2015’s Top New Albums Come From Across The Musical Universe

The countdown is near, folks. And with the end of the year nearly here, the end of Phil’s Picks’ year-enders is officially here. We have finally come down to the last of this year’s “Best Of” lists. To close out this year’s group of year-enders we come full circle and finish where we started; back in the music world. To close out 2015, Phil’s Picks offers up its list of the year’s top new albums overall. This list was anything but easy to compile. That is because the top 10 albums and five honorable mention titles really represent so many galaxies within the musical universe. There’s some blues in this list courtesy of The Rev.Shawn Amos in this list. Salvador Santana, Carlos Santana’s son is also on this list, along with Pimps of Joytime and Fort Knox Five representing the rap and hip-hop galaxies. George Strait, The King of Country himself, is also here as are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Even jazz great Terence Blanchard gets a nod as do Joe Satriani and electro-rock duo NYVES. There are others included here. And they are noted in the list below. Being that each album comes from a different part of the musical universe, figuring each album’s place in this list was what really made assembling this list so tough. The ability of listeners to take in the album without skipping tracks was taken into account as was each album’s production values and combined lyrical and musical content. That goes back to the albums’ ability to keep listeners fully engaged from start to finish. So no offense was meant to any act in its placement on this list. EVERY one of the albums included in this list was far more than deserving of being included in this list. That taken into consideration the following is the final list of this year’s top overall albums from Phil’s Picks. And as always, the top 10 albums make up the main body of the list while the bottom five each receive honorable mention. Without any further ado here for your reading pleasure dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Albums. Happy New Year!

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

1. BOARDWALK EMPIRE: BOARDWALK EMPIRE VOLUME 3

2. JUDITH HALL: BACK IN TIME

3. SALVADOR SANTANA: FANTASY REALITY

4. GEORGE STRAIT: COLD BEER CONVERSATION

5. WILLIE NELSON & MERLE HAGGARD: DJANGO & JIMMIE

6. SCALE THE SUMMIT: V

7. JOE SATRIANI: SHOCKWAVE SUPERNOVA

8. BLACKBERRY SMOKE: HOLDING ALL THE ROSES

9. FORT KNOX FIVE: PRESSURIZE THE CABIN

10. PIMPS OF JOYTIME: JUKESTONE PARADISE

11. NYVES: ANXIETY

12. DELTA RAE: AFTER IT ALL

13. THE REV. SHAWN AMOS: THE REV. SHAWN AMOS LOVES YOU

14. SUGARCANE JANE: DIRT ROAD’S END

15. TERENCE BLANCHARD: BREATHLESS

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Veteran Acts Dominate 2015’s Top New Live DVD/BD Recordings List

This week marks the last full week of 2015. It’s a little tough to grasp that there are only eleven days left in the year. But it’s almost time to bid a fond farewell to this year. And even as the year’s final days tick away, there is still plenty of work left to do in turns of examining the top titles from the entertainment world. Phil’s Picks has already done quite a bit of that, delving into the top titles of the music world’s top titles. There’s still some ground to cover in that realm while beginning to transfer over into the year’s top new DVDs and Blu-rays in each of their different own areas. Keeping that in mind, what better way to start making that transfer than to look today at the year’s best new live DVDs and Blu-rays. The year’s best new live CDs have already been tackled. And as previously explained, in many cases, some DVDs and Blu-rays are actually released separate from their audio-only counterparts even today, and vice versa. That justifies a separate category for the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays. That being the case, here, for your reading pleasure dear readers, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Live DVDs and Blu-rays. As always, the Top 10 titles make up the main body of the list while the bottom five are no less important. They each receive honorable mention for a total of fifteen titles. Enough rambling. Here, again, is the Phil’s Picks 2015 Top 10 New Live DVDs and Blu-rays.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDS AND BLU-RAYS

  1. SLASH FT. MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS – LIVE AT THE ROXY 09.25.14

 

  1. TESSERACT – SCALA

 

  1. AEROSMITH – AEROSMITH ROCKS DONINGTON

 

  1. GEORGE STRAIT – THE COWBOY RIDES AWAY

 

  1. THE WHO – LIVE AT HYDE PARK

 

  1. SHANIA TWAIN – STILL THE ONE: LIVE IN VEGAS

 

  1. ERIC CLAPTON – SLOWHAND AT 70: LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL

 

  1. THE ROLLING STONES – LIVE IN LEEDS 1982

 

  1. THE ROLLING STONES – LIVE AT THE TOKYO DOME 1990

 

  1. LYNYRD SKYNYRD – PRONOUNCED L LEH-NERD SKIN-NERD & SECOND HELPING

 

  1. PAT METHENY – UNITY SESSIONS

 

  1. WHITECHAPEL – BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE

 

  1. TASTE – WHAT’S GOING ON: LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT

 

  1. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE – LIVE AT FINSBURY PARK

 

  1. DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES – LIVE IN DUBLIN

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Lots Of Options Offered By 2015’s Top New Country, Folk, Bluegrass, And Americana Albums

Country music and its related genres (I.E. americana, bluegrass, and folk) are big business in the music world. Just look at all of the karaoke competitions on television today and the number of country singers that go on those shows, trying to make a name for themselves. Look at the reach that it has on radio in general. Artists such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have bridged the gap between pop and country alongside the likes of Rascal Flatts, Eric Church, and so many others. In the same breath, true-blooded country music remains just as much of a driving force today within the realm of country music as its more cross-genre counterparts that have become so popular over the last ten years or more. The dichotomy of the two worls is really intriguing to examine as well as the fan base of both sides of the country music world. Keeping that in mind, country and its offshoots can be said to have just as much importance to the music industry today as any other genre. So having covered the realm of children’s music, independent music, and world music, it seems only fair to offer up a listing of the year’s top new records in the worlds of country, folk, bluegrass, and Americana within their own collective year-ender. This was one of the more difficult lists to assemble because of the sheer variety of sounds and titles available to listeners this year. North Carolina-based Delta Rae makes the list once again with its new album After It All. Americana artists Buzz Cason is on this list, too with his new album Record Machine as are Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard with their new record Django and Jimmie. Of course Geoge Strait, “The King of Country,” couldn’t be ignored in this list. His new album Cold Beer Conversation is on the Phil’s Picks list of 2015’s top new Country, folks, bluegrass, and Americana records, too. They’re just a handful of the acts to make the list this year. There are plenty of others veteran and otherwise alike on this year’s list. Without any further ado, I offer to you, dear readers, the best new country, folk, bluegrass, and americana albums of 2015. As always the top 10 albums are…well…the top 10. the bottom five each get honorable mention. That is not a stab against them by any means. It was just that tough to compile the list and do it fairly because there were so many great new records in this realm just as with the other lists. Enough rambling. Here are the Best New Country, Folk, Bluegrass, and Americana albums of 2015 from Phil’s Picks.

2015 BEST NEW COUNTRY, FOLK, BLUEGRASS, & AMERICANA ALBUMS

1. Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard — Django and Jimmie

2. George Strait — Cold Beer Conversation

3. Blackberry Smoke — Holding All The Roses

4. Delta Rae — After It All

5. Sugarcane Jane — Dirt Road’s End

6. Alan Jackson — Angels and Alcohol

7. Alabama — Southern Drawl

8. Tim McGraw — Damn Country Music

9. Buzz Cason — Record Machine

10. Darius Rucker — Southern Style

11. Gloriana — Three

12. Luke Bryan — Kill The Lights

13. Chris Stapleton — Traveller

14. Dwight Yokam — Second Hand Heart

15. Zac Brown Band — Jekyll and Hyde

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Strait Rides Away In Style In His Final Live Performance

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Legendary country musician George Strait’s days on the road are officially over. On June 7, 2014, the man known lovingly within the country music world as “The King of Country” wrapped the final leg of his tour fittingly dubbed “The Cowboy Rides Away Tour.” The tour wrapped at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It should be noted that while the show marked the end of his days on the road, it didn’t mark the end of his recording career. Of course Judas Priest’s members said the same thing some years ago and look how that turned out. So time will tell if he has indeed parked his tour bus for the last time. Regardless, Strait’s fans and country music fans in general can now own that landmark concert for themselves thanks to the people at Eagle Rock Entertainment. The leading name in live recordings, Eagle Rock Entertainment released The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium late this summer exclusively on DVD and digital formats. It goes without saying that whether one is a fan of the country music royalty, a fan of real country music or a little of both, this recording is a must for each. The central reason for that is the show’s extensive forty-song set list, which runs just short of three hours. Strait’s stage presence and that of his fellow country artists is another reason that fans will enjoy this recording. Last but hardly least worth noting is the concert’s production values. Even on DVD its production values are top-notch. They make the show’s near three-hour run time well worth it both in regards to the show’s set list and the performers’ stage presence. All things told, The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium proves in the end to be a recording that every George Strait fan will enjoy just as much as any fan of real country music.

The Cowboy Rides Away Live from AT&T Stadium is a must have for any George Strait fan and any fan of real country music. So much can be said as to why this is the case. Jumping right in, the central reason for its success is its extensive forty-song set list. Covering so much ground it can be said of the near three-hour performance that it is one of those rare live shows released in recent years that is truly deserving of being called career-spanning. What’s more the very fact that Strait opted for such a rich set list is in itself groundbreaking. That is because few if any other acts out there past or present have ever released single performance recordings with so many songs. Even acts such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Who, and others have never released such an expansive single-show recording. That in itself speaks volumes about this recording. That every featured song is a fan favorite says even more. One of the bet of the show’s best is ‘Murder on Music Row,’ which he performs here with fellow veteran artist Alan Jackson. There’s a lot of truth in that song. Real country music is hard to find nowadays. There seems to be more southern rock and pop country out there today than real, pure country. On a different note (no pun intended) ‘I Saw God Today’ is another of the show’s best moments. The tender ballad sung from the vantage point of a new parent will bring a smile (and tears) to every fan’s face. The all-star performance of his classic hit ‘All My Ex’s Live In Texas’ is one more of the show’s best moments. It’s obvious that the performers had just as much fun performing the song as did the audience singing along. What’s more seeing so many great names representing country’s past, present, and future on one stage essentially honoring one of country’s greatest names of all time gives this performance even more of a special meaning. It’s just one of so many examples of the importance of the show’s songs in the big picture of the show’s set list. Of course the songs chosen for this show are just one part of what makes the set list in whole so important to the recording’s overall positive impact. The ordering of the songs is just as important as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the concert’s set list make more than enough reason for Strait’s fans and real country fans alike to watch this recording. However, they are only one part of the set list that makes it so important to the whole of the recording. The ordering of the songs is just as pivotal to the show’s enjoyment as the songs themselves. Audiences will be quite impressed in taking in this concert to note the balance of its more upbeat moments with its softer, more emotional moments. From one song to the next Strait and company build the show’s energy and pull it back at just the right points from beginning to end. The end result is a near three-hour performance that will keep fans at home just as engaged as those that were in attendance at the concert’s taping. The mix of that smart sequencing with song after song that every fan will enjoy makes this concert one that even being Strait’s last live show potentially ever is one that fans will want to watch again and again.

The set list chosen for Strait’s final show and its sequencing make for more than enough reason for any George Strait fan and real country music fan alike to watch this recording. They are just a small part of the whole that makes the concert so enjoyable. Strait’s stage performance (and that of his guests) plays its own important role in the concert’s overall effect. Throughout the course of the concert, Strait maintains an almost unassuming demeanor. It could be argued that it actually presents Strait as having this full sense of humility. He doesn’t try to run around the stage and put on a certain kind of persona. it is more along the lines of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get persona. It’s nice to see such a humble persona. Believe it or not it adds quite a bit to the concert’s overall effect on fans. By contrast, his guests–of whom includes the likes of Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Eric Church, Martina McBride and others–are more energetic by and large. The juxtaposition of Strait’s stage presence to those of his fellow musicians makes for even more enjoyment. And when coupled with the show’s set list, both elements solidify the reason for fans to add this recording to their own home DVD libraries even more so. The combination of both elements would mean little, though without proper production values–the last of the recording’s positives.

Both the set list chosen for George Strait’s “final” live performance and the stage presence of Strait and his fellow musicians are equally important to the overall effect of this recording. Of course neither would be of any importance without proper production values. Luckily for fans the production values presented in the concert contained herein are of the utmost expertise. Even presented on DVD, it looks and sounds just as good as being there if not better. That could be chalked up just as much to the equipment at Strait’s disposal as those charged with manning the boards for the show. The same can be said of those charged with the show’s audio in post-production. On the side of the show’s video mix, having a slowly circulating stage could not have hurt the camera crew. On the one hand it offered the camera crew and co-directors Danny O’Bryen and Brian Lockwood plenty of options for good shots. That is because the stage was set dead center in the stadium as if it was set up for the Super Bowl’s half time show. The camera crew could shoot from on stage, from the crowd (especially since the stage wasn’t that high above the stadium floor), and from so many other angles. Having so many options and so much talent, the result of the production crew’s work is a concert that gives home viewers an even better seat than those in attendance from beginning to end. And coupled with an audio mix that is just as impressive, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests) coupled with the show’s rich, expansive set list proves to be a concert experience that is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist should it in fact prove to be his last.

George Strait’s performance from June 7th, 2014 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is largely believed to be the legendary country musician’s final live performance. If indeed it proves years down the road to be his final live performance, then it is a wonderful way for Strait to go out. That is even with Strait claiming that he will still continue to record new music while no longer touring. The show’s rich set list will please every one of his fans as it more than lives up to the honor of being called a career-spanning show. The sequencing of the show’s songs, Strait’s performance (and that of his guests), and the show’s expert production values come together to make the concert whole and one that fans of all ages will enjoy with every watch. It is a wonderful final performance from a legendary artist that even if it is his last, will hopefully not be his last recorded concert to ever be released. The Cowboy Rides Away Live From AT&T Stadium is available now in stores and online. 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.

Eagle Rock Entertainment Announces Release Date, Specs For New George Strait Live Recording

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The King of Country returns this summer with a brand new live recording courtesy of the leader in live recordings.

Eagle Rock Entertainment announced today that it will release George Strait’s new live recording The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium on Friday, August 28th. The recording comes right at the end of the annual summer concert season, just in time to give fans one more concert before summer starts winding down and the weather slowly begins to turn. It will be available on DVD and digital formats. The DVD will retail for MSRP of $14.98. Details for digital pricing will be announced soon.

Originally filmed on June 7, 2014 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium features performances from not only one of country’s most respected names but also from some of the greatest names in country both past and present including: Jason Aldean, Ray Benson, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, and even Strait’s own son, George “Bubba” Strait, Jr. Between Strait’s own performances and those of his guests, the show’s set list comes to a total of forty songs that span Strait’s storied career. Among that massive list of hits featured in this recording are the likes of: ‘Unwound,’ ‘The Chair,’ ‘Amarillo By Morning,’ ‘Check Yes Or No,’ ‘Give It Away,’ ‘Troubador,’ All My Exes Live in Texas,’ and plenty of others. The track listing for the concert is listed below.

Track Listing:

  1. Check Yes Or No
  2. A Fire I Can’t Put Out
  3. Love Bug (with Vince Gill)
  4. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind (with Vince Gill)
  5. River Of Love
  6. Lead On
  7. Fool Hearted Memory (with Jason Aldean)
  8. Nobody In His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her (with Jason Aldean)
  9. Arkansas Dave (with Bubba Strait)
  10. I Saw God Today
  11. Cowboys Like Us (with Eric Church)
  12. Easy Come, Easy Go (with Eric Church)
  13. That’s What Breaking Hearts Do
  14. Marina Del Rey
  15. Here For A Good Time (with Sheryl Crow)
  16. When Did You Stop Loving Me (with Sheryl Crow)
  17. I Can Still Make Cheyenne
  18. Drinkin’ Man
  19. Jackson (with Martina McBride)
  20. Golden Ring (with Martina McBride)
  21. Give It Away
  22. I Got A Car
  23. A Showman’s Life (with Faith Hill)
  24. Let’s Fall To Pieces Together (with Faith Hill)
  25. I Believe
  26. Blame It On Mexico
  27. Amarillo By Morning (with Alan Jackson)
  28. Murder On Music Row (with Alan Jackson)
  29. The Chair
  30. Give It All We Got Tonight
  31. How ‘Bout Them Cowgirls (with Miranda Lambert)
  32. Run (with Miranda Lambert)
  33. You Look So Good In Love
  34. I’ll Always Remember You
  35. Ocean Front Property (with Kenny Chesney)
  36. The Fireman (with Kenny Chesney)
  37. Troubadour
  38. Unwound
  39. All My Ex’s Live In Texas (with Jason Aldean, Ray Benson, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride)
  40. The Cowboy Rides Away

Along with its massive set list, Eagle Rock Entertainment has also included bonus commentary from Strait himself and the concert as well as interviews with many of the guests that appeared for the concert as additional content.

The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT&T Stadium will be released on Friday, August 28th in stores and online on DVD and digital formats. The DVD will retail for MSRP of $14.98. Details for its digital release’s pricing will be announced soon. 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.