Kevin Cerovich’s New LP Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s Field OF New Independent Albums

Courtesy: CVJ Records

Kevin Cerovich has made quiet the career for himself over the years performing and recording with the Airmen of Note, a division of the U.S. Air Force Jazz Band.  Now Friday, the award-winning musician and composer will take a step out on his own Friday in his new album, Aging Millenial.  Set for release through CVJ Records, the 12-song release is a unique offering from Cerovich.  That is because of the diversity of the arrangements that make up the 44-minute presentation’s body.  From beginning to end, the album features compositions that lean heavily in the jazz direction at times, in a more hip-hop/funk direction at others, and even some pop, believe it or not.  Among the most notable of the record’s jazz entries comes early in the record’s run in the form of ‘Groove Merchant.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Slow Boat Reprise’ is among the most notable of the record’s hip-hop entries.  It will be examined a little later.  In terms of the more pop-centric work, the simply titled ‘Till’ is the most notable entry.  It will also be examined later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and along with the likes of ‘Friday Afternoon,’ ‘Kill The Lights and Floor It’ and ‘Transatlantic Folk Piece,’ which closes the album, and the rest of the record’s entries, the whole becomes an unsuspecting success of a record.  It unquestionably deserves a spot among the best of this year’s top new independent albums.

Aging Millenial, the new forthcoming album from musician/composer Kevin Cerovich is a unique record that every music lover should hear at least once.  The diverse range of sounds and styles presented throughout the album makes that clear.  From jazz to hip-hop to pop and even something in-between, the record offers music for so many listeners, including the early jazz entry, ‘Groove Merchant.’  This song harkens back to the big band sounds of the 1950s and 60s with its horns and subtle but still rich bass line.  Listeners familiar with that sound and style will immediately think of great songs from the bands that backed the Rat Pack.  Audiences can just as much hear works from the likes of Count Basie and company.  It is such an enjoyable, immersive composition.  The subtle time keeping and the expert production here blends everything so perfectly throughout its nearly five-minute run time.  The solo, which comes from what sounds like a muted trombone, adds its own welcome touch to the mix.  It is not too flashy, giving just enough kick to the whole to make it its own enjoyable moment, even as brief as it is.  The overall opus is such a rich composition that is such an enjoyable work.  No question it is among the most notable of the album’s jazz offerings.

On the hip-hop side of things, ‘Slow Boat Reprise’ is among the most notable of those offerings.  The song is a companion piece to the song ‘Slow Boat’ which immediately precedes its presentation.  The steady, driving beat and the use of the low brass (tubas, trombones) and what sounds like a keyboard, makes the composition a perfect music bed for any old school hip-hop composition.  Audiences who are familiar with the works that actually involved the use of emcees and turntablists will really appreciate this work.  Interestingly enough, considering that the album’s title is ‘Aging Millenial,’ there really have not been many hip-hop acts of the sort around for a while.  The last great such act was Jurassic 5.  The way in which Cerovich throws in a vintage jazz approach and sound at the very end to mix things up gives the song a unique final statement that listeners will certainly remember, too.  The whole here makes the song overall yet another notable addition to Aging Millenial that further shows what makes the album stand out so much.

‘Till’ which comes almost halfway through the album, is yet another notable addition to the album.  This song is a full-on pop style composition.  The immediate comparison that comes to mind through the guitar-centric composition is to works from the likes of Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson.  It is one of only two songs featured in the album that features lyrics alongside the musical content.  The theme here is a simple love song.  It is sung from the vantage point of a person who loves being with his or her romantic interest.  He/she sings about how much he/she loves just watching that person sleep, just being with that person every day.  It is a light, happy composition that will appeal to so many listeners.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a standout addition to this year’s field of new independent albums that everyone should hear at least once.

Aging Millenial, the new forthcoming album from musician/composer Kevin Cerovich, is a unique record that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is proven throughout the course of the record’s nearly 45-minute run time.  The songs examined here make that clear.  When they are considered along with the other equally diverse range of compositions featured in the record, the whole makes Aging Millenial one of the best of this year’s new independent albums.

Aging Millenial is scheduled for release Friday through CVJ Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Cerovich’s latest news at:

Website: https://kevincerovich.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevincerovich

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KevinCerovich

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Devildriver’s New Box Set Offers Audiences Plenty To Applaud

Courtesy: BMG

Veteran metal band Devildriver has been in the headlines quite a bit in recent months.  The band announced last month, it had made a pair of lineup changes, welcoming original bassist Jon Miller back to the band in place of Diego Ibarra.  Along with that change, the band also announced the addition of new guitarist Alex Lee (Holy Grail) to the lineup.  Miller was one of the founding members of Devildriver and remained with the band until 2011, when he was replaced first by Aaron Patrick, then Chris Towning and then by Ibarra.  Lee is the band’s third rhythm guitarist behind Neil Tiemann most recently and founding member Jeff Kendrick before him.  The lineup changes make Miller and front man Dez Fafara the band’s only original members in its current lineup.

Only weeks prior to the announcement of Devildriver’s latest lineup change, the band announced June 8, that it would release its new five-disc box set, Clouds Over California.  Originally, the box set was scheduled for release Friday through BMG, but then an update to that date announced late last month stated the set’s release date had been pushed back to Aug. 19.  This despite the band claiming as recently as Friday, that the box set dropped Friday.  In other words, there remains no clarity at this point on the set’s exact release date.  That aside, the collection is a set that most Devildriver fans will find just as appealing as modern metal fans.  That is due in no small part to its featured albums, which will be examined shortly.  The platforms on which the collection is available are just as important to note as the albums themselves.  This will be examined a little later.  The records’ liner notes round out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection.  All things considered they make Clouds Over California a shining new offering from Devildriver.  Yes, that awful pun was fully intended.

Devildriver’s new five-album box set, Clouds Over California is a positive new offering from the veteran modern metal outfit.  Its appeal comes in part through its featured records.  The records featured here are the band’s first five albums, Devildriver, The Fury of Our Maker’s Hand, The Last Kind Words, Pray For Villains, and Beast.  All five albums were released through Roadrunner Records.  All of the albums that the band has released since then have come through Napalm Records.  So simply put, what audiences get in this collection is essentially the first chapter (so to speak) of Devildriver’s catalog.  To that end, maybe BMG should have called this new set, The Roadrunner Years.

The collection by itself is impressive in its general presentation.  There is an even deeper appeal to the records because what audiences get here is not just the albums’ standard releases, save for the band’s debut self-titled record, but three of the records in their expanded formats.  Devildriver did not have an expanded edition, and The Last Kind Words allegedly had an expanded edition released through Hot Topic stores nationwide that had a bonus track, ‘Damning The Heavens.’  That extra track is not included in the record’s presentation here, but the other three albums are all presented in their expanded formats.  To that end, audiences still largely get a very special presentation of the band’s Roadrunner Records catalog here.  Keeping that in mind, the albums that make up the main body of Clouds Over California are reason enough for diehard Devildriver fans to own this collection.  They are just part of what makes the collection worth adding to any fan’s library.  The platforms on which the collection is available add at least somewhat to that appeal.

The collection is available on CD and vinyl pressings.  This means that whether one is more a fan of vinyl and all of the problems that come with it, or more a fan of CDs, audiences on both sides of that proverbial aisle will be able to enjoy the collection.  This shows that Devildriver and officials with BMG made sure not to alienate any of the band’s audiences in this case. 

Of course, the pricing for the sets is clearly (and starkly) different between them.  That cannot be ignored. The CD set’s average price point is $45.39 while the set’s vinyl box averages in at $182.74.  Those prices were figured by averaging prices listed through Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Books-A-Million, another of this country’s biggest retailers, did not list the set on either platform.  Best Buy only listed the set on vinyl while the other outlets listed it on both platforms.  Between the set’s much more affordable price on CD and the CD set’s more compact nature, audiences are going to be much more inclined to purchase the collection on that platform than on vinyl.  Those who want to shell out the big bucks and make even more room for the vinyl set are welcome to do so but the CD set clearly is going to be more appealing, at least to this critic.  Moving on from this discussion, the liner notes that accompany the collection round out the collection’s most important elements.

The liner notes that come with the set were composed by Fafara and are presented in a 20-page booklet that is new to the set.  Along with that, each of the albums come with their original liner notes.  So what audiences get in terms of this secondary content is not just the original liner notes with lyrics but a whole new set of liner notes looking back at the albums and their place in Devildriver’s history.  All of this extra content pairs with the expansive presentation of the collection’s primary content to make the collection’s overall presentation that much more appealing.  Add in the fact that Devildriver and BMG made the collection available for fans of CDs and vinyls alike and the collection gains that much more appealing for a wide range of audiences.  All things considered, Clouds Over California makes for a good way to tide audiences over until Devildriver releases its next new album, which hopefully will come sooner rather than later.

Devildriver’s new five-album box set, Clouds Over California, is a strong new offering from the veteran metal band.  It will appeal to most of the band’s established audiences as well as more casual fans of the band.  That is due in no small part to its featured albums.  The albums in question are all of the records that Devildriver released through Roadrunner Records.  Those records make up the first half of the band’s catalog.  The second half, which is also composed of five records, has come through records released via Napalm Records.  Just as important here is that three of the five records featured here are presented in their expanded rather than their standard editions, so audiences get, for the most part, a special treat here.  The band’s debut self-titled record was only presented in a standard form in its initial release, so there are no worries there. The availability of the collection on both CD and vinyl ensures that none of the band’s fans have been ignored, though the cost of the vinyl set is far more cost prohibitive than that of the set’s CD platform.  The liner notes featured with the set round out its most important elements as there are some familiar liner notes and some equally in-depth new liner notes to boot.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the collection.  All things considered they make Clouds Over California a mostly positive way to tide Devildriver’s fans over until the band releases its next album.

More information on Clouds Over California is available along with all of Devildriver’s latest news at:

Website: https://devildriver.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/devildriver

Twitter: https://twitter.com/devildriver

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

Amon Amarth Impresses Once Again On Its 12th Album, ‘The Great Heathen Army’

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Veteran Viking metal outfit Amon Amarth is set to release its latest album, The Great Heathen Army very in less than a week through its longtime label home Metal Blade Records.  Scheduled for release Aug. 5, the 9-song record will come more than three years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Berserker.  The 43-minute presentation is everything that Amon Amarth fans have come to expect from the band both musically and lyrically.  At the same time, the record’s musical content actually shows some growth from the band this time out.  The record’s musical and lyrical content will each receive their own examinations here.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined here.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make The Great Heathen Army one more of the greatest of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

The Great Heathen Army, the 12th new album from Amon Amarth, is another largely successful offering from the veteran metal outfit that has made a career of making songs about Vikings.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The very first thing that the band’s established audiences will note through the record’s nine total arrangements is that they are not all the same semi-symphonic/death metal approach that the band has taken in so many of its albums.  Right from the record’s outset, its lead single, ‘Get in the Ring,’ the band takes more of a modern hard rock/metal approach.  It is a notable change of sound and style for the band considering the compositions that the band has crafted over its decades-long career.  It is just one of the songs that shows that branching out, too.  Late in the record in ‘Saxons and Vikings,’ the band goes in a vintage hard rock style approach, even bringing in famed Accept/U.D.O. front man Udo Dirkschneider to add to the mix.  Just as interesting is that the band does make sure to include some of its more familiar death metal riffs to mix things up a little bit along the way.  The pairing of those leanings together, complete with a powerhouse solo, makes this song’s arrangement yet another standout addition to the record that continues to show the band’s musical growth this time out.  The band offers up a little more of that vintage hard rock leaning in the record’s closer, ‘The Serpent’s Trail.’  The way in which the guitars are used here almost mimics some string arrangements, and the classical guitar approach here along the way just adds that much more to the record.  It is just one more way in which the musical arrangements feature in this record show their value to the album’s presentation.  When these arrangements are considered along with the works that lean more in the band’s familiar sounds and styles, the whole makes The Great Heathen Army a presentation that succeeds if only through its musical content.

The musical content that is featured in The Great Heathen Army is just part of what makes the album worth hearing.  The lyrical content that accompanies that musical content makes for its own appeal.  That is because it is far more familiar to those noted established audiences.  From ‘Oden Owns You All’ to Saxons and Vikings’ to ‘The Serpent’s Trail’ and more, the themes featured in the record’s lyrics all center on the familiar topics of all things Norse and Vikings.  Now there are a couple of sings – ‘Get In The Ring’ and ‘Find A Way Or Make One’ – that do break that mold.  ‘Find A Way Or Make One’ delivers an all too familiar but always welcome message of pushing through life’s difficulties.  This is clear as front man Johan Hegg sings here, “Stand tall/And fight/The world will quake/Stand tall/And fight/I will never break.”  Some of the lyrics are a little difficult cult decipher fully sans lyrics, but he also makes note here of fighting the battle when all hope is lost and gone.  This is, again, a powerful and familiar message, especially as he adds that he will not kneel, no matter what the odds.  Yet again, here is more proof of the song’s message of personal strength.  The battles and situations do not necessarily have to be warfare, but just personal battles.  To that end, again, this familiar message is just as welcome from the band here as from any other band.  What’s more, that it is set here alongside so much other more familiar content shows growth, lyrically from the band. 

‘Get In The Ring’ meanwhile is actually a song for one of the rising stars of All Elite Wrestling (AEW).  It is fitting that it was crafted for a pro wrestler, as its lyrical theme is in fact a fight song.  It is an anthem that could and will get anyone pumped up who has ever been done wrong by someone.  It is that challenge to those people who would stand in our way metaphorically or lyrically.  To that end, it is another familiar lyrical theme in general that shows in its own way, why the lyrical themes in record are just as appealing as the album’s musical content.  All things considered the record’s lyrical content pairs with its companion musical content to make the album’s overall content a strong foundation for the presentation.  It is just one part of what makes the album so appealing.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into The Great Heathen Army is important to its presentation because of its role in the record’s general effect.  Every song in this record is loud and heavy.  Each work is so rich because of the pairing of the instrumentations and vocals.  Thanks to the time and effort that went into the production, no one part overpowers the others (including the vocals) at any one point in the album.  That is, again, due to the production.  Every part of each song is so powerful, leading each work to be fully immersive.  The result is that the album proves just as successful in its aesthetic presentation as in its content.  When all of this is considered together, the whole of The Great Heathen Army becomes one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

The Great Heathen Army, the 12th new album from veteran metal outfit Amon Amarth, is another strong new offering from the band that will entertain the band’s established audiences just as much as metal fans in general.  That is evidenced in part through the record’s musical content.  The arrangements featured throughout the album are familiar, but also show a certain level of growth.  The band tries its hand at some vintage hard rock and metal styles as well as some more mainstream sounding heavy rock at points throughout the record.  That diversity offers audiences something “old” and something “new” which along the way makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment.  The lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical content is just as important to its presentation.  That is because of its overall familiarity, too.  There are plenty of Viking themes once again, along with some themes of overcoming diversity, which the band has handled less, but is still familiar in the rock and metal communities.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring that the best of each song is brought out from one work to another.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered they make the album overall another welcome offering from Amon Amarth that belongs among the best of the year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

The Great Heathen Army is scheduled for release Friday through Metal Blade Records. Amon Amarth will hit the road this fall in support of its new, forthcoming album. The band will launch the “The Great Heathen Tour” November 11 in Las Vegas, NV in support of the record.

 The tour features support from Carcass, Obituary, and Cattle Decapitation, and is expected to run through Dec. 17 in Los Angeles, CA and also features scheduled performances in cities, such as Charlotte, NC; Cincinnati, OH and Seattle, WA.

The tour’s schedule is noted below.

Amon Amarth
THE GREAT HEATHEN TOUR
US HEADLINE RUN W/ CARCASS, OBITUARY AND CATTLE DECAPITATION
Friday, November 11 – Las Vegas, NV @ Brooklyn Bowl*
Saturday, November 12 – Phoenix, AZ @ Arizona Federal Theater
Monday, November 14 – San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theater
Tuesday, November 15 – Houston, TX @ Bayou Music Center
Wednesday, November 16 – Dallas, TX @ Southside Ballroom
Friday, November 18 – Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
Saturday, November 19 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
Sunday, November 20 – Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
Tuesday, November 22 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
Wednesday, November 23 – Boston, MA @ MGM Music Hall at Fenway
Friday, November 25 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
Saturday, November 26 – Chicago, IL @ The Aragon Ballroom
Sunday, November 27 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Andrew J Brady Music Center
Wednesday, November 30 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE**
Thursday, Dec 01 – New York, NY @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Friday, Dec 02 – Toronto, ON @ History
Saturday, Dec 03 – Laval, QC @ Place Bell
Monday, Dec 05 – Madison, WI @ The Sylvee
Tuesday, Dec 06 – Minneapolis, MN @ The Fillmore
Wednesday, Dec 07- Kansas City, MO @ Uptown
Friday, Dec 09 – Denver, CO @ The Fillmore
Saturday, Dec 10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
Monday, Dec 12 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
Tuesday, Dec 13 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Thursday, Dec 15 – Wheatland, CA @ Hard Rock Live
Friday, Dec 16 – San Diego, CA @ SOMA
Saturday, Dec 17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Kia Forum

*No Carcass
** Non-Live Nation date

The new fall U.S. dates will follow a European run with Machine Head, that is scheduled to run from Sept. 8 in Nottingham, UK to Oct. 22 in Stuttgart, Germany. The Halo Effect is also scheduled to take part in the tour, dubbed the “Vikings and Lionhearts Tour 2022.”

The tour’s schedule is noted below.

SEPTEMBER
Thursday 8 – NOTTINGHAM, UK, Motorpoint Arena
Friday 9 – CARDIFF, UK, Motorpoint Arena
Saturday 10 – LONDON, UK, The SSE Arena, Wembley
Monday 12 – MANCHESTER, Uk AO Arena
Tuesday 13 – DUBLIN, Ireland, 3Arena
Friday 16 – ZURICH, Switzerland, Hallenstadion
Saturday 17 – VIENNA, Austria, Stadthalle
Sunday 18 – KRAKOW, Poland, Tauron Arena
Tuesday 20 – TALLINN, Estonia, Saku Arena
Wednesday 21 – HELSINKI, Finland, Ice Hall
Friday 23 – OSLO, Norway, Spektrum
Saturday 24 – STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Hovet
Monday 26 – COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Forum Black Box
Tuesday 27 – HAMBURG, Germany, Barclays Arena
Wednesday 28 – FRANKFURT, Germany, Festhalle
Friday 30 – OBERHAUSEN, Germany, König Pilsener Arena

OCTOBER
Saturday 01 – BERLIN, Germany Velodrome
Sunday 02 – AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, Afas Live
Tuesday 04 – MILAN, Italy, Lorenzini District
Thursday 06 – BARCELONA, Spain, Sant Jordi
Friday 07 – MADRID, Spain, Vistalegre
Saturday 08 – LA CORUNA, Spain, Coliseum
Sunday 09 – LISBON, Portugal, Campo Pequeno
Wednesday 12 – PARIS, France, Zenith
Friday 14 – MUNICH, Germany, Olympiahalle
Saturday 15 – LEIPZIG, Germany, Arena
Sunday 16 – PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Tipsport Arena
Tuesday 18 – BUDAPEST, Hungary, Barba Negra
Thursday 20 – ESCH SUR ALZETTE, Luxembourg, Rockhal
Friday 21 – BRUSSELS, Belgium, Forest National
Saturday 22 – STUTTGART, Germant, Schleyerhalle

More information on Amon Amarth’s new album and tour is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.amonamarth.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/amonamarth

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/amonamarthband

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘The Rough Guide To Jewish Music’ Is A Unique, Mostly Successful World Music Presentation

Courtesy: World Music Network/Galileo

Late this past May, World Music Network partnered with the German record label, Galileo, to release its latest compilation of music centered on the Jewish community in the form of The Rough Guide to Jewish Music.  The 18-song collection is an interesting new offering focused on the music and culture of the Jewish community.  That is due in part through its featured arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. While the musical content that makes up the record’s body is important to its presentation, the set is not perfect.  That is because there are no English translations for any of the songs that feature lyrics.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the lack of English translations for the lyrics is problematic, it is not enough of an issue to doom the set.  To that end, there is still one other positive in the form of the record’s liner notes. The liner notes that accompany the record’s musical content make for their own interest and will be addressed a little later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered they make the set yet another engaging and entertaining addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series.

The Rough Guide To Jewish Music is a simply-titled new presentation from World Music Network, but as simple as its title is, the 18-song record is anything but simple.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical content.  From beginning to end, the arrangements are anything but what audiences would think of when they think of Jewish music.  Yes, there are some arrangements featured here that have that familiar violin and clarinet-based instrumentations, but they are few and far between.  Rather, the arrangements take listeners on a trip around the world, showing the reach of the Jewish community and its culture.  Right from the record’s outset, audiences are treated to what sounds like a Spanish-infused composition in ‘Adio Kerida.’  Roughly translated, the title means ‘Bye, Dear.’  That would make sense, what with the mention of a corazon (or heart in English) and some of the other content that can be translated here.  The somber mood of the arrangement adds to the sense that this song is about a broken relationship.  The distinct vocal style and the use of the strings are what really bring out the Jewish influence here alongside the more familiar Spanish leaning.  It makes for an interesting start to the set, especially being that it gives way to the much more familiar Jewish style composition that is ‘Tornado Albastru’ next.  As the record progresses, audiences are eventually taken on a trip to Egypt in ‘El Rey Nimrod.’  The vocal styling and instrumentation here make that influence fully audible.  It is one of the compilation’s most notable entries.  On yet another note, audiences get a piece that exhibits some perhaps eastern European influence even later in ‘Shalom Aleykhem.’  That is made clear through the use of the string arrangement, accordion and vocals.  There is almost a certain Romanian gypsy influence here.  Meanwhile the use of what sounds like a recorder alongside it all adds the slightest Renaissance influence to make for an overall composition that is unique in its own right.  Right from there, the compilation takes audiences back to the Middle East, in ‘Sien Drahmas Al Dia.’  Translated from Judeo-Spanish, the song’s title means ‘One Hundred Drachmas A Day’.  Apparently, the song is another love song of sorts sung from a woman’s standpoint, wanting her love interest to break away from his mother.  It is a fiery composition, too, which would make sense considering the noted apparent lyrical theme here.  When this arrangement and the others examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the overall musical presentation makes for a wonderful examination of the reach of Jewish music around the world.

While the musical content that makes up the body of The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is pivotal to its appeal, the record is not perfect.  As noted, there are not English translations for any of the songs featured here with vocals.  The end result is that audiences have to hunt down the songs and try to find said translations for themselves in hopes that those translations exist.  This can be somewhat time consuming depending on the song and what may or may not be available.  To that end, this is unquestionably problematic to the record’s presentation.  It is not enough to doom the record but is still enough of an issue to address.

Knowing that the lack of English translations in this collection is problematic but not enough so that it makes the record a failure, there is still one more positive to note.  That positive is the background on the songs provided through the record’s liner notes.  The liner notes point out right from their outset that the purpose of this compilation was not so much to focus on Jewish music but rather to examine “the value of cross-cultural exchange.”  That is done so well by showing the ties of Jewish music with that of so many nations around the world.  A very brief but concise introduction is also offered for some of the acts whose work is part of that overall body.  It is a start for any listeners who otherwise might not have known who any of them were, coming into the record.  As part of those introductions, the liner notes also point out the influences in the arrangements, adding a little bit more depth to the presentation.  The end result of that information is a nice accent to the presentation that when paired with the collection’s primary content, makes for even more appeal among audiences.  That is even considering the lack of English translations for the songs anywhere in the booklet. 

The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is a presentation that is certain to appeal to a wide range of World Music fans.  That is proven largely through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements take traditional Jewish sounds and styles and blends them with influences from the music and culture of so many other nations and their peoples.  While the record’s musical content does so much to make the collection engaging and entertaining, the lack of any English lyrical translations for the songs does notably detract from the presentation.  It is not enough to make the record a failure, though, but definitely is still problematic.  Moving back to the positive, the record’s liner notes work with the musical content here to make for more engagement.  That is because of the brief but concise background that the notes offer for the acts whose music is featured throughout.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered they make the record another interesting and mostly enjoyable offering from World Music Network.

The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is available now. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

World Music Network Offers Audiences A Unique Music Trip To China In Its Latest Compilation Record

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network has for years, taken listeners around the world, musically, time and time again, offering up music from so many nations.  From the roots of American music to the music of Europe’s various nations and those of Asia.  That ongoing worldwide musical trip continues Friday as the label takes audiences to China’s Yunnan province in The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan.  The 19-song record is yet another interesting addition to the company’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal not only to ethnomusicologists but to anyone who has any interest in the music and cultures of the region (and of other nations in general).  That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be examined shortly. As much as the record’s primary content does to make it appealing, it is not perfect.  The lack of English translations for the songs with lyrical content detracts notably from the record’s presentation.  This will be discussed a little later. Even without those translations, the record’s companion booklet still adds to the listening experience through its featured liner notes.  This will also be addressed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make the record yet another interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is yet another interesting addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  From beginning to end, the songs featured in this song offer audiences touches of traditional music from China’s Yunnan province and some modern compositions.  Audiences get a dose of that traditional music right from the compilation’s outset in the form of ‘Bi Lang Dao Gu Diao.’  According to the liner notes, the song is an ancient traditional song that is played on what is known as a Dai gourd pipe.  A Dai gourd pipe is a type of flute that is in fact made in part with a gourd.  It is played like a flute, believe it or not.  The richness of the sound is so haunting, but in such a beautiful, immersive fashion.  The song is a fully instrumental composition that paints such a rich picture of the Yunnan province in listeners’ minds as they take in the tones of the flute.  One of the more unique of the record’s modern songs comes less than halfway through its run in the form of ‘Bulang Beauty.’  This song features a musical arrangement that pairs the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province with, of all things, reggae leanings.  Yes, it combines two genres that are clearly very distinct from one another, yet somehow this blending of East and West really makes the song work.  Sadly, there is no English translation of the song’s lyrical content in the record’s booklet, so audiences are left to assume just from the mood set in the composition and from the title what the song may be about.  One more notable traditional composition featured here comes a little more than halfway through its run in the simple ‘Four Seasons of the Lahu.’  The song is such a simple and beautiful work that features its performer, Shi Lei, singing the simple presentation completely by himself.  There is no instrumentation.  Lei’s breath control and his dynamic control as he sings gives the song so much emotional depth.  Even sans any English translations, the presentation is still so immersive.  When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the record’s featured works, the whole makes the record’s overall musical content fully appealing.

While the musical content that makes up this compilation’s body is fully immersive and appealing, the lack of any English translations for the record’s content detracts notably from the presentation.  Considering that this record is being marketed largely to English-speaking audiences as a way to introduce said listeners to music from Asia, having any English translations would have been a very nice way to enhance the listening experience.  That it is not part of the record’s presentation definitely hurts the presentation.  The damage is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly does not help that it is lacking here.

Even though the lack of English translations for any of the songs with lyrics is a problem, the record’s liner notes still offer just enough to make the booklet its own positive.  The liner notes point out how the Yunnan province has remained a mystery not just for ethnomusicologists but for anthropologists and other social scientists because of its geography and because of the Chinese government.  In addition, the notes point out that many of the languages of the Yunnan province are not written down.  That might account for the lack of lyrical content in the booklet.  The notes even make mention of how the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province have been giving way to more modern sounds that themselves still pay homage to the traditional sounds of the region in their presentations.  It is another interesting part of the whole of the background provided in the liner notes that when considered with everything else in the introduction, makes the liner notes just as important to this record as the set’s musical content.  When the musical content and liner notes are considered together, they more than make this compilation another interesting addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to such a wide range of audiences.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is a unique addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That includes not only those with an interest in music from around the world, but even those who study the various social and historical sciences.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical content.  The musical arrangements featured in this compilation offer audiences a glimpse into the past, present, and future of the Yunnan province’s musical community with a variety of traditional and more modern compositions.  The liner notes that accompany that content develop quite the interesting background on the music that enhances the listening experience even more.  The two elements together give audiences reason enough to hear this record.  That is even considering the lack of any English translations for the songs anywhere in the record’s booklet.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation.  All things considered they make this presentation yet another positive addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.

The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

WMN’s New Memphis Minnie Compilation Is A Wonderful Tribute To The Blues Legend

Courtesy: World Music Network

Memphis Minnie is unquestionably one of the most well-known and respected female names in the history of the blues.  Over the course of three decades, the singer (a.k.a. Lizzie Douglas) composed and recorded more than 200 songs, so many of which remains favorites among blues purists to this day.  A new collection of those songs is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network and in the form of the new compilation, The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie Queen of the Country Blues.  The 25-song compilation is yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ audio works directly with the songs to make the listening experience all the more enjoyable.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s companion booklet rounds out the presentation’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered they make the collection not only a welcome addition to WMN’s The Rough Guide To… series, but also to this year’s field of new blues records.

The Rough Guide to Memphis MinnieQueen of the Country Blues is another enjoyable entry in World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series and a presentation that any blues fan will find appealing.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured songs.  The songs – 25 in all (It seems most WMN compilations are composed of 25 songs, as a side note) – pull from the early days of her career, that formative period when she was really starting to make a name for herself in a musician, composer and lyricist.  More specifically, the songs pull from the early days of her career in 1929 all the way up to 1933.  So while that is a limited time frame, the songs still serve as a clear snapshot (so to speak) of what made her so respected so early on.  Right from the record’s opener, ‘Keep It To Yourself,’ the country influence in the blues is obvious.  What’s more, the simplicity of the lyrics, which finds Douglas singing about keeping what you know to yourself, makes the song so accessible.  She is singing about keeping certain secrets, not telling others, not so much keeping opinions to one’s self.  Later in the record, a song, such as ‘What’s The Matter With The Mill’ does just as much to show the country music influence in her compositions, what with the steady, two chord approach.  The blues element comes into play as she and fellow blues performer Kansas Joe sing about a corn mill being broken down.  The blues is all about singing about life’s problems, and for this situation, the mill not working is keeping the pair from getting certain food.  Again, it is such a simple theme but still there is some thing so accessible about it in that simplicity.  Once again, it serves to show Douglas’ ability as a wordsmith just as much as a composer and musician.  Her song, ‘Ain’t No Use Trying To Tell On Me (I Know Something On You)’ is another intriguing work.  That is because its simple arrangement is so similar to Jesse Fuller’s timeless hit, ‘San Francisco Blues.’  Fuller’s song didn’t come along until 1954, while Douglas’ song debuted decades earlier in 1933.  Now whether the similarity in the songs’ sounds and styles is coincidental is anyone’s guess.  If Fuller took influence from Douglas however, it further shows the strength of her influence.  It is just one more example of the importance of the collection’s musical content.

There is no denying that the musical content that makes up this compilation’s body.  It is just one part of what makes the record appealing.  The production of the songs is just as important as the songs themselves.  The production is so much of note because of its role in their sound in their presentation here.  As with so many collection’s of vintage music that World Music Network has released over the years, this collection’s songs are so wonderful in their sound.  The static from the original recordings is just as evident here as in their original vinyl releases a century ago.  Yes, with many of the songs featured here, a century has passed since they were originally released.  It creates such a wonderful sense of nostalgia while once again showing that it is possible to have vintage vinyl recordings on CD and have them sound just as rich as they would on a new vinyl re-issue.  Again, that is a tribute to the work that went into the record’s production.  The general effect that results from that positive production builds on the appeal established through the songs to make for even more appeal, and in turn engagement and entertainment.

The overall presentation resulting from the collection’s content and production creates a strong general effect.  It is just part of what makes the record appealing.  The record’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements.  That is because of the background that it offers in its liner notes.  The notes in question offer a brief biography of Douglas, as well as a note of the struggle that she faced during her career, as a woman in a male dominated career.  This in itself is sure to generate plenty of discussion among audiences.  The liner notes also make clear that the songs featured in the set are in fact from her formative years.  The liner notes also point out her role in the popularity of country blues as a genre.  It is just one more item that make the liner notes so interesting.  When it and the other items pointed out here are considered along with the rest of the liner notes, the picture that they collectively paint enhances the listening experience that much more.  Staying on that note, when the information provided in the record’s liner notes is considered alongside the record’s musical content and its production, the whole makes The Rough Guide to Memphis MinnieQueen of the Country Blues yet another overall success from World Music Network.

The Rough Guide to Memphis MinnieQueen of the Country Blues is another enjoyable, immersive compilation from World Music Network that is also another positive addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To…  series of releases.  That is due in part to its featured musical content, as noted.  The songs featured in this compilation are a presentation of the famed blues legend’s early days.  It was that moment when she was just starting to make a name for herself.  The production of those songs proves it is possible to transfer vinyl recordings to CD without any loss.  The impact there further shows that all the people who think vinyl will one day replace CDs are clearly wrong.  The record’s booklet adds even more to the listening experience.  That is because of the history of Douglas that the liner notes therein provide.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this collection.  All things considered, they make the set another positive addition to WMN’s The Rough Guide To… series and one more of the year’s top new blues records.

The Rough Guide to Memphis MinnieQueen of the Country Blues is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano’ Is An Enjoyable Tribute To The Musical Roots, Connections Of Africa And Cuba

Courtesy: Putumayo World Music

Music that so many people call Latin and Spanish is neither Latin nor Spanish.  It is, at its root, African.  The bongos and congas that are so commonplace in “Latin” and “Spanish” music came from Africa. So did drums, such as timbales, and even other so-called Latin percussion.  Considering the very close connection between Latin and African music, World Music label Putumayo World Music has assembled a new compilation of songs that celebrates that connection in the form of Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano.  Scheduled for release Friday, the 10-song collection is another enjoyable presentation from the famed World Music label.  Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The liner notes featured with the collection make for their own appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The digital download card that comes with the set rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered they make the collection yet another fully enjoyable offering from Putumayo World Music.

Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano is hardly the first time that Putumayo World Music has ever released a compilation centered on music from Cuba.  It is also hardly the first time that the company has released a record centered on music from Africa.  It is something of a rarity though, for the company to release a compilation that bridges the music and cultures of both nations.  So to have music from both regions in one setting here is unique and welcome.  As pointed out in the liner notes (which will be addressed a little later), the music in this record comes from Cuba, as well as African nations, such as Congo, Angola, and Senegal.  That blending of nations’ cultures and music is evident right from the set’s opener, ‘Bessoka.’  Composed by Manu Dibango, the song comes by way of Cameroon.  The use of the marimba alongside Dibango’s distinct vocal style and delivery – he sings in his native tongue – alongside the African percussion make that obvious.  At the same time, listeners can hear how that instrumentation brings about thoughts of Cuba.  It is an interesting connection that is certain to engage and entertain audiences.

On another note, the sounds of Senegalese music are just as clear in ‘Femme Noire.’  Composed by the single-named Meissa, the stringed instrumentation and equally distinct vocal delivery style here immediately take listeners to the West African nation.  At the same time, the arrangement also boasts just as much of a clear link to Cuba as to Senegal.  That is made clear in the distinct sound of the guitar line.  There is a certain tinge (for lack of better wording) to the guitar line that immediately cries Cuba.  That blending of culture and music once again makes this another clear example of what makes the compilation’s primary content so important to its presentation.  It is hardly the last example of what makes the set’s musical content important.  ‘N’dona,’ which closes out the collection, is another way in which African and Cuban influences come together.

‘N’dona’ is an interesting addition to this compilation in that so much traditional music from that nation actually does already have some very close stylistic similarity to music from Cuba.  That is evidenced through the use of the percussion and guitars.  The similarity is likely due to the fact that for a certain period of time, Angola was colonized by Portugal, which is also connected musically and culturally with Spain and Latin America.  To that end, the sounds of those song are that much less of a surprise.  To that end, the song is yet another clear example of the importance of the collection’s musical content.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the set’s other entries, the whole of that primary content makes clear why the record’s musical content is so important.

As important of a role as the record’s musical content plays to its presentation, it is just one part of what makes the record another successful offering from Putumayo World Music.  The liner notes featured with the record once again make for their own appeal.  As with every other compilation that Putumayo World Music has released to date, the liner notes here give brief but concise histories of the acts featured in the record.  The brief bio of Mel Malonga for instance, outlines his talents as a multi-instrumentalist and his experience working with a variety of well-known African acts.  It also outlines the meaning behind his song, ‘Requiem De L’Amour,’ noting that the song is about the rise of African musical influence in Cuban music.

The information about Meissa’s ‘Femme Noire’ is apparently a tribute to African women in terms of their physical form.  In other words, it is apparently meant to be something of a sensual song.  That understanding definitely adds another layer of interest to the song.  Further, it continues to show the importance of the collection’s liner notes.  It shows just how much the liner notes add to the record.

On yet another note, the brief bio on Los-Angeles-based artist/producer Ricardo Lemvo makes for its own appeal.  It is here that audiences learn of his and his family’s roots in Congo-Kinshasa, and how that played into the music that he crafts to this day.  The notes point out the blend of Congolese rumba and soukous has on those creations.  This revelation is certain to serve as a starting point for many audiences into those genres, just as much as his music.  Once again, it means the record’s liner notes play a pivotal role in its presentation, very much to the positive.  When the positive impact of this information and the other information addressed is considered with the positive impact of the rest of the record’s liner notes, the whole makes just as clear why the set’s liner notes are just as important to its presentation as its musical content.  The two elements together give audiences plenty to appreciate here.

While the primary and secondary content featured in Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano are unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, they are not all that is worth discussing.  The inclusion of a digital download card with the compilation adds even more appeal to the presentation.  That is because in having that, audiences can…well…download the collection onto their phones, computers, or other digital devices so that they can have the set in physical and digital form.  The digital will allow audiences to have the record on computer, and in turn, potentially burn it to disc with an external drive, or simply carry it with them on their portable streaming devices.  So really, the download card allows audiences who buy the compilation to enjoy it anywhere they go.  Providing that option once again is yet another win for the company and for audiences alike.  The label is to be commended for once again going this route, as it puts that proverbial cherry on top for the record.  When this is considered along with the impact and importance of the compilation’s overall content, the whole makes the record yet another enjoyable World Music offering from Putumayo World Music and one more of the year’s top new World Music offerings.

Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano, the latest World Music compilation from Putumayo World Music, is hardly the first time that the label has taken on the music of Cuba and Africa.  It is however, one of only a handful of times that the label has paid tribute to the nations’ music in terms of their connection to one another in one setting.  The music that makes up the collection’s body does well to exhibit those links.  Whether listeners are casual audiences of either musical genre or more seasoned, those connections are clear throughout, and can in turn serve as a starting point for those casual audiences in discovering even more music from either side of the Atlantic.  The liner notes that accompany the record make for their own interest.  That is because of the background that they offer on the artists and songs featured throughout the compilation.  That background adds to the listening experience, and in turn, the engagement and entertainment.  The inclusion once again of a digital download card with the compilation allows audiences to enjoy the set no matter where they go and where they are.  It puts the finishing touch to the whole and when considered with the record’s overall content, shows why this collection is yet another successful offering from Putumayo World Music.

Putumayo Presents Afro-Cubano is scheduled for release Friday through Putumayo World Music. More information on this and other titles from Putumayo Music is available at:

Websitehttps://putumayo.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Putumayo

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘The Color Of Wood’ Makes A Strong Case For Percussionists As Stars

Courtesy: Summit Records

This past April, percussionist Tom Collier released his new album, The Color of Wood through Summit Records.  His first studio recording since the release of his 2017 album, Impulsive Illumination, it is a unique addition to this year’s field of new jazz and overall albums.  That is because the 15-song record defies classification, as is evidenced through its multitude of arrangements.  This will be discussed shortly.  While that diversity of sounds and styles forms a solid foundation for the album, the lack of any background on the songs in the liner notes detracts from the record’s presentation to a point.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production works with the arrangements to make for even more appeal and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered they make The Color of Wood one of the most unique overall records to be released so far this year that will appeal to every percussionist out there.

The Color of Wood, percussionist Tom Collier’s latest album is another unique record from the veteran musician.  It is a presentation that really defies any real classification from beginning to end.  It is not a jazz album, despite being released through a jazz label.  It is not necessarily a modern classical work and nor is it even just purely some artsy type of record.  It is a presentation that in reality…is a percussionist’s record, point blank.  It is just Collier alone on marimba from beginning to end.  At times it is clear that his performances are likely layered, because there is no way that he could have done some of the things in some of the faster arrangements completely by himself all at once, even using a traditional grip, holding multiple mallets. This is a rare approach in comparison to the music in his existing catalog.  He has done more funky stuff in one album, worked with other musicians in others, etc.  So, to have this record feature just Collier performing a group of unique arrangements (including a pair of covers) is something interesting, as are the arrangements themselves. 

Speaking of the arrangements, the aptly titled ‘Five Reflections on Wood’ apparently is one of those standout compositions.  It was inspired by a group of painters – Ruthi Winter, Cindy Kelsey, Jim and Mary Burdett, and Adelle Hermann Comfort – and by his wife, Cheryl according to the very brief information in the liner notes.  Obviously only certain people are likely to know who the noted painters are along with their paintings.  At the same time though, not knowing them or their works could lead those other audiences to research them.  It could lead to a whole new discovery and appreciation for those artists.  The arrangements that were inspired by the noted artists are so strong in their approaches.  From one to the next, Collier shows his ability to perform fast, intricate rhythmic patterns just as well as more subdued, contemplative works.  The very first movement, ‘Portrait of Cheryl’ (which was the piece inspired by his wife) is one of the movements that shows his ability to handle more upbeat works expertly.  He works his way up and down the marimba with so much ease, controlling the dynamics so well.  ‘A Sister’s Radiant Painting’ finds Collier moving in a much more subdued fashion, using so much control, including in his dynamic control.  The subtleties used throughout the song make it so immersive and its transition in to the opus’ third movement, ‘Portrait of a Scarlet Flower’ is seamless.  This is just as certain to keep listeners engaged, as that composition is just as relaxed and subdued.  As the composition progresses into its fourth and fifth movements, he continues to put his talents on full display just as much in the equally interesting arrangements, ‘Shelling at Horsehead Bay’ and ‘Ode to a Sunset.’  ‘Ode to a Sunset’ is such a positive yet relaxed composition that even without liner notes, really does paint its own musical picture, that of someone sitting in the warm weather, watching the sun set over a given situation.  The whole of the song is such a pleasing, appealing work.  It is just one of the works that makes the record unique.  Collier’s take of Hank Williams Sr.’s ‘I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry’ is another presentation that shows the importance of the album’s musical content.

Collier’s cover of ‘I’m So Lonesome, I Could Cry’ is anything but that original composition.  Collier gives the song a completely new identity in its presentation here.  Instead of the melancholy song of lost love that everyone knows, Collier paints a picture that is more bluesy and upbeat. The chromatic scales that he uses as part of the arrangement and the occasional bluesy runs give the song such an intriguing approach and sound.  It really is something that must be heard firsthand to be fully understood and appreciated.  Simply put, it is a cover, but in its originality, is original in its own right.  It is just one more example of why the record’s musical content is so important to its presentation.  ‘The Owls Seem What They Want’ is yet another clear example of what makes the albums’ content so enjoyable.

‘The Owls Seem What They Want’ opens with Collier echoing the sounds of owls calling in the air by using a simple, steady beat on the marimba’s lower end.  He maintains the “call” throughout the composition as its base as he then gets slightly more active in the song’s main body.  The more energetic side of the song conjures thoughts of, maybe, owls in flight in the forest, all the while that call of the birds serving as the song’s foundation.  It is one more unique, fully immersive addition to the album that shows the record’s strength.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered alongside the rest of the record’s works, the whole makes for so much musical appeal. 

As much as the record’s musical arrangements do to make this album engaging and entertaining, the record is not perfect.  The lack of any real substantive background on the songs detracts from the record to a point.  Yes, there is a slight background on ‘Five Reflections on Wood.’  The thing of it though, is that said background is minimal at best.  All that Collier notes is that the composition was inspired by his wife and by a group of painters of whom most audiences likely do not know.  Other than that, there really is no background on any of the songs.  To that end, it detracts from the record to a point.  It is not enough to doom the record but does detract from the record’s presentation enough to be something of a concern.

Getting back to the positive, the record’s production works with the arrangements to make for its own appeal.  As noted, the arrangements show a wide range of sounds and styles from one to the next.  From more energetic works to more subdued compositions, Collier gives audiences much to appreciate.  Because of that diversity, plenty of attention had to have been paid to the production so as to bring out the best of each opus.  That work and attention paid off, too.  That is because it results in each song presenting such a positive general effect.  The overall general effect works with the arrangements to make the album’s overall aesthetic so appealing that percussionists and music lovers in general will find themselves taking in this record time and again.

The Color of Wood, Tom Collier’s latest studio album, is an impressive new offering from the veteran percussionist.  It is a presentation that will appeal just as much to percussionists as it will to any music lover in general.  That is evidenced in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are diverse in their sound and style.  The control that Collier shows throughout the album is impressive to say the very least, adding to the songs’ appeal.  As much as the album’s main content does to make it appealing, the lack of any background on the songs in the liner notes detracts from the record’s presentation.  It is not enough to doom the album, but still does take away from the overall listening experience.  The songs’ production works with the arrangements to put one more accent to the presentation, as it brings out the best in each composition.  When the production and arrangements are considered together, the aesthetic that they collectively create is just enough to make the album that much more worth hearing time and again.  That is even with the lack of liner notes in mind.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered the album proves itself to be one of the year’s top new albums overall.

The Color of Wood is available now through Summit Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Tom Collier’s latest news at https://tomcolliervibes.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com

Playing For Change Band’s Debut LP Is Among The Best Of This Year’s New World Music Offerings

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

For many, the name Playing for Change is a very familiar name.  For others maybe not so much.  For those people, the organization was launched in 2002 as a global music project by Grammy® Award-winning producer/engineer and award-winning film director Mark Johnson and fellow film producer Whitney Kroenke.  The organization went on in 2007 to spawn the Playing For Change Foundation, which helped to create music schools for children around the world.  Playing for Change as an organization has also released four studio recordings and a live recording between 2009 and 2018.  Some of the organization’s members even formed a smaller group known fittingly as the Playing for Change Band, and on June 24, that collective released its debut album, The Real Revolution.  Recorded at Tuff Gong Studio with members of Damian Marley’s band, the 10-song record is a strong first outing for the Playing for Change offshoot.  That is proven both through its musical and lyrical arrangements.  One of the most notable of the songs that makes that clear comes early in the album’s run in the form of ‘Young People.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ’54-46 That’s My Number,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another notable addition to the album and will be examined a little later.  ‘When The Music Comes,’ the record’s closer, is one more (but not the last) of the songs that shows what makes the album’s overall content engaging and entertaining.  When it is considered alongside the likes of ‘Right Foot Forward,’ ‘Mi Pierdo,’ ‘Run’ and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes The Real Revolution a real enjoyable overall World Music offering.

The Real Revolution, the debut album from the Playing for Change Band, is an impressive first outing from the group, whose members are all involved with the bigger Playing for Change organization.  Its appeal comes through its musical and lyrical content alike.  This is made clear early on in the song, ‘Young People.’  This song’s musical arrangement opens with a warm, Hammond organ line that pairs nicely with an infectious saxophone line and unique approach to what is an otherwise standard reggae guitar line.  The whole of the instrumentation and vocals makes the song a unique reggae and World composition all in one that is fully immersive, engaging and entertaining. 

The lyrical theme that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement is just as appealing as that musical content.  As the title infers, the song’s lyrical theme centers on today’s youth.  It is a call to action for young people today to care for one another and for the planet.  From early on, the call to reduce pollution and to respect one another is clear.  As the song progresses, it encourages young people to take their education more seriously and to respect their teachers.  Young listeners are encouraged here because they are told they are the ones who will inherit the planet.  This is such a moving message that will resonate with the young people addressed because it is delivered in such casual, relaxed fashion.  It would have been easy for the group to be more preachy in its message here, but thankfully it did not go that route.  To that end, the theme, paired with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, makes the whole just one of the most notable additions to The Real Revolution.  ’54-46 That’s My Number’ is another song that shows what makes the album so enjoyable.

’54-46 That’s My Number’ presents a musical arrangement that is the polar opposite of that featured in ‘Young People.’  In the case of this song, the arrangement is a purer, blues-based composition.  The reggae leaning is still there but is far more subtle alongside the song’s more present blues influence.  The instrumentation – the horns, piano, guitar, and even beat from the drums – lends the song to comparison to works from the likes of Robert Randolph and the Family Band, the Derek Trucks Band, and others of that ilk.  It is fully infectious and in turn, engaging and entertaining.

The lyrical theme featured in this song is a little difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference.  That is because it is delivered in full-on reggae style.  The mention of “the police man” and the subject wanting the public hear what he says, it comes across as a social commentary, perhaps about what is going on in the world in regards to police relations with the public.  Again, this is just this critic’s interpretation.  If in fact this song is the social commentary that it seems to be, then that seeming message, the way in which it is delivered, and the musical accompaniment together make the song in whole yet another positive addition to the album, showing even more what makes the overall content worth hearing.

’54-56 That’s My Number’ is just one more of the songs that makes The Real Revolution stand out.  ‘When The Music Comes,’ which closes out the album, is one more example of what makes the album so strong.  ‘When The Music Comes’ is interesting in that it keeps things varied right to the album’s end, in terms of musical content.  In the case of this song’s composition, it blends some vintage country music leanings with the reggae influences that run through the album for yet another unique composition.  The subtlety of the pairing, the way in which the two genres are blended, makes the overall laid back work so immersive.

Lyrically, the song comes across as just a happy, relaxed work that celebrates the relaxing nature of music.  This is inferred in the song’s lead verse, which states, “I’m so strange in this world/The word is so strange to me/I’m a stranger in this world/I have no place to be/I’m so bored in this world/Ain’t got nothing to eat…Got my feet on the ground/When my ears hear the sound/Then no one can bring me down/When the music comes around.”  This is clearly a message about the positive power of the music.  It hints at someone feeling alone in the world and who is put at ease by music.  The seeming message continues in the song’s second verse, which states, “I’m so cold in this world/The world’s so cold to me/So cold and alone in this world…I’ve got my feet on the ground/When my ears hear the sound/Then no one can bring me down/When the music comes around.”  Yet again, here is that affirmation of the power of music.  So again, what audiences get in this song is a composition that lyrically is just as uplifting in its lyrical content as its musical arrangement.  The whole makes the song just one more of so many engaging and entertaining works featured throughout the album.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall one more of the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.

The Real Revolution, the debut album from The Playing for Change Band, is a strong first outing for the group, which has been performing together for some years.  The record’s appeal comes through its musical and lyrical content alike, as is noted through the songs examined here.  When those songs are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes The Real Revolution one more of this year’s top new World Music albums.

The Real Revolution is available through Ingrooves.  More information on the record is available along with all of the latest Playing for Change news at:

Website: https://playingforchange.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PlayingForChange

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

‘Super Wiggles’ Is A Super Addition To This Year’s Field Of New Family Music Albums

Courtesy: ABC/Universal

Veteran family entertainment act The Wiggles released its latest album this spring in the form of Super Wiggles.  Released April 1 through ABC/Universal, the 22-song record is the act’s 57th (yes, 57th) studio recording and comes more than 30 years after the release of the band’s self-titled debut in 1991.  It is another addition to the group’s expansive catalog that families will find entertaining, too.  Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany that musical content is of its own import and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make the album another of the best of this year’s new family music offerings.

 Super Wiggles, the latest studio offering from The Wiggles, is another record that the whole family will find entertaining.  Its appeal comes in part through its musical arrangements.  From beginning to end, the arrangements are diverse in their sounds and styles.  ‘The Friendship Song,’ for instance, presents a sort of kindie-ska sound and style.  That is evidenced through the use of the horns and drums.  That instrumentation pairs with the more familiar kindie vocal styling from the group to make this song’s arrangement overall something that is truly unique from its counterparts in the album.  ‘Land of the Missing Socks,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is the polar opposite of ‘The Friendship Song.’  This is a full-on kindie arrangement.  The almost Renaissance style and sound here does well to compliment the silly, sort of fairy tale lyrical content featured here about…well…the land of missing socks.  ‘Big Strong John,’ on yet another note, is its own unique composition, too.  The use of the muted trumpet alongside the piano and the children’s xylophone makes the whole sound like something that one might expect to have heard on Sesame Street early on in the show’s history.  That is meant in the most honorable way, too.  Such musical content is a big part of what made the show so beloved back in those days.  It is just one more way in which the album’s musical content shows its diversity and in turn makes it so engaging and entertaining.

Building on the content itself, the arrangements’ run times are relatively short from beginning to end, too.  The longest song in this 42-minute presentation clocks in at two minutes, 55 seconds.  It comes more than halfway through the album in the form of the nautical-themed song, ‘Put Your Life Vest On.’  The pirate-style vocal delivery here pairs with the ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’-esque musical arrangement to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  The record’s shortest song comes even later in the record’s nearly 45-minute run time in the form of the aforementioned ‘Land of the Missing Socks.’  The song clocks in at a “hefty” 56 seconds.  In other words, what audiences get in the record’s musical arrangement is an expansive collection of music that is diverse and that ensures listeners’ attention because of the songs’ run times.  All things considered the musical content featured here creates a solid foundation for the album.

As much as the album’s musical content does for its presentation, it is just part of what makes the record appealing to the whole family.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content make for their own interest.  The lyrical themes featured throughout the album are just as diverse as their musical counterparts.  From beginning to end, they vary from the serious to the silly.  The very early entry, ‘Sing Together’ is one of those more serious lyrical presentations.  It is a song that addresses the matter of accepting and appreciating our differences.  It is done in a fashion that makes it fully accessible to young listeners, too.  The theme is presented clearly in the statement that “Some people like to run around/Some people jump up and down/Other people like to go for a swim/Everyone together/Let’s all sing/Some people like to sweep the floor/Some people like to mow their lawn/Some people like vacuuming/Everyone together, let’s sing.”  This is a simple statement that again points out we are all different, but even with those differences, we can all come together.  It is a message that will never get old and is just as certain to appeal to grown-ups as children. 

As the album progresses, the group pays tribute to the world’s teachers in the equally simple ‘Hooray for Teachers.’  The song only runs one minute, 21 seconds, but in that short time, the group outright celebrates teachers, signing about their happy smiles as children come into the classroom and the safety that they provide on the playground.  Considering everything going on around the world in schools, the teaching profession has become somewhat maligned.  Teachers are leaving the profession in droves around the world.  To that end, reminding listeners of all ages what makes teachers so beloved will hopefully make listeners appreciate teachers, and in turn motivate teachers to stay in their jobs.  Again, this message is presented in such simple, accessible fashion.  It is yet another example of what makes the record’s lyrical content so important.

The silly comes in the form of ‘Land of the Missing Socks.’  Again, it clocks in at less than a minute, but in that time, the silliness of the theme here will have the whole family laughing.  Everyone knows the jokes about socks going missing in the laundry, so one can’t help but wonder if in fact there is a land of missing socks.  It’s fantastical, sure, but is still just funny and fully entertaining.  When this hilarious concept is considered along with the other themes examined here and with the rest of the record’s lyrical content, the whole makes clear why the album’s overall lyrical content is just as important as its musical content.

The overall content featured throughout Super Wiggles does plenty to keep audiences engaged and entertained.  It is just part of what makes the record successful.  The sequencing of said content puts the finishing touch to the whole.  From the record’s opener to its end, the sequencing ensures the energy remains stable even as the sounds and styles change in the songs, and as the lyrical content changes.  At the same time, the sequencing also shows that plenty of time and thought was put into the content itself in terms of changing it up throughout.  That time and thought resulted in just as much success as in the stability in the record’s energy.  To that end, the sequencing proves even more important to the album’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the album’s overall content, the whole makes Super Wiggles a super addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

Super Wiggles, the latest studio offering from The Wiggles, is a presentation that the group’s established audiences will appreciate just as much as family music fans in general.  That is due in large part to the album’s musical content, which provides plenty of diversity throughout.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as varied from one to the next, ranging from the silly to the serious.  They are presented in a fashion that makes each theme fully accessible to young listeners, too.  The sequencing of that content shows that plenty of time and thought was put into that aspect, too.  That is because it makes the record’s energy stable from beginning to end and ensures the content remains diverse throughout.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make Super Wiggles a welcome addition to this year’s field of new family music albums. 

Super Wiggles is available now through ABC/Universal. More information on The Wiggles’ new album is available along with all of the group’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://TheWiggles.com.au

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/TheWiggles

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/TheWiggles

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.