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0-9 - 7 Weeks -

A - Active Child - Adams, Ryan - Akinmusire, Ambrose - Alesana - Alkaline Trio - All Time Low - Amos, Tori - Arno - Asa -

B - Bad Meets Evil - Bang Tango - Beastie Boys - Beyoncé - Big Sean - Big Talk - Björk - Black Keys, The - Blige, Mary J. - blink-182 - Brains, The - Breaching Vista - Bridges, Jeff - Brown, Chris - Bublé, Michael - Burgh, Chris de - Bush - Bush, Kate - Butler, Taurey -

C - Cake - Camille - Cars, The - Casal, Luz - Cascada - Chanté, Keshia - Chase and Status - Coldplay - Cruz, Taio - Cut Copy -

D - Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Dangerous! - Dears, The - Death Cab For Cutie - Decemberists, The - Dengue Fever - Derülo, Jason - Destroyer - DeVotchKa - Dø, The - Doolittle, Eliza - Down with Webster - Drake - Duran Duran - Dwarves -

E - East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles - Eisley - Elbow - Evanescence -

F - Faccini, Piers - Faithfull, Marianne - Fall, The - Falling In Reverse - Florence + the Machine - Foo Fighters -

G - Galactic - Gallagher, Noel - Gorillaz - Guetta, David (2) - Gym Class Heroes -

H - Hall, Daryl - Hangmen, The - Harper, Ben - Harvey, PJ - Heartsounds - Hedley - Henry, Joe - Holland, Jolie - Hollywood Undead - Hudson, Jennifer -

I - Ima - Irglova, Marketa - Isaak, Chris - Isaiah, Daniel - I Set My Friends On Fire -

J - Jane's Addiction - Jayhawks, The - Jay-Z & Kanye West - Jean, Nikki - Jonas, Joe - Jones, Booker T. - Jones, Oliver - Joy Formidable, The - Justice -

K - Kaeshammer, Michael - Kearney, Mat - Keren Ann - Kooks, The - Kylie -

L - Lady Gaga - Lavigne, Avril - Lee, Amos - Lehman, Patrick - Letlive - Lights - Li, Lykke - Living With Lions - Lloyd - LMFAO - Lopez, Jennifer - Lott, Pixie - Lovano, Joe - Luyas, The -

M - Maestro - Malajube - Malkmus, Stephen and the Jicks - Man Man - Manzanera, Phil - Marianas Trench - Marie-Christine - Mastodon - Metronomy - MG3 - Milman, Sophie - Milow - Mindless Behavior - Misses Satchmo - Moby - Modja, Inna - Mogwai - Mohombi - Moore, Katie - Morello, Tom The Nightwatchman - Mother Mother - Motörhead -

N - Naim, Yael - Ndegéocello, Meshell - Needtobreathe - Nekromantix - Nelson, Willie & Marsalis, Wynton - New Found Glory - Nickelback - Nicks, Stevie -

P - Pangman, Alex - Panic! At The Disco - Perri, Christina - Peter Bjorn and John - Picard, Pascale Band - Pitbull - Ponty, Clara - Portugal. The Man - Potvin, Roxanne - Protest The Hero -

R - Radiohead - Red Hot Chili Peppers - Reed, Lou & Metallica - R.E.M. - Rhino Bucket - Rihanna - Roberts, Sam Band - Roots, The - Rowe, Sean - Rowland, Kelly - Royal Bangs - Rubio, Paulina -

S - Scott, Jill - Set Your Goals - Sexsmith, Ron - Shaolin Temple Defenders - Simon, Paul - Simple Plan - Smashing Pumpkins - Social Distortion - Spears, Britney - Staind - Stan, Alexandra - Steel Panther - Stemm - Stone, Joss - Streets, The - Strokes, The - Sublime with Rome - Sum 41 - SuperHeavy -

T - Tempah, Tinie - Thursday - Tiësto - Tinariwen - Track, Matt - Turner, Frank - Turner, Kreesha - TV On The Radio -

U - UFO -

W - Waits, Tom - Waterboys, The - White Lies - Whitmore, William Elliott - Wilco - Winehouse, Amy -

Y - Yelle - Yes -

MISCELLEANOUS - Creepersin / Diemonsterdie / Others - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas -

 

 

7 Weeks - Dead of Night

7 Weeks - Dead of Night

Indie French metal band 7 Weeks was inspired by the 1972 film Dead of Night, directed by Bob Clark, to compose the music of this album which is intended as a side project in the group's recording career (their next album is planned for mid-2012). The music takes a darker and gloomy direction on this record that also includes excerpts of film dialogues. Julien Bernard and his band are able to captivate us into their world of horror for 45 minutes. Here is a concept album of great quality, the best record of the group to date. To discover! (April 2012)

Video: « Four Again »

F2M Planet

½

Active Child - You Are All I See

Active Child - You Are All I See

Active Child is a project by singer and musician Pat Grossi, who was once part of the Philadelphia Boys Choir. He is inspired by the electronic sound of the 1980s, as New Order, and he adds his falsetto voice and harp. The result is a mixture of electronic and choral singing, on a background of atmospheric alternative pop. Through the voice of Grossi, one can compare Active Child with Antony and the Johnsons, but also with A-ha for the oldest ones. What is particularly remarkable about this first album is that even if the inspiration comes directly from the 1980s, Active Child succeeds in creating original and contemporary music of the 2010s. You Are All I See succeeds in creating a beautiful atmosphere through its 10 tracks. The album is generally mild and wraps beautifully the significant lyrics of Grossi. The only thing that can be less interesting is the very high voice of Grossi that can become annoying in the long run, despite very fine arrangements. Finally, Active Child is not only the featured new artist of the month, but certainly one of the best discoveries of 2011. (November 2011 Featured New Artist)

Video: « Playing House »

Vagrant / Universal

½

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

Since 2000, we can say that the folk / alt-country singer from South Carolina has been quite prolific releasing a new album almost every year. Ashes & Fire represents a comeback for him after a 3-year hiatus, because his 2010 album, III/IV, was actually derived from recording sessions dating back to 2006-2007. The Cardinals, his former band, no longer exist and it is truly in solo that he attacks this new record. Fully folk, the album plunges into the Bob Dylan of the early 1970s. The atmosphere is soft and cozy only highlighting Adams’ voice and guitar. Some discrete arrangements are dressing it up in some occasions, but the record is above all a songwriter album, with very few musical explosions. While in the genre there are many artists that are superior to Ryan Adams for their creativity and emotions, the fact remains that he gives us a record that is pleasant to listen and the general atmosphere will appeal to fans of folk. (January 2012)

Video: « Lucky Now »

Capitol / EMI

Ambrose Akinmusire - When the Heart Emerges Glistening

Ambrose Akinmusire - When the Heart Emerges Glistening

Ambrose Akinmusire is a 28 year-old jazz trumpeter who grew up in Oakland, California. His quintet offers us a second album (the first for Blue Note) Ambrose co-produced with Jason Moran, who also accompanies him on piano for two tracks. The young musician signs 11 of the 13 tracks presented, all instrumental except for "My Name is Oscar" on which he speaks. This piece was composed in honor of Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old unarmed African-American who was shot and killed by the police in Oakland in 2009. Ambrose has the distinction of offering several intriguing titles ("Confessions to my Unborn Daughter", "Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto") and he confesses that he always writes the title before starting to compose, just for inspiration. He paid tribute to his mother in two interludes, "Ayneh (Cora)" and "Ayneh (Campbell)", and as her name means "mirror", he also reversed it for the track "Henya." Ambrose Akinmusire alternates throughout the album between moments of pure tenderness and intense madness with neverending solos. He managed to give a truly unique voice to his instrument. Despite his young age, we can already be compared to the greatests. Here is a musician to follow closely in the coming years. (July 2011)

Blue Note / EMI

½

Alesana - A Place Where the Sun is Silent

Alesana - A Place Where the Sun is Silent

After their debut in Baltimore, it’s in North Carolina that the post-hardcore band Alesana has truly established itself in 2004. Freshly signed to Epitaph Records, they present now their fourth album. Their previous record, The Emptiness, was a concept album based on a novel by Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee. Always as theatrical, the group is back again with a concept album, but this time inspired by a poem, the first part of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy entitled Inferno. For 62 minutes, the band tells a story in two acts with passion reminding us of the conceptual works of Green Day, but especially My Chemical Romance. Arrangements range from discrete piano ballads to a large orchestra with strings and a children's choir, all accompanying the sometimes shrill voices that are typical to screamo. A Place Where the Sun is Silent can be listened exactly as you listen to a story. The disadvantage of it is that we have an obligation to get fully in the story to be interested. Therefore, it is an album that will appeal to many while leaving behind a wide audience. Those who particularly enjoy theatrical rock albums should appreciate the story Alesana has to tell us. (March 2012)

Video: « Lullaby of the Crucified »

Epitaph

Alkaline Trio - Damnesia

Alkaline Trio - Damnesia

To mark its 15th anniversary, the Chicago pop punk band Alkaline Trio offers us a somewhat different album compared to what it did in the past. They decided to present some of their favorite tracks in a more intimate acoustic version. There are 12 of these titles already well known to fans, in addition to a cover of Violent Femmes, "I Held Her In My Arms" and two new compositions, " Olde English 800" and "I Remember a Rooftop." Damnesia has mainly the advantage of giving us a new facet of the pop punk band that has accustomed us to a constant energy. But, most of their compositions are not powerful enough from a creative standpoint to maintain our interest in a stripped-down version. Say that the album gives them primarily a new product to promote on their 15th anniversary tour which promises to be the most important of their careers. (October 2011)

Heart & Skull / Epitaph

All Time Low - Dirty Work

All Time Low - Dirty Work

The pop punk band from Baltimore is back with a new album, two years after the excellent Nothing Personal, which brought it around the world. Maybe it’s because they worked like madmen in recent years that they want to have fun and party on Dirty Work. Or they simply still didn’t lose their juvenile attitude that has characterized them since the beginning of their career. The ultimate party anthem here is "I Feel Like Dancin'", a song co-wrote with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. But, many parts of the album have a slightly more serious side. Throughout the CD, the focus is on quality of the melodies, riffs and rhythms. There are so many pieces that are catchy that with a little support from radio stations, they have everything it takes to become great hits, especially the excellent "Time-Bomb", my favorite one of them all which was co-written with Pierre Bouvier and Chuck Comeau of Simple Plan. Dirty Work has certainly very little evidence of punk and it’s rather a pop work of superior quality, a monster production. Maybe we can not find the creative elements that have enabled their previous album to become one of the bests in the genre in recent years, but this new album has all the elements necessary to acquire universal recognition, even for the least important fans of rock. (September 2011)

Video: « I Feel Like Dancin’ »

Interscope / Universal

½

Tori Amos - Night of Hunters

Tori Amos - Night of Hunters

Night of Hunters is a concept album based on variations of classical works by Bach, Debussy, Satie, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn and many others. It follows the journey of a woman in distress that is at the end of a relationship. Tori has tried to do concept works in the past, but we must admit that it was not always successful. On this new album, she managed to find the right tone, with just enough restraint not to steal the show from the musical work behind. The quiet atmosphere of the album is fully maintained until the end, all in rich musical arrangements thanks to John Philip Shenale. Of course, being based primarily on classical works, Night of Hunters will not reach her pop audience. Otherwise, it puts forward her classical roots for our own pleasure. The result is surprising, greatly interesting and above all, so pleasant to listen to. (November 2011)

Universal

½

Arno - BRUSSLD

Arno - BRUSSLD

This is the 18th album by this uncommon Belgian poet and rocker. On BRUSSLD, he presents 11 original songs, plus a piano cover of "Get Up, Stand Up" from legendary reggae singer Bob Marley. The one that might be regarded as the Belgian Tom Waits offers a bilingual album with almost as many French songs as English ones. A gravelly voice and experimental guitars, arranged in the blues rock and folk way, that's just a portrait of a typical recording in the heterogeneous discography of Arno, but unique in the European musical landscape. Originality is always present, but you will still have to make some efforts in listening to the album to successfully enter Arno’s truly unique atmosphere. (April 2012)

Naïve / SIX

½

Asa - Beautiful Imperfection

Asa - Beautiful Imperfection

Asa was born in Paris and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. She now presents her second album, Beautiful Imperfection. Recorded in Montreuil, France, the record offers us a wide variety of styles with lyrics in English and Yoruba. The set is a sweet mix of pop and soul, but contains anyway effective reggae beats that manage to capture us at one time or another. She certainly had great influences of the soul and R&B from the 1960s, and we can also detect a strong attachment to gospel on some occasions. So, Asa offers us a light and joyful album we can listen to without great efforts. Without revolutionizing the genre, the compositions are of high quality and perfectly fit the image of their talented creator. Asa progresses in a fine way with her second album, which is helping her to shape up her style a little more. (December 2011)

Videos: « Why Can’t We » - « Be My Man »

Naïve / Justin Time / SIX

½

Bad Meets Evil - Hell: The Sequel

Bad Meets Evil - Hell: The Sequel

In 1997, before launching a solo career, Eminem was part of a rap duo for a short period with Royce da 5'9'', Bad Meets Evil. They had at the time recorded a few songs in addition to doing concerts around Detroit. It's the rapper Proof (D12) that had gathered them at that time, and his murder in 2006 brought them back together. Hell: The Sequel is in fact a collection of various recordings of the duo, so the result is somewhat not consistent. Considered an EP with 9 tracks totaling 37 minutes, the record is also available in a deluxe version with two additional titles, which looks a bit more like a full-length album with 46 minutes. The most interesting about this album is that it brings back superstar Eminem to street rap, a little cruder than he has done since his solo debut. Royce also has good qualities as a rapper, qualities that he seemed to have trouble to present in his solo career. Here is an album with a few points of interest for fans of underground rap and fans of the two rappers. (August 2011)

Video: « Fast Lane »

Shady / Universal

Bang Tango - Psycho Cafe

Bang Tango - Psycho Cafe (1989) (2011 re-issue)

In 1989, hard rock (or pop metal) was at the top of the charts and the largest record companies were all in search of the new band with long hair that would break new barriers in popularity. Among all these groups, one of the most underrated was probably the glam rock quintet from Los Angeles Bang Tango which issued that year a very solid album of hard rock. Greatly influenced by Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses, the group also showed similarities with Living Colour and the Red Hot Chili Peppers by funk beats which they incorporated to their style. The group has perhaps not been as successful as expected, but it still managed to leave its mark on the music scene in Los Angeles. Twenty-two years after its release, here we are offered a re-issue of Psycho Cafe, a limited edition of 2000 numbered copies. We can again hear the hits "Someone Like You" and "Breaking Up a Heart of Stone", as well as the excellent "Attack of Life" and "Wrap My Wings". Simultaneously, they issue a reprint of Dancin’ on Coals (1991) with 2 bonus tracks, including a concert and a re-issue of the live EP Ain’t No Jive… Live! (1992). The time has come to rediscover one of the actors of the Sunset Strip in the late 1980s. (June 2011)

Videos: « Someone Like You » - « Breaking Up a Heart of Stone »

MCA / Metal Mind / MVD

½

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

In 2009, the Beastie Boys had to put their plans on hold for the 2 parts of Hot Sauce Committee when Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer. Thereafter, they dropped the first part to focus on the second that is now available on CD. The rap band which was influential in the 1980s won’t surprise much people with this new album. In fact, they offer us a new variation on their already established style. Where they manage to surprise is that they come back to a teenage attitude, this "I care less" attitude that characterized so much their early recordings. Their several attempts to be taken seriously didn’t represent the best moments of their career and that such homecoming was highly desirable. The group presents some memorable tracks as "Make Some Noise," "Too Many Rappers" (with NAS), "Say It" and "Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win" (with Santigold). Okay, the Beastie Boys are no longer at the forefront of rap, but Hot Sauce Committee Part Two proves that the band can still perform well in the style it created and use today’s technology. Here is a great record that will satisfy their long time fans... (July 2011)

Capitol / EMI

½

Beyoncé - 4

Beyoncé - 4

The former member of Destiny's Child presents her fourth album since she embarked on a solo career 10 years ago. The R&B singer presented a rather ordinary album in 2008, I Am… Sasha Fierce, despite the mega-hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)". Beyoncé has a huge challenge with 4, giving us an interesting album as a whole. From the opening ballad, "1+1", she seems determined to convince us of the power of her voice, but unfortunately it leaves us indifferent due to the lack of emotion she manages to give. The result is that we look forward to the next song only hoping that it will not be the case throughout the entire CD. A very odd choice to start an album... Three more ballads follow, and will probably make lose patience to those who prefer the pop danceable sound of Beyoncé. Only the fourth one, "Best Thing I Never Had", could catch your attention and stay in your mind. Subsequently, the songs alternate between rhythmic tracks and more introspective ones, but more importantly, the memorable moments remain rare. There are few moments a little more creative than on her previous record and the vocal performance of Beyoncé remains strong, but 4 is definitely missing a commercial hit of the magnitude of "Single Ladies". It is likely to be quickly forgotten, unfortunately. (September 2011)

Videos: « Run the World (Girls) » - « Best Thing I Never Had »

Big Sean - Finally Famous

Big Sean - Finally Famous

After a series of different recordings, the protégé of Kanye West comes up with his first official album, driven by the success of "My Last" with Chris Brown. The rapper gives us a very good mix of underground rap and music for a larger audience. "I Do It" is a guaranteed hit, while with "Dance (A$$)", on which he uses a sample of MC Hammer, he hopes to make the prettiest girls move their butt. Big Sean is in areas a little more sensual on "Marvin & Chardonnay", thanks to Kanye West who pushes the audacity as producer to add the sound of a squeaking bed at a very regular beat... Excellent rapper, Sean was able to give many dimensions to his album in surrounding himself with excellent musicians and singers. The 12 pieces are varied enough to keep our interest, while being fully linked. Finally Famous is an album both creative and fun to listen to, possibly one of the best rap albums of 2011. Here is a very good first attempt by a guy full of talent that should be followed closely. (September 2011 Featured New Artist)

Video: « My Last »

Def Jam / Universal

½

Big Talk - Big Talk

Big Talk - Big Talk

Big Talk is a project by The Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr., who presents his first album with guitarist Taylor Milne. Produced by Vannucci and Joe Chicarelli (The Strokes), the self-titled album is a blend of post-punk, new wave and pop rock. The melodies are always excellent and are accompanied by efficient rhythms. Vannucci takes much of his inspiration from the new wave of the early 1980s. For example, the synthesizer and the rhythm section on the first single, "Getaways", are reminding us of The Cars. Vannucci plays all the instruments and confirms his many talents. Even as a singer he is pretty impressive, since he has a beautiful voice, perfectly suited to his music. So, here is a solid debut album, with a clear direction and remaining effective until the end. (December 2011 Featured New Artist)

Videos: « Replica » - « Big Eye »

Little Oil / Epitaph

½

Björk - Biophilia

Björk - Biophilia

This new album by Björk is more than just music. It is rather a complete multimedia concept, including applications for iPhone and iPad. While Björk remains innovative at this level, it’s a lot less the case with her music. In fact, she returns with electronic sounds, some drum 'n' bass, which we are not strangers with, as she already used them in the 1990s. So, Biophilia, an ambitious album essentially intimate, presents an electronic sound that is getting old and brings nothing new. If Björk has been at the forefront, this is clearly not the case anymore today. In addition, her voice which is still too much in front, is seriously annoying on many occasions and we are better to adjust our sound so it is not that much in front. This will be less unpleasant when she will use her voice to create sound effects, many times throughout the record. Her longtime fans will certainly gather the items they liked, but they will have to turn to other electronic music artists to remain at the forefront. (November 2011)

Video: « Moon »

Nonesuch / Warner

The Black Keys - El Camino

The Black Keys - El Camino

On Brothers in 2010, the duo from Ohio managed the feat of perfect fusion of its blues influences a little dirty, its boundless creativity and accessible melodies. Moreover, "Tighten Up" became their first real hit in career, however after many great albums. On El Camino, the Black Keys are therefore still facing the challenge to continue moving in the right direction. They take their influences from the past, but this time, it is in the R&B of the 1960s that they are literally plunging. What is surprising from the opening track, it’s that the sound is much huger by this band which has based its career to date on a typically minimalist sound (guitar and drums). "Lonely Boy" has a rather rich orchestration and a choir. The sound is still a bit dirty, garage style, but the group goes definitely much further. It is this new musical direction that will dominate throughout the record with orchestrations and textures that give scope to the album. Producer Danger Mouse surely has something to do with it, him having worked with them on the bad Attack & Release. More rock 'n' roll than blues, El Camino runs at the speed of lightning with 11 tracks totaling just over 38 minutes. Apart from the acoustic "Little Black Submarines", the album is particularly energetic, and above all, highly entertaining. Be careful: El Camino is an addictive album! Not only can it already be considered as one of the best records of their career, but it appears easily among the best albums of the year. Here is a surprising album that is so much fun to listen... (January 2012)

Video: « Lonely Boy »

Nonesuch / Warner

Mary J. Blige - My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1)

Mary J. Blige - My Life II… The Journey Continues (Act 1)

New Yorker Mary Jane Blige has already a career of 20 years and she now presents her 10th studio album. Oddly, the title seems to refer to her 1994 album, My Life, as being the follower to it. But it is difficult to see how this album full of collaborations could be the continuation of the troubled and very personal album presented at that time. In fact, My Life II seems to be much more a logical continuation of her previous one, Stronger with Each Tear, and has nothing to do with Mary J. Blige in the mid-1990s. She still has her contemporary R&B with rap accents on different occasions. To do this, she can count on the presence of a whole bunch of collaborators: Nas, Busta Rhymes, Drake, Beyoncé, Diddy and Lil Wayne, among others. After an unnecessary introduction, the first half of the CD is rather dynamic with good beats and melodies culminating with the "Next Level" of Busta Rhymes. She also covers aggressively the success of Rufus & Chaka Khan " Ain’t Nobody". Unfortunately, the second half of the record loses its energy and a big number of ballads are presented one after the other. The interest is greatly diminishing and when the album ends, we seem to stay on our appetite. The good times and solid production are not sufficient to make us forget the boring songs. (February 2012)

Videos: « 25/8 » - « Mr. Wrong »

Geffen / Universal

blink-182 - Neighborhoods

blink-182 - Neighborhoods

After eight years of absence on record and many side projects, the now legendary pop punk trio makes its big comeback. Otherwise, the question arises as to whether the group can still be relevant in this music scene overloaded with young energetic, carefree and irreverent bands. After all, that’s what mainly characterized blink-182 in its debut and has made its trademark. The band became more serious on its self-titled 2003 album and that's when its star began to fade in front of new bands like Simple Plan. Neighborhoods is pursuing the tradition of their previous record in avoiding to go back to the teenage attitude of their best years. The punk rhythmic is still present, but with a side a little more atmospheric, perhaps borrowed from Tom DeLonge’s side project, Angels & Airwaves. The energy and efficiency of tracks like "Ghost on the Dance Floor", "Natives" and "Heart's All Gone" show us that a band like blink-182 can still be prominent in the rock landscape. After all, they are not 20 years old anymore, so it's probably best to hear them evolve rather than go after the teen humor of their debut. In addition, these quasi-progressive integrations give a new creative dimension to their music, even if their lyrics remain sometimes doubtful. Without revolutionizing anything, blink-182 proves it can still move forward in 2011, which many other groups in the genre don’t seem able to succeed. (November 2011 Featured Review)

Videos: « Up All Night » - « Heart’s All Gone »

Interscope / Universal

½

The Brains - Drunk Not Dead

The Brains - Drunk Not Dead

The Brains is a psychobilly band from Montreal playing since 2003. On Drunk Not Dead, the high energy trio seems to reach a new level when it compares favorably with the best acts of this genre on the planet. The playing skills are clear and the production is fully demonstrating the devastating vitality of The Brains. The influences of the 1950s rockabilly are still very present, but it is indeed a punk album, an album that may surprise an unsuspecting audience by its speed and aggressiveness. The rhythm section of Pat Kadavar (drums) and Colin The Dead (double bass) hammer relentlessly, while singer / guitarist Rene De La Muerte sings better than ever while offering us a guitar played at lightning speed and with full of distortion. From the beginning, you will have your ears full, especially with "We Are The Brains" and "Six Rounds", but also with the pop "Take What I Want (Souvenir of Monte Christo)", the track in Spanish "Gato Calavera" and the poignant song in French "Pourquoi me laisser". The Brains definitely reached a new peak with Drunk Not Dead and they have now their strongest album to date. (January 2012)

Video: « Six Rounds »

Stomp / Union Label Group

½

Breaching Vista - Vera City

Breaching Vista - Vera City

Breaching Vista is a band from Kitchener, Ontario which first made sensation with an EP, Breaking the View. They then presented their first album, Vera City, in the fall of 2011. The group can easily be compared with Simple Plan and Hedley, but also to Billy Talent and Jimmy Eat World. They therefore provide a commercial rock sound influenced by pop punk. Most of the 12 tracks of the CD are ready for commercial radio with catchy melodies and good beats, even in the songs a little more mid-tempo. They force you to toe-tapping and humming. Unfortunately, Breaching Vista offers a style of rock largely overexploited during the last decade and they fail to truly stand out from the mass. They should still manage to make you have a good time if you like the genre. (May 2012)

Video: « Nervous »

Bright Side

Jeff Bridges - Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges - Jeff Bridges

Actor Jeff Bridges had already released an album in 2000 called Be Here Soon, but very few people remembered it when he played the role of a fallen country singer in the movie Crazy Heart. He now comes to us with a self-titled album produced by T-Bone Burnett. It is surrounded by renowned musicians, including guitarist Marc Ribot (Elvis Costello, Tom Waits), that Bridges offers us a majority of American folk and country classics. The album starts strongly with the excellent "What a Little Bit of Love Can Do" by Stephen Bruton, one of the few moments of entertainment on the album, unfortunately. Most of his interpretations of songs by John Goodwin, Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey are boring and tasteless. Bridges also includes three new songs, but they simply fall flat, lacking any authentic Americana. (November 2011)

Video: « What a Little Bit of Love Can Do »

Blue Note / EMI / SIX

Chris Brown - F.A.M.E.

Chris Brown - F.A.M.E.

After the fiasco of Graffiti in 2009 and his escapades with Rihanna, pop / R&B singer Chris Brown has one goal with F.A.M.E.: Putting his career back on track. Judging the success of "Yeah 3X" and the R&B hit, "Deuces", we can consider it successful. But, the album has huge contrasts, from danceable pop, to ballads, R&B and rap. It will be rather difficult to keep the public interest throughout the album. If you like the danceable pop sound of "Yeah 3X", "Say It With Me" and "Beautiful People" are probably the only songs that will captivate you. If this is the rap of "Look At Me Now" that you like, a few moments can capture your attention, but it will seem very rare. Fans will have a disco tune in mind with "Oh My Love", but it stops there. In fact, probably that the fans of R&B ballads will be the most pleased with this album by Chris Brown. F.A.M.E. presents excellent moments, but with an album that long and too diverse, we lose your focus and it forces you to go over several titles. In addition, a deluxe version has 4 additional tracks for a total of 17. Brown seems on track for the future. (April 2011)

Videos: « Yeah 3X » - « Deuces » - « Look At Me Now » - « No Bullshit »

Jive / Sony

Michael Bublé – Christmas

Michael BubléChristmas

Few singers can pretend they have the perfect style for interpreting Christmas classics, except Michael Bublé. The jazz / pop singer still manages to bring a touch of modernity in some moments, for example in "Jingle Bells" featuring the Puppini Sisters. You can also hear a great duet with Shania Twain for "White Christmas". The whole still remains quite traditional with standard jazz interpretations. Christmas is ideal for those who prefer Christmas songs interpreted in a little more traditional way, without much creativity. (November 2012)

Reprise / Warner

Chris de Burgh - Moonfleet & Other Stories

Chris de Burgh - Moonfleet & Other Stories

After more than 35 years in the business, Chris de Burgh decided to invest in one of the most ambitious projects of his career. Halfway between classical and folk, with elements of pop and rock, Moonfleet is a concept-album with majestic orchestrations. It also includes several narratives, now recognized as one of the strengths of the famous singer. Moonfleet is a small village in Dorset, England, immortalized by English novelist and poet John Meade Falkner. As theatrical and a movie, the album certainly finds its best vehicle on stage, where the artist can finally visually present what he had in mind during his creative process. Even if the work is bold and grand, the fact remains that overall, the image of a rock opera, going in all sorts of musical directions not always fit with a creative standpoint. In addition to Moonfleet, the CD concludes with six other stories, from the smile of the Mona Lisa to the history of Iran, making this a long CD of 71 minutes. Despite some less creative moments and lengths, Moonfleet may please his longtime fans who will surely appreciate the courage of their favorite singer. (April 2011)

Ferryman / Justin Time / SIX

Bush - The Sea of Memories

Bush - The Sea of Memories

The British post-grunge band Bush had a huge success in the wake of Nirvana in the 1990s. On the other hand, the transition to the 2000s seemed rather difficult for Gavin Rossdale and his band, while the group was showing a glaring lack of creativity. Certainly out of inspiration, they no longer presented new material after Golden State 10 years ago. It was therefore a surprise to see a new record by Bush in 2011! This is a new version of the band that performs here while only Rossdale and drummer Robin Goodridge are back. Bush has also acquired the services of Bob Rock as producer. For this new album, Bush comes down to a rock a little rawer, away from the electronic experiments of the late 1990s. The group offers us an energetic rock, ready to be presented in arenas. Upon the first listening of The Sea of Memories, it seems we hear the follower to their excellent debut album, Sixteen Stone, issued in 1994 (under the name of Bush X in Canada). The "power ballads" are left out, finally! They still offer a piano ballad with "All Night Doctors," but this is one of the only contrasts with the pretty energetic ensemble. In fact, all that is missing on The Sea of Memories to make a great album, it’s some songs that would be a little more memorable, instant hits. For the rest, here's Bush in top form. (December 2011)

Video: « The Sound of Winter »

½

Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow

Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow

Kate Bush presents her first album of original material since the double album Aerial issued in 2005. More importantly, it is only her second album since The Red Shoes released in 1993 and which was not well received by the critics. A true perfectionist in the studio, Kate likes to take her time to give us an album to live up to expectations. And she seems to hit the bull's eye with this new record to accompany your cold winter nights. It offers only 7 tracks stretching over 65 minutes. There are several long spatial pieces requiring absolutely a great effort to listen. You really have to be permeated by the atmosphere, and when it happens, you can finally realize how Kate presents an album of great quality. Otherwise, she will likely send many people to sleep, since there is very little content more entertaining or tending a little more towards pop on this album. The songs are centered around the theme of winter and the accompaniment is limited to a piano and very discreet drums. Some minimal arrangements add a little more scale to the whole, but the sound remains essentially quiet, smooth. Kate presents a duet with Elton John on "Snowed in at Wheeler Street" and it is certainly one of the highlights of the CD. For the rest of the album, either you love or you will find it difficult to get to the end without dozing. But in any case, Kate Bush succeeds in giving us a solid record from an artistic point of view. (February 2012)

Noble & Brite / EMI

½

Taurey Butler - Taurey Butler

Taurey Butler - Taurey Butler

Taurey Butler is a jazz pianist and composer from New Jersey who is now based in Montreal. From the age of 7, he studied piano and he perfected it inspired by Oscar Peterson. He collaborated for several years with singer and bassist Eldee Young. Accompanied by Éric Lagacé on bass and Wali Muhammad on drums, Butler presents now his first album. He offers jazz classics, but also original compositions, with a strong technical expertise. He impresses with his melodies and the comparison with Oscar Peterson is very flattering. Taurey Butler is certainly a very talented pianist who manages to conquer us quickly. Here is a very good first album by a musician who will have a long career. (March 2012)

Justin Time / SIX

½

Cake - Showroom of Compassion

Cake - Showroom of Compassion

The California alternative rock band Cake has never really enjoyed great success since Fashion Nugget in 1996 that contained the very good cover of the disco hit "I Will Survive". However, they now present us their 4th album since then, their sixth in a total of nearly 20 years of career. Their last album, Pressure Chief, dated from 2004, so we can say that Showroom of Compassion represents a comeback for them, seven years later. Cake is the vision of one man, John McCrea, who is presumably surrounded by backing musicians. It seems to be the same once again on this new album while the rhythm section never steals the show to its star singer, even if it has an interesting groove. Yet the monotonous voice of McCrea could so easily be outdone by effective musical arrangements. Again, the band offers a cover, "What's Now Is Now", a somewhat obscure piece of Frank Sinatra. The most interesting titles of the set are limited to "Long Time", "Got To Move", "Mustache Man (Wasted)" and "Sick of You", even if the instrumental "Teenage Pregnancy" is not without interest either. Unfortunately, there are a little too many ordinary songs to make an album of superior quality. The project, reminding us of Beck in several occasions, still has some creativity, but it’s not sufficient to make this album exciting. (February 2011)

Upbeat / Warner

Camille - Ilo Veyou

Camille - Ilo Veyou

Since her debut, Camille Dalmais has attracted the attention of fans of new French pop, both in solo and within Nouvelle Vague. She is back with a fourth solo album, Ilo Veyou, three years after the acclaimed Music Hole. Camille offers us an album entirely acoustic, natural and gentle. To be even more natural, all the musicians have played live in the studio, without headphones or a metronome. Only her voice was multiplied to create a children's choir. Several major musicians and technicians have worked on this very special album. Clément Ducol created the arrangements for string quartet, in addition to playing guitar and prepared piano. The album was mixed by Oz Friz (Tom Waits) and they are professional embroiderers who created the cover, Nadège Richer and Priscille Pulisciano. Ilo Veyou is a bilingual album talking about love with folk ballads, ditties and tributes to classic R&B. "Le berger" takes us to the Middle East, while "Tout dit" concludes the record by taking us into the atmosphere of Björk. She can also remain in classic French pop, taking an accent like Édith Piaf on "La France". The album contains 15 tracks for 40 minutes exploring various influences. This is a beautiful CD, somewhat eclectic, but which is very pleasant to listen until the end. (March 2012)

Video: « L’étourderie » (Live)

Virgin / EMI / SIX

½

The Cars - Move Like This

The Cars - Move Like This

After more than 20 years of absence, the excellent new wave band from Boston enjoys a revival of this genre in many rock bands to come back with a new album. Of course, they lost their bassist Benjamin Orr who died of cancer in 2000, but that doesn’t stop their will to make a comeback, as expected since their separation in 1988. There had been an attempt of reunion in 2005 by Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes, but Ric Ocasek and David Robinson had declined. Easton and Hawkes have nevertheless continued their idea in the name of New Cars with Todd Rundgren, but this time, this is a true reunion for the four remaining original members. They requested the services of producer Jacknife Lee, who also takes the vacant bassist spot. On Move Like This, the band picks up exactly where it was when it was at the top of its career in the mid-1980s. In fact, this is perhaps the album that should have been the successor of Heartbeat City issued in 1984, rather than the mediocre Door To Door three years later. We find the same effective riffs and synthesizers as they had on their best records, and many of the compositions herein may be embarrassing for a few new wave bands of the 2000s ("Blue Tip", "Too Late," "Keep On Knocking", "Sad Song "). The Cars therefore present what can be considered as one of the most successful comebacks of 2011, for the excitement of their many nostalgic fans. (July 2011)

Videos: « Blue Tip » - « Sad Song »

Hear / Universal

½

Luz Casal - Un Ramo de Rosas

Luz Casal - Un Ramo de Rosas

Luz Casal is probably the greatest female voice of Spain today, besides being a great songwriter. Since the early 1980s, she is a true symbol of pride among Hispanic women. With Un Ramo de Rosas, one can find 14 of her most famous songs. Of these, note in particular the inevitable "Piensa en mi" which was put in the spotlight by the movie Talons aiguilles (High Heels) by Pedro Almodovar. Although the compilation covers 30 years of the singer’s career, you can hear four songs from her album La Pasion issued in 2009. You can also hear three new songs: "Gracias a la Vida" of Violeta Parra, the title track, and "18 Anos", a Spanish version of the classic by Dalida "18 ans", mixed by the French group Nouvelle Vague. A special edition of the album includes a second CD. Un Ramo de Rosas offers an excellent way to discover this great Spanish pop singer. (April 2012)

Blue Note / EMI / SIX

½

Cascada - Original Me

Cascada - Original Me

Cascada is a German trio of danceable euro-pop led by singer Natalie Horler. After two mediocre albums, the band had its first real international success in 2009 with the album Evacuate the Dancefloor and the hit title-track. Two years later they are back with Original Me. Many hits of the trio were often covers or songs with uncomfortable similarities with other known songs, "Evacuate the Dancefloor" for example is comparing a little too easily to "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga. So, it is with a smile that we see the title of this new album. And it keeps us smiling on the first song, "San Francisco", which compares dangerously to "California Gurls" by Katy Perry. Several other tracks of the album have embarrassing similarities with popular artists like Lady Gaga. We can find a few effective danceable tracks, but the album lacks desperately of creativity and contains too many irrelevant and boring songs.

Videos: « Pyromania » - « San Francisco »

Universal

Keshia Chanté - Night & Day

Keshia Chanté - Night & Day

Keshia Chanté is a young pop / R&B female singer from Ontario that is strongly influenced by Beyoncé. She gives us a pop sound at once energetic and full of sensuality. Several titles have great commercial potential, starting with the singles "Table Dancer", "Test Drive", "Set U Free" and "Shooting Star". The entire record can also be easily transported on the dance floors. To her R&B influences, Keshia adds electronic sounds and an occasional electric guitar that come to add to the musical palette of the singer and at the same time enrich her music. The album of 14 tracks includes several solid songs which have nothing to envy the best American artists in the genre. With Night & Day, Keshia Chanté definitely takes her rightful place alongside the major names. (March 2012)

Videos: « Table Dancer » - « Test Drive » - « Set U Free » - « Shooting Star »

Tanjola / Universal

½

Chase and Status - No More Idols

Chase and Status - No More Idols

Chase and Status is an electronic duo from London comprised of DJs Saul Milton and Will Kennard. They play drum 'n' bass dance music which made them deserve some recognition in recent years, especially in England. While the drum 'n' bass was rather fallen into the underground for a few years now, Chase and Status managed to bring it back to the forefront with their first album, More Than Alot, in 2008. No More Idols is their second full-length album and it includes renowned collaborators: Tinie Tempah, Dizzee Rascal, Cee-Lo Green, White Lies and Plan B among others. The album takes a tangent even more pop than on the previous one and it has all the ingredients necessary to become mainstream with highly energetic beats and memorable melodies. The album really starts at the third track with the excellent "Let You Go". Subsequently, "Blind Faith", featuring Liam Bailey, is recalling of Moby at the time of Play with an incredible wall of sound. As for Cee-Lo Green, he makes them particularly interesting on the excellent dubstep song "Brixton Briefcase". Chase and Status offer us a very varied album with No More Idols, from atmospheric electro pieces ("Embrace" with White Lies) to rap metal ("Hypest Hype"). Some compositions are custom made for the clubs, while others will undoubtedly remain in the underground. But what is sure is that Chase and Status have a creative and different album, surely one of the bests of the year in the genre. (December 2011)

Videos: « End Credits » - « Blind Faith » - « Time » - « Flashing Lights »

Mercury / Universal

½

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

The popular British band Coldplay is back with its fifth album, Mylo Xyloto. We have to admit that a relationship has always existed between Coldplay and U2. But here they push a little too much requesting the services of Brian Eno, who has participated in some of the best albums of U2's career. Eno has at least the advantage of creating space atmospheres rather interesting and adding at the same time some width to the album. Some tracks really stand out as "Hurts Like Heaven," "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus". The first singles, "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" and "Paradise" are also quality songs we memorize quickly. Otherwise, Coldplay remains in their comfort zone, nothing very creative. The melodies are effective and the atmospheres are grandiose, but there comes a time when it seems to have gone around the garden and half of the CD has just been passed. The idea to invite Rihanna to duet on "Princess of China" was not bad in itself to increase the chances of success, but the composition does not exploit the talent of the pop singer who does only act as a presence. The album features 14 tracks including some transitions, but in reality, they should have limited it to an EP by cutting it in half. There is a distinct lack of inspiration, which is a shame for a music group of this reputation that presented nothing new to us for the last three years. Despite good moments, Mylo Xyloto is certainly the weakest album of the band to date. (December 2011 Featured Review)

Videos: « Every Teardrop is a Waterfall » - « Paradise »

Taio Cruz - Ty.O

Taio Cruz - Ty.O

English pop singer Taio Cruz became an international star with his second album released in 2010, Rokstarr, which included the mega-hits "Dynamite", "Break Your Heart" and "Higher". With this new recognition, he comes back with the same formula on Ty.O with euro pop energetic songs that are perfect for dance floors. The album begins in fact with another smash hit, "Hangover" (with Flo Rida), a song which is really the engine for this new record of just 40 minutes. David Guetta gave new energy to Cruz who puts forward more house beats than R&B songs throughout the CD. We can even hear at the end of the record their collaboration of "Bad Little Girl" (with Ludacris) released earlier on Guetta’s album, Nothing But the Beat. This third album by Taio Cruz may seem quickly repetitive, because creativity is not often there. Otherwise, the boundless energy he displayed until the end will compensate and contribute to fully satisfy his new fans acquired with Rokstarr. (March 2012 Featured Review)

Videos: « Hangover » - « Troublemaker » - « Little Bad Girl »

Universal

Cut Copy - Zonoscope

Cut Copy - Zonoscope

Cut Copy is an indie electro Australian band that is not hesitating to borrow from the danceable pop of the 1980s, with great use of synthesizers. After an album that allowed them to stand out in 2008 (In Ghost Colours), the group is back with Zonoscope. Combining both rock and dance pop with catchy melodies, Zonoscope resumes where their previous album left, adding a happier side you can notice immediately at the opening track, "Need You Now" . The vocal harmonies are rich and carry us perfectly to the summertime, the perfect season to play this album repeatedly. Cut Copy has still a little melancholy in such songs as "Strange Nostalgia for the Future" and the ballad "Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat". All Zonoscope offers a beautiful unit, which makes it a worthy successor to In Ghost Colours. Maybe there is only a hit missing to make it one of the best albums of the year. (May 2011)

Video: « Need You Now »

Modular / Universal

½

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome

Rome is the result of a collaboration between producer Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi. The album pays homage to the traditional western spaghetti from Italian cinema. To complete the project, what better than to bring the voices of Jack White (White Stripes) and Norah Jones! Their collaboration gives us nothing less than the best moments of the album with Norah Jones on "Season's Trees" and "Black" and Jack White on "Two Against One" and "The World". The rest of the album is instrumental and is operating in the atmospheres of Morricone worthy of Tarantino films. Listen to Rome primarily as a soundtrack with some inequality, but a great capacity to create images in themselves. This is an interesting and unique project, but it certainly doesn’t please a wide audience. (August 2011)

Parlophone / EMI

Dangerous! - Teenage Rampage

Dangerous! - Teenage Rampage

Boundless energy and desire to have fun, that's what characterizes the Australian band Dangerous! Newly signed to the Epitaph label in 2011, the group was finally able to present its first album, Teenage Rampage. The quartet offers a garage punk / rock 'n' roll sound with some particularly strong influences of metal when they let their aggressive side out. In fact, the members of Dangerous! are in their music as they are in life, 4 young people who love to get drunk and destroy their hotel rooms. The compositions are simple and only one of the 12 tracks crosses the 3-minute bar, the last one, "D! or Die". It is therefore a perfect music to let out all the craziness. The production of Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Pantera) is rather raw and keeps the dirty side of the music of Dangerous! which may be similar at times to The Hives. Note also that the album was mixed by Marc McClusky who has worked with Weezer among others. This first recording by Dangerous! is certainly not revolutionizing rock 'n' roll, but it presents anyway a good entertainment, extremely dynamic. (February 2012 Featured New Artist)

Video: « Not One of You »

Epitaph

The Dears - Degeneration Street

The Dears - Degeneration Street

The Montreal indie rock band The Dears is back with a 5th album. Although Missiles, their last album, was less successful in capturing the attention, the band was nevertheless still offering quality and creative music. This is again the case on this new record, because the collective offers a creative and deep music. Despite a certainly difficult to approach dimension in their music, The Dears succeed every time in launching memorable melodies. Less atmospheric than the previous album, Degeneration Street goes back to large orchestrations, often accompanied by huge vocal explorations (sometimes exaggerated) by Murray Lightburn. The Dears influences come directly from the British pop of the 1990s and this can sometimes be annoying. Even if the band remains creative, it can somewhat sound old-fashioned at times. I must admit that if the group has influenced Arcade Fire at the beginning, these other Montrealers were able to evolve much more than The Dears in recent years. With Degeneration Street, The Dears offer us again a rather long album (almost 60 minutes), but it has the merit of being interesting until the end. The rock moments are both creative and energetic, while softer or mid-tempo moments show a good picture of the scope of their talent. Without competing with No Cities Left or Gang of Losers, Degeneration Street is definitely an album of high quality, once again… (March 2011 Featured Review)

Video: « Omega Dog »

Pheromone / Maple

½

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys

Death Cab For Cutie - Codes and Keys

After the excellent Narrow Stairs 3 years ago, the American indie rock band is back with a seventh studio album. What strikes first with Codes and Keys, is that it presents a side much less dark than its predecessor. Ballads about lost loves seem to be behind Ben Gibbard, perhaps because he got married since the last album... Here it’s rather almost half of the album that pays tribute to life, which is some kind of a clash with the previous work of the band. Another major change compared to the Death Cab For Cutie we know is the more frequent use of keyboards taking the lead on guitars on many occasions. The group also uses a little more the possibilities of studio and programming. The melodies and the overall style remains identifiable to Death Cab For Cutie, but it’s certainly their most polished album in career. Even if the content is interesting on many occasions, the group definitely preferred the container in the case of Codes and Keys. It’s not sure that this is the right direction to take, but it's still another good album for this band that seems to collect quality recordings since the beginning of its career. (July 2011)

Video: « You Are a Tourist »

Atlantic / Warner

½

The Decemberists - The King is Dead

The Decemberists - The King is Dead (CD + DVD)

The King is Dead is the fifth album by this indie rock band from Portland, Oregon. With this new record, the Decemberists show more than ever their admiration for R.E.M., Peter Buck even performing guitar on 3 songs including the excellent "Calamity Song" (in the style of R.E.M.). As the first single, "Down by the Water", it reminds us "The One I Love". You can also hear many folk and country influences throughout the CD with slide guitar and vocal harmonies that are typical of the genre. The group offers us perhaps its most accessible songs to date. But, theyre not all equally interesting, which is removing a bit of quality to the whole album. As a bonus, you'll receive a DVD with Pendarvia, presenting the making of the album for about thirty minutes. (March 2011)

Video: Album Trailer

Capitol / EMI

½

Dengue Fever - Cannibal Courtship

Dengue Fever - Cannibal Courtship

After the excellent Venus on Earth issued in 2008, the challenge is huge to Dengue Fever on this new record. But, the sextet is back with what has been successful on the previous album, only original compositions including many elements of creativity. There are lyrics both in English and Cambodian, and Eastern influences are always present in their indie rock sound. Various instruments are inserted into their music at one time or another, be it the flute, organ and brass, always with the goal of bringing a little more richness in a sound that is already filling our ears. Cannibal Courtship has ultimately most of the elements that made their previous album one of the bests in the genre in 2008. In addition, it is certainly their most accessible recording to date, which might finally propel them. Hopefully, as we well deserve to have a band as creative in the charts. (August 2011)

Video: « Cement Slippers »

Fantasy / Concord / Universal

½

Jason Derülo - Future History

Jason Derülo - Future History

At not even 22 years old, the R&B singer from Florida already presents his second album, after many collaborations. The megahit "Don’t Wanna Go Home" literally carries on Future History which has everything needed to get a monumental success with catchy and danceable pop songs. Derülo does not hesitate to use pieces from other famous songs, including "Africa" of Toto in "Fight For You". While not particularly original, his compositions have at least the merit of being effective. Otherwise, the lyrics are rather not really impressive and we quickly recall the young age of their author. The set is somewhat lacking in consistency, but the incomparable hits will please you when taken separately. In fact, Future History continues right where he had left with his first self-titled album in 2010, without too much room for evolution. So here's a record that is intended primarily for his fans. (November 2011)

Videos: « Don’t Wanna Go Home » - « It Girl »

Warner

Destroyer - Kaputt

Destroyer - Kaputt

Destroyer began in 1995 as a side project for Dan Bejar (New Pornographers). Fifteen years later, the supposed temporary project is presenting its 9th album. Already fairly experimental indie, the group now brings us into the 1980’s electro experimental pop. Many synthesizers, saxophone, flute and rather soft beats on drums make us almost believe that Bejar and his band have discovered a passion for new age music. But rest assured, the album remains indie pop with memorable melodies and enveloping atmospheres. It's a 9-track album that we can listen in a block, without major shortcomings. Destroyer fans will surely appreciate, as well as those of the New Pornographers. (March 2011)

Video: « Kaputt »

Merge

½

DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers

DeVotchKa - 100 Lovers

The Denver band has come up with its fifth album in 14 years of career. Recorded in the wake of large-scale concerts opening for Muse, the album tends to carry us into a majestic atmosphere with huge musical moments. The recent movie experiences of the group and its leader, Nick Urata, also influenced the album. This is the case at the opening track, the magnificent ballad "The Alley", which is reminiscent of the Flaming Lips’ space rock. Alternative rock gypsy of DeVotchKa definitely takes a different direction, bringing the chamber pop to a whole new level, while retaining its influences from Eastern Europe. The music richness is undeniable on 100 Lovers, but the creativity is not always there. It's like hearing a mixture of different artists ranging from Coldplay to the Flaming Lips, through The Frames, Arcade Fire and Muse. The problem is that the similarities can be sometimes annoying. In addition, the group seems to put all its efforts in the atmospheres and forget to provide us with quality melodies. With 100 Lovers, the band certainly managed to evolve, but unfortunately not in the right direction. The album has great moments, but it fails to match their previous recordings, that were more in subtlety and finesse. (May 2011)

Video: Introduction

Anti- / Epitaph

The Dø - Both Ways Open Jaws

The Dø - Both Ways Open Jaws

The Dø is a duo that began in France in 2005 while working on music for a film. Dan Levy and Olivia Merilahti then resumed their way into the indie rock music scene continuing to compose for various films, plays and dance performances. They presented their first album in 2008, A Mouthful, a record that has been very successful in France even though it was completely in English. In 2011, the duo is back with Both Ways Open Jaws, an album that fuses indie rock, folk and electronic elements with many explorations more or less accessible. They still manage to retain enough catchy pop elements to capture the attention of a non-initiated audience. The musical wealth must be emphasized, as this duo seems to particularly enjoy exploring different sounds and using all the instruments at its disposal, no matter how bizarre. The result is an album extremely rich and original which, although it requires several good listens, gives us an earful. (March 2012)

Videos: « Slippery Slope » - « Too Insistent »

Siamese Squids / Six Degrees / SIX

½

Eliza Doolittle - Eliza Doolittle

Eliza Doolittle - Eliza Doolittle

Young London female singer Eliza Doolittle said she was influenced as much by the Arctic Monkeys then by Stevie Wonder. We can definitely say that in any case her influences are extremely varied when you listen to that first album, released in Europe in the summer of 2010 and finally available in America. Eliza goes from retro pop to modern pop, to folk and ska. Some comparisons with her compatriot Amy Winehouse are possible, but she has mostly a style of her own, a perfect blend of retro and modern music. She’s even dipping into influences of jazz standards from 1920 to 1940, reminding us at times of Nina Simone or Ella Fitzgerald. For example, the double-bass of the first single, "Pack Up" brings us straight in 1930. Many pieces are essential summer anthems, as in the case of the excellent "Rollerblades", a light and sunny song of high quality. The opening track, "Moneybox" and "Mr. Medicine" are also noteworthy. Eliza Doolittle presents perhaps only her first album, but we can already foresee a bright future for this talented singer who won’t certainly have problems to evolve. (March 2011 Featured New Artist)

Video: « Pack Up »

Parlophone / EMI

½

Down with Webster - Time to Win, Vol. II

Down with Webster - Time to Win, Vol. II

Down with Webster is a Toronto group which smoothly blends rock and rap music in a rather energetic and accessible sound. On this second album, you will understand that they offer the logical follower to their first album, Time to Win, Vol. I, issued in 2009. The main problem with Down with Webster is that they lack consistency dramatically throughout their albums. They can give us instant hits and unforgettable songs as "Big Wheels" and "Professional", and follow up with insipid and disposable pieces which bring absolutely nothing new and are even sometimes downright annoying. This second volume still presents enough interesting moments for us to consider the album as being superior to their first one. An album for the fans of the genre... (March 2012)

Videos: « Big Wheels » - « She’s Dope »

Universal

Drake - Take Care

Drake - Take Care

First known as an actor, Toronto rapper Drake took his place in the music industry in the second half of the 2000s. He earned a huge success in the United States in 2010 with his debut album, Thank Me Later. He is now back with a second full-length of high efficiency. Take Care begins gently with R&B and hip hop lighter songs installing slowly the atmosphere for the album. We have to wait until the fifth track, the title track featuring Rihanna, for the album to officially start. The quiet atmosphere of the record had then already done its work and we end up conquered. While Drake is primarily a rapper, he is able to sing greatly with a gentle voice. The soft arrangements complement the late night atmosphere of most of the album even if it still contains some moments a little more pop. Drake can count on some important collaborators like The Weeknd, André 3000, Lil Wayne and Nicky Minaj. Otherwise, they have the inconvenient to emphasize the fact that Drake is not one of the best rappers in the world. He still gives us a second album of quality, a step forward from his previous one. But be careful: Take Care is primarily a late-night album that might disappoint you in a more festive atmosphere... (January 2012)

Video: « Headlines »

Universal Republic

½

Duran Duran - All You Need Is Now

Duran Duran - All You Need Is Now

The release of a new album by British pop band Duran Duran doesn’t pick up attention since a long time. In fact, it goes back to 1993 to hear an interesting album from them, Duran Duran (The Wedding Album), and to the early 1980s to hear their masterpieces, Rio being the best of all. So there were no great expectations before hearing All You Need Is Now. The album starts strongly with the title-song, "Blame the Machines" and "Being Followed" that have nothing to envy to their greatest hits in career. Later, it will also be the case for the excellent "Panic Girl" and "Too Bad You're So Beautiful". In fact, the group is in such a great shape that it seems to present the successor to Seven and the Ragged Tiger from 1983. Energy is there and synthesizers have never been so well used by the band since the 1980s to make a very good mix of pop and rock. As a producer, Mark Ronson manages the feat of bringing out the best from this band which had all the problems in the world to survive its best shots from 1981 to 1983. Obviously, this would really be exaggerated to say that everything is good on All You Need Is Now, since some ballads and uninteresting pop songs appear on different occasions. But the highlights are interesting enough to leave us a positive opinion about the entire CD. (May 2011)

Video: « All You Need Is Now »

S-Curve / Universal

½

Dwarves - The Dwarves Are Born Again (CD + DVD)

Dwarves - The Dwarves Are Born Again (CD + DVD)

The Dwarves have emerged in the Chicago underground of the mid-1980s. 25 years later, the punk / garage band is still active and continues to spread his misdeeds in the seediest clubs of the United States. Recognized as perfect troublemakers, they always give performance to the extreme, including sex and nudity, drugs and violence. After being "dead" in 2004 with The Dwarves Must Die, they are now reborn with The Dwarves Are Born Again. They present here no less than 18 tracks in less than 32 minutes. There are some strong and effective punk songs, mixed with pieces a little more accessible. The deluxe edition includes a bonus DVD containing music videos and numerous concert footage. There are also excerpts from concerts that have turned to fighting, often between the band and the audience, the concert ending abruptly in violence and total confusion. (August 2011)

Greedy / MVD

East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles - East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles

East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles - East Bay Ray and the Killer Smiles

East Bay Ray was one of the most influential guitarists of the 1980’s punk scene through his work with the Dead Kennedys. He presents now his new band, the Killer Smiles. The group also features singer and lyricist Skip McSkipster of the Wynona Riders who was also part of the recent tours of the Dead Kennedys. This first album was produced by Paul Leary, Butthole Surfers guitarist best known for his production of the self-titled album by Sublime in the 1990s. The sound of this first album is traveling between alternative rock and punk, and it even goes to acoustic ballad on "The Heart is Something". Without spilling any barrier, this new album by East Bay Ray proves he can still offer an interesting product more than 30 years after its debut. (November 2011)

MVD

Eisley - The Valley

Eisley - The Valley

After two critically greatly acclaimed albums in the mid-2000s, it took 4 years to hear more from the Texas indie rock band Eisley. The DuPree family now arrives with The Valley, a dark album that reflects quite well the various disruptions that several group members lived, including their contract ending with Warner Bros. Among these separations there is particularly the quick divorce of Sherri after only 10 months of marriage with Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. Fortunately, the vocal harmonies of the girls remain light and catchy as the lyrics take a much heavier direction on The Valley with titles like "Watch It Die", "Sad", "I Wish" and "Ambulance". Stacy takes more space in the musical creation of the band, the one that was only a teenager at their debut. It thus adds one more element in the creative process that materializes on the excellent title track and the conclusion, the very sweet "Ambulance". One feels a sentiment of urgency and frustration throughout the record, but the innate sense of Eisley for memorable melodies makes the album remaining accessible. Sherri's remarriage two years after her divorce, followed by those of Stacy, Chauntelle and their brother Weston in 2010, suggests that the next album will be a little happier. But I confess I don’t hate to listen to Eisley when they’re a little confused... (April 2011)

Video: « The Valley » (acoustic version)

Equal Vision

½

Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys!

Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys!

Elbow is a Manchester britpop band that has existed for 14 years and now presents its fifth album. The group offers us a typically grandiose music with musical flights extending over many minutes. With Build a Rocket Boys!, the band continues its ascent, and they present a rich sound with all the scale needed to fill stadiums, much in the tradition of Coldplay. It features pop songs with an excellent commercial potential, but the group concentrates especially its music on innovation and textures. With arrangements including old organs, electronics, orchestral percussions and different echoes, Elbow offers us a unique richness of sounding that manages to hypnotize us on the way. The main downside of the album is that there are several long pieces that become a little repetitive and thus seem endless. This will prevent Elbow to win a new wider audience. But their fans will appreciate again the new album that goes a little further in the use of musical textures. (June 2011)

Video: « Open Arms »

Polydor / Universal

½

Evanescence - Evanescence

Evanescence - Evanescence

In 2003, a group from Arkansas with a metal alternative sound compared to Linkin Park with a female voice appeared to us, Evanescence. The band reached the top of the charts with an absolute hit, "Bring Me To Life". Subsequently, as expected by most critics, the group scraped and was never a shadow of itself. Amy Lee and her band are back now with a self-titled album, five years after The Open Door. We hear very few surprising elements: metal riffs without much interest, an "emotional" voice by Amy Lee which doesn’t succeed anyway in getting the emotion, and large-scale orchestrations in the Meat Loaf style. However, it should be the renewal album for Evanescence while the group welcomes new members and a new producer in Nick Raskulinecz. The dramatic atmosphere is still present, but we rather find ourselves away from the Gothic influences of the band. Evanescence offers us nothing more than a pop rock album well recorded, well arranged and well produced. Unfortunately, there is no evolution and in addition, no track really shows throughout the ensemble, except maybe "The Change" and the single "What You Want" which remain a little longer in mind than the average of the other songs of the record. (January 2012)

Video: « What You Want »

Wind-up / EMI

½

Piers Faccini - My Wilderness

Piers Faccini - My Wilderness

The British folk rock singer Piers Faccini returns with a fourth album, after the very mild Two Grains of Sand in 2010. For this new record, Faccini is finally accompanied by musicians, rather than working solo. We thus hear Jules Bikoko on bass, Rodrigo d’Erasmo on violin and Simone Prattico on drums and percussion. One can also hear collaborations by Vincent Ségal, Ibrahim Maalouf and Makan Tounkara. Born a poet, Faccini still tells stories but, this time, on a much richer sound that takes its influences in both blues and African music, especially music from Mali. Ben Harper says that Piers Faccini is the greatest singer in the world. Without going that far, we can say he is not only a leading poet, but he possesses also great musicality. His way of whispering his lyrics is unmatched and it leaves all the room for the beautiful orchestrations, all in smoothness. My Wilderness certainly has more qualities than its previous record. (February 2012)

Video: « Tribe »

Tôt ou Tard / Six Degrees / SIX

½

Marianne Faithfull - Horses and High Heels

Marianne Faithfull - Horses and High Heels

Horses and High Heels is the 19th studio album by Marianne Faithfull, but we only had to wait for two years since the previous one, Easy Come Easy Go. Less jazz than its predecessor, this new record is returning to a more rock sound with elements of folk. She works again with her faithful accomplice, producer Hal Willner, who always manages to present perfectly the qualities of Marianne. On this new album, she remakes eight classics including "Love Song" by Lesley Duncan, "Goin' Back" by Dusty Springfield and "Past, Present and Future" by The Shangri-Las. She also presents several new compositions for a total of 13 tracks totaling 52 minutes. Among the guest artists there are Lou Reed, Dr. John and Wayne Kramer (of the MC5). Unfortunately, she does not always seem able to fully do justice to the compositions she performs on this new record, some simply falling flat. She does not succeed in recreating a new version of Easy Come Easy Go. (October 2011)

Naïve

The Fall - Ersatz G.B.

The Fall - Ersatz G.B.

The Fall was formed in 1976 in Manchester, in the heart of the British punk movement. Ersatz G.B. is nothing less than their 29th album, almost one per year. Concentrated around singer Mark E. Smith, The Fall went through several personnel changes over the years. The group also constantly reinvented itself, despite a guideline focused towards cacophonous guitars, many repetitions and spoken words instead of singing. This new record continues in the same direction, always with a certain density that can be annoying in the long run. The album is heavier than ever in some areas, as in "Greenway", an adaptation of "To GameBoy" by the Greek metal band Anorimoi, which brings us very close to the mosh pit. On "Monocard", the band explores experimental sludge rock. Just to make sure to destabilize us a little more, The Fall is playing rockabilly on "Mask Search" and it even refers to a Gossip Girl character on "Nate Will Not Return". With the opening track tending to garage rock, "Cosmos 7", as well as the very soft "Happi Song", sung by female keyboardist Eleni Poulou, there are good moments on the album. Unfortunately, it’s really going too much in all directions. It's fine to want to reinvent itself at all costs, but some guidance would be greatly appreciated on Ersatz G.B. which is far from being among the best albums of that long career. (April 2012)

Cherry Red / MVD

½

Falling In Reverse - The Drug In Me Is You

Falling In Reverse - The Drug In Me Is You

Three years after leaving Escape The Fate, frontman Ronnie Radke is back with a new band, Falling In Reverse. Most of the album was written during a stay of more than 2 years in prison for parole violation, and the group was even created while he was still behind bars. While Radke remains in the post-hardcore style that has made him known, Falling In Reverse takes a little more pop punk direction on different occasions with catchy melodies. Radke gives us a set of songs rather personal, always accompanied by a wall of guitars. The musicians are extremely strong and provide the dynamism and drama necessary to Radke’s lyrics. "Raised by Wolves" leads the album, even if it is accompanied by some other quality tracks ("Don’t Mess with Ouija Boards," "Good Girls Bad Guys", the title track). The set does not revolutionize anything, but it nevertheless remains pleasant until the end. (January 2012)

Videos: « The Drug In Me Is You » - « I’m Not a Vampire »

Epitaph

Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials

Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials

Directly from London, Florence is back with her Machine, two years after her first album, Lungs. From the opening track, "If Only for a Night", we discover a major contrast with the first record that was rather minimalist. Ceremonials presents instead a wall of sound, endless arrangements, violins, choirs, echo... the total package! Otherwise, which does not change is the creativity of the compositions. And the arrangements are only demonstrating the quality of these compositions in songs like the first single, "Shake It Out", the magnificent "What the Water Gave Me" and "Leave My Body" to conclude the CD. There are a few pieces on the piano as "Never Let Me Go", but they are much more embedded than on the previous album. And if you want a song with rock 'n' roll influences in the White Stripes style, you’re better to retake their first album and listen to the hit "Kiss with a Fist". Although Ceremonials arrangements can be scary at first, the musical richness found on this is really interesting. So the result exceeds the first album, even if it may put off many fans of the first hour. (December 2011)

Video: « Shake It Out »

Universal Republic

½

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Wasting Light is already the eighth album by the Foo Fighters in their 16-year career. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed for Dave Grohl in the post-Nirvana era. For this new album, production was given to Butch Vig who is working with Grohl for the first time since Nirvana. From the beginning of the record with "Bridge Burning", we realize that the band goes a step further in aggressive guitars, a Josh Homme influence, Grohl stooge in Queens Of The Stone Age, being not far away. On "White Limo", it's not only the guitars and the rhythm section that are pushing the sound to the extreme, but also the voice of Dave Grohl that is completely unleashed. Bob Mould is involved in the excellent "Dear Rosemary", certainly one of the best compositions on the album. We can also hear 2 former members of Nirvana: Pat Smear is back on guitar for the first time since The Colour and the Shape in 1997, and Krist Novoselic is playing bass on "I Should Have Known", another favorite of the CD. In fact, no song on the album can be considered uninteresting. Wasting Light definitely has the best effective collage of pieces since their first 2 albums. As a bonus, the maturity that benefits Grohl and his band today is perhaps so that we can consider Wasting Light as their best album in career, nothing less ... So here is definitely a must in 2011. (June 2011 Featured Review)

Videos: « White Limo » - « Rope »

Galactic - The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans

Galactic - The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans

The contemporary funk band Galactic took advantage of a unique concert at a club in its hometown, the Tipitina in New Orleans, to record it and present it on CD. Here is a nice follower to their very good album of 2010, Ya-Ka-May. The amazing amalgam of styles that offers us Galactic makes sense on stage with a horn section well at the forefront. What is hitting us from the first moments of this album is the sound quality. Some studio records have less magnitude than this concert recorded in a club! As it’s often the case on their studio albums, Galactic is surrounded by several collaborators: Trombone Shorty, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Corey Henry, Big Freedia and Cyril Neville. Despite an album of 13 tracks totaling 64 minutes, it seems incomplete. We would have heard more, especially since it lacks some important titles of their repertoire. Nevertheless, Galactic present here why they love playing music. It’s an ideal record to party and we have no difficulty in imagining the feel of the place that night of October 2010. (July 2011)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Noel Gallagher - High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher - High Flying Birds

While he was the creative genius behind the success of Oasis, it was quite natural that the eldest of the Gallagher brothers continues his path when the tension between the two brothers became irreconcilable. Even though Noel has produced good songs in the 1990s, we must admit that the comparison of Oasis with the Beatles was rather embarrassing throughout the band's career. It is therefore not very surprising that the first solo album by Noel, High Flying Birds, continues in exactly the same direction. It's sort of variations on the same theme, and this solo album could easily be a new record by Oasis. Especially that there is little difference between the voices of both brothers (Noel has often replaced Liam at the microphone in concerts when the latter did not want to be there). Finally, where the loss of Liam is the most important on Noel’s solo album (as Andy Bell) is to add a few solid songs as he had been able to do on the latest recordings by Oasis. Even if it’s pleasant to hear, High Flying Birds seems incomplete and short on memorable songs. Finally, it might be that the brothers go to the evidence that they are better together, even if their egos can not coexist. (January 2012)

Videos: « The Death of You and Me » - « If I Had a Gun… »

Sour Mash / Universal

Gorillaz - The Singles Collection 2001-2011

Gorillaz - The Singles Collection 2001-2011

In 2001 appeared a totally unique band, the first virtual hip hop group led by Damon Albarn and Dan the Automator. After three albums and quantities of remixes, it was quite logical that they present a summary of Gorillaz decade. These are the singles of the band that are featured here, 13 songs presented chronologically. To this they add two remixes of their first hit, "Clint Eastwood", and "19-2000". The main shortcoming of this compilation is that the booklet does not contain any details about the group, the project, and so on. Okay they always wanted to try to cast the mystery over this out of the ordinary group, but we would still have liked to learn a little more and a retrospective of this type is the perfect opportunity to do so. The deluxe version may succeed to satisfy those who want more. It includes a DVD containing their videos, a documentary, two Brit Award performances, and more. (March 2012)

Videos: « Clint Eastwood » - « Feel Good Inc. » - « Dare »

Parlophone / EMI

David Guetta - Nothing But the Beat

David Guetta - Nothing But the Beat

His album One Love in 2009 and his many collaborations with major R&B stars like the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna helped the French DJ to reach an unprecedented level of popularity worldwide in recent years. It is therefore not surprising that Guetta is using exactly the same formula for his new album, Nothing But the Beat. The 13 tracks of this new album can be listened to again as a compilation so that each one has the energy it takes to become a potential hit. There are a few filler tracks, like the ballad / dance music mixture of "Without You" with Usher, but most of the songs will end up likely on dance floors, on pop radio or with full volume in your headphones in the coming years. We already know very well the hits "Where Them Girls At" (with Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj) and "Sweat" (with Snoop Dogg). But you will also have to check out closely "Little Bad Girl" (with Taio Cruz and Ludacris), "Turn Me On" (with Nicki Minaj) and "Crank It Up" (with Akon). To conclude, David Guetta's album again lacks coherence and consistency, but it has all the necessary material to enable him to continue his popular momentum throughout the world. A deluxe version is also available, the 2nd disc including only instrumental electronic tracks. (October 2011)

Videos: « Where Them Girls At » - « Sweat » - « Little Bad Girl »

EMI

David Guetta - One More Love

David Guetta - One More Love

Following a blockbuster like the album One Love in 2009, it was normal to use all the best of it for the now-famous French DJ. Thats why we have seen various editions of the album by adding new tracks or remixes. Now, what they offer us is a 27-minute EP of the greatest hits of the album with a few additions. We can hear the monster hits "Sexy Bitch", "Memories", "I Gotta Feeling" (Guetta's version of the Black Eyed Peas’ hit), "When Love Takes Over" and "On the Dancefloor". One can also hear the single version of "Gettin' Over You" with Chris Willis, Fergie and LMFAO, as well as a new version of "Missing You". Finally, the only really new material on this CD is "Who's That Chick?" with Rihanna (the person to invite these days to get a hit!). In fact, the main advantage of this EP is to contain the best of the One Love album on a short CD at a low price. It's perfect for those who have not yet all this collection of hits on their MP3 players. And it’s certainly energetic and entertaining! (March 2011)

Videos: « Who’s That Chick? » (feat. Rihanna) : Day Version Night Version

Virgin / EMI

½

Gym Class Heroes - The Papercut Chronicles II

Gym Class Heroes - The Papercut Chronicles II

The band Gym Class Heroes comes from upstate New York and was founded 15 years ago. The group mixes to perfection rap, rock, R&B and funk for a sound that has many interesting elements at the basis. With this new album, Gym Class Heroes offers the follower to their 2005 album, the first part of The Papercut Chronicles. Compared to their latest album, The Quilt, released in 2008, they come back with an album a little more organic. They do actually a catchy pop sound closer to what they are able to offer on stage. Several pieces have tremendous commercial potential, starting with the excellent "Stereo Hearts" and "Solo Discotheque (Whiskey Bitness)". The group uses several collaborators, including Adam Levine for "Stereo Hearts", which could contribute to carry their music to another level. The effectiveness of pop music has everything it takes to be successful, even if the creativity of the compositions is definitely not present. (February 2012)

Video: « Stereo Hearts »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

Daryl Hall - Laughing Down Crying

Daryl Hall - Laughing Down Crying

Daryl Hall is best known for having been one half of the duo Hall & Oates in the 1970s and 1980s. It must be said that he got very little solo success. He releases only his fifth solo album in career, the fourth since the end of Hall & Oates in the mid-1980s and his first since 1997. Just a few days after the beginning of the recording sessions for Laughing Down Crying in 2010, his producer and best friend T-Bone Wolk suddenly died of a heart attack. The album is dedicated to him and it contains his last recordings. Hall presents what he does best in music, a pop rock sound pretty adult with subtleties. From the opening track, the title track, one discovers an acoustic song tending more to folk than what he made in the past. Otherwise, despite the frequent use of acoustic guitar, the whole remains more pop with synthesizers, smooth arrangements and some funk beats. The sound of Hall & Oates is never far away either! Where Hall is really surprising is when you realize how much his voice becomes more upright and pure over time. He never sang that well... On Laughing Down Crying, Daryl Hall presents the full width of his musical palette until the end, when he concludes the record in blues on "Problem With You (Bone's Last Ride)". Here is a very good album of adult pop that offers us a Daryl Hall in great shape, definitely his best record of the past 25 years. (December 2011)

Verve Forecast / Universal

½

The Hangmen - Lost Rocks: Best of The Hangmen

The Hangmen - Lost Rocks: Best of The Hangmen

The rock scene in Los Angeles was completely focused on the looks in the 1980s, so that some rock 'n' roll bands have been marginalized from the rest of the industry. This is the case for The Hangmen who have yet emerged in 1986, a time when hard rock ruled the charts. Their attitude a little more punk and their refusal to enter into the makeup and puffy hair wave has automatically ejected them from the manna that was the scene of Los Angeles at that time. So they played all those years in small bars often playing for their friends and a handful of hardcore fans. They still produced some very good songs over the years and we can find the top 15 of those songs on this ultimate collection. Among the 15 tracks, let’s note three songs from the album In the City issued in 2007 which was produced by Mike Ness of Social Distortion. Note also the presence of Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers) on "Coal Mine". As a bonus, there are three demos from 1985-86 that were never released before. These three new pieces were produced by singer-songwriter and guitarist Bryan Small in collaboration with Keith Morris from Circle Jerks. Here is the perfect album to discover this very good rock 'n' roll group, which unfortunately stayed too long in the shadows. (February 2012)

Video: « Wild Beast »

Acetate / MVD

½

Ben Harper - Give Till It’s Gone

Ben Harper - Give Till It’s Gone

The alternative contemporary folk singer from California is back with a new studio album after the excellent CD / DVD combo issued last year and recorded live at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Give Till It's Gone is his first album since the side project of Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur. Again, Harper is traveling between intimate songs, often acoustic, and sometimes a little more rock 'n' roll, as on "Rock 'n' Roll is Free" and "Clearly Severely" such as he lets go completely. That's when he’s heavier and energetic that he is definitely at his best, because he can really exploit his talent as a guitarist. There are obviously many personal moments when he confides to his audience just as in the opening track, "Don’t Give Up On Me Now." But, he also offers many mid-tempo pieces that alternate between acoustic and electric guitars ("I Will Not Be Broken"), often with a slightly funky sound that is not bad at all ("Waiting on a Sign"). Former Beatle Ringo Starr has contributed to the writing of two songs in addition to playing drums, "Spilling Faith" and "Get There From Here" (one of the bests of the CD). The album includes many good moments. But the inconsistency between the different tracks and some ballads and other mid-tempo pieces frankly boring make us give up at one time or another. I must say that Ben Harper had such problems throughout his career. He seems to have great difficulty in producing a strong and cohesive album from start to finish. Anyway, his fans should still appreciate. (July 2011)

Videos: « Rock ‘n’ Roll is Free » - « Don’t Give Up On Me Now »

Virgin / EMI

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

British alternative singer Polly Jean Harvey (PJ for her friends) is back with an album on which she comes back on her relationships with her homeland. All the songs revolve around the theme of war, which was particularly disastrous for England during the First World War. PJ presents tracks that are generally mild throughout the CD. For the voice, she still sings very high, which may be unpalatable to many. However, the quality is impeccable and PJ gives us again a great record, with a lof of subtleties. Eclectic arrangements and first class production make it possible for this album to present very few weak moments. (April 2011)

Videos: « The Last Living Rose » - « The Words That Maketh Murder » - « Let England Shake »

Vagrant / Universal

Heartsounds - Drifter

Heartsounds - Drifter

After a first album of punk rock in 2010, Until We Surrender, former members of death metal band Light This City, Laura Nichol and Ben Murray, decided to solidify their new group. They are now surrounded by two permanent members Kyle Camarillo (bass) and Trey Derbes (drums). With Drifter, Heartsounds continues in the same direction than with its previous record with a fast, melodic and highly technical punk rock. For the production, the band trusted again Zack Ohren with help from Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion). Their music is based primarily on guitar riffs that can impress on certain occasions (like the opening of "Every Second Counts"), but also stay a little unnoticed. In fact, the compositions generally remain rather weak. One song stands out of the ensemble and it is the title track with a pop punk direction that may have the effect to lend an ear to a public with good appetite for this kind of more accessible punk. Drifter allows Heartsounds to take a step forward, but there is still a long way to go before it really settles. (November 2011)

Epitaph

Hedley - Storms

Hedley - Storms

The quartet from Vancouver Hedley is back with its fourth album after the huge success of the previous one, The Show Must Go, carried out by the dynamic "Cha-Ching". Although the band had some pop punk tendencies in the past, it always sounded a little more pop than punk. In addition, ballads often prominently dominate on their albums. But it’s with Storms that Jacob Hoggard (an ex-candidate of Canadian Idol) and his band is really turning pop. The album opens with a series of ballads that, even if they are effective, lead us too much in the territory of the Backstreet Boys. We have to wait until the fourth track, "We Are Unbreakable", to hear a pop rock song a bit more rhythmic. But it is with the next one "Young", that the group continues the momentum started with "Cha-Ching", thanks to a memorable chorus and accompanied by vigorous clapping. "Bullet for your Dreams" and "Hot Mess" are the other entertaining tracks where the band is at its best and making us want to see them on stage, where Hoggard is the most comfortable. On Storms, Hedley is not shy to get synthesizers out of the closet and they present very licked arrangements. While the album is a little too clean and you are missing the trash side completely disconnected of Hoggard, Storms will likely allow the band to finally conquer the rest of the world. (February 2012 Featured Review)

Videos: « Invincible » - « One Life »

Universal

Joe Henry - Reverie

Joe Henry - Reverie

The songwriter, musician and producer is back on record, two years after the excellent Blood From Stars. Reverie is the 12th album by Joe Henry and he does not attempt to duplicate the previous record. He offers us instead a totally acoustic album from an exploration of three days in his home studio with his musicians. Mainly jazz, the CD also features some elements of folk. But what is sure is that the whole remains extremely soft until the end. It’s so soft that you could easily fall asleep at times. The cover in black and white also gives a good overview of what can be heard. The live recording presents on some occasions the sounds of every day in the environment of the house of Henry, like cars, barking dogs, and more. So it's an album that is very raw and natural that offers us Henry, an album completely different from the previous one that is not likely to reach an audience as wide. (December 2011)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Jolie Holland + The Grand Chandeliers - Pint of Blood

Jolie Holland + The Grand Chandeliers - Pint of Blood

Three years after The Living and the Dead, Jolie Holland is back with a new album, Pint of Blood. Accompanied by her faithful collaborators The Grand Chandeliers (Shahzad Ismaily, Greg Gersten and Marc Ribot), she presents a folk album with a little more rock tendencies inspired by Neil Young's Zuma, with nods to the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. This sound, somewhat different for Holland, can be heard quickly in the opening track, "All Those Girls", a rather raw folk rock song in which the electric guitar plays an important role. There are still later several tracks in the pure style of Jolie Holland, but the centerpiece of this record is certainly the country rock "Gold and Yellow". The album ends beautifully with a cover with gospel tendencies of "Rex's Blues" by Townes Van Zandt, a great interpretation. The themes are pretty unique to Jolie and she even adds her personal touch to the cover when she painted the picture for it. The album was recorded in several small studios, but always with the aim of preserving the live approach of the 1960-70s. While her previous album was possibly her most modern album, Pint of Blood greatly manages to bring us back to the origins of folk rock, while retaining all the personality of Jolie Holland. So, it’s again an album of great quality that offers us this unique artist with incomparable sensitivity. (October 2011)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Hollywood Undead - American Tragedy

Hollywood Undead - American Tragedy

The rap / rock band Hollywood Undead has experienced considerable success with his debut album, Swan Songs, after being discovered on the web, especially on MySpace. Despite a gold certification, the album had little interest musically. Three years later, the six masked guys come back, now with a new recruit, Daniel "Danny Murillo (an American Idol contestant), who is replacing Aron "Deuce" Erlichman. Don Gilmore is back for the production, but four other producers including Kevin Rudolf join the adventure, to make Hollywood Undead progress. American Tragedy is more varied than the previous album, but not much more creative. The band pitches again all the misogynistic gangster clichés, such genuine caricatures of rappers. Obviously, the comparisons are fairly easy to do, from Good Charlotte to Kid Rock, including Linkin Park and Kevin Rudolf. There are several fairly catchy pop moments, but few tracks are able to keep our interest until the end. The one that makes us truly listen is the highly effective "Hear Me Now", a song that certainly would approve Linkin Park. The ballads "Coming Back Down" and "Pour Me" bring them out of their usual machismo and also possess some power of seduction. But all the 14 tracks still fail to prove that the group can get out of its usual clichés to offer something a little more interesting from a creative standpoint. (June 2011)

Videos: « Been To Hell » - « Hear Me Now »

Octone / Universal

Jennifer Hudson - I Remember Me

Jennifer Hudson - I Remember Me

Singer and actress Jennifer Hudson won the Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2009 for her first album, which had yet nothing really exceptional. She presents now I Remember Me, an album much stronger and that can really compete with the bests of the genre. It contains some obviously less impressive compositions that are there to highlight the exceptional voice of the singer. But the CD has a nice consistency and a certain maturity making it interesting until the end. Its important to mention the contributions of Alicia Keys to the writing of three pieces, including 2 of the bests on the album, the excellent "Angel" and the disco "Everybody Needs Love". R. Kelly also offers her "Where You At", the first single and another of the good tracks of the record. With I Remember Me, Jennifer Hudson is proving that she deserves a good place in contemporary R&B. A very good album! (June 2011)

Video: « Where You At »

Arista / Sony

½

Ima - Precious

Ima - Precious

After Smile and A la Vida!, 2 records that have been hugely successful, Quebec female singer comes up with her first album in English. Totally made of covers, Precious immerses us in a few occasions, especially in the beginning, in a unique disco style, especially popular in the late 1970s. But, there are again several jazz and soul ballads. Ima is once again supported by her faithful collaborator Guy St-Onge who plays all the instruments in addition to co-producing the album with Tino Izzo. St-Onge was indeed the master behind the musical quality of Ima for many years. With this album, Ima openly targets the U.S. market, since she has been dreaming of an international career for a long time. The record starts strongly with the first single, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" of Rod Stewart, a song that fits perfectly with her. The Bee Gees also have greatly inspired her as she interprets two songs from them: "How Deep Is Your Love" and "To Love Somebody." Ima also explores folk music on a few occasions including a piece by Simon and Garfunkel ("Feelin 'Groovy"). "Stuck in the Middle with You", popularized at the time by Stealers Wheel and covered by dozens of artists since that time, is one of my favorites. But the song that had the greatest influence on this album by Ima, to the point of inspiring the title, is "For Your Precious Love" of Jerry Butler. On Precious, Ima really sings with her guts, leaving aside at the same time the perfect voice. One can indeed hear from her a hoarse voice a bit more than usual, a voice best suited to the compositions she performs. I would have liked a little more disco until the end of the album, as it falls quickly into extreme softness in the second half. Anyway, that's what most of her fans like in priority. Ultimately, Precious is a rather uneven album, which has some excellent moments and guaranteed hits, but also tracks that will make some listeners impatient. (May 2011)

Video: « Do Ya Think I’m Sexy »

Divine Angel

Marketa Irglova - Anar

Marketa Irglova - Anar

Marketa Irglova is a Czech musician who has been discovered at the age of 13 years old by Glen Hansard of The Frames. They would later record an album together under the name The Swell Season, a self-titled album released in 2006. They then captured the attention of the world by participating in the film Once which won an Oscar, a film by John Carney, a former bassist for The Frames. In addition to recording another album with The Swell Season in 2009, Strict Joy, Marketa sings in Iron and Wine. With Anar, it is therefore her solo debut. The singer-songwriter presents 12 songs dominated by piano and voice. The whole remains in the adult contemporary ballad genre, which can create an interesting atmosphere, but can also be downright annoying after a while. The arrangements are minimalist and the album will remain introspective until the end. While it is nice to discover Marketa Irglova without hearing Hansard by her side, he seems to be missed dramatically, at least from a musical point of view. The album lacks in scope and personality. The talent is there, but it seems that a boost from collaborators on the compositions could better serve and perhaps get her out of her shell. (February 2012)

Video: « Crossroads »

Anti- / Epitaph

Chris Isaak - Beyond the Sun

Chris Isaak - Beyond the Sun

Singer-songwriter from California Chris Isaak started his career more than 25 years ago. But it’s in 1989 that he obtained his greatest hit with "Wicked Game" and the beautiful music video that accompanied it. In 2011, he decided to have fun and pay tribute to the legendary rock 'n' roll label Sun Records. Obviously, it is a natural choice for the one who has never hidden to have been greatly influenced by Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley. By the way, several classics from Elvis are well represented here, even "Can’t Help Falling in Love" which was not recorded by Elvis during his years at Sun Records. I must say that, without imitating, Isaak is perhaps the singer whose vocal style is the closest to that of the "king" (you'll get a good overview of it in "It's Now or Never"). Other covers are unavoidable, like the excellent opening track, Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire", the electrifying "Great Balls of Fire" of Jerry Lee Lewis, and "Dixie Fried" of Carl Perkins. Isaak also recorded one of his own songs, "Live It Up". A deluxe version of the album contains a second disc with 11 additional tracks for a total of 25. On this second CD, you can hear among others Roy Orbison’s "Oh, Pretty Woman". On Beyond the Sun, Chris Isaak managed to reproduce authentically the music of an era with today's recording methods. A very good album! (February 2012)

Wicked Game / Vanguard / SIX

½

Daniel Isaiah - High Twilight

Daniel Isaiah - High Twilight

An accomplished filmmaker, Montrealer Daniel Isaiah is also a talented songwriter who was part of several bands before launching his solo career in 2010. He proposes atmospheric folk rock inspired by both Daniel Lanois and French music. He even includes two songs in French: "J’habite un pays" and "Mélissa." Isaiah presents a contemporary sound with strong roots in American folk and country music. Some moments are more energetic and change the dynamics of the entire record, as it is the case with the fourth track, "The Naked Night", which surprises us with its drum beat after 3 long intimate pieces. His voice does not always live up to his music and he seems rather still be in exploration mode on that side. With experience, he will certainly find the right direction for his voice so that it becomes full part of his music. If you can still feel the side project of a filmmaker with High Twilight, Daniel Isaiah has all the necessary talent to devote himself entirely to music, making sure to surround himself with the right people. (September 2011)

Secret City / SIX

I Set My Friends On Fire - Astral Rejection

I Set My Friends On Fire - Astral Rejection

Three years after a first album that had many interesting points, the post-hardcore experimental duo from Miami is back with Astral Rejection. I Set My Friends On Fire continues its experimentation and goes even a step further, alternating chaos metal, pop melodies and electronic moments. Okay, so was their first album, but they seemed to want to destabilize us at all costs on this new record and it’s a bit too successful. So much so that it is difficult to join this exercise in style, even by putting every effort. The contradictions are constant, not only within the same song, but sometimes every few seconds. We really feel an effort on their part to try to merge these different genres, but the problem is that few moments are interesting. The band is not at its best when it engages in the throat metal genre, is not very creative in pop and electronic music is from another era. This leaves very little reason to find the album interesting. In fact, you have to be a big fan of a different sound and especially, a destabilizing sound. Fans of their first album may succeed to be conquered, but Astral Rejection is certainly a step backwards for the group. (October 2011)

Epitaph

½

Jane’s Addiction - The Great Escape Artist

Jane’s Addiction - The Great Escape Artist

Jane's Addiction makes another new comeback presenting its first album since 2003. Dave Navarro is back on guitar and it’s Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio who is ensuring bass for most of the album. Former Guns N’ Roses Duff McKagan also participates to three tracks. Jane's Addiction was one of the most creative alternative bands in the late 1980s, but we must admit that those days are over. Perry Farrell managed to continue his mission in the 1990s with Porno For Pyros, but Jane’s Addiction won’t be anymore the innovative band they have been before. When we start listening to The Great Escape Artist, we could think we face a solid rock album. The first songs are interesting ("Underground", "Curiosity Kills"), and it peaks with the excellent "Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object)". Unfortunately, most of the following tracks are similar and it quickly falls into a routine rather disconcerting considering that Jane's Addiction has always been the kind of band to keep us on the edge of our seat. Boredom quickly sets in the second half and, although we are desperately trying to resist, we end up dropping out. And the worst is that there is very little to convince us to come back. Too bad! The Great Escape Artist is however a good album of alternative rock, but is unworthy of Jane's Addiction’s reputation. If you get to listen to it and forget the past of its creators, you will probably enjoy a little more. Please note that a deluxe version includes a second CD with 11 classics from the band recorded live at a festival in Mexico City. This interesting addition gives surely a little value to the album. (December 2011)

Video: « Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object) »

Capitol / EMI

The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time

The Jayhawks - Mockingbird Time

The alternative rock band from Minnesota has been around for over 25 years and if the count is correct, it would be only its eighth studio album with Mockingbird Time. Although the Jayhawks are not the most prolific band, they still managed to offer some high quality albums over the years, particularly in the first half of the 1990s with Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass Otherwise, for the last fifteen years, since the departure of Mark Olson, the group seemed to run out of inspiration. Mockingbird Time marks the reunion of the original line-up with Olson and it becomes perhaps at the same time, their best record since their peak of that era. The band still offers us a rock sound mainly focused on acoustic guitar, with keyboards and some country sounds. There are, to our delight, superb vocal harmonies that have made ​​the reputation of the group. At the opening track, "Hide Your Colors", we have the feeling to hear an old forgotten song from the repertoire of the Beatles. But, there are little more creative tracks like "Tiny Arrows", "She Walks in So Many Ways", "Cinnamon Love" and the title track. With Mockingbird Time, the Jayhawks may present us the best comeback of the year, to the delight of their fans. (December 2011)

Rounder / Universal

½

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne

Jay-Z and Kanye West united on one album, that’s a good reason to pay attention! Jay-Z comes with what is best in the fusion of free provocation and exploratory music, everything in a mixture rather pompous. As for Kanye West, he seems rather to offer us discards from his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy issued last year, starting with "Lift Off" which is a total mess. The mixture of the two rappers gives a rather strange music, often experimental ("Otis" with a sampling of Otis Redding and "Gotta Have It"), but sometimes warm ("New Day"). "Niggas in Paris" is certainly one of the highlights of the record, which makes sense when the compositions are solid and supported by a rich sound. Despite some interesting moments in the second half with "Murder To Excellence" and "Welcome to the Jungle", the abuse of the word "black" becomes somewhat annoying after a while. This self-inspection is ongoing on "Made in America," an autobiographical piece by West. The entire Watch the Throne is very pleasant to listen with great musicality, despite a lot of experimentation. Most of the compositions that are brilliant allow us to appreciate more this mix of Jay-Z and Kanye West. The standard version of the album includes 12 tracks, but several deluxe editions are available containing additional songs, a booklet for download, and more. (October 2011)

Video: « Otis »

Def Jam / Universal

½

Nikki Jean - Pennies in a Jar

Nikki Jean - Pennies in a Jar

A native of Minnesota, Nikki Jean was never able to break with her previous band, Nouveau Riche. She now comes to us with her first solo album, a pop rock album with soul and hip hop colors. In fact, Nikki offers us a real discovery trip in the heart of pop and soul of the 1960s and 1970s, with a touch of country. However, all the material presented here is new, composed by Nikki with the help of a variety of people. These composers include famous names such as Burt Bacharach, Carole King and Carly Simon. There's even an unfinished work of Bob Dylan, "Steel and Feathers (Don’t Ever)", which remained on the shelf for 30 years before Dylan agrees to Nikki Jean to complete and record it. The production of Sam Hollander and Dave Katz is faithful to the sound of 40 years ago, which will make many people nostalgic listening to this young female singer. Pennies in a Jar is a sunny and enjoyable album until the end, an album that makes us realize how pop music has been of high quality in the past, even if it’s totally new music. (October 2011 Featured New Artist)

S-Curve / Universal

½

Joe Jonas - Fastlife

Joe Jonas - Fastlife

The young pop singer Joe Jonas has had fame as a teenager as the leader of the Jonas Brothers. He makes his solo debut with Fastlife and offers us contemporary pop rhythms with R&B and electro. You can quickly compare him to Justin Timberlake since he presents a custom music for radio and clubs. He also hired producer Danja who has worked with Timbaland on FutureSex/LoveSounds by Timberlake. Although the compositions may seem simple, Jonas manages to inject the right amount of personality and emotion to his own compositions. Supported by a solid production, the interpretations of Jonas have the desired effect, both in the danceable tracks and the more emotional songs. The first single, "Just in Love," has nothing to envy the greatest artists in the genre and has everything you need in efficiency to make Timberlake jealous. The album ends with another version of the song including Lil Wayne and his lyrics a little rawer, but, the original remains superior. It's a very good album that gives us Joe Jonas, more adult than what he did with his brothers. So he entered through the front door in the adult world... (February 2012)

Videos: « See No More » - « Just in Love »

Hollywood / Universal

½

Booker T. Jones - The Road From Memphis

Booker T. Jones - The Road From Memphis

After the great Potato Hole issued 2 years ago, Booker T. has decided to provide an overview of his life in music, from Memphis to Detroit through Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The man nicknamed as the architect of Memphis soul goes one step further on this record. The famous Hammond B3 organ has obviously much room, but the album is not only instrumental. Jones surrounded himself indeed with singers lending their voices to three of the 11 tracks, of which Lou Reed makes a strong presence on "The Bronx" at the very end of the CD. Collaborators also include Detroit legendary funk guitarist Dennis Coffey. The other guitarist who brings a more jazzy color to the whole is Captain Kirk Douglas of The Roots. Booker T. starts singing in the song "Down in Memphis," a very personal piece nicely interpreted. But, it’s in the instrumental moments that Booker T. Jones remains at its best, as on the opening track, "Walking Papers". Another point to note is his instrumental cover at the B3 of "Crazy," a huge hit for Gnarls Barkley in 2006. The album was co-produced by Jones and The Roots and the result is brilliant, to the point of surpassing his previous record, which was, it must be remembered, his first solo album in 20 years. (August 2011)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Oliver Jones - Live in Baden, Switzerland

Oliver Jones - Live in Baden, Switzerland

Montreal's Oliver Jones is certainly among the best jazz pianists in the world. But on May 20, 1990, he was at the top of his game when he climbed the stage of the Kurtheater in Baden, a small town near Zurich in Switzerland known for the quality of its jazz concerts. It is on that evening that the communicative energy of Jones we can hear on this CD was recorded. He was accompanied by bassist Reggie Johnson and drummer Ed Thigpen. The pianist performs jazz and blues standards, as well as some original compositions. Among the 10 titles presented, there is a medley of George Gershwin, including the famous "Rhapsody in Blue", "I Loves You Porgy" and the inevitable "Summertime". Another highlight of the record is certainly the conclusion, "Hymn to Freedom" from the legendary Oscar Peterson. In that concert, Oliver Jones seems to really have managed to conquer the Swiss audience. Here is a very good live recording, which also benefits of a great audio quality. (February 2012)

Justin Time / SIX

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar

The trio from Wales, The Joy Formidable, was noticed in recent years thanks to its presence in various festivals around the UK. After an EP in 2009, the band presents its first full-length album. The Joy Formidable offers us an indie rock / shoegaze sound with guitars often noisy. The soft voice of Ritzy Bryan comes to contrast nicely with the wall of distorted guitars. The band goes on some occasions in fancy instrumentals like in "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie" and "Whirring", playing with the 7-minute bar. But, the band gives a solid performance in short, energetic songs like "The Magnifying Glass" and "Austere". "I Don’t Want To See You Like This" is certainly about the best compromise between both and it’s probably the best moment of the whole album. The Big Roar includes 4 songs from their EP in a completely reworked version and 8 new compositions for a total of 50 minutes with no major weaknesses. The most impressive thing with The Joy Formidable is that they are able to offer us a giant sound in the Arcade Fire style, even if they are only a trio. Here is a very good first test by a band to watch closely. (June 2011 Featured New Artist)

Videos: « Austere » - « I Don’t Want To See You Like This »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

Justice - Audio, Video, Disco

French electronic duo Justice is back with a new album. They had managed to get some success with their very good first record released in 2007 and containing the hit "D.A.N.C.E.". Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay continue in the same direction with Audio, Video, Disco, an album of house music in the style of Daft Punk with elements a little more pop or rock. Synthesizers still dominate, but there are a more guitar riffs than on their previous disc. The dance beats of course remain an essential part of the album, especially with the excellent tracks "Civilization", "Helix" and the title track. Again, the duo managed to present us a perfect mix of genres which remains very strong in the end. (January 2012)

Videos: « Civilization » - « Audio, Video, Disco »

Because / Warner

½

Michael Kaeshammer - Kaeshammer

Michael Kaeshammer - Kaeshammer

Originally from Germany, Michael Kaeshammer (pronounced case-hammer) is a Canadian pianist. After the success of Lovelight in 2009, he is back with this self-titled album, a short CD of 10 pieces and 36 minutes. It offers a pop-influenced jazz, with elements of soul and R&B. Mostly composed in Nashville and recorded in Toronto, the album features several collaborations. Among others, we can find soul / R&B female singer Divine Brown on "Heartbeat" and Jill Barber on the ballad "Shalimar Wind". The album begins with the first single, the dynamic "Rendezvous", before resuming with the excellent "Kisses in Zanzibar." Although Kaeshammer signs most of the compositions (with various collaborators), he also presents two covers, including the excellent instrumental "People Get Ready" of Curtis Mayfield, which allows us to appreciate his talent on the piano. Kaeshammer definitely presents an album of great effectiveness, perhaps his career-best. Fans of jazzy pop, take a notice... (May 2011)

Video: « Rendezvous (live) »

Alert / SIX

½

Mat Kearney - Young Love

Mat Kearney - Young Love

Mat Kearney is a songwriter from Oregon, now based in Nashville, which offers us a solid mix of alternative rock, folk, pop and hip hop. With Young Love, Kearney comes already with his fourth album since 2004. After various experiments, he now seems to have really found his own style and then presents his most accomplished album to date. He offers sweet pop melodies with always effective beats. His talent as a storyteller is undeniable and this style of adult pop suits him particularly well. He can remind us of the seducer persona of Bruno Mars and the ability to fusion hip-hop of Jason Mraz, but Mat Kearney first presents us original music with compositions of high quality. Few tracks stand out, but all the 10 songs can be listened to beautifully from the beginning to the end. On Young Love, Mat Kearney offers sunny music, perfect to make you forget the gray autumn. (November 2011)

Video: « Hey Mama »

Universal

½

Keren Ann - 101

Keren Ann - 101

A native of Israel and raised in France, the American of adoption continues her journey into the atmospheric adult pop sound. For her sixth album, Keren Ann chooses as title her lucky number, 101. The album was created following the death of her father and one can indeed hear this influence throughout the record. We find here perhaps her most personal songs to date, songs generally soft that tend towards folk on some occasions. After the first single, "My Name Is Trouble", few titles have some beat. Fortunately, there is "Sugar Mama" to create a change of atmosphere with a little lighter song making us breathe of relief, because the album might have seemed very long without it. Keren Ann has not only written the 10 pieces, but she also produces the album herself, retaining the complete control of the preparation of her album. The result presents a nice interiority and it’s that introspection that can quickly become tiresome. Even if the album has good moments, it lacks very much of energy, to avoid making us sleep and force us to skip some tracks. (May 2011)

Video: « My Name Is Trouble »

Blue Note / EMI / SIX

The Kooks - Junk of the Heart

The Kooks - Junk of the Heart

The indie rock band The Kooks was formed in Brighton, England in 2005. After a second album acclaimed by the critics in 2008, Konk, the quartet is back with its third attempt. The word attempt is particularly appropriate as the group steps out of its comfort zone on Junk of the Heart. "Taking Pictures of You" is experimenting with ambient pop, while "Time Above the Earth" is a full orchestral piece. The new wave melodies and reggae rhythms of "Runaway" are not without reminding us of The Police, while "Eskimo Kiss" reminds us of the harmonies of The Kinks. All these comparisons may seem very interesting at first, but unfortunately you may not be surprised for the right reasons. All this mixture of classic pop is inconsistent and is most of all surrounded by several mediocre compositions. Few songs will be able to truly keep your interest. The idea of ​​turning pop does not seem to be a bad idea on paper, but the result is far from convincing. The Kooks have just fallen for the first time... (February 2012)

Video: « Junk of the Heart (Happy) »

Virgin / EMI

½

Kylie - Aphrodite (2011 Experience Edition) (CD + DVD)

Kylie - Aphrodite (2010) (2011 Experience Edition) (CD + DVD)

In 2010, Kylie Minogue offered us an album that was more consistent than her previous one with Aphrodite (read the September 2010 review). As it is more and more the case, EMI present us now an improved version of the album, an Experience Edition. This reissue includes a bonus DVD containing live footage captured during her 2009 tour in North America. It also includes the making of her video for the hit "All The Lovers", behind the scenes of the photo shoot for the album and image gallery. The CD/DVD set is presented in a superb 28-page book filled with photos, including a collectible sticker of the album. Finally, the experience is complete with exclusive online access including an interview with Kylie. The only drawback of this superb edition is that the CD does not include any additional content from the original edition. Kylie fans will enjoy anyway this special edition to add to their discography. (March 2012)

Videos: « All the Lovers » - « Get Outta My Way »

Parlophone / EMI

½

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Here is certainly one of the most anticipated albums of 2011, the second by Joanne Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga. The Fame has indeed been a worldwide success in 2008-2009 with hits like "Just Dance" and "Poker Face". Subsequently, there was an overuse of the eccentric singer, releasing one after the other The Fame Monster (a more muscular version of her first album including the hit "Bad Romance") and The Remix (including club versions of her hits). By regularly being talked about because of her surprising theatrical outfits, her notoriety peaked like rarely equaled for an artist who has actually issued only one real album. The announcement in January of the release of Born This Way in May has created a hysteria among her fans. She gave them three single to wait for the album (the title track, "Judas" and "The Edge of Glory"), but they only fed the flame, until the final explosion, unless this is only a small fire... Born This Way has undoubtedly the best collection of hits of the year by a single singer. She’s successful in her fusion of disco and rock on songs with boundless energy, based on a greatly catchy beat. But, the provocative side of the singer we can constantly find on stage seems to have been left out for this record that doesn’t break any barrier. The influences of the 1980s are more than obvious, particularly Madonna. The melody of "Express Yourself" of Madonna even seems to magically appear in nothing less than 3 tracks, including the hit title track. Each piece of the CD has the potential to become a radio hit, but the full-length lacks just the right consistency and provocation to meet the huge expectations we could have had for this new album by Lady Gaga. Otherwise, it still remains one of the best pop records of the year so far. (July 2011 Featured Review)

Videos: « Born This Way » - « Judas » - « The Edge of Glory »

Streamline / Interscope / Universal

½

Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby

Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby

Following her divorce from Deryck Whibley of Sum 41, Avril Lavigne felt the need to return to reflexion with a more introspective album. She had already done that on Under My Skin in 2004, but she pushes the experience a little further on Goodbye Lullaby. She presents a whole series of ballads and mid-tempo acoustic pieces. In fact, a few moments bring us a festive and energetic sound as we could find on the excellent The Best Damn Thing. This applies to the first single, "What the Hell", with a beautiful energy that reminds us of the 1980’s new wave sound. "Smile" also differs from the batch, while the best ballad is certainly "Wish You Were Here". The problem with Goodbye Lullaby is that Avril is at her best when she becomes a little crazy in her songs. Her creativity goes down a notch when she presents mid-tempo songs and ballads, and you just want to ignore some tracks to move forward. This is what many fans will do by listening to this album, even if it has some good moments. I remain convinced that Avril Lavigne is too young to explore adult pop, which she had already tried on her very first album. (April 2011 Featured Review)

Video: « What the Hell »

Amos Lee - Mission Bell

Amos Lee - Mission Bell

The singer and songwriter from Philadelphia comes back with a new album, Mission Bell, 3 years after Last Days at the Lodge. He presents again a perfect blend of neo-soul and contemporary jazz, with his very personal touch of folk. Peerless raconteur, Lee delivers his lyrics smoothly while seducing his audience with his unique voice. It's Joey Burns from Calexico which is producing Mission Bell, and the other band members are accompanying Lee in this new adventure. He can also count on many guests, including Lucinda Williams and Willie Nelson. The orchestrations are rich on this new album, which can give a magnitude that was little known until now by Amos Lee. The melodies are still obviously very efficient and Lee gives us some strong compositions on Mission Bell. All these elements put in place have helped the album reach the top of the Billboard Top 200 in its first week on the market, thereby giving the best results of the artist's career. Unfortunately, the crooner side of Lee is sometimes on top of the quality of the