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APRIL 2014

 

FEATURED REVIEW:  Sean Paul    FEATURED NEW ARTIST:  Temples

 

APRIL 8-15:

Pink Martini & The Von Trapps - Skrillex - Marta Pacek - Jordan Officer

 

APRIL 1-7:

Beck - Christina Perri - Alyssa Reid - Metronomy - Pat Metheny - Rufus Wainwright - Rio 2 - Devo (DVD)

 

MARCH 22-28:

Elbow - Yuna - The Paul Deslauriers Band

 

MARCH 15-21:

Steve Hill - Blackie and the Rodeo Kings - Tinariwen

 

WOMEN'S DAY SPECIAL (MARCH 8):

Sharon Corr - St. Vincent - Molly Thomason - Mayra Andrade - Alejandra Ribera - Angèle Dubeau - Loreena McKennitt 

PREVIOUS REVIEWS: Beyoncé - Céline Dion - Avril Lavigne - Icona Pop - Sky Ferreira - Haim - Lissie - Ladies of the Canyon - Agnes Obel - Lindi Ortega - Dom La Nena - Stacey Kent - Christine Jensen - Tina Turner - Kiri Te Kanawa

 

MARCH 1-7:

Bruce Spingsteen - Boids - Down With Webster - Sam Roberts Band - Switchfoot - Against Me! - Young the Giant - Dan Desnoyers - USS - Roch Voisine - 2014 Grammy Nominees - Black Lips (DVD) - '83 US Festival (DVD)

 

Reviews coming up next month - Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

       

       

     

 

You can also search by artist names if you visit the artists directory.

 

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Sean Paul – Full Frequency

Sean PaulFull Frequency

After the uneven Tomahawk Technique 2 years ago, the Jamaican is back with a new dose of hip hop that may be greatly appreciated. The appearance of Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley (son of Bob Marley) on the first track, "Riot", also brings back Sean Paul to his reggae roots. Several collaborators add grandiose to the album: Juicy J, 2 Chainz and Nicki Minaj in "Entertainment 2.0", Nyla in "Pornstar", Konshens in the hit "Want Dem All", Prince Royce in "Dangerous Ground", and Iggy Azalea coming to rap in a fake Jamaican patois in "Wickedest Style". Can be found a little less instant hits on Full Frequency than on his previous album, but weaknesses are much rarer here and the whole turns out to be much more consistent. Here is an album of dancehall that is nice to listen repeatedly, without being too annoyed by light pop pieces without consistency.

Music Videos: « Other Side of Love » - « Turn it Up » - « Want Dem All »

Atlantic / Warner

½

YouTube   

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Temples – Sun Structures

TemplesSun Structures

The English band formed in 2012 was preceded by a major reputation, supported by artists such as Noel Gallagher, Johnny Marr and Suede. The group was soon noticed on the Internet with rock songs both psychedelic and catchy. A mix between MGMT and Tame Impala, they managed to capture our attention with their melodies, their wall of guitars, and beats reminiscent of the 1960s, the best time of the British invasion. In fact, if Sun Structures would have been released in 1967, it would probably be now one of the classics in the genre. In 2014, Temples has a beautiful freshness in the rock landscape, but déjà vu cannot do otherwise than to invade us, which can be annoying, especially in the less inspired songs of the album. Some tracks still remain very effective and addictive as " Shelter Song", "Keep in the Dark" and " Mesmerise".

Music Videos: « Shelter Song » - « Colours to Life » - « Keep in the Dark » - « Mesmerise »

Fat Possum

½

 

APRIL 8-15:

 

 Pink Martini & The Von Trapps – Dream a Little Dream

Pink Martini & The Von Trapps – Dream a Little Dream

Following the death of Maria Von Trapp, the last survivor of the legendary family in February 2014 at the age of 99 years old, the family tradition takes on a whole new dimension for the rear-grandchildren of the family immortalized in The Sound of Music. For Dream a Little Dream, Sofie, Melanie, Amanda and August Von Trapp associate with Pink Martini to sing legendary songs from Brahms ("In Stiller Nacht") ABBA ("Fernando"), to the national anthem of Rwanda ("Rwanda Nziza"). The marriage seems perfect between Pink Martini music and the Von Trapp vocal harmonies, as if they were made ​​for each other. They obviously had no choice but to present parts from The Sound of Music, but "The Lonely Goatherd" and "Edelweiss" fit well through the whole. Three new folk songs by August Von Trapp complete this very good album with a unique atmosphere.

Heinz / Audiogram

½

 Skrillex – Recess

SkrillexRecess

When he decided to set up the Skrillex side project to the band From First To Last, Sonny Moore was far from believing that this project would that quickly take up all the space. Remixes of Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg and EPs would soon make of Skrillex a dubstep leader in the United States. He now releases his first full-length album and he is inviting for the occasion many rather disparate contributors: Ragga Twins, Michael Angelakos, Kill the Noise, Fatman Scoop, Sam Dew, Alvin Risk, Diplo and many others. Despite some very good moments, the album definitely lacks focus and contains some rather simple compositions, as if they only served to fill the 46 minutes. Fortunately, tracks like "All is Fair in Love and Brostep" (with Ragga Twins), the energetic "Dirty Vibe" (with Diplo, G-Dragon and CL) and "Ease my Mind" (with Niki and the Dove) come to save the day and manage to keep the interest of fans of dubstep. Otherwise, Recess should have been reduced by 4 or 5 songs to make another excellent EP.

Music Video: « Ragga Bomb » (feat. Ragga Twins)

Big Beat / Atlantic / Warner

 Marta Pacek – Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms

Marta PacekVoodoo Dolls and False Alarms

Originally from Australia, Marta Pacek got an opportunity in 2008 to tour in Canada and she took it. Since that time, she performed on several stages around the world with her alternative folk style with a country trend. Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms is her third album and she trusted American producer Brad Albetta (Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson). He led her to incorporate some electronic beats behind her compositions of contemporary folk. It is a nice change for her style which also incorporates several rock guitars.

Music Video: « Nothing Going On »

 Jordan Officer – I’m Free

Jordan OfficerI’m Free

As he says himself in the introduction to the first song of his new album, Jordan Officer is from Montreal but newly established in New York City. He played much of country and jazz, but he returns to the genre he always loved, blues. I'm Free is his second solo album and it presents eight original compositions and two covers, "Ain’t Nobody’s Business" and "Hang 'Em High" (the theme from the western movie). The singer and guitarist once again demonstrates his talent and versatility as a musician after his work with jazz singer Susie Arioli. In addition, Officer proves he can have good compositions, although definitely not revolutionizing the genre.

 

APRIL 1-7:

 

 Beck – Morning Phase

Beck Morning Phase

Already six years have elapsed since the last album by Beck, which seems to be an eternity for the prolific composer he was not so long ago. For Morning Phase, he finds back the musicians who helped make Sea Change his most intimate and melancholic album in 2002. No surprise then that he plunges into that atmosphere again with this new record. As always with Beck, the arrangements are gorgeous and we have our ears full of sounds even with the soft acoustic songs. Folk and country influences are never far away, but the way he arranges the whole remains unique to Beck. There are a few very good songs, but also inequalities in terms of compositions which he seems to be trying to hide under a syrupy arrangements layer. Nevertheless, ordinary songs for Beck correspond to excellence for a majority of artists. Morning Phase is not the type of CD that will succeed in seducing you instantly, but his fans should appreciate after a few careful listens, especially Sea Change fans.

Universal

½

 Christina Perri – Head or Heart

Christina PerriHead or Heart

The singer and songwriter from Philadelphia is back with a second album, three years after the success of Lovestrong. On Head or Heart, Christina Perri goes further in her style of pop rock with compositions and arrangements a little fancier. We can again hear a good portion of acoustic instruments, but the whole is more pop with unforgettable melodies and vocal harmonies, among others in "Be My Forever" featuring Ed Sheeran. "Trust" and "Burning Gold" are other examples of essential songs at the beginning of the CD. But above all, Christina certainly succeeds in touching us with the first single with a powerful chorus, "Human". With Head or Heart, Christina Perri resumes her momentum and brings her art to the next level, proving that it is possible to offer high quality pop music.

Music Video: « Human »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 Alyssa Reid – Time Bomb

Alyssa ReidTime Bomb

The Edmonton pop singer was just 17 when she reached the top of the charts in 2010 with "Alone Again", a new version of Heart’s hit, "Alone". She issued her first album, The Game, the following year, and she now comes back with Time Bomb, nearly 3 years later. She offers energetic pop music with some slight trends of R&B. Unfortunately, few tracks manage to stand out from the whole and to grab our attention.

Music Videos: « Running Guns » - « Satisfaction Guaranteed »

Wax / Universal

 Metronomy – Love Letters

MetronomyLove Letters

The British band is back with its fourth album, three years after the essential The English Riviera. Joseph Mount returns with a more intimate record in Love Letters, a stripped down album with minimalist arrangements that fuses in a great way acoustic instruments and electronic. Different styles and influences are integrating to the album to touch every genre. Where Mount and his band are different from what they did before, it is in the production of dance pop songs, much rarer on Love Letters. In fact, Metronomy redefines somehow pop music by bringing a new level of creativity and subtleties. Without saying that Love Letters is better than their previous album, we can say that Metronomy continue to evolve with this excellent new record.

Music Videos: « I’m Aquarius » - « Love Letters »

Because / Warner

½

 Pat Metheny Unity Group – Kin (<-->) 

Pat Metheny Unity Group – Kin (<-->) 

Since the last album with Unity, Pat Metheny has produced several different projects including collaborations with Brad Mehldau, a solo symphony (Orchestrion) and a tribute to John Zorn. Otherwise, his many fans were eagerly awaiting for the Pat Metheny Unity Group to return with a little more accessible material. A new member was added to the band (multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi) to make it a quintet quite complete. The result is richer than ever with Kin, an album in the purest jazz tradition still exploring various musical influences (Latin for example). The 9-track album totaling 70 minutes succeeds, despite its length, to keep you interested until the end, thanks to the unique atmosphere created by the famous guitarist.

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 Rufus Wainwright – Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright

Rufus WainwrightVibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright

After 15 years of career, it is now the time for a review for the songwriter and performer from Montreal based in New York. On Vibrate, one can find his 18 greatest hits to date. One can especially hear excerpts from his first five albums released between 1998 and 2007, plus two songs from his latest album, Out of the Game, issued in 2012. One can also find his excellent version of Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" which appeared on the soundtrack of Shrek, and discover a new song, "Me and Liza". Otherwise, it lacks "Across the Universe", his very good version of the Beatles’ classic. Even if the songs are not presented chronologically, the quality found makes ​​sure Vibrate is an excellent collection of the best songs of Rufus Wainwright. It will be appreciated as much by his fans than by a new audience who would like to find out his music.

Music Videos: « April Fools » - « Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk » - « The One You Love » - « Going to a Town »

Universal

 Rio 2

Rio 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

The sequel to the animated musical presents again dynamic background music on Brazilian bossa nova. This album includes the music of the film which is dominated by the first single by Janelle Monae (in 2 versions), "What is Love", as well as "Welcome Back" by Bruno Mars, "Rio Rio" by Ester Dean (with B.o.B) "It's a Jungle Out Here" by Philip Lawrence (in 2 versions) and "Favo de Mel" by Milton Nascimento. Other interpretations are mostly by actors and actresses who have lent their voices to the characters (Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Andy Garcia, and others). They were able to create a unique atmosphere with this album of 40 minutes, remaining consistent until the end except on rare occasions. Interpreters do not steal the show in any case for a quality soundtrack.

Music Video: « What is Love » (Janelle Monae)

Atlantic / Warner

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (DVD)

Devo – The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (DVD)

U.S. band Devo is certainly one of the innovators that have emerged from the 1970s. The new wave band was indeed overflowing of creativity and it is particularly reflected in its music videos. This DVD provides an overview of the group twenty videos and rare live footage. In addition, we can find lots of extras (other live performances, photos, interviews). The 70-minute DVD thus provides a good overview of all the exhilarating side of the band.

MVD

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

 

MARCH 22-28:

 

 Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

Elbow The Take Off and Landing of Everything

The Manchester, England band is back with a new album, their sixth in career. Again, one can easily establish a connection between singer Guy Garvey and the legendary Peter Gabriel. Just like the latter, Elbow is successful in balancing pop melodies and more experimental musical parts. They add tremendous wealth to their music by the introduction of strings elevating their sound which is already rich. Coldplay remain a point of comparison for the band, but we must admit that Elbow has unsuspected creative elements. The Take Off and Landing of Everything is therefore once again a first quality album for this group which is certainly underestimated.

Music Video: « New York Morning »

Fiction / Polydor / Universal

½

 Yuna – Nocturnal

YunaNocturnal

Singer Yuna (born Yunalis Zarai) is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She offers an accessible pop rock sound that can include several alternative or experimental aspects. In this sense, we can compare her to both Ellie Goulding and Björk. Nocturnal is her third album, the first for the Verve label. She offers again extremely catchy pop melodies, perfectly delivered by her beautiful voice. Yuna integrates various musical trends in her music with touches of R&B and African music. She managed to create a coherent, catchy and very attractive album that is able to grab the interest of her audience and keep it until the end. With Nocturnal, Yuna shows the world that she is among the greatest artists. This is definitely her best record to date.

Music Videos: « I Wanna Go » - « Rescue » - « Falling »

Verve / Universal

½

 The Paul Deslauriers Band – The Paul Deslauriers Band

The Paul Deslauriers BandThe Paul Deslauriers Band

Virtuoso guitarist Paul Deslauriers is surrounded by Greg Morency on bass and Sam Harrisson on drums for his new album. The gifted trio offers an album in the purest tradition of blues rock with incomparable power. We can hear seven original songs and three covers of classics: Robert Johnson’s "Love in Vain", Willie Johnson’s "Nobody's Fault But Mine" and Buddy Holly’s "Not Fade Away". The album was recorded live in the studio, without artifice or modern technologies, for an album full of authenticity and spontaneity. Two special guests are added to the trio: harmonica player and multi-instrumentalist Steve Marriner (MonkeyJunk) and guitarist Steve Strongman. For blues fans who expect nothing less than perfection in playing, the Paul Deslauriers Band should not disappoint them. A very good album in the genre!

Big Toe / SIX

½

 

MARCH 15-21:

 

Steve Hill – Solo Recordings Volume 2

Steve HillSolo Recordings Volume 2

Less than two years after a first solo recordings CD, the guitar virtuoso comes back with volume 2. Again, Steve Hill plays all the instruments, but he has perfected his art during the tour that followed the release of the previous record and he adds new instruments here. Blues specialist, he integrates rock, country and folk to this new 11-track album. It includes eight original songs plus two blues classics of the 1950s, as well as a track from his first album released in 1997, "Simple Things". Obviously, we quickly rediscover his talent as a musician and one-man band. Otherwise, Solo Recordings Volume 2 also shows a very interesting development of the quality of his writing and his talent as a singer. Here is a very good record of modern blues by one of the best musicians in Quebec.

½

 Blackie and the Rodeo Kings – South

Blackie and the Rodeo KingsSouth

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings is a Canadian super trio formed by Colin Linden (The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Cockburn, Robert Plant), Stephen Fearing (winner of multiple Juno Awards) and Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Lee Harvey Osmond). They met in 1996 to present their country rock music with an unparalleled solidity in the country. This new album contains 11 original songs and a cover, Willie P. Bennett’s "Driftin Snow" to conclude the CD, the artist who was their first influence and why they started playing together. The trio has solid compositions which make it one of the most creative bands in the genre in Canada. A very good album!

File Under: Music / SIX

½

 Tinariwen – Emmaar

TinariwenEmmaar

Following their 2011 album, Tassili, the band of Tuareg rebels had to flee its native country in conflict, Mali, to seek refuge in the United States. Otherwise, they were forced to record the album without Abdallah Ag Lamida who was kidnapped by Islamist militias and released only later. Unlike their previous album, Emmaar returns to the electric guitar, the instrument that allows them to stand out. Their unique blues sound greatly reminds us of the Black Keys and the Sheepdogs, but with their lyrics in their original language and African folk influences, Tinariwen remain unique. Obviously, they tell much about their exile and their anger. However, their music makes the whole a little lighter and it is listened with great pleasure to the end. On Emmaar, the Tinariwen guys seem at the top of their inspiration.

Anti- / Epitaph

½

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY SPECIAL (MARCH 8):

 

 Sharon Corr – The Same Sun

Sharon CorrThe Same Sun

A founder of the Irish band The Corrs, violinist and singer Sharon was the second of the siblings to embark on a solo career after Andrea. Four years after her debut, she comes back with a second album. She offers adult pop music with strong influences from the 1970s. Obviously, the strings prevail and they create a beautiful atmosphere. The production of Mitchell Froom (Sheryl Crow, Ron Sexsmith, Paul McCartney) is of high quality and it helps to highlight the sweet voice of the singer in a context mostly stripped. The retro side of the album, despite its adult contemporary aspect, will certainly manage to seduce many. But it is mainly the quality of her melodies and the touching lyrics that might catch your attention at first. The Same Sun is a smooth record which is nice to listen to the end.

BobbyJean / Justin Time / SIX

½

 St. Vincent – St. Vincent

St. VincentSt. Vincent

St. Vincent is the pseudonym of Annie Clark, an American from Dallas who participated to the collective The Polyphonic Spree before working with Sufjan Stevens. She began her solo career in 2007 and was immediately noticed with Marry Me. For her last album, Love This Giant, she collaborated with David Byrne in an exercise of style that divided the critics. She is now back by herself to present her fifth solo album, a self-titled record. You can hear an extremely creative indie rock sound where experiments are everywhere, especially for the different sounds and musical textures. St. Vincent does not hesitate to merge several music genres, incorporating electro, classical, funk and pop music to her eclectic rock. She was certainly inspired by David Bowie and David Byrne's desire to carry pop music to another level, and the result is particularly successful. If this is certainly her most accessible album to date, its creativity is simply overwhelming. Here is definitely the best album of the career of St. Vincent, a record that will probably be among the best ones of the year.

Universal

 Molly Thomason – Columbus Field

Molly ThomasonColumbus Field

Molly Thomason is a young pop rock singer from Nova Scotia. Aged of only 19, she is already in her third album in four years. This girl full of energy plays music with strong accents of rock 'n' roll worthy of Chrissie Hynde (Pretenders) and Cherie Currie (Runaways). Otherwise, she has greatly catchy melodies that allow her to remain in the pop universe. In fact, she offers energetic music that has the potential to invade the radio waves. The album was produced by guitarist John-Angus MacDonald (The Trews), and then you can hear Nick De Toro (Sloan) on drums and keyboards, as well as Jason McCaslin (Sum 41) on bass. In addition, the whole was mixed by Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar) and matriced by Howie Weinberg (Nirvana, Modest Mouse). Now based in Toronto and surrounded by such a professional team, Molly Thomason is not only ready to conquer Canada, but the United States and the world. She offers an extremely solid and highly entertaining album.

YouTube

Turtle / SIX

½

 Mayra Andrade – Lovely Difficult

Mayra AndradeLovely Difficult

Mayra Andrade was born in Cuba and raised in Cape Verde, before moving to Paris 11 years ago. This world artist issues her fourth album, consisting mainly of neo-traditional music influenced by all the countries she has crossed. She sings in the 4 languages she speaks and it is produced by Mike Pelanconi (Lily Allen, Graham Coxon). Mayra calls to friends from various backgrounds to provide songs, including Yael Naim, Piers Faccini, Benjamin Biolay, Hugh Coltman and Pascal Danae. Lovely Difficult offers great world beats, although most of the record remains acoustic and intimate.

Columbia / Sony

½

 Alejandra Ribera – La Boca

Alejandra RiberaLa Boca

The Montrealer, born in Argentina, Alejandra Ribera needed 2 years to refine her second album, a matter of presenting a finished product up to her expectations. Initially, she wanted to work with producer Jean Massicotte (Pierre Lapointe, Patrick Watson), but he was not available. Then, after a year of work in the studio, she took another year to refine the artistic direction. The result is an international multilingual album that reflects both the roots of the artist and the path to achieve her objectives. La Boca includes a very nice mix of folk and world music. The rather intimate whole takes on a new dimension with the only duo of the album, "A swan at night" (a song adapted in French by Jim Corcoran), with Arthur H. Note her very soft cover of "500 Miles" of The Proclaimers. The beautiful poetry of the artist comes with emotion by the singer with a unique voice, slightly nasal. A very nice album!

Pheromone / Universal / SIX

½

 Angèle Dubeau – Blanc

Angèle DubeauBlanc

Accompanied by La Pietà, the violinist presents a particularly significant album considering her last months’ struggling against cancer. She offers some of the pieces that helped her through the illness. You can hear many pieces of contemporary composers such as Dave Brubeck, Ennio Morricone, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Cat Stevens ("Morning Has Broken"), François Dompierre ("Mario") and Shawn Phillips (the classic "Woman" with a never ending title). This bright album will certainly create a remarkable atmosphere in your living room. For each copy sold, $2 will be donated to the Breast Cancer Quebec Foundation.

Analekta

½

 Loreena McKennitt – The Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennittThe Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt

For 30 years, the Canadian singer has remained rather independent, on the sidelines of the music industry. She is an unclassifiable singer who has always sailed between new age music, folk, Celtic and world music. This collection presents the 12 most successful songs by the artist to date, including "The Mummers' Dance", "The Mystic's Dream" and "The Bonny Swans". A deluxe version is also available, with a second CD entitled A Midsummer Night's Tour. This disc presents the top 9 performances of her concert of July 2012 in Mainz, Germany, the city where she recorded Troubadours on the Rhine, released in 2012.

Quinlan Road / Universal

½

Beyoncé – Beyoncé

BeyoncéBeyoncé (2013)

A few days before Christmas, Beyoncé took everyone by surprise with a new album that has not at all been announced. This resulted in a commotion on social networks where we have become accustomed to anticipate the news and not getting doubled. The strategy paid off as the record has quickly risen to the top of the charts. On this fifth album, Knowles co-wrote and co-produced every song. Probably her best record since B’day, she presents some of her best songs, in addition to several sexually explicit tracks. The collaborators include her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and Blue Ivy. For the production, she works with some of the biggest names like Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and The-Dream. This is an album of very high quality that offers us Beyoncé Knowles with this self-titled album, a great one in her career. (February 2014 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Drunk in Love » - « XO »

½

Céline Dion – Loved Me Back to Life

Céline DionLoved Me Back to Life (2013)

For her first English album in six years, the Quebec diva tries to rejuvenate her audience with a tinge of R&B we did not know from her before. She even did a duet with Ne-Yo for the mid-tempo song "Incredible". Céline is still back with her team of songwriters and renowned collaborators as Stevie Wonder (who sings with her on the cover of "Overjoyed") and Diane Warren (who offers her "Unfinished Songs"). She also retakes a 1975 hit by Janis Ian, "At Seventeen". Despite some tendencies to modernity, the whole album remains faithful to the adult pop style of the singer. With this new well produced album, she surely manages to meet with her audience again. (December 2013)

Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne

Avril LavigneAvril Lavigne (2013)

More than 10 years after her debut and on the eve of her 30th anniversary, Avril Lavigne presents her fifth album, an eponymous album. The wife of Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) relies on her husband for writing more than half of the tracks on this new album, in addition to singing with her on "Let Me Go". Avril allows another duet, with Marilyn Manson this time for the energetic "Bad Girl". This new record has good songs, but the Ontario singer still lacks consistency, perhaps because there are too many compositions by Kroeger? Her fans should still find something interesting. (January 2014)

Music Videos: « Here’s to Never Growing Up » - « Rock ‘n’ Roll » - « Let Me Go »

Icona Pop – This is… Icona Pop

Icona PopThis is… Icona Pop (2013)

The Swedish electro-pop duo finally presents its first album after the huge success of the hit single "I Love It" (featuring Charli XCX). That hit set the stage for a record on which danceable beats are equally linked wonderfully for only 33 minutes. All the songs have an interesting potential for both radios and the dance floors. We can compare the female duo in part to Katy Perry or Ke$ha, but the Russian duo T.A.T.U. also comes to mind in the way they sing in harmony. Certainly, it is a highly entertaining album that offer these two young Swedish ladies who obviously have an important desire to party. Here is a good pop music record. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « I Love It » - « We Got the World » - « Girlfriend » - « All Night »

Big Beat / Ten / Atlantic / Warner

½

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

Sky FerreiraNight Time, My Time (2013)

Even if she is only 21 years old, the pop singer from Los Angeles is firmly established in the music industry, first with her past friendship with Michael Jackson, and through her contacts with Britney Spears’ producers. A little provocative, Sky Ferreira does not hesitate to strip naked for the cover of her first album, which will make jealous the one who feels a deep need of media attention these days, Miley Cyrus. On Night Time, My Time, Sky has an excellent blend of light pop, electronic and rock. Some songs lean towards a new wave style ("Love in Stereo"), while fairly aggressive guitars are added in a beautiful way on other occasions ("You're Not the One", "I Will"). This mixture of lightness and aggression remains perfectly relevant throughout the CD that ultimately provides a nice consistency. Here is a very good first test for this talented singer which will surely be heard for a long time. (December 2013 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « You’re Not the One »

Capitol / Universal

½

Haim – Days Are Gone

HaimDays Are Gone (2013)

The three Haim sisters are from California and have their first album after many years to cover other songs in concert. They give us a pop rock sound heavily influenced by Fleetwood Mac and electronic pop music of the 1980s. Unpretentious, their music is highly accessible and very pleasant to listen to. It will certainly bring you back into an atmosphere of 30-35 years ago with names like Stevie Nicks and Phil Collins readily coming to mind. Their compositions are perhaps not the most original, but they are extremely refreshing. In addition, they are beautifully interpreted by those sisters whose vocal harmonies are perfect. (January 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Forever » - « Don’t Save Me » - « Falling » - « The Wire »

Columbia / Sony

½

Lissie – Back to Forever

LissieBack to Forever (2013)

Lissie Maurus was raised in Illinois before moving to California. After a first quality album in 2010, she returns with Back to Forever. Produced by Jack Knife Lee (R.E.M., Weezer, Snow Patrol), this new album borrows in pop rock influences of the 1980s. Apart from a few sounds, the record has less country influences than the first one by the singer. A powerful sound makes an energetic album, despite the presence of some ballads a little boring. It is therefore a successful second album that is offered by this very talented artist. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « Shameless » - « Further Away (Romance Police) » - « Sleepwalking »

Columbia / Sony

½

Ladies of the Canyon – Diamond Heart

Ladies of the CanyonDiamond Heart (2013)

The four Montrealers of Ladies of the Canyon are back with a second album, again rooted in California country rock. Otherwise, the female quartet seems more than ever to get inspiration from classic rock, from Led Zeppelin to Fleetwood Mac including Jefferson Airplane. They even do a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s classic "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". However, they had expressed a desire to produce an album of pure country and had even installed temporarily in Nashville. The project has aborted so they are back in the style they do best, this excellent blend of country guitars and harmonies, with a more rock energy. The production of Mark Howard (Tragically Hip, Lucinda Williams, Vic Chesnutt) has certainly helped to shape this ensemble. Despite very strong influences of the past, the group manages to present a very interesting album. (November 2013)

Warner

½

Agnes Obel – Aventine

Agnes ObelAventine (2013)

The Danish songwriter, singer and pianist presents her second album with Aventine. She offers again an adult alternative pop sound with an atmospheric trend. The piano still dominates, but the addition of violin and cello by German Anne Müller, as well as the presence of Mika Posen (Timber Timbre) just add richness to her work. Her very cinematic music can be compared to the music of PJ Harvey, Tori Amos or Joanna Newsom, but Agnes is also inspired by classical music on different occasions. It is a mesmerizing album that is offered to us by Agnes Obel with Aventine. (December 2013)

PIAS / SIX

½

Lindi Ortega – Tin Star

Lindi OrtegaTin Star (2013)

Ontarian Lindi Ortega has a voice that reminds those of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Musically, she offers contemporary country music. She also has some folk influences, although several songs generally remain energetic with a nice touch of alternative rock. She has some very strong compositions and she managed to seduce us to the end. In fact, it is a very good third album that is offered by the talented singer and songwriter. (December 2013)

Last Gang

½

Dom La Nena – Golondrina

Dom La NenaGolondrina (2013)

Following the success of her debut album, Ela, the Brazilian cellist and singer decided to produce an EP of 4 tracks around the new song "Golondrina". The other three tracks are covers: "Start a War" (The National), "Djian's Waltz" (Stephan Eicher) and "Con Toda Palabra" (Lhasa). Dom gives these songs a whole new color when she interprets them only on cello. She sings in English for the first time on "Start a War", but she also sings in French for the first time on "Djian's Waltz", because she was finding it too difficult to sing in that language before. Pending an upcoming album from Dom La Nena, here are four songs to make you wait. (January 2014)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

Stacey Kent – The Changing Lights

Stacey KentThe Changing Lights (2013)

The jazz singer from New Jersey once again presents an attractive album that manages to create a very special atmosphere. It's probably largely due to Jim Tomlinson’s production (her saxophonist and her husband) who is able to clearly highlight the talents of Stacey of passing emotion through her soft and warm voice. On this album, Stacey is letting out her love for Brazilian music. She worked among others with Portuguese poet Antonio Ladeira and French author Bernie Beaupère. The Changing Lights is a great jazz record incorporating world music. (November 2013)

Parlophone / Warner

½

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Habitat

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Habitat (2013)

In front of Habitat 67 in Montreal posed soprano saxophonist Christine Jensen for the cover of her second album with a full orchestra. Habitat includes 6 pieces, most of them around 10 minutes with a peak at 15 minutes for "Nishiyuu", a piece inspired by the walk of more than 1,500 kilometres by six young Cree in January 2013. All composed and arranged by Jensen, they are linked by places that have inspired her: Canadian Prairies, Brooklyn, Peru, Port-au-Prince, without forgetting Montreal. She is surrounded by the same musicians as on Treelines, including pianist John Roney. There are also soloist collaborators like her sister Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Chet Doxas on tenor saxophone on "Nishiyuu" and Joel Miller also on tenor saxophone on "Tumbledown". Here is a superb album of instrumental jazz for a dinner with friends or a relaxing moment in the late evening. (December 2013)

Justin Time / SIX

½

Tina Turner – Love Songs

Tina TurnerLove Songs

There are several hits collections for Tina Turner on the market and here's another one, this time around the theme of love. In fact, Love Songs contains very few differences from the collections presented before, because Tina Turner’s work stays around this theme anyway. We can therefore hear 18 of her greatest hits, with the exception of a few soundtrack songs that are not included (for example, "We Don’t Need Another Hero" from the movie Thunderdome). The 74-minute CD is an excellent retrospective of the career of the singer, even going back to her years with Ike Turner with 1966 "River Deep Mountain High". The few disadvantages that may arise are primarily the lack of chronology between the songs and the absence of a biography in the booklet. For anything else, Love Songs will make you rediscover with pleasure the whole work of the legendary singer on a background of romance. (February 2014)

Music Video: « The Best »

Parlophone / Warner

½

Kiri Te Kanawa – The Ultimate Collection

Kiri Te KanawaThe Ultimate Collection (2013)

The native of New Zealand soprano singer has developed a worldwide reputation not only thanks to her beautiful voice, but also with her talent as an actress. After years of stealing the show in the biggest opera halls in the world, here is the ultimate compilation of her best recordings. It contains 21 tracks including excerpts from Le nozze de Figaro, Carmen, La traviata, My Fair Lady, as well as the Fauré Requiem. You can also hear some sacred favorites like "Ave Maria" and "O Holy Night". (December 2013)

Decca / Universal

½

 

MARCH 1-7:

 

Bruce Springsteen – High Hopes

Bruce SpringsteenHigh Hopes

High Hopes is a special album for Bruce Springsteen because he gives a second life to some songs ("American Skin (41 Shots)", "The Ghost of Tom Joad"), in addition to presenting tracks left aside during the last decade. Covers of Suicide, The Saints and Tim Scott McConnell complete the portrait. It is an opportunity for the boss to find back his E-Street Band and also to join with guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine). The songs have a good balance between engagement and intimacy, all based on a very nice atmosphere. Otherwise, cohesion is not always present between the different pieces which somewhat spoils the whole. It is still a very good record proving that Bruce Springsteen can still be relevant 40 years later. (March 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « High Hopes »

½

Boids – We Stalk Each Other Like Animals

BoidsWe Stalk Each Other Like Animals

Boids is a punk quartet from Montreal presenting their first album. They have a style that ranges from classic punk (Ramones, Descendents) to a little more hardcore sound in the Dead Kennedys genre. They managed to create a style of their own, in a genre where it is difficult to be distinct in 2014. It is a short record of only 28 minutes despite 13 tracks. The time to realize it and you will already be at the end. A good reason to play it again from the start... Their first tour opening for the Real McKenzies will certainly allow them to be discovered by many new enthusiastic fans. Here is a band to discover for any fans of punk rock. (March 2014 Featured New Artist)

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

Down With Webster – Party For Your Life

Down With WebsterParty For Your Life

The Toronto band is back with a second full-length album. The group merging rock, rap and pop pursues in the same way on Party For Your Life, which contains several danceable songs suitable for dance floors, as the title track and "One in a Million". In fact, this is definitely the rock side of their music that is somewhat overshadowed. But no matter since Down With Webster managed to impose themselves in catchy pop / hip hop music. From a creative point of view, the band does not bring anything new to the genre, but they do the most important thing: to entertain us.

Music Videos: « One in a Million » - « Party For Your Life »

Universal

Sam Roberts Band – Lo-Fantasy

Sam Roberts BandLo-Fantasy

On Lo-Fantasy, the Montrealer made ​​the gamble to leave completely aside the rock style that characterized him so far, and which reached its peak on the previous album, Collider. On this one, pop new wave reigns as king with funky passages and the use of electronics. This is an interesting change of direction, but at the same time it distorts from the personality of Roberts that is difficult to recognize in this new style. The album contains some interesting moments as "We're All in This Together" and "Metal Skin" but the whole album may leave you indifferent. Not that it is bad, only that it should have a little more creative energy to successfully grab our attention and keep it throughout the CD. A version with a second CD of remixes is also available.

Music Video: « We’re All in This Together »

Universal

Switchfoot – Fading West

SwitchfootFading West

Throughout the 2000s, the San Diego band has carried the torch as the most popular Christian group. Over the years, their style has refined to become a little more pop, leaving aside the punk and grunge influences of their debut. Fading West is already their 9th album and they continue to evolve, this time putting forward their passion for surfing. Effective beats and sunny melodies accompany wonderfully this passion. Several anthems are included on this grandiose album that falls somewhere between the worlds of Coldplay, U2, and OneRepublic. Unless you prefer when they play a little more rock, Fading West may well appear to you as the most satisfying album of the band to date. Well done!

Music Videos: « Love Alone is Worth the Fight » - « Who We Are »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Against Me!Transgender Dysphoria Blues

While the future looked uncertain for the Florida punk band after their 2010 album White Crosses, Laura Jane Grace and James Bowman are leading Against Me! for this solid rock album that is quite away from their punk roots. As we might expect from its title, the album thoroughly addresses the topic of sex change of Grace (formerly known as Tom Gabel). Otherwise, the concept album doesn’t tell her story, but rather that of a transgender prostitute. While the rhythm section of the band has been completely replaced, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is definitely the most consistent album for the group in a long time. Energetic rock compositions are creative as well as being enjoyable to listen to. In fact, the main problem is that the CD is too short with only 10 songs for a total not even up to 30 minutes. Despite this slight detail, the group may present us his most creative album in career.

Total Treble

½

Young the Giant – Mind Over Matter

Young the GiantMind Over Matter

After a first album that allowed them to get noticed in 2011, the Californian indie rock band is back with a blockbuster that has everything to launch them on a larger scale. The flawless production of Justin Meldal-Johnsen adds breadth to the compositions of the band which are unfortunately not always at the same level. Good melodies and effective rhythm guitars and synthesizers are not sufficient to allow the group to stand out. Unfortunately, we find ourselves constantly comparing them to many of their peers: Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, and so on. There is an essential element missing for Young the Giant to make them truly settle: they have to discover their own musical personality. Meanwhile, Mind Over Matter listens well, but we forget it too quickly.

Music Video: « It’s About Time »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

½

Dan Desnoyers – Pacha Ibiza

Dan DesnoyersPacha Ibiza

For his new Pacha Ibiza compilation, the famous Quebec DJ uses again the formula that made him successful for many years, presenting the best of the current house scene. He starts strong with the new version of Technotronic’s "Pump Up the Jam" by the Bodybangers. Thereafter, there is a little less known names outside of the underground house scene, except for Steve Aoki and The Partysquad. As usual, D-Noy has a personal composition, "Take Me Back", featuring Sandy Duperval. 15 tracks totaling 65 minutes make a constant party to animate any dance floor.

Sony

½

USS – Advanced Basics

USSAdvanced Basics

USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) is an unclassifiable Ontario duo that offers a mix of rock, pop, dubstep, hip hop and electro. Advanced Basics is a 7-track EP presenting USS at its best with catchy songs. Ashley Boo-Schultz (vocals and guitar) and Human Kebab (turntables) show us what they are truly capable of with this EP and it only remains to wait for the next full-length album which will be hopefully entirely strong.

Coalition / Warner

Roch Voisine – My Very Best

Roch VoisineMy Very Best

After more than 25 years of career, it's time for a collection of greatest hits in English for Roch Voisine. It includes the 12 most popular songs in the language of Shakespeare, plus four unreleased tracks. These new songs include the official anthem of the Canadian team in Sochi in English and French, "Living Out ​​My Dreams / Pour l’honneur" for which Voisine is accompanied by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Kent Nagano. We can also hear his own version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ "Under the Bridge" with Carlos Santana on guitar. Among his inevitable hits assembled here, there are of course "Kissing Rain" and "I'll Always Be There".

Music Videos: « I’ll Always Be There » - « Kissing Rain »

R.V. International / Sony

½

2014 Grammy Nominees

2014 Grammy Nominees

Like every year for the last 20 years, the Grammy team presents the nominated artists in the major categories of the gala of January 26, particularly in pop, country and hip hop. Amongst others, we may hear the monster hits by Bruno Mars ("Locked Out of Heaven"), Robin Thicke ("Blurred Lines"), Daft Punk ("Get Lucky"), Katy Perry ("Roar"), Kendrick Lamar ("Swimming Pools (Drank)") and P!nk ("Just Give Me a Reason"). We can find 18 tracks for a total of more than 70 minutes of the most popular music of the last 12 months in the United States.

Music Videos: « Locked Out of Heaven » (Bruno Mars) – « Blurred Lines » (Robin Thicke) – « Roar » (Katy Perry)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Black Lips – Kids Like You & Me (DVD)

Black LipsKids Like You & Me (DVD) (2013)

Here is a documentary about a tour in the Middle East for Atlanta punk band Black Lips. Accompanied by their friends, Lebanese indie rock band Lazzy Lung, they found themselves in the midst of the Arab Spring crisis, including the 18 days of conflict in Egypt. We can especially see their complete adaptation to that foreign culture, the music being sidelined with some live footage or rehearsals. Otherwise, it is still mainly through music that they could really connect with the local culture. The band's fans will probably enjoy, but it is above all a journey of discovery other mentalities than the American one. This is an interesting document for exploring that region of the world, as seen through the eyes of an American rock band.

MVD

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’83 US Festival (DVD)

’83 US Festival (DVD) (2013)

In 1983 took place the second edition of the US Festival (Unite us in Song). More than two million fans had then crossed the barriers of this 3-day festival that wanted to be the 1980's version of Woodstock. Some of the most popular artists of the time in new wave and rock were present on stage including INXS, Men At Work, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Triumph and Stevie Nicks. Other memorable performances include "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2, and the last stage presence of The Clash with Mick Jones. Sponsored by Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer, the festival in the middle of nowhere in California was an unparalleled success at all levels. The documentary in 3 parts of 45 minutes introduces one or two songs for the major artists and various excerpts from interviews. Thirty years later, it paints an excellent portrait of the rock scene at the time.

Unuson / MVD

½

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FEBRUARY 22-28:

 

Cole Swindell – Cole Swindell

Cole SwindellCole Swindell

Originally from Georgia, Cole Swindell is friends with Luke Bryan and you can quickly make a connection between the two contemporary country singers. Swindell has written several songs for his friend. This self-titled album is the first in career for the songwriter and performer who has a country sound ready for radio, with a few subtle touches of hip hop. His first hit, "Chillin' It", is reminiscent of "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line interpreted by Luke Bryan. This is one of the main problems of this album as each piece recalls another one and Swindell seems to have difficulty of imposing his own personality. "Hey Y'All" by opening the CD offers good entertainment, but few other songs fail to grab your attention, despite good melodies.

Music Video: « Chillin’ It »

Warner

½

Jay Malinowski & The Deadcoast – Martel

Jay Malinowski & The DeadcoastMartel

Member of the Ontario band Bedouin Soundclash, Jay Malinowski offers a second solo album. Martel is an ambitious 18-track concept album that goes back the ancestors of Malinowski. The strings prevail on this record with British accents, with influences ranging from the Manic Street Preachers to The Beatles. He even pushes the audacity to make a cover of "Sloop John B" by The Beach Boys, one of the most entertaining moments of the album, although it doesn’t perfectly fit in the whole CD. Note that you can hear Louisianan Zachary Richard singing in French on "Dying Californian". The album may sound difficult to approach at first, but after a few tracks, we manage to enter the world that is offered. It is ultimately a solid record with beautiful creative qualities.

Pirates Blend / Sony

½

Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

Bombay Bicycle ClubSo Long, See You Tomorrow

After three good albums, the indie rock band from London seems to take a new start with this fourth release. We still find them in very introspective British melodic rock, but the band resumes the dance exploration they began on their previous record. Jack Steadman compositions were inspired by his many travels throughout Europe and India, and it results in Bollywood influences and diverse sounds inserted here and there. You can also hear some inspirations from 1980s alternative music. What characterizes So Long, See You Tomorrow is the ability of the Bombay Bicycle Club to merge their diverse influences to make music of their own. Here is a very pleasant album to listen to until the end, but it has in addition great creativity. This is definitely their best record to date and it remains to see how the band will continue to grow over the coming years.

Vagrant / Universal

½

Warpaint – Warpaint

WarpaintWarpaint

The indie rock / indie pop female quartet from Los Angeles is back with a second album, four years after The Fool which took the critics by surprise. Produced by Flood, this self-titled album resumes in the misty world the band was able to produce, with subtle and intoxicating musical layers. Four years between the two albums have increasingly helped cement the group and they can submit a record with greater cohesion. Fans of Bat For Lashes and Cocteau Twins should be pleased, but the band nevertheless remains completely original... and always as interesting!

Rough Trade

½

 

FEBRUARY 15-21:

 

Bad Things – Bad Things

Bad ThingsBad Things

Bad Things is a band from Los Angeles which was formed by Olympics gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White. Also guitarist in his spare time, White and his group have an alternative rock sound quite reachable that can be compared in part to Kings of Leon, The Killers and The Strokes. Even if the band revolves around White, by listening to their first album we quickly realize that it is singer David LeDuke (Billy Boy on Poison) who steals the show with his unique and powerful voice. His voice manages to deliver in a great way the catchy melodies of the band, making us often forget the music in the background. Although many of the 11 songs of the album cannot be successful to catch your attention, it remains that tracks like "Anybody", "Saturday Night" and "Lonely Eyes" will make you want to listen in loops.

Music Video: « Caught Inside »

Warner

Supersuckers – Get the Hell

SupersuckersGet the Hell

The Arizona garage rock band already existed for 25 years and for the occasion they return with their first new album in six years. This ninth album for the band presents them in a top shape where energetic riffs and lyrics without too much seriousness are fighting in a high quality rock 'n ' roll sound. The record is somewhere between the whistleblower punk rock of their debut and the poseur hard rock sound they seemed to find ridiculous at a time not so long ago. In fact, it is when they do not take themselves too seriously that the Supersuckers are at their best. And in this way, Get the Hell is a very good album that will give you no rest for 35 minutes where are aligned 11 original compositions and two covers. These covers are the surprising but successful "Never Let Me Down Again" by Depeche Mode and "Rock On" by Gary Glitter. With this great record, Eddie Spaghetti and his band prove that they have lost none of their passion and they still have enough energy to continue their career for several years.

Acetate / MVD

½

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial OrchestraFuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (or A Silver Mt. Zion) was formed in Montreal in 1999 as a side project for Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A few name changes later and with solid albums, the group continues its musical exploration with a whole orchestra of squeaky strings. With only 6 tracks including 3 over 10 minutes, you can imagine that this is not easy access pop music, on the contrary! You can feel a whole rather rage through experimentation that can vaguely remind sometimes of the original intentions of punk or metal aggression. The lyrics are often political and/or provocative and the whole album can be somewhat cacophonous. Otherwise, the guideline is clearer than ever for the band which seems to have finally found its own sound.

Constellation

½

 

PREVIOUS REVIEWS:

 

Toni Braxton & Babyface – Love, Marriage and Divorce

Toni Braxton & BabyfaceLove, Marriage and Divorce

Twenty-two years after their collaboration on the hit "Give U My Heart", Toni Braxton and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds join forces again, this time for a full-length album. Both combining Grammy awards, they certainly become a good recipe for success. As the title of the album, the duo presents a mix of love songs and heartbreak songs. But, the R&B languorous and sensual style certainly favours reconciliations, even after tearing. The production of high quality allows you to forget somewhat that most songs have nothing very creative in the genre. The first single offered by the duo is the mid-tempo "Hurt You" which itself shows a good overview of what the album has to offer. The association between the two artists works wonderfully, even if they work in a genre that has been explored in all its glory in the past. (February 2014)

Music Video: « Hurt You »

Motown / Universal

Ruben Studdard – Unconditional Love

Ruben StuddardUnconditional Love

After a career of over 10 years, the R&B singer with a jazz touch offers us his sixth album. He presents a number of standards, but also original pieces like "Meant To Be" to conclude the CD. David Foster is one of many producers to work on the album, a romantic and classy record. Among the classics covered by the singer with his great voice, there are Paul McCartney and Wings’ "My Love", Carpenters’ "They Long To Be (Close To You)" (with Stevie Wonder on harmonica) and Bonnie Raitt’s "I Can't Make You Love Me". To add a little romance to your couple evenings, Ruben Studdard remains an excellent choice. (February 2014)

Verve / Universal

Claudel Callender – Présence

Claudel CallenderPrésence

Claudel Callender is a pianist, singer and composer from Montreal who likes to explore different musical styles, between classical, opera, musical and French song. For the Présence album, he offers 18 semi-classical instrumental compositions for piano and string quartet. He is accompanied for the occasion by the Claudel-Canimex quartet plus bassist Jacques Roy (Celine Dion, Corey Hart, Roch Voisine), which also provides musical direction and arrangements. The record offers various atmospheres: meditative, romantic or playful, but always hopeful. (February 2014)

PCC / Adlib

½

André Rieu – Love Letters

André RieuLove Letters

Along with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, violinist André Rieu presents his choices of the most beautiful romantic songs. You can hear pieces of Elgar, Grieg, Massenet and Cole Porter, but also famous compositions like "Qué sera sera", "Plaisir d'amour", "My Heart Will Go On" (from Titanic), the theme of Godfather and the theme of Romeo and Juliet. Each of the 15 tracks is beautifully interpreted and perfectly makes justice to the original version. This reissue of a compilation issued in 2008 presents the perfect music to accompany your Valentine's Day evening in a beautiful romantic atmosphere. (February 2014)

Decca / Universal

½

Frank Sinatra – Sinatra, With Love

Frank SinatraSinatra, With Love

Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra has always sing love. So what could be more natural than a compilation featuring 16 of his greatest love songs? No real surprises can be found here with some hits and other standards from his repertoire. The most famous pieces include "The Way You Look Tonight", "The Look of Love" and "It Had to Be You". With only 48 minutes, it certainly could have included several additional tracks to make a more complete collection. But it is still a good collection of romantic songs for a romantic night by the fireplace. (February 2014)

Universal

½

Dean Martin – Essential Love Songs

Dean MartinEssential Love Songs

Who’s better to sing love than crooner Dean Martin? On Essential Love Songs can be heard 16 classics, all timeless and still relevant for a romantic evening. They include among others "Just in Time", "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face", "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "That's Amoré" and "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You". Although he passed out nearly 20 years ago, Dean Martin is still alive and well thanks to his unforgettable music. (February 2014)

Universal

½

The Twilight Saga Forever: Love Songs (2 CD)

The Twilight Saga Forever: Love Songs (2 CD)

Just in time for Valentine's Day, we are offered a double compilation of love songs heard in the Twilight saga. These are 34 tracks that are presented by artists like Christina Perri, Death Cab For Cutie, Cee Lo Green, Beck with Bat For Lashes, Metric, Bruno Mars, Green Day, Lupe Fiasco and The Bravery. Many of the songs presented can be considered great romantic songs. Unfortunately, as it is often the case on this kind of collection, we do not find any musical direction. It is therefore primarily an album for hardcore fans of the Twilight saga. For others, you probably already have the albums including your favorite songs anyway... (February 2014)

Music Videos: « It Will Rain » (Bruno Mars) – « A Thousand Years » (Christina Perri) – « The Forgotten » (Green Day)

Rhino / Warner

Europe – Live at Sweden Rock: 30th Anniversary Show (DVD)

EuropeLive at Sweden Rock: 30th Anniversary Show (DVD) (2013)

The Swedish hard rock band celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013, and for the occasion they gave an excellent concert to 30,000 of their fans at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 7. During that event, the group performed no less than 28 tracks. Obviously their greatest hits are included: "Carrie", "Rock the Night", "Superstitious", "In the Future to Come", "Open Your Heart" and the classic "The Final Countdown". But Europe also presented many rarities, either old or newer songs they rarely played live or even never in some cases. There are among others several tracks from their 4 latest albums, after their comeback in the 2000s. Fans of the band of the 1980s will certainly find it difficult to appreciate, but I must admit they have some interesting songs. The concert changes of beat at a time to make room for an acoustic performance of two songs, a nice break in the heart of this 2 hour and 25 minute concert. The band plays two covers and invites for the occasion members of the original groups. This is the case for Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO, MSG), which appeared for UFO’s "Lights Out", as well as Scott Gorham (Thin Lizzy) who plays on Thin Lizzy’s "Jailbreak". The DVD (and Blu-ray) was produced masterfully by Patric Ullaeus, with beautiful images provided among others by a flying camera. One can also get the concert on 2 CDs. (February 2014)

Hell & Back / MVD

½

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Cosmic Psychos – Blokes You Can Trust (DVD)

Cosmic PsychosBlokes You Can Trust (DVD) (2013)

The Cosmic Psychos are an alternative rock / punk rock band that comes from the Australian farm. They formed in 1982 and were an important influence on the Seattle grunge bands including Nirvana. This documentary of over 90 minutes presents the group's history and influence. In addition to the band, you can hear interviews with Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), Mudhoney, The Melvins, Butch Vig (Garbage), Donita Sparks (L7), Hard-Ons, etc. Very well produced, the documentary gives us the opportunity to know everything about the group, even though their albums have never managed to grab the attention of major record companies. (February 2014)

Umbrella / MVD

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Cockney Rejects – East End Babylon: The Story of the Cockney Rejects (DVD)

Cockney RejectsEast End Babylon: The Story of the Cockney Rejects (DVD) (2013)

East End Babylon is a documentary about British punk band Cockney Rejects. This is actually a return on the London life back several decades, including World War II, the life in their neighbourhood, their childhood, their interests, in fact everything that has led to the band's music. Director Richard England offers a very different portrait of the band that can usually be found in this type of rockumentary. Regardless if the film turns out to be creative, in return it has several lengths detailing a little too much certain aspects making us almost forget that it is talking about a punk band. Otherwise, a lot of interesting information and beautiful images make sure you appreciate this film of more than 100 minutes which allows us to discover an influential British band. (January 2014)

Cadiz / MVD

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Muse – Live at Rome Olympic Stadium (Blu-ray + CD)

MuseLive at Rome Olympic Stadium (Blu-ray + CD) (2013)

The music of Muse is designated to the stage because it is theatrical and larger than life. This is why a concert by the trio automatically becomes a major event. For the tour of the album The 2nd Law, the group did not skimp on resources by presenting a spectacular show with pyrotechnics, lasers, giant screens, and more. So it is with the Blu-ray (or the DVD) that you truly discover what Muse is capable of on stage. Indeed, despite the sound quality of the CD, you'll feel it misses the point. Most of the greatest hits of the trio are included on the Blu-ray, with the 13 best ones presented on the CD. Extras are included for performances in Las Vegas and Dallas, as well as a documentary, The Road. Although the H.A.A.R.P. DVD issued in 2008 showed a better sequence of songs, Live at Rome Olympic Stadium offers a more complete experience for the senses. (December 2013)

Warner

½

Eric Clapton - Crossroads: Eric Clapton Guitar Festival (2 DVD)

Eric Clapton - Crossroads: Eric Clapton Guitar Festival (2 DVD) (2013)

Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, is held every three years since 2004. This is a benefit concert to raise money for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua. Held outside since its debut, the festival was now presented inside the Madison Square Garden in New York for its 2013 edition. The 2 DVDs present the concert that took place on April 12 and 13, as well as very short footage from interviews for a total of nearly 5 hours of material. We can hear some of the best guitarists in the world in the blues rock style, starting with Clapton himself, but also including Booker T, Robert Cray, Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark Jr., John Mayer, Allman Brothers Band, Los Lobos, Vince Gill, Taj Mahal, Jeff Beck and many others. You can also see short appearances of legends like Albert Lee, BB King, Buddy Guy, Keith Richards and Robbie Robertson. Fans of blues will open wide their eyes and ears with this beautiful concert to be savored slowly despite its length. In addition to the two DVDs and Blu-ray discs, it is possible to obtain a double CD containing the best of the live performances. All profits will go to the Crossroads Centre, which aims to help people addicted to drugs and alcohol. (December 2013)

Reprise / Rhino / Warner

½

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Green Day – iCuatro! – The Making of Uno! Dos! Tré! (DVD)

Green DayiCuatro! – The Making of Uno! Dos! Tré! (DVD) (2013)

In this 75-minute documentary, we discover the creative process behind the last three albums of Green Day. We see the musicians questioning about what they will do with so many songs. Then we see them in the studio working on all these songs. You can even see concerts in bars to showcase their new songs to their fans while they were awaiting endlessly their hits, which never came. An interesting feature of the DVD is that after seeing them work on a song in the studio, you can often hear the final version, or at least an excerpt from the final version. Unfortunately, everything appears somewhat disjointed and you need to have a good knowledge of the three albums to know the songs, because they never write you what song it is and from which album it is. This is a documentary that is intended solely for the biggest fans of the group, especially those who know by heart the Uno! Dos! Tré! trilogy. (December 2013)

Reprise / Warner

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Paul McCartney - Going Underground: Paul McCartney, The Beatles and the UK Counter-Culture (DVD)

Paul McCartney - Going Underground: Paul McCartney, The Beatles and the UK Counter-Culture (DVD) (2013)

In the 1960s, a counter-culture has developed in London in opposition to the straight life of that time. Extremely creative, that underground culture has brought a lot of musicians totally outside the box. This documentary paints a portrait of this counter-culture, but more importantly, its impact on the music of the Beatles. As stated so well in the documentary by Barry Miles, Paul McCartney biographer, the Beatles were at the same time the biggest avant-garde group of the time and the most popular in the world. After a rather pop debut that allowed them to reach the entire planet, Paul McCartney and the Beatles were greatly influenced by the emerging underground scene. The transformation is felt from the album Rubber Soul in 1965, before reaching its peak with their concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. The documentary does a very good parallel between the counter-culture and the music of the Beatles. In addition, it presents a whole section of the history of London and England which is particularly interesting for history fans. Otherwise, with a duration of 2 hours and 33 minutes, it may well seem too long. (December 2013)

Pride / MVD

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