Yasmine Hamdan

If you know that Marc Collin produced the most recent album by Beirut-born singer Yasmine Hamdan, you understand why there’s room for her on this blog. For Monsieur Nouvelle Vague, the mastermind behind Ollano and a whole bunch of others (see an old post here) is King Midas when it comes to les filles. This new album by Yasmine is a fusion of western electronics an Arab atmospheres, just like Yasmine’s former band Soapkills (listen to a great track she re-recorded for her album). If this is Beirut by night, then it’s far from dangerous, it’s humid, sexy, tempting. This is far better than Ofra Haza or Natasha Atlas, at least in my book.
I have no clue what Yasmine’s singing about, but an expert told me ‘the songs are about what all songs are about’. But they sure don’t sound like all songs.

Deconstructing Pablo

utelempIn the 70s, his verses always lay right beside the diaphragm on the bed stand: Pablo Neruda’s Collected Love Poems were the latest chic among cultivated female students, and some of them later even recognized that the Chilean Nobel Prize laureate of 1971 was hardly more than a pompous cheesemeister. German singer/ diseuse Ute Lemper obviously did not. Her brand-new album with the cheapo title Forever, erm, celebrates the works of Neruda in a quite singular manner one might call Ute-style. Lemper, who also was in charge of production, artistic concept and compositions, is undoubtedly out to transcend the poetry as well as the music. And delivers: Each and every title sounds like an expressionist exercise in speech therapy, an endless progression of blubbering, wailing, seething and Kunstlied whining, the French language opener La nuit dans l’ile additionally being garnished with an unhealthy dose of bandoneon and tango kitsch. Reportedly, Kaas chante Piaf didn’t have the hoped-for effect at Guantánamo. Probably they’ll give it another go with the Fräuleinwunder experience.

Ute Lemper – La nuit dans l’ile

The Seductive Skills of Miss Panton

secondAnother Canadienne, a sexy redhead being heralded to sound »like the sweetest bird you’ll ever hear« – probably a bit too much promo praise, though we’re certainly dealing with a fille fragile to boot here. Diana Panton’s fourth album, To Brazil With Love, pays homage to bossa nova and the sounds of Baden Powell, Jobim or Marcos Valle, including also five French language versions of Brazilian song material, among them a welcome adaptation of Samba Saravah with vibraphone swing, and a classy reworking of the lesser known, but equally immortal Tu sais je vais t’aimer a.k.a. Eu sei que vou te amar, written in 1970 by Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, with French lyrics by Georges Moustaki.

Diana Panton – Samba Saravah
Diana Panton – Tu sais je vais t’aimer


She went to church just to listen to religious chants. He’s obessed with the Motown beats. She listened to her sister and grandma play the piano. He started playing jazz at a young age. She holds Brel, Brassens and Ferré in high esteem, he’s into modern hiphop. She looks like the china doll version of Florence Welch, he’s dressed as a gentleman gunfighter. Together they are Moongaï. They hail from St. Nazaire, Brittany, they’ve toured in England and India and you might now Eva from her guestspot on the C2C album. Their dreampop is reminiscent of Emilie Simon, of Mylene Farmer, of Florene & the Machine, of Gainsbourg (listen to Visage Pale, on their album Cosmofamille). Zombie is the first single, with a heavy heavy bassline and a surprising break. This could be big.

Laibach on the beat

imagesAh, Mina Spiler. The She-Wolf of Laibach, that bunch of industrial totalitarianism-flirters, the Slovenian funnymen with shiny black jackboots. If women in uniform are your thing, turn to Mina. Never thought I’d ever hear her sing in French, but she does on a live version of Gainsbourgs steamy s&m-classic Love on the Beat (yep, that’s Bambou, bare-chested). Laibach recorded this version at Tate Modern. It’s from a brand new EP, new Laibach album’s coming up. See Mina in full regalia on this great Beatles-cover.

Laibach – Love on the beat

The Holydrug Couple

Apt name for this band/ duo from Santiago, Chile that transforms Serge & Jane’s Je t’aime into a spaced-out psych-popper somewhere between the realms of Procol Harum and Tame Impala. And while we’re already floating on the psychedelic pillow, don’t forget to feed your mind with the Wooden Shjips‘ version of Gainsbourg & Bardot’s Contact.

De rouille et d’os

meliscoverIndeed not another sweet bedroom voice from the French doll house: The gravelly timbre of 32-year-old singer Melissmell – coming from the départment Ardèche in the southeast of France – occasionally sounds like a mixture of Gianna Nannini and Melanie Safka. The ten songs of her second album Droit dans la gueule du loup (Straight to the Lion’s Den), all written by singer/ songwriter fellow Guillaume Favray, are melancholia stuff about the animal triste, rust, rage and bones, clothed in sparse arrangements with cloudy keyboard/ piano moods and forlorn industrial-spheric ondes Martenot frequencies, especially on the Cormac McCarthy-influenced La Route. The special prize of the jury goes to Daniel Jamet for the unique guitar work. Great cover art, too.

Melissmell – Rock’n’Roll
Melissmell – La route