Reviews

Julian Taylor: Tech Noir

Julian Taylor Tech Noir Cover.jpg

Independent
Submitted by Lenny Stoute

On which this sharp-dressed soul rockin’ man comes up with a new sound and underlines  the distance he’s come since his Staggered Crossing days. Always a fluid and inventive guitarist and an attention-grabbing showman, Tech Noir is a high-water mark in the songwriting department.

Taylor has a distinct delivery that’s raw and emotional, drawing on blues-rock and island rhythms for the backbone of his sound. Word is that Tech Noir is a culmination of every musical genre that has influenced him throughout his life.

The end result’s inspired by the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers, which has loads of room for Taylor’s inspired riffing. No flies on the vocals either, which manage to come over sounding both classic and fresh.  You’ve likely already heard his soulman’s shout on the blazing single "Zero to Eleven", punched up by a tight horn section, or his smootn  r’n’b crooning on "Never Gonna Give You Up”.

Thematically, for Taylor the revolution’s all about the love, most appropriate for a new daddy, and consequently is awash in good vibes and positivity which occasionally teeters but never quite falls into the chasm of the warm fuzzies. On that front, the highlight is  "Be Good To Your Woman". The clever changeup of “No Guns,” on which Taylor sings “I don’t need no gun for protection…” telling us this is so because the love in his life is all the protection he needs, has just the right amount of guitar edge to give it authority.

Mike Trudell

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Indie Star North Records
Submitted by Don Graham

Mike Trudell’s self titled full length CD, featuring the first single ‘Do Ya Wanna’, is finally available on the Star North Records label, in digital and hard copy formats. Produced by Canadian transplant to Nashville, Gil Grand, the 11 song outing features solid tracks, well performed musically and vocally. The production is clean and crisp with good separation and is sonically in line with the current trend in country music.

The opening track, ‘Do Ya Wanna’, fits the bill for summer time top down, sitting on the beach or sitting around the bonfire type music.  ‘Blue Jean Girl’ and ‘Boom Box’ are more of the same,  summertime, goodtime “young love “songs.  ‘Get Your Honky Tonk On’  is a Saturday night shine your boots, go to town type anthem.

‘She Wasn’t Always This Way’ is a welcome departure from the drinking, partying  songs, a true heartfelt song about aging and how the old folks you see weren’t always that way, they were once young and vibrant like the singer in the song.

‘Runaway Highway’ is a tale of heading down the road to a new and hopefully better life.  ‘How Do You Stop a Train’ slows things down a tad and let’s Mike exercise his country chops, while ‘I’m Gonna Love Her’ tells of the power of love as the story teller will do whatever it takes to win and keep the heart of the woman he loves. ‘Love On’ is next in line followed by ‘Overdrive’.

Michael Jackson: Xscape

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Submitted by Michael Williams

The destruction of Michael Jackson’s musical legacy. First let a bunch of DJ’s remix the tracks and release them as new or finished tracks…hell with Melodyne you don’t even need the master tracks, the remixed have been awful  no matter who has them, the original tracks are always better ,which among them can do better work than Quincy Jones. None leave the masters alone, comes off like a hologram of a dead man reanimated for some bizarre ancient ritual of rebirth ala Frankenstein. The music sounds equally like, lifeless electronic production trying to be worthy of a timeless voice. It is not all the remixes that do not work is only because the people doing it were not old enough to remember the original versions or the life of the performer.

Shame on anyone remixing the musical legacy of Michael Jackson, it just is not needed if they were finished complete recordings. The only remix I ever loved was done by Quincy Jones when he added the hand claps to “Rock With You” from the Off the Wall album.

Burn all remixes of Michael Jackson, since his death. Funny when you die  there is a whole industry to keep you alive and your art right down to creating a reanimated hologram of you to sell your virtual productions and tour.

The new record is entitled “XScape”:

XScape features ‘contemporized’ versions of Michael’s original recordings by high-profile producers include Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, JRoc, Stargate and John McClain.

Are the new tracks, unfinished B sides or what?

Fernande McNabb

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Submitted by Don Graham

This nine song CD was sent to me by the artist herself, Fernande McNabb with a short not attached thanking me for taking the time to listen. With a request like that I couldn’t ignore the CD and I’m real glad I didn’t.  A little blues, a little country with a shade of pop make this an interesting collection. “I went to Ranch Recording Studio with the intent of recording a two song demo and the result is my new CD released this year! The record was produced by John Donald with one song Sisters in Arms produced by John Donald and Allen Hunnie.”

The Calgary born singer/songwriter is currently living in beautiful Manitoba and is working on a follow up CD to this self title debut project. The opening track Little One is a smooth mid tempo blues, well sung and well played, while Sisters in Arms is a little rockier and poppier, again well done. Nothing on My Back could be a radio track with a good feel and nicely sung lyric. Very Bonnie Raitt.

Be The Woman has a little more bite and grit, showing a rougher side of Fernande’s vocals. Can’t Predict is a pop song through and through, and ‘This One’s For Me’ is a fifties type pop/blues showing a little of the slide in Fernande’s vocals.

Shoes is a country tune, could be a radio hit while Thank You seems like a perfect way to end this CD. Fernande is thanking you for listening and we thank her for the tunes.

We predict you’ll be hearing a lot more of Fernande McNabb in the days to come.

Nikki Yanofksy ‘Little Secret’

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Submitted by Michael Williams

It’s been awhile since I have received anything from a record company worth writing about or listening to in its entirety.  Nikki Yanofsky is the little girl from Montreal who made herself a young legend by learning the jazz songbook at an early age wowing international crowds with her big voice and vocal knowledge of the classics. Her first release “Ella … of Thee I Swing”, as a calling card to an International Jazz community it got everyone attention, including Quincy Jones!

Nikki Yanofsky is the only living singer that I and Quincy Jones have discussed since Michael Jackson passed.So now some five years later, the Dude is reintroducing Nikki Yanofsky as the premiere voice on the planet.  Considering he could have worked with anyone, what makes this Canadian girl from Montreal so special? 

It started at home where she grew up on the classics (Ella Fitzgerald being her favorite), her family is rock solid.Nikki became the youngest headliner at the Montreal International Jazz Festival working with Herbie Hancock, Phil Ramone and a number of international orchestras.

Nikki’s legendary local and international performances made Quincy Jones a fan, then executive producer, co manager and godfather to the project, combining American and Canadian talents together for the first time since Quincy Jones worked with Oscar Peterson and Tamia.

MAGIC!

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Sony Music Entertainment
Submitted by Cashbox Canada

Magic. When something is meant to be, you just know it immediately. It's as if there was a divine plan or universal synergy fusing the right elements together at the right time for the right situation. That's the feeling Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Nasri experienced the first time MAGIC! jammed. During a writing session in 2012, he heard collaborator and guitarist Mark Pelli strum a reggae-tinge riff, and something clicked.

"I'm a huge fan of The Police, and I always wanted to do my own project that merged reggae, rock, pop, and a little soul for quite some time," he affirms. "The moment Mark began playing, it felt natural. We had this vision, adnd it all tied together instantly. We began recording, and the sound was so locked in on every song. That's even where we derived the band name. Everything simply worked like MAGIC!"

Jerry Leger & The Situation Early Riser Latent

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

A decade on from wowing the Beaches babes as he blew out the walls of tiny dive joint Castro’s with his sex-soaked blues rock and reckless style, Jerry Leger has emerged as a talent to be reckoned with.

Its way fitting that he’s signed with Latent, as his talent has lain in that position for far too long, even as he cranks out one killer album after another.

This un’s no diff; it’s eight of Leger’s character-driven tunes, touching all of the sweet spots in the roots Americana barroom balladeer tradition. From the urban dislocation blues of "Factory Made” to the fluid country rock of "Cashing In", the foot-stompin’ gospel-tinged soul of “To Let Me Go” and the barroom brawl/album highlight that is “She Ain’t My Woman And I Ain’t No Woman’s Man,” Leger’s high, at times Dylanesque vocals are up to carrying the front load. He can also nail you with the delicate and thoughtful, as on "Nobody's Angel” and "One More Bad Penny" and the whimsical, bare-bones blues of “Bad Ole Dog”.

It’s not perfect music, dude’s never dropped passion for technique and canny producer Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) manages to blend the edges slickly into the songs’ soundscape. Leger’s backed by his usual band The Situation, amply augmented by guest artists organist Jeff Heisholt (Burt Neilson Band, the Trews) and singers Tamara Lindeman (the Weather Station), Ivy Mairi and Carleigh Aikins.

Ultramarine: Young Galaxy

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Ultramarine is the name and colour of Young Galaxy’s fourth LP, the first album they have made away from Montreal, across the sea, all together. Like 2011′s Shapeshifting, Ultramarine was made with electronic producer Dan Lissvik (Studio); but this time it was made in Gothenburg, Sweden, at Lissvik’s studio; this time five musicians stood in a room with Lissvik, playing their instruments; this time every song was sung by co-founder Catherine McCandless, with eyes on a blue horizon.

These are ten tracks of shining, glimmering electronic pop – songs that scatter across the dancefloor, swim through headphones, ringing out like a cold new summer. A modern record, beautifully now, and in a way more direct than anything Young Galaxy have ever made. This band has always loved pop music; here they lean into this love, finding lyrics that speak more to the beat than to intimate autobiography. They summon the spirit of our new century songbook, songs from Sweden to Manchester to down the block: “Fools Gold”, “We Share Our Mother’s Health”, “Protection”, “Machine Gun”, Orbital’s “Belfast”, or Factory Floor’s “Two Different Ways.”

Miss Quincy Roadside Recovery

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

The Canadian all-girl rock ‘n’ roll band Miss Quincy and the Showdown have  just released  Roadside Recovery, the third full-length album for Quincy but the first with this full band.

This album is a true tribute to the touring artists and Miss Quincy and her band have already put in the album is a testament to the touring warriors Quincy and the band truly are; having clocked over 100,000 kms while honing their musical skills crossing no less than seven countries, playing every dirty barroom, music club, house concert and festival on the way.

They’ve mostly seen it all, made their choices good or bad, and now they’re gonna tell you all about it. You won’t find them singing pretty pages out of their diaries, this is down and dirty roots & blues and straight up rock n’ roll.

Roadside Recovery was produced and recorded by Matt Rogers (The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer) at Afterlife Studio and Neighborhood Studios, who took the road grit and whiskey regrets from the band and liberally scrubbed every track with them.

Fred Eaglesmith Tambourine

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Independent
Submitted by James Lizzard

Says here this is the 20th album from O.G. road dawg Fred Eaglesmith, so don’t expect a re-invention of any wheels.  No need to, this thing has wheels like a long haul truck and even though this particular rig was made in 1966, it chews up the miles and time zones with Fred firmly at the wheel. Pouring out of the cab radio is a roots-rock sound which rocks a little harder here, goes more soulful there, references authentic Tejano figures somewhere else and a Blonde on Blonde further on.

With the Eagle’s time worn rugged rasp showing the way and the magic being captured on an eight-track analogue console, the end result is an album which sounds like it was recorded back in the late Sixties but never previously released. Big ups for the many tasty musical punctuations from the band, including classic Sixties guitar sounds and Stax-style organ riffs.

While Fred can ramble on with the best of ‘em, he can also drop the hammer and deliver the pointed stick in the eye of “Nobody’s Friend” in 1.57 flat. Overall, with nothing clocking in at more than 4.01 (“Engineer”) this is one of dude’s tightest albums and totally devoid of filler.

Thematically, it’s Fred checking out universal verities, i.e. staying true, keeping on, going against the wind, knowing when to hold and when to fold, break-ups, breakouts and breakdowns.

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