ECM Records Offers Audiences Yet Another Unique Record In Marcin Wasilewski Trio’s ‘En attendant’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Jazz artist Marcin Wasilewski released his latest record this week under the moniker of the Marcin Wasilewski Trio.  The record, En attendant, is a presentation that will appeal to a very targeted audience what with its blend of originals and covers.  The most notable of its originals is its three-part opus, ‘In Motion.’  It will be discussed shortly.  The cover of legendary classical composer J.S. Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variation 25.’  It will be examined a little later.  ‘Glimmer of Hope,’ which comes late in the record’s 43-minute run time, is yet another intriguing original featured in the album’s body.  It will also be examined later.  When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the album’s remaining works, the whole makes En attendant a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.

En attendant, the new album from Marcin Wasilewski Trio, is an intriguing new offering from ECM Records.  One listen through the nearly 45-minute album reveals it to be in its sound and style, so much like so many records released through the label by other acts.  That is to say that each of its featured works is very quiet and subdued.  To that end, the album, whose title allegedly translates roughly from Danish to Waiting, will find a very targeted audience through its featured songs.  The three-part original composition, ‘In Motion’ serves well to support those statements.  Spread out across the album, its three movements clock in between five-and-a-half minutes and nearly seven minutes.  The first movement pays a very subtle, brief tribute to Miles Davis’ timeless record, Kind of Blue at one point as Marcilewski gently makes his way across the piano.  His work, alongside that of bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, gives the first movement overall something of a rather melancholy mood at points while at others, changes the mood somewhat.  Michael Miskiewicz’s work on the drums adds just enough controlled flare to make things interesting in that movement.

The song’s second movement, which serves as part of the record’s midpoint alongside the original, ‘Vashkar,’ changes things up notably.  Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz take the lead this time in this decidedly rhythmically based work.  The subtleties in the duo’s performance here really demands audiences fully engage themselves in the composition in order to fully appreciate it.  There are light taps on the cymbals, equally subtle rim knocks on the snare, and notes played on the double bass that when paired with the percussion, gives the song in general something of an expressionist sound and style.  Wasilewski’s occasional strains on the piano add even more to that sense.

The third and final movement, which also serves as the album’s finale, changes things up yet again.  Wasilewski takes the lead here again, but also allows his fellow musicians their own moments to shine throughout the gentle, flowing composition.  Wasilewski’s performance on the piano pairs with those of his fellow performers to paint a picture (at least in this critic’s mind) of a quiet forest scene or a lea. A creek gently flows through the forest scene while in the other, the sun is coming up slowly and everything is waking up from the night.  It is such a stark contrast to the song’s other two movements but when considered alongside them, makes the overall song that much more interesting.  The three movements collectively make the song overall the album’s highest point.

‘In Motion’ is just one of the works that makes En attendant a unique new offering from Marcin Wasilewski trio.  The trio’s take of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variation 25’ is of its own interest.  In the case of this song’s performance, Wasilewski works well to stay true to the source material.  The gentle, reserved nature that Bach intended in his work is on full display here.  Wasilewski does a very good job of echoing the emotional depth of Bach’s original thanks to that dedication.  Miskiewicz’s very controlled cymbal rolls add even more to that emotional depth while Wasilewski’s pairing with Kurkiewicz also adds its own unique touch to the whole through the subtle harmony that the pair create.  Overall, this update of a timeless classical composition is a unique presentation that definitely is well worth hearing in this case.

‘Glimmer of Hope,’ another of the album’s featured originals, is just as intriguing as the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s entries.  While original, clearly, it conjures thoughts of prog-rock trio Liquid Tension Experiment’s song, ‘State of Grace.’  That is because the two songs two have such a similar style and sound in their bodies.  Given there’s no guitar in this song, but the use of the piano and bass together really put forward so much of that similarity.  It comes across just as much as a saccharine, romantic ballad type work as ‘State of Grace.’  To that end, it is another unique addition to En attendant that further makes this record worth hearing.  When it is considered alongside the other songs examined here and with the album’s other entries, the whole makes the album overall worth hearing at least once.

En attendant, the brand-new album from Marcin Wasilewski Trio, is an intriguing record that will find itself a very targeted audience.  That is evidenced through each of its featured works.  The songs examined here make that clear in their diversity.  Each boasts its own unique identity from its counterparts, and they are just as different from the album’s other works as from one another.  That uniqueness in each composition makes the album worth hearing at least once and another intriguing new offering from ECM Records.

En attendant is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

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

Rava, Hersch Offer An Interesting Record In ‘The Song Is You’

Courtesy: ECM Records

Flugelhorn player Enrico Rava has been producing recordings for ECM Records since 1970.  His catalog with the label totals 15 records and reaches as far back as 1975 and as recent as 2021.  On Friday, Rava released his 16th record with the label in the form of The Song is You.  His 48th overall album as a band leader, it sees him joined this time by pianist Fred Hersch for a group of covers and originals that is worth hearing at least once.  Among the most notable of the covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  Among the most notable of the originals is ‘The Trial.’  It will be examined a little later.  The duo’s cover of ‘Round Midnight’ is another interesting update featured as part of the record’s 42-minute body and will also be examined later.  All three songs noted do their own respective part to make The Song Is You an interesting presentation.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the record a presentation that most jazz fans will find worth hearing at least once.

The Song is You, the new album from the pairing of Enrico Rava and Fred Hersch, is a presentation that many jazz fans will find intriguing.  That is proven through its originals and covers alike.  Among the most notable of its covers is that of George Bassman and Ned Washington’s timeless classic ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You.’  While Bassman and Washington were the song’s craftsmen, the composition was made most famous by Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra way back in 1935.  That composition, led by Dorsey’s work on trombone, was (and is) a very subdued, romantic work.  The use of the piano in support of Dorsey’s work and the eventual introduction of the clarinet line to the mix makes the song even more schmaltzy, but in the best way possible.  It really is one of those true Make-Believe Ballroom type songs (R.I.P. Jim Kelso – for any Public Radio East fans out there who go way back).  Rava and Hersch change things up slightly here, giving the song a slightly more up-tempo approach.  The clarinets and other elements incorporated into the original are gone, replaced by just the duo’s own work.  The result is a song that is longer than the original at almost six minutes (five minutes 55 seconds to be exact) but is still enjoyable in its updated take that balances nicely the source material with updated content.

While Rava and Hersch do quite well taking on that classic big band era tune, the duo does just as well with its original content here.  That is evidenced through the performance of ‘The Trial.’  Clocking in at six minutes, 47 seconds, the gentle, flowing composition is presented largely in a minor key and uses chromatic scales to create an interesting sense of tension throughout.  However, it does gradually progress more into a major key and more into a semi-bluesy approach as Rava joins Hersch.  Hersch leads the way here through his performance, which is more modern classical in its approach than jazz.  That is not to say that there is not a jazz leaning here.  In fact, there is the most subtle jazz touch balanced with the more classical leaning side to make for even more engagement and entertainment.  Sadly, there are no liner notes included with the album to explain the back story behind the song.  That background would have added even more interest here.  Throughout it all, the duo keeps the composition so subdued.  It forces audiences to engage themselves in the song in order to fully appreciate the work.  That could be a good or bad thing depending on the listener.  Regardless, the song holds its own alongside the record’s other works, showing just how much the record’s original content does for the album’s presentation.

One more notable addition to this record is another of its covers.  In this case, the cover is that of ‘‘Round Midnight.’  Crafted collectively by pianist Thelonious Monk, trumpet player Cootie Williams and conductor Bernie Hanighen, the original song clocks in at three minutes, 48 seconds.  The simple composition features Monk on piano, pairing a steady bass line on one hand with a light almost bop type melody on the other.  Hersch meanwhile takes the song in a much more subdued direction.  His approach to the song gives it an almost entirely new identity separate from its source material that really does require audiences to engage themselves in the work in order to appreciate Hersch’s work.  That could prove divisive for certain, but the song is still interesting regardless.  It is one more cover worth taking in, and when considered along with the other covers and originals, shows even more why this collection of songs is worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You, the latest new studio offering from flugelhorn player Enrico Rava and pianist Fred Hersch, is an intriguing presentation.  That is proven through its blend of originals and covers.  The songs examined here do well to make that clear.  When they are considered along with the record’s other entries, the whole makes the presentation overall worth hearing at least once.

The Song Is You is available now through ECM Records.  More information on this and other titles from ECM Records is available at:

Websitehttps://ecmrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/ecmrecords

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

Katie Dwyer Succeeds Again On Her Latest LP

Courtesy: West Side Rose

A little more than two years after the release of her debut album, Music Makes Me Happy, family music entertainer Katie Dwyer followed up its release with her sophomore album, Let’s Move Friday.  Released through West Side Rose, the 24-song record is a successful new offering from the up-and-coming songwriter/musician.  That is due in no small part to the musical content featured throughout the record’s body.  This will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content make for their own interest and will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of that collective content brings everything together and completes the album’s presentation.  It will also be discussed later.  Each item addressed is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make the record another enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

Let’s Move, the new, sophomore album from Katie Dwyer, is an interesting presentation that the whole family will find appealing.  That is due in no small part to its featured collective musical arrangements.  The arrangements are diverse from the record’s beginning to its end in their sounds and styles.  Right from the record’s outset, audiences get an up-tempo pop rock arrangement akin to something from the 1980s in ‘Dance, Dance, Dance.’  That is evident through the pairing of the keyboard line and the electronically created claps and the steady beat on the hi-hat.  That overall instrumentation immediately throws back to the sounds and styles of the age, and thankfully does so without being as overly poppy as so many of the works from that age.  ‘Ahoy There, Matey,’ which comes a little later, changes things up with its obvious sea shanty style sound and approach, complete with penny whistle and what sounds like an accordion.  On yet another note, a song, such as ‘Big Bear Poe’ gives listeners a little bluesy approach very much in the vein of the timeless song, ‘The Cat Came Back.’  There’s even a little tropical vibe a la Jimmy Buffet in ‘Tooper, The Turtle.’  So again, what audiences get throughout the album in terms of its musical content is plenty of variety and in turn, reason enough to hear the album at least once.

For all that the diverse musical content does to make Let’s Move appealing, it is just part of what makes the album engaging and entertaining.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add to that appeal even more.  That is because they are just as diverse.  The album’s title track, for instance, is a song that promotes healthy, active living.  What’s interesting here is that the arrangement that pairs with that theme is a relaxed, reggae-style composition (showing yet again, the diversity in the record’s musical content).  Considering that the song’s lyrical theme promotes active, healthy living one might have expected the arrangement to be more energetic, but who knows, with this pairing, maybe Dwyer was working the song as a sort of yoga type work.  Regardless, that theme is just one of so many presented throughout the album.  ‘Got A New Canoe,’ what with its semi-New Orleans jazz style a la Dr. John (once again, more diversity in the arrangements), is a straightforward song about taking a trip down a river in a canoe.  ‘Let’s Rock,’ which comes even later in the record’s 55-minute run time, further shows the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes (and musical content).  The song is a simple celebration of music and the joy that it brings.  This as Dwyer sings that “it’s good for my soul…come on everybody/Let’s rock.”  The happy, celebratory rockabilly approach to the song’s musical arrangement further illustrates that message and does so in such welcome fashion, too.  This is just one more example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the diversity in said content becomes all the clearer.  In turn, it also makes clearer, the importance of that diversity.

The diversity in the record’s musical and lyrical content is taken fully into account in examining the album’s sequencing, which rounds out the most important of its elements.  From beginning to end, the sequencing ensures that the energy in the album’s overall body remains stable even as the styles and sounds change from one song to the next.  At the same time, the lyrical themes change up just enough from one song to the next to keep things interesting, too.  The result here is that the sequencing ensures the record’s appeal just as much as the album’s content.  That is because of the role that it takes in making the overall content present a positive general effect for the record.  To that end, the whole of all of this makes Let’s Move a successful new offering from Katie Dwyer and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

Let’s Move, the sophomore album from Katie Dwyer, is a positive new offering from the up-and-coming family music entertainer.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements are divers in their sounds and styles and offer reason enough for audiences to hear the record.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are just as diverse, covering just as much ground if not more than the musical arrangements.  The sequencing of that collective content takes all of the content into account and keeps things interesting for listeners throughout.  The result is a positive general effect that puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered they make Let’s Move a successful new outing for Katie Dwyer.

Let’s Move is available now through West Side Rose.  More information on the album is available along with all of Katie Dwyer’s latest music at:

Website: https://katiedwyermusic.com

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

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

‘Three Sides Of One’ Is An Intriguing Addition To The Catalog Of King’s X

Courtesy: InsideOut Music

For the first time in more than a dozen years, King’s X is scheduled to release a new album Friday.  Three Sides of One is scheduled for release Friday through InsideOut Music and will be the band’s first new album since 2008’s XV, and with the recent announcement of guitarist Ty Tabor’s health concerns causing the band to cancel its planned upcoming European tour, audiences cannot help but wonder if this album could end up being the band’s last.  That is because this is just the latest in an ongoing series of health concerns for the band’s members.  Drummer Jerry Gaskill has a serious health scare in 2019 due to heart concerns, including a pair of near-fatal heart attacks, which also caused tour cancellations.  Front man/bassist Doug Pinnick dealt with a hernia in 2013.  Considering all of these health issues and that so many years passed between the release of XV and this record, again, it is easy to wonder about the band’s future.  If that does end up being the case, the album will end up being at least a somewhat successful final statement from the band.  That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content collectively.  One of the most notable of the songs that serves to support that statement comes almost halfway through the record’s 46-minute run time in the form of ‘All God’s Children.’  This song will be discussed shortly.  ‘Festival,’ which comes past the album’s midpoint, is another way in which the record’s musical and lyrical content makes it worth hearing.  It will be examined a little later.  ‘Flood Pt. 1,’ which comes early in the album’s body, is also of note and will be discussed later.  Each song noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s body.  When they are considered alongside the album’s other works, the whole makes the album overall an interesting addition to King’s X’s catalog.

Three Sides of One, the latest addition to King’s X’s already extensive catalog, is not the band’s best album but is also not the band’s worst, either.  The record is worth hearing at least once.  That is proven in part through the album’s entry, ‘All God’s Children.’  This song stands out because of its brooding musical and lyrical content.  The brooding nature of the song’s musical arrangement immediately sets a certain tone for this composition.  It starts off quietly, gradually growing as it progresses through its opening bars.  Almost 40 seconds in, the guitars kick in heavily, but slowly.  The brooding, contemplative mood set at this point continues on through the rest of the song and definitely keeps listeners engaged in unique fashion.  It pairs with the song’s equally engaging lyrical theme to make for even more interest.

In the case of the song’s lyrical theme, this element is rather contemplative in its own right, seemingly questioning the religious establishment.  This is inferred in the song’s lead verse, which finds Tabor singing, “It came in the water/It came in with the flood/It seeped into everything/That we couldn’t be rid of/We bathed in the fountains, and we played in the mud/We breathed as it rotted/It got into our blood/And all God’s children kept believing/All God’s children believed anyway.”  That discussion of something seemingly bad happening and no one questioning it (all God’s children) comes across as that questioning of how people seem to just blindly follow and believe, not questioning what they are taught.  That is of course just this critic’s interpretation.  Tabor continues in the song’s second verse, “It was down in the basement/You were up on your throne/And while vegetation wasted/We were left picking the bones/But nobody complained/Fact they said it was right/So they all lit up torches/And marched into the night.”  This adds a little more to the seeming contemplation.  It points at someone bad sitting up on high, not caring about others, yet no one questions it, accepting it.  Again, this points to that seeming message of people just blindly following, going about their lives, not questioning things (including what they are taught to believe).  It definitely makes for an interesting concept that will certainly generate plenty of discussion among listeners.  That is especially the case when this content is set alongside the song’s equally brooding musical arrangement.

‘All God’s Children’ is just one of the songs that makes King’s X’s new album worth hearing.  ‘Festival’ is another notable addition to the record.  The musical arrangement featured in ‘Festival’ is the polar opposite of that featured in ‘All God’s Children.’  This composition’s arrangement presents something of a neo-classic rock vibe right from its opening bars.  That is exhibited through the unique layered vocal approach used as Tabor sings, “Let’s throw a festival.”  The guitar riff that leads the way here adds even more to that neo-classic rock sense and makes the song just as engaging and entertaining.  Pinnick’s work on the bass and Gaskill’s work on the drums put the finishing touch to the whole, making the song complete.

The musical arrangement featured in ‘Festival’ is interesting because of the seeming message of making the most of life in the song’s lyrical theme.  That seeming theme is inferred as Tabor continues singing in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “Let’s make it so the rest of us can go/I’m thinking of something/I’m thinking of something that we can do/But I’m thinking it might be up to you/It’s gonna be a big thing/Big enough to call everybody you know/Yeah, you better get ready to go/Let’s throw a festival/Let’s make it so the rest of us can go/It’s just an idea/But I think it’s one that we should try.”  This celebratory discussion could potentially be the second of those three sides of one; one life.  The comment by Tabor in the song’s second verse that “What’s the worst/Maybe somebody dies” adds a sort of sense of cynicism, yet the added note in the second verse that “I think it will all work out” despite the possibility that something bad could happen adds to that seeming sense of just making the best of a potentially bad situation.  Again, this is just this critic’s own interpretation.  If in fact it is anywhere in the proverbial ballpark, then it is that second of three sides of the whole of life.  It is another notable addition not the album that makes the record all the more interesting to hear.

‘Flood Pt. 1,’ which comes very early in the album’s run, is notable in its own right in part because of its arrangement.  The song once again opens gradually, using a tense string arrangement before launching into a heavy, hard rock arrangement, led once again by the pairing of Tabor and Pinnick.  From there, the song moves into a more notably contemplative mood as Pinnick sings quite cynically once again here, this time contemplating all the negative in the world.

He sings in the song’s lead verse, “Maybe the time has come, they say/Waters rising/Gonna drown us all away/I used to say that all we needed was love/Now I’m thinking that what we need is a flood.”  This is a thought pattern from someone who is just very upset at the world.  The anger in those words leads to a sense of confusion and depression in the song’s second verse as Pinnick sings, “Feeling temporary/’Cause it’s necessary/On a binge/No beginning without an ending/Where to begin” before returning to the song’s early statement.  Again, this is not the happiest song by any means, but shows yet another side of that whole.  The anger and depression is there and is complimented through the duality in the song’s musical arrangement.  It adds even more to the song’s impact.  When the whole here is considered alongside the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Three Sides of One another interesting addition to the catalog of King’s X.  It becomes a record that while maybe not the best of the band’s works is also not the band’s worst.  In turn it is a record that is worth hearing at least once.

Three Sides of One, the latest album from King’s X, is an interesting addition to the band’s catalog.  It is a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.  That is evidenced through the album’s musical and lyrical content alike, as the songs examined here show.  When these songs are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album worth hearing at least once.

Three Sides of One is available now through InsideOut Music.  More information on the album is available along with all of King’s X’s latest news at:

Website: https://kingsxrocks.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kingsx


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

Audiences Will Reflect Fondly On Foster’s Latest LP

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions Records

Early this year, renowned jazz drummer Al Foster celebrated a big milestone when he celebrated his 79th birthday.  That was back in January.  Now as the year slowly inches toward its end, Foster has another reason to celebrate.  That reason is his brand-new album, Reflections.  His second for Smoke Sessions Records and his seventh as a bandleader, the 11-song record is an enjoyable collection of originals and covers.  The covers pay tribute to the likes of Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Joe Henderson (all of whom he has worked with during his expansive career) while the originals offer their own share of engagement and entertainment.  Among the most notable of the covers is that of Rollins’ ‘Pent-up House,’ which comes early in the album’s hour-plus run.  To be precise, the album clocks in at one hour, seven minutes.  Among the most notable of the album’s originals is ‘Six,’ which comes just at the album’s midpoint.  It will be examined a little later.  Another notable addition to the album is its finale, ‘Monk’s Bossa,’ which obviously pays tribute to another legendary jazz artist, Thelonius Monk.  All three songs noted here are key in their own way to the album’s presentation.  When they are considered alongside the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a thoroughly enjoyable offering that every jazz fan will find enjoyable.

Reflections, the latest album from famed drummer Al Foster, is an enjoyable presentation that any jazz aficionado will find enjoyable.  That is proven throughout its blend of originals and covers.  Among the most notable of the record’s covers is that of Sonny Rollins’ ‘Pent-Up House.’  Rollins’ original was featured as part of his 1956 album, Sonny Rollins Plus 4.  Foster and his fellow musicians – Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Chris Potter (saxophone), Kevin Hays (piano), and Vicente Archer (bass) – stay true to the source material here.  Right from the song’s outset, Payton leads the way with his light but still energetic performance.  Given, Rollins’ original tops the eight-minute mark while Foster and company’s take on the song is much shorter at five minutes, five seconds, but it still pays the fullest possible tribute to the work of Rollins and his then band mates.  Potter’s work on saxophone takes the place of the solos from the original and does so quite well at that.  There are also some solos in the original performed by Foster’s fellow famed drummer Max Roach that are omitted in the updated rendition, but that is beside the point.  This group’s take will still leave listeners fulfilled by its finale.  It is just as enjoyable in its own right as the original song.

Among the most notable of the album’s originals is ‘Six,’ which serves as part of the record’s midpoint.  Composed by Payton, the eight-minute-plus composition starts out in a very subtle, contemplative fashion before giving way to a more vintage funk style approach.  That throwback style is evident through the use of the horns and keyboards.  Foster’s equally funky time keeping pairs with those instruments to really give the song the sense of a work from the likes of Stevie Wonder.  Considering the amount of information in the album’s expansive liner notes, it is difficult to know for certain if there is any discussion on the song, though many of the other songs are discussed.  That aside, the song is still such an enjoyable work.  The pairing of Payton and Potter alongside Hays (whose work on the keyboards really adds even more to that feeling) really makes the composition all the richer.  It stands out so starkly from any of the album’s other works, original and otherwise and it just one more of the notable additions to the album.  ‘Monk’s Bossa,’ which serves as the album’s finale, is one more interesting original featured as part of the album’s body.

‘Monk’s Bossa’ is an interesting work what with its sort of lounge style presentation.  Hays leads the way with his work on the keys here while Foster’s light touches on the toms expertly compliments that work.  That is because his playing is so gentle.  He adds just enough, making sure to let Hays have his moment here.  Potter and Payton each get their own moments to shine, too, making the most of their performances, too.  The whole of the performances makes this song just as enjoyable as any other in the record.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Foster’s latest album engaging and entertaining and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Al Foster’s newly released album, Reflections, is an aptly titled record that so many jazz fans will find enjoyable.  That is proven throughout its hour-plus body through its originals and covers alike.  The songs examined here do well in their own right to make that clear.  When they are considered with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Reflections another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Reflections is available now through Smoke Sessions Records. More information on this and other titles from Smoke Sessions Records is available at:

Websitehttps://www.smokesessionsrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SmokeSessionsRecords   

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/smokejazzclub

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

Again, Again’s New LP Shows Promise For Duo’s Future

Courtesy: Waldmania PR

Family music act Again, Again released its sophomore album, Your Voice is Magic Friday independently.  The 10-song record is a presentation that is worth hearing at least once.  Its appeal comes in part through its featured musical content which will be examined shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the record’s musical content adds to the album’s appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of that content brings everything together and rounds out the record’s overall presentation.  It will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Your Voice is Magic an appealing new offering from Again, Again that is worth hearing again and again.

Your Voice is Magic, the new album from Again, Again, is an interesting new presentation from the up-and-coming family music duo Anne Montone and Jennifer Cook.  The record’s musical arrangements form its foundation.  For the most part, the musical content featured throughout the body is decidedly pop in its sound and approach.  However, there are some variances throughout.  One of the songs that breaks from the norm here comes late in the album’s run in ‘Captain Bubble Beard.’  The arrangement hear actually is a sea shanty style work, complete with something similar to an accordian and steady drum beat that is meant to sound like feet on a ship’s deck.  The vocal delivery here is even sung in similar fashion as that of a shanty, making for even more engagement and entertainment.  ‘Chosen,’ the album’s penultimate entry, boasts a sort of sound and style that is somewhat neo-folk in its sound and approach.  That is evidenced through the simple, subtle use of the vocals and guitars.  The seeming keyboard and synthesized strings also add to that sense, making for even more interest.  It is a change of pace that audiences will find welcome from the rest of the album’s content in its own right.  The lullaby approach of the album’s finale, ‘Monsters Aren’t Real’ is welcome in its own right, what with its gentle approach.  Rather than just being another run-of-the-mill overly saccharine sweet style work that it could have been, it instead has the most subtle playfulness in that gentle approach, giving it a unique identity from other lullabies out there and from the rest of the album’s entries.  As if all of this is not, the album’s opener, ‘Signs Up High,’ is a subtle pop rock style composition that has its own appeal, too.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the arrangements in the rest of the record, the whole makes clear why the album’s musical content is so important to its presentation. 

While the musical content featured throughout Your Voice is Magic is clearly an important part of the album in its own right, it is just one of the important items to note.  The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical content are just as worth examining.  That is because of their diversity.  As the album opens, the pair tackles the familiar topic of peaceful protest in ‘Signs Up High.’  The theme is made clear as Cook and Montone sing about marching for change and reminding listeners about knowing the difference between right and wrong.  The mention of the signs is literally a reference to holding signs declaring that message of belief in certain topics.  The promotion of standing up for one’s beliefs is key especially in the current age when so many people want to shout down those who peacefully protest.

‘Pronoun Party,’ which immediately follows, takes on the equally familiar topic of inclusion.  In this case, it does so by “inviting” everyone to the “Pronoun Party.”  In this case, the pronouns are the words that people in the LGBTQ+ community use to identify themselves.  That topic is sure to cause its own share of discussion among listeners, considering how divisive the topic is among both liberals and conservatives both between the two sides and even among the parties.  The inclusion theme continues in a different fashion in ‘Girl Included,’ which is a work that promotes gender equality among males and females.  The accessible way in which the duo tackles the topic is certain to appeal to the act’s targeted audiences.  As if all of this is not enough, Cook and Montone also take on the topic of adoption in ‘Chosen’ and that of personal hygiene in ‘Wash Your Hands March.’  Again, here is more example of the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  All things considered here, the lyrical themes featured throughout Your Voice is Magic give audiences just as much to appreciate as the album’s musical content if not more.  To that end, those themes prove to be just as important as the album’s musical content.

While all of the content that makes up the body of Your Voice is Magic is clearly important on its own and collectively, the sequencing of that content is just as important as the content.  That is because it plays into the album’s general effect.  Throughout the album’s run, which barely tops the 30-minute mark (30 minutes, 43 seconds to be exact), Cook and Montone keep the record’s energy flowing even as the styles and sounds of the arrangements change so subtly from one to the next.  In the same vein, the more notable changes in the songs’ lyrical themes change enough to keep audiences engaged and entertained, too.  The result thereof is that the general effect will ensure listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment just as much as the album’s content.  All things considered the record proves to be a mostly enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

Your Voice is Magic, the new album from up-and-coming family music act Again, Again, is a mostly enjoyable presentation from the duo.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its musical arrangements.  The arrangements are important because of their accessibility even being mostly poppy in their presentation.  Each one boasts its own subtle difference from its counterparts throughout.  The lyrical themes that accompany the musical arrangements are even more diverse, making for even more engagement.  The sequencing of all of that content completes the picture painted by this album and brings everything full circle.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make Your Voice is Magic a welcome addition to this year’s field of new family music albums.

Your Voice is Magic is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Again, Again’s latest news at:

Website: https://againagain.net

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

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

‘Of Kingdom And Crown’ Is One Of Machine Head’s Best Albums To Date

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast Records

Machine Head is back.  More than four years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Catharsis, the band released its 10th album, Of Kingdom and Crown Friday through Nuclear Blast Records.  The 13-song album is a solid return to form for front man and founder Robb Flynn, who is now the band’s only original member.  Over the course of the record’s 39-minute run time, its arrangements lift from all of the best of the band’s catalog, musically speaking, while also offering lyrical content that is engaging in its own right.  Flynn and his new band mates – Waclaw Kieltkya (guitar, vocals), Jared MacEachern (bass, vocals), and Matt Alston (drums) – released roughly half of the album’s body in the months leading up to the record’s release, with a total of six of its song debuting between November 2020 and June of this year.  One of the most powerful of those singles is ‘My Hands Are Empty.’  This song will be discussed shortly.   ‘Rotten,’ which comes late in the album, is another notable addition to the record and will be discussed a little later.  ‘Choke On The Ashes Of Your Hate,’ which comes early in the record’s run, is yet another notable addition to the album and will also be examined later.  All three songs noted are key in their own way to the whole of this album’s presentation.  When they are considered along with the album’s other entries, the whole makes this record one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums.

Of Kingdom and Crown, the latest album from Machine Head, is easily among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.  There is no question about that.  That is made clear from the record’s beginning to its end in its musical and lyrical content alike.  One of the songs that does so well to make that clear is ‘My Hands Are Empty.’  While not recently considered the album’s lead single, it was, in hindsight, the first of the new songs that would end up on the album in its release way back in November 2020.  It should be noted here that while Matt Alston is currently handling drumming duties for the band, the drums in this song’s arrangement were handled by Navene Koperweis (Animals As Leaders, Whitechapel, Entheos).  The arrangement overall features a sound and stylistic approach that, as Flynn noted at the time of the single’s release, is comparable to works from the band’s 2003 album, Through The Ashes of Empires.  That is evidenced through Flynn’s distinct growling vocals and the richness created through the pairing of the guitar and bass alongside those pummeling drums.  The addition of the choral effect to the mix adds even more to that sense.

Lyrically speaking, Flynn explained that the song tackles the issue of opioid abuse.

“I have some family members who have beaten their opioid addiction, and have some still in the throes of addition,” Flynn said. “it is painful to watch, and I deal with it with great difficulty.  It is a song of sadness, but there is hope as well.  I have beaten my own drug addictions and we can fight through this together and share our pain with the world.”  The mention in the song’s chorus that “My hands are empty/Lies so pretty/Kill me gently” points directly to the emotional struggle.  It is an allusion to someone feeling left with nothing as a result of so many struggles.  In this case the struggles are with addiction, being at the bottom of that proverbial barrel.  The mention of powders and pills in the song’s second verse, along with watching someone slowly die is that direct reference to watching people Flynn knows struggling with addiction.  Seeing them “Disintegrate/You/Right before my eyes” and the emptiness haunting him makes that painful picture all the fuller.  That overall lyrical picture, along with the power and emotion in the song’s musical arrangement makes fully clear why this song stands out among the album’s singles.

‘My Hands Are Empty’ is just one of the songs that stands out in Machine Head’s new album.  ‘Rotten’ is another notable addition to the record.  Its musical arrangement immediately takes audiences back to the band’s debut 1994 album, Burn My Eyes.  The crunch of the guitars, and the pairing of the bass and drums really leads even more to that comparison.  Flynn himself is even quoted through Apple Music as saying the arrangement came about during the band’s recent tour in celebration of Burn My Eyes’ 25th anniversary while also making his own comparison to works from Exodus’ 1989 album, Fabulous Disaster.

Considering the fire in the song’s arrangement, it makes the song’s lyrical content all the more interesting.  That is because Flynn left interpretation of the song’s lyrical content to audiences.  The mention of sitting, holding the “gun in hand/Barrel to the temple” leads to the sense that this song is lyrically taking on the blend of anger and desperation that comes with such suicidal thoughts.  The anger comes as Flynn screams, “Everything is rotten to the core” in the song’s chorus.  His further mention of feeling such anxiety, “heart racing/My throat’s constricting” even more seems to hint at those mixed feelings.  If in fact, this is the picture that Flynn is trying to paint here, that of someone sitting there, feeling so much anger and sadness, anxiety and confusion all at once, then he has done quite well.  That is because mental health is such a prevalent matter, and that constantly deserves attention.  To that end, the overall picture painted through the song’s musical and lyrical content makes the whole here stand out just as much as ‘Empty Hands’ and the rest of the album’s offerings.

As much as ‘Rotten’ does to make Of Kingdom and Crown a powerful new offering from Machine Head, it is hardly the last of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Choke on the Ashes of Your Hate’ is yet another example of how much this record has to offer.  The musical arrangement featured in this song is, again, influenced by Exodus according to Flynn.  He compared the intensity of the song’s arrangement to that of works from Exodus’ debut 1985 album, Bonded by Blood.  Interestingly enough, that album’s title track (and much of the album) actually sounds more akin to early Metallica than Machine Head.  To that end one could argue that this song is just as much akin to early Metallica as early Exodus.  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion, too.

Lyrically, this song goes in a completely different direction from those of the other songs examined here.  Flynn said in an interview about the song, that it was influenced by the Japanese anime series, Attack on Titan.  He said the song is part of what is apparently a bigger semi-conceptual approach to this album that is based on that series and that the lead song focuses on two characters who both start out good but turn bad because of the bad things that happened personally to them.  It is an interesting concept of there really being that there is no real “good” or “bad” guy in stories or in life.  That concept, together with the song’s powerful musical arrangement, makes it stand on its own unique merits.  When it is considered along with the other songs examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall an unforgettable new offering from Machine Head that is among the best of the band’s albums to date.

Of Kingdom and Crown, the latest album from Machine Head, is an impressive return for the band, considering the stark departure that the band took on its predecessor, 2018’s Catharsis.  The album is a full-on return to form for Flynn and his current band mates.  That is evidenced through its musical and lyrical content alike.  The songs examined here each make that clear.  When they are considered along with the album’s other songs, the entirety of that body makes Of Kingdom and Crown one of Machine Head’s best albums to date and one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Of Kingdom and Crown is available now through Nuclear Blast Records. The band is scheduled to join Amon Amarth on the road this fall in Europe, with each band promoting its own new album.

The tour’s schedule is noted below.

SEPTEMBER
Thursday 8 – NOTTINGHAM, UK, Motorpoint Arena
Friday 9 – CARDIFF, UK, Motorpoint Arena
Saturday 10 – LONDON, UK, The SSE Arena, Wembley
Monday 12 – MANCHESTER, Uk AO Arena
Tuesday 13 – DUBLIN, Ireland, 3Arena
Friday 16 – ZURICH, Switzerland, Hallenstadion
Saturday 17 – VIENNA, Austria, Stadthalle
Sunday 18 – KRAKOW, Poland, Tauron Arena
Tuesday 20 – TALLINN, Estonia, Saku Arena
Wednesday 21 – HELSINKI, Finland, Ice Hall
Friday 23 – OSLO, Norway, Spektrum
Saturday 24 – STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Hovet
Monday 26 – COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Forum Black Box
Tuesday 27 – HAMBURG, Germany, Barclays Arena
Wednesday 28 – FRANKFURT, Germany, Festhalle
Friday 30 – OBERHAUSEN, Germany, König Pilsener Arena

OCTOBER
Saturday 01 – BERLIN, Germany Velodrome
Sunday 02 – AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, Afas Live
Tuesday 04 – MILAN, Italy, Lorenzini District
Thursday 06 – BARCELONA, Spain, Sant Jordi
Friday 07 – MADRID, Spain, Vistalegre
Saturday 08 – LA CORUNA, Spain, Coliseum
Sunday 09 – LISBON, Portugal, Campo Pequeno
Wednesday 12 – PARIS, France, Zenith
Friday 14 – MUNICH, Germany, Olympiahalle
Saturday 15 – LEIPZIG, Germany, Arena
Sunday 16 – PRAGUE, Czech Republic, Tipsport Arena
Tuesday 18 – BUDAPEST, Hungary, Barba Negra
Thursday 20 – ESCH SUR ALZETTE, Luxembourg, Rockhal
Friday 21 – BRUSSELS, Belgium, Forest National
Saturday 22 – STUTTGART, Germant, Schleyerhalle

More information on Machine Head’s new album and tour is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://www.machinehead1.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MachineHead

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MfnH

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

Wendy And DB Offer Audiences Of All Ages Lots To Like In Their Latest LP

Courtesy: Tigerlily Music

Family music entertainers Wendy and DB are scheduled to release their new album, Into The Little Blue House Sept. 23 through Tigerlily Music.  The 13-song record (its fifth) came Monday roughly two years after the release of the band’s then latest album, Hey Big World.  That record won the NAPPA Award, Mom’s Choice Award, and Creative Child Album of the Year.  The duo’s latest album is certain to generate its own share of acclaim, too.  That is due in part to its featured musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content makes for its own appeal and will be examined a little later.  The sequencing of that content brings everything full circle and rounds out the album’s most important elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make the album a welcome presentation for the whole family.

Into The Little Blue House, the latest studio recording from family music act Wendy and DB, is a presentation that continues the success of the pair’s existing catalog.  That is proven in part through its musical content.  The musical content that is presented here is a full-on blues work.  From the familiarity of 12-bar blues to a touch of some Chicago blues and even some more modern sounds, the record’s musical content offers audiences of all ages a wide range of blues styles.  Each is sure to engage and entertain audiences in its own way.  One of those more modern pieces comes in the form of ‘Peanut Butter Blues Jam.’  The use of the fiddle alongside the drums and organ kind of gives the arrangement something of a country blues approach a la the Allman Brothers Band.  The purer 12-bar blues approach that the pair takes comes early in the record’s run in its opener, ‘Little Blue House.’  ‘Please Go To Sleep,’ the album’s penultimate entry, offers a little bit more of that approach.  What’s really interesting here is the sense that said arrangement establishes when it pairs with the song’s lyrical theme of a parent just wishing his/her child would go to sleep.  Parents won’t be able to help but smile a little bit hearing the mom plead for her child to go to bed in his/her own bed.  Those cries of “Please, go to sleep” against the children saying they want to stay up are really funny and accessible for any parent. 

Getting back on the subject at hand, the album ‘Tie My Own Shoes’ offers audiences another variant of the blues with its light swing.  The arrangement here is something of a jazz/blues style composition that is just as certain to engage and entertain audiences.  On yet another note, the gospel-tinged blues of ‘Women of the Blues’ gives audiences even more variety.  When it is considered along with the other styles examined here and with those in the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the musical content featured in this record a strong starting point for the record.  It is just one part of what makes the album so enjoyable.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s diverse musical arrangements makes for even more engagement and entertainment.

The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements is important because of its own diversity.  From the album’s opener to its end, the record’s lyrical content focuses on topics ranging from the silly to the serious.  Right from the album’s outset, Wendy and DB take on the all too familiar topic of diversity and inclusion.  Wendy sings right from the song’s intro that there’s a “Welcome sign/at the door/All accepted/Come explore/A world built from love/Real as it seems/Just imagine/A place of your dreams/Roar like a lion/Whose friend is a mouse/All live together in the little blue house.”  The chorus adds, “Where love is planted/Love is grown.”  Without question, this small amount of content makes clear, this song indeed takes on the issue of diversity and acceptance.  The added note of people talking and listening to one another rather than fighting and learning to express feelings adds even more to that clear message.  In an age when this country has become so divided, this message is hugely needed and welcome in itself. It is just one of the many varied themes featured in the record’s body.  The pair also promotes women and their contributions to the world through the aptly titled ‘Women of the Blues.’

Wendy sings of the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Memphis Minnie, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe among so many other famous women of the blues in this song.  Tharpe gained fame through her take on her unique combination of electric sounds and gospel.  The hybrid approach brought her fame among fans of rock and roll and R&B alike.  while Memphis Minnie (a.k.a. Lizzie Douglas) really became a groundbreaker for women in the genre in general.  That is because she was really the first woman to start playing the blues during her lifetime and to break through in the process.  Koko Taylor is briefly mentioned as one of the groundbreaking women of the blues.  Taylor, often called the “Queen of the Blues” remains today one of the most revered figures in the blues, not just women of the blues.  That is because of the way in which she blended so many styles of blues to make her songs and make them so enjoyable in the process.  It is noted in the song that she and the others noted here (along with others) have paved the way for women in what was for decades a largely male-dominated world.  So in essence, this song is not just about women in the blues, but about promoting gender equality in general.  That deeper theme is such that adults will appreciate it, too.

The theme of parents wanting to get their kids to sleep (that eternal struggle) is also approached in this album late in its run in the also aptly titled ‘Please Go To Sleep.’  Every parent will relate to this song’s theme.  That is because every parent has fought that proverbial battle of wanting his or her child(ren) to get some much-needed sleep so that they themselves can sleep.  The way that the mom basically pleads with the children to sleep in their own bed while the kids say they want to stay up all night is certain to bring plenty of laughter.  When it and the other themes examined here are considered with those in the rest of the album’s entries, the over all lyrical content in this record makes for even more reason for audiences to hear the album.

The sequencing of the album’s content puts the finishing touch to its presentation and is also worth examining.  The sequencing is important because it keeps the record’s energy flowing from one arrangement to the next while also ensuring the diversity in the record’s content changes constantly throughout.  The result of the attention paid to the sequencing is that it keeps audiences just as engaged and entertained throughout as the content itself, because of the positive general effect crafted through said presentation.  When it is considered along with the album’s overall content, the whole makes the record a complete success.

Into The Little Blue House, the new album from family music act Wendy and DB is an impressive new offering from the duo.  The record’s success comes in part through the album’s musical content.  That content is important because it takes on the various sub-genres of the blues throughout its body.  That in itself creates plenty of engagement and entertainment.  The lyrical themes featured alongside the album’s musical content makes for its own engagement and entertainment.  That is because it is just as diverse as said content.  The sequencing of that content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  That is because of its impact of the album’s general effect.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered they make the album one more of the year’s top new family music albums.

Into the Little Blue House is scheduled for release Sept. 23 through Tigerlily Music.  More information on the album is available along with the duo’s latest news at:

Website: https://wendyanddb.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vocalgymnasium

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

Grave Digger Just Made This Year’s Top New Hard Rock/Metal Albums Field More Crowded With Its New Album

Courtesy: Rock of Angels Records

Veteran hard rock band Grave Digger is set to return Friday with its latest album, Symbol of Eternity.  The band’s 21st (yes, 21st) album, it is an impressive new offering from the band.  The record’s appeal comes in part through its general approach, which will be discussed shortly.  The album’s musical content makes for its own appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the overall presentation of Symbol of Eternity.  All things considered they make the album one more of this year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Symbol of Eternity, the latest album from Grave Digger, is another successful studio offering from the veteran hard rock outfit.  Coming more than two years after the release of its then latest album, Fields of Blood, the band’s latest album succeeds in part through its general presentation (IE its overarching lyrical theme).  In this case, the album’s presentation focuses on the famous (and infamous) Knights Templar and their journeys in the Crusades in the Middle East.  ‘Saladin’ for instance, focuses on the legendary Muslim leader who led Muslim forces against the Knights Templar in the Third Crusade.  The crusade in question saw European leaders send their forces to the Middle East to try to conquer Jerusalem.  While Jerusalem was not conquered, European forces did take the cities of Acre and Jaffa. 

‘Symbol of Eternity’ takes on another topic, this time that of the legendary Holy Grail.  This is inferred by the mention of Christ’s crucifixion and the item in question allegedly being hidden somewhere in a cave.  There is even a seeming veiled reference to Judas what with the mention of someone selling their soul and becoming the symbol of eternity.  Everyone knows the story of how Judas allegedly betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  That would seem to be the reference here, so again, this is a story tied directly into the overarching theme of the Crusades, since the Knights Templar’s crusades were in fact all based in European religious fervor.

‘The Last Crusade,’ which comes late in the album’s run, continues the overarching lyrical theme as it seems to focus on Lord Edward’s Crusade, which was the last of the crusades.  Led by Edward, Duke of Gascony, the crusade saw European forces fight the Baibars.  The battles were, essentially a stalemate, with neither side ever actually gaining an upper hand.  It led the European forces to eventually withdraw and return to Europe.  This is just one more example of how the album’s overarching approach (its lyrical theme) makes the album so engaging and entertaining.  When these songs and the album’s other entries are considered together, the whole of that content forms a solid foundation for the album and gives listeners reason enough to hear the album.

Symbol of Eternity is hardly the first time that Grave Digger has ever taken the approach of using one central theme for its records.  Fields of Blood and many of its predecessors focus on the history of the Scots and their military.  What’s more, this is hardly the first time the band has ever focused on the matter of the Knight’s Templar, too.  The band also focused on that topic on its 1998 album, Knights of the Cross.  Even knowing all of this, the album’s overarching lyrical content (its general approach) still makes for appeal in its own right.  That foundation is strengthened by the album’s musical content.

The musical content that accompanies the album’s lyrical content is important to the record’s presentation because of how it once again blends heavy influences alongside more power metal influences.  Throughout the course of the record, audiences can make comparisons to works from Judas Priest and even to Rainbow within some of the songs.  At other points, some of the songs exhibit one or the other influence in themselves, while still establishing identities in and of themselves.  The result therein is an overall musical approach that is just as engaging and entertaining as the album’s lyrical approach.

As much as the album’s overall content is to its presentation, it is just part of what makes the album worth hearing.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements.  The record’s production is important to note because of its role in the album’s general effect.  The instrumentation in each song creates so much richness.  That richness is the result of the production, which balances each instrument expertly overall.  Each instrument compliments the others in its own way.  The result is a presentation that from start to finish, shines just as much for its production as for its content.  When all of this is considered together, the album overall makes itself one more of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Symbol of Eternity, the latest album from Grave Digger, is another strong new offering from the veteran hard rock outfit.  The album succeeds in part through its general lyrical approach.  The album’s overall lyrical content once more focuses on the matter of the Knights Templar and the Crusades.  The songs are each their own works, so it is not a concept record, but close enough.  That in itself is a win.  The musical content that accompanies the album’s lyrical content is of note because it is so familiar while still being original in its own right in comparison to the works that the band has crafted throughout its catalog.  The production of those arrangements puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation, ensuring the best is brought out in each work.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered they make Symbol of Eternity more proof of why Grave Digger remains today, one of the hard rock community’s most respected acts.  What’s more, they show why the band’s new album is among the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

Symbol of Eternity is scheduled for release Friday through Rock of Angels Records (ROAR). More information on the album is available along with all of Grave Digger’s latest news at:

Websitehttp://www.grave-digger-clan/de

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/gravediggerofficial

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/GRAVEDIGGERclan

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

‘Tiger Tail’ Is A Mostly Positive Start For Evan Drybread’s Career

Courtesy: Jazz Promo Services

This past May, Evan Drybread (yes, that really is his name) released his new album, Tiger Tail independently.  The jazz saxophonist’s eight-song record is a mostly successful offering that listeners will find worth hearing in part because of its featured arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  While the musical content that makes up the record’s body is important to its presentation, the lack of any background on the songs in the packaging detracts from the album to a point.  This will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Tiger Tail becomes another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Tiger Tail, the new album from Evan Drybread, is an engaging and enjoyable new offering from the young jazz saxophonist.  The 41-minute record’s appeal comes in large part through its featured musical arrangements.  From one to the next, the arrangements offer a respectable amount of diversity.  The record opens with a smooth swinging bop type composition.  That is exemplified through the chord changes and the occasional chromatic approaches to the runs that Drybread presents.  Trumpeter Mark Buselli’s solo here also adds to that sense of bop, what with the complexity of his run. 

‘High Priestess,’ which immediately follows, is completely unlike its predecessor, showing that diversity a little more.  The use of what sounds like a soprano saxophone against the drums, an electric bass, and keyboards gives the song a distinct modern fusion approach a la Herbie Hancock.  That funky, driving arrangement, what with its complex polyrhythmic patterns played by drummer Kenny Phelps and the saxophone work by Drybread alongside the noted work on the bass and keyboard makes the song so immersive and unique.  It is another wonderful, unique addition to the album that displays the diversity in the album’s musical content. 

Later in the album’s run, Drybread changes things up quite notably again in ‘Atlantic Mirror.’  The song is a simple composition that features Drybread on the soprano saxophone alongside Christopher Pitts on piano.  At times, Drybread’s performance lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Kenny G. However, the addition of Pitts’ performance gives the opus its own identity; an identity that is so immersive throughout and that will keep listeners fully engaged from beginning to end.  It is yet another example of what makes the album’s musical content so important to its presentation.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the likes of the Afro-Cuban-tinged ‘The Downey Wives,’ the uber funky Woodruff Place Town Hall,’ the classically tinged closer that is ‘Waltse’ and the record’s two remaining songs, the diversity in the arrangements becomes fully clear.  That clarity makes clear why the record’s overall musical content is so important to its presentation.  It forms a strong foundation for the album’s presentation.

While the musical content that makes up Tiger Tail’s body is unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, the lack of any background on the songs anywhere in the packaging weakens that foundation to a point.  The background on the songs was provided to the media through a press release about the album’s release, but that only goes so far.  If in fact the consumer copies of the album do not contain any background information then yes, that definitely detracts from the enjoyment.  That is because (as this critic has noted so many times), instrumental music needs some point of reference, that starting point.  Not having it only allows for a surface level appreciation for said music.  To that end, the apparent lack of any background on the songs anywhere in the packaging is not enough to make the album a failure, but at the same time, it certainly did not help the record’s presentation, either.

Knowing that the lack of any background on the songs is not enough to doom Drybread’s new album, there is still one more positive to note.  That positive is the record’s production.  As already noted, the arrangements that make up the album’s body are diverse throughout the album.  That means that a special amount of attention had to have been paid to each composition.  That attention was meant to ensure each song’s best general effect paid off in each work.  From the more subtle tones of ‘The Queen of Cups’ to the more upbeat vibe of ‘Tiger Tail’ to the relaxed vibes of ‘The Downey Wives’ and more, the record’s production brings out the best of each composition.  The result is a positive general effect throughout the record that shows the time and effort that went into the production paid off in each work.  The result is that the production proves just as pivotal to the album as the songs themselves.  When the positive of the production is considered along with that of the songs’ diversity, the pairing gives audiences plenty of reason to take in this record at least occasionally.

Tiger Tail, the new album from Evan Drybread, is an interesting presentation that every jazz fan will find worth hearing.  That is due in large part to its featured arrangements.  The arrangements are diverse throughout, giving listeners reason in itself to hear the album.  The lack of background on the songs in the packaging detracts from the overall listening experience but is not enough to make the album a failure.  The record’s production works with its songs to rounds out its most important elements and makes the album’s general effect positive in its own right.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered they make Tiger Tail another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Tiger Tail is available now.  More information on the album is available online at https://evandrybread.com.

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