Le Volume Courbe


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

LaurineLaurine 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…

Jacques Dutronc

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’.

Hollydays

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):

Now playing: Circé Deslandes

Circé Deslandes first album is out now on Spotify (partly on Bandcamp), with lustful tracks, chok full of double entendres, innuendo and pure sex music like this track:

See also this video:

French Disco Boogie Sounds

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We’ve been boogie-ing down on this blog every NOW and THEN, but never to the sounds presented on this compilation, out end of this month. Rare titles by artists from either the (French) Carribean or Canada, this glitters like sequined hot pants. ‘Superstar’ by Canadian band (?) Contessa intrigues me the most – the song’s credited to one Geraldine Hunt, who made a few discofied albums herself, but certainly isn’t singing this track. Anybody has more info?
UPDATE:
The Plot Thickens. Superstar is a French version of the song ‘Star struck’ by Cheri, with Geraldine Hunt singing (and writing). Thanks Aux!

Ariane Moffatt – 22h22

0004551989_10‘No guitars, just plastic’, that was the motto for making 22h22, Ariane Moffatt‘s fifth album. The Canadian songstress even taped an ‘X’ on one of the guitars hanging on the studio wall. No strings, just buttons and keys then. And a contribution by ‘Henri and Marcel Marcil-Moffatt’, the twin boys Ariane had in 2013 and who became subject of this record. The title is a reference to the moment when, kids in bed, all work done, inspiration hits. From THIS interview: “Everything would come back to me at 10:22,” she recalled. “My life was so practical at that point, but at that time, I felt like it was the only opportunity I had to fly, to see what’s on the other side. It was reassuring to feel that again, because I was in provider mode and survival mode and taking care of babies and not thinking about anything else.”
‘The other side’, as Moffatt calls it, is a dream-like state, where plushy 70s-synths (Jean-Michel Jarre sometimes springs to mind) take over and the mood is reflective and introspective. Take ‘Retourner en moi’ for istance. On the other hand, there are more upbeat tracks like single ‘Debout’ and what to me is the highlight of this album, ‘Les tireurs fou’ – the latter is a song about trying to shield your kids from all the dangers and annoyances in this world. Brazilian percussion turns up in ‘De mort à vivant’ (a song about reincarnation), the twins lend their voices for ‘Matelos & frères’.
When Ariane leans less on the trickery (a choir of her fans in ‘Toute sa vie’, the baby voices, the bended voice in ‘Nostalgie des jours qui tombent’) and relies more on her songwriting, 22h22 lights up. ‘Retourner en moi’ is a great song, as is ‘Les tireurs fous’. B
eing a mom and an artist, it’s a struggle. That’s what 22h22 proves. It’s nice to drift off to ‘the other side’ every now and then. But it takes a lot more than some ‘hour of inspiration’ to get to a really great album.

Annie Philippe giveaway

Want a free Annie Philippe compilation? Read on!

Born in 1946, and still active today, it’s blonde bombshell and yeye-icon Annie Philippe! Ace Records just released a compilation with hits and nuggets, both on vinyl and cd. She’s best known for Ticket de Quay and uptempo banger C’est la mode. One of my favourites, J’ai tant de peine is also on the Ace compilation:

As said, she’s still active today! Watch a show she did this year HERE

I have one compilation-cd to give away. All you have to do is send me a guestpost on your favourite YeYe-song. Any song, not just Annie’s. Guuzbourg (a) gmail.com awaits your texts (100 words or more).

Another cool Ace-released compilation is ‘Ciao Bella!’ featuring Italian female 60s pop singers – what’s Yeye in Italian? I bought the white vinyl lp, this is one of my favourite tracks on it:

Julie Blanche

JulieBlanceArtMontréal-based Julie Blanche featured on these very pages last year after she finished runner-up at that year’s Les Francouvertes (the annual French-Canadian music festival which acts as a showcase for emerging francophone artists). Enthusing over her auto-financed EP the overriding thought was that here was not so much a showcase but more of a teaser from an artist that we hoped would grace this blog again…

And now armed with her eponymously-titled debut album it’s probably safe to say that Julie has emerged with an album that should comfortably find a place in any end of year retrospective…

This album comprises ten haunting and melancholy bitter-sweet vignettes, that feel intensely personal and semi-biographical. Every song on this album tells a story, each one an episode imbued with a different emotion and each perfectly framed by the sparseness of Julie’s voice and beautifully counterpoised by the richness of the accompanying melody. Indeed, it’s this richness – that lends an underlying warmth to proceedings – which ensures the album never becoming over-sentimental or maudlin.

To be honest, I’m absolutely blown away by this album, thanks in no small part to the combination of the masterful compositions of Antoine Corriveau (Julie’s long-time collaborator and partner), producer Mathieu Charbonneau. and Julie’s crystalline voice that leaves you hanging on her every word. Every song on this album is truly memorable; “Deux visages”, the opening track and a tale of those conflicting passions, love and hate; “Le manège” and a lover scorned. There’s an underlining menace rippling not far below the surface of “Au bout de la nuit” and “Comme un décor”.

But lest you think the album is hard work, these songs are balanced by the wistful “Le fleuve au complet”, the ethereal “Presque” and the album’s closing number, “La vie facile”, an uplifting reminiscence of a life lived to the full.

This is truly an exceptional œuvre and although I’m pretty certain that I haven’t even began to convey how good an album this is, I’m immediately drawn to comparisons – and I’m not alone here – with fellow Québecoise Salomé Leclerc. There’s the same assured art of story-telling and the same range of emotions conveyed in the voice. Indeed in Francophone Canada the album has received rave reviews and is already being given serious consideration as an album of the year candidate…