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CD Reviews

Laugh Rebel have the essence of Shakira and KT Tunstall

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Laugh Rebel are nothing to laugh at and don’t seem to be rebels at all. Instead they are a pretty pop/acoustic duo from North Bay and Nelson.
There is a strong Jewel sound to their vocals, though musically there is quite a bit of reggae and pop, especially on ‘All Grace,’  the first track of their new EP ‘Leave Again.’ which is almost  reminiscent of Destiny’s Child with acoustic guitars and drums.
‘Dyno’ sounds like it has a touch of Shakira as does ‘Bang, Bang,’ which sounds like Shakira thrown into a blender with Fred Eaglesmith.
 The last track, ’Thinkin’’ is a highlight which has the essence of KT Tunstall.
The whole CD is an interesting mix of Caribbean music, folk music and pop music and an overall really pleasant listen.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

CD: Leave Again
Group: laugh Rebel
Genre: folk/pop
Record label: Auroras Blessing Records

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Little Miss Higgins pulls out the jazz and some of Winnipeg’s best

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Little Miss Higgins, who goes by Jolene Higgins in the real world, not only has a gorgeous jazzy, lounge tinged voice on her new CD,  Across The Plains, she supplements it with a  full horn section and a who’s who of the Winnipeg music scene.
‘Tornado’ is an upbeat horn filled song about  tornadoes and bad luck as she sings ‘it seems like the tornadoes are following me,’ which is reminiscent of her ‘Dirty Old Tractor’ song from a  few years back. She even plays a mean guitar solo on it and many others on the CD.
‘Bargain Shop Panties,’ encapsulates the Little Miss Higgins  sound the best, featuring her quirky  humour, and shows off her old school blues and jazz influences, plus  features  The D-Rangers Tom Fodey on muckbucket bass and shouting ‘bargain shop panties’ with  Big Dave McLean, The D-Ranger’s Jaxon Haldane (who also produced the CD) , clarinetist and horn arranger Cedric Blary, Joanna Miller and Andrew Neville who are all popular Winnipeg musicians. It also features some superb mandolin playing from Tim Williams. Williams is all over the CD as well playing mandolin and banjolin on several tracks.
‘Snowin’ Today: A Lament for Louis Riel,’ is simultaneously a poetic and morbid tribute to Louis Riel which features some more great horns, plus a tuba and  a really appropriate violin line  by Blaine Badiuk.
She slows down a little on ‘Hope You Don’t Feel Blue,’  but delivers some pretty interesting lines like ‘Columbus was a cannibal.’
 And I really like the a cappella grove of ‘Gather My Fruit,’
The other quirky highlight is ‘Glad your Whiskey Fits In My  Purse,’ which starts off with a  strong Pasty Cline, ’40s and ’50s country feel then launches into an upbeat New Orleans style  jam featuring some ukulele, some more great horn lines,  a whistle solo and Jaxon Haldane on banjo.
The CD ends with an ominous old blues style song called ‘Slaughterhouse (revisited) which features John Scole who owns the popular Times Changed Club in Winnipeg on bass as well as Tim Williams on mandolin and  a harmonica solo form Big Dave McLean, plus a tasteful guitar solo from Foy Tayor.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD : Across The Plains
Artist: Little Miss Higgins
Genre: blues/jazz
Record Company: indie
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Madison Violet play poetic roots

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If you like vocal harmonies, heartfelt lyrics and a understated violin playing, you will like  Madison Violet. They have a Cowboy Junkies feel with a  lot of bluegrass, a touch of Romi Mayes, a little bit of Indigo Girls and  a lot of other female folk/country acts.

The fiddle makes ‘ Lauralee ’ an immediate highlight of their new CD ‘No Fool For Trying.’

I also like ‘Baby In the Black and White,’ which has a similar sound to some of the Gruff’s best songs and ‘Crying’ is heartfelt and tearjerking. The whole CD is well played, but also has a quite a few sad and heart-wrenching. ‘The Woodshop’ has some very poetic lyrics about a girl who dies.

 There are a lot of poetic lyrics , which makes it easy to see why they won the John Lennon songwriting contest this year. I love the lyrics  for ‘Time and Time,’— I got stars across  my bloodshot eyes,’ which is one of many fascinating images they portray.

If you like girls singing and playing roots and country music, you’d be a‘fool’ not to give Madison Violet’s latest Cd a listen.

—By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

CD: No Fool For Trying

Band: Madison Violet

Genre: folk

Record Label: True North Records

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Musical talent runs in Osborne family with the Blue Violets

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Blue Violets sounds like some sort of fancy drink you’d find in an upscale bar, however the musical version is  something a lot darker.
If you took elements of  the Cranberries, Concrete Blonde, add a touch of Hole and a smattering of the Pack AD and add 54-40 frontman Neil Osborne’s daughters Kandle and Coral and their friend Louise Burns and threw them into a blender  with Neil Osborne pushing the start button after adding elements of early 54-40, you’d get The Blue Violets, the group.
 The Vancouver Island trio have just released their debut  self titled CD and it is excellent.
 It’s pretty laid back but gradually picks up the tempo, beginning with the haunting arpeggiated guitar riff of ‘You Said.’
 Albino is the first  mid tempo one  but ‘Anorexic ’ is the first one to really grab my attention lyrically, rhyming anorexic and ambidextrous. The Cd builds up the emotion and draws the listener in with  some very cool musical textures and layers plus  pretty harmonies.
‘Busker,’ is another more emo flavoured track telling the story of  going out with a homeless musician.
 ‘Fire’ has a  Veruca Salt feel with some more cool harmonies , while ’Gonna Getcha’ has a  touch of Hole, except  a lot more restrained. They know how to grab the listener’s attention and while you expect them to break out screaming in places, they hold it together.
  Father Osborne  adds a lot of reverb to the girls’ vocals which  adds to an ethereal feel to the music throughout and gives them a  more laid back Raveonettes sound. It’s an excellent first effort, which builds up the suspense and the energy not to mention anticipation for the future.
— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: The Blue Violets
Band: The Blue Violets
Genre: pop
Record label: 604 Records
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