Paramount’s New ‘Star Trek: TNG’ Movie Collection Is A Welcome Set For The Most Devoted ‘Star Trek’ Fans

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment/Viacom/CBS DVD

Make it so!  Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is beaming down a new Star Trek box set for fans of the franchise’s Next Generation era Tuesday.  Star Trek: Picard Movie & TV Collection is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  The six-disc collection is oddly titled, considering that it is more the Next Generation era movies than TV episodes.  This, the set’s presentation, will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content featured with the ser is a positive in its own way, in examining the set in whole.  It will be addressed a little later.  Keeping in mind the set’s primary and secondary content, its average price point becomes a key discussion topic in its own right.  It will be discussed a little later, too.  Keeping in mind the importance of all of these elements, this latest collection of Star Trek movies and television episodes is one that will appeal largely to the most diehard Star Trek fans.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek box set is a collection that is certain to divide fans of the long-running franchise’s Next Generation era.  It is a set that will appeal mostly to the most devoted fans of the franchise and the era thereof.  That is due in part to the set’s overall presentation.  The box set is titled Picard Movies & TV Collection.  The catch is that the set only features two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation along with all four of the movies.  The two episodes featured in the collection are the famed two-part episode “The Best of Both Worlds,” which finds Captain Picard being captured by the Borg and turned into one of them.  The other episode, “Chain of Command” also finds Picard being captured, this time as a prisoner of war, so to speak.  One can’t help but wonder why those two episodes were chosen, considering that each was already previously released on DVD and Blu-ray.  There are other, equally entertaining episodes that could have been presented here, which were previously released only on the series’ full season and series box sets.  One of those episodes is the timeless “Darmok.”  The episode, featured in the series’ fifth season.  It was yet another episode that found Picard being captured and stuck on alien turf, having to get out of a tough situation.  What makes it stand out is that no conflict ever happened because Capt. Picard and his counterpart see past their differences and learn to communicate instead.  It is one of the series’ most beloved stories among fans and audiences in general.  “The Inner Light” is another powerful episode that focuses mainly on Capt. Picard in a completely different fashion.  It finds the beloved leader in a “what if” scenario that shows him what his life could have been like.  “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is yet another powerful episode of the series.  It finds Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D working with the crew of the Enterprise C to make sure history runs the way that it was meant to run in what was one of a handful of time travel episodes from the series.  Keeping all of this in mind, one can’t help but wonder why the two episodes featured here were chosen considering they’ve already seen the light of day.

The episodes chosen for this set are just part of what will divide audiences.  The set also features all four of the movies from the Next Generation era.  This is where things get even dicier.  On the surface, it would seem that having all four movies in one, slim package is a good thing.  It definitely is for the most devoted fans of that era from the Star Trek universe (no pun intended).  On the bigger scale though, only one of those movies ever proved truly successful in the long run – First ContactInsurrection, which premiered in 1998, was the second of the four movies.  According to information from Rotten Tomatoes, it was soundly panned by critics and viewers in general, receiving a 54% tomato meter score and 44% audience score.  It was panned by both parties as being little more than an extension of the series.  As a matter of fact, considering the story line, it is a story that had been done prior very early in the series’ run when a hidden federation outpost is accidentally revealed to a group of Romulans.  The Romulans in question end up thinking Capt. Picard is God.  Going back to the featured episodes in this set, that is yet another key episode featuring Picard.

Nemesis, the last of the Next Generation era movies, fared even worse,  receiving a tomato meter score of only 39% and an audience score of 49%.  Written by Brent Spiner, this movie is essentially a double evil twin story, with Data meeting his twin and Picard meeting his “twin,” who turns out to be quite the bad guy with a giant ship. In the end, the bad guy with the bigger ship (big gun) loses to the David character in Picard, of course.

Generations, while the first of the Next Generation movies, comes across as another very familiar story.  The crew of the Enterprise-D already encountered the crew of the Enterprise-C during the course of the series.  Now, here is some of the crew from the first Enterprise bridging the gap with the latest Enterprise crew.  Given, there is an intriguing story about us having to come to terms with our mortalities with the villain wanting to get to the Nexus, but the plot elements written into Picard and Kirk’s own experiences inside the Nexus echo previous episodes of The Next Generation, too.  There are lots of good special effects, but other than that, this movie felt more like a cash grab by Paramount to get fans of both Star Trek eras to open their wallets.  Is that bad?  No.  It makes sense.  At the same time though, the effort did not ultimately feel genuine. It felt more like those involved just wanted to make something that they knew said audiences would buy into even though there is nothing to buy into here.

First Contact is the best of the franchise’s big screen features.  That is because it finally answers the long-unanswered question of who and what was at the heart of the Borg collective.  Never once throughout the course of the series was this question ever answered, even though audiences knew there had to be a starting point, and finally that is what they got here.  Given, the movie’s story is familiar with its time traveling plot line and the attempt to keep history from being altered.  Even with that in mind, the story’s writing staff manages to do something here that makes the story stand out from the time travel stories that were featured in the series.  The set and costume design is also stepped up, adding to the movie’s draw.  To that end, it truly shows itself as something special.

The movies that were spawned during Star Trek’s Next Generation era have themselves become extremely divisive among audiences and fans, as has been noted.  Even with that in mind, there are those fans who are still truly devoted to the series and its cinematic counterparts.  For those audiences, the featuring of all of these movies will certainly be appealing.  In the same breath, the fact that each of the movies featured in the set also themselves feature the same bonus content as was featured in their previous releases will appeal to those noted audiences as well as other audiences.  Simply put, regardless of viewers’ devotion to the Star Trek franchise, everyone will be on the same level, including regardless of whether audiences have seen all four or none of the set’s featured movies.  To that end, love the movies or hate them, at least everyone will get to take in all of the same bonuses thanks to this set.

The carrying over of the bonus content in each movie from this set is a key positive for this set.  The inclusion of all four TNG movies is a boon for the most devoted fans of the franchise, while for those who might be more particular might find it not as interesting a draw.  Keeping that in mind, the set’s average price range of $31.72 is actually not a bad thing.  That price was obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Book Sellers and Books-A-Million. It was not listed at Target at the time of this review’s posting. Considering the prices of the stand-alone episodes’ Blu-ray releases and the prices of the movies’ releases, that price for this set is actually affordable.  Consumers would have to spend more than $100 for each of the titles by themselves, so paying a little more than $30 for all of them together is its own positive, again, regardless of that noted devotion to the franchise.  Having all of the movies, and at least two episodes (which were clearly chosen subjectively) gives audiences of all devotion something to look forward to here.  To that end, it is money well spent both for the most devoted fans and for even the most casual Star Trek fans who want to still be able to check out all of the TNG movies in one collection, rather than having to hunt them down one by one.  When this is considered along with the featured content – both primary and secondary – the whole of the et proves a positive  for Star Trek fans even despite the division that it will certainly create.

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s new Star Trek: The Next Generation set is an interesting new presentation for audiences.  The most devoted audiences will certainly appreciate having all of the TNG movies in one set complete with all of their original bonus content, and at an affordable price.  The franchise’s more casual fans will appreciate the fans, but might find themselves better off with the movies that they enjoy the most.  What’s  more, those same audiences will find the set’s featured television episodes, which have already seen release in their own standalone Blu-rays, questionable as so many other episodes could have been featured.  To that end, those audiences might not find the set’s average price point enough to encourage them to purchase the set.  Keeping all of this in mind, this latest TNG set is an interesting journey, but not one that every Star Trek fan will want to take.  The set is scheduled for release Tuesday on Blu-ray.  More information on this and other titles from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.ParamountMovies.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/paramountmovies

 

 

 

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‘HaitiaNola’ Successfully Spans Cultures And Nations

Courtesy: Cumbancha

Haitian music collective Lakou Mizik returns later this month with its sophomore album HaitiaNola.  Scheduled for release Oct. 25, the 14-song album is a positive follow-up to the group’s 2016 debut Wa Di Yo.  It is a presentation that is meant to celebrate the connection between Haiti and New Orleans, and does that quite well in so many ways from start to finish both musically and lyrically.  One of the most notable songs that celebrates that connection comes a little more than halfway through the album’s 71-minute (one hour, 11-minute) run time in the form of ‘Lakou Dogwe.’  It will be discussed shortly.  The album’s lead single ‘Iko Kreyol’ is another notable way in which the group celebrates its Haitian and New Orleans roots with this record.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Mizik Sa Yo,’ the album’s closer is yet another notable way in which Lakou Mizik celebrates its culture in this record.  It will also be addressed later.  When it is considered along with each of the other songs mentioned here and the rest of the album’s featured songs, the whole of the album makes it a presentation that is easily one more of this year’s best and most important World Music albums.

Lakou Mizik’s sophomore album HaitiNola is a solid follow-up to the group’s 2016 debut Wa Di Yo.  That is because of the way in which the album’s featured songs celebrate the connection between the group’s Haitian and New Orleans roots.  One of the songs that serves to so effectively pay homage to both cultures comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Lakou Dogwe.’  In English, that translates to ‘Temple Ritual.’  Famed singer-songwriter Anders Osborne makes a guest appearance on the song on guitar, which as the liner notes state, is about a vodou ceremony involving people welcoming spirits as they enter the temple.  That should not be mistaken for Voodoo, which is different from vodou.  Vodouists believe in one “Good God” known as Bondye.Bondye is served by a series of Ioa – spirits who serve Bondye.  It is not a polytheistic religion, but rather one that involves the servants of the one God being worshipped.  It is itself rooted in the West African Vodun religion.  This song celebrates that connection back to Haiti’s African religious roots and is so audible in the song’s arrangement.  The arrangement features what certainly sound distinctly like African drums, bells and other percussive elements.  Even the vocals conjure thoughts of so many African songs.  The combination of that whole – the instrumentation and vocals – stands out in its celebration of the group’s present and past.  The song’s lyrical content, which talks about the ancient Vodou ritual adds even more interest to the song.

The song opens, stating, “The first ancestors were there in the Kingdom of Dahoney (in Africa)/The first ancestors were there in the kingdom with badjia, the family was there/In the lakou ritual, we greet the twins – the spirits of abundance.  The song continues, “In the village of Lokan are all of the spirits of Vodou/Ogou Badagris (older, wiser spirit of war/we are here/Ogou Batala (youthful soldier spirit) we are here/Ogou Balendjo (navy captain and medic) we are here/Oshen Nago (gatekeeper of Nago ritual) we are here/Giving thanks to Bassou (the bull spirit)/Giving thanks to Bassou and the Vodou ceremony.”  There is no hidden meaning to anything here.  This is very simply, just a musical visualization of how the Vodou ceremony that is Lakou Dogwe takes place.  It brings outsiders into that ceremony and illustrates how it works.  If for no other reason than to educate audiences about an element of Haitian culture, this content is noteworthy.  When it couples with the tone of the song’s musical arrangement, the end result is a work that shows in its own way, why Lakou Mizik’s latest album is a wonderful tribute to the group’s cultural roots.  It is just one of the songs that pays tribute to the group’s roots so well.  The album’s lead single ‘Iko Kreyole’ is another key exhibition of the group’s celebration of the connection between Haiti and New Orleans.

‘Iko Kreyole’ is perhaps the most blatant of the album’s celebration of Lakou Mizik’s connection between Haiti and New Orleans.  That is clear in part through the song’s musical arrangement.  The arrangement features members of the famed New Orleans-based Preservation Hall Jazz Band as well as members of Arcade Fire, which is from Montreal – a French region of Canada.  This is important considering the fact that the French controlled Haiti for a very long time before many Haitians left their homeland for Haiti.  At the same time,  many Acadians (French citizens who eventually moved to Canda) made their way to New Orleans, too, creating what is today Creole.  Keeping this in mind, that combination of New Orleans and French-Canadian is very symbolic here.  The combination of the groups’ distinct sounds creates a whole that is just as notable as the symbolism of the unity, with its horns, electronics and percussion.

The symbolic collective of Lakou Mizik with Arcade Fire’s members and those of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band gives ‘Iko Kreyole’ a clear presentation of the celebration of Lakou Mizik’s connection between Haiti and New Orleans that every listener will enjoy.  The addition of the song’s lyrical content makes that celebration stand out even more.  The group sings in the song’s lead verse, “My culture is my identity, from Haiti to NOLA/Spirits of Congo, we are brothers and sisters/We’re ready for all that is against us/Stand firm and tell them we’re here.”  The song continues in its second verse, “We are united in music, represented by our flags/Whichever road we take, we are eventually going to meet/When we pay the rara cornet, we harmonize with trumpets and trombones/Proving that we are family, We are Creole.”  The celebration continues with mentions of marching down St. Bernard and taking part in Mardi Gras while also paying tribute to certain family members.  The whole of the song, lyrically, is a work that does a wonderful job of celebrating Lakou Mizik’s Haitian and Creole connection.  The addition of the infectious beats to the song in its musical arrangement, makes the song just as enjoyable musically as it is lyrically.  The end result of that combination is a song here that is yet another key example of how well the album pays tribute to Lakou Mizik’s past and present.  It is just one more example of how well it does just that.  It is not the last example of how well the group does that, either.  The album’s closer, ‘Mizik Sa Yo’ is one more way that Lakou Mizik pays tribute to its culture.

‘Mizik Sa Yo’ pays tribute to a unique part of the group’s culture as its takes on the control that the nation’s elite have on information dissemination.  The song’s musical arrangement once again couples the group’s Haitian roots with a more New Orleans sound for a whole that will appeal to a wide range of listeners.  The song’s lyrical content is even more powerful than the song’s musical content, with the group stating in the song’s lead verse, “Attention everyone – There’s too much bad music on the radio/Music in our country never talks about how we can enrich the knowledge of the youth/Down with all the bad music they play on the radio!/Kids need to listen to music that will help them learn/It’s time we started to sing about how we feel, what we need, who we are and what can help us!”  The song continues in its second verse, “They don’t want us to advance, they want us to stay where we are/Independence is a bad joke/Division, religion, division/Division, corruption/religion/They never play these songs/The DJs don’t play these songs/The radio won’t play these songs/It’s Devil music, Vodou music, these songs/They ignore our own culture, these songs!/But Lakou Mizik plays these songs/Show them the way/They gave us “religion” for them to reign/They sabotage our history to make us forget who we are/They control our education and look down on our culture so youth have no soul.”  This is a powerful message.  It is to Haiti what maybe acts, such as Bob Dylan, Rage Against The Machine and others are to American audiences taking on the establishment.  It is a true tribute and dedication to their people and culture, and a fitting finale for the album.  Add in the energetic, forceful vibes in the song’s arrangement, and the whole stands out on its own merits that audiences are certain to latch onto.  It is just one more way in which HaitiaNola shines.  When it is considered alongside the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of the album makes itself one more of this year’s most outstanding new World Music albums.

Lakou Mizik’s forthcoming sophomore album HaitiaNola is an outstanding new offering from the Haitian music collective.  It is so engaging and entertaining in part because of its musical arrangements, which pay homage to the group’s connections both to New Orleans and to Africa.  The album’s lyrical content does just as much to directly pay tribute to those connections.  The whole of those elements, in the songs noted here and the songs not noted, makes the album a work that will keep listeners engaged and entertained from start to finish.  All in all, the album proves to be one more of the year’s top new World Music offerings.  More information on the album is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lakoumizik.com

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

 

 

 

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Jazz, Holiday Music Lovers Alike Will Enjoy ‘Big Band Holidays II”

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

The holiday season is officially here, and while Christmas is still more than two months away, many people are (wisely) already starting to make their plans as to where and how to spend the big day and the days leading up to said day.  Blue Engine Records will help revelers get into the holiday spirit later this month with the release of the new Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis Christmas music compilation, Big Band Holidays II.  Set for release Oct. 25, this 11 song compilation of live performances from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will come almost four years after the release of its predecessor.  It stands out from that record, and other holiday music offerings that will soon hit store shelves and digital retailers in part because of its featured songs.  This will be addressed shortly.  The performances of said songs plays into the compilation’s presentation just as much as the songs themselves.  They will be addressed a little later.  The compilation’s collective mixing and production round play their own crucial collective role to the whole of the presentation, too.  They will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is key in its own way to the overall presentation of Big Band Holidays II.  All things considered, they make the recording a work that is in its own way, a welcome presentation that Christmas and Christmas music lovers appreciate.

Music is one of the most important parts of the holidays when it comes to setting the mood for gatherings of family and friends.  The problem is that it is so difficult to find holiday music compilations that stand out from the masses each year.  Thankfully, Blue Engine Records will release later this month, a compilation that actually does stand out in the form of Big Band Holidays II.  The latest holiday music offering from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, this collection of live holiday performances stands out in part because of its featured songs.  While the recording does feature some holiday standards, such as ‘We Three Kings,’ ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Silent Night,’ it also features just as many (if not more) songs that are far less familiar and common on any other act’s holiday music compilations.  ‘Brazilian Sleigh Bells’ is definitely not something that American audiences can expect to find from holiday music recordings from other big bands.  The same can be said of ‘Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow,’ ‘Cool Yule’ and ‘(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag’ as well as ‘What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swinging).’  ‘Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow’ might show up on holiday collections from perhaps  the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but otherwise, it is not something that most listeners can expect to find in holiday music collections from most popular music artists and acts.  Keeping that in mind, listeners looking for some kind of diversity for their holiday music settings will appreciate just that from this recording.  The familiar tunes are there, but so are pieces that are less familiar and commonplace.  That in itself forms a strong foundation for this recording.  It is just one of the items that makes the compilation so enjoyable.  The performances of the recording’s songs add their own interest to the record.

The performances of this recording’s featured songs did not come from just one performance of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  They were taken from performances that the organization conducted between 2015 and 2018.  That means that listeners get not just one performance from one concert, but various snippets of the group’s live show from different points in time.  That is just the start of why the performances are so important to the recording.  The actual performances themselves play their own key part in its whole.  Veronica Swift’s vocal performance couples with the performance of the orchestra on ‘Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag’ is like something right out of the big band era.  Swift’s presence is completely engaging and entertaining, conjuring thoughts of great big band singers, such as Helen Forrest, Martha Tilton and Bea Wain.  The energy in her performance, coupled with that of the orchestra’s members, makes this performance feel like a gem long locked in some time capsule way back in the golden age of the big band and finally released after all these decades.  That is the power of the group’s performance here.  Much the same can be said of fellow singer Catherine Russel’s work with the group on ‘What Will Santa Claus Say (When He Finds Everybody Swinging).’  The group’s bluesy take of ‘Silent Night,’ which features vocals from Denzel Sinclair and Audrey Shakir is yet another example of the importance of this recording’s performances.  Composer Victor Goines’ take on the holiday standard gives the typically very somber song a whole new identity and life that is so welcome because it is so unexpected.  Rather than taking the usual noted tone, Goines opted for a more bluesy-mid-tempo arrangement that will leave any listener tapping his or her toes.  The group’s take on ‘Rise up, Shepherd, And Follow’ gives even that standard its own identity, moving it more in the direction of an Andrew Lloyd Weber type work than the more solemn vibe that it might have in a church setting.  At the same time, it boasts the band’s own jazz sensibility, giving it that much more of a unique identity.  There are no vocals here to accompany the group; just the musicians.  Even with that in mind, the song stands out because the performance is so unique both in comparison to other arrangements of the song and to the other performances featured in this collection.  It’s just one more way in which the performances featured in the recording stand out.  One could just as easily cite the other noted performances in showing why they are so important to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, the performances of this recording’s featured songs build on the foundation formed by the songs and make the recording that much more interesting.

While the songs and performances featured in Big Band Holidays II are both critical in their own way to the whole of the recording, they are just a portion of what makes the recording stand out.  Its collective mixing and production adds even more enjoyment to its whole.  As was already noted here, the 11 songs that make up the body of the compilation were pulled from performances put on by the orchestra between 2015 and 2018.  In other words, each performance was in a different setting.  The work on-site and in post is to be commended, as each performance expertly captures the live setting.  The instrumentalists and the vocalists are balanced meticulously.  The transitions from one performance to the next are seamless with the fade-outs.  On the surface, this might not seem important, but in the bigger picture of things, it is very important.  That is because despite being only available on CD and digital, the collection leaves listeners feeling just as fulfilled as if they were taking in the performances on DVD and/or Blu-ray.  This is important to note because concerts are typically more worth taking in when they are presented on full audiovisual presentations than just audio-only presentations.  Yet here in this case, the audio-only presentation is just as enjoyable as any full audiovisual experience.  To that end, the work of those behind the scenes proves just as applause-worthy as the work of the performers.  When the work of all involved is considered together, it makes Big Band Holidays II a wonderful musical backdrop for any holiday gathering.

The forthcoming holiday collection Big Band Holidays II from the Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis is a presentation that will appeal to anyone looking for some variety for their holiday gatherings this and every year.  It is a presentation that is a gift for listeners in its own right.  That is proven in part, as discussed, by its featured songs.  The performances of said songs play their own part to the recording’s whole.  The collective mixing and production of the recording is just as important to its whole as the performances and songs.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make Big Band Holidays II a must have for anyone looking for a new musical setting for their holiday gatherings.  More information on this and other titles from the Jazz & Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis is available online now at:

 

 

Website: http://jazz.org

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jazzdotorg

 

 

 

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‘Walk The Sky’ Shows The “Sky” Is Still The Limit For Alter Bridge

Courtesy: Napalm Records

The wait is almost over for Alter Bridge’s new album.  Walk The Sky is scheduled for release Oct. 18, and the band has already been busy touring in support of the record, getting audiences excited about its release.  The hour-long album offers plenty for audiences to appreciate with its powerful musical arrangements and its seemingly recurring lyrical theme of our life choices and their impacts.  The album’s opener ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ is one of the most notable of the album’s songs that supports that statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘The Bitter End,’ which comes later in the album’s run, serves just as much as ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ to support the noted statement.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Tear Us Apart,’ the album’s penultimate composition, is one more example of how the album’s musical and lyrical content serves to give listeners so much to appreciate.  When it is considered alongside the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a record that shows the “sky” is the limit for Alter Bridge.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

Alter Bridge’s new album Walk The Sky is another strong new effort from the veteran hard rock band that is certain to appeal to the band’s longtime fans just as much as its newer fans.  That is thanks to its powerful musical arrangements and its equally strong lyrical content, which seems to address the choices we make in life and the result of those choices.  The album’s lead single ‘Wouldn’t You Rather’ is one of the most notable of the songs that serves to support those statements.  The song’s musical arrangement is yet another of the powerhouse compositions for which the band has come to be known, led by the dual guitar approach of Mark Tremonti and Myles Kennedy.  Drummer Scott Phillips’ time keeping is solid throughout, while bassist Brian Marshall’s low-end fills out the song’s arrangement.  Each musician joins with the others to make the nearly four-minute opus a great start for the record both as a single and as the album’s official opener, if only for its musical content.  That content is only one part of what makes the song stand out, though.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical content.

The song’s lyrical content is important to discuss because it encourages listeners to live the best life that they can.  Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Sell yourself short and buy a world of pain/Follow your bliss or pay the price/All of these lessons/I’ve learned them so well/There is no gain worth the commerce of self/Wouldn’t you rather/Live from the heart/A life that will matter/To be lived from the start.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You wear an albatross around your neck/The spoils of war will bring you down/Hear my advice/May you hear every word/Don’t sacrifice meaning for riches that burn/Wouldn’t you rather/Live from the heart/A life that will matter/To be lived from the start/All of these lessons I’ve learned from myself/There is no gain worth the commerce of self/A dream left for dead/Now a nightmare that feels like hell.”  As the almost four-minute song nears its end, Kennedy reminds listeners, “I’d rather live from the heart,” reminding listeners of the noted message of living life the best that one possible can live; living life with purpose.  That and the rest of the song’s message is one that every listeners needs to hear.  When that message is coupled with the song’s hard-driving musical arrangement, the end result is a song that is powerful both musically and lyrically, and just one of the album’s most notable tracks.  ‘The Bitter End’ is another powerful song that seems to address the choices that we make in life and the impact of those choices.

‘The Bitter End’ opens, musically, with a semi-introspective feel in its arrangement, that eventually gives way to a much more ballad-esque type work.  From there, the song’s energy creates a moving sound that conjures thoughts of some of Creed’s most well-known power ballads.  Considering that save for Kennedy, the members of Alter Bridge previously recorded and performed as Creed (then with Scott Stapp), this should come as no surprise.  What’s different from those songs and this song is that this work doesn’t come across as schmaltzy as its predecessors.  Rather, there is a certain real strength to this arrangement that the noted other songs did not have.  It is just one part of the song’s importance.  The noted positive message in the song’s lyrical content makes it stand out even more.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “I’ve walked every road and turned every corner/Searched high and low where I did not belong/Adrift with the tide/Always hungry and yearning/If only I’d known the answer was here all along/the bitter end will come in time/But the joy I have found/In the sweet here and now/It keeps me alive.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, ”I’ve kissed the lips of an angel in waiting/Devil in kind/I’ve been lost and deceived/The thrill had to fade in this world for the taking/Once I woke up…Then I could see/The bitter end will come in time/But the joy I have found in the sweet here and now/It keeps me alive.”  He later adds in the song, “It’s never too late to learn how to start living right.”  This is a statement that is echoed time and again along with the song’s chorus.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song clearly proves itself another work that addresses the noted theme of our life choices and how they impact our lives overall.  When the song’s uplifting message about living life right is coupled with the song’s equally upbeat power ballad arrangement, the whole of the song becomes another of the most notable of the album’s songs that also continues the album’s overall lyrical theme.  It is not the last of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Tear Us Apart’ presents its own unique lyrical content about the impact of the choices that we make in life.  It also features its own unique musical arrangement that will entertain and engage listeners.

‘Tear Us Apart’ is another ballad-style work, but stands on its own merits, establishing its own identity separate from the likes of ‘The Bitter End.’  It is more in line with past ballad-type arrangements that Alter Bridge’s members have crafted in its previous records.  That is a matter for another discussion as it is just one of so many songs featured in this record that combines elements of the band’s past records for a whole new here that keeps the band’s sound fresh.  The song’s musical elements join with Kennedy’s powerhouse vocals to create another power ballad that stands strong on its own two feet so to speak.  When that notable musical arrangement is coupled with the song’s lyrical content, the end result is yet another work that is its own important part of the album’s whole.

Kennedy sings in the song’s lead verse, “Blindsided once again/Fooled by the fool within/Turned to a sacrifice/Lonely way to find no home/Withered…the promises you left for dead go cold/But this, too will surely fade/The truth you cannot escape/That we have to face/And learn from mistakes to grow/Don’t let the world/Tear us apart…don’t compromise/Just wait.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Drink from the poison well/Only to kill yourself alone/Wake up and take a stand.  He adds as the song continues, mentions of not giving up the love that one was meant to have before returning to the song’s chorus and reminding listeners to not compromise and that “if there’s something worth saving/Let it go/If there is something/Worth changing/Let it go/’Cause time is only wasting/Now you know.”  Once more, listeners get what comes across as a message of living life to the fullest and best; a message to not let certain elements in life get us down.  When this seeming message joins with the song’s radio ready arrangement, the whole of the song shows why it is another important part of Walk The Sky’s whole.  It is one more song that presents the album’s central theme of understanding the choices we make and how those choices impact us, and entertains listeners fully in the process.  When it is considered along with the other songs discussed here (and the rest of the album’s songs) the album shows itself in its entirety to be some of Alter Bridge’s best work to date.

Alter Bridge’s sixth full-length studio recording Walk The Sky is another impressive offering from the veteran rock band.  That is due to its collective musical arrangements, which feature elements from each of the band’s past compositions yet still present their own identities.  The noted lyrical theme, which is presented in various ways from the album’s opening to its end joins with the album’s arrangements, to make a record in whole that is not only some of Alter Bridge’s best work to date, but also one of the best rock records so far this year.  It is scheduled for release Oct. 18 through Napalm Records.  More information on the album and the band’s tour in support of the album, is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.alterbridge.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/alterbridge

 

 

 

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The Magpie Salute To Release ‘High Water II’ Next Week

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Mascot Label Group/Sony

The Magpie Salute will release its new album next week.

The band is scheduled to release High Water II Oct. 18.  Pre-orders are open now.  The album will be available on CD, 2LP and digital platforms through Eagle Rock Entertainment domestically, Mascot Label Group in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and through Sony in Japan.

High Water II‘s release will come a little more than a month after the band released its new EP In Here.  The band debuted the lyric video for High Water II‘s lead single ‘In Here‘ on Aug. 13.

High Water II was recorded simultaneously with its predecessor High Water at Dark Horse Studios in Nashville, TN.  High Water was released in 2018, also through Eagle Rock Entertainment in the U.S.

Front man Chris Robinson talked briefly in a recent interview about the new album.

We’re all really happy to put out the second half of High Water,” he said.  “Since its inception, I always viewed it as a single piece.  High Water II will tie together both albums into a whole journey.”

Robinson produced High Water II.  Alison Krauss makes a special guest appearance on the album, as an added bonus.

More information on High Water II is available online along with all of The Magpie Salute’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://themagpiesalute.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/themagpiesalute

 

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Machine Head Debuts New Song, Video; Announces Winter Tour Dates

Courtesy: Atomsplitter PR

Machine Head is not dead!

The band, still fronted by Robb Flynn, now has a new lineup to replace Flynn’s recently departed members, who announced early this year that they were leaving the band.  Along with the new lineup, the band now has a new single and video to boot.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Do Or Die‘ Friday through its official YouTube channel.  The video presents the band performing its old-school thrash style song in what is meant to recreate a live setting.  The song’s lyrical content is pure aggression; perhaps a response from Flynn to everything that he had gone through since the release of the band’s most recent album, Catharsis (2018).

Bassist Jarred MacEachern talked about the song and its companion video in a recent interview, saying he was impressed by each.

“I’m blown away by how this video turned out,” he said.  “I was f****** pumped up after my first viewing.  A pissed off song deserves a pissed off video!  It’s a no-holds-barred, in-your-face, ‘f*** off’ kinda song…Ragers rejoice!”

Carlos Cruz, who played drums on the song, offered his own thoughts on the song as well.

“‘Do Or Die’ is by far the most extreme song in the Machine Head catalog,” he said.

Along with releasing its new song and video, Machine Head will launch its North American Winter 2020 Tour in January.  The tour, which is scheduled to launch Jan. 16 in Phoenix, AZ, will see the band celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of the band’s debut album Burn My Eyes as well as a collection of some of the band’s biggest hits.

The tour’s schedule is noted below.  Tickets for the tour are on sale now.

MACHINE HEAD ON TOUR:
1/16 — Phoenix, AZ —The Van Buren
1/18—Albuquerque, NM—El Rey
1/20—Dallas, TX —House of Blues
1/21—San Antonio, TX—Aztec Theatre
1/22—Houston, TX —House of Blues
1/26—Orlando, FL—House of Blues
1/27—Ft Lauderdale, FL—Revolution
1/28—Tampa, FL—Ritz Ybor
1/30—Atlanta, GA—Center Stage
1/31—Silver Spring, MD—The Fillmore
2/1—New York, NY—Webster Hall
2/4—Toronto, ON—Danforth Music Hall
2/5—Montreal, QC—Corona Theatre
2/7—Boston, MA—House of Blues
2/8—Buffalo, NY—Town Ballroom
2/9—Cleveland, OH—Agora Theatre
2/11—Indianapolis, IN—The Vogue
2/12—Louisville, KY—Mercury Ballroom
2/14—Detroit, MI—Crofoot
2/15—Chicago, IL—Metro
2/16—Minneapolis, MN—Skyway Theatre
2/18—Denver, CO—Gothic Theathre
2/19—Salt Lake CIty, UT—The Depot
2/21—Oakland, CA—Fox Theater
2/22—Anaheim, CA—House of Blues

More information on Machine Head’s new single, video and tour is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.machinehead1.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MfnH

 

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.

Edsel Dope Responds To Rumors He Is Static-X Front Man

Edsel Dope is responding to new claims that he is Static-X’s masked singer Xer0.

Dope released a statement Friday in response to claims from multiple media outlets that audiences identified him as the band’s front man, deriding those who have published the allegation.

His statement is noted below.

Hello world.

I have quietly sat through all of this speculation and have thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Yesterday’s internet eruption reminded me of an episode of Scooby-Doo.

It’s incredible how far some people will go to get attention or clicks, so let me remind you how easy it is to slap a little tribal neck tattoo onto someone in photoshop.

I’m honored for myself and for my band DOPE to be part of this 20th anniversary celebration, along with this unbelievable, traveling memorial to our old friend Wayne Static.

Wayne is currently on the minds and in the hearts of the metal community in a very unique and special way. His memory / legacy is more celebrated than it has ever been before.

I personally get to see the joy, the tears, and the incredible sense of healing that is occurring on the faces and in the hearts of Static-X fans, each and every night, around the world.

I’m not attempting to be a spokesperson for Static-X, but I will share that I have personally met Wayne’s parents and siblings, as they have attended a number of these shows.

I have personally seen their tears of joy and their expressions of gratitude and approval for the way that Tony, Ken, Koichi, & Xer0 are celebrating the music and memorializing the life and legacy of their son and sibling, Wayne Wells Static.

I’m including a candid photo that I snapped of Static-X drummer Ken Jay embracing Wayne’s father, while Tony Campos, Wayne’s mother, Wayne’s siblings and friends share some personal time together. Words cannot express the love and respect that I’ve experienced out here.

Courtesy: Static-X/Edsel Dope/TAG Publicity

It’s one thing to go on a Scooby-Doo scavenger hunt, or to use photoshop to attempt to prove whatever you are trying to spin, but it’s entirely different when trolls, masquerading as journalists, spew their ignorant, hateful words towards something that is so incredibly personal.

Anyone with the nerve to throw virtual tomatoes at a traveling memorial, that has been orchestrated and supported by the family, loved ones, and long-time friends of the deceased should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

In the end, I’m not the type of person to allow others to dictate the narrative of my life or my art, so I’ve decided to also include a picture of me chatting it up, while watching another SOLD OUT Static-X show from the side of the stage the other night.

Edsel

Courtesy: Static-X/Edsel Dope/TAG Publicity