The Hawkins Debuts New Record’s Final Single

Courtesy: The Sign Records

The Hawkins premiered the third and final single from its forthcoming record this week.

The band debuted its single, ‘Jim & Kate’ Friday. The song is the third and final single from the band’s forthcoming mini-album, Aftermath, which is scheduled for release Oct. 15 through The Sign Records.

The song’s premiere follows that of the mini-album’s first two singles, ‘SVAANG’ and ‘Turncoat Killer,’ both of which are streaming through the band’s official Bandcamp page. Audiences can also pre-order the new record at that site.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Jim & Kate’ advances the sound that the band has produced in its existing catalog. Instead of the stoner approach that the band has so commonly gone with in its existing work, the song takes more of a pure, garage rock approach and resulting sound.

Front man Johannes Carlsson talked about the song’s lyrical theme in a prepared statement.

“‘Jim & Kate’ takes place in the aftermath of a s*** hitting the fan,” he said. “Over and over again. You’re once again standing in the rubble, trying to make sense of what just happened and grasping for pieces to supposedly glue together. Shock and denial mixed with has-tingly trying to fix things. The intro is kind of like that to play as well. It’s a bit like being half awake and thinking you’re late to work.”

The song’s lyrical theme follows the overarching theme of Aftermath. That is because the six-song record is presented as a six-part concept record of sorts. It follows the destructive aftermath of broken relationships.

More information on The Hawkins’ new single and record is available along with all of The Hawkins’ latest news at:

Websitehttps://thehawkinsband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thehawkinsswe

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.

Liar Thief Bandit’s Latest LP Will Help The Band Steal Its Own Spotlight

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Independent rock band Liar Thief Bandit has been together only a short time, having originally come together in 2015.  In the now only six years that the band has been together, it has already released two albums — Gun Shovel Alibi (2016) and Straight Ahead (2018) – and toured extensively across Europe, building its audience base and reputation.  Now three years after the release of Straight Ahead, the trio – Mikael Jacobson (guitar, vocals), William Grube (drums), and Miklas Dahre (bass) – is poised to becomes another one of the next big names in the independent music community with its third album, Deadlights.  Scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records, the 12-song record presents much for audiences to enjoy, beginning with its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add their own interest to the overall presentation here.  They will be discussed a little later.  The production that went into each song rounds out the album’s most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Deadlights.  All things considered, they make the album one more of the best of this year’s new independent albums.

Liar Thief Bandit’s forthcoming album Deadlights is a presentation that has the potential to make the band one of the next big names in the independent music community (and more specifically that of independent rock bands).  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  The 41-minute album’s musical arrangements present a somewhat wide range of rock styles from one to the next.  The band’s familiar garage rock sound and style is audible throughout the album’s body.  So the band’s established audience base has that to anticipate.  At the same time, the sounds in that familiar stylistic approach vary from one to the next.  To that end, that gives each song which uses that stylistic approach its own unique identity.  The band’s familiar DIY garage rock stylistic approach and sound is just one that is featured here.  There is also a clear stoner rock approach exhibited at various points.  ‘Limitations,’ which serves as the album’s midpoint, is just one example of that influence with its driving, fuzzed guitar line and gritty vocal delivery.  ‘Brand New Day’ also exhibits a touch of that stoner rock influence.  Of course the stoner influence is just one more featured throughout the album.  ‘Cept The Truth’ presents the band’s garage punk leanings.  That is evidenced through the raw sound from the collective here, including the vocals and the high energy exuded throughout the song.  The addition of the band’s New Wave of Classic Rock leanings alongside its stoner and punk approaches gives this record so much diversity, musically speaking.  That musical diversity is just part of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own share of interest.

‘Brand New Day’ is a prime example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical content comes across as being that familiar, defiant rock anthem whose subject refuses to just give up and give in.  The manner in which this seeming message is delivered serves well to help make the noted inference and in turn connect with listeners.  Jacobson sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Feeling the chills as I’m closing the window/The air runs thin/With all the things I never could let go/The mess I’m in/But I’ve made up my mind/I’m keeping my stories to myself/ And somehow I will get revenge/I’m not saying I’m leading the way to a revolution/I’m not saying I’m giving you hopes in a better way/But in my mind there’s a lot of anticipation/Watch me as I’m flipping you off/And stay prepared for a brand new day.”  The song’s second verse adds even more to the inference as Jacobson sings, “Heading down to my favourite safe place/Where I feel home/Where no one knows my name and I am a stranger/That’s where I belong/Even if I’ll never end up a loner I think I’ve made my point.”  This is someone who is going to do his own thing, regardless what people think.  That is just this critic’s interpretation of course.  Regardless, this seemingly familiar theme and the accessibility thereof in the manner of delivery makes clear in itself why the album’s lyrical content is important to the album’s presentation.

‘Feather’ is another example of what makes the lyrical themes featured in Deadlights so important to the album’s presentation.  This song’s lyrical theme seems to evoke confidence, too, but in a manner different from that of the album’s title track.  In this case, the confidence seems to come across more as a sort of self-assured sense against life’s obstacles.  This is inferred as Jacobson sings in the song’ lead verse, “When your dreams keep draining you dry/When you wake up late at night and don’t know why/When your bones seem weak and you want to cry/Remember I’m here until the day we die/You could have knocked me over/With a feather or a stone I would still not run for cover Even with all chances blown.”  This comes across as someone who is perhaps re-assuring someone else, things are not overly negative.  The song’s second verse continues that seeming message of optimism and hope as Jacobson sings, “We came close to tearing it all down/We had every trench in sight but kept our ground/ We gave it all we had and what we found/We embraced and turned into our own sound.”  If in fact the message delivered here is meant to inspire, then the band has succeeded.  It is a message that will reach listeners easily, again because of the manner in which it was delivered.  It is just one more example of why the album’s lyrical content is so important.

‘Silver Tongue,’ which come late in the album’s run, is one more example of what makes   the album’s lyrical themes important.  In this case, the song’s lyrical theme seems to be a familiar social commentary.  In this case, the commentary is – as the title implies – about human nature in a very specific fashion.  This is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, in which Jacobson sings, “Talk is cheap and nobody listens/Even though points are made/Sometimes the occasional eyes can glisten/But we are all part of the same charade/Ten million times a day we hear the same old story/And no one cares to think at all.”  This statement, as brief as it is, is certain to resonate with plenty of listeners.  It comes across as a commentary about people how complacent people have become and how we just let others do the thinking and tell us what to think (E.g. the media, politicians, religious leaders, etc.)  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse, in which Jacobson sings, “We find it odd to leave things uncertain/But we tend to go around instead of climbing the unavoidable mountain/Ten million times a day we hear the same old story/And no one cares to think of how to change despair into glory/Until I hear a voice that wants to get things done I’m gonna run my silver tongue.”  Once more, here is a seeming message about people expecting others to do things for them and about people avoiding the big things that need attention, such as major hot-button topics.  Basically, the whole of the song comes across as a seeming commentary about people’s complacency and hypocrisy.  That is, again, just this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  Regardless, that the song seems to deliver such a message is yet more proof of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  Add in the lyrics’ delivery style and that statement gains even more traction.  When this song is considered along with the others examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes clear why the album’s lyrical content is so important to its presentation.  That content and its importance is just one more way in which the album proves its strength.  The record’s production rounds out the album’s most important elements.

The production that went into Deadlights is important because of the balance that it brings to each arrangement.  Considering the fact that this record has so much energy and so much going on, the utmost attention had to be paid to each composition.  The instruments and vocals are expertly balanced so that even as raucous as the album gets at points, the mass of music in each work never gets muddied and bogged down.  That is a testament to the work of those behind the glass to bring out the best of each musician’s performance.  The result of that time intensive work is a record that proves enjoyable just as much for its sound as for its content.

Liar Thief Bandit’s forthcoming album Deadlights is an ironically titled record.  Considering that a deadlight is defined by Merriam-Webster as a cover that keeps out light and water.  In the case of this album, it is sure to help shed more light on the band.  That is due in part to the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements combine the band’s garage rock and punk leanings with a more distinct stoner rock stylistic approach and sound for a whole that will appeal widely to listeners.  The lyrical themes that are presented throughout this album are accessible and presented in their own unique fashion, adding even more to the album’s appeal.  The record’s production ensures that even as energetic as the album is from start to end, each song is perfectly balanced throughout.  This aspect puts the finishing touch to the album and rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album in whole a presentation that is among the best of this year’s new independent albums.  Deadlights is scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Liar Thief Bandit’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.liarthiefbandit.com

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

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.  

Vokonis’ Latest LP Offers Listeners An Enjoyable Musical Odyssey

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Prog-metal outfit Vokonis has quietly made quite the name for itself in the past few years or so with its existing trio of records.  That name will grow in notoriety Friday when it releases its fourth album, Odyssey.  The six song record is a work that definitely holds its own against its metal and prog-metal counterparts, both more well-known and lesser.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements adds to the record’s success.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the 40-minute album a must hear for any metal purist.

Vokonis’ forthcoming fourth album Odyssey is a unique addition to this year’s crop of new independent and hard rock/metal albums.  It is a record that provided the proper support, is certain to continue building the band’s name within the noted genres.  That is proven in part through the album’s featured musical arrangements.  Throughout the course of the album’s 40-minute run time, it incorporates a variety of influences in each arrangement to make its whole.  ‘Rebellion,’ the album’s opener for instance, opens with a guitar riff that would fit easily into any active rock radio programmer’s playlist.  As the vocals come into play, the guttural screams from front man Simon Ohlsson lend themselves to comparison to those of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein.  The more melodic, clean vocals from Ohlsson’s band mates – Jonte Johansson (bass, vocals), Peter Ottosson (drums, percussion), and Per Wiberg (keyboards) – make for more of a Tool-esque sound.  The two stylistic approaches are vastly different, but used against one another, somehow manage to work.  The full-on wall of sound approach that the band uses here is also comparable to that of Crowbar.  It all sounds very raucous, but at the same time controlled in its chaotic approach.  It is just one example of how the album’s musical content plays into its appeal.

On a completely different note, the musical arrangement that is presented in the late entry ‘Hollow Waters’ lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Leprous, as well as to those of Crowbar.  The Leprous comparison comes in the choruses with their full yet somewhat ethereal sound.  It makes for a welcome change of pace to ensure listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment.  As with ‘Rebellion,’ this song’s arrangement is just one more example of what make the album’s musical content so noteworthy.  ‘Blackened Wings,’ the album’s lead single, is yet another example of how the power and variety in the album’s musical content makes it successful.

‘Blackened Wings’ is just as busy and loud as any of the album’s other arrangements.  Yet even in that controlled chaos, there is something so engaging.  The guttural death/black metal style screams set alongside the song’s death metal guitars lend themselves to comparisons to works from Between the Buried and Me.  The contrast of that sound to the cleaner, heavy, sludge metal style approach to the rest of the song makes for even more interest here.  The expert balance of those distinctly differing styles speaks highly of the production that went into the album.  This aspect will be discussed later.  Staying on the topic at hand, this song’s arrangement does just as much as those already examined and the rest of the album’s works, to show why the diverse influences and power in the arrangements make them so important to the album.  The whole of the album’s musical arrangements, including the clear Dream Theater influence exhibited in ‘Azure,’ creates a solid foundation for Odyssey.  Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s intense musical content.

The lyrical themes that are presented throughout Odyssey will make for just as much engagement as the musical arrangements that they join.  Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Hollow Waters.’  The song’s lyrical content seems rather nihilistic on the surface, what with the mentions of the “Circle of sorrow/Closing in on you” and everything bad going on in the world.”  However, the song’s lyrical theme ultimately is one of hope.  This is pointed out in the song’s second verse, which states, “Cities will fall/Empires crumble/Hope can prevail/We will follow/Forests will burn/Under the scourge/Lead us again through these faraway lands.”  The message of hope is raised again in the song’s third verse, which finds Ohlsson singing, “Wrath of the scorned/Born of fire/Tainted fury leads to nothing/Let it all pass/Open yourself/Lead us away  through  these faraway lands.”  That positive message is delivered once more in the song’s final verse, stating, “The everlasting light/Is the flame of eternity.”  These notes and the rest of the song’s lyrical content join to form a unique approach to a welcome theme.  When that theme joins with the song’s already noted equally unique musical arrangement, it shows in whole why the album in whole is so powerful.

The lyrical content featured in the album’s title track is another example of what makes it such a strong new offering from Vokonis.  This song’s lyrical content seems (at least in the ears and mind of this critic) to deliver a message of living life and facing life’s challenges.  Again, this is only this critic’s interpretation.  The inference is made as Ohlsson sings about overcoming “the final step” and the “Beacon of tranquility” shining “upon us all/Light of serenity/Essence of the divine.”  It’s one more unique lyrical presentation from Vokonis on its latest outing that is certain to keep any listener engaged.  When this original presentation is considered along with the other content examined here and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of said content.  When the album’s collective lyrical content pairs with the record’s equally powerful musical arrangements, that body makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  Even with that in mind, it is only a portion of what make the album such a surprisingly engaging and entertaining work.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.

As was noted earlier, the songs featured throughout Odyssey each utilize a powerful wall of sound style approach, as well as other elements and influences.  Considering how much goes on throughout the album, those behind the glass had to pay exceptional attention to every minute detail.  Luckily, that painstaking attention to detail paid off from beginning to end.  The result is a record that even being so active and full, completely engages and entertains.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album proves to be a surprisingly impressive addition to this year’s field of new hard rock and metal albums.

Vokonis’ forthcoming album Odyssey is a strong new presentation from the already established prog-metal outfit from Sweden.  It is a work that serves as a strong starting point for those audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog and an equally new offering for the band’s established fan base.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit a wide range of influences, not just prog-metal.  That applies within each song and from one to the next.  The lyrical content featured throughout the album adds to its interest.  It is presented in truly unique fashion even as it touches on what seem to be some familiar topics.  The album’s production rounds out its most important elements.  It ensures that even as busy as each song is, the record’s arrangements do not become muddied and worn down in   themselves.  The result of the work put in through the album’s production is an album that will appeal aesthetically just as much as for its content.  It all makes the album a musical odyssey that any metal purist will be glad he or she took.  More information on Odyssey is available along with all of Vokonis’ latest news at:

Website: https://vokonis.bandcamp.com  

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

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.  

Heavy Feather’s Sophomore LP Will Have Listeners Saying, “Sweet”

Courtesy: The Sign Records

As 2021 progresses and efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic continue, music fans are slowly but surely starting to see more music acts announce tentative new live dates around the world.  That is a hopeful sign about where the world stands today in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.  One of the many acts out there that has announced some new tentative dates is the neo-classic rock band, Heavy Feather.  The band has tentative live dates scheduled right now, in July and September.  Those dates are in support of the band’s forthcoming sophomore album, Mountain of Sugar.  Scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records, the 11-song record is among the best of this year’s new releases in the neo-classic rock realm.  That is proven through the album’s musical and lyrical content from beginning to end.  One of the songs that best exemplifies how that combined content makes the record so appealing comes early in the album in the form of ‘Love Will Come Easy.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Sometimes I Feel,’ which comes much later in the record’s 37-minute run time is another prime example of what makes Heavy Feather’s new album stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Let It Shine,’ which serves as the album’s midpoint, is one more example of what makes the album stand out.  It will also be discussed later.  All three songs noted here are important in their own way to the whole of this new offering from Heavy Feather.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, it is possible to say that the album is not perfect (there is some redundancy in some of the arrangements), but is still a positive new offering from the band that shows promise for the band’s future.

Heavy Feather’s sophomore album, Mountain of Sugar, is a presentation that stoner rock and neo-classic rock fans alike will agree is worth hearing at least once.  That is proven from beginning to end of the 37-minute album through its musical and lyrical content alike.  It is not a perfect album, but does boast its own share of engaging and entertaining content.  One of the most notable of the album’s songs comes early in the album in the form of ‘Love Will Come Easy.’  The song’s musical arrangement immediately lends itself to comparisons to some of the greatest of Janis Joplin’s works.  That is proven through the bluesy, fuzzed guitar line at the song’s center and through the sound of singer Lisa Lystam’s voice.  Her vocal delivery, both in sound and style, is so much like that of Joplin, and in the best way possible.  There is even something in the rich, raw sound from the drums and bass that enhances the song’s presentation even more.  The whole makes the arrangement in whole such a pleasant work.  The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement creates its own engagement and entertainment.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Love Will Come Easy’ is a direct mirror image of its title.  It is a song about someone looking for love.  That is made relatively clear early on as Lystam sings, “I’m surrounded by folks/Thinking, am I good enough?/I’m pouring my heart out to get your smile…Why don’t you love me/Just tell me why.”  Thanks to the record’s production and Lystam’s unique vocal delivery style and sound, some of that lead verse is difficult to decipher sans lyrics to reference.  That aside, enough of the song is still understandable to the point that the noted theme is made relatively clear.  That final statement, asking, “Why don’t you love me/Just tell me why” is that pleading, showing that soon that this is just someone who is desperate to be loved.  Lystam continues in the song’s chorus, adding, “I know/Love will come easy.”  So again, that theme is certified even more.  The song continues in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, so there is no reason to continue from here.  The point being that this is a song that is, again, simple.  It is a person who is going through the thoughts and emotions of someone who just wants to have that special someone.  It is a fully accessible lyrical presentation that when paired with the energy in the song’s musical arrangement makes the song overall that much more appealing.  The two elements do well together here and make the song just one example of what makes the song and album stand out.  ‘Sometimes I Feel,’ which comes later in the album’s run, is another example of the record’s strength.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Sometimes I Feel’ immediately lends itself to comparisons to the best works of The Allman Brothers Band right from its outset.  That is made clear through the specific twang in the guitar line, the use of the keyboards, and the rich, raw sound of the drums.  Guitarist Mate Gustaffson takes over vocal duties here, sounding just as rough and welcome as the late, great Duane Allman.  The whole makes obvious why this song was released in February as one more of the album’s singles.  It is a composition in whole that is just as good as anything from The Allman Brothers Band and any compositions from any of Heavy Feather’s contemporaries within the roots rock/neo-classic realm.  When that content is paired with the song’s lyrical content, the song gains even more traction.

While not all of the song’s lyrical content is clear without a lyrics sheet to reference, what can be inferred from the understandable content, the song’s lyrical content would seem to focus on someone reflecting on a relationship with another.  That comes as Gustaffson sings, “Sometimes I feel/Like you belong/Sometimes I feel like I’m standing here alone/Sometimes I feel/Like something went wrong/Like all the memories we shared are just gone.”  This is all taken from the song’s chorus.  The second verse opens with Gustaffson’s subject making note of a woman rolling her eyes at the man during a discussion between the pair, adding, “I need something safe to depend on.”  Again when this is set alongside the content in the song’s chorus, it can be relatively easily inferred, again.  When one considers the mood set through the song’s musical arrangement, it makes for even more reason to believe that this song is, again, a story of someone who is looking back on perhaps a broken relationship, which is itself an all too familiar lyrical topic.  That means the song’s lyrical content is just as accessible to audiences as the song’s musical content.  What’s more, the two elements together make the song another clear example of why Heavy Feather’s noted audiences will appreciate this song and the album in whole.  Keeping all of this in mind, ‘Sometimes I Feel’ is just one more example of why roots rock and neo-classic rock fans will find Heavy Feather’s new album appealing.  ‘Let It Shine’ is yet another example of what makes the record successful.

‘Let It Shine’ is the most contemplative song featured Heavy Feather’s new album.  Lystam’s vocal delivery and the reserved guitar performance makes this song so controlled and subtle in its performance.  Audiences do not even need the song’s equally brooding lyrical content to be impacted.  That is how strong the song’s musical arrangement proves in the long run.  Speaking of that noted lyrical content, it will resonate with listeners just as much as the song’s musical arrangement.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Let It Shine’ is certain to engage listeners because it is not as clear in its language as much of the album’s other lyrical content.  Lystam sings here of a person shining “over us.”  From that one line, it has to be inferred that the song is meant as a tribute to someone no longer here.  It would also make the line noting how the person was “like a bird who flew away/but didn’t find its way.” She even adds that “still you fly over us.”  So yet again, the song seems to be a eulogy of sorts for someone close to either her or the band in whole.  The metaphorical language that Lystam uses here is similar to that of language in other songs about someone who has died, so if in fact that is the topic at the song’s heart, then such language along with the song’s topic will certainly  connect with listeners and tug at their heart strings, creating a deep emotional impact on listeners.  That impact is increased when the moving message is paired with the noted musical arrangement.  The two items together make this song even clearer in regards to what makes Mountain of Sugar.  When this song and the others examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the record in whole proves to be a presentation that while not perfect, does still show some promise for Heavy Feather’s future within the neo-classic/roots rock and rock communities overall.

Heavy Feather’s sophomore album Mountain of Sugar is an overall enjoyable new presentation from the up-and-coming roots/neo-classic rock band.  It is a presentation that will appeal to the band’s target audiences, which includes its established audience base, as well as those who already are fans of the noted rock subgenres.  That is proven collectively through the record’s musical and lyrical content.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support the noted statements.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album in whole proof that Heavy Feather has a promising future.  Mountain of Sugar is scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records.  More information on Mountain of Sugar is available along with all of Heavy Feather’s latest news at:

Website: https://heavyfeatherofficial.bandcamp.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/HeavyFeatherRock

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.worpress.com.  

Grand Royale’s Latest LP Is A Grand, Pure Guitar Rock Record

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Rock and roll is not dead.  Despite what KISS bassist Gene Simmons and others want to believe, it is anything but.  People have tried to claim that the genre (and metal) is dead.  Apparently, even the Recording Industry Association of America wants audiences to believe rock is dead.  Thankfully, year after year, so many bands prove that quite the contrary is the reality.  Independent rock band Grand Royale is just the latest band to prove the critics wrong thanks to its forthcoming album, Carry On.  Scheduled for release Friday, the band’s fifth album leaves no doubt that real, pure guitar rock is alive and well.  That is evidenced clearly in the record’s collective musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements’ companion lyrical content does just as much to support the noted statements.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this latest offering from Grand Royale.  All things considered, they make the album clear proof that rock and roll is indeed alive and well.

Independent rock band Grand Royale’s fifth full-length studio recording, Carry On, is proof positive that despite the continued claims by so many that real guitar rock is dead, it clearly is anything but dead.  In fact, it is pure, guitar rock at its finest, and proves that the genre is alive and well.  That is proven in large part through the album’s collective musical arrangements.  The arrangements are everything that guitar rock purists have come to love about the genre.  The rich, driving guitar riffs start off the album with a sound and stylistic approach that is closely similar to that of Pearl Jam circa 2000 in ‘Troublemaker.’  ‘One of a Kind,’ which immediately follows, incorporates the most subtle touch of vintage guitar rock and pairs that with an equally subtle touch of vintage punk for yet another interesting composition.  ‘Bang,’ the album’s very next song, incorporates even more of a vintage guitar rock influence for its body, changing things up.  As if all of that is not enough, the band even gives listeners a touch of 90s pop rock late in the album’s 32-minute run in ‘Staying Dry.’  It’s just one more example of what makes the album’s musical arrangements so enjoyable.  Between these arrangements, the stoner rock approach of ‘Schizoid Lullaby,’ the raucous ‘Just As Bad As You,’ and everything else featured here, there is no doubt that the musical arrangements featured throughout this album give plenty of reason for audiences to hear the album.  They are just a portion of what makes this latest offering from Grand Royale so enjoyable.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add to the record’s appeal even more. 

The importance of the album’s lyrics is shown in part late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Ain’t Got Soul.’  This two minute, 40 second opus is classic rock right to the bone in its lyrical theme.  The song’s chorus gives listeners every reason to raise the horns as it states against the arrangement’s high energy, “You got no role/I am swinging to the beat/You better watch out/I’m swinging to the beat/Do not stand there and shout, ‘Over and out’/’Cause you ain’t got soul/Unless you rock n roll/’Cause you ain’t got soul/An eternal case where we all belong.”  The tribute continues as the song’s subject states in the song’s second verse, “All the rules you make/I am guilty of the crime/Guilty of the charge/Playing the blues/I am a slave to my passion/Do not tell me what to do/Go back to your pretty city.”  Again, this is just a tribute to rock and roll, and to simply rocking out.  It is just as pure rock and roll as any of the album’s musical arrangements. 

‘Troublemaker’ is its own pure rock and roll work in its lyrical content just as much as its musical arrangement.  This is one of those familiar, accessible works that finds its subject addressing someone who is toxic.  That is inferred right from the song’s outset in its lead verse.  The subject states in the song’s lead verse, “All that you are in your tattered soul/Leave it all behind/You got no options my friend/All that you need/You better hit the speed/You don’t need to pretend/I’m here to take a stand.”  The commentary continues in the song’s second verse, which finds the subject telling that second person, “

I cannot stand this anymore/We’ve been here before/Knocking at your door/You are trouble, the devil/I cannot stand your face oh/My cannon is loose/Are you ready for some news?”  The song’s chorus adds to the statement even more as the subject is addressing that person, who turns out to apparently be a woman, stating, “So, darling meet me at the Troublemaker Street/Calling you a rascal, calling me a fraud/Darling, you’re the queen of the Troublemaker Street/Calling you a rascal, calling me a fraud” Whether the song’s subject is addressing solely a woman, overall or two different people, the fact of the matter is that this familiar rock and roll theme.  It will connect with any rock and roll purist.

‘Just As Bad As You’ is one more example of what makes this record’s lyrical content so important.  This song’s lyrical theme comes across as being one of those classic “partners in crime” type songs in regards to its lyrical content.  That is inferred early on in the song’s lead verse, which states, “Yeah, we are in the game/No need to put out the flame/Just me and you/Into the hall of fame/We are in the game/And who are you to blame?/Just you and me/And the power of gain.”  That seeming message continues as the song states, “Darling, you are wild/We can’t go on/This life lies way beyond/But I’m just as bad as you/Cause you are wild/We can’t go on/But I’m just as bad as you/Yeah, we are in the zone/Nothing left to atone/Just you and me/Descending the throne.”  Again, this “just the two of us” style theme is familiar to rock fans as the other themes noted here. Between these themes and those in the record’s other songs, little question is left as to the appeal of the album’s lyrical content to its presentation.  When this overall element is considered along with the album’s musical arrangements, the album’s appeal increases even more.  The overall content is still only a portion of what makes the album a success.  The record’s production rounds out its most important content.

The production that went into Carry On is important to note because of the impact that it has on the album’s general effect.  One need not listen too closely to catch the raw, garage rock sound at the center of each of the album’s songs. The richness and thickness in the drums and bass, the cutting but still so raw, driving guitars, and even the effect used on the vocals put their own touch to the record’s presentation.  That is all thanks to the production that went into making each item sound so good.  What’s more, each instrument is so well-balanced with the others and the vocals throughout.  The result is that the record will appeal to listeners as much for its general effect as for its overall content.  Keeping  all of that in mind, the album overall proves itself to be a welcome return for Grand Royale.

Grand Royale’s latest album, Carry On, is a presentation that the band’s established will find a welcome return from the group.  At the same time, audiences who are less familiar with the band and its catalog will find it just as welcome an introduction to the band.  That is due in no small part to the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are pure, guitar rock at its finest.  The lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical arrangements are vintage rock and roll in their own right, and are accessible in their own right.  The record’s production puts the final touch to its presentation, bringing everything together.  Each item noted is important in its own right to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Carry On one more of this year’s top new rock and independent albums.  Carry On is scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records.  More information on Carry On is available along with all of Grand Royale’s latest news at:

Website: https://grandroyaleofficial.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GR.sweden

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 Hawkins’ New “Live” EP Is A Positive Companion Piece To Its Latest LP

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Livestream concerts have become all too much the norm ever since last year thanks to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  One can only hope that real live music will return sooner rather than later this year so that audiences and acts can finally get back together in one setting.  Until then, those livestream shows will sadly remain the norm.  While so many acts out there have relegated their live performances to paid online shows, independent rock band The Hawkins is taking a slightly less traveled road.  The band will help audiences continue to get their live fix Friday when it releases its new “live” EP Live in the Woods through The Sign Records.  The seven song recording stands out in part because of its featured songs, which will be addressed shortly.  The production of the featured songs adds to this recording’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to the recording’s presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  All three items noted here are key in their own way to the whole of Live in the Woods.  All things considered, they make Live in the Woods a relatively enjoyable new way for audiences to get their live fix while they wait for the return of real live music.

The Hawkins’ forthcoming live EP Live in the Woods is a unique way for rock fans to get their live music fix while they wait for the return of actual live concerts.  At the base of the recording is its list of featured songs.  Seven songs make up the record’s body, all of which come from the band’s sophomore album, Silence is a Bomb (2020).  Considering that the album in question consists of 12 songs, what audiences get in this set list is a presentation of more than half of that record, just in a semi-live setting.  While it would have been nice to have had a sampling of work from the band’s debut album Ain’t Rock n Roll (2017) or the two EPs that preceded it – Guantanamo Bassline  (2014) and Part II: The Puppet Show (2014) – the featured set list still makes some sense here.  After all, this recording’s release will come Friday less than a year after the release of Silence is a Bomb.  Considering that most live performances are held in support of an act’s most recent studio recording, it makes more sense that this, taking place of any live shows, would largely promote The Hawkins’ latest album.  Keeping all of this in mind, the main body of Live in the Woods serves as at least a relatively appealing element.  The production of the recording’s featured songs adds its own appeal to the presentation.

The songs that make up the body of Live in the Woods were recorded at two different locations — a barn somewhere in the forests of Sweden, and at Brasstacks Brewing, which brewed the band’s latest signature craft beer, Olsson Lager.  The natural settings captures well, the sound of the band in a live setting, just without an audience.  That lack of an audience meant particular attention had to be paid to all of the audio from each recording.  Audiences will be pleased to know that none of the instruments overpower one another, nor do the vocals get washed out or even overpower the instruments.  Simply put, everything is balanced expertly throughout the course of each performance.  Given, The Hawkins is not the first band to record a live performance “in studio” (basically).  Between The Buried and Me took the same approach years ago before everyone was going livestream concerts and live studio recordings.  That aside the approach taken here, what with its production, resulted in a performance that audiences will agree sounds just as good as it looks in its presentation.  The overall production of the songs featured in this recording and the songs themselves join to make for even more appeal, and are still just a portion of what makes the recording so appealing.  The sequencing of the recording’s featured songs rounds out its most important aspects.

Listeners will notice in taking in the recording, the presentation’s sequencing keeps the energy high throughout.  The only point at which the recording even remotely pulls back in terms of its overall energy is in the opening bars of ‘Roomer.’  Even that change in energy is temporary at best.  Once the song gets going, it doesn’t look back, keeping the energy flowing steadily throughout and on into the rest of the EP’s featured songs.  In other words, the energy stays high throughout this record and only eases up at the recording’s end.  Taking that into consideration along with the fact that the sequencing also ensures the stylistic approach of each song is different from the last, the result is even more appeal.  Keeping all of this in mind along with the importance of the EP’s featured songs and their production, the whole of this recording proves to be a good way for The Hawkins’ fans and for rock fans in general to get their live fix until such time that real live music finally returns.

The Hawkins’ new “live” EP Live in the Woods is a presentation that will help tide over the band’s fans and rock fans in general until real live concerts finally return to the world.  It is also a good marketing tool for the band in its efforts to market its most recent album Silence is a Bomb.  That is proven in part through the songs that make up the body of the recording.  The songs are all pulled from the record in question, which was released just last year.  The production of those songs expertly captures the feeling of a live show from The Hawkins, pointing back to why this recording serves as a feasible live alternative for the time being.  The sequencing of the recording’s featured songs puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring listeners will remain engaged and entertained through this element just as much as through the content itself.  Each item noted is important in its way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the recording a positive companion piece to The Hawkins’ latest studio recording and an equally appealing live work for rock fans and the band’s fans alike.  Live in the Woods is scheduled for release Friday.

More information on Live in the Woods is available along with all of The Hawkins’ latest news at:

Websitehttps://thehawkinsband.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/thehawkinsswe

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.

Night’s New LP Is One Of 2020’s Top New Neo-Classic Rock Records

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Independent neo-classic rock band Night is keeping itself busy this year.  The band released a new two-song 7” recording in April.  More than four months after its release the band released another recording in the form of its new album High Tides – Distant Skies.  The band’s fourth album and fifth studio recording, this latest offering from the band further establishes Night as one of the pre-eminent acts in the neo-classic rock realm.  That is proven through the recording’s musical and lyrical content, each of which will be discussed here in itself.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make High Tides – Distant Skies a presentation that Night’s fans and classic rock fans alike will enjoy day and….night.  Yes, that awful pun was intended.

High Tides – Distant Skies is a successful new offering from Night.  The nine-song record is arguably the best record to date that the band has released.  It is a presentation that cements the band’s place in the neo-classic rock realm.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements.  From beginning to end, the 37-minute album’s musical arrangements show the band’s influences while also exhibiting even more, the band’s own identity separate from those influences.  ‘Crimson Past,’ which comes early in the album’s run is one way in which the noted influences are exhibited.  This song’s arrangement is a near director mirror of Blue Oyster Cult’s timeless hit ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper.’ As a matter of fact, if one were to listen to this song without knowing it was Night, one would immediately think it was in fact the noted song.  Luckily for the band, it is the only point in this record in which the band so blatantly takes a page from one of its influences.  ‘Give Me to The Night’ meanwhile clearly takes influence from a work, such as Judas Priest’s ‘Freewheel Burning’ and makes it into its own standout offering that is unquestionably one of the album’s best works.  Thatis thanks to its up-tempo, old school shredding, solid time keeping, full, rich low-end and equally powerful vocals.  It is yet another way in which the record’s musical content shows the record’s strength, and also the band’s growth as a unit.  Meanwhile, a song, such as ‘Here On My Own’ takes the band’s love of all things classic rock in another, unique way and gives audiences something nuanced and unique in its own right.  The driving guitar riff, bass, and full drum sound (and style) evidence the band’s love for early metal.  It may not be as heavy as old school Judas Priest, Saxon and others, but it still presents that old school metal influence.  It is just one more way in which the record’s musical content shows why the album’s musical arrangements prove so important to the album’s presentation, and hardly the last way in which they reach that goal.  One could just as easily cite songs, such as ‘Burning The Sky,’ ‘Falling in the Black,’ and ‘Shadow Gold’ in order to make the same statement.  All things considered, a close listen through this album from start to finish leaves no doubt as to the importance of its musical content.  It is just one of the elements that makes the album worth hearing.  Its lyrical content adds its own layer of interest to its presentation.

The lyrical content featured throughout this recording is important to note because in some cases, it presents familiar topics in unique fashions.  In other cases, it presents more original topics in their own unique ways.  Case in point is the lyrical theme featured in ‘Here on My Own.’  This song’s lyrical topic seems to center on the topic of someone who was missing a certain significant other.  This is inferred as front man Oscar Andersson sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I was going nowhere/I was lost at sea/I saw clouds of thunder /Coming straight at me/I was climbing higher/For a greater view/I could see the coastline/And I thought I saw you/I stand looking out/I’m the king of the world/As I reach out for you/My voice is unheard/ Here on my own/Out in the dark/I’m drifting away.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I’m a fallen sailor/On a stormy sea/And it just reminds me/Where I have to be/Now the sky is clearing/As I’m reaching shore/And I start to wonder/Where I have been before?”  The song’s third and final verse makes even clearer, the noted topic as Andersson sings, “Screaming out for help/My words are drowned/Taken by the wind/And never to be found/I can see your eyes/But they don’t see me/I hear your voice as it echoes away.”  There is obviously a lot of metaphorical language here, but the central topic clearly is that of someone who has lost his romantic interest.  Again, it is a familiar topic that permeates every realm of the overall musical universe, but it is presented in its own unique fashion here that is easy to understand.  That ability to take an all too familiar topic and present it in a fresh fashion makes it just one example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to the record’s whole.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical content shows its importance.  ‘Falling in the Black’ is another example of what makes the album’s lyrical content important to the LP’s presentation.

‘Falling in the Black’ comes across lyrically as a song that addresses a person’s struggler with his inner emotional concerns.  That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus, in which Andersson sings, “I walk across an empty field/I’m looking back/At the times that just went by/It’s a feeling/I can’t explain/What can I do/I am left here by myself/Must be a way out of here/I’m at the final frontier/ Falling in the black/I had to give in/As the wheel keeps on turning/This world will be grim/But I will be gone.”  The noted topic seems even more the case as he sings in the song’s second verse, “Another war is facing me/But how can I fight/When there is nothing left to win/I stand alone on this battleground/I’m looking out/As I take my final stand.”  The song’s third and final verse follows very much in similar fashion.  To that end, there is little need to go further here.  As with the previously addressed song’s content, this song’s content is relatable in its own way to listeners.  The matter of the inner struggle is nothing new to music or even literature of any kind.  And its presentation here is certain to resonate with listeners who are feeling the same way.  In turn, that connection will hopefully help those listeners heal emotionally as they take in such lyrics.  That ability to connect to listeners, all while presenting such a familiar topic, shows why this song is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content.  It is just one more example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its whole.  ‘Shadow Gold,’ which opens the album, is one more way in which the record’s lyrical content shows its importance.

‘Shadow Gold’ presents lyrical content that is slightly more difficult to figure out than those of ‘Falling in the Black,’ ‘Here on My Own’ and the album’s other songs.  This song’s lyrical theme is certain to generate its own share of discussion and interest because it is not as straight forward in its delivery.  Andersson sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “When the night has got no exit/And there is no one left around/Gotta move your feet from/feeling heavy/But you’re moving with the sound/When the night falls/On these hidden walls/We start moving on our own/When they’re sleeping/We are seeking/For that shadow gold/Shadow gold.”  The song’s second verse maintains that interest as Andersson sings, “When the night has got no exit/And there is no one left around/Gotta move your feet from/feeling heavy/But you’re moving with the sound/When the night falls/On these hidden walls/We start moving on our own/When they’re sleeping/We are seeking/For that shadow gold/Shadow gold.”  This seems to have more of a positive, uplifting message, considering the lines that make note of “seeking for that shadow gold” and of life being “Like a treasure from a past life/Like a treasure from the wild.”  It is as if the song is attempting to translate a message of appreciating things in life that maybe others don’t see, and doing so metaphorically.  This is wholly this critic’s interpretation and is not guaranteed to be correct.  Though hopefully it is close to being correct.  Keeping that in mind, it is clear that the song’s lyrical content will generate plenty of discussion.  That discussion in itself shows even more why the album’s lyrical content is so important to its presentation.  When this is considered along with the importance shown through the already discussed songs and the rest of the album’s lyrical content, the whole of that content leaves no doubt as to the album’s lyrical content.  When it is considered along with the album’s musical content, the whole of that content gives listeners every reason to hear this album at least once.  Even with all of that in mind, there is still at least one more aspect to address that does its own part to enhance the album’s presentation.  That aspect is the album’s sequencing.

The sequencing of High Tides – Distant Skies is important because it ensures the album’s energy will keep listeners just as engaged as the content itself.  The record opens on an upbeat note in ‘Shadow Gold.’  That upbeat sense in the song’s arrangement would seem to strengthen the aforementioned argument about the song’s lyrical content. While the stylistic approaches to the songs change from one song to the next here, the album’s overall energy does not let up.  The only time at which the album’s energy pulls back even in the slightest is briefly in the opening bars of ‘Lost in a Dream.’  Other than that point, the album does not let up too much at any point.  That sustained energy even in the stylistic changes makes it its own sustained appeal for listener.  It works with the album’s overall content to make the record an overall presentation that any neo-classic rock fan should hear at least once.

Night’s latest LP High Tides – Distant Skies is a presentation that easily holds its own in this year’s field of new neo-classic rock albums.  That is proven through musical arrangements that show clearly, the band’s influences while also giving the songs their own identity.  The two sides are well-balanced here.  The lyrical themes featured with the song’s musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album thanks to their ability to connect with listeners.  The album’s sequencing rounds out its own touch to its presentation.  Even with the stylistic changes from song to song, the album’s energy stays relatively stable.  This ensures the album’s appeal even more.  All three items noted here are important in their own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Night’s new LP among the most notable of this year’s new neo-classic rock albums.  More information on the record is available online at http://www.facebook.com/nightbandofficial.

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

‘Silence Is A Bomb” Is An “Explosive” New Offering From The Hawkins

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Independent rock band The Hawkins is scheduled to release its sophomore album Friday.  The 12-song record – Silence is a Bomb – is a record that given the right support will certainly make lots of noise.  That is thanks to its musical arrangements and its lyrical content.  The album’s penultimate song ‘Fisherman Blues’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statement.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Minuette,’ the record’s midpoint, is another example of the album’s strength and will be discussed a little later.  The same can be said of ‘Hilow,’ which comes early in the album’s run.  All three songs do their own part to make Silence is a Bomb.  All things considered, they make the album a work that holds its own against its more well-known mainstream counterparts and its independent contemporaries.

The Hawkins’ sophomore album Silence is a Bomb that deserves its own share of noise in the mainstream music realm.  That is because its musical and lyrical content together is just as strong as anything that works from the band’s more well-known cohorts have released to date.  That is proven in part through the album’s penultimate song ‘Fisherman Blues.’  The song’s musical arrangement is deceiving, starting out in fact in a decidedly blues fashion.  However, that blues approach only lasts but so long before the band – Albin Grill (drums), Martin Larrson (bass), Mikael Thunborg (guitar, vocals), and Johannes Carlsson (vocals) – launches into a more fiery approach roughly one minute into the song.  The approach that the band takes here is in a familiar neo-classic rock style.  Listeners can hear influences of bands, such as Queen and KISS here alongside Led Zeppelin.  What is important to note is that even with those influences in mind, the song’s arrangement is still its own distinctly unique presentation that will keep listeners engaged and entertained.  Even more interesting is that even as infectious as the song’s arrangement is, its upbeat energy and tone goes somewhat counter to its equally familiar lyrical theme, but at the same time works so well with that content — that of a broken personal relationship.

The topic of the broken relationship (whether it is just personal in general or romantic is unknown and beside the point is inferred in the song’s chorus.  Carlsson sings in the chorus, “I don’t want to be here with you anymore/’Cause you are taking me down with you every time you fall/Catch me if you can/You f****** cannonball/We’re here ‘til the hook comes ripping you apart.”  That’s a pretty strong statement in just a handful of lines, and leaves little doubt as to the song’s lyrical theme.  It’s just a portion of what makes the song’s theme so clear.  Carlsson makes mention in the song’s lead verse of “Pulling away from the pain/The past pulling me apart” and that “I hear voices everywhere/Inside Out/Inside out/Through every scar…”  Those brooding lines that open the song work well with the song’s chorus, to illustrate the thoughts and emotions of someone who has gone through a lot emotionally and is just done with it all.  Again, this theme is accessible for pretty much any listener.  Add in the equally infectious musical arrangement, and audiences get a song that is even stronger and more proof of the album’s strength, too.  It is just one of the songs that serves to show why Silence is a Bomb is so worth hearing.  ‘Minuette’ is another important addition to the album.

‘Minuette’ clocks in at barely over one minute, yet is still its own powerful work.  The song’s arrangement is a hard-hitting garage punk style work that ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment just as much as ‘Fisherman Blues’ and any of the album’s other works.  It lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Jet, The Darkness, and other similar acts.  That fiery energy in the song’s musical arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out.  It couples with the song’s equally strong lyrical theme to add to its interest.

The lyrical theme featured in this brief but so energetic song comes across as being another work about a relationship.  Some of the lyrics are difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet to reference.  However, there is mention here of a “siren song” and of a “reflection” while the song’s subject asks the other person to “just give me a little more slack.”  Hopefully that interpretation is at least somewhere in the proverbial ballpark.  Either way, the seemingly intense lyrical content will engage and entertain listeners in its own right.  When it is considered along with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song connects with listeners in its own unique fashion.  Each side considered together here, the song leaves no doubt as to its importance in the bigger picture of the album and is just one more example of why the album is such a successful new offering from The Hawkins.  ‘Hilow’ is one more way in which the album shows its strength.

‘Hilow’ is another key addition to The Hawkins’ new album in part because of its musical arrangement.  The arrangement stands out just as much as that of ‘Minuette’ and ‘Fisherman’s Blues.  This song’s arrangement is more of a pop rock style work that will take listeners back to the 90s.  It is comparable to works from the likes of Gin Blossoms and Goo Goo Dolls among others from that era.  The song’s lyrical content joins that arrangement to add to the song’s interest.

The lyrical theme here seems to center once more on the topic of a relationship that has ended.  What is ended here is that considering the wording that can be deciphered, it would seem that maybe this was a relationship that ended less negatively than others, but still did not end on the best note.  This is inferred as Carlsson sings in the song’s second verse that he “still had so much to say to you.”  This even though the song’s subject sings in the song’s chorus, “I see your highs/I see your lows/I see them everywhere I go.”  it really is a matter that will connect with listeners in that it seems to find the two people in the relationship at a unique position.  Maybe it is that post breakup moment in which maybe the healing has started.  It would be interesting to learn precisely what is happening here.  If in fact that is what is happening here, it would explain the more positive sense that the song’s arrangement establishes.  Keeping this in mind, it shows even more why the song is such an interesting addition to The Hawkins’ new album.  What’s more, it shows even more why the album is such a positive new effort from the band.  When this song is considered along with the other songs examined here, and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album becomes a work that although independent, is just as enjoyable as anything that The Hawkins’ more well-known counterparts have released past or present.  It is a work that is just as deserving as so many others to get a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new rock and independent albums lists.

The Hawkins’ new album Silence is a Bomb is a strong new offering from the independent rock band.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which are diverse in their own right, displaying elements of pure rock, emo, and even punk among other rock sub genres.  They collectively make the album appealing in its own right to listeners.  The record’s lyrical themes are just as accessible as their musical counterparts.  This is proven through all three of the songs examined where.  When those songs are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a wok that deserves consideration on this year’s lists of top new rock and independent albums lists.  It is scheduled for release Friday through The Sign Records.  More information on Silence is a Bomb is available along with all of The Hawkins’ latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://thehawkinsband.com

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

 

 

 

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

‘Radical Waves’ Is A Musical Wave That Stoner Rock Fans Will Enjoy Riding

Courtesy: The Sign Records

The world of stoner rock has produced a variety if notable names throughout its history.  From the likes of Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, and Fu Manchu, to Fireball Ministry, Kyuss, The Sword and more, stoner rock fans have a lot of bands from which to choose as their favorite(s).  Fans of the genre added another option to that list Friday with the release of Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves.  The 10-song record will appeal to any fan of the genre in part because of its musical arrangements.  They will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content works with its musical arrangements to add even more appeal for audiences.  It will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out is most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here does its own key part for the whole of Radical Waves.  All things considered, they make the album a work that stoner rock fans will find radical in itself.

Fledgling stoner rock band Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves is a good start for the group.  It is a work that will appeal to a wide range of the genre’s fans.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  From start to the end of the 42-minute record, the guitar-driven arrangements display all of the trademarks of the stoner rock genre.  The fuzz effect is there in the guitars as is the nuanced effect of the drums, with their heavy, thundering approach and the equally heavy low-end from the bass alongside the gritty, semi-screaming vocals.  That is not all that is exhibited throughout the record’s arrangements.  The noted instrumentation and styles also boasts a clear doom rock influence a la Black Sabbath.  ‘M.O.O.D.,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is one of the most notable of those arrangements that couples the doom and stoner influences.  One could go so far as to argue that the combination of the elements with this heavy, plodding composition is comparable to works from Crowbar.  Front man Samuel Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery couples with the noted heavy, fuzzed guitars, drummer Dagur Atlason’s time keeping and bassist Pornsteinn Arnason’s low-end to make the song’s arrangement a rich, heavy composition.  Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery style is very much like that of Crowbar front man Kirk Windstein and Fireball Minsitry front man James A. Rota.  His stylistic approach on guitar is instantly comparable to works from Queens of the Stone Age, Fireball Ministry, and Kyuss.  Much the same can be said of the drumming style from Atlason.

‘I’m Off’ is another notable of the album’s most notable arrangements.  Where ‘M.O.O.D.’ exhibits doom and stoner influences, ‘I’m Off’ is more of a pure stoner rock composition.  Its driving, fuzzed guitar approach, heavy low-end and drumming is immediately likened to works from Queens of the Stone Age in its own right.  Asgeirsson’s vocal delivery here continues to show that Kirk Windstein type approach.  The end result is a presentation that again will appeal to a wide range of stoner rock fans in its own right.

‘Sushi Sam’ is another way in which the album’s musical arrangements prove their value to its presentation.  Yes, the stoner rock sound that is so evident throughout the album is just as evident here as anywhere else on the record.  What is most important to note here is that while the stoner rock influence is as clear as ever here, the stylistic approach in this work is more of a classic rock vibe than something modern.  The use of the cowbell, the guitar solo and general arrangement gives the song that throwback vibe. There is also something in the song’s production that adds to that sense, considering the sound of the drums and guitars.  This will be addressed later.  Keeping in mind the arrangement here, that of the other songs noted and those of the rest of the album’s songs, the arrangement in whole leave little doubt as to their importance.  They collectively give audiences plenty to appreciate.  The arrangements are but one part of what makes Radical Waves a presentation that stoner rock fans will find worth hearing.  The album’s lyrical content presents its own interest.

The lyrical content featured throughout the course of Radical Waves’ nearly 43-minute run is varied in its own right.  ‘I’m Off’ is one of the most interesting of the song’s lyrical presentations.  Considering what is decipherable without a lyrics sheet to reference, the song comes across as a work that just celebrates having a good time.  Asgeirson leaves little doubt as to that as he sings in the song’s chorus, “We’re gonna get f*****’ wasted tonight.”  He additionally states, “bring a six-pack/Light a cigarette/We’re gonna get f*****’ wasted tonight.”  This critic does not advocate drug and alcohol use of any kind, as a reminder.  That aside, what the band infers overall between this note and the rest of the song’s lyrical content is that noted theme of enjoying life and making the most of a situation.  It is a celebration of sorts, which would explain the high energy in the song’s musical arrangement.  To that end, it will connect with audiences, ensuring their entertainment and engagement in its own right.  It is just one way in which the album’s lyrical content proves important.  ‘Super Duper Van’ is another key addition to the album in regards to its lyrical content.

‘Super Duper Van’ is a full on psychedelic stoner rock song.  While much of the song’s lyics are indecipherable sans lyrics, just enough is understandable that the noted content is clear.  There is a mention here of “eating a mushroom” (I.E. drug use), and “taking a never-ending ride in outer space.”  There is also mention in this song of putting the pedal to the metal and going on a ride across the desert sands.  The song’s companion video adds to the psychedelia with the band going on a ride in a car that they imagine is a van, which apparently goes into outer space after the pair goes on a trip from drinking some kind of liquid.  The group even goes so far as to even eat some moon cheese during the seemingly drug-induced trip.  Simply put, it can be inferred from the video and what lyrics can be understood, that this song is apparently an old school stoner rock work in every sense of the word. It will appeal to the noted listeners, too.   To that end, it shows even more why this album will appeal to its target audience, and is just one more way in which it does so.  ‘M.O.O.D.’ is yet another was in which the album’s lyrical content proves worth examining.

‘M.O.O.D.’ comes across as being a work about people who are not all that they seem.  This is inferred as Asgeirsson sings about the person being “covered in shame and lies/Behind your perfect wall.”  He adds what sounds like, “It’s not at all so sweet.”  The rest of the song’s lyrical content that follows is similar in style, difficult as it is to decipher.  Enough is just barely able to be understood that it helps to further illustrate the noted message.  To that end, the song will connect with listeners in its own way, too.  Between this song’s lyrical content, that of the other examined songs and of the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of that content proves to offer its own share of engagement and entertainment for audiences.  It still is not the last of the album’s most notable elements.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.

The production of Radical Waves is an interesting aspect.  That is because it is both good and bad.  It is good in that considering how much is going on throughout each song, it is clear painstaking efforts were taken to balance everything.  For the most part, the instrumentation was handled well through the production.  None of the instruments overpowers the other at any point.  On the other hand, the vocals many times sounded washed out and airy.  Asgeirsson’s vocals are difficult to understand at time as a result of this approach.  It sounds like in many cases, that airy effect was intentional.  And if in fact that was the case, it was a bad effect to use.  At other times, it feels like the vocals just blend in too much with the instrumentation.  Now all of this is not to say that the production is a loss.  Again, the balance of the guitars, bass and drums works relatively well here.  It is just that one aspect of the vocals and how they are joined with the instruments.  All of this in mind, it makes the album’s production at least somewhat of a positive to the album’s presentation.  When this is considered along with the album’s overall content, it all comes together to make the album a presentation that stoner rock fans will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Volcanova’s debut album Radical Waves is a positive start for the up-and-coming band.  It is a presentation that stoner rock fans will find worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements exhibit more than just a stoner rock sound and style.  They also display doom rock influences to varying degrees throughout the album.  The album’s lyrical content will generate its own interest among listeners.  The record’s production adds to its interest even being slightly flawed.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered they make Radical Waves a musical wave that stoner rock fans will enjoy riding at least once.  Radical Waves is available now through The Sign Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/volcanova.

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Dictator Ship’s New LP Will Become A Favorite Of Lots Of Rock Fans

Courtesy: The Sign Records

Independent rock band Dictator Ship is scheduled to release its latest studio recording this week.  The band is scheduled to release its new album Your Favorites Friday through The Sign Records.  The seven-song, 27-minute record is one of the most pleasant surprises so far from this year’s crop of new independent releases.  Its DIY-garage style sound is just one of the aspects that makes the album such a surprise.  The lyrical themes that accompany that musical content adds to the noted interest.  The record’s finale, ‘From the Womb to the Tomb’ is just one of the songs that serves to support the noted statements.  ‘Good Thing Gone Bad’ is another notable addition to the album that shows the strength of the record’s collective musical and lyrical content.  It will be addressed a little later.  ‘Just For Fun’ is yet another example of what makes Your Favorites such a surprisingly strong offering.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the album’s other four songs, the result is a record that is certain to be a favorite of any critic for their top new independent albums lists.

Dictator Ship’s new studio recording Your Favorites is one of the biggest surprises of this year’s field of new independent albums.  It is a work that is certain to become a favorite of audiences and critics alike with its collective musical and lyrical content.  The album’s closer, ‘From the Womb to the Tomb’ is just one of the songs featured in the record that serves to support the noted statements.  The song’s upbeat musical arrangement features an instantly infectious garage rock style sound from guitarists Petter Heinemann and John Sijbren Leonard that will appeal to fans of bands, such as MC5, The Stooges and The Saints.  Drummer Viktor Henriksson and bassist David Ericsson add even more depth to the song and in turn make the arrangement that much more fun for listeners.  Henriksson fills almost every single second of the song’s five-minute-plus run time, but at the same time utilizes every second in the best way possible.  Every beat, every fill, and every cymbal crash is expertly placed alongside the work of his band mates, rounding out the song so well while Ericsson’s work on bass compliments the work of Heinemann and Sijbren in its own way, creating plenty of wonderful harmonies.  All things considered here, the song’s musical arrangement serves to close out the album just as strongly as ‘In The Heat of the Night’ opened the album, taking listeners out on the best note.

While the musical content featured in ‘From the Womb to the Tomb’ clearly goes a long way toward making the song such a strong addition to Your Favorites, it is just one part of what makes the song (and record in the bigger picture) work so well.  The song’s lyrical content adds its own share of interest to its presentation.  Heinemann sings in the song’s lead verse, “Can I ever have/A moment of peace alone/Guess that’s too much to ask…But I don’t care too much for/Your f***** up demands…From the womb to the tomb/I will be left…Won’t be fooled by you.”  The second verse make mention of “just trying to get by” and someone’s back being against the wall.”  Not having a lyrics sheet to reference makes some of this content difficult to understand.  However, just enough of the lyrics are decipherable that a general interpretation can be made about the song’s lyrical theme.  This comes across as being a song about someone being fed up with dealing with people being a certain way and who just wants to live life the best way possible.  Again, this is based on what lyrics are decipherable without a lyrics sheet.  If in fact that is the message being delivered here, then the song’s high energy would seem to fit, as it would seem to illustrate the energy in the subject’s mind as he (or she) tries to deal with those thoughts and tries to stay as positive as possible.  Even the mention of figuring having a moment of peace being too much to ask would seem to play into that theme.  Keeping that in mind, the whole of the song’s musical and lyrical content goes a long way toward showing why the song is just one of this record’s most notable works, and the overall strength of the album.  It is just one of the record’s most notable entries, too.  ‘Good Thing Gone Bad’ is another example of what makes Your Favorites work as well as it does.

The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Good Thing Gone Bad’ is another infectious guitar-driven work complete with great drum fills and guitar solos that at times, conjure thoughts of some of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s best works.  Interestingly enough, Heinemann’s vocals sound eerily like King’s X vocalist dUg Pinnick.  It’s a sound that has to be heard in order to be fully appreciated.  The arrangement in whole comes in at just under four-and-a-half minutes, but leaves listeners feeling fulfilled by the end, and breathless in the best way.  That is because the energetic opus leaves listeners breathless by its end.  The song’s musical arrangement clearly does a lot to make itself entertaining and engaging for audiences, and it is just one part of why the song is important to note.  Its lyrical content adds to its appeal.

Heinemann sings in the song’s lead verse, “…It’s all about getting what I need/Public enemy number one/Coming straight from the lost and found/I don’t work/I don’t pay no rent/I’m just a juvenile delinquent/Don’t know what I’m looking for/I’m in trouble/Knocking on your door/Every dream I ever had/Always seemed to end up on the floor.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Don’t care about politics/The Prime Minister makes me sick/Terrorist or criminal/The kind of person you don’t like at all/I’m not afraid of my own thoughts/I’m not afraid I might get caught/Trying to get what I never had/Somehow it makes me feel so sad/Everybody keeps telling me/I ain’t nothing but a good thing gone bad.”  This is something truly interesting to think about because when you look at the overall picture here, this comes across as what would otherwise be a seemingly downer of a song.  This is someone who clearly has had a rough life in his own view.  He even mentions in the song’s third and final verse, “Give me heaven or give me hell…Did I every make you cry/Did I ever bring water to your eyes/Did you ever feel mistreated.”  There is a lot of heavy thought here, yet the song’s musical arrangement is anything but heavy.  At least, it is not heavy in the sense of being emotionally heavy.  Rather, it comes across as more of a celebratory tone musically.  That might work, too, when one looks closer at these lyrical notes.  One could argue that maybe the song’s subject has become complacent with that past, and rather than letting it get and keep him doing, he is just accepting it, despite feeling sad.  That mention of “give me heaven or give me hell” seems to be the point at which he really accepts the situation.  As always, this is all the interpretation of just this one critic.  It could be wrong, but hopefully is close to being correct if not precisely correct.  Regardless, the fact that the combination of the song’s lyrical and musical content can generate such thought (and certainly discussion in general on the song) shows even more its importance.  It is just one more of the songs that makes the album stand out.  ‘Just For Fun’ is one more of the album’s most notable works.

‘Jus For Fun’ opens with a sound that immediately cries Stevie Ray Vaughan thanks to all involved.  The band launches right into the song, wasting no time in the process, and almost instantly leans more into that familiar King’s X sound.  At points, the two influences meld together to form a whole that leaves little doubt why it is such a strong offering.  Between the wild, yet controlled time keeping to the infectious guitar work and the solid low-end to the vocals, everything is done right here.  Yet again, by the time the song reaches its finale, it leaves listeners feeling so fulfilled.  The song’s run time is three-minutes, 41 seconds, yet the song feels longer and in the best way possible.  Considering that, this song is sure to be a hit single for Dictator Ship’s new album, given the right support.  When the song’s lyrical content is considered alongside the noted musical content, it becomes clearer why this song is certain to be its own favorite (yes, that awful pun was intended) among audiences.

The song opens with Heinemann singing, “Time after time you hear me say/I’m sorry for misleading you/At the end of the day…shed some tears/Said take me back like you always do/Do it, baby/It makes me wanna lift my mind/Give it to me baby/Don’t you stop until I’ve had enough.”  The second verse is slightly more difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet, but there are mentions of hugging and kissing and other related items.  Considering all of this, and the manic energy in the song’s lyrical content, the song’s lyrical topic comes across as being relatively clear.  That is especially as he and his band mates return to that mention in the refrain of the song’s chorus late in the song’s nearly four-minute run time.  This is just an upbeat song about two people being together and the happiness that one brings the other.  Keeping that in mind, the song’s lyrical and musical content are a perfect fit for one another, and will put a smile on any listener’s face.  When the power of this song is considered along with the impact of the other songs discussed here and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the LP proves without doubt why it is a record that is well-deserving of attention by any rock fan.

Usually when one hears the word dictatorship, the term typically elicits a rather negative connotation.  Now in the case of the band Dictator Ship, the connotation is anything but bad.  This independent rock band has definitely proven with its new record that it has the chance to *ahem* rule in its own right.  That is of course dependent on the band getting the right support.  That is proven through all three of the songs addressed here and the rest of the album’s songs.  More information on the album is available online along with all of Dictator Ship’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/dictatorship.

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