Les Hay Babies

A year after romping home in the 17th edition of Les Francouvertes; Moncton, New Brunswick’s finest Arcadian country-folk band, Les Hay Babies release their debut album, “Mon Homesick Heart”, this week, featuring a great selection of banjo twanging folk songs, interspersed with some retro cowpunk and beautiful slower ballads.

The single “Fil de telephone”, which is reminiscent of the cowpunk style of the short-lived Boothill Foot Tappers, was released last month and serves as a pretty good introduction to what is going to find it’s way into my best-of-list for sure!

Free Caroline Lacaze

Go HERE and download this great soulful track by our favourite French souldiva, Caroline Lacaze. If you’re into funk, soul, jazz en modern electronics, you can also pick up tracks by Kraak & Smaak, Omar, Nickodemus and Gecko Turner.

Niagara covered

New French artist Thomas Winter covers Niagara on his recently released EP. So let’s unearth the original and some other cover versions

Catherine Leduc

Catherine Leduc (half of Tricot Machine) made a solo album and it’s BRILLIANT. More praise coming up, just listen to one of the many highlights:

Viviane Audet

Montreal-based Viviane Audet took her time to make her sophomore album – over 5 years. The result is a sparse (mostly just acoustic guitar and/or piano) singer-songwriter album, that reminds early Francoiz Breaut and Fiona Apple. Avant toi is one of the best tracks on the new album (that has more instruments than just piano or guitar).

Coeur de pirate – the update

Been a while since we had a lengthy post on chère CdP, non? Mark reviews the three ways in which Béatrice Martin is staying at the top
Coeur de pirate Québec le 6 juillet 2013 (1)
When Coeur de pirate announced that she was returning to tour in Europe following the birth of her daughter, but would not have her band with her, not all of us were convinced that she could wow the world alone at the piano, without the excitement that her band shows create.

We need not have worried. In 12 sold-out concerts in April 2013 her extraordinary quality solo on stage was clear to all. See extended film of several songs at Mulhouse and, even better, at Hérouville St-Clair (Caen), in Normandy. And see this perfectly-framed performance of ‘Saint-Laurent’ there.

Béatrice also showed a new talent – solo guitar as at 11m10s at Hérouville St-Clair, where the instrument seems bigger than her, and at Paris’s Salle Gaveau, singing ‘Verseau’.

After this demonstration CdP returned to Canada, giving a ‘walking interview’ in her home district here,
and put on some great performances with her band at summer festivals. At Festivoix, Trois-Rivières, on 3 July, she had the prime evening slot : see here
and here.

A still larger crowd greeted her at the Festival d’Été at Québec City on 6 July. Official film covers the first three songs and an amateur film the rest, capturing audience reaction well.

CdP is always grasping new opportunities, as in her sunny, positive version of ‘Mon manège à moi’ at the Beacon Theatre in New York to mark 50 years since Edith Piaf’s death in 1963.

And now she has recorded an album in English. ‘Trauma’ is cover songs for the soundtrack to the Canadian television program of the same name. She sings including The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse, Bon Iver, The Libertines, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and The National (‘Slow Show’). All 12 tracks can be heard here.

FS contributor SteveInSoCal offers a review of each song on his website blog: “An album of beautifully arranged interpretations – every song has been stripped back, adapted, moulded, indeed structured to Béatrice’s trademark vocal and compositional style – while all the time remaining faithful to the spirit of the original…”

To my ears the the arrangement on some tracks have too much backing, so that the pure voice is obscured. Fortunately Béatrice also offers us a live filmed set of three on Deezer performed solo: Amy Whitehouse’s ‘You know I’m no good’, Mick Jagger & Keith Richard’s ‘Dead Flowers’, and Bon Iver’s ‘Flume’.

Where is Coeur de pirate going next? Listen to her revealing interview on CBC’s ‘Q’ in March 2014. Béatrice tells us that she sounds different in English, and that she had to approach the task in different ways from how she creates songs in French. At the very end she tells us what’s next. Tantalising.

UPDATE:
This just in: Cdp made music for a computer game:

Chloe Lacasse

New single. More on her new album later (by Steve, of course)

Whitehorse

Whitehorse are the husband and wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland who’ve created quite a stir in Canada with their dynamic brand of folk-rock (their 2012 album “The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss” was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize). Their latest album, Éphémère sans repère”, however sees the duo team up with renowned Montréal-based songwriter and producer Pierre Marchand, to translate five of their best known songs into the language of Molière.

Two of the songs, the album’s opener “Éphémère sans repère (Devil’s got a gun)” (official video below complete with sing-along lyrics) and “Le cadeau” are both thumping rock numbers – full of chugging guitars, perfect harmonies and chorus hookss that are guaranteed to embed themselves in your skull.

But the duo are equally at home when tackling different musical genres; there’s a nice change of pace provided by the gentle ebb and flow of “Les oiseaux de nuit (Night owls)“, a heartfelt ballad that just revolves around the pair’s vocal harmonies. Meanwhile “Brisée (Broken)” is about as good an upbeat country-folk song as I’ve heard this year, while “Je suis devenue lionne (Out like a lion)” is just a perfect pop-song – all spot-on harmonies, up-tempo rhythm… but then the middle-eight just hits you – all crashing, reverbed guitar – as the song builds to a crescendo of angelic vocals and wailing guitars…

Finally, and as a bonus, the pair tackle a Franco-Canadian standard, “Un Canadien errant”, written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie. The faithful acoustic rendition of this incredibly heartfelt and humble song, truly manages to convey the hardship and homesickness caused by being forced into exile…

“Éphémère sans repère” is a mini-album chock full of expertly and exquisitely crafted songs that linger in the head long after they album has finished. I expect this will be appearing in at least one “Best of 2014” list come year-end…

Thanks Steve!