Saturday, 16 January 2010

Dec. 20th: I read a magazine that said, 'by 17, your life is at an end'

Charlotte Gainsbourg-5:55 (Because Music, 2006)

Charlotte Gainsbourg is the daughter of Serge and Jane Birkin. Her first recording was called 'Lemon Incest'. A duet with her father. Cue controversy. 5:55 is her first LP as an adult, and is mostly written by Gainsbourg fans Air, with input from Neil Hannon,Jarvis Cocker, and Nigel Godrich, amongst others. All but one track is in English.
If Gainsbourg was attempting to make something distinct from the work of her parents, she pretty much fails: she sings with the same enunciated delivery as her mother, and the songs sound like Serge album tracks, particularly the swirling string arrangements. It makes the listening experience slightly unnerving; the material is unknown but also feels very familiar. This could easily have been released in 1971.
That's not to say the album is a failure. It's a pretty good album, particulary the single 'Songs That We Sing'. It's perfectly competent; I just can't shake the feeling that I'm listening to a Jane 'n' Serge duets album from the 70s.I really can't,

Dec.19th:You could have made my summer-I should have leapt upon you

James Yorkston- The Year of The Leopard (Domino,2006)

Confession time: I am a huge Fence Collective fan, of which James Yorkston forms a part-hell, it's through Fence that I heard about the 100 Days project. Despite this, I don't know James Yorkston's work that well. I own most of the records, but haven't got round to listening to all of them properly. I've seen him live twice but still, only know a couple of albums properly. This is one I don't.
It's pretty much the archetypal JY album; acoustic guitar, the occasional clarinet, accordions, fairly sedate. There are some really lovely songs on this- in particular 'I  Awoke', in a less spartan arrangement than on his mini-album Hoopoe, the title track and 'Summer Song'. In a way, the album is strangely predictable. There are no huge surprises and the tracks pretty much flow into each other (except for the stream-of-conciousness vocal/electronic combo of 'Woozy With Cider'. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it makes for an album that works as a cohesive whole. Although this is a more immediately accessible collection, I'd still say that I prefer JY's 2002, Moving Up Country.

Dec. 18th: Tout seul dans l'arène je me suis perdu

-M- -Mister Mystère (Barclay, 2009)

-M- is the pseudonym of Mathieu Chedid, French singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and son of French-Libanese chasonnier Louis Chedid (hence the pseudonym, to avoid pigeonholing, I think). Mister Mystère is his 4th vocal album; he also has one instrumental LP and a soundtrack to his name.
I may as well say it straight off- I love this album. I haven't heard much of his earlier stuff (yet- it's further down the pile) but what I have heard, I like. Stylistically the album's a bit of a mixture: straight chanson, arrangements strongly reminiscent of  Malian pop, bank robberies in musical form (!), funk....particular favourites are 'Amssétou'-the Mali-esque one-'Est-ce c'est ça?',whose intro sounds weirdly identical to the Kook's 'Naive', and 'Le Roi des Ombres' which has a truly brilliant intro and arrangement,very atmospheric, almost 70s-esque. 
As far as I know Amazon UK don't have this yet. do, obviously,and iTunes. It's worth seeking out, preferably in physical format:you get a DVD with extra songs as well.  

Damn exams, and Christmas,and new year, and minibreaks...

RIGHT. This is TERRIBLE, I know. I'm almost up to date- I have loads of days' worth written up,just not typed on blogger- SO. The plan in to type up a few at a time, and hopefully get up to date that way. To be honest the idea of it is scaring me slightly but we'll see how it goes....