Lisbonne Télégramme came about as the result of long distance emailing between Maritza Bossé-Pelchat and François Dufault of Montréal’s The Blue Seeds. Maritza (originally a contestant on the inaugural season of the French-Canadian TV show Star Académie), had taken a sabbatical from Québec in 2012 and was holed-up in the beautiful port city of Lisbon. The correspondence between the pair cemented their collaboration and upon her return to Canada, Maritza and François enlisted fellow The Blue Seeds members Martin Farmer and Eric Rathé, and Lisbonne Télégramme was born.
The fruits of their labours is the band’s debut album, “Miroir d’Automne”, a collection of nine intensely melancholic, atmospheric and spellbinding songs of love – or more accurately, hurt – hope and fear and introduces us to Maritza, who demonstrates that she would be more at home on “La Voix” than in any ‘Star Academy’.
The album opens with melancholy “Au loin” a deceptively simple country-folk tinged number that features a gorgeous weeping slide guitar and introduces us to Maritza’s voice – mournful, seductive, hypnotic.
Theme of love – or more often and accurately, aching hurt – are ones that recurs over and over again. The overwhelming mood of melancholy that is “Je n’ose plus” and a middle eight of sombre piano that perfectly captures the mood of the song, while “Autumn mirrors” features a haunting piano melody which focus attention on the beguiling vocals. The song features deft touches of violin and harmonious choruses, especially on the angelic coda.
And then there are the songs that highlight the pain of separation, especially “Où es-tu?”, a song framed by Sophie Trudeau’s (of Montréal’s avant-garde post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor) sympathetic violin, its omnipresence during the song’s chorus amplifies the hurt that distance brings.
However the two standout tracks upon first listening are “Fugitive”, with its majestic Mellotron and heavily reverbed guitar that creates a soundtrack that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Sergio Leone western. There’s an orchestral quality that is perfectly married to Maritza’s deeply soulful voice. And then there’s “Bientôt”, a song which features heavily in reviews amongst the Francophone-Québec press and which has drawn comparisons with Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” To these ears the song – a powerful tale of a fiery maelstrom engulfing the city and it’s inhabitants – offers hints of both Forêt and the much missed Hôtel Morphée. It’s a really atmospheric track that bristles with an undercurrent of menace and offer a noticeable change of pace and depth, suggesting that Lisbonne Télégramme have much more to offer.
Awwwww….(and: how can you indeed?)
How to get the attention of this blog? Pepper your bio with phrases like these: “Serge Gainsbourg was her mother’s favourite artist, so the first record Charlotte was given was his “Love On The Beat” (“full of orgasms – what was she thinking?”), before the more artful designs of David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges captured her blossoming imagination. The first song she ever wrote survived to become the title track on her first personal salvo.”
It does not mean the attention of this blog is immediate: Charlotte Marionneau (the Charlotte mentioned above) is making records since the end of the 90s, the debut album of her ‘band’ Le Volume Courbe was released in 2005. She worked with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, yet this is the first time she’s featured on FS. Ahem. Better late then never, eh?
Credit to DJ St. Paul for turning me to Charlotte/Le Volume Courbe. The House is a catchy single, with Charlotte’s breathy vocals sitting pretty on a driving indie-guitar groove, with added strings. Broadcast is an obvious reference. Every now and then, Marionneau sings in French, also on the cool, slow b-side of this single. Alas, no full orgasms here.
Laurine Pilarski hails from Lille and when she’s not too busy writing screen plays and scripts for the court-métrage “Craquer pour elle” she’s writing, composing and singing delightfully intimate folk-tinged pop-songs in both French and English.
With an EP promised ‘when it’s ready’, she’s released a handful of tracks on Bandcamp that highlight not only her honey-dripped vocals, but also her multi-lingual song-writing and composition skills. All these songs are incredibly soothing, wistful and intimate. Perhaps this is what her bio means when it suggests that …her sorrows, they’re yours. Her songs, they’re talking about you…? The sweetness of her voice on these tracks is perfectly matched by Romain Parmentier’s acoustic guitar. There’s an overwhelming tranquillity to her sound that is just perfect for walking solitary on a deserted beach as the waves gently crash ashore.
Laurine lists amongst her musical influences Emilie Simon – with whom she sounds at times uncannily similar – and interestingly the tormented geniuses that were Nick Drake and the American singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, which is discernible on the totally beguiling “Just friends”, performed in her whispering English.
But it’s the achingly beautiful “La fille à l’arrière des berlines” that first grabbed my attention, and as we tend to like ‘les filles qui chantent en français’ here, this is the track that I’ve selected for your listening pleasure…
CdP recorded the song also in English, listen below
See her perform the song (and some old faves) on Canadian The Voice (La Voix) HERE
Maybe somebody noticed that Jacques Dutronc was missing from the big wave of tribute albums that crashes French coastlines almost every year. Maybe the 72nd birthday is something of an occassion in Franca. Maybe Jacques isn’t doing well. Maybe somebody thought, what the heck, why not have a string of big French names record a JD-cover? Whatever the reason was, April 28th marked the 72nd birthday of Dutronc, and the release of Bon anniversaire M’sieur Dutronc (Spotify link). Artists like Zaz, Miossec, Brigitte (great version of ‘Opium’, the duet JD recorded with Bambou), Camelia Jordana and JD’s son Thomas all recorded covers. Below, you can watch Zaz sing ‘Il est 5 heures’.
Ready to jump into Elli & Jacno-territory again? Hollydays is a French duo (Elise and Sébastien) who made a little name for themselves with a cover of Niagara’s classic L’Amour a la plage (watch), an acoustic version that got a fairly nice remix (this one) and who debuted last year with an EP with 80s referring synthipop (here). They keep up that reference on their new 3-track EP, featuring this track (video):
Mark Sullivan offers an April surprise
To welcome in Spring, here is Juliette Gréco in a wonderful performance of Gainsbourg’s ‘La Javanaise’ live on TV in 1991, with Gérard Jouannest at the piano – new on Youtube.
While we wait for the new albums expected in 2015 from Coeur de Pirate, La Grande Sophie and Barbara Carlotti – and CdP’s is not far away now – will any of them be performing their classics at the age of 64, let alone at 86, as here in 2013 at Ramatuelle?
And here is Juliette in her heyday almost 50 years ago, in 1966
with parts of ‘Jolie Môme’ and ‘Un petit poisson, un petit oiseau’ either side of an atmospheric interview, with a glimpse of Georges Brassens. (Though posted by the British Pathe News archive, it is all in French.)