Sheepdogs top CD reviews

Ewan Currie of the Sheepdogs performs at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Matthew...

Ewan Currie of the Sheepdogs performs at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on Thursday, July 12, 2012. (Matthew Usherwood/Ottawa Sun)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

And so it begins: The fall music season kicks off with new titles from The Sheepdogs, Bob Mould, Cat Power, The Vaccines and more. See my fall music preview for the whole enchilada.

The Sheepdogs

The Sheepdogs

Southern Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Old dogs and new tricks. The shaggy Saskatoon rockers and Rolling Stone cover boys get their shot at the big time with this fourth album — and wisely make the most of it. Aided by producer Patrick Carney of Black Keys, the Dogs revamp their southern rock ’n’ boogie with everything from fuzzy neo-blues to spacey 5/8 jams and layered keyboards. They’re officially off the chain.

Download: Feeling Good; The Way it Is

Bob Mould

Silver Age

Alt-Rock

4 stars out of 5

It’s a new day rising for Mould. Or at least an old day repeating. After a few quiet years, the Hüsker Dü / Sugar singer-guitarist roars back with his loudest, rawest work in years — 10 blasts of supersonic power-pop fashioned from his signature blend of sawtooth guitars, muscular driving beats and darkly rich melancholy. Between this and those Sugar reissues, fans will flip their wigs.

Download: Silver Age; Briefest Moment

Cat Power

Sun

Indie-Pop

4 stars out of 5

From the darkness comes the dawn. Several years in the making — and completed in the wake of romantic collapse — mercurial singer-songwriter Chan Marshall’s ninth album is a sweet shot of unexpectedly and uncharacteristically jubilant pop, with funky beatboxes, twinkling synths and breezy hooks buoying Marshall’s otherworldly alto. Easily the happiest breakup disc of the year.

Download: Ruin; Silent Machine

The Vaccines

Come of Age

Indie-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

That title might be a bit of a stretch. Thankfully. Yes, the cheeky Londoners grow up a little on their second album in as many years. But even as they raise the ante with sharper songwriting, more nuanced playing and a stylistic menu influenced by everything from Dylan to doo-wop, they retain enough of their garage-pop scrappiness to please old fans even as they make new ones.

Download: No Hope; Teenage Icon

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Lawless: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Americana HHHH O bootlegger, where art thou? Bad Seeds ringleader Cave (who penned the screenplay for this Prohibiton-era moonshiner drama) and longtime collaborator Ellis mix up a heady backwoods brew on this soundtrack — convincing Ralph Stanley to cover Captain Beefheart and the Velvets, crafting haunting ballads for Emmylou Harris and rocking out with Mark Lanegan. It’s got some kick.

Download: Burnin’ Hell; White Light / White Heat

Matt Mays

Coyote

Folk-Rock

3 stars out of 5

“I’m searching for something,” Mays admits on his fifth full-length. No kidding — it’s been four years since the Halifax rocker released Terminal Romance, disbanded El Torpedo and hit the trail. Not surprisingly, this long-awaited return feels somewhat aimless at times, favouring anything-goes immediacy over hooks and convention. Whatever he’s looking for, this doesn’t seem like it.

Download: Take it on Faith; Drop the Bombs

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Animal Collective

Centipede Hz

Neo-Psychedelia

3.5 stars out of 5

Space is the place. Or not. The Booklyn psychedelicists’ ninth trip was reportedly inspired by the notion of alien bands making music out of late-night radio transmissions from Earth. Given that, it’s a nice surprise to find this garage-rocky set is AC’s most grounded disc in some time, thanks to the return of guitarist Deakin and a songwriting process that was truly collective. Go figure.

Download: Today’s Supernatural; Monkey Riches

Propagandhi

Failed States

Punk-Metal

4 stars out of 5

They have grown up. They may even have smartened up. But they have not let up. The veteran Prairie punks’ sixth album in 19 years is their most evolved and multi-dimensional work to date, underpinning their pointed political screeds with a relentless, tightly wound fusion of blazing hardcore intensity and proggy metallic complexity. Punk for the thinking man — and for the Rush fan.

Download: Note to Self; Failed States

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Mature Themes

Psychedelic-Pop

3.5 stars out of 5

Nostradamus and nymphomaniacs. Schnitzel and spy fantasies. Dreamscapes and driftwood. So much for mature themes. L.A. weirdo Ariel Pink is in typically bizarre form on his umpteenth disc, seeking (and sometimes finding) the sweet spot between Beck and Zappa with his provocative stream-of-consciousness rambling and amateur basement-rock psychedelia. Enjoy, hipsters.

Download: Kinski Assassin; Schnitzel Boogie

Roxy Music

The Complete Studio Recordings

Art-Rock

4 stars out of 5

For your pleasure: All eight of Bryan Ferry and Roxy’s studio albums — from their groundbreaking self-titled 1972 debut to their seductively silky 1982 swan song Avalon — in thick, glossy cardboard covers complete with gatefolds and inner sleeves. Bittersweet: No book, DVD or extras beyond previously available singles, B-sides and remixes. In every dream home, a heartache.

Download: Virginia Plain; Love is the Drug

Taj Mahal

Hidden Treasures: 1969-1973

Blues

4 stars out of 5

One man’s blues is another man’s gold. Especially in Mahal’s case. The veteran singer-guitarist mines his past magnificently on this compilation, unearthing a dozen hippie-era studio leftovers — from laid-back folk-blues and rustic Americana to tuba-funk jams and country-gospel stirrers — that outshine most artists’ hits. An equally eclectic 1970 live recording seconds that emotion.

Download: Chainey Do; Sweet Mama Janisse

KISS

Destroyer: Resurrected

Classic Rock

2 stars out of 5

You wanted the best? You got … another blatant cash-grab from rock’s most shameless hucksters. Originally billed as an expanded deluxe edition of KISS’s 1976 magnum opus, this is just the original album — minimally remixed by overproducer Bob Ezrin, augmented by one outtake of Sweet Pain with a different guitar solo, and decorated with alternate cover art. Strictly for suckers.

Download: Detroit Rock City; Sweet Pain (Original Guitar Solo)

Glass Tiger

Then .. NOW .. Next

Pop-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

How can we forget about them if they never go away? Barely two months after reissuing their 1986 debut The Thin Red Line, Alan Frew and co. return with a comp of 11 singles and four new cuts — the piano-poppy I Take it Back, the groovy Love is on the Way, the Brit-rocky Stand Up and a cover of The Fabs’ You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away. They’re the best, skip the rest.

Download: I Take it Back; Love is on the Way

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DOWN/STREAM

Big Sugar

Eliminate Ya!

Brothers and sisters, are you ready for a new Big Sugar single? Well, here it is. Eliminate Ya! is a cover of an old number by East Coast singer-songwriter Al Tuck, retooled with a deep, dark reggae groove and decorated with plenty of dub textures and trippy trappings from singer-guitarist Gordie Johnson and co. It’s a little tardy to be a summertime single, but better late than never.

bigsugar.com

Smoke & Jackal

No Tell

Where there’s smoke, there’s jackal? Apparently. S&J is a joint operation betwixt Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill and Mona frontman Nick Brown. Which is which? Who knows? But you don’t have to guess what they’re singing about on this preview of their Oct. 16 EP. The dreamy electro-ballad No Tell tells the tale of a guy deflowering a virgin in a seedy motel. Real nice, guys.

soundcloud.com/smokejackal/no-tell

Michael Jackson

Bad (Afrojack Remix feat. Pibtull)

You wanna know what’s bad? Enlisting the increasingly irritating Pitbull to spew ridiculous gibberish ("I'm so outta this planet, I speak a third language called that moon talk”) over this otherwise interesting and enjoyably amped-up remix from superstar DJ Afrojack. Should you care, this comes from the upcoming 25th-anniversary box-set reissue of Bad. Speaking of smooth criminals.

youtube.com

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DVDs

Rose Tattoo

Live From Boggo Road Jail

Classic Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Warden threw a party in an Aussie jail — and who better than these rock ’n’ roll outlaws to supply the wail? Bullet-headed ogre Angry Anderson and co. break out the boogie on this 1993 concert outing, treating a party-hearty civilian crowd (the concert marked the jail’s closure) to 50 minutes of pedal-to-the-metal riff-rock midway between The Faces and AC/DC. There’s a riot goin’ on.

Staind

Live From Mohegan Sun

Alt-Metal

2 stars out of 5

What happens at Mohegan Sun doesn’t stay at Mohegan Sun, apparently. So now we have an 80-minute live DVD from endless buzzkill Aaron Lewis and his black-shirted alt-metal brigade. For those who want to hear him complain and moan while everyone lumbers through most of their last album and some older hits, it’s a big win. Everyone else, meet me at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

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GARAGE BAND

The Davey Parker Radio Sound

Toronto, Ont.

thedprs.bandcamp.com

Toronto’s Davey Parker Radio Sound does not include anyone actually named Davey Parker, near as I can tell. That would be the least predictable thing about them. The most predictable thing: Their sound, which dutifully and predictably mines a vein of surf-twang-fuzz-jangle-psychedelia nuggets that was tapped out decades ago by endless legions of paisley-shirted, corduroy-trousered, Beatle-booted, reverb-loving, Rickenbacker-plucking hipsters before them. Not to put too fine a point on it or anything.

VERDICT: “Radio blah-blah”

2 stars out of 5

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UPCOMING

Sept. 11

A$AP Rocky

LongLiveA$AP

Avett Brothers

The Carpenter

Billy Talent

Dead Silence

Bob Dylan

Tempest

Nelly Furtado

Spirit Indestructible

Dave Matthews Band

Away From the World

Pet Shop Boys

Elysium

Raveonettes

Observator

The XX

Coexist

ZZ Top

La Futura

 

 


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