Album Reviews

Andrea Ramolo: The Shadows And The Cracks

Andrea Ramolo

Thorniac/independent

 

Toronto’s Andrea Ramolo isn’t one for staying still too long. When on the road, which is often, she plays between 250-300 dates a year. Having cut her teeth on the folk scene playing with the likes of Jim Cuddy and Fred Eaglesmith and released a folkified debut album (Thank You For The Ride), it’s no surprise that the followup is something very different.


The album art’s a good indicator. The New Age girl in the floral print running through the meadow from ‘Thank You For The Ride’ is now all tattered jeans, skimpy undershirt holding up a lantern in a dark barn, almost daring you to come in.


Hot, real hot and totally in step with Ramolo’s new Joplinesque persona,  stompin’ and heavy breathing all over the tracks on ‘The Shadows and The Cracks’. Produced by Tim Thorney, who’s been this way before with Alanis Morissette, the album’s a good mix of radio-friendly alt blues rock and tunes designed to spotlight the lady’s pipes, nicely curated by Thorney who comes up with a mix that’s now-sounding enough to dodge the retro bullet.


The standard guitar, bass, drums and keys line-up keeps the rock moving along at a decent clip and backing vocalist Cindy Doire ups the flavour ante whenever she’s on the mic but it's all about Andrea and how she sells the tunes. And sell ‘em she can. 


The Dears: Degeneration Street

The Dears

Pheromone Records


You know the music’s gonna be spit hot when a band proudly takes the ‘comeback album’ tag. With Degeneration Street , The Dears have delivered a album which not only marks a stunning comeback but is quickly building online consensus as the best album the Montreal sextet have ever done.

 


With original guitarists Patrick Krief and Rob Benvie back on the team and collaborative songwriting in effect, there’s fire and urgency afoot.It’s as if The Dears were tapping into their younger, more ferocious and chance-taking selves. It’s all there in the blazing opening trio of tunes, “Omega Dog”.,5 Chords” and “Blood”, lotsa jagged guitars, dense drumming and Murray Lightburn’s vocals, dripping with reverb and delight. 


As he demonstrates on “Omega Dog" the old school soul falsetto is still intact  as is the chance-taking thing. 


“Thrones”, for instance, could have gone horribly wrong going with its New Wave-ish instrumentation and open-faced lyrics but by tune’s end it’s grown into something more rough’n’ready, matching the feel of the rest of the material.


Holly Dish: Dishology

Holly Dish

Unsigned

*****

When you first see the cover of Holly Dish – Dishology it reminds you of the gorgeous long-legged pin-up girls of the 1940’s, but with the sweet, innocent face of Holly Dish staring out at you. Then you listen to her sing. 


Although Dish would be categorized as a rap/hip hop type of singer, she is much more than that. She is a poet, a lyricist that grabs you with amazing rhyme patterns that you scramble to try to keep up with as she sings them to you with a pulsating beat.


The opening song, ‘Panic Now’, is a sure-fire club hit, with nostalgic semi-wha wha guitar licks by Ed Stevens, and a dance music bed that should be on every dj’s list for play.


‘Go So Far’ has a great line in it about ‘If I speak so soft you can’t hear’ which everyone has felt in a relationship from time to time. With the answer-vocals of Voyce, this is another great tune ‘dished’ out by this new vibrant talent.


‘Rise Up’ (Ladies Anthem) is encouraging to ‘rise up ladies, stand up girl, wp man up, women, wo man up, women’, while complicated lyrics make you try to understand the anthem this singer wants all of her gender to take on.


Canadian New Music At MIDEM

Jevon Rudder CD

Story: Cashbox Canada


 


In the thick of all the hype’n’hustle at MIDEM, which of course is where any serious player needs to be, it’s all too easy to miss out on the smaller gems. In the spirit of public service to all the attendees at MIDEM, here’s a short tip list to some music you really should hear while you’re there.




Jevon Rudder 


The Good, The Bad and The Lucky


Unsigned


 


This CD contains the sounds of the music genre called, “New Country.”  The vocals from track to track are as consistent as I have ever heard from this brand of music.  After years of being the drummer in several bands, Jevon has stepped into the Artist/Performer/Songwriter position and is carrying himself very well.  




The current single, “Country Style,” is taking the airwaves like a Texas tornado and other memorable cuts include: “Apologize”, “Bring It On”, and “ I Want It Back.”  This man pulls off a ballad with ease but shines like a new diamond on the up-tempo, sometimes sassy themes he writes about.  


 

Nollaig Shona Duit ( Merry Christmas) From the Emerald Isle

Linda Welby Christmas Child

By Don Graham 

 

‘A Christmas Child’  the holiday single by Irish songbird Linda Welby, on Bullet Records, has all the makings of  becoming a new Christmas “classic” to be played annually for many years to come. 

 

Most of the newer Christmas songs of the twentieth and twenty first century are great songs, no doubt, but they leave out the real meaning of the day. They talk a lot about Christmas trees, shopping, being home for the holidays and being blue at Christmas. I suppose there is, after all, plenty of ‘Silent Night’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘O’ Holy Night’ versions to fill the airwaves, but Linda has managed to create a song that talks about the kids being excited about Santa Claus but that this is the day that Jesus Christ, Our Saviour was born. 

 

The clever incorporation of ‘O’ Come All Ye Faithful’ into the mix and the clean production, complete with heavenly bells,  and a warm and honest vocal by Miss Welby, serve to make this song a new Christmas favourite. In short, Linda Welby has managed to put Christ back in Christmas.  Merry CHRISTmas everyone and thank you Linda for this great song!

 

www.lindawelby.com

www.entertainmentmusicgroup.ca

The Good The Bad & The Lucky – Jevon Rudder

Jevon Rudder CD

Unsigned

 

This CD contains the sounds of the music genre called, “New Country.”  The vocals from track to track are as consistent as I have ever heard from this brand of music.  After years of being the drummer in several bands, Jevon has stepped into the Artist/Performer/Songwriter position and is carrying himself very well.  


The current single, “Country Style,” is taking the airwaves like a Texas tornado and other memorable cuts include: “Apologize”, “Bring It On”, and “ I Want It Back.”  This man pulls off a ballad with ease but shines like a new diamond on the up-tempo, sometimes sassy themes he writes about.  


Of special interest is the song “What Am I To You”, in which Rudder, himself an Army Reservist, addresses the makeup of the new war veterans, most often young men in their 20s, and the need to pay them due respect.


Jevon’s music should be included on any Country Music radio station’s playlist.  It is a perfect fit.

 

Rusty Russell

 

Rating 5/5

Michelle Wright - A Wright Christmas

Michelle Wright

Savannah Music


 


In the early Nineties, Michelle Wright was Canada’s top female country singer, and deservedly so. With a string of hits that included ‘Take It Like A Man’, ‘The Answer Is Yes’, ‘Guitar Talk’ ,’Nobody’s Girl’ and ‘I Surrender’, Michelle firmly embedded herself as a top female country artist. Blessed with a strong voice, great interpretive vocal skills and captivating stage presence, it was only a matter of time before she resurfaced.


 


Her latest offering on Savannah Music, A Wright Christmas, with it’s mixture of Country Pop,Jazz and Easy Listening styles further shows the broad range of her sweet voice. This is the perfect CD to put on while  decorating the Christmas tree  and the perfect choice to create the festive mood in your home.


 


Among the standard classics such as ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ is a song written by fellow Canadian singer/songwriter Patricia Conroy, ‘I Know Santa’s Been Here’.


 


Produced at the Grotto studio in Brentwood, Tennessee by Tony Haselden and Russ Zavison,  this CD is a must have Christmas CD for all Michelle Wright fans and fans of good music everywhere. It will have you dreaming of a Wright Christmas.

Garth Hudson: Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration Of The Band

Garth Hudson CD

Curve/Sony


A Canadian concept whose time has come curated by the originator best equipped to do the job. Accordingly, this is not a ‘greatest hits’ project and Garth Hudson’s choice of tunes from The Band to be re-worked by an eclectic crew of Canadians, is bound to furrow a brow or two.


And unless you’re a Raine Maida fan it’s not all good news. For the most part, the match of singer and song makes for tasty treats in a variety of styles.

 

The Sadies shine throughout and do a damn fine job of re-creating the barroom backing band spirit of the early The Band. Never better than on a rip roarin’ ride through ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ fronting Neil Young as dude bawls and shreds it like the joint’s ablaze.


Then they turn on a dime with nine cents change to help Mary Margaret O’Hara conjure up the spooky vibe of ‘Out Of The Blue’. 

 

Elsewhere, Bruce Cockburn brings his A game to ‘Sleeping’, little-known Road Hammers funk up ‘Yazzo Street Scandal’ courtesy of inspired work from the backline and Chantal Kreviazuk does a great job of representing the household by drenching ‘Tears Of rage’ in womanly soul. Underpinning every track, just as he did with the originals, is Garth Hudson’s piano and keyboard playing, weaving the connecting threads between then and this.


Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Johnny Max Band

Pour Soul Records


The gentleman known as Johnny Max is Canada’s best-loved blues chameleon. He plays it out fronting the Johnny Max Band, an ever-changing who’s who of bluesy sidemen, united in the service of the song.

 

On this album though, there are signs this particular line-up may be in for the long U-Haul. For one big thing, the band gets full co-credits on production and songwriting, so behind the bandleader are: Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass, John Findlay on guitar and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. For added colour, throw in a four-piece brass section, a backing vocalist and additional percussion and the whole thing cooks with a decidedly N’Awlins gumbo feel.


Right from the get go, the rolling barrelhouse piano lines O’Brien deploys on ‘Daddy’s Little Girl” lets you know how it’s gonna be. The swamp blues vibe hangs like Spanish moss on 'Too Many Fish' and 'One Day’ flexes the hard muscle beneath the slow grind. 

 

THE MERCY NOW: SELF CONTROL

The Mercy

Unsigned

 

We knew it was just a matter of time before the spiritual children of Ian Blurton started making albums. And looky, this crew of grit rockers even went the extra mile in getting the Most Serene Blurton himself to produce their debut biscuit and he brings it clean and loud.


Still and all, many times we’ve been fooled again by kickass live acts that can’t cut it in the studio.


Well rejoice, this isn’t one of those. This is the other thing, a band that has honed its act on the hard rock circuit and with the help of The Great Loud One, jammed the juice onto the plastic. 


The band say their sound’s a virile mix of classic hard rock, soul and garage rock, and it can all show up in the same song. That sense of impending head-on musical collisions is what keeps The Mercy Now from being just another bar band mining classic rock.


The soul’s mostly from belter Russ Fernandes, former Shikasta shouter; he’s rougher than that but owing a debut to Jagger; the blues rock courtesy of dual guitarists David Viva and Adam Burnett.


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