Black Stone Cherry Teaming With Eagle Rock Entertainment For New Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The annual summer concert season is officially winding down for another year. But don’t tell the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment. That’s because the leader in live recordings still have quite a few new recordings on the way for fans as the temperatures start to turn with the leaves including a brand new live recording from Roadrunner Records’ own Black Stone Cherry titled Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014.

Eagle Rock Entertainment will release Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014 a year to the day after the band’s performance sold-out performance at the Birmingham LG Arena. It will be available on DVD + CD combo pack, Blu-ray + CD combo pack, and digital audio and digital video separate from one another. There are also bundle packs that include T-Shirt, hat and exclusive fan poster that can be ordered online now at http://www.myplaydirect.com/black-stone-cherry. The performance, which features twenty-one hit songs from across all four of the band’s current studio recordings, runs a total of two hours. It includes hits such as: ‘Rain Wizard,’ ‘Blind Man,’ ‘Like I Roll,’ ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’ and a number of others. The complete track listing for the recording is listed below.

Thank You: Livin’ Live, Birmingham, UK October 30, 2014 Track Listing

  1. Rain Wizard
  2. Blind Man
  3. Me & Mary Jane
  4. In My Blood
  5. Holding On…To Letting Go
  6. Maybe Someday
  7. Such A Shame
  8. Things My Father Said
  9. Fiest Del Fuego
  10. Sunshine of Your Love
  11. Like I Roll
  12. Bad Luck and Hard Love
  13. *drum solo*
  14. Hollywood in Kentucky
  15. Hell and Highwater
  16. Soul Creek
  17. White Trash Millionaire
  18. Blame it on The Boom Boom
  19. Layla
  20. Peace is Free
  21. Lonely Train (Can’t Judge a Book)

Audiences can check out the band’s performance of ‘White Trash Millionaire’ from the recording online right now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-Yth-dPd-A&feature=youtu.be.

Black Stone Cherry is currently touring in support of its most recent album, 2014’s Magic Mountain. It is also working on material for its fifth full-length studio release, which is expected to be released in early 2016. There are also plans for the band to return to the UK in early 2016 to headline the nation’s inaugural Carnival of Madness tour. More information on this is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and tour updates at:

Website: http://www.blackstonecherry.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BlkStoneCherry

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Stiller’s Latest Indie Outing Is One Of This Year’s Best New Independent Movies

While Were Young BD Box ArtBen Stiller is one of the most accomplished actors in Hollywood’s modern history. Having starred in countless movies and TV series, and worked behind the lens in just as many projects with plenty more in the works. One of those countless projects, While We’re Young was released direct to DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack earlier this summer. The movie, which also co-stars Naomi Watts (King Kong, Mullholland Drive, The Ring), Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables, Mama Mia, Dear John) and Adam Driver (Inside Llewyn Davis, This is Where I Leave You, What If), is not Stiller’s first jaunt into the indie movie world. In 2010, Stiller starred in the largely forgettable indie flick Greenberg. That movie was forgettable for good reason. While We’re Young however, proves to be more worth viewers’ time than Greenberg. It should be noted that while it is more worth viewers’ time than the prior movie, it is still very much an acquired taste. Though, that is the case with most Noah Baumbach movies. Now having noted that, While We’re Young is an interesting new entry for Stiller and the people at Lionsgate that is worth at least one watch. The main reason for that is its script, crafted by Baumbach. The script follows a couple played by Stiller and Watts that upon meeting a young twenty-something couple begins ruminating on years lost and in turn starts trying to reclaim and relive those years. Yes it’s an oft-used story element. But Baumbach takes an approach in his script that gives the story a new identity in the case of this movie. The additional commentary on the connection between technology and culture that is intertwined into the script is another reason that viewers will enjoy this movie. It is neither preachy nor unnecessarily comic. The bonus material included with the movie rounds out the reasons that While We’re Young proves worth the watch. It is made up mostly of interviews with Baumbach and the movie’s cast. It is one of those rare cases in which the standard bonus addition actually proves to actually be a bonus. And together with the aforementioned elements, all three show together why While We’re Young is one of the best of this year’s new independent movies.

While We’re Young is one of this year’s best new independent movies. It is a movie that stands out both among the endless sea of prequels, sequels, and remakes filling theaters and its fellow independent counterparts alike. It shows this mainly through its script. The script, crafted by writer/director Noah Baumbach, centers on a married couple played by veteran actor and actress Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) are married and both in their forties. After a chance meeting with the much younger Jamie (Driver) and Darby (Seyfried), Josh and Cornelia start ruminating on lost years and lost chances. The resultant effect leads to plenty of laughs and even some moments of deep introspection. It is that balance of humor and contemplation that sets Baumbach’s script apart from every one of the previous instances in which this oft used plot has appeared. Rather than being the typical shmaltzy, slapstick story about people trying to reclaim their youth (E.g. Grown Ups, Grown Ups 2), it offers a solid balance of both humor and depth that few if any other stories of its kind present. That mix of humor and depth is exhibited especially through the blatant cultural differences (of sorts) between the two couples. There’s a lot of truth to the behaviors presented by both pairs. There’s also just enough humor shared between the couples to keep viewers entertained and engaged from beginning to end thus showing again exactly why Baumbach’s script in itself makes While We’re Young worth at least one watch.

The central story presented in Baumbach’s script presents a strong reason why the movie’s script in whole makes this movie worth at least once watch. It is just one reason that this surprisingly interesting independent movie is worth at least that one watch. Along with its central story, there is also an intended commentary on the connection between technology and culture tied into the central story that will have viewers laughing and thinking just as much as the movie’s main story. The commentary regarding the acceptance of technology’s overly intrusive nature (I.E. cell phones being used for everything all the time) is just once example of how the commentary tied into the story helps to make the story all the more enjoyable. There is also a commentary centered on one generation trying to keep up with technology while the other (today’s younger generation) is bringing back everything that was once cool years ago and calling it cool by their own self-serving judgement. It really serves as another example of art clearly imitating real life thus showing yet again why the commentaries included in the movie’s script make the movie all the more entertaining for its target audiences. They are just a couple of the commentaries that are tied in to the script, too. Audiences will see for themselves that there are even more commentaries when they see the movie for themselves. Once again, here is reason that While We’re Young stands out both among the year’s new releases overall and the year’s new independent releases.

Both the central story presented in Baumbach’s script for While We’re Young and the commentaries that accompany the movie’s main story present plenty of reason for viewers to watch this movie at least once. Both elements are of equal importance to the movie’s success and enjoyment. However, they are only a portion of what makes the movie worth the watch. The bonus material included with the movie make its overall presentation all the more worth the watch. The bonus material in question here is largely composed of interviews with Baumbach as well as the movie’s cast. This is a pretty standard bonus included in most movies’ home releases. The difference between these interviews and those included in so many other movies is that the interviews included with this movie actually present a certain value believe it or not. Baumbach and company actually offer some valuable insight into the movie, its script, commentaries and more. It’s quite the change of pace from those other, lesser interviews that try to pass themselves off as “bonuses” with other movies. In the case of this movie, they are in fact bonuses; bonuses that every viewer will find quite insightful. The insight offered by the bonus interviews along with the script’s main story and its companion commentaries make While We’re Young a movie that in whole while not for everyone is still one of the best of this year’s new independent film field and a movie worth at least one watch.

While We’re Young may not have gotten the coverage from media outlets as the major motion pictures released this summer by Hollywood’s “Power Five Studios.” But in comparison to those largely unoriginal, uncreative, prequels, sequels, and remakes, it holds its own quite well. It even holds its own quite well among its fellow independent counterparts. That is thanks to the movie’s script, which includes a new take on a classic story line and some equally entertaining yet in-depth commentaries that will have viewers talking and laughing long after the movie ends. The bonus interviews included with the movie make the overall viewing experience of this movie even richer for fans. All three elements combined, they prove While We’re Young to be one of this year’s best new independent movies and potentially even one of the year’s best overall new movies. It is available now in stores on DVD + Digital and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack.

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Welcome Back, Kotter Season Four Is A Fond Farewell For A Great Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

The end of the road is finally here for ABC’s timeless sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.  Late last month, Shout! Factory released the final season of the classic series on DVD.  And Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Fourth Season is quite the interesting way for this one of-a-kind series to go out.  As viewers will note in going through each of the season’s twenty-three total episodes, the writers are to be very highly commended for handling the drastic changes to the series’ landscape.  That is the central aspect of the season’s success.  It will be discussed shortly.  In connection to the work of the writers, the work of the series’ cast is just as important to its whole.  After the near complete departure of one-time star John Travolta and series head Gabriel Kaplan, Robert Hegyes, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, and Ron Palillo carried on quite well alongside Marcia Strassman and John Sylvester White.  Last but hardly least of note is the series’ overall production values.  Audiences will appreciate that once again the show looks and sounds surprisingly good even as more than three decades have passed since the show ended its run on ABC.  All things considered, Welcome Back, Kotter goes out on a high note in its fourth and final season.  The proverbial waters were not easy to tread considering the show’s changes.  But somehow all involved managed to navigate them.  The end result is a collection of episodes that every Kotter fan will want to have in his or her own DVD library even though it really is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.

Welcome Back, Kotter is in its final season Welcome Back, Kotter in name only.  That is because in this the series’ final season, Mr. Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) is written almost entirely out of the show after the season’s first three episodes.  After those first three episodes, the only mentions of Mr. Kotter come in the part of his wife (played by Marcia Strassman) mentioning him being at this conference or that–as he is now the school’s Vice Principal–whenever now Principal Woodland is looking for him.  She essentially becomes the Kotter in Welcome Back, Kotter.  All of this aside, Season Four still manages to be just as entertaining as the series’ previous three seasons.  The main reason for that enjoyment is the work of the show’s writers.  The work of the series’ writers in the final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one of the most important reasons for the show’s success.  With what can only assume was the departure of star Gabe Kaplan from the show and the all but nonexistent John Travolta (Travolta appears in this season only in a handful of episodes), the writers had a lot to handle.  That’s because it forced the writers to either adjust to the changes or completely overhaul the show.  Luckily, they did the prior and did so with the utmost professionalism.  They crafted twenty-three episodes that stylistically were familiar both to the cast and crew, and to viewers.  They also exhibited the writers’ collective ability to show that the series could still float even without two of its main stars.  Sure there were some changes here and there.  But by and large, the emphasis on education, friendship and other serious subjects were just as appreciable as the laughs that were tied into every one of the season’s episodes.  Some of the best examples of that balance and solid writing come in the form of “Washington’s Clone,” “The Gang Show,” and “Once Upon A Ledge.”  The prior of the trio takes a similar tone as that of the season’s two-part premiere in its emphasis on the importance of education.  The difference between the two is that “Washington’s Clone” tackles the subject by having Washington having to address a straight-A student named Arthur who wants to be just like him instead of the student everybody had come to know him to be.  Arthur goes so far as to steal watches from his father’s store in order to try and impress Washington.  What’s really interesting here is that for all of the “coolness” for which he is normally known, Washington is forced to show an unfamiliar, serious side in which he has to play counselor to Arthur in his attempt to get Arthur back on the right track.  It’s a surprising yet welcome change to see from Washington.  “The Gang Show” is more light-hearted but still tackles some serious issues in the process.  That light-hearted approach begins right at the episode’s title, which playfully pokes fun at the one-time hit game show The Gong Show.  Beau and Arnold become judges for the school’s annual talent show in this episode.  Fittingly Epstein and Washington team up for their own act.  This forces Arnold and Beau to balance loyalty and friendship with honesty and honor as judges.  The result is absolutely comical but still presents a good message that even today’s younger viewers will appreciate.  Those same viewers will appreciate the writers’ tackling of teen suicide as new character Mary Johnson threatens suicide because she feels unnoticed and unappreciated by anyone else at school.  Go figure, she would go on to be a key character in the season’s advancement.  These are just a few examples of how the writing that went into Season Four make it work so well even with the seeming departure of Kaplan in front of the camera at least and the near full departure of John Travolta.  Each of the season’s remaining twenty episodes could just as easily be used as examples of the writers’ talents, too.  For instance, the handling of alcohol abuse (and more specifically teen alcohol abuse) in “Come Back, Little Arnold,” the lessons of friendship and truth in media in “The Sweat Smell of Success” and the still hot button topic of sex education in “X-Rated Education.” Whether through these episodes, the ones more directly addressed, or through any of the season’s others, it can be said that the episodes in whole prove clearly the importance of the show’s writing even with the changes that came with the season. They are just part of what makes this season work as well as it does, too. The work of the show’s cast proves just as pivotal to its success and enjoyment.

The work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter shows throughout each of this season’s episodes makes this season just as enjoyable as the series’ previous three seasons. That is the case even despite the changing landscape of the show in its final run. In connection to the work of the show’s writers, the work of the show’s cast is just as pivotal to its continued enjoyment. This is key to note because of the noted changes. Stars Ron Palillo, Robert Hegyes, and Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs were forced into the spotlight after [Gabe] Kaplan was essentially written out along with Travolta’s Vinnie Barberino. The trio handled their new roles with just as much professionalism as the show’s writers. There were plenty of laughs from the trio’s mix of physical comedy and almost Three-Stooges style back and forth throughout each episode. Even when it was time for the trio to step up and be more serious, such as when they get Norman to admit to his trouble with alcohol and when they had to get Arthur back on the right track, they did so with an equal level of expertise. Interestingly enough, Beau (Stephen Shortridge) was rather underutilized after his introduction as the newest member of the Sweathogs. It’s almost as if he was brought in without full forethought. Even considering this, Palillo, Hegyes, and Hilton-Jacobs hold their own and create plenty of laughs and moving moments through this season, showing time and again why their work was so important to the season’s success.

Both the work of the writers behind Welcome Back, Kotter and that of the show’s cast are of equal importance to the enjoyment and overall success of the series’ final season. As important as both elements are to the whole of the recently released box set neither would be worth the mention without mention of the set’s production values. Specifically speaking none of it would be worth mentioning without mention of the footage’s audio and video mix. In regards to its video mix, the footage looks just as impressive as that in the series’ previous standalone season sets. The season has been restored to its original condition. And once again, the grainy look of the footage has been cleaned up without losing that original look that the show presented in its original run. The sound is just as enjoyable. Considering the recording tech available at the time, that says quite a bit. When set alongside the work of the show’s cast and writers, the work of those charged with restoring Season Four’s footage makes this final installment of Welcome Back, Kotter one last must have for Kotter fans and classic TV fans alike.

The fourth and final season of Welcome Back, Kotter is one last must have both for fans of the classic series and for classic television fans alike. That is proven through the work of the series’ writers and cast, and through the work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here. Season Four is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/comedy/welcome-back-kotter-the-final-season. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

 

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Fifth Harmony Gets Spooky With Hotel Transylvania 2 Soundtrack’s Lead Single

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Adam Sandler and company are back. Next month, Sony Pictures Animation will release Hotel Translyvania 2. And ahead of the highly anticipated movie’s release, the hit pop group Fifth Harmony has debuted the lead single from the movie’ s sound track ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ and audiences can check it out online now via Vevo.

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Audiences can check out the video for ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ online now via Vevo at http://www.vevo.com/watch/fifth-harmony/Im-In-Love-With-a-Monster-(from-Hotel-Transylvania-2)/USSM21501512. The video mixes together footage of the group performing its song in various settings along with footage from the movie as well as appearances from some rather spooky guests. While many of the group’s songs are generally aimed at specific audiences, the infectious grooves and family friendly lyrical content are sure to make the song just one more part of the movie that families will enjoy.

Fifth Harmony is currently winding down its “Reflection Summer Tour.” It is currently scheduled to perform live at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland on Saturday, September 5th and at the Washington State Fair on Wednesday, September 16th. After those two dates, the group will take some down time, it will be back on Stage on Wednesday, December 2nd at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. All of the latest updates on Fifth Harmony’s tour is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.fifthharmonyofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fifthharmony

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.

Pop Punk Fans Will Enjoy SOL’s Debut LP

Courtesy:  Standby Records

Courtesy: Standby Records

New Jersey may not be one of the most popular states in the nation. But the “armpit of America” has proven for decades that it is anything but that. Being home to the likes of the New Jersey Devils from the NHL, and music legends such as Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, the “Garden State” exhibits just as much diversity as a floral garden. Now another band has come along in the form of Stories of Living to add even more diversity to that culture “garden.” The five-piece pop punk band (formerly Time Will Tell) has officially released its debut album Save Your Breath and is streaming it in full via YouTube. The twelve-track album instantly conjures thoughts of New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and A Day to Remember just to name a few comparisons. That being the case, it is a good record for any pop punk fan from start to finish beginning with the album’s opener ‘Enough is Enough.’ The up-tempo rocker centers on a relationship gone bad but musically is not one of those oh-woe-is-me style pieces. It makes for a solid opener and first impression for the band. ‘Enemies Like Me,’ which comes just before the album’s midway point, is another standout track for the band. Its standard pop punk approach makes it just as engaging as any of the album’s other offerings. In regards to its lyrical content, front man Chris Rivers, leaves nothing to question in terms as he sings about fake friends and how they need “enemies like me.” It isn’t a negative piece despite its title. Rather it’s a song sung from the standpoint of someone saying to said fake friends that they need to be put in their place; someone to show others how fake they are. This is something to which listeners of all ages can relate, not just the band’s likely intended younger audiences. ‘Skin Deep,’ is another example of what the band’s fans and pop punk fans alike will enjoy about this record. It is that standard acoustic piece that seems prevalent in so many other pop punk, emo, etc. style records. But it is also rather interesting lyrically. Thanks to its lyrical content, it will definitely have listeners both thinking and talking. Whether for this song, for the album’s opener, or for the likes of ‘Enemies Like Me,’ Stories of Living shows in its debut record to be a good first effort for the Sparta, New Jersey-based band. The same could be said of any of the album’s other offerings, too. Altogether, the twelve tracks that make up this record offer plenty of value for the pop punk legions out there and in turn make ‘Save Your Breath’ an album that every pop punk fun will want to hear at least once before this year is out.

Stories of Living’s debut album Save Your Breath is a good first effort for the Sparta, New Jersey-based pop punk outfit. That is thanks in large part to the fact that the album’s twelve total tracks instantly remind audiences of other more established pop punk acts such as New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and A Day To Remember. Even with such similarities, the work of the band’s members–Chris Rivers (vocals), Bob Alcavage (guitar), Mike Larned (guitar), Nick Borelli (bass), and Mike Tizzano (drums)–still leads to a record that holds its own against those more well-known acts. That is obvious in the album’s opener ‘Enough is Enough.’ Right from the song’s outset, it instantly conjures thoughts of New Found Glory through its musical content. Rivers’ lyrics seemingly centered on a relationship gone bad will entertain listeners just as much. He sings of the relationship, “Is it alright/If I don’t know what it means to have a good night/Or that I’m just now believing it’s the truth/And now I see/That you always planned to use me…the only thing I want to tell you is/Enough is enough/And I don’t want to hear it/I’m wasting my time while you’re breaking my spirit/Keeping in mind all the time that you wasted/I don’t think that you have what it takes to make it/Judging by the fact that you’ve given up so slowly/Dragging me along/Did I really look that lonely/You may look fine tonight/But don’t think you have what it takes to make it right.” This is just the song’s lead verse and chorus. The remaining lyrical content is quite similar to say the very least. But that verse alone drives home this song’s topic clearly and efficiently. What is really good about the overall lyrical content of the song is that it isn’t one of those oh-woe-is-me style songs about a broken relationship. Rather as Rivers notes, “Now I see that you always planned to use me…the only thing I want to tell you is enough is enough,” it is a song in which the subject presents great personal strength. This is someone that finally saw the light rather than being blinded and is determined to make a positive change. That and the song’s positive musical tone come together to make this song again, a good starting point for the band on its debut record and an equally good representation of the band’s offerings on this album.

‘Enough is Enough’ shows itself to be a good starting point for SOL’s debut album and an equally good representation of what the band has to offer in the album in whole. It is just one song that serves as a good representation of the material that makes up the album’s body. ‘Enemies Like Me’ is another good example of what makes this record a worthwhile listen for any pop punk fans out there. In regards to its musical content it is another familiar piece for pop punk fans with the percussive nature of the guitar lines in the song’s opening bars and the catchy hooks and riffs that follow. The lyrical content is just as accessible for listeners. That is because of what would seem to be the song’s lyrical theme. Considering the lead verse in which Rivers sings, “Friends stay friends but now it’s all too late/It’s not the same/Losing friends with false intentions/Just don’t seem/I’m better off/Learning the hard way/I tried for the last time days ago/How could I know the outcome/We’ve changed in the past three years, I know/Nothing like/You’d better know/So/Don’t think you have me all figured out/Cause if you knew me you’d know better than to open your mouth or call me out.” That’s a pretty clear statement. And its a statement to which listeners of all ages and kids can relate. There are just as many adults like the ones that Rivers’ subject sings about as there are younger people like those people. What’s more , Rivers isn’t really exaggerating about those people, either. Because it boasts such an ability to relate to such a broad spectrum of listeners, this song shows even more why it is another good representation for SOL’s debut record.

‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘Enemies Like Me’ are both good representative songs for SOL’s new album Save Your Breath. While both songs show in their own way why pop punk fans will appreciate Save Your Breath, they are not the album’s only good representative songs. ‘Skin Deep’ is one more good example of what said fans can expect from this record. It is yet another standard style pop punk piece that most listeners will recognize in regards to its musical content. That being the case its lyrical content lies at the center of its success. Rivers sings in the song’s chorus, “It’s killing me to say please/Don’t take away the only thing/That makes me me/I’m only skin deep/And happy in my sleep.” He adds to this by singing in the chorus’ refrain, “I’ve gotta believe/This world will take me somewhere when my life succeeds/A dream/So please don’t ever wake me.” Whether Rivers is speaking metaphorically here or literally from the point perhaps of someone struggling with thoughts of depression would be interesting to learn. the supposition of someone struggling with depression comes as he sings about being happy in one’s sleep. It could easily be interpreted that the sleep in question is one’s daydreams, not literally sleep. That could lead to the interpretation of someone saying that he or she is only happy in their daydream world, and that they don’t want that taken away. This is, as always, just the interpretation of this critic. It is not gospel. It could very well be wrong. Regardless, Rivers’ ability to generate so much discussion makes it just as worth the listen as the previously discussed songs or any of the album’s other nine songs not directly noted here. Whether for those songs or for the ones discussed here, it can be said of Save Your Breath in whole that it is in fact a record that any pop punk fan will want to hear at least once.

Save Your Breath, the debut album from Stories of Life is a good record for any pop punk fan to hear at least once if not more. The dozen songs that compose the body of the album are chock full of familiar pop punk sounds that will keep said listeners engaged from start to finish. Its overall lyrical content from beginning to end is just as certain to keep listeners’ ears throughout. The combination of those factors lead Save Your Breath once again to prove itself an album that any pop punk fan will want to hear at least once. It is available now in stores and online . It can be ordered online now via iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon. The band is also currently streaming the album online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2qvNvMhPB4la9TYtOOVa9zRd_jVaMrge. More information on Save Your Breath is available online now along with all of the band’s latest updates at:

Website: http://www.ourbandissol.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/StoriesOfLiving

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

Blanchard’s Debut LP Is A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Cumbancha Music Publishing

Courtesy: Vis-a-vis

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.francescablanchard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cheskablanch

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Shout! Factory To Resurrect Another Hidden Classic This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

This fall, Shout! Factory will resurrect another piece of hidden television history that was long thought forgotten when it releases the short-lived ABC action-comedy Automan.

Shout! Factory, in partnership with Fabulous Films, will release Automan: The Complete Series on Tuesday, November 10th. The 13-episode series originally ran on ABC from December 15th, 1983 to April 2nd, 1984. It starred Desi Arnaz, Jr. (The Lucy Show, Here’s Lucy) in the series’ lead role of Walter Nebicher. Nebicher was an IT professional with dreams of being more than just a tech man for his local police department. Though, his superiors have other ideas. So he creates the artificial intelligence program Automan (Chuck Wagner—General Hospital, All My Children) to help fight crime in his city. Automan is accompanied by a small, floating droid named Cursor much as Clu did in Disney’s surprise hit 1982 movie Tron. Speaking of the similarities between Automan and Tron they are not coincidental. Automan was co-produced by Donald Kushner (Tron, Tron: Legacy).

Automan: The Complete Series will be accompanied by a handful of extras for even more enjoyment including a forty-two-minute documentary titled: “Calling Automan – The Auto Feature,” which includes interviews with series stars Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz, Jr., and heather McNair. There will also be a feature focusing on “The Story of Automan,” a trailer for Manimal: The Complete Series, which will be released alongside Automan: The Complete Series by Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films, a number of picture galleries and more. The complete list of bonus features included in Automan: The Complete Series is noted below.

Special Features:

  • “Calling Automan” – The Auto Feature – 42 minutes

An all-new documentary featuring interviews with Chuck Wagner, Glen A. Larson, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Heather McNair

  • The Story of Automan
  • Feature Story
  • Original Cast and Crew Biographies
  • Collectables Gallery
  • Stills Gallery
  • Manimal Trailer

Automan: The Complete Series will be available on DVD in stores and online on Tuesday, November 10th. It will retail for MSRP of $26.99 but can be pre-ordered for a discounted price of $21.99 via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-sci-fi/automan-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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.