New Music – Winnipeg Free Press


Unwinding (Fiction Files)

In the ‘before’ era of 2019 and early 2020, influential BBC DJ Steve Lamacq couldn’t help but rave about Liverpool teenagers, the Mysterines, an alt/indie guitar band boisterous fronted by brash, precocious vocalist/guitarist Lia Metcalfe. The band had two EPs to their name, and the title track of the second, Love is not enough, accumulated two million streams.

They had just landed a record deal with Fiction Records, playing a sold-out UK tour, and Metcalfe and bassist George Favager had just added two new members, drummer Paul Crilly and guitarist Callum Thompson.

Then the pandemic hit. Like everyone and everything else in the world, Metcalfe and the Mysterines were stopped in their tracks. But, rather than drifting into isolation, the band members moved into a house together, worked on music and songs, and in 2021 were ready to record a debut album, which they did in three one-week sessions with producer Catherine Marks (Loup Alice). The 13-track result unveils a confident, polished sound – a hybrid of the quartet’s indie/punk roots and grunge-inspired singalong rock ‘n’ roll. At just 21, Metcalfe is clearly the star here, a confident and self-assured singer and guitarist (and pianist) whose voice is capable of punky screams (like on life is a female dog Where Hanged), melodrama à la PJ Harvey (the title track and Old Friend/Die Hard) or bluesy crooning (On the Run, Under Your Skin).

Those familiar with the Mysterines’ first two EPs may think some of the band’s endearing rough edges have been rounded off and smoothed out, but there’s still a lot of life to this album, especially when you listen to it LOUD. See this band live if you can. ★★★★ out of five

FLUX THESE: Hung up, old friends / Die Hard, the wrong thing

John Kendle


Joan Osborne
radio waves (Recordings of female hips)

Confined at home during the pandemic, singer-songwriter Joan Osborne began combing through dusty shoeboxes in her closets, and what she found was always in style, because good music never goes out of style.

The boxes contained recordings of at least 100 Osborne studio radio performances dating back to the 1990s, and she chose some of the best for radio waves, a stellar collection of 13 tunes notable for its variety.

Osborne has always been an astute performer, and her soulful, smoky viola is a convincing instrument, whether she sings blues (Shake your hips), R&B (everyone is a star), Dylan (Make you feel My Love) or the Great American Songbook (Dream a little dream).

With instrumental accompaniment ranging from acoustic guitar to a full rock band, Osborne is creative in reinventing familiar tunes. On the Motown Standard How sweet, she extracts the sugar from it by recasting both the rhythm and the melody, and the result is something more sensual. A stripped down version of his unlikely hit one of us more directly conveys the wonder of grace in the commonplace, while Gary Wright’s 1970s hit My love is alive gets incredibly funky.

Osborne creates moods to suit every broadcast quarter, from sunrise to signature, and seems to know it.

“Hello or evening, folks. Here’s your friendly presenter,” she sings to begin Stevie Wonder’s Love needs love today, a melody with a message worth spreading around the clock. ★★★★ out of five

FLUX THESE: How sweet, my love is alive

Steven Wine, The Associated Press


Benjamin Deschamps
Augmented reality (MCM)

Benjamin Deschamps, who plays alto and tenor sax, and bass clarinet, is an extremely active member of the Quebec jazz world. He was a laureate of the Montreal Jazz Festival and has performed across the country and abroad.

His colleagues on this album, for which he is also a composer and arranger, are Jean-Nicolas Trottier on trombone, Nicolas Ferron on guitar, Charles Trudel on acoustic and electric keyboards, Sébastien Pellerin on bass and Al Bourgeois on drums. Singer Valérie Saulnier sits on a track.

The music is an intriguing blend of rhythmic acoustic/electronic/fusion/straight-ahead jazz. It has been described as “robust” and that word fits perfectly. The electronics are essentially made up of Trudel’s keys or Ferron’s guitar, which work smoothly with Trottier’s trombone and Deschamps’ reeds. The writing is melodic with tight harmonies and excellent drumming throughout.

A brief two-part sequel titled song of healing is a culmination as it moves from introspection and reflection to the spell trail to a more intense climax in The resurrection. The bass clarinet works well here, and Ferron’s guitar solo is stellar. parallel universe kicks the vibe up at least a few notches, with powerful solos from each member. The album’s liner notes suggest that Deschamps uses more electronics on this release than with previous bands, but the balance is flawless anyway. The sweetest track features Saulnier’s vocals; called Forgotten friendships (forgotten friendships), there are “duets” between the singer and the individual instruments which are quite beautiful.

The melodic base of each composition is both effective and pleasant. Space for solos is filled within melodic limits – not always the case with some musicians and compositions. We have the strong impression that Deschamps really knows his companions and knows how to write with them in mind. At any tempo, this album is accessible and extremely enjoyable. ★★★★1/2 out of five

FLUX THESE: Parallel Universe, Augmented Reality

Keith Black


Now the Green Blade Riseth: Choral Music for Easter
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Daniel Hyde (King of College)

Just in time for Easter comes this new release featuring the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, recorded last summer in King’s College Chapel.

The venerable ensemble now led by Daniel Hyde truly offers something for everyone, with its eclectic program described as a ‘procession through time and history’, ranging from ancient Gregorian chant to more contemporary dishes.

Purists will appreciate works from “the golden age of English polyphony”, including those of William Byrd Civitas sancti tui. This choir’s ethereal rendition does not disappoint, showcasing its renowned ability to create seamless phrasing with perfect intonation throughout the a cappella piece. Italian composer Gioachino Rossini O salutaris Hostia offers greater cultural flavor, while a series of beloved Easter hymns – including When I examine the marvelous cross and the always exultant Jesus Christ is risen todaysung at countless Easter church services around the world – is moving, as is the more contemplative hymn God so loved the world.

Two of the most thoughtful selections are Wash me carefully and a choral improvisation on Victimae Paschali performed by Matthew Martin on the King’s College organ. Now the green blade is rising is a natural highlight, filled with a painting of effective tone and imbued with all the hope, joy and promise of the season. ★★★★ out of five

FLUX THIS: Now the green blade riseth, performed by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge

Holly Harris

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