Salomé Leclerc’s debut: worth the wait

Salomé Leclerc - Sous Les ArbresIt took Salomé Leclerc almost four years to release her debut ‘Sous Les Arbres’. These years of writing, fine-tuning, re-arranging and rehearsing resulted in a very intimate, subtle and layered album that reveals its treasures slowly but surely. Together with Emily Loizeau (they met each other for the first time at ‘Les Rencontres d’Astaffort’) she managed to record a rudimentary album with lots of folk-influences that nonetheless doesn’t get on the nerves. A tour de force in itself, but she succeeded. The darkhaired beauty from Québec is blessed with a very versatile voice that is hoarse when needed (Dans la prairie), bright and strong (Partir Ensemble) and ominous and exciting (Volcan). The guitar-driven songs are the perfect field for her voice to play on and simultaneously kidnap the listeners mind to drop it somewhere under the trees.
Salomé Leclerc made an outstanding debut (but I still wonder why a stunningly beautiful song as ‘Est-il Cassé ?’ – see video below – isn’t on it).
Guuzbourg was right, yearlist-material people.

Salomé Leclerc – Tourne encore

Salomé Leclerc – Est-il Cassé ? (live at ‘Les Rencontres d’Astaffort’)

When Beatrice met Jay

Two authentic musicians collaborating together doesn’t automatically yield the best of both worlds. But with their project ‘Armistice‘, francophone musician Beatrice Martin (Coeur de Pirate) and anglo rocker Jay Malinowski (Bedouin Soundclash) prove that things can work out.
Beatrice and Jay first met while recording the Coca-Cola Open Happiness song (click is on your own risk) for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which probably led to their next collaboration at Bedouin Soundclash’ latest album Light The Horizon. Beatrice takes part on one song, the stunning track Brutal Hearts. The result of their next musical collaboration is this sultry refreshment from the mariachi playgrounds: Armistice. The two Canadians (who became a couple meanwhile, sorry guys!) recorded it with help from hardcore punk band The Bronx, who recorded a mariachi album themselves in 2009 under the alter ego ‘Mariachi El Bronx’.
Armistice makes you feel where you want to be, in love and free. The only thing is: this feeling only lasts five songs long, ’cause sadly that’s all there is on this superb debut.

Mariachi El Bronx – My Brother The Gun
Bedouin Soundclash ft. Beatrice Martin – Brutal Hearts
Armistice – City Lights Cry

See earlier post with video here

Allez Vanessa!

Vanessa Contenay-QuinonesNo extensive introduction on Vanessa Contenay-Quinones here at FS anymore. Regular visitors already know the cool seduction on high heels with the beautiful, sultry voice and misty eyes for a while now. Her 60’s influenced French popmusic was already around here a few times. Same goes for the music of her band Vanessa and the O’s (about to release a new album soon too, the site stated), but we never had a topic on her first band Espiritu, with whom she recorded two albums from 1993 to 1997. The best was then yet to come.
Inbetween 2008 and 2010 Vanessa recorded several tracks for her project called Allez Pop! Some of them ended up on compilation albums like Filles Fragiles 2 and Musique Fantastique, one track (Bon Bon Bon) even made it to the OST of the action-comedy Killers with Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck and Katherine Heigl. So it was about time to put all the recordings together and release Allez Pop! A superb idea. The tracks are seductive, fresh, quirky and tributary of course to Gainsbourg and Bardot, Dutronc and Hardy to name but a few. An unpretentious candy with attitude. Highly recommended.

And for those who might start thinking that Vanessa can’t do any wrong… just wait and see her with a bizarre performance as Vanessa St. James in collaboration with Lou Reed (!) on a weird kinda dance version of Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sunday Morning’. Not even a sin of her youth, as this Italian show (starts at 02.30) is from 2004. But some can’t do wrong, right?

Vanessa Contenay-Quinones – Odyssée
(see the video)

Bubbling under: Salomé Leclerc

There were some pretty cool debuts last year like Lafille, ZAZ and Brune to just mention some. Others filles like Élodie Frégé, Cécile Hercule or Babet ‘simply’ consolidated their position as certified filles fragile. Let’s just hope that next year will bring us at least the same high quality in French music as this last year did.
One release with high expectations that is already announced by herself for 2011, is the debut from yet another darkhaired beauty, 23 years old from Canada: Salomé Leclerc.
Unlike others who prefer the intimacy of a studio, Salomé played a lot of festivals (among which FrancoFolies) and clubs the past few years to discover her own style just by playing her songs over and over again for live audiences.
Together with her music director Philippe B., former frontman for Gwenwed and guitarist for Pierre Lapointe, she is now working on her debut. In this interview she isn’t sure yet of the direction in which her debut will move, but according to her MySpace and YouTube, we may expect quite some exciting and sultry moments of joy. Think Marie Daguerre, think Cat Power, think Geneviève Toupin, think Salomé. Don’t let us wait too long!

Happy New Year Y’all!

Salomé Leclerc @ MySpace
Salomé Leclerc @ YouTube

(ps: even more exciting releases next year? Let us know in the comments!)

Joseph Gainsbourg (Better late than never)

Christmas 2010 did already pass, I know, Christmas A Go Go already shut its door for this year, but luckily there’s always room for some Serge Gainsbourg paraphernalia here at FS.

In 1965 a television show started at ORTF in France called Dim Dam Dom, which stood for Dimanche, Dames and D(h)ommes. The show ran for six years until 1970 and intended to be informative and humoristic with musical intermezzi. It was presented by girls like Françoise Hardy, Mireille Darc, Nathalie Delon, France Gall, Marie Laforêt and Sheila.
In 1966 Dim Dam Dom made ‘Noël à Vaugirard’, a rather bizarre Christmas abattoir edition with a talking cow and donkey, singing nuns and Serge Gainsbourg as Joseph and Chantal Goya as Mary. Other appearances came from Guy Marchand, Sylvie Vartan and Jacques Dutronc.

Enjoy 17 minutes of Christmas strangeness here!

UPDATE: FS-reader Jan Willem recognised the music in the beginning of this movie, turns out it’s the ultra-cool Gil Evans:
Gil Evans – Where Flamingos Fly

Something to die for (Dia de Los Muertos 4)

It’s my own guilty pleasure to re-write my will every now and then. Nothing much to say in it actually, but nevertheless, music is an important part of it. One track that is in it for years now: ‘The Carnival Is Over’ performed by Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds back in 1986 on their ‘Kicking Against The Pricks’ album with only covers on it. A rather dull and annoying song in itself, but what Cave and companion Blixa Bargeld made out of it sounds as the most beautiful and thrilling Goodbye to me.
The original of the song (and we’re going to do a little Blokhuisje now – Dutch readers know what I mean) goes way back in time. Most people know this track as performed by The Seekers in 1965. Tom Springfield (yes, Dusty’s brother) wrote the lyrics for them. At the label also credits for Frank Farian, a German producer who wasn’t the most original man in musicbizz, so a bit of suspicion is allowed here. This Seekers’ song was covered very often, but was ‘The Carnival Is Over’ an original in itself? The answer: no. In fact the track goes back to 1826 when Hector Berlioz used a piece of an old Russian traditional in the ouverture of his opera ‘Les Francs-juges‘. Later on this evolved in a Russian folksong titled ‘Stenka Rasin’, that was recorded by several orchestras and artists under all kind of different titles.

One of those performers is – and now we’re getting close, finally this is a blog about French music – Charles Aznavour & les Compagnons de la Chanson, who recorded it as ‘(La Légende de) Stenka Razine’ in 1951. Not half as stunning and touching as Cave did, but French it is.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Carnival Is Over
Charles Aznavour & les Compagnons de la Chanson – (La Légende de) Stenka Razine

Bye Bye Bobbejaan

Today Belgium lost one of its most remarkable (cult)icons for life. The day after he celebrated his 85th birthday, Bobbejaan Schoepen died of a heart-attack at the Turnhout hospital. He was famous because of his yodeling and whistling talent. Check a funny old video from the movie ‘At the the Drop of a Head’ (L’Ordonnance) from 1962 over here and see why he was often called the Belgium cowboy. Toots Thielemans taught him how to play the harmonica in 1951 while playing guitar in Bobbejaans band and – not coincidentally – Toots himself became a professional whistler too. Bobbejaan was the first European to do a gig at the famous Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, but wanted to spend more time back home with his wife.
In an attempt to quit touring that much, he bought a castle in 1959, which he turned into a place for variete. Nowadays this place is called ‘Bobbejaanland’, a very big amusement park for families with kids. This park made Bobbejaan a very fortunated man.
In 2008 the Belgium cowboy returned to his roots as he recorded a highly recommended come-back album simply called ‘Bobbejaan’. Acoustic mostly, fragile and intense songs on the edge of country and singer-songwriting. He also planned to release a new live-album later on this year… Don’t know whether these tracks were already recorded or not, but luckily for us he left us with two breathtaking duets on his last album.
Bye Bye Bobbejaan, I do hope the pubs up-there are well equipped!

Bobbejaan Schoepen – Café Sans Export (From the movie L’Ordonnance)
Bobbejaan Schoepen & Geike Arnaert – Le Temps des Cerises
(Clip @ YouTube)
Bobbejaan Schoepen & Axelle Red – Je Me Suis Souvent Demandé