Where: Rituals nightclub, Ottawa
When: Thursday, Dec. 1
When francophone indie-rock band Karkwa formed in 1998, it didn’t take long for them to achieve a steady following in Quebec and France. The challenge was recruiting fans outside of the French community.
That all changed in 2010 when their fourth album, Les Chemins de Verre, was announced as the winner of the 2010 Polaris Music Prize. The Polaris Music Prize is a critic driven award that nominates Canadian albums based on their artistic merit over record sales and popularity.
Initially, the jury releases a long list of 40 albums to the public in mid June and then a revised short list of 10 albums in early July. The winner is announced at a gala in September. “We were surprised to make the short list, we never expected to win it all,” said Karkwa drummer Stephane Bergeron.
Les Chemins de Verre is the third francophone album to make the Polaris short list and the first francophone album to win the prestigious prize. Following their big win, the band went on a Canadian tour. Bergeron recalls being pleasantly surprised to see sold-out audiences filled with half as many anglophones as francophones. “The prize really made a bridge for music lovers to get to know us,” he said.
Les Chemins de Verre has a raw, organic sound that can be attributed largely to the production method the band selected. “We decided to change the process of each album and the way we record it,” said Bergeron. For their fourth album, Karkwa decided to record without any pre-production. “The plan was (to record) one song a day. We did 20 songs and kept 11,” Bergeron said.
Karkwa’s sound has often been compared to earlier Radiohead tracks and defined as easy-listening, even if you don’t understand what is being said. However, that would be a shame because chief songwriter and vocalist Louis-Jean Cormier is quite skilled lyrically.
The sleepy sound of the single Dors Dans Mon Sang taps into the listeners emotions and draws them in with sweet sounding lyrics.“Tu me degueules/ Tu me rends seul/ Va-t-en mais reste encore.” Bergeron explains that these lyrics chronicle the struggle of a heroine addict and that the ambiguity is meant to leave the song open for interpretation. “What’s your heroine? Is it a person?” Bergeron asks the listener.
The band will make a stop in Ottawa on Dec. 1 at Ritual nightclub, 137 Besserer St.
Tickets are available online for $12 at ticketweb.ca
by Jessica Beddaoui, Ottawa Sun, posted: tuesday, november 29, 2011,