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Four years after
The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj returns with her fourth album,
Queen. As it was the case on all her previous albums, Nicki
still seems to be split between offering authentic rap and pop music
that will reach a large audience. It is when she succeeds in fusing
both that she does best, as it is the case in opening with "Ganja
Burns" and "Majesty" (with Eminem and Labrinth).
Subsequently, she focuses on fairly aggressive rap, and it is not
often very successful. In addition, with over an hour of music, we
would have preferred a few less songs to solidify the whole.
Fortunately, the many collaborators add a little of their
personality to some songs, which brings it a little more
interesting. In addition to Eminem and Labrinth, we can hear Lil
Wayne, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Future
and many others. This is once again an uneven album that offers us
Nicki Minaj, but with less explosive hits than on her previous
An Australian band formed in Melbourne, Rolling
Blackouts Coastal Fever presents an indie rock sound that captivates
quickly, with catchy choruses, superb guitar riffs and effective
rhythms. With this debut album, they can make us think of a mix
between R.E.M., The Cure and The Strokes. On
the other hand, they offer compositions of a great creativity which
makes forget all the comparisons rather quickly. At the end of the
35 minutes, it feels like you have discovered a really good new
band, and the desire to go back to the beginning is irresistible.
Here is one of the best indie rock albums to be released this year
The singer-songwriter from Fredericton, New
Brunswick presents his first album in French. David Myles proves
once again all his versatility. He has worked for the occasion with
several Quebec female singers, including Marie-Pierre Arthur,
Gaële, Carole Facal (Caracol) and Florence K.
Produced by François Lafontaine (Karkwa), Le grand
départ offers mainly acoustic music that focuses on the lyrics.
Myles will present this new material on stage with his faithful
companions: Alan Jeffries (guitar, voice) and Kyle Cunjak
(bass, double bass, voice).
L-A be /
Discovered by a large audience during his presence
to La Voix (Quebec version of The Voice) in 2016,
Soran proved that he could sing almost anything and interpret it in
his own way. He also showed up on social networks and online music
platforms where he has accumulated more than two million plays.
Soran is now releasing a first EP of six tracks in English, and it
is this time as a songwriter, arranger and producer that he
introduces himself to the public, at only 20 years old. The talented
artist offers a very good mix of pop, electro and reggae, for a
refreshing and creative whole.
Chris Velan became particularly known for being
behind the Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars project a dozen
years ago. But, he has pursued a solo career for 15 years as a
singer and songwriter. For Amateur Hour, he began writing
about a relationship, before realizing he was exploring the
relationship with himself. He presents 10 songs in the form of
monologues where the characters are forced to respond and react to
unexpected news about themselves. The Montrealer recorded the album
in a winter week in his snowy country studio. Produced by Rod
Shearer, the album is less folk than its predecessors with
rather pop rock sounds.
The Beths – Future
Me Hates Me
The Beths is a band from Auckland, New Zealand,
making their record debut with a first full-length album. They
propose an energetic rock sound that can even be inspired by punk on
some occasions, but with the sweet voice of Elizabeth Stokes.
Guitar riffs are always interesting and exciting, but so are the
catchy melodies and the beautiful vocal harmonies. The 10 songs of
the record have a good fluidity in an almost perfect sequence. The
result is an excellent indie rock album.
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
After gaining recognition with Puberty 2,
Mitski Miyawaki returns two years later with Be the Cowboy.
She offers 14 short songs, but greatly built, with always very
pleasant melodies. The envelop can be rock at first with creaking
guitars, but the whole remains rather sweet and emotional
afterwards. The addition of synthesizers also gives a better pop
touch to some songs. Mitski issues once again compositions of great
creativity delivered with her unique personality. An album that is
pleasant to listen to and especially re-listen to it to impregnate
After several personal issues and controversies over
the last two years, it seems that Kanye had to lock himself in the
studio in recent months to evacuate his demons. This has resulted in
several albums recently, either as a collaborator or producer. He is
back now with his eighth solo album, Ye, which is actually
just a seven-track EP. Some may say it’s a good thing, because Kanye
quickly carries us into discomfort, which we will feel to the end.
So, it's better if the torture lasts only 23 minutes. The disconnect
between his personal and professional life now seems non-existent,
as he transposes all his problems on record to our greatest dismay.
He puts his mental health problems squarely at the centre of this
album. The artist who was particularly creative at one time is no
longer the shadow of himself. Let's hope that the recording of this
album will at least have relieved him, because it is now the
listener who needs a therapy. (August 2018
Lindsey Jordan, aka
Snail Mail, is an 18-year-old artist with undeniable natural talent.
After an EP two years ago that had attracted attention, she finally
presents her debut full-length album. The singer and guitarist
presents a trio formula of indie rock music, rather lo-fi with a
good load of melancholy. The guitar is at the centre of her music
and beautifully accompanies her really nice voice and superb
melodies. We fall quickly in love and we cannot stop listening until
the end of this beautiful album. Lush has all it takes to
become a great album in the genre. And Snail Mail has a very
promising career ahead of her. (August
2018 Featured New Artist)
Mario – Summer Anthems 2018
The famous Quebec DJ is back with one of these
compilations that are characteristic of him, making an overview of
the biggest current dance hits. Sometimes house, R&B or Latin,
Summer Anthems 2018 features artists like Maroon 5,
Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig, Selena Gomez, DJ
Snake, Liam Payne, Pradaboi, MK, Zedd,
Felix Cartal and many others. MC Mario mixes everything to
perfection for a complete package to listen to in one block. On the
other hand, with only 54 minutes and several important hits that
seem to have been forgotten, we have the feeling that we are missing
20 minutes of music somewhere. MC Mario has been more generous in
the past. (August 2018)
Following the huge success of their first two albums
released in 2014 and 2015, the quartet 5 Seconds of Summer took a
break from the studio and they are now back with their third album.
The hit title-song, as well as the first single, "Want You Back",
set the tone for this very teen pop album. Their emo side from the
debut, which even earned them the pop punk label when they first
appeared opening for One Direction, is completely gone here.
However, there is some rock in a few tracks, probably since it is a
full band and not just a vocal group like so many others in the
genre. 5SOS offer energetic music with catchy choruses. So, even if
few tracks stand out, the band has everything to achieve another
incredible success with Youngblood.
(July 2018 Featured Review)
« Want You Back » -
« Youngblood »
British duo Tracyanne Campbell (Camera
Obscura) and Danny Coughlan (Crybaby) are
releasing their debut album.
The self-titled record unfolds smoothly and with a lot of emotion.
The mixture of both voices is particularly successful, which does
not prevent that they can shine each other throughout the CD.
Danny's style is reminiscent of Roy Orbison, which is getting
along well anyway with Tracyanne's contemporary indie pop.
Danny draws all the attention on him with "Jacqueline", a sad and
However, it is Tracyanne who steals the show in the opening track,
"Home & Dry", as well as several other times throughout the record.
Some mid-tempo pieces have a little country side that is not
uncomfortable at all, adding an interesting flavor to their soothing
Tracyanne and Danny complement each other beautifully on this first
album, which could not have been released without this fusion
between the two artists. (July 2018 Featured New
After four years of absence on record, Jill Barber
reinvents herself on Metaphora. She enters indeed the world
of pop music. With her new single, "Une femme doit faire", which is
found here in English ("Girl's Gotta Do"), she has already managed
to catch attention on French radios. This is a catchy and rhythmed
song that deals with gender equality. After proving her talent in
folk, jazz and even French song, Jill demonstrates all her ability
to write also very good pop songs. It must be said that she had help
from Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother) who collaborated
with her to write the entire album. Jill has entrusted the
production to another great name, Gus Van Go (Whitehorse,
Arkells), who, from his studio in New York City, is always
accompanied by the creative strength of Werner F. The
collective Likeminds also collaborated on the album, as well
as Gavin Brown and Maia Davies who did some tracks in
Toronto. We can hear many dance songs, but also some more
introspective tracks on the piano, including the touching "Mercy".
It's an audacious album that Jill Barber offers with Metaphora,
but she's up for the challenge with a high-quality pop recording.
Five years have passed since Neko Case's last solo
album, but she is back strongly on Hell-On. The alternative
singer with folk and country influences offers indeed a greatly
inspired record that cleverly navigates between genres. The melodies
manage to catch us from the beginning and it would be very difficult
to stop listening before the end. Neko ensures the production of the
album, with Bjorn Yttling who co-produces five songs (he also
co-wrote all 12 tracks). Neko's warm and dominant voice is
accompanied by beautiful arrangements that bring great richness to
the album. With the inspiration and the quality of the production
that one can hear on this, one can certainly consider Hell-On
among her most interesting records in career.
Toronto folk rock singer returns with a new album,
Better Human. He tells us nine stories, as only him can, on
fairly traditional folk music with also more pop, very catchy parts.
For the occasion, Kunder surrounds himself with some collaborators
who add their voices to his: Oh Susanna, Jim Guthrie
and Carleigh Aikins (Paper Bird, Bahamas).
There are also Sarah MacDougall and Maia Davies (Ladies
of the Canyon) co-writing respectively "Better Days" and "Fight
for Time" (the first single). This is a very nice album that Ben
Kunder offers us, once again.
After the very solid Death of a Bachelor two
years ago, Panic! At the Disco are back. Once again produced by
Jake Sinclair, this sixth studio album by the band is a kind of
logical continuation of the previous one. It presents a conceptual
idea that is inspired this time by R&B and hip hop of the 1990s, in
almost perfect fusion with the pop rock sound now very
characteristic of the group. We could talk about overproduction on
several occasions with beefy musical packaging that goes in all
directions, but it is this loaded music that has made the band so
interesting in recent years. The arrangements may be reminiscent of
a musical show, but it is mostly the catchy melodies that become
completely addictive. The band offers once again both an exciting
and a refreshing album.
After the huge radio hits of two years ago,
including the inevitable "Marvin Gaye", the American pop singer
returns with his sophomore album. It contains again some bombs, like
"Attention" and "How Long". But what keeps most of the attention on
Voicenotes, it is a much greater coherence throughout the
record. Puth now seems in full control of his career, when he was
literally propelled to the forefront with his debut album after his
success on YouTube. He opens a little more about his personal life
on several occasions, but he delivers mostly solid pop songs. He can
still be compared to Justin Timberlake, but he is
increasingly establishing his own style of pop / R&B with soul
influences. We can hear some contributors on Voicenotes:
Kehlani, Boyz II Men and James Taylor.
(June 2018 Featured Review)
« Attention » -
« How Long » -
« Done For Me »
Even though he is only 23 years old, the Montreal
guitarist has been present on the Quebec music scene for more than
10 years. He has shared the stage with many artists including
Victor Wainwright, Steve Strongman, Frank Marino,
Paul DesLauriers, Jack of Keyzer and Ronnie Baker
Brookes. On A Fool's Heart, Saladino skillfully mixes
genres, from blues to rock and soul, with a touch of funk on some
occasions. The album was recorded in Montreal and produced by
Connor Seidel (Matt Holubowski, Beatrice Keeler).
By the way, Beatrice Keeler lends her voice to the album, which adds
a very appreciated touch of feminine. This is a solid record that
Justin Saladino and his musicians offer us, a pleasant album to
listen to from beginning to end and that makes us feel good. Mission
accomplished! (June 2018 Featured New
Chromeo – Head Over
The Montreal electro duo returns with their fifth
album, recorded in their studio in Los Angeles. Dave 1 and
P-Thugg demonstrate their love for funk, soul and R&B, styles
that have influenced them since their teenage years. For Head
Over Heels, Chromeo has many collaborators, including
The-Dream, French Montana, Raphael Saadiq,
Rodney Jerkins, members of Toto, and many others. The duo
is already having its fourth single from Head Over Heels with
the latest, "Bad Decision", which follows "Must've Been" (with
DRAM), "Juice" and the excellent "Bedroom Calling" (with
The-Dream). The latest is considered by Billboard as one of the best
songs by Chromeo for years. Chromeo are offering a particularly
refreshing album with Head Over Heels, a record reminiscent
of the 1980s, while remaining very contemporary.
« Juice » -
« Must’ve Been »
Last Gang /
For his seventh album in career, Corneille decided
to revisit hits of the 1980s and 1990s he was missing. There are
timeless songs from Toto, Wham!, Sade, Lenny
Kravitz, Tracy Chapman, Simply Red, Cindy
Lauper, Chris Isaak, and many more. Corneille sings the
whole with his sweet voice, sometimes in a dance R&B version and
sometimes acoustic. He has worked for the occasion with some of the
most prominent producers in France today: Ofenbach, Joe
Rafaa (M. Pokora), Fred Savio (Christophe Mae)
and Thierry de Cara (Frero Delavega). Some of the
songs that stand out are "Careless Whisper", "Smooth Operator", "It
Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over" and "Time After
Time". On Love & Soul, it is the interpreter in Corneille who
takes center stage for our greatest happiness.
The indie rock / pop singer returns with his fourth
album in 6 years. After
Pure Comedy merely a year ago that lasted 75 minutes, Father
John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) narrowed it all down for
God's Favorite Customer for a total under 40 minutes. It is a
lighter and refreshing album, a record with very beautiful catchy
melodies. There are ballads reminiscent of Elton John in his
early days. Tillman's voice is in the foreground throughout the
album, which may put some music lovers off, but the arrangements are
still of high quality. So, this is another very good album that
Father John Misty is offering us, a very nice and more accessible
album than the previous one.
After incursions into jazz and French songs,
Florence K returns to her first love, with an album of Latin / Cuban
music. For the occasion, she worked with Alex Cuba and the
result is an album that greatly combines salsa and reggaetón. Mostly
in Spanish, there are still moments in English and French,
especially with "Morena" that can be heard in two versions, in
Spanish and French in conclusion of the CD. The rhythms are still
effective and Florence is certainly one of the few non-Cubans to
write and play that well the rhythms of this country with rich
musical heritage. Here is a warm and sunny album that will accompany
your summer, or a trip to the Caribbean...
For his new album, the Cuban pianist leaves aside
some his Latin roots and offers totally original jazz music.
These compositions were designed for this unique trio completed by
his younger brother Ruy Adrian on drums and Gaston Joya
A Dia Cualquiera (An Ordinary Day) proposes the idea
the studio and playing freely, as one would do at home.
The result is a spontaneous album where the pleasure of playing
In addition to original compositions, Lopez-Nussa offers two very
successful performances of Ernesto Lecuona's repertoire, "Danza
de los Nanigos" and "Y la Negra Bailaba".
Like Gershwin in the United States, Lecuona is considered as
one of the greatest Cuban composers, having succeeded in integrating
indigenous and popular forms into the classical repertoire.
The pianist also plays the famous bolero "Contigo En La Distancia",
performed by several artists through time including Placido
Domingo and Christina Aguilera.
As well at ease when improvising with his trio, Lopez-Nussa seems to
be at the right place and the right time, throughout this album in
Justin Time /
The Canadian-born singer now living in New Zealand
conquered Quebec during her last tours. On Sassafrass (who is
said about a sassy person who is not afraid to speak their mind),
Tami Neilson seems to want more than ever to have fun. She offers
energetic music combining rockabilly, soul, blues and country. With
her new haircut as a bonus, it looks like she participates to the
soundtrack of a movie by Tarantino. The set of music
arrangements gives a cinematic quality to the album. From the
opening track and first single, "Stay Outta My Business", Tami
offers us an irresistible groove in accompaniment to her powerful
voice. She allows herself to revisit a composition by her father
Ron Neilson, "One Thought of You". Then she defends the women of
Hollywood and all the women assaulted by men in "Smoking Gun" and
"Kitty Cat", two songs with a very different tone to treat almost
the same topic, the first being much darker. Finally, she pays
homage to Glen Campbell on the day of his death in "Manitoba
Sunrise at Motel 6".
On redisCOVERed, the British female singer
plays a variety of songs, pop, rock and even hip hop, in stripped
piano-voice versions with some drums, and discreet strings and
brass. Judith Owen makes us rediscover these songs often very well
known in a jazzy rather sweet version. We can hear for example
"Hotline Bling" (Drake), "Shape of You" (Ed Sheeran),
"Black Hole Sun" (Soundgarden), "Hot Stuff" (Donna Summer),
"Smoke on the Water" (Deep Purple), Grease's "Summer
Nights", "Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry), "Blackbird" (Beatles)
and many others. She also pays tribute to one of her greatest
influences, Joni Mitchell, revisiting "Cherokee Louise" and
"Ladies Man". Judith manages to skillfully deconstruct these
familiar songs to make them hers. The result is a refreshing album
to perfection, and above all, remaining consistent from beginning to
Steve Hill –
The One-Man Blues Rock
Recognized for many years as one of the best
guitarists of his generation, Steve Hill is becoming more and more
known as a true one-man band. He dazzles wherever he goes on stage
as he really plays every instrument on his own. With
The One-Man Blues
Rock Band, the multi-instrumentalist offers his first live
album, recorded at La Chapelle in Quebec City last November. You can
hear 12 original blues rock songs, including three acoustic pieces.
We can also hear two covers, including the incomparable "Voodoo
Child (Slight Return)" that he plays almost better than Jimi
Hendrix himself. On this tenth career album, which he considers
as his most successful, Steve Hill impresses with his vast talent.
One could challenge anyone to guess the number of musicians on stage
as he takes possession of the whole stage. The only regret is that
we cannot see him perform. When will we get a DVD? In the meantime,
don’t miss him on stage if he plays in a venue near you, since he
will leave soon for a long tour in the United Kingdom and Germany
where he gets more and more popular.