Faux French Fellas

amourettesThe masterminds behind Les Chauds Lapins are New York’s Meg Reichardt and Kurt Hoffman who formerly worked with indie celebs They Might Be Giants or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The songs of chanson genius Charles Trenet – »our quintessential art-pop guy« – inspired them to found their very own rive gauche French music hall of mirrors, echoing the surrealist wit of the 20s and 30s. Their 2011 album Amourettes features the funny, cheeky and irresistibly swingin’ Je t’aime, a vocal version of Django Reinhardt’s Swing ’39 with lyrics by the unforgotten Jacques Larue. If you’re looking for the missing link between faux French fellas Pink Martini and Nous Non Plus, this is it – a folie du jour to boot, and certainly a most sexy one.

Les Chauds Lapins – Je t’aime

Martini Ad of the Week

pinkcoverOf course they are as much an American band as Grand Funk once were. Nonetheless Portland, Oregon’s »little orchestra« Pink Martini will always be identified with their postmodernist faux French smash hit Sympathique, also known as Je ne veux pas travailler, which sold a few million copies around the globe. On their brand new album Get Happy, they broaden their ‘ollywood swing nostalgia world music style with lyrics in Japanese, Turkish, Mandarin and Romanian; they even start with a German lingo opener. You might’ve already guessed there’s also a wink and a smile towards France: Je ne t’aime plus is finest understated Gallic bossa easy listening. Even better, it features neo-chanson legend and enfant terrible Philippe Katerine on vocals, and goodness gracious, it doesn’t sound faux at all.

Pink Martini – Je ne t’aime plus

Apollinaire’s Pink Hotel

midtsomThe folks at legendary East German youth radio station DT64 were the first to air songs by GDR blues rockers Keimzeit in 1980, though their first album – titled Irrenhaus (Loony Bin) was only released ten years later, when the Wall finally had vanished. Their new album Midtsommer under the moniker Keimzeit Akustik Quintett features two French lingo cover versions, Trenet’s La Mer and Pink Martini’s 1997 million seller Sympatique – though on PM’s album the credits go to band members China Forbes and Thomas Lauderdale, the lyrics were drawn from Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem Hôtel, already used by French composer and Groupe des Six member Francis Poulenc for his 1940 piece Banalités, FP 107: ii. Hôtel.

Keimzeit Akustik Quintett – Sympathique