posted on December 18, 2009 18:00
Here are the names of real French bands currently doing well on the Paris indie scene: The Bewitched Hands On The Top Of Our Heads; Jil Is Lucky; (Please) Don't Blame Mexico. Leading cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles awarded their CQFD prize for most promising new act of 2009 to The Popopopops. An electro DJ/producer called Julien Brambilla, featured lately in The Guardian and therefore gaining serious UK exposure at a swoop, decided he needed a stage name and so he's calling himself Danton Eeprom.
Far be it from your correspondent to pose as some sort of communications expert, but we spot a serious flaw here in French bands and their plans for world domination. The tunes might be good, the look sharp, the live show tight. However, Jacques le Frenchman then ruins it all by calling his band something so awful that no one outside France will ever take them seriously or have a listen. (We should point out that most young French people speak English quite well.)
For instance: you might quite fancy some Gallic retro-pop or dancefloor-friendly indie. But there's no way you'd take an uninformed gamble on bands called Diving With Andy or Pony Pony Run Run, right? Right. Could they not have run the name past an English-speaking friend first? Perhaps some enterprising young anglophone here in Paris should set up shop as an English-For-Pop-Music teacher or consultant. (Hmmmm...)
All this is inspired by yet another decent French act let down by slack work at the baptismal font: Get Back Guinozzi! (The exclamation mark is theirs. Because calling your band just 'Get Back Guinozzi' would have been ridiculous.)
Anyway, the defendants: GBG! are from Toulon in the south of France. At their core is a duo, Eglantine Gouzy and Frederic Landini (right), but they have three bandmates for live shows. Landini is a prominent music promoter - his MIDI project stages an impressive annual festival in Toulon every summer and next February they're bringing The XX down south. GBG! are currently based in London and signed to FatCat Records.
Their first album has just come out - it's called 'Carpet Madness' and it's quite good. If you remember your Venn diagrams from maths class, GBG! make lo-fi indie pop that would be the intersection of the sets The Moldy Peaches, The B-52s, Cibo Matto, Belle And Sebastian and '60s reggae-pop. Gouzy, with her accented and simplistic vocal delivery, is an acquired taste. But so is Guinness and you had no qualms about putting in the effort to acquire that one. Their poppy cover of 'Police And Thieves' briefly recalls the stale joke that is Nouvelle Vague but still (just about) works. On the whole, this album has a lot of genuine charm and energy, plus a love of melodic indie pop.
Check out tracks from 'Carpet Madness' at the Get Back Guinozzi! MySpace page. Here's the video (note: contains kitsch '70s nudity) for the best song on the album, 'Low Files Tropical':