Jay Malinowski & the Deadcoast
Martel (Pirates Blend)
JAY Malinowski is best-known as singer/guitarist with Bedouin Soundclash, but he's clearly a guy with a restless muse -- he's an accomplished painter, he's started his own record company, Pirates Blend (home to A Tribe Called Red, among others) and he's collaborated with Coeur de Pirate and Chuck Ragan. Most recently, the Renaissance man has been working with Vancouver string trio the End Tree in this project, Jay Malinowski & the Deadcoast. Martel is the group's first full-length album, following a 2012 EP.
Martel is a sprawling, 18-track double CD named for Malinowski's ancestor Charles Martel, a Huguenot who left 18th century France for North America. Divided into Atlantic and Pacific discs, the album purports to explore Martel's story and the experiences of his family in North America. As such, it's a rather episodic mix of moody baroque pop that's best understood while reading the accompanying lyrics and perusing the accompanying website, whoismartel.com. Given its premise, the album feels more like a solitary component of a multimedia project than a standalone piece of music. It will be interesting to see the treatment it gets when the band plays the Park Theatre on March 28. 3 out of 5 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Singapore Sling
-- John Kendle
Young The Giant
Mind Over Matter (Fueled By Ramen)
IRVINE, Calif. quintet Young The Giant play the kind of earnest, modern pop that is as sweet to listen to as it is easy to forget once the album ends.
Check that. There are earworms galore here that will drill into your brain only to be squashed flat and replaced by the next band of this ilk. Singer Sameer Gadhia hits some pretty remarkable high notes and sounds like he means what he is singing. The riff-driven swooner Crystallized balances tracks like the dense and soaring Camera, and it is Gadhia's sweet tones that carry both to their uppermost reaches with his spot-on crooning. An alluring string section underlays some of the more heart-wrenching sections, and at times it seems like this band can do no wrong, yet the over-arching familiarity of what they do, even when at their best, gives you the feeling you have heard it all before... and likely will again. See for yourself when the group visits the Garrick Centre on March 27. 3 out of 5 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Daydreamer
-- Jeff Monk
Sad Day (Independent)
WHEN was the last time you connected raw, Chicago-via-the-Mississippi-delta blues wailing with an associate professor of East Asian studies? Only in Canada you say. Toronto-based Ken "Sugar Brown" Kawashima is originally from Ohio and spent time in Chicago as a student prowling the local scene as a blues enthusiast. The big payoff of his circuitous travels is now in the form of his première 15-track album, Sugar Brown's Sad Day. The release delivers the kind of sparse, spine-tingling authentic blues that used to be made in the 1950s by guys with names like Muddy, Chester, Walter and Bo.
Kawashima and his band had the luxury of recording on vintage "full track" mono equipment, which is what gives it much of it's faithful sounding depth. The less-is-more approach is often touted, yet this particular set seems to exhale a different kind of audible air. Kawashima's six-string playing and slightly echoed vocals are tied to the past in much more than a copyist's fashion -- he has a natural feel for the blues and delivers with frankness and heart.
He wrote over half the songs on Sad Day, putting even a finer point on his level of expertise in interpreting raw blues the way it should be. 4 out of 5 stars
DOWNLOAD THIS: Grim Reaper
-- Jeff Monk
THIS WEEK'S SINGLES
Future feat. Pharrell, Pusha T and Casino
Move That Dope (Epic/Sony)
Taken from his eternally delayed Honest album, Future's new posse's cut is nearly six minutes of drug-slinging swagger, rapid-fire rhymes, and a hollow, gurgling, almost ominous bassline that's rather reminiscent of Kanye, Jay-Z and Big Sean's top-notch Clique. 4 out of 5 stars
Rumble (Ninja Tune)
Kelis has changed up her style a lot over the years from the alt-R&B of Caught Out There to the pure pop of Milkshake to the future-disco of Acapella. This time out, she's teamed with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek for a substantially more soulful affair, featuring a warm, plinky piano and retro-cool horns. 4 out of 5 stars
Karl Wolf feat. Timbaland & BK Brasco
Magic Hotel (Universal)
Despite having Timbaland involved (although he's clearly using a beat he's had sitting on the shelf since about 2003), this is pretty painfully generic hip-pop, loaded up with so many unintentionally hilarious cheese ball come-ons that you really wonder how they got through it without giggling. 2 out of 5 stars
-- reviewed by Steve Adams