Mr. Holmes Is An Intriguing Portrayal Of Sherlock Holmes

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

On November 20th, 1886 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought to the world one of the greatest figures in literary history when he published his novel A Study in Scarlet. The book was the debut of none other than Sherlock Holmes. In the nearly one hundred and thirty years that have passed since that novel was first published, Holmes has become one of the greatest detectives in the realm of fictional crime and in the literary world in whole. Holmes’ many adventures have been published and republished countless times over that time. Just as many movies and even TV series have been spawned from Doyle’s “best man” so to speak. There has even been a number of new, original stories crafted by modern authors in the past fifty years or so that have been influenced by Holmes’ adventures. In 2015 Lionsgate Studios released a new Sherlock Holmes story unlike any out there. The story, Mr. Holmes, is based on one of those new, original literary tales that goes by the title of A Slight Trick of the Mind. The book was authored by Mitch Cullin. Despite being marketed as a suspense/thriller piece, it is in fact neither one. In reality it is more drama than anything else as its story reveals. That story is this movie’s central element. The work of veteran actor Ian McKellan is just as important as the movie’s story. Last but hardly least of note in this movie is its cinematography. The various shots of the British countryside in which McKellan’s Holmes resides are stunning to say the very least. Each element is in its own right important to the whole of Mr. Holmes. Altogether they make Mr. Holmes a story that any Sherlock Homes fan should see at least once both because of its differences from Doyle’s original Holmes stories and despite those differences.

When Lionsgate brought author Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of The Mind to the big screen last year in the form of Mr. Holmes it is safe to say that up to that point, few if any stories like it had been crafted about the world’s most famous detective. That central-most element of Mr. Holmes makes it worth the watch if not more. The movie was originally marketed as a thriller/suspense tale. But in reality it is neither. It is in fact a drama that follows Sherlock Holmes in the twilight of his life as he struggles to remember the events of his final case so as to put them to paper. That, essentially, is the movie’s plot. As audiences soon learn in watching the story unfold, McKellan’s Holmes is battling the growing effects of dementia as he tries to recall the events of the case in question. At the same time Holmes is also having flashbacks to a meeting with a man in Japan whose father the man claims met Holmes years before and left his family as a result. It doesn’t initially make any sense but does eventually tie back in to Holmes’ attempts to recall the events of that final case. At first the story jumps around with few clear transition points, forcing audiences to give the movie their full attention. And it does move slowly at first, too. But as the story unfolds it becomes somewhat easier to follow. And perhaps it could be argued that this was intentionally done so as to accent Holmes’ growing mental struggles. If that is the case then kudos to writer Jeffrey Hatcher for taking such an approach. Regardless it must be mentioned. Even with all of this in mind Mr. Holmes still proves to be a story that is worth at least one watch especially among true fans of Holmes’ many adventures. It is not the only reason that Mr. Holmes is worth a watch either. Lead star Ian McKellan’s work on camera is the movie’s real shining bright spot.

The story behind Mr. Holmes is unlike almost any story that has ever been crafted about Holmes since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first introduced Holmes to the world nearly one hundred and thirty years ago. It presents a story of a Holmes at his worst so to speak rather than his best as he battles the onset of dementia. It is a story that is worth at least one watch. While its separation from so many other Holmes stories makes it well worth at least one watch, lead actor Sir Ian McKellan’s work on camera makes the movie even more worth the watch. He fully embraces the portrayal from beginning to end, creating a character whose struggles make viewers’ hearts hurt for him. It is clear that this Holmes is so quickly slipping away and trying to pass on his love of deduction to a younger generation in his friendship with the young Roger (Milo Parker — Robot Overlords, Ghosthunters on Icy Trails, The Durrells). It would have been so easy for McKellan to go over the top with his portrayal. But being the consummate professional that he is, he avoids that trapping and in turn puts in an Oscar-worthy performance. Even with the Academy voters not giving that credit where it is due, audiences that watch his performance will agree that McKellan has once again put in an award-worthy performance here and single-handedly saved the movie.

Sir Ian McKellan’s portrayal of the aging Sherlock Holmes in Mr. Holmes is the movie’s single brightest element. His performance is one that was just as deserving of an award as any of the others throughout his career. That is not to take anything away from the movie’s central story. As a matter of fact McKellan’s performance and the movie’s original story are both reasons in themselves for audiences to see this movie at least once. While both elements give audiences reason enough to watch this movie at least once, they are not the movie’s only notable elements. Its cinematography rounds out its presentation. Audiences will be blown away by the shots of the famed White Cliffs as McKellan and Parker go for a swim in the ocean. The shots of the British countryside where Holmes lives are just as powerful. This is especially to note considering just how few sets were actually used in the grand scheme of the movie. And the footage of the train traversing that countryside is especially powerful. Who cares that the engine and its cars might not have been exactly from 1947. That is beside the point. Watching the engine as it steamed along the countryside is still something that will leave any viewer in awe. There’s something about the contrast of its power against the calm, gentle countryside that just makes it stand out. It’s something that must be seen to be fully understood and appreciated. The same applies with the other noted shots and so many others. Considering this, the cinematography is one more saving grace for Mr. Holmes. together with McKellan’s expert work on camera and the intriguing new portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in this story, the movie in whole proves to be worth at least one watch.

Lionsgate’s new Sherlock Holmes story Mr. Holmes is a take on the world-famous detective that is definitely brave to say the very least. It isn’t just another Sherlock Holmes crime story. It is in its own right a tribute to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as audiences will note in watching the story. But even more so it is a story of the world-famous detective at his weakest. It shows a man whose mental greatness has all but fled him. He is a pale shadow of his former self. Yet even in the twilight of his life he still has just enough left in the tank to finish off his final case and correct at least one of the stories that he claimed Mr. Watson improperly recalled. That story in itself makes the movie worth at least one watch. The work of Sir Ian McKellan adds even more interest to the story. As a matter of fact his portrayal of the aging Holmes is the brightest of spots in this movie. It is just as award-worthy as his work in his other films. The movie’s cinematography is just as impressive as McKellan’s work. It really accents the emotion established by the story’s script. It rounds out the movie’s most notable elements. Together with McKellan’s work and that of scriptwriter Jeffrey Hatcher, all three elements combine to make this intriguing portrayal of Sherlock Holmes one that is worth at least one watch. It is available now in stores and online on DVD + Digital combo pack and Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack.

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Power Rangers Time Force Is One Of Saban’s All-“Time” Great Power Rangers Series

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Saban/Saban Brands

Twenty-three seasons. That is how long Saban’s Power Rangers franchise has been on the air. To be more precise, it has been on the air for twenty-three seasons over the course of twenty-two years. August 2016 will mark twenty-three years on the air for the Power Rangers. A lot has changed for the Power Rangers since the days of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The teams have changed. The locations have changed. And so have the stories. They’ve ranged from fantasy to sci-fi from one season to the next and at times even included both. The one thing that hasn’t changed throughout the years is the franchise’s popularity. And thanks to Shout! Factory’s long-running partnership with Saban, fans of the franchise’s early years have been able to relive the joy of those early years for themselves on DVD. Now next Tuesday another of those early seasons will be available in stores and online thanks to that partnership in the form of Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series. The five-disc DVD box set offers plenty for audiences to appreciate beginning with its writing. There’s plenty of action and adventure. But the story at the center of this season is the key element of the season’s writing. Just as important as the season’s story is the work of the season’s cast. Rounding out the presentation is its mix of stock footage and special effects. Each element is important in its own right to the whole of this season. Altogether they serve to make Power Rangers Time Force one of the most standout seasons of the Power Rangers franchise and in turn this season one that every Power Rangers fan should own.

Power Rangers Time Force is one of the most standout seasons of the Power Rangers franchise. It is a season that every Power Rangers fan should own. The main reason for this is the work of the season’s writers. The writers behind this season of the Power Rangers have crafted a story that is unlike any before or in reality even since. It is the second installment of the Power Rangers franchise in the post-Zordon era. What’s more it stands alone from its predecessor Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue. The one link that it does hold to that series is that this season sees the Power Rangers as yet again a semi-militaristic organization, this time upholding the law and taking down bad guys from the future. It is based just as much in sci-fi as that series, too. What sets it apart from that series (and every Power Rangers franchise before) is that it is the first time ever that a Power Rangers team has been led by a female character. That is a real breakthrough for the franchise. Sure, Wes as the Red Ranger is the team “head.” But in all reality Jen is the real team leader in this series. On another angle, Ranksik’s source for evil henchmen is not endless. But it is not so limited that it limited the show’s run. After all, forty episodes for one season of the Power Rangers is not bad. That was enough to run the show a little more than nine months. Keeping all of this in mind, it all comes together to show why the writing in general this season was integral to its success. It isn’t all that makes the writing key, though. The stories within the episodes is just as important as the season’s overall writing.

The general writing behind Power Rangers Time Force does plenty to make this season of the Power Rangers stand out. As important as it is to the season’s success, the writing behind the episodes within the season is just as important as the season’s writing in general. Audiences will laugh as Lucas (Michael Copon — The Scorpion King 2, Bring It On: In It To Win It, One Tree Hill) has to earn his driver’s license in “A Blue Streak.” Here is a man who in his time is a championship race car driver. But in 2001 is just another person. The setup for this situation makes for its own share of laughs. “A Parting of Ways” is another important example of how the writing behind this season is so important. It is a mini-coming-of-age story for Wes as he stands up to his father and becomes his own man. He also becomes even more solidified as a member of Time Force as a result. The series final four episodes are perhaps its most important. It is in these episodes that some very important revelations are made and some very important decisions are made, too. Those revelations won’t be revealed here for those that haven’t yet seen this season. But they do have an important impact on everything that had led up to that point. Now keeping this in mind it is clear why the writing behind Power Rangers Time Force in whole is so important to this series. It isn’t just the writing behind the season’s episodes, but in whole. While the season’s writing proves hugely important to its whole it is just one aspect of the season that makes it stand out. The work of the show’s cast is just as important as that of the show’s writers.

The work of the writers in Power Rangers Time Force shows to be hugely important in the overall picture of the season. Between its episodes and its overall premise and approach, the writing behind Power Rangers Time Force stands out from almost everything else that had been presented in every season of the Power Rangers up to that point and honestly since then. As important as the writing proves to be to this series it is just one element of this season that makes it stand out. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to the season as its writing. Right off the bat, Vernon Wells has to be mentioned here. He is spot on as the maniacal villain Ransik. Even as over-the-top as he can be at times, he is still believable in his role. That is because he really does try to keep from getting too much over-the-top at any point. He really makes audiences appreciate him in his role because of this. There is almost a classic villain sort of figure in his portrayal even as he comes to his ultimate revelation in the season’s finale. It really feels like something that a person would see in a classic broadway stage production. On the other side of the spectrum, Erin Cahill (Fast Track: No Limits, Saving Grace, General Hospital) is just as believable as the Rangers’ leader Jen. Early on she makes audiences feel for her in her belief that Alex was killed. That belief makes her a strong leader for the Rangers. And even as her relationship with Wes blossoms, she still maintains that strength rather than letting herself become the standard damsel in distress figure. It is honestly a refreshing sight considering how often strong female leads end up taking a backseat to their male counterparts. Switching gears quite a bit Douglas Fisher is impressive in his own right as Wes’ butler and limo driver Phillips. Fisher (Intolerable Cruelty, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Imagination Movers) may only play a supporting role here. but even in that role he still adds his own touch to given scenes. His disbelief early on as Wes jumps out of the limo to fight Nadira is great. And even as Phillips has to take a woman and her child to the hospital near the season’s end he doesn’t try to ham it up. He takes the moment and fully embraces it. His reaction to a child hitting a ball onto Mr. Collins’ limo earlier in the season’s run is yet another example of his ability to handle the role. Audiences see the surprise and frustration. It shows his character’s displeasure with the moment. However, his reserved reaction only serves to make audiences hate Mr. Collins even more as he tells the boy that he is going to keep the boy’s baseball. So even in a non-speaking moment, Fisher plays his own important role that helps to make the moment all the more powerful. To that extent, it shows why even a supporting actor is just as important to a presentation as the leads. He is hardly the only other member of the seasons’ cast worth mentioning, too. One could go into each member of the show’s cast. But that would take far too long. So keeping that in mind, it can be said in full confidence that the work of the season’s cast holds its own importance to the season as the season’s writers. Both together go a long way toward making this season stand out. Even with their combined influence they are still not the season’s only notable elements. The special effects and stock footage incorporated into this season are just as important to its presentation as the work of the show’s writers and cast.

The combined work of Power Rangers Time Force’s writers and cast is hugely important to the season’s overall presentation. Through the combined work of all involved, audiences are certain to remain engaged from one episode to the next. While they are unquestionably important to the season’s overall presentation they are not the season’s only important elements. The combined stock footage and special effects are just as notable. The stock footage lifted from Super Sentai Mirai Sentai Timeranger is used sparingly throughout each of the season’s forty total episodes. Where it is used, it is almost seamlessly combined with the live action footage recorded for the show. More often than not, that incorporation is used in the major fight scenes. Other than that, the show is made up largely of live action footage recorded specifically for the show. Moving on to the show’s special effects, the special effects retain the same look as those in the series’ predecessors. There are lots of cool lasers and explosions. And the effects used to grow Nadira’s nails into almost Wolverine-like claws is just as notable. Speaking of Nadira, her makeup and costume are part of yet another element that should be noted–the show’s costume and makeup department. Getting back on track, the time travel sequences, the effects used to make it appear as if Katie Walker (the Yellow Ranger, played by Deborah Estelle Phillips–The Cavanaughs, 7th Heaven, The Company We Keep) had super strength, and other effects were just as impressive. That certain camp feeling that the effects had early on the Power Rangers run is just as prevalent here yet it is still just as fun to watch. Whether through these or other moments, it can be seen just why the special effects and stock footage together play such an important part in the overall presentation of Power Rangers Time Force. Interestingly enough they are still hardly the last of the season’s notable elements. Those that handled the show’s costumes and makeup are just as deserving of credit as anyone else. That’s a story for another time. Altogether, all of the elements noted here paint a picture of Power Rangers Time Force as being one of the franchise’s most standout seasons. They reveal this season to be one that any Power Rangers fan will want to have in his or her own collection, especially if he or she doesn’t already own Shout! Factory and Saban’s previously released mega-Power Rangers multi-season sets.

Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series is a collection that any Power Rangers fan should have in his or her personal DVD library. That is especially the case for those fans that might not have been lucky enough to get their hands on Shout! Factory and Saban’s previously released mega-Power Rangers multi-season sets. That is most evident in the show’s writing. From its episodes to its overall presentation, it is clear that a lot of work and thought was put into this season’s writing. The work of the show’s cast is just as important to its presentation. This includes both the lead and supporting cast. The combined efforts of the show’s editors, special effects staff, costume department and makeup department are all just as pivotal to its presentation. Each element is important in its own massive way. Altogether, they make Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series a collection that once again every Power Rangers fan should have in his or her own personal DVD library, especially if said fans don’t already own the previously released mega-Power Rangers multi-season sets. Power Rangers Time Force: The Complete Series will be available next Tuesday, February 9th in stores and online. It will retail for MSRP of $19.97 but can be pre-ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store now at a discounted price of $16.97 at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-time-force-the-complete-series. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.faceboook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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Round 2 Records Announces Schedule Changes For Upcoming Live & Loud Tour

Courtesy:  Round 2 Records

Courtesy: Round 2 Records

Later this month, indie rock label Round 2 Records will launch its inaugural Live & Loud Tour. The tour hasn’t started yet but has become so popular that additional dates have been added to the original tour schedule.
Round 2 Records’ original Live & Loud tour saw its bands–The Veer Union, Bobaflex, Artifas, Bridge to Grace–performing a total of twenty-three dates. That schedule was updated today with the addition of two new dates early on in the tour and the removal of one date. The newly added dates are: Flagstaff, AZ (February 20th) and Las Cruces, NM (TBA). The one date removed from the schedule is the tour’s stop in Lafayette, Louisiana. That stop was originally scheduled for February 29th. The updated tour schedule for the Round 2 Records Live & Loud Tour is noted below.

 

Round 2 Live & Loud Tour Dates:

2-18 San Diego CA – Brick by Brick

2-19 Phoenix AZ – Last Exit Live

2-20 Flagstaff AZ – The Green Room

2-23 Las Cruces NM – TBA

2-25 San Antonio TX – Fitzgeralds

2-26 Abeline TX – Legends Rock House

2-27 Tyler Tx – Clicks Live

2-28 San Leon Tx – 18th Street Pier

3-2 Slidell LA – The Corner Pub

3-4 Clarksville TN – The Warehouse

3-5 Madison AL – 11th Frame

3-6 JACKSON TN – The Empourium

3-9 Tallahassee FL – Pugs Live

3-10 Charlotte NC – Amos Southend

3-11 Anderson SC – TJ Whispers

3-12 Fayetteville NC – The Rock Shop

3-13 Greensboro NC – Blind Tiger

3-16 Charleston WV – TBA

3-17 Morgantown WV – TBA

3-19 Hagarstown MD – Hard Times Cafe

3-25 Kent OH – The Outpost

3-26 Southbend IN – TBA

3-27 Crest Hill IL – Bada Brew

The Veer Union will still serve as the headline act for this tour with Bobaflex, Artifas, and Bridge to Grace serving as support acts throughout the tour. Ticketing information is available online now along with venue information and more at http://www.round2live.com. More information on the Round 2 Records Live & Loud Tour is available online now along with all of the tour’s latest updates at:

Website: http://www.round2liveandloud.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/round2liveloud

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.

Brahim’s Latest LP Is An early Pick For 2016’s Top New World Music Albums

Courtesy:  Glitter Beat Records

Courtesy: Glitter Beat Records

This March, Aziza Brahim will release her latest full-length studio recording Abbar el Hamada. The album, her third studio offering, will be released Friday, March 4th in stores and online. For those that might be unfamiliar with Brahim’s body of work so far, this record serves as a good starting point. Those that are more familiar with her work will agree that it is just as much of a welcome return for Brahim. That is thanks to the mix of the album’s musical arrangements and their deep, insightful lyrical content. That is evident right from the album’s opener ‘Buscando la Paz.’ The song incorporates traditional Sahrawi musical elements with a modern sound and deep, politically charged lyrics for a song that is a solid starter for this record and an equally welcome addition to the album’s overall body. ‘Baraka’ is another good addition to the album’s body. Its lyrical content will empower her female audiences while the song’s musical content with its mid-tempo, guitar-driven sound will impress male and female alike. The combination of both elements together makes the song a composition that is certain become one of the album’s favorite numbers among Brahim’s listeners. ‘Mani’ is yet another of the album’s welcome additions. The song’s gentle, flowing guitar line and percussion create a sound that will hold listeners’ ears with ease. Brahim’s pained vocal delivery as she sings about her lost homeland will tug at listeners’ heartstrings and not in a cheap, cheesy manner either. Rather the genuine emotional pain in her delivery makes the song all the more believable. That set against the song’s musical arrangement shows in whole why this song is just another example of what makes ‘Mani’ another good addition to Brahim’s new album. Together with the rest of the album’s ten total songs, the album in whole proves to be a record that is an early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new World Music albums.

Aziza Brahim’s latest full-length studio recording Abbar el Hamada is an early candidate for any critic’s list of 2016’s top new World Music albums. That is thanks to a mix of musical and lyrical content within each song that will keep listeners’ engaged from beginning to end of the ten-song, thirty-eight minute album. The album’s opener ‘Buscando la Paz’ is a prime example of how that mix of music and lyrics makes the album so impressive. Translated, the song’s title means ‘Searching for Peace.’ The song combines traditional Sahrawi musical elements with more modern elements to create a mid-tempo piece that will instantly catch listeners’ ears. The song’s musical arrangement is so important to note here because in comparison to the song’s lyrical content the two sides present quite the interesting dichotomy here. That is clear as Brahim sings, “These people want peace/For decades they’ve been demanding it/But year after year it seems/the hope for peace is fading.” This verse alone instantly conjures thoughts of someone singing almost mournfully, especially considering its subject matter. The statement made here is likely in regards to the conflict in her West African homeland that led her to be a refugee, now living in Barcelona, Spain. Considering this and the reality of the song’s lyrical base, it shows even more clearly why the juxtaposition of the two elements is so important to note here. Brahim goes on to sing from here, “How I hope we meet again/In the land of the lost homeland/She calls for me and I listen/I claim her, too/I need her.” It is not known who the “her” in question is here as Brahim doesn’t necessarily make clear who she is. Regardless, the way in which the lyrics are presented makes Brahim’s statement here powerful in its own right. And when set alongside the song’s musical arrangement, the song in whole shows why it is just one example of what audiences have to expect from Brahim’s new album. It’s just one example of what audiences have to expect from this record, too. ‘Baraka,’ or ‘A Blessing’ is another example of what audiences have to expect from Brahim’s new album.

‘Buscando la Paz’ is in itself a clear example of what audiences have to expect from Aziza Brahim’s new album Abbar el Hamada.’ The combination of its musical arrangement and its lyrical content will move listeners deeply. That is because it isn’t one of those obviously cheesy, over-the-top pieces that are so common among other musical genres. ‘Baraka,’ or ‘A Blessing,’ is another example of just how much audiences have to expect from Aziza Brahim’s new album. The song’s mid-tempo musical content by itself presents a positive vibe. It is driven largely by its guitar line and percussion. When examining the song’s lyrical content, the song’s upbeat vibe presented by the song’s musical content makes even more sense. That is because the song is a tribute to Brahim’s fellow women. She writes of women’s deeds in this song, “In every aspect/The woman has played her role/She had children/She educated and taught/Through admirable acts/Having children or not/No doubt/The woman has educated and taught/Vibrant woman/You meet the challenges/In democracy/With union and equality.” It is quite the positive statement. And whether used in an African nation, Middle Eastern or even American, it is a song that will empower any female listener. The combination of that positive lyrical message and upbeat musical arrangement assures that. It’s just one more example of just how much audiences have to expect from Brahim in her latest full-length studio offering. It is hardly the last, too. ‘Mani’ is one more example of hwo much audiences have to look forward to from this record and from Brahim.

Both ‘Buscando la Paz’ and ‘Baraka’ are clear examples of how much audiences have to expect from Aziza Brahim in her latest full-length studio offering. Both songs show in their own way that there is quite a bit for audiences to look forward to in this album. They are only a portion of what audiences have to look forward to from this record and from Brahim. This song especially stands out because its musical and lyrical content presents such a stark contrast. The song’s musical content is reserved to say the very least. And Brahim’s vocal delivery is almost mournful as she sings. This is important to note because the song’s lyrical content comes across as being confident in its defiant stance. As Brahim sings, “I’ll never renounce the love for my homeland/I’ll never give up Mijik/Glab or Haulia/I’ll never forsake/Sahrawi is who I am/And they belong with me/They’re central to my land.” One would expect with such firmness in these words the song’s musical content would have more fire. Yet interestingly enough the approach that Brahim has taken here actually works when set against these lyrics. Of course it works even better as Brahim sings in the song’s second verse, “This extraordinary love/Pours from my heart and being/I miss the view of Bulautad/And I want no other homeland.” The same can be said of the mix of the song’s music and lyrics in its third verse, too. Taking into consideration the song’s music and lyrics in whole, the song is one of the most telling examples of how much audiences have to expect from Aziza Brahiz in her new album. It is a mix that surprisingly works and quite well at that. At the same time it is just as powerful and moving as ‘Buscando la Paz’ and ‘Baraka.’ Keeping this in mind all three songs paint a picture of Abbar el Hamada as an album that is both a welcome return for Brahim and an equally welcome introduction for those that are less familiar with her body of work.

Aziza Brahim’s latest full length studio recording Abbar el Hamada is a welcome introduction to Brahim for those that are not familiar with the Sahrawi artist’s body of work. Examining the mix of the album’s deeply thoughtful lyrical content and equally moving musical content, it becomes just as welcome of a re-introduction for those that are more familiar with her work. That is evident in the album’s opener ‘Buscando la Paz,’ the smie-celebratory ‘Baraka’ and the intriguingly politically charged ‘Mani.’ All three songs are clear examples of the ability of this album’s musical and lyrical content to keep audiences engaged. That is not to discount any of the songs not noted here. Those songs could be used just as easily to exhibit how much audiences have to expect from Aziza Brahim’s new album. All things together, Abbar el Hamada proves to be an album that is a welcome return for those that are familiar with her work and just as welcome of an introduction for her new audiences. It is an album that is an early candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new World Music offerings. It will be available Friday, March 4th in stores and online and can be pre-ordered online now via Glitterbeat Records’ online store at http://glitterbeat.com/glitterbeat_store/. More information on her new album is available online now along with all of her latest news at:

Website: http://glitterbeat.com/artists/aziza-brahim/

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Glitterbeat_Rec

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.

Leprous Embarks On New Tour

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

Leprous is heading back out on the road.

The Norwegian prog-metal quintet recently announced a new slate of tour dates that takes it to Australia and across Europe this winter, spring, and summer. The band’s current schedule kicked off January 30th in Perth, Australia. Next up for the band is a performance in Brisbane on February 5th, and then Melbourne on February 6th. The band’s current schedule also includes a performance in Israel on March 23rd. After finishing up its show in Israel, Leprous will kick off its latet European tour schedule on Marh 31st in Berlin, Germany. The twelve-date schedule includes dates in France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium just to name a handful and runs through August 8th. The band’s current tour schedule is note below:

05.02.2016 Brisbane (Australia) – The Brightside / http://www.thebrightsidebrisbane.com.au + Voyager *

06.02.2016 Melbourne (Australia) – The Evelyn Hotel / http://www.evelynhotel.com.au + Voyager *

23.03.2016 Tel-Aviv (Israel) – Theatron Tmuna *

31.03.2016 Berlin (Germany) – Musik & Frieden / http://www.musikundfrieden.de + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets *

01.04.2016 ‘s Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) – W2 / www.w2.nl + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

02.04.2016 Helmond, (The Netherlands) – Cacaofabriek / www.cacaofabriek.nl + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

03.04.2016: Hoofddorp (The Netherlands) – Podium Duycker / www.duycker.nl + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

05.04.2016 Hamburg (Germany) – Logo / www.logohamburg.de + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

06.04.2016: Essen (Germany) – Turock / www.turock.de + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

07.04.2016 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z7 / www.z-7.ch + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

08.04.2016 Strasbourg (France) – La Laiterie / http://www.artefact.org + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

09.04.2016 Durbuy (Belgium) – Durbuy Rock Festival / www.durbuyrock.be + Voyager & Earthside / Tickets

28.-30.04.2016 Koparvik/Haugesund (Norway) – Karmoygeddon Metal Festival / www.karmoygeddon.no

23.06.2016 Halden (Norway) – Tons Of Rock / www.tonsofrock.no

08.08.2016 Josefov (Czech republic) – Brutal Assault / www.brutalassault.cz

More tourdates in the works…

Leprous’ latest album The Congregation was recently nominated for Best Metal Album in the Spellemannprisen, Norway’s equivalent of The Grammys. Also nominated in that category were Enslaved, Tsjuder, and Kampfar. Kampfar came out on top in that one. That aside, the band and its fans still have plenty to be happy about. The band also recently debuted the lyric video for ‘Slave,’ from The Congregation. Audiences can check it out now via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GWPzBXNY2g&feature=youtu.be. Along with that the band also premiered a tour documentary that audiences can also check out for themselves. It can be viewed via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTAsVeos4Bg&feature=youtu.be. If that isn’t enough the video for ‘The Price’ is also available now online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G9Qd_84YZs&feature=youtu.be. ‘Rewind’ can also be heard online via SoundCloud now at https://soundcloud.com/officialinsideoutmusic/leprous-rewind/.

 

Courtesy:  InsideOut Music

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

The Congregation is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online at:

InsideOut Music: https://www.insideoutshop.de/Search?q=The+Congregation

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Congregation-Leprous/dp/B00VU7KYPI?tag=smarturl-20

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/leprous/id322022617?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Germany (JPC): https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/poprock/detail/-/art/leprous-the-congregation/hnum/7268465

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

Website: http://www.leprous.net

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/leprousband

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 entertaiment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock Gives Audiences Its All In Its New Sinatra Bio

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

On December 12, 1915 one of America’s greatest entertainers was born.  His name was Francis Albert Sinatra.  He was more well known as Frank Sinatra.  That was just a little more than a century ago.  And this past December America stopped to mark the 100th anniversary of the late, great entertainer’s birthday.  Tributes were paid throughout both the music industry and Hollywood since Sinatra’s career spanned both worlds.  There were even television specials that put the spotlight on some of Sinatra’s greatest achievements in his life and career.  And just ahead of the anniversary Eagle Rock Entertainment released a very special retrospective on the music legend’s life and career in the form of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All.  The title lifts from his hit song of the same name.  And even while the hundredth anniversary of Sinatra’s birth has passed it does not detract from the importance of this bio.  As a matter of fact, with the milestone anniversary in question having passed, this documentary actually takes on even more importance.  It is such a thorough look at Sinatra’s life and career that the standard DVD presentation requires two discs to cover everything.  The main feature presented in Eagle Rock’s new bio of “Old Blue Eyes” is just one part of what makes this presentation a must have for fans of Sinatra’s life and work.  The bonus material included in the presentation adds even more enjoyment to the documentary’s overall presentation.    It is made up of various interviews with those that were close to Sinatra. But the anecdotes that are shared in each interview serve to make the portrait painted in the program’s main feature all the richer. The companion booklet that comes with the double-DVD set rounds out the set’s presentation. It gives even more background on Sinatra’s life and career, even including Sinatra’s own note written to fans announcing his retirement and then return from retirement. Each element plays its own important part in the whole of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All. Altogether they make this presentation a piece that any Sinatra fan should have just as much as any lover of the true classics.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Sinatra bio Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All is a presentation that any Sinatra fan should have just as much as any lover of music’s golden age. That is because it in fact gives its all over the course of its nearly two and a half hour run time. Specifically speaking its run time comes in at two hours and twenty-one minutes. Note this is in the case of the presentation’s DVD and Blu-ray presentation. There is so much information provided in the course of that time that the DVD portion requires two discs in order to cover everything. In other words Eagle Rock Entertainment doesn’t just give a quick over view of Sinatra’s life and career here. Rather, they present Sinatra the man, the myth, and the legend. The story doesn’t pull any punches along the way, either. Audiences are presented with the full picture of Frank Sinatra as a man that loved doing what he did and fully appreciated his audiences for their love of his work. They are also presented with a man that was a social activist of sorts, openly noting in interviews that he disagreed with segregation in every form. There is also plenty of mention of his support of America’s military. For all of the positives that audiences see here, audiences also see a portrait of Sinatra as a man that was a playboy of sorts, much like so many male celebrities of his time and who had a little bit of a controlling side, too. This and so much more is presented in the documentary’s main feature. From his birth in New Jersey right up to his final days, Eagle Rock presents in the bio’s main feature what is one of the most thorough Sinatra bios presented on DVD or Blu-ray in a very long time. As important as that thorough presentation is to the overall presentation of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All it is just one part of what makes this presentation well worth the purchase. The bonus “interviews” included in the presentation add even more enjoyment to the presentation.

The central feature of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All is in itself plenty of reason for audiences to add this video bio to their home DVD/Blu-ray collections should they not have access to the extended Deluxe edition of Eagle Rock’s new Sinatra bio. The bonus “interviews” that are included with the bio’s main feature are just as important to the overall presentation here as its central feature. The “interviews” are not that long. In all they total roughly thirteen minutes. But even in that short time, audiences get even more background on Frank Sinatra the performer and the man. Ex-wife Mia Farrow notes in her interview how casually he suggested they get married, laughing as she recollects the suggestion. And close friend Jerry Weintraub recollects Sinatra telling him at one point that he [Weintraub] needed to get his heart checked, only to end up getting him drunk shortly thereafter. Weintraub’s recollection of what Sinatra said days later will leave audiences in stitches. That won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that haven’t yet heard this anecdote. But it is funny needless to say. Jill St. John shares her own interesting bit of info in her interview noting that Sinatra did not like doing multiple takes when recording. She notes that he was more of a one-take type of person. It really showed his dedication to getting the music right and getting it the best that it can possibly be. Comedian/entertainer Jerry Lewis offers what is one of the most enlightening and moving memories of Sinatra as he recalls going to Richmond, Virginia to perform at a private benefit show for a fireman that had died doing his job. Lewis recalls that Sinatra never answered his question as he asked about people knowing that he [Sinatra] was a good man. The response that Sinatra gave will both leave audiences laughing but also being moved. It’s just one more way that the bonus “interviews” included in the presentation of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All prove to be their own collectively important way to the documentary’s overall presentation. Together with the program’s central feature both elements show even more clearly why this latest Sinatra bio is one of the best to come along in a very long time. Even as important as both elements are both by themselves and together, they are still not the only elements worth noting in the program’s overall presentation. The companion booklet that is included in the double-disc DVD presentation rounds out said presentation.

Both the main feature of Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All and the bonus “interviews” included in the package are equally important to the documentary’s overall presentation. As important as they are to its whole, they still are not all that make it an interesting program to watch. The companion booklet included with the package rounds out its presentation. The booklet offers even more history for fans and audiophiles alike. It gives a much shorter version of the bio presented on the program’s discs. But it is still just as concise, offering up the most important parts of Sinatra’s life. It even includes Sinatra’s own to his fans announcing his retirement. That is followed by the history of his return from retirement, including his own explanation as to why he came out of retirement. His humble explanation plays even more in tandem with the statements made by his friends and family in the program’s main feature and interviews. He notes that, “After the so-called retirement I was struggling, I was really fighting my way out of the doldrums because when I quit, I let everything go, and it all fell down. He goes on to offer more in his explanation for his return. But that will be saved for audiences to discover for themselves when they purchase this documentary or its deluxe edition. Those statements couple with everything else presented in the program’s companion booklet to prove in whole why the booklet is more than just a booklet. It is its own important part of the bio presented in Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All. Together with the program’s main feature and bonus “interviews” all three elements combine to show with full clarity why this documentary is, again, a must have for any Sinatra aficionado and for any audiophile in general.

Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Frank Sinatra bio Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All is a must have for any Sinatra aficionado and for audiophiles in general. That is because it is one of the most thorough bios presented about the music legend in a long time. That depth of information is centered on the program’s main feature. The main feature comes in at nearly two and a half hours. And it is nearly two and a half hours that will keep audiences completely engaged from beginning to end. The bonus “interviews” and companion booklet that complement that feature complete the presentation, giving even more background and history on Sinatra the man, the myth, and the legend. Each element plays its own integral part to this documentary. Altogether they make it a documentary that any Sinatra fan should have in his or her own home DVD/Blu-ray library. That is especially the case for those that can’t get their hands on the documentary’s deluxe edition. That edition gives audiences the fullest experience. That is not to take anything away from this presentation of course. It offers its own entertainment and value. It is available now in stores and online. It is available on 2-DVD, 2-Blu-ray, Deluxe Edition and digital formats. The 2-DVD and 2-Blu-ray presentation will both retail for MSRP of $29.98 while the Deluxe Edition will retail for MSRP of $69.99. That is because of the expansive amount of material included in the Deluxe Edition. It features the All or Nothing At All Documentary on two DVDs, Sinatra’s complete 1971 “Retirement Concert” on both DVD and CD platform, a one-on-one interview between Sinatra and famed newsman Walter Cronkite originally recorded in 1965 (on one DVD), a reproduction of the 1971 Life Magazine article discussing Sinatra’s “Retirement Concert,” a separate bonus booklet, and six art cards housed in their own envelope. More information on Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now along with all of the latest news from the leading name in live recordings at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

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.

Take Me To The River Hits All Of The Right Notes At All Of The Right Times

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Music, it is often said, is the universal language. It is a language that bridges cultures and transcends generations. Even with audiences’ varying tastes music still does more to bring together the world’s people than any politician could ever do. That includes not just American politicians but politicians in general. That has been proven time and again throughout the music industry’s rich history. It has helped make some of America’s best moments even better. It has also helped the country get through some of its most trying times. That ability to get America through its best and worst times shows its immense power. In 2014 director Martin Shore presented audiences with just one example of that power in the documentary Take Me To The River. The roughly hour and a half documentary follows the collaboration of a number of legendary Memphis musicians and modern artists in the creation of a new album that resurrects the songs of said legends. While that presentation lies at the heart of the documentary it is just one aspect of the program’s story. There is far more to the documentary than that process. And thanks to Shout! Factory, audiences will get to see just how much more there is to the story when Take Me To The River will finally be released in stores and online next week. That story is just one part of what makes the documentary worth the watch, too. The music that audiences get to hear throughout the course of the documentary is just as important to the program as its multi-faceted main presentation. Rounding out the documentary’s presentation is its bonus interviews and recording session featuring the recording of ‘Be Like Me’ with The Bar-Kays and rap duo 8Ball and MJG. Each element plays its own important role in the whole of Take Me To The River. Altogether, they make it a documentary that even not being new per se, still hits all the right notes at all the right times from beginning to end even almost two years after its original debut.

Nearly two years after its theatrical debut, director Martin Shore’s music documentary Take Me To The River is finally coming home. Why it took so long for it to finally be released on DVD and Blu-ray is anybody’s guess. Regardless of why it took so long, it can still be said that it is a welcome “new” release for music lovers even if audiences were not lucky enough to see it in its original theatrical release. This is proven primarily through the program’s multi-faceted main story. At the heart of that story is the recording process for an album that was meant to celebrate the relationship between some of Memphis’ most legendary performers and the artists who were influenced by those legends. Audiences will be interested to see the broad spectrum of acts that were influenced by the Memphis music scene of days gone by. On a related note, the respect shared between the two groups exhibited in the recording process is just as impressive. Of course that portion of the program’s main story is just one part of its whole. Along with that story Shore also presents the story of Stax Record, which was based in Memphis and its role in not just the Memphis music scene but in the nation’s history in whole. That story is the real story. Viewers learn about the founding of Stax and how its founding was influenced by the racial tensions of the day. Despite said tensions, it became a refuge of sorts; a place where artists white and black alike could record their music together. And as is revealed in the extended interview with Snoop Dogg and William Bell, it was much more than that. It played just as much of a role in the music industry at the time as it did in the nation’s culture and history. There is even a lesson on the artists that made Stax so great then and still does today as the recording process for the album proceeds. Audiences get to learn about William Bell, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Booker T, Charlie Musselwhite, and a number of other legends of the Memphis music scene. The combined music history lessons and recording documentary that are presented within the main presentation of Take Me To The River show clearly together why the program’s central story is key to its overall presentation.

The multi-faceted story that lies at the center of Take Me To The River shows in itself quite clearly how this documentary hits all the right notes at all the right times. Of course it is just one element within the program’s presentation that proves this argument. The songs that are featured throughout the recording process are just as important to note as the story of the process of their recording. The songs–twelve in all–are classic pieces that have been re-worked with a modern touch. One of the best of the featured songs is ‘Ain’t No Sunshine.’ The song featured Memphis legend Bobby “Blue” Bland teaming up with rapper Yo Gotti for a piece that is one of the recording’s best numbers. Bland’s gentle chorus works with Yo Gotti’s verses and the song’s solid, infectious hip-hop style backbeat to make it a song that gives the classic tune a welcome update. ‘Wish I Had Answered’ is another great number. Audiences will find themselves tapping their feet in time as legendary singer Mavis Staples and North Mississippi All Stars work their magic in this bluesy/gospel hybrid. ‘If I Should Have Bad Luck’ is another impressive and enjoyable song that audiences get to see come to life. Charlie Musselwhite’s vocal delivery and harmonica work are the song’s magic elements. It’s just one more example of how the songs featured in the documentary make it more enjoyable in whole. It’s not the last example of the song’s importance to the documentary either. Any of the recording’s dozen tracks could just as easily be cited as examples of what makes th songs their own important element of the documentary. The songs, when coupled with the documentary’s central story, make even clearer why Take Me To The River hits all the right notes. They still are only a portion of what makes the program such a worthwhile watch. The bonus interviews that are included with the program give it even more interest.

The story at the center of Take Me To The River and the program’s featured songs are both equally important elements in its success. That is because together they tell a deep and engaging story that any music history buff will enjoy. For all of the importance of the program’s story and its featured songs those elements are but a portion of what makes it worth the watch. The bonus interviews that are included with the presentation round out the documentary. Audiences will be interested to learn how Al Bell came to write the hit song ‘I’ll Take You There.’ Even as Mr. Bell doesn’t allow himself to become choked up in telling the story, the same cant’ be said of audiences. That is especially the case as he notes that he “didn’t write the song, but that it wrote through him.” He explains in full depth to narrator/interviewer Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow, Iron Man, Red Tails) how the violence of the era played a direct role in the song’s creation. That is the extent of what will be told here so as to not ruin the story for others. Needless to say th full story is truly moving and enlightening. On a related note, the interview with Snoop Dogg and William Bell is just as interesting. The pair’s discussion runs th gamut from the serious to the silly throughout. One of the most interesting discussions shared in this interview is the comparison of Stax Records to Motown. Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, and Bell discuss how Motown wrote songs more for the masses while acts signed to Stax made music more for the people so to speak. They weren’t trying to make money in other words. They just wanted to get their songs out there and share the struggles that everyone felt through their songs. Snoop Dogg’s affirmation of the importance of Stax both to itself and the culture in which it was founded and to the modern hip-hop industry is believable. He really sounds serious about its importance. At a later point in the interview, Bell and Broadus change gears and start talking about DJs and Soul Train of all things. It was completely off th topic. But it was also so natural in the bigger picture of things. And it is hardly the last of th discussions shared between th pair in its interview. There is far more for audiences to take in here. And audiences that purchase the program for themselves will discover just how entertaining and informative those other noted topics are. They will also agree in discovering this that the bonus interviews included alongside the central story of Take Me To The River and its featured songs round out the presentation, making it a presentation in whole that once again hits all the right notes at all of the right times.

Shout! Factory’s new home release of Take Me To The River is a presentation that hits all of the right notes at all of the right times. This is the case even with the documentary having originally debuted in theaters nearly two years ago. That is thanks in large part to its multi-faceted story. The program’s featured songs present their own interesting music history lesson. That lesson and the lesson taught in the program’s central story double up to show clearly why Take Me To The River hits all of the right notes at the right times. The bonus interviews included as part of the documentary’s home release round out the program. The background and bonus information that thy share rounds out the program and shows once and for all that while this documentary may not be new per se, it is still a piece that hits all of the right notes at all of the right times. Take Me To The River will be available next Tuesday, February 5th in stores and online. It can be re-ordered online now direct via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/documentary/take-me-to-the-river. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShoutFactory

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.