Le Volume Courbe

How to get the attention of this blog? Pepper your bio with phrases like these: “Serge Gainsbourg was her mother’s favourite artist, so the first record Charlotte was given was his “Love On The Beat” (“full of orgasms – what was she thinking?”), before the more artful designs of David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges captured her blossoming imagination. The first song she ever wrote survived to become the title track on her first personal salvo.”

It does not mean the attention of this blog is immediate: Charlotte Marionneau (the Charlotte mentioned above) is making records since the end of the 90s, the debut album of her ‘band’ Le Volume Courbe was released in 2005. She worked with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, yet this is the first time she’s featured on FS. Ahem. Better late then never, eh?

Credit to DJ St. Paul for turning me to Charlotte/Le Volume Courbe. The House is a catchy single, with Charlotte’s breathy vocals sitting pretty on a driving indie-guitar groove, with added strings. Broadcast is an obvious reference. Every now and then, Marionneau sings in French, also on the cool, slow b-side of this single. Alas, no full orgasms here.

Où sont les filles?

Où sont les filles? That’s the question. One of the filles is called Anne Camille, and she’s the one playing the Jane Birkin role in the new single by Paris-based foursome (one couple + two garçons) Où Sont Les Filles. They’re inpired by Serge & Jane, obviously, Air, Seb Tellier and lush 70s pop. How on target with this blog can you get?

Old video:

Aussie Melodie

Australia calling! Next week, Mélodie Française is released, a compilation of Aussie bands covering French classics and lesser known gems. Artists I’d never heard of, like Gossling, Big Scary and The Walking Who tackle songs by Serge (of course), Françoise Hardy and Renaud. Two tasters are out there, a very nifty version of Gainsbourg & Bardot’s Bonnie & Clyde by Deep Sea Arcade with Megan Washington, and the Michel Berger-penned La minute de silence shown above. As far as I know, the comp is not released outside of Australia, but I’ll try’n get a copy.
(Merci Marjorie)

Deep Sea Arcade & Megan Washington – Bonnie & Clyde

Holydrug Couple

Chilean psych-rock band The Holydrug Couple recorded a organ-heavy version of Je t’aime… moi non plus for a Record Store Day compilation. More on that here.

Brigitte covers Gainsbourg

Kooky pop duo Brigitte (Aurelie & Sylvie) released an extended version of their quirky debut, Et Vous Tu M’Aimes?. It features a bonus disc with leftovers and covers, songs by RUN DMC (Walk this way), George Michael (I Want Your Sex) and yes, our beloved Serge. Brigitte’s take on Chez les Ye-Ye is danceable, well-arranged and one of the better cover versions, I’d say.

Brigitte – Chez les ye-ye (video of Serge’s original here)

Baptiste Trotignon, Melody Gardot

Mashing-up Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas and Gainsbourg’s La Javanaise, it can be done, and it sounds great. French jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon expertly ties these well-known chansons together on his new album. Ne Me Quitte Pas starts gentle, then Baptiste gets mental. Or desperate – just like NMQP. Then, he finishes in a melancholy mood, that fits La Javanaise, after all a song that’s about a love affair that lasts just one song. It all sounds very left bank. Serge and Jacques knew each other well, and toured together. I’m reading the English translation of Gilles Verlant’s indispensible Gainsbourg-biography, in which he tells stories of Brel charming every girl in the little town he, Serge and a small troupe of variety-artists passed through, with Serge taking note(s).
Trotignon covered Gainsbourg before, together with Aldo Romano he mashed-up Valse de Melody and Je t’aime… Mon non plus. On his new album, Song Song Song, Trotignon has another FS-regular as a guestvocalist. Melody Gardot is breezes (or should I say, breathes) through Mon fantôme. Nice.

Baptiste Trotignon – Ne Me Quitte Pas/La Javanaise
Baptiste Trotignon & Melody Gardot – Mon fantôme

Les Sœurs Calamites

Quatre filles. From Toulon respectively PACA, short for région Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The Calamity Sisters are Marion (voix, g.), Laure (voix, g.), Angie (voix), and Amira (percussion). Their self-produced premier album Wakin’ Up is chock-full of irresistible barbershop harmonies – think Andrews Sisters, think Chordettes or Puppini Sisters. Last not least, the album features a highly alluring adaptation of Monsieur Gainsbourg’s La Javanaise, written originally in the early Sixties for Juliette Gréco and covered probably a million times – this one being one of the finest versions in a long, long time, tender, sexy, and with a late nite warm lips denouement that turns fingersnipping effortlessly into a dream you never knew.

Calamity Sisters – La Javanaise

Sexiest Women in French Music Today: Beyond Category

Countdown done, everything finished, and now you know ’em all. Almost. The FS Team chose to choose The One. The hors catégorie girl. We talked Ludivine, discussed Bardot, and of course everybody at FS loves Jane. But beyond category means something different, something that distills myth and magic, someone who transcends time, style, beauty and, of course, ultimate sexiness.

„Jeez“, my friend Matthias says. „I recall vividly how I danced with a fellow lawyer to Déshabillez-moi at his farewell party, and afterwards I had to run to the loo to rinse my mouth, since we had kissed to the final chord. That’s what Juliette Gréco does to you.“ In the beginning, she didn’t even need a voice. Boris Vian, ruling prince of St. Germain, was completely enchanted by the silence of the chain-smoking beauty with the long black hair and the cool black look, and stellar writers Jacques Prévert, François Mauriac or Raymond Queneau wrote lyrics just to hear her sing – she had „millions of poems in her voice“, as existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre tried to emcompass her magnetism. Never being part of France’s huge Babe Squad, Gréco redefined the concept of the female self, and en passant the idea of chanson. In 1959, only 32 years old, she invited a then quite unknown songwriter to her house: Serge Gainsbourg, who was so nervous that he spilled the whiskey she offered him, and couldn’t get out a single coherent sentence. Soon after he wrote Les Amours Perdues, Accordéon and La Javanaise for her, perhaps his finest songs. Better than anyone else, Gréco knew that it was all about finding a voice. That’s what she did for herself, for Serge, and for French song.

Juliette Gréco – Valse de l’au-revoir
Juliette Gréco – Mirabeau sous le pont

Freedom Fry

The equation is simple – One French girl + one American guy = the band Freedom Fry. To be more exact, the duo is that of Parisian born Marie Seyrat and New York City’s Bruce Driscoll. So far, they made two EPs and a single with folksy tracks, sometimes with electronics added. Marie’s voice reminds me of Inara George’s. Most FF-songs are in English but Marie occassionally sings in French too. Like on the duo’s charming cover of Serge & Brigitte’s Bonnie & Clyde – listen to what they did with those wa-hoo-ha-hoo-hoo’s from the original. Find more Freedom Fry tracks on Bandcamp or Soundcloud.

Freedom Fry – Bonnie & Clyde

Iggy sings Serge

Iggy Pop singing in French. De indestructible rocker did it before, duetting with Emmanuelle Seigner for instance (here), singing Les feuilles mortes on his Preliminaires-album (see here) and covering Serge Gainsbourg together with Lulu, on the latter’s debut album (see here). On Iggy’s new album, he sings songs by Dassin, Piaf, Brassens and Gainsbourg again, together with covers by The Beatles, Fred Neil and Yoko Ono. When you’ve heard the accent Iggy has when he sings in French, less charming then Blossom Dearie’s I’d say, you know how those covers sound. Funny, not good. Born in 1947, Iggy was the one exception to the rule that you can’t rock out when you’re over 40. Now, he proves that crooning, re-interpreting the classics, is an art that needs more than just a deep voice. I mean, Michelle by the Beatles, by Iggy? Come THE FUCK on. Must be a joke. If you want to hear old guys doing what they do best, listen to the new Leonard Cohen album, listen to Dr John’s Locked Down, listen to Tom Jones covering Tom Waits, even. But not this.

Iggy Pop – La javanaise

See video of Serge singing La Javanaise HERE