2013: Leopard Skin Coat
CreditsEngineered by Paul Talbott
Mixed by David Travers-Smith
Produced by Swamperella
Soozi Schlanger: fiddle, washboard & vocals
Peter Jellard: accordion fiddle & vocals
Conny Nowé: guitar
Rachel Melas: bass
David MacDougall: drums & percussion, except
Cam Giroux: drums on tracks 2,7 & 8
Reviews of Leopard Skin Coat
Doug Swanson, Penguin Eggs, Issue No. 57, Summer 2013
Swamperella Who says you have to be born in the bayou to play authentic, inspired and zesty Cajun music? This Toronto-based zydeco unit consists of Soozi Schlanger (vocals, fiddle, washboard), Peter Jellard (vocals, accordion, fiddle), Conny Nowé (guitar) and Rachel Melas (bass).
This is an infectious, rollicking disc that justifies the exhortations on the album jacket to dance, dance, dance. There are a few originals, including the title track, a smattering of traditionals and a handful of covers - a classic gumbo. With only nine tracks, do you call it a long EP or a short album?
This is a terrific Cajun-themed release, the fourth in the band's history, a vibrant effort that deserves a listen from zydeco fans regardless of where they hail from.
Sarah Greene, NOW, Issue 1621 Vol. 32 No. 24, February 14-20, 2013
Leopard Skin Coat
Cattail Records CR-004
Cajun/zydeco group Swamperella have an antidote to the winter blues: dancing. The band's fourth album is the perfect sound track for ice skating (something I personally tested out) or any activity involving movement.
Though they're from Toronto, the five piece display an exuberance and enthusiasm for Cajun music that's as infectious as it is DIY and punk rock - they aren't purists, and let bits of rock'n roll silliness slip in throughout the album's traditional Cajun tunes and originals sung in English and French.
The warm, live-sounding production makes Leopard Skin Coat sound like it could've been released at any point in the past 20 years, though some of the cover songs are much older than that. And it's not all a party. They end with a wailing, mournful rendition of the Balfa Brothers' Valse De Balfa.
Top track: Marid Gras Jig / Zydeco Est Pas Salé, Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
2007: On The Line
CreditsProduced by John Switzer and Swamperella
Recorded in Toronto at Fearless Films
Engineered by Paul Talbott
Mastered at the Lacquer Channel by James Paul
Soozi Schlanger: vocals, lead fiddle & washboard
Peter Jellard: vocals, button accordion and fiddle
Conny Nowé: acoustic and electric guitars
Rachel Melas: acoustic and electric bass
Dave Pontello: Drums and Triangle
John Switzer: bass on 10
Burke Carroll: lap steel on 10, dobro on 6
Track List1) Bayou Pon Pon
2) Chère ici, Chère là bas [mp3]
3) Arrête Pas la Musique [mp3]
4) Courville's Breakdown
5) Tes Parents Veulent Plus Me Voir
6) Same Old You
7) Corrina Corrina
8) The Frankenstein
9) La Valse de Tout l'Monde
10) Hip et Taiau
12) Baby, Va t'en pas
13) Sans Nom
14) Valse Criminelle
15) Paper in my Shoe
16) Prends Courage
Review of On The Line in WHOLENOTE
Tiina Kiik, Wholenote, Vol. 13, No. 3, Nov 1 - Dec 7 2007
On the Line
Cattail Records CR-003
Swamperella is one of Toronto's favourite Cajun live dance bands, renowned for its toe-tapping and spontaneous performances. This enviable energy has been successfully captured on their third CD release, "On the Line".
Even though almost half of the tracks are the band's arrangements of traditional Cajun compositions, covers such as B. Chavis' Paper in My Shoe elevate the band's status to “authentic” purveyors of the Zydeco style. Band members Soozi Schlanger (vocals, lead fiddle, washboard), Peter Jellard (vocals, button accordions, fiddle), Conny Nowe (acoustic and electric guitars), Rachel Melas (acoustic and electric bass) and Dave Pontello (drums and triangle) really do love what they are playing. The result is a well-rehearsed tight band with a firm grip on a musical style which is not the easiest to master. The biggest surprises are two original songs. Schlanger's vocals on her heart wrenching song Same Old You are unforgettable. Button accordionist Peter Jellard's instrumental Frankenstein is a rhythmical and melodic marvel for the instrument with a superb backing by the rest of the band.
Co-produced by Swamperella and studio genius John Switzer, the sound quality is first rate. It is also good to hear Switzer play bass as a special guest along with Burke Carroll on lap steel and dobro. My only disappointment was the fact that I could not locate the song lyrics that the liner notes stated could be found on the band's website!
The cold weather is coming. Warm yourself up by putting on your dancing shoes and getting “On the Line” with Swamperella.
Review of On The Line in NOW
Jason Keller, NOW, November 8 - 14, 2007, Vol.27, No. 10
It's hard to believe Swamperella singer Soozi Schlanger is a latecomer to Cajun music. The Toronto native discovered her passion at middle age, but sings the genre like she's got gumbo in her blood.
On their third effort, the Gladstone Hotel fixtures keep it party-centric with the jiggy waltz of Bayou Pon and the quick-stepping Zydeco boogie of Chère Ici, Chère Là Bas, where accordionist Peter Jellard takes over energetically on vocals.
However, at 16 songs, On The Line inevitably becomes background music – somewhere after song 11, a plaintive instrumental ode to the Katrina tragedy.
Review of On The Line in L'EXPRESS
(Translated) Dominique Denis, Journal L'Express, September 2007
...Indeed, it’s true that it’s on the stage, when the spotlights go on and the couples hit the dance floor, that you get the full Swamperella effect. So it would be foolish to expect a studio album to fully reflect this synergy.
And yet, ON THE LINE is the product of a well-oiled machine, well-oiled over many years of honing its craft, fluidly steering between Cajun and Zydeco, thus reflecting the dual nature-white and black- of their adopted heritage.
While Corrina Corrina, propelled by a beat that owes more to New Orleans than to the Bayou, sets up for a fiery fiddle solo by Soozi Schlanger , the delightfully primitive Prenez Courage, a tribute to Cleoma Breaux, is an affectionate wink to the Acadian origins of much of the traditional repertoire of Louisiana.And if the group probes this repertoire to extract delightful nuggets (Valse Criminelle), these sit naturally next to Cajunizations of country songs (Arrete pas la Musique is borrowed from George Jones), Swamperella enriches this heritage with their own creations, such as the delightful Same Old You, with its scent of sadness floating somewhere between the Grand Olde Opry and a roadhouse somewhere in the back country of Louisiana.
2004: Black Cat Boogie
CreditsProduced by John Switzer and Swamperella
Recorded at Rogue Studios
Engineered by James Paul and Stew Crookes
Soozi Schlanger: vocals and lead fiddle
Peter Jellard: vocals, accordion and fiddle
lead fiddle on tracks 7 & 12
Conny Nowé guitar ,vocals. drums on 16
Rachel Melas: bass, vocals. triangle on 17
Dave Pontello: snare drum on 1, 14.
Mark Duggan: snare drum and triangle
John Adames: snare drum on 9
Burke Carroll: lap steel and dobro on tracks 5,9 &13
Track List1) Le Crépe à Nazare [mp3]
2) Braille pas, Jolis Petits Yeux Bleus [mp3]
3) Hé Mom
4) Single Row Zydeco
5) Waltz for One
6) Reel du Homard
7) Bee de la Manche
8) La Valse de Grande Mamou
9) Black Cat Boogie
10) Waltz of Too Many Goodbyes
11) Ton Papa me Jette Dehors
12) Reel Cajun / One Step des McGees
13) Je T'aime Encore
14) Midnight Playboy Special
15) La Malheureuse
16) Hotel Gladstone Two Step / Watermelon Reel
17) Les Barres de la Prison
Review of Black Cat Boogie in GOLDMINE
Hank Davis, Goldmine, September 30, 2005 Vol 31, No 20, issue 657
I really love Swamperella. I reviewed their first CD enthusiastically back in 2001 and wondered quietly whether it all might have been a fluke. Turns out it wasn't. Swamperella, the Toronto Cajun band, have just produced their second CD, Black Cat Boogie, and I’m falling in love with their music all over again. This band delights and surprises - they are not your typical Cajun band. For one, three of the four members are women. They also take the Cajun tradition very seriously. None of these musicians are from Louisiana, but they've made a real effort to understand its musical heritage. But Swamperella aren't a bunch of boring academics whose music is better suited to a PBS documentary than a dance floor. In fact, the band regularly performs at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, on of Queen Street's most exciting live venues. Their regular gigs often include Louisiana cuisine and Cajun dancing, complete with lessons for the uninitiated. They are geared to good times, but you can learn something if you don't treat their music like wallpaper. And, by the way, the Cajuns were right: the triangle is a wonderful percussion instrument.
There are lots of Cajun bands out there whose music often degenerates into Zydeco, which is often an excuse to play electric blues and boogie. This is far from what you get with Swamperella. The 17 tracks on Black Cat provide plenty of opportunity to dance, but they also remind you that Cajun music is often melodic and beautiful. Although Swamperella's audience is often English speaking, 11 of the tracks on this CD are titled or performed in French. The disc kicks off with the joyous and infectious "La Crep A Nazare," which positively sizzles. Fiddle player Soozi Schlanger, who pours her Cajun soul into the vocals, offers a wonderful reading on "Braille Pas, Jolis Petits Yeux Bleux," a song as bluesy as it is beautiful. Even regular dance tunes, such as "He Mom," manage to be gorgeous and memorable. To their credit, the band members transform even the most routine boogie tracks such as "Single Row Zydeco" into memorable fare with a minor chord here, a rhythmic hook there. On "Waltz For One" - one of the seven original compositions - Schlanger reverts to English and presents a lovely country-styled opus about loneliness. For variety, Swamperella crosses the border into Texas and come back with a touch of Western swing on the title track.
The least distinguished tracks are confined wisely to the final third of the disc. These performances are perfectly suited to the dance floor but lack the striking features that make the opening tracks so powerful. Special notice goes to the CD's closer, the amazing "Les Barres De La Prison." Ad some surface noise and it would be right at home on an anthology of Cajun music from 1932. The performance is dissonant and downright eerie in the most compelling ways. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's here for fans of authentic Cajun music - even if you have to wait for track 17 to hear it.
Once again I find myself recommending a self-produced album by a local Canadian band. At the risk of being accused of heresy, too much Cajun music today has become a simple kick-ass boogie with an accordion thrown in for good measure. Swamperella are so much more than that. Visit their Web site (www.swamperella.com) and support their attempts to bring real Cajun music to a wider audience.
CreditsProduced by David Travers-Smith
Soozi Schlanger: vocals and lead fiddle
Shelley Zubot: vocals, triangle and washboard
Peter Jellard: vocals, accordion and fiddle
Conny Nowé: guitar and vocals
Dave Szigeti: bass and vocals
Matt Haney: steel guitar on tracks 2, 9, 11
Steve Fruitman: washboard on 7, 14
Rachel Melas: triangle on 6
Burke Carroll: dobro on 14
Track List1) Bosco Stomp
2) Livin`A Lie
3) La Queue de Tortue / Hicks Wagon Wheel Special
4) Ma Chère Bébé Creole
5) Blues de Prison
6) Barres de la Prison
7) Les Blues du Cadien [ MP3 ]
8) La Valse à August Breaux
9) Ossun Blues
10) The Waltz That Finished in the Corner of the House
11) Jeunes Filles de la Campagne
12) Chère Bassette
13) 'Tit Galop Pour Mamou
14) Bonsoir Moreau
15) Sooz Blues
by Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star March 22nd, 2001
Swamperella, which has been partying it up for the past four years in these parts, is about to launch its debut CD, with 15 stomping tracks on its self-titled album. Three vocalists, who double on other instruments, pound out waltz and two-step tunes in an upbeat manner defying listeners to stay seated. The spirited singers are Soozi Schlanger, who also plays fiddle, Shelley Zubot (triangle, washboard) and Peter Jellard (fiddle, accordion), while Conny Nowé, veteran of the local alternative music scene, on guitar and Rachel Melas on bass will keep the rhythmic pot stirring... Formed four years ago and veterans of events like Mardi Gras bashes at the Gladstone, Fem Cabaret at Nightwood Theatre, Lilith Fair, heritage and milk festivals, they're assuredly a fun listen. The femme quotient makes for fascinating two-part harmonies on the CD - Cajun country isn't exactly a haven for female singers - and the group has no problem incorporating languorous county licks, Celt-style fiddling and a touch of the blues, with most lyrics sung in Louisiana French. Hot CD spots are "Bosco Stomp," "Blues de Prison," the high-register wails on "La Valse de August Breaux," the springy "Waltz that Finished In The Corner of the House," a flying "Jeunes Filles de la Campagne" and a murky Delta-blues drenched "Sooz Blues," Schlanger coming off like Maria Muldaur. This is the music of western Louisiana, authentic old-style with a smattering of original material tossed into the southern stew. It's sentimental to be sure, but it pumps with life.
Here's how to get your Swamperella CDs:
Black Cat Boogie, On the Line and Leopard Skin Coat can be downloaded from CD Babyor you can buy CDs directly from the band by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org