The Trews / Acoustic – Friends & Total Strangers / Universal
Recorded live in Toronto, this album from Nova Scotia’s The Trews is an enjoyable compilation of acoustic versions of singles and b-sides from the group’s back catalogue. Hits like “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me” and “So She’s Leaving” receive new life, benefiting from vocal harmonies and smoothly interplaying guitar. At the same time, songs the band doesn’t always get a chance to play live are treated with equal respect on the ‘unplugged’ stage.
Download: “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me”, “The Love You Save”
Tokio Hotel / Humanoid / Universal
One of the first popular artists to use ‘auto-tune’ voice modulation as a major part of one of their songs was Cher with “Believe” in 1999. For a few years it got left by the way side as unoriginal groups decided they’d rather sound like Nickelback than Cher. Now that it has gained credibility and frequent use in hip hop, however, a lot more groups in other genres – including Germany’s Tokio Hotel – are turning to auto-tune. They do this forgetting how easily it makes it to draw comparisons between their music and Cher’s. The aptly named “Automatic,” first single off Humanoid, exemplifies this fact perfectly. Tracks on Humanoid center mainly around atmosphere-setting synths and vocals so slick they ought to be tested for performance enhancers.
Down With Webster / Time To Win / Universal
Down With Webster, a Toronto Hip Hop group that’s been together since the late 90’s, hoped to release their full length debut two years ago. However, years passed, and the seven-piece (yes, seven-piece) remained without an album. Singles like “Miracle Mile” gained the band some recognition, and a seemingly never-ending tour cycle kept them busy, but, now, synced up with an ambitious US tour, a full-length album has finally come to fruition. Since the album has been coming for so long, some tracks like “Rich Girl$” (a creative take on the Hall & Oates classic) and “Miracle Mile” have been making rounds for some time now, but the freshness and confidence exuded on both have kept them from going stale. There are brief moments when this confidence transforms into the kind of frat-boy cockiness that makes groups like the Hollywood Undead so unbearable, but mainly it’s DWW’s working-class appeal that’s got so many fans getting down with them.
Download: “Time To Win,” “Rich Girl”, “Miracle Mile”