You’re forgiven if you start lacing up your Doc Martens upon hearing the penultimate track on Tromper le Temps, the latest album by Canadian folk outfit Le Vent du Nord. Before a chord is struck or a verse sung, the listener is treated to the always ominous sound of jackboots hitting terra firma, immediately calling to mind the iconic volley of fascist marching that kicks off the Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks. But here, the hup-hup of feet pounding in lockstep is not followed by Johnny Rotten sneering “God Save the Queen”; it ain’t that kind of party. On the a capella “Le Diable et le Fermier” (The Devil and the Farmer), the Québécois quartet sounds like it’s storming the Bastille with a traditional political song (sung, of course, en Français) that envisions the devil as a greedy landowner.
Needless to say, Le Vent du Nord (The North Wind) are custom-made for Eugene audiences, who are as equally conversant with metal and hip hop as they are with the mighty wind of Irish neo-folk: These four young men, versed in such unplugged instruments as the hurdy gurdy, bouzouki and something called a diatonic button accordion, have taken Celtic music filtered through the Québécois tradition and hopped it up with vitality and innovation. Think Richard Thompson playing “La Marseillaise” on a twelve-string acoustic, and you’ve got an idea of the sound of Le Vent du Nord.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the band, which retains founding Nicolas Boulerice and Olivier Demers as well as longtime Nord’ners Réjean Brunet and Simon Beaudry. Since 2002, Le Vent du Nord have won more folk music awards than Alka’s got Seltzer, and their live gigs are notoriously raucous — foot-tapping, hand-slapping hootenannies that will test the 2/4 timing of our local folkies. Grab a copy of the excellent Tromper le Temps and drop the needle on the first three tunes — the haunting “Lettre A Durham” (Letter to Durham), the galloping “Le Dragon de Chimay” (The Chimay Dragon) and “Adieu Marie,” a lilting love song with one hell of a hook — to get a taste for the band’s range and virtuosity. Then get on your Guinness and sortir en boîte ce soir.
Le Vent du Nord play 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 9, at The Shedd; $15.25-$27.