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SEPTEMBER 2022

 

Featured Review:  mUSE    Featured New Artist:  a fAMILY cURSE

 

September 16-22:

Harmonie des saisons - Paul Marleyn & Stéphane Lemelin

 

August:

Imagine Dragons - DC Gore - Beyoncé - Laurie LeBlanc - Demi Lovato - Panic! At the Disco 

 

 

archives:

 

 

       

 

 

       

         

         

         

 

       

     

 

Key for the stars

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Muse – Will of the People

Muse – Will of the People

The record company wanted to release a greatest hits compilation, but instead Muse decided to give us their ninth album, with songs that sound somewhat like their most popular in the past. The result is highly effective as the band delivers perhaps their strongest songs since 2009's The Resistance. From the opening track, Muse immerses us in the world of Marilyn Manson on the title track with a fusion of Manson's "The Beautiful People" and "Psycho". The satirical song was inspired by the attack on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021. "Compliance" takes us back to the last two albums with its synthesizers, while "Verona" reminds us of U2 and "Liberation" carries us to the world of Queen, while revisiting "United States of Eurasia". At the end of the record, with "Euphoria" and "We Are Fucking Fucked" the band revisits the hits "Time Is Running Out" and "Knights of Cydonia". In terms of themes, Muse moves away from extraterrestrial threats to focus more on real threats to our world. It is therefore possibly their most socio-political album to date. But musically, the band has set themselves up for guaranteed success, with a string of potential hits and songs that reflect their past hits (which some might criticize them for though). In the end, Will of the People turns out to be a very high quality album, 10 tracks that are enjoyable to listen to from start to finish.

Music Videos: « Won’t Stand Down » - « Compliance » - « Will of the People » - « Killed or Be Killed » - « You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween »

     

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

 

A Family Curse – A Family Curse

A Family Curse is a super duo formed by singer Kandle and her father, Neil Osborne, leader of 54-40. For their debut album together, the father-daughter duo offers a very interesting mix of blues rock and Americana, with a touch of alternative rock. The 10 songs manage to merge the past and the present in a very enjoyable and timeless way. The songs are both catchy and hypnotic, and the quality of the arrangements is impressive considering the minimalist home recording (slide guitar, vocals and drums). This is a surprising album, which will not leave anyone indifferent. If Kandle and Neil were thinking of doing a simple little project on the side before coming back to their commitments, let's bet that their agenda will be somewhat disrupted by the high demand of concerts.

Music Videos: « Cemetery Blues » - « Shake & Shudder » - « Getaway Car »

½

 

 

september 16-22:

 

 Harmonie des saisons – Bach Concertos

Harmonie des saisonsBach Concertos

Harmonie des saisons conducted by Eric Milnes presents five concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach. With soloists Julia Wedman (violin), Jessy Dubé (violin), Matthew Jennejohn (oboe d'amore and oboe) and Eric Milnes (harpsichord), we can rediscover the concertos BWV 1043 (2 violins), 1055R (oboe d’amore), 1041 (violin), 1054 (harpsichord) and 1060R (oboe), five of Bach's most beautiful and best known works. The unique interpretation of the Harmonie des saisons, on period instruments, gives a traditional dimension to these often heard Bach concertos. An excellent recording!

ATMA Classique

½

   

 Paul Marleyn & Stéphane Lemelin – Sonates pour piano et violoncelle

Paul Marleyn & Stéphane Lemelin – Sonates pour piano et violoncelle

Paul Marleyn (cello) and Stéphane Lemelin (piano) explore the music of three French Romantic composers: Édouard Lalo (1823-1892), Paul Lacombe (1837-1927) and Fernand de La Tombelle (1854-1928). The album contains a sonata for each composer. Composed in 1856, Lalo's "Sonata for Piano and Cello in A minor" was dedicated to the famous Russian pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein. Lacombe's little-known "Sonata for Piano and Cello, Op. 100" was composed in 1902 and dedicated to Jules Loeb, a professor at the Paris Conservatory. As for the melodic "Sonata for Piano and Cello in D minor" by La Tombelle, it was composed in 1905. This is a very nice record for fans of romantic sonatas.

ATMA Classique

½

   

 

august:

 

Imagine Dragons – Mercury: Acts 1 & 2

Imagine Dragons – Mercury: Acts 1 & 2

After Act 1 in 2021, Imagine Dragons completes the story with Mercury: Act 2, which they add to the first one for a double album. This second disc contains 18 tracks that examine the time that passes after the shock and grief of loss. While the first part dealt with these messy emotions with some of the rawest and most vulnerable moments of the band's usual radio-friendly repertoire, the second part loses some of its focus and coherence. There are still several good songs, but there are simply too many attempts in all sorts of directions. Act 2 starts off strong with the irresistible singles "Bones" and "Sharks", but it quickly takes on a more reflective bent, which doesn't necessarily suit them. Dan Reynolds laments his shortcomings on "I Don't Like Myself" and begs for relief on "Take It Easy". The second half is weighed down by similar moments that drown out their catchier songs. Compiling both parts on Mercury: Acts 1 & 2, the band presents the full experience across 32 tracks, including the hit single "Enemy" from the Arcane League of Legends soundtrack. (August 2022 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Wrecked » - « Bones » - « Sharks »

     

 

 

DC Gore – All These Things

Dominic Gore is part of a rich tradition of British originals. A kind of cross between Martin Parr and Jarvis Cocker, Gore presents his debut album with All These Things. Satire and candor mix on this first try with a new wave feel, thanks to an almost abusive use of analogue synthesizers. The result is a mix of sophisticated danceable electro pop and art rock. From an early age, Gore felt on the bangs of society as his parents did not have a television and he was therefore completely removed from popular culture. This unique childhood is reflected in his music, which does not fit into any clear musical trend, a timeless sound of great creativity. Almost entirely self-produced, All These Things has many interesting elements that will appeal to a wide audience, especially with its danceable rhythms. (August 2022 Featured New Artist)

½

     

Beyoncé – Renaissance

Beyoncé – Renaissance

Six years after Lemonade, Beyoncé is back with the first album of a trilogy, carried on by the debut single, "Break My Soul". Renaissance begins with a slow and unique introduction, "I'm That Girl", before picking up the pace to become a great R&B sequence with house and disco influences. While "Break My Soul" is certainly the perfect radio-friendly single, many of the tracks on the record also have excellent commercial potential, and they fit together greatly for over an hour. This is an album without any ballads and with great creativity, certainly one of the best R&B albums of the year. (August 2022)

Music Video: « Break My Soul »

     

 

Laurie LeBlanc – Long Weekend

Laurie LeBlanc – Long Weekend

Acadian Laurie LeBlanc missed a lot of family fun during the pandemic. So now he presents an album entirely dedicated to summer fun. The country artist explores all aspects of summer partying, from cocktails to the beach, barbecues, sun, and vacations. He even pays tribute to the Beach Boys. LeBlanc presents a bilingual album of 12 songs, half in French and half in English. The title track is in both languages. It's a positive album, tailor-made to celebrate! And according to LeBlanc himself, it will be his last career album... (August 2022)

 

 

Beyoncé – Renaissance

Demi Lovato – Holy Fvck

After years of navigating the sometimes (often) bland pop world, Demi Lovato takes a pop punk turn on Holy Fvck. The result is her most authentic album to date, and perhaps the strongest in her career. The aggressive riffs are compelling, and Demi sounds genuinely angry, not just for appearances, addressing themes of mortality, trauma, and addiction. "Freak" (featuring Yungblud), "Skin of My Teeth" and "Substance" will quickly convince you, as will the particularly heavy, almost metal, "Eat Me" (featuring Royal & the Serpent). As for the mid-tempo title track, it's no less aggressive in what it says. The second half contains a little more powerful rock ballads, but still with a good dose of aggressiveness. Demi inevitably recalls P!nk, Avril Lavigne's most punk moments, and even Courtney Love in her most intense moments of rage. With Holy Fvck, Demi Lovato fits perfectly into the new pop punk movement of the early 2020s, along with Yungblud in particular. It remains to be seen what she has in store for us next. Will she return to a more radio-friendly pop rock sound, or will she continue to spit all her rage in our faces, without compromise? (August 2022)

Music Videos: « Skin of My Teeth » - « Substance »

     

 

Panic! At the Disco – Viva Las Vengeance

Panic! At the Disco – Viva Las Vengeance

After four years of absence, the Las Vegas band is back with Viva Las Vengeance. For this seventh album of Panic! At the Disco, Brendon Urie comes up with a true tribute to rock 'n' roll in a recording that is extremely enjoyable and entertaining throughout the 12 tracks. He moves seamlessly between pop punk, emo and danceable rock, with Broadway-esque vocal flourishes. But above all, the music remains comparable to the greatest rock anthems, from Queen to Cheap Trick. Yet, despite the seemingly grandiose arrangements, Urie recorded almost everything directly to tape, without reworking anything, at least not at that stage. Knowing this, the result is even more interesting and reminds us of the good old days of authentic music on vinyl. The influences of the 1970's can be felt on several occasions: Elvis Costello on "Middle of a Breakup", AC/DC on "Sugar Soaker", Thin Lizzy on "Star Spangled Banger", as well as the Ramones on the opening of the title track. This is another solid album for Panic! At the Disco, a record that looks like a concept album, so much so that the tracks follow each other wonderfully, for 44 minutes that go by at high speed. (August 2022)

Music Videos: « Viva Las Vengeance » - « Don’t Let the Light Go Out » - « Sad Clown » - « Sugar Soaker »

½

     

 

 

JUly:

 

Drake – Honestly, Nevermind

Drake – Honestly, Nevermind

On Honestly, Nevermind, the Toronto rapper offers a new direction for his rap / R&B music, focused on an almost house beat. For the occasion, Drake surrounds himself with the producers 40, Carnage and Black Coffee, but with very few collaborators unlike his previous albums. We can rediscover his vocal abilities, to our great pleasure, and the rhythms are irresistible and extremely catchy. Then, the brighter side of the album proves to be greatly pleasant in comparison with his much darker recent recordings. In addition to the house trend, we can hear some Latin passages and slower R&B ballads, but the whole remains very interesting, a pure happiness! This is a very successful record, certainly one of his best albums to date. (July 2022 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Falling Back »

½

 

 

 

Horsegirl – Versions of Modern Performance

Horsegirl is a young female trio from Chicago whose main influences are Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. On their debut album, the trio offers music merging shoegaze, alternative rock and indie pop. One can compare them to My Bloody Valentine, Pavement, but especially Sonic Youth of course. Their sound reminds a lot of the 90's and creates a strong link between the past and the present. Horsegirl indeed manages to take some of the best elements of 90's rock and make it today's music. Versions of Modern Performance proves to be a solid album from start to finish. (July 2022 Featured New Artist)

½

   

 Ramon Chicharron – Destello de estrellas

The Beatles and India (DVD/blu-ray)

From a very young age, George Harrison was listening to Indian music with his mother. He was able to spread his passion for India to his Beatles partners and they went there in 1968 with their wives and a score of friends, for a strange pilgrimage in order to soak up the culture and meditate. It is this journey that is told in the movie The Beatles and India, directed by Ajoy Bose, a rebellious teenager from Calcutta at the time the Beatles were visiting. This trip to Rishikesh, including their meeting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the originator of transcendental meditation), greatly influenced the band, which is reflected in the double album The Beatles (The White Album). The film is a good portrait of the Beatles' journey to India. Unfortunately, there is no music by the band, but rather covers by Benji Merrison and Beatles-inspired songs. (July 2022)

MVD

   

 

JUNE:

 

Simple Plan – Harder Than It Looks

Simple Plan – Harder Than It Looks

Six years after Taking One for the Team, the Montreal pop punk band is back with their sixth album in their 20-year career. Simple Plan presents some great pop rock songs, fusing their old time punk sound ("Best Day of My Life") with more current pop rock moments ("Iconic"). Opening with "Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare's Over)" is the style that made the band famous around the world, and this trend continues with "Ruin My Life" (featuring Deryck Whibley from Sum 41) and the first single, "The Antidote". Harder Than It Looks is varied while including few weak moments. It is only a little short with its 10 tracks totaling less than 35 minutes. (June 2022 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « The Antidote » - « Ruin My Life » - « Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over) »

½

     

 

 

The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention

The Smile is a side project by Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, accompanied by drummer Tom Skinner of the modern jazz band Sons of Kemet. It also features Radiohead's producer Nigel Godrich. The trio offers a superb mix of progressive rock and psychedelic music with several moments of extremely successful experimentation. We recognize many of the characteristic elements of Radiohead, which bring us back 15-20 years ago. The band offers a generous album of 13 songs for more than 53 minutes, but especially without weaknesses. We can discover several highly effective and original songs, notably "The Opposite", "You Will Never Work in Television Again" and "Pana-Vision", without forgetting the excellent "We Don't Know What Tomorrow Brings". This is a very high-quality album by The Smile, reminiscent of some of Radiohead's best recordings. (June 2022 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Free in the Knowledge » - « Thin Thing »

½

   

The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie

The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie

The Ohio duo is already back with a new album, one year after Delta Kream, which covered classic blues songs. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney return with 10 short and effective songs in the garage blues style they are known for, with elements of boogie, soul and psychedelic rock. Billy F. Gibbons (ZZ Top) adds his unique touch to "Good Love", while Greg Cartwright of Reigning Sound and Angelo Petraglia of Kings of Leon bring "Wild Child" to life as the album's introduction. All of the songs are interesting and, with the exception of the ballad "How Long", the whole thing remains catchy until the end. This is another solid recording from the Black Keys. (June 2022)

Music Video: « Wild Child »

½

     

 

 Ramon Chicharron – Destello de estrellas

Ramon Chicharron – Destello de estrellas

Colombian-Montrealer multi-instrumentalist Ramon Chicharron presents his fourth career album with Destello de estrellas (star sparkles). He offers 12 Latin songs, danceable and sunny, all in his native language. Chicharron mixes Latin and Caribbean rhythms with electronic sounds, as in the first three singles: "Contigo Escapar" (with Natasha Kanapé Fontaine), "Estrellas", and "Yerbatero" (with Elkin Robinson). Collaborators also include Cruzito, Boogat, Poirier and Ephniko. This is a very good album for fans of electro-tropical music. (June 2022)

Ray-On

½

 

Florence + the Machine – Dance Fever

Florence + the Machine – Dance Fever

Florence Welch is back with her fifth album after a four-year absence. From the title, one might expect Dance Fever to be a danceable and energetic album, but it is not. It is rather a pure and introspective album with very nice and almost spiritual compositions. There are still some good and catchy pop tracks, notably "Free" and "My Love". However, "Choreomania" and "Cassandra" return to confessional spoken words and church organs, for much softer songs. The whole offers a nice coherence and remains pleasant throughout, for possibly the best Florence + the Machine album in 10 years. (June 2022)

½

     

 

 

MAY:

 

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love

For their 12th album, the Red Hot Chili Peppers welcome back guitarist John Frusciante, who had been absent for a decade. They also reunite with legendary producer Rick Rubin, who was absent on the last album, The Getaway, released six years ago. All these reunions seem to bring a renewed sense of fun to the band. However, the maturity of the last decade is still there. Rather than a string of hits as in the past, the band offers a coherent whole with elaborate arrangements for 17 songs totaling 73 minutes. There are some lighter funk elements at various points, but the whole thing remains serious, perhaps a little too serious. In fact, despite some good moments ("Black Summer", "Poster Child", "The Heavy Wing"), the album seems a bit too long and could have been tightened up to keep the fun going throughout. Without being uninteresting, the very elaborate Unlimited Love might repel many of their fans who will rather turn to their past hits. (May 2022 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Black Summer » - « These Are the Ways »

     

 

 

Night Palace – Diving Rings

Hailing from New York City and Athens, Georgia, Night Palace comes to us with their debut album. Diving Rings presents a mix of alternative rock and dream pop, all based on the catchy melodies and beautiful voice of Avery Draut. The sweetness of a song like "Into the Wake, Mystified" may remind one of Alvvays or Cate Le Bon. The string section on "Enjoy the Moon!" is reminiscent of pop music from another era, as far back as the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. The sophisticated chamber pop arrangements are superb for wrapping around the more rocking moments of the record. The songs on Diving Rings would certainly work in their simplest form, but the arrangements here add a fascinating layer to the album. This is an incomparable first record for Night Palace, a band to watch closely in the future. (May 2022 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Enjoy the Moon! » - « Titania »

½

 

Arcade Fire – WE

Arcade Fire – WE

Five years after the disappointing Everything Now, the Montreal band is back with its sixth album. Arcade Fire manages to find its bearings on WE, with an emotional album greatly influenced by the pandemic, but which also contains some very good moments of entertainment ("Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)", "The Lightning II"). Also note the presence of a renowned collaborator in Peter Gabriel who accompanies the band on "Unconditional II (Race and Religion)" (a song that puts Régine Chassagne at the forefront). The first half of the record, consisting of the suites "Age of Anxiety" and "End of the Empire", is a bit more personal, while the second half, with the suites "The Lightning" and "Unconditional", is more of their fun-loving band work. This second half inevitably takes us back to the sounds of Funeral and Neon Bible. The album is concluding with the soft acoustic title track. The production of Nigel Godrich, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne turns out to be rather successful, which reconciles us with their past, even if the album still contains some unevenness among the 10 tracks. (May 2022)

Music Videos: « The Lightning I, II » - « Unconditional I (Lookout Kid) »

½

     

 

 Philip Chiu – Fables

Philip Chiu – Fables

With Fables, Canadian pianist Philip Chiu presents a solo album on which he combines two piano transcriptions of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) with "Mnidoonskaa" ("An Abundance of Insects"), a 2021 work by Anishinaabekwe composer Barbara Assiginaak. Ravel's "String Quartet in F Major" from 1903 (a transcription of Lucien Garban's "Quartet for Solo Piano" published in 1921) and "Mother Goose: five children’s pieces" (a version for solo piano by Jacques Charlot published in 1910) can be rediscovered. For solo piano fans, Philip Chiu is a master who offers very beautiful interpretations. (May 2022)

ATMA Classique

½

     

 I Musici de Montréal – Richard Strauss / Arvo Pärt

I Musici de Montréal – Richard Strauss / Arvo Pärt

This is the first recording by I Musici de Montréal for ATMA Classique, and their first record in 10 years. It features the response to the devastation of World War II, "Metamorphosen: Study for 23 Solo Strings, TrV 290" from German composer Richard Strauss (1864-1949), and the beautiful "Symphony No. 4, Los Angeles" from Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (1935-...). Pärt describes his symphony as "a salute to the great power of the human spirit and human dignity". Conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the chamber orchestra recorded the two works several months apart due to the global pandemic. They succeed in touching listeners deeply with their tributes to beauty and their timeless messages of hope. All of this is masterfully performed by an orchestra with nearly 40 years of experience and great talent, for a superb album! (May 2022)

ATMA Classique

½

   

 Ranee Lee – Because You Loved Me

Ranee Lee – Because You Loved Me

On Because You Loved Me, jazz singer Ranee Lee takes on Celine Dion's repertoire, reinterpreting some of her greatest hits. She covers these huge pop hits in a very different style, often a complete reconstruction of the original as even the melody gets lost in the somewhat funky jazz ensemble. To help her in her mission to revive Celine's songs, Ranee turned to her trusted collaborator, pianist and producer Taurey Butler, who worked on new arrangements. However, there was a significant loss on this album as it was her first recording without her husband, guitarist Richard Ring, who died of cancer in 2018. Ranee features the hits "My Heart Will Go On", "I'm Alive", "All By Myself", "The Power of Love", and the title track. But it also features a medley of "House of the Rising Sun / Je crois", plus "Nature Boy", popularized by Nat King Cole, a favorite of both Ranee and Celine. Thanks to some jazz improvisations, the nine-track album still spans 55 minutes. It offers a totally different way to rediscover Celine Dion's greatest hits. (May 2022)

Justin Time / SIX

½

   

 Lydia Persaud – Moody31

Lydia Persaud – Moody31

Toronto's Lydia Persaud introduces her sophomore album, three years after Let Me Show You. The singer-songwriter shows all her talent on Moody31, with groovy jazz and sounds reminiscent of 1970s soul music. The tone and sound of "Let Me Be There For You" and "Think of Me" even reference Marvin Gaye's classic "Here My Dear" with a subtle nod. Produced by Scott McCannell (who also plays bass), the album features some of the best musicians on the Toronto scene: Christine Bougie (guitar), Chino de Villa (percussion and drums), Ben McDonald (keyboards and backing vocals), Kyla Charter (backing vocals) and James Baley (backing vocals). Lydia's ukulele is also an integral part of Moody31. In addition to the effective grooves, the melodies are sublime and the eight songs present Lydia's unique personal stories that she interprets in her beautiful, sultry voice. The only problem with the record is that at only 20 minutes, it's more of an EP that should have been presented as such, to avoid some frustration down the line. (May 2022)

Next Door / SIX

½

   

Sigrid – How to Let Go

Sigrid – How to Let Go

The young Norwegian female singer comes back with her sophomore album, three years after Sucker Punch. Sigrid gains in maturity and presents a record even more solid than her previous one, thanks to high quality compositions that are also refreshing. She offers positive dance pop songs as well as mid-tempo ballads with grandiose arrangements. "Risk of Getting Hurt" is a cross between Sia and Natasha Bedingfield, while the guitar in the opening "It Gets Dark" is reminiscent of KT Tunstall. As for the acoustic "Grow", it carries us into Coldplay territory. Finally, with "Bad Life", Sigrid even allows herself a duet with Oli Sykes from Bring Me the Horizon. How to Let Go is an extremely effective album that will certainly make Sigrid proud for many years to come. (May 2022)

Music Videos: « Mirror » - « Burning Bridges » - « It Gets Dark » - « Bad Life »

     

 

 

april:

 

Charli XCX – Crash

Charli XCX – Crash

This is already the sixth album for Charlotte Emma Aitchison (aka Charli XCX) and she's not even 30 yet. After albums of alternative pop music, Charli XCX takes more than ever a mainstream direction on Crash, her last record for Atlantic Records. She now fully embraces her pop star status with influences from the early 1990s and the turn of the year 2000. The production is huge, but the creativity is still fully there, a mix that works well for Charli, especially on "New Shapes" (with Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek). On "Yuck," she refreshes the sound of the late 1980s, while "Used to Know Me" includes a sample of Robin S.'s "Show Me Love" from 1993. "Beg For You" (with Rina Sawayama) incorporates September's "Cry for You" and Milk Inc.'s "Don't Cry", so Charli is particularly adept at revisiting a repertoire from another era while adding her own creative touch. The result is an extremely enjoyable danceable pop album that will appeal to nostalgic fans of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as to fans of current and original pop music. (April 2022 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Good Ones » - « New Shapes » - « Beg For You » - « Baby » - « Every Rule »

½

   

 

 

Manela – Éphémère

Manela is a Quebec jazz quartet formed by Marie Neige Lavigne (violin), Bernard Falaise (guitar), Jean Félix Mailloux (double bass) and Pierre Tanguay (drums). Éphémère is their debut album and features improvisations, beautiful melodies, efficient rhythms, as well as African and Indian influences. The nine original pieces are compositions by Marie Neige Lavigne, the instigator of the project. She is a violinist and composer with more than 20 years of experience and a founding member of Cordâme. Manela offers a beautiful jazz album, which will certainly be appreciated by many fans of the genre. (April 2022 Featured New Artist)

Malasartes

½

 

 

Angel Forrest – Angel’s 11, Vol. II

In 2016, Angel Forrest released Angel's 11, an album of collaborations with 11 virtuoso guitarists. She's doing it again six years later, but this time with 11 of her favorite male and female vocalists. Her first spontaneous choice was Harry Manx, whose talent she admired but had never worked with. He sings with Angel on "Gypsy Heart". Other collaborations include Ricky Paquette, Rob Lutes, Reney Ray, Dawn Tyler Watson, Jonas Tomalty, and her husband, D. Columbus (Denis Coulombe). All these artists give another perspective to these new compositions by Angel Forrest, which are inspired by current events: police violence on blacks, domestic violence, effects of the pandemic on youth, etc. Even before the release of the record, we were able to discover a first country-blues single, "My Favourite", with D. Columbus. Here is an effective and pleasant record from Angel Forrest. (April 2022)

Ad Litteram

   

Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity

Ibibio Sound Machine – Electricity

The English band Ibibio Sound Machine is back with its fourth album. Electricity offers again a great mix of West African funk and disco with electronic beats sometimes pop, but often more underground than in the past. The afro-futurist collective asked for the first time the help of outside producers in Hot Chip (Al Doyle and Joe Goddard) who allowed them to reorient their style a bit towards electro / new wave music a la Kraftwerk. The first song, "Protection From Evil" gives a very good idea of that. Female singer Eno Williams alternates between her native language (Ibibio) and English, and this will be the case throughout the record. The title track includes robotized vocals and electronic drums, but with a pop-soul melody. As for "Afo Ken Doko Mien", it is a beautiful love song with an ambient electro texture. "All That You Want" may remind of LCD Soundsystem with its synthesizer vibe, but quickly turns into European electro disco music. Finally, "Something We'll Remember" is a must-have disco anthem, perfect for the dance floor. All in all, Electricity presents a superb blend of energetic dance music, creativity, and diverse cultures. The whole thing is both varied and coherent, accessible and underground. This is a very creative album from Ibibio Sound Machine, certainly their best one until now. (April 2022)

Music Videos: « Electricity » - « Protection From Evil »

½

   

 

Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful

Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful

After 30 years of career, the English band comes to us with its ninth album. If 2018's And Nothing Hurt featured a somewhat psychedelic mix of blues and gospel, Everything Was Beautiful returns to a slightly more standard alternative rock, though the songs were created around the same time. There are, of course, still many creative elements on the album, in long songs that are often close to six minutes (up to 10 minutes with the conclusion, "I'm Coming Home Again"). Yet, despite the length of the seven tracks, they listen beautifully and fly by at lightning speed, making for a very enjoyable album. The band remains extremely original and experiments a lot. They even go off on an unexpected country tangent with "Crazy", one of the few intimate moments on the record. But the highlight of the album remains the opening track, "Always Together With You", a sweeping rock anthem with 1970s glam rock influences. With Everything Was Beautiful, Spiritualized offers us possibly their strongest album in 25 years, since the excellent Ladies and Gentlemen... We Are Floating in Space. (April 2022)

½

     

 

 

Daddy Yankee – LegenDaddy

After bringing reggaeton to a wide audience 20 years ago, Daddy Yankee has had tremendous success, not only with the Latin population, but around the world. Now 45 years old, the Puerto Rican has announced that he is presenting his last album before a well-deserved (if rather early) retirement. It remains to be seen if this is just the famous marketing strategy of leaving to come back in a triumphant and unexpected return. With LegenDaddy, he still leaves by the big door with a solid album of 19 tracks and almost 55 minutes. He once again presents unavoidable dance beats and several potential hits, starting with "X Ultima Vez" (with Bad Bunny), "Rumbaton", "Hot" (with Pitbull), "Zona Del Perreo" (with Natti Natasha and Becky G) - "Agua" (with Rauw Alejandro and Nile Rodgers), "Bombon" (with El Alfa and Lil Jon), "La Ola", "El Abusador Del Abusador", "Impares" and "Remix". This is a nice way to go to a golden retirement, while leaving the place to the next generation. (April 2022)

Music Videos: « Rumbaton » - « Hot » - « Zona Del Perreo » - « Remix » - « Agua » - « Bombon » - « La Ola » - « El Abusador Del Abusador » - « Impares »

½

 

 

MARCH:

 

Avril Lavigne – Love Sux

Avril Lavigne – Love Sux

Three years after Head Above Water, Avril Lavigne comes back full of energy with a very efficient album of less than 34 minutes. While she was divided between her punk and her emotional side on most of her albums, it is clearly the punk version of Avril that we can discover on Love Sux. We can hear 12 extremely energetic short songs, from the opening with "Cannonball", "Bois Lie" (with Machine Gun Kelly), "Bite Me", "Love It When You Hate Me" (with Blackbear), and the title track, all of which go by at lightning speed for our greatest pleasure. The collaborations of Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear are rather useless, but let's also note that of Mark Hoppus in "All I Wanted", a much more interesting and worthy participation. With Travis Barker acting as drummer on the album, it was almost a Blink-182 reunion. With Love Sux, Avril Lavigne unleashes her madness and reclaims her rights as punk princess. Here is an excellent pop punk album for a highly effective release! (March 2022 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Bite Me »

½

     

 

 

Priscilla Block – Welcome to the Block Party

Priscilla Block is a country pop singer from Raleigh, North Carolina who brings us her first ever full-length album, following EPs in 2017 and 2021. She offers standard country tunes, but her melodies are generally quite pop. There are also elements of southern rock on several occasions (for example in the most recent single, "My Bar") for rather varied music overall. Priscilla has the voice and the energy to reach a wide audience. In addition, she signs all the songs herself. She is even nominated for New Female Artist of the Year at the upcoming ACM Awards (March 7). Good luck to her! (March 2022 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Just About Over You » - « Thick Thighs » - « Wish You Were the Whiskey » - « Peaked in High School » - « My Bar »

     

 

D. Columbus – Eleven Dollar Bill

A loyal accomplice of Angel Forrest on record, on stage and in life, D. Columbus has collaborated with many pop and blues artists in Quebec as a musician, composer or producer during his 30-year career (Hugo Lapointe, Annie Villeneuve, Paul Deslauriers, John McGale, Breen Leboeuf, Martin Deschamps and many others). After having participated in more than 20 albums, D. Columbus now presents his first solo recording, Eleven Dollar Bill, a country album entirely in English with pop and folk influences. It features 10 effective songs reminiscent of American country music. Note the presence of Angel Forrest on "To Love Somebody" at the end of the album. (March 2022)

Ad Litteram

   

 

Gang of Youths – Angel in Realtime.

The indie rock band from Sydney, Australia comes to us with their third album, their first since 2017. Angel in Realtime was largely inspired by lead singer David Le'aupepe's father, who passed away from cancer in 2018. While the album is very autobiographical, it also emotionally reaches a wide audience. Gang of Youths features anthems like "In the Wake of Your Leave", "The Angel of 8th Ave." and "The Man Himself" that are infectious and can evoke artists like Bruce Springsteen, U2 and even New Order with their rock and new wave blend. Orchestral sections add richness to the album which is very complete and coherent from beginning to end. Here is the album of their career so far... (March 2022)

½

     

 

Cécile McLorin Salvant – Ghost Song

Cécile McLorin Salvant continues to push the boundaries of jazz on Ghost Song. Cécile once again offers solid original compositions ("Thunderclouds", "Moon Song", the title track, etc.), but also covers of traditional songs ("The World is Mean", "Unquiet Grave") or contemporary ones ("Optimistic Voices/No Love Dying", "Until" by Sting). She also offers a superb version of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" at the very beginning of the record. The album was conceived in the context of the loss of two people close to her: her grandmother and her long-time drummer Lawrence Leathers, who was tragically killed in a domestic dispute in 2019. It is this sense of terrible loss that hangs over Ghost Song, another exceptional album from Cécile McLorin Salvant. (March 2022)

½

     

 Men Without Hats – Again, Pt. 2

Men Without Hats – Again, Pt. 2

The Quebec-based band arrives with their first album of original songs in 10 years, one year after the EP Again, Pt. 1, which paid tribute to some of their favorite artists. Brothers Ivan and Colin Doruschuk, supplemented since 2016 by guitarist Sho Murray, explore a wide range of themes on Again, Pt. 2: the state of the planet ("If the World Should End Today", "The Human Race"), the meaning of life ("Just Another Day", "Where the Wild Go"), the state of art ("Heaven", "My Own Advice"), and, of course, love ("The Love Inside Your Heart", "When Does Love Begin"). Musically, the trio still offers its electro-pop sound completely focused on synthesizers. The digital and analog mix joins the present to their best years. They even used the Prophet 5 synthesizer, which was used at the time for the recording of "The Safety Dance", their biggest career hit. The only problem is that in the early 1980s, Men Without Hats were among the innovators with their electronic sound, but today they sound rather old-fashioned. There are still some good catchy songs anyway with unforgettable melodies. Note that 2022 represents the 40th anniversary of their debut album, Rhythm of Youth. (March 2022)

Sonic Envy / Curve / SIX

     

 

Rosalia – Motomami

The Spanish female singer returns with her third album, four years after El Mal Querer. On Motomami, Rosalia proposes a very innovative sound that skillfully mixes Latin pop, electronic music and other world influences. Two energies seem to confront each other with energetic dance pieces and more introspective tracks. There are also several experimental moments, even if they try desperately to create a harmonious whole. It will certainly take a few good listenings to completely adhere to the proposal which proves to be quite destabilizing at first. The most electronic moments can remind us of Moby, while the experimentation brings us back to Björk. Billie Eilish also comes to mind on several occasions. Let's note two collaborations: The Weeknd for "La Fama" and Tokischa for "La Combi". This is an excellent album for Rosalia, possibly her best, even if it requires a certain effort to listen and adhere. (March 2022)

½

     

 

Stabbing Westward – Chasing Ghosts

The Illinois alternative and industrial metal band released four albums between 1993 and 2001, but since then, no news, until now. With Chasing Ghosts, Stabbing Westward goes back to the best of their industrial metal side. For the occasion, Orgy alumni Carlton Bost (guitar) and Bobby Amaro (drums) join vocalist and guitarist Christopher Hall and programmer Walter Flakus. The band manages to avoid nostalgia, while presenting the logical follow-up to Darkest Days released in 1998. It is an energetic and highly effective album that can be compared to the best industrial albums. Tracks like "Cold" and "Control Z" are must-haves and could become classics in the genre. As for "Push" and "The End", they are epic tracks of more than seven minutes. Indeed, the 10 tracks of Chasing Ghosts contain no real weaknesses. This is the album that everyone has been waiting for from Stabbing Westward for over 20 years. (March 2022)

     

 The Weather Station – How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars

The Weather Station – How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars

It is only one year after the release of Ignorance that Tamara Lindeman is back with a new album. How Is It That I Should Look at the Stars is meant to be complementary to the previous record, as the songs were written at the same time, in the same emotion, and the themes overlap: conflict, disconnection, love, birds, and climate. This new album was recorded in only three days and the result is an intimate whole with a lot of silences, maybe a little too much. The extremely calm album gathers 10 ballads on 32 minutes and leaves all the room to the simple and naive lyrics. It allows to appreciate the purity of Tamara's compositions. The album was made without any notice to the record companies and by gathering a new group of musicians (mostly from the Toronto jazz and improvisation scene), without drums or percussion. The musicians improvised in the studio to accompany Tamara on piano. This is a spontaneous album of immense sensitivity and absolute sweetness that will appeal to fans of intimate music. (March 2022)

Next Door / SIX

½

   

 Viola Borealis

Viola Borealis

On this album featuring the viola, violist Marina Thibeault and the Agora Orchestra, conducted by Nicolas Ellis, present two classical concertos, as well as two works for solo viola ("Ningodwaaswi" and "Niizh") from Melody McKiver of the Anishinabe Nation. The CD includes the first viola concerto in history, "Viola Concerto in G Major TWV 51:G9" from Georg Philip Telemann (1681-1767). One of the most recent works, the "Viola Concerto" from Peteris Vasks (1946-...) is also featured. Note that Melody McKiver's two solo works are taken from Reckoning, dedicated to the memory of the composer's grandmother, a survivor of residential schools. This is a very nice album for any viola fan, very enjoyable! (March 2022)

ATMA Classique

   

 Jean-Michel Pilc – Alive: Live at Dièse Onze, Montréal

Jean-Michel Pilc – Alive: Live at Dièse Onze, Montréal

In this recording at Dièse Onze in Montreal on June 26, 2021, Parisian pianist Jean-Michel Pilc demonstrated more than ever the power of spontaneity and improvisation in jazz music. Along with fellow musicians Rémi-Jean LeBlanc on bass and Jim Doxas on drums, Pilc improvised for over two hours and this is only the first part on the album. It features five tracks: two of his own compositions ("11 Sharp" and "Alive"), "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise" composed by Oscar Hammerstein II and Sigmund Romerg for the 1928 operetta New Moon, and two Miles Davis classics ("Nardis" and "All Blues"). The seven other pieces of the concert are also available in electronic version only. These include an explosive version of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz", the standards "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "My Funny Valentine", as well as a very unexpected version of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby". The whole concludes with John Coltrane's very effective "Mr. P.C.", almost 14 minutes with a Latin feel. The CD will seem incomplete with only the first five tracks, but the whole available online is very satisfying with two hours and 15 minutes of excellent jazz music. (March 2022)

Justin Time / SIX

½

   

 

February:

 

The Weeknd – Dawn FM

The Weeknd – Dawn FM

Two years after the excellent After Hours, The Weeknd is back with another great album. This time, the theme is a dawn radio show with Jim Carrey as the slightly creepy host of that morning radio station. Carrey creates the link between some of the songs, while adding to the atmosphere of the whole, before delivering a three-minute epilogue, "Phantom Regret". The result is an album of great coherence in which each piece is at the right place, for an enjoyable listening from beginning to end. Few tracks stand out among the 16 offered, except for the hits "Take My Breath" and "Sacrifice". Besides Carrey, other collaborators include Tyler, the Creator on "Here We Go... Again" and Lil Wayne on "I Heard You're Married". With Dawn FM, the Toronto artist refines his craft even further, for a first-rate R&B album. Even if 2022 is still young, the record is likely to be among the best of the year. Note that a deluxe version is also available, subtitled Alternate World. It features three additional tracks: a house remix of "Take My Breath" featuring Agents of Time, as well as two collaborations with Swedish House Mafia for a remix of "Sacrifice" and the hit "Moth to a Flame". (February 2022 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Take My Breath » - « Sacrifice » - « Gasoline » - « Moth to a Flame »

     

 

 

Ghostly Kisses – Heaven, Wait

With four EPs that have garnered millions of listens online, Quebec's Margaux Sauvé (aka Ghostly Kisses) has carved out a more than enviable place for herself on the global music scene. The singer-songwriter has finally arrived with her first full-length album, Heaven, Wait. Following a long depression, this album represents a rebirth for her. There are many transitions: from friendship to love ("Heaven, Wait"), from life to death ("Your Heart Is Gold"), from loneliness to relationship ("Heartbeat"), from childhood to adulthood ("Green Book"). The music of Ghostly Kisses is a soft and muffled pop, a great electro sound of avant-gardist atmosphere. Even if there is still a certain dark and melancholic side, the album is brighter than what she did before, even danceable on some occasions. Her voice whispers in our ears and quickly bewitches us. The artist worked with renowned producers: Tim Bran (London Grammar, Aurora, Birdy) and Thomas Bartlett (The National, Sufjan Stevens, Florence and the Machine). The result is an impressive album by its coherence, its arrangements, and the quality of its compositions. It is a first record of very high caliber by this artist to watch closely in the years to come. (February 2022 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Don’t Know Why » - « Heartbeat »

½

     

 Beach House – Once Twice Melody

Beach House – Once Twice Melody

The shoegaze duo from Baltimore is back on record, four years after 7. The inspiration was definitely there as Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally present us a double album of almost an hour and a half. They produced the album themselves and seem to have total creative freedom. Once Twice Melody starts with a series of four first-rate songs: the title track, "Superstar", "Pink Funeral" and "Through Me". First, "Once Twice Melody" includes synthesizers and electronic drums recalling the duo's early days, before adding strings, courtesy of arranger David Campbell, to create a symphonic pop sound reminiscent of the 1960s. As for "Superstar", it is an instant classic with a very pleasant rhythm. There are of course a few sadder tracks worthy of shoegaze, but Once Twice Melody is rather bright in general. Above all, Beach House offer us an excellent entertainment, creative and very high quality indie pop music. (February 2022)

½

     

 Billy Talent – Crisis of Faith

Billy Talent – Crisis of Faith

The Canadian pop punk band is back with their sixth album, their first in six years, since 2016's effective Afraid of Heights. Billy Talent returns to their winning recipe on Crisis of Faith with unforgettable catchy tracks. The album kicks off with a bang with "Forgiveness I + II," an almost progressive two-part song that totals 6 minutes and 40 seconds. It's both daring and very satisfying, for a great moment in their career. There is also the dark ballad "The Wolf" which is quite different from what the band has been used to. The other eight songs on the record are a bit more standard for Billy Talent with the riffs and melodies we've come to know and love for almost 20 years. There are three memorable tracks that you can hum along to: "Hanging Out with All the Wrong People", "One Less Problem" and "End of Me" (featuring Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo). With Crisis of Faith, Billy Talent delivers a great album, an excellent entertainment that also offers its share of creativity. (February 2022)

½

     

 Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There

Black Country, New Road – Ants From Up There

One year after their debut album, For the First Time, the English band is already back with Ants From Up There. Black Country, New Road offers a mix of intimate post-rock and jazz-folk, with some Arcade Fire-like flights of fancy. Unfortunately, a few days before the launch of their new album, their leader, Isaac Wood, left the band, which put a bit of a damper on the launch. It's a shame because Ants From Up There has better compositions than the previous one, with a bit more nuance and several interesting creative touches. The result is an excellent record, very interesting and enjoyable throughout. (February 2022)

½

   

 Jean-Michel Blais – Aubades

Jean-Michel Blais – Aubades

With Aubades, Jean-Michel Blais makes the transition from pianist to composer for an ensemble. Inspired by the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, Blais offers symphonic music that goes far beyond his previous works paying tribute to the piano. Following the March 2020 lockdown, he isolated himself in an improvisational creation that resulted in over 500 different improvisations transformed into 11 compositions. For the orchestration, Blais was fortunate to collaborate with Brooklyn native Alex Weston, former assistant to Phillip Glass for over seven years. The work is performed by a 12-piece ensemble led by Nicolas Ellis, assistant to Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Metropolitan Orchestra. All of the music was recorded with close microphones, a practice that is more pop music-like and contrasts with the classical tradition by creating a more intimate, less distant atmosphere. This is undoubtedly Jean-Michel Blais' most accomplished album, one that is likely to become a reference in the neoclassical genre. (February 2022)

Arts & Crafts / SIX

     

 Geoffroy – Live Slow, Die Wise

Geoffroy – Live Slow, Die Wise

The Quebec singer-songwriter is back with his third album. Geoffroy had already released a first single at the beginning of last summer ("Cold World"), before returning in October with "Strangers on a Train" and "Life as It Comes". The album takes us into an introspective, more mature, and reflective world, inspired by artists like Ry Cooder, Paul Simon, Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley. On Live Slow, Die Wise Geoffroy's approach to writing is more contemplative and philosophical. Written and composed during the lockdown of 2020, the album took shape in early 2021 thanks to the co-production of Louis-Jean Cormier. Geoffroy returns to solo acoustic guitar, rediscovering the pleasure of organic, live instrumentation. Unfortunately, the album takes on the appearance of an EP with only seven tracks for a total of less than 26 minutes. (February 2022)

Music Videos: « Cold World » - « Strangers on a Train » - « Life as It Comes »

444% / SIX

 

 Korn – Requiem

Korn – Requiem

After 2019's The Nothing, which impressed with its relevance, the veterans of Korn return with Requiem. The short album of nine tracks totaling less than 33 minutes allows us to find back the band that made the best years of nu-metal in the 1990s. With almost 30 years of experience, Jonathan Davis and his band still know how to give us a hard time with their rough and heavy metal, right from the first moments with the excellent "Forgotten". But it is with "Hopeless and Beaten" that the heaviness reaches its peak. The album concludes with "Worst Is on Its Way" which is probably the track that comes closest to the band's past. Otherwise, Korn succeeds in taking us to unexplored territories until then and it is with great pleasure that we discover Requiem. (February 2022)

½

     

 Quatuor Saguenay – Mendelssohn / Ravel / Sollima

Quatuor Saguenay – Mendelssohn / Ravel / Sollima

This new album by the Saguenay Quartet (formerly the Alcan Quartet) features Marie Bégin as first violin for the first time. She brings a breath of fresh air to the Quartet and to works by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). In addition to Mendelssohn's "String Quartet in E minor, Op. 44 No. 2" and Ravel's "String Quartet in F major", we can discover "Federico II", the folk-inspired first movement of Giovanni Sollima's (1962-...) Viaggio in Italia cycle, a work dating from 2000. The Saguenay Quartet celebrates its 33rd anniversary in fine style with this new recording, which fits perfectly into the tradition of excellence of the band, having now some thirty recordings to its credit. This is an excellent chamber music record from this incomparable quartet from Quebec. (February 2022)

ATMA Classique

   

 Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa

Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa

Five years after Hot Thoughts, the Texan band is back with a new album. While the previous one was rather luminous, Lucifer on the Sofa is smokier and rawer, a little bit in the Texan way. It must be said that after several years in Los Angeles, Britt Daniel came back to Austin for this record, a return home in a way that surely influenced the sound atmosphere. After nearly 30 years in the business, Spoon still manages to break new ground, even though they open the album with a cover, Smog’s "Held", which they performed live as far back as the early 2000s. It's a perfect song to lay the groundwork for this rock 'n' roll album worthy of the greatest rock concerts. For the first time in a long time, the guitars are front and centre, as in "The Hardest Cut", a unique groove with influences from The Who, The Kinks and ZZ Top. As for "Wild", it can recall Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. With Lucifer on the Sofa, Spoon succeeds in bringing good old rock 'n' roll back to the forefront, for our greatest pleasure. (February 2022)

½

     

 Eddie Vedder – Earthling

Eddie Vedder – Earthling

Eleven years after Ukulele Songs, the Pearl Jam frontman is back with a second solo album. Earthling includes several energetic and very pleasant songs, starting with the excellent "Power of Right". The 13-track album turns out to be brighter than what Pearl Jam has been used to provide, even if some influences of the legendary band's sound can be recognized. "Invincible" may remind of Peter Gabriel in the opening, while "The Dark" seems to be inspired by the alternative rock sound of the 1980s. As for "Fallout Today", it features several rather rich layers of acoustic guitar. Eddie Vedder welcomes a few guest artists: Ringo Starr on drums on "Long Way", Elton John for a duet with him and playing piano on "Picture" and Stevie Wonder playing harp on "Try". The album is rather varied on the whole, maybe even a little too much, while the coherence is not always there between the tracks. But the main thing we remember about Earthling is the pleasure we get from most of the songs, since Eddie Vedder certainly presents the most joyful music of his career. (February 2022)

½

     

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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