Mon, Aug 26, 2013.
Acadian rock is on a roll, thanks to several groups and artists putting a new energy into the scene of late, including Lisa LeBlanc, Pascal Lejeune, Joseph Edgar and this Moncton band. What they all share is energy, and it comes across both live and on disc. Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire have had a tremendously busy summer, after the release of this album, and are still thundering away, with a festival date in Abitibi this weekend, back to welcome the returning U de M students in Moncton next week, then the next two nights after that in Ottawa and Montreal. Obviously, they're in demand. Earlier this summer they conquered the international Celtic festival in Lorient, France, and in September the band is competing in the hugely influential song competition in Granby, Quebec, the one that's launched the careers of about half the major stars of Francophone music in the country.
Les Hôtesses d'Hilaire call themselves vintage rock, or dirty rock and blues, and what they present is a good mix of those styles, but with the classic Acadian story-telling flair. That means some drama, some fun, lots of stories in the songs, a bigger conceptual piece than you'll find in most English recordings. You're supposed to pay attention, but party as well. The band suggests they came straight out of 1972, and at times, you can't tell the difference. The cut La retraite begins with a greasy lead guitar solo, leading into a nasty blues, complete with an organ that sounds like it came off a J. Geils Band album.
Lead singer Serge Brideau puts his guts into his vocals, a big, theatrical performance that's made equally of growling and singing. The Hilaire in question, as seen in the photo, is his own father, and from what I gather, is the main inspiration behind it all. While my own comprehension of the lyrics may be severely limited, I get the point, and I get the choice of 70's rock sounds, as lively in Francophone music of the day (Ville Emard Blues Band, Beau Dommage, etc. It's a vein producer Pascal Lejeune understands as well, and he's helped the group make a fun, adventurous disc.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).