Hot Air Is One Of 2015’s Best New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Recess Monkey

Courtesy: Recess Monkey

Veteran kindie rock band Recess Monkey released its latest full-length studio effort Hot Air last week. The twelfth full-length release from the Seattle, Washington-based trio, it is one of the band’s best works to date. That is thanks in large part to the mix of its indie-rock style musical content and its original lyrical topics. From a song about the joy of taking in a thunderstorm to an equally entertaining piece about speaking “penguin-ese” to a piece that every Star Wars fan ou there (yes, the band even has a song centered on the Star Wars universe), and more Hot Air proves from start to finish just what makes it such a fun record and even one of the year’s best new children’s records.

Nearly a year to the day after it released its 2014 album Wired, Recess Monkey has released its twelfth full-length album Hot Air. Twelve albums is a lot for any musical act regardless of genre. For any musical act to maintain its creativity, energy, and originality over such a span is just as much of a feat. Somehow though, the members of Recess Monkey–Drew Holloway (vocals, guitar), Jack Forman (bass, keys), and Korum Bischoff (drums)–have managed to do just that. That is clear in the songs that make up Hot Air. The album’s mix of indie-rock musical styling coupled with its original, creative lyrical topics will have listeners of all ages enjoying it from start to finish, even singing along (and maybe even dancing along, too). One of the songs that serves to prove this is the album’s song about the joy of thunderstorms, ‘Thunder & Lightning.’ While not the first song ever crafted about thunderstorms, the band’s approach to the song makes it stand out quite well among those other songs. The band wastes no time jumping right into the song, offering up an up-tempo piece set against the rumbling of thunder. What’s really interesting here is that the band uses not only an up-tempo musical backing for the song, but plays in a major tone, too. Even more interesting of the song’s musical side is that one could actually call it avante garde to a point. That is because of its non-standard style especially in its verses. This seems minor on the surface. But on a deeper level, it helps lay a positive foundation for the song. It’s not the standard emotional approach used by so many other children’s entertainers in handling the subject. Nor is it an ominous sound. Rather it is somewhat playful for lack of better wording. It is a really smart approach used by the band in this song. Holloway sings over that upbeat foundation, “The sky is a canvas for each lightning bolt/It’s painted so lovely and it gives me a jolt/Yeah, hear a big old rumblin’ all across the sky/Watch it light up like the fourth of July.” The picture painted by Holloway as he sings is not one of something ominous or scary but rather one of something truly incredible to behold. The lightning bolts are equated to giant electrical paint brushes (doesn’t that sound like the name for some kind of indie garage rock band?) that paint their way across the canvas of the sky. It’s a great way to both get young listeners to appreciate the beauty and power of storms and show them that there’s no reason to fear storms. Being such a multi-faceted song, it proves quite well within itself to be one of Hot Air’s best tracks and just one example of why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best LPs to date.

‘Thunder & Lightning’ is within itself one of the best songs included in the body of Hot Air. It also proves in the grand scheme of things to be one piece proving what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. It’s just one song that proves both arguments. The album’s lead single, ‘Penguinese’ also serves to show that Recess Monkey still has not lost its touch or its originality and creativity even twelve albums in. The song is about exactly what one might think. It is a fun, nonsensical piece about learning to speak “Penguinese,” the supposed language of penguins. It’s such a nonsensical song, yes. Yet it is that nonsensical approach that makes it so fun. Think for a brief moment and try to name one band in the mainstream or even kindie rock world that has written such a song. Can’t think of one? Exactly. Holloway sings over Bischoff’s infectious 2/4 disco-style beat, “Just got a new kid/A new kid at school/He’s a little bit different/But a lot of bit cool/He’s not from around here/He’s from far away/Doesn’t speak the language/But you really oughtta hear him say his penguinese. The sound effect in the background that is apparently supposed to be a penguin “talking” adds to the song’s hilarity and creativity. Holloway goes on to sing of the penguin, “Folks don’t understand him/He don’t act like they do/Take a look in his lunchbox/And they give a big “Ewwwww/But he’s a snappy dresser/With a tux every day/He doesn’t speak the language/But you really oughtta hear him speak his penguinese.” The recorders (yes, the band even uses recorders in this song. That’s just as original) somehow work in some odd way. Who would have thought? Recorders actually serving a real musical purpose. It’s okay to laugh. Don’t be ashamed. It’s so nonsensical yet so fun that listeners of all ages will find themselves unable to deny just how fun it is. In having to admit how fun it proves to be, listeners will agree that it is one more example of what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. It also shows itself to be one of the best of the album’s songs overall.

Both ‘Thunder & Lightning’ and ‘Penguinese’ are high points to Hot Air in their own right as well as points proving why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. They are just a couple of examples of what makes this album so enjoyable, too. The album’s penultimate opus ‘Oh Lando,’ which is a direct tribute to George Lucas’ classic Star Wars franchise, is another of the album’s high points. It is also one more prime example of what makes Hot Air one of Recess Monkey’s best records to date. Yet again, how many bands out there either the world of kindie rock or mainstream music have crafted any songs in tribute to one of science fiction’s greatest properties? Exactly. For that reason alone, grown-ups will want to hear this song just as much as their younger counterparts. The song, which centers on the events that happen in Cloud City in Star Wars: Episode V–The Empire Strikes Back. The song’s bass-driven musical side is infectious and will instantly have listeners tapping their toes. Considering that Disney is preparing to release the next chapter in the Star Wars franchise this winter, it makes this song a fitting way to remind audiences of where the Star Wars franchise has come from as audiences prepare to see where it is going. It is original. And it is fun. Ergo, it is one more great addition to Recess Monkey’s new album and yet more proof of why Hot Air is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date. Set alongside the likes of ‘Thunder & Lightning’ and ‘Penguinese,’ all three songs show in their own right why Recess Monkey remains one of the best acts in the world of kindie-rock today. That is not to discount the album’s other tracks by any means. ‘Hand Me Downs’ lets listeners know it’s okay to have hand me downs. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in wearing them. The Benny Goodman-esque clarinet work on ‘Carry A Tune’ is sure to impress jazz lovers. And the indie rock style of ‘Lighter Than Air’ coupled with its bright lyrics about soaring among the clouds will put just as much of a smile on listeners’ faces. Whether for those songs, the compositions more directly noted here or any of the album’s other tracks not noted here, it can be said with ease that considering each of the album’s tracks, Hot Air is full of anything but hot air. It is one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date and one of the best new children’s albums of 2015.

Hot Air proves from start to finish to be one of Recess Monkey’s best albums to date and one of the best new children’s alums of 2015. That is thanks in large part to the creativity and originality displayed throughout the course of the album’s fifteen tracks and thirty-eight minutes. It is available now in stores and online, and can be purchased online via Recess Monkey’s online store at http://www.recessmonkeytown.com. More information on Hot Air is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and tour schedule updates online now at:

Website: http://www.recessmonkeytown.com

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

Twitter: http//twitter.com/recess_monkey

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Motor Sister, Steel Panther To Play Special One-Off Show This Friday

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Rock collective Motor Sister will play a special one-off show this week. Motor Sister will play a special one-time only performance this Friday, June 26th alongside veteran rock band Steel Panther. The performance will be held at the Regency Theater in San Francisco, CA. Tickets for the concert can be purchased online now at http://www.axs.com/events/270262/steel-panther-tickets. In anticipation of the upcoming performance, the band has debuted the video for the song ‘Beg Borrow Steal’ from its Metal Blade Records debut album Ride. The video can be viewed online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTmeLKClb_w.

Motorhead Motorboat PosterAlong with its upcoming show this Friday, Motor Sister has also announced that it will take part in this year’s annual Motorhead “Motorboat Cruise.” The band will join the likes of Slayer, Anthrax, Hatebreed, Exodus, Suicidal Tendencies, Fireball Ministry, and others for the five-day cruise, which leaves port in Miami on Monday, September 28th and returns Friday, October 2nd. More information on the “Motorboat Cruise” is available online now at:


Website
: http://www.motorboatcruise.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/themotorboat

In its first week of release Motor Sister’s Ride debuted on the Billboard charts at the #9 position on the Billboard New Artist (Heatseekers) Chart. It also reached #12 on Billboard’s Hard Music Albums chart, #40 on Billboard’s Rock Albums Chart, #27 on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart and #163 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. Motor Sister consists of Mother Superior founder, guitarist, and vocalist Jim Wilson at the helm, Scott Ian (Anthrax) on guitar, Ian’s wife Pearl Aday on backing vocals, Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint) on bass, and John Tempesta (White Zombie, Exodus, Testament) on drums. More information on Motor Sister’s upcoming concert, “Motorboat Cruise” appearance and all of its upcoming live dates is available online now along with all of the latest news from the band at:

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

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MotorSister

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

Taste of Chaos Festival Returns This Fall

Courtesy:  Earshot Media

Courtesy: Earshot Media

The Taste of Chaos Festival is back!

After a long five-year wait, the Taste of Chaos Festival will return this year. The day-long festival will be held Saturday, October 3rd at the San Manuel Amphitheater Festival Grounds in San Bernadino, California. This year’s festival will be a very special one for anyone that was a fan of the alternative/indie scene in the 90s and early 2000s because it pays tribute to that scene with a lineup of bands that once made up that scene. They are the same bands that have since gone on to become some of the biggest names in the industry. Those bands include: Jimmy Eat World, The Used, Dashboard Confessional, Thrice, The All-American Rejects, Saves The Day, Glassjaw, The Movielife, Story of the Year, and Finch. Mark Hoppus will perform his own special DJ set at this year’s festival. Greek Fire and Adair will also be on hand for this year’s festival.

The bands tapped for this year’s festival make up just part of its enjoyment. There will also be carnival rides, games, food trucks, and a craft beer and concession area. Those that might be coming from a long distance to see this year’s festival will be glad to know that organizers have also established an on-sight overnight camping area. That means fans can get there the day before and rest up overnight for the big day. All tickets for this year’s festival are general admission. They will go on sale beginning this coming Monday, June 22nd at TasteofChaos.com. Early bird tickets start at $  will go up in price from there. Regular on-sale ticket price is $42.50 per ticket. Ticket prices do not include service fee or parking. A very small number of VIP packages will be available with the cheapest going for $199.00. It includes fast lane entrance into the festival, VIP laminate with lanyard, VIP Lounge access along with complimentary beer and snacks while supplies last, full cash bar, and VIP restroom trailers. The second VIP package, runs for $299.00. It includes everything included in the $199.00 VIP package plus a commemorative The Used /Taste of Chaos laminate with lanyard a meet-and-greet/one-on-one photo shoot with the members of The Used, collector’s edition Taste of Chaos screen-printed poster for autographs, and a merch-pack from The Used that includes a t-shirt from the band.

The Taste of Chaos Festival is sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink, Coldcock Whiskey, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and FYE.

More information on the Taste of Chaos Festival and all of the latest festival news is available online now at:

Website: http://www.tasteofchaos.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taste-Of-Chaos-Festival

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TOCfest

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

Dubbest Announces Release Date For New Album

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Up-and-coming reggae act Dubbest will release its new album Light Flashes this summer.

Light Flashes will be one of the last albums to be released under the current CD release system, as it will be released on Tuesday, July 7th. The wait for this album has been a long one for fans. That it because it took the band three years to complete it. Much of the wait can likely be credited to veteran producer Craig “Dubfader” Welsch, who manned the boards for the record, and to Kevin Metcalf, who mastered it. The band credits Welsch ‘s professionalism and dedication to his job for the final product presented on this record. His dedication went so far as to use vintage instruments in the recording of the album. Those instruments include the likes of a Hammond B3 organ, and 1950s-era Fender Stratocasters. In anticipation of the album’s upcoming release, Dubbest recently premiered the video for the album’s lead single ‘Spend The Day.’ It can be viewed online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fmQ9oEkE-s&feature=youtu.be.

Courtesy:  Press Junkie PR

Courtesy: Press Junkie PR

Dubbest is currently touring in support of Light Flashes, its third full-length studio release. It is scheduled to perform live at Splash Liquid Lounge today in Salisbury, MA before heading to Salem, MA this Sunday. The band’s current tour schedule, which can be viewed below, consists of a number of dates in Massachusetts, Colorado, and California, and currently runs through August 15th.

Upcoming | LOCAL DATES

Date Venue Location

Jun 19 Splash Liquid Lounge w/ Green Lion Crew Salisbury, MA

Jun 21 THE BLACK LOBSTER Salem, MA

Jun 27 Madfish Grille Gloucester, MA

Jun 28 The Tap Brewing Company Haverhill, MA

Jul 03 The Spot Providence, RI

Jul 09 Opus Underground Salem, MA

Jul 10 New World Tavern Plymouth, MA

Jul 17 Bushwacker’s Denver, CO

Jul 19 Walnut Room Denver, CO

Jul 20 Jives 1 Colorado Springs, CO

Jul 21 Jives 2 Colorado Springs, CO

Jul 23 Quixote’s Denver, CO

Jul 24 Owsley Boulder, CO

Jul 25 The Eldo Crested Butte, CO

Jul 30 Pike Restaurant & Bar Long Beach, CA

Aug 01 The Venue Grand Terrace Grand Terrace, CA

Aug 04 Tin Roof San Diego, CA

Aug 05 Winston’s San Diego, CA

Aug 06 Boar Cross’n Carlsbad, CA

Aug 07 710 Beach Club Pacific Beach, CA

Aug 09 The Trip Santa Monica, CA

Aug 11 Frog & Peach San Luis Obispo, CA

Aug 13 Bocci’s Cellar Santa Cruz, CA

Aug 14 Half Moon Bay Brewing Half Moon Bay, CA

Aug 15 Mystic Theatre Petaluma, CA

Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule online now and keep up with its latest news at:

Website: http://dubbestmusic.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dubbest

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

Rainy Milo’s Debut LP Is One Of This Year’s Best New Re-Issues

Courtesy:  Big Picnic Records

Courtesy: Big Picnic Records

British R&B artist Rainy Milo made quite the splash with her debut album This Thing Of Ours when it was released overseas last year. Now thanks to the people at independent record label Big Picnic Records, American audiences finally get to learn what Milo’s fans around the world already know. What they know is that as this album shows, she could very well be part of the future of the genre. With a vocal style very similar to that of Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse, and songs that largely defy the musical and lyrical trappings of R&B songs churned out by American artists, Milo shows that given the right support, she could soon become a household name not just in her home country and abroad but here in the United States, too. Considering how much enjoyment her album offers listeners, and that it was already released last year overseas, it is safe to say that This Thing Of Ours is one of this year’s best re-issues.

Rainy Milo’s debut album This Thing Of Ours is one of this year’s best re-issues. The album, which was originally released overseas via Virgin/EMI last year and domestically in the U.S. this spring via Big Picnic Records, is the antithesis of nearly every R&B song dominating mainstream radio today. There is no talk of sex to be heard at any point on this record. And the standard oh-woe-is-my style songs that are just as much of a favorite among American R&B artists are nearly non-existent. Instead of taking that path far too often taken by other artists within her genre, Milo carves out her own path with this record. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Are You Sure.’ Examining its musical content, audiences that are worn out from all of the constant club-ready run-of-the-mill R&B songs soaked in sex and synthesizers will especially enjoy this song. Rather than be one of those cookie cutter songs that are all too familiar on Top 40 radio stations across America, Milo uses a more stripped-down approach with the song’s musical content. It relies more on beats than on the synthesizers and other overly used elements used by so many American R&B artists. The song’s lyrical content makes it stand out just as much as its musical content. Looking at its lyrics, Milo comes across as expressing the cautious optimism and joy felt by so many at the start of any relationship. She sings, “You gave me something yesterday/I saw I wouldn’t lose it/I swore I’d hold on tightly/But then/I started to lose grip/Yes I lost it/As I always overthink.” She goes on later in the song to ask in the song’s chorus “Are you really sure you want to take this farther?” From there she continues on questioning herself as if she is ready to keep going not because of the guy but because of herself. This is a situation in which so many people have found themselves at different points of their own relationships. To that extent, it is easy for audiences to relate to the song. In terms of its musical content, that it presents an upbeat vibe instead of a more overly emotional sound (which so many artists would do in a song such as this) makes it even more impressive. The combination of both elements within this song alone go to show quite clearly both why ‘Are You Sure’ was chosen as the album’s opener and why it is just one example of what makes This Thing Of Ours such an impressive R&B record.

‘Are You Sure’ is a solid example of what makes TTO stand out so strongly from the R&B crowd. That is thanks both to its musical and lyrical content. Both elements stray from the norm of most American R&B songs musically and lyrically. The result of this is that it establishes the song as a solid opener for Milo’s album and establishes just as much that the identity of her album in whole. It is just one point at which TTOO establishes its identity apart from other R&B acts. The album’s title track builds the album’s identity just as much as its opener. Examining its musical content, yet again, it relies more on beats than electronics. The resultant effect is something of a hip-hop/R&B hybrid that will most certainly grab listeners’ ears if only for that content. Audiences can hear that sound for themselves online now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfJXFZczyqE. Looking at the song’s lyrical content, it stands out just as starkly in this avenue, too. It comes across as a piece about a woman who is wrapped up in a man who really seems the wrong one for her. That argument can be made as she sings, “Shiny tears on a porcelain face/Tight lipped/Wished you luck for your case/She says just don’t get caught for me/You end up in a clink/Then where will I be/Lonely/Don’t leave me lonely/He says you know you shouldn’t doubt me/I got my ways/I’m always lucky/Lonely/You won’t be lonely.” Men and women alike know of men just like the one portrayed here. He is headstrong and overly confident. As the song’s companion video shows, that sort of figure never turns out well whether by himself or with another. And he didn’t turn out too well with Milo’s subject in this song. The video does a good job of interpreting Milo’s lyrics. Getting back on subject, the combination of the song’s lyrical and musical content sets piece apart from other mainstream R&B songs even more than the elements do on their own. It isn’t another song about a breakup or even lost love. Rather it comes across as a song about a strong woman who just made a bad choice and got wrapped up with the wrong guy; a guy that is all too familiar to many listeners. On the surface it comes across just like so many other songs out there. But it is the execution of the song that makes it stand apart. There are few if any R&B songs out there that take the route taken by Milo. Because of this it makes this song and TTOO in whole stand out even more in the R&B crowd.

Both ‘Are You Sure’ and ‘This Thing Of Ours’ show in their own way just how much Rainy Milo stands out from the rest of the R&B crop on her debut album. They are just two examples of what makes her and her album stand out. The album’s closer, ‘Bankrobber’ is one more example (and an interesting one at that) of just how much she and her album stand out. Milo sings in this song about a person whose father was apparently a bank robber. She sings, “Daddy was a bank robber/But he never hurt nobody/He just loved to live that way/And he loved to take your money.” Just like as in the case of ‘This Thing of Ours,’ this song plays out lyrically like something right out of a movie. The difference here is that this song comes across as a tribute to the subject’s father. In his or her own eyes, the father figure noted here might have been a criminal in the eyes of most but despite that he was still a good-hearted person with a good heart. The song’s musical backing, with its guitar riff and keyboard line, sounds like something that Eminem might use for one of his songs. That alone makes it well worth the listen. considering that few if any R&B artists today use such an avenue for their music it makes this song stand out even more. It could even be argued that it stands out even more than any of the other tracks on this record. Regardless of which one of the album’s songs stands out the most, it can be said that all three of the works noted here all stand out in their own way as do the rest of the album’s works not noted here. All said, TTOO proves from beginning to end to be an album that stands out completely from nearly every other R&B album out there today. While it may not necessarily be a new album in the purest sense of the word, it is still new for most American audiences. To that point, it can be said of TTOO that it is one of the best of the year’s music re-issue.

This Thing Of Ours proves through the course of its ten tracks and forty-minutes to be an album that is one of the best of the year’s re-issues. That is proved both through the songs noted here and through those not noted. That is because the songs presented on this record break every standard used in today’s mainstream R&B realm. Add in a vocal style from Milo that hints at both Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse, and listeners get an album that every R&B and hip-hop fan should hear. It is an album that were it a new, first-ever release, would be one of the year’s best new albums overall. Even being a re-issue, the combination of Milo’s standout vocals and the album’s equally stand-out songs makes TTOO one of the best of the year’s re-issues. It is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded now via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/this-thing-of-ours/id981822983. More information on TTOO is available online now along with Milo’s latest news at:

Website: http://www.rainymilo-official.uk

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/rainymilo

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.

NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series Rumbles Into Thunder Valley This Weekend

Courtesy:  NHRA/Mello Yellow

Courtesy: NHRA/Mello Yellow

The NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series will be in Thunder Valley this weekend.

Drag racing’s top series will hit the track in Bristol for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at the famed racing facility, which also includes Bristol Motor Speedway. Coverage of this weekend’s events begins Saturday on ESPN2 with same-day coverage of qualifying beginning at 8pm ET. Final Eliminations will be broadcast live on ESPN Sunday afternoon at 3pm ET.  Those with access to ESPN3 can also catch eliminations live online Sunday at noon. Dave Rieff will have the call for this weekend’s events. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Mike Dunn for additional commentary. Gary Gerould and John Kernan will be in the pits with all of the latest news from each team throughout the weekend.

Coming into this weekend’s events, Antron Brown leads the Top Fuel division with team-mate Tony Schumacher thirty-three points back in second. Schumacher closed the gap after his latest win this past weekend at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Legendary funny car driver John Force took another step towards the top spot in the Funny Car division after his win last weekend. And Pro Stock points Leader widened his lead in that division after also making the podium this past weekend. The win widens his lead over Erica Enders to seventy points.

More information on ESPN’s coverage of the NHRA is available online now at http://espn.go.com/racing. All of the latest NHRA news is available online now at:

Website: http://www.nhra.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/NHRA

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

StarVista Succeeds Again With The Wonder Years: Season Three

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

It is official. StarVista Entertainment now has two new releases on this critic’s list of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. There is a third release from StarVista that has made this critics list of the best new box sets for grown-ups. But that is a story for another time. Getting back on topic, one of the noted box sets on this year’s list—The Wonder Years Season 2—was released back in February of this year. The other—The Wonder Years Season 3—was just released late last month. It is interesting to note how quickly StarVista has churned out the series’ first three seasons considering that Season One was released as recently as this past October. It’s interesting to note because of how enjoyable each season has proven, including the newly released third season. Typically when companies churn out releases (box sets or DVDs/Blu-rays) the end result is a presentation that is largely forgettable and hardly worth the watch. Thankfully, in the case of The Wonder Years, audiences will be happy to know that the standards established by StarVista in the series’ first two seasons have been maintained throughout the course of this season, too thus making Season Three just as enjoyable as those first two seasons and proving why it is yet another piece from StarVista that is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The third season of The Wonder Years is just as enjoyable for audiences of all ages as the series’ first two seasons. This is the case even though the company released it only about three months after the release of the series’ second season and only seven months after the series’ debut season. It is so enjoyable because those charged with its assembly and release maintained the same standards used within those sets in this one, too. The main standard in question is the inclusion of every one of the season’s twenty-three total episodes in their entirety. The episodes in question are ones that once again are just as relatable for audiences today as they were to audiences in their original run on ABC so many years ago. The set’s first disc is loaded with examples of how those episodes remain so timeless. It opens with “Summer Song” in which Kevin has his first-ever summer romance. While not everybody out there has had that fabled one-time “relationship” enough people have had it even now in the twenty-first century to make it relatable. “Rock ‘n Roll” is just as relatable. Again it is not entirely relatable to every viewer today. But one glance at the teeny-bopper and tweeny-bopper sitcoms and dramas out there today shows just how relatable this episode remains despite its age. Having that teen band is something that so many young people do as part of their “coming of age” even today. Even this critic went through that at one point. “Goodbye” is perhaps one of the most powerful of the season’s episodes in its ability to relate to viewers as it sees Kevin having to face one of the most difficult situations that he would ever face in his life. It is a situation that every young person has to face at one point or another. It is just part of that personal growth that everybody goes through at one point or another as they get older. Staying on that note, the fact that the third season of The Wonder Years continues to present Kevin’s coming of age—his personal growth and his growth as part of a family unit—in whole, it makes the series that much more believable and in turn more memorable from one episode to the next. That alone makes this latest season set that much more of a must have for audiences of any age. In other words it proves even more why it is one of this year’s best new box sets for the whole family.

The presentation of The Wonder Years’ third season in its entirety is the most important aspect to its enjoyment. It is a serial that really is not a serial. The scenarios presented in each episode are timeless mirror images of the real world and vice versa. They are just part of what makes this season another success. Along with including all twenty-three (NOT seventeen) episodes featured in the season’s original run, StarVista Entertainment has once again included a load of in-depth bonuses for audiences. Audiences get to hear from stars Danica McKellar, Fred Savage, and Josh Saviano yet again in another roundtable discussion that focuses on not just Season Three but the show’s other seasons, too. There are also one-on-one interviews with McKellar and her sister Crystal–who played another of Kevin’s romantic interests, Becky Slater—as well as Olivia d’Abo (Karen Arnold) and Jason Hervey (Wayne Arnold). If that’s not enough for fans, StarVista has one again included a companion booklet that serves as not just an episode guide but its own true bonus companion to the season set. It is a bonus because once again, it provides extra behind-the-scenes “secrets” about each episode such as the revelation that Fred Savage’s younger brother (and now fellow famed actor) Ben played Cupid—a.k.a. Curtis Hartsell—in the episode “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” or that Danica McKellar joined the ranks of greats such as Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Satin, Hal Holbrook, Spalding Gray, and Paul Newman in performing in the play Our Town. Sure, it was as Winnie Cooper. But it is still pretty interesting to learn this little tidbit of information. There are even more masses of extras shared throughout the set’s bonus companion booklet that audiences will enjoy learning for themselves. Together with the season’s full complement of fully believable and entertaining episodes it both elements together show quite clearly why this latest release is another of the year’s best new box sets for families. While both elements are equally important to the season’s enjoyment, they still are not all that makes this set so memorable and a must have. The look and sound of the set is another standard that StarVista has maintained in this season.

Audiences that perhaps might not have already picked up the first two seasons of The Wonder Years will be quite pleasantly surprised by the series’ third season box set. That is because it maintains the high standards set by StarVista for itself in the noted box sets in every way. It presents every episode from the classic series’ third season in whole. Added on to that, the episodes continue to keep audiences engaged and entertained because of their reality. The bonus material that was included with the series’ previous standalone sets are just as prevalent here as in those sets. They make the overall viewing experience presented in this box set all the richer for viewers. While both standards go a long way toward making The Wonder Years: Season Three enjoyable for audiences, the collective production values of the episodes (their overall look and sound), are also just as impressive as those of the previous seasons’ episodes. The grainy look of the show from its original run is there. Bu it has been cleaned up just enough to keep the picture clear. The season’s audio mix is just as impressive. This is especially the case with the show’s soundtrack. The songs that make up the show’s foundation sound wonderful whether on a standard television or one with a home theater system. In the same vein, the audio has been handled so professionally that at no point will viewers have to ride their remotes so to speak. In other words, whether in the transitions from dialogue to music and back or from scene to scene in general, viewers will not have to worry about adjusting the volume on their TVs. Yes it seems minor on the surface. But there are those series and movies that suffer dramatically from poor audio management which leads to viewers riding their remotes constantly. It really takes away from the overall viewing experience. Thankfully, again, viewers don’t have to worry about that here. Because they don’t have to worry about making that constant adjustment, viewers will be able to spend their time taking in the stories presented in every one of the season’s twenty-three episodes as well as all of the season’s bonus material. It rounds out the set and shows once and for all why The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families.

The Wonder Years: Season Three is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families, in case that point hasn’t already been driven home. It has more than earned this title thanks to the fact that it presents the same high standards established by StarVista Entertainment in the series’ first two season sets. It presents all twenty-three episodes that make up Season Three in their full, joy-filled and often emotional moments. The bonus material boasted by the series’ first two season sets are also present here. Just as impressive is the fact that this season looks and sounds just as impressive as those standalone sets. Whether on their own or collectively, all three elements noted here show without a doubt that the third season of The Wonder Years is one of this year’s best new box sets for children and families. It is available now in stores and online. More information on this and other titles from StarVista Entertainment is available online now at:

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