Ellefson Debuts New Compilation’s Lead Single; Unveils Initial Track Listing

Courtesy: Combat Records

Audiences got their first preview of Megadeth bassist David Ellefson’s new eponymous rock project this week.

The band — Ellefson (bass), Thom Hazaert (vocals), Andy Martongelli (guitar), Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (guitar), and Paolo Caridi (drums) — released the song ‘Wasted‘ Friday.  The song, a cover of the Def Leppard song, is the lead single from the group’s debut record, No Cover.

Ellefson’s cover of ‘Wasted’ features guest appearances from Frank Hannon (Tesla), Jacob Bunton (Mick Mars, Lynam), and Dave McClain (Ex-Machine Head, Sacred Reich).

The famed names featured on ‘Wasted’ are just some of well-known musicians and performers who make appearances on this record.  Also lending their talents to the album are equally well-known figures, such as Charlie Benante (Anthrax), Al Jourgensen (Ministry) and Gus G. (Firewind).

Along with debuting its lead single, Ellefson has also unveiled the initial track listing for No Cover.  The initial listing opens with a cover of Judas Priest’s timeless hit song ‘Freewheel Burning’ and also features covers of songs such as AC/DC’s ‘Riff Raff,’ Queen’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell.’

The album’s initial track listing is noted below.  Two tracks are still TBA. Pre-orders are open now.

 

Tracklist:
1. Freewheel Burning (Judas Priest) ft. Jason McMaster, Gus G, Andy James, Dave McClain
2. Tear It Loose (Twisted Sister) ft. Eddie Ojeda, Dave McClain
3. Love Me Like A Reptile (Motorhead) ft. Doro Pesch, Greg Handevidt, Chuck Behler
4. Holiday in Cambodia (Dead Kennedys) ft. Charlie Benante
5. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)
6. Wasted (Def Leppard) ft. Frank Hannon, Jacob Bunton, Dave McClain, Bumblefoot
7. Riff Raff (AC/DC) ft. Jason McMaster, Dave Lombardo
8. Nailed To The Gun (Fight) ft. Andrew Freeman, Russ Parrish, Jimmy DeGrasso
9. Not Fragile (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) ft. John Aquilino
10. Say What You Will (Fastway) ft. Troy Lucketta, Mark Slaughter
11. LOVE Machine (W.A.S.P.) ft. Dirk Verbeuren, Dave Alvin
12. Love Hurts (Nazareth) ft. Brandon Yeagley, Chuck Behler, Tyson Leslie
13. Sheer Heart Attack (Queen) ft. Bumblefoot, Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante
14. Sweet FA (Sweet) ft. Todd Kerns, Bumblefoot, Shani Kimelman
15. TBA
16. TBA
17. Auf Wiedersehen (Cheap Trick) ft. Al Jourgensen, Brandon Yeagley, Charlie Benante

Bonus Tracks
18. Eat The Rich (Krokus) ft. Dead By Wednesday

 

No Cover was co-produced by Ellefson, Hazaert, and Martongelli.  The record was engineered by Alessio Garavello, Matt LaPlant (Nonpoint, Lil Jon, Skindred) and John Aquilino.  Alessio and Garavello mixed the album alongside Randy Burns and others.

Ellefson talked about the record’s genesis in a recent interview.

“Before any of us started writing our own songs, we all began playing cover songs by our heroes during our formative years as musicians,” said Ellefson.  “So, it’s fun to go back in time and revisit those songs which helped us to become the artists we are today, especially when, ironically, many of those artists have now become peers and friends. During the process of recording some covers for B-Sides and bonus tracks for the upcoming Ellefson solo LP, Thom and I just said, “This is a blast, let’s just do a whole album of covers!” Literally, within 2 weeks, we had the songs recorded, and began calling our friends to join us, many of whom we had just performed with on the MEGA-Cruise back in October. From there, the album just fell into place.”

“A lot of our buddies have been playing covers and quarantine jams on the Internet during the pandemic, so this is really just an extension of that, but we took it the next level and actually recorded a full studio album,” he added.” We’ve been working remotely anyway, as we’re all over the Globe, so it was easy to incorporate some guests jumping in with some outstanding performances of their own. It’s been a really fun nod to making great music with our friends, who are kick-ass players, and many legends in their own right, which is the whole reason we got into this in the first place!”

Hazert expanded on Ellefson’s comments with his own thoughts.

“It’s all songs and artists that really mutually influenced both myself and David, especially a lot of early “Metal” and harder Classic Rock,” he said. “Some stuff I picked, some stuff he picked, but for the most part is was all artists that we both loved. What’s funny, as there’s a bit of an age gap, we were sometimes more influenced by different eras of the same bands. But it was really him saying, “Let’s do this song”, and me saying, “Yes!!! And let’s do this song.” And before we knew it, we had over 15 songs. And it’s a lot of album tracks, deep cuts, early tracks, stuff people might not expect, which was what was so fun.”

“It was also great that we were able to work in a lot of nods to David’s [Ellefson] history, getting Chuck Behler to play with us, bringing in original Megadeth guitarist Greg Handevidt to play on “Love Me Like A Reptile”, a song they used to play in cover bands together before they moved to LA (which we wrote about in More Life With Deth), and Randy Burns is going to mix a track or two,” added Hazert.  “As a singer, these are literally bands I’ve listened to, and covered all my life, and for me, getting to play with Eddie Ojeda, the Tesla guys, Charlie Benante, Jason McMaster, Mark Slaughter, etc, and sing these songs that mean so much to me. I mean, literally, the entire record is my bucket list of people I’d love to play with, and some of my favorite bands. So, it’s truly an honor to put together something so fun, and really as effortless as this was. It truly is a love letter to Rock N’ Roll, an homage to what made us, musically, who we are today.”

Ellefson resurrected Combat Records in 2017 as part of the EMP Label Group family.

Combat Records was a seminal punk and thrash record label in the 1980s.  Its doors closed in the mid-2000s after its catalog was absorbed by Sony Music.  Combat Records’ official relaunch took place in 2018.

Ellefson said in an interview in 2017, Combat Records would handle only new music because Sony has control of the label’s back catalog.

“…And to clarify, we do not own any rights to the Combat Records back catalog,” Ellefson stressed. “That is owned and controlled by Sony, and they have done a great job of curating it through other imprints. Combat Records will solely focus on new releases under the Combat banner. As always, thank you for your support and stay tuned for more details!”

More information on Combat Records, along with its latest news, is available online now

at:

Websitehttp://www.combatrecs.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/combatrecordsofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/combatrecs

\

Ellefson is scheduled to release its debut full-length studio recording in spring 2021.  More information on Ellefson is available along with all of the group’s latest news at:

 

Websitehttp://davidellefson.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/davidellefson

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ellefsondavid

 

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.

‘NOVA: Look Who’s Driving’ Will “Drive” Plenty Of Discussion Among Audiences

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

Just because we can, should we?  That is the basis of Look Who’s Driving, another new episode from PBS’ hit science-based series NOVA.  Having originally premiered on PBS last year, the episode was released on DVD in January.  The hour-long episode is an insightful look at the evolving technology of driverless vehicles and the divide that it has created among proponents and opponents.  That story and how the topic is examined serve as the foundation for this episode of NOVA and will be addressed shortly.  The program’s pacing plays its own part in its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  Keeping all of this in mind, the DVD’s average price point proves just as much a positive as the DVD’s other noted items.  It will also be discussed later.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Look Who’s Driving a presentation that paints a thorough picture of the future of transportation on America’s roads.

NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is a thorough and rich examination of the possible future of transportation on America’s roads as it relates to automated vehicles.  The story featured within this documentary opens with the story of a bicyclist who was killed when an automated car hit the cyclist, who was walking with her bicycle across the road while the car’s driver was busy looking at her cell phone.  From that point on, the discussion begins on the growing presence of automated vehicles on the nation’s roads and the issue of responsibility that drivers have as they ride in the vehicles.  Audiences will be interested to see just how many companies are working to this day, to create fully autonomous vehicles.  Additionally, brief comments are made through the story about not only safety concerns, but also concerns about the potential economic and ecological impacts of increasing numbers of automated vehicles on the planet.  Again, these notes are brief, so they make for a good starting point on deeper discussions on said topics, but the bigger discussion featured in the story is whether there is a place or even a need for autonomous vehicles.  Officials with many of the companies that are working to create said vehicles are interviewed throughout the course of the program.  While they allege that autonomous vehicles will make the nation’s (and world’s) roads safer and driving easier, none of those noted officials ever actually provide any solid proof to support their allegations.  Officials with two companies – Uber and Tessla – declined to take part in the investigatory program, as is noted in the documentary.  Ironically, those companies are the ones whose vehicles were shown to have been involved in at least a handful of fatal wrecks that involved automated vehicles.  The opponents to self-driving vehicles are also interviewed, so there is no bias featured in this documentary.  Their comments and the hard evidence shown throughout the program showing all of the complications that companies face in trying to make automated vehicles a full reality prevents anyone from trying to claim bias one way or the other here.  Keeping all of this in mind, the program’s central story in itself more than ensures audiences’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  It is just one part of what makes the program such an interesting presentation.  The program’s pacing adds to the episode’s strength.

The pacing of NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is important to note in its own right, as it is a counterpoint of sorts to the extensive discussion that takes place throughout the course of this episode of NOVA.  There is a lot of data presented throughout the episode that explains all of the concerns related to the matter of self-driving cars.  From the stories of people connected to the noted fatal, incidents to the clearly pointed concerns about cars not being fully intelligent – this in itself can lead to discussions on concerns about computers going from being AI to sentient, especially with the concept of “training” computers that run said vehicles – to the economic and ecological concerns, a lot of ground is covered here.  Add in the arguments made by the proponents of self-driving vehicles and even more ground is covered, even without any real substantive evidence supporting their allegations.  Considering all that is presented on both sides of the overall discussion, there is so much to follow.  Luckily, those behind the episode’s editing and general writing served to keep its pacing solid from start to end.  The result is a program that flows cleanly from one discussion point to another throughout the episode, and in turn ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment that much more.  Keeping all of this in mind, the pacing works with the episode’s story and proves without doubt, the program’s overall success.  While the episode’s overall content leaves zero doubt as to its success, said content is not all that will appeal to audiences.  The DVD’s average price point rounds out its most important elements.

The DVD’s average price point is right at $19.  That price is obtained by averaging prices from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  While some of the listings — $14.98 at Amazon and Target; $17.55 at Walmart; $17.99 at Best Buy – are below the noted average price, others — $19.99 at PBS’ store; $22.74 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and $24.99 at Books-a-Million – exceed that point.  Considering that PBS’ listing is just barely over the average price point, it is still relatively affordable, meaning once more, the listings at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million are once again the most expensive.  The other listings are all prices that audiences will not mind paying, considering again that noted average price point.  They are price listings that will not break any viewer’s budget.  What’s more, considering the fact that the overall program will remain timely for the foreseeable future, this means that it is a DVD that audiences will not find themselves selling away or even donating.  Keeping that in mind, this price point once again proves without doubt why, coupled with the program’s content, the DVD is well worth the purchase and the watch.  It will certainly “drive” plenty of people to start their own discussions on the topic, leading it to be one more of this year’s top new documentaries.

NOVA: Look Who’s Driving is a presentation that is well worth viewing.  It covers a very hot button issue without all of the typical talking head figures.  Yes, the proponents are there from the companies that are working to create autonomous vehicles, and so are their opponents.  It’s not one of those typical news style talking head programs.  Rather, it is a full-on investigative piece whose overall story will keep viewers watching through that presentation style.  The program’s pacing adds even more reason for audiences to watch.  The DVD’s relatively affordable price point rounds out its most important elements.  It is a point that will not break audiences’ budgets.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the DVD’s presentation.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Look Who’s Driving one more of this year’s top new documentaries.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available at:

 

Websitehttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/NOVApbs

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/novapbs

 

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 http:///philspicks.wordpress.com.

Red Voodoo Debuts ‘Rise Up!’ Video

Independent rock band Red Voodoo made its official debut over the weekend.

The band debuted the video for its first-ever single ‘Rise Up!’ Friday.  the video finds the band members — Dino McCord (vocals, guitar), Davin Loiler (guitar), Andrew Edwards (bass) and Nick Pesely (drums) — performing their new single in a quiet, rural setting.  The band catches a ride in the back of a vintage pickup truck to get to its performance spot.

The vintage truck  and simple setting tie into the song’s musical arrangement, which itself classic and simple in style.  The arrangement takes audiences back to the 1980s with its vocal delivery style, drums and guitars.  Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon produced the song.

The song’s lyrical theme is meant to uplift audiences, the band said in a collective statement.

“We wrote ‘Rise Up!’ to express our confusion and our feelings during this recent pandemic that turned the world upside down,” the statement reads.  “With the Coronavirus Covid 19 affecting everyone in different ways, we wanted to have a message of hope for all human beings and make people feel better. We feel that music should be a positive uplifting experience and we hope this song will help anyone ‘Rise Up!’ from feeling down.”

Courtesy: Chipster PR

The band added in its statement, it is doing its part to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak through sales of merchandise bundles related to its new single.

“Since our song ‘Rise Up!’ was inspired by social distancing and the current Covid 19 crisis, we felt it would be great to give back to the health care heroes on the front lines and donate proceeds from our ‘Rise Up!’ merchandise to Direct Relief directrelief.org and please visit our website and webstore for more information on how to help,” the band said.

The band’s merchandise bundles include the following:

Limited edition ‘Rise Up!’ artwork

T-shirt

Autographed 8X10 picture from the ‘Rise Up’ photo shoot

Red Voodoo guitar picks

The bundles are available to purchase here.  The song is available to stream and download at the same site.

More information on Red Voodoo’s debut single is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

Website: http://www.Redvoodooband.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RedVoodooMusic

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go 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.

…And So It Begins Is A Good Start For NoMara

Courtesy: Round 2 Records

Courtesy: Round 2 Records

…And So It Begins, the debut EP from NoMara is a fittingly titled first effort from the independent five-piece hard rock act. That is because the band exhibits over the course of its record that it has quite the potential. Speaking in terms of both its musical and lyrical content, it is a good fit with any of the acts currently being played across the country’s major mainstream rock radio stations. The record’s closer ‘Tesla’ is a clear example of that. With its mix of classic hair metal musical content and direct homage to the bands that made the era of big riffs and even bigger hair so…well…big, it proves to be the EP’s anchor. And ‘Cheap Talk’ with its hard rock riffs and lyrics that seem centered on the standard subject of broken relationships, it is an even more radio ready work. The modern hard-rock ballad that is ‘Broken’ could just as easily be used by any radio programmer across the country with its introspective lyrical content and flowing melodies. All three songs could each easily be used to represent the band on any mainstream rock radio station, regardless of said station’s reach. That is not to discount the remaining pair of songs that make up …And So It Begins–‘Sell Out’ and ‘Use Your Love.’ Both of those songs could be used just as easily by the band and by said stations. Regardless of which track(s) are used, it can be said that in whole …And So It Begins is in fact just the beginning for NoMara.

…And So It Begins is just the beginning for NoMara. The debut EP from this independent five-piece hard rock act proves that from its outset to its end. Every one of the five songs that make up the record’s nineteen-minute run time is as radio ready as the others. However in listening through this record, it can easily be said that ‘Tesla,’ the record’s closer is also its anchor. The four and a half-minute song is a musical love letter to the bands that made the age of big hair and even bigger riffs so…well…big. The song’s musical content makes that clear as it throws back to the sound generated by so many of that era’s biggest names including the likes of Motley Crue, Poison, and of course Tesla, thus the name of the song. The song’s lyrical content adds to the homage as front man Kelly Burdge sings in the song’s lead verse, “Didn’t have to be there/See it to believe it/It was one hell of a show/Big city nights/Arena nights/Exploding pyro/Stand in line for days/Gotta find a way I can get front row/Hooked on tasty licks/Catchin’ guitar picks/No matter where there’s room/Best get out of my way/I thank God rock rock ‘n roll every day.” The picture painted by Burdge’s lyrical talents paints such a vivid picture. It will put a smile on the face of anyone that grew up in that era when concerts were just as much about the show as they were about the band. Interestingly enough, Burdge’s own vocal delivery style makes him sound so much like so many of that veteran vocalists that he obviously grew up idolizing. That adds even more punch to the song. And it is just one more part of what makes this song such a strong, solid anchor. The song’s equally bombastic chorus in which Burdge’s band mates–John LeCompt (guitar, vocals), Thad Ables (bass), Josh Grissom (guitar), and Jack Larson (drums)–join in singing, “Just give me one for the money/Two for the show/Three for Tesla/On my radio/I got Poison in my pocket/Woman on my mind/Motley Crue-sin on the wild side/Life ain’t got to rock/Stil livin’ the crazy nights/Won’t get left behind/One for the money/Two for the show/Come on, come on/Who loves rock and roll” adds even more enjoyment to the song. And it doesn’t stop there, either as listeners will note in hearing the rest of the song. All things considered here, ‘Tesla’ proves in whole that it is a solid anchor for NoMara’s new EP and an equally solid choice for a single should radio programmers give the band a chance.

‘Tesla’ shows through its combination of musical and lyrical content that it is a solid anchor for the band’s new EP …And So It Begins, and that it is just as equally solid a choice for a single should radio programmers give the band a chance. It is just one of the radio ready songs on this record that make it in whole a recording that is just the beginning for the band. ‘Cheap Talk’ is another radio ready piece that would serve as a solid representative of the band members’ talents. That is thanks in large part to its musical content, which exhibits hard rock riffs equivalent to songs churned out by the likes of Black Stone Cherry, Hellyeah, and even to a slightly lesser extent, Pop Evil just to name a few. Again, this is in reference mainly to the song’s musical content. Such comparisons are not bad for the band either. It shows even more the band’s ability to hold its own against such bands and other more well-known acts. In regards to the song’s lyrical content, its lead verse along leads one to believe that the song would fit in just as easily with those acts as it paints the picture of being another song rooted in the standard theme of broken relationships. That picture is painted as Burdge sings, “I get the feeling/I’m being lied to/Right from the start I saw the signs/I should have listened/To intuition/Instead I fell face first.” He goes on to sing later, “You tell me you are staying/When you know you aren’t…your talk is cheap and I’m just not sold.” At one point, Burdge’s subject goes so far as to tell his unnamed target to pack up his or her stuff and leave. So considering all of this, it can be inferred that the song is in fact lyrically based in the standard topic of a broken relationship. While it is seemingly standard fare lyrically speaking, the song’s musical approach coupled with Burdge’s lyrical approach makes the song solid. It isn’t one of those oh-woe-is-me style songs that are so prevalent across the musical universe. Rather, the two elements combined paint a picture of someone going through that stage of realization of how much time and effort was wasted being with someone that didn’t care. That frustration is made so clear here. And it makes the song a work to which any listener will be able to relate. It makes clear, once more, why the song is another good addition to the band’s new EP. It is of course still not the only example of how much the band has to offer in its new EP either. ‘Broken’ is one more example of what makes …And So It Begins an interesting listen.

‘Tesla’ and ‘Cheap Talk’ are both good examples of what makes NoMara’s debut EP a good start for the band. They are just a couple of examples of what makes …And So It Begins a good beginning. ‘Broken’ is one more example of what makes it such an interesting listen. It is another good addition to …And So It Begins because it shows the band’s softer side so to speak. It opens with a beautiful, flowing arrangement featuring flowing strings and piano set against Burdge’s equally gentle vocal delivery style and work on acoustic guitar. This lasts perhaps for about ten bars or so before the band really launches into the song’s full hard rock ballad sound. That is just part of what makes the song a guaranteed hit for the band. The song’s lyrical approach adds more to the song’s interest. In regards to its lyrical content, it is that emotional breakup song. But it still is not that standard oh-woe-is-me composition. As Burdge sings in the song’s opening verse, “Daylight has faded/On you and me/Long before our time/As far as I can see/Tell me what to say to you/To bring back yesterday/Cause I’m tired of holding on/When you always walk away.” It becomes clearer that this is another song centered on a broken relationship as Burdge sings in the song’s second verse, “The only thing I have to hold onto/Is a shred of the past/Knowing how to bring you back/And how to make you laugh.” It is pretty obvious here what is being said. This could be someone speaking directly to another in a breakup, or even looking at a picture, thinking these things as he or she prepares to say them to that other person. It could even come as part of the fallout of a breakup. Regardless of before, during, or after, the emotional punch of that combination of music and lyrics throughout makes ‘Broken’ a song that will be both a favorite and a guilty pleasure among listeners and more proof of what makes not only the song but …And So It Begins in whole an interesting listen and a good start for the band.

…And So It Begins is a good start for NoMara. That is evident through both the musical and lyrical content that makes up the body of the record. That is exhibited through the old school hair metal homage that is ‘Tesla,’ the more modern rock sound of ‘Cheap Talk’ and the more emotional makeup of ‘Broken.’ All three songs are clearly radio ready material that could effectively represent the band at any mainstream rock radio station across America. That is not to discount the EP’s remaining songs–‘Sellout’ and ‘Use Your Love.’ Those songs could both be used as singles, too. Regardless of which song(s) is/are chosen it can be said of …And So It Begins in whole that this record is indeed a good start for NoMara. …And So It Begins is available now. It can be ordered online direct from the band’s official website at http://www.nomaramusic.com. The band is currently touring in support of …And So It Begins. The band’s current tour schedule includes a pair of stops in North Carolina October 22nd and 23rd in Murfreesboro and Hickory respectively. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.nomaramusic.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NoMara-62336572326/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nomaramusic

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.

Tesla’s Tenth Album More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Veteran rock band Tesla has maintained its place in the pantheon of rock for nearly three decades. Throughout the course of that time, so many other bands have come and gone leaving little to no mark on the world.  Tesla meanwhile has continued to create memorable songs on its own terms with each one of its albums, increasing its fan base with each album thanks to that continued display of talent and ingenuity on each record.  The band’s latest album, Simplicity, proves that continued ingenuity once again, providing listeners with songs that perfectly match the album’s title both in terms of its music and its lyrics from start to finish.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3’ is proof of that.  The song uses the seemingly endless stream of technological advances seen each year as the basis for a commentary about how technology has done more harm than good for the world.  The equally socially conscious powerhouse rocker ‘Time Bomb’ proves that this band can still hold its own with today’s younger bands and do so with ease for that matter.  Those that might want something softer but still holding some substance need look no further than the moving but still thought provoking ‘Life is a River.’  It’s one more example of how Simplicity more than lives up to its title with its mix of gentle music and inspiring lyrics.  Each one of the songs noted here proves in its own way why Simplicity lives up to its title.  Each one also proves why Simplicity could be a contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.  And that isn’t to discount the album’s other songs, either.  Every song on this record proves those arguments, too.  Together with the songs that are noted, this album proves to be very much a sleeper hit of a record.

Tesla’s new record Simplicity–its tenth overall full length studio effort–is a sleeper hit of a work.  The album mixes deep and thought provoking lyrics in every one of its fourteen total tracks with music that will have fans both on their feet rocking along at some points, and almost shedding tears of joy in others.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3′ is one example of that balance of substance in its lyrics and music together.  Front man Jeff Keith sings in this socially conscious song, “Reachin’ out to a friend in need/Is more important than a text from a cell phone screen/All these sounds of complication/In the cloud communication/Oh my god it’s taking me/From the phonograph record to the MP3/All the world is overrun with technology/Oh my God it seems to me/We gotta get back to simplicity/It’s plain to see/Rewind now!”  Keith makes no bones here about the topic being raised.  He is saying that technology has done more harm to the world than good.  He isn’t necessarily trying to preach and say technology is bad.  Don’t misinterpret that.  What he is saying is that humans have allowed technology to control their lives and the end result being a drastic depersonalization of people’s relationships on every level.  That Keith would present such a deep concept in such a simple (there’s that word again) makes the song the perfect choice to open this album.  The song’s equally simple and accessible musical backing adds to that argument, too.  Both aspects together make ‘MP3’ just part of the argument as to why Simplicity is an aptly titled release and also one of this year’s sleeper hit records.

Tesla’s members–Jeff Keith (vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar, vocals, piano, bass), Dave Rude (guitar, vocals, bass), Brian Wheat (bass, piano, vocals), and Troy Lucketta (drums and percussion)–prove right from the beginning of this record why it more than lives up to its title and why it is one of the year’s sleeper hits, thanks to ‘MP3.’  The combination of the song’s simple to understand yet still deep lyrics alongside its equally simple, accessible musical backing make it the perfect first statement from the band on this record.  Just as strong of an argument in support of Simplicity is ‘Time Bomb.’  This hard rocker is one part social statement and one part call to arms.  Keith sings in this song, “It’s like the lights are on but nobody’s home/There’s no other choice/Just one solution/So load up your guns/Cause freedom is won/It’s time we’ve begun a revolution/We’re ready to fight to save our lives/And willing to die/Oh no.”  He goes on to sing along with his band mates in the song’s chorus, “Let’s go deep into the fire/Screamin’ hell no we ain’t gonna run/Let’s go united all together/Cuz I know divided we’re done.”  He comes across as saying that Americans have got to put all of this political and other turmoil aside; that there are much more important things that unless we band together, will most certainly take us all down thanks to our division.  Just as with ‘MP3,’ that lyrical and musical simplicity serves once again to prove how much Simplicity lives up to its name in more ways than one.  Even more, it proves once more why this record is one of the year’s sleeper hits within the rock world.

Tesla proves throughout the course of Simplicity’s fourteen total tracks just why it lives up to its name with plenty of hard and hard-hitting songs.  That’s evident in the songs already noted and in the likes of the equally socially conscious ‘Flip Side!’   For all of that heavy lyrical and musical content, Simplicity proves that it can be hard and hard-hitting without actually being hard, too.  Case in point is the moving inspirational song ‘Life is a River.’  This song epitomizes the statement made years ago by Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde when he noted that a song can be heavy without actually being heavy in terms of its music.  It presents the message that just because someone sees something one way doesn’t necessarily make it so.  As he notes in the song’s second verse, “What you think is just a dog/Is one of my best friends/What you see as sawed up logs/Is the house that I live in/What you call a pile of stones/Is the foundation of my home/And we all know there’s nothing sweet as home sweet home.”  He is saying that everything in life is a matter of perception.  And that one’s perception is never the same as another’s.  From there, he gets to the core of the song, telling those listeners that might be suffering emotionally for whatever reason, their perception of life being worthless is their own perception and that life is so much more beautiful than they think.  He sings, “You’ve been left out once again/Standing in the rain/Now you feel you’ve reached the end/And you just can’t stand the pain/Even though you still remain/You’re God’s creation/This I know/Cuz’ life can be so beautiful.”  The ballad-style song perfectly builds up to that conclusion, making the song’s lyrical content so hard hitting even in its simplicity.  Once again, there is the argument as to Simplicity more than living up to its title.  The lyrics are simple to understand. And the music is so powerful in its own simplicity.  The two elements together make for one more outstanding statement from Tesla on this sleeper hit of a record.  Together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted directly), Tesla’s members have shown that they still have plenty of fire and that they, too have one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records.

Simplicity shows from start to finish just why it more than lives up to its name.  The lyrics and music that make up each of the album’s fourteen tracks are simple in terms of understanding them and understanding what message they are conveying.  Each of the songs on this record are just as enjoyable thanks to their simple yet wonderfully entertaining music.  That combination makes for so much depth and substance.  That’s something that one can rarely say about albums churned out by today’s younger bands and artists.  Keeping that in mind, it proves Simplicity to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable records and potentially one of the year’s best new rock records.  Simplicity is available in stores and online now. The band currently is scheduled to perform as part of the Monsters of Rock Cruise Miami next spring from April 18th – 22nd.  While fans wait for spring to return, they can keep up with all of the latest tour updates and news from Tesla online at http://www.TESLAtheBand.com.  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.