Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 15

It’s a very special Album Review Saturdays!  We are big Canadian music fans here at Beyond Your Radio, as is plenty obvious to those watching us and hearing the mix of Canadian bands and artists tossed into our lists, conversations, and general love!  We’ve seen a lot of these bands, as we benefit from being right over the border, Buffalo, New York (a lovely testing ground for Canadian musicians to dip their toes in the potential for the US marketplace.  There’s no question that we’re either charmed by their super-nice ways, or that maybe — just maybe, we’re the key audiologists that can determine the genuine early potential for budding bands and starving socialist musicians (relax, I’m just kidding).  To mention just a few red maple leaf loving bands and artists we’ve seen in small clubs with just a few people; Dayna Manning, Holly McNarland, Finger Eleven, Big Wreck, Our Lady Peace, Junkhouse, Copyright, Colin James, Kim Mitchell, Andy Curran, Default, The Trews, The Arkells, The Tragically Hip, The Headstones, The Morganfields, Elliott Brood, Glueleg, and Moist.

Today’s two albums, are both from long time Canadian musicians that have traversed the music multiverse and have not only lived to tell the tale but to have enough gusto to shake it up and roll the dice with some changes to their sound.  One changed their entire classics into a bluegrass nature and added a couple new tracks to remind us how their indie alternative coolness still has a that catchy sound.  The other, has returned from a twenty plus year mysterious hiatus with a new jacked up, cocky delivery to showcase against her beloved soul and blues pop delivery that was more than all the rage back in the early 90(s)!  All in all it’s Canada Day, and we wanted to celebrate these two new releases, and if you watch our video version I’m also going to lay down 10 albums that are truly remarkable, relatively maybe unknown in the US markeplace, so please click link below for extended coverage!

Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 15 Canada Day Special You Tube

The Northern PikesTime To Time

Is this a good starting point for you, you who doesn’t really know this band. I would have to say, “no.” However, I’m comfortable with sharing this with you anyway. Why? The album utilizes a style and picking that uniquely modifies the alternative 90(s) indie-ish swagger this band possessed while still maintaining the engaging and satisfaction of the lyrics and quirkiness the band is known in Canada for.  I thoroughly enjoyed the hits being given a new signature sound, so far removed from the originality, as well as the flow and production details.  It reminded me of a similar record from The Headstones, One In the Chamber.  The additional new songs fit wonderfully into the final three tracks, giving us ‘Northern Pikers’ a full album with a lot to sink our ears into. Should you go back and listen to the album “Snow In June” — damn straight you should!  The 1990 album was alternative rock light hit!  Another spotlight of that year in Canadian music, showcasing a plethora of unique and talented acts utilizing their musical gifts in a variety of tones and music genre bending that was alternatively Canadian.

 

The Band
  • Jay Semko – Vocals and Bass
  • Bryan Potvin – Vocals and Guitars
  • Don Schmid – Drums
  • Kevin Kane -Vocals and Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo

 

Time To Time Track Listing
  1. Dream Away [acoustic]
  2. Love These Hands [acoustic]
  3. Kiss Me You Fool [acoustic]
  4. Green Fields [acoustic]
  5. Girl With A Problem [acoustic]
  6. Snow In June [acoustic]
  7. Only A Lover’s Dream [New Song]
  8. The Things You Saw In Me [New Song]
  9. Taken [New Song]

 

 

 

Amanda MarshallHeavy Lifting

It’s been 23 years since we’ve heard much from the powerhouse female that shook the blues/pop-soul radio waves of Canada and some in the United States (having opened for Whitney Houston at one point), and after some sort of whatever departure, freedom, and legal issues with former manager, she’s emerged with this new release.  I saw Ms. Marshall at The Great Canadian Party (yep, that was Canada Day back in 1992), and the small framed, long curly-haired who was 19 at the time (so was I and my wife) delivered her set like some veteran bluesy soul singer, commanding her mic, and emotionally sucking in every song and the audience along with it.  She’s slaying it, track by track for years and two follow up records later, leaning hard on her voice and giving it her all from the production to lyrical design leading up to an acapella song (Inside the Tornado) as awesome as the likes of Tracy Chapman and Tori Amos in the modern rock world.

Heavy Lifting, while a good title, considering the years between and coming to grips in a two decade change in music, does not deliver the Amanda Marshall that I was expecting.  Don’t get me wrong, I was not expecting the past, which might have been a better option in my opinion, but her vocal powerhouse is reduced to clever tracking, poor lyrical choices that confuse the sincerity or intentions of the song(s).  She such a soulful blues singer with a pop edge, and she can make that adult contemporary lyric real, beautiful and outstandingly textured and bent to her vocal will. While I can hear the power and familiar range and reach, I’m stopped dead in my ears on lines “I hope she cheats on you with a Basketball playa,” “is that your dog he wants a bone” — blah blah blah… “followed me home.” And it get’s worse, as she sincerely delivers “I’m ain’t the dog catcher.”  Wasted rhythm and groove on poor comparison for my music aged years, or is it that I’m just caught off guard?  So I listen on.

‘I’m Not Drunk’ then moves into a speak and singing style, which has me really struggling three songs in, and needing some sort of recovery plan soon, which I’m expect to come.  No such luck as the next song makes reference to “where God split ya.” [yikes].  If you want to depart to fun cocky humor altered blues-soul-pop with a vocal talent that’s suppressing her extra-powerful, emotional God given talent to “just have some fun,” then this is your record!   The band is doing what’s been designed, following a standard music blue print without any type engaging bridge or solos.  For me, this is the Amanda Marshall now, and “I don’t feel so good” about it because it kind of seems disrespectful to her own history and catalog musically and lyrically, and has sucked the soul out of her vocal powerhouse she still embodies, as I’m sure the live sets will accomplish (‘Rainbows and Gasoline,’ ‘Halfway Love,’ and even ‘God Forbid’ will probably fit nicely into historic pieces). The past is golden to the ear, the future is a… “heavy lift” for mine, unfortunately, but I know there’s going to be an audience that will dig it and possibly bring them to her history and find the glories and treasures that put her on the music map.

Heavy Lifting Track Listing
  1. I Hope She Cheats
  2. Dawgcatcher
  3. I’m Not Drunk
  4. I Built This House
  5. Rainbow In Gasoline
  6. God Forbid
  7. Not A Love Song
  8. Half Way Love
  9. Serves You Right
  10. Special
  11. Honest

 

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