Bonz Announces New Slate Of Tour Date

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Pavement Entertainment artist and Stuck Mojo front man Bonz has announced a new slate of live dates.

Bonz has announed that he will head back out on the road beginning July 17th in Hickory, North Carolina. The twenty-two-date tour is in support of Bonz’s Pavement Entertainment debut record Broken Silence. Bonz will be joined by Divided We Stand and A.M.M. on select dates along with label mate A.D.D. The tour currently runs through October 10th in Jacksonville, Fla. The current tour schedule is listed below.

BONZ TOUR DATES

7/17 Hickory, Nc- The Wizard Saloon

7/18 Winston Salem, Nc- Ziggy’s

7/30 Muskegon, Mi- Deano’s w/ ADD

7/31 Lansing, Mi- The Loft w/ ADD

8/01 Griffith, In- Sopranos

8/02 South Bend, In- Cheers w/ ADD

8/05 Akron, Oh- Empire

8/06 Mansfield, Oh- Planet Rock

8/07 Dayton, Oh- Oddbodies w/ ADD

8/08 Indianapolis, In- Emerson Theatre w/ ADD

8/09 Cape Giradeau, Mo- Pitter’s

8/10 Jackson, Tn- The Empourium

8/11 Clarksville, Tn- The Warehouse

8/12 Nashville, Tn- Daisy Dukes w/ Divided We Stand

8/13 Knoxville, Tn- The Long Branch w/ Divided We Stand

8/14 Chattanooga, Tn- Ziggy’s Underground w/ Divided We Stand

8/15 Beckley, Wv- Muncheez w/ Divided We Stand

9/11 Slidell, La- The Corner Pub

9/12 Dallas, Tx- Torch

9/13 Lubbock, Tx- Depot Obar Live

10/9 Sanford, Fl- West End Trading Co. w/ A.M.M.

10/10 Jacksonville, Fl- Jack Rabbits w/ A.M.M.

Audiences can download Broken Silence now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/broken-silence/id953289268 and ordered direct from Best Buy at http://www.bestbuy.com/site/broken-silence-cd/26480148.p?id=3335826&skuId=26480148. Fans can keep up with the latest news and more from Bonz online at:

Website: http://bonzband.com

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

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.

Nation Beat Announces Carnival Caravan Release Date, Tour Schedule

Courtesy:  Nation Beat Music

Courtesy: Nation Beat Music

Brooklyn, NY-based quintet Nation Beat announced this week that it will release its latest recording late this month.

Carnival Caravan will be released Friday, July 31st under the new global release date system. The five-track EP will feature performances by not only Nation Beat but also from the Mardi Gras Indian/funk group Cha Wa. throughout. It is most evident in the Dixieland style sound of the record’s closer ‘Liza Jane.’ For those wanting something a little different there is the Latin-tinged sound of ‘Cantar Esse Coco (ft. Silverio Pessoa)’ and the disc’s opener ‘Casa Diamante /Sew Sew Sew,’ which also features the music of Cha Wa. Carnival Caravan’s complete track listing is noted below.

Carnival Caravan Track Listing

1. Casa Diamante / Sew Sew Sew (feat. Cha Wa)

2. Vou Cantar Esse Coco (feat. Silverio Pessoa)

3. Golden Crown (feat. Cha Wa)

4. Canto da Ema / All On a Mardi Gras Day (feat. Cha Wa)

5. Liza Jane (feat. Cha Wa)

Courtesy:  Nation Beat Music

Courtesy: Nation Beat Music

Nation Beat is currently touring in support of Carnival Caravan ahead of its release later this month. The group will be at Carl Schurz Park in New York City next Wednesday, July 8th. Its current schedule takes it through September 17th in Hartford, CT.  The group’s current tour schedule is listed below.

DATE                                               CITY                                          VENUE

July 8                                           New York, NY                             Carl Schurz Park

July 11                                          London, Canada                              Sun Fest

July 12                                          London, Canada                              Sun Fest

July 14                                          Toronto, Canada                          Pan Am Games

July 30                                          Huntington, NY             Huntington Summer Arts Festival

July 31                                          Brooklyn, NY                                    Littlefield

August 1                                       Queens, NY                                  Queens Library

August 2                                       New York, NY                    Central Park Summer Stage

August 8                                       Bethlehem, PA                                  Musikfest

Sept. 17                                        Hartford, CT                                  Real Art Ways

Audiences can keep up with the latest updates on Carnival Caravan and Nation Beat’s tour schedule online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.nationbeat.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nation-Beat/10175932771

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nationbeat

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.

TMG Scores Big With The Debut Release Of The Saint: The Complete Series

Courtesy:  Timeless Media Group/itv

Courtesy: Timeless Media Group/itv

Late this past May, Timeless Media Group, which is now officially part of the Shout! Factory corporate family, released the classic television series The Saint on DVD. The series’ release is significant because it marked the first time ever that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete set. It is safe to say of the recently released complete series set that with its release TMG has yet again lived up to its name and ever-growing reputation. Whether seeing the series and its new box set for the first time or seeing the series for the first time again, audiences will agree in purchasing it that it is a successful first time-release and potentially one of this year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. The center point of the set’s success and enjoyment is the series’ writing. This includes both the stories penned for each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes and the deeper elements of the stories (E.g. the minimal amount of violence and overt sexual content). The packaging of this first-time release is also of note in regards to its success and enjoyment. On the surface the packaging seems bulky. But considering the fact that TMG was able to fit all one hundred-eighteen of the series’ episodes on thirty-three discs actually minimizes the set’s packaging to a point. That will be discussed later. Last but not least worth noting of the series in its recent re-issue is its overall look and sound (its production values). Both the series’ black-and-white episodes and its colorized episodes look and sound just as good as in their original broadcasts and their previous DVD releases. They sound just as good, too. Such positive production values make every single episode fully worth the watch. Being so worth the watch, audiences will in turn see for themselves the positives of the episodes’ writing and that of the set’s packaging. In appreciating all noted elements, viewers that pick up the set will agree that it is in fact a candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. This is especially telling considering the fact that its release this past May marked the first time that the series had ever been released in its entirety in one complete box. The main way in which it proves itself such an enjoyable set is the writing behind each of the series’ one hundred eighteen episodes. The writing behind The Saint is so impressive in that it is completely unlike that of its fellow UK-based action/drama Danger Man or even the likes of I Spy, which would come to American audiences only three years after the debut of The Saint. One of the best examples of what makes this series’ writing so entertaining comes in the form of the Season Two episode “The Benevolent Burglary.” Originally airing on December 26th, 1963, this episode sees Simon Templar having to defend his reputation and at the same time, stop the burglary of a museum. Simon makes a bet with an old acquaintance that the museum would be burglarized within forty-eight hours but that it wouldn’t be himself that burglarizes the museum. He has the police on his heels every step of the way because they don’t believe he has changed. Those that have any knowledge of film history will especially appreciate the writing in this episode because it actually throws back to Cary Grant’s 1955 hit big screen thriller To Catch A Thief. It’s a fitting inclusion to the series considering that star Roger Moore would go on to star in equally similar adventures in the role of the famed spy James Bond after this series’ end. Later in the series’ run the writers set Simon in some more serious scenarios such as having to handle human traffickers in Season Six’s “The People Importers.” For those wanting something more familiar, there is a classic style story in Season Five’s “The Escape Route.” It is in that episode that Simon gets himself arrested so as to infiltrate a group of inmates and find out who is heading up a series of recent escapes from Princetown Prison. Very similar plots have been developed for other TV series both before and after. It has even been used as a plot element in a number of action and drama flicks on the big screen. It’s just one more example of why the writing behind The Saint is so important to its enjoyment and success here in its full series set. Simply put, the writing behind The Saint is so pivotal to its enjoyment and success because it didn’t stick to one style of story. It presented both fun, action packed stories as well as more serious story lines, too. That the writers would present such a variety of stories from the series premiere to its finale will keep audiences watching nonstop.

Thanks to the work of the writers behind The Saint, audiences are presented in the series’ first-ever full series set nonstop action and adventure from one episode to the next. The series’ writers show from one episode to the next that they never stick to just one style of story. There are timeless, classic storylines and more serious ones, too. The combination of so many different story styles will keep audiences watching from the series’ premiere to its finale. As important as the writing proves to be to the set’s enjoyment and success, it is just one element of the set that makes it so enjoyable. Examining the set on another level, its packaging should be noted, too. On the surface, the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series looks rather bulky. However one must consider that the series ran for a total of six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. Considering this, TMG has taken it fully into account and given audiences the best possible packaging. Rather than just tossing in a bunch of standalone season sets, TMG has made the set as ergonomic as possible, combining together the series’ first and second seasons into one box, its third and fourth into another, and then its fifth and sixth season into their own standalone sets. Here is where things get just a little dicey. It is understandable that TMG’s people wanted to minimize the amount of space taken up within each set. But because of the set’s packaging, no fewer than seven spindles are left empty over three of the set’s boxes. One of those empty spindles is in the Season 3/4 box. Two more are in Season 5’s standalone set and four more are in Season Six’s box. Considering this, it would have seemed more logical to either eliminate those empty spindles or utilize them by combining part of Season Five into the Season 3/4 set and part of Season Six into the Season Five set. That would have ultimately reduced the size of Season Six’s box and cut down at least a little bit more. But as is, there is empty, unused space in three of the series’ four boxes. That aside, TMG’s people are still to be commended for having made the efforts that they did to maximize the use of the set’s space so as to minimize its space taken up on consumers’ DVD racks.

TMG and its employees are to be commended by and large for the packaging of The Saint: The Complete Series. Even though it looks bulky on the surface, it is actually a relatively wise manner of packaging. It actually saves a certain amount of space on consumers’ DVD racks. On another note, the work of the series’ writers makes this collection enjoyable in its own right. The writers behind this series crafted over its six seasons one hundred eighteen episodes that ran the gamut from classic action fare to more serious episodes throughout. As enjoyable as every episode proves to be, they would not be worth mentioning if not for the work of those charged with restoring the series’ footage for its presentation here. Thanks to the efforts of those individuals every episode looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original broadcast. Each episode maintains its original look complete with that grainy feel. Yet it is obvious that the footage has been meticulously handled so that the grainy feel in question didn’t become overpowering at the same time. On a related note, the sound is just as impressive, too. The audio in each episode has been tweaked just enough to the point that any volume adjustments made from episode to episode and from scene to scene are minimal at best. Yet again, those charged with restoring the footage even in this arena are to be commended for their efforts. The end result of their efforts is one hundred eighteen episodes that look and sound just as wonderful as they did in their original broadcast. because they look and sound so good, audiences will in turn be able to appreciate the work of the series’ writers throughout. Both of these elements set alongside the series’ smart packaging prove together once and for all clearly why The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group and why it is also a clear candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups.

The Saint: The Complete Series is yet another hit from Timeless Media Group. The recently released box set presents solid, entertaining writing from the series’ premiere to its finale. The packaging minimizes the amount of space used up on consumers’ DVD racks to the best of its ability. Those charged with handling its packaging are to be commended for their efforts here especially considering the fact that the series ran for six seasons and one hundred eighteen episodes. The work of those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation here are to be just as highly commended. It is thanks to their efforts that every one of those one hundred eighteen episodes looks and sounds just as good as they did in their original broadcasts, if not better. All things considered, The Saint: The Complete Series proves in the end to be yet another hit for Timeless Media Group and one more candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new box sets for grown-ups. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/tv-action-adventure/the-saint-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Timeless Media Group is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com/tentpoles/timeless-media-group

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Timeless-Media-Group/358391474233364

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.

Everything Old Is Truly New Again On Set It Off’s New EP

Courtesy:  Equal Vision Records

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

Set It Off has only been around for about seven years.  That is not very long in terms of a band’s life span.  Yet in that short time, the band has been quite busy to say the least, releasing three EPs and two full-length albums since its formation back in 2008.  Now only a year after the release of its sophomore album Duality, Set It Off is back again with its fourth EP and sixth overall release.  The EP, Duality: Stories Unplugged is a selection of songs lifted from the band’s second album (released just last year) and stripped down.  Bands recording stripped down, acoustic takes on their own songs (and those of other acts) is nothing new in the music industry.  Considering this it is sometimes difficult to find an acoustic album that really stands out among the crowd in question.  It is safe to say that Duality: Stories Unplugged definitely stands out in this year’s crop of acoustic albums and EPs.  That is because the six tracks that make up the body of the disc actually achieve the goal explained by front man Cody Carson in a recent interview regarding the EP.  It actually presents five tracks that hold their own identity separate from the band’s original compositions.  The sixth track is a never-before-released acoustic composition that boasts an identity all its own.  Because of that it proves to be one of the best examples of what makes Duality: Stories Unplugged stand out both from its “sister” album and from other acoustic albums and EPs released so far this year and in turn proves to be one of the best new EPs of the year.

Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of this year’s best new EPs, hands down.  It is also one of the best new works that Set It Off has released so far into its life.  The six-track disc is such an impressive release in that each of the re-worked tunes featured on this record establishes its own identity apart from the original songs from which they were lifted.  That is most clear in the stripped down, full-on acoustic take of ‘Bleak December.’  In comparison to the original song included in the band’s 2014 album Duality, this song is the polar opposite of that piece.  The guitar line in the song’s original take presents an almost pop punk-oriented sound.  For lack of better wording, that sound gives the original take an almost sarcastic feel.  That is especially the case when that line is set against Carson’s own vocal delivery.  The new, acoustic take, on the other hand, presents a much darker, moodier vibe.  The gentle tones of the piano set against Cody’s own reserved vocal style and drummer Maxx Danziger’s use of a cajon adds even more of a different vibe to the song.  All things considered here, ‘Bleak December’ really becomes a whole new song apart from its original take.  Truth be told it actually sounds better and more fitting with the song’s lyrics in which Carson sings, “Gimme, gimme, gimme the truth now/I promise I can handle it, if you can/Cause you’ve been running from yourself for way too long/So gimme any reason not to cut you out/You’re far too gone/Watch you pretend you know it all/Shift any blame aside/Vending the victim when it sells/How do you even sleep at night as I drive and drive/In that bleak December/You’re just too cold/But I need the answer/Before you’d fold/You would hold your cards inside your chest/I think I drove too far/For that bleak December/And how full of s*** you are.”  The combination of the noted elements makes this take of ‘Bleak December’ a whole new work and makes it just one example of why Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of Set It Off’s best works to date as well as one of this year’s best new EPs.  Audiences can hear the new take on the song for themselves online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCdqjeFT3P8.

Set It Off’s re-working of ‘Bleak December’ anchors the band’s new EP.  Thanks to the thought and work put into the song, it stands out as a song almost entirely separate from the song’s original take.  It is just one piece that makes the record stand out.  The band’s re-working of ‘Why Worry’ stands out in its own right, too. While it maintains the same sound as the original take, this full-on acoustic take driven largely by guitarist Dan Clermont’s piano work and drummer Maxx Danziger’s time keeping. Carson’s own delivery style even boasts its own power as he sings, “Have you noticed that you’re breathing/Look around and count your blessings/So when you’re sick of all this stressin’and guessin’ I’m suggestin’ you turn this up and let them hear you sing it/Chin up/Quit acting like you’re half dead/Tears can only half fill how you’re feelin’/Don’t worry be happy baby/Stand up life is too damn short/That clock is ticking/Man up/If ya feel me everybody sing it/.” When the rest of the band joins in on the song’s chorus, there’s still a certain power there, even with the band members’ vocals being pulled back in comparison to what is there in the song’s original take. The end result of the song’s stylistic re-work is a song that is in this case just as good as the original. The musical re-working coupled with the song’s lyrical content makes the song just as powerful and impressive. Both the musical and lyrical content taken into consideration, they make this take of ‘Why Worry’ even more reason that Duality: Stories Unplugged stands out as one of Set It Off’s best recordings to date and one of this year’s best new EPs.

The newly re-worked versions of ‘Bleak December’ and ‘Why Worry’ are two clear examples of why Duality: Stories Unplugged is one of Set It Off’s best recordings and one of this year’s best new EPs. The re-working of ‘Tomorrow’ is one more example of what makes this record such a standout collection of songs. Much like the re-working of ‘Bleak December,’ this composition gives the song an identity almost entirely separate from that of the band’s original composition. Both takes offer a wonderfully positive vibe in their own right both musically and lyrically. But the stylistic approach of the acoustic take makes the song even harder-hitting than the full version presented in Duality. Clermont shines again here on piano. The combination of his talents set against the song’s string arrangements and Danziger’s timekeeping on the cajon give this take of the song an even more emotional punch than the one presented in the song’s original take. That is saying something, too considering that the song’s original take offered its own emotional punch. This take makes the song a full-on tearjerker that will still put a smile on audiences faces because of that punch coupled with its lyrical content. The lyrical content in question goes almost hand-in-hand with that of ‘Why Worry.’ That is because it says to listeners that no matter how bad things might seem in the moment, things will be better tomorrow, thus the song’s title. That is pointed out as Carson sings, “They’re gonna try to clip your wings/Lock you up and make you sing/But they’ll never cage your dreams/So fly away/Cause we’ve got tomorrow/We’re the pages in the wind/We’ve got tomorrow/We’re the tale that lies within/There’s always another day/Another night/A bittersweet blessing in disguise.” He goes on to sing in the song’s closing verse, “Sometimes you’re the spider/Sometimes you’re the fly/Flying towards the sky/Our starting line.” It’s a message of positivity and optimism. That message of hope set alongside the song’s new take makes it one of the record’s best moments. Together with the likes of ‘Bleak December’ and ‘Why Worry’ it makes that much stronger the argument in favor of this record. That is not to discount the other trio of songs included on this record, either. All three of those songs each offer their own share of enjoyment, too. All six songs together make Duality: Stories Unplugged a record that is again, one of Set It Off’s best to date and one that is one of this year’s best new EPs overall.

Duality: Stories Unplugged only runs six songs deep. But that does not take away in the least from the record at all. That is because the re-worked arrangements of the band’s previously released songs give each of the songs in question their own identities separate from the originals. Some of the songs are as good as the originals. Some are better than the originals. Regardless of whether they are as good as or better than the originals, the whole thing together proves to be some of the best material that Set It Off has crafted so far and in comparison to the other EPs out there, one of this year’s best new EPs. Duality: Stories Unplugged is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded online via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/duality-stories-unplugged-ep/id988237301?mt=1&app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4 and ordered via Amazon at http://radial.custom.geni.us/StoriesUnpluggedAmazon. More information on Duality: Stories Unplugged is available online along with Set It Off’s latest tour schedule and news at:

Website: http://www.setitoffband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/setitoff

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.

Former World Cup Champs Foudy, Markgraf Discuss U.S.-Germany Matchup

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPNFC

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPNFC

The U.S. women’s soccer team faces its biggest challenge yet tonight when it takes on Germany in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Tournament. Ahead of tonight’s big match, espnW Julie Foudy and analyst Kate Markgraf—both members of the 1999 U.S. World Cup winning team—sat down with members of the media to discuss tonight’s matchup. Foudy and Markgraf discussed their thoughts on the implications of tonight’s match, game planning, and even the successes of both the Germans and Americans over the years in the tournament among many other topics. Below is the full transcript of the pair’s discussion with the media. Audiences can also listen to the duo’s discussion with the press online now at http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=13170457.

Q: What are your general impressions of the tournament thus far, and U.S. team’s success through the tournament to date.

KATE MARKGRAF:  I think so far, the tournament has accomplished its objectives, which was to expand the field.  We saw eight new teams come in, and although the mainstays are what we saw basically in the quarterfinals — more of the established countries — it did open up the game globally, and the only way that could have happened in increasing exposure was to open up the field.  So that was one objective.

The second objective was to hopefully see some great soccer, and we have seen that.  Specifically in the Germany‑France game, [we saw] the game has evolved quite a bit.  And a side like France who was relatively unknown two World Cups ago is now a team to watch for the next one.

So the game is evolving, and those are two things that have happened.

JULIE FOUDY:  I think if you look at the U.S. team, [they] haven’t played yet to their potential, but [are] getting it done essentially, with winning that group — which was a tough group — and then getting that nice draw after that.

I’m excited to see these last few games, and unfortunately I’m sad to see France go out so soon because I thought they were a beautiful team to watch, and the way that matched up on the side of the bracket.  But I think the draw and the U.S. winning the group obviously worked in [the U.S.’s] favor with the knockout stages and the easier path.  So this will be a great test for them against Germany.

  1. If you were drawing up a game plan for tomorrow’s game, and Julie I know you think the Americans win this one, how would you design a game plan to beat Germany right now? 

FOUDY:  If I was drawing up a game plan against Germany, I actually would go in that 4-3-3, which I’ve been talking about, because I like the idea of the U.S. pressing higher.  I like the idea of the U.S. having two attacking central midfielders in Carli Lloyd and Lauren Holiday, which I think both of them playing higher is better suited.  I just think it suits your personalities better, and it also brings Abby on to the field.

I don’t think Abby can play in a two-front.  I think if you play a three front you have her in the game as your target high forward.  You keep her eye, and you put speed around her.  I don’t think that is going to happen, but if they do go in a 4-4-2, which is what I’m suspecting, I’m suspecting as well that they’ll leave Abby on the bench again and go with two faster forwards and then bring Abby off the bench, which I think is the right move.

I think you need pace up front because one of the weaknesses of Germany is their back line isn’t as fast.  Then go with some pace on that outside midfield spot as well.  You have [Megan] Rapinoe coming back in, and I thought Kelley O’Hara did really well on that right‑sided position the other night.  Apparently she’s been training really well, which is why she got the look.  So I would go aggressively and step offensively, step defensively.  But you’ve got to go and grind them and put some pressure on the ball.

  1. You kind of touched on this a little bit, Julie, but obviously with Holiday out last game, Carli was able to get into the attack more with Morgan [Bryan] sitting.  How do you think that ‑‑ obviously, I’m assuming Holiday’s going to be back in the starting lineup ‑‑ how is Carli going to be able to keep that role with this lineup kind of going back to what it was?

MARKGRAF:  I would say the Holiday and Rapinoe subtraction was actually addition by subtraction.  I thought the team as a whole improved when those two players went out.  Not so much because the two players that went in for them, but because everyone else stepped up, and it forced [coach] Jill [Ellis] to kind of tinker with the lineup, something that she seems to have been hesitant to do in terms of how that midfield pair position themselves.

She used to have them side-by-side in “two sixes,” is what they call it.  And from what we’re reading is now Carli’s been given the responsibility of more the attacking role, and she’s obviously excited about it judging from her quotes, as well as her inspired play.  So against Germany, which will play three in the middle, they play 4‑2‑3‑1, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a 4‑5‑1, and you’ll see it triangle.  They need to kind of stagger.  If they sit square side-by-side, it’s really easy to penetrate through that line with just the movement that they have, because they run the triangle offense.

They’re able to get at you through multiple passing channels.  So if they’re staggered a bit more…their wide midfielders, they have a chance of stopping Germany in the midfield.  But also it makes Carli sit higher.  So, that’s what I envision is going to happen against Germany, if she decides to go with the 4‑4‑2, which Jill Ellis seems to prefer.

  1. Julie, kind of picking up a conversation we had from last summer with the Men’s World Cup.  I’m just curious if you’re seeing a continual gaining of traction?  It just feels like it in the States.  But I don’t know because I’m kind of in a soccer bubble.  I’m wondering if you get the sense that this Women’s World Cup is building also is building on it which the domestic league really needs?

FOUDY:  Are you talking about how much traction it’s gaining with mainstream people in the public in this country?

  1. Yeah, like we were talking last summer how crazy it got and there was a whole different feel for soccer in America, and now with the women’s league in that crucial third year or however you want to look at it. 

FOUDY:  Right, right.  It’s hard.  I was just having this conversation with Kate, I think, the other day.  It’s hard because, again, we’re kind of in this bubble as well, to gauge how it’s being received.  I mean the numbers, in terms of people watching the games obviously have been huge, which has been great to see.  Especially when you’re not just talking FOX, you’re talking FS1 as well.  Their numbers have been great.

So I think that’s a positive sign.  If you’re pulling in 5 million on FS1 or just about, which is what I think they got, I think that’s a great sign.  And there is constantly conversation now, not just about, oh, this is where they like to shop or these are the things they like to do.  It’s tactics.  It’s what should we be playing.  How come we’re not playing better?  It’s all these questions that you get from people just walking around town of what’s going on or that was better and constant commentary on how they’re playing, which I think is healthy.

So instead of treating it as an anomaly, and wow, what is this?  It’s more, okay, we’re in this and we’re paying attention, so I think that’s all positive.  Hopefully, it will have a positive impact on this critical third year with the league.  The great news is this World Cup creates more U.S. personalities as well, outside of the Abbys, and the Alexes and the Hopes that everyone knows, obviously Meghan Klingenberg, and you’re seeing Kelley O’Hara in there, and Tobin Heath and all the others, Amy Rodriguez are getting some time.  It’s great to see.

  1. Kate, kind of picking up off what you were talking about going back to tactics, it seemed like Kelley O’Hara really opened up the right side, the flank, which the teams seem to need.  Can you talk just a little bit about that?  What she’s meant to that and going forward how important that might be?

MARKGRAF:  Yeah, I think that’s a great question.  I think one thing that is different about O’Hara, and how she differentiates herself compared to who she’s playing against for playing time in that role, is she’s not a converted forward like Christen Press, whose first instinct when she loses the ball is not to turn around and chase.  That’s something that if you’re not used to having to do that, it kind of takes a while to learn.

Tobin Heath is very crafty, but she has a tendency to prefer the left side more than the right in terms of getting end lined.  She seems to get end lined a lot more eagerly when she’s on the left than she is on the right.  Kelley O’Hara is the next person we saw in there, and that is someone that, if you tell her what to do, she has the skillset to get to do it as well as if she were to lose the ball.  That’s what I love best, is she would turn and press.  I think that combination of having Carli Lloyd higher and then O’Hara’s intensity was contagious.  And all of a sudden, her ability to lockdown China on that side allowed Ali Krieger to come up.  All of a sudden there are more numbers to advance on that position.

When Krieger got the ball, her first look wasn’t to lump it into the box, which is what we saw in the first couple games, a little more direct, and it was closer so she could hit passes more accurately and she was more inspired to do so because there was such a good shape in front of her.  I think against Germany, you’ve got to terrorize them on the flanks.  They are not fast, and that is a strength of the United States, so you have to exploit it.  And you can’t to exploit them down those wings, especially because they like to push their wing backs, Kemme and Maier, up so high that that’s how you punish them.

That’s how France punished them.  It ended up holding those guys back.  And if those forwards counter attack so swiftly that the United States can do that as well, as long as they start fast players that want to get end line, and are disciplined to get end lined within the game plan.

  1. Kate and Julie, this question is about the other semifinal, Japan and England.  Do you think it will even be close?  What do you foresee there?

FOUDY:  I do actually think it will be close.  That is one of the things that Japan has dominated teams and passed them to death almost.  They don’t have a finisher who’s been consistently dangerous in front of goal.  So these small margins of games they’ve been winning by keeps it close.  I think if England can keep it close, then you never know, right?  Especially with this English spirit and the way Lucy Bronze is finishing some of these goals in these knockout stages.  I thought Jodie Taylor, putting her in the starting position and some of the tactical changes England has made have been very good.  I thought Mark Sampson has been pretty bold with a lot of his moves.

So I think it could be close.  If it’s close, then England has a chance.  But I suspect Japan is probably going to win it.

MARKGRAF:  Yeah, I think England has probably been ‑‑ the England squad has been utilized fully in terms of everyone seems ready to step in.  With Mark Sampson outcoaching a lot of the other opponents with his tactics as well as his personnel decisions have been very bold and very drastic compared to what we’ve seen from other teams.

So I think England definitely has a chance if they physically push Japan around a little bit.  And Japan, they kind of just lull you to sleep.  I compare them to a boa constrictor, they slowly suck the game out of you because you never have the ball.  They defend by their attack, and they hold on to the ball so long that that’s their defense.  All of a sudden, when a team wins the ball, they’re in their own half and they have to build out of that, and they have all these numbers around them.  So they’re kind of strangling other teams to death slowly.  But I think England has a chance if they can quickly counter.

I think in that quarterfinal game, England didn’t take the game to Canada at all.  They capitalized on two Canadian mistakes.  So that is something they’re going to have to be a bit more creative with and try to create some chances on their own.

  1. Kate and Julie, what did the win over Germany in 1999 mean within the U.S.’s run to the title?  And what did Germany’s win in 2003 mean for their rise to becoming a women’s soccer power?

FOUDY:  I actually think that was probably one of our hardest games [in 1999].  I think that was our hardest game, actually, because we had so many things to overcome in that game.  You had the Brandi own goal.  You have them equalizing or going up, I think, at halftime.

Yeah, it was one of those games I remember it was just hot and humid.  I remember feeling like I had a hole in my heart or a hole in my lung — one of the two — that game and struggling.  But think once we got through that quarterfinal, we knew that was one of the biggest tests.  That’s always such a hard hurdle to get over.  Once we got through that quarterfinal, you were only one game away from the final, of course.  It was just this sigh of relief of, okay, because we knew just how good the Germans were.  So I’d say that was one of the hardest games of ’99.

I’ll let Kate speak to 2003 because I’m still scarred by it.

MARKGRAF:  That and she wants to avoid the Germany part.  In 2003 I think the game evolved in 2003 specifically because of Germany because it was the first time a women’s side had effectively utilized four lines.  So they were already starting to toy with this 4-2-3-1, and I remember we lined up in a 4-3-3 or 4-4-2, and because they had an additional line that that person was sitting in they basically always had someone sitting in between two lines.  So they always had an easy passing option, and we had no idea how to defend that.

So even though we were only down 1‑0 at the half, they were just outplaying us.  I remember I was starting at a left outside back, and I always had two to three people that were passing options every time my player got the ball or someone came up.  I literally as a defender, I was always on an island because they just kind of surrounded me.  And that’s kind of what you see now.

That was borrowed from the men’s game, right, and it finally started to transition to the women’s game where Germany showed everyone how to do it, and that’s what you see a lot of sides now.  We just play a 4-3-3, we never thought about making it a 4-5-1, and on defense having those two forwards drop back.  That’s what Germany did in terms of style, and for them, it just helped bolster the federation, and they got money from it and they put it right back into their league.

Germany’s probably arguably maybe one of the best leagues in the world.  Maybe better than the United States in the sense that it’s more unified, so that all the teams are connected with their federations.  So basically all the players are kind of playing the same positions or had the same role responsibilities within the positions.  They’re playing the same tactics and same formation, so when they go into the National Team, if they get called up, there isn’t this huge learning curve because they have to learn a new formation or a new style of play or have the different responsibilities than they had on their club team.

So always the United States will have bigger hurdles and unifying their game compared to other federations, but specifically against Germany.  So that was a huge win for them.

I had a couple of teammates from the first league iteration, and it was great to see them win because they played such great soccer.

  1. Regarding one of our local players in the pro team, Christen Press.  She really has a more permanent role from the beginning of the tournament and we’ve seen less of her.  I wanted to get your thoughts on how her tournament has gone, and has she lived up to the expectations that you guys had for her?

FOUDY:  Well, I think you saw what you can get from Christen Press in that first game when she scores that important goal, and a nice one.  And that’s the thing with Press, is you want her in front of goal because every time you talk to a player or a staff member on the U.S. Team they’ll say she is the purest finisher.  She can strike a ball like we’ve never seen.  She can strike it with both feet and just how good she is in front of goal.

I think the challenge for Press going forward is that she’s got to be an impact player even when she’s not in front of goal.  Meaning, is she making a difference offensively getting in line?  Is she making a difference defensively by getting stuck in on tackles and working both sides of the ball?  And I think when she can bring that consistency, because we know what she can do in terms of goal scoring when she gets close.  But if she can bring that consistency of really getting in line and making an impact in games and turning players and taking on and doing that on both sides, then I think she’s going to get more minutes.

  1. Do you think Julie Johnston has been the breakout player or the MVP?  What stands out as being so superlative? 

MARKGRAF:  I think what has to be said when we talk about Julie Johnston is that she’s extremely lucky to play next to Becky Sauerbrunn, and that’s not to take away anything that she’s doing because she’s playing great, but Becky Sauerbrunn holds down the fort.  When you know you have no responsibility other than to show up and play and do what you want to do, then you are the freest person on there.  Becky is organizing everybody.  Becky is making sure that Klingenberg comes back and that Johnston’s on the same line and she’s reading the passing angles and holding the line and telling them when to drop.

And Julie is very similar to the role that I had in 1999 where I dropped into a position where I could just play, and it was so easy, to be honest, because you can just go and have fun and you don’t quite have the pressure that the person next to you does.

But where Julie is really killing it, to me, is just what she brings offensively.  Because now if you are a defender on a set piece, you’re not only worried about Carli Lloyd and Abby Wambach, if Wambach is in the game, now you have a third person you have to mark.

So that makes the U.S. attack very unpredictable on who their target really is because arguably Julie is just as dangerous in the air as Lloyd.  And then if you add Leroux in there and all four of those players on the field, that’s four players you have to mark because they’re all really good in the air going forward.

So Julie Johnston has been a breakout star, but a lot of that is because she’s free to do what she wants because of Becky Sauerbrunn.

  1. I was wondering, someone had mentioned earlier the success of Germany in 2003 and pouring money back into the women’s league there, and given sales growth here, how much this kind of match and how much deeper into the tournament might help to springboard to help the league here especially given the great TV ratings so far? 

FOUDY:  I think it absolutely will help, especially if the U.S. can get through this Germany semifinal, and especially if we can see the U.S. team that we all know is there and that’s playing more fluid, offensive soccer as well.  You know, that is the thing I think that you heard so much early on in the tournament about their offensive struggles and the reason for that is because you know it’s there.  You have all this talent.

So I think that will obviously help the league if they can not only win this Germany game, but do it in a style like Americans are like — I want to see that on a weekly basis.  Because the numbers that are watching are great, but translating that to a weekly basis is always the biggest challenge, of course.  That we’ve seen with the past leagues.

But I just feel this league is in a better place as well.  It’s got all the Americans back here playing.  You’ve got the support of the federation.  You’ve got MLS owners who are in it right now, and I think going forward you’re just going to see more and more ownership interest from parties that get this is really an untapped market that if they tap into can eventually get a return on.

  1. I’d like to hear from both of you, just an assessment of Alex Morgan?

MARKGRAF:  I think she has improved game by game, and improvement in just how her body is holding up minute after minute, because she’s been off for a while.  So the last thing to come back is your confidence.  But how it starts to build that is by being able to make that intense run at the 61‑minute mark when you could previously only get to 59.

So she’s starting to get her fitness and her strength back.  I think the biggest thing about Alex Morgan is her agility.  She’s very difficult to knock off balance running at speed with the ball, and you’re starting to see that come back.  Even though maybe she’s not the same player yet, but she has been in some of the ‑‑ in 2012 and 2011 [form] — because of her injury, just having her on the field is impactful because defenses don’t know if she’s back yet.

And it doesn’t matter if the United States is being beaten stylistically or being dominated.  Alex Morgan is the type of player that she just needs a half chance and she can convert that.  We haven’t quite seen it at that level, but you’re starting to see the impact she has with how she set up both those goals or have a part in the first goal in the Colombia game.  Even though the United States was never in danger of losing it, they weren’t able to create much either except when she started to have space in that second half.

We got to see what she was able to do with her intelligence runs and movement.  So she’s getting better every single game, but that’s how you have to measure her success right now because you can’t compare who she was if she’s a hundred percent healthy because that takes time.

Soccer fans can get all of the latest updates on tonight’s matchup as well as all of the latest soccer news online now at:

Website: http://www.espnfc.us

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

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.

Lamb of God Debuts Video For Upcoming Album’s New Single

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Lamb of God has officially premiered the video for its latest single ‘Overlord.’

The second single from the band’s upcoming album Sturm Und Drang (roughly translated means storm and penetrate),’Overlord’ is considered one of the biggest departures for the band on its upcoming album. It can be viewed online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNRsvFsY9qk. Front man Randy Blythe explains of the song, “I wrote the song about the dangers of self-obsession in our distressingly myopic and increasingly entitled “me-now/now-me” culture; just like the couple in the video, many people can’t seem to look past their own relatively small problems to see the bigger picture: the world is in serious trouble. Having a bad day at work, or a fight with your significant other, or getting a crappy haircut or table service does not in any way shape or form constitute an emergency. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way we want them to- deal with it. People who only see their own problems eventually wind up alone because no one wants to hear their crap anymore- we all know someone like that, always whining and complaining about some inconsequential setback as if it were the apocalypse. This song is for those people.” The new video is the second for the band helmed by director Jorge Torres-Torres. His last time working with the band behind the lens was on the video for the song ‘512.’

In anticipation of Sturm Und Drang’s release on July 24th, Lamb of God has announced a series of live dates with Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine, and Motionless in White. The tour kicks off in West Palm Beach, Florida on the same day as the album’s release and currently runs through Saturday, September 5th in Dallas, Texas. The current schedule for LOG’s upcoming tour is listed below.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR:

LAMB OF GOD W/ Slipknot, Bullet For My Valentine & Motionless In White

7/24 – West Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre

7/25 – Tampa, FL @ MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

7/26 – Atlanta, GA @ Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood

7/28 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy MusicTheatre

7/29 – Darien Center, NY @ Darien Lake Performing Arts Center

7/31 – Saratoga Springs, NY @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center

8/1 – Wantagh, NY @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

8/2 – Hartford, CT @ XFINITY Theatre

8/4 – Boston, MA @ XFINITY Center

8/5 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center

8/6 – Pittsburgh, PA @ First Niagara Pavilion

8/8 – Toronto, ON @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre

8/9 – Montreal, QC @ Parc Jean-Drapeau – Heavy Montreal

8/11 – Washington, DC @ Jiffy Lube Live

8/12 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach

8/14 – Indianapolis, IN @ Klipsch Music Center

8/15 – Chicago, IL @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre

8/16 – St. Louis, MO @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

8/19 – Denver, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre

8/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ USANA Amphitheatre

8/22 – Garden City, ID @ Revolution Center – NO SLIPKNOT *New Show*

8/23 – Auburn, WA @ White River Amphitheater

8/24 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena

8/26 – Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion

8/28 – Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Resort Festival Grounds

8/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ AK-Chin Pavilion

8/30 – Albuquerque, NM @ Isleta Amphitheater

9/2 – Austin, TX @ Austin360 Amphitheater

9/4 – Houston, TX @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

9/5 – Dallas, TX @ Gexa Energy Pavilion

Sturm Und Drang can be pre-ordered online now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/vii-sturm-und-drang-deluxe/id1000708954 and via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/VII-Sturm-Drang-LAMB-GOD/dp/B00YH4Y7U4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1433367861&sr=8-1&keywords=lamb+of+god&tag=smarturl-20. Fans can also pre-order the album now direct from Lamb of God’s online store in a variety of bundle packs at http://lambofgod.shop.musictoday.com/page/preorder.

More information on Lamb of God’s tour is available online along with all of the latest updates on its new album and all of the latest news from the band at:

Website: http://www.lamb-of-god.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/lambofgod

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.

Maestro Classics’ Latest Recording Is A Welcome Addition To Any Middle, High School Music Class

Courtesy:  Maestro Classics

Courtesy: Maestro Classics

Children’s music label Maestro Classics has been introducing young listeners to the joys of classical music for no less than ten year. The award-winning organization has introduced young listeners to a number of classical hits throughout its life including but not limited to: Sergei Prokofiev’s famed “Peter and The Wolf,” Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” just to name a few.  Now with its latest release Merry Pranks of Master Till, Maestro Classics has released yet another composition that is certain to catch audiences’ ears.  Before getting into the record, it should be noted that unlike Maestro Classics’ previous releases, this latest work is not one that is meant for younger audiences, especially considering the story’s outcome.  It is meant more for older audiences; perhaps those between the ages of 10 – 12 if not a little older.  Staying on that topic, the composition itself makes for plenty of reason for older listeners to give this record a chance.  It teaches a rather invaluable lesson for said listeners, especially at their given age(s).  On a directly related note, young listeners will be just as interested to learn the back story behind Merry Pranks of Master Till.  Learning its back story can easily lead to a discussion on the back story of so many other classical hits.  It’s one more reason that this record proves to be so interesting for older youths.  Having learned the back story of Merry Pranks of Master Till, audiences will be interested to hear the same composition a second time on the record.  Only this time the composition is featured without narration, thus allowing listeners to hear the story for themselves and hopefully in turn gain a new appreciation for at least this piece of classical music if not even more appreciation for classical music in whole.  All three factors taken into consideration, they make Merry Pranks of Master Till a work that belongs in any middle school music class if not any home with pre-teens in the house.

Maestro Classics’ latest release Merry Pranks of Master Till is an interesting addition to the company’s rich history of classical releases for children.  That is because in comparison to those releases, this one is not as universal per se.  Its content proves it to be more fitting for older youths than for younger ones.  Keeping that in mind, the story that comes with this latest composition, crafted by composer Richard (pronounced ree-kard strowss) is itself just one reason for its target audience to give it a chance.  The story itself centers on the young character Master Till Eulenspiegel (pronounced oi-len-shpee-gel) and his series of pranks.  His pranks in question are aimed at pointing out to certain groups that they are not as smart as they would like to make themselves believe.  The problem is that because Master Till is a child (it is believed that he is around 12 years old or so), he doesn’t exactly make the wisest choices in regards to his targets or his actions.  The end result of this lack of foresight leads to some very negative consequences for Master Till, which will not be revealed here for the sake of those that have not yet been exposed to the story, or as it is more properly know, tone poem.  The story teaches a very valuable lesson about knowing one’s limits both in terms of one’s actions and whom one targets when it comes to pranks such as those pulled by Master Till.  Not everybody takes pranks such as Till’s the same way.  In the same vein, not everybody today appreciates others’ similar actions.  It is definitely an invaluable part of the whole that makes Merry Pranks of Master Till a worthwhile listen by its older target audiences.

The story that serves as the basis for Merry Pranks of Master Till is in itself invaluable because it teaches a very important lesson that young listeners will hopefully take to heart.  On a related note, it also serves as a starting point for a discussion on the back story of not only this work but of other timeless classical hits, too.  Audiences will learn that this composition is itself actually based on a series of stories centered on Master Till.  This story in particular is just one of a number of stories.  In the same vein, other classical compositions can be discussed in regards to their use in either the church and/or the world at large.  This is a discussion that proves especially useful in middle school (and in some cases even high school) classical music classes.  That is because an understanding of a composition in relation to its potential back story helps in its own way to gain a new or even renewed appreciation for said composition.  To that extent, the back story behind Merry Pranks of Master Till proves even more why this newly released recording is a good fit in any middle school and high school classroom as well as any home with pre-teen musicians in it.

The story that accompanies Merry Pranks of Master Till is an important element to Maestro Classics’ latest release. That is because it both teaches an important lesson to its target listener base and because it serves as a starting point for a discussion for the role of music and culture on one another. Both of these elements are key in what makes Merry Pranks of Master Till an interesting listen for its target audiences. For all of their importance, they are just part of what makes it so worth the listen. Maestro Classics has included in its new record both a take of Merry Pranks of Maser Till with narration and without. The take that comes sans narration is just as important a part of whole as that with narration. That is because having listened to the narration in the previous take, listeners can experience the complete composition as it was meant to be heard. Having no narration, listeners can better hear the different moments that make up each moment of the story. It actually makes the experience of listening to the composition that much fuller. On a related note, hearing the composition in full serves as the starting point for a discussion on personal interpretations of not only the presented work but of other compositions, too. That within itself is a major positive. It is a positive in that it teaches students and listeners in general about musical interpretation. It can lead to discussions on deeper musical concepts such as the use of dynamics, tempos and other musical elements to interpret music and in its creation. Being that one song can create that much discussion whether in the classroom or the living room shows clearly the importance of this new release from Maestro Classics in any young person’s musical education. The addition of the composition’s story doubles and even triples its importance. All things considered Merry Pranks of Master Till shows in the end with its overall composition and its story to be yet another hit from Maestro Classics even if it is aimed more at older children.

Maestro Classics’ recently released recording of Richard Strauss’ Merry Pranks of Master Till is a greatly welcome addition to any middle and high school level band and/or orchestra class. That is thanks to the inclusion of both the composition with and without narration. Whether with or without narration, this latest recording offers its own value for teachers, parents, and children alike. It teaches basic music theory concepts all while entertaining listeners at the same time. Keeping that in mind, it proves again to be a fully welcome addition to any classroom or living room setting. It can be ordered online now via Maestro Classics’ online store at http://www.maestroclassics.com/merry-pranks-of-master-till.html. More information on this and other titles from Maestro Classics is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.maestroclassics.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MaestroClassics

 

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.