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AlunaGeorge – Body Music

AlunaGeorgeBody Music

Singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid join forces to present this first album. The London duo gives us electro-pop music with a strong R&B direction. They first got success earlier this year with their collaboration with Disclosure for "White Noise" and they take advantage of this momentum to issue this record of high efficiency. The rather slight electro music by Reid merges perfectly with the sweet voice of Aluna. The result is both soothing and seductive, which carries us beautifully throughout the record. Many of the pieces presented were already released before, but the new compositions are assembling in a beautiful way for an album of great consistency. In addition to "You Know You Like It" and "Your Drums, Your Love", there is another track that you certainly already know, the cover in bonus for Montell Jordan’s hit "This Is How We Do It". (November 2013 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Just a Touch » - « Your Drums, Your Love » - « Attracting Flies » - « You Know You Like It » - « Best Be Beliving »

Island / Universal

½

Arcade Fire – Reflektor (2 CD)

Arcade FireReflektor (2 CD)

Here is the highly anticipated comeback of the Montreal band Arcade Fire, after The Suburbs three years ago. On this fourth album, the group managed to lay some of its most catchy songs to date, while remaining creative and musically rich. The title track, with its inclusion of French lyrics (courtesy of Régine Chassagne), is also the most successful of the band to date. The group is inspired by different musical styles like afrobeat, electro, disco and dub music to give us a very contemporary sound. Nevertheless we find many references to classic rock (Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Beatles, U2). The arrangements are beautiful with different sound effects that accompany the special structures. As always, the group manages to carry us into its own world, which varies not only from one album to another, but from one song to another. Even if the group was at its commercial peak in 2011 with a Grammy for album of the year, we must face the facts that it has lost none of its creativity. Despite 13 tracks totalling 75 minutes, the album will certainly provide you with great satisfaction. In fact, Reflector is likely to end the year as the most satisfying rock album. A superb album by Arcade Fire, again! (December 2013 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Reflektor »

Universal

Arctic Monkeys – AM

Arctic MonkeysAM

The English band already presents its fifth album in seven years. They offer a great mix of heavy rock and catchy melodies, perhaps the most successful merge since their first two albums. Extremely catchy rhythms and fuzzy guitars add to the overall sound of the album that has everything to satisfy both large audiences and demanding fans. Franz Ferdinand fans may also recognize very strongly through the dancing rock sound of Arctic Monkeys. Despite this more pop direction, Alex Turner lyrics remain rather tormented, but nothing to make the album less interesting. Therefore, AM is definitely their best record since 2007. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « R U Mine? » - « Do I Wanna Know? » - « Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? »

½

Bad Religion – True North

Bad ReligionTrue North

In the case of the Californian punk band Bad Religion, it is difficult after 30 years of career to still expect albums as great as they were at the turn of the 1990s. The band tries somehow to renew his style album after album, but we must say that they are somehow trapped in a specific music genre that is hard to break. Guys throw us a few solid punk tracks straight to our face like the title track, "Fuck You" and "Vanity". You can also hear songs a little slower but effective, with a wall of guitars: "Dharma and the Bomb", "Hello Cruel World", and so on. Greg Graffin lyrics still denunciate and it is in this sense that the group remains relevant after so many years. The overall still unfortunately has many compositions that are disposable. This is exactly what makes that Bad Religion is no longer the band it was before. (March 2013)

Music Video: « True North »

Epitaph

Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe

Julianna BarwickNepenthe

From Louisiana and now based in Brooklyn, Julianna Barwick gives credit to a church choir for her unique sound. In fact, she mostly uses her angelic voice into loops with different layers, sometimes with a simple piano or subtle guitar. She reached the peak of her art on her third album, Nepenthe, while doing better than ever to play with her ​​voice. Her ethereal experimental music quickly creates a unique relaxing atmosphere. It’s so atmospheric, it is found almost on the border of new age music. But it is damn well done! Julianna worked in Iceland with Alex Somers, best known for his collaborations with Sigur Ros. If you are looking for a soft album to create a relaxing atmosphere, Julianna Barwick probably offers the best option of the year. (September 2013)

Dead Oceans

½

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest

The Scottish electronic duo is back with its fifth album, its first in eight years. They pick up exactly where they left off, as if the last record was yesterday. Otherwise, the album is far from sounding dated and we feel that the two guys were curious musically in recent years, an important fact in electronic music. We always recognize their melancholic melodies and atmospheric techno sound. The group even allows a little more pop getaway with "Palace Posy", but it is certainly the only time that can be interesting for a wider audience. Without offering great moments of excitement, Tomorrow's Harvest has solid compositions which will satisfy a demanding public. (August 2013)

Warp

½

Bombino – Nomad

BombinoNomad

Omara "Bombino" Moctar is a Tuareg musician from Niger born on January 1, 1980. For his second album, he went to Nashville to record with producer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). He offers a sound merging the traditions of his country and blues for a very good mix of cultures. Excellent guitarist, Bombino takes inspiration from African guitarists as well as occidental geniuses as Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler. Obviously, the style of blues garage of The Black Keys is reflected in Nomad as well as some funk influences. The whole remains very pleasant until the end and after a few listens, you realize you may have one of the best albums of the year on hand. To discover! (May 2013)

Music Video: « Azamane Tiliade »

Nonesuch / Warner

½

Danny Brown – Old

Danny BrownOld

Although the city of Detroit was doing rather poorly economically for some time, quality artists still come out. This is the case among others for rapper Danny Brown. His new album takes him to another level when he offers his best compositions to date. Brown explores the past of rap getting inspiration in the vinyl era, while presenting a modern production. This is a perfect transition between old school rap and future-oriented rap. Several collaborators are supporting Brown, including Freddie Gibbs, Purity Ring, as well as Charli XCX on the excellent "Float On" to conclude the CD. With this new album, Danny Brown settled permanently in the big leagues. (December 2013)

Music Video: « Dip »

Fool's Gold

½

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Neko CaseThe Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

After a little more pop turn on Middle Cyclone, Neko Case returns to her alternative rock sound to folk inspirations on her sixth album. She still has solid compositions beautifully embedded in arrangements of guitars, piano and brass. The only exception, "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu" is a magnificent a cappella song which showcases the beautiful voice of the singer. Aside from that track a little more immediate and stripped pieces as "I'm From Nowhere" and "Afraid" (a cover of Nico), you need repeated spins to really discover all the subtleties of the album of great wealth. On this new album, Neko dares to explore a little more than on her previous record, which gives one of her most inspired albums in career. It thus adds a major new work to her repertoire that is already well garnished. (September 2013)

Domino

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories

After 20 years of career, the Parisian house duo is back after an absence of eight years on record. For the occasion, Daft Punk does not hesitate to refresh its sound in dipping into funk and disco influences of the 1970s. Their electronic music is sometimes progressive, but also ambient on some occasions. The group pays homage to Giorgio Moroder ("Giorgio by Moroder"), in addition to working with some well known artists such as Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Paul Williams, Nile Rodgers (Chic), and Panda Bear, among others. We also find Pharrell Williams (N.E.R.D., The Neptunes) on two tracks, the danceable "Lose Yourself To Dance" and of course the hit of the summer, "Get Lucky". Other pieces prove to be essential as the excellent opening track which will certainly become a hit, "Give Life Back to Music". On Random Access Memories, the duo dives head first into nostalgia through varied and always pleasant to listen atmospheres. This is an album steeped in creativity, their best in a long time. (August 2013)

Disclosure – Settle

DisclosureSettle

Disclosure is an English duo formed in 2010 and comprised of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. They play dance house music with elements of dubstep, garage and also pop through the collaboration of various singers. After making a splash on the web at their debut, they signed a record deal, issued an EP of their first dubstep productions and now release a full-length album. "White Noise" featuring AlunaGeorge has been successful for several months and several tracks on the album have the same kind of potential, because of their dynamic beats and their unforgettable melodies. Other notable collaborations of interest include Eliza Doolittle on "You & Me", Jessie Ware on "Confess To Me" and Sam Smith on "Latch". Settle is an electronic album of great quality and entertaining from beginning to end. The house purists may find it a bit too pop, but they will still get surprised to enjoy. (September 2013 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Latch » - « White Noise » - « When a Fire Starts to Burn »

Cherrytree / Universal

½

Drake – Nothing Was the Same

DrakeNothing Was the Same

After two albums that have propelled him on the American rap scene, Toronto's Drake is back with a highly anticipated third album. He resumes in his style of rap and R&B rather atmospheric and introspective, but going a little farther, deeper. These are the songs creating a very special intimate atmosphere that are the most interesting ones of the record as "Own It" and "305 to My City". But he also has other unique moments of great quality as the dark "Wu-Tang Forever" and the pop/R&B "Hold On, We're Going Home" (one of the few rhythmic songs of the CD). What remains exceptional in the case of Drake, is that he always manages to stand out from the mass of the rap/hip hop artists we can hear in 2013. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « Started From the Bottom » - « Hold On, We’re Going Home »

Glassnote / Universal

½

The Flaming Lips – The Terror

The Flaming LipsThe Terror

To celebrate 30 years of career, most groups are issuing a collection of hits, are re-recording their old hits or they leave on the road for a monster tour. In the case of the Flaming Lips, they do what they do best, which means they give us a still experimental and difficult to understand album. Psychedelic guitars, hypnotic rhythms and often repetitive atmospheric keyboards form the basis of the sound of this new album. Everything is dark and hovering, and it takes us beyond the clouds, where gravity is less important. In fact, The Terror could be the new Pink Floyd album if the band had not stopped recording 20 years ago. It may be difficult to appreciate, but if you dare to put in the necessary effort, it is greatly rewarded. With The Terror the Flaming Lips add another great album to their impressive career, always on the fringes of the music industry. (June 2013)

Warner

½

Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

Franz FerdinandRight Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

After 4 years of waiting, the Scottish band is finally back on CD. And it is a breath of fresh air that offer us Franz Ferdinand, as if they had finally stopped questioning themselves. The opening song, "Right Action" sets the tone for the album with an immediate song in the same mold as "Take Me Out" and "Do You Want To". The group operates between energetic rock and catchy pop throughout this record with no shortage of potential hits. In addition, with only 10 tracks totaling 35 minutes, there will be definitely a moment of disappointment when the album will end. But the best way to counter the disappointment is to go back immediately to beginning for a new spin that will be even more satisfying. Okay, we would have taken some additional tracks, but the whole is so pleasant and creative at the same time we can only applaud. Here is the album awaited by fans of the first hour! It will bring together music lovers from different backgrounds and they will stomp their feet all together... (October 2013 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Right Action » - « Evil Eye »

Garou – Rhythm and Blues

GarouRhythm and Blues

Pour son nouvel album, Garou revient à ses premières amours, le rhythm and blues. C’est dans ce style qu’il est le plus à l’aise et c’est comme si toute sa carrière de chanteur pop n’avait été qu’une longue pause. Il s’est rendu aux légendaires studios Sanctuary de Londres pour enregistrer cet album sur lequel il reprend des grands classiques du genre, mais aussi des pièces du répertoire francophone qu’il adapte à sa façon. Des classiques comme « I Put a Spell on You » et « Hard to Handle » sont des naturels dans un tel contexte. Par contre, Garou surprend beaucoup plus avec ses relectures de « Quand tu danses » de Gilbert Bécaud, « Cash City » de Luc De Larochellière et « Je voudrais voir New York » de Daniel Lavoie. Aussi au menu, « If I Ain’t Got You » d’Alicia Keys, un des grands succès de la dernière année, « Lonely Boy » des Black Keys et « Bad Day » de Daniel Powter. Avec Rhythm and Blues, Garou s’approprie des chansons bien variées pour en faire un ensemble qui comporte par contre une certaine dichotomie. Les variations sont parfois brusques et un peu bizarres, même si on tente de créer une ligne directrice grâce au rhythm and blues. C’est dommage, car prise séparément, chaque chanson démontre tout le talent de Garou dans ce style musical. (March 2013)

Wolfgang / Mercury

Petra Haden – Petra Goes To the Movies

Petra HadenPetra Goes To the Movies

Petra is one of the three daughters of jazz bassist Charlie Haden. She uses her voice as an instrument and delivers the majority of her performances a cappella. She has especially captured attention in 2005 by revisiting the album The Who Sell Out by The Who in its entirety. For her new album, these are classic pieces from cinema that are recreated in an atmosphere that is personal. You can hear selections from the movies Rebel Without a Cause, Taxi Driver, Cinema Paradiso, Psycho, Goldfinger, Superman, My Bodyguard and others. Also in the playlist, the excellent "Calling You" from Bagdad Cafe. Petra immerses us in a unique atmosphere that may remind many moviegoers’ memories, if of course you recognize the pieces presented. (March 2013)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Julia Holter – Loud City Song

Julia HolterLoud City Song

For her third album, Julia Holter continues her electronic experiments, but manages to make her music a little more accessible. Parisian references of another era mixed with the contemporary life in Los Angeles trace the framework of this very conceptual record. She always adds beautifully strings and brass to her electronic sound and the result is more efficient than ever. We must say that for the first time she recorded in a real studio, which adds a little scale and professionalism to the already impressive music of her previous albums. Of the 9 tracks of Loud City Song, Julia proves that it is possible to produce both cerebral and emotional music, that it is possible avant-garde can reach a slightly wider audience, although some efforts are needed to really capture the essence of her work. (September 2013)

Music Videos: « World » - « In the Green Wild »

Domino

½

Silvana Kane – La Jardinera

Silvana KaneLa Jardinera

Silvana Kane is best known as the lead singer of the pop group Pacifika. With La Jardinera, she presents her first solo album. We can mostly hear covers of songs from her favorite Latin American female artists like Chabuca Granda, Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra. There are also two new compositions: the folk "Cruces" and "Vida Llena" (written for her grandmother). La Jardinera appears smoothly, with beautiful and very touching ballads. It is an intimate album that will definitely be a lot of fun for her to play live in small venues. (March 2013)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

Dom La Nena – Ela

Dom La NenaEla

Produced by Piers Faccini, Ela is the first album by the Brazilian-born cellist Dom La Nena. There are 13 original compositions sung in Spanish and Portuguese with her ​​sweet voice. Simple arrangements leave any room for the power of the compositions. After playing with many French stars as Jeanne Moreau, Camille, Étienne Daho and Jane Birkin, Dom looked at her own songs referring to personal experiences inspired much by Lhasa de Sela. She addressed among others uprooting in several countries, without a clear nationality, on a title like "No Meu País". The coherent and intimate whole is rather endearing and gives us the desire to discover her in a concert experience. (March 2013)

Music Video: « No Meu Pais »

Six Degrees / SIX

½

Halie Loren – Simply Love

Halie LorenSimply Love

On this new album, the American jazz singer makes a real tribute to love with great romantic classics. It includes standards by Carole King ("I Feel the Earth Move"), Henry Mancini ("Moon River"), plus a French track, Francoise Hardy’s "Le premier bonheur du jour". In addition to the 10 covers included on the album, Halie signs three songs: "Cuando Bailamos", "Bare Feet" and the title track to conclude. With Simply Love, Halie Loren gives us an album full of warmth which promotes couples closeness. (October 2013)

Justin Time / SIX

½

Paul McCartney – New

Paul McCartneyNew

The legendary singer and former Beatle seems far from retirement, seeing the pace at which he aligns albums and tours. Otherwise, with New, he issues his first album of original songs in six years. After Kisses on the Bottom last year, which incorporated standards from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, he turns now to the future. Sir Paul has a pop rock sound that is not devoid of creativity. We must say he has contributed to the genre himself with the Beatles, Wings and his solo works for over 50 years. He is by the way having a nod to his past achievements on several occasions, while maintaining a sound of the 2010s. For this new album, McCartney worked with four different producers, saying he would make a choice on who would be more adapted to the album. But finally, he enjoyed so much working with each of them he eventually kept the work of the four of them. We thus find the productions of Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth, Ethan Jones and Giles Martin (the son of the fifth Beatle George Martin). Martin signs the production of half of the CD and they are the most varied songs. He produces among others the highly effective "Appreciate" an electro kind of experimental song. McCartney mixes genres throughout the album, which is both exciting and daunting. Also, his 71-year old voice seems fragile on several occasions. It is certain that it is rather difficult for this living legend to reinvent himself at every album, but he still manages to provide an interesting contemporary work. (November 2013)

Music Video: « Queenie Eye »

MPL / Concord / Universal

½

Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

Janelle MonaeThe Electric Lady

In 2010, a real breath of fresh air came to us with the arrival in the pop landscape of the versatile and eclectic Janelle Monae. Although The ArchAndroid was rather difficult of approach, it demonstrated that it was possible to offer creative soul / R&B music. With The Electric Lady, Janelle continues her work and presents suites IV and V for another full-length album of nearly 68 minutes in two parts, including interludes. Janelle always merges in a great way pop, rock, soul, R&B and funk, as well as often integrating grandiose orchestrations and a choir. Again, you'll need a little patience to get to enjoy the entire CD which can be disorienting on several occasions. Otherwise, the effort will be greatly rewarded. Among the contributors to the album, a few names stand out as Prince, Erykah Badu and Esperanza Spalding. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu) » - « Dance Apocalyptic »

Atlantic / Warner

Paramore – Paramore

ParamoreParamore

For their fourth studio album, Paramore afford many trials while introducing high efficiency pop songs. The melodies are memorable, but it does not mean their music is simplistic. We find electro and orchestration at different times on the album, which is paved with subtleties that we gradually discover at each new listening. The mix between pop and rock is perfectly mastered on this album which has all the ingredients for a great record, despite a total of 64 minutes. Producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen has made sure to get the best from the group which certainly has its best record to date. Finally, the big clean-up that took place within the group in recent years has given the necessary electroshock for this trio to propel to the top of its art. (June 2013)

Music Videos: « Now » - « Still Into You »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Queens Of The Stone Age…Like Clockwork

After six years of absence on CD, the alternative metal band is back with a sixth album, ...Like Clockwork. Josh Homme seems determined to return to the winning recipe of the turn of the millennium when he offers some openly accessible songs as "I Sat By the Ocean". Even if he offers a very varied album, Homme managed to create a solid guideline around his guitar and his voice. The result is impressive in consistency and creativity. One of the main strengths of QOTSA is to push down to metal and return right after in restraint. The unsettling side of the band contributes to always keep our interest by forcing us to remain alert. To add a little spice to the whole, Homme is surrounded by renowned collaborators: Mark Lanegan, Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Trent Reznor, Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters), Nick Oliveri, Dave Grohl, and Elton John. Like Clockwork is a brilliant album, both deep and catchy, energetic and introspective. A very nice surprise! (July 2013 Featured Review)

Music Video: « I Appear Missing »

Matador / Beggars

Shaka Ponk – The Geeks and the Jerkin’ Socks

Shaka PonkThe Geeks and the Jerkin’ Socks

Shaka Ponk began somewhat as the French version of Gorillaz when their shows were favoring animations with the animated character Mister GOZ. Musically, they offer a mix of punk, funk, hip hop and electronic. Released in 2011 in France, The Geeks and the Jerkin' Socks presents for the first time the new Anglo-Egyptian singer Samaha Sam. Can still be found a very good mix of rock and electronic music, but these are the moments of energetic rock' n 'roll that grab the most attention, as with the excellent "Let's Bang". Included is collaboration with Bertrand Cantat (Noir Desir) for the only song in French, "Palabra Mi Amor". We can also hear the rapper Beat Assailant on "Old School Rocka". Other tracks that will surely grab your attention are the highly effective "I'm Picky" and "Sex Ball". Here is a particularly successful and hugely entertaining album that will not only please you until the end, but will require you to play it in loops. (July 2013)

Music Videos: « Let’s Bang » - « My Name is Stain » - « Sex Ball » - « I’m Picky » - « Palabra Mi Amor »

Tôt ou Tard / SIX

½

Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob

Tegan and SaraHeartthrob

The twins Tegan and Sara Quin were already having a career for fifteen years. While the Canadians had a folk rock sound at their debut, they now take a resolutely electro pop direction with a polished sound and many keyboards. They had tried this on Sainthood in 2009, but with Heartthrob, it is obvious that they have a desire to become popular. We can now compare them to a cross between Robyn and Katy Perry. The production of the record has been entrusted to Greg Kurstin who has worked with the most popular female singers in recent years, including Kelly Clarkson, Ke$ha, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen and Natasha Bedingfield. The result is a clean album of the 2010s, with no major excesses or surprises. Heartthrob can be listened carefully until the end and has everything needed in catchy melodies and dynamism to propel the twins at the peaks of the charts. With this new album, Tegan and Sara manage to bring some creative energy to pop. Good work! (March 2013)

Music Video: « Closer »

Warner

½

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City

For its third album, the New York band dropped the African guitars, causing a drastic break with the past. But they succeeded to still offer good compositions, with sophisticated arrangements, although a little less busy than before. There is no doubt that Vampire Weekend remain masters in creating unique atmospheres. Maybe they calm things down, but they still come back with some louder moments. They certainly matured on this album, which may displease some of their fans. However, they managed to evolve nicely. (July 2013)

XL / Beggars

½

Kanye West – Yeezus

Kanye WestYeezus

For his sixth album, Kanye West wanted to maintain the utmost discretion, thus avoiding any song can be found on the Internet before its official release. Yeezus is a strange record filled with contradictions, with an often aggressive direction and rap music including rock and electronics. Difficult to capture at first listen, the album makes sense when given time. Several compositions are of high quality and the whole remains creative to the end. Tracks like "Black Skinhead" and "New Slaves" will probably become unavoidable in Kanye West repertoire. "Blood on the Leaves" is also an instant classic and it contains a sample of "Strange Fruit" by Nina Simone. On Yeezus, West seems determined to let his anger out without restraint, resulting in an album rather far from what one would have expected by a new dad, because he saw his girlfriend Kim Kardashian give birth just days before album release. (August 2013 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Black Skinhead »

Def Jam / Universal

½

 

OTHER REVIEWS:

 

Beyoncé – Beyoncé

BeyoncéBeyoncé (2013)

A few days before Christmas, Beyoncé took everyone by surprise with a new album that has not at all been announced. This resulted in a commotion on social networks where we have become accustomed to anticipate the news and not getting doubled. The strategy paid off as the record has quickly risen to the top of the charts. On this fifth album, Knowles co-wrote and co-produced every song. Probably her best record since B’day, she presents some of her best songs, in addition to several sexually explicit tracks. The collaborators include her husband Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean and Blue Ivy. For the production, she works with some of the biggest names like Pharrell Williams, Timbaland and The-Dream. This is an album of very high quality that offers us Beyoncé Knowles with this self-titled album, a great one in her career. (February 2014 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Drunk in Love » - « XO »

½

Céline Dion – Loved Me Back to Life

Céline DionLoved Me Back to Life (2013)

For her first English album in six years, the Quebec diva tries to rejuvenate her audience with a tinge of R&B we did not know from her before. She even did a duet with Ne-Yo for the mid-tempo song "Incredible". Céline is still back with her team of songwriters and renowned collaborators as Stevie Wonder (who sings with her on the cover of "Overjoyed") and Diane Warren (who offers her "Unfinished Songs"). She also retakes a 1975 hit by Janis Ian, "At Seventeen". Despite some tendencies to modernity, the whole album remains faithful to the adult pop style of the singer. With this new well produced album, she surely manages to meet with her audience again. (December 2013)

Icona Pop – This is… Icona Pop

Icona PopThis is… Icona Pop (2013)

The Swedish electro-pop duo finally presents its first album after the huge success of the hit single "I Love It" (featuring Charli XCX). That hit set the stage for a record on which danceable beats are equally linked wonderfully for only 33 minutes. All the songs have an interesting potential for both radios and the dance floors. We can compare the female duo in part to Katy Perry or Ke$ha, but the Russian duo T.A.T.U. also comes to mind in the way they sing in harmony. Certainly, it is a highly entertaining album that offer these two young Swedish ladies who obviously have an important desire to party. Here is a good pop music record. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « I Love It » - « We Got the World » - « Girlfriend » - « All Night »

Big Beat / Ten / Atlantic / Warner

½

Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne

Avril LavigneAvril Lavigne (2013)

More than 10 years after her debut and on the eve of her 30th anniversary, Avril Lavigne presents her fifth album, an eponymous album. The wife of Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) relies on her husband for writing more than half of the tracks on this new album, in addition to singing with her on "Let Me Go". Avril allows another duet, with Marilyn Manson this time for the energetic "Bad Girl". This new record has good songs, but the Ontario singer still lacks consistency, perhaps because there are too many compositions by Kroeger? Her fans should still find something interesting. (January 2014)

Music Videos: « Here’s to Never Growing Up » - « Rock ‘n’ Roll » - « Let Me Go »

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

Sky FerreiraNight Time, My Time (2013)

Even if she is only 21 years old, the pop singer from Los Angeles is firmly established in the music industry, first with her past friendship with Michael Jackson, and through her contacts with Britney Spears’ producers. A little provocative, Sky Ferreira does not hesitate to strip naked for the cover of her first album, which will make jealous the one who feels a deep need of media attention these days, Miley Cyrus. On Night Time, My Time, Sky has an excellent blend of light pop, electronic and rock. Some songs lean towards a new wave style ("Love in Stereo"), while fairly aggressive guitars are added in a beautiful way on other occasions ("You're Not the One", "I Will"). This mixture of lightness and aggression remains perfectly relevant throughout the CD that ultimately provides a nice consistency. Here is a very good first test for this talented singer which will surely be heard for a long time. (December 2013 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « You’re Not the One »

Capitol / Universal

½

Haim – Days Are Gone

HaimDays Are Gone (2013)

The three Haim sisters are from California and have their first album after many years to cover other songs in concert. They give us a pop rock sound heavily influenced by Fleetwood Mac and electronic pop music of the 1980s. Unpretentious, their music is highly accessible and very pleasant to listen to. It will certainly bring you back into an atmosphere of 30-35 years ago with names like Stevie Nicks and Phil Collins readily coming to mind. Their compositions are perhaps not the most original, but they are extremely refreshing. In addition, they are beautifully interpreted by those sisters whose vocal harmonies are perfect. (January 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Forever » - « Don’t Save Me » - « Falling » - « The Wire »

Columbia / Sony

½

Lissie – Back to Forever

LissieBack to Forever (2013)

Lissie Maurus was raised in Illinois before moving to California. After a first quality album in 2010, she returns with Back to Forever. Produced by Jack Knife Lee (R.E.M., Weezer, Snow Patrol), this new album borrows in pop rock influences of the 1980s. Apart from a few sounds, the record has less country influences than the first one by the singer. A powerful sound makes an energetic album, despite the presence of some ballads a little boring. It is therefore a successful second album that is offered by this very talented artist. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « Shameless » - « Further Away (Romance Police) » - « Sleepwalking »

Columbia / Sony

½

Ladies of the Canyon – Diamond Heart

Ladies of the CanyonDiamond Heart (2013)

The four Montrealers of Ladies of the Canyon are back with a second album, again rooted in California country rock. Otherwise, the female quartet seems more than ever to get inspiration from classic rock, from Led Zeppelin to Fleetwood Mac including Jefferson Airplane. They even do a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s classic "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". However, they had expressed a desire to produce an album of pure country and had even installed temporarily in Nashville. The project has aborted so they are back in the style they do best, this excellent blend of country guitars and harmonies, with a more rock energy. The production of Mark Howard (Tragically Hip, Lucinda Williams, Vic Chesnutt) has certainly helped to shape this ensemble. Despite very strong influences of the past, the group manages to present a very interesting album. (November 2013)

Warner

½

Agnes Obel – Aventine

Agnes ObelAventine (2013)

The Danish songwriter, singer and pianist presents her second album with Aventine. She offers again an adult alternative pop sound with an atmospheric trend. The piano still dominates, but the addition of violin and cello by German Anne Müller, as well as the presence of Mika Posen (Timber Timbre) just add richness to her work. Her very cinematic music can be compared to the music of PJ Harvey, Tori Amos or Joanna Newsom, but Agnes is also inspired by classical music on different occasions. It is a mesmerizing album that is offered to us by Agnes Obel with Aventine. (December 2013)

PIAS / SIX

½

Lindi Ortega – Tin Star

Lindi OrtegaTin Star (2013)

Ontarian Lindi Ortega has a voice that reminds those of Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Musically, she offers contemporary country music. She also has some folk influences, although several songs generally remain energetic with a nice touch of alternative rock. She has some very strong compositions and she managed to seduce us to the end. In fact, it is a very good third album that is offered by the talented singer and songwriter. (December 2013)

Last Gang

½

Dom La Nena – Golondrina

Dom La NenaGolondrina (2013)

Following the success of her debut album, Ela, the Brazilian cellist and singer decided to produce an EP of 4 tracks around the new song "Golondrina". The other three tracks are covers: "Start a War" (The National), "Djian's Waltz" (Stephan Eicher) and "Con Toda Palabra" (Lhasa). Dom gives these songs a whole new color when she interprets them only on cello. She sings in English for the first time on "Start a War", but she also sings in French for the first time on "Djian's Waltz", because she was finding it too difficult to sing in that language before. Pending an upcoming album from Dom La Nena, here are four songs to make you wait. (January 2014)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

Stacey Kent – The Changing Lights

Stacey KentThe Changing Lights (2013)

The jazz singer from New Jersey once again presents an attractive album that manages to create a very special atmosphere. It's probably largely due to Jim Tomlinson’s production (her saxophonist and her husband) who is able to clearly highlight the talents of Stacey of passing emotion through her soft and warm voice. On this album, Stacey is letting out her love for Brazilian music. She worked among others with Portuguese poet Antonio Ladeira and French author Bernie Beaupère. The Changing Lights is a great jazz record incorporating world music. (November 2013)

Parlophone / Warner

½

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Habitat

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Habitat (2013)

In front of Habitat 67 in Montreal posed soprano saxophonist Christine Jensen for the cover of her second album with a full orchestra. Habitat includes 6 pieces, most of them around 10 minutes with a peak at 15 minutes for "Nishiyuu", a piece inspired by the walk of more than 1,500 kilometres by six young Cree in January 2013. All composed and arranged by Jensen, they are linked by places that have inspired her: Canadian Prairies, Brooklyn, Peru, Port-au-Prince, without forgetting Montreal. She is surrounded by the same musicians as on Treelines, including pianist John Roney. There are also soloist collaborators like her sister Ingrid Jensen on trumpet, Chet Doxas on tenor saxophone on "Nishiyuu" and Joel Miller also on tenor saxophone on "Tumbledown". Here is a superb album of instrumental jazz for a dinner with friends or a relaxing moment in the late evening. (December 2013)

Justin Time / SIX

½

Gino Quilico – Serata d’amore

Gino QuilicoSerata d’amore (2013)

Accompanied by Ensemble TrioSphère, accordionist Alexander Sevastian and guitarist Glenn Lévesque, lyric baritone Gino Quilico offers 14 of the most famous Italian love songs. The arrangements by Dominic Bouliane help to discover the environment in which the singer grew up. You can hear classical pieces by Rossini, Chopin and Mozart, but also more recent works such as "Lei" by Charles Aznavour. Among the unforgettable Italian songs, there are "Caruso" opening the CD and "O Sole Mio" in conclusion. (December 2013)

Analekta

½

St. Lucia – When the Night

St. LuciaWhen the Night (2013)

St. Lucia is essentially Jean-Philip Grobler’s band, a musician born in South Africa who studied in London before moving to Brooklyn, New York. When the Night is the debut album by St. Lucia and it has a pop indie sound in which synthesizers dominate. The influences of the 1980s are obvious, but their music is perfectly suited to the 2010s. It is a catchy and romantic album, but also creative and sophisticated. Nostalgic of the overproduced pop music of the 1980s will be pleased with this contemporary band that does not hesitate to look at the past. They are so smart so you cannot blame them, especially when we're tapping our foot on one of the many effective beats of this great record. (February 2014 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « September » - « Elevate »

Columbia / Sony

½

Britney Spears – Britney Jean

Britney SpearsBritney Jean (2013)

Britney talks about her 8th album as her most personal to date. The problem is that with only 10 tracks totaling 36 minutes, she does not seem to have much to say... Dr. Luke, who produced the biggest hits of her previous album, as well as her faithful collaborator Max Martin are now absent. Two large spots that cannot fill a will.i.am increasingly annoying, which produces 7 of the 10 songs and is shaping a new personality to the easy to manipulate Britney. His participation to "It Should Be Easy" is more like a performance by will.i.am featuring also Britney Spears. The energetic "Work Bitch" is one of the most entertaining tracks of the record, even if the techno sound seems straight out of the 1990s. In fact, the most successful song is unquestionably the pure pop piece "Passenger", co-written with Katy Perry and produced by Diplo. This is one of the few moments of this short CD we feel that Britney is comfortable and in control. Please note she sings for the first time on CD with her sister Jamie Lynn on "Chillin ' With You", but these 3 minutes and 40 seconds will certainly not go down in history. Unfortunately for Britney, she still seems to serve as a puppet on this album that might not be as personal as she says, despite some catchy pop songs. Britney Jean is perhaps her worst album to date! (February 2014)

Music Videos: « Work Bitch » - « Perfume »

One Direction – Midnight Memories

One DirectionMidnight Memories (2013)

The band of teenagers from London already has a third album in as many years. Their challenge is to continue to produce hits as they have done with regularity since 2011. Midnight Memories contains enough potential hits to enable them to achieve their goal. Energetic acoustic pieces fit well in the context of 2013 and bring a new musical direction to the band with a name predestined to remain predictable from one record to another. In that sense, it is already more than interesting to see an evolution in their young career. There are also some songs tending more to rock, but those take us back especially in an atmosphere of the 1980s that may seem dated. This is the case among others for the title song which could have been performed by Def Leppard in 1987. The group will certainly succeed in rallying its fans once again, despite some shortcomings of creativity. (February 2014)

Music Videos: « Best Song Ever » - « Story of My Life » - « Happily »

Simple Plan – Get Your Heart On – The Second Coming!

Simple PlanGet Your Heart On – The Second Coming! (2013)

Two and a half years after the release of their latest album, Get Your Heart On!, the popular pop punk band from Montreal returns with a 7-track EP, issued to make their fans wait for a new full-length album. The logical continuation of the album, The Second Coming is not really going beyond that record with greatly catchy and effective pop songs, but that do not really stand out by their creativity. They well be using some keyboards and electronics on some occasions that create a differentiation with the bulk of their work, but nothing to talk about a radical change. So this is truly a record to make us wait for something a little more interesting. (February 2014)

Atlantic / Warner

B.o.B – Underground Luxury

B.o.BUnderground Luxury (2013)

The Georgia rapper comes to us with a third album, Underground Luxury. It's almost a concept album while most of the lyrics are dealing with consumer and luxury. The 15-track album starts slowly with "All I Want" and "One Day" (including a lengthy discussion at the end). It takes a bit of beat with "Paper Route", but it’s when he is accompanied by collaborators that B.o.B really manages to stand out. This is the case with Future on "Ready", Priscilla on "John Doe" and Chris Brown's "Throwback". There are also good times with TI and Juicy J on "We Still in this Bitch" and 2 Chainz on the ideal anthem for strip clubs, "Headband". We find good moments on this B.o.B. album, but it unfortunately has many inequalities. (February 2014)

Music Videos: « We Still in this Bitch » - « Headband » - « Ready » - « Paper Route » - « John Doe »

Atlantic / Warner

Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly

Billie Joe + NorahForeverly (2013)

The leader of Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong joins Norah Jones to record this album inspired of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us by the Everly Brothers. Recorded in 1958, it was an album of traditional American songs reinterpreted in their own way. Billie Joe and Norah took only 9 days to record this well felt tribute to the Everly Brothers by the quality of vocal harmonies. It must be said that the association between the punk and the jazz vocalist is not an automatic perfect match for these folk and country songs from another era. However, the result is quite successful, although we would have liked them to take ownership a little more rather than simply imitate the Everly Brothers. (February 2014)

Reprise / Warner

White Ash Falls – Over the Night

White Ash FallsOver the Night (2013)

White Ash Falls is a country rock band from Vancouver led by Andy Bishop. With many collaborators, he is able to present a rich second album with among others a pedal steel guitar and an organ. The people who surround him include Louise Burns, James Younger, Erin Passmore (Rah Rah) and members of Yukon Blonde: Brandon Scott, Graham Jones and Jeff Innes. The album has good country rock songs with a few moments into blues. Not revolutionary, Over the Night is an honest album that has potential to bring the band a little further. (January 2014)

Light Organ / Universal

Neomythics – Projectiles

Neomythics – Projectiles (2013)

American alternative rock band Neomythics is back with a new album, less than 2 years after New Corporate Resistance. Again, the group managed to merge a post-rock sound with rhythmic alternative rock and pop melodies in the U2 style. This is an excellent mix they offer us, always maintaining a certain level of creativity. Otherwise, the names that come to mind as The Strokes and Television may unfortunately remain a little too much in mind, just as if they had failed to really impose their own personality. The duo of Gregory Howe and Matt Montgomery is once again accompanied by guitarist Harvey Mandel for four tracks, as well as several other musicians. They offer us a record that listens well, but not yet able to stand out. (January 2014)

Ex-Fed

Bombay Dub Orchestra – Tales From the Grand Bazaar

Bombay Dub OrchestraTales From the Grand Bazaar (2013)

Bombay Dub Orchestra was formed 10 years ago by the duo of composers of Garry Hughes and Andrew T. Mackay after a trip to Mumbai, India. This is a project that combines electro-orchestral world music, electronic and dub. Recorded in several major cities, this third album includes renowned collaborators like the duo Sly & Robbie, Asad Khan, Soumik Datta and Tanja Tzar, in addition to a variety of Turkish soloists. Tales From the Grand Bazaar catches its influences not only in India but also in the city of Istanbul, Turkey where was completed a huge bazaar of 5,000 stores on 60 streets in 1461. The duo managed to merge these two influences into a very coherent sound, mainly due to the use of strings to solidify everything. (January 2014)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

Kodaline – In a Perfect World

KodalineIn a Perfect World (2013)

Kodaline is an Irish quartet presenting an accessible rock sound in the style of Coldplay, Keane and U2. They released their first EP in 2012 before giving us this first full-length album. If one can easily understand the influence of U2, Coldplay is especially coming to mind throughout the CD, which is sometimes atmospheric and often tearful. The most ardent fans of this genre will happily welcome a new player in the industry, which has great qualities anyway. Otherwise, creativity is far from being there and it seems like we hear a new album by Coldplay. (January 2014)

Music Videos: « High Hopes » - « Love Like This »

RCA Victor / Sony

Halestorm – Reanimate 2.0: The Covers EP

HalestormReanimate 2.0: The Covers EP (2013)

The hard rock quartet from Pennsylvania was formed in 1997 by Elizabeth Hale (vocals, keyboards, guitar) and her brother Arejay (drums). Despite a debut album in 2000, it took them until 2009 to finally get an interesting record deal with Atlantic Records. After two albums for Atlantic and an EP of covers, they are back with a second EP that allows us to discover the versatility of Lzzy and her band. The 6 tracks offered are indeed quite varied with covers of Judas Priest ("Dissident Aggressor"), Daft Punk ("Get Lucky"), AC/DC ("Shoot to Thrill"), Pat Benatar ("Hell is for Children"), Fleetwood Mac ("Gold Dust Woman") and Marilyn Manson ("1996"). (January 2014)

Atlantic / Warner

½

Gavin DeGraw – Make a Move

Gavin DeGrawMake a Move (2013)

New York pop rock singer offers a fifth album in his seven-year career. Again, it features songs with a huge commercial potential, but they fail to truly stay in mind. We can find some kind of a soul turn on a few tracks, but he remains more comfortable when he is close to the style that made him popular. DeGraw remains a mix between Jason Mraz and Maroon 5, this time with some similarities with Bruno Mars. Unfortunately, he does not manage to stand out from any of these artists. (January 2014)

Music Video: « Best I Ever Had »

RCA / Sony

½

Kenny Rogers – You Can’t Make Old Friends

Kenny RogersYou Can’t Make Old Friends (2013)

The Texas country singer has been active for over 50 years and he comes back again with a new album despite his 75 years of age. In addition, he has received substantial budget, which was not the case for a long time for this living legend. So he took the opportunity to try to reach the widest possible audience with his country pop that has all the qualities to reach its target. The album actually begins with a sentimental duet (the title track) with his long-time collaborator Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, many songs fall flat and will fail to attract the wide audience wanted by Rogers. Otherwise, the record has the opportunity to make its way through the adult contemporary albums. (January 2014)

Warner

½

Cats on Trees – Cats on Trees

Cats on TreesCats on Trees (2013)

Cats on Trees is a Montreal duo formed of Nina Goern (piano, vocals) and Yohan Hennequin (drums). They offer us accessible pop rock, based on sounds and rhythm, quickly grabbing our attention. Among others, the strings add richness to the album, which could easily have been completely stripped. The beautiful voice of Nina is ideal for delivering the catchy melodies, and it makes us want to sing out loud. The inventive rhythm and the warmth of their music make them simply irresistible. We cannot help but listen to the album in loops. Here is a very nice discovery on the Montreal music scene. (January 2014)

Tôt ou Tard / SIX

½

Lady Gaga – ARTPOP

Lady GagaARTPOP (2013)

The new queen of pop tries to become more artistic with ARTPOP, a shift that unfortunately fails to convince by its depth. The songs remain pop without major innovations, but also without the catchy choruses that made her fame for 5 years. There are only "Sexxx Dreams", "Do What U Want" (a duet with R. Kelly) and the first single, "Applause", which managed to somewhat stand out and stay in our heads. For the topics covered, it is sexuality that is winning with a majority of lyrics in this direction. The emphasis has certainly been on production which does not lack punch, with strong rhythms and a good integration of electro. Otherwise, the diva is unable to maintain the level of quality that she had managed to achieve so far with pop music that is both accessible and intelligent. Instead we feel some kind of a void in this ARTPOP for which we keep very little at the end of the day. (January 2014 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Applause »

Universal

Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2

EminemThe Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013)

Thirteen years after the excellent The Marshall Mathers LP, the Detroit rapper comes back with volume 2. Eminem returns to the formula that made ​​him famous with a good dose of sampling, rhythms and memorable choruses. Otherwise, many filler pieces can be found among the 16 that contains the 78-minute CD, as well as annoying pieces that unnecessarily stretch like the Zombies cover, "Rhyme of Reason". Mathers seems to be somewhat in peace with his past, even if the album still contains a good dose of anger. He once more surrounds himself by collaborators, including Rihanna on the excellent "The Monster", Skylar Grey and Kendrick Lamar. Despite the obvious weaknesses on the album, Eminem has some of his best compositions in a long time. He offers us a quality album that must unfortunately been listened to the piece to fully appreciate. (January 2014)

Music Videos: « Berzerk » - « Survival » - « Rap God » - « The Monster »

Aftermath / Interscope / Universal

½

Hedley – Wild Life

HedleyWild Life (2013)

Jacob Hoggard and his band are back with their fifth studio album, Wild Life. More pop than ever, the Canadian group has several instant hits as the first single, "Anything", "Crazy For You" and "I'll Be With You". Energetic beats and powerful choruses remain the recipe for Hedley that will not disappoint any of its fans at this level. Obviously, the charismatic singer can not help but throw a few ballads, but at least he has the voice to make it interesting enough. Hoggard produces himself the album with Brian Howes, who worked regularly with the band in the past. Long time fans may regret the lack of electric guitars, but Wild Life has all the pop potential to finally attract the Americans. Check it out! (January 2014)

Music Video: « Anything »

Universal

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Pearl JamLightning Bolt (2013)

Lightning Bolt is the 10th studio album by the grunge band from Seattle, even if you feel they were present for many years. 22 years have passed since the inevitable Ten and the group managed to retain its place under the sun, despite the passage of currents. Eddie Vedder and his band have a few frankly energetic pieces on this record nobody really seemed to expect. Vedder's voice is very well highlighted, but perhaps at the expense of the guitar. Obviously, the group still feels the need to provide us with ballads, but they are usually successful. The members of Pearl Jam seem very comfortable in their skin and they assume completely their music, regardless of any trend. (January 2014)

Universal

½

AFI – Burials

AFIBurials (2013)

After tracks more pop on Crash Love, the emo band returns to darker themes and music on Burials. The album opens in a cinematic atmosphere with "The Sinking Night" before a slow but highly effective song with "I Hope You Suffer". The group still reminds us of the Misfits at times, but Morrissey and David Bowie are never too far away. If several fans could have given up with their previous album, they are likely to appreciate what the group has since become. In fact, AFI matures and it suits them particularly well. (January 2014)

Music Videos: « I Hope You Suffer » - « 17 Crimes »

Universal

½

Blue Rodeo – In Our Nature

Blue RodeoIn Our Nature (2013)

The Toronto country rock group is already approaching its 30-year career and presents its 13th album. Unfortunately, their records all seem the same since several years ago. We always find the same formula with acoustic guitars and a rhythmic accessible pop rock without being made for commercial radio. Blue Rodeo is actually the Canadian version of the Eagles. The duo of composers Greg Keelor / Jim Cuddy does not seem too overwhelmed by creative energy, always using the same formula that has allowed the group to survive until then. This new CD has warm and well produced songs that unfortunately have very few interesting elements that could stay in our head. Except maybe "Over Me" and "Tell Me Again", the other 12 songs are interchangeable and uninteresting. (January 2014)

Warner

½

Rafael & Energia Dominicana – Enamorarse en la Playa

Rafael & Energia DominicanaEnamorarse en la Playa (2013)

Rafael Medina Wilsikin is a singer, merenguero and bachatero from Quebec of Dominican origin. With his group, Energia Dominicana, he presents his first album, produced in Montreal. Rafael has 13 original compositions, mixing genres of Latin music (merengue, bachata, salsa and ballad). What unites these genres is the sunshine that is present at any time. This is an energetic and very well produced album that rivals some of the best recordings of Latin music in the world. (December 2013)

Vivo

Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio 2

Robert Glasper Experiment – Black Radio 2 (2013)

After the excellent album Black Radio in 2012, Robert Glasper and his band are back with more. The jazzman, inspired as much by R&B and funk, focuses on original compositions, except for a cover of Stevie Wonder in conclusion of the CD ("Jesus Children"). To interpret the 12 songs on the record, Glasper still asks help by a whole bunch of guest vocalists. You can hear among others Common, Patrick Stump, Brandy, Jill Scott, Faith Evans, Norah Jones, Snoop Dogg, Lupe Fiasco and Emeli Sandé. Glasper once again presents a soft sound extremely pleasant to listen to. The only negative point is that it is not necessarily going beyond the previous album and we now know the way. (December 2013)

Blue Note / Universal

½

Ron Davis – SymphRONica

Ron DavisSymphRONica (2013)

For his latest project, Toronto pianist and composer of international reputation Ron Davis decided to join his two passions, jazz and classical. Along with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Morris Russell (Cincinnati Pops Orchestra), Davis jazz trio makes a 9th album perfectly mixing both genres, without having the feeling that it is simply jazz accompanied by a symphony orchestra. Six of the 9 tracks offered are original compositions by Davis. Another is by Bach ("Mache Dich Mein Herze Rein"), while there are two traditional pieces, "Dror Yikrah" and "Reel de Pointe-au-Pic". With SymphRONica, Ron Davis realized a dream and presents an album with a unique atmosphere. (December 2013)

Acrönym / Universal / SIX

½

MAZ – Chasse-Galerie

MAZ Chasse-Galerie (2013)

MAZ is a band of Quebec traditional music incorporating elements of jazz and electronica to its instrumental music. Led by Marc Maziade, the quartet was praised for its debut album, Télescope, and it returns with Chasse-Galerie. The group presents 11 original compositions inspired by the traditional repertoire, but jazz and electronica are never far away, Especially through the use of keyboards in addition to violin and tapping feet. Their music is original and greatly differs from traditional music as it is known usually. A very good record in the genre! (December 2013)

Bleu44

½

Marc-André Hamelin – Busoni: Late Piano Music (3 CD)

Marc-André HamelinBusoni: Late Piano Music (3 CD) (2013)

Montreal's world-renowned pianist Marc-André Hamelin continues his exploration of the work of the great masters of piano with Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924). On 3 CDs, you can hear the best compositions for the piano repertoire. Technically complex and with dense harmonies, they have a challenge that only a virtuoso of the calibre of Marc-André Hamelin may fulfill. And it is masterfully that he managed to deliver these unique works, although little known. The recording quality captures all the subtleties of the pianist’s play, note by note. Here is a masterful interpretation of Busoni repertoire by a Marc-André Hamelin in great shape. (December 2013)

Hyperion

Amos Lee – Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song

Amos LeeMountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song (2013)

In his new album, the Philadelphia singer is still sinking deeper into country music, leaving the soul sound which characterized his debut. To get more inspiration, Lee went to Nashville to record the album with producer Jay Joyce (Emmylou Harris, The Wallflowers). Amos Lee is surrounded by a handful of collaborators as Alison Krauss, Patty Griffin and some excellent musicians in addition to his band. The production is high quality and is well worth the very good songs written by Lee who seems more inspired than ever. This is a solid album of country folk that is offered by Amos Lee, one of his bests to date. (December 2013)

Blue Note / Universal

½

Dr. Dog – B-Room

Dr. DogB-Room (2013)

For their new album, the band from Philadelphia built a studio to allow them to record their new compositions. The fact of being in their own home allows them to focus and deliver possibly their most consistent album to date. There are great moments of soul somewhat nostalgic in addition to their psychedelic pop. The group does not hesitate to borrow from the past, but where they impress it’s in their ability to make their music modern anyway. A very good record again by the creative band! (December 2013)

Anti- / Epitaph

½

Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar

Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar (2013)

The prolific indie pop band led by Kevin Barnes presents yet another album in a little over than 15 years of career. Their very creative music still has influences of the 1960s and 1970s (Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, etc.), but they manage to create a sound all their own, rather original. Barnes and his band offer once again high quality music, inspired and creative. A very good album! (December 2013)

Polyvinyl

½

Katy Perry – Prism

Katy PerryPrism (2013)

Since her pop debut in 2008, the beautiful Californian singer combines #1 hits. So, a new album brings its share of expectations. Otherwise, it will be difficult to repeat her commercial exploits with Prism which represents a major turning point for the singer with a former look of pin-up. Rather, she takes on a more serious, more adult direction, which may be difficult to be followed by her teenage excited audience. It remains the sexy "Birthday", but the ensemble turns especially to long-term relationships rather than the overuse of sexuality. Musically, there are some more mature pop pieces, starting with the first hit, "Roar", and "Unconditionally". We can also hear a return to the past with the disco "Walking on Air", as well as a rap passage on "Dark Horse", thanks to the collaboration of Juicy J. Prism contains good compositions and is quite coherent compared to her previous records, so it is a good album. But, Katy may lose several fans with it. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « Roar » - « Unconditionally »

Capitol / Universal

James Blunt – Moon Landing

James BluntMoon Landing (2013)

The popular British singer is back with his fourth album, Moon Landing. He still offers an adult pop sound all designated to invade radios of that type. Otherwise, we cannot hear larger than life hits like the one that made him famous, the ballad "You're Beautiful". In addition, he loses a bit of the energy that could be found on his previous album, Some Kind of Trouble. We can still hear very good songs like "Face the Sun", the hit "Bonfire Heart" and a tribute to Whitney Houston with "Miss America". James Blunt has again produced a good album that is sure to please his fans. (December 2013)

Music Video: « Bonfire Heart »

Atlantic / Warner

½

Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

Miley CyrusBangerz (2013)

With Can’t Be Tamed 3 years ago, the young Miley Cyrus had already begun to get into controversy. But it is in the fall of 2013, just before the release of her new album, that she really managed to become viral on the social media, mainly due to her vulgar performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards. Since then, she seems to be constantly looking for attention, but we must admit that this is the best promotional tool that she and her team could find to sell albums and concerts, while making us forget her past with Disney. On Bangerz, she offers pop music with influences of R&B and hip hop that establishes a genuine break with the past. In addition to renowned producers such as Pharrell Williams, Miley can count on famous collaborators to lend their voices: Britney Spears, Nelly, Future and Big Sean, among others. She has several interesting songs as the hits "We Can’t Stop" and "Wrecking Ball", as well as "# GETITRIGHT", but we also find many frankly boring songs, including the opening one, "Adore You". If Bangerz officially carries her into adulthood, Miley still has a lot to do to prove she can remain in the music industry rather than with her escapades in front of the camera. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « We Can’t Stop » - « Wrecking Ball »

Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull

Kings of LeonMechanical Bull (2013)

Since the excellent A-Ha Shake Heartbreak in 2005, the task seems difficult for the band from Nashville to issue another creative album, despite the hits of 2008 "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody". With Mechanical Bull, the group tries to change the situation and to return with creative compositions. The exercise seems rather successful, still with the bonus of catchy choruses and energetic guitars. The album seems to have been produced with less effort than the previous one, as if everything flowed naturally. It starts with a good dose of intensity with the passionate "Supersoaker" and the heavy "Rock City". Later, the band managed to convince us of his success with the excellent "Wait for Me" and the bluesy "Family Tree", and it reminds us of the early U2 with "Coming Back Again". This is an assembly of excellent compositions that offer us the Kings of Leon on this new album. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « Supersoaker » - « Beautiful War »

RCA / Sony

½

Panic! At the Disco – Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die!

Panic! At the DiscoToo Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! (2013)

The band from Las Vegas is back with its fourth studio album, in the same direction with new wave influences of the 1980s that began in 2011 with Vices & Virtues. The fans of the first hour will find elements of emo or pop punk on various occasions, but it is rather clear that the band has no desire to be categorized to a specific genre. They therefore present a pop rock sound with rather varied influences. In the most rhythmic moments, they can remind us of Hedley ("Vegas Lights"), but in other occasions, it is Nine Inch Nails that comes to mind ("Girl That You Love"). For lovers of contemporary music infused with synthesizers as used in the 1980s, Panic! At the Disco are able to fully satisfy their interests with an album that surprises by its creativity. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « Miss Jackson » - « This is Gospel » - « Girls/Girls/Boys »

Fueled By Ramen / Warner

½

Korn – The Paradigm Shift

Korn The Paradigm Shift (2013)

After 20 years of career, Korn has gone from leading nu metal to a band that tries to keep its place in the world of metal in the years 2000-10. This is what explains their exploratory passage into dubstep in 2011 on The Path of Totality. With The Paradigm Shift, Jonathan Davis and his band return to the style that suits them best. We again find some electronic parts, but much more discreet. Also, note the return of guitarist Brian "Head" Welch who had left about ten years ago. Although musically the group includes many elements of what has brought him success in the 1990s, there is much less guttural voices and melodies are more present and effective than ever. The most impressive thing is that Korn still manages to surprise us with frankly creative passages. The band remains an important player in the metal community. (December 2013)

Music Video: « Never Never »

Universal

½

Moby – Innocents

Moby Innocents (2013)

After his huge success in the 1990s, Moby returned to underground electronic music. He may therefore allow himself for some albums to explore different rather spacey atmospheres and it is this quest that continues on Innocents. What sets this recording in comparison to its predecessors is the fact that he invited quite known singers to give life to his music. One can indeed hear Mark Lanegan (Queens of the Stone Age, Screaming Trees), Cold Specks, Skylar Grey, Damien Jurado, and Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips) for the excellent and grandiose "The Perfect Life". The album has a very good guideline that makes it enjoyable to listen to the end. Otherwise, his fans of the first hour who liked his most danceable tracks might get frankly bored. It is still his strongest album in more than 10 years. (December 2013)

Music Videos: « A Case for Shame » - « The Perfect Life »

½

Randy Travis – Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am

Randy TravisInfluence Vol. 1: The Man I Am (2013)

Randy Travis is somehow the country singer who was the link between traditionalists and contemporaries in the 1980s. On this new album, he pays tribute to some artists who influenced him. With 4 tracks of Merle Haggard, it is not necessary to look far to find his main influence. There are also songs of Billy Joe Shaver, George Jones and even Louis Armstrong ("Big Butter and Egg Man"). Concluding the CD, you can hear a duet with Joe Nichols for "Tonight I'm Playin' Possum". His interpretations are not as impressive, but it is still interesting to hear the influences of Randy Travis. Otherwise, there is a high risk that a second volume unnecessarily stretches the elastic. So let’s prepare for the worst... (December 2013)

Warner

Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss

WhitehorseThe Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss (2013)

Canadian duo Whitehorse is formed of the couple of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. They had their second album in 2012, The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss, which is again on the market since October 8. The duo offers an indie rock sound with country influences. The set is varied, but it still remains consistent to the end. Guitar virtuoso, Luke Doucet managed to create magical moments with his instrument. In addition, the voices of the couple mix perfectly. We can therefore say that the meeting of the two artists is good for their careers. Whitehorse prepares an EP in French for 2014, so this is to watch closely. (December 2013)

Six Shooter / SIX

Brett Kissel – Started With a Song

Brett KisselStarted With a Song (2013)

The country singer-songwriter from Alberta presents his first album with Started With a Song. It has 10 songs of love or party for a short 38-minute album. At just 23 years old, Kissel was able to provide us with extremely catchy melodies that make him automatically friendly. In addition, his insertions of pop and rock are making him an accessible artist who can reach a wide audience without problems. Brett Kissel does not reinvent the genre, but he offers a refreshing album in the Canadian country landscape. (December 2013)

Music Video: « Started With a Song »

Warner

Fast Romantics – Afterlife Blues

Fast RomanticsAfterlife Blues (2013)

Canadian band Fast Romantics is at its second album with Afterlife Blues. The indie rock quartet still has similarities with Elvis Costello and Blur, but goes a step further this time in its musical research. They have definitely gained confidence and have a pop rock sound of high efficiency. Full of melancholy and romanticism, Afterlife Blues presents beautiful atmospheres. Even if they are not reinventing anything, the album is still varied enough to keep our interest. Here is a record that is pleasant to listen, for a good time. (December 2013)

Music Video: « Funeral Song »

Pipe & Hat

Krewella – Get Wet

KrewellaGet Wet (2013)

Krewella is an electronic music trio from Chicago formed in 2007, before issuing its first material in 2011. Get Wet is their first full-length album. The Yousaf sisters and Kris Trindl (aka Rain Man) offer primarily energetic pop music, perfect for dance floors, with elements of dubstep. This is a custom sound to party with the usual clichés in the lyrics. Production is larger than life and has everything to appeal to a broad audience. Note the participation of Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) and Travis Barker (Blink 182) for the effective "Dancing with the Devil". With this first album, the trio presents a pleasant album to listen that is sure to please lovers of music with a high level of energy. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « Killin’ It » - « Alive » - « Live for the Night »

Columbia / Sony

½

Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

ChvrchesThe Bones of What You Believe (2013)

Chvrches is an electro-pop trio from Glasgow, Scotland. They pick heavily from the music of the 1980s, highly dominated by synthesizers. The Bones of What You Believe is their first full-length album after EPs. In addition to an almost abusive use of synthesizers, what is catching our attention is the soft and high-pitched voice of Lauren Mayberry. The 12 songs of the album are linked up nicely in an impressive consistency. In fact, it is primarily a CD to listen to as a whole rather than in pieces while few tracks manage to stand out from the rest. It is a very good first album by a band to check out closely over the next few years. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « Gun » - « The Mother We Share » - « Lies »

Glassnote / Universal

½

Dream Theater – Dream Theater

Dream TheaterDream Theater (2013)

After more than 25 years of career, the progressive metal band from New York comes to us with a self-titled album, as if it had just discovered its true personality. This 12th album features for the first time the involvement of new drummer Mike Mangini, hired in 2011, in writing and creative decisions. This new comer is welcome as the group presents one of its strongest albums in several years. Guitarist John Petrucci ensures production. The album starts strongly with a short suite in three acts, "False Awakening Suite". Dream Theater then offer good compositions in the genre before completing with a piece in five parts totaling 22 minutes, "Illumination Theory". The use of orchestral strings on various occasions enriches in a beautiful way the band's music, which is already thick at the basis. Their influences of Rush appear at different times of the record, especially in "The Looking Glass" in which the opening seems to be a tribute to "Spirit of Radio". Overall, Dream Theater are offering a very successful album, one of the most creative for the band in a long time which will please their many fans. (November 2013)

Music Video: « The Enemy Inside »

Roadrunner / Warner

½

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

WaxahatcheeCerulean Salt (2013)

Native of Alabama Katie Crutchfield’s alternative band was formed in 2011. But in fact, she works mainly in solo. Cerulean Salt is the second album by Waxahatchee. The punk past of Crutchfield can still be found in the alternative rock sound rather lo-fi of the band. Less acoustic than its first album, it nonetheless provides a slightly richer music. Catchy pop melodies are part of the band, so that several tracks have the potential to stay in mind, though few of them manage to really stand out. The most interesting pieces are certainly "Dixie Cups and Jars" and "Misery Over Dispute". Cerulean Salt is an excellent album, especially creative. (November 2013)

Don Giovanni

½

Thomas Carbou – Hekatê III

Thomas CarbouHekatê III (2013)

An exceptional musician, jazz guitarist Thomas Carbou specializes in 8-string guitar. Here he presents the finale of his trilogy Hekatê, on which he continues his experiments in a trio with saxophonist Erik Hove and drummer Jim Doxas. He transcends genres carrying his jazz to the limits of rock, folk and ambient electronics. The French born and Montrealer by adoption for the last 10 years perfectly complements his trilogy with a record full of creativity, which is pleasant to listen until the end for our pure pleasure. (November 2013)

Kartel / SIX

½

Five For Fighting – Bookmarks

Five For FightingBookmarks (2013)

Five For Fighting is a one-man band, John Ondrasik’s. A native of Los Angeles, Ondrasik became known in the early 2000s with several hit ballads like "Superman (It's Not Easy)" and "100 Years". For his new album, he again trusts producer Gregg Wattenberg who had worked on his previous album, Slice, 4 years ago. The album has some of the best compositions by Ondrasik to date, in addition to enjoying superb arrangements. Although Five For Fighting continues in the style that made it famous, it has tracks with much lustre for a great album, definitely its best so far. (November 2013)

Music Video: « What If »

Wind-Up / Universal

½

Said the Whale – Hawaiii

Said the WhaleHawaiii (2013)

Said the Whale is an indie rock band from Vancouver that was formed by Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft. With Hawaiii, the quintet offers its fourth album, probably its best to date. There are still hard to access alternative songs, but the band also made an effort to open up to the masses through favorite pop rock songs such as "I Love You". As well in this instant hit as in a few other compositions, there is a not very subtle nod to the Beach Boys which seem to have been a major influence for the melodies. Said the Whale also has some electro-pop influences to complete this great music mix. (November 2013)

Music Video: « I Love You »

Hidden Pony / Universal

½

Islands – Ski Mask

IslandsSki Mask (2013)

For this fifth album, the Montreal band is completed by brothers Evan and Geordie Gordon from Ontario group The Magic. While the themes remain rather gloomy and dark, very good melodies reminiscent occasionally of the Beach Boys and the Beatles come to give a little life to this new album. The presence of the Gordon Brothers has surely also something to do with it. The result is an extremely solid record that manages to be entertaining despite the gloomy side. Still a very good album by Nick Thorburn and company. (November 2013)

Music Video: « Wave Forms »

Manqué

½

Dustin Wong – Mediation of Ecstatic Energy

Dustin Wong Mediation of Ecstatic Energy (2013)

Dustin Wong is a Hawaiian who decided to embark on a solo career in 2009, and it’s really the case because he produces everything completely by himself. The experimental guitarist indeed uses a variety of pedals and an occasional beat box. After working with Japanese Takako Minekawa for the album Toropical Circle, Wong is back with his third solo album. He presents an experimental minimalist sound, mostly instrumental, which helps to create a special atmosphere. He explores loops and repeats that can occasionally be flirting with pop melodies, even if the whole remains completely underground and difficult to access. With some tracks around 6 minutes, the album sometimes takes a hypnosis tangent, promoting meditation. Despite his approach may seem difficult at times, Mediation of Ecstatic Energy offers a nice consistency until the end. It contains possibly the best compositions to date by Dustin Wong. (November 2013)

Thrill Jockey

½

Phosphorescent – Muchacho

PhosphorescentMuchacho (2013)

Phosphorescent is the one-man band of Matthew Houck, a native of Athens, Georgia, the hometown of R.E.M. He started this project in 2000 and he produces a minimalist indie rock sound to folk trend and even country. On this sixth album, he experimented somewhat, in sometimes ambient sounds. He uses more than ever electronic that he artfully blends with instruments. This mixture also makes us realize that this is perhaps his least minimalist album while the songs take on a certain scale, even though it usually remains a quiet album. Despite some excessive arrangements, Houck has possibly his best compositions since his debut 10 years ago. (November 2013)

Dead Oceans

½

Sidi Touré – Alafia

Sidi Touré Alafia (2013)

Malian Sidi Touré offers typical folk music of his country. Alafia was partly recorded in Bamako and in Nantes, France, due to the conflict raging in his region of Mali. He presents music based on the traditions of his country, with blues influences and other world beats. He managed to create a particularly touching atmosphere where you can feel all the fear experienced by his people. Compositions are strong and are linked perfectly until the end of the CD which is still lasting nearly an hour for 11 tracks. A great album for fans of African music! (November 2013)

Thrill Jockey

½

MonkeyJunk – All Frequencies

MonkeyJunkAll Frequencies (2013)

Ottawa's MonkeyJunk is a trio that has been active for the last five years. It offers us a rather groovy blues rock sound that leaves no one indifferent, despite the surprising fact they don’t use bass. There have influences in swamp R&B and roots that make them a fairly creative band. On this third album, they offer a few songs that will now be considered important in their repertoire ("You Make a Mess", "Yearnin' for Yesterday," "What I Got To Give", and so on). If you think that blues rock shows little creativity in general, you may change your mind listening to this new album by MonkeyJunk. (November 2013)

Stony Plain / SIX

Sean Kingston – Back 2 Life - Sean Kingston

Sean KingstonBack 2 Life

The young 23-year old Jamaican was successful since his first album in 2007, before becoming famous in 2009 with his blockbuster Tomorrow and the hit "Fire Burning". After a break, he is back with a highly anticipated third album, propelled by the hit title song (with T.I.) and its sampling of Soul II Soul. Although the overall trend is still rather pop, Sean Kingston offers many tracks of pure R&B as "Beat It" (with Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa) and "Hold That" (with Yo Gotti). Otherwise, as it was also the case on his previous record, he is equally effective with more energetic pop songs like the Latin "Bomba" and the excellent club track "Smoke Signals". For the love song "Ordinary Girl", he borrows the melody to Duran Duran’s "Ordinary World", and on "How We Survive" he explores dancehall. In addition to the guest artists named above, you can hear Busta Rhymes, 2 Chainz and Wale. Yet, despite the fact that the young singer is very well supported, he retains a perfect control over his music, perhaps for the first time. In addition, with a short album of 11 tracks totaling less than 38 minutes, Kingston is able to offer a concise and effective album until the end, with no major weaknesses or unnecessary filler tracks. This therefore results in his best album to date, confirming at the same time he is no longer a teenager... (November 2013 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Back 2 Life (Live It Up) » - « Beat It » - « Seasonal Love »

Epic / Sony

½

Jason Derulo – Tattoos

Jason DeruloTattoos

For his third album, Jason Derulo does not leave aside monster pop hits and we have a quick look at that with the opening track, "The Other Side". But, he is exploring other avenues with hip hop and mid-tempo ballads, including the piano duet with his girlfriend Jordin Sparks for "Vertigo." Other collaborators include Pitbull, 2 Chainz and The Game. Despite some interesting tracks, we unfortunately find too many filling frivolous pieces that go nowhere. So much so that the American version has been reduced to a 5-song EP in digital format only. We should only get Tattoos in parts rather than spending for the full-length album of 11 tracks. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « The Other Side » - « Talk Dirty » - « Marry Me »

Warner

½

Florence K – I’m Leaving You

Florence K I’m Leaving You

Following her Cuban trilogy which ended last year with the compilation Trilogia (incorporating the best of the three albums), Florence K turns the page with I'm Leaving You. It is a predominantly Anglophone album that gives a little more in blues at times, while maintaining her jazz / pop friendly side. But she does not completely abandon the Latin rhythms we can find with pleasure on "No Salgo De Aqui" among others. Florence continues to delight us with her sweet voice and especially, she continues to prove her talent as a songwriter and musician. Her music always makes us have a good time, so what's not to love? She still manages to present music with strong influences from the past, including jazz standards, pop and 1960s soul and blues. But what makes her strength is her ability to just be inspired by the past to get us something new and current, which in addition fits perfectly with her personality. Florence K definitely has a real raw talent... (November 2013)

Red Blues / Universal

½

Sheryl Crow – Feels Like Home

Sheryl CrowFeels Like Home

Although she had already shown several country influences in the past, it is really with Feels Like Home that Sheryl Crow confirms herself as a contemporary country singer. Nevertheless, her long-time fans will not be too disoriented as many songs compare to other works in her past repertoire, sometimes in an embarrassing way. Otherwise, where the artist falls into a huge trap, this is really in an effort to merge with country music, musically and lyrically. She uses many clichés and more importantly, it sounds false, it is not natural, as if it was forced. It is as if she was doing a special effort to attract a new audience, but we do not believe in her country sincerity. This is unfortunate, but Feels Like Home eventually falls flat and will fail to reach many fans, old and new. This is perhaps her worst album in 20 years of career! (November 2013)

Warner

½

Cher – Closer to the Truth

Cher Closer to the Truth

Following her last studio album in 2002, Living Proof, the living legend of pop music launched her farewell tour, which resulted in a live album. However, it is now at 67 years of age that Cher is back on record. What impresses from the first song, "Woman's World", is the still powerful voice of the singer. Songwriters abound on this album, including P!nk and Cher herself. In the first half of the CD, there is energetic dance pop music trending to disco on several occasions. But, the second half shows a slower tempo in the adult contemporary style. The album falls flat on the last 4 or 5 tracks with songs tending to sound acoustic that have nothing to do with the quality of the first half. The production of Mark Taylor is modern and able to carry Cher in the 2010s, her that has now recorded albums in six decades. It is only a pity that Cher has not been able to offer us a constant album until the end. Here is another CD to listen in parts. (November 2013)

Music Video: « Woman’s World »

Warner

Sting – The Last Ship

StingThe Last Ship

Sting did not appear to often get struck by inspiration for several years, but it happens this time with a completely original album. The Last Ship is a concept album inspired by a British shipyard in the 1980s. It has a folk rock sound that takes us directly into the British Isles. The general atmosphere is intimate and Sting’s unique voice has rarely had as much impact in such a context. The atmosphere can be heavy in the long run, but we must admit that The Last Ship has a nice cohesion from beginning to end. In fact, the album seems ready to be played on a Broadway stage in a musical extravaganza. With The Last Ship, the singer-songwriter presents his most interesting work in a long time. (November 2013)

Universal

½

Elton John – The Diving Board

Elton JohnThe Diving Board

For The Diving Board, Sir Elton John returns to his working methods of yesteryear while writing quickly and recording just as quickly with a reduced team of musicians. The result is a less slick sound and minimalist arrangements, music recalling albums of the early 1970s. It includes great songs that need only a piano and a rhythm section to be delivered with aplomb. Otherwise, we do not really find potential hits, nothing approaching his classics anyway. Some ballads which want to be emotional rather fall flat and the album finds itself with inequalities that can be frustrating so the basic idea seemed good. Despite its interesting moments, The Diving Board will not go down in history through the vast repertoire of Elton John. (November 2013)

Music Video: « Home Again »

Capitol / Universal

MGMT – MGMT

MGMTMGMT

The New York indie band is back with its third album. They have proven in the past that they are able to properly put together melodies and catchy riffs with more psychedelic experiments. They continue their musical explorations on this eponymous album. For the occasion, they again requested the services of producer David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), who had previously worked with them on their first album, Oracular Spectacular. This new record has spacey music and good melodies in opening. But, it becomes much more bizarre in the second half while the band is not uncomfortable to explore hard to reach areas. It is therefore not yet with this album that the group will be able to repeat the success of "Kids" and "Electric Feel", but they settled comfortably in the seat of the most prominent experimental band after The Flaming Lips. (November 2013)

Music Videos: « Your Life is a Lie » - « Cool Song No. 2 » - « Alien Days »

Columbia / Sony

½

Pink Martini – Get Happy

Pink MartiniGet Happy

With Get Happy, Pink Martini get perhaps their most eclectic album to date with a stunning blend of jazz, world music and old French and American songs . In addition, the band has tracks in English, French, Spanish, German, and more. The album starts with a good deal of energy with "Ich Liebe Dich" and Osvaldo Farres’ "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas". Subsequently, several songs would have been perfect to close a small smoky jazz bar in the years 1930-40. Some tracks stand out throughout the CD, including the famous "Sway" and "Smile" (with Phyllis Diller), as well as "I'm Waiting For You" (with Meow Meow), "Je ne t’aime plus" (with Philippe Katerine) and Anna McGarrigle’s "Kitty Come Home" (with Rufus Wainwright). The arrival of singer Storm Large adds very little to the band's sound, but she still offers a good performance with her rich voice that is perfect for jazz standards. (November 2013)

Audiogram

½

Misses Satchmo – Apple Tree

Misses SatchmoApple Tree

After having interpreted the repertoire of Louis Armstrong, Misses Satchmo is back with a new album, Apple Tree. This time, the band offers a selection of pieces from old jazz of the swing era. Some lesser-known songs are alongside classics like "Just a Closer Walk With Thee", "Blue Skies", "Ain’t Misbehavin’" and "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter". To accompany them throughout the album, the quartet can rely on guest musicians, including Yvan Belleau (clarinet) and Simon Marion (banjo). Apple Tree is a charming and soft album that takes us in an atmosphere of another era. A very pleasant record! (November 2013)

Bros / SIX

½

Rob Zombie – Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

Rob ZombieVenomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

After the separation of White Zombie, Rob Zombie embarked on a solo career that has been prolific in the beginning. But in the past ten years, his creative spirit seems to be more focused on cinema in B-series movies than on music. It's embodies on this new album which contains the same elements that have made him popular, with no evolution. These are the same riffs, the same bass line that sets the pace and of course the same themes. The rhythm section was unique to Zombie 20 years ago but it seems completely outdated in the 2010s. Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor has songs that are catchy, but it has also and especially compositions modeled on the past works of Zombie. So you can easily sing several of your favorite yesteryear songs on most of the tracks of the album. Moments still differ from the whole, including "Rock and Roll (In a Black Hole)" with its electronic rhythm. Another surprising moment of the record: his cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s "We're an American Band", certainly not the best idea! In conclusion, if you are still a fan of Rob Zombie to this day, you should enjoy. But if like many fans you had resigned in the mid-2000s, it is certainly not with this new album that he will manage to win you back. (October 2013)

Music Video: « Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown »

Zodiac Swan / T-Boy / Universal

½

Ministry – From Beer to Eternity

MinistryFrom Beer to Eternity

From Beer to Eternity is the 13th album by the American industrial band led by Al Jourgensen. For several albums Jourgensen was talking about Ministry’s last record, but the group is still present 30 years after its debut, and 25 years after having become successful across the globe. This new record was written in December 2012, before the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia, and this time, it may well be the last chapter for one of the most influential bands of the industrial and metal scenes. The album features a range of almost all styles explored by the band during its career. It contains danceable and joyful electro worthy of their early years, totally assumed lyrics of hate that follow the "Bush Trilogy" (2004-2007), but more importantly, the metal riffs pleasantly reminiscent of their best albums (and most popular ones) between 1988 and 1992. We unfortunately do not find instant classics like "N.W.O." and "Just One Fix", but the whole CD has still interesting elements that will leave an indelible mark on their last record (if it is of course truly their last one). (October 2013)

Music Video: « PermaWar »

AFM

Gwar – Battle Maximus

GwarBattle Maximus

The satirical metal band from Virginia is back with a new album, 25 years after a remarkable debut. Although they have always preferred to focus on their costumes and staging rather than the music, they were able to make some great albums over the years, including the classic Scumdogs of the Universe in 1990. Battle Maximus is their 13th album in career and has 13 tracks, so as to exploit superstitions let’s go for it 100%. This is their first album with guitarist Brent Purgason (aka Pustulus Maximus) who replaces the late Cory Smoot (aka Flattus Maximus). We can also hear new bassist Jamison Land (aka Beefcake the Mighty). Produced by Glen Robinson, Battle Maximus is a concept album which has some good tracks of monstrous metal. So this is a CD that should satisfy their longtime fans, but will fail to attract a new audience. (October 2013)

Metal Blade

Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Earl SweatshirtDoris

The young rapper from Los Angeles, a member of Odd Future, comes with a debut album. The ultra bass music, dark rhymes, words to scare and choirs pretending to come from beyond the grave make us quickly realize that we have a horror rap album with Doris. All around this album, including the cover, creates a gloomy atmosphere that makes it difficult to listen to the album. Yet one cannot help thinking that this is damn creative. Few artists in the genre manage to create such an atmosphere. A few tracks stand out from the album and some are more likely to push you back than to grab your attention, but overall it has good qualities that force us to pay attention to what the rapper will have to offer us in the future. (October 2013)

Tan Cressida / Columbia / Sony

½

Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1

Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1

In preparation of its fourth album, the metal supergroup from Los Angeles realized it had too many new compositions for a single CD. So, here is Volume 1, while Volume 2 will be issued on November 19. Listening to this first volume, we realize that it is true that the band seems more inspired than ever. Solid compositions are linked on this record on which Five Finger Death Punch seems to have unleashed their musical exploration. You can hear the excellent "Lift Me Up" (with Rob Halford), "Watch You Bleed" and "You", before the band impresses with its aggressiveness on "Burn MF" and "Dot Your Eyes", perhaps two highlights of the CD. The most surprising moment of the album (and most questionable) definitely comes with the cover of LL Cool J’s "Mama Said Knock You Out" featuring rapper Tech N9ne. As a bonus, three songs can be found in alternative versions including "I.M.Sin" with the participation of Max Cavalera. With this new album of quality, Five Finger Death Punch offers perhaps their most consistent album to date. Check out closely Volume 2! (October 2013)

Prospect Park / Universal

½

The Devil Wears Prada – 8:18

The Devil Wears Prada8:18

The band of Christian hardcore metal from Ohio is back with the fifth studio album of its career. They continue to alternate between guttural voices and melodies, on a sound still heavy, a true 44-minute assault that will test your speakers and ears of an unsuspecting audience. Creative riffs that present many challenges to the musicians make them more interesting than the average music. In addition, the group delivers some strong choruses that bring this new album to another level compared to their previous recordings. Among the most interesting tracks are especially the title track, the industrial "Care More" and the song that concludes the album, "In Heart". With 8:18, The Devil Wears Prada take a step forward that will be greatly appreciated by their fans. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Martyrs » - « First Sight »

Roadrunner / Warner

½

Tyr – Valkyrja

Tyr Valkyrja

Tyr is a Scandinavian metal band from the Faroe Islands, a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. The band was formed fifteen years ago before issuing its first album in 2002. They offer a power metal sound typical to countries of northern Europe, with an inspiration that comes straight from the Vikings. They sing in both English and in their native language, Faroese. Among the 13 tracks offered on Valkyrja, there are several traditional songs adapted to the style of the group. We can also recognize two famous songs at the end of the CD: Iron Maiden’s "Where Eagles Dare" and Pantera’s "Cemetery Gates". If you are interested in Scandinavian metal, Tyr is likely to grab your attention with its blend of traditionalism and metal played with virtuosity. (October 2013)

Metal Blade

Gemini Syndrome – Lux

Gemini SyndromeLux

Gemini Syndrome is a metal band formed in Los Angeles in 2010 around former Otep singer, Aaron Nordstrom. With Lux, they offer their first album and they can be compared to Disturbed, Godsmack and Stone Sour, plus System of a Down. We cannot say that the band is musically creative, since it takes too many riffs, rhythms and other elements already heard. However, the execution is great and the five musicians in Gemini Syndrome succeed in grabbing our attention. The album will certainly not make history, but let's see what the group may come with in the next years before we decide on their future. (October 2013)

Music Video: « Basement »

Warner

Scar the Martyr – Scar the Martyr

Scar the MartyrScar the Martyr

Scar the Martyr is a side project for Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison. The band has among its members musicians from Darkest Hour, Strapping Young Lad and Nine Inch Nails around singer Derek Henry. This first album was produced by Rhys Fulbar (Rob Zombie, Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory) in Des Moines, Iowa. We can hear an aggressive metal sound that reminds us of Slipknot on several occasions in the most violent moments, but it may also soften regularly with catchy melodies and slower tempos. The group can also recall Alice In Chains and Faith No More. (October 2013)

Music Video: « Blood Host »

Roadrunner / Warner

The Creepshow – Life After Death

The CreepshowLife After Death

The Creepshow is a band from Ontario that has existed for eight years and is now dominating the Canadian psychobilly scene. With Life After Death, the group presents its fourth album and they continue in the direction initiated earlier. Much more than psychobilly, the band includes old rock 'n' roll, classic rockabilly and even country, which is differentiating them at the same time from many other groups in the genre that have only a one-dimensional face like a mixture of punk and rockabilly. As you can guess with the title of the album, as well as pieces like "See You in Hell" and "The Devil's Son", the band remains in rather dark atmospheres where they unload all their rage at a furious beat. The 32-minute CD plays at lightning speed, and once completed the 11 tracks, we want to start it again for a second dose despite the fact that we are breathless. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Sinners and Saints » - « The Devil’s Son »

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

The Brains – The Monster Within

The BrainsThe Monster Within

The Montreal psychobilly trio is not calmer on its sixth album. Instead, the band is more energetic and aggressive than ever. The energy flowing rhythm section manages to make you tap your feet from the start and does not let you go before the end of the 35 minutes. And you will ask for more! Obviously, The Brains do not reinvent the genre, but they give it a new breath that is extremely pleasant. If you like B Series horror movies, here is the perfect musical accompaniment to this universe. (May 2013)

Stomp / ULG / Warner

½

Avicii – True

Avicii True

Tim Bergling (aka Avicii) is a young Swedish DJ and producer who is mainly known in recent years after working in the Mecca of house music, Ibiza. After several successful singles, he offers his first album on which he took a somewhat unexpected turn. Like the first single, "Wake Me Up" (with Aloe Blacc), he uses acoustic guitars and slows the beat on several occasions. So, it proves to be much more pop than house, which may disappoint hardcore fans of underground house. There are even traces of country in some instances, a nice try but somewhat disconcerting. The album remains generally danceable, but not in the way we have imagined. These are the remix of the songs that are most likely to make their way to the dance floors of the biggest clubs of Ibiza and Miami. With this debut album, Avicii shows his true personality and that's good. However, many fans that were following him since his debut may be bitterly disappointed. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Wake Me Up » - « You Make Me »

Island / Universal

Goldfrapp – Tales of Us

GoldfrappTales of Us

The English duo has accustomed us to important changes in styles from one album to another since their debut at the turn of the millennium. This change may be even more drastic between the electro-pop sound of Head First and Tales of Us. This new record features mostly acoustic ballads and in this sense it is a little closer to Seventh Tree issued in 2008. Otherwise, Tales of Us is darker than that sunny album so we can compare it partly to Felt Mountain, their first record. It is therefore not a big change for them considering they have already explored such genres before. The use of orchestral and electronic elements enriches duo’s music that is at the same time a little less bare and more cinematic. The more the album progresses and the thicker it is. Tales of Us ranks among the most comprehensive works by Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Drew » - « Annabel »

½

Body Language – Grammar

Body LanguageGrammar

Body Language is a band from Brooklyn, New York, inspired by pop, soul and electronic dance from the 1980s to create a futuristic sound. After a debut album full of promise in 2011, Social Studies, the quartet returns with Grammar. They go in the same direction, but with better compositions and an effective production. It contains many moments of funk and R&B that make the album more accessible and less indie than before. Catchy grooves and a light and bright style are immediately making us hooked to the album that has all it takes to appeal to a wide audience. Here is a great album of underground pop! (October 2013)

Lavish Habits

½

Grouplove – Spreading Rumours

GrouploveSpreading Rumours

Grouplove is an indie rock band from Los Angeles, which has a strongly influenced music by Arcade Fire, MGMT and other bands of the 2000s in the genre. Spreading Rumours is their second album and they refine their style a little more with a better musical direction. The vocal duo of guitarist Christian Zucconi and keyboardist Hannah Hooper has very beautiful harmonies and steals the show, despite some very good musical arrangements. Do not forget the notable presence of drummer and producer Ryan Rabin, son of Yes guitarist Trevor Rabin. Grouplove can recall The Flaming Lips and The Smashing Pumpkins on different occasions, but more importantly, they have an energetic, fun and creative music. Here is a very good album for fans of the genre. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Ways to Go » - « Borderlines & Aliens »

Atlantic / Warner

½

North Mississippi Allstars – World Boogie is Coming

North Mississippi AllstarsWorld Boogie is Coming

Founded from the ashes of punk band DDT by brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson (sons of the late legendary producer from Memphis Jim Dickinson), the North Mississippi Allstars already worked together for over fifteen years in a blues rock environment with inspirations of country and folk. On this new album, they managed the feat of creating a perfect bridge between the past and the present. They offer indeed powerful blues rock as we heard a lot in the past, but with a very successful modern touch that allows bringing their music elsewhere. The album contains a majority of covers, including some traditional songs, but they managed to give them what it takes to make them modern. This is the case among others for "Rollin' 'n Tumblin", which takes on a whole new dimension, R.-L. Burnside’s "Snake Drive", Junior Kimbrough’s "Meet Me in the City" and Willie Dixon’s "My Babe". There are also three original tracks among the 17 included on the album. World Boogie is Coming is an entertaining and extremely interesting record along its entire length. (October 2013)

Songs of the South

½

Piers Faccini – Between Dogs and Wolves

Piers FacciniBetween Dogs and Wolves

On his new album, Piers Faccini goes one step further in his exploration. He indeed adds elements of jazz ("Pieces of Ourselves") and world music to his base strongly inspired by folk of the 1960s and 1970s. With "Il Cammino" he pays homage to his Italian heritage. His themes continue to revolve around love, melancholy and hope. Between Dogs and Wolves is once again a very calm and soft album, an album that requires our attention to truly appreciate it. If you like the genre, Faccini deserves that you tend the ear to his music. (October 2013)

Beating Drum / Six Degrees / SIX

2 Chainz – B.O.A.T.S. II #Metime

2 ChainzB.O.A.T.S. II #Metime

The rapper from Georgia already comes with a new album that is sure to strike the imagination of fans of the genre. He presents an inspired record and ensures to offer the best of himself to every song. There are good moments of R&B, as well as stunning arrangements that contribute greatly to enhance the compositions. 2 Chainz is surrounded by several collaborators to lend their voices to songs of the CD. We can therefore hear Pharrell Williams, Drake, Lil Wayne, Fergie, T-Pain, Wiz Khalifa and Mase. Otherwise, 2 Chainz lyrics do not go much further than what you can usually hear in gangsta rap, with some attachment to the fact that he now has money. Despite this annoying element, the rapper has a particularly strong album, possibly his best to date. (October 2013)

Music Videos: « Feds Watching » - « Where U Been? » - « Used 2 »

Def Jam / Universal

½

Trombone Shorty – Say That To Say This

Trombone ShortySay That To Say This

The trombone player from New Orleans Troy Andrews (aka Trombone Shorty) does not hesitate to mix genres since the beginning of his career. He has a fine blend of R&B, jazz, funk and rock that makes him an unclassifiable artist. We find again funky elements and rock on his new album, but all the focus a little more on R&B for a very strong record from beginning to end. In addition, the production gives the feeling that everything was recorded live in studio, in one take. Note that The Meters appear for the first time on an album since 1978 by taking their ballad "Be My Lady" with more contemporary arrangements. Say That To Say This proves not only to be probably the most solid Trombone Shorty album to date, but it may as well be the album that will allow him to be discovered by a wider audience. (October 2013)

Verve / Universal

½

Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty

Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty

Chelsea Wolfe is an indie rock singer from Los Angeles tending to electric folk. She has a dark side that could be considered doom and giving her her own color. She began in 2006 and has since recorded three studio albums, a live CD and a collection of acoustic songs. Pain is Beauty is her fourth album and she seems to have reached a certain musical maturity. She always has a gothic side well assumed, but she managed to move in a new direction with many electronic additions, especially on "The Warden" with its electro dancing rhythm. She still has an indie pop sound to which she adds baroque elements and a little something of rock. So it goes in different directions for a more varied album. This variety ensures that the album may seem somewhat disjointed. Otherwise, every avenue explored is particularly successful, for probably her most complete album to date. (October 2013)

Sargent House

½

The Wild Feathers – The Wild Feathers

The Wild FeathersThe Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers were formed in Austin, Texas in 2010 before moving to the Mecca of country, Nashville, Tennessee. This debut album has a rock sound that takes elements from the past and incorporates blues, country and traditional American music. It is this fusion that makes the music of the band particularly interesting as they manage to squeeze out their own sound, up to date. There are still many moments recalling Petty, Mellencamp or Springsteen, but the whole remains rather contemporary without being too focused on the past. It is rather difficult to reinvent a genre that has been explored from all angles for decades, but The Wild Feathers are able to give their own personality to an album that might have seemed outdated by many other artists. Let’s spare those artists and present The Wild Feathers as a much more interesting modern alternative. (October 2013 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Backwoods Company » - « The Ceiling » - « Hard Wind »

Warner

½

Jack Johnson – From Here to Now to You

Jack JohnsonFrom Here to Now to You

The Hawaiian singer and former surf champion is back with the sixth album of his career, three years after To the Sea. He continues the tendency of that album with a few pop songs a little more dynamics bringing him away from the acoustic ballads that made his reputation. This is the case among others on "Shot Reverse Shot" and "Washing Dishes", as well as the funky "Radiate". Otherwise, his trademark is still present with several acoustic pop songs that are perfect for the beach where he grew up. The first single, "I Got You", fits greatly in his romantic repertoire, as well as the beautiful ballad "Change" (with Ben Harper). One has to face the fact that Johnson has not lost his sense of melody. With From Here to Now to You, he proves once again that unpretentious pop songs can be of quality. This is an album that listens well to the end and by its sweetness will avoid any headache. (October 2013)

Music Video: « I Got You »

Universal Republic

John Mayer – Paradise Valley

John MayerParadise Valley

On his new album, John Mayer explores some blues and he is back to the country folk sound of southern United States that he had experienced on his previous album, Born and Raised. It is therefore a logical follower to that album, even if the contrast with the rest of his career is still important. The electric blues side reached its climax with the cover of JJ Cale’s "Call Me the Breeze", while the album remains mostly acoustic. There are two duets: "Who You Love" with his girlfriend Katy Perry and "Wildfire" with Frank Ocean. On Paradise Valley, Mayer tried more than ever to hunt his demons, but the task seems difficult. However, his haunting loving past gives very good songs, well cemented together, to form an excellent album, his best since the classic Continuum in 2006. (October 2013)

½

Travis – Where You Stand

TravisWhere You Stand

If the Britpop band Travis was somewhat lost since its first three excellent albums, it found its composure on Where You Stand. Their 5-year break since their last record has been beneficial. Several songs on Where You Stand take a pop tangent with highly effective melodies. Otherwise, there are a lot of mid-tempo tracks, relaxing at first, but that can become tiresome after a while. We still find great moments while they increase the tempo or gross energy (for example with "On my Wall"). The whole is marrying well for an album of great quality from start to finish. The compositions are strong and are definitely worthy of their first recordings. Here is an excellent new album for the band from Glasgow, Scotland. (October 2013)

Music Video: « Moving »

Red Telephone Box / Kobalt / Sony

½

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks

Busy on different projects, Trent Reznor shelved again his industrial band for 5 years. But Nine Inch Nails is now back and it's a great comeback. With Hesitation Marks, the group returns to the danceable beats that made their fame in 1994 (let’s think about "Closer"). We can also hear pop songs reminiscent of The Cure (like "Everything" for example). So this is certainly their most accessible album in 20 years. The main problem of the CD is that it is somewhat lacking in consistency with less successful and more boring songs that come to break the rhythm. Several tracks manage to grab your attention, but it definitely lacks a good guideline for the album which could then be compared to the greatest records of the band. (October 2013)

Polydor / Universal

½

Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King

Avenged SevenfoldHail to the King

It is accompanied by a new drummer, Arin Ilejay, that the metal band entered the studio to record their sixth album. Avenged Sevenfold had a clear desire to return to the sources of metal, dropping electronic components. However, they face a serious problem, namely to find themselves copying the past. The riffs on several occasions seem straight out of an album by Megadeth or Metallica in the early 1990s. "Doing Time" contains all the elements of Guns N' Roses in 1987, and you can sing Metallica’s "Sad But True" on "This Means War". This is embarrassing and knowing the boiling nature of Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, one can expect problems for the band! Fortunately, during the second half of the CD, the group managed to offer some interesting tracks like "Heretic" and "Coming Home", although the inspiration of Megadeth and Iron Maiden is never far away. Also, on "Planets", the band incorporates motifs of "The Planets" by composer Gustav Holst, a successful experiment. We understand the idea of ​​wanting to honor the bands of the past. Otherwise, with that objective in mind, it would have been better to do an album of covers rather than just copying what was done before. (October 2013)

Music Video: « Hail to the King »

Warner

½

Typhoon – White Lighter

TyphoonWhite Lighter

Typhoon is an indie rock band from Portland, Oregon offering a sound sometimes experimental and sometimes pop. White Lighter is their second full-length album and their more assumed to date. Although with 14 musicians, it is not necessarily easy to channel the energy to the same guideline. But the band succeeds this time to have some restraint resulting in a great result. There are of course still great musical performances recalling Arcade Fire, but the whole content may generally grab the attention of a wider audience. Otherwise, think again if you believe you will love the first approach. Changes of rhythms and musical explorations require some effort that will not likely to be rewarded before 2 or 3 good listens. Some unforgettable anthems will certainly manage to assist you in this adventure. (October 2013)

Roll Call / Maple

½

Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold

Parquet Courts is an indie rock band founded in Brooklyn, New York in 2011. They had issued at the beginning of this year this first rather strange album where were mixed concepts and experiments recalling Franz Zappa and a punk rock sound much more immediate and to the point. The alternative rock sound of the 1990s seems to have been a major influence for the band, particularly Pavement and Sonic Youth. Several short songs are linked for 33 minutes and they remain for the most highly effective. With Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts are able to take inspiration in the alternative rock sounds of the past to offer a rather creative album. (October 2013)

What’s Your Rupture?

½

Mountains – Centralia

MountainsCentralia

Mountains is an experimental ambient duo from Chicago, but now based in Brooklyn. They offer an instrumental mix of electronic and acoustic music, always smooth. For their third album, they used bold multiplying musical layers and they refined their work over several months. The result is a complex 7-track album totalling 66 minutes. You can hear a great evolution throughout the album beginning in extreme softness to become later a little more psychedelic, especially with "Liana". Centralia is an album that we listen without much effort, an excellent atmospheric record. (October 2013)

Thrill Jockey

½

Goodie Mob - Age Against the Machine

Goodie Mob - Age Against the Machine

Goodie Mob has existed for over 20 years and they use this fact to convince us that it is not necessary to be new in the rap world to be up to date. Cee Lo Green had not recorded with the band for 14 years and he is back here, now that he has become a superstar. With Age Against the Machine, Goodie Mob are possibly offering their most bizarre album to date. The moments of pure rap are rare and the record explores different sounds that sometimes become cinematographic. Many interludes manage the rhythm in a weird way, making it ultimately a very difficult album to follow. We still find several creative elements that make us appreciate the effort. Then, when Cee Lo is more active towards the end of the CD, the songs become a little more accessible. (September 2013)

Music Videos: « I’m Set » - « Special Education (feat. Janelle Monae) »

Atlantic / Warner

½

No Age – An Object

No AgeAn Object

For its third full-length album, the Los Angeles duo presents minimalist music with an ambient trend that still manages to incorporate noise and screeching guitars. Despite a little more introspective experiment, the band still has a good assumed punk side. They also still have a short album that does not cross the 30-minute bar for 11 tracks. The ideas are not too developed and this is what makes their experiments interesting and relevant. With An Object, No Age seems to find the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity, between ambient music and noisy punk. This therefore results in their most mature album to date, and certainly the most effective of their young career. (September 2013)

Sub Pop

½

Juicy J – Stay Trippy

Juicy J Stay Trippy

Having been quite successful in Three 6 Mafia, the rapper from Memphis, Tennessee is back with a new solo album. Known for his misogynistic lyrics and inspiration about porn, Juicy J never got much credit for his lyrics. And this aspect of his artistic work shows little improvement on Stay Trippy. Otherwise, where he made a step forward, it is in the level of music and the musicality of his vocal delivery. He presents several frankly catchy tracks, which will surprise those who listen to the album with a little restraint, and a smile. The rapper is offering a production of quality in addition to be working with many famous collaborators like Trey Songz, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Young Jeezy, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and A$ap Rocky. Finally, after 62 minutes of listening, we come to think that this is a great rap album by Juicy J, certainly his best so far. (September 2013)

Music Videos: « Show Out » - « Bounce It »

Columbia / Sony

½

Fevers – No Room For Light

FeversNo Room For Light

Originally from Ottawa, the quintet presents a first full-length album after an EP that made a splash on the Canadian scene in 2011. Fevers offer a powerful blend of indie rock and electro-pop, greatly produced by Laurence Currie. Their sound is dynamic and intelligent at the same time with strong compositions. The group can do a contemporary disco sound ready for dance floors and a little more cerebral alternative rock. And this constant mix of genres is extremely successful, in addition to a good marriage between organic instruments and electronic. (September 2013)

½

Flaamingos – Flaamingos

FlaamingosFlaamingos

Los Angeles duo formed in 2012, Flaamingos present an indie rock sound incorporating many elements of electronic like drum machines and synthesizers. Their sound can be somewhat outdated however with influences of krautrock and 1980s post-punk. Moreover, listening to this first album is rather like listening to a British band of that era. Jerry Narrows (vocals and programming) and Daniel Koontz (guitar, bass and synthesizer) have worked together in the past in shoegaze bands and we must say that this influence is still an integral part of their music, even with a little more obvious dance direction. Comparisons abound, between Interpol, The Smiths, The Cure and Depeche Mode, but the duo managed to present effective compositions making us forget after a while all the influential predecessors. (September 2013)

Felte / Last Gang

½

Rhye – Woman

RhyeWoman

Canadian electronic singer and arranger Mike Milosh joined Robin Braun (also known as Robin Hannibal) in Denmark to create the duo Rhye. The feminine voice of Milosh merges beautifully with the ambient electro sound of the duo to create music that integrates elements of soul and R&B. This wealth music incorporates brass, strings, keyboards and a funky bass for a sound that is reminiscent of Sade in the 1980s. Unlike many electronic sounds that are rather cold, the music of Rhye immediately creates a warm atmosphere, perhaps largely due to the syrupy voice of Milosh, but also through organic instruments mixing all together. A production of quality comes full circle for this beautiful soft album. A very nice discovery! (September 2013)

Universal Republic

½

TGT – Three Kings

TGT – Three Kings