‘The Von Trapp Family’ Will Resonate With ‘The Sound Of Music’s’ Fans

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Sound Of Music is one of the greatest musicals in the genre’s modern history.  It is a tale that most would consider to be timeless.  That is because it tells a story of determination against great odds.  As beloved as it is, it is hardly perfect.  That is not so much because it is a musical but because it is yet another story that is based on actual events.  That means that alongside its factual material there is plenty of over embellishment, too.  Now thanks to Lionsgate a much more realistic story of the Von Trapp family has been released, making up for the decades of flourishes that fill out The Sound of Music.  It came earlier this spring in the form of The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music.  This movie is a must see for any fan of The Sound of Music and of the Von Trapp family and its history.  This is due in part to the movie’s writing.  This applies largely to the movie’s central and secondary story.  The story’s approach is another important part of its presentation.  Unlike The Sound of Music there are no musical numbers to extend the movie’s nearly two-hour run time.  Last but hardly least of note in this movie’s presentation is the work of the movie’s cast.  While the most well-known of the movie’s cast is Rosemary Harris, the cast in whole impresses in its work in front of the lens.  Of course one would be remiss to ignore the movie’s costume and makeup department or those that scouted out the movie’s filming locations.  They deserve their own share of credit, too.  All things considered The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music proves in the end to be a movie that despite being independent (and based on actual events) is a surprisingly entertaining and interesting story.

Lionsgate’s new take on the famed Von Trapp family The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a surprisingly entertaining and interesting story.  This is even despite the movie being an independent presentation and another story that is based on actual events.  That is due in large part to the movie’s writing.  The writing team of Christoph Silber, Tim Sullivan, and creative consultant Paul Gunczler crafted a story that is far more factual than fictional unlike The Sound of Music.  That is not to say that The Sound of Music doesn’t have some factual information within its story.  But its embellishments (musical numbers included) obviously outweigh its factual material.  In the case of this new Von Trapp family “biopic” audiences actually get a real look into the Von Trapp family’s real story.  That story includes Maria actually marrying Captain Von Trapp and the apparent fallout from that marriage.  According to Agathe’s story, she and Maria didn’t exactly see eye to eye even when Maria was just the Von Trapp children’s nanny.  In this story Agathe was the only of the Von Trapp children who had any problem with Maria, too.  Also of note in this story is that Agathe’s love interest is not turned into a Nazi.  Rather in this case he is in fact part of the resistance as the Nazi’s close in on Austria.  And his fate is anything but good as he stands against the Nazi henchmen who start wreaking havoc on the region.  There was also no mention of nuns, Maria having any link to a convent or even anyone tricking the Nazis as the Von Trapp family left their home.  On that note, they didn’t necessarily escape in this story.  Rather they were forced out due to pressure from the growing Nazi presence and barely escaped in the middle of the night.  These are just a few of the items that differ here from the story presented in The Sound of Music.  There is much more that audiences will catch when they watch The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music for themselves.  There are some items that stay the same between the two movie, hinting at some truth between the pair.  But there seems to be more fact to this story than fiction.

The story at the heart of The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a clear example of what makes the movie’s writing so integral to its presentation.  It is just one part of the script that makes the writing so important.  The movie’s secondary story plays its own part in proving the importance of the movie’s writing in its presentation.  The secondary story involves the now elderly Agathe tracking down her grand-daughter Kirsty (Lauryn Canny – Amber, 1,000 Times Good Night, Poison Pen) as Kirsty is on the verge of leaving her own family after a blowout argument with her father.  Agathe (Rosemary Harris – Spiderman, Spiderman 2, Spiderman 3) tracks her down and relates her own story to that of Kirsty, eventually convincing her to come back home and make amends with her father.  That story—a young person wanting to run away after a big fight with a parent, only to be persuaded to return home in the end—is anything but original.  And the fact that the movie’s writing team set it against a Christmas backdrop makes it all the more schmaltzy.  Truth be told they didn’t allow the Christmas backdrop overpower the movie’s bigger story, that of the Von Trapp as the Nazis closed in on Austria.  Keeping that in mind, while the movie’s secondary story is set against a holiday backdrop it is still a movie that audiences could watch any time.  Of course that backdrop doesn’t hurt its odds during the holiday season.  All things considered here the writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music proves in whole to be a hugely important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  It is not the movie’s only important element.  The movie’s general presentation is another important part of its presentation.

The writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is a hugely important part of the movie’s overall presentation.  That is thanks to the efforts of the movie’s writing team.  The movie’s writing team focused more on fact than fiction in crafting the movie’s script, and balancing the central story of the Von Trapp Family’s story with the script’s secondary story.  While the movie’s writing proves to be of the utmost importance to the movie’s presentation it is not the only important element to note in the movie’s presentation.  The approach taken by the writing team in crafting the movie’s script is just as important to note in the movie’s presentation.  Unlike The Sound of Music, The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music is not weighed down by musical numbers every few minutes.  As previously noted, the movie’s writers instead used a secondary story involving a new generation of Von Trapp’s to help tell the central story of the original Von Trapp family.  The transitions between the primary and secondary stories (I.E. past and present) are clear and concise from beginning to end.  On another level it is nice to see that the writers opted not to go the route taken by so many major blockbuster biopics with their approach to this story.  In other words it doesn’t have the sense of pretentiousness that those overblown cinematic offerings have about them.  Rather it presents the story with more of a personal feel.  That does a lot to help keep audiences engaged right up to the story’s final minutes.  All of these elements go into the approach taken by the movie’s writing team to show in whole why their approach in writing the movie’s script is just as important to the movie’s presentation as its very script.  Even as important as the writers’ approach proves to be in the bigger picture of this movie’s presentation, it still is not the last of the movie’s most notable elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important as any of the work put in by the movie’s writers.

The writing behind The Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music and the overall approach taken by the movie’s writing team in crafting the movie’s script are equally important to its presentation.  That is because both elements serve to set this “biopic” almost completely apart from The Sound of Music.  As important as both elements prove to be to the movie’s presentation they are not its only important elements.  The work of the movie’s cast is just as important as that put in by the movie’s writing team.  Rosemary Harris and Eliza Bennett (Inkheart, Nanny McPhee, Broadchurch), being the movie’s main stars, are to be especially commended for their portrayals of the older and younger Agathe Von Trapp respectively.  Bennett’s Agathe is a character that any female viewer will appreciate.  That is because of the balance of headstrong nature and vulnerability exhibited by Bennett in her portrayal of the younger Agathe.  By contrast, Harris’ take on Agathe is a much wiser and gentler figure.  That wisdom and gentility makes her Agathe a perfect contradiction to Bennett’s much younger, headstrong character.  The confidence is still there in Harris’ Agathe.  But it has been tempered because of her character’s years of life experience.  That balance of confidence and nurturing gentility makes Harris’ portrayal just as impressive as that of Bennett.  On another note, Matthew McFadyen (The Three Musketeers, Anna Karenina, Ripper Street) is impressive in his own right as Agathe’s father, Captain Georg Von Trapp.  This is especially exemplified in those moments in which he faces off against Maria and Agathe about leaving their home.  He does an applause-worthy job of presenting Georg’s mindset.  As Maria notes to Agathe at one point in the story, Georg was a proud man whose roots were in Austria’s older era.  The pain that he exhibits as Georg eventually and reluctantly agrees to the Von Trapp’s fate is so gripping.  It makes audiences feel for Georg perhaps more so here than in any other moment.  It is just one more example of why the work of this movie’s cast is as important as the work put in by the movie’s writers.  There are plenty of other moments that could just as easily be cited in exhibiting what makes the cast’s work so important to the movie’s presentation.  When those moments are set alongside the moments noted here and the work of the movie’s cast, the whole of those elements shows clearly why The Von Trapps: A Life of Music is a movie that any fan of The Sound of Music should see.  It also shows why this independent biopic is one of 2016’s top new independent movies.

The Von Trapps: A Life of Music is one of 2016’s top new independent movies.  It is a movie that any fan of The Sound of Music should see at least once if not more.  That is proven in part through the story crafted by the writing team of Christoph Silber, Tim Sullivan, and creative consultant Paul Gunczler.  The approach taken by the trio in crafting the story is as important to its presentation as the story itself.  The work of the movie’s cast rounds out the most important of the movie’s elements.  Each element proves important in its own way to the overall presentation of The Von Trapps: A Life of Music.  Collectively they make this movie one of the year’s top new independent movies.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via Lionsgate’s online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=34022&TitleParentId=10386.  More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.lionsgate.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lionsgatemovies

 

 

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‘Soulrocker’ Will Entertain And Inspire Audiences Of All Ages

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

On Friday, June 3rd Michael Franti and Spearhead will release their latest album Soulrocker.  The group’s ninth full-length studio recording, it is also one of this year’s top new albums overall.  It proves this with ease from beginning to end of its thirteen song, fifty-two minute run.  It does so both through the infectious grooves that make up the album’s musical foundation and its constantly positive lyrical themes.  One of the songs that serves as a prime example of the impact of that mix is the album’s lead single ‘We Are All Earthlings.’  It upbeat sound and its lyrical message of unity make it a song that will put a smile on very listener’s face, joy in their hearts, and a beat in their feet that they won’t want to end.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.  Its musical arrangement is just as infectious.  What’s more it doesn’t just recycle the sound presented in any of the album’s other songs.  The positive lyrics, which center on defying the odds, adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Last but hardly least of note in this record is ‘Once A Day.’  This song was previously released as part of the duo’s Once A Day EP, which featured various mixes of the song.  While the song presented here is just one mix of the song it is still just as infectious as its counterparts both on that EP and on this record.  That is mainly in reference to the song’s musical arrangement.  Its lyrical theme is very much in the same vein as the album’s lead single.  It promotes spreading love among the world’s people even if doing it just “once a day.”  It is just one more example of what makes Soulrocker stand out in this year’s field of new releases.  It is hardly the last song that could be cited in showing what makes Soulrocker rock.  Any of the album’s remaining ten songs not noted here could just as easily be cited in that argument.  All things considered Soulrocker proves in the end with its mix of musical and lyrical content to be one of 2016’s top new albums overall.

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s upcoming album Soulrocker is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is an album that presents an act that is still at the top of its game.  That is clear from the beginning to the end of the thirteen song, fifty-two minute album.  That is thanks to a solid mix of infectious musical arrangements and optimistic lyrical themes.  One of the songs included in the album that best exemplifies the effect of that mix is the album’s lead single ‘We Are All Earthlings.’  The song’s infectious beats will get any listener on his or her feet.  What’s more it’s not just another standard bass heavy EDM composition either.  Franti uses an acoustic guitar as the foundation of that composition.  It remains present throughout the course of the song’s nearly four-minute run time and is never overpowered at any point in the song.  The balance of the two elements together makes the song’s musical arrangement a composition that will put a smile on any listener’s face with ease.  In the same vein the song’s lyrical theme will just as easily send positive vibes through listeners.  Franti sings in this song, “We are all earthlings/And we share the air we breathe/We’re all made from heaven’s seeds/And we are all earthlings.”  That is just in the song’s lead verse.  He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “We are all earthlings/From the cities to the mountains/And the deserts/And the deep blue sea/to the palaces and the prisons/And the paradises that I see/That we are all earthlings.”  Franti leaves no doubt as to the message being delivered.  And in an age when this world has become so divided it is a message from which everyone would benefit in hearing.  That positive message joins with the song’s equally upbeat musical arrangement to make the song in whole a composition that is one of Soulrocker’s best works.  It is one of the best examples of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is hardly the only song that serves that argument.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘We Are All Earthlings’ is a prime example of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  Its upbeat musical arrangement and its positive lyrical content work together to make it a composition that will put a smile on listeners’ faces, and warmth in their souls.  It is a composition that the whole world needs to hear especially in this day and age.  It is just one example of what makes Soulrocker…well…rock.  ‘Still Standing’ is another example of what makes this record stand out so proudly.  The song’s musical arrangement establishes a solid foundation for the song.  That is due to the mix of its electronic and acoustic elements.  The acoustic elements include bongos and Franti’s own work on acoustic guitar.  The electronic element is largely keyboard driven.  What’s really interesting here is the balance of each noted element.  Each part is expertly balanced with the others from beginning to end.  The end result is an arrangement that even in its simplicity is just as infectious as that of ‘We Are All Earthlings’ and any of the album’s other songs.  The song’s lyrical content adds even more depth to the song thanks to its positive lyrical theme.  It is a theme to which every listener of every age can relate at those many difficult times in life.  He sings here, “There was a time just the other day/When I was on the ground lookin’ up sayin’/Please God listen to the words I say/Show me a sign/I wanna change my way/No more no wait/I want life to begin/I want to start this minute all over again/Next train comin’ my way/I’m gonna jump right in/And leave like yesterday.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “It’s been a long, long road this way/But I’m still standing today/And I don’t care what anybody say/Cause I’m still standing today.”  Who hasn’t been in that position of desperation, wishing they could go back wishing they could just go back and start certain parts of life again?  Franti’s subject goes on to sing in the song’s second verse of having found clarity of mind and direction.  In turn he declares that he is moving forward in life, jumping on that train with happiness in his heart.  It is a story from which listeners, again, of all ages can take something.  Again, that positive message, when partnered with the song’s expertly balanced yet simple musical arrangement, the two elements together make the song in whole yet another piece that will entertain audiences and inspire them at the same time.  It is still not the last song that does this.  ‘Once A Day’ will entertain and inspire listeners just as much as ‘We Are All Earthlings’ and ‘Still Standing.’

‘We Are All Earthlings’ and ‘Still Standing’ are both key examples of what makes Soulrocker one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  Both songs easily entertain and inspire audiences with their mix of musical arrangements and lyrical themes.  While both songs use that mix to show what makes Soulrocker so impressive they are not the only songs on this album that do so.  ‘Once A Day’ impresses and entertains listeners just as much as those previously noted songs.  The song’s reggae/hip-hop hybrid sound serves as the song’s foundation, with Franti of course at the heart of it all on guitar.  The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out so much.  Its lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical content.  Its message in question is another message of togetherness and spreading love around the world.  Sure, it sounds hippie-esque.  But again considering the current state of the world, it is a message that everybody should hear.  Franti sends that message as he sings, ““You never know what the world is gonna show you/It ain’t up to you/You always think it’s gonna happen to another person/And it’s never ever gonna happen to you/You got your friends/Got your money/Got your family/Got your honey/You think you got a million days/But then life comes along/And it knocks you right down/To the ground/And that’s why I say that/Everybody oughtta hug somebody/At least once a day/And everybody oughtta kiss somebody/At least once a day/Everybody’s gonna miss somebody/At least once a day/And everybody gotta love somebody/Everyday.”  He goes on to sing in the song’s chorus, “And we all will rise up/Spread your wings and fly/We all will rise up. From there Franti and Spearhead rap in the song’s second verse “The purpose of life is to live a life full of purpose/And so don’t ever take for granted what the spirit has given you/in the first verse/You might never get a second verse/The same rehearsal/You can’t put it in reverse/So just believe in yourself/Don’t let nobody be a negative/Tell you what to do.” Regardless of one’s age, this is a message that every person should take to heart in his or her everyday life. Both verses together compose a message that is far too rare in the mainstream music industry today. The song’s infectious reggae and hip-hop-infused sound adds even more enjoyment to the song, too. It is a sound that makes it a perfect fit on any Top 40 A/C station across the country and would likely be just as welcome, too. The positive, uplifting message is sure to make it just as welcome at said stations.  It is just one more example of what makes Soulrocker stand out so starkly in this year’s field of new albums. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via Michael Franti and Spearhead’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gowi31zGyQA.  Together with the other noted songs and those pieces not directly noted, the album in whole proves to be one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is an album that every listener of every age should hear upon its release this Friday.

Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker is one of 2016’s top new albums overall.  It is a record that every listener of every age should hear at least once if not more times.  That is due in part to the infectious grooves established in each one of the album’s musical arrangements.  The songs’ positive lyrical themes add even more depth and appreciation to the album.  All things considered Soulrocker proves in the end to be a record that deserves a spot on any critic’s list of this year’s top new albums overall.  It will be available in stores and online this Friday, June 3rd.  More information on Soulrocker is available online now along with all of Franti and Spearhead’s live dates, news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.michaelfranti.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/michaelfranti

 

 

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No Tricks Here: Imagine Dragons’ New Live Recording Is Musical Magic

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Universal Music Group

Imagine Dragons is one of the biggest bands in America today if not the world.  That goes without saying.  Ever since its original formation in 2008 the band has sold millions of albums, earned more than its share of awards and nominations, appeared on any number of TV shows, and entertained audiences the world over.  It even has a brand new single out on the soundtrack to the new romantic dramedy Me Before You.  Even in taking some obviously much-needed time off, the band still isn’t showing any sign of stopping.  That is because this summer the band will release its first official live recording in the form of Smoke & Mirrors Live.  It will be released Friday, June 3rd via Eagle Rock Entertainment.  Whether or not a person is a fan of this Las Vegas, NV-based band’s audiences will agree that this record is one more of 2016’s top new live recordings and yet more proof of why Eagle Rock Entertainment is the leading name in live recordings.  This is proven in part by the concert’s set list.  That will be discussed shortly.  The band’s performance and the overall production are just as important to note in the recording’s presentation as the show’s set list.  The concert’s varied platforms and packaging are just as notable in the recording’s presentation as the set list and overall stage show.  They round out the most notable of the recording’s elements.  Each noted element shows in its own way to be of its own importance to the recording.  Altogether they show clearly why Smoke & Mirrors Live is one of this year’s top new live recordings.  They also show once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment stands tall to this day as the leading name in live recordings today.

Imagine Dragons’ new live recording Smoke + Mirrors Live is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  It is also more proof as to why Eagle Rock Entertainment stands tall to this day as the leading name in live recordings.  This is proven in part through the concert’s set list.  The concert boasts a total of twenty songs.  Some of those songs stand alone and others are part of mini-medleys.  In all the show’s set list pulls almost evenly from both of the band’s albums so far.  No fewer than seven songs were lifted from the band’s 2012 debut record Night Visions and ten others from Smoke & Mirrors.  The band even included some songs that were included only in certain limited editions of Smoke & Mirrors in the set in the form of ‘Warriors’ and ‘Thief’ alongside a cover of the song ‘Forever Young.’  That covers the show’s twenty total songs.  While the set list does an impressive job of covering the band’s body of work so far, there is a slight issue with the set’s presentation.  The concert’s Blu-ray/CD combo pack features the concert in whole on Blu-ray.  However some of the songs included in the concert’s Blu-ray presentation were omitted in its CD presentation.  What’s more, some of the interludes that are included in the Blu-ray presentation were also omitted from the CD presentation. It is problematic to a point that the noted elements have been omitted from the set’s CD presentation.  But thankfully at least in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack audiences do still get the full set list and concert experience regardless.  Not having the DVD presentation this critic cannot comment on that presentation.  Keeping that in mind the set list still proves to be its own important part of S+M Live’s presentation.  It is not the show’s only important element.  The band’s performance couples with its overall production to form another of the recording’s most important elements.

The set list presented in S+M Live (as it will henceforth be known) is its own important part of the recording’s presentation.  That is because it lifts liberally from both of the band’s current albums including songs that were only available in exclusive limited editions of Smoke + Mirrors.  Even with the set list being abridged–so to speak–in the recording’s CD presentation, placing the CD with the Blu-ray in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack makes up for that and for the omission of the interludes, too.  While the set list ultimately proves important in its own right to the recording’s presentation the band’s performance and stage production are collectively just as important to the recording as the set list.  Front man Dan Reynolds keeps audiences completely entertained both in the concert’s more reserved moments and those that are more fiery.  That is because of the emotion and energy that he exuded in each moment.  Simply put he showed that he was completely involved in the performance.  He wasn’t just phoning it in.  Sadly there are performers who do try to phone it in.  In some cases it works.  In others it obviously doesn’t.  Luckily his is neither case.  His band mates—Wayne Sermon (guitar), Daniel Platzman (drums), and Ben McKee (bass)—along with the rest of the band’s touring members mirror that energy in their own performances.  The collective whole of their performances will keep audiences at home just as entertained as those that were in attendance at the concert’s recording.

On a related note to the band’s performance, the concert’s general stage production plays its own role in the recording’s presentation.  There’s no pyro or seizure-inducing strobes at any point through the show.  Rather, the band utilizes a minimalist set for its show.  There are some monitors that utilize lights within their displays.  But they are really the extent of the show’s “special effects.”  This limits the use of the lights which in turn actually makes them a hugely element in illustrating the mood of each song’s mood.  The lights brighten at all of the right moments and dim in the same fashion. They even change colors at just the right moments in order to help illustrate the songs’ mood.  When they do start pulsating, that action is limited even in those moments.  Simply put the minimalist production used in the band’s stage show proves just as important to the band’s performance as the band’s performance itself.  The two work hand in hand in entertaining audiences and keeping them engaged.  They show in whole that they are indeed just as important to the concert’s presentation as its relatively extensive set list.  They are hardly the last of the recording’s most notable elements.  The concert’s platforms and packaging round out its most notable elements.

The set list presented in Smoke + Mirrors Live is its own important part of the recording’s overall presentation.  That is the case even with the set list varying between the recording’s visual and audio presentation.  The band’s performance and stage production couple for another important part of the recording’s presentation.  That is because they work so well together to entertain audiences with their collective energy.  There is no arguing the importance of each noted element in the recording’s overall presentation.  As important as they are to the whole of the recording they are not the recording’s only important elements.  The varied platforms and packaging of the recording are just as important to its presentation as any of the other noted elements.  In regards to its platforms it is available in the Blu-ray/CD combo pack which is being examined here.  It is also available in a DVD/CD combo pack, standalone DVD and Blu-ray platform, and various digital platforms.  This might not seem like much on the surface.  But in presenting it in all three formats (and each format being “extended”) Eagle Rock and Universal Music have covered all of their bases.  They have essentially reached out to every possible audience group.  This was an extremely wise course of action for all involved.  The recording’s packaging is just as important as its platforms.  That applies primarily to the concert’s physical platforms.  Audiences will note that the packaging for both the DVD/CD combo pack and Blu-ray/CD combo pack is exactly the same.  It presents both halves of the recording in a gatefold packaging.  The discs are each placed on their own spindle in their own respective spot inside the packaging.  This greatly reduces the odds of damage to the case and the discs.  Audiences that are familiar with multi-disc CD packaging will note that many labels today use thin, plates in the middle of a standard sized CD case in order to save space on CD racks.  That does save space.  But as thin as said inserts are, they are very prone to breaking because of their fragility.  The material used for inserts in multi-disc DVD and Blu-ray packaging is more durable, making it smarter for that platform.  Keeping all of this in mind, the packaging used for this (and many other live recordings from Eagle Rock Entertainment) might be bulkier than those from other labels.  But it is more durable and better protects the recordings’ discs.  So to that end, Smoke + Mirrors Live’s packaging proves in the bigger picture to be just as important to its presentation as its set list, stage production and performance by the band.  Each element is equally important in its own right to the recording’s overall presentation.  Even the program’s main menu plays its own part in the concert’s presentation.  Audiences get to see the band prepare for its performance in the recording’s menu.  There are also snippets of said performance played against the menu.  And they aren’t just short, little snippets either.  They are solid samples of each song. Between that and everything else that has been noted audiences get in whole here a recording that audiences in whole will appreciate.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the band’s body of work.

Imagine Dragons’ new live recording Smoke + Mirrors Live is a recording that every viewer will appreciate.  This applies regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the band’s body of work.  This is due in part to the recording’s extensive set list.  The band’s performance and its general stage production work together to keep audiences entertained and engaged from beginning to end.  The packaging of both the DVD/CD and Blu-ray/CD combo pack plays its own important part in the recording’s overall presentation, too.  The concert’s main menu proves important to its presentation, too even as minor as it may seem.  Each element is important to the concert’s presentation in its own special way.  Altogether they make Smoke + Mirrors Live a concert that audiences will not only appreciate but will agree is one of 2016’s top new live recordings.  They will agree, too that it proves once more why Eagle Rock Entertainment still stands tall as the leading name in live recordings.  It will be available in stores and online Friday, June 3rd.  More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

More information on Smoke + Mirrors Live is available online now along with all of Imagine Dragons’ latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/imaginedragons

 

 

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Five Finger Death Punch Signs New Deal With Rise Records

Courtesy:  Rise Records

Courtesy: Rise Records

Rise Records added a major name to its roster this week.

Officials with Rise Records announced this week that the label has added Five Finger Death Punch to its roster.  The  new deal will see the band release its albums domestically through Rise Records once it completes its obligations with its current label, Prospect Park.

Five Finger Death Punch originally formed in 2005 and have since released six hugely successful albums, five of which have gone on to be certified gold, another certified platinum, and another on the way.  The band’s current lineup is made up of Ivan Moody (vocals), Zoltan Bathory (guitar), Jason Hook (guitar), Jeremy Spencer (drums), and Chris Kael (bass).  Bathory discussed the band’s addition to Rise Records’ roster in a recent interview.  He didn’t hold back about the band’s motivation for its decision to move forward either.  “We are looking forward to the next phase of our recording career,” he said.  “We have had great success with our current label, Prospect Park, and will continue to enjoy further success with our next and final album (subject to surmounting the label’s court action to prevent us from recording it), after which we will commence a new and exciting label partnership with the people at Rise and BMG.”

The band will join an already stacked roster when it begins its stint with Rise Records.  The label’s roster currently includes: Of Mice and Men, PVRIS, Crown The Empire, Memphis May Fire, Tiger Army, Hot Water Music, and many others.

More information on Five Finger Death Punch’s signing with Rise Records is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.fivefingerdeathpunch.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FFDP

 

 

Additional information on the band’s signing is available online at:

 

 

Website: http://www.riserecords.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/riserecords

 

 

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The Winery Dogs Announce New Live Dates; Debut New Video

Mike Portnoy, Richie Kotzen, and Billy Sheehan, also known as the Winery Dogs, have announced a new string of live dates for this summer.

The band announced this week that it has added a new 10-date North American tour set to kick off Saturday, June 25th in Hinckley, Minnesota.  The band’s current schedule takes it largely through the Midwest and southwest with dates also in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky, and Texas.  As of right now no additional dates are known.  However, fans can always keep up with any new dates through the band’s official website and social media.  The band’s current tour schedule is noted below.

 

Check out THE WINERY DOGS at any of the following stops:

 

DATE               CITY                             VENUE

 

Sat 6/25            Hinckley, MN                 Grand Casino Amphitheatre

Tue 6/28            Eau Claire, WI               State Theater

Wed 6/29          Ashwaubenon, WI          Green Bay Distillery

Thu 6/30            St. Charles, IL               Arcadia Theater

Sat 7/2              Hazard, KY                   The Forum

Sun 7/3             Sterling Heights, MI       Stars & Stripes Festival

Tue 7/5             Buffalo, NY                   Taft Music Hall

Fri 7/8               Houston, TX                  Warehouse Live

Sat 7/9              Dallas, TX                     Gas Monkey Live

Sun 7/10           San Antonio, TX            Alamo

 

In anticipation of its new tour announcement the band has unveiled the video for its latest single ‘Captain Love.’  The song will start hitting radio stations nationwide June 3rd.  It is taken from the band’s latest album Hot Streak.  The Vicente Cordero-directed video is currently streaming online at Guitar World. The band discussed the video recently in an interview which can be seen here now.

 

Courtesy:  Loud and Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud and Proud Records

 

Hot Streak has proven to be an apt title for The Winery Dogs’ new album.  Ever since its release on October 2nd, 2015, the album has been on its own hot streak.  It reached the top spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers/Hard Rock chart and its Pre-orders/Hard Rock chart.  In comparison to the band’s 2013 debut album Hot Streak sold 30% more copies than that record.  It topped out at the #2 spot on Billboard’s Top Current Alternative Albums Chart and #30 on the Top 200 Albums Chart.  That is just the top of the proverbial iceberg.  The numbers listed below are its other accolades from Billboard.

 

#5                     “Top Current Hard Music”

 

#5                     “Top Hard Music Albums”

 

#6                     “Top Current Rock Albums”

 

#6                     “Album Core / Genre Rock”

 

#15                   “Top Current Physical Albums”

 

#16                   “Top Current Albums”

 

 

More information on The Winery Dogs’ new tour dates, single, album and more is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.TheWineryDogs.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheWineryDogs

 

 

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.

Hank, Pattie & The Current Is A Solid Debut For Smith, Kinlaw, And Company

Courtesy:  Robust Records

Courtesy: Robust Records

Six years ago The Morning After released its debut album Starless Nights.  The eleven-song record was an impressive first effort from the Raleigh, North Carolina-based sextet.  After extensive touring and writing, the band finally released its sophomore album Wonder & Fury four years later.  Sadly it looks as though that album would also be the band’s last as the band has apparently gone on an indefinite hiatus.  In its place former members Hank Smith and Pattie Hawkins Kinlaw joined forces to start a new band, Hank, Pattie, and The Current.  The band recently released its debut album on the Chapel Hill, NC-based label Robust Records.  The fourteen-song, fifty-two minute record is a welcome return for the duo and its new band mates.  Largely gone are the poppier sounds crafted by The Morning After.  They have been replaced here by a mix of pure folk and bluegrass.  Kinlaw’s vocals are just as powerful as ever.  And Smith’s own work on the banjo is just as impressive.  The added talents of the duo’s fellow musicians enrich the album even more.  The end result is an album that gives great hope that Smith and Kinlaw have finally hit on something and are finally on the right path.  It is one of the year’s top new offerings in the combined fields of folk, bluegrass, country, and Americana.

Hank, Pattie, and The Current is a good new start for Hank Smith and Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw.  Unlike the duo’s work in their previous band the songs featured in this record present an album that comes across as being far more focused.  That is evident as the “poppy” sounds so common in that work have been replaced by a purer combination of bluegrass, folk, and Americana.  One of the songs that best exemplifies the noted bluegrass sound is ‘Travelin’ Man.’ The song comes almost halfway through the album’s fifty-two minute run time.  In regards to its musical content, this is as pure as bluegrass can get.  It is very much akin to the work that Smith composed on his 2014 album Impulse alongside Lindsay Tims.  Even in a supporting role here Smith is impressive in his picking.  Mrs. Kinlaw is just as deserving of credit thanks to her work on the fiddle.  Of course vocalist Benjamin Parker can’t be ignored either as he sings about…well…a traveling man.  He is a man with no roots and apparently just can’t settle down no matter how hard he tries.  Parker’s subject notes this as he sings, “I’ve been in and out of places/And it’s always hard to stay/Try to tell the ladies I’m broken/Try to fend them all away/When they see that handsome stranger/Their hearts are sure to cave/And as far back as I can remember/I’ve traveled ‘cross this land/So baby/Try not to be tempted/’Cause I’m a travelin’ man.”  He even goes so far as to note his efforts to settle down, singing, “Try to do some changes/Make my habits like the rest/Settle down and make a living/But that didn’t pass the test/So rev up the engines/And let’s go someplace fine/But keep that tank full, baby/Cause I’ll be leavin’ in your time.”  Simply put this is a man who cannot sit still no matter how hard he tries.  It just isn’t in his nature.  It is a timeless lyrical theme used throughout the history of bluegrass and country.  And it works just as well here as in the countless cases in which it has been used before.  The energy exhibited in the song’s musical content couples with Parker’s lyrics and his vocal swagger to show clearly why this song is one of this record’s highest points.  They also collectively help to exhibit the previously noted focus present throughout this record.  In whole it is just one song that serves to show that focus.  ‘Better Life’ is another of the record’s offerings that shows said focus.

‘Travelin’ Man’ is an excellent example of the focus presented throughout the course of Hank, Pattie & The Current.  The song’s hybrid country/bluegrass sound and its timeless lyrical theme couple with the swagger in vocalist Benjamin Parker’s delivery to make it a song that every bluegrass and country fan should hear and will want to hear.  It is as pure as country and bluegrass can get.  It is just one of the songs included in this record that exhibits the group’s focus.  ‘Better Life’ is another song that exhibits that focus.  The Americana style sound of the song’s musical arrangement forms the song’s foundation.  Between Smith and Kinlaw’s own work and that of their fellow musicians, the arrangement in question presents itself as a beautiful and moving composition.  It is a gentle, flowing piece that will touch listeners at their deepest points even without the song’s lyrical content.  What is interesting is the song’s choice of lyrical content.  It delivers a handful of stories that are classic country through and through.  They are stories of life’s difficult situations beginning with a story of a person helping friends move away after trying so hard to keep the situation from happening.  There is also a short little story about a person working hard, trying to make a life for himself and his family.  It all ends with a person sitting at a bar, drinking his sorrows away after having lost his woman.  From one story to the next Kinlaw and Parker tug so hard at listeners’ heart strings as they present the stories.  This is so important to note because in reality, without the addition of those stories, this song honestly would have been a completely different composition had it been just an instrumental piece.  Its musical arrangement alone gives the song a completely different, more optimistic vibe.  Keeping in mind all of this it becomes clear why ‘Better Life’ is another important addition to Hank, Pattie & The Current.  It shows a real, clear focus among the musicians.  It still is not the last song that exemplifies that focus, either.  ‘Wilkesboro Waltz’ is yet another wonderful example of that focus.

‘Travelin’ Man’ and ‘Better Life’ are both wonderful examples of the focus presented by Smith, Kinlaw, and their fellow musicians in the group’s debut self-titled LP.  The prior is a pure bluegrass piece that also presents a hint of country both in its musical arrangement and its lyrical theme.  The latter is a beautiful, moving piece that will touch listeners in so many ways thanks to its lyrical and musical content.  The musical content alone presents a moving piece that presents a rather positive vibe.  However, that vibe completely changes with the addition of its lyrical content.  That dual presentation makes this song one of the album’s highest points and most important additions.  As important as both songs are to the album’s presentation they are not the album’s only important songs.  ‘Wilkesboro Waltz’ is one more example of the focus presented throughout this record.  The song is a completely instrumental composition.  Its gentle, flowing melody, conjures images of warm summer sunrises in the North Carolina mountains, the dew drying on the plants, and fog from the night before gently lifting as the hours pass.  From the melody to the two-part harmony the song boasts a pure folk sound that even harkens back to the European roots of the style.  It is a sound that every lover of folk, Americana, bluegrass, and country will appreciate.  It is just one more prime example of what makes this record such an impressive debut from Hank, Pattie & The Current.  Together with the album’s other offerings it proves in the end to be a solid new beginning for Smith, Kinlaw, and their new band mates, and hopefully one that will lead to a long and fruitful career for years to come.

Hank, Pattie & The Current is only the first full-length offering from Hank Smith, Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw, and their new band mates.  Even being their first, there is a wholly noticeable difference between this group and The Morning After, Smith and Kinlaw’s previous band.  This record is so much more focused than those of The Morning After.  Its sound is more directed and pure.  Its lyrical content adds to that focus.  The songs noted here are prime examples of that focus.  The songs not noted here could just as easily be cited in that argument.  All things considered Hank, Patti & The Current proves in the end to be a solid new beginning for Smith, Kinlaw, and their new band mates.  Hopefully it is only the beginning in a long and fruitful career for the band.  More information on Hank, Pattie & The Current is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news, tour updates and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.hankandpattie.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hankandpattie

 

 

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.

UDR Music Releasing New Live Motorhead Recording

Courtesy:  UDR Music/Motorhead Music

Courtesy: UDR Music/Motorhead Music

Earlier this year the rock community and the music community lost a legend when Lemmy Kilmister passed away.  His passing was a surprise to most.  Though, he had battled ongoing health issues in the last year or so of his life.  This understanding helped to reduce the shock of the Motorhead front man’s passing.  Now as a tribute of sorts to both Kilmister and to Motorhead UDR Music has announced that it will release a new live Motorhead recording next month.

UDR Music will release Clean Your Clock Friday, June 10th.  The concert presented within the recording is one of the band’s final live performances by the band before Kilmister’s untimely passing earlier this year.  It was recorded during a performance by the band in Munich, Germany in 2015.  The performance was recorded during the band’s two-night stand in Munich from November 20th and 21st, 2015.  In anticipation of the recording’s release, audiences can check out the band’s performance of the recording’s title song online now here.  Those that might be prone to epileptic seizures are cautioned about the video due to the continuous flashing lights used during the performance.

 

Courtesy:  UDR Music/Motorhead Music

Courtesy: UDR Music/Motorhead Music

 

Audiences can also check out the new live video for ‘Bomber’ here.

 

Courtesy:  UDR Music/Motorhead Music

Courtesy: UDR Music/Motorhead Music

 

Clean Your Clock will be available on a number of platforms including: standalone CD, Vinyl, CD/DVD combo pack, Blu-ray/CD combo pack, and Digital Download.  It will also be available in two exclusive limited edition box sets.  The first, a Limited Edition zinc allow Motorhead Forever edition, can be pre-ordered here.  The second, a Limited Edition Silver/Gold Pin edition will be available exclusively via UDR here.  The recording’s track listing is noted below.

Clean Your Clock Tracklisting:

Bomber / Stay Clean / Metropolis / When The Sky Comes Looking For You / Over The Top / (Guitar Solo) The Chase Is Better Than The Catch / Lost Woman Blues/ Rock It / Orgasmatron / Doctor Rock / Just ‘Cos You Got The Power/ No Class/ Ace Of Spades/ Whorehouse Blues / Overkill

 

More information on Clean Your Clock is available online now along with all of the latest Morothead news at:

 

 

Website: http://www.udr-music.com, http://www.motorhead.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UDR.Music,                  http://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead

Twitter: http://twitter.com/UdrMusic, http://twitter.com/myMotorhead

 

 

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.