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Reviews of this week's CD releases

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POP / ROCK

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/04/2018 (1581 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

POP / ROCK

Sc Mira

Keep Crawling/Drug Warm Coma (Pipe & Hat)

Bands rarely arrive fully formed and it’s taken Sadye Cage and Ty Vega, the singer/guitarist pair at the heart of Winnipeg’s Sc Mira, nearly four years, a six-song album (2015’s Waiting Room Baby) and a rotating cast of players to settle on a sound and lineup.

Now a quintet, the group released a three-song EP, Keep Crawling, last fall, and is set to release a companion three-song set, Drug Warm Coma, on April 20, with an “album-release” (the tracks on the EPs are numbered 1 through 6) bash slated for April 28 at the Garrick.

The new material was produced by Ferro Montanino (whose cover of Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites caught the attention of Skrillex a few years back) and Cage and the band have taken to calling it “death pop,” largely because the songs are heavily rhythmic and synth-fuelled. But don’t let that moniker fool you — while there’s plenty of insecurity, even paranoia, in the lyrics, Sc Mira hasn’t gone all NIN. Guitars no longer drive the sound but these are pop-rock songs, driven by solid melodies that draw listeners in on the basis of Cage’s idiosyncratic, almost nasally alto, her dramatic delivery and her knack for a memorable refrain.

Listen to the two EPs back to back a few times and you’ll find that vocal hooks such as “sex is for strangers/don’t look at my body (from Free) or “looking for a light on/seeing myself” (from Breaking My Skin) will burrow into your subconscious.

Stream these: Free, Breaking My Skin, Noose

— John Kendle

ROOTS / COUNTRY

Jordan Officer

Three Rivers (Spectra Musique/Independent)

Daring musical convention, Montreal-based singer/songwriter Jordan Officer lays down an astonishingly distinctive set of 11 tracks for his fourth solo album Three Rivers. Presumably, Officer would generally slide into the category of being a “blues” artist based on his career trajectory so far. For this album, he has teamed with respected drummer Charley Drayton (Bob Dylan, The Divinyls, Keith Richards, Miles Davis, Neil Young, Iggy Pop) who not only played on the set, he also produced the album with Officer. It is Drayton’s vast experience mixed with Officer’s estimable skill set on six-string, twelve-string and lap steel guitars and fiddle that elevate these songs. He downplays the pyrotechnics here to the point that his efforts, while at the forefront, are unpredictable and at times even peculiar. Some sweet, jazzy riffs sprinkled throughout buoy the easy flow of opening shuffle Your Body’s My Home. Officer’s scat vocals align perfectly with his animated fiddle riffs on the seriously fun One Handed Push-Ups and the molasses-slow Just To Be With You is a homage of sorts to Clarence (Gatemouth) Brown’s marvelous violin and guitar blues style previously thought lost to the ages. Vocally Officer sounds as unfussy as can be and his at times subdued and natural vocals are kind of a cross between J.J. Cale and Charlie Musselwhite. He has the confidence and tone of a professional and Drayton has persuaded every ounce of class out of these performances and deep into the grooves. It all works perfectly and after repeated listenings, Three Rivers is as hypnotic as it is uplifting. At just under 45 minutes you may find yourself wishing there was more of this magic to hear. Just start again from the beginning. It’s worth it. ★★★★ out of five

Stream these: One Handed Push-Ups, Three Rivers

— Jeff Monk

JAZZ

Edward Simon with Afinidad and Amani Strings

Sorrows and Triumphs (Sunnyside)

One of the neatest things about contemporary jazz is the amazing range of moods and approaches available to the listener. This new release is a complex and fascinating mix of fairly “recognizable” jazz riffs with lyrical and intense tracks with the chamber quintet Imani Winds and vocals by Gretchen Parlato. Pianist/composer Edward Simon has the featured quartet called Afinidad with alto player David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. The compositions are often cheerful, melodic and refreshing, but intermingled are tracks of melancholy and what has been described as classical minimalism. As with many new jazz albums, it can be deceptive in that the overt lyricism can mask the depth and intensity of the improvisations and effective use of the varied instrumental options. I must confess that I often find Parlato’s breathy vocal style less than enjoyable, but her lyrics and style seem to fit well with Simon’s compositional intent. Simon is a native of Venezuela, and there are South American rhythms on several tracks (like Venezuela Unida). Guitarist Adam Rogers is also a guest on several tracks and adds meaningfully to the music. Without doubt, the overall impression of the album is beautiful, enjoyable jazz with periodic hints at a more edgy approach (especially by alto player Binney). As my first sentence implies, previous dividing lines between genres are getting wonderfully bent. ★★★★ out of five

Stream these: Equanimity, Triangle

— Keith Black

CLASSICAL

Mozart Violin Sonatas V

Cédric Tiberghien & Alina Ibragimova (Hyperion)

Renowned violinist Cédric Tiberghien and pianist Alina Ibragimova join forces in this new release by Hyperion that features Mozart’s violin sonatas, as well as his charming Variations in G major, K359 based on popular French chanson, La bergère Célimène.

Sonata in E flat major, K380 offers the first taste of the duo’s simpatico artistry, including their rollicking delivery of the rondo finale which includes their tossing its thematic material back and forth like children’s play.

They also bring a lighter touch to the sole two movements for Sonata in A major, K12 and Sonata in G major, K11, with the latter including an expressive, opening Andante replete with delicate ornamentation. Sonata in B flat major, K. 570 once again fills out with a more customary three movements, including a lyrical Adagio given dignified gravitas by the two artists. The album rounds out with Sonata in E flat major, K. 302, inspired by the Mannheim court orchestra of the day, including brilliant fanfare flourishes as well as the Wunderkind’s Sonata in A major, K. 526, which ends with a bright and brilliantly executed Presto. ★★★★ out of five

— Holly Harris

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