Tunnel Vision (RCA/Sony)
The third single -- and definitely one of the stronger songs -- from JT's gargantuan 20/20 Experience album features some vintage Timbaland production -- breaky, shuffling beats, ever-building orchestration, and slightly sinister synths to match the stalkerish lyrics in which Timberlake goes for broke with the falsetto. Three and a half stars
PITBULL FEAT. DANNY MERCER
Outta Nowhere (RCA/Sony)
Pitbull is generally known for frenetic party jams. Here, however, teaming with Colombian crooner Danny Mercer, he gives us a much more docile mid-tempo track reminiscent of One Republic's Apologize. It's not necessarily a bad song, it just feels out of place, kind of like Robin Williams delivering a eulogy. Two and a half stars
Center of the Universe (Ultra)
Axwell's first post-Swedish House Mafia single continues very much along the same lines as Don't You Worry Child. Flashy, high-flying melodies and utterly asinine lyrics ("we'll ride the magic bus into the heart of love" -- what?) make this a fun, if not overly familiar floor-filler. Three stars
-- Reviewed by Steve Adams
ROCK & POP
Rivers & Rust (Disintegration)
IT seems like years since Haunter was singled out as a Winnipeg "buzz band" -- and that's because it has been. As the band puts it, its debut full-length recording "took nearly 10 years to live, five to write and more than a full year to record."
While prolonged waits can unhealthily heighten anticipation, Rivers & Rust shouldn't disappoint.
The album's opening cut, July, 2005, declares that "it's time to burn all those ideas that they made us learn," but Haunter has been careful not to set fire to the good stuff. The band obviously loves the lo-fi, distorted guitars of '90s-era indie rock, so it piles them on in pleasing fashion, so much so that songs such as July or Delilah Dreams of... sometimes channel the six-string sonics of Crazy Horse (or, more obscurely, 13 Engines).
But don't mistake these kids (singer/guitarist Matt Williams, guitarist Jordy Hasselmann, guitarist Cole Woods, bassist Marie France Hollier and drummer Ryan Coates) for full-on noise merchants. There's a powerful melodic sensibility evident here, as well as a lush sense of lyrical place (the spirit of John K. Samson is everywhere on this album) and there's a keen sense of dynamics, too. Where I'm Calling From is gentle duet with Nathan's Keri Latimer and Assiniboine River Song features vocals from Marti Sarbit and trumpet from Rusty Matyas, both of Imaginary Cities. Three and a half stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: July, 2005
-- John Kendle
YOU don't have to be clairvoyant to realize it's highly likely that, at some future date, British rock demi-gods Oasis, as helmed by the battling Gallagher brothers, will re-form, record, play some humongous gigs in the U.K. and then fall apart again.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds may be familiar to some, but it's scrappy brother Liam's Beady Eye combo that contains almost all the previous Oasis members and their second album, BE, will please that band's fans -- and not many others. Gallagher's knack for incorporating Beatle-esque harmonies remains solid, but with the addition of a geared-up horn section on some tracks, the Beady Eye sound tilts more toward Mancusian stadium soul than Liverpudlian club rock.
You do have to give the singer and band credit for aiming high. The sound of the album is dense and well produced and there's no lack of drama as you listen through the first half of the album. Liam may well be faulted for falling into rock star habits with some of his lyrics. Soul Love offers the unattainable, "It's all for you, everything I do, it's all for you" while the clumsily titled Don't Brother Me -- an obvious stab at bro Noel -- is a metaphorical fig leaf twisted wrong. I'm Just Saying ranks with Bob Dylan's It's All Good as the best song title using a common colloquialism. Watch for that Oasis reunion any time now. Three stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: I'm Just Saying
-- Jeff Monk
Cécile McLorin Salvant
WomanChild (Justin Time)
CÉCILE McLorin Salvant, the winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in vocals, opens her new album with a saucy version of St. Louis Gal
She is sassy, sincere and sometimes sexy on this 12-tune disc, a mix of standards such as I Didn't Know What Time It Was and Nobody, and original compositions like the title track, that cherish the history of jazz and blues while presenting it in a contemporary fashion, not as a derivative copy.
McLorin Salvant is an evocative singer whose interpretations of songs like Baby Have Pity On Me are a delight.
The singer is accompanied by the bright, young pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist James Chirillo and the veteran drummer Herlin Riley, who is a real asset, whose swing is perfect for the material.
McLorin Salvant, in her early 20s, has a bright future based on this outing. Three and a half stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: What a Little Moonlight Can Do
-- Chris Smith
Empire of the Sun
Ice on the Dune (Astralwerks)
EMPIRE of the Sun's new album opens with the instrumental track Lux, using drums of epic grandeur to build the anticipation for a record we have waited five years to hear.
That's followed by DNA, a surefire single and the strongest track on Ice on the Dune. The voice of lead singer Luke Steele -- who has co-written songs for Usher and Beyonc© -- blends nicely as he sings "be my DNA" over a brilliant beat, which results in a pounding chorus
The Australian electronic duo's sophomore album and follow-up to 2008's Walking on a Dream is polished. It seems like almost every song could be a summer anthem.
The lyrics are loved up, and even in the slower moments on the record, Empire of the Sun gets it right. The title track is dreamy and smooth, as Steele sings: "Let's go running away, we can always be together," and "I'll Be Around" hits you with Fleetwood Mac style.
Wherever you dance this summer, you will be dancing to this record. Three and a half stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Ice on the Dune
-- Sian Watson, The Associated Press