Fifth Harmony Gets Spooky With Hotel Transylvania 2 Soundtrack’s Lead Single

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Animation

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Animation

Adam Sandler and company are back. Next month, Sony Pictures Animation will release Hotel Translyvania 2. And ahead of the highly anticipated movie’s release, the hit pop group Fifth Harmony has debuted the lead single from the movie’ s sound track ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ and audiences can check it out online now via Vevo.

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Audiences can check out the video for ‘I’m In Love With A Monster’ online now via Vevo at http://www.vevo.com/watch/fifth-harmony/Im-In-Love-With-a-Monster-(from-Hotel-Transylvania-2)/USSM21501512. The video mixes together footage of the group performing its song in various settings along with footage from the movie as well as appearances from some rather spooky guests. While many of the group’s songs are generally aimed at specific audiences, the infectious grooves and family friendly lyrical content are sure to make the song just one more part of the movie that families will enjoy.

Fifth Harmony is currently winding down its “Reflection Summer Tour.” It is currently scheduled to perform live at Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland on Saturday, September 5th and at the Washington State Fair on Wednesday, September 16th. After those two dates, the group will take some down time, it will be back on Stage on Wednesday, December 2nd at the SAP Center in San Jose, California. All of the latest updates on Fifth Harmony’s tour is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.fifthharmonyofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/fifthharmony

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.

Pop Punk Fans Will Enjoy SOL’s Debut LP

Courtesy:  Standby Records

Courtesy: Standby Records

New Jersey may not be one of the most popular states in the nation. But the “armpit of America” has proven for decades that it is anything but that. Being home to the likes of the New Jersey Devils from the NHL, and music legends such as Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, the “Garden State” exhibits just as much diversity as a floral garden. Now another band has come along in the form of Stories of Living to add even more diversity to that culture “garden.” The five-piece pop punk band (formerly Time Will Tell) has officially released its debut album Save Your Breath and is streaming it in full via YouTube. The twelve-track album instantly conjures thoughts of New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and A Day to Remember just to name a few comparisons. That being the case, it is a good record for any pop punk fan from start to finish beginning with the album’s opener ‘Enough is Enough.’ The up-tempo rocker centers on a relationship gone bad but musically is not one of those oh-woe-is-me style pieces. It makes for a solid opener and first impression for the band. ‘Enemies Like Me,’ which comes just before the album’s midway point, is another standout track for the band. Its standard pop punk approach makes it just as engaging as any of the album’s other offerings. In regards to its lyrical content, front man Chris Rivers, leaves nothing to question in terms as he sings about fake friends and how they need “enemies like me.” It isn’t a negative piece despite its title. Rather it’s a song sung from the standpoint of someone saying to said fake friends that they need to be put in their place; someone to show others how fake they are. This is something to which listeners of all ages can relate, not just the band’s likely intended younger audiences. ‘Skin Deep,’ is another example of what the band’s fans and pop punk fans alike will enjoy about this record. It is that standard acoustic piece that seems prevalent in so many other pop punk, emo, etc. style records. But it is also rather interesting lyrically. Thanks to its lyrical content, it will definitely have listeners both thinking and talking. Whether for this song, for the album’s opener, or for the likes of ‘Enemies Like Me,’ Stories of Living shows in its debut record to be a good first effort for the Sparta, New Jersey-based band. The same could be said of any of the album’s other offerings, too. Altogether, the twelve tracks that make up this record offer plenty of value for the pop punk legions out there and in turn make ‘Save Your Breath’ an album that every pop punk fun will want to hear at least once before this year is out.

Stories of Living’s debut album Save Your Breath is a good first effort for the Sparta, New Jersey-based pop punk outfit. That is thanks in large part to the fact that the album’s twelve total tracks instantly remind audiences of other more established pop punk acts such as New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and A Day To Remember. Even with such similarities, the work of the band’s members–Chris Rivers (vocals), Bob Alcavage (guitar), Mike Larned (guitar), Nick Borelli (bass), and Mike Tizzano (drums)–still leads to a record that holds its own against those more well-known acts. That is obvious in the album’s opener ‘Enough is Enough.’ Right from the song’s outset, it instantly conjures thoughts of New Found Glory through its musical content. Rivers’ lyrics seemingly centered on a relationship gone bad will entertain listeners just as much. He sings of the relationship, “Is it alright/If I don’t know what it means to have a good night/Or that I’m just now believing it’s the truth/And now I see/That you always planned to use me…the only thing I want to tell you is/Enough is enough/And I don’t want to hear it/I’m wasting my time while you’re breaking my spirit/Keeping in mind all the time that you wasted/I don’t think that you have what it takes to make it/Judging by the fact that you’ve given up so slowly/Dragging me along/Did I really look that lonely/You may look fine tonight/But don’t think you have what it takes to make it right.” This is just the song’s lead verse and chorus. The remaining lyrical content is quite similar to say the very least. But that verse alone drives home this song’s topic clearly and efficiently. What is really good about the overall lyrical content of the song is that it isn’t one of those oh-woe-is-me style songs about a broken relationship. Rather as Rivers notes, “Now I see that you always planned to use me…the only thing I want to tell you is enough is enough,” it is a song in which the subject presents great personal strength. This is someone that finally saw the light rather than being blinded and is determined to make a positive change. That and the song’s positive musical tone come together to make this song again, a good starting point for the band on its debut record and an equally good representation of the band’s offerings on this album.

‘Enough is Enough’ shows itself to be a good starting point for SOL’s debut album and an equally good representation of what the band has to offer in the album in whole. It is just one song that serves as a good representation of the material that makes up the album’s body. ‘Enemies Like Me’ is another good example of what makes this record a worthwhile listen for any pop punk fans out there. In regards to its musical content it is another familiar piece for pop punk fans with the percussive nature of the guitar lines in the song’s opening bars and the catchy hooks and riffs that follow. The lyrical content is just as accessible for listeners. That is because of what would seem to be the song’s lyrical theme. Considering the lead verse in which Rivers sings, “Friends stay friends but now it’s all too late/It’s not the same/Losing friends with false intentions/Just don’t seem/I’m better off/Learning the hard way/I tried for the last time days ago/How could I know the outcome/We’ve changed in the past three years, I know/Nothing like/You’d better know/So/Don’t think you have me all figured out/Cause if you knew me you’d know better than to open your mouth or call me out.” That’s a pretty clear statement. And its a statement to which listeners of all ages and kids can relate. There are just as many adults like the ones that Rivers’ subject sings about as there are younger people like those people. What’s more , Rivers isn’t really exaggerating about those people, either. Because it boasts such an ability to relate to such a broad spectrum of listeners, this song shows even more why it is another good representation for SOL’s debut record.

‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘Enemies Like Me’ are both good representative songs for SOL’s new album Save Your Breath. While both songs show in their own way why pop punk fans will appreciate Save Your Breath, they are not the album’s only good representative songs. ‘Skin Deep’ is one more good example of what said fans can expect from this record. It is yet another standard style pop punk piece that most listeners will recognize in regards to its musical content. That being the case its lyrical content lies at the center of its success. Rivers sings in the song’s chorus, “It’s killing me to say please/Don’t take away the only thing/That makes me me/I’m only skin deep/And happy in my sleep.” He adds to this by singing in the chorus’ refrain, “I’ve gotta believe/This world will take me somewhere when my life succeeds/A dream/So please don’t ever wake me.” Whether Rivers is speaking metaphorically here or literally from the point perhaps of someone struggling with thoughts of depression would be interesting to learn. the supposition of someone struggling with depression comes as he sings about being happy in one’s sleep. It could easily be interpreted that the sleep in question is one’s daydreams, not literally sleep. That could lead to the interpretation of someone saying that he or she is only happy in their daydream world, and that they don’t want that taken away. This is, as always, just the interpretation of this critic. It is not gospel. It could very well be wrong. Regardless, Rivers’ ability to generate so much discussion makes it just as worth the listen as the previously discussed songs or any of the album’s other nine songs not directly noted here. Whether for those songs or for the ones discussed here, it can be said of Save Your Breath in whole that it is in fact a record that any pop punk fan will want to hear at least once.

Save Your Breath, the debut album from Stories of Life is a good record for any pop punk fan to hear at least once if not more. The dozen songs that compose the body of the album are chock full of familiar pop punk sounds that will keep said listeners engaged from start to finish. Its overall lyrical content from beginning to end is just as certain to keep listeners’ ears throughout. The combination of those factors lead Save Your Breath once again to prove itself an album that any pop punk fan will want to hear at least once. It is available now in stores and online . It can be ordered online now via iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon. The band is also currently streaming the album online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2qvNvMhPB4la9TYtOOVa9zRd_jVaMrge. More information on Save Your Breath is available online now along with all of the band’s latest updates at:

Website: http://www.ourbandissol.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/StoriesOfLiving

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Blanchard’s Debut LP Is A Solid First Effort

Courtesy: Cumbancha Music Publishing

Courtesy: Vis-a-vis

Francesca Blanchard is not the most well-known name in the music industry today. But the French-born singer-songwriter is no stranger to the music industry. She has been writing music ever since her childhood. And in 2011, she released her very first recording, Songs on an Ovation. The record, a six-song EP, was released via Emote Records. Now a little more than four years after its release Blanchard will finally release her debut full-length studio recording for American audiences. The aptly titled Deux Visions will be released Friday, October 2nd via Vis-a-vis. Deux Visions is such an aptly titled record because Blanchard presents both her French and American roots throughout the course of the album’s twelve total songs. She sings half of those songs in English and the other half in French. In doing so she is able to reach not just her French-speaking listeners but her American listeners, too. This is just one element of the album worth noting. In direct correlation to her dual vocal approach, the lyrics to each of her songs have been printed in the album’s companion booklet side by side in both French and English, too. Not only does this mean that she will reach both audiences even more but that she will also guarantee keeping her listeners engaged. She and her label made sure to not leave out anyone. And being that this record is her debut full-length recording that is an especially good choice. Having noted her dual approach to her debut album, the next logical element to examine in this record is the combined musical and lyrical content of her album in whole. That material in question is notable because it stands out from so much music from her more well-known pop counterparts. It stands out because it switches seemingly from song to song. And even the lyrical content of each of the album’s songs boasts its own depth in comparison to that of other female artists. The combination of that standout musical and lyrical content set alongside the previously noted albums leads Deux Visions to prove itself one more of the year’s best new world music albums.

The official release date of Francesca Blanchard’s debut album Deux Visions is still roughly five weeks out at the time of this review. Even being so far out from its release it can still be said of her new album that it is one of the best of this year’s new world music field. It proves this in more ways than can be noted in one sitting. So this critic will focus on just a few ways in which it proves itself so impressive beginning with her performance of the album’s twelve total songs. Blanchard, who is French by birth but currently lives in Vermont, splits the album’s tracks right down the middle, singing half of the songs in French and half in English. She is not the only bi-lingual artist to use this approach. Colombian pop star Shakira uses a similar approach as do the men of Los Lonely Boys, kindie rock act Future Hits and others. While the approach that she takes is not exactly new, it does not make it any less important. That is because as with the albums released by the previous artists and acts, it shows an attention to detail so as to not alienate one listener base or another. What’s more, some of the aforementioned acts (and others) don’t always balance the linguistic approach on their albums as much as she has here. In many cases, the foreign language performances seem to take precedence over the English-language tracks. Though, it can be said that Future Hits come close as they go through their album Today is Forever first in Spanish and then repeat each song in English. While Blanchard’s approach isn’t quite at that level, the equal balance of French and English performances rather than a random slathering of French and English presentations ensures that audiences of both English and French backgrounds will be able to equally enjoy her new album so to speak. That is a solid foundation for her debut record. And it is just one level of that foundation, too. The presentation of the album’s songs both in English and French within the album’s booklet strengthens that foundation even more.

Francesca Blanchard’s balanced, dual-language approach on her debut album Deux Visions makes for a solid foundation for this first effort. It is not the only element that allows this album to sit so strongly, either. Each of the album’s songs are printed both in English and French in the album’s companion booklet. This means for French audiences whose abilities with English might not be so strong will still be able to enjoy it just as much as those English-speaking listeners whose abilities with French are just as weak. Some might read this and ask why this would be so important. The answer here is simple. It is important because especially today, not every group, band, or act includes lyrics with their albums. That can easily lead to misinterpretation of lyrics in many cases. In the case of a foreign language record, not having lyrics greatly diminishes the interest that those not familiar with the album’s linguistic approach might have in the album. What’s more even those albums that do include lyrics are not always guaranteed to include translated lyrics for those not fluent with the featured artist’s/group’s/band’s language. It does not necessarily have to mean English, either. It can be any language. In the case of this album it just so happens that Blanchard has seen to it along with Vis-a-vis that the songs’ lyrics were printed in both French and English. This means that those English audiences not familiar the French language will be able to understand the lyrics to each song just as much as French audiences not familiar with English. What this means is that Blanchard’s French and English audiences alike will be able to take in her debut album in whole without worrying about missing out on any of it. Simply put, everybody is at the same level in listening to this record as a result. This takes the foundation established by Blanchard in her performances that much stronger. It is not the last element of the album’s success, either. The overall musical and lyrical content of Blanchard’s album sits atop the foundation set by her approach to the album’s songs and their presentation both on record and in writing in two languages.

Both Blanchard’s dual-language approach to her new album both on record and in writing do plenty to make it an impressive first effort from the talented, young artist. For all of their importance to the overall structure of this record, the actual content of the album in regards to its musical and lyrical content is just as important to its whole. In regards to both elements, Blanchard manages quite well to stand out from so many of her more well-known counterparts. Listening to the album’s musical content, the first comparison that this critic came up with was to Mazzy Star. That is at least in songs such as ‘Mon Ange,’ and ‘Rame.’ At other points, listeners can hear hints of Vanessa Carlton (at least in her vocal delivery style), Norah Jones (both vocally and stylistically) and others. The combination of such comparisons in regards to both Blanchard’s own vocal delivery style and the overall stylistic approach to her album’s songs shows its ability to hold its own against said artists. The same can be said of the album’s lyrical content. Each of the songs present lyrical content that can be best described as being deeply personal and just as moving. ‘Rame,’ the album’s opener is just one example of how the album’s lyrical content helps the album to hold its own both in the underground realm and against more well-known mainstream acts. Blanchard presents a subject that is in a very dark place. Yet being in such a dark place, her subject still holds out hope, singing that “All is not lost/No/All is not lost. In the case of this song, Blanchard uses the metaphor of a person out at sea in a sinking boat. Despite the situation looking hopeless, her subject receives a sign of hope; a sign that everything will be okay. It is definitely an interesting approach to the topic of maintaining hope and even a partially optimistic outlook on things in those dark times. ‘Le Blues’ is another good example of how the record’s lyrical content helps it to stand out. Blanchard writes in this song of how the blues make her happy. What is interesting about this is that she is not necessarily referring directly to the blues that many might think. She refers seemingly to the different shades of blue in the world as well as the blues as a musical style. The gentle tones of the song’s piano line and the song’s overall somewhat jazzy style accent those lyrics so well. The combination of her play on words and the song’s musical content makes this song yet another prime example of why Deux Visions lives up to its title. ‘Papa…Pere’ is one more example of how the lyrical content of Deux Visions makes it such an original, standout recording for Blanchard. This deeply emotional piece presents Blanchard’s subject apparently singing to her father. It is inferred as she sings, “I looked up at the sky/And I said your name/Papa…Father/Where are you/And that’s when I saw you/Your star/Dancing across the sky/Flying over the atmosphere’s horizon/And just like that you heard me/And you came to me/Papa.” This is just one small portion of the song’s lyrical content. But it is a strong example of why this song helps to make the album in whole stand out. Those lyrics (and the rest of the song’s lyrics) alongside its gentle musical backing will move to tears every person that hears it. Any person that is not so moved is either heartless or not human. It is just one more example of how the combination of Deux Visions’ lyrical and musical content together serves to make it a standout recording both against music produced by Blanchard’s more well-known counterparts and for herself. Together with the presentation of its songs in both French and English both musically and on paper, all three elements show without argument why Deux Visions is a solid start for Blanchard and why it is also one of the best of this year’s new world music records.

Deux Visions is an impressive first full-length effort from Francesca Blanchard. The twelve-song record presents its songs both in French and English both on record and in print. The combined musical and lyrical content of the album’s songs add even more to the album’s benefit. All three elements combined, they prove that this record is just as enjoyable for audiences as those released by her more well-known counterparts in the mainstream pop and rock worlds. Being such a strong effort, the album in whole also goes to show that it is without argument one of the best of this year’s new World Music records so far. It will be available Friday, October 2nd and can be ordered direct via Blanchard’s official bandcamp website at http://francescablanchard.bandcamp.com/. It can also be pre-ordered via that website now. More information on Deux Visions is available online now along with all of Blanchard’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.francescablanchard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cheskablanch

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.

Lenny Kravitz Teams Up With Eagle Rock Entertainment For New Live Recording

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Forget that song from Disney’s megahit movie Frozen. This fall, veteran rocker Lenny Kravitz will release his latest live recording Just Let Go.

Just Let Go will be released Friday, October 23rd via Eagle Rock Entertainment. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital formats. The twelve-song recording features a collection of performances was recorded throughout Fall of 2014 during the European leg of Kravitz’s world tour. The tour was in support of his latest full-length studio recording Strut. It was released September 23rd, 2014 via Roxie Records/Kobalt Label Services.

Just Let Go includes some of his biggest hits and some lesser known pieces including: ‘Fly Away,’ ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way,’ ‘It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over,’ ‘Let Love Rule,’ and his cover of The Guess Who’s hit song ‘American Woman’ among others. The complete song listing for the recording is noted below.

The tracklisting for ‘Just Let Go’:

1) Fly Away

2) Dirty White Boots

3) American Woman

4) Dancin’ ‘Til Dawn

5) Strut

6) It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

7) New York City

8) The Chamber

9) Sister

10) Dig In

11) Let Love Rule

12) Are You Gonna Go My Way

Along with performances by Kravitz and his band mates, there is also behind-the-scenes footage included in the presentation, interviews, and soundcheck footage. Eagle Rock Entertainment has also included as bonuses for Kravitz’s fans live takes of ‘Sister,’ ‘Always on the Run,’ ‘Sex,’ ‘I Belong To You,’ ‘New York City,’ and ‘Let Love Rule.’ In discussing the upcoming recording, Kravitz noted that it gives fans a good look at his relationship with his band mates and the effect of touring on their lives both as individuals and as a traveling family of sorts. “I am a solo artist but Just Let Go reflects on the relationship with my band and the camaraderie that develops between us while out on the road,” he said. “The film takes a deeper look into what it’s like to be on tour and also gives an intimate perspective into my life with my band, both on and off the stage.”

Just Let Go will be available in stores and online on Friday, October 23rd. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats. Pricing information on each platform will be announced as its release date nears.  Audiences can check out a trailer for the upcoming release via Youtube now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjeNHfoNX1Y&feature=youtu.be. More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

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.

Nathaniel Rateliff And The Nightsweats Surprise In A Big Way With Their Debut LP

Courtesy:  Stax Records

Courtesy: Stax Records

The self-titled debut record from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is one of the most intriguing albums to be released so far this year. The Denver-based band’s eleven-song set mixes classic soul and R&B sounds with modern lyrics to make an album that will grow on audiences increasingly with each listen. And with each respective listen, audiences will increasingly agree that this album is in its own way one of the best new albums of 2015. One song that proves that argument is the album’s lead single ‘S.O.B.’ This infectious, up-tempo piece was a perfect choice for a first impression for the band and if the band lives on past its debut album, will most certainly go on to be a fan favorite years down the road. That is the case thanks to both its musical and lyrical content. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is just as enjoyable of an example of how much this album has to offer listeners. It does so in exactly the same way as the album’s lead single, too. The same can be said of ‘Look It Here.’ The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics stand out against so many songs of lost love that one can’t help but note its enjoyment. It’s just one more example of what makes the self-titled debut LP from Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats a solid start for the band. That is not to discount the album’s other songs by any means. Any one of the songs included in this record could be used as examples in their own right. It just so happened that these three are the ones that this critic found served as the album’s best trio of representative tracks. Collectively speaking, all eleven songs (S.O.B. is actually included both in a “clean” version and a regular version making for twelve tracks but eleven songs) come together to complete an album that is one of the year’s best new overall albums.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut album is one of the year’s best new overall albums and one of its most intriguing to be released so far. That is thanks to the mix of soul and r&B influences that flow throughout the record’s eleven songs. Given the Denver-based band is not the first to exhibit such influences in its music. But there is something about the combined talents of the band’s members–Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Mese, Luke Mossman, Mark Shusterman, Wesley Watkins, and Andy Wild–and those of the album’s production that make this record feel like it was sent through time direct from music’s golden era. That is made clear in the album’s lead single, ‘S.O.B.’ The infectious, up-tempo pieces instantly conjures thoughts of Little Willie John, The Temptations, and so many others from that era right from the song’s outset. The steady humming and clapping will have listeners do the same along with Rateliffe and company while happily tapping their feet in time, too. Rateliff’s gravelly vocal style makes the song even more enjoyable as he sings, “I’m gonna need someone to help me/I’m gonna need somebody’s hand/I’m gonna need someone to hold me down/I’m gonna need someone to care/I’m gonna writhe and shake my body/I’ll start pulling out my hair/I’m going to cover myself with the ashes of you and nobody’s gonna give a damn.” When one really takes the time to examine this verse (and the song’s second verse) the song really takes on a whole new identity. That is especially considering the driving energy exuded in the song’s verses and even more frantic energy released in the chorus. The combination of that varied energy and the song’s lyrical content leads one to interpret this song less as just an upbeat, radio ready single but something much deeper. Rather, the combination of said elements presents the song as one that presents a subject at the point of revelation, realizing that he (or she) has a problem. It is inferred that said problem is addiction via the song’s chorus in which Rateliff sings “Son of a b****/Give me a drink/Won’t more night/This can’t be me/Son of a b****/If I can’t get clean/I’m gonna drink my life away.” If this is indeed the case–that the song is centered on a person that is battling some personal demons–then the musical content set against such lyrics is an original approach to such a topic. One can almost see this person on the verge of going through withdrawal as he or she sings the noted lyrics. Of course this is all just the interpretation of this critic. Other listeners could easily make their own conclusions in hearing it for themselves. Speaking of which, audiences can hear it for themselves online now via the band’s official website http://www.nathanielrateliff.com. Regardless of the song’s true meaning it can be said that its ability to catch listeners’ ears, hold them from start to finish, and generate so much discussion around its mix of musical and lyrical content shows exactly why it is such a solid first taste of this record and an equally solid example of why the record in whole is one of the year’s best new albums overall.

‘S.O.B.’ shows via its combination of musical and lyrical content why it is such a solid example of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ debut LP has to offer audiences. It is just one example, too. The album’s opener ‘I Need Never Get Old’ is another clear example of what the band’s new album has to offer. That is because even with its equally clear old school soul and r&B influences, it still stands out both musically and lyrically from ‘S.O.B.’ and the rest of the album’s remaining tracks. The use of the horns and drums set against the song’s guitar line harken back to legends such as The Temptations, Ray Charles, and The Four Tops just to name a few. Just as impressive is the fact that Rateliff shows he isn’t just a one trick pony in regards to his vocal style. His delivery here is much smoother yet still has just as much strength as is exhibited in ‘S.O.B.’ All things considered here, the musical content presented in this song shows even more the breadth of the band members’ collective talents and in turn shows even more just how much the band (and the album in whole) has to offer audiences. It’s just one part of the song that makes it so impressive, too. The song’s lyrical content must not be ignored. In regards to its lyrical content, the song comes across as something of an introspective piece that looks back in an almost celebratory fashion of a one-time love. That can be argued as Rateliff sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can we be there/Oh, just think of the time/Thought of love so strange/Said you never knew/While I try my best/To cover our eyes/It’s a common way to blame and hide the truth.” The song’s second verse serves that argument even more as he sings, “Taking our time/ah/Just standing in the rain/Meaning what you said/ah/And mean it to me/All of these lies/oh/And never again/Come on say it now/It’s a game.” It’s as if Rateliff (or his subject) is looking back on a past relationship and rather than being sad about what was, the subject opted to look back with a more positive outlook. That is driven home as he sings in the song’s verse, “I know that some will say it matters but little, babe/But come on and mean it to me/I need it so bad/I needed to try/I need to fail/I needed your love/I’m burning away/I need never get old.” It could be the wrong take but it seems almost like Rateliff’s subject is telling the other person that she(?) kept him young and how much she both meant and means to him. Yet again, this could be wholly off the mark. Though, it can be hoped that it is at least somewhere in the ballpark. If it is at least close, then it can be said that it is a rarely taken approach to such a subject. And in turn such approach makes the song all the more enjoyable and that much more of an example as to what Rateliff and company have to offer listeners on their new album. It is not the last example of how much this record has to offer audiences, either. ‘Look It Here,’ which comes late in the album’s sequence is one more strong example of how much this record has to offer audiences.

Both ‘S.O.B.’ and ‘I Need Never Get Old’ are clear examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats have to offer audiences on their debut full-length studio recording. While both songs are clear, solid examples of how much it has to offer, there is still at least one more example that can be cited. That example comes late in the album’s sequence in the form of ‘Look It Here.’ This song boasts just as much classic soul and r&b influence as any of the album’s other songs including those previously noted here. What’s really interesting though, is that even with its old school influences, it also boasts a more modern style sound throughout its verses while that old school influence is more evident in the song’s chorus. The song’s steady 4/4 tempo and its pleading lyrics in which Rateliff’s subject sings, “Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees begging please/Look it here baby I’m calling out/Crying now hear me, hear me plead” is completely unlike other songs today of its kind, lyrically speaking. It isn’t one of those run-of-the-mill, oh-woe-is-me songs about lost love. Rather the band’s approach here brings about thoughts of James Brown. That is made even more clear as Rateliff sings in the song’s main verse, “I got a love so hard I can’t stand it/And with a heart so weak and abandoned/You’ll have to bury this man/And if that’s what it takes for a love that must be proved/Look it here baby I’m coming out/On my knees beggin’ please yea/Look it here baby there’s no one else/Come on now hear me out.” It would have been so easy for Rateliff and his band mates to take that easy route and make a standard song about lost love. Being that they didn’t, it makes this song stand out proudly as yet another example of what makes the band’s self-titled debut such a strong first effort. Audiences can hear the song for themselves online now via the band’s official website along with ‘S.O.B.’ at http://www.nathanielrateliff.com.

‘S.O.B., ‘I Need Never Get Old,’ and ‘Look It Here’ are all clear and solid examples of how much Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats’ self-titled debut record has to offer audiences. They are not the only songs included in the record that could be chosen as representatives for the record, either. Any one (or more) of the tracks included in this record could just as easily be used to exemplify just how enjoyable this collection of songs is from start to finish. That being the case, it can be said of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats that this album is one of the year’s most intriguing albums released so far this year as well as one of the year’s best new albums overall. It is available now in stores and online. Rateliff and company are currently touring in support of their new album and have a pair of dates scheduled in North Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday November 10th and 11th in Carrboro and Asheville respectively. More information on the band’s debut album is available online now along with its current tour schedule and all of its latest news at:

Website: http://www.nathanielrateliff.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NRateliff

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.

Moock’s New Album Is All Kinds Of Enjoyable

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

Courtesy: Moockshake Music

2015 has been quite the fruitful year for the world of children’s music. New releases from veteran acts such as Recess Monkey, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and Josh and the Jamtones have joined releases from others such as Jazzy Ash, The Bazillions, and fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer among others to form a field that has offered up quite the selection of music for audiences of all ages. Now another veteran artist by the name of Alastair Moock has added yet another new release to this year’s field, making things even more interesting for those keeping track. The album in question, All Kinds of You And Me, comes only a few months after fellow veteran entertainers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released a similar album in the form of Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families. While the two acts’ new albums are similar in their lyrical topics, it can be said that Moock’s new album manages to maintain its own identity apart from that of Frink and Marxer’s new album thanks to the fact that it takes the foundation established by Fink and Marxer’s lyrics and builds on it with even more interesting topics. It also builds on the pair’s foundation with its mix of musical styles. That is the second reason that audiences will enjoy this album. Last but hardly least of note of this album is its run time. The album doesn’t even hit the one-hour mark. Rather it clocks in at forty-five minutes. The album’s longest track, its closer ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ comes in at just over five minutes. And the shortest comes in at just under the three-minute mark. That each of the album’s songs runs at a relatively normal time makes each one all the more apt to keep listeners of all ages locked in from the album’s opener to its end. Moock’s lyrical and musical approach to each number does just as much to keep listeners engaged. All three elements considered together show All Kinds of You and Me to be one of this year’s bravest and most confident children’s records. What’s more that confidence and bravery pay off in spades, proving it to be one more of this year’s best new children’s albums.

Veteran singer/songwriter Alastair Moock’s latest full-length studio recording All Kinds of You and Me is one of this year’s best new children’s albums. The twelve-track, forty-five minute recording is not the first of its kind to be released this year. Fellow veteran performers Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer released an album in Dancin’ in the Kitchen: Songs For All Families only months before this album’s release. While the two albums are similar in regards to their lyrical content, they are also quite different. That is proven first through the fact that Moock doesn’t stick to just the concept of the different kinds of families that make up America’s population. He does cover this topic. That can’t be ignored. However, he doesn’t stop there. Instead he branches out paying tribute to Malala Yousefzai in ‘I Am Malala’ and even to Woody Guthrie in his cover of ‘This Land is Your Land’ and its narrative intro ‘You and Me.’ There’s even a playful little piece about the different holidays in the simply titled ‘Every Day’s A Holiday.’ While those songs each help to make Moock’s new album stand out among this year’s field of new children’s releases, the songs about families and America’s social norms do just as much to help it stand out. Moock tackles the rigid social norms and gender roles that dominate American families in the album’s opener ‘It Takes All Kinds,’ and in the two songs that follow, ‘PEOPLE’ and ‘You Might Be A Girl.’ These songs are brave to say the least. They take a similar track as that taken by Fink and Marxer. But unlike them he takes more of stand against those norms established by American culture in these songs. Every one of the songs noted here shows in its own way to play an important part in what makes All Kinds of You and Me a standout recording. While each of the noted songs plays its own role, that is not to say that the others don’t play a role, too. Quite the opposite actually. Each one of the album’s twelve total tracks plays its own part in the whole of the album’s impact with all twelve showing clearly why the lyrical approach to this album makes it one that every family should take in together. Any family that does will be glad that it did. That is because of the foundation for discussion that each song’s lyrical content forms. It’s just the starting point of what makes this record such an interesting listen. The musical approach taken by Moock throughout the record is just as important to its success and enjoyment.

The lyrical content of Alastair Moock’s latest LP is within itself plenty of reason for audiences of all ages to hear this record. That is because of the number of topics covered by Moock throughout the course of the album’s twelve tracks and forty-five minutes. He tackles the strict gender roles and social norms established within American culture in the album’s first three songs before going a little more playful as the album advanced. He even pays tribute to human rights and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai and to folk legend Woody Guthrie in the album’s closer among much more content. It is just one portion of what makes this record so enjoyable, though. The album’s musical content makes it just as enjoyable. By and large, Moock presents a folksy, bluegrass style sound throughout the record. Though, he does break off at a few random points. The album’s opener presents a fun, rockabilly sound while ‘PEOPLE’ boasts a lighthearted Dixieland style sound. ‘You Might Be A Girl’ is just as enjoyable in regards to its music as it boasts something of an old school R&B influence. That is of course this critic’s own interpretation. And then there’s the dreamy, dulcet tones of ‘My Life(Is A Lot Like Yours)’ that will conjure thoughts of Allison Kraus and Norah Jones. That is a tribute to vocalist Jennifer Kimball’s extraordinary talents. ‘All In A Day’ also boasts that old school R&B influence. It conjures thoughts of Otis Redding. For all of the interest that the noted songs generates, the most intriguing of the album’s songs (in terms of their musical content) is ‘I Am Malala.’ The song largely boasts a gentle, beachy sound that conjures thoughts of Jimmy Buffett by and large. Though, interestingly enough the song switches things up in its final bars, sounding more like the opening bars of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ than that beachy sound that makes up the rest of its body. All of these examples together paint a rich musical picture that is just as certain to keep listeners engaged as that painted by the album’s lyrical content. The album’s musical and lyrical content taken jointly into consideration, they give listeners of all ages plenty of reason to hear this brave, enjoyable record.

Both the lyrical and musical content presented throughout the course of Alastair Moock’s new album make for plenty of reason for families to hear this record. While both elements are equally important to the whole of the record’s success and enjoyment, there is still one last element that should be examined in the whole of its presentation. That element is the record’s overall run time. The album clocks in at forty-five minutes. That is actually a relatively standard length both in regards to the realm of children’s music and that of music for adults. The album’s longest song is its closer, the cover of Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land is Your Land.’ It comes in at five minutes and three seconds. The album’s shortest song is its second track ‘PEOPLE.’ That song comes in at two minutes and twenty-two seconds. Some might ask what significance any of this plays in the grand scheme of the album. It significance is that when set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content together, it can help to determine just how long the songs (and the album in whole) are likely to keep listeners engaged. Being that the songs’ musical and lyrical content is not over the heads of its intended audiences and the songs themselves are in fact really standard length, it means a greater chance of keeping audiences’ ears from beginning to end. Sure, five minutes for a song–especially a children’s album–might seem like a lot. But the simple redundancy of the song’s chorus makes it (‘This Land is Your Land’) one that will definitely keep young listeners’ ears for the full length of its run time. That, friends, is the importance of the album’s run time. And on a smaller scale the run time of each of the album’s songs. Those run times, set against the songs’ musical and lyrical content, make one whole record that stands out against its counterparts within the realm of children’s music this year. In turn, the combination of all three elements makes this record one of this year’s best new children’s records.

All Kinds of You and Me is a record that can be said to be all kinds of enjoyable from beginning to end. That is thanks to the album’s mix of musical stylings and lyrical themes. The run times of each of the album’s twelve total songs makes a total run time that together with the album’s musical and lyrical content is sure to keep listeners fully engaged regardless of their ages. All things considered, All Kinds of You and Me proves in the end to be all kinds of enjoyable for listeners of all ages and in turn one of this year’s best new children’s records. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via Alastair Moock’s official website at http://www.moockmusic.com. More information on All Kinds of You and Me is available online now along with all of the latest news from Alastair himself at:

Website: http://www.moockmusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alastair-Moock-Music/43677062968

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlastairMoock 

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.

Pop Evil Sits Among Rock’s Elite Again With Its Latest LP

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Last Friday, veteran rock band Pop Evil released its latest full-length studio recording Up. The album, the band’s fifth (and its third released via eOne), continues the band’s long-running tradition of producing top-notch mainstream rock albums. The album’s mix of hard rock arena anthems and equally radio-ready rock songs together make it an album that just as with its predecessors is one of this year’s best new rock records. That is evident right from the album’s outset. ‘Footsteps’ is one of those radio ready rock songs whose catchy hooks and choruses come together with its equally thoughtful verses to make for a solid opener for the album and an equally solid example of what makes Up yet another enjoyable new release from one of the biggest names today in mainstream rock. ‘Take It All’ is another solid example of what makes Up another success for Pop Evil. It is one of those aforementioned hard rock arena anthems that is sure to have fans singing along just as proudly by themselves as they would in an arena with thousands of their fellow fans. That is thanks both to its high-energy musical content and its equally inspiring lyrical content. Just as ‘Footsteps’ and ‘Take It All’ both show in their own way what makes Up such a solid slab of rock so does the ballad style song ‘If Only For Now’ show in its own way what makes this record so enjoyable, too. These are just a few examples of what makes Up yet another enjoyable recording from one of today’s leading names in mainstream rock. There are other songs included in this record such as the hard rock opuses ‘Vendetta’ and ‘Dead in the Water’ and the rather emotionally moving acoustic work ‘Seattle Rain.’ These three songs each do just as much by themselves and collectively why Up is yet another impressive album from Pop Evil. Whether for these songs, the prior trio noted or any of the others not more directly noted, fans and audiences in general will agree that this album in whole is one of the best of this year’s new rock records.

Counting August, there are only five more months left in 2015. Over the course of the past seven months, audiences have seen quite a few impressive new mainstream rock records released in stores and online. Artists and acts such as Joe Satriani, Finger Eleven, Everclear, Barenaked Ladies and others have already proven themselves worthy of being added to the list of the year’s best new rock albums with their new recordings. That’s a pretty wide swath of names. So it is safe to say that Pop Evil is in pretty comfortable company with its latest full-length studio recording Up. That’s right. This album is, just as with Pop Evil’s previous albums, one of this year’s best new mainstream rock records. That is proven through every one of the album’s thirteen total tracks (fifteen in the case of the album’s Deluxe Edition) including its opener and latest single ‘Footsteps.’ ‘Footsteps’ is a solid opener and just one clear example of what makes Up one of this year’s top new albums. Just as with songs included in previous Pop Evil albums ‘Footsteps’ is one of those songs that is a perfect fit for any mainstream rock radio station. It isn’t one of those standard, formulaic, copycat pieces that sounds like so many others. For that reason alone, it is well worth the listen. It also doesn’t just rehash any stylistically similar songs from Pop Evil’s previous LPs either. It is just a good, solid mainstream rock song that will entertain audiences from its musical content alone. Its lyrical content gives it even more punch. Front man Leigh Kakaty and Dave Bassett teamed up to write this song’s lyrical content. Their efforts led to some rather inspiring material. The pair wrote for this song, “Starting over once again/This is where it all begins/It’s right in front of me/Down is not where I belong/This aching heart won’t turn to stone/There’s a fire inside these bones/It was meant to be/I see a world still full of light/How could I’ve ever been so blind/I still haven’t lost my fight/That haunts ne in my sleep.” Examining these lines alone audiences see just how powerful and inspiring these lyrics are. They are just part of that proof, too. The song’s closing verse is just as inspiring with Kakaty and Bassett writing of staying optimistic despite the uncertainty of the future. That parallel of that positive message and the song’s upbeat musical content makes clear why this song was chosen to open Pop Evil’s new album and why it is just the latest representation for the band’s new album, too. Audiences can hear the song for themselves and see the song’s new video online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXvkTuMyZpM.

‘Footsteps’ is in itself a solid example of why Up is one of 2015’s top new rock records. The mix of its upbeat musical content and optimistic lyrical content makes this clear. It is just one example of what makes Up such a solid collection of songs, too. ‘Take It All’ is another clear example of what makes Up so enjoyable. This high-energy song is an instant fan favorite that is just as certain to be a favorite at the band’s live shows as on disc. That is thanks to its own mix of musical and lyrical content. Musically speaking, ‘Take It All’ is the polar opposite of ‘Footsteps.’ It shows another side of the band with its much heavier riffs, low-end from bassist Matt DiRito, and concrete strong drumming from Chaci Riot. It shows musically that once again, the band refuses to rest easy on its laurels, opting instead to show the breadth of its abilities. While this song proves to be the polar opposite of ‘Footsteps’ stylistically, its lyrical approach is very much the same, which is in this case not a bad thing. Kakaty and Bassett co-wrote this song’s lyrical content, too. Kakaty sings here, “You got that fire burning your eyes/LIghting up the sky I see you coming/You got desire running through your brain/Ice in your veins I see you coming/So what do you say.” Kakaty and Bassett leave little room for doubt in examining this verse. It is someone addressing a rather strong-willed individual, motivating said person. It’s one of those pieces that is perfect for a workout session or game prep session especially with football season now under way at every level. If there is in fact any doubt left in any listener’s mind from that verse, the song’s second verse makes even clearer the message being presented by Kakaty and Bassett. That is the case as Kakaty sings in said verse, “Got that drive way deep inside/Keeping you alive it’s all or nothing/There ain’t no shame just playing the game/No pain and no game just rise about it/So what do you say.” The energy in those lyrics coupled with the energy in the song’s driving musical content is sure to get any listener’s blood and body moving. The same can be said of the partnering of the song’s lead verse and its musical content. All things considered here, ‘Take It All’ proves to be one of the best examples of what makes Up so enjoyable if not the single best example. Even as great of an example as it is, it still is not the last example of why Up is one of this year’s best new rock albums. The more reserved ‘If Only For Now’ is one more example of what makes it a solid record.

‘Footsteps’ and ‘Take It All’ each serve in their own way to show just how much Up has to offer audiences. It is not the first time that the band has ever included a ballad-style song in any of its albums. And while not being the first time that the band has ever included a ballad on any of its albums, listeners that are familiar with the band’s body of work will be happy that the band avoided repeating its previous ballads all the way around in the case of this song. That is made clear first and foremost through the song’s lyrical approach. The song, co-written by Kakaty, Bassett, Joshua Marunde, and bassist Matt DiRito, the song surprises by tackling the subject of a person hoping for love. As Kakaty sings, “Streets crowded with voices/Thousands of faces but you’re all I wanna see/Lights reflections of yesterday/Days thrown away cause you’re all I wanna keep.” These are the words of someone not longing for a lost love but of someone singing to another of his or her yearning for another. That person goes on in the song’s second verse to say to that person, “Here the world’s at our fingers/So live in the moment I’m not gonna say goodbye/So why don’t we for now forget tomorrow/Let me be the only thing you need/If only for now.” The song’s subject is saying, “Let me make this moment about us if only for now.” Sure, it’s mushy. But it could have been even more so. Thankfully Kakaty and company didn’t let that happen in the case of this song. because they didn’t it makes the song all the more enjoyable. Being that the subject of a person hoping for love is tackled far less than the subject of love lost, it becomes that much more enjoyable. The attention paid to the song’s musical content adds another level of enjoyment to the song. The band builds the song in each verse right up to the song’s chorus to make for the fullest possible emotional impact. It succeeds in this goal, too. The attention to the tone of the song’s musical content gives the song even more of a positive impact. It serves to even better illustrate the song’s upbeat, optimistic outlook. And in doing so it rounds out the ways in which this song shows itself to be another solid example of what makes Up so impressive in whole.

‘Footsteps,’ ‘Take It All,’ and ‘If Only For Now’ are all prime examples of what makes Up yet another impressive release from Pop Evil. All three songs show a different side of the band both musically and lyrically. They are only a small handful of examples of that diversity, too. ‘Vendetta,’ ‘Dead in The Water,’ and the emotionally moving ‘Seattle Rain’ could just as easily be used to exemplify how much this record has to offer fans. The same could be said of any of the album’s other songs not directly noted here. Regardless of which songs one choose, listeners and long-time fans alike will agree that all things considered, Up proves to be not just another enjoyable record from Pop Evil but another one of this year’s best new rock records overall. Up is available now in stores and online. And the band is currently touring in support of Up. Its next slated date is Tuesday, September 8th at the Rose Music Hall (formerly Mojo’s) in Colombia, Missouri. The band is also scheduled to perform live at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina alongside Three Days Grace on Wednesday, September 16th. Tickets for that and all of the band’s other shows are available now. All of the band’s latest tour dates are available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://www.PopEvil.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/popevil

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.