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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Monday, 04 June 2012 00:00|
This month consists solely of Canadian artists. Not a bad lead-up to Canada Day.
Rufus Wainwright -- Out of the Game
Listening to this album got me thinking about Rufus Wainwright's place in the music industry. He's not a power player, and that's something even he admits to. In the pop arena, he'll be trumped by the bigger, perhaps more vacuous names in music (about which he got a bit bitter about in a recent interview), but, listening to his latest album, I can't help but think that he's the Elton John of Gen X and Gen Y: gay, a bit flamboyant, a past involving drugs, and an incredible talent.
There's much on this twelve song album that reminds me of classic Elton John. That should come as no surprise since it's produced by Mark Ronson, and Ronson is known for taking a very retro bent to his production values. The more I listen to Out of the Game, the more that I think that the creative output is on par with some of John's best work (and Wainwright has the edge of being the musician and lyricist for his compositions). Comparisons aside now, this album represents a return to form for Wainwright after a couple of lackluster projects in his recent history and truly demonstrates the abilities of one of Canada's foremost male singer/songwriters. Out of the Game is, quite frankly, a must listen album for 2012.
Recommended tracks: "Jericho," "Out of the Game," and "Sometimes You Need"
David Ward -- The Arrival Part I: Departures, The Arrival Part II: Borders & The Arrivals Part III: Arrivals
Vancouver-based singer/songwriter David Ward has released three EPs this month with a collective theme of arrival. There's a sense in listening to the three part collection of songs that the idea of arrival alludes to life. There's that adage that the destination isn't important, that the journey is what matters in the end, and that is a concept that Ward runs with in these releases with great success. It's hard to pinpoint what the musical influences are; the press packet lists the usual suspects, but there's something else there . . . an influence that I can't quite put my finger on. It's in this very way that the music sounds both fresh and yet familiar all at the same time without feeling as though we've gone down this road before.
It's difficult to pinpoint some of the best material on these three EPs, as the number of songs are limited to three per release, but overall this collection of music works well for a laid-back summer afternoon or perfect mixed in with some of your favorite jazz and easy-listening music while you're making dinner on a Sunday night (definitely a not-so well-kept secret of mine). All three EPs can be previewed and purchased on his website, David Ward Music.
Recommended Tracks: "Feel This Way," "Joy," "The Arrival"
Dragonette -- "Let It Go"
Some would argue that going too mainstream is a bit of a sell-out, but, after two albums that barely caught the attention of a wider audience, it's perhaps in Dragonette's best interest to become a little more mainstream and a little more radio friendly, hence the reason why their collaborations with music producer Martin Solveig ("Hello," "Boys & Girls," and "Big in Japan") have proven successful. Dragonette has gotten their name out there, and now it's time for a follow-up.
As their lead single to their upcoming third album, "Let It Go" does seem a bit paint-by-numbers in terms of music and lyrics, but it's a surprisingly catchy song. It worms its way into your head without being obnoxious. Lyrically it's a little more developed the songs like "Hello" or "Big in Japan" but still has that floor-filler feel in a club or during their live acts. As a long-time fan of Dragonette, I don't see this as a sell-out move by the band but rather a necessary step in further appeal to the masses.
Metric -- "Youth Without Youth"
Metric, one of my favorite Canadian bands, takes too damn long to release albums. Okay, that's not true since Fantasies was released back in the summer of 2009, but it feels much longer than that. I was surprised when the lead single of that album, "Help I'm Alive!", came out; it didn't sound like Metric, but the song quickly grew on me and is one of my favorites from that album. I half-expected the same would be the case with "Youth Without Youth," the lead single for their latest album Synthetica, yet it doesn't have that same effect. I've listened to it about half a dozen times, and it just lacks that spark that so many Metric songs before it have had.
This isn't a condemnation of the song, and I'm not recommending that you not listen to it; it's a solid song, just not one that I particularly love. That could change, but the review stands. I'll probably change my opinion of the song once I've a.) heard the entire album, and b.) hear the song performed live in July.
Bryan Adams -- Waking up the Neighbours 20th Anniversary Tour
Setlist: House Arrest, Somebody, Here I Am, Kids Wanna Rock, Can't Stop This Thing We Started, Thought I'd Died and Gone to Heaven, I'm Ready, Hearts on Fire, Do I Have to Say the Words?, 18 'Til I Die, Back to You, Summer of '69, If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?)/Touch the Hand, (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Cuts Like a Knife, If Ya Wanna Be Bad Ya Gotta Be Good/When You're Gone, Heaven, Please Forgive Me, It's Only Love, Cloud #9, The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me is You, Run to You, There Will Never Be Another Tonight
I'm a closet Bryan Adams fan or at least I was until it got out that was I was going to my first Bryan Adams show at the beginning of May. In my defense, he's one of the few Canadian artists that has had a consistent level of fame throughout his career, he puts out some great tunes, and well . . . my parents wanted to go as well. I expected the show to be good, but I wasn't expecting it to be astronomically good.
Ottawa fans were treated to an extended show (Ottawa is one of Adams' hometowns), and, while we only got a few more added songs to the standard setlist, he still performed a full two and a half hour long show full of hits and cuts that haven't been played in a while. With no opening act, it literally was just an evening with Bryan Adams.It's hard to imagine a rocker playing a song like "18 'Til I Die" when they are pushing fifty-three years old themselves, but Adams still plays and still sounds like he did twenty years ago. And while he may have largely given up his music career for his side passion of photography (new album out in the fall though!), it's still quite evident that there's still a piece of Adam's heart that's reserved for music and stage performance. Coupled with the two songs I've always wanted to hear him sing live ("Back to You" and "When You're Gone"), Adams put on an incredible show, and all but guarantees that I'll see him perform again.
An Ottawa native, Mike is a public servant by day, and a self-professed music and comic book junkie the rest of the time. He also contributes to the Local Tourist Ottawa blog and his random music, comic book and culture musings can be read on /scribbles.
Tags: adventure, byran adams, david ward, dragonette, going to concerts with your parents is cool, hurry up and put an album out already, metric, music, reviews, rufus wainwright