Love stories gone wrong, heart aches and other reflections on entangled relationships occupy Steph Mercier’s brain, as he writes songs with the Niagara Falls trio James Blonde. To his own admission on one of their songs, he is “hopelessly romantic”. And it shows.

Mercier has a great talent for writing awesome pop hooks that simply transports the listener. The second song of their second album, entitled Heartbreak, has an infectious groove as efficient as hit songs from Crystal Castles or Imaginary Dragons. James Blonde wake up the neighborhood when they pick up the electric guitars on Cynical, another potential smash hit, this time for the alternative pop rock air waves.


Bandmates Phil Taylor, on drums, and bassman Neil Carson create an efficient environment for singer and guitarist Mercier to express his feelings about frustrated love and complicated relationships. The three of them also have the talent to spin a song around, like they do on Sea of Hearts. Just as the song was getting a bit predictable, they bring in an unexpected twist which pleases the ears. Love it!

Their eponymous album is a great record for a pop rock band that could follow in the traces of the likes of Arctic Monkeys… if they resist the call of pleasing kids with sugar pop songs. Way back in 2000, the band had released a first opus, “International Orange”.

We’ll see how this Canadian band continues to evolve after this very solid start.


James Blonde
(Independant, 2017)

-Genre: pop rock
-In the same style as Crystal Castles, Jason Bajada, Arctic Monkeys

Buy the album on the band’s BandCamp page
Follow the band via their Facebook page
Listen to videos on the band’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.