It’s a wrap! Bonne Année from FransS, Maks, Sky and me, we hope to see you again next year. The idea was to post one final yearlist, but really, how many Coeur de Pirate-songs do we need to post to convince you she made the best album of the year (okay, well, maybe Sky needs some extra convincing). If you have Spotify, check out this playlist of the bestest songs of 2011.

So on to 2012. In January, we’ll be posting songs that slipped under our radar in the past year. But if something new pops up (a covers album by Olivia Ruiz, for instance) you sure can read about it here too.

Hopes are up high for a new albums by Barbara Carlotti, Céline Mastrorelli (pictured), La Fiancée, Adrienne Pauly, Coralie Clément, Vanessa Paradis, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rose, Valérie Leulliot, Pauline Croze, Marie-Pierre Arthur, Carmen Maria Vega, Amylie, Ariane Moffatt, La Femme and a whole bunch of fresh faces.


Year lists (8)

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’m a bit late with the year list and it looks that most of my FS-colleagues were way better and faster. But I’ll give it a shot.
There were as always disappointments; albums you waited for but that disappointed when they came out. But also pleasant surprises. Actually, there were a lot of them. It was harder to make a list of only ten albums, than a list of, say, 25 good ones. So no Austine, Brigitte, Brigitte Boisjoli,  Catherine Major, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Claire Denamur, Elsa Kopf, Ingrid St-Pierre, L. Liz Cherhal, Lou Lesage, Nous Non Plus, Yelle…
Without further ado: here is my personal top 10

(11). Karin Clercq  – Karin Clercq
A bit odd to start with a Top Ten with eleven, but I had too. when I got this EP of Karin Clercq I was very enthousiastic. Great voice great songs. I even prepared a post, but then I realised I already knew the songs. It turned out that it was an EP for the French Market with songs form her album of 2009. But still one of the highlights of 2011.

10. Lise – Lise
Played this album a lot this year. Fresh songs, pleasant voce. Unfortunately some songs in English, but the French ones are a lot better!

9. Isabelle Boulay – Les Grands Espaces
There are always artist you don’t like. Isabelle Boulay was one of them. I didn’t even bother to listen carefully, it is just “nah, not for me”.  But this year I did and I was pleasantly surprised by her album. French Americana album of the year.

8. Aurélie Cabrel – Oserais-je
One of the pleasant surprises this year. Surprisingly the highest “Daughter of” in My list. Sorry Charlotte…

7. Ödland – Sankta Lucia
European project from Lorenzo Papace, with two wonderful sisters Bingöllü.

6. Chloé Lacasse – Chloé Lacasse
First artist from Quebec on this list and certainly not the last one!

5. Stéphanie Crayencour – La garçonnière
If this list was ranking of hard to find albums, this one wold be very close to number 1. Took a lot of effort to find it, but it was worth it. Highest Belgian artist on this list. (Merci I. for your hard work again!).

4. Claire Keim – Ou il Pleuvra
Highest Claire in My list. It was close but Claire Denamur just dropped out the top 10. Poppy album but this Claire sings just like what we expect of a Fille Sourire…

3. Salomé Leclerc – Sous Les Arbres
Again an album form an artist from Quebec. What a talents are there. And they keep coming!

2. Mélanie Laurent – En t’attendant
Highest singing actress in the list (sorry again, Charlotte). Very balanced album, and just a very pleasant album to listen to. But Maks described it way better here.

1. Coeur de Pirate – Blonde
What more can I say.. as stated, there were a lot of good albums, but only one really superb album this year. And when you are so lucky to see her perform live, you can only agree: Beatrice Martin is a little diamond, that needs more recognition.


Superbien 2011 Yearlist

No, this ain’t the yearlist to end all yearlists. Actually, it was quite an interesting year, full of sleepers, slumbersome French kisses and somnolent earworms. In short, a year to wake up. It was called 2011. So, eleven for a year to remember. There you are:

11. Daphné, Moi plus vouloir dormir seule. I can’t recall any other tune from her Bleu Venise album, but you won’t get more eternity for your money.

10. DJ Le Clown, Making Plans for Houston. Not from 2011, I think, but a premier mashup hooker of a song. Sadly, the YT video meanwhile was banned due to sexual content. Serge vs. Whitney vs. XTC. Jan Willem commented: „Houston, we have a problem.“

09. Marie-Pierre Arthur, Pourquoi. The Quebec No. 1 indie smash hit that never was. Poptastic one, and Marie-Pierre’s not even my type. See also Buck 65 below.

Video here.

08. Vaea Sylvain/ François de Roubaix, Mareva. A song from the Mid-60s I’ve listened to a thousand times this year, and not available on the net. I met Vaea Sylvain in November in Paris, and it’s a long story. Maybe I’ll tell you some day. Maybe.

07. Nous Non Plus, Bunga Bunga. Album: Freudian Slip. The best intertextual popster band since Dutch Gruppo Sportivo in the 80s, this time with an irresistible hommage to Silvio, Imperator of the Italian Orgy.

Video here.

06. Slove, Carte Postale. Electro isn’t dead. The singer’s name is Sarah Krebs, and for 3:20 min, you can have sex, not with her, of course, but with this tune. It feels exactly like she says: „Superbien.“

05. Benjamin Biolay, Le Bonheur, Mon Cul. The album was, erm, shitty, but this is Biolay’s metamorphosis into God, and that God is fat, sweaty, sleazy, and burns up 1000 rubbers per night. Best chanson title of the year. God’s name is Barry White, for sure.

04. L, Initiale. Mademoiselle Mélo on the boulevard of broken lolitas and bohemiens, and undoubtedly the most consistent French album of the year.

03. Buck 65, Tears of My Heart. Le Nouveau Western meets Piaf and Gréco in Buck 65’s supreme collaboration with lovely Olivia Ruiz. Yo, big one. Album also features Marie-Pierre Arthur, see entry no. 9.

02. Siobhan Wilson, La Javanaise. Her 2010 debut already featured Brel’s Voir un ami pleurer, and except for Serge’s emissions avant-prèmieres version, there has been no better version of La Javanaise in fifty years.

01. La Femme, Sur la Planche. It didn’t get more hypnotic, more sexy, more sonic or more convincing in 2011, and the Biarritz-based band – a cross between the B-52’s and a knife sharpener – isn’t even signed yet. They call that sound Tropical Wave, but its other name is Retro Heaven. And that (see left) was the cover.

Coeur de Pirate live

Three free livetracks by Coeur de Pirate! Part of the’ 12 days of Christmas app’ from iTunes – they’re giving away free songs by various artists, only downloadable for 24 hours. Or at least, that’s the idea. Not sure how & why, but the three CdP-songs (+ 2 videos) were up December 8 and still downloadable. If you live in Canada, that is. But you know we have ways of getting to our CdP-stuff. So here are the three songs, recorded last October in Paris. Enjoy.

Coeur de Pirate – Cap Diamant (live)
Coeur de Pirate – St Laurent (live)
Coeur de Pirate – La petite mort (live)

The Weeknd quotes Gainsbourg

Well, he ís Canadian. So Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd using French lyrics isn’t that strange. On his new (third), free downloadable mixtape, Abel sings a few lines from France Gall’s Laisse Tomber Les Filles (written by Gainsbourg) in his song Montréal.  On first listen, I didn’t recognise it, so hat tip to @Rvlanen for bringing this to my attention. The Weeknd is considered by many as a very talented leftfield R&B-singer. Abel is like an emo-punk singer making silky soul. Coeur de Pirate loves The Weeknd too, she covered his Wicked Games. Nope, that’s not a Chris Isaak-cover. The Weeknd did cover Michael Jackson on his new mixtape, and used a Siouxsie & the Banshees sample on an earlier one. Talk about varied influences.

The Weeknd – Montréal
France Gall – Laisse tomber les filles

Boxed Vannier

Adrian (from DCR) wrote a great piece on the Jean-Claude Vannier box-set on Finders Keepers.

Pity my poor postman. 2011 has already seen him have to deliver the heavy Tindersticks’ box set of the soundtracks they recorded for Claire Denis’ films, and the amazing Serge Melody Nelson box (thanks, Santa!). And recently, from Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers records, came a beautifully Jean-Claude Vannier three-album box set. All on vinyl, of course.

Finder Keepers was one of the UK independent labels badly hit by a fire at the Sony Distribution centre in west London during the riots that hit the capital and other parts of the country in the summer. Many labels had their stock wiped out or badly hit. Finders Keepers has been releasing some lovely mix cds compiled by guests such as Jarvis Cocker, Sublime Frequencies and Gruff Rhys to help recoup some of the losses.

Crate-digger extraordinaire Votel has been championing Vannier’s work for years, bringing him over to London’s Barbican in 2006 to perform L’Histoire de Melody Nelson and L’Enfant Assassin Des Mouches. As well as that album, FK has also released Electro Rapide and Roses Rouge Sang. These three records come together in this special set to mark the label’s 50th release. So what do you get? First up is a sturdy box, with the artist’s name die-stamped in red on the lid. Inside, before you even get to the records, there are photos, three exclusive Vannier illustrations, one piece of tablature sheet music and a promo CD copy of the invigoratingly bonkers Histoire De Melody Vannier mixed by Andy Votel, of which only 69 physical copies have been released previously. It’s full of snippets of Vannier’s work, which will be exciting or agonizing, depending how much of a completist you are and you realize there’s still so much more to track down.

But it’s the music on vinyl that is so attractive about this set. All on heavyweight pressings, L’Enfant comes on black, Electro Rapide on white and Roses on a beautiful clear red pressing. Sound quality is as excellent as you’d expect. Each is accompanied by an information sheet about the album and the session players.

There were only 150 of these beauties made, and they’re all gone now. Mine is being treasured, so no, I won’t put it on eBay or Discogs for you. The individual albums are available from FK to buy on vinyl, CD and download. But the set is a fitting tribute to a singular artist and to an always fascinating label. Here’s to the next 50 releases.

Jean-Claude Vannier – Les Yeux Valise (from Roses Rouge Sang)

Year lists (6)

1. Mélanie Laurent – Mélanie Laurent
She called her superb debut album ”The fulfillment of a childhood dream”. Well, her childhood dream tickled me from the start (Début) until the end (Fin). Together with Damien Rice she made a perfectly balanced mixed of classical chansons with a little hysteria, sweet duets, surprising arrangements and little hidden treasures of intimacy. All drenched in Mélanie’s seductive voice.

2. Coeur De Pirate – Blonde
Is there anything left to say about FS fav Béatrice Martin? How brilliant her second album is and how fantastic her concert was in Brussels earlier this month? Guuzbourg already did.
Nothing left to say. Béatrice is here to stay.

3. Brigitte – Et Vous, Tu M’aimes ?
Whenever top fashion designers Victor & Rolf team up with artists, there must be something special on them. Aurélie Maggiori et Sylvie Hoarau are two special ones. Their debut is filled with simple and catchy melodies, a little folky every now and then and at it’s best when both ladies sing together.
See Brigitte live at the Viktor & Rolf Runway Show in Paris

4. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Stage Whispers
Maybe it’s because of the sweet memory of her IRM-concert in Brussels last year, maybe it’s because I saw mommy live on stage again earlier this year, maybe it’s because there weren’t enough exciting new releases this year. Fact is that this ‘half live, half old with some new’ album can easily compete with all other FS worthy releases this year. Not only because her name is Charlotte Gainsbourg.

5. Salomé Leclerc – Sous Les Arbres
As mentioned earlier: The guitar-driven songs are the perfect field for her versatile voice to play on and simultaneously kidnap the listeners mind to drop it somewhere under the trees.

6. L. – Initiale
Award for ‘most intriguing album of the year’ goes to Raphaële Lannadère who’s calling herself L. A mysterious cocktail of the classical French chansons with Eastern and South European influences in mostly piano-driven songs that makes you hold your breath over 11 songs.

7. Les Bien-Aimés (OST)
Some things hardly can go wrong imho. Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve singing in a Paris’ studio is one of those things. For addicts that is. The best soundtrack of this year came along with a great movie.

8. Claire Denamur – Vagabonde
Hold your horses! Claire Denamur treated us with her second full album. Less sunny as her debut from 2009, ’cause Claire’s grown-up. Musically. And as her sweet and husky voice got layered with dark tones, so did her songs. If there wasn’t already something like ‘French americana country folk chansons’, Claire invented it with Vagabonde.

9. Ingrid St-Pierre – Ma Petite Mam’zelle De Chemin
Just another girl from Canada singing and playing the piano? That would be too easy. A refreshing and uncomplicated debut that deserves to finish my FS yearlist comes more close. Ingrid St-Pierre is one to keep a close watch on.

10. Allright, there is no number 10. This year did need a lot of time management and not every record got the attention it deserved, as from now on I have to file my music back home under another label too: children.
But hey, it can be worse when Vive la Fête is taking care of it.

Wishing you all the best for the next year!

Supersexy Motherfuckin’

An R&B vocal band with a highly complicated history, The Moments (also known as Ray, Goodman & Brown) formed in Hackensack, New Jersey in the mid-60s, signed shortly after to Sylvia Robinson’s Stang label and had their breakthrough smash hit with Love on a Two-Way Street which hit #1 in 1970. In the mid-70s, they established themselves as masters of first class satin sheets soul, with Look at Me (I’m in Love) – being sexy motherfuckers long before the time when The Artist formerly known as Prince used the term for them Eighties chicks. In 1973, they joined forces with the lesser known Baltimore R&B entrepreneurs The Whatnauts for the all-time classic Girls. The song was only a minor hit in the U.S., but a huge success all over Europe then – that’s why they also did a Gallic version, French smoothie style.

Moments – Look at Me

Moments – Look at Me (Version française)

Moments & Whatnauts – Girls

Moments & Whatnauts – Girls (Version française)

FS Vintage: Léo Marjane

Obviously she’s still alive, 99 years old – she’s even got a Facebook page. In the late 30s and during the first half of the 40s, Léo Marjane was one of the biggest songbirds in France, with her sultry and somewhat forlorn voice that enriched great songs like Seule ce soir, a tune credited to Charles Trenet everywhere but actually written by Paul Jules Durand; don’t trust the internet. The role model of La Piaf, Marjane fell from grace abruptly after the Liberation of France in August 1944, having performed a little bit too enthusiastically at cabarets and dancing halls frequented by Wehrmacht soldiers and the SS. The applause of the wrong guys catapulted her into the abyss of oblivion, but as we all know, every abyss has an echo: Rarely it sounds as sweet as in Seule ce soir, and surely in Léo’s Gallic version of the all-time classic September in the Rain.

Léo Marjane – Seule ce soir
Léo Marjane – En Septembre dans la pluie

Year lists (5)

FOFS David send in a very special end-of-the-year list:

As 2011 comes to a close, I want to thank you again for your Filles Sourires blog. I’ve been going back through all your posts looking for artists I missed, buying many secondhand CD’s. On the offchance you haven’t seen these, here’s three albums from this year:

Ingrid St-Pierre, from Quebec, has been playing the cafes and small venues for years, and had her debut album “Ma Petite Mam’zelle De Chemin” One of my favorites is Desjardins (video). Another is Homeostasie Cranienne.

I came across Maya Barsony’s new album, “Monter Amoureuse”, when I reread your Filles Sourires post on her 2008 album. I found I enjoyed almost every song, especially liking Insomnie. Here’s the video for Poing Virgule.

Another Canadian premiering this year was Alecka, with her self-named album. Her songs vary widely, from “Le Printemps” (a favorite of mine this year), to more of a hard rock with a ska beat, Choukran (video).

A couple not from this year:

Occasionally (okay, very occasionally), I come across a filles with several albums that I don’t think have been mentioned previously on FS. One of these is Lynda Thalie. Lynda blends North African and middle Eastern rhythms with a bit of rock, similar in some respects to Souad Massi, including her low alto voice. While I like songs from each of her three albums, my favorite is from “La Rose des Sables”, Rallye aicha des Gazelles. The video shows the competition which I hadn’t heard of before – it’s an endurance road rally in Morocco, for women only.

Beats me what happened to Mimi Rousseau after her debut album, “Belle Route” (2007), but I wish she hadn’t stopped there. She does a very nice cover of Suzanne Vega’s “Luka”, with french lyrics. Another favorite of mine from this album is “Cassiopeia”.

Anyway, I have been meaning to write to you for quite some time – I have a bit of time off and thought I’d finally peck the keyboard for a bit. Thanks again for all the effort you put into FS.

all the best,

P.S.: Really envy you’re getting to see Beatrice Martin in concert. Hands down the album of the year – still listening to it every day.