RATM’s Second Coming Will Hopefully Continue In The Coming Years

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The end is near!  The end of the year that is.  The end of 2017 is only 48 hours away at the time of this post.  With time quickly ticking away, there is still a lot of work for this critic to do with year-ender lists.  Considering this, we’ll get right into it with one last list for the year’s new albums in the form of the year’s top new albums overall.  This list was perhaps the most difficult of all for this critic to assemble.  That is because of the amount of top quality material released across the musical universe this year.  From punk to pop to jazz, world, rock and more, there were a lot of great records released over the past year.  Keeping this in mind, coming up with this was no easy chore, to say the least.  It was finally accomplished, though, and includes titles from the worlds of rocks, jazz, country and even world music.

Leading off this year’s best new album — in this critic’s ears and mind — is Ala.Ni’s debut album You & I.  This record is a beautiful work that despite being marketed as jazz, could just as easily fit into any adult contemporary pop radio station’s rotation.  Also included in this year’s finale are new releases from country music superstar Chris Stapleton, New Orleans-based singer/songwriter Marc Broussard, emo-punk band Young Fox’s new album and much more.

As with every previous list, this list features this critic’s Top 10 choices as well as five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for you is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. Prophets of Rage — Prophets of Rage
  2. Ala.Ni — You & I
  3. Jazzmeia Horn — A Social Call
  4. Diana Panton — Solstice/Equinox
  5. Fer Isella — Art of the Possible
  6. Nova Collective — The Further Side
  7. Scale The Summit — In A World of Fear
  8. Mike Mangioni & The Kin — But I’ve Seen The Stars
  9. John 5 & The Creatures — Season of the Witch
  10. Dishwalla — Juniper Road
  11. Project 86 — Sheep Among Wolves
  12. Chris Stapleton — From A Room Vol. 2
  13. Young Fox — Sky Beats Gold
  14. Gary Numan — Savage (Songs From A Broken World)
  15. Marc Broussard — Easy To Love

That’s it, folks.  As noted, this was not an easy list to assemble by any means.  Trying to determine which albums likely would have a certain amount of longevity through through musical and lyrical messages was a tough task.  One cannot ignore the fact that what with the nation’s current political climate, the second coming of Rage Against The Machine was one of this year’s most important and standout efforts.  In the same breath, the gentility and beauty offered by Ala.Ni, Jazzmeia Horn and Diana Panton makes their albums certain to stay in peoples’ minds and ears.  Fer Isella’s new album, while instrumental is like the soundtrack to any major Hollywood drama such as Bridges of Madison County and other similar movies.

The jazz fusion feel of Nova Collective’s debut record and the prog rock of Scale The Summit’s latest record stand out just as much.  Mike Mangioni & The Kin may stay under the radar, but that’s just fine with this critic.  The group’s new album is a great independent offering.  Dishwalla’s new album is a wonderful return for the band while John 5 & the Creatures’ new album is yet another example of how truly talented the guitarist truly is and that he made the right decision leaving Marilyn Manson’s band.

It is easy to go on and on about every album noted here.  Regardless of the band’s fame, the fact of the matter stands that each album listed here is one that this critic feels is impacting and important for the given act and for the music community in whole.  That being the case, this list stands as this critic’s best new albums of 2017.  Now with all of the music stuff out of the way, it’s on to a handful of DVD/BD titles including best new box sets for families and for grown-ups, best new DVDs/BDs for families, and even best new documentaries.  So stay tuned for all of that!

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Ala.Ni’s Debut LP Proves To Be A Solid Offering On Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Jazz & Blues Albums List

Courtesy: Missing Piece Records

2017 has been a good year fans of jazz and the blues.  From more established acts such as Diana Krall, Charlie Watts, Trombone Shorty and Diana Panton to new yet equally promising acts such as Ala.Ni, Nova Collective and others, both genres, which despite their musical differences are still related to one another, have turned out a mass of enjoyable (and in some cases surprisingly) impressive albums.  Ala.Ni’s debut album You & I is one of those surprising releases.  It also tops this critic’s list of the year’s top new Jazz & Blues albums.  Also on this year’s list is Argentine musician Fer Isella’s latest LP The Art of The Possible, new offerings from Putumayo and Music Action Ensemble’s new album Foundation among others.

This year was not an easy one to choose top records.  Charlie Watts, who is known just as much for his jazz work as for his work with his band mates in The Rolling Stones, released quite the impressive new offering this year in Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band. Taj Mahal and Keb Mo partnered for the simply titled TajMo.  Even veteran blues man John Mayall is still going strong.  He released his new album Talk About That this year, too.  Back on the jazz side, Charles Lloyd and his new group of fellow musicians released their own standout offering in the form of Passin’ Thru.  Even here, there is so much to say.  Simply put, coming up with a final list for this year’s new jazz and blues albums was not easy because of the level of talent exhibited across the board.  So no dishonor was meant to any act on this year’s list.   

As is the case with each Phil’s Picks list, this list features the Top 10 Albums on the list and five additional honorable mention titles.  Enough rambling.  Without any further ado, here for you is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Jazz & Blues Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ & BLUES ALBUMS

  1. Ala.Ni — You & I
  2. Jazzmeia Horn — A Social Call
  3. Diana Panton — Solstice/Equinox
  4. Charlie Watts — Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band
  5. Taj Mahal & Keb Mo — TajMo
  6. Charles Lloyd New Quartet — Passin’ Thru
  7. Diana Krall — Turn Up The Quiet
  8. Charnett Moffett — Music From Our Soul
  9. Fer Isella — The Art of the Possible
  10. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band — Lay It On Down
  11. Courtney Pine — Black Notes From The Deep
  12. Trombone Shorty — Parking Lot Symphony
  13. Music Action Ensemble — Foundation
  14. John Mayall — Talk About That
  15. Jimmy Greene — FlowersBeautiful Life, Vol. 2

Again, this was NOT an easy list to assemble.  This critic still feels rough coming to terms with the list.  That is because so many great jazz and blues records were released this year including new material from Elvin Bishop and so many others.  Even with that in mind, the list noted here is this critic’s final choice for this year’s top new jazz and blues albums.  Now with this list completed, there is still plenty more to go including the year’s top new Rap/Hip-hop albums, reggae albums, rock and hard rock albums as well as the year’s top albums overall.  There are also a bunch of categories for DVDs and Blu-rays including box sets for families and for older audiences, new live DVDs and Blu-rays, etc.  So stay tuned!

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Jazz Aficionados Across The Board Will Enjoy Panton’s Latest LP Across The Seasons

Courtesy: Waldmania PR

Diana Panton is one of the best kept secrets of the jazz community.  Over the course of her now twelve-year career, she has crafted songs (and albums) that have entertained children and adults alike around the nation and the world.  Now early next month, she will continue that success when she releases her latest album Solstice/Equinox.  Scheduled to be released Friday, Nov. 3, Panton’s latest full-length studio recording, which sets the themes of life and love against the changing seasons (this the title), is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one more of the year’s top new albums overall.  That is evident right from the album’s outset in ‘They Say It’s Spring.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘September in Rain,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another example of what makes Solstice/Equinox such a stunning jazz album and will be discussed later.  The album’s gentle closer ‘By The Fireside’ is one more example of what makes this eighth offering from Panton such an impressive new effort.  Between that song, the others noted and those not noted, the whole of this album proves both musically and lyrically to be an album that audiences will enjoy the whole year through.

Diana Panton’s eighth full-length studio recording Solstice/Equinox is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.  It is a record that jazz aficionados will enjoy the whole year through.  That is proven right from the album’s outset in ‘They Say It’s Spring.’  Musically speaking, this song is a wonderful first statement from Panton this time out.  Its light, bouncy approach complete with soprano sax and guitar couples with Panton’s gentle vocal delivery to conjure thoughts of Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, and to a slightly lesser extent, Yellowjackets.  That light, easygoing arrangement couples perfectly with the song’s equally upbeat lyrical content to make the song even more of a solid start for the album.

Panton sings happily here “They say it’s spring/This feeling light as a feather/They say this thing/This magic we share together/Came with the weather, too/They say it’s May/That may be daft as a daisy/It’s May they say/That gave the whole world this crazy/Heaveny, hazy hue/On a lark/On a wing/On the spark of a firefly’s fling/yet to me/This must be more than a seasonal thing/Could it be spring/Those bells that I can hear ringing/It may be spring/But when the robin starts singing/You’re what I’m clinging to/Though they say it’s spring/It’s you.”  These are the words of someone happy and warm not just from the weather but from positive thoughts of life.  It is truly an uplifting statement that when coupled, again, with the song’s equally light arrangement, is certain to make any listener feel just as happy as Panton.  Keeping this in mind, it is just one of the songs that exemplifies what makes Solstice/Equinox another hugely successful effort from Panton.  ‘September in Rain’ is another example of what makes Solstice/Equinox so enjoyable.

‘September in Rain’ is another impressive addition to Panton’s new album thanks in part to its own musical arrangement.  The gentle piano runs, drums and vibraphone that collectively form the arrangement’s foundation instantly conjure thoughts of the greatest works from Lionel Hampton and his band crafted so many years ago.  Yet again, the addition of Panton’s vocal delivery to that arrangement gives jazz aficionados the best of jazz’s past and present in one neat package.  In listening to the song’s arrangement, one must agree how expertly it mirrors the still light feeling felt in early September as summer gently gives way to fall.  Once again, that light energy is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face as it creates thoughts of someone walking along in the rain as the sunlight tries to peer through the clouds on the back-end of a light shower.  Again, it is only one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own touch to the whole.

Panton sings here, alongside that upbeat musical arrangement, “The leaves of brown came tumbling down/Remember/In September/In the rain/the sun went out just like a dying ember/That September/In the rain/To every word of love I heard you whisper/the raindrops seem to play our sweet refrain/Though spring is here, to me it’s September/That September in the rain.”  This is only the song’s lead verse, but it leaves no doubt why the song’s subject (and arrangement) are so upbeat.  This is someone having that happy memory of when love first set in, making the rains of September something more positive than negative.  In all honesty, the visual that the combination of this verse and its musical companion creates in the theater of the mind plays out like something from a Hallmark movie.  That is not bad.  But it shows how easily with its simplicity that the whole of those elements creates such a positive and vivid picture.  Panton goes on to sing in the song’s second verse in French, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that even without an English interpretation, the happiness in the verse.  Keeping that in mind, the positive energy in the song’s lyrical is just as prevalent here as in the song’s lead verse.  When the song’s lyrical content is coupled with the song’s equally light and airy musical arrangement, the whole of the elements show completely why this song is another key addition to Panton’s new album.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable additions.  The album’s finale, ‘By The Fireside’ is one more example of what makes Solstice/Equinox deserving of applause.

‘By The Fireside’ is just as solid a finale for Panton’s new album as ‘They Say It’s Spring’ is an opener.  It stands out starkly (in the best way possible) from its counterparts because of its own gentle arrangement.  The very title creates thoughts of a couple sitting together…well…by the fireside on a cold winter’s day (or maybe even evening).  As with ‘September in Rain,’ the use of the vibraphone and the piano once again conjures thoughts of so many great works from Lionel Hampton and company.  They collectively do plenty on their own to create the vivid image of two people together on a cold winter’s night in front of a blazing fireplace.  The song’s lyrical content enriches that image even more as Panton sings, “In the glow/By the fireside/With you/I’ll be content/In the glow/By the fireside/Every hour will be well-spent/We’ll see our hopes and dreams, dear/Like pictures in the fire/Finding…our heart’s desire.”  She goes on just as gently alongside her fellow musicians throughout the rest of the song.  Needless to say, the dreamy situation created by her own words and by the song’s musical arrangement is the stuff – again – of Hallmark movies, ensuring its enjoyment by Panton’s key audiences.  Even with that in mind, it does not detract from the song by any means.  It only makes it stand out that much more along with the album in whole.  When the romantic mood set by this song is joined with the varying moods exhibited musically and lyrically throughout the rest of the album, the whole of those moods makes the record in whole a sure hit for jazz aficionados across the board throughout the seasons.

From start to finish, Diana Panton’s latest full-length studio recording Solstice/equinox proves to be a record that will appeal to jazz aficionados across the board throughout each season.  That has already been pointed out in the songs noted above.  Those songs are only a snapshot of what makes this album so enjoyable.  The musical and lyrical moods exhibited throughout the album change throughout.  From the somewhat melancholy of ‘Cloudy Morning,’ to the bittersweet vibe of ‘La Fin Des Vacances’ (the end of the vacation in English) to the smooth sense of ‘’Tis Autumn,’ and beyond, Solstice/Equinox takes listeners on a journey that is enjoyable in every moment.  By the time the album ends, listeners will agree that there is so much to appreciate about this record.  In turn they will agree (hopefully) that Solstice/Equinox is one of this year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one more of the year’s top new albums overall.  It will be released Friday, Nov. 3 in stores and online.  More information on Solstice/equinox is available online now along with all of Diana Panton’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.dianapanton.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pantonda5

 

 

 

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.

Panton’s 2015 Re-Issue Shows Big Things Can And Do Come In “Little” Packages

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

As each day passes this month, Phil’s Picks is presenting its annual “Best of” lists.  That mass of lists launched yesterday with the year’s top new EPs.  Today, we move from EPs to albums.  Today’s list doesn’t focus on new albums, but album re-issues.  Make no bones about it, every year, hundreds of albums are re-issued both on CD and vinyl (as well as digital platforms).  So they are just as valid as being considered in any critic’s year-end lists as anything else.  Keeping that in mind, today Phil’s Picks is offering its list of the year’s Top 10 New CD Re-Issues.  This year’s list is topped by Diana Panton’s 2015 album I Believe in Small Things.  Also included in this year’s list of top re-issues are titles from Rich Robinson, Black Sabbath, Pain of Salvation and others.

As always, the list includes both the Top 10 records and five extra honorable mention titles for a total of 15 records.  Keeping that in mind, here for your consideration are the Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 CD Re-Issues

 

1) Diana Panton – I Believe In Small Things

 

2) Rich Robinson – Woodstock Sessions Volume 3

 

3) Rich Robinson – Through A Crooked Sun

 

4) Rich Robinson – Llama Blues

 

5) Allen Stone – Radius

 

6) Junkstars – This Means War

 

7) Faith No More – Album of the Year

 

8) Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

 

9) Black Sabbath – Paranoid

 

10) Black Sabbath – Master of Reality

 

11) Pain of Salvation – Remedy Lane: Revisited, Re-Mixed and Re-Lived

 

12) American Hi-Fi – American Hi-Fi

 

13) Michael Jackson – Off The Wall

 

14) Pete Seeger – Pete

 

15) Shooter Jennings & Hierophant – Black Ribbons

 

 

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Audiences Of All Ages Will “Believe” In Panton’s New Album Re-Issue

Courtesy: eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Diana Panton is one of the most respected and accomplished performers in the jazz community today. One look at the singer’s bio shows that. She has released six critically acclaimed full-length albums, been nominated for two JUNO awards, won two Silver Disc Awards in Japan, 7 HMAS and has been tapped to play some of the world’s top jazz festivals among so much more. Needless to say the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada-based vocalist has done and earned quite a bit in her career so far. And last year she added yet another proverbial feather in her cap when she released her first-ever children’s album I Believe in Little Things. The album, originally released on September 25th, 2015 in Canada, will be re-issued this spring (March 18th to be exact) in the United States via eOne Records. The fourteen-song collection earned its own acclaim overseas in its initial release. And it would be no surprise for it to earn even more accolades upon its release domestically. That is especially the case considering that while it is being marketed as a children’s album it really isn’t just an album for children. That is because its featured songs are in fact songs lifted from movies, not just children’s standards. The catch is that the songs and the movies from which they were lifted are all family friendly. Yet young audiences today likely are far more unfamiliar with the songs or said movies than their parents. Considering that, it becomes just as enjoyable for adults as it is for younger viewers. It will generate a sense of nostalgia in older listeners and serves as a starting point for younger listeners to learn about the beloved songs and movies from which they were lifted. Keeping all of this in mind, it is safe to say that while most American audiences likely don’t know Diana Panton’s name or body of work, her new album could very well be the album that makes her more of a household name here in the states.

I Believe in Little Things, Diana Panton’s first-ever children’s album, is an interesting collection of songs. That is because considering its featured compositions it doesn’t necessarily come across as being solely for younger audiences. The compositions in question are songs lifted from a handful of classic family friendly movies. Those movies include but are not limited to: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), The Muppet Movie (1970), and Pinocchio (1940) just to name a few. Also featured in this album are songs from Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). There are even songs lifted from the beloved children’s series Sesame Street and Jim Henson’s other family favorite series The Muppet Show. So not only does Panton touch on timeless movies but on timeless television series, too. On the surface this doesn’t seem like much. But on a deeper level the link between the songs, movies, and TV series serves as a starting point in a history lesson that will hopefully get younger listeners into said classics versus what is begin offered to them today. What’s more the songs themselves also serve as a starting point in a lesson about the importance of jazz in young listeners’ musical upbringing. Older audiences could start with the featured songs and go back in time from there, exhibiting some of the jazz tunes that have made (and continue to make) jazz such a great and important genre. It would have been nice to have had the movies and TV series listed in the album’s companion booklet. If anything can be said negative of the album’s overall presentation that is it. Even with that having been noted it isn’t so overwhelming that it overly detracts from the album’s presentation. Keeping that in mind, each element noted here is important in its own right in terms of exhibiting what makes I Believe in Little Things an impressive new recording from Diana Panton. Collectively they show clearly why this recording is an offering that could help establish her in the American musical community. They are, together, just one way in which this is shown. Her approach to each of the album’s featured songs is just as important as the songs and the movies and TV series from which they were lifted.

The songs featured in I Believe in Little Things are in their own right hugely important to the compilation’s overall presentation. That is because they serve as a starting point in a discussion on the histories of both jazz and music in film for younger listeners. The movies from which they were lifted are by connection just as important to the album’s presentation as the songs. That is because they serve as a starting point in a discussion for audiences of all ages about film and television history. While both noted elements play their own integral role in the overall presentation of Panton’s new album they are both by themselves and collectively just a couple of important portions of the album’s presentation. Panton’s approach to the songs is just as important to the album’s presentation as the songs and their links to their associated movies. Listeners will note that her approach to the songs is very soft and gentle. The best comparison that can be made is to the vocal style of Norah Jones and Diana Krall. Panton sticks to this vocal style from beginning to end of the nearly fifty-five minute record (its total run time—or TRT—is fifty-four minutes and forty-seven minutes as noted on the back of the album’s case). The thing is that even though she sticks to that one vocal style and her band mates maintain the same sort of gentle, relaxed musical approach it never gets old at any point. There are artists and acts out there whose albums get real old real fast because they don’t deviate at any point. But for some reason that isn’t the case with Panton and her band mates here. That being the case it’s one more important element in the overall presentation of I Believe in Little Things. It still isn’t the last notable element in the album’s presentation either. While it might not seem like much to note, the album’s track listing is just as pivotal to its presentation as its other noted elements.

The songs that are featured in Diana Panton’s new children’s album and the approach taken to each song both in regards to her own approach and that of her band mates are both equally important to the album’s overall presentation. Even as important as they are to the album’s presentation they still are not the album’s only important elements. The track listing included with the album is just as important as the album’s content. Here is the reason why: The track listing is printed clearly on the rear exterior of the album’s packaging. Each song is listed clearly with its respective run time. On the bottom right after the final song is the album’s TRT. Having the specific run times with the songs and the album’s TRT can be very helpful for parents with younger children. The specific run times can help parents and educators determine which songs will best potentially hold those young listeners’ attention since every child’s attention span is different from the other. They aren’t left to guess the lengths of the different songs. Any parent and/or educator out there will agree just how stressful it can be to keep young minds engaged in any manner. In regards to the album’s TRT, parents and educators can use it to help time nap time for children regardless of setting. To that extent the display of the album’s track listing and run time on both levels proves to be just as important to the album’s presentation as its featured songs and the approach taken by all involved. And together with the noted elements they come together to make I Believe in Little Things an album in which listeners of all ages will believe.

I Believe in Little Things is an album in which listeners of all ages will believe after hearing its collection of classic movie and TV themes. That is thanks in large part to the songs and the movies and TV shows to which they are connected. The songs and their related movies and TV series are more than just entertainment for audiences. They serve just as much as a starting point for lessons and discussions on music history and that of television and movies. To that extent it serves as an album that older audiences will appreciate just as much as younger audiences. They are also a way to get younger audiences interested in the golden era of music, movies, and television. The stylistic approach taken to the album both from Panton and her band mates is just as important to note of the album’s presentation. Even with the group’s approach staying largely the same from beginning to end it keeps audiences fully engaged. That is a testament to the group’s work. That is especially the case when their work is compared to such an approach taken by other acts with their respective albums. The album’s track listing both in regards to its song listing and run times (both separate and overall) rounds out the album’s presentation. The run times help parents and educators determine which songs will best keep young minds engaged when considering their attention spans. The overall run time listing can help parents and educators alike in terms of using the album for little ones’ nap times. Any parent and/or educator will agree that this is extremely important. Keeping that in mind, it is just as important to the album as any of the album’s content. All things considered I Believe in Little Things proves in the end to be an album in which listeners of all ages will believe. It will be released domestically Friday, March 18th in stores and online.

Diana Panton is currently performing live in support of I Believe in Little Things. She will be live at University Club in Toronto, Ontario on February 26th. She also has a handful of dates currently scheduled for March, May, and August. Her current schedule of live dates is noted below.

 

Diana Panton Performance Highlights – February – August 2016

Feb. 14 – McMichael Art Gallery, Kleinburg, Ontario

Feb. 26 – University Club, Toronto, Ontario

March 3 & 5 – MMM Live Lab, Hamilton, Ontario

May 28 – Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario

Aug. 1 – 12 – Tour in Asia

Aug. 16 – 21 – Woody Point Festival, Gros Morne, Newfoundland

 

More information on her current tour is available online now along with more information on I Believe in Little Things and all of Panton’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.dianapanton.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pantonda5

 

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.