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This article was published 25/6/2015 (1948 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Pistol George Warren
Oceapur 9 (Universal Canada)
CANADA'S "Nickel City" of Sudbury, Ont., may not immediately leap to mind as a hotbed of Canuck musical goodness, but if Pistol George Warren gets some traction with its third album, Oceapur 9, that could change in a hurry. This tough-to-pigeonhole pop combo stews up quite the mix on this vivacious dozen-tracker, but its appeal is mostly down to a spry and cheerful musical attitude.
Opening track True Believers is a funky jam, lit by the out-front vocals of lead singer Maty Ralph and buoyed by the trio of female vocalists who never leave his side. The band choogles throughout this set, but it becomes apparent at some points that the group's energy sometimes overreaches its best intentions in a song. The women will be wailing along earnestly and Ralph can only warp his voice so much to keep up. Sick Little Thing suffers more than a little from his vocal affectation, a kind of undecipherable yodel.
O9 is a party album to be sure, and there will be no bad times when this band plays here this summer (July 30 at Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club and July 31 at Lac du Bonnet's Fire & Water Festival). HHH
DOWNLOAD: Louis and Marie, Light Up Your Matches
-- Jeff Monk
SCOTTISH electronic music producer Hudson Mohawke's sophomore album, Lantern, is a lush blend of edgy vocals and smartly managed mixes that are ripe for hip lounge listening.
The man born Ross Birchard began his career mixing on traditional turntables before migrating to more intricate remix environments. Lantern builds well on his discography, coming off as experimental and unique in a genre often filled with sameness.
Very First Breath has a nice, crushing beat and tight vocals from guest-vocalist Irfane. It's a perfect blend of urban backbeat layered under a savvy singer to keep things fresh. Scud Books is another standout track. Just when you think it's all Lil Jon-styled bass, in come the nifty keyboard stabs for the melody -- it's quite unlike most other EDM you can imagine.
Hudson Mohawke's music is, thankfully, difficult to pin down. It isn't all fast enough to dance to, but it's so imaginative that slowing your body down for a relaxing listen is just as pleasing. HHH1/2
-- Ron Harris, The Associated Press
Success (Season of Mist)
Longtime fans of KEN Mode love having their faces melted, eardrums exploded and sternums pummeled. The Winnipeg trio's last two albums, Venerable and Entrenched, have been huge-sounding slabs of metallic hardcore that delivered in-your-face musical intensity and screamed, inchoate rage and disaffection -- earning the group a Juno Award, name recognition and a horde of followers.
Naturally, it's time for a left turn. Cue famed Chicago producer Steve Albini, who stripped away much of KEN Mode's Sturm und Drang, exposing the trio's rhythmic core and the innermost musings of singer/lyricist/guitarist Jesse Matthewson. On Success, Albini and the band have put together a nine-song noise-rock album that hearkens back to '80s post-punk (meaning everything from Gang of Four to the AmRep/Touch & Go scene) and lyrically challenges listeners with Matthewson's more subtle take on life's sad, angering and even thrilling contradictions.
The new approach mostly works. Blessed opens with a Killing Joke-ish throb that builds to encompass both discordant cello and howling guest vocals from Oxbow's Eugene Robinson. These Tight Jeans is an uptempo, actually danceable call-and-response between Matthewson and Jill Clapham, while I Just Liked Fire keeps up the pace with a breathless expression of lust. Dead Actors, meanwhile, closes the album by asking "What was the last thing you've done that mattered?"
KEN mode launches Success with a June 26 show at the Good Will Social Club. Tickets are $15 at Ticketfly.com.
Download these: These Tight Jeans, I Just Liked Fire, Dead Actors
-- John Kendle
Restless Ones (Partisan/Dine Alone)
FORMED in Ohio in 2003, the Heartless Bastards have been based in Austin, Texas, since 2007. Since then they've seen members come and go, but the current lineup is buoyed by original members drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebaugh, who returned to the fold in 2012 for the exceptional Arrow album.
On the band's fifth offering, Restless Ones, lead vocalist and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom's uniquely captivating, sinewy vocals are in fine form on tracks such as the first single, Gates of Dawn, about tackling your demons. Fear and anxiety are common passengers on this trek: Black Cloud is about trying to be someone you aren't simply to please another; Journey, inspired by Dan Eldon's book The Journey is the Destination, is basically about discovering who you really are.
The band is as tight as ever and Wennerstrom isn't scared to exercise those resilient vocal cords and rock out, but she's equally at home on country-influenced numbers such as Hi-Line and The Fool.
They may call themselves Heartless Bastards, but with their hearts on their sleeves, you know it's anything but true. HHHH
DOWNLOAD THIS: Hi-Line, Gates of Dawn
-- Bruce Leperre
Mozart Piano Sonatas (Hyperion)
CANADA'S crown prince of the piano, Marc-André Hamelin, offers eight of Mozart's keyboard sonatas in this new solo release. It proves a perfect marriage of sublime music and pristine artistry, every note executed by the Montreal-born pianist with finesse.
As one of the six earliest surviving works composed during 1774-75, Sonata in G major, K. 283 is likely the best known, frequently popping up at student music festivals. Hamelin stamps its three movements as his own, tossing off its nail-biting finale Presto as easily as child's play. From that same set, Sonata in E flat major, K. 282, with its unusual opening adagio, also seems to reflect the artist's well-known penchant for performing works off the beaten path.
Sonata in D major, K576 bursts out of the gate with infectious high spirits, the musician's virtuosic technique easil y handling its quicksilver runs, as well as during Sonata in C major, K330 and the iconic Sonata in C major, K545.
The 2-CD set with detailed liner notes also features Sonata in B flat major, K. 333, Sonata in F major, K332 and last but not least, Sonata in B flat major, K570.
Also offered are four of the wunderkind's single-movement works, including his Rondo in A minor, K311. In this melancholic gem, composed by Mozart in 1787 after suffering a debilitating illness, Hamelin wisely resists any temptation toward the maudlin. His stirring and well-balanced interpretation, marked by elegant phrasing and crystalline ornamentation, reflects an innate understanding of Mozart's innermost world, as much as his own deeply felt emotional vistas. HHHH
-- Holly Harris
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