Album Review - Les Chauffeurs à Pieds / Les chats jaunes ne meurent jamais

Technically this album came out in 2012, but since it wasn’t released outside of Canada, I figure it counts as new. Les Chauffeurs à Pieds have long held the torch as one of the best bands of young traditionalists in Québécois roots music. Their newest album, Les chats jaunes ne meurent jamais (Yellow Cats Never Die), is perhaps their strongest yet, not only showing the breadth of their musical interests, but also showing just how much fun these young fellows have playing together. Multiple tracks devolve into laughter following a particularly spicy lyric, and on one of the songs, “Margot (ou La vielle jument),” the lead singer has difficulty finishing the song for laughing so hard. Far from detracting from the music, this actually makes the music more real than ever. I’ve been around traditional Québécois music for years, and I can say that it’s not really Québécois music if there’s not a lot of drinking, joking, and laughing going again. It’s all part of that special French-Canadian spirit, tapped into at the earliest by La Bottine Souriante, that makes French-Canadian bands so much fun in a live setting. And Les Chauffeurs à Pieds have got this spirit in spades!

Opening song, “Adèle” is the album standout track, recalling the boisterous fun of Bottine Souriante front man Yves Lambert, and arranged to maximum effect to be a truly powerhouse performance. Followed by “Danse du déneigement,” a great composition from Chauffeurs fiddler Antoine Gauthier, which allows the instrumentalists in the group, Antoine on mandolin and Louis-Simon Lemieux on fiddle, with Olivier Soucy on guitar, to really kick into “le swing,” as they call it in Québec. The song “Lombardi Dum” has all the most typical aspects of French-Canadian music, the loping rhythm of les pieds, the call-and-response vocals, and some salty fiddling to boot. The tune set “Montagnards Laurentiens Énième / Gigue Multiple” is one of the best instrumental sets in the album, demonstrating the whirling crooked tunes the Québécois love so much and the beefed-up sound of twin fiddles as played by Antoine and Louis-Simon. Lovely lovely playing!

Throughout the new album, Les Chauffeurs à Pieds prove that they’re still one of the hottest French-Canadian trad bands around, and that they’ve never lost touch with the pure joy at the heart of this music.

PS: If you’re familiar with Les Chauffeurs à Pieds already, you should check out some of their side projects. Guitarist Olivier Soucy has a great electro-trad album out under his own name, and both fiddlers, Antoine Gauthier and Louis-Simon Lemieux, have their own albums as well.

Les Chauffeurs à Pieds. Les chat jaunes ne meurent jamais.
2012. Scorbut Records.

 

Les Chauffeurs à Pieds : Adèle

 

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