dinsdag 29 december 2009

Lola Baï

Thanks to FransS, Lola Baï didn't slip under our radar. The girl from the north of France released an album earlier this year that fans of the early Emilie Simon might like. Although Lola doesn't have that Lolita-voice, her lyrics are in the same vein as Simon's, and she pairs electronics with acoustics in a natural way. She got productional help from Serge Faubert, guitarplayer for Kébous. She does some English songs (charming, but not as good as the French tracks), sings in Latin, makes you dance to a housebeat, but the remarkable moments are when she keeps it midtempo, and puts a spell on you with her wonderful voice and some electronic aid.

Lola Baï - Pas a grand chose
Lola Baï - Mon coeur idiot

See a beautiful rendition of Regarder les hommes here.

maandag 28 december 2009

Sélection de Lundi: Alain Bashung

When Alain Bashung hit it big in 1981 – Gaby oh Gaby was in the French charts for 54 weeks and sold a million copies –, they called him the „Johnny Hallyday de la New Wave“. Actually, the Gallic super-antistar who garnered eleven Victoires de la Musique awards between 1985 and 2009, sounded all-too-often more like a campfire Paolo Conte merging voguish Bowie attitude with an unhealthy Dylan obsession, stadium grandiloquence style – including a whole lot of obnoxious Frenchican Rock Bummers (see here), but also some significantly dazzling results, especially on 82’s Play Blessures, then teaming up with lyricist Serge Gainsbourg (!) who probably would have liked to inflict those wounds himself: Combining lupine lamentos with early 80s No Wave splinters, this is French Rock’s Metallic K.O., with unmistakably hypnotic qualities.

Alain Bashung – J’envisage
Alain Bashung – Bistouri scalpel
Alain Bashung – Junge Männer

From the recently released Dimanches a l'Elysée live-album, one of Guuzbourg's favourite Bashung-songs:
Alain Bashung - La nuit je mens

donderdag 24 december 2009

Floating in December

For some quite extraordinary Xmas songs, don’t forget to go here. Before you do, check out Marine Boréale with Noël en Été, a demo song Guuz posted in the hot summer of 2007 for the first time – a lighthearted, airy gem Bruxelles-based Marine recorded with the help of singer/ songwriter Joachim Jannin who also worked with German chanteuse Kitty Hoff. Somehow this tune manages to defy gravity – pictured is a useful device to keep your girlfriend on the ground.

Marine Boréale – Noël en Été

maandag 21 december 2009

Ten Down: Les 10 Plus Mauvais Albums de la Décennie

We gathered the best French albums of the decade a few weeks ago, but left out the duds. Anyway, John Cleese once claimed that it’s simply wrong to be French, and here’s ten good (and of course utterly impartial) reasons for that, listening-wise:

Camille – Le Fil (2005)
Qu’est-ce que c’est? Bobby McFerrin without cojones? Edith Piaf on nitrous oxide? In any case, a highly unenjoyable mixture of priggish vocal acrobatics, show-offy pseudo art, and Gallic chichi r&b. Ta douleur? Exactement.

Emilie Simon – The Big Machine (2009)
This hideous contraption is an apparatus similar to those in SAW III, only directly aimed at your inner ear: After Björkification, Emilie underwent (Kate) Bushization, electro style. Feels like clubbing at Guantanamo Bay.

Carla Bruni – Comme si de rien n’était (2008)
The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie: Music that would never dare to disturb or touch, full of amazement about why those banlieue kids never went to a Swiss boarding school. There’s a reason why they always play Carla (pictured above next to the hat of the month) at the pedicure studio next door.

Alain Bashung – Bleu Pétrole (2008)
A spectacularly tedious malheur & tristesse album amalgamating the spirit of thousands of dreadful American singer/ songwriter numbers – if you’re looking for Tom Waits’ attitude paired with Michel Sardou bathos, a surefire winner.

Keren Ann – Same (2007)
Keren Ann in English sounds like Velvet Underground in drag, combined with the lyrics of a 12-year-old; everything else is flagrantly cribbed from Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval et al. 45 min of heard-it-all-before, predictable and boring.

Benjamin Biolay/ Chiara Mastroianni – Home (2004)
Love is blind, and if Biolay’s honeymoon was as exciting as these recordings ... well, foreshadowing a premature case of ennui conjugale, it won’t get more limp, lukewarm and uninspired like this.

Francoise Hardy – Parenthèses (2006)
Like to cuddle with Granny? Hardy has always been the least sexy of all French songbirds, and these duets with Delon, Biolay et cetera are her take on old age sensuality, including a sundowner cocktail with ... Julio Iglesias!

Nouvelle Vague – Bande à part (2006)
Punk & New Wave classics done bossa reggae cutie style – nifty concept, but how often you want to hear the same old joke again?

Francoiz Breut – À l’aveuglette (2008)
Francoiz is wonderfully introvert, empathetic, and sensitive, at least in the mind of introvert and sensitive French language students still looking for a nice lay. Earnest and heartfelt indie pop without any humour or the slightest idea of a catchy song.

Coralie Clément – Toystore (2008)
Certainly not one of the worst French records of the decade. But compared to Coralie’s previous efforts, an uneven mix of shallow melodies without texture or direction: a fruitless try to please everyone, and a painful waste of talent.


Sélection de Lundi: The Other Serge

Casque d’or, La ronde, Le doulos, L’armée des ombres: Serge Reggiani was already a highly acclaimed star of the French silver screen when he – encouraged by Simone Signoret and Yves Montand – turned to singing in 1965 with SR chante Boris Vian. His chef d’œuvre may well be Rupture (1971, pictured) – a brilliant album oscillating between grand melancholy, mild cynicism and mature knowledge unsurpassed in the history of French song. La putain combines Reggiani’s unique phrasing with a perfectly arranged composition by Michel Legrand and the classy poetic imagery of lyricist Jean-Loup Dabadie – a 3:42 min short story about the lost bird of youth and those secrets behind the jalousies.

Serge Reggiani – La putain

vrijdag 18 december 2009

Le Pop 5

Oliver and Rolf of Le Pop are a huge influence on this blog, and of my preoccupation with French Music. I almost nodded my head off when I read what they wrote as an introduction to the Le Pop 5 compilation (the seventh compilation they did so far): 'Our aim is to show the beauty of current French music from France, Canada or other French-speaking countries. As usual, in doing so we apply our own selection criteria, where as of yet unknown artists can stand their ground next to the stars. Totally subjective, and therefore totally personal. And without any notion of a fight against anything (say, Anglo-American culture, Gzbrg), because in a fight the chances are high you clench.'
Le Pop 5 contains songs of the highest quality, by artists that have been featured on this blog too. Like Sammy Decoster, Dominique A, Coeur de Pirate, Vincent Delerm and Chat. Brandspanking new From an upcoming album is the gorgeous duet by Bastien Lallement and Armelle Pioline (she of Holden). It's from Lallement's new cd, featuring murder ballads. Pascal Parisot, Bertrand Belin and Albin de la Simone join Lallement too. Out next year. Keep watching this space.

Bastien Lallement & Armelle Pioline - La plage

woensdag 16 december 2009

A Loulia

Seb and Melanie of A Loulia keep surprising me. With their choice of covers (here, and here), but also with their originals. Parole de Nuit is a song you want to hear just before you go to sleep, to dream the strange dream that Melanie wants you to. Very Gainsbougian, very exciting.

A Loulia - Parole de nuit

Martha Wainwright

Call it an invocation: On Sans Fusil, Ni Souliers, à Paris, born Quebecoise Martha Wainwright pays homage to La Môme de Paris, also known as Édith Piaf, she of the immortal chansons and wildest affairs. The fifteen tracks on the album – all lesser-known songs from the Piaf repertoire, so don’t expect to see Milord or Je ne regrette rien here – were recorded during three intimate performances at New York’s Dixon Palace Theatre. And though Wainwright can’t compete with Piaf’s warmth, frailty, and hyperbolic Gallic pathos by a far cry, she manages to capture the magic of Piaf’s songs in her own emotive, achingly expressive style, complete with 30s cabaret atmosphere, grand-sweep heartbreak melancholia, and some genuine chair de poule moments.

Martha Wainwright – Le Foule
Martha Wainwright – Adieu Mon Coeur

Edith Piaf – Sous le ciel de Paris

And since the family should be together for Xmas:

Loudon Wainwright – Hometeam Crowd
Rufus Wainwright – Spotlight on Christmas

dinsdag 15 december 2009

Tips of the Tongue: Casey Scott

You’ve heard Casey here, but her voice deserves its own entry. Usually chanteuse of Portland’s enchantingly named Red Venus Love Army, she’s the pop star of Todd Bishop’s jazz variations of Gainsbourg classics on 69 Année Erotique: Todd Bishop’s Pop Art 4 Plays the Music of SG. And while the damp biscuit saxophone on their adaptation of Je t’aime only confirms my worst suspicions about the relationship of jazz & sex, Casey’s vocals („Come and go, go and come“) jostle the whole song just to where it belongs – on a waterbed in a dim-lit room, with some nonchalant tips of the tongue, slow-motion style.

Casey Scott w/ Todd Bishop – Je t’aime (moi non plus)


The Return of Nous Non Plus

Nous Non Plus’ debut was undoubtedbly one of the best, and definitely the funniest album of 2005 – One Night in Paris being one of the catchiest tunes of the decade, and no, it’s not about the French capital. For some reason, their second album, already released in February, went unnoticed under the FS radar. Time to set things straight: Ménagerie has it all, irresistible power pop gems, cocktail lounge chic, garage bite, Eurodisco sleaze, and summer joie de vivre retro feel, charged with the will to find the perfect melody. Reminiscent of the spirit of similarly neglected 70s Dutch pop intertextualists Gruppo Sportivo, this is cool of the highest order, though probably too witty for its own good – NN+ is the band, and A++ is the rating.

Nous Non Plus – French Teacher
Nous Non Plus – Bollinger

Yup, and that soup is still hot:

Nous Non Plus – One Night in Paris

Unsurpassed tune, not about Paris Hilton:

Gruppo Sportivo - Mission à Paris


Vos petites mains faites-moi crier

Mediocre talent highlighted by male chauvinism (web comment). Erm: Nude content again.

Christmas with France

France de Griessen, the blonde hard-rocking fille whom we got to know here, made a very special Christmas track for all Filles Sourires visitors. It's sweet, it's funny, it's L-O-U-D. It's a cover of this, which is a response to this.

Joyeux noël!

France de Griessen - PP Haine

(picture was made by BlackHeart)

Shhhhhhh ... sexy

Mobitel Slovenia rocks. Music by faux-French favorites Nous Non Plus.

maandag 14 december 2009

Conversation with Gainsbourg

Today I had the privilige of interviewing Charlotte Gainsbourg over the phone, for a one-page story. She did so many interviews already (almost all French interviews are collected on this excellent blog), there was hardly anything left to ask. We talked about the video for Heaven Can Wait - Charlotte said that she immediatly loved the idea for the video when she read the script, and that the director had almost cart blanche. She and Beck were on the set for one day, she saw the other scenes later. I asked if it was inspired by the movie Donnie Darko, but it isn't. To her, the video is more about the atmosphere of Los Angeles, a city she never visited until this project. She confirmed that all three doctors who treated her after the waterskiing incident are in the thank-list of the album, and that her husband Yvan is mentioned in the personnel-list just 'cause he was there during the recordings. Her kids, Ben (12) and Alice (5) do play on the record. Like many things during the recordings, that was spontaneous. Ben was behind a drumkit, and Beck and Charlotte both liked the beat so it was recorded (without Ben knowing that he was) and used for Trick Pony. Alice's 'monster screams' are recorded from the studio-intercom, she was just fooling around and again, they liked the sound and used it for Greenwich Mean Time.
When I asked if both her children and Yvan play a role on the album to celebrate, in a way, that mummy survived a brain hemorrhage, she said: 'That would be a little pretentious, would it not?'
When asked about Dandelion, one of my favourite songs on the album, she said it wasn't inspired by T-Rex (like I thought) but more by Robert Johnson. Beck had her listen to the old blues maestro, as you know he would. He also recommended Panda Bear, M.I.A., Animal Collective and Dory Prévin to Charlotte. I'd never heard of that last artist, but when I was listening to some songs I could understand why Beck wanted Charlotte to hear her music.
About touring - there's a good chance she will do some concerts. There is a band, and she's less terrified to be on stage than she was. She recalled the show I saw with Air in Amsterdam. 'I was so nervous, I couldn't move a finger during those two songs.'

Dory Prévin - Beware of young girls
Dory Prévin - With my daddy in the attic (imagine a cover of this song by Charlotte!)
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Looking Glass Blues (bonus track on the limited edition of IRM)
Charlotte Gainsbourg - Heaven Can Wait (Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear remix)

Covers Deluxe: Les Terribles

Gallic garage entrepreneurs Les Terribles are suckers for French yéyé icons Larry Greco and Christine Pilzer: As for their collaboration with Christine, watch this. However, their coolest pick so far has been Pourquoi Je Pleure – a cover of Why Do I Cry by The Remains, Boston’s mid-sixties pre-punksters featuring genius guitarist/ songwriter Barry Tashian who would later play on Gram Parsons’ country hippie debut G.P. The original is unbeatable, but Les Terribles throw in a gorgeous female voice and some kick-in-the-nuts fuzz riffwork. 1966 again!

Les Terribles – Pourquoi Je Pleure
The Remains – Why Do I Cry (Live version)


Sélection de Lundi: Todd Bishop

During our recent Hole in the Head marathon, Guuz already recommended Portland jazz drummer Todd Bishop and his take on Serge. On 69 Année Erotique, Bishop and his crew reinvent the title track as an Andy Williams lounge showtune including a lysergic spacescape at the backdoor, transform Le Walkie Talkie into a fusion orgy, and resurrect Initials B.B. with surf guitar reverb, funky licks, sultry sax and the whispered vocals of Casey Scott, otherwise singer of Portland’s Red Venus Love Army – Miss Sexy Voice 2009 for sure. Actually, American jazz reviewers were so intoxicated by the album that they began to improvise about „Jane Birken“ and „Bridgette Bardot“; they really have some creative scribes over there.

Todd Bishop – 69 Année Erotique
Todd Bishop w/ Casey Scott – Initials B.B.


zaterdag 12 december 2009

Charlotte à Taratata!

43 Minutes of Charlotte Gainsbourg live at Taratata. With an extensive interview and career overview. She also plays three songs live, one of which is a breathtaking version of 'Just Like A Woman', the track she covered with Calexico for the Bob Dylan biopic.
Merci mille fois.

Charlotte Gainsbourg - Just like a woman - Live

donderdag 10 december 2009

Filles Sourires Best of the Year List

Thanks everyone for sending in your yearlists. I counted all the votes, and here are the results. Some of the contribuants added comments, I'm citing from those.

1. Benjamin Biolay - La Superbe. No competition, almost everyone mentioned this album. 'Biolay surpasses himself by climbing the highest peaks of romance, without stumbling over the violins or offkey-arrangements.'
2. Emily Loizeau - Pays Sauvage. Freakfolk fille wins hearts and minds of many. 'Her voice is absolutely incredible on this; a bit raw, sexily gruff, and very intense.'
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM. Just out, but we're feeling it already. 'With IRM she turns oppression into a delicate excitement. Just because she can.'
4. Claire Denamur - s/t. Few can resist this girl with the sun in her voice. 'Hope she’ll come to Holland one day, to perform, not to visit her grandma.'
5. La Patere Rose - s/t. Fresh Canadian kaleidoscope-pop. 'Obligatory stuff for all visitors over here.'
6. Dominique A - La musique. The veteran of la nouvelle scene Française hails back to the dark 80s. 'His best lyrics ever.'
7. La Fiancée - EP. It took just four songs to make a big impression. We cannot wait for the full album. 'Simply beautiful.'
8. Rose - Les Souvenirs Sous Ma Frange. A girl, a guitar. What else do you need? 'Sense and simplicity to the max. Carla Bruni, eat your heart out.'
9. V/A - Gainsnord. 18 bands paid tribute to Serge. My project, you loved it. Thanks. Really.
10. Sammy Decoster - Tucumcari. Thank god he's a countryboy. 'After "Can white men sing the blues?" the question "Can frenchies do Americana?" should be answered with a yes!'

A special mix with songs from ten albums (including a special demo-version!) can be downloaded here.
Benjamin Biolay - La Superbe; Charlotte Gainsbourg - La collectionneuse; Emily Loizeau - Sister; Claire Denamur - Prince charmant; La Patere Rose - Les Deux Bonnes Soeurs; Dominique A - Immortels; La Fiancée - Cette autre; Rose - Ma corde au clou; Leine - Ford Mustang (demo version); Sammy Decoster - Tucumcari.

Jeanne & Emily cover Serge

You saw Dionysos rock the hell out of Nazi Rock (here!), but the soundtrack to the upcoming (and no doubt brilliant) Gainsbourg movie holds more surprises. Jeanne Cherhal and Emily Loizeau giggle their way through Qui est 'in', Qui est 'out', like they're two schoolgirls. Exactly the way director Joann Sfar wanted it. Other contributors to the soundtrack are Nosfell, Gonzales, Laetitia Casta of course (she sings Comic Strip) and Katerine - the latter plays Boris Vian. Can't wait until January!

Jeanne Cherhal & Emily Loizeau - Qui est 'in', qui est 'out'

woensdag 9 december 2009

Olivia (bonus)

Miss Météores, Olivia Ruiz' latest album, is re-released with bonustracks. Gawd, how I hate it when they do this. And record companies still wonder why people think they're money greedy basterds who don't care about the fans? Hah. Anyhoo, the bonus tracks are mostly demos ('versions maquette') and a few new songs. My guess is that Buck65 worked with Ruiz on Bunny Maloney (he did the electronica on single Elle panique), and the track with Christian Olivier sounds very Amélie Poulain, but isn't that good as the duet on the regular album.

Olivia Ruiz - Bunny Maloney
Olivia Ruiz - Le Saule Pleureur (version maquette)

maandag 7 december 2009


Don't forget to send me your Best French Album Top 10 of 2009, so I can make one big Filles Sourires Best of 2009 list. I received a few already, but I need more! Guuzbourg(a)gmail(dot)com is that address to send your top 10 to. Please, only releases from 2009, and not too many compilations please. Deadline December 10!!

For inspiration, here is my yearlist:

1. Benjamin Biolay - La Superbe. Title says it all. Double fun from the dark prince of French rock. Jazz, britrock, Argentinian tangometal, nouvelle chanson, it's all there, it's all great.
2. Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM. She nearly died. She called Beck, and together they made a worthy follow-up to her masterpiece 5.55. Both her kids play on it, and her husband. A celebration of life.
3. Claire Denamur - s/t. The girl with the smile in her voice, the Dutch roots and the American upbringing. Sexy, smart, funny: an album like your favourite springtime.
3. La Patere Rose - s/t. It's sooooo fresh! It's so strange, too. Bubblegum-pop with kaleidoscope eyes. From Quebec - a stamp of quality, for this year a lot of great albums came out of Canada.
4. Sammy Decoster - Tucumcari. He went down to the crossroads, and came back with an album that had Arizona desert dust mixed with pastis in it's grooves. French country, in many ways.
5. Kent - Panorama. Could be disastrous, looking back on your own songs and trying something acoustic. But Kent Cokenstock made a fantastic album, with a litttle help from (among others) Barbara Carlotti, Suzanne Vega. He can be proud of himself.
6. Peppermoon - Nos ballades. I've been telling you since 2006, this Parisian trio is magical. They proved it on cd.
7. Daniel Belanger - Nous. Canadian veteran tries some soul on for size, and makes his best album of his (highly succesful) career. Rock'n soul, Quebec-style.
8. Rose - Les Souvenirs Sous Ma Frange. Proof that girl-with-a-guitar is still a winning formula.
9. Liben - Tout va disparaitre. Wallonie's Vincent Liben let go of the Gainsbourg in himself, with beautiful result.
10. Carmen Maria Vega - s/t. Energetic Django-fied girl, the female version of Thomas Dutronc.


So, we had Marianne Dissard, we had Sammy Decoster, we had Alain Bashung, we had Francoiz Breut...and now we have Madjo. Another French artist (born out of parents from France and Senegal) who takes inspiration from the American south. On her first EP she covers Leadbelly (yep, Where Did You Sleep Last Night), and she names Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson and Jon Brion as influences. She sings in French and English, and because of her throaty voice she sure ain't no fille fragile. But she got soul, and with that Fender Rhodes piano, you can't go wrong in my book. Le Monstre sounds like Beck was at the controls, could've been a song on Charlotte's IRM album. More songs and videos on Myspace.

Madjo - Le Monstre

Sélection de Lundi: Pump Up the Volume

Even over in snowy Oregon, them filles sourires seem to have a certain reputation. Portland’s Ascetic Junkies pay their hommage to Gallic beauties with jingle-jangling indie pop plus a dose of bluegrass fun:

Paul, when you get to heaven there'll be/ All these angels mostly sizes C and D/ Well-endowed with God's great majesty

So Paul, you'll love to hear everything that they say/ Even just "Je ne parle pas Anglais"/ You're not that into language anyway.

Well, it's not exactly what I’d call the Jane B. cup hymn, but then a great singalong tune anyway. Caution: Don’t see right. Get even with your breast fixation.

The Ascetic Junkies – French Girls


zaterdag 5 december 2009

Salut Poupée

It doesn't get more stylish than this. Sexy glasses, too.

vrijdag 4 december 2009

Christmas wishlist

Joann Sfar made the coffeetablebook Gainsbourg Hors Champ with his (drawn) moviescript. I got it today. It's marvellous. This movie cannot fail. More pics from the book here.

Tony Frank made many beautiful pictures of Serge, Jane, Charlotte, Bambou and Lulu. They're all collected in this book.

donderdag 3 december 2009

Gainsbourg, the movie + Dionysos

Dionysos (Sky posted their scorching version of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde earlier) also did an intense cover of Serge's Nazi Rock for the upcoming movie by Joann Sfar (those are his drawings).

dinsdag 1 december 2009

Sandra Nkake

Sandra Nkake probably has the smokiest voice in France - it's so hoarse, you can light a candle with it. The gorgeous chocolate-coloured singer/actress appeared on this blog before - as the singer of the underrated Marc Collin-project Ollano, and because of her solo-album, that sports a magnificent Brassens-cover. La mauvaise reputation is now remixed by Blackjoy, now it's even more beautiful. To remind you of the brilliance of Ollano, here's another song from that album.

Sandra Nkaka - La mauvaise reputation (Blackjoy remix)
Ollano - Antipodes

maandag 30 november 2009

Christmas A Gogo has opened!

Want Christmas-songs, but not the usual stuff? Go here.

Sélection de Lundi: L'étoile oubliée de Orlane Paquin

Orlane Paquin did a handful of movies in the 70s, among them La Horse which featured not only her bare assets (see right), but also an equally sexy psych soundtrack by Monsieur Gainsbourg, and then she was gone for good, vanishing-act-style. Though her movies might not be particularly memorable, her probably only 7“, Le Train de 10 h 03, remains one of the great unknown French chansons, capturing melancholia, lightness, and vulnerability in an irretrievable way. Produced by Michel Legrand, and arranged by Gainsbourg fellow Alain Goraguer.

Orlane Paquin - Le train de 10 h 03


Emmanuelle Seigner video

Favourite moment: 1.26 m. Sorry. (Thanks for the link, Ava)

vrijdag 27 november 2009

donderdag 26 november 2009

Genevieve Toupin

Dark days call for melancholic music. Genevieve Toupin, from the Manitoba province in Canada, has the perfect voice, the heartfelt lyrics and the lovely looks. This site tells us this about Gen:
'In 2006, Geneviève Toupin was a finalist at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby. In 2007, she received a Coup de pouce for the 2008 Rideau Scholarship for her performance at the Vue sur la relève festival in Montreal. In May 2007, she recorded five songs on a mini-album accompanied by musicians Damien Robitaille and Erik West-Millette. In the summer of 2008, she had the opportunity to perform her compositions across Canada with the Francoforce project. With their clean arrangements, her songs have a disarming simplicity as she shares her innermost feelings with colourful lyrics on the passage of time and everyday doubts, hopes, loves and friendships.'
Her self-titled album is out now. See her perform live here, and here.

Genevieve Toupin - L'hiver

woensdag 25 november 2009

Covers Deluxe: A Hole in the Head

Serge’s „Poinconneur des Lilas“, composed in 1958, was the first French punk song, though cleverly camouflaged as a jazz tune: the story of a frustrated metro conductor punching tickets until he punchs a hole in his own head. Consequently, the moral fable of the suicidal ticket puncher was covered by French punk rockers Starshooter, fronted by later comics artist Kent Hutchinson alias Hervé Despesse, in 1977. While Starshooter went the rant-&-rage path, jazz manouche entrepreneurs Les Doigts de L’Homme transform Serge’s down-&-out-anthem on their brilliant Dans Le Monde (2003) into a stunning, lightnin’ speed Gallic bluegrass killer of a song, intertextual style: Django would have blushed, and even Monty Norman’s James Bond theme drops by inbetween.


Serge G. - Le poinconneur des Lilas
Starshooter - Le poinconneur des Lilas
Les Doigts de L’Homme – Le poinconneur des Lilas

Thanks to Patrick and Guuzbourg, here's two more versions. The one by Les Frères Jacques was in 1958 the first (and probably the safest) cover of Le poinçonneur. Jazz drummer Todd Bishop and band are the latest to add their view. Bishop made an excellent album with Serge-covers, 69 Année Erotique. Really worth checking out.

Les Freres Jacques - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Todd Bishop - Le poinçonneur des Lilas

EXTRA No. 2:

Got more. The version by Les Forbans - from Chantent Léo, Alain, Serge et les autres - is not-my-style big band jaaaazzz, while Kenzo Saeki's supersweet Japanese adaption sounds like our poor ticket man is trying to shoot himself with his breakfast marmalade.

Les Forbans - Le poinconneur des Lilas
Kenzo Saeki - Le poinconneur des Lilas

EXTRA No. 3:

Want more? Leandro Barsotti covered Le poinçonneur in Italian. Catherine Delasalle changed the he to a she. Les Croquants make you want to sing along! Hey! Mick Harvey and The Rakes do it in English (spot the differences!). The terrifying version by Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint Marc concludes this punching special.

Leandro Barsotti - Il bigliettaio del metro (Le poinconneur des Lilas)
Catherine Delasalle - Le poinçonneuse des Lilas
Les Croquants - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Mick Harvey - The ticket puncher
Les Petits Chanteurs de Saint Marc - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
The Rakes - Just a man with a job

EXTRA No. 4:

Heavily drug-induced stroboscope mash-up of Le poinconneur and En Melody by French samplecore artist Nelson alias Chenard Walcker. Plus a live version of Tom Barman & Guy van Nueten's brilliant version (also available on Gainsnord!), crooner Jean-Claude Pascal, jazzguitarist Sylvain Luc and rockin' Hugues Aufray. Ain't that a hole in the head?

Nelson - Le poinconneur
Tom Barman & Guy van Nueten - Le poinçonneur des Lilas (live @ Dwdd)
Jean-Claude Pascal - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Hugues Aufray - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Sylvain Luc - Le poinçonneur des Lilas

EXTRA No. 5:

Another worthwhile metro ride with Swiss chanteuse Dodo Hug from her Via Mala - Schwarze Lieder, Detectiv Songs & Canti di Malavita (2006), and a 1995 late night bar version with great piano work by Texan swingsters 8½ Souvenirs. Any other tickets up your sleeve, Guuz?

Dodo Hug - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
8½ Souvenirs - Le poinçonneur des Lilas

Extra 6:
There's always more, Sky. Here's the magnificent jazz-workout by Pierre-Alain Goualch, the singalong by Tryo and the Reinhardtified covers by Eric Delsaux, Zikabilo and another jazzy rework by Coral Egan.

Pierre Alain Goualch - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Tryo - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Eric Delsaux - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Le Zikabilo - Le poinçonneur des Lilas
Coral Egan - Le poinçonneur des Lilas

maandag 23 november 2009

Vanessa Paradis

V's Best Of-album is out now. Yesterday, she gave an intimate concert in Paris. Where she played this absolutely gorgeous version of Joe le Taxi. If, like Sky, never liked that song, you will now. See the original version here. Thank SOM!

Vanessa Paradis - Joe le Taxi (acoustic)

YES! we have video

Want to download the full concert? Go here

Sélection de Lundi: The Big Racket

When three-years-old Ilie Nastase watched a tennis match for the first time from the roof of Romania’s biggest stadium, he was so fascinated by the flying ball that he forgot about his bladder functions: „At first, people below thought it was raining“, he recalls in his autobiography. After quitting the racket circus, the Transsylvanian tennis enfant terrible („Nasty but nice“) didn’t only write two thrillers, but also recorded his only 45 tours, Globe Trotter Lover which reached #2 in the French pop charts in 1987. The b-side, Pour etre un homme, is a soft-spoken, tender slice of cheese – a charmer all the way.

Ilie Nastase – Pour etre un homme

Extra 1: Four years after Ilie, John McEnroe and Pat Cash teamed up with Who frontman Roger Daltrey for a, well, serve-and-volley version of Led Zep’s Rock’n’Roll:

John McEnroe & Pat Cash w/ Roger Daltrey – Rock’n’Roll

Extra 2: The only ex-tennis player to rival Ilie in the French charts was Yannick Noah doing a not too bad soul-popper impersonation. From his eighth longplayer, Charango (2006):

Yannick Noah – C’est toi

Extra 3: Only Delerm can sing about Steffi Graf in a way that breaks your heart. And Dr. House makes you grin again.

Vincent Delerm – Les jambes de Steffi Graf

Hugh Laurie – I’m in Love with Steffi Graf (video)

vrijdag 20 november 2009

You wanted the best, you got the best

Yep, it's time for the round-up of the year. Lists, people, lists! What are the ten best French language albums of 2009 - No compilations, except for Gainsnord of course, no re-issues. Send me your top tens (you can wait after you heard Charlotte's album), you have until December 10. I will make a Final Top Ten before Christmas. That email address again: guuzbourg(at)gmail(dot)com

woensdag 18 november 2009

Gainsnord (slight return)

video of the Gainsnord-presentation in Paradiso. You can see me hosting the night, see Serge van Duijnhoven performing his great (Dutch) poem about Gainsbourg and the lovely, lovely Geraldine singing Chatterton with West Hell 5.

dinsdag 17 november 2009


Here at FS headquarters, we like some screaming guitars. The combination of roaring amplifiers and good looking women is heavenly - French rock brought us Dolly, Manu, Vive la Fete and, earlier, Les Calamités. Plastiscines is an update of the latter, featuring four gorgeous women, singing in French and making music inspired by Ramones, Strokes and Libertines. On their new (second) album About Love, Katty Besnard and her friends sing mostly in English. Shame, for now they sound like Shampoo - a novelty act. The new cd sports three songs in French, Camera is the strongest. It's like a Yelle song without the electronica.

Plastiscines - Camera

see video for Barcelona here.

maandag 16 november 2009

zondag 15 november 2009

Sélection de Lundi: Vanessa, 12 ans

Or was she already thirteen? 24 years ago, Vanessa Chantal Paradis recorded her first 45 tours, a post-La Boum ten-candy-bars nostalgia piece with nods to Little Richard and Gene Vincent, boogie piano and bap-shoo-ap chorus. The mastermind behind it was Jean-Louis Bergerin who’s still active in lots of nuits de rock’n’roll, but probably too modest to mention his association with the later superstar on his website. And though Vanessa indeed looked super sympa, not too many kids joined her surprise party that went more or less unheard down the drain in 1985. Even my niece (9) asked me how to get the aaaaawful song off her iPod. Tomorrow I’ll try with her younger sister again.

Vanessa Paradis – La magie des surprises parties

zaterdag 14 november 2009

Serge meets the Wooden Shjips

Serge's Contact, written for Ms. Bardot, in a grand, highly spaced-out version by San Francisco's Wooden Shjips. "Take it." (Nino Ferrer)

Marianne Dissard (plus the boys on the bus)

Last night, I had the pleasure of spending some time with my favourite country-noir angel Marianne Dissard. She played the Paris Appelle festival in The Hague, her first concert in Holland (if I'm not mistaken), and also the first time we met. Four years after I put a song of hers on my first French compilation, and experiencing the advantages of social media (twitter, Myspace). But nothing beats a real kiss from Marianne. She played with a new band, last night was the first show of the tour. Bemused, me and the mrs saw Marianne explaining to guitarplayer Brian Lopez how to pronounce several French words from her songs (Brian also sings harmony) at dinner. I for one would be terribly nervous when I had to explain my songs to my band an hour before showtime (of course Brian, Geoff, Olivier and Sergio heard and played her songs before), but Marianne was carefree. She told me the story about how she came to Liverpool for three shows, and on the way to the venue the guy from the label told her that the duo she was supposed to play with, well, they broke up. So she had to do all shows with just an accoreon player. 'And it went great!', Marianne said.
Just as her show in The Hague was great. If you know her album L'Entredeux (if you don't, get it now! Heck, it's one of the greatest French albums of the decade!), you might expect a quiet, shy girl. None of that! Mrs Guuzbourg compared her to Edith Piaf, and there's some truth in that. Marianne's very expressive, communicative and (again, mrs Guuzbourg talking here) 'you get the feeling she has an urge to perform.'
So there. Find all dates for Marianne's European tour here. Below is a live track (with her former band) plus tracks by other projecst of most of her bandmembers.

Marianne Dissard - Les Draps Sourds (live in Tucson AZ)
Sergio Mendoza y la Orkesta - Las Calles de Tuscon (More on Sergio here)
B.Lopez - The Killing Moon (Echo & the Bunnymen cover) (More on B.Lopez here)
Mostly Bears - Melancholyism (More on MB here)>

donderdag 12 november 2009

Dionysos/ Gainsbourg

Quite energetic version of Serge's Docteur Jekyll by French favorites Dionysos. Murder Rock + interview.

Daniel Bélanger

In January, I posted a lot songs by Canadian artists. Because I was struck by the number of great singers and great songs coming from that country. In the months that followed, more and more Canadians (from Quebec mostly, but also from other states provinces) came to my attention. And I loved that. Recently, the new album by veteran Daniel Bélanger was released. A very good cd, my introduction to this artist. My Canadian friend, dj-partner and musical conscience Natasha wrote this guestpost on Bélanger:

Born and raised in Montréal, Daniel Bélanger dropped like a bomb onto the Québec music scène in 1990, winning prizes and breaking records left and right. He writes eloquent songs that every guitarist plays at parties (guilty as charged) and on stage he seems shy, making him even more intriguing. The story goes that Bélanger had written tons of songs and had to be convinced by his brother Michel to finally pursue a musical career. Lucky for him, his brother owns Audiogram, Québec’s major French language label.
On Bélanger’s brand new album Nous, Filles Fragiles-favourites such as Amylie and Caracol have joined in, with the male end being held up by Damien Robitaille and Julien Mineau of rock band Malajube. Ariane Moffat toured with Bélanger in 2001 as a keyboardist for his fourth album Rêver mieux and other singers such as Luce Dufault and Isabelle Boulay sing songs by Bélanger, already considered Québécois standards.
Nous is more extroverted and funky, less ethereal and more of a collective affair. Bélanger has always loved funk, but has said he can’t imagine himself trying to imitate African-Americans. 'Funk is directly related to the body. It’s as if your ass is thinking, because your ass can’t think the way your brain does.' That’s probably a revelation coming from an artist who has been living inside his head for more than two decades.
One of my personal favourites is Sèche tes pleurs from the 1993 album Les insomniaques s’amusent, which in my books comes in second to Jacques Brel’s Ne me quitte pas in the pain and desperation felt when your ass gets dumped.

Daniel Bélanger - Sèche tes pleurs
Daniel Bélanger - L'équivalence des contraires

woensdag 11 november 2009

Marina Celeste

Marina Celeste is one of those filles that make me feel completely defenseless. I cannot resist her charm. That face, that singing voice, the reason Filles Fragiles #1 kicked off with a Marina-track, was because she's the embodiment (in many ways) of what a fille fragile/zuchtmeisje is. Acidulé and Cinema Enchantée both are solid albums, her work with Nouvelle Vague (esp. on the first album) is great. A third album is in the works, The Angel Pop. An EP is out now, and that features mostly English songs. I'm not against French artists singing in English. But I do think part of the attraction, the mystery even, of filles like her lays in the French language. In English, it's kinda bland. That sole French song on the new EP is great. The Buzzcocks-cover's too Vague, the rest unintentionally funny, mostly because of that accent. That said, I will try and see he play live in Utrecht, in December. And I am genuinely curious about the upcoming album (next year), though I do hope she won't pull an Emilie Simon on us. See a making of-video here.

Marina Celeste - La corde raide


Biographies. They can be pages long. They can be short: 'Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn started making music together in the summer of '08, and decided to form a band. Pomplamoose thus represents the collaborative efforts of the two afore-mentioned musicians. It also means grapefruit in French.' Pomplamoose hails from California, they do covers (ranging from Beyonce to Simon & Garfunkel) and write their own stuff, mostly in English. Nataly has a sultry voice with added ennui, a bit like Feist. No wonder do cover Leslie's Gatekeeper. Their French song Le Commun des Mortels is excellent, with those little bells and choirs. Hope they will write in French some more. (Thanks Lewis!)

Pomplamoose - Le commun des mortels
Pomplamoose - Single ladies (Beyonce cover)
SEE their cover of Piaf's La vie en rose here.

maandag 9 november 2009

Voulez-vous dansez avec moi?

Where? Here!

Single play

From http://twitter.com/Draaikolk: Just received this one thanks to @Guuzbourg & @natashenka007, love it, especially the Spinshots track!

Oh, and we have a first winner of a FREE Gainsnord-7". See here.

zondag 8 november 2009

Sélection de Lundi: Pet Sounds

In this video, already posted by Guuzbourg a few days ago, you can catch a glimpse at Mathias Malzieu and French indie artists Dionysos playing the immortal Nazi Rock for the upcoming Serge Gainsbourg, vie héroïque movie. Malzieu is also a talented writer: In his dark fantasy novel + accompanying album La mécanique du cœur young, cuckoo-clock hearted Jack is taught several things by the prostitute Luna (voice by Spanish actress Rossy de Palma), among them the nice Latin word Cunnilingus – for innocent Jack just the right choice for naming his ... hamster, and now imagine all those kids doing the same when the announced film adaptation comes out. Which would have been Serge’s idea of fun for sure, as well as our Monday morning extra track.

Dionysos w/ Babet & Rossy de Palma – Cunnilingus mon amour

Connie Lingus – Fuck Me Forever

Pépé goes Français

Key elements in French music are wordplay, double entendres and melancholy, but also kitsch, humour and satire. Quebec native Pépé knows that, he made four albums already playing the latter cards. Natasha brought his last album from a trip to Canada, and now I want to bring him over. What a thrill it must be to have this guy and his band rock the sh*t out of French popclassics like Gerard Lenorman's Ballade des Gens Heureux or Nino Ferrer's Mirza. There are more bands doing what he does, like The Lost Fingers and to some extent Nous Non Plus , but I'd rather have Pépé on my party. Sing along and dance, that's the motto! Here's two examples of just how fun Pépé can be:

Pépé Goes Français - Laisse tomber les filles
Pépé Goes Français - La ballade des gens heureux

zaterdag 7 november 2009

R.I.P. Jacno

Sad but true: Denis Quillard, better known as Jacno, has lost his battle against cancer last night. He was 52 years old. Jacno was, together with Elli Medeiros, one of the key members of Stinky Toys. One of the first punks in France, he became a prolific musician, producer and songwriter. He worked with Elli, Lio and Mareva Galanter, among others. RIP.

Mareva Galanter & Jacno - Bang Bang

Clara, Isabelle, Berry

Time for some new music, after a week of looking back. There's a new single (album coming up) from Isabelle Boulay, dedicated to the fall. Chanson pour les mois d'hiver isn't Les feuilles mortes (there's a tad more sunlight), but a grown-up, solid song that steers on the right side of mainstream to appeal to me.
Clara plume (pictured) is, like Luciole for instance, a slammeuse (a young poet that likes to perform inna hiphop-stylee) who made an album on which she sings too. Catherine Ringer, Zazie, Lily Allen and good old Jacques Brel are references, I'd add Jeanne Cherhal and Clarike. Les p'tits plaisirs is an upbeat single, a better song on her debutalbum is the sultry L'heure de l'amour.
Berry's debutalbum is updated again. Instead of making a new album, Universal keeps adding bonustracks. None as great as Chanson d'Helène, but on Mon Automobile Berry again shows just how lovely she can sound.

Isabelle Boulay - Chanson pour les mois d'hiver
Clara plume - L'heure de l'amour
Berry - Mon automobile

vrijdag 6 november 2009

Gainsbourg, The Movie: The Music.

Wax Poetic

Yessss! Pure vinyl baby! Juicebox b/w Les Spinshots playing their Gainsbourg-covers on seven iches of wax, it's out now! Me and the mrs and the little sprout went to Record Industry to pick up the boxes. We got a grand tour (thanks Ton!) in one of the last, and certainly one of the best pressing plants in the world. They made 35 million (yes, that's right) copies of Michael Jackson's Thriller in that plant. They also cut Benjamin Biolay's last superb lp. Dutch downtempo-hero Floris had his video shot @ Record Industry.
You can buy the Gainsnord-single, you can also apply for one of the THREE free copies I'm giving away. What to do? Send me a picture of yourself with your favourite vinyl record, and tell me why this record is so special to you. It can be any record, 12inch, single, picturedisc, French, German, Australian, it doesn't matter. I will post your pic and story on my other blog. Entries to Guuzbourg(a)gmail(dot)com.

donderdag 5 november 2009

10/10: La Musique

The ten best French albums of the decade were round up by ten (twelve, actually) FS-contributors, -regulars and -friends. You might have checked out the websites of the artists. Here are songs from the ten (twelve, actually) Number One choices. Here's to another ten years of great French music!

NOTE: All Files Are Down!

Lina - Redevenir Modeste (2003) (Sky's top ten)

Coralie Clément - Salle des pas perdus (2002) (Guuzbourg's top ten)

Arno - Lola, etc. (2002) (Maks' top ten)

Calogero - Pomme C (2007) (Mordi's top ten)

Encre - En ciel ouvert (2002) (Jan-Willem's top ten)

Coeur de Pirate - C'était salement romantique (2008) (Frans' top ten)

Vanessa Paradis - Divinidylle (2007) (Anna maria's top ten)

Barbara Carlotti - Cannes (2006) (Pierre Faa's top ten)

Keren Ann - Que n'ai-je (2004) (SOM's top ten)

Benjamin Biolay - Rose Kennedy (2002) (Thomas' top ten)
Pauline Croze - Jeunesse Affamée (2005) (Sami's top ten)

Bertrand Burgalat - Ma rencontre (2000) (DJ trouble's top ten)

And if one (FransS, in this case) would make a top ten of all these top tens, you'll get:

01 Coralie Clément-Salle des Pas Perdues
02 Coeur de Pirate-Coeur de Pirate
03 Benjamin Biolay-La Superbe
04 Keren Ann-La Disparition
05 Camille-Le Fil
06 Vanessa Paradis-Divinidylle
07 Carla Bruni-Comme Si De Rien N'etait
08 Vincent Delerm-Vincent Delerm
09 Guy Chambers & Sophie Hunter-The Isis Project
10 Marianne Dissard-L'entredeux

10/10: Best French albums of the decade (10)

And finally, the list of Thomas Bohnet. He's a dj, a promotor, a cd-compiler and a nice guy. Pictured is Keren Ann (no. 4). More lists? See here.

1 Benjamin Biolay - Rose Kennedy (2002)
Biolay`s fantastic debut, with songs between Chanson and Pop. Elegant and with international flair.

2 Noir Desir - Des visages des figures (2001)
The most important rockband. With the big hit Le vent nous portera.

3 Dionysos - La mécanique du coeur (2008)
One of the best live bands, I`ve ever seen. This is their masterpiece, a concept album with may guest stars like Olivia Ruiz, Emily Loizeau, Arthur H, Football star Eric Cantona and movie legend Jean Rochefort

4 Keren Ann - La Disparition (2002)
My favorite young female singer. She started writing songs together with Benjamin Biolay, This is her second album.

5 Sanseverino - Exactement (2006)
Neo-Swing at high speed. Good lyrics and fantastic music. Stéphane Sanservino used to be an actor before he`s got an musician. He mixes Gypsy Swing with chanson and influences from all over the world. Breakthrough 2001 with his hit Frida.

6 Cali - L`amour parfait (2004)
This ex-rugbyplayer is the sunnyboy of French pop from the south of France. This debut of Bruno Caliciuri is a classic with big hits Elle m`a dit and C`est quand le bonheur.

7 Mickey 3D - Tu vas pas mourir de rire (2003)
Together with Dionyos the best indierock-band from France. Singer Mickael Mickey Furnon writes also songs for others (we wrote the hit J´ai demandé à la lune for old wavers Indochine) . This third album remarks their breakthrough in France.

8 Benjamin Biolay - La superbe (2009)
His recently released double album is a masterpiece. Chanson and rock, jazzy, elegant, international flair. Good lyrics

9 Ridan - Le rève ou la vie (2008)
Ridan used to be a rapper before he changed to the chanson genre. There he mixes chanson with rai, reggae , pop and a little rap. Fantastic debut album. Also his other 2 albums are highly recommended.

10 Francoiz Breut - Vingt à trent mille jours (2001)
Her songs are fine and a little rough, her voice is really unique. She`s not the average fille fragile. Her self-named debut from 1997 is a fine record, but I prefer this second album from 2000 with one of my favorite songs ever Si tu disais.

10/10: Best French albums of the decade (9)

Alexandre/SOM is a regular contributor to FS. Here's his list. Emily Loizeau (no.4) is pictured.

1 Keren Ann - Nolita (2004)
I could put any of Keren Ann album in this list. I've chosen this one because Que n'ai-je is maybe one of the best French song ever ! A classic.

2 Daphné - Carmin (2007)
When I discovered this abum I couldn't stop listening it. The voice of Daphne is incredible. "Mourir d'un oeil" is my favorite song of the album...

3 Camille - Le fil (2005)
More than a great album, the project is a stunning revolution in French chanson. I remember the first time, when I heard most of the songs in a special Camille's show. It was three monthes before the release of the album. I told myself that Camille would change everything in the French music industry. That's exatly what she did. After Camille, a new generation of chanteuses appeared... For our pleasure... My favorite song "Vertige"

4 Emily Loizeau - L'autre bout du monde (2006)
A French folk... Simplicity of poetry... I love "Comment dire" and "L'autre bout du monde".

5 Jeremie Kisling - Monsieur Obsolete (2003)
When I discovered this album, I had the impression this guy was telling what I had in mind. I love the melodies of the songs. I love the childish words. It's like a never ending charm, even 7 years later... My favorite song is "Ordinaire"

6 Dani - Tout depend du contexte (2003)
Maybe one of the most unexpected album of the decade. the idea of a collaboration with Renaud Letang and Gonzales is the best thing that could happen to Dani. Miossec, Daniel Darc, Alain Chamfort was there too. For me it's an album in the pure Gainsbourg's tradition. My favorite song is "Reine d'Autriche"

7 Claire Diterzi - Boucle (2006)
A strong personnality. A risky mix between chanson and electronic. Claire Diterzi and her pure voice proposed a new vision of rock. My favorite song is "Infidele"

8 Vincent Delerm - Vincent Delerm (2002)
Nobody can write a song like him. This guy is unique.

9 Barbara Carlotti - Les lys brises (2007)
I met Barbara when I was in New York. She was playing at Joe's Pub the day after. I didn't know her music, except "Cannes". Before the interview I listened to this album. I never stopped listening it ! My favorite song is "D'accord".

10 Benjamin Biolay - La Superbe (2009)
When I first wrote this list, this album was not inside. I didn't have time to appreciate the whole jewel... This album is incredible. Maybe if I had written this list the next month it would have been #01... It's hard to choose a favorite song... "15 août" or "La Superbe" or "Ton héritage"

10/10: Best French albums of the decade (8)

Pierre Faa, he of Peppermoon AND the man who made those gorgeous Filles Fragiles covers, speaks out his mind. Pictured is Barbara Carlotti (no 1)

1. Barbara Carlotti - Les lys brisés (2006)
Sensual voice, elegant melodies... and I love her rhymes a lot. Some of the best writing in french these last years.

2. Christophe - Comme si la Terre penchait (2001)
I was not a Christophe fan until I met him when he released that album, half-written with Elisa Point. He's such a seducer... I understand why Universal spends so much on him. Listen, I have a theory... I think that songs are some kind of entities, floating in the world of ideas and emotions. When they want to take a shape in our world, they choose a channel (= artist), to bring them down here. Well, Christophe is now channeling songs that Polnareff can't do anymore.

3. Jil Caplan - Derrière la porte (2007)
Probably her best album. I can relate to everything there. I love every sentence of the lyrics, that are very direct and emotional. It's quite rare nowadays. Too many lyricists try to be obscure and hermetic, it's an easy way to look smart, even if you don't have much to say... Jil Caplan doesn't fall in that trap : she writes in a nice AND straight-forward way, it's not so common.

4. Holden - Pedrolira (2002)
Wonderful, creative sounds. Quite good melodies, easily remembered. Interesting, delicate lyrics.

5. Les Valentins - Juke-Box (2001)
Edith Fambuena and Jean-Louis Piérot are some of the most in demand producers in Paris (Etienne Daho, Brigitte Fontaine, La Grande Sophie, etc). But they never got enough credit for their music as a band. Juke Box still sounds good today, and I strongly recommend Le marchand de fleurs as an introduction.

6. Valérie Leulliot - Caldeira (2007)
She's your sweet, elegant, clever parisian songstress. At first, I was not a big fan of her band Autour de Lucie, but I got to love her voice after they did that wonderful song Je reviens. This first solo album is her best so far, and I'm eagerly waiting for new songs from her in 2010.

7. Buzy - Borderlove (2005)
OK, she's a friend. OK, we shared a flat when I arrived in Paris. OK, I have a song on this album... Still, I have other artist friends who are not in this list... I like Résonance a lot, it really tells how I feel when I'm about to fall in love. Alice Botté's guitars fit very well with Buzy's raspy, salty, smokey, powerful voice. I really don't like Stratégie de la solitude and Lequel des deux (boring), but all the rest is interesting.

8. Alain Chamfort - Le plaisir (2003)
His fragile singing, his dandy attitude and sophisticated chords opened doors for Etienne Daho and Benjamin Biolay. With the helping hand of smart lyricists (Gainsbourg, Jacques Duvall, etc), he managed to score hits in the 70s, in the 80s, in the 90s... and to keep a cool profile in the 00s, with this elegant, educated album.

9. Lafayette - Le monde merveilleux (2000)
Because it's a very unique, crazy-strange-glitter-glam artefact. Because I don't know any other french album like this one. Because Lafayette is a very nice guy. Because his song structures are very complex, with so many sophisticated chords... I don't listen to Le monde merveilleux every day, it's too demanding. But I like to know it's somewhere near me, to remind me how weird life can be.

10. JP Nataf - Clair (2009)
Mostly because of the production. I wonder if the lyrics have a meaning or not. Not so sure... Most of time, it sounds like random sentences picked up in a hat - as long as they sound good. But the soundscape is so interesting that it's worth listening anyway. I especially all these little intricate percussions...

woensdag 4 november 2009

10/10: Best French albums of the decade (7)

Anna Maria from Sweden, a regular guestposter on FS, counts down her faves. Mylene Farmer is pictured (no. 3)

1 Vanessa Paradis - Divine Idyllle (2007)
Peaceful and cute songs by mrs Depp. She has reason to be content.

2 Claire Diterzi - Tableau du chasse (2008) Inventive and lovely songs. The French Kate Bush? Quite possibly.

3 Myléne Farmer - Avant que l’ombre (2005)
Still haunting and has some of her best work in years.

4 Coeur de Pirate - Coeur de Pirate (2008)
So sweet and so cute, a real gem of a debut.

5 Emily Loizeau - Pays sauvage (2009)
Fabulous and kinda exotic music.

6 Emilie Simon - Emilie Simon (2003)
Bubbly and fun electro pop debut. Has a fab rendition of an Iggy Pop song, while not French it’s still a hoot.

7 Lo Polidoro - Le carrousel de jours
Classic yet new chansons by a promising singer.

8 Coralie Clement - Bye bye beauté (2005)
Wonderfully laidback songs and superb fille singing.

9 Benjamin Biolay - Trash yé yé (2007)
The crown prince of new chanson at his elegant and seedy best.

10 Raphael - Caravane (2005)
Charming pop/rock with neat singing.