We move on in this second part of our roundup series to Québec, which (as always) provided a wealth of terrific new releases in 2017. So many to choose from – and, as we’ve said before, we’ve likely missed some awesome albums. Let us know if there’s an album you think we need to hear – tweet us @greatdkwonder with the album, artist, and province and we’ll check it out.
And, I know I’ve said it before but: even if you don’t understand a word of French, try these albums anyway. Music is a universal language, after all, and I think you’ll find that the music you discover can transcend differences in wonderful and unexpected ways.
(There’s a Spotify playlist at the end of the article if you want to sample each album, or you can listen to full albums at the links provided. If you like any of the music, please 1) save the album to your Spotify account, and 2) consider buying the album and supporting the artist.)
Ludovic Alarie, L’appartement
We wrote about this album early this year, and it’s remained one of my favorites. Cool, funky, leisurely, and utterly enjoyable start to finish.
Philippe B, La grande nuit vidéo
This is a breathtakingly lovely album, spare but not sparse, with gorgeous orchestration and stunning singing. “Explosion,” the opening track, even caught M’s attention with the strings and the beauty – it’s that good.
This gorgeous album caught my ear almost from the first few notes of the first song. This set of absolutely marvelous songs is (spoiler) one of the best albums I heard this year.
Brishen, Blue Verdun
This swing jazz project from multi-talented Quinn Bachand (who we saw live in September with his sister, Qristina) demonstrates just how versatile he is – this is a tremendously confident and frankly spectacular album that’s been on both our playlists since we heard it.
Bon Débarras, En panne de silence
Québec has so much fabulous traditional music going on that it would be easy to do a year-end roundup just on that alone. (Hmm… idea for a future article.) Bon Débarras’ latest album is an utter trad delight – I dare you to listen and not find yourself dancing to it.
This is a catchy, fun album that hooks you from the first track and absolutely doesn’t let go until the end. As hard as it is to pick a favorite song, the title track keeps pulling me back – as indeed the whole album does.
This album caught my attention a few months ago with its 1980s vibe and hints of punk and I was thrilled to find it on vinyl not too long ago (and outside Québec, too!).
Félix Dyotte, Politesses
This magnetic combination of electronica and folk draws in the listener inexorably – a thoroughly enjoyable album. I had not heard Félix Dyotte before this album but you can be sure that I’ll be exploring his back catalog in the next few weeks.
Sally Folk, 3e acte
We’ve been fans of Sally Folk’s particular brand of retro-funky pop for a while now, and this latest album carries on that theme (and is constantly surprising and fresh). I’ve caught M singing along to “J’aurai ton enfant quand même” more than once (with its catchy Spanish flair) – and who wouldn’t sing along to this project?
François Jalbert et Jérôme Beaulieu, This Is a Real Place
I owe Radio-Canada’s Ici Musique website a huge debt of thanks for this one, which I heard via their First Play section. A delightful jazz album of piano and guitar, this is a fun listen and I hope that this duo comes out with more music in the near future.
Pierre Lapointe, La science du coeur
Pierre Lapointe is one of those artists whose new albums always generate a huge amount of hype – and in the case of this project, it totally lived up to expectations. A gorgeous exploration of love, beautifully sung and orchestrated, a marvel from start to finish.
This album caught our ears early in the year, with Maritza’s incredible voice, and it seems it got others’ attention as well, as I frequently heard singles from this EP on Sirius/XM’s Francophone channels. A totally enjoyable album.
Alejandra Ribera, This Island
If you’ve not heard Alejandra Ribera’s voice before, hie thee with all speed either to the Spotify link below or a download of this album. This is an absolute gem of an album, not only because of her stunning voice but also because of the fabulous songs on the project. Highly recommended.
Laura Sauvage, Beautiful
If Les Hay Babies bandmate Julie Aubé’s album is rooted in the 1970s, Laura Sauvage’s project is firmly planted in the 1980s. A bit of pop, a bit of punk (especially on “Monkeys in Space”), this album is 100% enjoyable.
Vincent Vallières, Le temps des vivants
This, Vincent Vallières’ first album in four years, was a welcome return for an artist we’ve followed and enjoyed for several years now. If you’re not familiar with his work, listen to this terrific album first and then explore his past work (one of our favorites is 2009’s Le monde tourne fort).
Leif Vollebekk, Twin Solitude
This quietly entrancing album reached the Polaris Short List this year with good reason – a gorgeously played, beautifully interpreted project that doesn’t hit you with big highs and lows but instead goes for the emotional jugular softly, with purpose and intention.
Listen to a song from each album above in our Spotify playlist: