Reviews of this week's CD releases
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/09/2016 (2201 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
POP / ROCK
Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit (Nevado)
With members hailing from Winnipeg and Selkirk, Royal Canoe achieved well-deserved success following the release of its 2013 LP, Today We’re Believers. Now, three years later, the six-man group — Matthew Peters, Bucky Driedger, Matthew Schellenberg, Derek Allard, Michael Jordan and Brendan Berg — is back with a funky, daring and often surprising offering, Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit.
While Royal Canoe is often described as “indie pop,” it feels unfair to put a genre on Orbit. No two tracks sound the same and each contains its own little universe. The meticulous layering of each track is evident — the record was co-produced by Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective) — while the reverberating beats and stirring lyrics stay with you. The album captures the Royal Canoe trademark of being completely unpredictable.
The vocals of frontman Peters shine particularly bright on the third track, Living a Lie, a sexy and poignant slow burner.
For those familiar with their past work — particularly Believers — Orbit feels like catching up with close friends after they moved into a new apartment. It’s comforting, familiar and you love what they’ve done with the place.
Royal Canoe plays the Burton Cummings Theatre Thursday, Sept. 14. Tickets are $20-$25 plus fees at Ticketmaster. ★★★★
DOWNLOAD: Living a Lie, Holidays
— Alexandra De Pape
My Woman (Jagjaguwar)
Justin Raisen, an adventurous pop producer who has worked with the likes of Santigold, Sky Ferreira and even Kylie bloody Minogue, is the producer of My Woman, Angel Olsen’s third full-length album.
And as much as any song on this album, he signifies Olsen’s growing awareness that she can do almost anything with her voice and lyrical focus.
This thought comes to fruition almost immediately on album opener Intern, a dreamy synth-pop concoction that wouldn’t sound weird out of the mouth of Lana Del Rey. The song is an outlier on this album (it’s also quite beautiful, of course), but it feels as if Olsen’s letting people know there can be plenty of style to her substance.
The rest of My Woman, while featuring Olsen’s familiar band, seems just as mannered, as she and Raisen play with sounds, girl-group motifs (hints of Be My Baby in Never Be Mine) and sonic homage to her forebears (such as Siouxsie Sioux in Shut Up Kiss Me and Not Gonna Kill You) while creating 10 songs that touch on everything from grungy guitar (Give it Up) to pensive piano (Pops) in a cycle that’s loud and purposeful on the album’s first half, moody and introspective on the second.
Ultimately, My Woman is about trying to reconcile the need for love with the need to be oneself. Olsen’s lyrics suggest she’s unsure about how to fulfil the first need, but the work itself is proof she’s figuring out how to meet the second. ★★★★
Download: Intern, Shut Up Kiss Me, Sister
— John Kendle
ROOTS / COUNTRY
Lydia Ankrom grew up on a farm outside Coshocton, Ohio. She was home-schooled, played in a band as a teen with her dad and two sisters, made an album at 17 that she’s long since disavowed and says she’s the shyest and nerdiest of the four kids in her family.
Ankrom’s alter ego, Lydia Loveless, is a 25-year-old no-bull singer-songwriter who just released her third full-length album for Bloodshot Records.
The first two of those releases, Indestructible Machine andSomewhere Else, had fans and critics falling over themselves to describe her as a honky-tonk badass whose lyrical forthrightness was matched only by the careening squall of her country-punk band.
On her latest effort, aptly called Real, Loveless is all that and more as she, her band (her husband, Ben Lamb, plays bass and guitarist Todd May is a co-writer) and producer Joe Veirs have broadened her sound. These 10 songs encompass elements of pop (Heaven), roots-rock (Midwestern Guys; the title track), Wilco-ish soundscapes (Out on Love) and acoustic country-folk (Clumps), all while retaining Loveless’s trademark explorations of love, longing and the struggle to find a place to belong and a person to be with. It’s great stuff, and we can only hope there’s plenty more to come. ★★★★
DOWNLOAD: Out on Love; European; Real
— John Kendle
The Bad Plus
It’s Hard (Sony/Okeh)
The Bad Plus has significantly altered the image of the jazz trio. The Minneapolis threesome is made up of Ethan Iverson (piano) Reid Anderson (bass) and David King (drums), and they have maintained an egalitarian approach, allowing each member full airtime on the group’s albums. The band has also incorporated rock and other influences that, at least initially, bothered some purists.
The trio’s experimentation continues with this album, made up entirely of covers from the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Prince to Johnny Cash, Peter Gabriel and Ornette Coleman. This is absolutely jazz for today, with the concept that music can appropriately exist across narrow genre boundaries.
The music can be hard-edged at times, drivingly rhythmic, cheeky and in your face. There are sometimes jumpy tempos, but always a sense they are having fun, with a vibe that ranges from closer to the pop world to well into avant-garde jazz. From its first release, the Bad Plus has simply kicked down any barriers perceived to stand in the way of the jazz trio. This album will no doubt solidify the band’s groundbreaking tradition. ★★★★
DOWNLOAD: Staring at the Sun, Broken Shadows
— Keith Black
Vivaldi: Concerti per due violini (Harmonia Mundi)
Italian period instrumental ensemble Gli incogniti, led by Amanda Beyer, returns with an all-Vivaldi album featuring six of the Red Priest’s baroque concertos for two violins, as well as his Concerto for Strings RV 127. The new recording by Harmonia Mundi showcases Italian guest star violinist Giuliano Carmignola as well as the acclaimed Beyer in the two principal parts, due out Oct. 21.
Their bravura is immediately displayed in sparkling opener, Concerto RV 507, or the sunny, good-naturedRV 529. They spar, they chase, at times even conspire together in asserting their independence from their string compatriots, a particularly lively ripieno during RV 505 or RV 527. Concerto RV 513 further highlights the pair’s rapid passagework and rhythmic precision, before suddenly morphing into a concerto for solo violin.
I’m always partial to the minor tonality works, and the dramatic orchestral RV 127, or more soulful RV 510double concerto, with its compact fugato, is Vivaldi at its best, performed by a chamber group clearly passionate in bringing his timeless music to life. ★★★★
— Holly Harris
Updated on Thursday, September 15, 2016 8:13 AM CDT: Photos rearranged, videos added.