Friday, May 27, 2011

Shinedown: Somewhere in the Stratosphere 2CD/2DVD

Somewhere in the Stratosphere 2CD/2DVD
Reviewed by Lisa Selvaggio
As a big Shinedown fan, I have seen them live more times than I can count, so when I heard that a live DVD of not only their Carnival of Madness show but also their Anything and Everything acoustic set would be released, I was stoked. The 2 CDs in the package are the audio from the shows, and it goes without saying that the band sounds incredible live.

Carnival of Madness DVD: The footage of this concert is far too "produced." When I watch a concert DVD, I don't want to feel like I'm watching a music video, with everything from choppy, rapidly changing scenes to super-imposed backgrounds and lights behind the musicians, and slow-motion stop-and-go. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed by the way this video was put together. You can see that the audio sometimes doesn't match the performers' motions, and you even begin to wonder if backgrounds weren't the only things that were superimposed. Also, one of the best things about Shinedown shows is the inspiring messages Brent has for his audience, which weren't included here.

Anything and Everything DVD: This video was a lot more organic, and therefore a lot more to my liking. It was great to hear Brent explain all of the songs in the set. The bonus backstage footage was a pleasant surprise as well. And this is probably the highest-energy acoustic show you'll ever see.

Being that the band's been touring since the release of Sound of Madness in 2008, it's great to get some of it forever stored on video, and now we just have to wait for their next release.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monica Richards: The Strange Familiar

Monica Richards
The Strange Familiar (EP)
Reviewed by Lisa Selvaggio

Monica Richards has released an EP entitled The Strange Familiar in anticipation of a new solo album coming this summer. These are five songs that show her at her best. Four tracks are brand new and the fifth is a remix of the beloved “A Good Thing” off the album titled InfraWarrior. Monica is ever evolving with a keen sense for poetic expression, and these songs reach to the depths of despair and to the heights of resurrection. Listen to the lyrics and you can actually feel the emotions that Monica puts into her songs.

As any true artist can, she’s created an eclectic mix of songs, from music that you can dance to, to a spoken word track that tells a tale that is personal yet relatable (“The Mighty”). “Armistice” is reminiscent of classic Goth, an upbeat song with pounding bass leading the way. “The Strange Familiar,” a personal favorite, sticks in your head long after it has ended. And “Oreiades” is haunting violin and Monica’s voice alone, “recorded in the caves of Castle Cottenau in Upper Franconia.” I cannot say enough that this is true artistry, true uniqueness. But it’s just a teaser for something even better to come. For a longtime fan, it’s great to see Monica get better and better. But we must patiently wait for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5