All Americans Will Enjoy Grupo Fantasma’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Blue Corn Music

Veteran Latin music act Grupo Fantasma is set to release its latest full-length studio recording next week.  The album, entitled American Music Vol. VII is in fact the band’s seventh full-length studio recording.  Despite what the album’s title might seem to infer, the band’s past six album – the first of which was released in 2002 – are not entitled American Music.  Rather, the title is a hint to the fact that Latin music is part of the American musical community in whole.  The 13-song, 55 minute album is another solid collection of songs that will appeal just as much to Latin music fans as it will to the most devoted fans of Grupo Fantasma.  That is despite the fact that the album’s vocals are presented almost entirely in Spanish.  One of the songs featured in the album, that serves to show what makes this record so appealing comes slightly past the album’s halfway point in the form of ‘Let Me Be.’  It will be addressed shortly.  When considered alongside the clear sociopolitical commentary and Latin vibes of ‘The Wall,’ the two songs together show even more what makes this record such an interesting new offering from the veteran Latin-Funk act.  ‘LT,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is yet another notable addition to the album’s body.  It will be addressed later.  Between this work, the other two noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of American Music Vol. VII shows itself to be a record that will appeal to every American.

Grupo Fantasma’s forthcoming full-length studio recording American Music Vol. VII is a positive mew musical statement from the veteran Latin-funk outfit.  That is because it is a record that shows from start to finish, Latin music is part of the overall American musical community.  ‘Let Me Be,’ which comes a little more than halfway through the record’s almost hour-long run, is just one of the songs featured in the album that serves to support that statement.  That is evident in part through the song’s musical arrangement, which crosses the band’s standard Latin elements with a very 1960’s-era style funk sound, complete with horns, guitars and vocals.  Not having liner notes to refer to, one cannot identify the vocalists featured in this song, but their talent and style is undeniable.  That aside, the use of the vocals, saxophones, trumpets and guitars lends itself collectively to a comparison with some of Carlos Santana’s greatest works.  As the song enters its bridge, a little more than halfway through its almost four-minute run time, it features a moment that can easily be liked to Ken Barry’s timeless hit, ‘One, Two, Three.’  The overall production is an engaging and enjoyable musical arrangement that is just one part of what makes this song stand out among the LP’s offerings.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note.

The vocalists presented in this song sing proudly of being comfortable in themselves, not caring what others say and do.  They sing in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t need the people who always think they’re right/They always feel the need to tell me/How well I should be/I always take you with a grain of salt/And I come back to tell them/Mind your own business/Just let me be.”  They go on to sing in the song’s second verse, “You may know me a little or you don’t know me at all/You feel the need to tell me your unwanted opinions/I can only take it and try to be polite/So just you keep your judgment to yourself.”  The group leaves zero doubt by this point as to the statement being made in these words.  This is a proud, self-confident musical middle finger of sorts to people who feel the need to interject themselves into everyone’s business except for their own.  Every person in this country knows and knows of someone of that nature, including this critic.  In other words, this is a statement to which any listener can relate in terms of its lyrical theme.  At the same time, the infectious groove presented in the song’s musical arrangement will leave listeners with a smile on their faces just as much.  The combination of the elements’ pairing makes the song a work that is sure to be a fan favorite, and just one of the album’s best songs.  As previously noted, the seriousness and urgency of ‘The Wall,’ which is obviously a statement about events going on in the news at this moment, is another of AMVS’ body.

‘The Wall’ is not the first time that Grupo Fantasma has delved into the world of Latin rap.  Even with that in mind, it shows itself to be another work of Latin musical elements (and even again some old school funk) that will especially reach some of the band’s younger listeners who might be less familiar with the organization.  The vocalist – again who cannot be identified here being that no liner notes were sent to this critic with the album – raps, “Everybody listen up/’Cause this is happening now/the moment is so critical/I set it to loud/If you can hear me in your ear…Life or liberty/the justice for publicity/When it comes to everybody/Please come and get me/Oh history/Don’t even live to see/That can of worms/Digging holes in your legacy/Walls are bound to fall/Expose treachery/My pot is melting/Best with your recipe.”  It’s a brief statement, but a powerful one nonetheless.  The reference to the wall at America’s Mexican border that Donald Trump keeps demanding is clear and present, as is the virtual indictment of Trump’s character.  The vocalist even directly addresses the immigration issue connected with the wall, which has been just as prevalent in the news.  Considering the energy in the song’s arrangement and the fire in that energy, the message sent in the song’s lyrical content is illustrated and delivered clearly and expertly.  The combination of the elements makes the song in whole another important standout addition to AMVS, and more proof of what makes the record such a strong new offering from the band.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable works.  ‘LT,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is one more key song to discuss.

‘LT’ stands out because of its musical and lyrical content alike.  The song’s musical arrangement is another familiar Latin-tinged piece that wastes no time getting listeners on their feet and moving with its combination of horns and percussion.  Lyrically, it is just as certain to get listeners’ attention, as the vocalist here sings, “There she lays/Looking sexy/there’s nowhere else I’d rather be/Pressed myself against her gently/But she pushed me off and said to me…I want you to take me to my fantasy/slow down now/Stay away from the kiss.”  There’s also a mention here of a dance floor, and trying to seduce the woman with some dance moves.  This is hardly the first time that any musical act has gone down this road.  However, in the case of Grupo Fantasma, the group’s approach to the topic, both musically and lyrically gives the topic a new take, and one that is certain to keep listeners engaged and certainly entertained, if not more.  When it is considered along with the previously discussed songs and the rest of the record, the whole of the LP becomes a work that every American will enjoy.

Grupo Fantasma’s forthcoming seventh full-length studio recording American Music Volume VII is another stirring success for the veteran Latin music act.  That is because from start to finish, as has been evidenced in the songs discussed here.  Those songs, together with the album’s other eight tracks – especially the likes of ‘Yo Quisiera,’ the very Santana-esque ‘Nosotros’ and rather Cuban style ‘Que mas Quieres de Mi’ – make this record a record that any of the band’s longtime fans will enjoy.  The same can be said of those who might be less familiar with the band’s work.  From start to end, the band mixes its Latin roots with plenty of other elements that are all their own unique part of America’s musical consciousness.  Keeping that in mind, the album in whole proves to be another work from Grupo Fantasma that every American will enjoy.  American Music Volume VII will be released March 29 on Blue Corn Music.  More information on the record, the band’s current live schedule and all of the group’s latest news is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://www.grupofantasma.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/grupofantasma

 

 

 

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.

Lullwater Works Great Musical Magic With ‘Voodoo’

Courtesy: TAG Publicity/The Label Group

Independent hard rock act Lullwater has made quite the name for itself since its founding in 2007 in its home state of Georgia.  The band has released two full-length studio recordings, an EP and toured the nation with even more well-known acts, such as Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman and Amaranthe, spreading its music to countless thousands of fans.  The band – John Strickland (vocals, guitar), Daniel Binnie (lead guitar), Roy “Ray” Beatty (bass) and Joseph Wilson (drums) – has done it all largely without major label backing, growing its fame largely organically.  Late this past February, the band continued that course with the release of its third full-length studio recording (and fourth overall recording) Voodoo.  The 11-song record puts the band members’ talents on full display from start to end while also presenting some equally interesting lyrical content.  The album’s latest single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that puts both elements on display.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Similar Skin,’ another of the songs featured in the album, does just as much to put those abilities on display.  ‘Fight of Your Life,’ which comes late in the album’s 50-minute run, is yet another of the album’s most notable entries.  It is hardly the last example of the band members’ abilities.  The album’s opener, ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not’ are just as notable as the previous trio of noted songs.  Together with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of Voodoo proves clearly why Lullwater has been so successful for such a long time and why this album could be the one that breaks Lullwater into the mainstream, support providing.

Lullwater’s recently released third full-length studio recording Voodoo is a strong new offering from the Athens, GA-based band.  Given the right support, it could potentially be the record that breaks this band – which has done everything largely without major label backing – into the mainstream.  It is a record that shows without doubt, that the band deserves such acclaim.  That is proven in part through the album’s latest single, ‘Empty Chamber.’  In regards to its musical arrangement, the song will appeal to fans of bands, such as Buckcherry and Small Town Titans with its energy and catchy hooks.  The dual guitar approach of Strickland and Binnie couples with Wilson’s powerhouse drumming, Beatty’s low end and Strickland’s vocal delivery, to make an overall arrangement that is an immediately radio-ready work.  What is interesting here is the while the hooks are so catchy and the musicians’ talent undeniable, the song, as Strickland recently discussed, is actually quite a deep work. Strickland said of the song’s lyrical content, that the song centers on the issue of dealing with personal emotional struggles.

“We all have experienced, and been in, a moment of excruciating emotional pain, and ‘Empty Chamber’ was written during one of those moments,” Strickland said.  “The son has an upbeat tempo and happy melodic vibe, but the lyrics are depressing and filled with anxiety.  Sometimes everything in life can be going great, but you still struggle with emotional pain and confusion.  I feel ‘Empty Chamber’ embodies that emotion.”

Strickland’s explanation makes the song that much more powerful, when considering the juxtaposition of that upbeat musical arrangement and the depth of the song’s lyrics.  The contrast shows what is going on in life on the surface, while the lyrics show what is going on just beneath the surface.  That is very good thinking on the band’s part.  Strickland sings in the song’s lead verse, “How your heart beats now/The strain, the pain/Confusion on your face/Where are you now/Who’s your higher place/A beautiful soul once told me/Happiness is like a butterfly/Gently lands down once before it dies.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Here I am again/Strung out/And my mind’s a loaded gun/Empty chambers all except for one/You’ll be the death of me/I said I swore/I know it’s coming true/Goodbye death…and to all of you.”  The mixed emotions are just as prevalent as the song enters its bridge and final chorus refrain.  Strickland’s statements about the song’s lyrical concept in understanding these verses.  Here is someone who is dealing with some very strong emotions despite everything around him/her seeming to go so well.  That contrast displayed through the song’s musical and lyrical content makes this song one of the record’s most notable additions, but hardly the only of the album’s best entries.  ‘Similar Skin’ is another of the album’s high points.

‘Similar Skin’ stands out in part through its southern sludge rock-tinged musical arrangement.  The heavy, trudging guitars immediately lend themselves to comparisons to bands, such as Corrosion of Conformity, Clutch and Brand New Sin.  Even more interesting to note of the arrangement is the addition of the horns to the arrangement.  The addition of the horns to the arrangement is subtle, as they are used solely to flesh out the song’s choruses.  That subtle use goes a long way toward making the song’s arrangement that much more engaging and entertaining, because of its subtlety.  Add in the familiar yet still strong finish for the four-minute-plus work, and the song proves musically from start to finish to be a certain fan favorite if only for that reason.  Of course, the song’s musical arrangement is not its only element.  Its lyrical content is also worth addressing.

The song’s lyrical content comes across as a statement from a subject, telling another figure that he/she needs to get his/her act together and stop feeling sorry for himself/herself. This inferred right from the song’s lead verse, as Strickland sings, “Who would have thought/You were the quiet type at all/Couple things that I need from you/Get up, get out/Make some moves/Look down/Follow your soul/Eyes on the prize/Now get ready to roll/Dial back/All the saturation/A little less talk about the same conversation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.”  Here in this verse, we get an individual telling someone else to move forward and push on.  This message is advanced even more as Strickland sings in the song’s second verse, “Slow down/Quiet your mind/Notice the things that you’re willing to find/If it feels like you’re stuck in a loop/Breathe in, breathe out/try to regroup/Stand tall/Pull from within/Nothing to lose/Just similar skin/Dial back all the saturation/Tired of this talk/Tired of this saturation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.”  The reminder by the song’s subject once more that “I don’t owe you anything” is really what leads to the supposition that this subject is telling someone else that he/she needs to get his/her life in order.  Considering the statements made in the verses, the argument in favor of that message is strengthened even more.  Going back to the song’s musical arrangement, the force in that arrangement adds to the strength in the argument about the song’s lyrical content.  It adds to that sense of someone who is frustrated with another person.  When both elements are joined as one, the whole is a strong statement to which plenty of listeners will find themselves able to relate.  That in turn makes the song yet another high point of Voodoo.  It is just one more way in which Voodoo shows its strengths.  ‘Fight of your Life’ is yet another example of Voodoo’s strengths.

Where ‘Empty Chamber’ deals with a person’s inner emotional turmoil and where ‘Similar Skin’ seemingly features someone wanting to knock some sense into someone else, ‘Fight of Your Life’ comes across as a much more encouraging and positive work.  The song’s catchy, up-tempo musical arrangement is just as viable as a radio work as the other noted songs (and others not noted here).  It lends itself easily to comparisons to any number of the band’s more well-known counterparts with its solid time keeping, driving guitars and harmonies crafted through its low-end.  The positive vibes created through the song’s musical arrangement carry through to its lyrical content, which is just as certain to put a smile on listeners’ faces with allegorical nature.

Strickland sings here, “Boy/More of a man than most of us/Too young to know the dreadful truth inside/The joy/It slips away/Begins to rust/Relentlessly restrain the need to cry…Hang on/It’ll be alright/Stand strong through the darkest of your nights…It won’t be long till vision clears/Find your eyes/They will dry with tears.”  Some of the content is difficult to decipher here without a lyrics sheet to resource.  That aside, it is relatively clear as to what Strickland is singing about in this case.  This is someone addressing a young man who has been through hell, but who is at the same time reminding that young man, that things can and do get better.  The subject is telling that person that it is okay to let out the pain held inside.  Strickland goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Love/Mother you have given all your blood/The years you’re never wavering/you/The innocent/The warrior child/Brave your way to take this world apart/So surreal/these fragile battle lines/Questions…through my mind/How can this unwind…”  The song’s subject once again goes on to remind the noted figure that things will be okay even as bad as things might seem at the moment.  Again, it is that reminder to listeners that while things might be bad in their lives.  It is a positive, uplifting message that, when coupled with the song’s upbeat arrangement, is sure to become yet another favorite among listeners from this record.  When it is considered along with the two other works discussed here, other strong points, such as ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not,’ and the other songs not directly noted here, the whole of the album becomes a work that proves the third may in fact be the charm for Lullwater, support provided.

Lullwater’s third full-length studio recording Voodoo works plenty of positive magic on listeners from the beginning to the end of its 11-song, 50-minute run.  It is a work that proves — thanks to its multitude of radio-ready musical arrangements and thought-provoking lyrical content – that the third time may be the charm for this Georgia-based band.  The album’s most recent single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that serves to support those statements.  The same can be said of ‘Similar Skin,’ ‘Fight of Your Life,’ ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun,’ ‘Suffer Not’ and the rest of the album’s works.  The songs directly discussed here and those not immediately addressed all support that statement in their own way.  All things considered, they make Voodoo the record that could be that lucky charm that breaks the band into the mainstream.  More information is available online Voodoo along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

 

 

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.

Whitechapel Debuts ‘Hickory Creek’ Video

Courtesy: Metal Blade Reocrds

Whitechapel debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for the song ‘Hickory Creek,’ which is featured in the band’s new album The Valley.  The powerful new video, which is in memory of Theresa Leslie Bozeman — front man Phil Bozeman’s mother — debuted Wednesday.

The video follows what is inferred to be a young Phil and his mother following a violent motor vehicle collision following the pair’s fleeing from a seemingly very bad situation at their home.  The song is just as dramatic in its musical approach, presenting a side of the band that has rarely, if ever, been displayed.

The video for ‘Hickory Creek’ is just the latest video to premiere from The Valley.  The band premiered the video for its most recent single ‘When A Demon Defiles A Witch‘ on Feb. 20.

The band debuted the record’s third single ‘Third Depth‘ Jan. 15.  ‘Black Bear‘ and ‘Brimstone‘ preceded its debut on Dec. 13 and Nov. 1 respectively.

Produced by Mark Lewis (Cannibal Corpse, The Black Dahlia Murder), mixed by David Castillo and mastered by Ted Jensen (Alice in Chains, Norah Jones, The Eagles), The Valley‘s title is a reference to the part of the Hardin Valley (west of Knoxville, TV) where front man Phil Bozeman grew up.  Guitarist Alex Wade explained in a recent interview that the album’s title and lyrical themes go a long way toward explaining what Bozeman endured during his years living in the Hardin Valley.

“Phil has been upfront in his lyrics in the past about hardships he endured in his life as a child, and I believe with this record, we tried to paint a better picture of that,” Wade said.  “I believe our music is Phil’s release from his past, being able to get it out and speak about it, and hopefully anyone who hears it that may have gone through similar experiences can find some release in it as well.”

Bozeman expanded on Wade’s thoughts, saying that the record offers much for audiences to appreciate.

“Sound-wise, it’s all over the place,” Bozeman said.  “There’s aggression, and then you’re hit with ominous and emotional guitar riffs.  It’s mean, but then transfers to soft and inviting.  It’s a whirlwind of emotions throughout.”

The full track listing for The Valley is noted below.

The Valley track-listing
1. When a Demon Defiles a Witch
2. Forgiveness Is Weakness
3. Brimstone
4. Hickory Creek
5. Black Bear
6. We Are One
7. The Other Side
8. Third Depth
9. Lovelace
10. Doom Woods

 

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The album is available now in a variety of formats, all of which are noted below.

–digipak-CD
–box set (digipak CD, shoulder bag, 10 art prints, poster)
–clear w/ black smoke vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 600 copies)
–transparent red w/ black smoke vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 500 copies)
–opaque red inside black haze vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
–opaque cream w/ black splatter vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
–black inside transparent orange haze vinyl (US exclusive – limited to 300 copies)
–orange / red marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 500 copies)
–180g clear vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 500 copies)
–clear / black marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
–white / orange / red marbled vinyl (EU exclusive – limited to 200 copies)
–orange / purple marbled vinyl (EMP exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
–blood splattered vinyl (Impericon exclusive – limited to 100 copies)
* exclusive bundles with shirts, plus digital options are also available!

Whitechapel will tour in support of The Valley this spring starting Apr. 18 in Sayerville, NJ.  The almost month-long tour is scheduled to run through May 17 in Winston-Salem, NC and feature performance dates in cities, such as Dallas, TX; Pontiac, MI and Berkley, CA.  the tour’s current schedule is noted below.

“Chaos and Carnage” tour dates
w/ Whitechapel, Dying Fetus, Revocation, Fallujah, Spite, Uncured, Buried Above Ground

Apr. 18 – Sayerville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
Apr. 19 – Worcester, MA – Palladium
Apr. 20 – Reading, PA – Reverb
Apr. 23 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
Apr. 24 – Cleveland, OH – Agora Theatre
Apr. 25 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
Apr. 26 – Pontiac, MI – Crofoot
Apr. 27 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
Apr. 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
Apr. 30 – Denver, CO – The Oriental Theater
May 2 – Berkley, CA – UC Theatre
May 3 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues
May 4 – Phoenix, AZ – The Pressroom
May 5 – Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater
May 7 – Springfield, MO – The Complex
May 8 – Oklahoma City, OK – Diamond Ballroom
May 9 – San Antonio, TX – Rock Box
May 10 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
May 11 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
May 12 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
May 13 – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theatre
May 15 – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
May 16 – St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live
May 17 – Winston Salem, NC – Ramkat

More information on The Valley, Whitechapel’s current tour schedule and more is available online now at:

 

Websitehttp://www.whitechapelband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/whitechapelmetal

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/whitechapelband

 

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.

Sowflo’s “New” LP Is Just As Good As A New Pair Of Shoes

Courtesy: Space Duck Records

Reggae act Sowflo released its sophomore album New Shoes last Friday.  The record, released through Space Duck Records, is a positive new effort from the Florida-based band. The 10-song record will appeal to fans of similar acts, such as Dirty Heads, 311 and Sublime. ‘Morning Thunder,’ is one of the record’s most notable entries.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows ‘Morning Thunder,’ is another work that serves to support the statements noted here.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is yet another example of what makes New Shoes an overall success for Sowflo.  When they are considered alongside other songs featured in the album, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ the end result is a record that will appeal to any reggae fan.

Sowflo’s newly released sophomore album New Shoes is a positive new offering from the Florida-based band that is certain to be a favorite among reggae purists.  That is proven in part through one of the album’s late entries, ‘Morning Thunder.’  This song stands out because it is one of the songs featured in the record that is anything but another un-of-the-mill reggae composition.  Rather, it actually boasts a rather poppy arrangement that still incorporates those familiar roots reggae influences for a whole that is a very radio-friendly work.  The song’s arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  The commentary that is clearly featured in the song’s lyrical content adds to its interest.

Front man Jacob Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I believe that people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I pulled these shades up off my eyes/And find out what they’ve been selling us/Is not as they advertise/If like me/You feel like we’ve been dreaming most our lives/It’s time to rise and shine/I’ve seen the lightning strike/I’ve heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/When I’ve seen the lightning strike/And heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/I believe the people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/The spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under.”  The song’s final verse follows in similar fashion as he sings about people realizing the reality of the violence around us, noting “the blood in the street.”  There is little doubt about the commentary here.  Dorris is addressing the reality of the world.  He is saying that he sees people are becoming more aware of what is going on and actually doing something about it.  The positive vibes of the song’s musical arrangement creates a feeling of pleasure from Dorris; a sense that he is happy people are finally taking off those proverbial blinders and trying to make a change.  It is a protest song, of sorts, yet is also so much more laid back than the typical protest song.  It is just one of the most notable of the album’s songs.  ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows, is another of the record’s most notable works.

‘Armagideon’ stands out in part because instead of reaching for the standard reggae sound, opts instead for a more pop punk type of arrangement.  That is not to say the reggae roots are not there.  The horns are there, as in each of the album’s other entries.  But this work is decidedly a move in a very different direction for Sowflo in this record, and a welcome change of pace, too.  One could almost argue that the use of the horns and the more pop punk vibe of the arrangement creates a comparison to the likes of Reel Big Fish.  That fun, upbeat musical air gives plenty in itself to appreciate in this case.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content offers its own interest for listeners.

Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I feel that/I just felt the earth move/Precursor to what could only be/Armagedion/That’s what they’re calling it on the street/Headline sales up a hundred fold/Since the information leaked/And that was the day.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “The broadcast interrupted for a word from your president/he says citizens, it seems our time here has come to an end/Let us not look back at things left undone but could have been/But take with us a sweet memory as we return to the stars again/Mothers, kiss your daughter/Fathers, hug your sons…”  Clearly he isn’t actually singing about the end of the world here.  Rather, this would seem to be more metaphorical speak being used to address the matter of accepting what life brings us.  This is inferred throughout with each comment.  He notes the president in the story is telling the nation to look forward, not back.  Dorris then goes on to tell parents to love their children.  This is a rare way for someone to present a rather familiar message about embracing the future rather than regretting the past.  That positive message is made even stronger as it is coupled with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement.  The two elements together make the song not only a sign of the direction in which the band might be moving (since it comes near the album’s end), but also another example of the album’s overall strength.  When it is considered along with the whole of ‘Morning Thunder,’ the two songs together give that much more reason for listeners to give this album a chance.  They are not the album’s only strong points, of course.  The album’s finale, ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is one more of the album’s best moments.

‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ stands out just as much as the previously discussed songs thanks in large part to its own musical arrangement.  Unlike the rest of the album’s arrangements, this opus is a gentle, flowing semi-acoustic work that serves very well to illustrate the song’s optimistic yet contemplative lyrical theme.  The arrangement is a gentle piano-driven work that uses keyboards and a guitar to round out its whole.

Dorris’ statement in the song’s chorus that, “I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process we may better ourselves/Let’s change the world” makes clear the song’s lyrical theme.  He builds on that statement in the verses by singing in the lead verse, “I slipped from my skin/It sits heavy on my bones/Spread the love with music/And the music with love/And I’ve got stupid love/You can’t keep my lips off my guitar/And I’ve seen a lot of tragedy/This is the worst by far/And I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process/We may better ourselves/Let’s change the world.”  He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “Back down on Earth/We’ve still got kids with their feet/Alone in the street/Where shadows creep/Who believe in something/Or become something more/’Cause the concrete isn’t so forgiving at melting point temperatures…It’s even hotter in hell.”  Simply put, Dorris is making a statement about the current state of the world, adding that it is up to us to change the world.  He is stressing the world is not going to change for us.  It is on us to make the change happen.  This is another important message that while quite familiar throughout music’s modern history, is still welcome here.  What’s more, the way in which the message is sent in this song makes message just as relevant and fresh as ever.  Again, when it is considered alongside the song’s contemplative but positive musical arrangement, the two come together to make ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ clearly another strong point in the whole of New Shoes.  When it is considered along with the songs previously discussed here and other songs featured in the record, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ those songs – and the others not directly noted here – join together to make the record in whole a work that is a strong second effort from Sowflo.  They make the record another offering from the band that all reggae fans will appreciate.

Sowflo’s second album New Shoes is a strong new offering from the Florida-based band that reggae fans across the board will enjoy.  That is because while it clearly boasts plenty of similarities to songs from the likes of Sublime, Dirty Heads and 311, it also presents a sound late in its run that creates an identity unique in and of itself for the band.  Those songs are the record’s strongest points, and show potential for growth from the band.  When they are considered with the rest of the record, the whole proves to be a work that will appeal to a wide range of reggae fans.  New Shoes is available now on Space Duck Records.  The band launched a tour in support of New Shoes on Friday.  The tour features a handful of dates in March, April and May.  The dates are noted below.

 

Upcoming shows:

MAR 22 Stans- Goodland, FL

MAR 27- The Ranch- Fort Myers, FL (w/ COLLIE BUDDZ & ROOTS ALMIGHTY)

MAR 30- Dixie Roadhouse- Cape Coral, FL (Record Release Show!)

APR 12- Stottlemeyr’s Smokehouse- Sarasota, FL

MAY 11- Orlando Amphitheater- Orlando, FL (Dirty Heads Orlando Vacation)

 

More information on Sowflo’s upcoming live dates is available with more information on New Shoes and the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://sowflo.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sowflo

 

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.

Amon Amarth Announces New Album, Tour Dates, Specs; Debuts New Video

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Amon Amarth returns this May, and the veteran viking metal band is building anticipation for the record’s release with the video for the album’s first single.

The band announced on Wednesday that it will release its new album Beserker on May 3 through Metal Blade Records.  The band debuted the video for the album’s lead single ‘Raven’s Flight’ Wednesday at its official website and YouTube.

Directed by Roboshobo, the video crosses footage of the band performing its new single on stage at a club-like setting with a pair of ancient vikings facing a horde of their enemies.  It is the first in a trio of videos that will come from Beserker, and features guest appearances by former UFC star Josh Barnett and WWE Superstar Eric Rowan.

 

 

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Beserker will be available on a variety of platforms, all of which are noted below. To pre-order Berserker, please visit amonamarth.lnk.to/berserker – where the album is available in the following formats:
–digipak-CD
–deluxe box set [digipak-CD, shield (~12″x12″), patch (~4″x4″) – limited to 500 copies in US]
–opaque white w/ black splatter vinyl (limited to 1200 copies)
–opaque white w/ silver haze vinyl (retail exclusive – limited to 1300 copies)
–clear w/ red splatter vinyl (webstore exclusive – limited to 750 copies)
–black w/ red haze vinyl (webstore exclusive – limited to 750 copies)

Beserker was recorded in Los Angeles, with Jay Ruston (Anthrax/Stone Sour) helming the project.  Front man Johann Hegg offered positive remarks about Beserker in a recent interview.

“For me, this is Amon Amarth 2.0,” Hegg said.  “I think what we’ve done here is given ourselves the spcae to explore other parts of our musicality and who we are as a band.  If you’re content with where you’re at, what’s the point in continuing?  We always want to come up with new ideas and find new ways and doing things, and to create bigger and better shows, and really try to improve every aspect of what the band is.  We want to try to keep growing and to do this for as long as we have the possibility to do so, because this is the best fucking job in the world.”

Beserker‘s full track listing is noted below.

Berserker track-listing
1. Fafner’s Gold
2. Crack the Sky
3. Mjölner, Hammer of Thor
4. Shield Wall
5. Valkyria
6. Raven’s Flight
7. Ironside
8. The Berserker at Stamford Bridge
9. When Once Again We Can Set Our Sails
10. Skoll and Hati
11. Wings of Eagles
12. Into the Dark

Amon Amarth will join Slayer, Lamb of God and Cannibal Corpse on the road in May for an almost month-long tour to help say farewell to Slayer while also promoting Beserker.  The band’s run is scheduled to start May 2 and run through May 25, and to feature performances in cities, such as Huntington, WV; Tampa, Fla and Phoenix, AZ.  the tour’s current schedule is noted below.

Slayer “Leg Five: North America” tour dates
w/Lamb of God, Amon Amarth, Cannibal Corpse

May 2 – Ak-Chin Amphitheatre – Phoenix, AZ
May 3 – Isleta Amphitheatre – Albuquerque, NM
May 5 – UTEP/Don Haskins Center – El Paso, TX
May 7 – Bert Ogden Arena – Edinburg, TX
May 8 – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory – Dallas, TX
May 10 – MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre – Tampa, FL
May 11 – Coral Sky Amphitheatre – West Palm Beach, FL
May 13 – Big Sandy Superstore Arena – Huntington, WV
May 14 – Merriweasther Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD
May 16 – Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center – Noblesville, IN
May 17 – Providence Medical Center Amphitheatre – Bonner Springs, KS
May 19 – DTE Energy Music Center – Clarkston, MI
May 20 – Covel Centre – Youngstown, OH
May 22 – Canadian Tire Centre – Ottawa, ON
May 24 – BB&T Pavilion – Camdel, NJ
May 25 – Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA

More information on Amon Amarth’s upcoming tour, album and video is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.amonamarth.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/amonamarthband

 

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.

Downing, Billington’s New LP Is A Rollicking Regional Musical Treat For The Whole Family

Courtesy: Wiggle Worm Records

Late last month, family entertainer Johnette Downing released her latest full-length studio recording Swamp Romp in stores and online.  Her 10th overall recording, the 16-song, 442-minute record is an enjoyable tribute to the music and culture of her home city and state.  As an added bonus, Downing’s husband Scott Billington joined her for the record, which listeners of all ages will enjoy, thanks in part to its varied musical arrangements.  Those arrangements are just part of what makes the album stand out.  Its lyrical topics are just as varied as its musical arrangements.  The companion booklet that comes with the album adds its own interest to the album’s presentation, too.  Each element plays its own important part to the whole of Swamp Romp.  All things considered, they make Swamp Romp a one of this year’s top new family music albums.

Johnette Downing and Scott Billington’s recently released album Swamp Romp is an enjoyable musical romp for the whole family, and is one of this year’s top new family music records.  That is proven in part through the album’s collective musical arrangements.  As the companion booklet that comes with the album notes of the songs, the arrangements that make up the album’s body, are a tribute to the varied musical styles of New Orleans and Louisiana in whole.  ‘Mudbug Boogie’ gives listeners a taste of the region’s beloved zydeco style while ‘Bamboula Rhythm’ introduces listeners to a musical style that is the root of so much New Orleans jazz.  ‘Crawfish Etouffe’ presents the musical style known as jure, which – noting the album’s companion booklet again – is believed to be the root of the region’s zydeco sound.  As if the musical styles already noted here are not enough, listeners also get plenty of R&B, gospel and island (yes, island) music throughout the course of the album.  Between those noted styles, the Dixieland style presented in ‘Who Got The Baby in the King Cake,’ the mambo style of ‘It Wasn’t Me (Possum Song)’ and the French Cajun style presented in the traditional ‘I Saw The Wolf, the Fox and the Weasel,’ the overall musical lesson which Downing and Billington present throughout the course of this album is an offering that will entertain and educate not just younger listeners, but older audiences, too.  It is just one part of what makes Swamp Romp stand out.  The lyrical topics presented throughout the record add to its enjoyment just as much as the musical arrangements.

The lyrical content presented throughout Swamp Romp celebrates the richness of New Orleans just as much as the record’s musical arrangements, in that it focuses on the actual culture of the city.  ‘Crawfish Etouffee’ for instance, is a celebration of the famed Louisiana seafood stew, whose base is in fact crawfish (yes, those little inland water lobsters).  The dish is served over a bed of rice, and for those who have never tried to regional specialty, it is quite delectable.  Staying on the topic of food, ‘How To Dress A Po’ Boy’ celebrates another famed New Orleans treat, the famed Po’ Boy sandwich, which is just as tasty.  ‘Who Got The Baby in the King Cake’ is yet another food-centric song.  It focuses on the absolutely delicious sweet treat that is King Cake.  Food is not the only aspect of New Orleans and Louisiana culture that is celebrated throughout Swamp Romp.  ‘Bamboula Rhythm’ focuses on the noted rhythm, which is the basis of so much of today’s New Orleans jazz.  ‘Your Best Pair of Shoes’ centers on the matter of finding the right pair of shoes for a specific style of music, while ‘Our Oxcarts’ tells the story of the Spanish Canary Island residents who founded Louisiana and their ability to allegedly train their oxen so well that the beasts could make the trip to New Orleans on their own while their owners slept on the wagons that they pulled.  Yet again, here is an intriguing piece of New Orleans (and Louisiana) history and culture that without this record, audiences likely would not have known.  It certainly is not the end of the overall culture and history lessons presented through the record.  There are mentions of Jerry Lee Lewis, whose roots are in New Orleans, the plant life that grows in New Orleans and the Mississippi River featured in the album, too.  Between these noted lessons and others featured in the album, it becomes obvious why Swamp Romp’s lyrical content is just as important to its presentation as its musical arrangements.  The two elements together, make Swamp Romp a record that certainly doesn’t get bogged (yes that awful pun was intended) down in itself at any point.  The album’s companion booklet puts the final touch to its presentation.

As previously noted, the companion booklet that is included with Swamp Romp offers a brief history of the musical style that is jure in its discussion on ‘Crawfish Etouffee.’  The notes on the song state that jure is commonplace in Southwest Louisiana, and is an a capella style sound that involves people using just their voices, clapping and foot stomping.  The simple approach was used, as those who originally performed said style did not have access to musical instruments.  It’s just one of the items in the booklet that will engage and entertain audiences.  The background information on ‘Get Ready, Get Set, Let’s Groove’ reveals that famed pianist Jerry Lee Lewis – one of the great names in rock ‘n’ roll – was originally from Ferriday, Louisiana.  This is important because, as the notes state, so many people tend to associate rock ‘n’ roll’s roots with Memphis.  This revelation would seem to paint a slightly alternate picture.  ‘Who Got The Baby in the King Cake’ is, on the surface, a food-related song.  However, as the booklet’s liner notes, the king cake is part of the more well-known festival that is Mardi Gras.  Audiences learn in the song’s liner notes, about the roots of Mardi Gras and the tradition that is tied into king cake.  It’s just one more intriguing piece of information shared in the album’s booklet that makes the booklet engaging and entertaining in its own right.  Along with that and the other noted information, listeners also learn about some of the famed guest musicians who appear on this record.  Musicians and performers, such as Irma Thomas – the Soul Queen of New Orleans – guests on ‘Poor Worry Anna’ while Lee Allen Zeno (ex-Buckwheat Zydeco) joins a group of other studio musicians for ‘Mudbug Boogie.’  Dirty Dozen Brass Band members Roger Lewis and Kevin Harris offered their talents on ‘Your Best Pair of Shoes’ while Kevin Clark (The Dukes of Dixieland) performed on ‘Who Got The Baby in The King Cake.’  Herein is just one more intriguing note of the well-known figures who took part in the creation of Swamp Romp.  When the overall background information of the performers and history presented in Swamp Romp’s booklet is considered along with the album’s equally entertaining and engaging musical and lyrical content, the album in whole proves to be a presentation that will appeal to listeners of all ages from start to end.

Johnette Downing and Scott Billington’s recently released album Swamp Romp is a rollicking new offering from the husband and wife duo that is certain to have listeners of all ages dancing, playing and singing together.  As noted already, that is due in part to the rich variety of musical styles that are displayed throughout the album.  Each style is distinct to New Orleans (and Louisiana).  The lyrical content is just as varied as the record’s musical content, and just as interesting.  The companion booklet that comes with the album brings the album’s musical and lyrical content together with its brief but concise history lessons and liner notes.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Swamp Romp.  All things considered, they make Swamp Romp one of this year’s top new family music albums.  More information on Swamp Romp is available online now along with all of Johnette Downing’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.johnettedowning.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnettemusic

 

 

 

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.

ZFG Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Independent rock band ZFG is hitting the road next month.

The band, which features the lineup of Trev Lukather (son of founding Toto member Steve Lukather), Sam Porcaro (son of original Toto bassist Jeff Porcaro), Josh Devine (One Direction) and vocalist Jules Galli, will join Adelitas Way and The Winery Dogs for a series of live dates running from April 17 – May 31.

The tour is in support of the band’s new self-titled EP. The band debuted the lyric video for the EP’s latest single, ‘Special‘ last month.  The video places the lyrics for the song in various places and situations throughout the backdrop of a busy city.  The song’s musical arrangement is a composition that will appeal largely to fans of rock from the late 80s and early 90s.

The first portion of the tour runs from April 17 to May 12, and features performances scheduled in cities, such as  Joliet, IL; Denver, CO and Heath, OH. Once the band wraps that schedule, its members will take some time off to rest and recharge before heading back out on May 25 with The Winery Dogs.

ZFG’s tour with The Winery Dogs is currently scheduled to run from May 25 to May 31 and features performances in cities, such as Anaheim, CA; Las Vegas, NV and Beverly Hills, CA.

ZFG’s current tour schedule is noted below.

ZFG w/ Adeltias Way “What it Takes” Tour Dates:

4/17 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
4/19 Austin, TX @ Come and Take it Live
4/20 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey
4/24 Heath, OH @ Muddy Creek Saloon
4/26 Tucson, AZ @ Pima County Fair
4/27 Easton, PA @ One Centre Square
4/28 Buffalo, NY @ Iron Works
5/1 Pittsburgh, PA @ Crafthouse
5/2 Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
5/3 Battle Creek, MI @ Music Factory
5/4 Joliet, IL @ The Forge
5/5 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theater
5/8 Chippewa Falls, WI @ Every Buddys
5/9 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
5/10 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
5/11 Denver, CO @ Marquis
5/12 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep

ZFG w/ The Winery Dogs “Who Let The Dogs Out” Tour:

5/25 Las Vegas, NV – Vamp’d
5/28 Sacramento, CA – Crest Theater
5/29 Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theater
5/30 Anaheim, CA – The Grove
5/31 Beverly Hills, CA – Saban Theatre

More information on ZFG’s upcoming tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.ZFGband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/zfgband

 

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.