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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/01/2015 (2870 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Pop

The High Dials

In the A.M. Wilds (Fontana North)

IN its earliest incarnation, Montreal’s the High Dials’ sound was characterized by a thematic tussle between co-leaders Rishi Dhir and Trevor Anderson. Dhir drifted more towards a lysergically enhanced psychedelic vibration, while Anderson held onto a more ’60s pop sensibility. But the tables have turned: Dhir’s Elephant Stone band blossomed into a full bore, brain-melting, sitar-driven behemoth, while Anderson now leads the Dials back to psych… or something.

Mostly, THD today bears a close sonic resemblance to ’80s-vintage synth-pop bands like New Order (Desert Tribe). In fact, a good half of the 14 songs here have a palpable, electronic/dance tribute band quality to them. Anderson is no fool, though, and he (along with co-Dials Robbie MacArthur and George Donoso) mix the moods enough to make a real statement.

In the A.M. Wilds may not pull in scores of new converts to its decidedly retro charms, but if you loved this kind of music back then, you will find plenty here now to take you back. HH1/2

DOWNLOAD THIS: On Again, Off Again

— Jeff Monk

 

Country

Keith & Renée

Feel Good Thing (Road Angel)

THE Winnipeg duo formerly known as Easily Amused have come a long way since their humble beginnings back in 2001. In 2012, they won the Western Canadian Music Award for Best Country Album of the Year; they’ve toured with fan Jann Arden several times; and more recently, they’ve hit the road with Dallas Smith, Chad Brownlee, Dean Brody and High Valley.

The 12 songs on Feel Good Thing (plus a remix of the title track) truly are feel-good things. Better With You exudes positivity, as does much of their music. These Four Wheels only hints at all the miles the pair have shared driving all over North America. Laugh is a smile-inducing power ballad that brings back memories of those awkward high school dances.

Like many of today’s country acts, Keith and Renée have embraced their pop influences, even incorporating production tricks from that world; however, unlike a lot of today’s successful artists, they still write the bulk of their ºber-catchy, radio-friendly country-pop nuggets.

Feel Good Thing may not be the most adventurous recording, but what they’ve delivered here is as good, if not better, than successful American acts such as Lady Antebellum, Gloriana or Little Big Town.

With more hooks than a tackle box, Keith and Renée are ready for the big leagues. ‘Ö’Ö’Ö1/2

DOWNLOAD THIS: Laugh

— Bruce Leperre

 

Jazz

Justin Kauflin

Dedication (Jazz Village)

PIANIST Justin Kauflin displays some of trumpet legend Clark Terry’s influence on his second CD as a leader.

But the 28-year-old doesn’t simply mimic the style of Terry, his friend and mentor, he performs on a dozen tracks in his own voice.

Kauflin, blind since 11, seems to attract mentors. Quincy Jones, once a protegé of Terry himself, signed Kauflin to his management company and produced this recording.

The post-bop pianist performs solo on one tune, in a trio with drummer Billy Williams and bassist Christopher Smith for three and in a quartet with Matt Stevens on eight.

While he had the advantage of Terry’s mentorship at William Patterson University, Kauflin’s writing and playing exhibit a clarity and sense of purpose all his own.

For Clark is a pastoral ballad featured in the critically acclaimed documentary Keep On Keepin’ On, which followed the friendship between the trumpeter and pianist for four years.

On The Professor, Kauflin pays tribute to another influence, the late pianist and professor Mulgrew Miller. On Elusive, he plays blues licks worthy of Terry’s hometown of St. Louis.

Thank You Lord is a joyful closer to an album of great playing. HHHH

DOWNLOAD THIS: For Clark

— Chris Smith

 

Classical

Javier Perianes

Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte (Harmonia Mundi)

EVER since its completion in 1845, Mendelssohn’s eight-volume series of Lieder ohne Worte (Songs without Words) have lived on as expressions of haunting pianism.

Spanish pianist Javier Perianes explores the 19th century composer’s intimate world in this new release that also offers flip sides to Mendelssohn’s romantic ethos.

Three of his ever-popular Venetian boat songs (Ops.19/6; 30/6; 62/5) inspired by his own travels to the aquatic Italian city are included with Perianes’ sensitive rubato, allowing the short pieces to ebb and flow. Of the remaining 12 Lieder ohne Worte, the windswept Op. 53/3, lightly executed Op. 67/2, and a version of Op. 102/6 that unfolds like a poet’s soliloquy are particular highlights.

Perianes also delivers a sparkling Rondo capriccioso with its magical fairy tale world the composer was fabled for. Variations sérieuses, Op. 54 felt overly restrained although the soloist’s overall dramatic arc revealed itself more clearly by the end.

But the surprise proved to be Prelude and Fugue Op. 35, Mendelssohn’s homage to J. S. Bach that evokes the latter’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Here, Perianes clearly voices and delineates the interwoven contrapuntal lines including the Fugue’s quote of Lutheran hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God that acts as counterfoil to the more lyrical Lieder. HHH1/2

— Holly Harris

 

This week’s singles

KELLY CLARKSON

Heartbeat Song (RCA/Sony)

The first single from her upcoming seventh album sees the original American Idol re-teaming with producer Greg Kurstin, who was at the controls for her biggest chart-topper to date, 2012’s Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You). The results? A propulsive pop banger with plenty of ’80s-inspired synths, incredibly catchy lyrics and a chorus that comes across like the Powerpuff Girls doing a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle. HHH

 

MAROON 5

Sugar (Universal)

Not quite as immediate as Animals or Maps, the latest from V is somewhat subtler, but still sexy, with a danceable, disco undertone that sounds very much like something Bruno Mars or Robin Thicke might have done. Best enjoyed while watching the accompanying Wedding Crashers-influenced music video. HHH

 

THE PRODIGY

Nasty (Cooking Vinyl/Universal)

It’s been six long years since their last album, but this new track from their upcoming The Day is My Enemy project picks up essentially right where they left off on 2009’s Invaders Must Die. A menacing guitar line, big blistering breakbeats and snarling vocals from Keith and Maxim — it’s basically everything a Prodigy fan could ask for. HHH1/2

— Steve Adams

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History

Updated on Thursday, January 22, 2015 10:11 AM CST: Replaces images

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