It was 20 years ago this year, that Serge passed away. There’s always a reason to celebrate his legacy, but this year we’re doing this with the release of the Dutch translation of Sylvie Simmons’ excellent SG-bio (on Feb 10, Maison Descartes Amsterdam), and with no more then three Soirée’s. On March 2 (appropriatly) in Bitterzoet Amsterdam, on March 5 in Ruimte X Tilburg (I won’t be there) and on March 12, as you can see, during the original Soirée in Petrol Antwerp. Serge van Duijnhoven (poet, writer, phenomenon, Gainsbourg-fanatic) will be there, singer-songwriter Rick Treffers, a food performer, a jazz pianist, a Flemish conferencier, and me. And in Antwerp of course the indispensable Louis Katorz and Pierre Elitair.
Oh, and on Feb 12 I’m partying like it’s my birthday (which it is) in De Nieuwe Anita Amsterdam, together with this gal.

The Serge Gainsbourg Experience

Serge Gainsbourgs songs were translated to English before (by Mick Harvey on this two brilliant tribute albums, and later on for this album), there have been various tribute albums (one springs to mind), so what makes Brad Scott’s Serge Gainsbourg Experience worthwile? Not his looks. His throaty voice works in songs like Sorry Angel and I Just Come to Tell You I’m Going, and he gets vocal help from the fragile Celia. My guess is shes his French daughter, for she doesn’t sing with the same accent as Brad (and sounds really sexy in SS in Uruguay). Mick Harvey had that right icey, arrogant tone in his voice. Brad lacks this, so Bonnie & Clyde is more a screamfest then the brooding song it is in the Serge-Brigitte version. Other songs, like Contact, are turned up to 11 as well. Ma Lou Marilou is just silly with the sqeaky noises and off-key accordion. But I like Valse de Melody, in which Brad sounds a bit like Arno Hintjens. By the way, the English translations were made by Boris Bergman, who also wrote Aphrodite’s Child Rain and Tears. And Brad played bass with Bashung, Jacques Higelin and Arthur H. And he met Serge once. I envy him. A lot.

The Serge Gainsbourg Experience – Sorry Angel
BONUS: all other versions
Serge Gainsbourg – Sorry Angel
Jane Birkin – Sorry Angel
Bollock Brothers – Sorry Angel
Walkabouts – Sorry Angel
Franz Ferdinand & Jane Birkin – Sorry Angel
Jef Lee Johnson & Nathalie Richard – Sorry Angel

Nicolas Comment

Produced by Marc Collin, it sounds like Serge doing a session with Martin Hannett. Album’s coming next month.

Claire Keim

January is not even halfway, but the first fragile highlight of the year is here: debut-record Ou Il Pleuvra by actress/singer Claire Keim. Her single (written by Ours) was a pretty affair, but the short-but-sweet-album is very, very good. If you like Vanessa Paradis-soundalikes who vocally lick your earlobes, that is. As I understand it, most songs were written or co-written by Claire herself, Ours lend a hand and so did the great Francis Cabrel. First he worked with the gorgeous Souad Massi, now he wrote the album’s title track for Keim. Nice going, Francis! Claire’s album is melody-rich, sensual, sunny, playful and 60s influenced. No, Tel que tu es isn’t a Charlotte Gainsbourg-cover, but the use of rhythm guitar, phat piano and Claire singing about being naked, it sure is reminiscent of one legendary smoker. NSFW-movieclips of Claire here. Her husband, a former footballer and now European jui-jitsu champion, is this guy.

Claire Keim – Ou Il Pleuvra

In other news: Revista 69 has the new Yelle single. HERE. (And a whole bunch of other blogs too)


Melissmell, named after her grandmother’s perfumes, just released an album that of course kicks off with her majestic version of the French national anthem. With her hoarse voice, she resembles 80s icon Guesch Patti. I’m not getting all the lyrics on her album Ecoute s’il pleut, but the use of a wind-up toypiano, pizzicato strings, dramatic piano and songs like Le silence de l’agneau (Silence of the lamb), my guess is Melissmell sings about her youth in the Ardeche, her grandma and her dreams as a teen. And of course, listening to the rain. Closing track L’éveil is my favourite.

Melissmell – L’éveil


Sublime eccentricity. Motorcycle romanticism. Nice ways of describing Montreal-based (but born in Toulouse) Olivier Alary, mastermind behind Ensemble. Alary worked with Björk, Lou Barlow and Cat Power. On the upcoming single, Dominique A(né) is guestvocalist. Is it postrock? Is it orchestral chanson? It’s modern, that’s for sure. Excerpts is the 3rd album Alary made under the Ensemble-moniker, but the first featuring French songs. Darcy Conroy (pictured) is providing the female vocals. Alary sings a couple of French songs, Conroy one, the beautiful-sad Les saisons viennent. A song to pamper your winter depression with. On the first single of the album, Darcy sang an odd but good cover of UB40’s Food for Thought. That song (from the days UB40 was actually GOOD) slags off Margaret Thatcher for cutting famine relief-funds for Africa. But in this saxy arrangement, it gets more mythical. Phantasmagorial. Where did I put my magical lantern?

Ensemble – Les saisons viennent
Ensemble – Food for thought (UB40 cover)

Perfect Japan/Mick Karn

Something completely different, yet great music: art-rockband Japan and their bassplayer Mick Karn. The latter passed away on Jan. 4, I compiled a musical tribute featuring my fave Japan-tracks like Ghosts and Visions of China, Mick’s solowork, songs he played on by Kate Bush,  Joan Armatrading and Gary Numan and other projects like the short-lived supergroup Nina (with Kate Pierson from B52’s).Karn and Japan are the ones who learned me to listen to other sounds, different spheres. HERE.

La Femme

La Femme is a Parisian quintet who play lo-fi surfrock with new wave touches – think Liminanas fronted by Lio. Had a hard time to find answers to some questions about this band. Like: what are the names of the bandmembers? Why are there mostly four people in band pictures? Is the hot blonde in these pictures (scroll down) an official bandmember? Why isn’t she in this picture? Are these La Femme-bandmembers having sex on video (VERY nsfw)? Some answers can be found in this interview – it seems the guys use various female singers, and there’s a Marlon and Sam in the band. The mini-album they released sports good songs. Sur la planche is the key track, this is how lo fi surf new wave baby pop should sound. Could be the start of something beautiful. The cover of their album is of course a reference to this painting. Hey, here’s a thought, how ’bout a festival featuring La Femme, Lafille and La Fiancée?

La Femme – Sur la planche


Souvenir,  our beloved Spanish duo who changed from sweet sighing French pop to full blown sexy French retro-disco, made a new single. It features three songs, including a cover of Wanda Jackson’s Funnel of Love. Aime-moi is the earcatcher, reminiscent of early Vive La Fête, with a big phat bassline. Patricia still has that voice, the kind that makes your spine tingle from top to bottom and back. It’s for sale in all good digital stores, but also on coloured 7-inch vinyl. Go here to buy. And be sure to check out Souvenir’s labelmate Klaus & Kinski, a Spanish band featuring the superlovely Marina.

Souvenir – Aime-moi