Laws Of Illusion – Sarah McLachlan

Afterglow was the last Sarah McLachlan album of original material and that was 7 years ago. When you consider the fact that the previous album before that was in 1997 with Surfacing, she is really not giving us, her ardent fans, much to hold on to. Now keeping that aside, my favourite singer delivers a nice album in Laws Of Illusion, her 7th studio outing, filled with 13 songs in that unmistakable style of hers. She is not rock, she is not pop, she is not goth-pop as I have heard her music being described. She is just Sarah!

Released by¬†Arista Records on June 15, 2010, the recording for the album took place in Montreal and Vancouver and production was handled by¬†Pierre Marchand, with whom McLachlan has frequently collaborated in the past. Awakenings is the love gone bad once the good intentions fade type of song that seems to hark back to her divorce. Illusions Of Bliss is an awesome & heart breaking-ly beautiful song about the wool we pull over our own eyes, thinking that because something is safe it should be the right thing. Once again the lovelorn actions of a person who wanted things to work out so badly but knowing that it’s going to break eventually, is what drives this song. A lot more positive is the next track; Loving You Is Easy is about the rush of being in a relationship and being in love.

Changes is about the things that change when one member of the family leaves when a divorce happens. Clearly most of the album is personal & based on Aswin Sood & Sarah’s divorce. Forgiveness is about the bitter taste of betrayal, wanting & longing for better times which the singer needs but knows that it can’t come back. Also that because of the betrayal forgiving the subject of this song is beyond her. Rivers Of Love is about creating an analogy of relationships & desire and the rough path that you must travel to make your journey through it.¬† Someone who has long waited for love and accepting of the highs & lows which accompany it will want to use Love Comes as their theme music. When you want to shut the crazy & desperate world out and leave everything beyond it, you need some sanity to hold onto, something that is good & pure just like in the haunting Out Of Tune.

Heartbreak is about the illusion we have that if we run fast enough we might stay clear of heartbreak, pain & sadness. Like trying trying to outrun the inevitable grievances. The next two songs, also about her breakup with her ex-husband, appeared on her best hits compilation. Still, Don’t Give Up On Us is a melancholic, melodic & heartfelt number about some hope during a breakup or rough patch in a relationship. The beautiful piano driven U Want Me 2 was already released as a single to promote her best of album and it’s a heart-wrenching tale of heart break when you finally give up on your relationship.Finally we have a cover version Susan Enan‚Äôs Bring On The Wonder, which, by now, is very familiar to McLachlan fans who go to her concerts – although her largely a capella version is breathtaking. Very enjoyable, just like all her stuff, it’s an album that is bittersweet and melancholic. Sarah at her best.

Losin’ Lately Gambler – Corb Lund & The Hurtin’ Albertans

The alt-country tunes that Corb Lund puts out with his backing band The Hurtin’ Albertans always stands in a class by themselves. They have released 6 albums to critical acclaim and have created a loyal following – of which this South Indian is also a part of. With their latest (actually released in 2009) album Losin’ Lately Gambler, Corb continues his semi-narrative style of singing, which along with the roots based music, is just screaming for beer, whiskey and a bar where everyone dances & listens to what the singer has to say.

We start off with Horse Doctor, Come Quick about veterinarians and about scoring drugs of the doctor, a situation that was just begging for a song. “Well I know you been busy pullin‚Äô all them calves, But you got somethin‚Äô that the other vets don‚Äôt have”. Corb always sings about horses and riding and this album is no exception. The next song is Steer Rider’s Blues – a bar dance kinda song. Lyrically it’s about a boy who’d rather be riding in the rodeo that be in school. A Game In Town Like This is about a gambler who has hit the long road to loses and it’s also from where the album title comes from. He has seen his share of wins but now he is losing money and is trying to cut his loses and hopes things get better.

We go into ballad nation with Alberta Says Hello, a lover’s letter to his ex who he misses a lot. She has moved her and gone to live in Montreal which he is still living in Alberta. And that although he’s finding life without her very difficult he’s glad that she is doing well. Takin’ Veternarian Blues is about a son learning from his dad, who is a vet, that it’s always better to get cash for the doctor’s bills instead of getting trades from farmers. More advise of life as a vet is followed in that talking blues-country style that Lund is famous for. Its Hard To Keep A White Shirt Clean, is a swinging country number of a hard life. It’s a fun little ditty that is sure to put a smile on your faces. Long Gone To Saskatchewan is a foot stompin’ number, which almost sounds like it was commissioned by the Province of Saskatchewan to get more farmers to migrate. The song’s about a cattle farmer & his wife who finds making a living tough in his native of Alberta and so he packs up and moved next door. Except for the chorus, the song is a narrative style sung fun loving number.

Sounding like something from the 1950s Devil’s Best Dress is about the heart breaking woman who has left the singer & many others in a pile of bloody mess in her wake. The Only Long Rider I Know a rockin country song is about a legendary rider just like any country band should sing about. This one should be a single and if it’s not a hit, well then there is no justice in this world. A Chinook Wind is a warm wind during the winter that hits the Canadian west; it’s also the name of the next song. Proud of his prairie roots and his Alberta home, This Is My Prairie is a ballad love song in tribute to the province.

All in all a good, strong album. I guess my fav Corb Lund album will always be 5 Dollar Bill but this one comes mighty close. One for the ages and evergreen for ever.

Life Turns Electric – Finger Eleven

With the released of Life Turns Electric, their 6th album, Finger Eleven has evolved their music — something that is rare amongst their peers. Last we heard of them they were basking in the success of their huge hit Paralyser of their 2007 album Them Vs You Vs Me. Like most bands, the Canadian 5 piece has changed their sound. For fans of the band (and not just a particular song or two), going along as they progress on their musical journey, you get to experience the different sound.

It certainly is Top 4o radio friendly hard rock which the group does better than most. The groove kicks in with Any Moment Now, a bit aggressive but still beat-worthy at the same time. Scott Anderson does not over do his vocals but gets it just right, starting of at a comfortable medium pace. Likeable guitar riffs are what the band does best and Pieces Fit is no exception with a very groovy lick courtesy of the duo of James Black & Rick Jackett. It‚Äôs no surprise at the prevalence of the guitars on the album since it was self-produced by the band‚Äôs guitarists but they have done a fine job. Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me is a semi-ballad is a very nice track but just falls short of being one of the very best. I feel that they should slowed down the track a lot more. By the way, I’m loving the vocals by Scott – his voice certainly has become even more of a strength for the band.

Living In A Dream is the younger sister of Paralyser and also features a very good drum+bass track. It’s a cool and could easily be a dance floor hit. Disco rock or disco metal is the name given for this time of song/music and F11 do it justice. Good Intentions kicks it off with foot tapping tune that backs the singing with a catchy underlying guitar hook. It is hard to stop bopping you head to this album as well as tapping your foot. Stone Soul does not sound like anything F11 have ever put out before. It sounds more like a pop-rock band, the kind that I do not like. This is so far the weakest song on the album. Ordinary Life follows and shatters the illusion of what F11 usually sounds like. I’m not sure I like the direction the band are heading to on the basis of these two songs. Still with “I just wish the world would sing with me sometimes” sings Anderson, and if performed live, this crowd pleasing bouncer is sure to have a venue full of people singing along, even if it’s the first time they have heard the song.

Don’t Look Down sounds a lot more like their 2003 efforts – more angst but still cool. Famous Last Words starts with a drum and base combination quietly underlying the lyrics of the verse, making the song sound like a misfit for this record, but when the chorus takes turn, the hooky guitar combined with the beat and the change of pace in lyrics snaps a breath of fresh air back into the song. I really like the mood of this song. The last song Love’s What You Left Me With finally slows down the pace, fittingly closing out an energy filled group of songs. Thematically, the song of regret over a broken relationship, is a change in mood as well. Scott Anderson sings in a much lower & mellow tone which adds a lot to this song.

One of the negatives is that the album is only 10 tracks and clocks in at just over 32 minutes. A slight disappointment, but then again, there are plenty of bands that put some filler songs on a CD just to make it longer, so it is what it is. 7.5 stars outta 10.

Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards – Joe Satriani

I’ve been a big Joe Satriani fan for 18 years. He is easily my favourite guitarist, musician and solo artist out there – of all time. I have all of his albums and listen to them continuously and I keep watching clips of his live recordings a lot. The Scifi inspired titled Black Swans And Wormhole Wizards is his 14th studio album of original material, released on October 5th of 2010. Joining him in creating his latest masterpiece are Allen Whitman –¬†bass guitar, Mike Keneally –¬†keyboards & the faithful & masterful Jeff Campitelli –¬†drums,¬†percussion.

The first track sounds much like it could be the theme music to an adventurous scifi tv series – Premonition is mid tempo based and the keyboards are prominent. The track has a brilliant, fierce solo with Joe attacking the guitar which compliments the subtlety of the melody nicely. Wah wah pedals bring out the next track Dream Song – the riff along with the gentle keyboard rythmic line gives a great backdrop for Joe to setup his semi-blues guitar leads that sound almost like words. So far we haven’t got the band cranking out at full throttle yet and it’s still very memorable & nice. Pyrrhic Victoria sounds like a groove oriented number and sounds like it could have felt right at home in his 1998 album Crystal Planet. The solo is a real shred fest.

We then come to the first single, Light Years Away. It’s an awesome track, with some rumbling bass that sounds like it’s about to explode, danceable beating drums giving it company and ofcourse Joe’ storming away on his Ibanez. Appropriately for a track named Solitude, it’s just Joe on his guitar with some delay & reverb. Littleworth Lane is a down on your luck lament (without the lyrics) but can’t you just see a guy in a seedy bar when this song plays? I can imagine the perfect video; a bar band playing this with just a bartender, a solitary drinking customer moping in his beer and a lady cleaning up the bar which is near closing time. Did Joe visit India recently? It certainly sounds like it when you listen to the next song. Tablas join the band in creating The Golden Room, this Eastern flavoured track and Joe’s solos are magnificent here. It simmer and boils but never explodes and some might like it for that but I think all that is missing is an explosive break out with noisy guitar solos.

Once again the Blues element shines on in Two Sides To Every Story, in which the playful nature of the music can take over the listener who will surely bop his/her head to the rhythm. Kennely’s Hammond organ is soulful and graceful and the drums funky. Next up is Wormhole Wizards (wait! Where are the Black Swans). The keyboards set up an etheral melody and then the bass drives into place with the drums, giving us a head bopping number. Joe’s guitars then takes over. I really like the solo lead section of this song. Wait it’s not over; we also get a keyboard solo from Mike! Awesome track! Wind In The Trees is a wah drenched gentler track with open harmonics and distorted ballad style solos. Very laidback & relaxed. We come to an end of the album with God Is Crying. Funnily enough the song starts out with a clapping track before the driving riffs snake their way in and builds slowly from a cleanish guitar part that slowly cranks up the volume before kicking into the the main theme after about 45 seconds.

It’s not his best album out there. Infact I’d name atleast 5 or 6 that are better but anything that Satriani puts out will be a class apart from all¬† the drivel that is being pumped out these days. Easily a good buy. Enjoy the video!

Slash (Deluxe Edition) By Slash

Slash’s last studio recording with Guns n’Roses was back in 1993 & the Spaghetti Incident. Two years later he came out with a semi-super group rock band Slash’s Snakepit and came out with It’s 5’0 Clock Somewhere. A totally different band with less famous musicians joined Slash for the follow up Snakepit album called Ain’t Life Grand. My interest in his work was very minimal as I couldn’t really get into the first album post GnR. Then came Velvet Revolver and I just didn’t like them much, mostly cause I didn’t like vocalist Scott Weiland. Now in 2010 out comes Slash’s first truly solo work – but as he is a guitarist and likes to work with singers, he has a ton of guest vocalists. Self-titled and stocked with a bunch of adrenaline, I’m finally getting back into the top hatted guitar player. Slash is now relevant for me!

Ok, without further ado let’s get into the album. Hot off the start, my favourite slash riff, solo hits me bang on the forehead. Ghost is my favourite track on this record. Featuring the vocal chops of The Cult singer Ian Astbury, it’s that fun rock n’roll track that I love. Ozzy Osbourne is someone that Slash considers to be a guru, as does a multitude of rockers across the globe. So no wonder the Ozzman has been asked to contribute his vocals to a track – Crucify The Dead. Musically it does sound more of an Ozzy song rather than something Slash would put out but that is probably intentional. Ok next track, Beautiful Dangerous, is where I don’t like it so much. Because Fergie comes on and sings! If you listen to this song, you get the feeling that this chick is looking for that rock image but I don’t get it! I guess the song was written with her in mind. I also get this as a song that strippers will dance to on one of their routine! Ok, maybe it isn’t so bad!

One of the big singles from the albums comes up next – Back From Cali is about leaving the big bad city of Los Angeles and going back to wherever the hometown is. Featuring the vocals of Myles Kennedy, this song is a live crowd favourite. Myles has been so important to Slash’s live shows that the tour supporting this albums is attributed as Slash featuring Myles Kennedy, as the singer is doing most of the songs on the tour. Chris Cornell does a very good job in Promise, a weird sounding little ditty that I like so much. Cornell sounds as earnest as possible pleading to never change the fire in you. Next comes the big one going by the music industry’s reaction – Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother’s vocalist) does a wail and a howl in By The Sword, a song about how to face death when the time comes. I’ve seen a couple of live renditions of this song and it’s even better live. One of the surprises on the album is the song Gotten. The way it sounds stylistically and lyrically, I’m finding it hard to picture Slash behind the song. Maroon 5’s lead singer Adam Levine lends his vocals for the song.

Ancient rocker Lemmy lends a hand and his vocals in Doctor Alibi. Again this song sounds more like a track from Lemmy’s band rather than Slash featuring Lemmy. We get an instrumental in Watch This feautring Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) on drums and Slash’s old buddy in both GnR & Velvet Revolver Duff McKagan on bass. This track sounds nothing like Slash has done before and hence comes as being rather fresh. Kid Rock can actually sing – I thought he was just crap err… rap! Kidding, I have heard him sing properly so was aware of his chops. He lends his vocals to I Hold On, a song about holding on to the one you love. I have never heard the band Sevenfold or their singer M. Shadows. The song Nothing To Say sounds nothing like I expect from Slash but the singer sounds a bit like Axl when he sings in a lower tone. The song is ok. Myles Kennedy returns with Starlight, a song about love, broken hearts and making things better and finding a place to belong.

I’ve never heard of Rocco Deluca who sings Saint Is A Sinner Too. The song basically sounds like a song by Deluca and his band The Burden with Slash guesting on guitar, rather than the other way round. Again, I dunno if that is a good thing or a bad thing; it’s a good song nothing against it. Iggy Pop features on the next track; We’re All Gonna Die tells you that since it’s inevitable let’s gets high, be nice to each other & jump and pee on the ground! Very cool song though and oh he also likes your tits! An initial shock was that Cypress Hill have done a rap version of Paradise City – THE song that turned me on to GnR as a 12 year old kid – a holy song as far as GnR fans are considered. Even bigger shock was the bombastic vocals screaming out the chorus and other lines – fuck it’s Fergie! Sounding like Axl’s baby sister she shows that yes she is a rocker chick in hiding, dolled up and singing nonsensical lyrics with that wimpy crap Black Eyed Turds hasn’t dulled¬† her natural big vocals. Grudging admiration.

As this is the deluxe version of the album we also get acoustic versions of Back From Cali & a very good & excellent acoustic version of Sweet Child Of Mine featuring Myles Kennedy. Maybe Myles should never go back to Alterbridge and stick with Slash and form a strong duo. And going by majority of the comments in Youtube, most fans agree. Good album; I’d give it 8 outta 10. So I like Slash’s music again and things are good. Enjoy the video for Back From Cali.

Final Frontier – Iron Maiden

Final Frontier is the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden’s long awaited tribute to Star Trek! Lol, no. It’s the 15th studio album of original material by the juggernaut that is Iron Maiden. released on August 13, 2010 in Germany and Finland, August 17 in the United States, and August 16 worldwide. At 76¬†minutes and 34¬†seconds, it is the band’s longest studio album to date. It is their first album since the release of¬†A Matter of Life and Death in 2006, the longest gap to date between two consecutive Iron Maiden studio albums.

At one point in time it seemed, mainly due to an interview with bassist & band leader Steve Harris, that this would be the legendary band’s final swansong. Harris stated in an interview that he had always imagined that Maiden would put out 15 albums. The titles of the album,¬†tour, and¬†opening track fuelled further rumours that this would be the band’s final album. However Harris has since stated that he hopes that there will be more albums.

Satellite 15 sounds like nothing that we have ever heard from Maiden before. It starts out with some electro noise before the drums start pounding. Nicko McBrain at his bombastic best. I swear that this guy is one of the top 10 best drummers of all time. The guitars start their wailing and the vocal melody sounds weird. It depicts the may day of a space traveler whose ship has gone of course and who is desperately trying hard to control it. However we soon segue into Final Frontier, a track with a great rhythm. This should be a crowd favourite soon. Lyrically it’s about the explorer coming to terms with his impending death and having no regrets. As his time approaches he relives his past glory and only wishes that he could say goodbye to his family one last time. El Dorado is a monster of a song, full on Maiden with no holds barred. The song is the band’s thirty-sixth single, and the first from the album. It addresses the greed & lust for money and power.

Mother Of Mercy is another one of what Maiden are famour for – an anti-war song. It tells us about the destruction of destruction and pleads to us to have mercy. Battlefields & it’s casualties are painted in a somber hue. Coming Home seems to be a homage to their native land of Britain and the feelings that one get when reaching back to one’s homeland. Compared to the rest of the album it is the ballad. We pick up the pace once again as The Alchemist gallops on – the story of John Dee & his “strange alchemy” with Edward Kelly. At a little over 9 minutes Isle Of Avalon starts of the longer section of the album. It starts off slow, building momentum as it struts along. It’s an epic track. Starblind follows a somewhat similar pattern, although it doesn’t simmer for as long. Religion an humanity is the main theme over here.

The Talisman is a great tale about the uncertainty that affects the life of a man traveling in a ship on the seas. Just as the rough part of the sea journey begins the man prays that he lives to tell the tale of his trip. Most Iron Maiden fans know of their lyrical inspiration from movies but I’m not sure if this one is one of them. The Man Who Would Be King is almost 8 and a half minutes long and features tandem guitar melodies. And with the final 11 minutes of this mammoth 76 min cd, we come to When The Wild Wind Blows – a wind of change, the coming of the end of life on the earth and the lyrical description of the catastrophe is mind-blowing and lucid. This is the kind of song that only Iron maiden can do and boy do they deliver. Stand back for the music video for the title track.

Black Gives Way to Blue – Alice In Chains

Not many people, fans & critics alike, expected to see a new Alice In Chains album of original material materialize after the death of frontman Layne Stayley. I included myself in the majority but Рthe first Alice in Chains album in nearly fourteen years, Black Gives Way to Blue was released last year in September. Its their first release with new vocalist/guitarist William DuVall, who took over from Staley. This is their first album released on Virgin Records and their first venture away from Columbia, who handled all of their previous releases. The album has been certified gold by the RIAA on May 26, 2010, with shipments exceeding 500,000 copies.

The layered guitars in All Secrets Known allow the lead off track to retain the group’s heat-choked atmosphere while adopting a melodic flair. It sounds like the AIC of their peak in the early 1990s. We then come to the corrosive lead riffs of Check My Brain. You have to just hear the ‘Oh yeah” and you know that this is the band at their prime. The song is about the excess of Los Angeles and California. Duvall fits right in with his singing & guitar playing. This is the first time an Alice in Chains song would hit #1 on the¬†Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart since their 1994 single No Excuses. Check My Brain received a nomination for “Best Hard Rock Performance” at the¬†52nd Grammy Awards. Duvall shines in the heavy Last Of My Kind, as he barks his aggressive lyrics.

My favourite track is up next – the fourth track of the album, Your Decision features an¬†acoustic rhythm and breaks from the dark, aggressive leanings of the previous songs in exchange for a more upbeat feel. The single has, so far, reached number one on the¬†Billboard Rock Songs chart, number one on the¬†Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and number four on the¬†Alternative Songs chart. This makes Alice in Chains the first artist to have two songs top the US Rock Songs chart. It’s a bit like saying that the decision is yours if you want to give in to the pressure and take the easy way out. Life gives you the options and obstacles and it’s your decision as to which path to take. After that ballady greatness, we head to more heavier things in A Looking In View. The song basically speaks to any number of things that keep you balled up inside and offering a window to your soul. A steady guitar rhythm starts off When The Sun Rose Again, and then what sounds like a tabla joins while the two singers sing the lyrics. Jerry Cantrell provides us with a minimalistic solo.

What AIC were famous for was the slow heavy guitar riffs that drone in your head as you listen to it – that’s perfectly observed in Acid Bubble. “I am the child that lives and cries in a corner, Dies in a corner, Alone inside your mind”, is powerful enough to blow you away in it’s intensity. Lesson Learned is about taking the hits and the lows and using that a learning a lesson and move on. Even in your darkest hour you will find a shining light. I’m not sure who is the ‘she’ that is mentioned in Take Her Out; it might be a metaphor for pain, life or love. It could be an arena favourite. A bit slower comes Private Hell, with vocal harmonies parallel to the Layne/Jerry era. It’s about keeping your issues to yourself and being very private about it. And finally we come to the title track, a dedication to Stayley. Elton John joins the band on piano as the pain of losing a friend is finally opened up as Cantrell sings Black Gives Way To Blue in memory of the departed singer/guitarist.

I like this album a lot and will line it up against Dirt & their self-titled 3rd album as matching their best. Here’s the video for Your Decision – and stop staring at the hot chick and enjoy the awesome guitar solo.

Sting In The Tail – Scorpions

All good things must finally come to an end. That is the case of the lengthy career of the Scorpions. Sting In The Tail is the seventeenth studio album by German heavy metal band Scorpions. It was released on March 19, 2010 in Europe and was released on March 23 in North America. It is likely their last studio album, as the band members have earlier stated that they would retire once the tour supporting this album was done.

According to guitarist Rudolf Schenker, if you take the best song elements from the ’80s albums, and put these on one album, you come up with the Sting in the Tail album. It was a case of trying to re-invent the Scorpions sound from the ’80s, using the same DNA after putting in a modern twist, to make it sound like today’s music. First week sales in the United States were 18,500 copies sold placing it at No. 23 on the Billboard 200. In Germany the album debuted at No. 2, but fell in its second week to No. 3, in France at No. 16 and in Greece at No. 1. The album also peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard Rock Charts.

The album kicks off with the anthemic Raised On Rock, perhaps a biographical statement by the band or heck they could be singing about us Scorps fans. The riffs & solo breaks are good enough to get the heart pumping and the fists thumping in the air. The title track Sting In The Tail is weird; the guitar parts starts off as mid-tempo but singer Klaus Meine’s vocals start off like he is a singer for a Black Metal band! WTF?, and it isn’t one of their strongest songs at all. The guitar riffs are a lot prominent than ever, as evident in Slave Me, which is a hard rock version of sexual love, with a semi-rap attempt in between!! We finally slow things down for the 4th song; remember that very few bands can do a power ballad as well as the guys in Scorpions can. The Good Die Young is no exception although I am not digging the tone of the vocals for the verses. But musically I can’t complain; it’s about as good as it gets. The song also features the vocals of Finnish symphonic metal singer¬†Tarja Turunen.

No Limit reminds me a lot of Big City Nights, especially the opening riffs. This song is about going all out to achieve your dreams and not to hold back. Rock Zone follows and maintains the heavy feeling throughout the album. I think Klaus vocals are superb in this song, stretching it out to a hard rock classic vocal style a la Meine. We get the love ballad Lorelei, a lament of love lost. This is probably one of Scorpions best songs ever. A man on a mission to Turn You On – a good riff rock number. Just like all the other songs, James Kottak does a fine job of laying down a string drum foundation.

Sly‘s opening rhythm guitar riff sounds a lot like Holiday but other than that these two ballads have little in common. This song deals more about death. Scorpions seem to have moved backwards in time and rediscovered their love for rock music – Spirit Of Rock is the third song that deals with this theme. And it’s a very enjoyable tune. We hit ballad town once again as the album ends; well not a complete ballad. The Best Is Yet To Come, ironically titled for the last song that is recorded and placed for us to hear in their long career. And with that we come to the end of Scorpions recording career and as they hit the towns & cities on their final world tour, the fans get the ominous feeling of seeing them live for the last time.

All In Good Time – Barenaked Ladies

All In Good Time is the 9th studio album of original material by the Barenaked Ladies and the first without founding member Stephen Page. His voice & musical contributions are sorely missed throughout the album but that doesn’t stop this cd from being a strong & entertaining album filled with good songs. Let’s face it, as much as I love this band, they are never going to be as good as they were as a 5 piece band and Page was a huge part of the band. I’d prefer to treat the current 4 members as a separate band just to get past the absence of Page. It would have been the same without Ed Robertson as well, just because the duo’s vocals harmonies are such a big part of this band’s greatness. With Page’s departure, Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan filled the void by contributing a comparatively greater share of lead vocals than on previous albums.Anyway, let’s take a listen shall we?

I like the fact that BNL decided to tackle the gaping absence of their erstwhile singer/guitarist by addressing it right at the beginning. You Run Away is in parts about Page leaving the band but not completely about it. The first single is a strong ballad that has some lovely melodies and is hauntingly going to remind all of us BNL fans of Page’s leaving the band. ‘I tried to be your brother, you cry & ran for cover’ is so much about Stephen. Summertime features some strong guitar riffs alternating with melodic & lighter stuff. This is a great song which should be a live favourite. Kevin Hearn steps up to the microphone to sing Another Heartbreak, which is about, er…what else, another heartbreak. I really like this song the way that Hearn sings in his earnest & humble style. Tyler Stewart doe another fine job on the drums on this song.

Four Seconds is a fun song, a bit like One Week but it actually reminds me of some cartoon song about ghosts (can’t remember which one). I just love this song so much, that harks back to their playbest. Finally, Robertson finds three rhymes for the apparently unrhymable word Orange in a Django Reinhardt meets Jay-Z beer-hall sing-along called “Four Seconds”: “Oh Flip, The light is turning Orange / Coat ripped, when I caught it in the door hinge/ I slipped when the lady in the 4 inch / Bought it in a store in Germany.” Creeggan sings On The Lookout; I didn’t know that he had such a wonderful voice. Ordinary maybe the title of the next track but Robertson’s vocals is anything but on this track. More hard rock sounds comes out in the groovy I Have Learned. Another standout is Every Subway Car; I’m telling you this is certainly one of the best songs ever. Robertson sings about a love-struck graffiti artist, who declares his love all across the city, painting his message of adoration.

Hearn sings about a ghost town called Jerome in his shy-college freshman style of vocals (the best way that I can describe it), describing the allure of the place and why you should visit it. How Long starts off not sounding like anything BNL has ever done before; no wonder – Ed sounds a little angry & pissed off (as much as BNL can do that type of music) and vents a little bit. We then move onto Golden Boy, which also seems to address Page’s decision to leave BNL. The lyrics seem to also have that bitterness that the band must feel on his leaving them. I Saw It addresses the subject of bullying of school kids. Creegan sings about standing up and facing the bullying, and sings in a beautiful style.

Robertson sings on The Love We’re In, a sad song about lovers who are at the end of a waning relationship and coming to terms with the death of their romance. “Even a beggar must have to choose. They say you shouldn’t wager more than you can lose, Make mine a double, just hold the booze”. As we close the album Hearn sings about a euphoric sensation in watching the Northern Lights which reminds me of a scene in a film depicting a snow covered town and two lovers driving to an open area to lie on the back of their truck, huddled in blankets and admiring the Aurora Borealis aka Northern Lights.

Without Page, the band now consists of Ed Robertson (guitar/vocals), Jim Creeggan (bass/vocals), Kevin Hearn (keyboard/guitar/vocals), and Tyler Stewart (drums/vocals). There is an amazing array of talents here, from multi-instrumental band members to having four vocalists able to help out and offer very different sounds and styles to their music. The bonus tracks are acoustic versions of Another Heartbreak & Four Seconds.

Life Starts Now – Three Days Grace

One early morning in 2003 while heading home from work in a company cab, a colleague introduced me to the music of Three Days Grace via a couple of mp3s on a mixed cd. Soon I became a casual fan of the band while watching their music videos to their hit songs like Home & Just Like You. That casual fan status would continue however I must admit that some of their songs are just fabulous like the anti-suicide / child molestation single Never Too Late. I’ve got all their albums including the one reviewed here in this post, Life Starts Now.

This is the 3rd album of the Norwood, Ontario quartet, released on September 22, 2009. It is the band’s second album produced by¬†Howard Benson. After being on the road for five years with Three Days Grace,¬†bassist Brad Walst stated, “We all came home and got a hard dose of life,” which the band then used to create a more “musically in-depth and personal album”. He describes Life Starts Now as a record about “confronting life and how fragile it can be”.¬†Opening track Bitter Taste is evidence hinting that the band haven’t changed too much from their previous releases – a simple riff starts the song, and singer Adam Grontier follows with a typical verse and chorus structure and delivers a hook.

In a similar vein but with a lot more radio friendly tune is Break, the first single off the track, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Rock Charts. Catchy guitar riffs and a thumping drum beat sets this song apart. It’s about breaking free from the situation that you find yourself in and one you do not like. World So Cold is next; a typical 3DG song about a bitter & unfriendly world after a heartbreak. Lost In You is probably going to be a single for the reasons that it’s radio friendly, appeals to multiple listeners, is the obligatory, catchy song of affection, and has a certain degree of repeated listenability. The song sounds a lot like Default to me. We get back to harder riffs in The Good Life.

No More is a good song and should have been released as a single; lyrically it’s a vulnerable look at living in fear and stating that its not the kind of living we should live. The piano led Last To Know is a ballad about broken love and is a moving song. Someone Who Cares is a song about the desperate longing for people to care about each other in a bleak looking world. I really like Neil Sanderson‚Äôs Freese-worthy drum performances throughout this album and on this track he lays down a strong groove. The eerie sounding Bully has ‚Äúcreeping-up-behind-you‚ÄĚ kind of vibe that cunningly carves out a perfect setting with Grontier’s distorted vocals for the verses. Without You is the protagonist wondering what life would be without the person he is singing about. Walst’s best work on the bass comes in Going Down,¬† and we end the album with the title track Life Starts Now – which is about starting afresh and removing all the negativity. Guitarist Barry Stock who does a bang up job all over the cd, pays homage to the Jerry Cantrell / Alice In Chains sound in his rhythm guitar and lead breaks. Overall a very solid album although it doesn’t beat it’s predecessor.

The Circle – Bon Jovi

So they had their fling with country edged songs and now are back to rocking your eardrums with The Circle. I’d like anything that Jon, Tico, Ritchie & David care to put out. Ofcourse they ar never going to top their best efforts Slippery When Wet & New Jersey or even These Days or Keep The Faith. I thought that the band peaked with those for albums and everything else that has followed has failed to live up to those lofty standards. Ofcourse you have the odd single here or there but not an entire album. Still Bon Jovi are way more listenable than most stuff that seems to be popular these days (and Bon Jovi are very popular even now) even as the members hit their 50s (Jon & David are just 2 years away from the half century mark, Tico is 56 & Richie is 51). The album was released in Germany and Ireland on October 30, 2009. The album debuted at number 1 in several countries, including the U.S., where it sold 163,000 copies in its first week debuting at number 1 on the Billboard charts. This gives them their fourth number 1 album after their 2007 effort, Lost Highway.

So what can you expect from a new Jovi record? More crowd pleasing, arena rocking songs like the lead single and opening track We Weren’t Born To Follow; a song about standing up against all odds, a song of defiance and defining the human spirit. The single was nominated for a¬†Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Originally written by¬†Jon, Sambora and¬†Billy Falcon for a Bon Jovi greatest hits collection that got shelved, When We Were Beautiful was released as an iTunes only promo single from¬†The Circle in the US. It became available as a digital download from the US¬†iTunes store on October 26, 2009. The song was released for download to coincide with Bon Jovi documentary When We Were Beautiful on Showtime. The song talks about a bleak world that used to be more than what it has become, and the narrator wishes to find what made that better world work, so he may then try to make his world a better place. The song has since been released as the third official single from the album with the music video being released on May 24, 2010.

Work For The Working Man is a song in praise of the working class masses from which the band has sprung up. It’s all about the people who go through a lot just to get by in life and put food on the table for their families and a roof over their heads. On Superman Tonight Jon explains its about a boy watching a girl going through ups & down in life, from a distance and wondering if she needs a hero to save her and wishes that he could be that for her. The Bullet starts off with a harder sounding guitar riff and is a social commentary about the way the gun, bullets and weapons in general create havoc for humans. When a relationship goes down south, goes sour, then the other person becomes the Thorn In My Side. Although finally acknowledging this fact, this song is also about the positiveness of the inevitable moving on. Live Before You Die is about to appreciate what you have and your youth and to living life to the fullest while you can.

Broken Promiseland doesn’t sound like a Bon Jovi track; it’s just different. This is a good thing as it sounds fresher. Love’s The Only Rule & Fast Cars are ok songs, mostly there to make the numbers but pleasant all the same. Happy Now is a bit cheesy and we end the album with the ballad Learn To Love is about accepting the world that you are living in and loving it is the first step. Overall a good album, not groundbreaking but good enough for many a spin on your cd player. Here’s the video for When We Were Beautiful.

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot

For the uninitiated, Chickenfoot is in simple words best described as a “supergroup”. 4 excellent musicians who enjoy working, ie. playing music with each other, got together to create a strong unit. The 4 of them are Chad Smith (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) on drums, Sammy Hagar (ex-Van Halen & solo artist) on vocals & support guitar, Michael Anthony (ex-Van Halen) on bass and the legendary guitar maestro Joe Satriani! Now unlike a lot of so called super groups, this really defines the term SUPER GROUP!

It’s a celebration of sorts when 4 gentlemen of this high caliber come forth to make something new and enjoyable and their eponymously titled debut album has tons of good things for rock fans. Let’s start off :

Avenida Revolution, with it’s excellent riffs thunder out from the onset, a great way to start this album. Lyrically it’s about the street in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, that runs alongside the US/Mexican border. Funky rocking & fun loving – is how I would describe the next track that is Soap On A Rope. The video is equally fun to watch with the band running around, playing their instruments along with this lengthy rope in the way. The main riff, although simple, is extremely catchy and induces air guitar sessions like crazy. Sexy Little Thing is a kickass, crowd pleaser and is for the top down, driving on a summer day. When it slows & quiets down a bit before banging back into life – magic! We then come to my fav track on this record – Oh Yeah! which is a rock anthem with the requisite groovy guitar riff snaking all over the song. Solid solo, bombastic drums and booming bass – what more could you ask?

Runnin’ Out is a song that reminds me a lot of old Van Halen and it’s a groovy song about running out of stuff. A bit more heavy sounding riff starts off Get It Up, with the exclamation “Arriba, ‘riba”. Musically it’s Satriani’s baby, with some excellent guitar chops laid down over Anthony’s bass licks and Smith’s drum work. Down The Drain is up next, a song about letting things go waste. My Kinda Girl is about the down to earth & tough woman who is more to the liking of the singer. Learning To Fall is about at the end of day, after all is said and done and you are tired, you will go crawling back to what you trust best. Turning Left & Future In The Past close out this solid album which has not a single weak song or even a weak moment in it. What you get is 4 tried & true veterans with loads of experience & road miles under their belt and who now just wanna have some fun with their friends. And we get some cool rocking tunes for that.

Here’s the video for Oh Yeah

The Rumba Foundation – Jesse Cook

Firmly established as an icon & leading member of the rumba &¬† Nouveau flamenco brand of world music, Jesse Cook brought forth The Rumba Foundation. Released last year the cd continues Jesse Cook’s journey across time, space and sound.¬† Jesse melds his trademark rumba flamenco style with the music of Cuba, Haiti and Columbia, among others. With all of the dazzling instrumental pyrotechnics he employs, Jesse’s emphasis is always on the melody and the infectious rhythms that make him an airplay favorite. The album sounds very South American in style as Cuban & African music mixes with exotic Spanish guitar of Mediterranean, rumba flamenco, pop and world tones.

Let’s get things rolling, as you listen to Bogota By Bus, you get the image of a fun & energetic journey by bus with the travelers singing & playing their instruments and dancing to the beat. Compared to the flirty & cheerful opening track, Santa Marta is a lot more melancholic; visions of longing for a seaside town with family & friends waiting for us float through my mind as the melodic guitar licks fill the air. Tuesday’s Child starts off with sounds of a toddler in the background and then the moody music picks off.

Manolo’s Lament is the next track; again brings us the Latin world of fish boats and sea side towns. After flexing his guitar strings in the 27 second Improv 1, come the mid-tempo La Rumba De’el Jefe, a wonderful piece of musical restraint.¬† After the brief 16 second Improv 2, we waltz into Gaita with it’s strong rhythm section and lovely melody. We slow things down for the ethereal Rain Day and it’s feeling of loneliness.

The last three songs¬† – a middle eastern sounding Bombay Diner that creates images of a bustling neighbourhood with people mingling about, Afternoon At Satie’s which is a gentle intimate affair & the totally fun & sing-a-long version of Paul Simon’s Cecilia – are probably the best tracks on the album with the exception of the opening song. Great way to end the album and you’ll be hitting the play button many times over.

The cd features Juan Alberto Fernandez Polo, Jeremy Fisher (vocals); Chris Church (violin); Jonathan Tortolano, Kevin Fox (cello); Juan De Sedas (accordion); Drew Birston (double bass); Rafael Antonio Rodriguez, Jairo Rafael Herrera, Gabriel Eduardo Torregrosa, Dionisio Jose Yepes (percussion).

Good, Bad & Pretty Things – Jessie Farrell

Spurned on by the acceptance of her previous album, Nothing Fancy, Jessie Farrell released her 3rd album overall and second as a country singer. Titled Good, Bad & Pretty Things, it’s a little deceiving – I fail to see the ‘bad’ things in the album while seeing plenty of the other two!

Released in October, we start off with the first song on the cd and the first single. You Make Me Feel is about the energy and the way new love makes you feel. It’s all about the promise of romance and the enthusiasm of youthfullness. Burn So Bright is about going for your dreams and taking chances and letting your passions loose. It should ideally have been the second single but maybe it might get a later release in the new year.

Sober is a ballad in which Jessie compares the obsession of being in a disastrous relationship as being an alcoholic. And the feeling of being liberated as compared to sobriety. It’s one of her best songs till date. A surprising bad-cowgirl-blues number comes next – Nobody Says No is a bar song sung in an in your face manner. Lyrically it’s about living your life by your own rules and not taking stick from anyone. Cha Ching is a fun song about being fond of money & riches & spending on expensive things but admitting that good love is better than that.

Your Fantasy is about just that – being the fantasy of the one you love and willing to do almost anything to play that part. Heart Of Gold is another fun song about finding a good person. Jessie than compares a cheating & bad lover to the Worst Roadside Sandwich in a hilarious manner. The funny music and kids’ chorus also adds to the fun lyrics which are well written. Fried is a bar stomping hill billy romp. Not In Kansas is a love ballad that Jessie sings extremely well, comparing the change in direction of life to the old line.

Lavender Tea is a playful song. The album ends with a love ballad titled New Ways To Love, a show of appreciation for being there for the protagonist. Great album. Sorry but the official video for the first single was removed from Youtube (not sure why) so enjoy a live rendition.

Everyone is Someone – Dala

I so loved their 2007 effort Who Do You Think You Are (which I had reviewed a few weeks ago), that I just had to get their 2009 followup, Everyone Is Someone. They performed a sold-out show at The Harbourfront Centre’s Enwave Theatre, with special guest appearances by Stuart McLean and Tom Cochrane. In August, Dala were the only Canadian group asked to perform at the 50th Annversary of the legendary Newport Folk Festival in Newport R.I.. They are being mentioned as a duo that no folk-pop/rock fan should miss. If you like melodies, good vocals, smooth harmonies – these gals are the best at it.

The cd starts of with the melancholic Lonely Girl that is haunting & melodic and is about a girl struggling with live and the lessons it has dealt her. Alive is a bit more upbeat with a nice drum beat and states that there are more important things in the world going on and to be glad to be living and live in the moment. Crushed is a tender ballad about the feeling that accompanies loss of a lover.

Levi Blues is a sweet & cute love song about wanting to travel the world but still be with the love of their life. I would say that this is the perfect song for first time listeners  of this duo to get introduced to them. Second single Horses is another ballad about days gone by and lost childhood. Compass follows in the same lines, a quite ballad with just vocals accompanies by acoustic guitar and a bit of keyboards. Northern Lights is probably the best song in the bunch Рabout simple dreams and wishes.

Face In The Morning is an introspective ballad. The sexy sounding Younger is next and the vocals is breathy and suggestive, while lyrically it’s about the things that makes us feel younger. Finally we have Stand In Awe, a regret about losing the thing that is most important to us. By the end of this song, if you aren’t as madly in love with these two girls (like I am) then – go kill yourself!

These ten songs sound as though they were specifically crafted for soundtrack consideration, and while Dala‚Äôs Amanda Walther (the ‚ÄúDa‚ÄĚ in ‚ÄúDala‚ÄĚ) and Sheila Carabine (the ‚ÄúLa‚ÄĚ) must be pleased to have already had their music featured on Canadian shows such as Flash Point and Falcon Beach, with their lush harmonies and haunting melodies one can only imagine an appearance (during a sad-music-montage, of course) on Grey‚Äôs Anatomy can‚Äôt be too far off down the road!

Who Do You Think You Are – Dala

Dala consists of Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther, both of Scarborough, Ontario. The duo perform a mostly acoustic, breezy folk pop music with rich vocal harmonies & strong song writing skills. The duo released their first album in 2005 and Who Do You Think You Are is their 3rd album, released on August 14th, 2007.

We start off the title track Who Do You Think You Are a song about unrequited love which has a lovely harmony lines. Next comes the sexy sounding Anywhere Under The Moon, with a little shout out to the city of Winnipeg. Lyrically the song is about driving to be with the love of your life. Sunday Dress is about an abuse victim who is searching for an escape and pick up the peices of her her life. A little bit naive, a little innocent is the look back at youthful thoughs in Marilyn Monroe.

Hockey Sweater is about missing your lover when they are away during the holidays and you are holding on to something of theirs in order to miss them less. $5 Pearls is about two people who are very different trying to work it out but they know that it’s totally polar opposites. Sweetest Ones is a song about how the loss of the things that mean the most to you will always hurt you the most. Don’t Wait is about unattainable dreams of one in contradiction with the simple wishes of the other.

Perfect Photo is another simple song yet breathtaking sweet with rich harmonies. Too Much Of Everything & Don’t Believe The Actress close out the album with some delicate melodies and longing in the voices. The latter is particularly endearing. Enjoy the songs, enjoy the video to Anywhere Under The Moon.

New Soul Cowboys

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Gomes since 2006, when I just happened to google him based on the advice of a blues-rock enthusiast. The search led me to his official homepage where I streamed his 2006 release Music Is The Medicine (and which I reviewed in January 2007 here). The New Soul Cowboys is his side venture, a power trio that dwells into the Southern blues-rock scene.

So let’s dish up the fried chicken shall we! Painted Horse is about the freedom of the road, travelling on choppers aka painted horses and living the adventurous lifestyle. Following on similar themes, thought a much more lighter sounding, is Rebel Highway. Once again it’s about guitars, travelling the American south, following in the footsteps of their heroes and playing in bars to enthusiastic audiences. Gamblin’ Man follows the lines of the outlaw life and take a chance when making your fortunes.

What’s It All About is a clap along, sing along cheerful bar dance of a song. It’s about falling in love and letting the object of your affection know about your feelings. Somebody’s Missing is a ballad about being alone and reminiscing about the one that got away. Purple Whiskey Sack is a 2006 song, off Gomes’ solo album Long Road Home. It’srspray download is a down & dirty blues-rock song about fending for yourself and having no one to trust. The purple sack in the song is about Crown Whiskey, a Canadian brand.

Born To Ride once again follows the central biker theme and outlaw lifestyle. Carolina is about a a special & beautiful girl, who the singer falls for. Your Are Amazing is a song about dedication & affection to the woman in your life. The sorta autobiographical song about the trio is the title track; New Soul Cowboys is a funky song. A little southern voodoo rocks up Chicken Cross Bones and the band ends the cd on the ballad Losing You.

The Long Way Home – Terri Clark

The Long Way Home is country superstar Terri Clark’s seventh studio album. The album was released on September 1, 2009 in Canada and through digital retailers in United States and will be released to other US retailers on October 20. It has hit the #3 spot on the Canadian country charts and #16 on the album charts in that country.

She starts us off rocking with the rolling first single Gypsy Boots, which is more rockn’roll than country but who’s complaining? A balls to the walls number about taking what life gives ya and sticking to your guns, Terri is in fine vocal form here. If You Want Fire is, as Terri explains, is as close as she gets to a Tom Petty number. Lyrically is about what true love is worth and if you want to have it, you have to fight for it.

Dealing with uncomfortable emotions, thoughts & feelings, A Million Ways To Run was written while she was on vacation in Hawaii. Clark also gets help from her mother on this track. What Happens In Vegas (Follows You Home) is a true story (not sure about whom) about finding unexpected true love in the sin city of Las Vegas. Merry Go Round is a coming of age song and about finding out what are the things that really matter in life. It’s about slowing down and appreciating what you have.

An older song The One You Love, gave Terri more meaning after her mom’s 3 year battle with cancer. Lyrically the song is being unable to save the one you love from a disease or an alcohol abuse as is the case in here. Vince Gill does backup vocals on this track. Poor Girl’s Dream is about struggling with the simple things because you don’t have the cash. It also features a mean acoustic slide guitar and should definetly be a single. If I Could Be You is about wanting to do just about anything to help a loved one.

Tough With Me is about being able to let go and open up to your lover. It’s about having a shoulder to lean on and that’s it’s ok to be vunerable. You Tell Me is a duet with Johnny Reid, a love song about a couple unsure about their future. And finally the album closes with an acoustic rendition of Gypsy Boots. All great songs from one sexy talented woman. Here’s the video for the first single.