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

 

       

 

 

 

Note: If you can read French, go to the French page for additional content.

 

to SEARCH this page

 

JANUARY 2015

 

Featured Review:  Pitbull    Featured New Artist:  Arca

 

January 22-28:

Panda Bear - Andre Papanicolaou - Zomba Prison Project

 

January 8-14:

Joshua Radin - In This Moment - Paul Cargnello

 

January 2-7:

One Direction - Nickelback - Pink Floyd - Tamara Weber-Fillion - Neil Young - Damien Rice - Hoodie Allen - Close Talker - Lisa Leblanc - Caitriona O'Leary - Selena Gomez - Johnny Thunders (DVD)

 

Reviews coming up next month:

Nicki Minaj - Charli XCX - AC/DC - Smashing Pumpkins - Simple Minds - Wu-Tang Clan

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

   

 

December 1-7:

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

 

         

         

 

       

         

         

       

   

 

 

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

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.

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

RCA / Sony

½

  YouTube     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

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.

Mute

½

 

JANUARY 22-28:

 

 Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Panda BearPanda Bear MEets the Grim Reaper

(review to come later)

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.

Music Video: « Invitation Inn »

Spectra

½

Zomba Prison Project – I Have No Everything Here

Zomba Prison Project – I Have No Everything Here

(review to come later)

Six Degrees / SIX

 

JANUARY 8-14:

 

 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.

Glass Bead / Wax / Universal

 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.

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

Atlantic / 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.

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

 

JANUARY 2-7:

 

 One Direction – Four

One DirectionFour

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.

Sony

 Nickelback – No Fixed Address

NickelbackNo Fixed Address

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.

Music Video: « Edge of a Revolution »

Republic / Universal

 Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Pink FloydThe Endless River

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.

Columbia / Sony

 Tamara Weber-Fillion – Time, Wind & Fire

Tamara Weber-FillionTime, Wind & Fire

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.

Bros / SIX

½

 Neil Young – Storytone (2 CD)

Neil YoungStorytone (2 CD)

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.

Reprise / Warner

 Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Damien RiceMy Favourite Faded Fantasy

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.

Warner

½

 Hoodie Allen – People Keep Talking

Hoodie AllenPeople Keep Talking

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.

Warner

 Close Talker – Flux

Close TalkerFlux

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.

Nevado / SIX

½

 Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

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.

Bonsound

½

 Caitriona O’Leary – The Wexford Carols

Caitriona O’LearyThe Wexford Carols

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.

Heresy / Naxos

 Selena Gomez – For You

Selena GomezFor You

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.

Music Video: « The Heart Wants What It Wants »

Hollywood / Universal

½

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

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

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.

Jungle / MVD

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

 

HOLIDAY ATMOSPHERES:

 

 Jireh Gospel Choir – Get Up

Jireh Gospel ChoirGet Up

Formed in 1996 by Montreal musician born in Jamaica Carol Bernard, the Jireh Gospel Choir is one of the best known vocal ensembles in Canada. They interpret great classics from the gospel repertoire but also original songs inspired in part by R&B, soul, jazz and blues. In 2012, the group was awarded the prestigious "The Gospel Song of the Year" by the Gospel Music Association of Canada for its composition "Quoi qu’il arrive". Get Up is the third album for the band, and it includes 18 singers and 20 musicians. It has 13 songs including 3 in French and 11 originals. This is a good record of contemporary gospel. (December 2014)

 Dunnigan – There You Are

DunniganThere You Are

For this new album, Quebec violinist Philippe Dunnigan has requested the services of several composers and arrangers of great talent. He therefore presents a contemporary classical album on which we also find some jazz overtones. These composers include François Dompierre, Catherine Major, Benoît Groulx, Marc Bélanger and Jean-François Groulx. You can also hear arrangements of pieces of Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Luiza") and Sting ("August Winds"). Note that to record this album, Dunnigan used a Stradivarius Auer 1691. There You Are is definitely a very pleasant album to listen to. (December 2014)

1890

½

 Alex Pangman – New

Alex PangmanNew

The Toronto jazz singer tending to swing certainly had a need for renewal with this new album. She went to a studio in New Orleans, with a new producer and new musicians to record nine classics in the genre and a new original composition, "It's Never Enough". It’s Andrew "Goat" Gilchrist (from Canadian origin), which ensures the production of this totally acoustic album in the tradition of New Orleans. Louis Armstrong's ghost was probably floating not too far in this so inspiring context. Alex Pangman still manages to immerse us in an atmosphere of almost a century ago while jazz got acclaimed. (December 2014)

Justin Time / SIX

½

 James Farm – City Folk

James FarmCity Folk

James Farm is a contemporary jazz quartet formed of Joshua Redman (saxophone), Aaron Parks (piano), Matt Penman (bass) and Eric Harland (drums). Formed in 2009, the quartet now releases its second album. The CD of 10 tracks totaling 64 minutes is still in a frankly creative jazz style. Again, Redman, Parks and Penman contribute of three compositions each, while Harland signs one. Otherwise, in their interpretation, the four musicians unite in a particularly coherent ensemble, still accessible despite its complexity. A very good record of modern jazz! (December 2014)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Baptiste Trotignon – HIT

Baptiste TrotignonHIT

This is the first trio album in 13 years for Parisian pianist Baptiste Trotignon. HIT is based on the idea of percussion, among others inspired by drummer and percussionist Jeff Ballard. The 11 compositions by Trotignon sometimes borrow to pop music, sometimes to Latin music, and sometimes to other world music. Otherwise, they are still in perfect symbiosis with the contemporary jazz trio context. (December 2014)

Naïve / Naxos

½

 David Guetta – Listen

David GuettaListen

The Parisian DJ is back with a new album full of famous people. Among others Sam Martin, Emeli Sandé, Nico & Vinz, John Legend, Sia, Nicki Minaj, Afrojack, Magic! and Birdy. Guetta signed the 14 compositions on the record, even if he was helped greatly. Oddly, at a time when electronic dance music is popular, the one who was one of the firsts to take the opportunity to become a superstar turns a little more towards pop music in its conventional format. We can still hear a majority of danceable tracks, but they do not seem to come from a DJ. In fact, Guetta fades somewhat on this album to let the whole room to his collaborators who bring their own color to the CD. Regardless, it's not a bad thing, but it's a little disjointed and it lacks the personality of its creator. Otherwise, do not get me wrong, Listen once again includes a list of guaranteed hits. (December 2014)

Music Videos: « Lovers on the Sun » - « Dangerous »

Parlophone / Warner

 Knife Party – Abandon Ship

Knife PartyAbandon Ship

Knife Party is a side project for two members of the Australian band Pendulum, Gareth McGrillen and Rob Swire. The duo issues its first full-length album of house music and dubstep full of energy. The group also explores funkier moments like on "EDM Trend Machine" (which has nothing of EDM strangely). Pendulum fans may appreciate a lot, even if rock is completely ignored here. A track like "Resistance", based on the bass, will certainly get their attention. And for "Give It Up" it is rather lovers of Fatboy Slim that may be seduced. Knife Party has a very good album in the genre. (December 2014)

Music Video: « Begin Again »

Earstorm / Warner

½

 

GIFT IDEAS:

 

 The Flaming Lips – With a Little Help From My Fwends

The Flaming LipsWith a Little Help From My Fwends

It's with all the creativity we know from them that the guys of the Flaming Lips have decided to revisit the best album in history, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. If the original album already had his psychedelic side, it takes on another dimension here with the experiments of the Flaming Lips. The group is exploring different sounds and is mixing all kinds of variations of styles and beats in a sometimes cacophonous ensemble, but certainly creative. The band is accompanied by many guest artists: My Morning Jacket, J. Mascis, Miley Cyrus, Moby, Dr. Dog, Tegan and Sara, Foxygen and many others. With a Little Help From My Fwends presents a kind of deconstruction of this great album in history. The most ardent fans of the Beatles will perhaps think it is a blasphemous exercise. Otherwise, the quality of the musical explorations by the Flaming Lips gives pretty much justice to the original work. (December 2014)

Warner

½

 Dan Desnoyers – In Da House 2015

Dan DesnoyersIn Da House 2015

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

Megamix

D-Noy / Sony

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

ColdplayGhost Stories – Live 2014 (DVD + CD) (2014)

Only a few months after the release of Ghost Stories, Coldplay issues a DVD with live recordings of the 9 songs of the album. They were captured in London, Sydney, Paris, New York, Cologne and Los Angeles. Because of the DVD quality production, the CD that accompanies it becomes rather not useful. As long as you listen to the same 9 songs, you are better to listen to the studio album. The strength of the DVD is its beautiful images. There are also many extras, including music videos and other live versions. (December 2014)

Parlophone / Warner

½

Morrissey – Introducing Morrissey (DVD)

MorrisseyIntroducing Morrissey (DVD) (2014)

Here is the DVD reissue of a concert originally released in 1996. The footage was captured over two nights at Sheffield's City Hall and the Winter Gardens in Blackpool during his 1995 U.K. tour. The 62-minute concert includes 15 of his best songs with excellent sound quality. Certain camera angles can be annoying, but they do not interfere too much with the quality of the show. (December 2014)

Reprise / Rhino / Warner

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

Devo – The Men Who Make the Music (DVD)

DevoThe Men Who Make the Music (DVD) (2014)

On this DVD, you can see the band completely crazy in action with concert footage dating from 1978-79 and often surrealistic videos. The whole is interspersed with a film not much less crazy about their alleged rocky relationship with "Big Entertainment". As a bonus, you can discover Devo on stage in 1996 when they closed the Sundance Film Festival. They were wearing prisoner suits of the 1920s and presented old songs back to the early 1970s, even before they got a record deal. This DVD offers a good way to discover the new wave band if you are not familiar with their particular universe. Otherwise, do not forget to open your mind because conventional is completely absent during the 114 minutes of the DVD. (December 2014)

MVD

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

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

Jack BruceThe 50th Birthday Concerts (2 DVD) (2014)

The former member of Cream celebrated his 50th anniversary on May 14, 1993. On November 2 and 3 of the same year, he decided to celebrate in style by inviting on stage at E-Werk in Cologne his longtime friend Ginger Baker (drums), Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone) and Clem Clempson (guitar). Special guests as drummer Simon Phillips, pianist Bernie Worrell and the late guitarist Gary Moore also came on stage with him to interpret Cream classics and many songs of his solo repertoire. The death of Jack Bruce of cancer on October 25 gives a new quasi-mystical dimension to this double DVD captured on these two magical nights. In addition to the 2-DVD version, we find on the market a 2-DVD + CD version as well as a 3-DVD + CD version. (December 2014)

MIG / MVD

½

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

 

DECEMBER 1-7:

 

Taylor Swift – 1989

Taylor Swift1989

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

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

Universal

Leighton Meester – Heartstrings

Leighton MeesterHeartstrings

Leighton Meester is a pop female singer from Texas who manages to deliver excellent melodies with her beautiful voice. She first started as an actress before collaborating with Cobra Starship for "Good Girls Go Bad" and Robin Thicke. On this first album, she offers an adult alternative sound that is extremely pleasant to the ear, music of great maturity. The beautiful orchestrations perfectly accompany the voice of Leighton, and rich arrangements contribute to promote her talent. In fact, the main negative element of Heartstrings is to be too short with only 9 songs totalling 32 minutes. It makes us want to repeat it in loops so it is soothing. Here is a very nice surprise! (December 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Heartstrings »

Vagrant / Universal

½

 Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways

Foo FightersSonic Highways

It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have gone since the formation of the Foo Fighters. Yet Sonic Highways is already their 8th studio album since 1995. The album takes inspiration from the Sound City studio in Los Angeles and the greatest rock 'n' roll cities in America. They paid tribute to real arena rock 'n' roll, which swarmed in the 1980s. Even if the record includes only 8 songs, all of them are highly effective in remembering the good old days of hard rock of the 1970s and 1980s. In fact, it is a pure rock album, as it is less done today. It's just a shame that at each song we have the feeling of having already heard it in the past. In conclusion, Sonic Highways gives us the desire to go listen to albums from our childhood instead of repeating it in loops. It is not unpleasant, but it definitely lacks creativity. (December 2014)

Music Video: « Something From Nothing »

RCA / Sony

 Little Big Town – Pain Killer

Little Big TownPain Killer

Compared for a long time to Fleetwood Mac, contemporary country band Little Big Town has managed to differentiate itself with the Tornado album in 2012. With Pain Killer, the band really takes off. The album has a greater than life production, but there is also risk taking when they leave their usual comfort and they dare to try new sounds. We can hear distorted guitars, electronic elements, a little bit of reggae and folk rock for three songs in conclusion of the CD. High quality compositions quickly become contagious and so it is quite easy to appreciate this new album. Pain Killer is definitely the best album by Little Big Town to date. (December 2014)

Music Video: « Day Drinking »

Capitol / Universal

½

 Kiesza – Sound of a Woman

KieszaSound of a Woman

The female singer from Calgary has become famous in recent months thanks to the hit "Hideaway" inspired by the 1990s. It is one of the few songs tending to house music on this first album that goes in all possible directions of pop music. One can even hear soft piano ballads which fortunately showcase her beautiful voice. Note her rather slow cover of "What Is Love?" by Haddaway, one of the biggest dance hits of the 1990s. We understand quickly that Kiesza influences come from the decade that has rocked her childhood. Otherwise, there is a dangerous lack of guideline on Sound of a Woman which goes too much in different directions, with in addition some frankly uninteresting tracks. This first record by Kiesza is unfortunately an album to listen by pieces. (December 2014)

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

Island / Universal

 Echosmith – Talking Dreams

EchosmithTalking Dreams

Echosmith is a Los Angeles band formed in 2009 by the Sierota brothers and their younger sister Sydney as singer. Talking Dreams is their first album, first released in the fall of 2013 and now reissued with a new front cover. The quartet offers us an energetic pop rock sound strongly influenced by the dance rock of the 1980s. In this sense, one can compare them largely to the Killers and Paramore, but also to U2 for their guitar sounds and Fleetwood Mac for their vocal harmonies. The young band has a certain lightness, but has above all unforgettable melodies. So you can bet that with more experience they can offer us music with a little more substance while remaining as pleasant as it is. (December 2014)

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

Warner

 Moist – Glory Under Dangerous Skies

MoistGlory Under Dangerous Skies

Canadian rock band Moist was formed in Vancouver in 1992 and took advantage of the post-grunge wave to develop a horde of fans. After several years of separation during which singer David Usher has managed to get a nice solo career, the band is back to release a new album, its fourth. For this record, we can see many new faces: Jonathan Gallivan on guitar, Louis Lalancette on bass and Francis Fillion on drums. Produced by guitarist Mark Makoway, Glory Under Dangerous Skies follows the same path the group had left 15 years ago with a rather common rock sound, with no big surprises. (December 2014)

Universal

 Billy Idol – Kings & Queens of the Underground

Billy IdolKings & Queens of the Underground

The rocker from London issues his first album in nine years, only his second since Cyberpunk in 1993. This new album actually wants to be a companion to his autobiography. Otherwise, the songs of Kings & Queens of the Underground have nothing autobiographical. We obviously find traces of his past sound with some punk influences, but so integrated in the big pop machine it doesn’t remain authentic anymore. Idol still presents songs with electro arrangements, after having explored the genre a long time ago already. The main difference in this new album compared to the previous one is that the singer seems much calmer, more serene. He sings better than ever, even though it is easily suspect that there was substantial assistance by technology. After all, the enfant terrible is already approaching sixty years old. In conclusion, the main problem with this new CD by Billy Idol is an obvious lack of creativity. It is pleasant to listen to, but not for too long and above all, you retain very few things from it. "Postcards from the Past" and "Can’t Break Me Down" are certainly among the good ones on the CD, but not by their creativity. Rather because they remind us of what we liked about Billy Idol in the 1980s, which is unforgettable energetic rock songs. (December 2014)

Music Video: « Can’t Break Me Down »

½

 Annie Lennox – Nostalgia

Annie LennoxNostalgia

As the title of her new album says, Annie Lennox puts on nostalgia for us to embark into her world. She revisits indeed great jazz, pop and R&B standards. Although she remains a pop singer with an incomparable voice, she seems quite comfortable in a jazzy atmosphere, and for several years now. Whether interpreting in her own way "Georgia On My Mind", "I Put a Spell On You", "Summertime" and "Strange Fruit", she always manages to bring out the best of each song, offered all smoothly. In addition, she enjoys a leading production. With Nostalgia, Annie Lennox managed the feat to make us rediscover and appreciate classics often heard in all kinds of versions. (December 2014)

Blue Note / Universal

½

 Guy Bélanger – Blues Turn

Guy BélangerBlues Turn

For his new album, the harmonica player from Quebec City returns to his first love, blues, even if it incorporates influences of gospel, country and rock. For the record, Bélanger traveled from Montreal to Chicago via Toronto. He has worked with some of the best musicians in Chicago, in addition to have singer and guitarist Jimmy Johnson as a special guest. With Blues Turn, Quebec bluesman demonstrates that he has nothing to prove and he is one of the greatest instrumentalists and composers in the genre in the country. (December 2014)

Bros / SIX

½

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

The Sex PistolsThe Sex Pistols on TV (DVD) (2014)

This 2-hour DVD presents various interviews by the Sex Pistols through the years with Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Malcolm McClaren and Steve Jones at the microphone. They can be heard at their debut trying to defend the objectives of punk rock, and two years later to explain their split. It goes back on the circumstances surrounding the murder charges on Sid Vicious and his following death of a heroin overdose. Then, you can hear John Lydon talking about his new band in the 1980s, Public Image Limited, and his new interest in nature and the marine world. Very interesting in its first 30 minutes, the film becomes a bit less exciting later when the Sex Pistols as we know them are already from the past. As a bonus, you can see a 20-minute Sid Vicious documentary preview. (December 2014)

A2B / ITN / MVD

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

 

NOVEMBER:

 

U2 – Songs of Innocence

U2Songs of Innocence

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

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

Island / Universal

Ex Hex – Rips

Ex HexRips

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

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

Merge

½

 Bryan Adams – Tracks of My Years

Bryan AdamsTracks of My Years

For his twelfth studio album and first since 2008, the Canadian songwriter and performer has decided to make himself a gift and cover classics of his youth and who influenced him. After spending considerable time in the studio, he was able to give the desired sound for each of the selected songs so that they are not too similar to the original version. You can hear The Beatles’ "Any Time At All", Bob Dylan’s "Lay Lady Lay", Chuck Berry’s "Rock and Roll Music", CCR’s "Down on the Corner", The Beach Boys’ "God Only Knows", and several others. Adams also offers a new original song, "She Knows Me". Performances are very well done on this album that manages to make us forget most of the original versions. It is the performer who is featured on this new record by Bryan Adams. A deluxe version adds an additional 5 tracks to the 11 of the standard version. (November 2014)

Polydor / Universal

½

 A*Star – A*Star is My Name

A*StarA*Star is My Name

After excellent albums in French in addition to having arranged and produced many albums of high quality, Antoine Gratton comes to us with his alter ego, A*Star, for his first album entirely in English. The singer and pianist of great talent presents an album living up to the expectations with 14 very good compositions in the pop rock energetic style. After a softer end, A*Star is My Name goes to a second CD of acoustic versions while Antoine finds himself in the company of Orpheus Quartet. He reinterprets the catchiest songs of the first CD in a much more intimate and touching style. We therefore find the two main facets of the personality of Antoine Gratton, a man of a thousand faces that will certainly have fun on stage, regardless of the formula used. (November 2014)

Sphère / eOne

½

 Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga – Cheek to Cheek

Tony Bennett & Lady GagaCheek to Cheek

At first glance, the duo formed of crooner Tony Bennett and pop diva Lady Gaga may seem odd, but they have worked together in 2011. Also, Lady Gaga has a history of cabaret singer. It is therefore quite appropriate to hear the duo sing these jazz standards with a full orchestra. With songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin (including the title track), Duke Ellington, and many others, we discover how Bennett has lost none of his vocal capacities despite his 88 years of age. As for Lady Gaga, one quickly realizes that her voice beautifully frames in such a jazz context. Otherwise, she seems uncertain of her abilities on some occasions, which removes the power and luster to her interpretation. The main drawback of the album is that you cannot get rid of the personality of the duo and the songs are automatically in the background. Much better interpretations of these classics have been recorded over the years, unfortunately. (November 2014)

Interscope / Universal

 Caribou – Our Love

CaribouOur Love

Dan Snaith already issues his sixth album under the pseudonym of Caribou. The electro artist again offers us a very good indie pop album with relaxing atmospheres. Otherwise, his music is more than ever moving towards the dance floors where DJs will take pleasure in remixing it. With a little more arrangements, the infectious beats possess all the necessary characteristics to satisfy fans of house music. But, his approach still remains quite psychedelic despite good pop melodies, which is most likely to appeal to fans of indie music. His love of 1980’s percussions and synthesizers is difficult to hide for Caribou who always seems immersed between two eras. The compositions are certainly of high quality, but Our Love cannot compete with the excellent Andorra released in 2007. (November 2014)

Merge

½

 Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems

Leonard CohenPopular Problems

The Montrealer celebrates his 80 years with a new album, which is perfectly in line with Old Ideas issued two years ago. While respecting the folk tradition that he developed himself in the 1960s, he managed to go a little further with the integration of blues, gospel and even country ("Did I Ever Love You") influences. The album is totally dominated by piano, also with a good presence of female voices to contrast with his baritone voice that is lower than ever. Most of the nine compositions are surprisingly creative in a genre that might seem overused, especially in these years of the corporate resurrection of folk. It is therefore necessary to face the fact that among all the talented and ambitious new generation, there are old timers like Cohen who continue to dominate. (November 2014)

Columbia / Sony

 Melissa Etheridge – This Is M.E.

Melissa EtheridgeThis Is M.E.

On this 12th album, Melissa Etheridge is accompanied by many collaborators to offer a variety of styles, sometimes quite far from what she used to. Among others, we can find many R&B specialists including Roccstar, Jon Levine and Jerry Wonder. There are also more logical choices as the author Jerrod Bettis who worked with Adele and Gavin DeGraw. More pop and energetic than most of her previous albums, This is M.E. is likely to be very pleasant to play in concert for the singer so she can really have fun. It is only a pity that the various explorations are not always successful and they do not all go well together. In addition, fans of roots music may remain unsatisfied. (November 2014)

 

Jennifer HudsonJHUD

After the very effective I Remember Me three years ago, the R&B female singer from Chicago is back with a third album that pursues the same path. It contains some outdated elements recalling disco and pop of the early 1980s. Pharrell Williams compositions are particularly successful, especially the first single, "I Can’t Describe" (with T.I.). There is also a very good song from R. Kelly, "It's Your World". Other contributors to the album include Timbaland and Iggy Azalea. This is a fairly strong album that offers us Jennifer Hudson, an album that will make you move while revealing the beautiful voice of the singer. (November 2014)

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

½

 Iceage – Plowing into the Field of Love

IceagePlowing into the Field of Love

The Danish experimental alternative rock band releases a third album on which they leave aside their hardcore style. They integrate indeed acoustic instruments leaving a lot more room to breathe. Folk and blues influences are obvious, but the monotone voice of singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt can become quite annoying in the long term. Experimentation remains well present with overlays beats not far from cacophony on several occasions. It is therefore once again a creative album for Iceage, but so difficult to appreciate at the first listenings that it can become discouraging to want to join so much. In addition, is it possible to please their fans with this less punk new direction? Not sure. (November 2014)

Matador / Beggars

 Lenny Kravitz – Strut

Lenny KravitzStrut

For his tenth album, Lenny Kravitz leaves out any sociopolitical messages like he had on Black and White America.. By the title of the album and the first song simply titled "Sex," we understand that the New Yorker has every intention to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. He has good catchy tracks, everything you need to groove happily. These infectious beats often stretch over several minutes for an album of 12 songs totalling 53 minutes. The efficiency of the record, unpretentious, makes it quite exciting like it is not necessarily when he deals with serious subjects that he is at his best. Some ballads somewhat lack interest, such as the cover of Smokey Robinson’s "Ooo Baby Baby". But the whole is still very interesting and allows the addition of an important piece to his repertoire. (November 2014)

Music Video: « The Chamber »

Red Ink / Roxie

½

 Matt Laurent – Matt Laurent

Matt LaurentMatt Laurent

Matt Laurent is a songwriter and singer of talent who played for several years, but he is also known as a producer and arranger, as well as having written several hits for other artists. His most recent project, Lucky Uke, allowed him to reach a new audience with his ukulele covers of successful hard rock songs of the 1980s like "Cum On Feel the Noize" and "We're Not Gonna Take It". On this self-titled fourth solo album, Laurent offers a majority of lyrics in English except for a pair of songs in French including the first single, "On va s’parler d’amour". It features two duets: "Until You Go (Un jour d’été)" with France D'Amour and the excellent "Please, Please Stay" with Colbie Caillat. One can also hear his sweet version of The Beatles’ "Drive My Car". What is immediately impressive with this new album, it's the incredibly effective melodies that come to mind quickly. Few weak moments are found among the 11 tracks on the album which are linked together very nicely. Here is an excellent album by Matt Laurent. (November 2014)

Vega

½

 Nico & Vinz – Black Star Elephant

Nico & VinzBlack Star Elephant

Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery are a duo from Oslo, Norway and they started working together in 2012 under the name of Envy. After changing their name in 2013, they now release their first album as Nico & Vinz. They play R&B with a strong pop tendency and include to their repertoire some poignant ballads despite a generally rhythmic music. In fact, their approach is much more of an afro-beat pop sound than Scandinavian music. They can be compared in part to Bruno Mars, but some can also make a parallel with Sting on some occasions. The main problem is that they are too easily comparable to other artists of the genre, demonstrating a lack of personality. The result: despite a sound that pleases at start, you get tired quickly when you start to get lost in the game of comparisons. In addition, with 21 tracks totaling nearly 60 minutes, the album only gives you little chance to wait until the end. (November 2014)

Warner

½

 Prince – Art Official Age

Prince – Art Official Age

Two albums are simultaneously presented by Prince when in addition to his solo album Art Official Age, he also releases a record along with the female trio 3rdEyeGirl, PlectrumElectrum. For Art Official Age, Prince does not hesitate to return to a 1980’s funky sound to add to his R&B and electronic music that is still contemporary. The dance tracks are numerous and it also includes some rap verses. In fact, Prince once again presents what he does best with a mixture of everything that inspires him. Unfortunately, despite good creativity in general, several songs have a lack of interest which helps to jump over tracks on numerous occasions. Even if Prince remains an original artist in his way of creating, it remains difficult for him to provide good full-length albums since several years. (November 2014)

Warner

 Sixx: A.M. – Modern Vintage

Sixx: A.M.Modern Vintage

Nikki Sixx, bassist and main songwriter of Mötley Crüe, decided to form his own band in 2006 with singer James Michael and DJ Ashba. Sixx is issuing the third album of Sixx: A.M. in the wake of the farewell tour of his main group. As indicated in the title of Modern Vintage, it borrows elements that made the glory days of hard rock, while using slightly more modern technology, including electronics in the rhythms and textures. The album is more accessible and danceable than the previous two records of the band, but it still remains firmly rooted in rock. An effective rock sound of the 21st century, a far cry from what Sixx could have wrote for Mötley Crüe since the 1990s. While Mötley Crüe is leaving, Sixx: A.M. seems to be taking off with certainly their best album. Note their very modern version of The Cars’ “Drive”. (November 2014)

Eleven Seven / Universal

½

 Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End

WeezerEverything Will Be Alright in the End

In such a desire to return to the sound of their debut, Weezer decided to hire once again Ric Ocasek to produce their ninth album. After the pop evolution on Raditude, and their comeback into the underground with Hurley, the group finds back a large and clean rock sound on Everything Will Be Alright in the End. Even if he is back in a familiar zone, Rivers Cuomo still allows himself to do some music explorations, including a conclusion with a progressive touch. But we must admit, most of this album has the sound Weezer does best and that allowed the group to create its entire fan base. Although surprises are a little less evident on this new album, it is sure to please most of their loyal audience. (November 2014)

Music Video: « Back to the Shack »

Republic / Universal

½

 

OCTOBER:

 

Maroon 5 – V

Maroon 5V

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

Music Video: « Maps »

Interscope / Universal

Alvvays – Alvvays

AlvvaysAlvvays

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

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

Royal Mountain

½

 Alt-J – This Is All Yours

Alt-JThis Is All Yours

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral

Rich AucoinEphemeral

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

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

Bonsound

½

 Betty Bonifassi – Betty Bonifassi

Betty BonifassiBetty Bonifassi

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

L-A be / SIX

½

 Steph Cameron – Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady

Steph CameronSad-Eyed Lonesome Lady

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

Pheromone / SIX

½

 Adam Cohen – We Go Home

Adam CohenWe Go Home

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

Music Video: « We Go Home »

Rezolute / Universal / SIX

½

 Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland

Counting CrowsSomewhere Under Wonderland

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

Music Video: « Palisades Park »

Capitol / Universal

½

 Electric Youth – Innerworld

Electric YouthInnerworld

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

Music Videos: « Innocence » - « Runaway »

Last Gang

 Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal – Songs of Time Lost

Piers Faccini & Vincent Ségal – Songs of Time Lost

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

No Format / Naïve / SIX

 Wiz Khalifa – Blacc Hollywood

Wiz KhalifaBlacc Hollywood

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

 Kimbra – The Golden Echo

KimbraThe Golden Echo

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

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

Warner

½

 The Mandevilles – Windows and Stones

The MandevillesWindows and Stones

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

Music Video: « Hangovers »

MDM / SIX

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

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

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

Music Video: « Take Me To Church »

½

 Opeth – Pale Communion

OpethPale Communion

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

Roadrunner / Warner

½

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

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

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

Music Video: « Rainbow »

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Robin Schulz – Prayer

Robin SchulzPrayer

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

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

Tonspiel / Warner

½

 Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

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

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

Roadrunner / Warner

½

 Kinnie Starr – From Far Away

Kinnie StarrFrom Far Away

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

Aporia

 The Wilderness of Manitoba – Between Colours

The Wilderness of ManitobaBetween Colours

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

Pheromone / SIX

½

 Karl Wolf – Stereotype

Karl WolfStereotype

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

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

Universal

½

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

Avenged SevenfoldWaking the Fallen: Resurrected (2 CD + DVD) (2004 Edition)

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

Documentary

Hopeless / Universal

½

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

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

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

MVD

½

 

SEPTEMBER:

 

Jason Mraz – Yes!

Jason MrazYes!

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

Music Video: « Love Someone »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Bleachers – Strange Desire

BleachersStrange Desire

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

Music Video: « I Wanna Get Better »

RCA / Sony

½

 Asa – Bed of Stone

AsaBed of Stone

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

Music Video: « Dead Again »

Naïve / SIX

 Megan Bonnell – Hunt and Chase

Megan BonnellHunt and Chase

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

Nevado / SIX

 DragonForce – Maximum Overload

DragonForceMaximum Overload

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

Music Video: « The Game »

Metal Blade / Universal

½

 Ariana Grande – My Everything

Ariana GrandeMy Everything

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

Music Videos: « Problem » - « Break Free »

Republic / Universal

 In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist

In-Flight SafetyConversationalist

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

Ooh La La / Fontana North

 Vance Joy – Dream Your Life Away

Vance JoyDream Your Life Away

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

 King 810 – Memoirs of a Murderer

King 810Memoirs of a Murderer

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

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

Roadrunner / Warner

 La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

La RouxTrouble in Paradise

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

Music Video: « Let Me Down Gently »

Polydor / Universal

½

 Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Jenny LewisThe Voyager

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

Music Video: « Just One of the Guys »

Warner

½

 Lea Longo – Songs of a Siren

Lea LongoSongs of a Siren

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

Sweet Life

 Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Manic Street PreachersFuturology

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

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

Columbia / Sony

½

 Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

PallbearerFoundations of Burden

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

Profound Lore

½

 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye

Tom Petty & The HeartbreakersHypnotic Eye

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

Reprise / Warner

½

 Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Royal BloodRoyal Blood

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

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

Imperial Galactic / Warner

½

 Brian Setzer – Rockabilly Riot! All Original

Brian SetzerRockabilly Riot! All Original

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

Surfdog / Universal

 Sloan – Commonwealth

SloanCommonwealth

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

Yep Roc

½

 Tennis – Ritual in Repeat

TennisRitual in Repeat

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

Communion / Universal

½

 Willows – Willows

WillowsWillows

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

Sirène des plaines / SIX

½

 Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Music from the Broadway Musical)

In the Broadway musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Neil Patrick Harris plays a German transsexual singer. One can only make comparisons with the character of Ziggy Stardust created by David Bowie 40 years ago. Even musically Hedwig is not so far from Ziggy with several moments of energetic rock 'n' roll and more melodramatic passages, well rendered by Harris. The album is listening well, but it is above all a transportable souvenir for those who attended the show. (September 2014)

Behind-the-Scenes (ABC)

Atlantic / Warner

B.B. King – The Life of Riley (DVD)

B.B. KingThe Life of Riley (DVD) (2014)

The Life of Riley is a documentary by filmmaker Jon Brewer with narration by Morgan Freeman presenting the life and career of blues legend B.B. King. Born in Mississippi in 1925, Riley B. King had a difficult childhood before discovering a passion for music. After his debut in Memphis, B.B. King was instrumental in carrying the blues of the Southern US plantations on the biggest stages in the world. The excellent 2-hour documentary presents comments by other legends he influenced as Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, Bill Wyman, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Bono, and many others . This film not only offers a biography of the artist, but also paints a portrait of an entire segment of American music and blues in particular, including British blues artists who were inspired by him. As a bonus, the DVD features longer interviews and a live performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. (September 2014)

Bounce / MVD

½

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

 

AUGUST:

 

Jennifer Lopez – A.K.A.

Jennifer LopezA.K.A.

After several albums without much interest, Jennifer Lopez is trying to relaunch her singing career with A.K.A. While RedOne is still present as an executive producer, she surrounds herself with people who can bring her back in the heart of the current pop scene, as Pitbull, T.I., Rick Ross and Iggy Azalea with which Jennifer made ​​duets. Leon Youngblood is producing the most interesting songs of the record: "Acting Like That" (with Iggy Azalea), "So Good" and the title track (with T.I.). You can hear several less interesting R&B ballads, but the most energetic moments make us stomp, including the entertaining "Booty" (with Pitbull) in conclusion of the CD. A deluxe version of the album adds 6 more tracks. Not necessarily relying on the forefront of the pop scene, Jennifer manages to present an album of its time including some interesting elements. (August 2014 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « I Luh Ya Papi » - « First Love »

Capitol / Universal

½

Tessanne Chin – Count on my Love

Tessanne ChinCount on my Love

Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Tessanne Chin already had some success in her native country when the world has discovered her with her presence at the 5th season of The Voice in the United States, a contest she won at the end. For this first album, she offers an excellent blend of R&B and pop with several moments of reggae she took directly from her first influence. Some tracks stand out from the whole, but what is standing out the most is her versatility and her ability to move from one style to another fluidly. So, Count on my Love manages to remain consistent until the end, despite the various musical explorations. (August 2014 Featured New Artist)

Republic / Universal

½

 Big Wreck – Ghosts

Big WreckGhosts

The Canadian grunge band has a second album since its comeback in 2012 with a new line-up of musicians. You can always hear a sound similar to Soundgarden, Alice In Chains and Led Zeppelin, but the group tries this time a more progressive rock exploration. It also extends its expertise with some acoustic passages. At the same time, Ghosts is an album with a wider musical spectrum than what they had previously offered. Without revolutionizing anything, the band releases a solid album, possibly its best to date. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Ghosts »

Anthem / Warner

½

 Common – Nobody’s Smiling

CommonNobody’s Smiling

The Chicago rapper is back with a new album, his first in three years. On this record, he expresses his concern about the situation in his city. For the occasion, he surrounds himself with many artists from Chicago, whose No. I.D., Dreezy, Lil Herb and Malik Yusef. This is perhaps one of his hardest albums to date with not only whistleblower lyrics, but also often aggressive beats. Still, it certainly does not approach the hardness of songs on Yeezus by Kanye West in which he participated. Common has several compositions of quality among the 10 offered. Nobody's Smiling is actually his best album in a long time, perhaps since Be released in 2005. (August 2014)

Music Videos: « Kingdom » - « Diamonds »

Def Jam / Universal

½

 Da Cruz – Disco E Progresso

Da CruzDisco E Progresso

Da Cruz was born from the collaboration between Brazilian singer Mariana Da Cruz and electronic musician Ane H. Determined to change our vision of Brazilian music, Mariana brings a new color to the bossa nova with the integration of different influences ranging from disco to jazz, funk, afrobeat, dancehall and samba. This fourth album is a double CD in two distinct parts. First, the bright side contains a festive rhythmic music which always remains warm despite the many electronic elements it includes. For the dark side, we find a little more hard industrial influenced rhythms, including new wave and Indus sounds with themes expressing the confusion of people facing the economic situation in their country. Here is a very good album of world music with varied influences. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Bola da Discoteca »

S.P.A.C.E. / SIX

½

 Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence

Lana Del ReyUltraviolence

After a first album that has created quite a stir in 2012 despite many weaknesses, Lana Del Rey has refined her style and she returns with a sophomore album much more effective. Produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, the record has a very special dark atmosphere in which melancholy is present until the end. It is therefore a dense album, but that still manages to seduce us fairly quickly. We may find few instant hits, but we can hear extremely satisfactory compositions. With Ultraviolence, the New Yorker finally meets the expectations created around her first album. An excellent album of alternative pop with substance! (August 2014)

Music Videos: « West Coast » - « Shades of Cool »

Interscope / Universal

½

 FaltyDL – In the Wild

FaltyDLIn the Wild

Drew Lustman (aka FaltyDL) presents a blend of house, hardcore techno, drum 'n' bass, dubstep and garage without ever really specializing in any of these styles. The New Yorker loves sudden changes and we are constantly destabilized. He is therefore not the ideal candidate to fill the dance floors. For this fourth studio album, FaltyDL has collaborated with visual artist Chris Shen to somehow create a collection of sounds and spatial effects that seem more visual than auditory. It feels great to see the wilderness by listening to several pieces, hence the title of the album, In the Wild. The completely instrumental CD has arrangements closer than ever to film music. There is only one step to do for FaltyDL to go into an electro-symphonic sound. In the Wild is certainly not an easy album to approach, but after a few listens, you'll discover excellent atmospheric music that is more likely to appeal to fans of the Flaming Lips than to fans of danceable house. Here is a very good record of experimental electro. (August 2014)

Ninja Tune

½

 Fatboy Slim – Bem Brasil (2 CD)

Fatboy SlimBem Brasil (2 CD)

DJ Fatboy Slim takes the advantage of this year's World Cup in Brazil to present his very personal version of Brazilian music. The first CD has extremely energetic dance tracks that will certainly make move more than the fans of bossa nova with their house and dubstep approach. There's even Fedde Le Grand’s "Put Your Hands Up For Detroit", which becomes for the occasion "Put Your Hands Up For Brasil". The second CD has meanwhile more ambient pieces for the late evening. It includes two Gilberto Gil songs, the legend of Brazilian music. With these two discs, Fatboy Slim allows us to see Brazil in a different light, but still in a festive way. (August 2014)

Decca / Universal

½

 The Flaming Lips – 7 Skies H3

The Flaming Lips7 Skies H3

After more than 30 years of existence, the American alternative rock band has not mellowed, and most importantly, it has not lost its desire to explore new territories. In 2011, they worked on the composition of a piece extending over no less than 24 hours, 7 Skies H3. To make it a little more marketable, the composition was divided into 10 tracks totalling 50 minutes. It includes many instrumental passages, completely cacophonous experimental times, as well as more atmospheric pieces in the style of the Flaming Lips. Definitely not an easy album to approach, 7 Skies H3 occurs mainly as another unique work in the vast repertoire of the band, which should at the same time please their fans. (August 2014)

Warner