Album Reviews (Arkells, Coldplay, Jane's Addiction)

Crédit photo: Universal Album Reviews (Arkells, Coldplay, Jane's Addiction)


Michigan Left


Our singer-songwriters. Our rock. Our country. Our folk. But what of our pop? The oft-forgotten, more oft unheralded part of this country's musical makeup is the jangly, the jaunty, the melodic straight-up satisfying pop-rock inherited from our commonwealth ancestry and married with aspects of our freer new world leanings. It's why we have Sloan, 20 years strong and still something of a secret. But now, thanks to acts such as Two Hours Traffic, Hey Rosetta!, Tokyo Police Club and Arkells, there seems to be a rising tide of pop-rocksters ready for bigger and better.

Hamilton's Arkells, especially, have seemed to strike a pleasing nerve with a wider audience, while still mining that rock-club vibe, and should, deservedly, be getting a power push with their excellent, assured second full-length Michigan Left.

It's filled with rousing, handclapping choruses and sonically references everyone from '70s acts such as Sweet and The Raspberries to other diverse artists such as Big Country, The Jam and Jimmy Eat World, while still grounded by something intrinsically, perceptibly Can-pop. In fact, with surefire hits such as "Book Club," "Kiss Cam," "Bloodlines" and a superb title cut, the quintet comes off like the Sam Roberts Band or The Trews, with the edges sanded off and polished up.

And, in other words, it's something fairly memorable.

Rating: 3 out of 5

--Mike Bell, Postmedia News



Mylo Xyloto


To confront a new work by Coldplay -- a concept album, no less -- is to confront your feelings about super-sized rock.

Have you had enough of wordless "whoa-ee-oh" hooks that seem to be written especially for big stadium moments? Sick of insert-handclap-section-here bridges that appear to be there only so 20,000 people can join in later? If so, you might well have a problem with songs like this album's "Paradise" or "Princess of China," the latter a duet featuring Chris Martin and the dreaded Rihanna vocalizing together.

And you wouldn't be alone. Even so, Mylo Xyloto makes it clear from the outset that on disc, Coldplay does this big-moment thing better than just about all the group's contemporaries. And as uncool as they may be in some critical circles, they should be proud of that.

Producer Brian Eno, back behind the board after working with the band on its last album, knows how to build and layer a sound like few others, and the expansive soundscapes of the album work in perfect service to the material, which is mostly group-written.

Striking on that production front are the inspired touches that make their presence felt on close listen. The fuzz guitar solo on the breezy power-pop track "Hurts Like Heaven," the way the epic-sounding "Charlie Brown" winds down with a reflective piano coda, the sparkling guitars set against the acoustic strumming of "Us Against the World" and the squealing Big Country licks in "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" are among them.

The songs -- while perhaps not as consistently interesting as the numbers on the band's previous album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends -- are, for the most part, effortlessly appealing. Even "Paradise," which has already been out as a single, is, for all its arena-rock synth washes, stirringly melodic, while the insistent rocker "Major Minus," with high-pitched "woo-woos" and a falsetto bridge, sounds like a superior Rolling Stones track from the 1980s.

The story, such as it is, is not easy to follow. We've been told through group interviews that the concept album is about two characters who meet, fall in love, escape, face struggles and discover that love conquers all. Themes of alienation, despair and hope run through the disc, with instrumental links keeping a flow in the performance and certain key phrases recurring, all of it reminding us that this is a Concept.

But Mylo Xyloto can easily be appreciated without any of that. It works just as well as a solid collection of album tracks, albeit a collection that will go multi-platinum and get fists pumping in arenas everywhere. Just don't let that put you off.

Mylo Xyloto will be released Monday. One track from the album will be streamed on iTunes each day leading up to the album's release.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

--Bernard Perusse, Postmedia News





You wonder: why there aren't more ladies in hard rock? There's a captive male audience! Still, if Amy Lee didn't exist, the boys would invent her. With her Stevie Nicks' gowns 'n' scarves dyed black, her goth-Christian tropes and panoramic nu-metal, she brings grinding chunky guitars and tinkling piano -- like the dark twinkle and crunch of "Erase This." And then there's her knack for soaring melodies (or melody) as evidenced on album tracks "Lost In Paradise" (one for the girls), "Sick" (one for the self-loathers) and "Never Go Back" (one for the nu-metal diehards). Evanescence is solid -- so solid that it begins to sound like one rolling, chugging, plangent epic.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

--Mark Lepage, Postmedia News


Jane's Addiction

The Great Escape Artist


It would have been far too easy for Perry Farrell and fellow addicts Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins to dismiss the passage of time during their almost decade hiatus. It might even have been more understandable for them to skip over their 2003 reunion, and instead pick up right where they left off in the first time around, releasing a Ritual de lo Redux. It is, after all, the time for '90s nostalgia, and since they were at the forefront of that one-time alternative, now nu-classic rock movement, why not cash in by going back? It certainly seemed to be the direction they were heading when they toured this past summer.

A nice (shocking perhaps?) surprise, then, that The Great Escape Artist is very much the sound of artistic progression. It's still very much a Jane's Addiction record, but it also isn't as dated as that might indicate, instead filling up the passage of time by acknowledging Farrell's electronica-DJ leanings and moving their brooding art-rock into the now. In fact, it's those elements that make the album one solid artistic statement, giving it a flowing feel and a throbbing mood that makes for one fluid listen.

Vocally, Farrell is more subtle than blustery, and musically, the disc sounds like latter-day U2, with parts morphing seamlessly into one dark and ambient sum. By no means is it the beginning of a bigger movement. But, thankfully, it's not the return to one, either.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

--Mike Bell, Postmedia News

Psssttt ! Envoie-ça à ton ami!