Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

ers a look at the in­sight of the group with ver­sions of tracks by the likes of X (Aus­tralia), the Easy Beats, Rolling Stones, the Stooges and an al­most un­rec­og­niz­able ver­sion of the Beach Boys’ Fun Fun Fun.

The set doc­u­ments the band’s evo­lu­tion as song­writ­ers who im­proved with each al­bum along with the pro­duc­tion, lead­ing to their most well-rounded and dy­namic al­bum, the Butch Vig-mas­tered Suc­tion. An in­cluded book pro­vides an over­view of the group’s ca­reer along with the orig­i­nal al­bum art and pho­tos.

The Aber­rant Years is a noisy good time. ½ 49th par­al­lel he’s wor­shipped by a ded­i­cated throng of fans. For his 15th al­bum (if you count a cou­ple of com­pi­la­tions) James does what he does best, and then some. There’s a smooth mix of songs, some orig­i­nals and some well-cho­sen cov­ers, all that fit eas­ily into the gui­tarist’s wheel­house.

His harder blues num­bers ( No Time To Get There, es­pe­cially) are tight and tough, and pro­ducer Joe Hardy (along with James him­self) keeps the gui­tar right up front and solid. Clas­sic rock ra­dio pro­gram­mers could eas­ily re­place the cur­rently over-played James’ stan­dards from the past with sing-along win­ners like Stone Faith and Sweets Gone Sour. But they won’t. Cov­ers in­clude Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley, John Len­non’s Jeal­ous Guy and a rather in­cen­di­ary ver­sion of Peter Green/Fleet­wood Mac trea­sure Oh Well.

Here’s to 15 more, Colin. THE Gaslight An­them is more than just vo­cal­ist-gui­tarist-main song­writer Brian Fal­lon, and to prove it, the cover of the band’s first ma­jor la­bel of­fer­ing fea­tures the names of all the band mem­bers.

Ac­cord­ing to Fal­lon, each mem­ber of the New Jersey quar­tet was in­volved in the writ­ing process for the new al­bum, but the ad­di­tion of more cooks in the kitchen doesn’t take away from the earnest heart­land-punk on Hand­writ­ten, which con­tin­ues the band’s win­ning streak.

The group sticks to what it does best: write an­themic heart­felt odes to love, life and lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. An­them is in the name, so that’s what you get. “Pull it out, turn it up, what’s your favourite song?/That’s mine/I’ve been cry­ing to it since I was young,” Fal­lon states on the ju­bi­lant-sound­ing ti­tle track filled with “whoa-ohs.” Up­beat open­ing num­ber, 45, ap­proaches life and the end of a re­la­tion­ship like a record, com­plete with a sing-along cho­rus and slash­ing gui­tar riff that will sound even bet­ter live.

Other high­lights in­clude the punchy Howl, pop-flavoured Mul­hol­land Drive and bal­lad Na­tional An­them.

Com­par­isons to Bruce Spring­steen and Jaw­breaker will no doubt continue, es­pe­cially with the Boss’s pro­ducer Bren­dan O’Brien work­ing with the Gaslight An­them and mak­ing ev­ery­thing sound big­ger and brighter, but there are far worse song­writ­ers to em­u­late and Fal­lon has no doubt heard those com­par­isons enough to not con­cern him. Good for him and good for us. over­shadow them. She force­fully soars over the cho­rus of the al­bum’s most di­rect and strik­ing song Fi­neshrine, while on slower, more spa­cious songs like Grandloves, her ma­nip­u­lated vo­cals will­ingly re­cede into the murky mist.

Shrines strives for the sim­plic­ity of time­less pop, but it’s the com­bi­na­tion of plen­ti­ful, in­tri­cately stacked tex­tures that give the al­bum its soul. SOME­WHERE be­tween their de­but and their self-ti­tled sopho­more re­lease, Love and Theft slimmed down to a duo from a trio af­ter los­ing band mem­ber Brian Ban­das and their orig­i­nal record la­bel. Since then, singers, writ­ers and gui­tarists Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gun­der­son have scored a new deal and their high­est chart­ing sin­gle yet in An­gel Eyes.

Love and Theft re­ally fo­cuses on the “love” part. You’ll only feel the “theft” part if you’re not a fan of sweet and sticky. The ma­jor­ity of these tracks may be sub­stance-chal­lenged (with the ex­cep­tion of Town Drunk with it’s some­what hazy glimpse of re­al­ity), but with the strong pro­duc­tion skills of vet­eran song­writer and pro­ducer Josh Leo (Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Love and Theft man­u­fac­tures well­crafted cav­ity-in­duc­ing coun­try pop with strong and pleas­ing vo­cals.

Ras­cal Flatts should keep an eye on this duo in the rear view mir­ror. Head, One In The Chest you will prob­a­bly like the bal­ance of the al­bum.

It’s as if the band, with all of its cre­ative dis­cov­ery here, doesn’t know if it wants to be your next favourite indie hip­sters from the coast, or a con­tem­po­rary Magic Band. Their new-wave pre­ten­sions are well aligned with their throw­ev­ery­thing-in-the-mix aban­don. There’s cranky gui­tar, bip-bop pseudo-jazz bass lines, naive drums and silly vo­cal chirps and yowls. It may just be too much for the av­er­age lis­tener but it sparkles and fades at all the right mo­ments. They sound se­ri­ous. Check it out if you dare. AT its core, the de­but al­bum from Cana­dian telecom­mut­ing duo Corin Rod­dick and Me­gan James is a gl­itchy bat­tle be­tween light and dark. Throughout Shrines’ 11 tracks, a ghostly haze of cut-up vo­cal sam­ples — some an­gelic and some de­monic — hover un­com­fort­ably over snappy 808 hip-hop per­cus­sion and con­ven­tional synth melodies, giv­ing a su­per­nat­u­ral warmth to Rod­dick’s oth­er­wise steely elec­tronic pro­duc­tions.

James’ cheru­bic vo­cals and ab­struse lyrics com­ple­ment the beats well and of­ten HOW about a B-12 shot of disco-happy? Bos­ton group/ one-man thing Pas­sion Pit is goose­fleshily freed of any hip­ster elec­tro-clash no­tions of this genre, aim­ing for are­nas in the nice un-hate-able way.

You can tell from the skippy synth beat-push­ing ar­range­ments — and if you’re go­ing to be all ’80s, you should prob­a­bly have this much warm silky soul in your pro­gram, cour­tesy of gushy falsetto man Michael An­ge­lakos, whose en­ergy could re­boot the Greek econ­omy.

Check the giddy Take A Walk, the hy­per Car­ried Away and all the lay­ered twinkly ar­range­ments be­fore it be­comes too he­lium, and rec­og­nize that they are oc­cu­py­ing a sliver of the vast vac­uum left by New Or­der.


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