The Power Of Three Has Potential Staying “Power”

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

2014 is only a week or so old.  Despite the infancy of the year, things are already picking up within the music industry.  If the many lists of the year’s most anticipated albums are any indication, there is a lot to look forward to this year.  That’s especially the case in the world of rock and metal.  Albums from Slipknot, Tool, Earth Crisis, Corrosion of Conformity, Foo Fighters, Mastadon, Black Label Society, and so many others are already making purist rockers and metal heads the world over excited about the months to come.  Now, yet another performer has added his name that already extensive list of bands and artists whose albums are highly anticipated this year.  The performer in question is Monte Pittman.  Pittman will release his new album The Power of Three.

The Power of Three is quite the interesting listen for those that might be unfamiliar with his body of work.  While Pittman has had the honor of recording and touring with veteran New York based metal band Prong, he is most well-known for his work with none other than Madonna and former American Idol contestant Adam Lambert.  He has also recorded with former Spice Girl Melanie C. on her 2003 album Reason.  Considering that he has spent more time recording and touring with pop artists, Pittman’s new record, which will be released via Metal Blade Records on January 21st, will shock audiences.  That’s because it is anything but a pop record.  Rather, he and his band mates—Kane Richotte (drums) and Max Whipple (bass)—have crafted a ten-track record that is an early contender for a slot on this critic’s list of the year’s best hard rock records.  The album’s second song, ‘Delusions of Grandeur’ is a pummeling song that hints at influences from the likes of thrash pioneers Pantera.  This is the case at least in terms of the song’s musical side.  Pittman’s guitar work, alongside Kane Richotte’s solid drumming, make this an excellent first impression from Pittman and company.  Pittman shreds with the best of them.  And his vocal style may even lead some to compare it to that of Fireball Ministry front man James A. Rota III.  Whipple adds just enough low-end to bring everything together in this song.

Just as interesting to take in on this record is the album’s opener and lead single, ‘A Dark Horse.’  What makes the song so interesting is that there almost seems to be an old school Black Sabbath influence mixed into the song’s more prominent modern metal sound throughout its bridge and verses.  One wouldn’t think the two sounds would gel.  Low and behold, they work quite well together.  As a matter of fact, there’s no doubt that Pittman and company will have listeners putting their horns high with pride.  Yet again, all three members of the band work together here to make a song that will leave listeners breathless by the end of its near five-and-a-half-minute run time. And as with the album’s other songs, the production is just as solid as the music itself.  Not one member of the three-man organization overpowers the other at any one point throughout the song.

For all of the heavier material that comprises this record’s body, Pittman also proves that he can hold back even if only a little bit.  That’s evident in the almost Alice in Chains style ‘Everything’s Undone.’  Even more intriguing about the song is that the setup in the song’s opening moments may even conjure thoughts of Aerosmith’s ‘Back in The Saddle Again.’  It’s only momentary.  But it’s there.  On its lyrical side, it comes across as being rooted in the standard relationship issues that make up so many songs.  He sings, “Driving faster/getting closer/But I feel farther from you/Here we go again/Who’s to blame/Am I gonna get closure from you/Now you’re gone/Is there something I’ve done wrong…Now everything’s undone.”  It’s pretty obvious that Pittman is delving into a personal realm here.  The catch is that unlike so many songs that are rooted in relationship issues, this one takes that lesser travelled road, opting for a less “oh, woe is me” vibe and more for something with energy about it.  This is the case even in the song’s chorus. The song as a whole is just one more that makes this upcoming album well worth the listen and a definite early contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock/metal albums.  Fans will get to hear even more music from Pittman and his band mates when they perform February 22nd at Los Angeles’ famed Whisky A Go Go.  Tickets for that show can be purchased via Pittman’s official website, http://montepittman.com. Fans can keep up with the latest addition to Pittman’s tour schedule and all of his latest news online at http://montepittman.com, http://www.facebook.com/MontePittman, http://www.myspace.com/montepittman, and http://twitter.com/montepittman.  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.

Fogerty’s New LP Is An Album For Everyone

Courtesy:  Vanguard Records

Courtesy: Vanguard Records

John Fogerty’s first full length studio release in over six years isn’t exactly a new album.  But it is still a fun collection of songs, nonetheless.  Wrote a Song For Everyone takes fourteen of Fogerty’s most famous and beloved songs and updates them for a new generation.  It goes without saying that the classics collected for this compilation didn’t necessarily need an update.  But the updates do admittedly give listeners a new take on the classics.  It’s actually a good thing.  And that will be discussed later.  The song selection itself is just part of what makes this collection of classics a hit in and of itself.  Fogerty was joined by some of the biggest names in the music industry in re-recording the songs for this work.  And some of the names included on the “guest list” might surprise some listeners.  That’s one more reason for fans to pick up this record.  The compilation’s bonus booklet is the extra spice that makes Wrote a Song For Everyone quite the musical dish.  The bonus booklet includes a back story on each of the songs included on the record.  Together with the guest appearances and the song choices themselves, it all combines to make this compilation one that music lovers of ages will love no less with each listen.

The songs collected for Wrote a Song For Everyone are some of John Fogerty’s best known and beloved songs.  The natural reaction to these songs by those more familiar with them is to question if they really needed an update.  The end result after having listened through the compilation is one of pleasant surprise.  Listeners that are more familiar with the original songs will agree that needed or not, these updates are fun new takes on Fogerty’s classics.  It all starts with an update of what is perhaps his most beloved songs, ‘Fortunate Son.’  Fogerty is joined by Dave Grohl and his band mates in Foo Fighters on this update, with Fogerty and Grohl sharing vocal duties on the song.  It’s a great way to open the compilation because it largely sticks to Fogerty’s original song.  At the same time, it gives the song new life because it amps up the song and keeps it fresh for a whole new generation that can relate to it just as easily as that generation that originally related to it.  Fogerty is joined later by Zac Brown Band on the update of another of his hits in ‘Bad Moon Rising.’  The band’s update on this song is just as fun as Fogerty’s original take on the song.  Unlike the update of ‘Fortunate Son’, the update of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ doesn’t stick strictly to the original song.  That aside, it’s still a pretty interesting take on the song.  Brown and his band mates put their own signature semi-tropical spin on the song.  There’s even a little guitar solo added to the song on this take.  It’s another of the compilation’s pieces that fans of the original song will enjoy just as much as younger listeners.  Fogerty’s new take on ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ is one of the most interesting on this new release.  He is joined by fellow veteran rocker Bob Seeger on the song.  The pair took the original mid-tempo country-rock piece and gave it more of a pure country vibe.  It comes across as being more reserved on this take than on the original.  That’s not a bad thing, either.  It is just a new and equally enjoyable take on the song.  It’s just one of many more songs from this compilation from which listeners have to choose as their favorite.  Also included on this record are updates of ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’, ‘Born on the Bayou’, and ‘Hot Rod Heat’ just to name a few.  Again whether one is familiar with these songs or not, they all comprise a record that Fogerty fans of all ages will enjoy.

Fogerty fans of all ages will enjoy this compilation primarily because of the songs that comprise the record.  The songs themselves aren’t all that listeners will appreciate.  The record’s “guest list” is another of its selling points.  As already noted, Fogerty is joined by the likes of Zac Brown Band, Bob Seeger, and Foo Fighters on some of the record’s updates.  Also along for the ride are: Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave), and Kid Rock.  Even former American Idol contestant and award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson makes an appearance among many others.  On the surface, one might look at the record’s “guest list” and shrug, asking why any of this is significant.  It’s significant in that it shows the influence that John Fogerty has had on both his fellow veteran musicians and even younger musicians.  It’s an example of actions speaking louder than words.  And it’s a statement that speaks very loudly with this release.

The sequencing and “guest list” chosen for Wrote a Song For Everyone both are critical factors in the album’s success.  They both play important roles in the album’s overall presentation.  Just as important is the album’s bonus booklet.  The booklet included with the album is such an important addition to the overall presentation because it offers a back story to each song.  Those stories come from Fogerty’s own words, too.  Many audiences will be amazed to learn that ‘Fortunate Son’ was written as a result of his own time serving in the Army Reserve during Vietnam.  He writes in the song’s liner notes, that ‘Fortunate Son’ was the result of his person feelings about states using the term ‘Favorite Son’ for their politicians.  He explains in the liner notes that he took that term and changed it to “Fortunate Son” to reflect his negative thoughts on the original term.  Just as interesting to learn is that he felt so strongly about what was going on at the time and ended up writing the song in just twenty minutes.  This after he and the band had originally rehearsed the song without any lyrics at all.  His story behind ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is just as eye and ear opening as it is being read.  He explains how the song originally was the result of a famous movie titled The Devil and Daniel Webster.  He expands on this, explaining how the movie got him to thinking about the impact that music can have on people, and how that links back to the song.  His anecdote is one that will move any fan.  His somewhat cryptic explanation of ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ is sure to get fans discussing, too.  He closes his explanation stating that the song is about “seeking the truth.”  He links this to his experience at the very first Woodstock festival.  Those that know the history of the original Woodstock will perhaps understand this better than anyone, especially if said individuals were actually there in person.  It’s just one more story that makes the album’s booklet more a bonus for fans than just a bunch of liner notes.  And together with everything already mentioned, it makes this record even more worth picking up whether for one’s own self or as a gift this holiday season.  It is available now in stores and online.

John Fogerty recently wrapped up a massive tour in support of his new album.  Fans can check in for more tour dates and news from John Fogerty online at http://www.johnfogerty.com and http://www.facebook.com/johnfogerty.  Fans can also get his album online via either site.  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.

Hellbound Hearts’ New EP A Solid Slab Of Rock

Never judge a book by its cover.  That old adage applies to nearly every situation in life.  It even applies in the case of music.  Take for example the York, UK based trio, Hellbound Hearts.  It sounds like a name for a really heavy evil band, right?  Right.  But the reality is that this band actually quit the radio friendly rock act. 

The band’s new E.P., Outside, boasts four songs that could all easily make their way to any radio station with the right support.  Outside opens with a rather Foo Fighters style piece in its title track.  It’s a solid opener to the disc.  The solid driving drums and guitars will instantly grab listeners.  The band really kicks things into high gear on the third of the E.P.’s tracks, ‘Sinking Ship.’  Again the comparisons to Foo Fighters are inescapable here with the mix of vocals and musical backing.  But that’s not an entirely bad thing.  It’s a solid driving song that any rocker will enjoy.  The E.P.’s closer, ‘Hold Steady’ is just as solid.  It keeps the adrenaline flowing full throttle through its listeners’ veins.  The guitar solo alone in this piece will make any pure blooded rocker proud.  Outside is available online now via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/outside-ep/id530917151.  The band will be performing a handful of dates beginning next week in support of its new release.  Fans can find out where the band will be performing when they check out its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/wearehellboundhearts as well as its Myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/wearehellboundhearts, and its Twitter page, http://twitter.com/HBHuk.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.