Category Archives: Canada

Esthero

I first discovered Esthero some time ago now, and her first album Breath From Another is a favourite of mine and one of those I always keep in my car. But just recently I finally got around to getting her second album, Wikked Lil’ Grrrls. She has only had these two albums thus far – the first being released in 1998 and the latter in 2005, but she is working on a third which should be released soon (if it hasn’t all ready; I haven’t seen it yet).

Despite having only two albums in the past decade, Esthero has had many collaborations with other artists, including DJ Krush, Black Eyed Peas, Left Eye, Timbaland, Kanye West, and Nelly Furtado to name a few. I really really love her first album. In an interview Esthero stated that she was not too fond of the album, but it has definitely become a trip-hop classic (and you know how much I loooove trip-hop!). I can’t even say which songs I like best because I like them all so much! I love her voice on this album and the trip-hop vibe is just incredibly chill. The songs are all so incredibly well done.

Having now listened to her second album I did not enjoy it nearly as much, although it was still really good. I will definitely have to give it another listen in the near future. It definitely had some great tracks but there is nothing like my love affair with Breath of Another. Check out her website for more info about her music and newest projects: Esthero

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Jagged Little Pill

There are certain albums that have a profound effect on one’s life, and for me Jagged Little Pill is one. Alanis’ American debut is in my Top 5 Albums list (a list with no particular order, soon to be told in full), and continues to be a staple of any social listening among my friends and I. Whenever I talk about Jagged Little Pill, the only word I can use to describe it is “perfect”. The music, the lyrics, and expression are all divine. From the very beginning the album is fueled by an intense resentment and frustration, which is very relatable to many. You Oughta Know is revered among my peers and the great expression of angst and the video a huge piece of nostalgia. Hand In My Pocket sings my life story – but then doesn’t it tell everybody’s? Jagged Little Pill is intensely personal and lyric writing by Alanis is just incredible. “I’m sad but I’m laughing/ I’m brave but I’m chicken shit.” – Hand in My Pocket really sings the dualities of life. “It’s like meeting the man of my dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife”: Ironic – though often criticized for being a series of more unfortunate events than truly ironic (ironically enough) – is another favourite of anyone I have ever listened to the album with. Another thing I find incredible about Jagged Little Pill and Alanis in general is the phrasing of her lyrics. Nobody else could stretch out syllables to the contours or rhythms Alanis is able to without sounding ridiculous or unnatural, but somehow Alanis has a truly unique phrasing when it comes to the delivery of her lyrical content. I really believe that this is an album that should be committed to memory by all.

A little about Jagged Little Pill: the album is Alanis’ third album, although it is the first to be released internationally. It also scored Alanis 6 singles: You Oughta Know, Ironic, You Learn, Hand in My Pocket, Head Over Feet, and All I Really Want; and the album spent 12 non-consecutive weeks at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts. It was ranked one of the top selling albums of the 90s, and has now been certified Diamond. In October 2002, Rolling Stone ranked it number 31 on its Women In Rock – The 50 Essential Albums list, and in 2003 the magazine ranked it number 327 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album also holds a title in The Definitive 200 Albums list, in which it is placed at number 26. It held 1st position on the Australian, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish, New Zealand, and UK albums charts.

Just for fun: What is Alanis’ other hand doing?: Sporcle!


Alfa Rococo

Montréal how I love you!!! A long weekend in Montréal this last week has brought light to a new wonderful duo – Alfa Rococo! As is my custom, I was browsing and listening to new Francophone albums in Ste. Catherine’s HMV when I stumbled upon their newest album: Chasser le malheur. They have a fun electro-indie-pop sound that I was immediately in love with! The opening track, Phénix, opens with a catchy synth riff and what follows is an album full of catchy electronic riffs. Soldat de plomb is probably my favourite track from the album; as my friend Monique remarked on her first listening, “there is something serious going on here, don’t mess with this stank bitch!”. Actually this track reminds me a bit of Ethero and many of the tracks on her Breath from Another. The following track, Le poinçonneur des lilas has a great James Bond-sounding intro and is another favourite! Their vocals are soft and hypnotic, and it’s an interesting combination with the electro-sound. Every track has a sense of high energy, and yet the entire album is very mellow. The entire album is just fabulous! It is most definitely one of my favourite finds from Montréal to date!

The duo – Justine Laberge and David Bussières – formed in 2004 when they recorded a song just for the fun of it. They loved working together so much that soon more were to follow. In 2007 they released their debut album: Lever l’ancre (which I have not yet got a hold of!) Both Justine and David have had busy musical careers prior to their duo, David playing in the European tour of Cirque du Soleil. Lever l’ancre scored 5 top-100 tracks on the radio charts with four of said tracks having top videos on MusiquePlus and Musimax (I love watching the countdowns when I’m in Montréal!) They two also performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. You can check out more about them and their albums on their site: Alfa Rococo

Chasser le malheur was released on November 10, 2010, and so far it looks like the title-track has been turned into a video-clip:


Bonjour Brumaire


 

*Youri Zaragoza – lead-vocals, guitars *Nathan Howard – guitars, vocals *François Lessard – drums, percussion *Jordan Larocque – bass, vocals * Béatrice Martin – keyboards, vocals

One of my favourite CDs I own I found on one of many trips to my favourite city: Montréal. I travel up there several times a year (and will hopefully soon reside there) and it is a tradition for me that  any place I travel I search out and buy popular music. Montréal has an active and diverse music scene, and I have gotten many albums and artists there over the years. It was my second trip up, I believe, I stumbled upon Bonjour Brumaire and their debut album De la Nature des Foules. It is now a CD that is never out of my car.

The music on this album is just incredible. While my French is limited, I find the flow of the vocals to be catchy and well crafted – I just imagine it being brilliant. I find many of the endings to the album’s tracks well composed, as instead of fading out or abruptly ending many have a sort of interlude quality where new music is presented or at least taken in a direction you would not expect (i.e. the fadeout or predictable cadence); the endings to Prunelle and Argelès are particularly nice. Their instrumentation is also great, especially the use of more ‘eclectic’ sounds like the organ – in L’insouciance ne s’improvise pas particularly which also has great interaction with the percussion. My absolute favourite song on the album is Argelès – which, again, has amazing percussion throughout, and piano. The song really undergoes many transformations as it progresses, featuring piano and guitar riffs. The instrumental interlude about midway through the song is perfect and the re-entrance of the vocals is powerful as accompanied by the rolling drums. The track’s ending – a haunting organ and piano as the song winds down is also impeccable.

The group is pretty young as it only started work on their debut album De la Nature des Foules in January 2007, working with acclaimed producer Ryan Battistuzzi. The album won several awards, including Breakthrough Artist of the Year, Indie-Pop Album of the Year, and Discovery of the Year at the 2008 Quebec Indie Music Awards, as well as the SODRAC prize for best music for their song “Argelès” at the 2008 Francouvertes contest. It has been one of my favourite CDs since I stumbled upon in Monréal’s HMV. I hope I can catch them in a show sometime while I’m up there! Check out their myspace and give their tracks a listen and their videos a viewing: Bonjour Brumaire