Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project doesn’t completely abandon the trappings of bluegrass on J’ai Bu, but delights in fucking with its structure.
There is only one genre that can awaken an insatiable urge in me to consume as much of that genre as possible, and that is bluegrass. Usually it just takes the violin/banjo melody of Trampled by Turtles’ “Wait So Long” to get me going, so I was thrilled to see that a band exists with “bluegrass” right in its name and that said band also seems to be delightfully self-aware. I knew immediately that Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project’s J’ai Bu (translated roughly as “I drank”) would not be a traditional bluegrass album by any means with opener “Jig-A-Loo”, an ode to a machine lubricant.
Put simply, vocalist Jean-Philippe Tremblay sounds like someone born to be a rapper but instead joined a bluegrass band. Even if I fully understood French, I still couldn’t catch half the words he says. This never-ending, seemingly breathless torrent of words is only one of the Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project’s super-weapons: the band also delights in fucking with structure, like the seemingly random changes in pace of “Me d’mandait ma blonde” (fun fact: “blonde” appears to be slang for “girlfriend). Q.R.B.P. doesn’t completely abandon the trappings of bluegrass, of course, incorporating some wonderful fiddle, upright bass, and a healthy amount of yodeling throughout.
While this may sound like an overwhelming tide of stuff going on with one band, it’s what makes J’ai Bu so much fun. There’s not a single dull moment to be had. Take “Mange-moé l’pad”, a four-minute lyrical journey into hell. At one point, Tremblay’s lyrics turn into actual gibberish. Or there’s the whiplash of “Ma’me Painchaud,” perhaps best described as a bluegrass song with thrash metal influences. A ten-minute stream-of-consciousness song about random places in Quebec, Canadian unity in hating America, and the appeals of dumpster diving more your speed? Sure, give “Guerres de clocher” a try! Given my anglo brain, the oft-repeated English line in this song, “Now we’re gonna eat like kings, motherfucker”, will not leave my head.
Tremblay’s lyrics are also delightfully clever and often bizarre, like in “Radio Bingo”, in which the narrator lists a variety of jobs he’s previously held, such as (translated roughly) “cow eviscerator”, “noble mold gatherer”, “insecticide field picker”, and “toaster and bread greaser”. There’s “Bleu diesel”, where the song’s narrator tries to escape from the roar of machines, only for diesel fumes to overtake his senses.
J’ai Bu is a roaring romp in a 4X4 as it travels through a muddy field; you never know when it’ll swerve, rev up, or throw you out of the vehicle.