Lullwater Takes Audiences Back To The 90s With New Pearl Jam Cover

Independent rock band Lullwater is taking Pearl Jam fans back in time with a video for its cover of Peal Jam’s classic song ‘Release.’

The original song was included in Pearl Jam’s debut 1991 record Ten.  Lullwater’s take on the song was recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, Washington.  The video, which premiered via Loudwire, features the band performing with Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam, Candlebox) and Kevin Martin (Candlebox).

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Lullwater front man John Strickland discussed the band’s take on the song in a recent interview, saying recording and performing the song is something special for him.

“The entire process of recording Pearl Jam’s ‘Release’ in London Bridge Studios was so surreal,” Strickland said.  “Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands, and to cover that in one song in the same room as they did, was very emotional for me.  I had no idea that a couple of years later we would be performing it live with Dave Krusen and Kevin Martin on the Candlebox tour; it’s such an odd and incredible feeling of living and experiencing the moments we’ve made because of ‘Release,’  It’s by far the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me as a musician.  Thinking back to when I was in my adolescent years playing that song over and over and then one day to be performing it live with the original drummer, i simply crazy for me.  ‘Release’ has a special place in my heart and is one of my favorite songs to play live.”

Lullwater’s next album Voodoo is expected to be released in Winter 2018.  More information on that is available online now along with all of Lullwater’s latest news and more at:






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Veteran Rock Acts Tops Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rock Albums List

Courtesy: Santana IV Records

Courtesy: Santana IV Records

The rock community, it seems, was bursting at the seams with new releases this year.  While some records were okay at best, there were just as many that proved to be truly outstanding efforts.  Needless to say there were so many of said albums that it was anything but easy to come up with a list of the year’s top new rock records.  But somehow, Phil’s Picks managed it.  That list includes new efforts from bands young and old alike.  The more experienced bands featured on this list include: Santana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foghat just to name a few.  The younger bands represented here include the likes of Buffalo Summer, Love and a .38, and Zodiac.  Whether veteran or next generation, the rock community produced a slew of outstanding records this year.

Phil’s Picks presents 15 of those records with its Top 10 picks and five honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is the Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rock Albums.




  1. SantanaIV


  1. FoghatUnder The Influence


  1. The Dead DaisiesMake Some Noise


  1. Love and a .38Nomad


  1. Buffalo SummerSecond Sun


  1. Alter BridgeThe Last Hero


  1. ZodiacGrain of Soul


  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway


  1. Blackberry SmokeLike An Arrow


  1. Resurrection KingsResurrection Kings


  1. SkilletUnleashed


  1. Apollo Under FireApollo Under Fire


  1. Fates WarningTheory of Flight


  1. Ray RocketDo You Wanna Go To Tijuana


  1. Candlebox Disappearing in Airports




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Apollo Under Fire’s Self-Titled Debut Is One Of 2016’s Top New Independent Albums

Courtesy: EMP Label Group

Courtesy: EMP Label Group

Dave Ellefson’s upstart record label EMP Label Group has been quite busy ever since its birth late in 2015.  The label has already assembled a roster rich with heavy acts ready to reach the metal masses.  Those acts include the likes of Cage9, Doll Skin, Green Death, Dead By Wednesday, and a handful of others.  While the label has its fair share of heavy acts as part of its stable it also has some acts that are just as anxious to make it to the mainstream.  They are Another Lost Year and Apollo Under Fire.  Both bands have already released their latest respective records this summer.  The latter released its new album Alien Architect just last month and the prior released its self-titled debut this past June.  That record is perhaps the most standout of any of the records released by EMP Label Group so far this year.  That is because it is by far the label’s most radio ready record hands down.  Between its solid musical arrangements and its equally uplifting lyrical content this ten-song record proves to be one that will move listeners deeply from beginning to end.  Being that it is so powerful, it ultimately proves to be one of 2016’s top new independent albums and one of EMP Label Group’s best offerings yet.

Apollo Under Fire’s self-title debut album is one of 2016’s top new independent albums hands down.  It is also one of EMP Label Group’s best offerings yet.  That is thanks to the combination of the album’s solid musical arrangements and its equally uplifting lyrical content.  From one song to the next, the combination of those elements makes this record one that will put a smile on any listener’s face.  That is something that the rock (and music) community needs now more than ever.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘Gotta Believe’ is a prime example of how that combination gives this record such strength.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly conjures thoughts of Creed with its modern power ballad approach.  Love Creed or hate it, audiences on either side of the discussion should understand this comparison is meant only in an observational fashion.  Guitarists Peter Klett (Candlebox, Lotus) and Jimmy Kwong have crafted a sound in this song that almost directly mirrors that crafted by Mark Tremonti in his days with Creed.  To be more specific, its sound is akin to that of Creed’s ‘hit ballad ‘Higher.’  It isn’t a direct lifting.  But the influence (intended or not) is there.  And it does its own part in making the song so enjoyable.  The song’s lyrical content does its own share to make the song enjoyable, too.  That is because of the positive outlook on life offered up in that content.  It is exhibited as front man Donald Carpenter (Eye Empire/Submersed) sings here, “Even though I live in daydreams/I don’t feel like holding on/But I gotta believe my days aren’t over/Gotta believe this sun will shine sometime/Gotta believe this rain will cleanse my pain/An stand before a brand new life.”  This is just part of the hopeful vibe presented by Carpenter in the song’s lyrical content.  He goes on to sing, “We must face this fear of failing/With the will to overcome/Many candles shining brightly/Though they all were lit from one/We’re mirrors in faceless crowds/Bound by the sound/Of our lives as they pass us by.”  From here he and his band mates return to the song’s chorus, driving home that sense of determination and positive mindset once again.  Some might call it sappy.  But there are just as many people out there that need that positive reminder in their lives.  Even this critic has needed such a reminder more than once in life.  To that end, that positive lyrical message and the song’s equally moving musical arrangement make the song in whole a clear example of what makes Apollo Under Fire such a solid debut for the band.  It is just one of the songs presented in this record that serves to exhibit that, too.  ‘One Track Mind’ is another key example of what makes this record such a strong debut for AUF.

‘Gotta Believe’ is a key example of what makes Apollo Under Fire’s self-titled debut album such a strong effort from the band.  The song’s sweeping, Creed-esque musical arrangement couples with its equally uplifting lyrical content to make the song in whole a work that will put a smile on so many listeners’ faces.  The positive vibes exhibited through that combination of music and lyrics makes this song one of the record’s best moments.  It is only one of those great moments, too.  ‘One Track Mind’ is another song that shows the strength of this new effort from the band.  It stands out in part due to its musical arrangement.  Much as with ‘Gotta Believe’ (and most of the songs presented in this record) this song’s musical arrangement also boasts a certain influence from Creed.  That is obvious in the fact that its arrangement is also centered on that familiar modern day power ballad style presentation.  On the good side it isn’t just a repeat of ‘Gotta Believe’ in that arena.  It is, however just as big and epic as the arrangement presented in said song.  What’s different is those big, epic moments are saved here for the song’s chorus.  They are juxtaposed by a softer, more introspective sound presented in the song’s verses.  Speaking of the verses they offer their own value to the song, too.  Carpenter comes across here as singing from the vantage point of a figure who has changed quite a bit over time; someone that has gone from having that one-track mind to being more open to different viewpoints in life.  This critic in particular interprets the song’s lyrical content as centering on someone who is looking back on who he once was versus who he is now.  That is, again, just this critic’s own take on the song.  Hopefully it isn’t completely off the mark.  Regardless, it is clear through that interpretation and the song’s musical arrangement why this song is another important part of Apollo Under Fire’s self-titled debut. The deep thought presented in the song’s lyrical content couple with its equally powerful musical arrangement to make it really stand out as yet another of the album’s best moments.  It is definitely not the last of those key moments either.  ‘Weightless’ is one more example of what makes the album such a strong first effort from the band.

‘Gotta Believe’ and ‘One Track Mind’ are both key examples of what makes Apollo Under Fire’s self-titled debut record such a strong effort from the up-an-coming quintet.  That is due to the songs’ mix of powerful musical arrangements and their equally deep and moving lyrical content.  One is a full-on uplifting piece that reminds people to try and maintain an optimistic outlook even as difficult as it might be to do.  The other is more of a figure offering an introspective look at his past and present.  It basically reminds people (at least in this critic’s interpretation) that if he can change, anyone can change.  Cue the Rocky theme song.  Yes, that really bad reference to Rocky IV was fully intended.  While both songs offer their own insight and power they are not the only songs that stand out on this debut effort from Apollo Under Fire.  ‘Weightless’ stands on its own merits, too.  In regards to the song’s musical arrangement, it stands out because yet again that Creed influence is just as evident as ever.  Yet in its defense it still maintains its own identity separate from those power ballads crafted by Creed.  Keeping this in mind, the song’s lyrical content stands out even more as its main anchor.  The song’s lyrical content serves as its main anchor because of just how much it boasts its own identity separate from the rest of the album’s offerings.  This time out Carpenter sings about the power of a person’s love.  Carpenter’s subject seems to be addressing a love interest here as he sings, “Can I stay/With this restless heart/Is it too damn cold living miles apart/Can I stay/These games I play/With my fragile heart/I always push away/From a caring thought/These games I play/These games I play/These walls I built come crashing down/I am free/Your love has embraced me now/I am free/It’s a love that can overwhelm…floating ten feet off the ground.”  This is a feeling to which so many people can relate.  Who hasn’t felt that overwhelming sense of happiness at finding that person whose love overpowers everything else?  Carpenter’s subject continues on much in the same manner in the song’s second verse singing, “Well I have faith/In my changing heart/I have found the strength missing from the start/I have faith/I now have faith/These walls I built/Come crashing down/I am free/Your love has embraced me now/I am free/It’s a love that can overwhelm.”  What is interesting, in hindsight is that Carpenter mentions as he returns to the song’s chorus something to the effect of being on his knees and finding happiness.  So it leaves one to wonder if he is referencing not so much romantic love but spiritual love.  It would definitely be interesting to learn if that is what was being referenced here.  Regardless of spiritual or romantic, the positive message of strength from love is there.  It makes the song stand out even more.  Considering this, it joins with ‘Gotta Believe’ and ‘One Track Mind’ to show once more just what makes Apollo Under Fire’s self-titled debut record such a strong outing for the band.  Any of the other songs not noted here that make up the rest of the album’s body could be cited just as easily when considering the album’s strengths.  All things considered, Apollo Under Fire proves in the end to ultimately be one of 2016’s top new independent albums.  It also proves to be (along with Alien Arnchitect, Another Lost Year’s new offering) yet another viable chance for EMP Label Group to gain some real mainstream notoriety.

Apollo Under Fire’s self-titled debut album is one of 2016’s top new independent albums.  It is also one of EMP Label Group’s best chances at attaining real mainstream notoriety.  Another Lost Year’s new album Alien Architect is the label’s other major chance at that notoriety.  As is evidenced in all three of the songs noted here, the album’s powerful musical arrangements join with their equally uplifting lyrical content to put a smile on any listener’s face.  The same can be said of any of the album’s other offerings, too.  All things considered, this record proves to be a strong start for Apollo Under Fire, and with any luck just the start for the band.  Apollo Under Fire is available now.  It can be ordered online direct via the band’s official website.  More information on the album is available now online along with all of the band’s latest news at:










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Candlebox Inks New Deal With Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Veteran alt-rock band Candlebox has a big announcement for its fans.

The Seattle, WA-based band signed a record deal with independent record label Pavement Entertainment this week. Along with the new deal, the band announced that it will release its next record, its first since 2012’s Love Stories and Other Musings, early in 2016. The band is currently working with Grant McFarland and producer Carson Slovak on the as yet untitled album. Front man Kevin Martin discussed the band’s deal afterward, noting “Candlebox is excited about being part of the Pavement Entertainment Team.” He also noted the rich stable of acts already signed to Pavement as a reason for signing and the band’s outlook for the coming year saying, “They have great roster of artists and all of us at Candlebox are looking forward to a successful 2016.”

Pavement A&R head Tim King shared his thoughts with the media after the annnouncement expressing his love for Candlebox and its history as a central reason for getting Candlebox signed with the label. “Candlebox was, and still is, one of my favorite bands that emerged from the 90’s”, he said. “They are a band that has continued to stay true to their roots while still meeting with great success over three decades and multiple generations of fans.”

Candlebox has released five full-length studio recordings since originally forming in 1991. It has sold more than six million units domestically since that time including copies of its hit singles ‘You’ and ‘Far Behind.’ The band is currently on tour and will be at Fort Bliss Army Base in Fort Bliss, Texas this Saturday, August 8th. Its current slate of tour dates runs through December 4th in Santiago, Chile. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

Upcoming Shows:

Aug. 08 – Fort Bliss, TX – Ft. Bliss Army Base

Aug. 15 – Glen Flora, WI – North Woods Rock Rally

Aug. 21 – Sioux City, IA – Hard Rock

Aug. 22 – Island Lake, IL – Sideouts Bands in the Sand

Aug. 28 – Tacoma WA – Uncle Sams

Aug. 29 – Central Point, OR – Lithia Motors Amphitheater

Sep. 11 – Hinckley, MN – Grand Casino Amphitheater

Sep. 19 – Cottonwood, AZ – Thunder Valley Rally

Oct. 22 – Lawrence, MA – Caddagh Music Hall

Oct. 23 – Manchester, NH – Rock 101 Benefit

Oct. 24 – Utica, NY – Utica Memorial Auditorium

Dec. 4 – Santiago Chile

More information on Candlebox’s new record deal is available online now along with all of the latest news on its upcoming album, it’s tour and more at:



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Open Air Stereo’s Debut A Surprisingly Solid First Impression

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

There are those who stand by the belief that the best comes to those who wait.  Don’t tell that to the members of Open Air Stereo.  This pop-rock four piece from Laguna Beach, CA has proven that waiting is only part of the game when it comes to being successful in any avenue of life.  The band has waited and worked for over a decade to get to where it is today.  The work and the wait was well worth it as it recently signed a deal with Goomba Music and released its full length debut, Primates through the label.  This record is another one of those releases that reminds individuals such as this critic as to why we do what we do.  The band’s pop-rock hybrid sound makes it quite the fit for any mainstream rock radio station and even any Top 40 radio station.  This is evident throughout the course of the eleven tracks on Primates, the band’s debut record.

Primates is an excellent first impression for the band on anyone that is new to its music.  It opens with a pair of songs in ‘Right’ and ‘Love is Blind’ that are prime examples of the band’s ability to fit in on any radio format.  ‘Right’ sounds like a hybrid mix of Jimmy Eat World and U2 with the vocals of front man Chase Johnson and guitars of Scott Pounds.  This song, given the proper support, would be a good fit for any Top 40 radio station’s lineup.  ‘Love is Blind’ on the other hand is edgier, making it more fitting for a mainstream rock station as would ‘Where Do We Go.’  It shows the band’s Foo Fighters influence. There are points in this song that sound like a mix of ‘Learn To Fly’ and ‘Best of You.’  It’s one of so many points throughout the record that will have listeners happily singing along.  It comes across as slightly introspective song, lyrically.  But what’s so interesting is that thanks to the song’s musical side, it doesn’t come across like so many songs of that ilk.  Rather it gives a more upbeat vibe to what are some deep thoughts.  Johnson sings in the song’s chorus, “Where do we go from here?/When are we gonna stop?/I wanna beat this crazy world/Before it falls apart/I need to know right now/What we’re all about/Cause we’re running out of time to waste.”  It’s a deep song.  But thankfully Johnson and company took the road less travelled and crafted a song that doesn’t come across as so many self-serving and overly emotional emo songs that have ever been written. 

Primates offers audiences so much to rejoice in with its mix of pop and rock sounds, as has already been illustrated.  The aforementioned songs are just part of the whole that makes this album a surprise hit.  Audiences will also enjoy ‘What You Want.’  Drummer Nick Gross’ beats combine with Pounds’ guitar work to make what is sure to be one of the highest of points throughout this record.  Johnson’s breezy vocal style here mixes with his band mates’ work to produce a song that sounds like a mix of 311 and perhaps certain other bands.  The thing with this—and other songs on this album–is that despite having a sound similar to other bands, OAS still manages to maintain its own identity without sounding like it’s ripping off any other band.  For that alone, the members of Open Air Stereo are to be applauded. 

Even after ‘What You Want’, the band keeps audiences engaged with ‘Living Proof’ and Your Way is My Way.’  This song was just as solid a way to close the album as ‘Right’ was to open it.  It exhibits something of a Buckcherry influence without sounding too much like that band, either.  And it will have audiences singing along and moving right to the song’s final notes.  The song ends perfectly, almost as if the band could use it as a show closer at its live performances.

Speaking of live performances, the band is currently on the road in support of Primates.  Fans in North Carolina will get their chance to check out the band live when it makes a stop at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem on Thursday, June 6th.  It will be in Kokomo, IN at Centerstage alongside Candlebox.  Fans can get a full listing of the band’s tour dates as well as the latest news and updates from the band when they “Like” the band on Facebook at      

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