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Members of Montreal-based band Plants and Animals.
Members of Montreal-based band Plants and Animals.

Essential tracks Add to ...

Swinging Bells, Plants and Animals, from La La Land (Secret City Records)

If you play it right, an electric guitar can make drugs and rock 'n' roll seem like pretty much the same thing. Montreal's Plants and Animals take a strong dose of six-stringed stimulants on this stately, surprising track from their beautiful new album, coming out in April.

Mossie, Bettie Serveert, from Pharmacy of Love (Second Motion Records; streaming live performance at youtube.com/watch?v=X2P0otN5VuU)

The veteran Dutch rockers take it slow and painful in this subdued waltz tune about the stains of love streaked across this wide world. Some of the melodic turns may make you wonder whether Bettie Serveert is Dutch for Elvis Costello.

Lasciatemi, Shannon Mercer, from Francesca Caccini: O Viva Rosa (Analekta)

Francesca Caccini was a leading Florentine musician of the early 17th century who plainly knew a thing or two about heartbreak. Her haunting slow air becomes piercingly immediate in this gorgeous performance by Ottawa-born soprano Shannon Mercer, of a new arrangement with instrumental trio.

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