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DECEMBER 2014

 

FEATURED REVIEW:  Taylor Swift    FEATURED NEW ARTIST:  Leighton Meester

 

HOLIDAY ATMOSPHERES (more to come):

GOSPEL: Jireh Gospel Choir / CLASSICAL: Dunnigan / JAZZ: Alex Pangman - James Farm - Baptiste Trotignon / HOUSE: David Guetta - Knife Party - Robin Schulz

 

GIFT IDEAS:

The Flaming Lips - Bryan Adams - Led Zeppelin - James Blunt - Billy Talent - Bran Van 3000 - Spandau Ballet - The Specials - Zac Brown Band - Dan Desnoyers - Gary Clark Jr. - Peter, Paul and Mary - The Miles Davis Quintet - Coldplay (DVD) - Morrissey (DVD) - Devo (DVD) - Jack Bruce (DVD)

PREVIOUS REVIEWS: Elton John - Bachman-Turner Overdrive - Roch Voisine - Rufus Wainwright - Frank Sinatra - Loreena McKennitt - My Chemical Romance - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

IN BRIEF: Jason Derulo - David Bowie - The Who - Queen - Whitney Houston - Asia - Country Hits 2015 - 80's Mix

 

DECEMBER 1-7:

Foo Fighters - Little Big Town - Kiesza - Echosmith - Moist - Billy Idol - Annie Lennox - Guy Bélanger - Sex Pistols (DVD)

 

Reviews coming up next month:

Pitbull - One Direction - Pink Floyd - Nickelback - Selena Gomez - Neil Young - Damien Rice - Arca - Lisa Leblanc

and much more...

 

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CHRISTMAS SPECIAL EDITION:

Blue Rodeo - David Myles - Idina Menzel - Peter Furler - Measha Brueggergosman - Chic Gamine - Christmas at Downton Abbey

IN BRIEF: Darius Rucker - Liona Boyd - Renée Fleming - Paolo Fresu Quintet - Marie-Josée Lord - LeAnn Rimes - Michael Feinstein - Just the Christmas Hits - Ellen's, The Only Holiday Album You'll Ever Need, Volume 1 - Motown Christmas - An Americana Christmas - French Christmas - Ragnarok Juletide

 

NOVEMBER 15-21:

Nico & Vinz - Sixx: A.M. - Caribou - Iceage

 

NOVEMBER 1-8:

U2 - Ex Hex - Leonard Cohen - Lenny Kravitz - Prince - Weezer - Melissa Etheridge - Jennifer Hudson - Matt Laurent - A*Star - Bryan Adams - Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

 

OCTOBER - SEPTEMBER - AUGUST - JULY - JUNE - MAY - APRIL - MARCH - FEBRUARY

 

 

       

       

     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Taylor Swift – 1989

Taylor Swift1989

The young American country pop female singer had taken a turn a little more pop on her Red album in 2012, but this time it's headlong that she goes into pop music leaving behind all her fans of the early years. Max Martin and Shellback still work a little more to the record, with only one track, "This Love", was written by Taylor by herself. Other collaborators include Ryan Tedder (OneRepublic), Jack Antonoff (fun.) and Imogen Heap. As long as you provide a pop album, why to do it halfway? Taylor offers us a large-scale production, which was certainly inspired by the 1980s pop, but uses all the technologies of 2014. The infectious rhythms will make you tap your feet, even if it does not act necessarily as custom music for the dance floors. In fact, 1989 mainly presents a series of unforgettable pop melodies, almost all potential radio hits. The only problem is that with a pure pop record, Taylor dangerously adventures in a territory that is already too busy. She had earlier this distinctive and unique element, her country influences that could surprise for a girl of that so young age. She now becomes a pop singer among others, her only distinctive point being that she has a rare maturity for a celebrity of her age, allowing her to remain in complete control of her career.

Music Videos: « Shake It Off » - « Blank Space »

Universal

  YouTube       

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Leighton Meester – Heartstrings

Leighton MeesterHeartstrings

Leighton Meester is a pop female singer from Texas who manages to deliver excellent melodies with her beautiful voice. She first started as an actress before collaborating with Cobra Starship for "Good Girls Go Bad" and Robin Thicke. On this first album, she offers an adult alternative sound that is extremely pleasant to the ear, music of great maturity. The beautiful orchestrations perfectly accompany the voice of Leighton, and rich arrangements contribute to promote her talent. In fact, the main negative element of Heartstrings is to be too short with only 9 songs totalling 32 minutes. It makes us want to repeat it in loops so it is soothing. Here is a very nice surprise!

Music Video: « Heartstrings »

Vagrant / Universal

½

 

HOLIDAY ATMOSPHERES - HOUSE:

 

 Robin Schulz – Prayer

Robin SchulzPrayer

The German DJ and producer first became famous by making remixes of popular songs like Mr. Probz’s "Waves" and Lilly Wood & The Prick’s "Prayer in C". It is therefore not very surprising that his first album contains mainly remixes. In addition to those named above, you can hear Lykke Li’s "No Rest For the Wicked", Clean Bandit’s "Rather Be", Coldplay’s "A Sky Full of Stars", and many others. There are also a handful of originals among the 20 tracks that make up the 67-minute album. The particularity of Robin Schulz is that he provides rather melodic and soft house music, although still very danceable. Prayer is a very pleasant album to listen to, not just on the dance floors. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « Waves » (Mr. Probz) « Prayer in C » (Lilly Wood & The Prick) « Willst Du » (Alligatoah) « Sun Goes Down » (Jasmine Thompson)

Tonspiel / Warner

½

 

GIFT IDEAS:

 

 The Flaming Lips – With a Little Help From My Fwends

The Flaming LipsWith a Little Help From My Fwends

It's with all the creativity we know from them that the guys of the Flaming Lips have decided to revisit the best album in history, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. If the original album already had his psychedelic side, it takes on another dimension here with the experiments of the Flaming Lips. The group is exploring different sounds and is mixing all kinds of variations of styles and beats in a sometimes cacophonous ensemble, but certainly creative. The band is accompanied by many guest artists: My Morning Jacket, J. Mascis, Miley Cyrus, Moby, Dr. Dog, Tegan and Sara, Foxygen and many others. With a Little Help From My Fwends presents a kind of deconstruction of this great album in history. The most ardent fans of the Beatles will perhaps think it is a blasphemous exercise. Otherwise, the quality of the musical explorations by the Flaming Lips gives pretty much justice to the original work.

Warner

½

 Bryan Adams – Reckless (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2 CD)

Bryan AdamsReckless (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2 CD)

For the 30th anniversary of the excellent album Reckless by Bryan Adams, it was reissued in its original version, with the famous hits "Run to You", "Heaven", "Somebody", "It's Only Love" (a duet with Tina Turner) and the classic "Summer of '69". But it is the deluxe version of 2 CDs that is the most interesting. We can find 7 bonus songs from the album recording sessions, including the title track. The second CD offers an April 1985 concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London for BBC Radio 1. Other versions of the album are also available: a version with audio Blu-ray, a version of two LPs and the ultimate version of 2 CDs + DVD + audio Blu-ray. Here is a piece of anthology for any fan of Bryan Adams who grew up to the sound of his music in the 1980s.

Music Video: « Summer of ‘69 »

A&M / Universal

½

 Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV (1971) (2014 Remastered Version)

Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV (1971) (2014 Remastered Version)

Two years after their debut in 1969, the English quartet already issued their fourth album simply titled Led Zeppelin IV. Slightly less blues than the previous ones, it would set the hard rock sound of the 1970s, with of course the famous "Rock and Roll", but also "Black Dog" and "When the Levee Breaks". The album contained another monumental piece in the repertoire of Led Zeppelin, the epic "Stairway To Heaven". The masterpiece of 8 minutes is not only the most famous song of the band, but also one of the most played because of its remarkable guitar riffs and solos. The album contains 8 classic tracks, making it one of the greatest records of all time. It is now reissued in a version remastered and produced by Jimmy Page, as it is also the case for Houses of the Holy originally released in 1973. Other versions are also available for Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy.

Atlantic / Warner

 James Blunt – Moon Landing - Apollo Edition (CD + DVD)

James BluntMoon Landing - Apollo Edition (CD + DVD)

A year after the release of Moon Landing, the fourth album by James Blunt, here is offered an enhanced version. Eight tracks have been added to the original album, plus a DVD with a concert recorded at the Paleo Festival Nyon, the biggest musical event in Switzerland. Read the album review of December 2013.

Music Video: « Bonfire Heart »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Billy Talent – Hits

Billy TalentHits

Eleven years after the release of their debut album, it is now the time to make a summary of the career of Billy Talent. The four albums of the Toronto band are introduced in this compilation with excerpts from each, arranged chronologically. There are 12 in all, plus 2 new pieces, "Kingdom of Zod" and "Chasing the Sun". Some additional tracks would have been nice, especially from their first album, which contained several essential songs for the group. Another annoying detail: the booklet does not contain any information about the band, their albums, and so on, information always useful and interesting when we have in hand a recap of a 10-year career. Still, this is a very good compilation we can listen to with great pleasure. A version with DVD is also available.

Music Video: « Kingdom of Zod »

Warner

 Bran Van 3000 – Greatest Hits

Bran Van 3000Greatest Hits

The Montreal collective led by James DiSalvio issued 5 albums since its debut in 1997. This compilation is a retrospective of the best of their career with 18 tracks totalling 77 minutes. It includes of course the inevitable "Drinking in L.A." and "Astounded" (with sampling of Curtis Mayfield), but also "Couch Surfing", "Grace", "Loaded" (with Big Daddy Kane), "Go Shoppin" (with Eek-A-Mouse), "Montréal" (with Youssou N'Dour), "Everywhere" and "Afrodiziak". At the very end of the CD, you can hear their new stripped down version of "Drinking in L.A." recorded for the compilation Trente (Thirty) summarizing the 30 years of the Audiogram label. Unfortunately, the song order is random and the CD contains no booklet. It still is a great compilation for the innovative electro-pop group.

Music Videos: « Drinking in L.A. » - « Astounded »

Audiogram

 Spandau Ballet – The Story: The Very Best of Spandau Ballet

Spandau BalletThe Story: The Very Best of Spandau Ballet

While the new wave band from London has mostly been successful in the 1980s, they remain on the scene 35 years later. Here is a good reason to release an album doing a retrospective of their career. In fact, there is little difference from the Gold collection issued in 2001, the main addition being the single "Once More" from their album of the same title back in 2009. As a bonus, this anthology includes three new songs including the single "This Is the Love". They complement perfectly the CD of more than 80 minutes with 19 tracks. In addition, everything is in a chronological order for an excellent collection.

Music Video: « True »

Chrysalis / Warner

½

 The Specials – The Best of the Specials

The SpecialsThe Best of the Specials

The English ska band may have only released three studio albums between 1979 and 1984, but it still made several notable songs. We can find 20 of these on this comprehensive compilation of the band's career. Presented chronologically, the tracks cover the three albums. Among the must, include the excellent "A Message To You Rudy", "Gangsters", "Nite Klub" and "Concrete Jungle". We can hear a live song, "Too Much Too Young". This collection was already issued in the UK in 2008, but it is finally available in America.

Chrysalis / Warner

 Zac Brown Band – Greatest Hits So Far...

Zac Brown BandGreatest Hits So Far...

After only three studio albums widely distributed, the contemporary country band already has a collection of its best songs. It actually contains 14 single the group has issued between 2008 and 2013. Of these, no less than 8 reached number 1 on the Billboard country charts: "Chicken Fried", "Toes", "Free", "Highway 20 Ride", "As She's Walking Away", "Colder Weather", "Knee Deep" and "Keep in Mind". Most of the others have meanwhile reached the top 10. While a compilation could seem too hasty in the case of the Zac Brown Band, it has enough quality material to satisfy any country fan.

No Reserve / Atlantic / Warner

 Dan Desnoyers – In Da House 2015

Dan DesnoyersIn Da House 2015

Here's a new house collection from the prolific Quebec DJ. In this 2015 edition, he offers some Latin sparks, but he remains mostly well anchored in house music and somewhat more progressive techno. We must be almost a specialist in this kind of music to know the songs offered as he downright goes into underground house music with all the aplomb that we know from him. Among the most interesting pieces included, there are "Mama Yo!" by Mayra Veronica, "Bump & Grind 2014" by Waze, Odyssey and R. Kelley, "3 Percent" by Kronic & Krunk and "Payback" by Dimitri Vangelis, Wyman & Steve Angello. As usual, there is a composition of his own, "Unbreakable". Again, D-Noy offers us a constant mix of dance music for 63 minutes. The main problem is that many songs can leave the audience indifferent, as long as it does not end up in the context of an electrifying dance floor.

Megamix

D-Noy / Sony

 Gary Clark Jr. – Live (2 CD)

Gary Clark Jr.Live (2 CD)

The Texas guitar virtuoso got considerable success with his album Blak and Blu in 2012. He now has a double live album containing 15 tracks of his best pieces and blues classics. Even if you cannot help but compare him to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark remains perfectly representative of the new generation of bluesmen. Here is a live album of 96 minutes including quite exciting moments.

Warner

½

 Peter, Paul and Mary – Discovered: Live in Concert

Peter, Paul and Mary Discovered: Live in Concert

The folk trio began recording all of his concerts in 1980 in order to have a look at their effectiveness on stage. When they went into all of their material in 2004 in order to select the songs to be included in a box set, they found great recordings, with a wonderful sound quality. Discovered: Live in Concert contains 13 of these rare live recordings of which only one appeared on record, "Mi Caballo Blanco". The CD allows us to rediscover the effectiveness of the vocal harmonies of the trio.

Rhino / Warner

 The Miles Davis Quintet – All of You: The Last Tour 1960 (4 CD)

The Miles Davis Quintet – All of You: The Last Tour 1960 (4 CD)

After 5 years of partnership, John Coltrane and Miles Davis would make one last tour together in 1960. This 4-CD set presents live recordings from the tour in Europe. Trumpeter and saxophonist were often playing twice a night at that time, so we could see them constantly evolve in their play. The recordings found on these CDs have been cleaned and remastered to faithfully reproduce these performances dating back to 54 years. The result is nearly 5 hours of music, interrupted only by a backstage interview with John Coltrane. The main disadvantage of these many recordings is that the same pieces can be heard several times. Otherwise, since you will not listen to all at once anyway, it is less problematic. The 4 CDs are accompanied by a beautiful detailed 36-page booklet in which author and tenor saxophonist Simon Spillett gives a detailed technical commentary on the performances and solos. Very interesting and a must for any fan of jazz!

Acrobat / MVD

Coldplay – Ghost Stories – Live 2014 (DVD + CD)

ColdplayGhost Stories – Live 2014 (DVD + CD)

Only a few months after the release of Ghost Stories, Coldplay issues a DVD with live recordings of the 9 songs of the album. They were captured in London, Sydney, Paris, New York, Cologne and Los Angeles. Because of the DVD quality production, the CD that accompanies it becomes rather not useful. As long as you listen to the same 9 songs, you are better to listen to the studio album. The strength of the DVD is its beautiful images. There are also many extras, including music videos and other live versions.

Parlophone / Warner

½

Morrissey – Introducing Morrissey (DVD)

Morrissey Introducing Morrissey (DVD)

Here is the DVD reissue of a concert originally released in 1996. The footage was captured over two nights at Sheffield's City Hall and the Winter Gardens in Blackpool during his 1995 U.K. tour. The 62-minute concert includes 15 of his best songs with excellent sound quality. Certain camera angles can be annoying, but they do not interfere too much with the quality of the show.

Reprise / Rhino / Warner

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Devo – The Men Who Make the Music (DVD)

DevoThe Men Who Make the Music (DVD)

On this DVD, you can see the band completely crazy in action with concert footage dating from 1978-79 and often surrealistic videos. The whole is interspersed with a film not much less crazy about their alleged rocky relationship with "Big Entertainment". As a bonus, you can discover Devo on stage in 1996 when they closed the Sundance Film Festival. They were wearing prisoner suits of the 1920s and presented old songs back to the early 1970s, even before they got a record deal. This DVD offers a good way to discover the new wave band if you are not familiar with their particular universe. Otherwise, do not forget to open your mind because conventional is completely absent during the 114 minutes of the DVD.

MVD

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Jack Bruce – The 50th Birthday Concerts (2 DVD)

Jack BruceThe 50th Birthday Concerts (2 DVD)

(review to come later)

MIG / MVD

½

Video Universe - Buy DVDs, TV on DVD, Music CDs, Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

 Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (3 CD)

Elton JohnGoodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (3 CD)

Released in 1973, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is undoubtedly the masterpiece in the career of Elton John. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the album is reissued in a remastered version with 2 additional CDs. One contains new versions of some songs by contemporary artists such as Ed Sheeran, Miguel, Hunter Hayes, The Band Perry, Fall Out Boy, Zac Brown Band, and others. The last CD has meanwhile live recordings from Hammersmith Odeon in December 1973. Despite these interesting additions, the centerpiece remains the 17-track album including the classic hits "Candle in the Wind", "Bennie and the Jets", "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", the title track and the excellent 11-minute introduction "Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)". A version of 4 CDs with a DVD and a book is also available. (May 2014)

Mercury / Universal

½

 Bachman-Turner Overdrive – Not Fragile: 40th Anniversary Edition (2 CD)

Bachman-Turner OverdriveNot Fragile: 40th Anniversary Edition (2 CD)

Forty years ago, the Winnipeg band had a third album that would transform its career. Not only Not Fragile had most of their biggest hits in career ("Roll on Down the Highway", "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet", etc.), but it offered also the best collection of songs with 9 powerful tracks in perfect cohesion. Moreover, the set is beautifully interpreted, especially by Randy Bachman who is at the top on guitar. To mark the 40th anniversary of the release of the album, it is now reissued with a second bonus CD containing 8 songs recorded live. Here is a must to rediscover! (June 2014)

Universal

½

Roch Voisine – My Very Best

Roch VoisineMy Very Best

After more than 25 years of career, it's time for a collection of greatest hits in English for Roch Voisine. It includes the 12 most popular songs in the language of Shakespeare, plus four unreleased tracks. These new songs include the official anthem of the Canadian team in Sochi in English and French, "Living Out ​​My Dreams / Pour l’honneur" for which Voisine is accompanied by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano. We can also hear his own version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ "Under the Bridge" with Carlos Santana on guitar. Among his inevitable hits assembled here, there are of course "Kissing Rain" and "I'll Always Be There". (March 2014)

Music Videos: « I’ll Always Be There » - « Kissing Rain »

R.V. International / Sony

½

 Rufus Wainwright – Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright

Rufus WainwrightVibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright

After 15 years of career, it is now the time for a review for the songwriter and performer from Montreal based in New York. On Vibrate, one can find his 18 greatest hits to date. One can especially hear excerpts from his first five albums released between 1998 and 2007, plus two songs from his latest album, Out of the Game, issued in 2012. One can also find his excellent version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" which appeared on the soundtrack of Shrek, and discover a new song, "Me and Liza". Otherwise, it lacks "Across the Universe", his very good version of the Beatles’ classic. Even if the songs are not presented chronologically, the quality found makes ​​sure Vibrate is an excellent collection of the best songs of Rufus Wainwright. It will be appreciated as much by his fans than by a new audience who would like to find out his music. (April 2014)

Music Videos: « April Fools » - « Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk » - « The One You Love » - « Going to a Town »

Universal

 Frank Sinatra – Nothing But the Best

Frank SinatraNothing But the Best

Released in 2008 to celebrate the 10 years of the death of Frank Sinatra, Nothing But the Best is reissued for our greatest pleasure. It is unquestionably the best collection of hits ever released for the most famous crooner. It contains 21 essential hits with "The Way You Look Tonight", "Luck Be a Lady", "Fly Me to the Moon", "My Kind of Town", "Strangers in the Night", "Summer Wind", "It Was a Very Good Year", and "The Girl from Ipanema". You can also hear a previously unreleased recording of "Body and Soul" with the voice recorded in 1984, and 2007 arrangements. Though the compilation does not cover the entire career of the singer, focusing especially on the 1960s, there are still his most important hits. The only classic that is really lacking is "Love and Marriage". (May 2014)

Universal

 Loreena McKennitt – The Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennittThe Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt

For 30 years, the Canadian singer has remained rather independent, on the sidelines of the music industry. She is an unclassifiable singer who has always sailed between new age music, folk, Celtic and world music. This collection presents the 12 most successful songs by the artist to date, including "The Mummers' Dance", "The Mystic's Dream" and "The Bonny Swans". A deluxe version is also available, with a second CD entitled A Midsummer Night's Tour. This disc presents the top 9 performances of her concert of July 2012 in Mainz, Germany, the city where she recorded Troubadours on the Rhine, released in 2012. (March 2014)

Quinlan Road / Universal

½

 My Chemical Romance – May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013

My Chemical RomanceMay Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013

After 12 years of existence, the pop punk / emo band from New Jersey My Chemical Romance decided to split a little over a year ago. With May Death Never Stop You, they present somehow their musical testament. It includes their 15 greatest hits, from their four studio albums. The set is presented in chronological order to get a good idea of ​​the evolution of the group that was rather in rock opera for some time. Moreover, songs from their latest albums are surprisingly consistent in a compilation of this type. Only their first album, I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, may seem somewhat poorly represented with two tracks, but it is resumed at the end of the CD with 3 demos from the recording sessions of that first record. Before giving us the highlights of the band, we are presented with their last recorded song, "Fake Your Death". Are they not only feigning death by accident? They would not be the firsts to do so before returning triumphantly (talk to KISS, the masters of marketing!). Even fans of the band which already have all their albums will enjoy great satisfaction listening to this excellent collection that can be listened like a real album. (May 2014)

Music Videos: « Helena » - « The Ghost of You » - « Welcome to the Black Parade » - « Teenagers » - « Famous Last Words » - « Na Na Na » - « Sing » - « Planetary (GO!) » - « The Kids From Yesterday »

Reprise / Warner

 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – CSNY 1974

Crosby, Stills, Nash & YoungCSNY 1974

In 1974, the legendary folk rock quartet began a tour that would go down in history for its size. This album contains 16 selections from that tour for a total of 78 minutes. The tracks were recorded in a dozen concerts between Chicago, New York, San Francisco and London. There are obviously their biggest hits, but most of all the tracks offered are played strongly by the musicians. CSNY were at the peak of their art at that time, despite some internal differences. It was already planned to release a live album after the tour, but these recordings have remained well hidden for 40 years, until Graham Nash decided to offer them to us for their 40th anniversary. In addition to this single CD version, we also find a box of three CDs and a DVD. (August 2014)

Rhino / Warner

½

 

GIFT IDEAS IN BRIEF:

 

Jason Derulo – Tattoos

Jason DeruloTattoos

Here is a new edition of his album released in 2013, Tattoos. There are 4 additional songs with collaborators Snoop Dogg, Tyga and Kid Ink. See November 2013 review.

Warner

The Who – The Who Hits 50

The WhoThe Who Hits 50 (2 CD)

To mark the 50th anniversary of the band, here is a new greatest hits collection. It is available as a single CD (21 tracks) or two CDs (42 tracks).

Universal

Whitney Houston – Live: Her Greatest Performances

Whitney HoustonLive: Her Greatest Performances

Live recordings by the late diva dating from 1983 to 2009.

Asia – High Voltage

Asia High Voltage (Live) (DVD + CD)

Live record by the legendary progressive rock band.

Frontier / Universal

Country Hits 2015

Country Hits 2015

Collection of the greatest country hits of the last year.

Universal

80’s Mix (4 CD)

80’s Mix (4 CD)

Here is a four-CD collection doing a retrospective of the best electronic music of the 1980s. The 4 disks include not only the best of electro from that era (Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Human League, New Order, Soft Cell, Gary Numan), but also hip hop (Run DMC, Beastie Boys, NWA, Salt & Pepa, Sugarhill Gang), soul (Chaka Khan, Hall & Oates, Sister Sledge, Cameo) and house (Neneh Cherry, M/A/R/R/S, Frankie Knuckles).

 

DECEMBER 1-7:

 

 Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Foo FightersSonic Highways

It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have gone since the formation of the Foo Fighters. Yet Sonic Highways is already their 8th studio album since 1995. The album takes inspiration from the Sound City studio in Los Angeles and the greatest rock 'n' roll cities in America. They paid tribute to real arena rock 'n' roll, which swarmed in the 1980s. Even if the record includes only 8 songs, all of them are highly effective in remembering the good old days of hard rock of the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it is a pure rock album, as it is less done today. It's just a shame that at each song we have the feeling of having already heard it in the past. In conclusion, Sonic Highways gives us the desire to go listen to albums from our childhood instead of repeating it in loops. It is not unpleasant, but it definitely lacks creativity.

Music Video: « Something From Nothing »

RCA / Sony

 Little Big Town – Pain Killer

Little Big TownPain Killer

Compared for a long time to Fleetwood Mac, contemporary country band Little Big Town has managed to differentiate itself with the Tornado album in 2012. With Pain Killer, the band really takes off. The album has a greater than life production, but there is also risk taking when they leave their usual comfort and they dare to try new sounds. We can hear distorted guitars, electronic elements, a little bit of reggae and folk rock for three songs in conclusion of the CD. High quality compositions quickly become contagious and so it is quite easy to appreciate this new album. Pain Killer is definitely the best album by Little Big Town to date.

Music Video: « Day Drinking »

Capitol / Universal

½

 Kiesza – Sound of a Woman

KieszaSound of a Woman

The female singer from Calgary has become famous in recent months thanks to the hit "Hideaway" inspired by the 1990s. It is one of the few songs tending to house music on this first album that goes in all possible directions of pop music. One can even hear soft piano ballads which fortunately showcase her beautiful voice. Note her rather slow cover of "What Is Love?" by Haddaway, one of the biggest dance hits of the 1990s. We understand quickly that Kiesza influences come from the decade that has rocked her childhood. Otherwise, there is a dangerous lack of guideline on Sound of a Woman which goes too much in different directions, with in addition some frankly uninteresting tracks. This first record by Kiesza is unfortunately an album to listen by pieces.

Music Videos: « Hideaway » - « Giant in my Heart » - « No Enemiesz »

Island / Universal

 Echosmith – Talking Dreams

EchosmithTalking Dreams

Echosmith is a Los Angeles band formed in 2009 by the Sierota brothers and their younger sister Sydney as singer. Talking Dreams is their first album, first released in the fall of 2013 and now reissued with a new front cover. The quartet offers us an energetic pop rock sound strongly influenced by the dance rock of the 1980s. In this sense, one can compare them largely to the Killers and Paramore, but also to U2 for their guitar sounds and Fleetwood Mac for their vocal harmonies. The young band has a certain lightness, but has above all unforgettable melodies. So you can bet that with more experience they can offer us music with a little more substance while remaining as pleasant as it is.

Music Videos: « Come Together » - « Talking Dreams » - « Cool Kids »

Warner

 Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies

MoistGlory Under Dangerous Skies

Canadian rock band Moist was formed in Vancouver in 1992 and took advantage of the post-grunge wave to develop a horde of fans. After several years of separation during which singer David Usher has managed to get a nice solo career, the band is back to release a new album, its fourth. For this record, we can see many new faces: Jonathan Gallivan on guitar, Louis Lalancette on bass and Francis Fillion on drums. Produced by guitarist Mark Makoway, Glory Under Dangerous Skies follows the same path the group had left 15 years ago with a rather common rock sound, with no big surprises.

Universal

 Billy Idol – Kings & Queens of the Underground

Billy IdolKings & Queens of the Underground

The rocker from London issues his first album in nine years, only his second since Cyberpunk in 1993. This new album actually wants to be a companion to his autobiography. Otherwise, the songs of Kings & Queens of the Underground have nothing autobiographical. We obviously find traces of his past sound with some punk influences, but so integrated in the big pop machine it doesn’t remain authentic anymore. Idol still presents songs with electro arrangements, after having explored the genre a long time ago already. The main difference in this new album compared to the previous one is that the singer seems much calmer, more serene. He sings better than ever, even though it is easily suspect that there was substantial assistance by technology. After all, the enfant terrible is already approaching sixty years old. In conclusion, the main problem with this new CD by Billy Idol is an obvious lack of creativity. It is pleasant to listen to, but not for too long and above all, you retain very few things from it. "Postcards from the Past" and "Can’t Break Me Down" are certainly among the good ones on the CD, but not by their creativity. Rather because they remind us of what we liked about Billy Idol in the 1980s, which is unforgettable energetic rock songs.

Music Video: « Can’t Break Me Down »

½

 Annie Lennox – Nostalgia

Annie LennoxNostalgia

As the title of her new album says, Annie Lennox puts on nostalgia for us to embark into her world. She revisits indeed great jazz, pop and R&B standards. Although she remains a pop singer with an incomparable voice, she seems quite comfortable in a jazzy atmosphere, and for several years now. Whether interpreting in her own way "Georgia On My Mind", "I Put a Spell On You", "Summertime" and "Strange Fruit", she always manages to bring out the best of each song, offered all smoothly. In addition, she enjoys a leading production. With Nostalgia, Annie Lennox managed the feat to make us rediscover and appreciate classics often heard in all kinds of versions.

Blue Note / Universal

½

 Guy Bélanger – Blues Turn

Guy BélangerBlues Turn

For his new album, the harmonica player from Quebec City returns to his first love, blues, even if it incorporates influences of gospel, country and rock. For the record, Bélanger traveled from Montreal to Chicago via Toronto. He has worked with some of the best musicians in Chicago, in addition to have singer and guitarist Jimmy Johnson as a special guest. With Blues Turn, Quebec bluesman demonstrates that he has nothing to prove and he is one of the greatest instrumentalists and composers in the genre in the country.

Bros / SIX

½

The Sex Pistols – The Sex Pistols on TV (DVD)

The Sex PistolsThe Sex Pistols on TV (DVD)

This 2-hour DVD presents various interviews by the Sex Pistols through the years with Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Malcolm McClaren and Steve Jones at the microphone. They can be heard at their debut trying to defend the objectives of punk rock, and two years later to explain their split. It goes back on the circumstances surrounding the murder charges on Sid Vicious and his following death of a heroin overdose. Then, you can hear John Lydon talking about his new band in the 1980s, Public Image Limited, and his new interest in nature and the marine world. Very interesting in its first 30 minutes, the film becomes a bit less exciting later when the Sex Pistols as we know them are already from the past. As a bonus, you can see a 20-minute Sid Vicious documentary preview.

A2B / ITN / MVD

Video Universe - Buy DVDs, TV on DVD, Music CDs, Games for XBox, PlayStation 2 and Much More

 

CHRISTMAS SPECIAL EDITION:

 

 Blue Rodeo – A Merrie Christmas to You

Blue RodeoA Merrie Christmas to You

The Toronto band lends its country rock style to Christmas music fans. The 36-minute album recorded in a week contains some Christmas classics like the excellent "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "O Come All Ye Faithful", but also covers of Big Star, Merle Haggard and Paul Simon. The set alternates between ballads and little more rhythmic songs, but in all cases, these are songs that can be listened to throughout the year, not just during the Holiday season. Otherwise, the CD is somewhat uneven, despite some very good times.

Warner

 David Myles – It’s Christmas

David MylesIt’s Christmas

The singer and songwriter from the Maritimes releases a Christmas album in his own image, meaning this is rather varied. Effectively, he goes between pop, folk, bluegrass and jazz with a humor that is unique to him. He plays some of his favorite Christmas songs like "Let It Snow", "White Christmas" and "Silent Night", but he also allows himself to offer three original compositions: "Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo", "The Gift" and the title track. Here's a greatly entertaining album that will make your Christmas different and fun. A portion of the profits from the sale of the CD will be donated to Food Banks Canada.

Little Tiny / Fontana / SIX

½

 Idina Menzel – Holiday Wishes

Idina MenzelHoliday Wishes

Broadway singer and actress Idina Menzel seems an obvious choice to perform Christmas songs. She therefore has a first album in the genre alternating classics and more contemporary songs in a symphonic pop style. Among the must, there are "The Christmas Song", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", "Silent Night" and "White Christmas" (with Kenny G). There are also the excellent "Do You Hear What I Hear", Mariah Carey’s "All I Want for Christmas is You", as well as a duet with Michael Bublé for "Baby It's Cold Outside". With Holiday Wishes, Idina Menzel offers a very good album in the genre, an album that takes you into a beautiful Christmas atmosphere.

Music Video: « Baby It’s Cold Outside »

Warner

½

 Peter Furler – Christmas

Peter FurlerChristmas

The songwriter and performer from Australia releases his first Christmas album. He collaborated with pianist David Ian to give us a warm jazz album that will create a great atmosphere in your home not only for Christmas, but for the entire holiday season. Furler has a strong tendency towards Christian music and it can be heard on this album with Christmas classics, often a little less known, which find their basis in religion. The exception to it is "Little Drummer Boy". The CD ends beautifully with the excellent "Silent Night". Christmas lasts less than 30 minutes, but it is highly effective.

Prescott / Naxos

½

 Measha Brueggergosman – Christmas

Measha BrueggergosmanChristmas

The soprano born in Fredericton, New Brunswick leaves aside opera to present a Christmas album with mainly soul and gospel. Her voice remains as powerful, while it may even be intimidating at times so deep it is. She offers several essential classics including "The Christmas Song", "The Little Drummer Boy" and "Minuit, chrétiens". Measha also gives us some lesser known songs. The project received key arrangements with beautiful orchestrations. In exchange, it sometimes seems to have some discrepancy between her voice and the music, as if the two were independent instead of being as one. Measha Brueggergosman still offers us interesting interpretations of these classics.

Warner

 Chic Gamine – Christmas Vol. 1

Chic GamineChristmas Vol. 1

The quintet Chic Gamine was formed in Winnipeg in 2007. After a few albums, they use the holiday season to present a first Christmas EP. They offer an excellent blend of folk and pop, English and French. You can hear three original songs and two covers for a total of nearly 20 minutes. Despite the topics discussed and some bells, the record has not much of Christmas in reality it may well be played year round. In fact, it mostly seems an excuse to try to reach a new audience.

 Christmas at Downton Abbey (2 CD)

Christmas at Downton Abbey (2 CD)

In line with the successful TV series, here is nothing less than a double Christmas album in the same atmosphere. It includes classics by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of Kings College Cambridge. Actors Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora) and Julian Ovenden (Charles Blake) interpret many of the 45 songs offered, with the help of other big names of choral singing as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. There is also a Christmas story recited by Jim Carter (Mr. Carson). As a bonus, you can hear an extended version of the series theme music by composer John Lunn, with a part to start each of the 2 CDs. Here is a classical Christmas album that will probably please fans of the genre, but surely the fans of the series.

Warner

 

CHRISTMAS IN BRIEF:

 

Darius Rucker – Home For the Holidays

Darius RuckerHome For the Holidays

After R&B and country turns, the former leader of Hootie & the Blowfish offers a Christmas album in a jazzy style, a little crooner in the genre of Frank Sinatra.

Universal

Liona Boyd – A Winter Fantasy

Liona BoydA Winter Fantasy

A mostly instrumental Christmas album by this London legend of acoustic guitar.

Universal

Renée Fleming – Christmas in New York

Renée FlemingChristmas in New York

The American soprano singer releases her very first Christmas album, somewhere between classical singing and jazz.

Decca / Universal

Paolo Fresu Quintet – Jazzy Christmas

Paolo Fresu QuintetJazzy Christmas

The Italian trumpeter recorded a Christmas concert in December 2012 with his jazz quintet. This is the record of it that is offered to us today, with many classics in instrumental jazz version. The album also features Daniele di Bonaventura.

Bonsaï / Harmonia Mundi / SIX

Marie-Josée Lord – Amazing Grace

Marie-Josée LordAmazing Grace

Opera female singer Marie-Josée Lord offers her first album dedicated to Christmas classics. The Montreal soprano born in Haiti beautifully interprets these religious hymns and some classical works a little less known. The most famous songs include "Ave Maria", "Minuit, Chrétiens!", "Noël blanc (White Christmas)" and the title track.

 

LeAnn Rimes – One Christmas: Chapter One

LeAnn RimesOne Christmas: Chapter One

Here is a first EP by the country pop female singer from Mississippi in a series of records per season. This one is dedicated to Christmas with 6 circumstance songs including "Silent Night Holy Night" and "Blue Christmas".

 

Michael Feinstein – A Michael Feinstein Christmas

Michael FeinsteinA Michael Feinstein Christmas

Here is a Christmas album by the American singer and pianist.

Concord / Universal

Just the Christmas Hits

Just the Christmas Hits

Christmas album including Amerian pop, R&B and country artists like Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Johnny Reid, John Legend, Chris Brown, Train, Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle and CeeLo Green.

Ellen's – The Only Holiday Album You'll Ever Need, Volume 1

Ellen's – The Only Holiday Album You'll Ever Need, Volume 1

Collection by the famous TV host Ellen DeGeneres of her favorite Christmas songs by various artists like Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, Wham!, Michael Bublé, Lady Antebellum, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga and She & Him.

Motown Christmas

Motown Christmas

For a Christmas in R&B and soul, here is an album including artists from the famous Motown label. We can hear Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Ne-Yo and Tasha Cobbs, in addition to bonuses by Toni Braxton & Babyface and The Temptations.

Motown / Universal

An Americana Christmas

An Americana Christmas

On this Christmas album, there are various folk and country artists, for an authentic Christmas based on American traditional music. We can hear Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Bob Dylan, The Band and many others.

New West

French Christmas

French Christmas

French Christmas songs by mostly artists from Quebec, and a few from France. This album wants to help other audiences to discover French Christmas songs. We can hear Charles Trenet, Nadja, Bori, Annie Villeneuve, Marie-Chantal Toupin, and others.

Ragnarok Juletide

Ragnarok Juletide

Finland symphonic rock Christmas project Raskasta Joulua presents for the first time an album in English. For a heavy metal Christmas from Finland.

Spinefarm / Universal

 

NOVEMBER 15-21:

 

 Nico & Vinz – Black Star Elephant

Nico & VinzBlack Star Elephant

Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery are a duo from Oslo, Norway and they started working together in 2012 under the name of Envy. After changing their name in 2013, they now release their first album as Nico & Vinz. They play R&B with a strong pop tendency and include to their repertoire some poignant ballads despite a generally rhythmic music. In fact, their approach is much more of an afro-beat pop sound than Scandinavian music. They can be compared in part to Bruno Mars, but some can also make a parallel with Sting on some occasions. The main problem is that they are too easily comparable to other artists of the genre, demonstrating a lack of personality. The result: despite a sound that pleases at start, you get tired quickly when you start to get lost in the game of comparisons. In addition, with 21 tracks totaling nearly 60 minutes, the album only gives you little chance to wait until the end.

Warner

½

 Sixx: A.M. – Modern Vintage

Sixx: A.M.Modern Vintage

Nikki Sixx, bassist and main songwriter of Mötley Crüe, decided to form his own band in 2006 with singer James Michael and DJ Ashba. Sixx is issuing the third album of Sixx: A.M. in the wake of the farewell tour of his main group. As indicated in the title of Modern Vintage, it borrows elements that made the glory days of hard rock, while using slightly more modern technology, including electronics in the rhythms and textures. The album is more accessible and danceable than the previous two records of the band, but it still remains firmly rooted in rock. An effective rock sound of the 21st century, a far cry from what Sixx could have wrote for Mötley Crüe since the 1990s. While Mötley Crüe is leaving, Sixx: A.M. seems to be taking off with certainly their best album. Note their very modern version of The Cars’ “Drive”.

Eleven Seven / Universal

½

 Caribou – Our Love

CaribouOur Love

Dan Snaith already issues his sixth album under the pseudonym of Caribou. The electro artist again offers us a very good indie pop album with relaxing atmospheres. Otherwise, his music is more than ever moving towards the dance floors where DJs will take pleasure in remixing it. With a little more arrangements, the infectious beats possess all the necessary characteristics to satisfy fans of house music. But, his approach still remains quite psychedelic despite good pop melodies, which is most likely to appeal to fans of indie music. His love of 1980’s percussions and synthesizers is difficult to hide for Caribou who always seems immersed between two eras. The compositions are certainly of high quality, but Our Love cannot compete with the excellent Andorra released in 2007.

Merge

½

 Iceage – Plowing into the Field of Love

IceagePlowing into the Field of Love

The Danish experimental alternative rock band releases a third album on which they leave aside their hardcore style. They integrate indeed acoustic instruments leaving a lot more room to breathe. Folk and blues influences are obvious, but the monotone voice of singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt can become quite annoying in the long term. Experimentation remains well present with overlays beats not far from cacophony on several occasions. It is therefore once again a creative album for Iceage, but so difficult to appreciate at the first listenings that it can become discouraging to want to join so much. In addition, is it possible to please their fans with this less punk new direction? Not sure.

Matador / Beggars

 

NOVEMBER 1-7:

 

U2 – Songs of Innocence

U2 Songs of Innocence

It took 5 years from No Line on the Horizon before U2 are finally ready to offer a new album to their many fans. They had yet released a new single early 2014 with "Invisible" but its failure has once again thwarted their plans. The result, it was not until this fall that we finally can hear Songs of Innocence and "Invisible" is not even included on it... Another controversy: through an agreement with iTunes, the band sent for free the album to all digital subscribers, a month before its official release. If the fans of the group were delighted, others have strongly reacted on social networks being felt compelled to listen to the album against their will. In addition, the album is not up to the expectations (only Rolling Stone magazine has praised it), there are many more negative than positive effects in this ambitious promotional manoeuvre that only U2 could afford... Let's talk about the album itself now. In fact, there is very little to say. "The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)" starts it in a big way, but the following result is not very impressive. Adding electronics little heard since Pop can catch some attention. Otherwise, they remain in well known avenues throughout the record with a series of songs that remind us about what they have done since Achtung Baby. The official physical release includes a second CD with additional tracks and acoustic versions. An alternate version of "Invisible" is hidden at the end of this bonus disc. (November 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « The Miracle (of Joey Ramone) »

Island / Universal

Ex Hex – Rips

Ex HexRips

Ex Hex is an indie rock female trio from Washington, D.C. which was formed a few years away. Following their signing with Merge Records in 2013, Mary Timony and her band issue their first album, Rips. They were inspired of punk rock music, but mostly they have an energetic glam rock sound that reminds Cheap Trick and The Cars. The recipe is simple: memorable guitar riffs, great melodies, and everything accompanied by a rhythm section that offers no respite for 35 minutes. These are 12 songs with high efficiency and that are extremely pleasant to listen to that offer us the girls of Ex Hex, like their most recent single, "Waterfall". Here is a pleasant and joyful album that will make you have a very good time! (November 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Hot and Cold » - « Waterfall »

Merge

½

 Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

Leonard CohenPopular Problems

The Montrealer celebrates his 80 years with a new album, which is perfectly in line with Old Ideas issued two years ago. While respecting the folk tradition that he developed himself in the 1960s, he managed to go a little further with the integration of blues, gospel and even country ("Did I Ever Love You") influences. The album is totally dominated by piano, also with a good presence of female voices to contrast with his baritone voice that is lower than ever. Most of the nine compositions are surprisingly creative in a genre that might seem overused, especially in these years of the corporate resurrection of folk. It is therefore necessary to face the fact that among all the talented and ambitious new generation, there are old timers like Cohen who continue to dominate.

Columbia / Sony

 Lenny Kravitz – Strut

Lenny KravitzStrut

For his tenth album, Lenny Kravitz leaves out any sociopolitical messages like he had on Black and White America.. By the title of the album and the first song simply titled "Sex," we understand that the New Yorker has every intention to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. He has good catchy tracks, everything you need to groove happily. These infectious beats often stretch over several minutes for an album of 12 songs totalling 53 minutes. The efficiency of the record, unpretentious, makes it quite exciting like it is not necessarily when he deals with serious subjects that he is at his best. Some ballads somewhat lack interest, such as the cover of Smokey Robinson’s "Ooo Baby Baby". But the whole is still very interesting and allows the addition of an important piece to his repertoire.

Music Video: « The Chamber »

Red Ink / Roxie

½

 Prince – Art Official Age

Prince – Art Official Age

Two albums are simultaneously presented by Prince when in addition to his solo album Art Official Age, he also releases a record along with the female trio 3rdEyeGirl, PlectrumElectrum. For Art Official Age, Prince does not hesitate to return to a 1980’s funky sound to add to his R&B and electronic music that is still contemporary. The dance tracks are numerous and it also includes some rap verses. In fact, Prince once again presents what he does best with a mixture of everything that inspires him. Unfortunately, despite good creativity in general, several songs have a lack of interest which helps to jump over tracks on numerous occasions. Even if Prince remains an original artist in his way of creating, it remains difficult for him to provide good full-length albums since several years.

Warner

 Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End

WeezerEverything Will Be Alright in the End

In such a desire to return to the sound of their debut, Weezer decided to hire once again Ric Ocasek to produce their ninth album. After the pop evolution on Raditude, and their comeback into the underground with Hurley, the group finds back a large and clean rock sound on Everything Will Be Alright in the End. Even if he is back in a familiar zone, Rivers Cuomo still allows himself to do some music explorations, including a conclusion with a progressive touch. But we must admit, most of this album has the sound Weezer does best and that allowed the group to create its entire fan base. Although surprises are a little less evident on this new album, it is sure to please most of their loyal audience.

Music Video: « Back to the Shack »

Republic / Universal

½

 Melissa Etheridge – This Is M.E.

Melissa EtheridgeThis Is M.E.

On this 12th album, Melissa Etheridge is accompanied by many collaborators to offer a variety of styles, sometimes quite far from what she used to. Among others, we can find many R&B specialists including Roccstar, Jon Levine and Jerry Wonder. There are also more logical choices as the author Jerrod Bettis who worked with Adele and Gavin DeGraw. More pop and energetic than most of her previous albums, This is M.E. is likely to be very pleasant to play in concert for the singer so she can really have fun. It is only a pity that the various explorations are not always successful and they do not all go well together. In addition, fans of roots music may remain unsatisfied.

 

Jennifer HudsonJHUD

After the very effective I Remember Me three years ago, the R&B female singer from Chicago is back with a third album that pursues the same path. It contains some outdated elements recalling disco and pop of the early 1980s. Pharrell Williams compositions are particularly successful, especially the first single, "I Can’t Describe" (with T.I.). There is also a very good song from R. Kelly, "It's Your World". Other contributors to the album include Timbaland and Iggy Azalea. This is a fairly strong album that offers us Jennifer Hudson, an album that will make you move while revealing the beautiful voice of the singer.

Music Videos: « I Can’t Describe » - « Walk It Out »

½

 Matt Laurent – Matt Laurent

Matt LaurentMatt Laurent

Matt Laurent is a songwriter and singer of talent who played for several years, but he is also known as a producer and arranger, as well as having written several hits for other artists. His most recent project, Lucky Uke, allowed him to reach a new audience with his ukulele covers of successful hard rock songs of the 1980s like "Cum On Feel the Noize" and "We're Not Gonna Take It". On this self-titled fourth solo album, Laurent offers a majority of lyrics in English except for a pair of songs in French including the first single, "On va s’parler d’amour". It features two duets: "Until You Go (Un jour d’été)" with France D'Amour and the excellent "Please, Please Stay" with Colbie Caillat. One can also hear his sweet version of The Beatles’ "Drive My Car". What is immediately impressive with this new album, it's the incredibly effective melodies that come to mind quickly. Few weak moments are found among the 11 tracks on the album which are linked together very nicely. Here is an excellent album by Matt Laurent.

Vega

½

 A*Star – A*Star is My Name

A*StarA*Star is My Name

After excellent albums in French in addition to having arranged and produced many albums of high quality, Antoine Gratton comes to us with his alter ego, A*Star, for his first album entirely in English. The singer and pianist of great talent presents an album living up to the expectations with 14 very good compositions in the pop rock energetic style. After a softer end, A*Star is My Name goes to a second CD of acoustic versions while Antoine finds himself in the company of Orpheus Quartet. He reinterprets the catchiest songs of the first CD in a much more intimate and touching style. We therefore find the two main facets of the personality of Antoine Gratton, a man of a thousand faces that will certainly have fun on stage, regardless of the formula used.

Sphère / eOne

½

 Bryan Adams – Tracks of My Years

Bryan AdamsTracks of My Years

For his twelfth studio album and first since 2008, the Canadian songwriter and performer has decided to make himself a gift and cover classics of his youth and who influenced him. After spending considerable time in the studio, he was able to give the desired sound for each of the selected songs so that they are not too similar to the original version. You can hear The Beatles’ "Any Time At All", Bob Dylan’s "Lay Lady Lay", Chuck Berry’s "Rock and Roll Music", CCR’s "Down on the Corner", The Beach Boys’ "God Only Knows", and several others. Adams also offers a new original song, "She Knows Me". Performances are very well done on this album that manages to make us forget most of the original versions. It is the performer who is featured on this new record by Bryan Adams. A deluxe version adds an additional 5 tracks to the 11 of the standard version.

Polydor / Universal

½

 Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek

Tony Bennett & Lady GagaCheek to Cheek

At first glance, the duo formed of crooner Tony Bennett and pop diva Lady Gaga may seem odd, but they have worked together in 2011. Also, Lady Gaga has a history of cabaret singer. It is therefore quite appropriate to hear the duo sing these jazz standards with a full orchestra. With songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin (including the title track), Duke Ellington, and many others, we discover how Bennett has lost none of his vocal capacities despite his 88 years of age. As for Lady Gaga, one quickly realizes that her voice beautifully frames in such a jazz context. Otherwise, she seems uncertain of her abilities on some occasions, which removes the power and luster to her interpretation. The main drawback of the album is that you cannot get rid of the personality of the duo and the songs are automatically in the background. Much better interpretations of these classics have been recorded over the years, unfortunately.

Interscope / Universal

 

OCTOBER:

 

 Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

The metal band from Des Moines, Iowa releases its first album in six years, the first since the death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010 that greatly affected them all. It is also their first record without drummer Joey Jordison, who left in 2013. Despite a renewed rhythm section, the band has lost none of its vitality, and this fifth studio album for Slipknot has a very effective mix of the raw metal of their debut and the melodic lines of more recent years. The group follows its mission of skillfully giving us a full sound with this album of 14 tracks totaling about 74 minutes. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « The Negative One » - « The Devil in I »

Roadrunner / Warner

½

 Opeth – Pale Communion

OpethPale Communion

The Swedish band that has existed for over 20 years gives us another album in the line of Heritage, released in 2011. Their fans had yelled at treason when Opeth have been shifting gradually to a more progressive sound, leaving aside at the same time their feature death metal sound. These fans may therefore be forgetting Pale Communion which once again gives a much softer style where progressive experiments dominate the gothic atmosphere they created in the past. In return, fans of King Crimson and Deep Purple may find themselves in the music of Opeth which while being more modern, can easily be compared with these rock legends of the 1970s. There are two ways of taking this album: by comparing it with what they have done before or going back to basics forgetting their past. If we compare Pale Communion with their previous work, you can actually find that the group betrays itself and from this point of view, we can come out rather negative. Otherwise, if one takes the album as it is without worrying about their past, one realizes that all the ingredients are present for a creative album of high quality. However, a little more power in the production would have been appreciated. (October 2014)

Roadrunner / Warner

½

 Avenged Sevenfold – Waking the Fallen: Resurrected (2 CD + DVD)

Avenged SevenfoldWaking the Fallen: Resurrected (2 CD + DVD)

In 2003, Avenged Sevenfold had a second album that would set the tone for their career with the ideal mix of metal and post-hardcore, including some very good melodies and uncommon energy. We would especially find the virtuosity of these exceptional musicians who would continue to be thereafter. Eleven years later, the album revives by adding a second CD of demos, alternate versions and live versions. Also included is a DVD with a documentary, live footage and two versions of the video for "Unholy Confessions". Here is a great way to rediscover the early career of your favorite band. (October 2014)

Documentary

Hopeless / Universal

½

 Steph Cameron – Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady

Steph CameronSad-Eyed Lonesome Lady

On her first album, Steph Cameron seems to return to the roots of folk, a style that Bob Dylan was able to make larger than life in the 1960s. The young singer-songwriter from British Columbia took only 3 days in the summer of 2014 to record her album in Toronto. In addition to her 1960s folk influences, you can hear some blues and bluegrass influences. She has a unique guitar style with a straight rhythmic play that is quickly becoming the heart of the album, with her voice of course. Here is a very successful first record by the modern-day folk singer that does not hesitate to explore her first inspirations. (October 2014)

Pheromone / SIX

½

 Kinnie Starr – From Far Away

Kinnie StarrFrom Far Away

The singer-songwriter from Calgary now based in British Columbia is back with a new album, still in the indie rock style with strong influences of folk. Also a poet and rapper in her spare time, she took also the role of producer and plays all the instruments. On From Far Away, she offers 10 tracks totalling only 32 minutes between muscular rock songs and softer acoustic pieces. Unfortunately, she so tries to do everything in such a short time, she loses a lot of consistency. The album quickly becomes disjointed and it is difficult to remain captivated until the end. It’s too bad, because it's not the talent that is lacking for this multidisciplinary artist. (October 2014)

Aporia

 Electric Youth – Innerworld

Electric Youth Innerworld

Electric Youth is an electro-pop duo from Toronto formed of Bronwyn Griffin on vocals and Austin Garrick for the music. The couple formed the duo in 2009 before being discovered thanks to the Drive soundtrack in 2011. They offer a rich and cinematic sound that has everything to survive the musical trends. This is also their goal for their album to become the favourite album of people who are not yet born. With Innerworld, Electric Youth finally have their first full-length album. Through the use of numerous synthesizers from another era, the sound of the album is 80% analog. It is therefore worthy of the electronic music of the 1980s, a perfect accompaniment to any teen movie of that era. Otherwise, it remains rather one-dimensional with constant melancholy that can become annoying after a while. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « Innocence » - « Runaway »

Last Gang

 Alt-J – This Is All Yours

Alt-JThis Is All Yours

After a debut album that has made waves in indie rock (An Awesome Wave), the band from Leeds, England is back with This Is All Yours. The experimental introduction, almost new age, announces a musical turn for Alt-J, but then we hear songs in the tradition of what they have already offered. There are indeed some more left field experiments on different occasions, but other than that we feel influences from Peter Gabriel, it's still pretty much part of their style often more crazy than average. Few tracks emerge from the whole, except for the very effective and energetic "Left Hand Free". Otherwise, the album has several compositions of very high quality and that is where they are able to prove to us that we must continue to focus on them. To check out for the years to come! (October 2014)

Music Videos: « Left Hand Free » - « Hunger of the Pine » - « Every Other Freckle »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 The Wilderness of Manitoba – Between Colours

The Wilderness of ManitobaBetween Colours

The Canadian indie folk band is constantly evolving, and this is still the case on Between Colours. The group adds more wealth to its large folk sound. Sometimes more rock, their style is also becoming more and more cinematic. The group relies on renown collaborators as Michael Phillip Wojewoda (Rheostatics) on theremin and Alex Lifeson (Rush) on guitar for a memorable solo. Between Colours contains a unique wealth of instrumentation with the addition of synthesizers and the superposition of several guitars, not to mention the alternate voices of Will Whitwham and Amanda Balsys. (October 2014)

Pheromone / SIX

½

 The Mandevilles – Windows and Stones

The MandevillesWindows and Stones

For their new album, the Ontario band The Mandevilles requested the services of producer GGGarth Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, Biffy Clyro). Again, the group present their unique blend of rock 'n' roll and roots, with a touch of country that is evident at times, a combination that reminds Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Melissa Etheridge. Windows and Stones was recorded in Vancouver, almost live in the studio, giving more than ever the feeling of the band's concerts. In addition, the quartet welcomed a fifth member, Waylon Glintz, and they all participated in the songwriting in collegiality. The result is their rawest album, the closest to what they really are on stage. In addition, this third record offers several excellent compositions. This is probably their best album to date for The Mandevilles. (October 2014)

Music Video: « Hangovers »

MDM / SIX

 Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral

Rich AucoinEphemeral

A native of Halifax, the younger brother of Paul Aucoin is back with a new album in the indie rock genre somewhat explosive. Inspired by the story of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Ephemeral presents a large predominantly electronic music, worthy of the concerts by Aucoin. Powerful choruses accompany effective guitars and the good rhythms of the album that has an unusual energy. More importantly, Rich Aucoin provides us with very solid compositions, original and hard to compare. The main shortcoming of Ephemeral is that it seems too short with only 10 songs totalling 30 minutes. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « Are You Experiencing? » - « Yelling in Sleep »

Bonsound

½

 Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal – Songs of Time Lost

Piers Faccini & Vincent Ségal – Songs of Time Lost

For this new album, the voice and guitar of Piers Faccini are accompanied by Vincent Ségal’s cello to interpret covers and original songs. Faccini and Ségal met 25 years ago, and their musical connection was immediate. After various collaborations throughout their careers, the two musicians finally work together on a joint album. We find somewhat all styles on this album, even if the common denominator remains the link between voice, guitar and cello. Moments of blues and jazz come together, and in all languages. There's even a bit of Creole, "Mangé pou le coeur" of Reunion’s Alain Péters, and a country waltz, "Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria" of Townes Van Zandt. The traditional and contemporary Neapolitan repertoires are also explored. Faccini replays two songs of 1996, "A Half of Me" and "The Closing of Our Eyes". As for Ségal, he has two new songs, "Cradle to the Grave" and "Everyday Away From You". (October 2014)

No Format / Naïve / SIX

Maroon 5 – V

Maroon 5V

Two years after the disappointing Overexposed album, the Californian pop rock band is back with a more convincing record. On this fifth album, cleverly titled V, Adam Levine and his band have again greatly catchy melodies, but often on more inspired compositions. They drop their hip hop experimentations to appeal to a younger audience to focus on the pop rock sound in which they are the most comfortable. Potential hits are numerous and bet that the group will once again conquer the charts, as it is already the case with the first single, "Maps". Note to conclude the album the presence as guest singer of Gwen Stefani for the efficient and powerful piano ballad "My Heart is Open". (October 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Maps »

Interscope / Universal

Alvvays – Alvvays

AlvvaysAlvvays

Alvvays is an indie rock / indie pop band from Toronto formed in 2011. Led by singer Molly Rankin, daughter of John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Family, the group may recall The Cranberries on occasions with unforgettable melodies and effective guitar, sometimes soft and sometimes more energetic. The quintet offers several excellent compositions among the nine included on the album of only 35 minutes. They manage to grab our attention at the opening with the excellent "Adult Diversion" and "Archie, Marry Me", and then we only have to let us go. Molly's voice accompanies us to the end. Here is a very good album lacking only a spark to see it explode. (October 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Adult Diversion » - « Archie, Marry Me » - « Next of Kin »

Royal Mountain

½

 Adam Cohen – We Go Home

Adam CohenWe Go Home

Adam Cohen issued We Go Home just a week before a new album by his father, Leonard. Oddly, Adam has never sounded that much like his father with an intimate folk pop record centered on his voice and acoustic guitar. Before presenting We Go Home, he had completed a whole other album he has thrown in the trash. Instead, he decided to go back to his roots, his early influences. Partly recorded in Montreal and on the island of Hydra in Greece, We Go Home was co-produced by his friend and long-time collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Don Miguel. Adam can rely on several talented musicians for this fourth album, including cellist, guitarist and backing vocalist May Bloomfield. (October 2014)

Music Video: « We Go Home »

Rezolute / Universal / SIX

½

 Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters – Lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters – Lullaby and... the Ceaseless Roar

While the former Led Zeppelin finally returned to his native England after a long stay in America, he pursues the same path on this one than on Band of Joy, issued in 2010. This time, he surrounds himself by new musicians, the Sensational Space Shifters, and features original songs. Plant explores different styles of rock and folk, sometimes even reaching almost disturbing ambient extremes, on the edge of new age. Often intoxicating and captivating, his music can also go into more normal territory with a rock sound that is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin in the "Kashmir" era. On this new album, Robert Plant still manages to prove that it is possible to be influenced by the past to create new music. In fact, it even becomes destabilizing and it takes some time to identify to this unique style. Well, there are quite a few slightly more soporific songs, but the whole remains of high quality. It is only a pity that we cannot hear the voice that has thrilled us, first because the power is not there anymore and secondly because the soft music is not often pertinent for it. (October 2014)

Music Video: « Rainbow »

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Sinéad O’Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

Sinéad O’ConnorI’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss

After a long period of confusion, the Irish artist has returned with an album on which she offered what she does best: great pop melodies on How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? issued in 2012. She pursues in the same path with I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss, which opens with what would be the title track of her last album. She has several very good pop rock songs. Saxophonist Seun Kuti plays on the funky "James Brown", while you can hear the work of Brian Eno at different times, adding texture to the more direct sound of Sinéad. Without matching what she produced best early in her career, I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss presents quality music for Sinéad O'Connor, to make us forget her years of wandering. (October 2014)

Music Video: « Take Me To Church »

½

 Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland

Counting CrowsSomewhere Under Wonderland

After difficult years following the end of their contract with Geffen, the alternative rock band from San Francisco is back with Somewhere Under Wonderland. More relaxed and optimistic, the group seems ready for a renewal after a 20-year career. The guys even start the album with a long song over 8 minutes with different atmospheres, "Palisades Park", an ambitious decision, but that works wonderfully. Counting Crows do not hesitate to walk between an energetic rock sound, songs trending to country music and pieces of soft folk on acoustic guitar. The balance is pretty good throughout the record and their fans will certainly be satisfied. The band has probably its best album in years. (October 2014)

Music Video: « Palisades Park »

Capitol / Universal

½

 Kimbra – The Golden Echo

KimbraThe Golden Echo

The 24-year old New Zealander is back with a second album, three years after Vows which had attracted much attention. But it was her duet with Gotye for the blockbuster "Somebody That I Used to Know" which has made her known worldwide. She still has a great mix of both indie pop and R&B with great vocal melodies as well as inspired and exhilarating music. She is surrounded by many collaborators from diverse backgrounds with members of The Mars Volta, Muse, Silverchair, etc., in addition to John Legend and Bilal. Yet, despite these people with very different styles, Kimbra retains full control on her album which doesn’t go in all kinds of directions. It is her personality that emerges throughout the 12 tracks for an extremely cohesive album to the end. In this sense, she managed a masterstroke which makes The Golden Echo even more interesting than her first record. Here is a very good example of an album borrowing to past genres to make a very good new sound. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « 90s Music » - « Miracle »

Warner

½

 Karl Wolf – Stereotype

Karl WolfStereotype

The Montrealer of adoption from Lebanese origins is back with a new album combining R&B, pop and hip hop. Otherwise, of the 16 songs on his fifth album, there are a few instant hits. There is in fact "Summertime" which has all the potential to reach the top. For the rest, it is essentially a pretty standard R&B sound with a lack of creativity. Note his good energetic cover of Fleetwood Mac’s "Go Your Own Way". (October 2014)

Music Videos: « Summertime/Let’s Get Rowdy » - « Go Your Own Way »

Universal

½

 Wiz Khalifa – Blacc Hollywood

Wiz KhalifaBlacc Hollywood

The rapper is back with his fifth album, a record that seems to get a little more serious. Nevertheless, we still find plenty of his favorite themes of money, drugs and sex, with some songs having a strip club atmosphere. Several melodies are largely effective, but it lacks some creativity to his compositions and especially to his lyrics to make of Blacc Hollywood an album of first quality. There are several famous collaborators, and this is one of the most interesting elements of the CD. You can hear among others Juicy J, Curren$y, Nas, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj. While not bad, Blacc Hollywood could use a creative helping to make an album of high quality by Wiz Khalifa. (October 2014)

Music Videos: « We Dem Boyz » - « KK » - « Promises »

Atlantic / Warner

 Betty Bonifassi – Betty Bonifassi

Betty BonifassiBetty Bonifassi

Known for her work with Bet.e & Stef and Beast, as well as her participation in the Triplettes de Belleville and her collaboration with DJ Champion, Betty Bonifassi finally has a first album under her own name. One of the greatest voices in the country, it is used here as a tool to interpret traditional work songs sung by slaves or prisoners listed by Alan Lomax. The music is mainly by Betty and Jean-François Lemieux with some collaborators. There are also two original songs: "Working Down" and "How Does It Feel". Musically, the album is rather unclassifiable with elements of jazz, soul, funk, rock and trip hop. Extremely creative, the record wants to be a great tribute to the African slaves taken to America for labor purpose. In addition, the CD is presented in a very nice rigid booklet giving us the desire to buy the CD rather than the digital version. (October 2014)

L-A be / SIX

½

 Just Passing Through: The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook Vol. II

Just Passing Through: The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook Vol. II

The brothers Don and Jeff Breithaupt wrote pieces worthy of the greatest jazz standards. On this second volume of their Songbook, you can hear some famous artists performing their beautiful melodies. These artists include Kellylee Evans, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Ron Sexsmith, Paul Shaffer, Sarah Slean and Ian Thomas. All these great names in Canadian music were entrusted carefully selected songs for them. There are 15 in total, reflecting the massive talent of the two brothers who often work remotely, Jeff living in New York City while Don recently left Toronto for a successful career as a composer of film music in Los Angeles. (October 2014)

Alma / Universal / SIX

½

Grant Hart - Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart (DVD)

Grant Hart - Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart (DVD)

Grant Hart was initially known as co-leader of alternative band Hüsker in which he acted as a songwriter, drummer and singer until their split in December 1987. Thereafter, he mostly worked in solo in addition to forming the band Nova Mob the time of two albums. In this documentary about his career, it's basically Hart himself who tells his story, his career. One can also find footage from live performances by Hüsker , Nova Mob and Hart in solo. Unfortunately, the 90-minute documentary has some less interesting details. It is still a document that will appreciate the most fervent fans of Hüsker . (October 2014)

MVD

½

 

SEPTEMBER:

 

 King 810 – Memoirs of a Murderer

King 810Memoirs of a Murderer

King 810 is a nu metal band from Flint, Michigan that can be compared in part to Slipknot and Korn, with also passages reminding of Pantera by the voice and guitar riffs. After an independent album in 2012, the group presents its first album for Roadrunner Records. This is a long CD of 16 tracks totalling 68 minutes. As its title indicates, Memoirs of a Murderer goes into the dark and twisted world of a murderer with certainly very tough lyrics and an atmosphere of horror films. The band manages to alternate between fast songs and slower heavier moments. But, in terms of creativity, it is not often well done with all the clichés of metal which are grouped in the same album. The dramatic voice of David Gunn is far too exaggerated and in addition, the overall sound of the album seems old and dated. Finally, there are only very few good things on the album. Songs like "Fat Around the Heart" and "Eyes" may stay in your mind, but these are very few good moments among 16 tracks too caricatured. (September 2014)

Music Videos: « Killem All » - « Fat Around the Heart » - « War Outside » - « State of Nature »

Roadrunner / Warner

 Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away

Vance JoyDream Your Life Away

The Australian singer-songwriter presents his first album. James Keogh (aka Vance Joy) offers folk pop music with highly effective melodies, extremely catchy. Built around the international hit "Riptide", Dream Your Life Away contains some other interesting tracks such as "Winds of Change" in opening and "Best That I Can" just before the end. Otherwise, the whole quickly becomes predictable with a few songs that manage to stand out from others, especially from the artists who influenced him (Jack Johnson, Mumford & Sons, James Blunt, Jason Mraz). For fans of contemporary folk crooners, Vance Joy will give you maybe a few interesting moments. On the other hand, the album certainly does not meet the expectations created around "Riptide", with music and lyrics without much creativity. (September 2014)

Music Videos: « Riptide » - « From Afar » - « Mess is Mine » - « First Time »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Sloan – Commonwealth

SloanCommonwealth

The band formed in Halifax presents somehow 4 EPs, written and recorded by each member, and concentrated on a single CD. Divided into playing cards, Commonwealth shows the diamond side with 5 tracks by Jay Ferguson, the heart side with 5 tracks by Chris Murphy, the shamrock side with four songs by Patrick Pentland and finally the spade side with one song by Andrew Scott. As much in the concept than the sound of the album, one feels the influence of The Beatles, with melodies recalling Paul McCartney, especially in the part belonging to Ferguson. Murphy has a somewhat psychedelic sound, while Pentland offers a more direct rock and Scott experimented for 17 minutes. So there is a certain disconnection between the four parts of the album, but the whole still managed to remain consistent. Commonwealth is an ambitious album, but which meet the expectations of many fans that are thirsty for renewal. (September 2014)

Yep Roc

½

 Tennis – Ritual in Repeat

TennisRitual in Repeat

Tennis is a band that was formed in Denver in 2010 and is already issuing its third album. The indie rock band has added a good dose of pop on its second album and it follows the same path on Ritual in Repeat. They work again with Patrick Carney (Black Keys) for about half the CD. It has once again an efficient rhythm section, mainly due to the drums of James Barone, and the unique voice of Alaina Moore. The group has high-quality compositions with many effective mid-tempo songs and which remain in mind. Especially, Ritual in Repeat gives us every time the desire to start it over when it reaches the end of the 38 minutes. (September 2014)

Communion / Universal

½

 Ariana Grande – My Everything

Ariana GrandeMy Everything

The young pop singer from Florida already has her second album. On this new record, she is helped by several talented producers to give a new life to her music (Max Martin, David Guetta, Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder, etc.). She inserts an R&B energy to her very soft pop music oriented towards the 1990s, and at the same time, it puts even more evidence on her powerful voice. You can hear many guest singers including Iggy Azalea, The Weeknd, Zedd, Big Sean and many others. Ariana reminds us a little too much about Mariah Carey on many occasions and she would be well advised to detach from her. But vocally, she certainly has fun in playing in the same register. In fact, Ariana still lacks to forge her own personality. She then may well be different from her competitors and at the same time become a great pop singer. Because she has the talent, do not have doubts about it! (September 2014)

Music Videos: « Problem » - « Break Free »

Republic / Universal

 Megan Bonnell – Hunt and Chase

Megan BonnellHunt and Chase

Megan Bonnell is a young folk singer, guitarist and pianist who grew up in rural Ontario before moving to Toronto. She toured North America with Justin Nozuka, in addition to discovering the world stages with John Grant. On her first album, Megan offers us soft and comforting music impressed of a single poetry for a singer that age. The sounds that are still rich are based primarily on the muffled voice of the singer, a subtle acoustic guitar and an occasional gentle piano. Without revolutionizing the genre, Megan Bonnell has a personal emotion that allows to offer a beautiful album. (September 2014)

Nevado / SIX

 Willows – Willows

WillowsWillows

Geneviève Toupin releases a first album under the name of Willows, her alter ego and new stage name. The Franco-Manitoban offers a mainly French album with a few forays into English. Her folk songs are interpreted with great gentleness, all in subtlety. She talks about her roots and explore her biculturalism. For this third album in total, she is surrounded by many collaborators, including Marianne Houle of Monogrenade (cello, vocals), Antoine Gratton (arrangements), Benoit Morier (bass, art direction), Guillaume Chartain (guitar, vocals, sound) and many others. Although Willows remains firmly rooted in folk, there are also a few explorations into soul and pop. Ironically, the album is her most personal to date, but with this new identity, she seems at the same time to detach from it. This is her best album to date and the transition to Willows proves to be fruitful for the artist. (September 2014)

Sirène des plaines / SIX

½

 In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist

In-Flight SafetyConversationalist

In-Flight Safety is a Halifax band that was formed about ten years ago. They are mainly influenced by Britpop music, including bands like Travis, Coldplay and Radiohead. Arcade Fire and U2 are never too far away either. On this third full-length album, the band continues in the way they had established 5 years ago on We Are an Empire, My Dear. Dynamic rock songs with catchy melodies are linked at a good pace for 35 minutes. The only drawback is that you can not get rid of their influences, which appear to remain well represented in each of their compositions. It’s too bad, because Conversationalist is still an enjoyable album to listen to the end. (September 2014)

Ooh La La / Fontana North

 Asa – Bed of Stone

AsaBed of Stone

The Nigerian-born French singer issues a third more pop album, clearly done to reach a wider audience. We still recognize the unique phrasing that makes her irresistible on several occasions. Otherwise, the music loses almost everything of its African influences, including the lyrics in Yoruba. She co-wrote two songs with Piers Faccini, including the excellent "Bed of Stone" which gave its title to the album. Even if she loses some of her uniqueness with Bed of Stone, Asa has still some good soul songs with a strong pop package. (September 2014)

Music Video: « Dead Again »

Naïve / SIX

 Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Royal BloodRoyal Blood

After a 4-song EP a few months ago, the duo from Brighton, England offers a full-length debut. Otherwise, with only 10 tracks totalling less than 33 minutes, their self-titled album still seems incomplete. In addition, you can hear 3 of the 4 songs of the Out of the Black EP: "Come On Over", "Little Monster" and the excellent title track. But we must admit that it's an album that really is pleasant to listen to that offer us Royal Blood. Comparisons with the White Stripes and the Black Keys are still inevitable, with the scale of Muse and influences of Led Zeppelin. Their bluesy rock sound has a beautiful energy and leaves no weak moment on the album, which can be listened to in one shot. Only a pair of compositions falls somewhat flat, but the whole is extremely effective, especially considering that the duo was formed only a year ago. For fans of garage blues rock, Royal Blood is added to your interesting options. (September 2014)

Music Videos: « Out of the Black » - « Little Monster » - « Come On Over » - « Figure It Out »

Imperial Galactic / Warner

½

 Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

PallbearerFoundations of Burden

The doom metal band from Arkansas comes up with a second album that is likely to shake the foundations of metal. Obviously, one can still do parallels with Black Sabbath with a slow, heavy sound, and the rather high voice of Brett Campbell. Otherwise, a better voice control on his part makes it much less annoying on Foundations of Burden. Furthermore, the addition of a new, more skilful and dynamic drummer in Mark Lierly is certainly very welcome. In fact, Pallbearer built on the solid foundation of the first album, making significant changes and moving now to another level. Foundations of Burden contains only 6 songs, 4 of which cross 10 minutes, for a more than acceptable total of 54 minutes. This is a great record, which becomes somewhat mesmerizing in the long run but remains especially nice to listen to the end. (September 2014)

Profound Lore

½

 Lea Longo – Songs of a Siren

Lea LongoSongs of a Siren

On this remarkable album, Quebecer Lea Longo plays jazz music with mantra influences. This is a collection of well known love songs including "Fever", "Here's To Life", "The Very Thought of You" and "Love is All You Need". The latter is also offered in a second version at the very end, a mix by Ben Leinbach. The sultry voice of Lea, the beautiful vocal harmonies and musical arrangements including choirs and Indian mantras in the heart of the music create a mesmerizing blend. Obviously you need a very specific context for the music to fit nicely with the atmosphere, but the sweetness interpretations will seduce you every time. (September 2014)

Sweet Life

Jason Mraz – Yes!

Jason MrazYes!

A fairly significant change from previous albums by Jason Mraz, Yes! has only acoustic songs. Recorded with female folk band Raining Jane, this new record still offers several catchy songs with some entertaining tracks. He originally planned to make only an unpretentious side project, but the quality of the songs presented soon changed the goal to make it his fifth official album. Yes! delivers us its share of love songs. After all, it has become the trademark of Mraz, especially after the worldwide success of "I'm Yours". Among the 14 songs of the album can be heard a cover, Boyz II Men’s "It's so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday". The most interesting songs also include the first single "Love Someone" which starts the album strongly after a short intro, in addition to "Best Friend" and "You Can Rely on Me". It's still a beautiful album that offers us Jason Mraz, the logical extension to Love is a Four Letter Word issued two years ago. (September 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Love Someone »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Bleachers – Strange Desire

BleachersStrange Desire

Bleachers is a side project for guitarist of the band Fun., Jack Antonoff. The group formed in New York has a pop rock sound with new wave influences and electronic elements. The choruses are powerful and those epic anthems are perfect for singing loud by the crowd at concerts. Other tracks a little softer can complement an evening and it is this mix of magnificent and intimate that creates a very interesting album to listen to. In addition, it gets better and better with each listen, though some less original compositions, a little too inspired by the past, end up to take out. Antonoff and his band can count on two renowned collaborators as Grimes, who comes with vocal acrobatics on "Take Me Away" and Yoko Ono, much less spectacular on "I'm Ready To Move On/Wild Heart (Reprise)". Here is a very good first album by this group that could be to checkout out closely whether Antonoff decided to devote himself to it full time. (September 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « I Wanna Get Better »

RCA / Sony

½

 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye

Tom Petty & The HeartbreakersHypnotic Eye

After a comeback in the late 2000s, Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers issue perhaps their best album in over 30 years with Hypnotic Eye. From the opening track, "American Dream Plan B", one perceives a new energy in very effective rock 'n' roll. "Fault Lines" continues in the same way then we find further some more introspective songs of high quality with blues and jazz influences. It is quite distant now the time when we could only compare them to The Beatles. On Hypnotic Eye, there is a nice balance between good energy tracks and slower times when the quality of the musicians takes center stage. Here is a very nice album to listen to that is likely to rally their early fans, in addition to attract the sympathy of a new audience. (September 2014)

Reprise / Warner

½

 La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

La RouxTrouble in Paradise

After the blockbuster she got five years ago thanks to the hit "Bulletproof", it is not easy for La Roux to come back with creative material and as catchy. These years of waiting and anguish for Elly Jackson resulted in the departure of her collaborator Ben Langmaid. She suffered from writer's block page, panic attacks, loss of voice, and so on, forcing her to postpone several recording sessions. The title of her new album has not been so difficult to find. Otherwise, to see all the electro-pop artists inspired by the new wave of the 1980s that have emerged in recent years, one can easily realize that La Roux still has her place on the current music scene. The British artist continues in the same way on Trouble in Paradise that still inspires largely from the 1980s, perhaps even more than on her first album. References to David Bowie are still present, but it is based a little more on disco and even reggae ("Tropical Chancer"). Despite danceable rhythms, La Roux has a greater vulnerability in her writing. Most of all, there is no longer the kind of hits as "Bulletproof", which is likely to relegate her quickly to second place in the genre. This is still a very good album. (September 2014)

Music Video: « Let Me Down Gently »

Polydor / Universal

½

 Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Jenny LewisThe Voyager

The Las Vegas singer is back with her third album, but already six years have passed since her last one, the excellent Acid Tongue. On The Voyager, we realize quickly the theme that put all the compositions together. Infidelity, failed marriage, disappointment and regret are linked for an album of unwinding. Musically, Jenny has a pop rock sound with some country and folk influences. If we ignore the lyrics, we do not feel like listening to a depressing album, on the contrary. She offers a joyful and energetic music that makes us quickly forget the recurring theme of the 30 year old woman who is no longer trusting men. The Voyager is certainly not a stunning album, but it still remains of great quality. (September 2014)

Music Video: « Just One of the Guys »

Warner

½

 Brian Setzer – Rockabilly Riot! All Original

Brian SetzerRockabilly Riot! All Original

In 2005, Brian Setzer paid tribute to Sun Records by presenting the album Rockabilly Riot. In 2012, a live album had the same title, and what differentiates this one is that it includes only original songs. However, you will often feel you hear covers while references and nods to the past are numerous. So much so that originality is not so much present... Despite this lack of creativity, we can not blame him for trying, after all these years to do versions of classic rock 'n' roll. And we must admit that this still has a good blend of upbeat songs that will make you tap your feet, while your nostalgia of the 1950s will be back in you. (September 2014)

Surfdog / Universal

 Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Manic Street Preachers Futurology

The britpop band from Wales has a career that is already over 20 years old and it still offers quality albums to its loyal fans. As shown by its title, this new album propels the Manic Street Preachers into the future, rather than looking behind with nostalgia as they did for some years. This is an important shift the trio performs with Futurology. They present songs both energetic and inspired with many electronic elements. The rock moments are surprising in the band's repertoire, but the group is also exploring on a number of occasions disco for a creative pop rock album. A unique album in the discography of Manic Street Preachers, Futurology is a great entertainment, both for its quality of production and by the intelligence of the compositions. (September 2014)

Music Videos: « Walk Me to the Bridge » - « Futurology »

Columbia / Sony

½

 DragonForce – Maximum Overload

DragonForceMaximum Overload

The London power metal band DragonForce already offers its sixth album in 15 years of career. The group has lost none of its speed, accuracy and virtuosity through the years. For Maximum Overload, the guys decided to work for the first time with an outside producer, Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia). The producer has brought them some discipline which forced them to work harder. This results in a more intense record than in the past. The level of creativity is also up a notch, even if the band retains the elements that made its reputation as old video game sounds and their unique guitar playing. There was only one collaborator on the album, Matt Heafy (Trivium) who lends his voice to three tracks including the first single, "The Game". For the first time, the band did a cover of a well known song, and not just any: Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire". This surprising moment comes to us at the very end, when stunning is at its peak, but their very personal version is the highlight of the CD. (September 2014)

Music Video: « The Game »

Metal Blade / Universal

½

 Beck – Song Reader

Beck Song Reader

Song Reader</