Monogrenade featuring Marie-Pierre Arthur

Yes, Marie-Pierre Arthur, star of many appreciative posts on this blog, teams up with one of Canada’s most prolific rock bands, Monogrenade. The result is here, and downloadable for free!

Julie Blanche

Julie BlancheAnd yet another singer-songwriter from Quebec…

Now Julie Blanche’s eponymous debut EP was one that was missed when it was released last year. But with Julie finishing runner-up in this year’s edition of the prestigious Francouvertes (and you may just have heard of some of the previous finalists – La Patère Rose, Émilie Proulx, Chloé Lacasse, Les sœurs Boulay, not to mention last year’s winners Les Hay Babies) what better excuse than a quick revisit to one that got away?

This all to brief three-track EP is not so much a showcase of Julie Blanche’s talents but more of a tease; after listening there’s an overwhelming urge to discover more from this artist. Eschewing the more familiar country-folk route of a number of Francophone contemporaries, this EP instead veers towards an acoustic indie-pop path that is chock-full of dark, bitter-sweet melancholic rhythms. Indeed, “La maison d’hier” with it’s pounding, metronomic beat has a distinctive Gothic tinge and a fully-plugged in version would get very close to the dark indie-pop so reminiscent from Hôtel Morphée’s first album, “Des histoires de fantômes.”

According to her Bandcamp page (where the EP is available on a name your own price basis), Julie is currently in search of a record label. Given the exposure that the Francouvertes brings, I don’t expect this state of affairs to last for long…

Hôtel Morphée

2014xxxx Hotel MorpheeOne of this blog’s favourite brooding, Gothic bands returns this autumn with a brand new album and a new sound. 

Montréal-based Hôtel Morphée release the long-awaited follow-up to last year’s “Des histoires de fantômes”, with the September release of “Rêve américain.”

While still dark and brooding, the new album promises a more openly poppy sound. The band have just released a thumping single from the album, “Dernier jour” that hints at the disjoint between dreams and the sobering light of reality and as as to be expected from the band, is deliciously subversive.  There’s that trademarked and liberal use of the syncopated rhythms of orchestral strings, but this time around they’re married to a distinctive rockier beat and Laurence Nerbonne’s vocals take on a distinctive rasping (and at times sultry) edge, especially with the subtle reverb added to the chorus…

“Dernier jour” serves as a tantalising tease for an album that is going to be eagerly awaited.


Laurence Nerbonne
Laurence Nerbonne
Laurence Nerbonne

Véronique Bilodeau

20140525 Veronique BilodeauNever mind just another talented jeune Québécoise, here’s yet another talented graduate from the École Nationale de la Chanson de Granby…

Hailing from the Bas-du-Fleuve region of Québec, 20-year old singer-songwriter Véronique Bilodeau has already made a pretty big impression – a winner at the 2013 National Cégeps en Spectacle (for students attending a General and Vocational College in Québec – previous winners include Isabelle Boulay and Ariane Moffatt); walked away with prizes galore at that year’s Tremplin de Dégelis (“Springboard” festival of Dégelis – previous alumni include Klô Pelgag) and for good measure will be appearing at the prestigious FrancoFolies de Montréal this June.

“Sans les mots”, available from Véronique’s Bandcamp page is a beautiful folk-tinged romantic ballad (of which there seems to be a veritable production line in that Francophone Province) that touches on the telepathic relationship that couples often share. But what makes this song stand-out is that Véronique poses the most confident, soaring yet velvety-smooth voice. The composition’s arrangement is incredibly well balanced with a melodic acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment, all brilliantly fleshed out with accordion and double-bass.

As an added incentive, the single is currently available as a free download from the artist’s Bandcamp page.

Geneviève Racette

And yet another talented singer-songwriter from Québec! Here’s Geneviève Racette with “Bricolage,” a track from her soon to be released eponymous debut EP.

Given that this EP was financed via crowd-funding, “Bricolage” is perhaps an apt title, although there’s nothing DIY about this sympathetically produced, up-lifting and up-tempo folk-tinged pop-song. There’s a gorgeous melodic guitar intro before Geneviève silky-smooth vocals kick-in; the song’s arrangement ensures that the melody complements rather than over-powers the voice; and as befits someone who cut her musical teeth as a member of the all-girl a cappella group, Les Gourmandes, the soaring harmonies are absolutely note-perfect.

A graduate of the l’école Nationale de la chanson de Granby and a finalist at last year’s L’Etoile montant (the winner gets to appears at the prestigious FrancoFolies de Montréal festival), Geneviève describes her style as “Comfy folk-pop.”

You can check the song out for yourselves, below:

Chloé Lacasse

(Steve J is now an official author of FillesSourires! Hooray!)

Back in 2011 I stumbled across the eponymous debut album from that year’s Francouvertes winner Chloé Lacasse, an album that managed to seamlessly encompass rock, pop, tender ballads and even threw-in a few Bristollian trip-hop beats – and in “Tout va bien” featured one killer of a contender for song of the year… Fast forward to 2014 and the release of “Lunes”, the theoretically oh-so-difficult sophomore album…
If her debut album seemed to touch all musical bases, “Lunes” sees Chloé focused on a more adult and mature, thoughtful sound. Gone is the “turn the volume up all the way to eleven” – this time it’s those pure and crystalline vocals that were hinted at previously which take centre-stage – the music complements rather than competes for attention. Moreover the clever use of percussion, strings, keyboards – even an auto-harp – help create a more tranquil, trance-like and atmospheric sound than the album’s predecessor; Coupled with Chloé’s ethereal and at times haunting voice, the end result is the most compelling of albums…

From the opening bars of the aforementioned auto-harp that resonates throughout “Rien pour moi” – a deliciously troubling portrayal of an emotionally challenged relationship – you realise that you are listening to something rather special. The songs on this album demand attention – the lyrics have a truly biographical feel and every song on this album sets a scene as a narrative unfurls.

On an album choc-full of stand-out compositions, it is perhaps remiss to highlight a mere handful of songs here, however the way that “Écoute sans parler” and the effortlessly way that the song ploughs a similar psychedelic furrow to two of last year’s standout albums – Hôtel Morphée’s “Des histoires de fantômes” and Forêt ‘s stunning eponymous debut; “Un oiseau dans la vitre” – and it’s wonderfully uplifting and soaring chorus and “Le piège” – all hypnotic grove and emotional rawness – all hint at how truly outstanding an album this is.

There’s a perfect synergy with lyricism and melody on display here; the end result is a truly outstanding album that deserves to be in any discerning record collection. Lunes” was released in the same week as Catherine Leduc’s “Rookie” – an album that I’ve just rated as year-list material. I’d argue that this album is proof that lightening does indeed strike twice.

Chloé Lacasse – Rien pour moi

Catherine Leduc

2014-04-16-12-25-19-ARTS - Rencontre avecOriginally the female half of Canadian folk-pop duo Tricot Machine, “Rookie” is the debut solo album from Catherine Leduc, and despite the fact that Matthieu Beaumont – long-time partner and the other half of the Tricot Machine – helped produce, mix and play on a number of the keyboards, the sound is far removed from the frothy, bouncy – cute – piano-based pop that the duo were renowned. In it’s place is an incredibly dreamy, melancholic, atmospheric and ye, more mature, sound. Similar to Fanny Bloom (the voice behind La Patère Rose) and her own stunning 2012 solo “Apprentie Guerrière, “Rookie” sees Catherine Leduc blossom and deliver as assured an album as is likely to be released this year.

“Rookie” may seem a strange title for an album from an artist who in one guise or another has been performing and recording for over a decade, but as Catherine has revealed in interviews in the French-Canadian press, this album really is about starting out afresh and (re)defining herself, musically.

The haunting introduction to “Les Vieu hiboux” – with polysynth owls swooping through the midnight forest – sets the melancholic theme that is developed through the ten peerless songs featured here, all aided by the added tinge of fragility that Catherine’s vocals deliver. This feeling of melancholy is further driven home on the sublime “Vendredi Saint.” It’s an absolutely beautiful song – the construction – building from a solo acoustic guitar accompanying incredibly resonant lyrics that would surely melt the iciest of hearts – is as powerful as it is simply executed.

“Pee-Wee BB” sees Catherine explore through junior (ice) hockey, themes of inferiority and overcoming adversity – themes which again are woven through the album; while “Polatouche” adds glockenspiel with overdubbed vocals and the most angelic of choruses to a perfectly paced song.

It’s hard to pick out a stand-out track on an album of such high quality – the absence of a review of all the album’ songs is primarily one of brevity – but “Il faut se lever le matin”, with deep plucked bass chord, and the album’s closing number “Ouvre ton coeur!” with it’s soaring – imploring – chorus and uptempo hook are the songs that I keep returning to… And the ones that makes me yearn for more…

“Rookie” is one of this year’s outstanding albums – irrespective of language. Should further recommendation be required, it has, in my humble opinion, the same wow (as in “Wow! WTF was that?”) factor as Forêt’s astonishing debut from last year.

This album is year-list material…


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!

Sophie Desmarais

1000_201303142056428stc21_MGD_4888Yes, feast your eyes and ears on this dear FillesSourires-visitors. Sophie’s an Quebecoise, an actress who also sings in this new movie called Chasse au Godard d’Abbittibbi. See IMDB for a short description, see this YT-clip too. Set in 1968, it means that Sophie wears lots of eyeliner and looks like a cross between Francoise Hardy and Anna Karina. And she can sing-sigh like the best of ‘m. Listen to the whole soundtrack, including tracks by Les Breastfeeders and FS-fave Ariane Moffatt, here.

Sally Folk

sally-folk-carrousel-4-minSally Folk is Quebecoise with a Algerian dad, who sports a beautiful fringe and has a thing for corsets, firebrigade lipstick and petticoats. She started off in English, making a 50’s style rock’n doowop album (listen here, see a video here), that drew attention of producer Marc Dery. I’m not sure, but my guess is that Dery turned Sally to French, cut back on the 50s music and added a more sophisticated neo-Sixties style. Her new album is just out and contains a few great songs. It feels like the last Coeur de Pirate album was a big inspiration. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. See the video for Sally’s current single here. Listen to snippets of her album here.

Sally Folk – La crosse