Fred Fortin

Les Plancher des Vaches

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It took four years for Fred Fortin to release a follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Joseph Antoine Frédéric Fortin Perron. Le Plancher des Vaches takes all the varnish off the first album with the help of the turpentine that was the garage-core trio Gros Mené's parenthesis (the 1998 album Tue Ce Drum Pierre Bouchard). Whether or not this represents the "real" Fred Fortin (as in "not limited by record company executives") is debatable, but one thing is sure: The sweet and sour singer/songwriter who allied rural poetry and inventive folk-rock has fully turned to lo-fi alternative rock. Le Plancher des Vaches is dirty (both in terms of words and music), sloppy, even amateurish at times, but highly effective. Some criticized the topics of the songs (alcohol, drugs, hockey, and sex, for the most part) -- granted, this time around the poetry is buried in filth, but it is still there. And Fortin has never sounded meaner on bass or electric banjo. Recorded at home in the countryside with a select number of musicians adding extra touches to Fortin's tracks, the album conveys a sense of intimacy and rurality, despite its occasionally brutal rock display. Highlights include "Canayens" and "Ben Buzzé" (two singles ignored by commercial radio), as well as the beautiful ballad "Corneille," the only song reminiscent of the first album's sweet side. Not as strong (or sound) as Fortin's first album, this one had a bigger influence. Many groups of the Québec rock underground realigned their sound on Le Plancher des Vaches.

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