Girl On Fire’s Debut Album Is One Of 2013’s Best New Rock, Indie Records

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  That timeless adage obviously wasn’t what Seattle, Washington’s own Girl on Fire had in mind when it came up with the title to its debut record, Not Broken.  Regardless, it is still a fitting title for the band’s debut record.  That’s because there is nothing broken about this record.  As a matter of fact, for a first outing, Not Broken is a solid record from beginning to end.  And with the proper support from mainstream radio programmers, the band could very well be the next band to add its name to the already long list of famed bands from the city.

Not Broken is a fitting title for Girl on Fire’s debut full length album.  This is despite the fact that while the band obviously didn’t have a certain timeless adage in mind when its members were coming up with a title for the album.  Not Broken will grab listeners right from the album’s opener and lead single, ‘The Takedown.’  This song is an instant fan hit with its catchy guitar riffs and equally infectious defiant chorus of “We are not afraid to bleed/Awake the strength inside/Shadows come to life.”  It’s instantly easy to see the band playing this song to a packed arena, the crowd pumping its fists and singing in unison.  Any mainstream radio programmer that doesn’t give this single a chance is missing out.  Period.  Making the song even more radio friendly is the fact that front man Austin Held and his band mates—Nick Mahan (guitar), Nicholas Wiggins (guitar), Josh Mouser (bass), and Harry MacDonald (drums)—have crafted a song that could easily lead listeners to mistake it for Linkin Park.  The song’s official music video is available online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLCWhKV5avc&feature=youtu.be.    Held even sounds just like LP/STP front man Chester Bennington.  It’s eerie how closely similar the two singers sound.

The positive message and equally enjoyable musical side of ‘The Takedown’ doesn’t stop after the song ends.  The band keeps its energy and positivity flowing throughout the album.  This is evident in the song ‘Believe.’  The song starts off at a slow tempo with Held singing, ‘These scars/Have to be covered/Never discovered/From outside eyes/I’ve been running in circles/While losing my purpose/It’s hard to breath.”  The reason for the slower, more moody opener (and its corresponding moments) is to highlight the more uplifting sections of the song and make them more influential.  Held sings in those more uplifting moments, “And I will be strong/And I won’t hold on/To the darker side of me/When you fall/No one sings/Hide your pain/Underneath/Like the scars/They never fade/Something in you/No one can take/I believe/I believe/Let’s just believe.”  This is only a portion of the song.  But that same contrast of positivity winning out over the most negative of thoughts runs throughout the song.  It makes this one more song that every listener will both enjoy and appreciate.

‘The Takedown’ and ‘Believe’ are both excellent examples of the positive lyrical themes that populate Not Broken.  Those themes don’t end with these or other songs, either.  The album’s title track is just as powerful both musically and lyrically.  Held sings about having overcome the worst that life could handle as difficult as times might have been at one time or another.  He sings, ‘I’m not broken/I’m alive/I’ve been kicked down/But I’ll surive/Never give up/Never hide/I won’t go down without a fight/You can drag me down to the mat/You can rip my heart/Right out of my chest/I’m not broken/I’m not broken.  This kind of uplifting content is something that every listener can use at one time or another regardless of age.  That’s because even as adults, we all have people that will try to kick us down and then kick us again when we’re down.  Even through all of that, Held and company are telling listeners it is possible to have the inner strength and determination to not let such situations get us down.  This isn’t the type of thing that would only apply to younger listeners.  The gentle piano run that opens the verses set against the harder rocking chorus parts makes once again make for an excellent juxtaposition of emotions.  They expertly illustrate the two different emotions and especially highlight the possibility of  hope and personal determination.  This song, along with the previously mentioned songs (and those not mentioned) make Girl on Fire’s debut a contender to be both one of the year’s best rock records and one of the year’s best new independent albums, too.  Not Broken is available now.  It can be ordered online direct from the Century Media Records website at http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=512.  More information on this release, the band’s current tour in support of Not Broken and more from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/girlonfiremusic, http://www.girlonfiremusic.com, http://twitter.com/girlonfiremusic, http://www.myspace.com/girlonfiremusic, and http://www.purevolume.com/girlonfire.  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.

Rockshow Another Welcome Live Release For Fans of McCartney AND Wings

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment has for some time, been the place to go for anyone wanting to learn anything about the history of modern mainstream music.  The company has released live recordings from greats such as: Ray Charles, Miles Davis, The B-52s, Deep Purple and more over the years.  It has even ventured into the realm of newer music with live releases from artists including: The Raconteurs, Stone Temple Pilots, Alanis Morissette, and even Slipknot.  Now Eagle Rock has taken music lovers the world over back in time once again with yet another impressive live release from another of music’s greatest names in the form of one Sir Paul McCartney.

Eagle Rock has just released a new live recording from Sir Paul McCartney and his band mates in Wings, titled, Rockshow.  It would be so easy to state that this performance presents McCartney and company at the top of their game.  But the reality is that McCartney himself has always been at the top of his game.  This performance is just one more example of his and his band mates’ talent.  There are those that have complained about issues with audio in the transfer from this performance’s original VHS recording to the DVD and Blu-ray format.  One can’t help but wonder if this was a mostly isolated problem.  The Blu-ray screener viewed by this critic didn’t seem to have any audio issues whatsoever.  And for those that complained about the video quality, one must remember that this concert was originally recorded nearly four decades ago.  So yes, it is going to be grainy.  Fans of the music icon should be appreciative that the effort was even made to transfer the masters from Betamax to DVD and Blu-ray.  Considering all that could have gone wrong with the transfer, the grainy footage is just one more part of the whole that makes this another success for Eagle Rock Entertainment and for Sir Paul’s fans.

Having tackled the elephant in the room, the next logical step here would be to take a look at the band’s performance overall.  Whether one is a fan of McCartney’s time with The Beatles or more of his work away from the band that helped him launch his career, both sides will be equally impressed by the set list of this concert.  It all kicks off with the crowd pleaser, ‘Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet.’  Throughout the course of the roughly two hour-long recording, McCartney and company cover largely material from Wing’s catalogue.  Though there are some Beatles tunes peppered in for good measure including: ‘Lady Madonna’, ‘Blackbird’, and ‘The Long and Winding Road.’  They intentionally avoided the Beatles material as much as possible during this and other performances intentionally in order to separate the two bands.  As author/media personality Paul Gambaccini writes in the included liner notes, “In the early seventies McCartney did not perform Beatles songs in concert, wanting to establish Wings on its own.  Now, in 1976, the group is in full flight, and Paul can use some of the songs he wrote in the sixties to spice up the set.”  It really was a logical plan of action for someone that had built his name with such a big band.  And it helps to make this performance so much more enjoyable.

Staying on the matter of Gambaccini’s writing, this is another positive factor to the whole that is Rockshow.  His writing style is less journalism and more storytelling.  Set alongside the photos of the band, the pair takes viewers back in time.  He doesn’t try to write above himself.  And he doesn’t try to write above the heads of those that would buy this new release.  It’s easily accessible for general audiences.  Because of this, the actual concert experience is that much richer whether one was actually there or not when this performance was originally recorded.

Getting back to the actual concert experience, the band covers more than its own material and that of The Beatles.  Audiences will enjoy the inclusion of the Moody Blues classic, ‘Go Now.’  This song about lost love is ironically one of the whole performance’s highlights.  It’s a highlight not so much because of the music, but because of the sight of Paul and his then wife Linda performing side by side.  There is something so contradictory about this sight set against a song about lost love.  Audiences can see just how in love the couple was.  Sadly, she would pass many years later.  Knowing this, it makes this moment all the more special.  It makes the final two pages of the included booklet all the more touching as a closing gesture, too.  The booklet’s penultimate page features a concert poster for the original 1976 tour with Paul’s face there.  The final page is a picture of Linda exactly as she looked in this recording.  She was one of the ones for whom this re-mastered recording was dedicated.  While McCartney himself might not have had a hand in this new re-issue, he surely had to have seen this touching gesture.  Fans will see it too, and hopefully be just as moved by this and the sight of her performing with her then husband.  It’s a touching final moment of what is another enjoyable live release from Eagle Rock Entertainment.  The DVD and Blu-ray are both available now in stores and online.  They can be ordered online direct from the Eagle Rock Entertainment website at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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Seattle Groups Start Fundraising Effort For Park Dedicated To Musician

Courtesy: Merlis For Hire

Two Seattle based organizations have joined forces to raise money for a park dedicated to keeping alive the memory of Jimi Hendrix.  The Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park and the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation have joined to start a fundraising campaign via indiegogo in order to raise $1.5 million to construct the park.  A plan for the park was started in 2004 along with an initial budget and layout design.  The park is located next to the Northwest African American Museum in the Central District of Seattle. 

While much work has already been done on the Jimi Hendrix Park, there is still more to be done.  Thus, the two groups have joined together for a fundraising effort via indiegogo.  Anyone interested in donating to help make the park a full reality can do so online at http://igg.me/p/213044.  All donations made for the project are tax deductible.  For more information on the Jimi Hendrix Park, go online to http://www.jimihendrixparkfoundation.org.

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