New Music: Mary Beth Carty’s ‘Les Biens​-Nommés’

Mary Beth Carty (formerly of Bette and Wallet),  recently released her debt album ‘Les Biens​-Nommés‘ and she might not be just launching a solo career, but pushing herself into the forefront of the next big genre.

Remember when Mumford & Sons came out and all of a sudden the world exploded with banjos and suspenders? It was the soundtrack of beard oil, flannel shirts, and craft beer that gave birth to hipster culture. You might have groaned about it, but how many guys do you know who still have an undercut and sculpted moustache?

Accordion could be the next big thing. Soon we’ll all be indulging in sarmale, swapping out Pabst for Timisoreana, and plaid button-ups for open silk blouses. Which is fine. It’s about time that lumberjacks got their culture back. Better to spread the love around through a cultural Ponzi scheme. We’ll borrow a sound from Romania, throw in plenty of instrumentals, and sing it all in French.

“I almost put some Gaelic in it too so it was almost a trilingual album… A little too unfocused, though,” says Carty of her album-shaped melting pot. “I became fluent in French as an adult while living in an apartment in Québec City with a bunch of musicians and artists, where there was a clandestine bar and nightly communal meals. I associate French with good times, romance, and friendship.”

‘Les Bien-Nommés’ opens dramatically with ‘Yvon’, leaving you expectant like the first moments of a film. It’s ominous, but it’s also accordion. It’s not quite Star Wars, but serious enough that it’s not Space Balls either.

From there it takes a remarkable turn into something quirky and charming. It’s expressive to the point that it’s easy to forget that Carty is singing in French for most of the album, with the accordion easily taking centre stage as its first language.

As per the album’s name, the song titles ramble off a cast of characters like someone turned a Yann Tiersen soundtrack on its head. Suddenly it’s the story trying to keep pace with the music, but Carty doesn’t care to elaborate much. She playfully uses the ambiguity (not to mention how poorly I remember French immersion) to tell tales about what she suggests may or may not have been going on in her personal life.

“I’m shy so I like it when people don’t understand my little stories… These are code names, sometimes loosely based on real people’s middle names, obscured details, exaggerated, sometimes psychedilified.”

Regardless of the language ‘Les Bien-Nommés’ is one of the most fun and exciting albums we’ve heard this year, and an example of how the accordion might have been the most underutilized instruments in pop music.