Archive for November, 2011
On his new album “In Paris”, German entertainer Götz Alsmann gives a lot of classic French tunes a quite special treatment. On his version of Charles Trenet’s La Mer, he sounds every bit as brisk and snappy as Hauptmann Ernst Jünger when he played the piano for the rest of the German Kommandostab at the Parisian Hotel Majestic in 1941. The only difference probably is that Jünger had a more trendy haircut, and a significantly groovier swing.
Blonde, Beatrice Martin’s second album, is everything I hoped it would be. And more. I’m her slave, forever. Can’t talk right now, must listen.
UPDATE: Here’s my track-by-track review. Blonde, by the way, refers to Beatrice’s hair-colour, to misconceptions about blondes, and to being a girlfriend (blonde means girlfriend in French) or ‘the other half’.
Lève tes voiles. Sounds like a christmas carol, sung by a children’s choir. They sing something like: ‘sail, white boats, look for new ways.’
Adieu: The fantastic single, with it’s Bo Diddley-like beat, Béatrice says goodbye to her lover. Saying goodbye, evaluating relationships, that’s a recurring theme on this album.
Danse et danse: Yé-yé pop is a big musical influence, this is a dramatic (with jabs of strings, harmonica, fuzzy guitars) pop song, it sounds like a twist on Gainsbourgs La javanaise-theme (lovers for one night, one song): ‘Tu dis que ‘I’m your only one’. C’est ça, prends moi pour une conne’.
Golden baby: Organ, strings, up-tempo beat, great piano-melodies. If you liked Comme des Enfants, you’ll love this one. Lyric-wise, this could be about Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash (and Armistice).
Ava: It doesn’t get more retro than this. Boom-clack-a-boom. First time brass-demigod Colin Stetson appears on this album, with some honkin’ saxes. Great song.
Loin d’ici: Again, very retro, with a country-twist. Slide-guitars galore, in fact. Think Armistice, no, think Loretty Lynn. Sam Roberts is her duet partner, he has a the right ‘sob’ in his voice. Excellent track.
Les amours dévouées: Mariachi’d up country. LOVE the production on this. Sweeping violins, you can easily picture this as the title track of a Morricone-like western. Lots of drama in the lyrics.
Place de la République: Best song on the album? Béatrice and her piano, singing about a fling, that meant more than she expected it would. Marvellous string-arrangement. B’s only 22. And she wrote this. And more. Colin Stetson again on brass. Longest track on the album (a little over 4 minutes, most tracks are about 2.30 minutes long)
Cap diamant: Just piano and voice. Simply beautiful. ‘Ne me laisse plus ici, ne me laisse plus cette fois’
Verseau: Love this, ye-ye-ye. A song about (an) Aquarius. I guess you know who you are.
Saint-Laurent: Written together with Malinowski. Very sixties, with bells, lap-steel and organ. Song about a girl waiting for her king, who’s adored by several girls.
La petite mort: String-intro, then B. and her piano. Gorgeous waltz. We all know what le petite mort is, right? Again, I picture this in a movie. Beatrice sounds very, very fragile in this song. Should’ve been the last track on the album.
Hôtel Amour: Colin Stetson plays cornet on this track. ‘Les murs me disent que te quitteras cette fois’, Beatrice sings. A song in the vein of Armistice-tracks (or with a heavy Calexico-influence, if you like), but it seems like it doesn’t get wings, if you know what I mean. Of all the songs on the album, this one makes the least impression.
Though she never sung in French (as far as I know), Hope Sandoval is one of THE penultimate Filles Sourires. So when word got out that she teamed up again with David Roback to reform country-noir band Mazzy Star, my heart jumped with joy. The first two songs of a new album are great, especially Common Burn. Listen to those tracks HERE. More great news, the Spanish band Litoral recorded a beautiful cover of Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You in French, for their upcoming album. Listen/download that one HERE (thank you DJ Triplegym).
Les Grands Espaces, Isa Boulay’s new album, is produced by Benjamin Biolay. He plays various instruments, most notably organ and trumpet on the Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra-cover Summer Wine. And yes, Biolay takes on the Hazlewood-role of the silver spurred cowboy who’s seduced by the ‘strawberries, cherries and an angel’s kiss in spring’. Biolay, singing in English. Not for the first time, but hopefully this is where it ends. I don’t mind Frenchies singing in English, but Ben sounds like a comedian. Try for yourself via this streaming service. The Bio-Boulay-duet aside (Isa’s team up with Dolly Parton is a quite allright), there are some great Americana-tinged tracks on Les Grands Espaces. Voulez-vous l’amour (written by Biolay) for instance, first single Fin octobre, debut novembre but the biscuit is taken by J-L Murat’s contribution, Amour aime aussi nous voir tomber. Slow, seductive, with gentle strings, twangy guitars and Isa’s burgundy voice, this says ‘autumn leaves’ like very few else.
It is always good news when a new album of Ödland comes out. Or maybe I should say a new Ödland movie. But that is what they make: soundtracks of non existing movies. Last year, they took us to the 19the century with Ottocento, and this year they take us on a trip to Northern and Central Europe. “Sankta Lucia” is the title of this new album, and it looks wonderful. Lorenzo Papace is once again supported by singer Alizée Bingöllü (by far the most intriguing name in French music) and Léa Bingöllü and Isabelle Royet-Journoud. Dreamy, folky and very much mesmerising. As usual the artwork is stunning. Check out their website for details and look at the wonderful dreamy video’s like this one. and for your ears only, we picked this lovely song:
Ever since David Bowie ripped off La fille du père Noël for his Jean Genie, Britrockers have a thing for Jacques Dutronc. Miles Kane (singers of The Rascals, one half of The Last Shadow Puppets) confessed his love for Gainsbourg earlier, and now honours Dutronc by covering Le Responsable – in English. But still. It’s on his just-released Come Closer EP and I think it’s a very good version. Close to the original yes, but energetic and fun. See a good live-version here.
Jacques Dutronc – Le Responsable
Miles Kane – The Responsible
One of Frank Sinatra’s most famous live recordings starts with the words: „We will now do the national anthem, but you needn’t rise.“ That could as well be the introduction to the new Charles Aznavour album, Toujours. Aznavour’s songs had and still have anthem quality in a national sense, reflecting state, sense and sensibility of his country. Toujours mirrors even more: Un homme de 87 ans whose reflection still shows Charlie, his alter ego in Truffaut’s 1962 Paris noir Tirez sur le pianiste, all the desolation, longing, and heartache, blended with the picture of the French big league entertainer who even balanced most embarrassing moments with … well, style. You won’t get more Gallic sweep, pathos and sentiment for your money this year. As for Tu ne m’aime plus: 10 handkerchiefs.
Charles Aznavour – Tu ne m’aime plus
Bonus: The German version of Aznavour’s early 70s Les plaisirs démodés, beginning as a stroboscope disco funkfest, evolving into sublime adult pop and finally into a spoken word oratorio, rugged individual style.
Charles Aznavour – Tanz Wange an Wange mit mir
MM, Emma Solal and Ko & Josphine are fresh new artists who released noteworthy EPs recently.
MM is a Liège-based artist (I wouldn’t call her a singer, she speaks more than she sings) who made 8 songs about Marilyn Monroe. That’s about all I know about her. Miam Monster Miam send me the link to her Reverbnation-site, where you can listen to the songs and download A l’hotel for free. In a way, this reminds me of Benjamin Biolay’s concept-album about the Kennedy’s. MM sound intriguing, I see that’s she’s profiled in Serge magazine, I’ll keep you posted on more details when I get my hands on that.
Ko & Joséphine were already profiled in Serge magazine, that’s how I got to know this jolly duo. They hail from Bretagne, Christelle sings (and sighs a lot, just the way we like it here, listen to her giggle in ‘Supermarket’), Niko is the music guy. A comparison with Les Rita Mitsouko is easily made, also because Niko & Christelle like to add a lot of 80s influences in their music. See them in action here.
Emma Solal introduced herself by saying that she made an album with help from Pierre Faa, of Peppermoon-fame. That made me sit up straight. Her voice reminds me a little of Barbara Carlotti’s, her songs are rooted in French chanson tradition, from the Brassens-era and the seventies-era, much loved by Pierre. Robe du Soir, written by Pierre, could’ve been a Peppermoon song allright. I chose the jazzy, very sultry Première fois. Are you paying attention, Serge?
MM – A l’hotel
Ko & Josephine – Elle aime le catch
Emma Solal – Premiere fois