‘Backyard Bop’ Will Have Any Listener Dancing Along

Courtesy: Red Yarn Productions

The wait is officially over for family music act Red Yarn’s new album.  Red Yarn (a.k.a. Andy Furgeson) is scheduled to release his new album Backyard Bop Friday through his own independent label Red Yarn Productions.  The 12-song album – his sixth album – is yet another presentation that the whole family will enjoy.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, each of which will receive its own attention in examining the album.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Backyard Bop yet another successful offering from Red Yarn that is also an easy contender for its own spot on this year’s list of new family music albums.

Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording Backyard Bop is a fun musical celebration that listeners of all ages will enjoy.  That is thanks in part to the record’s collective musical arrangements.  The album continues to present the country music sounds exhibited in his 2018 album Old Barn, but adds more to the mix this time out.  The up-tempo, guitar-driven arrangement at the center of the album’s opener is one of those songs that shows that growth.  It throws back to the rockabilly sounds that were so popular during the 1950s with that guitar line, and equally infectious piano line.  The whole lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.  ‘Jump For Joy,’ the album’s second song, continues the noted Americana/rockabilly sense with its guitar-centered arrangement.  What’s interesting here is that the arrangement is more of a modern sound, though the vintage influence is just as audible.  ‘Lazy Tonight,’ the album’s midpoint entry, immediately lends itself to a comparison to works from the late great Dr. John through its laid back Cajun-infused arrangement.  The use of the organ (likely a Hammond organ) and the drums builds the arrangement’s foundation.  It’s just one more enjoyable way in which this album’s musical side shows the noted growth this time out.  Keeping its impact in mind along with that of the other songs noted here and those in the rest of the album’s arrangements, the musical side of Red Yarn’s new album proves to be its own clear positive to the record.  It is just one of the album’s most notable elements.  The album’s lyrical themes add their own share of appeal to the LP’s presentation.

The lyrical themes that are featured throughout Backyard Bop are even more varied than the album’s musical arrangements.  From approaching the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic in ‘My Own Backyard’ and ‘Outside My Window’ to promoting community involvement and unity in ‘Town Hall’ to celebrating the joy of community and play in ‘Neighborhood Park’ and more, the lyrical themes featured throughout this album offer plenty for listeners to appreciate.  Considering the impact of the COVID-19 impact on people’s mental health, the noted songs are crucial additions to the album.  Furgeson sings in ‘Outside My Window’ about the pleasures of just watching nature and of being with one’s loved ones.  He never comes out and directly mentions the virus, but it has previously been stated that the song does focus on the topic.  That the song is about the virus, but never comes out and makes mention of the matter makes it all the more appealing.  In the same vein, ‘My Own Backyard’ encourages kids to go outside and use their imaginations as they play in their own backyards.  Once again, Furgeson never comes out and makes any mention of COVID-19, which is wonderful.  That lack of mention means that children won’t have to think about it.  Rather, they will think he is just promoting a familiar topic – that of play and using one’s imagination.  Furgeson and his fellow musicians are to be highly commended again for taking this approach.

On a slightly similar note, the lyrical theme at the center of ‘Lazy Tonight’ will uplift listeners of all ages in its own right.  This song is about the joy of just having a movie night in, rather than going out and spending money at the theater.  He sings about watching a movie, enjoying snacks like candy and cookies, and putting off responsibilities until the next day.  The lighthearted lyrics work with the song’s equally relaxed musical arrangement to make the song that much more enjoyable for the whole family.  It also serves to show why the song’s lyrical content is another prime example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, but certainly not the last.  ‘Town Hall Meeting’ is one more example of that importance.

‘Town Hall Meeting’ is set against the backdrop of, as the title notes, a town hall meeting.  The citizens are there as are town officials of an unnamed town.  Everybody has a concern to voice, but it is all done politely.  He even sings, “You can have your own opinion/Just let me have mine/It ain’t always ‘bout winnin’/But it’s all about tryin’, yeah/So keep on trying ya’ll.”  He stresses in the song’s final lines, “We may be disagreein’/But our hearts are beating/At the town hall meeting.”  Simply put, this is a song that encourages people to try to be kind even despite our different views on things.  Considering that so much discussion at meetings (and online) has become little more than a war of words with, this is a message that adults need just as much as children if not more so.  Considering that here is another example of who this album will connect with grown-ups just as much as children.  When it is considered with the other lyrical themes discussed here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, that aspect of the album in whole proves why the album’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical content.

The overall content featured in Red Yarn’s new album is undeniably important separately and collectively.  That has already been pointed out here.  For all that the overall content does for the album’s presentation, it is just one overall part of what makes the album work as well as it does.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  As has already been noted, Backyard Bop opens on an energetic note in its rockabilly style opener/title track.  Throughout the course of its 38-minute run time, the album rises and falls at all of the right points in terms of its energy.  The record’s first four songs exhibit a relatively stable energy.  ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Lazy Tonight’ serve well in breaking up the album, keeping things interesting before giving way to the more slightly up-tempo ‘Critters in my Garden.’  The record pulls back again immediately after in ‘Around This Town.’  The ups and downs continue from that point before finishing out gently in ‘Someone To Love.’  The end result of all of the clearly thought out changes in the album’s energy is a presentation that succeeds just as much for this aspect as for its overall content.  When all three elements are considered together ,the end result is an overall presentation that earns its own place among the year’s top new family music albums just as much as the year’s other top albums in said genre.

Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording is yet another success for the seasoned family entertainer.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements build on those featured in the album’s predecessor, Old Barn, giving listeners a little of what is in that album while also presenting something more unique.  The album’s lyrical themes are even more diverse than its musical arrangements.  They cover topics, such as community engagement and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that is accessible to children and adults alike.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make this record another positive offering from Red Yarn and another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.

More information on Red Yarn’s new single and album is available along with all of Red Yarn’s latest news at:






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Upon A Burning Body’s New EP Is Will Continue To “Build” The Band’s Name And Reputation

Courtesy: Seek & Strike

Hard rock band Upon a Burning Body is, it would seem, one of the hardest working bands in the hard rock community today.  Having formed approximately 15 years ago (which is not that long ago in music industry years), the band has released five albums and one EP.  The longest stretch that the band has gone between new albums is three years, which came between the band’s fourth album Straight From the Barrio (2016) and its fifth album Southern Hostility (2019).  Each of those albums has enjoyed its own level of success in terms of charting.  The band shortened its time between new records again this week with the release of its second ever EP Built From War.  The five-song record was released Friday through Seek & Strike Records – its second studio recording for the independent label.  The 17-minute record is a work that the band’s established fan base will appreciate jut as much as metalcore and metal fans in general.  That is thanks to its musical and lyrical content, as is evidenced in part by the EP’s first two songs, ‘5X3’ and ‘Built From War.’  Each song will be addressed here, along with the EP’s penultimate song ‘Living for the Weekend.’  All three songs do their own part to make this record work as well as it does.  When they are considered with the EP’s two remaining songs — ‘Chains of Agony’ and ‘Extermination’ – the whole makes Built From War an EP that is built for success.

Upon A Burning Body’s latest studio recording Built From War is a strong new offering from the band, which has already made quite the impact on the metal community in such a short time.  That is due to its musical and lyrical content, each of which is accessible in its own way.  The EP’s opener, ‘5X3’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  This song’s arrangement is a full-on assault on the ears, but in the best way possible.  It is a blues-infused heavy metal opus that wastes no time grabbing listeners by the ear with its heavy, driving guitars, time-keeping, vocals and bass.  The immediate thought that comes to mind in listening to the song’s musical arrangement is a work that takes the best elements of Hatebreed and Lamb of God and combines them into one whole for a work that will keep listeners’ adrenaline peaked.  That adrenaline is heightened through the social commentary that is clearly presented through the song’s lyrical content.

The social commentary in question is a statement about people’s obsessions with celebrity and fame in general.  This is pointed out in the song’s lead verse and chorus, through which front man Danny Leal screams, “Nothing’s free in this world motherf*****/This life is not what you see on your screen/Your 5×3 reality/Before you double tap on what you wish you could be/Understand it might not be what you think/You want it so bad/But you don’t know what it means/There’s no turning back/Once you’re in too deep/Can you handle it/Here’s the cold hearted truth/Only craving the money the power the fame will never satisfy you.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “This life is not just the views from the top/Because the higher your head gets the faster you’ll drop.”  This applies just as much to people’s obsession with celebrities and wanting to be famous as to wanting to be famous through YouTube and internet in general.  Given, this is hardly the first time that any band has ever take on the topic of people’s obsession with fame and celebrity, but it is no less gripping here as from any other act from across the musical universe.  When it is considered along with the fire in the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes just one of the EP’s most notable entries.  The record’s title track stands on its own merits.

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Built From War’ is a full on thrash/groove composition that will keep listeners just as engaged and entertained as ‘5X3.’  The powerhouse guitars and time keeping works with the bass line and vocals to once again present that Hatebreed-meets-Lamb of God type of sound.  Even more to its credit is that the arrangement is not just a rehashing of 5X3.  It is its own, unique musical presentation that audiences will appreciate just as much as that song.  That pummeling musical arrangement is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content partners well with that merciless musical arrangement.

The song’s lyrical is a fist-pump-inducing statement that encourages listeners to defy all obstacles.  That message is made clear in the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Leal screams, “Are you the strongest of them all/Cross the lines of fate/Wipe the blood from your face/Forged in the heart of the fire/Fueled from failure/Made for more/Built from war.”  It is strengthened even more in the song’s second verse as he notes, “The power remains/The blood fueling rage/Don’t turn away/To rise you must fall/Tell me do you have the strength within you to be the strongest of them all.”  It is cemented in the song’s third and fourth verses, “Start the battle and end the war/Strength is the only way out/To be the strongest of them all/What are you built from/Are you the strongest of them all/Strength is the only way out/To be the strongest of them all.”  Again, little to no doubt is left here as to the song’s uplifting message.  It is a message of self-determination and strength.  When that welcome message is coupled with the song’s equally powerful musical arrangement, the result is a work that holds its own just as much as ‘5X3.’  It is just one more way in which the EP shines.  ‘Living for the Weekend’ is yet another song that makes the EP stand out.

‘Living for the Weekend’ stands out in part because of its own musical arrangement.  This song is not a cover of Fitz & The Tantrums’ song by the same name.  It just so happens that both songs have the same title, and while each is enjoyable in its own right, each is its own work.  It also is not a cover the song from The O’Jays, which is its own song, too.  Ironically, the song’s lyrical content is very similar in its approach, with the song’s lead verse stating, “Roll up your sleeves/And strap on them boots/Clocking in and out/It’s the work week blues/Got mouths to feed and bills to pay/All work, no play/Long days/They’re all the same/The f*****’ boss don’t even know my name/This 9-5/Gotta leave it behind/or break your f****** back/And keep your a** in line.”  The song’s chorus adds, “Thin lines, I’m walking all the time/F*** these deadlines/leave ‘em all behind/Hell yeah/All my worries are gone/With the music loud/And the grill’s on/Hell yeah, living for the weekend.”  The song continues on in similar fashion from there in its second and third verses, with the song’s subject lamenting about dealing with each day of the work week and needing a break.”  It’s a bit of a touchy subject right now considering how many thousands of people are out of work as a result of COVID-19, wishing they had a job, but it is still a song that will connect with its own share of listeners.  To that point, this and the song’s heavy, blues-based Hellyeah type arrangement make it stand out even more.  Keeping this in mind along with the impact of the other songs noted here and the EP’s other two songs not directly addressed, the whole of the EP proves itself a powerhouse presentation from Upon a Burning Body.  It makes Built From War a presentation that is built for success.

Upon a Burning Body’s new EP Built From War is a strong new presentation from the band.  It is one more example of why this band has remained so successful even despite being clearly one of the hard rock and metal community’s hardest working bands.  It shows this band is still running full steam ahead and is aimed to be one of the next leaders in the current generation of hard rock and metal bands.  That is evidenced through the EP’s musical and lyrical content, as the songs examined here show.  When those songs are considered along with the EP’s two songs not discussed, the whole of the record – the band’s seventh studio recording overall – proves itself a work that will continue to build the band’s name and reputation.  It is available now.  More information on the EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:




Website: http://www.uponaburningbody.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/uabb




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Yep Roc Records’ New Benefit Record Can And Likely Will Succeed In Its Aim

Courtesy: Yep Roc Records

Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC has hosted countless acts over the course of its 50 years in business, but its future is now in doubt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Its closure meant the cancellation of its entire concert schedule, leading to trouble paying the rent and basic overhead costs.  In response, many of the North Carolina bands that have gone on to national (and even global) fame since their days performing at Cat’s Cradle have come together for a benefit compilation meant to raise money for the famed venue.  The compilation, Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle, was released Friday through Yep Roc Records.  The 25-song collection is a widely appealing presentation that will connect just as much with fans of Americana and southern rock as it will to those with an appreciation of pop music.  That is proven through the acts and songs featured throughout the compilation.  This will be addressed shortly.  The performances of the noted songs by the featured North Carolina acts adds to the record’s appeal.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle a work whose own music is sure to help keep the music alive at its beneficiary club.

Yep Roc Records’ new benefit record Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is sure to benefit the famed local music venue, an greatly at that.  That is proven in part through the acts and songs that are featured in the 25-song presentation.  They range from a cover of The Go-Gos’ Can’t Stop The World’ by Superchunk, to an updated take of Buffalo Springfield’s timeless protest song ‘For What It’s Worth’ by Faith Jones, to a cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Every Night’ by Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin’ Team and so much more, the compilation runs the gamut on genres and acts.  There is even a cover of Madonna’s ‘Dress You Up’ next to Beck’s ‘Think I’m In Love’ along with a pair of Neil Young covers to add to the presentation.  Again, what listeners get here is an extensive list of covers of songs from a wide range of well-known acts.  The covers in question are unique takes on the noted songs by acts that are well-known in their own right and others who are building their reputations quite well.  That aspect alone makes for its own reason for audiences to take in this record.  It is just one of the aspects that makes the compilation worth hearing.  The acts’ performances of the respective covers add their own hare of interest and appeal to the record.

The performances in question are of note because while they largely stay true to their source material, they give the songs their own unique updates.  Case in point is the noted update on Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth.’  The original song is well-known by audiences of all ages.  It is a very subdued composition.  That reserved nature and feeling was used intentionally so as to heathen the feeling of the song’s subject as he/she looked around at everything happening in the world at the time.  Faith Jones’ update is less subdued and reserved than its source material.  It is not more energetic than said song.  It is however, still impacting in its own right.  The use of the pedal to give it a sort of funk vibe plays into its infectious nature.  The addition of the slide guitar alongside that element gives the song a bit of a country vibe.  Those two elements serve well to play into the song’s bigger message of unity, what with the genres begin so different yet coming together.  The overall energy level through the arrangement plays alongside the music to help translate the emotion in the continued message of that need for unity and hope even with everything going down.  The whole is a work that is one of the compilation’s highest points.  It is just one of the ways in which the record’s featured performances prove important to its presentation.  Mandolin Orange’s take of Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather’ is another way in which the performances stand out.

Bob Dylan’s original song is a timeless song of lost love in its own right.  To say that it is a deeply emotional work is a powerful statement in its own right, what with Dylan’s minimalist approach to the song musically and lyrically.  It is just Dylan by himself singing and strumming his guitar.  Mandolin Orange takes that deeply emotional impact and builds on it.  The duo – Andrew Marlin and Emily Franz – offer audiences a composition here, that is even more reserved than Dylan’s original work.  The guitar work is noticeably slower in the act’s take on the song than in Dylan’s original.  What is so important to note though, is that even with the increased emotional approach, the duo doesn’t let itself go over the top.  Rather, the pair, with its violin and guitar, make it just as powerful as Dylan did with his work if not more so.  It would have been so easy for Marlin and Franz to go over the top, but that never once happens.  The result is, again, a work that pays wonderful tribute to its source material while introducing successfully, for a whole new generation of listeners.  It is yet another way in which the compilation’s performances prove important to its whole.  Chatham County Line’s over of Beck’s ‘Think I’m in Love’ is one more example of what makes the record worth hearing.

Beck’s original song ‘Think I’m In Love’ is a stark contrast to that of Chatham County Line’s cover of said song and vice versa.  Beck’s work is a funky, upbeat composition that exudes well, a person’s thought of, well, being in love.  That is the case even with the subtleties in its guitar line and beat.  CCL’s take on the song meanwhile, is even lighter than its source material.  The light, bluegrass approach that the group uses is an approach for which the band has come to be known throughout its life.  The subdued use of the mandolin and percussion alongside the vocals gives the song a whole new identity here that is certain to engage listeners in its own right.  Together with the other noted performances and those not directly addressed, the performances in whole give audiences just as much engagement as the featured songs and acts.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still one more item to address in examining the compilation, its sequencing.

The sequencing of Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is important to address because of the impact that this aesthetic element has on the record’s general effect.  As the genre styles change from one to the next, the album also manages to keep its overall energy stable throughout.  The crests and troughs are places at all of the right places from one to the next.  Case in point is the first handful of the record’s featured songs.  The record’s energy starts high in its opener, Superchunk’s cover of The Go-Gos’ ‘Can’t Stop The World.’  From there, the energy pulls back immediately in Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ cover of Cigarettes After Sex’ ‘Apocalypse.’  The energy gradually builds back over the course of the next two songs before pulling back again in the Steep Canyon Rangers’ cover of Neil Young’s ‘Unknown Legend.’  The album pulls back even more in its energy immediately after in Skylar Gudasz and Erich Bachmann’s cover of The Everly Brothers’ timeless hit ‘All I Have To Do is Dream.’  This song stays true to its source material, but at the same time, is much slower than the original in terms of its tempo.  The noted rise and fall happens again over the course of the next two songs before quickly shifting gears again in The Love Language’s cover of Teenage Fanclub’s song ‘Everything Changes.’  The rises and falls in the album’s energy continue throughout the record from there, with each happening at the right places and rates of change.  Keeping this in mind, the album’s sequencing clearly proves pivotal in its own way to the whole of its presentation.  When it is considered along with the record’s featured songs and acts, and performances, the whole of the compilation becomes a work that holds its own against it counterparts in this year’s already vast sea of covers compilations.

Yep Roc Records’ new covers compilation Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is a positive offering from the independent label.  It is a work that is certain to make plenty of noise as it helps save a venue that has helped Cat’s Cradle create its own noise over the years.  That is due in part to the songs and acts that are featured throughout the collection.  Regardless of listeners’ familiarity with the acts, this aspect is certain to generate its own share of engagement and entertainment among audiences.  The performances of the featured covers will generate its own interest for the collection, as has been noted.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  All three noted elements are key in their own way to the whole of this collection.  All things considered they make Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle a presentation that is sure to help keep the music coming at Cat’s Cradle thanks to its own music.  The collection is available now.

The track listing for Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is noted below.

Cover Charge Track Listing:

  1. Superchunk – “Can’t Stop the World” (The Go-Go’s)
  2. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – “Apocalypse” (Cigarettes After Sex)
  3. Hiss Golden Messenger and Jonathan Wilson – “Travellin’ in Style” (Free)
  4. The dB’s – “I’m on an Island” (The Kinks)
  5. Steep Canyon Rangers – “Unknown Legend” (Neil Young)
  6. Eric Bachmann & Skylar Gudasz – “All I Have to Do is Dream” (The Everly Brothers)
  7. The Connells – “Keep Your Distance” (Richard Thompson)
  8. Mandolin Orange – “Boots of Spanish Leather” (Bob Dylan)
  9. The Love Language – “Everything Flows” (Teenage Fanclub)
  10. Dex Romweber (feat. Jennifer Curtis) – “A Face in the Crowd” (Andy Griffith)\
  11. Tift Merritt – “Help Me Make It Through The Night”  (Kris Kristofferson)
  12. The Old Ceremony – “Alone Again Or” (Love)
  13. Mayflies USA – “There is a Light that Never Goes Out” (The Smiths)
  14. The Mountain Goats – “The Longest Winter” (Paradise Lost)
  15. Faith Jones – “For What It’s Worth” (Buffalo Springfield)
  16. Mipso – “Long Distance Love” (Little Feat)
  17. Terry Anderson and The Olympic-Ass Kickin Team – “Every Night” (Paul McCartney)
  18. Florence Dore – “Somewhere Down the Line” (Marshall Crenshaw)
  19. Southern Culture on the Skids – “Let’s Work Together” (Canned Heat)
  20. Iron & Wine – “Piss Diary” (Kingsbury Manx)
  21. Mount Moriah – “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” (Neil Young)
  22. Sam Melo of Rainbow Kitten Surprise – “Stars” (Janis Ian)
  23. Don Dixon & Marti Jones – “Respoken” (The Lovin Spoonful)
  24. Chatham County Line – “Think I’m in Love” (Beck)
  25. The Veldt – “Dress You Up” (Madonna)

More information on Cover ChargeNC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle is available at https://www.facebook.com/CoverChargeMusic.

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

Audiences Will Enjoy The Musical Journey Offered By Klezmer-ish In Its New Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Great things can and often do come in the most unexpected places.  Musical collective Klezmer-ish is proof of that statement.  Having originally met while serving with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the group released its debut album in 2016.  The album, Music of the Travellers, is a celebration of cultural diversity, including that of its own members, who come from their own unique background.  The group followed up that record Friday with its sophomore album Dusty Road.  Released through Riverboat Records, the 12-song, mostly instrumental album is a presentation that World Music fans will find appealing.  That is because as the group’s name infers, the group’s music is not limited to just the Jewish musical tradition.  Rather, the 56-minute record reaches into the American influence on the style to add to its appeal.  Case in point is the group’s take on the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  This song will be addressed shortly.  The most notable of the full-on klezmer style work comes right in the song’s outset in ‘The Klezmer’s Freilach.’  It will be discussed a little later.  The album’s title track, which closes out its run, is yet another way in which the album shows its appeal.  When it is considered with the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s presentation, the whole of the album becomes a presentation that will appeal to any World Music aficionado.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a successful new effort from the up-and-coming World Music collection that fans of the genre are certain to appreciate.  That is because despite the group’s name, its new album is not limited to just the noted style of music.  The quartet also leans into the jazz realm in its new album while also maintaining the klezmer influences in the process.  That is most obvious in the group’s take of the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  One of only two full compositions in this record to feature a vocal performance, this song takes the European influence of the klezmer style and crosses that with a touch of old Benny Goodman big band style approach for a whole arrangement that is one of the most unique and enjoyable takes on the classic Chris Smith/Sterling Grant work to ever be recorded.  The gentle, flowing clarinet work of Thomas Verity works with Rob Shepley’s work on the guitar to make the whole a work that will take listeners back to the shimmering social clubs of the 1930s that lit up the nights.  The same can be said of the equally gentle vocal delivery in this song.  The whole is a work that blends the two unique noted musical styles for one whole that is unquestionably one of the album’s strongest entries.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  The record’s opener, ‘The Klezzmer’s Freilach’ is another strong addition to the album.

‘The Klezmer’s Freilach’ stands on its own merits as it is a direct tribute to the dances that members of the Jewish community danced – and dance to this day – at celebrations, such as holidays and mitvahs.  The joy that must be experienced at those dances is so well translated throughout this song.  It starts off slow, but builds quickly, delivering so much energy and positive sense.  One can almost visualize the people dancing, and then resetting at the song’s midpoint before their feet start moving all over again.  Shepley and Verity once again shine here in their own right while accordion player Cocettina Del Vecchio adds her own touch through her performance.  Double bassist Marcel Becker ensures the song’s tempo is maintained through his own work, too.  The group’s dynamic control throughout the composition makes for so much engagement and enjoyment.  The end result of the group’s performance is a strong opener for the album, and another example of what makes the album such an enjoyable overall presentation.  The record’s title track, which closes it out, is one more of its strong points.

‘Dusty Road’ is the second of the album’s two only full compositions that also boasts a vocal line.  It’s hard to know which member of the quartet leads the way with this track.  That is because all four members of the group contribute so much to this song.  The vocals combine with the instrumentation to conjure thoughts of Nat King Cole at times.  The instrumentation meanwhile once again adds that klezmer influence through the use of the accordion and clarinet while the guitar line adds more of a jazz sense to the song.  At the same time, the clarinet could be argued to exhibit its own jazz sense along with that klezmer influence.  Regardless, it can be said that this song brings listeners the best of both worlds once again and balances them expertly.  The result is a composition that is just as engaging and entertaining as the album’s other songs, including the others discussed here.  When all of the songs are considered together, they make Dusty Road a musical road that any listener will enjoy traveling.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a positive new offering from the up-and-coming World Music act.  That is because the album’s arrangements once again bring listeners elements of klezmer music and other musical styles.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support that statement.  The album’s other tracks could support that statement just as easily.  All things considered, the musical journey on which Dusty Road takes listeners is a trip that audiences will enjoy from beginning to end.  Dusty Road is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s news at:




Website: http://klezmerish.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/klezmer_ish




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John 5, Tommy Lee Join Tyla Yaweh Saturday For Pre-Game Performance on ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

John 5 is joining forces with ESPN and the National Basketball Association to celebrate the NBA’s return.

The guitarist will join Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee Saturday to perform with up-and-coming rapper Tyla  Yaweh Saturday for a live online performance to kick off the NBA’s return on ESPN.  The performance, scheduled to take place at 5:10 p.m. ET prior to ESPN’s digital pre-game show Hoop Streams presented by Google, will stream through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and the ESPN app.

John 5 talked about working with Tyla Yaweh and Tommy Lee for Saturday’s virtual performance, saying he was looking forward to it.

“I have a long time friendship with Tommy Lee and we have worked on some really great music together,” he said. “I really love how the remix turned out and loved working with new friends Tyla and Post Malone. I love this song and I’m proud to be a part of this.”

Which remix John 5 is referencing in his statement is unknown.  It was not directly addressed in a news release distributed about the performance.

Hoop Streams presented by Google debuts tonight and runs for five episodes through Aug. 3.  Cassidy Hubarth will host the July 31 broadcast, which is scheduled to broadcast at 6 p.m. ET from ESPN’s studios.  She will be joined by analyst and NBA Champion Kendrick Perkins and fellow ESPN NBA analyst Amin Elhassan remotely for additionally commentary.

The broadcast team for each Hoop Streams presented by Google is noted below.


Hoop Streams schedule July 31-August 3



Fri, July 31



Sat, Aug. 1



Sat, Aug. 1



Mon, Aug. 3



Mon, Aug. 3

Time (ET)

6-6:30 p.m.



5:30-6 p.m.



8-8:30 p.m.



6-6:30 p.m.



8:30-9 p.m.


Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins, Amin Elhassan


Christine Williamson, Omar Raja, Gary Striewski


Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins, Amin Elhassan


Christine Williamson, Omar Raja, Gary Striewski


Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins, Amin Elhassan


ESPN’s NBA coverage tips off at 7 p.m. with the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks facing off at 6:30 p.m. ET.

All of John 5 and The Creatures’ latest news and more is available at:






More information on ESPN’s NBA coverage is available along with all of the league’s latest headlines at:






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Every Other Year Debuts ‘Ghosts’ Video

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group/Every Other Year

Independent pop punk band Every Other Year debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Ghosts‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from the band’s forthcoming debut album Remember When.  The band debuted the album’s lead single/video ‘The Look In Your Eyes‘ May 15.

The musical arrangement at the center of the song is a familiar, guitar-driven composition and will appeal to a wide range of pop punk fans.  The song’s lyrical theme, on another hand, delivers a message of hope to listeners, according to the band.

“We wrote this song about sticking up for yourself. Not letting life or people get the better of you,” the band said in a prepared statement.

‘Ghosts’ is available to stream and download through Spotify and Apple Music.

More information on Every Other Year’s new single and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:


Website: http://www.everyotheryear.band

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EOYband


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

Ellefson Debuts New Compilation’s Lead Single; Unveils Initial Track Listing

Courtesy: Combat Records

Audiences got their first preview of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s new eponymous rock project this week.

The band — Ellefson (bass), Thom Hazaert (vocals), Andy Martongelli (guitar), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), and Paolo Caridi (drums) — released the song ‘Wasted‘ Friday.  The song, a cover of the Def Leppard song, is the lead single from the group’s debut record, No Cover.

Ellefson’s cover of ‘Wasted’ features guest appearances from Frank Hannon (Tesla), Jacob Bunton (Mick Mars, Lynam), and Dave McClain (Ex-Machine Head, Sacred Reich).

The famed names featured on ‘Wasted’ are just some of well-known musicians and performers who make appearances on this record.  Also lending their talents to the album are equally well-known figures, such as Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Al Jourgensen (Ministry) and Gus G. (Firewind).

Along with debuting its lead single, Ellefson has also unveiled the initial track listing for No Cover.  The initial listing opens with a cover of Judas Priest’s timeless hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ and also features covers of songs such as AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff,’ Queen’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell.’

The album’s initial track listing is noted below.  Two tracks are still TBA. Pre-orders are open now.


1. Freewheel Burning (Judas Priest) ft. Jason McMaster, Gus G, Andy James, Dave McClain
2. Tear It Loose (Twisted Sister) ft. Eddie Ojeda, Dave McClain
3. Love Me Like A Reptile (Motorhead) ft. Doro Pesch, Greg Handevidt, Chuck Behler
4. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys) ft. Charlie Benante
5. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)
6. Wasted (Def Leppard) ft. Frank Hannon, Jacob Bunton, Dave McClain, Bumblefoot
7. Riff Raff (AC/DC) ft. Jason McMaster, Dave Lombardo
8. Nailed To The Gun (Fight) ft. Andrew Freeman, Russ Parrish, Jimmy DeGrasso
9. Not Fragile (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) ft. John Aquilino
10. Say What You Will (Fastway) ft. Troy Lucketta, Mark Slaughter
11. LOVE Machine (W.A.S.P.) ft. Dirk Verbeuren, Dave Alvin
12. Love Hurts (Nazareth) ft. Brandon Yeagley, Chuck Behler, Tyson Leslie
13. Sheer Heart Attack (Queen) ft. Bumblefoot, Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante
14. Sweet FA (Sweet) ft. Todd Kerns, Bumblefoot, Shani Kimelman
15. TBA
16. TBA
17. Auf Wiedersehen (Cheap Trick) ft. Al Jourgensen, Brandon Yeagley, Charlie Benante

Bonus Tracks
18. Eat The Rich (Krokus) ft. Dead By Wednesday


No Cover was co-produced by Ellefson, Hazaert, and Martongelli.  The record was engineered by Alessio Garavello, Matt LaPlant (Nonpoint, Lil Jon, Skindred) and John Aquilino.  Alessio and Garavello mixed the album alongside Randy Burns and others.

Ellefson talked about the record’s genesis in a recent interview.

“Before any of us started writing our own songs, we all began playing cover songs by our heroes during our formative years as musicians,” said Ellefson.  “So, it’s fun to go back in time and revisit those songs which helped us to become the artists we are today, especially when, ironically, many of those artists have now become peers and friends. During the process of recording some covers for B-Sides and bonus tracks for the upcoming Ellefson solo LP, Thom and I just said, “This is a blast, let’s just do a whole album of covers!” Literally, within 2 weeks, we had the songs recorded, and began calling our friends to join us, many of whom we had just performed with on the MEGA-Cruise back in October. From there, the album just fell into place.”

“A lot of our buddies have been playing covers and quarantine jams on the Internet during the pandemic, so this is really just an extension of that, but we took it the next level and actually recorded a full studio album,” he added.” We’ve been working remotely anyway, as we’re all over the Globe, so it was easy to incorporate some guests jumping in with some outstanding performances of their own. It’s been a really fun nod to making great music with our friends, who are kick-ass players, and many legends in their own right, which is the whole reason we got into this in the first place!”

Hazert expanded on Ellefson’s comments with his own thoughts.

“It’s all songs and artists that really mutually influenced both myself and David, especially a lot of early “Metal” and harder Classic Rock,” he said. “Some stuff I picked, some stuff he picked, but for the most part is was all artists that we both loved. What’s funny, as there’s a bit of an age gap, we were sometimes more influenced by different eras of the same bands. But it was really him saying, “Let’s do this song”, and me saying, “Yes!!! And let’s do this song.” And before we knew it, we had over 15 songs. And it’s a lot of album tracks, deep cuts, early tracks, stuff people might not expect, which was what was so fun.”

“It was also great that we were able to work in a lot of nods to David’s [Ellefson] history, getting Chuck Behler to play with us, bringing in original Megadeth guitarist Greg Handevidt to play on “Love Me Like A Reptile”, a song they used to play in cover bands together before they moved to LA (which we wrote about in More Life With Deth), and Randy Burns is going to mix a track or two,” added Hazert.  “As a singer, these are literally bands I’ve listened to, and covered all my life, and for me, getting to play with Eddie Ojeda, the Tesla guys, Charlie Benante, Jason McMaster, Mark Slaughter, etc, and sing these songs that mean so much to me. I mean, literally, the entire record is my bucket list of people I’d love to play with, and some of my favorite bands. So, it’s truly an honor to put together something so fun, and really as effortless as this was. It truly is a love letter to Rock N’ Roll, an homage to what made us, musically, who we are today.”

Ellefson resurrected Combat Records in 2017 as part of the EMP Label Group family.

Combat Records was a seminal punk and thrash record label in the 1980s.  Its doors closed in the mid-2000s after its catalog was absorbed by Sony Music.  Combat Records’ official relaunch took place in 2018.

Ellefson said in an interview in 2017, Combat Records would handle only new music because Sony has control of the label’s back catalog.

“…And to clarify, we do not own any rights to the Combat Records back catalog,” Ellefson stressed. “That is owned and controlled by Sony, and they have done a great job of curating it through other imprints. Combat Records will solely focus on new releases under the Combat banner. As always, thank you for your support and stay tuned for more details!”

More information on Combat Records, along with its latest news, is available online now






Ellefson is scheduled to release its debut full-length studio recording in spring 2021.  More information on Ellefson is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:






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The Dodies Debut ‘Alien’ Video

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Independent rock band The Dodies debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the video for its new single ‘Alien‘ Friday.  The song is the second single from the band’s debut album It’s One Hell of a Ride.  The band debuted the album’s lead single ‘Sell Out‘ and its companion video in April.

The ‘Alien’ video is an animated work that is composed of what can only be described as very psychedelic imagery.  Some of that imagery can be considered unsettling, so some viewer discretion is advised.

Front man Yoni Avittan talked about the video’s creation in a recent interview.

“The day Bumblefoot first pushed us to make an animated video I thought “Uh f***, no way that’s gonna happen,” he said. “I don’t even know any animators I can trust.”  I felt bummed out about it, and I was also nervous because that same day I was trying to plan my girlfriend’s surprise birthday party. I had no idea what to buy her so I went over to my parent’s apartment to ask my Mom for help. She just happened to be in the right position to see an old drawing notebook that was covered under a pile of old novels, my dad bought it for me in high school but I never used it, she said “why don’t you just draw her a portrait?” that’s when I knew I was going to be the animator for the video.”

“I rushed over to one of the only “art shops” in our town in southern Israel,” added Avittan. “I was their last customer before the two-month shutdown, a lucky break. My girlfriend and I started developing the ideas for the video right after the shutdown started; we were convinced it would take a couple of weeks at first (lol), but it just kept developing. We began drawing and painting for hours almost every day, it nearly pushed our relationship to the brink, but she believes in the band and she’s a great artist. She did way more than she had to. So did our cameraman friend Eden Zemer. He could’ve taken a shitload of money for all the weeks he spent editing this, but he grew up with us and he always believed in what we did. The process ended up taking more than four months.”

Avvitan’s band mate, Ran Aronson added to the discussion.

“The last few months’ unfortunate events have given us a lot of unexpected free time,” he said. “So we decided to use that time and make something we had never attempted before – making an animated music video. At first, the song Alien may sound intense for the cartoons we created. But the more you watch the video, the more you realize it fits the song perfectly. Thanks to all the nuances we worked on for months, the final result accurately captures what The Dodies are all about. This is, without a doubt, the most ambitious video we have made.”

The song’s musical arrangement will appeal to garage and punk rock fans with its aggressive guitars, drums and vocals, and production.  Its lyrical theme is a deeply introspective work, according to front man Yoni Avittan.

“I wrote Alien when I was a patient in one of southern Israel’s psychiatric departments,” Avittan said. “I would often refer to myself as an alien that speaks a different language and has a different understanding of things than humans do. I wrote the song in accordance with how I felt whether it was a “wrong” way of thinking or not. It was my truth and I wanted to stick to it with a sort of ‘fuck you, I’m depressed’ attitude. Although the lyrics are harsh and the instrumentation is aggressive, I did my best to keep the song melodic.”

One Hell of a Ride is available to stream and download here.  The album was co-produced by Avvitan, Aronson and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Sons of Apollo, ex-Guns N’ Roses).

More information on The Dodies’ new single, video, upcoming live performance and more is available online at:






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Arrow Video Announces Release Date, Specs For ‘Flash Gordon’ Re-Issue

Courtesy: Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group

Arrow Video is resurrecting the classic science fiction flick Flash Gordon.

The studio is scheduled to re-issue Starling Films/Famous Films/Dino De Laurentiis Company’s 1980 movie Aug. 18 on 4KUHD/BD combo pack and standalone Blu-ray.

The movie’s story follows American football star Flash (Sam J. Jones — Jane and the Lost City, Code Red, Ted), as he is kidnapped by beings from another world along with his girlfriend Dale Arden (Melody Anderson — FirewalkerBattlestar GalacticaDead & Buried) and their friend Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol — Fiddler on the Roof, For Your Eyes Only, Sallah), while aboard Zarkov’s rocket.  The trio is taken back to planet Mongo, which is ruled by Ming The Merciless (played by Max Von Sydow — The Seventh SealMinority ReportThe Tudors).  Ming wants to take Dale from Flash, and destroy Earth.

Complicating things even more for Flash is that Ming’s daughter Princess Aura (Ornella Muti — OscarFirst Love, The Most Beautiful Wife) is romantically pursuing Flash.  Between dealing with her, trying to save Dale and keep Ming from destroying Earth, Flash has his hands full.

The forthcoming re-issue will feature a companion booklet with new liner notes on the movie penned by a variety of film critics and historians; separate feature length audio commentaries by Mike Hodges and Brian Blessed; cast interviews; a behind-the-scenes making of featurette; archival interview with Mike Hodges, screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. and comic book artist Alex Ross as well as much more.

Francesco Simeoni, Arrow Video’s Director of Acquisitions and Business Development, said in a prepared statement, he was looking forward to the movie’s re-issue.

“We are proud to announce that we have decided to launch our first 4K Ultra HD titles,” said Simeoni. “At Arrow we have always sought to have the best standards in home video presentation so it seemed a logical step that we would embrace this new format, to present you with the best versions of the finest cult and classic films.”


Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

In other news, independent rock band The Lonely Ones recently debuted the video for its cover of Queen’s performance of the Flash Gordon theme song and its companion song ‘Hero.’  The video features the band performing its take on the song in a studio setting, complete with sound effects and audio from the original movie.

The band’s take on the song pays full tribute to Queen’s version of the classic work.  The Lonely Ones’ rendition is longer than that of Queen, with the original clocking in at just under three minutes and the cover coming in at five-and-a-half-minutes.  Even with that in mind, the band’s cover is still very much in line with Queen’s original work.

The band talked about its take on the song in a collective statement.

“We recorded Flash in 2019 – a pretty dark year for the four of us on all fronts,” the statement reads. Our original musical output reflected that darkness, so recording a cartoonishly triumphant, heroic cover song seemed like a good counter-balance. Fast forward to spring 2020 and the impending COVID-19 Stay at Home order. With limited time and help from some fans we got our friends together to film a music video while we were still able. It’s July now and, with the future more unclear than ever, it seems like the perfect time to release the most positive song we have.  I hope you enjoy it. “Flash/The Hero. A Queen Cover.”

It should be noted that the band’s premiere of its new cover is not connected with the movie’s forthcoming re-issue.  It is merely coincidence.

More information on The Lonely Ones’ cover of ‘Flash Gordon’/’The Hero’ is available along with all of the band’s latest news at The Lonely Ones’ official Facebook page.

More information on Arrow Video’s forthcoming re-issue of Flash Gordon is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:






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Semisonic Debuts New EP’s Second Single

Courtesy: Pleasuresonic Records/Megaforce Records

Semisonic debuted another single this week from its forthcoming EP You’re Not Alone.

The band debuted the EP’s second single ‘All It Would Take‘ Friday.  The song’s musical arrangement opens with a soft, subtle piano line and vocals that gradually builds into a more energetic and upbeat sound in its verses.  That buildup serves to help translate the song’s lyrical theme.

Front man Dan Wilson discussed the song’s lyrical theme in a recent interview.

“I feel that in each of our lives, there is the possibility of meeting that one person who will change the way we see everything, a person who will give us a sense of new meaning, a mission, a passion,” said Wilson. “‘All it Would Take’ is my song for that moment, that person, that one voice that can change the world within you. Then you can turn outward and begin to change the world around you, too.”

Semisonic debuted the lead single from You’re Not Alone, its title track, last month.  Its debut was followed early this month with the debut of the song’s companion video.

You’re Not Alone is scheduled for release Sept. 18 through Pleasuresonic Records/Megaforce Records.  The EP’s track listing is noted below.


You’re Not Alone Tracklist:

1) You’re Not Alone

2) All It Would Take

3) Basement Tapes

4) Don’t Make Up Your Mind

5) Lightning


More information on Semisonic’s new single and EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:






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