I reviewed the Sainte Catherines record Dancing For Decadence for Skyscraper a couple summers ago. I thought they were pretty decent, and as luck would have it, I ended up in Montreal a couple months later, days before The Sainte Catherines were to play a big show commemorating (I believe) their 500th show as a band. We just missed that show, but fate smiled on us as The Sainte Catherines countrified alter-egos Yesterday's Ring were playing shows that weekend to celebrate the release of their Back From El Rancho EP. The club was right down the street from out hotel, a small Brownies (RIP) sized place that put the six-piece band pretty much in the crowd for their set. It was a sweaty, raucous affair that won me over even though a lot of the set was in French. It didn't stop me from snapping up all of their records that I could find, and ordering the rest when I got back to NYC.
Fast forward a couple of years to Yesterday's Ring announcing a new record was in the works and then to a second announcement a month or so later from Virgil at Suburban Home that he was going to Chicago to try to get the boys to release the new record on Suburban Home. Luckily things worked out. I can't think of a better combination of artist and label. The record is called Diamonds In The Ditch and does little to dispel the notion that Yesterday's Ring are a French-Canadian version of The Pogues. All the ingredients to a good record are here: steel guitar, mariachi accordian, Telecasters. You really can't go wrong.
The songs on Diamonds In The Ditch split the difference nicely between raucous rave-ups and dark tales of heartbreak and loss; sixteen tracks in total, all representing Montreal to the fullest. If Yesterday's Ring aren't shouting out the city outright, they are singing about missing it. Montreal is a pretty magical city, and the women are beautiful. Frankly, hearing Diamonds In The Ditch makes me want to move there now. Scrabble Strip Club and Moving Back (To Montreal) are two of the higher points, but truthfully there is very little in the way of low points. Saved By The Belle finds singer Hugo Mudie deviating from his normal Tim Armstrong school of elocution to sing in an oddly Jon Bon Jovi esque tone, but that isn't bad so much as weird. Trust me on this: you want to pick up Diamonds In The Ditch. Avail yourself of this handy link to preorder it from the good folk of Suburban Home, then go to their social networking engine and pester them to come Stateside for some shows.