Say Three Hail Marys

bluejeansIt’s not the first time that German Schlager star Mary Roos is singing in French. Actually, she was the darling of the whole of Paris when she performed at the Olympia in the 70s after smash hits like L’autoroute or L’animal en blue-jeans; obviously her Gallic admirers couldn’t tell Mary from Francoise Hardy, or weren’t aware of her native productions, among them the legendary Arizona Man, the very first German pop atrocity with a synthesizer, composed by Giorgio Moroder (!) and Michael Holm (who had written the soundtrack for Mark of the Devil the very same year). And she’s still at it: Her most recent album Denk was du willst features a somewhat sterile, but strangely touching version of Jacques Brel’s Ne me quitte pas. Plus a cover of Caetano Veloso’s O Leaozinho. That dame’s got taste.

Mary Roos – Ne me quitte pas
Mary Roos – O Leaozinho

Hier, aujourd’hui, demain

helenanoWith her second album Azul, Belgian chanteuse/ actress Helena Noguerra was rivaling Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto in terms of the most easygoing bossa nova lounge style record of the last decade. Now, eleven years later, Noguerra’s back again with her fifth outing Année Zéro, realized with the help of a few prominent friends, among them actress Anna Mouglalis (the Gréco from Gainsbourg: Vie Héroique), Helena’s sister Lio and Syd Matters frontman Jonathan Morali. The true work of an artiste-auteur (Noguerra wrote and composed most of the songs herself), Année Zéro is an elegant and worthwhile, though at times a bit uneven pop exploration. It also features one of the most beautiful chansons of some years to come: Appelle moi, written in collaboration with her ex-husband Katerine, a heartbreaker of a song about yesterday, today, and forever.

Helena Noguerra – Appelle Moi

The Class of ’34

comedharmoFast cars, hot chicks, permanently sold-out concerts and tons of money – in 1932, the Comedian Harmonists were the best selling boygroup in the world, and they even played the Berliner Philharmonie, the German Taj Mahal of classical music, with their ironic, playful, and tenderly frivolous close-harmony songs like Lass mich dein Badewasser trinken (Let Me Drink Your Bathtub Water). Since three of the six Harmonists were so-called non-Aryans, the band was finally forced to split after the Nazi party had taken over in Germany and denounced their art as »Jewish-Marxist blubbering«. In early September of 1934, the Harmonists recorded French language versions of Cole Porter’s Night and Day and Harold Arlen’s Stormy Weather – first-rate examples of their vocal finesse, and the next-to-last melodies of a success story that ended with the melancholy, choral-like Lebewohl, gute Reise (Farewell, bon voyage) they played on their final gigs before they went separate ways forever.

Comedian Harmonists – Quand il pleut
Comedian Harmonists – Tout le jour, tout la nuit

Angèle David-Guillou

indexLondon-based Angèle is, besides a young Isabella Rosselini-look-a-like, a French-born multi-instrumentalist who just released an extremely beautiful album (Kourouma) that I’ve been playing to death the last few days. She’s the artist formerly known as Klima. She played with Piano Magic, Go! Team and French band Ginger Ale. Kourouma is a neo-classical album, with piano, wurlitzer, strings, bells and the fragile voice (sometimes) of Angèle. Atmospheric is an understatement. There are hints of Yann Tiersen, Satie and Nils Frahm. It’s chamber music, it’s ambient music, it’s very emotional, music for the film in your head. The inspiration for this album comes from novels. From this interview: ‘Typically the title track was inspired by a book by Amadou Kourouma, called “Allah Is Not Obliged”. I read a lot of African literature around the time I was composing the pieces, I love its bareness and aridity, Coetzee is a favourite of mine for instance. I wanted to translate some of that in music. I also started reading in French again, and especially the work of Marguerite Duras and Françoise Sagan. The atmosphere of these books has really inspired me.’
To be honest, I’d never heard of both Piano Magic or Klima and those bands are nothing like this new album. This is goosebumps all over. Because of her looks and her music, I wonder what David Lynch would think of her.
Listen to a preview of the album HERE. See her play live HERE. Listen to Angeles favourite music HERE

Lou Reed RIP

Lou’s dead. Here’s Vanessa paying tribute. More? Here.

I’m Gonna Kill You One Thursday

askehouAbsolutely no chance to overlook a bigger-than-life eccentric like Mathieu Aschehoug, and certainly we didn’t so – this time, think the rebel mind of Philippe Katerine meeting with the ghost of Alain Bashung in a Breton brothel once owned by Barbey d’Aurevilly. Of course, Aschehoug and his band Askehoug defy any pointless comparisons. Je te tuerai un jeudi (translation see headline), now finally released as well in other European countries, recently won the Georges Moustaki 2013 Award – another dandy, yo – for its sheer cool, cleverness and shit-eating grin. Aschehoug and Askehoug are touring France, Germany and Switzerland in the next weeks – your opportunity to go down in style and ingenuity.

Askehoug – Du style

Un Ami Américain

terrydrawNo, this is neither a French singer nor a French song. But it’s a singer living in Paris for years, an album produced in a Breton studio including a wonderfully sparse song about a fille Terry Lee Hale met in a Parisian café some time ago. Hale himself, a man of 60 years now, was Seattle-based during the high times of Grunge in the mid-Eighties, a singer/ songwriter in the wrong place at the wrong time; he never got a recording contract in the U.S. and was discovered by German indie labels Normal and Glitterhouse in the 90s. His new album The Long Draw is admirable stuff all the way, the work of an ami Americain, the last song Gold Mine telling a quiet, unmistakably French story of hello and goodbye.

Terry Lee Hale – Gold Mine

Laurence Hélie

Another slice of sweet Quebec Country-Folk… sigh…

“À présent le passé” (“Right now the past”) is Quebec singer-songwriter Laurence Hélie’s follow-up to her 2010 eponymous debut album.

Whereas her first album nailed its colours unashamedly to a Western-tinged Country mast, “À présent le passé” is a far more ambitious affair. To be sure there is still a country influence, but this time around there’s an encompassing feel of pop, folk, jazz and blues. The end result is a far more expansive and accessible affair. Indeed the title is very much a description of the musical road this album has taken. While the songs are very much of today (“Right now”) and mine that rich seam of contemporary French-Canadian folk, there’s a solid foundation (“the past”) in the rich heritage of Americana – country, and the aforementioned folk and blues – that is evident through-out.

it seems that every great record coming out of Quebec this year has at least one absolutely nailed-on haunting ballad and this album is no exception. In fact there are two on display here: The melancholic and semi-autobiographical “trente ans” and “La rivière” – all piano intertwined with snare and base (again), which has rapidly embedded itself into my subconscious. It really is a beautiful arranged and soulful song.

Released at the beginning of the month, “À présent le passé” is an accomplished album containing ten polished gems from an artist expanding her musical horizons with some panache…

(Yup, another guestpost by Steve. Read his blog too!)


This is nice. Cinema, featuring Calypso Valois, daughter of Eli & Jacno. EP out in November.