In which our heroine and her supervillain spend their first full day in Harrison on beach exploration, music played and music watched, and lake wading! And in which De Temps Antan rocks the afternoon with sunglasses and a bouzouki that can goddamn roar!
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.
Continuing my quest this year to get to see as many Quebecois bands perform as possible, this week I finally had the pleasure of seeing De Temps Antan perform for the first time! I’ve gushed about these boys in blog and journal posts before, of course–but as always, getting to see a group in live performance is another order of magnitude above experiencing their recorded music, or online videos, or what have you.
I was particularly grateful for this chance to see them since the show was, as far as I know, kind of wedged in at the last minute. They’d been scheduled to do a mid-day performance in Kent, which I was sadly unable to make due to it being right smack in the middle of my workday. But booking fortune was kind and produced a one-set show at the Royal Room, a place I’d never been to, on Rainier Ave South. Dara and I had a bit of an adventure getting down there as miscommunication on my part of the proper address–and Google not being terribly helpful with the directions–caused us to overshoot and go to East Rainier Avenue South, instead.
Pro-tip for those of you who aren’t local: NOT THE SAME STREET.
But! All was well after all because we scooted in just under the wire. When we arrived, the boys of the band were still sound-checking, so we wound up not missing anything at all!
De Temps Antan only have two albums at this point, so it wasn’t terribly surprising that their single set was slanted in favor of stuff that appears on their second album, Les Habits de Papiers. A good many of the songs they performed were tune sets as well, showcasing André Brunet on the fiddle as well as Éric Beaudry’s prowess on guitar and bouzouki, with Pierre-Luc Dupuis chiming in on accordion or harmonica. Notable among the instrumentals was M. Brunet’s breaking out of a new waltz, which was lovely. I do fangirl me some Olivier Demers-brand violin, to be sure, but M. Brunet? Also a very respectable fiddler. Since De Temps are a trio and comparatively sparse on the instrumentation, it falls to each member of the group to pull as much vigor as possible out of his instrument. The result is a crackling energy that makes it very, very easy to forget that they do not, in fact, have more than three guys on the stage!
When it comes to instrumental prowess, though, with these boys I have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry, and I’m not saying that just because I love me some bouzouki. Now that I’ve seen him do it live, I have all the more respect for what this man can do with a guitar and a zouk. I was particularly struck by his finger work on the guitar, swift, adroit runs that called his guitar’s deep ringing voice out and made it sing. And as for his bouzouki, wow. I’ve swooned before for what he whips out on the zouk in this video. Seeing him doing it live, and hearing that zouk roar in a way I have to date only heard out of my belovedest Dara and her Kohaku (heart), was amazing. Especially given his flying podorythmic feet, which he unleashes along with his hands on the instruments AND his singing. (I have just enough experience trying to sing and play at the same time on a zouk or a guitar, without even trying to throw my feet into the mix, that I admire the hell out of anybody who can pull that off!)
Vocally, all three members of the group are also very strong. M. Dupuis is the dominant vocalist, with a rich, expressive voice that he uses to great effect. I’ve read up some on his stint in La Bottine Souriante, and have seen some references to him having taken over briefly as La Bottine’s lead singer because of his style being a bit of a callback to the redoubtable Yves Lambert. I can buy that. M. Dupuis’s voice hits me in the same way M. Lambert’s always did, full and round. Maybe not as powerful, but that’s okay! I’ve always liked to say that M. Lambert’s voice hit me like 900-calorie cheesecake. M. Dupuis is maybe more like 600 calorie cheesecake. But the long and short of it is, cheesecake is still tasty, and Pierre-Luc can tear his way through a song.
M. Brunet is also a fine singer, though he doesn’t take over lead vocals as much as the other two. He mostly got to shine vocally on “Dominic à Marcel”, a ditty with something of a Southern twang to it–by which I mean, US Southern. The boys in fact referenced Mississippi, introducing this one! It’s a style that works when you throw it together with Quebecois music, to be sure.
Here, though, I also have to throw my affections over to M. Beaudry. He’s not as forthrightly expressive in his vocals as his bandmate, but he’s still got some strength and resonance to his voice, and I love, love, LOVE hearing him whip out “Grand Amuseur de Filles” or “Jeune et Jolie”.
I noted with pleasure that the boys presented us with not one but two new songs, including one M. Dupuis noted would be included on their next album (and yes, mes amis d’Internets, I perked up considerably at the magic words “next album”). One of these was the aforementioned waltz, but the other one was this, captured by Dara on video!
And much to my massive, massive delight, they closed with a one-two-three punch of my three favorite songs of theirs–“Grand Amuseur de Filles”, “La turlutte du Rotoculteur”, and then right into “Pétipétan”. The first delighted me immensely when André and Éric leapt up out of their chairs and had a bit of a standing stomp-off, grinning at each other. The second was great when all of us in the room started singing along on the turluttes. And the last, whee! This being one of the few De Temps songs I can actually do a bit of response on, I happily jumped in on that too!
We did get one encore, which was also great fun. Afterwards, Dara and I had the brief but happy pleasure of chatting a bit with M. Brunet, since we were able to tell him that HEY! We’d just seen him perform with Bernard Simard et Compagnie in Joliette! And with the help of Dejah and Devon Leger, I also chatted very briefly with M. Beaudry, expressing how Dejah was helping me with my French, how I was learning some of the differences between Quebec and Acadian French (h/t to !), and how we’d been trying to transcribe the lyrics to “Grand Amuseur de Filles”. I’m pretty sure my nervous fangirl babbling got a bit ahead of M. Beaudry’s English–he leaned over at me a couple of times with this “quoi?” look on his face, and Devon Leger helpfully translated for me (many thanks to Devon for that)!
It was only yesterday though that I thought to check the new and updated De Temps Antan website, where I discovered that why yes, they had in fact finally gotten around to posting a lyrics sheet for the second album–including the song in question. Which, I suspect, contributed to M. Beaudry being confused at me. *^_^*;;
But! All in all, a great time, even given that I was a bit worn out from dental surgery recovery and a cold, a sub-optimal state to be in when you’re trying to watch a band whose music makes you want to get up and dance. (I settled instead for trying to practice a bit of my own podorythmie between tables). I really hope I get to see these boys perform again, and I very much look forward to their next album!
So, De Temps Antan, right? One of the cluster of fine Quebecois bands I’ve been a-swoon over this entire year, in no small part due to the excellent vocals and bouzouki of M. Éric Beaudry. These boys have a very handy PDF of lyrics posted on their site for their first album. There is not, however, an equivalent PDF for their second, current album, Les habits de papier!
Of the songs on this album, three have muscled their way onto my Francophone Favorites playlist: “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, “Pétipétan”, and “Grand amuseur de filles”. The first has no lyrics as it is a double firebomb of turlutte + bouzouki, fiddle, and harmonica action. <3 I found lyrics for the second, for which I am extremely grateful, given that the chorus is a machine-gun spray of syllables and I had to see them transcribed to begin to try to sing it!
You would know, however, that the one where M. Beaudry sings delicious lead, "Grand amuseur de filles", is the one I can't actually find any lyrics for at all! *^_^*;;
So, I told myself, here's a brilliant idea–let's see if I can listen hard to these lyrics and see if I can identify ANY WORDS IN THEM WHATSOEVER. And since I've gotten involved with other local fans of Quebecois music and we have our little Chanson et langue group going, we're seeing if we can transcribe the lyrics ourselves!
I played with this some today with the help of and , who reported to me that the third verse was basically talking about the singer trying to cheer up his sad, sick friend by hauling him off to a strip club, quote, “as you do”. Erin then informed me, and I quote, “I feel this entire song needs to be punctuated with eyebrow waggles, ‘as you do’, or ‘that’s what he said!'” (Which appears to be a very apt description of most of the songs that have gotten onto my aforementioned Francophone Favorites playlist. I keep getting all of the bounciest, stomping-est songs onto this list and then I find out what they mean and I’m all O RLY? >:D )
And I’m amusing myself mightily with the help of Dejah of the Chanson et langue group, who has way more French than I do, though she’s flailing almost as hard as I am on the latter verses of the song.
Here are a random sampling of phrases I was rather stunned I actually heard correctly, based on comparing with Dejah’s much better transcription of at least the initial verses:
Chanter la chanson de ma jolie maîtresse (sing the song of my pretty mistress)
Deux ou trois amants (two or three lovers) (see previous commentary re: O RLY? >:D )
Allons-y donc, allons aux cabaret! (let’s get to the cabaret!)
And I got several scattered other bits of phrases, like “faut la quitter” and “avec un jeune garçon”, and I haven’t yet confirmed but am pretty sure of having heard “je ne fais que pleurer” and “la fleur de la maisson”. Man, trying to transcribe words in a language you barely know is HARD and FUN and Dejah is right–doing this with music is way more entertaining than out of a textbook!
I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.
For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!
Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.
The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!
In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!
So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.
Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.
Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.
Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.
Here’s something I’ve come to learn in my explorations of current Quebecois trad bands: Éric Beaudry is apparently in half of them, or at least so it seems! And given my rapidly growing respect for Monsieur Beaudry’s musical prowess, this is as far as I’m concerned all to the awesome.
I’ve found references to him being in four bands to date. La Bottine Souriante and De Temps Antan I’ve already found and fallen in love with, but M. Beaudry is also involved with the bands Norouet and Ni Sarpe Ni Branche. Those two groups aren’t as high profile as La Bottine and De Temps Antan, so their music is harder for us in the States to find–but happily, Norouet’s album N2 is on iTunes and CD Baby.
“Norouet”, or so the Googles inform me, is slang for a northwesterly gale. It’s an excellent word, very much capturing the energy of the band while falling delicately upon the ear. This seeming contradiction of a gale and delicacy captures my overall impression of N2 as an album, as well. N2 slants heavily instrumental, with over half the tracks being entirely without vocals. This is not a bad thing, though initially I found it a bit odd that their overall (instrumental, at least) sound reminds me a lot more of Solas or Altan from Celtic/Irish music than other Quebecois bands that boast M. Beaudry among their members. The distinct lack of footwork on several of the tracks throws me off, since I’ve trained my ear to listen for that now! Continue reading “Album review: N2, by Norouet”
I’ve been anticipating the new album by La Bottine Souriante for weeks now, and WOO! It’s finally out! The album’s called Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée, and I yoinked that thing right down from iTunes as soon as I saw it go up.
For my first exposure to the band’s current lineup, it performed splendidly. I had an undeniable initial “buh?” reaction to several of the tracks–because I have of course imprinted on a lot of the earlier La Bottine albums as my example of what they should sound like, and that’s not entirely fair to the newer members. Yes, vintage La Bottine is a POWERHOUSE OF AWESOME, and those are mighty large (smiling, aheh) boots to fill. I’m now quite prepared to state that the newer members are also awesome, but you have to go in with an open mind and open ear. Since there are so many new people in the lineup, the overall flavor and chemistry of the band is not the same, and so it’s necessary to judge the current lineup on their own merits and less on how much they sound like all the people that came before them (though I’m not discounting that, either).
On the whole I do quite like this album. After the first listen, I was a bit dubious. But after two more, I found it growing on me considerably. Granted, I was predisposed to like it anyway just because Éric Beaudry sings many of the songs–but on the other hand, his presence in the vocals was actually also kind of confusing to my ear! I’ve gotten used to hearing him as part of De Temps Antan as well as on his album with his brother Simon, so hearing him in this context is something I’m not quite used to yet.
There are two other gentlemen singing lead on the album as well, for whom I do not yet have names, and both of them did a fine job. The presence of so many backup singers makes for nice round vocals on many of the tracks.
Instrumentally, overall, the horns are sometimes more subdued than I might like–but again, a good chunk of that is coming out of my exposure to vintage La Bottine. When I cut back on that reaction and judge the blend of the horns with the rest of the instruments they’re playing with, I feel much better about them.
And now, track by track reactions! Cette Bouteille-Là – I really like this one, which was the first of the free tracks the band was offering for download just before the album came out. This has an excellent blend of all the instruments and voices, and some jaunty energy to it. This is a great track for showing how the current membership of the band are inheriting from the older members. Mon Père – Ah and here we have Éric Beaudry’s first lead song on the album! This has strong vocals in general, not only M. Beaudry’s, but also all the backup vocals. Some great deep vocals in the background, and all of the voices are set off nicely against the percussion. I particularly groove on M. Beaudry hitting his high notes in the background on the very last few bars of the song. Reel à Roland – This is an instrumental, and starts off sounding fairly standard until the horns start coming in on the second iteration of the A part. Once the horns and piano build up, you start thinking, okay yeah, this is La Bottine Souriante. Le Gourmand – Back to M. Beaudry on the lead vocals, which is always a good thing, though this is one of the songs on the album that kept making me think “wait wait this isn’t a De Temps Antan song”? Mais non, because there are horns here, and a lot more backup vocals! Also, M. Beaudry is rather more expressive on his vocals here than I’ve heard him be with De Temps Antan so far, possibly because he’s doing more lead singing here. Chus Chatouilleux – Good strong punch from the horns to start this one up. I don’t know who’s singing here since I don’t know all of the current lineup of the band yet, but the singing’s good. It’s a bit weird for me though since whoever’s doing this singing has an accent similar to the lead singer over in Mes Aieux, so I’m once again having to remind myself that this is in fact a La Bottine Souriante album. When in doubt, listen for the horns. André Alain en sol majeur – Another instrumental. It sounds like there’s a keyboard in here, which is another thing I’m not used to yet with the current La Bottine lineup. There’s a bridge in the middle with a keyboard solo, which gives this piece an almost jazzy feel. I find myself wishing that the horns were doing more than just backing up the keyboard, though; I really want to hear some trumpet love on the melody line. Au Rang D’aimer – Back to Éric! A more plaintive ditty, this one, but nice full vocals. Intsusadi – This is a good one! I don’t know what’s doing the main percussive line here–a steel drum? It’s a new sound for me in my La Bottine experience, regardless, and it makes this one the most interesting instrumental on the album for me. Reel Calgary – While the previous was perhaps the most interesting instrumental, this one is nonetheless very appealing to me. Nice fiddle and footwork. As with track 3, the horns are pretty subdued–more than I might perhaps like. But on the other hand, they’re coming in at a good balance with the rest of the instruments and the overall somewhat wistful flavor of the piece. On Va Barrer Les Portes – The other La Bottine singer I don’t know yet, but this is the same gent who sings lead on track 1. This song’s primarily vocal call-and-response, with just piano and footwork on the verses, until the horns and fiddle come in on a nice jaunty bridge. That bridge? That’s what I listen to La Bottine Souriante FOR. Pèle-Mèle – One more Éric song! Good big fat bridge from the horns and keyboard. Le Baillard – The album’s final track is one more instrumental, and a good long, strong one as well, layering in all the various instruments and letting them build power at a good pace. By the time you’re three minutes into the track, oh yeah, there’s excellent muscle to the horns here. And about halfway through, an excellent stomping bit! This one reassures me that while I may miss the powerhouse of awesome that was vintage La Bottine, modern La Bottine can bring it too.
Long story short, if you’re into Quebecois music or think you might want to be, yes, you should buy this album. I was delighted to see it go live on iTunes AND on the Amazon MP3 downloads store for purchase, which means it’s readily available to US customers. Their record label also has it available for purchase right over here!
And now, in no particular order, some more points of general geekery regarding my ongoing passion for Quebecois music:
One: this morning, I stomped all over 375 calories on the treadmill while listening to Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer’s live album. They made for excellent workout music, and I feel I should get calorie bonuses for trying to sing along with “Les turluttes”, even if I couldn’t keep up in the middle part where they’re all singing together rather than doing call and response. Hell, I have trouble keeping up with that part when I’m not on the treadmill; the operative phrase there is “breath control”!
Two: I am amusing myself transcribing lyrics out of the liner notes of Le sort des amoureux, the Beaudrys’ album, on the theory that if I have them in a file on my phone, I can read along when I’m listening on my commute, and improve my ability to understand these lyrics as words. However, as I type all these French words into TextEdit on my MacBook, I’m discovering a couple of things. One, TextEdit’s spellcheck is doing amazingly well with French words, and two, I’m actually understanding some of these phrases without having to throw them through Google’s translation engine first! More or less, anyway. I am pretty sure I just figured out that this one verse is a mother telling her children they don’t have a father anymore.
Three: Speaking of lyrics, I’ve been looking through the English translations available for Le Vent songs up on their site, and about died laughing when I realized what “Les métiers” is actually about: a girl with multiple lovers, and why their occupations all suck. Except for the fiddler. Of whom she says, “he shall practice on me / he can play the fiddle, I’ll be making music”.
And here I’d gone and added that song to my Francophone Favorites and Le Vent Favorites playlists on the strength of its sweet and perky-sounding performance alone. I had NO IDEA. Lesson learned: Le Vent are apparently periodically quite a bit more bawdy than they actually sound. WOO! ;>
Four: The Le Vent Symphonique album is growing on me hard. I’m finding the blend of the band’s instruments and the orchestra more awesome each time I listen to various tracks, and while I still want to be in a crowd doing “Cre-mardi”, I’m nonetheless seriously grooving on the energy of the orchestra behind the band in that song in particular. I also happened to observe that a few video snippets of this performance are actually on Le Vent’s site, here, and WHOA AND DAMN I wish there was a DVD of this. I would be buying the HELL out of that.
Also, it is amusing to play Spot the Piccolo in the various tracks as well! Piccolo players, represent!
And last but not least, speaking of my piccolo: I am now also amusing myself trying to transcribe M. Demers’ fiddle solo from “Lanlaire”. I wanted to do this just by way of exercising my ear. Last night, though, I found a very nifty little app for the iThings–a thing called Tempo. You can use it to play with the tempo of a track out of your iTunes library, and slow it down without losing pitch. Which is AWESOME. I kicked “Lanlaire” down to about 70 percent speed, and am now trying to inch my way through the fiddle solo to see if I can better figure out the notes that way.
Some sound quality is lost, but the pitch is still on target, and it’s very odd hearing the song that slow, especially the footwork! But I’ll have great fun trying to see if this app can help me figure out the solo. \0/
Just finished listening to Le sort des amoureux, the album by Éric and Simon Beaudry! This was fun. Lower-key than much of the Quebecois music I have now, but fun nonetheless.
Éric and Simon trade off singing lead vocals on the various tracks, and I’m beginning to see that while they have very similar voices, I can in fact tell which one is singing when, even without consulting the liner notes. I’ve come to know Simon’s voice well of course from the tracks he sings lead on for Le Vent du Nord, even though there are only a few of those, so that’s helpful! I prefer Simon’s voice; it’s got a bit of a darker, richer flavor to it. But that said, Éric sings very well too. (This, I note, is pretty much what I can say about both of their singing voices when I don’t speak French–it means I punt back to thinking about the character of the voices doing the singing, instead of the actual words. Which is actually kind of fun in its own right.)
Note also: the title track, “Le sort des amoureux” (“The fate of love”, according to Google Translate), has the Beaudry boys singing together a capella. NICE. They sound rather haunting together, and while they don’t sing with the force of the lead singers in their other bands (Nicolas Boulerice, I am looking at you, monsieur), they blend very, very well.
Meanwhile, though, I also have to give the album high marks for significant levels of bouzouki! All video evidence I’ve been able to find to date suggests that Éric may actually have more bouzouki awesome in his musical arsenal than Simon does–but this is only because I’m seeing vids of Éric playing bouzouki as a lead instrument, including doing some really nice fingerwork, vs. Simon playing bouzouki as a rhythm instrument. The liner notes on this album, anyway, are crediting the zouk specifically to Éric. And that’s all good. I REALLY like the zouk on these tracks; it stands out very clearly, and gives it a flavor I do not actually get from most other albums I’ve got, Quebecois or otherwise!
There are several guest musicians here too, so it’s not just the Beaudrys. In particular, I’m noticing the name of André Marchand showing up heavily in the credits of the liner notes–who I now know as one of the members of Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, and a former member of La Bottine Souriante, as I posted about before! (He apparently produced this album for the Beaudrys, and if this is an example of his production prowess, I can only say ‘well done, monsieur!’) The second to last track is all instrumental, and has seven people total playing on it, so the energy kicks up closer to what I hear from oh, say, Le Vent du Nord. High bouzouki there too. :D
The last track in particular is also noteworthy. It’s also a capella, and is in fact sung by an 81-year-old (at the time of recording) lady named Clémence Gagné. If I understand the translation I’m getting off the liner notes correctly, she apparently taught the Beaudrys this song, and they invited her to sing it on the album. Éric sings along with her. Aw. <3
Last but not least: the album artwork's really kind of adorable! It's got this whole Chutes-and-Ladders-like motif on the front of it, only instead of chutes, there are a couple of snakes! And there are some cute little sketches of a guy and his sweetheart, including one charming little one of him holding out a bouquet of flowers to her. I'm glad to have a physical copy of this CD for the artwork alone–but also because lyrics are provided on the liner notes, which is extremely helpful given my lack of French, as it means I can try to translate them.
So yeah. Generally recommended for anybody who likes trad in the general category of "laid back and groovy, with a bit of blues and country twang to it", as well as anyone who likes the sound of French lyrics! If you're in the US and you want the album, CD Baby is your friend. This particular album’s CD-only, but the CD Baby page does have listenable samples, so check it out!
And the Beaudrys’ site for the album lives right over here. You can see the aforementioned adorable artwork on the landing page! (Note that while they have a button for French and a button for English, only the French one actually works. But you can always load the site up in Chrome and have it translate for you on the fly!) ETA: Spelling of album title corrected! Oops! ETA #2: says the title is correctly translated to The Fate of Lovers, which makes better sense, and goes very well with the aforementioned adorable artwork! Thanks, !