Nick Phoenix’s New LP Is A Welcome Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Americana Albums

Courtesy: Downtown Music

Singer-songwriter Nick Phoenix released his new album, Wide World late this past Spring through independent record label Downtown Music.  The 11-song record is a mostly successful new collection of neo-Americana works with some very deeply emotional lyrical themes.  One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes late in its run in the form of ‘Which Side You’re On.’  This track will be examined shortly.  ‘Always On,’ which comes early in the album, is another notable addition to the presentation and will be examined a little later.  ‘Tumblin’ Down,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, is another notable entry here.  It will also be examined later.  Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a work that any Americana fan will appreciate.

Wide World, the new album from independent singer-songwriter Nick Phoenix, is a record that will find wide appeal among Americana fans.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.  The record will appeal to his targeted fans from beginning to end with each of its 11 total songs, not the least of which is the late entry, ‘Which Side You’re On.’  The song’s musical arrangement is one part of what makes it so notable.  The pairing of the guitar and piano along with Phoenix’s distinct smoky sounding vocal delivery makes the arrangement so rich in its semi-brooding sense.  Audiences can argue that there’s a sense of melancholy, to be more specific, about the arrangement.  That applies even in the equally rich solos that are exhibited more than once in the four minute-plus composition. 

The sense of melancholy established through the song’s musical arrangement is of note because it helps to enhance the impact of the song’s lyrical theme.  The theme in this case comes across as that of taking pride in who one is, not letting one’s self let external factors shape who one is.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Phoenix sings, “I know it’s providence/I know your ships won’t burn…It’s just a war of words/No one ever said that/You were alone/You’re coming back twice as strong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on/I covered the facts/You were wrong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.”  There is one point in that lead verse that is difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but enough is understandable that this comes across as a subject who is trying to encourage someone else, telling that person that he/she will be okay and will come back, grown from facing adversity.  Phoenix continues in the song’s second verse, “You’ve been the bad wolf/You ate the chickens…you’re gonna try for that/You can’t invent the rules/No one ever said that/You were alone/You’re coming back/Twice as strong/Doesn’t really matter/Which side you’re on/I covered the facts/ You were wrong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.”  Yet again, this seems like a commentary of sorts about people being people and simply ignoring those people and living life.  That is, again, just this critic’s interpretation.  If in fact it is the correct interpretation, then it goes without saying it is an original way to address a familiar topic.  The mention of getting in a lifeboat and being “a sidenote”, reminding the listener that despite that “you’ll come back twice as strong” is even more of that seeming motivation.  Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation.  The melancholy mood set through the song’s arrangement helps to put listeners in the shoes of the person to whom the subject is speaking, making for even more connection for listeners.  To that end, the song in whole proves itself a strong addition to the album and just one of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Always On’ is yet another notable entry in this presentation.

‘Always On’ presents a musical arrangement that is subdued and contemplative in its nature.  The melancholy mood that it sets through its dual guitar approach and familiar rhythmic pattern from the drums.  The guitar solo that comes late in the song’s run is a full-on classic rock performance even in its subtlety that will certainly engage and entertain audiences.  The mood set here works well with the song’s seeming lyrical theme.

The seeming lyrical theme features here is that of someone who knows that he worries constantly, yet through it all has that someone there to help him get through it all and put up with his nonstop negativity.  The mood in the song’s musical arrangement serves to illustrate the feelings going through the subject’s mind as he is saying those words to that other person.  It makes for its own share of interest and in turn makes the song stand out even more.  It is just one more of the songs that makes Wide World appealing.  ‘Tumblin’ Down’ is yet another notable addition to the album.

‘Tumblin’ Down’ presents an arrangement that is completely unlike those of its counterparts throughout the album.  Right from the opening, the simple guitar line, vocals, and drums present something of a neo-classic rock vibe that shows influences of The Beatles while still boasting its own identity.  On another hand, audiences can just as easily argue that there is an influence from Tom Petty here, too.  Those listeners would be right, too.  Having influence from two of the greatest and most respected acts in modern music history says a lot.  That Phoenix uses those influences to craft a song that stands on its own merits in the process makes for even more respect for him and this arrangement.  It works with the song’s lyrical content to make for even more overall engagement and entertainment.

The lyrical content here is sure to generate its own share of interest.  Phoenix sings early on of seeing how good it is outside, but not being able to manage, and basically feeling like everything around is “tumbling down.”  The declaration that “You wanted to win/So you wagered it all/Now you’ve gotta make it up” adds to the message here.  It almost comes across as Phoenix saying here that people put themselves into negative situations.  That is, of course, just this critic’s interpretation of the bigger picture here.  If in fact that is the case with the theme here, then the contrast of that to the mood set through the arrangement makes for even more interest.  To that end, it becomes another clear example of what makes Wide World worth hearing.  When this song is considered along with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Wide World a welcome addition to this year’s field of new Americana records.

Wide World, the new album from Nick Phoenix, is a work that most Americana finds will agree is worth hearing.  That is proven from start to end thanks to its musical and lyrical content alike.  All three of the songs examined here make that clear.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a work that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.

Wide World is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Nick Phoenix’s latest news at:

Website: https://nickphoenix.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nickphoenixartist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickphoenix10

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

Home Release Date Announced For ‘The Beatles and India’

Courtesy: MVD Entertainment Group

Renoir Pictures and Silva Screen’s documentary, The Beatles and India will come home this summer.

The documentary is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-ray June 21 through MVD Entertainment Group. The documentary’s home release will come more than a year after it made its theatrical debut at the UK Asian Film Festival.

The documentary focuses on the impact that Indian culture had on The Beatles’ music. It follows the band’s journey to Rishikesh, India in 1968 and how the Fab Four’s journey changed them and their journey. The doc was inspired by author Ajoy Bose’s book, Across The Universe – The Beatles in India, produced by British Indian music businessman Reynold D’Silva and directed by Bose.

The documentary’s soundtrack was released in March through Silva Screen Records. The doc’s DVD presentation is expected to retail for MSRP of $19.95 and its Blu-ray presentation for MSRP of $24.95. Each can be ordered here.

More information on this and other titles from MVD Entertainment Group is available online at:

Websitehttp://mvdentertainment.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/MVDEntertainmentGroup

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/mvdentgroup

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.

Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance’s ‘Awakening’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s New Live Recordings Field

Courtesy: Zoho Music

Veteran jazz saxophonist Marco Pignataro opened April with the release of a new live recording in the form of Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening. Recorded in July 2021 at Boston’s GBH Fraser Studio with his fellow musicians, Kenny Werner (piano, vocals), Nadia Washington (vocals, guitar), and Devon Gates (bass, vocals), the performance was a virtual concert. Now nine months after it was captured, that concert has come home on CD through Zoho Music. It is certain to appeal to Pignataro’s established audiences and very targeted jazz audiences. That is due in part to the concert’s set list, which will be discussed shortly. The concert’s production is just as noteworthy as its set list, and will be examined a little later. The concert’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make the concert a presentation that jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

Marco Pignataro’s Dream Alliance: Awakening, the new live recording from Marco Pignataro, is a unique live presentation from the veteran jazz saxophonist and his fellow musicians. That is proven in part through its featured set list. The set list is composed of a variety of originals, covers and even spoken word pieces whose run times bring the record’s run time to more than 50 minutes. The spoken word songs are performed by Washington with poems that were crafted by Pignataro. Pignataro and company meanwhile, offer light, subtle, original musical backings for each performance. The whole of those moments will lead audiences to conjure thoughts of those hipster night clubs where just such performances would take place. The only difference is that the bongos and people with black berets would be replaced with people of much higher class. Just as interesting to note is that the spoken word performances are short, the longest clocking in at only two minutes, eight seconds. So in reality, they are their own performances, but at the same time, serve double duty as interludes, so to speak, within the concert’s bigger picture. Their addition within the record, to that end, makes them their own interesting aspect.

The covers featured in the set list meanwhile, are important in their own right. Their number is limited to just four, but they are quite well-known works in themselves. One of the covers, that of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Send One Your Love’ opens the record. The group’s performance here is even more relaxed than Wonder’s original, which itself is subdued in its own approach. Washington’s R&B-tinged vocal approach does so well in the place of Wonder, while the omission of any drums in this case actually improves on the original. The subtle use of the guitar alongside her vocal delivery is a clear illustration that less can be and is so much more. Even the occasional accents from Pignataro on the soprano sax makes for its own touch. The whole makes for an interesting presentation in its own right.

Touching on the recording’s originals, ‘Farfallina’ is among the most notable tracks. It is notable in part because while it is centered on one of Pignataro’s poems, it is not presented as one of the concert’s spoken word performances. Washington actually sings the lines composed by Pignataro, singing about a butterfly, which of course is a metaphorical term here. The pairing of Pignataro’s performance on the saxophone and that of Werner on the piano along with the vocal layering incorporated at times — which makes for an interesting call and response effect — makes the overall performance quite unique in its own right. When it and the other originals are considered along with the covers and the spoken word tracks, the whole of the concert’s set list gives audiences reason enough in itself to take in the virtual concert. Of course the set list is just part of what makes the recording worth hearing. The concert’s production adds its own touch to the appeal of its presentation.

The production that went into Awakenings is of note because again, the concert was recorded and presented sans audience. That means those responsible for the sound mix did not have that crowd noise to balance with the musicians. In its absence, those responsible for the production still had to ensure that the musicians’ performances were balanced within the confines of the performance space and the acoustics therein. The utmost attention was clearly paid to balancing each instrument with its counterpart. The painstaking work that went into balancing that audio paid off, as the noted audiences will find this aspect just as positive as the mix of content in the concert’s set list.

Awakenings‘ packaging rounds out its most important elements. The packaging refers here, to the overall content provided with the recording. On the back of the package, the covers and originals are denoted with credit for the covers give to their original acts. The originals are credited to the group, and those within the group. Case in point, Werner composed the late entry, ‘Inspiration,’ and is given his due credit. The Beatles (specifically, John Lennon and Paul McCartney) composed ‘Because,’ one of the concert’s featured covered. They receive their own credit. Giving credit where due not only is a legal issue, but also ensures audiences know which songs are originals and which are covers right off the bat.

Also within the packaging are liner notes pointing out that each of the featured works (musical and spoken word alike) follow one theme, that of love in each form. From romantic to familial and other, the liner notes within the package let audiences know that the songs’ focus was intentional from one to the next. The liner notes also explain the use of the poems in the spoken word performances, making for appreciation for those moments, too. Speaking of the poems that Pignataro wrote, they are presented as part of the overall packaging, too. Keeping that in mind along with the rest of the information provided in the packaging, the whole of this element clearly shows this element’s importance to the recording’s presentation, too. When this element is considered along with the rest of the recording’s items, the whole makes Awakenings a unique addition to this year’s field of new live recordings.

Marco Paignataro’s Dream Alliance’s Awakening is an intriguing live recording. Its interest comes in part through its set list. The set list features a combination of originals, covers, and spoken word songs. The combination of songs is unique in itself. The production that went into the virtual performance ensures the concert’s sound is just as appealing to the noted targeted audiences as the songs themselves. The packaging puts the final touch to the recording, rounding out its most important elements. Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Awakening a presentation that Pignataro’s audiences and specific jazz audiences will find appealing.

Awakening is available through Zoho Music. More information on the record is available along with all of Marco Pignataro’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.marcopignataro.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Marcopignatarojazz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarcoPignataro

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

‘The Beatles And India’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Soundtracks

Courtesy: Silva Screen Records

When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison took a trip to India in 1968, the quartet’s journey — a virtual pilgrimage of sorts — became the stuff of legends, so to speak. The group’s trip remains talked about among audiences even today, so much so that it became the topic of the newly released streaming documentary, The Beatles and India. Produced by British Indian music businessman Reynold D’Silva and directed by author Ajoy Bose, the documentary started streaming through Britbox Feb. 15 and was accompanied by a two-disc soundtrack that will appeal to a wide range of fans. The soundtrack will appeal to a wide range of audiences first and foremost because of its general presentation, which will be discussed shortly. The distinctly different sounds featured in the overall soundtrack plays its own key part in the recording’s presentation. It will be discussed a little later. The soundtrack’s packaging rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the soundtrack’s presentation. All things considered, they make this collection of songs quite the unique entry among this year’s field of new soundtracks.

Silva Screen Records’ newly released soundtrack to the rock-umentary, The Beatles and India, is a presentation that will find appeal among a wide range of audiences. Those audiences are not limited to just fans of The Beatles, but also fans of World Music and even modern classical. That is due in no small part to the recording’s general presentation. The general presentation presents not just one collection of songs, but two. The unique covers of so many classic songs from The Beatles featured in The Beatles and India are accompanied by the completely different instrumental tracks that are also used throughout the documentary. This is important to note because presenting both the soundtracks in one set is so rare when it comes to such presentations. More often than not, the standard for record labels is to split soundtracks — whether from movies or documentaries — into two separate presentations, and charging audiences twice to get them. In this case, audiences are essentially getting two soundtracks in one setting for the average price of one. The average price point for the collection is $20.55. That price point is reached by averaging prices at Amazon, Walmart, Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. It was not listed through Target and Best Buy at the time of this review’s posting. Considering this price point against the offering of two soundtracks in one, this set’s general presentation proves to be a strong starting point in examining the overall soundtrack.

Keeping in mind the note that the overall presentation offers audiences the documentary’s instrumental and covers side of things in one set, this duality is important because it offers audiences who might not have otherwise listened to one side or the others the means to give that other side the chance. For others who might already have a wide range of musical tastes, it brings that all together, again. The instrumental soundtrack is welcome because it really serves as its own foundation for quiet meditation, what with its strings arrangements opposite the penny whistle and other instruments. Each song boasts its own identity separate from its counterparts yet is so calming in its own right. On the other side, audiences get what are unquestionably some of the most unique covers of hits from The Beatles to ever receive any play. Case in point is Vishal Dadlani’s take of ‘Revolution.’ The fuzzed sound of the original is still there in this case. What sets it apart from the original is that it presents the song in more of a bluesy, almost stoner rock style. It is close to the original, but still unique, as can be heard through a close listen. On another note, Dhruv Ghanekar’s take of ‘Love You To’ brings out the original song’s Indian influence far more than the original. Where the original blends the two elements together, Ghanekar’s rendition focuses much more on those leanings. Ghanekar’s vocal styling is notably different from that of Lennon, too, adding to the contrast in the two renditions. It’s another example of the importance of the actual content in the soundtrack. When these examples are considered along with all of the full, instrumental score, and with the rest of the unique covers featured in this collection, the whole proves to offer audiences so much reason in itself to hear this soundtrack, whether they are fans of The Beatles, World Music, modern classical or a mix of all three. Add in that all of this unique music is joined in one setting and at an affordable price, all of that strengthens this soundtrack’s appeal even more. Even with all of that in mind, it still is not all that makes the soundtrack stand out. The set’s packaging rounds out its most important elements.

The packaging is important to examine because of its ergonomic design. Both discs are placed on either side of a foldout plate inside the case, which is the size of one that holds a single disc. While this does still happen today with packaging, it seems increasingly rare, with many labels opting instead for the more bulky, gatefold packaging. Yes, the plastic “plate” on which the two discs rest does have a chance of breaking, no packaging is perfect. For true audiophiles, having this space saving design will find its own share of appeal. It means that the noted audiences will get two separate soundtracks full of unique musical presentations at a relatively affordable average price point, and with packaging that will save at least some space on their racks. All of this combined makes this soundtrack that much more of a win for the label and for audiences.

Silva Screen Records’ recently released soundtrack to The Beatles and India is a welcome presentation among this year’s field of new soundtracks. It has a lot to appreciate, beginning with its general presentation. The general presentation does something that few if any other soundtracks do. It brings the documentary’s two separate soundtracks into one housing and does so at a relatively affordable average price point. The separate listings are themselves even below that average price point. The unique musical presentations within each soundtrack make for even more interest because of their originality. The set’s packaging rounds out the most important of its elements. That is because it is so ergonomic. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the soundtrack. All things considered, they make The Beatles and India‘s soundtrack a standout offering in this year’s field of new soundtracks.

The Beatles and India‘s soundtrack is available now. More information on the soundtrack and other titles from Silva Screen Records at:

Website: https://www.silvascreen.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilvaScreenRecords

Twitter: https://twitter.com/silvascreen

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

‘1221’ Marks Another Success For Singer-Songwriter-Musician Ryan Hamilton

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Independent singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton made a big splash last year with his album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere alongside his band, The Harlequin Ghosts.  Now more than a year after the record’s release, Hamilton is scheduled to return Friday with its follow-up, his new solo record, 1221.  With barely more than a month left in the quickly aging year, most critics will agree the 12-song record has shaken up their lists of the year’s top new independent albums.  That is proven from the beginning to end of the 42-minute presentation through its musical and lyrical content alike.  ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ is a prime example of the strength of that collective content.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Babies’ is another way in which the record’s overall content shows the album’s appeal.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Ready To Love Again,’ is yet another example of how much this record has to offer audiences.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other two songs noted her and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole shows the record to be unquestionably one more of the year’s top new independent albums.

More than a year after the release of his then latest album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere (which made its way to this critic’s list of 2020’s top new independent albums), Ryan Hamilton is set to go two for two with his new solo record, 1221.  Composed of singles that he released over the course of 2021, the record is yet another example of Hamilton’s talent as a singer, songwriter, and musician.  This is proven from beginning to end of this nearly 45-minute presentation from early on in its run.  ‘Déjà vu I Love You’ is a prime way in which this is proven.  The song’s appeal comes in part through its musical arrangement, which takes audiences back to the 90s right from its outset.  The combination of Hamilton’s vocals and the song’s instrumentation immediately lends the arrangement to comparison to works from the likes of Weezer, Marcy Playground, and so many other pop rock acts that rose to fame during the mid-90s.  The vocal harmonies and those crated by the bass and guitar are infectious from the song’s opening notes to its end.  The production that went into the song gives the whole, including the work on drums and bass, such a rich presentation.  Again, the whole is certain to completely engage and entertain audiences throughout the song’s three minute-plus run time.  The upbeat energy and positive vibes established through the arrangement work well with the song’s lyrical theme, which is the familiar topic of love found.

The theme of love found is obvious in ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ right in the song’s title.  It is even more so as Hamilton sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “A slow dance/In the fast lane/The romance/The pleasure and the pain/You put your heart up/But then it fell/Because it feels right/Man, it’s heaven/But it’s how you make a promise/And you keep it/You wanna shout it/But it’s a secret/Hey, you got it wrong, man/But it’s right now/You can’t help it/You’re gonna shout it out loud/Baby, I love you/Baby, I love you/You give me déjà vu/Baby, I love you.”  If that is not proof enough of this song’s theme, then nothing is.  The rest of the song follows similarly in its lyrical theme, so there is really no need to continue from there.  Again, this so excited mood that is exemplified here matches so well with the energy and mood in the song’s arrangement.  When all of this is paired together, it makes the song a clear example of how much the album overall has to offer through its content.  ‘Babies’ is another example of the impact of the album’s content on its appeal.

‘Babies’ is quite opposite of ‘Déjà Vu I Love You’ both musically and lyrically.  Where the prior song is so optimistic and happy, this song’s musical arrangement is more of a folk-pop style composition in its musical arrangement.  In listening to this song’s arrangement, one can’t help but wonder if Hamilton perhaps took some influence from John Lennon and/or The Beatles or maybe even some from Bob Dylan and/or Bruce Springsteen here.  The arrangement has that sort of neo pop-folk approach in its light, contemplative mood and mid-tempo energy.  There is a sense of melancholy here, but it is not so strong that it will bring anyone down.  Rather, it is a contemplative melancholy that matches its lyrical counterpart well in its own right.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Babies’ is a social commentary, despite what its title might infer.  It is a commentary about the state of the world today.  This is made clear right from the song’s outset as Hamilton sings, “Little babies/In bathrooms/Getting high/Little babies/In little cars/Flying by/Geneation X/Generation Y/The world’s so hard sometimes/It makes me cry/And where we are/That’s where we will be/Everything changes as far as I can see/But one thing stays the same/Everybody’s always looking for someone to blame.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Little babies holding whips/Sinking boats and building ships/And bright, blue buildings in the sky/And never wondering/Why/God made it all to be destroyed/Every baby girl and every baby boy/Everything you do is safe/The only thing you’ll ever have is today.”  The added notes of “little babies looking for flags to burn” and everybody being afraid adds even more to that commentary. The fully, straight forward fashion in which Hamilton delivers the commentary avoids any preachy nature while still presenting so much depth.  It makes the song so much more accessible even with the theme being so familiar across the musical universe.  That, considered along with the song’s arrangement, makes for even more accessibility and in turn shows that much more what makes 1221 in whole such an enjoyable presentation.  It is hardly the last of the record’s most notable songs.  ‘Ready To Love Again,’ the record’s closer is yet another of the most notable of the album’s songs.

‘Ready To Love Again’ is notable because as with the other songs examined here, its arrangement does so well to engage and entertain audiences.  The arrangement’s sound and instrumentation does just as well to help translate the mood and wording in the song’s lyrical theme.  As the song’s title infers, this is a song about someone who is apparently coming off of the heartbreak of a breakup.  Everybody who has ever been through a breakup knows the emotional difficulty of opening his/her heart back to love.  The somber tone exhibited by the simplicity of Hamilton’s vocals and the piano here does so well to translate those mixed emotions that one feels when they “might be ready to love again.”  The gentle tone from the cello alongside the piano adds even more emotional depth to the arrangement and translates that mood and mindset that so many people feel in this situation.  Kudos to Hamilton and all involved for their work here.  It made this arrangement so beautiful and powerful in its simplicity.

As noted, the lyrical theme that accompanies the musical arrangement in ‘Ready To Love Again’ is in fact about that very topic, being at that point of being cautiously ready to give love a chance again.  He translates that moment so well here lyrically, too as he sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Built a big wall/One that won’t fall/I hope you’re real strong/Good luck getting’ through here/I’ve got a big heart/It’s covered in big scars/We’ve all got our reasons/And sad stories to tell/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again.  He continues in the song’s second verse, “No more small talk/Let’s go for a long walk/Take my hand/And hold on tight/Broken hearted/But just getting started/I know you’ve got questions/And to tell you the truth/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again/I think I might be ready/Think I might be ready to love again.”  The cautious optimism that Hamilton’s subject expresses here will connect with any listener.  The manner in which he delivered that optimism through the song’s lyrical presentation is just so moving, along with the song’s musical arrangement.  When the two items are joined, they show even more clearly at this point why this song stands out among the album’s entries.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of 1221 becomes a work that is a complete joy and success from start to end.  It is a presentation that as with its predecessor, is among the best of the year’s new independent albums.

Ryan Hamilton’s new, forthcoming album 1221 is another strong new offering from the singer-songwriter-musician.   It has much to offer audiences both in its musical and lyrical content.  The songs examined here do well to support the noted statements.  They openly exemplify the accessibility of that content and the entertainment that said accessibility generates, too.  The same applies to the record’s other songs, too.  All things considered, the content examined here and that which makes up the rest of this album makes the record another successful offering from Hamilton that is among the best of this year’s new independent albums.

1221 is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Ryan Hamilton’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://ryanhamiltonmusic.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/RyanHamiltonandTheHarlequinGhosts

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/TheRyanHamilton

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.

Jon Snodgrass Releases New, Free, Live Recording; Announces New Live Dates

Courtesy: A-F Records

Jon Snodgrass’ new live recording is available now.

The recording, Tace – Live at the Social Sanctuary released Friday through all major digital outlets. It is available free for everyone and follows last October’s release of Snodgrass’ latest album, Tace. The record is a compilation of covers that pays tributes to Snodgrass’ influences, such as The Beatles, Husker Du, and Cheap Trick.

Snodgrass was joined by a variety of well-known and respected figures for the recording of Tace. Among those who joined Snodgrass for the compilation were Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), Joey Cape (Lagwagon, Bad Astronaut), and Stephen Egerton (Descendants, ALL).

TaceLive at the Social Sanctuary comes from Snodgrass’ October 2020 performance at the noted venue in Los Angeles, CA. The concert’s audio was mixed and mastered over the course of this summer.

Said Snodgrass of the recording’s free release, “We’re basically putting this live album out for free so folks know what to expect this fall and are stoked and tell their friends. Also, this was the only rock show that we played last year.”

Courtesy: Night Owl PR

In other news, Snodgrass is scheduled to take his album out on the road starting Sept. 2 in San Diego, CA. The tour is scheduled to run through Oct. 31 in Gainesville, FL. It features performances in cities, such as Atlanta, GA; Minneapolis, MN and Santa Cruz, CA.

More information on Tace is available along with all of Jon Snodgrass’ latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.jonsnodgrass.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/JonSnodgrassMusic

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Ribler’s New Album Is Awaiting And Deserves Attention From Audiences, Radio Stations Nationwide

Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Marc Ribler has made quite the name for himself over the course of his career, having worked with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zant, and Paul McCartney.  Now this Friday, Ribler is poised to take a big step forward in his career, going from a supporting role to that of front man with his new solo album, The Whole World Awaits You.  The record, which has already produced three successful singles, could make Ribler a star in his own right given the right support as those singles show.  They are just a few of the songs that serve to support the noted statements.  ‘Without You,’ one of the album’s late entries, serves in its own way to show the album’s strength.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Manzanillo,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another example of how much the record has to offer.  It will be examined a little later.  ‘This Is How The Song Goes,’ the album’s finale, is another example of the album’s appeal. It will also be discussed later.  Each of the songs noted here does its own part to show why The Whole World Awaits You is appealing.  When they are considered with the album’s existing trio of singles and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album a “whole” win for Marc Ribler and audiences alike.

Marc Ribler’s forthcoming solo album The Whole World Awaits You is a wholly successful new offering from the veteran singer/songwriter/guitarist.  The album’s existing trio of singles goes a long way to support that statement.  They are only some of the songs that show how much the album has to offer audiences.  ‘Without You,’ which comes late in the album’s 12-song run, is also of note.  The song’s musical arrangement is an instantly infectious composition that lends itself to comparison to works from Train just as much as from Tom Petty.  Yes, those are two completely opposing acts, but are more alike than not, as this song shows.  That is evidenced through the light use of the organ alongside the vocals and the equally subtle guitar, percussion and drums.  The whole is a composition that is one of the album’s most radio ready works. 

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Without You’ does a lot to make the song appealing, and is just part of what makes it engaging and entertaining.  The lyrical theme that accompanies the musical arrangement builds on that appeal even more.  While the song’s title and some of its lyrics make it seem like a love song, the rest of the song proves to be more than just that.  It also presents a social commentary of sorts in the song’s chorus that shames people on both sides of the aisle so to speak.  That is evidenced as Ribler sings, “I don’t want to live in a world where everyone has an empty heart/I don’t want to live in a world where it still matters what color you are/I don’t want to live in a place where they watch every thing you say and do/I don’t want to live in a world without you.”  On the one hand, yes, the romance aspect is there.  At the same time, Ribler uses the opportunity to comment on the negative place that the world has reached; that place where we have to be so careful about every single thing that we say and do, and where our skin color still sadly matters so much.  The romance aspect becomes more pronounced in the song’s lead verse, in which the song’s subject pronounces his/her love for that other person.  This is made clear as Ribler sings, “Your love runs deep for me/Shows up in most everything/You lose your way and you fall down/I’ll be the one that you can count on/Help you understand/I’ll always be right there/You can let your feelings flow.”  This is Ribler’s subject saying that things are bad in the world, but he/she will be there for that other person.  It is a familiar lyrical topic in pop music, and is just as familiar in this case.  The adoration for that other person continues in the song’s second verse and bridge, as the song’s subject praises and thanks that other person for being there.  That accessible lyrical them and equally accessible musical arrangement is just as much of a positive addition to this album as the record’s singles.  It is just one of so many examples of how much the album has to offer audiences, too.  ‘Manzanillo,’ which comes just past the album’s midpoint, is another example of the album’s strength.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Manzanillo’ makes the song stand out because it stands out in itself.  Whereas so much of the music featured in The Whole World Awaits You blurs the line between neo-classical, Americana, pop and rock, this song’s arrangement is a distinctly Latin-tinged composition.  The dual guitar line, horns, and drums work with the claves to take listeners to Cuba from years ago.  Meanwhile, Ribler’s vocal delivery maintains a more American pop sound and stylistic approach.  The whole here is so infectious in its own right.  When it pairs with the song’s lyrical theme, the two elements make the song even more engaging and entertaining.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Manzanillo’ itself comes across as a tribute to the history of the Latin culture.  This is inferred as Ribler makes mention of the ancient Mesoamerican peoples and their culture.  He even makes mention of history repeating itself if we are not careful, perhaps making reference to how those cultures were wiped out and how our current world is doing itself in, too.  This is all this critic’s own interpretation of course.  His mention of his mother coming to him in a dream and warning about thing happening “in this land” lends itself even more to that inference.  Considering all of this, the song’s lyrical theme definitely stands out from its counterparts in this album.  That originality and identity pairs with the unique presence of the song’s musical arrangement to make the song stand out even more, as a key addition to the album.  It is just one more way in which the album shows its strength.  ‘This Is How The Song Goes,’ which closes out the album, is yet another example of what makes Ribler’s new album stand out.

The musical arrangement in ‘This Is How The Song Goes’ is just as unique as those in the songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s songs.  To a certain point, the blues, almost psychedelic approach and sound here conjures thoughts of The Doors.  At the same time, listeners can also argue that there is a hint of influence from The Beatles in the song’s arrangement, considering the strings and vocal harmonies.  Once again, it is completely unlike anything else featured in this record, making even clearer the importance of the album’s musical content.  The song’s musical arrangement is just one part of its identity.  Its lyrical theme is just as unique.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘This Is How The Song Goes’ is just as thought-provoking as the song’s musical arrangement.  It opens with Ribler singing, “A tree fell in the forest with no sound/Some things go up/But don’t come down/Tomorrow’s just a day we’ll leave behind/Only precious time…” What follows is difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference considering the overly subtle way in which Ribler sings here, but what is understandable shows the deep metaphorical language that Ribler uses here.  The mention of things being “in your dreams” in the song’s chorus is just as metaphorical even when the song’s lyrics can be deciphered.  That what little can be deciphered is itself cryptic is interesting enough.  When the rest of the song can be deciphered, the whole proves just as cryptic, ensuring even more engagement and discussion.  That engagement and discussion pairs with the song’s equally interesting musical arrangement to make the song in whole yet another clear example of why The Whole World Awaits You deserves so much attention.  When the song in whole is considered with the other songs examined here, the album’s singles, and the rest of its works, the whole makes the album a powerful new outing for Marc Ribler that could be the start of a very big career for him, given the right support.

Marc Ribler’s forthcoming solo album, The Whole World Awaits You is a presentation that is awaiting and deserves attention from audiences and radio stations nationwide.  It is a unique presentation that shows Ribler, who has spent so much of his career as a supporting musician to bigger names, is ready to take his own place in the limelight.  That is proven through each of the album’s singles and the songs examined here.  The album’s remaining songs serve just as much to support the noted statements.  Between the record’s unique (and accessible) musical arrangements and equally accessible lyrical content, the whole offers audiences much to appreciate.  All things considered, the album proves itself to be among the best of this year’s new independent albums.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Wicked Cool Records.

More information on Marc Ribler’s new album is available along with all of his latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.marcribler.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/marcribler

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Grown-Ups Will Enjoy The Story Pirates’ New Album As Much As Children

Courtesy: Face Cake Records

Whether one is a parent, educator, or just music lover, one cannot deny that family music albums are constantly some great entertainment. That is due to the musical diversity that so many of those albums offer, as well as oftentimes, the records’ lyrical content.  This critic has proven this time and again over the years, even as recent as this year.  The Story Pirates’ new album The Strawberry Band is no exception to that rule.  Scheduled for release Friday through Face Cake Records, the 12-song record will entertain audiences of all ages just as much as the band’s existing albums and just as much as any family music act’s offerings past and present.  That is due in no small part to the overall approach to this record.  It will be discussed shortly.  The record’s featured musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album and will be discussed a little later.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album one more candidate for a spot on this year’s top new family music albums.

The Story Pirates’ forthcoming album The Strawberry Band is an outstanding addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.  It stands out among this year’s field of new releases in part because of the approach that the band took to the record, making it a fun, family friendly concept album.  Yes, it is a concept album.  Few children’s albums out there can say they are concept works, considering that such works are saved more for grown-up albums.  The closest that any family music act’s work comes to being concept are Doctor Noize’s stories of Phineas McBoof, who is a musical monkey.  Getting back to The Story Pirates’ new album, the story featured in this record centers on a Beatles-esque band called….well…The Strawberry Band.  The set-up story, which opens the album, was developed by one of the band’s 5 year-old fans.  The rest of the songs that feature throughout were allegedly developed through story ideas presented to the band by its many young fans.  That the band would so openly and warmly develop a record – and a concept record no less – that was essentially made by and for its fans makes this approach especially unique and appealing.  The work that the band did to connect the overall concept is just as unique.  So all in all, the approach that the band took to this its fourth album is something special in its own right.  It in itself makes this record well worth hearing.  It is just one part of what makes the album so appealing.  The musical arrangements that make up the record’s body add their own appeal to the presentation.

The musical arrangements featured throughout The Strawberry Band are so important to note because of their diversity.  Right from the record’s outset, listeners are treat to a work in ‘The Strawberry Band’ that is a catchy, funky, bass-driven work that sounds like it came right out of the  1960s and 70s.  That this Beatles-inspired band is basically supposed to be performing the work adds to the special touch.  It will put a smile on any listener’s face.  Parents and older listeners in general will especially love the little tribute to The Beatles’ ‘Hold Your Hand’ that is incorporated into the song.  The hip-hop/vintage R&B sound of its immediate follow-up, ‘The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns’ will appeal just as much to audiences of all ages while the silly story of…well…musical cinnamon buns will entertain younger listeners.  That musical approach is so infectious.  It will introduce younger listeners to such a great genre while also offering something equally entertaining for older audiences.  As if that is not enough, those familiar with pop music from recent years will recognize a comparison to Taio Cruz’s hit song ‘Dynamite’ in ‘Hedgie in the Cloud Kingdom,’ which comes a little later in the album’s 42-minute run time.  The similarity is not a mirror image, but it is close enough that audiences will easily make the connection.  On yet another note, ‘Glowy and the Friend Adventure,’ the album’s mid-point, is just as easily comparable to Jason Mraz’s hit song ‘I’m Yours.’  Again, it is not an exact copy, what with the use of the muted trombone and overall approach.  However, the general, overall sound makes no doubt, the influence.  To that end, it will entertain older listeners just as much as any of the album’s other musical arrangements.  On yet another note, there is even a comparison to Alanis Morisette’s classic rock hit ‘You Oughta Know’ in ‘The Night I Started Sharing a Room With My Sister.’  Once again, the comparison is not precise, but the vocals, drums, bass, and guitar still make that comparison relatively obvious.  So yet again, here is a way for the album’s musical content to appeal to older audiences just as much as children.  The tributes to classic music do not end there.  The brief ‘The Strawberry Band (Reprise)’ pays tribute to George Harrison’s ‘Got My Mind Set On You,’  adding even more to the record’s musical appeal.   Those songs (and others featured here) will also serve as a starting point for those older audiences to introduce their own children to their music and bond with them even more in the process.  Keeping all of this in mind, it should be clear why the musical arrangements featured throughout this album are so important to its presentation.  When they are considered along with the album’s very approach, that whole more than makes the band’s new forthcoming album a pleasure to hear.  They are just a portion of what makes the album enjoyable.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content and story put the finishing touch to the presentation.

The lyrical content that is featured in The Strawberry Band is important to note because it is just as diverse as the record’s musical content.  As already noted, one of the album’s early entries – ‘The Case of the Musical Cinnamon Buns – is about a bunch of musical cinnamon buns. It is just a fun, random story.  There is also a story about a fairy that lacked wings featured here.  The song delivers a message to listeners about taking pride in one’s self even if one might not look like others or have the same abilities as others.  This is a message that again, listeners of all ages will appreciate.  It adds even more enjoyment and importance to the album’s lyrical content overall.  The band also promotes making friends with a diverse range of individuals because of their diversity through ‘Glowy and the Friend Adventure.’  This is (sadly) a message that grown-ups should heed just as much as children.  That is especially the case today considering the world’s current social climate.  These noted songs and the album’s others were from the band’s young listeners, making them all the more impacting, when one takes the silly and serious all fully into account.  It all comes together to show without any doubt, just how important the album’s lyrical content is to its presentation.  When all of this is considered along with the importance and impact of the album’s musical content and overall approach, the whole makes The Strawberry Band a “sweet” new offering from The Story Pirates.


The Story Pirates forthcoming album The Strawberry Band is a presentation that will appeal just as much to grown-ups as it will to children.  That is proven in part through the record’s approach.  The approach in question is that of a concept album.  Few other family music albums make and have ever made concept albums for the whole family.  The record’s featured story is itself unique, making for even more appeal.  The musical arrangements that are presented throughout the story offer plenty for children and grown-ups alike plenty to enjoy.  They will in turn, make for a great way for families to bond just over this aspect.  The lyrical themes, which are presented from stories sent to the band by its young fans, add even more diversity to the album.  Some are silly.  Some are serious.  They are all accessible for listeners of all ages and presented in equally accessible fashion.  They put the finishing touch the album.  When they are considered along with the album’s approach, its story, and its musical arrangements, that whole makes The Strawberry Band an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.  It is scheduled for release Friday through Face Cake Records

More information on The Story Pirates’ new album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://storypirates.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/storypirates

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/storypirates

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.

Saxon Takes On A Classic From The Beatles For Its Latest Single

Courtesy: Silver Linings Music

Saxon is giving audiences yet another preview of its forthcoming covers compilation.

The band debuted its take on The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ Friday, along with the cover’s companion lyric video. The cover is the third single from Saxon’s forthcoming covers compilation, Inspirations, which is scheduled for release March 19 through Silver Linings Music. The collection also features covers of Deep Purple’s ‘Speed King‘ and The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black.’

Saxon front man Biff Byford noted during a recent interview, his appreciation for The Beatles is far-reaching.

“I saw The Beatles on TV for the first time in 1963,” he said. “It was a very inspirational moment for me to think maybe I could be in a band!”

Saxon’s take on ‘Paperback Writer’ stays true to its source material, but amps it up considerably. The song takes on more of an arena rock type work here versus the more pop rock approach taken in The Beatles’ original.

The track listing for Inspirations is noted below.  Pre-orders are open.

Track Listing:

  1. Paint It Black
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. Paperback Writer
  4. Evil Woman
  5. Stone Free
  6. Bomber
  7. Speed King
  8. The Rocker
  9. Hold The Line
  10. Problem Child
  11. See My Friends

 More information on Inspirations is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttps://www.saxon747.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/saxon

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://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.

The Story Pirates Debuts Video For New LP’s Lead Single; Announces Podast’s Mid-Season Premiere Date, Return Of Band’s ‘SPTV’ Series

Courtesy: Sugar Mountain PR

Family entertainment group The Story Pirates will release its new album this spring.

The group is scheduled to release its next album The Strawberry Band April 2. In anticipation of the album’s release, the band debuted the video for the album’s lead single this week. The band debuted the video for the song ‘Fun Crazy Weird Hair Store‘ Friday through Geekdad and the “Absolutely Mindy” show on Sirius XM Kids Place Live.

The song is a light, kindie-pop style composition. Its easygoing guitar, piano, vocals, and simple time keeping makes it an infectious work. The song’s lyrical content is based on a short story crafted by a 9 year-old Story Pirates fan. It is one of a handful of stories crafted by children that make up the album, which itself is a tribute to concept albums.

The story behind is considered a “Beatles-esque” story that itself was crafted by a 5 year-old fan of The Story Pirates. According to information about the album, the band has dreams of stardom, but turns into strawberries every time it hits the stage. Throughout the album, the band, which created its own concept album, shows up as it tries to evade a strawberry-eating shark. The other stories that appear in this concept album about The Strawberry Band feature items, such as cinnamon buns, a wingless fairy, and a hedgehog.

The Strawberry Band is The Story Pirates’ fourth album.

In other news, The Story Pirates is scheduled to resume the fourth season of its podcast the same day as the release of its new album. It will feature 20 more episodes that will run through July,

Season Four opens with a Johnny Cash-style song that is based on a story titled ‘I’m Toast, Man!’ The song is based on a story written by a 6 year-old fan of The Story Pirates.

Season Four also features a new story, “The Adventures of Harold Jordan.” The story was adapted from a story crafted by one of The Story Pirates’ 9 year-old fans.

New music and stories are just a portion of what audiences have to look forward to from The Story Pirates when its fourth season resumes. Actor Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock, Phineas & Ferb) will join The Story Pirates for its mid-season premiere.

In even more news, The Story Pirates’ Los Angeles-based audiences can look forward to new episodes of its SPTV soon. The series runs on the region’s PBS affiliate, KLCS. The series encourages young viewers to use their imaginations to write original stories. It does this by taking viewers into stories written by other young viewers.

Story Pirates Creator Club members have full access to the show. Sample episodes of SPTV are streaming through YouTube.

More information on The Story Pirates’ new album, podcasts and SPTV episodes is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://storypirates.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/storypirates

Twitter: https://twitter.com/storypirates

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to https://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.