Self-described Buddhist bluesman Brian Blain has been crafting songs and making noteworthy recordings since the early ‘70s. New Folk Blues 2.0, the Toronto-based guitarist/songwriter/producer’s latest release, is an upgrade of his 2011 live album with bassist George Koller, sweetened in the studio this time out with horn players Alison Young and Colleen Allen, drummer Michelle Josef, violinist Drew Jurecka, organist Clayton Doley and Harry Manx on slide guitar. It is a sweetly rewarding, gentle nine-song collection of songs that match faultless musicianship with humour, wry commentary and...
Edmonton-based Jenie Thai has fast made a name for herself playing living rooms, clubs and festival stages in western Canada and now the 20-something year-old classically trained pianist with a love of jazz and blues is ready to fly far with Only the Moon, a beautifully crafted nine-song album of original songs showcasing a voice that has the warmth and beauty of a young Maria Muldaur. The indie album was recorded mostly live off the floor at Edmonton’s top rated Sound Extractor Studio and Stew Kirkwood nails every song with his sympathetic and under-stated production. Labels will be
Hard-hitting blues band Soulstack came out with guns blazing on their debut album, Big Red. It notched great reviews, international blues radio play and a No. 2 slot on National College Radio. They avoid any sophomore jinx with a powerful follow-up sure to expand their audience. Five Finger Discount is produced by singer/guitarist Jonathan Knight, who gets songwriting assistance from keyboardist Mark Wessenger, while award-winning drummer Tom Bona helps nail the groove. Soulstack has deservedly been nominated for Electric Act of the Year at the upcoming Maple Blues Awards. The band will launch
On new (fourth) album Rust Bucket, bluesman Sean Pinchin displays a smooth and supple voice that brings Colin James to mind, while his sizzling slide guitar work is his key asset. Producer Rob Szabo co-wrote most of the material with Pinchin, with notable results. The impressive supporting cast includes Steve Strongman, Emma-Lee, Adam Warner and Mark McIntyre, but things are kept nicely sparse. We dig the sexy “High Heel Shoes” and the ballad “Comin’ Home” especially. No rust here, just a well-oiled blues machine well worthy of a spin. He recently toured out West.
Fans of Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt and Carole Pope, Ten Years After, The Bluesbreakers and Stevie Ray Vaughan, are going to love The Lily, Layla Zoe's new album. The title and jacket-art suggest a sensitive singer-songwriter; instead, what one gets is an album that wails the blues. Zoe and mentor, producer, lead-guitarist Henrik Freischlader have fashioned a collection of songs that weep like a willow, growl like a junkyard dog or howl like a lone timber wolf under a full moon. The best of the best on this 11-track bluesbuster run five-plus minutes, including the title track, "Father",...
They’ve won multiple Maple Blues Awards (15!) and a 2012 Juno Award, but terrific Ottawa trio MonkeyJunk still deserves higher visibility here. Fronted by singer Steve Marriner, these cats can play and sing with the best of them, as they show on this superb third CD. The outfit's fiery brand of hi-octane blues-rock (they term it "swamp roots-rock") occasionally brings The Fabulous Thunderbirds to mind, while Marriner channels Paul Rodgers on the harp-inflected “Once Had Wings”, a real highlight. MonkeyJunk plays Toronto's Hugh's Room on Oct. 18, followed by Stateside dates.
Downchild’s latest album opens with the jump blues title-track “Can You Hear The Music” and spins forward over 10 more tracks that are recognizably theirs as "I've Got Everything I Need (Almost)". Chuck Jackson forcefully belts out the songs, Michael Fonfara sweetens the groove on keyboards, Gary Kendall’s rumbling bass lines keep expert time with drummer Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Carey’s sax adds ballast and Donnie Walsh points the way throughout with economy and elan on guitars and harmonica. Its been 42 years since the Bootleg album was recorded in the underground garage of what was then called
Edmonton five-piece Stone Iris describes its sound as "Southern rock from the True North (laced with) reggae music from a cold place" and it kinda fits Grande National, an almost epic-sounding 14 track album that offers depth, texture, nuance and indelible musicality throughout. If you like your blues with swagger, reggae with a rockin' edge and songs that grow familiar rather than smack you in the face hard on first listen, these lads have you covered. Currently on tour in the US of A, it's the band's eighth release and second LP this year. The album is available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby
Ottawa-based Maple Blues fave MonkeyJunk kicks out the jams on "You Make A Mess", an electric funk crossover hit driven to the limit by Steve Marriner's growlingly unmessy vocal. Think Little Feat and the Amazing Rhythm Aces. The single is from the trio's Stony Plain album of the same name. This promises to be the track to bust MonkeyJunk's blues into the maple mainstream.
The Devil's In My Pocket is Brad Curtis and The Some X 6 Band's second virtual album of spacey electric blues. An industrious trio based out of Vancouver, an earlier Bandcamp release has generated airplay on several continents outside North America. The cover graphic by Australian artist Hannah Sutton is an eye-catcher; best tracks to my ears: "Beware the Straw", "Never Land" and "The Apple Tree".