Francis Mineau, the drummer of JUNO winning progressive rock band Malajube, has released an album under the moniker Oothèque. While a discothèque makes you wanna dance, I suppose Oothèque is a venue that makes you say, “ooh”. This brilliant solo project was recorded within the capable hands of Pascal Shefteshy (Rufus Wainwright, Fanny Bloom, Peter Peter), and it is definitely worth a purchase. Through these colourful tracks, you will hear ever so subtly the sweeping synths of The Cure, the theatrical rock of Prism, the perky new wave guitars of the Go-Go’s, and even the alternative thrashes of The Smashing Pumpkins.
Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau is on the prowl, but whether the panther is pink or black, it is a happy camper, bouncing around playfully as the opening bass-carried tune would suggest. We are certain that FM, Canada’s founders of electronic rock, would be pleased with the next track and its sweet synths. Sometimes the robot is in need of therapy, and yet again, some therapists are in fact robots. Be careful. The grizzly reflects on its position among the animals who seem pretty content. The jazzy laid-back electro ballad “Secrétaire” yields to a sparkling power burst in its chorus, and “Spiegelbild” tips its toque to post punk sensibilities and dials up the party hotline, “Ligne ouverte,” which takes us to the funky fun of “Lycanthrope”. Going downtown, things get harder, faster, and alas we discover the whole time, we have been strolling through the shimmering thoroughfares of Kuala Lumpur. What a great album!
Ootheque on iTunes Official Website
The 2013 Billboard Music Awards was held tonight. No judges, no critics, just the reality of music sales determined democratically by the general public (and voting in the case of a few categories). While the Americans footed the bill for the show, two Canadian recording artists snowboarded in to collect big, winning three apiece. Justin Bieber who’s been busy travelling thousands of kilometres around the globe on tour as of late won the Milestone Award. He won the award for Top Social Artist and for Top Male Artist, performing twice on the MGM stage. His labelmate Carly Rae Jepsen also won three awards: Top Digital Songs Artist, Top Pop Song, and Top Digital Song. Carly had commented on performing at the awards show last year pointing out that it was the first time ever she performed her song “Call Me Maybe” on TV. “I can just remember feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland,” she said. How fitting then that the latter of the three awards she won tonight was presented by her Canadian sister who had written the theme song for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Avril Lavigne!
In 1968, American band Blood, Sweat and Tears recruited a Canadian lead singer and songwriter: David Clayton-Thomas who had grown up in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale. Clayton-Thomas took the reins and rode the group into the arena of superstardom, thanks in part to his brilliant composition “Spinning Wheel”. Blood, Sweat and Tears’ second, eponymous album topped the Billboard charts, was the third biggest of the year, sold 10 million copies and won the U.S. Grammy Award for Album of the Year beating out The Beatles’ Abbey Road! David was inducted into the Music Hall of Fame in 1996 and received a star on the Walk of Fame in 2010.
Dave’s conduit to success was not an easy one. A tumultuous relationship with his father had him run away from home when he was 14. Living in abandoned buildings, mixing it up with street hooligans, and stealing supplies to survive led to several arrests and overnight stints in the slammer. On one of these stays, he claimed a beat up guitar left behind by a cellmate and in his spare time taught himself to play. In 1962, he began performing at the seedy venues on Toronto’s Yonge Street. Honing his skills and attracting crowds, he eventually caught the attention of Ronnie Hawkins who mentored him, and the rest is, as we say, history.
After the success, disbanding and reformation of BS&T, David Clayton-Thomas assembled his own band of 10 highly skilled musicians in Toronto and began releasing new material. His latest work is entitled A Blues for the New World.
Although this is at the foundation a blues album, the steel-blue eyed crooner, whose voice sounds as good as ever, has raised up a superstructure from constituents of rock, jazz, reggae, and gospel decked with remarkably clever lyrics. Thrilling satire takes bites out of weighty subject matter including the invasion of privacy, a brush with death, the misery of unemployment, and the sleaze of politics. “It’s just politics. It’s a grand charade. The only way to love the law is to not see how it’s made. … Everything gets nasty in the heat of the debate. And you got to be so careful ’cause a word can seal your fate.”
It used to be that instrumentation served as the backdrop, complementing the singer and his poetry. Because the bulk of modern music does the opposite, we are grateful to DCT for reminding us that it doesn’t always have to be that way. A Blues for the New World is available now.
JUNO-nominated Canadian singer-songwriter Jim Guthrie is from Guelph, Ontario, known for its low crime and unemployment rates. The man is a storehouse of creativity, consistently manufacturing many quality albums since his debut in 1995. He also involves himself in side projects working with several indie bands, collaborating with other solo artists, and scoring films and video game soundtracks (million-selling Sword & Sworcery for example). His album Now More Than Ever received a JUNO nomination in 2005. Jim’s latest release is entitled Takes Time and it was five years in the making and produced by Mark Lawson who has worked with the Arcade Fire.
This album is instantly likeable. Part of Guthrie’s appeal lies in his gentle, easy-going, and youthful voice, somewhat of a cross between Vae and “Weird Al” Yankovic. “Taking My Time” opens the work with a crowd cheering as if it were recorded live. High pitched horns flicker like a flock of birds chirping overhead and flying away. “Difference a Day Makes” gets the electricity flowing, the sentimental “Before and After” makes use of vocal harmonies, and “Never Poor” feels like riding a row boat in the moonlight.
Jim turns up the charm on “The Rest Is Yet to Come” with monophonic piano hammers, bubbly guitar strums, and even bells. “Bring on the Night” softly trumpets in afterwards with shuffling drums and appears to be the album’s most popular track. Cheeky yet dreamy “Don’t Be Torn” would make for a great number in a music theatre show. “The Sound of Wanting More” has the geese honking, strings jittering, and perhaps the album’s catchiest melody.
What makes any work of art great is its painstaking inclusion of intricate detail which alienates none but the flouters of intelligence. This is why artists like Jim Guthrie are such treasures. And, of course, accomplishing this … takes time.
Takes Time on iTunes Jim Guthrie‘s Official Website
Nielsen compiles weekly data on sales and radio airplay of singles and ranks them in the Canadian Hot 100 which is published by Billboard. Here we list all entries from the chart that are in whole or in part by Canadian artists.
RK = Rank. OR = Provincial origin of the artist. PS = Position on the Canadian Hot 100. CG = Change from last week’s position. WC = Weeks on the chart. PP = Peak position. Foreign artist in grey. RE = Re-entry. Most impressive numbers in last 3 columns appear in red.
Note: The date of the chart corresponds to the release of Nielsen Music’s Canadian Update newsletter which is normally 10 days less than on the online Billboard chart.