The countdown to the end of 2021 is now at 24 days. That is still plenty of time to add in some more year-ender lists from any critic out there. With that in mind, Phil’s Picks has yet another list to offer up. Today, that list comes in the form of the year’s top new rap and hip-hop albums. This year brought quite the array of new releases from that realm, too. Between new music from the late, great DMX to new material from Common, and from Atmosphere and others, rap and hip-hop fans had plenty to cheer about this year. As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this list features this critic’s Top 10 favorite new albums in said category along with five honorable mention titles, bringing the total to actually 15. The honorable mention titles, as with every other list, are there because they deserve their own applause, even being just outside the Top 10. Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2021 Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop albums.
PHIL’S PICKS’ 2021 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Common – A Beautiful Revolution Part 2
Adrian Younge – The American Negro
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Evidence – Unlearning Volume 1
Atmosphere – Word?
NDN Collective – Landback
DMX – Exodus
DJ Abilities – Phonographic Phoenix
Aesop Rock & Blockhead – Garbology
Shad – TAO
DJ 2-Tone Jones – Contraband From India
Wax Tailor – The Shadow of Their Suns
K.A.A.N. – Long Time No See
Dap The Contract – Powers Volume 2
R.A.P. Ferreira – In The Garden Level Café Of The Scallops Hotel
That’s it for this list, but there is still plenty more to come. Phil’s Picks still has year-ender lists in the categories of rock, hard rock, country/bluegreass/Americana, new live CDs, and of course the year’s best new albums overall. That is all before switching over to new DVD and Blu-ray categories, too. So, stay tuned!
When vteran rapper Common released his then latest album, A Beautiful Revolution, last year, the record proved to be among the best of the year’s new rap and hip-hop records. Now less than a year after its release, Common has returned with an equally successful offering in that record’s companion, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2. Released Sept. 10, the 11-song record succeeds in part through its musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies that musical content adds its own appeal to the presentation and will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, bringing everything together and completing that presentation. It will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the record just as successful as the record’s predecessor and one of this year’s top new rap and hip-hop records.
Common’s recently released record, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is a solid follow-up/companion to last year’s A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1. It success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are everything that audiences have come to expect from Common. Rather than the typical use of turntables, etc. Common has once again opted for a blend of vintage r&b, funk and hip-hop in each song. It seems the closest that Common gets to any “modern” rap and hip-hop musical leanings comes in ‘Saving Grace.’ Even in that case though, that sound and style is accompanied by a clear r&b influence. The balance of those sounds and styles makes this song’s musical content some of the record’s best. On another note, Petry, which finds Common partner with rocker Marcus King, offers audiences more of a southern blues style approach along with the steady hip-hop beats that keep the song moving. This is truly a unique approach for Common. It continues to show Common’s willingness to take chances and really try new things. The result is another example of what makes this record’s musical arrangements so engaging and entertaining. On yet another note, the music bed featured in ‘A Beautiful Chicago Kid’ is another blend of hop-hop and funk that stands out here even from its counterparts. The upbeat tempo and delivery of the arrangement makes it immediately and infectious. That it so quickly grabs listeners and ensures their engagement and entertainment also means that the song’s lyrical content will resonate with listeners in its own right. That will be discussed momentarily. Staying on the matter of the album’s musical content, everything examined here joins with the rest of the record’s musical arrangements to make the record’s overall musical content a strong starting point for A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2. The noted lyrical content pairs with the album’s musical content to make the record even more appealing.
The lyrical content that is featured throughout Common’s new album is just as engaging and entertaining as the record’s musical content because it is also everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran rapper/actor. The lyrical content featured throughout the album is so positive from one song to the next. It is meant to uplift his audiences in so many ways. Case in point is the early entry, ‘When We Move (ft. Black Thought and Seun Kuti).’ Common wraps about what seems like taking pride in his ancestry and his present. This is inferred as he rap, “Picture this country being brave without us/A slave’s nostalgia/Move through the woods with vigor/When we got free the world moves with us/Now they wanna change their bodies/Go figure/Used to call us/Now they wanna be ******/We the rivers that move through the jungle, yo/When we move we make the world wonderful.” Black Thought expands on Common’s thoughts in the song’s second verse. Simply put, this is a welcome statement of pride and self-confidence in not only Common’s ancestry, but in that of the African-Americans in general. It is also a statement of pride in African-Americans today and how they have changed the world. There needs to be more of this kind of statement in rap and hip-hop and so much less that glorifies drugs, womanizing, etc. As one of the members of Jurassic 5 recently said, ending that lies in a big way in addressing the record labels that expect that kind of content from rappers.
Moving on from there, ‘Poetry’ is another example of the power in this record’s lyrical content. Common raps here about his humility and his religious devotion, as well as his devotion to loved ones. Right from the song’s outset, he raps, “Whether facing the East or facing the beast/I’ma keep fightin’ till the world say, “Peace”/Hollywood guilt put a ***** in grease/I’m God-bodied but devil’s in the deets/But I still listen when Mohammed speaks/And get a good work when PT preach/My mama used to teach/So its lessons to learn/ Before I step and repеat, I step and I earn/I met a girl’s daddy, hе was kept in a urn/The world as we knew it, it was destined to burn/My success is a verb, it’s a blessing to serve.” This first verse makes clear exactly what has been noted here. This is dedication, humility, just pure positive words and vibes. He concludes the verse by stating, “Poetry in motion/We moving forward today.” This is, again, more inspiring content that is certain to resonate with listeners. The song’s second verse is equally rich and moving in its content. All things considered here, the whole of this song continues to exhibit the positivity that has kept Common so beloved throughout his career and keeps him just as respected in this record.
‘Star of the Gang’ is yet another example of the power presented in this record’s lyrical content. Right from the song’s outset, Common uses the song’s chorus, and its statement alone is more than powerful enough. He raps here, “Everything is alright/I’ve been through a lot, but I’m fortunate/Feel it comin’ from all sides/Heavy is the crown, but I’m passionate/And I know I’ll be just fine/Understand the world, we’re the same/I’ll be alright/I’ve been through a lot, but I’m fortunate.” This is a brief statement, being the song’s chorus, but it speaks volumes. This statement sets the stage for the ruminations that follow. Those ruminations are deep in their own right, and continue to prove the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When this song’s lyrical content is considered with that also examined here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the noted importance. When the richness and depth of the album’s lyrical content is considered with the equally accessible musical content, that overall content gives audiences more than enough reason to hear this record. Even with that in mind, there is still one more item to examine here. It comes in the form of the album’s sequencing.
The sequencing featured in A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is important to examine because it takes the albums’ musical and lyrical content into account and brings it all together. As noted, each arrangement is familiar from Common. Once again, he has taken the road less traveled here, opting for a purer sound than the typical bass heavy approach that is way too commonplace in today’s rap music. The mood stays the same from one song to the next thanks to the sequencing of that content. The result is that it keeps listeners laid back and relaxed. In turn, it ensures in its own right, that maintained engagement and entertainment. The sequencing also plays into the lyrical content, changing topics steadily from one to the next while also ensuring the topics are accessible in each song. The clear attention paid to each work in terms of the musical and lyrical content pays off in its own right. When the result of that work is considered along with the impact of the record’s overall content, the whole makes clear that this record is among the best of this year’s new rap and hip-hop records.
Common’s latest album, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2, is a strong new offering from the veteran rapper/actor. Its success comes in part through its musical arrangements. The arrangements are everything that audiences have come to expect from Common throughout his catalog. Each arrangement is fully accessible as well as engaging and entertaining because of the approach taken to each work. The record’s lyrical content makes it just as appealing as the noted musical content. The lyrical content is so appealing because of its depth and yet accessibility. The sequencing of all of that content brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation. It takes both items into account and uses them to ensure listeners will remain engaged and entertained throughout the 38-minute record. Each item examined is important in its own right. All things considered, they make A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 one of the best of this year’s new rap and hip-hop albums.
A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 2 is available now. More information on the record is available along with all of Common’s latest news at:
Veteran rapper Common apparently is not one to rest easily on his laurels. From his most well-known role as a rapper, to his work on the small and big screen (including starring in ads for major companies), he definitely has kept himself busy throughout his career. Ever since releasing his debut album Can I Borrow a Dollar? in 1992, the rapper has allowed at most, three years between each album and as little as one year. Considering it all, one can’t help but wonder how Common has kept going, but he definitely has, and his latest album A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 proves that. Released just over a year after the release of his then latest album Let Love, A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is another impressive, strong new offering. That is thanks equally to its musical and lyrical content. Each item will be discussed shortly. The sequencing of that content brings everything full circle, completing the album’s presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Common’s new album. All things considered, they make the album another welcome addition to his already extensive catalog that audiences new and old alike will enjoy.
Common’s latest full-length studio recording is another impressive addition to what is already an extensive, enjoyable catalog of albums. That is proven in part through the album’s collective musical content. Common took a familiar route in this album in terms of its musical arrangements. Rather than use extensive electronics, sampling and everything else that so many of today’s rappers use, Common opted once again to use a combination of familiar R&B and jazz influences for the album’s musical bed. Case in point is the musical arrangement at the base of ‘A Riot in My Mind.’ The song starts off with a gentle jazz guitar composition before giving way to an old school hip-hop style beat. The jazz guitar even turns more modern in its stylistic approach in order to match the hip-hop base. By comparison, the hip-hop musical arrangement at the center of ‘Say Peace’ takes audiences back to the 90s right from the song’s outset. There is a subtle guitar line incorporated into the song, but the beats form the majority of the song’s foundation. It is a distinctly different approach from that of ‘A Riot in My Mind.’ ‘Courageous’ meanwhile presents audiences another distinctly different arrangement to keep things interesting. The light piano-driven arrangement does incorporate its own solid beat throughout. What is important to note here is that unlike the album’s other musical arrangements, this one is more of a pop style composition that also uses a touch of jazz alongside. It makes for what is one of the album’s most unique musical compositions, and yet another example of thee importance of the album’s musical content. It in itself generates plenty of appeal for listeners. It is just one of the elements that makes the album so appealing. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own share of enjoyment and engagement.
The lyrical content that is presented throughout A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is important because of its accessibility. For the most part, the record’s lyrical content is very socially conscious. There are mentions of the Black Lives Matter protests here as well as mentions of politicians and their empty words. There are also mentions about police brutality against the African-American community at various points. This is content to which so many listeners will connect. It is not all that listeners will like in regards to the record’s lyrical content, though. Common also offers up a pair of songs in ‘Courageous’ and ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ that will connect with an even wider range of listeners. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ opens clearly with the message pointed out in its title, with guest vocalist Paris Jones singing, “Don’t forget who you are/You’re blessed with it/Baby, so marvelous/No one like you/Just look around/Yeah, you’re too strong to turn around.” Common adds in the song’s lead verse, “Beautiful, baby/I love you, baby/Pray these words may hug you, baby/Look into the mirror and say, “I love you” daily/Remember your light when the world seems shady/You’re born with it/Adorned with it/A gift to the world/Go on/Give it/Fearlessly made/No need to be afraid/Angels are with you/The path is laid/Wade in thoughts of you being the star/Truly you’ll shine/By seeing who you are/Reflections of you/Reflections of me/The beauty more than any eyes can see.” This comes across as a parent talking to a child, reminding that child of his/her greatness. This is a message that transcends racial and cultural divides. It is a message that every parent needs to communicate with children. The song’s second verse follows in similar fashion, keeping the positive energy flowing, and in turn making or even more enjoyment.
‘Courageous’ follows a similar path as it presents its theme of self-confidence. The song opens with its chorus, which finds Jones singing, “I’m all here in the flesh/You can take it or not/I’m not claiming/Pretending to be what I’m not/I ain’t nobody’s angel/We in this world that is changing/Who you are/Just embrace it/Stay courageous.” This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the song and ensures immediately, listeners’ engagement and enjoyment. Common follows in the song’s lead verse, stating, “Unapologetic/unashamed with it/Times in life/I came with it/When the unseen became vivid/Of different flesh/Same spirit/It’s like a lyric by Stevie Wonder/Through the inner visions/You can see the wonder/Spent time in life being in the run up/Couldn’t run from what I’ve seen this summer/Trying to understand where we are in time/Looking at the world/Keeping God in mind/I know it’s a peace that’s hard to find/I went out there and found mine inside/I’m alive on arrival/My life is more than survival/You can live and be live, too/That’s how heaven will describe you.” He adds in the song’s second verse, “Look life in the eye/I can see clearer/A kingdom’s coming/You can hear it near us/Stay close to the sincerest/Those the ones that became mirrors/Speak no hate/Let love hear us/Times I’m me/Is when I was fearless/There’s a self I gotta take care of/So with the world/I can truly share love/And be a bearer of fruit on the planet/Guided steps I don’t take for granted/Time is manic/We internalize/Honor that little boy or little girl inside/Pray these words’ll rise to the ears of angels/We let go of fears/That we came through/Change is beautiful as it is painful/The world is yours/Don’t let it change you/Don’t let it change you.” This continues the tone set in the song’s chorus and lead verse. It is straight forward in its presentation. It reminds listeners to be the best that they can and live the best they can, and to take confidence in themselves. It is another positive message that is sure to connect with listeners just as much as the album’s other socially-minded lyrical themes. Speaking of those other themes, when they are considered wit the positive themes presented here and in ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are,’ the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When it is considered with the album’s musical content, that collective material makes the album in whole that much more appealing. They are still only a portion of what makes the album a success. The content’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1is important to the album’s presentation because it ensures the album’s energy is balanced throughout in its songs. It succeeds in doing this, too. It starts easy and relaxed in its first two songs before picking up in ‘Say Peace.’ That slightly increased energy runs through the album’s next entry, ‘What Do You Say’ before pulling back again in ‘Courageous.’ It is not until two songs later, ‘A Riot in my Head,’ that the album’s energy picks up again. What is important here is that the crescendo in that energy is gradual, rather than immediate. It is kind of the album’s (and Common’s) way of gradually picking things back up again. This showed clear thought into the album’s sequencing so as to keep listeners’ entertained and engaged. The album’s last two songs are relaxed, with the energy gradually declining just as much as it rose prior. Looking back through it all, the sequencing of Common’s new record ensures the album’s energy is stable from start to end. Its energy rises and falls at all of the right points and just enough. When this is considered along with the album’s collective content, the record in whole proves to be a successful new offering from one of rap and hip-hop’s most justifiably respected artists.
Common’s new album A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is a successful new offering from the veteran rapper than audiences will enjoy from beginning to end. That is proven in pat through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question follow a familiar path from Common’s past albums but still keep things fresh for listeners. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements are easily accessible without being forceful, either. That is another plus. The content’s sequencing puts the final touch to the album’s presentation. It ensures the energy in the album’s arrangements keeps listeners engaged and entertained. Each item examined here is important in its own way to A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1. All things considered, they make the album a work that rap and hip-hop fans will enjoy just as much as Common’s established fan base. A Beautiful revolution Pt. 1 is available now.
More information on A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1 is available along with all of Common’s latest news at:
Rap and hip-hop fans have had quite a bit to be happy about this year. That is because over the course of the now fading year, a lot of notable entries have made their way to audiences within the genre. They have come from independent and well-known acts alike, too. From the familiar socio-politically charged content featured in Public Enemy’s new album What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down, to the lighter yet still engaging content featured in Aesop Rock’s new album Spirit World Field Guide, to the unique hybrid jazz/hip-hop instrumental offering from Analog Players Society, Soundtrack For A Nonexistent Film, and more, this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop records has proven quite diverse and entertaining. Even Eminem released his own new album (albeit by surprise) in the form of Music to be Murdered By early this year. Between that record and so many others, this year’s field of new albums was full of interesting, impressive new albums, both mainstream and independent. Phil’s Picks has kept track of them once again this year and produced a list of the year’s best new product.
As with past years and each list, this collection features the Top 10 new titles in the category, as well as five honorable mentions, for a total of 15 titles. Here for your consideration is the Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 new Rap & Hip-Hop Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Public Enemy – What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?
Run The Jewels – RTJ4
RJD2 – The Fun Ones
Common – A Beautiful Revolution Pt. 1
Jamo Gang – Walking With Lions
Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide
Eminem – Music to be Murdered By
Analog Players Society – Soundtrack for a Nonexistent Film
Atmosphere – The Day Before Halloween
GNL Zamba – The Spear
Denzel Curry – Unlocked
Prof – Powderhorn Suites
Busta Rhymes – Extinction Level Event 2
Aesop Rock – Music From The Game Freedom Finger
Black Eyed Peas – Translation
Next up from Phil’s Picks is a listing of the year’s top new jazz and blues albums. Stay tuned for that.
This year was a banner year for the worlds of rap and hip-hop. New albums from the likes of Common, Denzel Curry and Atmosphere helped make this year stand out along with new releases from the likes of DJ Shadow, Malibu Ken and Robert Glasper added even more punch to this year’s field of new rap and hip-hop albums, giving audiences plenty from which to choose.
Considering all the new albums with those noted genres, there was so much to do and hardly enough time to cove them all. That aside, even this realm was not ignored by Phil’s Picks. Here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums. As with every other list produced this year, it features the Top 10 albums and five honorable mentions for a total of 15 titles. Without further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop albums.
Multi-faceted and talented performer Common has joined forces with equally famed pianist/producer Robert Glasper and drummer/producer Karriem Riggins to form a new music super group, and the group is already getting audiences excited about its forthcoming debut album.
The group, known as August Greene, will release its self-titled debut album via Amazon Music on March 9. In anticipation of the album’s release, the band debuted this week the album’s lead single, ‘Optimistic (ft. Brandy)’ via NPR Music. The song, streaming now via SoundCloud, mixes a gentle, flowing R&B arrangement that echoes hints of some of Brandy’s most beloved classic hits with an equally flowing, almost easy jazzy piano line and solid hip-hop rhythm for a song that is certain to reach so many listeners.
No online presence has yet been established for August Greene. The group is set to make its live debut at New York City’s Highline Ballroom for Robert Glasper’s sixth annual Grammy(R) Joint.
Music lovers of all kinds have seen so many great new records this year. From rock to country to jazz, blues and so many genres in-between the musical universe has spawned countless enjoyable records. One of the genres that Phil’s Picks hasn’t yet touched on this year is that of rap and hip-hop.
The rap and hip-hop community has collectively spawned just as many outstanding new albums as acts from every other genre across the musical universe. De La Soul returned this year with its new record And The Anonymous Nobody. DJ Shadow also returned with its own enjoyable album in the form of The Mountain Will Fall. If that isn’t enough for fans, Fort Knox Five also put out a new album in a 20-song remix album titled Pressurize The Cabin Re-Mixes. The record tops Phil’s Picks list of top new rap and hip-hop albums this year. It’s like having two remix albums in one yet is still its own brand new collection of songs.
There is just not enough space for it all, but this critic tried to present the most outstanding new albums deserving of credit even in this realm. Keeping this in mind, Phil’s Picks has picked out quite the field of new rap and hip-hop albums this year to pay attention to.
As a reminder, the list features the Phil’s Picks Top 10 new rap and hip-hop albums with five honorable mentions for a total of 15 new notable albums. Without any further ado, here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rap and Hip-Hop Albums list.
PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW RAP & HIP-HOP ALBUMS
Fort Knox Five – Pressurize The Cabin Re-Mixes
Atmosphere – Fishing Blues
Will Magid – Alligator Spacewalk
De La Soul – And The Anonymous Nobody
Royce Da 5’9” – Layers
Mr. Lif – Don’t Look Down
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You
DJ Shadow – The Mountain Will Fall
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
Common – Black America Again
Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
AMC’s hit western drama Hell on Wheels finally reached the end of its tracks this summer (bad pun fully intended) with the end of its fifth season. The series’ end had been announced well before Season 5 started. That didn’t make it any less difficult to see such a standout series comes to its end. For those who didn’t want the series to come to its end, its final episodes were released on DVD and Blu-ray at November’s opening. There is plenty to say about the series’ final volume of episodes beginning with the work of the show’s writers. That will be discussed shortly. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to note here as that of the show’s writers. The bonus material included in this final volume of episodes rounds out its most important elements. Each element plays its own clearly important in the collection’s presentation. All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 proves to be a fitting final farewell for one of the best serials to come along in recent memory.
Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for a show that is one of the best serials to come along in recent memory. That statement is supported in part through the work of the show’s writers. Once again the series’ writers managed in these final seven episodes to keep audiences completely engaged as they wrapped up all of the loose ends left from the first half of the season. Not to give away too much, one of those loose ends might leave some audiences really disliking Cullen even despite everything else. The writers did a good job of showing the difficulty in Cullen’s decision here. But it’s still difficult to not dislike Cullen’s choice or to not dislike Cullen himself for that choice. It is truly a heart wrenching moment. It’s just one of the loose ends that is wrapped up in these final episodes. Viewers finally see the end of Thor Gundersen in these final episodes, too. This is perhaps the one moment in which the writers slipped up. Every time it seemed like Cullen had finally finished off Thor, he was still alive. That is until he finally meets his fate. That moment is brutal in itself to watch. Getting back on topic, the fact that Thor just kept coming back up until that moment made it seem like the writers weren’t entirely certain how to finish off Thor, so they used the different scenarios to keep the story moving in hopes that audiences wouldn’t mind his multiple deaths. At the same time, finally presenting Thor’s past served to illustrate why he had become such an angry person. So that makes up for the issues of Thor’s many deaths up until his final death. One of the most surprising moments in which the writers’ work shines comes as Cullen is called to testify against Thomas Durant in Washington, D.C. Cullen’s reaction as he sits before the committee was completely surprising. It also showed in its own way perhaps another realization by Cullen about who he was in comparison to Durant. That deeper element makes this moment stand out even more. It’s just one more moment that exhibits the importance of the series’ writers in these final seven episodes. There are so many others that could be cited. But there isn’t enough time or space to cover them all. Audiences will have to find them for themselves when they purchase or order this final volume of Hell on Wheels’ episodes. While the work of the series’ writers clearly exhibits its own importance in the collection’s presentation, it is not the only important element to note. The work of the series’ cast is just as important to note as the work of the series’ writers.
The work put in by Hell on Wheels’ writers in its final episodes goes a long way toward making them entertaining and engaging. That is evident through the moments discussed here and through so many other moments. Even with this in mind, the writers’ work is not the only work that makes these episodes so entertaining. The cast’s work interpreting each episode’s script is just as important to note as the writers’ work. One of the most notable moments that exemplifies the importance of the cast’s work comes as Thomas Durant sees first hand the death of someone very close to him. He finally saw for himself the impact of his schemes. It was clear from that moment on that he was not the same man anymore. Colm Meaney’s handling of the moment made that traumatic moment so powerful. He didn’t try to ham it up and scream, “nooooo” or anything else. He merely had to look at what had happened to fully display the impact that the moment had on him. His narration of the events leading to the moment, so calm yet clearly so hurt, added to the moment’s emotion. Meaney handled it all with such expertise. As devious as Durant had been throughout, this one moment actually will lead audiences to feel some level of sympathy for him. Again, that is thanks to Meaney’s handling of the situation. He is to be so highly applauded for his work here. Fellow star Anson Mount is to be just as applauded for his display as he handles his own emotional struggles. For so long throughout this series, Cullen has proven to be a rock solid figure in terms of his emotions. But here in these final episodes, that façade finally begins to crack as he is forced to make some very difficult decisions. One of the most intriguing of those moments comes as he encounters a Native American at a stream. The pair stares one another down, waiting to see what the other will do. It is a short moment, but when one looks back, it explains why Cullen told Grant he wasn’t an indian killer. The defiance in his voice as he makes that clear to Grant makes so much more sense when one considers that moment. There were no words, only actions and emoting. Yet it was such a powerful moment. Both Mount and his co-star shined brightly in that simple moment, showing once more than importance of the cast’s work to these episodes’ presentation. As with the work of the show’s writers, there are so many other moments that could be cited in explaining the importance of the cast’s work. But that would take far too much time and space. So, again, audiences will find plenty of other examples when they purchase or order Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 for themselves. Keeping this in mind, the work of the series’ writers and cast are obviously both important to the episodes’ presentation here. They are just two of the series’ most important elements. The bonus material included in the episodes’ recent home release is just as important to note in their presentation as the writing and acting behind each episode.
The work of Hell on Wheels’ writers and cast are both pivotal to the series’ continued entertainment in its final episodes. The writers managed to wrap up the show’s leftover loose ends relatively well and keep audiences entertained and engaged in the process. The cast did just as much to entertain audiences as evidenced through the work of Colm Meaney and Anson Mount (and their cast mates). While the work of the series’ cast and writers is undeniably important to the presentation of its final episodes, they are just two of the elements that make this collection’s presentation enjoyable. The bonus material that is included with the collection is just as important to note as the writing and acting in these episodes. As with each of the series’ previous installments each episode is coupled with its own “Inside the Episode” audio commentary. Needless to say, that commentary is not to be missed. The other bonus material is less extensive. But it does a good job bringing everything full circle. “Golden Spike” is the shortest of the bonuses. It last all of perhaps a couple of minutes, if that. But audiences learn through this little piece that the golden spike was very real. They also learn that allegedly every telegraph in the country was silenced on the day that the golden spike was hammered into the transcontinental railroad. That was so that when the message was delivered—by the strike of the hammer—every person in the country would know that was the moment when the spike was being driven. That is something that generally isn’t taught in history classes at any level, so it is interesting to learn. “Wrap Up” and “A Look At The Final Episodes” are both interesting in their own way as they offer the cast and crew the chance to comment on the importance of the episodes’ stories as well as working on the final episodes. Viewers will be most intrigued to learn of Anson Mount’s connection to Cullen as he discusses topics such as Cullen having to kill and bury Elam, who had become such a friend to Cullen. Robin McLeavy also gets the chance to discuss Eva’s personal growth from the series’ opening to the final episode. This discussion is just as important to take in because it reminds audiences that while Eva might not have been one of the series’ marquee characters, she was still very integral to its development in her own right. It’s just one more discussion that exhibits the importance of this collection’s bonus material. There are so many other discussions both in the shorter features and the episode-length commentaries that add their own depth to the collection. When they are joined with the discussions noted here, the whole of that bonus material proves to be just as important to the collection as the episodes and their content. When all three elements are combined, they make clear why Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting final farewell for what is one of the best serials to come along in a long time.
Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is a fitting farewell for a series that is one of the best serials to come along in a long time. Considering how many serials are out there today versus standalone series, that is saying a lot. From day one, this series has proven to be a serial actually worth watching. This collection is no different. It shows just as much why the series is worth the watch whether one is a fan of dramas or a western fan. That is evidenced primarily through the work of the series’ writers. Even with perhaps one or two minor slip-ups here and there, the writers succeeded by and large in these final episodes. The cast was just as entertaining as ever, too. The bonus material that accompanies the work of the series’ cast and writers rounds everything out. That is because it brings everything full circle all while keeping audiences just as engaged as ever. Each element is important in its own right to the collection. All things considered, Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 proves, again, to be a fitting farewell to a rare serial that is actually worth watching. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Hell on Wheels: Season 5 – Volume 2 is available online now along with more information on Hell on Wheels at:
This Saturday, AMC’s hit western serial Hell on Wheels returns for its fifth and final season. For those that perhaps might have missed out on the events of the hit drama’s fourth season and who in turn don’t want to spoil things for themselves, AMC and eOne have announced that those fans won’t have to wait much longer for Season Four to hit store shelves out online outlets.
AMC and eOne have announced that Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, August 11th. Hell on Wheels’ fourth season picks up right where Season Three left off. Audiences find Cullen marrying the now pregnant Naomi and having to live in the Mormon fort where she and other Mormons currently live. Making things even more tense is the fact that The Swede (Christopher Heyerdahl) is there, pretending to be the church leader Bishop Dutson. Thomas Durant (Colm Meaney) is back in charge of the Union Pacific Railroad, which had succeeded in its western expansion, making it all the way to Cheyenne. Elam (Common) has recovered from the injuries sustained in a bear attack at the end of Season Three, which happened as Elam had been searching for Cullen. Season Four sees the fallout from all of these events and more as the railroad continues its expansion. Audiences can check out a trailer for Season Four’s upcoming home release online now via Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/118781754.
Along with its gripping story lines, Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season also boasts a handful of bonuses for fans including: a behind the scenes look at Season Four, an introduction to the new characters introduced in Season Four, episode specific featurettes, and much more. The complete list of bonuses featured in Hell on Wheels: The Complete Fourth Season is listed below.
A Look at Season 4
The New Characters of Season 4
Cheyenne Set Tour
Anson Mount Retrospective
On the Set with Colm Meaney
On the Set with Jake Weber
As the days count down to the premiere of Hell on Wheels’ final season and the home release of Season Four, audiences can keep up with all of the latest from the show online at:
The days are officially ticking away to the end of another year. That means that all of the critics out there are now putting out their annual “Best Of” lists. This critic is still working on some of those lists while others are official. The jury’s still out on some right now such as the year’s Best New Documentaries, Independent Movies, Re-Issues, and Best New Movies overall. The lists for all the new music are still in the works, too. So while those lists are being completed, Phil’s Picks offers to everyone to start off the year, a look at the Top 10 Best New Box Sets for Grown-Ups. This year’s list is capped by a box set featuring the entire 2014 World Series, courtesy of Lionsgate, A&E Home Video, and MLB Productions. Also on this year’s list are some blasts from the past and some imports from our neighbors across the pond, and one surprise entry in the Honorable Mention list. The box sets’ packaging, bonus material and more were collectively taken into account in building this (and the other lists to come). Only 15 titles total could make the list. So there were some that didn’t make the list such as the sixth and seventh seasons of Star Trek The Next Generation on Blu-ray or the full six-season run of Ancient Aliens among others. It goes without saying that this was not an easy list to build. But it feels right. So without further ado, here is the list of 2014’s Top 10 New Box Sets For Grown-Ups.
2014 Best New Box Sets For Grown-Ups
1. 2014 MLB World Series Collector’s Edition
2. Endeavour: Series 2
3. Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series
4. The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crackups
5. The Dean Martin Show: Fully Roasted
6. The Roosevelts
7. Inspector Lewis: Series 7
8. Psych: The Complete Series
9. Secret Agent (A.K.A. Danger Man): The Complete Series
10. The Wonder Years: Season 1
11. The Red Skelton Show: The Early Years–1951 – 1955
12. The Almighty Johnsons: Season 1
13. Hell on Wheels: Season 3
14. The Definitive WWI & WWII Collection
15. I Love Lucy: Ultimate Season 1 (BD Re-Issue)
Tomorrow, Phil’s Picks looks into the list of the year’s best new box sets for Children and Families. Stay tuned! 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.