41 (DVD)

 

George H.W. Bush is a rare example of a modern United States President that only served one term (Carter represents the other case in the last 50 years). That alone would provide more than enough fuel for viewers to be fascinated throughout this documentary’s runtime, but there is free and unfettered access to the former president himself. The types of topics that are broached during 41 seem to know no bounds. Whether George H.W. Bush discusses the time spent in military service during World War II or his role in the Persian Gulf offensive or the high role he assigned to environmental knowledge, there is a solid sense that the man knows intimately what he believes. The discussions provide enough depth for political scientists and for history buffs alike, but the affable attitude of 41 will remind viewers alive during his presidency why he was so damn convincing.

HBO has done a tremendous thing in releasing 41; there seems to be a decided lack in coverage of the republican leaders of the nineties. While there are some still in Washington (Gingrich), I feel that the store of the Republican party during the late eighties and early nineties is one that has not been told. Watch 41 are get educated about the formative years of the internet, the downfall of the former Soviet Union, and what it was like to be President during this interesting time. Online retailers and a great many brick and mortar stores will have 41 in stock.

Rating: 8.5/10

41 (DVD) / 2012 HBO Entertainment / 100 Minutes / http://www.hbo.com

Booster (DVD)

 

The sheer sorrow of the tale told during Booster is something that will resound loudly too anyone that has had friend or family in dire straits. Simon is a Bostonite that has to steal just to make ends meet, while Simon’s brother Sean gets rapidly tangled up in a criminal action that could lead to death or life in prison. Seymour Cassel (Oscar nominee for 1969’s Faces) fills out the cast as Harold, allowing viewers to understand the motivation behind Simon’s actions.  Simon’s tragic role as a redistributing criminal showcases that there can be a sense of honor behind even the most heinous of actions. Characters in Booster are not black and white creations; there seems to be a calculus behind the desires and drives of Simon, Sean, Harold, and even Simon’s girlfriend Megan (Kristin Dougherty, in eir inaugural film). The crux of the film surrounds Simon’s decision regarding Sean’s crime; is ey a good enough person to take the rap for the brother’s failings? If not, will ey be able to leave Boston and start a new life with Megan, or will eir life take eir in a completely different direction?

 

The transfer to DVD is absolutely stellar, with the more muted tones of Matt Ruskin’s direction showcasing the sheer hopelessness of Simon’s situation. The video transfer sounds great no matter whether one watches the title on their home entertainment system or on their computer. Pick up Booster and other Echo Bridge titles from your favorite online retailer, and check out their website for more information about their slate of films ending 2012 and entering 2013.

Rating: 8.2 / 10

Booster (DVD) / 2012 Echo Bridge Home Entertainment / 72 Minutes / http://www.echobridgehe.com

Rage Against the Machine – XX [20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set] (CD)

I’ve always been a little troubled that little was made of the fact that Rage Against the Machine, a rock band that was known for scathingly anti-corporate lyrics (even heading down to Wall Street for their, well anti-Wall Street rant “Bulls on Parade” video), chose not to turn to an established independent label to release their music, or even take the Ani Di Franco/Fugazi route and start their own label, but rather jump into bed with Epic Records, one of the largest, publically-traded  record labels in the world. And that’s not a slam on Epic, who has built a reputation of discovering some stellar bands over the years, but you can’t help but  wonder what percentage of Rage’s lyrics are actually steeped in core beliefs when they would willing take the biggest contract put in front of them.

 

Ok, that personal slam aside, it’s hard to argue against the fact that the California band’s twenty-year-old, self-titled debut was extremely influential and was an explosively powerful collection of alternative metal bombast. From the cover photo of the Vietnamese monk burning himself to death in protest, to the in your face lyrics of oppression and rebellion, to the punch in the face blast of guitars and drums, the record is remarkable in all that it was able to accomplish with just 10 songs.

Though much is made of this being one of the first commercially-successful blends of rap and hard rock, the band kept a stronger dose of metal in the mixture and shouldn’t be blamed for the slew of watered down imitators that followed in their wake (from Limp Bizkit to Disturbed) any more than Nirvana and Pearl Jam were responsible for Candlebox.

 

Legacy Records, with the band’s blessing, has re-released the complete album with a trio of live songs, a second disc of the band’s demo and two separate DVDs of live performances and videos and a vinyl record. From the lyrically biting “Killing in the Name” right through to the album closer “Freedom” the band delivered a nearly flawless debut that deserves the royal re-release treatment.

 

Keep fighting the power! Even if The Man has made you a millionaire.

Rage Against the Machine – XX [20th Anniversary Edition Deluxe Box Set]/2 CDs, 2 DVDs and 1 LP/Legacy/2012

VON GREY JOINS COMPANY OF THIEVES ON U.S. TOUR IN JANUARY 2013

Indie-alt-folk band von Grey will kick off a tour with Company of Thieves on January 23, 2013 at The Bishop in Bloomington, IN. The run will include shows at World Café in Philadelphia (1/29), New York City’s Highline Ballroom (1/31) and Jammin Java in Vienna, VA (2/4).

 

The band, which recently wrapped up a West Coast tour with Lindsey Stirling, is currently on tour in the South and will play the 2013 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida, scheduled for January 18-20 and featuring such artists as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzanne Vega, Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith. See below for itinerary.

 

“von Grey is poised to make a splash in the pop scene,” predicted the Santa Barbara News Press while TheComet.com hailed the quartet as an “Artist to Watch,” praising their “incredible musicianship…and intricate harmonies.”

 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution urged: “see them now, because a few years down the road, you might have to pay big bucks for nosebleed seats in an arena to catch these talented musicians” while American Songwriter observed: “When your song is the most added to Triple A Radio, behind Mumford & Sons’ latest single, you know you’re doing something right. That’s the case for von Grey and ‘Coming For You’…”

 

You can check out von Grey performing “Coming For You,” the lead single from the group’s self-titled EP, and several other songs in The Bing Lounge at KINK FM in Portland, OR at http://www.kink.fm/11/15/12/Von-Grey/landing_bing.html?blockID=648727&feedID=9502.

 

The classically trained Alpharetta, GA sisters recorded the EP with GRAMMY® winner Nick DiDia (Bruce Springsteen, Train, The Gaslight Anthem). von Grey – comprising Annika (lead vocals, violin, banjo, guitar, keys), Fiona (lead vocals, guitar, violin, percussion), Petra (keys, lap steel guitar, background vocals) and Kathryn (cello, bass, mandolin, keys, background vocals) – has performed upwards of 200 shows in the past two years, from recurring residency tours at intimate venues throughout the southeastern U.S. to supporting gigs with such artists as Sarah McLachlan.

 

von Grey – Upcoming Tour Dates

 

11/28 – Louisville, KY @ WFPK Winter Wednesday Series w/Corey Chisel and the Wandering Sons

11/30 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater w/Parachute

12/7 – Sautee, GA @ Sautee Nacoochee Center

12/8 – Savannah, GA @ Tubby’s Tankhouse Thunderbolt – 5th Annual Yuletide Jam benefiting Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia

12/21 – Atlanta, GA @ Grocery on Home

12/29 – Atlanta, GA @ Eddie’s Attic

1/11 – Sandy Springs, GA @ Steve’s Live Music

1/18-20 – Walton County, FL @ 30A Songwriters Festival

1/23 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop w/Company of Thieves

1/24 –  Urbane, IL @ The Canopy Club w/Company of Thieves

1/25 – St Louis, MO @ Off Broadway w/Company of Thieves

1/26 –  Bloomington, IL @ Castle Theatre w/Company of Thieves

1/27 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall w/Company of Thieves

1/29 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café w/Company of Thieves

1/30 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall w/Company of Thieves

1/31 – New York, NY @ Highline Ballroom w/Company of Thieves

2/1 – Albany, NY @ The Bayou w/Company of Thieves

2/2 – Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head Tavern w/Company of Thieves

2/4 – Vienna, VA @ Jammin Java w/Company of Thieves

3/23 –  Hayesville, NC @ Peacock Theatre

 

Additional dates to be announced.

GLAMOUR OF THE KILL ISSUE STUDIO UPDATE

GLAMOUR OF THE KILL has issued a studio update surrounding their new record due out next year. Click HERE or the image above to view! GLAMOUR OF THE KILL is currently tucked away in Rochester, Michigan with producer Joey Sturgis (Asking Alexandria, Attack Attack) working on their follow up to “The Summing” which came out last year.

“The Summoning” release in the US was followed by a successful run on the INKED MUSIC TOUR featuring ALESANA. With such momentum, the band is set to release some of their most ferocious material to date. Such accolades include:

“Glamour Of The Kill are one of the UK’s brightest young hopes.” – Kerrang!

“The UK has a new crossover phenomenon in the making.” – Metal Hammer

“Glamour Of The Kill have been thrown in at the deep end and seem to be loving the water!” – Big Cheese

GLAMOUR OF THE KILL now have their sights set on the world beyond their native England, with the strength of their homeland fanbase securely supporting them. British invasions from the Beatles to Oasis to Maiden have come in waves and GOTK are ready to seize their opportunity.

“We started a band because this is what we love to do,” adds frontman Richmond.  “You get to do what you love and have thousands of other people enjoy it with you. I couldn’t ask for anything more. As long as we love what we are doing, we are going to take it as far as we can.”

Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History by Alan di Perna (Book)

The timing of Alan di Perna’s bio on Oakland’s favorite pop punks is a little ill-timed. The hardcover coffee table book is well-researched, impressively chronicled and features everything from pics of programs and old tour posters to t-shirts and rare flyers. But the book leaves the Green Day story in early 2012, just as the band is going into the studio to record what would be an ambitious three-album project spread out over several months. And shortly after the release of Uno!, front man Billie Joe had a very-public meltdown at a music festival in Las Vegas, followed almost immediately by the cancellation of their world tour and admission into a treatment facility.

Quite possibly the most significant event to happen to the band in the more than two decades they’ve been around and di Perna had the bad luck to miss that chapter by just a few months.

Aside from that, Green Day: the Ultimate Unauthorized History is quite impressive as music bios go. For one, the author has actually interviewed the band, several times over the years, so is able to provide plenty of color to his writing usually missing from the quickie bios that tend to just grab quotes piecemeal from various magazine profiles.  Also, by producing a large hardcover book, the author and publisher are able to better showcase the band’s history beyond just writings. The book acts as a portable, personal  museum of sorts for the band.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there is no denying how highly influential the band has managed to be over their career. Despite constants criticism for selling out (first for jumping to a major label, later for taking American Idiot to Broadway), the band’s sound still sounds remarkably similar to the original singles they put out on Look Out Records. There’s no telling what lies ahead for the band at this point, but fans at least have a stellar new collectable to hang on to thanks to di  Perna.

Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History by Alan di Perna/Hardcover, 193 pages/Voyageur Press/2012

SparkPeople: Total Body Sculpting and Canyon Ranch: Yoga for Strength & Energy (DVD)

/ 2012 Acacia /  69 Minutes | 57 Minutes / http://acacialifestyle.com/

Depending on what style of workout one utilizes, what is taught during SparkPeople’s Total Body Sculpting and Canyon Ranch’s Yoga for Strength & Energy may be more useful.  These collections of workouts (3 on the SparkPeople DVD, and 2 on the Canyon Ranch release) both average about an hour, which is the maximum length for additional benefit to accrue to the individual during their workout. Instructions are clear, motions are repeated enough for viewers to understand the routine, and viewers will be clamoring for more as they continue to complete these exercises.

What Acacia has done in releasing these DVDs is showcase that solid workout regimens can benefit individuals in a way that paid advertisement workouts simply cannot do. Canyon Ranch’s yoga style allows the widest possible swath the chance to work out and actually notice tangible benefits; this DVD is a must have if one would like to increase their overall flexibility and decrease the chance of injury when moving into a more weight-heavy training. SparkPeople’s Total Body Sculpting is a plan that seems to be a touch more difficult in terms of overall workout scope, but enjoys a similarly welcoming demeanor.

There are so many out there that say that workouts are too hard or take up too much of their day. I contend that each workout plan, whether sculpting or yoga-focused, can be learned in the space of a single workout and be completed even by those that have not went to the gym in decades. These DVDs represent a perfect holiday gift for anyone that is looking to change how they look, feel, and ultimately value themselves. Make sure to purchase from the Acacia website or from any one of numerous online retailers that stock these DVDs.

Rating: 9.3/10

Madness – Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (CD)

Though the UK ska band Madness may always be trapped in 1982 for many of their U.S. fans, thanks to the wildly popular “Our House,” the two-tone group has continued to build up their resume since reuniting in the early 90’s. Though the success has mainly been limited to Europe (they were tapped to play the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics along with a number of festivals), the group’s latest is reason enough for us to start paying attention to the band again over here.

 

The dreadfully titled Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da, the band’s 10th album to date, includes some impressively addictive tracks like the album opener “My Girl 2,” a timelessly solid track that could just have come out in the early 80’s; the surprisingly sentimental “How Can I tell You”; or “Misery,” a song that is impossible to listen to with bobbing your head along, keeping time.

 

A bit ambitious, with 14 racks, the band manages to dilute the album a bit with a couple of mediocre songs like the maudlin “Never Knew Your Name” and hokey “La Luna,” but taken as a whole the record averages out to a pretty impressive comeback for a band that had apparently been here all along.

 

Madness – Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da (CD) neufutur.com/14 tracks/eOne/2012

The Groundhogs – Live At the Astoria (DVD)

/ 2012 Eagle Rock / 81 Minutes / http://www.eaglerockent.com

The Groundhogs are an act that still has it. The live show was captured in February of 1998 at the Astoria (London) and contains all of the band’s best known cuts (Cherry Red, Still a Fool, and Groundhog Blues are all present). The video quality of Live At the Astoria is absolutely stellar, while the audio captured is clear and without distortion.

Shake For Me immediately will hit viewers with the sheer intensity of arrangements and the eclectic set of styles that are presented. 3744 James Road showcases that the band’s overall sound can vary in the space of just a few minutes. The two parts of Split speak to the epic aspirations of The Groundhogs; the longevity of this effort is absolutely astounding. The concert ends with Cherry Red, Groundhog Blues, and Down in the Bottom. The narration weaved through this trio of tracks is furthered through the unity enjoyed by the constituent instrumental sides of the band.

While one could conceivably buy a Greatest Hits of The Groundhogs, I feel that the live setting shows the true talent of the band. This 1998 concert showcases a wizened act that is far from stopping. The introduction by Tony McPhee provides viewers with semblance of the sheer amount of work that each member of the band has placed into the creation of a stellar band. Check out the Eagle Rock Classics line for additional trips back into memory lane, made all the better by the tremendous care that the company takes in the preservation and overall presentation of their live footage; give their website a spin to see what they have on deck for the next few months.

Rating: 9.0/10

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes (DVD)

 

 

 

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes is a perfect gift for any child; the messages weaved through this feature of five episodes will instill a solid set of values for anyone in their formative years. Episodes contained here include Floodlights, Snowball of Doom, Ice Cold in Pontypandy, The Pontypandy Polar Bear, and The Big Chill. For those that have already viewed these episodes, two bonus features are present. The Merry Christmas Everybody captures a tremendously catchy rendition of this holiday-themed track, while the Fireman Sam’s Safety Show will provide viewers with some good information about the potential dangers that are present during the holiday season.

 

The video quality of the DVD is absolutely stellar, and looks great even when expanded to a high-definition television. The audio mix is similarly strong, ensuring that all will be able to enjoy the dialogue and ambient noises contained within. Snowball of Doom is our favorite episode, and showcases that the fire department can even help out when the immediate problem is the diametric opposite of what they would normally face.  Floodlights will keep viewers at the edges of their seats; this episode showcases the safety maintenance side of the office in a way that all generations will be able to understand and properly appreciate.

 

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes can be purchased at any well-stocked media store or online retailer; keep an eye out for additional coverage of HIT releases in the months to come, and kudos to HIT for allowing a more diverse and world-aware view to be showcased so prominently in a show like Fireman Sam.

 

Rating: 9.3/10

/ 2012 HIT Entertainment / 45 Minutes / http://www.hitentertainment.com

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes is a perfect gift for any child; the messages weaved through this feature of five episodes will instill a solid set of values for anyone in their formative years. Episodes contained here include Floodlights, Snowball of Doom, Ice Cold in Pontypandy, The Pontypandy Polar Bear, and The Big Chill. For those that have already viewed these episodes, two bonus features are present. The Merry Christmas Everybody captures a tremendously catchy rendition of this holiday-themed track, while the Fireman Sam’s Safety Show will provide viewers with some good information about the potential dangers that are present during the holiday season.

The video quality of the DVD is absolutely stellar, and looks great even when expanded to a high-definition television. The audio mix is similarly strong, ensuring that all will be able to enjoy the dialogue and ambient noises contained within. Snowball of Doom is our favorite episode, and showcases that the fire department can even help out when the immediate problem is the diametric opposite of what they would normally face.  Floodlights will keep viewers at the edges of their seats; this episode showcases the safety maintenance side of the office in a way that all generations will be able to understand and properly appreciate.

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes can be purchased at any well-stocked media store or online retailer; keep an eye out for additional coverage of HIT releases in the months to come, and kudos to HIT for allowing a more diverse and world-aware view to be showcased so prominently in a show like Fireman Sam.

Rating: 9.3/10

Fireman Sam: Holiday Heroes (DVD) / 2012 HIT Entertainment / 45 Minutes / http://www.hitentertainment.com