Reviews

Billy J White Country Drag Strip

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This refreshing, baby-faced singer might be Burlington born, but he is Nashville bound. His EP, “Country Drag Strip” is his first offering to music fans, but it won’t be his last.
His rural childhood included a love and education of music from an early age, and he was surrounded by generations of his family who played many guitars, harmonicas and percussive instruments, inspiring Billy to join in.

Title track of the EP “Country Drag Strip” makes you want to grab the dog, grab your friends and load into the truck and cruise on down the road, singing loud and strong. (with the Billy J White air freshener tag that came with the CD, flying in the rearview mirror) “She Has the Only Heart” captures the whimsical, romantic side of this future superstar, and CB’s personal favourites  “Rebel Without a Cause”, “The Girl Im Looking For”, “BBQ” are truly great tunes.

In the true country tradition of great male vocalists such as George Strait, Alan Jackson and even a little Travis Tritt, Billy J encompasses the brilliance of today’s best.

If you don’t find Billy singing, songwriting, or playing guitar, then look for him under the nearest hot-rod, whistling and wrenching.

Watch out for this rising star – he is sure to be shining bright in the near future.

Sandy Graham


Paul Reddick: Wishbone

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Independent
              
On which the durable blues shouter reinvents himself via the trad wayward wandering man persona.

Like the press jive says, “ Wishbone is a mythical character who walks through the night, meets all the lonely people, discovers strangers in strange places and keeps moving”. Full credit, Reddick does a fine job of fleshing out the ghostly outline.

The opener “Photograph” sets the roughed-up and ramblin’ mood in gravel-gargling tones just down the road from Tom Waits’. The backing unit is fully in the moment, propping up Reddick with a splintered wall of spooky swamp rock presaging things to come. Thi is the vibe sustained by Reddick’s backing crew of genre stalwarts including guitarist Kyle Ferguson drummer Kevin Warren and keyboardist/vocalist Maia Davies.

From there it’s onto dusty roads and tales of strange folk in straight situations and vice versa. For local blues fans, think Catl with the theatrical flair of Hugh Dillon.

Mares of Thrace: The Pilgrimage

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Sonic Unyon Metal


Heavy as Motorhead and hotter than Nicki Minaj, the wimmin of Mares Of Thrace will kick your ass and rip your debit card should you be caught up in The Pilgrimage. It’s the second album from the Calgarian duo of guitarist/vocalist Thérèse Lanz (who plays a custom built baritone guitar with both guitar and bass pickups) and drummer Stef MacKichan.


The pair were core members of now-defunct Kilbourne and the good effects of all that playing together is reflected in the high quality of the musicianship. MOT likes to tackle large themes; transformation, journeys, the construction of internal landscapes. In doing so they're evolving a creepy, hypnotic doom drone, snarling with slashes of noise rock sound that’s getting them a significant profile.


Produced Sanford Parker chose to focus on the musicianship, creating a wraparound sound at once dense and spacious while still allowing for the tasty bits to shine through. Lanz’s custom guitar creates for a menacing soundscape with rolling waves of doom metal riffage, perfectly complimented by drummer MacKichan knack for swift mood and time changes which at times set up some awesome dynamics.

PS I Love You: Death Dreams

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Paper Bag


The heavy heavies are alive and well in Canada and about to bomb the rest of the continent. Leading the charge straight outa Kingston is PS I Love You, a duo with a sound big as Mastodon and in love with the madness of guitar rock. When axeman Paul Saulnier gets to wailing, he steps way outside the canon of heavy metal to references diverse as J.Mascis and Tom Verlaine. Living up to its title, Death Dreams showcases the duo’s dark sides, in many ways the flip to 2010’s debut Meet Me at the Muster Station. That stomping, beer foaming wreck room party of an album put them on the radar courtesy of a shortlisting for the Polaris Prize and cemented by glowing reviews all up and down the Webscape.


So they could have easily dropped Meet Me… 2.0 and it likely would have been well received. Nuff respect for not doing the obvious and instead, digging down deeper and darker. The lyrics drag ennui down to the level of despair, even as the guitars alternately grind and soar, fuzzed-out and wash wah-ed as that massive drum sound does things to your sternum.

Pear:Sweet N’ Gritty

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(Chronograph Records)


They’re a little bit country, a little bit city, a little bit sweet and a little bit gritty, so  ‘Sweet N’ Gritty’ is a perfect title for this new CD by PEAR, a 13 song collection produced by Denis and  Lynae Dufresne and Nashville veteran, Noah Gordon.


The husband and wife duo of  Denis and Lynae Dufresne  have put together such a fine CD from song selection to production, to performance it’s hard to believe this is their debut effort into the full length album arena.

Steamboat: Rules

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Independent

Steamboat is a seven-piece band with retro soul inclinations, made up of folks with serious cred as sessions players for luminaries like Sandro Perri and Alex Lukashevsky. So while the creativeness is potential, the musicianship is guaranteed. Not that they ever let that get in the way of the good times on this debut album. Guided by keysman and lead singer Matt McLaren, Steamboat kicks it with all the rollicking exuberance of a throw-together jam band.

McLaren’s vocal derives from Guess Who-era Burton Cummings, a perfect fit for the material’s Seventies bent. Shit gets really sublime when the clean and razor-sharp soprano pipes of  Maylee Todd kick in. The hot ticket here is “Don’t Try To Fool Me,”, the vocals in perfect complementary synch rididing atop a wicked catchy groove.

Helping keep the grooves deep and funky, bassist Mike Smith and axeman Nick Taylor, ably abetted by a dance-inciting passages from the horn section, coming together best on “Hey Marvin” and “Chains.”

Recorded at 6 Nassau Studios and Hallamusic in a co-production between the band and Jeff McMurrich (Fucked Up, Owen Pallett, Constantines), Rules emerges as an engaging collection of old school, ass shaking blue eyed soul.

Possibly the first wall-to-wall party animal album of the summer.

James Lizzard

Bill King - Gloryland (Tales From the South)

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Acclaimed pianist, composer, photographer, musical director and producer - what more can you say about Bill King? You can say this new CD is his best recorded offering yet.
Pulling from his southern roots (King is actually American, but settled here in Canada) this CD is dedicated to his family and their heritage.


Bill King is respectful of his long line of Southern history. "Gloryland traces the roots of our family from the Ohio River, all the way down to Tennessee where my Dad was born, and the hills of Kentucky over through to Pennsylvania and to other parts of the South. This is where we spent our childhood, and the trips we made, visiting relatives and friends, and everything of that nature. The sound at that time was the Grand Old Opry, it was also Folk, Roots, Blues, some Jazz and a mixture of everything, a bit of 'mountain music', violins, fiddles, but that was all absorbed in this type of music."


Without going track by track (you have to listen to the whole CD to experience the musical journey) it is Bill King at his best. 'The Devil Has 666 Fingers', 'Gloryland' and 'One Blues Dress Hanging in the Wind' are my personal favourites. It is hard to chose favourites, though, as it really is a CD that should be experienced from beginning to end.

West Side Story at The Toronto Centre for the Arts

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May 8 - June 3, 2012
Submitted by Cashbox Canada
Photo Credits: Carol Rosegg


Fifty five years ago, a contemporary musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet premiered on Broadway and changed the face of musical theatre forever. Dancap Productions presents the first national tour of the smash hit Broadway revival of West Side Story running from May 8 - June 3, 2012 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.


Combining operatic vocals with ballet inspired dancing, The Bernstein and Sondheim score is considered to be one of Broadway's finest featuring songs from the play like the famous gang scene with 'The Jet Song', 'Something's Coming', 'Tonight', 'America' 'I Feel Pretty' and the unforgettable and haunting 'Somewhere'. Although Tony (Ross Lekites) and Maria (Evy Ortiz) are obviously the stars of the ensemble, Anita (Michelle Arevena) and Riff (Drew Foster) Bernardo (German Santiago) held the audience captive as well.


Bryan Adams ....... Still Wakin' Up the Neighbours!

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Story:  Don Graham

Canadian icon Bryan Adams hit the Air Canada Centre stage in Toronto as part of his 20 cities, 20 shows , 20 years tour on May 3, 2012, to a sold out crowd of adoring fans.

This is the first time in 20 years that Bryan Adams has toured his home and native land from coast to coast and it was obvious from his performance that he hasn't lost a step delivering his raspy, gutsy vocals in the same keys as he recorded them all those years ago. Adams is still playing the searing guitar solos that carried him to the top of his craft.

The 30 song set was an awesome reminder of just how many hits this guy had. The minute he strolled out onto the massive ACC stage the crowd belonged to him and he didn't disappoint. How rewarding for him to play to 20,000 folks who knew every word, every note of every song he played. Especially when he pointed out " I remember playing on Yonge Street in Toronto when the bouncer would walk me from the so-called "dressing room" to the stage where I would play for three people!"

Small Town Stories – Carli & Julie Kennedy

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They say good things come in small packages so ‘Small Town Stories’, part of the EP from the beautiful Kennedy twins, is no exception.


These native BC beauties have it all; talent, charisma and good solid songs. Carli reminds me of Nancy Wilson (Heart) with her solid rhythms on guitar and gutsy solos. Julie charms the sweet sounds out of her violin, and together their vocal harmonies bring it all home.


‘Country Life’ describes their own story, ’Already Miss You’  has you feeling that hungry feeling of romance, when you leave the person and just can’t wait to see them again, ’Come Away With Me’ says it all, ‘Front Row’ has great musicality and clever lyrics, but my personal favourite is the title track ‘Small Town Stories’ that truly captures the essence of living in a small town, and all the comfort and security that goes along with knowing your neighbours and the place you were born in.


These two dynamic artists, each with their own strength of talent, have offered a small glimpse of what a full CD will bring us in the future, but in the meantime, get online and get a copy of ‘Small Town Stories’. It is sure to turn into a collector’s item in the very near future.


Sandy Graham

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