I’ve gushed over Le Vent du Nord; now it’s time to show my love to La Volée d’Castors!
I found these guys, like a great deal of my Canadian folk favorites, courtesy of Great Big Sea! They were mentioned in a thread on the OKP along the theme of “if you like Great Big Sea, you’ll also like (fill in the blank)”. I remember thinking at the time that they had a very awesome name, and am now kicking myself soundly that it took me as long as it did to actually properly investigate them.
La Volée is not, sadly, quite as readily available as Le Vent is; all of their albums I quickly found on iTunes, but they’re NOT on Amazon’s MP3 Downloads site, and I’m seeing Amazon.com listing their physical CDs at import prices, which therefore means Expensive. Amazon.ca is somewhat better, with more reasonable prices, but they don’t have all of the albums available. Their own site has purchase links, though, so you might try going directly to La Volée’s discography page and try clicking off from there if you want to buy their albums and you’re not an iTunes customer. Alternately, try Archambault.ca, who appears to have all of their albums in stock. Be warned though that if you’re ordering from outside Quebec, mind your shipping charges!
Now let’s talk the actual music. What I like about La Volée is that of all the Quebec bands I’ve been listening to, their live performance comes closest to the rip-roaring vigor of a Great Big Sea concert. Their podorythmie guy, Frédéric Bourgeois, is excellent both with the footwork and the vocals, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve seen him drop me a couple of Likes on Facebook posts! M. Bourgeois can belt him out a song, and that he can do this while doing the footwork impresses me greatly. In the studio, they favor a lot of percussion and often have a bit of a Spanish flavor to their tracks as well, which is kind of cool. On their last studio album in particular, they’re rocking a horn section and get almost orchestral in places, which gives them a way to stand out against the other Quebec trad in my collection–even with the kings of the horns, La Bottine Souriante, to compete against!
Which album should you get? For my money, that’s easy: hands down, for the love of all that’s holy, GET THE LIVE ALBUM! It’s called Y’a du monde à messe, and it has the distinction of being the first non-Great Big Sea album since stuff by Carbon Leaf to break into the Top 40 Most Played playlist in my iTunes collection! The energy on this album does not stop from their opening “Fortierville” set to the big closing singalong.
Of the other albums, the only one I haven’t listened to yet is Temps des fêtes, and the only reason I haven’t picked that up yet is because it’s a Christmas album and I’m less inclined to listen to those. But I do have the rest of LVC’s studio work, and I do like all of it. It takes an album or two for their sound to really come together, but as of the third album, VDC, you can tell the mix is there. However, if I were to recommend a studio album, I would have to go no question with their most recent one, Le retour. This is the one with the rocking horn section, and the periodic almost orchestral tracks; it is therefore most musically interesting to me.
Here are my favorite LVC tracks:
- “Revenez donc toutes”, originally on VDC but shown to best advantage on the live album. This is one of the first Quebecois songs I started trying to learn the lyrics to and I’m still not quite sure what it’s about, past it involving a mill and the obligatory pretty girls. There’s a long reel at the end, and this is where some of their almost Spanish flavor comes in–especially on the live album, where they’re yelling out “Senorita” and such. Fun!
- “Belle, embarquez!”, originally on Par monts et par vaux, but again, best on the live album! I actually more or less translated my way through this one, and giggle over what it’s about: a guy trying to invite a pretty girl onto his boat, only she foists him off by claiming to be the daughter of the town executioner. And when he goes OH SHIT and shoos her off the boat, she goes HA HA and says she’s actually the daughter of the richest guy in town. Ha! Very fun performance, live.
- “Les coucous”, originally on Migration, but yet again, best on the live album. This is the song I turn to when I want serious, and I mean, SERIOUS stomping action. It always makes me want to jump up and boing around and belt out JE FAIS LARUDONDAINE! at the top of my lungs. :D
- “Le p’tit moine”, on the new album, Le retour. This is notable for the extended turlutte during most of the latter part of the song, where the mouth reel by the band is echoed by the instruments for one great big blast of awesome.
- “En héritage”, from Le retour. This is the track I most have in mind when I talk about the horns and orchestral sound on this album. It starts off sounding very much like dramatic movie music and I keep wondering what the Quebecois protagonist in my head is about to do when I hear this song start off. (I think he might be a spy!)
I have a selection of other LVC tracks I repeatedly visit off the previous albums, but these ones are the biggest!
Here’s LVC doing Revenez donc toutes live! And if you happen to be on Facebook, find their Facebook page; they’ve been posting recent vids there too.
Last but not least it is very worth noting that M. Rejean Brunet, now of Le Vent du Nord, actually used to be in La Volée! So he’s spread his awesome across two different bands, and helped make it very easy for me to love them both. :D