Hannah Williams & The Affirmations’ New LP Towers Over Its Counterparts In Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Albums List

Courtesy: Record Kicks

As the year finally winds down its final days, the attention for many companies turns to the new year and the new crop of records already planned for the first quarter of the year.  As attentions turn to thew new year and its new albums, attention should also remain on the current year’s albums.  This year produced so many standout records from across the musical universe.  From rock and hard rock to pop to neo-soul and more, the offerings presented to audiences were many to say the very least.  Keeping that in mind, any critic will agree assembling the list of the year’s top new albums overall is a chore, but one that must happen.  This year’s top new albums are mainstream and independent alike, at least on this critic’s list.

Hannah Williams & The Affirmations easily made their way onto this critic’s final musical year-ender list with their new album 50 Foot Woman as did Slipknot, Sara Potenza and even Joel Ross.  Again, this list was anything but easy to assemble, but it did finally come together.  It is presented here complete with five honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. Hannah Williams & The Affirmations — 50 Foot Woman
  2. Devin Townsend — Empath
  3. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  4. Joel Ross — Kingmaker
  5. Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis — Jazz & Art
  6. Lakou Mizik — HaitiaNola
  7. Diana Panton — Cheerful Little Earful
  8. Am I Dead Yet? — Am I Dead Yet?
  9. Carlos Santana — Africa Speaks
  10. The Magpie Salute — Highwater II
  11. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Signs
  12. The Sh-Booms — The Blurred Odyssey
  13. Sara Potenza — Sara Potenza
  14. Wargirl — Wargirl
  15. Hootie & The Blowfish — Imperfect Circle

 

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Devin Townsend’s ‘Empath’ Gives The Best Feeling For Audiences In This Year’s New Hard Rock/Metal Field

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

This year is one of the strongest in recent memory for metal masses around the world.  This year saw new releases — powerful new releases at that — from some of the most well-known and respected names in the metal community.  Slipknot’s new album We Are Not Your Kind is just one of those important new releases that the metal masses received this year.  Amon Amarth’s new album Berserker gave the masses just as much to appreciate, as did new albums from Dragonforce, Killswitch Engage and The Offering.

Between those records and so many others, it goes without saying that developing a list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums was anything but easy.  That’s especially the case considering the release early this year, of Devin Townsend’s new album Empath, Hyvmine’s new LP Retaliation and up-and-comers Alien Weaponry’s debut album Tu.  This critic took a long time trying to assemble this list.  It was not a chore taken lightly.  As with other lists from this critic, it features the Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal albums as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2019 Top 10 New Hard Rock/Metal Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW HARD ROCK/METAL ALBUMS

  1. Devin Townsend — Empath
  2. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
  3. Amon Amarth — Berserker
  4. Overkill — The Wings of War
  5. The Offering — Home
  6. Bad Blood — Bad Blood
  7. Whitechapel — The Valley
  8. Hyvmine — Retaliation
  9. Dragonforce — Extreme Power Metal
  10. Of Mice & Men — EARTHANDSKY
  11. Dream Theater — Distance Over Time
  12. Killswitch Engage — Atonement
  13. Awake At Last — The Change
  14. Corroded — Bitter
  15. Alien Weaponry — Tu

 

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Devin Townsend Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: InsideOut MUsic

Devin Townsend announced a new string of live dates this week.

The tour, in support of Townsend’s latest album Empath is scheduled to open Feb. 27 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and to run through March 26 in San Francisco, CA.  It features performances in cities, such as Charlotte, NC; Baltimore, MD and Houston, TX.

The tour’s full schedule is noted below.  Haken and The Contortionist will serve as support for the tour.  Tickets for the tour are on sale now here.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES:
Feb 27 – Phoenix Concert Theatre – Toronto, ON
Feb 28 – Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC
Feb 29 – Warsaw – Brooklyn, NY
Mar 01 -Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA
Mar 02 – Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA
Mar 05 – The Underground – Charlotte, NC
Mar 06 – Center Stage – Atlanta, GA
Mar 07 – The Plaza Live – Orlando, FL
Mar 09 – Warehouse Live – Houston, TX
Mar 10 – Granada Theater – Dallas, TX
Mar 12 – Cannery Ballroom – Nashville, TN
Mar 13 – The Crofoot Ballroom – Pontiac, MI
Mar 14 – Metro – Chicago, IL
Mar 15 – House of Blues – Cleveland, OH
Mar 16 – Rams Head Live – Baltimore, MD
Mar 19 – First Avenue – Minneapolis, MN
Mar 20 – Granada Theater – Lawrence, KS
Mar 21 – The Oriental Theater – Denver, CO
Mar 23 – The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ
Mar 24 – The Mayan – Los Angeles, CA
Mar 25 – The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA

Empath has produced the singles ‘Genesis,’ ‘Spirits Will Collide,’ ‘Evermore,’ and ‘Why‘ since its release in March.

More information on Devin Townsend’s upcoming live dates is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

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

‘Empath’ Is Another Solid Display Of Townsend’s Musical Genius

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend is a mad musical scientist in the best possible way. Next to Nine Inch Nails founder and front man Trent Reznor, Townsend is one of the most innovative and creative minds in the musical industry today, and his new album Empath proves that once again without a doubt. It is a record whose depth crosses musical and lyrical bounds from beginning to end. Each song is completely unlike the others, at some points sounding like something that belongs on a grand movie soundtrack, such as in ‘Requiem’ and at others like something that belongs in a stage musical, such as with ‘Why.’  At yet another point, it presents a sound that it just uniquely Devin Townsend, as with ‘Castaway/Genesis’.  These three songs are just a few examples of the genius that is on display once again from Devin Townsend on his latest album.  When they are considrered alongside the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole becomes a work that is without doubt, one of this year’s top new hard rock albums and best albums overall.

Devin Townsend’s latest solo recording Empath is one of this year’s most powerful – both musically and lyrically – albums.  It is a work that clearly displays Townsend’s musical genius from beginning to end, with works that are as diverse from one another as they are from anything that Townsend has ever crafted.  One of the most notable of this record’s works is the soaring instrumental work ‘Requiem.’  By definition, a requiem is a musical work performed for the dead.  In many cases, such works are vey somber and melancholy.  Yet here, the arrangement comes across as something filled more with wonder and awe.  The combined choral element and orchestral instrumentation makes the song sound more like it belongs on a science fiction movie, such as E.T. or Star Trek than maybe the full on drama that is Amadeus.  At the same time, knowing the overarching vibe of Empath both musically and lyrically, one can assume that maybe, what Townsend was trying to present here was a song that was more celebratory of a person’s life than something more morose.  All of the songs featured in this record present a theme of an empath, someone who experiences the emotions of others.  Listening to the choral element, there is a certain positive feeling.  That coupled with the more playful, orchestral element leaves one considering that maybe, just maybe this is what Townsend was trying to present – a remembrance, but not in negative fashion, but in positive fashion; people celebrating someone instead of mourning that individual.  This is of course all speculative and could be completely off the mark.  It is just this critic’s own take on the arrangement.  That aside, what Townsend has crafted in this two-minute, 47-second song is a work that once again puts on display a level of talent in terms of composing, that is above and beyond so many of today’s mainstream composers.  Listening to this work, it honestly makes one wonder what a partnership between Townsend and famed composer John Williams would produce. Moving on, ‘Requiem’ is just one of the songs that shows what makes Empath another powerful addition to Devin Townsend’s catalog.  ‘Why’ is another example of what makes this record so impressive.

‘Why’ stands out in part because of its arrangement.  The song’s arrangement this time, comes across as a composition that sounds and feels as if it belongs on a major Broadway stage score.  That sense is established right from the song’s outset, which features a strongly accented string arrangement alongside Townsend’s wonderfully controlled operatic style singing.  The addition of the castanets and cymbals adds even more to that sense. One can almost see the various camera angles, fog machines and lighting that would go along with this moment.  That is how much this song feels like it belongs as part of a major Broadway musical.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more to that sense.

Townsend sings in the song’s lead verse, “Darling, are you feeling alright?/And all our friends are/All our friends are watching us/I wanna go home/But why run away/Why?, Why? Why?”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Darling, are you seeing inside?/The wolves are alive/And all our faith is/All our faith is wrong.”  The second subject responds, screaming, “LET ME GO HOME!” before the lead asks again, “But why run away/Why? Why? Why?”  This call and response, with the seemingly existential discussion, makes for quite the interesting presentation.  That is, again, especially interesting considering how it adds to that feel of a scene from a stage play.  Taking such a musical and lyrical approach is original and creative to say the very least.  That creativity makes the song stand out quite strongly.  In turn, it serves to show even more why this album stands out as one of this year’s top new albums.  It is not the last of the songs that serves that purpose, either.  The combination that is ‘Castaway’/ ‘Genesis’ does just as much to make the album stand out as the other songs noted here and the rest of the record’s works.

‘Castaway’/ ‘Genesis’ stands out collectively in part because of its arrangement.  This song’s overall arrangement shows great time and thought was put into its completion.  The arrangement’s heavier moments are expertly balanced with its lighter moments, ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment throughout the song.  There are heavy, death metal style moments contrasted by much lighter, more ethereal moments.  Those moments are, at times, contrasted by more progressive moments and even some far deeper moments.  The whole becomes an arrangement that shows Townsend’s ability to break the bounds and expectations set by critics and listeners alike, and succeed very well in the process.  It makes the arrangement in itself its own success and just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content creates its own interest.

Townsend reminds listeners at one point in the song, “All the world is in this together/Feel no fear/We’re fearless together…because you’re so in love with this island of the mind/know that this island is home/You’ve got to get on your feet again (Genesis)/Get on your feet again.”  He adds later, “When we’re apart, we fall/Together, we feed the world.”  This works directly with the song’s chorus in which Townsend sings, “Let us being to live again.”  Simply put he is telling listeners that we as a people need to start over and come together.  It would make sense, as he sings, “From the top to the bottom/Genesis.”  That is saying, start over completely and live together.  Such statement, together with the song’s musical arrangement makes the song in whole another powerful work in its own right and one more example of what makes Empath another equally powerful success in whole from Devin Townsend.

Devin Townsend’s latest full-length studio recording Empath is one of the most important rock records to be released so far this year.  That is because it shows that whether with his Devin Townsend Project cohorts or on his own (as in this record), he is one of the greatest minds in the music industry today.  His creativity and originality is on full display from beginning to end.  The songs noted here are just a sampling of that creativity and originality.  The remainder of the record’s body does just as much to exhibit that talent.  All things considered, Empath proves to be one of this year’s best new hard rock & metal albums and just as easily, one of the year’s best new albums overall.  Empath is available now.  More information on Empath is available online along with all of Devin Townsend’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.devintownsend.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

 

 

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Devin Townsend Announces New Album Release Date

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Devin Townsend will release his next album in March.

The veteran guitarist is scheduled to release his new album Empath on March 29 via InsideOut Music.  As the album’s release date nears, Townsend will offer discussions on the record.  The first of those discussions is streaming online now here.

Frank Zappa alumni Mike Keneally joined Townsend as music director on Empath.  Also taking part in the album’s creation were Morgan Agren (Mats and Morgan, Frank Zappa, Fredrik Thordendal), Anup Sastry (Monuments, Periphery), Samus Paulicelli (Decrepit Birth, Abigail Williams), Nathan Navarro, Elliot Desagnes, Steve Vai, Chad Kroeger, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Che Aimee Dorval, and Ryan Dhale and the Elektra Women’s Choir.

Empath will be released on limited edition 2CD Digipack (whose second disc features bonus material), single-disc, Gatefold 180-gram 2LP vinyl + CD  + LP booklet as digital album.  The album’s track listing is noted below.

Townsend will perform a series of “An Evening With” shows  across Europe throughout March and April in support of Empath.  Many of the shows are already sold out.  Remaining tickets for the shows not yet sold out can be purchased here.  The performance schedule is noted below.

The full list of dates are as follows, many of which are already sold out:
7th March – The Piano Man Jazz Club, New Delhi, India SOLD OUT
8th March – Levi’s Lounge, Mumbai, India SOLD OUT
29th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
30th March – Savoy Theater, Helsinki, Finland SOLD OUT
31st March – Sodra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden SOLD OUT
1st April – Edderkoppen, Oslo, Norway SOLD OUT
2nd April – Bremen Theater, Copenhagen, Denmark
4th April – PassionKirchhe, Berlin, Germany
5th April – Stodola, Warsaw, Poland
6th April – La Fabrica, Prague, Czech Republic SOLD OUT
7th April – Freiheiz, Munich, Germany SOLD OUT
9th April – Kulturkirche, Cologne, Germany SOLD OUT
10th April – Grunspan, Hamburg, Germany
11th April – Bravo Kerk, Haarlem, Netherlands SOLD OUT
13th April – Reading 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
24th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
25th April – Bush Hall, London, UK SOLD OUT
26th April – St George’s, Bristol, UK SOLD OUT
27th April – City Varieties, Leeds, UK SOLD OUT
29th April – Jam House, Edinburgh, UK SOLD OUT
30th April – Glee Club, Birmingham, UK SOLD OUT

More information on Devin Townsend’s new album, tour dates and more is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.hevydevy.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/dvntownsend

 

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.

Viking Metallers Amon Amarth Are Victorious In Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays List

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

As the final few days of 2018 wind down, there is still some work to be done by critics putting in their year-ender lists.  That includes this critic.

This critic’s most recent year-ender focused on the year’s top new live CDs.  In a gradual transition to movies and television, there is still one more music list to present — the year’s top new live DVDs/BDs.  As has been noted previously, there are some live recordings that translate in  relatively acceptable fashion, but there are also others that can and should only be experienced with the full audio-visual experience.

Keeping this in mind, it is only fair to examine the year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  Topping this year’s list is Amon Amarth’s The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm.  There is nothing negative to say about this presentation.  The extensive documentary outlines the band’s career from the band’s own mouths, showing the group as a hard-working, blue-collar outfit that has earned its place in the metal and music communities.  The equally expansive two-night, 30-song set pulls from almost every one of the band’s albums.  The performance is great, as are the production values.

Second Place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live DVDs/BDs goes to Devin Townsend Project’s Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv.  This performance features Townsend performing Ocean Machine live in its entirety along with an equally extensive by-request set.  That combination makes for a great set list.  As with Amon Amarth’s live recording, the group’s performance ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment, even at home.  The same can be said of the production values.  The whole makes the recording yet another that is best experienced with the full audio-visual presentation versus just the audio alone.

Third Place in this year’s list of the top new live DVDs and Blu-rays goes to The Rolling Stones’ San Jose, California ’99 show from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The recording is everything that audiences have come to expect from one of the elite of the elite acts in the music industry today.  The extensive 20-song set list doesn’t play it safe, instead giving audiences material that is less common in the band’s previous live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The group’s performance (including that of the touring musicians) couples with the production values to make the performance yet another must have for any true fan of The Rolling Stones.

Also featured in this year’s list are the new live recordings from Anthrax, The Robert Glasper Experiment and Opeth, just to name a few more acts.  As always, the first 10 titles in the last are the best, while the next five are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Live DVDs & Blu-rays.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDS & BLU-RAYS

  1. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  2. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  3. The Rolling Stones — No Security: San Jose ’99
  4. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  5. Accept — Symphonic Terror
  6. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks
  7. Anthrax — Kings Among Scotland
  8. The Sound of Music Live
  9. Steven Wilson — Home Invasion Live at the Royal Albert Theatre
  10. Norah Jones — Live at Ronnie Scott’s
  11. Tommy Shaw & The Contemporary Youth Orchestra — Sing For The Day!
  12. The Moody Blues — Days of Future Passed Live
  13. Overkill — Live in Overhausen
  14. Robet Glasper Experiment — Live
  15. Lacuna Coil — The 119 Show Live in London

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Eagle Rock’s Mingus Montreux Show Shines In Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top New Live CDs List

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Going to live shows is neither easy nor inexpensive nowadays.  Between the collective cost of tickets — which is itself oftentimes bank-breaking — transportation, food, potential lodging and souvenirs, and of course planning around work and family schedules, getting out to live shows is not easy for anyone.

Those barriers make the availability of live recordings something critical for audiences everywhere, regardless of genre.  To that end, live CDs deserve their own consideration just as much as studio recordings, each year.  Keeping that in mind, Phil’s Picks has developed once again a list of the year’s Top 10 new live CDs.

This year has been an interesting one for live CDs.  Some notable live CDs were featured as part of bigger bundles (E.G. The Rolling Stones’ San Jose ’99 and Voodoo Lounge ’94 shows) while others, such as Alice Cooper’s A Paranormal Night @ The Olympia Paris and Marty Friedman’s One Bad M.F. Live were standalone offerings.

Some were standout offerings for all of the best reasons.  Others had some problems to note.  Keeping all of this in mind, this year’s crop of live CDs deserves just as much attention as the vast sea of studio recordings released throughout the year.

Topping this year’s list is yet another live CD from the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment in the form of Charles Mingus’ classic 1975 Montreux Jazz Festival show.  This recording presents Mingus at one of his finest moments, and why his live performances were — and still are today — such powerful presentations.

Coming in second in this year’s list is the new Jimi Hendrix live CD, Live at the Hollywood Bowl.  This CD was released as part of the bigger Electric Ladyland box set, and stands out so strongly because of its set list, Hendrix and company’s performance and the production values.

Third place in this year’s list of the year’s best new live CDs goes to veteran viking metal outfit Amon Amarth.  The 30-song set list spans two nights and quite an expansive portion of the band’s catalog.  That set list is directly mirrored on its DVD and BD presentation, and sounds just as good.  Though because of the intensity of the show, it is still better appreciated being seen and heard and not just heard.  That’s not to say the CD presentation is bad, but audiences will agree that hearing it makes for far more appreciation for the concerts’ DVD and BD presentations.

Also featured in this year’s list of top new live CDs are those noted new offerings from Marty Friedman, Alice Cooper and The Rolling Stones alongside new offerings from Opeth, Devin Townsend and John 5 to name just a few more titles.  As always, this critic’s list features 10 of the year’s top new offerings plus five honorable mentions, which follow, for a total count of 15.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 new Live CDs.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW LIVE CDs

  1. Charles Mingus — Live at Montreux 1975
  2. Jimi Hendrix — Live at the Hollywood BowlAug. 14, 1968
  3. Amon Amarth — The Pursuit of Vikings25 Years in the Eye of the Storm
  4. Devin Townsend Project — Ocean MachineLive at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv
  5. Opeth — Garden of the TitansLive at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
  6. The Rolling Stones — No SecuritySan Jose ’99
  7. The Rolling Stones — Voodoo Lounge Uncut
  8. John Mclaughlin & The 4th Dimension and Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip — Live in San Francisco
  9. Marty Friedman — One Bad M.F. Live
  10. Accept — Symphonic TerrorLive at Wacken 2017
  11. Alice Cooper — A Paranormal Night at The Olympia Paris
  12. Fates Warning — Live Over Europe
  13. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow — Memories in Rock II
  14. John 5 and The Creatures — It’s Alive
  15. Overkill — Live in Overhausen