WHV Finally Gets One Right With Its New Peanuts Collection

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

This Thanksgiving, Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox will team up to bring audiences the first-ever big screen Peanuts adventure that (go figure) is simply titled The Peanuts Movie. Personal opinions aside, it is interesting to note that as the movie’s debut nears, so is Warner Brothers’ home entertainment division–Warner Home Video (WHV)–stepping up its re-issues of the classic Peanuts TV specials. Already released this year WHV has re-issued Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. Officials with WHV have also announced that the organization will also release Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) and He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown along with the company’s new compilation set Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. The latter of the trio is currently planne for a nationwide release on Tuesday, September 15th. Though, interestingly enough it has already been released through Target likely via a special deal between the retailer and the people at WHV. For those that were not lucky enough to pick up the dual-disc collection in its original release via Target will be pleased to add it to their personal collections. The main reason that audiences will be pleased to add it to their collections is its featured specials. It features eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that while previously released on one platform or another are now collected into this much more ergonomic collection. This will be discussed at more length shortly. Another reason that the collection proves so interesting and worth the purchase is the material presented within each special. Audiences actually get to hear an adult talk for the first time ever in one special (She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown). And while most audiences are familiar with the classic Peanuts holiday specials, some will be surprised that there is another holiday special of sorts that is just as deserving of attention in the form of What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? This special is a deeply moving Memorial Day special that will impact viewers of all ages. Last of note in regards to this collection’s positives is that classic hand-drawn animation style. The old school style of artwork is yet another example of what once made animated features truly animated and in turn truly entertaining. Each noted element shows in its own way that Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a surprising new release from WHV. It would be nice to think that maybe it marks the beginning of WHV finally moving in the right direction after having slid in the wrong direction for the past couple of years or so. One can only hope. Even if it is just a random diamond in the rough from the once powerhouse studio, it proves through all three noted elements together, to be one that any Peanuts fan will happily welcome into his or her home DVD library.

Warner Home Video has been noticeably declining over the course of the past two years or more. That is evident through every one of its releases both for families and for select audiences. Said releases have shown that someone(s) at WHV apparently did not and does not care about providing audiences with quality home releases. For all of the problematic releases that WHV has put out in stores over the past couple of years or so, finally a random diamond in the rough from WHV will be released very soon in the form of the new Peanuts collection Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection. This collection of TV specials includes eleven classic Peanuts TV specials that some of which were nominated for Emmy Awards while certain others actually received the coveted trophy. It should be noted that all eleven of the specials featured in this new double-disc collection have each previously been released via one platform or another. Some have been released on VHS while others have previously been released on DVD. Others have even been issued and re-issued on one platform then another. Despite this, some viewers out there might not have been lucky enough to add one, another or more of the featured specials up until this point. That being the case, all eleven specials show collectively to be of the utmost importance for all viewers. That is because more than likely among the legions of Peanuts fans around the world few to any likely have all of the included specials.

The inclusion of each of its specials in one collection is good for Peanuts fans everywhere in large part because having them all in one place means just that. It means that for the first time ever each one of the specials has been finally released on one platform on which all audiences can watch them. No one is left behind. On another level, for those that had one or more of the specials in question from their previous releases can finally eliminate those platforms (or at least most of them if they own the original VHS copies of said specials). That will ultimately lead to saved space for many fans on their respective DVD racks. Again, this might not apply for every Peanuts fan. But it will definitely apply to many fans. And that being the case, it makes the collection’s ergonomic factor that much more important to the whole of its success and enjoyment.

The episodes presented in Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection show clearly why they are within themselves quite important to the whole of the collection. Examining the episodes on a closer level, ther writing shows to be just as important to the collection as the episodes themselves. In examining the specials’ writing it becomes clear why they were either nominated or in some cases even won an Emmy. That is most evident through the surprisingly moving special What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown. This sequel of sorts to Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back) follows Charlie Brown and company on their departure from France. Along the way, the Peanuts gang happens to arrive at Normandy and the site of the Allied landing on D-Day. The history lesson provided by Linus upon their arrival is unbiased and moving all at the same time. The writers don’t pull any punches here, revealing that the Allied attack on Normandy was in fact anything but perfect. Linus notes in his lesson that weather conditions had ruined the mission so much that Allied commanders even considered pulling back. That is a lesson that sadly very few history teachers and professors alike will teach in the classroom. So it is nice to have that historical truth noted in a special that is aimed at younger viewers.

In another of the collection’s episodes, She’s A Good Skate, Charlie Brown, audiences actually get to hear an adult speak for the first (and probably only)time in the history of the Peanuts TV specials. The adult in question is Peppermint Patty’s teacher. She continuously calls on Patty as Patty continues falling asleep in class thanks to her early morning skating practice. Yes, skating. That is another reason that the writing in this special proves so notable. Anyone that knows their Peanuts history knows that Peppermint Patty is more of a tomboy than a girly girl. Heck, she was even voiced by males in a number of the specials. So having Patty taking part in a sport that is traditionally more aimed at females than males shows a completely opposite side of Patty and to the Peanuts universe in whole.  It is a change that all audiences will agree now in the 21st century is a welcome change.  It shows that it’s okay for a girl to be girly and one of the boys.  Simply put, it really serves to defy those strict, standard gender roles established by society.  Whether or not that is the reason that it at least received an Emmy nomination, it is one more reason that the writing behind this special stands out so strongly as one more part of the whole of the collection’s writing.

Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is perhaps the strongest evidence of the importance of the writing behind the collection’s featured episodes. This episode tackles the issue of cancer. On a more specific level, it tackles the issue of childhood cancer and the impact of cancer on both the victim and his or her friends and family. Its story centers on a young girl named Janet who is diagnosed with leukemia. It just so happens that she is friends with Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang. Though, Linus is the main character of this story. That side element of the story’s writing will be discussed shortly. Sticking on the main topic, the manner in which the writers tackled the subject is hugely worthy of applause. It was handled with the utmost gentility and in a fashion that also made the topic accessible even for much younger viewers. That in itself makes this special more than just a special. It is special in every sense of the word. It’s just one aspect of the special’s writing that makes it so notable among the others included in this set. The fact that Linus was made the story’s central character makes it even more worth the watch. It’s not the first time that Charlie Brown took a back seat to his Peanuts pals. But it is one of the most successful episodes that featured someone other than Charlie Brown at the center of the story. That is especially the case as audiences see Linus actually lose his cool in a very rare instance. He loses it when another child makes fun of Janet for having lost her hair right in front of him. Audiences will find themselves cheering Linus on and even doing so with the slightest tear in their eyes. That rare moment really exemplifies the pent-up feelings that not only children feel in a situation such as that presented here, but grown-ups, too. So for that reason too, the writing behind Why, Charlie Brown, Why? shows even more the importance of the episodes’ writing in whole in examining the set in whole. It is just one more example of the importance of the writing within each of the set’s episodes. The writing within each of the remaining eight specials shows in its own way why the writing in whole is so important to the episodes’ enjoyment and the success of the set in whole. And together with the episodes themselves, both elements together make a strong argument why every Peanuts fan should have this new collection in his or her own home DVD library. They still are just part of the whole of the collection’s positives. Last of note is the animation style within each episode.

Both the episodes featured throughout the body of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection and the writing within each special makes for plenty of reason for Peanuts fans to appreciate this latest collection of Peanuts classics. Of course what examination of such a classic collection would be complete without mention of the specials’ animation style. Every one of the specials featured as part of Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection was drawn by hand. That means that endless hours were spent bringing to leave each and every second of each special. Now being that each special runs roughly in the range of about twenty minutes (or just a little more in some cases), the math adds up to quite a bit of time spent on bringing each special to life for broadcast. That says a lot when these specials are compared to the largely CG presentations out there today that try to claim themselves as being animated. They are animated in name only. These specials show everything that was once great about true, animated features. Each one of the specials boasts a similar look. But there are also minute details within each special that set them apart. Audiences that have eagle eyes will catch that minutia. The same can’t be said of today’s CG creations. It really gives these classic specials a real soul and heart. Together with the episodes’ impressive writing and the episodes themselves all three elements come together to make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a clear must have for any real devoted Peanuts fan.

Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is a must have for any real Peanuts fan. That is the case whether or not said fan already owns any of the specials presented here on their original release platforms. The collective writing presented within each of the collection’s makes the episodes and the collection in whole even more enjoyable. The standout animation style presented across each of the collection’s specials rounds out the presentation. It reminds audiences by comparison of what once made animation so great. The animation is original. Even the upcoming Peanuts Movie that is due out this Thanksgiving doesn’t entirely hold up to that style of animation despite the efforts of those behind the movie to make it look like the classics on which it is based. Each element in itself proves to be an important part of the collections’ whole. Altogether they make Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection a collection that any true-blooded Peanuts fan would himself or herself be honored to have in his or her home DVD library. Peanuts: Emmy Honored Collection is available now exclusively in Target stores nationwide. It will allegedly be available nationwide in other stores beginning Tuesday, September 15th. More information on this and other upcoming Peanuts releases is available online now along with the latest Peanuts news at:

Website: http://www.peanuts.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/snoopy

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Indiepix Import Ships Sails Despite Syncing Issues

Courtesy:  Indiepix Films

Courtesy: Indiepix Films

Earlier this year, independent movie studio Indiepix imported the Turkish foreign film Ships for American audiences. The movie, which originally debuted in its home country in January 2014, is quite the interesting work. Coming in at just over the ninety-minute mark, its script lies at the heart of its interest. The movie’s script follows a young man named Ali (Ugur Uzunel–El yazisi) as he ponders his life in the port town that is he calls home in regards to his own future, his relationship with his father, and much more. As the story, penned by writer/director Elif Refig, progresses, it becomes more than just a story ruminating on one’s place in the world but one that even boasts just the slightest amount of romance. Luckily that romance factor doesn’t overpower the movie’s main plot. Rather it plays into the movie’s overall plot, leading to a deep philosophical (and psychological) concept that will definitely have viewers talking after the movie ends. While the movie’s script plays a powerful part in its surprising enjoyment, it can’t be said that the movie is pefect. There is a clearly noticable problem with the movie’s sync. The movie is not dubbed in English. So this is not just the standard English voice actor dubbing over the foreign original. The audio and video is at the very least a good second and a half off from one another. To some this may not seem like that much. But it is noticeable. And while it doesn’t necessarily kill the movie (or the bonus short included with the movie–it also has a sync issue)it is a hindrance that must be noted. Having noted the painfully obvious issue with the movie’s sync (and that of the movie’s companion short film) that noted bonus companion short film adds even more to the movie’s overall presentation. That is the case even with its sync issue. It abrely tops the twenty-minute mark. But in the course of that time, it achieves plenty. And even despite it having its own syncing issue it still combines with the presentation’s main movie to make Ships a must see indie fick and one of this year’s top new independent films.

Indiepix Films’ recently imported independent foreign film Ships is a must see for anyone wanting to escape the monotony of the material being churned out by Hollywood’s “Power Five Studios.” It is also one of this year’s best new independent movies. The main reason that it is worthy of holding both titles is its script. Penned by writer/director Elif Refig, the script behind this movie isn’t just some overly artsy forieng film that is artsy for the sake of it. Rather it balances that art film approach with a mainstream style story and presentation that is just as accessible to audiences as any human drama churned out by Hollywood’s “Power Five studios” in the last twenty years or more. The story that lies within the movie script follows Ali as he ponders his place in the world and comes to the realization that he needs to get out of his hometown and branch out. That realization becomes even stronger when he meets what will become his female love interest Eda (M. Sitare Akbas–Ada, Not Worth A Fig, Dila Hanim), who also feels the need to get on one of the boats (there is one in particular called the Vamos of which Ali dreams and thus thinks will be the pair’s ticket out of their town) and sail away. What is really interesting about all of this is that Refig flips the standard gender roles used in the movie’s American counterparts in the development of both Ali and Eda. Ali is a dreamer while Eda is something of a bad girl figure, painting graffiti, wearing the dark hood, etc. early on. And it is in fact her growing relationship with Ali that leads her, not him, to change. This is a subtle element of Refig’s script. But it is an element that proves quite interesting to those that pay close enough attention to catch it. Even more interesting are the philosophical and even psychological discussions that are certain to be generated by Refig’s script by the time the movie ends. It will raise discussions on whether Ali’s dreams about the Vamos were n fact real signs or if perhaps they were just the catalyst for the relationship between he and Eda that forms over time. It’s just one more of so many elements within the movie’s script that make the script so important to the movie’s success and enjoyment. There is potentially more that this critic might have missed in regards to the scripting. That aside, the elements that were in fact noted here and the expert manner in which Refig balanced each element within the body of the script shows even more so why the script behind Ships is so important to its enjoyment and overall success.

For all of the positives that Ships’ script presents, it is painful to say that in watching this movie, the script is its one major positive. In other words the movie (and its companion bonus short film) does have a noticeable problem. Audiences will note that both the central presentation and its companion short film both suffer from a noticeable issue of the audio and video’s syncing. Before anyone gets upset, automatically thinking that it is just a dubbing issue, that is not the case. The cast’s speaking parts were not covered by English-speaking voice actors. Rather the cast’s speaking parts were handled via English subtitles. This makes it painfully clear that there is a problem with the movie’s syncing. It is not relegated to just those speaking parts either. The audio and video appear to be out of syn from the movie’s opening scene to its last. Some will attempt to argue that this is a non-issue since English-speaking viewers will probably spend most of their time reading the subtitles. However, the rebuttal to that argument is that even those audiences will still be watching the movie at the same time as reading the movie’s subtitles. This problem isn’t relegated to just Ships. It is just as obvious in the movie’s companion short film Man To Be. In defense of those behind both presentations, the synching issue doest not necessarily eliminate any reason to watch either film. but it does have a noticeable impact on the movies’ enjoyment. That being the case, both Ships and Man To Be are still worth at least one watch even with that painfully obvious issue thus leading again to the argument that Ships is at the very least one of 2015’s top new independent movies. It just can’t be said that it is the year’s best because of that issue.

Ships is one of this year’s best new independent movies. This is even despite the noticable issue of its syncing between its audio and video throughout. It is so well worth the watch because of its largely original and creative script. Thanks to writer/director Elif Refig’s attention to detail, it proves itself to be anything but just another existential coming of age piece. Rather it is something much deeper that will keep audiences engaged throughout the course of its ninety-two minute run time. It is just one part of the whole that makes this movie worth the watch. The inclusion of its companion bonus short film Man To Be is one more reason that this presentation proves so powerful. Just as with Ships, Man To Be proves so enjoyable thanks to its script. The acting of its cast adds even more enjoyment to this deeply human story. It presents its young lead actor having to grow up very fast because of some very difficult situations. He lives at home with his mother, grandmother, and uncle, who happens to be a not so nice person. He plays a direct role in him becoming a man at a far too young age, as he is forced into situations to which no one at his age should be exposed. From seeing the girl he is crushing going off with his uncle, to having to save his uncle from some very bad men, to having to do his uncle’s dirty work trying to convince his grandmother to sell her house, the young man in this movie faces some very difficult situations. He is even forced to make a literal life and death situation in the film’s climax that no one will see coming. The ending won’t be given away, but he comes out okay. Though it can be said that as is evidenced in the film’s final scene how okay is debatable. It and the rest of the film will leave viewers talking just as much as they will in watching Ships. This being the case, the combination of both movies together makes Ships even more clearly a must see. This is despite both films suffering from a painfully obvious issue with the synching of their audio and video. Even with that problem noted, the movie’s scripts and the work of each movie’s cast together proves Ships in whole to be a must see for anyone wanting to escape the monotony of Hollywood’s endless lust for prequels, sequels, and reboots and in turn one of the year’s best new independent movies.

While not perfect (thanks to the issues with its production values) Ships is not an altogether awful movie. Rather it is actually a surprisingly interesting film that any true lover of the film arts will want to see. Its script and the work of the movie’s cast coupled with both noted elements of Man To Be make the presentation in whole one of this year’s best new independent movies. It is available now and can be ordered online via Indiepix Films’ online store at http://www.indiepixfilms.com/film/5945#.VeC0HvZViko. More information on this and other titles from Indiepix Films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.indiepixfilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/IndiePixFilms

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

Blanchard’s Debut LP Is A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Cumbancha Music Publishing

Courtesy: Vis-a-vis

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.francescablanchard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cheskablanch

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.

Shout! Factory To Resurrect Another Hidden Classic This Fall

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films

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

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

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

Special Features:

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

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

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

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

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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

Lenny Kravitz Teams Up With Eagle Rock Entertainment For New Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Forget that song from Disney’s megahit movie Frozen. This fall, veteran rocker Lenny Kravitz will release his latest live recording Just Let Go.

Just Let Go will be released Friday, October 23rd via Eagle Rock Entertainment. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. The twelve-song recording features a collection of performances was recorded throughout Fall of 2014 during the European leg of Kravitz’s world tour. The tour was in support of his latest full-length studio recording Strut. It was released September 23rd, 2014 via Roxie Records/Kobalt Label Services.

Just Let Go includes some of his biggest hits and some lesser known pieces including: ‘Fly Away,’ ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way,’ ‘It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,’ ‘Let Love Rule,’ and his cover of The Guess Who’s hit song ‘American Woman’ among others. The complete song listing for the recording is noted below.

The tracklisting for ‘Just Let Go’:

1) Fly Away

2) Dirty White Boots

3) American Woman

4) Dancin’ ‘Til Dawn

5) Strut

6) It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

7) New York City

8) The Chamber

9) Sister

10) Dig In

11) Let Love Rule

12) Are You Gonna Go My Way

Along with performances by Kravitz and his band mates, there is also behind-the-scenes footage included in the presentation, interviews, and soundcheck footage. Eagle Rock Entertainment has also included as bonuses for Kravitz’s fans live takes of ‘Sister,’ ‘Always on the Run,’ ‘Sex,’ ‘I Belong To You,’ ‘New York City,’ and ‘Let Love Rule.’ In discussing the upcoming recording, Kravitz noted that it gives fans a good look at his relationship with his band mates and the effect of touring on their lives both as individuals and as a traveling family of sorts. “I am a solo artist but Just Let Go reflects on the relationship with my band and the camaraderie that develops between us while out on the road,” he said. “The film takes a deeper look into what it’s like to be on tour and also gives an intimate perspective into my life with my band, both on and off the stage.”

Just Let Go will be available in stores and online on Friday, October 23rd. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats. Pricing information on each platform will be announced as its release date nears.  Audiences can check out a trailer for the upcoming release via Youtube now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjeNHfoNX1Y&feature=youtu.be. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews


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.

Nathaniel Rateliff And The Nightsweats Surprise In A Big Way With Their Debut LP

Courtesy:  Stax Records

Courtesy: Stax Records

The self-titled debut record from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is one of the most intriguing albums to be released so far this year. The Denver-based band’s eleven-song set mixes classic soul and R&B sounds with modern lyrics to make an album that will grow on audiences increasingly with each listen. And with each respective listen, audiences will increasingly agree that this album is in its own way one of the best new albums of 2015. One song that proves that argument is the album’s lead single ‘S.O.B.’ This infectious, up-tempo piece was a perfect choice for a first impression for the band and if the band lives on past its debut album, will most certainly go on to be a fan favorite years down the road. That is the case thanks to both its musical and lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is just as enjoyable of an example of how much this album has to offer listeners. It does so in exactly the same way as the album’s lead single, too. The same can be said of ‘Look It Here.’ The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics stand out against so many songs of lost love that one can’t help but note its enjoyment. It’s just one more example of what makes the self-titled debut LP from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats a solid start for the band. That is not to discount the album’s other songs by any means. Any one of the songs included in this record could be used as examples in their own right. It just so happened that these three are the ones that this critic found served as the album’s best trio of representative tracks. Collectively speaking, all eleven songs (S.O.B. is actually included both in a “clean” version and a regular version making for twelve tracks but eleven songs) come together to complete an album that is one of the year’s best new overall albums.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut album is one of the year’s best new overall albums and one of its most intriguing to be released so far. That is thanks to the mix of soul and r&B influences that flow throughout the record’s eleven songs. Given the Denver-based band is not the first to exhibit such influences in its music. But there is something about the combined talents of the band’s members–Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Mese, Luke Mossman, Mark Shusterman, Wesley Watkins, and Andy Wild–and those of the album’s production that make this record feel like it was sent through time direct from music’s golden era. That is made clear in the album’s lead single, ‘S.O.B.’ The infectious, up-tempo pieces instantly conjures thoughts of Little Willie John, The Temptations, and so many others from that era right from the song’s outset. The steady humming and clapping will have listeners do the same along with Rateliffe and company while happily tapping their feet in time, too. Rateliff’s gravelly vocal style makes the song even more enjoyable as he sings, “I’m gonna need someone to help me/I’m gonna need somebody’s hand/I’m gonna need someone to hold me down/I’m gonna need someone to care/I’m gonna writhe and shake my body/I’ll start pulling out my hair/I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you and nobody’s gonna give a damn.” When one really takes the time to examine this verse (and the song’s second verse) the song really takes on a whole new identity. That is especially considering the driving energy exuded in the song’s verses and even more frantic energy released in the chorus. The combination of that varied energy and the song’s lyrical content leads one to interpret this song less as just an upbeat, radio ready single but something much deeper. Rather, the combination of said elements presents the song as one that presents a subject at the point of revelation, realizing that he (or she) has a problem. It is inferred that said problem is addiction via the song’s chorus in which Rateliff sings “Son of a b****/Give me a drink/Won’t more night/This can’t be me/Son of a b****/If I can’t get clean/I’m gonna drink my life away.” If this is indeed the case–that the song is centered on a person that is battling some personal demons–then the musical content set against such lyrics is an original approach to such a topic. One can almost see this person on the verge of going through withdrawal as he or she sings the noted lyrics. Of course this is all just the interpretation of this critic. Other listeners could easily make their own conclusions in hearing it for themselves. Speaking of which, audiences can hear it for themselves online now via the band’s official website http://www.nathanielrateliff.com. Regardless of the song’s true meaning it can be said that its ability to catch listeners’ ears, hold them from start to finish, and generate so much discussion around its mix of musical and lyrical content shows exactly why it is such a solid first taste of this record and an equally solid example of why the record in whole is one of the year’s best new albums overall.

‘S.O.B.’ shows via its combination of musical and lyrical content why it is such a solid example of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ debut LP has to offer audiences. It is just one example, too. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is another clear example of what the band’s new album has to offer. That is because even with its equally clear old school soul and r&B influences, it still stands out both musically and lyrically from ‘S.O.B.’ and the rest of the album’s remaining tracks. The use of the horns and drums set against the song’s guitar line harken back to legends such as The Temptations, Ray Charles, and The Four Tops just to name a few. Just as impressive is the fact that Rateliff shows he isn’t just a one trick pony in regards to his vocal style. His delivery here is much smoother yet still has just as much strength as is exhibited in ‘S.O.B.’ All things considered here, the musical content presented in this song shows even more the breadth of the band members’ collective talents and in turn shows even more just how much the band (and the album in whole) has to offer audiences. It’s just one part of the song that makes it so impressive, too. The song’s lyrical content must not be ignored. In regards to its lyrical content, the song comes across as something of an introspective piece that looks back in an almost celebratory fashion of a one-time love. That can be argued as Rateliff sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can we be there/Oh, just think of the time/Thought of love so strange/Said you never knew/While I try my best/To cover our eyes/It’s a common way to blame and hide the truth.” The song’s second verse serves that argument even more as he sings, “Taking our time/ah/Just standing in the rain/Meaning what you said/ah/And mean it to me/All of these lies/oh/And never again/Come on say it now/It’s a game.” It’s as if Rateliff (or his subject) is looking back on a past relationship and rather than being sad about what was, the subject opted to look back with a more positive outlook. That is driven home as he sings in the song’s verse, “I know that some will say it matters but little, babe/But come on and mean it to me/I need it so bad/I needed to try/I need to fail/I needed your love/I’m burning away/I need never get old.” It could be the wrong take but it seems almost like Rateliff’s subject is telling the other person that she(?) kept him young and how much she both meant and means to him. Yet again, this could be wholly off the mark. Though, it can be hoped that it is at least somewhere in the ballpark. If it is at least close, then it can be said that it is a rarely taken approach to such a subject. And in turn such approach makes the song all the more enjoyable and that much more of an example as to what Rateliff and company have to offer listeners on their new album. It is not the last example of how much this record has to offer audiences, either. ‘Look It Here,’ which comes late in the album’s sequence is one more strong example of how much this record has to offer audiences.

Both ‘S.O.B.’ and ‘I Need Never Get Old’ are clear examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have to offer audiences on their debut full-length studio recording. While both songs are clear, solid examples of how much it has to offer, there is still at least one more example that can be cited. That example comes late in the album’s sequence in the form of ‘Look It Here.’ This song boasts just as much classic soul and r&b influence as any of the album’s other songs including those previously noted here. What’s really interesting though, is that even with its old school influences, it also boasts a more modern style sound throughout its verses while that old school influence is more evident in the song’s chorus. The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics in which Rateliff’s subject sings, “Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees begging please/Look it here baby I’m calling out/Crying now hear me, hear me plead” is completely unlike other songs today of its kind, lyrically speaking. It isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill, oh-woe-is-me songs about lost love. Rather the band’s approach here brings about thoughts of James Brown. That is made even more clear as Rateliff sings in the song’s main verse, “I got a love so hard I can’t stand it/And with a heart so weak and abandoned/You’ll have to bury this man/And if that’s what it takes for a love that must be proved/Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees beggin’ please yea/Look it here baby there’s no one else/Come on now hear me out.” It would have been so easy for Rateliff and his band mates to take that easy route and make a standard song about lost love. Being that they didn’t, it makes this song stand out proudly as yet another example of what makes the band’s self-titled debut such a strong first effort. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via the band’s official website along with ‘S.O.B.’ at http://www.nathanielrateliff.com.

‘S.O.B., ‘I Need Never Get Old,’ and ‘Look It Here’ are all clear and solid examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut record has to offer audiences. They are not the only songs included in the record that could be chosen as representatives for the record, either. Any one (or more) of the tracks included in this record could just as easily be used to exemplify just how enjoyable this collection of songs is from start to finish. That being the case, it can be said of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats that this album is one of the year’s most intriguing albums released so far this year as well as one of the year’s best new albums overall. It is available now in stores and online. Rateliff and company are currently touring in support of their new album and have a pair of dates scheduled in North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday November 10th and 11th in Carrboro and Asheville respectively. More information on the band’s debut album is available online now along with its current tour schedule and all of its latest news at:

Website: http://www.nathanielrateliff.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NRateliff

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.

Starz To Hoist The Flag Again This Fall

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Starz network will hoist the flag once again this fall.

Officials with Starz network announced this week that it will release the second season of its hit high seas action/drama Black Sails on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be released on both DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The second season of the Emmy Award-winning series picks up right where Season One left off. The crew of the Walrus is in a standoff with an army of Spanish soldier who stand in the way of a large trove of Urca gold. The events of Season One now see Flint and Silver being forced to team up in order to survive their ordeal. While the pair is away, a new group of pirates led by Ned Low has descended on Nassau. This leaves Eleanor Guthrie fighting to keep her hold on the region.

As Season Two progresses and tensions heighten, Charles Vane is faced with some difficult decisions. He must decide if he values Eleanor more or the respect of his crew. These distractions allow for a priceless treasure to be smuggled into Nassau. It is a treasure that is so invaluable that its discovery will have an immeasurable impact on everything and everyone that everybody knows.

Along with its full compliment of episodes, Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will also have more than an hour of exclusive bonus features, that also includes expanded commentaries from the show’s cast and creators, behind-the-scenes featurettes that center on the show’s stunt work and special effects, and more. The complete list of bonus material to be included in Black Sails: The Complete Second Season is listed below.

New Bonus Features:

Inside The World Of “Black Sails”
The Man O’ War
Expanding Worlds
High Seas Action
History’s Influence

Black Sails: The Complete Second Season will be available in stores and online on Tuesday, November 3rd. It will be available on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack. The DVD set will retail for MSRP of $49.98 and the Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack for MSRP of $59.99. More information on Black Sails, including all of the latest news from the set, is available online now at:

Website: http://www.starz.com/blacksails

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blacksails.starz

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blksails_Starz

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/phispicks 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.