TMG Scores Big With The Debut Release Of The Saint: The Complete Series

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/itv

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/itv

Late this past May, Timeless Media Group, which is now officially part of the Shout! Factory corporate family, released the classic television series The Saint on DVD. The series’ release is significant because it marked the first time ever that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete set. It is safe to say of the recently released complete series set that with its release TMG has yet again lived up to its name and ever-growing reputation. Whether seeing the series and its new box set for the first time or seeing the series for the first time again, audiences will agree in purchasing it that it is a successful first time-release and potentially one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. The center point of the set’s success and enjoyment is the series’ writing. This includes both the stories penned for each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes and the deeper elements of the stories (E.g. the minimal amount of violence and overt sexual content). The packaging of this first-time release is also of note in regards to its success and enjoyment. On the surface the packaging seems bulky. But considering the fact that TMG was able to fit all one hundred-eighteen of the series’ episodes on thirty-three discs actually minimizes the set’s packaging to a point. That will be discussed later. Last but not least worth noting of the series in its recent re-issue is its overall look and sound (its production values). Both the series’ black-and-white episodes and its colorized episodes look and sound just as good as in their original broadcasts and their previous DVD releases. They sound just as good, too. Such positive production values make every single episode fully worth the watch. Being so worth the watch, audiences will in turn see for themselves the positives of the episodes’ writing and that of the set’s packaging. In appreciating all noted elements, viewers that pick up the set will agree that it is in fact a candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. This is especially telling considering the fact that its release this past May marked the first time that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete box. The main way in which it proves itself such an enjoyable set is the writing behind each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes. The writing behind The Saint is so impressive in that it is completely unlike that of its fellow UK-based action/drama Danger Man or even the likes of I Spy, which would come to American audiences only three years after the debut of The Saint. One of the best examples of what makes this series’ writing so entertaining comes in the form of the Season Two episode “The Benevolent Burglary.” Originally airing on December 26th, 1963, this episode sees Simon Templar having to defend his reputation and at the same time, stop the burglary of a museum. Simon makes a bet with an old acquaintance that the museum would be burglarized within forty-eight hours but that it wouldn’t be himself that burglarizes the museum. He has the police on his heels every step of the way because they don’t believe he has changed. Those that have any knowledge of film history will especially appreciate the writing in this episode because it actually throws back to Cary Grant’s 1955 hit big screen thriller To Catch A Thief. It’s a fitting inclusion to the series considering that star Roger Moore would go on to star in equally similar adventures in the role of the famed spy James Bond after this series’ end. Later in the series’ run the writers set Simon in some more serious scenarios such as having to handle human traffickers in Season Six’s “The People Importers.” For those wanting something more familiar, there is a classic style story in Season Five’s “The Escape Route.” It is in that episode that Simon gets himself arrested so as to infiltrate a group of inmates and find out who is heading up a series of recent escapes from Princetown Prison. Very similar plots have been developed for other TV series both before and after. It has even been used as a plot element in a number of action and drama flicks on the big screen. It’s just one more example of why the writing behind The Saint is so important to its enjoyment and success here in its full series set. Simply put, the writing behind The Saint is so pivotal to its enjoyment and success because it didn’t stick to one style of story. It presented both fun, action packed stories as well as more serious story lines, too. That the writers would present such a variety of stories from the series premiere to its finale will keep audiences watching nonstop.

Thanks to the work of the writers behind The Saint, audiences are presented in the series’ first-ever full series set nonstop action and adventure from one episode to the next. The series’ writers show from one episode to the next that they never stick to just one style of story. There are timeless, classic storylines and more serious ones, too. The combination of so many different story styles will keep audiences watching from the series’ premiere to its finale. As important as the writing proves to be to the set’s enjoyment and success, it is just one element of the set that makes it so enjoyable. Examining the set on another level, its packaging should be noted, too. On the surface, the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series looks rather bulky. However one must consider that the series ran for a total of six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. Considering this, TMG has taken it fully into account and given audiences the best possible packaging. Rather than just tossing in a bunch of standalone season sets, TMG has made the set as ergonomic as possible, combining together the series’ first and second seasons into one box, its third and fourth into another, and then its fifth and sixth season into their own standalone sets. Here is where things get just a little dicey. It is understandable that TMG’s people wanted to minimize the amount of space taken up within each set. But because of the set’s packaging, no fewer than seven spindles are left empty over three of the set’s boxes. One of those empty spindles is in the Season 3/4 box. Two more are in Season 5’s standalone set and four more are in Season Six’s box. Considering this, it would have seemed more logical to either eliminate those empty spindles or utilize them by combining part of Season Five into the Season 3/4 set and part of Season Six into the Season Five set. That would have ultimately reduced the size of Season Six’s box and cut down at least a little bit more. But as is, there is empty, unused space in three of the series’ four boxes. That aside, TMG’s people are still to be commended for having made the efforts that they did to maximize the use of the set’s space so as to minimize its space taken up on consumers’ DVD racks.

TMG and its employees are to be commended by and large for the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series. Even though it looks bulky on the surface, it is actually a relatively wise manner of packaging. It actually saves a certain amount of space on consumers’ DVD racks. On another note, the work of the series’ writers makes this collection enjoyable in its own right. The writers behind this series crafted over its six seasons one hundred eighteen episodes that ran the gamut from classic action fare to more serious episodes throughout. As enjoyable as every episode proves to be, they would not be worth mentioning if not for the work of those charged with restoring the series’ footage for its presentation here. Thanks to the efforts of those individuals every episode looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original broadcast. Each episode maintains its original look complete with that grainy feel. Yet it is obvious that the footage has been meticulously handled so that the grainy feel in question didn’t become overpowering at the same time. On a related note, the sound is just as impressive, too. The audio in each episode has been tweaked just enough to the point that any volume adjustments made from episode to episode and from scene to scene are minimal at best. Yet again, those charged with restoring the footage even in this arena are to be commended for their efforts. The end result of their efforts is one hundred eighteen episodes that look and sound just as wonderful as they did in their original broadcast. because they look and sound so good, audiences will in turn be able to appreciate the work of the series’ writers throughout. Both of these elements set alongside the series’ smart packaging prove together once and for all clearly why The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group and why it is also a clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group. The recently released box set presents solid, entertaining writing from the series’ premiere to its finale. The packaging minimizes the amount of space used up on consumers’ DVD racks to the best of its ability. Those charged with handling its packaging are to be commended for their efforts here especially considering the fact that the series ran for six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. The work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here are to be just as highly commended. It is thanks to their efforts that every one of those one hundred eighteen episodes looks and sounds just as good as they did in their original broadcasts, if not better. All things considered, The Saint: The Complete Series proves in the end to be yet another hit for Timeless Media Group and one more candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-action-adventure/the-saint-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Timeless Media Group is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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Everything Old Is Truly New Again On Set It Off’s New EP

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off has only been around for about seven years.  That is not very long in terms of a band’s life span.  Yet in that short time, the band has been quite busy to say the least, releasing three EPs and two full-length albums since its formation back in 2008.  Now only a year after the release of its sophomore album Duality, Set It Off is back again with its fourth EP and sixth overall release.  The EP, Duality: Stories Unplugged is a selection of songs lifted from the band’s second album (released just last year) and stripped down.  Bands recording stripped down, acoustic takes on their own songs (and those of other acts) is nothing new in the music industry.  Considering this it is sometimes difficult to find an acoustic album that really stands out among the crowd in question.  It is safe to say that Duality: Stories Unplugged definitely stands out in this year’s crop of acoustic albums and EPs.  That is because the six tracks that make up the body of the disc actually achieve the goal explained by front man Cody Carson in a recent interview regarding the EP.  It actually presents five tracks that hold their own identity separate from the band’s original compositions.  The sixth track is a never-before-released acoustic composition that boasts an identity all its own.  Because of that it proves to be one of the best examples of what makes Duality: Stories Unplugged stand out both from its “sister” album and from other acoustic albums and EPs released so far this year and in turn proves to be one of the best new EPs of the year.

Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of this year’s best new EPs, hands down.  It is also one of the best new works that Set It Off has released so far into its life.  The six-track disc is such an impressive release in that each of the re-worked tunes featured on this record establishes its own identity apart from the original songs from which they were lifted.  That is most clear in the stripped down, full-on acoustic take of ‘Bleak December.’  In comparison to the original song included in the band’s 2014 album Duality, this song is the polar opposite of that piece.  The guitar line in the song’s original take presents an almost pop punk-oriented sound.  For lack of better wording, that sound gives the original take an almost sarcastic feel.  That is especially the case when that line is set against Carson’s own vocal delivery.  The new, acoustic take, on the other hand, presents a much darker, moodier vibe.  The gentle tones of the piano set against Cody’s own reserved vocal style and drummer Maxx Danziger’s use of a cajon adds even more of a different vibe to the song.  All things considered here, ‘Bleak December’ really becomes a whole new song apart from its original take.  Truth be told it actually sounds better and more fitting with the song’s lyrics in which Carson sings, “Gimme, gimme, gimme the truth now/I promise I can handle it, if you can/Cause you’ve been running from yourself for way too long/So gimme any reason not to cut you out/You’re far too gone/Watch you pretend you know it all/Shift any blame aside/Vending the victim when it sells/How do you even sleep at night as I drive and drive/In that bleak December/You’re just too cold/But I need the answer/Before you’d fold/You would hold your cards inside your chest/I think I drove too far/For that bleak December/And how full of s*** you are.”  The combination of the noted elements makes this take of ‘Bleak December’ a whole new work and makes it just one example of why Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of Set It Off’s best works to date as well as one of this year’s best new EPs.  Audiences can hear the new take on the song for themselves online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCdqjeFT3P8.

Set It Off’s re-working of ‘Bleak December’ anchors the band’s new EP.  Thanks to the thought and work put into the song, it stands out as a song almost entirely separate from the song’s original take.  It is just one piece that makes the record stand out.  The band’s re-working of ‘Why Worry’ stands out in its own right, too. While it maintains the same sound as the original take, this full-on acoustic take driven largely by guitarist Dan Clermont’s piano work and drummer Maxx Danziger’s time keeping. Carson’s own delivery style even boasts its own power as he sings, “Have you noticed that you’re breathing/Look around and count your blessings/So when you’re sick of all this stressin’and guessin’ I’m suggestin’ you turn this up and let them hear you sing it/Chin up/Quit acting like you’re half dead/Tears can only half fill how you’re feelin’/Don’t worry be happy baby/Stand up life is too damn short/That clock is ticking/Man up/If ya feel me everybody sing it/.” When the rest of the band joins in on the song’s chorus, there’s still a certain power there, even with the band members’ vocals being pulled back in comparison to what is there in the song’s original take. The end result of the song’s stylistic re-work is a song that is in this case just as good as the original. The musical re-working coupled with the song’s lyrical content makes the song just as powerful and impressive. Both the musical and lyrical content taken into consideration, they make this take of ‘Why Worry’ even more reason that Duality: Stories Unplugged stands out as one of Set It Off’s best recordings to date and one of this year’s best new EPs.

The newly re-worked versions of ‘Bleak December’ and ‘Why Worry’ are two clear examples of why Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of Set It Off’s best recordings and one of this year’s best new EPs. The re-working of ‘Tomorrow’ is one more example of what makes this record such a standout collection of songs. Much like the re-working of ‘Bleak December,’ this composition gives the song an identity almost entirely separate from that of the band’s original composition. Both takes offer a wonderfully positive vibe in their own right both musically and lyrically. But the stylistic approach of the acoustic take makes the song even harder-hitting than the full version presented in Duality. Clermont shines again here on piano. The combination of his talents set against the song’s string arrangements and Danziger’s timekeeping on the cajon give this take of the song an even more emotional punch than the one presented in the song’s original take. That is saying something, too considering that the song’s original take offered its own emotional punch. This take makes the song a full-on tearjerker that will still put a smile on audiences faces because of that punch coupled with its lyrical content. The lyrical content in question goes almost hand-in-hand with that of ‘Why Worry.’ That is because it says to listeners that no matter how bad things might seem in the moment, things will be better tomorrow, thus the song’s title. That is pointed out as Carson sings, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise.” He goes on to sing in the song’s closing verse, “Sometimes you’re the spider/Sometimes you’re the fly/Flying towards the sky/Our starting line.” It’s a message of positivity and optimism. That message of hope set alongside the song’s new take makes it one of the record’s best moments. Together with the likes of ‘Bleak December’ and ‘Why Worry’ it makes that much stronger the argument in favor of this record. That is not to discount the other trio of songs included on this record, either. All three of those songs each offer their own share of enjoyment, too. All six songs together make Duality: Stories Unplugged a record that is again, one of Set It Off’s best to date and one that is one of this year’s best new EPs overall.

Duality: Stories Unplugged only runs six songs deep. But that does not take away in the least from the record at all. That is because the re-worked arrangements of the band’s previously released songs give each of the songs in question their own identities separate from the originals. Some of the songs are as good as the originals. Some are better than the originals. Regardless of whether they are as good as or better than the originals, the whole thing together proves to be some of the best material that Set It Off has crafted so far and in comparison to the other EPs out there, one of this year’s best new EPs. Duality: Stories Unplugged is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded online via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/duality-stories-unplugged-ep/id988237301?mt=1&app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 and ordered via Amazon at http://radial.custom.geni.us/StoriesUnpluggedAmazon. More information on Duality: Stories Unplugged is available online along with Set It Off’s latest tour schedule and news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

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Lamb of God Debuts Video For Upcoming Album’s New Single

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Lamb of God has officially premiered the video for its latest single ‘Overlord.’

The second single from the band’s upcoming album Sturm Und Drang (roughly translated means storm and penetrate),’Overlord’ is considered one of the biggest departures for the band on its upcoming album. It can be viewed online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNRsvFsY9qk. Front man Randy Blythe explains of the song, “I wrote the song about the dangers of self-obsession in our distressingly myopic and increasingly entitled “me-now/now-me” culture; just like the couple in the video, many people can’t seem to look past their own relatively small problems to see the bigger picture: the world is in serious trouble. Having a bad day at work, or a fight with your significant other, or getting a crappy haircut or table service does not in any way shape or form constitute an emergency. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to- deal with it. People who only see their own problems eventually wind up alone because no one wants to hear their crap anymore- we all know someone like that, always whining and complaining about some inconsequential setback as if it were the apocalypse. This song is for those people.” The new video is the second for the band helmed by director Jorge Torres-Torres. His last time working with the band behind the lens was on the video for the song ‘512.’

In anticipation of Sturm Und Drang’s release on July 24th, Lamb of God has announced a series of live dates with Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless in White. The tour kicks off in West Palm Beach, Florida on the same day as the album’s release and currently runs through Saturday, September 5th in Dallas, Texas. The current schedule for LOG’s upcoming tour is listed below.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR:

LAMB OF GOD W/ Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine & Motionless In White

7/24 – West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre

7/25 – Tampa, FL @ MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

7/26 – Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood

7/28 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy MusicTheatre

7/29 – Darien Center, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center

7/31 – Saratoga Springs, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center

8/1 – Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

8/2 – Hartford, CT @ XFINITY Theatre

8/4 – Boston, MA @ XFINITY Center

8/5 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center

8/6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion

8/8 – Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

8/9 – Montreal, QC @ Parc Jean-Drapeau – Heavy Montreal

8/11 – Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube Live

8/12 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach

8/14 – Indianapolis, IN @ Klipsch Music Center

8/15 – Chicago, IL @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

8/16 – St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

8/19 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

8/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre

8/22 – Garden City, ID @ Revolution Center – NO SLIPKNOT *New Show*

8/23 – Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheater

8/24 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena

8/26 – Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion

8/28 – Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Resort Festival Grounds

8/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ AK-Chin Pavilion

8/30 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater

9/2 – Austin, TX @ Austin360 Amphitheater

9/4 – Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

9/5 – Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion

Sturm Und Drang can be pre-ordered online now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/vii-sturm-und-drang-deluxe/id1000708954 and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/VII-Sturm-Drang-LAMB-GOD/dp/B00YH4Y7U4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433367861&sr=8-1&keywords=lamb+of+god&tag=smarturl-20. Fans can also pre-order the album now direct from Lamb of God’s online store in a variety of bundle packs at http://lambofgod.shop.musictoday.com/page/preorder.

More information on Lamb of God’s tour is available online along with all of the latest updates on its new album and all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://www.lamb-of-god.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lambofgod

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

The Dead Rise Again This Summer

Courtesy:  AMC/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: AMC/Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Walking Dead rises again this summer!

Anchor Bay Entertainment has just announced that the fifth season of AMC’s hit zombie drama will be released on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack on Tuesday, August 25th. Season Five opens with Rick and company having to make their way out of Terminus after it is revealed that its inhabitants are murderous cannibals. Of course the zombie hordes are there, too. Gareth is hot on the group’s trail, too. Along the way, loyalties are once again tested as are the wills of the survivors in a number of situations. Season Five will come complete with roughly three hours of bonus material for true diehard fans. Those bonuses are listed below.

Bonus Features on the Blu-ray™ + Digital HD and DVD include:

Audio commentaries featuring Showrunner/Executive Producer/Writer Scott M. Gimple, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producer Tom Luse, Executive Producer/Special Effects Make-Up Supervisor /Director Greg Nicotero, Director Julius Ramsay; Actors Lauren Cohan, Chad L. Coleman, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin-Green, Danai Gurira, Alana Masterson, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Norman Reedus, Christian Serratos and Steven Yuen.

Deleted Scenes
Inside “The Walking Dead”
The Making of “The Walking Dead”
The Making of Alexandria
Beth’s Journey
Bob’s Journey
Noah’s Journey
Tyreese’s Journey
A Day in the Life of Michael Cudlitz
A Day in the Life of Josh McDermitt
Rotters in the Flesh

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season will retail for MSRP of $79.99 on Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack and $69.98 on DVD. More information on The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season as well as the series’ upcoming sixth season is available online now at:

Website: http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking/dead

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

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

Prested’s Lookout Records “Bio” Is A Must Read For Music Lovers, Punk Loyalists Alike

Courtesy:  Microcosm Publishing

Courtesy: Microcosm Publishing

Author Kevin Prested’s new book Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is essential reading for anyone that has any interest in the history of punk rock. The book, published in paperback late this past January via Microcosm Publishing,, examines as the title states, the rise and fall of one of punk’s most influential record labels. It is a label that was home to greats such as Operation Ivy, Crimpshrine, and even none other than Green Day in its heyday. But as with all great things, it came to an end; an end that was obviously not the way that anyone wanted for a once great institution, but an end nonetheless. Now thanks to Prested, who is also a music journalist, audiences get a first-hand look at what led to the famed label’s beginning and eventual sad fall. Readers will especially enjoy this book primarily thanks to the presentation of the story. Prested doesn’t try to make his story another run-of-the-mill bio/history style presentation. Rather, it comes across more as a video documentary put into book form versus the other way around. That will be discussed shortly. Another aspect of the book that readers will appreciate is the history lesson provided by Prested. Audiences learn about not just the history of Lookout Records but of the bands that once called Lookout Records home. One more factor worth noting of Prested’s book that makes it so interesting is the inclusion of the occasional picture here and there as an added illustration of Lookout’s history. None of the photos are the standard publicity photos either. Rather, they are often times more candid shots of different bands and releases put out by Lookout. It’s a minor detail, yes. But it still adds its own interest to Prested’s book. The combination of those photos, the history presented by the story, and the overall structure of the story makes Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records a must read not just for those with a love of music history but especially for those with an interest of and love for punk and its roots.

Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for anyone with a love for and interest in not just music history but also for the history of punk rock and its roots. The main reason that it proves itself such essential reading is its overall structure. The overall structure of Prested’s presentation is not just another run-of-the-mill bio or history piece. Rather what Prested has done here is taken the road less traveled. Instead of just being a long-winded read–unlike those bios and historical pieces–Prested has used his journalistic roots and crafted a piece that is presented more like the script for a televised documentary than a literary piece. The story and the quotes from Prested’s subjects (E.g. former Lookout employee Chris Applegren, Frank Portman (The Mister T Experience, The Bomb Bassets), Scott Conway (Screeching Weasel, Even in Blackouts), etc.) are clearly separated and even specifically labeled throughout each chapter. Speaking of the chapters, the book’s chapters are relatively short, ranging anywhere from three pages to five and maybe a little more. In general though, the chapters are relatively short. So readers won’t find themselves constantly asking when the chapters are going to end. On a directly related note, the historical reflections on Lookout’s history both on the part of Prested and his subjects are themselves so entertaining that even if the chapters were longer, readers still wouldn’t have to worry about the story dragging along. The story in whole is that well-written and structured. Considering this, it would be interesting to see if Prested would ever consider turning what is essentially a script into an actual visual presentation to complement his book. Needless to say it would be just as welcome among music lovers and punk fans as his book.

The overall structure of Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is central to its success. The road taken by Prested in this book is the polar opposite of its much more well-known counterparts. In other words it isn’t just another of those long-winded pieces that relies more on facts and figures than actually engaging the reader. For this reason alone Prested is more than deserving of his share of applause. It is just one reason that Prested is deserving of credit in examining his new book, too. The history provided by the book makes Prested just as deserving of credit. The story presents not only the history of Lookout Records but also of the bands that once made Lookout one of the biggest names in the music industry before its eventual demise. Prested explains through the course of his story Lookout Records’ humble beginnings, its slowly building fame, which seemed to climax at the debut of Green Day’s hit 1994 record Dookie, and its not entirely surprising (and in turn sad) eventual fall. The thing is that as readers will note early on in the label’s history, there was some foreshadowing of what was to come for Lookout. The warning signs were there. They just didn’t seem to be entirely heeded. In regards to the history of the bands that called Lookout home, some readers will be surprised to learn that Green Day once called Lookout Records home as did punk icons Operation Ivy, Screeching Weasel, Pansy Division, and a number of others. Readers even get to hear from members of the noted bands as part of the label’s history in regards to their own experiences during their time on Lookout Records. The combination of the labels’ history and the history of the bands signed to the label together makes for quite the interesting read that true punk devotees will not want to put down. That coupled with the book’s overall structure makes it even more of a work that music lovers and punk lovers specifically will enjoy.

The structure of Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records coupled with the history of the label and its bands makes this book one that is well worth the read whether one is a punk devotee or a music lover in general. They are together only two parts of the whole that make it such an interesting read. Last of note in regards to the book’s enjoyment is its photos. While minor, they do play their own part in the book’s enjoyment. That is because the photos, much like the overall structure of the book, are not the standard prim and proper publicity photos that one might expect. Rather, the band pictures are candid shots of some of the bands that helped Lookout get its start and vice versa. There are also random pictures of some of the vinyls and cassettes that were distributed by Lookout throughout its life. Audiences will be interested in examining some of the pictures that Prested actually discusses in his book aspects of the albums such as their artwork. Readers, for example, will be interested to learn of the DIY approach taken in regards to the artwork of many of the bands’ albums. It wasn’t that spit-shined look of so many of today’s labels. That approach mirrors the overall approach of Lookout Records in whole in terms of signing and promoting bands. It makes even more interesting the fact that said approach coupled with so much dedication and hard work led to the rise of Lookout Records. At the same time, thinking about that in the same fashion, it is just as interesting to learn that that same approach also contributed to the label’s end. Again, that goes right back to the story at the heart of the book. It shows in the grand scheme of things why in fact the pictures included in this book are just as important to its overall story as the story itself and its structure. All three elements together show clearly why Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for music lovers in general and for those more devoted to punk rock and its roots.

Punk Rock USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a must read for any music lover in general and for those whose loyalties are more linked to punk and its history. The structure of the book makes it easy to follow for audiences. It comes across more along the lines of a video documentary’s script than a standard, long-winded historical piece. The story that is presented within the book’s pages makes it even more interesting for readers. That is because the story focuses not only on the history of Lookout Records in regards to its rise and fall, but also to the history of the band’s that once called Lookout Records home. Both histories are balanced quite well throughout the course of the book with the end result being an overall story that will keep readers from wanting to put the book down at any point. The band photos and photos of albums and EPs released via Lookout are just as intriguing of an addition to the overall presentation. That is because in some cases, the photos are accompanied by stories of the DIY approach taken by Lookout’s employees to crafting the releases’ artwork as well as the DIY approach taken to promote its bands. It shows that Prested was really thinking about that aspect of the book. He didn’t want to just throw in some random photos here and there. He wanted them to play their own important part in the whole of his book. The understanding of that approach also helps readers understand its role later in the label’s life, proving yet again the importance of the included photos even as minor of an element as they may seem. The combination of all three elements together proves once and for all why Punk USA: The Rise and Fall of Lookout Records is a book that is a must read for music lovers and more specifically punk loyalists alike. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via Microcosm Publishing’s online store at http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/books/5160/. More information on this and other titles available from Microcosm Publishing is available online at:

Website: http://www.microcosmpublishing.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/microcosmmm

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.

Cardinals, Cubs Face Off In NL Central Showdown This Week On ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has a big game on tap for this weekend’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.

This  ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell, the league-leading St. Louis Cardinals host the Chicago Cubs in a pivotal NL Central showdown. The game, which could have potential playoff implications as the first half of the season winds down, will be the closer in a three-game series between the NL Central foes. The Cardinals currently sit at 48 – 24 on the season and 7 – 3 in their last ten games. The Red Birds are currently riding high on a six-game win streak. Chicago is third in the division, eight and a half games back from St. Louis, sitting currently at 39 – 32. The team is 5 – 5 in its last ten games and is currently looking to end its two-game skid. Sunday’s broadcast is expected to begin at 8pm ET. The game will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes for the network’s Spanish-speaking viewers. And those that won’t be near a TV during Sunday Night’s game can still catch it online via WatchESPN and on the radio on ESPN Radio. Dan Shulman will have the call for Sunday’s game. He will be joined by analysts Curt Schilling and John Kruk in the booth. Reporter Buster Olney will also be on hand with all of the latest in-game news. As with every broadcast of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell, Sunday’s broadcast will be preceded by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet at 7pm ET. Karl Ravech will anchor the broadcast and will be joined at the desk by analyst Aaron Boone and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian. The broadcast will be simulcast online via WatchESPN.

The second game in the Cubs-Cardinals weekend series will air live on ESPN Radio Saturday night at 6pm ET. Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton will have the call for Saturday night’s game.

Carlos Martinez is currently expected to take the mound for St. Louis in Sunday’s game. His last time on the mound was Tuesday’s game against the Marlins. St. Louis won that game 4 – 3. He pitched seven innings in the game, allowing eight hits, three earned runs, one walk, and struck out nine batters en route to the team’s win.

Jason Hammel is expected to start for Chicago in Sunday’s game. Hammel’s last time on the mound was Tuesday against the Dodgers. The Cubs won that game 1 – 0 over the Dodgers. Hammel Pitched 7.2 innings, allowing 2 hits along the way, no runs or earned runs, only two walks, and struck out six men.

Monday night on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA Adam Jones and the Baltimore Orioles will host Prince Fielder and the Texas Rangers on ESPN. Fielder just hit his 300th home run tonight as the Rangers face the Blue Jays. It makes Fielder and his famed father only the second father/son duo since Bobby and Barry Bonds to hit 300 home runs each. Monday night’s game is the first in a four-game series that will run thought next Thursday, July 2nd. Dave O’Brien will have the call for the game. He will be joined in the booth by Eduardo Perez and Mark Mulder in the booth for additional commentary. The game will be simulcast on ESPN Deportes for ESPN’s Spanish-speaking audiences. It will also simulcast online via WatchESPN for those that won’t be close to a television during the course of the game.

Bud Norris is expected to start for the Orioles in Monday night’s game. Norris’ last time on the mound was Wednesday against the Red Sox. Baltimore dropped that game 5 – 1 with Norris pitching 5.2 innings in the game. He allowed seven hits, five runs, no earned runs, one walk, one home run, and struck out three batters in his time on the mound.

Wady Rodriguez is expected to start for Texas in Monday night’s game. His last time taking the mound was Wednesday against Oakland. He struggled in that game, allowing eleven hits, right runs, eight earned runs, three walks and two home runs over the course of four innings and striking out only four batters. By comparison, Rodriguez’s team-mate Anthony Bass only allowed two hits and one walk over the course of four innings, striking out five batters along the way. He allowed no runs, no earned runs, and no home runs in that time, too.

More information on ESPN’s Major League Baseball coverage is available online along with all of the latest baseball news at:

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

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

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

Light Flashes Is A Flash Of Indie Musical Greatness

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Independent reggae act Dubbest will release its latest full-length studio effort Light Flashes early next month. The album, the band’s third full-length effort, will be released independently by the Boston-based band. Being that most audiences have likely never heard of Dubbest, its latest record proves to be a good introduction to its sound. This is especially the case for those that are fans of reggae. The band has already premiered the album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ as well as a video to go along with the song. That song in itself is a good introduction to the band for those that might not be so familiar with Dubbest and an equally welcome return for the band’s long-time fans. The laid-back grooves of ‘Cross Pollination’ and its intriguing metaphorical writing make it yet another interesting example of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any reggae fan. While it is one more good example of what Dubbest has to offer fans both on its new record and in general, it is not the last example. The band also includes no fewer than two instrumental numbers on its new album as part of its whole. The best of those two instrumentals comes late in the album in the form of the song ‘Escape Route.’ The very title conjures thoughts of a beach on a late spring day, the sun shining and palm trees swaying gently in the breeze. It is a great image that will put any listener at ease and in turn yet another example of what makes Light Flashes worth at least one listen. It isn’t the last example of what makes it worth the listen, either. Each of the album’s twelve tracks has its own merits. All twelve tracks noted, Light Flashes shows to be more than just a bright, shining light in the world of reggae and of independent music. That being said, it is safe to say that Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums.

Dubbest’s new album Light Flashes is one of this year’s best new independent albums. The record boasts twelve tracks that reggae purists everywhere will enjoy. That is because it is a sound that continues to clearly maintain Dubbest’s identity apart from the likes of Sublime, 311, and other pseudo-reggae acts. The album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day’ is a clear example of what makes this record stand out from those of Dubbest’s counterparts. The song doesn’t try to be the poppy sort of song that those from Dubbest’s counterparts have churned out over the years. It is reggae, plain and simple. Guitarists Andrew MacKenzie and Corey Mahoney’s gentle strains harken directly back to the days of Bob Marley and The Whalers while drummer Kyle Hancock’s backbeat serves as a solid foundation for the whole thing. Front man Ryan Thaxter’s own vocal delivery style is just as worth noting here. His delivery is just as soft and gentle as that of his band mates on their respective instruments. This even includes bassist Sean Craffey. Looking at the song’s lyrical content, it plays its own role in the song’s enjoyment, too. Thaxter sings in this song, “Feeling the love like never before/Been waiting for a long time and I cannot endure it/I’m sick of the rain/Let it shine like before/I’ve never been sure before/But I’ve never been so sure/Baby come relieve me/I wanna see you today/Maybe come for the evening and tomorrow we can spend the day.” Simply put, Thaxter is singing from the standpoint of a man that wants to be with his woman. Even more interesting is that even though a man is singing the song, there is no indication of gender in this song. So it could just as easily be sung from a woman’s vantage point, too. That makes the song even more enjoyable. Set against the song’s laid back musical side, it generates a positive vibe that those overly sappy, saccharine pre-produced pop songs about love could never even begin to create. Because of this it makes ‘Spend The Day’ a wonderful first effort from Dubbest on its new album and an equally welcome introduction to the band for any fan that might be unfamiliar with its body of work. Audiences can check out ‘Spend The Day” online now for themselves right at its Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/dubbestmusic.

‘Spend The day’ is a good way for Dubbest to introduce itself to its newer fans and to re-introduce itself to its long-time fans. That is thanks in large part to a solid mix of musical and lyrical content. While it does show itself to be a great starting point for the band on this record, it’s just one example of why any reggae fan should hear this record at least once. The equally laid back yet perhaps somewhat suggestive ‘Cross Pollination’ is another good example of what Dubbest has to offer audiences on its new album. The same things that applies to the musical side of ‘Spend The Day’ apply just as much in the case of this piece. That should just go without saying. Of course, there is the addition of what sounds like an old school B-3 Hammond organ added in to this song’s musical backing. It plays more of a supporting role than starring in this song for lack of better wording. Even in a supporting role, it adds so much with its sound. There’ something special about the vibrato of sorts that comes from such a classic organ. It’s something that can’t be fully put into words. It is something that really can only be appreciated in hearing it. It just gives a certain positive vibe that will put a smile on listeners’ faces just as much as the rest of the song’s musical elements. Moving to the song’s lyrical content, Thaxter uses the concept of cross polination of flowers via a bee to discuss a pretty obvious topic. The swagger in those lyrics coupled with that of the music makes ‘Cross Pollination’ yet another solid radio-ready song from Light Flashes.

‘Spend The Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ are both good examples of what makes Light Flashes a worthwhile listen for any purist reggae fan. They are just a couple examples of what makes Light Flashes a bright spot in the realm of indie albums and that of reggae in whole. While both songs are equally important additions to Light Flashes the album also boasts no fewer than two full-on instrumental tracks. The latter of the two, ‘Escape Route,’ is the best of the pair. The music crafted by the band in this song instantly conjures thoughts of a tropical beach. It conjures thoughts of the sun’s rays bathing the said beach in their warmth while a breeze blows through palm trees. The gentle, laid back vibe of the whole song makes it such a joy within itself. It may only be an instrumental. But it proves that an instrumental can be just as enjoyable as any song highlited more by lyrical content than that highlighted by the music alone. It proves in the end to be one more clear example of what makes Light Flashes such a surprisingly interesting listen both within the world of indie releases and that of reggae acts. Together with the likes of ‘Spend the Day’ and ‘Cross Pollination’ it makes all the clearer why any purist reggae fan should hear this album at least once. It also proves once more why Light Flashes is a bright flash of a record among this year’s crop of indie records and reggae records.

Light Flashes is one of the best new independent releases of 2015. The third full-length release from Dubbest it is a welcome return for the band’s long-time fans and an equally welcome first-time introduction for those that might not be so famliar with the Boston-based band. It will be released July 7th. More information on Light Flashes is available online now along with the latest news from Dubbest at:

Website: http://www.dubbestmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dubbest

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.