The release in Canada of the latest album by the
prince of music takes on a special meaning as it comes out eight
days after his death. The prolific composer has not slowed down in
recent years, although his health was worsening. HITnRUN Phase
Two is indeed his fourth album since 2014 for a total
approaching 40 in career. Less pop than
Phase 1, HITnRUN Phase Two presents funk and soul
recalling The Revolution. We can also hear jazz moments and
an energetic rock song in "Screwdriver". Although it is very
eclectic, the record has very good passages, possibly his best
assemblage of songs since
3121issued 10 years ago.
Prince may be gone, but we can bet that many unreleased recordings
are lying around in a drawer, because he was composing and recording
constantly in his studio in Minneapolis. So you should see
unreleased material by Prince released in the coming years.
Meanwhile, enjoy the last good album that he offered.
Ferraro is a quartet from Toronto formed of brothers Cosmo,
Gianni and Tally Ferraro, accompanied by guitarist
Tom Ionescu. They propose an indie rock sound that reminds
The Strokes, but is heavily inspired by rock's golden age with
many references to the 1950s and 1960s, specially the
Their music is upbeat and the energizing effect is immediate.
Losing Sleep proves to be particularly contagious and it
certainly makes you want to see them on stage. Bet you'll have many
of the 10 songs of the album in mind for a long time. The only
problem with Losing Sleep is that it is too short with only
Ontario singer has once again decided on Midnight
Machines to drop her electronic dimension to rather offer an
acoustic album. A tradition that continues now with each of her
albums, it's mostly new versions of songs from
Little Machines issued in 2014, and
two new songs, "Follow You Down" and "Head Cold". There are only
eight in all for a total of around 40 minutes. A string section adds
richness and magic to the album that manages to conquer us promptly
with its warm atmosphere. In fact, one might even say that Lights is
at her best in this context. A very fine record!
Take All My Loves is
not his first foray into the world of Shakespeare, but in this case,
Rufus Wainwright presents a clever mix between his chamber pop
music, opera and readings. Three sonnets have already appeared on
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu,
but they are presented here in new arrangements. We find 16 tracks
in all so, many poems are found in two different versions. Among the
guest artists, first note opera singer Anna Prohaska, but
also Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Martha
Wainwright and Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine).
BBC Symphony Orchestra also made many appearances. Some fans
might be disappointed not to hear Wainwright sing very often on the
album, but he rather acts as the conductor of a varied album which
is designed primarily to highlight the work of Shakespeare. In fact,
Wainwright especially proves his versatility as a musician and
arranger. A beautiful album full of creativity!
Ten years have passed since her last solo album,
but now Gwen Stefani finally releases her third record. This long
break was marked by her children, but especially by her divorce from
Gavin Rossdale (Bush). We quickly hear it on This
Is What The Truth Feels Like when a handful of songs are about
liberation ("Used To Love You", "Me Without You", etc.). Musically,
she has a modern pop sound, but with trends that are a little too
adult at times. Her dance rhythms are certainly approaching Kylie
over new pop sensations. Rock is unfortunately wiped out and the
fans of the first hours of No Doubt are not likely to be
concerned. They will wait for the new album from their favorite band
to come soon, but with a man instead of Gwen, Davey Havok (AFI)!?
To return to this new album, after several mid-tempo songs without
much interest, Gwen goes head first into club music focused on bass
and produced to perfection. Even if we finally get a bit of
excitement, it's nothing to convince us of the relevance of this new
record, and the chance to return immediately to the first song are
slim. Gwen certainly has quality pop music, but she fails to stand
out as much as we would have liked. (April
2016 Featured Review)
After having become well known with his samplings
of the Beach Boys, Nathan Jenkins issues his first
album of original music. The London producer has since gone from hip
hop beats to much more electro pop music. This does not mean that he
has become accessible either. Instead, the music of Bullion remains
rather left field with some good beats, but especially the need to
listen carefully to what he has to offer us if we really want to
adhere to his work. Otherwise, once you put an effort, you can only
be convinced of the effectiveness of his compositions. Do not expect
anything for radios, but his electro pop sound with new wave
influences, sometimes reminding Gary Numan (the excellent
"Speed"), should get to seduce you. Occasional Brass integration
also helps to make his music earthier. Here is a very good example
that hybrid music of the 2010s can be particularly creative and just
as enjoyable to listen to. Bullion offers unique atmospheric music.
(April 2016 Featured New Artist)
After five years of absence, the US band is back
on record. But, they have two important members in less following
the departure of guitarist Matt Roberts (a founding member)
and longtime bassist Todd Harrell, who had to be replaced.
Also, to give life to the music of the band that became frankly
Time of My Life, they hired
producer Matt Wallace. In this sense, it is successful since
the group returns to energetic rhythms, powerful choruses and riffs
to fill stadiums in their way. Otherwise, forget creativity with 11
songs that remind all Nickelback. It becomes quickly
annoying, as soon as with the first songs, "The Broken" and "In the
Dark". 3 Doors Down have perhaps never been geniuses of creation,
but now they don’t have any more inspiration. The only positive
think: Us and the Night does not do us sleep as their
previous CD, even managing to make us stomp on occasion.
After a dozen years in an independent career of
each other, the brother and sister finally meet on the same album.
They had collaborated on different records from each other and had
tour together, but The Family Album is a first joint
recording. They have five new songs, two of Matthew and three of
Jill, in a country folk style. The six other songs of the album are
covers carefully chosen from a repertoire of folk from the 1960s and
1970s. These include Townes Van Zandt’s "If I Needed You" and
Neil Young’s "Comes a Time". We can also hear the English
version of Leonard Cohen’s "La complainte du partisan". The
album was masterfully produced by Michael Piersante (Willie
Nelson, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Elvis Costello)
and you can discover both their Canadian folk and Americana
influences. Although they remain highly effective independently of
each other, it seems that Matthew and Jill gain strength when they
The English artist Bibio (his real name is
Stephen Wilkinson) is cleverly mixing electronics and acoustics
for a unique electro folk indie sound. On A Mineral Love, he
explores again modern music of the 21st century, but joining it with
a R&B and funk atmosphere carrying us straight to the 1970s. He left
aside sampling to play real songs in the studio. That's when he uses
old synthesizers or a funky guitar from another era that he is at
his best. Bibio offers us music in sweetness and subtlety that
creates a very special and extremely pleasant atmosphere. Among the
collaborators to the album, there are Gotye, Olivier St
Louis and Wax Stag.
The pianist and composer from Québec releases his
debut album of neo-classical or contemporary classical. It is a
minimalist album on which only the piano is expressed. Through eight
tracks totaling 27 minutes, he managed to do admirably in spending
emotion. It's like a movie playing in front of our eyes. Jean-Michel
Blais will certainly become a widely recognized artist.
After a first album of great efficiency with
Hunt and Chase, the young Ontario
female artist returns with a successful record on which she extends
a little bit her scope with strong pop melodies on a background
ranging between folk, indie pop and more adult alternative music.
She increases her level of creativity by taking her own personality
and offering an album that really belongs to her. A very nice
accomplishment for this young artist with infinite talent... And
what a pleasure to hear her voice again!
The singer-songwriter from Sydney, Australia releases his debut
album with Telluric. He offers a mixture of pop rock and
rather introspective adult alternative rock. Names like Jack
Johnson and Josh Rouse may come to mind, but Corby has a
distinctive voice and a unique phrasing. He presents an album with
11 songs totaling 46 minutes and the whole remains fairly consistent
until the end with some very good times.
The indie psychedelic band from Los Angeles
releases the fourth album of their career. For the occasion, the
formation of 10 musicians has changed its creative process by
locking everyone in the same room to write and record. This results
in an overall work that is a little more consistent, despite surges
of some instruments or voices which sometimes emerge oddly from the
lot. But these spasms respond after all to their desire to introduce
almost experimental psychedelic music. Jazz impulses also come to
garnish the whole that is rather indefinable. Although they seem to
succeed to tighten their work, the fact remains that the Magnetic
Zeros have a messy sound still standing out as if we were listening
to a huge unstoppable jam. We must therefore have the ability to
enter their eclectic universe to truly appreciate Person A.
Issued without warning, untitled unmastered
contains eight demos that are only numbered and dated. From the
dates, we understand that most of this material was recorded during
the studio sessions for the excellent album
To Pimp a Butterfly released in
2015. With an album of such a strength, it’s not surprising that
"the remaining" is still as effective. But above all, the eight
tracks are linked together into a coherent whole, very pleasant to
listen. The music is accompanying beautifully Lamar’s lyrics dealing
primarily with extinction and survival. His hip hop sound is still
soft but catchy, and it seems to be inspired from jazz and soul on
many occasions. Vocally, he is supported at various times by
Bilal and Cee Lo Green. Even if Lamar introduces this
album as a CD of demos, the fact remains that he once again managed
a feat with a record of high quality. Kanye West perhaps
should learn from the humility of Kendrick Lamar instead of
promising the best album ever.
Formed in 2013, the young quartet from Montreal
releases its second album, Comfortable Scars. Lost Love offer
a melodic pop punk sound that goes straight to the point. The 11
catchy songs talk about the importance of making peace, to find
comfort and painful moments of the past. In fact, they talk about
topics of their generation, which has nothing to do with the
claimant punk of another era. With less than 32 minutes,
Comfortable Scars certainly manages to make you have fun,
without much effort.
Kevin Morby was first known as a member of two
Brooklyn bands, The Babies and Woods. Now based in Los
Angeles, he worked in solo since 2013. Singing Saw is his
third album and Morby is increasing the scope of his sound with the
addition of keyboards, trumpet and electronics. This is still
alternative rock music by a songwriter with a unique voice.
Otherwise, his music takes on another dimension here, pleasantly
gaining wealth. This new sound allows us to appreciate even more the
quality of Kevin Morby’s compositions. It's like he is going to
another level. Here is a unique album, which is likely to be among
the best of the year.
Motel Raphaël is a female indie pop trio from
Montreal that was formed in 2012. They are advantageously compared
with Tegan and Sara, Feist and Arcade Fire.
After a first rather folk album, Motel Raphaël takes a completely
new direction on System with more complex compositions. The
14 songs are finely linked together to form a coherent whole that is
so nice to listen to. Their tasty vocal harmonies add to the whole
which is particularly exciting. Here is an excellent album by a band
that we have not heard the last!
Canadian David Myles represents certainly one of
the best mixes of pop, folk and soul, somewhere between Justin
Timberlake and James Taylor. With the Here Now EP,
he moved more than ever in the pop world with six catchy songs with
unforgettable melodies. He collaborated again with Classified
for the production of the album, in addition to delivering a verse
on the touching "Don’t Leave It Up To Me". This excellent record
comes to us to make us wait while a French album should be released
in spring 2017.
The indie band from Brooklyn, New York is back
with their third album, Human Performance. After many weird
recordings, especially for the
Monastic Living EP, Parquet Courts are back with a better
focus. This results possibly in their most cohesive album to date.
Great riffs and rhythms even succeed in making us stomp through an
atmosphere that remains highly exploratory. This is the case with
"One Man No City" that incorporates rhythmic bongos in a long jam of
more than 6 minutes. However, they are usually limited to short
songs including several below three minutes. They even include some
moments of rock 'n' roll that are particularly captivating. This is
a key album for Parquet Courts, an album that is likely to be among
the best of the year. The group is certainly one of the most
creative American bands at the moment, and they will also succeed in
expanding their audience with Human Performance. A great and
Heather Rankin is part of the famous Rankin
Family from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which was at the top of
the Canadian folk scene in the 1990s before splitting in 1999.
Heather pursued an actress career and she now releases the album
A Fine Line. We still find some traces of Celtic folk music that
has characterized her family, but with a direction much more adult
pop. She returns with her sister Cookie and her brother
Jimmy the time of a song, "We Walk As One". We can also hear
Quake Matthews on her cover of Tears For Fears’
"Everybody Wants To Rule the World". Produced by David Tyson,
who also collaborated on the writing of several songs, A Fine
Line offers some interesting moments, without big surprises.
The youngest son of Motown’s founder, Berry
Gordy Jr., releases his first solo album after the monster
success of his band, LMFAO. Otherwise, the differences are
quite rare when you can hear the same music style for party with
danceable beats and ridiculous lyrics ("Booty Man", "Juicy Wiggle").
There are a few unavoidable songs that may be as successful as
"Party Rock Anthem", "Champagne Showers" and "Sexy and I Know It" by
LMFAO. This is the case among others for "Keep Shining", "Party
Train" and of course the inevitable "Juicy Wiggle". But the album
proves to be somewhat uneven and does not always provide the same
level of pleasure. Fortunately, there is still "Juicy Wiggle" to
make us smile...
Sainte Rose is an indie rock band from Quebec having
a second EP out after
Bloodlines EP in spring 2015. This is the second part of a
trilogy. Sweet Talk EP contains four songs and each will have
its music video. One can already discover the one for "Wounded"
which looks more like a short film than a music video. Sainte Rose
includes Marc Gebrayel and two pairs of brothers: Joey
and Mikey Berlangieri, as well as Corey and Bryan
Blondi. Wishing to retain complete control over their music,
they refused some offers and recorded this record in their own
studio. Their music borrows enormously to pop rock with very
efficient melodies and good rhythms.
Radius came four
years after his debut album, in the spring of 2015. A year later, a
new edition is issued with six new songs and a bonus alternate
version of the hit "Freedom". Allen Stone offers soul music
including pop rock and a few traces of blues. Even if he does have
soul in him, Stone goes a little bit too much in different
directions with moments that almost reach Maroon 5. And the
bonus songs do not help this fragmentation which is now on 21 tracks
totaling nearly 74 minutes. Allen Stone has a great talent of
performer, but he still failed to operate correctly in a style
resembling a little too much to Bruno Mars.
The Montreal indie rock band celebrates its 10th
anniversary this year and it is the opportunity to offer their third
album (excluding the one with Jerusalem in My Heart issued
last year). Suuns traveled to Dallas to record Hold/Still with
producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans).
The arrangements remain minimal, but they succeed every time to
mesmerize us. The group goes a little more into electronic music
with almost industrial moments ("Resistance"). Their heavy electro
beats may also recall PJ Harvey on occasions. If the first
half of the album manages to captivate us, the second otherwise
stretches somewhat long, especially with "Careful", lasting 7
endless minutes. Fortunately, the CD ends up nicely with the concise
and effective "Infinity", perfect to make us want to listen to the
album again, which will allow us to better appreciate it.
In 2009, Madcaps’ singer, Frédéric
Pellerin (aka Rico), momentarily left the band to start the solo
project They Call Me Rico. Two studio albums and a live album later,
he returns with This Time. He pursues his exploration of
blues and folk, his first love. He signed 10 new songs, lyrics and
music, and he started a rock turning point. The album was recorded
in analog and essentially live in two studios of the suburbs of
Lyon, including his newest studio, Magneto. The man band surrounds
for the occasion of Quebec and French musicians like Dominic
"Rock" Laroche (Voivod), Nicolas Grimard (Caiman
Fu) and violinist and keyboardist from Lyon Charlie Glad.
The mastering was done in London by Ray Staff (Muse,
The result is a blues rock sound rather dirty and extremely
effective, a sound both contemporary and garage.
Here is the 10th album in the career for Weezer,
the fourth simply identified by a color. We have to face the fact
that despite some great records, the blue, green and red albums
stand out in their now impressive discography. White must now be
added to the list. The band brought a breath of fresh air in 2014
Everything Will Be Alright in the End,
but could again renew with very good experiments. The strength of
Rivers Cuomo and his band is to successfully experiment while
remaining accessible and entertaining. Unforgettable melodies and
carrying rhythms reach the goal again, all in a short set of 10
tracks totaling 34 minutes.
The songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist and
producer from Toronto does almost everything on his new album, to
the coproduction with Bill Lefler. The only other
collaborations are those of Hannah Georgas and Felicity
Williams (Bahamas). With very little electronic
assistance, Ghost Light is essentially organic and warm. Wood
explores different sounds of guitars and percussion, adding piano
and orchestrations, which makes it very rich and extremely varied
pop rock music. The first single, "Long Way Out" gives an excellent
overview but this is the case throughout the 13 tracks. With
Ghost Light, Royal Wood gives a new take-off to his career by
taking the forefront of the Canadian pop rock scene. A surprising
and so pleasant record!
Born To Be Blue
is a film by Robert Budreau whose main character is legendary
jazz singer and trumpeter Chet Baker (played by Ethan
Hawke). Unfortunately, no original music by Baker was used in
the film (maybe for copyright reasons?). It’s rather Canadians
David Braid (piano) and Kevin Turcotte (trumpet) who play
jazz standards associated to Baker, and in a style that is apparent.
Many of the pieces presented are interpreted in a short version of
just over two minutes, which is not really a tribute to the original
work and that only serves the movie. In addition to the covers of
standards, there are some new compositions by Braid and original
songs by Charles Mingus ("Haitian Fight Song") and Odetta
("Go Down Sunshine"). But the most surprising part is to hear Ethan
Hawke sing two songs, including the highly successful "My Funny
Valentine", the one that is most associated with Baker. As it is
often the case with movie soundtracks, music serves only to
accompany the film and provides little value by itself. Playing the
old records of Chet Baker remains by far the best option.
God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
Blind Willie Johnson is a singer and guitarist from
Texas who lived between 1897 and 1945. He was proposing a mix of
blues and gospel with a rare intensity. On this tribute, producer
Jeffrey Gaskill has assembled leading musicians from the folk,
country and blues. Even Sinéad O'Connor comes to offer an
emotional version of "Trouble Will Soon Be Over". Other performers
include Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Cowboy Junkies,
Luther Dickinson, Maria McKee and Rickie Lee Jones.
Often covered by artists like
Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan,
Blind Willie Johnson influenced a whole generation of musicians. You
can hear it on this album that goes well beyond the tribute.
The compilation produced by Dave Cobb
wants to be a cry from the heart for southern music looking further.
It includes contemporary country artists exhibiting folk elements
and Americana. Although the influences of the past remain very
present, they seem to want more than ever to prove that this music
will remain alive in the future by subtly breaking some conventions.
The idea to refresh the sound of another era is interesting but may
cringe. Among the artists included on the album, you can hear
John Paul White, Jason Isbell, Brent Cobb,
Miranda Lambert, Morgan and Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown,
Shooter Jennings and Rich Robinson. This is an
interesting and pleasant album to listen to, but it is not clear who
this is for.
Five years after
Get Your Heart On!, the Montreal band
issues their fifth studio album. After more pop getaways, Simple
Plan return with their rock sound trending to pop punk, always in a
sweet and fun atmosphere. The songs are generally energetic, and
even when the band slows the pace, the pieces retain their
relevance. The band admits to having kept the best 14 compositions
from dozens and dozens of songs and it is easy to believe because it
is their best assembly of songs since their sensational debut in
2002. You can hear several guest artists as Jordan Pundik of
New found Glory and Nelly (for the instant hit in the
Maroon 5 style "I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed", we can also find a
second time as a bonus in a French version). Taking One For the
Team has several highlights ("Opinion Overload", "Everything
Sucks", "I Dream About You" in a duet with Juliet Simms), but
that's the whole CD that impresses by its constancy, a feat Simple
Plan has not been often successful in recent years. Here is an
effective pop punk album that draws the best of the genre while
being forward looking. A great entertainment!
(March 2016 Featured Review)
BrianJamesSledge(alias BJtheChicagoKid)has movedfrom Chicago to Los
of 19to start his
career as agospel
singer.After working withStevie Wonderanddifferentgospeland R&Bartists,
he finally releaseshis
first album, 10 yearsafter his debut. In My
Mindcontains severalsingleshe haspreviously issued for a
totalof 15 tracks
and more than62 minutes.BJoffers contemporaryR&Bmusicwith hugeinfluencesofclassic souland gospel. We also finda fewtracesofhip hop.This is an excellent
albumofR&Bthat BJtheChicagoKid offers us,a rich, creative and
comprehensive album that contains onlyvery fewweaknesses.It isperhapsjusta little too long,
since it is possibleto
lose interest, especially if one is notamong thebiggest fans ofR&B. (March
2016 Featured New Artist)
After nine albums, the Swedish metal band Amon
Amarth finally releases a first concept album. Jomsviking
tells the story of a brigand who got expelled from his village after
having "accidentally" disposed of the man who was to marry the woman
he loved. We follow his quest to win back his love. The vikings
offer an excellent mix of death metal and guitar harmonies like
Iron Maiden. Some riffs are particularly effective, as in
"Wanderer" for example. Few tracks will leave you indifferent on
this album that contains everything we loved from the band for
twenty years (speed, heaviness, precision, virtuosity).
Jomsviking is an excellent melodic metal album, certainly one of
the best in the career of Amon Amarth.
On her new album, Betty Bonifassi pursues her
exploration of the work of Alan Lomax reviving eight songs of
African slaves deported to America. She offers new versions of three
songs from her first album released in fall 2014, which leaves only
five new tracks. With a total of 31 minutes, Lomax looks
therefore more like an EP than a full-length album. Musically, Betty
goes a little more in pure blues with elements of rock, which
enriches the traditional songs. Also noteworthy is the significant
presence of female choir Les Marjo's giving a special color
to the album. Lomax wants to be an ideal companion to her
first album. Otherwise, it lacks some tracks to successfully truly
The singer-songwriter born in Ottawa has made a
name in Canada with his unique alternative country style. Absent on
record in recent years, he is back with Somewhere We Will Find
Our Place. This is an album of 10 tracks totaling 39 minutes
that has many good compositions to folk trend. Throughout the album,
his voice seems to whisper in our ears his sweet melodies, which is
nice. He certainly does not revolutionize the genre, but he still
stands some of the most interesting artists of the current Canadian
country folk scene.
The indie pop singer from Toronto releases her
fourth album with Good Advice. She decided to give the
production to her friend and collaborator Jim James (My
Morning Jacket) and she even drove to his studio in Louisville,
Kentucky. Less folk than her previous works, the album contains
electric guitar, synthesizers and a rhythm section that support a
little more her charming voice. It therefore has a more pop sound,
as if she finally came out of her shell to show what she can really
do with her voice, both in emotion and in power. Certainly her most
accessible record to date, Good Advice shows also Basia Bulat
at her best. An excellent album by an artist at the peak of her art!
After having inflatedthebluesbars inChicagoand having becomeanational staratChicagoBluesFestivalin 2015,ToronzoCannonis ready toconquer the
he presents11original songsandhe gives credit tothe
new generation ofbluesmenfromthe Windy City.
He offersbluesinthe styleofChicagoin which heshowsall his virtuosity.
Without revolutionizingthe genre,ToronzoCannonmanaged topursue the
traditionin a great way with TheChicagoWay.
For fansof the genre,bluesis still alive and
The former member of the Backstreet Boys,
the youngest of the group, releases his third solo album, two years
after his tandem with Jordan Knight. He offers melodic pop
music, sometimes energetic, with elements of rock. The first track,
"19 in 99", sounds like Simple Plan in their most accessible
times. Then, on "Get Over Me", Avril Lavigne sings with him,
when he reminds us of new wave in the style of the Gogo's in
"Tijuana". Carter even tries to reggae in "Second Wind". Very often
on the CD the envelope added seems superfluous and above all cheap.
"Swet" gives the best example of it with cheap synths and brass that
are suffocating in the back. After the few catchy tracks over,
Carter seems to have nothing more interesting to offer us. The good
surprise did not last long!
The Australian band that mixes rock and reggae music
is back with its seventh album.
Recorded in Melbourne with producer Jan Skubiszewski (Jon
Butler Trio), Rising With the Sun pursues in the
atmosphere created by the group on its tour of the biggest
The Cat Empire have indeed played in front of more than 500,000
people during their last world tour, including a significant
presence at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and a sold-out
concert at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London.
The band therefore has once again effective rhythms and perfect
melodies to sing in chorus in a crowd of several thousand people.
World beats come again to add richness to the pop rock songs of the
band, along with a significant presence of brass.
The songs were quickly created in the studio from simple ideas or
This therefore results in a greatly refreshing spontaneity to very
pleasant music to listen to, to be discovered on stage.
Note also that the cover was created by Australian artist Aaron
The Brazilian female singer releases her fourth
album with Tropix. She still extends a little more her
musical horizons with the incorporation of electro to her Brazilian
music, allowing her at the same time to pursue her evolvement.
Despite the use of synthesizers, the music of Céu remains warm,
perfect music for a late night cozy atmosphere. There are many nods
to the past with references to disco and new wave, but always with
an eye to the future. Céu signs 11 of the 12 songs on the record,
the twelfth being a cover of Fellini’s "Chico Buarque Song",
an obscure Brazilian band. Again Céu manages to seduce us. An
Dan SanisaBelgianindiefolk bandthatreturns with asecondalbuma little moreethereal. After aquestioning period, the
back strongly.They trustedthis timeYannArnaud (Air,
Phoenix, Syd Matters)
whichwas seducedby the projectand wanted
preferreda live recording in the
studio tocapture theemotionand essence oftheir music.Also notethe arrival of
multi-instrumentalistOlivierMarguerit who givesa new lightto the songsby addingsynthetic
sounds. This therefore results ina lessfolkand more contemporaryalbumthat blendsacoustic instruments and
synthesizers.Without alteringtheir early influences, the band
reallygoes to anotherlevel andapproacha little morethe styleofPatrickWatsonfor example.
A year and a half ago, the Quebec rap group issued
their first album,
Montréal $ud, which allowed them to
get a critical and popular success in Quebec, in addition to going
on tour in France. Now to the forefront of the Quebec rap scene, the
Dead Obies are back with a new album with an unpronounceable title
which is tailor made for the stage. In fact, part of the 81-minute
album was recorded live at a series of three sold-out concerts at
the Phi Centre in Montreal. The band resumes to mix styles, both
vocally (joual, slang, Creole, French and English) and musically
(hip hop, soul, R&B and electro). They still explore new avenues
with powerful bass and ethereal synthesizers for music of vaporous
atmosphere that is felt more than it is heard. This is a very good
album that offer the Dead Obies, a creative and varied album. Its
only problem is that it is too long and could be synthesized to make
it more consistent. Fans from the debut will surely appreciate
Angel Forrest has a career of already 27 years
and she comes to us now with her 10th album. For the occasion, she
paid tribute to 11 guitarists allowing them to play each on one of
the 11 songs on this record. They include Rob MacDonald,
Ricky Paquette, Paul Deslauriers, Steve Hill,
Adam Karch, and several other great Canadian blues rock
guitarists. Although she gives room to each of the guitarists, Angel
dominates them all with her powerful and gravelly voice, which is
immediately recognizable. Angel's 11 contains mostly blues at
the base, but with a mix of rock and jazz that makes it varied and
complete. It lacks only some compositions a little more prominent to
make a great album of blues, considering the quality of the
The Toronto singer is best known as the frontman of
The Lowest of the Low, but he also has excellent solo albums
Greasing the Star Machine(1998) and
Crackstatic (2000). On this new
album, he offers a great mix of alternative rock and classic rock,
occasionally flirting with rockabilly ("Strum and Drag"). He offers
some very good compositions that require us to stomp. Otherwise, the
whole may be somewhat uneven with frankly boring songs.
The Quebec virtuoso guitarist is back with his
Solo Recordings Volume 3.
He is again offering powerful blues rock, to the limits of hard rock
on several occasions.
More importantly, he continues to play the one-man band playing
everything by himself.
He must be seen alone on stage with his guitar and his drums to
discover the immensity of his talent.
Although he has several songs that quite move, Hill also has some
more melodic tracks on acoustic bases ("Slowly Slipping Away",
"Troubled Times" and "Emily").
He also reinvented three songs among the 12 tracks of the album:
"Still a Fool & a Rollin Stone", "Rollin & Tumblin / Stop Breaking
Down" and "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad".
With Solo Recordings Volume 3, Steve Hill presents perhaps
his best album to date, a diverse but cohesive album to the end that
perfectly highlights the virtuosity of this amazing guitarist.
TheJamesHunterSix is aBritish soulband aroundJamesHunter.For theirfourthalbum, the
first for Daptone
Recording,they decidedto go toCaliforniaand record10 songsdirectly toan 8-track.
The result isa mono
morethe atmosphereof the 1950s which isat
music of thesextet.
Nostalgia isdecidedlyat the rendezvous, but
the varietyin compositionsimpressesgreatlyeven thoughthere are
only30 minutesofmusic. Soulis blendedwithelementsofR&B, funk andMotownfor a richsoundfrom another era.
Hold On!isa customalbumfor nostalgic fans.
On his fifth album, the
Montreal singer has a pair of songs in French among the 13 tracks
offered, including the strong first single, "Montreal". For the
record, Ian Kelly had been stolen from his album while it was on a
hard drive in his car. Fortunately, it could be recovered and it is
now released. SuperFolk pursues in the same acoustic style to
which he has accustomed us, usually on guitar, but sometimes on
piano. You can hear many unforgettable melodies, performed with the
solidity that surprises us every time. We do not listen to the songs
of Ian Kelly, we live them! He is again right on target with
SuperFolk and let’s bet he will still create quite a stir in the
The Boston metal band is back after the
disappointing reunion with singer Jesse Leach for the
Disarm the Descent album in 2013.
The album still managed to get his share of success, but now the
expectations are huge regarding Incarnate. The group does not
lose its hardcore fury, but it makes more inroads into melodic death
metal and progressive metal. So they manage to somewhat reinvent
themselves, all in a magnificent production. As the voice of Leach
and guitars, everything is clear and in its place for a sound that
reminds us the best of Pantera in the 1990s. It is perhaps
only a little too clean for metalcore fans, but you can listen to it
really easily. Killswitch Engage therefore propose an album with
greatly effective melodies enhanced by flawless execution. Without
returning to the greatest years of the band, Incarnate
succeeds where the previous record failed: presenting a united group
The Knocks is a New York duo formed in 2008 and
composed of James "JPatt" Patterson and Ben "DJ B-Roc"
Ruttner. The duo first produced remixes for Katy Perry
("I Kissed a Girl"), Britney Spears ("3") and Chris Brown
("Beautiful People") before releasing EPs. The DJs and producers now
issue their first album including rather soft pop / house dance
music taking into soul, funk, disco and rap. The 15 tracks on 55
include several songs previously released as singles or on their
EPs. So we feel to discover a collection of greatest hits
("Classic", "Dancing With Myself", "Collect My Love", "I Wish (My
Taylor Swift)"). Yet, all stands fairly well and is still listening
as an album. We hear many guests as Cam'Ron, Powers,
Fetty Wap, Wyclef Jean, X Ambassadors,
Matthew Koma, Alex Newell (Glee), Justin
Tranter (Semi Precious Weapons), Walk the Moon,
Carly Rae Jepsen, etc. In the dance music genre, this is a very
For his sixth album, Ray Lamontagne still wanted to
mix things up by bringing aboard Jim James (My Morning
Jacket) as co-producer. He retains the fuzzy blues guitar
brought previously by Dan Auerbach, but he goes more than
ever in old English psychedelic rock, somewhere between Cream
and Pink Floyd.
Comparisons with Van Morrison can permanently disappear when
there is nothing more soul in the voice of the American on
Ouroboros. He offers a rather old dirty rock sound with complex
experimental requiring a lot of patience to actually understand it.
Ouroboros is an ambitious record, but not fully mastered.
The songwriter and performer from California
releases his seventh album on which he seems particularly haunted by
a broken love. Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet in fact
contains a blend of dark songs in which sadness or depression are
accentuated by synthesizers, piano and electronic rhythms. The
atmosphere is not uninteresting, but it becomes heavy in the long
run and it is not likely to get you back on track after a
separation. Laswell has an incredible talent for melody, as well as
for cinematic pop and orchestral music, but there is a bit much this
time. It creates a distance with the listener who wants at all costs
to get out of this depressing atmosphere. He managed at least to
finish strong with "Not Surprised" but it’s only if you have been
able to go further without letting go.
Following the runaway success of
The Heist, awarded a Grammy, the duo
rapper / producer is back with its second album.
For the occasion, they put everything together with a huge sound,
certainly a bit too much at times.
Immoderation looks pretty good, but it quickly becomes dizzying
after the great hit "Downtown" even in the softest songs.
Guest artists are everywhere throughout the 13 songs totaling nearly
You can hear Mike Slap, KRS, Ed Sheeran,
Leon Bridges, XP, Carla Morrison, and many others.
The duo constantly wanders between hip hop and pop, with each its
Otherwise, the whole remains destabilizing and inconsistent.
With such a dense album, it’s difficult to want to listen to it
immediately when it finishes.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perhaps were trying to go for a new
Grammy, but they tried a little too much.
Miike Snow is a Swedish electro pop trio whose two
members are best known under the name of Bloodshy & Avant and
produced hits for Britney Spears, Madonna and
This third album, cleverly titled iii, possibly introduces
what the trio has recorded best to date.
It comes four years after the disappointing
Happy To You.
What we particularly like about iii is the injection of a
healthy dose of soul in their avant-garde pop music.
On some occasions, the band takes an introspective and melancholic
trend, but the whole is rather entertaining with well supported
The melodies remain effective throughout the CD that contains in
addition much creativity, despite some nods to the past with among
others the use of old synthesizers.
Female singer Charlie XCX just gives an energy boost to "For
U", and we can hear samples of jazz and soul singer Marlena Shaw
in the first single, "Heart is Full".
Another highlight comes to us with the excellent hit "Genghis Khan",
not to mention the surprising "Over and Over" that flirts with
For a very good album of creative pop music, you cannot be wrong
Orbis is the
seventh album by Quebec harpist Valérie Milot, who is again
accompanied by the Violons du Roy. After well-known works for
harp and orchestra of the classical and romantic periods, she takes
a much more contemporary direction going into rarely explored
territories for harp. So she performs works of Canadian Marjan
Mozetich, Americans Steve Reich and John Cage,
Quebec violinist and arranger Antoine Bareil, as well as two
songs by leading progressive rock artists, Gentle Giant and
Frank Zappa. Many of the pieces presented install an ethereal
atmosphere to the limits of new age. But above all, the album shows
all the possibilities of this instrument which is among the oldest
stringed instruments. In addition to the Violons du Roy directed by
Mathieu Lussier, you can hear the clear voice of soprano
Marianne Lambert on the song "Castile in 1382" which was
specifically composed for Valérie Milot by Antoine Bareil, inspired
by Jacob Senleches. Here is an album of harp like you've
never heard of.
The Montreal-based artist is back on record after
five years of absence. Roxanne Potvin pursues the shift started on
Play with a much more pop sound
than before, even though folk is still well present. Her rich and
melodic music also leaves room for her virtuosity as a guitarist.
Then she participated in all stages of the creative process, from
writing to production, she expresses herself more than ever in her
songwriting with intimate and very personal music. This is certainly
her most accomplished work to date, an album tailored for fans of
contemporary and intelligent pop music.
The Swedish DJ now based in Los Angeles, also a
member of Swedish House Mafia, has worked hard in recent
years, but he issues now his first album of original material. We
previously knew him for his covers or remixes, including his version
of Steve Winwood’s "Call On Me" with a music video that
gained much attention, or "Proper Education", a dance version of
"Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2". It is a double album of 19
tracks totaling two hours of music that he gives us with Opus.
He offers an inescapable progressive house music as much for fans of
electronic music as for simple dancers who cannot leave the dance
floor. Highlights abound throughout the CDs with "Black Dyce", "Floj",
"Breathe" and many others. It is important not to forget the epic
title track to the very end that gradually builds over nine minutes
to become a favorite of both house and trance clubs. In fact, Prydz
may have taken his time before releasing his first "opus", but the
wait was worth the cost since he offers one of the best albums in
the genre for a long time.
The Acadian electro-rap duo arrives with its
fifth album, but this time, completely in English. Although their
music fits beautifully the language of Shakespeare, we particularly
appreciated their uniqueness when they were singing in chiac. On
Light the Sky, Radio Radio seem determined more than ever to
make us dance, with custom concocted beats for the dance floors. The
arrival of two talented beatmakers in Shash'U and J.u.D.
to replace Arthur Comeau certainly adds to the festive
atmosphere that is full of energy. Despite this unstoppable energy,
Radio Radio is less successful in capturing our attention on this
new album that seems a bit too much like the mass of the genre
recordings. Radio Radio guys may very well sing in English if they
wish, but a few songs in chiac should always be part of their world,
since that is where they really shine.
After 45 years of career and now 66 years old,
Bonnie Raitt is still present in the American blues rock landscape.
Dig in Deep is delivered to us four years after the
Slipstream, and this is the 20th
album of her career. The record was produced by Bonnie except
"You've Changed My Mind", recorded in 2010, which was written and
produced by Joe Henry, the very man who had produced her
previous record. Bonnie signs five of the 12 songs on the CD, in
addition to do a very nice new version of INXS’ "Need You
Tonight" and Los Lobos’ "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes". Again, her
slide guitar and her voice dominate this varied album that includes
a superb blend of energetic and mid-tempo tracks, as well as two
ballads in conclusion, the composition of Joe Henry and "The Ones We
Couldn’t Be". Bonnie Raitt managed again to offer us a solid album
in the genre.
is back withher thirdalbum.Heramalgamation ofstylesremains asrelevantas shepursues todeftlywalk the linebetweencommercialandindie popmusic. On 99Cents, she joined
electro elementstooftenaccessiblepopmusicwhich also hasitsunsettlingtimes.In fact,whatis the mostunsettlingwithSantigoldis that shestilloffersboth ahighlycreativepopsoundthroughout the12 tracks.
Although itis hermost accessiblealbum to
date, few titles
stand outfrom the whole and aftera fewlistensyouwillcertainlyaccepther own world.Anothergood recordforthe American artist!
The Small Glories is a folk duo from Winnipeg,
Manitoba, which issues its debut album. Cara Luft and JD
Edwards give us acoustic folk music with a mastery of their
instruments: guitar, banjo and vocals. Both could well make separate
careers, but when they come together, magic happens and they become
a powerful tandem. Produced by Neil Osborne (54-40),
the disc recorded "live to tape" beautifully showcases the talent of
the two musicians, their vocal harmonies and the quality of their
compositions. Here is an excellent folk album, certainly one of the
best of the year so far!
After four years of waiting, the female singer
and bassist is finally back with her fifth album. This time, she
leaves out jazz and Latin standards by taking a different direction.
She proposes instead a concept album around the character of Emily
(which is her middle name). Musically, there are still elements of
jazz, but above all it could be described as experimental pop rock.
She co-produced the album with the legendary Tony Visconti (David
Bowie) and the result is a mix of
progressive rock with aggressive guitars, energetic fusion jazz and
poetic pop music. It's a mix that surprises at first and may be
scaring for many of her longtime fans. Otherwise, the creative
richness of this record makes it a unique work for the artist,
surely her most eclectic record to date.
Three years afterarockalbumwith
theMalian female singerreturns to afolk styleincorporatingworld music,
especially African of
course. This sixth
stillin civil war.
Stillproduced by JohnParish (PJ
Harvey), the intimaterecordis basedon subtlerhythms andinventiveacoustic
go betweenBambara,Frenchandeven English, among others
on "Strange Fruit," a
popular byBillie Holiday.The lyricsalso seem tobecome more important
than everin the work ofRokiaTraoré.
Banhart, even if they do notdo so muchnotice.
NéSois an albumthat providesa great feeling of
Underworld – Barbara Barbara,
We Face a Shining Future
For their new album, Rick Smith and
Karl Hyde started a unique writing process, writing a new song
every day without much thinking. This resulted a few weeks later in
several interesting compositions on which they could put a little
more effort and then get to this album of nine tracks exceeding 55
minutes. Ultimately, that creative process has surely been
beneficial for the British duo as they introduce their best album in
15 years, maybe even the best since
Second Toughest in the Infants
issued 20 years ago. With their style of techno and progressive
house, which sometimes slows the pace, they certainly give a nod to
their best years, but Underworld (the music directors of the opening
ceremony of the London Games in 2012) remain well oriented to the
future. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future is a
leading electronic album, an important addition to the Underworld
Narcissistic, egocentric, megalomaniac apply
increasingly to Kanye West while he was claiming for quite some time
to be about to release the best album in history. After various
title changes, he finally presented his new album at a mega release
concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 11,
before returning to the studio in the following days to touch up
some of the 18 tracks of The Life of Pablo. Not so perfect
ultimately this album Mr. West! The album finally reappeared in his
final version a few days later on the Tidal sharing platform (owned
by his friend Jay-Z), but West was quick to declare that it
would not be available elsewhere. Result: The Life of Pablo
is nowhere in the Billboard top 200, while four of his previous
albums are there. It feels more like a professional suicide...
However, that's a shame because the album has great times, even
brilliant passages worthy of the greatest hip hop recordings in
history. The first half includes experiments somewhat unsettling,
but we discover a few gems whose opening piece, "Ultralight Beam",
and very good moments of soul, R&B and even gospel. We only have to
avoid paying attention to his lyrics in which he loves himself too
much (for example in "I Love Kanye"). The second half has more
conventional hip hop, but with the usual creative flair of Kanye
West. Andwhat about thesurprise appearanceofKendrick Lamarforthe excellent "No More
The album certainly contains inequalities, but there are enough
prominent compositions to make it one of the best albums to date in
2016. By tightening it a bit, he might have been able to approach
the so desired perfection, but it seems that he finally failed...
After the success of its first album and the huge
tour that followed, the band now based in Nashville is back with its
second album, Lonely is a Lifetime. One still finds traces of
the classic American rock sound of their debut, but the group
expands its sound well beyond. One can even hear big influences of
brit pop with bands like Oasis and Blur that can come
to mind at various times. As much their style can now be easily
screened in an arena context, they move away a bit from what wowed
the audience at start, their very Americana side near its roots.
Here, everything is a little too clean and this is too much, for a
pop rock album that probably will appeal to the general public, but
which should leave their fans indifferent and orphans.
After his Stages album in 2015 that
revisits classic musicals like Broadway’s, Josh Groban has carried
these timeless songs on stage in Los Angeles. This is the show that
is presented on an 87-minute DVD with the best moments on CD. We can
hear among others parts from the Phantom of the Opera, Les
Misérables and Carousel, in addition to "Le temps des
cathédrales" from Notre-Dame de Paris. You can even hear an
excerpt of the movie The Wizard of Oz, "Over the Rainbow".
There are two exceptional duets with Kelly Clarkson and
Audra McDonald, the latter in a live studio recording since she
could not be on stage the night of the concert. The DVD features a
large show with many musicians on stage. We can find in bonus a
22-minute behind-the-scenes documentary. As for the CD, it contains
a bonus studio track for "Unusual Way". The DVD will certainly
appeal to the fans of the singer.
Vinyl: Music From the HBO Original Series Volume 1
The new HBO series created by Mick Jagger
gained much attention even before its premiere. It depicts the world
of rock music in the 1970s. This compilation presents 18 songs from
the series. There are of course rock music from the 1970s, but also
soul and R&B from the 1950s and 1960s. Rock moments include David
Johansen (from the New York Dolls), Mott The Hoople
(with "All the Way From Memphis"), The Edgar Winter Group
(with "Frankenstein") and Foghat (with "I Just Want to Make
Love to You"). The 1950s and 1960s are represented among others by
Otis Redding (with "Mr. Pitiful") and Ruth Brown (with
"Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean"). We can also hear of course the
theme song of the series, "Sugar Daddy" by Sturgill Simpson.
Some more obscure songs complete the set for a full picture of the
time and to make us travel back 40 years ago.
Two days after the release of Blackstar on
January 8, which was also the day of his 69th birthday, we learned
the death of David Bowie, as the result of a long battle against
cancer. He almost managed to conceal the last 18 months of his life,
cloistered for recording what would be his last work of a long and
successful career. For this new album, Bowie does not hesitate to
experiment. There are a few references to the past, but he still
manages to innovate. After all, he contributed directly to put
forward several styles throughout his career, so it's not a small
cancer that would prevent him to remain at the forefront! Two songs
were already presented in 2014 to promote the collection Nothing
Has Changed ("Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)" and "Tis a Pity She
Was a Whore"), and they have been revamped for Blackstar.
Moreover, this new record contains two snapshot masterpieces with
the 10-minute title song and "Lazarus" (in which he prepared his own
death). Despite its 40 minutes total, with only 7 tracks,
Blackstar feels a little like an unfinished work when it ends
with "I Can’t Give Everything Away". Yet this is still his most
in 35 years. A great way to say goodbye! (February
2016 Featured Review)
Coasts was formed in 2011 in Bristol, England. The
quintet releases its first album in an indie rock / new wave style
incorporating electronic elements. We can compare them more easily
to American bands like Imagine Dragons and X Ambassadors
than to English bands. Otherwise, there is the Irish Two Door
Cinema Club that can also come to mind with a rock sound
generally danceable. The rhythms dictated by drums dominate the
record with power. But also memorable melodies occupy a more than
important place in the music of Coasts with catchy choruses that
will be sang along with great pleasure at their concerts, surely
huge ones soon. A simple listening of "Modern Love" quickly gives an
overview of all their rallying potential. "Oceans", "You", "Your
Soul" and "Tonight" are the other cornerstones of this 16-track CD.
Some pieces come to slow down the beat on occasions but, despite its
60 minutes, the album maintains a certain consistency to the end.
Some tracks in less would only have further tightened a little more
this excellent album. (February 2016
Featured New Artist)
Ten years ago, the French duo had a remarkable debut
with the hit "Lili". Simon Buret and Olivier Coursier
now have a new album of aerial electro-pop, with influences of
Radiohead and Portishead. The space atmospheres of the
record are always hypnotic, and we end up more than once not really
listening but rather just following this dark music that takes to
the guts. Depeche Mode are never far in the music of AaRON.
Some irresistible melodies require us to sing with them, among
others in "The Leftovers" and "Blouson noir". Otherwise, light times
are rather rare and We Cut the Night instead offers the
perfect music to live at night. With this new album, AaRON managed
to renew in a very nice way for an impressive record. Impressive by
its atmospheres and unique power of attraction. To listen to from
beginning to end!
The singer and songwriterfrom New Brunswick
alreadyhas his seventhalbum,following the
success ofWeightlessissuedin 2014.Recorded in NewYork
City with producer
(Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse,Santana,Quincy
Jones), Honest Manpresentsespeciallythe personal side ofMattAndersen,alsowithpolitical topics.
Thisis an intimatebluessound that gives us
the artist, with a strong folk,
country and evenR&B
for the first timewe discoverelectroelements(sampling,drum loops,
etc.) that caneasilybe consideredunnecessaryin Andersen’s music, as he is
at his best inaguitar-voice naked style.
Among the songsto
pay particular attention to, there is the touchingballad "I'm Giving In"
which will surely leave
One day on a beach of the US East Coast, Quebec
composer and guitarist Michel Cusson saw a woman throw to the sea in
panic all her family photos. She seemed to want to erase her past.
Unable to let those memories disappear, Cusson recovered the photos
and forgot them in a box for years. The day he decided to take a
glance, these pictures became the inspiration for a personal musical
project. Matured for ten years, Solo includes nine
instrumental pieces influenced by this reconstructed story from
altered images of an unknown life. Cusson offers an atmospheric and
cinematic sound blending jazz and world music, with even some
touches of Arabic music. The virtuoso guitarist manages to make us
travel and he is varying the emotions transmitted from one song to
another. Again, Michel Cusson managed to upset by his huge talent as
a composer and musician.
The progressive metal band never does things by
halves and so once again with The Astonishing, an album of 34
songs in two acts exceeding 130 minutes.
It was perhaps their own way of celebrating their 30-year career.
Guitarist John Petrucci has created a rock opera of science
fiction that exceeds anything the band could offer previously in
He just invented a new country for which we can find the map in the
booklet, a country that prohibits music created or played by humans,
relying on a small group of rebels to perpetuate the tradition.
For this grandiose album produced by Petrucci, the group was
accompanied by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and three
choirs, all directed by David Campbell (Beck's
This is the singer James LaBrie that ensures the voices of
the characters, while all the music seems headed by the keyboards,
pianos and organs of Jordan Rudess.
Obviously, the guitar playing of John Petrucci is still
hallucinating, a musician who is considered by many as one of the
best guitarists in the world.
His performance in "A Better Life" is particularly remarkable, even
if he plays a little fewer solos than usual on the album.
Few songs stand out of the lot, but the album was initially designed
to be listened to in full, an exercise rather challenging but
We cannot say that The Astonishing rivals the greatest rock
operas in history as
but it offers great moments of satisfaction and will certainly
delight the many hardcore fans of the band.
After twoalbums thathave gotattentionin 2013 and2014, theLouisianarapperis back withIslah. Unlikemost otherartists in the
genre, he is not
surrounded by abunch ofcollaborators, but
he rather presentsa
personal work. The only exception isfor abonus track,"Jam", on whichhe is accompanied by
TyDolla$ignandJamieFoxx.Therecent newlywedgives way tohisromantic feelingsin a
up in amacho atmospheretypical to east coast rap.
He also deals with
toughertopics likedrug-dealing, prison, depression
and suicidal thoughts.
than in the pastwith several layersperfectlymerging intoa richsound thatis veryinterestingtodiscover throughoutthe CD.Here is a verygood albumbya rapper whohas abright future.
The Manchester England trio was introduced primarily as an
experimental jazz trio. But it goes far beyond the traditional jazz
piano trio by integrating electronic elements (not using computers),
trip hop, brit pop and indie rock. In fact, they borrow as much to
Radiohead and Massive Attack than to some of the most
innovative jazz standards. Brad Mehldau and St Germain
may also come to mind. The virtuosity of the three musicians leaves
no doubt as the drums of Rob Turner may seem straight out of
a preprogrammed beat box and the piano of Chris Illingworth
beautifully replaces any other instrument, including voice. The
powerful bass of Nick Blacka fills in the space to make an
album of a surprising richness. The 10 instrumental tracks that
offers the band impress by their creativity, even if after a while
the surprise is a little less present. Despite its complexity,
Man Made Project is listening admirably well to the end.
For his new album, the veteran English singer and
pianist seems determined to have fun again, if we go by the title,
the front cover and most of the lyrics by Bernie Taupin, his
faithful collaborator. Elton John brings back his touring musicians
for the first time since 2006 and it is once again T-Bone Burnett
who produced it, the one who had worked on the duet album with
The Union, in 2010. His sound of the
1970s could well recover old fans, but unfortunately after the first
songs, most compositions fall flat and give us very little fun in
the end. One can find the CD nice to listen at different times, but
there is little chance that we want to return to it again, which is
the sign of an album that lacks inspiration and misses its target.
Wonderful Crazy Night is therefore far from the album that
would have marked a return to the genius of Elton John in the 1970s.
Lake StreetDive isa Bostonquartetfeaturing
There is ablend of
influencesfrom 1960srockto the music ofMotown, certainlywithajazz background.SidePonyis theirfourthalbum and
they pursue the samepath
as before. Their musicis centeredon the voiceofRachaelPrice, andalthoughthe album wasrecorded in Nashville,
thereisno traceof country,a style thatwas also part oftheir
influencesat their debut.
Among the remarkable
moments of theCD
there arein particular"I Don’t Care About You",
which seems like a cross
andJanisJoplin,and thedisco/soul"Can’t Stop" which contains
a sample of"Love Pains",
a 1978hit by
Major Lance. The
album featuresseveralinteresting elements, especially
for the nostalgic fans.
Otherwise, there are very
MajidJordanis a Torontoduo formed of singerMajid Al
Maskatiand producer JordanUllman. Endorsed byDrake, they issue
a first albumfocused onmoodsand R&Brhythms that makestomp.
They remainespeciallyeffective whentheir
beatscan be carriedonthe dance floor,
because in somesongs forlate eveningsas "Love
Is Always There" and
"Warm", they become downrightannoying. Fortunately,
there are thosemid-tempoballadsin limited
quantities. Catchy melodiesandexcitingrhythmsarecomfortingandwerealizethat this first album by
the duois notso
badafter all.Tolisten to in skippingsome tracksto keepthe pleasure.
Makayais a MontrealCreole jazz
quintet.After a first albumin 2009,the band returnswithElements.It contains11 tracks,
four songsand seveninstrumentalpieces,
covers specifically includethe first single,
"Gwog Mwen", a1963standardof Haitian music
performed bytheJazz des
Jeunes (Youth Jazz)
andoften revisitedsince. We can also heartheirunique versionof a traditionalHaitianfolkpiece"Peze Kafe"
attributed toLinaMathon. Theirjazzmusic, whichuses nodrums,draws heavily inAfrican
rootsthat have shapedCreole music. Theireffectivebeatsquicklycreate anirresistibleattraction
is no betterway to
celebrate theMonthofBlack History.
Matt DuskandFlorenceKcombinetheir voicesto offer usan albumof great
reminiscent of crooner musicfrom another era. Theverysymbioticduoperforms great
standardslike "Girl of
mots stupides/Somethin' Stupid"
and "You Are the Sunshine ofMy Life". Quiet Nightsis undoubtedlyan albumof choice forValentine's
Day, a retro album
yet but modernat the same time.
ModernSpaceis a Torontoquintetwhich is issuing
seventracks totalingnearly 25minutes.They offer usanenergetic rocksoundwithgreatlyeffective pop melodies.
has extensivestage experiencewith bandslikeThe Vaccinesand
TheArkellsand let’s bet that
withsongs ascatchyandfun tosingtheyare very successfulin concert.A firstfull-length albumshould
certainlybe eagerly awaitedbecause we can certainlyhear about them for a
Monster Truckis a band fromHamilton,
Ontario,which gives into
classic rockand rock 'n'
roll, but alsowithbluesinfluences.Their musicfocuses onawall of guitarsandeffective beats.
Their second album,
Sittin' Heavy, was produced byEricRatz(BillyTalent),
and it continues in the sameraw energyasdemonstratedbefore.On "For the People" can
Wreck) as a guest.
Evenif the album
will not reverseanyrockbarrierthat does not already
some tracksstand outof the lot: "Don’t
Tell Me How ToLive",
"She's a Witch"
and "The Enforcer".
The Las Vegas band is back with their fifth
album. It offers an excellent mix of emo and pop rock with great
theatricality. Death of a Bachelor represents the vision of
singer Brendon Urie whose marriage in 2013 marked "the death
of his bachelor life". Urie co-produced the almost concept album
with Jake Sinclair (P!nk, Taylor Swift, Five
Seconds of Summer). The group explores a more expansive sound
with some hip hop elements, Queen-like
exuberance, gospel inspirations ("Hallelujah"), and even phrasing
like Sinatra (the ballad "Impossible Year" at the conclusion
of the CD). A sampling of "Rock Lobster" of The B-52's comes
to give life to the excellent "Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time".
Death of a Bachelor is a grand production that pursues in the
direction taken by the band in the last few years and still less and
less punk rock.
The singerfrom New Jerseyalready
had a huge successwith"Marvin Gaye"
(featuring Meghan Trainor),
the first single fromhisfirst album. The CDopensstrongly withthe unforgettable"One
Call Away", but
unfortunately it goes out of steamvery quickly withabuseof ballads andmid-temposongsthat becomedownrightboringoverthe CDbeforehand.Itis thereforeeasy tolimit ourselves to the
first three tracksanddropeverything afterthe excellent "Marvin
Gaye", with Motown
The work onAntibeganmore than a year
ago, in the fall of2014.Despiteseveral singles
that appearedin 2015like "Bitch BetterHave MyMoney",
none of these hitsisincluded on the album, probably
becausetheydid not fitin the
special atmosphereof the record.Antiis indeedan album that is
listeningas a whole,rather than abunchof hits. It includesa beautifulsensitivity,
enhanced bythe uniqueatmosphereof the CD.The focus ismuch moreonthe atmosphere
than onbeats andcatchypopmelodies, as it was
especiallythe casein the past forRihanna.This therefore results in
her mostconsistent and coherentalbum to date, not bad for
a pop singer who is often
overlooked.Here's whatcould prove to beone of
the bestpop/R&Balbums of the year.
The Londonband, which had taken a
long breakin the 2000s,
is back with asecondalbumin three years.
Thoughts, the leaderBrettAndersonseems to reacha new
level of maturityand the result istheband's best albuminover 20 years.
Both grandand intimate,
the album placed onwhat
the grouphas alwaysdone best, intelligentBrit popmusic thatrequires a minimum of
stand outof the lot, and
wemust focus on the
whole. NightThoughtsisperhaps nota concept
album, but the piecesare linkedbeautifullyto form a wholethat is
important not tosplit.
The albumstill reachesits climaxat the fifthtrackwiththe epic"I Don’t
Know How ToReachYou",whichexceeds 6minutes.Here is asuperbalbumforSuede, an album that is
wantto return to it.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is an American collective assembled around
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. They have set a
particularly rich blues rock sound incorporating piano, organ and
brass to the electric guitars. Susan's voice also adds a nice color
to the set that will satisfy demanding fans of blues rock. The
Tedeschi Trucks Band is very pleasant to listen to and it is
certainly a good fun to discover on stage.
The Temperance Movementisarock 'n' rollBritish band releasing
their secondalbum,White Bear. They
offera sound sometimeshardrock withbluesinfluences.The 1970s arenever far
awayand they seem
rathernostalgic of thegood yearsof rock.As much as some songs are energetic, the
album also offers some
softermoments, likeinthe versesofthe title track
for example, whenthe
right in theface
afterwards.Without revolutionizingrock music,The
Temperance Movementcome to us withan interestingand
entertainingoption.The groupwill be
performing atMontreal’sCorona on March 9opening forMonster
Truck, a band they tour withacross Canada.
Toothgrinder is a hardcore metal band from New
Jersey which arrives with its first full-length album after the
Schizophrenic Jubilee EP. They
have a fairly violent music, but also with some moments of
"softness" integrated into several songs. The guttural voice
certainly does nothing melodic, but the guitars very often catch our
attention for an overall sound that is not too aggressive in the
end. The tempo changes continuously, just to keep us on the alert,
and they manage to maintain our curiosity throughout the CD. Without
revolutionizing post-hardcore, Toothgrinder offers an intelligent
alternative to everything we hear on the market.
The French trumpeter returns with a new album in quartet formula
accompanied by Benoit Corboz, Marcello Giuliani and
Arthur Hnatek (replacing Marc Erbetta on drums). Doni
Doni offers jazz music very strongly inspired by African music.
Malian singer Rokia Traoré sings on four songs, then you can
hear the rapper Oxmo Puccino, also born in Mali, in
conclusion of the album on "Le complément du verbe". The other half
of the CD still remains instrumental with jazz music that
occasionally flirts with instrumental pop. Doni Doni is nice
to listen to from beginning to end.
With Résonances boréales, the Montreal
pianist, known as an accompanist for silent films, presents a unique
project. Inspired by the northern lights during a car ride to the
Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, Roman Zavada had the idea of a
dialogue between the northern lights and the piano. After going once
to the Northwest Territories in 2013 for inspiration, he returned in
2015 and brought back more than 10 hours of piano recordings under
the northern lights, as well as twenty hours of video material. He
overlaid textures and resonances of three different pianos into a
rich music evoking the vastness of the North, and the beauty of the
northern lights. We may lack the visual on the album, but his
evocative music manages to immerse ourselves in the atmosphere he
wanted to create. However, an immersive film was produced, inspired
by the compositions of the album, and it will be presented at the
Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal from February 18
to March 4 with a live performance of Zavada.
Country Voice Love Songs
is a compilation of 18 tracks combining several of the finest voices
in contemporary country. Among the most famous singers, there are
George Strait, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and
the young Hunter Hayes. The only woman in this male tide is
Shania Twain with the song "Forever and For Always". A
highlight of the CD is presented by Chad Brownlee with
"Thinking Out Loud", but all of these love songs are likely to
appeal to a public which is fan of modern country.
The Belgian rocker is back with a new studio
album, recorded between Brussels and Bristol, England with acclaimed
producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels). PJ
Harvey is also a name that comes to mind listening to Human
Incognito, of course with Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.
Arno returns to a basic sound centered on the guitar by dropping
most of the synthesizers used previously. This is an excellent blend
of experimental folk and rock 'n' roll that offers us the veteran,
who has obviously lost none of his passion and his creative
abilities. His hoarse voice delivers beautifully his inspired lyrics
in French and English. Once again, this is an excellent record for
Arno. (January 2016)
Formed in London in 2010, the Daughter trio
offers a rather intimate indie pop sound with moments of rock and
electro. Not to Disappear is their second album after
If You Leave in 2013. The lyrics
by Elena Tonra often turn dark and sad as she deals with
separation, brokenness, loneliness and disappointment. It is
therefore not a sunny record! Otherwise, the whole album creates a
very pleasant world that surrounds us quickly into its comforting
atmosphere, carried on by the beautiful voice of Elena and effective
guitars. Some lengths could be avoided, but it is still a successful
second record for Daughter.
After the discreet and soft
Monologues issued last year, the
guitarist and singer returns with her second album of an exploratory
trilogy of blues and roots music. This time, she plugs her electric
guitar to offer us an energetic sound, which has groove, and is even
sometimes hard. This is an excellent blend of blues and rock which
admirably suits her warm voice. We can also hear some jazz, folk and
soul influences. For the occasion, Cécile is accompanied by some of
the best musicians and singers in Montreal. The result is a rich,
unifying music, contemporary blues played with some skill. As a
final point to the CD, Cécile even offers an impressive cover of
"Manic Depression". Again, Cécile Doo-Kingué demonstrates the
breadth of her talent in this record that wants to be a perfect
Monologues. It remains to see how
she will complete her trilogy…
With two critically acclaimed hits, "All Clear"
and "The Arp", the third album of the singer from Victoria, British
Columbia is already on a roll. Knight proposes a dense indie pop /
indie rock sound that is reminiscent of Patrick Watson and
Jeff Buckley. His lyrics have a mixture of melancholy, comfort
and positivism. Although it lasts only 33 minutes, the 8-track album
is thick enough to give us a lot for our money. Some additional
tracks might have been too much. Here is a more than successful
record for Aidan Knight.