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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Lead by the North-Ontarian Lalonde brothers, this group got often considered as Québecois, especially after their name change that came along with their second album, but distinctly Lougarou was Ontarian. Indeed Lougarou came with CANO from North Ontario and presented a light progressive folk, more like an electrified French (yes from France) folk, but stretching sometimes to Acadian folk as well. Hiding behind a superb artwork, this first album mixes straight traditional folk to Tull-ified folk rock soundscapes, so there is a very strong work in the arrangement . Opening on the acoustic folk Dis-Moi, Charles, the album veers on the great Tull-ish Belle Françoise, while the piano-led Partance arte both fully electrified folk rock with plenty of electric guitar works from both Michel and Antoniak, both tracks just under six minutes, allowing plenty of space for intricate musical interplay. The tracks finishing side 1 are also full of charm, but shorter, but La Vendée has an impressive vocal delivery. You could imagine yourself on a Malicorne album with such tracks.

The flipside opens with the upbeat Hirondelle, and the album continues like the other side of the wax, but the treatment of La Claire Fontaine (extended to 7-minutes) is a pure gem of mixing acoustic and electric music together, but has plenty of dramatics as well, including some excellent guitar works. The following Eclipse can't possibly compete with that, but still manages its

While I wouldn't call any of Garolou's album essential prog folk rock, this debut album and its two successors are definitely worth hearing, because they represent another way modernising folk music.

Report this review (#236019)
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Quebec Folk Rock scene seems endless and Lougarou were another band in the list, found in 1974 by brothers Marc Lalonde (bass, vocals) and Michel Lalonde (acoustic guitar, vocals) and featuring also drummer Michel "Stan" Deguire, guitarist George Antoniak and keyboardist Steven Naylor.Lougarou were lucky enough to use Le Studio in Morin Heighs during its off-hours and the band finally signed a contract with Canadian label London Records, releasing the self-titled debut in 1976.

Unlike the mass of Quebec Folk groups using traditional instruments, Lougarou were standing on the opposite side, having a rather rockier but still very delicate and warm sound, mainly to the nice use of synths and piano by Steven Naylor.Their style contained inspirations from Heavy Rock, Classical Music and Progressive Rock, all mixed with some good folky tunes coming out of the band's musical influences and listened both on the instrumental parts and the multi-vocal arrangements.The album certainly lacks some killer tracks or even trully adventurous arrangements with the band focusing more on producing elegant sounds and folky memorable choruses, but there are also some great guitar leads, beautiful piano lines as well as some light and interesting interplays to be found.Especially the keyboard/piano work by Naylor is excellent with a bit virtuosic solos and somewhat intricate passages.

This is certainly the definition of Folk Rock.Catchy folky vibes blended with the rock dynamics next to some evident prog stylings.Nice album indeed and warmly recommended.

Report this review (#786754)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an important band in the history of Canadian music. With Franco-Ontarian roots, the band combined an appreciation for French Canadian folk music with (then-) contemporary art-rock forms of composition. It took a little while longer for the disco and punk scenes transform the record industry in Canada, thankfully, allowing bands like Garolou and Rush (and the record companies there were signed to) to put out high-quality music for a couple of years longer in the late 1970s than in the US or UK where from 1976 onwards bands were being pressured to change their style. This band released their debut album under the name Lougarou, and only subsequently changed it to Garolou on their second album. While not quite as developed as their second album (Garolou), this is high quality music, and an excellent debut album. While some of the tracks remain pretty folky (including the opening track, Dis-Moi Charles, which is not to say they are in any way inferior), other tracks became staples of French-Canadian progressive rock (La Belle Francoise, A la Claire Fontaine, etc). The music is highly memorable after a couple of plays (a number of the songs stick in your head), and although firmly rooted in the 1970s has aged gracefully and so does not sound (too) dated these days. The soloists are not virtuosos by any means, but the playing is highly evocative and musical (more like Gilmour's guitar solos). This album remains on our family playlist (it still gets requests when we drive up to camping in the summer!), which (anecdotally I realize) speaks to its longevity. Although not essential, this is lasting quality music. I give it 8.1 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which puts it at 4 PA stars.
Report this review (#1693937)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Having a rare distinction of two self titled albums with different names, GAROLOU, or LOUGAROU as they were initially known, hit the ground running with this 1976 release. The combination of muddy production and ragged arrangements offers rustic charms that were largely smoothed over on this album's highly accomplished successor, which means that both are sine qua non in the realm of Francophone prog folk of the 1970s.

This debut focuses on story songs that are both near and distant variations on traditional tunes, but nary a traditional instrument is used, with the group relying on with vocal harmonies and meters to convey connections to the past. The instrumental arrangements are decidedly rock oriented, with versatile and occasionally aggressive electric guitars, economical pianos, and occasional synths announcing their intentions. While every track has merit, the lengthiest are those that best fulfill the band's promise, namely "La Belle Francoise", the surprisingly hard rocking "La Partance" and the brilliant adaptation of "A La Claire Fontaine". In the latter case, the band parlayed a tune that everybody at the time and place knew by rote, yet effectively obliterated all memory of the original.

The shorter pieces are hardly less impressive, as young sibling Bobby Lalonde contributes violin to the lively "La Vendee", with nimble plucking and sublime call and response vocals that rival the best of what TRI YANN was on about at the time. "Ah Toi Belle Hirondelle" might be my favourite of the lot, exuding a breezy mid 1970s ambiance, with an ultra catch riff and propulsive rhythm section that seems to presage the imminent arrival of DIRE STRAITS on the scene, although concurrent Laurel canyon artists and their ilk might be a more apt comparison. It's the sort of arrangement that might help warm a sub zero Northern Ontario night, if only by getting you out of your seat,

It is far from hyperbole to suggest that GAROLOU were the closest that any Canadian act came to attaining the highs of overseas Celtic prog folk artists of their day, which makes them pretty much essential if your wheelhouse boasts a Celtic cross.

The re-release business being what it is, you might have trouble finding this on CD, but I recommend it in any form you can manage, including as part of "Tableaux D'Hier" Volume 1, where only the final track, which happens to be one of the two weakest, is omitted. It's an album I never had much time for when it was current, having satisfied myself with the next album by these talented guys. Well, there is no time like the present to right old wrongs, and let the (were) wolves bay at your door for a spell.

Report this review (#1737151)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2017 | Review Permalink

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