CD Review: Royal Blood “How Did We Get So Dark”

“How Did We Get So Dark”
Royal Blood
Warner Bros.
Tracks: 10

Our score: 2 out of 5 stars

The UK Duo Royal Blood are back with their sophomore release via Warner Bros. Records titled “How Did We Get So Dark”. As the follow up to the bands successful 2010 release “Royal Blood”, the new album features 10 fresh tracks which were produce by the band along with Tom Dalgety and Jolyon Thomas.

Having caught Royal Blood when they opened for the Foo Fighters on their “Sonic Highways” tour I was instantly amazed at the sizeable sound these two guys were able produce. Needless to say I was instantly hooked. The band’s latest offering “How Did We Get So Dark” is a bit of a departure from the group’s self-titled release as I found it lacking the punch and grittiness of its predecessor. Tracks like “How Did We Get So Dark” and “Hole On Your Heart” feature much more robust instrumentation and production which I felt took away from the group’s signature bass, drums sound scape. Thankfully tracks such as “Where Are You Now” and “Hook, Line & Sinker” brought back some of the sound that originally appealed to me.

Though not an outright bad album “How Did We Get So Dark” is not what I consider a good album either. I applaud the band for stretching their legs while trying to expand on the limited possibilities of a two member group however, I think they may have strayed a touch too far from the signature sound that put them on the map making their latest offering one I just couldn’t get in to.

Track Listing:
1.) How Did We Get So Dark
2.) Lights Out
3.) I Only Lie When I Love
4.) She’s Creeping
5.) Look Like You Know
6.) Where Are You Now
7.) Don’t Tell
8.) Hook, Line & Sinker
9.) Hole In Your Heart
10.) Sleep

CD Review: Royal Blood “Royal Blood”

Royal Blood
“Royal Blood”
Warner Bros.
Produced by: Tom Dalgety, Mike Kerr, Ben Thatcher
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The self titled debut release by the UK based duo Royal Blood is an album you have to check out. When a traditional 4/5 piece band can make sounds as unique as those heard on “Royal Blood” that’s fairly impressive however knowing that Royal Blood consists of just two members  vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher that changes things dramatically.

The debut album is a carefully constructed wall of sonic noise that keeps the listeners attention throughout each of its 10 tracks. Songs like the albums opener “Out of the Black” and the raunchy “Figure It Out” tear through your speakers will ease as Kerr’s gritty bass sounds cover the ground quickly making you second guess the need for guitars at all. Combined with Thatcher’s spot on timing and ability to play in the pocket each performance comes off polished and professional. The duo only further confirm this with such tracks as the robotic like “Ten Tonne Skeleton” and the in your face “Come On Over

Though I found the album didn’t quite capture all the power of the groups live element it certainly comes pretty close. With each track on “Royal Blood” having a little something for everyone it makes this a great addition to any music lover’s playlist

Track Listing:
Out of the Black
Come On Over
Figure It Out
You Can Be So Cruel
Blood Hands
Little Monster
Loose Change
Careless
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Better Strangers

Book Review “Sofia the First: Royal Prep Academy”

Age Range: 3 – 5 years
Grade Level: Preschool – Kindergarten
Series: Sofia the First
Board book: 14 pages
Publisher: Disney Press
Release Date: September 2, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Sofia the First” is currently my two year old’s favorite show. This book is also easily one of her favorite new books. “Sofia the First: Royal Prep Academy” is a life the flap book, which has been a lot of fun to play with. The book takes us into Sofia’s school and it really get  and keeps her attention. She likes being able to look under each flap and letting me what is under each one. A must for Sofia fans!

Disney has been doing this a lot recently where they shape the books like their based theme, for example with the recent “Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Winter Never Land”, which is shaped like a Christmas tree. This book is slightly shaped like, if you haven’t guess it, the Royal Prep Academy.  The book is very interactive and seems to be getting a lot of repeat business in our house.

Book Review “Disney Princess Royal Treasury: Read-and-Play Storybook”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Read-and-Play Storybook
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Disney Press; Har/Psc edition (July 29, 2014)

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Disney Princess Royal Treasury: Read-and-Play Storybook” is a very pretty book. It is a 4-in-1 padded storybook that features stories for our favorite princess (or I should say specifically my daughters) Ariel, Aurora, Rapunzel, and Tiana.

Official Premise: Rescue a sacred dolphin with Ariel; go on an adventure with Rapunzel and Maximus; befriend a baby dragon with Aurora, and spend an evening with Tiana and Stella the dog in this 4-in-1 storybook

If the four stories aren’t enough to draw you in, like most of Disney’s books there is a code included to download the Disney Princess Royal Salon app. It is a very cute app and allow you to dress up and style your favorite princesses!

Blu-ray Review “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”

Actors: Elle Deets, Yuri Lowenthal
Directors: Richard Rich
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 2 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“The Swan Princess” started back as a 1994 animated fantasy musical film based on the ballet “Swan Lake”. Fast forward to 2014 and we get “The Swan Princess: A Royal Family Tale”, which is the fifth film in the series and which also celebrates the 20th anniversary. The film is cute but the animation is low-grade and it couldn’t keep our attention for the short 80 minutes.

Richard Rich has been behind this series from the beginning and has directed and produced each and everyone of these sequels. He is also behind the sequels in the “Alpha and Omega” series. You have to give him props for keeping it going for five films now but I think it might be time to call it quits on this series. These stories are all stand-alone, so I am sure he can keep it going for twelve movies like “The Land Before Time” but this will probably be the last one I watch.

Official Premise: Shortly after the Royal Family adopts a young girl named Alise, she is taken away into the forest. Princess Odette, Prince Derek and their woodland friends, Jean-Bob the Frog and Speed the Turtle, must work together to find a way to bring her home to the castle.

Sony delivers this film in a two disc combo back with a Blu-ray + DVD and HD Digital Ultraviolet Copy. In terms of special features, there are two bonus Sing-A-Long videos for ““We Wanna Hear From You”” and ““Right Where I Belong””. Also included is a free, sparkly tiara for those little young princesses and a free Shutterfly Photo Book ($29.99 value) for the parents. Honestly, this is worth the purchase alone just for the photo book.

Blu-ray Review “The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall”

Directed by: Nick Morris
Actors: Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Hadley Fraser, Wendy Ferguson, Barry James
MPAA Rating Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Distributed by: Universal Studios
Run Time: 160 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Phantom of the Opera” is the currently longest running show on New York’s Broadway. It is also currently has production playing London, Budapest and Las Vegas.  In October 2011, the show marked its 25th anniversary and took stage on the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London. I have seen the stage production of this show many times and this Blu-ray presentation is such an amazing representation of the show. This show features composer Andrew Lloyd Webber at the helm and really shows the wonderful scale of the stage production. Honestly if you have never seen this show, this is an amazing way to enjoy this whether it is your first time or your 10th time.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score on Blu-ray is so stunning boasting a fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Match that with an amazing HD presentation and this is one attractive Blu-ray. The video really captures the beauty and color in this show and really brings it to life in your living room. In the bonus features category, there is only one feature but it is worth watching to take a look into the shows production. “Getting Past the Point of No Return” is a very in depth behind the scenes featurette with the cast and crew.

The 25th anniversary production of this show not only looks beautiful but also includes an amazing cast and orchestra of over 200 and also features some very cool guest appearances like “Phantom” originals, Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Taking on the role of the Phantom is Ramini Karimloo and the role of Christine is portrayed by Sierra Boggess, both who are know for their roles in “Love Never Dies” (the sequel to “Phantom of the Opera”). They both do such an amazing job and really bright their own unique specialties to the characters. Speaking of the sequel if you enjoy this Blu-ray do not forget to also check out “Love Never Dies”, which will be released on Blu-ray as well on May 29, 2012.