THIS WEEK'S SINGLES
0 to 100 / The Catch Up (Cash Money/Universal)
This double shot from Drizzy starts off hard. Like Started From the Bottom-on-steroids hard. After bragging, cussing and Forrest Gump-referencing his way through the first half, things shift into icy downtempo mode for the James Blake-sampling second act. It seems odd though, to mash the two of them together, because they're strong enough to stand on their own. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
One Smile (So Bleeped AB/Universal)
The Swedish duo's latest sports some gargantuan electro grooves that will undoubtedly whip dance floors into a frenzy. But there's something mildly unsettling about the Auto-Tune overload of the never-ending "all you need is one smile" refrain that sounds a bit like an Eiffel 65 CD being run through a bandsaw. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
NICK & KNIGHT
One More Time (Mass Appeal Music/BMG)
No, it's not a Daft Punk cover. But it is Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys teaming up with Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block. It begs to be mocked, but it's actually a half-decent summer jam, full of breezy guitars and a catchy chorus that lands somewhere on the pop spectrum between MMMBop and Moves Like Jagger. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
-- Steve Adams
THE debut album from rising band Kitten will have you purring.
The Los Angeles-based group's self-titled release is full of synth pop anthems, dance jams and punk-rock tracks that mesh together seamlessly.
Chloe Chaidez, 19, leads the band, and her vocals sound fresh and edgy. The album kicks off with the dreamy and upbeat Like a Stranger, while the addictive tracks Sex Drive and Sensible keep the mood going. Chaidez even impresses on the slow and simplistic tune Apples and Cigarettes, which nicely closes the 12-track set.
Kitten is one of the year's brightest debuts, and Chaidez's charisma on the album translates onstage during the band's live show. The group has opened on the road for No Doubt and Paramore, and Chaidez has an energy that captivates and stands out, much like Gwen Stefani and Hayley Williams.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Sex Drive
-- Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Terms of My Surrender (New West Records)
FOR American singer/songwriter John Hiatt, it seems that being 22 albums into a successful career doesn't mean the quality of the musical output needs to ebb. For Terms of My Surrender Hiatt again delivers a set of tracks that are by turns witty, insightful and even amusing, with the kind of journeyman's skill honed to silvery perfection by years of hard work on the boards.
Mostly written and performed acoustically with his regular touring quartet the Combo, the album is similar in sound and delivery to fellow traveller Bob Dylan's recent releases. With his weathered voice and sparse arrangements, it's obvious Hiatt is comfortable in his own skin, paying scant attention to anything but servicing the song the best way possible. Tracks like Wind Don't Have To Hurry, with its rhythmically plucked banjo figure, and Here To Stay, with its echo-y blues burn, show range as well as depth of conviction. A solid listen for both longtime fans and new converts. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Old People"
-- Jeff Monk
For the Light (Sugar Bush Music)
TORONTO-based Juno-winning alternative roots duo Digging Roots (husband and wife Sho-Shona Kish and Raven Kanatakta) produced their latest project and wrote everything but their inspired rootsy and edgy cover of Bruce Springsteen's Cover Me -- and cover the Boss well they did, with resonator guitar and an injection of reggae.
Reggae makes its presence felt on a regular basis on For the Light, as does Raven's resonator guitar, acting as the anchor for a couple of the disc's strongest tracks, Hwy 17 and Sunshine, with its bass-heavy backdrop.
Album opener features Raven's voice on the banjo driven soulful blues of All Night. Other tracks are somewhat trippy (Clumsy Lover and the title track). Themes include love, loss, growth and unity.
Digging Roots not only brings together varies styles and instrumentation (from banjos to ukuleles), but they can connect people of all backgrounds together with their infectious optimism and positivity. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
DOWNLOAD THIS: Cover Me
-- Bruce Leperre
Live at the Gallery (Cherrywood Records)
THE soul-jazz organ combo is very much alive and well in Austin, Texas, led by tenor saxophonist Elias Haslanger and holding down a regular Church on Monday spot at the Continental Club Gallery.
This band nails the soulful, swinging sound of the tenor, Hammond B-3 (Dr. James Polk), guitar (Canadian expat Jake Langley), drums (Scott Laningham) and bass (Daniel Durham) in eight chestnuts infused with some new grit.
Cannonball Adderley's One for Daddy O opens the disc with a punch, and Polk, who directed Ray Charles's band for a decade, breathes life into yet another version of Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man.
The band provides the tight groove for Haslanger's vibrant tenor, and Langley's warm guitar sound plays a key role in the band's sound. (The former Toronto guitarist spent years playing with B-3 great Joey DeFrancesco.) 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
Download This: One for Daddy O
-- Chris Smith
Kinderszenen and Waldszenen (Robert Schumann); On the Overgrown Path (Book I) (Leo° Jan°�çek) (Hyperion)
MARC-ANDRé Hamelin brings a poet's sensibility to this new collection of three piano suites inspired by nature and childhood.
The acclaimed Montreal-born pianist is well-known for his penchant towards eclectic, lesser-known repertoire. In this CD, he surprises listeners by linking German 19th century composer Robert Schumann and Czechoslovakian-born Leo° Jan°cek's introspective worlds, each of the miniatures becoming a fully realized portrait.
Hamelin crafts the mysterious The Prophet Bird from Schumann's Waldszenen, Op. 82 (Forest Scenes) with delicate grace. Our evenings from Jan°cek's On the Overgrown Path reveals greater volatility as the quiet spell becomes broken by explosive outbursts. The final of the CD's 32 tracks, The Poet Speaks from Kinderszenen, Op. 15 (Scenes from Childhood) is apt for this musical bard who expresses not through words, but with sensitively rendered notes that also speak to his great artistry.
There are no virtuosic fireworks in this intimate CD. Instead, Hamelin takes us by the hand through metaphorical woods of memory, gingerly -- and gently -- guiding us into these two Romantic composers' brooding, interior worlds. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
-- Holly Harris