After the mega hit "Uptown Funk" with Mark
Ronson in 2014, Bruno Mars returns with a new solo album. Four
Unorthodox Jukebox, he comes to us
with a third record much more coherent from one end to the other.
Mars explores more than ever his funky side, definitely where he is
at his best, with still this background of R&B and soul that is
characteristic to him. It is rock, new wave and reggae that
disappear completely here, leaving at the same time songs much more
compatible together for a more solid album along its length. This
was the main problem of his previous record which nevertheless
contained great hits including the inescapable "Locked Out of
Heaven". On XXIVK Magic, Bruno Mars pays tribute to the black
radios of the 1970s and 1980s, with obvious influences from
Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and of course James
Brown in the funkiest moments. Mars unfortunately plays the bad
boy's card in most of the nine songs, which he does not need to do.
It is still his best album to date.
With only one song, "Cake By the Ocean", Joe
Jonas (from the Jonas Brothers) new band became a
worldwide sensation in less than a year. Flanked by Cole Whittle
(Semi-Precious Weapons) on bass and keyboards, South Korean
JinJoo Lee on guitar and Jack Lawless on drums, Jonas
now arrives with the debut album of DNCE. In addition to "Cake By
the Ocean", the record contains the recent hits "Toothbrush" and
"Body Moves", in addition to other infectious tracks ("Doctor You",
"Naked"). The quartet offers a mix of pop and dance rock, always
funky and energetic, with choruses revisiting disco. At times we can
compare them to Maroon 5, but DNCE is above all an
alternative to disposable and interchangeable pop music, proof that
pop music can be of quality. Will it pass the test of time? Several
songs on DNCE are likely to succeed this tour de force, with
not only unforgettable melodies, but also rich enough compositions
to remain interesting during several new listenings. Even the
ballads offered ("Almost", "Truthfully") remain pleasant to listen
to avoiding many clichés. It is therefore an extremely pleasant
album that offer us Joe Jonas and his band!
For their sixth album in total, The Lost Fingers
issue a first Christmas record. Produced by American John
Jorgenson (Elton John, Johnny Cash, Willie
Nelson, Pavarotti), Christmas Caravan is a new
kind of Christmas album that carries us around the world. There are
many recognized classics performed in their own way like "White
Christmas", "Frosty the Snowman" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain".
But there are also songs from elsewhere such as "Mele Kalikimaka"
and "Auld Lang Syne". On this last track, we can hear a famous
collaborator in Biréli Lagrène, one of the best gypsy jazz
guitarists in the world and heir to the throne after Django
Reinhardt. Other contributors include Spanish German Lopez
(on timple), Iranian Amir Amiri (on santour), Quebecer
Kattam (on percussion), and singer Kim Richardson. With a
choice of songs from different countries and different eras, it is
definitely a Christmas album as rarely heard. So much so that it is
a record that we will enjoy listening to throughout the year.
Christmas Caravan seems to go in all directions, but it still
has a lot of songs of great quality and especially beautiful
arrangements that make it irresistible. An excellent record, and a
very nice surprise! In addition, the whole is presented in a
beautiful case for the CD version.
Opera singer Joyce DiDonato has won numerous
Grammy Awards as well as being recognized for her charisma and her
social engagement. But she is above all one of the greatest opera
singers in the world. On this album containing 15 Baroque arias
exploring human nature, she tries to find out how to find peace in
the midst of the current world chaos that has found its climax with
the terrorist attacks of Paris and Brussels. She is accompanied for
the occasion by Baroque ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro directed by
Maxim Emelyanychev. The album is divided into two parts: “War”
and “Peace”. Most of the works presented are from Purcell and
Handel, but there is also Monteverdi and world
premieres of Leo and Jommelli. Here is a great album
for any opera fan.
Eric Clapton –
Live in San Diego (with Special Guest JJ Cale) (2 CD)
Eric Clapton and JJ Cale collaborated for the
album The Road to Escondido in 2006, but never promoted it on
stage since Cale had an aversion about touring. He did appear on
stage for one concert only for five songs on March 15, 2007 at
iPayOne Center in San Diego. These five tracks form the heart of
this double live album, released three years after the death of Cale.
The first CD starts with no less than five Derek & the Dominos
songs, including "Little Wing", the
Jimi Hendrixcover. Subsequently, Cale got on stage with
"Anyway the Wind Blows" and "After Midnight". Their collaboration of
five tracks is completed at the beginning of the second CD with the
classic "Cocaine". You can feel the joy that have had the two
friends getting back together to play music. After getting alone
with his musicians for pure blues, Clapton concluded the set of
nearly two hours with the inevitable "Wonderful Tonight", "Layla"
and "Crossroads". Less focused on his hits than some other of his
live releases, Live in San Diego offers a rather unique
concert where the guitar and friendship occupy the center of
attention. A great tribute to the late JJ Cale!
Following his Canadian debut,
Influence, issued in 2015, the
Torontonian comes back right away with a live album. Recorded at the
Silver Dollar Room in Toronto on April 14, 2016, Scorched Earth
contains seven tracks including several that are stretching for a
total of nearly 40 minutes. In this live context where the jam and
guitar dominate, Sayce is reminding more than ever his idol,
Jimi Hendrix, even if Stevie
Ray Vaughan never seems far away either. This live recording
certainly can make us discover all the musical talent of Philip
Sayce, without artifice.
After several monster hits by Jason Derulo,
Warner decided to assemble them on Platinum Hits. Among the
12 tracks, only "Don’t Wanna Go Home" and the new song "Kiss the
Sky" are not platinum hits. With a CD counting only 41 minutes, it
is a rather succinct compilation that is offered to us. It still
includes hits from 2009 to 2015, including "Whatcha Say", "Talk
Dirty", "Wiggle" and "Want To Want Me". Without being an ultimate
collection, Platinum Hits demonstrates nevertheless the
importance Derulo has had on the pop scene during the first half of
The Quebecer releases his third album with
Summer Is Gone. Produced by Martin Terefe (Mike Posner,
Shawn Mendes, James Blunt), the album once again
offers soulful pop rock songs, all delivered with Bazini's unique
voice. According to the first single, "C'est là vie", the artist
seems determined to take back where he left two years ago with the
Where I Belong, with a song with
an unforgettable melody that should have no difficulty in conquering
radios. For the first time, Bobby Bazini collaborates with authors
and composers for writing, which adds a very interesting external
opinion on several songs. He managed to preserve his influences of
the past while modernizing his sound to bring it up to date. This is
again a very good record that proposes Bobby Bazini, a great
evolution for him.
With This House is Not for Sale, the band
from New Jersey releases its 14th album in more than 30 years of
career. Bon Jovi takes an important turn with this album since it is
the first one without Richie Sambora, the guitarist who
occupied an important place in the group and who left in the middle
of a conflict. The band is far from being pitiful about its fate
when it returns to an energetic and aggressive rock sound, without
too many tearful ballads. In this sense, this new recording reminds
Have a Nice Day released in 2005,
the first record produced by John Shanks who is back here for
a sixth collaboration. Without returning to the style of their best
years in the 1980s, Bon Jovi manage to refresh their sound with a
pleasant album to listen to as a whole.
The Australian artist has never hesitated to visit
the darkest corners of the human being, and it is still the case on
Skeleton Tree, his 16th album. It must be said that Nick Cave
lived a huge drama during the preparation of this new record: his
15-year-old son died tragically in July 2015 after falling from a
cliff. This drama stained the whole of Skeleton Tree which
becomes at the same time perhaps his most touching work to this day.
It is a modest album of eight tracks and 40 minutes, with a black
cover. Overall rather intimate, the album does not contain large
orchestral parts. Most of the pieces give the feeling of an author's
reading on a background of ambient music. Skeleton Tree
contains a very special atmosphere, dark, touching and captivating.
This is again an excellent record for Nick Cave and his band.
If we ignore their project with Lou Reed
five years ago for
Lulu, it took eight years for a
new album by Metallica. Hardwired... To Self-Destruct is the
logical continuation of
Death Magnetic which marked a
return to their sound of the 1980s. Here, not only can we easily
compare the band to what it did at the time of
…And Justice For All, but it
offers in addition long songs between 6 and 8 minutes. With 12
tracks, it is thus nearly 78 minutes of music that are offered to
us, oddly on two CDs whereas the space was sufficient on a single
one, probably to remind the years of the double vinyl. Several
tracks of this new album have a drum that is shooting us and an
unleashed guitar, but the band also slows down the rhythm on many
occasions, as if they could no longer sustain the pace throughout a
double album. It must be said that after 35 years of career,
Metallica is part of the veterans of metal and may not have the same
energy than the new generation. However, there are enough moments to
satisfy their fans from the beginning, while not forsaking those who
arrived later. The band pays tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister,
who died a year ago, on "Murder One". Only the title track is
limited to three minutes, but it is certainly the fastest song with
Lars Ulrich seeming particularly in good shape behind his
drums. Other interesting moments include "Moth Into Flame", "Dream
No More" and "Spit Out the Bone" in conclusion. A very effective
With 57th and 9th, it is a return to pop
rock that Sting performs after various explorations. Named because
of the street corner in Manhattan that he was going through every
day to get to the studio, 57th and 9th always revolves around
the themes of travel and moving. In its first half, the CD presents
several energetic songs with even rock 'n' roll. On the other hand,
Sting greatly slows down the tempo in a much more introspective
second half. On the whole, the former leader of The Police
offers very good compositions, so that he has lost nothing of his
Montreal's Martha Wainwright is back on record
after releasing the soundtrack of the French TV series
Trauma three years ago, as well as
an album with her sister Lucy last year. On Goodnight City,
she still presents this clever mix of folk and alternative pop, with
her unique voice filled with emotion and her endearing personality.
This time on the other hand she goes a little further with energetic
heartbreaking songs that recall the punk side of Patti Smith.
She co-wrote "Look Into My Eyes" with her aunt, Anna McGarrigle,
then her brother Rufus offers her "Francis". She also sings a
song written by Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards, "Take
the Reins". On Goodnight City, Martha Wainwright goes a
little further in her creation with an album that must be discovered
with patience and openness. A great evolution for her!
After the ambitious project of three albums by
Green Day in the fall of 2012 (Uno,
Tré), Billy Joe Armstrong has been admitted into
rehab, forcing at the same time the trio to take a break. They are
now back strong with a title that seems inspired by The Clash,
Revolution Radio. There are several energetic songs that
recall the best years of the band, such as the first single ("Bang
Bang"), "Say Goodbye", "Bouncing Off the Wall" and the title track.
They alternate with little more pop songs, some of which are
somewhat breaking the rhythm of the whole to make us realize at the
same time that Green Day don’t do concept albums anymore, to our
regret. Obviously, this is not an easy task to redo a record the
American Idiot. But a clearer guideline certainly lacks to
Revolution Radio. Nevertheless, the group has sufficient
energizing songs to make us want to go see them in concert again.
(November 2016 Featured Review)
Kirsten Scholte (aka
Kirty) is a singer-songwriter from Orillia, Ontario, now based in
Toronto, who gives us her second album. On this self-titled album,
she offers an essentially folk sound with very good pop melodies and
traces of rather soft rock. She has several solid compositions
including the remarkable "Letting You Down" and "Be Here", not to
mention the first single, "That's Not Me". Kirty has a lovely voice
that manages to seduce us quickly. Thus: after having started
listening to the album, it is rather difficult not to go to the end
of the 10 tracks. So, this is a very pleasant album to discover!
(November 2016 Featured New Artist)
22, a Million is
the third album from Bon Iver, but the first in five years.
Justin Vernon again redefines the indescribable indie sound of
Bon Iver with a mixture of electro and folk, rock and
experimentation. Rather difficult to approach, it's an album that we
must listen carefully and a few times, to grasp all the subtleties.
Its complexity can also be a disadvantage as the frustration of
having difficulty understanding what is happening can take over.
Among the experiments, there are the voices that are regularly
modified or accelerated, jerky synthesizers and treated saxophones.
The whole is accompanied either by a soft guitar or a piano. There
are also some passages of R&B on the album that certainly prove it
is very creative. (November 2016)
The Canadian crooner celebrates 15 years of
career by presenting a new album truly to his image. On this ninth
record, he indeed offers mostly jazz standards, interrupted by
little more pop songs. Among the highlights of the CD, there is a
beautiful duet with Meghan Trainor, "Someday", on which the
two singers are accompanied by ukulele. Also to check out, his
version in the Sinatra style of "My Baby Just Cares For Me".
The new songs "Today Is Yesterday's Tomorrow" and "Nobody But Me"
prove that Bublé can also offer quality new original material. His
fans should be satisfied again.
The prolific songwriter and pop rock singer is
back again with a new album, the 26th of his career. A Better
World takes a thorough look at the current world and its major
issues through a mixture of energetic pop rock pieces, like the
first single, "Bethlehem", and more adult ballads. Many grandiose
orchestrations and arrangements come envelop the whole around his
deep and powerful superb voice. This is a record with many good
times that should appeal again to his faithful audience.
After releasing his first album at the age of 20,
Brent Cobb took a 10-year break before returning now with Shine
on Rainy Day. In fact, he mostly wrote for others during that
period: Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney,
etc. But, being more comfortable in Georgia than Nashville, he
decided to go back to his roots in the deep south. There are still
country keys in his music that remind Nashville, but the essence of
his style is folk and roots. He offers 10 effective songs that will
appeal to both country and folk fans.
Montrealer Leonard Cohen began his musical career
later on when he was well into his thirties. 50 years later, he thus
releases only his 14th career studio album as he is now 82 years
old. Otherwise, recent years have been particularly creative for the
one who first started as a poet. After the excellent
Old Ideas in 2012 and the
Popular Problems two years ago,
here he is back with another prominent album. Announced as his last
album, You Want It Darker appears as an exceptional
conclusion to his ultimate trilogy. Produced by his son Adam,
the record offers once again great compositions, performed with his
superb voice increasingly low. He concludes it with a cover, "String
Reprise / Treaty", which beautifully puts an end to this too short
The Deuxluxes is a Montreal duo formed of couple
Anna Frances Meyer and Étienne Barry. They propose to
revisit the golden age of rock 'n' roll with a rockabilly sound from
another era. Otherwise, they create a very good link with
contemporary music with garage rock explorations reminding the
White Stripes. We can also detect influences of soul music from
the 1960s and spaghetti western, all in a sexy coating. The duo
might be minimalist, but they managed to present greatly energetic
music on this first rather creative album. This is an excellent
record that is offered to us with Springtime Devil, though it
barely crosses the 30-minute bar.
The Toronto electro-pop trio is back on record four
years after the excellent
Bodyparts. On this fourth album,
Martina Sorbara and company present again this catchy pop music
which has made their success in the last years, a sound that can be
compared in part to Icona Pop and Gwen Stefani. Mostly
inspired by the separation between Martina Sorbara and bassist
Dan Kurtz, the record remains sunny despite the main theme.
After collaborations with Basement Jaxx, Kaskade and
Martin Solveig, Dragonette is ready to remain at the
forefront of the Canadian pop dance scene with once again a very
effective record, perfect for dance floors.
The British Piers Faccini is back with a sixth folk
album, but more mixed than ever of influences of different world
music. His French and Italian roots are certainly for something
about it, but he goes much further, making a complete Mediterranean
tour to the Middle East. These influences probably come from that
island he dreamed about, in a way a new country that encompasses
several cultures. The artist deals with tolerance, terrorism and
Donald Trump (very topical). Obviously, the fans of Faccini will
not be so disoriented, but they will discover a little more about
Jonny Fritz (also known as Jonny Corndawg) is
a guy who has a bizarre mix of country and rock, as if he does not
fully assume his attraction to country. In addition, he cannot help
to integrate a touch of humor in his songs. On his fourth album, the
second under his own name, he attempts to take a new path with poor
quality instruments: percussion samples, cheap guitars and
synthesizers of another era. One can easily imagine that the
11-track record (of only 30 minutes) has not been recorded in a
studio and it was confirmed when he said to have done it in a
backyard. Despite the bad things, we must admit that Fritz manages
to present an interesting enough creativity to successfully
captivate us. Sweet Creep eventually becomes friendly and you
cannot compare it to anything else. You must surely like the genre,
but it's an intriguing album.
After a duet album with Billie Joe Armstrong
in 2013 to pay tribute to the Everly Brothers (Foreverly),
the jazz singer is back with her sixth solo album. On Day Breaks,
Norah Jones drops the ambient music of
Little Broken Hearts (2012) to
return to a more straightforward jazz pop sound on piano, closer to
her debut on the now classic
Come Away With Me. She mainly
offers original songs, but also three carefully chosen covers to
form a uniform and complete whole. Her reinterpretations include her
remarkable bluesy version of Neil Young’s "Don’t Be Denied".
The other covers are from Horace Silver ("Peace") and Duke
Ellington ("Fleurette africaine (African Flower)"). Such tracks
are supporting in a beautiful way her original songs, as they all
seem to stick to her skin. Day Breaks has depth and
demonstrates all the talent of the artist. So it is a great record,
a jewel for her fans!
For their seventh album, Kings of Leon landed in
Los Angeles to work with producer Markus Dravs (Florence +
The Machine, Arcade Fire, Mumford & Sons). The
result is a major production where each instrument is perfectly
highlighted, including singer Caleb Followill. This scale
contrasts sharply with the garage sound of their debut, but is fine
in the sense that the band was moving in recent years. Already
customized for arenas, the group now has many potential radio hits
with good pop rock, full of energy. WALLS keeps us interested
until the end, its main mistake being to be too short with only 10
tracks. Here is a very good album by Kings of Leon.
With their 12th career album, the nu metal band
goes back in time with a rawer metal sound, worthy of their first
Untouchables at the turn of the new millennium. From the
first songs of the album, fans of the first hour will be delighted
with especially aggressive guitar riffs, a voice that alternates
between guttural and melodic, and a rhythm section upsetting your
neighbors. In fact, Korn perform what they do best without putting
pressure on themselves or attempting to reinvent everything. The
band has a unique sound, so why not exploit it completely. Most
critics will say that the group looks more backward than forward,
but after all, those were their most creative years when they were
able to take the forefront of a metal industry in full revolution.
Those who regretted those good years will finally rediscover what
had ignited at first. In addition, Jonathan Davis sings
better than ever and the band seems to play perfectly together
On Joanne, Lady Gaga takes a more pop rock
turn than on her previous much more danceable albums. She even seems
to get inspiration from country on a few occasions, including on the
title song which appears as a nod to Dolly Parton’s "Jolene".
The singer can count on surprising collaborators from the rock
industry: Father John Misty, Beck, Florence Welch
and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). By the way,
Homme has co-written two of the best songs on the album, the
energetic "Diamond Heart" and "John Wayne". It’s rather the fusion
between genres that makes Joanne somewhat unsettling. Between
pop rock piano ballads, disco rock, country and dance pop, you’re
questioning yourself. This is an album to listen to piece by piece
rather than as a whole, which is a shame because it includes several
Following the success of
GO:OD AM in 2015, the Pittsburgh
rapper is already back with a new album. On this fourth record,
Ariana Grande introduces Mac Miller, while his grandmother
concludes the CD detailing her relationship with his grandfather.
So, he wanted to make a room for women on The Divine Feminine.
But, in between, Miller remains fairly macho, boasting of his
aptitude in bed to anybody who wants to listen. It is therefore
better to quite quickly override the theme of femininity and instead
focus on music. The Pittsburgh kid was surrounded by a leading team
of producers that have managed to extract the best of him. He
therefore has a rich sound that goes well beyond rap. He can also
count on renowned collaborators. Besides Ariana Grande, his new
flame, you can hear the piano of Robert Glasper, as well as
the voices of Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar and
CeeLo Green. It's still a solid album that offers Mac Miller, a
perfectly logical follower to
The Francophile band from the American West Coast
comes to us with a new album with a French title (meaning I Say Yes)
as well as three songs in the language of Molière composed for the
movie Souvenir featuring Isabelle Huppert. This ninth
record also contains a unique version of "Blue Moon" with Rufus
Wainwright, as well as "Finnisma Di", an Arabic version by
Ari Shapiro of one of their first hits, "The Soledad". The band
again offers a mix of jazz and pop music, with diverse influences of
world music and lyrics in eight languages. The first single, "Joli
garçon" (Pretty Boy), gives a touch of French pop to the group,
which succeeds in still going a little further in the use of its
past influences. This is again a very good album that is offered to
us by Pink Martini, a varied and greatly interesting album!
Following the success of her first album in 2012
Version of Events), the British
singer is finally back with Long Live the Angels. Emeli Sandé
presents again a mix of poignant songs, between adult pop and R&B,
mostly ballads (inspired by her recent divorce), but also more
energetic songs. Collaborations are rare on this record, but we can
still hear her father, that she went to visit in Zambia, as well as
a local children's choir on "Tenderly". Overall, the album focuses
on the voice of the singer who needs little artifice, especially
with such solid compositions. Only a gospel choir adds some
interesting vocal harmonies. It is a particularly successful album
that proposes Emeli Sandé who passes easily the test of the second
This brother and sister duo was discovered on the TV
show Faites comme chez vous
on Quebec Channel TVA. Charles David
Lapierre writes the lyrics and composes
the music, and he is accompanied by his sister Maude at the
voice. They offer particularly soft introspective music on acoustic
guitar or piano, which oscillates between folk, alternative and airy
music. With Tandem, the duo has two albums of original songs
simultaneously, Volume 1 with 13 songs in French and Volume 2 with
13 tracks in English. Key songs of Volume 1 include the first
single, "Mille ans" and "La marche des hommes". On Volume 2, you can
hear "Eden's Gate" and "God's Whisper". With two hours of music, you
certainly have to appreciate their unplugged style to be able to
listen to the two albums in sequence. If this is the case, you will
After five years of waiting, the pop punk Ontario
band finally has a new studio album, its sixth. Admittedly,
Deryck Whibley almost died two years ago as the result of
alcohol abuse, and when he was out of the coma, he had to learn to
walk and play guitar again. Now he's better, but he has to tell his
story throughout the CD. The group still offers some impulses of
metal or hardcore punk, but the whole remains rather melodic, deeply
rooted in pop punk. After a first half filled with rage, Sum 41
become wiser in the second half with songs full of hope. String
arrangements are surprising on a few occasions and help to add
richness to this short 10-track album. The record may seem somewhat
dramatic at first, but the band managed to create a coherent and
pleasant package to listen to. 13 Voices is therefore a very
After six years of absence on record, the Scottish
indie band is back with possibly its best album in 20 years. This
tenth album still contains elements of rock and pop, but this time
with a certain folk touch that suits them particularly well.
Recorded in France and Glasgow, the record offers a rather soft
organic sound. The choruses remain as catchy and Here
contains undoubtedly music greatly pleasant to listen, which can be
discovered slowly. Its main defect is perhaps to be a little too
uniform, which can become wearisome for those who like less this
melancholic acoustic style. It remains that Teenage Fanclub has lost
nothing of its pop touch, after almost 30 years of career.
It took nearly 20 years for the band of
Jacksonville, Florida to release a self-titled album, their 10th,
which would also be their last before retiring. In addition, it
turns out it is probably their best record to date. Yellowcard still
offer their pop punk sound, but more mature and with more nuances
than before. The band also offers its most varied album to date with
very few songs that are comparable. They go from energetic songs
dominated by electric guitar, to more introspective songs without
becoming boring ballads. They even allow acoustic incursions as in
"I'm a Wrecking Ball". While the album gives us many pleasant
surprises along the way, it keeps getting better for a strong final
with the energetic "Savior's Robes" and the ultimate anthem "Fields
& Fences". It is with this great conclusion that ends the career of
a contemporary band that was important for more than one.
Saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau
has often played together since the early 1990s, while they have
their own separate careers. In 2011, they joined forces for a tour
as a duo. It is the European leg of the tour which is represented
here with live recordings from July and November 2011. The CD
contains six jazz pieces including several that stretch in what
appears to be a long jam. Included are compositions by Redman and
Mehldau, but also standards of Charlie Parker
("Ornithology"), Thelonious Monk ("In Walked Bud") and
Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington ("The Nearness of
You"). The duo forms a symbiotic tandem, very pleasant to listen to.
On her fifth album, the London rapper born in Sri
Lanka seems to return to her legacy as a refugee, including the
first single, "Borders", which addresses this new refugee crisis.
Musically, she merges again hip hop and electro with sounds from the
Middle East. This is particularly the case in her new single, "Go
Off", produced by Skrillex and Blaqstarr, which offers
a powerful bass accompaniment to her staccato voice. Unfortunately,
the album is quickly running out of steam later while M.I.A. seems
to be somewhat lost in various more or less successful experiments.
She remains creative, but she loses some of our interest in several
tracks, including the stripped down and frankly boring "Jump In".
Rumors ran to the effect that A.I.M. would possibly be her
last album and we could have expected more for the occasion. The
album features many interesting elements, but it also includes too
much filling, especially in its 17-track deluxe version. Longtime
fans of M.I.A. should still find something they like.
(October 2016 Featured Review)
Goldroom is a danceable electro trio formed in
Los Angeles in 2011 by songwriter and producer Josh Legg
(former NightWaves). Their music is based on synthesizers and
pleasantly goes between introspection and the dance floor. Their
music may seem slight at the base, but it remains both intelligent
and entertaining. Produced by Josh Abraham (Velvet
Revolver, Courtney Love, Limp Bizkit, Orgy,
Linkin Park, etc.), West of the West is an album that
is particularly pleasant to listen to, without disturbing us at any
time. A perfect blend of pop and more ambient music to listen to in
the background of an evening with friends. A beautiful discovery!
(October 2016 Featured New Artist)
The trio The Balconies was formed in Ottawa in
2007 as a side project for singer and guitarist Jacquie Neville
and her brother Steve on bass. Now a quartet, they release
their third album in a quite easy to reach indie rock style, enough
to conquer radios. Bands like Metric may come to mind even if
a darker side reminding Interpol could also be heard on
For this new album, the former participant to
Québec’s Star Académie from New Brunswick has decided to sing some
of her favorite songs from the 1960s and 1970s in English. The
Acadian revisits these great hits in a rather sweet pop style with a
country flavor. The album starts strongly with the excellent
performance of Amanda McBroom’s "The Rose", popularized by
Bette Midler in 1979. Other highlights of the record come to us
with John Denver’s "Leaving on a Jet Plane", Gordon
Lightfoot’s "If You Could Read My Mind", Fleetwood Mac’s
"Don’t Stop", the excellent "Angel of the Morning" made popular by
Carrie Rodriguez, and the dynamic title track from Mary
Hopkin to conclude the CD. Most of the songs are perfect for her
and she sings them with her beautiful voice and a disarming
sweetness. In fact, she managed to appropriate these songs we
already knew very well for most. A great surprise!
After the excellent album
Old issued three years ago, the
rapper is back with Atrocity Exhibition, whose title was
inspired by a Joy Division song. Obviously, the comparisons
stop here. Brown pursues the same previous path with extremely rich
hip hop music. Otherwise, themes are rather dark, depicting the
atrocities of today’s world. Only "Dance in the Water" manages to
give us a break about that. Collaborations are rare on the album,
the more interesting one being certainly that of Kendrick Lamar
in "Really Doe". Without being able to fully compare the new album
to his previous one, we can consider that Danny Brown still manages
to offer a high quality album that will surely please his fans.
Virtuoso guitarist Thomas Carbou joins
percussionist Patrick Graham for the presentation of Impulse,
an album that fuses genres as jazz mixes world music and electronic
music. The two musicians are used to play together and it shows on
several occasions when they are as one, remaining totally at the
service of music. Completely instrumental, Impulse makes us
travel through Africa, Brazil and India with unique soundscapes and
infectious grooves. The duo offers us a
great contemporary jazz album!
After 20 years of existence, the American rock
band seems to be more patriotic than ever with American Band.
However, the first group that comes to mind when listening to "Ramon
Casiano" is Tragically Hip, a Canadian band... I must say
that external references have always been numerous with Drive-By
Truckers who seem to get inspiration from about anyone. Meanwhile,
many US critics talk about American Band as perhaps their
best album to date. Well, there are many strong songs, political and
effective, but creativity is far from the top. Although even if the
band never denounced American politics and society like this, it
remains that musically, they offer us a sound heard more than once
before. R.E.M., CCR and Lynyrd Skynyrd can come
to mind, with a trace of
U2 in the moments that move away a little from Southern
United States, shaping the sound of this group rooted in American
culture. Their fans will surely love, although only their positions
seem to get the band elsewhere.
The rapper from Compton, Los Angeles, California
issues his eighth album with 1992. He pursues in gangster rap
inspired by his youth, but also by various past events which took
place in Los Angeles, such as the OJ Simpson case. The Game
takes an Ice-T classic, "Colors", to transform it in his own
way in "True Colors/It's On". He also offers the excellent "92 Bars"
that flays Meek Mill and some other rappers along the way. In
addition, he offers his biggest radio hit in five years with "All
Eyez", featuring Jeremih. The Game remains true to his
reputation on 1992, without major surprises.
Influenced by the British bands from the 1960s, the
Atlanta group releases first of all a good contemporary garage rock
sound. The Hives and The Vaccines therefore come to
mind as well as The Kinks, The Animals, The Zombies
The Beatles. First known as A Fir Ju Well, they
finally adopted the name Gringo Star as a nod to the famous Fab Four
drummer, Ringo. On this fourth album, the band goes deeply
into guitar distortion from another era, while maintaining effective
melodies, often memorable. They skillfully blend references to the
past with a more modern alternative sound. Otherwise, it sometimes
seems to have some dichotomy between their love for the British
Invasion of the 1960s and their desire to offer something new for a
new generation of fans. The result is therefore sometimes risky and
leaves us somewhat stunned.
Matt Holubowski stood out with his unique style
during his participation in Québec’s The Voice. Indeed, a
folk sound and a singular voice made him immediately a different
talent in the contest. Shortly after, he was already filling venues
everywhere and was developing a little more each day his already
unique style, centered on his acoustic guitar and his voice.
Solitudes is his first full-length album on which he can finally
unleash his talent. There are 11 songs mostly in English, but also
French ones. If expectations were already high towards him, we can
say that he perfectly fulfills its mandate since he has a refined
and smart album that corresponds very well to the height of his
talent. As so well suggested by its title, Solitudes is an
album to listen to by yourself, putting all your attention to it. An
Joseph is a Portland, Oregon trio of sisters
offering a folk sound very strongly oriented towards pop music
thanks to excellent melodies and great vocal harmonies. They issue
their debut album that has some interesting elements, with a great
power of seduction. Arrangements are licked with beautiful
orchestrations. Pieces like "SOS (Overboard)" are likely to remain
in your mind for long, though later compositions are weaker and do
not necessarily make you to want to go to the end. The talent of the
Closner sisters as performers is undeniable, but they may
need to be surrounded by stronger composers from a creative point of
For this EP, the Brazilian offers a collection of
four songs in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French that run
somehow her personal history. It is only with her cello that she
introduces us to works of Beirut, Violeta Parra,
Lupicinio Rodrigues, as well as Jacques Brel’s "Les vieux".
The songwriter and performer of great talent likes to cover songs of
others occasionally. She gets pleasure out of Cantando with
songs that marked her youth. It is only a pity that the CD lasts
less than 13 minutes.
For his new album, Canadian Daniel Lanois teamed
up with Rocco DeLuca to offer a totally experimental
instrumental recording on which lap steel guitar is honored.
Goodbye To Language is an atmospheric album that is much closer
to his work with Brian Eno in the 1980s than his folk
recordings of recent years. The arrangements and effects are subtle
but numerous, and include several musical layers that make us doubly
appreciate the work of Lanois as producer. This is an album that
quickly creates hallucinations in addition to hypnotize us every
time. With this new record, Daniel Lanois proposes avant-garde
unique music, certainly his best work since
Shine in 2003. But, an open mind and patience are needed to
successfully adhere completely to his proposal.
After an EP in English
in 2014 that allowed her to establish herself a little more in
English Canada, Lisa Leblanc is back but this time with a 12-track
full-length album. Mainly in English, Why You Wanna Leave,
Runaway Queen? also offers some moments in French, including the
excellent "Ti-gars". On this album, the folk rock singer ventures a
little more in rock and blues territories with some frankly
memorable songs ("Could You Wait 'Til I've Had My Coffee?", "City
Slickers and Country Boys"). She also makes a surprising and highly
interesting cover of Motörhead’s "Ace of Spades". With this
album, the New Brunswicker takes more than ever a spot on the
Canadian music scene, on top of the folk and blues rock scene.
Toronto's Barbra Lica is a rising star of the
Canadian jazz scene. With this third album, she definitely makes her
entry among the greats. She managed to charm us from the opening
track, "Coffee Shop", and her beautiful voice carries us like a ray
of sunshine to her attractive cover of the Cardigans’ "Lovefool".
The singer-songwriter hooks immediately a smile to our face with her
optimistic attitude that exudes joy of life. Her jazz pop songs have
all these irresistible melodies that make us want to sing along with
the singer before she becomes our best friend. Here is the ultimate
Lowlands is a folk rock band from Guelph, Ontario,
which is led by singer and guitarist Gordon Auld. Following
their debut album, Huron, they come back with Erie in
their series of albums dedicated to each of the five Great Lakes.
Produced by Gavin Gardiner, the album contains a folk sound
in which banjo and pedal steel guitar are featured. The voice of
Auld also stands out from the whole that is rather nostalgic. You can
hear very effective songs, but some tracks a little more boring can
force us to accelerate the pace until the end.
For their third album, the Quebec quintet formed in
Saint-Eli-de-Caxton in 2008 plays in their own way songs that
characterize New Orleans and the African-American culture. Misses
Satchmo remain firmly rooted in the jazz style of the 1930s. The
band offers standards like "It Ain’t Necessarily So", the soft "Why
Don’t You Do Right", the entertaining "Ol Man Mose", "Jonah and the
Whale", and the medley "My Babe / Muddy Water". They manage to
interpret better than anyone else this essential music of another
The Danish artist is back with her third album,
three years after the success of
Aventine which brought her to global recognition. Recorded
in Berlin, Citizen of Glass admirably pursues the work begun
on her previous records. She offers us very smooth chamber pop music
in which the violins and piano are featured, in addition to adding
this time some discrete electronic elements and vocal modulations.
On some tracks with a gothic trend as "Trojan Horses", Agnes reminds
us of a fusion between Enya and Nick Cave. Several
songs are sure to seduce you, like the first single, "Familiar". On
this new album, Agnes Obel succeeds in giving a modern twist to her
style with influences of distant times. This is again a very good
record, even if it requires a special atmosphere to truly enjoy it.
Five years after the success of
What We Saw from the Cheap Seats, Regina Spektor is back
with Remember Us to Life. She offers her songs mostly piano
and voice with great softness and perfect phrasing. Otherwise, one
can also hear full orchestrations for often theatrical pop music,
more interesting than the ballads. She even explores hip hop with
"Small Bill$". Her highly theatrical trend can sometimes annoy and
we can imagine her easily on a Broadway stage. Remember Us to
Life appears somewhat uneven, despite great times. She still
remains anyway an artist with an original style.
The Irish new wave band returns with their third
album, the first since
Beacon in 2012. Two Door Cinema Club
have a little more dancing tangent on Gameshow with synth pop
and several disco songs. Scissor Sisters and the Bee Gees can come to mind on
tracks like "Bad Decisions" and "Fever".
If at first this new direction may be disturbing for the fans of the
first hour, they quickly manage to convince us that this is a nice
evolution for the band that keeps looking forward
despite influences from the past. Gameshow is much more energetic than the last one and that's
good like that.
But above all, the trio manages to offer us new compositions of very
This results certainly in their most accessible album, but also the
most complete and successful to date. To discover!
Wildlife is a Toronto quintet that has existed for
10 years and offers an indie rock sound to strong pop trend, a
custom music for radio. Alternative rock influences can be detected
and even punk rock in their rhythm section and guitars, but the
group remains primarily a pop rock band with memorable melodies.
With this new record, Wildlife remain well of their time with a
modern sound, music of their generation.
Following the disappointing
Britney Jeanin 2013,
Britney has felt the need to give a boost to her career. First a
residency show in Las Vegas and now back on record with Glory.
She presents a modern pop sound with influences of hip hop, R&B and
electro, while remaining always danceable. One can easily make
comparisons with Justin Bieber on several occasions, but
Britney does not deny what she did before, especially on the
Femme Fatalealbums, her
two most interesting of the last 10 years. The pace is a little
slower than the average of her records, but you can still hear some
energetic tracks on which she doesn’t take it too seriously, as
"Clumsy" and "Do You Wanna Come Over?" for example. So there are
several interesting elements on Glory which has enough
contemporary hits to bring back the blonde singer to top 40. A
beautiful blend of maturity and madness! (September
2016 Featured Review)
DJ and producer Kevin Louis Célestin (aka
Kaytranada) was born in Haiti but raised in Montreal. On this first
album, he offers a mix of electronic music tending to house,
contemporary R&B and hip hop. He is surrounded by collaborators
throughout the CD while he only signs four songs alone among the 15
offered. His solo exploration includes a return to 1980’s R&B, but
he remains generally really of his time, working with full modern
technologies. Merges with BadBadNotGood and Karriem
Riggins allow to discover an instrumental smooth side, at the
limits of trip hop. The mixture of singers and rappers, which may
seem unsettling at first, is proving to be rewarding in the end. A
highlight of the record comes to us towards the end with the
excellent collaboration with the Montrealer Shay Lia for
"Leave Me Alone". 99.9% is an album of one hour that remains
pleasant to listen to from beginning to end.
(September 2016 Featured New Artist)
The Connecticut native Nick Fradiani became an
instant celebrity when he won the 14th edition of American Idol.
He now releases his first album with pop melodies also including
some rock sounds. Fradiani collaborated in the writing of 11 of the
12 songs offered and he proves to be quite a talented author.
Unfortunately, despite a rather light pop style, it has few tracks
really standing out of the whole, so he does not have many potential
hits. The hits "Beautiful Life" and "Get You Home" thus represent
the most remarkable songs of the album. The artist certainly has
good qualities, but he will need help in writing effective songs.
With their third album, the quintet from Los
Angeles continue their journey in a pop rock sound that has all it
takes to please radio stations. The record was again produced by
drummer Ryan Rabin (son of Yes’ Trevor Rabin),
even if Phil Ek (Band of Horses, The Shins)
also participated for a few songs. The band seems to have had a good
shot of maturity during their tour of the recent years. The result
is that Big Mess proves to be more solid and consistent than
their previous ones, as if Grouplove had finally really adhered to
their own style, which is somewhere between MGMT, Fun
and Katy Perry. But above all, what we discover quickly while
listening to Big Mess is the pleasure and joy of living that
emerge. It's a smart album of high quality, offering in addition
great entertainment. So this is the best of both worlds!
No Filter is the
11th album by the Canadian virtuoso pianist and singer. There is a
mix of original songs and instrumental pieces, always in his own
style. He remains indeed difficult to categorize, flirting with
jazz, pop music and classic songs. His varied influences are the
foundation of this musical eclecticism. Produced by Kaeshammer
himself, the album was recorded live in the studio in just two days
in Toronto. The first single, "Everybody Catches Sometime Love", was
written with James Bryan of the Philosopher Kings, and
you can hear Randy Bachman on guitar. Kaeshammer seems to
discover himself as lyricist on No Filter, admitting that the
lyrics usually come before the music. After 20 years of career, the
artist born in Germany seems more comfortable than ever in this
musical style he made evolve.
The specialist of musicals, who also lent her
voice to Elsa in the Disney success Frozen, returns with her
fifth album of original songs. She offers again highly polished
adult pop music in which it is her voice that occupies all the space
instead of average and often uninteresting music. We still find a
few electronic elements, and occasional guitar, but nothing to
dominate the voice of the singer who takes on the center stage, as
in a blockbuster Broadway production. In fact, it lacks only the
visual to believe in such a show. Still, one can feel that Idina
perhaps has her most personal album to date. Otherwise, the lack of
detachment from the scene that she was born on is still more than
evident. It is an album for those who followed her for a long time
or who have fallen under her spell on stage.
The prolific band from Texas already release
their eighth studio album in 16 years. Getting inspiration from the
death of his grandfather, Will Sheff seems rather to offer a
solo album instead of an Okkervil River record. Jazz, orchestral and
even avant-garde instrumentations create a special atmosphere on the
CD, which still retains some elements of indie rock, but largely
hidden throughout. Melancholy remains for the 57 minutes of this CD,
which takes a little too maudlin trends at times. The fans of the
first hour may regret the most energetic style that had catch them.
Sheff probably needed to do this record to evacuate all his sadness,
but Away will certainly not mark the history of the group,
despite good times.
The folk and indie rock singer already has her
fourth album. Less acoustic than her previous records, My Woman
offers a broader palette with distorted guitars and even
electronics. Recorded live in the studio in Los Angeles, the CD
offers a rather raw and unusual energy. Through a majority of rock
songs, Angel offers us more varied moments like jazz rock ("Those
Were the Days") and even a piano solo at the end with "Pops".
Besides leaving aside her acoustic folk sound, there is also country
that completely disappears from My Woman. Otherwise, it is a
highly interesting turn for this complete artist with boundless
talent. While fans of the first hour may wince, Angel Olsen releases
possibly her best album to date, the most complete and entertaining
Piano Cameleons is a Montreal piano duo formed of
Torontonian John Roney and versatile Matt Herskowitz.
On this album, the duo confronts their piano virtuosity in fusing
jazz and classical music. They perform works by Chopin,
Bach, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin and
even Brubeck. They can also be heard with the great Oliver
Jones for Christian Petzold’s "Minuet in G major". These
peerless improvisers manage to perfectly mix jazz standards with
immortal pieces from the classical repertoire. A great
The singer and songwriter from Toronto was
uprooted for his new album moving to the east, to the country.
Inspired by the beauty and serenity of his new rural environment, he
composed his seventh album on his way to Halifax, Nova Scotia where
he recorded, for the first time outside of Toronto. It contains a
little less the touches of country that characterized him until
then, except maybe a little tinged country pop music on "The Old
Oak" and "Blue Jeans". Rutledge mainly explores new styles, even
incorporating elements of gospel ("The Great Ascension") to his
introspective rock sound. His voice always remains cozy, to the
service of the lyrics, and perhaps EAST turns out to be his
most accomplished album to date. A very good record, very pleasant
to listen to and to taste slowly!
Following the unexpected success of the first
Zomba Prison Project album in 2015, Ian Brennan and his wife,
Italian filmmaker and photographer Marilena Delli, returned
to the maximum security prison of Malawi to record 14 songs included
on I Will Not Stop Singing. It is once again prisoners and
prison officers who are honored with several extremely touching
songs, starting with "I Will Not Return to Prison", sounding like a
hymn. Agnes Chiwisa also offers exceptional performances,
while Elias Chimenya, a lifer, is bloodcurdling with "Sister,
Take Good Care of Your Husband". "I Will Never Stop Grieving for
You, My Wife" was born from a writing workshop led by Brennan on his
last day recording in prison. It explores the emotions of the
composer following the death of his wife and mother of his four
children. It’s another moment of great emotion for a record that
takes us in a particular atmosphere!
Compass is an
ambitious project by two renowned Mexican DJs: Camilo Lara (Mexican
Institute of Sound) and Toy Selectah (Control Machete,
Mad Decent). The 13 songs of the album include about one
hundred collaborators from anywhere around the world. They
especially have a unique mix of genres, making it a quite global
album. There is a base of Latin music, but also electronic, hip hop,
pop and different rhythms of the world. This eclectic mix is a
particularly suitable amalgam on a danceable background proving that
music has no boundaries.
For the soundtrack of the Suicide Squad movie
were assembled various artists from contemporary rap to classic
It is therefore particularly varied 14 tracks that are offered with
transitions that can often seem bizarre.
You can hear a majority of original songs by artists such as
Twenty One Pilots, Wiz Khalifa, Skrillex, Mark
Ronson, Lil Wayne, Imagine Dragons, Kevin Gates,
Rick Ross, etc.
One can also rediscover classics by Eminem ("Without Me"),
Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Fortunate Son") and War ("Slippin'
Into Darkness"), plus a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Panic!
At the Disco.
One of the good moments of the CD, and that is also perfect within
the film, comes with the excellent "Medieval Warfare" by Grimes.
The CD ends with a cover of the Bee Gees’ "I Started a Joke"
by ConfidentialMX with Becky Hanson.
Despite good times, the whole rather proves to be unequal and
remains most of all effective in the context of the film.
Four years after the excellent
Dead Silence, the Canadian band is
back with their fifth album. Afraid of Heights is possibly
their most varied record to date, exploring different styles and
including piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitar. This is the first
album without drummer Aaron Solowoniuk forced to stand due to
multiple sclerosis. He was replaced by Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire).
Guitarist Ian D'Sa made a monumental work in the production
of the record while Billy Talent sounds better than ever. The band
reminds us Metallica’s
"The Unforgiven" with "Rabbit Down the Hole" while it's Muse
that comes to mind with "Horses & Chariots". The group takes
position in "This Is Our War", which further expands a little more
their palette. Otherwise, the centerpiece of the album remains the
title track, which is found as a reprise at the end of the CD. With
Afraid of Heights, Billy Talent demonstrate the full range of
their talents, both as composers and as musicians. This therefore
results in a complete album on which each song has interesting
elements, which thereby makes us want to listen to it until the end.
A very good record! (August 2016 Featured
Jamie Kilstein managed to become known as a standup
comic, but now it’s as the leader of an alternative rock band that
he is getting discovered. Effective on guitar, it's mostly as a
singer that stands out Kilstein with lyrics vigorously denouncing
injustices such as homophobia, sexism, racism, irresponsible
parents, economic injustices, etc. In several songs he is speaking
to deliver his corrosive lyrics, more as a rapper/poet than as a
humorist set to music. Otherwise, the best texts and music
assemblies come when he truly sings, is a little less sharp and is
not necessarily addressing to an audience supporting his ideas.
Because it must be said: if you are not of the same opinion as
Kilstein, you are likely to have a very long time! Same thing if
cursing is bothering you... This is a good album for those who like
artists who stand for their ideas with an energetic and interesting
indie rock sound. But it is mainly for Jamie Kilstein to communicate
his messages in another way than alone on a stage behind a
microphone making the crowd laugh at all costs.
(August 2016 Featured New Artist)
On his new album, pianist Nicholas Angelich plays
three works by Liszt, Schumann and Chopin that
were dedicated to one of the other two. First, we find Liszt’s
"Sonata in B minor" dedicated to Robert Schumann. Then it was
the turn of Schumann to dedicate "Kreisleriana, Op. 16" to
Frédéric Chopin. Finally, Chopin dedicated his "Études, Op. 10,
nos 10 & 12" to Franz Liszt. With this 78-minute album
Angelich pays a great tribute to these three pianists and composers
born 18 months apart, which vowed admiration and mutual respect.
Here is a side project by Paul Banks (Interpol)
and RZA (Wu-Tang Clan). The duo introduces a mixture
of new wave, indie rock and rap. One can certainly compare them to
Gorillaz and the Beastie Boys. The album includes
collaborations with Kool Keith, Method Man, Masta
Killa, Ghostface Killah and Florence Welch (Florence
+ The Machine). They managed to give us a greatly varied and
dynamic album that will seduce many by its energy. In fact, it seems
that both artists stood in the presence of each other to become an
indestructible force, as if they were made to play together. After
an energetic and entertaining first half, the duo slowed the pace to
take a trip hop path, equally interesting. This is a very good album
that offer these two talented artists.
Six years after
Emotion & Commotion, the
legendary guitarist is back with a new album of original music. Jeff
Beck uses this time a different path with the help of singer
Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. He presents
sometimes a heavy rock sound with blues and funky trends. He
explores fairly and the two collaborators bring a fresh perspective
to this album that blends the past with more contemporary music.
Several interesting elements furnish Loud Hailer, allowing
Jeff Beck to remain on the page despite 50 years of career.
Blind Pilot is an indie rock band that was formed
in Portland in the mid-2000s. They release their third album, five
years after the one that made them known, the excellent We Are
the Tide. They still offer an indie album to folk trend, but
with little less pop elements, in spite of very good melodies. The
group varies between electric and acoustic, with some rich
arrangements that recall that Blind Pilot are six musicians. The
layers of guitars, electro elements, trumpets and even a vibraphone
add to the richness of the record that manages to capture attention
quickly, in addition to retaining the interest until the end. It is
still a very good album that offer Blind Pilot.
After a long period of uncertainty, the guys from
Blink-182 finally release their seventh album, only their second in
13 years. They seem to have regained their form of the good old days
because they offer us an energetic and inspired pop punk sound. It
must be said that we have here a third incarnation of the band with
the addition of guitarist Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio),
replacing founding member Tom DeLonge. So it's a fresh breeze
blowing on Blink-182 and it restores at the same time some of their
youth and teenage recklessness. Skiba was able to skillfully
integrate the group and we still find the riffs and other Blink
characteristic elements. In addition, the group gives us 16 tracks
in less than 43 minutes, so they are short and effective songs that
can be heard on California. Producer John Feldmann (Goldfinger)
has kept the group in an excellent focus for a record with a great
guideline, worthy of their best years. The energy is finally back in
Blink-182, 15 years after soaring!
After 33 years of existence, the American
alternative rock band possibly presents its most original album in
25 years. Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not stands out because
of its boundless creativity, alternative music reminiscent of their
best years, with a touch of Hüsker Dü and the Goo Goo
Dolls in their early days, not to mention grunge and garage
folk. No surprise really, Dinosaur Jr. managed to prove that they
still have a communicative melodic sense. J. Mascis and
Lou Barlow offer some of the best songs from the Dinosaur Jr.
repertoire, going several years back, well before their comeback in
Formed in Nashville in
2013 by dobro master Jerry Douglas, The Earls of Leicester is
a tribute to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs of the band
The Foggy Mountain Boys. They have a second album with 17
tracks of the Flatt and Scruggs directory. Faithful to the original
songs, The Earls of Leicester are unfortunately not able to carry
this classic bluegrass music to another level. However, the
production of high quality by Douglas manages to give some luster to
Rattle & Roar which we did not find on their first record.
The group thus managed to evolve in a big way, while remaining true
to those bluegrass classics.
Irish Lisa Hannigan was first known for her work
alongside Damien Rice. After being informed their
professional relationship was over in 2007, she began assembling her
own folk pop songs. She comes to us now with her third album, At
Swim. Produced by Aaron Dessner (The National),
the album presents introspective music with very good pop melodies,
despite a strong indie trend. Uninspired, Lisa had to travel for the
writing of this new album. The result is particularly interesting
when the 11 tracks are linked together beautifully. So this is
certainly her strongest album to date.
The prodigious pianist and excellent pop rock
singer from Winnipeg is back with her sixth career album, her first
studio recording in seven years. She offers a new adult pop sound
with elements of rock and beautiful arrangements. The melodies
remain highly effective and Chantal delivers these melodies with a
powerful voice. Unfortunately, with only 10 tracks totaling just
over 35 minutes, Hard Sail seems incomplete. It still offers
The post-grunge quartet from Memphis now based in
Nashville was installed for 20 years and presents its tenth album.
The Christian band still has a powerful rock sound with a positive
message of hope. Musically, it is a major album that has everything
to appeal to a broad audience including fans of Nickelback.
At times they can remind Muse, but some other times quite
aggressive lead us almost at the feet of Slipknot. The group
even managed to get a glance at the cover of "Blue Monday" by
Orgy on "Burn It Down". The arena anthems are legion on
Unleashed which will easily translate on stage with boundless
energy. This is certainly the best album of Skillet in 10 years,
The prolific band from San Diego already issue
their 10th album in 20 years of career. They show the different
sounds explored throughout their careers for a varied album that
will surely join a wide audience. There is a bit of the pop punk of
their debut, blockbuster rock of the early 2000s, new wave inspired
of the 1980s and electro. Moments a little more pop will certainly
not miss to catch attention, as in the first danceable single,
"Float". Dance rock also returns at different times of the CD,
especially with "If the House Burns Down Tonight" and "Healer of
Souls". Switchfoot succeed in addition to surprise us with a foray
into the world of hip hop: the bluesy "Bull in a China Shop" and
"Looking for America" with
rapper Lecrae. The album will perhaps seem too varied, with a
guideline a bit fuzzy, but we hear enough quality compositions for
wanting to listen to the entire CD repeatedly. This is the best
Switchfoot album since
The Beautiful Letdown released in
At 68 years old, the leader of
Aerosmith strangely releases his first solo album. He
traveled to Nashville to record a rock album, but tending to
country. There are many pop ballads, always with a touch of country
in the background. Tyler managed to find a guideline that suits him
well, but unfortunately it is not all the songs that are newsworthy.
Actually, the most interesting ones remain those that compare a
little more to the rock 'n' roll of
Aerosmith. The album concludes with two fairly useless covers:
"Janie's Got a Gun" (of
Aerosmith) and "Piece of my Heart" (with The Loving Mary Band).
Union Duke is a folk indie quintet from Toronto.
They issue their third album with Golden Days, an excellent
blend of energetic songs with some more introspective passages (the
ballad "Right For Me" for example). They use both the banjo and the
violin to add to the acoustic guitars and create a rich and varied
sound. In their most energetic and rock times they can certainly
recall the Barenaked Ladies. But overall, the group remains
more acoustic, so more folk.
The Californian indie band release their third album
with Home of the Strange. Young the Giant seem genuinely to
find themselves this time with music with sophisticated arrangements
and irresistible funky rhythms. For the occasion, they worked with
producers Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Bruno Mars,
Mark Ronson) and Alex Salibian (Elle King,
Mikky Ekko). Their pop trend brings them into the territory of
OneRepublic, while retaining a little something of
Coldplay. But above all, the group manages to offer us various
musical ideas which keep our interest until the end, despite a much
more corporate direction. With this new album, Young the Giant seem
to succeed finally settle into a niche of their own. Home of the
Strange therefore easily distinguishes from the previous ones to
become the iconic album for the band.
For their 11th album, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
have decided for the first time in years not to work with producer
Rick Rubin. It’s rather Brian Burton (aka Danger
Mouse) who takes that responsibility. The band gains maturity
and offers an album full of nuances with soul and funk influences of
the 1970s. Several songs offer some sweetness that is very pleasing
to the ear and the whole follows a great guideline. Subtle
influences of disco (the title song) or electro ("Go Robot") prove
their versatility and still show creative abilities. We can also
hear influences of
The Beatles ("The Longest Wave", "Feasting on the Flowers").
While we recognize the style of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they
managed just enough to surprise us. Note a huge collaboration with
Elton John playing piano in "Sick Love". With The Getaway,
the Red Hot Chili Peppers return to their place among the largest
bands in the world. (July 2016 Featured
Kaleo is an Icelandic band that was formed four
years ago. On this first album, they offer an indie rock sound with
influences of blues and folk. From the opening track, "No Good"
(heard in promotion for the Vinyl series on HBO), we think
about the garage blues sound of The Black Keys. But the group
then slows down the pace for the excellent "Way Down We Go". The
album produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon,
City and Colour) has this nice mix of ballads sometimes folk and
more energetic riffs throughout the 10 songs totaling 42 minutes.
This is an excellent first record the quartet is offering us, a
highly addictive CD and varied enough to keep our interest until the
end. (July 2016 Featured New Artist)
Ana Alcaide – Leyenda: World Music
Inspired by Feminine Legends
Ana Alcaide is a Spanish songwriter and performer.
On this album, she was inspired by mythology and feminine legends
from Spain, Europe and elsewhere in the world. She plays her
favorite instrument, the Swedish nyckelharpa, that she accompanies
with voices, flute and singing birds. The result is unique world
music with influences of folk, jazz and classical. A beautiful
tribute to women in general!
BadBadNotGood is a Toronto band founded in 2010.
They first came forward with their jazz versions of hip hop songs.
They now have a fusion of jazz, electro, funk and R&B. After working
with Ghostface Killah last year for the album
Sour Soul, the group returns with
their fourth album on their own. They now welcome full-time
saxophonist Leland Whitty as the fourth member and are
changing at the same time their sound. This is especially electro
that takes up more space and you can also hear some little more
sustained rhythms. Also, many guest vocalists add a new color to the
music of BadBadNotGood. Although jazz remains at the forefront, the
album features an eclectic mix of styles that remains pleasant to
Trumpeter Alison Balsom explores a mix of classical
and baroque since the early 2000s. Recently, she tries to discover
especially contemporary French songs. With her longtime
collaborator, pianist Tom Poster, she presents pieces by
contemporary artists including George Enescu, Paul
Hindemith and Leonard Bernstein, in addition to
Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin. The Balsom / Post duo
just seems in perfect fusion as the whole seems inseparable. This is
certainly an excellent album!
Dexys – Let
the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul
The Dexys Midnight Runners had their heyday
in the 1980s thanks to their ability to skillfully combine rock, new
wave, soul and Irish folk. In 2012, singer Kevin Rowland was
back with a new version of the band simply named Dexys. On this
second album by his new band, Rowland plays classic Irish folk, but
also more pieces by known artists as Bee Gees’ "To Love
Somebody", Rod Stewart’s "You Wear It Well", Johnny Cash’s
"40 Shades of Green", LeAnn Rimes’ "How Do I Live" and
Joni Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now". The result is a good mix of
soul and folk, as only the Dexys can offer.
Four years after Gratitude, the Canadian jazz
singer and double bassist returns with her third album in a trio
with experienced pianist Harold Mabern (80 years old) and
legendary drummer Joe Farnsworth. In addition to her favorite
instrument, Brandi begins on cello in "When The Mood is Right". The
entire Blue Canvas proves to be quite varied, in moods,
tempos and atmospheres. Among the highlights of the album there are
their interpretation of Clifford Brown’s rhapsody "Daahoud",
and Mabern’s "Beehive". The album concludes 45 minutes later with
the cool cover of Ann Ronell’s "Willow Weep For Me". This is
again an excellent record Brandi Disterheft offers us with Blue
Canvas, an album that certainly does not have a lack of
Five years after the split of Soul Coughing,
Mike Doughty had his first solo album with a group of musicians with
Haughty Melodic. The guitar is particularly present and for
the bass, he preferred an acoustic bass. Just like its title, the
melodies are very effective, making it certainly one of his most
accessible albums. Eleven years after its original release, this is
a CD reissue with two bonus tracks: "I'm Still Drinking In My
Dreams" and a demo version by Dan Wilson of "All the Time".
Haughty Melodic remains today the best album to discover Mike
Doughty in solo, since he was at his best.
Strange Little Birds
is the sixth album from Shirley Manson and her band, and it
represents a milestone in the career of Garbage, following their
return in 2012. We find again the sound that made them famous in the
1990s, but they manage to go a little further with captivating
atmospheres on many occasions. Shirley sings better than ever, and
even if she deals with sociological or personal problems, she
captures us to the point of forgetting the themes. Despite the
recognition of the past genre, Garbage managed to keep us in an
atmosphere of the 2010s with a sound that remains generally well
contemporary. In fact, Strange Little Birds is so pleasant to
listen to that going back in time, we realize that this is perhaps
their best album since their
self-titled debut in 1995, the same one that propelled them as
Le groupe métal français présente son sixième
album en 20 ans de carrière. Ils laissent finalement tomber le death
metal pour plutôt se concentrer sur un métal plus mélodique avec des
chansons courtes et accessibles. Ils se rapprochent en fait du métal
alternatif en de nombreuses occasions, malgré quelques moments
toujours aussi extrêmes comme dans la 3e piste par exemple, « The
Cell ». Un album plus simple pour Gojira conserve tout de même son
lot de complexités et de pièces progressives. Certains journalistes
parlent de Magma comme du
Black Albumde Metallica.
La comparaison est facile et assez juste, mais n’a rien de honteux,
puisqu’il s’agit peut-être de l’album qui leur permettra enfin de
rejoindre un auditoire plus large, hors des inconditionnels de
métal. Un très bon disque!
Reuben Hollebon is a British songwriter and
performer. Until now, he mostly worked as sound engineer for artists
like Nitin Sawhney and Courtney Barnett, as well as
with the London Symphony Orchestra. He releases his first
album on which he offers alternative folk rock music. With the
integration of an organ and a piano, his sound sometimes takes a
different direction becoming hypnotic background music, among others
in "Fields, For Fields". Terminal Nostalgia can be quite
difficult to approach at first, but it has several interesting
elements if we manage to avoid going into a deep sleep...
Jadea Kelly candidly admits that this third album
was her most difficult to create, by its dark background of
infidelity and heartbreak. Despite the hard process that Jadea had
passed, Love & Lust shines with honesty, intensity and
emotion. In fact, the Ontario artist seems to have reached the
pinnacle of her career as a songwriter. She has a nice mix of folk
and contemporary indie pop, as an amalgam of Patsy Cline and
Feist. Here is an album to discover!
Two years after
Love Letters, Joe Mount and his band are back with
Summer 08. True to its title, the album looks back on the summer
of 2008, right after the release of the
Nights Outalbum. This is a happy album with lots of disco
and funk rhythms. The set is pleasant to listen to with Mount
managing to remain still as creative. Note the presence of Robyn
on the song "Hang With Out to Dry", a more than interesting addition
to this beautiful album by the English group.
Japanese singer Mitski Miyawaki is now based
in Brooklyn, New York and is making her debut on the American
independent label Dead Oceans after three other albums. She offers
an alternative rock sound with some punk injections and an attitude
that recalls Patti Smith. Her lyrics are often hard and
depict the ups and downs of her generation. They come with a
powerful and bewitching voice that can be downright impressive in
the bass. Sometimes scratchy guitar riffs accompany in a beautiful
way the voice of this young artist with a remarkable talent. The set
of 11 tracks totaling only 31 minutes shows you the full extent of
that talent with a nice mix of rock songs and power ballads.
Puberty 2 is a beautiful album that is only lacking one or two
outstanding tracks to make a historical record.
The English experimental band returns with a new
album that pushes back a few boundaries. Moulettes have a highly
exploratory alternative rock sound with elements of electro and
progressive folk, so a perfect mix of genres! Otherwise, we must
certainly get used to their somewhat disjointed style that goes in
several directions. After a few songs, one comes to understand their
guidelines and then we can truly appreciate. Preternatural is
an album that will be most effective in the context of background
music, during a dinner with friends for example. But, to listen to
it carefully will make you discover some rather interesting parts.
With their sixth album, Needtobreathe tackle head-on
commercial music with custom made songs for pop radios. More than
ever they make us think of Kings of Leon and OneRepublic
with totally unforgettable pop melodies. Even the voice of Bear
Rinehart is perfectly comparable to that of Caleb Followill
of Kings of Leon. That said, Needtobreathe still manage to keep
their own personality, to make sure not losing their loyal fans.
Hard Love will only make them reach a broader audience and
potentially win radio airplay. This is their most accessible album
to date, but it also has several high quality songs for a very
efficient record in the end.
Thom Yorke and
his band are back on record, five years after
The King of Limbs. Probably unable
to agree on a logical order for the 11 tracks of the album, they
have simply placed them in alphabetical order. Another oddity from
Radiohead that leaves us the choice to listen to it in our favorite
order. Also note that some of the songs have been worked for a long
time. For example, the band has started to work on "Burn the Witch"
in the early 2000s, while "True Love Waits" appeared in concert as
far back as 1995. Otherwise, we do not feel at any time that this is
an album of rarities or rejected tracks, as if it was just the right
time to offer them to the public. A Moon Shaped Pool
surprises by its consistency and solidity to the end. Electro sound
is still part of the group's music for ambient music that can
sometimes seem heavy, but it is never uninteresting. Yorke continues
to mesmerize us with his voice over background music of a quality
little heard since
Kid A. Less experimental than
their last recordings, Radiohead still progresses in maturity and
Liz Stringer is an Australian female singer who
comes to us with a very good pop rock album. The soul in her low
voice also brings a very special feeling. We can as well detect
influences of folk, especially in the second half, but the whole is
dynamic with a good assembly of rhythmed songs. For her energy, it
reminds us especially of the 1980s with a little something of
Blondie and the Pretenders. So, it is a satisfying album
that can be discovered with All the Bridges.
The Quin sisters are back with a new album, three
Heartthrob. The more pop direction
of that album made some fans to leave, but they were able to find
many new fans too. Tegan and Sara continue in the same path with
Love You To Death, again demonstrating their huge talent of
melodists. Produced once again by Greg Kurstin, the album
presents a superb blend of pop rock, new wave and romantic ballads.
Their lyrics remain deep and honest, but they reach a larger target
than before. With Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara show more
than ever that pop music can be both entertaining and intelligent.
The pianist born in New Orleans died in the fall of
2015, but not without leaving us this tribute to American music.
This is producer Joe Henry who completed the album, left
unfinished by the death of Allen Toussaint in November 2015 while he
was on tour in Madrid.
On American Tunes, Toussaint resumes to explore jazz like he
did on The Bright Mississippi in 2009. Otherwise, jazz
standards count for only a part of the new album which also features
versions of his own repertoire and some more contemporary songs.
There are two Duke Ellington songs, one of Bill Evans,
one of Earl King and Paul Simon’s "American Tune" to
conclude the CD.
Whether unaccompanied at the piano or accompanied by guest singers,
Allen Toussaint impresses by his solidity at the piano that gives
new life to the songs performed.
Note especially the outstanding vocal performance of Rhiannon
Giddens for the two Duke Ellington covers, "Rocks In My Bed" and
Since we know that singer Gord Downie is
suffering from brain cancer, fans were hoping for a quick new album
from The Tragically Hip.
So here is finally Man Machine Poem, four years after their
previous album, Now For Plan A. As this is probably their
last record, it takes a special significance and we certainly listen
to it differently.
From the first track, "Man", there is a little more experimental and
We are far from the arena rock of their best years, what fans would
have liked for this last record.
One feels a certain melancholy and many themes obviously revolve
around mortality and regret of the past.
In this sense, Downie takes a little bit the formula of David Bowie
on his latest album, as he staged his own death.
Otherwise, it is somewhat less successful in the case of The
Several songs will seem too long and boring.
These are the lyrics that occupy the forefront with melodies that
sometimes seem improvised and music serves only as support, without
really remarkable riffs.
We still find some good moments, but nothing to bring back the
Ontario band in rock radios.
The Virginmarys is an English indie rock trio that
formed in 2009 and they now issue their third album. They have a
well assumed hard rock trend with a particularly dynamic rhythm
section and great guitar riffs. A somewhat aggressive attitude in
the genre of Billy Talent or garage punk reminiscent of
The Hives do not prevent the band to have effective melodies and
rhythms custom made for the stage. They are certainly very
entertaining to see in concert. Here is a group to listen to with
the volume turned up, but watch out for speeding on the road!