Did anything happen last month?!? After being hit by the COVID-19 truck, we’re all slowing getting back up, finding a new routine in these strange times. There’s always a way to find some good in the bad and for some of us, it means more introspective time, more time to discover new music. There’s also that desire to buy local, to invest in your community. The same can be done with music…what better time to discover some local artists that you’ll be eager to see live when we’re finally released back in the wild?? To help you in this discovery trip, here’s our top 5 February releases that You Must Listen to!
Cheshire Carr – Dawn Comes Crashing (Indie Folk)
After the release of a French EP, Cheshire Carr are back with their second full-length album, Dawn Comes Crashing. For those not familiar with the band, Cheshire Carr offers songs mostly rooted in folk. Readers familiar with artists previously included in our monthly top 5, the band stands somewhere between St-Eugene and Bears of Legend on the indie-pop-folk continuum.
The album opens up softly with the beautiful I, Said the Sparrow filled with ethereal vocal harmonies and ending on a nice crescendo which is a trademark of the band. Fallen then follows in a similar mood before main songwriter Ariel Harrod shifts gear completely with Hold Me Down. This song, perhaps the strongest of the album, is the perfect blueprint of a timeless folk song. All the ingredients are there, a subtle lap steel guitar, simple yet catchy melody and relatable lyrics about the fear of dying when you reach the end of the road. By the time Geneviève Cooke‘s vocals kicks in, you’ll definitely crack up and let some tears flow. Flawless.
Another highlight is Thank You and Goodnight. The song, with its epic feel, is no doubt going to become a live staple for the band and ideal choice to end the set on a high note, despite the lyrics taking an unexpected dark turn as the song unfolds.
Discover Dawn Comes Crashing on streaming platforms. A vinyl is also available from the band’s Bandcamp!
Must. Listen. To.: Hold Me Down, Thank You and Goodnight, I, Said the Sparrow, A Way Away, Fallen.
Ariane Zita – Beige (E-pop)
Motherhood (and parenthood in general) is an emotional roller coaster. It will take your life, turn it upside down and make you feel emotions you never knew existed. It therefore comes with no surprise that it is a fertile ground for artists and that it will taint their next creative output. It’s within that context that Ariane Zita gave birth (cheap pun intended) to her new album Beige, an album that deals with motherhood, depression and relationships.
On Beige, the multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter trades her pop-rock-folk sound of previous album for electro-pop. This new approach suits her perfectly and much like an Ariane Moffatt on 22h22 (motherhood, again) delivers an e-pop gem that will stand the test of time. Zita’s record is varied with unashamedly catchy anthems like Comme une tempête or soft airy tracks like Mine de Rien. Songs written about her little boy Tes yeux sont un mystère que je ne comprends pas and Beige are sure to move you.
Zita also goes bold and covers Boule Noire’s Aimer d’amour. She successfully goes away from the original sound and makes it current, while managing to keep the original groove that made that song such a hit. No small feat!
There’s no weak songs on this album. It feels like there’s a magnetic force within it that draws you and keeps you close. A shot of endorphin in the fading light. This record is anything but beige.
Available on streaming platforms and for purchase on Bandcamp here!
Must. Listen. To.: Comme une tempête, Mine de Rien, Beige, Nouvelle Vie, Aimer d’amour.
Anachnid – Dreamweaver (Trip hop)
Anachnid is a multidisciplinary Oji-Cree and Mikmaq artist based in Montreal. Her stage name is an amalgam from her birth name Anna-Khesic Kway Harper and her totem animal, the spider. Much like her name, her music incorporates a variety of styles including electro, hip-hop, soul, etc. She was named SOCAN’s 2019 indigenous songwriter of the year. She releases her debut album, Dreamweaver.
In Native American mythology, a dreamweaver refers to an individual who is capable of guiding or directing the progress of their dreams. Fitting title for the artist who often dreams about her songs. The album is dream-like as well for the listener. Phoenix sets the mood right away, discreet synths in the background as you cross that metaphorical black curtain into the land of dreams. The atmosphere shifts from one song to the next but always remains downtempo. Songs like Anachnid and Windigo include organic sounds, native instruments and chants, which are mixed with modern beats to create something unique. The artistic approach probably reach its climax on America, a song that begin with a soft pounding drum, whispered vocals and heavy breathing from Anachnid. The guitar and flute then sets a western scenery. The song shifts midway fading to a short but sublime rap from Oji le Cree. Wow!
As strong of a debut album as one can hope for. Let yourself guided through this dream world on digital platforms and bandcamp here!
Must. Listen. To.: America, Anachnid, Phoenix, Windigo, Sky Woman.
Gautier sans h – Animal Social (hip-hop | pop)
Gautier sans h is Gautier Piton, originally from France, but Montreal-based since 2016, a songwriter, beatmaker, producer, name it, he does it all. Animal Social is his first LP and quite an introduction. Gautier sans h obviously has a tremendous talent for making catchy beats and melodies.
The album starts big with Mes Contours, the first single from the album (see the video below). On this track, there’s everything that makes this record a must-listen. Great lyrics about the cult of beauty, catchy chorus melody and infectious groove. He kicks it up a notch with the more upbeat Où est Steve?, my personal favorite on the album, with an addictive swirling synth melody line.
It’s hard to put a tag on his music, even the press release describes it as being equidistant between rap, e-pop and French lyrics-focused musical styles. This is not far fetched. Gautier sans H is definitely channeling his home country’s peers in Après la pluie, reminiscent of Jacques Brel or Jean Ferrat. Entre nos cernes (featuring Gloow) also deserves the spotlight, enhanced by Alix Croset‘s violin, Gautier’s mellow vocals bringing this song to another level!
Another amazing discovery to start 2020. Get Animal Social on digital platforms or purchase it on bandcamp here.
Must. listen. To.: Où est Steve?, Mes Contours, Entre nos cernes, Après la pluie, Posthume.
Mononc’ Serge – Réchauffé II (Folk Rock)
A couple of months after the release Réchauffé (a compilation of re-recorded songs in an hard rock/metal style), Mononc’ Serge is back with Réchauffé II. Similar concept but turned upside down. This time it’s Mononc’ alone on the guitar and bass playing softened versions of his harder tracks.
We loved Réchauffé back then and are still under the charm with the second chapter. The toned down arrangements work particularly well on Chanteur engagé, where they add another layer of wittiness to the song given this is a musical style often associated with protest songs/artists. It also puts the emphasis on the humor of songs like Fade-out.
Being so heavy in its original form, it’s almost shocking to hear Woodstock en Beauce in this context, although the “j’ai capoté!!” line in the song is almost hear pleasing now! Only one new track this time around. A quick intro to the album which self depreciate the initiative of covering his own songs a second time! See the video below.
Available on streaming platforms and on vinyl here!
Must. Listen. To.: Chanteur Engagé, Fade Out, Woodstock en Beauce, Mon droit à l’incohérence, Le Parc La Vérendrye.
A playlist with the songs from this month’s top 5 is available on Spotify!
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.