This being the last of my second round of recommendation posts for my top seven favorite Quebec trad bands. I’ve been specifically sitting on this one until now–because, ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs, this one is for De Temps Antan, who are dropping a brand new album this very week!
Y’all know already of course that I’m a devoted Le Vent du Nord fangirl. But De Temps Antan’s boys are fighting it out hard with Genticorum’s for the coveted position of Anna’s Second Favorite Quebec band, in no small part because DTA features the double powerhouse punch of André Brunet on the fiddle (because of the small number of tunes I know how to play, two of them are his, I’m just sayin’) and Éric Beaudry (for many and varied reasons, all of which basically add up to because he’s Éric goddamn Beaudry, and Beaudry is French for awesome). Like Genticorum, DTA is a trio that does a hell of a job pretending to be a band much larger than they actually are. I can point at several reasons for this: Éric’s powerful bouzouki and guitar (especially the bouzouki; you haven’t heard a bouzouki being rocked out upon until you hear Éric playing his), how something about the combo of fiddle and accordion often tricks my ear into thinking there’s an extra fiddle in there just because of how the harmonies work, or how getting three guys going at once on podorythmie gives you an instant percussion section.
But big energetic vocals help, too. Pierre-Luc Dupuis has a rich, wry baritone that often makes him sound like he’s on the verge of breaking into laughter, while André brings in the high, clear end of the range and Éric has a way of sneaking up on you with smokier, subtler backup. If these boys’ voices were alcohol, I’d be putting Pierre-Luc down as a full-bodied port, André as crisp, sweet cider, and Éric as the smokiest of Scotch. And at the end of any DTA album, this pretty much means I’m well and thoroughly soused on harmony.
As of this week DTA has three albums to pick from, and I’ve got a review post on the way for the new one, Ce monde ici-bas. (Spoiler alert: I like it and you should buy it! Look out in particular for “Adieu donc cher cœur”!) If you were to pick up a single album of theirs to check ’em out, I’d definitely recommend getting that one.
But the two previous ones, À l’année and Les habits de papier, both have a great deal to recommend them. Here’s a handful of my favorite tracks from those albums:
On À l’année:
- “Chère Léonore”, a delicious, dark-timbred slower song on which Éric sings lead, because this band’s motto appears to be “Let’s give Éric all the moody slower songs”. I approve of this as a general strategy.
- “Buvons, Mes Chers Amis Buvons”, a drinking song that does fun things with interspersing vocals with instrumental bits. This is also one of the few things I’ve heard Éric sing lead on where he actually sounds cheerful.
And from Les habits de papier:
- “La turlutte du rotoculteur”, the song that completely sold me on these guys. I’ve posted about this one before–starting off with layering in all three voices on a kickass turlutte, bringing in the feet, and finally kicking in to a fiery instrumental treatment of the same melody line for the second half of the song. Plus, finger work on the bouzouki, which ALWAYS makes me swoon. I mean, seriously, look at these guys go!
- “Pétipétan” is serious bouncy fun, and a challenge to sing along with, at least for this Anglophone fangirl. Don’t quote me on this but I suspect it’s a challenge to sing along with for the Francophone fans, too. And, having seen the boys do this one live now, I have it directly from Pierre-Luc himself that the title translates to, in English, “Petipetan”. 😉
- “La Fée des Dents” is a gorgeous, lovely waltz. That I can actually PLAY! We do this one pretty regularly in our session group, and I have great fun trying to make up harmony parts to the latter end of this track. The title translates to “Tooth Fairy”, and I’m given to understand that André wrote this one for his kid. (heart)
- “Grand Amuseur de Filles” is a cappella, again with Éric on the lead vocals, and this one packs a punch. It’s extra fun to see them do it live, too, when André and Éric jump out of their chairs and start having a stepdancing stomp-off!
For my fellow Stateside listeners, DTA’s stuff is available for digital purchase on iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 stores both (though in the latter case, they don’t have the new album yet as of this writing, so you might need to keep checking back). But if you want to go with physical CDs, you should go straight to the the band’s own online store page and buy from them. That way they’ll get the most money. And do give them your moneys. Because goddamn, these boys can play!
Find ’em on Facebook or Twitter, and as always, tell ’em Anna the Piper sent you!