Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles: The Grand Bounce
“It doesn’t go around you / It blows right through”. Not only is this the chorus for the first track on The Grand Bounce, “The East Wind”, but it describes the feeling after listening to Gord Downie’s music. As veteran lead singer of the Canadian alternative rock group The Tragically Hip, Downie has maintained his original vocal prowess with a new group of musicians in this recent side project. His use of light jazz percussion and frequent piano backgrounds mix with his narrative lyrics, which can be described as poetic imagery about his life in Canada, really contribute to a great new sound. Where The Tragically Hip are often raucous, Gord Downie has made his Country of Miracles often relaxing and serene. Some favorites on The Grand Bounce are “The Hard Canadian” and “The Drowning Machine”.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Iron & Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean
Embracing a low-fi sound and adding even more piano than his last album, Sam Beam, better known as Iron & Wine, is charging forward with an angelic narrative lyricism that can be felt as defining a new generation of music. Right from the beginning of the album, the listener understands that Beam’s singing directly to their soul with “Walking far From Home”. “Tree by the River” echoes a bass introduction with ease as it leads into an acoustic ballad with a choir as background. The most experimental track on the album, “Rabbit Will Run”, echoes back to some of his previous sounds that seemingly pull the listener through a field at sunrise. The imagery on this song especially, and Kiss Each Other Clean as a whole, just may be Sam Beam at his best, easily putting his last album, The Shepherd’s Dog, to shame. Don’t miss this newest release from a sure-to-be folk legend.
Rating: 5 out of 5
James Blake: James Blake
UK phenomenon James Blake finally releases a full album. The jazz/glitch musician echoes back to such rare greats, like the work of Hall & Oates or Player. While some may think that these artists aren’t good today, you can’t deny that they owned the stage in the late 70s/early 80s. Blake blends these 80s influences with new technology in the form of keyboards and glitch repetitions. Being honest, the first time this album was reviewed, it caught me pretty off guard. It comes off as very abstract for being so famous in the UK. However, with a couple of listens, this album is slowly becoming a great release. A favorite from the album is “I Never Learnt to Share”, as the virtually anyone can connect with the lyrics that deal with siblings. Other favorites were obviously the two singles, “Limit to Your Love” and “The Wilhelm Scream”, but it was more surprising to find out how much inspiration from soul music went into making “Unluck”, the first track. Don’t miss this one, either, as its sure to be the start of a long career for Blake.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Motorhead: The World is Yours
While it needs admitting that Lemmy is getting old and his voice is declining, I’m still virtually growing out a handlebar mustache at the release of this album. Motorhead, probably most famous for “Ace of Spades” and their several tours with Blue Oyster Cult, has been one of the leaders in the heavy metal genre since the 70s. With largely party rock with Lemmy Kilmister’s famous vocal style, Motorhead has achieved an amazingly sizable fan-base that I’m sure will not be disappointed with this new release. “Devils in my Head”, “Born to Lose”, and “Waiting for the Snake” are some favorites from The World is Yours.
Rating: 4 out of 5