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

 

OCTOBER 2014

 

FEATURED REVIEW:  Maroon 5    FEATURED NEW ARTIST:  Alvvays

 

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION:

Slipknot - Opeth - Avenged Sevenfold - Big Wreck - King 810 - Thou

HALLOWEEN IN BRIEF:

Sepultura - Ministry - Ozzy Osbourne - KISS

 

OCTOBER 15-21:

Steph Cameron - Kinnie Starr - Electric Youth - Robin Schulz

 

OCTOBER 8-14:

Alt-J - The Wilderness of Manitoba - The Mandevilles - Rich Aucoin - Piers Faccini & Vincent Ségal

 

OCTOBER 1-7:

Adam Cohen - Robert Plant - Sinéad O'Connor - Counting Crows - Kimbra - Karl Wolf - Wiz Khalifa - Betty Bonifassi - The Breithaupt Brothers - Grant Hart (DVD)

 

Reviews coming up next month:

U2 - Leonard Cohen - Lenny Kravitz - Prince - Melissa Etheridge - Jennifer Hudson - Matt Laurent - Bryan Adams - Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

Custom Search

 

archives:

 

SEPTEMBER 22-28:

Vance Joy - Sloan - Tennis

 

SEPTEMBER 15-21:

Ariana Grande - Megan Bonnell - Willows - In-Flight Safety

 

SEPTEMBER 8-14:

Asa - Royal Blood - Pallbearer - Lea Longo

 

SEPTEMBER 1-7:

Jason Mraz - Bleachers - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - La Roux - Jenny Lewis - Brian Setzer - Manic Street Preachers - DragonForce - Beck - Laura Mvula - Hedwig and the Angry Inch - Boyhood - B.B. King (DVD)

 

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

 

 

       

       

     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

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".

Music Video: « Maps »

Interscope / Universal

  YouTube     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

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.

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

Royal Mountain

½

 

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL EDITION:

 

Halloween Shop - Amazon.ca

 

 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.

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

Roadrunner / Warner

½

 Opeth – Pale Communion

OpethPale Communion

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

Roadrunner / Warner

½

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

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

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

Documentary

Hopeless / 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

 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

 Thou – Heathen

ThouHeathen

Thou is a doom metal outfit formed in 2005 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After three albums and several EPs, the band comes up with an epic and heavy record that catches us without warning and shakes us tirelessly for 75 long minutes. There are no less than 5 tracks around or above the 10-minute bar, including the opening song to give you goose bumps, "Free Will". Fortunately, it is followed by a short interlude a little softer before going back to the dark side with "Feral Faun" including an introduction in the Metallica style. When the wall of guitars is unleashed, we take a step back by pure reflex, and this will be the case throughout the CD that contains many moments to test the capacity of your speakers. The group never hesitates to experiment and it has very solid compositions in a style that has yet seen others as far back as in the best years of Black Sabbath in the early 1970s. Heathen is obviously not for sensitive ears, but if you live quite well with a bass line that makes your clothes move by its power, you'll have plenty to satisfy you. The album may well be heavy, it is still filled with subtleties and creativity that make it extremely intriguing. The effort will seem greatly rewarded, as it is certainly the best album to date by Thou. (April 2014)

Gilead

½

 

HALLOWEEN IN BRIEF:

 

 Sepultura – Metal Veins: Alive at Rock in Rio

SepulturaMetal Veins: Alive at Rock in Rio

Concert of the legendary Brazilian band recorded in their home country at Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro in September 2013.

 Ministry – Last Tangle in Paris: Live 2012 (2 CD + DVD)

Ministry – Last Tangle in Paris: Live 2012 (2 CD + DVD)

The ultimate Ministry concert recorded in Paris in 2012 with interviews and backstage footage.

 Ozzy Osbourne – Memoirs of a Madman

Ozzy OsbourneMemoirs of a Madman

Collection of the greatest hits of his career, including tracks from each of his albums.

 KISS – KISS 40 Years: Decades of Decibels (2 CD)

KISSKISS 40 Years: Decades of Decibels (2 CD)

Collection of 2 CDs of live recordings by the hottest band of rock 'n' roll in the world to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Universal

 

OCTOBER 15-21:

 

 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.

Pheromone / SIX

½

 Kinnie Starr – From Far Away

Kinnie StarrFrom Far Away

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

Aporia

 Electric Youth – Innerworld

Electric Youth Innerworld

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

Music Videos: « Innocence » - « Runaway »

Last Gang

 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.

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

Tonspiel / Warner

½

 

OCTOBER 8-14:

 

 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!

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

 The Wilderness of Manitoba – Between Colours

The Wilderness of ManitobaBetween Colours

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

Pheromone / SIX

½

 The Mandevilles – Windows and Stones

The MandevillesWindows and Stones

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

Music Video: « Hangovers »

MDM / SIX

 Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral

Rich AucoinEphemeral

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

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

Bonsound

½

 Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal – Songs of Time Lost

Piers Faccini & Vincent Ségal – Songs of Time Lost

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

No Format / Naïve / SIX

 

OCTOBER 1-7:

 

 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.

Music Video: « We Go Home »

Rezolute / Universal / SIX

½

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

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

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

Music Video: « Rainbow »

Nonesuch / Warner

½

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

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

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

Music Video: « Take Me To Church »

½

 Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland

Counting CrowsSomewhere Under Wonderland

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

Music Video: « Palisades Park »

Capitol / Universal

½

 Kimbra – The Golden Echo

KimbraThe Golden Echo

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

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

Warner

½

 Karl Wolf – Stereotype

Karl WolfStereotype

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

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

Universal

½

 Wiz Khalifa – Blacc Hollywood

Wiz KhalifaBlacc Hollywood

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

 Betty Bonifassi – Betty Bonifassi

Betty BonifassiBetty Bonifassi

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

L-A be / SIX

½

 Just Passing Through: The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook Vol. II

Just Passing Through: The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook Vol. II

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

Alma / Universal / SIX

½

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

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

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

MVD

½

 

SEPTEMBER 22-28:

 

 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.

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Sloan – Commonwealth

SloanCommonwealth

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

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.

Communion / Universal

½

 

SEPTEMBER 15-21:

 

 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!

Music Videos: « Problem » - « Break Free »

Republic / Universal

 Megan Bonnell – Hunt and Chase

Megan BonnellHunt and Chase

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

Nevado / SIX

 Willows – Willows

WillowsWillows

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

Sirène des plaines / SIX

½

 In-Flight Safety – Conversationalist

In-Flight SafetyConversationalist

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

Ooh La La / Fontana North

 

SEPTEMBER 8-14:

 

 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.

Music Video: « Dead Again »

Naïve / SIX

 Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Royal BloodRoyal Blood

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

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

Imperial Galactic / Warner

½

 Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden

PallbearerFoundations of Burden

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

Profound Lore

½

 Lea Longo – Songs of a Siren

Lea LongoSongs of a Siren

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

Sweet Life

 

SEPTEMBER 1-7:

 

Jason Mraz – Yes!

Jason MrazYes!

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

Music Video: « Love Someone »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Bleachers – Strange Desire

BleachersStrange Desire

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

Music Video: « I Wanna Get Better »

RCA / Sony

½

 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye

Tom Petty & The HeartbreakersHypnotic Eye

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

Reprise / Warner

½

 La Roux – Trouble in Paradise

La RouxTrouble in Paradise

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

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.

Music Video: « Just One of the Guys »

Warner

½

 Brian Setzer – Rockabilly Riot! All Original

Brian SetzerRockabilly Riot! All Original

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

Surfdog / Universal

 Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

Manic Street Preachers Futurology

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

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

Columbia / Sony

½

 DragonForce – Maximum Overload

DragonForceMaximum Overload

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

Music Video: « The Game »

Metal Blade / Universal

½

 Beck – Song Reader

Beck Song Reader

Song Reader contains 20 songs written by Beck and performed by various artists. Released in 2012 in the form of illustrated music sheets, the album was finally completed in its traditional format. We can hear Norah Jones, Jack White, Jeff Tweedy, Fun., Jarvis Cocker, Loudon Wainwright III, Marc Ribot, Jack Black and many others. In addition to producing the album with Randall Poster, Beck himself comes to interpret the Beatlesque "Heaven's Ladder".

Warby Parker / Capitol / Universal

½

 Laura Mvula - Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios (Live)

Laura Mvula - Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios (Live)

The young singer from Birmingham, England presents a new version of the great songs from her excellent album Sing to the Moon released last year. She is accompanied for the occasion by the Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley, everything recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. The presence of the 52 musicians in the orchestra adds some theatricality to her music, although some softer pieces do not seem so different from the original with already beautiful arrangements. Little work on post-production was done except for the voice of Laura for a couple of times. With this record, her fans can rediscover the songs they liked with a new perspective.

RCA Victor / Sony

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.

Behind-the-Scenes (ABC)

Atlantic / Warner

 Boyhood

Boyhood (Movie Soundtrack)

As it is often the case with the music of the movies by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Suburbia, School of Rock), found on the soundtrack of Boyhood is an array of eclectic artists. You can hear classic rock (Paul McCartney & Wings for "Band on the Run"), folk (Bob Dylan for "Beyond the Horizon"), garage rock (The Hives for "Hate To Say I Told You So") and pop music (Gnarls Barkley for "Crazy"). Otherwise, there is a general trend to alternative / indie rock with artists like Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Wilco, Vampire Weekend and Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer with the only original song on the CD, "Summer Noon"). We can also hear the classic "Yellow" by Coldplay and "Do You Realize ??" by The Flaming Lips, as well as the newest hit by Gotye with Kimbra, "Somebody That I Used To Know". In fact, despite some more obscure tracks among the 16, Boyhood presents virtually a compilation of blockbusters for 62 minutes. A very good soundtrack!

Movie Trailer

Nonesuch / Warner

½

B.B. King – The Life of Riley (DVD)

B.B. KingThe Life of Riley (DVD)

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.

Bounce / MVD

½

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

 

AUGUST:

 

 Tank – Stronger

TankStronger

The R&B singer from Milwaukee comes to us with a new album after having collaborated with Tyrese and Ginuwine in TGT. Despite its title that creates high expectations, Stronger falls too quickly in the clichés of the genre, especially the ballads. Nothing really manages to carry us. The few attempts a bit more rhythmic give us some confidence, but it is short lived. This is the case among others at the opening with "You're My Star" with Kelly Rowland in the background. It is a frankly boring album Tank is giving us, perhaps his weakest to date, ironically. (August 2014)

Music Video: « You’re My Star »

Atlantic / Warner

 The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

The Gaslight AnthemGet Hurt

Less punk and more and more accessible, The Gaslight Anthem takes a turn toward the rock of the 1970s on this fifth album. They also have a little something of Pearl Jam that makes us forget the comparisons with Bruce Springsteen of the last albums. By its pop side, Get Hurt is likely to become the most popular of the band to date. Otherwise, although several songs deserve to listen to them several times, the compositions seem to lack personality dramatically, as if they had been happily dipping in the basket of influences for each track. It's an album that is pleasant to listen to, but it lacks creativity to make it the bomb we might have been expected. (August 2014)

Music Videos: « Get Hurt » - « Rollin’ and Tumblin’ »

Island / Universal

 Spoon – They Want My Soul

SpoonThey Want My Soul

The Austin, Texas indie rock band has been around for 20 years and they present their eighth studio album. After Transference in 2010 that contained a mixture of demos and studio cuts, the group took a break to allow its members to embark on personal projects, the most interesting being probably the one of Britt Daniel who formed Divine Fits with Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade). Therefore, Spoon makes a comeback four years later, completely invigorated. The guys seem to enjoy greater cohesion, for one of their most effective albums in a long time. We find strong compositions on They Want My Soul that make the album has nothing to envy to the best recordings of the band to date. Without actually containing instant hits, the CD still includes very good melodies, greatly catchy. Here is an excellent album to add to your collection. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Do You »

Republic / Universal

½

 A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent

A Sunny Day in GlasgowSea When Absent

Ben Daniels and his sisters Lauren and Robin began recording together in the mid-2000s and they now have their fourth album. They have an indie pop sound with shoegaze influences like My Bloody Valentine. For the first time on Sea When Absent, Ben retired from producing, as well as the writing of lyrics and vocal melodies. The Philadelphia band has a more live sound, ignoring the echoes and the many effects used extensively on its previous recordings. There are also excellent catchy melodies that will certainly make it their most pop album to date. Finally, Ben taking a little less space might be a good thing for the group that seems to find a new life. Despite this shift, the band's fans will not be too disoriented since the typical sound of the band with different textures is still alive. This is actually just a simple evolution for a group that prefers to look forward than backward. Only the future will tell us if A Sunny Day in Glasgow has taken the right direction, but it seems that the shift is particularly successful on Sea When Absent. (August 2014)

Lefse / Red Ink

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

 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

 Luluc – Passerby

LulucPasserby

Luluc is an Australian indie folk duo that formed fifteen years ago. But, it took them until 2008 before giving a first album to their Australian fans. Six years later, they come back with their second album, this time offered in America. They had attracted substantial attention with their first album, but they take a new start with the new record, co-produced by Aaron Dessner (The National). Passerby remains a simple album despite the addition of some instruments to the folk base. These additions remain subtle and warm, and they just bring the right amount of shades to the 10 beautiful love songs. Not easy to remain creative in a genre so exploited for decades. The band still manages to offer us something fresh. A great success if you like your music very quiet. (August 2014)

Sub Pop

½

 Ghost Town – The After Party

Ghost TownThe After Party

Ghost Town is a young band from Hollywood which deftly merges genres. They in fact have an energetic rock sound with an emo direction and pop melodies, not to mention a strong trend towards electronic and dubstep, with even some metal / industrial influences. Despite a pop sensibility, they can also at times blend beautifully in the context of a horror movie with tracks such as "You're So Creepy" and "Hocus Pocus". It is especially the voice of the singer, Kev Ghost, which constantly brings the group on the way to a more conventional pop sound. Ghost Town still offers enough creaky pieces that can make them more appealing to a more alternative audience. It is only a pity that the mixture of styles is not always completely successful. (August 2014)

Music Video: « You’re So Creepy »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

 Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun

MastodonOnce More ‘Round the Sun

The alternative metal band from Atlanta has its sixth album in 15 years of career. They explore this time the most accessible that one could find on their previous album, The Hunter, with its rather hard rock tunes. There are even several influences of the rock of the 1970s, for example with "High Road" that can remind us of Thin Lizzy. Progressive rock is still present in their sound, but grunge / sludge is never far away either with Alice In Chains that come to mind on some occasions. While Mastodon have certainly their most accessible compositions to date, the fact remains that most of them remain also very inspired. Here is a solid album that proves to be as pleasant to listen to. (August 2014)

Music Video: « High Road »

Reprise / Warner

½

 Ranee Lee – What’s Going On

Ranee LeeWhat’s Going On

The Montrealer of adoption presents the 12th album of her career. The great lady of Canadian Jazz signs 3 of the 10 songs in addition to play jazz, soul and reggae standards. She is accompanied for the occasion by several renowned musicians including pianists Taurey Butler and Chad Linsley, guitarist Richard Ring and saxophonist Chet Doxas. The string quartet Birds on a Wire is also involved in four songs. Among the most famous pieces offered by Ranee Lee, there is Marvin Gaye’s classic "What's Going On" which became the title track of the record, and Bob Marley’s "One Love" she plays with three of her granddaughters. "I Mean You" of Coleman Hawkins, Jon Hendricks and Thelonius Monk has a Latin rhythm, while "Lazy Afternoon" of John Latouche and Jerome Moross carries us into a cinematic experience. With What's Going On, the singer shows a good overview of her whole musical range, while her unique voice shines more than ever. A very good album of ambient jazz! (August 2014)

Justin Time / SIX

½

 Quatuor Ébène – Brazil

Quatuor Ébène Brazil

On this new album by the string quartet, it is Brazil that is featured in this year of World Cup of Soccer. For the occasion, they can count on two famous voices: those of Stacey Kent and Bernard Lavilliers. In addition to three songs by Lavilliers, you can hear famous covers of Stevie Wonder ("I Can’t Help It"), Wayne Shorter ("Ana Maria"), Sting ("Fragile"), Tom Jobim ("Aguas de Marcos"), Jim Tomlinson ("The Ice Hotel"), Charlie Chaplin ("Smile"), etc. Here they present a fusion of bossa nova and samba rhythms, as well as influences from various countries. This charming blend will certainly carry you under the hot Brazilian sun, and for more than 66 minutes. (August 2014)

Erato / Warner / Naxos

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 Chin Count 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

 Robin Thicke – Paula

Robin ThickePaula

After the unexpected success of "Blurred Lines" last year, the R&B singer already comes back with a new album. Released just in time for the summer season, Paula includes soft and sunny soul music which will pleasantly accompany your summer. The CD starts strongly in this direction with "You're My Fantasy" and the first single, "Get Her Back". Some ballads are somewhat changing the mood, but the whole remains a good soft entertainment. Otherwise, it is difficult to find another hit like "Blurred Lines" which broke several records. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Get Her Back »

Star Trak / Interscope / Universal

½

 

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

 Ed Sheeran – X

Ed SheeranX

The young English pop rock singer with a high trend in folk is back with a second album that continues in the same direction as his first album. He still presents a good dose of love songs and you can always compare him to Jason Mraz. Where he differs from his American alter ego, is when he is using hip hop inspired rhythms. This trend is particularly evident on "Sing", a collaboration with Pharrell Williams. This one works to another song later, "Runaway". The inclusion of rap in some tracks of the CD brings a different and creative touch to the album and at the same time it helps Sheeran to distinguish himself from the mass of pop rock singers who accompany themselves on acoustic guitar. With X, the British singer has his best album to date. (August 2014)

Music Videos: « Sing » - « One »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Phillip Phillips – Behind the Light

Phillip PhillipsBehind the Light

The pop rock singer from Georgia was first discovered in American Idol, especially since he won top honours at the 11th edition. Behind the Light is his second album since his release from the TV show. You can still hear the obvious influences of Dave Matthews Band, also with elements inspired by Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. He also adds folk influences like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. However, his ease with acoustic guitar and soulful vocals are contrasted with a large production and furnished orchestral arrangements. At the opening of the album, we can say that it is a style that fits him well. Otherwise, redundancy then quickly takes over the surprise for an album that finally fails to impress in its second half. The container seems largely to dominate the content and even if the packaging fits him well, it hides the evidence of some creative weaknesses. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Raging Fire »

Interscope / Universal

½

 Trey Songz – Trigga

Trey SongzTrigga

The sixth album by Trey Songz was not even available that four singles were already on the charts. It is therefore not surprising that Trigga is his most commercial album to date, and possibly one of the most accessible albums of contemporary R&B. The best songs include "Cake", "Foreign" (2 versions including a remix featuring Justin Bieber) and "Nana". In addition to Bieber, Trey Songz can count on the presence of several renowned singers including Nicki Minaj, Mila J and Juicy J. In his lyrics, the seducer is far from settling down. Instead, his confidence seems to have no limitations with women. But, inspired music and production of high quality allow us to forget the often somewhat pretentious lyrics by the singer from Virginia. Here is an album of great quality, certainly his best so far. (August 2014)

Music Videos: « Nana » - « SmartPhones » - « Foreign »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Linkin Park – The Hunting Party

Linkin ParkThe Hunting Party

After an association with producer Rick Rubin for three albums, Linkin Park takes a turn for The Hunting Party with Brad Delson and Mike Shinoda as co-producers of the record. Another important milestone is that the group abandoned the electronic atmospheres of the last albums to return to a purest rock sound. This homecoming may be rather well received by their fans, since it is in this style that the band is at its best. Several songs have the potential to become Linkin Park classics and some famous artists are participating in this revival of the California metal band. They include Page Hamilton (Helmet) and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave). With The Hunting Party, Linkin Park made a great comeback and they will certainly take back their rightful spot on the metal scene. (August 2014)

Music Video: « Until It’s Gone »

Warner

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

 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

 Joshua Redman – Trios Live

Joshua RedmanTrios Live

This album by saxophonist Joshua Redman presents him in concert with his trio at two venues. There are 4 songs recorded in October 2009 at the Jazz Standard in New York City and 3 songs recorded in February 2013 at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. We hear no guitar or piano on these recordings on which only bass and drums accompany the saxophone of Redman. He presents three original pieces and standards of Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht, Jay Livingston/Ray Evans, and Thelonious Monk. He also presents his unique version of Led Zeppelin’s "The Ocean". Redman does not hesitate to improvise, once again demonstrating all his musicianship. (August 2014)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – CSNY 1974

Crosby, Stills, Nash & YoungCSNY 1974

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

Rhino / Warner

½

Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! (DVD)

Clockwork Orange County: The Rise of West Coast Punk Rock! (DVD)

In the early 1970s, young tattooed punks from Southern California had a passion for loud music. These pioneers of punk found their sanctuary at Cuckoo's Nest, a club in Costa Mesa. This 74-minute documentary presents that new movement that would grow into a huge wave carrying Californian bands like T.S.O.L., Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys, but also artists from somewhere else like the Ramones and Iggy Pop. That movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s would not only become a staple in the history of music, but would also continue in subsequent generations with several revivals of Californian punk in recent decades. The documentary presents several interesting features of that era, but also many more insignificant and less interesting details for those who have not been part of the movement at that time. (August 2014)

Endurance / MVD

½

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JULY:

 

 Birdy – Fire Within

BirdyFire Within

Fire Within is the second album for the young 18 year-old English singer, but her first of original songs. Nevertheless, the CD starts with a cover, Bon Iver’s "Skinny Love". She participates in most of the compositions, but she can count on the support of many talented people including Ben Lovett (Mumford & Sons) and Sia. She offers some catchy and efficient pop songs, but also has several lower quality songs, not very creative. It is for her to discover the songwriting craft, and considering her young age, we can more easily forgive her efforts in formatted and too easy music. (July 2014)

Music Videos: « Skinny Love » - « Wings » - « Light Me Up » - « Words as Weapons »

Warner

 LP – Forever for Now

LP Forever for Now

Laura Pergolizzi (aka LP) grew up in New York before moving to Los Angeles. Her style is somewhere between Feist, Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett with a frankly rock attitude and intelligent lyrics. Even though this is her first album for a major label, LP played for more than a decade independently. On Forever for Now, producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, My Chemical Romance) manages to bring out the pop side of LP which offers excellent melodies. Here is an excellent album of pop rock, effective and creative. (July 2014)

Warner

½

 Clean Bandit – New Eyes

Clean BanditNew Eyes

The British band skillfully blends danceable house music and classical music with the addition of many string arrangements. Their music still remains very danceable and will appeal especially to fans of house or energetic pop. New Eyes is their first official album and contains among others "Mozart's House", a piece published in 2013 on the EP of the same title. The mixing of genres proves to be frankly interesting on several occasions, but sometimes the fusion seems forced. (July 2014)

Atlantic / Warner

 Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

Parquet CourtsSunbathing Animal

The Brooklyn band comes up with a second album just a year and a half after their excellent debut album, Light Up Gold. Sunbathing Animal shows the essence of what caught attention to their debut album including their greatly catchy melodies. Otherwise, they seem to take a good dose of maturity, which is far from being boring to hear. Tracks like "Black & White", "Instant Disassembly" and the title track ensure the satisfaction of their fans. But a key piece as "Always Back in Town" will certainly become the classic from the album, and perhaps for the band. (July 2014)

½

 Priests – Bodies and Control and Money and Power

PriestsBodies and Control and Money and Power

Priests is an indie rock band formed in Washington, D.C. in 2011. This first album from them is in fact an EP with 7 tracks totalling 17 minutes. Their punk influences are undeniable, but their sound is more towards a grinding post-punk sound which is not without reminding us of Sonic Youth and Fugazi on different occasions. Difficult to access, the album doesn’t have pop melodies before "Right Wing", the penultimate song on the CD that would make us think about Courtney Love. Nice job of marketing to introduce this record as a full-length album, but there are definitely some tracks missing to make an album worthy of the name. Priests still remains a band to watch carefully for those who love their alternative rock rather noisy. (July 2014)

Don Giovanni

½

 Conor Oberst – Upside Down Mountain

Conor OberstUpside Down Mountain

The alternative rock singer from Nebraska comes to us with a first solo album of original material since 2008. For the occasion, he worked with producer Jonathan Wilson who managed to partially mitigate the effect of the trembling voice of Oberst, while putting forward good guitars. Although the acoustic guitar still dominates, there are several passages where the electric guitar is scratching fairly. The style of the album reminds us partly of the Californian folk rock of the early 1970s and it is a style that goes pretty well with Conor Oberst. In fact, it is perhaps the record that will allow him to be discovered by a new audience. A very good album! (July 2014)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Rush Midnight – Rush Midnight

Rush MidnightRush Midnight

The man behind Rush Midnight is Russ Manning, a guy from Brooklyn. He joined Twin Shadow in the early 2010s and it is on tour that he started to write and mix songs for his upcoming project. He offers us electro-pop music with strong influences of funk. The album was produced by Jesse F. Keeler (MSTRKRFT, Death From Above 1979) and it contains several frankly catchy songs. (July 2014)

Last Gang

 Big Smo – Kuntry Livin’

Big SmoKuntry Livin’

John Smith (aka Big Smo) was born in San Diego, California, but grew up in Tennessee. Fan of Kid Rock and Run-DMC, he developed his own style of rap by merging it to a country sound. Active for ten years, he finally managed to catch the attention of a major label for a debut album with a wide distribution. The singer-songwriter is also a producer and has recently been presenting his own reality show. On Kuntry Livin', he has a few tracks of great interest, with quite a bit of energy and creativity. He can count on the participation of some big names including Frankie Ballard, Darius Rucker and Haden Carpenter. Otherwise, some songs are not up to the expectations and we can become impatient, especially when Kid Rock can not do anything else but stay in our mind. (July 2014)

Elektra / Warner

 PAWS – Youth Culture Forever

PAWSYouth Culture Forever

PAWS is an indie rock trio from Glasgow, Scotland, which has a punk energy and grunge influences while maintaining very good pop melodies. Youth Culture Forever is their second album and certainly their most accomplished to date. A little less garage and experimental, this album with accessible melodies and a dynamic rhythm may appeal a wider audience, especially those who found their debut a little too noisy. Otherwise, the group remains very incisive with a distortion guitar sound and heavy bass. With greater subtlety, Youth Culture Forever easily becomes the band's best album to date and it remains to be seen how PAWS will continue to evolve. (July 2014)

Fat Cat

½

 Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove – A Fistful of Desert Blues

Lydia Lunch & Cypress Grove – A Fistful of Desert Blues

Singer, actress and poet Lydia Lunch joins guitarist Cypress Grove for this new album. On A Fistful of Desert Blues, the duo performs dark and gothic love songs. Spoken words of Lunch are strongly supported by Grove’s guitar (electric or acoustic) in a style that blends folk and blues. The atmosphere created is dark and demonstrates with credibility the tragic aspect of relationships. Several pieces are poignant and emotion thus propagates throughout the CD which in addition has a nice continuity to the end. A Fistful of Desert Blues is definitely a different album, but so interesting! (July 2014)

Rustblade / MVD

½

 Yann Tiersen – Infinity

Yann TiersenInfinity

Three years after Skyline, the French composer is back with Infinity. This eighth album by Yann Tiersen will not surprise anyone by its cinematic atmosphere since he first became known as a composer of film music. Mostly recorded in Iceland, Infinity has been greatly influenced by that Northern country and the Faroe Islands. Tiersen offers a creative post-rock sound but a bit cold, which may require some efforts before really accepting it. Otherwise, when acceding to it we are pleased since Infinity is more cohesive than its predecessor. To conclude, Yann Tiersen gives us one of his best compositions in career, "Meteorites", in collaboration with Aidan Moffat. This masterly work contributes to do of Infinity one of his most remarkable albums to date, despite the difficulty of approach. A great record! (July 2014)

Mute / Bonsound

½

 Christine and the Queens – Chaleur humaine

Christine and the QueensChaleur humaine

Christine and the Queens is the pseudonym of Héloïse Letissier, a songwriter, singer and pianist born in Nantes, France. After a few opening concerts for Stromae, she offers us her first album, Chaleur humaine (human warmth). This is an electro-pop album dominated by synthesizers and piano, with some arrangements of strings. The record contains almost as many songs in English than in French from the 11 included. Although her music includes many electronic elements, it is still closer to conventional French pop without major creative elements. (July 2014)

Because / Warner

 Shaka Ponk – The White Pixel Ape Smoking Isolate to Keep in Shape

Shaka PonkThe White Pixel Ape Smoking Isolate to Keep in Shape

The French version of Gorillaz is back with a new explosive album, its fourth. Again, the band managed to merge in a great way electro-pop, punk and rock 'n' roll, always with an infectious energy that compels us to stomp. The virtual band represented by the monkey face comes back with 13 new songs of which very few will leave you indifferent. The recipe remains simple: keyboards that mesmerise, guitars that hit us and a rhythm section without any breaks. The album begins strongly with the rock 'n' roll "Lucky G1rl", a sound that can be heard on several occasions although keyboards appear much more often in general. "Scarify" presents an energetic funk where metal is cancelled by keyboards. Otherwise, the following one, "Black Listed", gives a fast beat on a nice mix of metal and punk. At the other extreme, you can hear the first ballad by the collective, "Heal Me Kill Me", highlighted by a string section. This is again an extremely varied and energetic album that offers us Shaka Ponk. Fans of the group will be pleased. (July 2014)

Music Videos: « Wanna Get Free » - « Lucky G1rl »

Tôt ou Tard / SIX

½

 Natalie Dessay, Agnès Jaoui, Helena Noguerra, Liat Cohen – Rio-Paris

Natalie Dessay, Agnès Jaoui, Helena Noguerra, Liat Cohen – Rio-Paris

On Rio-Paris, soprano Natalie Dessay continues to explore musical territories outside opera and classical song, accompanied by singers Agnès Jaoui and Helena Noguerra, as well as guitarist Liat Cohen. This time, Dessay visits Rio de Janeiro, host of the soccer World Cup in 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. The album includes compositions by Villa-Lobos, Gilberto, Jobim, Gismonti, Baden Powell, etc. This guitar-voice version of these great songs creates a unique link between Rio and Paris. (July 2014)

Erato / Warner / Naxos

 Le Café Bleu International – Le Café Bleu International plays Édith Piaf

Le Café Bleu InternationalLe Café Bleu International plays Édith Piaf

Le Café Bleu International is a German jazz trio including saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave, guitarist and keyboardist Leonhard Kuhn and drummer Jay Lateef. It is a tribute to the heyday of European jazz. The trio plays a few important pieces of Edith Piaf’s repertoire including the inevitable "La vie en rose" (in 3 versions), "Hymne à l’amour", "Milord", and so on. The interpretations are contemporary and we sometimes have problems recognizing the melodies of these great songs. At least they have the advantage of bringing something new to the legendary compositions. (July 2014)

Enja / Vivo

Jack White – Lazaretto

Jack WhiteLazaretto

This second solo album by guitar genius and ex-White Stripes comes to us only two years after Blunderbuss, but he still manages to evolve through his own personal universe. Yes you can still make references to his previous projects (Raconteurs, Dead Weather, etc.), but creativity remains present. On Lazaretto, this blues maniac incorporates violins over the slide guitar and piano, question to go further away from the minimalist garage blues sound that made ​​him famous. Otherwise, the arrangements are kept simple and a little dirty, which has long been part of his trademark. Lazaretto lyrics are inspired by early writings, but adjusted to date and future-oriented. Musically, the album contains the most bizarre pieces by White in a long time. Unlikely changes of beats and styles, extravagant sounds and raw arrangements make of this album a work of art in itself. Avoid comparisons since you will surely get wrong. Jack White remains a unique character and his new album launches many challenges but you will ultimately get fulfilled. (July 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Lazaretto »

Third Man / Columbia / Sony

½

Ought – More Than Any Other Day

OughtMore Than Any Other Day

Ought is a quartet from Montreal which started in 2011 and plays indie rock / post-punk. They also have new wave influences and present quite heavy moments near metal. More Than Any Other Day is their first full-length album that will finally make them discovered beyond the local scene. You can hear influences of the 1990s’ post-grunge, but also the alternative rock of the 1970s and 1980s. Punk is never far away, but we can also hear more experimental long passages. We thus find a mixture of influences that could become cacophonous after a while, but on the contrary, the group managed to bring remarkably these different genres into a coherent whole that is their personal property. Ought do not definitely offer an easily accessible album, but it has enough good qualities that we want to follow their evolution. (July 2014 Featured New Artist)

Constellation

½

 Michael Jackson – Xscape

Michael JacksonXscape

Xscape is the second important posthumous album since the death of the king of pop in 2009. Its piece of resistance is certainly the hit "Love Never Felt So Good" co-written with Paul Anka and sung in duet with Justin Timberlake in its radio version. The remaining of the CD contains 7 songs recorded before his death which the arrangements completed by Timbaland and L.A. Reid. The style reminds us of the best years of Jackson while having a sound of the 2010s, a sound that probably is not so far from what he would have liked considering his interest in new trends. It's a short album that is offered with Xscape, but if you want a little more, a deluxe version includes demo versions of 8 songs of the album, in addition to the version of "Love Never Felt So Good" in duet with Justin Timberlake. Xscape remains primarily an album for hardcore fans of Michael Jackson. (July 2014)

Music Video: « Love Never Felt So Good » (feat. Justin Timberlake)

 Mariah Carey – Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse

Mariah CareyMe. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse

One feels some nostalgia in Mariah throughout this new album, perhaps because she has almost 25 years of career. She surrounds herself for the occasion by many collaborators for writing and production. We can also hear different voices to accompany her like Nas, Wale and Miguel. She still has a R&B sound generally fresh and focused on her voice. Otherwise, different people bring an interesting color to the album by modernizing it, despite its many comparisons to the past. The record is very diverse, both in its sound and quality, which can become downright frustrating. But, we can at least say that the whole is not too uniform and we are fortunate to find convenient moments for our preferences. The CD runs out of steam towards the end with much less successful pieces, including the cheap cover of George Michael’s "One More Try". (July 2014)

Def Jam / Universal

 Santana – Corazon

SantanaCorazon

Carlos Santana returns to Clive Davis as executive producer for Corazon, the one who was behind the blockbuster album Supernatural in 1999. This is kind of the first real album of Latin music by Santana, which was only incorporating Latin elements to his style of rock before. Mostly in Spanish, the album features a variety of guest artists for whom it is the mother tongue (Gloria Estefan, Pitbull, Miguel, Romeo Santos, etc.). We can also hear Ziggy Marley on a cover of his father’s "Iron Lion Zion". With Pitbull, the legendary guitarist gives a new fresh version of one of his greatest hits in career, "Oye Como Va". Although some tracks are somewhat lacking creativity, there are good Latin songs on Corazon. In addition, Santana seems perfectly at ease in a context where Latin music dominates, even if it's his guitar that becomes erased in many occasions. (July 2014)

½

 Tori Amos – Unrepentant Geraldines

Tori AmosUnrepentant Geraldines

Tori Amos is back with an album of original songs. Otherwise, this time, she seems to go back 20 years ago with pieces reminiscent of her best years in the 1990s. Despite catchy melodies, it is not genuine pop songs that we can find on Unrepentant Geraldines. It is rather introspective pieces promoting meditation and creating a very special atmosphere, with some Celtic touches. Smooth, the album will never provoke you, but you will get seduced throughout the entire length of it approaching 60 minutes. This is a very good album by a single artist who has no fear of losing her audience. (July 2014)

Mercury / Universal

½

 Afrojack – Forget the World

AfrojackForget the World

Nick Van De Wall (aka Afrojack) is a Dutch DJ who stood out in recent years through collaborations with David Guetta and Pitbull, as well as having remixed Madonna and Lady Gaga songs. With Forget the World, he presents his first album for which he can count on many people including Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa and Sting. The presence of the latter can seem a bit odd on "Catch Tomorrow", because he does not seem at all comfortable in this danceable context. Afrojack is not only a master of beat, but he also has an innate sense of melody, making sure that not only he offers custom pieces for dance floors, but also for radio. Instant hit "Ten Feet Tall" sounds like a techno version of Coldplay and it is possible to make this kind of comparisons throughout the CD. One hit after another and Forget the World seems to be ultimately a simple compilation rather than an album with some consistency. The songs to make you dance abound, but creativity, a little less. (July 2014)

Music Video: « The Spark » (feat. Spree Wilson)

Island / Universal

 Natalie Merchant – Natalie Merchant

Natalie MerchantNatalie Merchant

Now aged 50, the former member of 10,000 Maniacs which went solo in 1995 with the excellent album Tigerlily comes to us with her sixth album. But, if we don’t consider the album of folk covers The House Carpenter’s Daughter, and her double album for children Leave Your Sleep, this is actually her first real original album in 13 years. Despite the time that has elapsed, nobody will have trouble recognizing the style of the adult pop rock singer with strong folk tendencies. The whole proceeds fairly smoothly in a perfect style for her voice. Her long-time fans will therefore certainly appreciate that comeback. (July 2014)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Hunter Hayes – Storyline

Hunter HayesStoryline

The young country singer from Louisiana has a new album of great quality. Even if he follows the footsteps of Taylor Swift in a rather pop and accessible country style, Hunter Hayes managed to stand out with this second full-length album with elements of rock. Produced by Dann Huff and Hayes, Storyline offers energetic music that will appeal to a fairly wide audience. Ballads like "Still Fallin" come to change the beat, without breaking the magic. There are maybe his acute and nasal voice that can sometimes be annoying, but he gives us effective compositions, well supported by musicians of great talent. With Storyline, Hunter Hayes took an important step in his career. (July 2014)

Music Video: « Invisible »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Lily Allen – Sheezus

Lily AllenSheezus

The London pop rock singer presents her first album in five years. After two records of high quality appreciated by critics, expectations were high for Sheezus. Unfortunately, the album disappoints somewhat with compositions that do not seem to live up to the first hearing, which will be confirmed in subsequent tracks. For 5 years, the face of pop music has changed quite a bit and she seems to be now only a player among many others, without much creativity. The freshness of her debut is gone and it is not with great excitement that we listen to the 12 tracks (plus two bonus tracks). (July 2014)

Music Videos: « Hard Out Here » - « Somewhere Only We Know » - « Air Balloon » - « Our Time » - « Sheezus »

Parlophone / Warner

½

 Jolie Holland – Wine Dark Sea

Jolie Holland Wine Dark Sea

The alternative folk singer from Houston is back with a sixth album in a little over 10 years. After exploring several genres of American music (jazz, country, blues, gospel and folk), she presents an album of folk rock quite different with Wine Dark Sea by the presence of more experimental musicians. The result is surprising and impressive while Jolie gives us some of her most moving compositions, wrapped in rich and extremely satisfying music arrangements. There are several moments of raw blues, on the edge of garage rock, and soul that seems to come straight from Memphis in another era. Jolie Holland is definitely bursting of creativity on Wine Dark Sea, which makes the album really interesting from beginning to end. This is an excellent example of an artist who is inspired by the past but brings it up to date and makes it her own style. With this new album, Jolie Holland strikes on target and has her best record to date. Well done! (July 2014)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

 Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband

Little DragonNabuma Rubberband

The indie pop / electro Swedish band has existed for nearly 20 years, even if they are known in America only since the last ten years, partly thanks to their collaboration with Gorillaz. Nabuma Rubberband is their fourth album and was much influenced by the music of Prince and Janet Jackson as well as the dark Swedish winter. Little Dragon offer many of their best compositions to date, in a consistent and extremely satisfying whole. Otherwise, the album contains several ballads and their pacing on the album can sometimes seem odd, as it is the case among others for the introduction song, "Mirror". But, the first single released a few months ago, "Klapp Klapp", comes quickly after to correct the situation, and this is also the case later with "Paris". (July 2014)

Music Videos: « Klapp Klapp » - « Paris » - « Pretty Girls »

Republic / Universal

½

 Young Magic – Breathing Statues

Young MagicBreathing Statues

Young Magic is an electro-pop duo based in Brooklyn which is issuing its second album. The duo consists of Australian producer Isaac Emmanuel and Indonesian singer Melati Malay. They do not hesitate to experiment and present quite different material from their first album. In addition, the album was recorded during their last tour everywhere around the world (Morocco, France, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland and their home studio in New York City), there are a variety of influences throughout the album, inspired by the city of the moment. Still, they manage to present an album that remains well consistent from beginning to end. Their electronic sound, coupled with the soft voice of Melati contributes to envelop us in a hypnotic and intoxicating atmosphere. It is easier to adhere to the Young Magic experiments on Breathing Statues, and it is very difficult to get out of it. (July 2014)

Carpark / Hi-Scores / Last Gang

½

 Tune-Yards – Nikki Nack

Tune-YardsNikki Nack

Tune-Yards is an experimental project by Merrill Garbus (Sister Suvi), who has required the services of bassist Nate Brenner. Their third album, Nikki Nack, incorporates influences of world music to their indie pop style. Although several passages remain quite experimental, there are more accessible songs on this new album with some very catchy melodies. Tune-Yards gave the production to Malay and John Hill who worked among others with Big Boi and M.I.A. At the same time, an influence of R&B tints the album. Despite some catchy moments, Nikki Nack will need some efforts and repeated listens to really embrace the concept. Otherwise, the duo seems on track to achieving success with certainly its best album to date. (July 2014)

4AD / Beggars

½

 Toumani Diabaté & Sidiki Diabaté – Toumani & Sidiki

Toumani Diabaté & Sidiki DiabatéToumani & Sidiki

Father and son join to record this poignant kora duet. Originally from Mali, Toumani Diabaté had a career for 25 years now, becoming a living legend of African folk music. Following in the footsteps of his father, Sidiki appears now as a skilled kora player, this 21-string instrument typically African from the harp family. For the production of their first father-son album, the Diabatés have trusted Nick Gold (Buena Vista Social Club, Fatoumata Diawara, Ali Farka Touré) and Lucy Duran (Bassekou Kouyate, King Africa, Taj Mahal, Mory Kanté). The result is breathtaking when you find yourself quickly inhabited by the instrument. The ten instrumental pieces offered consist essentially in obscure pieces of kora and classics from Mali, played with a contemporary approach. Their almost mystical music haunts us throughout the 44 minutes. Whether you are fans of African music, stringed instruments, kora or simply Toumani Diabaté, here is a unique album that will surely satisfy you. (July 2014)

World Circuit / Warner

½

 The Fault in Our Stars (movie sountrack)

The Fault in Our Stars (movie sountrack)

The melodies included on the movie soundtrack of The Fault in Our Stars adapt perfectly to the film by their lightness and romanticism. We can hear songs by Ed Sheeran, Jake Bugg, Birdy (for 3 tracks), Charli XCX, Ray Lamontagne, Lykke Li and several other lesser-known artists. Few titles stand out from the lot, but the whole remains coherent and interesting until the end. This is a good soundtrack that fans of the film will greatly appreciate. (July 2014)

Atlantic / Warner

GG Allin – Uncensored: Live 1993 (DVD)

GG AllinUncensored: Live 1993 (DVD)

Here is a DVD that includes concerts and behind the scenes footage during the last tour by provocateur GG Allin in 1993, shortly before his death on June 28. There are shows in New Orleans and Houston on May 16 and 17, as well as Chicago and Detroit on June 4 and 6, for a total of 110 minutes. Notice to the faint of heart, you will see this bad guy of punk urinate and defecate on stage every time he wants to. (July 2014)

MVD

½

 

JUNE:

 

 Victoria Duffield – Accelerate

Victoria DuffieldAccelerate

The young Canadian pop singer is back with a second album, after completing a tour with the Backstreet Boys. Obviously the singer and dancer has an album at her own image, that is to say it is quite ready to tackle the dance floors and just waiting to be remixed by the top DJs on the planet. Musically, there are few creative elements, but the album has enough energetic pieces to remain attractive to dance pop music fans. (June 2014)

Music Video: « More Than Friends »

Warner

 Matthew Barber – Big Romance

Matthew BarberBig Romance

Matthew Barber grew up in Toronto and is the brother of jazz pop singer Jill Barber (she also participates to the song "Hold Me"). He presents essentially folk music with elements of rock and pop. Big Romance is his eighth album and the production was given this time to Gary Louris (The Jayhawks, Golden Smog) rather than doing it himself as it was the case for the last two records. Barber subjects range from love to death, through despair. So he operates in a very broad spectrum in terms of his lyrics, as well as musically with a mixture of ballads, more energetic rock songs and unforgettable pop melodies. (June 2014)

Outside / SIX

 Owen Pallett – In Conflict

Owen PallettIn Conflict

Owen Pallett is an indie rock / indie pop singer, violinist, producer and arranger from Mississauga, Ontario. He takes his influences from Arcade Fire (with which he also worked and toured) and Rufus Wainwright. For his second album under his own name, Pallett has relied on the expertise and advice of Brian Eno, especially for the synthesizers and guitars. Experience in Pallett string arrangements with Arcade Fire also serves him enormously since it is one of the strengths of the album. His chamber pop music sounds wonderful while balancing the string arrangements, electronics and guitars close to perfection on many occasions. Weaknesses are rare, if any, which makes In Conflict one of the best albums of the year in all categories. (June 2014)

Secret City

 Teenage Kicks – Spoils of Youth

Teenage KicksSpoils of Youth

Teenage Kicks is an indie rock band from Toronto that has punk influences. This first album has not been easy to produce while the group has lost members, had unusable recordings from Hollywood and had to manage some internal conflicts. The result still remains interesting on Spoils of Youth with a good dose of energy delivered with powerful guitars and a dynamic rhythm section. Even if the band does not revolutionize the rock genre, it has some interesting elements that could provide them a number of fans for years to come. Here is a band to watch out! (June 2014)

Rezolute / Universal

 Secret Broadcast – Filthy Souls

Secret BroadcastFilthy Souls

Secret Broadcast is a rock 'n' roll duo from Toronto consisting of vocalist and guitarist Matt Lightstone and drummer Keith Heppler. For this new album, they worked with Seattle producer Adam Kasper (Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden). That said, Secret Broadcast certainly does not reinvent rock 'n' roll, but it adds a great dose of energy in a style that is increasingly diluted. Also, the melodies remain extremely catchy throughout the record. There are many parallels to do with the Foo Fighters, but the duo still managed to forge its own style. (June 2014)

eOne

 Leisure Cruise – Leisure Cruise

Leisure CruiseLeisure Cruise

Veteran Canadian musician Dave Hodge (Broken Social Scene, Bran Van 3000) and singer Leah Siegel (Firehorse, The Citizens Band) met by chance after working on a TV ad. They started writing together and liked it so much they decided to create a duet. Leisure Cruise was born in the spring of 2013. They now have a first album fusing indie rock sound, pop melodies and electronics. In fact, their music is based primarily on synthesizers with danceable beats. It recalls in part David Bowie and Blondie, with more contemporary elements comparable to Metric and Paramore. This is an album that is serious and light, melancholic and festive. Here is a very good electro-pop record. (June 2014)

Last Gang

½

 Jill Barber – Fool’s Gold

Jill BarberFool’s Gold

Jill Barber is a jazz pop singer with folk influences who grew up in Toronto, but has lived in Halifax for some years now. Matthew Barber’s sister works again with Les Cooper and Drew Jurecka for the production, two longtime collaborators who are also part of her touring band. The first single, "Broken for Good" (and its French version, "Brisé à jamais"), makes us relive the Motown era. This is a style that comes back in a few other occasions, but the whole remains mostly a fusion between jazz and pop, a sound that is ideal for cabaret. In addition, the golden voice of Jill fits perfectly in this context. (June 2014)

Outside / SIX

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 Meaghan Smith – Have a Heart