American Idol Star’s Latest LP Takes Top Honors In Phil’s Picks 2019 Top New Rock Albums List

Courtesy: Big Johnson Records

Rock fans had a lot of reason this year to raise their horns.  From January right up to this month, rock music fans received lots of strong new offerings this year.  That includes both mainstream and independent acts.  Buckcherry’s new album Warpaint, which came out early this year, proved to be everything that audiences have come to expect from the band.  DuG Pinnick’s King’s X side band KXM also released a new record this year — Circle of Dolls — that was a step up from its predecessor.  80s rockers L.A. Guns even produced its own strong new effort in The Devil You Know while prog rock star Neil Morse’s Jesus ChristThe Exorcist developed its own fans, too.  Between those albums and so many others, rock fans had a lot to be happy about.  It made creating the list of this year’s top new rock records quite difficult to arrange.

This year’s list, like others from Phil’s Picks, features the Top 10 picks as well as five honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  The list was compiled from consideration of the titles’ overall musical and lyrical content.  That content taken into consideration made this list anything but easy.  No offense was meant to any of the band featured on this list.  With that in mind, here is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Rock Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW ROCK ALBUMS

  1. Caleb Johnson — Born From Southern Ground
  2. Set It Off — Midnight
  3. Neal Morse — Jesus ChristThe Exorcist
  4. KXM — Circle of Dolls
  5. Buckcherry — Warpaint
  6. Collective Soul — Blood
  7. Aree & The Pure Hearts — Never Gonna Die
  8. The Sh-Booms — The Blurred Odyssey
  9. Lullwater — Voodoo
  10. The Magpie Salute — Highwater II
  11. Queensryche — The Verdict
  12. L.A. Guns — The Devil You Know
  13. Them Guns — From The Shadows
  14. Myrath — Shehili
  15. Stone Leaders — Stone Leaders

 

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Hannah Williams & The Affirmations Stand Tall Among 2019’s New Independent Albums

Courtesy: Record Kicks

The old year is almost gone and the new year is on the way.  With the countdown to the calendar change nearing its annual end, critics are preparing their annual year-ender lists or have already posted said “Best Of” lists.  This critic has waited a while to make sure as many albums and EPs have been considered, and now with less than two weeks left in the year, the time is right to offer the first of many “Best Of” lists.

Opening this year’s multitude of year end “Best Of” lists from Phil’s Picks is the year’s top new independent albums.  Independent can mean acts signed to independent labels — of which there are many — and those who are straight up unsigned.  This year’s list presents a variety of acts and sounds, not the least of which is Hannah Williams & The Affirmations’ new album 50 Foot Woman.  Also featured in this year’s list is the surprisingly enjoyable self-titled album from Am I Dead Yet.  Its mix of David Bowie, Pink Floyd and other similar acts makes its musical content strong in its own right.  The addition of its lyrical content adds even more interest to its whole.  Hard rock band Bad Blood is also featured in this year’s list with its self-titled debut.  These are just some of the acts featured in Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Independent Albums.  It should be noted that while the list is the “Top 10,” it features five additional honorable mention titles for a grand total of 15 albums, as in every past year.

It should be noted that the choices featured on this list were not easy.  The honorable mention titles are not bad albums.  They are all good in their own way.  It was just that difficult to choose, as every listed album had its own positives. Some had more positives than others. Now with all that said here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2019 Top 10 New Independent Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2019 TOP 10 NEW INDEPENDENT ALBUMS

1.Hannah Williams & The Affirmations — 50 Foot Woman

2. Am I Dead Yet? — Am I Dead Yet?

3. Bad Blood — Bad Blood

4. The Sh-Booms — The Blurred Odyssey

5. Aree And The Pure Hearts — Never Gonna Die

6. Wargirl — Wargirl

7. Lullwater — Voodoo

8. Sara Potenza — Road To Rome

9. Corroded — Bitter

10. Awake At Last — The Change

11. Blacktop Mojo — Under The Sun

12. Stone Leaders — Stone Leaders

13. Dark Station — Down in The Dark

14. Them Guns — From The Shadows

15. Damn Your Eyes — Kill The Outside

 

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Lullwater Works Great Musical Magic With ‘Voodoo’

Courtesy: TAG Publicity/The Label Group

Independent hard rock act Lullwater has made quite the name for itself since its founding in 2007 in its home state of Georgia.  The band has released two full-length studio recordings, an EP and toured the nation with even more well-known acts, such as Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman and Amaranthe, spreading its music to countless thousands of fans.  The band – John Strickland (vocals, guitar), Daniel Binnie (lead guitar), Roy “Ray” Beatty (bass) and Joseph Wilson (drums) – has done it all largely without major label backing, growing its fame largely organically.  Late this past February, the band continued that course with the release of its third full-length studio recording (and fourth overall recording) Voodoo.  The 11-song record puts the band members’ talents on full display from start to end while also presenting some equally interesting lyrical content.  The album’s latest single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that puts both elements on display.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Similar Skin,’ another of the songs featured in the album, does just as much to put those abilities on display.  ‘Fight of Your Life,’ which comes late in the album’s 50-minute run, is yet another of the album’s most notable entries.  It is hardly the last example of the band members’ abilities.  The album’s opener, ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not’ are just as notable as the previous trio of noted songs.  Together with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of Voodoo proves clearly why Lullwater has been so successful for such a long time and why this album could be the one that breaks Lullwater into the mainstream, support providing.

Lullwater’s recently released third full-length studio recording Voodoo is a strong new offering from the Athens, GA-based band.  Given the right support, it could potentially be the record that breaks this band – which has done everything largely without major label backing – into the mainstream.  It is a record that shows without doubt, that the band deserves such acclaim.  That is proven in part through the album’s latest single, ‘Empty Chamber.’  In regards to its musical arrangement, the song will appeal to fans of bands, such as Buckcherry and Small Town Titans with its energy and catchy hooks.  The dual guitar approach of Strickland and Binnie couples with Wilson’s powerhouse drumming, Beatty’s low end and Strickland’s vocal delivery, to make an overall arrangement that is an immediately radio-ready work.  What is interesting here is the while the hooks are so catchy and the musicians’ talent undeniable, the song, as Strickland recently discussed, is actually quite a deep work. Strickland said of the song’s lyrical content, that the song centers on the issue of dealing with personal emotional struggles.

“We all have experienced, and been in, a moment of excruciating emotional pain, and ‘Empty Chamber’ was written during one of those moments,” Strickland said.  “The son has an upbeat tempo and happy melodic vibe, but the lyrics are depressing and filled with anxiety.  Sometimes everything in life can be going great, but you still struggle with emotional pain and confusion.  I feel ‘Empty Chamber’ embodies that emotion.”

Strickland’s explanation makes the song that much more powerful, when considering the juxtaposition of that upbeat musical arrangement and the depth of the song’s lyrics.  The contrast shows what is going on in life on the surface, while the lyrics show what is going on just beneath the surface.  That is very good thinking on the band’s part.  Strickland sings in the song’s lead verse, “How your heart beats now/The strain, the pain/Confusion on your face/Where are you now/Who’s your higher place/A beautiful soul once told me/Happiness is like a butterfly/Gently lands down once before it dies.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Here I am again/Strung out/And my mind’s a loaded gun/Empty chambers all except for one/You’ll be the death of me/I said I swore/I know it’s coming true/Goodbye death…and to all of you.”  The mixed emotions are just as prevalent as the song enters its bridge and final chorus refrain.  Strickland’s statements about the song’s lyrical concept in understanding these verses.  Here is someone who is dealing with some very strong emotions despite everything around him/her seeming to go so well.  That contrast displayed through the song’s musical and lyrical content makes this song one of the record’s most notable additions, but hardly the only of the album’s best entries.  ‘Similar Skin’ is another of the album’s high points.

‘Similar Skin’ stands out in part through its southern sludge rock-tinged musical arrangement.  The heavy, trudging guitars immediately lend themselves to comparisons to bands, such as Corrosion of Conformity, Clutch and Brand New Sin.  Even more interesting to note of the arrangement is the addition of the horns to the arrangement.  The addition of the horns to the arrangement is subtle, as they are used solely to flesh out the song’s choruses.  That subtle use goes a long way toward making the song’s arrangement that much more engaging and entertaining, because of its subtlety.  Add in the familiar yet still strong finish for the four-minute-plus work, and the song proves musically from start to finish to be a certain fan favorite if only for that reason.  Of course, the song’s musical arrangement is not its only element.  Its lyrical content is also worth addressing.

The song’s lyrical content comes across as a statement from a subject, telling another figure that he/she needs to get his/her act together and stop feeling sorry for himself/herself. This inferred right from the song’s lead verse, as Strickland sings, “Who would have thought/You were the quiet type at all/Couple things that I need from you/Get up, get out/Make some moves/Look down/Follow your soul/Eyes on the prize/Now get ready to roll/Dial back/All the saturation/A little less talk about the same conversation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.”  Here in this verse, we get an individual telling someone else to move forward and push on.  This message is advanced even more as Strickland sings in the song’s second verse, “Slow down/Quiet your mind/Notice the things that you’re willing to find/If it feels like you’re stuck in a loop/Breathe in, breathe out/try to regroup/Stand tall/Pull from within/Nothing to lose/Just similar skin/Dial back all the saturation/Tired of this talk/Tired of this saturation/Get up, get out, get out/Get up, get out, get out/get up, get out, get out/I don’t owe you anything.”  The reminder by the song’s subject once more that “I don’t owe you anything” is really what leads to the supposition that this subject is telling someone else that he/she needs to get his/her life in order.  Considering the statements made in the verses, the argument in favor of that message is strengthened even more.  Going back to the song’s musical arrangement, the force in that arrangement adds to the strength in the argument about the song’s lyrical content.  It adds to that sense of someone who is frustrated with another person.  When both elements are joined as one, the whole is a strong statement to which plenty of listeners will find themselves able to relate.  That in turn makes the song yet another high point of Voodoo.  It is just one more way in which Voodoo shows its strengths.  ‘Fight of your Life’ is yet another example of Voodoo’s strengths.

Where ‘Empty Chamber’ deals with a person’s inner emotional turmoil and where ‘Similar Skin’ seemingly features someone wanting to knock some sense into someone else, ‘Fight of Your Life’ comes across as a much more encouraging and positive work.  The song’s catchy, up-tempo musical arrangement is just as viable as a radio work as the other noted songs (and others not noted here).  It lends itself easily to comparisons to any number of the band’s more well-known counterparts with its solid time keeping, driving guitars and harmonies crafted through its low-end.  The positive vibes created through the song’s musical arrangement carry through to its lyrical content, which is just as certain to put a smile on listeners’ faces with allegorical nature.

Strickland sings here, “Boy/More of a man than most of us/Too young to know the dreadful truth inside/The joy/It slips away/Begins to rust/Relentlessly restrain the need to cry…Hang on/It’ll be alright/Stand strong through the darkest of your nights…It won’t be long till vision clears/Find your eyes/They will dry with tears.”  Some of the content is difficult to decipher here without a lyrics sheet to resource.  That aside, it is relatively clear as to what Strickland is singing about in this case.  This is someone addressing a young man who has been through hell, but who is at the same time reminding that young man, that things can and do get better.  The subject is telling that person that it is okay to let out the pain held inside.  Strickland goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Love/Mother you have given all your blood/The years you’re never wavering/you/The innocent/The warrior child/Brave your way to take this world apart/So surreal/these fragile battle lines/Questions…through my mind/How can this unwind…”  The song’s subject once again goes on to remind the noted figure that things will be okay even as bad as things might seem at the moment.  Again, it is that reminder to listeners that while things might be bad in their lives.  It is a positive, uplifting message that, when coupled with the song’s upbeat arrangement, is sure to become yet another favorite among listeners from this record.  When it is considered along with the two other works discussed here, other strong points, such as ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun’ and the album’s closer, ‘Suffer Not,’ and the other songs not directly noted here, the whole of the album becomes a work that proves the third may in fact be the charm for Lullwater, support provided.

Lullwater’s third full-length studio recording Voodoo works plenty of positive magic on listeners from the beginning to the end of its 11-song, 50-minute run.  It is a work that proves — thanks to its multitude of radio-ready musical arrangements and thought-provoking lyrical content – that the third time may be the charm for this Georgia-based band.  The album’s most recent single ‘Empty Chamber’ is one of the songs that serves to support those statements.  The same can be said of ‘Similar Skin,’ ‘Fight of Your Life,’ ‘Curtain Call,’ ‘Into The Sun,’ ‘Suffer Not’ and the rest of the album’s works.  The songs directly discussed here and those not immediately addressed all support that statement in their own way.  All things considered, they make Voodoo the record that could be that lucky charm that breaks the band into the mainstream.  More information is available online Voodoo along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

 

 

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Lullwater Touring With Sevendust; Debuts New Video

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Lullwater debuted its latest music video this month

The independent Georgia-based band debuted the video for its latest single ‘Empty Chamber‘ on Feb. 8.  The video, which originally debuted at Consequence of Sound, features the band performing its new single in the studio and crosses that with footage of the band at work on both sides of the glass in-between.

In regards to its musical arrangement, the song will appeal to fans of bands, such as Buckcherry, Stone Temple Pilots and Small Town Titans.  The song’s lyrical content focuses on a familiar topic, according to front man John Strickland.

“We all have experienced and been in a moment of excruciating emotional pain, and ‘Empty Chamber’ was written during one of those moments,’Strickland said.  “The song has an upbeat tempo and happy melodic vibe, but the lyrics are depressing and filled with anxiety.  Sometimes everything in life can be going great, but you still struggle with emotional pan and confusion.  I feel ‘Empty Chamber’ embodies that emotion.”

‘Empty Chamber’ is taken from Lullwater’s most recent album Voodoo, which was released Feb. 1.  The record is the band’s third full-length studio recording and fourth overall recording. Its track listing is noted below.

Track List:
1. Curtain Call
2. Dark Divided
3. Empty Chamber
4. Similar Skin
5. This Life
6. Godlike
7. Buzzards
8. Fight Of Your Life
9. Into The Sun
10. Yellow Bird
11. Suffer Not

The band released its self-titled debut album in 2012.  It was followed up by the LP Revival in 2015 and the band’s debut EP The Seattle Sessions in 2017.  That EP was a live recording from the band.

Lullwater is currently promoting Voodoo as it supports Sevendust on its headlining tour in support of its latest album All I See Is War (2018).  Cane Hill, Tremonti and Kirra are also serving as support on the tour.  The tour’s current schedule is noted below.

02/16 @ Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
02/18 @ Toads Place – New Haven, CT
02/19 @ The Chance Theater – Poughkeepsie, NY
02/20 @ The Rapids Theater, Niagara Falls, U.S.A. – Buffalo, NY
02/22 @ The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
02/25 @ Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
02/26 @ House of Blues Chicago – Chicago, IL
02/27 @ The Blue Note – Columbia, MO
03/01 @ The Cotillion – Wichita, KS
03/02 @ Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
03/03 @ VIBES Event Center – San Antonio, TX

Tickets are available here.

More information on Lullwater’s tour, music and more is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

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.

 

Lullwater Takes Audiences Back To The 90s With New Pearl Jam Cover

Independent rock band Lullwater is taking Pearl Jam fans back in time with a video for its cover of Peal Jam’s classic song ‘Release.’

The original song was included in Pearl Jam’s debut 1991 record Ten.  Lullwater’s take on the song was recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, Washington.  The video, which premiered via Loudwire, features the band performing with Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam, Candlebox) and Kevin Martin (Candlebox).

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Lullwater front man John Strickland discussed the band’s take on the song in a recent interview, saying recording and performing the song is something special for him.

“The entire process of recording Pearl Jam’s ‘Release’ in London Bridge Studios was so surreal,” Strickland said.  “Pearl Jam is one of my favorite bands, and to cover that in one song in the same room as they did, was very emotional for me.  I had no idea that a couple of years later we would be performing it live with Dave Krusen and Kevin Martin on the Candlebox tour; it’s such an odd and incredible feeling of living and experiencing the moments we’ve made because of ‘Release,’  It’s by far the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me as a musician.  Thinking back to when I was in my adolescent years playing that song over and over and then one day to be performing it live with the original drummer, i simply crazy for me.  ‘Release’ has a special place in my heart and is one of my favorite songs to play live.”

Lullwater’s next album Voodoo is expected to be released in Winter 2018.  More information on that is available online now along with all of Lullwater’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

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.

Amaranthe, Lullwater, Butcher Babies Team Up For “Massive Collision Tour”

Courtesy:  Artist Group International/Spinefarm Records/Century Media Records

Courtesy: Artist Group International/Spinefarm Records/Century Media Records

Amaranthe is returning to the U.S. this fall.

The Swedish hard rock band recently announced that it will return to the U.S. for what it has dubbed the “Massive Collision Tour” beginning Thursday, October 29th in Atlanta, Georgia. The new tour, presented by Artist Group International, marks the second time this year that the band has made its way across the U.S. and Canada. The new dates are in support of the band’s most recent full-length studio recording Massive Addictive, which was released on October 21st, 2014. The band will be joined on its upcoming dates by opening act LullWater and special guest Butcher Babies. The current schedule for the “Massive Collision Tour” is listed below. It includes a pair of performances early on in Jacksonville, NC and Charlotte, NC.

TOUR DATES:

10/29: Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade

10/30: Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligans

11/1: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend

11/4: New York, @ Webster Hall (Marlin Room)

11/5: Stafford Springs, CT @ Palace Theater

11/6: Manchester, NH @ Jewel Nightclub

11/7: Montreal, QC @ Theatre Fairmount

11/8: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre

11/10: Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar Bar

11/11: Cleveland, OH @ The Odeon

11/13: Flint, MI @ Machine Shop

11/14: Green Bay, WI @ The Sandlot Entertainment Complex

11/15: Arlington Heights, IL @ HOME Bar

11/17: Sauget, IL @ Pop’s

11/18: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita’s

11/19: Houston, TX @ Scout Bar

11/20: McAllen, TX @ Cine El Rey

11/21: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill

11/24: Santa Ana, CA @ The Yost Theater

11/27: Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades

11/28: Reno, NV @ Knitting Factory

11/29: San Jose, CA @ Rockbar Theater

 

Tickets for the “Massive Collision Tour” are available now.  More information on ticketing, show times, and more is available online now along with all of the latest news from Amaranthe at:

 

Website: http://www.amranthe.se

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

 

More information on Lullwater is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.lullwatermusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lullwatermusic

 

More information on Butcher Babies is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://wwww.butcherbabies.net

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

 

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.