November 2013 Issue CD Reviews

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Hey everyone, we have heard your suggestions and are now starting our upgrade of the website! One of the things that was mentioned was how long it took the CD Reviews page to load due to having ALL the CD reviews all on one page. We are going to change that! But until that change happens, we will be refraining from posting anything on here!

Check out our articles and videos on Youtube in the meantime!

Thank you,

~The Musetta Stone Team

August 2013 Issue CD Reviews

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Title: Song For People
Artist: Daniel Bellefeuille
Label: The Weingärtner Phonogram Company
Genre: Experimental Jazz

Review by Matty Poon


Daniel Bellefeuille, voice and composer
Logan Bennett and Nick Hall, trumpets
Holly Bryan, horn
Julia Broome-Robinson, trombone
Katie Tesarowski, tuba

The Weingärtner Phonogram Company’s first release on their label, Song For People is a work by composer Daniel Bellefeuille for brass quintet, drums, and vocals.  Combining many different styles and genres, this work cannot be categorized under just one genre.

One thing that stood out to me about the composition – and something that I liked – was the introduction of the drums halfway through the piece.  It might sound like something small, but I appreciate when a composer decisively incorporates instruments into their pieces.  In Song For People, it would not make sense to have the drums start with the brass quintet; the utilization of the rhythm section helped to highlight a change in the overall atmosphere and mood of the piece.

Personally, I believe that art should be a comment on our society, and the lyrics of Song For People clearly depict the struggle we as humans are facing in this time and age.  I guess you can even categorize this piece of music as a protest song.

 

The Weingärtner Phonogram Company was founded in 2013 and actively promotes new works in different genres, from classical chamber works to jazz and folk tunes.  The company prides themselves in using traditional techniques paired with a blend of analog and digital recording technology to bring to the public high quality products.

Please visit The Weingärtner Phonogram Company at:
http://www.weingartnerphonogram.com

On facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/weingartnerphonogram

Please visit Brian Weingärtner at:
http://www.weingartner-music.com/weingartner-music.com

Please visit the Pacific Spirit Brass at:
https://www.facebook.com/PacificSpiritBrass

Title: Changing Everything
Artist: Joe Blessett
Genre: Experimental Jazz

Review by Ryan Noakes


Joe Blessett is an Experimental Jazz musician from Orlando who prefers to create music in the studio vs. performing it live.  His recordings are all just him playing Alto Sax, guitar, bass, and keyboards.  Somewhat like the jazz version of Nine Inch Nails.  His newest studio creation, Changing Everything came out in January.

The first thing that struck me are the similarities to Miles Davis’ album Doo Bop.  There is a certain urban inspiration that comes through on several tracks in a very similar way to the way Miles Davis was inspired by the sounds of the streets on Doo Bop.  And there are even moments of hearing some trumpet with the waw-waw mute, a sound Miles Davis is quite known for, in the track “Giving It”.  Though it would have made somewhat more sense to incorporate the muted trumpet sounds in homage to Miles Davis on the track titled “Talking to Miles” in my opinion.
Blessett’s saxophone playing is quite enjoyable, but the backing tracks sound a little more like something one would find on cheesy elevator music to me quite often.  There are some really interesting electronic sounds, but in combination with the more Adult Contemporary/Easy Listening synth sounds, these electronic sounds just seem really out of place to me.  As well, I feel Blessett embraces delay effects a tad too much for my liking on several tracks. 

These complaints aside, there is still some good music to be heard, though it is not your typical Jazz CD.  I do enjoy some of the more experimental aspects of this disk, but some of it also fails to resonate with me.  Such is the joy of any artistic experiment: sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t, and every person is going to have a different response to it.  If nothing else, one must give Joe Blessett kudos for not just being a cookie-cutter carbon copy of everything else out there.

Track Listing:

  1. Changing Everything
  2. Seduction of a Dream
  3. Sometimes life just hurts
  4. Necessary Drama
  5. Giving It
  6. Talking to Miles
  7. Brothers
  8. Hidden Edges
  9. Street to the Stage
  10. Oceanside
  11. Anna Mae’s Place
  12. Amoral Behaviour
  13. Thank You
  14. It’s Been Fun
  15. White Roses
  16. Miles
  17. Defining Change
  18. Remember I love you
  19. Jazz R.I.P.

Visit Joe Blessett at:
http://www.joeblessett.com

Title: Speak Deluxe
Artist: Marla Mase
Genre: Various

Review by Ryan Noakes


Marla Mase is a writer/performer/producer/singer/songwriter from New York City, known for her provocative, raw performance style and intelligent lyrics.  Her music ranges from rock n' roll to experimental spoken word, funk and punk rock.  When touring in China, Marla was invited by Friends of the UN to perform for UN GLOBAL PEACE DAY in Linzhou City, where she was given an honorary "Messenger of Peace" award for her visionary work as a songwriter and performing artist.  Her newest CD, SPEAK Deluxe came out in February.

This disk is full of passion.  Mase's vocals are gritty, harsh, and rough around the edges, and then suddenly airy and soft.  The music is hard rock, punk, world, reggae, you name it, and it all blends together to dive home her message of peace in such an authentic and genuine way.  Unlike many others who attempt to switch from different styles/genres and blend them all together, Mase very convincingly embraces each different style/genre, which is very rewarding to listen to.

The band is equally adept in each different style/genre, and change styles and feels from track to track with ease.  SPEAK Deluxe is a solid album all the way through, full of great music and a powerful message of peace throughout.

Track Listing:

  1. Scream (reprise)
  2. Piece of Peace
  3. Open Up My Heart
  4. Lioness
  5. New Cell Phone
  6. Queen of Imperfection
  7. She Hooked Him Up
  8. Divine Restlessness
  9. AnnaRexia
  10. Kill Love
  11. Blog
  12. Dance the Tango
  13. Smithereenes
  14. Scream
  15. Squirm
  16. BONUS TRACK – AnnaRexia – Bill Laswell Dubmix

Visit Marla Mase at:
http://www.marlamase.com

Title: Wicked
Artist: Various
Genre: Musical OST

Review by Amanda Chan


There aren’t words to express how much I love this CD.  It’s not just because the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth singing together make my musical heart soar, but also because the musicality is beautiful.

My favorite song, vocally, on this CD is probably For Good, the only song that is solely an Idina / Kristin duet.  Their voices compliment and balance each other flawlessly.  At the beginning of the piece, there seems to be a distinct difference between the two voices – Menzel has a darker quality to her vocals that supports her role as the “Wicked Witch” while Chenoweth’s has a more light and delicate style.  By the end, both women have taken a bit of each other to create a mutual, unified style.  No person could hate this song.  Instrumentally, my favor points to another piece on the CD.

While the first track, No One Mourns the Wicked, is the most obvious display of instrumental genius, I actually prefer Dancing Through Life.  While this is the longest song in its entirety, I feel it is also the song that goes through the most changes.  It starts light and quite laid back with the vocals of Norbert Leo Butz, but soon transitions to a smooth rock rhythm.  In the next verse, the music adds a Latin influence before an aria-esque segment by Michelle Federer.  The instrumental break allows the audience to revel in the sounds of the musicians the cast joins in at the end.

Of course, I couldn’t complete this review without saying something about Defying Gravity.  It’s just amazing.  I find it a heart-wrenching, passionate song full of drama and emotion.  This is culmination of the two characters and that definitely comes through in the music.

I had the privilege to see this musical live in Vancouver and regardless of being there with 60-some middle school students, I couldn’t tear my eyes off the stage.  I couldn’t see the pit, but I remember being constantly stunned by their skill.  The drummer actually has his own booth while the percussionist is literally, surrounded by instruments.  Many of the musicians double, triple or even quadruple on instruments and I can’t even imagine how they do it at a live show.  If you ever have a change to see it on Broadway, I strongly encourage you to go – you will be far from disappointed.

 

Check out these Youtube videos!

Defying Gravity live at the Tony’s with Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig

Behind the Emerald Curtain: Music Edition (a look at the percussionist in the pit): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YseMMzB9ZCY

Title: Like Reality
Genre: Electronic / Dance / Ambience

Review by Ryan Noakes


Stephano Gavilanes is an electronic/dance/ambient music artist/producer from NYC.  His most recent album *just* came out, titled Like Reality.

This album is a fun electronic music disk to listen to.  It has a creative blend of electronic beats and sounds that at times reminds me of the Chemical Brothers.  The sounds Gavilanes creates are very diverse, keeping each track fresh and preventing any boredom from thinking “yeah, you’ve already used all these sounds before, got anything new?”  Each track has something new and different that he created on his synthesizers, and he combines these sounds with samples of acoustic instruments at times as well, giving a very robust sound world across the entire disk.

Track Listing:

  1. Geo
  2. Disco Paris
  3. Factory
  4. 24kt
  5. Ultra Ride
  6. Normal Bias
  7. Playgrounds
  8. Networks
  9. Goodbye Megabyte
  10. January 18th
  11. #
  12. Factory (Prototype ? App App Mix)
  13. 24kt (Red Carpet Mix
  14. Ultra Ride (Midnight Mix)

Visit Stephano Gavilanes at:
http://www.stephanogavilanes.com

May 2013 Issue CD Reviews

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Title: Amos Got Soul
Artist: Dave Plaehn
Genre: Reggae, Blues

Review by Ryan Noakes


Dave Plaehn is a Blues singer/songwriter originally from Iowa now living in Oregon.  He has been in a wide variety of bands, mixing acoustic reggae, Cajun, blues, and Mariachi funk.  In 1981 he began releasing solo albums of all original tunes, the most recent of which is Amos Got Soul.

This album continues Plaehn’s history of mixing reggae and blues together, which is a really fun combination to listen to.  As well, there are some more straight forward blues tracks, and some (for lack of a better term) Adult Contemporary sounds throughout the album.  Plaehn’s voice reminds me of Lyle Lovett at times, and he displays a pretty good versatility throughout the album, including some very nice harmonies.  The songwriting has a couple really neat moments of going in unexpected directions, keeping things fresh and engaging.

The highlights of the album for me are definitely Plaehn’s harmonica playing.  He was endorsed by Hohner in 1997, and reading that before hearing anything had me really excited to hear his playing.  I had to wait until about halfway through the album to hear the first harmonica sounds, which was a bit of a disappointment.  He made up for it with the track “Stranger Blues”, which is just him singing and playing some licks on the harmonica between lines, “Harp Stomp II”, which was a really fun harp and guitar duet, there were also some great harmonica moments on “Somebody Waits For Me”.

Track Listing:

  1. (You're Still) In My Hair
  2. Doodle Li
  3. Hold My Tears
  4. Amos Got Soul
  5. Pickin Up the Pieces
  6. The Woman I Left Behind
  7. I Want To
  8. Stranger Blues
  9. I'm Not Brokenhearted
  10. Harp Stomp II
  11. Pray, Jesus
  12. Somebody Waits For Me


Visit Dave Plaehn at:
www.plaehnmusic.com

Title: Wolf Thief EP (2013)
Artist: Maarten Bayliss
Genre: Experimental Indie

Review by Amanda Chan


I'll be out right honest and admit that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed listening to this EP. I've never really been that much into Electronic music, but this may have convinced me to take another look at this genre of music. Maarten Bayliss is a new artist and although there are only 3 tracks on his EP, they definitely give the audience something more original than the "standard" electronic music. Plus, there's actually singing in it!

When I first started listening to Harps, I immediately thought of Steve Reich. There is a repetitive piano melody that repeats throughout most of the song, but unlike Steve Reich, the entire track is not completely dependant on just this one line. As he starts singing, it sounds like two different songs, but it works and it works well. As it nears the end, there is a drastic change and the music mimics a lullaby. I have to admit I loved the contrast between the two different sections.

The second track, Paper Stains, reminded me of walking down a sidewalk with a set of heavy shoes (I have no idea why, but it does). Again, there is a bit of a repetitive line, but what is great is that it's not boring. Bayliss has made subtle changes that the ear picks up so the mind is constantly intrigued by what is happening in the music. There are lyrics, but they are not overpowering – there is a balance between the words and the music that makes this my favorite of the three.

The final track, Sound Tower, felt like the darkest of the three tracks and seems to slide into the realm of Hip-Hop. The piano introduces the melody this time and then the different layers start to appear. There is a bright backbeat that reminds me of beat-boxing and although it lends a very unique touch to this piece, I found it a bit distracting from the lyrics and music happening underneath it. There's a short portion of it when I felt there was just too much going on, but that is soon remedied by the return of the piano and solid vocals.

Again, I was really surprised I enjoyed these tracks as much as I did, but it's definitely opened my eyes a little to what is out there. Maarten Bayliss has done some great work with confident music and a confident voice. I'm pretty psyched to see what else he has coming. Definitely drop by his site and give him a listen!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this disk, and I can say without reservation that if you enjoy blues-rock/roots music you’ll thoroughly enjoy it too.
Track Listing:

  1. Harps
  2. Paper Stains
  3. Sound Tower


Listen to parts of the EP at:
wolfthief.bandcamp.com/

Apr 2013 Issue CD Reviews

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Title: So There (2012)
Artist: Grant Lyle
Genre: Blues Rock / Roots

Review by Ryan Noakes


Grant Lyle is a Canadian blues-rock/roots performer who has been active for 20 years.  His most recent CD “So There” was released in April, 2012.  11 of the 12 tracks are written by Lyle, with the final track covering “Levee Moan” by Son House.

The first track, “Impressions” is essentially a 3 minute blues guitar solo with some nice guitar effects in the background.  A very mellow introduction with some nice guitar sounds.  The second track, “Let It Out” really kicks off the disk with a full band playing with Lyle, and we now get to hear his voice.  Which is a perfect blues-rock voice in my opinion, with just the right hint of gravelly sound to it for that bluesy grit.  At times there’s even a slight Bruce Springsteen-like quality to his singing, which I quite enjoyed.

The band has a great groove on fast and slow tracks throughout the disk, really creating the vibe for each track perfectly, and Lyle’s songwriting makes for a really fun listen all the way through.  One of the great things about blues-rock music is that the lyrics pretty much always come across as genuine, vs. the contrived nonsense of pop music these days, and Lyle is no exception.  The guitar solos are all excellent, and the instrumental tracks are a nice change of pace where Lyle gets to really showcase his guitar skills.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this disk, and I can say without reservation that if you enjoy blues-rock/roots music you’ll thoroughly enjoy it too.
Track Listing:

  1. Impressions
  2. Let It Out
  3. I Will Wait
  4. You’re Killing Me
  5. Trouble Blues
  6. Walk On
  7. Cheri Ann
  8. From The Hills
  9. You’ve Got Love
  10. Librium
  11. Lost In Temptation
  12. Levee Moan


Visit Grant Lyle at:
www.grantlyle.com

Title: Time Honoured Alibi (2013)
Artist: Louise Aubrie
Genre: Indie / Post-Punk / Rock / Pop

Review by Ryan Noakes


Louise Aubrie is a London-born New York-based musician, bringing together indie post-punk roots with rock and pop melodies.  Her most recent album, “Time Honoured Alibi” which came out in March of 2013, is full of catchy hooks and even catchier melodies.

Aubrie has a fantastically energetic voice that fills each song with a vigor that just keeps you listening.  This CD has a great mix of retro punk sounds that have echoes of The Smiths and The Strokes, and a more modern singer/songwriter vibe that is a delight to listen to.  The songwriting shines throughout with genuine lyrics and enjoyable melodies.

An unexpected duet in “Tonight At Ronnie’s” was a really pleasant surprise.  While the male voice is not quite as solid as Aubrie’s when singing solo, the blend of the two voices together is quite nice.  The final track on the disk, “Gold” is an amazing (mostly) acoustic track which I could easily listen to for an hour straight.

This disk is strong all the way through each of the 8 tracks.  Aubrie’s songwriting is a joy to listen to, and her voice will keep you captivated throughout the CD.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Are you
  2. Lovestruck
  3. Keep It Coming
  4. Circuit
  5. Tonight At Ronnie’s
  6. The Seams
  7. In Honour
  8. Gold


Visit Louise Aubrie at:
www.louiseaubrie.com

Title: Send Me A Sign (2013)
Artist: The Jinxes
Genre: Indie Folk / Pop

Review by Ryan Noakes



Indie folk-pop duo The Jinxes is a collaboration between singer/songwriters Kevin Smith and Deanna Ross. Inspired by the creative process and each other, The Jinxes explore upbeat, harmony-rich terrain in their co-written work.  Their debut EP, “Send Me A Sign” is slated for release in May of this year.  I happened to have an opportunity to get a sneak peak early.

Their vocal harmonies are pure perfection.  One might even be tempted to call them this generation’s Simon & Garfunkle, as the beauty of their harmonies are very similar to the beauty of Simon & Garfunkle’s vocal harmonies, as well as the fact that both Smith and Ross take turns singing the lead vocals, and the folk-rock/folk-pop sound of The Jinxes songwriting.

The songwriting is simple and enchanting, full of grounded lyrics and great harmony.  I was very sad when the 4th and final track ended, because there was no more to listen to.  Such is the way with EP’s; when you like the band they are never long enough to satisfy you.  I really enjoyed this disk, and can’t wait to hear a full-length album in the future!

Track Listing:

  1. Send Me A Sign
  2. Migration
  3. If You Want (the buh bah song)
  4. She Runs Away


Visit The Jinxes at:
www.thejinxes.com

Feb 2013 Issue CD Reviews

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Title: The Complete Tom Jones (1992)
Artist: Tom Jones
Genre: Funk / Soul / Pop

Review by Amanda Chan


I’m an Oldies kind of girl.  A lot of the time, I would prefer listening to classic rock or the radio station that boasts “past hits”.  Elvis, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles frequent my playlists as I “rock out” to the oldies.  I love it all, and Tom Jones is definitely near and dear to my heart, thanks to my father.

Of course, the classic What’s New Pussycat is present on this CD, as are Delilah and She’s A Lady.  Aside from being featured on several films, there is just something about his voice that makes brings floods of positive thoughts to me.  Even the heart-breaking song I’ll Never Fall In Love Again actually brings a smile to my face.

His rich baritone voice classifies him as a crooner and it’s not hard to imagine sold-out arenas where he sang for thousands of women.  The music also brings to mind a time when things were a little simpler, and maybe not as many worries of present today; love was the most difficult part of life.  What I love most about his music is that it is clear in the recordings that he does not depend on technology.  His voice is authentic, the background instruments are authentic, and really, how many “popular” artists today can say they sing with a full orchestra as opposed to pre-recorded tracks?

Tom Jones does not need a computer to make him sound good; he just does.  In Without Love, and in many of his songs, he gives all of him to the performance.  With Letter to Lucille, the foot starts tapping and I can’t help but sing along.  What else do I love?  Those random moments where he speaks/sings.  There is an audible honesty in his voice that labels his music as genuinely authentic. 

Maybe I am not listening to the right radio station, but I miss these artists – the ones who sing because the music is important to them, not just the popularity.  Besides, who doesn’t love Carlton Banks dancing the way he does to It’s Not Unusual?  It’s a standard for the 90’s and shouldn’t ever be forgotten.  And just in case you do, here’s a video clip of it – enjoy it!

Track listings:

  1. It’s Not Unusual
  2. Delilah
  3. Kiss
  4. (It Looks Like) I’ll Never Fall In Love Again
  5. She’s A Lady
  6. Green Green Grass of Home
  7. Love Me Tonight
  8. Without Love
  9. Daughter of Darkness
  10. Letter To Lucille
  11. What’s New Pussycat?
  12. I’m Coming Home
  13. Help Yourself
  14. I (Who Have Nothing)
  15. Move Closer
  16. Detroit City
  17. I Couldn’t Say Goodbye
  18. Till
  19. Somethin’ ‘Bout You Baby I Like
  20. The Young New Mexican Puppeteer


Visit Tom Jones at:
www.tomjones.com

Title: My Life in Widening Circles (2012)
Artist: Stacie Dunlop and Land's End Chamber Ensemble
Genre: Classical Music

Review by Matty Poon



This CD was a gift from the lovely Stacie Dunlop and I was delighted to receive it and have a listen!  It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and listened to some R. Murray Schafer!  The CD is a collaboration between Stacie and the Lands End Ensemble and was recorded at different times at the Rolston Recital Hall here at the Banff Centre!

Mailied (May Song), from Kinderlieder, has a great cute and whimsical atmosphere it creates.  I have to note that the piano accompaniment is bi-tonal (love!).  The text is also quite uplifting, talking of a family that fights for a better life and a rich harvest.  Mailied is my most favourite of the set. 

Hollywood was the next one that I really enjoyed listening to.  It is quick, witty, and overall cheerful, though the text is quite the opposite; describing a man going through his business earning his daily bread. 

Die Vögel im Winter (Birds in Winter) describe three different birds (sparrow, blackbird, and woodpecker), asking for charity from children.  Each bird also has their own characteristic style.

Originally for violin and harp, Wild Bird is performed with piano instead on this album.  The title of the piece was inspired by the vivid orange hair of Jacques Israelievitch, the famed concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony.  The piece itself is extremely chromatic, but even so occasional ‘bird calls’ do ring out.  The violin and piano are in perfect balance, and there is clear dialogue between the two performers at any given time.  The piece is also quite virtuosic, often requiring both performers to push each other to greater heights.  I really enjoyed the fading away at the end of the piece.

Track Listing:

  1. Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello
  2. Wild Bird
  3. Kinderlieder - Mailied
  4. Kinderlieder - Der Pflaumenbaum
  5. Kinderlieder - Die Maske des Bösen
  6. Kinderlieder - Hollywood
  7. Kinderlieder - Wer ist zu Haus?
  8. Kinderlieder - Patriotisches Lied
  9. Kinderlieder - Die Vögel im Winter
  10. Kinderlieder - Die Pappel vom Karlsplatz
  11. Kinderlieder - Wiegenlied
  12. Duo for Violin and Piano - Brightly
  13. Duo for Violin and Piano - Very slowly, expressively
  14. Duo for Violin and Piano - With great vigour and intensity
  15. Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Icarus Main Theme
  16. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - I
  17. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - II
  18. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - III
  19. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - IV
  20. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - V
  21. Six Songs from Rilke's Book of Hours - VI


Visit Stacie Dunlop at:
www.staciedunlop.com

Visit The Lands End Ensemble at:
www.landsendensemble.ca

Visit the Banff Centre at:
www.banffcentre.ca