Reviews

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.

Emm Gryner: Torrential

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Independent
Submitted by Lenny Stoute

So this is the album on which Emm Gryner completes the transition from trad-rooted folkie, through altpop siren to full on ‘singer/songwriter’. This is a genre in which every album is labeled ‘deeply personal’ and most songs come from a reflective place. You’re gonna get that from Emm too, but thankfully, she hasn’t lost the edge she used to chill the punks in Queen West clubs back in the day. So yeah, there’s pain aplenty, some rueful looking back and every now and then, that edge from an artist who’s never been one to go quietly.

The bulk of the songs quickly blow by, nitpicking at relationships and focusing on balancing the challenges of being a mother of two and a fiercely creative individual. Working again with producer Joe Corcoran guaranteed the voice would be front and centre in the best ways and Gryner never disappoints.

Whether it be the snappy pop of first single “Pioneer,” which she says is “a song about frustration with a fast-moving life. Motivated by the reality that a vacation used to be a trip somewhere, and now my idea of a holiday would be chucking my phone into a river,” the hooky groove of “Purge” to the countrified duet “So Easy”, with (astronaut) Chris Hadfield, Gryner balances the bitter and the sweet on the razor’s edge of the in-between.

Timber Timbr Hot Dreams

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Arts & Crafts
Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Timber Timbre has proven aces at creating a cool strain of American Gothic using a spooky folk template. Much the way The Band turned the same trick for another generation using raw blues. A press release sez this is the band's most vividly cinematic album to date, as front man Taylor Kirk and collaborator Simon Trottier "daub vibrant colour across the band's ever-evolving palette, connecting arid western to plodding horror with the pomp of Hollywood phantasm."

So you’ve been warned but fear not, the guys don’t step all that far from the brooding, inverted template they’ve owned from the get go. What they do is drop in enough odd twists, colourful interjections and guest shots (bows to Colin Stetson, Tasseomancy's Romy Lightman and Fiver/the Highest Order's Simone Schmidt) to shake up the formula.

So ‘Run From Me’ gets coloured with Roy Orbison-esque shadows and references in Taylor Kirk’s vocal, then heads north to close out with an Eighties style synth wash. ‘Beat The Drum Slowly’ starts off sounding like you’d think from the title, and continues marching on in funeral style until it drops into a startling, jittery electronic landscape.

Johnny DeMarco Living Out Our Dreams

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Johnny DeMarco is a songwriter/performer who understands the value of a well crafted song. Be it a ballad…soundtrack or a rocker, Johnny’s powerful, melodic and anthem oriented radio-ready songs are jam packed with attitude, honesty and integrity. His intent on creating a catalogue of timeless musical works that address various and diverse themes are evident, and reach out to people from all walks of life.

Johnny’s newly-released album, “Living Out Our Dreams”, offers a distinct and diverse character to each song. With dynamic memorable melodies, moving string arrangements and soaring chorus(s) “Living Out Our Dreams” is delivered with emotion, passion and intensity and much thought is given to the importance of the lyrical content and its message. The album was recorded at The Armoury, Premier Studio and the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC and features some of Canada’s and International finest musicians.

“Living Out Your Dreams” is the opening and title track, and grabs you ‘right from the start’ sounding like Bryan Adams with fresh vocals and optimistic about love, “Sunflower” has reggae meeting rock, with a raspy vocal and answering vocals, while “Never Gonna Be Good Enough” is whimsical about love lost but still trying to let reconcile the end of the relationship; sad and sweet, while“I’ll Wait” could very well be the answer song to that one.

Mike Goudreau Band – T.G.I.F.

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Every now and then a CD comes our way here at Cashbox Canada that grabs you, and you want to put your player on Repeat. Mike Goudreau and his band did just that to me with his latest recording – T.G.I.F.

This CD is the original jump, jive and wail, from swing to country bluegrass to blues – Mike Goudreau covers it all – and with ease and believability in each genre. This Quebec artist has transformed himself many times, performing for many years as the leader of the Boppin’ Blues Band, solo and with trios, but this new offering is the best yet.

Born in 1965 in Newport, Vermont into a musical family with an English mother and a French-Canadian father, Mike Goudreau picked up his first guitar at age 14 and he hasn't stopped playing since. His early influences included the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and later, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Powder Blues and Downchild - to name a few. Such diverse interests help to explain why Mike is comfortable in so many musical genres, especially jazz and blues.

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