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MAY 2015

 

Featured Review:  Brian Wilson    Featured New Artist:  Courtney Barnett

 

May 22-28 (more to come):

Circuit des Yeux - Django Django - Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell - Paul Weller

 

May 15-21:

Blick Bassy - Bears of Legend - Jesse Cook - Ludovico Einaudi

 

Mother's Day Special Edition:

Chicago - Fifty Shades of Grey - Sounds of the 80s - Kylie (DVD)

 

May 1-7:

Blur - Death Cab For Cutie - bRIGITTE m - Isaac Neto - rON sEXSMITH -

rINGO sTARR - Gilles Valiquette - Bob Walsh - Dwight Yoakam - Hindi Zahra -

Needtobreathe - Van Halen - Ida

 

Reviews coming up next month:

 Florence + The Machine - Andee - Josh Groban - Mumford & Sons - Patrick Watson - Bet.e & Stef

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

     

 

         

         

         

 

       

     

 

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure

Brian WilsonNo Pier Pressure

After the abrupt split of the Beach Boys during their 50th anniversary tour, which left Brian alone on his side, he took the opportunity to enter the studio with Jeff Beck and producer Don Was. The project did not succeed, but many recordings from those sessions are the foundation of No Pier Pressure, recorded with his long-time collaborator Joe Thomas. The pro-Brian branch of the Beach Boys is still very present on the album: Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin. The album of 18 tracks totaling 56 minutes can be rapidly destabilizing, as soon as at the second track with the almost disco "Runaway Dancer" featuring Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities. It definitely does not seem to have its place on an album by Brian Wilson. There are also many slow songs with an atmospheric trend and very good vocal harmonies. Wilson even tends to jazz on "Half Moon Bay" with Mark Isham. Other collaborators include She & Him, Nate Ruess and Kacey Musgraves (for two of the most effective songs of the record, "The Right Time" and "Guess You Had To Be There"). Unfortunately, it is too uneven and too long for a Brian Wilson album, which still presents very good compositions, but with also many weaker pieces. In cutting some of these weak songs, Wilson would certainly have succeeded in offering a high quality album. No Pier Pressure is therefore this kind of album to listen to the piece, remote control in hand.

Capitol / Universal

     

     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is an Australian songwriter, guitarist and singer who plays an alternative rock sound both inspired and exciting. After two EPs that provoked many reactions, Courtney finally offers her long awaited debut album. She has a garage rock sound that recalls the Nirvana grunge on several occasions, as well as the origins of punk. Otherwise, we can also hear a little more folk influences, which can bring Patti Smith to mind. Where she is particularly strong is that she manages to dip into her different American influences and make it her own by delivering it in her own way, with her charming Australian accent she is very proud of. Here is a songwriter of great talent, a complete artist it is imperative to discover.

Sony

   

 

MAY 22-28:

 

 Django Django – Born Under Saturn

Django DjangoBorn Under Saturn

The British quartet is back with a new album pursuing the same musical direction than on its first record issued three years ago. Django Django have established themselves with their characteristic sound merging rock and electronic, all accompanied by a creative beat. We hear again influences of Devo, but also of the Beach Boys and Brian Eno. The quality of the melodies dominates throughout the CD and several tracks stand out of the lot as the excellent "Giant", "Found You" and the first single, "First Light". A few pieces are a little less convincing in the second half and may leave somewhat uncertain, but Born Under Saturn still remains an album of great creativity.

Music Video: « First Light »

Because / Warner

½

   

 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind

Two years after the success of Old Yellow Moon, the country duo is back with The Traveling Kind. Crowell and Harris co-wrote 6 of the 11 songs and they seem to have an incomparable chemistry in such a context, like when they sing and play by the way. They allow a pair of covers: Lucinda Williams’ "I Just Wanted To See You So Bad" and Amy Allison’s "Her Hair Was Red". Despite quite a few songs that are energetic, it is in the more intimate songs that the duo actually achieves harmony ("You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try", the title track, etc.). Produced by Joe Henry, The Traveling Kind reconfirms that these longtime friends should have joined forces well before the 2010s.

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 

 Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern

Paul Weller Saturns Pattern

(review to come later)

Parlophone / Warner

½

     

 

MAY 15-21:

 

 Blick Bassy – AKÖ

Blick BassyAKÖ

Blick Bassy is a Cameroonian now living in Paris for ten years. He is a guitarist of finger-picking blues which he mixes with jazz and complex African rhythms. Influenced by Skip James, his Cameroonian roots still dominate on this album almost entirely in his native tongue. He not only mastered his instrument, but he has in addition a singular voice that allows us to distinguish him quickly. Blick Bassy offers us music that pierces us and therefore will leave no one indifferent.

Naïve / No Format / SIX

½

 Bears of Legend – Ghostwritten Chronicles

Bears of LegendGhostwritten Chronicles

Bears of Legend is a folk rock collective from Mauricie, Quebec presenting a new album inspired by an old diary found at sea on a mysterious boat. Ghostwritten Chronicles tells metaphorical stories of a crew taking place between the years 1400 and 1700. Each character is introduced and illustrated in the booklet and it describes its context. The concept album incorporating folk instruments is expanded and ambitious. Beautiful vocal harmonies make the project still accessible, and they are accompanied by large-scale orchestrations that add to the rich and creative arrangements. The poetry of the album is also inspiring, on a sound mixing folk, classical and progressive rock. Mainly in English, Ghostwritten Chronicles is a greatly rewarding and interesting album. To discover!

La Tanière / SIX

½

 Jesse Cook – One World

Jesse CookOne World

Jesse Cook has always merged the genres, from jazz to new age and world music. On One World, the guitarist transcends more than ever in this area with a mix worthy of a world tour. The guitars, sitar and violin blend with keyboards and electronic sounds. He therefore manages the feat of creating an almost perfect guideline between past and present, while we travel. Unlike his previous records that might contain rumba or flamenco tracks, One World beautifully integrates all his influences into a rather creative distinct sound. Not only is this new album different from anything he has done before, but it is perhaps also one of his most successful from a creative point of view. Here is a very nice album to carry you elsewhere.

eOne

½

 

 Ludovico Einaudi – Taranta Project

Ludovico Einaudi Taranta Project

In 2010-2011, the Italian musician was invited to conduct the orchestra during the Notte della Taranta festival, wanting to revive the ancient songs of the tradition of Salento (the "heel" of the Italian boot). On this album, Einaudi offers a reinterpretation of the songs once used to chase the evils of the world and create a connection with the traditions and music cultures to make coexist the ancient and the modern. Several renowned musicians are collaborating on this musical adventure: Ballaké Sissoko, Justin Adams, Mercan Dede, Redi Hasa, Mauro Durante, etc. Taranta Project is a complex and dense album that brings together influences from all over the world while eliminating the gap between traditional and contemporary music.

Ponderosa / SIX

 

 

MOTHER'S DAY SPECIAL EDITION:

 

 Chicago – Chicago XXXIV: Live in ’75 (2 CD)

Chicago Chicago XXXIV: Live in ’75 (2 CD)

This double live album presents the pop rock band when it was at the peak of its career. It includes recordings during three concerts given between June 24 and 26, 1975 at the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland. On this 34th album by Chicago, you can hear as many as 24 songs among their most popular for a total of nearly two hours. You can hear again with pleasure the hits "Beginnings", "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Old Days" and "25 or 6 to 4". The sound quality is not perfect, given the technology of 40 years ago, but it is interesting enough to make us appreciate the band's talent, which incorporates elements of jazz to its pop rock / soft rock style. Here is the perfect album for their hardcore fans to go back to their memories of that era.

Rhino / Warner

½

 

 Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Fifty Shades of Grey (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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

Movie Official Trailer

Republic / Universal

 

 Sounds of the 80s

Sounds of the 80s

On this 17-track compilation totaling over 60 minutes, contemporary artists pay tribute to pop and rock music of the 1980s by playing great hits in their own way. We can hear right at the opening a completely stripped version by Sam Smith of the yet danceable "How Will I Know" by Whitney Houston. We can also rediscover Madonna’s "Lucky Star" by Birdy, The Cars’ "Drive" by The Script, Kim Carnes’ "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kylie Minogue, Cher’s "If I Could Turn Back Time" by Christina Perri, Bryan Adams’ "Run To You" by Kian Egan, The Clash’s "Should I Stay or Should I Go " by Kaiser Chiefs, and much more. Several versions are particularly successful and make us truly appreciate this music of another era. (March 2015)

Warner

½

 

 Kylie – Kiss Me Once: Live at the SSE Hydro (DVD + 2 CD)

KylieKiss Me Once: Live at the SSE Hydro (DVD + 2 CD)

For the Kiss Me Once tour, Kylie Minogue has performed many spectacular concerts. It is this atmosphere that is presented on this DVD of 110 minutes while we find the Australian queen of pop music at her best in a context of large-scale dance pop in Glasgow, Scotland. That's when you see an artist like Kylie, performing without lip-sync, you realize that it's not all pop singers who have talent. This little woman of just over 5 feet controls the crowd at will throughout the show without ever running out of breath or energy, always performing her greatest hits nicely. Disco becomes fashionable when Kylie sings songs like "On a Night Like This". Then her list of hits is always nice to hear, especially in such an atmosphere. If Madonna is the undisputed queen of pop, Kylie takes control of the Australian side with an essential European dimension. (April 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

½

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

 

MAY 1-7:

 

 Blur – The Magic Whip

BlurThe Magic Whip

For The Magic Whip, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and company reunited in studio for the first time since the disappointing Think Tank in 2003. In the meantime, they have had many separate projects, but it's rather pleasant to find back the quartet that was among the bands at the forefront of brit pop in the 1990s. The Magic Whip seems to be a real continuity to their best albums, not only a reunion years later. It is as if all that time Blur remained alive and had continued its creative process. Started in Hong Kong during a 5-day recording session, the album was certainly inspired by their stay in Asia with lyrics depicting a certain loneliness due to remoteness. Musically, the songs are generally smooth, often slow, with beautiful melodies, coated in extremely rich textures. Arrangements are absolutely stunning and help to show Blur at its best. There are quite a few small irregularities or less exciting tracks, but the overall is great to listen. Here is something to satisfy the fans of the band that were left to themselves since 13 released 16 years ago.

Music Video: « Lonesome Street »

Parlophone / Warner

½

     

 Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi

Death Cab For CutieKintsugi

While Chris Walla has left the band during the recording of Kintsugi, Ben Gibbard has hired producer Rich Costey (Kimbra, Muse, Interpol) to help to complete the album. It is possibly the smoothest record by the band to date with obvious pop melodies that bring more than ever indie pop and new wave in their sound. Gibbard and his band are also very comfortable as they explore disco rock ("Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)"). The album contains some great songs like "Black Sun" and "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive," and all is well aligned from one track to another for a 45-minute solid album to the end. It is certainly not the best record of the band to date, but it has enough interesting material to satisfy its audience.

Music Video: « Black Sun »

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Brigitte M – Immortals

Brigitte MImmortals

With her lyrical pop voice, Brigitte M had impressed on her album From Metal to Crystal covering classic hard rock and metal in her own way. These are other immortal songs she sings in a style of her own. She pays tribute to Queen ("The Show Must Go On"), Scorpions ("Send Me an Angel"), Aerosmith ("Dream On"), Sting ("Fields of Gold"), Styx ("Suite Madame Blue"), Evanescence ("My Immortal"), and even Edith Piaf ("Non, je ne regrette rien"). For the first single, "Space Countdown", Brigitte merges David Bowie’s "Space Oddity" with Europe’s "The Final Countdown" and Mozart’s "The Queen of the Night". In any case, she delivers these classics with all the sweetness and subtlety that characterizes her, giving new lives to these timeless songs.

Music Video: « Space Countdown »

Amusic / Sony

 Isaac Neto – Meu Quelê

Isaac NetoMeu Quelê

Born in Sao Luis de Maranhao, Brazil, the singer, guitarist, composer and arranger has adopted Quebec in 2007. With Meu Quelê (My Child), he merges Brazilian traditions and contemporary world music. The rich melodies and complex rhythms are wrapped up in beautiful arrangements. The fusion seems perfect between the guitar and the voice of Neto and the innovative and unique percussions of Rogério Boccato (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Joe Zawinul). The two musicians also produced the album. Note also the collaborations of flutist Amina Mezaache, singer-songwriter Bïa Krieger, and singer-composer Anne Boccato. Meu Quelê offers lyrics in Portuguese on a contemporary Brazilian music.

Carcarasom

½

   

 Ron Sexsmith – Carousel One

Ron SexsmithCarousel One

When the Ontario troubadour issues a new album, we can expect a quality record while he still has an impressive number of prominent compositions on each new CD. This is still the case on Carousel One that contains great pop melodies with in addition beautiful arrangements to showcase his fingering on the guitar. This 14th album features a little more variety than on his previous recordings, sometimes quite away from the folk sound that has long characterized him. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Foo Fighters), the album features several experienced musicians around Sexsmith which seems less alone than ever with his guitar. "Getaway Car" might well have been recorded by the Beatles of the late years, and various references to the past like this are leading at different times of the album. The solo work of George Harrison may also seem to have been an important influence on the work of Ron Sexsmith. Otherwise, once you bother to stop to listen carefully to the songs, you discover that they fully belong to him. Carousel One is confirmed as another very good album by Ron Sexsmith.

Warner

½

     

 Ringo Starr – Postcards from Paradise

Ringo StarrPostcards from Paradise

Casually, Postcards from Paradise is the 18th solo album by the former Beatle. One still finds some autobiographical songs, but above all, lots of sunny songs that come to us just in time for summer. You can even hear a very nice reggae song with "Right Side of the Road", written with Richard Marx. Most of the loyal acolytes of Starr collaborate again on the album, like Todd Rundgren, Dave Stewart, Steve Lukather and Joe Walsh. Starr manages to present some interesting tracks like "Rory and the Hurricanes", "You Bring the Party Down" and the title track. Otherwise, as it is often the case with a record by Ringo Starr, Postcards from Paradise has many inequalities during its 44 minutes.

Universal

     

 GILLES VALIQUETTE – P.S. I LOVE UKE : UN HOMMAGE AUX BEATLES

Gilles ValiquetteP.S. I Love Uke: A Beatles Tribute

After releasing the book C’est fou mais c’est tout – Parcours discographique des Beatles au Canada in November 2014, the undisputed Beatles fan comes back again with an album covering this time fifteen compositions of his favorite band. The record does not necessarily contain the greatest hits of the quartet, but it still includes favorites such as "Love Me Do" and "Here Comes the Sun". He is accompanied by many musician friends (Patrick Norman, Michel Normandeau, Bruce Huard, Richard Séguin, etc.) and members of his family to sing with a certain pleasure his favorite songs of the Fab Four at ukulele. He even does two of their songs in their French version: "C’est fou mais c’est tout" (Pierre Labelle’s version of "Hold Me Tight" popularized by The Baronets) and "Des bises de moi pour toi" (Claude François’ version of "From Me To You"). A genuine journey through the discography of the band, PS I Love Uke has the feature to navigate between their first record ("Love Me Do") and the last ("The End") by offering a sample from each album. In fact, the most negative point of the CD is that it only lasts a little over 30 minutes and we would have liked to hear additional material.

PGV / Universal

½

 Bob Walsh – After the Storm

Bob WalshAfter the Storm

After two years marked by illness, the Quebec bluesman is back in great shape with After the Storm. This 11th career album for Bob Walsh has an intense blues sound, with some folk influences, but mostly jazz. He is accompanied among others by a large brass section. Walsh alternates between reinterpretations of classic Charles Calhoun, Leon Russell, Bill Withers, etc., and original compositions by Ray Bonneville, Vincent Beaulne and many others. It is good to hear again the unique voice of this giant of Quebec blues, a living legend who has weathered the storm!

Bros / SIX

½

 Dwight Yoakam – Second Hand Heart

Dwight YoakamSecond Hand Heart

The American country singer from Kentucky has thirty years of career and issues a new album paying tribute to the past while looking to the future of country music. With solid compositions that manage to avoid the worst clichés of the genre, Yoakam quickly impresses by his ability to bridge the gap between past and future. He offers a great blend of country, pop and rock while respecting a certain guideline and without major weaknesses. If Dwight Yoakam found a new life in 2012 with 3 Pears, well this time he finds himself firmly established in the 2010s with Second Hand Heart which is a very good album that country lovers should certainly not ignore.

Reprise / Warner

½

 

 Hindi Zahra – Homeland

Hindi ZahraHomeland

The French with Moroccan origins is back with her second album, five years after Handmade. Hindi Zahra still offers a jazz sound with folk and eastern influences, but also with a tinge of blues and great pop melodies. Her warm voice is accompanied by rather rich acoustic music and very good percussions. Homeland allows once again to make a very nice trip for 48 minutes.

Parlophone / Warner

½

   

 Needtobreathe – Live from the Woods at Fontanel (2 CD)

NeedtobreatheLive from the Woods at Fontanel (2 CD)

After numerous major concerts, including opening for Taylor Swift, the Christian alternative rock band was ready to release its first concert album. So here is Live from the Woods at Fontanel, recorded in front of 4,500 people in Nashville on September 13, 2014. The 17 tracks on two CDs cover all their albums except the debut. Since the concert was recorded during the Rivers in the Wasteland tour, it is normal to find several songs from this album (there are 9 of 11). It includes an 8-minute jam version of "Oh Carolina" and a version of "Wanted Man", which turns into a hard rock cover of Modest Mouse’s "Float On". One can of course also listen to their greatest hits, including "The Outsiders" and "Brother". You can clearly hear the crowd at several moments of the album, especially during quieter passages or between songs, which helps create a beautiful festive atmosphere, even in our living room. Needtobreathe offers us an energetic and contagious performance, an essential album for fans of the group.

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Van Halen – Tokyo Dome in Concert (2 CD)

Van Halen Tokyo Dome in Concert (2 CD)

The last live album by Van Halen goes back to 1993 with Sammy Hagar at the microphone. Now here is the return of David Lee Roth in a concert recorded in front of a crowd of 44,000 people in Tokyo, Japan. The other change on the album is the replacement of bassist Michael Anthony by Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang. In terms of the songs offered on this double album, they are all tracks recorded by Roth, for a total of 25 including most of the biggest hits of the band. Even though they may no longer have the enthusiasm of their best years, the four musicians still know how to demonstrate all their talent in a classic Van Halen performance.

Rhino / Warner

½

   

 IDA - Music From & Inspired By The Film

Ida (music from & inspired by the film)

Ida is a Polish film by Pawel Pawlikowski which won an Oscar in 2015 for "Best Foreign Language Film". This 75-minute CD was compiled and produced by Jacek Szumlas and it contains music from and inspired by the film. It has 26 tracks dating back mostly to the 1950s and 1960s. Among the most famous names we can hear there are Tony Renis ("Quando Quando Quando"), Neil Sedaka ("Oh Carol"), Paul Anka ("Diana" and "A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine"), Little Eva ("The Locomotion"), Elvis Presley ("Return to Sender"), Fats Domino ("I'm Walking"), Little Richard ("Lucille"), Adamo ("Tombe la neige"), The Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk") and John Coltrane ("Naima" and "Equinox"). We can also hear many Polish classics. Here is a movie soundtrack that will allow you to escape in the past.

Solopan / Warner

½

 

 

APRIL:

 

Madonna – Rebel Heart

MadonnaRebel Heart

The release of a new album by the queen of pop music is always an event in itself, but when several songs are revealed on the web before even having been completed, the long awaited album takes another dimension. To counter the effect, Madonna decided to offer 6 songs in premiere. Now here is the finished product of 14 tracks with a deluxe version of 19 songs adding "Veni Vidi Vici" (with Nas), the title track, and more. She shows again a very good mix of genres with electro dance songs (thanks to Diplo and Avicii) slower hip hop songs (thanks in part to Kanye West), reggae, and several other genres here and there. Although she seems to favor vulgarity with titles like "Unapologetic Bitch" and "Bitch I'm Madonna" (with Nicki Minaj) in addition to several lyrics, Madonna does a good balance with these bad words to avoid annoying us on long term. She also manages to balance the quality of the songs offered for an album containing very few weak moments, even in its extended version. Although she has been making career for over 30 years, Madonna has lost none of her creativity and she perfectly adapts to the 2010s, to new music and to new technologies. The result: she once again managed to offer us a great album, perhaps her best in 15 years. (April 2015 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Living for Love »

Interscope / Universal

½

     

         

 

 

 

Big Data – 2.0

Big Data2.0

Big Data is the project of New York producer graduated from Harvard Alan Wilkis. He introduces us to an electro pop sound based on synthesizers and he greatly exploits the themes of man against machine. On his first full-length album, Wilkis works with different guest vocalists that contribute largely to the sound of Big Data. You can hear among others Jamie Lidell, Kimbra, Rivers Cuomo, Dragonette and Twin Shadow. Among the most interesting songs of the 10-track CD are "The Glow" (with Kimbra), "Snowed In" (with Rivers Cuomo) and of course, the first hit single, "Dangerous" (with Daniel Armbruster of Joywave). Electronic components are frequently added to distorted guitar and bass, as well as powerful drums giving a rock attitude to the album, even though it contains many rather danceable pop songs. The sound exploration of Big Data is undoubtedly very successful and the result is a very good record, extremely satisfying. (April 2015 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Dangerous »

Warner

½

   

 All Time Low – Future Hearts

All Time LowFuture Hearts

With the release of its fifth album, the pop punk band from Baltimore seems to have reached its cruising speed. It offers indeed a record with a little more subtlety, a good mix of genres for a rich and varied recording. However, some ballads come to break the rhythm, but at least they try new things, which are appreciated in a genre that seems to plod along in recent years. To add a little credibility to the whole, the band is accompanied by two renowned collaborators in their style: Mark Hoppus (Blink 182) for "Tidal Waves" and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte) for "Bail Me Out". The band leaves a little more room to pop, calming its rock enthusiasm, but the whole still remains greatly interesting. All Time Low is even capable of introducing large-scale orchestrations to its arrangements. Future Hearts is a good record overall, even if the group moves away more and more from the sound that made it famous at its debut. (April 2015)

Music Videos: « Something’s Gotta Give » - « Kids in the Dark »

Hopeless

½

   

 Awolnation – Run

AwolnationRun

Awolnation is a solo project by Californian Aaron Bruno allowing him to mix genres in a style that can remind us of Beck. It includes rock, pop and electronic music in an electro pop whole often difficult to grasp. Generally modern, the sound of this second album can occasionally make a destabilizing nod to the new wave of the 1980s, for example on the first single, "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)", on which we seem to hear Men Without Hats at the chorus. Nine Inch Nails and Muse are also names that may come to mind in the most rock parts. Overall, Run contains beautiful music explorations, but delivered with a clear lack of guidance. So it makes a lot of material to digest in a short time, especially with 55 minutes of music. The ideas are there, and it only remains to put them together in a whole for a new album. (April 2015)

Music Video: « Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) »

Red Bull

   

 Will Butler – Policy

Will ButlerPolicy

The youngest of the Butler brothers and member of Arcade Fire, Will Butler releases his first solo album. Otherwise, with only 8 tracks totaling 27 minutes, one can almost talk about an EP. Very eclectic, Policy brings together different music styles from one song to another : rock recalling The Strokes ("Take My Side"), new wave ("Anna"), and of course alternative rock evoking Arcade Fire ("Son of God", "What I Want"). The multi-instrumentalist certainly tries to show all the facets of his talent, but the result is a disjointed record without guidance. Butler will definitely have to channel his creative energy to give us a more cohesive album in the future. (April 2015)

Merge

   

 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly

After Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, acclaimed by both critics and the public, the Californian rapper is back three years later with To Pimp a Butterfly. The pressure doesn’t seem to have affected his creativity while Lamar again presents a major album. Arrangements remain a cornerstone of this album with the inclusion of different sound effects that enrich it in a very beautiful way. Another rare thing in rap, Kendrick Lamar has the ability to never offer the same song twice. The 16 tracks are all different and bring something unique for an album of 78 minutes which is varied and pleasant to discover to the end. In fact, the album seems to constantly move forward with a number of his best compositions towards the end. So it is mission accomplished again for Kendrick Lamar with an album that will undoubtedly appear in the top positions of the charts of the best albums of the year. (April 2015)

Music Video: « i »

Interscope / Universal

   

 Alain Lefèvre – Rive gauche

Alain LefèvreRive gauche

After several albums of interpretations of André Mathieu, François Dompierre, Chopin, etc., Alain Lefèvre releases his fourth record as a composer. With some jazz elements, the virtuoso pianist offers us some moments of his life through pieces which in some cases have taken years to completion. The composer can count on the support of renowned musicians for some songs: Angèle Dubeau (violin), Michel Donato (double bass) and Paul Brochu (drums). You can also hear the lyrics of Johanne Martineau ("Au bout de mes rêves") sung by Léane Labrèche-Dor. With Rive gauche (Left Shore), this is a beautiful record that gives us Alain Lefèvre. (April 2015)

Analekta

½

 

 Lemon Bucket Orkestra – Moorka

Lemon Bucket Orkestra Moorka

The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a klezmer gypsy folk ensemble which was formed in Toronto. The group, which even has a punk energy on several occasions, offers a mix of styles inspired by Eastern Europe (Romania, Ukraine, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc.), all played with acoustic instruments. Their energy is definitely contagious and inevitably catches us into their very unique universe. The Lemon Bucket Orkestra is certainly still a band to discover with their creative music that will fill your ears. (April 2015)

½

 Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire

Lightning BoltFantasy Empire

The experimental rock band from Providence, Rhode Island has been around for 20 years and releases its seventh album. The wall of noise that attacks us from the opening track, "The Metal East", certainly creates two effects: either catch our attention so we want to hear more, or repel us and make us listen to what comes after with restraint. This is an album with a large production on which bass and distortion dominate. Everything else remains especially loud with a mix of deafening metal with industrial and punk influences. In the post-rock genre, Lightning Bolt is certainly one of the most violent bands. In that sense, the 9 tracks totaling over 67 minutes will seem perhaps exaggerated, since the hammering is constant and can become annoying. Otherwise, more the album is playing forward more the quality of compositions is high. Unless it's our ears that manage to adapt to their unconventional style. In all cases, you do not make friends with your neighbors if you dare to turn up the volume! (April 2015)

Thrill Jockey

½

 

 Marina and the Diamonds – Froot

Marina and the DiamondsFroot

This is the third album by English pop rock singer Marina Diamandis. While on her previous album she worked with many collaborators and producers, on Froot she decided instead to write everything herself and to entrust the production to one individual, Dave Kosten (Bat For Lashes, Brooke Fraser). The result is an album with a better musical direction, a serious album, but still with some moments of more exciting pop music. We can hear a more enveloping and introspective atmosphere than on Electra Heart with several cinematic passages, somewhat in the style of Annie Lennox, and constant use of synthesizers for a sound tending to new wave / electro-pop. This is probably the album of maturity for Marina who manages to create a very nice balance between her intellectual and rational side, and her creative madness. A very good album! (April 2015)

Music Videos: « Froot » - « Immortal » - « I’m a Ruin » - « Forget »

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Moon King – Secret Life

Moon KingSecret Life

Moon King is a Toronto duo which issues a first alternative rock album packed with emotion. Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde spent considerable time on tour over the past two years and were able to perfect their rather raw sound. On Secret Life, they managed to transfer their raw energy on record. We still can hear a more nuanced production than the wall of sound of their previous EPs. This is a first successful test offered by Moon King. Let's see how they will evolve in the future. (April 2015)

Last Gang

 

 Niyaz – The Fourth Light

NiyazThe Fourth Light

The band from California now based in Montreal consists of multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian and singer Azam Ali. Their world music gets different with electro elements combining acoustic instruments, while remaining true to their Middle Eastern roots. For the first time, Azam Ali also takes the role of a musician by programming all the beats of the album. Her voice remains captivating, a voice that can be heard elsewhere in major Hollywood productions. Rabia Al Basri, a poet born in the eighth century on the territory now known as Iraq, was the main inspiration at the heart of this record with a feminist trend. With The Fourth Light, the duo presents the album of maturity with 9 solid tracks, an album that builds a bridge between East and West but also between the present and the past. (April 2015)

Terrestrial Lane / SIX

½

 

 Kid Rock – First Kiss

Kid RockFirst Kiss

With First Kiss, Kid Rock offers a nostalgia tinged album on which he revisits his childhood memories. He drops at the same time his bad boy character. Musically, there is no longer that rap rock sound that made him famous. Rather, he gives us common rock that is easily comparable to Bon Jovi or Bryan Adams. Moreover we can almost sing "Summer of '69" on the title track. There are country and blues influences at different times on the album, but it doesn’t bring more excitement to the whole. Some interesting beats will make you tap your feet but for creativity, you can forget it. (April 2015)

Music Video: « First Kiss »

Atlantic / Warner

   

 San Fermin – Jackrabbit

San FerminJackrabbit

For its second album, San Fermin resumes its mix of chamber pop and alternative rock. The beautiful orchestrations are wonderfully embellishing the unique sound of the band. Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the brain behind the group, seems to want a little more to focus on pop music otherwise, with unforgettable melodies that flow throughout the 15 tracks totaling 43 minutes. Arrangements are effectively simplified on several tracks on the album, even if the style variations still remain a force for San Fermin. The low voice of singer Allen Tate is perfect to tell the stories that the band has to offer us. But it is the creativity of Ludwig-Leone that impresses the most. Here is certainly a band to discover, a band that has everything to be among the most original artists of its generation. (April 2015)

Downtown / Fontana North

½

   

 Selah Sue – Reason

Selah SueReason

Selah Sue is a Belgian neo soul / R&B singer who presented her first album in 2011. She offers us now Reason, an inspired record that includes pop melodies, electronic elements, funk influences and much more. It includes beautiful musical arrangements and orchestrations that bring wealth to the whole. Note the collaboration of rapper Childish Gambino on "Together". In addition to the 13 compositions on the album, there is a second CD with 4 bonus tracks, including an intimate acoustic version of the first single, "Alone". (April 2015)

Music Video: « Alone »

Because / Warner

½

 

 Sun K – Northern Lies

Sun KNorthern Lies

For its first album, the Toronto band only gives us eight tracks totaling 31 minutes. Otherwise, most of its original compositions are solid and of great efficacy. Produced by Cone McCaslin (Sum 41) and mixed by Gus Van Go and Werner F, Northern Lies presents a rather accessible rock sound with catchy melodies and effective rhythms. We can also hear folk influences at different times of the record, Bob Dylan seeming always ready to come to join the group. Even if we would have taken a little more from Sun K, this is an excellent record that suggests a very promising future for the band. (April 2015)

Maple / Fontana North / Universal

½

   

 We Are Harlot – We Are Harlot

We Are HarlotWe Are Harlot

We Are Harlot is a hard rock band formed in Los Angeles in 2011 by vocalist Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) and guitarist Jeff George (Sebastian Bach) before recruiting bassist Brian Weaver (Silvertide) and drummer Bruno Agra (Revolution Renaissance). The quartet fits perfectly in the tradition of pop metal of the 1970s and 1980s with obvious references to Aerosmith, Def Leppard and KISS. With this self-titled album, they issue their very first record, which somehow makes tribute to the numerous bands that were playing on the Sunset Strip in the 1980s. Otherwise, musically, we cannot say that the band brings the genre farther, everything having been done at one time or another, by one band or another. This is an album that is primarily intended for a new generation that doesn’t know too much about the good old days, or the greatest nostalgic fans of the era of hairspray and makeup among rockers. (April 2015)

Roadrunner / Warner

   

 Ben Wilkins – All From Hello

Ben WilkinsAll From Hello

With this very warm new soul album, Ben Wilkins is hardly avoiding the game of comparisons with names like Stevie Wonder and Jamiroquai quickly coming to mind. Otherwise, even if he is heavily inspired by the soul of the 1970s which was flirting with funk, Wilkins managed to produce a modern album, which has all the technology of today. The Toronto guy now based in Montreal took a few years to write the songs of All From Hello, an album inspired by simple encounters that can turn into romantic relationships. His new city also inspired him greatly with a title like "Breakfast at Figaro" in reference to the Croissanterie Figaro in Mile End. Wilkins can count on several collaborators like Joe Grass (Barr Brothers, Patrick Watson), Kwansa Shelly (Bran Van 3000), Alex Lefaivre (Parc-X Trio), William Côté (Trio Jérôme Beaulieu). But above all, he approached the legendary Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) to sing on the first single, "Day To Day". (April 2015)

Midnight Train / SIX

 

 BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB – LOST AND FOUND

Buena Vista Social Club – LOST AND FOUND

The Buena Vista Social Club, it’s the Cuban supergroup that was discovered by Ry Cooder nearly 20 years ago and which has become the emblem of Cuban music worldwide. It was composed of legends which several are now dead: Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, Manuel "Guajiro" Mirabal, Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo, Jesus "Aguaje" Ramos and Compay Segundo. Lost and Found contains 13 previously unreleased recordings. These are songs dating back to the recording sessions for their first album released in 1997, as well as live tracks and songs recorded in rehearsal for subsequent albums. It is difficult to understand how the Cuban standard "Lagrimas Negras" sung by Omara Portuondo was not found among the selected tracks for their first album. The live song "Bruca Manigua" and the excellent "Tiene Sabor" are also among the most interesting moments of this CD. Lost and Found still introduces Cuban jazz at its best, always played masterfully by some of the greatest musicians in the country. (April 2015)

World Circuit

½

 

The John Coltrane Quintet – So Many Things: The European Tour 1961 (4 CD)

The John Coltrane Quintet – So Many Things: The European Tour 1961 (4 CD)

These four CDs present a series of live recordings by John Coltrane and his quintet during the European tour of 1961. We hear performances at the Olympia in Paris, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Stockholm. The saxophonist is accompanied among others by talented multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. This tour would mark a shift not only in Coltrane's career, but in the history of jazz, with a step towards modernity. (April 2015)

Acrobat / MVD

 

MARCH:

 

Björk – Vulnicura

BjörkVulnicura

With Vulnicura, the creative Icelandic certainly presents her most intense album in a long time. She takes us back into her special atmosphere, but this time, she will drown us completely in it. Broken hearts, don’t stop here because she could make you cry all the tears you have! Musically, we obviously recognize the unique style of Björk, a trip hop sound when the electro still dominates. Forget the dance songs that have made her successful at her debut; on Vulnicura, Björk rather remains in trippy atmospheres. Despite the fact that the talented artist has presented interesting concepts in recent years (Medulla, Volta, Biophilia), it remains that it is when she opens to us to introduce her raw emotions that she seems at her best. We may have to thank the end of her relationship of many years with Matthew Barney, certainly the major inspiration behind Vulnicura. Arca and Haxan Cloak as producers may also have a little something to do with this dark record which fortunately ends on a hopeful note with "Quicksand". The result is the best album of Björk since Homogenic in 1997, even if it is perhaps the saddest record of her career. (March 2015 Featured Review)

One Little Indian

     

   

 

 

 

Emile Haynie – We Fall

Emile HaynieWe Fall

Emile Haynie is a singer, songwriter and producer from Buffalo who presents his first album with We Fall. He offers a pop rock sound with indie and baroque influences, even if he has worked in the past with several hip hop artists such as Eminem, Ghostface Killah and Kid Cudi. He also produced pop music artists like Pink, OneRepublic and Bruno Mars. Very cinematic and orchestral, his music is inspired by the psychedelic pop of the 1960s and also by soul music. Many of his sources of inspiration are working on the album including Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Wyatt (Fires of Rome), Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Colin Blunstone (The Zombies). You can also hear Lana Del Rey, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lykke Li, Randy Newman, Julia Holter, Father John Misty, and more. With We Fall, Emile Haynie presents an album of great creativity and extremely pleasant to listen to. A beautiful discovery! (March 2015 Featured New Artist)

Interscope / Universal

½

   

 Chris de Burgh – The Hands of Man

Chris de BurghThe Hands of Man

After 40 years of career, Chris de Burgh offers his 20th studio album of original material. He doesn’t stay turned to his past, and the songwriter and performer expresses his concerns of today, his vision of the current world. In this sense, the first single, "The Keeper of the Keys" deals with the right of every human to live in dignity and to have access to education. The album of 55 minutes was divided into two distinct parts, "Sunrise" and "Sunset", interspersed with a 2-minute instrumental, "Meridiem". Throughout the album, beautiful orchestrations accompany the melodies, piano and other instruments, which make it an epic pop music record with a cinematographic or classical trend. We also find good moments of emotion. (March 2015)

Justin Time / SIX

   

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

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

Accompanied by the renowned harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour, internationally renowned violist Helen Callus performs for her eighth recording three Bach works adapted for viola, but also from two artists who were inspired by the great master. We thus find Johann Ludwig Krebs’ "Trio in C Minor for two claviers and bass", and Carl Friedrich Abel’s "Sonata No. 2 in E minor", composed late in his career. These two beautiful works are preceded by Bach’s "Sonatas Nos. 1-3 for obbligato harpsichord and viola da gamba" that he would have composed for Abel. The set is therefore a dialogue between generations of the Baroque era, played masterfully by one of the foremost violists of her generation. (March 2015)

Analekta

   

 Tom Cochrane – Take It Home

Tom CochraneTake It Home

The Canadian rock legend, now 61 years old, is back with his first album in nine years. After a successful period in the 1980s and early 1990s, first with Red Rider and then in solo, Tom Cochrane was much less in demand after. Now he returns with an album that will not surprise anyone with a rock sound including country or blues. His influences of the southern United States remains very present, even if he is originally from Manitoba, much more up north. On Take It Home, we find some frankly interesting songs like the energetic and happy first single "Sunday Afternoon Hang", the beautiful "Pink Time" and "First Time Around". While it’s not all the compositions that stand out for their creativity, it’s still a good album overall. It now remains to be seen whether it will be the last record by Tom Cochrane, who stated it openly. (March 2015)

Music Video: « Sunday Afternoon Hang »

Sky Is Falling / Universal

   

 Cécile Doo-Kingué – Anybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

Cécile Doo-KinguéAnybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

Born in New York, the Cameroonian now lives in Montreal. The guitarist, singer and songwriter presents the first album of a trilogy exploring blues and the roots of music. For Monologues, she recorded in a solo acoustic version in her own studio. This guitar virtuoso certainly proves in such a stripped version her talent as much for her accuracy and for her dynamic groove. Her deep, sensual voice can sometimes seem about to let go, but considering the minimalist aspect of the whole, it only adds to the charm of the exercise. Her lyrics talk about life in general, its beauty, but also social injustice and intolerance. After listening to the 9 songs totaling 33 minutes, her mastery of blues has no doubt anymore and one can only be amazed by this raw talent. (March 2015)

CDK / SIX

½

 

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

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

This fourth mixtape by Drake appeared on the web without any promotion, to the surprise of all. When listening to it, you realize quickly that it has everything of a real album with an artistic vision and an excellent production quality. The Toronto rapper relies on minimalist hip hop music which fits in perfectly throughout the 17 tracks totaling 68 minutes. He is constantly experimenting with his voice, changing its delivery or rhythm in often unsettling song structures. But everything is always done smoothly without annoying us. He therefore doesn’t spoil our pleasure through his musical explorations. Instead, Drake shows more than ever the full extent of his talent. In fact, what is evolving the least is definitely the lyrics about his fast ascension and popularity. Fortunately there are several more personal lyrics dealing for example with his relationship with his mother and different times of loneliness and past mistakes. (March 2015)

Cash Money / Universal

½

 Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night

Bob DylanShadows in the Night

Living legend of folk rock music, Bob Dylan is still offering new albums on a regular basis. So it is three years after Tempest that he returns with Shadows in the Night, the 36th album of his career. This time, he plays standards of American music, songs from the 1940s and the 1950s popularized by crooner Frank Sinatra. While the album contains 10 tracks totaling 35 minutes, its rich arrangements and his unique interpretation of these great songs are impressive. The covers are filled with nostalgia and bring us back far in the previous century. His voice is perhaps not what it was, but despite failures, he manages to deliver these lyrics with emotion and a huge respect for the original work. We can only blame him for putting too much emphasis on his voice while the beautiful musical arrangements stay behind. Otherwise, proximity is thus created with the singer with nasal but so sincere voice. (March 2015)

Columbia / Sony

½

   

East End Radicals – Zero Hour

East End RadicalsZero Hour

East End Radicals is a punk quartet from Montreal that does not hesitate to denounce with political or social texts that remain close to the people, the working class. On Zero Hour, they have 12 energetic tracks in addition to including the 4 pieces of the Generation Checkout EP. We can hear influences of Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys, but the group has a rock 'n' roll energy that is unique to them like the excellent "Let's Get Back", "Whistleblower" and "Forgotten Society". (March 2015)

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 Fall Out Boy – American Beauty / American Psycho

Fall Out BoyAmerican Beauty / American Psycho

The pop punk band, which became more pop rock with time, is back with its sixth album. They take more than ever current pop music elements with many energetic tracks with memorable melodies, such as the title track for example. In "Centuries", the band even includes a sampling of Suzanne Vega, while "Immortals" first appeared in the Disney animated film Big Hero 6. It is clearer than ever that the group tries to reach the broadest possible audience. The disco rock "Novocaine" is certainly one of the most effective tracks of the record, even if there are many energetic songs throughout the CD. Unfortunately, creativity is not always in these pop rock songs, which means that some will be much less relevant in the long term. (March 2015)

Music Videos: « Centuries » - « Irresistible »

Universal

   

 Fences – Lesser Oceans

FencesLesser Oceans

Fences is the stage name of Chris Mansfield which had first become known in Seattle. After an eponymous album in 2010, he is finally back with his second album, Lesser Oceans. He offers an indie rock sound with a very strong pop tendency thanks to melodies with great efficiency. On this second record, he offers several gems including "Songs about Angels" and "The Lake". Don’t forget "Arrows" starring Ryan Lewis and Macklemore. With 10 tracks totaling just under 34 minutes, Lesser Oceans presents very few disappointing moments for an excellent CD to the end. (March 2015)

Elektra / Warner

½

 

 Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe FiascoTetsuo & Youth

Tetsuo & Youth is the fifth album by rapper Lupe Fiasco. This is a concept album divided by seasons with interludes accordingly. Fiasco does several startling trials, including the integration of banjo to the excellent "Dots & Lines". He also presents a potential radio hit with "Blur My Hands", featuring Guy Sebastian. In addition to Sebastian, the album includes many collaborators including Ayesha Jaco, Nikki Jean, Troi and Crystal Torres. Many songs are stretched in length, for an album totaling nearly 80 minutes. But it is mainly that they are particularly rich with often complex arrangements. Tetsuo & Youth is indeed an album that goes beyond rap with particularly dense and still very effective music. Lupe Fiasco returns totally to his creative spirit of the debut with an album which, without equaling the famous Food & Liquor, may be considered as a completely finished work, especially after a few listenings. (March 2015)

Music Video: « Deliver »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 

 Kensico – White Sage

KensicoWhite Sage

Gaëlle Bellaunay (aka Kensico) was born in the suburbs of Paris before traveling the world and stopping in Montreal. For this first album, she worked with Daran to produce and to help with the writing. Some major names were involved in this project entirely in English: Schneebi (Afghan Whigs, Joseph Arthur, Bran Van 3000), Chris Goss (Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Lanegan, Kyuss) and Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Chris Cornell, Them Crooked Vultures). The result is an eclectic album of space rock, carried by the beautiful voice of Kensico. The soundscapes are beautiful and will make you travel. A very good first record by the talented singer! (March 2015)

LMM / SIX

½

 Diana Krall – Wallflower

Diana KrallWallflower

For her new album, Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall performs great hits of pop music, an exercise that she admits having found difficult. Her smooth performances make us rediscover classics like The Mapas and the Papas’ "California Dreamin'", Eagles’ "Desperado" and "I Can’t Tell You Why", Elton John’s "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word", Crowded House’s "Don’t Dream It's Over" and the title song of Bob Dylan (a duet with Blake Mills). She also makes a beautiful duet with Michael Bublé for "Alone Again (Naturally)". Finally, you can hear a song written by Paul McCartney, "If I Take You Home Tonight", a piece he left out for his album Kisses on the Bottom. (March 2015)

Verve / Universal

 

Dom La Nena – Soyo

Dom La NenaSoyo

For her second album, the singer from Brazil goes one step further in her stripped musical atmosphere (cello and piano) and her singing with delicacy. She still manages to explore new musical territories mixing folk, chamber pop and world music. For the production, she is supported by Brazilian songwriter Marcelo Camelo (Los Hermanos). Among the tracks to highlight, there is the excellent "Juste une chanson", the only text in French through all these songs in Portuguese. This is a totally enchanting atmosphere that was created by Dom La Nena on Soyo. It would be difficult not to fall in love with this little lady to huge talent. (March 2015)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

 

 Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Marilyn MansonThe Pale Emperor

Marilyn Manson and his trusty colleague Tyler Bates are back with a new album, their ninth. They have a sound a little more influenced by blues with several slower songs like the introduction ("Killing Strangers") and "Third Day of a Seven Day Binge". Otherwise, when the duo returns to pieces that move, it is still doing it fully with some instant classics as "Deep Six" that you will listen repeatedly to inject a good dose of energy. In fact, there are some dark lyrics and dynamism that has made the reputation of Marilyn Manson, but without falling into the trap of trying to repeat the same old material. It still has some industrial keys here and there, but the main point that unites Manson with his past is his voice, as for the rest, we find ourselves certainly elsewhere. We have to face the fact that Manson cannot shock as easily as before, and it is perfect that he doesn’t try to do it at all costs. The Pale Emperor seems less forced, more natural, which changes somewhat of Marilyn Manson in the last decade. We can say that this is probably his best album in 15 years. (March 2015)

Music Video: « Deep Six »

Dine Alone

½

   

Ne-Yo – Non-Fiction

Ne-YoNon-Fiction

The successful R&B singer already presents his sixth album, three years after the commercial and critical failure of R.E.D. In recent years, it is rather his many collaborations with rappers, and David Guetta for "Play Hard", that have caught attention. So he uses the proven formula and is surrounding himself with collaborators for several songs of his new album: Schoolboy Q, Charisse Mills, T.I., Jeezy and Juicy J. He even comes back with the hit by Pitbull, "Time of Our Lives" included on the album Globalization and to which Ne-Yo lent his voice. This is certainly the most danceable moment of the record, despite some other good energetic tracks, including the excellent "Coming with You", co-written with T.E. Hermansen. Several tracks stand out and have a large market potential, they can be dance songs as mid-tempo or syrupy ballads. In this sense, it is perhaps his best album since Because of You, released eight years ago. The album of 14 tracks totaling 54 minutes has a nice balance and is therefore very pleasant to listen to as a whole, despite some unnecessary ballads. A deluxe version adds 20 minutes to the CD, but few elements of it deserve attention. (March 2015)

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

Island / Universal

½

   

 Curtis Nowosad – Dialectics

Curtis NowosadDialectics

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

Cellar Live

½

 

 Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom

Of MontrealAureate Gloom

Kevin Barnes and his band are back with a new album that takes a little more personal tangent. Indeed, it was written following the separation of Barnes and his wife after 10 years together. With Aureate Gloom, the quintet explores a little more the psychedelic rock sound of the 1960s and 1970s, with obvious influences of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Patti Smith. The only song on the album that is not personal to Barnes is the opening track, "Bassem Sabry", titled after the name of the Egyptian journalist and activist who died in 2014 under mysterious circumstances. Despite the sometimes difficult subjects, Aureate Gloom offers several good energetic and immediate tracks. This is actually one of the strongest albums by the band, while being quite consistent to the end. This is another very good record for Of Montreal. (March 2015)

Polyvinyl

½

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

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

The Canadian singer is back with a new album on which he is searching more than ever his place in society. Accompanied by talented musicians, Plaskett has himself produced this ninth album in his studio in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. It includes several collaborators including Mo Kenney, Dave Marsh, Chris Pennell, Tim Brennan, Ian McGettigan and JP Cormier. Plaskett mixes styles with elements of folk, country, rock and pop. One of the most effective songs on the record is certainly the excellent "On a Dime", with a powerful and totally unforgettable chorus. Several other choruses have also this melodic simply captivating power. Here is a very good album by this Canadian troubadour. (March 2015)

Pheromone / SIX

½

 

 Purity Ring – Another Eternity

Purity RingAnother Eternity

Purity Ring is the project of electro pop duo Corin Roddick and Megan James formed in Edmonton in 2010. Another Eternity is their second album and it goes a little further in electro atmospheres with production to hip hop inspirations. Otherwise, vocally, Megan James turned more than ever to pop music with just memorable melodies. This therefore results in an album both musically rich and highly accessible, which could certainly prove to be a way to success for Purity Ring. The album is indeed listening at once to the end, without genuine moments of disappointment. Another Eternity is the most successful album of the duo to date. (March 2015)

Last Gang

½

 

The Real McKenzies – Rats in the Burlap

The Real McKenziesRats in the Burlap

The Canadian Celtic punk band is back with a greatly energetic album. The Real McKenzies, who have 23 years of existence, have indeed lost none of their enthusiasm through all these years touring relentlessly. Without reinventing the genre, they are able however to offer us much more good songs that will meet their fans as much as those of the Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues. Rats in the Burlap has a raw energy that proves to be extremely appreciated. (March 2015)

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

Sleater-KinneyNo Cities to Love

The female indie rock band from Olympia, Washington took a long break following the very strong album The Woods in 2005. The trio is back 10 years later with No Cities to Love, bringing at the same time a whole luggage of life and new experiences. This therefore results in an album of great maturity, even if their punk energy remains there. In only 32 minutes, the CD is also evolving at great speed and gives very little respite to the end, except for a few somewhat slower passages. One of the features of the record is that the group reunites with producer John Goodmanson, who had worked on all the earlier albums of the trio. The complicity that operates allows the band to let go without asking itself too many questions. The result is successful while the 10 songs are both creative and refreshing. So, the girls from Sleater-Kinney pick up where they had left 10 years ago and continue their beautiful evolution. (March 2015)

Music Video: « A New Wave »

Sub Pop

½

 

 Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Steven WilsonHand. Cannot. Erase.

British Steven Wilson projects have multiplied over the last 25 years, but the most famous is still probably the Porcupine Tree group with which he released nearly fifteen albums between 1987 and 2012. In addition to all his band projects, Wilson made several solo albums and he is now back with a concept album, Hand. Cannot. Erase. The theme of the album was inspired by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, found dead in late 2003 at the age of 38 in her London apartment, surrounded by undistributed Christmas gifts. The album of 11 tracks for 66 minutes is extremely rich musically. There are complex tracks in several stages including a 10-minute one ("3 Years Older"), a 9-minute one ("Routine") and a more than 13-minute one ("Ancestral"). These tracks fortunately alternate with songs that offer some relief while remaining smart pop songs. The album creates a beautiful atmosphere while making us reflect on our society. Here is an album in a class of its own that has all it takes to become a true classic. This is certainly his most accomplished album to date. (March 2015)

Kscope / SIX

   

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

Rye CoalitionThe Story of the Hard Luck 5 (DVD)

Rye Coalition is a band from Jersey City, New Jersey, which was formed in 1994 by young teenagers who were simply enjoying playing together. They went for a first tour when they had in hand only a 5-song demo tape. The punk / emo band managed to catch attention with their stage energy and good humor that animated them all the time. In addition, the 5 guys were charismatic and good musicians. They were finally able to record albums in the early 2000s, they opened for Queens of the Stone Age and The Mars Volta, and they even worked with Steve Albini and Dave Grohl. When the major contract has finally appeared from Dreamworks, the group imploded, forcing them to remain forever a band of the underground scene which could never get the recognition they deserved. This excellent documentary presents the history of the band, its pitfalls and bad luck, the greatest moments of their careers until their split in almost complete anonymity despite good reviews and loyal fans. (March 2015)

MatzOrific / MVD

½

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

 

FEBRUARY:

 

Nicki Minaj – The Pinkprint

Nicki MinajThe Pinkprint (2014)

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

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

Cash Money / Universal

½

     

          

 

 

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Viet CongViet Cong

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

Music Videos: « Continental Shelf » - « Silhouettes »

Flemish Eye

½

   

 AC/DC – Rock or Bust

AC/DCRock or Bust (2014)

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

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

Columbia / Sony

½

   

 Bastian Baker – Tomorrow May Not Be Better

Bastian BakerTomorrow May Not Be Better

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

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

Bobten

 David Enhco – Layers

David EnhcoLayers

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

NOME / SIX

 Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear

Father John MistyI Love You Honeybear

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

Sub Pop

 

 Fortunate Ones – The Bliss

Fortunate OnesThe Bliss

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

Music Video: « The Bliss »

Old Farm Pony

 

 Kenny G – Brazilian Nights

Kenny GBrazilian Nights

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

Concord / Universal

 

 Lulu Gainsbourg – Lady Luck

Lulu GainsbourgLady Luck

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

Music Video: « Lady Luck »

DEP / Universal

½

 

 Heymoonshaker – Shakerism (Definitive Edition)

HeymoonshakerShakerism (Definitive Edition)

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

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

Shaker / SIX

 Imagine Dragons – Smoke + Mirrors

Imagine DragonsSmoke + Mirrors

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

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

Interscope / Universal

 Sarah MacDougall – Grand Canyon

Sarah MacDougallGrand Canyon

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

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

 Harry Manx – 20 Strings and the Truth

Harry Manx20 Strings and the Truth

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

Dog My Cat / SIX

½

 

 Napalm Death – Apex Predator-Easy Meat

Napalm Death Apex Predator-Easy Meat

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

Century

½

 

 Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues

Punch BrothersThe Phosphorescent Blues

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

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 

 Shred Kelly – Sing to the Night

Shred KellySing to the Night

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

½

 Simple Minds – Big Music

Simple Minds Big Music (2014)

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

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

Universal

½

 

 Smashing Pumpkins – Monuments to an Elegy

Smashing Pumpkins Monuments to an Elegy (2014)

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

Music Video: « Being Beige »

Universal

½

 

 Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unburned

WhitehorseLeave No Bridge Unburned

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

Music Video: « Downtown »

Six Shooter / SIX

½

 

 Charlie Winston – Curio City

Charlie WinstonCurio City

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

Music Video: « Lately »

Universal

 

Wu-Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Wu-Tang Clan A Better Tomorrow (2014)

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

Warner

½

 

 Charli XCX – Sucker

Charli XCXSucker (2014)

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

 

 Unbroken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Unbroken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2014)

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

Parlophone / Warner

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

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

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

Bell Visuals / PM Press / MVD

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

 

JANUARY:

 

Pitbull – Globalization

PitbullGlobalization (2014)

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

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

RCA / Sony

½

   

Arca – Xen

Arca – Xen (2014)

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

Mute

½

   

 Hoodie Allen – People Keep Talking

Hoodie AllenPeople Keep Talking (2014)

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

Warner

 

Paul Cargnello – The Hardest Part is You May Never Know

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

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

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

 

 Close Talker – Flux

Close TalkerFlux (2014)

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

Nevado / SIX

½

 In This Moment – Black Widow

In This MomentBlack Widow (2014)

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

 Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

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

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

Bonsound

½

 Nickelback – No Fixed Address

NickelbackNo Fixed Address (2014)

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

Music Video: « Edge of a Revolution »

Republic / Universal

 

 One Direction – Four

One DirectionFour (2014)

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

Sony

 

 Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Panda BearPanda Bear MEets the Grim Reaper

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

Domino

½

 

Andre Papanicolaou – Strange Nights

Andre Papanicolaou Strange Nights

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

Music Video: « Invitation Inn »

Spectra

½

 Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Pink FloydThe Endless River (2014)

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

Columbia / Sony

   

 Joshua Radin – Onward and Sideways

Joshua RadinOnward and Sideways

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

Glass Bead / Wax / Universal

 

 Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Damien RiceMy Favourite Faded Fantasy (2014)

The Irish singer is back with the third album of his career after a break of eight years. Despite this long waiting period, Rice presents an album of only 8 tracks totaling 50 minutes. He requ