Review of Nilsson Schmilsson by Harry Nilsson

nilsson schmilsson album cover

Sonic Collective member Darren Scott picked this album from a recent vinyl collection he acquired. Little did he know, that this was one of the most interesting album picks we ever had. We discovered a legend in Harry Nilsson and our opinions and reviews were as crazy as his life was. How had we never known this artist? Listen and enjoy.

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Review of Dap-Dippin’: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff - Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings circa 2015

As we continue to explore the musical genre of Soul, Sonic Collective member Alain Dupuis has chosen for us to review Dap-Dippin’ with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. This album was released in 2002, but you’d never know it by listening to it. As part of the Brooklyn soul revivalist movement that kicked off in the early 2000s, this album sounds like it belongs straight out of the 1960s.

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Van Halen: Van Halen

Thanks for tuning into The Sonic Collective! It’s once again my turn to pick, and for the month of February, 2020, I’ve chosen for us to review Van Halen’s Diamond-Certified eponymous debut album, Van Halen.

Hailing from Pasadena, the band played a number of gigs in the mid to late 70s, eventually catching the attention of two executives from Warner Bros. A deal was struck, and Van Halen entered the studio in 1977, basically taking their live show and tracking it out over the course of a couple of weeks at a cost of around $40,000. Van Halen was released in February of 1978, and almost immediately began to make an impact on the charts. Fans loved it, while certain high-profile critics panned it. But the critics were, of course, wrong. The album reached #19 on the top 200 chart, and before 1978 had come to an end, it had already attained Platinum status from the RIAA.

The legacy of Van Halen is still present 42+ years onward. Their sound defined what hard rock / heavy metal would be for the next decade. It spun off a number of well-known singles, including “You Really Got Me”, “Running With The Devil”, and “Jaimie’s Cryin’”.  Eddie Van Halen would achieve god-like status among guitarists for his innovative approach to his instrument, and David Lee Roth is often praised for his stylish, bombastic, and energetic personality as the band’s frontman. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Let’s dive in and see where it all started this month!

Wikipedia: Van Halen (Band)

Wikipedia: Van Halen (Album)

Spotify: Van Halen (Album)

Sweet 300zx commercial from 1996 featuring You Really Got Me

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison Review

Please read Darren Scott’s pick for Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison before reading and listening to our reviews below.

Quick Summary: 

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
  • Would we recommend?
  • Influence us and our tastes?
  • Worth the hype?
4.4

Summary and Overall Score

Darren Scott’s selection of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was well received by the group as we kicked off our round of live album selections. This classic album of Cash’s was just the type of album he needed as he had been recovering from addiction issues and was out of the spotlight for a few years. The atmosphere of the prison and the raw energy that this album produced was awesome. Just when you think Johnny cash couldn’t get any cooler, he did.
Though some of us were not the biggest country music fans and were not drawn to this music in our younger years, we all agreed that this album was great and a must listen. Definitely listen to the legacy edition. Please listen to our audio review and enjoy-we sure did!


Our Individual Review Scores
Darren Scott:
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype? 5
Scott Coates:
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype?: 5
Scott Gregory:
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 5
Alain DuPuis:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Greg Jorgensen:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 4

Robert Johnson: King Of The Delta Blues Singers

This months pick was hard for me. As there are 5 in our group now it is only every 5 months that your pick comes up again. It actually causes me anxiety to make a pick for a few reasons. Namely, you don’t want to pick a dud and you always want to honour a great musician. I also fret about those I don’t pick.
Like everyone else, I was saddened about the passing of Prince and I thought that perhaps I should pick one of his albums this month. I decided not to, though I am sure we will get to such a great artist.
I decided to go another route. Back, way back, to the very roots of rock itself. The Blues.
I have always like the blues and I own many great blues albums. However, I do not own one Robert Johnson song. After researching the most influential blues albums it was clear that I should choose this particular Robert Johnson piece.

robert2It was picked as the 27th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone. The album is actually a compilation of songs recorded in 2 sessions in 1936 and 1937. These songs were released as singles back then but someone finally decided to put them all together. Usually we say no compilations for our picks but this isn’t some “Best of..” crap, this is just the first time it was financially possible to have a collection like this released. The list of people that were influenced by this album is literally endless but Keith Richards and Jimmy Page stand out. These sounds are literally the foundation that all rock, alt-rock, metal, punk were built on. Wow.
Though I am sure I will recognize some of the songs I am anxious and excited to listen to this month’s pick and to the icon that is Robert Johnson. I hope you enjoy this pick. Be sure to come back and read our reviews on the 1st of June.
Links:
Official Website
Wikepedia Page
Vanity Fair Article about his strange short life
Other Blues Masters I considered:
Howlin’ Wolf
Muddy Waters
John Lee Hooker
B.B King
Enjoy
Darren Scott

Review of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still

Please read Scott Gregory’s selection article of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Maybe our collective group needed a break after reviewing Bat out of Hell because this easy-listening pick was just what we needed to chill out, relax, and for some of us, get the nasty taste of Meat Loaf out of our heads.
The five of us were similar in our reviews this month but for different reasons, but we all had to admit that Chantal’s voice, music, songwriting and beauty of her personality won us over. Colour, Moving and Still was a worthy addition to the amazing women vocalists of Canada in the 90s and her philanthropy and the use of her fame for good is truly noble. Check out what else we had to say and put on this album and chill out while you read.
What was cool about this album:

  • It’s a beautifully written, relaxing album that makes you feel good.
  • The more we learned about Chantal, the more we fell in love with her. So much talent and so much giving back. Thanks Chantal.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • With exception of Scott Gregory we all commented that we usually don’t listen to albums that are in the adult contemporary, easy-listening genre.
  • As per the previous point, our scores for how this particular album influenced us was low as we just didn’t listen to this type of music 20 years ago.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
I consider Chantal Kreviazuk one of Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters. And while I remember her mostly from a childhood filled with Much Music videos, these days it’s her humanitarian work and candid social media presence that’s drawn me in. That great musician just happened to be an all-around great person too! With that in mind, my 24 year-old awkward college-self finally found the courage to ask her second album out on a date.
The composition on this album is amazing. As much as I love the piano, I need it to either be crazy-brash like we saw on Meatloaf Bat out of Hell, or it needs to be in perfect harmony to avoid the instrumental version of lead-singer-disease. I’ve listened a bunch of times, and I can’t pick out anywhere she sells out a song to showcase her (amazing) piano skills.
I can’t help but love the whole album, because you can clearly feel it as a whole. I find myself stopping and thinking about these songs. Thinking about the choice in transitions, spikes and ebbs in emotion. I also find myself stopping in songs like Soul Searching trying to figure out just how to classify what I can only describe as the “shimmy shimmy” percussion going on, and how it’s defied any other classification.
While the entire album peels my heart and mind back in layers, I’ve pulled out the three songs that stand out for their own reasons:
Eve
I’ve spent an entire month with this song and I still don’t know exactly what is going on here! The opening haunts me. Like haunts me. I’m talking like instant hair standing up and mind at attention feelings. I’ve poured over the lyrics and I’ve moved from interpretations of loss of a child to loss of childhood, narrator to sibling looking in. I really need to know what she is forgiving!!! This song is costing me sleep and sanity. You should really check it out.
Until We Die
This song struck me as even more relevant today than it could have been 17 years ago. With far more people meeting online, be it through games, social media or dating sites, and the ease with which one can maintain a relationship through cheap phone, Skype, and other services, there are far more people going through the beautiful torture of a long distance relationship. I could clearly remember the angst and exaggerated highs and lows that “being here for you but not being there for you” can bring. I can only see this song becoming more powerful as time goes on.
Before you
When this single dropped, I was spellbound watching this video on Much Music. She was beautiful, gifted musically and the lyrics were simultaneously the love letter I hoped I’d one day receive from a woman and a checklist of what to do to get it. The joy just oozes out of every layer of this song. Listening to it again after all these years, I can safely say the battle of 1994 has finally been decided, Chantal has won the long-game against Raine and Before You has replaced Starseed on my shower karaoke rotation. Sorry man, it was a good run.
My review’s been pretty light on the instrumental or production sides, which is likely a byproduct of the emotional response I had. Overall I love the slow, groovy undertones that run through a large part of the album. I’m familiar with some of Jay Joyce’s later work with the Wallflowers and Cage the Elephant and you can see his influence production here. If you’re looking for a timeless, soul-searching, dynamic and challenging album from a duo of master musicians and producers, you’re going to love this one.
The numbers
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype: 5
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
When this pick was put up on the website, it was a nice surprise. Chantal Kreviazuk is a name I haven’t heard, nor thought about, in years. To put a fine point on it, not since 1999, when Colour Moving and Still came out. That was 2 years before I moved to Thailand and largely left Canadian pop culture behind me, so it’s no surprise that she hasn’t played a role in the intervening years.
But I remember the singles from this album being on the radio all the time, and liked them a lot. I’d never listened to the whole album, so it was an interesting one for me. That being said – despite Kreviazuk’s gorgeous voice, powerful vocals, and clear songwriting talent, adult contemporary just isn’t a genre I ever really got into, and this album isn’t any different.
Before You was the big hit on CMaS, and it’s a beautiful song with a fantastic hook – I’ve actually been singing it in my head for the past 3 weeks. I do remember listening to CJ92 and rocking out to this one quite happily on my bright yellow Sony walkman, and it was a pleasure to listen to again. None of the other songs, however, really blew my (ahem) hair back. Dear Life was a nice, peppy listen, and Far Away had some gorgeous vocals, especially near the end.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I can’t help but get a secondary Alanis vibe from the whole shebang. That’s not saying it’s because Kreviazuk is any less or more of a songwriter/performer, or that Canadians shouldn’t be any less proud that she’s one of ours, but any album from the mid-to-late 90s from a Canadian female singer is likely to be compared to Morisette – and simply by the fact that Jagged Little Pill was such a juggernaut, any album from the same or similar genre will likely be overshadowed.
Beyond that, I found CMaS to be a very nice album, but nothing that really grabbed me in any notable way.
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
This was a really tough review for me. I don’t often deliberately listen to anything that qualifies as “adult contemporary”. The genre has just never really moved the needle for me. When Scott listed this album as his pick for the month, I was eager to give it a listen, but quickly found myself really struggling to get into it. It took quite a few repeats before I started to really appreciate it.
Chantal is clearly a very talented singer / songwriter. Each track has a unique sound, which is actually not a compliment I can bestow on at least half the albums I’ve reviewed for the Sonic Collective. The album comes together really well. Props to the production team, they did a really great job with bringing these songs together and making them each sound unique but cohesive. I even like how the tracks are arranged, mixing it up between the slower songs and the high-energy songs.
Souls won me over, becoming my favourite track on the album, despite the fact I really didn’t like it the first few times I heard it. That segue from a really pretty ambient intro, quietly building into a verse driven by an arpeggiated piano, and then rising into a loud chorus led by strong vocals really sealed it for me.
Several other songs make the cut for me too, such as Dear Life, a fun 90’s alt-rock-ish-sounding take on a relationship on the rocks, and Soul Searching, a jazzy track that could have just as easily found a home on Alanis Morisette’s album Jagged Little Pill – Trust me, that’s meant as a big compliment.
I wasn’t a fan of Before You back in 1999 when it made waves as a hit single and I was a closed-minded metalhead, but I’m sad to report it still hasn’t won me over. The song Until We Die also didn’t turn my crank. I have always had trouble getting into slow sappy piano ballads, and I struggled with this one all month, despite really trying. (Ironically, it seamlessly transitions right into Souls, which I previously mentioned as being favourite track.)
Final thoughts
As the month progressed, I went from being really eager to give Colour Moving And Still a chance, to having a lot of trouble making it through the whole thing without giving up, but it eventually grew on me as a whole, and I found myself gravitating towards several tracks in particular. The production on the album is really well done. I like the subtle reverb used on the vocals, the instruments – particularly the piano – sound rock solid, and I really like the variances in dynamic range found on most of the tracks. Sonically, this is a really really good album. Everything is tight without being overproduced. There’s a very warm, human feel to it.
My biggest barrier to really LOVING the album is my general aversion to sappy, stripped-down ballads, of which Colour has a fair number. It’s totally a subjective thing, but I’m just not there yet. Maybe one day down the road, I’ll revisit it and find that my tastes have changed.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3.5
 
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300
Scott Coates’s Review
While I semi-regularly listen to lighter pop music, Chantal Kreviazuk’s form of adult contemporary isn’t part of my typical rotation. I was aware of her name, can’t remember the hit single I no doubt heard many times when living back in Canada in the 1990s, and quite enjoyed Colour and Moving Still.
This is ideal music for lounging on the couch while reading a magazine on a Sunday morning, enjoying dinner and a bottle of wine with your significant other, or painting (if I was a painter). The point – it’s relaxing, soulful, introspective stuff. Kreviazuk’s voice is rich, full of range, and seemed very familiar, like an old friend who’s returned after being away for quite some time.
Dear Life is pretty upbeat, got me thinking about life each time it came on, and put me in the mood to give my wife a big hug. In many ways it seems (in a good way) like the kind of song that could have been featured on an episode of Friends. Soul Searching features a nice blend of pop and soulful vocals and also appealed. Far Away was the high point, putting me at ease and making me feel confident about challenges in life and grabbing life by the balls.
Each listen I was reminded of Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan, finding the songs on this album blended the best of both artists, but in a new and unique way. Overall the tracks on Colour and Moving Still seemed like they could be on the soundtrack to any number of romantic comedies. I kept seeing John Cusack walking away from the girl he loves, tear running down his cheek, only to turn around and see her standing there staring at him. This is a good thing.
Colour and Moving Still was a nice addition to our monthly picks, put me in a very relaxing place on many occasions and I’ll be sure to check out some of her other albums. If you’re seeking a mellow and enjoyable background track while hanging with a loved one, or while baking, this is a solid bet.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype?: 3.5
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Chantal Kreviazuk’s Colour, Moving and Still album choice excited me this month. I am a very proud supporter of Canadian music and musicians. I, of course, knew who she was and that she has a very long and successful career, but her music wasn’t necessarily my style. I tend to be more drawn to fast tempo, upbeat music and as I age the rift between anything labelled pop music and my taste widens. I’m not saying you can classify her music as just pop, but that is where it got the most radio play here in Canada. I always liked the songs I heard but had never really thought about buying her albums. No offense Chantal, I just have a massive queue of music I love and you just didn’t crack my personal list.
Again, this is why our music collective is great. Someone will pick an album that you would not have picked, and it forces you to take the time to listen and expand your knowledge of that artist.
As soon as I found out the pick I listened to the album twice in a row and proceeded to read what I could find about Chantal, this album and her career. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect I found myself really liking this album and enjoying Chantal’s story. I was also enamored with her social views and how she is using her fame to make our world a better place. Read her commentary on Kim Kardashian, it’s great.
Though her music was more mellow than I usually listen to at length I was really drawn to the beauty of her voice and the fact that she is an amazing songwriter. I, not unpredictably was drawn to the more upbeat songs like Dear Life and Before You but I did enjoy the others as well.
Her impact on music in Canada and across the world is undeniable and we thank her for that.
I was also impressed that Chantal herself actually responded to our social media posts by favoriting a few tweets. She just seems super cool to me and someone you could have a few beers with and have some laughs.
I really enjoyed this album and I would recommend that, if you haven’t already, you take the time to listen to her great songwriting and music.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4