If Serge Gainsbourg had written songs with The Velvet Underground, it might have sounded like The Liminanas. Somebody else wrote that, but it’s a great way to describe the sultry, fuzz-drenched basement-sound of the trio from Perpignan. Their second album Crystal Anis is out, and the second you hear the bass in Ballade pour Clive, you’ll get the Gainsbourg-reference. This is music to listen to with darkdarkdark-shades on, while Super8-porn is being shown on the screen in the humid cellar, the leather-clad crowd is getting anxious yet you’re keeping it cool. You might dance. Horizontally or vertical, maybe both. Gimme another shot, barkeep!
See a video for an English track from their debut album here.
Listen to their Beach Boys cover here

The Liminanas – Ballade pour Clive

June Caravel

So this is how the story goes: “For June Caravel, a vocal explorer born and raised in Paris, singing in English had always been the obvious, natural way. She even left France for the UK in 2009 to stop hearing that nagging, repetitive question: “How is it you don’t sing in French?” Until that fateful day in 2011 she met compatriot Pierre Carrey. After an evening of boozing and singing where there was no stopping June’s vibrant adlibs, Pierre jokingly told her ‘J’te ramène à la boutique, si tu continues’ (I’ll return you to the store if you carry on) which sounded like perfect lyrics for a new song in French.”
To cut a long email short, June (who we know from her very cool London tribute) then recorded songs in German, Italian, Spanish and she even re-did a cantata by Bach – using only her voice. If this all sounds a bit Camille to you, it’s ’cause that’s an obvious reference. But June’s June, not a copycat. She can arouse you, make you wanna dance, make you smile, tap your toes, etcetera. I’m in awe.

Listen to some excerpts here.

June Caravel – J’te ramène à la boutique


Californian fuzz mixed with Normandic charm – that’s Granville. A quartet, Melissa Dubourg is the female singer. They made a few singles, notably Slow (great video), and the just released Jersey b/w La Ville Sauvage (see Bandcamp). They cite Best Coast and Françoise Hardy as influences. Keep an eye on’m! Listen to a Filles & Garçons remix here. Acoustic session here.

Granville – La ville sauvage


A sixties-obsessed Briton who engaged ‘French girl Sarah’ to sing a wonderful cover-version of Jacques Dutronc’s Les Cactus – that’s Knickers for ya. You can download that cover, plus a rather nice reprise of Baby It’s You via Bandcamp. Read more on Knickers here.

Chansons d’été (4): Arthur Honegger

In January 1920, a Parisian journalist named Henri Collet proclaimed Les Six Francais, soon to be known as Groupe des Six, bracketing six French composers together as the avantgarde of the new decade. One of the members was then 25-year-old Arthur Honegger, who (unlike the others) admired Wagner and Debussy, and put on his kids gloves when if came to iconoclasm: »There’s no point knocking down doors you can open«, he would state 30 years later.  In the summer of the same year, he wrote his ultra romantic Pastorale d’été, Poème symphonique, epigraphed by a line from Rimbaud: »J’ai embrassé l’aube d’été …« One flute, one oboe, one clarinet, one bassoon, one horn, plus strings: This is the first light of a warm summer day, and there’s few chances it will get more beautiful again.

Orchestre National de l’ORTF/ conducted by Jean Martignon – Pastorale d´été

Chansons d’été (3): James Taylor

Long ago and far away, in a time they called the 70s, each and every girl had the same four LPs standing beside her record player: Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, Cat Stevens’s Tea for the Tillerman, Neil Young’s Harvest, and of course James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James. Taylor, who even made it to the cover of Time magazine then, was the folk Jesus of the American soft rock scene, a tortured messiah who suffered for all the moonlight ladies that wanted to spend him comfort and lovin’ care. His probably bleakest album, 1979’s Flag, also contains the only song Taylor ever wrote in French: undeniably a fine, contemplative one with end of summer feel, actually not sounding like James Taylor, but like Jimmy Buffett in his most laidback ballad moments.

James Taylor – Chanson Française

Chansons d’été (2): Julien Baer

Despite four excellent albums in the last fifteen years, Julien Baer remains one of the great unknown French artists. His self-titled 1997 debut, recorded in Paris, London, and Los Angeles, features lush, but never overstated arrangements, highly poetic imagery, and a poignant tenderness seldom heard in modern pop music. Similarly notable are Baer’s collaborators, among them producer Bertrand Burgalat, él Records legend and nouveau sunshine pop intellectual Louis Philippe, XTC’s Dave Gregory on guitar, plus guest star Hal Blaine, the undoubtedly most successful studio drummer & percussionist of all times, on the L.A. takes. On Juillet 66, the most outstanding song on an album full of astounding tunes, it’s Richie Thomas on drums, but the echo of the song is breathing Blaine’s spirit. He was there, having played on God Only Knows/ Wouldn’t It Be Nice, the magnificent Beach Boys 7″ released exactly the same month forty-six years ago now – so here’s summer like it’s never gonna be again.

Julien Baer – Juillet 66
Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Louis Philippe – Do Not Blame It on the Summer

Chansons d’été (1): Peter Blegvad

Same day, same label. Kew. Rhone. by John Greaves and Peter Blegvad was issued simultaneously with the Sex Pistols’ NMTB in March 1977 – art project sophistication vs. »the Bay City Rollers of outrage« (Tony Wilson), the first a commercial, the second an artistic failure. Cartoonist, singer/ songwriter and guitarist Blegvad studied with avantgardist US writer Gilbert Sorrentino, was obsessed with Marcel Duchamp, and worked with Marxist prog-rockers Henry Cow, John Zorn and XTC’s Andy Partridge. His most well-known songs might be Daughter and Blue Flower, one of his finest still is Côte d’Azur, a highly intricate and ironic chanson d’été by someone calling himself »a dilettante, a polymorphously perverse, a perpetual amateur« – doubtless an easygoing and supersexy combination.

Peter Blegvad – Côte d’Azur