New Releases: St. Patrick’s Day 2017 – Part 1/2

Lots to talk about regarding the St. Patrick’s Day releases of 2017, so we’ve divided them into two batches. Below is an overview of eight releases in our Part 1 of 2.

High calibre vocalist Mario Pelchat (Dolbeau-Mistassini, QC), with three platinum albums under his tuque, teams up with cleric singing group Les Prêtres to deliver some heavenly songs of inspiration in album Agnus Dei. From the same province as Mario, folky singer-songwriter Mat Vezio contributes album Avant la mort des fleurs cueillies (Mmm… Before the Death of Picked Flowers) after the release of a couple of leaf-stirring singles. Mat is actually a drummer who flailed out the beats for some high-profile artists. He proves on the album that he deserves to be a soloist in his own right. Swinging down to Hamilton, rock band Radio Free Universe visits Casa del Diablo (that should be Spanish for Devil’s House). It’s an Anglophone work and for those who want something that’ll crack some boulders.

Acclaimed pianist Jean-Michel Blais joins forces with CFCF (alias of Montrealer Mike Silver) on album Cascades. This is for those who love keyboards of any sort. Blais provides the pretty acoustic piano part and CFCF some atmospheric synths. The album is smartly produced in that the latter don’t drown out Jean-Michel’s impressive finger-work but simply add some flavourful textures to give the finished product a dynamic, full sound. Very nice. For those who want full-blown ambient electronica, you will not believe your ears when they take in the sounds of North Atlantic Drift‘s Departures, Vol. I. This is a duo from Toronto. It’s one of the best albums in the genre that we’ve heard in a long time. Also electronic but vocal and more in the new wave kingdom, Toronto’s Honey Beard offers excellent album Dreamless Sleep. This is a duo who cite Depeche Mode as an influence.

Anyone hungry for some vocal jazz? How about a new album from Johanna Sillanpaa. She is originally from Sweden but now based in Calgary and has made trips out to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival. From This Side is a beautiful record. Finally, we cap Part One off with a soundtrack. CuréLabel is a five-member group from Quebec. Kona is the soundtrack for the video game of the same name, an “interactive and episodic never ending story, which takes place in Northern Quebec in 1970”. When the soundtrack of a video game gets released on CD, you know it’s good, and in this case, it certainly is.

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