The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


There seems to be a trend among female singers in Paris at the moment: sounding like Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.

In the last twelve months there have been three noteworthy albums drawing on the Velvets' distinctive droning guitar sound and the spoken-word vocal style of Reed's solo records.

We've already mentioned Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle - the group fronted by Emmanuelle Seigner (right), the French actress and wife of Roman Polanski. The band's eponymous album was released earlier this year, led off by VU-esque single 'Sing Sing'.

Keren-Ann (left) is not French - she was born in Israel and raised in the Netherlands. However, she moved to France at age 11 and her early albums were in French - which is why she's filed among the French singers in Paris record shops.

Her self-titled fifth album was recorded in Paris and New York - indeed, its opening two tracks, the singles 'It Ain't No Crime' and 'Lay Your Head Down' sound heavily influenced by Reed's 'New York' album.

As for Keren-Ann's record, it's a fine album of intimate folk-flavoured songs that also draw heavily on Leonard Cohen.

However, trumping both Emmanuelle and Keren-Ann is one Vanessa Contenay-Quinones (right). Her band Vanessa And The O's (featuring James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins on guitar) released a fabulous album last year called 'The Story Of O'.

It's a veritable VU tribute album; not only does Vanessa sound like a more tuneful Nico, but she also drops numerous Reed references into her songs. There's even a track called 'J'Attends Lou' ('I'm Waiting For Lou').

If grabbing the attention of the great man was her objective then it's certainly worked - Vanessa has recently been recording tracks with Reed in New York.

From 'The Story of O', here's a very glamorous-looking Vanessa posing around London in the video for the unbearably catchy 'Bagatelle', the best French single of 2006:

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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.