Buy Music CDs at CD Universe. Audio Samples and Reviews Available on Music New Releases 

 

       

 

 

 

Note: If you can read french, go to the french section for additional content.

 

0-9 - 50 Cent - 7 Weeks -

A - Against Me! - The Aggrolites - Antibalas - The Arcade Fire - Ash - Avenged Sevenfold -

B - Bad Religion - Bang Lime - Barenaked Ladies - Roz Bell - Benny Benassi - Biffy Clyro - Björk - Black SabbathBloc Party - Blue Rodeo - James Blunt - Bon Jovi - The Book Of Knots - Michael Bublé - Buck 65 - Busdriver -

C - Caribou - Manu Chao - Chiodos - Circa Survive - Danny Cohen - Holly Cole - Collective Soul - John Coltrane - Ry Cooder - Corneille - The Cribs - Crimson Glory (2) -

D - Daft Punk - Damiera - Miles Davis - Dear And The Headlights - Cachao Descargas - Die Mannequin - The Doors - Dragonette - The Drifters -

F - The Fall Of Troy - Fall Out Boy - Farewell - Ibrahim Ferrer - Fields - Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard - Foo Fighters - Foreign Born - The Frames - Sage Francis -

G - Galactic - Gallows - The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Gorguts (2) - Gorillaz - The Great Kat (2) - Grinderman -

H - Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Mick Harvey (2) - Kate Havnevik - Joe Henry - The Higher - The Honorary Title (2) - Hot Hot Heat -

I - Ill Scarlett -

J - Norah Jones - Justice -

K - Kaiser Chiefs - Klaxons -

L - Bettye LaVette - Avril Lavigne - LCD Soundsystem - Led Zeppelin - Linkin Park - The Locust -

M - Metric - Raul Midon - Mika - Kylie Minogue - Modern Life Is War - Mother Mother - Motion City Soundtrack - Motor -

N - Navaz! - Nekromantix - The New Pornographers - Stevie Nicks -

O - Olympia - Orange - Dolores O'Riordan - Otep -

P - Paramore - Parkway Drive - Pascale Picard - Pierce The Veil - Iggy Pop - Omara Portuondo - Preach -

Q - Queensrÿche -

R - Recoil - Rehtorit -

S - Arturo Sandoval - Siggi Schwarz & Michael Schenker - Smashing Pumpkins - The Snake The Cross The Crown - Societys Parasites - Soulkid #1 - Spice Girls - Static Thought - The Stooges -

T - Teddybears - John Tesh - Tiësto - Tiger Army - Timbaland - Mel Tormé - Juan Pablo Torres (2) - The Traveling Wilburys -

U - The Unseen - The Used -

V - Bebo Valdés - Vanna - Velvet Revolver -

W - Kanye West - Porter Wagoner -The Weakerthans - The White Stripes - Wilco - David Wilcox -

Y - Neil Young (2) - Youth Group -

Z - The Zombies

Compilations - Healing The Divide

 

 

50 Cent - Curtis

50 Cent - Curtis

Curtis (which is his real first name) was released simultaneously with Graduation by Kanye West and 50 Cent said that if he doesn’t sell as much albums as West, he would retire. If we take a look at the sales at this time, we won’t hear from 50 Cent anymore since he didn’t even reach gold certification yet (500,000 copies) whereas Kanye West’s album exceeded double platinum status (2 million copies). Not as soft as The Massacre, Curtis seems to bring him back to his criminal past whereas he cannot stop himself from talking about killing. In fact, the two recurring topics for the album, as much for the lyrics as on the photographs in the booklet, are about weapons and sex. I always worry when I see such violent and sexist subjects in a music which is made primarily for teenagers, even if they will always say they don’t pay attention to the subjects. I wish that it’s really the case, because a young person with evil ideas which would decide to use 50 Cent lyrics as a way of life would quickly be likely to visit the prison. His lyrics are so typical gangsta rap style that one of the tracks, "Man Down", is censored even on the uncensored version of the album, surely a premiere... It’s because it talks about the murder of a police officer, the record company being not so keen on cop-killing lyrics. The album contains very good tracks with unforgettable melodies ("My Gun Go Off", "I Get Money") in addition to many collaborations making it possible for several tracks to increase their quality of a notch: Akon ("I'll Still Kill"), Justin Timberlake & Timbaland ("Ayo Technology"), Robin Thicke ("Follow My Lead"), Eminem ("Peep Show"), Young Buck & Nicole Scherzinger ("Fire"), Mary J. Blige ("All Of Me") and Tony Yayo ("Touch The Sky"). In spite of good moments, the 56-minute album of 17 titles seem to last an eternity. The biggest fans of 50 Cent will probably appreciate, but Curtis will certainly not be very important for the world of rap music. (December 2007)

Interscope / Universal

7 Weeks - B(l)ack Days

7 Weeks - B(l)ack Days

7 Weeks is a young group from Limoges in France which proposes stoner metal music. They present us here a very first 31-minute independent EP with 8 tracks. Forget the fact that they are new in the industry and that they are French (it’s not the best country for metal music) and listen to this CD without any preconceived idea. You will see quickly that one can compare them with the most important bands in the genre and that they do not have anything to envy Queens Of The Stone Age. We can also compare them with the sound of Seattle like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. The production of great quality emphasizes perfectly the music with effective melodies of Julien Bernard, the leader of the band. An EP of this quality by such a recent group is surprising and refreshing. The continuation has to be checked out closely, hoping that they can sign a record deal. (November 2007)

½

Against Me! - New Wave

Against Me! - New Wave

After 3 albums on independent labels, here is the major label debut of Florida band Against Me!. The group could count on the work of the legendary Butch Vig as producer for the album, a guy who worked with Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Garbage. Against Me! offers us a folk and punk sound which is rather difficult to compare, that one could perhaps associate with Rise Against and Billy Bragg, with some elements of Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen. On "Stop!" on the other hand, the group proposes a power pop sound which can approach Franz Ferdinand. One can thus say that it acts as an original group which has a single style amalgamating various influences. The album starts strongly with the title-song and "Up The Cuts". Thereafter, it is the first single, "Thrash Unreal". A little later, the Canadian singer Tegan Quin (Tegan And Sara) comes with her pretty voice on "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart" to make a counterweight with the raucous voice of Tom Gabel, the leader and composer-songwriter of the group. Against Me! presents socially engaged lyrics on a creative music. It is thus a group which deserves all our attention. (November 2007)

Sire / Warner

½

The Aggrolites - Reggae Hit L.A.

The Aggrolites, Reggae Hit L.A.

For those who believed reggae music disappeared with the death of the legendary Bob Marley, it’s because they didn’t hear The Aggrolites. The group from Los Angeles comes back less than a year after their very good self-titled debut to maybe present a better album, Reggae Hit L.A. Eight months of intensive touring have made it possible for the group to polish its style and to compose great pieces of contemporary reggae, obviously influenced by the roots of the genre. We can hear 15 energetic and varied songs, without many obvious weaknesses. The creativity is present in a style which however has its limits and which has decades of history. The organ has an important place in several of the tracks offered here, particularly in the very good title-song. With Reggae Hit L.A., The Aggrolites pay tribute to the initiators of the genre, while putting at the foreground their south-Californian background. This is a very good CD by a band to discover if you didn’t do it yet... (July 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Antibalas - Security

Antibalas, Security

Antibalas is a group of 12 musicians formed in Brooklyn, New York almost 10 years ago. It plays an afrobeat and funk sound, a festive and danceable music while having its ambient sides. Security is their 4th album, the first on the Anti label. It has 7 tracks including 2 around 12 minutes and 2 of 8 minutes. It’s the type of tracks without ending we integrate the beat more and more without being able to get out of it. The music of Antibalas concentrates around the trumpet, which can be sometimes repetitive and aggravating (as in "Beaten Metal"), but which is adapted generally perfectly to the sound of the group. With as many musicians, you will guess this is music rich in sonorities and various textures. It’s difficult to compare them with any other artists, but we could talk about a mixture of James Brown and TV On The Radio, 2 artists with which they gave concerts before, without forgetting that 2 musicians of the band played on the last TV On The Radio album, Return to Cookie Mountain. Security is an album we appreciate more and more, especially to create a particular atmosphere. A very good album by a band to discover, particularly if you like world beat music. (May 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible

This is possibly the most anticipated album of the year, the 2nd by the indie rock/post rock band from Montreal The Arcade Fire. The group got a fulgurating rise in 2005 thanks to a first splendid album which was acclaimed by the critics all around the world. Neon Bible begins again where Funeral had left, with its dark and theatrical sides wrapped in irresistible musical crescendos. The group of 7 musicians (which is still able to add more personnel in concert) presents us once again music of an incomparable richness adding many orchestrations to the guitars, strings, percussions and keyboards already quite present in its music. The group recorded some parts of the album in churches in Bedford and Montreal and had the permission to use the organ on the spot to still add a little more to this already quite rich sound. Despite all these instruments, we never have the feeling that they put too much of it. All is well calculated and each instrument has its own importance, without restricting the impact of the compositions. I admit I was excited before the first listening of the album, but I quickly got back to reality. It’s that the singing of Win Butler on the first track, "Black Mirror", and on the title-song deeply aggravated me, because it’s a little repetitive and monochord. Fortunately, I had this feeling at no other time on the album, which is lasting 47 minutes. The first single, "Keep the Car Running", and "The Well and the Lighthouse" will be undoubtedly favorite ones in concert, whereas "Intervention" and "Ocean of Noise" bring us back to a known and appreciated territory. You will hear some French sentences on a couple of occasions and it’s much more interesting to hear them sung by the pleasant voice of Régine Chassagne, as in "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations", than by Win Butler in "Black Mirror". "(Antichrist Television Blues)" starts in a surprising way with an almost country acoustic guitar, but we become accustomed to it quickly and we finally think that it is not country. This track has 3 pages of lyrics that Butler sings without any pause for 5 minutes. Neon Bible is once again an album which requires several listenings, since it has different facets and that the musical richness is hiding many subtleties. The album is excellent, but it’s impossible for me to find it as good as the previous one, the surprise effect not being here anymore. The deluxe version of the album offers a very beautiful 3D case and cards to make animations. It is pleasant to unpack it just like a gift, but after 5 minutes, there’s nothing interesting remaining about this deluxe version on which we can find the exact same musical content as on the regular version, obviously less expensive. With this new record, full of creativity, The Arcade Fire passes admirably the test of the 2nd album. (April 2007 Featured Review)

Tim Armstrong - A Poet's Life (CD + DVD)

Tim Armstrong, A Poet's Life (CD + DVD)

After having founded the bands Operation Ivy, Rancid and Transplants, plus the record label Hellcat Records, Tim Armstrong presents now his first solo album. He is accompanied by the reggae band The Aggrolites which helped him to produce an album of a great simplicity integrating especially reggae, but also ska. On the other hand, forget the punk sound of Rancid with powerful guitars. Here, we can hear particularly discrete guitars, often acoustic, coated with sober arrangements. My favorite song of the CD is certainly the ska/pop "Into Action", a track with a good beat and an unforgettable melody featuring the singer Skye Sweetnam. Armstrong impresses throughout the record by his voice. It’s too bad that the album fades a bit in the second half because of some clichés and repeated sounds because it could have become a superb album. The fans of Armstrong will find something interesting anyway, especially thanks to a bonus DVD containing videos for each track of the CD. All the clips were created from the same black and white style and don’t really impress visually, but it’s more interesting anyway than listening to the CD without visual. (July 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Ash - Twilight Of The Innocents

Ash - Twilight Of The Innocents

The alternative rock group from Northern Ireland Ash is back with a new album, 15 years after its beginnings. Ash returns as a trio to present us what they say should be their last album, because of the changes which occur in musical industry making it more favorable to release only singles. If it is indeed their last album, one can say that it is successful, since we can hear their best CD in many years. It’s true that Ash always evolved in a style which was largely overexploited since a dozen years and that their sound is not so different from all the other bands. The fact remains that the guys present here some quite good songs, of which the hit "You Can't Have It All" with its very good beat, the ballad "Polaris" with its imposing orchestrations and "End Of The World". Certain tracks are a little less huge and leave us somewhat indifferent, but the whole album is fun to listen. (November 2007)

Infectious / Warner

½

Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold

Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold

After the City Of Evil album which brought them at the stardom level, the guys of Avenged Sevenfold were very excited to go back into the studio to record a new album. They were locked up by themselves in the studio to work on a record which would serve “to blast some heavy shit out the window” for their young fans. So, we discover now this very simple eponymous album which wants to be a return to the basis of metal with many winks at the Eighties, while preserving their unique rhythm section and their solos in the Yngwie Malmsteen style. After the excellent “Critical Acclaim” and “Almost Easy” which start strongly the CD, we lose certain metal elements which made them so unique on their previous album. Some tracks, too much polished, rather bring us in a common pop rock sound. The occasional inclusion of violin, piano, brass and even of a children’s choir (on “Unbound (The Wild Ride)”) can give the impression of a richer sound, but it has the opposite effect whereas one feels a discordance with the base of their style. We can hear a weird track in the Mr. Bungle style, “A Little Piece Of Heaven”, which is undoubtedly different, but not really impressive. The voice of M. Shadows presents on this new CD a great evolution compared to the past, mainly because he had to have a surgery to his vocal cords and to work with a vocal coach. His voice reminds us per moments of Chris Cornell and on other occasions of Mike Patton. In spite of an interesting energy and an unquestionable evolution, this new album by Avenged Sevenfold unfortunately doesn’t present compositions as great as on their previous CD. (January 2008 Featured Review)

Warner

Bad Religion - New Maps Of Hell

Bad Religion, New Maps Of Hell

New Maps Of Hell is the 14th album in 25 years by the Californian punk rock group Bad Religion. We hear a few big differences compared to their previous recordings, except for a largely improved rhythm section. The new comer Brooks Wackerman on drums, a young wonder, is certainly the main reason of this improvement. But also, the production of Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age) who succeeds in emphasizing the energy of their beginnings with new sounds of bass and drums. It’s particularly obvious when we listen to the first 4 tracks of the CD and we discover Bad Religion more aggressive than ever. On the other hand, this aggressiveness is limited to the unique rhythm and it’s not applicable at all to the voice of Greg Graffin which too often misses energy, as it was the case for most of the last records of the group in the last 15 years. As much his voice characterizes the sound of the group, as much it seems too often mechanical, without passion. Fortunately, there are some important exceptions like the energetic "Murder" who comes to awake us at the 10th track, and this in hardly more than one minute. On the 16 tracks presented here, more than a half have the energy and the creativity to be easily compared with the best recordings of the group. There are unfortunately some titles which point out a little too much the hollow period of the group in the 90’s and which again come to ruin everything. It’s unfortunate that these weaker moments catch our attention that much, because New Maps Of Hell is perhaps their best album since Against The Grain in 1990... (August 2007)

Epitaph

½

Bang Lime - Best Friends In Love

Bang Lime, Best Friends In Love

Bang Lime is a duo formed by the rhythm section of Metric, the drummer Joules Scott-Key and the bass player Joshua Winstead (guitarist and singer on this project). The two friends have known each other for 16 years and always played in the same groups during years. They benefited from a pause of Metric (whereas Emily Haines wished to work in solo) to work on this album which is well different from the sound of Metric because it’s much heavier. They explore rather here the garage punk and the 60’s blues genres with a indie rock sound with catchy melodies and effective beats we can compare most of all with The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their music is particularly creative and the weaknesses are rare on Best Friends In Love. In fact, the only negative point that I could find, it’s a too great uniformity whereas certain tracks seem similar to others a little too much. The voice of Winstead has something to do with it too, because we are well far from the vocal possibilities of Emily Haines, even if he has a solid voice. At the end, Bang Lime offers despite everything an energetic album and it’s extremely pleasant to listen to it from the beginning to the end. This is one of the good side projects I heard for a long time and it could extremely well live during several years independently of Metric. (September 2007 Featured New Artist)

Last Gang

½

Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked Ladies Are Men

Barenaked Ladies, Barenaked Ladies Are Men

After the album Barenaked Ladies Are Me issued in September 2006, the Toronto-based group comes back with Barenaked Ladies Are Men. 14 of the 16 songs offered here appeared on a special edition of the previous one which contained a bonus CD. They added 2 other tracks to make a great album of it, perhaps even better than Barenaked Ladies Are Me. The melodies are once again of a great effectiveness and songs like "Serendipity", "One and Only", "Angry People", "Down to Earth" and "Running out of Ink" will undoubtedly catch your attention. The CD has a direction generally more pop and energetic than the previous album and the possible hits are numerous. We can say to conclude about these 2 new albums by Barenaked Ladies that perhaps they do not represent the climax of their career in terms of creativity, but they can certainly be regarded as a good double album, with the advantage of being sold in 2 distinct pieces. Therefore, those who have a restricted budget can choose one or the other, but I advise them to buy this one. (April 2007)

Warner

½

Roz Bell - The First Sunbeams

Kevin Rosaire Bellemare (Roz Bell) grew up in a small village north of Toronto. As of his youth, he bathed in country music, listening to some of the greatest classics. The First Sunbeams is his very first album and it gives us a pop rock sound with folk, country, reggae and hip hop influences. We can partly compare him with James Blunt and Jack Johnson, but many other names can come to your mind throughout the record. You certainly already know his hits “Yesterday Man (I'm So Lonely)” and “Papercut” which play in loop on the radio. If you like them, you will appreciate undoubtedly this whole album which doesn’t contain anything revolutionary but is rather pleasant to the ear. The singer has a cordial voice which is ideal to deliver his light and really catchy pop melodies. His music contains deepness but stays simple and easily reachable. It’s a good first test by this artist whom it will be necessary to check out closely in the future. (January 2008)

Enacy / Universal

Benny Benassi - Cooking for Pump-Kin - Special Menu

Benny Benassi, Cooking for Pump-Kin - Special Menu

Benny Benassi is an Italian DJ which was most of all successful in 2003 with the mega hit "Satisfaction". Then, "Able to Love" also made the dance floors shake, but not with the same impact however. The famous techno/house DJ comes back now with a new album of remixes. This is a special compilation to support his January and February Canadian tour. On the contrary of the Hypnotica album, this one has more variety and it’s more difficult to compare everything with "Satisfaction". The closest is the instrumental "First Stroke" of John Acquavina with synthetizers on a cold beat. We can hear new versions of tracks by Moby ("Go"), Fedde le Grand, Chris Lake, Sono, Paul Oakenfold ("Sex N Money" with the voice of hip hop singer Pharrell Williams) and Depeche Mode ("Everything Counts") opening the album. Benassi also presents at the very end of the CD a new version of "Love is Gonna Save Us" first included on Hypnotica. Cooking for Pump-Kin is a particularly well finished album, perfectly mixed for more than 68 minutes. On the other hand, I must say that we have a bad habit to seek a hit at the same level than "Satisfaction", except that it does not exist on this album. Even if many tracks will make people dance, none of the tracks will live outside the clubs to play on commercial radios. Among the most interesting ones, there are the ones by Moby, Bodyrox, TV Rock, Fedde le Grand and Sharam. It’s an album which will appreciate the fans of dancing techno music, without breaking any standard. (March 2007)

Sphère

Biffy Clyro - Puzzle

Biffy Clyro - Puzzle

Biffy Clyro is a Scottish pop punk group which was formed almost 10 years ago. On the other hand, they were not able to catch attention before this year in spite of the recording of 3 albums before Puzzle. This new CD, recorded in Vancouver and mixed in New York City, finally made it possible for them to go on tour with a major band like Bloc Party, in addition of opening for Muse, the Rolling Stones and The Who on different occasions. The group could also present its own concert, particularly in festivals. In North America, the group belonged to Vans Warped Tour and stopped in Toronto and Montreal. Puzzle is an album which definitively brings the group to another level, passably moving away from punk music for rather joining Franz Ferdinand, Weezer, Foo Fighters and brit pop of the late Nineties. The trio presents solid compositions which don’t have anything to envy to the most important artists on the current pop rock scene. We realize quickly that they are talented musicians who have a large experience. The melodies are effective and some will stay in your mind for a long time. The group already offered us 5 singles from Puzzle: “Semi-Mental”, “Saturday Superhouse”, “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies”, “Folding Stars” and “Machines”. This is a very good album, by a group to be discovered. (January 2008)

14th Floor / Warner

½

Björk - Volta

Björk, Volta

It’s always quite difficult to make a review about an album by Björk since we hear always so much experimentation and creativity that it’s impossible to find it musically uninteresting. It’s once again the case with Volta, her 5th album (excluding her soundtracks and compilations). She wanted to return to a funniest CD after the serious things she did in the last years. She also brings back the danceable beats which were the best parts of her 2 first albums. Volta thus represents a happy mixture between her dance electro of the 90’s and the experimentation of the 2000’s. Brasses have also a great importance at various moments of the album, whereas interludes of boat sounds create the links between each piece. Several guests collaborate on the disc like Timbaland and Konono No 1 on the first track, "Earth Intruders", which is also the first single, the more danceable song and the best of the CD. Timbaland comes back a little later with the very good "Innocence", whereas one of my favorite ones is certainly the almost punk "Declare Independence" which would have been less surprising if it had been played by Peaches. We can hear at different moments another guest, Antony from Antony And The Johnsons, mainly on the ballad "The Dull Flame Of Desire" on which both sing in duet. For the first time in many years, Björk sings really rather than to murmur. Musically, I’m divided because she offers first quality tracks, but also ballads with brasses howling in background which can tire us rather quickly. Also, I always had difficulties to follow her in her experimentation. If it’s not your case and if you were always fascinated by her voice, her experimentation and her universe, you will certainly not have any problems to jump in this new recording of great quality. (June 2007)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Black Sabbath - The Dio Years

Black Sabbath, The Dio Years

Many people will say that the only listenable albums of Black Sabbath after the departure of Ozzy Osbourne were recorded with Ronnie James Dio (ex-Elf and Rainbow). I agree even if Dio recorded only 3 studio albums with the band. There were several Black Sabbath compilations throughout the years, but a few succeeded in emphasizing on the best of the albums with Dio. So, here is finally a compilation of Black Sabbath with exclusively Dio as singer. We can hear 5 tracks from Heaven And Hell, 4 from Mob Rules and 3 from Dehumanizer (recorded at the time of the return of Dio with the group in 1992). We can also hear a live version of "Children Of The Sea" which appeared on the 1982 live album Live Evil. Finally, the guys met again lately to give concerts (under the name of Heaven And Hell) and they present 3 newly recorded songs. It’s an excellent album presenting everything the band did with Dio on the microphone chronologically. The detailed booklet gives us in addition the different stages of their collaboration. (June 2007)

Rhino / Warner

½

Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

Bloc Party, A Weekend in the City

A Weekend in the City is the 2nd album by London indie rock band Bloc Party. Their first album, Silent Alarm, had been acclaimed by critics and had been a huge success in England in 2005. With this new record, the quartet wished to go into a totally other direction, with a sound that has nothing to do with Bloc Party. Their music remains completely eclectic anyway with single beats that are not easy to domesticate. We can compare them to Muse and The Cure, with elements of Sonic Youth and Aphex Twin. The guitar riffs are effective, even if they can sometimes seem repetitive, and the rhythm section (bass and drums) is heavy. The group succeeds in admirably well mixing the heavy sounds with the emotive texts of Kele Okereke. The album begins strongly with "Song for Clay (Disappear Here)" and "Hunting Witches". Thereafter, few titles arise truly from the package except for the first single "The Prayer" and the future hit "I Still Remember". This is an album which, oddly, offers a kind of uniformity in spite of its eclecticism. Several listenings are necessary before really being able to form an opinion, but that effort is largely rewarded. Whereas Silent Alarm had a beautiful freshness, A Weekend in the City shows us rather that the group reached a certain level of maturity, surely the result of their 2 years of intense touring which exhausted all of them. I couldn’t say this new album reaches the level of creativity of their first one, but it acts anyway as an extremely solid album with great moments. (March 2007)

Vice / Warner

½

Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles

Blue Rodeo - Small Miracles

The Canadian country rock band Blue Rodeo was founded in 1987 in Toronto by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. Twenty years later and after having sold more than 3 million album copies, the group offers us its 11th record, Small Miracles. This new CD offers a few great surprises, remaining in a country/folk rock style reminding us of Buffalo Springfield, Bob Dylan and The Byrds, but which includes also British influences of the late Sixties. Among the most recent artists with whom they can be compared to, there are Wilco and Tom Petty which come to our mind on various occasions. Even if Small Miracles remains in the style which made them known for without great misdemeanors (except perhaps for the bossa nova of “Together”), it remains that it offers very good compositions with unforgettable melodies (“This Town”, “Blue House”, “3 Hours Away”, and so on). The first single, the dynamic “C’mon”, arrives as far as at the 10th track and it will be followed by 3 more introspective tracks to conclude the CD. With this new album, the guys of Blue Rodeo prove to us that they are still in great shape and they offer us their best record since about fifteen years. (December 2007)

Warner

½

James Blunt - All The Lost Souls

James Blunt - All The Lost Souls

Thanks to his first album, Back To Bedlam, in 2005, the British singer James Blunt became one of the most popular artists in the world in a very short period of time. It is thus with a lot of pressure on his shoulders that he offers his new CD, All The Lost Souls. His fans won’t be too much lost since he continues in the same direction than with his previous one, in spite of a very beautiful evolution. It remains in the adult pop rock genre, but it flirts somewhat with folk music, which makes it possible to compare him with Neil Young, Cat Stevens and Elton John. The melodies are of first quality and he can count on splendid orchestral arrangements for wrapping his music well. You certainly already know the hit "1973" which is played in all the radios throughout the world since its release. Several other tracks have the potential to get as much success of which "One Of The Brightest Stars" and "I'll Take Everything". All The Lost Souls is at least as good as his previous one and there is no reason so that it does not obtain as much success. (November 2007 Featured Review)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Bon Jovi - Lost Highway

Bon Jovi - Lost Highway

For 20 years, we cannot say that Bon Jovi was particularly effective from a creative point of view. Except perhaps for Crush released in 2000, few albums really succeeded in catching the attention of critics. Despite everything, the group continued to sell millions of albums and to fill arenas on tour (with concerts based on their material of the Eighties of course). The coming of Lost Highway thus left me rather indifferent and this is why I awaited a hollow in the release of major albums to write some lines about it. At first, this new record can seem adventurous whereas the group makes a crossing between its usual hard rock style and contemporary country music. It’s an interesting mixture which makes the group progress in a beautiful way. On the other hand, the band remains to its best when it presents catchy pop melodies like it’s the case for the title-song, the ballad “(You Want To) Make A Memory” and “Whole Lot Of Leavin'”. Obviously, one still finds a batch of unbearable ballads which became their trademark. As a whole, Lost Highway is far from being a bad album, but it will not make it possible yet for the group to change the face of music. At least, they tried to move forward. (February 2008 Featured Review)

The Book Of Knots - Traineater

The Book Of Knots, Traineater

The Book Of Knots is a collective from New York City which was formed in 2003. It’s composed of Matthias Bossi, Joel Hamilton, Tony Maimone and Carla Kihlstedt, musicians who played (or still play) with artists like Elvis Costello, Unsane, Pere Ubu, Frank Black, They Might Be Giants, Tom Waits and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. The quartet envisaged releasing 3 conceptual albums and here is the 2nd of the series. This one depicts the sad portrait of the American industrial towns like Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo and Detroit. These cities, which were very prosperous in the past, are found today with practically abandoned industrial districts. The group offers us an experimental and rather difficult to approach post rock sound which can go from the heaviest metal to a soft pop alternative rock sound, while passing by free jazz and industrial. We can obviously compare them to Tom Waits, even if the pretty voice of Carla Kihlstedt is very far from Waits’ voice. Besides, he is among the guests we can hear on the CD, as well as Mike Watt, David Thomas, Jon Langford and Carla Bozulich. In spite of a little weaker second half, it’s a very creative album The Book Of Knots proposes in this second part of their trilogy. On the other hand, their music is definitely not accessible to all and it’s necessary to be either a large fan of experimental music or an open-minded person ready to make a particular effort by listening to the album a few times before truly appreciating it. (June 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Michael Bublé - Call Me Irresponsible

Michael Bublé, Call Me Irresponsible (Special Edition)

Michael Bublé, it’s this crooner from Vancouver which has given us for 4 years a panoply of classics revisited in the vocal jazz genre with orchestrations. He succeeds anyway in giving a modern pop flavor to these recordings, going back as far as in 1932 on Call Me Irresponsible, his most recent album. Among the most memorable classics, we must mention "It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera)" of Henry Mancini, "Me And Mrs. Jones" of Billy Paul, "I'm Your Man" of Leonard Cohen, "Wonderful Tonight" of Eric Clapton (in duet with Ivan Lins in a unique version) and "Always On My Mind" of Willie Nelson. Other standards of the 60’s cannot be overlooked like the title-song and "Comin' Home Baby" (with the voices of Boyz II Men). It’s none other than David Foster who ensures the production and arrangements which are of first quality. I was surprised to see the name of the rock producer Bob Rock on "Everything", but don’t worry because his style cannot be heard in the song. Among the 14 tracks of the CD, we find only 2 new compositions by Bublé, "Lost" and "Everything". If you like the modern crooner genre, Bublé is definitely the guy to discover and he will succeed in making you appreciate once again all these classics. This special edition contains a bonus track ("Love") and a 24-page booklet. A regular version is also available. (August 2007)

Reprise / Warner

½

Buck 65 - Situation (CD + DVD)

Buck 65 - Situation (CD + DVD)

Richard Terfry, better known as Buck 65, is back with a new album, Situation. The rapper from Nova Scotia now offers us an album about the year 1957, including the song with that title. According to him, the events of 1957 determined everything we can see today, 50 years later. From Elvis Presley, who made rock n’ roll popular, to the first American nuclear tests, everything seems to have taken an important turning at that precise time in history. The album title was inspired by the organization Situationist International founded in Italy in 1957. Musically, it offers us the same alternative type of rap which made him known until now, without much evolution. After the very good "1957", "Dang" is almost embarrassing whereas its chorus reminds us a little too much about "Bawitdaba" by Kid Rock. Throughout the CD, one finds a groovy music which is pleasant to listen, but doesn’t reverse any barrier. His fans won’t be too much mixed up and will still appreciate, but I have big doubts that he can accommodate a new audience with Situation. The limited edition with a DVD is completely useless whereas one finds a short film of less than 10 minutes around the topic of 1957, as well as an interview and other bonus features to fill the DVD and to try to justify its presence. You can definitively satisfy yourself with the regular version without the DVD. (January 2008)

Warner

½

Busdriver - RoadKillOvercoat

Busdriver, RoadKillOvercoat

Regan Farquhar, better known as Busdriver, played in the hip hop underground of Los Angeles since he was a young teen. After a 2nd album very appreciated by the fans and the critics (Temporary Forever), Busdriver had a little more difficulties when he was ignored by many hip hop fans. This new album will maybe bring back those lost fans, even if the experiment is still well present. The album begins strongly with the excellent "Casting Agents and Cowgirls", a song we have in mind for a long time. After that, we are in fact in the indie hip hop because we need a couple of listens to really appreciate. Busdriver’s music is creative for sure, but hardly reachable, despite very good beats. There is "Secret Skin" which brings us in a pop direction that will maybe reach a larger audience, as well as "Sun Shower" which is having an interesting danceable beat in the Depeche Mode style. To conclude, this is a good album he gives us, an album that can catch our curiosity, but that won’t make history. (February 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Caribou - Andorra

Caribou is in fact a guy by himself in the studio, Dan Snaith, becoming a quartet on stage. They play an indie pop/electronic sound most of the time soft and rather creative which reminds us of the Californian pop sound of the Sixties (Beach Boys, The Mamas & The Papas). Named Manitoba before, Caribou is now presenting its 2nd album, its more accomplished at this time. As soon as at the opening track, "Melody Day", we can certainly hear the best composition of Snaith’s career. The very particular atmosphere of the CD will involve us without any problems until the end of the 9 excellent songs adding up 43 minutes. I acknowledge that I didn’t wait for anything in particular to the listening of Andorra, but I was very impressed by it. To be discovered... (February 2008)

Merge

Manu Chao - La Radiolina

Manu Chao - La Radiolina

Here is a new album by this former member of Mano Negra which pursues a solo career since already ten years. The French man with a Spanish background again gives us an album with Latin colors with especially obvious elements of rock on tracks like “Rainin In Paradize” and “The Bleedin Clown”. He sings primarily in Spanish, but with occasional lyrics in English, Italian and French. The major part of the CD is very warm, typically Mediterranean, a music which would certainly not displease in Latin America. Always energetic, even in its softest moments, the music of Manu Chao unceasingly has the advantage of being involving. This is music of the world which wants to be ideal to bring the people together. In spite of an occasional lack of creativity, Radiolina is an extremely effective album with few annoying moments, an album which is extremely likely to turn in loop in your home. In bonus, you can hear 5 additional tracks and a multimedia portion presents us the video for “Rainin In Paradize” which shows touching images of the atrocities of war in Africa. (November 2007)

Warner

½

Chiodos - Bone Palace Ballet

Chiodos - Bone Palace Ballet

After a first album of quality with All’s Well That Ends Well, Chiodos is back with Bone Palace Ballet. Whereas the first record was extremely eclectic, almost difficult to follow per moments, this new album brings the group much further with a greater cohesion. They are in a territory skillfully occupied by Coheed and Cambria and My Chemical Romance, but their music of a great creativity differentiates them from the mass of the post hardcore and emo bands. Perhaps does the group try to make competition with Fall Out Boy with incredible titles like "Is It Progression If A Cannibal Uses A Fork?", "Bulls Make Money, Bears Make Money, Pigs Get Slaughtered" and "If I Cut My Hair, Hawaii Will Sink", but in any event, it approaches them somewhat musically on certain occasions. Bone Palace Ballet caused a whole surprise at its release reaching #5 of Billboard Top 200 with sales of 39,000 copies at its first week. It is an exceptional performance for an unknown group by a large audience which does not have a contract with a major label. It acts as an excellent album with imposing orchestrations which any amateur of emo and post hardcore music is extremely likely to appreciate. (November 2007)

Equal Vision

Circa Survive - On Letting Go

Circa Survive, On Letting Go

After a first album that I had liked and which was an astonishing success, the group from Philadelphia Circa Survive is back with a CD even more solid. They once again offer us a very good fusion of emo, post hardcore and progressive, which gives them a single sound rather difficult to compare. We can try to associate them with My Chemical Romance, Coheed and Cambria and The Mars Volta, but it remains that they have a unique style and they develop it still a little more on On Letting Go. If Juturna represented a good first album, this one almost brings them to the top of their career. Not bad for a group which was formed only 3 years ago. Circa Survive is definitely a band to discover because we will hear about them for a long time. (September 2007)

Equal Vision

½

Danny Cohen - Shades Of Dorian Gray

Danny Cohen, Shades of Dorian Gray

Danny Cohen was a part of a "punk" group as far as in the early Sixties, Charleston Grotto. Thereafter, he had an underground career, remaining always completely apart of the musical industry. He offers us a rock and folk sound, completely experimental and most of the time not accessible. On the other hand, with Shades of Dorian Gray, the experts talk without hesitations about his most accessible album at this time. I’m not one of those specialists, but I admit I have problems to hear this music as accessible. For sure, it’s true his voice is more melodic than Tom Waits’ for example, but this music, built around organ and accompanied by a beat box and a discrete acoustic guitar, did not show me many elements to reach a certain level of success. Some moments rather made me think of music composed for a dark movie, psychological drama type. I’m not the kind to be moved by this type of weird music and I had many problems to appreciate it as much as some other critics. The fans of Tom Waits or any other experimental music will probably have more interest than me. (April 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Holly Cole - Holly Cole

Holly Cole, Holly Cole

After many albums recorded in trio (Holly Cole Trio), the Canadian jazz singer Holly Cole went in solo at the beginning of the decade, even if her friends David Piltch and Aaron Davis continued to work with her. She comes back now without her long time colleagues and she works with a whole new band of musicians, including the pianist Gil Goldstein, for this eponymous album. Once again, she revisits jazz standards and makes them splendid thanks to her incomparable voice, skillfully developed by the perfect production of Greg Cohen which co-produces with her. A few of these standards are very known from a large audience, but we have to mention anyway the cover of songs of Henry Mancini ("Charade", co-written by Johnny Mercer), Cole Porter (the excellent "It's Alright With Me") and Irving Berlin ("Be Careful, It's My Heart" and "Reaching For The Moon"). Among the 11 tracks of the album, we hear only one original song which she composed herself, the very good "Larger Than Life". The warm voice of Holly Cole remains always a judicious choice for enveloping and romantic background music, with the filtered lights and a fire of hearth. Without reinventing the genre, she offers anyway a version of her own which will not only please her fans, but jazz fans in general. (August 2007)

Alert / Universal

½

Collective Soul - Afterwords

Collective Soul - Afterwords

With Youth, their previous album issued in 2004, the group from Georgia Collective Soul brought us in a world we didn’t know about them while presenting glam rock. The result was surprising and rather interesting. Afterwords brings us back now in a better known territory, a territory explored 10 years ago not only by them, but also by several other pop rock bands that were a result of the post grunge period. The beats and guitars are still as effective, but with a greater intimacy on most of the songs, which are, it should be said, all love songs. Among those which arise among others, let’s note the opening track, the powerful "New Vibration", which has the quality to catch our attention for the rest of the CD. After some effective songs that don’t have anything particular, "I Don't Need Anymore Friends", composed and sung by the guitarist Joel Kosche, offers us a different sound than Ed Roland’s compositions, Roland having composed everything else, as usual. A little later, we can hear the very good power pop hit "Hollywood" which is an instant classic of the group to be added to their already long list of hits in career. Kosche also took part in the music composition on this one, which makes us say that Roland should perhaps leave a little more place to his lead guitarist for the writing. I also like the following song, "Persuasion Of You", but as a whole, it’s an album which points out a little too much the past of the band without a big evolution. The fans of Collective Soul will be able once again to appreciate, but without any surprises. Afterwords is a good pop rock album, but which will not make history. (October 2007 Featured Review)

El Music / Warner

John Coltrane - The Very Best Of The Atlantic Years

John Coltrane - The Very Best Of The Atlantic Years

John Coltrane is a true jazz legend, although he was active for only a short period between 1955 and his death in 1967 (his solo career started only in 1960). After having worked with great names like Miles Davis and Milt Jackson, he decided to go on his own before forming his own legendary quartet in company of McCoy Tyner (piano), Steve Davis (bass) and Elvin Jones (drums). These are these 2 periods that we find here whereas we explore the years 1959 to 1964. We can hear several tracks from the classic album Giant Steps (1959). In one week only, in October 1960, the quartet recorded enough material to fill up 3 albums: the excellent My Favorite Things (1961), Coltrane Plays The Blues (1962) and Coltrane’s Sound (1964). We also find here tracks from the album Coltrane Jazz (1961). Finally, we can hear the bossa nova of "Aisha" issued on Olé! (1962), as well as a track with Milt Jackson, "Stairway To The Stars", recorded in 1959 for the album Bags & Trane which was only released in 1961. Even if this compilation does not completely cover the career of Coltrane, we can hear all his best material on this CD. Moreover, with its 15 titles filling the CD at full capacity, it’s a jazz compilation of a great value which is offered to us here. It acts definitely as the best way to discover this jazz giant. (October 2007)

Warner

Ry Cooder - My Name Is Buddy

Ry Cooder, My Name Is Buddy

After several years of work with Cuban legends, Ry Cooder comes back to the genre of his beginnings in the 70’s, folk music. He offers us here a brilliant album which depicts the problems of the United States in the 30’s. It’s with a humor tone that he presents those difficult years through various characters: Buddy Red Cat, Lefty Mouse and Reverend Tom Toad. This CD is offered in a splendid 50-page hard cover book presenting each of the 17 tracks of the CD with a short text and an illustration. The weaknesses are rare on this excellent record which will compete greatly with his best albums in career released in the early 70’s. This is probably also one of the best albums of creative folk music to have been released in the last couple of years. (September 2007)

Nonesuch / Warner

Corneille - The Birth Of Cornelius

Corneille, The Birth of Cornelius

After 2 albums which were a huge success as much in France that in Quebec, Corneille gives us now his first album in English, certainly hoping to conquer new territories. He not only wrote the 12 tracks of the record, but produced it too. He asked Russel Elevado (Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu) for the recording, the mixing and the sound engineering, as well as Larry Gold (Whitney Houston, R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake) for string arrangements. With The Birth of Cornelius, Corneille remains in the style he was known for, even if he perhaps goes a little more in his soul and R&B roots (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole). The album begins strongly with the excellent "Back To Life", but it’s the 3rd of the CD, "Too Much Of Everything", which succeeded in catching my attention. Among the others, a few were able to create a similar reaction, whereas it’s very necessary to be a fan of soul, R&B and/or Corneille to really appreciate, which is not my case. Corneille has undoubtedly all it needs to seduce the Americans and we wish him all the success in becoming known by them. (September 2007)

Déjà / Warner

½

The Cribs - Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever

The Cribs - Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever

The Cribs is an indie rock band from England which impresses in its native land since its debut in 2005. The trio is composed of the twins Ryan and Gary Jarman accompanied by their little brother Ross on drums. Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever finally enables them to be discovered in America. The album was produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. It represents a mix between The Strokes, The Futureheads, Weezer and Bloc Party, a good fusion of American indie rock and brit pop finally. The most important problem with The Cribs, it’s that they work in a genre which was exploited at its full potential in the last years and they don’t really succeed in dissociating from other similar artists. Well, there are a few very good moments with particular beats and excellent melodies, but we actually find only one song which is in a class of its own, "Be Safe", which arrives as far as at the 10th track (on a total of 12). It’s nevertheless a good album the fans of Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes and Weezer are likely to like largely, but it’s unfortunately not the creative group the British claimed they were sending us. (October 2007)

Warner

Crimson Glory - Astronomica (1999) (2007 re-edition)

Crimson Glory, Astronomica (2 CD) (1999) (2007 re-edition)

After having disintegrated in the early 90’s, the progressive metal band Crimson Glory made a comeback in 1999 with several new faces. Nobody was awaiting it anymore, but they succeeded in surprising us with a particularly good album. There is for sure the voice of the new singer, Wade Black, which can push back several listeners whereas it points out a little too much King Diamond when he goes up in the highest notes. But musically, the varied influences of the band give us an album with a vast spectrum and with a very beautiful energy. We can still compare them with Queensrÿche, but we must add Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rush, Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie. The CD contains even the cover of Enya "March To Glory" in opening. This re-edition of the album offers a 2nd disc containing a different version for "War Of The Worlds", demos of "Touch The Sun" and the title-song, and 5 live versions of their classics ("Dragon Lady", "Eternal World", "Painted Skies", "Queen Of The Masquerade" and "Lost Reflection") recorded in 1989. You will thus have much for your money... (July 2007)

Metal Mind / MVD

½

Crimson Glory - Strange & Beautiful

Crimson Glory, Strange And Beautiful (1991) (2007 re-edition)

Crimson Glory is certainly one of the most important progressive metal bands of the 80’s with Queensrÿche. They reached the top with Transcendence in 1988 which had a certain success in the underground. When time had come to record its successor, Strange And Beautiful, the pressure was enormous and the band had its problems. They tried to evolve, but the result is rather weak. More accessible, their music lost that experimental progressive direction they had before that made them so interesting. They became with this album a common hard rock band among so much of others of the same period. We find here the re-edition of this album with a remastered sound, a sound of the years 2000. Thereafter, the group quickly disintegrated before reappearing in 1999 with several new members for the album Astronomica. (June 2007)

Metal Mind / MVD

½

Daft Punk - Alive 2007

Daft Punk - Alive 2007

Here is the 2nd live album for Daft Punk, 10 years after Alive 1997 which was possibly the best electronic concert album ever issued. Recorded at the Omnisport Palace in Paris Bercy in June 2007, this new album by the French duo presents obviously all of their greatest hits (“Around The World”, “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, “One More Time”, “Da Funk”, and so on). They all are admirably mixed together during 74 minutes over which we can hear the crowd react on several occasions to the concert they are attending. Whereas the previous live album presented a handle of tracks only but stretched very much, here we can count 5 times more tracks, very often curtailed and being used only as transition towards another. The pieces from the album Human After All seem to take again a place of choice in this context, even if little among them dissociates truly from the batch. The few titles a little weaker than we can hear scattered a little everywhere throughout the concert make so that Alive 2007 cannot be included in the same category than the first album of the series, but it’s anyway a very good concert album. The deluxe edition includes a 2nd CD containing the 10-minute encore of the concert (with “Human After All”, “Together”, “One More Time (Reprise)” and “Music Sounds Better With You”). There is also a bonus video presenting the track “Harder Better Faster Stronger”. The whole is offered to us in a very beautiful rigid cover book containing several photographs of the concert. (February 2008)

Virgin / EMI

Damiera - M(US)IC

Damiera, M(us)ic

Damiera is a new alternative band from Buffalo, NY. After an EP in 2005, the band recorded its first album, M(us)ic (pronounce "Us in Music") in 2006. They sold it only by hand to hand and the word of mouth gave them the opportunity to make nearly 200 concerts in 2006 and catch the attention of Equal Vision Records which signed them in the summer of 2006. They re-released that first album by Damiera, the album opening the doors for them to the music industry. The CD was produced by Jayson DeZuzio (Coheed and Cambria and My Chemical Romance) which solidified the album, bringing a little more cohesion to it. We can compare Damiera to At The Drive-In and The Fall Of Troy, with also elements of Coheed and Cambria, especially for the high and yelling voice. The group offers particular beats rather difficult for us to tame. Their style of progressive rock also reminded me at some points of the Canadian group Rush. Technically, this is clearly very well done, but there is some remaining work to do in a creative point of view to give us the desire to discover a little more about them. The main problem is we don’t keep anything from the album at the end, except maybe for the good melody of "Broken Hands" as far as at the 9th track. Even if we listen to the CD once, twice and 3 times, it doesn’t seem to have something more to catch. It’s perhaps simply a little too eclectic with almost elements of free jazz. This is a group with a nice future, but they won’t reach many people with this first record. (March 2007)

Equal Vision

Miles Davis - The Very Best of Miles Davis: The Warner Bros. Sessions 1985-1991

Miles Davis, The Very Best Of Miles Davis: The Warner Bros. Sessions 1985-1991

It’s almost impossible to present a complete and effective compilation with the best material of the jazz legend Miles Davis. With a career of more than 40 years and an incalculable number of albums piled up through the years, the only way of compiling on 1 or 2 discs is to choose a portion of his career. It’s what was made here whereas Warner presents the best of what he recorded on that label between 1985 and 1991, the last years of his life. We can hear 15 tunes drawn from 3 studio albums (including the excellent Amandla), 2 movie soundtracks and 2 live albums (including 1 with Quincy Jones). What is particular during that era is the use of hip hop (on his last recording, Doo-Bop). So, it adds a new genre to everything he did before because he never hesitated to integrate funk, blues and rock to a rather standard jazz sound. Another element which is particular to the famous trumpet player, it’s that no matter which period they choose to present, the result is always interesting. Davis produced certainly the best atmosphere music in history and it never becomes out of date. This compilation presents other interesting elements like the live recordings with Quincy Jones, including the George Gershwin classic "Summertime", then the cover of Cyndi Lauper’s "Time After Time". This excellent outline of his last recordings, enriched by a quite detailed booklet, makes this compilation a great record and this, even if it covers only a small fraction of the huge work of Davis. (May 2007)

Warner

½

Dear And The Headlight - Small Steps, Heavy Hooves

Dear And The Headlights, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves

Here is a new quintet from Phoenix, Arizona, lately signed to Equal Vision Records, and which can finally present us its first album recorded in April 2006. The group offers a catchy indie rock sound we could compare with The Arcade Fire and Radiohead. Those are important names to qualify this group only known on the Phoenix local scene, but opening concerts for The Bravery, matt pond PA, Make Believe, Idlewild and The Hold Steady gave them the opportunity to be known on a larger scale. Small Steps, Heavy Hooves presents us in my opinion only a vague outline of all the possibilities of this group. The compositions are solid, the melodies, effective, and the energy they present in their play is enormously promising for the stage performance. The acoustic guitar however has an important place in the rock sound of Dear and the Headlights. It's an album the fans of The Arcade Fire will like as much as The Frames fans, but the best from them is definitively to come. A band to check out closely... (April 2007)

Equal Vision

½

Cachao Descargas - The Havana Sessions

Cachao Descargas - The Havana Sessions

Only a few days ago, we heard about the death in Miami of the Cuban musician Israel “Cachao” Lopez at the age of 89. Exiled from Cuba in 1962, the famous double bass player was one of the pioneers of mambo back in 1937 (with his brother Orestes “Macho” Lopez). This double CD issued a few months ago presents for the first time ever on one release his recordings in Havana with various musicians at the time of his last years in Cuba (between 1957 and 1961). A new musical movement was then created, the “descarga” (discharge), made of abstract and interminable improvisations integrating various already popular styles in Cuba. We can hear piano, flute, trumpet, bongos, the conga and African call-and-response vocal choruses inspired from the rumba, as well as saxophones and trombones from the more recent Cuban jazz genre. Obviously, mambo occupies an important place throughout the 2 CDs, which gather in fact 5 recording sessions. So we can find here 39 tracks adding up 152 minutes of an extremely rich and varied Latin music, which benefits of an irreproachable recording quality. This is a whole side of the history of Cuban music which we discover with this excellent album. (April 2008)

Disconforme / MVD

½

Die Mannequin - Slaughter Daughter

Die Mannequin - Slaughter Daughter

Die Mannequin is a band from Toronto which started as a tribute band to Iggy & The Stooges before changing. It’s leaded by the energetic singer Care Failure, a Courtney Love with more voice... Slaughter Daughter is their 2nd EP. It begins strongly with "Do It Or Die" showing immediately all the possibilities the group has and why they were hired to go on tour opening for Billy Talent, Guns N’ Roses, Buckcherry and Deftones. "Saved By Strangers" is reminding us of the unique beat of Queens Of The Stone Age, whereas Sonic Youth comes to our mind at different moments on the CD. Obviously, 5 tracks for a total of a little more than 20 minutes will seem to you quite insufficient, but the record does perfectly its work of catching our attention while waiting for a first full-length album by them. (December 2007)

How To Kill / Warner

½

The Doors - The Very Best of The Doors

The Doors, The Very Best of The Doors

The Doors had an impressive career with 6 albums in 6 years of existence between 1965 and 1971 (their first album was issued in 1967). The premature death of Jim Morrison in July 1971 was going to put an end to the quartet. Thereafter, the myth around the group never stopped, just like Morrison’s legend. Greatest hits collections and box sets piled up with the years, but this is without any doubt the best greatest hits collection to be held on one disc only. Other similar versions were presented in the last 10 years, but The Very Best of The Doors presents nothing less than 20 songs, thanks to a shorter version of "The End" (the one we heard in the film Apocalypse Now). We can hear their most famous hits as soon as at the opening of the CD with "Break on Through (To the Other Side)", "Light My Fire", "Love Me Two Times" and "Hello, I Love You". Moreover, this new collection of hits underlines the 40th anniversary of The Doors with new mixes of the famous songs of the Californian group, which are all included. Obviously, the hardcore fans will not discover anything new, but they will be able to remember good memories anyway. If you are too young to have known that era, this is the perfect CD to discover a whole side of the American culture of the late Sixties. This new compilation of The Doors would be simply perfect if they had been able to present us the tracks in a chronological order... (April 2007)

Rhino / Warner

½

Dragonette - Galore

Dragonette - Galore

Dragonette was formed in Toronto in 2005 by pop singer Martina Sorbara and her husband, bass player Dan Kurtz, with guitarist Simon Craig and drummer Joel Stouffer. The group got an offer for a contract in England and Craig was replaced by the British Will Stapleton. Galore is their first record and it was released after the hit singles “I Get Around”, “Competition” and “Take It Like A Man”, which are all here in this order at the beginning of the CD, and the adaptation of Calvin Harris, “The Girls”, becoming “The Boys” (unfortunately not on Galore). The group plays primarily an energetic pop music with rock and electronic influences. Their new wave style can be compared with Scissor Sisters, Fergie, Pink, Hot Hot Heat and The Killers. “I Get Around” and “Jesus Doesn't Love Me” are certainly the most dynamic of the album with their mixture of very danceable rock and electronic. But, this energy can be found throughout the record, because whatever the style that is put at the foreground, each track has good beats. Other strong moments: “Black Limousine”, “Gold Rush” and “Marvellous”. It’s certainly one of the good pop albums of the year with very few weaknesses. (December 2007 Featured New Artist)

Mercury / Universal

The Drifters - The Greatest Hits

The Drifters, The Greatest Hits

The Drifters is a R&B group which was formed in 1953 and included 57 different members, surely a record. Therefore, the 4 current members don’t have obviously anything to do with the band which had a huge success in the 50’s and 60’s. This compilation contains the greatest hits of the group through their career, but re-recorded by the current members in February 2006. We can hear 20 classics including the mega hits "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Sweet Caroline" and "Kissin' In The Back Row Of The Movies". In bonus, we can view 3 live videos: "A World Of Love" (with Gary Brooker as special guest), "Stand By Me" (in a new gospel version) and "White Christmas". The quality of the recording is exceptional and gives full justice to these classics, but if you want to hear the original versions, this is certainly not the compilation you need. You can also get the DVD Greatest Hits Live. Check it out... (August 2007)

MVD

The Fall Of Troy - Manipulator

The Fall Of Troy, Manipulator

Here is the logical follower to Doppelgänger, their 2nd album released 2 years ago. The young band from Seattle comes back with an album as destabilizing which threatens constantly to smash the barriers of progressive rock. In spite of many catchy melodies rather making the music somewhat accessible, the frequent changes of beat, the complex guitars and the constant experimentation of these young 21 year old musicians make the CD rejecting for a not advised audience. They are once again somewhere between Faith No More and Yes with certain metal moments that would certainly not disavow the guys of System Of A Down. The group experiments a little more than on its previous record, but the result is not better and no track really catches our attention. It’s another good album for the fans of the genre with a great creativity, but it will be difficult to gain the favor of a larger audience. (July 2007)

Equal Vision

Fall Out Boy - Infinity On High

Fall Out Boy, Infinity On High

With From Under the Cork Tree, the Chicago pop punk group Fall Out Boy not only got out of the shade, but had an incomparable success becoming one of the most adulated groups of its kind. The challenge became thus larger as the group had to try to satisfy all this new audience which followed them from then. Infinity On High was in fact produced in a certain tension and we can feel it. Right at the first listening, we have some kind of a shock by having the feeling to hear a new pop rock band. You don’t read the word "punk", but it's because you won’t hear it either on this album by Fall Out Boy, besides some rare influences. We find anyway some energetic tracks, including the first single "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race", but more often it’s a quite common rock sound they present. Except for the young teenage girls, very few people are likely to be touched by this new album which doesn’t have anything like the effectiveness of the previous one. And even these teenagers are likely to lose patience by hearing the piano ballad "Golden". Fortunately that it’s followed by "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" with its powerful rhythm section on the chorus. Other songs will come later to reconcile us with the group ("Bang the Doldrums", "Fame Infamy", etc). But, we will nevertheless have the feeling while arriving at the end of the CD that Fall Out Boy failed in its mission of adequately continuing in the same direction than on From Under the Cork Tree. If happily you succeed in getting hooked by this album, the pleasure should be unfortunately for a short period of time. A deluxe version is also available. (May 2007)

Island / Universal

Farewell - Isn’t This Supposed To Be Fun!?

Farewell - Isn’t This Supposed To Be Fun!?

Farewell is a band from North Carolina formed of 6 guys which decided that they would have a mission of bringing back fun in rock music. Coming from a small city saturated with hardcore metal, they decided to be different with a power pop sound with influences going from the Beach Boys to Green Day. They integrate keyboards into their music, which will dislike their colleagues with a much darker sound. Isn’t This Supposed To Be Fun!? is their first album and it gathers their 13 favorite songs of the last years. I listened to the CD a couple of times and I acknowledge to have had problems finding something to write about it. The group is obviously experimented and solid, but the pop compositions are somewhat insipid and one retains nothing of it. However, the melodies are good and should hang us, but it’s not the case. There’s perhaps “Stay Pretty” which is different from the others, but that’s it. One can compare the band with Motion City Soundtrack and Simple Plan, but you will always prefer to hear an album by one of those two, rather than Farewell. Therefore, their mission is successful only in a half. It’s certain that their music is sunnier than all the hardcore having surrounding them all those years, but I cannot say that I had much fun listening to it… The question of the title thus arises more than ever: “Isn’t This Supposed To Be Fun!? ”. (December 2007)

Epitaph

½

Ibrahim Ferrer - Mi Sueno

Ibrahim Ferrer, Mi Sueno

At the time of his death in August 2005 at the age 78, the Cuban legend Ibrahim Ferrer had started to work on his dream, to carry out an album entirely made up of bolero pieces. He had fortunately already recorded demos of rather good quality of the songs he wished to record for the album, which miraculously made it possible to complete the project by recovering those vocal recordings. So, here is Mi Sueno (My Dream), an album of 12 pieces of bolero. Arrangements are sober with Roberto Fonseca on piano, Manuel Galban on guitar and Orlando Lopez on bass. A drum is added occasionally by Ramses Rodriguez. The album was produced by Fonseca and Nick Gold, except "Melodia del rio" of Ruben Gonzalez which was produced in 1998 by Ry Cooder with Gonzalez on piano. It’s always a little special to listen to a posthumous album and it’s particularly the case here. It’s because that they are obviously the last recordings that Ferrer did before leaving us and that moreover, he was so close to realize his ultimate dream and unfortunately he didn’t succeed when he was alive. We don’t have any choice but thinking of him by listening to this touching album which is nothing less than his will. A very good CD in the Cuban vocal jazz genre... (June 2007)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

Fields - Everything Last Winter

Fields, Everything Last Winter

Fields is a quintet from Birmingham, England which plays an indie rock sound with folk influences. Everything Last Winter is their 1st full-length album after the EP 7 From The Village issued last year. I especially recognized influences of Fleetwood Mac and My Bloody Valentine in these songs strongly textured and with clean arrangements. There is also a little something of Simon & Garfunkel in the most acoustic moments. The female and male vocal harmonies of Thorunn Antonia and Nick Peill create a particularly interesting sound. The melodies are remarkable and the compositions are solid. Several songs contained here don’t have to envy the best recordings of Travis, Coldplay and Radiohead, even if the vocal harmonies and the acoustic guitar seem to be closer to the Californian folk music of the 60's. Here is a quite beautiful finding that I made which I strongly advise. (July 2007 Featured New Artist)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard - Contenders Two : Still In The Running

Valdy & Gary Fjellgaard, Contenders Two : Still In The Running

It’s the reunion of 2 Canadian legends of country/folk music we can see here, the time of a short 33-minute album which wants to be the continuation of a record issued by the end of 1999, Contenders. The 11 tracks offered here are a mixture of original compositions and classics of the genre. What catches our attention as soon as at the first song, "For The Love Of It", it’s the natural with which these 2 characters evolve together, their voices being in perfect fusion. They offer nostalgic songs ("The Fever", "Seven Spanish Angels", etc.) as well as light and merry songs ("VLT", etc). It’s pleasant to listen to the album as a whole and it will certainly be liked by the fans of contemporary country. (September 2007)

Stony Plain

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Foo Fighters - Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

After their 10th anniversary album, In Your Honor, which presented an acoustic CD and a rock CD, the Foo Fighters integrate once again the 2 styles on the same CD. We could even say inside the same song because some have a similar structure. They begin all in softness, so much we have to open up the volume to make sure we don’t miss anything, and then they break out completely to become particularly heavy with a loud guitar. There are some exceptions as the excellent acoustic song “Stranger Things Have Happened”. I also like “Erase/Replace” and the good melodies of “Long Road To Ruin” and “Summer's End”. Instrumental “Balad of the Beaconsfield Miners” doesn’t have anything exceptionally good, if it’s not the fact it presents a side we didn’t know about the Foo Fighters. The rock tracks are generally too straight, well far from the energetic grunge of their debut. The only one reminding us somewhat that time is perhaps “Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)”. In fact, the main problem about this new album is that it doesn’t bring anything really new. Everything seems to have been already heard and nothing remains in our mind for a very long time. I’m afraid that after this sixth album, the Foo Fighters will have to make serious adjustments in the future to be able to keep interest in their direction. For the moment, they are not likely to give any excitement to many people. (March 2008 Featured Review)

Foreign Born - On The Wing Now

Foreign Born - On The Wing Now

Foreign Born was formed in Los Angeles in 2003 and presents us now its very first album, On The Wing Now. One can compare them with The Arcade Fire, Echo & The Bunnymen and Radiohead. They have an indie rock sound with sometimes acoustic elements (intimist) or atmospheric (more imposing). The compositions are solid without however being totally creative. Then, we can hear some tracks which I found rather annoying, which comes somewhat to waste the album. Foreign Born is anyway a good group which it will be necessary to check out closely in the future. (November 2007)

Dim Mak / Earshot

The Frames - The Cost

The Frames, The Cost

The Irish group The Frames is back after the excellent Burn the Maps released 2 years ago. It was at the time the greatest album of their career, an album you can find in the 2005 top 20. So, the expectations were very high for this band which seems to have reached its real maturity after 15 years of career. I had a good surprise by first listening to The Cost because I discovered a sublime album. The band continues in the same direction with a very British folk rock sound (Coldplay, Radiohead), but with also Montreal influences (The Dears, The Arcade Fire). Orchestrations are splendid and are always perfectly integrated. The “live in the studio” recording presents very well the good and inspired compositions of the band, while recreating the incomparable environment of its concerts. Charm operates as soon as at the first track, "Song for Someone", before continuing on "Falling Slowly" (the first single) and the epic "People Get Ready". The acoustic song "Rise" comes to tear off our hearts, before "When Your Mind's Made Up" rises literally in front of our eyes by a progression like only The Frames can do. As soon as at the first notes of "Sad Songs", we know we will like it and the title song is another one of these tracks that make the album impossible to circumvent. In fact, the weaknesses are almost non-existent on The Cost whereas each composition is imposing. It remains to see how the album will be received by the audience, but it will probably remain the album of their career. The new album by The Arcade Fire will have to be very good because the competition will be without pity in this musical genre. Who will win? Read the review of Neon Bible by The Arcade Fire to know it. (March 2007 Featured Review)

Anti- / Epitaph

Sage Francis - Human The Death Dance

Sage Francis, Human The Death Dance

I had liked very much the previous album by the alternative rapper Sage Francis, A Healthy Distrust. I was thus quite curious to hear his new record and my curiosity was largely rewarded. With Human The Death Dance, Francis brings its art a little further and proves to us that he’s not only one of the best rappers of his generation, but also an author in a special category. It’s a pity he’s still not recognized apart from the underground, the hip hop scene being one of the most closed brotherhoods in the United States. The good moments are numerous on this 4th album by Sage Francis (in fact, those are the bad moments that are rare). In my opinion, the centerpiece of the album is the blues song "Got Up This Morning" built on a beat by his friend Buck 65 and with the voice of Jolie Holland. A little further, "Clickety Clack" is certainly one of the best songs he wrote, my favorite of this album. The second half of the 55 minutes CD also presents its strong moments with blow on blow the excellent "Keep Moving", "Waterline" and "Black Out On White Night", without forgetting a little further "Call Me François" and its very good samplings. Finally, the album ends beautifully with "Going Back To Rehab". Francis does everything on this album including arrangements and production. Some people speak about his most personal album, but I won’t go in that stereotype. What is sure, it’s that this is his best album to date. I am already ready to make a prediction and to say that it may be here the best rap album of 2007. To be continued... (June 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Galactic - From The Corner To The Block

Galactic - From The Corner To The Block

Galactic is a funk group with a new genre which was formed back in 1994. It combines funk, rock, hip hop, electronica and jazz. From The Corner To The Block is their first album on the Anti label and it follows upon the release of Ruckus 4 years ago which had been critically acclaimed. We can still hear all the elements which made the reputation of the group with once again a happy mixture of styles. Gorillaz and Beastie Boys come to our mind on some occasions, just like The Coup and Blackalicious, their new colleagues for the Anti label. What is certain, it’s that we are rather far from James Brown with Galactic and that they offer us a futuristic funk. It’s difficult to say some more about a band we should simply listen to to understand all its creativity. Let’s only say that From The Corner To The Block is perhaps not as exceptional as their previous one, but is an excellent album anyway. (December 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Gallows - Orchestra Of Wolves

Gallows, Orchestra Of Wolves

The British press considers Gallows as the most exciting group on the British hardcore punk scene for years. The quintet has most of all influences of the hardcore groups of the 80’s like Minor Threat and Black Flag, as well as the Swedish band Refused, but we also find the British punk attitude of 1977 (Sex Pistols, The Clash). What is catching our attention at first with Orchestra Of Wolves, it’s the energy released and the good old rock n' roll raw sound. Even if the voices remain hardcore, there is always a certain melody and few parts are annoying. "Kill The Rhythm" attacks from the very start of the CD and it will be a continuous flood until the end, in spite of several changes of beat throughout the album. The title-song points out in a certain way The Stooges, whereas "Will Someone Shoot That Fucking Snake" presents a hardcore version of what The Specials would have been able to do. "In The Belly Of A Shark" is a kind of mixture between psychobilly and hardcore punk. The album was released in England in the fall of 2006, but we can finally hear it in America thanks to Epitaph Records. This American version includes 3 bonus tracks: "Sick Of Feeling Sick", "Black Heart Queen" (which has a little something of the Sex Pistols) and the cover of Black Flag, "Nervous Breakdown". I can say without any hesitation that Gallows eclipses any current hardcore group from the US, because Orchestra Of Wolves is definitely in a class of its own. (August 2007 Featured New Artist)

Epitaph

½

The Good, The Bad & The Queen - The Good, The Bad & The Queen

The Good, The Bad & The Queen - The Good, The Bad & The Queen

Whereas Gorillaz worked on its 2nd album, Demon Days, its leader, Damon Albarn, began this side project to return to his London roots. In fact, one finds more links with the group which made him famous, Blur. He’s surrounded here by the legendary bass player of The Clash, Paul Simonon, guitarist of The Verve, Simon Tong, as well as drummer Tony Allen. Danger Mouse, a former collaborator of Gorillaz, ensures the production of the album which pricks already curiosity before we have even heard only one chord of it. Musically, the record offers a rather slow beat, filled of melancholy, where Albarn’s piano occupies an important place. Few titles distinguish truly from the batch which can seem deadening at first and can thus discourage certain listeners. On the other hand, it’s about an excellent album which the fans of Damon Albarn and his various projects will like undoubtedly. (February 2008 Featured New Artist)

½

Gorguts - The Erosion Of Sanity (1993) (2007 re-edition)

Gorguts, The Erosion Of Sanity (1993) (2007 re-edition)

With its 2nd album, The Erosion Of Sanity, the death metal band from Quebec Gorguts succeeded in impressing many fans of that genre and several even talk about one of the best death metal albums of all times. Without going that far, I would say that the group succeeded in evolving in comparison to its first album, like it or not. What’s clear, it’s that the Roadrunner label surely didn’t appreciate since it dropped them right after the album. This re-edition of the album presents us 2 bonus tracks. There is the demo version of "A Path Beyond Premonition", as well as a track that was never released on the album, "Disecting the Adopted". (July 2007)

Metal Mind / MVD

½

Gorguts - Considered Dead

Gorguts, Considered Dead (1991) (2007 re-edition)

The band from Quebec Gorguts is regarded as one of the best kept secrets in death metal. It should be said that they arrived at a period when the death metal already started to lose strength. Considered Dead is their first album, produced by Scott Burns, and it impresses by its experimentation and its creativity in a genre where many groups did nothing but cut and paste of what had already been done. We can hear on the album famous guests like the legendary James Murphy of Death who comes to play guitar on "Inoculated Life", as well as Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse which lends his voice to "Bodily Corrupted", "Rottenatomy" and "Hematological Allergy". This re-edition offers 2 demos in bonus for the title-song and "Rottenatomy". It’s an excellent way to go back to the good years of death metal by discovering the best Quebec band in the genre. (June 2007)

Metal Mind / MVD

Gorillaz - D-Sides

Gorillaz - D-Sides

The virtual group Gorillaz produced sufficient material during the recording of the Demon Days album to offer us an album of B-sides of nothing less than 13 tracks. These tracks include the original demo version of “Don’t Get Lost In Heaven”, but everything else could have been included on a true album without any embarrassment. There are less effective pieces which would have been used only as filling, but the unit is solid anyway for an album of rejected songs. The album offers a mixture of hip hop, trip hop, new wave, dub and rock which can create excellent modern background music. Even if it misses cohesion, this is a record offering good moments. A 2nd CD is included and it contains remixes of some tracks of the Demon Days album. There are 3 remixes for “Dare”, 3 for “Kids With Guns”, in addition to “Feel Good Inc.”, “El Manana” and “Dirty Harry”. With almost 2 hours of music on the whole, the fans of Gorillaz and Damon Albarn will certainly have much for their money with D-Sides. (March 2008)

Parlophone / EMI

½

The Great Kat - Beethoven On Speed

The Great Kat - Beethoven On Speed (1990) (2007 re-edition)

On her 2nd album, Beethoven On Speed, Katherine Thomas went a little further in her desire to transform classical music into metal. Separated into 2 opuses, this album presents various extracts of Beethoven’s works in a speed metal version typical to The Great Kat. Her aggressive music remains cacophonous, but one finds a few more interesting elements here compared to her first record, Worship Me Or Die! Her virtuosity cannot be questioned and it’s guaranteed you’ll be able to evacuate all the pressure you have. On the other hand, it’s not automatic that you will appreciate under the only pretext that you are a huge fan of Beethoven. We cannot even claim that it’s an album to make it possible to initiate fans of metal to classical music. One of the good moments of the CD, by excluding the Beethoven “covers”, is “Funeral March”, an extremely effective instrumental. Superior to her 1st album, Beethoven On Speed allowed The Great Kat to make a name for herself, even if we didn’t hear from her after that. (March 2008)

Metal Mind / MVD

The Great Kat - Worship Me Or Die!

The Great Kat - Worship Me Or Die! (1987) (2007 re-edition)

Katherine Thomas was born in England, but grew up in Long Island, New York. After having taken piano and violin courses at a very young age, she studied classical music before converting to heavy metal. Guitar virtuoso, she quickly specialized in speed metal with the ambition of transforming classical music into metal. Her first album, Worship Me Or Die!, issued in 1987 but re-edited 20 years later, contains music truly violent. Entirely based on never-ending guitar solos, her music can quickly become cacophonous with many changes of beats, a noisy drum and a throaty voice not really seducing. Her lyrics like to provoke (“Death To You”, “Satan Goes To Church”, “Kill The Mothers”) and throughout the album, we really have the feeling she was trying to exorcise all her demons and she found the way to do that without taking the time of going in subtlety. It’s thus an album which is located somewhere between the hard rock of Yngwie Malmsteen and Lillian Axe, the thrash metal of Metal Church and Anthrax and the burst madness of Green Jellÿ and Gwar. Musically, one cannot say that it truly is successful, but for an interesting mixture of virtuosity and craziness, Worship Me Or Die! can likely do the work. (February 2008)

Metal Mind / MVD

Grinderman - Grinderman

Grinderman, Grinderman

Grinderman is a side project of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, including Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos. The quartet proposes an experimental music with a rather heavy sound including punk blues and garage rock. We seldom heard Cave pushing as much his voice, which gives us a new interesting face for him (especially on the first single "No Pussy Blues"). The atmosphere created throughout the CD is extremely dark, and even disconcerting. We can detect psychedelic and garage influences of the late Sixties (Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Stooges, MC5). At the end, the result is particularly interesting with an extremely creative music, which will not necessarily be appreciated by a large audience, but which will charm the Nick Cave fans. A surprising album! (May 2007 Featured New Artist)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - What Is Free To A Good Home?

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - What Is Free To A Good Home?

One year after her first solo album, Knives Don’t Have Your Back, Emily Haines gives us an EP which is the logical continuation to the album. In fact, 5 of the 6 songs presented here were recorded at the same time that the album, but they were left aside when came the time to decide the final content of the CD, even if they had all the necessary qualities to appear on it. They thus remain exactly in the same atmosphere that those of the previous record and are not likely to surprise anybody. They're all soft songs, primarily on piano, highlighting largely the voice of Haines and her lyrics. The 6th track of the 20-minute CD is a remix of "Mostly Waving" that we found on Knives Don’t Have Your Back. This EP should go jointly with her previous album, therefore don’t buy one without the other. (October 2007)

Last Gang

Mick Harvey - Two Of Diamonds

Mick Harvey, Two Of Diamonds

Mick Harvey is back after the very good One Man’s Treasure issued 2 years ago. Whereas he had worked alone on that album, he returns now with a full band. The album was recorded live in the studio and a double bass replaces the bass, which offers new possibilities to the sound of Harvey. We can hear a majority of original compositions, but there are also obscure classics like those coming from PJ Harvey with which Mick worked much during the last decade. Some tracks are not so far away from the style of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, the group he had co-founded. But what I preferred is when he returns to his roots, such as for example his blues roots in "I Don't Want You On My Mind". The opening track, "Photograph", is also excellent, just like "Everything Is Fixed", but some acoustic ballads somewhat annoyed me throughout the album. On the other hand, the fans of Mick Harvey will have a lot for their money with this very good CD. (July 2007)

Mute

½

Mick Harvey - Motion Picture Music 1994-2005

Mick Harvey, Motion Picture Music '94-'05

Mick Harvey is a true multi-instrumentalist, in addition to being an arranger, producer, film soundtrack composer and co-founder of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and The Birthday Party. He was critically acclaimed for his soundtrack work, and won prestigious awards. Harvey presents us here his second compilation of film music. We can hear a selection from the Australian movie Chopper, plus a wide spectrum of international productions including documentaries, short films, and features. There are 27 tracks, all instrumental except for one, and rather atmospheric, for true film music! The only song, "The Farewell Song", concludes the album. It was co-written by Nick Cave which is also the singer. Even if it's not my type to listen to film music apart from its context, it's necessary to acknowledge that in fact quite good compositions are offered here. But, this album is primarily for his hardcore fans of the first days. (April 2007)

Mute

Kate Havnevik - Melankton

Kate Havnevik, Melankton

Born in Norway and now residing in London, Kate Havnevik presents her very first album with Melankton. It proposes a trip hop sound rather slow and atmospheric which can be compared with Portishead, Moby and Sarah McLachlan. But, the name which immediately comes to our mind is Björk. It’s not very far musically and her voice can easily be compared to Björk’s voice, especially at some specific moments when it’s straightforwardly shocking. We could hear several of her songs in the TV broadcasts Grey's Anatomy and The O.C., which brought them almost instantaneously to success. It’s the case for "Travel In Time", "Nowhere Warm", "Not Fair" and "Unlike Me". The mixture of electronic arrangements and orchestrations creates a very beautiful musical depth with her music. It’s soft and enveloping music that is very interesting to listen to and it creates a particular atmosphere. The music of Kate Havnevik is more accessible than that from Björk and it makes it possible to keep trip hop music alive, a style that was not so impressive since the beginning of the decade. A good CD by an artist to be discovered... (July 2007)

Universal

½

Joe Henry - Civilians

Joe Henry - Civilians

After Tiny Voices issued in 2003 and considered by several specialists like his best album in career, the pressure was heavy on Joe Henry for the writing of his 10th album. The author, composer, singer, musician and producer tried to return to a style a little more stripped down on Civilians and the result is rather effective. The quality of the melodies being undeniable, there is no need for an over-production. It again offers us a country/rock and folk sound with influences of Neil Young and Bob Dylan and which one could partly compare with Ron Sexsmith and Wilco. Henry works here with the musicians of the album Strange Weirdos by Loudon Wainwright III, an album co-produced by Joe Henry that was released last May as the soundtrack for the movie Knocked Up. Besides, he covers here one of the tracks of that album, "You Can't Fail Me Now". In addition to this excellent song, it offers us other great tracks like "Civil War", "Scare Me To Death", "Our Song" and the title-song. The beginning of "Time Is A Lion" reminds us of "Money" by Pink Floyd, which makes us hesitate between interest and embarrassment. Some other titles are ordinary, but Civilians is anyway a first quality album for those who like introspective music. We can certainly regard this 10th album as a part of the first half of his recordings. (November 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

The Higher - On Fire

The Higher, On Fire

Directly from Las Vegas arrives the group The Higher, a quintet formed of young guys barely 20 years old. On Fire is their 2nd album, but the first for the Epitaph Records label. We can hear a danceable pop rock sound with R&B influences, and this as soon as at the first single, "Insurance?". Their music can also be compared to the pop punk bands we know very well (Simple Plan, The Matches, Fall Out Boy, etc.). Their sound can as much reach the fans of pure punk than the fans of Justin Timberlake. If the first 11 tracks of the CD do not succeed in making the dancers stand up of their seat, the 12th and last one will do undoubtedly the work. Indeed, "Pace Yourself" was remixed by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy to make a purely R&B version of it. As a whole, it acts here as a light album which is addressed primarily to the teenagers, particularly those which would be ambivalent between rock and R&B. On Fire won’t change the face of music, but catchy melodies and effective beats make it pleasant to listen. (May 2007)

Epitaph

The Honorary Title - Scream & Light Up The Sky

The Honorary Title - Scream & Light Up The Sky

The duo from Brooklyn, New York evolved in a quartet in the last years and it offers now its 2nd album, their major label debut. The group thus became a little less intimate, less centered on the singer, guitarist, author and composer Jarrod Gorbel. I found a little weird the fact they issued a 4-track EP a few weeks only before the release of this new record, but I must acknowledge the idea was very good if we consider the evolution of their style since their first album. The EP, Untouched & Intact, gave us 2 new songs ("Untouched and Intact" and "Along The Way" we can find also here), and 2 B-sides going back to their beginnings ("Finally Understand" and "7 Blocks"), what enabled us to make well the bridge between the duo and the quartet and to mentally prepare the fans for their new style. It’s thus without much surprise that we find this indie pop sound of great deepness with obvious brit pop influences. We can compare them with Dashboard Confessional, Muse and Jimmy Eat World. When we hear tracks like "Thin Layer", "Untouched and Intact", "The City's Summer" and the first single "Stuck At Sea", we applaud Gorbel’s guts to have accepted to somewhat erase himself in a group centered on the guitar with a powerful rhythm section. In my opinion, it’s with Scream & Light Up The Sky that The Honorary Title truly emerges. (October 2007)

Reprise / Warner

½

The Honorary Title - Untouched & Intact

The Honorary Title, Untouched & Intact

The Honorary Title is a duo from Brooklyn, New York which was formed 5 years ago. The indie rock duo recorded only one album at this time and they offer here an EP to catch our attention before the release of their 2nd album, Scream & Light Up The Sky (which is on sale since a few days only). On this 4-song EP totalizing 16 minutes, we hear 2 tracks from the new album, the excellent "Untouched and Intact" and "Along The Way", as well as 2 B-sides previously unreleased, "Finally Understand" and "7 Blocks". We can immediately hear the difference between the newest compositions and the oldest ones whereas the new songs have a much fuller sound, less based on acoustic guitar. One of the first names coming to our mind is Dashboard Confessional. This EP, even if it’s way too short, does perfectly its job of promoting the band’s new album because we immediately have the desire to hear some more. (September 2007)

Reprise / Warner

Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd. (CD + DVD)

Hot Hot Heat - Happiness Ltd. (CD + DVD)

For its previous album, Elevator, its major label debut, the Canadian group Hot Hot Heat produced a clean sound with a pop music direction. They now try on Happiness Ltd. to return to the energy of the beginnings which made it possible to compare them with The Strokes, while preserving the clean production of Elevator. The result is interesting whereas names like Franz Ferdinand and The Killers quickly come to our mind. The first 4 tracks are excellent: the title-song, "Let Me In", "5 Times Out Of 100" and "Harmonicas & Tambourines". On the other hand, the ballad "Outta Heart" brings us back rather abruptly to reality at the 5th track whereas I thought it was frankly annoying. Thereafter, the group comes back with a dynamic one, "My Best Fiend", which is entertaining but takes again the same elements heard previously. It will be a little the case until the end whereas we can feel that the creativity of the band somewhat started to blow. Like on their previous album, the music of Hot Hot Heat remains involving, but does not go beyond the creative barriers. At the end, it’s thus an album which is pleasant to listen but which doesn’t revolutionize anything musically. The version with a DVD makes it possible to see a 55-minute documentary about the evolution of their work in studio, but the version with a CD only is sufficient. (December 2007)

Sire / Warner

Ill Scarlett - All Day With It

Ill Scarlett - All Day With It

Ill Scarlett is a pop punk band from Toronto with ska and reggae influences. After an EP which was passably successful in 2006, the group returned with its very first album the following year, All Day With It. Produced by Matthew Wilder (No Doubt), the album has a unique energy thanks to solid compositions that are arranged with magnificence. A few moments a little softer are quite as interesting (“Pacino”) and the melodies are totally unforgettable. Ill Scarlett can remind us of Sublime per moments, but it remains a corporate rock band perfectly formatted for radios. Even if some compositions catch certainly less your attention, this varied album remains a first effective record for this band which has a promising future. (February 2009)

Sony BMG

Norah Jones - Not Too Late

Norah Jones, Not Too Late

The jazz singer Norah Jones is back with her 3rd album, an album which was a huge success at its release by reaching number 1 on the most important charts of the world. This is the first time that she composed every song, as well as the first album that was not produced by legendary Arif Mardin, who died in the summer of 2006. Not Too Late thus represents an important turning point in the career of this young singer who already sold more than 30 million albums throughout the world. The production is given to her faithful collaborator, her bass player and her boyfriend, Lee Alexander. We can still establish parallels with her two first records thanks to her basic jazz style including much piano. Except that on this one, it goes a little further with folk and country tracks leaving the piano aside to leave the entire place to the guitar. We can make comparisons with Neko Case and Tori Amos, always in a calm, enveloping, introspective and releasing style. Her trademark in fact... The album was recorded in a minimalist way and we feel a certain reserve on behalf of Jones which wanted to keep the songs simple and without any tricks. This is well, but we would like sometimes that she pushes a little more, especially when we start to be somnolent in the second half. I understand very well that it is a personal album, but anyway, she could have exploited a little more her single voice than simply sing for her lover by looking him in the eyes, probably searching for his approval. The compositions are far from being bad, but it seemed to me to hear an incomplete album, as if it had been issued whereas it was still not finished. The fans of Norah will certainly appreciate, but Not Too Late represents in my opinion a transition towards something better. She could very well offer her best album in career next time... (March 2007)

Blue Note / EMI

Justice, †

Justice, †

Justice is a French duo formed of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay. The 2 guys give us their electro music at the limits of house music and pop music. Even if the album is mainly instrumental, we can hear voices on a few occasions, as on the hit "D.A.N.C.E." on which we can hear a children choir to accompany a young 8-year-old boy named Felix. The music of Justice can be compared with Daft Punk and the Chemical Brothers with some elements that Michael Jackson would not hate at all. He seems in fact to have had a great influence on the duo which was inspired by him for the writing of "D.A.N.C.E.". Even if this track was a huge hit on the Internet, it’s well far from being the best of the CD. "Phantom", "Phantom Pt II" and "Stress" are much more interesting with their foundations in Daft Punk. With , Justice admirably succeeds in mixing the styles that influenced them to create a sound which can reach a large audience. (September 2007)

Warner

½

Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Kaiser Chiefs is a band I just discovered and this is their 2nd album. After having read many praises about them, I acknowledge that I believed it was the new impossible to circumvent British group. I don’t consider that it’s the case at all! The album starts strongly with "Ruby" and its unforgettable chorus. Without being brilliant, this song is definitely effective. Thereafter, several tracks seemed common to me and without much creativity, in spite of always good melodies "The Angry Mob" is not impressive, but it’s followed by the very good "Heat Dies Down". Thereafter, "Highroyds" is particularly full of energy, but it could have been written and interpreted by Collective Soul. Later, I liked "My Kind Of Guy", one of those I reminded the most.  At various moments of the CD, we discover similarities with Franz Ferdinand, Blur, The Futureheads and The Killers, whereas we hear undoubtedly the strong influence of The Jam throughout the 45 minutes of the album. It’s the test of the 2nd album for Kaiser Chiefs with Yours Truly, Angry Mob and I must say that the group hardly gets the passing note. The pressure will be huge for their 3rd one if they want to avoid becoming forgotten quickly as several other British groups did before them. (June 2007)

Universal

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future

Klaxons, Myths Of The Near Future

Klaxons is an indie rock British trio releasing its very first album. They play a rock sound with dance influences and we can partly compare them with Bloc Party and Stone Roses. We can also perceive influences of David Bowie and Gary Numan. In England, they see them as members of a new musical movement they call "new rave" mixing a punk rock sound and a dancing sound. The group indeed presents tracks which have a passably new sound, but others do not reinvent anything with the result that the album is rather uneven. It’s a good first album, but it’s the followers we will have to check out closely. (July 2007)

Geffen / Universal

½

Bettye LaVette - The Scene Of The Crime

Bettye LaVette - The Scene Of The Crime

The legend of soul music Bettye LaVette is now 61 years old but did not lose anything of her energy and attitude. 35 years after having recorded an album at the Muscle Shoals Fame Studios, Alabama, which was put in a vault at Atlantic Records until the years 2000, Bettye is back on "the scene of the crime" to record this new album. It follows upon the success of I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise, her first album for the Anti label issued in 2005. On the 10 tracks offered here, 9 are covers, since Bettye is before everything else an interpreter, in the purest tradition of soul. She’s magnificently accompanied by the musicians of Drive-By Truckers. The album begins strongly with the excellent R&B song "I Still Want To Be Your Baby (Take Me Like I Am)". Thereafter, it offers us an effective mixture of slow songs and some with good beats for our greater pleasure. It’s necessary to note the impressive interpretation of Bettye on "Somebody Pick Up My Pieces" of Willie Nelson, an interpretation which literally transforms this song with country roots into a passionate soul piece. Another which impresses is her cover of an old sad Elton John ballad, "Talking Old Soldiers", which she transforms completely. I’m not an expert of the career of Bettye LaVette, but several critics talk about her best album of all time and I would believe them since The Scene Of The Crime is an excellent CD with very few weaknesses. (December 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing

Avril Lavigne, The Best Damn Thing

Avril Lavigne will have needed 3 albums to finally offer an album representing her well and showing all her talent. On her 1st, more of a half of the disc was too much adult for her 17 years old and on the 2nd, we could hear a darker sound without much creativity. With The Best Damn Thing, it rather offers energetic punk-pop tracks like the greatest hits she had before. The album still contains some ballads, but they are particularly effective and have nothing to do with those of the previous albums. She leaves aside her false personality of a good little girl and she rather spits her venom right to our face while not hesitating to use all the possible four letter words. With the hit "Girlfriend", the start is given for a 40 minute album without bad moments and with very few weaknesses, in a genre which is most of the time light after all. The CD is concluding with the other hit, "Keep Holding On", and we have immediately the desire to start it again at the beginning. All the comparisons which we could have made before are not good anymore and we must now speak about the female version of Simple Plan. It’s a very good album in the candy punk-pop genre, an album she will be able to finally assume entirely. It acts here as the perfect soundtrack for the life of any teenager who still prefers rock to R&B (yes, there are still some!). The regular version of the CD unfortunately got censured, but if you buy the deluxe version with a DVD, the CD will be a little less clean. It’s up to you to make the good choice... (June 2007 Featured Review)

LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver

LCD Soundsystem, Sound Of Silver

James Murphy is back with his 2nd album after the excellent self-titled 2-CD set issued in 2005, one of the good electronic albums of the year. On this new recording, the talented musician and arranger proves us again that he is also an excellent composer. Perhaps he takes the lead after Moby who was missing inspiration for the last years. On Sound Of Silver, we can hear funnier music, but always as eclectic with a mixture of post punk, disco music and David Bowie. Despite all this musical mix, the melodies remain always catchy and once we entered the universe of the CD, it’s quite difficult to get out from it. The effective beats can make the music of LCD Soundsystem leave the house to reach lounges and clubs. Without knowing it, you perhaps already heard of it in many places you go regularly. Sound Of Silver succeeds in continuing skillfully the excellent work started by Murphy on the previous album and makes it necessary from now on to consider this name among the best current electronic artists. (May 2007)

EMI

Led Zeppelin - Mothership

Led Zeppelin - Mothership

More than one greatest hits collection was released for Led Zeppelin over the years, but a few succeeded in filling the requirements of the fans. The most relevant ones remained to date Early Days and Latter Days covering each one half of their career. The 2 discs were then re-edited together for a double compilation covering the whole career of the group. Mothership comes here to fill the same mandate except for some differences. One presents as main advantage of this new collection of hits that they were chosen by the band members themselves (it was produced by Jimmy Page), but at the end we can hear about the same usual hits. There are 24 tracks, presented chronologically: 13 on first CD covering the first 4 albums of the group and 11 on second CD making a summary of the last 4 albums. Excellent parts adored by the fans (as "Moby Dick" for example) were left aside, just like all the Coda album, an album of rarities issued after the band’s break-up. They could certainly have added some of those whereas nearly 25 minutes remain available, but we can hear anyway the best of the best by this group which is regarded as one of most influential bands in the history of rock. The 2 discs are firmly supported by a very complete booklet containing a detailed biography and information on each song presented. With Mothership, as much the fans than the neophytes will have in their hands the so much awaited ultimate compilation making a complete summary of the career of Led zeppelin. (January 2008)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Linkin Park - Minutes To Midnight

Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight

I had liked the first album of the band, Hybrid Theory, and with great surprise, I had appreciated even more their following, Meteora, a particularly energetic album. Except that we could hardly expect a continuation still such as good for a commercial band like Linkin Park, especially because the 4 years of waiting since the previous one let predict a lack of inspiration. The first single from Minutes To Midnight, "What I've Done", didn’t impress me much at its release, but it didn’t prevent the group from reaching the top of the charts when the album was issued. The listening of the album brings us only one word in mind: maturity. The teenager rap metal of their first recordings is left aside here and it’s Mike Shinoda which has to pay the price since he doesn’t rap anymore but on 2 tracks, including the not so good "Hands Held High". In spite of this change of course, we can find some interesting songs like "Given Up", "Bleed It Out" and "No More Sorrow". These tracks are unfortunately surrounded by annoying ballads like "Leave Out All The Rest", "In Between" and "The Little Things Give You Away". "Shadow Of The Day" is even worse and when "What I've Done" follows, it seems to be quite brilliant and we finally see this first single as the central part of the CD. The guitarists also seem to be put aside in several occasions, whereas rock music becomes rather atmospheric. The problem is that Linkin Park is at its best when Chester Bennington howls to bury the loud sound of the guitars. Here, we rather find them in the same territory than Bon Jovi, Incubus and Staind when they also were in the mood of being absolutely "mature". Minutes To Midnight definitively represents a major change for the group, but unfortunately not for the best... (July 2007 Featured Review)

Warner

½

The Locust - New Erections

The Locust, New Erections

The Locust is a rather heteroclite, innovative and noisy group which mixes skillfully hardcore punk, metal, industrial, progressive rock and experimental rock. We can hardly compare them but let’s say that we can hear at various times a little bit of Faith No More, Fall Of Troy, Mars Volta, Fantômas and System Of A Down. The band was formed in 1995 and this is its 4th album. Once again with New Erections the group shows much creativity and experimentation. The noise is also still well present making an album often cacophonous, and it’s what pushed me back the most about this CD. As regards of the lyrics, they present irony, ridiculous, scary and smart, but reassure you, not all in the same song. In spite of interesting sonorities and some particularly successful experimentation, I must acknowledge that the group left me indifferent. This is really an album for the fans of completely crazy music at the opposite side of pop music... for the amateurs of noise in fact! (September 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

Metric - Grow Up And Blow Away

Metric, Grow Up And Blow Away

Pay attention that this is not a new album by the Toronto group Metric, but rather an album recorded between 1999 and 2001 (by Emily Haines and James Shaw) which was never released before, except on the Internet where we could find most of these songs. Oddly, Grow Up And Blow Away fits perfectly at this point of their career, offering a logical continuation to the excellent Live It Out released 2 years ago. We hear once again an alternative pop rock sound with new wave influences. However, we can hear a little less rock songs like "Monster Hospital", whereas the group remains in a melodic and light electro/pop. Haines once again proves all her talent as soon as at the title-song, whereas "Hardwire" brings us in the universe of the Cardigans. The electro "Rock Me Now" is less interesting with its poem in music, but the whole returns quickly on a certain level of excellence with the almost R&B "The Twist". "Soft Rock Star" is one of my favorites and we can hear a remix of it in conclusion of the album. By excluding this remix, it’s only 9 tracks that are offered on Grow Up And Blow Away, which makes once again a too short album. While waiting for a true new album by Metric, we can be comforted by listening to the other projects by the members of the group, Bang Lime and Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton about which I will write next month. (August 2007)

Last Gang

½

Raul Midon - A World Within A World

Raul Midon is a blind singer and guitarist from New Mexico which is releasing his 3rd album. He plays contemporary soul music with jazz and pop influences. As soon as at the opening track, the excellent “Pick Somebody Up”, we are seized by the cordial atmosphere and we already know that we will appreciate what’s coming after. His warm voice contributes largely to this intimate atmosphere which supports undoubtedly to get people closer together. We can quickly establish a parallel with Stevie Wonder, and musically, it approaches on several occasions Norah Jones. At the acoustic guitar, Midon has a single style whereas he uses it sometimes as much as guitar and percussion. This impressive style of playing makes us completely lost with the track “Ain't Happened Yet” on which he leaves the guitar aside for an a capella interpretation only made of vocal arrangements and clapping hands (except for a discrete guitar solo to the second third). Unfortunately, certain songs can seem repetitive, including compositions sometimes annoying. But in spite of these weaknesses, it remains cordial and it’s likely to please an audience admiring soul music. (April 2008)

Manhattan / EMI

Mika - Life In Cartoon Motion

From the issue of the album one year ago, and its first single, "Grace Kelly", the British pop singer born in Lebanon, Mika, has an incredible success almost everywhere around the world. This success continued with the following singles: "Love Today", "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" and "Relax (Take It Easy)", certainly the best tracks of the CD with "My Interpretation". A perfect mixture between Elton John and Scissor Sisters, Mika offers merry, energetic and dancing music, a sound which is thus perfect for FM radio. Even if it offers very good moments of surprising creativity, it remains that some songs somewhat have difficulties to follow the others on that territory. Despite everything, this is a particularly pleasant album to listen to and it has very good pop moments. (February 2008)

½

Kylie Minogue - X

Even if she has a 20-year career, the best albums of Kylie Minogue were issued in the years 2000, whereas she reached a level of maturity enabling her to offer the music she likes, quite simply. Thus she could have some of her greatest hits in career in America, having been primarily confined to her native Australia and Europe until then where her euro dance style was more appreciated. With X, she explores about any music era, going back to disco music of the Seventies ("In My Arms"), candy pop of the Eighties, European techno of the Nineties ("Like A Drug", "Speakerphone") and R&B of the years 2000 ("Heart Beat Rock"). The excellent opening track and first single, "2 Hearts", reminds us of Roxy Music and David Bowie. "Like A Drug" is one of my favorites of the CD and will surely be also a favorite for DJs in clubs. "Speakerphone" is also very effective, whereas "Sensitized" is a more personal song which is a sure hit. In spite of these very good tracks, X misses constancy, on the contrary to her last recordings. The sudden changes from one title to another are very destabilizing. We can still compare her to Madonna per moments (it’s even a little awkward on "No More Rain"), but this one is accustomed to offering albums forming a whole, on the contrary to X which is a collage of pop songs trying to reach almost everybody. It will hang undoubtedly the ear of many people with a song or another, but the problem will be the same for all: to succeed in appreciating the album from the beginning to the end. The good songs are really of great quality, but the futility surrounding them unfortunately breaks everything. This is an album to be heard by pieces... (March 2008)

Parlophone / EMI

Modern Life Is War - Midnight In America

Modern Life Is War - Midnight In America

My initial reaction when I received this 3rd album by Modern Life Is War was: “Not another hardcore album”. It’s because the market was invaded by those bands that are not all good musicians and especially not all good composers, and comes a time when you don’t want to hear some more. Except that after having paid attention to Midnight In America, I discovered a different album. The beat is slowed down and the voice is not too yelling, which leaves a good place for the melody and the quality of the compositions. Per moments, one can almost hear hardcore blues, a genre that was not very developed in the history. Obviously, we can also hear tracks in the purest hardcore punk style like “Fuck The Sex Pistols” and “Pendulum”. Skillfully directed by the singer Jeffrey Eaton, Modern Life Is War is a unique band deserving to get discovered. (December 2007)

Equal Vision

½

Mother Mother – Touch Up

Mother Mother - Touch Up

Mother Mother is a quintet from Vancouver which exists since 2005. They offer us an indie pop and folk rock sound rather weird based on experiments and vocal harmonies. One can seize their jazz influences on various occasions, all having studied jazz and classical art forms. One can especially compare the group with the Pixies and the B-52's, but the first track, "Dirty Town", also made me think of Primus. Touch Up was released in 2006 on an independent label, but their contract signing with Last Gang Records allowed the re-release of it with new artwork, overdubs and 2 new tracks. It is a creative album rather difficult of approach, in spite of always good vocal harmonies. The beat is seldom constant and the group seems to go in any directions, which can be a bit mixing. It is an album for the amateurs of different sounds… (November 2007 Featured New Artist)

Last Gang

Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me

Motion City Soundtrack - Even If It Kills Me

With their previous album, Commit This To Memory, it was necessary that they re-edit the album with a bonus DVD so that I could finally appreciate their work. It’s that I had the impression that the group was really good only in its punkiest moments whereas most of the CD was rather pop. In fact, even if they talk about Motion City Soundtrack as a pop punk group influenced by Blink 182, I believe that they should rather be regarded simply as a pop rock group. After having cleared up this point, I can finally talk about their newest release, Even If It Kills Me. The quintet worked with Ric Ocasek and you can hear it on various occasions whereas one can establish an obvious parallel with his former band, The Cars, especially on the excellent “This Is For Real”, my favorite one. The opening track, “Fell In Love Without You”, is also very effective and we can hear other very good melodies like that throughout the CD. The piano ballad “The Conversation” comes to break the beat right in the middle of the CD and it’s rather depressing. On the other hand, it’s the only slow song through energetic beats. Unfortunately, in spite of the quality of its melodies, few titles remain us in mind once again on Even If It Kills Me which doesn’t go beyond the quality of their previous LP. The fans will appreciate once again and the group will probably succeed in conquering new ones, but there’s still the feeling that the group can do better. We will have to be patient… (December 2007)

Epitaph

Motor - Unhuman

Motor, Unhuman

Motor is a duet formed of the French DJ Mr. No and the American DJ Bryan Black. They also performed as a trio with the addition of Hugo Menendez. Unhuman is their 2nd album in less than one year. Once again, they propose danceable and dark electro music. Generally techno, it’s different from it very often by the addition of the voice, a voice which makes it possible to get closer to an industrial sound. We can compare them on several occasions to Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Kraftwerk and Daft Punk. As for "Night Drive", it’s reminding us of the good years of Depeche Mode. The first single, "Bleep #1" will be undoubtedly a favorite on the dance floors, while others are a little more experimental and less accessible. The American version of the CD contains a bonus track, "Don't Stop". Unhuman is a very good album for the amateurs of energetic electro music. (June 2007)

Mute

½

Navaz! - East Of West

Navaz! - East Of West

Navaz! is a trio from British Colombia playing a fusion of jazz and Persian music. The group was formed from collaboration between Iranian singer Neda Jalali and guitarist Eric Tompkins. Jalali sings primarily in Farsi, but also in Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic and English. She has a soft and melodic voice mixing perfectly with Tompkins’ guitar, as well as Ali Razmi’s sitar. This own-produced CD presents 12 effective compositions creating a unique and warm atmosphere integrating Brazilian and Spanish beats. Even if the album is mainly ambient, some dancing beats can occasionally be found. East Of West is a very good record… (October 2008)

½

Nekromantix - Life Is a Grave and I Dig It!

Nekromantix, Life Is A Grave & I Dig It!

This is a new group which is coming back with a new album whereas Kim Nekroman decided to change his back-up musicians. He moved to California and recruited the guitarist Tröy Deströy (The Rezurex) and the drummer Andy DeMize (The Rockets). The sound is some kind of refreshed, while remaining obviously pure psychobilly. I admit I had doubts when I first listened to the first track, "NekroHigh", a different song, but which didn’t catch me very much. Thereafter, with "Horny in A Hearse", Nekroman comes back to his rockabilly roots with a beat much more closer to the Stray Cats than to the psychobilly he created. The title-song is excellent, and then the group extends its musical spectrum on "My Girl", one of my favorites of the CD which shows all the talent of the 3 musicians. We find then instantaneous psychobilly classics with "Rot in Hell!" and "Voodoo Shop Hop", on which the speed of execution blows us simply by listening to them. I had adored Dead Girls Don’t Cry released in 2004, but I admit that the exceptional and surprising musical depth that we find on Life is a Grave & I Dig It! makes it in fact perhaps the best album of the band’s career, in spite of a few moments a little less interesting. (May 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

The New Pornographers - Challengers

The New Pornographers - Challengers

Here is the 4th album by this indie pop super group from Vancouver. Once again, it’s A.C. Newman which composed most of the songs on the album. In fact, he wrote 9 out of 12, the 3 others having been written by Danny Bejar. Newman proves again his huge talent in writing superb melodies which quickly make us sing several of the songs offered on Challengers. This is the case as soon as at the opening track with the excellent "My Rights Versus Yours" which is followed by my favorite one, "All The Old Showstoppers". The group explores various styles, offering a wide range throughout the album. They can pass from almost folk ballads (the title-song) to fast rock ‘n' roll (the excellent "All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth"). These variations represent perhaps the most negative point whereas we lose ourselves in it. The guitars are always quite present, even if it’s the voices of Neko Case, Kathryn Calder, Bejar and Newman which remain in obviousness. We can compare the New Pornographers at some moments with The Arcade Fire and their music enters easily the same bosom as many brit pop bands. In spite of very good melodies and a very pop simplicity, New Pornographers have the characteristic of always offering us creative compositions with a great depth. We thus need some good attentive listenings for really appreciating all the facets of their music, even if the first listening is likely to be largely sufficient to seduce you completely. The production of the album is again of first quality thanks to the work of Phil Palazzolo, John Collins and Newman, and the arrangements are quite simply splendid. Challengers is a very good album which will please the fans of the group. (October 2007)

Last Gang

½

Stevie Nicks - Crystal Visions: The Very Best Of Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks, Crystal Visions... The Very Best Of Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks was initially known as a member of Fleetwood Mac whereas she composed or took part in the composition of several of the group’s classics, in addition of giving her single voice to the band. Then, she started a solo career with highs and lows, but including anyway some important hits for the Eighties, like the classic "Edge of Seventeen", covered many times. Her hits also include "I Can't Wait", « If Anyone Falls in Love », « Talk to Me » and « Stand Back ». All those tracks are obviously included here, in addition to never released and live tracks. We find among them "Silver Springs", a song recorded with Fleetwood Mac for the classic album Rumours, but which had been rejected because of a lack of space on the disc, a rejection that Nicks spent much time to accept. We also find a version of "Dreams" with Deep Dish. Among the live tracks, we can hear the Fleetwood Mac classic "Rhiannon", the cover of Led Zeppelin’s "Rock and Roll" (a challenge she got), and 2 songs with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, "Landslide" and "Edge of Seventeen". A version with DVD is also available containing 13 videos. This compilation of Stevie Nicks is certainly her best at this time, in spite of inequalities and no specific order for the tracks. (May 2007)

Reprise / Warner

½

Olympia - Emergencies

Olympia, Emergencies

Olympia is a group from Washington D.C. which was formed in 2005 from the ashes of Fairweather and Brand New Disaster, two post-hardcore/emo bands. Emergencies is the first album of the quartet and a beautiful future is in front of them. Without being of an overflowing creativity, it offers 11 quality rock songs with catchy choruses and unlimited energy. I would have done better without some ballads including the title-song that I found deeply annoying, as well as the very slow "Who's Bad Party Time", but the energetic tracks compensate somewhat for those moments that I found rather weak. The main problem of the album is that it presents a beautiful paradox: with as many unforgettable melodies, we don’t retain anything from it at the end. It’s anyway a good first test for this group which has many possibilities for the future. (June 2007)

Equal Vision

Orange - Escape From L.A.

Orange - Escape From L.A.

Here is the 2nd album by the excellent young pop punk band from California Orange. I had liked their first album, Welcome To The World Of… Orange, which had the advantage of being different from most of the current pop punk bands with a sound a little more British. The group continues in the same direction here. One can make some parallels with Sum 41, Green Day and Social Distortion, but it’s really necessary to go back to explore 1977 English punk to find the true points of comparison for this group. We have to say that the production certainly has something to do with it with a sound a little less polished than most of their contemporaries. The powerful voice of the singer, Joe Dexter, can sometimes disturb the sensitive ears whereas we have the feeling that he’s too close to the microphone to vociferate that way, in a Sex Pistols way. In spite of this sound which can seem sometimes a little too raw, the melodies are so effective that we cannot do anything else but singing. Finally, if you resisted singing until the end, the 11th track will make you give up whereas they skillfully cover the mega-hit of the 80’s "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club. Escape From L.A. is once again a very good CD which gives a new breath to Californian pop punk. (November 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Dolores O’Riordan - Are You Listening?

Since the break-up of the Cranberries in 2001, singer Dolores O'Riordan was rather discrete. It’s because during the last years, she was devoted to her family, before returning into the studio in 2006 for her first solo album. In spring of 2007, she thus offered us Are You Listening?, a record of a great maturity. One can hear a sound which is not so different from what she did with her former band, even if rock sounds are passably left aside. It’s rather in pop melodies and atmospheres that she points out the sound which made her famous. The addition of orchestrations and complex arrangements gives certain majesty to this record which doesn’t have anything intimate. Thanks to all her experiment from the past, Dolores O'Riordan thus presents us an album of a great solidity which will seduce undoubtedly her fans from the beginning. A very good first solo album! (February 2008)

½

Otep - The Ascension

Otep - The Ascension

Otep is a metal band with gothic and industrial influences which was formed in Los Angeles in 2000. The Ascension is their 3rd album and it sounds somewhere between Slipknot and Evanescence. The record was in fact produced by Dave Fortman who also worked with Evanescence and Mudvayne. The group, leaded by female singer Otep Shamaya, presents here a change of personnel with the addition of guitarist Karma Cheema and drummer Brian Wolff which are joining with Shamaya and band founder, bass player eViL J (Jason McGuire). Mudvayne guitarist, Greg Tribbett, collaborates to the album in co-writing 3 songs, “Invisible”, “Crooked Spoons” and “Confrontation”. The first single from the album is their very good cover of “Breed” by Nirvana, whose video was produced by Paul R. Brown who worked in the past with Smashing Pumpkins and James Blunt. The remainder of the album comprises good moments whereas the group is passably different from what it did in the past. On the other hand, their sound can somewhat be hard on the ears on certain occasions. The rhythm section takes even per moments death metal tendencies (“Eet The Children”, “March Of The Martyrs”). At other times, they fall into ballads in the Evanescence style (“Perfectly Flawed”, “Invisible”). It’s thus rather difficult to find a guideline to this CD which seems to go into any direction. It integrates various elements to please almost everyone at one moment or another, but few people are likely to like the entire unit, except perhaps for their fans from the beginning who will find here an interesting evolution. (January 2008)

Koch

Paramore - Riot!

Paramore - Riot!

Riot! is the 2nd album by the pop punk quartet from Tennessee Paramore, but the 1st on a major label. We can compare them with Simple Plan, Amber Pacific and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, but because of the female presence of the young Hayley Williams on the microphone, we can especially compare them with Avril Lavigne and the band from Quebec Meesh. They offer us an energetic pop rock sound with punk influences, like it’s the case for the first single, the excellent "Misery Business". Arrangements are polished, perhaps a little too much, the melodies are always effective and catchy, and the powerful voice of Williams catches quickly our attention. Without being an overflow of creativity, the album presents few truly weak tracks, which makes it a not too deep album easy to hear for 39 minutes. Most of the fans of the genre were already charmed by them. For the others, several are likely to pay attention towards this young band with a contagious energy. (October 2007 Featured New Artist)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Parkway Drive - Horizons

Parkway Drive - Horizons

Hardly more than one year after the release of its first album in America, Killing With A Smile, the hardcore Australian band Parkway Drive is back with Horizons. The group continues in the same direction aiming at pushing back the borders of hardcore metal, even if it’s rather difficult to revolutionize a limited genre which saw everything during the last 25 years. Perhaps that in Australia they propose a completely new sound, but it’s not really the case when we leave that country, from the United States to England, including the Scandinavian countries and Germany, without forgetting Quebec. We can in fact recognize a little bit of the early Voivod on certain occasions, even if the group is compared especially with its contemporaries of Killswitch Engage and Hatebreed. If you appreciated their first album, you will like as much this new record which offers the same heavy riffs, sometimes slow and sometimes quicker, capped with a guttural voice. On the other hand, the group doesn’t go really further, in spite of a few good moments. (January 2008)

Epitaph

Pascale Picard - Me, Myself & Us

Pascale Picard - Me, Myself & Us

Pascale Picard is a lady from Quebec City who decided to sing in English and one can say that the decision was rather advantageous to her until now considering the success she had in 2007. This young songwriter gives us folk, contemporary pop and urban music with certain well marked dashes of rock. Her music is built around acoustic guitar, sometimes supported by a passably heavy electric guitar, even metal on "Annoying". But, which draws the attention immediately is Pascale’s voice. At the same time soft and powerful, while being filled with emotion, she reminds us of Lisa Loeb. The solidity of the young woman supported by the huge talent of her musicians gives to this record a balance seldom seen for a first album. From the mega hits "Gate 22" to the excellent "Thinking Of It" and "Smilin'!!", Me Myself & Us comprises very few weaknesses and quickly succeeds in captivating us. It’s an excellent CD which not only allowed us to discover a young promising singer, but also to have under the hand one of the good albums of the year from Quebec. (January 2008 Featured New Artist)

Pierce The Veil - A Flair For The Dramatic

Pierce The Veil, A Flair For The Dramatic

Pierce The Veil is a new group from San Diego, California. Leaded by the brothers Victor and Michael Fuentes, the band plays rock alternative music rather complex and difficult to compare. We find a little post punk, emo, progressive and metal, always with excellent pop melodies, but on musical structures changing continuously. It’s thus a sound we have to discover slowly, but which catches quickly our attention anyway. Well done with very good arrangements, the music of Pierce The Veil has all that is necessary to get out of the American underground and to become known by a larger audience. A simple promotional help would do the job. (August 2007)

Equal Vision

½

Iggy Pop - Live In San Fran 1981

Iggy Pop - Live In San Fran 1981

Here is a concert recorded in 1981 in San Francisco towards the end of the tour in support to the album Party. We can hear the classics “TV Eye” and “1969” of the Stooges, as well as “Some Weird Sin” and “Lust For Life” of the 1977 classic album Lust For Life, without forgetting “Dum Dum Boys” of the excellent album The Idiot. On the other hand, several less important fans of Iggy Pop will have problems to recognize other songs, whereas he preferred to go on the more obscure side of his career and, obviously, to make the promotion of his most recent album. The 5 tracks from this album will probably leave you indifferent, except perhaps “Houston Is Hot Tonight” which is passably effective. In bonus to the 12 live tracks, we can hear 2 never released studio tracks produced by Ric Ocasek in 1983: “Fire Engine” and “Warrior Tribe”. These recordings are unfortunately a good representation of Iggy Pop in those years, whereas he was searching himself musically. It’s thus about an album in concert which is exclusively for the most faithful fans of the legend of punk. There are good moments, but nothing so that the album becomes memorable. This concert had appeared in video in 1986. (March 2008)

MVD

½

Omara Portuondo - Duets

Omara Portuondo - Duets

Omara Portuondo is a true cuban legend, the best known singer in the country. She took part in the famous Buena Vista Social Club in 1996, but what we find here, it’s rather a compilation of duets recorded during the 25 last years (except one which was recorded in 1974). She’s accompanied most of the time by the Egrem orchestra featuring among others Rubén Gonzalez, Juan Pablo Torres and Orlando Lopez. We can hear famous duets with Arnaldo Rodriguez ("Habana Travel"), Pedro Rivera ("Como Es Posible"), Miguel Angel Cespedes ("Para Vivir de Lejos" and "Amor, Dame Vida"), Pio Leyva ("Reclamo Mistico"), Maria Felicia Perez ("Libre de Pecado"), Juan Pablo Torres ("Eso No Lo He Dicho Yo") and several others. But the person who is more often in company of Omara is Elena Burke whose name appears 6 times, including the excellent opening and energetic track "Este Son Homenaje". After several songs with good beats worthy of the best cuban music, we find some consecutive romantic ballads which come somewhat to break the beat of the CD, even if they’re of good quality and contribute to highlight well the exceptional voice of the singers. I largely prefer Omara when she presents beats of bolero or with the mambo of "Deja Que Suba la Marea". These 20 tracks for a total of 75 minutes largely contribute to make us understand why this famous diva was acclaimed throughout the world. (October 2007)

Disconforme / MVD

½

Preach - Translantic

Preach - Translantic

Preach is a DJ from Quebec (born Philippe Babin) which cut his teeth in the largest clubs of Quebec City and Montreal including Sona and Aria. After having drawn the attention of some of the most famous DJs (of which Tiësto, Carl Cox, Paul Van Dyk and Marco V), he decided to cross the Atlantic in 2005 to go to Breclav in Czech Republic. Translantic was inspired by this trip and the discovery of new cultures. The project lasted one and a half year during which Preach worked with musicians and vocalists. His popularity did not cease growing whereas he performed in London, Madrid, Toronto, Montreal (Bal en Blanc) and Amsterdam. The release of his first album will now bring him all around the world. He entirely composed the 13 tracks of this 73-minute album which is primarily techno trance, but also offering softer electronic moments as on “Love Like Water”, an atmospheric electronic sound accompanying the splendid voice of Tracy Saxby. Among the other artists featured on the CD, we can hear the guitar and the voice of Raymond Elma, as well as the voices of Saskia Bind-Atjam (known for her work with Ferry Corsten), Ali Lundblad and Fla Priscilla. In spite of the presence of these voices, the album mainly remains instrumental, in the purest techno tradition. It’s a very good disc, worthy of the best DJs on the planet. (December 2007)

Black Hole / Fusion3

½

Queensrÿche - Take Cover

Queensrÿche - Take Cover

The progressive metal group Queensrÿche was unable in the 90s and 2000s to equal its reputation which it created for itself with the excellent albums Operation: Mindcrime and Empire. Therefore, the best way to bring back the attention on them is to offer an album of covers. So, here is Take Cover, a CD of 11 tracks presenting some of the favorite songs of the band. The album begins with the excellent cover of Pink Floyd’s "Welcome To The Machine" before an extract from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Heaven On Their Minds" of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber. One finds then 2 parts from Crosby Stills Nash & Young: "Almost Cut My Hair" and the classic "For What It's Worth". Other good interpretations are those of Queen ("Innuendo"), Black Sabbath ("Neon Knights"), The Police ("Synchronicity II") and Peter Gabriel ("Red Rain"). The album is ending with the best track of the CD, U2’s "Bullet The Blue Sky" in a version of more than 10 minutes recorded live. An album of covers is never completely satisfactory, but the talent of the musicians of Queensrÿche and the powerful voice of its singer, Geoff Tate, largely make us appreciate these songs of quality. (January 2008)

Rhino / Warner

½

Recoil - SubHuman

Recoil, SubHuman

Recoil started as a side project by Alan Wilder in the 80’s, when he was a member of Depeche Mode. When he left the group in 1995, he made of Recoil a full-time "band", even if he’s the only official member. SubHuman is the 5th Recoil album and it offers us an electro music rich in sonorities. For the voices, he asked this time for Joe Richardson, a bluesman from Louisiana, as well as for the British singer Carla Trevaskis who worked among others with Fred de Faye (Eurythmics) and Dave McDonald (Portishead). In my opinion the female-intonated voice of Carla Trevaskis is much better fitting with the ambient electronic music of Recoil. Joe Richardson gives a blues tone, sometimes even folk, to a sound which is at the opposite side of this music taking its roots in the traditions of the South of the United States. I particularly was thus disappointed to hear moments of blues and folk on this album which I hoped would be entirely electronic. It’s good for the fans of blues, except that none of them will get an album by Recoil if they want to hear blues. We find only 7 tracks on the album which however lasts more than 60 minutes. It’s thus of long tracks which hang us slowly but surely in their quite particular atmosphere. In conclusion, it’s a rather unequal album because of this incongruous fusion of styles, but Wilder offers us a creative album anyway. A deluxe version with a DVD including the album with surround sound is also available. (September 2007)

Mute

Rehtorit - Klassista Musiikkia

Rehtorit, Klassista Musiikkia

Rehtorit is a punk / power pop band from Finland. Their name means Headmasters in English. Klassista Musiikkia (meaning Classical Music) is containing 14 energetic rock songs, obviously in Finnish. The good effective guitars and the powerful voice of the female singer make a great mixture for a very entertaining music. The album is less than 35 minutes and you would appreciate a little more. (July 2007)

½

Arturo Sandoval & His Group

Arturo Sandoval - Arturo Sandoval & His Group

Arturo Sandoval is a Cuban musician who was born in the province of Havana. Trumpet player of great talent, he’s known as one of the bests in the world. This CD is regrouping 2 of his albums issued in 1981 and 1982. We thus find 11 tracks adding up 68 minutes of great quality jazz music. It’s important to mention the presence throughout the record of the excellent bass player Jorge Reyes, one of the bests in Cuba. Compared to other Cuban musicians, I would say that Sandoval sound fits a little better in the international jazz standards, in spite of certain moments more pop. Even if trumpet can sometimes be a disturbing instrument to the ear, this collection will certainly contribute for several to a kind of reconciliation. This is an excellent record by a musician you have to discover… (June 2008)

Disconforme / MVD

½

Siggi Schwarz & Michael Schenker – Live Together 2004

Siggi Schwarz & Michael SchenkerLive Together 2004

Siggi Schwarz and Michael Schenker are 2 German electric guitar virtuosos specialized in the hard rock from the Seventies and the Eighties. The second played among others with UFO, Scorpions (he is the brother of Rudolph), Contraband and Michael Schenker Group (MSG). Accompanied by singer-bass player Martin Hesener and drummer Bernd Elsenhans, they joined forces for this concert recorded in December 2004 in Heidenheim in Germany. They play some of their favorite songs, starting with the classic from the Kinks, “You Really Got Me”. One finds also several titles from Free and Bad Company, as well as 3 tracks from UFO. The sound, which was not re-arranged in studio, is particularly great whereas the mixing places the 2 guitars well ahead, always played to perfection. The fans of hard rock from the Seventies which appreciate electric guitar will have the ears full with this brilliant duo. (February 2008)

MVD

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist

Billy Corgan disintegrated his group at the end of 2000 whereas there was no more chemistry between the members, and no more inspiration too. He then formed a new band, Zwan, but after an average album, he decided to record a solo album, without more success. He was then thinking that finally the solution was perhaps to recreate The Smashing Pumpkins, even if there is only the drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, which accepted the invitation to reinstate the line-up. With Corgan playing all the other instruments, we discover an album which could be a follower to his solo album more than a return of the Pumpkins. We have the feeling by listening to Zeitgeist that Corgan didn’t have choices anymore but one solution before becoming completely forgotten: to recreate the group which made him famous. He struggles to prove that his group still exists, which gives perhaps the heaviest album of the group. Forget the soft ballads in the style of "1979", since we hear more a wall of guitars. The main problem of this CD, it’s that it seems exaggeratedly forced and shamefully misses creativity for a guy who was recognized like one of the most creative American artists of the 90’s. Few melodies are truly catchy, and even when they are, they’re completely hidden by the howling guitars. If the element which interested you the most about The Smashing Pumpkins were their heavy sound, perhaps you will find this one interesting. But, you must know that these 12 tracks don’t really have nothing to do with the almost metal tracks which we could hear on the excellent Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. They are rather the same quality as some of the worst moments of the last 2 albums of the group before its splitting. Few good moments will remain you in mind except for "Tarantula" and perhaps "United States" which offers at least a beat that is different from the remainder. A deluxe version with a 76-page booklet is also available, which can perhaps compensate for the lack of interest about the music... (September 2007)

Warner

The Snake The Cross The Crown - Cotton Teeth

The Snake The Cross The Crown, Cotton Teeth

After Mander Salis, an album I loved in 2004, The Snake The Cross The Crown decided to take a step back. The guys come back now with a sound closer to their roots with many country and folk influences, a little bit like Wilco. But, if you believe they completely gave up indie rock with British influences, you’re not right. In fact, they succeed in perfectly marrying the styles to make extremely rich music. Sometimes comparable to The Band and Creedence Clearwater Revival ("The Great American Smokeout", "Gypsy Melodies"), the group changes literally getting closer to Coldplay and Travis ("Cakewalk", the song-title). Whereas it was an album of great quality they had offered with the previous one, the group passes straightforwardly to another level with Cotton Teeth, an album of a great creative sensitivity. Among the 10 tracks totalizing 49 minutes, very few are not as interesting as the others whereas most of them catch our attention completely. There is "Floating In & Out" that somewhat irritates us with its electronic which seems to come from nowhere, but we think that after all, perfection is not from this world. In spite of this flaw, Cotton Teeth will be undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2007. (May 2007)

Equal Vision

Societys Parasites - Societys Parasites

Societys Parasites, Societys Parasites

Societys Parasites is a new kind of hardcore punk band coming directly from the streets of Los Angeles. The main difference between these Californian punks and their colleagues is the rage we can find in each of their songs. All this rage is pitched right to our face on a very fast beat, and the album of 15 tracks lasts only 24 minutes. After a rather conventional introduction, the CD really begins with "In The City" and you will never have again the possibility to breathe, partly thanks to the production of Elvis Cortez from Left Alone. Noisy bass and guitar solos worthy of the good years of speed metal will fill the ears of fans of fast, aggressive and without any compromise punk rock. It acts as an extremely liberator album and you will feel particularly calm when the wall of noise will stop. Without being really creative from a musical point of view, it’s a good album of real punk rock, like there are very few nowadays... (June 2007 Featured New Artist)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

Soulkid #1 - Americanized

Soulkid #1, Americanized

Soulkid #1 is a new band from Los Angeles, California offering us its very first album. This one includes a good mix of alternative rock, soul, R&B and hip hop. The influences go from Beck to David Bowie, including the sound of Motown and boogie of the 70’s. The writing for the songs of Americanized started in 2000-2001 when Marc Godfrey left behind his native town of Vancouver to move to California. Each track of the CD was inspired by a different area of the city of Los Angeles. Americanized was supposed to get released in 2003, but the band lost its contract after the decision of Dreamworks to leave them apart when they made a new association with Interscope. Finally, 4 years later, we can hear this very interesting album. We already heard the song "(More Bounce In) California" which had success on the Internet and in America underground, in addition to be heard on motion picture soundtracks of the movies Win a Date with Tad Hamilton and Legally Blonde 2, as well as the TV shows The O.C. and Laguna Beach. Since that time, the sports teams made the song an anthem playing it to their fans during the breaks. In addition to that excellent track, the album includes many other possible hits ("Until It's Gone...", "It's Your Lifestyle, Baby", "Some Kind of Wonderful Drug") and the weaknesses are rare. This is a creative album making us hope for a great future for this band of the 2000’s… (February 2007)

Secret Agent

½

Spice Girls - Greatest Hits

A comeback by the 5 girls for a new tour was the perfect timing for a collection of their greatest hits. However, the Spice Girls recorded only 2 successful albums in 1996 and 1997, plus a failure after the departure of Geri Halliwell in 2000. The British group, which wanted to be the counterpart of the “boys bands” which invaded the pop planet of the Nineties, was more recognized for its feminist side than for the quality of its compositions. The groovy “Wannabe”, “Say You'll Be There”, “Spice Up Your Life” and “Stop” remain as futile a decade later, but their melodies are still effective. On the other hand, their annoying ballads are not less annoying. This collection of 15 tracks includes necessarily less known and easily forgettable songs, but it makes anyway a good summary of their career and will bring good memories to their young fans of the time (female for most of them). We can hear in bonus 2 new tracks: the sleepy “Headlines (Friendship Never Ends)” and “Voodoo”. Two other versions of the album are available: a version with DVD containing all their videos and a limited edition of 3 CDs and 1 DVD in a unique box set. (March 2008)

Virgin / EMI

½

Static Thought - In The Trenches

Static Thought, In The Trenches

Static Thought was formed in the early 2000’s and they were first a trio. After an EP in 2003, the band presents now its very first full length album with the young 17-year old singer and guitarist Eric Urbach. The quartet offers us a fast and energetic punk rock with hardcore influences, but always melodic. The influences of the group go from G.B.H. to Rancid, including U.K. Subs, Black Flag, Dead Boys, Motörhead and NOFX. Among the contemporaries, we can compare them with The Unseen, Left Alone and Time Again. Their music is completely refreshing among all the other bands of the same genre that all seem to be very tortured to make interesting and creative music that won’t sound like pop punk. We have the feeling the 4 guys of Static Thought produced the album they really wanted to do, without any concern of public target and album sales. The result is particularly effective and is like a punch to the chin. One of my favorite elements of the CD is the presence of guitar riffs that are completely incredible in speed and effectiveness. This is particularly the case in "Social Unrest", a track in which the bass of Mike Have-Not is also rather impressive. The album finishes with a very good cover of "Next To You" by The Police, a version reminding us of Motörhead, especially thanks to Urbach voice. In The Trenches is a perfect album for true fans of punk, you know the genre we hear less and less nowadays because it’s always transformed in another musical style to make it something that has nothing more to do with punk rock except the name. This is an entertaining first album with great qualities that this new group of the San Francisco bay offers us, a band that has a great future. Excellent start! (March 2007 Featured New Artist)

Hellcat / Epitaph

The Stooges - The Weirdness

The Stooges, The Weirdness

The Stooges is that legendary group in which was Iggy Pop and which provided the foundations of what was going to become punk rock. In spite of some sporadic appearances and recordings through the years, the group had not recorded albums since 1973, the year of the classic Raw Power. Nobody really awaited this first disc in 34 years, since the history often proved that it was preferable not to come back after as many years during which we became true legends. It is thus with a certain indifference that I gave myself the task to listen to this new album and, as expected, nothing did make me fall from my chair. As soon as at the first track, "Trollin'", I had the feeling to listen to a new version of what Iggy Pop did during the last 25 years, a rather common rock sound which can be great in concert knowing the stage madness of Iggy, but which leaves us cold on CD. The Asheton brothers still work well together and the rhythm section is effective with Mike Watt on bass, but Iggy is straightforwardly not at the top of his game. His voice was however well on his last solo recordings, but here, he’s often flat which breaks all the energy, without forgetting that his lyrics are generally ridiculous (but that point is not so new!). There are anyway some interesting songs like "My Idea of Fun" and "She Took My Money" (in the Rolling Stones genre), but they are unfortunately quickly forgotten when we hear tracks like the annoying title-song and the redundant "The End of Christianity". The Weirdness is thus a quite pale copy of the 3 brilliant albums released by the group between 1969 and 1973. It’s a common rock n’ roll lacking energy we have to listen to by curiosity first for the legend that the group represents, but this new record will definitely not make history. (May 2007 Featured Review)

Virgin / EMI

Teddybears - Soft Machine

Teddybears, Soft Machine

Teddybears is a Swedish group which was already heard in various TV ads and shows (for example "Cobrastyle" that we heard in a Heineken TV ad and "Punkrocker" for Cadillac). We have to admit that the eclectic and energetic pop sound of the band is perfect for the advertising industry. They offer us music integrating elements of electronic and rock, an always danceable beat with unforgettable melodies. Moreover we quickly become completely dependent to this album because it’s so easy and fun to listen to it, while being of an unquestionable creativity. In addition to Fatboy Slim which comes to our mind on "Cobrastyle", we can compare Teddybears with Gorillaz, Groove Armada, Goldfrapp and Scissor Sisters (on a few occasions only). The special guests are numerous on the album, starting with the punk legend Iggy Pop on "Punkrocker". We can also hear Neneh Cherry on "Yours to Keep", Elephant Man on "Are you Feelin' It", the Jamaican MC Mad Cobra on "Cobrastyle" and Malta on the excellent "Different Sound", one of my favorites of the CD. We also find Daddy Boastin' as special guest on 2 tracks, Ebbot Lundberg of Soundtrack of our Lives on "Riot Going One" and Paloa on the hidden reprise of "Yours to Keep" as heard in the TV ad of Virgin Mobile. The second half of the album is a little more foreseeable, but remains effective anyway. This is an excellent first album for this group which will attract many fans in the years to come. A quite beautiful discovery! (April 2007 Featured New Artist)

Warner

John Tesh - A Passionate Life (CD + DVD)

John Tesh, A Passionate Life (CD + DVD)

John Tesh is a neo-classical / new age pianist giving us for almost the last 20 years primarily instrumental background music. On A Passionate Life, we can hear some of his revisited hits, accompanied by interesting covers. The CD contains 12 titles and the DVD, 9 titles. Only 2 tracks are found as much on the CD as on the DVD, the excellent "Cante Domine" (with Gregorian chants) and "Valley Of Dreams". The images of the DVD were captured in very beautiful venues or in the nature, which gives quite simply splendid images. For the sound recording, it was made live at the capture of these images. Among the covers we can hear, there is on the CD "Desert Rose" and "Shape Of My Heart" of Sting, "In Your Eyes" of Peter Gabriel and "Bring Me To Life", the Evanescence mega hit. The DVD contains another Sting hit, "Fields Of Gold", and the excellent "Against All Odds" of Phil Collins. As a whole, I have to admit I was surprised by an album of great quality which is sounding well in various circumstances in spite of the fact that it acts primarily as an atmospheric album. The orchestrations, always present, create a rich and deep sound and we find ourselves putting the volume to a highest level. This is a very good album which can be used to discover the genre if you’re not very familiar with it. (August 2007)

Garden City / Warner

Tiësto - In Search Of Sunrise 6: Ibiza

Tiësto - In Search Of Sunrise 6: Ibiza

After one year of anticipation for his fans, the well known DJ Tiësto is finally back with the 6th album of the series about the places which inspired him the most throughout the world when he was on tour around the globe. This time, it features the island of Ibiza in Spain, an island known for its imposing events and its night clubs where the best DJs of the planet perform. This double compilation perfectly mixed during 155 minutes offers uninterrupted techno trance music to the manner of Tiësto. He was able to reproduce the atmosphere of Ibiza in a splendid way, at such point that we have the feeling to feel the sun and the atmosphere of the island. Those which already went there will be even more capable to realize it. Tiësto has this single capacity to choose the good pieces and to create a perfect fusion with them, and it again comes to prove that he is probably the best DJ in the world in this moment. A first choice double CD to place you in the environment of the dance floors of Ibiza… (November 2007)

Black Hole / Fusion3

½

Tiger Army - Music From Regions Beyond

Tiger Army, Music From Regions Beyond

Not easy to come back with a new album after a CD as good as Ghost Tigers Rise, their excellent 3rd album issued in 2004. The Californian psychobilly band succeeds anyway in evolving on this 4th CD going beyond the genre and presenting songs having a great commercial potential ("Forever Fades Away" is a sure hit). One of the influences we can hear more on this record is new wave from the 80's (especially on "As The Cold Rain Falls") and some will say that they move away a little too much from their basic sound. Indeed, we find occasionally a little too much overproduction and we sometimes have the feeling that the group aimed radio success at any price, which goes in contradiction with their philosophy. At the end, which this album gains in variety and catchy songs, it loses it in energy and authenticity. Several of the melodies will remain in your mind, but you will not have the same satisfaction you had with their previous CD. Despite everything, it acts as a good album which should make their fan base grow. (July 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

Timbaland - Timbaland Presents Shock Value

Timbaland, Shock Value

Timbaland is especially known as producer for many famous artists including Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop Dog, Ginuwine, Nas, Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. Several of those artists collaborate to this 5th album by Timbaland. Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake contribute to the excellent hit "Give It To Me", whereas Timberlake comes back for the following track, "Release", as well as "Bounce" on which we can also here Dr. Dre and Missy Elliott. Some names come back often (Keri Hilson, Sebastian), whereas other names can surprise you (The Hives, Fall Out Boy, Elton John). With also 50 Cent, She Wants Revenge, One Republic and several others, Timbaland is particularly well accompanied for this 2nd album without his good colleague Magoo (who takes part here only to one song). His hits of the last years, especially those with Timberlake and Furtado, twinned with an exceptional promotional machine, made it possible to install all the tools to make of Shock Value a worldwide success. The album starts indeed greatly and creates high expectations for the songs to come. Unfortunately, it loses strength with the 5th, "Bounce", and it will be very hard to regain interest thereafter. It’s because that in spite of the exceptional quality of the production, the compositions are really defective and there are several pieces with easy and uninteresting beats (and we don’t even speak about the lyrics!). Some tracks will please strippers and they will certainly choose one of them for their number. It’s particularly the case with "Fantasy" which brings us almost automatically images of strippers on a stripper pole, like if it had been written to this end. Whereas I expected an album in the category of Justin Timberlake or Usher, I rather discovered a product which we could put side by side with a P. Diddy CD in the futile and unimportant category. Certain tracks will undoubtedly be among the most downloaded like "Oh Timbaland", "The Way I Are" and the hit "Give It To Me", but the problem is that they carry the album by themselves, an album which lasts a very long 62 minutes. The almost emo "One And Only" with Fall Out Boy has the advantage of changing the atmosphere at the 15th track. The remix of "Apologize" from One Republic and "2 Man Show", with Elton John on piano, will come to complete not so badly this album, which will have the advantage of leaving us a correct impression about the album. But it’s only an impression... (June 2007)

Interscope / Universal

½

Mel Tormé - The Very Best Of Mel Tormé

Mel Tormé - The Very Best Of Mel Tormé

Mel Tormé is a jazz singer in the style of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong. After having begun in the Forties, he especially was successful in the Fifties and Sixties, but the rock n’ roll era was frustrating for him and he doesn’t like what he did at the time. In spite of it, he was very active (and popular in the jazz industry) until his death in 1999. His unique voice made an excellent crooner of him. This ultimate collection of 22 titles begins strongly with “Lulu’s Back In Town”, his greatest hit in concert for years. Thereafter all his greatest hits will be heard: “Careless Hands”, “Comin' Home Baby”, “Born To Be Blue”, “A Stranger In Town”, and so on. One also finds a 15-minute medley of George Gershwin, the classic of Irving Berlin “Puttin' On The Ritz”, and the whole ends with his hit “The Christmas Song”. The biggest advantage of this collection is that it covers everything from the 40s to the 80s by including in addition to the hits some of his best performances on record and on stage. It puts despite everything the accent over the Fifties and Sixties, which were his best years. The Very Best of Mel Tormé is thus certainly his most complete and most interesting compilation on one CD only. (December 2007)

Rhino / Warner

½

Juan Pablo Torres - Algo Nuevo

Juan Pablo Torres, Algo Nuevo

Algo Nuevo is the re-edition of 2 albums by the group Algo Nuevo of the Cuban musician Juan Pablo Torres. The 2 albums, Con todos los hierros and Super-son, were issued in January and July 1977 respectively and we now find them entirely on only one CD, 30 years later. Torres was strongly influenced by the American jazz and we can easily hear it on these 2 albums, even if his Creole roots were always very important. The Latin beats are skillfully accompanied by orchestrations and it’s particularly interesting to hear percussions as an integral part of the melody. This is not only Cuban jazz that the group of Torres offers us because the beat can bring us in various countries of the Latin world, including Mexico on "Rompe Cocorioco", a track which can be compared to Santana at their beginnings. On the other hand, there are interpretations of some Cuban classics like "Tres Lindas Cubanas" and "Échale Salsita" reminding us that the arranger and trombone player Juan Pablo Torres has most of his influences from Havana. Mostly instrumental, the music of Algo Nuevo can occasionally include some words, or at least some sounds made with the voice. The 20 titles adding up 66 minutes form a great unit which could have been recorded for only one album, bringing twice the interest in this re-edition  of 2 of the best albums of the group Algo Nuevo of Juan Pablo Torres. A must have for the fans of Latin jazz... (August 2007)

Disconforme / MVD

Juan Pablo Torres - Romantic Cuba

Juan Pablo Torres, Romantic Cuba

Juan Pablo Torres is a musician and famous arranger from Cuba also famous around the world. He worked with names as famous as Charles Aznavour, Dizzy Gillespie, Bebo Valdés, Giovanni Hidalgo, Chucho Valdés, Arturo Sandoval and several others. They present us here a re-edition of 2 of his albums on only one CD. There is first Mangle: Instrumental (1975) on which he is the director of Egrem Orchestra with the master pianist Pedro Coto. The second, Grupo Algo Nuevo (1981), was also directed and arranged by Torres and he worked with his group, Algo Nuevo. For this one, he is also a soloist musician playing his favorite instrument, the trombone. The first of the 2 albums, we find here on tracks 1 to 12, offers us instrumental and very romantic releasing jazz. We can hear several Latin jazz classics by legends like Félix Reina, Carlo Puebla and Alfredo Morales. On the other hand, the title-track is a Torres composition and it’s described as a tropical bolero. The beat changes with the 13th track when we start the 2nd album. It’s a little more dancing and popular, whereas symphonic orchestra is replaced by a rhythm section (drums, congas and bass), brass and piano. We can even hear some voices occasionally. The music remains romantic jazz, but is a little more festive. The 8 pieces of this 2nd album are by far my favorite ones and make me double my appreciation of this very good collection CD. We can also find a very beautiful detailed 20-page booklet. Unfortunately, Juan Pablo Torres passed out on April 17, 2005 in Miami, but he would certainly like this re-edition of 2 of his very good albums. (July 2007)

Disconforme / MVD

The Traveling Wilburys - Collection (2 CD + DVD)

The Traveling Wilburys, Collection (2 CD + DVD)

The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup formed by George Harrison who put together in 1988 prestigious names like Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to work on a song that would become an entire album. The 5 characters then used pseudonyms with as surname "Wilbury". Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 sold more than 5 million copies and is classified among the 100 best albums of all time according to the Rolling Stone magazine. Following the death of Orbison, the remaining members decided to record another one in 1990, under new pseudonyms. That 2nd album was entitled Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 (yes! volume 3!), an album not as interesting as the previous one. The 2 albums, which were out of print for a long time, reappear finally in a remastered version. Each CD contains 2 bonus songs: 2 that were never released before ("Maxine" and "Like A Ship"), 1 from the compilation Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel Appeal ("Nobody's Child") and 1 which was only released as B-side of "She's My baby" ("Runaway"). To fill the hole left by a non-existent volume 2, they present us here a DVD containing a documentary of a little more than 20 minutes about the group with studio footage, as well as the 5 videos produced by the band with a remastered sound ("Handle With Care", "End Of The Line", "She's My Baby", "Inside Out" and "Wilbury Twist"). The whole package is offered in a great collection box with a 16-page booklet. A deluxe edition is also available with a 40-page booklet and other exclusive extras. We can say that once again the Rhino label was able to put together a very beautiful box which perfectly buckles the career of this legendary group. (July 2007)

Rhino / Warner

½

The Unseen - Internal Salvation

The Unseen, Internal Salvation

The Unseen forms certainly a part of the best current American groups in the hardcore punk genre with an incredible energy we receive right to our face. I loved their previous album, State Of Discontent, and Internal Salvation, their 6th album, continues entirely in the same direction. If you like the albums which alternate fast tracks and ballads, to allow you to take a breath, The Unseen is definitely not the group for you. We would rather say they seem like in a middle of a sprint and that the last of the musicians to finish playing the album will pay the beer for the other guys. And nobody wants to pay that beer... The album of 13 tracks, including an intro, lasts hardly more than 30 minutes. Songs like "Such Tragedy" and "Break Away" will become undoubtedly favorite ones in concert for a good energy transmission. This is a pleasant album which will not give you any annoying moment. They do not reinvent the genre, but at least they are entertaining… (August 2007)

Hellcat / Epitaph

½

The Used - Lies For The Liars

The Used, Lies For The Liars

Here is the 3rd real album by the emo group of Utah The Used. We can still partly compare them with My Chemical Romance and do comparisons with The Black Parade, but The Used doesn’t succeed in going far ahead in their art. Orchestrations of the first single "The Bird And The Worm" are not able to make the track brilliant. Moreover, in spite of several good pop melodies, a few among them remain in our mind. In spite of a sound approaching a little more metal, the aggressiveness which we found on their previous recordings is disappearing here, which will push back a whole audience of teenagers which was precisely attracted by this so useful liberating attitude, especially in concert. Lies For The Liars represents a kind of turning point in the career of The Used, but the result is not really better than the previous albums and it’s once again an average album which we have in our hands. At the beginning, they spoke about a group with an interesting potential, but we must start making up our mind that this is a group which is not likely to go much further to what it accustomed us until now. If you like their music, good for you, but don’t expect anything more... (August 2007)

Reprise / Warner

Bebo Valdés - Featuring The Legendary Vocalists

Bebo Valdés - Featuring The Legendary Vocalists

Bebo Valdés is a legendary Cuban pianist who was very present in Havana with his group, Sabor de Cuba (Flavor of Cuba). What is presented here is nothing less than 25 songs recorded with famous vocalists like Omara Portuondo, Celeste Mendoza, Pio Leyva, Pacho Alonso and “Guapacha” Borcela. These songs were all recorded in Havana between 1957 and 1960, most of them in 1960. They are traditional Cuban jazz with a very good mixture of dancing tracks and pieces a little more romantic and soft. The CD is presented in a very beautiful digipak case and is accompanied by a detailed booklet which will make you learn much about the artists featured here. Not only this 73-minute compilation brushes an excellent portrait of the musical talent of Cuba, but it presents a page of history of that single country. It is definitely an album to add to your collection… (November 2007)

Disconforme / MVD

Vanna - Curses

Vanna - Curses

Vanna is a post hardcore band from Boston presenting its very first album, in spite of an already long experience in concert throughout all America. The group had also offered us an EP of 6 tracks in 2006, The Search Party Never Came, which made a good impression within the US hardcore punk scene. Their sound, a fusion of punk and metal, takes its inspiration from bands like Norma Jean and Underoath. Their colleagues at Epitaph, Escape The Fate and From First To Last, also come to our mind in many occasions. The major part of the album is based on the screaming voice of Chris Preece, but we find anyway moments with melodies in some choruses. Few tracks arise truly among the others, except maybe for the first single, "The Things He Carried". Finally, Curses remains an hardcore album offering very few moments to sing along. Therefore, sensitive ears should listen to something else. (October 2007)

Video: "The Things He Carried"

Epitaph

Velvet Revolver - Libertad

Velvet Revolver, Libertad

The former Guns N’ Roses members (Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum) accompanied by the singer of the late Stone Temple Pilots (Scott Weiland) are back with a 2nd album after the success of Contraband issued in 2004. The most important problem about that 1st album in my opinion was the distance which existed between the sound of Guns N’ Roses and the style of Weiland. This problem is practically solved here whereas we have the feeling that Weiland was able to integrate much more in the sound of the group for a more cohesive unit. Perhaps that the producing of Brendan O' Brien has something to do with it since he worked with Stone Temple Pilots in the past. What doesn’t change on Libertad, it’s that it’s still possible to feel that Velvet Revolver is a group of stars and that their ego threatens constantly to make the band explode. But for the moment, they succeed in bringing all their energy on stage, because it’s not a secret that the group makes albums with the only goal of going on tour after its release. Once again, Libertad doesn’t push back any limits and the creativity is definitely not at the center of the album. It simply acts as a good rock n’ roll album which will make you move, and all its tracks are pleasant to play on stage and to listen to it for a good release of energy. This is the perfect album for the nostalgic people of the best 80’s hard rock and for those which despair to hear again Guns N’ Roses on CD one day... A version with DVD is also available. (September 2007 Featured Review)

Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster

Porter Wagoner, Wagonmaster

At a few days of reaching 80 years old, the traditional American country singer Porter Wagoner is still active and he offers us another new album recorded in just 3 days. We have to note his collaboration with Dolly Parton for the writing of "My Many Hurried Southern Trips", but it’s the following track which constitutes undoubtedly the central piece of the CD. Indeed, "Committed To Parkview" was written by Johnny Cash and was given in 1983 to the producer of Wagonmaster Marty Stuart who was a part of Cash musicians at the time. We can find it here recorded by Wagoner for the first time. What surprises when we’re listening to Wagonmaster, it’s mainly to hear how well he sings in spite of his age and it’s like he was 30 years younger. Wagoner, which was always faithful to the roots of country music, continues once again in the same direction, 55 years after his first recordings. It was never an alternative for him to explore pop music and he always was at the top of the list of the greatest singers of the Nashville music scene. This is thus once again a very good album which he offers us, an album which has a beautiful balance between happy and energetic songs and more melancholic ones. (August 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour

Already 4 years passed since Reconstruction Site, their 3rd album which enabled them to reach a larger audience. Even if they didn’t split up, the group comes back with Reunion Tour. We can feel a greater maturity and a greater self-confidence on this album. Indeed, John K. Samson and his band seem now perfectly to know in which direction they wish to go musically and what they want to say. Music of great quality accompanies their often sarcastic lyrics about their entourage in which we recognize types of people we meet regularly. The album begins strongly with the excellent "Civil Twilight" which gives the tone to this album resolutely rock, somewhat leaving the folk and the country aside (in spite of some occasions, including the closing track, "Utilities"). "Hymn of the Medical Oddity" introduces a young boy who was raised as a girl after a tragic medical experiment. "Relative Surplus Value" is also very good, just like "Tournament of Hearts" a song about curling, a very popular "sport" in their hometown of Winnipeg. We find again the character of Virtute the Cat, the narrator we were hearing on their previous album. The poem in music of "Elegy for Gump Worsley" largely modified my opinion about the album by dramatically breaking the beat which I loved until there. Even if some ballads are present on the disc, they do a good job to counterbalance the tracks with a little more rhythm. But, that track about the famous goaltender shouldn’t have had a place on the disc in my opinion. In spite of this unhappy moment, it’s once again an excellent album that give us The Weakerthans, an album which shows a little more the direction the band is taking musically. We can feel that the masterpiece is easily reachable. Check it out in a near future... (October 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Kanye West – Graduation

Kanye West - Graduation

It is a whole reputation Kanye West built in a few years only. The College Dropout is recognized by several like the best hip hop album of the 2000s and Late Registration came to eclipse all the other albums in the category in 2005. It is thus with much interest (and apprehension) that we awaited his 3rd album, Graduation. He offers here an album a little more personal, a little less imposing than his precedent. Less great orchestrations, less guest artists of big reputation and only 51 minutes (rather than the 70 minutes which became a standard in the hip hop industry) make of this CD an album a little more intimate and of a great softness. He uses the synthesizers a lot, often in a style which approaches the 80s ("Flashing Lights", etc). Sampling is once again quite present and is particularly obvious on "Stronger" whereas it uses abundantly and in a very beautiful way the song "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk, making it one of my favorites of the CD. "Good Morning" opens the album magnificently, gently awaking us before the listening of the album. Other tracks of first quality include "Good Life", "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Drunk And Hot Girls". The piano on "Everything I Am" is superb, all in softness. The weak moments are rare on the album, the worst in my opinion being "Barry Bonds". It is an album of very great quality offered once again by Kanye West, an album which is perhaps even better than Late Registration even if it is in a slightly different style. It acts certainly as the best hip hop album of the year until now. (November 2007)

Roc-A-Fella / Universal

The White Stripes - Icky Thump

The White Stripes, Icky Thump

Here is the 6th album by the minimalist blues/garage duet The White Stripes, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Whereas Get Behind Me Satan had been well far from making unanimity in 2005, Jack and Meg White come back with a record which draws more than ever in the deep roots of American music. They revisit all the styles of blues of the last century, while integrating folk, hillbilly and country (perhaps influenced by the fact that the album was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee). The piano is put aside to leave all the space for good old guitars, electric or acoustic. A new instrument makes its appearance on some occasions, the bagpipe. The instrument allows "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)" to explore the Scottish folk sound. Globally, Icky Thump is a more rock album than the previous one, with particularly heavy moments ("Little Cream Soda"), but we can hardly compare it with the other albums of the duet. The title-song is an ensured hit, but in my opinion, the following one, the country rock "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told)", is more likely to please the radios with its excellent melody. We can hear a cover of Patti Page, "Conquest", which is charged with brass and flamenco beats making it completely unique. The energetic "Rag And Bone" will be undoubtedly a great hit in concert, just like the excellent "I'm Slowly Turning Into You", whereas the ballad "A Martyr For My Love For You" is perhaps the weakest track of the CD, in spite of a good melody. The duet again succeeds in surprising us with several musical explorations which make of Icky Thump another creative album in the discography of The White Stripes. If Get Behind Me Satan had somewhat held you remotely, you can without any problem return to the group with Icky Thump which brings back certain elements which made its reputation, while going even further. On the other hand, if you seek a "hit" like "Seven Nation Army", forget it... (August 2007 Featured Review)

Warner

Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

Wilco, Sky Blue Sky

Here is the 6th album by the excellent American band Wilco (excluding their work with Billy Bragg). After having directed itself towards a British sound during the last years and to have left themselves gone in experimentation, especially on A Ghost Is Born, the group returns to the style of its beginnings with its country influences. We could even say that they present finally the follower to Being There, issued in 1996, an album many people consider as their best in career. This one is the first album since 2 new members joined: Nels Cline and Pat Sansone. The presence of Cline is particularly important, being a jazz guitarist of experience and great talent. In spite of this comeback to their roots, we can say that the band continues to evolve in a beautiful way with this creativity still overflowing. Like it’s always the case with the music of Wilco, you will need to pay close attention at each listening to really appreciate this album combining at the same time simplicity and musical depth. Do not seek the hit, because you will find only 12 parts of a very solid album. Even if they use once again a style I always had problems to like, annoying me in some moments (but it’s very personal), I must recognize that they offer again a first quality album. A version with a DVD is also offered. (June 2007)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

David Wilcox - Boy In The Boat

David Wilcox - Boy In The Boat

The Canadian blues rock singer and guitarist David Wilcox (not to confuse with the American folk singer with the same name) presents us a very new album. Wilcox offers us a sound with country and rock accents, the whole presented with much energy. He seems to be in a better shape than ever before. Dynamic “Drop The Pressure” and “Pistol Packin' Mama” start greatly the program and automatically cause great expectations for what is remaining to come. Thereafter, the beat slows down passably for the blues of “Catman”. It’s this type of variation which we can hear throughout the 12 tracks of the album for a total of 38 minutes on which one finds 5 original compositions through classics and traditional songs. Boy In The Boat is an album which is pleasant to listen to, the perfect album for any fan of blues rock. (January 2008)

Stony Plain / Warner

½

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II

Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II

By seeing the title of this new album by Neil Young, one seeks quickly in his discography to see when the first disc of this series was issued to finally realize it doesn’t exist. In fact, Chrome Dreams had been recorded circa 1977, but had been rejected by Young who had simply included the tracks on subsequent albums. Some of these songs proved to be among the bests of his career: "Like A Hurricane", "Powderfinger", "Pocahontas", and so on. By entitling his new album Chrome Dreams II, Young gives himself a certain pressure since it must equal the quality of an album he had judged not sufficiently good to release it, but which contained first quality tracks. This new album contains only 10 titles but adds up 66 minutes anyway. One finds good songs on this including the opening part somewhat country "Beautiful Bluebird". "Ordinary People", recorded in 1988, has an unforgettable melody and is the central piece of the album, even if it becomes straightforwardly interminable with its 18 minutes. One finds another part of more than 14 minutes, "No Hidden Path". The album, which is primarily a joining of songs around "Ordinary People", approaches especially the sound and the environment of Freedom issued in 1989. We cannot obviously compare it with his great classics, but Chrome Dreams II constitutes a very good record anyway. (January 2008)

Reprise / Warner

½

Neil Young - Live At Massey Hall (CD + DVD)

Neil Young, Live At Massey Hall 1971 (CD + DVD)

In the continuation of the release of archive series by Neil Young, here is an album recorded live at the Massey Hall venue in Toronto in 1971. This is an acoustic solo concert which was recorded after the album After the Gold Rush, and which should have come out on record before the classic Harvest. Except that Young was so excited about his new songs, he wanted to present them as soon as possible. So, we hear now for the first time this live recording, even if illegal copies have largely circulated for the last 36 years, making this record a legendary bootleg. When we listen to it, we realize it could very well have been offered to the public between his 2 classic albums without breaking anything in his career. The recording is close to perfection and emphasizes perfectly Young’s voice which is clearer and more precise than ever. We can hear 17 of his best songs, including 2 tracks of his album to come, "Old Man" and "The Needle and the Damage Done", now Young classics. Other tracks played here were going to only appear on record later during the decade ("Journey Through the Past", "Love in Mind" and "See the Sky About to Rain"), whereas 2 songs would never appear on a Neil Young record before today ("Dance Dance Dance", given to his group Crazy Horse, and "Bad Fog of Loneliness"). This special edition includes a bonus DVD with the images of the concert and a high fidelity sound. Although the images are dark and not very dynamic (Young is alone, sitting with his guitar), this is definitely a piece of anthology for any fan of the Canadian folk rocker. (May 2007)

Reprise / Warner

Youth Group - Casino Twilight Dogs

Youth Group, Casino Twilight Dogs

After a first album very appreciated in America (Skeleton Jar, their 2nd), the Australians of Youth Group heard their song "Shadowland" on the TV show The O.C., as well as the cover of Rod Stewart "Forever Young" which became #1 in Australia. So, here is the eagerly awaited new album Casino Twilight Dogs which includes that famous hit. The indie rock band continues in the same direction than on its previous one with a sound somewhere between Coldplay, The Frames and Elliott Smith. On this new CD, we can also hear a strong influence of the Beach Boys, especially from the legendary album Pet Sounds. They offer an extremely rich music perfectly arranged and produced. The use of orchestration in a couple of occasions (most specifically in "Start Today Tomorrow") comes to add to this music richness, giving some class to the album. You’ll probably appreciate the first single, "Catching & Killing", but also "On a String" and "Sorry", two other future hits. Weaknesses are pretty rare on Casino Twilight Dogs and, as I was expecting when I liked the previous album, they reach now a new level of quality. Youth Group is definitely a band we will hear about for a long time… (February 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

The Zombies - Live At The Bloomsbury Theatre, London (2 CD)

The Zombies, Live at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London (2 CD)

Instead of "The Zombies", we should read "Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent of The Zombies". But it’s too long and I don’t think it can cause a problem like they didn’t bother about the fact we see the name "The Zombies" on the cover of the album. Let’s assume it until the end. The two guys reunited for a concert in 2000 after a long separation of several decades and the energy was so great they decided to do a couple more concerts. Finally, 6 years later, they recorded two studio albums, did many shows and now release this live double CD (a version in DVD is also available). They are accompanied by Keith Airey on guitar, Jim Rodford (former member of The Kinks and Argent) on bass and Jim’s son, Steve Rodford, on drums. Accompanied by a string quartet, they present 25 songs, most of them from the catalog of The Zombies or Argent. It’s thus more than 100 minutes of classics that are offered to us with the excellent "Summertime" of Gershwin to conclude. A perfect sound quality and the exceptional shape of these musicians, who have more than 40 years of experience, make that these tracks still seem fresh and they are still very effective in 2007. You will hear once again with great pleasure "Time Of The Season", "She's Not There", "Hold Your Head Up", "God Gave Rock N’ Roll To You" and several others. A booklet a little more detailed with information on the tracks played would have been largely appreciated, but this is anyway an album to classify in the category of the great live recordings. (June 2007)

Rhino / Warner

Compilations:

 

Healing The Divide: A Concert For Peace And Reconciliation

Healing The Divide: A Concert For Peace And Reconciliation

Healing The Divide is a non-profit organization founded by Richard Gere in 2001 and that is dedicated to collaborative solutions to humanitarian crises. This CD presents a benefit concert which took place on September 21, 2003 at the Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in New York City during His Holiness the Dalai Lama 20-day tour of the US. The funds raised with the proceeds from CD sales will go obviously to the organization. This concert features Tom Waits, and his 50-minute performance is summarized here in 4 tracks interpreted with Kronos Quartet and Greg Cohen. One also finds an introduction by the Dalai Lama, as well as the music of The Gyoto Tantric Choir, Anoushka Shankar, Nawang Khechong, R. Carlos Nakai, Philip Glass and Foday Musa Suso. Healing The Divide wants to bring together the east and the west, but it should be acknowledged you will hear primarily music from the east on this CD which will like especially the amateurs of Asian music... and of Tom Waits. A completely eclectic album which has as only advantage of helping the organization. (November 2007)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

 

 

 

     

     

 

Custom Search


 

Copyright © 2001-2014, Musicomania.ca. Tous droits réservés / All rights reserved.

Email S'abonner à musicomania_ca sur Twitter / Join musicomania_ca on Twitter