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SEPTEMBER 2017

 

Featured Review:  Kesha    Featured New Artist:  Picture This

 

September 22-30 (more to come):

Hilario Duran - The Souljazz Orchestra

 

September 15-21:

Bruce Cockburn - Jesse Cook - Jean-François Groulx -

The Karpinka Brothers - Emie R. Roussel Trio

 

September 8-14:

Rob Lutes

 

September 1-7:

Jason Bajada - Jean Fernand Girard - Matt Herskowitz Trio

 

August 25-31:

Kim Churchill - The War On Drugs

 

August 18-24:

Cydemind - White Hot Guilt

 

August 11-17:

Foster the People - HAIM - Romeo Santos  

 

August 1-10:

Lana Del Rey - Dua Lipa - Arcade Fire - Coldplay -

The Dears - Jay-Z - French Montana - George Thorogood

 

 

Reviews coming up next month:

Jack Johnson - Shania Twain - Wyclef Jean - Foo Fighters - Jake Bugg - Jack Cooper

and much more...

 

Key for the stars

 

archives:

 

   

       

 

         

         

         

 

       

     

 

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

 Kesha – Rainbow

Kesha – Rainbow

Five years have passed since the second album of the blonde singer, five years during which Kesha mainly put her energy in a legal battle with her former collaborator Dr. Luke whom she initially accused of sexual and emotional abuse. This still tense situation is reflected in many of Rainbow's lyrics. Musically, Kesha is moving towards a more rock, folk and even country sound. She offers several excellent and creative compositions which highlight her vocal capacities. The use of pianos and strings, especially in the title track, adds some richness to the whole and makes it go up to the next level. Kesha also collaborates with surprising artists such as Eagles of Death Metal on 2 tracks, The Dap-Kings Horns and Dolly Parton. Rainbow may not contain instant hits like "TiK ToK", but it is much more interesting than her two previous records.

Music Videos: « Woman » - « Praying » - « Learn To Let Go » - « Rainbow »

Kemosabe / RCA / Sony

½

   

     

 

 

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

 Picture This – Picture This

Picture This Picture This

After the mega hit "Take My Hand" and an EP, the Irish duo Picture This gives us its debut full-length album. You can hear a folk pop sound with some rock moments, but especially completely unforgettable melodies. Moreover, the recent single, "Everything I Need", is already a favorite of commercial radios and risks not to leave you after a few listenings. Ryan Hennessy (voice and guitar) and Jimmy Rainsford (drums) certainly have a winning recipe and an undeniable talent for writing songs with great efficiency.

Music Videos: « Take My Hand » - « Never Change » - « Everything I Need »

Island / Republic / Universal

½

   

 

september 22-30:

 

 Hilario Duran – Contumbao

Hilario Duran – Contumbao

(review to come later)

ALMA / SIX

½

   

 

september 15-21:

 

 Bruce Cockburn – Bone on Bone

Bruce Cockburn – Bone on Bone

The legendary Canadian singer and songwriter is back with his first album in seven years, followed by an impressive tour. Bruce Cockburn will be soon inducted into the Pantheon of Canadian Songwriters and Composers, and he continues to be as relevant with his powerful lyrics and his unique folk rock style. This 33rd album was produced by Colin Linden who succeeded in getting the best of the 72-year old artist. His guitar playing remains remarkable and is at the heart of this extremely interesting record. The 11 tracks include "3 Al Purdys" in honor of Al Purdy who was at the very source of inspiration for this record. With Bone on Bone, Bruce Cockburn seems more solid than ever, in perfect control of his art.

True North / SIX

½

   

 Jesse Cook – Beyond Borders

Jesse Cook – Beyond Borders

Following the success of One World two years ago, the Canadian guitarist and composer returns with a new album. As its title suggests, Jesse Cook explores more than ever world music on Beyond Borders, a real musical journey. There is still this new age background played with mastery on acoustic guitar, but the whole compels a much greater opening to the world with traces of Latin music, Mediterranean music, flamenco, and so on. So, once again, Jesse Cook offers us a very nice album to listen to.

eOne / SIX

½

   

 Jean-François Groulx – Spirale

Jean-François Groulx – Spirale

A versatile musician, pianist and composer Jean-François Groulx returns to a more standard jazz style after exploring world music. Accompanied by double bassist Adrian Vedady and drummer Paul Brochu (UZEB), Groulx offers eight pieces of contemporary jazz with a lively groove. The melodies are catchy, but the whole remains sufficiently refined to satisfy the inveterate jazz fans. Spirale is played magnificently by the trio that seems in perfect cohesion throughout the record.

De l'onde

½

 

 The Karpinka Brothers – Talk is Cheap

The Karpinka Brothers – Talk is Cheap

The folk duo from Saskatoon is back with its fourth album, Talk is Cheap. The 10-piece auto-produced album contains a folk sound that is both light and lively, thanks to an undeniable pop trend reminiscent of the 1960s. The Karpinka Brothers are accompanied by renowned musicians: Mathieu Charbonneau (Timber Timbre) on piano and keyboards, Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) on drums and percussion, Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) on violin, Joel Kerr (Sarah Slean) on bass and Krista Muir on backing vocals. Here is a very good album, very pleasant to listen to!

½

 Emie R. Roussel Trio – Intersections

Emie R. Roussel Trio – Intersections

The trio led by pianist and composer Emie R. Roussel is complemented by bassist Nicolas Bédard and drummer Dominic Cloutier. They have had the opportunity over the past two years to perform in 11 countries on four continents. The trio returns with a fourth album strongly inspired by these many cultural discoveries. The three musicians play a mix of acoustic and electric music, but always with excellent melodies and effective beats. To the seven pieces as a trio are added three pieces specially composed for guests. First, there is Guadeloupian singer Malika Tirolien who lends her voice to the beautiful soul jazz of "Away". Then, we can hear Canadian-New Zealand trumpeter Lex French, met in 2014 in Oceania, on "De Tadoussac à Auckland". Finally, there is Canadian bassist Norman Lachapelle, a major influence for Nicolas Bédard, on the play "Tout le monde ensemble". With Intersections, it is an inspired and inspiring album that the Emie R. Roussel Trio suggests, a highly creative contemporary jazz album.

Effendi / SIX

½

 

september 8-14:

 

 Rob Lutes – Walk in the Dark

Rob Lutes – Walk in the Dark

Toronto's Rob Lutes issues his seventh album with Walk in the Dark. There is still his unique guitar fingering as he offers bluesy folk music somewhere between Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. The album was recorded in Montreal in just three days and it introduces greatly his soulful voice and contagious groove. Lutes co-produced with Rob Heaney (Cirque du Soleil) and was accompanied by renowned musicians: Rob MacDonald (guitar), Bob Stagg (keyboards), Guy Bélanger (harmonica), Joe Grass (guitar), as well as Ian Kelly. Lutes explores various subjects, as well as paying tribute to James Cotton ("There's No Way To Tell You That Tonight") and guitarist Joseph Spence (the instrumental "Spence"). Two tracks were co-written with American Dale Boyle and there is a song by John Prine ("Rocky Mountain Time"). It is a solid album from beginning to end that offers us a Rob Lutes in great shape.

Lucky Bear / SIX

½

 

september 1-7:

 

 Jason Bajada – Loveshit II (Blondie & the Backstabberz)

Jason Bajada – Loveshit II (Blondie & the Backstabberz)

Jason Bajada has always fueled with romantic dramas. On the other hand, in the aftermath of the excellent album Volcano and the radio hit of "Pékin (Les amitiés)", he hit a wall. Heart broken, friendships that collapse and betray have made him slid towards suicidal ideas and a stay in psychiatric hospital. If his album Loveshit in 2009 had allowed him to chase a few demons, what more logical than to release Loveshit II to empty his heart. This is what Bajada does thoroughly on this 20-track double album totaling 74 minutes. Thanks to the production of Philippe Brault who knows how to highlight Bajada's talent as a melodist, the album does not seem too miserable at the end, but rather looking towards the future, filled with hope. Effective pop rock songs alternate with mid-tempo tracks that can recall Morrissey ("The Worst Year of My Life") or The Cure ("Painkiller"). He also offers the poignant acoustic ballad "You Had Me at I'm Gonna Ruin Your Life". Even if Jason Bajada sings generally dark stories, he succeeds in making us keep our good mood, a feat in itself!

Audiogram

½

 Jean Fernand Girard – Jazz Waves

Jean Fernand Girard – Jazz Waves

Pianist, arranger and composer Jean Fernand Girard only releases his second album, although he has worked for more than 30 years alongside artists such as Bob Walsh and Marie-Michèle Desrosiers, as well as acting as producer and music director on television and on stage. He is accompanied for the occasion by renowned musicians, including his old accomplices, Guy Bélanger on the harmonica and Jean Cyr on double bass. Girard offers a pure and free jazz that leaves plenty of room for improvisation, while highlighting the talent of the musicians who seem in perfect control of their instrument. Jazz Waves is a record of more than 50 minutes which remains pleasant to listen until the end.

Bros / SIX

½

 Matt Herskowitz Trio – Forget Me Not: Homage to Lew Soloff

Matt Herskowitz Trio – Forget Me Not: Homage to Lew Soloff

Matt Herskowitz is a world-renowned pianist and composer who was born in the state of New York, but has adopted Montreal for almost 20 years. He is as comfortable in classical as jazz, but it is the later that he explores thoroughly on Forget Me Not, originally released in 2005, but rearranged in homage to the great trumpeter Lew Soloff. The album presents a good mix of styles as jazz integrates contemporary classical, funk, blues and Latin and Brazilian music. There are 10 pieces totaling 66 minutes, some original compositions by Herskowitz, but also Nina Simone’s "Four Women", Henry Mancini’s "Etude on the Days of Wine & Roses", and several other covers played masterfully.

Justin Time / SIX

 

 

august 25-31:

 

 Kim Churchill – Weight_Falls

Kim Churchill – Weight_Falls

Australian Kim Churchill releases his fifth album with Weight_Falls, including the first single, "Second Hand Car". It took him 18 months of writing to come up with this new record following Silence/Win issued in 2014. He was thinking that his songs were too clean, too polished, and he ended up throwing everything and starting over again. So, he wrote a new version of the album in just a week, before taking two months to record it with producer Ian Pritchett in a garage in Sydney. The result is a varied and raw album on which you can still find complex guitars and the effective melodies of Kim Churchill. The surprises are mostly the energetic percussions and the creative vocal harmonies. Churchill offers us a great album, which will surely please his fans. (August 2017)

Cadence / SIX

½

   

 The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

After the surprising Lost in the Dream in 2014, the Philadelphia band is back with its fourth career recording, A Deeper Understanding, which is a logical follower. You can hear a clever mix of indie rock and more corporate rock, with always very effective melodies. The voice of Adam Granduciel has many similarities with that of Bob Dylan, to the point that it is disturbing at times. Despite the accessibility of most of the songs on the record, the group retains some creative freedom on A Deeper Understanding, even going as far as to deliver seven tracks of more than six minutes (out of a total of 10) including one of 11 minutes (the first single, "Thinking of a Place"). It was therefore not a question of offering tailor-made songs for radio stations for Granduciel and his band. The group gains in depth and interest in the slower and introspective songs ("Knocked Down"). The War On Drugs offer us again an excellent album, creative and enjoyable until the end. (August 2017)

Atlantic / Warner

½

   

 

august 18-24:

 

 Cydemind – Erosion

Cydemind Erosion

Cydemind is a progressive metal band from Quebec that has the distinction of being led by the violin rather than the guitar. On the other hand, the guitar riffs remain creative, not to mention a rhythm section that hammers each track vigorously. On Erosion, the band offers only six tracks, but for a total of 64 minutes anyway. It must be said that the title track alone extends over 27 minutes in conclusion of the CD. Produced and mixed by Chris Donaldson, a Montreal specialist in heavy metal, the instrumental album offers a superb blend of progressive rock, jazz and symphonic metal. A great surprise that is pleasant to hear! (August 2017)

½

 White Hot Guilt – White Hot Guilt

White Hot Guilt – White Hot Guilt

White Hot Guilt is a side project by Josh Warburton (July Talk) and Toronto producer Thomas D'Arcy (Small Sins, Tommy Hawkins). They met several years ago and it is their desire to produce together a little more pop music that brought them together. On this five-track EP, the duo offers funky electro pop music in which brass plays an important role in accompanying Warburton's falsetto voice, a set that can remind the Scissor Sisters. But most of all, what is retained throughout the CD is the pleasure that emerges from it, perhaps as a therapy for Warburton who is just coming back from rehabilitation. It is a first very successful impression for this duo which suggests good things in the future. (August 2017)

TDM

½

 

august 11-17:

 

 Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club

Foster the People – Sacred Hearts Club

On its third album, the Los Angeles trio Foster the People offers rather funky pop music. There are also hip hop, new wave or pop passages, somewhat more experimental. The synthesizers are numerous, either influenced by the 1980s, or inspired by contemporary electro music. Despite effective pop melodies, it is felt throughout Sacred Hearts Club that Mark Foster's band had the desire of exploring a little more, pushing its limits. The result is more than interesting with a pleasant record to listen to the end despite frankly cerebral parts. Very successful! (August 2017)

Columbia / Sony

½

   

 HAIM – Something to Tell You

HAIM – Something to Tell You

The three Californian sisters are back with a second album, having conquered a large audience with Days Are Gone four years ago. On Something to Tell You, they seem more at ease than ever in the 1990s-pop genre with influences from Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain and Amy Grant. One can also make obvious comparisons with Wilson Phillips and Fleetwood Mac on numerous occasions. Indeed, this is what will vary in opinions on this album. Some will appreciate their refreshing pop sound with something from another time, and others will consider that their pastiche of yesteryears can be strongly related to copy. In short, the Haim sisters present a good mix of both, with effective pop songs and somewhat too striking similarities to works of the past. They venture a little less on Something to Tell You, but they still remain interesting. (August 2017)

Columbia / Sony

   

 Romeo Santos – Golden

Romeo Santos – Golden

The New Yorker of Dominican origin Romeo Santos has had a phenomenal success in recent years. Still, he resists the temptation to take a pop turn on this third album, as did many of his Latin American compatriots. Santos remains faithful to his origins and presents a new style of bachata accompanied only by keyboards and percussions with discreet guitars. He offers us nothing less than 18 tracks totaling 65 minutes. He is once again accompanied with renowned collaborators, but of Latin origin this time rather than American superstars. We can hear the voices of Juan Luis Guerra, Daddy Yankee, Julio Iglesias, Nicky Jam, Ozuna and Jessie Reyez. With Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam, Santos presents an unmistakable reggaetón in "Bella y Sensual", which seems to be copied on "Debate de 4" from his debut album. The main weakness of the album is the lyrics that always revolve around sex, his status as Casanova, etc. Despite a CD that is a little too long with several comparable songs, we find on Golden a few potential hits that should allow Romeo Santos to remain popular: "Héroe Favorito", "Imitadora", etc. (August 2017)

Music Video: « Imitadora »

Sony

   

 

august 1-10:

 

 Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life

Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life

After a rather annoying album in 2015 with Honeymoon, Lana Del Rey returns with a little more positivism on Lust For Life. On the other hand, the tempo is not necessarily more energetic than on the previous one. After all, she works again with her faithful collaborator, producer Rick Nowels. We can hear several well-known collaborators, including for the singles, "Summer Bummer" (A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti), "Groupie Love" (A$AP Rocky) and the title track (The Weeknd). You can also hear Stevie Nicks on "Beautiful People Beautiful Problems", as well as Sean Ono Lennon on "Tomorrow Never Came". At 72 minutes, the album may seem long, but it is above all an atmospheric album to play in loop in the background of a rather quiet context. Few tracks stand out and many will seem monotonous. If she could concentrate the album around the best compositions, Lana Del Rey would certainly have offered a product of much higher quality. (August 2017 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Lust For Life »

Polydor / Interscope / Universal

   

       

 Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa is a 21-year-old English singer who releases her debut album. The singer-songwriter performs catchy pop songs mostly danceable, but most of all greatly inspired. She has spent crazy time in the studio in recent years to refine her style and issued 6 singles including 3 top 40s in the UK. It is these hits that provide the highlights of the record, including "Hotter Than Hell", "Be the One" and "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)". She also offers a duet with Miguel for "Lost in Your Light". What strikes quickly with Dua Lipa is her unlimited vocal capacities, which are perfectly enhanced by excellent songs. In some passages a little slower, she turns into a soul singer of high level who has nothing to envy to the biggest stars (Adele, Sia, etc.). The album concludes with a beautiful minimalist ballad, "Homesick", written with Chris Martin (Coldplay). It is therefore a first album at the same time surprising and extremely satisfactory that offers us Dua Lipa. This record opens the way on a very beautiful career to follow closely. (August 2017 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Hotter Than Hell » - « Be the One » - « Blow Your Mind (Mwah) » - « Lost in Your Light » - « New Rules »

Warner

½

   

 Arcade Fire – Everything Now

Arcade Fire – Everything Now

For this fifth studio album, Arcade Fire have put a lot of efforts by hiring renowned producers to co-produce with them. First, there are Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk) and Steve Mackey (Pulp), as well as the participation of Geoff Barrow (Portishead) and Marcus Dravs (who previously worked with the Montreal band in the past). As for the guest musicians, there are longtime friends like Owen Pallett and Sarah Neufeld, not forgetting the legendary Daniel Lanois who plays the pedal steel guitar on a few tracks. Musically, the band pursues in a pop direction where electronics dominate largely on guitars. On the other hand, the dark texts contrast these sounds which often seem light. There is only "Infinite Content" that detonates a bit through the whole with a much more aggressive rock garage style in its first part and soft country music in its second. We will find a more direct rock 'n' roll sound at only one other time, on "Good God Damn", while the whole is inspired mostly by disco. Arcade Fire are once again exploring new territories on Everything Now. On the other hand, they always seem to remain in balance between creativity and already heard music. It is an effective album, but it certainly will not change the face of music. (August 2017)

Sony

½

   

 Coldplay – Kaleidoscope EP

Coldplay – Kaleidoscope EP

Even if it is the title of a track from the A Head Full of Dreams album, this new Coldplay EP does not contain the song "Kaleidoscope". It contains five other songs, including the hit "Something Just Like This" in collaboration with the Chainsmokers in a live version identified as Tokyo Remix. There is also a collaboration with Big Sean for "Miracles", not to mention that Brian Eno contributed to the writing of the excellent "ALIEN". Kaleidoscope will surely make you be patient until the next Coldplay album, while surfing on the more pop atmosphere of A Head Full of Dreams. (August 2017)

Parlophone / Warner

½

   

 The Dears – Times Infinity, Volume Two

The Dears – Times Infinity, Volume Two

Two years after the first volume, here is the #2 of Times Infinity for the Montreal band The Dears. It must be said that it was recorded at the same time as the first, but that it is only discovered now. It is therefore natural that volume 2 should continue in the same rather intimate and widely accessible tone. There are great moments of pop music, but also bluesy or R&B incursions that break somewhat the general rhythm of the album. Murray Lightburn steals the show with his voice on this record, while he takes on influences of David Bowie on some occasions. We may find a little less of foreground compositions than on the first of the series, but there is enough humor and cynicism to make volume 2 interesting too. (August 2017)

Dangerbird / Fontana North

½

   

 Jay-Z – 4:44

Jay-Z – 4:44

This thirteenth album by the famous rapper creates a certain break with his past. First, there is only one beatmaker, No I.D., a rare occurrence for Jay-Z. The varied rhythms prove worthy of the reputation of this experienced rapper. You can hear on 4:44 influences of soul, funk and reggae, not to mention electronic programs, all of which adding depth to this short 36-minute album. A certain emotion emerges from the whole record which seems sometimes wanting to go into nostalgia. In the absence of radio hits, one can especially discover perfect pieces for quiet evenings at home. Only two notable appearances on the album: Frank Ocean and Beyoncé (his charming wife). Jay-Z offers a record that is both mature and modern, a record that can please both his long-time fans and the new generation of rap fans. A very good album! (August 2017)

Roc Nation / Universal

½

   

 French Montana – Jungle Rules

French Montana – Jungle Rules

Karim Kharbouch (aka French Montana) is a rapper born in Morocco who lives in Bronx. He releases his second official album containing nothing less than 18 tracks. We can hear a wide range of collaborators, from Pharrell to Travis Scott through Swae Lee, The Weeknd, Future, T.I., Young Thug, etc. French Montana explores in a way all the aspects of hip hop, going through almost all the clichés surrounding that way of life. A name comes back to mind all along the record: Drake. Several songs seem to be too much inspired by him to remain original. Jungle Rules suffers from some stretching in length with more than 64 minutes and several tracks that bring nothing new to the genre. Some moments will seem interesting, but unfortunately too little. (August 2017)

Bad Boy / Epic / Sony

½

   

 George Thorogood – Party of One

George Thorogood Party of One

After four decades with his Destroyers, singer and guitarist George Thorogood issues his very first solo album. He offers acoustic versions, completely stripped, of classic blues, as well as some songs of contemporary blues. It features a unique version of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", Hank Williams’ "Pictures From Life's Other Side", and the Rolling Stones’ "No Expectations". The CD version also contains a 15th song in bonus, Robert Johnson’s "Dynaflow Blues". On this album where he plays all instruments, George Thorogood demonstrates more than ever his talent as a blues musician, proof that all that time he did not need the artifices of the Destroyers. (August 2017)

Rounder / Universal

   

 

july:

 

 Katy Perry – Witness

Katy Perry – Witness

On Prism four years ago, Katy Perry reached a certain maturity with a little more adult music, except for the dance song "Dark Horse". It is on that song that Katy decided to build for Witness which is much more club-oriented with energetic electro music. Electronic beats and synthesizers dominate completely here. But it is not always successful, on the contrary! The only track that provides a minimum of excitement is the hit "Chained to the Rhythm", with perhaps also "Pendulum". Otherwise, we can hear frankly boring songs, including two useless ballads, the worst being by far "Bigger Than Me". Katy talks about social topics that might be interesting, but on music so tasteless that you no longer want to listen to the end. Witness is a weird album and would have been more relevant early in her career, when Katy Perry lacked confidence. (July 2017 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Chained to the Rhythm » - « Bon Appétit »

Capitol / Universal

   

       

 Nick Hakim – Green Twins

Nick Hakim – Green Twins

Nick Hakim arrives from Washington, DC with a rather underground R&B style. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist offers somewhat psychedelic aerial music with a soft voice, atmospheric music on which one can be rocked when playing in the background. However, to truly discover all the subtleties on Green Twins, some effort is needed. The album proposes more depth than the two EPs previously issued and which allowed Hakim to be recognized. We discover the true face and all the artistic possibilities of Nick Hakim on Green Twins, an album that will surely bring him recognition, although popular success will be difficult to acquire with music of such consistency. (July 2017 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Roller Skates »

ATO

½

   

 All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

All Time Low – Last Young Renegade

Baltimore's pop punk band has released new albums with great consistency for 10 years. All Time Low are already having their seventh record with Last Young Renegade, following the acclaimed Future Hearts released two years ago, the last for Hopeless Records. This new recording also introduces a change of orientation for the band that becomes much more pop than rock with synthesizers and dancing rhythms. There are some hints of the past, but this is clearly not what dominates here. The whole is still intense and emotional, which may appeal to their first audience, if they are ready to follow them in a new way that reminds OneRepublic on several occasions. Note the presence of Tegan and Sara for the very effective "Ground Control". In conclusion, despite their pop turn, All Time Low have enough interesting tracks to attract a large audience. (July 2017)

Fueled by Ramen / Warner

   

 Chuck Berry – Chuck

Chuck Berry – Chuck

60 years ago, Chuck Berry was one of the precursors of rock 'n' roll by releasing his debut album. Released three months after his death at the age of 90, Chuck is his first record of original songs in 38 years and he would certainly have liked to be still there to present it to the public. For more than 20 years in the 1980s and 1990s he had lost interest in writing new songs, a desire that was revived later in the years 2000. This new album is therefore the fruit of several years of work and it presents a legendary artist with still powerful voice. What we realize quickly on "Wonderful Woman" and "Big Boys" is that he had not lost any energy with the guitar in his hand, for Chuck Berry as we knew him well. He later slows down the rhythm on a few songs, but the beats return at different moments of the 10-song CD, of which "Lady B. Goode", a nod to his greatest hit. He also presents one of his finest poems set in song with "Dutchman". With Chuck, this rock 'n' roll legend proves that he could still compete with any artist of today. A surprising and extremely pleasant album to listen to, which loops magnificently an incomparable career! (July 2017)

Dualtone / eOne

½

   

 Benjamin Booker – Witness

Benjamin Booker – Witness

Benjamin Booker is a singer and songwriter from Virginia who plays a mix of blues and somewhat dirty rock, certainly inspired by the garage blues sound of the White Stripes, Black Keys and company. However, despite his hoarse voice, he has melodies a little more pop with soul and folk tendencies. On this second album, he is more politically and socially involved, following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. This mix of committed and personal songs, accompanied by rich and varied music, results in a complete album that is extremely pleasant to listen to, his most accomplished work to date. A very nice surprise! (July 2017)

ATO

½

   

 Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright!

Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright!

Cheap Trick have experienced an unexpected success with their album of last year Bang, Zoom, Crazy... Hello. So, it's probably what motivated them to come back with a new album just over a year later. We're All Alright! takes again the most interesting of the previous one, while going a little further with an energetic rock sound worthy of their best years, with as bonus a real pleasure quite contagious. In fact, their sound is a little more rock than in the late 1970s and 1980s when the band was inspired a little more by the Beatles. On We're All Alright!, they put more forward their hard rock side with energy based on the rhythm section. This is an extremely enjoyable album that offer us Cheap Trick, a perfect album to accompany your road trips throughout the summer. (July 2017)

Big Machine / Universal

½

   

 DragonForce – Reaching Into Infinity (CD + DVD)

DragonForce – Reaching Into Infinity (CD + DVD)

The masters of power metal are back with a new faster than lightning album, despite its 70 minutes. On this seventh album, DragonForce welcome a new drummer in Gee Anzalone. They present music that is still as fast and heavy with perfect execution, but harmonies and melodies seem more accessible than ever. Will they reach the top of the charts while continuing to demonstrate all their virtuosity? Reaching into Infinity has everything needed to please a large audience, if you are not too stunned by the infernal rhythm section and the prowess of guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li, perhaps the best duo of guitarists these days. Note that the band pays tribute to Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" with the 11-minute "Edge of the World" song. They also offer two bonus tracks ("Hatred and Revenge" and "Evil Dead"), as well as a DVD containing songs recorded in concert at the Woodstock Festival in Poland in 2016. With Reaching into Infinity, it is easy to say that DragonForce offer their strongest album in 10 years, since the unmistakable Ultra Beatdown in 2008. (July 2017)

Electric Generation / Cadence

   

 Headstones – Little Army

Headstones – Little Army

The Kingston, Ontario group has been around for 30 years. On this seventh album, Hugh Dillon and his band again offer this mix of accessible rock close to Tragically Hip and hard rock as AC / DC, with obvious influences on several occasions from the Rolling Stones. An effective rhythm section will surely make you stomp your feet for several songs. The guitar remains also greatly effective with quality riffs. Despite great entertainment, the Headstones remain often a predictable band. (July 2017)

Cadence

   

 Imagine Dragons – Evolve

Imagine Dragons – Evolve

The Las Vegas rock band is definitely evolving on their third album. There are still some dark sides a little heavy, but the group seems to try to remain more joyful than in the past. Evolve contains much more pop songs with the almost excessive use of synthesizers, starting with the disco "I Don’t Know Why". At times, Imagine Dragons seem to want to imitate Coldplay without the same success in their turning to pop, with in addition strong influences from the 1980s. There are still some interesting electro rock songs, but too little to solidify this much too disparate album. Even the mega hit "Believer", which has invaded radios, becomes somewhat tiresome over time. Evolve is a frustrating album at the end of the day, because we would like to love it but we cannot. It seems we’re dealing with a band a little bit lost. (July 2017)

Music Video: « Believer »

Interscope / Universal

½

   

 Lady Antebellum – Heart Break

Lady Antebellum – Heart Break

After 747 in 2014, the country pop trio took a break, the time of solo albums by Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott. Lady Antebellum now return with Heart Break, produced in California by Busbee. The result is a slightly softer rock and less country sound. Several mid-tempo tracks were inspired either from the 1960s and 1970s or from adult contemporary music. Several melodies are captivating enough to achieve some radio success. On the other hand, there are many interchangeable songs that are not very exciting. (July 2017)

Music Video: « You Look Good »

Capitol / Universal

½

   

 Lorde – Melodrama

Lorde – Melodrama

After a debut album that got much attention in 2013, the young New Zealander, now 20 years old, is back with Melodrama. If Pure Heroine already had some creativity for this young singer-songwriter, Lorde really takes off with this one. We can also have a very good overview with the first singles: "Green Light", "Liability" and "Perfect Places". To change her sound, Lorde gave production to Jack Antonoff (Fun) and Bleachers. The result is a more mature record, but above all more elaborate and creative than the previous one. We can hear several textures, between interiority and catchy rhythms. But no matter the context of the song, Lorde succeeds in captivating us and carrying us to the end, when you would ask for even more. 41 minutes are certainly not enough for this excellent album, surely one of the best of the year... (July 2017)

Music Video: « Green Light »

Universal

   

 Madison Violet – The Knight Sessions

Madison Violet The Knight Sessions

Toronto's folk pop duo releases its fourth studio album with The Knight Sessions. Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac (Ashley MacIsaac's sister) possibly offer their most mature album so far with several successful songs. The vocal harmonies remain at the very core of their music, and the simple arrangements of acoustic guitar or violin only enhance them without ever stealing the show. You will not be able to stop yourself from continuously humming some of the unforgettable melodies of this new record of high quality. (July 2017)

Passenger Sounds / Cadence

½

   

 Quatuor Ébène & Michel Portal – Eternal Stories

Quatuor Ébène & Michel Portal – Eternal Stories

Quatuor Ébène (Ebony Quartet) is easily transformed between a classical ensemble and a jazz band. In the case of Eternal Stories, the string quartet joins jazz musician Michel Portal on clarinets, but also percussionist Richard Héry and keyboardist Xavier Tribolet. They perform their own compositions, including four Portal tracks. The highlight of the album is when they play extracts from the "Five Tango Sensations", a late work by Astor Piazzolla. Quatuor Ébène remains inventive on this new album and it maybe also allows Michel Portal to realize a dream, that of producing an album with a string quartet, as Charlie Parker did in 1949. (July 2017)

Erato / Warner / SIX

½

   

 Paul Rossy – Jazz Poetry: The Music of Paul Rossy

Paul Rossy – Jazz Poetry: The Music of Paul Rossy

Dr. Paul Rossy is a pediatrician during the day and a singer-songwriter at night. In April, he released his first album of original songs in collaboration with Ian Kelly, Goodbye Sings the Wind, to support the Montreal Children's Hospital. Following his participation at the Montreal International Jazz Festival last year, Dr. Rossy was inspired and wanted to give a jazz color to his songs. He again entrusted the production to Ian Kelly for Jazz Poetry which contains a reinterpretation in jazz version of the songs of Goodbye Sings the Wind. Profits will again be donated to the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation. (July 2017)

Sunset Hill / Outside

½

 Slow Dancer – In a Mood

Slow Dancer – In a Mood

Simon Okely is a multi-instrumentalist from Melbourne, Australia. After being a member of the Oh Mercy band as a guitarist, he decided to embark on a solo career under the pseudonym Slow Dancer. In a Mood is his sophomore album on which he offers a mix of folk and soft rock with a touch of soul / R&B. In fact, he reminds us of a contemporary mix between Christopher Cross and Van Morrison. Slow Dancer plays all the instruments in addition to singing from his powerful voice, making it softer and warm for the needs of this record that is perfect for the bedroom. He does not reinvent anything and seems rather nostalgic of the past, but he nevertheless plays pleasant to listen music, a sound that comforts us. (July 2017)

ATO

   

 Styx – The Mission

Styx – The Mission

After more than 45 years of career, the old progressive rockers return with a first album of original songs in 14 years. The Mission is a concept album about a mission to Mars in 2033. As for the sound, it has nothing futuristic as the band returns to the sound that made them successful back in the late 1970s. Otherwise, we quickly realize that this is where Styx feels the most comfortable with several good energetic tracks worthy of their best years. It is rather refreshing to hear the band resume where they left over 35 years ago. The Mission is therefore a surprising album, very pleasant to listen to. (July 2017)

Universal

   

 Tanzania Albinism Collective – White African Power

Tanzania Albinism Collective – White African Power

In 2016, producer Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Tasili), who is behind the projects of the Zomba Prison Project, traveled to Ukerewe, the largest inland island in Africa, accessible only by a ferry, a four-hour trip. It is so isolated that people were going there to abandon their albino children. The island has become a haven for people in this condition. Brennan organized composition workshops, encouraging people to express their experiences and feelings. The singing and dancing being rather badly seen on the island, Brennan must have been convincing to allow the group to open itself. Often ignored and left out even by their own family, it is not surprising that albinos have expressed themselves mostly on the themes of loneliness and abandonment. Most of the songs on the album have been written in Kikirewe and Jeeta, two officially censored dialects of the country since its unification in 1964. Like the Zomba Prison Project, Brennan allows a group not heard until then to express freely. The result is a touching album of 23 tracks (somewhat uneven) for just over 30 minutes. (July 2017)

Six Degrees / SIX

   

 Whitehorse – Panther in the Dollhouse

Whitehorse – Panther in the Dollhouse

The Quebec duo formed of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland is back with a new album, only two years after Leave No Bridge Unburned. Less autobiographical than the previous one, Panther in the Dollhouse presents rather dark and imperfect characters in a more cinematic context. With the addition of the duo of producers Likeminds and several musicians, the sound of the band also takes some expansion towards rock, leaving in the past their little country side that was never far before. We can certainly say that Whitehorse are reaching a new stage in their career thanks to this excellent record. (July 2017)

Music Videos: « Boys Like You » - « Nighthawks »

Six Shooter / SIX

½

   

 

june:

 

 Linkin Park – One More Light

Linkin Park – One More Light

While Linkin Park seemed to have somewhat creatively found itself back in 2014 with The Hunting Party, now they are getting bogged down again with a more than dubious pop turn. Metal is indeed completely absent here, as are the interesting riffs, and forget the screams of Chester Bennington which gave so much energy to their first recordings. We now have a pop rock sound tinged with electro, but mostly frankly lacking in character and dynamism. There are some interesting moments, tailor-made for radios, but they are way too rare. Even the first single, "Heavy", does not push down any barrier despite its interesting melody. One More Light is an album that will surely leave the fans of the first hour indifferent, without allowing the band to get a new audience. (June 2017 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Heavy »

Warner

   

         

 Scott Helman – Hôtel de Ville

Scott Helman Hôtel de Ville

Scott Helman is a young pop rock singer from Toronto who offers his debut album with Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). More rock than Justin Bieber, Helman presents mostly much more creative music, bringing him immediately into a class apart. But it remains that each melody is unforgettable and made perfectly for radios. It's simple, the 12 tracks on Hôtel de Ville could be at the top of the charts. Since his first EP in 2014, Augusta, the 21-year old guy has not stopped working his sound, going on tour around the world. It is very easy to hear it listening to Hôtel de Ville, which has very few weaknesses. For quality pop music, Scott Helman is definitely a name to remember. (June 2017 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Kinda Complicated »

Warner

½

   

 Aliocha – Eleven Songs

Aliocha – Eleven Songs

The young Aliocha is a natural, self-taught, inspired by Bob Dylan, Eliott Smith, John Lennon and Nick Drake, while bringing his personal touch, full of imperfections. While traveling between Montreal, Paris and Los Angeles, he could trace his path, especially when he met brilliant producer Samy Osta (La Femme, Feu! Chatterton) in Paris. After releasing the Sorry Eyes EP in France in the fall of 2016, he is back with an album released simultaneously in Europe and Canada. Aliocha proposes a folk sound inspired by both contemporary folk rock and the music of the 1960s. Some pop or more psychedelic touches add color to an album that ultimately has a lot of personality. A very good record! (June 2017)

Audiogram

½

 Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song

Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song

Dan Auerbach is mostly known for his work with The Black Keys, in a garage blues style, and he has also produced several albums in different genres: Pretenders, Lana Del Rey, Cage the Elephant, JEFF the Brotherhood, Dr. John and so on. For this solo album, Auerbach goes in a complete different way, exploring old Memphis soul and Nashville country. He often recalls Jeff Lynne in the 1980s, in the days of the Traveling Wilburys, a style he particularly liked. The album contains only 10 songs totaling 35 minutes, but they are simply refreshing, in addition to being greatly creative. So here is a very high quality entertainment, which is missing only two or three tracks to make the difference and carry the album to the top of 2017. (June 2017)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

   

 Blondie – Pollinator

Blondie – Pollinator

After six years of absence on record, Debbie Harry and her band are back with a new album, Pollinator. On the other hand, it seems that since their return in the years 2000 Blondie try more than ever to recall their glorious past while clinging to more contemporary electro pop music. Where they were rather successful on their previous albums, here it sounds downright false. It is not the panoply of songwriters and guest musicians who would make Pollinator as interesting as their albums of 40 years ago. Neither their covers of Johnny Marr ("My Monster") and Charli XCX ("Gravity"). At the end of the day, it's hard to understand who Blondie is talking to with this album, as both fans of their debut and a younger audience should pay no attention to it. (June 2017)

½

   

 Faith Evans and The Notorious B.I.G. – The King & I

Faith Evans and The Notorious B.I.G. – The King & I

Although it is announced as an album by Faith Evans and The Notorious B.I.G., The King & I is much more an album by Faith Evans, mostly R&B, with samplings by the late rapper. In fact, it presents itself as a souvenir album about the duo's relationship. Several of the samplings have already been heard often and their use is not always judicious, even being negative for several of the 25 tracks. We can hear several guest artists (Jamal Woolard, Lil 'Cease, Mama Wallace, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Kim, etc.), but it is not enough to restore credibility to the whole. With 72 minutes of music, The King & I contains far too many uninteresting moments to satisfy even the biggest nostalgic fans of The Notorious B.I.G. (June 2017)

Rhino / Warner

   

 Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

After a long break of six years, the band from Seattle is back with an album of great complexity. Indeed, Fleet Foxes still offer this mix of indie rock, folk and country, but they add a touch of progressive rock that can recall the beginnings of Yes. Crack-Up is definitely their most dense, cerebral, complex and difficult album to date. On the other hand, it quickly turns out to be very rewarding. The vocal harmonies remain the strength of the band, and from this point of view they can recall the most psychedelic moments of the Beach Boys. As if to confirm the group's sophisticated artistic approach, they chose to release as a first single a 9-minute song in two parts, "Third of May / Odaigahara". Sometimes orchestral and sometimes experimental, Crack-Up will leave no one indifferent, representing a great challenge to the first listening. On the other hand, with a little patience, you will discover several layers and musical subtleties all more interesting than the others. Fleet Foxes therefore offer a very creative album, which requires only a little effort of appreciation. (June 2017)

Nonesuch / Warner

½

   

 King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Murder of the Universe

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Murder of the Universe

For their second album of the year, the Australian collective goes into science fiction with energetic progressive rock filled with synthesizers and robotic voices. Murder of the Universe is divided into three chapters, each telling a part of humanity that is pushed to extinction in a futuristic world dominated by machines. Several passages recall the Judas Priest of the late 1980s, without the endless guitar solos. In the third chapter, the very graphic descriptions of vomiting cyborgs and the murder of the universe may shock some sensitive ears. But in fact, few really interesting moments come out and one wonders if it was really necessary to go that far. Several pieces on the album offer the expected entertainment, but lack some creativity, staying often predictable. Murder of the Universe is certainly their weakest album among the last three. On the other hand, they announced five albums in 2017, which means that they will have three more to get better creatively. To be continued… (June 2017)

ATO

½

   

 Taylor Knox – LOVE

Taylor Knox – LOVE

For this first album, the singer and songwriter from Toronto comes to us with a pop sound accompanied by scratching electric guitars. Taylor Knox reminds us greatly of the pop rock sounds of the 1970s, but also of contemporaries like Teenage Fanclub and Tame Impala. LOVE begins strongly with the energetic and effective songs "Wishing Well" and "The Stars". Several tracks will then keep your interest and make you want to hear more. Several elements of this first record deserve special attention to this artist in the future. (June 2017)

Cadence

 

 Diana Krall – Turn Up the Quiet

Diana Krall Turn Up the Quiet

The Canadian singer and pianist is back with a new album of jazz standards, after revisiting pop rock classics on Wallflower in 2015. Diana Krall became more involved than ever before as she chose each song, conceived the arrangements and gathered three separate bands to record the 11 tracks. Whether in a trio, a quartet or a quintet version, each song is interpreted smoothly, with a good dose of romanticism. You can hear several standards of the genre such as "Moonglow", "Blue Skies", "Sway", "Dream", as well as the first single, "Night and Day", a Cole Porter classic. Turn Up the Quiet is a very good late night record by this great jazz lady. (June 2017)

Verve / Universal

½

   

 Shai Maestro Trio – The Stone Skipper

Shai Maestro Trio – The Stone Skipper

Accompanied by Jorge Roeder and Ziv Ravitz, Israeli pianist Shai Maestro offers us a jazz album of great power with The Stone Skipper. This is the fourth album of the trio since their debut in 2011. The fluidity of the three musicians is incomparable and they seem to be one (the trio takes its full meaning). Maestro pushes the boundaries of jazz by integrating a few electronic elements and voices coming from nowhere to blend perfectly with his music. The 15-song album presents itself as a storyline, and each musician has put himself at the service of the storyline avoiding to lose themselves in virtuosity. Even Maestro could fade at the piano on several occasions to let the work breathe in its deployment. This is undoubtedly the most personal album of the trio to date, with several meditative moments. To discover! (June 2017)

SIX

½

 Meklit – When the People Move, the Music Moves Too

Meklit – When the People Move, the Music Moves Too

Meklit is a Californian of Ethiopian origin who offers a fusion of world music and jazz. On this new album, she merges even more the genres in an energetic and particularly creative ensemble. Produced by singer / songwriter Dan Wilson (Adele, John Legend), the record carries us in all kinds of atmospheres with rich arrangements incorporating violins, keyboards, brass, clarinets, etc. Despite the musical richness, Meklit's powerful soulful voice emerges very well through the whole. The godfather of Ethio-Jazz, Mulatu Astatke, contributed to this album when he told Meklit in 2011: "Find your contribution to ethio-jazz and keep innovating!". The result is a festive album that integrates both Ethiopian and American cultures. Among the musicians who participated in the recording are Andrew Bird and Preservation Hall Horns. An incomparable record to discover! (June 2017)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

   

 Jowee Omicil – Let’s Bash!

Jowee Omicil – Let’s Bash!

Montreal-born with Haitian background Jowee Omicil offers an incomparable musical mix. Jazz is obviously at the heart of the work of this trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, but there are also Caribbean, African, Latin or gospel accents. The arranger, composer and producer now established in Paris releases his new album, his first international record, on which he intends to celebrate. He is accompanied for the occasion by musicians of great talent from about anywhere around the world. Omicil winks at Aznavour, Tinariwen and Jay-Z. He even crosses the "Bridge of Avignon" ("Le pont d’Avignon") in afro-pop, in addition to presenting sounds close to Indian music. In fact, it is a constant journey that we do in the company of Jowee Omicil who really goes in all directions, maybe even a little too much we can say after a while. He succeeds at least in putting everything in his own style, in making it a personal work. So, it's all to his credit! (June 2017)

Jazz Village / PIAS / SIX

½

   

 Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal & Christine Jensen – Under the Influence Suite

Orchestre national de jazz de Montréal & Christine Jensen – Under the Influence Suite

The Under the Influence suite is a 2015 order from the Montreal National Jazz Orchestra to saxophonist, composer and conductor Christine Jensen. There are five parts by renowned composers such as Kenny Wheeler, Jan Jarczyk, John Coltrane, Lee Konitz and Wayne Shorter. Sienna Dahlen's soft voice accompanies the orchestra magnificently. Founded in 2012, the Montreal National Jazz Orchestra has about twenty musicians and is already considered world-class. As for Christine Jensen, the Montrealer is part of the jazz elite in Canada. (June 2017)

Justin Time / SIX

½

   

 Paramore – After Laughter

Paramore – After Laughter

Four years after their excellent self-titled album, Paramore are back with After Laughter. Singer Hayley Williams seems to have problems retaining her colleagues, while bassist Jeremy Davis left the band for the second time. Paramore seem more and more centered around their singer, the only one to have been a member of the band for their five albums. In addition, it seems that the music of the group follows more and more the pop inspiration of Hayley. After Laughter contains several contagious melodies and the alternative rock elements that could remain previously now seem from the past. Their new wave sound, which seems joyful at first, rather presents an incessant struggle against break-ups. But this is nothing surprising since the band's departures remain their main inspiration since their debut 12 years ago. After Laughter is still a very pleasant album to listen to. (June 2017)

Music Videos: « Hard Times » - « Told You So »

Fueled by Ramen / Warner

½

   

 Ariel Pocock – Living in Twilight

Ariel Pocock – Living in Twilight

The young pianist, singer and songwriter returns with a new album entitled Living in Twilight, from the Weepies song that she plays beautifully. The album contains a mix of classics from the American songbook, amazing contemporary covers and original compositions. Among the classics, there are Ray Nobles’ "The Very Thought of You", Cole Porter’s "So In Love" and Chick Corea’s "500 Miles High". Her interpretations of contemporary songs include the surprising "Someone Like You" (Adele), "To Be Alone With You" (Sufjan Stevens) in an instrumental version, as well as the touching "Go Leave" (Kate McGarrigle). Some influences are particularly evident throughout the CD, including traces of Cuban and Brazilian music. Ariel Pocock offers varied jazz music, a soft but rich sound. She will be visiting Quebec in early July for three concerts. (June 2017)

Justin Time / SIX

½

   

 Portugal. The Man – Woodstock

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock

For this eighth album, and the first in four years, the indie rock band took all their time, recording enough material for a double album, then starting all over again. They worked again with producer Mike D, but also with Danger Mouse and John Hill. They were accompanied by about twenty musicians and nine engineers, perhaps to recreate the collegiality of Woodstock which was their first influence for the record. There is a mix of indie rock and glam, but this is mainly their most pop album to date. Just listen to their hit "Feel It Still" to be convinced, a short song of less than three minutes that reminds Pharrell Williams. We hear some interesting elements on Woodstock, but unfortunately it is not the band that we knew, as if they were lost a bit. It has anyway a good commercial potential... (June 2017)

Music Videos: « Feel It Still » - « Rich Friends »

Atlantic / Warner

   

 Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

Three years after its debut album, the British duo is back with another hard-hitting record. A little less heavy than the previous one, How Did We Get So Dark still presents elements comparable to the White Stripes in a dirty garage style. Fuzzy guitars and a few keyboards are added to the sound of the band that is growing. The melodies are unforgettable, on always energetic and catchy music which will surely make you stomp your feet. In short, even if it lasts only 34 minutes, it is a very satisfactory album that give us the guys of Royal Blood. (June 2017)

Music Videos: « Lights Out » - « Hook, Line & Sinker » - « I Only Lie When I Love You »

Warner

½

 

 Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory

The young Californian rapper is back with his second full-length album, two years after a shattering debut. For Big Fish Theory, Vince Staples can count on a great group of guests: Bon Iver, Damon Albarn, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, Juicy J, Kilo Kish, and so on. Staples is still pushing back some rap boundaries by using electronics in a great way. The arrangements are superb and will often test your speakers with a bass that takes on to the guts. Staples plays admirably with the musicality of his songs, which often pushes his voice delivery and his lyrics to the background. Big Fish Theory is an extremely interesting album if you enjoy more musical than spoken hip hop. Without matching the creative qualities of his first album, here is again a record of foreground for this rapper of the new generation. (June 2017)

Music Videos: « Big Fish » - « Rain Come Down »

Def Jam / Universal

½

   

 

may:

 

 Sheryl Crow – Be Myself

Sheryl Crow – Be Myself

After an unsuccessful intrusion in country music in 2013 on Feels Like Home, Sheryl Crow takes a drastic turn with Be Myself and returns to the pop rock style that made her popular in the 1990s. She works again with directors Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, who were behind the successes of her 1996 eponymous album and The Globe Sessions in 1998. Several rhythms remind us of those years that were fruitful for the singer. "Roller Skate" reminds us of "All I Want To Do" and "Strangers Again" is not without reminding us "It It Makes You Happy." Sheryl seems particularly happy to be immersed in this style which not only made her famous, but which allowed her to reach her creative peak. Obviously, the freshness of the era is not quite there 20 years later. But the sunny and pleasant songs to listen will allow us to rediscover the artist who was so seducing in her early days. Be Myself turns out to be a more than honest album, on which Sheryl Crow is faithful to herself. (May 2017 Featured Review)

Warner

½

   

     

 Wilsen – I Go Missing in My Sleep

Wilsen – I Go Missing in My Sleep

Wilsen is a trio from Brooklyn, New York led by singer-songwriter Tamsin Wilson. They stood out on the independent scene in 2013, and after two EPs, they finally arrive with a first full-length. The singles "Garden" and "Centipede" have previously enjoyed great success on the digital music platforms (2.7 million listens on Spotify for "Garden"). The music of the band, rather introspective and enveloping, remains largely dominated by the voice of Tamsin who captivates us from the first listening. Here is an album of great musical richness that will create a dream atmosphere in your home. (May 2017 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Garden » - « Centipede »

Secret City / SIX

½

   

 Afrikana Soul Sister – Afrikana Soul Sister

Afrikana Soul Sister Afrikana Soul Sister

Twelve years ago, bassist, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jean-François Lemieux had the idea to merge Western techno music and traditional African music. So here is finally Afrikana Soul Sister, an ingenious hybrid between two universes that would not have met otherwise. On the other hand, from the opening song and first single, "Mayébo", this fusion seems natural. For this first album, Lemieux has assembled creators from all horizons such as Joanie Labelle, Djely Tapa, Mélissa Lavergne, Sylphir Soulay, Kattam Tam, Sarah Lachbar, Dramen Koré, Élage Diouf and many others. It is a very nice album which is offered to us, with incessant contagious rhythms. (May 2017)

Audiogram

½

 Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

After a release date postponed a few times, here is finally the 13th album by R&B singer Mary J. Blige. The album is powered by the first single, "Love Yourself", featuring Kanye West. DJ Khaled, Missy Elliot and Quavo collaborate on "Glow Up", as well as Prince Charlez and Kaytranada a little later on the record. All in voice, the singer proves again that she can reign at the top of R&B, despite a fierce competition. There are some less interesting songs, but it is still a leading R&B album with flawless production. (May 2017)

Capitol / Universal

   

 David Bontemps – Gede Nibo

David Bontemps – Gede Nibo

Haitian of origin and Montrealer of adoption, David Bontemps alternates between his careers as classical pianist, composer and leader of the creole jazz quintet Makaya. On this second album as a pianist, he proposes 12 variations on the carnival theme Gede Nibo by composer Ludovic Lamothe, named after a Haitian voodoo divinity and which dates from 1934, the year of the end of the American occupation of Haiti. These declinations of Gede Nibo by David Bontemps represent great technical challenges. The album concludes with the play "ANKH", composed by Bontemps in 2010 after the earthquake that ravaged Haiti. It is played only with the left hand. The album lasts only 34 minutes, but it is of great intensity, in addition to demonstrating all the talent of the pianist. (May 2017)

½

   

 Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic

Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic

Since the success of The Spirit Room in 2001, the singer from Arizona produced only one solo album (in 2003) and a country EP (in 2010). It is therefore normal that there is a kind of effervescence at the release of a new album by Michelle Branch. The first feeling with Hopeless Romantic is that it is a new start for the one who had contractual problems with her record company and who has been divorced in recent years. We feel little nostalgia, but rather a desire to look to the future. Her adult pop style takes a somewhat electro-pop turn on this new album well anchored in its era. Michelle Branch has a very pleasant album to listen to, with potential hits in bonus. (May 2017)

Music Videos: « Hopeless Romantic » - « Best You Ever »

Verve / Universal

½

   

 Zac Brown Band – Welcome Home

Zac Brown Band – Welcome Home

On their new album, the Zac Brown Band gets closer to the style of their debut, with a mix between traditional and contemporary country. This return to their roots is revealed both in the title and in the first three songs: "Roots", "Real Thing" and "Long Haul". We can hear this rather soft sound that brings us back to the 1970s. At the same time, the band drops their music explorations of the last years to return to a certain comfort, which will either have the same effect on their fans or more likely, make them feel that the band stays in place rather than moving forward. And it must be confessed, it becomes frankly annoying to be pounded that they make a return to their roots... For the nostalgic fans of their debut only. (May 2017)

Elektra / Warner

½

 

 The Chainsmokers – Memories… Do Not Open

The Chainsmokers – Memories… Do Not Open

The New York duo has attracted attention over the past year with several major radio hits, as well as their collaboration with Coldplay for "Something Just Like This". The Chainsmokers offer a rather simple electro-dance style, based above all on rhythm, without great subtleties. In fact, most of their songs present little interest, even from a dance floor perspective, due to many changes in beats. Only the radios remain to adhere to their music and again, their lack of substance does not keep interest for long. There are some entertaining moments on Memories, but they are very short. The Chainsmokers have no choice but to rely on Coldplay to propel their album. They should realize that it is better for them to launch a music video when they hold something effective rather than producing a full-length album. (May 2017)

Music Video: « Paris »

   

 Deep Purple – InFinite

Deep Purple – InFinite

At the dawn of their 50 years of career, Deep Purple's veterans have been overwhelmed by the desire to present new material, four years after their latest studio album, Now What?!, which has had an unexpected success in Europe. Heavier and longer than its predecessor (with 66 minutes), InFinite has on the other hand a few lengths being a little less constant. Ian Gillan remains as solid behind the microphone and he is greatly accompanied by the rhythm section and organ typical to the sound of Deep Purple, again produced by faithful collaborator Bob Ezrin. You will not be too disoriented by the still recognizable sound of one of the bands that founded hard rock. There is in fact only the futuristic-style voice of the first song, "Time for Bedlam", which does not fit well with the whole (record and career). Otherwise, it is still this mix of classic metal and progressive rock that made their celebrity. Also, note their cover of The Doors’ "Roadhouse Blues". The fans of the band should still appreciate. (May 2017)

 

 Gorillaz – Humanz

Gorillaz – Humanz

The virtual band led by Damon Albarn is back on record after seven years of hiatus. Albarn leaves room for his collaborators, which gives an album a little more divided by parts rather than a complete work. But it is not so negative considering the quality of the compositions integrating alternative rock, electro and hip hop. In addition, there are some recurring themes with even some subtle political allusions to Trump and the Brexit. Collaborators on the album include Vince Staples, Grace Jones, Danny Brown, Mavis Staples, Pusha T and De La Soul. One can still hear a song leaving the field free to Albarn, "Busted and Blue", which could easily have been included on his last solo album. With Humanz, Gorillaz offer us an energetic and sufficiently varied album to keep our interest throughout the 50 minutes. Here is a very good record that is certainly worthy of their best years, perhaps the logical continuation to Demon Days issued 12 years ago. (May 2017)

Music Video: « Saturnz Barz »

Parlophone / Warner

½

   

 Philippe Jaroussky – La Storia di Orfeo

Philippe Jaroussky – La Storia di Orfeo

French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky realizes a long-standing dream by telling the myth of Orpheus through the music of three Baroque composers: Monteverdi, Sartorio and Rossi. He thus created a kind of mini-opera with two voices and a chorus around the characters of Orpheus and Eurydice. Monteverdi’s Orfeo, composed in 1607, is considered as the first opera in history. The epic of Orpheus and his late wife Eurydice nourished the imagination of many composers during the following decades. The operas of Rossi (1647) and Sartorio (1672) are much more elaborate works than that of Monteverdi. For La Storia di Orfeo, Jaroussky is accompanied by director Diego Fasolis, as well as by Emöke Barath in the role of Eurydice. The sequence of the pieces was made quite naturally, giving a greater place to Eurydice than in the original operas. This is a very interesting work, especially if you appreciate baroque opera. (May 2017)

Erato / Warner / SIX

½

 

 The Junction – City Nights

The Junction – City Nights

The Junction was formed in Brampton, Ontario about 15 years ago. The trio offer indie rock music that incorporates some electro elements with a slight new wave trend. They also have an aerial side at times which carries us elsewhere. The Junction offer interesting and creative music. Only a few passages are needed to catch our attention and keep it. So, you may not be too inclined to listen to City Nights repeatedly, despite its very nice qualities. (May 2017)

Culvert

 Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

After a mixtape in 2016 that broke some of the frenzied rhythm to which he accustomed us to release very good albums, here is that the rapper Kendrick Lamar is back with DAMN. He pursues in the line of excellent Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and To Pimp a Butterfly with catchy beats and an incomparable flow. After only a few tracks, we find ourselves completely subjugated by the raw talent of this extremely complete artist. On DAMN, Lamar constantly questions his mental health, but after all, madness is never far from genius. To hear the consistency that he has shown since the beginning of his career, that is how one must begin to consider him. The album of 14 songs totaling 55 minutes presents very few elements of weakness and on the contrary, remains coherent from beginning to end. A feat considering the style filled with clichés in which he works. So, once again, this is a first-rate album by Kendrick Lamar, an album that is heading straight for the best ones of the year. Bravo! (May 2017)

Music Videos: « HUMBLE. » - « DNA. »

Aftermath / Interscope / Universal

   

 Harry Manx – Faith Lift

Harry ManxFaith Lift

With Faith Lift, it's already Harry Manx's 15th album. He has a unique sound on this recording while playing several guitars and being accompanied by the Sydney Opera String Quartet. We rediscover some great songs from Manx repertoire arranged for a string quartet by Clayton Doley. We can also hear a new track, his beautiful version of Al Green’s immortal "Love and Happiness". With Faith Lift, this is a soft album that Manx offers us, a real balm for the soul. (May 2017)

Dog My Cat / SIX

½

 

 John Mayer – The Search for Everything

John Mayer – The Search for Everything

Two EPs containing eight of the 12 tracks on The Search for Everything were released before the album, leaving little room for surprise. On the other hand, the fact that John Mayer returns to the soul style that suits him so well is greatly appreciated. He quickly makes us forget his long incursion in country rock. The album offers a nice mix of funky tracks and soul ballads, although a few less ballads would certainly facilitate an uninterrupted listening until the end (some may be tiresome). Despite its few weaknesses, The Search for Everything presents an interesting return for the popular singer and musician. (May 2017)

Music Video: « Still Feel Like Your Man »

   

 Eleanor McCain – True North: The Canadian Songbook (2 CD)

Eleanor McCain – True North: The Canadian Songbook (2 CD)

In the context of Canada's 150th anniversary, Eleanor McCain releases a double album with 32 Canadian music classics. Native of New Brunswick, Eleanor traveled from east to west with producer Don Breithaupt, conductor Martin MacDonald and engineer Jeremy Tusz to record an album with 10 different orchestras, an audacious project. In this way, she presents different music genres in her orchestral pop style of great softness. The album begins in force with the first single, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". You can also listen to Neil Young's "Helpless", Bryan Adams' "Run To You", Roch Voisine's "I'll Always Be There" (who accompanied her as a duet), Gordon Lightfoot’s "If You Could Read My Mind", Sarah McLachlan’s "Angel", and several others. We can even hear two tracks in French: "Le monde est stone" by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon (excerpt from the rock opera Starmania), as well as "Aujourd’hui, je dis bonjour à la vie" by Serge Fiori (Harmonium). Here is an excellent overview of the music that Canada has produced over the past decades. (May 2017)

Retriever / eOne / SIX

½

 

 Nina Miranda – Freedom of Movement

Nina Miranda – Freedom of Movement

Brazilian Nina Miranda lived all her life between her native land and London where she could integrate into the trip hop scene. After being part of several bands, she finally releases her first solo album. She offers a superb mix of styles and influences between her Latin origins, electro, pop music from the 1960s and 1970s, and African beats. The whole thing blends perfectly into a uniform and creative album. Through this fusion of genres, Nina Miranda also succeeds in taking a political stand by warning against complacency, a call to action. Here is a somewhat heterogeneous album at first, but that turns out to have a solid guideline. A debut of high quality for Nina Miranda! (May 2017)

Six Degrees / SIX

½

   

 SWMRS – Drive North

SWMRS – Drive North

After several incarnations, including Emily's Army which released an album produced by Billie Joe Armstrong in 2011, SWMRS was born in 2014 in the wake of the departure of guitarist Travis Neumann. The punk rock band from Oakland, California, wanted to make a break with its past. Drive North is the first album of the new line-up and it still proposes a mix of punk and garage rock, but with too many elements of pop music and electro, often more destabilizing than interesting. In fact, what we notice quickly is that all the songs are frankly different, both in style and energy. So, there's no discernible guideline, and one might even think that Drive North is a compilation of several artists or worse, a teen movie soundtrack... Some effective beats manage to catch our attention, but they seem to have been heard very often in the past. And then, a rather disappointing track brings us back to the starting point. So here is an uneven album with very little interesting content. (May 2017)

Fueled by Ramen / Warner

½

   

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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