This week's singles
Smack My Bitch Up (Noisia Remix) / Breathe (Zeds Dead Remix) (XL)
In celebration of the upcoming 15th-anniversary (!) re-release of The Fat of the Land, two of the band's biggest tracks get killer contemporary makeovers. The Noisia mix of Smack My Bitch Up leaves the original mostly intact, but somehow manages to make it sound even harder, while Toronto duo Zeds Dead give Breathe a cranium-crushing, goosebump-inducing dubstep treatment, for which the first minute alone is worth the price of admission. HHHH1/2
Fly (Listen Deep Records)
Gratingly simplistic electro, annoying auto-tune overload, and one word repeating over and over again (did you guess "fly?" Because it's "fly"). In other words, exactly what you'd expect from a member of the Black Eyed Peas. HH
Got Me Good (Epic)
The latest from her forthcoming One Woman Army album is a bouncy dancefloor outing that sounds strikingly similar to her 2010 single Gimme Dat, and gives more than a subtle nod to '80s era Janet Jackson. Familiar but fun. HHH
Guap (Island Def Jam)
Guap, for the record, apparently means money. And on this lighthearted, steel-drum-tinged bumper, Big Sean boasts about having made guap (right now), currently making guap (right now), and continuing to make guap (right now) in the near future. A rap song about money? How odd.HHH
-- reviewed by Steve Adams
Massey Hall (Universal Music Canada)
With former Guess Who vocalist/keyboardist Burton Cummings' recent emancipation from full-time occupancy in 'Peg City we are now minus one official rock star to bump into getting takeout at Pizza Place in Grant Park Shopping Centre. First of all, the moderately entertaining live set should have been recorded in Winnipeg. How cool would the album cover have been emblazoned "Burt at the Burt"? As it stands, we get a relatively quiet Toronto audience politely applauding Cummings and his band delivering a greatest hits-heavy set that will please fans, but Massey Hall doesn't crackle with any substantial energy; in fact, it kind of falls flat. The only thrill comes from the few personal introductions Burton provides, which we suppose is better than former mate Randy Bachman's fondness for reaching for the windbag in concert every chance he gets. Seventeen tracks, including a full range of GW and Burt solo tracks like Star Baby, Stand Tall, American Woman and Clap for the Wolfman. A solid set, but without any particularly massive fireworks. HHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: Runnin' Back To Saskatoon, Guns Guns Guns
-- Jeff Monk
Music From Another Dimension! (Columbia)
The good news is, Aerosmith's new album shrugs off decades' worth of forgettable über-ballads and rediscovers its heavy-blues groove. The bad news is, it's buried under forgettable über-ballads.
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry channel the best of the eras that made Aerosmith great on Oh Yeah; its fast beat and big, fat chords could have come off Get Your Wings. Beautiful may have a bit of '90s-era Tyler's keening in the chorus, but it's still a nimble, growling tune that sounds like a randy grandpa tap-dancing around the devil.
On Legendary Child, the band even riffs off its own classics (Walk This Way) and borrows an actual riff from Led Zeppelin (The Wanton Song) -- but it works.
Sadly, the Armageddon-esque radio-friendly ballads swoop in again and again: What Could Have Been Love, We All Fall Down, and Closer are the main offenders.
Somewhere in there is an awesome Aerosmith album worth touring on. But which songs would they play live? There's the rub. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THESE: Luv XXX, Legendary Child, Beautiful
-- David Jón Fuller
Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me (Six Shooter)
On his 11th album, Ontario singer-songwriter Danny Michel decided it was time for a change. Not only did he leave his trusty guitar pedals at home when he travelled to Belize to work with celebrated producer Ivan Duran, but he also recorded the album in reverse. Instead of entering the studio with completed songs in tow, he enlisted the talented Benque Players and together they built a very rhythmic and solid foundation in which to eventually plant his inspired and uplifting lyrics.
Incorporating local instrumentation, such as homemade Garifuna drums, turtle shells and donkey jawbones, with horns and guitars, Michel has created a hopeful, forward-looking album awash in lush rhythms and unique percussion that evokes the Caribbean paradise from which it grew without resorting to cheesy musical clichés that sound forced and passionless (like the faux island fare Kenny Chesney peddles).
Black Birds is Danny Michel's Graceland, but better. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: Break It You Buy It, What Colour Are You? A Cold Road\
-- Bruce Leperre
The Gathering (ArtistShare)
When the Clayton Brother band gathers, you know there will be some swinging, some blues, some ballads; a lot of good music.
Brothers John (bass) and Jeff (alto saxophone) are joined by regular band members Gerald Clayton (piano and John's son), Terrell Stafford (trumpet) and Obed Calvaire (drums) and guests Wycliffe Gordon (trombone) and Stefon Harris (vibes) over 12 tracks.
The opener, Friday Struttin', is a swaggering, swinging piece that captures the confident, expectant walk of someone at the end of the work week when the "eagle flies."
The three Claytons excel on the ballad Don't Explain and complement Gordon on Coupe de Cone (a nickname for the trombonist).
Gerald contributes the composition SomeAlways, a showcase for the bright young pianist, a bandleader in his own right. Jeff is terrific on the tender Benny Carter ballad Souvenir.
A Clayton Brothers outing is always a good time, and Gordon and Harris fit like gloves. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: Blues Gathering
-- Chris Smith