OAS Releases Second Single, Preps For Upcoming Performances

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

Independent Southern California-based band Open Air Stereo released the second single this week.

The band’s new single, ‘Damned’ comes from the band’s 2013 debut album Primates.  The single is now playing on Sirius XM’s “The Pulse” channel right now.  Audiences can check out the lyric video for the band’s new single online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wamgO5IVcBM.  Devin DeHaven (Slash, R. Kelly, Rita Ora)directed the video.

Along with the release of its new single, Open Air Stereo is getting ready for a busy Spring and Summer tour schedule.  The band will be one of many bands performing at this year’s upcoming SXSW Festival.  It will also kick off a co-headlining tour with miggs and Man on Earth beginning Tuesday, March 25th in Jacksonville, Florida.  The band’s most current performance itinerary is listed below.

Check out OPEN AIR STEREO at any of the following stops, with more shows to be announced in the coming weeks:




Mon 3/10 Set.fm The Majestic/9pm

Tue 3/11 Jivewire The Rooftop/7:15pm

Wed 3/12 Red Gorilla The Thirsty Nickel/11pm

Wed 3/12 Jivewire Touche/6pm

Thu 3/13 In2une Music Shakespears/9pm

Fri 3/14 Jivewire Darwin’s Pub/2:30pm

Fri 3/14 Red Gorilla Handle Bar/10pm

Fri 3/14 KAMX Key Bar/TBA

With miggs and Man On Earth:

Tue 3/25 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits

Thu 3/27 Orlando, FL The Social

Sat 3/29 Tampa, FL Orpheum

Tue 4/1 Washington, DC Jammin’ Java

Wed 4/2 Philadelphia, PA Grape Room

Thu 4/3 New York, NY The Bowery Electric

Fri 4/4 Westport, CT Toquet Hall

Sun 4/6 Boston, MA Church

Thu 4/10 Pittsburgh, PA Club Café

Sat 4/12 Newport, KY Southgate House

Wed 4/16 Chicago, IL Elbo Room

Fri 4/18 Indianapolis, IN Rathskeller

Wed 4/23 Denver, CO Lost Lake Lounge

Thu 4/24 Salt Lake City, UT The Royal

Sat 4/26 Seattle, WA El Corazon

Sun 4/27 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre

Tue 4/29 Oakland, CA The New Parish

Thu 5/1 Los Angeles, CA Molly Malone’s

Sat 5/3 San Diego, CA Lestat’s Coffee House

Sun 5/4 Scottsdale, AZ Rogue Bar

More information on Open Air Stereo’s new single, album, performances and more is available online at http://www.openairstereo.com, http://www.facebook.com/OpenAirStereo, and http://twitter.com/OpenAirStereo.  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.

Indie Rapper 13’s Self-Titled Debut Shows He’s As Good As Any Mainstream Rapper

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

The self-titled debut from Puerto Rican born rapper William Morgan (A.K.A. 13) is the album that fellow rapper Eminem’s fans have wanted ever since the release of his 2004 album, Encore.  The follow-ups in Relapse and Recovery haven’t been met with quite the vigor from fans as his earlier works.  Enter 13, with his brand new self-titled release.  The eleven-song album from the once homeless military veteran is easily compared to music from the likes of Eminem.    If audiences were to hear this record without knowing it was the New York native, they would believe that it was in fact Eminem.  13’s self-titled debut sounds just like Eminem’s music both stylistically and lyrically.  Even 13 himself sounds quite like Mr. Mathers in terms of his voice and rhyming style.  The similarities between the two are inescapable, right from the moment that the album opens. 

The album’s opener, ‘Hi/Hello’ is quite the first introduction of 13 to his audiences.  And it is crafted much as Eminem has done on past records.  Until the moment that he introduces himself officially, letting people know who he is, audiences are led to believe that they are listening to Eminem.  It is said though, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Eminem would in fact be flattered by the fact that this artist sounds so much like him all the way around.  Thirteen doesn’t let up once throughout the course of the album’s eleven songs.  From one song to the next, each one is hard-hitting in its own way.  One of the hardest hitting of the album’s tracks is the song, ‘Houston We Have a Problem.”  Richy Nix guests on the track.  The song opens with the ominous strains of a piano.  The piano part stays on as 13 raps about his tough upbringing and of his adult life.  The picture he paints is one of a man that has so much turmoil in his life going all the way back to his childhood growing up around drugs and babies born to moms on drugs.  It’s a tough picture to see.  But it is definitely impactful in hearing this.

Just as powerful as ‘Houston We Have a Problem (ft. Richy Nix)’ is the album’s midway point, ‘Alter Ego.’  He writes about finding God despite everything that he has been through in life, and how he wishes he had that American dream of having a child and a wife.  He writes, “Hey what up/My life was never easy/Raised up in the ghetto/You would never wanna be me/I’m a product of an adult something crazy/See me rise up to the top/Then I promise/Best believe me/something I never know/Is why society is so cold….I had to slowly realize/That my pain is why I rise/Once I reach up to the top/Then I push the pain aside/What a life, what a life/Oh man, what a life/All I really want/A couple kids and a wife/That’s alright/It’s a battle/It’s a fight/Imma fight with all my might…forever hold on tight.”  As ominous as the song sounds, musically, it’s really quite the uplifting and inspiring piece that many people will understand and appreciate in their own way.  And it’s just one more part of what makes this album one that any hardcore rap fan will appreciate in whole.

Audiences will appreciate 13’s songs both for their music and for their hard-hitting lyrics.  There is not one bad song throughout the course of the album.  The music isn’t all that audiences will appreciate from this record.  The album’s production values are what make the music sound so good.  The mix of the piano parts, the occasional guitars and the beats is a very good touch.  No one part overpowers the other at any point throughout the album.  The same can be said of the vocals.  They are just as well balanced with the album’s other elements.  They all work together to make this an album that any purist rap fan will enjoy.  It serves to prove that just as with the world of rock music, indie rappers can be just as good as the big names.  13’s new self-titled debut is available now.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thirteen/id667109934.  And fans can keep up with the latest from 13 online at http://www.facebook.com/13isgodsend and http://newyork13.com

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.      


Open Air Stereo’s Debut A Surprisingly Solid First Impression

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

There are those who stand by the belief that the best comes to those who wait.  Don’t tell that to the members of Open Air Stereo.  This pop-rock four piece from Laguna Beach, CA has proven that waiting is only part of the game when it comes to being successful in any avenue of life.  The band has waited and worked for over a decade to get to where it is today.  The work and the wait was well worth it as it recently signed a deal with Goomba Music and released its full length debut, Primates through the label.  This record is another one of those releases that reminds individuals such as this critic as to why we do what we do.  The band’s pop-rock hybrid sound makes it quite the fit for any mainstream rock radio station and even any Top 40 radio station.  This is evident throughout the course of the eleven tracks on Primates, the band’s debut record.

Primates is an excellent first impression for the band on anyone that is new to its music.  It opens with a pair of songs in ‘Right’ and ‘Love is Blind’ that are prime examples of the band’s ability to fit in on any radio format.  ‘Right’ sounds like a hybrid mix of Jimmy Eat World and U2 with the vocals of front man Chase Johnson and guitars of Scott Pounds.  This song, given the proper support, would be a good fit for any Top 40 radio station’s lineup.  ‘Love is Blind’ on the other hand is edgier, making it more fitting for a mainstream rock station as would ‘Where Do We Go.’  It shows the band’s Foo Fighters influence. There are points in this song that sound like a mix of ‘Learn To Fly’ and ‘Best of You.’  It’s one of so many points throughout the record that will have listeners happily singing along.  It comes across as slightly introspective song, lyrically.  But what’s so interesting is that thanks to the song’s musical side, it doesn’t come across like so many songs of that ilk.  Rather it gives a more upbeat vibe to what are some deep thoughts.  Johnson sings in the song’s chorus, “Where do we go from here?/When are we gonna stop?/I wanna beat this crazy world/Before it falls apart/I need to know right now/What we’re all about/Cause we’re running out of time to waste.”  It’s a deep song.  But thankfully Johnson and company took the road less travelled and crafted a song that doesn’t come across as so many self-serving and overly emotional emo songs that have ever been written. 

Primates offers audiences so much to rejoice in with its mix of pop and rock sounds, as has already been illustrated.  The aforementioned songs are just part of the whole that makes this album a surprise hit.  Audiences will also enjoy ‘What You Want.’  Drummer Nick Gross’ beats combine with Pounds’ guitar work to make what is sure to be one of the highest of points throughout this record.  Johnson’s breezy vocal style here mixes with his band mates’ work to produce a song that sounds like a mix of 311 and perhaps certain other bands.  The thing with this—and other songs on this album–is that despite having a sound similar to other bands, OAS still manages to maintain its own identity without sounding like it’s ripping off any other band.  For that alone, the members of Open Air Stereo are to be applauded. 

Even after ‘What You Want’, the band keeps audiences engaged with ‘Living Proof’ and Your Way is My Way.’  This song was just as solid a way to close the album as ‘Right’ was to open it.  It exhibits something of a Buckcherry influence without sounding too much like that band, either.  And it will have audiences singing along and moving right to the song’s final notes.  The song ends perfectly, almost as if the band could use it as a show closer at its live performances.

Speaking of live performances, the band is currently on the road in support of Primates.  Fans in North Carolina will get their chance to check out the band live when it makes a stop at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem on Thursday, June 6th.  It will be in Kokomo, IN at Centerstage alongside Candlebox.  Fans can get a full listing of the band’s tour dates as well as the latest news and updates from the band when they “Like” the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OpenAirStereo.      

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.

Temple Of Thieves’ Debut One Of The Year’s Best Indie Records

Courtesy:  Goomba Music

Courtesy: Goomba Music

Temple Of Thieves’ debut full length album, Passing Through The Zer0s is one of the biggest surprise rock records of 2013.  This hard rocking four-piece has crafted in its debut record an album that is sure to get the attention of any rock radio station’s program director and audiences alike.  It’s eerie how much this band sounds like Tool.  Singer Michael Rock sounds just like Tool front man Maynard James Keenan.  And Rock’s band mates—Flo Mounier (drums), John Ehlers (guitars), and Chief Spires (bass)—each add to that feeling so much that if one were listening to T.O.T. on the radio and didn’t know it was them, one would think it was Tool, or Keenan’s other project, A Perfect Circle.

Right from the album’s opener, ‘In The Garden (Collecting Souls)’, audiences are pulled instantly into this album.  The band balances the song’s softer and heavier sections so expertly throughout that one can’t help but listen to hear what is coming next over its near six minute run time.  Rock’s vocals are just as hypnotic and powerful as Keenan’s throughout the song.  The solid bass line laid down by Spires and the haunting strains of Ehlers’ guitars in the song’s softer sections lull listeners into a false sense of security before the whole band launches into a full on assault that will blow listeners away in the noted heavier sections.  By the time the song’s final notes echo away, audiences will be hooked and eager to hear what is to come next.  Those audiences who wonder are rewarded with the equally heavy ‘Reaping.’

Rock doesn’t lose his Maynard James Keenan doppelganger vocals in ‘Reaper.’  However, listeners will notice a change of style in this song.  This time, audiences get an interesting Tool/Queensryche hybrid sound.  Again Spires and Ehlers shine, as does Mounier.  Right from the song’s intro, Ehlers shows his abilities once again, opting this time for more of a classic rock sound.  His solo hearkens back to rock’s golden age.  One can just see him point his guitar to the air, absolutely shredding the solo, even as short as it is.  And again, Mounier offers a solid backing to the band, keeping time while proving that he is just as talented as any of the biggest names in the drumming community.  He proves here and throughout the album that he can keep the band moving whether in the album’s bigger, more bombastic songs and in its seemingly more gentle moments, too.

The songs noted here comprise just a glance at everything that Temple of Thieves has to offer from its debut release.  The second half of Passing Through The Zer0s offers just as much enjoyment as the album’s first five tracks.  Listeners will enjoy songs such as: ‘Mr. Hixx’, the obviously ‘Sober’ inspired ‘Pull Me Under’ (not to be confused with Dream Theater’s song by the same name), and ‘Species.’  The latter of this trio of songs actually has a video that audiences can watch now via YouTube at http://youtu.be/reE0N1VMAeg.  The album will be available worldwide on Tuesday, May 7th.  And while no tour news has been announced yet, the band will likely be touring in support of the album.  To find out the latest tour news and more, fans can “Like” the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Temple-of-Thieves/163420943699857.  Fans can also Follow T.O.T. on the band’s official website, http://www.templeofthieves.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Templeofthieves

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.

TV Producer, Record Label Partner To Form New Company

Television producer Richard Dominick and Horizon Entertainment—parent company to indie record label Goomba Music –have announced that they have partnered to form a brand new company titled, Richard Dominick Entertainment Group.  The goal of the new company is to serve as a bridge between music and reality TV production.  The new company already has plans to start filming new full length movies this Spring.  Casting for the movies will take place at the company’s Detroit and Chicago offices.

Dominick, whose credits include Executive Producer of the truTV’s Hardcore Pawn, Executive Producer of The Jerry Springer Show from 1994 – 2008, and Creator and Executive Producer of The Steve Wilkos Show (2007) was clearly excited about the new partnership when interviewed.  “Working within another production house, sometimes leads itself to creative differences”, Dominick said.  “Now when there’s creative differences, I will only have to argue with myself – which is a good thing because my other personality is that of a small Filipino woman and I can take her…” “After so many years of working within the boundaries and limitations of other production companies”, he continues, “I now have what all producers dream of—creative freedom.  This company is a match made in Heaven, and if by chance we end up arguing amongst ourselves, it’ll make a great reality show.  I think when I changed The Jerry Springer Show from Phil Donahue to a show where everyone was welcome to come on the show and air their grievances, it was the beginning of “reality TV” and Springer became the number one show in syndication.  Now, Hardcore Pawn is truTV’s biggest hit. Expect this new company to continue and surpass those successes. 

Greg Wier, CEO of Horizon Entertainment and Goomba Music also shared his thoughts on the new partnership.  “We are thrilled to form this new company with Richard, joining our talents and utilizing our strengths to bring the world a new and exciting full service entertainment company.  By combining his successful track record in television with our accomplishments as an independent record company that has worldwide distribution, the possibilities for new entertainment ventures are endless.  We have a lot of new plans for movies, television, series and record releases that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Goomba Music is home to Brand New Sin, Open Air Stereo, Scum of the Earth, Temple of Thieves and hip-hop artist, A.N.T.  The company originally formed in 2011 and has already released records from Soil, Dark New Day, Pro-Pain, and Puddle of Mudd.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 get the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Another Bright New Day Coming For Dark New Day

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment, Inc.

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment, Inc.

Tuesday, February 19th will be a bright new day for fans of Dark New Day.  That’s because on that day, the band’s long in limbo sophomore album will finally see the “light of day” (ba-dump-bump-bump).  Get it?  Yeah, bad joke.  But in all seriousness, the long wait for this album will have been well worth it.  In comparison to the music on the band’s other pair of releases, this album definitely has its own sound.  Nearly every one of the songs on Hail Mary could be used as a radio single.  Though, it seems most well anchored by at least three songs in particular.  Those songs are: ‘Anywhere’, ‘Saddest Song’, and ‘Fiend.’  Though there are other powerhouse pieces in the likes of the album’s opener and closer, ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Give Me the World.’

Musically, the album opens in powerhouse fashion with ‘Goodbye.’  It’s rather fitting that the band opens the album with a song titled, ‘Goodbye.’  Sure, the song is centered on the standard relationship topic—front man Brett Hestla sings, “It feels so good when I say it/Goodbye to you”—but the musicality of the song makes it a great way for the band to say “hello” to its fans and the whole rock community once again.  There’s a definite influence from the band’s counterparts in Sevendust here.  Hestla’s screams will immediately conjure thoughts of the combination of Morgan Rose and Lajon Witherspoon when he really lets loose.  It has that same sort of vibe.  And obviously being that one of the members of Sevendust and his equally famous brother are also in DND, it’s no wonder that the guitar parts are so similar to that of Sevendust, too.  Drummer Will Hunt holds his own on the drums, too adding in the extra flairs and fills wherever and whenever needed.

Dark New Day couldn’t have picked a better way to say hello to listeners than with ‘Goodbye.’  Even as one song ends, the band keeps its audiences’ ears as it launches into another of the album’s hits in ‘Anywhere.’  The energy exploding from the band expertly helps to illustrate the song’s lyrical side.  Hestla sings of what seems to be the hope for love here as he sings, “If your mind is open/There’s so much we can do/I can almost see the stars aligning/Just say yeah/I’m gonna take you anywhere/I want to go/I’m gonna make you want me/So keep on going.”  This is obviously someone who knows what he wants, and he won’t stop until he gets it.  It comes across as someone who is determined to win over a certain someone.  That is of course just one person’s thoughts on this song.  It could easily be something totally opposite of that.  But that combination of optimistic lyrics and equally moving musical backing make this just one more of so many hits off of this long-awaited LP.

Dark New Day’s “new” LP offers plenty of material that its fan base will enjoy throughout the course of its eleven tracks.  As noted already there are at least two specifically early on in the record that will have no problem becoming fan favorites.  There is at least one more that fans will appreciate just as much for both its lyrical and musical sides.  That song is ‘Fiend.’  The album’s penultimate piece, it offers what would seem quite the positive, uplifting message of perseverance, lyrically.  Hestla wastes no time sending his message to listeners.  The pounding intro combination of drummer Will Hunt and the guitars set the tone for the song.  Hestla then comes in singing, “I’m taking/taking my chances/To get myself over/I can’t let/Constant disaster/Pull me under/I’ve waited for so long/How can I go wrong.” There’s no doubt left as the band launches into the second verse, with Hestla sings, “My will/And my resolution/Are not to be broken/I’m moving/Myself to a new place/Where truth can be spoken.”  The uplifting, positive lyrical and musical vibe of this song shows outright why it not only is a great song, but it is also one of the album’s best songs if not the best.  And regardless of the listener, odds are it will also become just one of many fan favorites both on the record and in a live setting.  Fans will get to hear this song and the album’s other instant hit tracks when the album is released to stores and online outlets Tuesday, February 19th.  While the band doesn’t have any shows lined up just yet, fans can get all the latest tour dates and more in the mean time when they’re announced on the band’s official Facebook and MySpace pages, http://www.facebook.com/theDakNewDay and http://www.myspace.com/darknewday

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.

Pro-Pain Adds Itself To The Year’s Best List With Its New LP

Courtesy: Goomba Music

Pro-Pain’s new album, “Straight To The Dome” is pure, pro rock.  This veteranNew Yorkbased hardcore act is as loud and brutal as ever on its thirteenth full length studio release.  Hatebreed being out on the road, touring, Pro-Pain does an excellent job filling in with a brand new album that is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the year’s best rock/metal records. 

“Straight To The Dome” opens with pure hardcore ferocity in its title track and refuses to look back with even the slightest fleeting glance.  The title track is a blistering, defiant song that comes across very much in the style of Hatebreed, lyrically.  Vocalist/bassist Gary Meskil (who looks eerily like wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin—which means this reviewer would not want to make him mad) seems to be speaking of standing up to anyone who would try to kick a person down.  He and the band sing, “He’s coming back for more/he said/you’re no friend of mine/don’t cross that line/right now you need to stop.”  It really comes across as a song that emphasizes self empowerment and not letting people get you down.  That could very well be an incorrect interpretation.  That is just this critic’s opinion.  It may not be the longest song on this album.  But it is one of the album’s best, and a perfect re-introduction to this veteran hardcore band.

The band doesn’t let up even the slightest bit after the album’s opener/title track.  Right after that song, the band launches into an equally scathing song in ‘Payback.’  Meskil writes in this song, “Took for granted all the things that you’ve got/protected/neglected/any food for thought/your shallow/your narrow world’s closing in/ever so quickly/as payback begins/Goodbye!/Farewell!/You get on my nerves/In the end/You get what you deserve!.”   Meskil and his band mates go on in the song’s chorus, “Payback!/for how you act!/Payback!/You get what you deserve!”  The band leaves little room for guessing here.  The scathing lyrical attack combined with the equally pummeling music makes this one more of so many greats on this record.

In another of the album’s numerous hit tracks, the band has what seems something of an anti-war song in ‘Bloodlust for War.’  Meskil writes in this song, “shattered lives/are left in ruins/with no one left at all/to pick up the pieces/nobody’s at a loss/desensitized/who would’ve thought?/war is in the air/and we couldn’t care less.  The song goes on in very similar fashion, lyrically.  It may not be the first anti-war song ever written.  But it definitely is hard hitting.  It even touches on how soldiers are taught to become killing machines, as he writes, “Lord please take away the pain/so I’ll be free to kill again/cause that is what I live for.”  The message here is clear to say the least.

Whether it be the seeming protest song that is ‘Bloodlust for War’, ‘Payback’ or even the pummeling opener that is the album’s title track, Pro-Pain’s new album is one that long time fans of this band will love, and new fans will love just as much, if not more.  And it’s one more album that any true metal head will love both for its music and its no nonsense lyrics that epitomize all that’s right with the hardcore genre.  Simply put, “Straight To The Dome” will hit straight to the core for every true purist metal head out there.  It is without a doubt, one of the best metal/rock albums of 2012. 

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.