Manger du Bois
I'm having another one of those moments when I wished I had paid closer attention in French class throughout my schooling career. Having traveled through Quebec many times, I've become very rehearsed at asking for a cup of coffee, sans lait, and saying "Merci!" after paying for my gas. Beyond that, I'm restricted to awkward nods and shameful embarrassment. So listening to Francophone music is a bit of a limiting activity for me, and I believe for many other Canadians, which is rather unfortunate. Francophone folk music, with its exuberant blend of Cajun and bluegrass influences, is unlike much of what we hear out west. Allow me, then, to introduce you to Manger du Bois.
Most of the Quebecers I've met are very passionate people, and this aspect comes through prominently in their music. The sincere and manic energy displayed on Canailles is dizzying. I love the animated nature of these songs, and the arsenal of bluegrass instruments. I'm sure I hear washboards, jugs, and of course, an ever active accordion.
Now, having no idea what is being sung about, I'm being lead completely by the music and the emotion. And, although I'm often big on lyricism, they could be singing about the most ridiculous things and I wouldn't care. The musician ship and brash delivery are enough to keep me enthralled and wanting more. Numerous voices harmonizing, possibly a dozen instruments sounding, it's all overwhelming and exciting. Banjos, guitars, a heavy handed bass, mandolins and anything else they could get their hands on lay out a mesmerizing foundation as solid as the Laurentians.
Although the execution of this record is similar to other Francophone music I've run into, it's always new and exciting for me and always a pleasure to experience.
Heart of the Storm
You could call Montreal's Colin Moore a man of the road, a pavement poet who writes what he knows and does so with serious intelligence. His third release, Heart of the Storm, is a raw and personal exhibition of the trials of family, love, politics, and distance.
Presented as Americana Folk Rock, Moore and band often run closer to regular rock. Their edgy nature lends itself to a rougher sound which could also be stripped down and sound just as prevalent. Songs like "Hoax", "Flags", and "Driver" turn up the energy, delivering hard lines and rhythm. I'd compare most of the material to a mediocre "Canadian Rock" vibe, switching between heavy and soft rock at the drop of a hat, incorporating a little celtic, folk rock and western influence smoothly into straight rock.
Moore's scratchy vocals bear his words with convincing honesty. He shows little restraint in his words expressing angst and dissatisfaction. He is very articulate in most of his points, sometimes throwing poetry to the side to convey his message.
I can imagine that this band performs very well. If the verve portrayed through this record is any indication, these guys must rock hard in a live setting.