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After the addition and multiplication, here is the
album of the division for the British singer while he offers us ÷
(Divide). After a one-year break, Ed Sheeran again presents an
album of adult pop with unforgettable melodies that will surely
please the ladies. One can of course hear a lot of acoustic rather
introspective pieces, but he also knows how to interpret a little
more danceable pop songs, like the first singles, "Castle on the
Hill" and the monster hit "Shape of You". Despite these unavoidable
hits, Sheeran is likely to have difficulty returning to the sales of
X, the worldwide second-best seller of 2015.
« Castle on the Hill » -
« Shape of You »
Sampha Sisay is a
songwriter, singer, keyboardist and producer from London who offers
a superb mix of pop, R&B and electronics. After several
collaborations with artists including The XX, Jessie Ware,
Drake, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Frank Ocean
and Solange, he issues his very first solo album. And it is
truly a solo album while the only collaborator, Kanye West, appears
as a co-author for one song. His rather heterogeneous and difficult
to describe sound immediately catches attention by its creativity
and richness. It is an album that has to be discovered slowly, from
one song to another, with strong moments vocally or in electro
arrangements. It also presents passages that are rather personal and
moving, installed alone on the piano. With his soulful voice, Sampha
could easily pass for another of these rather common R&B singers if
he did not bring that unique musical color that makes him
unclassifiable. He has just set the bar high for the rest of his
« Blood on Me » -
« (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano »
On her new album, the Canadian jazz singer of
Swedish origin demonstrates both her talent as an interpreter and as
a composer. Johanna Sillanpaa wrote seven of the 11 songs offered on
From This Side. She also includes classics like Irving
Berlin’s "Blue Skies" and Joni Mitchell’s "Woodstock".
Johanna is accompanied by world class musicians: George Koller
(double bass), Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Chris Andrew
(piano and arrangements) and Tyler Hornby (drums and
arrangements). Here is an extremely pleasant record to listen to
thanks to the seductive voice of Johanna who cradles us from one end
to the other.
After 10 years of career, Alynda Segarra
and her band seem to have reached the top of their career on this
sixth album, The Navigator. The singer from New Orleans
offers a pseudo-autobiographical concept-album partly inspired by
her first listening to the masterpiece by David Bowie,
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.
We follow Navita, a Puerto Rican folk punk who discovers her
identity through the different districts of New York. The indie folk
style of the previous recordings by Hurray for the Riff Raff takes
new directions, incorporating gospel, strings, energetic piano and
rich arrangements. The result is an enveloping atmosphere with
several layers of music that deserve attentive listening. The
Navigator proves to be a surprising record for its creativity.
Klezmer virtuosos return with their fifth album,
Nigun, which means melody in Hebrew. With pieces from the rich
klezmer repertory of Eastern Europe and original compositions, the
album is halfway between tradition and modernity. There is even a
composition of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe
("Jerusalem Ridge"). Nigun offers a wide range of emotions
with a mixture of energy, humor, melancholy and sadness, always with
rich arrangements. The collective formed 15 years ago brings
together virtuosos from all genres: classical, jazz, traditional and
gypsy. Kleztory is recognized as one of the best klezmer bands in
the world. With Nigun, the group certainly remains at the
forefront of the genre.
Chicano Batman is a Los Angeles band that has
existed since 2008 and offers a creative mix of psychedelic rock,
funk and Latin music. Even though their music remains quite
alternative, it has good catchy melodies that make it more
accessible to a wide audience. On this third album, the group
broadens its repertoire a little more with Brazilian influences,
Latin funk, Afrobeat and old American soul/R&B. In the same song, we
can see evolution and changes of direction, which leaves us
constantly on the alert. With Freedom is Free, Chicano Batman
offers an out-of-the-ordinary multicultural funk, a music of great
richness and a diversified palette. A very good record!
Five Alarm Funk is a Vancouver band that, as its
name suggests, plays funk. It is a perfect mix of funk and rock,
always energetic and certainly entertaining. Sweat remains
almost totally instrumental with only a few voices that are
sometimes integrated without ever dominating. It is the music that
occupies the foreground with a brass section always very present.
The 12-track album spans over 60 minutes, but we listen to it to the
end with a lot of pleasure.
Only 10 months after the excellent
which has attracted the attention of critics, now are back the
bizarre Australians of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. While
their previous record offered a sort of endless loop, the group here
suggests an incursion into the microtonal tuning, which has an
interval of less than a semitone, a style rather unknown in the
West. This is perhaps what suggests that we hear foreign sounds, a
touch of Middle Eastern exoticism. However, King Gizzard remains in
a rather dirty indie rock style, the garage rock sound that we
already knew. Their music is undoubtedly psychedelic and
experimental, but we soon get used to it after a few plays. In this
sense, the band succeeds a little less to surprise us compared to
its previous record. Note the indication "Volume 1" on the cover
that suggests a sequel and the group would have declared that it
would produce four other albums in 2017 after this one. To follow in
their new adventures...
Flightless / ATO
This new album by the contralto from Quebec,
entirely dedicated to Rossini, was recorded in December 2015 in
Montpellier. For these operas, arias and duets, Marie-Nicole Lemieux
is brilliantly accompanied by the Orchestra and Choir of the
National Opera Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and Italian
soprano Patrizia Ciofi, directed by conductor Enrique
Mazzola. The rich program contains extracts from Tancredi,
L'Italiana in Algeri, Semiramide, Il barbiere di
Siviglia, Matilda di Shabran, La gazza ladra and
La pietra del paragone. In conclusion, Marie-Nicole and
Patrizia offer us the "Duo of cats" attributed to Rossini. On this
great album, Marie-Nicole Lemieux seems to be perfectly in the right
spot, as if the work of Rossini had been written specifically for
Old 97’s – Graveyard
Dallas country rock band has been bringing albums
one after the other since 1994, so today they issue their 11th
studio album. Their most recent one,
Most Messed Up,
appeared in 2014, and it was dirty and scratching. For Graveyard
Whistling, the Old 97's come back with a more polished style,
despite many energetic tracks that move quite a lot, including the
unleashed "Drinkin' Song" which is probably the closest to the style
of their previous record. The four guys still talk about the
importance of having a good time, even though they now understand
the consequences. It is therefore an album that still possesses the
energy of their debut, but with a bit of maturity as a bonus. Above
all, the band knows its style perfectly and knows where it goes, so
the album has a certain confidence, specific to experienced groups.
The result is an excellent album and a great entertainment.
Judith Owen is a British pop rock singer-songwriter
and pianist who is rather introspective with adult and jazz trends.
On her previous albums, she had surprised us with clever and
original covers of Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and
Mungo Jerry’s "In the Summertime".
This time, she offers us Roxy Music’s "More Than This" which
she recorded on Bryan Ferry's piano and in his studio in
"Aquarius" is a light adaptation from the musical Hair.
As for her personal compositions, many have qualities worthy of the
greatest songwriters in the genre.
She is supported by renowned musicians including bassist Leland
Sklar (James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett),
guitarist Waddy Wachtel (James Taylor, Jackson Browne,
Bryan Ferry) and drummer Russell Kunkel (Bob Dylan,
King, Carly Simon, James Taylor).
Judith will be in Montreal on April 3 at the Théâtre St-Denis
opening for Bryan Ferry's concert.
German Yeshe Reiners is a true globetrotter
who eventually settled in Australia after traveling to Europe,
Africa, Asia and Quebec (where he collaborated with Harry Manx).
After two albums and his famous cover of Zachary Richard’s
"La ballade de Jean Batailleur", he releases a five-track EP which
he describes as his most personal work in career, the one that
resembles him most. Musically, Yeshe presents a complete blend of
styles, with a folk base, but including various African influences.
His mastery of several African instruments gives him a very
distinctive sound. It's an EP that will surely leave you unsatisfied
and will make you want to hear more.
World CitiZen /
The Shack (Music from and Inspired by the Original
For the music of The Shack movie, they have
assembled many artists from the country scene. You can hear Dan +
Shay, Tim McGraw in duo with Faith Hill, Lady
Antebellum, Dierks Bentley and Brett Eldredge. The
only artists who stand out somewhat with a slightly more pop trend
are Needtobreathe, Kelly Clarkson and Skillet,
but they remain in the religious field to fit in with the film. In
fact, the album ends in strength with the classic "Amazing Grace" by
another duo playing Christian music, For King & Country.
Several pieces on the album are particularly boring, especially
outside the context of the movie. But we must admit that the whole
remains coherent, for a rare film soundtrack that you can listen in
full (depending on if you appreciate the genre of course).
The American alternative band returns with a new
album that will succeed again to surprise on several points.
Psychedelic remains, but we can also hear more melodic moments,
between hip hop and progressive rock. Orchestrations are also
present for great eclectic atmospheric music. The voice of Wayne
Coyne seems to be relegated to the background on several
occasions, leaving plenty of room for electronic elements, grand
orchestrations and strings. Many of the 12 tracks on the album look
almost like adult fairy tales, with sweet melancholic melodies
perfect to lead us straight to sleep. The band having collaborated
with Myley Cyrus recently, she returns the favor by
participating to the last song, "We a Family". The group may be a
little less impressive than in the past from a creative point of
view, but it remains intriguing to listen until the end... unless
you go to sleep before.
(February 2017 Featured Review)
« How?? » -
« Nidgy Nie (Never No) »
The indie pop singer from Alabama has played in
different bands since her teenage years. She finally releases her
debut solo album after having separated from her lover and guitarist
Kyle Gilbride, while they were playing together in the band
Swearin'. So, it was a double separation for the 28-year-old
singer who really did not have a choice but to move forward.
Tourist in This Town has several jewels of alternative pop, with
also moments of introspection that are a little sad. The singer
shows less aggressiveness than with Swearin' and she remains rather
in sweetness, even in more energetic moments. Unfortunately, with
only 10 tracks totaling 32 minutes, we remain somewhat not
satisfied, but the record remains solid from start to end.
(February 2017 Featured New Artist)
« Dean’s Room » -
« I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California »
AFI – AFI (The
Four years after
Burials, the Californian punk band is back with an eponymous
record subtitled The Blood Album. This is their 10th studio
release on which they continue their evolution, notable from one
record to another. On this one, we find different elements of the
past, but the group is oriented towards a melodic post-punk sound.
Nothing to do with their hardcore punk from the beginning, which
enraged their fans from the first hour since the turn of the 2000s.
They should get along with it because it was obvious for a long time
now that the band will not return to that style. On The Blood
Album, AFI is inspired by the alternative rock sound of the
1980s with bands such as The Cure, Joy Division and
Depeche Mode that can come first to mind, but with sounds of the
years 2010. Although, "The Wind That Carries Me Away" seems to be a
nod to Depeche Mode’s "I Feel You". Of the 14 tracks on the
CD, there are still a handful of energetic songs that will recall
the real punk years of the band and will appeal to nostalgic people.
It is therefore once again a solid album that offer us AFI, a
pleasant album to listen until the end. Their evolution is certainly
not finished and let’s see what awaits us in the future.
« White Offerings » -
« Snow Cats » -
« Aurelia »
Singer and pianist Anne Bisson and cellist
Vincent Bélanger combine their talents to offer a bold mix of
jazz and classical. This is a fourth album for Anne Bisson and a
third for Vincent Bélanger who are known for their intimate music.
An original concept of Lily Luo of XLO Electric,
Conversations contains 10 tracks: 6 instrumental and 4 songs
(one in French, two in English and one in Mandarin). There are seven
original pieces, as well as three covers of Marc Bélanger ("Rêverie
sentimentale"), André Gagnon ("Dédéthoven") and David
Chesky ("Sutton Place Chorinho"). The duo is accompanied by
harpist Isabeau Corriveau and bassists Jean-Bertrand
Carbou and Jacques Roy for a few tracks.
Chinese Man is a mysterious French trio formed of
High Ku, SKY and Zé Mateo. They are surrounded by
a collective of artists of all kinds assembled on the label Chinese
Man Records, first specialized in independent vinyls. Five years
Racing with the Sun, Chinese Man
return with their sophomore album, produced between Marseille and
Bombay. Musically, they incorporate Indian sounds into trip hop and
hip hop music that recalls Gorillaz. Moreover, Chinese Man
also like to spoil their audience with visual and 3D animations.
Their music remains focused on beats and will suddenly make you
stomp your feet at home or ignite the dance floors. Shikantaza
is an extremely creative 64-minute record on which you will discover
many great and exciting songs.
Chinese Man /
After an EP in 2013, here is finally the first
full-length album by the trio from Ontario Courage My Love. They
offer us a CD of 14 tracks totaling a little more than 40 minutes.
The trio formed of the Arn-Horn twins and Brandon Lockwood
has a somewhat dynamic pop punk sound. Their energy quickly becomes
communicative and makes us stomp our feet. On the other hand, the
creativity is not always at the rendezvous and we have many times a
feeling of déjà-vu throughout the record. Powerful voices remain the
source of their sound.
« Stereo »
The Prince Edward Island-born singer-songwriter now
based in Halifax issues a new folk album. For the occasion, she
asked for the services of producer Joe Henry, who brought
with him long-time collaborators from Los Angeles: sound engineer
Ryan Freeland, drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist David
Piltch, who worked together on several projects (Bonnie Raitt,
Solomon Burke, Allen Toussaint and Billy Bragg).
Among the musicians are pianist Aaron Davis (Holly Cole,
Jane Siberry), her friend Kinley Dowling (Hey
Rosetta!) on the violin to add more strings to the ensemble, and
Jill Barber among the back-up singers. Rose goes far from the
bluegrass on Natural Conclusion presenting rather a folk
sound at the same time intimate and of great richness. She has a
good maturity and seems to have reached a new level in her career. A
To celebrate his 30 years of career, the French
accordionist issues nothing less than a double album in a quartet
formula with talented musician friends. Richard Galliano is
accompanied by Sylvain Luc on guitar, Philippe Aerts
on acoustic bass and André Ceccarelli on drums. On New
Jazz Musette, he gives a new lease of life to the Musette, the
old Italian-French style of the early 20th century. He also gives
back its place to the accordion, an instrument often regarded as
outdated. Galliano interprets a selection of 18 of his favorite
compositions in a romantic jazz style for a pleasant atmosphere.
The songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer from
Nova Scotia releases his fourth album with Yes Man, the first
in seven years. Ian Janes proposes a very good mix between rock,
country, folk and soul, with always catchy melodies. The album was
recorded and produced between California, Tennessee, Newfoundland
and home in Dartmouth. He offers several personal compositions, but
also collaborations: Jamie Hartman (Joss Stone,
Natalie Imbruglia, Christina Aguilera), Byron Hill
(Ray Charles, George Strait), Lee Ann and
Daryl Burgess (Irma Thomas, Colin James, Patty
Loveless), as well as Joel Plaskett with whom he co-wrote
the title track. As can be seen with the first single, "Broken
Record", and on several of the nine tracks of the CD, Ian Janes
seems in perfect control of his art. (February
With this 10-song EP, Wyclef Jean offers a
preview of his upcoming album to be released in the summer titled
Carnival III: Road to Clefication. It will be issued just in
time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the classic album
The Carnival. The songwriter, performer, actor and producer
presents 10 varied songs between hip hop, R&B and pop. He can count
on collaborators like Young Thug for the excellent first
single "I Swear", Walk the Moon, T-Baby, Allyson
Casado, Farina and Nutron. The digital version of
the album contains four additional tracks: acoustic versions as well
as his personal version of Jacques Brel’s "Ne me quitte pas".
J’ouvert contains superb moments that are likely to make you
impatient to get your hands on Carnival III.
« I Swear »
Oceanic Jazz Orchestra – All Over the Map
The Winnipeg bassist and his ensemble present an
album of 11 jazz pieces with classical elements. All composed and
produced by Steve Kirby, these timeless pieces were recorded between
Winnipeg and Toronto and mixed in New York City by Brian
Montgomery (Esperanza Spalding, Paul McCartney).
Sound engineer Mark Wilder (Herbie Hancock, Pat
Metheny, Miles Davis), who mastered All Over the Map
in New York City, said he was moved by "this exceptional album on
many levels" and Steve Kirby is "a formidable musician". The sound
is fresh and adventurous, in addition to exploring several musical
styles at one time or another through jazz: folk, rock, hip hop,
baroque, electronic and even French Impressionism. All Over the
Map is certainly an album that makes us travel, both musically
and throughout America.
Head in the Sand
Over the last few years, Montreal's
singer-songwriter, performer and multi-instrumentalist has hit a
His own songs did not suit him anymore in concert and the best time
was when he was playing songs from Ray Charles or Townes
Van Zandt at the end.
Leif Vollebekk decided to organize a secret show in a small bar in
Montreal and to do only covers.
That experience allowed him to change his approach to composition
and let the songs take shape on their own.
the result, which he produced himself.
Most of the 10 tracks of Twin Solitude came to him in one
shot, often in the most unexpected situations.
For example, the contemplative "Michigan" was composed on a
half-tuned guitar, just before going to bed.
"Elegy" came to him while he was riding his bicycle through
Several other songs recall the many hours that Vollebekk has spent
on the road since his youth all over North America.
This is the case for "Big Sky Country", influenced by a trip to
Vancouver when he was young, where he was marked by the great
outdoors of Montana and by the song "The Gift" by Ian Tyson,
which his parents were listening to in a loop.
Twin Solitude is a very good folk album, completely timeless!
Secret City /
In anticipation of the 59th GRAMMY Awards Ceremony
to be held on February 12th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles,
here is the album containing some of the main nominations. One can
hear 21 hits by pop artists like Beyoncé, Sia,
Drake, Adele, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato,
Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson. Country music is
also well represented with Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert,
Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, etc. Lesser-known
artists that made sensation over the past year are also included as
Twenty One Pilots ("Stressed Out"), The Chainsmokers
("Closer") and Lukas Graham ("7 Years"). The album gives a
good overview of the last year in these two musical genres, even if
there are inexplicably several huge hits missing.
Sad Vacation: The Last Days of Sid and Nancy
Here is a new documentary by Danny Garcia
presenting the last days of Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols)
and Nancy Spungen in New York City in 1978. Through the
testimonies of many friends and musicians, we learn a little more
about the personality of these
two lovebirds, considered a mythical couple.
We discover the hotel where everything ended, the famous Chelsea
hotel in Manhattan, an artist landmark for several decades where
drugs and prostitution were constant.
Nancy Spungen, a young American stripper, prostitute and groupie,
was discovered stabbed on the morning of October 12, 1978, while
Sid, her boyfriend of the last two years, was sleeping next door and
was not remembering anything.
immediately arrested and charged.
He was about to be released on bail and died sometime later of an
overdose, without the mystery being resolved.
By the many comments of the speakers, we learn a lot about the
couple, without however coming to a definite conclusion on what
really happened in that room #100 of the Chelsea hotel.
It is still a very interesting documentary, with many images of the
LP – Lost on You
After the excellent
Forever for Now in 2014, the Los
Angeles singer returned with a prominent album at the very end of
2016. Lost on You includes among other things her greatest
radio hit to date with the unforgettable title-song. Laura
Pergolizzi offers several songs with a more pop trend than on
her previous recordings, which may allow her to finally reach a
large audience. Despite everything, she never loses her creative
abilities while she offers us compositions of high quality that have
nothing to envy her past work. She seems to be assuming herself a
little more than before. Here is a very solid record that will
propel LP to superstar title.
« Lost on You »
BMG / Vagrant
Andrea Ramolo is a member of Canadian folk duo
Scarlett Jane and she releases her third solo album. Nuda
finds 10 tracks full of vulnerability and it offers in bonus the
record Da Sola containing the 10 songs of Nuda, but in
acoustic and completely intimate versions. Produced by Michael
Timmins (The Cowboy Junkies), Nuda offers a rich
country folk sound universe to accompany the personal stories of the
singer-songwriter and performer. As for Da Sola, it was
produced by her accomplice Faye Blais. Among the 10 tracks,
the Toronto of Italian origin does her own version of the Italian
As early as with
La boca in 2014, Alejandra Ribera wrote about the various
sources of light. She leaves this time the depths of the
mythological waters to be interested in the depths of the human
heart. She offers us the whole with delicate arrangements based
above all on an intimate atmosphere. One can feel the influences of
Damien Rice, Rufus Wainwright and Fiona Apple.
The brass arrangements were written by Bryden Baird (Feist)
and the mix was entrusted to Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow).
Alejandra produced the album herself, but with the contribution of
engineer L. Stu Young (Prince), she succeeds in giving
the record timeless and classic sounds at the same time. Here is an
extremely soft album, but that is listened perfectly in a particular
The son of legendary hockey player Patrick Roy
found himself at a crossroads in his musical career a few years ago,
before being introduced to Corey Hart. With his new mentor,
Jonathan Roy is now making his international career debut with an
album of nine tracks including several instant hits. One can hear in
particular the blockbusters "Daniella Denmark" and "You're My Ace",
as well as the new single, "Good Things", accompanied by an explicit
video which made greatly talk at its release. With Mr. Optimist
Blues, Jonathan Roy seems to have finally discovered the sound
that suits him best since it is an album that sticks to his skin.
« Daniella Denmark »
« Good Things »
Killer Mike are back with their third album. The super duo of
rappers returns with a prominent record in the genre, a record with
many moments of great creativity in addition to being catchy. It was
not easy to compete with an incomparable sophomore album, but the
duo skillfully succeeded in continuing the work already begun with
14 solid tracks. One might even say that they succeed in surpassing
it. A large-scale production certainly contributes to highlight the
compositions of RTJ3. The duo does not hesitate to denounce
police brutality and social inequalities. Take note of the following
collaborations: Zack de la Rocha (Rage Against the Machine),
Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio) and Kamasi
Washington. While the album seems solid throughout its duration,
it reaches its apotheosis at the very end with the masterpieces
"Thursday in the Danger Room" and "A Report to Your Shareholders /
Kill Your Masters". Here is once again an excellent record from
these outstanding rappers.
Talisco is a French artist who sings in English.
With Capitol Vision, he offers us his second album, which
perfectly illustrates his American journey and his love of Los
Angeles, from the first play, "A Kiss from L.A.". Talisco tells his
adventures, which really happened to him, on unforgettable melodies.
He incorporates elements of rock and electro to futuristic pop music
from the neons of downtown L.A. He also uses old analog synthesizers
to mix a little more the sounds. This is a record full of creativity
that Talisco gives us with Capitol Vision.
USS – New World
The Toronto electro pop duo is back, three years
Advanced Basics. Again, USS proposes a record that is more
like an EP with only eight songs totaling 26 minutes. On the other
hand, we can hear several solid compositions that borrow in
different styles between rock, hip hop and pop. It still lacks some
prominent tracks on New World Alphabet to make it a complete
album that could truly catch attention. So USS does not seem ready
yet to join the mass.