Does the name Plastiscines ring a bell to you?
Let me jog your memory: back in 2009, the all-girl French rock band became the first to sign to NYLON magazine’s record label, released their second album “About Love”, and even nabbed a guest spot on Gossip Girl. Since then, the group downsized to a trio, added synths to their sound and continued to release new music. Their most recent release is a covers EP sponsored by Paco Rabanne perfume Black XS. It’s an eclectic collection of slick and stylish reinterpretations of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, Air’s “Sexy Boy”, Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder On The Dancefloor”, Caroline Loeb’s ’80s hit “C’est la ouate”, and an acoustic version of Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. If you like your bands to consist of guitar-rocking ladies (The Like, The Donnas, HAIM etc.), you should dig into this pronto. You can’t go wrong with some fun rock n’ roll with a French accent.
Listen to their new-wave take of Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” below. Cowbells included!
STREAM: Plastiscines – Blue Jeans (Lana Del Rey Cover)
I also quite enjoy their 2013 French single – the groovy “Comment faire”, whose video is a fun retro homage to American ’70s cop shows à la Charlie’s Angels.
WATCH: Plastiscines – Comment Faire
Alex Hepburn is a London-based up-and-coming artist signed to Warner, and seems to be getting a push in France. Her sound is more on the serious “real music” side, but it’s her torch-soul cover of Neneh Cherry‘s 1996 Portishead-esque single “Woman” that caught my attention. Alex’s got a raw, raspy, smoky voice that suits bare-bone soul/blues. She has a tendency to sound a bit affected on her own tracks, but for the cover, she’s got the balance just right. She’s definitely one to watch out for in 2013.
STREAM: Alex Hepburn – Woman (Neneh Cherry Cover)
And here’s an original – “Pain Is”, co-written by the notorious Linda Perry…
STREAM: Alex Hepburn – Pain Is
Moonlight Matters just keeps delivering the goods! After fantastic remixes for Lana Del Rey and Adele, the Belgian producer adds yet another cool female artist to his oeuvre. Check out his ’80s discofied take on Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s “Anna”, to be included on her new remix EP out April 3, alongside remixes by Tom Furse and Clock Opera. You can find the original version of “Anna” on her excellent new album “Stage Whisper”.
STREAM: Charlotte Gainsbourg – Anna (Moonlight Matters Remix)
The Shoes’ “Crack My Bones” was one of the more underrated releases of 2011 that I didn’t get a chance to write about. For a band previously rooted in remix service for the blogs, the album was a pleasant surprise of catchy indie synth-pop of a contemplative, melancholy nature, with vocal contributions from all the hip British artists like CocknBullKid, Esser, Primary 1. Even though they are big in their home country France, it looks like they’re finally getting their due here, thanks to their controversial “Time To Dance” video.
Ultra-violent, intense and disturbing, the 8-minute video starred Jake Gyllenhaal as an unhinged serial killer, always on to the next victim. To be honest, the song’s not my most favorite on the album, as it feels like a poor man’s Justice’s “D.A.N.C.E.”, down to the spelling bee gimmick, but it will be the one to get people talking, especially after the release of its compelling video. Unfortunately, I think it’s one of those cases where the accompanying visuals are so strong they overpower the song, and the song’s kinda ruined for me now that it will forever be associated with Jake’s creepy-ass serial killer brows. Anyhow, check out the video below if you haven’t (not for the faint of heart obviously), then stream the new extended edit, and the SebastiAn remix which only pushed the Justice comparisons further.
STREAM: The Shoes – Time to Dance (Extended Video Edit)
STREAM: The Shoes – Time to Dance (SebastiAn Remix)
Say bonjour to up-and-coming French indie-pop duo Singtank. Even though the band of Alexandre and Josephine de la Baume is still in early stages, they are gaining attention for being wicked cool by association. The sister, actress/singer Josephine, is in fact Mark Ronson‘s wife, and has been touted by Kate Moss and Daze & Confused magazine as the next big thing. Their first single “The Party” is pretty standard as quirky indie-pop goes, with the brother on lead vocals and Josephine providing harmonies. It’s a fun, catchy ditty that reminds me of another boy/girl duo, The Dø. The video is visually arresting in an Alice in Wonderland meets M.C. Escher way. It’ll be interesting to hear more from them, apparently they worked with Bjork’s former producer Nellee Hooper. I wonder if they worked with Mark too, or maybe that’s too obvious?
STREAM: Singtank – The Party
Their debut album, “In Wonder”, drops May 7.
More on Singtank.
It’s been quite a busy year for French songstress Émilie Simon. Back in April, the now New-York-based chanteuse finally dropped her most recent album “The Big Machine” in the US after nearly two years of its original release. The album saw her leaving behind trip-hop soundscapes to explore ’80s electro-pop, and spawned two fantastic singles/visuals, namely “Dreamland” and “Rainbow”.
The project goes on as she just released a new US EP, “The Cycle”, featuring the album cut & new remixes. The remix by Midnight Sun (Midnight Magic, Jessica 6, Hercules & Love Affair) is quite something special. They transform the song into a throbbing ’80s disco affair. I rarely say this but I actually prefer it to the original! Download it for free, along with her own remix of “Rainbow”, and her cover of Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy” below.
But wait! A brand new album is on its way very soon. Entitled “Franky Knight”, it’s the soundtrack to the new Audrey Tautou vehicle “La Delicatesse” (Delicacy). It’s not the first time Émilie does the soundtrack for film either, having scored the March of the Penguins documentary back in 2005. This time, she’s back to singing French on lead single “Mon Chevalier” (My Knight), which is dedicated to her fiance who passed away in September 2009 after catching the H1N1 flu :(. You can watch its music video right below.
Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s set to release “Stage Whisper”, a double-album collection of live and previously unreleased tracks on December 13. You might have heard preceding single “Memoir”, and her terrific stab at electro-pop “Terrible Angels”. The latest track to surface, “Out Of Touch”, however, is no grand departure for the French singer/actress. Bridging between her past works with Air and Beck, it’s a breezy, dreamy, elegantly-arranged number that she so effortlessly carries. But of course, that’s to be expected when you’re legit music royalty. I can’t help but get drawn to everything she does.
STREAM: Charlotte Gainsbourg – Out Of Touch
And if you haven’t already, make sure to watch the video for “Terrible Angels”, in which Charlotte turned into the coolest unlikely pop star, bursting some killer moves in a grim parking garage.
My favorite French madwoman, Camille Dalmais, is back to the music hole. Her fourth studio album, “Ilo Veyou”, will be released on October 3. Whereas she experimented with body percussion and English lyrics on her last one, with solid results like “Money Note” and “Gospel With No Lord”, this time around, she seems to go for the acoustic route, with the majority of the album recorded live in church chapels. The first single, “L’étourderie” (which means “thoughtlessness” in English), is a subtle but lovely taster of what’s to come. Never one to shy away from antics, Camille uploaded a special acoustic performance of the track on Youtube, in which she sings while also showing off her balancing skills! Delightfully kooky. Watch the video and stream the original below.
Camille – L’étourderie