Franti’s Latest LP “Rocks” Phil’s PIcks 2016 Albums Of The Year List

Michael Franti and Spearhead Soulrocker Cover Art

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The time has come.  Today is New Year’s Eve eve.  That means 2016 is nearly in the books.  With that year right at it’s end, it’s time for the last two of this year’s Phil’s Picks best of lists.

Rounding out this year’s lists are the year’s top new albums overall and the year’s top new overall movies.  The year’s top new albums list is up first.  It was not an easy list to assemble either as there were so many stand out records released from across the musical universe’s many genres.

This year’s top albums list is represented by music from the jazz community, the world of children’s music, rock, blues, and even reggae in the form of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker.

As with every previous Phil’s Picks list, this list features Phil’s Picks’ top 10 new titles plus five honorable mention titles, bringing the total count to 15.  Having noted that here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 new albums.




  1. Michael Franti & SpearheadSoulrocker


  1. Santana IV


  1. Joe BonamassaBlues of Desperation


  1. YellowjacketsCohearance


  1. FoghatUnder The Influence


  1. The Okee Dokee BrothersSaddle Up


  1. Songs of the Night: Dance Recordings by the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra 1916 – 1925


  1. Marian HillAct I


  1. Love and a .38Nomad


  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway


  1. Rich RobinsonFlux


  1. Charles Lloyd and the MarvelsI Long To See You


  1. Logan Richardson Shift


  1. Tedeschi Trucks BandLet Me Get By


  1. Mountain HeartBlue Sky


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Michael Franti And Spearhead Release Updated Video For ‘Same As It Ever Was (It Starts Today)’

Photo Credit: Chelsea Klette

Photo Credit: Chelsea Klette

Michael Franti and Spearhead re-issued this week the powerful video for its song ‘Same As It Ever Was (It Starts Today).’

The video was re-worked to include footage of recent high profile cases involving police shootings and also features the song’s lyrics along with footage of Franti walking an anonymous city’s dimly-lit streets.  Franti sat down recently with Billboard to discuss the song and its new video.  While there he held an intimate acoustic performance of the song that can be seen here.  Since neither Franti nor the reporter was hooked to a mic, audiences will have to turn up the volume in order to hear them.  The newly re-worked music video meanwhile can be seen via Franti’s official YouTube channel.

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Michael Franti and Spearhead is currently touring in support of the group’s new full-length studio recording Soulrocker.  The band will be in Nashville, Tennessee tonight and Louisville, Kentucky tomorrow.  The group’s tour currently runs through September 18th in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  The group’s full tour schedule is noted below.


Here are the in-progress dates for MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD on tour.


DATE                         CITY                                       VENUE

~~Fri 7/22 Nashville, TN War Memorial Auditorium
~~Sat 7/23 Louisville, KY Iroquois Amphitheater
~~Sun 7/24 Columbus, OH Express Live!
~~Tue 7/26 Birmingham, AL Avondale Brewing Company
~~Wed 7/27 Mobile, AL Saenger Theatre
Fri 7/29 Kaslo, BC Kaslo Jazz Festival
*Wed 8/3 Costa Mesa, CA Pacific Amphitheatre
Thu 8/4 Mammoth Lakes, CA Mammoth Festival
**Fri 8/5 Flagstaff, AZ Pepsi Amphitheater
**Sat 8/6 Durango, CO Three Springs
**Sun 8/7 Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Tue 8/9 Salt Lake City, UT Red Butte Garden
**Thu 8/11 Bend, OR Les Schwab Amphitheater
**Fri 8/12 Troutdale, OR Edgefield
Sat 8/13 Tamarack, ID The Huckleberry Jam
**Tue 8/16 Missoula, MT Big Sky Brewing Company
**Wed 8/17 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
**Fri 8/19 Lake Tahoe, NV MontBleu Resort & Casino
Sat 8/20 Lincoln, CA Thunder Vibes
**Sun 8/21 Saratoga, CA The Mountain Winery
**Tue 8/23 Rohnert Park, CA Sonoma Mountain Village
~Wed 8/24 Lancaster, CA Antelope Valley Fair
**Thu 8/25 San Luis Obispo, CA Avila Beach Resort
**Fri 8/26 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
Sat 8/27 Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre
!Sun 8/28 Santa Fe, NM The Santa Fe Opera House
Fri 9/2 Seattle, WA Bumbershoot
Sat 9/3 Jacksonville, OR Britt Pavilion
Sun 9/4 Arcata, CA Van Duzer Theatre
Sept 15-18 Victoria, BC Rifflandia

* w/ G. Love & Special Sauce

** w/ Zella Day

~ w/ Iration

~~ w/ Marc Scibilia

! w/ Lila Downs



More information on Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new video is available online now along with all of the band’s new tour dates, news and more at:









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Fitz And The Tantrums Offers Up Another Impressive Effort In Its Latest LP

Courtsey: New Elektra

Courtsey: New Elektra

Early this summer Fitz and The Tantrums released its latest full-length studio recording.  The eleven-song self-titled record is the group’s third full-length offering.  It is a good record in its own right, too.  That is due in part to its catchy musical arrangements.  Its lyrical content plays just as much of a part in its presentation as its musical arrangements.  Both elements combine throughout the course of the album’s thirty-six minute run time.  All in all both elements make Fitz and The Tantrums’ new self-titled album another good effort from the famed pop group.

Fitz and The Tantrums’ new self-titled album is another good effort from the famed pop group.  That is due in no small part to the record’s musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  The group wastes no time making this clear, climbing into listeners’ brains with the infectious grooves of the album’s opener/lead single ‘Hand Clap.’  The up-tempo, keyboard-driven composition is a solid start to the record.  It doesn’t let up at any point in the song’s three-minute-plus run time either.  When one considers the song’s lyrical content, that arrangement becomes even more than just an arrangement.  It becomes a good fit for the song because its energy tends to match the song’s lyrical content.  Speaking of that content the song’s lyrical content is just as interesting as its musical content.  Front man Michael Fitzpatrick sings in the song’s lead verse, “Somebody save your soul/Cause you been sinnin’/In this city/I know/Too many troubles/All these lovers/Got you losing control/You’re like a drug to me/A luxury/My sugar and gold/I want the good life/Every good night/You’re a hard one to hold/Cause you don’t even know.”  The song gets even more interesting later on as Fitzpatrick sings, “Every night when the stars come out/Am I the only living soul around/Need to believe you could hold me down/Cause’ I’m in need of something good right now/We could be screamin’ til the sun comes out/And when we wake we’d be the only sound/I get on my knees and say a prayer/James Brown/That I can make your hands clap.”  The ton doesn’t change much if at all through the remainder of the song.  The subject being addressed is quite the intoxicating and troublesome figure.  Yet interestingly enough the one addressing the song’s subject can’t stop thinking about that person.  That would account for the constant up-tempo energy exhibited in the song’s musical arrangement.  What’s really interesting about this is that considering the song’s lyrical content, the noted musical arrangement wouldn’t seem fitting.  So many songs that are akin to this one (lyrically speaking) are generally more emotional.  Yet in the case of this song it is anything but.  Keeping that in mind, it is an interesting take on a familiar subject.  It is just one of the album’s more interesting additions, too.  ‘Roll Up,’ the album’s fourth song is another key example of what makes Fitz and The Tantrums another good effort from Fitz and The Tantrums.

‘Hand Clap’ is a good example of what makes Fitz and The Tantrums’ new self-titled album another good effort from the Los Angeles-based pop group.  That is due to the combination of the song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content.  It is just one of the songs that can b cited in examining what makes this record worth hearing.  ‘Roll Up’ is another song that exemplifies what makes FATT another good record from its namesake.  The song’s modern musical arrangement instantly makes it a radio ready tune.  It sounds and feels like something that one might expect from Michael Franti and Spearhead and other similar acts.  That is just one aspect of what makes this song stand out.  Its lyrical content helps it stand out just as much as its musical content.  It comes across as addressing a figure that is the total opposite of the one addressed in the album’s opener.  As Fitzpatrick sings of this person, “Can I get a witness/In the darkness/Ain’t no love at all to be found/Feelin’ like a freight train/Tryin’ to break chains/Everybody needs somebody/No doubt.”  He goes on from here to address a figure that one would assume is a woman.  She is a woman who breaks those chains and makes the song’s subject get over those negative feelings.  The juxtaposition of the song’s second verse to that same chorus drives home the sentiment shared in the song’s lead verse.  That is noted as Fitzpatrick sings, “Can I get an amen/When the night ends/there’s no winner when you’re walkin’ alone/Slidin’ down the last street/As the day creeps/What you doin’/When nobody at home.”  The positive message presented in the song’s final chorus drives home the message that the song’s speaker is sending to the unnamed woman even more.  The song’s subject sings here, “Shake and strut/Touch and pump/Hand in hand/For one last touch.”  He is expressing the joy brought by having that one last dance, that one last time with the woman.  It serves quite well to drive home the feeling felt by the song’s subject.  This is someone that just wants to be with the woman whom he is addressing.  The song’s chorus makes that even clearer, too.  All things considered, the positive energy exhibited in the song’s musical arrangement and the positive vibes presented in its lyrical content combine to show in whole why this song is another of the record’s key compositions.  It is not the last example of what makes the album in whole worth hearing either.  The album’s closer shows just as much what makes this record another welcome effort from Fitz and The Tantrums.

‘Hand Clap’ and ‘Roll Up’ are both key examples of what makes FATT another good effort from Fitz and The Tantrums.  That is evident both in the songs’ musical arrangements and their lyrical content.  While both songs show to be good examples in their own right of what makes this new record another good effort from Fitz and the Tantrums, they aren’t the album’s only standout songs.  The album’s closer ‘A Place For Us’ is another key example of what makes this record worth hearing.  The hip-hop/pop hybrid sound at the base of the song’s musical arrangement plays a big part in this.  In and of itself that sound is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.  That is because it isn’t another one of those compositions for couples.  Rather it is a socially charged statement from the group.  This is clear as Fitzpatrick sings, “For all you broken renegades/Crash into your barricades/The future ain’t no guarantee/We’re all just floatin’ out at sea/Cause we’re marchin’ to the beat out in the open air/And we’re all just broken pieces/trying to fit somewhere/We wander round in circles and we talk in squares/But as long as we’re together w can go anywhere.”  If there was any doubt left in listeners’ minds as to the song’s subject here, the song’s closing verse (and the verses in-between) will eliminate that doubt entirely.  The same can be said of the song’s chorus in which the group’s members sing together, “Yeah there’s a place for us/Yeah there’s a place for us/Where only we can go/Where only we can go/So break down the door/Knock out the lights/We’re gonna be just fine/There’s a place for us/There’s a place for us.”  It is a message of self-confidence to listeners.  It is Fitzpatrick and company telling those “broken renegades” (outcasts) that there is a place for everybody and not to get down in life.  At least that is this critic’s take on the song.  It is a good way for the group to go out in its latest album and one more key example of what makes FATT such a welcome new offering from Fitz and The Tantrums.  Of course it is still not the last song that could be cited in making this statement either.  Any of the eight remaining songs not noted here could just as easily be cited in explaining what makes this record another good effort from Fitz and the Tantrums.  Keeping all of this in mind, the record in whole proves to be a record that fans new and old alike will appreciate in the end.

Fitz and The Tantrums’ new self-titled album is a good new effort from the Los-Angeles, CA-based pop outfit.  From its infectious opener about a woman apparently with a lot of baggage to its more upbeat song about a man crazy for a much better woman right to the social commentary in its closer there is plenty for audiences to appreciate here.  That includes the songs that were not noted here.  Whether for those songs, the ones that were noted or the whole package, Fitz and The Tantrums proves in whole to be a good new effort that fans new and old alike will appreciate.  It is available now in stores and online as well as at each of the shows on the group’s current live schedule.  More information on that tour is available online now along with more information on Fitz and The Tantrums and the band’s latest news at:










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