Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/10/2019 (306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE BROS. LANDRETH
‘87 (Birthday Cake/The Orchard)
It’s been six years since singer/guitarist Joey and singer/bassist Dave Landreth recorded their debut album, Let It Lie, a smouldering set of R&B-infused, roots/folk songs that earned them a 2015 Juno Award. It’s been four since they released Undercover Brothers, an EP of cover tunes. While Joey has gone on to release and tour a solid pair of solo blues/rock records (Whiskey and Hindsight), the brothers never actually stopped writing music together — and they’ve finally released a second Bros. Landreth collection.
Recorded with Let it Lie producer/guitarist Murray Pulver (formerly of Crash Test Dummies and Doc Walker), ‘87 is a confident strut of a record — 11 songs made by siblings who clearly find seamless grooves and soaring harmonies almost telepathically. Longtime bandmates Ariel Posen (guitar) and Ryan Voth (drums) are also back on board, along with session players such as keyboardist Darryl Havers.
While the ringing chords and pulsing bass and keys of Something may have some panicking that the Landreths have embraced a Tears for Fears vibe, the Bros. quickly segue into the soulful harmonies and big riffs of Good Love before they get on the good foot with Got to Be You, a rollicking, swampy vamp. The tone of these three songs is decidedly upbeat, but Joey and Dave have been known to plumb the depths of despair, and they do on the likes of Masterplan, the deceptively rocking Maryanne and the heartbreakingly lonesome Salvation Bound. Such soul-searching and doubt continues for the next four songs, but redemption seems close at hand in the gospel strains of album closer Better Now.
Stream these: Got to Be You; Maryanne; Better Now
– John Kendle
Let It Burn (Alive/Naturalsound Records)
It isn’t easy to categorize the musical output of Los Angeles combo GospelbeacH. Led by the indefatigable Brent Rademaker (Beachwood Sparks, the Tyde) the band’s sound on its third album is more or less a swirling stew of cosmic American country in the style of Gram Parsons, a kind of happy-go-lucky, Beach Boys-esque sunshiny pop and a rather careful Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-influenced rock.
Rademaker’s nostalgic, sweet tenor singing voice is sort of a key that unlocks all the tastiness in these songs. Opening track Bad Habits, Baby (It’s All Your Fault) and the soaring, harmony vocal-infused Fighter are solid proof of his skills as a genuine singer.
Supporting Rademaker’s lyrical insights on life and love is as solid and cohesive a band as you are going to hear. The degree to which this combo rolls effortlessly through the songs reveals a kind of shared musical vision that is rare. Keyboardist Jonny Niemann daubs in some cool mellotron, piano and electronic strings throughout, maintaining the ‘70s-vintage retro groove nicely without making the songs he is featured on sound tied to any particular genre. Rademaker brought in the guitarist Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) to add some towering, six-string majesty to these songs, and it was a wise choice. His excursions on the slow-burning Fighter are worthy of notice but really his playing on every song literally blazes into your memory, particularly if you are a guitar fan. (Sadly, Casal died this summer, leaving a hole in the California music scene that won’t be filled easily.)
Some critics claim that Rademaker and his band are trying to recreate some sort of Laurel Canyon/Grateful Dead sound, but for our money, Let It Burn ascends into much more substantial musical territory.
★★★1/2 out of five
STREAM THESE: I’m So High, Nothing Ever Changes
— Jeff Monk
The lightning-fast fingers of Billy Strings have tapped him as the future of bluegrass music for a few years now. But it is his creative musical storytelling, paired with solid vocals on Home that should seal the deal, pleasing fans of the genre and creating some new ones.
Strings, a 26-year-old Michigan-born multi-instrumentalist, is the perfect blend of pure talent and pluck. He’s comfortable bringing his indie-rock influence into his latest release and weaves it well while fleshing out inventive tracks.
Songs like Hollow Heart are beautifully delivered, but traditional bluegrass in approach and structure. Where Strings makes his true mark is on the title track, a beefy seven-minute-plus song that builds from a slow burn to race car pace, crashing into a magical collection of guitar, mandolin and light percussion. It matches the song’s premise of challenging that in which one finds comfort.
The earworm here is album opener Taking Water, replete with beautiful banjo and String’s deft work on acoustic guitar, his staple instrument. It can be hard for even the most skilled bluegrass musicians to break through tradition and reach a wider audience. It takes an acknowledgement of the past but a willingness to explore the musical path ahead.
Thankfully, Billy Strings can do it all.
STREAM THESE: Hollow Heart, Taking Water
— Ron Harris, The Associated Press
Yet another "lost" jazz album sees the light of day with this frankly somewhat confusing release.
In 1985, Miles left his 30-year association with Columbia Records and moved to Warner Bros. There he worked for a while on the album Rubberband, which was shelved for some reason and never completed. Now under the direction of a nephew of Miles called Vince Wilburn Jr., the full 11 tracks have been remixed and released for the first time.
Contemporary vocalists have been added (Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi), and the already soul/funk/rock mood has been enhanced. There are times when the legend’s familiar trumpet obbligato sounds like an afterthought or is buried in a mess of effects. This album is clearly in the pop/rock phase of the musician’s life, but does not match several other later albums, such as You’re Under Arrest or Amandla.
Having said that, there are excellent moments and tracks that probably demonstrate Miles’ wishes for the project. The title track (not the opening Rubberband of Life) is a keeper. However, the overall effect is a bit strained and perhaps over-produced even for late-career Miles. Tracks like Give It Up and Maze offer some continuity, but the mixing produces an album that drifts over decades of pop/funk/rock without a cohesive core.
Tutu came out the year after the base of this album was recorded, and is much more worth your attention. If you really need every Miles Davis album, then go for it, but Rubberband is a curiosity more than a real contribution to the canon. ★★★
STREAM THESE: Rubberband, Give It Up
— Keith Black
Lute Music by Albert de Rippe (Harmonia Mundi)
This new release features 25 works for solo lute by 16th-century Renaissance composer Albert de Rippe, performed by acclaimed American lutenist Paul O’Dette, who also teaches at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.
One of the album’s greatest strengths is its full spectrum of different genres, including fantasias, "chanson intabulations" and various dance arrangements popular at that time. But it also shows off the rich tonal colours and virtuosity of the plucked string instrument not heard often enough, with each short, musical soupçon brought to life by O’Dette’s expressive artistry.
Highlights include the series of nine fantasias: the eloquent Fantasie II, with its darker minor tonality, or sunnier-natured Fantasie XIX, while Fantasie VIII is tossed off with resolute conviction. The livelier dance arrangements, including Gailliarde La Milanoise and Gaillarde Piemontoise, see the soloist navigating their more treacherous polyphonic lines with aplomb, while keeping a tight rhythmic pulse.
Each piece is fewer than five minutes in length, and the realities of a full album performed by a single instrument begins to take on an overly homogeneous sonic texture, demanding a certain commitment by the listener. But still, a work like L’eccho (Dieu qui consui), with its effective terraced dynamics and nimble runs, speaks like a poet from the distant past, its voice reverberating with time while still appealing to 21st-century ears.
★★★1/2 out of five
STREAM THIS: L’eccho (Dieu qui consui)
— Holly Harris
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.