Black Coffee Debuts ‘I Barely Know Her’ Video

Stoner rock fans have another new band to check out.

Black Coffee released its debut album Take One last month — April 21 to be exact — and now in celebration of its release, the band released the video this week for the album’s lead single, ‘I Barely Know Her.’  Shot at the Johnstown Opera House in Johnstown Ohio — only about 30 to 40 minutes from the band’s home town of Columbus, Ohio (depending on the route and traffic) — the video was directed and produced by John Payne of Payne Productions.

Courtesy: TAG Publicity

Payne’s treatment gave the video a decidedly grainy look, almost like the look one might get from an 8mm camera.  That was meant to go along with the clear classic stoner sound that the band generated in its composition.  Speaking of the composition, its sound is such that it will appeal easily to fans of Zodiac, Horisont, and to a slightly lesser degree, Black Stone Cherry among other similar acts.  The can be downloaded now via iTunes.

Even more interesting in this composition is the sound of front man/bassist Ehab Omran’s vocals.  Listening to Omran sing without hearing him, one might find one’s self making comparisons to the late great Chris Cornell or to BSC front man Chris Robertson, adding even more interest to the song.  Drummer Tony McCullough’s secondary vocals, when joined with Omran’s create some very nice harmonies here, too.

More information on ‘I Barely Know Her‘ is available online now along with all of Black Coffee’s latest news and more at

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Veteran Rock Acts Tops Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rock Albums List

Courtesy: Santana IV Records

Courtesy: Santana IV Records

The rock community, it seems, was bursting at the seams with new releases this year.  While some records were okay at best, there were just as many that proved to be truly outstanding efforts.  Needless to say there were so many of said albums that it was anything but easy to come up with a list of the year’s top new rock records.  But somehow, Phil’s Picks managed it.  That list includes new efforts from bands young and old alike.  The more experienced bands featured on this list include: Santana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Foghat just to name a few.  The younger bands represented here include the likes of Buffalo Summer, Love and a .38, and Zodiac.  Whether veteran or next generation, the rock community produced a slew of outstanding records this year.

Phil’s Picks presents 15 of those records with its Top 10 picks and five honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is the Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 New Rock Albums.




  1. SantanaIV


  1. FoghatUnder The Influence


  1. The Dead DaisiesMake Some Noise


  1. Love and a .38Nomad


  1. Buffalo SummerSecond Sun


  1. Alter BridgeThe Last Hero


  1. ZodiacGrain of Soul


  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway


  1. Blackberry SmokeLike An Arrow


  1. Resurrection KingsResurrection Kings


  1. SkilletUnleashed


  1. Apollo Under FireApollo Under Fire


  1. Fates WarningTheory of Flight


  1. Ray RocketDo You Wanna Go To Tijuana


  1. Candlebox Disappearing in Airports




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Music’s Past, Present, And Future Come Together In 2015’s Best New Live CDs List

Going to see live shows is anything but cheap. Anyone that has ever been to one will attest to that. Regardless of whether the show is close by or a long drive, it seems going to see shows nowadays is anything but cheap. Not to mention it’s not always easy because of time constraints. Weekday and weeknight shows are anything but easy just because of scheduling regardless of whether or not one has a family. So that leaves the question what is one to do in place of going to see a show? The answer: Pick up one’s favorite live recording on CD or DVD/Blu-ray. Both formats offer their own pros and cons. And in many cases, what is available on CD might not necessarily be available on DVD/Blu-ray or vice versa. That leads to the need for a list both for the year’s best new live CDs and new live DVDs/BDs. For the sake of this list the attention will go to the year’s best new live CDs. This year’s list includes a number of live CDs that were not accompanied by live DVDs and Blu-rays. Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck’s new live CD Live + is one of those that only received the CD treatment. It topped this year’s list. Saxon’s The Saxon Chronicles is another live CD that didn’t get the companion DVD/BD treatment. It’s on the list, too as is Birth of Joy’s Live at UBU, Jimi Hendrix’s Atlanta Pop Festival performance, and Zodiac’s The Road Tapes Volume 1. In other cases such as The Rolling Stones’ “From The Vault” recordings, audiences were lucky enough to get the recordings in complete packages. The same applies with Whitechapel’s Brotherhood of the Blade. These are just some of the titles that made the cut for this year’s list of the year’s best new live CD recordings. This was by no means an easy list to assemble. So no offense is meant against any recording that was left off the list. Set lists had to be taken into account as well as production values and also the acts’ stage presence. Taking all of that into account the following is the final list. Without any further ado I offer to you, dear readers, 2015’s Top New Live CDs.

















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Rubikon’s Third Album Was Well Worth The Rather Long Wait

Courtesy:  Round Hill Records

Courtesy: Round Hill Records

Roughly eleven years have passed since the up-and-coming blues/rock band Rubikon released its debut album The Hollow Men. Being that so much time has passed since that album was released fans couldn’t help but figure that the band would just be another that tried its hand only to fold soon after. However recently announced that it has in fact not gone away. As a matter of fact, it will release its third full-length studio recording Delta next month. The album, which will be released via independent record label Round Hill Records, boasts nine tracks of blues-based rock that will impress fans of Clutch, Deep Purple, COC, and even Zodiac to a slightly lesser degree. While the album boasts only nine tracks and comes in at a grand total of thirty-seven minutes, that does not take away anything from the whole of the record. Speaking of the whole of the record, the record is anchored by the full-on blues rock opus ‘Sermon.’ The song starts out slowly in its first few bars before really launching full force into a rather heavy piece that fans of both Clutch and COC will enjoy. The album’s opener ‘Live That Lie’ is another solid addition to this record. As is noted of the song, it is a work that is centered on the personal journey of the band’s members. Its heavy, blues-infused musical backing adds even more enjoyment to the song in whole. For all of the heaviness displayed throughout this record it isn’t without its softer side as is evident in the more reserved sound of ‘Wasting Time.’ This song starts off softly enough. But it doesn’t take long for the song to pick up even if only slightly in comparison to the album’s other songs. It’s just one more example of how worth the wait Delta proves itself to be . That is not to ignore the album’s other tracks. All nine of the tracks that make up Delta’s body each show in their own respective way what made the wait for this record worth it. All things considered Delta proves in the end to be a piece that any blues/rock aficionado will appreciate regardless of their familiarity with the band’s body of work.

Rubikon’s upcoming album Delta is only the third full-length recording that the band has crafted since forming in its nearly fourteen years together. Roughly eleven years have passed since the band released its debut album The Hollow Men. This new record proves quite well over the course of its nine tracks and thirty-seven total minutes that the decade-plus wait for this album was well worth it. That is most clearly evident in the album’s anchor ‘Sermon.’ The song’s bluesy/southern sludge rock sound instantly grabs listeners by the ear and refuses to let go. That is especially thanks to the transition of its slow, bluesy opening bars to the much harder, heavier riffs that make up the body of the song. The overall content presented in the body of this song in itself makes for plenty of enjoyment. The lyrical content incorporated into the song gives it even more enjoyment. Drummer/vocalist Diggs sings in this song, “I’m already dead/So long gone away/Lay my body down/Old-fashioned way/Old heart won’t last a day/Tryin’ to get back home/Sit here in them clouds/Watch over me.” Listening to this single opening verse, listeners would swear that they were hearing Clutch front man Neil Fallon singing instead of Rubikon’s drummer/vocalist Diggs. The similarity in the pair’s vocal delivery styles is striking. The similarity is just as striking as the song progresses through its near six-minute run time. That powerhouse delivery coupled with the song’s outstanding guitar work makes this song a solid anchor on which Delta can rest and a work that every listener will enjoy.

‘Sermon’ is a solid anchor for Rubikon’s new album. Drummer/vocalist Diggs’ delivery style partnered with the song’s musical content makes it a song that rivals anything ever crafted by the likes of Clutch or COC. It is just one example of what has made the decade-plus wait for Delta worth it. The album’s lead track ‘Live That Lie’ is just as solid an example of what makes the record so impressive. This mid-tempo rocker wastes no time grabbing listeners by the ear and holding tight. According to the band, the song is meant to be a commentary on the personal journey of the band’s members from who they were before to who they have become now. The song’s musical makeup does an impressive job of expressing that message. The contrast of the fiery energy exuded through most of the song to the more reserved sound of the song’s bridge, which comes nearly three minutes in, exemplifies that. That is of course not to ignore the song’s lyrical content. Diggs sings, “Well I’ve been knocked down in chains and lied to/That’s what you get when you don’t play the game/When I step out of line/You’ll follow.” These few lines in themselves paint a clear picture in regards to the comments of the song’s basis. The same can be said of the rest of the song’s lyrical content. What is present here is just a glimpse into the lyrical content’s ability to translate the song’s message. That content set alongside the song’s musical content makes this song an even more solid addition to this record and even more proof of why Delta was worth the wait both for the band’s long-time fans and for those that are less familiar with Rubikon’s body of work.

‘Sermon’ and ‘Live That Lie’ are both clear examples in their own right of why Delta was well worth the wait regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Rubikon’s body of work. While both songs exhibit in their own right plenty of enjoyment, they are hardly the only examples of what makes it so enjoyable. The band shows that for all of the heaviness and power exhibited, it also has a softer side of sorts, too. That is exhibited in the form of the slightly more reserved ‘Wasting Time.’ The song starts off as a fully acoustic piece that is just as certain to hold listeners’ ears as the album’s heavier material. Even at its highest points it still doesn’t get anywhere near as heavy as any of the record’s other songs. That is only one part of what makes this song so enjoyable, too. The manner in which the song’s lyrical content was handled adds even more enjoyment to the song. Because the vocal delivery style here is just as reserved as the music itself, it requires just as close of a listen. What can be deciphered from such an examination is that there is a lot of introspection here. The delivery style is a perfect match for that introspection, too just as with the song’s musical content. All three of the song’s elements connected, they show clearly why this song is just as key to Delta’s enjoyment as ‘Sermon,’ ‘Live That Lie’ and the rest of the album’s songs. All things considered Delta proves that while it was more than ten years in the works, it is an album that was well worth the wait whether or not fans are familiar with the band’s body of work.

Rubikon’s third full-length LP has been more than ten years in the making. Considering how long the wait has been for this record, it has proven with its nine tracks and thirty-seven minutes that the wait was well worth it. Whether for ‘Sermon,’ ‘Live That Lie,’ ‘Wasting Time,’ or any of the remaining half-dozen tracks that make up the body of the album, every element–both musical and lyrical–of this record proves itself important to the whole of the album. All things considered, Delta proves in the end to be an album that is a potential candidate for this year’s list of the best new independent recordings and best new rock records. It will be available Friday, August 21st via Round Hill Records. More information on Delta is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news at:



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Zodiac’s Road Tapes Volume I Is A Solid Debut Live Recording

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Summertime is here.  Okay, meteorological summer doesn’t officially start until later this month.  But don’t tell that to all of the music acts out there that have already hit the road and that are getting ready to hit the road once again.  Whether one be a fan of pop, country, rock or even EDM, this time of year brings lots of options for audiences.  While audiences do in fact have plenty of options when it comes to the annual live summer concert season, there are also just as many shows that audiences won’t get to see whether for reasons of finance or simply because of said acts’ tour schedules.  So what is one to do when going to a given concert isn’t an option regardless of whether for financial reasons or that of an act’s scheduling?  Answer:  Go pick up the act’s latest live recording.  There are just as many options for audiences when it comes to live recordings as there are actual live concerts.  The options offered this year are just as many as in any year in recent history.  So that leads back to the annual question of which show or shows to take in.  This critic has another new choice for audiences right now.  That choice is Zodiac’s new live digital release Road Tapes Volume I.  This recording is one of 2015’s top new live audio-only recordings.  In other words, if it were to be released on CD, it would be one of this critic’s top new live CD-specific recordings.  As with any live recording, it proves this first and foremost in its set list.  The set list, which clocks in at just under the ninety-minute mark, is a solid representation of the band’s current catalogue.  The recording’s audio mix is just as solid as its set list.  Not once do audiences have to adjust the volume on their MP3 player or radio (for those that burn the recording to CD) in the recording’s seventy-four minute run time.  Last but hardly least noting is the band’s stage presence.  The band doesn’t waste much time in between songs.  Rather it spends most of its time and energy letting the music do the talking.  Even doing so, the performance presented here exhibits a band that is currently at the top of its game.  Audiences that download this recording will agree with that sentiment.  They will also agree that taking into consideration that when coupled with its set list and audio mix, the band’s stage presence translated through its performance rounds out the reasons that Road Tapes Volume I has made this critic’s list of the year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings.

Zodiac’s new live recording Road Tapes Volume I is one of this year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings.  The main way in which it shows itself deserving of a spot on that list is the recording’s set list.  The ten song, seventy-four minute recording is a solid representation of the band’s current catalogue.  All three of the band’s current albums are well represented here with Hiding Place being represented three times over with ‘Free,’ ‘Moonshine,’ and ‘Cortez The Killer.’  Sonic Child, the band’s most recent release is represented via ‘Swinging on the Run,’ ‘Holding On,’ ‘Rock Bottom Blues,’ and ‘A Penny and A Dead Horse.’  A Bit of Devil, the band’s 2012 Prosthetic Records debut release, is represented by ”Diamond Shoes,’ ‘Coming Home,’ and its title track.  That is, again, a relatively healthy sampling of the band’s work.  Such a healthy sampling of the band’s sound means that audiences that perhaps might not be so familiar with Zodiac’s body of work get a clear introduction to the band and its sound here.  The sequencing of the set’s songs makes the songs even more important to the whole of the recording.  From beginning to end, the band consistently balances its more up-tempo pieces expertly with its slower numbers.  The end result is a near ninety-minute set that will keep audiences completely entertained from beginning to end with every listen.  Being that it can so easily keep audiences engaged and that it represents the band’s body of work so well, Road Tapes Volume I’s set list shows within itself plenty of reason for audiences to download this recording regardless of their familiarity with Zodiac and its body of work.  It’s just one reason that audiences will want to download it, too.  The recording’s audio mix makes it just as enjoyable.

The work of those manning the audio boards for the concert presented in Road Tapes Volume I is just as notable as the set list that makes up the body of the recording.  At no one point does any one member of the band overpower the other.  This includes the balance of front man Nick van Delft’s vocal talents with those of his band mates and that of his band mates with one another.  The audio levels are so well balanced that van Delft’s vocals cut through like a knife from the concert’s opener to its final number.  That is a tribute to the person(s) charged with working the mics for the concert.  Believe it or not there are still audio engineers out there that struggle with that balance to this day.  That wasn’t the case with the work of this recording’s engineer(s).  It’s just one part of the way that the audio mix presented in this recording makes it so enjoyable.  The balance of the audio within the band’s performance to its rather short interludes is just as impressive.  Even though audiences do find themselves having to adjust the levels in these moments, those adjustments are minute at best.  Yet again that is a tribute to the work of the person(s) behind the boards for the recording.  Speaking of the band’s interludes they are very short to say the least.  This means again that any volume adjustments that audiences have to make are minor at worst.  It also means that the band doesn’t waste much time between songs.  Instead it lets the music do the talking and in turn present its stage presence.  That presence is the final aspect of Road Tapes Volume I that makes it so enjoyable.

Zodiac’s stage presence is the final element of its new live recording that makes it such an enjoyable listen.  The band’s stage presence is especially worth the note because it doesn’t waste any time either between songs or even within the course of its performance.  Its stage presence is defined largely by the performance of its songs.  The band’s performance is a direct throwback to the veteran jam bands that remain the foundation of the rock community to this day.  That is exhibited by the extended jam session-esque moments. The band is fully focused throughout those moments and through the rest of each song, too. That focus leads to a performance by the band that in whole will keep listeners completely engaged from start to finish within each song and from song to song. Simply put, the fact that the band’s presence can be so well-defined by its performance rather than by other elements is a tribute to the band and its talent. It shows that a band doesn’t need all the extras that so many acts use to maintain a solid presence and in turn entertain audiences. All it needs is a love for its craft and for its fans, and of course a certain level of talent. Luckily both for Zodiac and its fans, Zodiac displays every one of those elements in this recording making for one more positive to a recording that is again easily deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings.

Zodiac’s new live recording Road Tapes Volume I is one of this year’s best new live audio-only/CD recordings. It uses a handful of evidence to prove this. That includes its extensive set list, its solid audio mix and the band’s very stage presence. Each element shows on its own just what makes Road Tapes Volume I such a worthwhile listen regardless of audiences’ familiarity with Zodiac and its body of work. Collectively they show why this recording is a solid first effort from the band in regards to live recordings and why it is also one of this year’s nest new live audio-only/CD recordings. It can be downloaded now digitally via iTunes at and via Amazon at It is also available in a very limited number of physical copies online via Zodiac’s online store at More information on this latest release from Zodiac is available online now along with the band’s latest tour updates and news at:



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Alpha Tiger Leading The Pack Early With Its Latest Full-Length LP

Courtesy:  Steamhammer/SPV

Courtesy: Steamhammer/SPV

2014 was a great year for the worlds of rock and metal acts. Major names the likes of Exodus, Machine Head, Judas Priest, and Black Label Society all released new albums alongside a number of equally impressive up-and-coming bands the likes of The Amsterdam Red Light District, Zodiac, Royal Blood, and others. Now with 2015 not even a full month old, this still very young year is already looking just as good for the metal masses the world over. One sign of this is the upcoming new release from Germany’s own Alpha Tiger. Alpha Tiger will release its new album iDentity in the United States next Tuesday, January 20th. The album, the band’s third is a solid follow-up to the band’s 2011 debut Man or Machine and its followup, Beneath The Surface. The band wastes no time re-introducing itself to audiences on its new album. The band launches into things right off the top in the full throttle, socially conscious ‘Lady Liberty.’ The song is a commentary of sorts on the current state of things in America. On the other end of the spectrum, the band offers an uplifting piece in the positively-charged ‘Closer Than Yesterday.’ The album’s lead single ‘We Won’t Take It Anymore’ is just as powerful a song with its driving guitar riffs and powerhouse vocals from front man Stephan Dietrich. It is another very socially conscious piece that is sure to become a fan favorite if it isn’t already. It, along with the other noted songs are just one part of the whole that makes iDentity a great start to 2015 for the metal masses. The other tracks not noted here each play their own part in iDentity’s enjoyment. Together with the compositions noted here, all ten tracks that make up Alpha Tiger’s new album prove it to be a solid new album and a good start to 2015 for the metal masses.

Alpha Tiger’s upcoming new album iDentity is the band’s third full-length record in four years. Usually when an act releases so many albums in such a short amount of time, it can prove to be a bad thing. It can prove to be bad because in many cases there is a noticeable decline in the quality of said acts’ material. Said albums feel rushed for lack of better wording. In other cases, putting out albums so quickly also means that audiences can actually grow weary of said acts. This applies both to the bigger names in the music world and even to those signed to independent labels. In the case of iDentity, Alpha Tiger hasn’t suffered from any of those issues. The band impresses right off the top in its socially-charged opener ‘Lady Liberty.’ The very first thing that audiences will note in this song is the obvious influences from the likes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest on its musical side. The dual guitar attack of Peter Langforth and Alexander Backasch coupled with drummer David Schleif’s solid timekeeping and [Stephan] Dietrich’s vocal talents will easily fool audiences. Anyone hearing this song and not knowing it was Alpha Tiger would instantly think they were hearing either of the aforementioned greats. Lyrically speaking, it is just as much a solid opener with it’s seeming commentary on the current state of America. The seeming message in question comes across as Dietrich sings with obvious sarcasm in his voice, “Come on over hear the news/the day has come/Now we are free to choose/I Choose the path that’s best for me/Thank God to live the American dream.” The message is made even clearer later in the song as Dietrich sings, “I’m free to shoot a stranger down/I claim my right, He trod my ground/I’ll raise the flag of liberty/The lady on her hill will shine down on me.” It is only this critic’s own interpretation, but the line “I’m free to shoot a stranger down/I claim my right, He trod my ground” seems to make reference to the Treyvon Martin case and others like it. Regardless of the intended reference, such lyrics make for quite the indictment of a nation in whole. And they are sure to make quite the discussion. That discussion itself makes ‘Lady Liberty’ the perfect choice to open iDentity. The song’s musical backing makes even clearer why this song was chosen to open the album.

‘Lady Liberty’ was the perfect choice to open Alpha Tiger’s latest full-length release. It instantly grabs listeners by the ear with its fire and energy and refuses to let go. It boasts a lot of fire and energy both musically and lyrically. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Alpha Tiger offers a different kind of fire and energy in the uplifting Closer Than Yesterday.’ This song is the polar opposite of ‘Lady Liberty.’ But it is no less powerful. This song offers a welcome ray of hope to anyone going through a rough time both musically and lyrically. The song opens with a solid, driving piano riff that eventually builds into a full on arena-style song, musically speaking complete with huge guitar lick. One could almost argue something of a Bon Jovi influence to this song when one really sits down and listens to it for its musical side. That’s not an entirely bad thing, either. Now are the song’s equally uplifting lyrics. Dietrich sings in this song, “So don’t say you try/Just say you will/There is enough you left behind/It’s time to live!” The control in his voice as he sings these lyrics is something special. That control and gentility in his voice as he sings is like getting a musical pat on the back, reminding listeners that as tough as life gets, everything will be okay. He even goes so far as to sing, “I will step into the great unknown/Where dreams are made to become real/Yes I know it’s still a long way to go/But I’m closer than yesterday.” He comes across as saying that we must embrace the uncertainties in life without fear. We must embrace it because with each step forward we are “closer than yesterday” to defeating those uncertainties that cloud our minds. It is quite the positive reminder to audiences of all ages. That it can reach audiences of so many ages makes it even more powerful and in turn one more way in which iDentity works so well.

Both ‘Lady Liberty’ and ‘Closer Than Yesterday’ show why iDentity is a solid new effort from Aplha Tiger. Both songs are key examples of what makes the album so enjoyable because of the power both in their music and lyrics. The album’s lead single ‘We Won’t Take It Anymore’ boasts much the same energy and fire in its music and lyrics, too. And as with those songs, it too exhibits an obvious influence from the great veteran metal acts that have come before in its examining its musical side. Looking at the song from a lyrical vantage point, there is just as much fire as Dietrich sings “You call us hopeless generation/’Cause we won’t play by your rules/Or it’s because you can’t control us/Like your money hungry fools.” The pure defiant and infectious energy exuded by the band here will have the song resonating in listeners’ heads long after the song has ended. This is proven even more as Dietrich sings, “We won’t take it/Take it anymore/’Cause we are sick of it all/We won’t take it/Take it anymore/We’ve had it up to here.” It’s one more strong statement from Alpha Tiger that is sure to have listeners singing along proudly, pumping their fists in the air. If such striking lyrics and powerful music haven’t already made this single a hit among the band’s European fans, it won’t be long before it is. And when iDentity is released in the U.S., audiences will agree with that sentiment. They will agree with the sentiment regarding not only this song but the others mentioned here and those not noted. In hearing all of the songs that make up iDentity American audiences will discover what the band’s European fans already know–Alpha Tiger is one of the leaders of the rock world’s pack this year.

iDentity is scheduled to be released in the United States next Tuesday, January 20th. It has already been released overseas. And the band is currently on tour in Europe in support of its new album. Audiences around the world can find out the band’s latest tour updates and news online now at:



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Zodiac’s “Sonic Child” Is Another One Of 2014’s Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Pure Rock Records

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records/Napalm Records

When Prosthetic Records added Zodiac to its roster two years ago, it went without saying that doing so was something of a gamble for the label.  It was such a gamble because much like Century Media, Metal Blade, Roadrunner, and others, Prosthetic is known more for the “extreme metal” bands that make up its roster than for the likes of the Munster, Germany-based band.  That’s not to say that Prosthetic sticks primarily to that more extreme sound.  Acts such as Niacin and Felix Martin both stand out among Prosthetic’s other acts.  Zodiac however has become the label’s most commercially viable band since Lamb of God was signed on with the company.  Zodiac’s mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock has helped the band to stand out among its label mates ever since the release of its 2012 Prosthetic Records debut A Bit of Devil.  Now with its third full-length studio effort, Zodiac has one again set itself apart from its label mates and grown just as much musically.  From the slow blues-based opener ‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ to the more up-tempo neo stoner rocker that is ‘Holding On’ to the equally catchy closer ‘Swinging on the Run,’ this record proves to have not one bad moment.  It proves to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records and one that any rock purist should hear at least once.

Sonc Child, Zodiac’s third full-length studio effort, is by and large the band’s best work to date.  With its mix of blues-based and neo-stoner rock sounds, this record proves to be one that every rock purist should hear at least once.  Right off the top, the band grabs listeners without really trying in the album’s opener ‘A Penny and a Dead Horse.’  The twelve-bar blues churned out in the song’s “A” section conjures thoughts of Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, and so many of the forefathers of the blues.  Anyone that is a fan of Fireball Ministry, Black Stone Cherry, and other bands of that ilk will enjoy the more straight forward neo-stoner rock sound of the song’s “B” and “C” sections.  Lyrically, the song is just as enjoyable.  Vocalist Nick van Delft sings about an unnamed woman that has left a man, and left him with basically nothing.  Thus the song’s title.  van Delft sings of the woman, “Oh, woman/Where have you gone with that/Pot of gold/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/You had to leave me/Before the break of dawn/Somebody been haunting you/Somebody run you down/Over the yonder/Beyond the fields/Someone call your name/Oh, woman/Where have you gone/Sweet darlin’/You left me to die alone/With a penny and a dead horse.”  van Delft paints such a vivid picture thanks to the way in which he sings these lines.  The gradual tempo increase as the song progresses makes that picture just as vivid.  The picture goes from a man sitting alone in the darkness, perhaps drinking from a bottle of cheap whiskey to someone who feels something stronger as he and his band mates sing, “So long, so long” in the chorus.  The song’s final strains exhibit perhaps the man’s collapse.  This is of course just this critic’s own interpretation on the song.  Audiences can check out the song’s official video online now at the Prosthetic Records website at  While there, audiences can also order Sonic Child, which was just recently released at the end of September.

‘A Penny & A Dead Horse’ is a wonderful addition to Sonic Child. It is also just one excellent example of what makes this album such a surprisingly enjoyable record.  ‘Holding On’ is another solid example of why this record proves to be such a surprisingly enjoyable rock record.  Where the album’s opener almost tells its own story, ‘Holding On’ is more of a straight-forward rock song.  It harkens back to rock and roll’s golden era much like Black Stone Cherry, Fireball Ministry, and others of that ilk.  van Delft sings against drummer Janosch Rathmer’s solid timekeeping and fellow guitarist Stephen Gall’s own work, “What is the point of your life/Your life/All covered up in those eyes/Those eyes/So now free mind/You’re one of a kind/Take a hold of the good things/And give sight to the blind/Tell me the one thing you see/Tell me the one thing you know/Show me the one thing you live for/Holding on.”  This set against the song’s opening verse in which van Delft sings, “Time keeps on ticking/Revealing your patience/It’s only a matter of self-defense/Eager to please/Your only disease/It’s just the weight on your mind/A day of your life/A step on your way to return” makes the song especially interesting.  There is a seeming message about each one of us having a meaning in life and it being just a matter of finding that meaning.  Again, that could be completely wrong.  Hopefully it is right, though.  Regardless, the very fact that it could lead to such deep thought serves to make this song all the more enjoyable.  The guitar solo in the song’s final movement adds even more enjoyment to the whole work.  Between that impressive guitar work, the deep, thoughtful lyrics and the overall talent displayed here, ‘Holding On’ shows again why any rock and roll purist should give this record at least one listen.

Zodiac shows throughout the course of its latest full-length release why this record is just as good as any album released by its bigger-named counterparts.  That is evidenced in the songs previously noted here.  From its more blues-tinged rock to its more neo-stoner sound, there is not one moment that disappoints on this record.  There is almost something of a more modern rock and roll influence in the album’s closer ‘Swinging on the Run.’  Much like the album’s opener and other tracks on this disc, ‘Swinging on the Run’ is not one for anyone with a short attention span.  This track clocks in at just over six minutes.  It’s not the album’s longest work.  that honor belongs to the aptly titled ‘Rock Bottom Blues.’  That song comes in at just over the nine minute mark.  And anyone that is a fan of the likes of The Allman Brothers Band will especially enjoy this piece with its smoky, old school blues-rock sound.  Getting back to ‘Swinging on the Run,’ audiences can clearly hear influences from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, and so many others that have come before as the song progresses.  It shows a good song doesn’t necessarily always need lyrics to be enjoyable.  that being the case, it makes perfect sense why it was chosen as the band’s final statement on this record.  It leaves audiences knowing that they have experienced something very special.  It leaves listeners knowing that along with those tracks noted here, and the remaining seven not noted, they have in Sonic Child an album that is just as deserving of respect from rock purists as any album released by the band’s more well-known counterparts.  And given the right support from listeners and radio programmers alike, it could become just as big a record as those released by said bands.

Sonic Child is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Prosthetic Records online store at  More information on Sonic Child and all of the latest updates from Zodiac is available online at:



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Zodiac Offers Even More Pure Guitar-Driven Rock On Its New Record

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Hiding Place, the second full length release from Germany’s Zodiac, is a solid follow-up to the band’s 2012 debut record, A Bit of Devil.  The band’s sophomore release picks up right where A Bit of Devil left off.  Right from the album’s outset, listeners are transported back in time to the golden era of real rock and roll and taken on a musical trip that would impress even older listeners that lived through that great age.  The band gets so much right throughout all nine of the songs collected for this record.  From the soaring guitar solos of Stephen Gall and front man Nick van Delft to Janosch Rathmer’s almost John Bonham-esque drumming to bassist Ruben Claro’s solid bass lines, so much can be said of this record.  Even the album’s lyrical side is noteworthy.  The band’s musicianship and lyrical finesse together make every song on this record a joy.  It would be impossible to examine each and every song.  Though, a few examples might work.  And what better place to start than with the album’s opener, ‘Downtown?”

‘Downtown’ is everything that makes blues-driven rock and roll so great.  It is bound to be a fan favorite with its straight forward energy and blues-based guitar riffs.  What makes this song so outstanding is the fact that just as with so many classic rock favorites, the band has made this more than just another rock song.  It’s a two-parter, with the first half being an anthem for a Saturday night on the town.  That’s especially the case considering that the band sings in the song’s chorus, “Bright lights are shining/Big city diamond/Where are you now…We’re going downtown/Where nobody knows your name.”  The chorus set against the song’s musical energy will loosen up even the person who has had the toughest of work weeks.  The jam session that makes up the song’s second half instantly conjures thoughts of rock’s greatest age.  One can close one’s eyes, take in the music, and see the band onstage jamming out together, and feeding off of the energy shared by its audiences in this segment of the song.  All of it together makes ‘Downtown’ the perfect choice to open the album.

‘Downtown’ is the perfect opener for Hiding Place.  It is certain to get any listener up and moving whether in their living room or with friends.  Just as certain to get listeners moving is the album’s third song, ‘Under My Bed.’  All four members of the band contribute their own element to make this song a hit.  The truly interesting thing about this song is how much vocalist Nick van Delft sounds like blues great Stevie Ray Vaughan in this song.  Bassist Ruben Claro’s funk-infused bass lines set against the SRV style guitar solos make this song stand out even more.  That’s not to discount drummer Janosch Rathmer’s work.  He keeps time through the song, not missing a beat as he adds his own flair to it.  As with ‘Downtown’ it would be easy to see this driving blues-based rocker being just as much of a fan favorite both on the album and in concert.

So much can be noted of the songs on Hiding Place as one can tell by now.  It would take far too long to examine each and every song on this record.  Though at least one more example can be shared showing what listeners can expect from this record.  That last example lies in the album’s penultimate song, ‘I Wanna Know.’  This song doesn’t have the same energy as ‘Downtown’ or ‘Under My Bed.’  It does boast its own energy and feel, though.  This is actually a good thing.  It’s good in that it proves the band’s slower songs can be just as enjoyable as those more up-tempo numbers.  What’s more, its contemplative lyrics are just as certain to catch listeners’ attention.  Van Delft sings in this song, ‘I wanna know/How my soul/Brought me on my knees/I wanna know/What to do/In times like these.”  The slightly slower yet equally hard musical side helps to illustrate the emotion that the band attempts to translate to listeners.  It’s one more part of the album that makes the whole presentation so fun for anyone that is a fan of pure, guitar driven rock and roll.  It’s not all that listeners have to look forward to, either.  The songs note noted here are just worthy of checking out, too.  The album is available now in stores and online.  Fans can also get a chance to hear the band’s music in person, too as the band tours in support of Hiding Place.  The band is currently in the midst of a European tour.  It will kick off the U.S. leg of its tour beginning November 14th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The band will make a tour stop in North Carolina on Saturday, December 7th at Amos Southend in Charlotte.  The concert is scheduled for a 7pm start time.  More tour dates and news from the band is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at