But The Fire Is So Delightful (Michael Bublé, Christmas review)

In my family it’s pretty common to listen to the same three or four Christmas albums over and over and over again. Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas, Burl Ives Have A Holly Jolly Christmas, Christmas with The Chipmunks featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Christmas with Boney M.

It’s like clockwork. But every so often, my parents slip and let one of us take the helm, and that’s when I get to put on my favourite Christmas album.

Michael Bublé – Christmas
released October 24, 2011
******** 8/10

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Michael Bublé is a Canadian well known for his abilities as singer, songwriter, actor and record producer. In fact, he has won several awards and honours, multiple Juno Awards, and four Grammy Awards.

His first album BaBalu charted the top ten in both Canada and the UK, but it wasn’t until his fourth album, It’s Time, that Bublé found a worldwide audience. Then his 2007 album Call Me Irresponsible did even betters – it was able to reach number one in Canada, the UK, the US Billboard 200, Australia and several European charts.

Bublé’s 2009 album Crazy Love debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 after just three days of sales… It was also his fourth number one album on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart. But His 2011 holiday album, Christmas, did the best yet as it was in first place on the Billboard 200 for the final four weeks of 2011 and then for first week of 2012, totalling five weeks atop the chart.

Christmas is a big deal for Bublé, and no I’m not talking about the holiday, I’m referring to the album. In fact, I’d say his album is a big deal to a lot of people. It was the first holiday album to win a Juno award for album of the year.

I was reading reviews of the top holiday albums ever and Michael Bublé really is in good company with this record. You often see artists like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Elvis, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mariah Carey, and The Beach Boys on those kinds of lists, but there is something special about this Canadian crooner that allows him to fit right in with both the old and the new Christmas jams. He does a great job reimagining Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, has some fun on his duet with the Puppini Sisters for Jingle Bells, and really gets into the big band mode with It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.

Silent Night is hauntingly beautfiul and simple in it’s delivery, and the gender twist on Santa Baby is pretty cute, sparking a few laughs from me each time I listen to it. Also the duet with Shania Twain on White Christmas is something special for fans of both artists.

If you like Michael Bublé this album will suit you just fine. If you like classic Christmas music, this album will suit you fine too. If you don’t typically like either Michael Bublé or Christmas music, then I caution you to avoid this, because it’s a lot of fun and maybe you don’t like fun, so why are you even reading this post in the first place.

 

 

 

This is hands down my favourite holiday themed album, and there are some excellent ones out there to be sure. Why I enjoy this over other is because it offers an excellent mix of old and new, and it’s length is perfect for unwrapping presents, take a short trip out of town to visit the in-laws or while you are lounging with brandy and wine after Christmas dinner. This really will get you in the holiday spirit friends, and I hope you have a holly, jolly Christmas. This is my last album review of the year, check back on January 2nd for something new. And come back tomorrow for my favourite Christmas movie, reviewed just for you!

Tim!

An Unexpected Journey (Plants and Animals, Waltzed in from the Rumbling review)

What a strange sight to see – When fantasy meets reality and dreams became something more tangible.

We all have dreams. And while sometimes it can be quite therapeutic to take a break from the hard work of the world and think upon what could be.

But what if you were living your dreams right now? That’s what this week’s album review is all about.

 

 

 

Plants and Animals – Waltzed in From the Rumbling
released April 29, 2016
***** 6/10

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Plants and Animals are a Canadian indie rock band from Montreal. A three piece act that began playing together as children and whom have now released four studio-length albums decades later.

It’s almost the perfect story isn’t it? We all had those sort of dreams as children. Each of us were asked that age-old question of what do you want to be when you grow up? It turns out that Warren Spicer, Matthew Woodley, and Nicolas Basque all got their wish.

And how fitting given that their fourth album heavily features tracks that were given form via a process akin to a playdate. Each member of the trio  meeting up in their studio to play whatever they felt like at each session. This is the effort of P&A stepping back from the limelight after five years of touring and two albums made during that period; this is Plants and Animals setting out to record something real and wrought with emotion.

And it’s incredibly beautiful album to listen to.

All the mistakes, quirks, and cleverness of epiphany all rest inside of each track rather softly, a simple request that you take them in and ponder them over.

The results of childhood friends taking advantage of their shorthand to recognize when something isn’t working and then to push a song in ways unexpected is quite a wondrous thing to hear.

But the problem is that it isn’t entirely accessible at first playthrough or even during a second playthrough. Yes the music is fun and heartfelt and beautiful, but it moves at a variety of paces throughout and it’s shoegazing format is not something that is going to appeal to the majority of the crowd. P&A can’t quite figure out the tone to set on this one and it hurts the album for it.

But I’m willing to bet Plants and Animals aren’t concerned about what the majority thinks. Which is why they are willing feature summer tracks like We Were One, the horns infused Je Voulais te Dire, and the rather ironic Flowers.

Stands out tracks include No Worries Gonna Find Us and We Were One. And if you want to listen to a few of the tracks yourself they’ve already released a couple of singles – 1 2

As other indie bands explore heavy pop mixtures, opportunities to use synthesizers and older sounds, Plants and Animals are on a different journey and one that keeps them ever youthful.

 

 

 

Plants and Animals are fortunate to have the opportunity to live their dreams, and the talent to share with us what dreams can sound like when realized. That is why an album like Waltzed in from the Rumbling is so beautiful to hear. Yes, the melodies are quite lovely, but that conviction and success are sweet as well.

But should you buy this album? I think if you want to try something a little different, than absolutely yes… what dreams may come.

Tim!

A Warm Embrace (Half Moon Run, Sun Leads Me On review)

Music is such a fun subject to write about, because people become so politically charged when it comes down to what they listen to. I’ve always wondered what specifically drives that passion.

If you disagree with the hivemind, you just might get mauled. So be careful dear readers when treading unfamiliar waters.

I mention this because this week’s album review is from a hot topic band by the name of…

 

 

Half Moon Run – Sun Leads Me On
released October 23, 2015
******* 6/10

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Half Moon Run are a four piece Canadian indie band. They also happen to be based in Montreal, but are from other parts of the country (BC and Ontario).

And they have a strong following already, considering this is their second recording. If you look at their website, as of today, you’ll see that their next 18 shows are all sold out.

So what exactly are they doing right, to garner such a huge fan base?

Well I’m not entirely sure I can tell you, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

The first thought I had when I started to listen to this album was, “oh, it’s really mellow and probably has incredibly thoughtful lyrics throughout, so I’ll have to listen intently in order to really appreciate what I’m hearing.” Which had an interesting side effect. I started to notice things about their music. A lot of different parts of songs and sometimes entire songs reminded me of other bands.

Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Muse, Mobile, Depeche Mode, Coldplay, Arkells, and Stabilo, among others, all come to mind.

And so I started to get frustrated, because I thought their singles from their first album were really something special. Call Me In The Afternoon, She Wants To Know, and Full Circle were so beautiful and natural in their offer. So maybe I made the same mistake as a lot of fans do, I expected Half Moon Run to stay as they were and not be who they are. It was selfish of me.

But the truth of the matter is that they didn’t change that much on their sophomore album. They just started to explore some more, and picked up references of familiar faces along the way. It’s kinda hard to slight them for having good taste and wanting to carve out their own path too.

I think you should listen to their current two singles, because they are pretty solid.

Turn Your Love and Trust are the kind of songs that make you want to turn on your stereo to begin the day. And then you’ll listen to the rest of the album and start to find your favourites. Mine happen to be Narrow Margins and the title track, Sun Leads Me On.

I think Exclaim’s review of the album makes a good point when they say

With Sun Leads Me On, Half Moon Run are attempting to shake the title of “that band with that song” and show off how far they have come, and for the most part, it works.

But I really do believe that they would have a stronger identity if they played up their quirks some more and sunk into their music with it. The folk elements always work so well with the catchy lyrics and synth-pop influences, but it can get a bit sleepy with all of the slight changes.

Would it surprise you to learn that this band is composed of four strangers? I’m unclear on impact that something like that can have on unity, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Half Moon Run, but hopefully after two years of touring together, they’ve started to form a bond which will allow them to weather the storm of album number two and become a mainstay in the indie scene.

There is a certainly a place for them.

 

 

And that’s all he wrote. Not much else I can say about this one folks. I do suggest you take a listen, maybe they will grow on you more than they did for me. Though I suspect if I give this album enough listens, it will become part of my musical dictionary before long.

Tim!