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This article was published 29/1/2010 (2613 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Sea (Virgin/EMI)
U.K. singer-songwriter Corrine Bailey Rae had a gigantic hit with her self-titled 2006 album and was seemingly everywhere at the time.
Then tragedy struck and she kept a low profile following the 2008 death of her husband Jason Rae due to a possible drug overdose (but officially ruled "death by misadventure.")
She's back now with her sophomore effort, proving her worth as a songwriter by penning nearly everything on here herself. She has a superior sense of introspection and there is no doubt there is a market for her profound and considerate lyrics. Vocally, though, Rae leaves something to be desired. Her ardent under-enunciation used to be called mush-mouthed when blues singers did it. She slides and slurs her words together in such a frustrating manner that it begins to sound like an affectation and completely unnatural. The Blackest Lily kicks up some dust but suffers from a beat that you just can't dance to and even fans may find this a touch lightweight. 'Ö'Ö'Ö
-- Jeff Monk
Remorsecapade (Paper Bag Records)
FOR two guys, Dan Werb (keyboards) and Paul Banwatt (drums) sure make a tremendous racket. The Vancouver duo's busy soundscapes pulse with energy, arpeggios of squelchy synth and headphone-turning production holding up monster dance-floor jams, aggressive rock songs and tender pop tunes.
The most impressive thing about Remorsecapade is its sonic breadth. Although it's all keyboards, effects and beats, it's all over the map tonally. The band freaks out on the spastic, sweaty electro-punk of Coolchazine (which slips in some classical-flavoured prog touches) and then delivers some bittersweet, blippy, Postal Servicey pop on Dissembler (with help on vocals by Maylee Todd).
The cocky swagger of Electric Six, the icy heart of New Order, the disco-soul of La Roux -- whatever your electronic poison, you'll find something to love here. But don't take our word for it -- the band plays the Lo Pub on Feb. 27. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
-- Jill Wilson
Never Shout Never
What is Love? (Loveway/Warner)
NEVER Shout Never is the alias of 18-year-old Christofer Drew, the latest MySpace sensation to get a record deal.
His eight-song Butch Walker-produced debut is squarely aimed at teenage girls who are fans of Justin Bieber. The 20-minute disc is filled with lightweight acoustic bubblegum pop-rock mainly focusing on young love, without answering the question he puts forth in the album title. He veers from the topic a couple of times, detailing his reasons for not going to church on Sacrilegious (he does love Jesus, though, really) and The Past, a heartfelt, string-drenched ballad about growing up in a mean-ol' town.
Most of it is parent friendly, but he does drop the F-bomb in one song and admits to smoking marijuana. A rebel with a mop top. 'Ö'Ö
-- Rob Williams
Fat Wrecktrospective (Fat Wreck Chords)
BEFORE Green Day and the Offspring, pop-punk was an underground phenomenon played by bands who recorded for indie labels and earned fans one at a time by constant touring and word of mouth.
Along with Epitaph, Fat Wreck Chords, founded by NOFX's Fat Mike, help spread the pop-punk gospel. The label is celebrating 20 years in existence with an 88-song, three disc retrospective: the "Fattest Hits," featuring one song by 33 different artists, a disc of demos and the complete seven-inch series from 2001 and 2002. Winnipeg's Propagandhi are represented by two songs: Back to the Motor League and a demo of Middle Finger Response, but doesn't provide recollections about signing to the label as do most of the other bands on a giant foldout that features album covers of most of its releases over the year.
Many Fat bands sound alike, but for Fat fans, or pop-punk fans who don't know much more than what they hear on commercial radio, it's a great budget-priced sampler. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö
Lit From Within (Parliament of Trees)
TO break in a new lineup, Winnipeg indie rockers the Paperbacks decided to jell by taking on an ambitious project: the double album.
Lit From Within features a loose concept about the lives of artists and activists over the course of its 32 tracks. Main songwriter Doug McLean is a natural storyteller whose characters use Iron Maiden flags as curtains, find inspiration in the words of Axl Rose and get so drunk they fall asleep on lawns. You're sure to recognize someone you know over the course of the lengthy two-hour running time.
The set shares a common sonic bond, but each song has its own identity. Highlights include the atmospheric ballad Slow Learners, the bouncy pop-rocker A Hawthorne Sublet, the propulsive Perpetual Autumn and immensely catchy Regrettable Tattoos.
After a few tough years, the Paperbacks are all lit up again. 'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2
The F-Holes (Independent)
OVER the past couple of years the F-Holes have built up a well-deserved reputation as a live act to be reckoned with.
While it's nearly impossible to capture the spectacle of the band's live show on disc, their self-titled debut is a perfect primer of what to expect from the sharp-dressed quintet and proves they aren't just a party band: these guys can write. You get some psychobilly on Don't Feel So Bad, some roots (Can't Share My Life, Holding Out, Bury My Brother) and some Dixieland jazz (Dixie Time, Dixie Band), along with elements of swing, bluegrass and the blues throughout the 11 tracks.
And it sounds authentic with stand-up bass, banjo, pedal steel and horns bringing the old-time vibe alive.
Pick up the album and check the band out the next time you see their name in the listings. F-yeah. 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö