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FEBRUARY 2016

 

Featured Review:  David Bowie    Featured New Artist:  Coasts

 

Valentine's Day:

Matt & Florence - Country Voice Love Songs - Bette Midler

 

February 1-7:

Michel Cusson - Dream Theater - Elton John - Modern Space - Panic! at the Disco -

Charlie Puth - Rihanna - Suede - tEDESHI tRUCKS bAND - Erik Truffaz

 

Reviews coming up next month:

sIMPLE pLAN - kANYE wEST - Santigold

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

 David Bowie – Blackstar

David Bowie Blackstar

Two days after the release of Blackstar on January 8, which was also the day of his 69th birthday, we learned the death of David Bowie, as the result of a long battle against cancer. He almost managed to conceal the last 18 months of his life, cloistered for recording what would be his last work of a long and successful career. For this new album, Bowie does not hesitate to experiment. There are a few references to the past, but he still manages to innovate. After all, he contributed directly to put forward several styles throughout his career, so it's not a small cancer that would prevent him to remain at the forefront! Two songs were already presented in 2014 to promote the collection Nothing Has Changed ("Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" and "Tis a Pity She Was a Whore"), and they have been revamped for Blackstar. Moreover, this new record contains two snapshot masterpieces with the 10-minute title song and "Lazarus" (in which he prepared his own death). Despite its 40 minutes total, with only 7 tracks, Blackstar feels a little like an unfinished work when it ends with "I Can’t Give Everything Away". Yet this is still his most accomplished album in 35 years. A great way to say goodbye!

Music Videos: « Blackstar » - « Lazarus »

Columbia / Sony

   

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Coasts – Coasts

CoastsCoasts

Coasts was formed in 2011 in Bristol, England. The quintet releases its first album in an indie rock / new wave style incorporating electronic elements. We can compare them more easily to American bands like Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors than to English bands. Otherwise, there is the Irish Two Door Cinema Club that can also come to mind with a rock sound generally danceable. The rhythms dictated by drums dominate the record with power. But also memorable melodies occupy a more than important place in the music of Coasts with catchy choruses that will be sang along with great pleasure at their concerts, surely huge ones soon. A simple listening of "Modern Love" quickly gives an overview of all their rallying potential. "Oceans", "You", "Your Soul" and "Tonight" are the other cornerstones of this 16-track CD. Some pieces come to slow down the beat on occasions but, despite its 60 minutes, the album maintains a certain consistency to the end. Some tracks in less would only have further tightened a little more this excellent album.

Music Videos: « A Rush of Blood » - « Modern Love » - « Oceans » - « You »

Capitol / Universal

½

   

 

Valentine's Day:

 

 Matt & Florence – Quiet Nights

Matt & FlorenceQuiet Nights

Matt Dusk and Florence K combine their voices to offer us an album of great sweetness. They have jazz arrangements with superb orchestrations reminiscent of crooner music from another era. The very symbiotic duo performs great standards like "Girl of Ipanema", "Ces mots stupides/Somethin' Stupid" and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life". Quiet Nights is undoubtedly an album of choice for Valentine's Day, a retro album yet but modern at the same time.

Music Video: « Ces mots stupides/Somethin’ Stupid »

Royal Crown / Productions J

½

   

 Country Voice Love Songs

Country Voice Love Songs

(review to come later)

Universal

   

 Bette Midler – A Gift of Love

Bette MidlerA Gift of Love

Bette Midler turns 70 by offering us a collection of her greatest love songs, from her debut in 1972. It includes 18 of her best ballads, although with some moments a little more energetic, like "Favorite Waste of Time" in opening. Among her greatest classics, one can obviously hear "The Rose", "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "From a Distance", not to mention the title song. Obviously, 75 minutes of love songs are not likely to reach everybody, but the biggest fans of Bette Midler will appreciate this important collection. (December 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

   

 

february 1-7:

 

 

Michel CussonSolo

One day on a beach of the US East Coast, Quebec composer and guitarist Michel Cusson saw a woman throw to the sea in panic all her family photos. She seemed to want to erase her past. Unable to let those memories disappear, Cusson recovered the photos and forgot them in a box for years. The day he decided to take a glance, these pictures became the inspiration for a personal musical project. Matured for ten years, Solo includes nine instrumental pieces influenced by this reconstructed story from altered images of an unknown life. Cusson offers an atmospheric and cinematic sound blending jazz and world music, with even some touches of Arabic music. The virtuoso guitarist manages to make us travel and he is varying the emotions transmitted from one song to another. Again, Michel Cusson managed to upset by his huge talent as a composer and musician.

SIX

½

 Dream Theater – The Astonishing (2 CD)

Dream TheaterThe Astonishing (2 CD)

The progressive metal band never does things by halves and so once again with The Astonishing, an album of 34 songs in two acts exceeding 130 minutes. It was perhaps their own way of celebrating their 30-year career. Guitarist John Petrucci has created a rock opera of science fiction that exceeds anything the band could offer previously in concept albums. He just invented a new country for which we can find the map in the booklet, a country that prohibits music created or played by humans, relying on a small group of rebels to perpetuate the tradition. For this grandiose album produced by Petrucci, the group was accompanied by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and three choirs, all directed by David Campbell (Beck's father). This is the singer James LaBrie that ensures the voices of the characters, while all the music seems headed by the keyboards, pianos and organs of Jordan Rudess. Obviously, the guitar playing of John Petrucci is still hallucinating, a musician who is considered by many as one of the best guitarists in the world. His performance in "A Better Life" is particularly remarkable, even if he plays a little fewer solos than usual on the album. Few songs stand out of the lot, but the album was initially designed to be listened to in full, an exercise rather challenging but greatly rewarding. We cannot say that The Astonishing rivals the greatest rock operas in history as Tommy, but it offers great moments of satisfaction and will certainly delight the many hardcore fans of the band.

Music Video: « The Gift of Music »

Roadrunner / Warner

½

     

 Elton John – Wonderful Crazy Night

Elton JohnWonderful Crazy Night

For his new album, the veteran English singer and pianist seems determined to have fun again, if we go by the title, the front cover and most of the lyrics by Bernie Taupin, his faithful collaborator. Elton John brings back his touring musicians for the first time since 2006 and it is once again T-Bone Burnett who produced it, the one who had worked on the duet album with Leon Russell, The Union, in 2010. His sound of the 1970s could well recover old fans, but unfortunately after the first songs, most compositions fall flat and give us very little fun in the end. One can find the CD nice to listen at different times, but there is little chance that we want to return to it again, which is the sign of an album that lacks inspiration and misses its target. Wonderful Crazy Night is therefore far from the album that would have marked a return to the genius of Elton John in the 1970s.

Music Video: « Blue Wonderful »

Virgin / Universal

½

   

 Modern Space – Before Sunrise

Modern SpaceBefore Sunrise

Modern Space is a Toronto quintet which is issuing a first EP of seven tracks totaling nearly 25 minutes. They offer us an energetic rock sound with greatly effective pop melodies. The group already has extensive stage experience with bands like The Vaccines and The Arkells and let’s bet that with songs as catchy and fun to sing they are very successful in concert. A first full-length album should certainly be eagerly awaited because we can certainly hear about them for a long time.

Music Video: « Let It Out »

Warner

     

 Panic! At the Disco – Death of a Bachelor

Panic! At the DiscoDeath of a Bachelor

The Las Vegas band is back with their fifth album. It offers an excellent mix of emo and pop rock with great theatricality. Death of a Bachelor represents the vision of singer Brendon Urie whose marriage in 2013 marked "the death of his bachelor life". Urie co-produced the almost concept album with Jake Sinclair (P!nk, Taylor Swift, Five Seconds of Summer). The group explores a more expansive sound with some hip hop elements, Queen-like exuberance, gospel inspirations ("Hallelujah"), and even phrasing like Sinatra (the ballad "Impossible Year" at the conclusion of the CD). A sampling of "Rock Lobster" of The B-52's comes to give life to the excellent "Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time". Death of a Bachelor is a grand production that pursues in the direction taken by the band in the last few years and still less and less punk rock.

Music Videos: « Hallelujah » - « Emperor’s New Clothes » - « Victorious » - « Death of a Bachelor »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

½

     

 Charlie Puth – Nine Track Mind

Charlie PuthNine Track Mind

The singer from New Jersey already had a huge success with "Marvin Gaye" (featuring Meghan Trainor), the first single from his first album. The CD opens strongly with the unforgettable "One Call Away", but unfortunately it goes out of steam very quickly with abuse of ballads and mid-tempo songs that become downright boring over the CD beforehand. It is therefore easy to limit ourselves to the first three tracks and drop everything after the excellent "Marvin Gaye", with Motown influences.

Music Videos: « Marvin Gaye » - « One Call Away »

Atlantic / Warner

   

 Rihanna – Anti

RihannaAnti

The work on Anti began more than a year ago, in the fall of 2014. Despite several singles that appeared in 2015 like "Bitch Better Have My Money", none of these hits is included on the album, probably because they did not fit in the special atmosphere of the record. Anti is indeed an album that is listening as a whole, rather than a bunch of hits. It includes a beautiful sensitivity, enhanced by the unique atmosphere of the CD. The focus is much more on the atmosphere than on beats and catchy pop melodies, as it was especially the case in the past for Rihanna. This therefore results in her most consistent and coherent album to date, not bad for a pop singer who is often overlooked. Here's what could prove to be one of the best pop / R&B albums of the year.

Def Jam / Universal

½

   

 Suede – Night Thoughts

SuedeNight Thoughts

The London band, which had taken a long break in the 2000s, is back with a second album in three years. On Night Thoughts, the leader Brett Anderson seems to reach a new level of maturity and the result is the band's best album in over 20 years. Both grand and intimate, the album placed on what the group has always done best, intelligent Brit pop music that requires a minimum of effort. Few tracks stand out of the lot, and we must focus on the whole. Night Thoughts is perhaps not a concept album, but the pieces are linked beautifully to form a whole that is important not to split. The album still reaches its climax at the fifth track with the epic "I Don’t Know How To Reach You", which exceeds 6 minutes. Here is a superb album for Suede, an album that is savored slowly for 48 minutes and then that makes us want to return to it.

Music Videos: « No Tomorrow » - « Pale Snow »

Warner

     

 

Tedeschi Trucks BandLet Me Get By

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is an American collective assembled around Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. They have set a particularly rich blues rock sound incorporating piano, organ and brass to the electric guitars. Susan's voice also adds a nice color to the set that will satisfy demanding fans of blues rock. The Tedeschi Trucks Band is very pleasant to listen to and it is certainly a good fun to discover on stage.

Swamp Family / Concord / Universal

   

 Erik Truffaz Quartet – Doni Doni

Erik Truffaz QuartetDoni Doni

The French trumpeter returns with a new album in quartet formula accompanied by Benoit Corboz, Marcello Giuliani and Arthur Hnatek (replacing Marc Erbetta on drums). Doni Doni offers jazz music very strongly inspired by African music. Malian singer Rokia Traoré sings on four songs, then you can hear the rapper Oxmo Puccino, also born in Mali, in conclusion of the album on "Le complément du verbe". The other half of the CD still remains instrumental with jazz music that occasionally flirts with instrumental pop. Doni Doni is nice to listen to from beginning to end.

Foufino / Parlophone / Warner

½

   

 

january (2016 ALBUMS):

 

 Arno – Human Incognito

ArnoHuman Incognito

The Belgian rocker is back with a new studio album, recorded between Brussels and Bristol, England with acclaimed producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels). PJ Harvey is also a name that comes to mind listening to Human Incognito, of course with Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. Arno returns to a basic sound centered on the guitar by dropping most of the synthesizers used previously. This is an excellent blend of experimental folk and rock 'n' roll that offers us the veteran, who has obviously lost none of his passion and his creative abilities. His hoarse voice delivers beautifully his inspired lyrics in French and English. Once again, this is an excellent record for Arno. (January 2016)

Naïve / SIX

½

 

 Daughter – Not to Disappear

DaughterNot to Disappear

Formed in London in 2010, the Daughter trio offers a rather intimate indie pop sound with moments of rock and electro. Not to Disappear is their second album after If You Leave in 2013. The lyrics by Elena Tonra often turn dark and sad as she deals with separation, brokenness, loneliness and disappointment. It is therefore not a sunny record! Otherwise, the whole album creates a very pleasant world that surrounds us quickly into its comforting atmosphere, carried on by the beautiful voice of Elena and effective guitars. Some lengths could be avoided, but it is still a successful second record for Daughter. (January 2016)

Glassnote / Universal

½

 

 Cécile Doo-Kingué – Anybody Listening Part 2: Dialogues

Cécile Doo-KinguéAnybody Listening Part 2: Dialogues

After the discreet and soft Monologues issued last year, the guitarist and singer returns with her second album of an exploratory trilogy of blues and roots music. This time, she plugs her electric guitar to offer us an energetic sound, which has groove, and is even sometimes hard. This is an excellent blend of blues and rock which admirably suits her warm voice. We can also hear some jazz, folk and soul influences. For the occasion, Cécile is accompanied by some of the best musicians and singers in Montreal. The result is a rich, unifying music, contemporary blues played with some skill. As a final point to the CD, Cécile even offers an impressive cover of Jimi Hendrix’ "Manic Depression". Again, Cécile Doo-Kingué demonstrates the breadth of her talent in this record that wants to be a perfect complement to Monologues. It remains to see how she will complete her trilogy… (January 2016)

CDK / SIX

½

 Aidan Knight – Each Other

Aidan KnightEach Other

With two critically acclaimed hits, "All Clear" and "The Arp", the third album of the singer from Victoria, British Columbia is already on a roll. Knight proposes a dense indie pop / indie rock sound that is reminiscent of Patrick Watson and Jeff Buckley. His lyrics have a mixture of melancholy, comfort and positivism. Although it lasts only 33 minutes, the 8-track album is thick enough to give us a lot for our money. Some additional tracks might have been too much. Here is a more than successful record for Aidan Knight. (January 2016)

Music Video: « All Clear »

Outside / SIX

½

   

 

january (2015 ALBUMS):

 

 Adele – 25

Adele25

The British singer is back with her third album, after having married and started a family. Yet her songs still treat complicated love affairs, as if she could not get influenced by her recent happiness. 25, which marks her passage of the mid-twenties, has 11 songs, especially heartbreaking ballads. The whole still remains based on her powerful voice, like the hit "Hello" that rocks us before waking us with a huge chorus. It is in these moments that the singer truly shines, but there is unfortunately a few that create such an effect. The exception would probably be "When We Were Young", a perfect song for the newlyweds. The main defect of 25, despite its impeccable production, is certainly that it offers only very few changes compared to 21. She will have to look a little further next time. (January 2016 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Hello »

XL Recordings

 

     

 Alessia Cara – Know-It-All

Alessia CaraKnow-It-All

Aged only 19, Alessia Caracciolo offers her first full-length album, following the success of "Here" and the mini-album Four Pink Walls. Moreover, we find this EP in the first half of the CD. The young woman from Brampton, Ontario offers pop music with a strong trend to R&B. Her compositions seem very mature for her age and her observations are correct. Although Alessia was assisted in the writing, we feel that with all the talent she has she could quickly write by herself. Here is an artist to watch closely over the coming years. The short album of 10 tracks and 35 minutes adds three tracks in its deluxe version for a total of 47 minutes. (January 2016 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Here »

Def Jam / Universal

½

   

 Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams

ColdplayA Head Full of Dreams

Just a year and a half after Ghost Stories, the British quartet is back with a new album. Much brighter than its predecessor, A Head Full of Dreams brings us in an atmosphere that exudes happiness, with a touch of danceable electro. It is certainly a good breath of fresh air, but the compositions are perhaps not up to the level expected. Some feel to have been heard before, plus these parallels that are too easy to do with U2, among others with guitars sounding like The Edge. Well, this is not the first time that this comparison is necessary, but when the compositions are also lacking creativity, it becomes rather annoying. The happy songs have on occasions disco beats and electronic arrangements. We can also hear renowned collaborators like Beyoncé, Tove Lo and Noel Gallagher that add a touch of renewal to the quartet which sometimes seems to recycle itself. Beyoncé for example is particularly effective for us to appreciate "Hymn For the Weekend". The other interesting songs are undoubtedly the title track which happens to us from the opening track and the first single, "Adventure of a Lifetime". For the rest, some interesting elements are able to capture our attention. (January 2016)

Music Video: « Adventure of a Lifetime »

Parlophone / Warner

     

 Enya – Dark Sky Island

EnyaDark Sky Island

The Irish singer releases her first album in 7 years with Dark Sky Island. Her eighth album has several career highlights of Celtic pop with classically inspired elements. In fact, maybe we find here the best assemblage of songs since her most successful albums of 25 years ago and more. For example, from the opening track, "The Humming", we know that we are dealing with a classic. Dark Sky Island marks the return of Loxian, a language created by lyricist Roma Ryan for the Amarantine album in 2005. It is used here in "The Forge of the Angels" and the excellent "The Loxian Gate". Although this new album borrows elements that have made her successful in the past, it is resolutely turned towards the future while benefiting from Enya’s experience. A very good record! (January 2016)

Music Video: « So I Could Find My Way »

Aigle / Warner

½

 

 Ellie Goulding – Delirium

Ellie GouldingDelirium

The British pop singer is back with her highly anticipated third album. After reaching the international star status with 20 million copies sold of her first two albums, Ellie Goulding is offering an album of a large scale. So she goes to a whole new level. Less atmospheric than her previous record, Delirium returns to catchy and danceable pop to reach a wide audience. Easier of access, the album quickly captures our attention. The few songs tending a bit more to R&B, as the first single, "On My Mind", have a first class production. With this new record, Ellie Goulding solidifies her place on the global pop scene. This is certainly her most complete and satisfying album to date. A deluxe version of Delirium adds six tracks to the 16 of the standard version. (January 2016)

Music Videos: « Love Me Like You Do » - « On My Mind »

Polydor / Universal

½

   

 CeeLo Green – Heart Blanche

CeeLo GreenHeart Blanche

The singer / rapper has his first solo album in five years, if we exclude his Christmas album released in 2012. Heart Blanche is a record with effective beats, filled with positivism. There is also a healthy dose of nostalgia, with many references to the past. When you start the CD, Green leaves us somewhat indifferent with an unnecessary intro and a pastiche of the 1980s with "Est. 1980s". It is not until the excellent "Mother May I" that we can really adhere to the album that has subsequently several pleasant songs ("Tonight", "Sign of the Times", "Music to My Soul", etc.). He paid tribute to Robin Williams and other deceased comedians in the song simply entitled "Robin Williams". A little filling in the last tracks causes Heart Blanche to certainly not go down in history, but CeeLo Green still offers some very good songs, worthy of his vast talent. (January 2016)

Music Video: « Music to My Soul »

Atlantic / Warner

   

 Grimes – Art Angels

GrimesArt Angels

After the excellent album Visions in 2012, the Vancouver artist originally from Montreal moved to Los Angeles for the preparation of Art Angels. Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) again offers creative electronic music, sometimes atmospheric and often danceable. In fact, on Art Angels, it takes a tangent more pop than ever with many upbeat songs with memorable melodies. Her sound becomes richer and it will certainly seek the maximum of your speakers. There is only her highest pitched voice that contrasts somewhat with the whole, but we manage to get used to it pretty quickly anyway as part of her universe. The creativity is perhaps not at the same level as on Visions, but Grimes managed to offer a few gems, the most interesting being unquestionably "Kill V. Maim" that is nicely out from the rest of the album. So this is again an excellent record for this unique Canadian artist, certainly one that will allow her to really explode internationally. (January 2016)

½

   

 Hedley – Hello

HedleyHello

The Vancouver quartet led by the charismatic Jacob Hoggard is back with Hello, already their sixth studio album since their debut in 2005 (their eighth in total). More pop than ever, Hello is literally carried by its title track (nothing to do with the most recent hit by Adele). For the rest, it is rather common pop rock music which adds a nice touch of electro. Interesting melodies will make you sing while some effective beats will make you tap your feet. Without being of an overflowing creativity, the group is obviously trying to move forward by changing its style. Hello is perhaps not amazing, but it is still pleasant to hear. (January 2016)

Music Videos: « Lost in Translation » - « Hello »

Capitol / Universal

   

 Chris Isaak – First Comes the Night

Chris IsaakFirst Comes the Night

First Comes the Night is the 13th album in the career of Chris Isaak. Although he has an album of original songs, Isaak did what he does best, that is to say he was greatly inspired by the 1950s and 1960s for a pop rock sound from another era. Otherwise, it is in this context that he is doing best since he manages to avoid clichés and he can be taken seriously. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Paul Worley (Dixie Chicks, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride), Dave Cobb and Mark Needham, First Comes the Night has important country influences on numerous occasions. The whole still remains rooted in a pop rock music of the past, even if it doesn't revolutionize anything, but it remains true to the style of Chris Isaak. (January 2016)

Wicked Game / Vanguard / Concord

   

 Inna Modja – Motel Bamako

Inna ModjaMotel Bamako

The singer and model from Mali who now lives in Paris comes to us with a new album heavily influenced by jihadist terror that struck her country. Indeed, the invasion of Timbuktu and the last hostage in Bamako by al-Qaida affiliation shall ensure that Motel Bamako stopped breathing the joy of life of her previous album, Love Revolution. It is far from the pop ditty of "French Cancan" that allowed her to get a large success. Rather, it is dark soul music that offers us Inna Modja, but music that loses nothing of its creativity, while it integrates various influences (hip hop, rock, African rhythms and electronic loops). She is surrounded by carefully chosen collaborators for three duos: Oxmo Puccino, Oumou Sangaré and Baloji. Motel Bamako is an excellent record by Inna Modja, a major album to raise awareness of the situation of terror that reigns in Mali. (January 2016)

Music Video: « Tombouctou »

Warner

½

     

 OMI – Me 4 U

OMIMe 4 U

Jamaican Omar Samuel Pasley (aka OMI) offered us the hit of the summer 2015 with "Cheerleader", before returning with another catchy one, "Hula Hoop". His first album has a nice mix of danceable pop and reggae, always in simplicity. Among the collaborations on the album, note particularly the one by dancehall singer Busy Signal for the song "Color of My Lips", which takes a good dose of adrenaline. The entire CD is listening quite well, even if we feel it was launched a little quickly to take advantage of the excitement created by "Cheerleader". This is ultimately a light but highly entertaining album, a perfect album for a sunshine getaway, a drink in hand. (January 2016)

Music Videos: « Cheerleader » - « Hula Hoop »

Ultra / Sony

   

 One Direction – Made in the A.M.

One DirectionMade in the A.M.

Since their debut in 2011, the young English band aligns albums with regularity, one per year. So, One Direction are already issuing their fifth record with Made in the A.M., their first as a quartet following the departure of Zayn Malik. Otherwise, it's about the only change brought by this new album, as the band keeps the same formula with danceable pop songs, emotional mid-tempo pieces and ballads. Production remains of very high quality, with the same team of Julian Bunetta and John Ryan to production. The band borrows on occasion to artists of the past like "What a Feeling" that appears to contain a part of Fleetwood Mac’s "Dreams" and "Never Enough" that reminds of Def Leppard to the chorus. Even the opening track, "Hey Angel", is quickly immersing us in The Verve’s "Bittersweet Symphony". After a few ballads frankly boring, we can still conclude that One Direction has good pop music of the 2010s. Radios will delight of it, but especially their fans... (January 2016)

Music Videos: « Drag Me Down » - « Perfect »

Syco / Columbia / Sony

   

 Alyssa Reid – Phoenix

Alyssa ReidPhoenix

The young pop singer from Edmonton, Alberta is back with her third album. What surprises early on Phoenix, is the abuse of piano ballads. Even if they allow well to highlight the powerful voice of Alyssa, they make us hope for a real start soon, but it will never come. In addition, they are heavy and dark ballads for Alyssa Reid, which we can now certainly nickname the Canadian Adele. The 10-track album of 36 minutes can hardly be considered as a full-length album if we consider that the latter two songs are the radio versions of "Tomorrow" and "Dangerous" included earlier on the CD. Phoenix should rather be seen as an upgraded EP. But since the ballads quickly become boring, consider this enough for this time. Just hope Alyssa finds back her joy of living for the next album, just to give us a smile again. (January 2016)

Music Video: « Dangerous »

Wax / Universal

½

   

 Seal – 7

Seal7

After the cover album Soul 2 released in 2012, the British singer returns with a record of original songs. On 7, Seal shows a wide range of soul styles, ranging from languid ballads to pop songs a little more danceable. The best moments include "Life on the Dancefloor" and "Do You Ever", but above all, the powerful "Padded Cell" which is definitely the highlight of this nearly 50-minute CD. For the rest, it doesn’t bring down any barriers and it should not be too attractive to new fans. Otherwise, his longtime female fans will not be too disoriented. An honest album, nothing more. (January 2016)

Reprise / Warner

 

 Straight No Chaser – The New Old Fashioned

Straight No ChaserThe New Old Fashioned

On their fifth album, the American vocal group mainly presents contemporary pop hits, while retaining some classics from the past. You can hear hits like The Weeknd’s "Can’t Feel My Face", Charlie Puth’s "Marvin Gaye", Meghan Trainor’s "All About That Bass (No Tenors)» and Hozier’s "Take Me to Church", without forgetting "Beggin'/Counting Stars", "Red" and "Shup Up and Dance". Among the classics from another era, there are "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay/Proud Mary", Bob Dylan’s "Make You Feel My Love" and the surprising Radiohead’s "Creep". The 13-track album pleasantly ends with a medley of almost 6 minutes of music from movies, including James Bond. The a cappella interpretations of Straight No Chaser again demonstrate all their vocal talent. They allow people to rediscover songs that were often heard, and even to appreciate their melodic quality. (January 2016)

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 The Wainwright Sisters – Songs in the Dark

The Wainwright SistersSongs in the Dark

The half-sisters Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche are offering for the first time a duet album. They play folk music that is not without reminding us that of Martha’s mother and aunt, the sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle, released recently. Otherwise, this is lullabies, often old. Some are a family story with compositions by Loudon Wainwright, their father, Kate McGarrigle, Martha’s mother, and Terre Roche, the sister of Lucy's mother, Suzzy, both members of The Roches trio with their other sister Maggy. Loudon and Terre also have a joint composition, "Screaming Issue". Among other tracks, there are some of Paul Simon, Townes Van Zandt, Richard Thompson and Irving Berlin. There are 16 in all that will surely rock you with their sweetness. (January 2016)

PIAS

½

   

 

gift ideas:

 

 Blue Rodeo – Live at Massey Hall

Blue Rodeo Live at Massey Hall

The Toronto band celebrates 30 years of career this year and they offer us a very solid live album recorded at Massey Hall, a mythical theater in Toronto. The band offers us no less than 14 of their best compositions to date, filling at the same time the entire CD. Greg Keelor, Jim Cuddy and company offer us among others the inevitable "Lost Together", "5 Days in May", "After the Rain" and many more. Blue Rodeo fans will get thrilled about it. (November 2015)

Warner

½

   

Céu – Ao Vivo

CéuAo Vivo

To celebrate her 10-year career, the Brazilian singer performed before an enthusiastic crowd in her home district of Vila Madalena in Sao Paulo. The more than 66-minute album combines the best of her three albums in an intimate atmosphere where the crowd seemed to be part of the show. We can hear some quite different versions of the original, more acoustic or with other influences of the world. Céu goes briskly between different rhythms: bossa nova, reggae, rock, etc. Note her beautiful performance of Bob Marley’s "Concrete Jungle". (November 2015)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

 

 Tracy Chapman – Greatest Hits

Tracy ChapmanGreatest Hits

Since her stunning debut in 1988, the protest folk singer Tracy Chapman had never released a real collection of her greatest hits. She does it with this collection of 18 tracks spanning her entire career. Obviously included are the inevitable "Fast Car", "Talkin' Bout a Revolution", "Telling Stories" and "Give Me One Reason", but one can also hear her version of "Stand by Me" recorded in 2015 on The Late Show With David Letterman. Two major lacks however spoil our enjoyment: the songs are not presented in chronological order and the booklet contains no biographical details about this unique singer. These are two important elements that could have made this an essential collection. (November 2015)

Music Videos: « Fast Car » - « Talkin’ Bout a Revolution » - « Give Me One Reason » - « Stand by Me »

Elektra / Warner

½

   

 Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (2015 Remaster)

Fleetwood MacTusk (2015 Remaster)

After the classic Rumours in 1977, Fleetwood Mac returned two years later with the ambitious project of a 20-track double album. The group was then completely defeated and the result was an album that may appear inconsistent at first, but rather proves to be great when we pay attention to it. You obviously have to put it in context, in the wake of the megahit of Rumours. Not only Tusk has not been as successful, but it was literally a flop, with only two songs that reached the top 10 of the charts including the excellent "Sara" from Stevie Nicks. On Tusk, Lindsey Buckingham takes control of writing, leaving little to Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. The result is often an intimate album with long introspective ballads. The few times a little more rock 'n' roll come only to change the general atmosphere. Ultimately, the stage was set for a huge commercial failure, but the quality of the compositions offered here impresses after a few listens. The atmosphere of the CD is exciting and takes possession of our whole body at some point. Obviously, this is not very surprising that fans of Rumours were not convinced by Tusk as it is a completely different album that was done for a whole new audience. Tusk is certainly an ambitious plan, but it is extremely rewarding and it is one of the best releases of 1979.

Music Video: « Sara »

Warner

     

 David Guetta – Listen Again

David GuettaListen Again

One year after Listen containing the hits "Dangerous" and "Lovers on the Sun", David Guetta gives an enhanced version of the album. In addition to the 14 tracks released on the original CD, you can hear nothing less than eight bonus songs, including the new hit with Sia and Fetty Wap, "Bang My Head", in two versions. A second CD entitled Listenin' includes 23 rare pieces in a continuous version of 56 minutes. A very nice addition to the Listen album for which you can read the review here. (November 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

½

     

 Led Zeppelin – Presence (2015 Remastered Version)

Led Zeppelin Presence (2015 Remastered Version)

Jimmy Page pursues his work of remastering of the Led Zeppelin albums with Presence originally issued in 1976. Carried by the hit "Nobody's Fault But Mine", the album contains high quality songs. Otherwise, the record could not match in any way their first six records. Page also remastered the last two albums from the band: In Through the Out Door (1979) and the album of rarities Coda (1982). (November 2015)

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Alain Lefèvre – RACHMANINOV - HAYDN - RAVEL

Alain LefèvreRACHMANINOV - HAYDN - RAVEL

After an album of original music, the world famous pianist is back in classical music. For the occasion, he faces the works of Rachmaninov, Haydn and Ravel. First, he performs Sergei Rachmaninov’s "Piano Sonata no. 2 in B-flat minor, op. 36". Otherwise, when it was shortened of 6 minutes by Rachmaninov himself in 1931, it is rather the version of Vladimir Horowitz of 1940 that Alain Lefèvre performs here, echoing the essence of the original work. He then executes Joseph Haydn’s "Sonata in F major, no. 38, Hob. XVI: 23", composed in 1773. Then he concludes with Maurice Ravel’s "La Valse". As usual, Lefèvre retains absolute control of his instrument and manages to make us rediscover these works of another era. (November 2015)

Analekta

 

 Natalie Merchant – Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings

Natalie MerchantParadise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings

Twenty years after her first solo album, Tigerlily, the former 10,000 Maniacs offers a reinterpretation of this classic. The same thing always appears at this point: why would you rework an album that has already made history anyway? It’s that Natalie felt that her songs had evolved over the years and she could give them a second life, a different feeling. The stunning string arrangements indeed give new life to the 11 songs and her performance goes beyond the original version, with a much deeper and richer voice. The order of songs is completely different, "Wonder" being finally at the end of the CD. Purists will certainly think that no work was needed on these songs already unavoidable and that the performer might well have simply tweaking them in concert. This is probably true, but still, Natalie Merchant realizes a strong work reinterpretation, for an album of very high quality. A great way to rediscover these beautiful songs! (November 2015)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

   

Mika - L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

Mika - l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

During the tour for the No Place in Heaven album, Mika gave a concert accompanied by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal). It is this symphony recording that is offered here. We quickly find that the melodic pop music of Mika adapts beautifully to symphonic arrangements and the result is a beautiful blend perfectly showcasing the songs of the artist. The orchestra is very present throughout the record, but it never overshadows the singer's unique voice. Here is a great way to rediscover the greatest hits of Mika. (November 2015)

Republic / Universal

 

 Orchestre symphonique de Montréal – Intégrale des concertos pour violon de Saint-Saëns

Montreal Symphony OrchestraComplete Violin Concertos of Saint-Saëns

On this new album by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra with Kent Nagano, these are the violin concertos by Camille Saint-Saëns that are honored. Accompanied by violinist Andrew Wan, the orchestra therefore performs the complete violin concertos of the great French composer. The three concertos were recorded during concerts at the Maison symphonique in Montreal in November 2014. Simultaneously with this album, the orchestra issues another CD featuring Saint-Saëns, Symphony and new works for organ and orchestra, which contains the "Symphony No. 3 in C minor, op. 78, Organ Symphony" by Saint-Saëns, in addition to works by Samy Moussa and Kaija Saariaho. This other record comes from inaugural concerts of the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique in May and June 2014. (November 2015)

Analekta

 

 Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill (2015 Reissue)

Alanis MorissetteJagged Little Pill (2015 Reissue)

In addition to being the best album of 1995, having sold millions of copies worldwide, Jagged Little Pill was a milestone album for Alanis since she denied her previous records (tasteless dance pop albums) and tried unsuccessfully to return later with albums of such great quality (and as popular). Twenty years later, here is a reissue of this classic of Canadian pop rock. One can hear again with pleasure the essential hits "Hand in My Pocket", "You Oughta Know", "You Learn", "Head Over Feet", "Ironic", etc. (November 2015)

Music Videos: « Hand in My Pocket » - « You Oughta Know » - « Head Over Feet » - « Ironic »

Maverick / Reprise / Warner

   

 Ed Sheeran – 5 (5 CD)

Ed Sheeran5 (5 CD)

As a gift to his fans, the British singer offers a box set of five EPs released between 2009 and 2011, before he became the superstar we know today. It includes the following CDs: You Need Me EP, Live at the Bedford EP, Loose Change EP, Songs I Wrote With Amy EP, and No. 5 Collaborations Project EP. The CD Songs I Wrote With Amy EP contains songs written in collaboration with Amy Wadge, while No. 5 Collaborations Project EP contains 8 songs with various collaborators. These five EPs certainly do not enjoy the large-scale production of his next two albums. But, they will surely still be interesting for his fans. (November 2015)

Gingerbread Man / Asylum / Atlantic / Warner

   

 Son Volt – Trace (20th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD)

Son VoltTrace (20th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD)

Following the disintegration of Uncle Tupelo, most of the band members have followed Jeff Tweedy in Wilco. The other founding member, Jay Farrar, has meanwhile created Son Volt, a fairly creative country rock group. Their first album, Trace, was released in fall 1995 and has become a classic in the genre. It was an almost perfect fusion between powerful guitars and soft acoustic guitar, a true picture of the two personalities of Farrar. Twenty years later, here is a reissue of the album with eight demos and a full bonus CD recorded live in February 1996. The booklet shows meanwhile a good portrait of the album. (November 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

   

 Tina Turner – Private Dancer (30th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD)

Tina TurnerPrivate Dancer (30th Anniversary Edition) (2 CD)

In 1984, Tina Turner did one of the greatest comebacks in the history of pop music after experiencing success a few decades earlier in duet with her husband Ike. Private Dancer is one of the most popular albums of the year and her greatest hits are found on it: "What's Love Got To Do With It", "Better Be Good To Me" and the title track, in addition to her version of The Beatles’ "Help". This 30th anniversary edition includes a second CD containing 15 tracks. This is largely remix songs and rare or unreleased recordings. We can also hear "Ball of Confusion" with B.E.F. released in 1982, as well as the successful "We Don’t Need Another Hero" from the movie Thunderdome and "It's Only Love", a duet with Bryan Adams. For pop rock at its best and a ton of memories, this new edition of Private Dancer is a must. (November 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

 

 Hamilton: An American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (2 CD)

Hamilton: An American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) (2 CD)

Inspired by the biography by Ron Chernow, this Broadway musical show introduces the history of one of the fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton. What is special is that it is essentially hip hop music that accompanies this story of the 18th century, plus a multiethnic group of actors-singers led by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The two CDs have a mixed music integrating rap, R&B, pop, and a more classic Broadway musical show music. Although there are interesting times, this very long album is mainly addressed to those who have had the chance to attend this blockbuster of more than two hours. (November 2015)

Atlantic / Warner

   

I Need a Dodge! Joe Strummer on the Run (DVD)

I Need a Dodge! Joe Strummer on the Run (DVD)

This documentary by Nick Hall presents the exodus of Joe Strummer in Spain in 1985-86 after having abandoned his band, The Clash Mark II. Seeing that this new version of The Clash after having fired Mick Jones was about to implode, Strummer ran away without leaving an address. At Granada, he was warmly welcomed by bands like 091 and Radio Fortuna that he had the opportunity to advise about their music and studio work. Desperately looking for a Barreiros car, a European edition of the Dodge Dart, he was finally able to acquire one. Otherwise, when he went to London for the birth of his daughter Lola, he completely forgot where he had left it and it was finally never found. The documentary tries in part to discover where this car was found in 1986. It is a documentary in two parts: the search for a car in parallel with the Joe Strummer personal search to find a meaning to his life. Mostly in Spanish with interviews with members of 091 and Radio Fortuna, the documentary presents a rather obscure part of the career and life of Joe Strummer. In addition to the DVD, the package includes an audio cassette of an interview to the Spanish radio. (November 2015)

Cadiz / MVD

½

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

Argentina Chill Out Social Club – 80’s Experience

Argentina Chill Out Social Club – 80’s Experience

Argentina Chill Out Social Club is a project created to remake different classics of the most popular music in history. On this first of six CDs, 12 classics of the 1980s (or almost) are played in an electro jazz style with latin and bossa nova accents. The really nice voice of Analiah Robledo sings hits of Madonna (« La Isla Bonita »), AC/DC and KISS (« You Shook Me All Night Long/Rock and Roll All Night »), Michael Jackson (« Billie Jean », « Dangerous »), Bon Jovi (« Never Say Goodbye »), Metallica (« Nothing Else Matters »), Guns N’ Roses (« Sweet Child O’ Mine »), Queen (« Somebody To Love »), U2 (« Where the Streets Have No Name »), etc. In addition to this important album for the 1980s, the collection includes 5 tribute albums in the same style: Beatles, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, U2 and Sting. (August 2015)

Estudios Moi / Musik2Musik

½

 Jeff Beck – Live+

Jeff BeckLive+

Recorded in August 2014, Live+ is not really a summary of the career of Jeff Beck because it ignores much of his best songs instead focusing on having fun with the guitar in different styles. For example, he reworks The Beatles’ "A Day in the Life" in fusion jazz before concluding with some harder blues moments. We can hear personal versions of Stevie Wonder’s "Superstition", Jimi Hendrix’ "Little Wing" and "Danny Boy". In addition to the 14 tracks recorded in concert, we can discover two new studio songs: "Tribal" and a cover of "My White Tiled Floor". Even if the record seems quite uneven, it presents a Jeff Beck who has lost none of his skill on the guitar. (June 2015)

Deuce / Rhino / Warner

   

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

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

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

Acrobat / MVD

 Robin Gibb – Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970 (3 CD)

Robin Gibb – Saved by the Bell: The Collected Works of Robin Gibb 1968-1970 (3 CD)

One of the Gibb brothers who were successful in the 1960s in the Bee Gees, Robin embarked on a brief solo career in 1968 and produced the album Robin’s Reign. In 1970, he returned to the band, but he still had time to record many songs. This triple album presents first Robin’s Reign, but enhanced by 9 additional songs, some left out for the album, others that are songs of the record in mono versions, etc. The second CD offers the Sing Slowly Sisters recording sessions, an album that was never released after the reunion with the Bee Gees. Finally, the third CD features 23 rarities: demo versions, recordings at the BBC, two Italian versions, etc. Producer Andrew Sandoval had already started to work on assembling Gibb’s solo works before his death in 2012 and he resumed after. It is pop orchestral music, usually mild and often captivating. These three CD therefore present a comprehensive overview of what Robin Gibb recorded during his short break off the Bee Gees. (June 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

   

 Jethro Tull – Minstrel in the Gallery: 40th Anniversary Edition

Jethro TullMinstrel in the Gallery: 40th Anniversary Edition

After having released two progressive rock classics in 1971 and 1972 with Aqualung and Thick as a Brick, the British band Jethro Tull has experienced a slight decline of creativity, the time of two albums. But, it was to better come back in 1975 with Minstrel in the Gallery, recorded in Monaco. Forty years later, here is a re-issue of the original album newly remixed by Steven Wilson. It was certainly one of their most creative and elaborate albums, most of all thanks to the song in 5 parts totaling 17 minutes "Baker St. Muse". Despite many British folk elements, the album remains progressive rock with a good deal of hard rock. This new edition offers as bonus a very detailed 23-page booklet that tells in detail the story of the album. Even if we do not find any additional songs compared to the original, this 40th anniversary edition of Minstrel in the Gallery may be quite exciting for the biggest fans of the band. (June 2015)

Chrysalis / Warner

   

 Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti: 40th Anniversary Edition (3 CD)

Led ZeppelinPhysical Graffiti: 40th Anniversary Edition (3 CD)

Forty years after its original release, the sixth album by Led Zeppelin, a double album, is reissued and is offered to us again. It has been digitally remastered by Jimmy Page himself. We can rediscover with great pleasure the classics "The Rover", "Trampled Under Foot", "Kashmir", "Down by the Seaside", "Boogie With Stu", and so on. Physical Graffiti is considered by many as one of the most important double albums in rock history, despite some disparities unworthy of their previous material. In addition to the remastered original album on two CDs, one can hear a third CD with 7 songs including unfinished versions, demos and alternative versions of the original record tracks. (June 2015)

Atlantic / Warner

   

 Brian Wilson – Brian Wilson (1988) (2015 Reissue)

Brian WilsonBrian Wilson (1988) (2015 Reissue)

After more than 25 years of success with the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson finally released his first solo album. It created a lot of waves, but not necessarily because of its music. Yet we can find the elements that contributed to his legend as incomparable melodies and dense symphonic orchestrations. Otherwise, it seems to miss the spark that marked his band in the 1960s. In addition, very synthetic arrangements and overflowing echoing percussion certainly not restore the prestige of this music genius. The reason why the album has passed to history thus remains only that it was the first solo album by one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. On this reissue, we can hear 11 additional tracks (demos and alternative versions), as well as interview excerpts about the songs "Love and Mercy", the 8-minute suite "Rio Grande" and "The Source". There is also a detailed 23-page booklet. (June 2015)

Rhino / Warner

   

 Guitar Heroes

Guitar Heroes

The Guitar Heroes album was recorded on July 12, 2013 at Vancouver Island MusicFest by four masters of the Telecaster guitar: James Burton, Albert Lee, Amos Garrett and David Wilcox. This memorable evening was immortalized as is on record, without any editing or reworking. The four living legends play great classics of blues and rockabilly as "That's All Right (Mama)", "Susie Q", "Sleep Walk" and "Flip, Flop and Fly". A must for every guitar fan! (June 2015)

Stony Plain / SIX

½

   

 Sounds of the 80s

Sounds of the 80s

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

Warner

½

 

 R.E.M. – R.E.M. by MTV (DVD & Blu-Ray)

R.E.M.R.E.M. by MTV (DVD & Blu-Ray)

R.E.M. and MTV started together in 1981. Since then, the music TV station has documented just about everything about the band, whether their music and their stories, until their decision to disband in 2011. This film shows the real-time parallel runs of the two institutions by archive documents. We thus find the documentary R.E.M. From Beginning To End (for the first time available on Blu-Ray), to which were added five deleted scenes and movie trailers. One can also rediscover five concert performances pulled from the REMTV box set. Here is a great way to make an overview of the band's career. (June 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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