Arch Echo’s New EP Is Sure To Help Continue Building The Band’s Fame

Courtesy: Earshot Media

Independent prog-metal band Arch Echo did not make its fans wait long for its latest release.  The band released its new EP Story I Friday.  The four-song record’s release comes less than two years after the release of its then most recent studio recording, its 2019 album You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!  The eight-song album was released April 24, 2019.  The band previewed its new EP last month when it premiered the video for the EP’s lead single, ‘To The Moon.’  That song and the rest of the record’s compositions come together to make the record so appealing.  The sequencing of the record’s songs adds to the EP’s appeal in its own way while the production puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation.  All three items are in their own way, key to the EP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the EP a work that will appeal to any prog-rock and metal fan.

Story I is a musical story that will appeal widely to fans of the prog-metal and rock realms.  That is due in part to the EP’s featured arrangements.  The arrangements in question lend themselves easily to comparisons to so much work from Dream Theater.  That is evident through the collective guitar work, drumming, keyboards and bass.  The sound created by the whole harkens back specifically to compositions created by Dream Theater during the mid and late 1990s.  At the same time, audiences could just as easily make comparisons to some works from Spock’s Beard.  The polyrhythmic patters presented throughout each work and the varied approaches give the songs their own unique identities separate from the works of the noted influences.  What’s more, the way the songs’ moods change within each work adds to their appeal.  Case in point is the duality presented in ‘Strut.  At times fiery, but still positive in its sound, and at others more relaxed, the song paints such a rich musical picture.  ‘To The Moon’ meanwhile hints at influences from not just Dream Theater, but also Scale The Summit, with its keyboards, bass, precise and percussive guitar work and equally precise time keeping.  The picture that it paints is just as vivid as that created through ‘Strut.’  ‘Measure of a Life’ meanwhile creates its own deep, moving musical environment through its own unique arrangement that is anchored through each band member’s performance equally.  The noted influences are there, and yet again, they still serve only as groundwork of sorts.  Not once do audiences have to worry about the band copying its influences here or in the EP’s other songs.  Keeping all of this in mind, the EP’s arrangements featured throughout this brief presentation make it a presentation that while short, is still engaging and entertaining in its own way.  They are collectively just one way in which the EP shows its strength.  The arrangements’ sequencing adds to the EP’s appeal.

As has already been noted, the arrangements featured in Story I show clear influence from a handful of Arch Echo’s more well-known prog-metal and prog-rock counterparts.  For all of that audible influence, the arrangements still present their own unique, enjoyable identities.  The sequencing of those original compositions builds on the foundation formed by those arrangements.  The record starts strong with its lead single/opener ‘To The Moon.’  The only point at which is necessarily pulls back even slightly comes in ‘Leonessa.’  It is important to note here that while the song does have plenty of more “relaxed” moments, those moments are entwined into some more high-energy moments throughout.  So the EP does pull back here, but not entirely.  The balance between the more energetic and reserved moments here make for a good “break point” of sorts for the EP.  It serves to break up the record and keep things interesting for listeners.  It is because of this moment that the EP’s finale, ‘Measure of a Life’ that much more impacting as the record’s closer.  When all of this is considered together, it leaves no doubt as to the importance of the EP’s sequencing.  When this aspect is considered along with the record’s arrangements, those two elements collectively make the record that much more appealing for listeners.  They are not the EP’s only key aspects.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

The production that went into this record is important to note because so much is going on in each song.  Between the sometimes frenetic riffing and the precision in the time keeping, even with all of its flourishes, the harmonies in the bass line and the kinetic energy in the keyboard performances, each song boasts so much.  Considering how much is happening in each of the EP’s songs, it is clear that a lot of time and effort had to be put in to balance each performance within each song.  That painstaking effort paid off, too.  Each musician gets his own moment and attention within each song.  The end result here is a record that is just as engaging and appealing for its technical work behind the glass as for that in front of the boards.  It becomes a work that every prog-metal and prog-rock fan will enjoy.

Arch Echo’s new four-song EP Story I is a strong new presentation for the up-and-coming prog-metal outfit that is sure to help build the band’s reputation within the noted communities just as much as its predecessors.  That is proven in part through its arrangements.  The arrangements feature influences from some of the prog-metal and rock communities but that also maintain their own unique identities.  The sequencing of the noted arrangements builds on the foundation formed through the arrangements and makes the EP even more enjoyable.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to the EP’s presentation and cements it that much more.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the EP. All things considered, they make the record a work that every prog-metal and rock fan should hear at least once if not more. 

More information on Arch Echo’s new EP is available along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/archechoband.

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

Lufeh Holds Its Own Against Its Prog Counterparts With Its Debut LP

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Independent prog-rock band Lufeh is working to make itself one of the next big names in the noted genre.  The band debuted its debut album Luggage Falling Down independently in April.  The eight-song LP is a presentation that the most devoted prog fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical themes present their own point of interest for listeners.  They will be discussed a little later.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, and will also be addressed later.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a presentation that prog rock and metal fans alike will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Luggage Falling Down is an interesting new offering from up-and-coming independent prog-rock band Lufeh.  The record stands out in this year’s field of new prog records in part because of its musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question vary stylistically from one to the next throughout the course of the record’s 33-minute run time.  That will be discussed in a moment.  The bigger picture is that the arrangements present influences from a variety of the band’s contemporaries.  Among the contemporaries whose influences who are shown are bands, such as Dream Theater, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Spock’s Beard.  More specifically, the band takes a page from Dream Theater’s early days (a la Images & Words, Awake, and Falling Into Infinity) in its arrangements in its heavier and softer moments.  The keyboard arrangements within the bigger compositions are especially similar to works from Spock’s Beard and ELP.  To a lesser extent, one could even ague that the stylistic approach featured in the keyboard lines even has a slight influence from Rush just as much as the aforementioned bands.  ‘Find My Way,’ the album’s opener, is perhaps the best example of the Dream Theater influence what with the heavy guitar riffs, drumming and keyboards.  Front man Dennis Atlas even sounds almost identical to longtime Dream Theater front man James LaBrie here.  ‘Doors,’ the album’s third song, is comparable to some of the works from Dream Theater’s 1997 album Falling Into Infinity.  At the same time, the experimental nature in the guitar line and the polyrhythmic approach to the drums lends the song just as much to comparisons to works from Rush.  On yet another interesting note, ‘Trial of Escapade’ could actually be argued to have more modern prog influence from the likes of Liquid tension Experiment and Scale The Summit with its experimental and percussive nature, bass-driven arrangement.  ‘End Of The Road,’ with its keyboards, guitars and drumming immediately conjures thoughts of ELP and Rush, once again going back to the noted influence.  The album’s multi-faceted influences are just as prevalent throughout the albums’ last two songs, ‘Escape’ and ‘The Edge’ as the rest of the album’s featured songs.  All things considered, the musical side of this record does more than its share to make the album worth hearing at least once.  It is just one of the album’s most notable aspects.  Its lyrical content adds to its interest.

The lyrical themes featured throughout Luggage Falling Down are notable because of their depth.  ‘Find My Way’ is just one example of that depth.  As noted on the band’s official website, the song’s lyrical theme presents a message about “turning dreams into reality.”  That statement is illustrated well in the song’s lead verse and chorus, which state, “Too many times I’ve been home/Lying on the floor/And the dreams are flowing over/ From the holes within my soul/And I’ve gotta get a hold/To compromise and find my way.”  The song continues in its second verse, “How many roam in the world alone/And hold on to the pain?/With a thirst for control that only complicates/I know I’ll find my way I know I’ll find my way.”  That affirmation at the verse’s end that “I know I’ll find my way” is that moment when the song’s subject reaches that moment when he/she knows he/she will make his/her dreams become reality and do what needs to be done to make that happen.  It is a statement, when coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, will encourage listeners with that ability to connect to audiences.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation.  ‘End Of The Road’ does its own part to show that importance.

Where ‘Find My Way’ serves as an inspirational piece, ‘End Of the Road’ comes across as being more introspective.  At the same time, the situation described is something that many audiences will find relatable to some sense.  It is a song that comes across lyrically as being about finding some direction in life.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “Driving alone Down on some highway to the end of the road/Not sure where it goes/Hoping to find Some kind of sign to move a part of my soul/By the night time There could be a new place to call home.”  Now given, this line in itself does come across as being somewhat cliché, as so many songs out there have taken a very similar approach, lyrically speaking.  That aside, it still will connect with listeners even here.  The song’s second verse adds to the connection that audiences will make with the work.  The second verse states, “And doubts come to live inside/Til minds lose their will to fight/The time it takes consumes our lives/The time it takes consumes our lives/I don’t know which way to go/Somewhere in the center of the soul/Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold.”  Additionally, the song’s chorus stresses, “Taking all the time will make it slow.”  This comes across as another through-invoking work in its own right.  That mention of “Shape the things you do/Keep the things you hold” almost comes across as Atlas saying to listeners, throughout everything, keep what is important close and take things at our own pace.  It is an interesting statement that is certain resonate with listeners just as much as that presented in ‘Find My Way.’  It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal to the album’s presentation, and certainly not the last.  The lyrical theme of the album’s latest single, ‘My World’ is, as the band notes on its website, about “doing the right thing.”

The only verse featured in ‘My World’ translates that message of doing the right thing by stating, “Thoughts can take our words to other places/Minds to different spaces It can play a trick on what we’ve known/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning deep inside/To do what’s right/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s certain as your soul/You always have control/These times, stick with what’s right/The part of you that’s burning in your soul You’re always in control.”  The message is translated with relative clarity here.  What’s more, it is another positive message from the band.  That positive message, joined with the thoughtful themes featured in the album’s other songs leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  When this is considered along with the album’s musical content, the result is a record that prog fans will find well worth hearing at least once if not more.  That overall content does a lot to make the album appealing, and is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.

The album’s sequencing is important to note because it shows how much thought was put into the album’s overall energies.  The changes that each song undergoes within itself keeps things interesting for listeners throughout the course of the album’s run.  For instance, ‘The Unknown’ opens with the noted vintage Dream Theater influence in its arrangement, what with the keyboards, drumming and guitar line, but then at one point, goes into a more experimental approach, all without losing the song’s energy despite that stylistic change.  That experimental sound is driven through its bass and keyboards, nad will certainly keep listeners engaged purely out of interest.  As the song ends and transitions into ‘Doors,’ the band goes more into a prog-metal direction, which keeps the album’s energy high.  ‘Trial of Escapade,’ as noted, follows ‘Doors’ and boasts its own experimental approach that also maintains the album’s energy in its own right.  The stylistic changes continue from that point on, but at no point in the album’s second half does the energy ever let up too much even with those changes.  Put simply, the album’s sequence shows just how much time and thought was put into making sure the album flowed easily from one song to the next even with so much going on in each arrangement.  That effort paid off, too, so applause goes to whomever was responsible for that aspect of the album.  When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole of the noted elements once more proves why the record deserves to be heard at least once, as it is a viable contender among this year’s new prog rock and metal albums.

Lufeh’s debut album Luggage Falling Down is a viable success for the band.  It is a work that holds its own against its current prog counterparts.  That is evidenced in part through its musical arrangements, as discussed here.  They change style from one to the next, and give listeners a wide range of prog rock and metal opuses even in a span of eight songs and 33 minutes.  The album’s lyrical themes are thoughtful and certain to engage listeners just as much as the album’s musical content.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Luggage Falling Down a notable new entry in itself in this year’s field of new prog records, and a notable debut for the band, too.

Luggage Falling Down is available to stream and download through SpotifyApple Music and Lufeh’s official Bandcamp page.  The album’s track list is noted below.

 

Track Listing:
1. Find My Way (4:25)
2. The Unknown (3:36)
3. Doors (4:06)
4. Trial of Escapade (4:24)
5. My World (4:52)
6. End of The Road (4:05)
7. Escape (4:03)
8. The Edge (4:04)
Album Length: 33:39

 

More information about Lufeh’s new single and album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://lufehband.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/lufehband

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/lufehband

 

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

‘Noise Floor’ Will Have SB Fans, Prog-Rock Fans Alike Making Plenty Of Noise

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Thirteen is considered by people the world over for some reason.  This is the case even despite the complete lack of any scientific evidence to prove that the number thirteen has any negative paranormal power.  Keeping this in mind, Spock’s Beard’s thirteenth album Noise Floor proves to be a record that doesn’t need any luck to succeed.  Released just this past Friday, May 25, the album proves to be its own lucky charm for the band.  That is proven early on in the album’s run in ‘What Becomes of Me.’ It will be discussed shortly.  The album’s single ‘Somebody’s Home,’ which also comes early in the album’s run, also serves to support that statement.  The same can be said of ‘Bulletproof,’ which is included in the record’s second disc.  Each song shows in its own way what makes Noise Floor another strong effort from the veteran progressive rock outfit.  When they are joined with the rest of the album’s entries, the end result is a work that is certain to impress the band’s longtime fans and prog rock fans in general.

Noise Floor, the 13th full-length studio recording from veteran progressive rock band Spock’s Beard, is a record that, simply put, succeeds not on luck, but on the positive of its own merits.  This is proven time and again throughout the course of its 12-song, 69-minute double-disc album.  ‘What Becomes Of Me’ is just one example of what makes Noise Floor a solid new offering from the band.  That is due at least in part to the song’s musical arrangement.  Its bass guitar-driven arrangement lends itself (at least in this critic’s ears) to certain arrangements from fellow famed progressive rock band Rush.  More specifically, the addition of its guitar line lends the song even more to comparisons with works from Rush’s 1993 album Counterparts.  Again, that is in the ears of this critic alone.  What’s really interesting here is that a close listen reveals something in the final bars of the song’s “A” section that sounds like it belongs on a James Bond movie’s soundtrack.  Random though, yes, but at least this critic noticed that sound.  Now having noted all of this, the song’s musical side is only one part of what makes it stand out.  Its lyrical content adds to its depth just as much as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical theme here comes across (again, to this critic alone) as someone speaking to another person through a letter, telling a story of sorts.  That is inferred as front man Ted Leonard sings in the song’s lead verse, “When you get this message/I’m miles away, I’m leaving/But I still have so much to say/So, please keep on reading/’Cause when I slip…commit these bones to soil/A legacy of dust/A ghost I’ll remain/What becomes of me/Another trip around the sun/The righteous race has just begun/We crawl, we walk and then we run, and maybe fly/Yes, I could rule the world/And face the competition/Even if the path was clear/I don’t share that envision/You won’t see me circle back/But it’s not grace I lack/A requiem…to close the book of days…another trip around the sun/The righteous race has just begun…”  It’s almost as if the speaker is telling what became of him and what type of person he was.  The whole matter of the “trip around the sun” and the “race” having “just begun” comes across as retrospective in nature. That would seem to go in line with the rest of the song’s lyrics, in which the subject seems to sing about his own personal journey.  Of course, that could all be wrong, and is only the interpretation of this critic.  Either way, the song presents an interesting story that regardless of its theme (and because of it), makes it stand out even more.  Going full circle, when it is coupled with the song’s musical arrangement, the joining of the elements is certain to keep listeners fully engaged.  Keeping all of this in mind, this song proves to be only one of the album’s most standout entries.  ‘Somebody’s Home’ is another standout addition to the album.

‘Somebody’s Home’ stands out in part due to its musical arrangement, which is another piece that – as others have noted – is a little bit heavier than that for which the band has come to be known.  That’s at least the case in the choruses.  The verses meanwhile present something a little more familiar thanks to the cellos and keyboards.  Lyrically, the song is sure to pique listeners’ interest just as much as Leonard sings, “At the gae, but missed the gun/I can’t start, but I’m not done/Fortune never smiled at me/It left me on my own/Someone cracked/The hour glass/Shattered time and scattered dust/Set in stone/You can’t uncast/The die once thrown/And I’m in here/With the blinds all drawn/I can hear you/But I can’t respond/though the lights/Are off/And don’t give up/’Cause somebody’s home.”  This comes across a little more clearly than the lyrical theme at the center of ‘What Becomes of Me.’ It comes across as a positive message that while things have been bad, the song’s subject is there and is listening to someone who is going through a rough time.  This is especially proven as Leonard sings, “Don’t give up on me/I see more than you think I see.”  This is someone who wants another to know he/she is there for that person.  It’s an interesting, positive message that, when coupled with the song’s moving, almost 80s rock style musical arrangement, shows even more clearly why this song is another of Noise Floor’s key moments.  It is not the last of the record’s key moments, either.  ‘Bulletproof’ is yet another key addition to Noise Floor.

‘Bulletproof’ stands out because its arrangement stands distinctly apart from the arrangements in ‘Somebody’s Home,’ ‘What Becomes of Me’ and the rest of the album’s songs.  As was noted by John Boegehold in a documentary about the song, his aim was to create a song whose arrangement was distinctly similar to the Motown sounds of old.  That sound is clear in the piano-driven arrangement.  It also lives up to Leonard’s recent statement that the band is “about evolution, not revolution.”  That’s because it shows the band’s growth yet again.  The song’s lyrical side shows its own share of growth from the band.  That is evident as Leonard sings here about making the most in life despite the negative times.  This is inferred as he sings, “I woke up on a sunny day/the rain’s a million miles away/I’m gonna run down the horse…gonna pound on the walls till the ghosts come out/when I come to the roof/Let them take their aim/’Cause I’m bulletproof.”  This is all despite the song’s subject having lived “up, but mostly down.”  This is an uplifting message that is certain to have a lasting impact on any listener.  That is especially the case when this message is coupled with the song’s moving musical arrangement.  The partnering of those two elements makes this song stand out just as much as ‘Somebody’s Home’ and ‘What Becomes of Me’ without just rehashing those songs at the same time.  To that end, it’s one more way in which Noise Floor proves to be more than just a bunch of *ahem* noise from Spock’s Beard.  Rather, it proves to be a record – considering those tracks and the rest of the album’s entries – that is certain to appeal to Spock’s Beard fans across the board as much as it will progressive rock fans in general.

Spock’s Beard’s latest full-length studio recording Noise Floor – the band’s 13th album – is a record that succeeds easily more on its own merits than on any level of luck.  That is proven early on in the seemingly Rush-inspired song ‘What Becomes of Me’ and its thought-provoking story.  It is proven just as easily through the album’s single ‘Somebody’s Home,’ which is sure to inspire just as much as it is to entertain.  The same can be said of ‘Bulletproof,’ which offers its own moving musical and lyrical presentation.  When these songs are set alongside the rest of the album’s entries, they make the whole of Noise Floor much more than just a bunch of noise, but rather noise that is a welcome listening experience for SB fans and prog-rock fans alike.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Noise Floor is available online now along with all of Spock’s Beard’s latest news and more at:

 

 

Website: http://www.spocksbeard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/spocksb

 

 

 

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.

Spock’s Beard Debuts Second Single From ‘Noise Floor’

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Spock’s Beard gave listeners another preview of its new album this week.

The band unveiled the lyric video for the album’s second single ‘Somebody’s Home‘ on Thursday.  Bassist Dave Meros said of the song that he especially favored the composition.

“It’s one of my favorite songs on Noise Floor,” Meros said.

Keyboardist Ryo Okumoto agreed, saying, “This is a great song by [Spock’s Bear front man] Ted Leonard.”

‘Somebody’s Home’ follows the release of the album’s lead single, ‘To Breathe Another Day.’

Noise Floor was engineered by the band’s long-time collaborator Rich Mouser and featured drums from the band’s original drummer Nick D’Virgilio.  The album will be available May 25 in stores and online via InsideOut Music on 2CD digipack and 2LP + 2CD combo pack.  Its track listing is noted below.

Disc 1 – Noise Floor

1.     To Breathe Another Day
2.     What Becomes of Me
3.     Somebody’s Home
4.     Have We All Gone Crazy Yet
5.     So This Is Life
6.     One So Wise
7.     Box of Spiders
8.     Beginnings

Disc 2 – Cutting Room Floor

1.     Days We’ll Remember
2.     Bulletproof
3.     Vault
4.     Armageddon Nervous

More information on Noise Floor is available online now along with all of Spock’s Beard’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://spocksbeard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SpocksB

 

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.

Spock’s Beard Announces New LP Release Date, Specs

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Spock’s Beard has another new album on the way.

The veteran progressive rock band announced this week that it will release its latest full-length studio recording Noise Floor on Friday, May 25 via InsideOut Music. The album is the band’s 13th full-length studio recording.  One of the biggest pieces of news about the new album is that drummer and founding member Nick D’Virgilio returned to help work on this album, after having announced in 2011 that he was leaving the band.

Noise Floor will be available on 2CD digipack, gatefold 2LP/2CD combo pack and digital download.  The 2CD digipack includes a bonus EP of songs that while recorded during the Noise Floor sessions, did not make the final cut for Noise Floor (I.E. b-sides).  The album’s track listing is noted below.

Disc 1 – Noise Floor

1.     To Breathe Another Day
2.     What Becomes of Me
3.     Somebody’s Home
4.     Have We All Gone Crazy Yet
5.     So This Is Life
6.     One So Wise
7.     Box of Spiders
8.     Beginnings

Disc 2 – Cutting Room Floor

1.     Days We’ll Remember
2.     Bulletproof
3.     Vault
4.     Armageddon Nervous

More information on Noise Floor is available online now along with all of Spock’s Beard’s latest news and more at:

 

Website: http://spocksbeard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SpocksB

 

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.

 

PBS’ Richard Sherman Studio “Concert” Hits All The Right Notes For Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs/BDs List

Courtesy: PBS/Public Media Distribution

Experiencing a live performance by one’s favorite acts is a special experience.  The sights and sounds — from the performance itself to the enjoyment and excitement experienced alongside other fans — come together to make the live experience something almost as magical as it is memorable.  Of course it’s not always that easy to have that experience because of work, family or maybe other items.  Enter the live DVD and Blu-ray.  These recordings are pivotal for audiences the world over because people don’t always get to see their favorite acts.  They also often prove to give audiences an experience that is at least slightly different from that offered in their CD counterparts.  Keeping that in mind, it is fully justifiable for critics to present lists of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays as well as live CDs.  That is exactly what this critic is doing here.

This year, as with so many years past, Eagle Rock Entertainment has proven to have the majority of the year’s top new live DVDs and Blu-rays, once again proving why it is the leader in live recordings.  Of course it is not the only label represented in this critic’s list this year.  Live recordings from The Winery Dogs, The Dead Daisies, and even famed songwriter Richard Sherman (one half of the famed Sherman Brothers creative team) are all on the list, too alongside new material from Between The Buried and Me and Michael Schenker.  Those noted recordings are all from other labels.  In other words, this year saw a healthy range of new live DVDs and Blu-rays.  With that in mind, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks’ 2017 Top 10 New Live DVDs and Blu-rays.  As always, the list includes this critic’s Top 10 choices as well as five additional honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 titles.  Let’s go!

PHIL’S PICKS 2017 TOP 10 NEW LIVE DVDS/BDs

  1. Richard ShermanSongs of a Lifetime
  2. Tedeschi Trucks Band — Live From The Fox Oakland
  3. Slipknot — Day of the Gusano
  4. Mumford & Sons — Live From South Africa
  5. Between The Buried and Me — Coma Ecliptic
  6. Black Sabbath — The End
  7. Jeff Beck — Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  8. The Rolling Stones — Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015
  9. The Who — Tommy Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  10. The Winery Dogs — Dog YearsLive in Santiago and Beyond 2013 – 2016
  11. Eagles of Death Metal — I Love You All The Time — Live at the Olympia Paris
  12. Sting — Live at the Olympia Paris
  13. Spock’s Beard — Snow Live
  14. The Dead Daisies — Live & Louder
  15. Michael Schenker — Michael Schenker Fest Live Tokyo International Forum Hall

That’s all for this list and still not all for the live recordings.  Still to consider is the whole of the combo packs and the standalone recordings.  In other words, there is still a list of the year’s top new live recordings overall to consider.  Also still on the way are the year’s top new albums as well as a handful of DVD and Blu-ray lists.  As many as possible will be covered before the year lets out, so stay tuned for all of that.

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.

Spock’s Beard Offers Audiences Another Solid Live Effort In ‘Snow Live’

Courtesy: Radiant Records/Metal Blade Records

On Aug. 27, 2002, veteran prog-rock outfit Spock’s Beard released what has since come to be known by the band’s fans as one of its most pivotal albums when it released the simply titled, yet complex concept album Snow. The two-disc record was the last for then front man Neal Morse, who left the band for a solo career not too long after its release. Just this month, the band re-visited that seminal album when it released its new live recording Snow Live in stores and online. The recording marks the first time ever that Spock’s Beard has ever performed the album in full in a live setting. That in itself is the bedrock for the recording’s presentation, and will be discussed shortly. Just as important to note in examining the recording is the band’s performance thereof. This will be discussed later. Rounding out the most important of the recording’s elements is its collective bonus material. It will also be discussed later. Each element noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, Snow Live proves to be another solid live effort from one of the most respected names in the prog community.

Spock’s Beard’s latest live recording Snow Live is hardly the band’s first live recording. Even with that in mind, it can be said easily that this latest live effort from one of the prog community’s most respected names is another solid effort from the band. That is due in no small part to the very fact that it presents the band performing what has become one of its seminal works in whole for the first time ever in one special setting. The setting in question was the latest installment of former front man Neal Morse’s Morsefest. It is somewhat fitting that the band united members past and present in that setting for the performance considering the importance of Morsefest and of Snow. That combination makes the performance a collective show of unity from the band that shows in itself an appreciation for the fans and their respect for Snow. It all combines to make this first-of-its kind performance from Spock’s Beard that much more important. Audiences will especially appreciate the concert’s production values throughout. The audio was expertly balanced throughout, which says plenty considering the size of the venue and that the concert was performed indoors. Recording live shows indoors always presents its own challenge because sound has only so far to go. Those who handled the concert’s sound both in production and post are to be commended for their work here. The same can be said of those responsible for handling the concert’s video production. The work of all involved makes this all too important concert for devout Spock’s Beard fans that much more that much more important and enjoyable. Of course as key as the concert’s very set list and related productions values are collectively to this recording, they are only one part of what makes the recording such a solid effort from Spock’s Beard. The band’s performance of its set list is just as important to discuss in examining its presentation as the show itself.

The band’s performance of its landmark 2002 concept album deserves just as much credit in making the concert watchable as the show itself because of the effort clearly put in by the band members. Between interacting with one another on stage and with the audience through something as simple as a facial gesture or invitation to be part of the show from the floor, the band shows throughout, its dedication to its fans and to properly translating the album from studio to stage. It pays off, too. Audiences will be impressed to experience that effort firsthand, and in turn will agree that said effort is something that must be experienced firsthand to be truly appreciated and understood. Keeping this in mind, audiences will agree in seeing the band’s performance for themselves that said performance goes a long way toward strengthening the recording’s presentation and making it enjoyable for the band’s fans. That performance, even as important as it is to the recording, is not the last of the recording’s most important elements. The bonus material included in the recording rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material featured in Snow Live includes an extensive hour-long presentation of behind-the scenes material and a nearly 40 minute encore set from Morsefest 2016. The songs and the audiences’ full engagement makes the encores that much more entertaining for home viewers, ensuring even more their engagement and entertainment. The band shows just as much dedication to the music and the fans here, too, as in the concert’s main feature, making the encores that much more entertaining. The behind-the-scenes featurette includes an in-depth interview with the band members and an intimate audience ahead of the band’s concert. The interview session includes discussions on the band members’ influences, the creative process in the studio, lineup changes and much more. There are also some more intimate on-camera moments with the band members that offer their own insight including Morse’s own discussion on his conversion to Christianity and its impact on his life. Seeing Morse’s genuine emotion as he discusses the change is moving to say the least. Between those discussions and the others not directly noted here, and the bonus encores, it goes without saying that Snow Live offers plenty of enjoyable and engaging bonus material. When that bonus material is considered along with the recording’s main feature and the band’s performance thereof, the whole of those elements makes Snow Live that much stronger of an offering from Spock’s Beard; an offering that will easily reach every one of Spock’s Beard’s fans.

Spock’s Beard’s latest live recording Snow Live is a critical addition to the band’s already extensive body of work. It presents what is one of the band’s most influential albums being performed live in whole for the first time ever. What’s more, the album is presented by the band’s members past and present. That show of unity in performance of the album sends its own strong message that fans new and old alike will appreciate. Speaking of the band’s performance, the energy and emotion put into each song’s performance strengthens the concert’s presentation even more. It translates the album expertly from studio to stage while also showing the band’s dedication to presenting a fully enjoyable and immersive experience for audiences. The bonus material included in the concert’s recording puts the finishing touch on the recording with its hour-long interview session and nearly forty-minute encore set. Each noted element plays its own important part in the whole of Snow Live‘s presentation. All things considered, they make the recording another solid effort that Spock’s Beard fans old and new alike will enjoy. It is available now in stores and online. more information on Snow Live is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Website: http://www.spocksbeard.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/spocksb

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‘Morsefest 2015’ Release Date, Specs Announced

Courtesy: Radiant Records/Metal Blade Records/SONY

Courtesy: Radiant Records/Metal Blade Records/SONY

The Neal Morse Band will release its latest live recording next month.

Morsefest 2015 will be released on Friday, March 24, 2017.  The extensive concert recording will be released on separate 2 Blu-ray and 2 DVD + 4 CD sets and on digital platforms including iTunes.  Both will be released via Radiant Records via Metal Blade Records/SONY.

Pre-orders are available online now here.  A trailer for the upcoming release is available here. The concert was recorded over the course of two nights in 2015 and spans more than five hours.  It features from some 38 musicians including drummer Mike Portnoy.

The show includes complete performances of Sola Scriptura and Question, songs from Morse’s time with Spock’s Beard (featuring vocal performances from Nick D’Virgillio) and Transatlantic and more.

Morsefest 2015 includes as bonus material an hour-long documentary.  It features candid footage from the band, crew and other musicians

More information on Morsefest 2015 is available online now along with all of Neal Morse’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.nealmorse.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nealmorse

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Nova Collective Unveils ‘Dancing Machines’ Video

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The Nova Collective unveiled this week, the video for the lead single from its upcoming debut album The Further Side, which will be released March 10 via Metal Blade Records.

The band—comprised of members of Between The Buried and Me, Haken, Trioscapes and Cynic—unveiled an in-studio video featuring a performance of the album’s lead single ‘Dancing Machines.’ The video can be viewed online now here.

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The song’s arrangement is a composition that will appeal to fans of Scale The Summit, Liquid Tension Experiment, Trioscapes and others of that ilk.

The Further Side will be available on CD, black 180-gram vinyl, and limited edition clear-red marble LP as well as via digital outlets.  The record’s clear-red marble pressing is being limited to only 200 copies, so supplies of that pressing are very limited.  Audiences can pre-order The Further Side online now here.

Nova Collective was born in 2014 when bassist Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me, Trioscapes) and guitarist Richard Henshall (Haken) starting discussing music via e-mail.  The pair fleshed out some demos not long after discussions started. Drummer Matt Lynch (Trioscapes, Cynic) and keyboardist Pete Jones (ex-Haken) came on board not too much later, helping to finish the album.

The band was written and composed on both sides of the Atlantic.  Session files were shared between the band’s members until it was possible for them to rehearse and record the music together.

Those joint sessions began in early 2015 with engineer Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist) at the helm.  Rich Mouser (Transatlantic, Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse Band) mixed the record.

More information on The Nova Collective’s new video is available online along with all of the latest updates on its upcoming album and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.metalblade.com/novacollective

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

 

 

 

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2015 Saw A Number Of Great Rock Records Released

2015 has been a great year for the rock community. That is because so many standout albums have been released this year. This includes new rock albums both in the underground and the mainstream. There have been so many outstanding rock albums released so far this year that there was just not enough room for all of them on just one list (that is unless one were to make a list of the year’s top 100 new rock albums). Keeping that in mind, it couldn’t have been easy for any critic to develop a year-ender for the year’s best new rock records. It definitely wasn’t easy for this critic. This critic’s list of the year’s best new rock records presents albums from some relatively well-known bands and some that might not be so widely-known. Regardless of how well-known said acts (and albums) are, it can be said that each wholly deserves its spot on this list thanks to musical and lyrical content that is more apt to keep listeners engaged from beginning to end than any other band or album. Enough rambling. Without any further ado here is the list of those bands and their respective albums. This is the Phil’s Picks ‘ 2015 Top 10 New Rock Albums. As with every other list, the main body of the list is made up of the year’s Top 10 Best new records. The bottom five receive honorable mention for a total of fifteen albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2015 TOP 10 NEW ROCK ALBUMS

  1. BACHMAN – HEAVY BLUES 
  2. MICHEAL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – SPIRIT ON A MISSION 
  3. THE WINERY DOGS – HOT STREAK 
  4. FINGER ELEVEN – FIVE CROOKED LINES 
  5. JOE SATRIANI – SHOCKWAVE SUPERNOVA 
  6. BLACKBERRY SMOKE – HOLDING ALL THE ROSES 
  7. EVERCLEAR – BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK 
  8. SPOCK’S BEARD – THE OBLIVION PARTICLE 
  9. QUEENSRYCHE – CONDITION HUMAN 
  10. DEVIL CITY ANGELS – DEVIL CITY ANGELS 
  11. RUSSKAJA – PEACE, LOVE, AND RUSSIAN ROLL 
  12. BARENAKED LADIES – SILVERBALL 
  13. POP EVIL – UP 
  14. UFO – A CONSPIRACY OF STARS 
  15. TEENAGE BOTTLEROCKET – TALES FROM WISCONSIN

 

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