The sixth album by Beyoncé was preceded a few months
ago by her unavoidable presence at Super Bowl halftime, thereby
creating some expectations. On Lemonade, Beyoncé definitely
does not feel the need to please at any cost and to invade
commercial radios. She is concentrated to do what she does best: to
produce remarkable songs by their creativity and demonstrating her
strong woman personality. She defends with conviction black women,
while denouncing men’s infidelities, but she also takes a social and
political position. She avoids all clichés, still managing to
surprise musically and on several occasions, such as in "Don’t Hurt
Yourself" where she is accompanied by Jack White leading
Beyoncé into so far uncharted territories. After a constant
construction, the album concludes with the inevitable strength of
"Freedom", "All Night" and "Formation". Guest artists include The
Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and James Blake. You can
see a darker side to the artist on Lemonade, but it is an
important addition, even essential, to her discography. A couple of
plays are strongly suggested, but Lemonade will certainly be
among the best albums of the year.
Born in England, Michelle Willis grew up in Toronto.
She honed her art through numerous collaborations (including Iggy
Pop) and through her work as a studio keyboardist. She still
plays in different bands, but this is finally her first solo album,
See Us Through. A real songwriter album, it includes a folk
rock sound centered on keyboards, rather soft music that quickly
manages to capture our attention with beautiful melodies. A
After a first album of great efficiency with
Hunt and Chase, the young Ontario
female artist returns with a successful record on which she extends
a little bit her scope with strong pop melodies on a background
ranging between folk, indie pop and more adult alternative music.
She increases her level of creativity by taking her own personality
and offering an album that really belongs to her. A very nice
accomplishment for this young artist with infinite talent... And
what a pleasure to hear her voice again!
The singer-songwriter born in Ottawa has made a
name in Canada with his unique alternative country style. Absent on
record in recent years, he is back with Somewhere We Will Find
Our Place. This is an album of 10 tracks totaling 39 minutes
that has many good compositions to folk trend. Throughout the album,
his voice seems to whisper in our ears his sweet melodies, which is
nice. He certainly does not revolutionize the genre, but he still
stands some of the most interesting artists of the current Canadian
country folk scene.
The indie pop singer from Toronto releases her
fourth album with Good Advice. She decided to give the
production to her friend and collaborator Jim James (My
Morning Jacket) and she even drove to his studio in Louisville,
Kentucky. Less folk than her previous works, the album contains
electric guitar, synthesizers and a rhythm section that support a
little more her charming voice. It therefore has a more pop sound,
as if she finally came out of her shell to show what she can really
do with her voice, both in emotion and in power. Certainly her most
accessible record to date, Good Advice shows also Basia Bulat
at her best. An excellent album by an artist at the peak of her art!
Awaited for a long time, here is the new album by
the Toronto rapper. Unfortunately, Views quickly leaves the
impression of a damp squib. First, it never seems to start with the
endless "Keep the Family Close" of 5 minutes 30. Then there is a
clear lack of catchy melodies, the sound is sometimes old and
especially, we know we have 20 tracks for a total of 81 minutes in
front of us! Even the most patient fans will struggle to get to the
end of this challenge, but it's still at the very end that are
probably the best times with the title song and the hit "Hotline
Bling". The only other entertaining part arrives at the 16th track
with "Too Good", a duet with Rihanna in a dancehall trend. It
is often said, but the foundation of music is to provide pleasure.
When it becomes difficult, it’s because they missed the goal... Even
for the lyrics Drake gets back with his recurring theme of his love
stories that go nowhere. Who cares? Drake had a successful debut
which created excitement around him. But frankly, it is probably
time to get over him as he proves more and more that he cannot be
compared to the best Americans (Kendrick Lamar and others).
The Toronto singer is best known as the frontman of
The Lowest of the Low, but he also has excellent solo albums
Greasing the Star Machine(1998) and
Crackstatic (2000). On this new
album, he offers a great mix of alternative rock and classic rock,
occasionally flirting with rockabilly ("Strum and Drag"). He offers
some very good compositions that require us to stomp. Otherwise, the
whole may be somewhat uneven with frankly boring songs.
Ontario singer has once again decided on Midnight
Machines to drop her electronic dimension to rather offer an
acoustic album. A tradition that continues now with each of her
albums, it's mostly new versions of songs from
Little Machines issued in 2014, and
two new songs, "Follow You Down" and "Head Cold". There are only
eight in all for a total of around 40 minutes. A string section adds
richness and magic to the album that manages to conquer us promptly
with its warm atmosphere. In fact, one might even say that Lights is
at her best in this context. A very fine record!
Following the separation of the Great Bloomers,
the Canadian singer embarked on a solo career from which this is the
first album. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, Tim Moxam has a
very nice mix between folk music and country rock. Soft Summer
contains highly personal songs, many that were living a long time
already and have been remodeled several times. Moxam was finally
able to complete them and offer them on record. Although these songs
are from different times in his life, he managed to make a coherent
whole, cemented by his unique personality. If you like the country
folk genre, the whole album is great to listen to, all in softness.
Meghan Patrick is a country singer from Ontario
who arrives with her first album, Grace & Grit. She started
as the lead singer of the bluegrass group The Stone Sparrows.
She offers highly energetic contemporary country pop music, to which
is added her powerful voice. Among the contributors to the album,
there is Chad Kroeger who co-wrote and produced several
tracks including the first single, "Bow Chicka Wow Wow". There is
also Joe Nichols who sings a duet with Meghan on "Still Loving You".
It is a very effective first album that Meghan Patrick gives us, and
she may well become the next Shania Twain.
The Acadian electro-rap duo arrives with its
fifth album, but this time, completely in English. Although their
music fits beautifully the language of Shakespeare, we particularly
appreciated their uniqueness when they were singing in chiac. On
Light the Sky, Radio Radio seem determined more than ever to
make us dance, with custom concocted beats for the dance floors. The
arrival of two talented beatmakers in Shash'U and J.u.D.
to replace Arthur Comeau certainly adds to the festive
atmosphere that is full of energy. Despite this unstoppable energy,
Radio Radio is less successful in capturing our attention on this
new album that seems a bit too much like the mass of the genre
recordings. Radio Radio guys may very well sing in English if they
wish, but a few songs in chiac should always be part of their world,
since that is where they really shine.
Heather Rankin is part of the famous Rankin
Family from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which was at the top of
the Canadian folk scene in the 1990s before splitting in 1999.
Heather pursued an actress career and she now releases the album
A Fine Line. We still find some traces of Celtic folk music that
has characterized her family, but with a direction much more adult
pop. She returns with her sister Cookie and her brother
Jimmy the time of a song, "We Walk As One". We can also hear
Quake Matthews on her cover of Tears For Fears’
"Everybody Wants To Rule the World". Produced by David Tyson,
who also collaborated on the writing of several songs, A Fine
Line offers some interesting moments, without big surprises.
Royal Tusk is a band from Edmonton releasing their
first full-length album. Produced by Eric Ratz (Big Wreck,
Monster Truck, Arkells, Billy Talent),
Dealbreaker offers an energetic contemporary rock sound. Their
rock 'n' roll side is not without reminding us of Billy Talent
on several occasions. They also have energy like Collective Soul,
a band for which they are opening for a few concerts. Without
overflowing creativity, Royal Tusk offers lively and entertaining
The young songwriter and singer from Regina,
Saskatchewan picks his influences in Neil Young, Elliott
Smith and Wilco. But, he managed to create greatly his
own fantasy world on The Party. He offers sophisticated pop
music, usually acoustic but still with rich arrangements. Some songs
stand out from the lot as "The Magician" and "The Worst in You", but
the whole should be listened carefully a few times to be totally
digested. The reward will be even better as it is certainly one of
the best Canadian albums to be released since the beginning of 2016.
The Small Glories is a folk duo from Winnipeg,
Manitoba, which issues its debut album. Cara Luft and JD
Edwards give us acoustic folk music with a mastery of their
instruments: guitar, banjo and vocals. Both could well make separate
careers, but when they come together, magic happens and they become
a powerful tandem. Produced by Neil Osborne (54-40),
the disc recorded "live to tape" beautifully showcases the talent of
the two musicians, their vocal harmonies and the quality of their
compositions. Here is an excellent folk album, certainly one of the
best of the year so far!
The indie band from Toronto certainly never
thought about invading radios with an instant hit. That is what
happened with the first single from Hope, "Spirits", a pop
rock song that is totally unforgettable. Simon Ward and his
band finally managed to produce their real anthem they will have to
play for the rest of their career. The rest of the album offers a
mix of indie pop, folk and rock. Other tracks compare favorably with
"Spirits". This is particularly the case for the next one, "Shovels
& Dirt", whose chorus with a choir has the same addictive potential.
The Strumbellas present an album that is mostly addictive and it
will certainly make you sing along.
After 10 years of career, the indie rock band
from Vancouver finally seems to truly take off with this fourth
album. Really dynamic, Paradise quickly captures our
attention with catchy rhythms, despite a rock sound that has nothing
conventional. Their punk and noise roots are in fact never far away,
with also some experiments on guitar, balancing between punk and
metal. The voice of Mish Barber-Way stands out throughout the
CD, despite a squeaky guitar and outstanding rhythm section. The
influences of Hole and the Pixies are obvious, but
White Lung seem to have finally found their own way. Too bad we only
have 10 tracks totaling 28 minutes. We have no choice: we must
listen to it in loop, but it will be with pleasure! A superb album,
The songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist and
producer from Toronto does almost everything on his new album, to
the coproduction with Bill Lefler. The only other
collaborations are those of Hannah Georgas and Felicity
Williams (Bahamas). With very little electronic
assistance, Ghost Light is essentially organic and warm. Wood
explores different sounds of guitars and percussion, adding piano
and orchestrations, which makes it very rich and extremely varied
pop rock music. The first single, "Long Way Out" gives an excellent
overview but this is the case throughout the 13 tracks. With
Ghost Light, Royal Wood gives a new take-off to his career by
taking the forefront of the Canadian pop rock scene. A surprising
and so pleasant record!
Forever is the
first album by indie rock band from Winnipeg, Yes We Mystic. The
group offers a mix of brit pop we can compare to Radiohead
and Coldplay with a Montreal introspective indie sound like
Patrick Watson and Wolf Parade. The album has in fact
been produced by Jace Lasek who worked with the last two. The
band also integrates other influences like folk and orchestral pop
music that can sometimes recall Arcade Fire. This is a really
interesting and surprising debut record that is offered to us by Yes
We Mystic, a band to watch closely.
The Dead Ships is a garage rock trio from Los
Angeles issuing their debut album after three years of intensive
tour across America. They pick some influences from The Strokes,
but also the Pixies, with a focus on an energetic and
powerful electric guitar. They certainly don’t revolutionize the
genre, but it is rather nice to hear a pure rock sound in 2016,
while the mix of genres is popular. Citycide is an honest and
efficient album that offers some very good times.
The Californian now living in New York presents a
superb blend of introspective songs on a vintage and quite
aggressive rock bottom. Her guitar dominates in many occasions, like
fighting with her nice voice. Margaret cites influences of Weezer
and we can indeed recognize the band's style in her way of playing
guitar at several times. Otherwise, the comparison stops there since
it generally proves to be much more introspective, with Fiona
Apple, for example, coming to mind. Blues influences are also
evident at other times. This is a very effective album that offers
us the American singer.
The trio from Wales releases their third album,
which they recorded at home after a long tour, probably in a desire
to reconnect with their early influences. But musically, The Joy
Formidable don’t really go away from what they offered before, with
their indie rock sound straight from the 1990s. They may have some
gothic influences with references from the past, but it remains they
manage to offer us very good melodies. Without equaling their
previous two albums, Hitch is an honest record their fans
will probably appreciate.
After the very successful
Blueprints two years ago, the
songwriter and guitarist comes back again with an album that is
somewhere between blues and folk.
Adam Karch has a mix of solo songs and in trio with his cronies
Marc-André Drouin (bass) and Bernard Deslauriers (drums).
We hear many original compositions, but also surprising versions as
Bob Seger’s "Night Moves", Keb 'Mo’s excellent "City
Boy" and Warren Zevon’s "Werewolves of London".
Karch redoes also one of his own songs in a very groovy version of
"Did You Get the Latest News", going back to 2002 and that could be
heard on his debut album,
Recorded in Montreal, Moving Forward shows Adam Karch at the
top of his game, a strong maturity gained in recent years on tour.
Again, this is an excellent album that has everything to please fans
of authentic music.
The indie folk band from Providence, Rhode Island
issues a fourth album that is full of ideas and experiments,
unfortunately not always successful.
Several songs are quite cacophonous and become difficult to bear
over their entire length.
For example, "Ozzie", which starts yet aggressively, almost rock 'n'
roll, is being slowed down for no apparent reason in the middle to
add all kinds of irrelevant and especially uninteresting effects.
This tribute to the Ozzfest could easily have become the anthem of
the album if they had not massacred it.
The Low Anthem definitely take aside folk to rather get lost in a
progressive rock sound of the 1970s mixed with electronic
experiments reminding of Radiohead (in quite less
Their break of the last five years was definitely not beneficial for
the band that dangerously strayed from what they did best.
If they had a profound desire to experiment, they had to propose a
parallel project, not a new album by The Low Anthem that will only
make their fans of before to get away.
For his 23rd album, Eric Clapton returns to
producer Glyn Johns, the very one who had produced
Slowhand in 1977. Otherwise, Clapton is not at all at the
same spot on I Still Do with a majority of sweet and touching
songs. There are a few moments of pure blues, as with the first
track, "Alabama Woman Blues", but that is no longer at the heart of
his work. The CD contains a majority of covers, blues, pop and folk
standards with songs from J.J. Cale, Robert Johnson,
Skip James, Bob Dylan, etc. The only two original
songs by Clapton, "Spiral" and "Catch the Blues", come to
beautifully complete the set. Some might say they would rather hear
an album of original songs, but the play of Clapton and his
interaction with Johns are simply magical. The result is a highly
enjoyable album to listen to that will find its significant number
The Monkees are celebrating 50 years of career this
year. So it's a good time to issue a new album, 20 years after their
last studio recording. It is possibly their last album, but if
that's the case, what a good way to end a career like no other!
Good Times shows the style that made them so popular in the
mid-1960s with catchy songs that give us the desire for singing in
chorus. The quality of the compositions is impressive and even if
the style refers to the past, the sound remains well anchored in its
contemporary time. It's an album that is pleasant listening to the
end, with a smile and a certain nostalgia for the golden age of pop
music. Note collaborations of Rivers Cuomo and Noel
Gallagher, both fans of the band.
Mudcrutch was formed in 1970 with a 17-year old only
Tom Petty. Popular in bars, the band broke up before they
recorded a full-length album and they would pave the way for Tom
Petty & the Heartbreakers. The five musicians reunited in 2007
to record their first album and they are now back with its follower.
We quickly recognize the style of Tom Petty with a pop rock sound
tending to country and sad ballads. Unlike the previous record, it
only features original songs by each of the musicians, although with
a domination of Petty who wrote seven of the 11 tracks. One of the
highlights of the CD is offered by Tom Leadon with "The Other
Side of the Mountain". But the whole offers a nice consistency and
remains strong from beginning to end. This is actually the best
material by Tom Petty in years.
The legendary Paul Simon is back with a new album,
five years after the excellent
So Beautiful or So What. Stranger
to Stranger begins surprisingly with "The Werewolf", a song with
a single rhythm, based on bass, drums and maracas. This is by the
way an album primarily based on the beats that offers us Paul Simon
with only a pair of acoustic songs that stand out from the rest.
Despite his 50-year career, Simon is certainly not nostalgic and he
instead turns to the future. He will still succeed in surprising
many with the very effective Stranger to Stranger. Despite
its 37 minutes, that's a record to savor each piece until the end.
The American band has decided to pay tribute to
their favorite band, Led Zeppelin,
replaying their second album in full, the excellent Led Zeppelin
II, one of the best albums in history. Train are maybe going a
little too far otherwise in their desire to remain faithful to the
original as copying and mimicking all the expressions, all sounds,
even playing with the stereo effects as in 1969. This can be
confusing at times as if you’re not attentive enough you might think
that this is the original that is playing. So in that sense, we must
ask the question: was the exercise necessary? Certainly not since
you can always listen to the original that was even rereleased
recently. Train certainly could have put a bit of their personality
in it, but the result does not even look like their other material,
which may confuse fans of the band.
Trumpeter Cuong Vu played regularly with
guitarist Pat Metheny since the early 2000s. But, it's the first
time they work together for a whole album with the Cuong Vu trio.
Their collaboration for an avant-garde jazz album may seem odd at
first, but don’t forget the versatility of Metheny that can adapt to
different contexts. The quartet therefore offers modern jazz music
of great creativity, which certainly lacks no sound experiments. It
is a difficult album to approach at first but it has to be tamed
slowly, only to find that the universe of the two musicians blend
In 2012, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny created the
Unity Band, that would grow later with the addition of
multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. This double album
recorded live at the Black Box Theatre in New York in 2014 is a
single recorded and filmed performance. The main feature of this
band is that their music is mostly based on the brass and rhythm
section, leaving at the same time less space for the guitar of
Metheny. In addition to the tracks of the two albums of the Unity
Band, there are pieces from Metheny’s long career that now spans 40
years. The style of the album goes from classic acoustic music with
more sustained rhythms, and even atmospheric world music. There's
something for everyone in a very nice listening ensemble, despite
nearly two hours of music.
Several compilations of The Cars music have been
issued over the years, but nothing really worth to be compared to
Complete Greatest Hits. That 20-track collection was
covering the best of the band's career in chronological order in
addition to having a detailed booklet. For Moving in Stereo: The
Best of The Cars, Ric Ocasek and his band have instead
decided to include a few rarities, including a live song,
"Everything You Say". There are 18 in total, but it lacks several
important hits whose excellent "Good Times Roll", "Magic" and "Bye
Bye Love". In addition, there is no timeline on the album, which
makes it much less interesting than
Complete Greatest Hits. You can always rely on the best ones
like "Just What I Needed", "You Might Think", "Shake It Up", "Drive"
and "Tonight She Comes", but the fact remains that it is not a
greatest hits collection covering their entire career.
For 45 years now, Alligator Records presents some of
the best blues artists. To mark the occasion, here is a compilation
on 2 CDs containing 37 tracks including the likes of Elvin Bishop,
Koko Taylor, Joe Louis Walker, Jimmy Johnson,
Mavis Staples, James Cotton, Johnny Winter,
and many others.
For his third album, the country singer takes a
direction a little more rock, inspired among other by the 1980s. In
fact, John Mellencamp comes quickly in mind. Frankie Ballard
also does a version of Bob Seger’s "You'll Accomp'ny Me", one
of the few ballads on the album, which releases energy for most of
it. Ballard has several great songs, all simple, but highly
effective. The sound of El Rio reminds perhaps John
Mellencamp, but his most memorable material including
Scarecrow. With this new record, Frankie Ballard offers his
most coherent and effective recording to date.
On their two previous albums, the Los Angeles
band had rather retro R&B and soul influences. On this self-titled
album, Fitz and the Tantrums turn to a contemporary pop sound.
Danceable and generally perfect for radios, their music is certainly
very pleasant to listen to, with infectious anthems like the hit
"Handclap" and "Complicated". For this record, Michael
Fitzpatrick and his band collaborated with author Sam
Hollander (Katy Perry, Panic At The Disco, Neon
Trees). He has certainly contributed significantly to the group
by his sensitivity and ability with energetic programmed beats.
Producer Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Tegan and Sara)
has surely something to do with it too. An excellent album of dance
Since their debut album in 2009, the Quebec trio
has come a long way. Their music has indeed been heard in several
commercials and even in American series like The Blacklist,
The Middle and Awkward. For this new album, they have
in fact a compilation of all the songs recorded in Brooklyn with
producers Gus Van Go and Werner F (The Stills,
Trois Accords, Cowboys Fringants). Many of the 19
songs have already been heard regularly, starting with the excellent
hit "Je pense encore à toi" which played extensively in an
advertising for Bell Fibe, but also "Nouvelle-Angleterre" and "I'm
So Into You". You can hear famous names as contributors: James Di
Salvio (Bran Van 3000) and Ivan Doroschuk (Men
Without Hats). Hugo Clermont, Lorraine Muller and
Daniel Saucier offer us an energetic pop rock sound with
memorable melodies, music that appeals to everyone.
After the audacious book-double CD released last
year, Erik West Millette resumed service with the collective
West Trainz. This is again a musical tribute to trains that have
always been a passion for him. He is accompanied by first class
performers as Nanette Workman, Bïa, Emilie-Claire
Barlow, Betty Bonifassi, Thomas Hellman, Steve
Hill, and many others. Train Songs includes 11 songs from
the 1940s to the 1970s that evoke the railway universe. Classics can
be heard as Junior Parker’s "Mystery Train", Bobby
Robinson’s "Number 9 Train", Goffin and King’s "The
Jimi Hendrix’ "Hear My Train a Comin'", and even Félix
Leclerc’s "Le train du Nord" in the Bïa way. One can also
discover as first single Steve Goodman’s "The City of New
Orleans" by Zachary Richard. The set contains many pieces of
blues, but it also explores rock, jazz and pop music. A surprising and highly interesting album!
When bassist Les Claypool joins singer and
guitarist Sean Lennon, it can only get to experimental and
creative material. That's what they decided to do last year and the
result is this 11-track collective delusion. Monolith of Phobos
is a rather surreal journey into a psychedelic progressive world.
Fortunately, despite constant experimentation, the duo managed to
concentrate their efforts to a still coherent sound in its madness.
Their music is centered around the bass of Claypool in an energetic
beat even if somewhat difficult to follow. It is a creative and
highly effective album that released this unusual duo.
and Shay Mooney decided to form a duo in Nashville in 2012.
Four years later, they release their second album, Obsessed,
a country pop record for a wide audience. In fact, with the number
of ballads that is included on the CD, Dan + Shay fall more easily
into an adult contemporary territory than country. The duo is
wrapped in sumptuous and syrupy arrangements, that are a little too
present since they remove all the intimate side of the duo that
might be interesting. After the successful "All Nighter" and "Road
Trippin'", Obsessed becomes rather filled with annoying and
Two years after a remarkable first album, Paul
Deslauriers is back with a new record of energetic blues rock. This
time, the whole trio was put to work during the creative process.
These are 10 original songs that offer Deslauriers (guitar, vocals),
Greg Morency (bass) and Sam Harrisson (drums), with
lyrics by Paul Deslauriers, assisted by Alec McElcheran. The
contagious energy of the trio on stage is transposed to perfection
on this album which will certainly be among the best blues albums of
On his new album in a trio version with Larry
Grenadier (bass) and Jeff Ballard (drums), pianist Brad
Mehldau plays seven standards of jazz, blues and pop ballads. There
are titles by Buddy Johnson, Cole Porter, Charlie
Parker, etc. One can even hear
The Beatles’ "And I
Love Her" and Paul McCartney’s "My Valentine". Everything is
played in an extremely soft acoustic jazz style. Without being as
audacious as some of his previous records for the choice of songs,
Mehldau has still made wise choices that align perfectly for 55
minutes. The album is listened with pleasure to the end, providing
excellent ambient music.
DJ Champion (aka Maxime Morin) is back
with his fourth album of original compositions. The CD begins
perhaps gently with "I Can’t Let Go," but it quickly turns then into
an album to party and, right from the second song, "Life Is Good".
These two tracks and two others had not found their spot on his
previous album, fitting less in the mood, but on Best Seller,
it was time to introduce them. In addition to his energizing beats
and the ubiquitous electric guitar, Champion still considers voice
as important since the performance of Betty Bonifassi on "No
Heaven", the hit that has made him famous. Here, the guest singers
are Lou Laurence, Marie-Christine Depestre and Anna
Frances Meyer all offering outstanding performances. Even with
very few words, Anna Frances Meyer manages to impress in "Boy Toy".
This is a solid album that offers again Champion, a perfect record
for the summer season.
Since the late 1990s, a new album by the Goo Goo
Dolls is no longer creating much excitement. Now a duo formed of
John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, the Goo Goo Dolls release
their eleventh album on an environmental awareness background.
Otherwise, it is certainly the only modern element to the album that
has a sound from another era, a common pop rock of 20 years ago.
There are a few rhythms that can recall the hip hop of Twenty One
Pilots, but they are not very persuasive essays. The whole
remains mostly focused around ballads and mid-tempo tracks that
characterized the group for almost 20 years. So we are again far
from the aggressive alternative rock sound of their early years.
Some interesting melodies will probably manage to capture the
attention of a certain audience and by the way some radio stations.
But Boxes contains nothing more remarkable than what the
group has offered since the turn of the millennium.
The Floridian is back with her third album. Now
well established as a mature singer, Ariana Grande offers a very
nice mix of classic soul, 1990s pop and contemporary R&B. Producer
Max Martin and his Swedish colleague Ilya certainly
have something to do with this sound combining the present with the
past. It is in the dance songs that Ariana truly stands out, like
with "Be Alright". A little heavier R&B songs are also greatly
interesting. Among the collaborators there are Nicki Minaj,
Lil Wayne, Macy G and Future. With Dangerous
Woman, Ariana is able to offer us a more consistent album than
her previous one.
For his eighth album, the Quebecer from Gaspésie
returns to his English roots and issues his second album in the
language of Shakespeare, his first since 2007. Kevin Parent also
returns to his folk, country rock and blues roots. It is a trip to
Japan that inspired the title song of the new album, as well as
others to come on an upcoming album. For now, Parent was eager to
present the eight tracks that appeared during recording sessions in
Los Angeles. So it is a short album of 31 minutes, but with a wealth
rarely heard on his latest albums. We feel that the artist found
himself in a context where he was feeling particularly comfortable,
in the heart of his real musical universe. Kanji is an
extremely effective album which is sure to please his fans of the
Following his divorce from Miranda Lambert,
Blake Shelton is back with a slightly more luminous record than the
last one. He took the opportunity to present his new flame while
Gwen Stefani is accompanying him on "Go Ahead and Break My
Heart". The pop and romantic ballads dominate If I'm Honest,
and this is an album that will certainly be mostly for a wide
audience, not a country audience. Shelton seems specially to want to
join his new fans who knew him through The Voice. Of the 15
tracks available, some stand out as "Straight Outta Cold Beer",
"Came Here To Forget" and "Go Ahead and Break My Heart". Otherwise,
the whole can quickly become boring for both fans of the first hour
and true country fans. If I'm Honest proves to be rather
annoying and good luck to listen to the whole!
The alternative rock band with country trend from
Kentucky released the album It Still Moves in 2003. It was
their third studio album. Thirteen years later, it is reissued in a
remixed and remastered version, with a second bonus CD containing
previously unreleased material, including several demo versions. On
It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket offer us music that is not
without reminding us of Neil Young and The Band,
southern folk rock with a high quality. Several songs extend in
length with 12 tracks totaling 72 minutes, but it always seems
justified and rarely boring. Well built, the album is still among
the most interesting of their career.
The Angry Birds Movie (Original Motion Picture
To accompany the animated film Angry Birds,
they have assembled a rather eclectic mix of artists, styles and
even eras. We can find indeed hits from the 1980s as Rick Astley’s
("Never Gonna Give You Up") and Scorpions’ ( "Rock You Like a
Hurricane"), a heavier song with Limp Bizkit, as well as
contemporary artists like Imagine Dragons and Steve Aoki.
Some songs were written for the film and you can discover new
compositions by Blake Shelton, Demi Lovato and
Charli XCX. This is primarily a compilation for fans of the
film, since there are no guidelines.
The release in Canada of the latest album by the
prince of music takes on a special meaning as it comes out eight
days after his death. The prolific composer has not slowed down in
recent years, although his health was worsening. HITnRUN Phase
Two is indeed his fourth album since 2014 for a total
approaching 40 in career. Less pop than
Phase 1, HITnRUN Phase Two presents funk and soul
recalling The Revolution. We can also hear jazz moments and
an energetic rock song in "Screwdriver". Although it is very
eclectic, the record has very good passages, possibly his best
assemblage of songs since
3121issued 10 years ago.
Prince may be gone, but we can bet that many unreleased recordings
are lying around in a drawer, because he was composing and recording
constantly in his studio in Minneapolis. So you should see
unreleased material by Prince released in the coming years.
Meanwhile, enjoy the last good album that he offered.
(May 2016 Featured Review)
Ferraro is a quartet from Toronto formed of brothers Cosmo,
Gianni and Tally Ferraro, accompanied by guitarist
Tom Ionescu. They propose an indie rock sound that reminds
The Strokes, but is heavily inspired by rock's golden age with
many references to the 1950s and 1960s, specially the
Their music is upbeat and the energizing effect is immediate.
Losing Sleep proves to be particularly contagious and it
certainly makes you want to see them on stage. Bet you'll have many
of the 10 songs of the album in mind for a long time. The only
problem with Losing Sleep is that it is too short with only
32 minutes. (May 2016 Featured New Artist)
The Canadian duo formed of the brothers John
and James Abrams has already released three albums under the
name of Abrams Brothers. They are now taking a direction a
little less country to offer a rather folk rock sound to pop trend,
much more oriented towards a wide audience. This self-titled EP
features six tracks to greatly catchy melodies that will make them
immediately appealing to fans of Mumford & Sons and The
Lumineers. This is a beautiful card to open doors wide at
commercial radios. (May 2016)
The Blue Man Group was formed 25 years ago in New
York City. Designed primarily for the stage, the project has also
brought original music and this is the third studio album offered by
the band of men in blue. Completely instrumental, their music is
rather experimental, with the use of many instruments created by
them, especially percussion. Their music is pleasant to listen to by
itself, but we must say that their very visual shows are lacking
greatly. It's best to have already seen their colorful shows, which
is giving a new dimension to the album.
After a career of more than 20 years, the
Californian metal band continues to offer this heavy and dark music,
put forward by the title of the album, Gore. Otherwise, the
front cover with pink flamingos seems to create a dichotomy with the
themes explored by the quintet. Deftones have still entrusted the
production of the album to Matt Hyde who had worked on their
previous album. Chino Moreno is riding between a voice of
great beauty and a demonic voice, showing at the same time all his
versatility. It's always on a wire that the group seems to be
frolicking between attractive and repulsive music, between
mainstream and music for metal specialists. On some occasions, the
group honors the past of metal with riffs worthy of Judas Priest
or Iron Maiden. But in general, the Deftones guys remain
fairly well anchored in the 21st century. Gore is an album
that deftly evolves to reach its peak in the middle with
"Hearts/Wires", "Pittura Infamante" and "Xenon". They still finish
strongly with the title track, the excellent "Phantom Bride" (with
Jerry Cantrell on guitar) and "Rubicon". In fact, the weak
moments are rare and you have to listen to the album as a whole to
truly appreciate the quality of the work. A great record!
Virtuoso pianist Lorraine Desmarais offers a new
album of original compositions for big band. This is her first
record for big band since
Lorraine Desmarais Big Band which won a Félix (in Quebec) in
2009. Danses Danzas Dances is the 12th
album of her career. On this new album, she makes a tour of the
world in dances with the best jazz musicians in Montreal. She is
accompanied by Jean-Pierre Zanella (alto and soprano
saxophones, flute), Alexandre Côté (alto saxophone, flute),
Jean Fréchette (baritone saxophone, clarinet), Ron Di
Lauro (trumpet, flugelhorn), Richard Gagnon (trombone),
Bob Ellis (bass trombone), Frédéric Alarie (double
bass), and many others. This is first the tango that gave her the
will of writing dance pieces, but there are also on the album a
triple swing, a habanera, a milonga, a romantic bolero, a samba,
etc. There are 10 in all totaling 57 minutes. Even if everything is
not necessarily danceable, it is a real treat for the ears and a
must for any jazz lover.
Escondido is a duo from Nashville formed of
Tyler James and Jessica Maros. They offer a pop rock
sound tinged with some country touches and even Mexican music.
Following the excellent album
The Ghost of Escondido
issued in 2013, the duo now returns with its second record. Again,
they present several excellent songs in a consistent whole and which
is pleasant to listen to. Jessica's voice seduces us quickly, from
the first track, "Footprints".
The Scottish band is back with its fifth studio
album. Masterfully produced by Aaron Dessner (The National),
the album manages to carry the rather introspective indie rock sound
of the band into a much larger atmosphere. They are found here
somewhere between The Killers and Arcade Fire. There
are still some good more intimate mid-tempo songs, but the whole is
distinguished by its fast catching power. This is certainly their
most accessible album to date, yet perhaps their strongest, with
several prominent compositions. One only needs to mention the four
tracks that start the album, "Death Dream", "Get Out", "I Wish I Was
Sober" and "Woke Up Hurting". With Painting of a Panic Attack,
there is no doubt that Frightened Rabbit just made their entrance
into the big leagues. Let’s see what will happen next.
The Irish band offer us their second album. The
Gloaming still present their mix of Irish traditional music,
contemporary classical, post-rock, jazz and experimental music. So
it's definitely not common music they propose whereas they are
absolutely incomparable. Violinist Martin Hayes points out
that this second record is even more expressive and emotionally
charged than the first one. Maybe a little more rooted in
traditional music than the previous one, The Gloaming 2
offers once more an extraordinary musical experience.
The English singer and songwriter is back with
her first album in five years. She offers again a raw sound with a
mix of blues and rock, with elements of jazz and even spirituality.
As on her previous album,
Let England Shake, the best
moments remain her emotional passages looking back on the disasters
of war. Otherwise, occasionally, she seems to denounce a bit for
free, or even to accuse by pointing us. If there is a feeling that
we don’t want when listening to music, it's really to feel judged...
In this sense, some songs like "Medicinals" make us lose the
interest in this rather unequal set where the artist takes only a
position of an observer. We heard much more satisfying and personal
stuff from PJ Harvey in the past.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is an
Australian band formed five years ago. Very prolific, they already
have a fifth album since 2014 only, and none can be compared to the
previous one. They offer a particularly creative psychedelic
alternative rock sound. On Nonagon Infinity, they seem able
to channel their various experiments of the last albums in a set a
little more consistent. The nine pieces that make up the album (for
a total of 42 minutes) were created to be listened to at once
without breaks, like an endless music loop. The result is certainly
mesmerizing with a fast pace that rarely stops, each track taking up
a part of the previous one. At the beginning of the CD, we find
traces of 1970’s metal like Black Sabbath and Blue Oÿster
Cult. Thereafter, it is rather a mixture of old progressive rock
as Frank Zappa and more contemporary prog rock as the
Flaming Lips, with also some jazz elements. Here is a creative
group which has to be discovered at any price, especially with this
For the first time, Lorraine Klaasen has a French
song, the title track of her new album. The rest of Nouvelle journée (New
day) contains songs in English, but also in tribal languages of
her native South Africa (Tsonga, Sotho,
Isizulu et Xhosa). Lorraine pays tribute to
her mother, Thandie Klaasen, performing "Izani Nonke" one of
her most critical songs against the elected officials who govern us.
The singer also presents "Where to Now", a soulful ballad she had
written nearly 30 years ago imploring compassion and condemning
greed. On Nouvelle journée,
Lorraine Klaasen again offers an excellent blend of world music and
soul for a sunny, positive and danceable record.
The one that was the rival of Madonna in the
1980s for the title of Queen of Pop makes a true musical "detour" on
this album. Cyndi Lauper offers indeed her favorite country
standards from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. If her voice fits well to
the exercise, her interpretations have nothing very bright and one
wonders if this is an album that was needed. You can hear some
interesting moments as "Funnel of Love", "Heartaches by the Number"
and "Hard Candy Christmas" in conclusion. Otherwise, the whole
proves somewhat disjointed and would probably be more interesting on
stage in a musical revue. Detour is primarily for Cyndi a
record to pleasure herself. Note the presence of renowned guest
artists as Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Jewel,
Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris (for the title track).
The Brasil Session is the third album from the Montreal’s songwriter
and performer born in Haiti. Vox Sambou is flawlessly blending the
genres for rich world music of diverse influences. As its title
indicates, we can of course hear Brazilian music, but we also find
elements of rock from various origins, traditional rhythms,
Afro-Latin elements, reggae and rap. The lyrics change between
English, French, Spanish and Creole. With The Brasil Session,
the one who is very involved with local teens in the Côte-des-Neiges
district in Montreal solidifies his leadership position in Canada’s
new world music.
Born in Mozambique, this neo-Montrealer presents a
mixture of acoustic music, rock and electro, incorporating rhythms
and lyrics inspired by his roots. It is therefore mixed world music
that has all the necessary groove to appeal to a wide audience. With
his first single, "LOL", Samito proves his talent as a melodist. His
lyrics pass from English to Portuguese through TSWA. On this first
album of eight tracks can be heard many energetic and lively moments
that will satisfy the most demanding fans. It is only a pity that
the whole lasts only 27 minutes.
Born in the Lac-Mégantic region, Quebec, Kyra
Shaughnessy is a poet, songwriter and singer who made a career for
ten years. On her third album, conceived with producer Dany
Placard, she still offers folk music, but integrating sounds and
influences from Ireland, West Africa and the First Nations. She
alternates between French and English (also with Irish Gaelic), and
she operates in an enveloping atmosphere. The beautiful arrangements
enrich the set that perfectly highlights the pure voice of Kyra.
is a beautiful album, both personal and universal.
The American country singer is back with his
second album, You Should Be Here. From the first song, "Flatliner",
he is accompanied by Dierks Bentley, to give some energy to
the beginning of the album. Otherwise, he returns immediately to a
mid-tempo song with little interest in "Middle of a Memory". It's a
bit the feeling that we will have throughout the CD with several
songs that are easy to ignore between mid-tempo songs and ballads.
It is always the catchy songs that are the most successful for Cole
Swindell, but he has unfortunately only a few. Those who had loved
his first album will not be too destabilized while this is the same
recipe on You Should Be Here.
With over 50 years of career, the 68-year old
Montrealer is a true folk legend who played with the greatest
including the extended McGarrigle/Wainwright family. Chaim
Tannenbaum was involved on more than 20 albums, either as a
multi-instrumentalist musician and as a producer. Otherwise, he
releases his first solo album. "Finally", would say his friends and
admirers. The album contains 13 tracks of traditional folk music,
totally acoustic. A retired professor of philosophy, Tannenbaum now
lives in New York City. It will be possible to hear him in concert
in Montreal on June 9 at the Upstairs.
Victoria + Jean are a duo from Brussels
presenting their first album with Divine Love. For the
occasion, they are surrounded by an impressive list of producers:
Ian Caple (Tricky, Kate Bush), John Parish
(PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp), Rob Kirwan (Depeche
Christopher Berg (The Knife, Fever Ray, Depeche
Mode), Joe Hirst (Florence + the Machine, Stone
Roses, M.I.A.) and Alistair Chant (PJ Harvey).
Their music is based on the haunting voice of Victoria and the
electric guitar of Jean. Note that Victoria and Jean, who also are a
couple in life, wanted to produce a music video for each of the 12
songs of the album. The result is like a collection of short films,
each more interesting than each other. Here is a convincing first
album by this Belgian duo of great talent.
Take All My Loves is
not his first foray into the world of Shakespeare, but in this case,
Rufus Wainwright presents a clever mix between his chamber pop
music, opera and readings. Three sonnets have already appeared on
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu,
but they are presented here in new arrangements. We find 16 tracks
in all so, many poems are found in two different versions. Among the
guest artists, first note opera singer Anna Prohaska, but
also Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Martha
Wainwright and Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine).
BBC Symphony Orchestra also made many appearances. Some fans
might be disappointed not to hear Wainwright sing very often on the
album, but he rather acts as the conductor of a varied album which
is designed primarily to highlight the work of Shakespeare. In fact,
Wainwright especially proves his versatility as a musician and
arranger. A beautiful album full of creativity!
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
(Remastered Version) (2 CD)
In 1985, Genesis drummer reached peaks in
solo with his most popular album in career, No Jacket Required,
winner of a Grammy for Album of the Year. It was including huge hits
that are often considered anthems of the 1980s: "Sussudio", the
ballad "One More Night", "Don’t Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home".
More than 30 years later, here is a reissue of the album, remastered
and with a bonus second CD. On the CD entitled Extra Large Jacket
Required, one can discover 10 live tracks, most of them taken
from the album, but also the hit "Easy Lover" with Philip Bailey.
The CD ends with three demo versions of "Only You Know and I Know",
"One More Night" and "Take Me Home". If his first album,
Face Value, is considered by many to
be his masterpiece, No Jacket Required was certainly the most
important album of the career of Phil Collins, to the point he could
never get such success thereafter. No Jacket Required
represents the best of the 1980s pop rock. Note that most of Phil
Collins albums were
reissued in recent months with a second bonus CD, including
Face Value, Hello I Must Be Going, Both Sides and
Many Anglophone artists recorded a song in the
language of Molière during their career. These are 14 of those songs
that are assembled on this unique compilation. In some cases, these
are French song covers like "La vie en rose" by Grace Jones,
"Tous les garçons et les filles" by
Eurythmics, "La complainte de la butte"
by Rufus Wainwright and "Avec le temps"
by Belinda Carlisle. In other cases, there is a French
version of one of their hits like "Waterloo" by ABBA,
"Heroes" by David
Bowie, "Diamond Sun" by Glass Tiger and "Sunday Girl"
by Blondie. Finally, some songs were written in French as "Embrasse-moi"
by Sam Roberts, the excellent "Jolie Louise" from Daniel
Lanois first album and "Quand je pense à toi"
which was written by Chris de Burg specifically for the
Quebec market. Can also be heard on the album Julio Iglesias,
Olivia Newton-John and Elton John. Here is a nice
blend of French material by superstars of pop music.
Ten years have passed since her last solo album,
but now Gwen Stefani finally releases her third record. This long
break was marked by her children, but especially by her divorce from
Gavin Rossdale (Bush). We quickly hear it on This
Is What The Truth Feels Like when a handful of songs are about
liberation ("Used To Love You", "Me Without You", etc.). Musically,
she has a modern pop sound, but with trends that are a little too
adult at times. Her dance rhythms are certainly approaching Kylie
over new pop sensations. Rock is unfortunately wiped out and the
fans of the first hours of No Doubt are not likely to be
concerned. They will wait for the new album from their favorite band
to come soon, but with a man instead of Gwen, Davey Havok (AFI)!?
To return to this new album, after several mid-tempo songs without
much interest, Gwen goes head first into club music focused on bass
and produced to perfection. Even if we finally get a bit of
excitement, it's nothing to convince us of the relevance of this new
record, and the chance to return immediately to the first song are
slim. Gwen certainly has quality pop music, but she fails to stand
out as much as we would have liked. (April
2016 Featured Review)
After having become well known with his samplings
of the Beach Boys, Nathan Jenkins issues his first
album of original music. The London producer has since gone from hip
hop beats to much more electro pop music. This does not mean that he
has become accessible either. Instead, the music of Bullion remains
rather left field with some good beats, but especially the need to
listen carefully to what he has to offer us if we really want to
adhere to his work. Otherwise, once you put an effort, you can only
be convinced of the effectiveness of his compositions. Do not expect
anything for radios, but his electro pop sound with new wave
influences, sometimes reminding Gary Numan (the excellent
"Speed"), should get to seduce you. Occasional Brass integration
also helps to make his music earthier. Here is a very good example
that hybrid music of the 2010s can be particularly creative and just
as enjoyable to listen to. Bullion offers unique atmospheric music.
(April 2016 Featured New Artist)
After five years of absence, the US band is back
on record. But, they have two important members in less following
the departure of guitarist Matt Roberts (a founding member)
and longtime bassist Todd Harrell, who had to be replaced.
Also, to give life to the music of the band that became frankly
Time of My Life, they hired
producer Matt Wallace. In this sense, it is successful since
the group returns to energetic rhythms, powerful choruses and riffs
to fill stadiums in their way. Otherwise, forget creativity with 11
songs that remind all Nickelback. It becomes quickly
annoying, as soon as with the first songs, "The Broken" and "In the
Dark". 3 Doors Down have perhaps never been geniuses of creation,
but now they don’t have any more inspiration. The only positive
think: Us and the Night does not do us sleep as their
previous CD, even managing to make us stomp on occasion.
After a dozen years in an independent career of
each other, the brother and sister finally meet on the same album.
They had collaborated on different records from each other and had
tour together, but The Family Album is a first joint
recording. They have five new songs, two of Matthew and three of
Jill, in a country folk style. The six other songs of the album are
covers carefully chosen from a repertoire of folk from the 1960s and
1970s. These include Townes Van Zandt’s "If I Needed You" and
Neil Young’s "Comes a Time". We can also hear the English
version of Leonard Cohen’s "La complainte du partisan". The
album was masterfully produced by Michael Piersante (Willie
Nelson, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Elvis Costello)
and you can discover both their Canadian folk and Americana
influences. Although they remain highly effective independently of
each other, it seems that Matthew and Jill gain strength when they
The English artist Bibio (his real name is
Stephen Wilkinson) is cleverly mixing electronics and acoustics
for a unique electro folk indie sound. On A Mineral Love, he
explores again modern music of the 21st century, but joining it with
a R&B and funk atmosphere carrying us straight to the 1970s. He left
aside sampling to play real songs in the studio. That's when he uses
old synthesizers or a funky guitar from another era that he is at
his best. Bibio offers us music in sweetness and subtlety that
creates a very special and extremely pleasant atmosphere. Among the
collaborators to the album, there are Gotye, Olivier St
Louis and Wax Stag.
The pianist and composer from Québec releases his
debut album of neo-classical or contemporary classical. It is a
minimalist album on which only the piano is expressed. Through eight
tracks totaling 27 minutes, he managed to do admirably in spending
emotion. It's like a movie playing in front of our eyes. Jean-Michel
Blais will certainly become a widely recognized artist.
The singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia releases his debut
album with Telluric. He offers a mixture of pop rock and
rather introspective adult alternative rock. Names like Jack
Johnson and Josh Rouse may come to mind, but Corby has a
distinctive voice and a unique phrasing. He presents an album with
11 songs totaling 46 minutes and the whole remains fairly consistent
until the end with some very good times.
The indie psychedelic band from Los Angeles
releases the fourth album of their career. For the occasion, the
formation of 10 musicians has changed its creative process by
locking everyone in the same room to write and record. This results
in an overall work that is a little more consistent, despite surges
of some instruments or voices which sometimes emerge oddly from the
lot. But these spasms respond after all to their desire to introduce
almost experimental psychedelic music. Jazz impulses also come to
garnish the whole that is rather indefinable. Although they seem to
succeed to tighten their work, the fact remains that the Magnetic
Zeros have a messy sound still standing out as if we were listening
to a huge unstoppable jam. We must therefore have the ability to
enter their eclectic universe to truly appreciate Person A.
Issued without warning, untitled unmastered
contains eight demos that are only numbered and dated. From the
dates, we understand that most of this material was recorded during
the studio sessions for the excellent album
To Pimp a Butterfly released in
2015. With an album of such a strength, it’s not surprising that
"the remaining" is still as effective. But above all, the eight
tracks are linked together into a coherent whole, very pleasant to
listen. The music is accompanying beautifully Lamar’s lyrics dealing
primarily with extinction and survival. His hip hop sound is still
soft but catchy, and it seems to be inspired from jazz and soul on
many occasions. Vocally, he is supported at various times by
Bilal and Cee Lo Green. Even if Lamar introduces this
album as a CD of demos, the fact remains that he once again managed
a feat with a record of high quality. Kanye West perhaps
should learn from the humility of Kendrick Lamar instead of
promising the best album ever.
Formed in 2013, the young quartet from Montreal
releases its second album, Comfortable Scars. Lost Love offer
a melodic pop punk sound that goes straight to the point. The 11
catchy songs talk about the importance of making peace, to find
comfort and painful moments of the past. In fact, they talk about
topics of their generation, which has nothing to do with the
claimant punk of another era. With less than 32 minutes,
Comfortable Scars certainly manages to make you have fun,
without much effort.
Kevin Morby was first known as a member of two
Brooklyn bands, The Babies and Woods. Now based in Los
Angeles, he worked in solo since 2013. Singing Saw is his
third album and Morby is increasing the scope of his sound with the
addition of keyboards, trumpet and electronics. This is still
alternative rock music by a songwriter with a unique voice.
Otherwise, his music takes on another dimension here, pleasantly
gaining wealth. This new sound allows us to appreciate even more the
quality of Kevin Morby’s compositions. It's like he is going to
another level. Here is a unique album, which is likely to be among
the best of the year.
Motel Raphaël is a female indie pop trio from
Montreal that was formed in 2012. They are advantageously compared
with Tegan and Sara, Feist and Arcade Fire.
After a first rather folk album, Motel Raphaël takes a completely
new direction on System with more complex compositions. The
14 songs are finely linked together to form a coherent whole that is
so nice to listen to. Their tasty vocal harmonies add to the whole
which is particularly exciting. Here is an excellent album by a band
that we have not heard the last!
Canadian David Myles represents certainly one of
the best mixes of pop, folk and soul, somewhere between Justin
Timberlake and James Taylor. With the Here Now EP,
he moved more than ever in the pop world with six catchy songs with
unforgettable melodies. He collaborated again with Classified
for the production of the album, in addition to delivering a verse
on the touching "Don’t Leave It Up To Me". This excellent record
comes to us to make us wait while a French album should be released
in spring 2017.
The indie band from Brooklyn, New York is back
with their third album, Human Performance. After many weird
recordings, especially for the
Monastic Living EP, Parquet Courts are back with a better
focus. This results possibly in their most cohesive album to date.
Great riffs and rhythms even succeed in making us stomp through an
atmosphere that remains highly exploratory. This is the case with
"One Man No City" that incorporates rhythmic bongos in a long jam of
more than 6 minutes. However, they are usually limited to short
songs including several below three minutes. They even include some
moments of rock 'n' roll that are particularly captivating. This is
a key album for Parquet Courts, an album that is likely to be among
the best of the year. The group is certainly one of the most
creative American bands at the moment, and they will also succeed in
expanding their audience with Human Performance. A great and
The youngest son of Motown’s founder, Berry
Gordy Jr., releases his first solo album after the monster
success of his band, LMFAO. Otherwise, the differences are
quite rare when you can hear the same music style for party with
danceable beats and ridiculous lyrics ("Booty Man", "Juicy Wiggle").
There are a few unavoidable songs that may be as successful as
"Party Rock Anthem", "Champagne Showers" and "Sexy and I Know It" by
LMFAO. This is the case among others for "Keep Shining", "Party
Train" and of course the inevitable "Juicy Wiggle". But the album
proves to be somewhat uneven and does not always provide the same
level of pleasure. Fortunately, there is still "Juicy Wiggle" to
make us smile...
Sainte Rose is an indie rock band from Quebec having
a second EP out after
Bloodlines EP in spring 2015. This is the second part of a
trilogy. Sweet Talk EP contains four songs and each will have
its music video. One can already discover the one for "Wounded"
which looks more like a short film than a music video. Sainte Rose
includes Marc Gebrayel and two pairs of brothers: Joey
and Mikey Berlangieri, as well as Corey and Bryan
Blondi. Wishing to retain complete control over their music,
they refused some offers and recorded this record in their own
studio. Their music borrows enormously to pop rock with very
efficient melodies and good rhythms.
Radius came four
years after his debut album, in the spring of 2015. A year later, a
new edition is issued with six new songs and a bonus alternate
version of the hit "Freedom". Allen Stone offers soul music
including pop rock and a few traces of blues. Even if he does have
soul in him, Stone goes a little bit too much in different
directions with moments that almost reach Maroon 5. And the
bonus songs do not help this fragmentation which is now on 21 tracks
totaling nearly 74 minutes. Allen Stone has a great talent of
performer, but he still failed to operate correctly in a style
resembling a little too much to Bruno Mars.
The Montreal indie rock band celebrates its 10th
anniversary this year and it is the opportunity to offer their third
album (excluding the one with Jerusalem in My Heart issued
last year). Suuns traveled to Dallas to record Hold/Still with
producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans).
The arrangements remain minimal, but they succeed every time to
mesmerize us. The group goes a little more into electronic music
with almost industrial moments ("Resistance"). Their heavy electro
beats may also recall PJ Harvey on occasions. If the first
half of the album manages to captivate us, the second otherwise
stretches somewhat long, especially with "Careful", lasting 7
endless minutes. Fortunately, the CD ends up nicely with the concise
and effective "Infinity", perfect to make us want to listen to the
album again, which will allow us to better appreciate it.
In 2009, Madcaps’ singer, Frédéric
Pellerin (aka Rico), momentarily left the band to start the solo
project They Call Me Rico. Two studio albums and a live album later,
he returns with This Time. He pursues his exploration of
blues and folk, his first love. He signed 10 new songs, lyrics and
music, and he started a rock turning point. The album was recorded
in analog and essentially live in two studios of the suburbs of
Lyon, including his newest studio, Magneto. The man band surrounds
for the occasion of Quebec and French musicians like Dominic
"Rock" Laroche (Voivod), Nicolas Grimard (Caiman
Fu) and violinist and keyboardist from Lyon Charlie Glad.
The mastering was done in London by Ray Staff (Muse,
The result is a blues rock sound rather dirty and extremely
effective, a sound both contemporary and garage.
Here is the 10th album in the career for Weezer,
the fourth simply identified by a color. We have to face the fact
that despite some great records, the blue, green and red albums
stand out in their now impressive discography. White must now be
added to the list. The band brought a breath of fresh air in 2014
Everything Will Be Alright in the End,
but could again renew with very good experiments. The strength of
Rivers Cuomo and his band is to successfully experiment while
remaining accessible and entertaining. Unforgettable melodies and
carrying rhythms reach the goal again, all in a short set of 10
tracks totaling 34 minutes.
Born To Be Blue
is a film by Robert Budreau whose main character is legendary
jazz singer and trumpeter Chet Baker (played by Ethan
Hawke). Unfortunately, no original music by Baker was used in
the film (maybe for copyright reasons?). It’s rather Canadians
David Braid (piano) and Kevin Turcotte (trumpet) who play
jazz standards associated to Baker, and in a style that is apparent.
Many of the pieces presented are interpreted in a short version of
just over two minutes, which is not really a tribute to the original
work and that only serves the movie. In addition to the covers of
standards, there are some new compositions by Braid and original
songs by Charles Mingus ("Haitian Fight Song") and Odetta
("Go Down Sunshine"). But the most surprising part is to hear Ethan
Hawke sing two songs, including the highly successful "My Funny
Valentine", the one that is most associated with Baker. As it is
often the case with movie soundtracks, music serves only to
accompany the film and provides little value by itself. Playing the
old records of Chet Baker remains by far the best option.
God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
Blind Willie Johnson is a singer and guitarist from
Texas who lived between 1897 and 1945. He was proposing a mix of
blues and gospel with a rare intensity. On this tribute, producer
Jeffrey Gaskill has assembled leading musicians from the folk,
country and blues. Even Sinéad O'Connor comes to offer an
emotional version of "Trouble Will Soon Be Over". Other performers
include Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies,
Luther Dickinson, Maria McKee and Rickie Lee Jones.
Often covered by artists like
Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan,
Blind Willie Johnson influenced a whole generation of musicians. You
can hear it on this album that goes well beyond the tribute.
The compilation produced by Dave Cobb
wants to be a cry from the heart for southern music looking further.
It includes contemporary country artists exhibiting folk elements
and Americana. Although the influences of the past remain very
present, they seem to want more than ever to prove that this music
will remain alive in the future by subtly breaking some conventions.
The idea to refresh the sound of another era is interesting but may
cringe. Among the artists included on the album, you can hear
John Paul White, Jason Isbell, Brent Cobb,
Miranda Lambert, Morgan and Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown,
Shooter Jennings and Rich Robinson. This is an
interesting and pleasant album to listen to, but it is not clear who
this is for.
Five years after
Get Your Heart On!, the Montreal band
issues their fifth studio album. After more pop getaways, Simple
Plan return with their rock sound trending to pop punk, always in a
sweet and fun atmosphere. The songs are generally energetic, and
even when the band slows the pace, the pieces retain their
relevance. The band admits to having kept the best 14 compositions
from dozens and dozens of songs and it is easy to believe because it
is their best assembly of songs since their sensational debut in
2002. You can hear several guest artists as Jordan Pundik of
New found Glory and Nelly (for the instant hit in the
Maroon 5 style "I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed", we can also find a
second time as a bonus in a French version). Taking One For the
Team has several highlights ("Opinion Overload", "Everything
Sucks", "I Dream About You" in a duet with Juliet Simms), but
that's the whole CD that impresses by its constancy, a feat Simple
Plan has not been often successful in recent years. Here is an
effective pop punk album that draws the best of the genre while
being forward looking. A great entertainment!
(March 2016 Featured Review)
BrianJamesSledge(alias BJtheChicagoKid)has movedfrom Chicago to Los
of 19to start his
career as agospel
singer.After working withStevie Wonderanddifferentgospeland R&Bartists,
he finally releaseshis
first album, 10 yearsafter his debut. In My
Mindcontains severalsingleshe haspreviously issued for a
totalof 15 tracks
and more than62 minutes.BJoffers contemporaryR&Bmusicwith hugeinfluencesofclassic souland gospel. We also finda fewtracesofhip hop.This is an excellent
albumofR&Bthat BJtheChicagoKid offers us,a rich, creative and
comprehensive album that contains onlyvery fewweaknesses.It isperhapsjusta little too long,
since it is possibleto
lose interest, especially if one is notamong thebiggest fans ofR&B. (March
2016 Featured New Artist)
After nine albums, the Swedish metal band Amon
Amarth finally releases a first concept album. Jomsviking
tells the story of a brigand who got expelled from his village after
having "accidentally" disposed of the man who was to marry the woman
he loved. We follow his quest to win back his love. The vikings
offer an excellent mix of death metal and guitar harmonies like
Iron Maiden. Some riffs are particularly effective, as in
"Wanderer" for example. Few tracks will leave you indifferent on
this album that contains everything we loved from the band for
twenty years (speed, heaviness, precision, virtuosity).
Jomsviking is an excellent melodic metal album, certainly one of
the best in the career of Amon Amarth.
On her new album, Betty Bonifassi pursues her
exploration of the work of Alan Lomax reviving eight songs of
African slaves deported to America. She offers new versions of three
songs from her first album released in fall 2014, which leaves only
five new tracks. With a total of 31 minutes, Lomax looks
therefore more like an EP than a full-length album. Musically, Betty
goes a little more in pure blues with elements of rock, which
enriches the traditional songs. Also noteworthy is the significant
presence of female choir Les Marjo's giving a special color
to the album. Lomax wants to be an ideal companion to her
first album. Otherwise, it lacks some tracks to successfully truly
After having inflatedthebluesbars inChicagoand having becomeanational staratChicagoBluesFestivalin 2015,ToronzoCannonis ready toconquer the
he presents11original songsandhe gives credit tothe
new generation ofbluesmenfromthe Windy City.
He offersbluesinthe styleofChicagoin which heshowsall his virtuosity.
Without revolutionizingthe genre,ToronzoCannonmanaged topursue the
traditionin a great way with TheChicagoWay.
For fansof the genre,bluesis still alive and
The former member of the Backstreet Boys,
the youngest of the group, releases his third solo album, two years
after his tandem with Jordan Knight. He offers melodic pop
music, sometimes energetic, with elements of rock. The first track,
"19 in 99", sounds like Simple Plan in their most accessible
times. Then, on "Get Over Me", Avril Lavigne sings with him,
when he reminds us of new wave in the style of the Gogo's in
"Tijuana". Carter even tries to reggae in "Second Wind". Very often
on the CD the envelope added seems superfluous and above all cheap.
"Swet" gives the best example of it with cheap synths and brass that
are suffocating in the back. After the few catchy tracks over,
Carter seems to have nothing more interesting to offer us. The good
surprise did not last long!
The Australian band that mixes rock and reggae music
is back with its seventh album.
Recorded in Melbourne with producer Jan Skubiszewski (Jon
Butler Trio), Rising With the Sun pursues in the
atmosphere created by the group on its tour of the biggest
The Cat Empire have indeed played in front of more than 500,000
people during their last world tour, including a significant
presence at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and a sold-out
concert at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London.
The band therefore has once again effective rhythms and perfect
melodies to sing in chorus in a crowd of several thousand people.
World beats come again to add richness to the pop rock songs of the
band, along with a significant presence of brass.
The songs were quickly created in the studio from simple ideas or
This therefore results in a greatly refreshing spontaneity to very
pleasant music to listen to, to be discovered on stage.
Note also that the cover was created by Australian artist Aaron
The Brazilian female singer releases her fourth
album with Tropix. She still extends a little more her
musical horizons with the incorporation of electro to her Brazilian
music, allowing her at the same time to pursue her evolvement.
Despite the use of synthesizers, the music of Céu remains warm,
perfect music for a late night cozy atmosphere. There are many nods
to the past with references to disco and new wave, but always with
an eye to the future. Céu signs 11 of the 12 songs on the record,
the twelfth being a cover of Fellini’s "Chico Buarque Song",
an obscure Brazilian band. Again Céu manages to seduce us. An
Dan SanisaBelgianindiefolk bandthatreturns with asecondalbuma little moreethereal. After aquestioning period, the
back strongly.They trustedthis timeYannArnaud (Air,
Phoenix, Syd Matters)
whichwas seducedby the projectand wanted
preferreda live recording in the
studio tocapture theemotionand essence oftheir music.Also notethe arrival of
multi-instrumentalistOlivierMarguerit who givesa new lightto the songsby addingsynthetic
sounds. This therefore results ina lessfolkand more contemporaryalbumthat blendsacoustic instruments and
synthesizers.Without alteringtheir early influences, the band
reallygoes to anotherlevel andapproacha little morethe styleofPatrickWatsonfor example.
A year and a half ago, the Quebec rap group issued
their first album,
Montréal $ud, which allowed them to
get a critical and popular success in Quebec, in addition to going
on tour in France. Now to the forefront of the Quebec rap scene, the
Dead Obies are back with a new album with an unpronounceable title
which is tailor made for the stage. In fact, part of the 81-minute
album was recorded live at a series of three sold-out concerts at
the Phi Centre in Montreal. The band resumes to mix styles, both
vocally (joual, slang, Creole, French and English) and musically
(hip hop, soul, R&B and electro). They still explore new avenues
with powerful bass and ethereal synthesizers for music of vaporous
atmosphere that is felt more than it is heard. This is a very good
album that offer the Dead Obies, a creative and varied album. Its
only problem is that it is too long and could be synthesized to make
it more consistent. Fans from the debut will surely appreciate
Angel Forrest has a career of already 27 years
and she comes to us now with her 10th album. For the occasion, she
paid tribute to 11 guitarists allowing them to play each on one of
the 11 songs on this record. They include Rob MacDonald,
Ricky Paquette, Paul Deslauriers, Steve Hill,
Adam Karch, and several other great Canadian blues rock
guitarists. Although she gives room to each of the guitarists, Angel
dominates them all with her powerful and gravelly voice, which is
immediately recognizable. Angel's 11 contains mostly blues at
the base, but with a mix of rock and jazz that makes it varied and
complete. It lacks only some compositions a little more prominent to
make a great album of blues, considering the quality of the
The Quebec virtuoso guitarist is back with his
Solo Recordings Volume 3.
He is again offering powerful blues rock, to the limits of hard rock
on several occasions.
More importantly, he continues to play the one-man band playing
everything by himself.
He must be seen alone on stage with his guitar and his drums to
discover the immensity of his talent.
Although he has several songs that quite move, Hill also has some
more melodic tracks on acoustic bases ("Slowly Slipping Away",
"Troubled Times" and "Emily").
He also reinvented three songs among the 12 tracks of the album:
"Still a Fool & a Rollin Stone", "Rollin & Tumblin / Stop Breaking
Down" and "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad".
With Solo Recordings Volume 3, Steve Hill presents perhaps
his best album to date, a diverse but cohesive album to the end that
perfectly highlights the virtuosity of this amazing guitarist.
TheJamesHunterSix is aBritish soulband aroundJamesHunter.For theirfourthalbum, the
first for Daptone
Recording,they decidedto go toCaliforniaand record10 songsdirectly toan 8-track.
The result isa mono
morethe atmosphereof the 1950s which isat
music of thesextet.
Nostalgia isdecidedlyat the rendezvous, but
the varietyin compositionsimpressesgreatlyeven thoughthere are
only30 minutesofmusic. Soulis blendedwithelementsofR&B, funk andMotownfor a richsoundfrom another era.
Hold On!isa customalbumfor nostalgic fans.
On his fifth album, the
Montreal singer has a pair of songs in French among the 13 tracks
offered, including the strong first single, "Montreal". For the
record, Ian Kelly had been stolen from his album while it was on a
hard drive in his car. Fortunately, it could be recovered and it is
now released. SuperFolk pursues in the same acoustic style to
which he has accustomed us, usually on guitar, but sometimes on
piano. You can hear many unforgettable melodies, performed with the
solidity that surprises us every time. We do not listen to the songs
of Ian Kelly, we live them! He is again right on target with
SuperFolk and let’s bet he will still create quite a stir in the
The Boston metal band is back after the
disappointing reunion with singer Jesse Leach for the
Disarm the Descent album in 2013.
The album still managed to get his share of success, but now the
expectations are huge regarding Incarnate. The group does not
lose its hardcore fury, but it makes more inroads into melodic death
metal and progressive metal. So they manage to somewhat reinvent
themselves, all in a magnificent production. As the voice of Leach
and guitars, everything is clear and in its place for a sound that
reminds us the best of Pantera in the 1990s. It is perhaps
only a little too clean for metalcore fans, but you can listen to it
really easily. Killswitch Engage therefore propose an album with
greatly effective melodies enhanced by flawless execution. Without
returning to the greatest years of the band, Incarnate
succeeds where the previous record failed: presenting a united group
The Knocks is a New York duo formed in 2008 and
composed of James "JPatt" Patterson and Ben "DJ B-Roc"
Ruttner. The duo first produced remixes for Katy Perry
("I Kissed a Girl"), Britney Spears ("3") and Chris Brown
("Beautiful People") before releasing EPs. The DJs and producers now
issue their first album including rather soft pop / house dance
music taking into soul, funk, disco and rap. The 15 tracks on 55
include several songs previously released as singles or on their
EPs. So we feel to discover a collection of greatest hits
("Classic", "Dancing With Myself", "Collect My Love", "I Wish (My
Taylor Swift)"). Yet, all stands fairly well and is still listening
as an album. We hear many guests as Cam'Ron, Powers,
Fetty Wap, Wyclef Jean, X Ambassadors,
Matthew Koma, Alex Newell (Glee), Justin
Tranter (Semi Precious Weapons), Walk the Moon,
Carly Rae Jepsen, etc. In the dance music genre, this is a very
For his sixth album, Ray Lamontagne still wanted to
mix things up by bringing aboard Jim James (My Morning
Jacket) as co-producer. He retains the fuzzy blues guitar
brought previously by Dan Auerbach, but he goes more than
ever in old English psychedelic rock, somewhere between Cream
and Pink Floyd.
Comparisons with Van Morrison can permanently disappear when
there is nothing more soul in the voice of the American on
Ouroboros. He offers a rather old dirty rock sound with complex
experimental requiring a lot of patience to actually understand it.
Ouroboros is an ambitious record, but not fully mastered.