woensdag 31 januari 2007

Frères Sourires Finale: Brel covered

As promised, we're closing the Month of Male with a top 15 of the bestest Brel-covers by men. Yes, I know I said Top 25 before, but how many Ne Me Quitte Pas-versions can you take?
I left out the four covers already posted (Pierre Lapointe's version should be in this list, though). And I've added a few miscalleneous versions. Thanks to Gerwin, SOM, John, Billy and everyone else who has send me emails and tips about coverversions.
Hors Categorie

Dusty Springfield - If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Best coverversion ever. Nuff said.

1. Scott Walker - Next
2. Gavin Friday - Next
3. M - Au Suivant
These versions of Au Suivant really stand out. They differ a lot: Walker does a stiff-upper-lip-take, Gavin foames at the mouth, and M adds some modernity. Walker's Brel-cd is a must-have, by the way. The Gavin Friday-cover is a very rare live-version,recorded by Dutch radio in Amsterdam.

4. Herman van Veen - Liefde van later (Chanson des Vieux Amants)
5. Luc de Vos - De Sluiswacht (L'Éclusier)
Jacques Brel in Dutch, no thanks. Except for these two versions. Herman van Veen is a living theatrical legend in Holland (and succesful in Germany too), Luc de Vos fronts the Belgian rockband Gorki, and has so much melancholy in his voice, you should keep a handkerchief nearby.

6. Tchad Unpoe - Les Moutons
Yes, you can rap a lyric by Brel. And the outcome is great, too.

7. Arno - Le Bon Dieu
This is such a brilliant version. Rotten to the core, in a good way.

8. Yuri Buenaventura - Ne Me Quitte Pas
Yes, you can add some salsa to one of the saddest songs ever written.

9. Noir Desir - Ces-gens là
Like a course, this version. Loathing 101.

10. Les Croquants - Jacky
They did a few Brel-covers, this upbeat folky version is my favourite.

11. Achil Komodo - Vesoul
Also very upbeat, very sunny. And very good.

12. David Bowie - Amsterdam
I heard one horrible version of Amsterdam by David and Ute Lemper. Solo is better.

13. Divine Comedy - Jacky
Very Scott Walker-ish. But Neil Hannon is a great surrogate.

14. Paul Armfield - Why Should It Be That A Man Gets Bored? (Pourquoi-faut il que les hommes s'ennuient?)
I don't like it when a singer tries to imitate Brel, and believe you-me, while researching for this post I heard a lot of ba-a-a-a-d imitations. Paul tries a little, but not too much. I never heard the original, but I think this stays close to it. Could be worse.

15. Sting - If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)
Really, it's not as bad as you think. He seems to sing it with a Canadian accent, though.


Grooveblaster - If You Go Away
Loungey remix of Ne Me Quitte Pas, tastefully done. I don't know which version G'blaster used, though. Do you?

Les Snuls - Avec
Funny guys, using a Brel-sample in a funny way

Pate Mustajärvi - Nyt (Au Suivant)
Brel in German is terrible - see how long you can stand Klaus Hoffman. But Brel in Finnish? Hmm....

dinsdag 30 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (26): Dominique A

The Month of Male started with Dominique A(né), and it's going to close with the genius from Provins too. (Yes, the Brel-superpost is coming up as well).
His first album La Fosette (1992) singlehandedly kickstarted the Nouvelle Chanson movement, featuring young fresh guys and dolls who were as inspired by American and British indierock as by the grand French chanson-tradition. Dominique is a declared fan of Christophe and Barbara, for instance. His musical style is considered to be minimalistic - I'd call it Spartan. A voice and some noise. Most of the time the noise is produced by a guitar, a beatbox and some samples (Dom almost all the time works in trio-form), but his voice is always on the forefront. And what a voice that is. It can be demanding, it can be sharp, but most of the time it's lovelorn. No other French singer can sound that heartbroken as Dominique Ané. His best album, to me, is Auguri (2001), but the very melodic Tout Sera Comme Avant (2004) and L'Horizon (2006) are great too. The experimental Remué (1999) is best approached with care.
He surfaced before on this blog, and almost all the time it was mentioned he's the former lover of Francoiz Breut (they have a son together). She designed the cover of his first album, sang on several songs like his best-known chanson Le 22 Bar, and he wrote a lot of songs for her. Dom also wrote songs for Jeanne Balibar, worked with Yann Tiersen and is supposed to be a member of the mysterious group Oslo Telescopic. L'Horizon, Dom's last album released in 2006, is an intimate masterpiece.

Dominique A - L'Echo(from La Fosette)
Dominique A - Chanson de la ville silencieuse (from Si je connais Harry)
Dominique A - Le Travail (from La Memoire Neuve)
Dominique A - Je Suis Un Ville (from Remué)
Dominique A - Je t'ai toujours aimée (from Auguri)
Dominique A - Pendant que les enfants jouent (from Tout Sera Comme Avant)
Dominique A - Rouvrir (from L'Horizon)
Dominique A - Mon camarade (Léo Ferré-cover, from tributealbum Avec Léo!)
Dominique A & Francoiz Breut - Teenage Kicks (Undertones cover) (Merci Susie)

Frères Sourires (25): Confusion of Gender

We are approaching the end of the Month of Male here on Filles Sourires. SOM has a nice take on the theme:

"You make me feel like a natural woman". All the following male singers could have interpreted this Aretha Franklin classic... They are all men and assume to sing a song created by/for female singers. From a funny Diane Tell cover by Jérémie Kisling to the Claire Diterzi's sexual healings by Franck Monnet. Here are cocky songs!!

In this short selection, there's so much irony. When I heard Vincent Delerm singing with Keren Ann that 80's classic Tout doucement(Tran. "All softly"), I realized that the lyrics were so beautiful... I didn't expected that, because the song by Bibie hasn't got a good reputation in the French musical industry. When Jérémie Kisling sings Si j'étais un homme (Tran. "If I were a woman"), it's a very nice occasion to smile and hear a refreshing and surprising version of Diane Tell's classic. We can also find humour in Sur le pont d'Avignon, the ambiguous sexy song taken from the last Claire Diterzi's album. The song was originally recorded by Franck Monnet for his own album but the song was refused by his label. He gave it to Claire Diterzi, who fell in love with it during Franck Monnet concert. This straight love song becomes a gay love song in a daring interpretation... In the Émilie Simon cover, Flowers by Mathias from Dionysos, it's hilarious to hear a man singing a girlie ditty. Male singers can be brilliant - ánd have a great sense of humour.

Jérémie Kisling - Si j'étais un homme
Diane Tell - Si J'étais un Homme
Franck Monnet - Sur le pont d'Avignon
Claire Diterzi - Sur le pont d'Avignon
Mathias (from Dionysos) - Flowers
Emilie Simon - Flowers
Vincent Delerm & Keren Ann - Tout Doucement
Bibie - Tout Doucement

Frères Sourires (24): Jerome Attal

Editors, She Wants Revenge, Interpol, Jerome Attal. What do these artists have in common? A knack for Joy Division. Or at least the oblique, claustrofobic take on new wave JD had (thanks to producer Martin Hannett) back in the late seventies. And just like his British and American collegues, Paris-based Jerome Attal says he never was into Joy Division that much, that he has his own style and all the comparisons are just lazy journalism. R-i-i-i-g-h-t. Just listen to Comme Elle Se Donne, the title-track of Jerome's third album (from 2005). That bassline, that low voice, that choir, it's all gone Ian Curtis to me. Enfin. Attal sure is a genuine talent, who not only makes great music, he writes nouvelles too. And songs for other people, like Johnny Hallyday, Florent Pagny and the band Vendetta. If you go to his MySpace-site, you can see the two clips he made with three beautiful actresses, Melanie Laurent singing in Quand Tu Me N'Aimeras Plus, and Marie Denarnaud & Vahina Giocante dancing suggestively in Comme Elle Se Donne.

Jerome Attal & Melanie Laurent - Quand Tu Me N'Aimeras Plus
Jerome Attal - Comme Elle Se Donne

maandag 29 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (23): Julien Clerc

Speenhoff requested me to write a post about Julien Clerc, and focussing on his collaboration with Carla Bruni. That whole story is here. In short: they met at a dinnerparty, she told him she wrote songs, he politely smiled and referred to his agent. Then one day he found a fax, with beautiful lyrics. When he found out the song was written by Carla, he not only named the album after that first song (Si j'étais elle), she ended up writing five more songs for that cd, that came out in 2000 and sold very well. Later on, Carla duetted with Julien, in a translated version of the standard I Get Along Without You Very Well. And she wrote two songs for his last album. When I interviewed Carla, she told me it took her a long time to write these, because she was already tangled up in the No Promises-project, for which she read a lots of English poetry and quite frankly got a little bored of writing French songs. "But hey, I promised to do it, so I did it", she told me.
Paul-Alain Leclerc, aka Julien Clerc, is a survivor. He was among the first French artists who enjoyed succes across the border in the sixties, scoring major hits in Holland - the very danceable Venise being the best. When you see his afro-like coupe, it's no surprise he made a name in France doing the musical Hair. He's pop-royalty in France, made a lot of albums and staying in very good shape. He's not my cup of tea, but I enjoy his hits every now and then, and sure like his collabs with Carla.

Julien Clerc - Elle voulait qu'on l'appelle Venise
Julien Clerc - Elisa (Gainsbourg-cover)
Julien Clerc & Carla Bruni - Qu'est-ce que tu crois?
Julien Clerc - Si j'étais elle
Julien Clerc - Une vie de rien (both songs written by Carla Bruni)

Frères Sourires (22): Stuart A. Staples

Guestpost! Roger Grund on Stuart A. Staples and Tindersticks. Okay, this might be stretching the Frères Sourires-project a little - Tindersticks isn't a French band, nor do they sing in French a lot. But Roger chose a great song (in French), and every chance to introduce people to this brilliant band I take! Go right ahead, Roger:

So talented, yet so unbothered by success, fame and all that comes with it. That is, in a nutshell, Tindersticks, from Nottingham, UK. For a brief moment in 1995, around the release of their second album characteristically named Tindersticks, it appeared as if the band were going to massive, but of course, it did never happen. Their fanbase were more concerned about this than the band; Tindersticks simply continued on their journey of progressively more subtle and seducing songs, a journey that has led to solo recordings by Tindersticks singer Stuart A. Staples, most recently.
France always occupied a special position in Tindersticks-land. Like Roxy Music before them, aestetically and atmospherically Tindersticks are regarded as ‘European’ - then again, almost any band that does not sing about beer and football is deemed continental in Britain. In France they played sell out shows in prestigious venues, had modest airplay and an active following in artistic circles. Maybe with this in mind, Tindersticks recorded Plus de Liaisons, a French-language version of No More Affairs from their second album, the closest Tindersticks ever approached a Hit Single. Plus de Liaisons finds Tindersticks in a reflective mood, where the singer ponders the emotional cost of his ‘fooling around’ and concludes that from now on there will be Plus de Liaisons.

Tindersticks - Plus de Liaisons

donderdag 25 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (21): Bertrand Betsch

Bertrand Betsch a l’élégance de déprimer joyeusement, somebody wrote about strawberry-blonde Betsch, who debuted in 1997 with La Soupe à la Grimace. It was released on the Lithium-label, at the time the home of Dominique A., Francoiz Breut and Jerome Minière, the heroes of the nouvelle chanson. Betsch, with his delicate, high voice, put intimate confessions in his songs, but could also be very cruel and cold. In this interview, he is asked if he feels any kinship with author Bret Easton Ellis, also someone who can be very intimate and very cruel. It's like somebody hit a sore spot: Betsch detests Ellis. Shame, 'cause there are comparisons. The year after the release of his debut, Bertrand lost his voice, for the next 12 months he had to recover. He then returned with B.B. Sides, a very personal album with some covers (songs by Phil Spector, Dominique A and Leonard Cohen) and nine self-penned songs. I haven't heard that one, but my online friend Roar tells me it's "probably the worst disappointment I've had as a music collector". So there. You can listen to Nu from that album on BB's Myspace-site. Pas de Bras, Pas de Chocolat (2004) is way better, Betsch has a go at different musical styles like jazz and reggae, and writes a lot of infectious songs. In February, his new album comes out. First single and titletrack La Chaleur Humaine has some irie vibes as well.

Bertrand Betsch - La Chaleur Humaine
Bertrand Betsch - Des Gens Attendant (from Pas de Bras Pas de Chocolat)
Bertrand Betsch - Un Mauvais Vivant (from Soupe à la Grimace)

dinsdag 23 januari 2007

Interlude - Here is the News

So, 20 posts under way in the Month of Male here on Filles Sourires. Great posts yet to come, I'm building up quite an archive of brilliant Brel-covers for the closing of this month. But don't think I've lost track of les filles. This interlude is to let you know that the first track from Keren Ann's upcoming, self-titled album is available (thanks to SOM). Keren Ann is out late March. In February, Romane Serda's new album is released, first single T'étais pas là is out now.
Already out is Carla Bruni's second cd - iTunes offers a special inédit of Those Dancing Days Are Gone with vocals by Lou Reed. Funny. Also released: Marthelene's first autoproduit record. To order, go here.
December 2006, Juliette Gréco released a new album, featuring songs made famous by Serge, Brel, Piaf and others. Only heard snippets from that one.
Dutch singer Fréderique Spigt made an album featuring some French songs last year, among those was a translation and tango-adaptation of The Rolling Stones' Terrifying (from the Steel Wheels-album). She did not get permission before the album was released, alas, but recently Jagger & Richards approved her cover. Good stuff!
Surfing on MySpace I bumped into Lilou - a self-confessed Lolita who made a shiny cover of Serge's Harley Davidson. Yelle, Uffie, Lilou, Nadj - electro-grrls rule!
Oh, and the poster in this post is from the upcoming Soirée Gainsbourg in the Antwerp Petrol-club, on March 2. Be there?!

Keren Ann - Lay Your Head Down
Carla Bruni & Lou Reed - Those Dancing Days Are Gone
Romane Serda - T'étais pas là
Fréderique Spigt - Terrifiant (Rolling Stones-cover)
Lilou - Harley Davidson (Serge Gainsbourg-cover)

Frères Sourires (20): Sanseverino

Very few music makes the hair on my back stand up, but gypsy-jazz sure does the trick. With all due respect to the technique and the skill of Django Reinhardt cum suis, this music is too ticklish, too nervous, too alpino-cap-and-striped-shirt - I dunno. Two exceptions, both have to do with a Stephane: if Django is joined by violinist Stephane Grapelli, or if Stephane Sanseverino has his way with this style.
The singer/guitarplayer of Italian descent first traveled the world with his family of papermakers, before landing in France and joining several rockbands. He mastered his guitarplaying, fell in love with gypsy-jazz, Eastern European music, 50s chansons, Jimi Hendrix and whatnot, and formed his own band: Les Voleurs des Poules, a reference to gypsies, who were seen as chicken thieves. First a duo, then a full band, they became quite popular. Sanseverino earned his first nickname, 'Le Nerveux', made an album and toured extensively. But eventually the band fell apart due to 'artistic differences'. It gave way for Stephane's succesful solocareer: his first album in 2001 went gold. With three studioalbums under his belt and one live-cd, Sanseverino still is France's Monsieur Swing. A great guitarplayer, a funny lyricist, owner of a personal, recognisable style and capable of making me fingersnap like mad.

Sanseverino - La Mer (from Tango des Gens, 2001)
Sanseverino - Eloge de la Tristesse(from Les Senegalaises, 2004)
Sanseverino - Cette Conne M'Ennuie (from Exactement, 2006)

Frères Sourires (19): Toma

Guestpost! Roar on Toma:

Toma's Basse fidelité (2002) holds up from beginning to end with crisp, quirky, and catchy pop sensibilities. Cinematic and lounge-y leanings are underscored by bleeps, filmic dialogues, and sampled instruments, but in a way where these elements seamlessly blend into melody and overall instrumentation. For this reason when Toma pulls musically odd tricks, they're never outrageous. Rather they're pleasantries much like pranks from a sweet-heart are when you feel only 70 percent up to them. Plenty enough to get you on the alert, regain some energy, and try a bigger smile on for size, right?

Anyway, that's what this album does to me. So I like it.

Toma - Jack est un ami

maandag 22 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (18): Polar

At some pictures, he looks like the fragile, introspective younger brother of Darkness-singer Justin Hawkins. Eric Linder, a.k.a. Polar, doesn't do jumpsuits, vocal acrobatics or Queen, but elegant, sensitive pop. Jour Blanc, released last fall, is his debut en français, but his fourth album in total. The first three were in English, the native language of Irish born Linder, who also lived in Switzerland and now resides in Paris. I missed his English albums, very much inspired by singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and Tim Hardin (add some Tim and Jeff Buckley as well), but Jour Blanc is a very nice surprise. It has hints of Dominique A and, again, Jeff Buckley. Polar (do not mistake him for this Polar) caught the attention of the great Miossec, who approached him with the idea of doing a French album.
They worked together (Polar also wrote the music for Neige, on Miossec's last cd), and Jour Blanc was the excellent result. Not every lyric was written by Miossec, Le Brasier is Eric's own, and Au Verso de ce Monde is ofcourse a cover of a song made famous by Jeanne Moreau. [Merci á Franss]

Polar - Le Brasier
Polar - Au Verso de ce Monde
Polar - Ciel, Lac, Orage, etc (all from Jour Blanc)
Polar - Bipolar Dream (from Bi)

donderdag 18 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (17): Arthur H

If you're the son of a famed songwriter and comedian, you might feel the weight of your heritage whilst getting your own career started. Or feel blocked, frustrated, unable to carry that weight, or the comparison. Arthur Higelin (1966) never had those problems, although he did shorten his name. Jacques Higelin, for he's the dad, was an influence on his son's music, as were Gainsbourg, Vian and Waits. Arthur H debuted in 1990 with a self-titled cd, made with two other musicians. A smokey-barroom of an album, featuring selfpenned songs and a jolly version of Piaf's Padam Padam. For his next album he extended his band, and worked on his flamboyant stage-show - the first steps young master Higelin took to building a firm live-reputation. So far, H has made ten albums (Trouble-Fête is my favourite), and none sounds the same. Okay, well, that's not completely true: H likes to experiment with sounds, genres and instrumentation, but his voice stays the same. It sounds forced at times, like he's parodizing ravine-jazz-Serge or piano-has-been-drinking-Tom, but his rough pipes sure add to the atmosphere. Showtime (2006) is his latest effort, featuring a funny duet with that other French singer with a famous dad and a shortened name: M(athieu Chedid). This is Arthur's official site, and yes, he's on YouTube.

Arthur H - Padam Padam (from Arthur H)
Arthur H - Le Baron Noir (from Trouble Fête)
Arthur H - Une Rose pour Madame X (from Madame X)
Arthur H & Feist - La Chanson de Satie (from Adieu Tristesse)
Arthur H & M - Est-ce que tu aimes (from Showtime)
Arthur H & Françoise Hardy - Les Sédiments (from Hardy's Parenthèses-album)

dinsdag 16 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (16): Sacha Distel

On request: a post about Sacha Distel, written by none other than the charming Natasha-la-la:

Sacha Distel went from award-winning jazz guitarist to French super crooner faster than a Porsche can burn down the corniche on the way to St. Tropez. When he sang for the first time, performing Scoubidou in 1958, it became an instant hit with the teens, coined the name of the gimp or ‘scoubies’ they still make today, and landed him a spot on the Ed Sullivan show in the United States.
His famous musical uncle, Ray Ventura, got Sacha working and learning with the likes of Henri Salvador, Georges Brassens and Juliette Gréco. Sacha also starred in his own talk show, the Sacha Show, which drew attention to his Frank Sinatra side. In the 1970s, Sacha became Britain’s darling as well, as he wooed the Anglo-Saxon world on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Queen and a plethora of American artists who all wanted to work with him.
Sacha also did one thing in common with Serge Gainsbourg - Brigitte Bardot – which also had the same crash-bang ending to it. It brings to mind that ‘chanson à trois’, La bise aux hippies, with the three of them happily exploiting the title of the song. Sacha also sang the lesser duets Ces mots stupides and Le soleil de ma vie with Bardot. No hard feelings apparently.
Remember Piero Umiliani’s song Mah Na Mah Na that sounds like a kids’ song but was actually featured in a Swedish porn movie? Well, Dutch television once used Sacha’s Monsieur Cannibale in a television commercial with small children. The song is about a man trying to escape from cannibals by showing them porno magazines to explain why he wants to leave… and then gets to shag their women instead and decides to stay.
Sacha again made history with a jazz album entitled Altitude 10,500, which was recorded high up in an airplane. It was meant as a publicity stunt for Air France to show off the sound proofing of their planes. Other Sacha party pieces include Plage de St-Tropez, Y en a qui font ça and the great sing-a-long number, Incendie à Rio. Don’t let those blue eyes and bright smile fool you - this guy’s way cool.

Sacha Distel - Incendie à Rio
Sacha Distel - Monsieur Cannibale
Sacha Distel - Scoubidou
Dubstar featuring Sacha Distel - Poupée de cire, poupée de son

maandag 15 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (15): Brel

This Month of Male needs to have a post about Jacques Brel. But instead of just posting a few brilliant Brel-songs, me and Soundofmusique decided to post some extraspecial Brel-covers. Take it away:

Everyday on French radio, France Inter, a famous talk-show (Le Fou du Roi, for podcasts, click here) invites singers to cover a French standard. A good means to forget the never-ending promotional tour of overheard artists. Here, they come to share their musical inheritance in an exclusive live performance. Franck Gelibert, the pianist of the show, plays with the artists.
Jacques Brel is probably the most covered artist in this radio show. Many 'Frères sourires' gave recently their version of his songs.
Pierre Lapointe sang Au suivant. Originally recorded in 1964, the song has also been covered by Camille & -M-.
Bénabar covered La chanson des vieux amants, originally recorded in 1967.
Florent Marchet chose Fernand (Not Brassens' Fernande), originally recorded in 1965.
And finally, the new comer, Fred K, sang Madeleine, originally recorded in 1962.

Pierre Lapointe - Au suivant
Bénabar - La chanson des vieux amants
Florent Marchet - Fernand
Fred K - Madeleine

Ofcourse there are far more Brel-covers (by men), I'd like to close the Month of Male with a monsterpost containing the 25 greatest Brel-covers. I have some lined up, but input by you, dear readers, is much appreciated.

Frères Sourires (14): Murat

Guestpost! Roger Grund on Jean-Louis Murat:

These days we are being bombarded with superlatives: the Best of This, the Greatest of That, the Most Influential Artist of the So and So Decade, you name the lot of these pointless accolades. Music writers particularly seem to have an incurable desire to declare their refined taste in pop music in the shape of ‘Top Too Much’ lists, as if subtlety, nuances and shades of grey are extinct.

But we know better than that. Music is neither speedscating nor a popularity contest. Music is art that lives in the mind of the listener, and transforms lives. So we come to listen to Au Mont Sans-Souci by Jean-Louis Murat, from 2001. So deceptively simple, yet ever so gently intriguing, so understated, and at the same time so compelling. Au Mont Sans-Souci is a song that lives and needs to be lived in, and that confronts how we live, love and die. Only the best music can do that. And that’s all there is to say about that.

Jean-Louis Murat - Au Mont Sans-Souci

donderdag 11 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (13): Frédéric Truong

Another guestpost, this time it's J-W on Frédéric Truong.

One of the French artists who’s really close to my heart is the Nancy based singer/composer Frédéric Truong. I already know him since his intimate neoclassical project Leitmotiv (1992 - 2002). This music is full of sadness and pain but not in a slash-your-wrists-way. It is always like he performs it right in your living room. He has made seveb albums including a compilation and a split album with the excellent French industrial-ambient project Nouvelles Lectures Cosmopolites After his Leitmotiv period, Truong decided to continue his musical journey under his own name. His music style has changed to a more song driven. Now I meet his music again, but this time it is like a close friend or a brother who understands what I’m thinking is able to comfort me.
After a lot of e-mails with Frédéric he really bacame that friend. His first album Piano Solo is an intimate affair, with only piano and voice. A lot of his texts are very poetic and often based on the poetry of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine and Prevert. The musical influences range from Serge Gainsbourg, Barbara, Jacques Brel and Dominique A to Tuxedomoon, Erik Satie, Chopin and Wim Mertens. He works with many guest musicians, like Laurent Esmez, but his muse has always been his singing daughter Sophie. His music's developed strongly throughout the years from intimate piano driven singer-songwriter music, to a rich and above all melancholic sound, which also includes French chansons, pop music, new wave, postrock, noise and neoclassical music. This is pretty much what you can find on his sixth and best album till now Après L’été. It feels like a soundtrack to my own thoughts. The music is so fragile and true but also so incredibly beautiful. This is one of my favorite albums of 2006. Hope you continue doing this for many more years, my friend!

Below you can find some mp3’s which give a good impression of his work, enjoy!
Frederic Truong - Renaissance (from Renaissance)
Frederic Truong - Des Chevaux Sauvages (from Après L'Été)
Frederic Truong - Un Train vers Avignon (From Après L'Été)
Frederic Truong - Radioactivity (Kraftwerk-cover, from Poèsie & Chansons)

Frères Sourires (12): Katerine

Guestpost! Roar Ridola on his hero Katerine:

I really don't have anything smart to say about Philippe Katerine. He's one of my favourite artists, past and present for sure. And he drives me nuts. From his debut in the early 90s up until today he essentially hasn't repeated any of his many successful formulas in his solo albums. So when I'm transported to a siren-like place when I listen to his delicate chamber pop on L'education anglaise (1994, with vocals by his sister Anne), that particular comfort is brought to an end when I play any of his other albums. It's nowhere else to be found. Nor is his dandyish, lightly jazz-tinged pop on Mes mauvaises frequentations (96). Sometimes that's a good thing though. The wayward pop wizardry on Les mariages chinois et la lecture (93) isn't a stunt that direly needs an encore. Nor am I particularly fond of L'homme a trois mains (99), on which Katerine admittedly sings a couple of fine songs, but also far too much of what appears to be spur-of-the-moment stuff mostly backed by an acoustic guitar, random noise, and sampled dialogue. His policy of re-inventing himself, however, is fundamentally a good thing. It's how he came to record Les creatures (99), which might be considered a coming of age album or taking the piss of exactly that, quite bohemian in style (with occasional free-jazz leanings and all) and a clean break from the light retropop sensibilities on his previous efforts. On 8eme ciel (2002) he at times repeats some tricks from Les creatures, but goes much further in scope of styles and instrumentation. Finally, on his last album, Robots apres tout(05), he surprises his audience by doing electroclash (of sorts).

For greater stylistic consistency the listener is recommended to check out Katerine's fine collaboration with artists such as Les Soeurs Winchester, Anna Karina, and Helena, which - essential as this work is to Katerine's discography as well - isn't part of this post. Nor are Katerine's soundtracks.

Below are mp3s from each of Katerine's solo albums that I find essential. Please enjoy!

Les mensonges (from L'education anglaise)
Le coup de feu (from Mes mauvaise frequentations)
Jesus Christ mon amour (from Les creatures)
Des etoiles (from 8eme ciel)
Borderline (from Robots apres tout)

woensdag 10 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (11); Jean-Claude Vannier

Another guestpost in this Month of Male @ Filles Sourires, is by Jan Hiddink from the notorious Amsterdam Paradiso.

Late at night. We’re watching the tv show of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson in growing disbelief. If there was music made in Paris, more than 35 years ago, that was this dangerous and adventurous –why then bother about psych or krautrock any longer? What if maybe the real thing was not to be found in the USA or in die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, but in sweet Paris, mon cherie? Oui! You put aside Holger Czukay, you can do without The White Noise. You go out to find out about the one and only original.

This turned out to be the mighty Jean-Claude Vannier who arranged and scored the music for the Melody Nelson album at the age of 28 – with Gainsbourg being 42. A year later, Vannier released the fantastic l’Enfant Assasin des Mouches, a concept album around a boy killing flies in a giant lake of molasses. There’s notes of Gainsbourg to be read, but not to be heard on the album. Story has it that originally, this album was to be another collaboration, but apparently, the musical partnership of Vannier and Gainsbourg ended in screaming loud brouille. Nevertheless, it’s an amazing, theatrical and entertaining album. Pyschedelic Rock, musique concrête, Middle East music, carnie folk, slices of funkrock: there’s little that Vannier does not touch and there’s little more to be desired from an instrumental album. Hearing the elegance of this album, a lot of psych and krautrock of that time seems dull at least and ponderous for sure.

After that, Vannier did what seems the usual in the musical culture of France: he arranged, composed, produced and collaborated with about all of the lovely singers, male and female, that this blog informs you about. Yet there is more than just the Assasin-album for which he is to be praised: Jean-Claude Vannier also is a chasonnier in his own right. His own songs lack the danger and darkness that characterises Melody Nelson, but offer an elegance and lightheartedness that garantuee your plaisir d’écouter. In terms of wordplay, he often seems close to Gainsbourg, having titles like Des mots Démodés. This song is to be found on the lovely double album En Public/ Fait Maison that was released a few years ago. The cd En Public is a live recording from the Théâtre Dejazet in 1985. The title, but also the music of Juste une petite fille bring up memories of Melody Nelson. In Papa fait nous un tube , another chanson d’elegance, Vannier sings about the many late night and early morning hours he is spending in the studio – if you look at Vannier in real life, you are sure he’s been lacking a lot of sleep ever since ages. The other cd of this double packaging, Fait Maison, offers nine chansons that Vannier recorded at home in 2005. In one song, Le film du dimanche, Vannier sings bleak poetry of novelist Michel Houellebecq – the lightheartedness of his music is often in contrast with the lyrics, in which life is presented as a doublefaced, doublehearted affair. Vannier illustrates this also with titles like Heureux Malheureux (from En Public). Also be sure to check La chanson de la pluie.

Jean-Claude Vannier - Des mots Démodés
Jean-Claude Vannier - Juste une petite fille
Jean-Claude Vannier - Papa fait nous nu tube
Jean-Claude Vannier - Le film du dimanche
Jean-Claude Vannier - Heureux Malheureux
Jean-Claude Vannier - La chanson de la pluie (all from En Public/Fait Maison)
Jean-Claude Vannier - Danse de l'enfant et du roi des mouches (from L'Enfant assassin des mouches)
Jean-Claude Vannier - Le roi des mouches et la confiture de rose (from L'Enfant assassin des mouches)

dinsdag 9 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (10): Air

Out in February: Pocket Symphony by Versailles-based duo Air. Nicolas (the redhead) and J-B were, as you all know, responsable for the best album of 2006 together with Charlotte Gainsbourg. Pocket Symphony is a return to the soft-focus, shag-carpet-atmosphere of their debutalbum Moon Safari. Jarvis Cocker guests on one song (One Hell of a Party), as does Neil Hannon (Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping), both Brits were responsable for the lyrics on Charlotte's album - that song with Hannon on vocals must be a nod to 5.55. I spoke with the duo twice, they are partly responsible for my love of French music. Their enthusiasm for Gainsbourg and his lesser known soundtracs made me curious and in the end made me buy all his albums (including that expensive Cinema-box). I really like these guys, I still remember Nicolas fuming about Kylie Minogue's shit boyfriend (and French actor) Olivier Martinez vividldy when I asked them if they would work with the Australian pixie.
There's one French song (sung through a vocoder by J-B, I guess) on Pocket Symphony, called Mer de Japon, one of the best songs on the album. In the past, they did use French titles (like Femme d'Argent and Voyage de Penelope) , but not all of those songs had vocals. Le Soleil est pres de moi from their first mini-album did, and ofcourse there's their gorgeous collaboration with Françoise Hardy.

Air - Mer du Japon
Air & Françoise Hardy - Jeanne
Air - Le Soleil est pres de moi

Frères Sourires (9): Alain Bashung

Strasbourg-bred Alain Bashung is one of the last rockers standing in France. His first single was released when he was 19 years old, in 1966 (as David Bergen). The first album under his own name appeared in 1977. He worked with Serge for the album Play Blessures (1982) and did countless duets, recently with Françoise Hardy on her Parenthèses-album. Bashung was featured before on this blog, en duo with is gorgeous wife Chloë, but this time I want to post one of his best songs, 1991's Osez Josephine. Three minutes of sheer rock-brilliance. Heavy distorted guitar, bossanova-rhythm, and Bashungs part-parodic, part tender vocals, after 15 years it is still capable of giving a radioshow or party an energetic boost. So assume the position, legs apart, airguitar low on the hips, and rock on!

Bashung - Osez Jospehine

maandag 8 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (8): Vincent Delerm

"I see Vincent growing up. He's just turned eight. I know a little how he'll turn out when he tenderly tells us: 'Later on, I'm going to be a postman. That way I'll see you every morning!' And then he bursts into tears... " This is how Phillipe Delerm describes his son in one of his books. Daddy Delerm is a famous writer in France, but his son (born in 1976) certainly made a name for himself too. He did not become a postman, but a singer/songwriter, although it took a while before he was caught on record. The literature-student and Truffaut-devoté Vincent Delerm made his solo stage debut in 1998, but his first untitled record was released in 2002. It sold 400,000 copies, a complete surprise to everyone. Delerm feels music is on the crossroads of cinema, writing and the stage.
Vincent likes nostalgic namedropping: on his debut actress Fanny Ardant, filmmaker J-L Trintignant and singer Irene Jacob are referred to. The latter sings on Delerms second album, the baroque Kensington Square, on which former classmates, Modiano and American rockartists Veruca Salt and Frank Black are immortalised. Les Piqûres d'Araignée (spider bites) is Delerm's latest offering (Steffi Graf gets mentioned), and more lighthearted. His singing is less 'burst-into-tears-any-minute', although he's still no Céline Dion-style belter - good for him.

Vincent Delerm - Fanny Ardant et Moi (from Vincent Delerm)
Vincent Delerm, Keren Ann & Dominique A - Veruca Salt & Frank Black (from Kensington Square)
Vincent Delerm - Les Jambes de Steffi Graf (from Piqûres)
Vincent Delerm - Sous les Avalanches (from Piqûres)
Vincent Delerm & Lhasa - L'échelle de Richter (from a Tôt Ou Tard-compilation)

Frères Sourires (7): Arno Hintjens

When T.C. Matic called it quits in 1986, the Belgian radionews made it its top story - I know, 'cause I heard it that night. It took almost ten years before another Belgian band stood up that had a similar influence on the national popscene - dEUS ofcourse. TC Matic made very intense new wave, laced with funk, blues and French chanson. Frontman was Arno Hintjens, the Flemish version of Tom Waits. I had the pleasure to see TC Matic in their prime, when they passed my little village for some Easter festival. Hintjens was completely lost in the music, he jumped up and down like he was spastic. His lyrics were a bouillabaise of English, French and West-Flemish dialect. Although songs like Ooh La La La and Putain Putain (the latter was covered by Camille) became alternative-dancefloor hits, the band never really broke. They didn't fade away, they closed in style with one of the most beautiful songs ever written on Belgian soil, Elle Adore Le Noir. After TC Matic, Arno Hintjens started a quite succesful solocareer. His own songs are good, but his interpretations of other people's work are better, listen to his gravel-voiced takes on Comme à Ostende by Leo Ferré, or Serge's Elisa. In France and the low countries, Arno is still capable of filling big rooms. He also stars in very, very funny videoclips. And this is the brand new video, from upcoming album Jus de Box.

TC Matic - Elle Adore Le Noir (from TC Matic - Ça Vient, Ça Vient, Change Pas Demain)
Arno Hintjens - Chic et Pas Cher (from French Bazaar)
Arno Hintjens - Filles de mon Quartier (from Jus de Box)
Arno Hintjens - Comme á Ostende (from Arno á la Française)
Arno Hintjens & Jane Birkin - Elisa (from Charles Ernest)

donderdag 4 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (6): Georges Brassens

Second guestpost in the Month of Male here on Filles Sourires is by Gerwin, on one of his alltime heroes Georges Brassens:

Georges Brassens (1921 - 1981) is one of the great chansonniers of the 20th century. Although canonized in the prestigious series Poètes d'Aujourd'hui (Editions Seghers), he did not consider himself as a poet, he wrote his texts to be sung, which has been put in practice by various artists such as Barbara, Carla Bruni, Paco Ibanez, Renaud, Noir Désir, Damien Saez, Lofofora, Sinsemilia and many others. Several of his songs were banned from the radio for many years, for instance Le Gorille for overtly criticizing the death penalty that was still executed at the time (by guillotine!). For an indepth analysis of his texts, see Analyse Brassens (french only). For Brassens aficionados living in the Benelux, the Ferme Madelonne jazzcafe, in the small village of Gouvy has a yearly Brassens festival.
La Mauvaise Réputation sums up most of Brassens recurring themes (non-conformism, anti-militarism and anti-clericalism) and in Les Trompettes de la Renommée he complains about the obsession of the general public with his private life (one of the rare songs where you can hear a light irritation in his voice).

Georges Brassens - Le Gorille
Georges Brassens - La Mauvaise Réputation
Georges Brassens - Les Trompettes de la Renommée

Frères Sourires (5): Pierre Lapointe

In Les Inrockuptibles' Top 50 Albums of 2006, there is just one French girl (Charlotte, but ofcourse), and a few French singing guys. There's Miossec, there's Joeystarr, there's Dominique A and there's one Pierre Lapointe. His name rang a very tiny bell, I knew he was from Quebec, and that he recorded a children's album with Ariane Moffatt. When I read the review of his second album La Forêt Des Mal-Aimés in Les Inrocks, I got interested. He's just 24 years old, but makes very grown-up, intelligent and well-arranged music. His MySpace-tribute site calls him the Tim Burton of chanson, a rockcritic wrote he was the lovechild of Thom Yorke and Barbara. Pierre likes his theatrical antics allright - might I add he's the Quebecoise Rufus Wainwright on par with Rufus Wainwright? He won prizes in Canada, contributed to tribute-cd's (Joe Dassin, Charles Aznavour) and stars in nice videos too.

Pierre Lapointe - Deux par deux rassemblés
Pierre Lapointe - Debout sur ma tête
Pierre Lapointe - Les Yeux d'Emilie (Joe Dassin cover)
Pierre Lapointe, Ariane Moffat & Garou - Comptine en mode zen

woensdag 3 januari 2007

Frères Sourires (4): Hugo

"The title of his album translates as 'The Night Of The Seesaws'. It is inhabited by the naive and the bizarre, the childlike and the macabre...these antagonistic elements coexist side by side, like animals in some old fable (or like piano keys in some old tune). Each song is like a miniature short story. This young man nourishes a deep affection for mystery: he must have read too many books by Conan Doyle when he was a teenager...(or was it Steven Millhauser, Borges and Patrick Mc Grath?)." Pleased to meet you, Hugo Chastanet. The description above is about his second album La Nuit des Balançoires (2005). Hugo is a funny little guy, the biography tells the tale of him being awol for several years. The record company even hired a private eye to trace him. True? Who knows, but it sure sounds intriguing and, after you hear the record, not that strange at all. Hugo excells in telling odd, sometimes even cruel stories, set to jolly, Beach Boys-like pop.
I've posted a track by Hugo before, which prompted April March to send me an email inquiring about the singer. I pointed her to Crammed, and never heard from her again. Or Hugo, for that matter. Sounds like a song to me.

Hugo - Pas de Chance Pour Les Wilson
Hugo & Austine - Fouille-toi

Frères Sourires (3): Alexis HK

If you listen to Son Histoire, you'd think Alexis HK wants to bring back the good ole chanson days of Brel and Brassens. He sure gets inspired by the classics, but he also likes rappers and toasters like MC Solaar and Yellowman. Alexis (real name Alexis Djoshkounian) is very careful about is pronounciation, and the rhythm of his lyrisc - that is why a comparison to rappers is not as odd as it seems, or that is cover of MC Solaar's Nouveau Western (you know, the one with the Gainsbourg-sample) is out of character. Alexis wrote his first songs as a youngster with pimples and zits, later on worked the bars in his hometown of Nanterre and then got noticed in Paris by a record-labelboss. In 1996 his first album Belle Ville was released, featuring his best known song C'est que t'es belle. I got interested in him when a Dutch talkshow about Le Tour de France started with a song of his, L'Homme Du Moment (the talkshow focussed on that remarkable recovery of Floyd Landis, little did we know then). L'Homme du Moment to me is the best introduction to Alexis: hiphop-rhythm, prominent accordeon and that darkbrown, elegant voice of his.

Alexis HK - L'Homme du Moment
Alexis HK - Nouveau Western (live)
Alexis HK & Marianne Feder - Son Histoire

dinsdag 2 januari 2007

Frères Souirires (2): Jeremie Kisling

First guestpost (one of many) in the Month of Male is by Soundofmusique, about Swiss wordsmith Jéremie Kisling:

Jérémie Kisling is just someone special and I'm very proud to introduce him on this blog. Before I give you more information about his music, I need to warn you. If you are a woman, you'll fall in love automatically of his romantic and childish attitude. If you are man, try not to be jealous and learn all the good tricks this man can teach you about girls! Yes, Jérémie Kisling is the guy that girls want, and he's also boys' best friend! His debut album Monsieur Obsolète was a revelation in 2003: funny (not really in a Borat way), romantic (not really in a Julio Iglésias way), poetic (not really in any boy band way), singular (not really in a Michael Jackson way), melancolic (not really in a depressive way) and terribly melodic (so true).
It was like coming back to the playground of your childhood with a best friend (or a lover... or both). In 2005, with the second album Le Ours, he became the king of the spelling & grammatical mistakes. He was like a romantic dunce, lost in a zoo who sang beautiful fables about bears, swallow, monkey, blind dog... Last warning but not least : don't try to learn French with this album...It's full of silly (but concious) mistakes.
Here are the rtwo songs I've chosen to introduce his music. The first one is an acoustic version of a beautiful song, Les étoiles (from Le Ours), and the second one is an unreleased song, Le chat (originally taken from an untraceable swiss edition of Monsieur Obsolète).
Welcome to childhood again...

Jéremie Kisling - Les Etoiles
Jéremie Kisling - Le Chat (links work now)

Frères Sourires (1): Axel Bauer

We're kicking off this Month of Male on Filles Sourires with one of my alltime favourite French rocksongs: Cargo de Nuit by Axel Bauer. It's from 1983, it was Axel's debut-single and France went apeshit when it was released. Over 700.000 singles were sold. The video, which was my first introduction to the song, was based on R.W. Fassbinder's movie Querelle - it made a sexsymbol out of the then 22-year old Bauer. It took a while before Bauer got a grip of both himself and the mega-succes - albums released after Cargo sold poorly, his record company went broke and the young singer got himself into a musical identity crisis. After his move to Britain, he returned as a bluesrocker - the 2003-compilation Desintégrale shows that Bauer was a one-hit-wonder. Well, okay, his 2001-duet with Zazie is nice too. After 25 years, Cargo de Nuit still rocks, the electronica sounds fresh today and the lyrics are magnificent: Mais cette machine dans ma tête/Machine sourde et tempête.
The title and the song were borrowed and used by French-Belgian music-tvshow Cargo de Nuit, presented by Ray Cokes. This show introduced me to the song, but also to clips by David Sylvian, Scritti Politti and Elvis Costello. Cargo was also sampled by French rapper Tagada Jones.

Axel Bauer - Cargo de Nuit
Axel Bauer & Zazie - A Ma Place