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june 2021

 

Featured Review:  Twenty One Pilots    Featured New Artist:  Dodie

 

June 1-10:

The Black Keys - David Jacques - Matthew Larkin -

Elliot Maginot - Mdou Moctar - Allison Russell - Sam Tucker

 

 

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Key for the stars

 

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

 

 

FEATURED REVIEW:

 

Twenty One Pilots – Scaled and Icy

Twenty One Pilots – Scaled and Icy

After 12 years together, the Ohio duo are back with their sixth album, Scaled and Icy. Created during the pandemic, the record presents the emotional ups and downs of life in quarantine. It is all brought to us with some of the best pop melodies ever produced by the guys of Twenty One Pilots. Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun worked independently in their home studios. The result is a light and simplified album, a bit like their first two recordings. So, this is a bit of a homecoming for the duo who have returned to the creative freedom they enjoyed before the global success of Blurryface (which included the now classic "Stressed Out"). On Scaled and Icy, Twenty One Pilots once again offer a great mix of pop, hip hop and experimentation, for another solid album!

Music Videos: « Shy Away » - « Choker »

½

     

     

 

 

FEATURED NEW ARTIST:

 

 

Dodie – Build a Problem

London singer-songwriter Dorothy Miranda Clark (aka Dodie) presents her very first album with Build a Problem. Produced by Joe Rubel (Ed Sheeran, James Blunt), the record offers 12 introspective songs with very good pop melodies. Dodie's delicate voice is highlighted, and it feels like she is singing directly to us. Her orchestral chamber pop music and lyrics with a feminist touch are reminiscent of Kate Bush or Tori Amos. Dodie's minimalist style merges perfectly with large orchestral parts which add richness to the album. We find in bonus two other tracks, including the hit released a year ago "Boys Like You", produced by Pomplamoose. Note that a deluxe version including an additional CD of eight demo versions is also available.

Music Videos: « Boys Like You » - « Cool Girl » - « Hate Myself »

½

   

 

june 1-10:

 

 The Black Keys – Delta Kream

The Black Keys – Delta Kream

Two years after Let’s Rock, the Ohio duo are making a comeback to their roots with Delta Kream. Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums) return to their fascination for Mississippi blues, in their minimalist garage blues rock style, even if additional musicians are present, in particular JD McPherson's pianist, Ray Jacildo. Delta Kream includes 11 covers of Mississippi blues legends like Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Fred McDowell. Recorded during a 10-hour session, the album is actually a sequel to their 2006 EP, Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough. In this style, the Black Keys remind us of southern rock from the 1970s (Allman Brothers Band, Peter Green). The album starts off strong with John Lee Hooker and Big Joe Williams' classic "Crawling Kingsnake", which sets the tone for the following tracks. Delta Kream turns out to be a great mix between their minimalist guitar-drums style and Mississippi blues tradition.

½

     

 David Jacques – 15 histoires de guitares

David Jacques – 15 histoires de guitares

Classical guitarist David Jacques returns with a second album of guitar stories, after 14 histoires de guitares (14 guitar stories) released in January 2020 and nominated for an Opus 2021 award. This time he presents 15 historic guitars from his private collection, built for the most by the best guitar makers of the 19th century. It must be said that at that time the guitar became a fashionable instrument, and that the composer-luthier collaboration offered the instrument a rich range of models, materials, and techniques. For each guitar, Jacques offers a repertoire adapted to the character of the instrument. You can discover works by Mauro Giuliani, Niccolò Paganini, Vasily Sarenko, Ernest Shand and many others. Each of the 15 guitars has a story to tell.

ATMA Classique

½

   

 Matthew Larkin – Casavant Opus 550 (2 CD)

Matthew Larkin – Casavant Opus 550 (2 CD)

Canadian organist Matthew Larkin presents a double album recorded on one of North America's most famous organs, the Casavant Opus 550 of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto. The recital of over an hour and a half highlights the remarkable extent and beauty of this incomparable organ built in 1914 by Casavant Frères. Larkin explores different eras and styles with music by composers ranging from Bach to Keith Jarrett, including contemporary works by Canadians Healey Willan, Ernest MacMillan and Andrew Ager. In addition to Bach, some of the great names of classical music include Mendelssohn, Couperin and Franck. At the other end of the spectrum, we can discover a work by young composer Benjamin David Mallory, born in 2002 ("La joie spontanée"). Organ fans will be delighted with this double album full of surprises.

ATMA Classique

½

 

 Elliot Maginot – Easy Morning

Elliot Maginot – Easy Morning

Lonely and contemplative singer and songwriter Elliot Maginot is back on record with his third album. Produced by Maginot and his brother of sound, Connor Seidel, Easy Morning navigates between soaring alternative pop inspired by classical music and West African sounds, and stripped-down folk rock. Essentially acoustic, the album creates a very special atmosphere thanks to varied instrumentation and highly textured orchestrations. Antoine Gratton's arrangements for string quartet enrich “Holy Father” and the title song. The album came from a creative retreat in the woods during the pandemic when Maginot was unsure of when he could perform his songs in front of an audience. More acoustic than in the past, the contemplative music of Elliot Maginot may take a new direction, but it remains as effective as ever with an atmosphere of its own.

Audiogram

½

   

 Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

Nigerian Mdou Moctar is back with a new Touareg music album, Afrique Victime. One of the innovators of the genre, Moctar remains at the forefront of this musical style of the Saharan desert with western influences. The outstanding guitarist influenced by both Hendrix and Prince presents a new album of great quality, perfectly fusing rock and blues to Touareg ("Chismiten", "Taliat"). He also explores softer acoustic music which comes to create a nice balance on the album ("Tala Tannam", "Layla"). Although the whole record is mostly about joy and love, the title track denounces the brutality of colonialism, for seven and a half minutes. With Afrique Victime, Moctar offers a coherent album from start to finish, for one of the best in his career.

½

     

 Allison Russell – Outside Child

Allison Russell – Outside Child

Montreal-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Allison Russell releases her debut album, after having been part of several bands (Birds of Chicago, Our Native Daughters, Po ’Girl). On this first record, produced by Dan Knobler (Lake Street Dive), she offers folk rock music with blues influences. She describes her youth in rather personal details, in addition to highlighting the colors of her city, its landscape and its language. On the first single "Nightflyer", she reflects on the healing power of motherhood. Outside Child sounds like a great liberation for Allison, but above all it has great songs with unforgettable melodies.

Fantasy / SIX

½

     

 Sam Tucker – All In Good Time

Sam Tucker – All In Good Time

A Quebecer by adoption, but born in Retford, England, Sam Tucker first came to prominence at La Voix (The Voice in Quebec), mainly thanks to his slightly hoarse voice. After an EP in 2018, he is finally issuing his first full-length album, a record with a little more muscles than what he offered us previously, produced by Jesse Mac Cormack. There is a mix of rock 'n' roll and blues, with some more introspective songs in the second half. Tucker offers a journey through America mixing different eras, all propelled by the excellent opening track, "Holy", and which ends in style with "I Love My Baby but She Drinks Too Much". He manages on several occasions to offer the perfect balance between power and emotion, for an album of great consistency throughout the 13 tracks (which still total nearly an hour). After a long wait, his early fans should be happy with it, as it is such an excellent record!

Audiogram

½

     

 

MAY:

 

Charlotte Cardin – Phoenix

Charlotte Cardin – Phoenix

Eight years after her participation in La Voix (The Voice in Quebec), Charlotte Cardin is finally issuing her debut full-length album with Phoenix. It took two EPs and several successful singles for Charlotte to finally feel ready to offer a set of 13 tracks. She explains that she let inspiration come to her in the past, but this time she has locked herself with her team into a creative context to bring inspiration. She and Jason Brando, her right-hand man, bet on patience, which pays off when you listen to Phoenix. There are hits that we already know and love such as "Passive Aggressive", "Daddy" and the most recent, "Meaningless". But there are other varied songs as well, from the atmospheric title track to the piano ballad "Anyone Who Loves Me" reminiscent of Adele, including "Sun Goes Down (Buddy)" accompanied by a simple guitar, without forgetting moments that are both sensual and more dancing ("Sex To Me"). Charlotte additionally sings a duet with herself on "Xoxo" in which she also plays the role of the guy giving her the line, the key of a vocal track having been lowered. She concludes the whole thing with a song in French, "Je quitte" ("I leave"). The songs on Phoenix may be different from each other, but they link together wonderfully for a great electro-pop result that is both modern and creative. (May 2021 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Daddy » - « Passive Aggressive » - « Meaningless » - « Sad Girl » - « Anyone Who Loves Me »

     

     

 

 

Dry Cleaning New Long Leg

The London-based quartet Dry Cleaning is made up of Florence Shaw (vocals), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Nick Buxton (drums). They offer us an alternative rock / post-punk sound that reminds us of Sonic Youth, with Florence reciting instead of singing on often trivial subjects like her dead cat or Meghan Markle. The excellent opening track and first single, "Scratchcard Lanyard", gives a particularly good overview of what to expect for the next nine songs. Thanks to the production of John Parish (Eels), the band succeeds on New Long Leg to refine their style already well established on their two previous EPs. Dry Cleaning really blooms with this debut album of remarkably high quality which will appeal to all fans of alternative / indie rock. (May 2021 Featured New Artist)

Music Video: « Scratchcard Lanyard »

½

   

 Bumarang – Echo Land

Bumarang – Echo Land

Bumarang is a Montreal trio that pays homage to the Celtic tradition. Formed by Kate Bevan-Baker (violins, vocals), David Gossage (flute, whistle, guitar) and Sarah Pagé (harp, harmonium, bouzouki, vocals), the super trio presents their very first album with Echo Land. These members of Orealis, Tree Talk and The Barr Brothers first crossed paths on stage in 2015. Their influences range from classical to jazz to African and Indian music, but it is their love of Celtic folk songs that truly united them. After several problems that delayed the recording of Echo Land, the Bumarang members enlisted the services of Vid Cousins ​​to co-produce and mix the album. They also invited percussionist Ivan Bamford (Land of Kush), drummer Kevin Laing (The Besnard Lakes) and guitarist Leif Vollebekk. The result seems to have come straight from Ireland or Scotland a long time ago, but with a sound of 2021. Bumarang skillfully succeeds in reviving the Celtic tradition, without turning it into a caricature. A great record! (May 2021)

Fallen Tree

½

     

 The Damn Truth – Now or Nowhere

The Damn Truth – Now or Nowhere

For their third album, Montreal band The Damn Truth had the chance to work with legendary producer Bob Rock (Metallica, The Cult, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi) for six of the nine tracks, recorded in Vancouver. Rock allows the quartet to present the most powerful and solid record of their career. The album had to be completed in Montreal due to pandemic restrictions, and the band produced themselves the remaining three tracks. The ensemble presents pure rock with influences from the 1970s, with Led Zeppelin coming particularly to mind on several occasions. Noteworthy is the impressive vocal performance of female singer and guitarist Lee-La Baum. With Now or Nowhere, let's bet that The Damn Truth will finally be recognized even in their own country, after numerous performances around the world, including a sold-out concert at the legendary Whiskey a Go Go in Los Angeles. (May 2021)

Spectra / SIX

½

   

 Eyevin Nonet – Thomas Chapin III: Unearthed

Eyevin Nonet – Thomas Chapin III: Unearthed

The Eyevin Nonet jazz ensemble, under the direction of drummer Ivan Bamford, draws on the many influences and inspirations of its members to present us a tribute to the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin. Among the four tracks offered here, we find three never-recorded tracks by Chapin, generously entrusted to Bamford and his band by his wife, Terri Castillo-Chapin. Eyevin Nonet brings these unique works by Thomas Chapin to life on this almost 37-minute album. (May 2021)

Corne de brume

½

 

 Simon Leoza – Albatross

Simon Leoza – Albatross

Montreal composer Simon Leoza (previously known as Tambour) releases his debut album with Albatross. The record contains compositions accumulated over the past six years, including the first singles "La nuée", "Bloom" and "L’archange". The album was produced on both sides of the Atlantic, following two creative residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity. He first flew to Iceland to begin preproduction with Snorri Hallgrímsson. He then spent some time in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Back in Quebec, he teamed up with Blaise Borboën-Léonard (Queen KA, Lydia Képinski) who co-produced the album with him, an album recorded at Studio Makina in Montreal and at Studio Le Nid in Saint-Adrien. Leoza also used the acoustics of the village church and recorded with a string quartet. The album's 10 cinematic tracks blend the grandiose and the intimate, with rich instrumentation and electronic sounds. (May 2021)

Rosemarie / SIX

½

   

 Jeffery Straker – Just Before Sunrise

Jeffery Straker – Just Before Sunrise

Straight from Saskatchewan, Jeffery Straker comes to us with a new album, Just Before Sunrise. He offers folk music with a strong country leaning. The album was produced by Russell Broom (Jann Arden), except for the songs "Light a Fire" and "Heavy is the Burden" produced by Royal Wood. With his most recent single, "Ready To Be Brave", Straker presents a piano ballad accompanied by orchestrations, arrangements quite different from what he usually offers. However, the ensemble remains focused on the roots of folk music, for a very enjoyable record. (May 2021)

Progeny Music

 

 Weezer – Van Weezer

Weezer – Van Weezer

Only three months after OK Human, Weezer is already back with a new record. Following the death of Eddie Van Halen on October 6, 2020, Rivers Cuomo decided to pay tribute to the famous guitarist, even though he already had in mind for a long time the idea of ​​a hard rock album. So here is Van Weezer, a guitar-focused record reminiscent of 1980s rock. The band has often incorporated walls of guitars into their albums, but they reach new heights here. Van Halen's influences are obvious, but Ozzy Osbourne can also be heard, notably in "Blue Dream" which uses "Crazy Train". However, the comparisons to the 1980s end there. Cuomo retains his unique style on the mic, and Weezer's sound remains at the heart of the album, which ultimately cleverly takes inspiration from the Van Halen of the early 1980s, but without making it a pastiche. The album is starting off strong with "Hero" and "All the Good Ones", but it is with the excellent "The End of the Game" that it really takes off. Ten songs barely exceeding 30 minutes is not much! But here is an energetic and creative recording, which skillfully mixes the rock of the past with the current style of Weezer. A very pleasant album! (May 2021)

Music Video: « All the Good Ones »

½

     

 Ngoma Zethu – 7 Chapters of Mystery

Ngoma Zethu – 7 Chapters of Mystery

Ngoma Zethu is primarily a conference project on the Pan-African Cultural Revolution. The phrase comes from different Bantu languages and means either "our dance", "our song", "our culture", "our drum" or "our history". But in a more philosophical way, it simply means "our way of life". The project was born out of African oral tradition, humanity, conscience, philosophy, mythology, spirituality and history. The seven songs are performed by Kamel Zennia, Mongezi & DJ Njuchi, Lorraine Klaasen, Masauko, Kuku & GPS Lerato, Mighty Joshua and Vusi Mahlasela. At the end of the record, we find a second version of "You Snooze You Lose" with Mighty Joshua. 7 Chapters of Mystery is a very good album of touching African music. (May 2021)

Bantu Entertainment Network

½

 

 

aPRIL:

 

Justin Bieber – Justice

Justin Bieber – Justice

One year after Changes, Justin Bieber is already back with Justice, his seventh album. Once again, we can salute Bieber's talent for delivering catchy melodies over soft pop and R&B music tailored for radio. We find indeed on Justice several essential hits which will play in loops. However, his choices can be questionable at times, notably the use of two extracts from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, one of which creating some discomfort as an introduction to a rather tasteless love song. Let's say that his sympathy for African Americans seems rather false and it would take a little more sincerity to convince us of his good intentions. If we put aside these rather unnecessary distractions, the fact remains that he offers songs that are very much of his time and that will seduce his many fans, especially his loyal female audience. Bieber is accompanied for the occasion by a great selection of guest artists: Khalid, Chance the Rapper, The Kid Laroi, Dominic Fike, Daniel Caesar, Giveon, Beam, Burna Boy and Benny Blanco. A deluxe version of the album offers six additional tracks for a total of 22, and we can hear other collaborators: Lil Uzi Vert, Jaden, Quavo, DaBaby, and Tori Kelly. (April 2021 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Holy » - « Lonely » - « Anyone » - « Hold On » - « Peaches »

RBMG / Def Jam / Universal

     

     

 

 

Manslaughter 777 – World Vision Perfect Harmony

Manslaughter 777 is the side project of drumming duo Lee Buford (The Body) and Zac Jones (Braveyoung, MSC). The duo offers a mix of experimental rock and electronic music (dub, jungle, trip hop). They are constantly exploring different rhythms by integrating many samples. The eight-track, 33-minute album is therefore not necessarily easy to access at first, but we manage to let ourselves be overcome by the overall atmosphere which remains pleasant from start to finish. Here is an exercise in styles which should satisfy any fan of creative electronic music. (April 2021 Featured New Artist)

½

   

 Chœur de l’Église St. Andrew and St. Paul – Distance

Chœur de l’Église St. Andrew and St. Paul – Distance

The Choir of St. Andrew and St. Paul's Church of Montreal, conducted by Canadian-American Jean-Sébastien Vallée, offers a compilation of choral works from all eras. It includes a motet by Johann Sebastian Bach, Samuel Barber’s "Agnus Dei" and Edward Elgar’s "Lux Aeterna", in addition to more contemporary works by Trevor Weston ("Magnificat"), Reena Esmail, James MacMillan and Caroline Shaw. We can also discover "Ni de l’est ni de l’ouest" (Neither from the East nor from the West), a work requested to Montreal composer (and member of the Choir) William Kraushaar and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the shooting at the Quebec City mosque in 2017. Here is a very good album for fans of choral singing. (April 2021)

ATMA Classique

½

 CODE Quartet – Genealogy

CODE Quartet – Genealogy

CODE Quartet is a great Montreal jazz quartet formed of Christine Jensen (alto and soprano saxophone), Lex French (trumpet), Adrian Vedady (bass) and Jim Doxas (drums). Today they release their very first album together containing eight tracks (51 minutes), including the traditional "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded". The fusion between the brass and the acoustic rhythm section is impressive, so that no dominant instrument remains. To listen to with good loudspeakers for an optimal result! (April 2021)

Justin Time / SIX

½

     

 Grosse Isle – Le Bonhomme sept heures / The Bonesetter

Grosse Isle – Le Bonhomme sept heures / The Bonesetter

The Grosse Isle trio is made up of Sophie Lavoie, Irishman Fiachra O’Regan and legendary André Marchand (La Bottine souriante, Les Charbonniers de l'Enfer). Released on St-Patrick's Day on March 17, The Bonesetter merges traditional Quebec music with Irish music. This is the trio's debut album as Sophie and Fiachra have previously worked together for two albums in addition to having toured internationally. The instrumentation is very varied throughout this bilingual record, incorporating Irish uilleann pipes and whistle, banjo, violin, piano and guitar. The rhythm also varies, from smoother to more festive. The name of the trio refers to the island on the St. Lawrence river where the Irish were placed in quarantine when they arrived in mass in the 19th century to flee famine. We therefore discover a great mix of cultures between Quebec and Ireland. (April 2021)

La Compagnie du Nord

 

 Rob Lutes – Come Around

Rob Lutes – Come Around

Montreal singer-songwriter Rob Lutes releases his eighth album with Come Around. It follows on from Walk in the Dark, issued in 2017, which won a Canadian Folk Music Award in the "Contemporary Singer of the Year" category. Co-produced with long-time collaborator Rob MacDonald, and recorded in six different studios due to the pandemic, this new record includes 11 original songs, as well as a very nice version of "In My Time of Dyin'", a Bob Dylan classic. Actually, Dylan’s influences are felt at different points on the album, which also includes more blues and pop songs. After a strong debut with "Knives" and "Lightning", Lutes offers the record's flagship track, "That Bird Has My Wings", inspired by the book of the same title by Buddhist writer and condemned to death Jarvis Jay Masters. He tells of the hope for freedom in the imagination and the natural world. Rob Lutes is indeed a great storyteller, and that is what carries us on throughout Come Around. He also has a unique guitar style. Mixed by engineer Rob Heaney (Patrick Watson, Emilie-Claire Barlow), the album features some of the best folk musicians on the Canadian scene: Rob MacDonald (guitars, dobro, mandolin), Bob Stagg (piano, organ, keyboards), Solon McDade (bass) and Mario Telaro (drums, percussion). Also note the presence of Annabelle Chvostek and Kim Richardson for the choirs. Here is a particularly good folk record with an incredibly special atmosphere. (April 2021)

Lucky Bear / SIX

½

 

 Erin Propp & Larry Roy – We Want All the Same Things

Erin Propp & Larry Roy – We Want All the Same Things

The Winnipeg folk / jazz duo immerse themselves in everyday life on this new album. This is their first release in nine years, since Courage, My Love, winner of Jazz Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards (2013) as well as a Juno nominee in the Vocal Jazz Album category (2014). The duo offers songs that are both powerful and gentle at the same time, songs that offer a vision of a more beautiful and softer world. There are parallels with Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, James Taylor and Emilie-Claire Barlow, but in a unique fusion between the singer and guitarist. Propp and Roy surrounded themselves for the occasion with drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy), saxophonists Jimmy Greene, Ken Gold and Steve Wilson, percussionist Rogerio Boccato (John Patitucci), bassists Mike Downes, Karl Kohut and Julian Bradford, guitarist Joey Landreth and pianist Will Bonness. Here is a very beautiful album, full of emotion, by this very singular duo. (April 2021)

Chronograph

½

     

 Sacabuche! – Hidden Treasures

Sacabuche! – Hidden Treasures

On Hidden Treasures, the Canadian baroque ensemble Sacabuche!, directed by Linda Pearse, presents little-known but surprising works of Seventeenth-Century Music of Habsburg and Bohemia, found in particular in the Kroměříž archives in the Czech Republic. These are 18 works for violins, cornets, trombones, theorbs and organs by composers such as Giovanni Valentini (1582-1649), Antonio Bertali (1605-1669) and Giovanni Battista Buonamente (1595-1642). Sacabuche! celebrates this year 15 years of offering pieces from a little-known repertoire for baroque trombones, strings, lute, organ and voice. They make us once again discover hidden treasures with this new unique record. (April 2021)

ATMA Classique

½

 

 Schubert – Winterreise

Schubert – Winterreise

Yannick Nézet-Séguin presents his first album as a pianist, accompanied by mezzo-soprano singer Joyce DiDonato. The duo team up to offer a new version of the famous Winterreise by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) with lyrics by Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827), one of the most brilliant song cycles ever written. DiDonato offers a different reading of these 24 songs, from a woman’s point of view, the lost love. The album was recorded at the Carnegie Hall in New York City in December 2019, in a burst of creativity on the part of the duo. (April 2021)

Parlophone / Erato / Warner Classics

   

 Alex Henry Foster – Standing Under Bright Lights

Alex Henry Foster – Standing Under Bright Lights:
Live From Festival international de Jazz de Montréal
(2 CD + DVD)

After almost 10 years as the lead singer of Your Favorite Enemies, Alex Henry Foster gave his first concert under his own name in July 2019 at the Club Soda as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival, following his debut solo album released eight months earlier (Windows in the Sky). It is this performance of over two hours that is offered on this double CD accompanied by a DVD. The concert was intended to be a unique event paying homage to his father who died five years earlier. The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist played the entire Windows in the Sky album, accompanied by 11 musicians and the screening of a film directed by Foster, Immersion Sky, which can be found as a bonus on the DVD. Renowned lighting designer Pascal Boily created from Foster's vision a unique scenic installation, offering an immersive universe where music, projections and lighting coexisted. Foster wanted viewers not to feel like they were watching a concert but rather like being completely in the moment. Even on DVD the result turns out to be extremely successful when you immediately find yourself inside this extraordinary music bubble. Here is a memorable show that can obviously be listened to on CD, but which really makes sense with the images. (April 2021)

Extract: « Winter is Coming In »

Hopeful Tragedy / SIX

 

 

March:

 

Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

Foo Fighters – Medicine at Midnight

Even before its release, Dave Grohl had described the new Foo Fighters album as the Saturday night party album. His description is pretty accurate as the band offers their most energetic and fun album in a long time, a really good 36-minute pop rock mix. The band even ventures into disco and other dance music, without however completely rejecting their squeaky guitars. There are still two ballads in "Waiting On a War" and the almost soul "Chasing Birds". The catchy melodies are present throughout the nine songs and it will take as little as a second listen to be able to sing along with Grohl and his band while tapping your feet. So, here is an entertaining and highly effective record by the Foo Fighters. Very pleasant! (March 2021 Featured Review)

Music Videos: « Shame Shame » - « Waiting On a War » - « No Son of Mine »

½

     

     

 

 

Jack Kays – Mixed Emotions

Jack Kays is a young artist from Cincinnati, Ohio, who comes to us with a very first album. Considered a full-length album, Mixed Emotions is more like an EP with eight tracks totaling only 20 minutes. However, these are eight solid songs he offers us, talking about addiction, loneliness, and mental health. The songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist skillfully mixes genres, exploring hip hop and R&B, folk and rock, all with a distinct voice. Often quite slow, his music happily accelerates during "Morbid Mind", a contagious acoustic pop track. Note also his duet with Mike Lavi for "F*cked Up", as well as several songs he shared before the release of the record: "My Head :(", "Gin N Juice" and "Bottom of the Bottle". Mixed Emotions turns out to be a very enjoyable album, although we would certainly have liked to hear a few more songs. (March 2021 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Morbid Mind » - « Bottom of the Bottle » - « Gin N Juice » - « My Head :( » - « Hrtbrkn »

½

 

 Barry Paquin Roberge – Exordium to Extasy

Barry Paquin Roberge – Exordium to Extasy

Barry Paquin Roberge is a Montreal supergroup formed at the base of Étienne Barry from the Deuxluxes, as well as Sébastien Paquin and Alexis Roberge from Buddy McNeil & the Magic Mirrors, to which were added Jonathan Lafrance (Muscadettes), Jocelyn Gagné (Breastfeeders) and Anna Frances Meyer (Deuxluxes). On Exordium to Extasy, BPR once again offer their glam dance music with neo-disco influences in the style of the Scissor Sisters. This is contagious pop music that conquers us quickly, from “BPR Strut (Join Us & You’ll Be Fine)”, their first single. The fusion between invigorating guitars, synthesizers and flute is flawless and takes us into a sunny universe that automatically grabs a smile on our lips. Co-produced by BPR and Félix Petit (Hubert Lenoir, Les Louanges), Exordium to Extasy is a great sophomore album for the band, a real breath of freshness! (March 2021)

Music Video: « BRP Strut (Join Us & You’ll Be Fine) »

Costume / SIX

½

   

 Jon Batiste – We Are

Jon Batiste – We Are

After more than 15 years of career, the Louisiana singer and pianist comes to us with what could prove to be the most defining album of his career. Jon Batiste offers a more successful mix than ever between soul, R&B, pop, gospel and jazz, spread over 13 tracks. Batiste first offered the title track in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, before offering us this collection of songs that are at the same time smart, creative and entertaining. He seems to have more than ever mastered his craft, although he can count on several collaborators for the production, as well as appearances by Mavis Staples and Quincy Jones. Also note the presence of his father, Michael Batiste, and his grandfather, David Gauthier. We are was greatly inspired by his youth in New Orleans and the St. Augustine Marching Band, his high school gospel ensemble, can even be heard on the title track. In "Boy Hood," it is with PJ Morton and Trombone Shorty that Batiste recalls the families, food and culture of his hometown that shaped their lives. Musically, the singer draws on the best of the past to imagine the future, for an eclectic amalgam of New Orleans jazz and Outkast. Although the mix of styles may seem difficult to approach at first, it quickly becomes a gem to be polished to the end. (March 2021)

Verve / Universal

½

     

 Annabelle Chvostek – String of Pearls

Annabelle Chvostek – String of Pearls

The Toronto-based singer-songwriter releases her sixth album. On String of Pearls, she oscillates again between folk, jazz and indie pop, with a strong gypsy jazz and swing tendency. She even allows herself a few French songs ("Je t’ai vue hier soir" and "D’être humain"), in addition to covering "Belleville Rendez-vous" from the movie Les Triplettes de Belleville. She also offers her version of Tom Waits’ "Just the Right Bullets". Annabelle adds a South American touch to the whole as the songs were arranged and co-produced in Montevideo by Fernando Rosa, who brought together some of Uruguay's best tango and classical musicians. So, here is a dynamic album with multiple influences. (March 2021)

MQGV / SIX

 

 Paul Hindemith – Musique de chambre pour cor

Paul Hindemith – Musique de chambre pour cor

With this new album, horn player Louis-Philippe Marsolais devotes himself to chamber music for horn by German composer, violinist, violist and conductor Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). Marsolais is accompanied for the occasion by pianist David Jalbert (Pentaèdre), horn players Simon Bourget, Louis-Pierre Bergeron and Xavier Fortin from the Ottawa National Arts Centre Orchestra, as well as the Pentaèdre wind quintet. We can rediscover five superb works by Hindemith that are rarely played today: “Sonata for horn and piano”, “Sonata for alto horn and piano”, “Concerto for horn and orchestra”, “Sonata for four horns” and “Little chamber music for five wind instruments”. Here is therefore an excellent album which allows to highlight an almost forgotten music of the interwar period, remarkably high quality music interpreted with a master hand. (March 2021)

ATMA Classique

½

 

 Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

Valerie June – The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

After drawing attention to her first two albums with her unique voice and style, Valerie June is back with her third record, The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers. She once again dives into the roots of American folk music, fusing it with contemporary R&B, African beats, string orchestrations and almost-experimental aerial psychedelic pop. So, it's a huge mix that she manages to cement greatly around her larger-than-life personality, supported by the production of Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend). On this new album, Valerie seems to have officially found her way, and what she offers us will undoubtedly be among the best recordings of the year. (March 2021)

½

   

 Lake Street Dive – Obviously

Lake Street Dive – Obviously

The band from Boston is back with their seventh album. Lake Street Dive welcome a fifth full-time member, Akie Bermiss, who collaborated with the group as keyboardist on their 2017 tour, as well as on the following album, Free Yourself Up. Bermiss helps with writing on Obviously, in addition to singing a duet with Rachael Price on the excellent "Same Old News", which takes us back to the 1970s. Produced by Mike Elizondo, Obviously pursues in the style of the last album with a very good mix of pop rock and soul. The band takes inspiration from R&B on "Hypotheticals" and blues on "Hush Money", as they perform a Phil Collins-style ballad with "Anymore". Throughout the album, the band faces the problems of their generation with a certain social and feminist conscience. But above all, they remain a peerless group of composers who manage to evolve in a style from another era, reminding us at times of Fleetwood Mac, to make contemporary music so enjoyable to listen to. With Obviously, Lake Street Dive offer perhaps their strongest album to date. (March 2021)

½

   

 Carl Mayotte – Pop de ville, Volume 1

Carl Mayotte – Pop de ville, Volume 1

Named Radio-Canada Jazz Revelation 2020-2021, Quebec bassist and composer Carl Mayotte releases his sophomore album with Pop de ville, Volume 1, after Fantosme, co-produced by Michel Cusson, which received an ADISQ nomination for jazz album of the year. Pop de ville is actually a five-track EP totaling 26 minutes. We find there totally instrumental jazz fusion music with pop influences from the 1980s. The groove is present throughout the record, with in addition particularly creative compositions. In addition to his usual quintet, Mayotte called on renowned collaborators: percussionist Luc Boivin, Swedish keyboardist Lalle Larsson and harmonica player Lévy Bourbonnais. With Pop de ville, Volume 1, Carl Mayotte once again proves all his virtuosity and versatility. We would have taken more! (March 2021)

Première Ovation / SIX

½

 

 The Wanted – Strange Flight

The Wanted – Strange Flight

The Toronto band returns with a new album fusing folk rock, country and blues. Produced by Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Strange Flight reproduces the live vibe with obvious chemistry between the lead trio (Natalie Rogers, Jeff Rogers and Richard Henderson) and guest musicians (bassist Dan Mock and drummer Kyle Sullivan). The group pays homage to tradition, even including a track by Tom Waits ("Way Down in the Hole") and a song from the traditional repertoire ("Wayfaring Stranger"). Eighteen years after its debut, The Wanted still seems comfortable in the Canadian folk industry. (March 2021)

 

 Alfie Zappacosta – Saved

Alfie Zappacosta – Saved

Active for almost 40 years, the Canadian singer-songwriter returns with his 16th album. Alfie Zappacosta proves that he has lost none of his passion and his voice on Saved while delivering quality music. His pop sound with a sometimes jazz and sometimes soft rock tendency reminds us of Gino Vannelli and he delivers it in a rich voice that impresses. For several years, Zappacosta has taken charge of his career and he can thus create without limitations, which suits him very well. He even ensured the production of the record which includes various genres, music to his image. He collaborated with whomever he wanted, co-writers and musicians with whom for most he has had a long working relationship (Gerry Mosby on arrangements, as well as Marco Luciani, Andrew Glover and Silvio Pupo on writing). Zappacosta can be faulted for going in all directions on Saved, but he still gives us some highly effective songs, including the energetic "This Place in Time" and the title track. (March 2021)

Music Video: « Saved »

Alma / Universal / SIX

     

 Rob Zombie – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy

Rob Zombie – The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy

For his seventh solo album, Rob Zombie returns to the horror show and the recipe for his success at the turn of the 21st century. But above all, he reconnects with his creative spirit, indulging in pure madness that is very pleasant to find again. His new ideas allow him to think outside the box of heavy and rhythmic music for which he is famous. We still find all of this on The Lunar Injection…, but with many variations, smoother, acoustic, or soaring, or even with country impulses or those worthy of a spaghetti western movie, not to mention the presence of synthesizers. He wraps it all off greatly with short interludes that tie the whole thing together in what comes very close to a concept album. The energetic songs remain very catchy, but Zombie manages to go to several other places always more interesting than each other. It is above all the mix of genres and the passage from one atmosphere to another that makes this record so unique. So, here is an extremely fun to listen to and highly addictive album that will be difficult to put aside for long. To listen to in loops! (March 2021)

½

     

 

february:

 

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

Six years after Reality Show, Jazmine Sullivan returns with Heaux Tales, which she considers an EP despite having 14 tracks and 32 minutes. Jazmine offers creative contemporary R&B music, interspersed with several spoken passages, including poetic texts by Ari Lennox. We can hear a duet with Anderson .Paak for the funky "Price Tags" and another with H.E.R. for "Girl Like Me". Even if there are only 27 real minutes of music in total on Heaux Tales, the record has a refreshing side which is more than interesting, very pleasant to listen to. (February 2021 Featured Review)

Music Video: « Girl Like Me »

½

 

     

 

 

Celeste – Not Your Muse

R&B singer Celeste Waite was born in California but raised in the UK. She created a stir in 2017 with her first official EP, The Milk and the Honey, before returning in 2019 with Lately. She finally offers her debut full-length 12-track album, the highly anticipated Not Your Muse. The record begins smoothly with "Ideal Woman" and "Strange", a great idea to quickly highlight her beautiful voice. Strongly influenced by her idols Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday on these two songs with a touch of jazz, Celeste then becomes downright pop on "Tonight Tonight" and "Stop This Flame". Very versatile, she seems to adapt perfectly to every beat and her voice stands out in all situations. Here is a genuinely nice album from a rising star that will create even more expectations in the future. A great discovery! (February 2021 Featured New Artist)

Music Videos: « Strange » - « Stop This Flame » - « A Little Love » - « Love Is Back »

Polydor / Universal

½

   

 Adrien Brandeis – Meetings

Adrien Brandeis – Meetings (2020)

Adrien Brandeis is a young French pianist and composer who has won several awards in Europe, including the Letter One Rising Stars Jazz Award in 2018 for his debut album, Euforia. While his previous album was in quintet format, Meetings is offered as a quartet with doublebass player Damian Nueva, drummer Arnaud Dolmen and percussionist Inor Sotolongo. We can also hear Orlando Poleo with Latin percussions on "Suave". Cuban musicians bring a particular rhythm to the album which also benefits from superb melodies and harmonies, for an excellent mix of flavors and a beautiful luminosity. (February 2021)

Jazz Family

½

 

 Dominique Fils-Aimé – Three Little Words

Dominique Fils-Aimé – Three Little Words

With Three Little Words, Dominique Fils-Aimé concludes her trilogy which explores the roots of African-American musical culture. She offers soul music in its purest form, on a jazz background with a unique atmosphere. She also sings the themes of self-healing and mental health under luminous lens. With her enveloping and hushed voice, Dominique presents warm harmonies on the doo-wop style of the 50s ("While We Wait") and more traditional soul ("Mind Made Up"). With "Love Take Over" (in two versions), she offers a first single of great quality including superb percussions and synthesizers. Note also her very personal cover of "Stand By Me" at the end of the album. Once again, we must underline the incomparable work of producer, arranger and sound engineer Jacques Roy who succeeds in perfectly merging the daring music, the multiple tones and the bewitching voice of Dominique. It is possibly her most ambitious and eclectic work to date, concluding an exceptional trilogy on a high note. (February 2021)

Music Video: « Love Take Over »

Ensoul / SIX

 

 Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

Cassandra Jenkins – An Overview on Phenomenal Nature

New York alternative folk singer Cassandra Jenkins returns with a new album, five years after her debut, Play Till You Win. She presents an incredible work of observations, contradictions, and connections with nature on extremely pleasant aerial folk music. Adding a few ambient synthesizers, a saxophone and a flute makes the atmosphere even more magnificent. The album of just seven songs for 31 minutes has a few gems, including "New Bikini" and "Ambiguous Norway", without forgetting the bird song at the end, "The Ramble". An Overview on Phenomenal Nature is an intimate album, but of great beauty, thanks above all to excellent arrangements and various sounds which keep us alert. This is an excellent album from Cassandra Jenkins, an album whose main flaw is being too short. (February 2021)

½

     

 The Weather Station – Ignorance

The Weather Station – Ignorance

Four years after their self-titled album, the indie rock band from Toronto is back with Ignorance, their fifth album. The Weather Station seem to have finally reach they musical peek, while taking a stand on the impact of climate change. Tamara Lindeman has indeed learned a great deal about this issue over the past few years, including hosting discussions with other musicians and activists. In "Atlantic," she portrays her feeling of helplessness in the face of looming disaster. Lindeman and her band step out of their comfort zone on Ignorance with 1970s-inspired music that leaves out their acoustic folk tendency, as well as their more rock vibe. In fact, Fleetwood Mac and Roxy Music can come to our minds on different occasions, while also incorporating some jazz explorations. The theatrical "Robber" opens the album with a quite different atmosphere for The Weather Station, a very pleasant one. The result is a top-notch record for the band, perhaps their strongest to date. (February 2021)

½

     

 Weezer – OK Human

Weezer – OK Human

A nod to Radiohead's classic OK Computer, OK Human is the 14th career album for the Californian band. The record is more human indeed as we can hear strings arrangements throughout the 12 tracks, mostly composed on piano by Rivers Cuomo. So, these are different sounds for Weezer with a guitar that is relegated to the background. We can even hear contemplative ballads with "Bird With a Broken Wing" and "Dead Roses". The advantage of having less squeaky guitars is that you pay a little more attention to Cuomo's unique melodies. On the other hand, fans of the first hour may have a little trouble recognizing themselves in it. Still, Weezer presents some great songs again, including "All My Favorite Songs", "Aloo Gobi" and "Grapes of Wrath". In addition, the band succeeds in renewing itself in a burst of freshness with exceptionally beautiful arrangements, sometimes a bit Beatlesque. So, here is another great record from a band that seems to have many different lives. (February 2021)

Music Video: « All My Favorite Songs »

½

   

 Tapeo

Tapeo

Tapeo is a classical album that brings together a technically perfect duo: Cameron Crozman on cello and Philip Chiu on piano. The tandem offers Spanish music by composers like Cassadó, Falla, Granados and Turina. For the occasion, Cameron plays on the 1769 El Tiburon, a Spanish cello attributed to Joannes Guillami, a generous loan from the Canada Council for the Arts’ Instrument Bank. The album also allows us to rediscover works by Ravel, Albéniz, Ginastera, Ponce, as well as Alberto Guerrero. So, here is a remarkably interesting record by an incomparable duo. (February 2021)

ATMA Classique

     

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

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