As the 7″ single seems to fade into the sunset, it’s nice to see some labels haven’t given up on the format. France’s Croque Macadam and Requiem Pour Un Twister are still believers and they’ve just released a couple beauties.
Psychedelic tricksters Forever Pavot are lead by Emile Sornin, based in Paris and have much in common with Jacco Gardner and Soundcarriers. Their first single is cinematic, bucolic psycheldia that rustles the leaves and bundles the hay and makes birds chirp all on a widescreen. It has great organ swirls and galloping bass that will have you seeing a kaleidoscope of dusty colors. It’s a wonderful record and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that a label like Trouble in Mind would be interested in putting out their next record over here in the States.
Cheap Riot are also from Paris, but their debut single is all about punks and mods. They owe a dept to the Television Personalities and the Buzzcocks. Part Time Vacancy has a great little riff and a pithy chorus that you can’t get out of your head. I also love the punky bridge with ooh-ooh’s. It’s a a fun record that should be required playing at any part, even a party of one.
Paris by way of Biarritz, France group La Femme released one of my favorite records of last year. Psycho Tropical Berlin was a mix of electronic metronomic underground, cold wave surfy twang and punky ye-ye. It’s sly, fun, and playful. Listening to the album you it’s readily apparent that La Femme know how to have a good time. This impression was confirmed Wednesday night at the Vera Project.
The group knows how to throw a party, even in a sterile all ages venue where the nearest alcohol is blocks away (or in the flask you snuck in). Indie music is full of inanimate objects on stage so it was refreshing to see all six members of La Femme know how to entertain. Three keyboards buttressed the stage, but that did not stop them from coming into the crowd and dancing with each other. Singer Clémence Quélennec was constantly dancing, displaying some cool robotic 80’s Valley Girl moves, while her co-keyboard MC Marlon Magnée danced and pranced about the stage. It was infectious, fun to watch and provoked the entire audience into dancing too.
A couple highlights of the set were the manic Antitaxi with its lengthy synth introduction building anticipation that exploded in a twangy surf guitar riff to everyone’s elated satisfaction. The epic It’s Time to Wake Up in showcased guitarist and Theremin maestro Sacha Got playing some tiny wooden leaf shaped gypsy guitar from which he coaxed huge washes of sitar like hallucinogenic sounds.
I’m sure touring and playing the same songs night after night gets old for a band, but La Femme genuinely seemed to be having a great time. They are a band in search of a party and if there isn’t one nearby they are fully capable of starting it themselves. Like a French B-52’s.
I like weird and I like good and Cheveu fits that description. The French band has just released it’s fourth album titled Bum and it just might be their best and weirdest record yet. How could they surpass their cover of Vanilla Ice‘s Ice Ice Baby in terms or strangeness you ask? Ok, maybe Bum isn’t their overtly strangest album. Actually they dial down one kind of weird and dial up another kind. Before they came off as arty punks willing to graffiti over anything, on Bum they are more into a prog rock otherworldly weirdness. They take elements from bands like Hawkwind, Wall of Voodoo, the Intelligence, Brainiac and Devo and come up with something all their own.
In French, the ground floor of a building is not the first floor it’s the rez-de-chaussée. The first floor is the second floor and so on.So if you’re on the third floor in France, you’d be on the fourth floor in the US. The Limiñanas have just released their third album. It really is their third album, the French don’t count albums like the floors of buildings.
The Limiñanas are not quite classic french pop. More like classic french pop through a haze of hashish wafting from a dark room filled with strange characters smoking from hookahs. Walk out for a breather and the brightness temporarily blinds you as you squint to adjust to the undulation of the sea breaking on the beach. The Limiñanas record in their Mediterranean cocoon and take in the unique sights and sounds of their surroundings and mix them better known quantities like Velvet Underground,Serge Gainsbourg and Ravi Shankar to make records that sound partly like the place they live and partly of some made up world that only exists in their imaginations. Costa Blanka is an album with a unique sense of place. Put it on and be transported to that place, rez-de-chaussée…premier étage…étage supérieur.
Not much is known about Kisskiss Karate Passion. On humid summer nights on a certain street corner in Bordeaux town, if you look up from the sidewalk you might notice a man sitting on a windowsill wearing a wife-beater and smoking cigarettes through a cat mask. Some notice and continue walking, but you being a sucker for French honky-tonk are mesmerized by the songs wafting from the open window.
They sound kind of punk, kind of folk, and seem able to kick up a pile of dust. Where did this masked fellow find this amazing record? He must have been down South. South being Spain or Italy. Did he get it on some beach where the Ramones and Beat Happening played on some dream bill long ago? Or was it just last week when the Beets and Love Boat rumbled somewhere?
Albums like this materialize from the steam coming up from the streets in far off places every now and then. They are rare, so you decide to ring the buzzer and hope this guy isn’t a psychopath.
La Femme are dark wave surfers from Paris that ride waves of synths and guitars into a globally warmed tropical Berlin. Yes folks like D.I. predicted, they are finally hanging 10 in East Berlin. The future has spoken and it is now…or was it then? Time travel always confuses me.
This groop has read their share of le Carré spy novels, had their fill of Ventures records, probably have an original pressing of Les Visiteurs Du Soir by Mathématiques Modernes, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they listened to the Intelligence since they share a label with them in La France. Not only do they have the pedigree, but they know how to employ it. Their debut album Psycho Tropical Berlin is one of those records that immediately strikes you in your pleasure center.
Killer beats, deadly riffs, icy vocals all done with a mind to keep you interested and returning to it. Ahh yes, coffee, love, heroin and La Femme. I’ve already compared them to a bunch of bands, but each time I listen to the record I think of a bunch more of which they remind me. Synths, jazz, bossa nova, cold wave, new wave, etc. I can with near certainty guarantee that you will be unable to deny the fruits and temptations of La Femme. Go on bite into the apple, trust me it’s good.
Stream: La Femme – Nous Etions Deux (from Psycho Tropical Berlin out on Born Bad Records)
This song Speed of Sound by Beat Mark has taken over my waking thoughts for the past day. It is one half of the upcoming split single with the Two Bit Dezperados (The Two Bit Dezperados song Blind on the flip is recommended to anyone that digs Thee Oh Sees). Beat Mark hail from the Isle de France, sing in English and jangle like Scots. This split single follows their debut album Howls of Joy that came out on Final Taxi last year. Speed of Sound may be their best song yet. It’s certainly less garage-y and polished up slightly more than their previous output. In fact, it is so classic sounding it I keep wondering if it’s a cover. It has a slight Free Design touch to it, a little bit of a Small Factory sunny disposition and some Veronica Fall urgency. When a song catches the light like this, you are left to helplessly play it again and again.
stream: Beat Mark – Speed of Sound
Order the split single from Shit Music for Shit People. While you’re there be sure and check out the Strange Hands record that SMFSP has as well. It’s a doozy.
Here’s a song from Beat Mark’s album Howls of Joy. You can listen to the entire album at their Soundcloud, and if you are in the US you can order it from Insound.