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JULY 2015

 

Featured Review:  Mika    Featured New Artist:  Jamie XX

 

July 3-7 (more to come):

Stephen Barry Band - Thomas Carbou - The Fall - Halie Loren -

Muse - Of Monsters and Men - Simply Red - Skrillex & Diplo

 

Canada Day Special Edition - Father's Day Special Edition - June 8-15 - June 1-7

 

Reviews coming up next month:

Pitbull - Adam Lambert - Neil Young - Kacey Musgraves - Nate Ruess

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

       

 

         

         

         

 

       

     

 

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Mika – No Place in Heaven

MikaNo Place in Heaven

Now aged in his thirties, Mika releases his first album since he was a judge in The Voice in France. He therefore necessarily matured since the disappointing album The Origin of Love in 2012. And this is quickly perceived listening to No Place in Heaven which appears as a mature pop album. Otherwise, Mika has lost none of his unforgettable melodies, his theatricality and his touch of madness. His music is catchy pop coating often personal lyrics, in which he takes a stand and settles accounts with his past, including with his father in the title song and with his mother in "All She Wants". Mika certainly presents a mature album, but an album that remains musically rich and extremely entertaining to the end. In fact, the artist has more than ever the secret of creating quality pop music.

Music Videos: « Boum Boum Boum » - « Talk About You » - « Good Guys »

Republic / Universal

½

     

     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

Jamie XX – In Colour

Jamie XXIn Colour

It’s been a long time since Jamie Smith of The XX worked in parallel of his band by remixing various popular songs, including Adele, and presenting compositions on the web. But now he finally issues his first album as Jamie XX. The electronics specialist certainly abuses of synthesizers on In Colour, but his boundless creativity makes us quickly forget it. The opening track, "Gosh", may leave more than one perplexed. Otherwise, once the slow rhythms take possession of us from the second track, we cannot give it up. This is high-flying hypnotism! The instrumental "Obvs" is certainly the unavoidable masterpiece of the album, while the single "Loud Places" (starring Romy found also on "SeeSaw") quickly captures our attention and that we cannot discard it. The pace steadily increases until the end with more dancing pieces on a background of drum 'n' bass. In fact, it is most of the album that lives in us when it comes to the end. Here's a great album, danceable but gently, which has no equal in the electro style.

Music Video: « Loud Places »

Young Turks / XL / Beggars

   

 

July 3-7 (to come):

 

 

Canada Day Special Edition:

 

 Barenaked Ladies – Silverball

Barenaked LadiesSilverball

After more than 25 years of career, the Ontario band is still very present in the Canadian rock landscape. Silverball is their third album without Steven Page, and it keeps going in the same direction as the previous two. There are indeed very effective pop rock tunes, many of which are unforgettable. Although we still find alternative folk influences, the whole is keeping its pop trend remaining extremely accessible. "Say What You Want" has a little something of R.E.M., while other times are reminiscent of the 1970s with traces of ELO and the Beach Boys. Note that Silverball also marks the return of Kevin Hearn, who won his fight against cancer a few years ago. A song is also dedicated to him, "Tired of Fighting with You". The group seems to be in a better shape than ever on this 12th album, which rather proves to be pleasant to listen to the end.

Raisin' / Warner

½

   

 Good Lovelies – Burn the Plan

Good LoveliesBurn the Plan

The Good Lovelies are a Toronto female trio of folk music and beautiful vocal melodies on high quality songs. This new album starts strongly with the surprising "In the Morning", marked of an electronic touch, and the excellent "Waiting For You". The musicians who accompany the trio include Les Cooper on guitar and mandolin (which also produced and mixed the album) and Luke Doucet (Whitehorse) on electric guitar for two tracks. Burn the Plan is definitely an excellent album by the Good Lovelies, a record that will please all melodic folk enthusiasts.

Six Shooter / SIX

½

   

 Ben Kunder – Golden

Ben KunderGolden

After a ten year career, the Canadian songwriter and singer finally releases his first solo album, Golden. He was accompanied for the occasion by some collaborators, including Brian Murphy (Alvvays), three members of Ladies of the Canyon and Rich Knox (Danko Jones). Produced by John Dinsmore (Sarah Harmer, Kathleen Edwards, Elliott Brood), the album presents a folk rock sound with very good melodies and some country accents.

 Natalie MacMaster + Donnell Leahy – One

Natalie MacMaster + Donnell Leahy – One

Acclaimed worldwide Cape Breton violinist, Natalie MacMaster has sold over 200,000 albums in her career. As for Donnell Leahy, he is also a violinist and music director of the Celtic band Leahy. They met as teenagers, then each had their careers before reuniting and marrying. Oddly, One is their first joint album, from a lucky meeting with legendary producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, KISS, Deep Purple) who recruited Justin Cortelyou (Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Alan Jackson) as co-producer. The duo offers instrumental Celtic rock music highlighting their virtuosity on the violin. They also play a number of traditional tunes for a happy mix between music of the past and contemporary music. One is a unique violin album.

Linus / eOne / SIX

 

 Philip Sayce – Influence

Philip SayceInfluence

Philip Sayce is perhaps born in Wales, but it is Canada that saw him growing up from the age of two. While he released a few albums, none of them was available in Canada. With Influence, his first album on a major label, he can finally make his music known at home. Sayce gives us a blues rock sound strongly influenced of Stevie Ray Vaughan, but especially Jimi Hendrix, his idol. Among the 13 tracks offered on Influence, seven are covers of classics like "Evil Woman" and "On the Road Again". This is an energetic and very entertaining album that is offering us Philip Sayce with Influence, an album that finds its roots directly into the 1970s.

Warner

½

 

 Scarlett Jane – Scarlett Jane

Scarlett JaneScarlett Jane

The Toronto duo is formed of Andrea Ramolo and Cindy Doire. Established in 2012, Scarlett Jane offer us their second album in the pop folk style, with some country influences. This self-titled album was written in Cuba during a stay devoted to musical creation in 2013. It contains short stories full of evocative details that demonstrate good maturity compared to their first record. Their vocal harmonies remain at the limits of perfection, so the two artists seem made to perform together. Note also their interpretation of a beautiful song in French, "Cours". Here is an excellent album that is proposed to us by this fusion duo...

Warner

½

 

 SC Mira – Waiting Room Baby

SC MiraWaiting Room Baby

SC Mira is an indie rock band from Winnipeg led by singer, guitarist and songwriter Sadye Cage. Waiting Room Baby is the first EP for them and it includes six energetic tracks with catchy melodies and some folk influences. Buck 65 collaborates to one of them, "Motel Honey". Although the CD is much too short to explore the full potential of Sadye Cage and her band, the fact remains that they are much solid compositions that are offered to us here. This will be more than enough to create great expectations for the future.

Pipe & Hat / Maple

½

 Sea Perry – Do What You Do

Sea PerryDo What You Do

Sea Perry is a pop rock band from Sudbury, Ontario which has some folk influences. Do What You Do was recorded in Toronto with producer Michael Jack (Rush, Bono, Nelly Furtado). We can find downright catchy choruses to sing along and loudly. What really differentiates Sea Perry is its positivism present in practically each of the 10 songs of the album, full of this need of perseverance and enjoying life. Tracks like "Molly's Shoes", "Burning California", "Lion" and the title track are likely to remain in mind for long. Sea Perry can remind us of the Barenaked Ladies, but in a revamped version of 20 years younger. Here is a very pleasant album to listen to.

½

 Close Talker – Flux

Close TalkerFlux (2014)

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

Nevado / SIX

½

 Tom Cochrane – Take It Home

Tom CochraneTake It Home

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

Music Video: « Sunday Afternoon Hang »

Sky Is Falling / Universal

   

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

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

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

Cash Money / Universal

½

 Fortunate Ones – The Bliss

Fortunate OnesThe Bliss

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

Music Video: « The Bliss »

Old Farm Pony

 

 Diana Krall – Wallflower

Diana KrallWallflower

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

Verve / Universal

 

 Lisa Leblanc - Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

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

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

Bonsound

½

 Lemon Bucket Orkestra – Moorka

Lemon Bucket Orkestra Moorka

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

½

 Sarah MacDougall – Grand Canyon

Sarah MacDougallGrand Canyon

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

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

 Moon King – Secret Life

Moon KingSecret Life

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

Last Gang

 

 Nickelback – No Fixed Address

NickelbackNo Fixed Address (2014)

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

Music Video: « Edge of a Revolution »

Republic / Universal

 

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

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

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

Pheromone / SIX

½

 

 Purity Ring – Another Eternity

Purity RingAnother Eternity

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

Last Gang

½

 

The Real McKenzies – Rats in the Burlap

The Real McKenziesRats in the Burlap

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

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 Ron Sexsmith – Carousel One

Ron SexsmithCarousel One

When the Ontario troubadour issues a new album, we can expect a quality record while he still has an impressive number of prominent compositions on each new CD. This is still the case on Carousel One that contains great pop melodies with in addition beautiful arrangements to showcase his fingering on the guitar. This 14th album features a little more variety than on his previous recordings, sometimes quite away from the folk sound that has long characterized him. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Foo Fighters), the album features several experienced musicians around Sexsmith which seems less alone than ever with his guitar. "Getaway Car" might well have been recorded by the Beatles of the late years, and various references to the past like this are leading at different times of the album. The solo work of George Harrison may also seem to have been an important influence on the work of Ron Sexsmith. Otherwise, once you bother to stop to listen carefully to the songs, you discover that they fully belong to him. Carousel One is confirmed as another very good album by Ron Sexsmith. (May 2015)

Warner

½

     

 Shred Kelly – Sing to the Night

Shred KellySing to the Night

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

½

 Sun K – Northern Lies

Sun KNorthern Lies

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

Maple / Fontana North / Universal

½

   

 Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unburned

WhitehorseLeave No Bridge Unburned

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

Music Video: « Downtown »

Six Shooter / SIX

½

 

 

Father's Day Special Edition:

 

 Bachman – Heavy Blues

BachmanHeavy Blues

Randy Bachman quickly announces his colors with the title of his new album. He gives us indeed his heaviest solo album to date, abusing unrestrained distortion. For the occasion, he surrounded himself with a new all-female rhythm section: Anna Ruddick (bass) and Dale Anne Brendon (drums). The trio is joined by several guest guitarists, including the late Jeff Healey, Neil Young, Peter Frampton and Joe Bonamassa. And for guitar, there is a lot on Heavy Blues with a real wall of sound that is assaulting us. The production of Kevin Shirley (Iron Maiden, Rush, Led Zeppelin) brings a good dose of power to the album that has very good rock energy, although the compositions certainly don’t revolutionize the genre. In fact, with this new record, Bachman has the ideal product to go on a long tour which will certainly be very successful.

Linus / SIX

   

 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.

Deuce / 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!

Stony Plain / SIX

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.

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.

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.

Rhino / Warner

   

 AC/DC – Rock or Bust

AC/DCRock or Bust (2014)

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

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

Columbia / Sony

½

   

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

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

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

Analekta

   

 Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night

Bob DylanShadows in the Night

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

Columbia / Sony

½

   

 Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Pink FloydThe Endless River (2014)

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

Columbia / Sony

   

 Ringo Starr – Postcards from Paradise

Ringo StarrPostcards from Paradise

Casually, Postcards from Paradise is the 18th solo album by the former Beatle. One still finds some autobiographical songs, but above all, lots of sunny songs that come to us just in time for summer. You can even hear a very nice reggae song with "Right Side of the Road", written with Richard Marx. Most of the loyal acolytes of Starr collaborate again on the album, like Todd Rundgren, Dave Stewart, Steve Lukather and Joe Walsh. Starr manages to present some interesting tracks like "Rory and the Hurricanes", "You Bring the Party Down" and the title track. Otherwise, as it is often the case with a record by Ringo Starr, Postcards from Paradise has many inequalities during its 44 minutes. (May 2015)

Universal

     

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

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

After releasing the book C’est fou mais c’est tout – Parcours discographique des Beatles au Canada in November 2014, the undisputed Beatles fan comes back again with an album covering this time fifteen compositions of his favorite band. The record does not necessarily contain the greatest hits of the quartet, but it still includes favorites such as "Love Me Do" and "Here Comes the Sun". He is accompanied by many musician friends (Patrick Norman, Michel Normandeau, Bruce Huard, Richard Séguin, etc.) and members of his family to sing with a certain pleasure his favorite songs of the Fab Four at ukulele. He even does two of their songs in their French version: "C’est fou mais c’est tout" (Pierre Labelle’s version of "Hold Me Tight" popularized by The Baronets) and "Des bises de moi pour toi" (Claude François’ version of "From Me To You"). A genuine journey through the discography of the band, PS I Love Uke has the feature to navigate between their first record ("Love Me Do") and the last ("The End") by offering a sample from each album. In fact, the most negative point of the CD is that it only lasts a little over 30 minutes and we would have liked to hear additional material. (May 2015)

PGV / Universal

½

 Bob Walsh – After the Storm

Bob WalshAfter the Storm

After two years marked by illness, the Quebec bluesman is back in great shape with After the Storm. This 11th career album for Bob Walsh has an intense blues sound, with some folk influences, but mostly jazz. He is accompanied among others by a large brass section. Walsh alternates between reinterpretations of classic Charles Calhoun, Leon Russell, Bill Withers, etc., and original compositions by Ray Bonneville, Vincent Beaulne and many others. It is good to hear again the unique voice of this giant of Quebec blues, a living legend who has weathered the storm! (May 2015)

Bros / SIX

½

 Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern

Paul Weller Saturns Pattern

Three years after the excellent Sonik Kicks, the former member of The Jam is back on record, but this time without Simon Dine, his faithful collaborator in recent years. On Saturns Pattern, Weller indulges in an atmospheric and space sound on several occasions, while constantly returning to more energetic beats. He even has a rather heavy blues garage at times like with "White Sky", "Long Time" and "In the Car". It is a varied album full of subtleties that offers us Paul Weller, an extremely satisfying album. (May 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

½

     

 Neil Young – Storytone (2 CD)

Neil YoungStorytone (2 CD) (2014)

After a busy year in 2014, both professionally and personally, Neil Young presents nothing less than a double album. In fact, the 2 CDs contain the same 10 songs, but one was recorded with a large orchestra, while the other is played solo. With the orchestra, Young goes in several directions that can be very energetic and at times more intimate, creating a dichotomy on the CD. Otherwise, when he is in solo, we rediscover the folk singer of the best years. It is only a pity that the album is uneven in general. (January 2015)

Reprise / 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

 Van Halen – Tokyo Dome in Concert (2 CD)

Van Halen Tokyo Dome in Concert (2 CD)

The last live album by Van Halen goes back to 1993 with Sammy Hagar at the microphone. Now here is the return of David Lee Roth in a concert recorded in front of a crowd of 44,000 people in Tokyo, Japan. The other change on the album is the replacement of bassist Michael Anthony by Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang. In terms of the songs offered on this double album, they are all tracks recorded by Roth, for a total of 25 including most of the biggest hits of the band. Even though they may no longer have the enthusiasm of their best years, the four musicians still know how to demonstrate all their talent in a classic Van Halen performance. (May 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

   

 

JUNE 8-15:

 

 Anti-Flag – American Spring

Anti-FlagAmerican Spring

After more than 25 years of existence, the punk band from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania seems to have lost none of its energy and passion to denunciate. Anti-Flag offer indeed a generally dynamic tenth album, despite slower songs. Unfortunately, the style was saturated for a long time and few bands can still expect some credibility in their opposition to capitalism and modern society. This is especially the case for Anti-Flag when they come to us with a clean production like this one, so much so that at times it's Simple Plan that comes to mind rather than Black Flag, such as in powerful choruses like "Sky is Falling" and "Without End". It is important to mention two major collaborations to American Spring: Tim Armstrong (Rancid, Transplants) on "Brandenburg Gate" and Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) on "Without End". Despite some good moments, we must face the facts that Anti-Flag cannot attract true punk rock enthusiasts anymore, but fans of too corporate pop punk.

Spinefarm / Caroline

½

 

 Holly Herndon – Platform

Holly HerndonPlatform

A native of Tennessee, Holly Herndon moved to Berlin to blend to the techno scene. Back in the US, she discovered the fun of creating from a computer. On this second album, she offers a rather experimental electronic sound, often downtempo, but also with some occasional pop melodies. To this often difficult to access music, she adds different themes close to her heart as political, ideological concepts and technology. This therefore results in a complete album, a wholly creative work that confirms the talent of the composer.

4AD / Beggars

½

   

 Ariel Pocock – Touchstone

Ariel PocockTouchstone

The first album by 21 year-old jazz singer and pianist Ariel Pocock is finally available in Canada. Produced by Matt Pierson (Jane Monheit, Joshua Redman), Touchstone introduces especially her nervous featured piano style, even if her sublime voice also greatly impresses. She is accompanied by seasoned musicians including Larry Grenadier on bass and Eric Harland on drums. She includes pieces of the traditional jazz repertoire as "Devil May Care", "All the Things You Are" and "When I Fall in Love", but she also puts forward a more contemporary repertoire. With Touchstone, Ariel Pocock demonstrates a huge talent as a musician and jazz singer.

Justin Time / SIX

½

 

 Shamir – Ratchet

ShamirRatchet

A native of Las Vegas, Shamir Bailey offers an electro-pop sound incorporating elements of hip hop music and house music of the 1990s. On this first album, he offers us some essential dance songs that will appeal to both pop music fans and hip hop fans. He had already catch attention with the single "On the Regular" that is included here, but it is confirmed with Ratchet that we were right to believe in his potential. You can hear influences of Prince, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones and the Scissor Sisters, but he fits perfectly all these influences into a whole of his own style. His compositions are very effective and borrow as much to the past as to contemporary technology. Here is an excellent debut album from a very promising artist!

XL / Beggars

   

 

JUNE 1-7:

 

Jason Derulo – Everything Is 4

Jason DeruloEverything Is 4

On his new album, Jason Derulo has several light pop songs, moving away from his R&B influences, as is the case among others of the first single, "Want To Want Me". We can also hear two other hits: "Cheyenne" and "Get Ugly". It contains several important collaborators, for example K. Michelle, Meghan Trainor, Stevie Wonder and Keith Urban ("Broke"), Julia Michaels, as well as Jennifer Lopez and Matoma (the excellent "Try Me"). More underground R&B songs are still present on the record, but they alternate quickly with danceable pop songs. In addition, with 11 tracks totaling less than 39 minutes, Derulo does not fall into the trap of offering a too long album that could make us lose interest along the way. This therefore results in an album that is still pleasant to listen to the end. Actually, Everything Is 4 is possibly the most interesting and fun to listen of his records to date. (June 2015 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Want To Want Me »

Warner

     

     

 

 

 

Holychild – The Shape of Brat Pop to Come

HolychildThe Shape of Brat Pop to Come

Holychild is a Los Angeles duo formed of singer Liz Nistico and multi-instrumentalist Louie Diller. They release their first album with the title inspired of The Shape of Jazz to Come by Ornette Coleman. Otherwise, musically, Holychild has nothing to do with jazz, but rather presents an electro pop sound with rock guitars. The duo takes inspiration from the punk energy, hip hop and dancehall in a mix that compares to the new wave of the 1980s and 1990s pop rock. The 12 songs offered on The Shape of Brat to Pop Come have not only a great energy, but also a very refreshing creativity. Without pieces that truly stand out, the album contains very few weaknesses. It is a very good first record that offer us Holychild. (June 2015 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Running Behind » - « Money All Around »

Glassnote / Universal

½

   

 Andee – Black and white Heart

AndeeBlack and white Heart

After a long wait, here is the first album by Andee (Andrée-Anne Leclerc), a former Star Académie contestant in Quebec. After a landmark meeting with Sebastien Lefebvre (Simple Plan) and a signing with Universal, she releases an album in English mixing pop and rock to her soulful voice in a fairly energetic set. Produced by Lefebvre, Black and White Heart includes the hits "Never Gone" and "Sorries" plus a collaboration with Hedley for the bilingual version of "Kiss You Inside Out". You can hear three French versions for "Never Gone", "Tu enflammes mon corps" and the title track. Finally, there is a third version of the latter, a remix by Lesko Cerf. The powerful voice of the singer is highlighted throughout this record that sticks perfectly to her skin. Otherwise, musically, few tracks are distinguished by their creativity.

Music Videos: « Never Gone » - « Sorries »

Universal

 

Bet.e & Stef – Seeds

Bet.e & StefSeeds

After an enviable success at the turn of the 2000s, the Montreal duo took a long pause before coming back in 2013. Here they are back on record with Seeds, an album containing only eight songs for a total of just over 30 minutes. Bet.e & Stef offer again this mix of jazz and world music that has made them famous, plus a significant touch of pop music. The melodies are indeed still highly effective and memorable. They also add some folk and electro elements, perhaps to follow the strong current trend. Their styles amalgam remains as efficient and pleasant to listen to the end. It's just a shame that the album is so short because we would certainly have taken more. Here is the perfect record to accompany your sunny summer days! You can see them on an outdoor stage on July 1 as part of the International Jazz Festival of Montreal.

Universal

½

   

Faith No More – Sol Invictus

Faith No More Sol Invictus

a translation of a review by Jean Jean (Rocklegends)

Eighteen. Eighteen long, long years have passed since the release of Album of the Year, finding an excellent end of discography... ultimately not final. After a reunion in 2009 for a series of concerts including large festivals, Faith No More did not let presage the release of a new studio album... Sol Invictus is nevertheless very real, massive and far from dissonant in the discography of the Californians. Reformed with the same line-up as on Album of the Year - understand without Jim Martin on guitar - Faith No More has again called on Matt Wallace for a fifth collaboration, this time to the mixing (the album being produced by Billy Gould himself...). Indescribable band unless you use a long combination of styles, adjectives and superlatives, Faith No More is a musical curiosity. And Mike Patton, monstrous chameleon singer, is certainly no coincidence. Sol Invictus as always offers him an ideal ground for a multitude of vocal antics going very easily from punk to heavy metal, from crooner to hip hop, from ballad to hardcore clamor. Mike Patton, the general, illuminates once again the record of his lived, invested and tortured chant... Behind, it is also the great musical gap, with "Sol Invictus" is perched introduction, "Superhero", a mid-tempo obscure, "Sunny Side up", a dramatically poignant ballad, "Black Friday", a pop "p(f)unk" offset. As always, Faith No More provide a rough and hearty feast that assimilation requires patience, listening and skinning in order. And there is the splayfooted. So if they had to reassure skeptics and anxious, Faith No More have not backed off. Energy is superabundant, lush abundant creativity and desire. Nothing suggests a discography hiatus of fifteen years. Nothing suggests that the flame was extinguished. But everything suggests that Faith No More were clearly missed during that time.

Reclamation / Ipecac

½

   

Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + the MachineHow Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence Welch and her band are back with their third album presenting some kind of a turn. Three and a half years after the excellent Ceremonials, this new record produced by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay) offers music and lyrics a bit more down-to-earth. This is perhaps the maturity that has come to Florence as her pop songs that were often left-field before are becoming mainstream now, sometimes without great personality. This is particularly the case in the second half of the CD so you can hear frankly boring tracks. There are some interesting songs in the beginning, with quality arrangements and beautiful orchestrations, but it is not enough to meet the high demands that we are entitled to have with this unique artist who knew how to impress with her two first recordings. It remains to be seen whether How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is only a transition to something better. To be continued!

Music Videos: « What Kind of Man » - « St. Jude »

Island / Universal

   

 Josh Groban – Stages

Josh GrobanStages

Always on the line between lyrical singing and pop song, Josh Groban presents on Stages music that sticks perfectly to his skin. Indeed, he plays some of the best works taken from Broadway musicals and some movies (like "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz), with pop arrangements but also great orchestrations. The extracts from musicals include Les Misérables, Notre-Dame de Paris and The Phantom of the Opera ("All I Ask From You" with Kelly Clarkson). Groban doesn’t go far in opera and he instead remains in a mainstream pop record. Anyway, he delivers in a great way some unforgettable works.

Reprise / Warner

   

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind

Mumford & SonsWilder Mind

The London alternative folk rock band is back with their fourth album, moving away somewhat from their previous recordings as they drop their famous banjo. They certainly had the desire to dissociate from the numerous bands that emerged in recent years that seemed to want to do the Mumford & Sons style. Yet even while trying to redirect, the band looks like about all that can be heard today in alternative rock based on acoustic instruments. At least in sound, since in terms of the quality of the compositions, it’s not impressive. Mumford & Sons have always favored sound over creativity, and we will have much less difficulty in realizing it with Wilder Mind. The album is not totally uninteresting, but several songs quickly become stale when we start listening carefully. It is best to keep a remote or distracted ear if we want to enjoy this new album by Mumford & Sons. Even their biggest fans might be somewhat disappointed.

Glassnote / Universal

   

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan StevensCarrie & Lowell

The alternative folk rock singer from Detroit is back with a new album that continues the way already well underway in his creative journey. Otherwise, on Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens pays tribute to his mother deceased in 2012 and his stepfather. This is an album about love, but also sadness, anger and uncertainty, since Sufjan had a difficult relationship with his mother who broke with his father when he was only one year old. He certainly presents his most personal songs to date, with a good dose of emotion and very little restraint. Musically, Stevens offers us gently beautiful melodies that help to carry us quickly into his family universe. With Carrie & Lowell, Sufjan Stevens puts his guts on the table and he will certainly not be accused of hiding himself. Here is a very good album, a nice addition to his work!

½

 

 Patrick Watson – Love Songs for Robots

Patrick Watson Love Songs for Robots

Recorded in Los Angeles and Montreal, Love Songs for Robots certainly has more scope than the intimate album Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the home recording of Patrick Watson that appeared three years ago. Otherwise, he remains just as intense and melancholic that he has been in the past. More synthesizers add some layers to final arrangements much more complex than on the previous record for an ambient whole, but of great wealth, blending science fiction and folk music. This is again a very good album that offers us Patrick Watson with this fifth recording, but you'll certainly need some patience to adhere completely to his universe rather difficult to access.

Music Video: « Places You Will Go »

Secret City

½

   

 Erik West Millette – West Trainz (2 CD + Book)

Erik West MilletteWest Trainz (2 CD + Book)

The musician, composer and producer passion for trains goes back to his childhood when he accompanied his two grandfathers, railway industry employees, in locomotives and wagons. After many years of sound research, Erik West Millette honors the great transcontinental expresses and presents the ambitious project of 2 CD and a book called West Trainz. All the music was inspired by trains he had the chance to take and it is interspersed with real railway sounds. To do this, he surrounds himself with renowned collaborators including Gianmaria Testa, Pierre Flynn, Jordan Officer, Thomas Hellman, Bïa, Marie-Jo Thério, Yves Desrosiers, and many others. Largely instrumental, the double album offers fairly creative jazz music, also incorporating elements of blues. The whole is more than interesting and carries us into a fascinating journey, in America on the first CD, then in the rest of the world with the second one. For Erik West Millette, West Trainz is more than the project of his career, it is also the project of his life!

L-A be / SIX

½

 

 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.

Rhino / 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.

Rhino / Warner

½

 

MAY:

 

Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure

Brian WilsonNo Pier Pressure

After the abrupt split of the Beach Boys during their 50th anniversary tour, which left Brian alone on his side, he took the opportunity to enter the studio with Jeff Beck and producer Don Was. The project did not succeed, but many recordings from those sessions are the foundation of No Pier Pressure, recorded with his long-time collaborator Joe Thomas. The pro-Brian branch of the Beach Boys is still very present on the album: Al Jardine, David Marks and Blondie Chaplin. The album of 18 tracks totaling 56 minutes can be rapidly destabilizing, as soon as at the second track with the almost disco "Runaway Dancer" featuring Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities. It definitely does not seem to have its place on an album by Brian Wilson. There are also many slow songs with an atmospheric trend and very good vocal harmonies. Wilson even tends to jazz on "Half Moon Bay" with Mark Isham. Other collaborators include She & Him, Nate Ruess and Kacey Musgraves (for two of the most effective songs of the record, "The Right Time" and "Guess You Had To Be There"). Unfortunately, it is too uneven and too long for a Brian Wilson album, which still presents very good compositions, but with also many weaker pieces. In cutting some of these weak songs, Wilson would certainly have succeeded in offering a high quality album. No Pier Pressure is therefore this kind of album to listen to the piece, remote control in hand. (May 2015 Featured Review)

Capitol / Universal

     

     

 

 

 

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

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

Courtney Barnett is an Australian songwriter, guitarist and singer who plays an alternative rock sound both inspired and exciting. After two EPs that provoked many reactions, Courtney finally offers her long awaited debut album. She has a garage rock sound that recalls the Nirvana grunge on several occasions, as well as the origins of punk. Otherwise, we can also hear a little more folk influences, which can bring Patti Smith to mind. Where she is particularly strong is that she manages to dip into her different American influences and make it her own by delivering it in her own way, with her charming Australian accent she is very proud of. Here is a songwriter of great talent, a complete artist it is imperative to discover. (May 2015 Featured New Artist)

Sony

   

 Blick Bassy – AKÖ

Blick BassyAKÖ

Blick Bassy is a Cameroonian now living in Paris for ten years. He is a guitarist of finger-picking blues which he mixes with jazz and complex African rhythms. Influenced by Skip James, his Cameroonian roots still dominate on this album almost entirely in his native tongue. He not only mastered his instrument, but he has in addition a singular voice that allows us to distinguish him quickly. Blick Bassy offers us music that pierces us and therefore will leave no one indifferent. (May 2015)

Naïve / No Format / SIX

½

 Bears of Legend – Ghostwritten Chronicles

Bears of LegendGhostwritten Chronicles

Bears of Legend is a folk rock collective from Mauricie, Quebec presenting a new album inspired by an old diary found at sea on a mysterious boat. Ghostwritten Chronicles tells metaphorical stories of a crew taking place between the years 1400 and 1700. Each character is introduced and illustrated in the booklet and it describes its context. The concept album incorporating folk instruments is expanded and ambitious. Beautiful vocal harmonies make the project still accessible, and they are accompanied by large-scale orchestrations that add to the rich and creative arrangements. The poetry of the album is also inspiring, on a sound mixing folk, classical and progressive rock. Mainly in English, Ghostwritten Chronicles is a greatly rewarding and interesting album. To discover! (May 2015)

La Tanière / SIX

½

 Blur – The Magic Whip

BlurThe Magic Whip

For The Magic Whip, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and company reunited in studio for the first time since the disappointing Think Tank in 2003. In the meantime, they have had many separate projects, but it's rather pleasant to find back the quartet that was among the bands at the forefront of brit pop in the 1990s. The Magic Whip seems to be a real continuity to their best albums, not only a reunion years later. It is as if all that time Blur remained alive and had continued its creative process. Started in Hong Kong during a 5-day recording session, the album was certainly inspired by their stay in Asia with lyrics depicting a certain loneliness due to remoteness. Musically, the songs are generally smooth, often slow, with beautiful melodies, coated in extremely rich textures. Arrangements are absolutely stunning and help to show Blur at its best. There are quite a few small irregularities or less exciting tracks, but the overall is great to listen. Here is something to satisfy the fans of the band that were left to themselves since 13 released 16 years ago. (May 2015)

Music Video: « Lonesome Street »

Parlophone / Warner

½

     

 Circuit des Yeux – In Plain Speech

Circuit des YeuxIn Plain Speech

Circuit des Yeux is an experimental folk rock project by Haley Fohr which exists since 2007. In Plain Speech is her 4th album and it still moves away from the loud and cacophonous sound of the early years. While it remains totally experimental, the album has beautiful melodies and great melodramatic climbs that make it rather pleasant to listen. From a creative standpoint, Fohr is exploring different sounds and styles, always as original. Otherwise, she succeeded more than ever by creating a certain guideline throughout the 54 minutes of the album. The music can rely on rich orchestrations and sophisticated arrangements, which make it quite cinematic. With In Plain Speech, Circuit des Yeux has probably its most accomplished album to date. (May 2015)

Thrill Jockey

½

   

 Jesse Cook – One World

Jesse CookOne World

Jesse Cook has always merged the genres, from jazz to new age and world music. On One World, the guitarist transcends more than ever in this area with a mix worthy of a world tour. The guitars, sitar and violin blend with keyboards and electronic sounds. He therefore manages the feat of creating an almost perfect guideline between past and present, while we travel. Unlike his previous records that might contain rumba or flamenco tracks, One World beautifully integrates all his influences into a rather creative distinct sound. Not only is this new album different from anything he has done before, but it is perhaps also one of his most successful from a creative point of view. Here is a very nice album to carry you elsewhere. (May 2015)

eOne

½

 

 Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi

Death Cab For CutieKintsugi

While Chris Walla has left the band during the recording of Kintsugi, Ben Gibbard has hired producer Rich Costey (Kimbra, Muse, Interpol) to help to complete the album. It is possibly the smoothest record by the band to date with obvious pop melodies that bring more than ever indie pop and new wave in their sound. Gibbard and his band are also very comfortable as they explore disco rock ("Good Help (Is So Hard to Find)"). The album contains some great songs like "Black Sun" and "The Ghosts of Beverly Drive," and all is well aligned from one track to another for a 45-minute solid album to the end. It is certainly not the best record of the band to date, but it has enough interesting material to satisfy its audience. (May 2015)

Music Video: « Black Sun »

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Django Django – Born Under Saturn

Django DjangoBorn Under Saturn

The British quartet is back with a new album pursuing the same musical direction than on its first record issued three years ago. Django Django have established themselves with their characteristic sound merging rock and electronic, all accompanied by a creative beat. We hear again influences of Devo, but also of the Beach Boys and Brian Eno. The quality of the melodies dominates throughout the CD and several tracks stand out of the lot as the excellent "Giant", "Found You" and the first single, "First Light". A few pieces are a little less convincing in the second half and may leave somewhat uncertain, but Born Under Saturn still remains an album of great creativity. (May 2015)

Music Video: « First Light »

Because / Warner

½

   

 Ludovico Einaudi – Taranta Project

Ludovico Einaudi Taranta Project

In 2010-2011, the Italian musician was invited to conduct the orchestra during the Notte della Taranta festival, wanting to revive the ancient songs of the tradition of Salento (the "heel" of the Italian boot). On this album, Einaudi offers a reinterpretation of the songs once used to chase the evils of the world and create a connection with the traditions and music cultures to make coexist the ancient and the modern. Several renowned musicians are collaborating on this musical adventure: Ballaké Sissoko, Justin Adams, Mercan Dede, Redi Hasa, Mauro Durante, etc. Taranta Project is a complex and dense album that brings together influences from all over the world while eliminating the gap between traditional and contemporary music. (May 2015)

Ponderosa / SIX

 

 Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind

Two years after the success of Old Yellow Moon, the country duo is back with The Traveling Kind. Crowell and Harris co-wrote 6 of the 11 songs and they seem to have an incomparable chemistry in such a context, like when they sing and play by the way. They allow a pair of covers: Lucinda Williams’ "I Just Wanted To See You So Bad" and Amy Allison’s "Her Hair Was Red". Despite quite a few songs that are energetic, it is in the more intimate songs that the duo actually achieves harmony ("You Can’t Say We Didn’t Try", the title track, etc.). Produced by Joe Henry, The Traveling Kind reconfirms that these longtime friends should have joined forces well before the 2010s. (May 2015)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

 

 Brigitte M – Immortals

Brigitte MImmortals

With her lyrical pop voice, Brigitte M had impressed on her album From Metal to Crystal covering classic hard rock and metal in her own way. These are other immortal songs she sings in a style of her own. She pays tribute to Queen ("The Show Must Go On"), Scorpions ("Send Me an Angel"), Aerosmith ("Dream On"), Sting ("Fields of Gold"), Styx ("Suite Madame Blue"), Evanescence ("My Immortal"), and even Edith Piaf ("Non, je ne regrette rien"). For the first single, "Space Countdown", Brigitte merges David Bowie’s "Space Oddity" with Europe’s "The Final Countdown" and Mozart’s "The Queen of the Night". In any case, she delivers these classics with all the sweetness and subtlety that characterizes her, giving new lives to these timeless songs. (May 2015)

Music Video: « Space Countdown »

Amusic / Sony

 Isaac Neto – Meu Quelê

Isaac NetoMeu Quelê

Born in Sao Luis de Maranhao, Brazil, the singer, guitarist, composer and arranger has adopted Quebec in 2007. With Meu Quelê (My Child), he merges Brazilian traditions and contemporary world music. The rich melodies and complex rhythms are wrapped up in beautiful arrangements. The fusion seems perfect between the guitar and the voice of Neto and the innovative and unique percussions of Rogério Boccato (Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Joe Zawinul). The two musicians also produced the album. Note also the collaborations of flutist Amina Mezaache, singer-songwriter Bïa Krieger, and singer-composer Anne Boccato. Meu Quelê offers lyrics in Portuguese on a contemporary Brazilian music. (May 2015)

Carcarasom

½

   

 Dwight Yoakam – Second Hand Heart

Dwight YoakamSecond Hand Heart

The American country singer from Kentucky has thirty years of career and issues a new album paying tribute to the past while looking to the future of country music. With solid compositions that manage to avoid the worst clichés of the genre, Yoakam quickly impresses by his ability to bridge the gap between past and future. He offers a great blend of country, pop and rock while respecting a certain guideline and without major weaknesses. If Dwight Yoakam found a new life in 2012 with 3 Pears, well this time he finds himself firmly established in the 2010s with Second Hand Heart which is a very good album that country lovers should certainly not ignore. (May 2015)

Reprise / Warner

½

 

 Hindi Zahra – Homeland

Hindi ZahraHomeland

The French with Moroccan origins is back with her second album, five years after Handmade. Hindi Zahra still offers a jazz sound with folk and eastern influences, but also with a tinge of blues and great pop melodies. Her warm voice is accompanied by rather rich acoustic music and very good percussions. Homeland allows once again to make a very nice trip for 48 minutes. (May 2015)

Parlophone / Warner

½

   

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

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

This double live album presents the pop rock band when it was at the peak of its career. It includes recordings during three concerts given between June 24 and 26, 1975 at the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland. On this 34th album by Chicago, you can hear as many as 24 songs among their most popular for a total of nearly two hours. You can hear again with pleasure the hits "Beginnings", "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "Old Days" and "25 or 6 to 4". The sound quality is not perfect, given the technology of 40 years ago, but it is interesting enough to make us appreciate the band's talent, which incorporates elements of jazz to its pop rock / soft rock style. Here is the perfect album for their hardcore fans to go back to their memories of that era. (May 2015)

Rhino / Warner

½

 

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

NeedtobreatheLive from the Woods at Fontanel (2 CD)

After numerous major concerts, including opening for Taylor Swift, the Christian alternative rock band was ready to release its first concert album. So here is Live from the Woods at Fontanel, recorded in front of 4,500 people in Nashville on September 13, 2014. The 17 tracks on two CDs cover all their albums except the debut. Since the concert was recorded during the Rivers in the Wasteland tour, it is normal to find several songs from this album (there are 9 of 11). It includes an 8-minute jam version of "Oh Carolina" and a version of "Wanted Man", which turns into a hard rock cover of Modest Mouse’s "Float On". One can of course also listen to their greatest hits, including "The Outsiders" and "Brother". You can clearly hear the crowd at several moments of the album, especially during quieter passages or between songs, which helps create a beautiful festive atmosphere, even in our living room. Needtobreathe offers us an energetic and contagious performance, an essential album for fans of the group. (May 2015)

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 IDA - Music From & Inspired By The Film

Ida (music from & inspired by the film)

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

Solopan / Warner

½

 

 

APRIL:

 

Madonna – Rebel Heart

MadonnaRebel Heart

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

Music Video: « Living for Love »

Interscope / Universal

½

     

         

 

 

 

Big Data – 2.0

Big Data2.0

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

Music Video: « Dangerous »

Warner

½

   

 All Time Low – Future Hearts

All Time LowFuture Hearts

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

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

Hopeless

½

   

 Awolnation – Run

AwolnationRun

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

Music Video: « Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) »

Red Bull

   

 Will Butler – Policy

Will ButlerPolicy

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

Merge

   

 Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly

Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly

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

Music Video: « i »

Interscope / Universal

   

 Alain Lefèvre – Rive gauche

Alain LefèvreRive gauche

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

Analekta

½

 

 Lightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire

Lightning BoltFantasy Empire

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

Thrill Jockey

½

 

 Marina and the Diamonds – Froot

Marina and the DiamondsFroot

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

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

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 Niyaz – The Fourth Light

NiyazThe Fourth Light

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

Terrestrial Lane / SIX

½

 

 Kid Rock – First Kiss

Kid RockFirst Kiss

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

Music Video: « First Kiss »

Atlantic / Warner

   

 San Fermin – Jackrabbit

San FerminJackrabbit

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

Downtown / Fontana North

½

   

 Selah Sue – Reason

Selah SueReason

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

Music Video: « Alone »

Because / Warner

½

 

 We Are Harlot – We Are Harlot

We Are HarlotWe Are Harlot

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

Roadrunner / Warner

   

 Ben Wilkins – All From Hello

Ben WilkinsAll From Hello

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

Midnight Train / SIX

 

 BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB – LOST AND FOUND

Buena Vista Social Club – LOST AND FOUND

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

World Circuit

½

 

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

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

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

Parlophone / Warner

½

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

 

MARCH:

 

Björk – Vulnicura

BjörkVulnicura

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

One Little Indian

     

   

 

 

 

Emile Haynie – We Fall

Emile HaynieWe Fall

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

Interscope / Universal

½

   

 Chris de Burgh – The Hands of Man

Chris de BurghThe Hands of Man

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

Justin Time / SIX

   

 Cécile Doo-Kingué – Anybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

Cécile Doo-KinguéAnybody Listening Part 1: Monologues

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

CDK / SIX

½

 

East End Radicals – Zero Hour

East End RadicalsZero Hour

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

Stomp / ULG / Warner

 

 Fall Out Boy – American Beauty / American Psycho

Fall Out BoyAmerican Beauty / American Psycho

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

Music Videos: « Centuries » - « Irresistible »

Universal

   

 Fences – Lesser Oceans

FencesLesser Oceans

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

Elektra / Warner

½

 

 Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe FiascoTetsuo & Youth

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

Music Video: « Deliver »

Atlantic / Warner

½

 

 Kensico – White Sage

KensicoWhite Sage

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

LMM / SIX

½

Dom La Nena – Soyo

Dom La NenaSoyo

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

Six Degrees / SIX

½

 

 Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Marilyn MansonThe Pale Emperor

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

Music Video: « Deep Six »

Dine Alone

½

   

Ne-Yo – Non-Fiction

Ne-YoNon-Fiction

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

Music Videos: