Over the better part of the past year or so, I’ve written quite a bit about the rapidly rising Montreal-based indie rock act Corridor. And as you may recall, the French Canadian act, which currently features longtime friends and collaborators Dominic Berthiaume (vocals/bass) and Jonathan Robert (vocals/guitar/synths) along with Julian Perreault (guitar), Julien Bakvis (drums) and the band’s newest member Samuel Gougoux first received attention across the Francophone world and elsewhere with 2017’s sophomore album Supermercado, which glowing received praise from NPR and Vice, who referred to the album as “the best French record of 2017, 2018, 2018, 2019, 2020 2021 and even 2022 . . . ”
Corridor spent the following year touring across Europe with stops at London Calling Festival and La Villete Sonique Festival, and the States with appearances at SXSW and Northside Festival. They followed that up by touring with Crumb on a sold-out Stateside tour.
Building upon a growing profile, the band signed to Sub Pop Records, who released their third album, last year’s Junior, making the band the first Francophone act ever on the world renowned label. While continuing their ongoing and highly successful collaboration with their friend, producer (and occasional roommate) Emmanuel Ethier, the album found the band jettisoning the languorous creative process of its predecessors — out of inspired necessity. Although the members of the band had only just signed to their new label home at the time, they had firmly committed themselves to releasing a new album worth of material every two years. And the band fully intended on fulfilling their long-held commitment. Naturally, when the folks at Sub Pop were informed of this, they gently warned the band that if they wanted to release new material that fall, they needed to send the label a completed album by early May.
With the ink barely dried on the finalized record contract, the band rushed into the studio and recorded Junior in an inspired and breakneck blitz, finishing the album in mid-April: Six of the album’s 10 songs were conceived in a single weekend — with the album closer “Bang” being written the night before they were to start recording sessions. Reportedly, Corridor’s Jonathan Robert wrote that song’s lyrics while panicking over the possibility of not being able to properly finished what they started.
Because of the quickened nature of the Junior sessions, the material features fewer expansive jams and less reliance on overdubs. Even the album’s artwork managed to come about in the nick of time. In spite of other more meticulous and gorgeous artwork they received as potential album art, Robert’s “shitty last minute” collage of an egg saying hello was the one his bandmates wound up approving. “Part of the beauty of the thing is that we didn’t have time to think about it,” the band’s Berthiaume says of the Junior recording sessions.
Album tracks like Topographe,” “Pow,” album title track “Junior” “Goldie” and Domino” manage to reveal a wide range of influences: a bit of post-punk here, a little bit of XTC over there, a little bit of The Beatles, a dash of The Beach Boys here and so on. And with some deft craftsmanship and musicianship, they manage to whimsically and mischievously create something novel out of the familiar.
Last year, I caught was luckily to catch the band live twice — a Union Pool set shortly after the release of Junior and a headlining M for Montreal set at Montreal’s Le National that was in my opinion one of the best live sets I caught that year. The band is creating up for a headlining, Stateside tour that begins with a show at Rough Trade tomorrow night, as well as appearances at this year’s SXSW and their first ever shows in Florida. The band recently extended its international tour to support their critically applauded third album, with an extensive series of UK and French dates. (You can check out the tour dates below.)
In the meantime, Junior’s latest single is the slow-burning “Grand cheval.” Centered around shimmering guitars, a propulsive and steady bass line and drumbeat, the band’s gorgeous harmonizing and atmospheric synths, “Grand cheval.” may arguably be the prettiest song on the album — and the most bittersweet. “The song is inspired by a grumpy old man, who came to bother us in a park once,” Corridor’s Jonathan Robert says in press notes. “He talked about mediocre poetry and philosophies of life, while asking us for cigarettes and beers. When we asked him to leave us alone, he became angry, climbed on his high horse (grand cheval) and became this old demagogue belittling the youth.”
Directed by and featuring animation by Chad VanGaalen, the recently released video is a surrealistic and hallucinogenic fever dream set on a brightly colored alien world with rising snow, where we follow a lonely alien gatherer. “I sewed a jacket, pants, and hat to rotoscope myself as this alien gatherer,” Chad VanGaalen explains in press notes. “Everything was drawn onto a malfunctioning 15-year old Cintiq. You can buy them for $20 on eBay, although I wouldn’t recommend it. The music made the snow fall up and not down. No matter what I did on Final Cut, it would always fall up. I filled my body and mind with many ingredients in order to go from monocular to trinocular, now my vision is blurry but my tailored clothing feels amazing. I can’t believe it is finished.”