats couple with the group’s rapping to make this song one that in full honesty doesn’t necessarily need lyrical translation in order to be enjoyed. Sure, it would be nice to have. But just considering the positive *ahem* vibe of the song’s musical content and from the very delivery of the song’s lyrical content, it is clear that this is a song that will in fact make listeners not want to end. It is just one example of how the album’s main body of songs makes this record just as enjoyable for those that speak Spanish as for those that don’t. The instantly club ready ‘A Fuego Lento,’ which translates roughly to ‘slow fire’ or ‘slow burn’ is an interesting piece because of the contrast of that title to the song’s overall content. The song does start somewhat slow and reserved. However, that reserved sound only lasts a matter of seconds before the song really kicks into gear and gets listeners moving again with that mix of different Latin sounds. ‘Salsoul,’ is one more example of the ability of Empresarios to reach audiences of all tongues. This song is yet another club-ready composition that is sure to get listeners on the dance floor. The band even goes so far as to encourage listeners to dance along with the band in the song’s lyrical side. And dance they will, too in hearing the song’s infectious grooves. It shows once more just why The Vibes is such a surprisingly impressive record regardless of listeners’ native language. That is not to discount any of the album’s other full lyrical/musical compositions. Each one of those songs not directly noted adds its own enjoyment to the whole of The Vibes to make its main body of songs plenty of proof as to why it is such a surprisingly enjoyable album. They are not the only reason that listeners will enjoy The Vibes. the album’s finale pairing of songs–‘Rootsy jam’ and ‘Alegria’–are just as important to the album’s enjoyment as each of the eight songs that come before them.

‘No Vamos A Parar,’ ‘A Fuego Lento’ and ‘Salsoul’ are each important in their own right to the enjoyment of Empresarios’ new album. Together with the other five tracks that make up the main body of The Vibes, all eight songs that make up the central body of The Vibes show clearly why audiences don’t have to speak Spanish (or even Portugese) to appreciate and enjoy this record. While they are collectively a hugely important part of the record’s success, they are not all that makes this record so enjoyable. The album’s final pairing of songs–‘Rootsy Jam’ and ‘Alegria’–which are both fully instrumental add even more enjoyment to the album. ‘Rootsy Jam’ boasts an infectious reggae vibe that will instantly conjure thoughts of Bob Marley and The Whalers. ‘Alegria’ on the other hand is somewhat more complex. It opens with a sound that seems to throw back to the days of disco with its mix of keyboards and beats. As the song progresses, horns and bongos join in for a distinctly Latin feel that carries listeners through to the end of the nearly four-minute song. Both songs stand out distinctly from one another. But each is still just as likely to have listeners on their feet, smiles on their faces as the sweat builds. That ability to keep listeners locked in and moving speaks volumes about these two songs. Both songs, set alongside the album’s other eight songs result in a record that lack of translations aside is still a record that audiences of every language will enjoy thanks to musical content that they will want to play all night long again and again.

The songs that make up the body of The Vibes collectively give listeners plenty of reason to check out this latest offering from Empresarios. While the songs are in themselves vastly important to the whole of the album, the album’s sequencing is just as important as the songs themselves. People in general tend to take sequencing for granted. But the reality is that the order of an album’s songs plays just as important of a role in the album’s success or failure as the songs themselves. In the case of this album its sequencing is just as much of a success as its songs. The sequencing of the songs maintains just the right amount of energy from one song to another to keep listeners completely engaged. In keeping listeners engaged, said audiences will agree that The Vibes will leave any listener feeling their own positive vibes. The Vibes is available now online and in stores. It can be ordered direct via Empresarios’ official bandcamp website at https://empresariosmusic.bandcamp.com/releases.

Empresarios’ latest LP The Vibes is an album that is certain to leave listeners with their own positive vibes thanks to the positive vibes that it exudes over the course of its ten tracks and forty minutes. Those good vibrations (bad pun fully intended) are generated through music that will keep listeners moving and smiling from the album’s outset to its end and their smart sequencing. By the end of the album’s closer, listeners feeling those positive vibes will agree that The Vibes is one of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings. It is available in stores and online now. More information on this and Empresarios’ previous pair of recordings is available online now along with the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.empresariosmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/los_empresarios

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.

Blanchard’s Debut LP Is A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Cumbancha Music Publishing

Courtesy: Vis-a-vis

Francesca Blanchard is not the most well-known name in the music industry today. But the French-born singer-songwriter is no stranger to the music industry. She has been writing music ever since her childhood. And in 2011, she released her very first recording, Songs on an Ovation. The record, a six-song EP, was released via Emote Records. Now a little more than four years after its release Blanchard will finally release her debut full-length studio recording for American audiences. The aptly titled Deux Visions will be released Friday, October 2nd via Vis-a-vis. Deux Visions is such an aptly titled record because Blanchard presents both her French and American roots throughout the course of the album’s twelve total songs. She sings half of those songs in English and the other half in French. In doing so she is able to reach not just her French-speaking listeners but her American listeners, too. This is just one element of the album worth noting. In direct correlation to her dual vocal approach, the lyrics to each of her songs have been printed in the album’s companion booklet side by side in both French and English, too. Not only does this mean that she will reach both audiences even more but that she will also guarantee keeping her listeners engaged. She and her label made sure to not leave out anyone. And being that this record is her debut full-length recording that is an especially good choice. Having noted her dual approach to her debut album, the next logical element to examine in this record is the combined musical and lyrical content of her album in whole. That material in question is notable because it stands out from so much music from her more well-known pop counterparts. It stands out because it switches seemingly from song to song. And even the lyrical content of each of the album’s songs boasts its own depth in comparison to that of other female artists. The combination of that standout musical and lyrical content set alongside the previously noted albums leads Deux Visions to prove itself one more of the year’s best new world music albums.

The official release date of Francesca Blanchard’s debut album Deux Visions is still roughly five weeks out at the time of this review. Even being so far out from its release it can still be said of her new album that it is one of the best of this year’s new world music field. It proves this in more ways than can be noted in one sitting. So this critic will focus on just a few ways in which it proves itself so impressive beginning with her performance of the album’s twelve total songs. Blanchard, who is French by birth but currently lives in Vermont, splits the album’s tracks right down the middle, singing half of the songs in French and half in English. She is not the only bi-lingual artist to use this approach. Colombian pop star Shakira uses a similar approach as do the men of Los Lonely Boys, kindie rock act Future Hits and others. While the approach that she takes is not exactly new, it does not make it any less important. That is because as with the albums released by the previous artists and acts, it shows an attention to detail so as to not alienate one listener base or another. What’s more, some of the aforementioned acts (and others) don’t always balance the linguistic approach on their albums as much as she has here. In many cases, the foreign language performances seem to take precedence over the English-language tracks. Though, it can be said that Future Hits come close as they go through their album Today is Forever first in Spanish and then repeat each song in English. While Blanchard’s approach isn’t quite at that level, the equal balance of French and English performances rather than a random slathering of French and English presentations ensures that audiences of both English and French backgrounds will be able to equally enjoy her new album so to speak. That is a solid foundation for her debut record. And it is just one level of that foundation, too. The presentation of the album’s songs both in English and French within the album’s booklet strengthens that foundation even more.

Francesca Blanchard’s balanced, dual-language approach on her debut album Deux Visions makes for a solid foundation for this first effort. It is not the only element that allows this album to sit so strongly, either. Each of the album’s songs are printed both in English and French in the album’s companion booklet. This means for French audiences whose abilities with English might not be so strong will still be able to enjoy it just as much as those English-speaking listeners whose abilities with French are just as weak. Some might read this and ask why this would be so important. The answer here is simple. It is important because especially today, not every group, band, or act includes lyrics with their albums. That can easily lead to misinterpretation of lyrics in many cases. In the case of a foreign language record, not having lyrics greatly diminishes the interest that those not familiar with the album’s linguistic approach might have in the album. What’s more even those albums that do include lyrics are not always guaranteed to include translated lyrics for those not fluent with the featured artist’s/group’s/band’s language. It does not necessarily have to mean English, either. It can be any language. In the case of this album it just so happens that Blanchard has seen to it along with Vis-a-vis that the songs’ lyrics were printed in both French and English. This means that those English audiences not familiar the French language will be able to understand the lyrics to each song just as much as French audiences not familiar with English. What this means is that Blanchard’s French and English audiences alike will be able to take in her debut album in whole without worrying about missing out on any of it. Simply put, everybody is at the same level in listening to this record as a result. This takes the foundation established by Blanchard in her performances that much stronger. It is not the last element of the album’s success, either. The overall musical and lyrical content of Blanchard’s album sits atop the foundation set by her approach to the album’s songs and their presentation both on record and in writing in two languages.

Both Blanchard’s dual-language approach to her new album both on record and in writing do plenty to make it an impressive first effort from the talented, young artist. For all of their importance to the overall structure of this record, the actual content of the album in regards to its musical and lyrical content is just as important to its whole. In regards to both elements, Blanchard manages quite well to stand out from so many of her more well-known counterparts. Listening to the album’s musical content, the first comparison that this critic came up with was to Mazzy Star. That is at least in songs such as ‘Mon Ange,’ and ‘Rame.’ At other points, listeners can hear hints of Vanessa Carlton (at least in her vocal delivery style), Norah Jones (both vocally and stylistically) and others. The combination of such comparisons in regards to both Blanchard’s own vocal delivery style and the overall stylistic approach to her album’s songs shows its ability to hold its own against said artists. The same can be said of the album’s lyrical content. Each of the songs present lyrical content that can be best described as being deeply personal and just as moving. ‘Rame,’ the album’s opener is just one example of how the album’s lyrical content helps the album to hold its own both in the underground realm and against more well-known mainstream acts. Blanchard presents a subject that is in a very dark place. Yet being in such a dark place, her subject still holds out hope, singing that “All is not lost/No/All is not lost. In the case of this song, Blanchard uses the metaphor of a person out at sea in a sinking boat. Despite the situation looking hopeless, her subject receives a sign of hope; a sign that everything will be okay. It is definitely an interesting approach to the topic of maintaining hope and even a partially optimistic outlook on things in those dark times. ‘Le Blues’ is another good example of how the record’s lyrical content helps it to stand out. Blanchard writes in this song of how the blues make her happy. What is interesting about this is that she is not necessarily referring directly to the blues that many might think. She refers seemingly to the different shades of blue in the world as well as the blues as a musical style. The gentle tones of the song’s piano line and the song’s overall somewhat jazzy style accent those lyrics so well. The combination of her play on words and the song’s musical content makes this song yet another prime example of why Deux Visions lives up to its title. ‘Papa…Pere’ is one more example of how the lyrical content of Deux Visions makes it such an original, standout recording for Blanchard. This deeply emotional piece presents Blanchard’s subject apparently singing to her father. It is inferred as she sings, “I looked up at the sky/And I said your name/Papa…Father/Where are you/And that’s when I saw you/Your star/Dancing across the sky/Flying over the atmosphere’s horizon/And just like that you heard me/And you came to me/Papa.” This is just one small portion of the song’s lyrical content. But it is a strong example of why this song helps to make the album in whole stand out. Those lyrics (and the rest of the song’s lyrics) alongside its gentle musical backing will move to tears every person that hears it. Any person that is not so moved is either heartless or not human. It is just one more example of how the combination of Deux Visions’ lyrical and musical content together serves to make it a standout recording both against music produced by Blanchard’s more well-known counterparts and for herself. Together with the presentation of its songs in both French and English both musically and on paper, all three elements show without argument why Deux Visions is a solid start for Blanchard and why it is also one of the best of this year’s new world music records.

Deux Visions is an impressive first full-length effort from Francesca Blanchard. The twelve-song record presents its songs both in French and English both on record and in print. The combined musical and lyrical content of the album’s songs add even more to the album’s benefit. All three elements combined, they prove that this record is just as enjoyable for audiences as those released by her more well-known counterparts in the mainstream pop and rock worlds. Being such a strong effort, the album in whole also goes to show that it is without argument one of the best of this year’s new World Music records so far. It will be available Friday, October 2nd and can be ordered direct via Blanchard’s official bandcamp website at http://francescablanchard.bandcamp.com/. It can also be pre-ordered via that website now. More information on Deux Visions is available online now along with all of Blanchard’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.francescablanchard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cheskablanch

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Get Stoked Proves It’s Just As Talented As Its Bigger Named Pop Punk Counterparts On Its New EP

 

Courtesy: Imminence Records/Persistent Heart Media

Courtesy: Imminence Records/Persistent Heart Media

Mount Pleasant, Michigan’s five-piece pop-punk band Get Stoked will release its new EP this month. Washington Street, the band’s new EP, will be released Tuesday, August 19th via indie label Imminence Records. This four-track disc is a good fit for anyone that is into bands such as A Day To Remember, All Time Low, and Yellowcard just to name a few. It’s interesting to note that among the EP’s five tracks, its opener is one of its best tracks. It’s interesting in that the song in question is an instrumental track that lasts not even two minutes. That song leads straight into what is another good example of audiences can expect from this EP in the form of ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’ This song’s title *ahem* speaks for itself. Audiences will understand in listening to the song’s lyrical content. And as a final example of what the band has to offer on its new EP, it also offers the song ‘Forward Progress,’ which is a welcome breath of fresh air after the more emotional songs that preceded it. Each one of the songs profiled here is by itself a solid pop-punk production. The songs in question combine with the other two songs not noted here to make for an EP that any pop-punk fan will find enjoyable.

Get Stoked opens its new EP with an instrumental that is simply considered the album’s ‘Intro.’ The song clocks in at not even two minutes long. To be more precise, it is only one minute and thirty-eight seconds long. Ironically enough, as short as the song is, it proves in the long run to be one of the best songs on the disc. It’s one of those songs that proves not every good song rock or otherwise needs lyrics to make it work. It would be just as easy to hear front man Cameron Wheeler singing alongside his band mates. But they—Jacob Cardona (drums), Ryan Turek (guitar/backing vocals), Ben Jensen (bass), and Zach Smith (guitar)—hold their own throughout this song’s ninety-second plus song. Cardona’s time keeping is spot on next to the work of Turek, Jensen, and Smith. For a band that is currently signed to an independent label, this introduction from the band shows that its sound is Just as solid as anything released by any of its bigger named counterparts. And that solid sound doesn’t stop here, either as audiences will note in Washington Street’s first full length song, ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words.’

‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’ is one more example of how easily Get Stoked stacks up against its bigger name pop punk counterparts. The song, which seems to center on personal relationships is the first chance for [Cameron] Wheeler to put his talents on display on this release. To be more exact, it comes across as being centered on a personal relationship with a former love interest. He goes so far as to make a commentary about all the men that the woman in question had slept with. This leads him to sing to her, asking, “What did you expect/We’ve all tried our best/And if you didn’t succeed/You blame it all on me/These cold winter nights/They leave me quiet and discreet/Who are you to tell me/Who I can and can’t be/When first we barely knew each other/But lately/I bet I’ve come to find out/What it is you’re looking for/And I can’t understand it/I won’t understand it/Until you explain it to me.” It is from here that Wheeler and company proceed to sing about the former love interest sleeping around with other men. And that leads everything full circle back to these opening verses, making them far clearer for listeners. Wheeler’s subject here is expressing the mix of emotions felt by someone who is dealing with an unfaithful partner. That lyrical theme alongside the song’s energy and sound makes the song whole and just one reason that pop punk fans will appreciate this record.

While Wheeler and his band mates delve into some emotional territory on Washington Street, there is also at least one song with a more positive outlook on things on the EP’s penultimate song. That song, ‘Forward Progress,’ exhibits a subject that has gone through the worst but still sees the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. That is something rare in today’s music industry. It seems like so many songs, regardless of genre, focus mainly on breakups and other negative topics. Wheeler sings in this song, “This is a thing called forward progress/I hope you know that I could care less/This is a thing called forward progress/I hope you know that I could care less/Face clenched/And arms bent/I’ll march through this/With only intent to make who/I wanna be/A realistic vision of myself/And everyone around me.” The defiant stance taken in these final verses gives a completely different view of life in comparison to the songs that come before ‘Forward Progress.’ And they make the song’s title far more fitting, too. It is Wheeler and company saying collectively, “I am going to be who I want to be no matter what others think of me.” This is an important message for the band’s audiences, especially in this age. Together with the previously noted songs and those not noted here, Get Stoked present to audiences an EP that is a work that is just as solid as anything released by its bigger named pop-punk counterparts.

Audiences can hear Get Stoked live now as the band is currently on tour with Backslashes and Bad Ideas. Audiences will also be able to pick up Washington Street at the band’s live shows after it is officially released. More information on Get Stoked, its tour schedule and more is available via the band’s official Facebook page. 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.

Atlanta Based Indie Hip-Hop Duo Ready To Break Out On Its Debut LP

Courtesy:  Autumn + Colour

Courtesy: Autumn + Colour

Atlanta, Georgia is home to some of the biggest names in the music industry.  It is home to Sevendust, Collective Soul, Stuck Mojo, and Stuck Mojo just to name a few.  It’s also home to hip-hop duo Outkast, whose members just recently announced that they are heading back on the road together after an extended hiatus to work on their own projects.  For all of the big name acts that call “Hotlanta” home, there are just as many lesser known acts that call that great city home, too.  One of those acts in question is another hip-hop duo that goes by the name of Ante Meridian.  The duo—Rozewood and Mr. Enok—re-issued its debut album this week.  At a time when mainstream hip-hop has become as tried and boring as mainstream rock, Ante Meridian’s debut proves to be a breath of fresh air for purist hip-hop and rap fans.

‘True Friend’ is the perfect kickoff to Sons of Heaven, the duo’s debut record.  Emcee Rozewood ruminates in this song about the loss of a friend to what would seem like gang violence.  He writes on the track, “Today I cried/Lookin’ at your photo/My n****s is gone/Thought about buying a gun and comin’ along/But it’s time for revenge/Return death to death givers/And dump they body in the soon to be red river/Sittin’ in my crib/On the stress mode/Loadin’ the clip…I can’t take it/The beauty of a childhood has been forsaken/Dear God please forgive me/For the acts I will do/The gats I will choose to spray s***…” There’s obviously some deep emotion expressed through this song.  What really makes the song interesting is the control that both Rozewood and Mr.Enok exhibit through the song.  The easy thing to do would have been to craft a battle rap style song.  Instead, the duo crafted a song that presents a figure with what would seem a much more collected thought process.  The song’s almost eerie, underlying piano lick set against Rozewood’s cool, collected rhymes creates a truly powerful first impression for the pair. It’s only the beginning of what fans will appreciate from this record, too.

Sons of Heaven’s second track, ‘N.Y. Thing’ is another impressive track.  The song is quite literally a lyrical love letter to the city that never sleeps.  Rozewood and Mr. Enok pay tribute to New York in this song.  It opens with a short sample with a man stating, “You’re a New Yorker/That will never change/You got New York in your bones/Spend the rest of your life out West/But you’re still a New Yorker.”  From here, the duo goes on to write of their favorite city, “If you’ve ever been to New York/You would understand what feel like to be caught in a wasteland/Trying to survive with a gun on your waistband/No matter where I’m at/I know where I am.”  The tribute goes on from here , bringing up memories of friends from the duo’s past that lived in New York’s five boroughs.  It might be pushing it, but it almost presents a song much in the same vein of Scarface’s ‘My Block’ just with a slightly different attitude.  It’s one more song that given the chance could be the duo’s next single.

The songs mentioned here are just small portions of what listeners have to look forward to from Ante Meridian’s new album.  Just as worth noting from Sons of Heaven are the likes of: ‘Remember My Eyes’, ‘Limitless’, ‘Red Lotus Blossom’ and ‘13th Floor’ with its gentle string backing. That backing set against Rozewood’s talents make this one of the highest of highs on this record.  These songs and all of the rest that make up the album’s seventeen total tracks are available now online on Ante Meridian’s Band Camp website, http://antemeridian.bandcamp.com and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Sons-Heaven-Explicit-Ante-Meridian/dp/B00GYCIBRC/ref=sr_1_cc_3?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1389905971&sr=1-3-catcorr&keywords=Ante+Meridian.  More information on Ante Meridian’s debut re-issue and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/antemeridianhiphop.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://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.