March has been a strong month on the French side of the local scene from newcomers and established acts alike. Fear not, we listened to everything and here’s our March top 5!
Le Winston Band | Zig Zag Zydeco Zoo (Zydeco)
I must admit it’s a shame I didn’t know about this band previously. I mean, a Montreal-based band playing Zydeco/Rock fusion music… can you really ask for more??
After two EPs and one full-length album, the band is back with a second LP titled Zig Zag Zydeco Zoo. Pure fun shines through this record from the opener Zoo Town Zydeco, a love anthem for Zydeco music, to other funny tracks like Bureaucrates and La gigue à Ti-Mamoune. Also showcasing the awesome songwriting of this band is another original, the rocking murder-tale Panique à Murdochville sure to be a classic in a live setting.
There is also a handful of covers on the album. Like Carotté and Guylaine Tanguay in the last few months only, Le Winston Band also tackles La Bastringue adding some Cajun spices to it. We’re also lucky enough to get Maladie d’amour, the Henri Salvador classic and Ô Bagosse a trad Louisina number.
Party like every day is Mardi Gras with everything Winston Band related here!
Must. Listen. To.: Zoo Town Zydeco, Bureaucrates, Enfirouaper, Panique à Murdochville, La Bastringue.
Belle Grand Fille | Maille par Maille (Pop | Folk)
About a year after having won two prizes at Ma première Place des Arts contest (1st place | singer-songwriter and best song), Belle Grand Fille releases her first EP, Maille par Maille. Belle Grand Fille is the solo project of Anne-Sophie Doré-Coulombe (Ragoût, Robert Fusil et les chiens fous). In this endeavor, she proposes a folk-tinged pop with a piano-vocals foundation.
Five songs are featured on this EP, three of them which you might already know from her Bandcamp released demo earlier last year. This time though, they benefit from the excellent production of Mathieu Désy and the addition of strings or brass instruments. San Francisco is probably the song that improved the most, the different layers and dynamics now fully shining through. A true highlight!
Belle Grand Fille greatest strength is her ability to combine great melodies with innovative lyrics, despite being anchored in everyday life. Perfect examples are L’escalier and the title track. You can feel this last one is particularly close to home for Belle Grand Fille. She delivers a standout performance, making you feel every single word sang. You can even “hear” her shyly smile when she sings “c’tu vrai qu’tu vas être tout nu, tout le temps?”
You can get Maille par Maille here!
Must. Listen. To.: Maille par Maille, San Francisco, Comme des chercheurs de volcan.
Mononc’ Serge | Rechauffé (Metal | Punk)
It’s probably a cardinal sin to write about Mononc’ Serge in English, but, whatever. Almost exactly 26 years after the release of Les Colocs’ self-titled record, Mononc’ is back with Rechauffé, an album celebrating his illustrious career.
With Rechauffé, Mononc’ Serge has re-recorded 14 tracks throughout his impressive catalog. There’s also two new songs: Colonel Sanders and Rentrez don’ chez vous. The title Rechauffé is obviously a wink at the fact of not proposing something new, but you can also see it in a way that he put some heat back into these numbers. This album is definitely heavy all the way through. Sometime on the punk side, other times more towards the metal side courtesy of some heavy guitar riffs, it’s something near Motörhead on the heavy power-trio spectrum.
How much you’ll love this new album will be based on how much you’re attached to the original arrangements or like it when Mononc’ ventures into heavier territory. But, let’s be clear: the heavy treatment does great good to many of these classics! Especially first single Les Picks (see video below), the song feels like it had been waiting for this arrangement it’s whole life. As for the new songs, they rank well with the other classics. Colonel Sanders has some witty lyrics like only Mononc’ can come up with. And with Rentrez don’ chez vous, he has probably found his encore track for many years to come.
All things Rechauffé right here!
Must. Listen. To.: Les Picks, Casserole, Colonel Sanders, Tout le monde se criss de Mononc’ Serge, J’sens l’punk.
Stefie Shock | Le fruit du hasard (Multifaceted Pop)
After an album of Gainsbourg covers, Stefie Shock is back with an album of original material. Celebrating what he calls his 20-year as singer-songwriter and a “new” relationship with actress/comedian Sonia Cordeau, Stefie Shock is particularly inspired on this record.
Musically, this album is all over the place. You’ll rediscover Shock’s typical latin-tinged dynamic rhythms (Avec ou sans toi, Comme d’habitude), but he also ventures into house music territory with the solid Raspberries on which Cordeau also lends some vocals. There’s also a couple of covers, French adaptations of Plants and Animals’ Bye Bye Bye (also with Cordeau) and Frank Loesser/Hoagy Carmicheael’s classic Heart and Soul becoming Simplement, doucement.
A true highlight and personal favorite is the song As-tu deux minutes?, constructed around samples of Pauline Julien’s song/monologue 8h10. Introduced during Shock’s participation to the #Bellcause campaign, it’s a nice way to re-introduce people to this forgotten gem.
Clocking in at 35 minutes, the album flies by with no weak spot and leaves you asking for more. Celebrate this comeback right here!
Must. Listen. To.: As-tu deux minutes?, Raspberries, Le fruit du hasard, Bye Bye Bye, Avec ou sans toi.
Van Carton | Les choses qui tiennent debout (Dream Pop)
Van Carton is the solo project of multi-disciplinary artist Guillaume Monette (3 gars su’l sofa). This project has little in common with his previous musical endeavor though. Gone are the acoustic guitars and funny lyrics, replaced by synths, samples and brass instruments.
The album starts with a couple of slow tempo songs warming you up for the pièce de résistance, the three punch combo that are Des choses qui tiennent debout, Sacs the fric, Si tu le fais, je le fais. Those three tracks contain some incredibly inspired melodies and grooves that are sure to keep you moving. Especially the title track with its infectious and epic synths pattern.
Sacs de fric, first single of the album, continues with Van Carton’s objective to write about some introspective and thoughtful topics making you dance all the while. The video made for it is striking in that respect (see below).
The album then takes you gently back down from this endorphin mountain with another series of lower tempo tracks, wrapping up the record nicely. The loop is complete.
Visit the bandcamp page here!
Must. Listen. To.: Des choses qui tiennent debout, Si tu le fais, je le fais, Folle à la plage, Le chemin facile.
CPA (although he doesn’t want people to know about it — oops!). Francophone and Francophile, he has a dream of bringing Québec’s two solitudes together through cultural exchanges. Improv Actor for 15 years. Music lover, from New Age to Death Metal and everything in between.