Blacktop Mojo’s Ongoing Success Continues With Its New Self-Titled Album

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Things have picked up lately for Blacktop Mojo.  The band recently launched its latest tour and its new self-titled album.  Released Friday, the 12-song self-titled record is another successful offering from the independent hard rock band.  According to information provided, the album is already at #5 on the iTunes Rock Albums chart and at #30 on iTunes’ Top 100 Albums Chart.  No doubt the two singles that the album has already produced – ‘Tail Light’s and ‘Wicked Woman,’ which close and open the album respectively do their own part to help with that success.  Those two songs are only a part of what shows the album’s strength.  ‘Do It For The Money,’ one of the album’s later entries, does well in itself to support the noted statements.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Rewind,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another example of what makes this album worth hearing.  It will be examined a little later.  Much the same can be said of ‘Stratus Melancholia,’ the album’s penultimate entry.  It will also be examined later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole proves to be one more of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Blacktop Mojo’s new self-titled record (its fourth overall album) is another successful new offering from the independent hard rock band.  That is proven in part through the late entry, ‘Do It For The Money.’  The song features a heavy, crunching guitar line and equally heavy, rich bass and drum line that is instantly comparable to some of the best works from Black Label Society.  The fullness and richness in the arrangement (including the vocals) makes the arrangement so engaging and entertaining.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The seeming commentary about understanding what is important in life featured in the song’s lyrical content adds to the song’s impact.

The noted inferred theme is presented right from the song’s outset as James sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “How much for your soul?/Is it for sale to anyone?/What’s the price of being loved?/Which bank do you owe?/Is it worth its weight in/Is it worth its weight in/Is it worth its weight in gold?/Do you do it for the love/Or do you do it for the money?/The poor die young and the rich get lucky/Cash is king and you’re the jester honey/Do you do it for the love/Or do you do it for the money?”  The song’s second verse continues that inferred theme as James sings, “He left you in the hole/Did you know the deal was wrong?/Did you sell it for a song?/It’s your blood on the note/Oh he cleaned you out/What will you pay with/What will you pay with/What will you pay with now?”  All of this seems to really infer a discussion on the familiar topic of deciding what is really important in life, money or our pride and simply more important matters in life.  The infectious nature of the song’s musical arrangement will ensure even more that audiences get that seeming message.  The two elements collectively make clear why this song is such a strong addition to the album.  It is just one of the many songs that make Blacktop Mojo’s new self-titled album such an impressive new offering from the band.  ‘Rewind,’ one of the album’s early entries, is another example of the record’s strength.

‘Rewind,’ like ‘Do It For The Money,’ stands out in part because of its arrangement.  This song’s arrangement is another work that tends to stray from Blacktop Mojo’s more familiar heavy, southern rock approach.  Rather in this case, what audiences get is a song that exhibits influence from Creed and (interestingly enough) Lifehouse.  The guitar-centered composition really comes across as a hybrid of songs from those two bands.  That is exhibited through the harmonies that it and the bass line create.  The addition of the vocals (which here really conjure thoughts of none other than Scott Stapp) adds even more to that sense.  Of course the song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out.  The song’s lyrical content ensures its own appeal.

The lyrical content featured in this song seems to take on the all too familiar topic of a relationship matter.  This is inferred through the song’s extensive lead verse and chorus, in which James sings, “Rewind/To yesterday morning when/We were fine/Before we knew the world would end/If I told you/We could go back to that moment again/Would you drop everything/Take my hand, and follow?/Would you choose yesterday or tomorrow?/Sunshine/Morning light creeping in/White Lies/I don’t know what to say again/Is illusion/Better than the promise we give/When I love you for some reason seems hollow/Would you choose yesterday or tomorrow?/Don’t speak now live in the moment babe/One wrong word and everything’s changed/The second hand could tick and we lose everything we know/Fight back tears as the tape plays/It comes unwound and goes in and out of phase/The stereo is screaming and the song don’t sound the same anymore/Rewind the track to way back before we knew the words.”  The song’s second verse infers even more that the song’s theme is that of a potentially broken relationship as James sings, “Inside/I think I know the answer you’ll give/In your eyes/I can tell you’re barely holding it in/When I met you/We radiated light from within/But we chewed that up and now it’s time to swallow/Would you choose yesterday or tomorrow?”  The heartfelt feeling in the song’s arrangement, while thankfully not the typical oh woe is me approach, still does well to complete the picture of this seeming theme.  It adds even more to the song’s overall emotional impact.  Together, the two elements show clearly why this song is another positive addition to Blacktop Mojo.  It is just one more of the songs that makes the album in whole prove so enjoyable, too.  ‘Stratus Melancholia,’ the album’s penultimate entry, is yet another way in which Blacktop Mojo proves its success.

Right off the bat, the musical arrangement featured in ‘Stratus Melancholia’ evokes thoughts of the grunge sounds of the 90s.  Speaking more specifically, the song’s heavy, plodding arrangement likens itself to works from Soundgarden and Alice in Chains through the downtuned guitars, bass, almost mournful vocal delivery style and heavy drums.  At the same time, BTM’s own familiar influence is present, too.  It is just blended well with the other noted influences here to make the arrangement in whole such a unique addition to the album.  That arrangement does not work alone here, either.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement makes for its own interest.

The almost nihilistic approach to the song’s lyrical content adds even more to that noted grunge approach.  The song opens with James singing, “Black sun burn a hole in the clouds/The world goes cold the grass turns brown/Heart turning inside out/Open up and swallow me down//Blind darkness closing in/Whisper nothings, sweet as sin/Echoes now were they a dream/In the end they don’t mean a thing/Love won’t keep you safe/Love will slip away/Love won’t keep you safe/Love will slip away.”  The song’s second verse is just as brooding as it states, “All alone in my own head/Rotten smell/Is something dead?/Crawling on my hands and knees/Beg the darkness/Let me breathe.”  This comes across as someone in a dark place.  It is a fully relatable situation for every listener.  That ability to connect with listeners lyrically as well as musically (the song’s musical arrangement does very well to enhance the mood set by the song’s lyrical theme, too) shows even more why this song stands out.  The whole makes even clearer why this album is such an impressive new offering from Blacktop Mojo.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album in whole a fully successful new offering from Blacktop Mojo that continues to help cement the band’s place among the current generation of young rock acts.

Blacktop Mojo’s fourth album, Blacktop Mojo, is yet another strong offering from the band.  Its musical and lyrical content alike does well throughout to make it fully engaging and entertaining.  Each of the songs examined here serve in their own way to support that statement.  They and the rest of the album’s songs show a continued growth from the band.  When they are considered along with the album’s existing singles and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall one more of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  Furthermore, it continues to cement the band’s place among the current generation of young rock and hard rock bands.  Blacktop Mojo is available now.

The band is in the midst of the tour’s first leg of its tour. The band’s upcoming dates, including those for the second leg of the tour, are noted below.

8/15 — Joliet, IL — The Forge 
8/17 — Nashville, TN — The End
8/18 — Memphis, TN — Growlers
8/20 — St. Louis, MO — Red Flag
8/21 — Hutchinson, KS — The Red Shed
8/22 — Lubbock, TX — Jakes
9/24 — Fort Worth, TX — Rail Club
9/25 — Enid, OK — Fling At The Springs
9/26 — Fort Smith, AR — Temple Live
9/30 — Biloxi, MS — The Cannery Bar & Grill
10/2 — Destin, FL — Club LA w/ Nonpoint
10/3 — Lake City, FL — Halpatter Brewing Company
10/5 — Orlando, FL — Soundbar
10/7 — Charlotte, NC — Amos
10/8 — Greensboro, NC — Blind Tiger
10/9 — Jacksonville, NC — Hooligans Music Hall
10/10 — Virginia Beach, VA — Elevation 27
10/12 — Brooklyn, NY — Kingsland
10/13 — Syracuse, NY — Lost Horizon
10/15 — Marietta, OH — Adelphia Music Hall
10/16 — Harrisburg, PA — HMAC
10/21 — Providence, RI — Alchemy
10/22 — Hampton Beach, NH — Wallys
10/23 — Hartford, CT — Webster Underground
10/24 — Albany, NY — Empire Underground
10/26 — Buffalo, NY — Mohawk Place
10/28 — Flint, MI — Machine Shop
10/29 — Indianapolis, IN — Emerson Theater
10/30 — Battle Creek, MI — Music Factory
10/31 — Ft Wayne, IN — Pieres
11/3 — West Dundee, IL — Rockhaus
11/4 — Peoria, IL — Crusens
11/5 — Wichita, KS — Temple Live
11/6 — Texarkana, AR — Crossties

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




To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Art Of Anarchy Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: O’Donnell Media Group

Art of Anarchy has announced new live dates in support of its new album The Madness.

The band announced this week it will embark on a short string of live dates next month beginning April 3 in Amityville, N.Y. The nearly month-long schedule takes the band to the Midwest and into the Southwest and also into Canada, eventually winding down April 29 in Henderson, NV.  The band’s current live schedule is noted below.

Art of Anarchy Tour Dates:

4/3/17 – Amityville, N.Y. – Revolution Bar & Music Hall
4/4/17 – Asbury Park, N.J. – The Stone Pony
4/6/17 – Toronto, Ontario – Velvet Underground
4/7/17 – Sarnia, Ontario – Station Music Hall
4/8/17 – Battle Creek, Mich. – The Music Factory
4/10/17 – Libertyville, Ill. – Austin’s Saloon
4/11/17 – Chesterfield, Mich. – Diesel Concert Lounge
4/13/17 – Fort Wayne, Ind. – The Rusty Spur
4/14/17 – Ringle, Wisc. – Q&Z Expo Center
4/29/17 – Henderson, Nev. – M Resort

Composed of Scott Stapp (ex-Creed) on vocals, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex Guns ‘N Roses) on guitar, John Moyer (ex-Disturbed) on bass and twin brothers Jon and Vince Votta on guitar and drums respectively, the band originally formed through an 18-year friendship between Thal and the Votta brothers.

Jon Votta first approached Thal with the idea to form the band years ago.  That discussion eventually led to the band’s creation, which originally saw the late Scott Weiland (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) handle vocal duties. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in June 2015.

Stapp said in a recent interview that he was optimistic about working with the members of Art of Anarchy.

“I’m excited to be a part of Art of Anarchy,” Stapp said.  “I appreciate collaborating with other talented artists and I can’t wait to share our new music with the fans very soon.”

Band manager John Gomez shared Stapp’s optimism.

“The other members of AOA and I are equally excited to have Stapp on board,” Gomez said.  “This is the first band that Scott has fronted outside of Creed and his heart’s really in it.  Scott’s vision, his gift for gut-wrenching storytelling and his powerful vocals lend a bold new energy to the group.”

Thal thought bringing Stapp on to take Weiland’s place has been a boon for the band, adding he thought Stapp’s addition to the band helped take the band in a new direction.

“Scott’s style and the personal lyrics he’s been writing are taking the sound in a new direction – one that brings out the best in all of us,” Thal said.  “It’s a new chapter for us all, and I’m looking forward to sharing the new music with the fans and seeing what the future holds.”

Vince Votta agreed.

“It’s been awesome having Stapp on board,” Votta said.  “Everyone is bringing their A-game and can’t wait to bring it live to the stage.”

Audiences that haven’t heard that new sound can hear The Madness’ latest single, its title track online now via the band’s official YouTube channel.  More information on The Madness is available online now along with all of Art of Anarchy’s latest news and more at:









To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Wood’s Latest LP Is Caught Between Good And Great

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Guitarist Andy Wood is most widely known for his work with Creed front man Scott Stapp when Stapp is not recording with his band mates in Creed.  Wood has displayed his own share of talent in his work with Stapp.  With the release of his latest solo album Caught Between The Truth and a Lie, Wood has displayed even more talent.  Throughout the course of the double-disc record, Wood displays his chops as a rock guitarist once more.  That is not the most interesting aspect of this record.  It is his talent within the worlds of country and bluegrass that will really catch audiences’ ears on this new release.  That span of musical talents is the key to the enjoyment of Caught Between The Truth and a Lie.  Throughout the course of the album, Wood mixes things multiple times, throwing instrumentals alongside full compositions.  That stylistic mix of music makes this record even more enjoyable for audiences whether or not said audiences are familiar with Wood’s solo work.  Last but not least worth noting in the album’s success is its sequencing.  Wood doesn’t just go from one genre to another.  He actually slowly transitions from bluegrass to rock to country and back to rock again.  The end result is a work that proves music truly is the universal language as it will most certainly bring together so many different audiences throughout the course of its twenty-four tracks.  By the end, audiences will agree that Between The Truth and a Lie is somewhere between good and great.

Andy Wood’s latest full length solo record Between The Truth and a Lie is, as noted, an album that sits somewhere between good and great. The main reason for this is the range of talent displayed throughout the course of the double album’s twenty-four total tracks.  Wood, who is known largely for his work with rocker Scott Stapp, displays expert bluegrass and country chops right alongside his talents as a rock guitarist throughout the course of the album.  Bluegrass fans will enjoy the old school style of ‘How Mountain Girls Can Love’ and the album’s opener ‘Everybody Loves You.’  Those whose leanings are more in the country realm will enjoy ‘The Ballad of Ricky and Cal’ and the album’s closer ‘the Cowboy Rides Away.’  There was nowhere for this song to go than at the album’s end considering its title.  And Wood’s gentle, bluesy guitar work shows why, too.  Rock fans aren’t left out, either.  Wood offers his rock fans ‘Of Elf and Man’ (perhaps paying homage to Metallica’s ‘Of Wolf and Man?’), ‘Got A Light’ and the toned down cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Fool in the Rain.’  There’s even a jazzy piece thrown in for good measure in the form of ‘Dracula and His Cooky, Spooky Band.’  The use of the horns and Latin percussion alongside Wood’s own talents will have audiences up and dancing on this track, especially with Halloween now just around the corner.  The songs noted here are just some examples of Wood’s versatility on this record.  It goes without saying that said versatility is displayed quite well.  The enjoyment doesn’t end there, either.  The sequencing of the songs throughout the record makes the journey from start to finish all the more enjoyable.

The variety of sounds that Wood includes throughout the course of new record is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to give this album at least one listen.  If audiences aren’t convinced by that aspect, then perhaps the stylistic differences in the songs will convince audiences.  Stylistically speaking, the songs that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are both full compositions complete with vocals and instrumental tracks.  Wood balanced that mix quite well, too making sure not to stay on the full compositions or the instrumental pieces for too long.  It shows that he and all involved behind the glass put a lot of thought into the album’s overall presentation.  Speaking of that thought, the mix of musical genres and styles together make for plenty of reason for audiences to check out Andy Wood’s new album.  If there is still anyone not convinced as to why they should check out Between The Truth and a Lie by now, then perhaps an examination of the album’s sequencing will convince said audiences.

The musical mix of genres and styles that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are equally important to the album in terms of its enjoyment.  They would be nothing without the album’s sequencing, though. It would have been so easy for Wood and those behind the glass to randomly toss the album’s songs in throughout the record.  But that didn’t happen.  Rather, the album gradually progress from Wood’s bluegrass sound to a more rock oriented sound and then back to a country sound.  It is done with such precision that the progression is almost unnoticeable to the untrained ear. Those that listen closely though, will hear the slow change.   It’s especially nice to hear that change happen gradually instead of suddenly.  That is because it makes the album in whole all the easier on the ears.  Combined with the songs themselves and their difference in style, it makes the album one that will bring audiences of all ages and interests together, proving true once more the adage that music truly is the universal language.  And that language is sure to bring together every person that gives this record a chance.

Caught Between The Truth and a Lie is available now in stores and online.  More information on the album, Wood’s tour dates and latest updates is available online at:





To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Alter Bridge moves into the mix of the year’s best live shows

Courtesy: Alter Bridge Recordings/EMI Label Services

Good morning, everyone.  I hope your weekend is going well so far.  I promised earlier this morning that I’d have even more new reviews to come.  And I try my hardest to be a man of my word.  So this morning, I’ve got another new review.  Funny thing is that with this review, it’s now official that I’m going to have to shift my list of the year’s top live shows yet again.  That’s because of just how impressed I am by the topic of this review.  This morning, I offer a live set that has really set itself apart from the others that have already been released thus far.  This morning I offer to you, dear readers, the recently released double disc cd/blu-ray release from Alter Bridge, “Live at Wembley.”

So often, when it comes to choosing which live recordings to buy, audiences are forced to choose between the audio and video portions of the show(s) in question.  In other cases, fans are forced to wait and see if labels will even release given shows in more than one format.  It could be argued the reason this happens is labels’ fears of said releases’ success or lack thereof.  So in releasing “Live at Wembley” in a cd/blu-ray package, Alter Bridge Recordings and EMI Label Services were taking a calculated risk.  That risk has paid off.  What fans get in this dual disc package is a nearly two hour concert that spans its whole curent catalogue.  It doesn’t feel the least bit of its near two hour time, either.  The band keeps the energy moving throughout the concert, even in its slower songs, making that run time pass by with ease.  Add in a bonus tour documentary, and audiences get a great two piece/three-part live release that has officially made its case for being named one of the year’s best live recordings.

“Live at Wembley” is only the second live release from Alter Bridge.  But it’s also the best of the pair.  The recording documents the final show on the band’s 2011 European tour.  The very first thing that fans wil notice in this set is the stunning clarity of the show’s blu-ray presentation.  If ever there was an argument for switching  to blu-ray and HDTV, the clarity of the picture in this show is it.  It’s not all that makes the video portion of the show so impressive, though.  The show itself plays its own role.  Director Daniel E. Catullo III and his crew are to be highly commended for their work on recording the performance.  The work of the camera crew really caught the vibe of both the band and the audience.  Viewers could feel both sides feeding off of one another’s energy.  That served to make the show fly by.  Before audiences know it, the show’s over.  On top of all of that, the shooting took place from both on stage and in the crowd.  It makes audiences feel as if they’re right there with those who were there at the time of the show.  All combined, these are signs of a great live show. 

Speaking of the audience and band feeding off of one another, the way that the camera crew caught the audience clapping and swaying its hands in unison showed how much the audience appreciated the band’s performance.  It was moving to see how the band’s music brought so many people from so many different backgrounds together for one special night.  It just goes to prove music’s ability to unify people.  Those moments are many throughout the show.  But there’s something beautiful and moving about them, every time.

On stage, viewers watching the show at home see the result of the audience feeding off of the band.  Frontman Myles Kennedy takes that energy from the audiences and gives it back tenfold.  He proves to be the perennial frontman, especially during ‘White Knuckles.’  He comes across as a big kid when he gets the lighting crew to bring the lights up on one side of the audience and then the other.  It’s just one of many moments that make one compare his stage presence to that of Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.  This is meant in a wholly complimentary manner.

As amazing as the Wembley show’s video portion is, it’s only part of what makes this set a triple threat.  The bonus tour documentary shows fans a side of the band that they might not have otherwise seen before.  As noted already, frontman Myles Kennedy comes across as a big kid at least once during the show.  Listening to him talk about how amazed he is to be where he is now serves to certify that description.  He and the rest of the band–Mark Tremonti (guitars), Scott Phillips (Drums) and Brian Marshall (Bass)–come across as being very humble, hard working musicians who do what they do more for the band’s fans than for themselves.  Hearing Myles and Brian talk about how serious Myles takes the matter of caring for his voice shows how serious he is about performing.  It’s a little bit funny hearing Myles talk about people think he’s being anti-social because he doesn’t talk much before a show.  Though it does make at least a certain amount of sense.  And it makes him that much more respected both as a vocalist and a musician.

Just as impressive as the band’s devotion to performing for its fans is how serious it takes being at the level at which it now sits.  Even as big as the band is, the band’s members talk about the honor of playing Wembley.  It’s compared to playing New York’s Madison Square Garden.  The point here was to highlight that the band realizes how far it’s come to be playing one of Europe’s most legendary venues.  Of course, for all of the seriousness caught in the documentary, there are lighter moments, too.  It’s funny hearing the band talk and laugh about how expensive things are overseas versus how expensive it might be here in the United States.

The bonus documentary has far more enjoyable moments than what is noted here.  Fans who watch it for themselves will see every one of those moments.  They will also get a wonderful high def visual experience in the video portion of the show and an equally enjoyable audio portion with the included cd.  All together, this double disc set is a triple threat in the ranks of the year’s live recordings.  It could be argued that considering both the extrensic and intrinsic value of this set, Alter Bridge has made a fully valid argument for having released one of the elite top live recordings of the year.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to and “Like” it or its companion page at  Fans can also keep up with all the latest by following the Phils Picks blog at