RATM’s Second Coming Will Hopefully Continue In The Coming Years

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The end is near!  The end of the year that is.  The end of 2017 is only 48 hours away at the time of this post.  With time quickly ticking away, there is still a lot of work for this critic to do with year-ender lists.  Considering this, we’ll get right into it with one last list for the year’s new albums in the form of the year’s top new albums overall.  This list was perhaps the most difficult of all for this critic to assemble.  That is because of the amount of top quality material released across the musical universe this year.  From punk to pop to jazz, world, rock and more, there were a lot of great records released over the past year.  Keeping this in mind, coming up with this was no easy chore, to say the least.  It was finally accomplished, though, and includes titles from the worlds of rocks, jazz, country and even world music.

Leading off this year’s best new album — in this critic’s ears and mind — is Ala.Ni’s debut album You & I.  This record is a beautiful work that despite being marketed as jazz, could just as easily fit into any adult contemporary pop radio station’s rotation.  Also included in this year’s finale are new releases from country music superstar Chris Stapleton, New Orleans-based singer/songwriter Marc Broussard, emo-punk band Young Fox’s new album and much more.

As with every previous list, this list features this critic’s Top 10 choices as well as five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 titles.  Without any further ado, here for you is Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. Prophets of Rage — Prophets of Rage
  2. Ala.Ni — You & I
  3. Jazzmeia Horn — A Social Call
  4. Diana Panton — Solstice/Equinox
  5. Fer Isella — Art of the Possible
  6. Nova Collective — The Further Side
  7. Scale The Summit — In A World of Fear
  8. Mike Mangioni & The Kin — But I’ve Seen The Stars
  9. John 5 & The Creatures — Season of the Witch
  10. Dishwalla — Juniper Road
  11. Project 86 — Sheep Among Wolves
  12. Chris Stapleton — From A Room Vol. 2
  13. Young Fox — Sky Beats Gold
  14. Gary Numan — Savage (Songs From A Broken World)
  15. Marc Broussard — Easy To Love

That’s it, folks.  As noted, this was not an easy list to assemble by any means.  Trying to determine which albums likely would have a certain amount of longevity through through musical and lyrical messages was a tough task.  One cannot ignore the fact that what with the nation’s current political climate, the second coming of Rage Against The Machine was one of this year’s most important and standout efforts.  In the same breath, the gentility and beauty offered by Ala.Ni, Jazzmeia Horn and Diana Panton makes their albums certain to stay in peoples’ minds and ears.  Fer Isella’s new album, while instrumental is like the soundtrack to any major Hollywood drama such as Bridges of Madison County and other similar movies.

The jazz fusion feel of Nova Collective’s debut record and the prog rock of Scale The Summit’s latest record stand out just as much.  Mike Mangioni & The Kin may stay under the radar, but that’s just fine with this critic.  The group’s new album is a great independent offering.  Dishwalla’s new album is a wonderful return for the band while John 5 & the Creatures’ new album is yet another example of how truly talented the guitarist truly is and that he made the right decision leaving Marilyn Manson’s band.

It is easy to go on and on about every album noted here.  Regardless of the band’s fame, the fact of the matter stands that each album listed here is one that this critic feels is impacting and important for the given act and for the music community in whole.  That being the case, this list stands as this critic’s best new albums of 2017.  Now with all of the music stuff out of the way, it’s on to a handful of DVD/BD titles including best new box sets for families and for grown-ups, best new DVDs/BDs for families, and even best new documentaries.  So stay tuned for all of that!

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Mike Mangione & The Kin’s New LP “Shines”

Courtesy: RODZINKA Records

Mike Mangione and The Kin is scheduled to release its new album But I’ve Seen the Stars on Oct. 20 via RODZINKA Records.  The 10-song, 44-minute record is just the latest effort from band founder Mangione, and the first for Mangione and his new group, The Kin. Its musical arrangements will appeal to any fan of Delta Rae, Mumford & Sons, The Dunwells, Marc Broussard and other similar acts while its lyrical content boasts an equally wide appeal if not wider.  That is exemplified right from the album’s outset in ‘Three Days,’ which will be discussed shortly.  ‘Riding Down,’ which comes later in the album’s run is another example of the album’s wide-reaching musical and lyrical appeal.  It will be discussed later.  ‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another example of how far-reaching this album proves to be, and is hardly the last of the record’s songs that can be cited to support that statement.  From start to finish, this record is nothing but positive.  Considering all of this, it proves to be not only one of the year’s top new independent records but potentially one of the year’s top new Americana/folk records and even top new albums overall.

Mike Mangione and The Kin’s new record But I’ve Seen The Stars is a shining new effort from the veteran singer/songwriter and his new group of musicians. That is thanks in no small part to the album’s musical and lyrical content.  The combination of those two elements makes this record a work that will reach an innumerable audience.  This statement is supported right from the album’s outset through the song ‘Three Days.’  The song’s gentle, flowing acoustic guitar line and harmonies instantly conjure thoughts of Delta Rae.  The string arrangements and barely there percussion serve to strengthen that comparison even more.  The balance in those elements easily evokes powerful emotions in any listener’s heart and mind.  The song’s lyrics will move listeners just as much as the song’s musical arrangement as Mangione sings, “Three more days/I’m coming home/Leave the candle by the door/Three more days/Will you be there, too/Please be gentle, I’ll be true to you/Every day” right off the top.  From there Mangione goes on to sing in seeming introspection, “Had no feeling and no main/I had a story to arrange/The birds sang in missionary prose/Good intentions can impose/So I headed on my own/To seek the origin alone/Headed on my own/I sought the elders/Heard them speak/And I saw forever and the meek/And with fear they focused on my eyes/Fear was hatred in disguise/But the heart is lined with gold/And in there the story’s being told.” Mangione’s introspection continues in the song’s second verse just as much as the song’s lead verse as he sings about accepting mortality, personal emotions and other items.  Simply put, there is a lot of lyrical ground covered in a small space, and Mangione does a truly good job of making listeners think considering the seeming introspection presented in the song’s lyrics.  When the emotions and thought generated through that introspection is coupled with the song’s equally moving musical arrangement, the end result is an opus that will touch any listener deeply, proving right from the beginning the record’s impact and reach. It is just one of the songs included in this album that serves to show that impact and reach.  ‘Riding Down’ serves just as much as ‘Three Days’ to show why this album is such a success.

‘Riding Down’ is an important piece to discuss in examining this album because it is completely unlike ‘Three Days’ both musically and lyrically.  Its pure 12-bar blues arrangement will move audiences not by tugging at their heartstrings but by putting a smile on their faces and getting their feet tapping.  While the song is nearly four-minutes long, its arrangement makes it feel like that time passes by so much faster, which in this case is a good thing.  The arrangement is so enjoyable that listeners won’t even realize how much time has passed by its end, easily leaving them wanting more.  The song’s lyrical content is just as fun with its own classic blues approach.  He sings in the song’s lead verse, “In the midnight hour/Of the seventh day/There was a light around my window/Heard I couldn’t stay/I’m gone/I’m gone/When the hellhounds call with the whistle blowin’ baby/I’ll be riding down.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Go and tell my mama/Tell my sister I’m gone/I’m gonna hitch the black snake/A hundred-thirty strong.”  One is lead to think Mangione is singing here about that fabled long black train that has been noted in so many blues (and gospel) songs so many times before.  Mangione’s approach to the subject in this case is an original approach, yet still as enjoyable as that in those other songs.  When it is joined with the song’s infectious blues arrangement, the result is a song that quickly becomes one of this album’s best songs, if not its best.  It is yet another example of what makes this record such a surprising hit, and not the last.  ‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘The Question & The Cure’ is yet another critical addition to But I’ve Seen The Stars because it stands on its own merits just as much as the previously discussed songs (and those not mentioned here).  The combination of Mangione’s vocal delivery style and the song’s gentle, flowing arrangement makes the song yet another emotionally powerful work.  The whole of those elements lends the song to comparisons to Bruce Springsteen and Mumford & Sons.  The same can be said of the song’s lyrical content, which sees Mangione singing, “And the halo/Of the living/Lies the ancient and the dead/The broken/We don’t read too good/Cause we can’t spell too good/So I’ve read/God bless the innocent/They’re just waiting on a home/And the course is wide and heavy/And the winter’s bite is cold/No way/Will my family lie/We’re the downcast cry/In the soil/they’re hungry…and the tears just change to blood and oil/But god bless the broken-hearted/They’re just waiting on the day/When they’re free from falling victim/When they can give it all away.  Yet again listeners have here an example of true lyrical depth that will tug at listeners’ heartstrings and leave them thinking and talking.  Even more impressive is the fact that Mangione and company did not just rehash the lyrical content or arrangements used in the album’s other works to have that powerful impact here.  Considering that, the song shows in whole why it is such an important part of this new record.  When it is joined with the previously discussed songs and those not noted here, the end result is a record that proves to be a truly shining success.

Mike Mangione and The Kin’s new album But I’ve Seen The Stars is a record reaches the stars without even trying.  Its musical arrangements and lyrical content together can leave listeners feeling such deep emotions at times while bringing great joy at others as well as emotions in between at yet others.  That is evidenced through the songs noted here and those not noted.  All things considered, this record shines just as bright as the stars seen, proving to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.  But I’ve Seen The Stars will be released Oct. 20 via RODZINKA Records.  More information on the album is available online along with Mangione’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.mikemangione.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikemangione

 

 

 

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.

The Dunwells debut a great start for music in 2012

2011 was quite the year for the music industry.  Lady Gaga and international superstar Adele were everywhere after their new releases.  And fans were shocked by the death of up-and-comer Amy Winehouse.  Fans of music in every genre saw new records come out.  But now with the old year heading out, it’s time to start looking to the new year, and in turn, new music.  One of the bands that everyone might hear from in 2012 is a U.K. based band of brothers called The Dunwells.  This band’s debut cd, “Blind Sighted Faith”, is due out in February.  Now, while digital downloading is all the rage right now, the only reason to download The Dunwell’s debut release is if it can’t be found in stores.  Otherwise, it’s yet another piece of evidence in the fight for keeping the physical object versus downloading.

“Blind Sighted Faith” is already looking to be one of the best pop albums of 2012.  The irony of the album (and the band) is that this band of brothers actually headed up 2012’s International Folk Alliance Conference.  This year’s conference was held February 21 – 26th in memphis, TN.  One listen through the album makes one wonder how they could have been tapped for a folk music conference.  The whole album is a solid mix of John Mayer and Marc Broussard.  There’s even a hint of Don Henley and his Eagles bandmates in ‘Elizabeth’. 

‘Elizabeth’ is a great ballad.  But it’s not the only high point to “Blind Sighted Faith.”  That goes back to the argument for buying the physical object over downloading.  The album’s opener/lead single “I Could be King” is a positive song in which frontman Joe Dunwell sings about his hopes and dreams.  The music perfectly fits the lyrical content.  The band slows things down just a bit after that, with a relationship based song in the album’s title track.  There’s an equally impressive acoustic version of this song that’s available to view on Youtube, by the way.  Then again, most of the songs on the album can be viewed via Youtube, if you want a hint of the album.  Still not enough?  Well how about ‘Hand That Feeds’.  This song has a great retro 1960’s feel, brought into the modern era.  There’s no argument that this song is one of the album’s highlights, if not THE highlight of the whole album. 

“Blind Sighted Faith” doesn’t let up after the album’s first trio of songs.  Again, there’s also the Eagles-esque ‘Elizabeth’, and a nice bluesy Marc Broussard-esque piece in “Follow The Road”.  The great songs keep coming right to the surprise album closer, ‘Oh Lord’.  The surprise of this song is that it starts off soft, but then breaks into a solid blues/rock style song.  It’s the longest track on the album.  But it’s such a surprisingly impressive song that the run time doesn’t matter.

Whether for ‘Oh Lord’, ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Hand That Feeds’, or any other song on this album, “Blind Sighted Faith” is a great start for music fans in 2012.  And being that it’s the band’s debut release, those fans who have some blind sighted faith in The Dunwells will be pleasantly rewarded with a solid, enjoyable album.