Best Quebecois Albums of 2016
selected by P.-A. Buisson

Alaclair Ensemble <BR>“Les Frères Cueilleurs”

Alaclair Ensemble
“Les Frères Cueilleurs”

Every member of this “super collective” has something to offer, and together, they can do no wrong.

Mixing a rare breed of trap sounds and funk, they rap about all kinds of absurd subjects with thick layers of wordplays.

“Les Frères Cueilleurs” is their most cohesive effort to this day.

♪♫ Listen: “Ça que c’tait” + album stream

Alaclair Ensemble on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Antoine Corriveau “Cette chose qui cognait au creux de sa poitrine sans vouloir s’arrêter”

Antoine Corriveau “Cette chose qui cognait au creux de sa poitrine sans vouloir s’arrêter”

Corriveau practices a brand of serious and grandiloquent orchestral pop music, with an urgency effortlessly transmitted by his haunting voice.

Like a slow motion catastrophe in which you see an incandescent beauty, as hopeful and uplifting as it is darkly melodramatic.

♪♫ Listen: “Rendez-vous” + album stream

Antoine Corriveau on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Avec Pas d’Casque <br>“Effets Spéciaux”

Avec Pas d’Casque
“Effets Spéciaux”

The confidential folk that Avec Pas d’Casque champions has been maturing quite well over the years.

Probably always written with a wry smile, the lyrics about intimate dramas and love stories flow freely over the beautiful arrangements, and even if the running time is quite short, it will leave a lasting impression.

♪♫ Listen: “Loup-Garou” + album stream

Avec Pas d’Casque on Bandcamp, Facebook, www.

Bernhari <BR>“Île Jésus”

“Île Jésus”

Bernhari’s ethereal voice is a treat in itself, and this album is something out of a feverish dream about a night out in the city.

This second album solidifies his place in our alternative pop music kingdom, with rich instrumentations supporting intimate musings. Heartbreaking.

♪♫ Listen: “Emmène-moi” + album stream

Bernhari on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Brown <BR>“Brown”


It’s quite unusual in the music world to see a band comprised of members of the same family – and it’s surely part of Brown’s immense charm.

Blending the roots & reggae the father grew up on with the street influences of his two sons, this eponymous album offers some very sweet beats that are as timeless as they are modern.

♪♫ Listen: “Brown Baby” + album stream

Brown Brown on Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Chocolat <BR>“Rencontrer Looloo”

“Rencontrer Looloo”

This concept album has one theme: how great these guys are.

From the fuzz-filled guitars to the cover art, Chocolat bring us back to the seventies, and we sigh with relief at the thought that they could have remained disbanded. Jimmy Hunt is a genius.

♪♫ Listen: “Ah ouin” + album stream

Chocolat on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

CRi <BR>“Tell Her” EP

“Tell Her” EP

This EP offers a taste of how bright CRi’s future looks like. It could have been lost in the sea of electronic flavored releases, but his unique sensibility and aerial arrangements made it stick out.

The hype doesn’t lie – his material defies categorization and challenges the soul.

♪♫ Listen: “Tell her” + album stream

CRi on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.

Dead Obies <BR>“Gesamtkunstwerk”

Dead Obies

Having an in-house producer can be a curse, but in the Obies’ case, it’s more of a blessing. Because VNCE’s productions are varied, solid, and they let every MC in the gang shine in its own way.

This is an overly ambitious album that could have ended up with a few fillers – but it passes the test and is on his way of becoming a true classic.

♪♫ Listen: “Waiting” + album stream

Dead Obies on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Grandbuda <BR>“If It Happened to Me”

“If It Happened to Me”

With all of the album’s tracks produced by Max-Antoine Gendron from Prince Club, a guy mostly associated with house music, this effort offers its fair share of anthems.

This contemporary hip hop album is on the same level as the greatest artists in the game, and Luis Rotondaro seems to have found his true calling.

♪♫ Listen: “Yeah yeah yeah” + album stream

Grandbuda on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Kaytranada <BR>“99.9%”


A guy still living in his mom’s basement, and who is also cruelly under-represented in his local media, Kaytranada nonetheless won the Polaris prize for this exquisitely well crafted album.

Kevin Célestin lets his glorious influences shine all over, and his personal definition of dance music should be the norm.

♪♫ Listen: “You’re the one” + album stream

Kaytranada on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Klô Pelgag <BR>“L’Étoile Thoracique”

Klô Pelgag
“L’Étoile Thoracique”

Klô Pelgag’s highly original take on pop music is a trip in itself.

Her universe is full of wordplays and rhythmic changes, almost as if a fairy with violent mood swings had possessed her.

There is a stylistic unity through this album, and you either love it or hate it. Although if you hate it, you’re probably dead inside.

♪♫ Listen: “Samedi soir à la violence” + album stream

Klô Pelgag on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Koriass <BR>“Love Suprême”

“Love Suprême”

On top of becoming an unlikely spokesperson against rape culture, Emmanuel Dubois has had a very busy year with an album tour, and a documentary about his humble beginnings.

“Love Suprême” depicts an artist that has settled down, but who still can’t help boasting about his achievements. Essential.

♪♫ Listen: “Blacklights” + album stream

Koriass on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

KROY <BR>“Scavenger”


Camille Poliquin also known as KROY was already an essential part of Montreal band Milk & Bone, but her solo stuff takes her uniqueness one step further.

Camille is like a less tacky version of Lana del Rey, using electronic music to magnify her nostalgic late-night ballads. Eerie and breathtaking.

♪♫ Listen: “River” + album stream

KROY on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook.

La Bronze <BR>“Rois de Nous” EP

La Bronze
“Rois de Nous” EP

This EP was a little unexpected, after her eponymous album released in 2015. Her poetic lyrics are notably uplifting, and the new sound she’s pushing is so unusual that it takes a few listens to fully grasp its scope.

Songs like “Monarque” and “Mangez mon Coeur” establish a truly original artist at her prime.

♪♫ Listen: “Rois de nous” + album stream

La Bronze on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Leonard Cohen <BR>“You Want it Darker”

Leonard Cohen
“You Want it Darker”

Cohen knew he was dying, and made a record to have a good laught about it.

His usual sobriety and his observations about life’s cruel jokes are all here, with musical arrangements that are devoid of his usual cheesy keyboards.

“You Want it Darker” is ironically the best material he’s recorded in almost twenty years.

♪♫ Listen: “You want it darker” + album stream

Leonard Cohen on Soundcloud, Facebook, www.

Loud x Lary x Ajust <BR>“Ondulé” EP

Loud x Lary x Ajust
“Ondulé” EP

Unfortunately, the band split a few months after this EP was released, but they have left us with quite a legacy.

The bite and unsettling rhymes that have made them famous are all here, with an extra slice of that jaded attitude that suits them so much. Our only complaint: it’s too short.

♪♫ Listen: “Ondulations” + album stream

Loud x Lary x Ajust on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Louis-Philippe Gingras <BR>“Troisième rangée”

Louis-Philippe Gingras
“Troisième rangée”

Gingras’ minimalist folk has gained a few new instruments on his second effort “Troisième rangée”, and it makes his tortured songs sound so good that we had to play the LP twice to quench our thirst when it was released.

A soul laid bare, a huge sense of humor, and big choruses: all we needed to fall in love.

♪♫ Listen: “Tigre géant” + album stream

Louis-Philippe Gingras on Bandcamp, Facebook, www.

Poirier <BR>“Migration”


This tall guy has made quite the jump, from his early days in the Montreal minimal techno intelligentsia, to this sun-kissed and groovy sound, incorporating everything from hip hop to reggae and dancehall.

“Migration” has a big summer vibe, and the beats are exquisitely well crafted. And yes, it was released way ahead of Bonobo’s album with the same title.

♪♫ Listen: “Jump” + album stream

Poirier on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, www.

Rosie Valland <BR>“Nord-Est”

Rosie Valland

One of last year’s unexpected offerings, “Nord-est” is Rosie Valland at her best: her songs are moody and atmospheric, and were written after a break-up.

It could be argued that anguished lovers make the best art. In the case of Valland, we’ll just be very satisfied to take in the beautiful sonic scenery.

♪♫ Listen: “Nord-est” + album stream

Rosie Valland on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

RYMZ <BR>“Petit Prince”

“Petit Prince”

Rémi Daoust has worked hard and tirelessly since this album’s release, and his Mauvais Acte (his former band) days are far behind.

His personality shines bright on the 16 tracks the effort lasts, and the three videos already available are all positively breath taking. A highly original take on modern hip hop, with big hooks and very personal lyrics.

♪♫ Listen: “Ma zone” + album stream

RYMZ on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter.