Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

THE stel­lar de­but record from the Kingston duo of Paul Saulnier (vo­cals, gui­tars, bass, key­boards) and Ben­jamin Nel­son (drums), Meet Me at the Muster Sta­tion, set the bar high for the band’s fol­lowup. Death Dreams ful­fils that prom­ise in many ways, with stronger, more propul­sive, more nu­anced songs that still sound as if they’re on the verge of a glo­ri­ous, scrappy in­die-rock melt­down. There’s just one draw­back. Saulnier is not the strong­est vo­cal­ist, but his pas­sion­ate, ragged whoop worked on Meet Me. On Death Dreams, how­ever, he seems to have given up any at­tempt to hit the notes squarely and re­sorts to in­dis­crim­i­nate yelp­ing. It’s not clear whether it’s an af­fec­ta­tion or a lack of abil­ity, but ei­ther way, it’s of­ten sorely to the songs’ detri­ment.

It’s too bad, be­cause there are so many meaty melodies on Death Dreams that are beg­ging to be belted out (Saulnier’s vo­cals are mostly mer­ci­fully buried in the mix). With its lovely, liq­uid gui­tars, Don’t Go has the pas­sion­ate melan­choly of a new wave love song, and Fu­ture Dont­care could be the feel-sad hit of the sum­mer.

And on the plus side, when Saulnier lets his gui­tar do the singing, whether it’s a snarling J. Mas­cis-style as­sault or a more in­tri­cate, chim­ing af­fair, it’s a thing of beauty. ½ BE­SIDES hav­ing cool band and la­bel monikers, for­mer Wal­tons’ singer­song­writer Ja­son Plumb has cre­ated a lik­able al­bum that any fan of sin­cere Canuck pop rock should get be­hind. With a hot cast of guest mu­si­cians and singers (in­clud­ing mem­bers of Bare­naked Ladies, Chic Gamine, Rush and Shuf­fle Demons) Plumb of­fers a charm­ing com­bi­na­tion of tight rock­ers and sin­cere bal­lads on these 11 well-pro­duced tracks.

There is a lit­tle some­thing for ev­ery­one here whether it’s soar­ing lap steel and strings ( Un­der A Gun, Fall­ing Star) or half-re­mem­bered Jack­son Browne riffs ( Alone With You) the band works up plenty of magic. And if you are look­ing for a new style Kim Mitchell-es­que bar room rocker, All By My­self kicks out more than a lit­tle jam in that di­rec­tion.

Thought­ful lyrics and melodies abound here and Plumb keeps his songs just as real as they need to be. Rec­om­mended.

½ KENNY Gar­rett ac­knowl­edges his in­flu­ences on this 10-track disc of new com­po­si­tions, a mainly post-bop out­ing that siz­zles in the hands of the sax­o­phon­ist with the sting­ing tone.

J. Mac, a trib­ute to the great alto sax­o­phon­ist Jackie Mclean, is the best of a good bunch as Gar­rett sprints through the tune. Detroit is an emo­tional bal­lad, made in­ten­tion­ally to sound like an old scratchy LP, in homage to Gar­rett’s home town, in­ten­si­fied by word­less vo­cals by Nedelka Prescod. Haynes Here is a waltz­ing nod to drum­mer Roy Haynes, while the ti­tle track fea­tures Gar­rett on some ath­letic so­prano sax.

This set is the melodic Gar­rett in top form. DEAN Brody is one of few acts em­braced by coun­try ra­dio that ac­tu­ally sounds coun­try. Amid the sonic em­bel­lish­ments of fid­dles, man­dolins and Do­bros, the Bri­tish Columbia na­tive ex­pounds on the virtues of ru­ral routes, pretty girls, fishin’ poles, re­turn­ing troops, bar­be­cues, shar­ing sleep­ing bags and dirt, of course.

He ap­plauds the mu­sic of Bob Mar­ley, yet thank­fully for­goes the usual faux reg­gae many of his con­tem­po­raries suc­cumb to. Brody re­ally hits pay dirt with Cana­dian Girls, a track cel­e­brat­ing how the most northerly of the fairer sex love hockey and Gor­don Light­foot while look­ing sexy in a tuque!

There are a few dis­ap­point­ments and one of the big­gest is It’s Fri­day where Brody goes Coun­try and East­ern with Great Big Sea con­tribut­ing vo­cals, ac­cor­dion, bouzouki and bodhran. You’d ex­pect a lively kitchen party, but in­stead it moves like its early Satur­day morn­ing and you’re hung right over.

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