Album review: Ce monde ici-bas, by De Temps Antan

So as I’ve been gushing all over the place, this is the week that De Temps Antan release their brand new album, Ce monde ici-bas! And if you’ve read my post from earlier today, it should surprise you not in the slightest that yep, I very much like this album and I endorse its immediate purchase for anybody with any interest whatsoever in Quebecois traditional music.

Ce monde ici-bas
Ce monde ici-bas

This is DTA’s third album, and as often seems to be the case when a band reaches album #3, there’s a more mature, polished sound here. I can’t confirm this for sure yet because I haven’t seen credits for the disc, but on my first pass through I heard what sounded like several guest musicians. This stood out most clearly on the vocals–especially on track three, more on this–but I’m pretty sure I also heard some bass guitar and some extra fiddle in there as well. This took me to a musical place I’ve been to before when listening to La Bottine Souriante’s album J’ai jamais tant ri, the one where the DTA boys were all in La Bottine at the same time and so the album comes out sounding like DTA + a horn section. There’s no horn on this new album, but still, the overall size of the sound was close. This is not a bad thing in the slightest, but it was a bit startling when I’m used to hearing DTA all by themselves.
Track by track reactions behind the fold!
Continue reading “Album review: Ce monde ici-bas, by De Temps Antan”

Quebec band recommendations, round 2: De Temps Antan!

This being the last of my second round of recommendation posts for my top seven favorite Quebec trad bands. I’ve been specifically sitting on this one until now–because, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, this one is for De Temps Antan, who are dropping a brand new album this very week!
Y’all know already of course that I’m a devoted Le Vent du Nord fangirl. But De Temps Antan’s boys are fighting it out hard with Genticorum’s for the coveted position of Anna’s Second Favorite Quebec band, in no small part because DTA features the double powerhouse punch of André Brunet on the fiddle (because of the small number of tunes I know how to play, two of them are his, I’m just sayin’) and Éric Beaudry (for many and varied reasons, all of which basically add up to because he’s Éric goddamn Beaudry, and Beaudry is French for awesome). Like Genticorum, DTA is a trio that does a hell of a job pretending to be a band much larger than they actually are. I can point at several reasons for this: Éric’s powerful bouzouki and guitar (especially the bouzouki; you haven’t heard a bouzouki being rocked out upon until you hear Éric playing his), how something about the combo of fiddle and accordion often tricks my ear into thinking there’s an extra fiddle in there just because of how the harmonies work, or how getting three guys going at once on podorythmie gives you an instant percussion section.
But big energetic vocals help, too. Pierre-Luc Dupuis has a rich, wry baritone that often makes him sound like he’s on the verge of breaking into laughter, while André brings in the high, clear end of the range and Éric has a way of sneaking up on you with smokier, subtler backup. If these boys’ voices were alcohol, I’d be putting Pierre-Luc down as a full-bodied port, André as crisp, sweet cider, and Éric as the smokiest of Scotch. And at the end of any DTA album, this pretty much means I’m well and thoroughly soused on harmony.
As of this week DTA has three albums to pick from, and I’ve got a review post on the way for the new one, Ce monde ici-bas. (Spoiler alert: I like it and you should buy it! Look out in particular for “Adieu donc cher cœur”!) If you were to pick up a single album of theirs to check ’em out, I’d definitely recommend getting that one.
But the two previous ones, À l’année and Les habits de papier, both have a great deal to recommend them. Here’s a handful of my favorite tracks from those albums:
On À l’année:

  • “Chère Léonore”, a delicious, dark-timbred slower song on which Éric sings lead, because this band’s motto appears to be “Let’s give Éric all the moody slower songs”. I approve of this as a general strategy.
  • “Buvons, Mes Chers Amis Buvons”, a drinking song that does fun things with interspersing vocals with instrumental bits. This is also one of the few things I’ve heard Éric sing lead on where he actually sounds cheerful.

And from Les habits de papier:

  • “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, the song that completely sold me on these guys. I’ve posted about this one before–starting off with layering in all three voices on a kickass turlutte, bringing in the feet, and finally kicking in to a fiery instrumental treatment of the same melody line for the second half of the song. Plus, finger work on the bouzouki, which ALWAYS makes me swoon. I mean, seriously, look at these guys go!

  • “Pétipétan” is serious bouncy fun, and a challenge to sing along with, at least for this Anglophone fangirl. Don’t quote me on this but I suspect it’s a challenge to sing along with for the Francophone fans, too. And, having seen the boys do this one live now, I have it directly from Pierre-Luc himself that the title translates to, in English, “Petipetan”. ;)
  • “La Fée des Dents” is a gorgeous, lovely waltz. That I can actually PLAY! We do this one pretty regularly in our session group, and I have great fun trying to make up harmony parts to the latter end of this track. The title translates to “Tooth Fairy”, and I’m given to understand that André wrote this one for his kid. (heart)
  • “Grand Amuseur de Filles” is a cappella, again with Éric on the lead vocals, and this one packs a punch. It’s extra fun to see them do it live, too, when André and Éric jump out of their chairs and start having a stepdancing stomp-off!

For my fellow Stateside listeners, DTA’s stuff is available for digital purchase on iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 stores both (though in the latter case, they don’t have the new album yet as of this writing, so you might need to keep checking back). But if you want to go with physical CDs, you should go straight to the the band’s own online store page and buy from them. That way they’ll get the most money. And do give them your moneys. Because goddamn, these boys can play!
Find ’em on Facebook or Twitter, and as always, tell ’em Anna the Piper sent you!

A guide to Quebec trad for English speakers

Internets, as you all know, I’ve been happily fangirling Quebec traditional music for a couple of years now, and quite a few of you have started to ask me questions about it. And because I like you, Internets, and I want to share with you the musical goodness, I’d like to present for you a Guide to Quebecois Traditional Music for English Speakers!
Q: What is Quebecois traditional music?
A: A very close cousin of Irish/Celtic trad. If you’re a fan of Irish or Scottish music, you’ll probably find Quebec trad very compatible to your tastes; there’s a lot of overlap between the two genres.
Q: What makes Quebec trad differ from Irish/Celtic/Scottish/etc.?
A: Three main differences, which are:

  1. Podorythmie. With most Celtic bands the percussion will usually be handled by a bodhran player, who may double up on shakers or bones. There may or may not be an actual drumkit depending on how far into rock the band in question slants. With a Quebec trad band, though, the percussion is almost always handled by someone who does podorythmie, the rhythmic footwork that’s a big signature sound for the genre.

  2. Call and response. Quebec trad is very heavily structured around call and response, where you’ll have whoever’s singing lead echoed by the rest of the band. Relatedly, you’ll find a great number of Quebec trad songs structured in such a way that the first line of a verse will be called, then responded, and then the verse will finish up with a chorus and then a second line which will then roll over into being the first line of the next verse. (This is a very helpful song structure when you’re a newbie to French and you’re trying to figure out how to sing the words!)
    Now, sure, call and response isn’t unknown in Celtic trad in general–but I’ve seen it be a LOT more common in Quebec trad. It makes the songs highly participatory and that’s one of the big reasons I love singing along to the songs so much.

  3. Turluttes. You’ll find a lot of Quebec trad songs will have a turlutte section, sometimes small, sometimes dominant, and sometimes as the entire song. Turluttes are when you get a singer or group of singers vocalizing a melody that in other traditions might be played with instruments. You’ll also hear this referred to as mouth music or mouth reels, similar to puirt à beul or lilting.
    As the Wikipedia link I’ve pointed at in the previous paragraph calls out, turluttes are built out of a set of specific phonemes–a lot of t and d and l and m sounds. They’re almost always up-tempo and joyous and great, great fun.
    A truly splendid example of turluttes in action can be found sung by Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer right over here, with bonus podorythmie solo in the middle.

Q: How is Quebec music similar to Irish/Scottish/Celtic music?
A: Lots of Quebec trad will be familiar to Celtic music fans just because there’s a rich heritage of tunes, jigs/gigues, reels, etc. There are some fun musical and stylistic differences that instrumentalists will notice–particularly how many Quebec tunes are often played “crooked”, doing interesting things to time signatures and varying up the rhythm. If you’re an instrumentalist you’ll want to listen for that.
Likewise, a lot of the topics of the songs will be familiar to Celtic music fans. Alexander James Adams has been often quoted (in particular by me!) as saying that the three main categories of Celtic music are Whiskey, Sex, and Death. This is also true of Quebec music, although from what I’ve seen in Quebec music, it’s more like Wine, Sex, and Death, with a side helping of Religion. (I’ve noticed quite a few songs involving shenanigans that involve priests, for example. ;) )
Q: Do I need to be able to speak French to appreciate Quebec trad?
A: No! Certainly no more than you need to be a Irish or Scots Gaelic speaker to appreciate Celtic music, anyway. I find that studying a little bit of French enough to let me get an idea of how Quebec trad lyrics go enhances my appreciation of the songs considerably, but you don’t have to go to the lengths I’m going. A lot of the most active bands in the genre post lyrics to their websites, often in both French and English, and even if they only post the French lyrics that’s enough for you to throw the words through a translation engine.
And there’s fun stuff to be found in the lyrics, too. Plus if you do that, you get to be one of the Anglophones in a Quebec trad concert who can start snickering at all the best bawdy bits of songs!
Also, turluttes are language-agnostic!
Q: Enough overview! Who are some bands or artists I can check out?
The ones I’m most fond of are La Bottine Souriante, La Volée d’Castors, Galant, tu perds ton temps, Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, Genticorum, De Temps Antan, and especially Le Vent du Nord!
And if you have trouble telling all those names apart, I can direct to you to this handy flowchart I made for that exact problem!

Quebec Band Flowchart
Quebec Band Flowchart

For a nice crossover of Celtic and Quebec fiddle styles, I also highly recommend Celtic Fiddle Festival, who feature André Brunet of De Temps Antan. There are also a couple of excellent albums done by André Marchand and Grey Larsen, specifically on the theme of crossover between Irish and Quebec music, and I recommend those too. You can find them here.
I will update this FAQ with new data as I think of it. I did overviews on my favorite bands a while back but I’ll be posting new ones as well, since several of the bands in question dropped new albums since I originally wrote those posts.
Any questions I haven’t covered here? Shoot ’em at me!

Two more fun pics of me and De Temps Antan

Dara put up a few posts of her own detailing her POV of our adventures in Harrison Hot Springs, including a loverly picspam of various things we looked at. Including a couple of shots off of her camera of me and the boys of De Temps Antan!

I particularly like this one, of my reaction when I got called out for being a double agent for Le Vent du Nord, since I was wearing their T-shirt:

Quebec Boys are Amused When I Explode from LOL

Go click over to Dara’s post to see the other one, of me and Éric Beaudry, current holder of the title of Anna’s Favorite Bouzouki Player from Quebec!

And now, to solve an ongoing problem

My belovedest of Daras is at a bit of a loss when it comes to comprehending my rampageous affection for Quebecois traditional music. She doesn’t speak a lick of French, and so I could mention any one of the various bands I’m following, only to have their names just parse to her as “French sounds”. And it didn’t help matters much either when we went up to Harrison Hot Springs this past weekend–because two of the guys in De Temps Antan ARE brothers of guys in Le Vent du Nord, and the sets of brothers in question do look rather alike!
Several of you who read me on a regular basis won’t be having these problem, but in case you’re in the same boat Dara is and find yourself trying to figure out who all these people are I keep enthusiastically babbling about, here. I present for you this handy flowchart for how to tell apart my seven favorite Quebecois traditional bands!

Quebec Band Flowchart
Quebec Band Flowchart

Never let it be said that I am not helpful!

Harrison Hot Springs BC July 2013 trip, Day 3: De Temps Antan, Round 2

In which our heroine and supervillain hike around the lake, in which the mammoth makes a break for it (but is thankfully recovered!), in which the festival suffers an accident (which we do not see), and in which perfectly ridiculous amounts of fun are had seeing De Temps Antan–and then getting pics with them afterwards! With Jean-Claude!
Continue reading “Harrison Hot Springs BC July 2013 trip, Day 3: De Temps Antan, Round 2”

Harrison Hot Springs BC July 2013 trip, Day 1: Getting here

In which our heroine and her belovedest supervillain take a leisurely scenic drive to visit our fair neighbors to the north, in which they arrive at the charming B&B which will serve as their Lair for the weekend, in which Jean-Claude Mamut does indeed issue hir blessing upon the proceedings, and in which they encounter Quebecois musicians and try not to fangirl all over them. Much.

Continue reading “Harrison Hot Springs BC July 2013 trip, Day 1: Getting here”

I've been awfully srs bznz around here lately so have some De Temps Antan

I just need to make it through the Monster Release my team is doing overnight between Monday and Tuesday–and then on Friday I’ll be heading up to Canada to see these guys being awesome!
Because bouzouki slides! And fiddling! And podorythmie in stereo! And harmonica and accordion and mouth harp and goddamn, the voice on Pierre-Luc Dupuis. <3
And I’m tellin’ ya, people, the Monster Release is kicking my ass (lots of overtime put in this past week), so believe me when I say I will be very, very much looking forward to a long weekend of Quebecois trad goodness! Stand by for a full report on same when Dara and I get to Harrison Hot Springs. Complete with Jean-Claude Mamut, the Genderqueer Mammoth!

Quebecois tunes roundup post!

I’ve been chatting a lot with Dreamwidth user fluterbev lately, and we’ve started swapping pointers to each other’s favorite tunes! I promised her I’d do a post with some pointers to various Quebec tunes I’ve been working on learning lately, not only for her but for anybody else out there who might be interested in learning these tunes too!
I more or less can play seven tunes at this point and six of those are available in sheet music form on the Net, so I commend to your attention the following:

  • Ciel d’Automne, by André Brunet! This is arguably the first Quebec tune I ever fell in love with, and it’s extremely friendly to the flute. It’s available on the La Bottine Souriante album Xième, which was released as Rock and Reel in the States. First Quebec album I ever bought and I highly recommend it, in no small part because of that very instrumental. (Fair warning if you get hold of the recording and try to play along–it DOES change keys, from D up to E, which is a bitch to follow if you’re playing on a keyless flute. Or um, so I’ve heard. *^_^*;;)
  • La Fée des Dents, another of André Brunet’s, over which I totally swoon. <3 Recorded by De Temps Antan on their album Les habits de papier.
  • Maison de Glace, because apparently I’m learning All The Tunes By Guys Named Brunet. This one is by André’s brother Réjean, who is of course the accordion player and bassist for Le Vent du Nord!
  • 6/8 d’André Alain, taught to me by Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand of Genticorum! Loverly little jig in D.
  • Gigue du Père Mathias, the other tune Alexandre taught me! Again, in D, and so far the only thing I’ve been kinda halfway able to do a little podorythmie to while I’m playing on the flute. SLOWLY.
  • Valse de Poeles, which is yet another tune with a tie to Genticorum! Recorded by them on their last studio album, Nagez Rameurs.

Enjoy! :D