Bobby Watson’s New LP Is Another Mostly Successful Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Jazz Albums

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions Records

Jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson released his latest album, Back Home in Kansas City Friday through Smoke Sessions Records.  The 11-song record is his 21st as a band leader and fourth to be released through Smoke Sessions Records and comes two years after the release of his then latest album, Keepin’ It Real.  The 65-minute record is a wonderful introduction to Watson and his work for new audiences and just as welcome among his established audiences.  That is proven through each of the record’s diverse compositions beginning with the record’s opener, ‘Back Home in Kansas City.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  The relaxed vibes of ‘Celestial’ make it just as notable as ‘Back Home in Kansas City’.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Blues For Alto,’ the record’s closer, is yet another enjoyable addition to Watson’s new LP and will also be discussed later.  Each song examined here is important in its own way to the whole of Back Home in Kansas City.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s equally engaging and entertaining works, the whole makes the album overall not only one of the best of this year’s new jazz albums field, but also one of the year’s best new albums overall.

Back Home in Kansas City, the latest album from Bobby Watson, is a wonderfully enjoyable new offering from the veteran jazz saxophonist that is appealing on so many levels and will appeal to so many audiences.  Its appeal is made clear right from its outset in the record’s opener/title track.  Right from the song’s outset, the light bouncy vibe that Watson and his fellow musicians – Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Curtis Lundy (bass), Victor Jones (drums) – create immediately lends itself to comparison to ‘Lester Leaps In.’  That song was crafted by another saxophonist many decades ago, Lester Young.  Given the two songs sound different, but the overall stylistic approach taken in the title track here is really that close in style and sound.  That this song still maintains its own identity even with that in mind makes the composition all the more enjoyable.  Sadly, the liner notes featured in this album, which were penned by Academy Award®-winning film director and screenwriter Kevin Willmott does not offer any background on the song (or any of the album’s songs for that matter), but thankfully at least the media received some background in a press release announcing the album’s release.  The release notes of the song that apparently uses the melody from the old Dixieland take of ‘Back Home in Indiana’ and Charlie Parker’s ‘Donna Lee’ for its structure.  That is a unique background to consider, again, considering the noted stylistic similarity to ‘Lester Leaps In.’  It really makes for so much more interest in this song while perhaps renewing interest in the other songs and makes this just one of the songs that stands out in Watson’s new record.

Another song that stands out in this record comes in the form of Celestial.’  As noted already, the liner notes featured with the album sadly offer no background on any of the album’s songs.  The information provided to the media about the album also has no background on this song.  It is quite the polar opposite of ‘Back Home In Kansas City.’  Where that song is so upbeat and energetic, this song is so relaxed and subdued.  It is really one of those Make-Believe Ballroom type works that is so danceable.  The subtle use of the drums against the horns and piano leads to visions of the old upscale jazz clubs from the 1940s, the big band orchestra in its seats as people dressed in their finest dance hand in hand.  Watson’s solo here is so rich in its controlled approach, too.  There is so much warmth in his performance that audiences cannot help but remain engaged.  Much the same can be said of Pelt’s performance during his solo.  Going back to the fact that there is no background available about this song at all, the first thought that comes to mind in listening to this song and reading its title, is that of someone sitting outside on a warm night, looking up at the stars as they come out.  That likely is not the backstory here, but to that end, it shows the importance of liner notes.  Smoke Sessions Records is typically much better about presenting background about songs in albums released by its artists.  It is disappointing that such background is not here.

Getting back on the subject at hand, there is at least one more song here to note.  That song is the album’s closer, ‘Blues For Alto.’  The information provided to the media about this song is quite limited.  The news release states only that the song is “self-explanatory.”  There is nothing else.  Listening to the six minute-plus song, it does have a nice, bluesy touch thanks to Watson’s work as he leads the way.  Jones’ gentle brush strokes on the snare and time keeping on the hi-hat add just the right touch to the whole, as does Lundy’s work on the bass solo.  Yes, even he gets his moment to shine in this record.    Once again, it certainly would have been nice to have had some more background on the song (and the rest of the album’s entries), but either way, the song is enjoyable in its own right what with its bluesy jazz approach and sound.  It makes the song a welcome finale for Watson’s new record that will leave audiences smiling, wanting more in the best way possible.  When it is considered alongside the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album in general one more welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Back Home In Kansas City, the new album from Bobby Watson, is a mostly successful new offering from the veteran jazz saxophonist.  That is proven from one song to the next.  The diversity in the arrangements and the sequencing thereof is certain to make the album a favorite among jazz fans.  The songs examined here do well to make that clear, even sans any background on the songs.  When these songs and the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes the LP one more of the year’s top new jazz albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Back Home in Kansas City is available through Smoke Sessions Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Bobby Watson’s latest news at:

Website: https://bobbywatson.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bobbywatson251

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.   

Empiires Debuts New Single, ‘Invincible,’ Companion Video

Courtesy: Yvonne’s World PR

Independent hard rock band Empiires premiered its latest single and video this week.

The band debuted its new single, ‘Invincible‘ and its lyric video Wednesday. The premieres come on the heels of the premiere of the band’s then latest single, ‘In This Moment’ and its companion video in April.

Prior to the premiere of ‘In This Moment,’ the band premiered another single, ‘Stronger‘ and its companion lyric video in November. The band’s latest single is very similar in its sound and stylistic approach to its predecessors what with its modern melodic hard rock approach. The driving tempo and overall instrumentation immediately grabs audiences and ensures their engagement and entertainment through to the song’s end.

The energy in the song’s musical arrangement pairs well with the song’s lyrical theme, which is a statement of proud defiance against the obstacles that we all face in life. It is a theme that permeates the band’s other singles, too, making it just as welcome here as in the case of those songs.

The video for ‘Invincible’ is also very much in the vein of the videos that accompany the band’s other singles. That is evidenced through the futuristic backdrop that is used throughout the song.

More information on Empiires’ new single and video is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/empiiresofficial

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/empiiresofcl

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.

‘Star Trek Picard: Season 2’ Struggles To Survive

Courtesy: Paramount/CBS DVD

Hardcore fans of the seemingly ever-expanding Star Trek universe got some good news this year when it was announced that Star Trek Picard, which focuses on legendary Federation Captain turned Admiral Jean Luc Picard, would get a third season run.  The wait for the series’ third and final season will not be too long for said audiences, either, as it is currently planned to stream on Paramount+ from Feb. 16 to April 20, 2023 over 10 episodes.  While audiences wait for the series’ final season, they can take in the series’ second season on DVD and Blu-ray now in a new three-disc set released through CBS DVD.  Of course, this latest installment in the series sadly has little to applaud, save for a couple of high points.  The most notable of the high points is the fact that it relies far less on the foul language and blood and gore of the first season.  This will be discussed shortly.  On the other hand, though, there is a lot to dislike about the season’s story and the packaging for the season’s home release.  This will be examined a little later. The only other positive to this season is the surprise season finale, which will be discussed but not given away here.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered they make the second season of Picard an intriguing presentation that is worth watching at least once regardless of audiences’ devotion to the Star Trek universe.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is an intriguing continuation of the series, which focuses on the one and only Jean Luc Picard.  That is because of its overall mixed presentation.  One of the few positives to this season is that it relies so much less on the violence and foul language that was incorporated into the series’ debut season.  The writers relied far too much on that content in Season One, almost as if they knew that otherwise Season One would not work.  Yes, there are some moments of foul language peppered throughout the season, but its presence is so much less in this case than in Season One.  The worst of the bloodshed comes late in the season’s run this time as Seven is run through by the Queen Borg/Agnes (not to give away too much for those who have yet to see this season).  Rios gets injured by one of the borg drones that Dr. Soong uses, but even in that case, the writers kept the bloodshed to a minimum.  It is a nice change of stylistic approach that while still could have been minimalized even more, was still a welcome change in comparison to the level of violence in Season 1.

While the clearly decreased level of violence and foul language incorporated into the second season of Picard makes it more worth watching, this season still fails in so many ways, not the least of which is its story.  The story in question finds Q (John De Lancie) sending Jean Luc and his friends back in time to the 21st century, apparently out of his own bizarre sense of something.  He admits in the end that he just wanted Jean Luc to learn a lesson about forgiving himself (once again, not to give away too much), but he does this at the risk of history being changed forever.  Yes, there is even an alternate timeline bit tied into the season.  What’s more, there is even an indirect reference to none other than Quantum Leap as part of the story.  That really is what audiences get here.  Picard and company go back in time and have to ensure history’s safety, this time all because Q has some quirky fascination with Jean Luc even as he (Q) is dying. 

Complicating matters even more is that Picard and his rogue’s gallery of friends have to ensure that the borg queen, who essentially possesses Agnes, does not manage to take over 21st century Earth and turn it into a borg planet.  Adding even more to the complication is Dr. Soong and his role in everything.  He lets his selfish desire for fame and immortality (literal and figurative) blind him and makes things even more difficult for Jean Luc and company.  Considering that Jean Luc already had to battle the Borg in Star Trek First Contact in order to preserve history, this whole story arc becomes all the less original.  The only difference is that instead of making sure that first contact is made, he has to ensure that his ancestor precedes that moment and joins the flight to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

As if all of this was not problematic enough, the writers incorporate a completely cheesy and unnecessary romance subplot between Rios and a young, single mother who runs her own clinic in Los Angeles.  Obviously, Rios’ own future is set early on and audiences know what will happen here.

The fact that the writers drag out this season’s story as much as they do over 10 episodes, ensuring that Jean Luc keeps getting into so many tough spots, using so much exposition as he recalls his childhood that led him to become the stoic person her became known as during his life, makes for even more problem.  It makes the season feel so much longer than it really is.  To that end, if Season One failed to live up to expectations, then all of this together makes this season fail to live up to expectations even more so because of its overall

The writing is just one of the very problematic issues that Season Two faces.  The season’s packaging proves problematic in its own way.  The three discs over which the season’s 10 episodes are spread are poorly packaged for starters.  Disc One sits on its own spot inside the Blu-ray case while Disc two sits atop Disc three with nothing to protect Disc two from getting marred by Disc 3.  This greatly decreases the potential longevity of at least one of the discs if not both, depending on which one ends up sitting atop the other from one point to another.

Adding to the problems of the packaging is the fact that there is no hint of an episode guide anywhere in the packaging.  The episode titles are printed on the discs, but that is the extent of what audiences get here.  The result is that audiences who have not yet seen Season Two will just have to sit and wait to find out what happens from one episode to the next.  What’s more, even those who are familiar with the series might forget each episode specifically, so even they might end up having to go through just to remember which episode has what aspect of the story.  This greatly diminishes the general effect of Season Two along with the massive writing problems that plague this season.

Keeping all of this in mind, there is at least one aspect of the story that does work.  That aspect is the season’s surprising finale, which actually ties (at least indirectly) back to the story element from Season One involving the Borg.  Audiences who have seen Season One will recall that Jean Luc made the revelation that the Borg were more victims than the monsters that they were made out to be for so much time.  That realization likely led to Picard to ultimately make the decision to give talks with the Borg the chance to talk in the first place in the season premiere (and finale).  The revelation that is made at season’s end is sure to play into the coming third and final season.  It makes all of the slow boil buildup to that point at least somewhat bearable.  Keeping that in mind, this final aspect of the season works with the lessened violence and foul language to make the season worth watching at least once.

The second season of Star Trek Picard is hardly the presentation that it clearly could have been.  It could have done so much right, but sadly did so much else.  That is not to say that it is a total failure.  It succeeds in that it uses far less foul language and overt violence (including bloodshed) than was used in Season One.  The surprise finale to Season Two makes for its own interest, too.  It is certain to shock plenty of longtime Star Trek fans.  These two elements make up at least somewhat for all of the failures that are so prevalent throughout Season Two’s writing and packaging, which are so problematic in themselves and collectively.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the second season of Picard.  All things considered they make Star Trek Picard: Season 2 come up even shorter than the series’ first season.

Star Trek Picard: Season 2 is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. More information on Star TrekPicard is available along with all of CBS All Access’ latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.cbs.com/allaccess

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/CBSAllAccess

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/cbs

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Keith Jarrett’s ‘Bordeaux Concert’ Is A Unique Addition To 2022’s Field Of New Live Recordings

Courtesy: ECM Records

This past Friday, pianist Keith Jarrett released his new live recording, Bordeaux Concert through ECM Records.  The 13-song recording is an intriguing presentation that audiences will agree is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in large part to its featured set list, which will be discussed shortly.  While the set list makes the recording worth hearing at least once, the lack of any liner notes detracts from the recording’s appeal to a point.  This will be addressed a little later.  The recording’s production works with its set list to make for slightly more interest.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Bordeaux Concert.  All things considered they make the overall presentation a peculiar work that the most devoted of Jarrett’s established audiences will find appealing.

Bordeaux Concert, the new live recording from pianist Keith Jarrett, is a unique addition to this year’s field of new live recordings that will appeal to the most devoted of Jarrett’s established audiences.  That is due in large part to the recording’s featured set list.  The term set list used very loosely here.  That is because they 13 songs that make up the concert’s body are in fact apparently part of one whole work that Jarrett performs here.  The first half of the concert’s songs are very energetic, modernist type compositions that find Jarrett making his way up and down the piano’s keyboard, playing in very staccato style notes that just feel and sound like a complete cacophony.  The concert’s set half is the exact opposite, with more thoughtful compositions that sound like they belong on the soundtrack of some romantic drama.  The songs allegedly were, at the time, all new and improvised works, according to information provided about the recording.  Sadly, that information and more was not provided in the recording’s booklet.  This will be addressed shortly.  Getting back on the subject at hand, that the concert’s body was seemingly all original makes for its own interest.  It meant that Jarrett did not want to just rehash works with which audiences were already familiar.  If that truly is the case, the songs were all improvised and new, then that in itself makes them worth hearing.

As noted already, the booklet that accompanies Jarrett’s new live recording does not include any background on the concert.  The information was provided to the media in news releases distributed to media outlets only.  The information outlines that the concert featured herein was Jarrett’s last concert in France.  It was performed in 2016 at the Auditorium de l’Opera National de Bordeaux on July 6, 2016.  That information, the date and location of the concert is actually printed on the back of the recording’s exterior case.  Other than that, there is no background information at all about the concert featured herein.  This is important because there are audiences out there who may be less familiar with Jarrett and his work than others.  Those fans who are less familiar with Jarrett and his work are in turn left to have to do so much research into him before even considering whether to buy this presentation.  So again, not having any of that information available makes for a notable negative to the overall presentation.  It is not enough to doom the recording but is still important to address.

Knowing that the lack of any background information on Bordeaux Concert is not enough to doom the recording, there is still one more item to address.  That item is the record’s production, but also circles back around to the importance of having liner notes.  The information provided to the media notes that more than 100 people were in attendance for the concert featured herein.  Even with that many people there, one would not know that the concert was in fact that until the audience’s applause is heard at the end of the first performance.  The sound is that rich from beginning to end.  If not for that applause, the sound otherwise comes across as sharply as a studio recording.  That is a true testament to the work of those responsible for the recording’s production.  It makes for a mostly positive general effect for the recording.  When that positive general effect is considered alongside the recording’s content, the two items collectively make Bordeaux Concert worth hearing at least once.

Bordeaux Concert, the latest live recording from pianist Keith Jarrett, is an intriguing presentation that will appeal primarily to the most devoted of Jarrett’s audiences.  That is due in large part to the material that makes up the concert’s body.  That material is, seemingly new content that apparently is improvised from the concert’s beginning to its end.  Even more interesting is that it seems to be clearly divided up into two distinct halves.  The first half of the concert is composed of very peculiar, modernist compositions while the second half is far more widely accessible by comparison.  While the recording’s “set list” makes for reason enough to hear the presentation at least once, the lack of any background on the concert in the recording’s booklet detracts notably from the whole.  The recording’s production works with the content to make for at least some more reason to hear the whole.  That is because of the clarity of sound that results from the production.  When it and the concert’s primary content are considered together, they make Bordeaux Concert worth hearing at least once.

Bordeaux Concert is available through ECM Records. More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

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.  

Saxon Announces New Live Dates; Premieres New Single, Video

Courtesy: Silver Linings Music

Saxon is gearing up to hit the road next month for a trip across Europe.

The band recently announced it will launch the European leg of its “Seize The Day World Tour” Sunday in Paris, France. The tour is scheduled to run through Nov. 26 in London, England, and is in support of Saxon’s latest album, Carpe Diem, which was released in February through Silver Linings Music.

The tour’s schedule is noted below. Tickets for the tour’s EU dates are available here. Tickets for the UK leg are available here.

SEIZE THE DAY WORLD TOUR:

EUROPE:

2 October – FRANCE – Paris, Trianon
3 October – NETHERLANDS – Tilburg, 013
4 October – GERMANY – Hannover, Capitol
6 October – GERMANY – Berlin, Admiralspalast
7 October – GERMANY – Munich, Muffathalle
8 October – GERMANY – Offenbach, Capitol
10 October – ITALY – Milan, Alcatraz
11 October – SWITZERLAND – Pratteln Z7
12 October – BELGIUM – Antwerp, Trix
13 October – NETHERLANDS – Haarlem, Patronaat
15 October – DENMARK – Aarhus, Train
17 October – SWEDEN – Gothenburg, Pustervik
18 October – NORWAY – Oslo, Rockefeller
19 October – DENMARK – Copenhagen, Amager Bio
21 October – NETHERLANDS – Zwolle, Hedon
22 October – FRANCE – Metz, La Bam
23 October – SWITZERLAND – Lausanne, Les Docks

UK:

11 November – Ipswich, Regent Theatre
12 November – Southampton O2 Guildhall
13 November – Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
14 November – Cardiff, St. David’s Hall
15 November – Bath, Forum
16 November – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
18 November – Newcastle, O2 City Hall

19 November – Blackburn, King George’s Hall
20 November – Aberdeen, Music Hall
21 November – Glasgow, Barrowland
22 November – Hull, City Hall
23 November – York, Barbican
25 November – Leicester, De Montfort Hall
26 November – London, Roundhouse

In related news, Saxon debuted the video for its latest single from Carpe Diem, ‘Black is the Night’ Sept. 21. Its debut follows that of the video for another single from the album, ‘Remember The Fallen.’ That video and single premiered Jan. 11.

The video for ‘Black is the Night’ blends footage of the band performing its new single with the story of a man in a forest, having to fend for himself against the elements. The musical arrangement in the song blends elements of the band’s power metal leanings with a bluesy guitar solo to make the whole a powerful presentation in its own right.

No information was provided about the song’s lyrical theme.

 More information on Saxon’s new tour schedule, its new video, single, and album is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

Websitehttp://www.saxon747.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/saxon

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/SaxonOfficial

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

MPI Media Group Announces Release Date For New Munsters Collection

Courtesy: mpi Media Group

Rocker/director Rob Zombie’s “prequel” origin story of The Munsters is scheduled for release this week on digital and Blu-ray, but for those looking for something more along the lines of the original show, mpi Media Group has something on the way next month.

mpi Media Group announced Monday, it is scheduled to release Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures Oct. 4. The classic presentation is scheduled for release exclusively on DVD. The forthcoming special marks the first time ever that the 1965 TV special will have seen the light of day on DVD.

Along with the title special, the collection also includes a 1966 full-color The Munsters themed “episode” featuring star Fred Gwynne in costume and character as the beloved bumbling head of the Munster household, Herman on The Danny Kaye Show. There are also some rare and vintage segments from other talk shows and a new featurette titled “Munster Memories.” The special presentation features Butch Patrick (who played Eddie Munster in the original series).

In addition, guest appearances by Edie Adams and Joey Bishop, as well as music from New Christy Minstrels.

Marineland Carnival with The Munsters TV Show Cast & More Lost Treasures will retail for MSRP of $19.98. Its run time is listed as two hours.

More information on this and other titles from mpi Media Group is available along with all of the company’s latest news at:

Website: https://mpihomevideo

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

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.

Howdytoons’ Latest LP Is A Blast About Creatures From The Past

Courtesy: Howdytoons Productions, Inc.

Family music act Howdytoons is scheduled to release its latest album, Dinosaurs & Monsters Friday through its own label, Howdytoons Productions, Inc.  The band’s fourth album in its ongoing “dinosaur rock” series of releases, the nine-song album is a fun new offering for the entire family.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be examined shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements makes for its own interest and will be examined a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered they make the album just one more enjoyable addition to this year’s field of family music albums.

Dinosaurs & Monsters, the latest new album from family music act Howdytoons, only runs nine songs deep, but in that spread, it offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, beginning with the album’s musical content.  The musical content comes largely in the form of some hard rocking compositions that are still mostly family friendly.  There is a touch of some ska and reggae to mix things up a bit, too.  The whole thing opens with a Soundgarden-esque composition in ‘Allosuarus.’  That comparison is most evident in the song’s verses.  More specifically, the comparison is to Soundgarden’s hit song, ‘Spoonman.’  At the same time though, the chromatic scale used in the guitar line in the verses is also comparable to Filter’s hit single, ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot.’  ‘Dimetrodon,’ which immediately follows immediately conjures thoughts of works from System of a Down.  ‘Brachiosaurus’ is just as easily comparable to Marilyn Manson’s cover of the Eurhythmics’ single, ‘Sweet Dreams.’  So right here in this first trio of songs, grown-ups get songs that will appeal to them while also introducing young listeners to some fun rocking compositions.  ‘Brontosaurs is Back’ changes things up with its ska approach and gives way to the even easier moving reggae style composition, ‘Diplodocus.’  From there, things pull back even more with the folk style Stegosaurus.’  Things gradually pick back up after that song, carrying listeners through to the album’s end with three more rocking songs in the kindie-rock of ‘I’m a Pterodactyl,’ and the much heavier ‘The Kraken’ and ‘Kronosaurus.’  The short and simple of these arrangements is this:  From one to the next, the styles and sounds of the arrangements offer a certain level of variety.  The songs will appeal just as much to grown-ups as to their younger counterparts.  To that end, they form a strong foundation for the record.

Building on the strength thereof is the lyrical content that accompanies that musical content.  The lyrical content featured here is, as the album’s title suggests, about dinosaurs and at least one monster, the kraken.  From the Stegosaurus to the Dimetrodon to the perhaps lesser-known Kronosaurus (which was a real, sea-going dinosaur) and more, the album teaches listeners of all ages about a variety of dinosaurs.  Believe it or not, there are plenty of adults who remember very little about different dinosaurs (and other topics), so to that end, this content serves as a great review for those grown-ups and an equally welcome introduction for young listeners.  What’s more, kids love dinosaurs in general.  So, adding fun rocking songs to lessons about dinosaurs will just get kids enjoying learning about them even more.  Keeping that in mind, this simple, straight forward lyrical content from one song to the next, as it follows one, central theme makes the lyrical side of this record just as appealing as the album’s musical content.

While the content featured in Dinosaurs & Monsters clearly does plenty to make the album enjoyable, their sequencing puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  As noted already, the sounds and styles featured in the arrangements changes ever so much from one to the next, at least in regards to the heavier content.  The placement of the more pop-oriented songs in the middle of the album shows even more the time and thought that went into the album’s sequencing.  It shows the band did not want audiences to grow tired of the album.  That effort paid off, too.  That is because it ensures the stability of the album’s energy even as the sounds and styles of the songs change from one to the next.  Keeping that in mind, the album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  When the positive general effect ensured by the sequencing is considered along with the album’s content, the whole makes the album an enjoyable presentation for audiences of all ages.

Dinosaurs & Monsters, the latest album from family music act Howdytoons, is a presentation that the entire family will find enjoyable.  That is due in part to its musical content, which provides some fun rocking tunes that grown-ups will find familiar and that younger audiences will find a great introduction to the rock realm.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements is straight forward.  It centers on…well…dinosaurs, as with its three predecessors.  That straight forward, accessible presentation ensures audiences’ engagement throughout the album in its own right.  The sequencing of that content brings everything full circle and completes the album’s presentation.  That is because it ensures the album’s energy remains stable even as the sounds and styles of the arrangements changes ever so much throughout the album.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered they make Dinosaurs & Monsters a blast about the past for future generations of audiences.

Dinosaurs & Monsters is scheduled for release Friday through Howdytoons’ own label, Howdytoons Productions, Inc.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/howdytoons.

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 Guitar & Whiskey Club Announces Debut EP Release Date

Courtesy: The Orchard/Sony Music

Independent rock band The Guitar & Whiskey Club will release its debut EP this fall.

The band is scheduled to release the record Nov. 7 through The Orchard/Sony Music. The band has been working on the EP since 2019. From beginning to end, the EP features elements of southern rock, “sleaze rock” and even a touch of 80s rock, according to information provided about the EP.

The record’s lyrical themes vary just as much, focusing on life on the road (touring), the impact of the decisions we make in life, and the all too familiar topic of a broken relationship.

Founding member/guitarist Jeffrey Donovan talked about the record’s creation amid the pandemic during a recent interview.

“The pandemic was hell,” Donovan said. “Gigs were cancelled, studios closed, everyone was locked in their houses. Some of the members suffered from what I call ‘pandecitis’, a lack of inspiration and the will to continue.”

The Guitar & Whiskey Club is available to pre-order through Amazon.

More information on the record is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Website: https://guitarandwhiskeyclub.com

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

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.

BMG’s Re-Issue Of Motorhead’s ‘Iron Fist’ Is A Mostly Successful Offering

Courtesy: BMG

Motorhead’s 1982 album, Iron Fist, is among the more important entries in the band’s expansive catalog of studio recordings.  The band’s fifth album, it was the last that featured the band’s original lineup of front man Lemmy Kilmister, drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” and guitarist Eddie Clarke.  It was also a presentation that has come to be known as one of the band’s more controversial records.  That is because of the back story of its production.  Originally produced by Vic Maile, its production would eventually be completed by Clarke.  The discussions on the changeup have shown different thoughts and explanations on what happened, but even Kilmister himself said in 2000 of the record, that it was among his least favorite albums because of the production.  Now four decades after the album’s release, it has received another re-issue, its second following one re-issue in 1996 through Castle Communications and a second in 2005 through Sanctuary Records.  This latest re-issue comes through BMG.  It is accented by two discs of bonus content and new liner notes.  This will all be addressed shortly.  While the bonus content featured in this new re-issue anchors its presentation, the production of the original album really does prove somewhat problematic, proving Kilmister right.  It will be addressed a little later.  The various platforms on which the record has been made available are of their own note and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this re-issue.  All things considered they make the 40th Anniversary re-issue of Motorhead’s Iron Fist an interesting presentation that most of the band’s fans will find worth adding to their libraries.

BMG’s new 40th anniversary re-issue of Motorhead’s Iron Fist is a presentation that casual fans and the band’s most devoted fans will find worth adding to their libraries.  The presentation here is anchored by the bonus content featured with the re-issue.  The bonus content is being marketed as being previously unreleased, but that is not entirely the case.  Some of the bonus content featured here was previously released in the album’s 1996 Castle Communications re-issue of the album.  Among the bonus content carried over from that re-issue are ‘(Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind You Down’ (Alternative Edition) and ‘Young and Crazy’ (Alternative take of ‘Sex & Outrage’).  ‘Lemmy Goes to the Pub’ (Alternative take of ‘Heart of Stone’) is also included here, carried over from the Castle Recordings re-issue.  ‘Same Old Song, I’m Gone’ (Alternate take of ‘Remember Me, I’m Gone’) is also here along with ‘Remember Me, I’m Gone,’ which was also a Castle Recordings bonus track.  The previously unreleased content comes primarily in the form of the instrumental tracks, ‘Spongecake,’ ‘Ripsaw Teardown’ and the ‘Peter Gunn’ theme song.  That track is quite interesting in itself.  The amped up take on the popular song is a fun, rocking composition that stands out strongly on its own positives.  The same can be said of ‘Spongecake.’  The gritty sound of the bass and guitar together alongside the drums gives the song such a great garage punk sound and style that anyone will appreciate.  When it, ‘Peter Gunn’ and ‘Ripsaw Teardown’ are considered together, the trio of instrumentals make for plenty of engagement and entertainment in their own right.  When they are considered along with the other previously released bonus tracks, that collective makes the bonus content all the more a positive for this presentation.

Another bonus that comes with the album’s new re-issue is a “media booklet” that comes with plenty of liner notes and pictures.  Sadly the booklet was not included with media copies of the re-issue so that item cannot be examined.

While the bonus content that accompanies the album’s latest re-issue is important to its presentation, being the likely difficulty in finding the previous re-issues, the overall presentation is not perfect.  As noted earlier, Kilmister noted in an older interview that he was not overly happy with the final product that was Iron Fist because of the production.  In listening to the original album that is part of the overall presentation, the production is questionable.  Klimister’s vocals are washed out in comparison to the instrumentation.  It honestly sounds like his vocals were recorded at a distance while the instruments were quite airy in their own right.  Simply put, the production here is less than perfect.  The thing is though, as questionable as the album’s production is, it serves, to a point, as a historical point for the band.  It shows the band’s growth in terms of that aspect of its records.  So again, while the production is hardly perfect, hearing the problems with this item makes for more appreciation for how far the band came over time following that record’s release.  It is clear that the band learned an important lesson from the album’s production, and in turn improved from one record to the next in this aspect.

Knowing that the production of the album itself does not doom the record, there is still one more item to examine here.  That item is the overall availability of the re-issue.  According to information on the band’s official web store, it is available as part of eight separate packages.  Among those packages is the presentation of the re-issue in a 2-CD set with media book, a 3-disc vinyl set with media book, 2-CD/media book set with t-shirts, and even a complete deluxe set that includes the re-issue on both vinyl and CD, as well as the t-shirts and media book.  The deluxe set is listed at $253 while the simplest package (the 2-CD set) is listed at $20.  The vinyl set is listed at $60.  The 2-CD set with media book and t-shirts is listed at $79.  This is all important to note in that even with shipping and handling, that means most audiences who are likely to buy one of these sets, will pay less than $100 for the complete set.  What’s more, the 2-CD set without the tour t-shirts averages at $22.23 through Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.  Amazon and Target each list the 2-CD set below that average at $19.79, so even with shipping and handling, the final price will still be just over $20.  By comparison, shipping and handling for the 2-CD set with tour shirts will average slightly more, closer to $30.  The bigger picture is this:  Most audiences are likely to purchase the 2-CD or 2-disc vinyl set.  That set comes with the media book, so audiences will not break the bank on the most basic presentation whether through Amazon or Target.  Meanwhile, audiences who are maybe more devoted will be just as open to paying higher prices.  So again, in the end, the wide variety of packages through which the re-issue is available doe prove to be just as positive as the re-issue’s bonus content.  Keeping that in mind, those two items and even the historical importance of the album’s production make this re-issue a presentation that plenty of Motorhead (and rock fans in general) will find worth owning.

BMG’s brand new re-issue of Motorhead’s Iron Fist is an interesting presentation from the company, which has also re-issued records from the likes of Sepultura, Saxon, and Overkill in the past year or so.  Its interest comes in part through its bonus content.  Most of the bonus content was previously released, unlike how it is being marketed.  There is also some previously unreleased content.  Having all of that content in one place makes for its own appeal.  The production of the album itself is questionable, just as Kilmister had said so many years ago before his passing.  At the same time, that production does serve an important historical purpose, so it is still important in its own right.  The widespread availability of the re-issue in terms of various packages (and the outlets through which it is available) rounds out the most important of the re-issue’s elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the re-issue’s presentation.  All things considered they make BMG’s re-issue of Iron Fist a work that most Motorhead fans and rock fans in general will find appealing.

Iron Fist is available now. More information on BMG’s latest Motorhead re-issue is available along with all of the latest Motorhead news at:

Websitehttps://www.motorhead.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/myMotorhead

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.  

‘Curse Of Existence’ Is A Musically, Lyrically Powerful New Offering From Miss May I

Courtesy: SharpTone Records

Early this month, veteran metalcore band Miss May I unveiled its latest album through SharpTone Records.  The band’s seventh album, Curse of Existence is an interesting new presentation from the band that is likely to find the majority of its appeal among the band’s most devoted audiences.  That is proven in part through its musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content will also appeal to that targeted audience.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production puts the final touch to its presentation and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  Collectively, they make Curse of Existence a record that metalcore fans and Miss May I’s established audiences will agree is worth hearing at least once.

Curse of Existence, the latest album from Miss May I, is a presentation that will appeal largely to the most devoted metalcore masses and of the band’s established audiences.   That targeted appeal comes in part through the album’s featured musical content.  The content in question is the band’s familiar blend of metalcore and death metal influences is just as present here as in the band’s existing albums.  From one song to the next, audiences can clearly once again make comparisons to works from the likes of As I Lay Dying, Killswitch Engage, and to a slightly lesser degree, the band’s label mates, Of Mice & Men.  The heavy, crunching down-tuned guitars that rip through each song with the sharpness of a chainsaw pair with the equally tight drums and low-end from the bass to make each song powerful in its own right.  Given, the overall musical content does not necessarily break any new ground for the band, but it is still such that it will appeal to said audiences what with its wall of sound effect from one song to the next.  The addition of front man Levi Benton’s powerhouse screams makes that even clearer.  To that end, the record’s musical arrangements are, again, a safe choice for the band this time out but still play well into the album’s overall presentation.

The musical arrangements featured throughout the course of Curse of Existence are collectively, just one part of what makes Curse of Existence worth hearing at least once.  The record’s overall lyrical body does its own share to make the album engaging.  That is because said content largely presents themes of facing and overcoming adversity in life.  That includes facing it internally and externally. 

As Benton stated in an interview about the album, “Curse of Existence is exactly what it reads, the curse we have in our existence. This doesn’t mean anything strictly negative, but it covers all existence that is the good and the bad, the highs and the lows; the sorrow and the joy. Everything that comes with life comes with a lesson and a price that is what we have put into this album.”

Those highs and lows are present throughout the album’s lyrical content.  The album’s single, ‘Unconquered’ is a prime example of this.  Benton sings/screams in this song of that personal/inner strength.  He states right from the song’s introductory lines, “If it’s us versus the world/Then I will remain/The last man standing/SO bring on the pain” before continuing in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I walk alone through a crowd of eyes/I see a vision of red/terrified/It goes from bad to worse/If every blessing is a curse/Then how will I survive/The walls are closing in/What’s on the other side/It’s been so long/Since I’ve felt alive/Maybe I’m the only one who can save me/From the monster I’ve become lately/All these ghosts still chase me/And there’s nowhere left to run.”  This is that message of realization of one’s self, that realization that a person is at a certain breaking point and it is up to that person to change himself/herself.  Again, it centers on that inner strength to overcome that personal adversity.  The message continues in the chorus tied to the second verse, which states, “So heavy/The world around me/Can’t let it crush me…The only way out is through/And the sun that stops the flood is still inside you.”  He is saying that said inner strength is there and that people must remember they have that power to stop the bad.  It is a message that is certain to resonate with so many audiences.

‘A Smile That Does Not Exist,’ the album’s opener, is another song that is certain to resonate with audiences, what with what comes across as a message of overcoming one’s own mental health struggles.  This is inferred as Benton screams in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “The world has kept the chosen ones free/Safe from the storms that rain down on me/The coming winds of catastrophe/Face the beast or find no peace/Descend into madness/Shattering glass into fragments/Locked eyes watch me writhe across the floor/Pick up the pieces/Come back for more/In the mirror/A blank stare/No one’s there/No one cares/I pretend that we share/A smile that does not exist/My obsession with the darkness in my reflections/I always see the worst in me/Breathe in, Breathe out/Drown in self-doubt/It’s always in your head/But it’s only in your head.”  That final statement that “It’s only in your head” is so important.  It is a reminder that all of those negative thoughts that so many of us fight daily are just that.  They are in our head.  That self-doubt is there, but it can be overcome.  This reminder is so simple, but so important. Benton adds a statement in the song’s second verse of memories fading away, “devouring brighter days.”  Again, this is that emotional darkness that countless millions the world over feel every day.   The reminder that follows once again, that it is all in one’s head is sure to motivate so many listeners.  Once again, it shows the importance of the lyrical content featured in this album. 

‘Bleed Together’ is yet another example of that importance.  In the case of this song, it comes across as a commentary about someone coming to terms with a troubled childhood.  This is inferred most clearly in the song’s second verse, which states, “I only sang a silent lullaby/You let a part of me die/A broken God through a child’s eyes/I’ve walked these hells before/But now I’m re-writing history/Please let the apple fall far from the tree.”  That mention of the apple falling far from the tree is typically used to talk about connections between children and their parents, so to that end, this really does point toward some emotional conflict and disconnect between a child and parent.  Later in the song, he adds, “I will not stand in the shadow of your demons/No/Bury the past in the dirt/I refuse to relive the hurt/There’s only one thing in this short life/I won’t give to you, my dear/The key to all the pain I’ve locked inside.”  Again, this comes across as a discussion from someone facing a past that involved a troubled childhood relationship with a parent.  If in fact this is the case, then it is certain to resonate with audiences in its own right, too.  That is because there are so many people who had those stormy relationships with their parents.  It is another topic that is all too familiar in the rock realm, but one that is still just as relevant today as it has ever been.  To that end, it is yet another clear example of the importance of this album’s lyrical content.  When it and the other themes addressed here are considered alongside the rest of the album’s lyrical themes and with the album’s musical content, the whole creates a solid foundation for the album.

As much as the content featured in Curse of Existence does to make the album worth hearing, there is still one more item to address here.  That item is the album’s production.  The production is important because of its role in the album’s general effect.  Each song featured in this record is so intense, musically.  Thanks to the attention paid to each musician’s part in each song results in each work having so much impact.  No one part overpowers its counterparts at any point in the record.  The result is that the album’s general effect is positive in its own right, too.  Keeping that in mind, the production that went into this record does just as much to make the album worth hearing as the album’s content.  The whole makes Curse of Existence worth hearing at least once.

Curse of Existence, the latest album from veteran metalcore outfit Miss May I, is another work that the most devoted of the band’s audiences and the most devoted metalcore fans will find engaging and entertaining.  This is proven in part through the record’s musical content, which is fully familiar to those audiences.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical arrangements is important, too.  That is because of its accessibility.  The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation, creating a positive general effect that does its own share to keep audiences engaged.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make Curse of Existence anything but a cursed record.

Curse of Existence is available now through SharpTone Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Miss May I’s latest news at:

Website: https://missmayimusic.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/missmayiband

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.