Four years after the excellent
Dead Silence, the Canadian band is
back with their fifth album. Afraid of Heights is possibly
their most varied record to date, exploring different styles and
including piano, synthesizers and acoustic guitar. This is the first
album without drummer Aaron Solowoniuk forced to stand due to
multiple sclerosis. He was replaced by Jordan Hastings (Alexisonfire).
Guitarist Ian D'Sa made a monumental work in the production
of the record while Billy Talent sounds better than ever. The band
reminds us Metallica’s
"The Unforgiven" with "Rabbit Down the Hole" while it's Muse
that comes to mind with "Horses & Chariots". The group takes
position in "This Is Our War", which further expands a little more
their palette. Otherwise, the centerpiece of the album remains the
title track, which is found as a reprise at the end of the CD. With
Afraid of Heights, Billy Talent demonstrate the full range of
their talents, both as composers and as musicians. This therefore
results in a complete album on which each song has interesting
elements, which thereby makes us want to listen to it until the end.
A very good record!
Jamie Kilstein managed to become known as a standup
comic, but now it’s as the leader of an alternative rock band that
he is getting discovered. Effective on guitar, it's mostly as a
singer that stands out Kilstein with lyrics vigorously denouncing
injustices such as homophobia, sexism, racism, irresponsible
parents, economic injustices, etc. In several songs he is speaking
to deliver his corrosive lyrics, more as a rapper/poet than as a
humorist set to music. Otherwise, the best texts and music
assemblies come when he truly sings, is a little less sharp and is
not necessarily addressing to an audience supporting his ideas.
Because it must be said: if you are not of the same opinion as
Kilstein, you are likely to have a very long time! Same thing if
cursing is bothering you... This is a good album for those who like
artists who stand for their ideas with an energetic and interesting
indie rock sound. But it is mainly for Jamie Kilstein to communicate
his messages in another way than alone on a stage behind a
microphone making the crowd laugh at all costs.
Formed in Nashville in
2013 by dobro master Jerry Douglas, The Earls of Leicester is
a tribute to Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs of the band
The Foggy Mountain Boys. They have a second album with 17
tracks of the Flatt and Scruggs directory. Faithful to the original
songs, The Earls of Leicester are unfortunately not able to carry
this classic bluegrass music to another level. However, the
production of high quality by Douglas manages to give some luster to
Rattle & Roar which we did not find on their first record.
The group thus managed to evolve in a big way, while remaining true
to those bluegrass classics.
The post-grunge quartet from Memphis now based in
Nashville was installed for 20 years and presents its tenth album.
The Christian band still has a powerful rock sound with a positive
message of hope. Musically, it is a major album that has everything
to appeal to a broad audience including fans of Nickelback.
At times they can remind Muse, but some other times quite
aggressive lead us almost at the feet of Slipknot. The group
even managed to get a glance at the cover of "Blue Monday" by
Orgy on "Burn It Down". The arena anthems are legion on
Unleashed which will easily translate on stage with boundless
energy. This is certainly the best album of Skillet in 10 years,
On his new album, pianist Nicholas Angelich plays
three works by Liszt, Schumann and Chopin that
were dedicated to one of the other two. First, we find Liszt’s
"Sonata in B minor" dedicated to Robert Schumann. Then it was
the turn of Schumann to dedicate "Kreisleriana, Op. 16" to
Frédéric Chopin. Finally, Chopin dedicated his "Études, Op. 10,
nos 10 & 12" to Franz Liszt. With this 78-minute album
Angelich pays a great tribute to these three pianists and composers
born 18 months apart, which vowed admiration and mutual respect.
Six years after
Emotion & Commotion, the
legendary guitarist is back with a new album of original music. Jeff
Beck uses this time a different path with the help of singer
Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg. He presents
sometimes a heavy rock sound with blues and funky trends. He
explores fairly and the two collaborators bring a fresh perspective
to this album that blends the past with more contemporary music.
Several interesting elements furnish Loud Hailer, allowing
Jeff Beck to remain on the page despite 50 years of career.
After a long period of uncertainty, the guys from
Blink-182 finally release their seventh album, only their second in
13 years. They seem to have regained their form of the good old days
because they offer us an energetic and inspired pop punk sound. It
must be said that we have here a third incarnation of the band with
the addition of guitarist Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio),
replacing founding member Tom DeLonge. So it's a fresh breeze
blowing on Blink-182 and it restores at the same time some of their
youth and teenage recklessness. Skiba was able to skillfully
integrate the group and we still find the riffs and other Blink
characteristic elements. In addition, the group gives us 16 tracks
in less than 43 minutes, so they are short and effective songs that
can be heard on California. Producer John Feldmann (Goldfinger)
has kept the group in an excellent focus for a record with a great
guideline, worthy of their best years. The energy is finally back in
Blink-182, 15 years after soaring!
The prodigious pianist and excellent pop rock
singer from Winnipeg is back with her sixth career album, her first
studio recording in seven years. She offers a new adult pop sound
with elements of rock and beautiful arrangements. The melodies
remain highly effective and Chantal delivers these melodies with a
powerful voice. Unfortunately, with only 10 tracks totaling just
over 35 minutes, Hard Sail seems incomplete. It still offers
The prolific band from San Diego already issue
their 10th album in 20 years of career. They show the different
sounds explored throughout their careers for a varied album that
will surely join a wide audience. There is a bit of the pop punk of
their debut, blockbuster rock of the early 2000s, new wave inspired
of the 1980s and electro. Moments a little more pop will certainly
not miss to catch attention, as in the first danceable single,
"Float". Dance rock also returns at different times of the CD,
especially with "If the House Burns Down Tonight" and "Healer of
Souls". Switchfoot succeed in addition to surprise us with a foray
into the world of hip hop: the bluesy "Bull in a China Shop" and
"Looking for America" with
rapper Lecrae. The album will perhaps seem too varied, with a
guideline a bit fuzzy, but we hear enough quality compositions for
wanting to listen to the entire CD repeatedly. This is the best
Switchfoot album since
The Beautiful Letdown released in
At 68 years old, the leader of
Aerosmith strangely releases his first solo album. He
traveled to Nashville to record a rock album, but tending to
country. There are many pop ballads, always with a touch of country
in the background. Tyler managed to find a guideline that suits him
well, but unfortunately it is not all the songs that are newsworthy.
Actually, the most interesting ones remain those that compare a
little more to the rock 'n' roll of
Aerosmith. The album concludes with two fairly useless covers:
"Janie's Got a Gun" (of
Aerosmith) and "Piece of my Heart" (with The Loving Mary Band).
For their new album, the sisters Ann and
Nancy Wilson decided to do new versions of seven pieces a
little more obscure in their repertoire. They are complemented by
three new songs. In the title song, James Hetfield (Metallica)
adds his voice to that of Ann, a huge contrast for this decidedly
rock song. "Two" is a cover of Ne-Yo, while "I Jump", another
new song, is mixing orchestrations and Led Zeppelin
riffs. The third new track, "Heaven", is a piece that the group lugs
around for a while, but that was never released on a studio album.
Unfortunately, the CD contains many unnecessary moments and
certainly lacks of focus, going in all directions. This results in a
rather weak album that has little moments truly newsworthy, except
for the title track and "I Jump".
Eric Clapton and
Guests – Crossroads Revisited: Selections from the Crossroads Guitar
Festivals (3 CD)
Founded in 1999 by Eric Clapton, the Crossroads
Guitar Festival aims to support the Crossroads Centre, a rehab
centre in Antigua. Several editions of the festival have appeared on
CD and DVD over the years and this triple album is a compilation of
the best of these festivals. Clapton is accompanied by the greatest
blues musicians such as Buddy Guy, B.B. King,
Jimmie Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Robert
Cray, Albert Lee, John Mayer and Gary Clark Jr.
There are also forays into rock and country at various times, and
artists from different backgrounds can be heard such as Carlos
Santana, Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top, Vince Gill,
Willie Nelson and Steve Winwood. This compilation can
assemble these exceptional talents in one place, making it a must
for blues fans.
For their 11th album, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
have decided for the first time in years not to work with producer
Rick Rubin. It’s rather Brian Burton (aka Danger
Mouse) who takes that responsibility. The band gains maturity
and offers an album full of nuances with soul and funk influences of
the 1970s. Several songs offer some sweetness that is very pleasing
to the ear and the whole follows a great guideline. Subtle
influences of disco (the title song) or electro ("Go Robot") prove
their versatility and still show creative abilities. We can also
hear influences of
The Beatles ("The Longest Wave", "Feasting on the Flowers").
While we recognize the style of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they
managed just enough to surprise us. Note a huge collaboration with
Elton John playing piano in "Sick Love". With The Getaway,
the Red Hot Chili Peppers return to their place among the largest
bands in the world. (July 2016 Featured
Kaleo is an Icelandic band that was formed four
years ago. On this first album, they offer an indie rock sound with
influences of blues and folk. From the opening track, "No Good"
(heard in promotion for the Vinyl series on HBO), we think
about the garage blues sound of The Black Keys. But the group
then slows down the pace for the excellent "Way Down We Go". The
album produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon,
City and Colour) has this nice mix of ballads sometimes folk and
more energetic riffs throughout the 10 songs totaling 42 minutes.
This is an excellent first record the quartet is offering us, a
highly addictive CD and varied enough to keep our interest until the
end. (July 2016 Featured New Artist)
Ana Alcaide – Leyenda: World Music
Inspired by Feminine Legends
Ana Alcaide is a Spanish songwriter and performer.
On this album, she was inspired by mythology and feminine legends
from Spain, Europe and elsewhere in the world. She plays her
favorite instrument, the Swedish nyckelharpa, that she accompanies
with voices, flute and singing birds. The result is unique world
music with influences of folk, jazz and classical. A beautiful
tribute to women in general!
BadBadNotGood is a Toronto band founded in 2010.
They first came forward with their jazz versions of hip hop songs.
They now have a fusion of jazz, electro, funk and R&B. After working
with Ghostface Killah last year for the album
Sour Soul, the group returns with
their fourth album on their own. They now welcome full-time
saxophonist Leland Whitty as the fourth member and are
changing at the same time their sound. This is especially electro
that takes up more space and you can also hear some little more
sustained rhythms. Also, many guest vocalists add a new color to the
music of BadBadNotGood. Although jazz remains at the forefront, the
album features an eclectic mix of styles that remains pleasant to
Trumpeter Alison Balsom explores a mix of classical
and baroque since the early 2000s. Recently, she tries to discover
especially contemporary French songs. With her longtime
collaborator, pianist Tom Poster, she presents pieces by
contemporary artists including George Enescu, Paul
Hindemith and Leonard Bernstein, in addition to
Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin. The Balsom / Post duo
just seems in perfect fusion as the whole seems inseparable. This is
certainly an excellent album!
Dexys – Let
the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul
The Dexys Midnight Runners had their heyday
in the 1980s thanks to their ability to skillfully combine rock, new
wave, soul and Irish folk. In 2012, singer Kevin Rowland was
back with a new version of the band simply named Dexys. On this
second album by his new band, Rowland plays classic Irish folk, but
also more pieces by known artists as Bee Gees’ "To Love
Somebody", Rod Stewart’s "You Wear It Well", Johnny Cash’s
"40 Shades of Green", LeAnn Rimes’ "How Do I Live" and
Joni Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now". The result is a good mix of
soul and folk, as only the Dexys can offer.
Four years after Gratitude, the Canadian jazz
singer and double bassist returns with her third album in a trio
with experienced pianist Harold Mabern (80 years old) and
legendary drummer Joe Farnsworth. In addition to her favorite
instrument, Brandi begins on cello in "When The Mood is Right". The
entire Blue Canvas proves to be quite varied, in moods,
tempos and atmospheres. Among the highlights of the album there are
their interpretation of Clifford Brown’s rhapsody "Daahoud",
and Mabern’s "Beehive". The album concludes 45 minutes later with
the cool cover of Ann Ronell’s "Willow Weep For Me". This is
again an excellent record Brandi Disterheft offers us with Blue
Canvas, an album that certainly does not have a lack of
Strange Little Birds
is the sixth album from Shirley Manson and her band, and it
represents a milestone in the career of Garbage, following their
return in 2012. We find again the sound that made them famous in the
1990s, but they manage to go a little further with captivating
atmospheres on many occasions. Shirley sings better than ever, and
even if she deals with sociological or personal problems, she
captures us to the point of forgetting the themes. Despite the
recognition of the past genre, Garbage managed to keep us in an
atmosphere of the 2010s with a sound that remains generally well
contemporary. In fact, Strange Little Birds is so pleasant to
listen to that going back in time, we realize that this is perhaps
their best album since their
self-titled debut in 1995, the same one that propelled them as
Le groupe métal français présente son sixième
album en 20 ans de carrière. Ils laissent finalement tomber le death
metal pour plutôt se concentrer sur un métal plus mélodique avec des
chansons courtes et accessibles. Ils se rapprochent en fait du métal
alternatif en de nombreuses occasions, malgré quelques moments
toujours aussi extrêmes comme dans la 3e piste par exemple, « The
Cell ». Un album plus simple pour Gojira conserve tout de même son
lot de complexités et de pièces progressives. Certains journalistes
parlent de Magma comme du
Black Albumde Metallica.
La comparaison est facile et assez juste, mais n’a rien de honteux,
puisqu’il s’agit peut-être de l’album qui leur permettra enfin de
rejoindre un auditoire plus large, hors des inconditionnels de
métal. Un très bon disque!
Reuben Hollebon is a British songwriter and
performer. Until now, he mostly worked as sound engineer for artists
like Nitin Sawhney and Courtney Barnett, as well as
with the London Symphony Orchestra. He releases his first
album on which he offers alternative folk rock music. With the
integration of an organ and a piano, his sound sometimes takes a
different direction becoming hypnotic background music, among others
in "Fields, For Fields". Terminal Nostalgia can be quite
difficult to approach at first, but it has several interesting
elements if we manage to avoid going into a deep sleep...
Jadea Kelly candidly admits that this third album
was her most difficult to create, by its dark background of
infidelity and heartbreak. Despite the hard process that Jadea had
passed, Love & Lust shines with honesty, intensity and
emotion. In fact, the Ontario artist seems to have reached the
pinnacle of her career as a songwriter. She has a nice mix of folk
and contemporary indie pop, as an amalgam of Patsy Cline and
Feist. Here is an album to discover!
Two years after
Love Letters, Joe Mount and his band are back with
Summer 08. True to its title, the album looks back on the summer
of 2008, right after the release of the
Nights Outalbum. This is a happy album with lots of disco
and funk rhythms. The set is pleasant to listen to with Mount
managing to remain still as creative. Note the presence of Robyn
on the song "Hang With Out to Dry", a more than interesting addition
to this beautiful album by the English group.
Japanese singer Mitski Miyawaki is now based
in Brooklyn, New York and is making her debut on the American
independent label Dead Oceans after three other albums. She offers
an alternative rock sound with some punk injections and an attitude
that recalls Patti Smith. Her lyrics are often hard and
depict the ups and downs of her generation. They come with a
powerful and bewitching voice that can be downright impressive in
the bass. Sometimes scratchy guitar riffs accompany in a beautiful
way the voice of this young artist with a remarkable talent. The set
of 11 tracks totaling only 31 minutes shows you the full extent of
that talent with a nice mix of rock songs and power ballads.
Puberty 2 is a beautiful album that is only lacking one or two
outstanding tracks to make a historical record.
The English experimental band returns with a new
album that pushes back a few boundaries. Moulettes have a highly
exploratory alternative rock sound with elements of electro and
progressive folk, so a perfect mix of genres! Otherwise, we must
certainly get used to their somewhat disjointed style that goes in
several directions. After a few songs, one comes to understand their
guidelines and then we can truly appreciate. Preternatural is
an album that will be most effective in the context of background
music, during a dinner with friends for example. But, to listen to
it carefully will make you discover some rather interesting parts.
With their sixth album, Needtobreathe tackle head-on
commercial music with custom made songs for pop radios. More than
ever they make us think of Kings of Leon and OneRepublic
with totally unforgettable pop melodies. Even the voice of Bear
Rinehart is perfectly comparable to that of Caleb Followill
of Kings of Leon. That said, Needtobreathe still manage to keep
their own personality, to make sure not losing their loyal fans.
Hard Love will only make them reach a broader audience and
potentially win radio airplay. This is their most accessible album
to date, but it also has several high quality songs for a very
efficient record in the end.
Thom Yorke and
his band are back on record, five years after
The King of Limbs. Probably unable
to agree on a logical order for the 11 tracks of the album, they
have simply placed them in alphabetical order. Another oddity from
Radiohead that leaves us the choice to listen to it in our favorite
order. Also note that some of the songs have been worked for a long
time. For example, the band has started to work on "Burn the Witch"
in the early 2000s, while "True Love Waits" appeared in concert as
far back as 1995. Otherwise, we do not feel at any time that this is
an album of rarities or rejected tracks, as if it was just the right
time to offer them to the public. A Moon Shaped Pool
surprises by its consistency and solidity to the end. Electro sound
is still part of the group's music for ambient music that can
sometimes seem heavy, but it is never uninteresting. Yorke continues
to mesmerize us with his voice over background music of a quality
little heard since
Kid A. Less experimental than
their last recordings, Radiohead still progresses in maturity and
Liz Stringer is an Australian female singer who
comes to us with a very good pop rock album. The soul in her low
voice also brings a very special feeling. We can as well detect
influences of folk, especially in the second half, but the whole is
dynamic with a good assembly of rhythmed songs. For her energy, it
reminds us especially of the 1980s with a little something of
Blondie and the Pretenders. So, it is a satisfying album
that can be discovered with All the Bridges.
The Quin sisters are back with a new album, three
Heartthrob. The more pop direction
of that album made some fans to leave, but they were able to find
many new fans too. Tegan and Sara continue in the same path with
Love You To Death, again demonstrating their huge talent of
melodists. Produced once again by Greg Kurstin, the album
presents a superb blend of pop rock, new wave and romantic ballads.
Their lyrics remain deep and honest, but they reach a larger target
than before. With Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara show more
than ever that pop music can be both entertaining and intelligent.
The pianist born in New Orleans died in the fall of
2015, but not without leaving us this tribute to American music.
This is producer Joe Henry who completed the album, left
unfinished by the death of Allen Toussaint in November 2015 while he
was on tour in Madrid.
On American Tunes, Toussaint resumes to explore jazz like he
did on The Bright Mississippi in 2009. Otherwise, jazz
standards count for only a part of the new album which also features
versions of his own repertoire and some more contemporary songs.
There are two Duke Ellington songs, one of Bill Evans,
one of Earl King and Paul Simon’s "American Tune" to
conclude the CD.
Whether unaccompanied at the piano or accompanied by guest singers,
Allen Toussaint impresses by his solidity at the piano that gives
new life to the songs performed.
Note especially the outstanding vocal performance of Rhiannon
Giddens for the two Duke Ellington covers, "Rocks In My Bed" and
Since we know that singer Gord Downie is
suffering from brain cancer, fans were hoping for a quick new album
from The Tragically Hip.
So here is finally Man Machine Poem, four years after their
previous album, Now For Plan A. As this is probably their
last record, it takes a special significance and we certainly listen
to it differently.
From the first track, "Man", there is a little more experimental and
We are far from the arena rock of their best years, what fans would
have liked for this last record.
One feels a certain melancholy and many themes obviously revolve
around mortality and regret of the past.
In this sense, Downie takes a little bit the formula of David Bowie
on his latest album, as he staged his own death.
Otherwise, it is somewhat less successful in the case of The
Several songs will seem too long and boring.
These are the lyrics that occupy the forefront with melodies that
sometimes seem improvised and music serves only as support, without
really remarkable riffs.
We still find some good moments, but nothing to bring back the
Ontario band in rock radios.
The Virginmarys is an English indie rock trio that
formed in 2009 and they now issue their third album. They have a
well assumed hard rock trend with a particularly dynamic rhythm
section and great guitar riffs. A somewhat aggressive attitude in
the genre of Billy Talent or garage punk reminiscent of
The Hives do not prevent the band to have effective melodies and
rhythms custom made for the stage. They are certainly very
entertaining to see in concert. Here is a group to listen to with
the volume turned up, but watch out for speeding on the road!
In June 2015, the Ontario band was performing on the
stage of the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. It is
this unique recording that is presented on this 60-minute CD. We can
hear some recent songs, but especially classics like "The Old
Apartment", "Brian Wilson", "One Week" and "If I Had $1,000,000". We
can also hear their version of Men At Work’s "Who Can It Be
Now". The sound quality is particularly exceptional and the band
appears at its best. Here is a good way to rediscover this great
After the Cole Porter recordings for
movies, the John Wilson Orchestra returns with those of the
Gershwin brothers, legendary George and Ira.
George Gershwin has always oscillated between jazz and classical
music and that is exactly what offers the John Wilson Orchestra with
light classical music punctuated by entertaining jazz. The 75-minute
album was recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, certainly a
magical evening considering the quality of the works offered. It
contains extracts from Girl Crazy, Funny Face, An
American in Paris, Shall We Dance and many more.
Listening to the applause after several pieces played, the crowd
seemed conquered. An excellent album for fans of light classical and
The legendary folk rocker remains as productive
despite his 70 years of age. After a first collaboration with
Promise of the Real in 2015 for
The Monsanto Years, they release a
double album of their performances of last year, on a background of
animal sounds and other atmospheres directly from the earth. In
fact, Earth is an album that is so raw that the music seems
to take the second place. We must even pump up the volume to get an
earful. The Nelson brothers (Willie's sons) are
struggling to give tone to this double CD that contains good songs
yet, but it is the animals that unfortunately steal the show. The
basic idea remains more than valid, but you do not buy a Neil Young
album for his animal recordings. Too bad!
Le duo électro français existe depuis déjà 20 ans
et pour l’occasion, on nous offre une compilation double des
meilleurs enregistrements de leur carrière. Twentyears
contient rien de moins que 31 titres totalisant plus de 133 minutes.
On y trouve évidemment leurs plus grands succès comme « Sexy Boy »,
« Alone in Kyoto » ou « La femme d’argent », mais on peut aussi
entendre des raretés et pièces jamais parues jusqu’à maintenant. On
peut aussi redécouvrir « The Duelist » mettant en vedette
Charlotte Gainsbourg et Jarvis Cocker. Le principal
défaut des deux CD est qu’ils présentent l’ensemble des pièces dans
un désordre total. Aussi, le livret manque de détails sur le groupe
et aurait grandement bénéficié d’une biographie. Malgré tout, cette
compilation complète brosse un bon portrait de la carrière d’Air
jusqu’à ce jour.
Five years after the split of Soul Coughing,
Mike Doughty had his first solo album with a group of musicians with
Haughty Melodic. The guitar is particularly present and for
the bass, he preferred an acoustic bass. Just like its title, the
melodies are very effective, making it certainly one of his most
accessible albums. Eleven years after its original release, this is
a CD reissue with two bonus tracks: "I'm Still Drinking In My
Dreams" and a demo version by Dan Wilson of "All the Time".
Haughty Melodic remains today the best album to discover Mike
Doughty in solo, since he was at his best.
The sixth album by Beyoncé was preceded a few months
ago by her unavoidable presence at Super Bowl halftime, thereby
creating some expectations. On Lemonade, Beyoncé definitely
does not feel the need to please at any cost and to invade
commercial radios. She is concentrated to do what she does best: to
produce remarkable songs by their creativity and demonstrating her
strong woman personality. She defends with conviction black women,
while denouncing men’s infidelities, but she also takes a social and
political position. She avoids all clichés, still managing to
surprise musically and on several occasions, such as in "Don’t Hurt
Yourself" where she is accompanied by Jack White leading
Beyoncé into so far uncharted territories. After a constant
construction, the album concludes with the inevitable strength of
"Freedom", "All Night" and "Formation". Guest artists include The
Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar and James Blake. You can
see a darker side to the artist on Lemonade, but it is an
important addition, even essential, to her discography. A couple of
plays are strongly suggested, but Lemonade will certainly be
among the best albums of the year. (June
2016 Featured Review)
Born in England, Michelle Willis grew up in Toronto.
She honed her art through numerous collaborations (including Iggy
Pop) and through her work as a studio keyboardist. She still
plays in different bands, but this is finally her first solo album,
See Us Through. A real songwriter album, it includes a folk
rock sound centered on keyboards, rather soft music that quickly
manages to capture our attention with beautiful melodies. A
remarkable album! (June 2016 Featured New
For his third album, the country singer takes a
direction a little more rock, inspired among other by the 1980s. In
fact, John Mellencamp comes quickly in mind. Frankie Ballard
also does a version of Bob Seger’s "You'll Accomp'ny Me", one
of the few ballads on the album, which releases energy for most of
it. Ballard has several great songs, all simple, but highly
effective. The sound of El Rio reminds perhaps John
Mellencamp, but his most memorable material including
Scarecrow. With this new record, Frankie Ballard offers his
most coherent and effective recording to date.
DJ Champion (aka Maxime Morin) is back
with his fourth album of original compositions. The CD begins
perhaps gently with "I Can’t Let Go," but it quickly turns then into
an album to party and, right from the second song, "Life Is Good".
These two tracks and two others had not found their spot on his
previous album, fitting less in the mood, but on Best Seller,
it was time to introduce them. In addition to his energizing beats
and the ubiquitous electric guitar, Champion still considers voice
as important since the performance of Betty Bonifassi on "No
Heaven", the hit that has made him famous. Here, the guest singers
are Lou Laurence, Marie-Christine Depestre and Anna
Frances Meyer all offering outstanding performances. Even with
very few words, Anna Frances Meyer manages to impress in "Boy Toy".
This is a solid album that offers again Champion, a perfect record
for the summer season.
For his 23rd album, Eric Clapton returns to
producer Glyn Johns, the very one who had produced
Slowhand in 1977. Otherwise, Clapton is not at all at the
same spot on I Still Do with a majority of sweet and touching
songs. There are a few moments of pure blues, as with the first
track, "Alabama Woman Blues", but that is no longer at the heart of
his work. The CD contains a majority of covers, blues, pop and folk
standards with songs from J.J. Cale, Robert Johnson,
Skip James, Bob Dylan, etc. The only two original
songs by Clapton, "Spiral" and "Catch the Blues", come to
beautifully complete the set. Some might say they would rather hear
an album of original songs, but the play of Clapton and his
interaction with Johns are simply magical. The result is a highly
enjoyable album to listen to that will find its significant number
When bassist Les Claypool joins singer and
guitarist Sean Lennon, it can only get to experimental and
creative material. That's what they decided to do last year and the
result is this 11-track collective delusion. Monolith of Phobos
is a rather surreal journey into a psychedelic progressive world.
Fortunately, despite constant experimentation, the duo managed to
concentrate their efforts to a still coherent sound in its madness.
Their music is centered around the bass of Claypool in an energetic
beat even if somewhat difficult to follow. It is a creative and
highly effective album that released this unusual duo.
and Shay Mooney decided to form a duo in Nashville in 2012.
Four years later, they release their second album, Obsessed,
a country pop record for a wide audience. In fact, with the number
of ballads that is included on the CD, Dan + Shay fall more easily
into an adult contemporary territory than country. The duo is
wrapped in sumptuous and syrupy arrangements, that are a little too
present since they remove all the intimate side of the duo that
might be interesting. After the successful "All Nighter" and "Road
Trippin'", Obsessed becomes rather filled with annoying and
The Dead Ships is a garage rock trio from Los
Angeles issuing their debut album after three years of intensive
tour across America. They pick some influences from The Strokes,
but also the Pixies, with a focus on an energetic and
powerful electric guitar. They certainly don’t revolutionize the
genre, but it is rather nice to hear a pure rock sound in 2016,
while the mix of genres is popular. Citycide is an honest and
efficient album that offers some very good times.
Two years after a remarkable first album, Paul
Deslauriers is back with a new record of energetic blues rock. This
time, the whole trio was put to work during the creative process.
These are 10 original songs that offer Deslauriers (guitar, vocals),
Greg Morency (bass) and Sam Harrisson (drums), with
lyrics by Paul Deslauriers, assisted by Alec McElcheran. The
contagious energy of the trio on stage is transposed to perfection
on this album which will certainly be among the best blues albums of
Awaited for a long time, here is the new album by
the Toronto rapper. Unfortunately, Views quickly leaves the
impression of a damp squib. First, it never seems to start with the
endless "Keep the Family Close" of 5 minutes 30. Then there is a
clear lack of catchy melodies, the sound is sometimes old and
especially, we know we have 20 tracks for a total of 81 minutes in
front of us! Even the most patient fans will struggle to get to the
end of this challenge, but it's still at the very end that are
probably the best times with the title song and the hit "Hotline
Bling". The only other entertaining part arrives at the 16th track
with "Too Good", a duet with Rihanna in a dancehall trend. It
is often said, but the foundation of music is to provide pleasure.
When it becomes difficult, it’s because they missed the goal... Even
for the lyrics Drake gets back with his recurring theme of his love
stories that go nowhere. Who cares? Drake had a successful debut
which created excitement around him. But frankly, it is probably
time to get over him as he proves more and more that he cannot be
compared to the best Americans (Kendrick Lamar and others).
On their two previous albums, the Los Angeles
band had rather retro R&B and soul influences. On this self-titled
album, Fitz and the Tantrums turn to a contemporary pop sound.
Danceable and generally perfect for radios, their music is certainly
very pleasant to listen to, with infectious anthems like the hit
"Handclap" and "Complicated". For this record, Michael
Fitzpatrick and his band collaborated with author Sam
Hollander (Katy Perry, Panic At The Disco, Neon
Trees). He has certainly contributed significantly to the group
by his sensitivity and ability with energetic programmed beats.
Producer Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Tegan and Sara)
has surely something to do with it too. An excellent album of dance
The Californian now living in New York presents a
superb blend of introspective songs on a vintage and quite
aggressive rock bottom. Her guitar dominates in many occasions, like
fighting with her nice voice. Margaret cites influences of Weezer
and we can indeed recognize the band's style in her way of playing
guitar at several times. Otherwise, the comparison stops there since
it generally proves to be much more introspective, with Fiona
Apple, for example, coming to mind. Blues influences are also
evident at other times. This is a very effective album that offers
us the American singer.
Since the late 1990s, a new album by the Goo Goo
Dolls is no longer creating much excitement. Now a duo formed of
John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, the Goo Goo Dolls release
their eleventh album on an environmental awareness background.
Otherwise, it is certainly the only modern element to the album that
has a sound from another era, a common pop rock of 20 years ago.
There are a few rhythms that can recall the hip hop of Twenty One
Pilots, but they are not very persuasive essays. The whole
remains mostly focused around ballads and mid-tempo tracks that
characterized the group for almost 20 years. So we are again far
from the aggressive alternative rock sound of their early years.
Some interesting melodies will probably manage to capture the
attention of a certain audience and by the way some radio stations.
But Boxes contains nothing more remarkable than what the
group has offered since the turn of the millennium.
The Floridian is back with her third album. Now
well established as a mature singer, Ariana Grande offers a very
nice mix of classic soul, 1990s pop and contemporary R&B. Producer
Max Martin and his Swedish colleague Ilya certainly
have something to do with this sound combining the present with the
past. It is in the dance songs that Ariana truly stands out, like
with "Be Alright". A little heavier R&B songs are also greatly
interesting. Among the collaborators there are Nicki Minaj,
Lil Wayne, Macy G and Future. With Dangerous
Woman, Ariana is able to offer us a more consistent album than
her previous one.
Since their debut album in 2009, the Quebec trio
has come a long way. Their music has indeed been heard in several
commercials and even in American series like The Blacklist,
The Middle and Awkward. For this new album, they have
in fact a compilation of all the songs recorded in Brooklyn with
producers Gus Van Go and Werner F (The Stills,
Trois Accords, Cowboys Fringants). Many of the 19
songs have already been heard regularly, starting with the excellent
hit "Je pense encore à toi" which played extensively in an
advertising for Bell Fibe, but also "Nouvelle-Angleterre" and "I'm
So Into You". You can hear famous names as contributors: James Di
Salvio (Bran Van 3000) and Ivan Doroschuk (Men
Without Hats). Hugo Clermont, Lorraine Muller and
Daniel Saucier offer us an energetic pop rock sound with
memorable melodies, music that appeals to everyone.
The trio from Wales releases their third album,
which they recorded at home after a long tour, probably in a desire
to reconnect with their early influences. But musically, The Joy
Formidable don’t really go away from what they offered before, with
their indie rock sound straight from the 1990s. They may have some
gothic influences with references from the past, but it remains they
manage to offer us very good melodies. Without equaling their
previous two albums, Hitch is an honest record their fans
will probably appreciate.
After the very successful
Blueprints two years ago, the
songwriter and guitarist comes back again with an album that is
somewhere between blues and folk.
Adam Karch has a mix of solo songs and in trio with his cronies
Marc-André Drouin (bass) and Bernard Deslauriers (drums).
We hear many original compositions, but also surprising versions as
Bob Seger’s "Night Moves", Keb 'Mo’s excellent "City
Boy" and Warren Zevon’s "Werewolves of London".
Karch redoes also one of his own songs in a very groovy version of
"Did You Get the Latest News", going back to 2002 and that could be
heard on his debut album,
Recorded in Montreal, Moving Forward shows Adam Karch at the
top of his game, a strong maturity gained in recent years on tour.
Again, this is an excellent album that has everything to please fans
of authentic music.
The indie folk band from Providence, Rhode Island
issues a fourth album that is full of ideas and experiments,
unfortunately not always successful.
Several songs are quite cacophonous and become difficult to bear
over their entire length.
For example, "Ozzie", which starts yet aggressively, almost rock 'n'
roll, is being slowed down for no apparent reason in the middle to
add all kinds of irrelevant and especially uninteresting effects.
This tribute to the Ozzfest could easily have become the anthem of
the album if they had not massacred it.
The Low Anthem definitely take aside folk to rather get lost in a
progressive rock sound of the 1970s mixed with electronic
experiments reminding of Radiohead (in quite less
Their break of the last five years was definitely not beneficial for
the band that dangerously strayed from what they did best.
If they had a profound desire to experiment, they had to propose a
parallel project, not a new album by The Low Anthem that will only
make their fans of before to get away.
On his new album in a trio version with Larry
Grenadier (bass) and Jeff Ballard (drums), pianist Brad
Mehldau plays seven standards of jazz, blues and pop ballads. There
are titles by Buddy Johnson, Cole Porter, Charlie
Parker, etc. One can even hear
The Beatles’ "And I
Love Her" and Paul McCartney’s "My Valentine". Everything is
played in an extremely soft acoustic jazz style. Without being as
audacious as some of his previous records for the choice of songs,
Mehldau has still made wise choices that align perfectly for 55
minutes. The album is listened with pleasure to the end, providing
excellent ambient music.
The Monkees are celebrating 50 years of career this
year. So it's a good time to issue a new album, 20 years after their
last studio recording. It is possibly their last album, but if
that's the case, what a good way to end a career like no other!
Good Times shows the style that made them so popular in the
mid-1960s with catchy songs that give us the desire for singing in
chorus. The quality of the compositions is impressive and even if
the style refers to the past, the sound remains well anchored in its
contemporary time. It's an album that is pleasant listening to the
end, with a smile and a certain nostalgia for the golden age of pop
music. Note collaborations of Rivers Cuomo and Noel
Gallagher, both fans of the band.
Mudcrutch was formed in 1970 with a 17-year old only
Tom Petty. Popular in bars, the band broke up before they
recorded a full-length album and they would pave the way for Tom
Petty & the Heartbreakers. The five musicians reunited in 2007
to record their first album and they are now back with its follower.
We quickly recognize the style of Tom Petty with a pop rock sound
tending to country and sad ballads. Unlike the previous record, it
only features original songs by each of the musicians, although with
a domination of Petty who wrote seven of the 11 tracks. One of the
highlights of the CD is offered by Tom Leadon with "The Other
Side of the Mountain". But the whole offers a nice consistency and
remains strong from beginning to end. This is actually the best
material by Tom Petty in years.
For his eighth album, the Quebecer from Gaspésie
returns to his English roots and issues his second album in the
language of Shakespeare, his first since 2007. Kevin Parent also
returns to his folk, country rock and blues roots. It is a trip to
Japan that inspired the title song of the new album, as well as
others to come on an upcoming album. For now, Parent was eager to
present the eight tracks that appeared during recording sessions in
Los Angeles. So it is a short album of 31 minutes, but with a wealth
rarely heard on his latest albums. We feel that the artist found
himself in a context where he was feeling particularly comfortable,
in the heart of his real musical universe. Kanji is an
extremely effective album which is sure to please his fans of the
Following his divorce from Miranda Lambert,
Blake Shelton is back with a slightly more luminous record than the
last one. He took the opportunity to present his new flame while
Gwen Stefani is accompanying him on "Go Ahead and Break My
Heart". The pop and romantic ballads dominate If I'm Honest,
and this is an album that will certainly be mostly for a wide
audience, not a country audience. Shelton seems specially to want to
join his new fans who knew him through The Voice. Of the 15
tracks available, some stand out as "Straight Outta Cold Beer",
"Came Here To Forget" and "Go Ahead and Break My Heart". Otherwise,
the whole can quickly become boring for both fans of the first hour
and true country fans. If I'm Honest proves to be rather
annoying and good luck to listen to the whole!
The legendary Paul Simon is back with a new album,
five years after the excellent
So Beautiful or So What. Stranger
to Stranger begins surprisingly with "The Werewolf", a song with
a single rhythm, based on bass, drums and maracas. This is by the
way an album primarily based on the beats that offers us Paul Simon
with only a pair of acoustic songs that stand out from the rest.
Despite his 50-year career, Simon is certainly not nostalgic and he
instead turns to the future. He will still succeed in surprising
many with the very effective Stranger to Stranger. Despite
its 37 minutes, that's a record to savor each piece until the end.
The American band has decided to pay tribute to
their favorite band, Led Zeppelin,
replaying their second album in full, the excellent Led Zeppelin
II, one of the best albums in history. Train are maybe going a
little too far otherwise in their desire to remain faithful to the
original as copying and mimicking all the expressions, all sounds,
even playing with the stereo effects as in 1969. This can be
confusing at times as if you’re not attentive enough you might think
that this is the original that is playing. So in that sense, we must
ask the question: was the exercise necessary? Certainly not since
you can always listen to the original that was even rereleased
recently. Train certainly could have put a bit of their personality
in it, but the result does not even look like their other material,
which may confuse fans of the band.
Trumpeter Cuong Vu played regularly with
guitarist Pat Metheny since the early 2000s. But, it's the first
time they work together for a whole album with the Cuong Vu trio.
Their collaboration for an avant-garde jazz album may seem odd at
first, but don’t forget the versatility of Metheny that can adapt to
different contexts. The quartet therefore offers modern jazz music
of great creativity, which certainly lacks no sound experiments. It
is a difficult album to approach at first but it has to be tamed
slowly, only to find that the universe of the two musicians blend
After the audacious book-double CD released last
year, Erik West Millette resumed service with the collective
West Trainz. This is again a musical tribute to trains that have
always been a passion for him. He is accompanied by first class
performers as Nanette Workman, Bïa, Emilie-Claire
Barlow, Betty Bonifassi, Thomas Hellman, Steve
Hill, and many others. Train Songs includes 11 songs from
the 1940s to the 1970s that evoke the railway universe. Classics can
be heard as Junior Parker’s "Mystery Train", Bobby
Robinson’s "Number 9 Train", Goffin and King’s "The
Jimi Hendrix’ "Hear My Train a Comin'", and even Félix
Leclerc’s "Le train du Nord" in the Bïa way. One can also
discover as first single Steve Goodman’s "The City of New
Orleans" by Zachary Richard. The set contains many pieces of
blues, but it also explores rock, jazz and pop music. A surprising and highly interesting album!
The alternative rock band with country trend from
Kentucky released the album It Still Moves in 2003. It was
their third studio album. Thirteen years later, it is reissued in a
remixed and remastered version, with a second bonus CD containing
previously unreleased material, including several demo versions. On
It Still Moves, My Morning Jacket offer us music that is not
without reminding us of Neil Young and The Band,
southern folk rock with a high quality. Several songs extend in
length with 12 tracks totaling 72 minutes, but it always seems
justified and rarely boring. Well built, the album is still among
the most interesting of their career.
In 2012, jazz guitarist Pat Metheny created the
Unity Band, that would grow later with the addition of
multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. This double album
recorded live at the Black Box Theatre in New York in 2014 is a
single recorded and filmed performance. The main feature of this
band is that their music is mostly based on the brass and rhythm
section, leaving at the same time less space for the guitar of
Metheny. In addition to the tracks of the two albums of the Unity
Band, there are pieces from Metheny’s long career that now spans 40
years. The style of the album goes from classic acoustic music with
more sustained rhythms, and even atmospheric world music. There's
something for everyone in a very nice listening ensemble, despite
nearly two hours of music.
Several compilations of The Cars music have been
issued over the years, but nothing really worth to be compared to
Complete Greatest Hits. That 20-track collection was
covering the best of the band's career in chronological order in
addition to having a detailed booklet. For Moving in Stereo: The
Best of The Cars, Ric Ocasek and his band have instead
decided to include a few rarities, including a live song,
"Everything You Say". There are 18 in total, but it lacks several
important hits whose excellent "Good Times Roll", "Magic" and "Bye
Bye Love". In addition, there is no timeline on the album, which
makes it much less interesting than
Complete Greatest Hits. You can always rely on the best ones
like "Just What I Needed", "You Might Think", "Shake It Up", "Drive"
and "Tonight She Comes", but the fact remains that it is not a
greatest hits collection covering their entire career.
The Angry Birds Movie (Original Motion Picture
To accompany the animated film Angry Birds,
they have assembled a rather eclectic mix of artists, styles and
even eras. We can find indeed hits from the 1980s as Rick Astley’s
("Never Gonna Give You Up") and Scorpions’ ( "Rock You Like a
Hurricane"), a heavier song with Limp Bizkit, as well as
contemporary artists like Imagine Dragons and Steve Aoki.
Some songs were written for the film and you can discover new
compositions by Blake Shelton, Demi Lovato and
Charli XCX. This is primarily a compilation for fans of the
film, since there are no guidelines.
The release in Canada of the latest album by the
prince of music takes on a special meaning as it comes out eight
days after his death. The prolific composer has not slowed down in
recent years, although his health was worsening. HITnRUN Phase
Two is indeed his fourth album since 2014 for a total
approaching 40 in career. Less pop than
Phase 1, HITnRUN Phase Two presents funk and soul
recalling The Revolution. We can also hear jazz moments and
an energetic rock song in "Screwdriver". Although it is very
eclectic, the record has very good passages, possibly his best
assemblage of songs since
3121issued 10 years ago.
Prince may be gone, but we can bet that many unreleased recordings
are lying around in a drawer, because he was composing and recording
constantly in his studio in Minneapolis. So you should see
unreleased material by Prince released in the coming years.
Meanwhile, enjoy the last good album that he offered.
(May 2016 Featured Review)
Ferraro is a quartet from Toronto formed of brothers Cosmo,
Gianni and Tally Ferraro, accompanied by guitarist
Tom Ionescu. They propose an indie rock sound that reminds
The Strokes, but is heavily inspired by rock's golden age with
many references to the 1950s and 1960s, specially the
Their music is upbeat and the energizing effect is immediate.
Losing Sleep proves to be particularly contagious and it
certainly makes you want to see them on stage. Bet you'll have many
of the 10 songs of the album in mind for a long time. The only
problem with Losing Sleep is that it is too short with only
32 minutes. (May 2016 Featured New Artist)
The Canadian duo formed of the brothers John
and James Abrams has already released three albums under the
name of Abrams Brothers. They are now taking a direction a
little less country to offer a rather folk rock sound to pop trend,
much more oriented towards a wide audience. This self-titled EP
features six tracks to greatly catchy melodies that will make them
immediately appealing to fans of Mumford & Sons and The
Lumineers. This is a beautiful card to open doors wide at
commercial radios. (May 2016)
The Blue Man Group was formed 25 years ago in New
York City. Designed primarily for the stage, the project has also
brought original music and this is the third studio album offered by
the band of men in blue. Completely instrumental, their music is
rather experimental, with the use of many instruments created by
them, especially percussion. Their music is pleasant to listen to by
itself, but we must say that their very visual shows are lacking
greatly. It's best to have already seen their colorful shows, which
is giving a new dimension to the album.
After a career of more than 20 years, the
Californian metal band continues to offer this heavy and dark music,
put forward by the title of the album, Gore. Otherwise, the
front cover with pink flamingos seems to create a dichotomy with the
themes explored by the quintet. Deftones have still entrusted the
production of the album to Matt Hyde who had worked on their
previous album. Chino Moreno is riding between a voice of
great beauty and a demonic voice, showing at the same time all his
versatility. It's always on a wire that the group seems to be
frolicking between attractive and repulsive music, between
mainstream and music for metal specialists. On some occasions, the
group honors the past of metal with riffs worthy of Judas Priest
or Iron Maiden. But in general, the Deftones guys remain
fairly well anchored in the 21st century. Gore is an album
that deftly evolves to reach its peak in the middle with
"Hearts/Wires", "Pittura Infamante" and "Xenon". They still finish
strongly with the title track, the excellent "Phantom Bride" (with
Jerry Cantrell on guitar) and "Rubicon". In fact, the weak
moments are rare and you have to listen to the album as a whole to
truly appreciate the quality of the work. A great record!
Virtuoso pianist Lorraine Desmarais offers a new
album of original compositions for big band. This is her first
record for big band since
Lorraine Desmarais Big Band which won a Félix (in Quebec) in
2009. Danses Danzas Dances is the 12th
album of her career. On this new album, she makes a tour of the
world in dances with the best jazz musicians in Montreal. She is
accompanied by Jean-Pierre Zanella (alto and soprano
saxophones, flute), Alexandre Côté (alto saxophone, flute),
Jean Fréchette (baritone saxophone, clarinet), Ron Di
Lauro (trumpet, flugelhorn), Richard Gagnon (trombone),
Bob Ellis (bass trombone), Frédéric Alarie (double
bass), and many others. This is first the tango that gave her the
will of writing dance pieces, but there are also on the album a
triple swing, a habanera, a milonga, a romantic bolero, a samba,
etc. There are 10 in all totaling 57 minutes. Even if everything is
not necessarily danceable, it is a real treat for the ears and a
must for any jazz lover.
Escondido is a duo from Nashville formed of
Tyler James and Jessica Maros. They offer a pop rock
sound tinged with some country touches and even Mexican music.
Following the excellent album
The Ghost of Escondido
issued in 2013, the duo now returns with its second record. Again,
they present several excellent songs in a consistent whole and which
is pleasant to listen to. Jessica's voice seduces us quickly, from
the first track, "Footprints".
The Scottish band is back with its fifth studio
album. Masterfully produced by Aaron Dessner (The National),
the album manages to carry the rather introspective indie rock sound
of the band into a much larger atmosphere. They are found here
somewhere between The Killers and Arcade Fire. There
are still some good more intimate mid-tempo songs, but the whole is
distinguished by its fast catching power. This is certainly their
most accessible album to date, yet perhaps their strongest, with
several prominent compositions. One only needs to mention the four
tracks that start the album, "Death Dream", "Get Out", "I Wish I Was
Sober" and "Woke Up Hurting". With Painting of a Panic Attack,
there is no doubt that Frightened Rabbit just made their entrance
into the big leagues. Let’s see what will happen next.
The Irish band offer us their second album. The
Gloaming still present their mix of Irish traditional music,
contemporary classical, post-rock, jazz and experimental music. So
it's definitely not common music they propose whereas they are
absolutely incomparable. Violinist Martin Hayes points out
that this second record is even more expressive and emotionally
charged than the first one. Maybe a little more rooted in
traditional music than the previous one, The Gloaming 2
offers once more an extraordinary musical experience.
The English singer and songwriter is back with
her first album in five years. She offers again a raw sound with a
mix of blues and rock, with elements of jazz and even spirituality.
As on her previous album,
Let England Shake, the best
moments remain her emotional passages looking back on the disasters
of war. Otherwise, occasionally, she seems to denounce a bit for
free, or even to accuse by pointing us. If there is a feeling that
we don’t want when listening to music, it's really to feel judged...
In this sense, some songs like "Medicinals" make us lose the
interest in this rather unequal set where the artist takes only a
position of an observer. We heard much more satisfying and personal
stuff from PJ Harvey in the past.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is an
Australian band formed five years ago. Very prolific, they already
have a fifth album since 2014 only, and none can be compared to the
previous one. They offer a particularly creative psychedelic
alternative rock sound. On Nonagon Infinity, they seem able
to channel their various experiments of the last albums in a set a
little more consistent. The nine pieces that make up the album (for
a total of 42 minutes) were created to be listened to at once
without breaks, like an endless music loop. The result is certainly
mesmerizing with a fast pace that rarely stops, each track taking up
a part of the previous one. At the beginning of the CD, we find
traces of 1970’s metal like Black Sabbath and Blue Oÿster
Cult. Thereafter, it is rather a mixture of old progressive rock
as Frank Zappa and more contemporary prog rock as the
Flaming Lips, with also some jazz elements. Here is a creative
group which has to be discovered at any price, especially with this
For the first time, Lorraine Klaasen has a French
song, the title track of her new album. The rest of Nouvelle journée (New
day) contains songs in English, but also in tribal languages of
her native South Africa (Tsonga, Sotho,
Isizulu et Xhosa). Lorraine pays tribute to
her mother, Thandie Klaasen, performing "Izani Nonke" one of
her most critical songs against the elected officials who govern us.
The singer also presents "Where to Now", a soulful ballad she had
written nearly 30 years ago imploring compassion and condemning
greed. On Nouvelle journée,
Lorraine Klaasen again offers an excellent blend of world music and
soul for a sunny, positive and danceable record.
The one that was the rival of Madonna in the
1980s for the title of Queen of Pop makes a true musical "detour" on
this album. Cyndi Lauper offers indeed her favorite country
standards from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. If her voice fits well to
the exercise, her interpretations have nothing very bright and one
wonders if this is an album that was needed. You can hear some
interesting moments as "Funnel of Love", "Heartaches by the Number"
and "Hard Candy Christmas" in conclusion. Otherwise, the whole
proves somewhat disjointed and would probably be more interesting on
stage in a musical revue. Detour is primarily for Cyndi a
record to pleasure herself. Note the presence of renowned guest
artists as Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Jewel,
Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris (for the title track).
Ontario singer has once again decided on Midnight
Machines to drop her electronic dimension to rather offer an
acoustic album. A tradition that continues now with each of her
albums, it's mostly new versions of songs from
Little Machines issued in 2014, and
two new songs, "Follow You Down" and "Head Cold". There are only
eight in all for a total of around 40 minutes. A string section adds
richness and magic to the album that manages to conquer us promptly
with its warm atmosphere. In fact, one might even say that Lights is
at her best in this context. A very fine record!
Following the separation of the Great Bloomers,
the Canadian singer embarked on a solo career from which this is the
first album. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, Tim Moxam has a
very nice mix between folk music and country rock. Soft Summer
contains highly personal songs, many that were living a long time
already and have been remodeled several times. Moxam was finally
able to complete them and offer them on record. Although these songs
are from different times in his life, he managed to make a coherent
whole, cemented by his unique personality. If you like the country
folk genre, the whole album is great to listen to, all in softness.
Meghan Patrick is a country singer from Ontario
who arrives with her first album, Grace & Grit. She started
as the lead singer of the bluegrass group The Stone Sparrows.
She offers highly energetic contemporary country pop music, to which
is added her powerful voice. Among the contributors to the album,
there is Chad Kroeger who co-wrote and produced several
tracks including the first single, "Bow Chicka Wow Wow". There is
also Joe Nichols who sings a duet with Meghan on "Still Loving You".
It is a very effective first album that Meghan Patrick gives us, and
she may well become the next Shania Twain.
Royal Tusk is a band from Edmonton releasing their
first full-length album. Produced by Eric Ratz (Big Wreck,
Monster Truck, Arkells, Billy Talent),
Dealbreaker offers an energetic contemporary rock sound. Their
rock 'n' roll side is not without reminding us of Billy Talent
on several occasions. They also have energy like Collective Soul,
a band for which they are opening for a few concerts. Without
overflowing creativity, Royal Tusk offers lively and entertaining
The Brasil Session is the third album from the Montreal’s songwriter
and performer born in Haiti. Vox Sambou is flawlessly blending the
genres for rich world music of diverse influences. As its title
indicates, we can of course hear Brazilian music, but we also find
elements of rock from various origins, traditional rhythms,
Afro-Latin elements, reggae and rap. The lyrics change between
English, French, Spanish and Creole. With The Brasil Session,
the one who is very involved with local teens in the Côte-des-Neiges
district in Montreal solidifies his leadership position in Canada’s
new world music.
Born in Mozambique, this neo-Montrealer presents a
mixture of acoustic music, rock and electro, incorporating rhythms
and lyrics inspired by his roots. It is therefore mixed world music
that has all the necessary groove to appeal to a wide audience. With
his first single, "LOL", Samito proves his talent as a melodist. His
lyrics pass from English to Portuguese through TSWA. On this first
album of eight tracks can be heard many energetic and lively moments
that will satisfy the most demanding fans. It is only a pity that
the whole lasts only 27 minutes.
The young songwriter and singer from Regina,
Saskatchewan picks his influences in Neil Young, Elliott
Smith and Wilco. But, he managed to create greatly his
own fantasy world on The Party. He offers sophisticated pop
music, usually acoustic but still with rich arrangements. Some songs
stand out from the lot as "The Magician" and "The Worst in You", but
the whole should be listened carefully a few times to be totally
digested. The reward will be even better as it is certainly one of
the best Canadian albums to be released since the beginning of 2016.
Born in the Lac-Mégantic region, Quebec, Kyra
Shaughnessy is a poet, songwriter and singer who made a career for
ten years. On her third album, conceived with producer Dany
Placard, she still offers folk music, but integrating sounds and
influences from Ireland, West Africa and the First Nations. She
alternates between French and English (also with Irish Gaelic), and
she operates in an enveloping atmosphere. The beautiful arrangements
enrich the set that perfectly highlights the pure voice of Kyra.
is a beautiful album, both personal and universal.
The indie band from Toronto certainly never
thought about invading radios with an instant hit. That is what
happened with the first single from Hope, "Spirits", a pop
rock song that is totally unforgettable. Simon Ward and his
band finally managed to produce their real anthem they will have to
play for the rest of their career. The rest of the album offers a
mix of indie pop, folk and rock. Other tracks compare favorably with
"Spirits". This is particularly the case for the next one, "Shovels
& Dirt", whose chorus with a choir has the same addictive potential.
The Strumbellas present an album that is mostly addictive and it
will certainly make you sing along.
The American country singer is back with his
second album, You Should Be Here. From the first song, "Flatliner",
he is accompanied by Dierks Bentley, to give some energy to
the beginning of the album. Otherwise, he returns immediately to a
mid-tempo song with little interest in "Middle of a Memory". It's a
bit the feeling that we will have throughout the CD with several
songs that are easy to ignore between mid-tempo songs and ballads.
It is always the catchy songs that are the most successful for Cole
Swindell, but he has unfortunately only a few. Those who had loved
his first album will not be too destabilized while this is the same
recipe on You Should Be Here.
With over 50 years of career, the 68-year old
Montrealer is a true folk legend who played with the greatest
including the extended McGarrigle/Wainwright family. Chaim
Tannenbaum was involved on more than 20 albums, either as a
multi-instrumentalist musician and as a producer. Otherwise, he
releases his first solo album. "Finally", would say his friends and
admirers. The album contains 13 tracks of traditional folk music,
totally acoustic. A retired professor of philosophy, Tannenbaum now
lives in New York City. It will be possible to hear him in concert
in Montreal on June 9 at the Upstairs.
Victoria + Jean are a duo from Brussels
presenting their first album with Divine Love. For the
occasion, they are surrounded by an impressive list of producers:
Ian Caple (Tricky, Kate Bush), John Parish
(PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp), Rob Kirwan (Depeche
Christopher Berg (The Knife, Fever Ray, Depeche
Mode), Joe Hirst (Florence + the Machine, Stone
Roses, M.I.A.) and Alistair Chant (PJ Harvey).
Their music is based on the haunting voice of Victoria and the
electric guitar of Jean. Note that Victoria and Jean, who also are a
couple in life, wanted to produce a music video for each of the 12
songs of the album. The result is like a collection of short films,
each more interesting than each other. Here is a convincing first
album by this Belgian duo of great talent.
Take All My Loves is
not his first foray into the world of Shakespeare, but in this case,
Rufus Wainwright presents a clever mix between his chamber pop
music, opera and readings. Three sonnets have already appeared on
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu,
but they are presented here in new arrangements. We find 16 tracks
in all so, many poems are found in two different versions. Among the
guest artists, first note opera singer Anna Prohaska, but
also Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Martha
Wainwright and Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine).
BBC Symphony Orchestra also made many appearances. Some fans
might be disappointed not to hear Wainwright sing very often on the
album, but he rather acts as the conductor of a varied album which
is designed primarily to highlight the work of Shakespeare. In fact,
Wainwright especially proves his versatility as a musician and
arranger. A beautiful album full of creativity!
After 10 years of career, the indie rock band
from Vancouver finally seems to truly take off with this fourth
album. Really dynamic, Paradise quickly captures our
attention with catchy rhythms, despite a rock sound that has nothing
conventional. Their punk and noise roots are in fact never far away,
with also some experiments on guitar, balancing between punk and
metal. The voice of Mish Barber-Way stands out throughout the
CD, despite a squeaky guitar and outstanding rhythm section. The
influences of Hole and the Pixies are obvious, but
White Lung seem to have finally found their own way. Too bad we only
have 10 tracks totaling 28 minutes. We have no choice: we must
listen to it in loop, but it will be with pleasure! A superb album,
Forever is the
first album by indie rock band from Winnipeg, Yes We Mystic. The
group offers a mix of brit pop we can compare to Radiohead
and Coldplay with a Montreal introspective indie sound like
Patrick Watson and Wolf Parade. The album has in fact
been produced by Jace Lasek who worked with the last two. The
band also integrates other influences like folk and orchestral pop
music that can sometimes recall Arcade Fire. This is a really
interesting and surprising debut record that is offered to us by Yes
We Mystic, a band to watch closely.
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
(Remastered Version) (2 CD)
In 1985, Genesis drummer reached peaks in
solo with his most popular album in career, No Jacket Required,
winner of a Grammy for Album of the Year. It was including huge hits
that are often considered anthems of the 1980s: "Sussudio", the
ballad "One More Night", "Don’t Lose My Number" and "Take Me Home".
More than 30 years later, here is a reissue of the album, remastered
and with a bonus second CD. On the CD entitled Extra Large Jacket
Required, one can discover 10 live tracks, most of them taken
from the album, but also the hit "Easy Lover" with Philip Bailey.
The CD ends with three demo versions of "Only You Know and I Know",
"One More Night" and "Take Me Home". If his first album,
Face Value, is considered by many to
be his masterpiece, No Jacket Required was certainly the most
important album of the career of Phil Collins, to the point he could
never get such success thereafter. No Jacket Required
represents the best of the 1980s pop rock. Note that most of Phil
Collins albums were
reissued in recent months with a second bonus CD, including
Face Value, Hello I Must Be Going, Both Sides and
Many Anglophone artists recorded a song in the
language of Molière during their career. These are 14 of those songs
that are assembled on this unique compilation. In some cases, these
are French song covers like "La vie en rose" by Grace Jones,
"Tous les garçons et les filles" by
Eurythmics, "La complainte de la butte"
by Rufus Wainwright and "Avec le temps"
by Belinda Carlisle. In other cases, there is a French
version of one of their hits like "Waterloo" by ABBA,
"Heroes" by David
Bowie, "Diamond Sun" by Glass Tiger and "Sunday Girl"
by Blondie. Finally, some songs were written in French as "Embrasse-moi"
by Sam Roberts, the excellent "Jolie Louise" from Daniel
Lanois first album and "Quand je pense à toi"
which was written by Chris de Burg specifically for the
Quebec market. Can also be heard on the album Julio Iglesias,
Olivia Newton-John and Elton John. Here is a nice
blend of French material by superstars of pop music.
Ten years have passed since her last solo album,
but now Gwen Stefani finally releases her third record. This long
break was marked by her children, but especially by her divorce from
Gavin Rossdale (Bush). We quickly hear it on This
Is What The Truth Feels Like when a handful of songs are about
liberation ("Used To Love You", "Me Without You", etc.). Musically,
she has a modern pop sound, but with trends that are a little too
adult at times. Her dance rhythms are certainly approaching Kylie
over new pop sensations. Rock is unfortunately wiped out and the
fans of the first hours of No Doubt are not likely to be
concerned. They will wait for the new album from their favorite band
to come soon, but with a man instead of Gwen, Davey Havok (AFI)!?
To return to this new album, after several mid-tempo songs without
much interest, Gwen goes head first into club music focused on bass
and produced to perfection. Even if we finally get a bit of
excitement, it's nothing to convince us of the relevance of this new
record, and the chance to return immediately to the first song are
slim. Gwen certainly has quality pop music, but she fails to stand
out as much as we would have liked. (April
2016 Featured Review)
After having become well known with his samplings
of the Beach Boys, Nathan Jenkins issues his first
album of original music. The London producer has since gone from hip
hop beats to much more electro pop music. This does not mean that he
has become accessible either. Instead, the music of Bullion remains
rather left field with some good beats, but especially the need to
listen carefully to what he has to offer us if we really want to
adhere to his work. Otherwise, once you put an effort, you can only
be convinced of the effectiveness of his compositions. Do not expect
anything for radios, but his electro pop sound with new wave
influences, sometimes reminding Gary Numan (the excellent
"Speed"), should get to seduce you. Occasional Brass integration
also helps to make his music earthier. Here is a very good example
that hybrid music of the 2010s can be particularly creative and just
as enjoyable to listen to. Bullion offers unique atmospheric music.
(April 2016 Featured New Artist)
After five years of absence, the US band is back
on record. But, they have two important members in less following
the departure of guitarist Matt Roberts (a founding member)
and longtime bassist Todd Harrell, who had to be replaced.
Also, to give life to the music of the band that became frankly
Time of My Life, they hired
producer Matt Wallace. In this sense, it is successful since
the group returns to energetic rhythms, powerful choruses and riffs
to fill stadiums in their way. Otherwise, forget creativity with 11
songs that remind all Nickelback. It becomes quickly
annoying, as soon as with the first songs, "The Broken" and "In the
Dark". 3 Doors Down have perhaps never been geniuses of creation,
but now they don’t have any more inspiration. The only positive
think: Us and the Night does not do us sleep as their
previous CD, even managing to make us stomp on occasion.
After a dozen years in an independent career of
each other, the brother and sister finally meet on the same album.
They had collaborated on different records from each other and had
tour together, but The Family Album is a first joint
recording. They have five new songs, two of Matthew and three of
Jill, in a country folk style. The six other songs of the album are
covers carefully chosen from a repertoire of folk from the 1960s and
1970s. These include Townes Van Zandt’s "If I Needed You" and
Neil Young’s "Comes a Time". We can also hear the English
version of Leonard Cohen’s "La complainte du partisan". The
album was masterfully produced by Michael Piersante (Willie
Nelson, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Elvis Costello)
and you can discover both their Canadian folk and Americana
influences. Although they remain highly effective independently of
each other, it seems that Matthew and Jill gain strength when they
The English artist Bibio (his real name is
Stephen Wilkinson) is cleverly mixing electronics and acoustics
for a unique electro folk indie sound. On A Mineral Love, he
explores again modern music of the 21st century, but joining it with
a R&B and funk atmosphere carrying us straight to the 1970s. He left
aside sampling to play real songs in the studio. That's when he uses
old synthesizers or a funky guitar from another era that he is at
his best. Bibio offers us music in sweetness and subtlety that
creates a very special and extremely pleasant atmosphere. Among the
collaborators to the album, there are Gotye, Olivier St
Louis and Wax Stag.
The pianist and composer from Québec releases his
debut album of neo-classical or contemporary classical. It is a
minimalist album on which only the piano is expressed. Through eight
tracks totaling 27 minutes, he managed to do admirably in spending
emotion. It's like a movie playing in front of our eyes. Jean-Michel
Blais will certainly become a widely recognized artist.
After a first album of great efficiency with
Hunt and Chase, the young Ontario
female artist returns with a successful record on which she extends
a little bit her scope with strong pop melodies on a background
ranging between folk, indie pop and more adult alternative music.
She increases her level of creativity by taking her own personality
and offering an album that really belongs to her. A very nice
accomplishment for this young artist with infinite talent... And
what a pleasure to hear her voice again!
The singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia releases his debut
album with Telluric. He offers a mixture of pop rock and
rather introspective adult alternative rock. Names like Jack
Johnson and Josh Rouse may come to mind, but Corby has a
distinctive voice and a unique phrasing. He presents an album with
11 songs totaling 46 minutes and the whole remains fairly consistent
until the end with some very good times.
The indie psychedelic band from Los Angeles
releases the fourth album of their career. For the occasion, the
formation of 10 musicians has changed its creative process by
locking everyone in the same room to write and record. This results
in an overall work that is a little more consistent, despite surges
of some instruments or voices which sometimes emerge oddly from the
lot. But these spasms respond after all to their desire to introduce
almost experimental psychedelic music. Jazz impulses also come to
garnish the whole that is rather indefinable. Although they seem to
succeed to tighten their work, the fact remains that the Magnetic
Zeros have a messy sound still standing out as if we were listening
to a huge unstoppable jam. We must therefore have the ability to
enter their eclectic universe to truly appreciate Person A.
Issued without warning, untitled unmastered
contains eight demos that are only numbered and dated. From the
dates, we understand that most of this material was recorded during
the studio sessions for the excellent album
To Pimp a Butterfly released in
2015. With an album of such a strength, it’s not surprising that
"the remaining" is still as effective. But above all, the eight
tracks are linked together into a coherent whole, very pleasant to
listen. The music is accompanying beautifully Lamar’s lyrics dealing
primarily with extinction and survival. His hip hop sound is still
soft but catchy, and it seems to be inspired from jazz and soul on
many occasions. Vocally, he is supported at various times by
Bilal and Cee Lo Green. Even if Lamar introduces this
album as a CD of demos, the fact remains that he once again managed
a feat with a record of high quality. Kanye West perhaps
should learn from the humility of Kendrick Lamar instead of
promising the best album ever.
Formed in 2013, the young quartet from Montreal
releases its second album, Comfortable Scars. Lost Love offer
a melodic pop punk sound that goes straight to the point. The 11
catchy songs talk about the importance of making peace, to find
comfort and painful moments of the past. In fact, they talk about
topics of their generation, which has nothing to do with the
claimant punk of another era. With less than 32 minutes,
Comfortable Scars certainly manages to make you have fun,
without much effort.
Kevin Morby was first known as a member of two
Brooklyn bands, The Babies and Woods. Now based in Los
Angeles, he worked in solo since 2013. Singing Saw is his
third album and Morby is increasing the scope of his sound with the
addition of keyboards, trumpet and electronics. This is still
alternative rock music by a songwriter with a unique voice.
Otherwise, his music takes on another dimension here, pleasantly
gaining wealth. This new sound allows us to appreciate even more the
quality of Kevin Morby’s compositions. It's like he is going to
another level. Here is a unique album, which is likely to be among
the best of the year.
Motel Raphaël is a female indie pop trio from
Montreal that was formed in 2012. They are advantageously compared
with Tegan and Sara, Feist and Arcade Fire.
After a first rather folk album, Motel Raphaël takes a completely
new direction on System with more complex compositions. The
14 songs are finely linked together to form a coherent whole that is
so nice to listen to. Their tasty vocal harmonies add to the whole
which is particularly exciting. Here is an excellent album by a band
that we have not heard the last!
Canadian David Myles represents certainly one of
the best mixes of pop, folk and soul, somewhere between Justin
Timberlake and James Taylor. With the Here Now EP,
he moved more than ever in the pop world with six catchy songs with
unforgettable melodies. He collaborated again with Classified
for the production of the album, in addition to delivering a verse
on the touching "Don’t Leave It Up To Me". This excellent record
comes to us to make us wait while a French album should be released
in spring 2017.