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JULY 2020

 

Featured Review:  Black Eyed Peas    Featured New Artist:  Jesse Maxwell

 

July 1-9:

Bob Dylan - HAIM - Jessie Ware - Ken Yates - Neil Young

 

 

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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:

 

Black Eyed Peas – Translation

Black Eyed Peas – Translation

After dominating the pop scene in the 2000s, the Black Eyed Peas have been more discreet in the past 10 years. With Translation, they seem ready to come back strongly with already two major hits of the year, "Ritmo (Bad Boys For Life)" (with a sampling of "Rhythm of the Night" and the presence of J Balvin) and "Mamacita" (perhaps the hit of the summer 2020 with Ozuna). The guest artists are numerous, starting with Shakira, Nicky Jam, Tyga, Becky G and French Montana. But it is above all the acquisition of J. Rey Soul which retains attention, with a voice particularly comparable to that of Fergie who has left the band since their greatest hits. Is it a coincidence? Probably not since the trio hadn't impressed anyone on Masters of the Sun two years ago. Thanks to J. Rey Soul and the other guests, the Black Eyed Peas return to the danceable hymns that have previously become inseparable from American pop culture. Hip hop and Latin rhythms blend perfectly to set fire to the dance floor. The group winks at Madonna, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Miami Sound Machine, La Bouche and MC Hammer. And even if it is sometimes without much subtlety, it must be admitted that it works to maintain the festive atmosphere throughout the album. In a single moment of lucidity, the Black Eyed Peas deliver "News Today" in conclusion, a consequence of the current pandemic, systemic racism and police brutality. For the other 14 tracks, it is more of a ceaseless and entertaining party, even if creativity is not always present.

Music Videos: « Ritmo (Bad Boys For Life) » - « Mamacita » - « Feel the Beat »

     

     

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

 Jesse Maxwell – Radio Silence

Jesse Maxwell – Radio Silence

Jesse Maxwell is a multi-talented Toronto artist who arrives with his very first album. Radio Silence brings together nine original songs composed at various times in his life, which in a way results in a collection of his early material. There is a skillful mix of pop, R&B and neo-soul, with even jazz and blues influences. Among the dark moments on the album, let’s note “Room in Hell” which recounts his time in rehab. However, the whole record remains quite soft and even creates a very pleasant, subdued atmosphere. Radio Silence may be somewhat uneven and certainly too short (32 minutes), but it does point to a bright future for Jesse Maxwell.

Trans Phatt

 

 

juLY 1-9:

 

 Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

With Rough and Rowdy Ways, legendary Bob Dylan presents perhaps his best album since the dark Time Out of Mind in 1997. This is his first record of original songs since Tempest in 2012 and he explores on this double album the different music genres that have characterized him since the 1960s: blues, country, folk, rockabilly, gospel, etc. The release of the album was preceded by three singles to set the table well: the meditative "I Contain Multitudes", the bluesy "False Prophet" and the complex track of almost 17 minutes "Murder Most Foul", the 10th and only song on the second disc. Dylan offers several long plays of six, seven or even nine minutes for the excellent "Key West (Philosopher Pirate)", but he succeeds in captivating us with his lyrics and his music which always makes listening enjoyable. The whole of 70 minutes therefore goes faster than we imagined. On Rough and Rowdy Ways, Bob Dylan proves that on the eve of his 80th birthday he can still have flashes of creative genius, with a very high quality album which will occupy an important place in his discography of the last 40 years.

½

     

 HAIM – Women in Music Pt. III

HAIM – Women in Music Pt. III

For their third album, the sisters from San Francisco offer a little deeper music, despite the light and sunny appearance of their pop music. It is that several recent events in their lives have inspired them for Women in Music Pt. III. Musically, the trio again presents pop music with influences from the 1970s and 1980s, with a parallel to do with Roxette and the 1990s on "Another Try". The 51-minute album contains 13 tracks and three as a bonus. Oddly enough, this is one of those bonus tracks, "Now I’m In It", which is one of the brightest and most interesting on the record, not to mention the lightness of the conclusion with "Summer Girl". The Women in Music Pt. III has it all for fans of the trio.

Vidéoclips : « Summer Girl » - « The Steps » - « I Know Alone » - « Don’t Wanna »

½

     

 Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure?

English singer Jessie Ware arrives with her fourth career album, What’s Your Pleasure. She now specializes in music that is both danceable and intimate, with obvious disco influences ("Mirage (Don’t Stop)", "Save a Kiss", the title track). However, it’s Massive Attack’s "Safe From Harm" that comes to mind during "In Your Eyes". On this new album, Jessie is somewhere between the nostalgia of Bananarama and the modernity of Goldfrapp, with arrangements of great richness. With What’s Your Pleasure, she seems to have finally managed to assemble all her forces into 12 coherent songs of a total of 53 minutes. Here is an excellent record containing extremely high quality pop music.

Music Videos: « Spotlight » - « Save a Kiss » - « Soul Control » - « Step Into My Life »

   

 Ken Yates – Quiet Talkers

Ken Yates – Quiet Talkers

Ken Yates is a singer-songwriter from London, Ontario. He offers his third album with Quiet Talkers. Produced by Jim Bryson, the record offers a folk rock sound with country influences. It is a rather dark and introspective album, with a few brighter moments ("Two Wrongs", "Evangeline"). Yates says this is his most personal recording to date when he dares to talk about himself for the first time. Quiet Talkers is a nice record that folk music fans will appreciate.

 

 Neil Young – Homegrown

Neil Young – Homegrown

The legendary Canadian folk rocker is not slowing down on the eve of his 75th birthday and he is coming back again with a new release. However, it should be mentioned that Homegrown was recorded in 1975 and could have been issued instead of the excellent Tonight’s the Night. After having had the two records listened to by a closed circle of friends, Neil Young had decided to offer the second which he considered more successful. Homegrown during that time was going to be tableted for more than 45 years. Some pieces have appeared on the left and on the right, including a raw version of "White Line" by Crazy Horse on Ragged Glory. But the whole stayed out of the way, even for the most extreme fans, and it finally sees the light of day. By listening carefully to the album, one realizes why Young preferred to reject it. It’s because he was getting a little too close to sensitive topics at the time, including the end of his romance with Carrie Snodgress. As time has gone by, Young has recently rediscovered the qualities of this unadorned album which contains a certain lightness that we did not know of him at the time. The album becomes doubly meaningful when contrasted with the more cohesive Tonight’s the Night. Homegrown may not be essential in Neil Young's extensive discography, but it is still important in helping to position the character of the mid-1970s. A very good record with no apparent weaknesses!

½

     

 

june:

 

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Here's Lady Gaga's highly anticipated new album, Chromatica. With the first single, “Stupid Love”, as well as the energetic “Alice” and “Rain On Me” (in duet with Ariana Grande), we have the feeling that the artist returns to the dance pop sound that brought her to fame 12 years ago. Yet Lady Gaga succeeds once again in surprising us with her most personal album to date as Joanne confesses more than ever through her lyrics. In addition, the integration of orchestral interludes (“Chromatica I, II & III”) is very interesting and adds great richness to the album, which remains above all a pop album with influences from the 1990s. comparisons with Madonna can often be easy, especially in “Babylon” which reminds a little too much of “Vogue”. Aside from these comparisons with Madonna, Lady Gaga offers us a highly effective pop album with several essential hits. (June 2020 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Stupid Love » - « Rain On Me »

½

     

     

 

 Mallory Chipman & The Mystics – Aquarian

Mallory Chipman & The Mystics – Aquarian

Originally from Edmonton, Mallory Chipman has made a name for herself on the jazz scene with two albums featuring her dynamic voice. In 2018, she surrounded herself with five musicians to form The Mystics to further explore her rock roots. She therefore offers an energetic experimental rock on Aquarian, with of course some jazz influences at different times of the record. She explores her Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell and Esperanza Spalding influences with eight extraordinary tracks, including a spoken piece and an improvised instrumental using a modular synthesizer and electronic effects. Most of the album was composed by Mallory, alone in a studio in an isolated town north of Edmonton. If Mallory Chipman shows us a new facet of her creative personality on Aquarian, we must admit that the result turns out to be particularly successful. We would only like to hear more. To be continued! (June 2020 Featured New Artist)

½

 Norah Jones – Pick Me Up Off the Floor

Norah Jones – Pick Me Up Off the Floor

For the album Begin Again in 2019, Norah Jones had accumulated tracks released throughout 2018 which she assembled for the record. However, a number of songs have been left out. After listening to them again, Norah told herself that they would make a good album in themselves. So, here is Pick Me Up Off the Floor, a solid album that proves that her instinct was good. In fact, we discover a greater uniformity and a better guideline on this new record than on Begin Again. There is a jazz / folk / pop hybrid that is perfect for late night relaxation. This is a warm album that will certainly comfort you and make you want to listen to more from Norah Jones. A surprising and amazingly effective record! (June 2020)

Blue Note / Universal

½

     

 Logan and Nathan – The Happening

Logan and Nathan – The Happening

The Vancouver duo of Logan Thackray and Nathan Turner presents their second album with The Happening. They offer alternative folk music in a sunny and very relaxed atmosphere. Soul rhythms are nicely added to the set which will prove to be perfect to accompany your summer very smoothly. The lyrics still deal with serious subjects such as political apathy, consumerism, climate emergency, colonialism, the rights of the First Nations, etc. We can also hear Rex Smallboy, from the Neyaskweyahk Cree Nation (Ermineskin), who is rapping on the track "Where Do We Go", which he also co-wrote. The duo Logan and Nathan offer us a very pleasant album. (June 2020)

Fallen Tree

     

 Joe Nolan – Drifters

Joe Nolan – Drifters

On his new album, Canadian Joe Nolan offers mainly acoustic folk rock. It was his 1970s folk influences that prompted him to produce this extremely stripped down album, and the result is impressive. We have the feeling that he sings and plays by our side. Guitarist Kevin Breit (Norah Jones) also adds a unique touch to the record. If you appreciate guitar-voice music, here is an unbelievably beautiful album which can be listened to wonderfully in an intimate atmosphere. (June 2020)

Fallen Tree

½

     

 Owen Pallett – Island

Owen Pallett – Island

The Canadian Owen Pallett arrives with a long-awaited new album, six years having passed since the excellent In Conflict, one of the best records of 2014. Island is entirely acoustic and mainly orchestral, while Pallett finds himself accompanied for the occasion by the London Contemporary Orchestra. The singer-songwriter is classically trained and for the first time, he has not been concerned with how to play these often complex songs on stage. It is an introspective and gentle album that reflects on life while giving us enough space to breathe. So here is great one hour recording by Owen Pallett. Very nice until the end! (June 2020)

Music Video: « A Bloody Morning »

Secret City

½

 

 Vivienne Wilder – Postromantic

Vivienne Wilder – Postromantic

On this six-track EP, Toronto-based Vivienne Wilder offers an energetic rock sound inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bloc Party and The Cure. Through the lyrics, Vivienne makes war to the surrounding cynicism, with an extremely strong punk energy. At least that’s the case when it’s opening with “Jimmy” and “Never Lovers”, before getting softer with the ballad “Gem”. The title track sums up well the whole point, before getting strong again with “Ricky” and ending in softness with “Forever for Tonight”. With less than 22 minutes, the recording will certainly seem too short. Vivienne Wilder has managed to offer us a solid record that will make us all impatient to hear more. (June 2020)

Fallen Tree

½

   

 

MAY:

 

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

The English pop singer presents a second album, after her self-titled album from 2017 which caught some attention. Dua Lipa comes to us today with a record that demonstrates a greater experience and which contains very solid pop compositions, starting with the debut single, "Don't Start Now", as well as the excellent pop rock song "Physical" and the most recent single, "Break My Heart". She incorporates disco influences, dance pop from the 1980s and club music from the 1990s and 2000s, while maintaining a high level of creativity. The result: there is no downtime throughout the 11 songs, all of which are fun to listen to. Dua Lipa reminds us of Madonna and Lady Gaga on various occasions, but she succeeds greatly in imposing her own personality. It is therefore a surprising album by its solidity that she offers us with Future Nostalgia, certainly one of the best pop albums of the year so far. (May 2020 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Don’t Start Now » - « Physical » - « Break My Heart »

     

     

 

 Jessie Reyez – Before Love Came to Kill Us

Jessie Reyez – Before Love Came to Kill Us

The Colombian native based in Toronto finally releases her long-awaited debut album, Before Love Came to Kill Us, after two EPs. It must be said that her first single, "Figures", dates to 2016 and was platinum certified. Jessie Reyez offers R&B music of great creativity and interpreted in a unique way, with a voice that is sometimes soft, sometimes powerful and even a little hoarse at times. The lyrics are always noticeably clear, very direct, even if the musical arrangements benefit from great richness. The singer-songwriter seems to want to get her messages across at all costs, often with a certain rage. But musically, she manages to differentiate herself from the mass and keep our interest from one song to another. There are two notable collaborations: Eminem in "Coffin" and 6Lack in "Imported". Otherwise, she assumes alone all that she offers to us. The 14 tracks on the album have very few weaknesses and if you like, the deluxe version will give you three additional tracks. Here is a debut album both inspired and inspiring for Jessie Reyez. (May 2020 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Figures » - « Imported » - « Love in the Dark » - « I Do » - « Coffin » - « Same Side »

FMLY / Island / Universal

½

     

 The Dears – Dangers Rock

The Dears – Dangers Rock

The alternative band from Montreal returns with a new album, their eighth in career. Seventeen years after No Cities Left which propelled them, Murray Lightburn, Natalia Yanchak and company seem to want to complete the circle. It must be said that at the time, the album was born from the ashes of September 11, 2001 and that this one is coming to the dawn of another period of great uncertainty and questioning. It’s this climate that colors very beautifully all of the 10 songs of Dangers Rock. Again, The Dears managed to create superb music from particularly dark emotions. Without being able to compare it to the band's biggest albums, here is a top indie music record again. (May 2020)

Dangerbird / SIX

½

 

 Dirty Cheetah – Never Too Late

Dirty Cheetah – Never Too Late

Dirty Cheetah is a Quebec quartet introducing their debut album. They offer raw punk rock inspired by the Ramones, with sometimes more hardcore and sometimes more pop traces. The often politicized lyrics fit perfectly into the basic principles of the genre. Dirty Cheetah goes through 10 punch songs at a breakneck pace for a total of just 28 minutes. But it is very refreshing to hear a real, no-frills punk band from Quebec. Very pleasant to listen to! (May 2020)

Music Video: « Addicted »

½

 

 Harrow Fair – Sins We Made

Harrow Fair – Sins We Made

Harrow Fair is a Canadian country rock duo made up of singers / multi-instrumentalists Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner. Sins We Made is their sophomore album and presents a mix of traditional country with rock or pop. They offer dynamic songs like “Rules of Engagement” as well as more introspective tracks like “Seat at the Table” or “Loved You Enough”. Musical richness is always there, which is notable for a duo. Here is a remarkably interesting album in the genre. (May 2020)

Roaring Girl / Fontana North

   

 Lynn Jackson – Lionheart

Lynn Jackson – Lionheart

After a career of 15 years, Lynn Jackson returns with her 11th folk rock album. The Ontarian artist takes control of the production to offer an album that looks a little more like her. She also adds richness to the arrangements with strings, horn and backing vocalists. Lynn is not afraid to go deeper into rock with tracks like "Running It Down" and "Sometimes It’s Ok". She also explores blues on "Outcast". Among the 14 songs, she presents several pieces beyond five minutes, for a total of more than an hour of music. (May 2020)

Busted Flat

 

 David Myles – Leave Tonight

David Myles – Leave Tonight

This is already the 12th album for the singer-songwriter from Fredericton, New Brunswick. Recognized for his ability to merge genres, David Myles offers this time an assembly of 10 love songs in a light and acoustic pop coating that flirts with jazz. The vocal harmonies remain of first quality and benefit from detailed arrangements. The production of James Bunton brings some class around music imbued with softness. Leave Tonight is probably Myles' most personal album to date, an album that turns out to be very pleasant to listen to. (May 2020)

Little Tiny / SIX

     

 Perfume Genius – Set My Heart on Fire, Immediately

Perfume Genius – Set My Heart on Fire, Immediately

Perfume Genius is the musical project of American Mike Hadreas. He offers a skillful mix of indie pop music and piano ballads with influences from David Bowie. Set My Heart on Fire, Immediately is his fifth album and probably his most accomplished to date. A little less personal than the previous ones, this new album explores the human body, influenced by the art of contemporary dance. It is a grand and theatrical work, even in its most intimate moments. This jack-of-all-trades truly manages to offer something for everyone on this album. Even if the ensemble remains alternative, more catchy melodies can appeal to a wider audience, and the rhythm changes are numerous. Here is a surprising album which has moments of grace. (May 2020)

½

     

 Moses Sumney – Grae

Moses Sumney – Grae

The California neo-soul artist had impressed in 2017 with Aromanticism, his debut album. Moses Sumney returns today with a double album of 20 tracks (for a total of 65 minutes). He pushes the boundaries again with indescribable pop soul music, including moments of almost rock intensity and very cinematic orchestral parts. Sumney leaves us no break, keeping us in suspense throughout the 20 songs. It is certainly an intense album, but also so enriching by the creative freedom that we find, and which nourishes us. Grae is not an easily accessible album, but the effort will be greatly rewarded. This is certainly one of the most creative records of the year. (May 2020)

½

     

 

APRIL:

 

The Weeknd – After Hours

The Weeknd – After Hours

Powered by the first singles "Heartless" and "Blinding Lights", After Hours was already breaking records for online pre-orders before its release. Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd) had therefore some pressure by presenting this new album. The Ethiopian-born Torontonian reaches new heights with this new recording thanks to sought-after and extremely creative music. His mix of pop and R&B with a good dose of electro is more successful than ever. The Weeknd seems to have consolidated his own style, thus avoiding any comparison. He incorporates some electro-pop elements from another era, notably in "Blinding Lights" (euro-pop), "Hardest to Love" (drum 'n' bass) and "Too Late" (dubstep), but the whole remains modern and uses all new technologies. With the love song "Scared to Live", he takes us back to 1980’s pop music, but he succeeds once again in modernizing it. He sets up a unique atmosphere of his own at the opening song, "Alone Again", and it quickly becomes clear that this is a breakup album that is awaiting us. But nothing tearful here! Rather, it is a very beautiful album with a captivating atmosphere where the few essential hits fit very well. (April 2020 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Heartless » - « Blinding Lights » - « In Your Eyes »

XO / Republic / Universal

     

     

 

 Dogleg – Melee

Dogleg – Melee

Dogleg is a band from Detroit releasing their debut album. They offer energetic and direct post-hardcore rock with a wall of guitars and no frills. Despite its rather aggressive style, Melee contains effective melodies that make it particularly catchy. And with only 35 minutes, we avoid unnecessary detours to get to the point. In this sense, the group can remind us ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead and At the Drive-In, with a little garage side à la Strokes. This is a successful first record for this group that will need to be watched closely. (April 2020 Featured New Artist)

½

   

 100 Mile House – Love and Leave You

100 Mile House – Love and Leave You

100 Mile House is a folk duo from Edmonton, Alberta made up of Peter Stone and Denise MacKay. On Love and Leave You, they offer love songs rooted in melancholy. The couple wraps their soft acoustic music with a magnificent string section which adds musical richness to the whole. But everything remains focused on the lyrics, more than ever before in fact. After the recognition of Hiraeth in 2016, it is a more stripped down, but still very solid album that is offered by 100 Mile House. (April 2020)

Fallen Tree

   

 Aliocha – Naked

Aliocha – Naked

For his sophomore album, the Montrealer born in Paris has decided to go sensual with a rather refined record with stripped guitars. Three years after Eleven Songs, Aliocha introduces himself in his simplest form, even on the cover. He puts forward his unadorned sensual poetry on music skillfully mixing folk, soul and aerial pop. Recorded in Paris, Naked was again produced by French Samy Osta (Feu! Chatterton). Here’s another solid album from Aliocha, a nice record to listen to from start to finish. (April 2020)

Audiogram

½

     

 Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

It has taken eight years of waiting since the excellent The Idler Wheel…, but here is finally a new album for Fiona Apple. This is only her fifth record in almost 25 years of career. With Fetch the Bolt Cutters, she experiments more than ever, with a piano that goes a little crazy on some occasions and various minimalist percussions. Vocally, she also presents pleasant moments of craziness, while delivering lyrics that are often very personal. If her previous record could be considered by many as her strongest in career, Fiona arrives with another prominent album. 13 songs to listen to carefully and which all remain interesting. Very solid! (April 2020)

 

 Pearl Jam – Gigaton

Pearl Jam – Gigaton

The legendary band from Seattle celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and they issue a brand new album, Gigaton, for the occasion. This 10th studio record is their first since Lightning Bolt in 2013. Pearl Jam seem to be invigorated with new energy from the opening songs, "Who Ever Said" and "Superblood Wolfmoon". Maybe it's because they feel the urgency of the climate change crisis more than ever, the album title referring to the amount of ice lost at the two poles. This is also the recurring theme throughout the record with several apocalyptic images related to the climate, but also with other worrying subjects. Including Donald Trump who is the target of Eddie Vedder in "Quick Escape" and "Never Destination". Musically, the contagious energy of the first half, which brings us back to the best years of the group, gives way to more meditative and introspective moments afterwards. The whole nevertheless presents a beautiful coherence and above all, a lot of listening pleasure. So, this is an amazingly effective album that these old-time grunge guys offer us. A great surprise! (April 2020)

Music Video: « Dance of the Clairvoyants »

Monkeywrench / Republic / Universal

½

     

 Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia

Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia

The Afro-Colombian singer based in Canada introduces her third album, Miss Colombia, after having made a good impression in 2017 with La Papessa. Lido Pimienta goes a step further in her mix of electro, pop and cumbia music, with arrangements inspired by indigenous and Afro-Colombian heritage. Recorded between her home studio in Toronto and a remote village in Colombia, with the help of co-producer Prince Nifty, Miss Colombia allows the artist to flourish a little more. Note that the title of the album comes from Steve Harvey's mistake in 2015 who proclaimed the winner of Miss Universe as Miss Colombia rather than Miss Philippines. On this new album, Lido Pimienta achieves a real tour de force by perfectly fusing current and traditional music, while highlighting Afro-Colombian culture. Here is a surprising album, which you have to listen to carefully to discover all its subtleties. (April 2020)

Anti- / Fontana North

½

   

 Emily Rockarts – Little Flower

Emily Rockarts – Little Flower

Emily Rockarts is a Montreal singer-songwriter who comes to us with her debut album, Little Flower. Seeing the maturity that emerges from the whole record, one has the impression that she has a much longer track record. At the opening with "Get it All Back", we discover an introspective ambient pop song. But don’t think this song represents all nine songs, since the next one, "Stay", is an energetic rock track. Emily will pass between these various atmospheres throughout the album, always leaving us a little out of balance. On the other hand, if you only love one of her personalities, you will find very few tracks to please you. It’s still a successful first album for Emily Rockarts, a very sensitive record. (April 2020)

 

 The Strokes – The New Abnormal

The Strokes – The New Abnormal

After seven years of absence, the New York band is finally back with its sixth album. The pop rock turn is particularly evident for The Strokes on The New Abnormal, with rhythms borrowed from the 1980s. So much so we feel about hearing Billy Idol’s "Dancing With Myself" in "Bad Decisions", as well as Psychedelic Furs’ "The Ghost in You" in "Eternal Summer". We can hear several refreshing moments on this new 45-minute record, but the group seems to lack breath and especially inspiration after these nine tracks. The New Abnormal won't go down in history, but we've heard worse from The Strokes. (April 2020)

Music Videos: « At the Door » - « Bad Decisions »

½

   

 Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud

Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) is back with her fifth album, Saint Cloud. She offers a warmer and more accessible record, leaving aside the distortion for a more melodic country rock sound. The atmosphere is rather relaxed, and we quickly appreciate the soft voice of the singer who envelops us pleasantly. It may be her newly acquired sobriety that makes her so relaxed. We can hear influences from Bob Dylan at several points in the album, more particularly in "Hell" and "War". But the whole remains pleasant from start to finish with 11 solid tracks that automatically make us feel good. A very beautiful album! (April 2020)

½

     

 

MARCH:

 

Justin Bieber – Changes

Justin Bieber – Changes

More than four years after Purpose, Justin Bieber returns with his seventh album. At 25 (he turns 26 today, March 1), he becomes the youngest artist in history to reach # 1 on the Billboard 200 seven times, after Elvis Presley who at 26 reached the top with Blue Hawaii in 1961. The only band to have done better is obviously The Beatles with Rubber Soul (the oldest member of the band, Ringo Starr, was 25 years and 6 months old). Once this historic feat has been highlighted, what remains interesting with Changes? Not much in fact... This is a very conventional R&B album with a ton of similar love songs that pretty much all talk about his wife, Hailey Baldwin. Even her must be embarrassed by so much attention... Few tracks stand out from the whole, not even the first singles, "Intentions" (with Quavo) and "Yummy", despite more than 500 million streams on digital platforms. Young Bieber fans obviously still like it, but if these songs were from someone else, they would likely go unnoticed. A little moment of interest arrives at the end with "At Least for Now" which addresses his mental health problems. The monster production and catchy melodies will certainly still appeal, but Bieber does not change the face of pop music with this new album, however it was long awaited. (March 2020 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Yummy » - « Intentions »

Def Jam / Universal

½

     

     

 

 Katie Pruitt – Expectations

Katie Pruitt – Expectations

Katie Pruitt comes to us straight from Atlanta, Georgia with a unique style of Americana music skilfully mixing country, folk and pop, including even rock parts, as in the title-song which may remind Fleetwood Mac. She offers several songs highlighting the sweetness of her voice, but she also has often impressive powerful moments. She therefore has a very wide range and can appeal to a much wider audience than just country enthusiasts. Despite 10 tracks totalling 46 minutes of music, we want more, and we are already looking forward to it. So, here’s a very talented artist who’s sure to be talked about in the future. (March 2020 Featured New Artist)

½

   

 Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG

Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG

The young Puerto Rican Bad Bunny is already introducing his third album. He leaves aside somewhat the trap style of the previous record to focus on reggaeton and take it to another level. He managed to integrate the origins of the genre and create a new, more futuristic version. Not obvious for a style overexploited for 20 years... His vocal prowess and his delivery add to the hot rhythms conducive to swaying, which allows to enhance a genre often associated with easy pop music, without depth. Bad Bunny proves here that with a little creativity it is possible to go a little further. Here is a surprising album, both intelligent and entertaining. (March 2020)

Music Videos: « VETE » - « Ignorantes » - « Si Veo a Tu Mama » - « La Dificil » - « Pero Ya No »

½

 

 Ayla Brook & The Sound Men – Desolation Sounds

Ayla Brook & The Sound Men – Desolation Sounds

Canadian singer-songwriter Ayla Brook formed the Sound Men in Edmonton, Alberta, and together they present a very good, often energetic rock album. Produced by Terra Lightfoot, Desolations Sounds can recall Blue Rodeo and Tom Petty on several occasions ("Lift You Up", "All That I Wanted To Do"), but also with more folk moments ("She Smiles Like a River", "Love & Laughter", "Little Birdie"). The recurring themes are friends and family, on a frankly refreshing album, even if it does not reinvent the genre. (March 2020)

Fallen Tree

   

 Green Day – Father of All Motherfuckers

Green Day – Father of All Motherfuckers

The punk band arrives with its 13th studio album in 32 years of career. Green Day offer a more glam sound with more dancing songs than on any other album released before. The trio also explores sounds never heard before. Notably, the falsetto voice in the title track is somewhat unsettling, while the riff is reminiscent of "Fire" by Jimi Hendrix. On "Meet Me on the Roof", the group delves more into dance pop than ever. "Oh Yeah!" seems to be partly taken from Joan Jett’s "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)", while "Graffitia" was certainly inspired by The Clash and that "Stab You in the Heart" seems to be copied from "Hippy Hippy Shake". If the band may have wanted to pay tribute to the past on this new record, it seems to have been uninspired. On the other hand, it is an extremely energetic and pleasant album to listen to. (March 2020)

Music Videos: « Oh Yeah! » - « Meet Me on the Roof »

     

 R Grunwald – OMA

R Grunwald – OMA

The Toronto pianist comes to us with his first album for solo piano, OMA. It includes his first single, "Determination of the Crossing", which represents his musical interpretation of the act of escape, accompanied by a superb video by Jacob Mittermaier-Zubeck. R Grunwald has worked primarily with Jill Barber, Donovan Woods and David Myles over the past decade, in addition to composing music for several films and TV shows. On OMA, he finally assumes himself, alone behind his piano, with a title that evokes his 96-year-old grandmother exiled to Chile from her native Poland. He was inspired by the works of Chilly Gonzales and Max Richter when he decided to embark on this daring project five years ago. Even if the links with jazz are natural, Grunwald rather presents instrumental and minimalist pop music, the melody remaining at its center. It's generally slow music, which manages to captivate us quickly despite a somewhat arduous approach. Here is a particularly successful record from R Grunwald. (March 2020)

Music Video: « Determination of the Crossing »

Common Noise / Outside / SIX

½

   

 Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

After 10 years of waiting, Ozzy Osbourne returns with a new studio album, his 12th in solo. This is a homecoming with heavy credentials greatly influenced by his years with Black Sabbath. He even reuses at the beginning of "Straight to Hell" the Alright Now! heard in 1971 in the classic "Sweet Leaf". Ozzy, who has been sick for some time, seems to be reinvigorated on Ordinary Man who has nothing to envy to his best career recordings in the 1980s and 90s. It is accompanied by guitarist and producer Andrew Watt (Post Malone), bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N 'Roses) and drummer Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) that Ozzy literally has a blast on this frankly refreshing record for this 71 year old metal legend. He even allows himself a duet with another legend, Elton John, for the ballad of the title track, a song without personality on the other hand. He also collaborates twice with Post Malone on the energetic "It’s a Raid" and "Take What You Want" (also featuring Travis Scott). There are a few less effective tracks among the 11 on the album, but it is still his best record since No More Tears in 1991 thanks to some rather inspired moments. (March 2020)

Music Videos: « Under the Graveyard » - « Straight to Hell »

½

     

 Emie R Roussel Trio – Rythme de passage

Emie R Roussel Trio – Rythme de passage

The jazz trio marks its 10th anniversary with a new album. This fifth record arrives after numerous distinctions and tours around the world (11 countries on 4 continents). Rythme de passage (Rhythm of passage) is more than ever a collective work while the trio always takes the lead on each of its members. Even Emie, the leader and pianist, fades somewhat behind the ensemble playing with double bassist and electric bassist Nicolas Bédard (who signs 3 of the 8 compositions) and drummer Dominic Cloutier. The atmospheric compositions of the trio create a very beautiful mood during all the 46 minutes of Rythme de passage. The opening play that heralds the sequel, "Yatse Club", is a humorous nod to the Italian accent of a taxi driver in Turin when he pronounced "Jazz Club". Rythme de passage only contains good times and will certainly help to strengthen the position of the trio among the best of contemporary jazz. (March 2020)

UNImusiQC / SIX

½

   

 

February:

 

Selena Gomez – Rare

Selena Gomez – Rare

Selena Gomez arrives with her long-awaited sixth album, Rare. It's a record that takes a look at her healing and growth. She admits that this is her recording of which she is the proudest to date. It must be said that even if Rare is an album of pure pop music until the end, the lyrics were particularly sought after, which makes it frankly smart pop. The team of songwriters who surround her are undoubtedly there for something, and the whole benefits from a foreground production. Selena still manages to stay somewhat out of the crowd, while offering widely accessible pop music. With Rare, she presents perhaps her best album to date, as refreshing as her debut album, with the bonus of great maturity. (February 2020 Featured Review)

Interscope / Universal

½

   

     

 

 Loving – If I Am Only My Thoughts

Loving – If I Am Only My Thoughts

Loving is a band from Victoria, British Columbia, that is coming to us with their very first album, after an EP that had attracted attention. The trio offers a folk pop sound with a psychedelic tendency, which seems straight out of a movie from the 1960s or 1970s. At different times, we recognize influences from the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel. The group offers excellent melodies, totally unforgettable, in addition to creating a soft and extremely pleasant atmosphere. If I Am Only My Thoughts is in fact a soothing album that gives us a huge feeling of well-being. (February 2020 Featured New Artist)

Last Gang

½

 

 John Borra – Blue Wine

John Borra – Blue Wine

After three albums with his band, Rattlesnake Choir, John Borra releases his first solo album since 2002. With Blue Wine, Borra remains one of the emblematic figures of the alternative country and folk scene in Toronto. We discover of course a certain maturity, but also sophisticated lyrics, particularly well polished. He surrounded himself for the occasion with a team of all-star musicians including Mike Boguski (keyboardist of Blue Rodeo) and his long-time collaborator, Sam Ferrara. He collaborated with poet Eva H.D. for three songs: "Machu Picchu", "The Wars" and "Hambre and Dolores". Borra also revisits Velvet Underground’s "Foggy Notion", starring Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies). (February 2020)

Cousin Jeb

½

 

Caveboy – Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark

Caveboy – Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark

Caveboy is a female trio from Montreal presenting their bright style. They offer particularly catchy indie pop music that is very reminiscent of the 1980s. We can compare them to HAIM and Tegan & Sara, but with this sunny dimension that brings us straight to summer. Synthesizers from the 1980s are interspersed with energetic guitars and even solos. With 10 tracks totaling only 33 minutes of music, it will be very difficult for you not to go to the end, with a huge smile on your face. You might even have an uncontrollable desire to resume listening to the first track right away. Very pleasant! (February 2020)

½

 

 

 Rose Cousins – Bravado

Rose Cousins – Bravado

Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter comes to us with a new album that she produced herself. Rose Cousins went into the studio to record a song with Toronto musicians she loved, and she came out with an entire album containing probably her richest writing to date. We discover a very nice mixture of folk and alternative rock, with superb orchestrations. The theme of loneliness seems recurrent, both for those who fight against loneliness and those who want more moments alone. Bravado quickly seduces with its warm atmospheres, lulled by Rose’s beautiful voice. (February 2020)

Outside / SIX

½

     

Destroyer – Have We Met

Destroyer – Have We Met

Dan Bejar (alias Destroyer) celebrates 25 years of career with a new recording. He continues in his indie pop style with catchy melodies and a good dose of electro. Even if the whole is rather mid-tempo, we can hear some particularly catchy danceable rhythms that would fit rather well in a music list of the 1980s. He manages to skillfully mix droll lyrics with cool music and well of its time. This music genius once again offers a timeless and incomparable album, which can be listened to very pleasantly along its entire length. Without equaling the classic Poison Season released five years ago, Have We Met will certainly please fans of Destroyer. (February 2020)

Merge

½

 

 

Eminem – Music to be Murdered By

Eminem – Music to be Murdered By

Eminem surprised everyone on January 17 with a new album. Despite its surprise effect, Music to be Murdered By is a dense and extremely complete album, with 20 tracks (including intros and interludes) for a total of 64 minutes. The rapper is obviously surrounded by several collaborators: Ed Sheeran, Juice WRLD, Skylar Gray, Anderson.Paak, and many others. We find rather dark lyrics, in line with the title of the album. But musicality remains of paramount importance, as can be heard with the first single, "Darkness", and with "Leaving Heaven" (starring Skylar Gray). The production is first rate and there are interesting elements, such as for example scratching to hide politically incorrect words in the clean version. “Godzilla” (with Juice WRLD) also has its entertaining moment with a speed record for delivering texts, a real exercise in diction, even a tour de force. In short, Music to be Murdered By turns out to be a solid record with many points of interest, without however reinventing the genre. (February 2020)

Shady / Aftermath / Interscope / Universal

     

 

Halsey – Manic

Halsey – Manic

Ashley Nicolette Frangipane (alias Halsey) arrives with her third album to date. The young New Jersey artist offers an extremely well-crafted pop record with Manic. She explores different atmospheres with several changes of moods, sometimes even inside the same song. It can go from sounds comparable to the Beatles ("I Hate") or Avril Lavigne ("3am") with moments of contemporary pop rock, country, hip hop and more. A thin guiding line cleverly connects the whole for a daring but highly successful record. She can thus reach a large audience which will discover as a bonus her best album to date. (February 2020)

Music Videos: « Without Me » - « You Should Be Sad »

Capitol / Universal

½

     

 

Lynne Hanson – Just Words

Lynne Hanson – Just Words

For her new album, the folk singer from Ottawa offers mainly sad songs, but also with some positivism. She sings about bullying (the title track), acceptance ("Clean Slate") and forgiveness ("Higher Ground"). After eight years of sobriety, Lynne has managed to cast out her demons, and that is more evident than ever on Just Words which shows her with full confidence. Here is a very good folk album, but with also country and rock music. (February 2020)

 

 

 Matt Holubowski – Weird Ones

Matt Holubowski – Weird Ones

Following his debut album, Solitudes, in 2016, Matt Holubowski toured Canada, the United States and Europe. Result: Weird Ones was written and composed between Paris, Krakow, Banff and Montreal. The singer-songwriter has found again producer Connor Seidel, even if he pushes his sound experiments a little further, navigating between softness and intensity. His folk base borrows from pop and rock, while retaining the melancholy that inhabits him. The atmospheres remain above all soaring, around his voice that is so characteristic. Holubowski tackles the theme of love for the first time by getting inspiration from his personal experiences. His musicians are joined by violinist Mélanie Bélair, horn player Pietro Amato and singer Claudia Bouvette. (February 2020)

Audiogram

½

   

 Adam Karch – Everything Can Change

Adam Karch – Everything Can Change

This fifth album by Adam Karch was recorded in Montreal and produced by Karch himself. He presents a mix of solo and trio performances with Richard Deschênes (bass) and Marc-André Drouin (drums). He also alternates between original compositions and classic covers like Bob Dylan’s "Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright", JJ Cale’s "After Midnight", popularized by Eric Clapton, as well as Robert Johnson’s "Preachin’ Blues". The Quebecer once again offers a superb amalgam of folk, blues and country, for our greatest pleasure. This is perhaps his strongest recording to date. (February 2020)

Bros / SIX

½

     

 Kid Francescoli – Lovers

Kid Francescoli – Lovers

Kid Francescoli is the musical project of French artist Mathieu Hocine who has collaborated with Julia Minkin since 2013. For this third album, recorded at home in Marseille, Hocine surrounds himself with new female voices: Samantha, Sarah Rebecca, Nassee and Alizée (alias iOni). Kid Francescoli still offers light electro-pop music that is very catchy, on lyrics mainly in English, but also in French and Portuguese. It’s sunny music that quickly puts a smile on our face. Fans of the genre will ask for more… (February 2020)

Yotanka / Audiogram

½

   

 Audrey Ochoa – Frankenhorn

Audrey Ochoa – Frankenhorn

Canadian trombonist Audrey Ochoa comes to us with an album containing seven original compositions, as well as a cover of Ben Sures' "Postcards". While it was originally a duet project with pianist Chris Andrew, Audrey decided instead to trust herself and use the experience gained to arrange sections of strings with brass instruments and a rhythm section. The result is an ambitious and rich project that combines chamber music, contemporary jazz and Latin jazz. Ultimately, Audrey Ochoa succeeds in fusing tradition and modernity on Frankenhorn, with contemporary jazz steeped in history. (February 2020)

Chronograph / SIX

½

     

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

Five years after Currents, which had been especially successful thanks to the intoxicating "Let It Happen", Tame Impala presents a new record. Kevin Parker returns to more experimental electro music, but less psychedelic. The only pop song worthy of "Let It Happen" is "Tomorrow’s Dust". Otherwise the tempo turns out to be much slower compared to the previous record which included collaborations with Lady Gaga and Kanye West. If Tame Impala reached the big leagues thanks to Currents, we feel that its creator rather wanted to return to the basics of the electro music that is of interest to him. It is rather successful, at the risk of losing some new fans acquired in recent years. Parker remains a leading songwriter who offers extraordinary music. The Slow Rush is therefore once again a safe bet, which also has the advantage of being interesting over its entire length unlike the previous album by Tame Impala. (February 2020)

Island / Universal

½

     

 

 Wilsen – Ruiner

Wilsen – Ruiner

After a critically acclaimed debut album in 2017, the New York trio is back on record. Wilsen collaborated for the occasion with producer Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Bon Iver). Ruiner is once again dominated by the muffled and shy voice of Tamsin Wilson who admits to finally making peace with her introverted personality and her inner monster, hence the title of the album. The guitars still occupy a prominent place with great rock energy on several occasions to come to contrast the ambient moments, more cinematographic. Here again is a very beautiful album from this talented band! (February 2020)

Secret City / SIX

½

   

 

JANUARY:

 

The Who – Who

The Who – Who

The legendary British band celebrates the 55 years of its foundation by presenting a new album of original songs, their first since 2006 and only the second since their first split-up in 1982. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend are now accompanied by a new rhythm section composed of Pino Palladino on bass and Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) on drums. This pair certainly gives a new breath to the group allowing it to face 2020 in a great way. Even if the band no longer has the energy of yesteryear, we can still discover some good moments on Who with quality compositions. They even manage to surprise us, especially with the romantic soul song "I’ll Be Back". Therefore, the Daltrey-Townshend tandem remains still relevant in 2020, even if it is most probably their last album. (January 2020 Featured Review)

Polydor / Universal

     

     

 

 Fyrhtu – No More Days in the Light

Fyrhtu – No More Days in the Light

Fyrhtu is a duo from Oakland, California, formed of multi-instrumentalists Leila Abdul-Rauf (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune, Ionophore) and Nathan A. Verrill (Cardinal Wyrm). On this debut album, they offer ambient music fusing folk and electro. It is a kind of mystical music with quasi-religious passages. Analog and digital synthesizers overlap to create music that is both organic and electronic, transporting us to a very special atmosphere. There are experimental improvisations that are not necessarily easy to access, but the creativity is always present while each of the seven songs differs from the previous one. The only thread running through the album is its very unique atmosphere, so if you want to discover a different band, Fyrhtu is for you. (January 2020 Featured New Artist)

Black Horizons

½

 

 Junkyard – Old Habits Die Hard

Junkyard – Old Habits Die Hard

The hard rock band from Los Angeles produced two albums in 1989 and 1991, before being released by their record company, Geffen, more interested in the new trend (grunge). Junkyard therefore had an album ready in 1992 that never saw the light of day. It is 27 years later that Old Habits Die Hard is finally offered to us. We obviously find the same recipe that had been appreciated on the previous records of the group, with an energetic rock ‘n’ roll sound including a blues tendency, somewhere between AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Note that the original band at the time included, in addition to David Roach at the microphone, a certain Brian Baker, ex-Dag Nasty/Minor Threat and future guitarist of Bad Religion. Even if the nostalgic ones will find some interesting moments reminding them of their teenage years, let's say that Geffen certainly took the right decision at the time by betting everything on Nirvana... (January 2020)

Acetate

½

 

 Paul Kelly – Greatest Hits: Songs From the South 1985-2019 (2 CD)

Paul Kelly – Greatest Hits: Songs From the South 1985-2019 (2 CD)

At the dawn of his 65 years of age and his 40 years of career, Paul Kelly offers us this very exhaustive collection of his best recordings between 1985 and 2019. The Australian offers nothing less than 43 tracks totaling almost 160 minutes, and everything is presented to us chronologically. You can rediscover some of his jewels of rock and alternative rock, as well as his folk incursions. Here is an excellent retrospective of the career of one of Australia's most underrated singer-songwriters. (January 2020)

Cooking Vinyl

 

 I’ll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd (DVD)

I’ll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd (DVD)

In 1977, when Lynyrd Skynyrd were at the peak of their careers, they faced a tragedy. On October 20, their plane crashed, killing the band’s founder and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve's sister) and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, in addition to the two pilots of the aircraft. This documentary basically recounts the last 72 hours before the crash and the aftermath by three survivors: security guard and Van Zant’s friend Gene Odom, lead backup singer Leslie Hawkins and guitar technician Craig Reed. The documentary is based on the novel by Gene Odom, I’ll Never Forget You. We can see different archive footage of the events preceding the crash, a simulation of the crash itself based on the expert report, as well as rare interviews with first responders filmed at the crash site in Gillsburg, Mississippi. It’s a documentary that only very briefly covers the band’s career, and music is totally absent. The film therefore focuses on the links between the survivors and the band, as well as on the events surrounding the crash of October 20, 1977. Interesting, but incomplete to really learn about Lynyrd Skynyrd. (January 2020)

Concrete Lion Pictures / MVD

½

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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