Arts & Entertainment

REVIEWS

Ray Lamontagne – Till the Sun Turns Black. Lamontagne’s mesmerizing debut, Trouble, was one of the most critically lauded sleeper hits of 2004, landing spots on a variety of film and TV soundtracks and rocketing him into folk-rock stardom. Since then, Lamontagne has been on a seemingly ceaseless tour schedule-dropping by Montreal three times in the past year. A second studio release within less than two years of his debut spelt likely disaster to many Lamontagne fans. Many anticipated a label-pressured release, bearing too much resemblance to Trouble to hold its own and suffering from hastened song writing and production. Few were expecting the kind of artistic merit, poetry and sheer genius Till the Sun Turns Black effortlessly exudes. Whereas Trouble hinged on Lamontagne’s emotive and poignant vocal deliveries and rather classic, tried-and-true folk-rock arrangements, Till the Sun is a far more subdued work, which is hardly as palatable upon first listen but has more captivating subtleties and undertones than any other album released in recent memory. Producer, multi-instrumentalist and long-time collaborator Ethan Johns colours every song on this album with sinuous guitar work and graceful string arrangements, even bringing a full horn section into the studio for the bluesy “You Can Bring Me Flowers.” Lamontagne’s delivery remains understated and restrained throughout, the polar opposite of what generated buzz for Trouble, but a style which Till the Sun is so gorgeously plotted around. This album lives up to its predecessor while simultaneously escaping the carbon-copy syndrome that many sophomore albums will face. A sublime, moving and unforgettable listen.

Gosling – Here is…If you can wrap your mind around the notion of parallel universes, imagine one in which the Doors formed in the early 21st century and was poised to champion the indie-rock scene. That, in a nutshell, is what Gosling is all about. A reincarnation of Washington hard-rock act Loudermilk, Gosling’s mellower and more stylistically diverse full-length debut is an utterly engrossing album. Though not geared towards mainstream listening audiences, this is real musician’s music, and the best you’re likely to hear these days. Songs like “Worm Waltz” and “Waiting for the Sun” have playful guitar and piano lines, contrasted by singer/guitarist Davey Ingersoll’s quirky but potent vocal turns. Gosling conveys the majesty of Queen and offers some Beatlesian vocal harmonies, but through careful production and plain ol’ punk-rock spirit, retains a gritty, urban, rock-till-you-drop mystique, especially on the swift, relentless, fuzzed-out thrasher “The Glass is Empty.” These guys pick up where the Strokes left off, and have no trouble filling the 21st century rock and roll shoes.Gosling plays live Saturday, Sept. 9 at the Green Room, 5390 St-Laurent. Call 514-495-4448 for more information.

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