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Note: If you can read French, go to the French section for additional content.

 

A - AC/DC - Alkaline Trio - American Speedway - Ersi Arvizu - Charles Aznavour -

B - The B-52s - Elvin Bishop - The Black Halos - The Black Keys - Black Kids - Blackmore's Night - Blackstars United - Bloc Party - Billy Bragg - The Briggs - Sarah Brightman - Bring Me The Horizon -

C - Glen Campbell - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Chemical Brothers - Civet - Coldplay - Ry Cooder - Alice Cooper - Deborah Cox - Crash Parallel - Alex Cuba -

D - D'Angelo - Danny Twang - Death Cab For Cutie - Dengue Fever - Die Mannequin - Does It Offend You, Yeah? - The Duhks -

E - Elephant Man - Escape The Fate -

F - Fall Out Boy - Fat Joe - Fear Before - Ferras - Tim Fite - Foreigner - Michael Franti & Spearhead -

G - Garou - Gilberto Gil - Glasvegas - Gnarls BarkleyGoldfrapp - Goo Goo Dolls - Guns N' Roses -

H - Hercules And Love Affair - Jolie Holland - HorrorPops - Hot Chip -

I - I Am Ghost - Zaki Ibrahim - Billy Idol - Iron Maiden - I Set My Friends On Fire - Islands -

J - Jack's Mannequin - Jackson United - Scarlett Johansson - Tom Jones -

K - Kellarissa - Kings Of Leon -

L - Lady Antebellum - Ladytron - Amos Lee - Lillian Axe (2) - Living Colour - Lyrics Born -

M - Madonna - Man Man - The Matches - Metallica - Metro Station - Mikoto - Millencolin - Mobile - Moby - The Mooney Suzuki - Erik Mongrain - Morcheeba - Alanis Morissette - Bob MouldMSG - Anne Murray -

N - Yael Naim - Nickelback -

O - Oasis - The Offspring - One Day As A Lion - One Second 2 Late - Our Last Night -

P - Panic At The Disco - Pendulum - Katy Perry - Pete Möss - Pink - Stéphane Pompougnac - Portishead - Omara Portuondo -

Q - Quadro Nuevo - The Queers -

R - Radiohead (2) - R.E.M. - Kevin Rudolf - Serena Ryder -

S - Ron Sexsmith - Sic Fucks - Simple Plan - Guilty Simpson - Sing It Loud - The Sound of Animals Fighting - Britney Spears - Mavis Staples - Static Thought - Stemm - The Stills - Story Of The Year - Street Dogs - The Streets -

T - Terror - Tiësto - Time Again - The Ting Tings - Toasters -

U - Underoath (2) -

V - The Verve -

W - Martha Wainwright - Weezer - WE the Kings - Brian Wilson -

Y - Young Knives - Neil Young -

Compilations - 15 Years of Paradise - Big Shiny Tunes 13 - Cafe Fuego Volume 1 - Justin Time Records 25th Anniversary Collection - My Blueberry Nights - Now! 13

 

 

AC/DC - Black Ice

AC/DC - Black Ice

As soon as this new AC/DC album is unpacked, their first one in 8 years, we can feel a certain nostalgia of the Back In Black era. Similar packing and title, the same line-up of 5 musicians and obviously a musical style which didn’t evolve very much since that time will bring you rather easily at the top of their career in 1980. The hit “Rock N Roll Train” starts the album in a great way, followed by the very good “Skies On Fire” and “Big Jack”. These 3 tracks, which are in the purest style of AC/DC, will undoubtedly succeed in preserving the interest of their many fans. Thereafter, the group succeeds in surprising us with “Anything Goes” which seems rather borrowed to the Van Halen catalogue. But, for the purists, get reassured because the group goes back quickly to its single rock n' roll style with “War Machine”, one of my favorite ones. Thereafter, we hear a little too many mid-tempo songs with a doubtful creativity. It’s precisely what is making this album of 15 titles an average one, when it had no fault in the first third. The group still serves some effective compositions like “Spoilin' For A Fight” and “Wheels”, but it goes a little too much in comfort zones because these tracks seem to have belong to their repertoire for always. The band can count on producer Brendan O'Brien to make it sound larger than life. On this side, it’s successful, even if I would like to hear a sound a little more raw on behalf of this incomparable rock n' roll band. The main problem of Black Ice is simply that it’s too long with 15 songs adding up more than 55 minutes. 4 or 5 titles less would have consolidated this record which contains very good compositions. (February 2009 Featured Review)

Columbia / Sony BMG

Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony

Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony

After 5 albums on independent labels, the pop punk band from Chicago Alkaline Trio just released its major label first album, 10 years after its debut. Obviously, we could expect a rather polished and overproduced album, but as the group had already taken such a turn already a few years ago, contrast is not so unbearable that it could have been for many other punk bands which signed large contracts. In fact, Agony & Irony continues perfectly in the line of Crimson issued 3 years ago, but by removing the raw and dark sides. The sound is much more pop than punk and the references are closer to the alternative rock of the 80’s than the punk of the 90’s and 2000’s. Among their contemporaries, we can anyway compare them with bands like Panic At The Disco and Good Charlotte which almost took the same type of turn on their last recordings. From the first moments of “Calling All Skeletons”, we know that we will not be able to get rid of the melody anymore. It’s certainly among the most effective songs of the CD, with the energetic “I Found Away” (in the Bon Jovi style) and the excellent “Love Love, Kiss Kiss”, my favorite one. Some other tracks are interesting, without being very exciting (“Help Me”, “In Vein”, and so on), which doesn’t bring the album at the level we expected. We cannot prevent ourselves from falling into the nostalgia of the previous album whereas the group succeeded in presenting its dark side while remaining pop and catchy. (November 2008)

Epic / Sony BMG

American Speedway - Ship Of Fools

American Speedway - Ship Of Fools

American Speedway is a band from Philadelphia formed early in 2007 and which makes punk rock n' roll reappear from the ashes, an extreme rock n' roll with an incomparable energy in the tradition of groups like the New Bomb Turks. The album Ship Of Fools was issued first in vinyl version, but it’s now available everywhere on CD with 2 bonus tracks, “Pennsylvania” and “Watch Your Step”. We can also hear their hit “One Foot In, One Foot Out” and the title-track starting the album with energy in a style reminding us of the Ramones in their best years. The song “American Speedway” is also very good, just like the excellent “Cocaine”, my favourite of the CD which Motörhead would certainly have liked to play. The yelling voice of Michael Thursby Speedway somewhat brings the group closer to the metal scene, but their attitude remains primarily punk. The group doesn’t care in fact of its social responsibility with lyrics as in “Drinkin' And Drivin'” and “Make Some Noise”. All in all, the guys of American Speedway play what they want to play with an incredible energy. Their music doesn’t have any commercial potential at all, but it won’t leave anybody indifferent. This is a very good first album by a band which we would like to follow closely. Great pleasure for sure! (January 2009)

Prophase / MVD

½

Ersi Arvizu - Friend For Life

Ersi Arvizu - Friend For Life

The career of the female singer Ersi Arvizu goes back to the mid 60’s when she was already singing with her sisters in a group called in an original way The Sisters. She was also a part, in the 70's, of El Chicano, an important Latin rock group in Los Angeles. She left completely the music industry for many years before receiving a call from Ry Cooder in 2004. He needed a unique voice to take part in his album Chavez Ravine. She presents now her very first solo album entitled Friend For Life. Produced by Cooder, the record offers a very successful mixture of musical genres. Primarily constituted of Latin music, it integrates elements of R&B, jazz, rock and pop, the guiding line remaining the low and powerful voice of Ersi which makes us pass by a whole range of emotions. Friend For Life is a unique and timeless album which doesn’t enter any actual musical current. It contains soft moments, but also a few energetic pieces which will make you follow the beat automatically (“Soledad”, “Cruisin' To The Hop”, and so on). This is a very good record which is at the same time for the fans of Latin rock and the music lovers who like something creative and different. (June 2008 Featured New Artist)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Charles Aznavour - Duos

Charles Aznavour - Duos

Here is an audacious project by the legendary French singer Charles Aznavour. Duos was recorded over 3 years between New York City, London, Paris, Bologna and Cologne with the assistance of 3 producers, Erik Benzi, Phil Ramone and Patrick Shart. The greatest Aznavour hits were recorded during those sessions in duet with various international artists. The first of the 2 CDs contains 13 French duets. It opens with the excellent “Toi et moi” in an impressive duet with Céline Dion. We can also hear him with Julio Iglesias, Placido Domingo, Laura Pausini, Elton John, Johnny Hallyday, Nana Mouskouri, Sting, Josh Groban, Carole King, Paul Anka and Herbert Grönemeyer. The CD is concluded on a new virtual duet with Edith Piaf for the song “C’est un gars”. As for the second CD, it includes 11 tracks from the first CD, interpreted this time in the language of the duettist and in a different order. They added 4 songs to it: “Quiet Love” with Liza Minnelli, “She” with Bryan Ferry, a virtual duet with Frank Sinatra (“Young At Heart”) and another one with Dean Martin (“Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”). One of the basic ideas of the album was to offer these hits with different arrangements from those everybody already knew. On the other hand, the mixture of the genres and the voices is sometimes rather odd (Placido Domingo) and some arrangements are straightforwardly not very well done (among others those with Johnny Hallyday and Nana Mouskouri). Then, some of the singers are not really convincing in French, particularly Elton John and Sting. In end of line, it’s a completely heterogeneous project which is offered to us and we can easily emphasize some interesting songs which are worth the cost through these 28 versions. Also, the French-speaking people are likely to be frustrated with the second CD whereas the English-speaking ones won’t find anything interesting with the first CD. Even if only Charles Aznavour could allow such a project at this moment of his career, it remains that it was too much audacious to be completely successful. (February 2009)

Capitol / EMI France / Fusion3

½

The B-52s - Funplex

The new wave band The B-52s presents a first new album since 1992. Oddly, Funplex is their first record to reach number 1 at its release. With the opening track, “Pump”, we realize that the group can still play good songs, thanks to a solid bass line and beautiful vocal harmonies on behalf of the singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. “Hot Corner” still continues in a beautiful way, reminding us of the best years of the band, just like the title-song. The futuristic disco sound of “Eyes Wide Open” proves us that the group can still reinvent itself in 2008 with a dancing song which will make the delight of DJs. The energetic “Love In The Year 3000” can also achieve the same goals of assured entertainment. The modern arrangements of the album, including electronic drums, indicate us that the group can attack with confidence the 21st century. It’s generally rather difficult to have a long career when our music belongs to a very precise musical movement as it was the case for them in the new wave music of the early Eighties. They had in fact been unable to survive to those Eighties until now. But, with this effective production, they succeed in diverting us in 2008 without unceasingly bringing back the nostalgia of the top of their career. We unfortunately find less interesting songs from a creative point of view (sometimes even completely annoying), and it was clearly to fill a whole album of 48 minutes. In spite of these few weaker moments, Funplex constitutes a diverting album which shows us that we would certainly appreciate more regular recording sessions by them in the years to come. (May 2008)

Astralwerks / EMI

Elvin Bishop - The Blues Rolls On

Elvin Bishop - The Blues Rolls On

Legendary blues guitarist Elvin Bishop is back with a new album on which he pays tribute in a way to legends of the genre. He’s surrounded here by many guest artists including John Németh, who sings on 3 songs in addition to playing harmonica on the last one, “Honest I Do” of Jimmy Reed. We can also hear guitars by B.B. King (on “Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket” of Roy Milton) and by the members of the Allman Brothers Band, Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, as well as the voices and guitars of George Thorogood (on “Send You Back To Georgia” of Hound Dog Taylor) and Ronnie Baker Brooks. We can finally hear the excellent James Cotton on harmonica for “I Found Out” of Junior Wells. The 12 tracks offered on The Blues Rolls On were recorded on various occasions and they represent together a montage of some of Bishop’s favourite songs with different friend musicians for most of them. The album thus presents a certain lack of uniformity which will maybe displease some. On the other hand, the classics presented here, all interpreted by old pros, won’t leave anybody indifferent. In spite of its few defects, The Blues Rolls On is a solid record, with a quite beautiful energy, and which is in bonus almost a history lesson about blues music. It’s thus a must for the fans of the genre. (January 2009)

Delta Groove / Fusion3

½

The Black Halos - We Are Not Alone

The punk band from Vancouver The Black Halos is back on CD with its 4th album. The Billy Hopeless group is well decided to offer its strongest album to date. They once again trust producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney) who had produced their previous recordings. The production of We Are Not Alone is strong, while leaving the necessary space to the rather dirty and imperfect sound of The Black Halos. The group is detached somewhat from its New York glam rock influences (New York Dolls and others), and seems to rely more than ever on its own identity. We Are Not Alone is perhaps not their best album to date, but it offers undoubtedly good compositions: “Holes”, “Slick City”, “Dreamboat”, the title-song, and more. The voice of Hopeless can once again be aggravating per moments, but after all it’s a part of the personality of the band. (July 2008)

Acetate / MVD

½

The Black Keys - Attack & Release

The Black Keys - Attack & Release

The blues garage duo The Black Keys is already offering its 5th album in 7 years of existence. This time, they asked the services of producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley), a choice which can seem odd at first, but which comes to add a certain depth to the music of the minimalist duo. Their music, that is generally dirty blues, takes here a new dimension, all in “scale”. Even if the evolution is certain, we could not declare that the result is really successful. We find classic blues tracks of quality like “I Got Mine” and unforgettable melodies like in “Psychotic Girl” and “Remember When (Side B)”, but other songs leave us somewhat indifferent (the opening track “All You Ever Wanted”, “Lies”, “Remember When (Side A)”, and so on). It’s interesting to see that the group tries to evolve, but it unfortunately doesn’t succeed in going in a direction which will make us forget the quality of their albums Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory. (June 2008)

Nonesuch / Warner

Black Kids - Partie Traumatic

Black Kids - Partie Traumatic

Black Kids is a new band from Jacksonville, Florida which created quickly a buzz on the Internet and on its MySpace page. The quintet plays an indie rock / new wave sound which is not so far from Franz Ferdinand and The Killers, without forgetting obvious influences of The Cure. Singer Reggie Youngblood’s voice certainly contributes to reinforce this comparison because he sings in a register approaching largely Robert Smith’s. The tracks have a great energy, generally danceable, which makes them rather accessible in spite of a passably alternative creative approach. The group draws primarily its influences in the 80’s, but succeeds in a wonderful way in creating a sound of 2008 with always effective melodies. The 10 songs presented here are all good with some real jewels arising from the batch. Let’s note the opening track “Hit The Heartbrakes”, “Listen To Your Body Tonight”, “I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You” and “Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)”. This is an album of great quality the Black Kids are offering us, a CD meeting the expectations created by the hype on the Internet. The challenge will be to repeat that kind of performance and to continue to go ahead. (November 2008 Featured New Artist)

Columbia / Sony BMG

Blackmore’s Night - Secret Voyage

Blackmore’s Night - Secret Voyage

After a profitable career as a hard rock guitarist, particularly within Deep Purple and Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore took another musical direction in the late 90’s with his fiancée, Candice Night. Blackmore decided to look further into his love of Renaissance music by integrating instruments of that era with more contemporary instruments, putting obviously ahead the guitar (acoustic and electric). Thanks to the superb voice and to the lyrics of Candice Night, this music has a single style amalgamating the music of Renaissance with folk and rock. The mixture of the genres and the instruments make Secret Voyage completely different. I cannot compare with what they produced previously, but I can say that it’s an album which is pleasant to listen to while transporting us in various atmospheres. We can even hear a cover of the Elvis Presley classic, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, a quite beautiful surprise, even if it fits more or less in the general environment of the record. We don’t really find tracks we can dissociate from the others, but the whole is rich musically and it will please the fans of rock music that have an interest for the music of the last centuries. (September 2008)

Steamhammer / SPV / Fusion3

½

Blackstars United - Blackstars United

Blackstars United - Blackstars United

Blackstars United is a band from Bordeaux in France presenting its first EP of 5 tracks. I was very surprised at first of hearing a rock band sounding more American than French. Guitars are well in front and accompany greatly the English lyrics sometimes cried with rage. The whole CD can be easily compared to Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Queens Of The Stone Age, Incubus and other groups of heavy alternative rock. We cannot find any weaknesses among the 5 tracks offered and we can definitely declare that this EP does perfectly its work: making us impatient to hear more from them. If the group succeeds in keeping the quality during a full album and if it succeeds in drawing the attention of an important record label, it could extremely well be the next French rock group to conquer the world... Only one word to say: wow! (April 2008)

Bloc Party - Intimacy

Bloc Party - Intimacy

The indie rock band from London Bloc Party is back with its 3rd album. Quite as eclectic as the previous one, the CD makes it possible again to compare them to Muse, but by adding this time electronic influences in the Chemical Brothers way, especially in the first track, “Ares”. Experimentation continues on the first single, “Mercury”, whereas the group pushes a little further than ever in its exploration of the dark sides of alternative rock music. Fortunately for the fans from the beginning, the band returns later with songs a little more conventional (“Halo”) and a little softer (“Biko”). But, as much the group seems to push a little too far per moments, on other occasions they seem to want to repeat what made the success of their first album. In spite of this observation, this new album by Block Party offers quite good moments, with a unique energy. (March 2009)

Video: « Mercury »

Warner

½

Billy Bragg - Mr. Love & Justice

Billy Bragg - Mr. Love & Justice

The legendary British folk punk songwriter Billy Bragg is back on CD with Mr. Love & Justice, his first album on the Anti label. After his incursions into the world of Woody Guthrie accompanied by the American group Wilco, Bragg returns finally with a solid and consistent album, possibly his best since Don’t Try This At Home released already 17 years ago. As soon as at the opening track, “I Keep Faith”, we discover an unforgettable melody staying in our mind, an instantaneous classic. Tracks like “Sing Their Souls Back Home” and “Farm Boy” offer a true meditation on war in Iraq, while “I Almost Killed You” and “Something Happened” prove to us that it’s still possible to write good songs around the theme of love. The importance for Bragg of speaking about individual freedoms and human rights materializes again in the excellent “O Freedom”, in addition to being powdered throughout the record. Billy Bragg has a single way to put in music his concerns and, on Mr. Love & Justice, he succeeds in doing it while diverting us with compositions of great quality. (June 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

The Briggs - Come All You Madmen

The Briggs - Come All You Madmen

The Briggs is a punk group from Los Angeles which was formed almost 10 years ago. They were first influenced by The Clash and we can talk about them like the Californian version of the Dropkick Murphys. We can detect certain folk influences through their punk sound, which places them in a separate category, especially in California. On Come All You Madmen, the group is successful in making a beautiful fusion between effective melodies and a certain aggressiveness. Brothers Joey and Jason LaRocca are perfectly complementary on singing (in spite of a raucous voice which will be unpleasant to some) and the band is very tight at playing the 12 tracks included here for a total of 42 minutes. In spite of a sound that is far from being clean, they offer us social lyrics on an extremely effective music which makes listening particularly pleasant until the end. Like for the first single, “Charge Into The Sun”, Come All You Madmen is appearing to us like the best album of The Briggs to date. (September 2008)

Video: “Charge Into The Sun

Side One Dummy

½

Sarah Brightman - A Winter Symphony

Sarah Brightman - A Winter Symphony

Sarah Brightman, this Broadway star born in England, was always more successful on stage than on record. After the Symphony album issued earlier this year, she comes back, with her collaborator Frank Peterson, with A Winter Symphony for the Holiday season. We can hear Christmas classics like “Silent Night” and 2 versions of “Ave Maria” (one in a duet with Fernando Lima), surrounded by more contemporary songs. We can hear as well the excellent “Amazing Grace”, always a strong moment on a CD. Unfortunately, the album goes a little in different directions. Between the soft Christmas classics and the large rock orchestrations in the way of Meat Loaf, the only link we can establish is the performance on stage by Sarah Brightman. But, oups! This is a studio album so there is no visual here. We can imagine her carrying out choreography in extravagant costumes, but the effect is rather missed, unless your imagination succeeds in creating it. Moreover, certain tracks presented are frankly annoying and her extremely soft voice doesn’t correct the situation. A few interesting moments and a very beautiful case are not sufficient to make the album truly attractive. (December 2008)

Manhattan / EMI

½

Bring Me The Horizon - Suicide Season

Bring Me The Horizon - Suicide Season

Bring Me The Horizon is a hardcore metal band formed in Sheffield, England in 2004. On the last Vans Warped Tour, they created unanimity as well among young fans of screamo and older big fans of metal. After a first album in 2006 which was not very well received critically, Count Your Blessings, the group locked itself up in studio in an isolated place in Sweden with producer Fredrik Norstrom (Arch Enemy, In Flames, At The Gates) to record Suicide Season. Issued in November 2008, this new album has everything to definitely make the career of this young talented group explode. They succeed in bringing hardcore metal to another level of creativity. We quickly hear the brutal intentions of the band on the opening track, “The Comedown”, but they return immediately with a composition with changing atmospheres, the excellent “Chelsea Smile”. The band even makes us sing with them on the very effective progressive screamo song “The Sadness Will Never End”. They are very far from the one-dimensional death metal style we were primarily hearing on their first record. On this one, they borrow the best elements of black metal and screamo to create a metal sound of a great originality. (April 2009)

Video: « The Comedown »

Visible Noise / Epitaph

½

Glen Campbell - Meet Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell - Meet Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell is a country pop singer who was in the music business for more than 45 years. We cannot say that he obtained much success since the Seventies, and it’s perhaps the reason why he feels the need to introduce himself again with this album entitled Meet Glen Campbell. He offers us 10 covers of pop rock songs of the Sixties to the Nineties by celebrities of the moment. The album begins strongly with the excellent “Sing” from Travis, even if Campbell brings very few new elements to it. Thereafter, we can hear 2 Tom Petty songs, “Walls” and “Angel Dream”. The adventure resumes with “Times Like These” of the Foo Fighters and the splendid interpretation of “These Days” of Jackson Browne. The Replacements are featured with “Sadly, Beautiful”, before Campbell attacks “All I Want Is You” of U2. His version of “Jesus” of the Velvet Underground is quite simply superb before he arrives with “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” of Green Day, another excellent song interpreted in his own way. Finally, this short 34-minute CD is ending up with “Grow Old With Me” of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The general atmosphere of the album remains acoustic, even if the orchestrations and arrangements are rich. We can occasionally perceive the country and bluegrass roots of Campbell, but it’s primarily a pop rock album aiming a new generation of fans. This is a very good record whose main defect is that some additional tracks would have been really appreciated. (December 2008)

Capitol / EMI

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Even if Nick Cave remained active during the last 2 years with the original motion picture soundtracks of The Proposition and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (with Warren Ellis), as well as the parallel project Grinderman, this 14th album with the Bad Seeds is the first of the group since the excellent double album Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus, on which the most important default was precisely to be a little too long. The album begins with a sound resolutely rock before being calmed somewhat on “Moonland” at the 3rd track, and becoming completely soporific on “Night of the Lotus Eaters”. Thereafter, the first chords of “Albert Goes West” will undoubtedly make you jump on your chair whereas the group comes back quickly with a pure rock sound in which guitar is queen. The new energy provided by Grinderman seems to have been propagated to this new album of the complete group of the Bad Seeds. Cave lyrics remain in the center of each song, but the group skillfully succeeds in wrapping them of a rich and generally energetic music. At the end of the line, it’s once again an excellent record Nick Cave and his band offer us, an album which can certainly reach the expectations of their fans. (June 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

The Chemical Brothers - Brotherhood

The Chemical Brothers - Brotherhood

Only 5 years after the first album making a good summary of their career, here that they come back with a new collection of greatest hits for The Chemical Brothers. We can find here 9 tracks which were included on Singles 93-03 to which they added 4 pieces produced since that time and 2 new compositions. Brotherhood thus wants to be a replacement to the previous collection by the electronic duo by including the best from each of their albums, except that we don’t find the same chronology here and it’s a total disorder. To bring more value to this purchase, I believe that it’s necessary to get the deluxe edition, because it contains a bonus CD rather interesting. Totalizing 72 minutes, this CD presents us the 10 tracks of Electronic Battle Weapons, produced before their major label contract. It’s about a dancing album with varied atmospheres anyway, rather near despite everything of what we knew about them since that time. (November 2008)

Virgin / EMI

½

Civet - Hell Hath No Fury

Civet - Hell Hath No Fury

Civet is a female quartet from Long Beach, California which is presenting its 2nd album. They offer us a street punk sound with hardcore influences, a hardcore sound which is reinforced only by the screams of the singer and the feeling she’s constantly angry (the best example is certainly the excellent “Son Of A Bitch”). If not, the music of Civet remains a punk rock rather melodic with unforgettable songs. Comparisons with Joan Jett, the Runaways and Hole come easily to our mind. We can also compare them with Rancid on tracks like “All I Want”, a song which was co-wrote by Tim Armstrong besides. But, which is clear about Civet, it’s that the band has overflowing energy from the beginning to the end, energy more similar to male’s than many boys bands have. Musically, they obviously don’t revolutionize anything because the genre had already been explored carefully three times rather than once, but if you seek a punk rock group offering freshness, Civet will probably please you. (February 2009)

HellCat / Epitaph

½

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay is finally back, 3 years after X & Y! This new album, whose complete title is Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, was produced by Markus Dravs, Brian Eno and Rik Simpson, and it was recorded in a bakery, a nunnery, a magic shop and a church. The band continues in the same direction they started for the previous album by leaving Chris Martin’s piano aside for a more evident guitar, often soft, in a style which reminds us once again of U2. With several tracks with atmospheric tendencies (which never fall into monotony nevertheless), the result can seem experimental and contains only very few potential hits. The first single, “Violet Hill”, as “Strawberry Swing” are the only ones who succeed in truly breaking the meditation beat of the record. This is an album which requires several good attentive listenings to come to seize all subtleties in the compositions and arrangements. In spite of a duration of only 46 minutes, you will have the feeling to hear an album much larger because of its musical spectrum. Viva La Vida doesn’t have the same instantaneity as X & Y, but it will become undoubtedly much more satisfactory on the long term. A negative point to note: the booklet, which wants to be artistic, is rather deprived from an informational point of view. (July 2008 Featured Review)

Parlophone / EMI

½

Ry Cooder - I, Flathead

Ry Cooder - I, Flathead

With I, Flathead, Ry Cooder puts an end to his Californian trilogy started with Chavez Ravine (2005) and My Name Is Buddy (2007). To accompany this new album, Cooder wrote a 104-page novella, included in the deluxe version of the CD. On the other hand, the record is great by itself. More varied than the previous album which was almost completely folk, I, Flathead explore rock, pop, country, blues, Latin music and even narration. They are all genres Cooder exploited at one time or another of his career, but here, he mixes the whole. It’s besides precisely about the main issue of the record which seems to go in any directions. The compositions are effective, but they connect sometimes oddly together. I, Flathead is anyway another excellent album by Ry Cooder. (October 2008)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider

The master of terror in music, Alice Cooper, 60 years old, is back with his 25th studio album in career. I acknowledge that I didn’t have particular expectations considering the career of the man which presented some brilliant albums through less creative ones. It’s necessary anyway to acknowledge that he inspired many while bringing a single theatrical performance on stage. He’s regularly quoted besides like a major influence for artists like Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and KISS. On Along Came A Spider Alice offers a concept album whereas the 11 tracks are told by a serial killer called Spider. Musically, we hear a heavy guitar sound and a sinister environment, worthy of the best horror movies. On the excellent “Catch Me If You Can”, we find a hard rock beat approaching passably what he produced in the late Eighties. As for “Vengeance Is Mine”, we can hear the guitar of Slash (ex-Guns N’ Roses). Some tracks don’t bring anything great and do nothing more than continue the story. On the other hand, the unit contains sufficient exciting moments to make this album an interesting one. (October 2008)

SPV / Fusion3

Deborah Cox - The Promise

Deborah Cox - The Promise

The R&B female singer originating from Toronto Deborah Cox is back on CD after a 6-year hiatus (if we exclude her tribute album to Dinah Washington issued in 2007). She gives huge expectations to us with the title of this new album. On the other hand, the 34 year old singer doesn’t seem much to have progressed vocally and musically since her mega hit of 1998 “Nobody's Supposed To Be Here”. Even if her biggest asset remains her voice, she uses it very few on this album, perhaps because most of the compositions are quite simply not exceptional. It’s indeed necessary to wait for the 4th track for finally hearing an interesting melody (“Saying Goodbye”). The good beats of “Beautiful U R” and “Down 4 U” make it also effective. On the other hand, you will maybe fall asleep quickly with the title-track, on piano. Deborah seems to retain her voice on several occasions, her voice which was compared to Whitney Houston’s in the past. A few moments throughout the 10 songs adding up 40 minutes will be able to possibly catch the attention of her biggest fans, but in general, The Promise doesn’t succeed in responding to the great expectations. (January 2009)

Deco / Koch

½

Crash Parallel - World We Know

Crash Parallel - World We Know

Crash Parallel is a pop rock band from Toronto which presented us in 2008 its first album. Fully leaded by the title-song and the other excellent hit “Rain Delays”, the album is great to catch the attention of an audience which is fan of good quality corporate music. We can compare them with Coldplay, Counting Crows and Dashboard Confessional, thanks to powerful and unforgettable melodies on a generally introspective and dark music. Several tracks are similar to each other creating a uniformity which can be annoying after a moment. Fortunately that some songs differentiate through the batch and make us sing. Without being of an incredible creativity, World We Know is an honest first album by a band we will certainly hear a lot about in the future. (March 2009)

Videos: « World We Know » - « Rain Delays »

Sony BMG

Alex Cuba - Agua Del Pozo

Alex Cuba - Agua Del Pozo (2007) (2008 re-edition)

Alex Cuba was born Alexis Puentes a few miles from Havana, Cuba. Multi instrumentalist, he started as a member of the band of his father when he was only a child. He moved to Canada (British Colombia) in 1999 and formed the Alex Cuba Band with his brother Adonis. The duet quickly made a name for themselves as The Puentes Brothers and released an album in 2000 which was nominated for a Juno award. Alex Cuba works as a solo artist since 2003 and Agua Del Pozo, his 2nd album, was initially issued early in 2007 before being re-issued by EMI in 2008. We can hear latin music strongly influenced by his native Cuba, but it also integrates many North-American elements, of which an electric guitar that is quite present. This guitar creates in fact a natural bridge with the music of Santana, while preserving points of comparison with traditional Cubans like the Buena Vista Social Club. Bass guitar also has an important place in his music, creating at the same time danceable beats. The compositions of Alex Cuba are effective and the music richness we can find on the album does that a few tracks are weak and uninteresting. This is an album which will not leave anybody indifferent. (August 2008 Featured New Artist)

Caracol / EMI

D’Angelo - The Best So Far… (CD + DVD)

D’Angelo - The Best So Far… (CD + DVD)

This compilation for soul/R&B singer D'Angelo has one objective: to offer something to his fans whereas his last album goes back to 2000. Indeed, with a discography of only 2 albums, Brown Sugar (1995) and Voodoo (2000), D'Angelo has a few songs for a greatest hits collection of 17 tracks adding up 74 minutes. The Best So Far… thus made a summary of his career until now before he possibly comes back with new material. The most interesting part of this compilation is the addition of a DVD containing 7 videos. This addition is the only thing which is likely to catch the attention of his fans, because they all already have the first 2 albums, which are considered among the best R&B albums of the last 15 years. (October 2008)

Virgin / EMI

Danny Twang - Stereo

Danny Twang - Stereo

Danny Twang is a band from Quebec playing instrumental surf music, in the purest tradition of this American music genre of the early 60’s. The group is formed with members of the Jaguars, the Baronics, 400 Lapins and Hot Club de ma Rue (Django Reinhardt). Leaded by the reverb guitars of Jérôme Turgeon and François Rousseau, the band presents 13 original tracks which will be good memories for the oldest fans who liked this music even before the appearance of the Beach Boys. Younger people will now have the possibility of being initiated to this unique rock n' roll roll style, festive and warm music which cannot avoid bringing our imagination on the beaches of South California. Produced by the 2 brains of the group and mixed by the excellent Glen Robinson, the CD remains simple and reflects well the atmosphere of that era, with the stereo advantage of today, the reason for the title. Few parts dissociate from the ensemble, except maybe for “Pyramide folle”, but it’s about a very good album which will make undoubtedly your winter evenings a little bit warmer. (December 2008)

D7 / Diffusion YFB / DEP

½

Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs

The indie rock band Death Cab For Cutie already counts more than 10 years of existence and they offer us their 6th album. After having received critical acclaim for their previous records, the members of the group could well have become over confident, but it’s not the case. Narrow Stairs continues in the direction which made it possible for the group to slowly but surely reach recognition. The main difference here is that the compositions of Benjamin Gibbard are darker than ever. Music remains very energetic and even pop in spite of it, bringing a certain contrast in the atmosphere of the CD. The 11 tracks of the album are particularly solid and the fans of the group will be undoubtedly pleased. For those who wouldn’t know yet Death Cab For Cutie, this is the ideal CD to discover one of the best American groups of the last years in its genre, a band which doesn’t have anything to envy the British. (August 2008)

Atlantic / Warner

Dengue Fever - Venus On Earth

The band from Los Angeles Dengue Fever is back with its 3rd album. Whereas their first CD contained only traditional Cambodian songs and their 2nd presented for the first time several original compositions, Venus On Earth contains only compositions signed by the members of the band. They succeed on this one in tightening their style to make a complete and particularly interesting whole of it. The base of their sound is still around the Cambodian music of the 60’s, with surf, rock, pop and African influences, but they succeed here in really defining their own style of alternative pop music. The voice of the singer, Chhom Nimol, born in Cambodia, can once again aggravate seriously when she reaches the highest notes, but the ballads "Monsoon Of Perfume" and "Tooth And Nail" show us another aspect of her vocal repertory and somewhat reconcile us with her single voice. The album begins strongly with the first single, "Seeing Hands". Other parts with particularly effective melodies preserve our interest throughout the album, of which "Tiger Phone Card" and "Sober Driver", 2 tracks on which we can hear the voice of the guitarist Zac Holtzman. With the instrumental "Oceans Of Venus", we have straightforwardly the feeling of going back to the music of the B-52's at their debut. The American new wave sound of the late 70’s occupies in fact an important place on this colored and varied album. I had liked their previous release which appeared 3 years ago, Escape From Dragon House, but the reinforcement on this one brings them truly to another level, well beyond simple curiosity. Venus On Earth is a creative album which has the potential to please the whole world... (April 2008)

M80 / It’s Alive!

Die Mannequin - Unicorn Steak

Die Mannequin - Unicorn Steak

First, let’s specify that Unicorn Steak isn’t yet the first so much awaited album by the Toronto-native group Die Mannequin. It’s rather an assembly of their first 2 EPs, How To Kill (2006) and Slaughter Daughter (2007), which will not be available anymore. A track from the latest is not included here (“Open Season”), but we can count 2 additional songs, “Empty's Promise (Early Demo)” and “Hand In Hand”. The band, directed by singer Care Failure, again shows us all its potential and energy, which makes us even more impatient to hear a true first full length album by them. (May 2008)

How To Kill / Warner

½

Does It Offend You, Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into

Does It Offend You, Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into

The name of the group is indeed Does It Offend You, Yeah?. The quartet comes to us from England and presents a danceable electro sound mixing new wave and indie rock. We can compare them with LCD Soundsystem, Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers. They present their first album containing 10 tracks for a total of 38 minutes. A good part of the album is instrumental or contains electronically reworked voices (“Battle Royale”, the single “We Are Rockstars”, and so on). This portion is ideal for the dancefloors and it will be a true delight for the DJs loving to integrate different sounds into their musical constructions. On another side, certain songs in the new wave genre with unforgettable melodies are perfectly formatted for FM radio as “With A Heavy Heart (I Regret To Inform You)” and “Dawn Of The Dead”. This is an energetic and danceable album integrating perfectly electronic music and alternative rock. It contains very few weaknesses and it won’t leave anybody indifferent. You only have to adapt to their creative madness, which is not an easy task, to live an unforgettable adventure. A quite beautiful discovery! (December 2008 Featured New Artist)

Chrysalis / Red Ink / Sony BMG

½

The Duhks - Fast Paced World

The Duhks - Fast Paced World

The Duhks is a folk rock / bluegrass band from Winnipeg which has Latin and soul influences. The group had a change of personnel in 2007 bringing the singer Sarah Dugas, as well as her brother Christian on drums. The quintet is thus now ready to offer its 4th album, Fast Paced World. For this record, they were well decided to reinvent their sound and to surprise us. It’s thus an album sometimes more rock and sometimes more pop which is presented to us, a disc which contains several potential hits being able to join a large audience. The banjo, as well as more traditional tracks as “New Rigged Ship”, reminds us of their first influences, and the Latin beats are still quite present. We can hear Brazilian pop on the excellent “Magalenha”, and we can also hear Sarah sing in French on “Toujours vouloir”. Fast Paced World is a superb album which presents only a few weaknesses. A very beautiful discovery… (October 2008)

Sugar Hill / Welk / Tacca

Elephant Man - Let’s Get Physical

Elephant Man - Let’s Get Physical

Jamaican DJ Elephant Man was active for a few years already. However, his genre of dancehall which is often raw could have pushed back many fans of R&B and hip hop up to now. With Let's Get Physical, he offers us his first album for the label of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Bad Boy Records. After 2 songs with beats that can be disturbing right at the beginning, the album really starts with “Feel The Steam” featuring Chris Brown. The effectiveness of the mixture between reggae and R&B will continue on “Throw Your Hands Up” with Rihanna, like on the refreshing “Five-O” with Wyclef and P. Diddy (a track we hear again in a remixed version at #13). The contribution of Swizz Beatz in “Jump”, with a completely original rhythmic structure, will make it possible for this song to dissociate from the other tracks of the CD. One of my favorite ones is certainly the energetic “The Way We Roll (Remix)” with Busta Rhymes and Shaggy, and the integration of the classic “Let's Get Physical” (of Olivia Newton-John) in “Body Talk” makes this one quite as interesting. The unit can seem somewhat unequal with certain parts which won’t impress many people, but as a whole, Elephant Man offers a good album, probably the best of his career until now. (July 2008)

Bad Boy / Warner

½

Escape The Fate - This War Is Ours

Escape The Fate - This War Is Ours

Following its controversial first album in 2006, the post-punk group from Las Vegas, Escape The Fate, had to carry out some changes. Firstly, they lost a guitarist in the middle of their tour. Then, singer Ronnie Radke had many problems with drugs and justice, forcing the band to let him go. To replace him, they hired Craig Mabbitt, but they decided to continue with only one guitar player. Mabbitt brings a particularly appreciated new energy. He has a powerful voice which goes only on rare occasions on the guttural side (for example on the very good title-song), which represents a change of sound for the group. The first single of the album, “The Flood”, is absolutely excellent, with a very good energy which can remind us of the arena rock of the 80’s, Mötley Crüe on top of others. Unfortunately, the group offers once again far too many ordinary and not very interesting compositions as much musically than lyrically. These tracks don’t make it possible to emphasize well the single energy the group has and rather give us the desire to pass over some of the songs. This War Is Ours probably represents a step ahead for Escape The Fate, but it misses this small extra which will make it possible for the group to differentiate among all the emo bands invading the United States. (March 2009)

Videos: « The Flood » - « Something »

Epitaph

Fall Out Boy - Folie à deux

Fall Out Boy - Folie à deux

After the average album Infinity On High issued in 2007, the challenge for the pop punk band Fall Out Boy was to go back to what had enabled them to become famous in 2005 with From Under The Cork Tree. Folie à deux must thus fill this difficult task. The group had already dropped the punk genre in its music on its last album and it continues in the same direction here with influences a little closer to the late 60’s. They take almost the same way Panic At The Disco did on its excellent latest album. They include orchestrations here and there which are enriching the band’s music, a sound which is particularly creative per moments. Hard rock songs are formatted perfectly for arenas and the guys won’t have to rework them before going on tour. Certain tracks are really effective in this direction as “Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown On A Bad Bet” and “(Coffee's For Closers)”. On the other hand, these ultra powerful songs with good rhythms alternate with soul, R&B and new wave, creating a rather heteroclite mixture, but largely successful. In fact, what proved to be awkward on their previous album sticks here in a beautiful way to make an interesting fusion. Certain tracks will displease undoubtedly certain listeners, especially their first fans. On the other hand, Folie à deux should be listened to with attention to realize that Fall Out Boy is still one of the best groups of its genre. (February 2009)

Island Def Jam / Universal

½

Fat Joe - The Elephant In The Room

Fat Joe - The Elephant In The Room

Fat Joe has been productive for more than fifteen years on the underground rap scene in New York City. For his 8th album, The Elephant In The Room, he places all the pieces together by integrating everything he did best during the years. He has a priceless talent for melody, even if it can be sometimes monotonous. Fat Joe generally talks about hard topics. Here, he seems to have a true obsession for cocaine, whereas it’s a recurrent theme in several of the tracks. Few titles have a real commercial potential, but several will please an audience formed of real fans of quality rap. The Elephant In The Room is probably the best album of his career to date. (August 2008)

EMI

½

Fear Before - Fear Before

Fear Before - Fear Before

The post hardcore band Fear Before The March Of Flames made an important change of sound and shorten its name. The main difference is the voices whereas the group completely drops the throaty voice for rather using melodies. They’re not always effective, but the effort is notable. By carrying out these changes, the band is getting closer at the same time to some classics of metal. In several moments we have the feeling to hear Ozzy Osbourne or Mike Patton, whereas on other occasions a little more theatrical, it’s King Diamond that comes to our ears. We can even hear several guest singers from groups like The Fall Of Troy, Heavy Heavy Low Low and Portugal. The most important problem about this eponymous album is that the melodies don’t seem to fit at all with the musical experimentation of the band which appears completely cacophonous in the background of several tracks. On other rather slow compositions like “Jabberwocky” and “Tycho”, the ensemble mixes in a more acceptable way. It’s a pity that their music becomes then so annoying! Finally, there are very few interesting elements on this record however promising. The biggest fans of the group will be perhaps pleased to see that Fear Before is still able to evolve. On the other hand, I saw greater evolutions in the past by other artists… (January 2009)

Equal Vision

Ferras - Aliens & Rainbows

Ferras - Aliens & Rainbows

Ferras (born Ferras Alquasi) is a new pop rock singer from Los Angeles, California. America initially discovered him with the TV show American Idol thanks to his song “Hollywood's Not America”. On the other hand, it’s his intense ballad “Take My Lips” (which we can hear here at the end of the album) which enabled him to obtain his first record contract. Ferras, which is pianist before everything else, plays enormously in the ballads repertoire. On various occasions, we can seize unquestionable influences of David Bowie and Elton John. We can also partly compare him with Dashboard Confessional. His compositions are strong and arrangements are exceptional. The weaknesses are rather rare, which perhaps makes of Aliens & Rainbows one of the best pop albums of the year. Obviously, with several ballads, perhaps your personal preferences will dictate to you to avoid him. On the other hand, the ballads all are extremely effective. A quite beautiful surprise! (July 2008 Featured New Artist)

Capitol / EMI

½

Tim Fite - Fair Ain’t Fair

Tim Fite - Fair Ain’t Fair

After having offered his album Over The Counter Culture for free on the Internet, the eclectic Tim Fite comes back with a 3rd album which is sold in record dealers this time. He leaves aside the hip hop of the previous album, but he continues to use sampling and various assemblies with his voice, building excellent vocal harmonies and a quite particular sound around the drums. Generally difficult to access, the music of Fite takes anyway a pop turning on “Big Mistake”, an excellent song which is probably his most accessible in career, like on “Sing Along”. Each album of Tim Fite proves to be an exercise of style and it’s once again the case on Fair Ain't Fair. It’s thus a record for the fans of creative and experimental music, which has for the first time the possibility of reaching an audience a little larger. The fans of Beck will probably find something interesting for them too on this album. (August 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Foreigner - No End In Sight: The Very Best Of Foreigner

Foreigner - No End In Sight: The Very Best Of Foreigner

The first question coming to our mind when we see this new double greatest hits collection of Foreigner is: “Why?”. It’s because the Rhino label already issued a similar compilation in 2000 entitled Jukebox Heroes, before giving us an almost perfect 1-CD collection of 20 tracks in 2002, Complete Greatest Hits. The main difference we can find on No End In Sight compared to Jukebox Heroes is that this one concentrates exclusively on Foreigner, without offering solo tracks by Lou Gramm and Mick Jones. For the difference with the album of 2002, we can hear 12 additional songs; especially album cuts which didn’t really had success, 1 previously unreleased studio track and 3 live tracks. It’s thus about a version a little more elaborate of that excellent compilation, for those who would like a little more. The booklet is once again very detailed with a complete biography and a discography. The fans who wish an exhaustive compilation of their favorite group should be totally satisfied with No End In Sight. On the other hand, those who would like to hear only their greatest hits could certainly be pleased with Complete Greatest Hits, which has the advantage of holding on one CD only. (September 2008)

Rhino / Warner

½

Michael Franti & Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers

Michael Franti & Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers

The alternative rapper Michael Franti and his group are back with an eagerly awaited very new album, All Rebel Rockers. It follows upon the very political and anti-war album of 2006, Yell Fire. We can hear a drastic change on this new album whereas Franti and his band went to Kingston, Jamaica for most of the recordings with producers Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. Reggae, dub and dancehall are thus quite present throughout the record, which gives an album particularly varied and energetic. A dancehall celebrity from Jamaica, Cherine Anderson, brings her voice to 3 songs, which adds even more to this Jamaica environment. We can also hear Zap Mama on “High Low”. Franti sings more than ever on this one, a new way for him to deliver his lyrics, lyrics that are still political even if they are a little more personal this time. The album was arranged so that it presents well what the group can do live. Few adjustments will have to be made to bring these songs on stage. Perhaps Michael Franti and Spearhead offer us the best album of their career with All Rebel Rockers. (November 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

Garou - Piece Of My Soul

Garou - Piece Of My Soul

After 3 albums in French who allowed him to conquer the whole Europe, we can now hear Quebecer Pierre Garand (alias Garou) on his first record in the English language. Several of his first fans eagerly awaited his return to a style a little closer to the rhythm & blues he interpreted so well in concert when he started in the business. When they knew he was releasing an album in English, they started to hope for that album, but in fact it’s not yet the CD they wanted. Garou still remains in an adult pop genre where ballads occupy a particularly important place. There is well a few moments with a little more rock integrating electric guitar which we can finally hear, but his fans of the last albums shouldn’t be lost on this one. Piece Of My Soul includes well known collaborators like Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20) which wrote the first single, “Stand Up”. We can also find lyrics by Aldo Nova (“Coming Home” and the title-track) and Enrique Iglesias (“First Day Of My Life”), without forgetting many collaborators of Celine Dion. This 4th album by Garou undoubtedly is his most calculated to date, formatted perfectly for adult radios. Its production is so polished that we even lose the single characteristics of his voice which made him famous. The few blues elements we were hearing in some occasions disappear completely on this CD without personality, too clean to pass the test of time. Some catchy tracks will certainly seduce his audience despite everything, but we would have wished much better from his first English album. Very disappointing... (September 2008)

Columbia / Sony BMG

½

Gilberto Gil - Banda Larga Cordel

Gilberto Gil - Banda Larga Cordel

Legendary Brazilian Gilberto Gil offered us a particularly mixed sound since the beginning of his career in the 60’s, amalgamating beats of samba, salsa and bossa nova to folk and rock. Banda Larga Cordel continues in the same direction whereas the musical style evolves from one song to another. We can hear sunny Latin pop music which is never annoying. Through his Portuguese lyrics treating about technology, politics, etc, we can hear a French song, “La renaissance africaine”. This is a pleasant album presented here by Gilberto Gil, a perfect album for a summer atmosphere. (September 2008)

Warner

½

Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Glasvegas - Glasvegas

Glasvegas is an indie rock band from Glasgow, Scotland whose name is a fusion of their hometown and Las Vegas. Their self-titled first album was issued at the end of 2008. It integrates primarily various British influences with several passages recalling the huge anthems by U2, Coldplay and The Frames. The album begins with a song announcing all the colors of the album, “Flowers and Football Tops”. With 7 minutes of duration, we probably hear all that the group thinks of offering us thereafter, from the rock influences of the Sixties, to very rich percussions, the whole assembled in a majestic production, close to exaggeration. Unfortunately, this first track is stretched in length and removes any elements of excitation which we would have largely preferred to be able to preserve. The first half of the CD is dynamic in a rock sound installing particular atmospheres at the base. Thereafter, we find more introspective moments which in my opinion are less successful. Even if the group doesn’t revolutionize music with this first album, several elements are interesting and let predict an interesting future for the band. (August 2009 Featured New Artist)

Video: « Geraldine »

Columbia / Sony BMG

½

Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple

After the mega hit of “Crazy” and positive reviews for the album St. Elsewhere, it was necessary to come back to us for Gnarls Barkley. The collaboration between DJ and producer Danger Mouse (Gorillaz) and the versatile rapper/singer Cee-Lo Green thus continues again on The Odd Couple. The duet goes in the same direction, without great surprises, whereas we can hear the same sonorities and rhythms previously heard. We can once again make a parallel with Outkast and Black Eyed Peas, even if the single voice of Cee-Lo makes Gnarls Barkley easily recognizable between them all. The main problem of the CD is that it misses an instantaneous hit in the same category than “Crazy”. The other problem, it’s that the most creative moments of the record, those which are different from the previous album, are difficult to adopt. “Who's Gonna Save My Soul” for example is certainly their most poignant composition, but becomes quickly rather annoying. “Open Book” has a totally deconstructed beat which makes it practically impossible to hear. Finally, these are the most comparable moments with the CD which brought them to fame succeeding in diverting us the best, in spite of a feeling of already heard (“Run (I' m A Natural Disaster)”, “Surprise”, and so on). At the end, the album offers good moments, but nothing making it possible to compete with their previous album. (May 2008)

Atlantic / Warner

Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree

After the rather danceable albums Black Cherry and Supernature, the British duet formed of Allison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory comes back with a completely different album. This time, they slowed down the beat considerably, just to make sure to carry us in a completely different universe. The electronic moments bring us again closer to the trip hop we could hear on their previous albums. On the other hand, the duet plays a much more organic sound with an acoustic guitar quite present per moments which doesn’t bring us far from folk music. This softer direction makes it possible to explore an emotional side which was hidden before by the glamour of the ceaseless beats. It also makes it possible for Allison to bring her voice to a level of nuances never reached before. It’s pretty sure that the Goldfrapp fans will be destabilized at the beginning, but after the first shock, they will appreciate this album largely in softness which leaves the nightclubs to bring us right in the middle of a field on a sunny afternoon. Seventh Tree is a solid record which will attract a very new audience to Goldfrapp. (June 2008)

Mute / EMI

½

Goo Goo Dolls - Volume 2 (CD + DVD)

Goo Goo Dolls - Volume 2 (CD + DVD)

After Greatest Hits, Vol. 1: The Singles, a greatest hits collection released last year concentrating especially on the hit ballads of the last years, here is volume 2. In fact, “greatest hits” doesn’t appear at all on the album and with good reasons, since it includes rather less known tracks, rarities and covers. The main advantage is that we can hear a little more of the rock 'n' roll of the Goo Goo Dolls, even if their first years are passably ignored. It’s nevertheless refreshing to be offered the almost punks “Torn Apart” (of the eponymous album of 1987) and “No Way Out” (of the Jed album issued in 1989). We finally find on this volume 2 the excellent “Long Way Down” which had shamefully been forgotten at the time of the previous volume. We can also hear an interesting rarity for the fans of the last years, the demo version of “Iris”. For the remainder of the first 15 tracks, nothing really catches our attention, except maybe that the unit shows a little more energy than all their albums of the last 10 years joined together. The CD also includes 7 covers, effective for most of them. A DVD is also included presenting 17 videos, as well as 6 live tracks captured at Red Rocks. In end of line, this CD/DVD set greatly supplements volume 1 which was used as a real greatest hits collection. (October 2008)

Warner

½

Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy

Guns N' Roses - Chinese Democracy

As soon as in 1994, Axl Rose started to work on this new album. But the direction he wished to give to it, with a more industrial style, created dissension within the group, having caused the departure of all the other members except keyboardist Dizzy Reed. Since that time, various release dates were announced, demo versions appeared on the Web and the group performed in concert on several occasions, especially in Los Angeles. Many fans, including me, didn’t believe anymore to be able to hear this album which became a real joke. Finally, it will have been necessary to wait for the end of 2008 to see the famous Chinese Democracy on the shelves. The album would be the most expensive in history considering every hour spent in studio. It’s thus the first studio album by Guns N’ Roses since 1993 whereas the band had presented an album of covers, The Spaghetti Incident?. And it’s necessary to go back to 1991 to find the last album of original compositions by the band on the twins Use Your Illusion. I acknowledge that I didn’t have many expectations about this new record, but I was greatly surprised at the first listening. The sound is not as industrial as it was announced, even if we can find moments of it at one point or the other, reminding us of the nu metal sound of the late 90’s. We rather easily recognize the sound of Guns N’ Roses (of the Use Your Illusion era), not only because of the single voice of Axl, but also because of the music played by a panoply of musicians. In fact, through the 14 tracks included here, adding up more than 71 minutes, we straightforwardly hear the logical continuation of both Use Your Illusion albums. I believe that if the album had been released 10 years ago, it could have become one of the best albums of 1998. Unfortunately, in 2008, the musical scene is passably different and many new artists of great talent appeared since that time. On another side, all the work which was put together to polish each song makes so that the production is of great quality. And we have to admit there are extremely solid compositions on Chinese Democracy, most of them becoming more interesting with each new listening. The record misses uniformity somewhat, but I thought the same thing about both Use Your Illusion albums at the time and they became classics. Even if it won’t be the case for Chinese Democracy from an artistic point of view, it remains that we have in hands a surprising album, an album of great quality. (January 2009 Featured Review)

½

Hercules And Love Affair - Hercules And Love Affair

Hercules And Love Affair - Hercules And Love Affair

The producer behind Hercules And Love Affair is Andrew Butler, a DJ from Colorado. In 2007, he decided to create his own music with different musicians and singers. The group presents here its very first album, a record offering guaranteed entertainment. Perfect mixture between house and disco music, between brass and electronic beats, this self-titled album presents energetic and danceable music. Ambient electro is also explored on certain occasions (“Time Will”, “Iris”, “Easy”), but disco music dominates, a disco sound of the years 2000 which can hardly be compared with that of the late 70’s, in spite of a few references. The modern sound benefits of an exceptional production which obviously pays more attention to the beats, but which also succeeds in well emphasizing the various instruments, creating a great musical richness. The album is all in subtleties and nuances, and it’s a true pleasure to listen to it very carefully to try to detect everything, without ceasing following the beat. On the contrary to much of other albums of electronic music, this one wasn’t made specifically for the clubs. It can thus live completely in your CD player, even if certain tracks have everything necessary to satisfy club dancers, including the first hit, the excellent “Blind”. Not only the band succeeds magnificently in making disco music evolve, but it presents a completely original and unique album. A true feat of ingenuity for this new group with a future paved of gold! The US version of the album contains 2 bonus tracks (“Classique #2” and “Roar”), as well as an enhanced section presenting the video for “Blind”. (January 2009 Featured New Artist)

DFA / EMI

½

Jolie Holland - The Living And The Dead

Jolie Holland - The Living And The Dead

After 3 resolutely folk albums, anchored firmly in the American roots, here is that Jolie Holland takes a more urban direction with a sound and subjects of the years 2000. Her soft voice is once again absolutely splendid and it’s accompanied by the quite as superb guitar of Mr. Ward and Marc Ribot (a Tom Waits and Elvis Costello collaborator). In spite of its folk simplicity, The Living And The Dead has a sure musical richness and gets a particularly pleasant cordial feeling. It still offers a few moments of jazz, country and blues. She even tries to rock on “Your Big Hands”, a song that the Rolling Stones would certainly not have disavowed. In spite of this more contemporary sound, Holland still interprets folk standards: the classic “Love Henry” and, in conclusion of the CD, “Enjoy Yourself”. Jolie Holland probably presents her most comprehensive album to date, even if certain moments may annoy certain listeners that are not experts of her music. (December 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

HorrorPops - Kiss Kiss Kill Kill

Patricia Day and Kim Nekroman (of Nekromantix) are back with the 3rd album of HorrorPops. I had loved their 2 first CDs released in 2004 and 2005 whereas the Danishes offered us a very interesting mixture of genres around psychobilly, their style of predilection. Kiss Kiss Kill Kill continues in the same direction, this time by paying tribute to cinema. The quintet becomes again a trio for this record which comprises its batch of energetic and effective tracks once again. Among the most interesting ones, we can find the opening track, “Thelma & Louise”, the excellent “MissFit” (which contains a part of “Our House” of Madness with new lyrics), “Boot2boot”, “Heading For The Disco?”, “Everything's Everything” and the title-song. The second half contains some titles a little less captivating which can contribute to make us lose interest, but the unit remains effective anyway. (April 2008)

HellCat / Epitaph

½

Hot Chip - Made In The Dark

Hot Chip - Made In The Dark

Hot Chip is a band from London which is already releasing its 4th album. They give us a perfect mixture of rock and electro to build energetic and extremely effective music. Some techno beats somewhat bring us closer to industrial music, which makes at the same time the group a little less accessible. On the other hand, the group offers in general good pop songs which can be passably catchy, as it’s the case with the hit “Ready For The Floor” for example. The album is varied and particularly creative. However, it contains ballads frankly annoying and deadening like “Whistle For Will”, “In The Privacy Of Our Love”, “We're Looking For A Lot Of Love” and the title-song. These 4 tracks excluded would make of Made In The Dark a first quality album, even if it remains entertaining and pleasant to listen. The group doubtless reached here the top of its career. (July 2008)

EMI

½

I Am Ghost - Those We Leave Behind

I Am Ghost - Those We Leave Behind

On this 3rd album, the band from South California I Am Ghost presents an unquestionable reorientation. The group, which underwent various changes of personnel in 2007 behind singer Steve Juliano, drops aside the rock opera of the excellent Lover’s Requiem. The band concentrates on a punk/screamo/goth sound with very effective melodies and an incomparable energy. As for the incredible guitar solos, they are directly borrowed from the power metal movement. All that covering dark and tragic lyrics, typical themes to goth metal. It’s thus a whole panoply of influences which I Am Ghost presents to us once again. The excellent “Don't Wake Up” gives the tone to this incomparable record which contains many unforgettable melodies. In the middle of the album, the very good “So, I Guess This Is Goodbye” is a sure hit. Those We Leave Behind is completely different from the previous album, but it’s also very solid. I Am Ghost remains in my opinion a leader in the screamo genre thanks to a particular creativity. (January 2009)

Epitaph

½

Zaki Ibrahim - Eclectica (Episodes In Purple)

Zaki Ibrahim - Eclectica (Episodes In Purple)

Zaki Ibrahim is a young singer born in Vancouver and which grew up between Canadian west coast and South Africa. She now presents her first full-length album, after an EP which made the people talk in the Canadian underground, Igra In Orange. Zaki offers us a unique music inspired at the same time by hip hop, soul and R&B, but coated with electronic arrangements particularly well done. She has a very pretty voice, but the arrangements support before everything else the music, a decision that I applaud largely. The eclecticism of the album will push back some listeners, but in my opinion, the musical richness and the various influences we can find on Eclectica represent the heart of the album. Obviously the young age of Zaki makes so that she will be able to improve her art in the years to come while polishing a little more her writing and while refining arrangements to build a more consistent unit. Eclectica is anyway an excellent first record by an artist to be discovered for those which appreciate a different sound. (December 2008)

Red Ink / Sony BMG

½

Billy Idol - The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself

Billy Idol - The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself

There are a few differences between this new Billy Idol’s greatest hits collection and the one released in 2001. We can hear anyway 2 more tracks for a total of 18, presented in an almost chronological order. In addition to his 14 greatest hits in career, we can find “Speed” from the movie of the same title, as well as “World Comin' Down” drawn from his last album issued in 2005, Devil's Playground. To add to the whole, we find 2 new songs which are not uninteresting: “John Wayne” and “New Future Weapon”. A more detailed booklet would have probably been the only thing that we could have added to improve this collection of hits by Billy Idol. Moreover, a version with a DVD is also available making it possible to view almost all his videos. Idol’s career had in fact many profits from the contribution of MTV at his beginnings. (September 2008)

Capitol / EMI

½

Iron Maiden - Somewhere Back In Time, The Best Of: 1980-1989

Iron Maiden - Somewhere Back In Time, The Best Of: 1980-1989

Several collections of the best material of the metal band Iron Maiden were issued in the last years and here is a new one. Its most important characteristic is that it covers only the 80’s, the most creative years of the group. It’s offered primarily as a companion to their 2008 world tour to make their younger fans discover the music of their best years. On the other hand, it’s not yet the ultimate collection for several reasons. Firstly, classics were forgotten (“Running Free”, “Flight Of Icarus”, “Heaven Can Wait”, “The Clairvoyant”) and this, even if there is remaining space on CD (9 minutes). Then, we can hear 4 tracks in the live version of the album Live After Death (“Aces High”, “Phantom Of The Opera”, “Wrathchild” and “Iron Maiden”), whereas we would have preferred to hear them in their studio version. Finally, the songs is offered in an unspecified order that the manager of the group, Rod Smallwood, defines in the booklet as the order you would expect to find them in a live show. In my opinion, a chronological order would have been much more logical for that kind of collection. It’s true that it’s difficult to make a complete compilation of Iron Maiden, but while concentrating over the 80’s, we could certainly have much better offered to us. Somewhere Back In Time can be used anyway as starting point to the new fans. (July 2008)

EMI

½

I Set My Friends On Fire - You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter

I Set My Friends On Fire - You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter

I Set My Friends One Fire is a duet from Miami, Florida which above everything else is not taking itself too seriously. They play a screamo/post hardcore sound, but with various insertions of pop and electronics. Inside the same song, they can push the guttural voice to the extreme, close to death metal, and come back immediately with a very soft pop voice in the Mika style accompanied by almost childish synthesizers. The band was initially known on MySpace thanks to its grindcore version of “Crank Dat” of Soulja Boy. With many millions of listens in streaming, the band added some original tracks on its page and became famous before having even released an album. After having signed a contract with Epitaph Records, these two young creators presented their first full length release in the fall of 2008. There is a large musical variety on the album which goes well beyond the screamo genre. A theme is present from the beginning to the end: irony. Nabil Moo and Matt Mihana have fun in creating music and we can feel it. There is no way they will torture their mind; they quite simply have fun. The result is creative and entertaining, even if some good listens are necessary to appreciate all these frequent changes of atmospheres. This is an album to be discovered! (April 2009 Featured New Artist)

Epitaph

½

Islands - Arm’s Way

Islands - Arm’s Way

Islands is a band from Montreal formed in 2005 from the ashes of The Unicorns. They were able to catch attention of US independent press in 2006 with their first album, Return To The Sea. Two years later, the group comes back with Arm's Way, still in an indie rock and pop sound. The opening track and first single, “The Arm”, is a sure hit and the heart of this album which leaves many people skeptics. It however starts strongly with some good pop melodies. Unfortunately, degradation starts at 3rd track, “Abominable Snow”, whereas we can hear frankly annoying moments coated in orchestrations and an overproduction. There is well the disco/rock “Creeper” which is strong, but not many of other songs succeed in catching positively our attention. I wanted desperately to like the album and I listened to it many times, but several tracks forced me to realize it: the guys were taking themselves too much seriously here. In spite of this disappointment, we can anyway hear the potential of this young band which could extremely well surprise us with its next release. (July 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

Jack’s Mannequin - The Glass Passenger

Jack’s Mannequin - The Glass Passenger

The former frontman of Something Corporate, Andrew McMahon, works now under the name of Jack's Mannequin. For the occasion, the composer, songwriter, pianist and singer surrounded himself by many collaborators and issued a first album in 2005 entitled Everything In Transit. A diagnosed Acute Lymphatic Leukemia kept him out of the music scene after that, but he’s back with one of the most highly-anticipated albums of 2008. The Glass Passenger presents once again pop rock melodies perfectly formatted for the radios, but with the difference that we can hear much less the sunny side of the first album. We can understand, knowing what he just lived, that McMahon wrote songs a little less happy. On the other hand, this new atmosphere doesn’t add anything very positive to the record. McMahon is definitely at his best in the most energetic tracks like “Spinning”, “American Love”, “Suicide Blonde” and “Bloodshot”, all of them being songs with powerful and unforgettable choruses. Unfortunately, plaintive ballads straightforwardly come to waste everything and it gives us the idea to go back to his first album or to wait for the next one. You will hear good moments, but also several occasions to lose your patience throughout the 14 tracks of the CD. (December 2008)

Sire / Warner

Jackson United - Harmony and Dissidence

Jackson United - Harmony and Dissidence

Jackson United was formed in 2004 by Foo Fighters and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes guitarist, Chris Shiflett. He is accompanied by guitarist Doug Sangalang and bassist Scott Shiflett (Face To Face). On the album Harmony and Dissidence, the band’s 2nd release, drums are played by Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), but Joe Kid (Mighty Mighty Bosstones) is now a member of the band. Jackson United plays an energetic and accessible rock n' roll somewhere between Foo Fighters and Blink 182, with occasional elements of ska. The opening track, “21st Century Fight Song”, is a sure hit and acts as a true anthem. Some songs will leave you a little more indifferent on certain occasions, but the group is ending the album strongly with an excellent cover of Billy Bragg’s “Help Save The Youth Of America” and “Loose Ends”, 2 bonus tracks. (November 2008)

Acetate / MVD

½

Scarlett Johansson - Anywhere I Lay My Head

The young and talented actress Scarlett Johansson also has a talent for singing and she decided to exploit it by recording this first album, Anywhere I Lay My Head. Produced by David Andrew Sitek from TV On The Radio, the album presents an adult alternative pop sound which can be somewhat difficult to approach at first, but which succeeds in creating at the end a very particular atmosphere. It should be said that the CD almost exclusively contains songs by Tom Waits. The album begins slowly and it’s necessary to wait for the 3rd track, “Falling Down”, to truly assist to the takeoff of this album. The participation of David Bowie and an unforgettable melody makes it the centerpiece of this album. Bowie will return a little later to again lend his voice to “Fannin Street”. “Song For Jo” is the only track which is not from Waits, but that was rather written by Scarlett and Sitek. The single rearrangements of these Waits’ songs are interesting, especially on “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up”, but something is disturbing throughout the record. It’s that the universe of Waits is rearranged here in the manner of Sitek, which leaves not much space to the voice and personality of Scarlett. She seems to be simply used like an instrument inside the project, whereas it’s her name we can read on the front page. An album containing compositions by a guy like Tom Waits can hardly be completely bad, but it should absolutely be listened to as background music by forgetting the name of the singer we hear the voice. It’s a pity because Scarlett could have proposed a project much more interesting, really putting her talent in front. (July 2008)

Rhino / Warner

Tom Jones - 24 Hours

Tom Jones - 24 Hours

British pop and soul singer Tom Jones is back on CD for the greatest pleasure of his fans. He’s surrounded here by producer Future Cut, as well as composers of good reputation like Bono and The Edge from U2 on “Sugar Daddy” (in which they also take part as performers), in addition to Bruce Springsteen on “The Hitter”. On 24 Hours, we can find Tom Jones in great shape, as much vocally than musically. With a sound of today, he succeeds in offering us creative songs in a style which should not be too surprising for the fans of his greatest classics. The warm and sensual atmosphere is always present on involving beats and effective melodies. As much the first single, “If He Should Ever Leave You”, that the excellent “I'm Alive” and “Give A Little Love”, have everything necessary to satisfy his long-time fans, while succeeding in conquering new ones. This is a surprising album which is offered to us here, an album of a very great quality. (February 2009)

S-Curve / EMI

½

Kellarissa - Flamingo

Kellarissa - Flamingo

The girl behind Kellarissa is Larissa Loyva, an experimental singer from Vancouver who has worked with P:ano and The Choir Practice. With Flamingo, she offers her very first solo album. This is about a record in 2 parts: one recorded in studio and the other one in her basement. In both cases, arrangements are simple (even simplistic) with pop electronics reaching us directly without any useless detour. The compositions are original and the harmonies are always of an incomparable effectiveness. The album succeeds in seducing us quickly and the charm will operate thus until the end, 35 minutes later. Despite everything, we can hear an unquestionable evolution between the first and the second part, the first being filled of a passably accessible pop music whereas the second falls into vocal experiments which will maybe be a turn-off to some listeners. Certain vocal experiments (as in “Carrying On”) can remind us of Björk. The power of nature is a recurring topic on the album and very “natural” arrangements fit well in this theme. Here is an album all in softness which we can listen to with wonder! (May 2009 Featured New Artist)

Mint

½

Kings of Leon - Only by the Night

Kings Of Leon - Only by the Night

The band from Tennessee Kings of Leon already introduced us to its 4th album in 2008 with Only by the Night. The album had an interesting success while moving away from their style from the south of the United States which had made of Aha Shake Heartbreak, their 2nd album, a record of great quality combining their roots and modernism. Only by the Night is an album resolutely of its era and it doesn’t have any frontiers. It had a new life in Canada in 2009 thanks to the radio hit “Use Somebody” and several people then discovered the band. The album most of the time offers solid tracks of contemporary rock with a suspicion of melancholy. They play here more on U2’s territory than on Allman Brothers Band’s. Unfortunately, the most effective songs are all in the first half and the second one contains various musical explorations which are not always successful. In spite of these weaknesses, Only by the Night competes certainly with Aha Shake Heartbreak as their best album. (June 2009)

Videos: « Sex on Fire » - « Use Somebody »

Red Ink / RCA / Sony BMG

½

Lady Antebellum - Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum - Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum is a trio formed in Augusta, Georgia in 2006. They offer us contemporary country music with an obvious pop direction, by the vocal melodies and harmonies, and rock, by the many guitars and energetic beats. The mixture of the baritone voice of Charles Kelley with the female voice of Hillary Scott creates a single vocal richness. Even if the band completely wrote and composed this first album, it remains familiar to country music topics, and in this direction, the fans of the genre won’t be too lost. The album is enjoyable to listen to from the beginning to the end, but it remains that it’s the single “Love Don’t Live Here” which is the lead to it. The trio doesn’t certainly revolutionize new country for the moment, but we can easily believe that it could do it in the future considering all the qualities we can find here. A group to check out closely! (March 2009 Featured New Artist)

Video: « Love Don’t Live Here »

Capitol Nashville / EMI

½

Ladytron - Velocifero

Here is the 4th album by the electro pop quartet Ladytron. Whereas the group knew largely how to evolve with each one of its albums being always able to distinguish from the previous one, what we can find here is rather a mixture of what made the “success” of their preceding recordings. Velocifero definitely presents us a dark side with beats that can seem very close to industrial music in some moments, often worrying keyboard sounds in the background and a quite present guitar. The group produced the album itself, but perhaps that the collaboration of Alessandro Cortini (ex-Nine Inch Nails) has something to do with this rather heavy atmosphere. “Black Cat” and “Ghosts” begin the album strongly, and they will be supported later by other quality tracks like “Runaway”, “Kletva”, a cover from a Bulgarian movie for children, and “They Gave You A Heart, They Gave You A Name”. On the other hand, compared to the previous albums of Ladytron, we detect a certain lack of creativity per moments. However, this lack doesn’t affect too much the atmosphere of the whole CD which remains effective. Moreover, it ends in a beautiful way with the excellent “Versus”, a pop duet dominated by acoustic guitar. (July 2008)

Nettwerk

½

Amos Lee - Last Days At The Lodge

This new album by soul singer Amos Lee was produced by Don Was. On the opening track, “Listen”, Lee tests himself as a rocker, but he remains at his best in typical soul songs. He also explores blues successfully on some occasions (“Truth”, “Street Corner Preacher”). He doesn’t unfortunately exploit sufficiently all the possibilities of his voice, whereas several tracks would however offer that kind of opportunity to him. In spite of very good moments, the album presents several easily forgettable songs due to an obvious lack of creativity. Moreover, the lack of balance throughout the CD makes so that we become somewhat lost. It’s too bad because Lee has a single style and an incomparable voice. Better compositions and a clearer direction will have to be aimed for a forthcoming album. (August 2008)

Blue Note / EMI

½

Lillian Axe - Love + War

Lillian Axe - Love + War (1989) (2008 re-edition)

One year after its first album, the hard rock band Lillian Axe came back with Love + War. The group, directed by the guitar virtuoso Stevie Blaze, again offered us melodic metal with memorable guitar solos. As it was the case for their eponymous album of 1988, they now release a new edition of the album for the greatest pleasure of the fans of the band and fans of the hard rock of the Eighties. The only problem, it’s that if their first album missed creativity, it’s even more the case on this one on which the recipe of the previous one is reapplied. The lack of subtlety of the lyrics and the voice of Ron Taylor can be often aggravating. On the other hand, it’s still interesting to listen to Love + War almost 20 years later. (May 2008)

Metal Mind / MVD

½

Lillian Axe - Lillian Axe

Lillian Axe - Lillian Axe (1988) (2008 re-edition)

Towards the end of the reign of the hard rock of the 80’s appeared a group with a single guitar style, Lillian Axe, directed by guitarist Stevie Blaze. In spite of often banal compositions in terms of creativity, the band was able to catch the attention of the fans of classic metal and electric guitar with incredible solos inspired by Van Halen and White Lion. Their eponymous album of 1988 was their first record to be presented to the audience and they now re-release it 20 years later, for the great pleasure of the nostalgic fans of that time. It’s true that the compositions of the band rather badly get aged, but it’s always interesting to hear a guitar virtuoso at work. It’s only sad he’s not as expressive all along the songs as Yngwie Malmsteen, Eddie Van Halen and Joe Satriani do it so well. Don’t miss next month my review for their 2nd album, Love + War. (April 2008)

Metal Mind / MVD

Living Colour - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live August 19, 2005, The Bowery Collection

Living Colour - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live August 19, 2005, The Bowery Collection

In the late Eighties, the New York band Living Colour brought a wind of freshness in a hard rock sound that was largely overexploited. They succeeded in producing unforgettable hits like “Type”, “Cult Of Personality”, “Love Rears Its Ugly Head” and several others. After 2 excellent albums, the group had many problems of remaining creative and they finally split up in the mid-Nineties. At the beginning of the years 2000, the guys went out for a new tour and they finally returned to the famous CBGB in New York City on August 19, 2005 for an incomparable performance. It’s this event we can find here on CD whereas the group plays all its greatest hits, including the excellent “Glamour Boys”, my favorite one. The group begins with much energy on “Type”, whereas they accelerate it passably. Thereafter, we hear improvisation and experimentation on a rather heavy sound where Vernon Reid’s guitar is more present than ever. The band never was that effective during its career and the 12 tracks offered here will certainly give you the idea of rediscovering their work. This is an excellent record by a band we forgot too quickly. (December 2008)

MVD

Lyrics Born - Everywhere At Once

Lyrics Born - Everywhere At Once

Lyrics Born is a rapper from the US west coast, born in Japan. Even if he remains rather ignored from a general audience, he constitutes an incomparable force of underground hip hop. His music was played in several TV ads, TV series and movies and he performs approximately 150 sold out concerts a year. Everywhere At Once is his 4th album. He presents rap music, incorporating funk and pop, which can somewhat approach Gnarls Barkley. During the first half of the album, the songs are well connected together whereas the first 4 tracks are very effective with catchy melodies and beat which will keep you hardly away from dancing for a long time. Thereafter, the formula is blown somewhat and we find various elements largely exploited by other artists these last years. Interesting moments will arrive on various occasions, but nothing completely original. I liked the reggaeton of “Top Shelf (Anything U Want)”, but we practically don’t distinguish the personality of Lyrics Born. “Do U Buy It?” is passably different from anything else on the CD, but it reminds us a little too much of a mix between Outkast and The B-52s. Lyrics Born is recognized for its overflowing creativity and not writing 2 times the same song, but we can say that he deviates from his road on Everywhere At Once. In spite of 56 minutes which will appear undoubtedly too long to you, the album contains sufficient potential hits anyway to catch the attention of many people. (July 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

Madonna - Hard Candy

Madonna - Hard Candy

After the danceable Confessions on a Dance Floor, which was a huge success, Madonna is back with her 11th album, Hard Candy. This time, she decided to ask for the best known producers of these years: Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Nate "Danja" Hills. So we can hear a little more hip hop and R&B in her sound. On the other hand, whereas we would expect a very modern sound, it’s rather the opposite. She was always able to create the tendencies, but here she seems to arrive a few years too late in a genre developed particularly well by female singers like Nelly Furtado and Rihanna. Several songs already seem to be completely expired and they are in fact totally uninteresting. The first single, “4 Minutes” (with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland) is nevertheless effective, just like “Heartbeat”. But, the leading track of this album remains the energetic “Give It 2 Me” which skillfully makes the bridge with her previous album. It’s sad to say that, but several songs of Hard Candy are not worthy of the queen of pop. Some will say that she simply wanted to get rid of the last album of her contract with the Warner label. I don’t believe that it’s the case, but it remains that she could have continued in a direction much more creative and innovative to celebrate her 25 years of career and her recent introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Hard Candy is perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year. (June 2008 Featured Review)

Warner

½

Man Man - Rabbit Habits

Man Man - Rabbit Habits

Man Man is a derivative of various musical genres primarily experimental and psychedelic. Right at the beginning, a name comes to our mind, Frank Zappa. Even if the comparison remains right until the end, other parallels must also be made: Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart, Mike Patton, and others. The group is especially known for its exceptional performances on stage and it was invited to open concerts for bands like Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse. Rabbit Habits is their 3rd album, the first for the Anti label. We can hear a vast spectrum of instruments (organ, brass, xylophone and various percussions) coming to add a great richness to the experiments of the group. In spite of completely burst moments, Man Man has solid rock and blues influences which come to create a certain reassuring musical base. On the other hand, an open mind is definitely an essential characteristic to have before beginning listening to the album. On various occasions, they create a carnival or circus environment through which we almost expect to see appearing clowns like in the best horror movies. I’m not familiar with their previous albums, but Rabbit Habits would be their most accessible to date. If it’s really the case, their 2 first albums were probably particularly odd… (June 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

The Matches - A Band In Hope

After a superb album in 2006, Decomposer, the pressure was particularly strong on the shoulders of the 4 members of the pop punk group The Matches. It seems that this pressure cut their inspiration since the group seems completely lost on A Band In Hope. The solid experiments of the last record transform here into various tests drawing in various styles which have nothing to do with the influences of the band. After the solid “AM Tilts”, “Their City” goes a little too much in the hard rock of the Eighties, “Wake The Sun” in the pop light sound of the years 2000, “Darkness Rising” in a bad reject by Queen and “To Build A Mountain” is quite simply annoying to the extreme, as it will be the case a little later with “From 24C”. The guitar in “We Are One” comes directly from the hard rock of the Eighties, but it’s unfortunately not the case for the beat and the melody. On “Clouds Crash”, they make a real tour de force in making a 2:12 track too long so that we can’t listen to it until the end. We would say this is a missed version of an old Bowie tune. Unbearable! Fortunately that it remains “Point Me Toward The Morning”, “Future Tense” and “Yankee In A Shop Chip” to hang up again with their past and to reassure us somewhat. I really don’t know what the group had in mind, but they definitely missed their goal. Let’s give them a chance to come back strongly next time, but I acknowledge having serious doubts about the capacity of the band to come back with an album of the quality of Decomposer. (May 2008)

Epitaph

Metallica - Death Magnetic

Metallica - Death Magnetic

It will have taken 20 years for Metallica to produce an album that can be seen as the follower to …And Justice For All. The group indeed took a pop turning (particularly profitable) with the black album, before having its dark period with Load and Reload. St. Anger brought them back to complex structures as in the Eighties, but its garage sound wasn’t appreciated by many. With Death Magnetic, the band returns definitely to the sound which prevailed on their best recordings, between Ride The Lightning and …And Justice For All, including the classic Master Of Puppets. As soon as at the first track, “That Was Just Your Life”, we are definitely reconciled with the group which dominated the metal scene during many years. We hear the single rhythm guitar of James Hetfield, firmly supported by the heavy drums of Lars Ulrich and the bass of Robert Trujillo. For Kirk Hammett, he challenges any guitarist to reproduce his incredible solos, an element which was lacking on the last 3 records of the band. Hammett is particularly energetic here and practically eclipses his colleagues. After 4 albums produced by Bob Rock, Metallica finally decided to turn the page and to give the responsibility to Rick Rubin (Slayer, Beastie Boys) which was able to emphasize the best of the group. What is particularly pleasant with Death Magnetic, it’s that even if it goes back to the sound and structures they used 20 years ago, it acts truly as an album of 2008 which doesn’t fall into nostalgia. On the current metal scene which is largely fragmented, Metallica succeeds in presenting a single style through a product of quality which will perhaps push other groups to work harder to remain at the top of the metal of the years 2000. The album includes primarily tracks of more than 7 minutes for a total duration of 75 minutes. The only element I found weird is that they present “The Unforgiven III”, a symphonic track which is interesting, but was it really necessary to remake a new following to this song initially presented on the black album? In the final analysis, Metallica gives us right to our face an album that nobody anymore dared to hope. Death Magnetic is certainly the biggest surprise of the year to date. (October 2008 Featured Review)

Warner

Metro Station - Metro Station

Metro Station - Metro Station

Metro Station is a young band from Los Angeles offering us its very first album. The quartet proposes a danceable pop rock sound integrating many elements of electronic sounds thanks to the synthesizers of Blake Healy. The receipt is quite simple: 3 minute songs with powerful, energetic and unforgettable choruses. Unfortunately, the verses fall regularly into simplicity and become annoying. Moreover, they limit themselves to a 10-track album adding up hardly more than 30 minutes, which is a shame to the CD support that can contain up to 80 minutes of material. On the other hand, the creativity not being always here, we realize rather quickly that it is sufficient. In any event, you will always re-listen to the same 2 or 3 songs, including the excellent opening track “Seventeen Forever” and the energetic mega hit “Shake It”. They are young, and their audience will be certainly even younger… (November 2008)

Columbia / Sony BMG

Mikoto - We Are The Architects

Mikoto - We Are The Architects

Mikoto is a new melodic hardcore Californian band. We Are The Architects, their first album, shows a beautiful maturity whereas the group succeeds in skillfully making a fusion between guttural voice and vocal harmonies. Mikoto offers several interesting moments, even if the group has evolved in a genre largely overexploited in the last few years. I largely prefer them in their most melodic moments, while remaining in a heavy and fast style. The band will have to better define its own personality during the next years if it hopes to dissociate from any other similar bands appearing on a regular basis. Check it out… (November 2008)

Torque / Victory

Millencolin - Machine 15

With Machine 15, the Swedish skate punk band Millencolin celebrates 15 years of career on record. For the occasion, they asked again for the services of Lou Giordano (Sugar, Taking Back Sunday, Plain White T’s) as producer, the same guy who worked on Home From Home in 2002. Another important change for this new album is the discovery by the members of the group of the pleasure to play pop music. Even if they had already explored pop punk on most of their previous albums, they practically completely leave punk music here to offer a completely accessible and melodic pop sound. They explore the rock of the 60’s and 70’s on various occasions and admirably succeed in preserving energy throughout the album. It thus results from it an album entertaining and pleasant to listen, even if it will certainly be hated by punk purists who appreciated in the past their influences of Bad Religion. This is a weird record, but it’s anyway largely interesting and entertaining. (June 2008)

Burning Heart / Epitaph

½

Mobile - Tales From The City

Mobile - Tales From The City

The pop rock band formed in Montreal is back with the follower to the successful Tomorrow Starts Today, released 2 years ago. Contractual problems delayed the process, but Universal Music offers us now Tales From The City. The quintet goes a little further drawing from various alternative rock influences of the Eighties (U2, David Bowie, The Cure, and so on). It’s so different at the beginning that I was somewhat lost when I was listening to the first 2 songs, whereas I didn’t hear anymore the energy which characterized their previous album. Fortunately for the fans, they will find their danceable pop rock sound on “Hit The Floor #7” and the excellent “No Tomorrow”. “The Killer” is also a remarkable rock n’ roll tune by its energy, one of my favourites of the CD. Montreal’s French singer Ariane Moffatt was invited to lend her voice to “Sweet Light”, an interesting song. On Tales From The City, we can find good compositions, effective melodies and irresistible beats. Even if the tracks vary passably, they were able to create a coherent unit. But at the end, the album doesn’t cause the same feeling as the previous one which was almost forcing us to listen to it in loops. Mobile offers us an excellent album anyway. (December 2008)

Universal

½

Moby - Last Night

After the critical and commercial disaster of the Hotel album 3 years ago, the pressure Moby was having since the mega hit of Play finally disappeared. For Last Night, he could again let himself go loose without trying to please anyone. He took his inspiration from many nights in bars and clubs of New York City to produce an album which is basic techno but extremely effective. Even if the album is presented with a structure of a pop album, without any mixing between the tracks, it brings us back anyway closer to his techno style of the 90’s. After “Ooh Yeah” and “I Love To Move In Here” which will not seem very new to his fans, Moby goes into his disco music influences of the 80’s for the danceable “257.zero” and “Everyday It's 1989”. He also returns with parts a little more ambient which would certainly have had their place on Play. “Hyenas” for example contains French lyrics on a characteristic ambient music to Moby. “Alice” is perhaps the less successful of the album with an integration of hip hop which is not very interesting. He goes back to danceable songs in the second half of the CD with the hit “Disco Lies” and “The Stars”. The 63-minute album ends in true ambient music for the last 4 tracks. At the end, Moby is successful in returning with a good album which will largely satisfy his fans. (July 2008)

Mute / EMI

½

Erik Mongrain - Equilibrium

Erik Mongrain - Equilibrium

Erik Mongrain is a 28-year old virtuoso on acoustic guitar who was born in Montreal. He discovered classic guitar thanks to the melodies of Bach and he was then largely influenced by new age and jazz legends like Stanley Jordan and Michael Hedges. He developed his own technique he called “lap tapping”, consisting in typing with 2 hands on the strings as on a piano. He had a passably good success throughout the world with his first record, Fates, and he’s a true sensation on You Tube (www.youtube.com/user/erikmongrain). Equilibrium is his 2nd album and it offers 9 instrumental tracks. We can hear all his talent to use the guitar not only as a string instrument, but also as percussion. Without revolutionizing the genre musically, his unequalled talent of musician deserves we pay attention to him. (February 2009)

Alter Ego / Prophase / MVD

½

The Mooney Suzuki - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 29, 2001, The Bowery Collection

The Mooney Suzuki - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 29, 2001, The Bowery Collection

Here is the first of a series of CDs that I will present to you in the next months, recorded in concert at the legendary punk club CBGB in New York City. The local garage punk group The Mooney Suzuki was there for a solid performance of just over 32 minutes on June 29, 2001. It’s this performance we can find here in its entirety and without additional studio arrangements. One of the most important characteristics of the CBGB was that it had an incredible sound system and we can discover it here with this concert recorded directly from the soundboard. At the time of this performance, The Mooney Suzuki had existed for 4 years and had released one album, People Get Ready, issued the previous September. On the other hand, they play also several songs from their upcoming album to be released in 2002, Electric Sweat, which would be their best album in career according to the experts. Personally, I am not a specialist of the band, but I can surely say that it offers here a high quality concert, worthy of the best concerts of the legendary CBGB. Please take note that a portion of the sales of the CDs in the CBGB OMFUG Masters series will be donated to the Hilly Kristal Foundation for Musicians and Artists (he was the owner of the CBGB until its closing in October 2006 and he died last year). (May 2008)

MVD

½

Morcheeba - Dive Deep

Except for their album Big Calm issued in 1998, I cannot say that the trip hop British band Morcheeba was able to catch my attention. Nevertheless, they present us here their 7th album in 13 years of career. Critics were often divided with Morcheeba, because the group offers a typical trip hop of the late 90’s, with influences of the soul of the 60’s, two genres that don’t always fit well. On Dive Deep, the group comes back to ambient trip hop, closer to what they played at the beginning of their career. Some of the guest singers (Judie Tzuke, Bradley Burgess) bring a direction a little more folk and pop (“Enjoy The Ride”, “Run Honey Run”, “Blue Chair”). The group explores also hip hop on “One Love Karma”, thanks to the performance of the rapper Cool Calm Pete. In spite of these mixtures of genres, the Godfrey brothers succeeded in creating on Dive Deep a beautiful uniformity with a guideline of relaxing music with a great richness. So, this is a very good album they offer us here, perhaps their best in the last 10 years. (June 2008)

Ultra / EMI

½

Alanis Morissette - Flavors Of Entanglement

Alanis Morissette - Flavors Of Entanglement

For her 1st album in 4 years, Alanis gives us an important transformation on Flavors Of Entanglement. Firstly, “Citizen Of The Planet” surprises us by the use of a heavy guitar and orchestrations which almost brings it in the universe of Evanescence. “Underneath” is much closer to her own style. Thereafter, the use of beats with drum loops and electronics, sometimes even modifying the voice, is surprising but is largely appreciated. The production of Guy Sigsworth (Madonna, Björk) has certainly something to do with that. The dark lyrics of Alanis, twinned with these complex textures, form an extremely interesting whole. Certain moments are even danceable (“Strait Jacket”, “Giggling Again For No Reason”), a rare fact for Alanis Morissette. Flavors Of Entanglement constitutes an album of a great musical richness on which unexpected changes of atmosphere are not missing. A few albums of Alanis were able to catch and preserve my attention during the last 10 years, but this one makes me appreciate again this artist of great talent. (August 2008 Featured Review)

Maverick / Warner

½

Bob Mould - District Line

Bob Mould is a veteran on the alternative music scene with almost 30 years of career, with Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo. After the excellent Body Of Song, critically acclaimed in 2005, Mould is now back, for the first time on the Anti label. District Line is truly the logical continuation to Body Of Song which represented a return to his rock roots by leaving aside the electronic experiments. With this new album, he takes once again the elements of rock of the last record, while incorporating some rather discrete electronic elements. On the other hand, he’s letting himself go completely in disco music on “Shelter Me”, influenced by his post-Sugar years. The album brings excellent guitar riffs in accompaniment to the always effective pop melodies, most of the time calm and reassuring. In fact, one has the feeling that he succeeds here in making a fusion between the riffs of Hüsker Dü and the melodies of Sugar, with new explorations of various elements which interest him in music. Once assembled in 10 parts, the end product represents one of the most cohesive he offered us for years. Mould reached an out of common maturity which enables him to compose and play the music he prefers without any pressure. District Line thus constitutes a ripe fruit which we only have to gather and to taste slowly. (March 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

MSG - In The Midst Of Beauty

MSG - In The Midst Of Beauty

The German guitarist Michael Schenker contributed to the foundation of Scorpions with his brother Rudolf before leaving quickly to go on his own. He was part of UFO, and then formed the Michael Schenker Group. This new album of MSG brings almost completely together the original line-up of the band, including the singer and author Gary Barden. Schenker and Barden are accompanied by Don Airey (Deep Purple) on keyboards, Simon Phillips (Toto) on drums and Neil Murray (Whitesnake) on bass. This gathering of legends makes it possible for the band to regain the shape they had at first and to present us an album worthy of their first 2 recordings. Indeed, In The Midst Of Beauty presents 12 good hard rock compositions, highlighting well the virtuosity of Schenker which still remains at the heart of the sound of MSG. I particularly don’t like the production which seems to be choked, as if they had tried to hide defects. However, I am convinced that the play didn’t contain any, knowing the reputation of all these musicians. In spite of this light negative point, it’s about an effective album which will like the ones who have the nostalgia of the bluesy hard rock of the Seventies and Eighties, while succeeding in impressing a younger generation captivated by electric guitar. (October 2008)

In-Akustik / MVD

½

Anne Murray’s Christmas Album

Anne Murray - Anne Murray’s Christmas Album

This Canadian legend of country pop music presents her Christmas album. As soon as at the first track, “Joy To The World”, we feel a certain intimacy, thanks to the piano arrangements. Orchestrations will be added then, but it preserves a great proximity with the singer throughout the album. Anne Murray offers us her version of some of the greatest Christmas classics: “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”, “Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree”, “Silver Bells”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Jingle Bell Rock”, “White Christmas”, as well as the excellent “O Holy Night”, “Silent Night” and several others. We can also hear a duet with the crooner Michael Bublé on “Baby, It's Cold Outside”. Finally, a bonus song introduces to us Anne in duet with Diana Krall in “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, recorded live in 2001 in Vancouver. I’ve never been a huge fan of Anne Murray, but the mixture between her warm voice, the rich orchestrations and these great classics of the Holiday season are rather successful. The magic settles quickly and we find ourselves sent into a Christmas atmosphere, even by listening to it a little too early in the season (what I had to do). Please note that a DVD is included in bonus. The 45-minute DVD is following her Duets: Friends & Legends album issued at the beginning of 2008 and it presents montages of these duets with interviews. (December 2008)

EMI

½

Yael Naim - Yael Naim

Yael Naim - Yael Naim

Yael Naim is an Israeli born in Paris, but which lived the major part of her youth in Tel Aviv. Initiated early to classical music, she discovered pop music at the age of 12 thanks to the Beatles, then thereafter was impregnated of folk. She offers us now her second album, but the first one with a door open to the world. She works with the multi instrumentalist and arranger David Donatien which largely contributed to give a solid direction to the record. Yael plays contemporary folk music with elements of jazz and pop. We can easily compare her to Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan and Jorane, a singer and cello player from Quebec. She alternates English and Hebrew lyrics, with a few French moments, particularly in the very good opening track, “Paris”. You certainly know “New Soul” which was heard in the TV commercial of MacBook Air and which is absolutely excellent. Another track coming up later will make you react. It’s the surprising cover of “Toxic” of Britney Spears, presented here with completely different arrangements, all in softness. As a whole, it’s about a very good album, perfect for relaxation. Her warm voice will seduce you immediately and will keep you on a certain level of intoxication throughout the 52 minutes of the CD. A quite beautiful discovery! (March 2008 Featured New Artist)

Tôt ou Tard / Warner

½

Nickelback - Dark Horse

Nickelback - Dark Horse

Comes a time when we cannot say anything more about Nickelback, this Canadian rock band which is the perfect incarnation of corporate rock. Their previous album, All The Right Reasons, was probably their worst album in career, but it succeeded anyway becoming their best selling album to date with 8 million copies in the US (11 million worldwide) and 112 consecutive weeks in the top 30 of Billboard 200. For this eagerly awaited follower, the 4 guys decided for the production to trust the legendary Robert John “Mutt” Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Foreigner). His influence can quickly be heard whereas certain tracks could have been recorded by Def Leppard 20 years ago. We find among others on “Burn It To The Ground” and “Shakin' Hands” vocal harmonies that are completely similar to what the British band offered us on Pyromania and Hysteria, 2 albums produced by Lange in 1983 and 1987. Put besides these comparisons which can be regarded as a wink or a copy very depending on which point of view you take, the contribution of Lange helps to cement the sound of the group and to bring it to another level. The danceable tracks have a little more power and the ballads contain more subtleties. On the other hand, most of the compositions remain under average, even poor. Guaranteed hits are obviously included, but after the first 3 tracks (“Something In Your Mouth”, “Burn It To The Ground” and the hit “Gotta Be Somebody”), you are likely to get bored quickly. No matter what we can say about them, Nickelback were able to take the vacant place left by Creed in the years 2000 to become a world class band. (January 2009)

EMI

½

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

After a creative hollow of 3 albums, Oasis seemed on the good way in 2005 with Don’t Believe The Truth which was offering quite good moments. On the other hand, there was still a step to do to go back to the quality of their first 2 albums, and nobody believed in it anymore. It’s however what the Gallagher brothers are able to accomplish on Dig Out Your Soul. Excesses and conflicts out of their life, the band can finally completely concentrate on its music. Decided to make the sound of his band evolve, Noel just composed his most energetic and effective tracks in a long time. He offers 6 tracks among the 11, the others being by Liam (3 songs including the excellent ballad “I'm Outta Time”), by guitarist Gem (“To Be Where There's Life”) and by bass player Andy Bell (“The Nature Of Reality”). It’s still Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, who takes charge of drums. The Beatles’ influence is once again perceptible, but it’s rather the rock n’ roll side of The Beatles with heavy guitars we can hear on this one. For “I'm Outta Time”, it can remind us of the post-Beatles John Lennon (we can even hear an extract of a Lennon interview in it). The tracks on Dig Out Your Soul are beautifully joined together and the weaknesses are almost non-existent. The band’s offering us definitely its best album since the masterpiece of (What’s The Story) Mourning Glory? released already 13 years ago. Thanks to what we are hearing on this one, we can easily imagine what could have been Be Here Now if their success wouldn’t have had an impact on their way of thinking and if they wouldn’t have fall into all kinds of excesses. Dig Out Your Soul could extremely well be named like the album of the year 2008. A version with a DVD is also available presenting the making of the album and of the video for “The Shock Of The Lightning”. (November 2008 Featured Review)

Reprise / Warner

The Offspring - Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace

The Offspring - Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace

I had liked their last album, Splinter, which was released already 5 years ago. Their comeback to their roots seemed interesting to me, with always some catchy pop songs as those which made them famous on MTV. One could say exactly the same thing of Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace which presents compositions that we could have heard on their albums of 15 years ago. But, the problem is precisely there: the group straightforwardly seems to turn around and to copy itself. Energy and madness are still present, but it feels like déjà vu. They tried to integrate new sounds, like disco music in “You're Gonna Go Far, Kid”, but without much success. On the ballad “A Lot Like Me”, the group was inspired a little too much by Coldplay, which becomes almost awkward. It will also be the case a little later on “Fix You”, which has nothing to do with the song of the same title by Coldplay issued on X&Y, but which is completely in the same spirit. The production of Bob Rock ensures a sound of quality emphasizing the energy of the group. It’s only disappointing that The Offspring lost the creativity they had 15 years ago. (September 2008)

Sony BMG

½

One Day As A Lion - One Day As A Lion

One Day As A Lion - One Day As A Lion

One Day As A Lion is a collaboration between Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against The Machine) and Jon Theodore (ex-March Volta). They work together since 2006 and offer us now an EP allowing us to know them a little better before they present a full-length album. Through the 5 tracks offered, we hear elements of rap and metal which can remind us of Rage Against The Machine on some occasions. On the other hand, the whole CD seems mainly influenced by Led Zeppelin in their most experimental moments. The particular beats created by Theodore’s drums, fused with the plaintive keyboards of Zack, result in a completely different sound, not easily comparable. It’s thus in end of line an extremely creative EP which is offered to us and it will make you simply impatient to hear some more. (September 2008 Featured New Artist)

Anti- / Epitaph

One Second 2 Late - World Time Bomb

One Second 2 Late - World Time Bomb

One Second 2 Late is a band from the Toronto suburbs formed in 2002. They captured the attention of producer Greig Nori (Sum 41, Hedley, Treble Charger) in 2006 and then started to work on this first album. Nori asked for the assistance of Ian D’sa (Billy Talent) in 2007 and they produced together World Time Bomb which was going to appear in August 2008. As of the first listens of the album, Billy Talent comes immediately to our mind with an energetic rock sound sailing somewhere between punk and metal, but with resolutely pop melodies. The opening track and first single, “Fear of a Nation”, is an effective pop punk song and this overflowing energy, on beautiful harmonies, will continue until the end, with a good evolution from one track to another. Without being of a great creativity, this album has everything necessary to allow the band to reach the top of the charts in the corporate rock category. An effective CD! (April 2009)

Video: « Fear of a Nation »

Red Ink / Sony BMG

½

Our Last Night - The Ghost Among Us

Our Last Night - The Ghosts Among Us

Our Last Night is a new screamo band from New Hampshire. Offering us a perfect mixture between emo and hardcore, the quintet succeeds in playing music that is at the same time accessible and underground, at the same time danceable and brutal. You will wonder how it’s possible, but it’s precisely what makes the force of the group to make this mixture not only possible, but interesting. Let’s say that I was afraid when I heard the opening track, “Symptoms Of A Failing System”, because the group begins truly in the most aggressive hardcore and that I automatically thought that it would be the case until the end. Fortunately, they arrive quickly to an alternation with a style much more melodic, thanks to the vocal duality between the 2 brothers Trevor and Matt Wentworth. Whereas the guys slowly install their style at the beginning of the CD, they take truly their take-off at the 4th piece, the excellent “Recovery”, continuing then with the hit “Escape”. The production of Steve Evetts (who worked with Senses Fail and Every Time I Die) is first quality, which makes it possible to highlight well the main forces of the band, their talent of musicians and their capacity to bring together good vocal harmonies. Without revolutionizing the genre, this first album lets us believe that Our Last Night will be undoubtedly a group to check out closely in the years to come. (May 2008 Featured New Artist)

Epitaph

Panic At The Disco - Pretty.Odd.

Panic At The Disco - Pretty.Odd.

The pop punk / emo band from Las Vegas, Panic At The Disco, made its debut in 2005 with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, a rather poor album in a genre that was already largely overexploited. Three years later, the group comes back with Pretty.Odd., a completely different record which forces us to remove of our mind everything we knew about them. The quartet gained maturity and now they draw in psychedelic pop of the Sixties, especially The Beatles. There is even a surprising and extremely effective folk moment on “Folkin' Around”. What is difficult to understand with Pretty.Odd., it’s that the group uses sounds that were used many times, but it succeeds in spite of everything in preserving a certain freshness thanks to its humor and its joy in life. Moreover, while taking as a starting point this catchy pop sound, we cannot do anything else than unforgettable melodies, which Panic At The Disco makes perfectly. Splendid orchestrations come to add a great richness to the effective pop rock music of the band. If you appreciate the first single, “Nine In The Afternoon”, you will spend undoubtedly a good moment throughout the 15-track CD adding up beyond 48 minutes. The weak moments are really very rare, which makes of Pretty.Odd. one of the most beautiful surprises of the year until now. (May 2008)

Atlantic / Warner

Pendulum - In Silico

Pendulum - In Silico

Pendulum is an Australian band based in England, working together since the beginning of the decade, but presented for the first time in America with In Silico. Their sound is based on drum n’ bass, but it integrates various styles from rock to ambient electro, including industrial. Certain tracks of this album also have an obvious pop direction which can remind us of Depeche Mode (“Different”). Elements are comparable with Moby and the Chemical Brothers, but the name we quickly have in mind is The Prodigy. Their danceable techno beats are completely contagious. Mixed with their powerful rock energy made of a perfect mixture between guitars and synthesizers, they catch us automatically to carry us until the end of this record of almost one hour. Each song is unique and we really have the feeling to go on an exploratory journey in the middle of the underground music industry. The hit “Propane Nightmares” already creates a hype in clubs, but most of the 9 other tracks of the CD have as much potential, from the excellent opening track, “Showdown”, to the superb conclusion, “The Tempest”. Here is an incomparable album which will bring you very good moments. (January 2009)

Warner

Katy Perry - One Of The Boys

Katy Perry - One Of The Boys

After a childhood when she sang at church, and a Christian album under the name of Katy Hudson a few years ago, the young singer from Los Angeles gives us her first real album on which she lets herself completely loose. One could even say that she becomes a bum telling her stories of hangover in Las Vegas (“Waking Up In Vegas”) and her lesbian experiments (“I Kissed A Girl”). Are these stories veracious or is it simply trying to catch attention? The question remains, but I’m thinking more about the second possibility. Curiously, even if many experts already talked about her back in 2004 as the next big thing, it was necessary to wait until June 2008 to see the release of her first album, One Of The Boys. She already had attracted several fans with her first single “UR So Gay”, but it’s “I Kissed A Girl” which started the storm with the media. The song is constantly played in most of the pop and rock radios and it obtains an incomparable reaction on behalf of the audience. For this album, Katy is surrounded by some of the best producers: Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, No Doubt), Dr. Luke (Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne), Butch Walker (Pink, The Donnas), Greg Wells (Mika, Natasha Bedingfield, Rufus Wainwright), Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), as well as Sam Hollander & Dave Katz (Gym Class Heroes). It’s perhaps about the main issue of the CD which contains a little of everything, for all styles, which necessarily goes in any directions and creates at the same time a very unequal album. “I Kissed A Girl” dominates completely the CD and it’s surrounded by energetic pop rock tracks which can be compared to something between Pink and Alanis, compositions which can leave us often indifferent except maybe for “Waking Up In Vegas” and the next single, “Hot N Cold” that I like. When she tries to do ballads (“Lost”, “I'm Still Breathing”), there isn’t something better to fall asleep. In fact, I have the feeling that they wanted to present about everything she can do on the same album to catch our attention, and it works since everybody is talking about her these days… (September 2008)

Capitol / EMI

½

Pete Möss Presents Sober On Strike Episode 3

Pete Möss - Pete Möss Presents Sober On Strike Episode 3

Pete Möss is a quintet from Sherbrooke, Quebec which is on fire with its very energetic rock sound. They offer us their 2nd album, a short 24-minute CD which belongs to a more total concept giving access to a lot of bonus material (videos, wallpapers, photographs, VIP access to the band’s official website, and so on). Even if the album is quite short, they promise more frequent album releases through this concept. The group presents an effective rock n' roll in the purest style of Jonas and Danko Jones, an energetic rock sound to discover on stage. We can particularly appreciate the first single from the album, “Dance With The Devil”, as well as my favourite one, “24 Women”. The bluesy title-track comes back in 3 various parts throughout the record, being used as introduction, interlude and conclusion to this CD which in the end contains only 6 true songs. The album is thus too short to really consider it something else than an EP. This is a good record, but it will definitely be necessary to add to it other pieces in a near future to bring the band on the level where we should find it, I mean at the top of the Canadian rock n' roll bands. Please note that the group could count in studio on the collaborations of Nick Blagona (Alexisonfire, The Tea Party, Deep Purple) and Matt DeMatteo (Mobile, Danko Jones). (December 2008)

Kay / Universal / DEP

Pink - Funhouse

Pink - Funhouse

Before even hearing the first notes of this new album by Pink, her fifth one, we already discover a huge paradox. Whereas the record is entitled Funhouse, its theme is based on the divorce of Pink with motocross star Carey Hart. We thus find several sad songs treating of separation, loss of trust, and so on, starting with “I Don't Believe You”, before continuing with “Please Don't Leave Me”. Fortunately, songs a little merrier like “Bad Influence” and the (too much heard) hit “So What” come to act like a counterweight and passably make the album entertaining at the end. The title-track is also interesting whereas it explores separation again, but with an unforgettable pop melody. As for the blues influenced song “Mean”, it brings the pop rocker on a less known playground, for our greater pleasure. When the album stops, we are divided a little, not to say completely mixed up. Effective songs continue in the same direction of what she did in the past, enabling her on the other hand to remain one of the most creative artists in pop music. Otherwise, the dark atmosphere on several tracks of Funhouse makes it annoying on various occasions. It’s definitely not one of her best albums, but it should satisfy her fans anyway. (December 2008 Featured Review)

LaFace / Zomba / Sony BMG

Stéphane Pompougnac - Hôtel Costes 11

Stéphane Pompougnac - Hôtel Costes 11

At the age of 18, Stéphane Pompougnac was DJ in clubs of Bordeaux in France. After a few months in London, he returned in the hexagon, performing in the best clubs of Paris. He was then made an offer to become resident DJ at the famous Hôtel Costes, where he’s still active nearly 25 years after his debut as DJ. Pompougnac released several records since that time and here is the 11th album of the Hôtel Costes series. We can hear danceable downtempo house music creating quickly a warm and enveloping atmosphere, a perfect soundtrack for your favourite lounge bar or a happy hour party. Pompougnac integrates various influences, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electronic. He also visits different countries, from Italy to Brazil, including England. The unit is so much well mixed that no track really comes out from the batch, which can be in end of line a negative point. In my opinion, the 70-minute trip Stéphane Pompougnac makes us do is very pleasant. (March 2009)

Pschent / Fusion3

½

Portishead - Third

Portishead - Third

After two excellent albums in 1994 and 1997 which made it possible for the trip hop genre to be popularized in America, Portishead completely seemed to have disappeared from the picture. Here they are however 11 years later with the album which continues perfectly the work that was already started and supplements their trilogy at the same time in a beautiful way. Even if trip hop is now part of history, the trio from Bristol, England presents once again an atmospheric style, built on loops, with a melancholic and cordial pop melody interpreted by one of the best singers of the genre, Beth Gibbons, many times copied in the last 15 years but never equalized. What is particular with Third, it’s that even if it’s about the logical continuation of their self-titled album of 1997 and that we can hear in an obvious way Portishead signature, we can hear totally creative and completely timeless compositions. These compositions, fitting perfectly in the trip hop genre, are however still relevant today. If Portishead succeeds so brilliantly, it’s quite simply because its members are incredible creators. After an album starting in a rather conventional way for Portishead, the tracks “We Carry On” and “Machine Gun” approach German electronic music with a unique tension reinforced by the squeaking guitar of Adrian Utley. Oddly, these 2 experimental songs are separated by the short “Deep Water”, a folk song a little simplistic. As it was the case for the first 2 albums of the group, Third is a record needing to pay attention to it and asking for a minimum of efforts on behalf of the listener. But those who will dare to spend time to listen to it will only get rewarded because this is about one of the best albums of 2008. (February 2009)

½

Omara Portuondo - Gracias

Omara Portuondo - Gracias

Legendary Cuban female singer Omara Portuondo is back with a new album, Gracias. Her, who allowed the Cuban music to get recognition throughout the world, is now offering to us Brazilian beats and vocal jazz which could be American if it was not sung in Spanish. At 78 years old, Omara seems to be 30 years less when we hear her powerful and solid voice. She’s brilliantly accompanied here by musicians of a little everywhere throughout the world, with of course some Cubans. She can also count on a string section on several tracks which largely contributes to enrich the musical portion, a music which is well far from being used only as accompaniment. The album begins strongly with a song from Henri Salvador, “Yo vi”, before continuing with the excellent “Adios felicidad” and “O que sera” (featuring Chico Buarque). I largely prefer Omara in her moments with more rhythm, but she remains an incomparable singer in the lyrical songs (“Vuela pena”, “Tu mi desengano”, and more). Omara has the chance to interpret a song almost a cappella with her grand-daughter Rossio Jimenez, the track “Cachita”. Other guest artists can be heard: Pablo Milanes (“Amame como soy”), Jorge Drexler (the title-song), Cachaito Lopez and Chucho Valdes (“Nuestro gran amor”), as well as Richard Bona (“Drume negrita”). Gracias is a rich and varied album which we could easily consider among the best recordings of Omara Portuondo’s career. (February 2009)

Montuno / Fusion3

½

Quadro Nuevo - Ciné Passion

Quadro Nuevo - Ciné Passion

Quadro Nuevo is a German quartet playing instrumental acoustic jazz. Their sound integrates tango and other Italian styles. Ciné Passion is an album gathering musical classics of cinema. We can hear among others “Calling You” from Bagdad Café, “Gelsomina” from La Strada, “Plus fort que nous” from Un Homme et une Femme, “Georgia” from The Gold Rush and several others. We can also hear themes from various films like Lawrence Of Arabia, The Hit, Jean De Florette and Spartacus. Ciné Passion was issued back in 2002, but thanks to Justin Time Records, it’s finally available in Canada. This is an excellent ambient album! (December 2008)

Justin Time / Fusion3

½

The Queers - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live February 3, 2003, The Bowery Collection

The Queers - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live February 3, 2003, The Bowery Collection

Strong of a 20-year career, the legends of punk rock from New England, The Queers, offered a unique performance in the Mecca of punk, the late CBGB in New York City. They presented as much as 31 songs for a concert of more than 53 minutes, entirely recorded directly to the soundboard. They begin with the Ramones classic, “Rockaway Beach”, before interpreting all their most appreciated tracks by their fans. A portion of the profits from the sales of the CDs in the CBGB OMFUG Masters series will be donated to the Hilly Kristal Foundation for Musicians and Artists. (July 2008)

MVD

Radiohead - The Best Of

Radiohead - The Best Of

A best of collection for Radiohead is in itself passably weird because the group presents before everything else albums and not radio hits. Therefore, how to manage to choose what should be included on such a collection? They obviously assembled all their hits, by surrounding them of what could be regarded as the best songs of their first 6 albums. You will thus hear “the best” of their career from their first real hit, “Creep”, to “2+2=5” from the album Hail To The Thief. The 17 tracks offered are presented to us in a total chronological disorder, which can be rather frustrating with a group as Radiohead which has experienced an unquestionable evolution for 15 years. It’s thus about a useless album for the fans of the band who have already all their albums. It will serve only as first contact with them for young people who don’t know the group yet. (August 2008)

Parlophone / EMI

½

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Without any record contract, Radiohead decided to innovate and to offer us its new album only by download from its website. Moreover, there is no particular price and you pay what you want in English pounds (don’t forget that 1 pound equals approximately $2). However, what are they offering us exactly on this 7th studio album? Well, they simply resume their musical evolution, following Hail To The Thief, their album of 2003 which I had liked very much. It was an album which had not achieved unanimity among the critics whereas certain persons thought it was unequal and inaudible per moments. For me, it was clearly their best album since OK Computer. On the basis of these premises, In Rainbows goes still a little further, also integrating elements of the solo album by Thom Yorke issued in 2006, The Eraser. The album, once again mainly electronic, is divided into 2 distinct styles to form a solid whole: romantic songs like Radiohead never did before, and tracks with more beats and interesting elements of rock. Some will may find the romantic dimension of the group a little depressing with the whining voice of Yorke, but the band offers us on this one some of its most beautiful songs at this time (“Nude”, “Al I Need”, “Reckoner”, “House Of Cards”, and so on). The most energetic “15 Step”, “Bodysnatchers” and “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” will come somewhat to break the slow and warm beat of the unit, but they are amalgamated perfectly. In addition to a greater overall solidity compared to Hail To The Thief, In Rainbows extends only over 42 minutes with 10 extremely effective songs, which places it a step in front of the previous CD. It’s an album which can be easily classified among the bests of the band and which will give regrets to the record companies that were not able to sign them before they take the initiative of distributing it by themselves. The album will finally be issued in CD format on January 1. (December 2007 Featured Review)

½

R.E.M. - Accelerate

R.E.M. - Accelerate

For their first album in 4 years, the legendary alternative rock band R.E.M. called upon the producer Jacknife Lee (U2, The Hives, Snow Patrol). The result is impressive since the group brings back the energetic rock sound of their best years. Accelerate contains 11 tracks, most of the time around 3 minutes, for a total not reaching 35 minutes. It’s thus a short album, but extremely effective, which doesn’t take useless ways to reach its goal. We don’t find here the licked and superfluous arrangements of the last recordings, which makes it possible for them to go back to the basics of the style they created in the early Eighties. After a very successful sequence for the first 3 songs ending greatly with “Supernatural Superserious”, the trio somewhat takes a breath with “Hollow Man”, even if it also contains an energetic chorus. On some occasions, the use of acoustic guitars reminds us of their years of folk exploration, as it’s the case with “Until The Day Is Done”. During the listening of the CD, we almost forget we are listening to a very new album and not a record they made when they were at the peak of their career. With Accelerate, R.E.M. perhaps offers its best album since Automatic For The People released 16 years ago already… (May 2008 Featured Review)

Warner

Kevin Rudolf - In The City

Kevin Rudolf - In The City

Kevin Rudolf is a singer, guitarist and composer who grew up in New York City and is now relocated in Miami. An artist with various influences, Rudolf collaborated with several hip hop and R&B artists during the last years. He offers us now his first album, In The City, truly propelled by the mega hit “Let It Rock” featuring Lil Wayne. This mixture of rock and rap gives the direction to the album which sails between various music genres. Rock largely dominates, but hip hop and pop moments, to which are added electronic sounds, makes it impossible to classify the album. We can partly compare him with Kid Rock (but in a direction more pop) and partly with Simple Plan (on their latest album). The CD offers several interesting tracks (“Welcome To The World”, the title-song, and more), but nothing that can be compared to the bomb of “Let It Rock”. (March 2009)

Video: « Let It Rock »

Cash Money / Universal Republic / Universal

Serena Ryder - Is It O.K

Serena Ryder - Is It O.K

Here is the 3rd album by Ontarian singer Serena Ryder. She serves in a way a mixture between Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge, thanks to her powerful and raucous voice. She’s always accompanied by an acoustic guitar, bringing elements of folk and country to a rather corporate rock sound. We can hear particularly effective songs on this record thanks to a very good energy (“Sweeping The Ashes”, the single “Little Bit Of Red” and “All For Love”). On the other hand, from a creative point of view, the songwriter doesn’t succeed in sufficiently differentiating from other artists she certainly admired in the past (Alanis Morissette, Alannah Myles, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, in addition to those named previously). Serena Ryder is an interpreter of great talent to whom it only misses an additional creative touch to make her unique on the Canadian pop rock scene. (March 2009)

EMI

Ron Sexsmith - Exit Strategy Of The Soul

Ron Sexsmith - Exit Strategy Of The Soul

For his 10th album, Ron Sexsmith is surrounded by Cuban musicians. On the other hand, don’t expect a Latin jazz sound, because he remains in an adult alternative style. As the title can suggest, Exit Strategy Of The Soul draws a little more in soul music, while preserving similarities with The Beatles in their softest moments. After an instrumental intro, “Spiritude”, Sexsmith is offering us perhaps one of his best compositions in several years, “This Is How I Know”, which you will have mind for a long time. This excellent song gives the kickoff to this album which presents a beautiful evolution for Sexsmith whereas he seems more confident than ever. The album was once again produced by Martin Terefe and we can hear a collaboration with Leslie Feist on “Brandy Alexander”. This is a good album which will succeed in convincing his detractors that Sexsmith is not only an excellent songwriter but also a great singer. (September 2008)

Warner

½

Sic Fucks - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live October 13, 2006, The Bowery Collection

Sic Fucks - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live October 13, 2006, The Bowery Collection

In the concert series at the famous CBGB in New York City, they had to add a performance by Sic Fucks, one of the original bands of the New York glam/thrash/punk scene. The group was formed by Russell Wolinsky who asked for the services of the sisters Tish and Snooky, then back-up singers for Blondie. Now residing in Baltimore, they’re still playing, but completely aside of the music industry. It’s besides almost impossible to find their albums. Fortunately, this 30-minute performance gives us the possibility to hear their best known songs, including their cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” of the Ramones. The sound is ok and we would have liked to see the visual of it, but we will not complain, having the chance to have in hands a CD of Sic Fucks… (April 2009)

MVD

Simple Plan - Simple Plan

Simple Plan - Simple Plan

The band from Montreal Simple plan finally presents its 3rd album, a CD eagerly awaited by their fans, following the world success of Still Not Getting Any… which was released 4 years ago. We realize on the first impression that the 5 guys acquired a great maturity during the last years and that it can be heard in their music. They go back with pleasure into their first influences while letting themselves getting inspired by rock bands of the 80’s like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. It’s particularly obvious with the power pop song “Take My Hand”, a very energetic track which is certainly my favorite of the album. It arrives at the 2nd track of the CD, immediately after the mega hit “When I'm Gone” which was already played in rotation on the radio for months before the issue of the album. Another aspect largely present on the album is the use of pop melodies and very contemporary R&B (and especially very distant from their punk influences!), probably insufflated by new collaborators like Nate “Danja” Hills (Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran, Nelly Furtado), Max Martin (James Blunt, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne) and Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Mudvayne). In this new direction, “The End” uses much electronics, with the voice of Pierre Bouvier which is transformed and practically impossible to recognize. The presence of many insipid ballads once again remains the most important weakness on the record, even if it’s what attracts a great portion of their audience. After 2 consecutive ballads as “Your Love Is A Lie” and “Save You”, we largely applaud the arrival of the excellent “Generation” and a track in a style a little more classic for Simple plan, “Time To Say Goodbye”. After another ballad too long for me, entitled ironically “I Can Wait Forever”, we have the feeling to hear guitar by The Edge of U2 at the beginning of “Holding On”, another ballad, but a little more energetic and interesting this time. When “No Love” begins, one more ballad, we have a discouragement feeling and we simply say to ourselves: “Enough is enough!”. So, if despite everything you have the necessary courage to wait for the 11th and last track, “What If”, you will hear an excellent orchestration in introduction to a good rock song, another of these tracks influenced somewhat by the hard rock of the 80’s. To conclude, this new album by Simple plan contains some effective compositions and it’s too bad they are drowned in as many slow and not interesting songs (unless this aspect of their music attracts you). A deluxe edition of the album is also available with 2 bonus tracks (“Running Out Of Time” and an acoustic version of “When I'm Gone”) as well as a DVD. (April 2008 Featured Review)

Atlantic / Warner

Guilty Simpson - Ode To The Ghetto

Guilty Simpson - Ode To The Ghetto

The 31 year old MC from Detroit Guilty Simpson was already active for the last couple of years on the local hip hop scene, but Ode To The Ghetto is his first official album. He claims to be able to offer harder hip hop than the average, even if he also likes the art of creating rhymes. His lyrics are indeed passably hard, but he succeeds in largely softening it thanks to effective melodies. A certain musical richness wraps the whole to make of it an album which we can listen to only with our musical ear, without paying too much attention to the lyrics. He reminds us 50 Cent on several occasions. Ode To The Ghetto is a very good first album to which it misses only a big hit which could make him seen on MTV. The excellent “Getting Bitches” could perhaps play this role, if it was different lyrics. (April 2008 Featured New Artist)

Stones Throw / Koch

½

Sing It Loud - Come Around

Sing It Loud - Come Around

Sing It Loud is a young band from Mineapolis, Minnesota which was discovered in 2007 and was signed on the Epitaph Records label. They had only performed 7 concerts at that time. Sing It Loud presents a pop rock sound with shy punk rock and hard rock influences, a rare fact for a band on this famous punk label. Not being able even to speak about pop punk here, it’s certainly not a group which will catch the attention of the punk genre purists. The album has a foreground production on the other hand and it’s Motion City Soundtrack guitarist, Josh Cain, who takes charge of production, whereas Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182) deals with mixing. We can hear guest artists on 2 tracks of the CD: Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack on “We're Not Afraid” and Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low on “No One Can Touch Us”. The album has particularly effective choruses which will force you to sing with them as suggested by the name of the band. Sing It Loud will certainly not revolutionize the world of music with this album, but the guys present anyway effective compositions which will like a young audience, listeners that are fans of Metro Station, Plain White T’s, and others. (February 2009 Featured New Artist)

Epitaph

½

The Sound of Animals Fighting - The Ocean and the Sun

The Sound of Animals Fighting - The Ocean and the Sun

I had had a lot of problems to get into the music of the previous record by the experimental collective The Sound of Animals Fighting, because it was a little too cacophonous for me. This 3rd album is a little more structured musically, which thus makes it slightly more “accessible”. But we shouldn’t be mistaken: the anonymous quartet remains before everything else a totally experimental creative concept. On The Ocean and the Sun, they explore the vastness of nature in a visionary and highly inventive test. The fact of adding up a kind of structure to their music doesn’t remove anything from their creativity and brings on the contrary the sound of the collective group at a more interesting level. Obviously, you will need some good attentive listens to seize all the subtleties of the album, but the effort will reward you greatly. A very good album of noisy experimental rock! (February 2009)

Epitaph

½

Britney Spears - Circus

Britney Spears - Circus

Blackout was issued a little more than one year ago whereas Britney was in a heap of personal problems. The album was thus somewhat easily forgotten, in spite of the mega hit of “Gimme More” and very solid dancing tracks that were perfect for clubs. She comes back now with Circus and they insist (perhaps a little too much) to say to us that she’s now feeling good and that she took her life in hands. On the contrary to all the magazines about stars, what interests me is what she presents on record, therefore I will stick to this aspect. The album opens strongly with the hit “Womanizer” and the title-song. “Out From Under” is a ballad frankly annoying, but it’s fortunately followed by one of the best songs Britney ever recorded, “Kill The Lights”, a future hit single. “Shattered Glass” is a techno track approaching somewhat her previous album, but to which it misses this little thing we don’t really know that DJs will certainly find by remixing it. Britney was surpassed by Katy Perry during the last year and she undoubtedly tries to take back her due on “If U Seek Amy”, one of her most sexually explicit tracks until now. “Unusual You” is certainly the strongest ballad of the album with its very effective bottom beat. The remainder of the record sails between annoying songs, or simply average ones, that are just here to fill the CD… In spite of some titles of great quality, Circus doesn’t manage to reach the musical quality of Blackout. (February 2009)

Jive / Zomba / Sony BMG

Mavis Staples - Live: Hope At The Hideout

Mavis Staples - Live: Hope At The Hideout

Native from Chicago, the legend of soul music Mavis Staples, now 69 years old, returned to her hometown on June 23, 2008 for an intimate performance at the Hideout. Accompanied by only 3 musicians and as many back-up singers, she sings classics from her repertoire and traditional ones. Several of the tracks offered are from her most recent album We’ll Never Turn Back. The concert begins with a quite personal version of “For What It's Worth” from Buffalo Springfield, a good way of heating the crowd. Thereafter, she offers an excellent mixture of soul, gospel and rock, a little in the manner of Creedence Clearwater Revival in a version a little more stripped down. Obviously, her voice is not as powerful as it was in her younger years in the high notes, but she still plays magnificently with the lower notes. It’s all the black American history we can feel behind Mavis Staples’ performance on stage, like if she was carrying by herself the memories of a whole era. The main default of this album is that I would have preferred to be able to view the performance on DVD. (December 2008)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Static Thought - The Motive For Movement

Static Thought - The Motive For Movement

I liked very much their first album issued last year, In The Trenches, because it brought new energy to punk music. We could finally hear a creative and energetic band which didn’t fall into any trap to sell more albums or to attract the sympathy of a large audience. The band from the San Francisco bay area Static Thought is back one year later, for the greatest pleasure of its new fans. The guys still go into the same direction as on their previous record with an incredible energy and various influences which they skillfully insert into their unique hardcore punk sound. They present us 12 tracks for a total hardly crossing the 30-minute bar. The only disadvantage of The Motive For Movement compared to their first album is that this time, we know a little more what to expect. Some moments will succeed anyway in surprising you, as for example in “Ambivalence” where we realize they succeeded in integrating a 50’s rock n’ roll guitar sound in the Chuck Berry style to their hardcore punk sound. Other historical winks of that kind will be able to catch your attention at one time or another. Static Thought offers us once again a very good album, for the fans of creative true punk rock. (November 2008)

HellCat / Epitaph

½

Stemm - Blood Scent

Stemm - Blood Scent

Stemm is a metal band from Buffalo, New York which has now two full-length albums. With Blood Scent, singer-guitarist Joe Cafarella dares to affirm that the group offers its Vulgar Display of Power (of Pantera). I would tend to say that he’s right since the most obvious comparison to make with Stemm is indeed Pantera and that the group offers here an album of refreshing thrash metal as we didn’t hear much since the best years of Pantera. The group is especially known to have provided the theme song of the UFC where we can still hear them regularly. Stemm can offer particularly aggressive energetic tracks as much as metal ballads. On Blood Scent, this mixture is particularly successful and the album of 11 tracks and 56 minutes is very effective as a whole. It has the advantage of bringing us back in the metal of the beginning of the 1990s even with a production of the years 2000. The fans of this musical genre should definitely pay attention to this extremely talented band. (June 2009)

Video: « Awake »

Catch 22 / MVD

½

The Stills - Oceans Will Rise

The Stills - Oceans Will Rise

Here is the 3rd album by the indie rock band from Montreal The Stills. Released at the end of last summer, Oceans Will Rise presents what the group does best with a fusion between alternative and pop rock. Less experimental than their 2nd album, this new opus uses the most interesting dimension of pop rock that was included on the first record and couples it with an extraordinary maturity for a very interesting result. The CD starts strongly with the excellent and very catchy “Don’t Talk Down”. Three tracks later, we possibly hear their most commercial song in career with “Being Here”. Almost everywhere on the album moments remind us of U2 with compositions of an incomparable quality and splendid arrangements. The guys of The Stills present certainly their most accomplished album to date. (April 2009)

Story Of The Year - The Black Swan

Formerly named Big Blue Monkey when their sound was closer to nu metal, Story Of The Year made its appearance in 2002 on the Maverick label. After 2 studio albums and 1 live album, the band decided to join a smaller record company, Epitaph Records. Oddly, the group offers perhaps its most imposing and accessible album with The Black Swan. The album begins with obvious dashes of hardcore on “Choose Your Fate” which is definitely not a good representation of the rest of the CD. The first single, the excellent “Wake Up”, as “The Antidote” come to really establish bases of the band and it’s this emo style with particularly effective melodies that will prevail for the entire album. The variations and crescendos are very present in most of the tracks of the group. The work on several pieces of the producer John Feldmann, a faithful collaborator of the band, will certainly be appreciated by their fans, but it’s the production of “Elvis” Baskette (Chevelle, Escape The Fate) which comes to cement the sound of the group. Some tracks are interchangeable and will leave you rather indifferent, but The Black Swan is nevertheless certainly their most cohesive album to date. In spite of this beautiful evolution for Story Of The Year, the fans of the group should easily recognize them on this new release. (August 2008)

Epitaph

½

Street Dogs - State Of Grace

Street Dogs - State Of Grace

Street Dogs is a punk rock band from Boston with folk and Celtic influences. We can partly compare them to the Dropkick Murphys and the singer, Michael McColgan, had in fact been a part of them until 1998. State Of Grace is their 4th album in 5 years and it follows Fading American Dream, a true destruction of the politics of George W. Bush. The theme changes completely this time whereas the group offers its most personal album to date. They also include an effective cover of The Skids, “Into The Valley”, one of the catchiest tracks of the CD. “Guns” is possibly their original song that is the most unforgettable since only one listening is necessary to have it in mind for hours. The remainder of the album is interesting, but wasn’t able to captivate me as I would have appreciated. The fans of The Clash and Celtic American punk should find something they like in end of line, even if it’s certainly not an album which will make history. (October 2008)

HellCat / Epitaph

The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed

The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed

The Streets is in fact a guy, Mike Skinner, a British who performs a mixture of electro and hip hop. I had liked his 2004 album, A Grand Don’t Come For Free and he is now releasing his 4th album, Everything Is Borrowed. The instrumentation is passably different on this new record, to start with genuine drums played by Johnny “Drum Machine” Jenkins. We also hear much electric guitar and bass guitar and he occasionally adds up strings and brass. The production makes so that all these instruments do not sound so differently anyway compared to what he did in the past, with the result that few of his fans will be completely lost. Skinner offers us a lighter and sunnier album than what he produced previously, even if he still doesn’t fall into pop music. It’s rather about a record addressing exclusively to the fans of British hip hop that are in search of creativity. The fans of Gorillaz are also likely to find something they like with The Streets. (November 2008)

Warner

½

Terror - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 10, 2004, The Bowery Collection

Terror - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 10, 2004, The Bowery Collection

With 2 albums to its credit, the hardcore metal band from Los Angeles, Terror, performed at the famous CBGB in New York City in June 2004. It’s this performance we can find here on CD. The group offers us 11 tracks for a total of just 30 minutes. It’s violent, raw and intense, which makes us almost happy to be simply seated in our living room rather than being right in the middle of the crowd with ceaseless action. This is about an album which exclusively seeks the biggest hardcore fans. (August 2008)

MVD

Tiësto - In Search Of Sunrise 7: Asia

Here is the 7th edition of the compilation albums by Tiësto inspired by the places he visited throughout the world. This time, Asia is featured with this double album recorded and mixed in Thailand. Once again, it presents nothing less than 140 minutes of techno trance music only interrupted by the passage from the 1st to the 2nd CD. The mixing is obviously of exemplary professionalism and it succeeds in transporting us in an Asian atmosphere with the occasional integration of typical sonorities of the Far East like some keyboard sounds. The double album is rather clearly divided into two parts: the first CD is especially centered on atmospheric techno (and is perhaps my favorite Tiësto disc since a long time), whereas the second is more based on energy. Tiësto is on a North America tour all summer with 36 performances in clubs of the United States and Canada. He will be besides in Quebec City for a huge party at Centre de foires Expo-Cité on August 30, 2008. Who knows, it will perhaps result in the 8th volume of the In Search Of Sunrise series for next year… (August 2008)

Black Hole / Fusion3

½

Time Again - Darker Days

Time Again - Darker Days

With its 2nd album, the punk group from Los Angeles Time Again continues exactly in the same direction as with its first opus. The group offers a mixture of fast and intense punk tracks worthy of Black Flag and the best moments of Rancid, as well as songs a little more pop punk. Unfortunately, the pop side often falls flat, except perhaps for "Lines Are Faded" which includes an effective melody. The band remains at its best when the songs don’t go over 2 minutes in a quality street punk rock. The most interesting compositions are the opening track "Day Like This", "Montreal (Street Kids)", "You're Goin' Down", "TV Static" and the title-song, the latter being the only track of more than 2 minutes in this list. 32 minutes later, you will have a shared opinion about this album which aims 2 different audiences: the true fans of classic punk rock and the fans of contemporary pop punk who know only vaguely classics of the genre. The album will unfortunately not succeed in fully satisfying any of these 2 groups. (April 2008)

HellCat / Epitaph

The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

The Ting Tings is a British pop / new wave duo from Manchester, England. They perform unforgettable pop melodies on danceable beats of a great effectiveness. We Started Nothing is their first album, containing their first hit going back to 2007, “That's Not My Name”, as well as the excellent “Great DJ” and “Shut Up And Let Me Go”, both used in commercials. Structures in loops and catchy melodies don’t miss on this record which has everything to fill up the radio airwaves and please a large audience. Some tracks quickly become repetitive and the voice a little too high of Katie White can push back a good number of people and force them to lower the volume in spite of the quality of the melodies. Songs as the jazzy “Traffic Light” fortunately come to change the beat, even if it’s far from a masterpiece. Simplicity can often be beneficial to an album, but here it’s pushed a little too far. Of course, you will tap your foot to the songs and you will have the choruses sticked to your head for days, but you will have to take it in very small doses to avoid becoming bored prematurely. We Started Nothing represents in my opinion simply an introduction to this band which has the talent to go much further. (December 2008)

Columbia / Sony BMG

Toasters - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 28, 2002, The Bowery Collection

Toasters - CBGB OMFUG Masters: Live June 28, 2002, The Bowery Collection

After 20 years of existence, the very important American ska band Toasters was playing at the famous CBGB in New York City for an unforgettable performance. This is the concert we can find here for the first time on CD. The group offers us 11 tracks for a total of 56 minutes, but you will only need one song to get captivated. Indeed, as soon as at the opening track, “Shocker”, Rob Hingley’s band succeeds in trapping us, thanks to its contagious energy, particularly effective on stage. I would certainly have taken another hour of this energetic music, and a DVD on which we could see them on stage would be certainly well appreciated. While waiting, take the maximum of this CD which could be used as reference to many artists to show them how to perform. (September 2008)

MVD

½

Underoath - Lost In The Sound Of Separation – Special Edition CD/DVD

Underoath - Lost In The Sound Of Separation – Special Edition CD/DVD

After a tour which gave us earlier this year a great CD/DVD combo, Survive, Kaleidoscope, the Christian harcore metal band Underoath entered the studio to produce its 6th album in 10 years of career. The 6 guys from Tampa, Florida are at the top of their art, and they put all the efforts to make of this new album their most accomplished one. The result is impressive. Oddly, the album probably starts with its 2 weakest songs, “Breathing In A New Mentality” and “Anyone Can Dig A Hole But It Takes A Real Man To Call It Home”. They seem both took from one of their previous records, without any creativity nor great surprises, therefore rather standard monotonous hardcore music. Once these 6 minutes are played, you can pump up the volume and appreciate. You will hear 9 other tracks much more in nuances and subtleties. The group experiments a little more and the changes of beats are frequent. The melodies are also more present and effective. The 42-minute album ends in beauty with the almost ballad “Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear” and the epic “Desolate Earth: The End Is Here”, primarily instrumental. The album with original compositions is magnificiently supported by solid production and arrangements. With Lost In The Sound Of Separation, Underoath continues its progression and offers us its best album to date, one of the bests of 2008 in the genre. The bonus DVD in the special edition offers a 38-minute documentary about the production of the album in studio. It’s very interesting, but it doesn’t justify paying more, therefore this special edition is for their biggest fans only. (December 2008)

Solid State / Tooth & Nail / EMI

½

Underoath - Survive, Kaleidoscope (CD + DVD)

Underoath - Survive, Kaleidoscope (CD + DVD)

Survive, Kaleidoscope is the first live CD/DVD by the Christian metalcore band Underoath. Recorded in different cities in fall 2007, the 12 tracks of the CD include 9 cuts from their most recent album, Define The Great Line. The DVD is much more interesting, because it includes a full concert captured on October 28, 2007 at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. The 14-track concert for a total of 65 minutes is presented with a very good image quality in widescreen format. It emphasizes well the lightings used for the show, as well as the performance of the musicians. The energy spent on stage is impressive and the band seems to have truly arrived at the top of its career. Instead of presenting us a CD with a bonus DVD, I think it would have been largely better to sell the DVD as a product by itself, because it’s by far the best part of Survive, Kaleidoscope. The 4th album of Underoath, Lost In The Sound Of Separation, will be in store on September 2. (September 2008)

Solid State / Tooth & Nail / EMI

½

The Verve - Forth

The Verve - Forth

In 1997, the album Urban Hymns, propelled by the mega hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, made it possible for the excellent British band The Verve to leave the shade. On the other hand, the group went back there quickly since it disintegrated and didn’t re-record anything else since that time. Eleven years later, the group presents finally its 4th album with an evocative title. In spite of the years that passed and the evolution of the world of music, the group presents here the obvious follower to Urban Hymns. Same riffs and atmosphere make so that the fans won’t have any problems to recognize their favorite band. “Love Is Noise” is a natural hit with its danceable rhythm. For the remainder, The Verve is still in a very British ambient sound, somewhere between Coldplay and Travis, with a little something of the Flaming Lips. Certain songs are stretched unnecessarily, which makes them unpleasant at a certain point. In fact, if the album begins again where the previous one stopped, it doesn’t go further on the other hand. During certain moments, I had the feeling to hear the solo work (often poor) of Richard Ashcroft who would have been surrounded a little better. Finally, we realize quickly that we didn’t need a new album by The Verve and the trilogy presented a beautiful evolution which was enough for us. Certain moments are nevertheless interesting, but the ensemble represents a step back for the group. (October 2008)

Virgin / EMI

Martha Wainwright - I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too

Martha Wainwright - I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too

Montrealer Martha Wainwright had offered us an excellent first album of contemporary folk in 2005. She comes back now with a record taking another direction. Even if we can still hear the acoustic folk sound of the first CD on various occasions, Martha explores more pop music on I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too. Through 14 songs, including 12 of her own compositions, she approaches topics that are not always merry about separation and various other couple problems. Despite everything, she succeeds, thanks to dynamic music in many occasions, to put a ray of sun in this album which could have easily fallen into melodrama. It’s thus a recording which is pleasant to listen to from the beginning to the end. In addition to her 12 original compositions, Martha offers 2 covers: “See Emily Play”, a classic song from the first era of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett on the microphone, and “Love Is A Stranger” of Eurythmics. If her first album made it possible to the world to know that Rufus had a younger sister with a great talent, Martha takes now the lead of her career with her single voice and a sound which is unique to her. Here is an album full of very great qualities. (March 2009)

Video: « You Cheated Me »

Weezer - Weezer (The Red Album)

Weezer - Weezer (The Red Album)

Since the only albums of Weezer to have truly been successful were eponymous (the blue album and the green album), why not return to the winning method with the red album. On this one, Rivers Cuomo breaks the formula of the 3-minute pop songs on several occasions. He makes a try with songs in different movements, especially on “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”, like Green Day did so well on its last album. He even explores rap in “Everybody Get Dangerous”, which can remind us of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In spite of these “experiments”, the group still offers effective pop songs, starting with the first single, the excellent “Pork and Beans”. Cuomo leaves the mic to guitarist Brian Bell for the song he composed, “Thought I Knew”. He does the same for bassist Scott Shriner who co-wrote “Cold Dark World”, as well as the drummer Pat Wilson who wrote “Automatic”. The result is an extremely varied album which goes in all kinds of atmospheres through the 10 tunes it includes. On the other hand, few songs are uninteresting and the undeniable talent of Cuomo to lay unforgettable melodies achieves the goal once again. Weezer’s red album is the band’s best album since the green one issued 7 years ago. (September 2008 Featured Review)

WE the Kings - WE the Kings

WE the Kings - WE the Kings

The pop punk quartet from Florida was formed in 2005 whereas they all were still in high school at the time. Two years later, their first album was issued (in October 2007), which is now available in Canada. The group performs in a genre which was passably overexploited during the last years and it by no means succeeds in surprising us by its creativity. All was already heard tens of times. On the other hand, the 4 young guys of WE the Kings succeed in offering a performance of quality making them more interesting than many others in the genre. It’s certain that by listening to the album abstractedly, you will have the feeling that all the tracks are similar, the sequence being so perfect. On the other hand, by paying a little more attention to the songs individually, you will discover very good energetic tracks with unforgettable melodies. Also, a considerable point is that the group doesn’t fall into the trap of the ballad, except for the last song, “This Is Our Town”. A first album of WE the Kings which will be appreciated by the young fans of that genre. (October 2008 Featured New Artist)

S-Curve / EMI

½

Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun

Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun

Brian Wilson is back with a new thematic album. He pays here a particular tribute to his native California, often with much of nostalgia. Unfortunately, as it’s about what he did all along his career, that doesn’t appear too original at first. Without returning to compositions of the same level of what he did with the Beach Boys or on Smile, we can say that he’s in a very good shape, ready to present us good compositions. Unfortunately, these effective songs are separated with narrations breaking the beat passably. Finally, we find ourselves rather divided, even if Wilson offers here some great compositions (“Morning Beat”, “Good Kind Of Love”, “Surfer Girl”, and so on). It remains that this is about a good album by the best composer of the history of American pop music. (November 2008)

Capitol / EMI

½

Young Knives - Superabundance

The Young Knives are an English trio composed of the Dartnall brothers accompanied by their childhood friend Oliver Askew. After a first album which was able to catch the attention of the British musical press in 2006, Voices Of Animals And Men, the group hopes to conquer the world with Superabundance. The 3 guys present a post punk / indie rock sound extremely energetic in which electric guitar occupies an important place. The themes are generally dark whereas they depict a quite sad portrait of British society, leading us even to believe that suicide could be the solution (“Counters”). Oddly, when we disregard the lyrics, we have rather the feeling to hear merry and entertaining music. They thus succeed in perfectly sending us their depressing messages with music avoiding lament and whimpering. If we want to do comparisons, we must absolutely talk about Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads, without forgetting the Canadian group Hot Hot Heat. They offer us a second album of great quality which its most important problem is not having songs really differentiating from the others. This excellent CD is available in 3 versions: one of 12 tracks, another one containing 6 additional songs and one with a bonus DVD. (July 2008)

Warner

½

Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: Live At Canterbury House 1968

Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: Live At Canterbury House 1968

Reprise Records pursues its mission of making us discover old live recordings by the Canadian folk rocker Neil Young. This time, it’s about a performance recorded on November 9, 1968 at Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This concert was thus recorded even before the release of his first solo album and it contains primarily songs by Buffalo Springfield. We can hear Neil Young alone with his guitar for a 70-minute concert during which he’s totally comfortable telling stories between the songs. In end of line, it’s an excellent intimate performance which is presented here, even if we would certainly have preferred to rather see him on stage instead of only hearing him. A DVD is offered in bonus and we can hear once again the audio version of the album. (February 2009)

Reprise / Warner

Compilations:

 

15 Years of Paradise: 15 DJs Recap 15 Years…

15 Years of Paradise: 15 DJs Recap 15 Years…

King Street Sounds is a New York City label of house music which celebrated its 15 years of existence in 2008. For the occasion, they issued this double compilation presenting 15 of the best tracks published for the label during those years as chosen by 15 DJs including David Morales, Louie Vega, and others. Through these 15 danceable songs, we can easily consider that this collection presents the best house music of New York in the last 15 years. The only negative point that I found by listening to the 2 CDs, is that the 15 tracks are completely separated from each other. It seems to me that it would have been natural for a compilation of this music genre to ask a DJ to mix everything. In spite of this detail, 15 Years of Paradise offers 130 minutes of first class house music. It’s thus impossible to avoid it for any fan of the genre. (April 2009)

King Street / MVD

Big Shiny Tunes 13

Big Shiny Tunes 13

For the 13th time in as many years, the Canadian music TV stations Musique Plus and Much Music offer the compilation Big Shiny Tunes. The objective of this compilation is to present some of the greatest rock hits of the last year. This new edition begins strongly with “Pork And Beans” from Weezer and “Violet Hill” of Coldplay, drawn from 2 of the best albums of 2008. Among the other great ones, we must note “Given Up” of Linkin Park, the ballad “Sorry” of Buckcherry, “Nine In The Afternoon” by Panic At The Disco (drawn from the excellent Pretty.Odd. album), “Them Kids” of Sam Roberts, the danceable “Love Is Noise” of The Verve, as well as “Saved By Strangers” by Die Mannequin. The 67-minute album of 19 tracks makes once again this year an excellent musical overview of the pop rock alternative scene of the last year. Here are the other bands we can hear on this 13th edition: Disturbed, Tokyo Police Club, Queens Of The Stone Age, Wintersleep, Seether, U.S.S., Protest The Hero, The Kooks, The Raconteurs, Saving Abel and The Mission District. (December 2008)

Capitol / EMI

Cafe Fuego Volume 1

Cafe Fuego Volume 1

Cafe Fuego is a project by Montreal model Gabriel Aubry, who is better known as actress Halle Berry’s lover and father of her child. In 2006, he opened the Cafe Fuego restaurant in New York City, a venue with a Cuban atmosphere. He sold it since that time, because he spends most of his time in Los Angeles. It’s not impossible that he opens a new Café Fuego restaurant, but in Montreal this time. While waiting, his passion for music gave him the idea of this project, a primarily instrumental record of world beat music with strong Cuban influences. He was surrounded by the Troublemakers (Marc Bell and Cristobal Tapia de Veer) and by many other excellent musicians. In fact, Aubry participates only to 3 tracks on his acoustic guitar, in addition to having co-written one piece. He’s most of all the instigator and the producer of the project. Cafe Fuego Volume 1 presents 11 tracks adding up beyond 60 minutes of very good warm and modern atmospheric music. The CD is likely to be very popular in cafes and the best happy hours of Montreal. (November 2008)

Sphère / DEP

½

Justin Time Records 25th Anniversary Collection

Justin Time Records 25th Anniversary Collection

The label from Quebec Justin Time celebrates its 25th anniversary. Specialized in jazz, this label was since its beginnings the machine behind artists of a good reputation like Oliver Jones, Ranee Lee, as well as Trevor Payne and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. All these artists can be heard on this double compilation making a 25-year overview of Justin Time Records. With 27 tracks, we can also find several artists known universally like Hank Jones, Diana Krall, Oscar Peterson, Coral Egan, David Clayton-Thomas and many others. These 2 CDs thus make at the same time a very good retrospective of the last 25 years in jazz. We can also hear moments a little more blues (with Bryan Lee) or world beat (with Intakto and Quartango). It’s about an excellent compilation, somewhat eclectic, but perfect for a relaxing atmosphere. Fans of jazz will be pleased. (October 2008)

Justin Time / Fusion3

My Blueberry Nights

My Blueberry Nights (soundtrack)

My Blueberry Nights is the first movie in the English language for Wong Kar Wai. It also introduces for the first time singer Norah Jones as an actress. On the other hand, the original soundtrack offers oddly only one song by Jones, “The Story”, the opening track of the CD. The original soundtrack features rather Ry Cooder which interprets 3 songs in addition to producing some of them. We also find 2 titles by Cat Power. It’s also necessary to note the presence of Cassandra Wilson in a quite personal cover of “Harvest Moon” of Neil Young, as that of Otis Redding with “Try A Little Tenderness” and of Amos Lee with “Skipping Stone”. In the end, the original soundtrack of My Blueberry Nights is especially made of rather soft R&B music, jazz and folk, which creates a quite particular atmosphere even when we only listen to it without having seen the movie. On the other hand, for those which saw the film, it will certainly make a success of bringing you back in its environment. (July 2008)

Blue Note / EMI

½

Now! 13

Now! 13

The Now! series wants to be a compilation of the greatest hits of today. On Now! 13, we thus still find the best of current pop music. The first half of the CD has a tendency rather R&B, whereas the second half goes to rock, even if the guiding line remains pop until the end. The pacing of the tracks was particularly well defined allowing a beautiful evolution throughout the 20 tracks offered. The album begins strongly with the queen of pop, Madonna, with “4 Minutes”. Thereafter, we can hear number 1 hits by Katy Perry (“I Kissed A Girl”) and Rihanna (“Don't Stop The Music”). The first half concludes with Fergie, Kylie Minogue and Estelle, whereas it’s Amy Winehouse (with “Rehab”) which starts the second half. The rock segment of the album includes Simple Plan (with the ballad “Your Love Is A Lie”), Hedley (“For The Nights I Can't Remember”) and Lenny Kravitz (“I'll Be Waiting”). We can also hear mega hits by the Jonas Brothers (“When You Look Me In The Eyes”), OneRepublic (“Stop And Stare”) and James Blunt (“1973”). In spite of some songs a little less interesting, you’ll certainly want to listen to the CD in loops. To hear on one CD only all the greatest radio hits of the last months, Now! 13 is definitely a compilation to buy. (September 2008)

Warner

 

 

 

     

     

 

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