Starting a new series from Team GDW – here are some brief reviews of recently released albums to which we’re listening.

Fancey, “Love Mirage”

I fully acknowledge that, musically as well as chronologically, I am totally a child of the 1970s.  So, within ten bars or so of “Baby Sunshine,” the opening track of “Love Mirage” from Fancey (the moniker under which Todd Fancey, bassist for The New Pornographers, is releasing solo material), I was hooked.

On first listen, one might think that the album is only an homage to disco and thus can be dismissed as a novelty.  However, what I have found is that certain songs have stuck themselves in my head (most notably, “Dream All Night”) and refuse to depart.  Every song on the album has a great hook and, even if it’s not to your particular taste, listening to it has been a great visit for me back to a musical era I particularly loved.

Listen to “Love Mirage.”

 

Ludovic Alarie, “L’appartement”

I found this leisurely album to be absolutely perfect last week for my long commute after work, an ideal companion as I unwind from the day.  Sonically, I can definitely hear some of the influences of Warren Spicer (of Plants and Animals), who produced and contributed to the project.

Where Alarie’s first album was lush with horn arrangements and could perhaps be classified as a mix of folk and jazz (depending on the song), this project is a soothing pop confection full of great harmonies and terrific melodies.  “Comme un rêve,” as its name indicates, is a pensive piece that evokes the very dream of its name. Note: don’t skip the alternate version of “Sang-froid.”  Both interpretations of the song are equally great.

Listen to “L’appartement.”

 

JP Maurice, “Girls”

I first started seeing mentions of JP Maurice’s hotly awaited follow-up to his 2013 release “The Arborist” in early January, and I heard the first single, “Shapeshifter,” played fairly regularly on Sirius/XM’s The Verge.  So, I was eager to hear the entire project when it was released – and was in no way disappointed.  (Except that it’s not a full-length release – but I always feel that way about EPs.)

Every song on the album is thoroughly enjoyable, from the pop inflections of “Standstill,” to the slow-burning rock of “Goodbye,” to the jazzy (and tongue-twisting) “Light Switch.”  Need a new motivational song for your playlist? “Big Change,” with its its challenge to the listener to embrace change in whatever form it comes, is a great choice.  Fans of “The Arborist” will find this project an enjoyable sequel to that album.

Listen to “Girls.”

 

AUTOMAT, “Pandora”

AUTOMAT has been on the fringes of our musical radar for a while now, thanks to the airplay they’ve received over the years on Sirius/XM’s Influence Franco channel.  So I was pleased to see they were releasing a new album at the end of January and added it to my playlist as soon as I could.

While Ludovic Alarie’s album provided the soundtrack for my travels home last week, “Pandora” has been my “wake up and drive” playlist.  Catchy tunes, beats that have the foot tapping, and great singing characterize the entire album.  Particular highlights for me are the title track, “Pour le bon” (which may have you singing along with the chorus even if you don’t speak French), and “Dis-le-moi.”  If you enjoy upbeat pop music, by all means give this album a try.

Listen to “Pandora.”

~ L