Fanny Bloom

Remember quirky Canadian trio La Patère Rose? In 2009, they made the Filles Sourires Album of the Year-list. Alas, they called it quits in 2011. Singer Fanny Bloom recorded a solo album that’s about to drop soon. First single Parfait, Parfait fishes in the same musical pond as Lykke Li and The Dø – 80s synths, fierce drums, soothing voice. Which is nice. Very much looking forward to that album, we love that voice.

You can download the last ever single of La Patere Rose for free here.

Fanny Bloom – Parfait, Parfait

Charlotte, remixed

Charlotte Gainsbourg in the remix; it usually leads to something good. Take Superpitcher’s remix of The Operation, or Diskjokke’s version of IRM. Recent case in point: Joakim’s rework of Paradisco. A tribute to the long hypnotic disco-re-rubs of dj-legend Larry Levan. The dub-version, with more volatile vocals, is downright brilliant. Watch out for those lasergun salvo’s! Find more reworks of Paradisco via HypeMachine. I like Tempogeist’s discofied version a lot, too.

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Paradisco (Joakim’s “Paradisco Garage” dub)

Benjamin Schoos & Laetitia Sadier

Go HERE (or HERE, if you want to download the song) to listen to the duet between Benjamin ‘Miam Monster Miam’ Schoos and former Stereolab-chanteuse Laetitia Sadier, from Ben’s upcoming album that also features Marie France and Chrissie Hynde. According to The Guardian, this duet ‘makes you want to run around the streets of Paris with a Super 8 camera and a coy but knowing smile on your face’.

As Mordi pointed out in the comments, the song was originally sung by the magnificent Mademoiselle Nineteen. (I wonder, will she change her name, now that ‘Mademoiselle’ is banned?)


Brazilian correspondent Luciane strikes again, with ‘cute folk’ duo Agridoce. Who cover Serge.

“Agridoce” is the debut album and name of the parallel project by Brazilian pop rock singer Pitty with her guitarist Martin Mendezz. It’s unplugged and explores different instruments and minimalistic sounds, textures, details, it’s quite the opposite of what’s she’s used to do with her über-popular solo work.

In “Agridoce,” which means bittersweet in Portuguese, guitars are out, acoustic guitar and piano are in, along with drawers with pillows inside and such other new musical instruments. The mood is introspective and folk-ish. The album was quickly nicknamed “fofolk” or “cute folk”.

Fan of Pitty or not, it’s an interesting album to listen, especially for those who never cared about her rock band or downright didn’t like her. This is something else. It shows nuances of her voice that one couldn’t hear before.
I certainly appreciated that, even more when it comes in French.
The first French surprise in the album is the song “Ne parle pas.” They didn’t name any French influences on the interviews they gave about the project. There are a lot of songs in English on the CD, so this one stood out.
And it turns out “Ne parle pas” is self-explanatory. Pitty said she can’t speak French, so this song is precisely about that, and her desire that she could. It’s about having a lot to say, but thinking it would all come out and sound much better if she could say it in french — ah, but haven’t we all been here before?… She said she finds French very musical and embracing. “If anyone who can speak French listens to this song, there’s already a mea culpa in it,” she joked on an interview.

Volontairement kidnappée
Délibérément traînée
Décidément arrachée
Pendant que tu coules entre mes jambes

I’d say is a good start for someone so raw and newly arrived. The piano does wonders for this song.
When I thought that was all, voilà, the second surprise comes as an iTunes bonus track: Pitty singing “La javanaise,” by Serge Gainsbourg. She made it absolutely bittersweet: her voice is mellow and sad, while the piano softens up the atmosphere of goodbye at the end of a love affair.

Covering Serge — and what she said above — could be a good indication that she’s been captured by french chansons. And maybe we’ll see more from her in the future. I’d gladly welcome that.

Agridoce – La javanaise


I can’t help it. Really. It is stronger than myself. But I love Soko. She first appeared on this blog in 2008 (see?), she became a minor hype, then she disappeared, and now she’s back with her first album: “I thought I was an Alien”. Video of the title song is available here. And again: I love it.
It’s not that she’s a brilliant singer (kinda thin), or that she has world shocking lyrics (kinda naive), or that she is musically very interesting (kinda dull).
But what is it then? Is it that “French-ladies-singing-in-franglish” accent? Yes, that is a huge part of the attraction. It is downright lovely. Is it ’cause she’s cute? You bet.
But there must be more, too. I think it is also something like originality, or even authenticity. It all sounds so honest. Soko’s a young woman who sings about what is on her mind, as if she is talking to you after a night out.
To give an example of what I mean, listen to a song like “Happy Hippie birthday”. It starts like a happy birthday song for a friend, but you can hear that the tone changed while she was writing the song.  She realised that he is much older and that the age difference is exactly like it was between her parents. You can say it is a bit messy song-writing, but I don’t care. It sounds real and authentic to me.

And yes, maybe I get easily deceived. Maybe Soko’s prefab, made up by a clever svengali.
But still, I can’t help it. I love Soko.

Soko – Happy Hippie Birthday

Les Soeurs Boulay

Steve from SoCal on his new discovery, two folksy, note-perfect Canadian singing sisters. Any relation to Isabelle? We don’t know, yet.

Thought I’d drop you a line about Les Soeurs Boulay who I “discovered” while trawling Bandcamp after stumping up for Marie Pierre Arthur’s EXCELLENT (can’t emphasis that enough) “Aux alentours” album…

I don’t know that much about les Soeurs Boulay, Melanie and Stephanie, except that they’re from Gaspesie in Quebec have just released their eponymous debut 5-track EP through Bandcamp. There’s a certain sparseness, cleanliness about the sound; absolutely note-perfect harmonies with minimal backing from just an acoustic guitar or ukulele(!) There’s more than a hint of early (think folksy) Simon and Garfunkel in the EP’s opener “Lola en confiture”, although my personal favourite is the slightly up-tempo “Des shooters de fort sur ton bras” It should be noted that there’s a definite “country folk” undercurrent runs through all five tracks, but don’t let that put you off. While there’s a certain “tristesse” to the lyrics there’s also an haunting achingness that forces you to just wants to come back for more.

Highly recommended, and as a taster, “Priere” is available for free from the girl’s bandcamp site

Les Soeurs Boulay – Les shooters de fort sur ton bras

Bande Dessinée

Our Brazilian correspondent Luciane on how Bande Dessinée connects Recife with Paris:

Tatiana Monteiro — or Tati, tout simplement — is the female voice and charming spice of the brazilian band Bande Dessinée. They come from the hot city of Recife, mixing local and contemporary sounds with an inspiration on the french pop scene of the ’60s and ’70s.

Out of the 12 songs of their debut album “Sinée qua non”, released just four months ago, in October, nine are in French or mix french lyrics with Portuguese in very original ways. Such is the case with the song “Setubanalidades,” a word play with “c’est tout banalité.”

The French inspiration (Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, Dalida and France Gall, among others) comes out like a declaration of love on the way she sings, it’s natural and unpretentious, as it should be, so you can really enjoy her voice, the different moods of the album, the lyrics and all the rich, often unexpected details, that permeate their sound — besides the French influence, there’s also some jazz, salsa, tango, rock, frevo, which is typical of the Brazilian northeast, and iê-iê-iê, which carries that ’60s pop sensation with a brazilian flair.

It’s undeniably a very rich experience, especially if you know both Paris and Recife or if you’ve ever been to Brazil and France. The way they manage to make you feel like you can be in both places at the turn of a corner (with one word, one instrument, one sound) is both unique and disturbing. And the same applies to the sense of time. The ’60s are very now and today, while present time becomes anew and refreshed after you listen to these songs.

These are the highlight qualities of this entire work in a big way. It makes “Sinée qua non” original and delightful. The opening track “Bande à parte” and “Bouge ton squelette,” which cites Godard’s “2 ou 3 choses que je sais d’elle,” are prime examples of that. “La liberté est rouge” comes close, but sounds a lot more brazilian to me.

Tati also sings in italian in two songs, which is no less pleasant to hear. “Tramonto” will take you there with an out of fashion and irresistible cheek to cheek appeal. Ironically, it’s the low light drama of this song that makes me see Serge’s eyes and the smoke of his cigarettes the most.

“Intempestiva” is the only song that is (almost) all Portuguese, there’s a tiny dash of Spanish there. Dramatic, bold and quite sexy. “Navegador” is my favorite song. Tati’s voice becomes more powerful in the first half of the song, in Portuguese, then back to French for the second half, less soft and more boldly recited.

Some people might feel overwhelmed or bothered with too much information, though. But what I sense in this debut album is there was too much to give and it couldn’t wait, quite normal considering how they came to be.

I also think there is plenty of room for Tati to find the best ways to match her great voice with french. It’s not about perfection, but room for improvement to make what’s good even better, finding new avenues. You know, like the road traveled by new lovers?

Tati’s first band was called Lady Sings the Blues, and she’s been influenced by frevo, choro, bossa nova, then from those brazilian rhythms to jazz. She was ready to move on to new projects when she was approached by Filipe Barros, guitarrist and composer of Bande Dessinée.

So they started out in 2007, but with a different name, and only covering songs from their favorite french artists. Barros had lived in France for a while. He says that composing in french is also about finding the best sounds to say something, exploring the way the words can sound in different languages. It’s about making a statement a bold one. I couldn’t agree more.

Tati says she thought that jazz was gonna have her forever, but that singing in french immediately attracted her. She thought it was challenging, but also enticing and extremely pleasant.

So we hear.

“Sinée qua non” was first released as a free download on the interwebs, and it remains like so, but you can also purchase the CD (on a few online brazilian stores) or buy the mp3s on iTunes.

Too much in just one package or not, one thing is for sure: there is no other band in Brazil like Bande Dessinée. And there won’t be. Unless they get Tati on her bicycle and that smile behind her luscious red lips. That woman is pure french spring with brazilian summer.

Bande Dessinée – La liberté est rouge
Bande Dessinée – Navegador

Big Soul

Guestpost! Radio Oh la la’s Natasha on French-loved Californians Big Soul:

On a jammed packed dance floor, a DJ from Paris turns around to me with a smirk and says, “Can you throw on some big guitar number? I have something that needs that first.” I whip out Niagara’s ‘J’ai Vu’, a low tempo wall-to-wall guitar ditty that all the francophones sing along to while they’re dancing. Then he lets it rip: Big Soul’s ‘Le Brio (Branchez la guitare)’.

Even though they only have two songs in French, Big Soul is a Californian boy-boy-girl band that is better known in France, where they got their first record deal. Some French guy in California saw their show and picked up a CD to bring home. Then one day a Paris DJ played one of their English songs, ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ on a dance floor and voilà, you’re la bombe in Paris.

Both ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ and ‘Le Brio’ are from 1995, while ‘La Belle et la Bête’ (French for ‘Beauty and the Beast’) is from 2002. And the lovely blond, bass-bearing Caroline Wampole has that American girl singing in French quality that you’ve come to expect from this blog.

Big Soul – Le Brio (Branchez la guitare)
Big Soul – La Belle et la Bête