Reviews

The Coast: Queen Cities

The Coast Queen Cities

Aporia

On this sophomore album, The Coast don’t coast at all, in fact, such is the intensity and desire to jam as much info as possible onto the tracks they occasionally cross over into bluster.
Carrying the flag for big guitar rock, this quartet is Ben Spurr (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ian Fosbery (guitar, keyboards, vocals), brothers Luke (bass, vocals) and Jordan Melchiorre (drums) and their 2008 debut Expatriate made waves on the indie rock scene.

They’re out of Toronto, on the Lake Ontario coast. where they holed up in their rehearsal space writing and working on new material for much of ’09. . In November they returned to the scene of the debut album, the Lincoln County Social Club, and laid down 14 new tracks. In colaboration with long-time pal and and producer Chris Stringer (We're Marching On, Ohbijou, Rush) they cooked it down to the 9 tunes that make up Queen Cities.

This is thinking man’s guitar rock the way Rush used to be thinkiing man’s prog rock.Loaded with shimmering guitars, clever chord changes and the odd keyboard tossed in for extra texture, these songs have links to the work of such proven floor fillers as The Stills and The Trews.

There are plenty of hooks, grabby melody bits and shout-out choruses to be found amongst the fuzzy guitars and heavy drum mix. Standout songs like "Fire Out" and the solidly impressive ”Mother Tongue" will carry this band far.

Day 2 Déjà Vu: Lady Liberty

Day2 Déjà Vu

Unsigned

There’s a Nirvana-ish sense of mission around this trio, the sense they’re feeling their way through Soundgarden on the way to Nirvana? The signifying starts with the album art for debut disc Lady Liberty. As designed by Jonathan Ball, it depicts the Statue of Liberty grasping an oil rig for a torch with lotsa dollars plastered to her oil-sodden body. It harkens back to the days of vinyl and finely detailed album art. In the same vein, all song lyrics are included, much nerdy production detail and just to let y’all know this is heavy stuff, the Parental Advisory sticker

The good news is that once the disc starts spinning, within a couple of tracks it’s evident there’s enough quality content to forgive or maybe justify the fronting.

Day2 Déjà Vu are Jeff Fulford (lead vcls, gtrs), Sean MacLean (lead vcls, bass) and Justin Fulford (drums, percussion, backing vcls) and a big part of their punch comes from having dual lead singers. This ensues that both the sweet and the rough get the appropriate delivery and indicates a band with a reach beyond the indie rock clichés they occasional play into. Which is pretty much par for the course on a young band’s debut album and helps highlight just how hot the good stuff is.

Tia McGraff-Canada’s Americana Roots Sweetheart Releases New Album Diversity

Tia McGraff

By Bill Delingat

Tia McGraff - Canada’s “soul stirring,” A/C Americana roots sweetheart - is making her way back into the spotlight with her latest album, Diversity,released on August 24 through her very own Bandana Records. Produced by Tommy Parham (Come Early Morning-Ashley Judd, Rocks You Can't Move-Lee Greenwood), Diversity is McGraff’s fifth studio album, and the follow-up to 2007’s critically acclaimed Day In My Shoes, nominated for Best Alt Country Recording of the Year at the 2008 Hamilton Music Awards. McGraff explains the new release’s title as a representation of her abilities; “My musical style has always been a potpourri of lyrical and musical influences, and the songs on this album represent my range.”

Writing and recording since the age of 19, Tia McGraff’s uplifting, heart-warming songs have been garnering her strong fan acclaim from her beginnings in the industry. As one devoted fan once passionately declared, "Tia’s music makes your heart rest!" The Port Dover, ON native released two albums on Bandana Records, and four music videos, which were showcased on Country Music Television (CMT), before deciding to make the move to Nashville, TN.

Soon after her arrival in Nashville, McGraff met songwriter/producer Tommy Parham, who became her partner in life and on stage. The duo quickly became a musical force to be reckoned with, as McGraff and Parham became a pairing which reached out to the world with their love for each other and for their music. With time, they’ve not only found touring success, but also commercial success.

ARCADE FIRE: The Suburbs

Arcade Fire photo by Gabriel Jones

ARCADE FIRE
The Suburbs

(Merge)

This third sonic document from the biggest indie band on the planet brings to mind the line about Moll Flanders ‘ always known to pour a man a full measure, and a wee drop more’. Never one to skimp on the theatrics nor shrink from flirting with the overblown, major dude Win Butler isn’t about to change now but does demonstrate a newfound suss in knowing when to hold ‘em. As a result, the AF’s demonstrate, most notably on “”City With No Children” and the sparse perfection of ‘Wasted Hours”. a level of restraint you tend to forget in this seven-headed band.
Big picture, this is Arcade Fire deconstructing the suburbs, turning over fragments and slivers of that lifestyle and the effects of its urban and internal geographies. It’s all meat for the grinder, the light and the dark, the sharp and the sweet, the alienated and the in-charge, dragged out of bed, cold water splashed in its face and yielding up some monster moments.

And it comes with a twist of wry. Unlike its predecessors, this album doesn’t wrap it all up in a grand conclusion. At the end of Butler’s shakedown of all things suburban, the points made and questions raised rattle around like a drawer full of dead I Pods. Suburban banality, corrosive ennui and what might have been never sounded more epic. Especially on the supremely full bodied “Sprawl 11(Mountains beyond Mountains) which gets elevated behind some Gospel tinged keyboards, courtesy of Will Butler’s love affair with vintage analog synths.

Rockit88: Sweet Sugar Cane

Rockit 88

Unsigned

This is a great album to have on in the background when folks come over. The sound is at once so unique and familiar that the guessing games as to whose album it is and the provenance of the songs is bound to break out. Maybe it’s just my living room, but not a one of my pals who came by called it the music of a local band right off.
Welcome to Sweet Sugar Cane, only the second album from T.Dot blues/roots rock band Rockit88 and it’s linked to the same pedigree as the music of The Band and early Van Morrison. Fronted by dual singing songwriters Neil Chapman and Bill King, Sweet Sugar Cane is the game changer for the band and the In Door to a whole new identity as an original act.
As such, the stakes are high but on most tracks, the band raises the bar then easily soars over it.
The album opens with 35 seconds of Southern fried Gershwin-ish piano riff, which nicely sets up ‘Summertime Is Here’, a mid-temp invitation to party down summer style, sprinkled with slide guitar licks like stardust and the propulsive drumming of Jim Casson. From there it’s on to all manner of original material inflected with country blues (‘I Never Knew The Blues’), swamp rock touched by barrelhouse piano (‘Brother, Sister’). Among ballads so American Gothic stately you can almost see the moss hanging off them is the brilliant r'n'b infused ‘Angels Crying’ and the show-stopping title track, dusted with the kind of organ lines which link it to genre gems like ‘Long Black Veil’.

Dave Caley: It's A Long Way Back

Dave Caley

Dave Caley may have been born in Blackpool, England but he sounds as Country as anyone on the Grand Ole Opry. This CD contains 10 songs and "God's Grand Ole Opry," is my favorite. The lyrics of this song pay tribute to the legendary performers of the Opry that have passed on. Dave seems comfortable on both the up-tempo songs like, "Free For All Friday Night," to the tearful, "It's A Long Way Back." True Country Music here folks on all the tracks.

Rusty Russell
4/4 stars

JOEY GLENN: Driven By Emotion

Joey Glenn

COUNTRY
JOEY GLENN
Driven By Emotion

"Driven By Emotion" is what the music industry calls NEW COUNTRY.  This girl can sing.  My favorite on this collection of hits is, "I Really Miss Seein' You."

Her vocal approach and complex textures and the ability to belt out power notes (as the music commands) gives her the ability to be versatile enough to have crossover appeal in the blues, rock and pop. Other songs that are in tune with today's themes are, "I Need a Man, and The Look." This CD is a must for the legion of fans that enjoy today's Country sounds.

 Ten great tracks on this project and a must for fans of "New" Country.
 

Rusty Russell

THE FABULOUS FOUR GUYS: 40 Of Our Very Best

THE FABULOUS FOUR GUYS

COUNTRY
THE FABULOUS FOUR GUYS
40 Of Our Very Best

Remember the saying “What’s old is New Again?” Well that is the best way to describe the most recent release from the Fabulous Four Guys. They have taken forty of their very best recordings, some from their days as members of the Grand Ole Opry (which covered a span of over 32 years) and put it into a 2-CD collection.

If you are a traditional country music fan you are going to want to give this a listen. The Fabulous Four Guys were known for their dynamic stage presence and professional showmanship and it all shines through in this collection. It just doesn’t get any better than this! From classics such as “How Married Are You Mary Ann”, their signature song which was written by Bill Anderson, to their own personal take on the Springsteen hit “Fire” every cut in this collection brings pure listening pleasure.

5/5 stars
Rusty Russell

BILLY ALLEN: Keep On Loving Me

BILLY ALLEN Keep On Loving Me Cover

COUNTRY (Reviewed 8/6/10)
BILLY ALLEN
Keep On Loving Me

KMA Records (Nashville) keeps producing top of the line, quality acts and Billy Allen is no exception. He lists the likes of Wilson Pickett and Merle Haggard as two of his influences and you can here in his vocal performance.

From an upbeat tune to a traditional country ballad you can hear and feel Allen’s
connection to the music he performs. His take on “Green, Green Grass of Home” is
not gold – it’s platinum!

4/5 stars
Rusty Russell

BOBBY CARLSON: Bobby Carlson

bobby-carlson.jpg

COUNTRY (Reviewed 8/6/10)
BOBBY CARLSON
Bobby Carlson

Bobby Carlson’s self titled CD is New Country with an occasional sound that borrows from the past.  Bobby Carlson glides from track to track with ease and a style that simply sounds like what you hear on Country radio stations these days.  “She’s Got My Heart” is bound to be found on the charts soon, if it isn’t already.

The themes of the songs vary as they should on a CD but regardless of whether it is up-tempo or a tear jerking ballad Bobby handles the vocals with perfection. This is a must-hear.

4/5 stars
Rusty Russell

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