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This article was published 15/1/2015 (921 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dan Mangan + Blacksmith
Club Meds (Arts & Crafts)
CANUCK singer/songwriter Dan Mangan continues his evolution with the invigorating Club Meds. His inspired band allows Mangan to flesh out some of his wilder musical imaginings by creating a conspicuous din that ventures deeper into progressive experimentation than almost anything this artist has released before.
Initial single Vessel is rhythmically akin to a clockwork toy train with a bent key and twisted wheel until it settles into its own cyclical groove. Synths bleep and blorp and repeated metronomic guitar figures build sturdy patterns. Mangan's deep voice supports the tasteful poesy of the lyrics admirably. XVI delivers dense layers of sound that build and buffer each other as tinkling sounds drip down in the aural distance.
Mangan should continue to investigate this boiling undercurrent of creativity. As long as he stays with his meds he should be fine. ****
DOWNLOAD THIS: Mouthpiece
-- Jeff Monk
THERE'S plenty to like about Meghan Trainor's debut. The set serves up all the doo-wop sass that hooked fans on the singer-songwriter's Grammy-nominated hit, All About That Bass.
Jump to almost any track on Title and you'll find a similar juxtaposition of cheeky lyrics stamped over malt shop-inspired production. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem: by album's end, it seems Trainor and producer Kevin Kadish have beaten their brand of shooby-doo flavour to death.
Sure, the throwback vibe has worked to set Trainor, 21, apart from her radio competition, and the sound works on second single Lips Are Movin' and Dear Future Husband, but too much of that good thing turns out to be bad over the course of the album.
The most refreshing song is the subdued Like I'm Gonna Lose You, featuring John Legend. Not only is it a nice change of pace sonically, but the track gives her vocals the main stage without a catchy hook or quirky production yanking away the spotlight. ** 1/2
DOWNLOAD THIS: Dear Future Husband
-- Melanie J. Sims, The Associated Press
Uptown Special (Columbia)
MARK Ronson has always had a good ear and good taste as a producer and DJ, but he didn't show the same skill with his own music until now. His fourth album, Uptown Special, thrillingly reworks late SSRq70s/early SSRq80s funk into something faithful to its influence while moving dramatically away from anything else in pop music today.
Uptown Funk, his chart-topping collaboration with Bruno Mars, is the best example of what Ronson has accomplished. You can almost hear the echoes of James Brown and the Gap Band in the music and in Mars' swaggering delivery -- it can hold its own against the source material.
Ronson manages that trick several times. Feel Right, with Mystikal at the helm, feels like it could have dropped straight from Brown's Apollo days, while on Daffodils, with Tame Impala's Kevin Parker on vocals, he builds a sleek funk marvel with lyrics co-authored by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon. ****
DOWNLOAD THIS: Daffodils
-- Glenn Gamboa, Newsday
No Regrets (Anzic)
As New York singer Melissa Stylianou makes clear in the opening tune of her new standards-heavy release, recording these songs is Nice Work If You Can Get It.
The Canadian expat and her core band of pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Matt Wilson capture the essence of small-group swing on 11 tracks ranging from Nice Work to Monk's I Mean You. Alto saxophonist Billy Drewes and clarinetist Anat Cohen enhance two tracks each.
The ballad I Got It Bad swings at an oh so slow tempo; Somebody's On My Mind is a delight with Stylianou and Cohen's moody delivery; and Cohen's wistful clarinet enriches I'll Never Be the Same. Down by the Salley Gardens, a W.B. Yeats poem done as a duet by Stylianou and Wilson, is a nice surprise among the standards.
I Mean You isn't exactly American Songbook material, but Stylianou and Barth turn the boppish Monk tune into a swinging vocal treat. ****
DOWNLOAD THIS: Somebody's On My Mind
-- Chris Smith