We’re back after a quick summer hiatus. Summer that, quite frankly, was really quiet in terms of album releases on the local scene. It’s therefore with renewed excitement that we present to you our September 5 albums You Must Listen to!
Ian Kelly |Long Story Short (Folk)
After a side project called M. Chandler with musicians from Magneto Trio, Ian Kelly is back with an all-English record, Long Story Short. This is in theory an August release, but August was so quiet on the local scene, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about this fine record.
The album is a singer-songwriter folk record, in its purest form. Simple, guitar driven arrangements that let Kelly’s amazing voice shine through at all times. Here again, Kelly showcases his ability to switch from low-pitch to high-pitch vocals for verses/choruses seamlessly, excelling in all ranges. From the album opener Odd Places, you’ll be wrapped around by Kelly’s vocals and they’ll gently carry you through the album’s 11 tracks. You’ll feel somewhat mesmerized, like you just received a light endorphin shot!
Love and relationships is the common theme throughout the album. Searching/finding love, darker times lovers go through and love that evolves with time. Standouts can be found at opposite sides of the spectrum with Simple Song being a lighthearted track about loving someone no matter what, even apocalyptic scenarios (“love me until someone hits the big red button”), while Let me go is an emotional song about upcoming death and moving on. This last one, with its use of piano and string quartet (Mommies on the Run) has a powerful crescendo and the album’s finest lyrics that will bring tears to the driest of eyes!
There’s a lot about us
That we learn without making a sound
I know you’re lost
And I thank you for sticking around
Don’t wait ’til I can’t breathe
I know you love me so
Don’t wait ’til I can’t breathe
Just let me go
Long story short (cheap pun intended), if you’re a fan of Kelly or singer-Songwriter type folk, this album is a must have! Find Long Story Short here and on all digital platforms.
Must. Listen. To.: Let me go, Simple Song, I Need Your Love, Sweet Time, Odd Places.
Les Frères à Ch’val | Ast’Heure (Folk | Country | Rock | Reggae)
The Frères à Ch’val are finally back after a two decades studio hiatus with their new album Ast’Heure. Even though band leader Polo resurrected the band at various occasions throughout the years to mark certain anniversaries, they never went back to the studio to write new music. Polo himself got involved or started numerous other projects: a solo album, a Québec-Morocco hybrid duo with Lekbir Halili under the name Maktoub and a three-piece party/drinking anthems album under the Polo et les Méchants Moinôs moniker.
After the Méchants Moinôs adventure, Polo even called it quits to concentrate on his paintings. It is therefore with great excitement that we learned about him getting the Frères back on track and with a new album to top it all.
The album has all the ingredients you would expect from the band: catchy summer anthems (Le retour du beau temps), a crossover sound that blends folk/country/rock/reggae and a couple of French adaptations of older English classics with Paye-moé (adapted from Pay Me My Money Down) being a definite home run.
The band probably shines at its brightest on second single La Chanson du Gitan, a poignant tale about a gypsy singer being kicked out of his usual city spot. One of the more upbeat track on the record, Polo pulls out an amazing vocal performance and the breathtaking harmonica-led chorus is sure to be a crowd pleaser live!
All is not rainbows and sunshine though. It feels like the band wanted to explore some “darker” themes like virtual relationships (l’écran), climate change (Le gazon vert) or starting over (Mexican-inspired Johnny, which has a nice French play on words with Johnny Cash). A reminder that the band is not just about party anthems.
A truly great return to form! Don’t miss the band returning to Montréal with two other legends from the 90’s Noir Silence and Vilain Pingouin. You can get Ast’Heure at your local record shop.
Must. Listen. To.: La Chanson du Gitan, Paye-Moé, Le retour du beau temps, Sous les étoiles, Elle passa.
Rational Youth | Cold War Night Life [Expanded Edition] (Synth-Pop)
Following on their most recent (and highly recommended!!) EP, Future Past Tense, Rational Youth had a nice surprise for old and new fans alike: the re-release of their 1982 classic Cold War Night Life. This expanded edition includes extended versions of Saturdays in Silesia and City of Night, a French version of City of Night called Cité Phosphore and extensive liner notes written by original member Tracy Howe.
This album is a real anthology piece from one of the first Canadian all-synths pop band. It showcases Rational Youth’s ability to shove aside the drier side of synth music and create catchy melodies and choruses. Songs like the aforementioned Saturdays in Silesia and City of Night are prime examples of this type of songwriting where melody lines from the synths make the music sounds really big and epic despite the minimalist approach. Other high points include Just a sound in the night with another grandiose melody line and the instrumental Le meilleur des mondes, which could fit nicely as a video game soundtrack.
A real treat for fans and a perfect way to discover these Montréal electro pioneers. Cold War Night Life is available on all digital platforms and on vinyl here.
Must. Listen. To.: Saturdays in Silesia, City of Night, Just a sound in the night, Beware the fly, Le meilleur des mondes.
Leeman | Prayer Flags (EDM)
Following an ambient and introspective album called Imaginary Worlds back in 2016, Leeman is back with a new record called Prayer Flags. The concept of the album is inspired by the prayer flags that can be found in Tibet, colorful rectangular cloths hanged often in high places in order to bless the surroundings.
They come in a set of five colors: blue, white, red, green and yellow; and each have their own meaning. On this record, each song is named after one of these colors, with Leeman adding his personal flag to the set: Black. Musically, Leeman is still delivering his catchy EDM while evolving his sound to add a mystical layer to it.
The use of airy female vocals sprinkled on many tracks are almost new-age like (think Evermind-era Amethystium) and bring a whole new dimension to the music. There’s something hypnotic to it that makes you want to close your eyes and get drawn to the music.
As you get through the record, bass-driven darker vibes take over on song White and culminates with Black, a track that uses industrial siren sound and distorted vocals. How did we get here again?!?
Like the wind passing over the surface of the prayer flags, let the music of Leeman flow through your ears in order to purify and sanctify your mind!
Available on digital platforms and on vinyl here!
Must. Listen. To.: Red, Black, Green.
Mélisande [électrotrad] | Les Myriades (Electro | Trad)
Purists often hate genre-blending music. As if art should be tightly ring-fenced. We’re certainly no purists here at Jano Lapin, so it was with an open mind that we discovered Mélisande [électrotrad] who blend Québec’s trad classics with electronic music.
The duo traveled their region meeting seniors in various clubs (like the Knights of Columbus) who introduced them to these old trad gems. The duo then adapted the songs and layered electro arrangements. From the first notes of Demain je m’en vas, the mad scientists that are Mélisande and Alexandre ‘Moulin’ de Grosbois-Garand will grab your attention and won’t let you go for the next 30 minutes.
The blend of trad and electro works incredibly well. From the song selection to the violon work on Ti-pétard Allard or the synths on Chanson de mensonges, every ingredient enhance the others. It’s no wonder the band won numerous awards over the last years, including two Independent Music Awards.
So whether you’re looking for an unexpected twist on your dance floor or to spice up your sugar shack, look no further than Mélisande [électrotrad] !
Must. Listen. To.: Amusons-nous jeunesse, Ti-pétard Allard, Chanson de mensonges, Demain je m’en vas, Le pied su’l cant.
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.