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MARCH 2015

 

Featured Review:  BJÖRK    Featured New Artist:  EMILE HAYNIE

 

March 22-28:

Fences - Curtis Nowosad - Joel Plaskett - Real McKenzies

 

March 15-21:

eAST eND rADICALS - oF mONTREAL - pURITY rING - Steven Wilson

 

Women's Day Special Edition:

Cécile Doo-Kingué - Kensico - Diana Krall - Dom La Nena - Sleater-Kinney

Previous Reviews: Sarah MacDougall - Charli XCX

In Brief: Bettye LaVette - Shania Twain

 

March 1-7:

Chris de burgh - Helen Callus - Tom Cochrane - Drake - bob Dylan - Fall Out Boy -

Lupe Fiasco - Marilyn Manson - Ne-Yo - sOUNDS OF THE 80s - Rye Coalition (DVD)

 

Reviews coming up next month:

mADONNA - kID rOCK - Marina and the Diamonds - Kendrick Lamar - wILL bUTLER

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

 

 

         

         

         

 

       

     

 

 

Buy Music CDs at CD Universe. Audio Samples and Reviews Available on Music New Releases

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Björk – Vulnicura

BjörkVulnicura

With Vulnicura, the creative Icelandic certainly presents her most intense album in a long time. She takes us back into her special atmosphere, but this time, she will drown us completely in it. Broken hearts, don’t stop here because she could make you cry all the tears you have! Musically, we obviously recognize the unique style of Björk, a trip hop sound when the electro still dominates. Forget the dance songs that have made her successful at her debut; on Vulnicura, Björk rather remains in trippy atmospheres. Despite the fact that the talented artist has presented interesting concepts in recent years (Medulla, Volta, Biophilia), it remains that it is when she opens to us to introduce her raw emotions that she seems at her best. We may have to thank the end of her relationship of many years with Matthew Barney, certainly the major inspiration behind Vulnicura. Arca and Haxan Cloak as producers may also have a little something to do with this dark record which fortunately ends on a hopeful note with "Quicksand". The result is the best album of Björk since Homogenic in 1997, even if it is perhaps the saddest record of her career.

One Little Indian

     

   

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Emile Haynie – We Fall

Emile HaynieWe Fall

Emile Haynie is a singer, songwriter and producer from Buffalo who presents his first album with We Fall. He offers a pop rock sound with indie and baroque influences, even if he has worked in the past with several hip hop artists such as Eminem, Ghostface Killah and Kid Cudi. He also produced pop music artists like Pink, OneRepublic and Bruno Mars. Very cinematic and orchestral, his music is inspired by the psychedelic pop of the 1960s and also by soul music. Many of his sources of inspiration are working on the album including Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Wyatt (Fires of Rome), Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Colin Blunstone (The Zombies). You can also hear Lana Del Rey, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lykke Li, Randy Newman, Julia Holter, Father John Misty, and more. With We Fall, Emile Haynie presents an album of great creativity and extremely pleasant to listen to. A beautiful discovery!

Interscope / Universal

½

   

 

MARCH 22-28:

 

 Fences – Lesser Oceans

FencesLesser Oceans

Fences is the stage name of Chris Mansfield which had first become known in Seattle. After an eponymous album in 2010, he is finally back with his second album, Lesser Oceans. He offers an indie rock sound with a very strong pop tendency thanks to melodies with great efficiency. On this second record, he offers several gems including "Songs about Angels" and "The Lake". Don’t forget "Arrows" starring Ryan Lewis and Macklemore. With 10 tracks totaling just under 34 minutes, Lesser Oceans presents very few disappointing moments for an excellent CD to the end.

Elektra / Warner

½

 

 Curtis Nowosad – Dialectics

Curtis NowosadDialectics

The jazz drummer born in Winnipeg and now based in New York releases his second album in Dialectics. Curtis Nowosad is accompanied for the occasion by Jimmy Greene on saxophone, Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Steve Kirby on bass and Will Bonness on piano. Mainly made of original pieces, the album also includes interpretations of Thelonious Monk ("Bye-Ya"), Wayne Shorter ("Speak No Evil") and Mercer/Schertzinger ("I Remember You"). Considered one of the leading jazz albums to watch in this early year 2015 by Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen, Dialectics certainly meets expectations with rich contemporary jazz extremely interesting to the end.

Cellar Live

½

 

 Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test – Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test

Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test – Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test

The Canadian singer is back with a new album on which he is searching more than ever his place in society. Accompanied by talented musicians, Plaskett has himself produced this ninth album in his studio in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It includes several collaborators including Mo Kenney, Dave Marsh, Chris Pennell, Tim Brennan, Ian McGettigan and JP Cormier. Plaskett mixes styles with elements of folk, country, rock and pop. One of the most effective songs on the record is certainly the excellent "On a Dime", with a powerful and totally unforgettable chorus. Several other choruses have also this melodic simply captivating power. Here is a very good album by this Canadian troubadour.

Pheromone / SIX

½

 

The Real McKenzies – Rats in the Burlap

The Real McKenziesRats in the Burlap

The Canadian Celtic punk band is back with a greatly energetic album. The Real McKenzies, who have 23 years of existence, have indeed lost none of their enthusiasm through all these years touring relentlessly. Without reinventing the genre, they are able however to offer us much more good songs that will meet their fans as much as those of the Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues. Rats in the Burlap has a raw energy that proves to be extremely appreciated.

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 

MARCH 15-21:

 

East End Radicals – Zero Hour

East End RadicalsZero Hour

East End Radicals is a punk quartet from Montreal that does not hesitate to denounce with political or social texts that remain close to the people, the working class. On Zero Hour, they have 12 energetic tracks in addition to including the 4 pieces of the Generation Checkout EP. We can hear influences of Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys, but the group has a rock 'n' roll energy that is unique to them like the excellent "Let's Get Back", "Whistleblower" and "Forgotten Society".

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom

Of MontrealAureate Gloom

Kevin Barnes and his band are back with a new album that takes a little more personal tangent. Indeed, it was written following the separation of Barnes and his wife after 10 years together. With Aureate Gloom, the quintet explores a little more the psychedelic rock sound of the 1960s and 1970s, with obvious influences of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Patti Smith. The only song on the album that is not personal to Barnes is the opening track, "Bassem Sabry", titled after the name of the Egyptian journalist and activist who died in 2014 under mysterious circumstances. Despite the sometimes difficult subjects, Aureate Gloom offers several good energetic and immediate tracks. This is actually one of the strongest albums by the band, while being quite consistent to the end. This is another very good record for Of Montreal.

Polyvinyl

½

 Purity Ring – Another Eternity

Purity RingAnother Eternity

Purity Ring is the project of electro pop duo Corin Roddick and Megan James formed in Edmonton in 2010. Another Eternity is their second album and it goes a little further in electro atmospheres with production to hip hop inspirations. Otherwise, vocally, Megan James turned more than ever to pop music with just memorable melodies. This therefore results in an album both musically rich and highly accessible, which could certainly prove to be a way to success for Purity Ring. The album is indeed listening at once to the end, without genuine moments of disappointment. Another Eternity is the most successful album of the duo to date.

Last Gang

½

 

 Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Steven WilsonHand. Cannot. Erase.

British Steven Wilson projects have multiplied over the last 25 years, but the most famous is still probably the Porcupine Tree group with which he released nearly fifteen albums between 1987 and 2012. In addition to all his band projects, Wilson made several solo albums and he is now back with a concept album, Hand. Cannot. Erase. The theme of the album was inspired by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, found dead in late 2003 at the age of 38 in her London apartment, surrounded by undistributed Christmas gifts. The album of 11 tracks for 66 minutes is extremely rich musically. There are complex tracks in several stages including a 10-minute one ("3 Years Older"), a 9-minute one ("Routine") and a more than 13-minute one ("Ancestral"). These tracks fortunately alternate with songs that offer some relief while remaining smart pop songs. The album creates a beautiful atmosphere while making us reflect on our society. Here is an album in a class of its own that has all it takes to become a true classic. This is certainly his most accomplished album to date.

Kscope / SIX

   

 

WOMEN'S DAY SPECIAL EDITION:

 

 Cécile Doo-Kingué – Anybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

Cécile Doo-KinguéAnybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

Born in New York, the Cameroonian now lives in Montreal. The guitarist, singer and songwriter presents the first album of a trilogy exploring blues and the roots of music. For Monologues, she recorded in a solo acoustic version in her own studio. This guitar virtuoso certainly proves in such a stripped version her talent as much for her accuracy and for her dynamic groove. Her deep, sensual voice can sometimes seem about to let go, but considering the minimalist aspect of the whole, it only adds to the charm of the exercise. Her lyrics talk about life in general, its beauty, but also social injustice and intolerance. After listening to the 9 songs totaling 33 minutes, her mastery of blues has no doubt anymore and one can only be amazed by this raw talent.

CDK / SIX

½

 

 Kensico – White Sage

KensicoWhite Sage

Gaëlle Bellaunay (aka Kensico) was born in the suburbs of Paris before traveling the world and stopping in Montreal. For this first album, she worked with Daran to produce and to help with the writing. Some major names were involved in this project entirely in English: Schneebi (Afghan Whigs, Joseph Arthur, Bran Van 3000), Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Lanegan, Kyuss) and Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Them Crooked Vultures). The result is an eclectic album of space rock, carried by the beautiful voice of Kensico. The soundscapes are beautiful and will make you travel. A very good first record by the talented singer!

LMM / SIX

½

 Diana Krall – Wallflower

Diana KrallWallflower

For her new album, Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall performs great hits of pop music, an exercise that she admits having found difficult. Her smooth performances make us rediscover classics like The Mapas and the Papas’ "California Dreamin'", Eagles’ "Desperado" and "I Can’t Tell You Why", Elton John’s "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word", Crowded House’s "Don’t Dream It's Over" and the title song of Bob Dylan (a duet with Blake Mills). She also makes a beautiful duet with Michael Bublé for "Alone Again (Naturally)". Finally, you can hear a song written by Paul McCartney, "If I Take You Home Tonight", a piece he left out for his album Kisses on the Bottom.

Verve / Universal

 

Dom La Nena – Soyo

Dom La NenaSoyo

For her second album, the singer from Brazil goes one step further in her stripped musical atmosphere (cello and piano) and her singing with delicacy. She still manages to explore new musical territories mixing folk, chamber pop and world music. For the production, she is supported by Brazilian songwriter Marcelo Camelo (Los Hermanos). Among the tracks to highlight, there is the excellent "Juste une chanson", the only text in French through all these songs in Portuguese. This is a totally enchanting atmosphere that was created by Dom La Nena on Soyo. It would be difficult not to fall in love with this little lady to huge talent.

Six Degrees / SIX

½

 

 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

Sleater-KinneyNo Cities to Love

The female indie rock band from Olympia, Washington took a long break following the very strong album The Woods in 2005. The trio is back 10 years later with No Cities to Love, bringing at the same time a whole luggage of life and new experiences. This therefore results in an album of great maturity, even if their punk energy remains there. In only 32 minutes, the CD is also evolving at great speed and gives very little respite to the end, except for a few somewhat slower passages. One of the features of the record is that the group reunites with producer John Goodmanson, who had worked on all the earlier albums of the trio. The complicity that operates allows the band to let go without asking itself too many questions. The result is successful while the 10 songs are both creative and refreshing. So, the girls from Sleater-Kinney pick up where they had left 10 years ago and continue their beautiful evolution.

Music Video: « A New Wave »

Sub Pop

½

 

 Sarah MacDougall – Grand Canyon

Sarah MacDougallGrand Canyon

Born in Sweden, Sarah MacDougall is now well established in Whitehorse, Canada. The contemporary folk singer presents her third album, self-produced with the money collected online through public donations. The 8-track CD totaling 34 minutes includes songs with memorable melodies, but mainly varied, between alternative rock, pop, folk and country. Despite a unique voice, she can remind us of Kate Bush on different occasions. The musical arrangements are rich and include strings and synthesizers, but the music is still inspired by acoustic folk, the best vehicle for her beautiful poetry. (February 2015)

Music Video: « I Want To See the Light (Lost From Our Eyes) »

 Charli XCX – Sucker

Charli XCXSucker (2014)

After participating to the remarkable hit "I Love It" by Icona Pop and the release of her very good first album in the spring of 2013, True Romance, the electro pop singer is back in force. She put together many should-be hits on Sucker, even if she does not retain any coarse language, especially in the title track. The uncensored version of the album is probably better to not hear beeps instead of swearing which is certainly less annoying. The whole album is a bit brighter and accessible than her previous one, as if she was determined to reach a wide audience. She certainly tries to join a young audience with a pop sound that speaks to them, but she also has some more personal lyrics. She certainly sings several essential and memorable hits like "Break the Rules" and "Boom Clap". Here is a particularly successful second record for the talented English songwriter and singer. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « Boom Clap » - « Break the Rules » - « Breaking Up » - « Doing It »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 

 Bettye LaVette – Worthy

Bettye LaVetteWorthy

For her new album, the great lady of soul music works once again with Joe Henry. She sings songs by Bob Dylan (“Unbelievable”), the Beatles (“Wait”) and the Rolling Stones (“Complicated”).

Conveyor / Universal

 

 

Shania Twain – Still the One: Live From Vegas (DVD + CD)

Shania TwainStill the One: Live From Vegas (DVD + CD)

DVD and CD recorded live in Sin City. The CD lasts 68 minutes and contains much of her greatest hits. The DVD includes additional material including a one-hour behind-the-scenes documentary.

Eagle Vision / Universal

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MARCH 1-7:

 

 Chris de Burgh – The Hands of Man

Chris de BurghThe Hands of Man

After 40 years of career, Chris de Burgh offers his 20th studio album of original material. He doesn’t stay turned to his past, and the songwriter and performer expresses his concerns of today, his vision of the current world. In this sense, the first single, "The Keeper of the Keys" deals with the right of every human to live in dignity and to have access to education. The album of 55 minutes was divided into two distinct parts, "Sunrise" and "Sunset", interspersed with a 2-minute instrumental, "Meridiem". Throughout the album, beautiful orchestrations accompany the melodies, piano and other instruments, which make it an epic pop music record with a cinematographic or classical trend. We also find good moments of emotion.

Justin Time / SIX

   

 Helen Callus – Fathers and Sons: Music From Johann Sebastian Bach's Circle in Leipzig

Helen CallusFathers and Sons: Music From Johann Sebastian Bach's Circle in Leipzig

Accompanied by the renowned harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour, internationally renowned violist Helen Callus performs for her eighth recording three Bach works adapted for viola, but also from two artists who were inspired by the great master. We thus find Johann Ludwig Krebs’ "Trio in C Minor for two claviers and bass", and Carl Friedrich Abel’s "Sonata No. 2 in E minor", composed late in his career. These two beautiful works are preceded by Bach’s "Sonatas Nos. 1-3 for obbligato harpsichord and viola da gamba" that he would have composed for Abel. The set is therefore a dialogue between generations of the Baroque era, played masterfully by one of the foremost violists of her generation.

Analekta

   

 Tom Cochrane – Take It Home

Tom CochraneTake It Home

The Canadian rock legend, now 61 years old, is back with his first album in nine years. After a successful period in the 1980s and early 1990s, first with Red Rider and then in solo, Tom Cochrane was much less in demand after. Now he returns with an album that will not surprise anyone with a rock sound including country or blues. His influences of the southern United States remains very present, even if he is originally from Manitoba, much more up north. On Take It Home, we find some frankly interesting songs like the energetic and happy first single "Sunday Afternoon Hang", the beautiful "Pink Time" and "First Time Around". While it’s not all the compositions that stand out for their creativity, it’s still a good album overall. It now remains to be seen whether it will be the last record by Tom Cochrane, who stated it openly.

Music Video: « Sunday Afternoon Hang »

Sky Is Falling / Universal

   

Drake – If You're Reading This It's Too Late

Drake – If You're Reading This It's Too Late

This fourth mixtape by Drake appeared on the web without any promotion, to the surprise of all. When listening to it, you realize quickly that it has everything of a real album with an artistic vision and an excellent production quality. The Toronto rapper relies on minimalist hip hop music which fits in perfectly throughout the 17 tracks totaling 68 minutes. He is constantly experimenting with his voice, changing its delivery or rhythm in often unsettling song structures. But everything is always done smoothly without annoying us. He therefore doesn’t spoil our pleasure through his musical explorations. Instead, Drake shows more than ever the full extent of his talent. In fact, what is evolving the least is definitely the lyrics about his fast ascension and popularity. Fortunately there are several more personal lyrics dealing for example with his relationship with his mother and different times of loneliness and past mistakes.

Cash Money / Universal

½

 Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night

Bob DylanShadows in the Night

Living legend of folk rock music, Bob Dylan is still offering new albums on a regular basis. So it is three years after Tempest that he returns with Shadows in the Night, the 36th album of his career. This time, he plays standards of American music, songs from the 1940s and the 1950s popularized by crooner Frank Sinatra. While the album contains 10 tracks totaling 35 minutes, its rich arrangements and his unique interpretation of these great songs are impressive. The covers are filled with nostalgia and bring us back far in the previous century. His voice is perhaps not what it was, but despite failures, he manages to deliver these lyrics with emotion and a huge respect for the original work. We can only blame him for putting too much emphasis on his voice while the beautiful musical arrangements stay behind. Otherwise, proximity is thus created with the singer with nasal but so sincere voice.

Columbia / Sony

½

   

 Fall Out Boy – American Beauty / American Psycho

Fall Out BoyAmerican Beauty / American Psycho

The pop punk band, which became more pop rock with time, is back with its sixth album. They take more than ever current pop music elements with many energetic tracks with memorable melodies, such as the title track for example. In "Centuries", the band even includes a sampling of Suzanne Vega, while "Immortals" first appeared in the Disney animated film Big Hero 6. It is clearer than ever that the group tries to reach the broadest possible audience. The disco rock "Novocaine" is certainly one of the most effective tracks of the record, even if there are many energetic songs throughout the CD. Unfortunately, creativity is not always in these pop rock songs, which means that some will be much less relevant in the long term.

Music Videos: « Centuries » - « Irresistible »

Universal

   

 Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe FiascoTetsuo & Youth

Tetsuo & Youth is the fifth album by rapper Lupe Fiasco. This is a concept album divided by seasons with interludes accordingly. Fiasco does several startling trials, including the integration of banjo to the excellent "Dots & Lines". He also presents a potential radio hit with "Blur My Hands", featuring Guy Sebastian. In addition to Sebastian, the album includes many collaborators including Ayesha Jaco, Nikki Jean, Troi and Crystal Torres. Many songs are stretched in length, for an album totaling nearly 80 minutes. But it is mainly that they are particularly rich with often complex arrangements. Tetsuo & Youth is indeed an album that goes beyond rap with particularly dense and still very effective music. Lupe Fiasco returns totally to his creative spirit of the debut with an album which, without equaling the famous Food & Liquor, may be considered as a completely finished work, especially after a few listenings.

Music Video: « Deliver »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 

 Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Marilyn MansonThe Pale Emperor

Marilyn Manson and his trusty colleague Tyler Bates are back with a new album, their ninth. They have a sound a little more influenced by blues with several slower songs like the introduction ("Killing Strangers") and "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge". Otherwise, when the duo returns to pieces that move, it is still doing it fully with some instant classics as "Deep Six" that you will listen repeatedly to inject a good dose of energy. In fact, there are some dark lyrics and dynamism that has made the reputation of Marilyn Manson, but without falling into the trap of trying to repeat the same old material. It still has some industrial keys here and there, but the main point that unites Manson with his past is his voice, as for the rest, we find ourselves certainly elsewhere. We have to face the fact that Manson cannot shock as easily as before, and it is perfect that he doesn’t try to do it at all costs. The Pale Emperor seems less forced, more natural, which changes somewhat of Marilyn Manson in the last decade. We can say that this is probably his best album in 15 years.

Music Video: « Deep Six »

Dine Alone

½

   

Ne-Yo – Non-Fiction

Ne-YoNon-Fiction

The successful R&B singer already presents his sixth album, three years after the commercial and critical failure of R.E.D. In recent years, it is rather his many collaborations with rappers, and David Guetta for "Play Hard", that have caught attention. So he uses the proven formula and is surrounding himself with collaborators for several songs of his new album: Schoolboy Q, Charisse Mills, T.I., Jeezy and Juicy J. He even comes back with the hit by Pitbull, "Time of Our Lives" included on the album Globalization and to which Ne-Yo lent his voice. This is certainly the most danceable moment of the record, despite some other good energetic tracks, including the excellent "Coming with You", co-written with T.E. Hermansen. Several tracks stand out and have a large market potential, they can be dance songs as mid-tempo or syrupy ballads. In this sense, it is perhaps his best album since Because of You, released eight years ago. The album of 14 tracks totaling 54 minutes has a nice balance and is therefore very pleasant to listen to as a whole, despite some unnecessary ballads. A deluxe version adds 20 minutes to the CD, but few elements of it deserve attention.

Music Videos: « She Knows » - « Time of Our Lives » - « Coming with You »

Island / Universal

½

   

 Sounds of the 80s

Sounds of the 80s

On this 17-track compilation totaling over 60 minutes, contemporary artists pay tribute to pop and rock music of the 1980s by playing great hits in their own way. We can hear right at the opening a completely stripped version by Sam Smith of the yet danceable "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston. We can also rediscover Madonna’s "Lucky Star" by Birdy, The Cars’ "Drive" by The Script, Kim Carnes’ "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kylie Minogue, Cher’s "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Christina Perri, Bryan Adams’ "Run To You" by Kian Egan, The Clash’s "Should I Stay or Should I Go " by Kaiser Chiefs, and much more. Several versions are particularly successful and make us truly appreciate this music of another era.

Warner

½

 

Rye Coalition – The Story of the Hard Luck 5 (DVD)

Rye CoalitionThe Story of the Hard Luck 5 (DVD)

Rye Coalition is a band from Jersey City, New Jersey, which was formed in 1994 by young teenagers who were simply enjoying playing together. They went for a first tour when they had in hand only a 5-song demo tape. The punk / emo band managed to catch attention with their stage energy and good humor that animated them all the time. In addition, the 5 guys were charismatic and good musicians. They were finally able to record albums in the early 2000s, they opened for Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta, and they even worked with Steve Albini and Dave Grohl. When the major contract has finally appeared from Dreamworks, the group imploded, forcing them to remain forever a band of the underground scene which could never get the recognition they deserved. This excellent documentary presents the history of the band, its pitfalls and bad luck, the greatest moments of their careers until their split in almost complete anonymity despite good reviews and loyal fans.

MatzOrific / MVD

½

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FEBRUARY:

 

Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint

Nicki MinajThe Pinkprint (2014)

For the third album by Nicki Minaj, it was announced that she would return to the style of her debut with more hardcore rap. In fact, she shows on The Pinkprint a mixture of what has made her successful to date. There are indeed a little more hardcore tracks, but we can also hear R&B and pop passages. Instead of simply rapping, Nicki sings over a large part of the CD, and it is not unpleasant. Provocative lyrics, sexually explicit, are of course still included ("Get On Your Knees"), but we also find a little more touching lyrics about breakups ("I Lied"). We can obviously hear the hit "Anaconda" whose video has created quite an uproar on the web last summer, although it is harmless. Musically, The Pinkprint is certainly her most accomplished album with rich music and often creative. There are quite a few times weaker or less pleasant to the ear, but all the 16 songs can be listened to with pleasure to the end. A deluxe version adds 5 tracks for a total of 80 minutes. Note collaborations by Ariana Grande, Jessie Ware, Beyoncé, Chris Brown, Drake, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill and Skylar Grey. With The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj seems to have finally reached the pinnacle of her career. (February 2015 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Pills N Potions » - « Anaconda » - « Only »

Cash Money / Universal

½

     

          

 

 

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Viet CongViet Cong

Viet Cong is a Calgary band that formed in 2012. With this first album, they present their rather bizarre indie rock music. Indeed, lo-fi music filled with electronic and noise accompanies pop melodies often much more accessible than their music. Very eclectic, their sound evolves from one song to another, and when the CD progresses, we wait to see what they have in store for us. The album has seven tracks, some around 3 minutes, other 6 minutes and the grand finale, "Death", lasts more than 11 minutes. The latter can already be considered a masterpiece. What a way to conclude a short 37-minute album, since we are inevitably left with the urge to listen to it again! Some inequalities in the first half of the CD may spoil your fun, but in the end, you would take more of it. Here is a very good first album, which places the bar high for the rest of their career! (February 2015 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Continental Shelf » - « Silhouettes »

Flemish Eye

½

   

 AC/DC – Rock or Bust

AC/DCRock or Bust (2014)

Rock or Bust is the first album in six years for the Australian rockers and, as it was the case in 2000 with Stiff Upper Lip, they still manage to give us a surprise. Although their style has not changed in 35 years, since the arrival of Brian Johnson at the microphone, they still offer us good energetic compositions. This is certainly a rock 'n' roll sound from another era, but there is only AC/DC that can play it effectively in 2015. The recording of Rock or Bust was not easy when we learned Malcolm Young had a disease causing him to bow out (he suffers from dementia). Angus was left with all the responsibility of the band on his frail shoulders. He did pretty well, even if this is the shortest album of the band from the 15 they had released to date (with 11 tracks totaling 35 minutes). Drummer Phil Rudd also had his problems, with the law this time, and had to leave the band before the release of the album. Despite the pitfalls and many rumors of separation, AC/DC have one of their best albums in a long time. So if it is their last record, the guys can be proud of it. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « Rock or Bust » - « Play Ball »

Columbia / Sony

½

   

 Bastian Baker – Tomorrow May Not Be Better

Bastian BakerTomorrow May Not Be Better

The young singer-songwriter of 23 years old Bastian Baker was born Bastien Kaltenbacher in Lausanne, Switzerland. His first album released four years ago is finally available in Canada with two bonus tracks: a live acoustic version of the title song and his version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah". Baker offers pop acoustic music tending to folk to accompany his lyrics completely in English. Catchy songs with memorable melodies are performed with solidity and there are many potential hits, although creativity is unfortunately not always there. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « Lucky » - « Hallelujah » - « I’d Sing For You »

Bobten

 David Enhco – Layers

David EnhcoLayers

The young French trumpeter is accompanied by Roberto Negro on piano, Florent Nisse on double bass and Gautier Garrigue on drums to issue the second album of his career. On Layers, the quartet seems more united than ever and they play original music with various influences. The general atmosphere is quite cinematic, both complex and accessible. This is an album full of finesse and wealth that offer David Enhco and his quartet. Here is a great contemporary jazz recording. (February 2015)

NOME / SIX

 Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear

Father John MistyI Love You Honeybear

Singer-songwriter Josh Tillman is now called Father John Misty, and he presents his second album under that pseudonym. He plays retro pop music with indie rock and folk elements, but mostly, he managed to create a truly unique atmosphere around his music. Even though there are many references to the past, it is a style of his time that he offers to his audience. Again produced masterfully by Jonathan Wilson, I Love You, Honeybear is an album that is both simple and so rich with beautiful arrangements incorporating different sounds (keyboards, strings, vocals, etc.). An extraordinary melodist, Tillman managed to captivate us quickly, and it will be a challenge to drop out before the end. Here is an album to listen carefully and repeatedly, to grasp all the subtleties. (February 2015)

Sub Pop

 

 Fortunate Ones – The Bliss

Fortunate OnesThe Bliss

The folk pop duo from Newfoundland consists of singer and guitarist Andrew James O'Brien and singer, pianist and accordionist Catherine Allan. After a good solo album by O'Brien in 2011 (Songs for Searchers), the duo finally offers us its very first record. Their generally soft music with beautiful vocal harmonies is aiming a wide audience. With 11 tracks totaling 43 minutes The Bliss contains some memorable moments, filled with positivism. The first single, the title track, gives a good overview of what they have to offer. (February 2015)

Music Video: « The Bliss »

Old Farm Pony

 

 Kenny G – Brazilian Nights

Kenny GBrazilian Nights

The fusion between jazz saxophonist Kenny G and Brazilian bossa nova seems completely natural. It is therefore not surprising to hear a tribute to this warm music. In fact, the question should be "why did he not do it before?", having a career of over 30 years. Brazilian Nights offers good background music for 60 minutes (90 minutes for the deluxe version with a second CD recorded live). The main drawback to the album is that Kenny G seems to perform each piece mechanically, in a little cold way, which does not fit the hot Brazilian nights precisely. So it is better not to pay too much attention to the music and let it in the background, where it is the most enjoyable. (February 2015)

Concord / Universal

 

 Lulu Gainsbourg – Lady Luck

Lulu GainsbourgLady Luck

Son of Serge Gainsbourg and actress/model Bamboo, Lucien Gainsbourg decided to follow the footsteps of his half-sister Charlotte and embarked on a career as an actor and singer. After having paid tribute to his father in 2011 with From Gainsbourg to Lulu, he now presents his own songs and at the same time he is trying to get discovered by a younger audience than his father’s. On Lady Luck, there are several high quality and energetic pop rock songs, all in English. He explores funk on occasions, including with the title track. His smooth voice is rather nice when he whispers to our ears. The keyboards and piano are prominent in his music, but they are still enriched with other instruments, like cello and glockenspiel in "Noces funèbres". Lulu hosts some renowned guests, the time of a song: Matthieu Chedid and his brother, actress Anne Hathaway and Ara Starck, daughter of the famous designer. In "Moushka" and "Destiny", he played imaginary dialogues with his mother and father respectively. This is a first very successful album of original songs that is offered by the younger Gainsbourg. (February 2015)

Music Video: « Lady Luck »

DEP / Universal

½

 

 Heymoonshaker – Shakerism (Definitive Edition)

HeymoonshakerShakerism (Definitive Edition)

Heymoonshaker is a rather original English blues duo. It consists of Andrew Balcon (vocals and guitar) and Dave Crow (human beat box and harmonica). After having released the Shakerism EP of seven tracks in 2013, the band now presents a new edition of it with two bonus songs. There are several very good compositions where Crow greatly impresses with his vocal percussion. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « Cream F Feeling » - « Colly Drop »

Shaker / SIX

 Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors

Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors

The Las Vegas alternative rock band is back with a second album after the success obtained with Night Visions in 2012. With this success that has taken them by surprise, they return with a record that is even more extensive, hoping certainly to play on this new popularity. We again find their influences of the Killers, the other popular band to come from Las Vegas, but they establish growing their own sound. They use excessive reverberation and incorporate some electronic elements and world music to their already charged style. Unfortunately, trying to do too much, you end up with a patchwork that goes somewhat oddly from one song to another. It still is a good album with interesting and catchy moments that will please a large audience. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « I Bet My Life » - « Shots »

Interscope / Universal

 Harry Manx – 20 Strings and the Truth

Harry Manx20 Strings and the Truth

On his 10th career album, the incomparable guitarist Harry Manx offers seven instrumental tracks, as well as versions of Gershwin’s "Summertime" and Bob Marley’s "Waiting in Vain". For the occasion, Manx uses the famous Mohan Veena, a 20-string instrument that gives its title to the album, a hybrid between guitar and sitar. The result is an American blues record greatly stained of Indian classical music. Participate in this very beautiful album Clayton Doley (keyboards), Niel Golden (tabla), Kelby McNair (drums) and his faithful engineer and programmer Wynn Gogol. Smooth, 20 Strings and the Truth should allow you a beautiful inner journey, at the same time freeing you of all your daily worries. Music lovers, here's certainly an album to discover! (February 2015)

Dog My Cat / SIX

½

 

 Napalm Death – Apex Predator-Easy Meat

Napalm Death Apex Predator-Easy Meat

The British death metal band that dominated the genre in the late 1980s and the first half of the 1990s is back with its 15th studio album in a more than 30-year career. Although Napalm Death remained active throughout the past 20 years, the group did not seem able to produce albums of the quality of Scum or Fear Emptiness Despair. Otherwise, it seems that this time the inspiration was there while they certainly present their most creative album in 20 years. The sense of urgency is still very present in their extreme music, but tempo changes make a significant wealth of Apex Predator-Easy Meat. They even address industrial at times, with high efficiency elsewhere. The anti-capitalist themes remain true to what they offered 27 years ago on their first record. Aggressive riffs and a gunner rhythmic are still an integral part of their music, but the subtleties between tracks add richness to the album that contains almost no weak moments. Here is an unexpected return for Napalm Death that settles again on top of its game. (February 2015)

Century

½

 

 Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues

Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues

The bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers releases its fourth album, with T-Bone Burnett as producer. The band is more audacious on The Phosphorescent Blues with a fairly progressive style. It also opens the album with a song of more than 10 minutes that creates weird expectations for what is to come. The Punch Brothers return later with a Debussy suite, "Passepied" and an Alexander Scriabin prelude. The only other cover on the record is a traditional song, "Boll Weevil". The sophistication found on The Phosphorescent Blues propels the group to another level, perhaps still appealing to traditional bluegrass fans, but especially to lovers of varied music, between alternative folk, progressive rock and atmospheric music, all linked together by beautiful arrangements. (February 2015)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 

 Shred Kelly – Sing to the Night

Shred KellySing to the Night

Shred Kelly is a Canadian band from British Columbia which has reinvented folk music since its debut. They offer us indeed a contemporary folk rock sound with alternative influences and an energy that sometimes tends to punk, a style they call "stoke folk". Sing to the Night is their third album, issued independently. The elements that truly characterize the band are previously unheard banjo riffs, a contagious energy and great vocal harmonies. They also add a unique atmosphere made of synthesizers. They propose a beautiful fusion of styles, also combining nostalgia for the past to a more contemporary sound. Here is a very good record to discover. (February 2015)

½

 Simple Minds – Big Music

Simple Minds Big Music (2014)

The Scottish band that has existed for over 35 years has mostly been successful in the first half of the 1980s. Thereafter, they could not succeed in presenting some really interesting albums, up to Graffiti Soul in 2009 which featured good times. With Big Music, the band managed to fully get along with the electro pop style of the years 2010 and certainly presents its best album in nearly 30 years. The balance between the somewhat old synthesizers, sharp guitars and powerful rhythm is better than ever. In a burst of inspiration, the group has several very good compositions including "Honest Town" and "Blood Diamonds" both co-written with Iain Cook (Chrvrches). It has taken time, but now Simple Minds seems to have found its way and took its rightful place alongside younger bands that were inspired by them. (February 2015)

Music Videos: « Honest Town » - « Let the Day Begin »

Universal

½

 

 Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy

Smashing Pumpkins Monuments to an Elegy (2014)

It only remains of the Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan and his guitarist Jeff Schroeder, which confirms more than ever the total control exercised by Corgan, even if he still puts forward the name of the band. For this new album, it's Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe) who is supporting the duo on drums, but you'll never realize it. Musically, Monuments to an Elegy seems like a solo album by Billy Corgan, who gets textures similar to some on The Future Embrace, his only solo album issued in 2005. One of the main differences of the album from the last recordings of the Pumpkins is the intensity that is a little diminished. The songs are generally lighter, less aggressive. This is perhaps ultimately the album of maturity for Corgan who did not seem before to be able to get far from the abrasive style that made him popular more than 20 years ago. We can find many good songs on this new album for which the main weakness is being too short with only 9 tracks totaling 32 minutes. So we will have to listen to it repeatedly... (February 2015)

Music Video: « Being Beige »

Universal

½

 

 Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unburned

WhitehorseLeave No Bridge Unburned

After the French EP Éphémère sans repère last year, Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are back in their native language with Leave No Bridge Unburned. The Canadian couple asked this time the services of producer Gus Van Go, which is joined by his faithful collaborator Werner F. We find the country rock elements that make the duo interesting, but adding intensity and advanced creativity. Opening the CD, "Baby What's Wrong" is a variation on Calexico’s "Black Desert", but also darker. The southern United States seems to fascinate Whitehorse on several occasions, such as in "You Get Older" where we hear mariachi trumpets that evoke dusty border towns. The suburbs and the city also continue to compete, as in "Downtown" where the descent in underworld of Toronto Mayor's is treated with some nostalgia for the suburbs. Love is always part of it of course while with "Sweet Disaster", Melissa admits to present her first real love song for Luke. With Leave No Bridge Unburned, Whitehorse possibly present their best album to date. (February 2015)

Music Video: « Downtown »

Six Shooter / SIX

½

 

 Charlie Winston – Curio City

Charlie WinstonCurio City

The British pop folk singer releases his fourth album, 4 years after Running Still. Charlie Winston presents himself more than ever as a complete artist: songwriter, singer, musician and producer. In addition, we discover a certain theatricality throughout Curio City, while he is externalized as he had never done before. He also explores new ways, as with the 1980’s electro pop of the very first single, "Lately". Without revolutionizing anything, Charlie Winston offers an album that should please his fans. (February 2015)

Music Video: « Lately »

Universal

 

Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Wu-Tang Clan A Better Tomorrow (2014)

The legendary rap band that has existed for over 20 years is back with a new explosive album. But, Wu-Tang Clan has become over the years a collective of artists led by RZA. Seven years have passed since 8 Diagrams and RZA seems to have lost none of his enthusiasm and energy. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah are still present but leave more room for RZA who can fully flourish at the expense of his colleagues who seem to act now more as collaborators. The set is varied, but comes together beautifully with very strong compositions. The various artists involved are directed masterfully by RZA which is more in control of his career than ever. After 7 years of absence, the fans will surely be pleased to find Wu-Tang Clan in great shape. (February 2015)

Warner

½

 

 Unbroken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Unbroken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2014)

French film composer Alexandre Desplat has composed and directed the music for the World War 2 drama by Angelina Jolie Unbroken. The movie tells the true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini who survived a plane crash at sea and was imprisoned in various Japanese prisons. It was therefore a good circumstance to accompany the drama with rather dramatic classical music, but Desplat wanted to bring out a sentimental sound, a little brighter. Percussions are reminiscent of the military atmosphere of the film and flutes bring us into a Japanese style. This results in a fairly melodic album with very effective passages. The only song on this entirely instrumental album comes at the very end with a new track by Coldplay, "Miracles". (February 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

 Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The movie based on the successful erotic book trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey is out just in time for Valentine's Day and it is accompanied by the CD with its music. It includes hits from the past, but also more contemporary songs and some original pieces written for the film. You can hear among others "I Put a Spell on You" by Annie Lennox, Jessie Ware’s "Meet Me in the Middle", Ellie Goulding’s "Love Me Like You Do", remixes of Beyoncé’s "Haunted" and "Crazy in Love", "Salted Wound" by Sia, "Beast of Burden" by the Rolling Stones, "Witchcraft" by Frank Sinatra and "I Know You" by Skylar Grey. The music fits rather well with the mood of the movie, but it can most of all create a particularly beautiful romantic atmosphere. (February 2015)

Movie Official Trailer

Republic / Universal

 

Positive Force: More Than a Witness, 30 Years of Punk Politics in Action (DVD)

Positive Force: More Than a Witness, 30 Years of Punk Politics in Action (DVD)

In 1985 appeared in Washington, D.C. the activist movement Positive Force which wanted to bring a sense of community, the ideals and goals of the punk movement that had been so inspiring. The 70-minute documentary presents precisely these values that they wanted to put forward and punk bands that literally carried this movement. One can discover a great number of footage of bands like Fugazi, Bikini Kill, Rites of Spring, Nation of Ulysses and Anti-Flag. They also even went on the other side of the Atlantic to discover the most purist punk band, Crass. Throughout the documentary, we remain somewhat uncertain of its goal. Is it to discover music and bands of this movement, or to honor the Positive Force activists? It’s hard to say, but we can certainly say that this is a documentary that is not easy to listen to the end. Even the biggest fans of this DIY music will likely get lost. As a bonus, there are three other short documentaries and several live performances by Fugazi, Holy Rollers, Chumbawamba, Bikini Kill, Jawbox, Anti-Flag, The Evens, and so on. (February 2015)

Bell Visuals / PM Press / MVD

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JANUARY:

 

Pitbull – Globalization

PitbullGlobalization (2014)

The Miami rapper already comes back with his eighth album, even more "global" than Global Warming two years ago. It is true that Mr. Worldwide, as he likes to nickname himself, presents a blend of world music styles: pop, dance, hip hop, dancehall and Latin. Despite renowned guests from the opening tracks (Sean Paul on "Ah Leke" and Chris Brown on "Fun"), it is rather long before fun really begins on Globalization. Other guests will add their "magic" touch to the album later: Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo, Juicy J, Jennifer Lopez and many others. Finally, it is with "Fireball" and the only song without collaborators, "Celebrate" (from the movie Penguins of Madagascar), that Pitbull really manages to warm up the atmosphere. Then he gives us the official theme song of the World Cup of Soccer 2014, "We Are One (Ole Ola)", to conclude the CD (with Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte). Unfortunately, this is too little too late, because we already just skipped a few tracks without interest. With only 39 minutes, it's actually a good EP with additional unnecessary songs in order to present a full-length album. (January 2015 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Wild Wild Love » - « We Are One (Ole Ola) » - « Fireball » - « Celebrate »

RCA / Sony

½

   

Arca – Xen

Arca – Xen (2014)

Alejandro Ghersi (aka Arca) is a producer born in Caracas now based in New York. After collaborations with Kanye West and FKA Twigs, he releases his first album of abstract hip hop, a fairly experimental and completely instrumental music. Various sounds coalesce into a whole rather atmospheric, but mostly extremely rich and creative. Trip hop elements complement the eclectic mix of styles for an album certainly difficult of approach, but greatly rewarding. Arca is currently working with Björk for a highly anticipated upcoming album. (January 2015 Featured New Artist)

Mute

½

   

 Hoodie Allen – People Keep Talking

Hoodie AllenPeople Keep Talking (2014)

New York rapper Steven Markowitz (aka Hoodie Allen) first became a star on the Internet. He now issues his first album, People Keep Talking. He offers a very good blend of rap and pop music fairly accessible and pleasant to listen to. His main problem is mainly his juvenile lyrics, often a bit too easy and insignificant. On several occasions it seems we listen to a rap version of a boy band. At least, Allen can count on quality production, in addition to the participation of talented collaborators in Ed Sheeran, Max and Alex Wiley. (January 2015)

Warner

 

Paul Cargnello – The Hardest Part is You May Never Know

Paul CargnelloThe Hardest Part is You May Never Know (2014)

With each album, Montrealer Paul Cargnello seems to be trying to destabilize his audience. It is still the case on this 10th album for the prolific songwriter and performer. We still find further his unique blend of rock, blues, reggae and world music, with his garage sound that pleasantly scratches the ears. He also offers an excellent folk ballad with "Just a Fad" and he has two French tracks among the 12 songs of the album: "Les Montréalais" and "Rebel Architectes". That's when he comes out of his raw sound by adding a bit of arrangements that Cargnello loses some of his lustre, oddly. We love Paul Cargnello’s music a bit dirty, and there is still enough of it remaining on this new record to fully appreciate it. (January 2015)

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

 

 Close Talker – Flux

Close TalkerFlux (2014)

Close Talker is an indie rock band from Saskatoon which comes to us with a first full-length album. With their catchy melodies and vocal harmonies, they can be compared in part to Bon Iver and the Bombay Bicycle Club. Flux was recorded at the Breakglass Studio in Montreal in the spring of 2014 while the hockey club of the Montreal Canadiens had turned the city to the fever of the playoffs. This unique energy has undoubtedly inspired the band that gives us a first record of high efficiency. (January 2015)

Nevado / SIX

½

 In This Moment – Black Widow

In This MomentBlack Widow (2014)

Ably led by female singer Maria Brink, the melodic metal band from Los Angeles is back with their fifth album. Again produced by Kevin Churko (Ozzy Osbourne, Hellyeah, Five Finger Death Punch), the album again shows a strong melodic side highlighted by the powerful voice of Brink who manages to fall into raw emotion on several occasions. In addition, the band does not hesitate to present frankly hardcore or Gothic songs, somewhat in the manner of Lacuna Coil. Despite many good times, with 13 tracks totalling 60 minutes the album is a bit too long because of some pieces that could have been cut without any problems. (January 2015)

Music Videos: « Sick Like Me » - « Big Bad Wolf »

Atlantic / Warner

 Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted (2014)

The young singer from New Brunswick has had an unexpected success in 2012 with her first album, mainly thanks to the now French Canadian classic "Aujourd’hui, ma vie c’est d’la marde" (Today, my life is shit). Two years later, she is back with an EP, entirely in English this time, inspired by a road trip to the United States. There are 5 original songs and the cover of "Katie Cruel" popularized by Karen Dalton. Lisa is more creative than ever in her trash folk style, which can be really hard at times, especially in "Gold Diggin' Hoedown". With less than 18 minutes, the main problem with the record is that it is too short. We look forward for an upcoming full-length album from this creative artist. (January 2015)

Bonsound

½

 Nickelback – No Fixed Address

NickelbackNo Fixed Address (2014)

Strangely, it is on his eighth album that Chad Kroeger is the most adventurous when he departs from the powerful riffs without much creativity that made his reputation. He adds interesting electronic elements and loop rhythms, sometimes paired with country rock influences. Disco is not far away on tracks like "She Keeps Me Up" and "Get 'Em Up" and humor is often present throughout the record. When sarcasm gives way to more political songs like the first single, "Edge of a Revolution", we believe in it a little less, but we still appreciate the effort. We certainly cannot accuse Nickelback’s attempt to move away from its rather outdated post-grunge style. Instead, the band seems to look at the future with No Fixed Address. It remains to be seen whether the public will follow, but it is a good album overall. (January 2015)

Music Video: « Edge of a Revolution »

Republic / Universal

 

 One Direction – Four

One DirectionFour (2014)

The popular young London band is back with a fourth album in as many years. One Direction pursues the same path than on their previous records without big surprises. Although the five colleagues remain effective to interpret ballads, it’s the most energetic and entertaining songs that really stand out on Four. Their admiration for the music of the 1980s cannot be denied on several occasions, although their music is much current. With Four, we realize that One Direction should focus on the joyous and catchy songs, since emotion is not always effective in the songs that should be touching. (January 2015)

Sony

 

 Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Panda BearPanda Bear MEets the Grim Reaper

Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) releases his fifth solo album, four years after Tomboy. His music has evolved over the years and is taking a new way on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. He uses more than ever sound layers and synthesizers to create an enveloping sound and a special atmosphere. Reverb is present throughout most of the CD to tamper the singer's voice. The album title refers to death and this theme returns in "Tropic of Cancer" while he deals with the illness and death of his father. The addition of a harp sample from "The Nutcracker" adds to the beauty of this touching song. Panda Bear is not only offering atmospheric songs, but also more energetic electro pop songs. He offers us a very strong and comprehensive album, an album that will probably hypnotize you quickly. (January 2015)

Domino

½

 

Andre Papanicolaou – Strange Nights

Andre Papanicolaou Strange Nights

In addition to being a musician for Vincent Vallières, Andre Papanicolaou is regularly opening his concerts. With Strange Nights, he releases his second album, produced by Brad Barr (Barr Brothers). He plays a pop rock sound with great catchy tunes and some folk ballads. Among the 11 tracks of the album, Papanicolaou provides several songs at once creative and fun to listen to. The first single, "Invitation Inn", has been quite successful in radios and Musique Plus, and if you enjoyed, you are likely to be tempted by all this beautiful album. (January 2015)

Music Video: « Invitation Inn »

Spectra

½

 Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Pink FloydThe Endless River (2014)

Twenty years have gone since their last album and a few fans still believed that their favorite band could make a comeback on record. The album consists essentially of instrumentals recorded at the time of Division Bell and originally planned for an atmospheric project. These pieces have been reworked by the only two remaining members, David Gilmour and Nick Mason, with the help of Youth, Andy Jackson and Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music). The latest added a layer of guitars to the music based mainly on the keyboards of the late Richard Wright. The result is not sounding so different from what the band offered on its last two albums, except for the fact that it is instrumental at 95%. It is not until the last piece, "Louder Than Words", that we finally hear the voice of Gilmour that was at the heart of the last recordings of the band. He rather makes his guitar talk on The Endless River. Listening to the album, you realize that the band seems to want to permanently close the books and move on. This new album is interesting, but it is mostly like the end of a superb career spanning nearly 50 years. (January 2015)

Columbia / Sony

   

 Joshua Radin – Onward and Sideways

Joshua RadinOnward and Sideways

Since he moved to the underground, Joshua Radin has become much more introspective. Indeed, he offers simple music featuring most of all the melody, unlike his debut as the musical layers were overlapping for a larger sound. We still can find some enveloping atmospheres, but this is clearly not the objective. On this sixth album, he seems more than ever to play in the beds of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz, even Mumford & Sons on the highly effective "Belong". Sheryl Crow lends her voice to "Beautiful Day", another of the good times of the record. Unfortunately, too many songs lack creativity for the album fully meeting expectations. Onward and Sideways should still satisfy his loyal fans, as they will not be too disoriented. (January 2015)

Glass Bead / Wax / Universal

 

 Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Damien RiceMy Favourite Faded Fantasy (2014)

The Irish singer is back with the third album of his career after a break of eight years. Despite this long waiting period, Rice presents an album of only 8 tracks totaling 50 minutes. He requested the services of producer Rick Rubin to help create unique atmospheres around his pop, folk and alternative rock songs. My Favourite Faded Fantasy is an album that we learn to discover and that slowly becomes more and more interesting and intriguing. Textures and arrangements are sublime, worthy of the perfectionist who is Damien Rice. This is another very good album by this unique artist. (January 2015)

Warner

½

 Tamara Weber-Fillion – Time, Wind & Fire

Tamara Weber-FillionTime, Wind & Fire (2014)

At the last edition of The Voice (French Quebec version), Tamara got attention with her great artistic sensitivity and her unique voice. She releases a first album entirely in English, which can make room for her creativity. The native of Port-au-Prince in Haiti who grew up in Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec offers us a collection of 12 beautiful folk songs with memorable melodies and beautiful vocal harmonies. The shy songwriter and performer opens like a flower on this album of very high quality. (January 2015)

Bros / SIX

½

 Neil Young – Storytone (2 CD)

Neil YoungStorytone (2 CD) (2014)

After a busy year in 2014, both professionally and personally, Neil Young presents nothing less than a double album. In fact, the 2 CDs contain the same 10 songs, but one was recorded with a large orchestra, while the other is played solo. With the orchestra, Young goes in several directions that can be very energetic and at times more intimate, creating a dichotomy on the CD. Otherwise, when he is in solo, we rediscover the folk singer of the best years. It is only a pity that the album is uneven in general. (January 2015)

Reprise / Warner

 

 Caitriona O’Leary – The Wexford Carols

Caitriona O’LearyThe Wexford Carols (2014)

Irish soprano singer Caitriona O'Leary presents a dozen of the best Christmas Irish songs. Produced by Joe Henry, The Wexford Carols also features Tom Jones, Rosanne Cash and Rhiannon Giddens. The record offers a mix of Celtic music not only integrating Irish folk, but also American folk, blues and gospel. The link between the various songs and styles remains the crystalline voice of Caitriona which adapts very well to this context. (January 2015)

Heresy / Naxos

 Selena Gomez – For You

Selena GomezFor You (2014)

The young Texan singer already has four albums to her credit. Despite her 22 years of age only, she releases her first greatest hits collection. In addition to her best songs since 2009, we can hear her duet with Selena, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" and a pair of new tracks: "The Heart Wants What It Wants" and "Do It". This collection of 15 songs successfully demonstrates how this young singer’s voice is strong, both in emotional songs and danceable songs. Selena Gomez is certainly among the best pop singers of her generation. (January 2015)

Music Video: « The Heart Wants What It Wants »

Hollywood / Universal

½

 

Zomba Prison Project – I Have No Everything Here

Zomba Prison Project – I Have No Everything Here

In the summer of 2013, producer Ian Brennan (Ramblin 'Jack Elliott, TV on the Radio, Tinariwen) traveled to the Mozambican border of Malawi in order to record the music of the inmates of the central prison in Zomba. Built in the 19th century, this decrepit maximum security prison designed to house 340 prisoners has now over 2,000. Brennan and his wife were able to enter the prison in exchange of seminars on violence prevention to prisoners and guards. More than 60 artists were recorded for more than six hours of music. Twenty tracks were selected for this album of barely 32 minutes which has often personal songs for the lifers. The most touching pieces were mostly recorded by women, such as "I Kill No More" by Josephine Banda, "Don’t Hate Me" by Gladis Zinamo and "Last Wishes" by Irene Chibowa. Although prisoners at Zomba prison have committed major crimes, they certainly have many talented musicians and singers. (January 2015)

Six Degrees / SIX

Johnny Thunders – Looking For Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders (DVD)

Johnny Thunders – Looking For Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders (DVD) (2014)

In this 98-minute documentary, Danny Garcia (The Rise and Fall of The Clash) embarked on telling the story of guitarist Johnny Thunders. One can discover his debut to the founding of the New York Dolls. Then, three years later, Thunders left the New York Dolls with drummer Jerry Nolan to form the Heartbreakers. This will be at the same time the end of the New York Dolls, after only two albums. He will try later working in solo and with the bands Gang War and The Oddballs. However, the guideline of his career has definitely been drugs while he was an assumed and especially extreme junky. He was going to die in April 1991 at the age of 38 in a hotel room in New Orleans in weird circumstances. The most likely theory remains an overdose of methadone. The documentary does a very good overview of the 20 years of the career of Johnny Thunders through interviews with people who knew him best. The only annoying detail is that music footage is too rare or too short, especially when they are talking specifically about his music and his guitar style. Looking For Johnny will still allow you to have a better idea of who is Johnny Thunders. (January 2015)

Jungle / MVD

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