Audiences Will Find ‘The Trip To Greece’ A Cinematic Journey Worth Taking At Least Once

Courtesy: IFC Films

IFC Films’ final entry in Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s The Trip To franchise – The Trip to Greece — is an intriguing end to the cinematic “series.”  It is a presentation that, like its predecessors, audiences will either like or not.  Viewers who are not already fans of British drama and comedy will not find themselves coming into the fold through this movie.  The opposite applies for those who are fans of said brand of entertainment.  Regardless of which side one takes on this franchise, its stars, and British movies and television, everyone will agree that this last entry to the noted franchise is worth watching at least once.  That is thanks in part to the movie’s story.  This will be addressed shortly.  While the story proves itself a point of interest, it does create one notable concern, that being the issue of pacing.  This will be addressed a little later.  For all of the concern that the story’s pacing causes, the cinematography that is featured throughout keeps the story at least somewhat engaging.  This will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Trip To Greece a slightly enjoyable new cinematic trip.

The Trip to Greece is an interesting finale for Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s globe hopping docu-dramedy “The Trip To…” franchise.  While not a perfect ending to the franchise, it is worth watching at least once.  That is due in part to its unique story.  The story that is presented here is actually a two-part work that is one part drama and one part comedy.  On one side, audiences follow Coogan and Brydon doing comic impersonations of their fellow actors (famed names, such as Sean Connery, Michael Kane, and Dustin Hoffman just to name a few) as they follow the journey of the legendary mythical warrior Odysseus.  Just as a little back story, Odysseus’ story is that of his journey from a far-off land in an effort to return to his family.  It is a very dramatic epic story.  Throughout the course of Coogan and Brydon’s retracing of Odysseus’ journey, they meet “sirens” and deal with other figures along the way.

The comic factor of the duo’s story is just one aspect that is important to note.  Along the way, audiences also see a more personal story for each, what with Brydon dealing with his wife’s illness while being away from her and his family and Coogan getting updates on the health of his own father from his son.  This is where the interest really sets in.  The emotion that Brydon and Coogan feel as they face those personal matters is a mirror of sorts to Odysseus’ journey and his desire to be home with his family in his story.  That duality forms a firm foundation for the movie, and reason enough to give the movie a chance.  Of course for all that the story does to make the movie interesting, the pacing thereof proves problematic.

The Trip to Greece clocks in at one hour, 43-minutes.  However, even coming in at just under two hours, the story’s pacing makes it feel like it is nearly two-and-a-half-hours.  Maybe it is because of all of the small-talk.  Maybe it is the travel scenes.  Maybe it is something else or everything combined.  Either way, audiences will find themselves wanting to fast forward this flick multiple times throughout its run.  Some might even give in to that urge.  It just moves that slowly.  The thing is that in fast forwarding, audiences might miss some important moments in the story that make the noted juxtaposition of the ancient and not so aged so important.  To that end, even as much as audiences are going to want to fast forward, they will have to hold steady and not give in if they want to really capture the nuances of the story.  It’s a sad trade-off, but one that is necessary.  Luckily, as much as this story’s pacing detracts from the movie’s presentation, its cinematography makes the slow, plodding take at least somewhat bearable.

The cinematography that is featured throughout The Trip to Greece is outstanding.  Whether it be the aerial shots of the bays or the seaside footage s Coogan and Brydon have their discussions, or even something as simple as the duo driving from point to point, the cinematography offers so much to appreciate.  The way in which the footage was captured presents such a rich, lush landscape throughout the Mediterranean region.  The colors are so well-balanced throughout the feature, even with so many standard style shots.  It’s like watching a video postcard of sorts.  It’s no Rick Steves show, considering how spit shined it is, but is still engaging in its own right.  When this aspect is considered along with the movie’s central story, the two aspects make up for the problems posed by the movie’s pacing enough to make the movie an interesting presentation, just not perfect.

The Trip to Greece, the finale in IFC’s “The Trip To…” franchise is an intriguing end to the “series.”  It proves itself worth watching in part because of its story.  The story is a mirror of sorts to the journey which Odysseus faces in his mythical journey.  Brydon and Coogan face the desire to be with family just as much as Odysseus.  Each is re-united with family, but in different ways.  That desire to be with family comes as the duo makes its way along the path that Odysseus took on his journey all while spoofing the work of some of their well-known contemporaries.  As interesting as the story proves what with its duality and irony, the pacing thereof cannot be ignored.  It does cause its own share of problems for the movie.  Even as much as it detracts from the movie’s presentation, the movie’s cinematography makes up for that issue at least to a point.  When it is considered alongside the movie’s central story, the two elements together make the movie a cinematic journey that audiences will find worth taking at least once.  The Trip to Greece is available now.  More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available at:

Website: http://ifcfilms.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifcfilms

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.  

Saul’s New LP Shows This Band’s Star Is On The “Rise”

Courtesy: Spinefarm Records

You can do anything that you put your mind to.  Everybody knows that old adage, and independent hard rock band Saul is proof that the noted words of wisdom are in fact true.  While the band got its start during the high school years of its founding members, brothers Blake and Zach Bedsaul, the band wasted little time chasing its dream, eventually hitting the road and releasing its debut studio recording Aeons last March.  Now less than two years after its release, the band released its debut album, Rise as Equals.  The 14-song record is a positive second studio offering and equally strong full-length debut for the band.  That is proven in part early on in the song ‘Brother.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Rise as Equals,’ the album’s title track is another example of what the album has to offer audiences.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Sticks and Stones’ is yet another example of what makes Saul’s new album stand out.  It will be addressed later, too.  All three songs noted here do their own part to make this record worth hearing.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a work that is the beginning of Saul’s rise to equal fame with the band’s more well-known counterparts.

Saul’s debut full-length studio recording Rise as Equals is the beginning of this band’s rise to fame equal to that of its contemporaries.  That is proven in part early on in the album’s run in the form of the song ‘Brother.’  The band’s members waste no time launching into the nearly four-and-a-half-minute song’s musical arrangement, taking off right from the song’s outset.  The crunching guitars, bass and drums couple with front man Blake Bedsaul’s vocal delivery to instantly conjure thoughts of Hellyeah, Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin.  It doesn’t let up until late in the song’s run, either.  That moment when the song’s energy pulls back is well-placed, too.  That is because it helps to heighten the emotion in the song’s lyrical theme right at that moment.

Speaking of the song’s lyrical content, Bedsaul explained in an interview about the song’s topic.  “Lyrically, this song defines what I should have said to my brother in his last moments,” Bedsaul said in the interview.  “This song cuts deep for me, and it’s a constant reminder that life is fleeting.  Tell the people in your life that you love them.”  This message is delivered clearly as Bedsaul sings in the lead verse, “I write this letter/It’s a letter I’ll never send/Words I’d never say/Would you read it anyway/Tell me brother, what’s my fate/Did you see the sunrise/Did you see the rain/We’ve come so far/Penniless in pain/This is my fate/The world awaits/Hold my hands and tell me that it’s alright/Are you proud of everything I’ve done in my life.”  From here, Bedsaul goes on to sing in the song’s chorus asking pleadingly to his brother “Are you still proud of me after everything that I’ve done?”  Bedsaul continues in similar fashion in the song’s second verse.  Ultimately what this comes across as (at least to this critic) is a person who is dealing with a lot of personal guilty and heavy feelings in general.  Those thoughts and feelings are translated very well.  When it is considered alongside the companion that is the song’s musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes a work that easily holds its own against its more well-known noted counterparts, and proves easily that it could just as easily be played on any mainstream/active rock station along with songs from those bands.  It is just one of the songs featured in this EP that makes the record appealing for its noted audiences. ‘Rise as Equals,’ the album’s title track is another example of its strength.

Much as with ‘Brother,’ the musical arrangement featured in ‘Rise as Equals’ is a very industrial/melodic metal style composition.  What audiences will appreciate that despite having a very similar stylistic approach to that of ‘Brother’ and the album’s other works, it still boasts its own unique, heavy sound that also boasts its own share of melody, too.  The heaviness and the sincerity in the melody serves well to help deliver the message of unity featured in the song’s lyrical content.

The noted message of unity is made clear right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “You are my equals/We bleed when we’re cut/We weep when we’re torn/We love and we lose/We scar and we bruise/From the day that we’re born/We fall and we fight/We’re all damaged inside/Under our skin/We all want to win/We see eye to eye/I will be there for you/You will be there for me.”  It is made just as clear, if not more so, in the song’s second verse, which states, “There is no above/There is no below/We’re willing to bleed for what we believe/We all reap what we sow/I will be there for you/You will be there for me/RISE.”  The song’s chorus adds even more impact, stating, “This is my tribe/These are my people/Sisters and brothers/You are my equals/Live till we die/Together we’re lethal/Sisters and brothers/You are my equals/I won’t let you go/You are my equals/I won’t let you go.”  Once again, audiences get a proud statement of unity even despite the world’s situation.  Together with the song’s noted equally powerful musical arrangement, the two elements jointly make this song its own impacting work and just one more notable addition to Rise as Equals.  ‘Sticks and Stones,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another of the album’s strongest entries.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Sticks and Stones’ is another industrial style song that also adds in some very distinct hardcore influences a la Hatebreed, Terror, etc.  That is evidenced through the pairing of the heavy, crunching guitars and screaming vocal delivery style.  What makes the arrangement even more interesting is the pairing of the more melodic elements alongside that heavier side.  The contrast is noticeable in the two sounds, yet the band still manages to make the pairing work, and work well at that.  It pairs well with the song’s equally powerful lyrical theme, which focuses on a toxic personality who has caused an otherwise good, controlled person to lose their cool.

The noted theme is inferred right from the song’s outset, as it states, “Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Close knit failing scene/Watch me live your broken dreams/I said I’d never get low I’d never get petty/You’ve broken the dam and opened the levee/Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Crooked smiles I’m not your martyr/Want to be me you better try harder.” The song’s second verse hints even more at the noted theme, as it states, “Always doubted me/They stand in disbelief/I knew I’d be the king at the top of the pile/When you see me I’ll be nothing but smiles/Sticks and stones won’t break our bones/Can’t take what you never earned/Can’t fake what you never learned.”  The song goes on to outright call the person in question “Two-faced.”  That speaks volumes when considered alongside the rest of the song’s noted lyrical content.  Taking all of this into account, the heaviness and fire in the song’s musical arrangement becomes even more impacting, especially when coupled with this no nonsense message.  When the song in whole is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the album, in its entirety, proves to be the point at which Saul really starts its rise to fame equal to that of its fellow metal and hard rock acts.

Saul’s debut album Rise as Equals is a record that proves it will not take long before this band is equal to its more well-known counterparts in the hard rock and metal community.  That is evidenced in the record’s musical and lyrical content, as pointed out here.  When the three songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the record in whole leaves no doubt, that Saul’s star is on the rise.

More information on Rise as Equals is available now along with all of Saul’s current live dates and more at:

Websitehttp://saulofficial.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/saulbandofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/saulband

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.

Audiences Will “Celebrate” Kurt Baker’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Independent pop rock artist Kurt Baker is scheduled to release his latest album After Party Friday.  The 12-song record is, like his label mate Jessie Wagner’s new album Shoes Droppin’, another surprisingly enjoyable musical diamond in the rough in the year’s field of new albums.  The four singles that the album has already turned out more than prove the noted statement true.  They are but a snapshot of what makes After Party so enjoyable.  ‘Used To Think,’ which comes late in the album’s run, shows in its own way what makes the album so engaging and entertaining.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Should’ve Been The One,’ the 36-minute record’s penultimate entry, does its own share to show what makes the album stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Waiting For You,’ which comes a little earlier in the album, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of its entries, the whole of After Party proves itself to be a presentation whose arrival listeners will happily celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new solo album After Party is a wonderful new offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners with its musical and lyrical content alike.  The singles that the record has produced leave no doubt about that.  They are just a portion of what makes the album so enjoyable, too.  It boasts plenty of entertaining and engaging songs other than the noted entries, not the least of which is the song ‘Used To Think.’  The musical arrangement featured in this song is a unique presentation in itself.  It mixes elements of music from the 1980s and 50s for its whole.  The 1950s style sound is more evident in the choruses, with the simple, infectious calls of “ooh-ah, baby” while the more 80s pop rock style sounds are more commonplace in the verses.  The pairing of the sounds does not seem like it would work on paper, but in hearing them together here, they make for such a fun song.  When they join with the song’s lyrical theme, which comes across as Baker looking back on life and learning from his experiences, but doing so with a positive mindset, the song becomes even more accessible and enjoyable for audiences.

The noted lyrical topic is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, in which Baker sings, “I used to think that I wanted money/I used to think that I wanted fame/And looking back/Though it may seem funny/I used to think that was just a game/I used to think/That maybe one day/You might get up and go/I used to think/But now I know.”  The noted theme is continued in the song’s second verse as he sings, “I spent a lot of money on used records/I spent a lot of money on cheap beer/But in the end I got no regrets ‘cause/All that spending got me right to here/I used to think/That maybe one day/I would reap what I sow/I used to think/But now I know.”  He adds in the song’s third verse, “I realize that things are more important/I realize that things are black and white/To understand just how this world works/You’ve got to be in it for the fight/I used to think…”  that last refrain is tough to decipher. That is a minor issue.  Looking at the bigger picture of the lyrical content, it delivers a relatively positive message of someone who has learned some valuable life lessons and grown as a person as a result of those lessons.  That is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation.  Hopefully it is close to being a correct interpretation.  Regardless, that it is not just another typical song about relationships and that it couples with an equally accessible musical arrangement, makes it that much more enjoyable for audiences.  It is just one of the works that shines so brightly in this presentation.  ‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another enjoyable entry in the record’s overall presentation.

‘Should’ve Been The One’ is another of those songs that mixes influences of the 1950s and 1980s.  What is important to note here is that it is unique from the album’s other entries. In this case, the song’s musical base takes elements of 1950s doo-wop a la The Skyliners, The Everly Brothers, and Ritchie Valens and crosses that with the synth-pop sounds that were so popular during the 1980s.  The hybrid approach makes the song a surprisingly appealing composition that holds its own alongside the album’s other arrangements.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  The song’s familiar lyrical theme of a relationship adds to its appeal.

The noted theme is presented right from the song’s outset as Baker sings, “I found a true love/But I threw it away/She gave me all the lovin’/Day after day/But I was getting careless/I was foolin’ around/And I shoulda known that you would find out/Always act suspicious when I came home late/I told you I was working/And you took the bait/Rumors have a funny way of making their rounds/But the truth came out/And you found out/I know I let you down/Should’ve been the one to tell you/I should’ve been the one to say/Should’ve been the one to let you know…I can’t change my ways/Should’ve been the one to say.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “We were having our share of sleepless nights/Every disagreement/Turned into a fight/She came out of nowhere/There was nothing I could do/She makes me feel the same way I did when I met you.”  Even lyrically this song harkens back to the 1950s, as it is a song sung from the male perspective, knowing that he has done wrong, and he is basically showing his remorse to the woman he wronged.  This, and the song’s catchy musical arrangement, pair up to make the song that much more unique and interesting.  It is just one more way in which Baker’s latest offering proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable work.  ‘Waiting For You’ is yet another way in which the album exhibits its appeal.

‘Waiting For You’ is unique in that while it does present its own 1950s sensibility, one could also argue a more modern influence a la Jack Johnson.  That is presented through the simple piano riff and guitar line.  Baker’s vocal performance is the main point at which the 1950s influence shows through.  In this case, it conjures thoughts of Buddy Holly.  That in itself is enough to generate plenty of appeal.  When that element is coupled with the equally familiar modern pop rock influence that is spread across Baker’s record, the song becomes even more enjoyable.  Add in the familiar relationship-based lyrical content and audiences get an even more pleasant presentation.

The lyrical presentation featured here comes across as that of a man who is completely devoted to a woman.  That is inferred as Baker sings in the song’s lead verse, “You were shining bright/On a warm summer night/And I was waiting for you/People smiled at me/’Cause I bet they could see/I was waiting for you/It was something real girl/How you made me feel, girl/And I always hoped you would feel it, too/Well we lost it all, girl/Sometime in the fall, girl/And I’m still in love with you.”  One need not really much deeper than this, as the rest of the song follows in similar fashion.  Though Baker does ask in the second verse, “What else can I do girl/It’s all up to you girl/Did you start a love affair with someone new?” as he tells the woman “I’m still in love with you.”  This is a man who is head over heels for a woman, point blank.  Again, this lyrical theme itself even throws back to another time.  When this is considered along with the song’s equally enjoyable musical arrangement, the song in whole becomes yet another truly high point of After Party.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here, the album’s singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole becomes a presentation overall that is a wonderful work that any listener will celebrate.

Kurt Baker’s new album After Party is a surprisingly enjoyable offering from the independent singer-songwriter.  Its musical and lyrical content alike more than prove that true.  That is proven through the songs noted here and through the record’s singles, as well as its other works.  All things considered, they make the album its own party for listeners ears that audiences will find themselves celebrating.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.kurtbaker.me

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/KurtBakerMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Kurtmiltonbaker

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

Armored Saint’s New LP Is Enjoyable, But Has A Kink In Its Armor

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Armored Saint is scheduled to release its next album Friday, but audiences will get to hear the album in full tonight, ahead of its release.  The band made the announcement Wednesday through its official Facebook page.  The stream is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m .ET through the band’s official YouTube and Twitch channels, and will feature the opportunity for audiences to chat with the band as the record streams.  The 11-song record has already produced two successful singles, each of which proves in its own way, why audiences will enjoy the album.  While the noted singles do paint a positive picture for Armored Saint’s new album, the record is sadly not a perfect presentation.  Its overall pacing proves somewhat problematic.  Thankfully that aspect is not enough to make the record a failure.  The album’s production counters the noted concern.  When this is considered along with the positive that is the overall musical arrangements, they make this record still a positive new offering from one of the greatest bands in the history of hard rock and metal.

Punching The Sky, the eighth album from veteran hard rock band Armored Saint is an interesting new offering from the band.  It is a record that while enjoyable, is imperfect.   Audiences will be glad to know that even with that in mind, the album boasts more positives than negatives, not the least of which is its musical arrangements.  The arrangements that are featured in this album are solid hard rock arrangements from one to the next.  Both of the singles that the record has produced serve clearly to support that statement.  They are just some of the songs that serve that purpose, too.  ‘My Jurisdiction,’ which comes early in the album’s run, stands on its own merits.  The heavy, blues-based and guitar-driven arrangement here is so infectious and unlike anything else on the album.  The early 90s hard rock influences are just as prominent throughout the work as are the more modern hard rock sounds.  On another note (no pun intended) ‘Bark, No Bite,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another standout addition to the album.  The song is surefire favorite for any guitar rock purist.  There are influences of the vintage guitar rock sounds of the 80s alongside some 70s rock influence.  The result is an arrangement that is just as possible as a single as any of the album’s other entries.  It is hardly the last of the songs that can be used to show the importance of the record’s arrangements.  ‘Never You Fret,’ which closes out the album, is another powerful entry.  The full, rich sound from the guitar, bass, and drums is a full-on modern hard rock style composition.  Oddly enough, a close listen reveals a little bit of a jam band type of influence here, too.  The whole of these influences makes the song in whole just as solid a closer for the album as ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ is an opener.  Now while the songs noted here join with the album’s singles and the rest of its works to clearly show the power of the record’s arrangements, the arrangements do bring about at least one notable concern, that being the album’s overall pacing.

Bassist Joey Vera said in a recent interview that the run times of the songs featured in Punching The Sky are shorter than those of the album’s predecessor, Win Hands Down“I would have to say that this time, I was conscious about making the songs a little more to the point than the previous record,” he said. “As a result, most of the songs are a little shorter in length than they are on Win Hands Down (2015). ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ being an exception at almost seven minutes!”  Even with the shorter run times, the songs still suffer somewhat from a concern of pacing.  ‘Lone Wolf’ for example clocks in at just under four-and-a-half minutes (4:19 to be exact), but even at that time, there is something about the band’s approach here that makes the song feel like it runs five minutes in length, if not longer.  That is even with the song being a mid-tempo composition.  ‘Unfair’ by comparison, feels extra long, too.  Its run time is listed at four minutes, four seconds.  However, the slow, brooding nature in the song’s arrangement makes that run time feel stretched out even more.  Much the same can be said of the album’s other entries.  While the barely top the five-minute mark at their longest (with the exception of the one noted song from Vera), the songs each feel longer than they actually are.  Maybe that is the result in how they were composed.  Maybe it has to do with the songs’ energies.  Maybe it is both.  Regardless, this one aspect detracts from the record’s overall presentation.  Luckily, the impact that this element has is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s production couples with the songs to make up for that aspect of the songs’ pacing.

The production presented in Punching The Sky is positive in that it clearly take into account everything that goes on in each of the album’s songs and balances each arrangement expertly.  Each song is loud and bombastic, save for ‘Unfair.’  The songs liken themselves to the best works of Judas Priest with their ferocity.  That means that the guitars are full throttle and the bass and time keeping are just as strong in their own right.  The vocals offer their own impact along with the instrumentation of each song.  Considering how much is going on in each of the songs, it would have been so easy for each part to overpower the other.  Thankfully, those behind the glass did not allow that to happen.  The guitars are right there with the vocals, and even just below, allowing the vocals to be understood just enough while also allowing the guitars to shine.  At the same time, the harmonies created through the bass are just subtle enough but also just audible enough.  Meanwhile the drums maintain each song’s heartbeat, keeping everybody together without overpowering any of the other parts.  The result is a presentation that sounds just as good aesthetically as it does in terms of its overall presentation.  When this is considered along with the album’s one negative point, the whole of Punching The Sky proves itself a strong, successful new offering from one of the most respected names in rock and metal.

Armored Saint’s new album Punching The Sky is a positive new effort from the band.  That is despite at least one noticeable kink it its own armor.  The record’s arrangements are in themselves just as powerful as ever.  They bring in influences from the 70s, 80s and even 90s for a whole presentation that will appeal to longtime audiences and those less familiar with the band and its catalog.  The production of those arrangements adds even more appeal to the record.  That is because it led to the band members’ respective parts balancing out expertly from beginning to end.  These two elements together make up at least to a point for the record’s one negative, its overall pacing.  The pacing is worth noting in that as powerful as the songs are and as good as they sound, they do generally feel longer than they actually are.  Even with that in mind, the record is not a failure.  Rather, it is a work that is still worth hearing occasionally.  It will certainly still have listeners punching their fists to the sky when they do take it in.  Punching The Sky is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on Punching The Sky is available online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.armoredsaint.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/thearmoredsaint

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thearmoredsaint

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.

Two New ‘Peanuts’ Music Playlists Streaming Online

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Peanuts fans have two new ways to celebrate the franchise’s history.

Craft Recordings has curated two new playlists that celebrate the music of Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi. The playlists’ debut come less than a month after Craft Recordings debuted another playlist that features music from the Peanuts movies and TV specials.

The two new playlists are composed separately of “Easy Listening” and “Dance” songs that were featured in the noted movies and TV specials. Audiences will find that some of the songs featured in these two new lists are also featured in Craft Recordings’ initial Vince Guaraldi playlist, but are now more distinctly classified from one another in the noted new lists.

In related news, Craft Recordings recently premiered a new animated video for the beloved song, ‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz.’ The song is featured in the timeless Peanuts primetime TV special It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

The video opens with Linus’ classic letter to The Great Pumpkin, asking for lots of toys. From there, the curtain lifts to show Linus in the pumpkin patch in which he waited all that fateful night with Sally for The Great Pumpkin. As the video progresses, a series of pumpkins and presents wrapped in orange with green ribbons fill the screen against a constantly changing backdrop, all the while the song playing over the video.

Courtesy: Craft Recordings

‘The Great Pumpkin Waltz’ was last featured on the 2012 CD re-issue of A Charlie Brown Christmas‘ soundtrack as one of two bonus tracks. The other bonus track was one of the songs from the Peanuts primetime Thanksgiving TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Neither song is featured in Craft Recordings’ recently released vinyl re-issue of the soundtrack, which is at least the seventh of the soundtrack’s re-issues.

More information on this and other titles from Craft Recordings is available at:

Websitehttp://CraftRecordings.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/craftrecordingsofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/craftrecordings

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

‘Blood & Stone’ Proves Once Again Why Sevendust Is One Of Hard Rock, Metal’s Elite Acts

Courtesy: Rise Records

Veteran hard rock band Sevendust has, for more than 25 years, remained one of the most respected names in the hard rock and metal community.  That is due to the top notch music that the band has crafted in each of its 12 current albums.  That reputation is sure to continue growing with the forthcoming release of the band’s 13th album Blood & Stone Friday.  The 13-song record is one of the band’s best works to date.  That is proven right from the record’s outset in the form of ‘Dying To Live.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Against The World,’ which comes later in the album’s 49-minute run time, is another example of what makes the album stand so strongly.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Nothing Left To See Here Anymore’ is yet another interesting addition to Sevendust’s new album.  It will also be addressed later.  Between these three songs and the rest of the record’s entries, the album in whole continues to cement Sevendust’s place as one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community.

Sevendust’s latest album Blood & Stone is another unquestionable success from the band.  Its musical and lyrical content alike certifies that statement, beginning with the album’s opener, ‘Dying To Live.’  The song wastes no time launching into its full-on aural attack with its pummeling guitars, drums and bass.  The song’s energy never lets up once from beginning to the end of the three-minute-plus opus.  The intensity that runs throughout the song takes the best elements of so many of the band’s existing works and uses them for this unique.  Even as the song reaches its bridge and suddenly becomes subdued, there is still a certain heaviness in that moment that will keep listeners engaged.  By the song’s end, audiences know that they have experienced something powerful and memorable as one of Sevendust’s best songs in what is already a crowded field of notable works.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, of course.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s arrangement adds even more depth to the work.

The lyrical theme of ‘Dying To Live’ is important because of the message that it seems to hint at.  The message in question comes across as a commentary about paying attention to the bigger picture of the world rather than ourselves.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, which finds front man Lajon Witherspoon singing, “We’re cold/Immune to the abuse/Whatever price you pay/They take away/The only thing that matters now/Every little thing we want/Rips out a piece of us/With all that we give/Why am I dying to live/With all that we have to face/Keep dying to live.”  That note of being “immune to the abuse” and “whatever price you pay/They take away? Hints at the fact that we as a society have become so desensitized to everything.  The note of “whatever price you pay/They take away” is metaphorical language that seems to speak to we as a society losing just as much as we gain because we have become so desensitized.  The song’s second verse infers the noted central message even more as Witherspoon sings, “Why do we believe/This time around/We found our soul/Better make your peace with death/And take what’s left/I’ll see you on the other side/I know.”  This seems to infer that we need to get our heads on straight and focus on what’s really important because this is the only life that we have.  We need to get our priorities right.  This is all just this critic’s own interpretation, of course and should not be taken as the only interpretation.  Regardless, the song’s lyrics are heavy.  That goes without saying.  When they are coupled with the equally heavy, infectious musical arrangement featured in this song, the two sides make for one whole that is a strong start for the band’s new album and an equally strong exemplary of what makes the album such a powerful new offering from Sevendust.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Against The World’ is another notable addition to Blood & Stone.

‘Against The World’ stands out almost instantly as it opens with the eerie, brooding keyboard line that opens the song’s arrangement.  The ethereal sense that the keyboard line creates lends itself to comparisons to works from Nine Inch Nails.  When it is coupled with the blistering guitar riffs in the chorus sections, that pairing makes the arrangement in whole even more unique.  The juxtaposition of that element and the band’s more trademark melodic hard rock approach that makes up the rest of the arrangement, the song in whole becomes another work that is certain to engage and entertain listeners.  As with ‘Dying To Live’ and the rest of the album’s songs, the composition’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical accompaniment adds its own share of interest to the presentation here.

Witherspoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “Is there something you want to say/Get it out…Don’t hold on/If it burns you up…”  Much of the song’s lyrical content is difficult to decipher from here.  Though the mention of “it’s you and I/Against the world/I’m not gonna let you down…Still there’s something left to burn” would hint at this song delivering a message of someone being there for another despite certain factors coming into play.  Witherspoon even sings in the song that “You and I will find a way.”  In other words, (again going without a lyrics sheet to reference) this song would seem to be lyrically, a statement about focusing the anger and frustrations brought on by the world together.  If in fact that is the case, then the way in which the band approached that topic is unique here both lyrically and musically, and will certainly connect with listeners.  To that end, it proves itself yet another strong point in this record and another example of what makes the album so strong, too.  It is hardly the last of the album’s most notable songs, too.  ‘Nothing Left to See Here Anymore’ is the most unique addition to the album of all.

‘Nothing Left to See Here Anymore’ stands out in its musical arrangement as it takes the band’s more melodic side, but also presents a little bit of a bluesy influence, believe it or not.  While it boasts its own heaviness, it also presents a distinct mainstream sensibility that would make it a good fit for any active rock radio programmer’s play list.  It has that kind of sound and stylistic approach.  It’s heavy, but more in the noted corporate rock sound that is quite unlike most of anything that the band has ever produced.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s unique musical composition ads even more interest to its presentation. 

Witherspoon sings in the song’s lead verse, “Slapped my face again/So I can feel the one/Before this began…Time to tear down the walls/And start it again/You’re reaching out/I’m pulling back again/You’re reaching out/I’m pulling back again/There’s nothing left to see here anymore/I thought you’d never put me through this again/But the truth is/It’s always the same…So tear down the walls/And start over again.”  He continues in the song’s next verse, “How long/’Til this will end…”  Again, not all of the lyrics are able to be deciphered here without a lyrics sheet to reference.  However, what can be inferred from what is able to be understood, this song comes across as centering on the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship.  Whether it is just a personal, plutonic relationship with someone or a romantic relationship is left to interpretation.  That aside, the way in which the song approaches the topic manages to give it a unique presentation.  When this is considered along with the song’s even more unique musical arrangement, the whole makes the song in whole that much more of a notable addition to Sevendust’s new album.  When the song in whole is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole leaves no doubt as to its appeal.  All things considered, this record is another fully successful effort from one of the best bands in the hard rock and metal community.

Sevendust has, for more than 25 years, proven itself and then some as one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community thanks to its albums, its live shows and connection to its fans.  The band’s forthcoming 13th album Blood & Stone only serves to cement that reputation even more.  It takes the best elements of the band’s existing albums and builds on them to make yet another work that is solid from start to end.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, that whole makes Blood & Stone one more of this year’s definite top new hard rock and metal albums, and Sevendust still one of the elite acts in the hard rock and metal community.  More information on Sevendust’s new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.sevendust.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/sevendust

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Firstborne Debuts ‘Cut The Strings’ Lyric Video

Courtesy: Scorpion LTD.

Hard rock super group Firstborne debuted the video for its latest single this week.

The band debuted the lyric video for its new single ‘Cut The Strings‘ Monday. The song is the latest single from the band’s self-titled EP, which was released this spring. The band debuted the record’s lead single ‘Roll The Dice‘ and its lyric video in August.

The video places the song’s lyrics over an ever-changing backdrop that uses imagery, such as a chess board, a burning city, and a skeleton dressed in a tuxedo and connected to strings like a puppet. Meanwhile, the song plays over the video, whose visualizations are used to help illustrate the message in the song’s lyrical content.

Front man Girish Pradham addressed the song’s lyrical message in a prepared statement.

“Every time there’s a force that challenges the most fundamental right of a human being – Freedom – music has always served as the voice of the common person,” he said.  “The special existence of humans in the world has music right in the heart of it.”

The musical arrangement that accompanies the song’s straight forward commentary in its lyrical content will appeal to a wide range of listeners. Its guitar arrangement harkens back to the rock sounds of the late 80s and early 90s. The time keeping from Chris Adler (ex-Lamb of God) is xpertly handled while bassist James LoMenzo adds his own touch to the song.

More information on FirstBorne’s new lyric video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.thefirstborne.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/firstborneofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/thefirstborne

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

Ministry Launches New Effort To Get People To The Polls

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records/

Ministry is doing its part to get people to the polls.

The band launched a new single called ‘Get Out And Vote 2020‘ Tuesday, along with a companion video. The video features a variety of images connected to this year’s general election, such as speeches made by Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Mike Pence, as well as footage from the first presidential debate.

The new, thrash style song plays over the noted footage as front man Al Jourgensen reminds listeners to get to the polls in this year’s election in order to save the soul of the nation.

In related news, Ministry recently launched a new effort to get people registered to vote. The campaign encouraged any fans who were not registered to do so and earn a chance to win free Ministry memorabilia. Fans who were already registered also had the chance to win the noted memorabilia by taking part in the efforts to save the nation’s live music venues.

In even more related news, Jourgensen has curated a playlist of songs titled “The Soundtrack To Your Election” on Spotify that is composed of politically charged songs from a variety of acts.  The playlist includes and is not limited to Fear Factory’s ‘Linchpin,’ John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band’s ‘Power To The People’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘The One on the Right Is on the Left.’

More information on Ministry’s new campaigns is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.ministryband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WeAreMinistry

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WeAreMinistry

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

Kurt Baker Debuts New Single, ‘Outta Sight,’ Companion Video

Courtesy: Wicked Cool records

Kurt Baker debuted another single from his new album last week.

Baker debuted his new single ‘Outta Sight‘ and its companion video Thursday. The song is the third single from Baker’s forthcoming album After Party, which is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records. Its debut follows that of the album’s other singles, ‘Over You‘ and ‘I Like Her A Lot.’

The video features footage of Baker sightseeing around what looks like the American Southwest in a variety of locations as the song plays over the pixelated footage.

The musical arrangement featured in lends itself to comparisons to works from Elvis Costello, and according to Baker himself, to another far lesser known act.

“The main influence on this track is the band Single Bullet Theory,” he said. “They had one record in the early ’80s and are mostly unheard of, but Wyatt (Funderbunk, who produced and mixed After Party) and I love them. Wyatt actually found two vintage Single Bullet Theory T-shirts on eBay and picked them up for us. When they came in the mail we sat down and wrote this song off of an idea I had for the chorus. We wanted to build up each chorus so that by the very end it was really big. I think it’s the perfect closer to the record.”

More information on Kurt Baker’s new single and album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.kurtbaker.me

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/KurtBakerMusic

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Kurtmiltonbaker

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://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.

Anthrax Announces Release Of Two New Whiskey Lines

Anthrax is releasing two new lines of signature whiskey.

The band has launched two new drinks, “Evil Twin I” and “Evil Twin II.” The limited edition drinks are being made available in special numbered bottles. Only 238 bottles of “Evil Twin I” are expected to be poured while exact number of bottles of “Evil Twin II” is under consideration. “Evil Twin I” will be 120.1 proof in its alcohol content.

Bottles of “Evil Twin I” that are ordered by Friday can be expected to arrive by Halloween. Orders are open through Mash & Grape.

Both of Anthrax’s new drinks were produced by Hillrock Estate Distillery. The distillery is located in the Hudson Valley Highlands in New York state.

Courtesy: Anthrax

According to information made available about the drinks, “Evil Twin I” contains espresso, caramel, vanilla and spice. “Evil Twin II” features maple, cinnamon, clove, and black pepper.

Hillrock Estate Distillery Co-owners Cathy Franklin and Jeffrey Baker talked about working with Anthrax on the new drinks during a recent interview.

“We’re so happy to be working again with Anthrax,” said Franklin and Baker.  “We had a lot of fun with the whole band on ‘The Healer’ bourbon earlier this year, and were impressed by their appreciation for delicious spirits during those tastings.  With ‘Evil I and II,’ it was great that Scott was able to come up to Hillrock and be really involved in finding the perfect blends for ‘Evil I’ and ‘Evil II.’  We’re sure Anthrax fans will enjoy both.”

Anthrax worked with Hillrock Estate Distillery in June when it released another signature drink, its signature bourbon, “The Healer.”

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian had the following to say of the noted partnership and the two sides’ current partnership.

“We decided to release another whiskey because it seemed like people were very happy with ‘The Healer,” he said.  “Where ‘The Healer’ bourbon was extremely approachable and smooth, ‘the ‘Evil Twins’ are spicier, sweeter, richer, stronger, and bolder.  So, when we say ‘Evil Twin,’ we mean it in a great way.”

Along with “The Healer,” Anthrax has also released two other adult beverages, “Indians” in 2014 and “The Devil You Know” in 2015.

More information on Anthrax’s new whiskey lines is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://anthrax.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/anthrax

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/anthrax

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.