Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 7/4/11

Every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Monday’s album is #575:

Telephone – Dure Limite

Today we celebrate the birth of America with a French rock band. In their late 70s/early 80s heyday, Telephone were commonly known as the French Rolling Stones, but they were closer to the Boomtown Rats, especially by 1982 when they put out this eclectic mix of gritty riff-rock, snarling punkish broadsides and a small handful of artsy ballads. The former are well represented by the title track (“Hard Limit”), Serrez (Squeeze) and the funky, sarcastic Ça (C’est Vraiment Toi), which translates loosely as “Yeah, That’s You, All Right.” Bassist Corinne Marienneau takes over lead vocals on the sexy faux-jazz stripper groove of Le Chat, while frontman Jean-Louis Aubert brings a plaintive, brooding lyrical edge to Jour Contre Jour (Day After Day), Juste Un Autre Genre (Just Another Guy) and the slowly unwinding, Lou Reed-influenced Le Temps. The best tracks here are the scorching Ex-Robin des Bois (Ex-Robin Hood), a metaphorically-charged slam at a sellout traitor; the iconic Cendrillon (Cinderella), who goes from prom queen to dead junkie on the wings of Louis Bertignac’s gorgeously elegaic guitar; and the concluding, towering, angst-driven epic Ce Soir Est Ce Soir (Tonight’s the Night). In lieu of a torrent for this particular album, here’s one for all five of the band’s studio efforts: the first two are hit-and-miss, but everything else afterward is worth a spin, even if you don’t speak French.

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July 3, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Les Chauds Lapins at Barbes, Brooklyn NY 6/19/09

It was both impressive and heartwarming to see how this band has grown. Les Chauds Lapins means “hot rabbits,” literally – in the vernacular, the connotation is a guy who’s hot to trot. Their shtick is reviving old French chansons from the thirties and forties, predominantly from the Charles Trenet catalog. A Gallic icon, Trenet was flamboyant, frequently annoying but also very witty. His repertoire ranged from the odious Douce France (sort of the French equivalent of God Bless America) to dozens of vastly more entertaining and clever songs with a jazzy, theatrical feel, sometimes going completely over the edge into camp. Les Chauds Lapins play them with a knowing, tongue-in-cheek appreciation: former Ordinaires frontman Kurt Hoffman on banjo ukelele or clarinet; ex-Roulette Sister Meg Reichardt on guitar and banjo uke, sharing vocals with Hoffman; Andy Cotton on upright bass, Garo Yellin on cello and a ringer on violin adding a gypsy flair to several selections. The result was as lush and romantic as it was funny: Les Chauds Lapins prefer songs with multiple layers of meaning and they brought all of them out.

What was most impressive is how much their repertoire has expanded since their first album (which made the top 20 on our Best Albums of 2007 list). This time they opened with the coyly swinging Il M’a Vue Nue (He Saw Me Naked), Reichardt managing to hold herself back from completely hamming it up. The high point of their first set was Je Crache Dans L’Eau (I Spit Into the Water), a character study chronicling one unique and peculiar response to rejection, taking it out on fish in the river and marveling at all the ripples a mouthful of saliva can create. The band clearly had a great time with an even more bizarre chronicle, le Fils de la Femme Poisson (The Fishwife’s Son) when it came to the bridge, which is a dead ringer for the Pachelbel Canon. The song was written forty years before Oprah rediscovered it and put the Canon back in the canon (ouch – sorry) – was this a case of reinventing the wheel or a very clever case of theft? Appropriate something previously unknown and you have a perfect crime.   

As a guitarist, Reichardt just gets more interesting, more incisive. Having honed her blues chops in the Roulette Sisters, she’s worked up her jazz side in this project and where she used to comp chords on banjo uke on most of the songs, she’s playing guitar with the same clever incisiveness and love for the low registers that’s so apparent when she plays blues. It was also nice to see Hoffman cut loose with a fiery clarinet solo toward the end of the set – it would be good to see those chops in action more often. And it would have been fun to stick around for a whole second set , but there were drunk people to watch over, the price of some pretty hard pregaming.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment