Laurence Nerbonne Wins a JUNO and Deluxifies XO

No one was more surprised at winning the coveted Francophone Album of the Year JUNO for 2017 than its recipient, Laurence Nerbonne. Laurence is the ex-lead of group Hôtel Morphée. Her debut album as a soloist, XO, took home the JUNO trophy in somewhat of an upset amidst fellow nominees of high profile. In making her album, Laurence had to break through the mould of the heavily entrenched folk-leaning musique Francophone in Canada.

“The hip hop or dance beats, it really was all done in the English language by the Americans,” Laurence says. “We Francophones have a tradition with composition, the French song, the folklore. When you look at it, it is nothing but folk music that is rhythmic. Our musical history is built around the guitar.” To do something more pop,” Laurence comments, “It’s so difficult to write in French! It’s so square, and also it takes a lot of words to convey a simple idea.” As progressive pop music has been handled successfully in the French tongue by artists like Ariane Moffatt, Mylène Farmer and her protégée Alizée, Nerbonne began an intense period of listening carefully to songs from Stromae and Christine and The Queens to see how the music, lyrics, and production all worked to deliver a pleasing modern Franco pop sound.

Laurence Nerbonne boldly left behind the rich tradition of folk, the acoustic guitars, the fiddles, to the colourful field of electropop where artists like Robyn and MØ roam happily. She swam against the current penning empowering lyrics, bold melodies, and danceable rhythms.

“People around me listen to what’s going on internationally: Beyoncé, Disclosure, et cetera. I don’t know if it’s because we [in Quebec] are not game or not ready, but the impression is that we never dare go there. We are very afraid to make pop because of what others will say.”

Nerbonne recently released a deluxe version of her JUNO-winning album XO. It contains three bonus tracks, one of which features Jason Bajada.

Laurence Nerbonne is originally from Gatineau, Quebec. In addition to her Juno Award win, she won the 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize in the French-language division for the song “Rêves d’été”. Music video for album opener “Si ton coeur bat” embedded below.  iTunes


Hôtel Morphée Explores The American Dream

Hotel Morphee - Reve americainFollowing up debut LP Des histoires de fantômes, which earned Hôtel Morphée two Félix nominations, the Montréal alternative band lands Rêve américain. Musically, the album is perhaps less experimental and more accessible than its predecessor making generous use of strings. Lyrically, the album explores the side of the American Dream that has less to do with licking ice cream cones in pink Cadillac convertibles and more to do with the passionate duels between dream and cynicism, doubt and hope, and the tools of seduction, often violent, that build such dichotomies. The growth of Hôtel Morphée is coming along nicely as it balances indie and mainstream leanings.  iTunes

Roundup of Selected New Releases 9 September 2014

New Releases Sep 9 copy

Absent for a decade, Windsor’s The Tea Party has released its 8th album, The Ocean at the End. The Moroccan Roll band has been nominated for some 13 JUNOs and scored three multiplatinum albums. Le Paysagiste is a new project by Sudbury’s Dayv Poulin. He describes his Alter Ego LP as pop, rock, acousto, electro, ambient. The album is very good, worth checking out.

Toronto artists with new albums include punk outfit Death From Above 1979 with The Physical World. The band has managed a gold album and JUNO nomination. Because of Billie is the new LP out from fabulous JUNO winning jazz singer Molly Johnson.

Montréal’s roots rocker Dany Placard has topped the iTunes Franco chart with Santa Maria. Immediately behind him is the sophomore album from Hôtel Morphée, Rêve Américain. With its debut LP, the alternative music group was nominated for two Félix awards. Another grand release from Québec is Kwey by folk artist Guy Marin.

Halifax has been working hard; there are three releases out this week from its artists. Power pop band Sloan has launched Commonwealth. The group has scored four gold albums, six Top 40 hits, and won a JUNO. Brilliant alternative musician Rich Aucoin‘s latest is Ephemeral. Our favourite LP this week belongs to In-Flight Safety thanks to new wave flavoured Conversationalist which plays like a good book that you can’t put down. Excellent album!

Rap music fans can grab a copy of P. Reign‘s new EP, Dear America, available in both explicit and clean versions. The rapper’s real name is Raynford Humphrey. He grew up in Toronto and is of Guyanese descent. The King of Da North was featured in Alyssa Reid’s smash “Alone Again” as well as Hedley’s “Invincible”. Another EP released this week is 3-track The Calling, a synth pop effort from new Montréal artist Liyon, alias of J. D. Leblanc.

Ice Conduit to the 2013 ADISQ Gala: Alternative Album of the Year Nominees

Forêt by Forêt

Foret - ForetClassically trained vocalist Émilie Laforest and guitarist Joseph Marchand, formerly associates of Karkwa, Pierre Lapointe, and Ariane Moffatt, let loose one of the finest albums of 2013, a pop mélancolico-romantique tour de force with contributions made by several high-profile musicians. Emilie’s delicate, haunting vocals blended with music of mystery and charm imbues listeners with magic power, turns bitter melon into sugarcane, crane flies into butterflies, concrete into green marble, and sweeps away all tangled twigs and mud traps from the forest floor.


Angus Dei by Gros Mené

Angus Dei by Gros MenéThis is classic electric rock generated raw in the proverbial garage as if from diesel-powered guitars and a rusted crank of blues, the whole sound frothing over with potent doses of feedback and vocal distortion. It’s got everything those who dig the genre could possibly ask for. Gros Mené formed back in ’98 when Fred Fortin hooked up with buddies in a Saint-Félicien cottage. An album was cut the following year. Between then and 2012, the members busied themselves with other projects including Félix-winning band Galaxie.


Des histoires de fantômes by Hôtel Morphée

hotel-morphee-des-histoires-de-fantomesThis is the male-female alternative rock band’s first full-length album. They have been praised for their creative combination of sounds. Check out for example, “Interlude romantique” which combines vocal hums, pluck and strum guitar, infrequent single-key piano, weeping violin, and—get this—a spinning bicycle wheel! “Dessine-moi” contains avant-garde percussion, quick pace bass, and a variety of sound effects. But this is not just a celebration of experimentation. The disc contains enough straight-shooting indie-rock standouts to humble the veterans.


Une version améliorée de la tristesse by Peter Peter

Peter Peter - Une version améliorée de la tristesseThe indie junkies behind the Polaris Prize long-listed this jewel of synth-heavy new wave earlier in the year. Peter Peter launched his debut album in 2011 which was a more guitar-infused work. This second album will hit the spot for those who grew up spinning Rubik’s Cube and punching the colourful buttons on Simon. The album is subdued, melancholy and consistently good with enough variety to be enjoyed as a whole. The end result of all this is that Peter Peter has established his credibility as a songwriter, and we look forward to his next release.


27 Club by Ponctuation

27 Club by PonctuationThis is lo-fi rockabilly garage rock a decade younger perhaps than the aforementioned Gros Mené album. It exudes fumes of grease and turpentine and comes at you revved up like a glowing Repo Man mobile with a hurdy gurdy man in the backseat and The Blob riding shotgun. The music contains simple but exaggerated reverb and echo effects, vocal squawks, fuzzy guitars, and beastly drumming. It is to music what Grindhouse was to cinema complete with dust, stains, and scratches. 27 Club is the duo of brothers’ first LP.