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JANUARY 2021

 

Featured Review:  Taylor Swift    Featured New Artist:  Chairmen of the Boards

 

January 1-7:

Miley Cyrus - Paul McCartney

 

 

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Key for the stars

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Taylor Swift – Evermore

Taylor Swift – Evermore

Merely five months after the excellent Folklore, which dethroned everything in 2020, Taylor Swift already offers us the sequel, to everyone's surprise. This is her third album in 16 months, which in no way diminishes their quality. Evermore is the logical continuation of Folklore, recorded in the same context, with the same team and exploring the same emotions. This one is just a little looser when it felt like every element on Folklore fell into exact place. Proof of her great maturity, Taylor no longer hesitates to express herself directly, even if it means appearing a little too explicit for her image of a good girl. She is collaborating again with Aaron Dessner (The National) who co-produced and co-wrote the great majority of the album. You can also hear The National on "Coney Island". Also note the participation of HAIM on "No Body, No Crime" and Bon Iver on the title song at the end of the record. Evermore might not be as well put together as Folklore, but it has also many great quality songs among the 15 tracks offered. Another good move from this artist who is standing out more and more.

Music Video: « Willow »

Universal

½

     

         

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

 

Chairmen of the Boards – Surfin’ the Apocalypse

What could be better than surf rock music to carry you on the beaches of California in the middle of winter! Here is what this trio from Toronto offers us yet formed far from the waves of the sea (Lake Ontario certainly does not compare to the beaches of Santa Monica or San Diego). With Surfin’ the Apocalypse, Chairmen of the Boards offer us a debut album representing well 2020, but with a touch of positivism for the continuation with instrumental pieces all sunnier than the others. There are 14 in total, including of course the title track, but also the remarkably effective first single, "Board Whacks", as well as the excellent opening tracks, "Stormy Monday Payoff" and "Run-a-Wave". They also cover a piece by Dick Dale, "Taco Wagon". Those nostalgic for the good old surf rock of the 1960s will be delighted with this new band in the wind.

 

 

january 1-7:

 

 Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts

Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts

For several years now, pop singer Miley Cyrus has had a rock attitude in her provocative side. This time, it is musically that she assumes her rock personality with an energetic pop rock sound with influences from the 1980s and 1990s. This style suits her rather well as she seems to have found the perfect balance between her provocative personality and her music both catchy and more aggressive. She surrounds herself with renowned collaborators from the rock scene: Billy Idol on "Night Crawling" and Joan Jett on "Bad Karma". Then, she pays a beautiful tribute to Stevie Nicks and her hit "Edge of Seventeen" in her remix of the hit "Midnight Sky" entitled "Edge of Midnight". She finally covers two rock classics (Blondie’s "Heart of Glass" and the Cranberries’ "Zombie") in live versions. Note also the excellent collaboration of Dua Lipa for the hit single "Prisoner". There's a little bit of everything on this great Miley Cyrus album: instant hits, energetic rock songs, 1980s rock ballads, great rock duets and punchy rock covers. What more can we ask for!

Music Videos: « Midnight Sky » - « Heart of Glass » - « Prisoner »

½

     

 Paul McCartney – McCartney III

Paul McCartney – McCartney III

While his first solo album, McCartney, was released in 1970 following the dissolution of the Beatles and McCartney II was released in 1980 after the end of the Wings, Sir Paul McCartney has chosen the 2020 lockdown to produce McCartney III. On the other hand, the only link with the previous two is his approach as a one-man-band as he played everything himself. The minimalist, mostly acoustic, arrangements make sure to highlight McCartney's aging voice, while the themes inevitably take us back to what he did in the past. It's obviously great to hear new music from this prolific living legend, but he seems to have lost the freshness of yesteryear on McCartney III. For the first time we feel his 78 years and his 60 years of career. Fortunately, a few energetic songs like "Lavatory Lil" and "Slidin’" remind us why so many generations have loved his music. Die-hard McCartney fans will find something interesting to justify their love for the artist, but he no longer has the spark he had on the first two albums of the trilogy.

Universal

     

 

december:

 

Kylie – Disco

Kylie – Disco

With her new album, the Australian pop star returns to her typical dance pop, to the delight of her fans. And as the title of the record implies so well, Kylie draws more than ever her influences from disco with a sound that is sometimes quite close to the 1970s or the early 1980s. One of the moments that stand out is the first single, “Say Something”, an electro-pop song with guitar. We can also hear the unmissable “Magic”, “Miss a Thing” and “I Love It”. Kylie surrounds herself for the occasion with several renowned collaborators: Skylar Adams (with whom she worked on Golden two years ago), Teemu Brunila (David Guetta, Jason Derulo), Maegan Cottone (Iggy Azalea, Demi Lovato), as well as her loyal collaborator Biff Stannard. This 15th recording of the pop icon is an energetic album with no downtime. Note that a deluxe version is also available with 4 additional tracks for a total of 16. (December 2020 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Say Something » - « Magic »

½

     

     

 

 

Rooks – The High Road

Rooks is a trio formed in Calgary in 2018 which aims to make us relive the best years of good old rock 'n' roll with a wall of guitars, the 1970s. They can remind us of Thin Lizzy and the Rolling Stones, with undoubtedly influences from the Black Keys. The energetic guitar remains at the forefront of this first record which unfortunately turns out to be too short with only eight tracks totaling 33 minutes. It is still a very good rock 'n' roll album for the nostalgic ones. A great entertainment! (December 2020 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Vagrant Dreams »

 AC/DC – Power Up

AC/DC – Power Up

Six years after Rock or Bust, the Australian band returns with an explosive new album, worthy of their best years. Yet the past few years have not been easy for AC/DC members. First, guitarist Malcolm Young retired in 2014 while suffering from dementia (he died in 2017). Then drummer Phil Rudd found himself stuck in a legal case, singer Brian Johnson had to drop out of tour due to hearing loss and ultimately, bassist Cliff Williams resigned at the end of the last tour. So, there was only the eternal teenager Angus Young who must have felt very lonely in his school shorts... It was at Malcolm's funeral that Angus managed to convince the band to get together to record again with the intent to pay tribute to his brother, much like they did at the turn of the 1980s following the death of Bon Scott, producing what would become their greatest classic, Back in Black. It is Stevie Young, nephew of Angus and Malcolm, who puts on the shoes of the deceased on the rhythm guitar, he who had already done it during a tour of the band in the late 1980s, when Malcolm was fighting alcohol addiction. The band does not try to reinvent the wheel on Power Up, but they rather immerse themselves in what made them so successful, even incorporating a few mocking nods to the past. The 12 tracks are as energetic as you like and will once again make you stomp your feet with a raised fist. (December 2020)

½

     

 

NOVEMBER:

 

Ariana Grande – Positions

Ariana Grande – Positions

After two great successes in 2018 (Sweetener) and 2019 (thank u, next), the 27-year-old Floridian returns with a third album in as many years, the sixth in her career. Announced only two weeks before its release, Positions certainly does not contain radio bombs like on the two previous records. In addition, apart from perhaps the strings in "shut up", few moments are likely to surprise. She once again offers her skillful mix of pop, neo-soul and R&B, with dance tracks and more intimate and sensual songs like "off the table", in duet with The Weeknd. More daring than ever, Ariana now seems comfortable to openly deal with sex, as we can discover in "34+35" and in "nasty", but also in the background of "my hair", "love language" and the title song. In addition to her usual style, Ariana discreetly explores funk on "motive" (with Doja Cat) and "love language", as well as jazz on "my hair" which ends on the saxophone. The album concludes with the ultimate love song, "pov", in an atmosphere reminiscent of Mariah Carey. With Positions, Ariana Grande delivers another good pop album, even if it does not match her previous two. Her voice remains as haunting as ever and here she proves that she does not have to be high-flying to show off all her talent. (November 2020 Featured Review)

Music Video: « positions »

½

     

     

 

 The Jaded Hearts Club – You’ve Always Been Here

The Jaded Hearts Club – You’ve Always Been Here

Formed in Los Angeles in 2017, The Jaded Hearts Club is a supergroup including Matt Bellamy (Muse), Nic Cester (Jet), Miles Kane (The Last Shadow Puppets, The Rascals), Graham Coxon (Blur), Jamie Davis (Margo Price) and Sean Payne (The Zutons). It was Jamie Davis who had the idea of assembling British musicians to reproduce the Beatles of the Cavern Club era in the early 1960s. The sextet does covers of classics and more obscure songs of rock, soul and jazz in a rather dirty and raw rock style, a garage style with a wall of guitars where distortion largely dominates. We can rediscover in particular “Reach Out I’ll Be There”, “I Put a Spell On You” and “Money (That’s What I Want)”, without forgetting “Fever” by Bellamy in conclusion. There are 11 in all for a total of 30 short minutes, the downside of this record that makes us want to hear more or see them live. (November 2020 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « I Put a Spell On You »

½

   

 Hélène Brunet – Solfeggio

Hélène Brunet – Solfeggio

It is accompanied by L’Harmonie des Saisons, an ensemble playing on old instruments and conducted by Eric Milnes, that the soprano Hélène Brunet presents Solfeggio. She offers baroque and classical arias by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart and Leonardo Vinci. The latter's two arias, taken from L’Elpidia, are recorded here as a world premiere: "Aria: D’alme luce" and "Aria: Pupillette vezzosette". With these 13 beautiful pieces from an essential repertoire, Hélène Brunet reveals more than ever all her talent as an interpreter. An excellent record that will appeal to any classical music fan! (November 2020)

ATMA Classique

 

 Brandi Disterheft Trio With George Coleman – Surfboard

Brandi Disterheft Trio With George Coleman – Surfboard

The Canadian composer, double bassist and singer presents her fifth album, Surfboard. As a trio with pianist Klaus Mueller and Brazilian drummer Portinho, Brandi Disterheft is also accompanied by virtuoso tenor saxophonist George Coleman. She offers a varied program in 14 pieces ranging from jazz to blues, including Brazilian and American standards. Brazilian rhythms come to give a warm atmosphere to the album, as in "Coup de foudre" for example, a personal composition by Brandi. Coleman presents remarkable solos on the standards "My Foolish Heart" and "Speak Low", as well as on "Coup de foudre". Brandi wisely chose several classics like "Where or When", "On Broadway", Oscar Pettiford’s "The Pendulum at Falcon’s Lair" and Sam Jones’ "Del Sasser". Portinho also introduced her to two obscure pieces from the Brazilian repertoire: Moacir Santos’ "Nana" and the title track, a lesser-known piece by Antonio Carlos Jobim. So, here is another excellent album from this incomparable jazz artist from Vancouver. (November 2020)

Justin Time / SIX

½

     

 Peter Katz – City of Our Lives

Peter Katz – City of Our Lives

For his new album, Montrealer Peter Katz takes a much more pop direction than before, leaving aside his folk influences. He indeed presents contemporary pop music dominated by synthesizers. The melodies remain well in the foreground but in a sound of 2020 with strong influences of 1980s’ new wave and 1990s’ pop rock. These are sounds that go particularly well to Katz who seems in his element on this new record. Produced by Derek Hoffman (The Trews, Caveboy), City of Our Lives is a very enjoyable album to listen to, perhaps his best to date. (November 2020)

Plaid Shirt / Fontana North

½

 

 Molinari Quartet – Krzysztof Penderecki

Molinari Quartet – Krzysztof Penderecki

On this new album, the Molinari Quartet presents the main works of chamber music by Penderecki, which range from 1960 to 2008. We notably discover the “String Quartets No 1-3”, “Der unterbrochene Gedanke” (The Broken Thought), the "String Trio”, as well as the “Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio”. The quartet, accompanied by guest clarinetist André Moisan, reproduces the particularly dark atmosphere created by the work of Penderecki, a prominent figure in contemporary Polish music who died on March 29, 2020 in Krakow. (November 2020)

ATMA Classique

½

   

 Notturna – L’amant jaloux

Notturna – L’amant jaloux

Notturna, a collective of musicians playing on period instruments, is dedicated to the interpretation of unprecedented baroque chamber music. In the case of L’amant jaloux (1778), the ensemble offers an instrumental version for quintet of André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry’s opéra-comique in three acts, conducted by Christopher Palameta (oboe and artistic direction). This version, believed to date from 1778, is in a period arrangement for traverso, oboe, violin, viola and bass. On the album, we can also discover another piece by André Grétry, the “Entr’acte” from La Caravane du Caire (1783), as well as a work from 1755 by François-André Danican Philidor, the “Quartet no. 2 in F major for oboe, two violins and bass” (from The Art of Modulation). Therefore, here is a great album which allows us to rediscover forgotten baroque music. (November 2020)

ATMA Classique

½

   

 Zoe Sanders – Viral Education

Zoe Sanders – Viral Education

Montreal singer-songwriter Zoe Sanders introduces us to her eight-track debut EP with Viral Education. She offers intelligent pop music with dance passages and electro. The record was produced by Alexis Aubin-Marchand and Thomas B. Champagne (aka lefutur) who also co-authored the music and the arrangements. The trio have created pieces with universal themes on catchy grooves. With her pretty hoarse voice, Zoe lucidly examines the habits and quirks of her generation in the age of social media. In the energetic "Silver Boy", composed with Soran who also signs the production, Zoe celebrates celibacy, just before letting go with "Dance Floor". She concludes it all with "Open Waters", a stripped-down piano song in which she shows great vulnerability. With 27 minutes of music, Viral Education is lacking little for it to be considered a full-length album. A very good record! (November 2020)

Audiogram

½

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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