JF Robitaille
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JF Robitaille

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk Rock

Calendar

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Disc review
by Kevin Laforest – July 7, 2011 Add comment ?
Formerly of The Social Register, JF Robitaille was supposed to release his first proper solo LP in 2008 (on the heels of The Blood in My Body EP), but problems with New York label Rhythm Bank forced him to scrap it and start over, back home in Montreal. The result is Calendar, an intimate, soothing album ideal for late-night or early morning listening sessions. With their gentle folk melodies and melancholy lyrics, many tracks sound as if they were pulled from the Leonard Cohen songbook (When We Say Goodbye, Winters Like These, Close to Love, etc.). Others, such as Enemies, which features The Dears’ Murray Lightburn on keys, display a poppier, Beatles-like vibe. Wonderful stuff, really.

- Hour Community


JF Robitaille: Calendar

Montreal singer-songwriter JF Robitaille has released a spectacular – yet understated – album of folk-rock. You can hear a classic Montreal influence to his music: the poetic, pensive lyrics and gentle and bleak vocals are eerily reminiscent of a young Leonard Cohen.

Accompanied mainly by the acoustic guitar, the album cannot escape from that mid-1960’s feel, but that’s part of the its charm; with the exception of “For Better Or Worse”, and “The New Girl”, the music of the disc is not overproduced or overcomplicated.

This is a solid album in spite of the occasional intrusive nature of the instrument and production choices; if the whole album had been left stripped-down and unplugged, it would have been utterly perfect.

JF Robitaille: Calendar – 8.5/10

Independent
- Confront Magazine


JF RobitailleCalendarReviews Folk & Country Jul 05 2011
By Nereida Fernandes
Montreal singer-songwriter JF Robitaille lives up to expectations for most of Calendar, the much-anticipated follow-up to his solo debut EP, The Blood in My Body. Robitaille's songs remain luminous throughout the record even while taking on a tone of pensive resignation. Framing his introspections in the weighty stillness of barebones instrumentation and unhurried, whispery vocals, his languid epiphanies become the album's standout songs. Opener "Modern Love," along with "Winters Like These," "The City Trembles" and "Close to Love," is hauntingly beautiful, as is the psych-folk-inspired title track. Perhaps Robitaille felt he needed to balance the record, interspersing it with the fuller sound of some jangle pop derivative loaded with calculated hooks. Instead, those cuts break the spell without adding much to the album's value. His previous EP boasted songs that were intimate and still sonically lush, hinting at Robitaille's immense potential. As he comes into his own, that potential will surely bring us a full-length that consolidates the strengths of both of these records.
(Blue Cardinal) - Exclaim


Picture that time you watched Independence Day, but add blankets, cookie dough and tears…oh and subtract the horrible mediocrity of the film, and you’ll find yourself with the makings of a soft-spoken yet shattering folk album. Tinged with melancholy, JF Robitaille’s new pop-folk offering evokes goodbyes, trembling cities and broken memories. Illustrating the apocalypse of the broken heart, this Montreal local draws heavily from the urban landscape which becomes the backdrop for midnight rambling.


Benefiting from his stylistic proximity with such artists as Leonard Cohen, Richard Hawley and Hayden, JF Robitaille has harmoniously compiled well-versed and melodic songs in his album Calendar. With a title which relates to changing times and scheduled futures, the album explores the ways in which certain memories fade in and out of existence and illustrates Man’s desire to freeze time.

Subtle melodies such as that featured in the song “When we Say Goodbye” remind the Celtic ballads delivered by The Pogues in the 80’s. Clearly illustrating the theme of stasis which resonates throughout the album, Robitaille sings “The words just hang there on nights like this where I just stand where I’ve stood so many times before”. Literally creating little snapshots through his lyrics, JF Robitaille vividly depicts space and time thus drawing the listener into his headspace.

In terms of production value, the sound is raw and unfiltered which allows for more of a live feel. Featuring mostly melancholic folk ballads, the album also offers a few more upbeat songs like “For Better or Worse” and “The New Girl” which present a fuller sound. The pace of Calendar lacks a bit in cadence, but redeems itself in sheer honesty, skilful imagery and soft melodies.

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Pros: Great melodies, Nicely rendered images

Cons: The Pace

NOMAG : 3.5 / 5
- Nomag


JF ROBITAILLE
Calendar
(Blue Cardinal)
It’s been a long five years since the last release by this local singer-songwriter (frontman for the long defunct Social Register). A deal with a label in NYC, a promising EP, a shelved record, a return to Montreal and a personal life (presumably?) in flux—all this has been fodder for a stellar folk-pop record, its classic melodies, structures and balance of raw and polished finish recalling such 60s and 70s greats as Cohen, Dylan, Lennon, even a touch of the Temptations. 8/10 Trial Track: “The New Girl” (Lorraine Carpenter) With Sea Oleena at Divan Orange, Tues., June 21, 10 p.m.


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- Montreal Mirror


Discography

Blood In My Body (EP: 2006)
Calendar (LP: 2011)

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Bio

Biography

JF Robitaille

Calendar

Blue Cardinal Records / Release date: July 5th 2011

He's lived in London and New York City, unfurling his folk-pop intimations across their stages, impressing their audiences (and occasionally their label reps), but fate keeps bringing JF Robitaille back to Montreal. Not only do his hometown roots bind him to family and friends, they lock into a musical landscape that has produced legendary folk poets and world-dominating pop ensembles.

When Robitaille was discovered singing in a New York City bar by Nona “Lady Marmalade” Hendryx in 2006, he'd already made music his career. Montrealers remember his thinking man's indie rock band, The Social Register, launched at the inaugural edition of the Pop Montreal festival in 2002. Prior to that, he'd released a DIY solo record, and hauled his acoustic guitar across London for a year. But it was only when he reverted to solo work that he began to turn heads across the continent.

Recorded by Howard Bilerman at Hotel2Tango (the Montreal producer and studio behind Arcade Fire's Funeral), Robitaille's six-song EP, The Blood in My Body, was released in 2007 via Hendryx's label, Rhythmbank. Critics were practically unanimous in their praise, comparing Robitaille to such indelible songwriters as Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Del Shannon, Morrissey even The Velvet Underground. Between residency gigs at NYC's Pianos, and supporting sets for the likes of St. Vincent, Julie Doiron, Jonathan Richman, The Dears and Sean Lennon, he continued to write and record in that vein, straddling folk and pop, darkness and light with poetic gloom and melodic beauty.

But the LP that emerged, fully recorded and mastered, will likely never be heard. When Rhythmbank folded in 2008, the album fell into a legal black hole, forcing Robitaille to start over.

His first move was homeward, to Montreal. After penning a dozen new songs, he recruited drummer Chris Wise (Elephant Stone, Sunfields), bassist Tavo Diez De Bonilla (Jenn Grant, Two Minute Miracles) and guitarist Andrew Johnston as his back-up band. Producer and onetime Tricky Woo guitarist Adrian Popovich recorded Calendar, and even strapped on a six-string to play on “The New Girl.” Other one-track cameos include keys by Dears singer Murray Lightburn (“Enemies”), who hosted pre-production sessions in his basement studio, drums by Dears alumnus/High Dials member George Donoso III (“For Better or Worse”), and guitar by Jason Kent of Sunfields (“Everything's Broken Here”). Infusions of cello, harmonica and organs that simulate woodwinds and brass bring richness, but not opulence, to a raw-sounding folk record with temporary pop highs and raucous tangents.

For a record mired in romantic discord and loss, existential malaise and nostalgia, Calendar is as easy on the heart as it is on the ears. As smart and incisive as they are tender and vulnerable, and surprisingly light on bitterness and cynicism, Robitaille's lyrics match the melancholy tide of his music--subject to change with currents, wont to crest and to recede, and guaranteed to return to familiar ground.

Lorraine Carpenter