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First of June


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Beautiful &fierce alternative pop/rock

Status:

Most recent release, Swallowed by the Sea (2012)

See also:

Beyond the 100 Acre Wood (First of June's Official website)

Comparisons:

Boys for Pele-era Tori Amos, Universe-era Sarah Slean

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

Very odd and enjoyable. The overall sound has echoes of "Little Amsterdam" from Tori Amos's Boys for Pele era, like Tori Amos with a lively acoustic band, but that seems like all too easy a comparison, because this group is so talented there's more going on here than that. This is a rich sound that this band could mine for a long time— I find it compelling listening. I like the quality of the songwriting a lot (lots of intriguing and allusive lyrics, and songs that can encompass shifts in mood) and how they put their sound together— the piano dominates and the quality of Vanessa Laurin's playing stands up to close listening. Her slightly smoky voice angles around the melodies, feeling more like a part of the mix of the tunes rather that riding them as Tori's does. The other instrumentation is well put together, too. (Neile)

I saw them play a month or two ago, opening for Wild Strawberries. The first few songs of the set I spent going "My God, did these people learn to play by listening to Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink over and over again???" which, by the end of the set, had become "You know, they're doing the stuff that I wish Tori had gone and done after Under The Pink instead of the crap that she's been doing ever since then". It's a piano/bass/drums trio, and they remind me a lot of "Cornflake-Girl" type Tori Amos. My girlfriend owns their CD, and I recall having listened to it and liking it, but honestly don't remember the CD that well. But if it holds up to their live show, I really should go back and listen to it again. (iclysdal@redmaple.yi.org)

Recommended first album:

Any, but I think Lorelei is my favourite. (Neile)

Recordings:


Creepy, crawly things

Release info:

1999—CyberCynic Media—FOJ12799

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Vanessa Laurin— vocals, keyboard
Marc-André Mongeon— bass
Stéphane Danis— drums, backing vocals

Produced by:

First of June

Comments:

This album sounds very much like Tori Amos with an more acoustic or mainstream rock band, not so electronic on her own band sounds. Or very like Universe-era Sarah Slean: that kind of energy in the singing, piano, and songwriting. The album is odd and enjoyable with powerfully catchy haunting songs. (Neile)

Lovely. A dead ringer for mid-period Tori Amos but individual touches saves it from copycat territory. Great songs and lyrics. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


creepy, crawly live

Release info:

2000—June Music—12800

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Vanessa Laurin— vocals, piano
Marc André Mongeon— bass
Stéphane Danis— drums

Produced by:

Stéphane Danis

Comments:

This is a great live version of most of the songs from Creepy, crawly things, showing the energy of the band in a live setting. Recommended. (Neile)

I was actually at the show that they recorded, and the show wasn't really outstanding in any way. It was at Zaphod's 2, unquestionably the worst venue for live music in Ottawa (now thankfully closed), and people were talking loudly all the way through the show. I remember thinking that First of June sounded really tight, and I enjoyed the set, but it didn't make my outstanding list.
     On the CD, on the other hand, it sounded really good. It didn't have the rather overproduced (on a cheap budget) sound that First of June's first studio album had, but instead an almost organic sound— which had the effect of making them sound even MORE "more tori than tori" than they normally do. :)
     I think the fact that I rather enjoyed this, however, came in part from the fact that it didn't really sound like a live album, but like the studio album that I can't help but think they *should* have recorded. There weren't long applause sections— n fact, I think the noise between songs really was just the background noise in the club actually making it onto their directed mics. There weren't long long solos. Just solid music. (iclysdal@redmaple.yi.org)


What the Wind Brings

Release info:

2001—June Music—foj13000

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Vanessa Laurin— vocals, piano, organ, foot triggers, high-pitched sounds
Stéphane Danis— drums, guitars, keyboards, samples/sequences, bass

Produced by:

Stéphane Danis

Comments:

This is a fine follow-up album to their first album. Very similar and still full in sound, even though their bass player left. Again Vanessa Laurin's piano work, especially, and her vocals, are the focus of the songs. Or maybe I should say that the focus is the strong songwriting. The songs feel all-of-a-piece similar to each other but because there are so many fine and various moments and intriguing, individual touches to each tune (and because I like this kind of song so much) it's not a matter for complaint but for simply putting the disc on again. (Neile)

Waiting for Rabbit

Release info:

2002— June Music— FOJ14000

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Stéphane Danis— drums, guitar, keyboards
Vanessa Laurin— vocals, piano, keyboards

Produced by:

Stéphane Danis

Comments:

This is an darker album than the previous two with a somewhat heavier sound at times and much hunting imagery, full of the story of rabbit and wolf. Lyrics in German at several points. Is it a song cycle? Probably. I don't know for certain. There's plenty of piano but a lot of other sounds and the piano isn't always the focal instrument. Vanessa Laurin's high but dark and smoky voice almost always is. A really intriguing listen that gets richer on repeated plays. (Neile)

Lorelei

Release info:

2004—June Music—FOJ15000

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Stéphane Danis— drums, guitar, keyboards
Vanessa Laurin— vocals, piano, keyboards

Produced by:

Stéphane Danis

Comments:

The opening tracks, "Tooth & Bone" and "Beautiful Lorelei" are so gorgeous and evocative and both fragile and strong in sound and song structure they set the tone for one of First of June's strongest albums. This is a haunting album, with moments so beautiful they nearly hurt. Irresistable for anyone who likes piano-based rock/pop. What can you say about an album that ends with the words "I was invincible" and the album has convinced you that it's true? (Neile)

Razor Blade Spine

Release info:

2007—June Music

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Stéphane Danis— drums, bass, farfisa, hammond, harpsichord, orchestral arrangements, piano, programming, rhodes, vibraphone, qurlitzer
Vanessa Laurin— vocals, piano, rhodes

Produced by:

Stéphane Danis

Comments:

This is another solid album by First of June. Their style is constant, but they do it very well: haunting pop, frequently featuring piano, and always featuring Vanessa Laurin's yearning vocals. Only one track here, "Ruby Lips," sounds very Tori-esque, but in a good way—it's the kind of thing I wish Tori still did. First of June have made this territory their own and they rule it. (Neile)

All is well that ends

Release info:

2010—June Music

Availability:

See First of June's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

Dark and haunting. The piano work is reminiscent of Tori Amos, but to my ears even more so of Charlotte Martin's playing, mixed with The High Violets. It's my first First of June album, and while it's a nice place to spend a half hour, it hasn't inspired me to check out their previous releases. (JoAnn Whetsell)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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Entry last updated 2013-09-01 18:11:58.
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