Linus
Gone with the old and ugly, that's my current motto! Sweet video, too.

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Keeping my promise of writing more about Tori Amos, my Muse, here I am today with what is perhaps my favorite album of hers: from the choirgirl hotel, a 1998 release. I still vividly remember putting it for the first time on my CD player at close to maximum volume and let its many wonders enrapture me like very few have done since.

Musically, it was a quantum leap for Tori, what with her previous album - Boys for Pele - being an almost exclusively acoustic affair, complete with harpsichords and all. This time around, Tori decided to brew a very special kind of aural magic, lending her classical piano to the drum beat and the electronica sounds. The end result still sounds today as fresh as it came out and as adventurous. Her voice was also able to reach such emotional highs that it drove me to tears in the simple space of a chord change. I clearly remember feeling dizzy for days with the whole experience and this is something that has only happened to me once. What a gift, then. My humble thanks go over to you right now, Ms Amos.

Listen to Liquid Diamonds and let yourself go.


Linus
I know, I know, I'm always late to the game. But I've explained here before - I find it much more exciting to (re)discover these new artists just as their hype is going down and I'm therefore able to appreciate and enjoy them in a much more personal way.

I have to say that the title of this album is more than appropriate - Lungs - because this girl has some serious pipes to her credit. It's almost like she's channelling some sort of multitude of angry voices that come out of her throat all at once and the feeling throughout the album is one of exhilaration and urgency. The album is not without its faults, though, with some songs sounding much like each other and there is a variety of singing styles sorely lacking. But I guess all can be forgiven when the end result is as addicting as this.

I'm going to leave you with one of favorite tracks: Rabbit Heart (Raise it up). See you all soon.


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He burned as brightly and as quickly as a match, his legacy is forever and ever like all good mavericks' works tend to be. And lately one of his songs keeps playing in my head over and over, almost like it's trying to telling me something. The thing is, I know what it is.

António Variações is currently a legend in his and my home country, Portugal. He only made two albums to his name and some TV showings and just as he was ready to embrace a much wider reach, he died. Such are the lives of mercurial talents. His works keep on being rediscovered by generation after generation and rightly so, because he was able to tap into what makes us portuguese and infuse it with a modern feel, almost like giving us a new fresh look at what we can be.

The song I referred to is called Estou Além [I'm up ahead] and for me it reflects quite perfectly that very state of an artist/person constantly unsatisfied with his/her position in the world and always on the search for something more, something other than this. How do I understand him.

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Another proof on how to not fall prey to the dreaded sophomore album curse. Laura Marling says she speaks because she can and we believe her all the way. This, her next after her brilliant debut, proves once and for all that she is here to stay and furthermore that she has made an album for the ages.

It's quite incredible the songwriting maturity she displays in each and every song of this follow-up, with a noticeable improvement both on the lyrics and arrangements department. It's a self-assured artist we hear now and the pathos invested in some of the songs give it gravitas and resonance in a way seldom heard. And if you think I'm going loco with the superlatives, just pick up a copy of this album and give it a try. You'd be hard pressed not to concur with me.

Listen to Darkness Descends, a quite up-beat song albeit its misleading title.

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Coming soon...

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It's been a long time since I've listened to this album and I always get a kick out of it. It's one of the most infectious retro-pop albums I've heard and it still manages to hit some high notes on the pop barometer.

Written and produced by Paradis' then beau Lenny Kravitz, this is a collection of songs that recall a whole period of time that's very much loved around these parts. Not quite recapturing the pop magnificence of the albums Gainsbourg made with Bardot and Birkin, it's still a nice try and quite a good entry in that particular musical cannon. Paradis sings it all the way through in that Lolita voice that she made all her own and it fits the festivities to a T. In short, I love it.

Listen to the hit single Be My Baby and fall in love all over again.

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The french have somehow always managed to produce some of the most enduring and original pop albums that I can remember. I don't know how they do it. Guess they have it in their blood. And when on top of this, they channel their longstanding love of all things Americana, we have something like the album I have here for you today: Emily Loizeau's Pays Sauvage.

Sung both in french and in english, it's almost like hearing the songs a young french female pioneer composed when she first entered american shores and got in touch with "God's Country" very own soul and musical wavelengths. The feeling of the whole album is therefore very "live" and it sometimes feel like you've crashed a barn party and somehow instantly fell in love with it. The songs have a rhythm and a groove that completely permeates any room or space that you listen to. Yes, it's a winner on all fronts and I'm hooked.

Here's one of its more mellow moments: Songes [Dreams]. Take care.

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I bet I'm not alone in saying that most of us didn't see this one coming. I mean, this smelled like a vanity project from the go: top model asks her rock star boyfriend to produce an album for her? I mean... How could they make this work and not be ridiculed? Amazingly, that's just what happened. And astoundingly, it's one of the year's best. Ladies and gentlemen, make way for a significant new artist has just walked into town.

Karen Elson is her name and she sings of things both ancient and timeless. She carries the weight of all female suffering with her and her soft and sometimes sandpaper-y voice casts spells on whomever makes an effort to really listen to her. She sings of lost loves, new loves, contradictory loves, timeless loves. And she cradles you while doing so. It's hard to imagine how effortlessly she does all this and how genuinely she does it. You just couldn't tell that by looking at her pretty pictures from her other day-job. What a pleasant surprise. And we want more, Ms Elson!

Listen to Lusana and gently fall in love with her.

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I just love it when I "discover" new artists in an almost casual way. I've talked about this before, about my trust in serendipity. And it occasionally produces quite exquisite things like the one I have here for you today.

Morita Douji is japanese and made a string of solo albums in the 70's which were almost like reinterpretations on the same melancholic state of mind, one fueled by apparently a loss of a friend. And that is pretty much all I know about her. And that is pretty much all I need to know to immerse myself in the gloriously sad music she made in those albums. Oh, and she always wore dark glasses. Always. Even in concerts. And she quit her career very early on.

I particularly like her third album - A Boy - because I feel that she was able to convey and fulfill all her musical ambitions in a much more accomplished way than before. Listen to You Are Trembling, my favorite track of hers at the moment. Oh, and if you think that the non-musical coda is a glitch, well, it's not. It's completely intentional and for me it only adds up to the charm this female singer has on me.

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And here is Mr. Selway once again with a quite interesting and mysterious video. It's always good for me to see that some artists still deal with the divine in their work.

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Here's one that I bet most of us weren't expecting: an album by former Radiohead drummer, Philip Selway. And an excelent one, at that. Mostly an acoustic affair, it manages to both impress us with the consistent quality of its songcraft and the emotion with which it is delivered. A keeper, then.

Galaxies away from the music his former band used to make, this is an album that feels homegrown and as a result, quite intimate. It's almost like the time had come to put out all those songs that he'd been keeping in his drawer that served as an escape to all the avant-garde musical explorations of his former day job. And we're all glad he did. At least I am. This is a very gentle sounding album, much in the vein of the one on the below post, its difference being on the musical ambients Selway manages to conjure, which are in turns mysterious and at times romantic.

Listen to The Witching Hour, the album closer.

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Here's a band I've been warming to quite recently, norwegian duo Kings of Convenience. Paraphrasing Vanilla Sky, they had me at the Simon and Garfunkel vocal harmonies. I was literally and instantly hooked on their sweet sounds. And I've been rotating this, their second album - Riot On An Empty Street - quite heavily for the past few days.

Their main appeal is actually quite simple and straightforward. It stems for their exquisite talent in crafting the gentlest melodies I've heard in quite a long time. Because that's just what this is: a collection of gentle songs, gently sung by - yes, why not? - two very gentle men. It's the kind of record you put on a Sunday morning and slowly get into the groove of a new day, preferably spent at home cuddling your pet(s) and drinking latte in front of the TV or on the front porch.

As a taster, I leave you with Misread, one of my favorite tracks at the moment.

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I've been listening to this wonderful song for days on end now and I still haven't tired myself of it. It's another of those cases where you find something truly sublime amidst a soundtrack noone's ever heard of before. In this case it's Riz Ortolani's soundtrack for Prosperi and Jacopetti's Addio Zio Tom a.k.a. Goodbye Uncle Tom, a powerful indictment of racism and suppression of human values made by the "godfathers" of the Mondo movie, a kind of exploitative documentary exposing some of the grossest things human beings are capable of.

It's actually one of the most schocking movies ever made and sometimes the message it wants to convey isn't quite that well translated into images like their author's would've wanted them to be but it's there for all to see and judge. The music however is glorious and that's always been the main paradox with maestro Ortolani: no matter the amount of gore and blood on display, the melodies he creates are always grandly romantic which, I personally think, only helps to stress their power by way of contrasting them.

The song I have here for you today is called Oh My Love and is sung by Katyna Ranieri. And it's wonderful. Take a listen.

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I'm not trying to provoke any cosmic backlash unto me but the fact is that today is Equinox and here I am talking about a record by Oberon called Midsummer Night's Dream.

I just found it by simple hazard (I prefer to call it serendipity) and fell in love with it. It's extremely rare (I think only 150 original copies were made!) and it features some of the loveliest folk sounds you'll likely to hear in quite some time. For seasoned folk lovers, maybe you won't find here nothing new but in my opinion, it has that one ingredient that separates it from most of what you've heard so far: magic.

I especially like the treatment they made to one of Debussy's classic pieces: Syrinx. I could hear it ad eternum and imagine myself daydreaming in a meadow somewhere. Maybe I just will.

Linus
Lovely video for Headless Heroes' Just Like Honey. Very evocative of their own particular brand of sound. Stay safe.

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One of the initial goals of this little blog was to kind of promote awareness to music that is often times underevaluated and unknown, while at the same time reevaluating that same music and getting the readers to listen to it with new ears. Today I bring to you something I'm quite sure only some of you have ever heard of. At least, I assume so.

Stevie Wonder's Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants began its very life as a soundtrack for a documentary of the same name which in turn was based on a book of the same name. Plus, it had the very ungrateful task of following one of Wonder's high watermarks - Songs In The Key Of Life, which many consider to be his masterpiece. So, a difficult album case study. However, not only does it succeed beautifully in following that almost miraculously produced album, it even surpasses it at times, which is no mean feat at all from whichever angle you see it. And for as hard as I try to explain it here with mere words, you simply have to listen to it to fully understand just how far he was pushing his production and songwriting skills at the time. Sometimes, it feels like an aural orgasm, especially if you listen to it with your headphones on.

For proof, try the gorgeous Come Back As A Flower. See you soon.

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Genre-hopper extraordinaire Ryuichi Sakamoto's Smoochy album is one I find myself listening to from time to time always with a renewed sense of wonder. It's almost like I keep finding new things about it everytime I listen to it.

And this is a crucial album if you want to find out what this man's music is all about and how it got where it is today. In it are the seeds of everything he went on to do, be it his electronic explorations with Alva Noto, his acoustic albums with piano and strings, or even his ongoing romance with bossa nova and other latin american music languages. It's all here.

I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite tracks - Bibo No Aozora - one that has been reworked by him in multiple ways in the past and always successfully, which only goes to prove just how simple in their complexity his songs really are. And in this lies his greatest gift. Enjoy it.

Linus
If you haven't heard of this man, shame on you. But don't stress. Here's your opportunity to do so. And prepare to fall in love with one of the most beautiful male voices ever to grace a recording studio.

Ney Matogrosso is a brazilian artist with quite a long career on his shoulders and who's still going from strength to strength with every tour he undertakes. Yep, he's still touring and one of my biggest sorrows is never to have caught him live, even though he's been to my country many times. I'll try and reassess that the next time he'll be here. For sure!

Bandido is one of the many albums he recorded in the 70's after going solo (Secos e Molhados was his first musical project) and one that deserves to be better known. Combining popular and traditional brazilian music with a latin american twist, this album manages to seduce its listener and enchant us in a way very few can. I could choose any track to represent it here but right now I'm absolutely in love with his rendition of Gaivota (Seagull). So here it is.

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I admit to having a strange ritual choosing my aural selections: frequently, I choose them visually. Confused? Don't be. I explain: for me, album artwork is almost as important as the musical contents. I cannot take them apart and I often times feel disappointed when a great album jacket doesn't correspond musically or vice-versa. This one here today is not the case, thankfully.

Headless Heroes is a project by a very eclectic New York combo headlined by singer Alela Diane who decided to assemble a collection of songs of famous contemporary songwriters and do some covers. The Silence of Love is the final result and it is beguiling. Since I'm not that familiar with the original versions, it was almost like hearing them for the first time ever, not even registering the fact that they are in fact cover versions.

I'm going to leave you with To You, my current favorite track of this, an album I'm sure I'll give a lot of spins to.

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I told you I was in love with her, didn't I? So bear with me.

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Somehow, I find it hard to leave french-speaking territories music-wise whenever I start listening to their music. There's something quite intangible about the way they sing, the way they feel and the way I feel them singing. And let's be honest for a second here: it's hot singing in french.

Today's singer is Salvatore Adamo, more widely known as simply Adamo, a very popular singer/songwriter from the 60's to the 70's that managed to pen quite a considerable number of hits in his heyday. Although I'm not sure, I am almost certain this is one artist that I can imagine my mother listening to the radio to when she was younger and the world in brighter colors. French music was constantly in the airwaves in my home country some 40 odd years ago, so it's not completely impossible that she did hear him singing a song or two. I'll have to ask her.

In the meantime, listen to Mon Cinema, an impassioned chanson with a funky bass line only the french are capable of. See you soon.

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I've fallen completely head over wheels over this canadian fille... A child prodigy and piano player since she was 3 years old, she started composing very early on and here it is, her debut album. And, as usual with me, I've just found out about it and now I'm raving about her to all my friends.

Sometimes, I really don't mind to discover artists this way, when they're about to release a new work (which must be her case any month now) and the promotion for the current album has dwindled and silenced. It's almost like finding out about a well-kept secret and being the last one to know. Wait - maybe that's not so good after all... Oh, heck, I really don't mind just as long as secrets are as sweet and enchanting as these.

I'm going to leave you with the album closer: C'était salement romantique. Stay safe.

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I've just found out about this amazing album through some friends of mine. I honestly (and foolishly) thought that Mike Patton, of Faith No More fame, had sort of abandoned his musical career after the band's breakup but I had no idea how wrong I was! He has apparently been involved in a myriad of musical projects with other bands, artists and movie soundtracks so I guess the man is here to stay, after all. And this particular album - Mondo Cane - might just prove to be his biggest claim to musical legitimacy he'll ever do. I sincerely hope he can prove me wrong because now I really want to know what he's going to do next.

Mondo Cane was apparently inspired by the fact of Patton having married an italian girl and moved in to Italy where he started to realize that italian radio stations filled the air with old italian pop songs. Which I simply love, in case you haven't noticed yet! This album is a sort of hommage to those years and those songs and that kind of sound that I guess you can instantly recognize in some Morricone soundtracks. And that's exactly where I'm going to leave you: a rendition of Deep Deep Down, a track that can be found on the soundtrack of Danger: Diabolik, a key movie of those times. And prepare to be amazed.

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I've been waiting for the right moment to write about Neil Hannon's The Divine Comedy new album - Bang Goes The Knighthood - but I guess now's as good a moment as any. This is pop music for all seasons, so let's start the month on a high note, shall we?

This is their first album on their own label, Divine Comedy Records, and the tenth under their moniker and it also marks a sort of stripping down of their usually string-laden songs. While a part of me is kind of sad at the lack of big, dramatic numbers, it's also kind of refreshing to see them try other aural landscapes and come out unscathed and renewed at the end.

However, I have to say that I'm still not completely won over by this new offering, though I'm starting to feel that it's slowly sinking in without me noticing it. Which is always a good thing. I'm going to leave you for now with a delicious duet: Island Life.

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...in the best way possible, that is. Take a look at the new Charlotte Gainsbourg video. Kinda reminds you of her recent movie, doesn't it?

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The funny thing about listening to film soundtracks is that you are liable to find something exquisite laying there, just waiting to mesmerize you for days and weeks on end. Karl-Heinz Schäfer's Les Gants Blancs du Diable is one such case.

If you've never heard of french fille Leonie, you may consider yourself automatically forgiven: she is just being rediscovered thanks to the ever-surprising world of the blogosphere and is creating a small phenomenon. I must say I'm intrigued and would love to see an official compilation of her recordings released in the near future. Her voice is quirky, child-like and dreamy and these characteristics alone are enough for me to enjoy her without even wanting to know who she is. Which I won't. Oh, by the way, this following track would've fit like a glove in the compilation I posted about just below.

So, without further ado, here she is, singing Couleurs. Enjoy.

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I'm crazy for a killer compilation. I make them myself to listen to while driving and always look for the rare and the interesting. And when compilations like these come your way, bringing together the cream of the crop of some of the most avant-garde musicians of France's 70's music scene, you know you cannot go wrong. And when you know that the guys behind such compilations are Dirty Sound Systems (of Dirty Edits Series fame), you know you're in for a win-win situation.

Dirty French Psychedelics is the name of today's compilation but they could've named it Escargots & Bistrots that it wouldn't change its massive appeal laying within. From the obscure to the less obscure (you won't find anything mainstream here, that's for sure), this amazing compilation takes you on an aural ride like very few I've listened to recently. Maybe it's my unabashed love for french retro kicking in, maybe it's the fact that I find the sound so recognizable in no small amount thanks to years and years of listening to bands like Air and singers like Gainsbourg, I don't know. What I do know is that this compilation is fast becoming a precious item in my aural library.

But let's hear some music. Here's Nino Ferrer's Looking For You. Which I am.

Linus
I am pretty sure only a small minority of you have heard or know about Glenmor. To this day he remains a national treasure to all french bretons and for no small reason. Hailed as one of the greatest poets that ever lived there, he ended his professional life receiving accolade after accolade. But that is not why I chose to talk about him here today and why I made this particular album - Cet Amour-là... - the aural recommendation of this month.

When I first listened to it, I was a bit taken aback at the strength of his voice and at the complete bravery of the way he delivered the words of the songs. It's something between singing and poetry recital. But the amazing thing is it works, no matter how high-browed in a beatnik kinda way it may seem at first. Which it can be, at times.

Glenmor is the nom-de-plume of Emile Le Scanf, and it means Earth-Sea in breton. Having traveled a-plenty when he was young, he then decided to dedicate his life to poetry and music. This is just one example of his large output. And I simply love that cover! Listen to the title track and have a great Sunday while you're at it!

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Rufus Wainwright's new album - All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu - is a rare thing in pop music today. A veritable treasure trove of meticulously composed piano songs, it manages to not be repetitive, self-indulgent or vain. It is instead beguiling, wondrous and completely addicting. But not at first. It takes some listening before it all starts to make sense and for all its dormant beauties to come out from within the intricate patterns of the songs. Which is always a good sign, in my book.

According to him, this particular album serves as a sort of sorbet between courses, in which he takes a break from all the heavy instrumentation that sometimes plagues his other previous albums (though I've never minded that...) and goes back to the basics, in this case, the piano-based song (he being a big fan of the instrument and of the opinion that the piano song is the basis of all pop music, going back to the german lieder as a tradition).

I went to see him live last month and the show was great, just him and the piano and it had two very distinct parts. In the first part, he played the whole of the new album! Every single song! Talk about spoiling the fans. Anyway, enough chit-chat, let's hear some music. Here's my favorite: The Dream.

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This new Goldfrapp video is totally bonkers! It's like taking an aerobics video from the 80's and mixing it with some good old black mass and some vampires for good measure! Take a look and see it for yourself!

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I've been meaning to write about this album for so long now that it's almost criminal it took me this long. And it's also criminal that this wonderful hommage to the wonderful yé-yé music that is so in vogue again these days has been so overlooked. Let's try and reassess that, shall we?

This isn't Emmanuelle Seigner's first foray into music but I think it's safe to say that this is her official debut as a force to be reckoned with in the current french musical scene. Practically all the tracks are killers and for me the best thing about it is that you feel as if you're listening to something very familiar even though none of the tracks are covers. And I personally couldn't ask for anything more.

I'm going to leave you with a delicious duet between Seigner and her husband, Mr. Roman Polanski himself. And if you happen to be reminded of another very famous french duet, don't feel bad about it. It's all good. Listen then to Qui êtes-vous?.

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This being a blog about what music I'm currently listening to, I have to make a guilty confession: I've not been 100% truthful to my readers. I explain. I've been obsessing about Tori Amos musical career for almost 20 years now and I've just realized I've yet to write a post about her. So here it is. And I promise to write more posts on her in the future as penitance.

After the last two posts, it only seems fitting that the Amos album I choose to write first about is American Doll Posse, this one being about the many roles women play in the society, while at the same time using five alter egos (the titular Posse) to sing about what was going on in America at the time of its release. The result is a sprawling double-album of 23 tracks that manage to run the full gammit of piano-led ballads to schizophrenic rock extravaganzas. And schizophrenia is the key word here because Amos is able to encompass so many styles and music signatures in the songs contained in this album that sometimes you feel that you're listening to five different albums at the same time.

The end result is an album that pushes our perceptions of what female singer/songwriters should be all about: fearlessly provocative and endlessly talented in her case. I leave you with Big Wheel, the first single that had very limited airplay due to the inclusion of the acronym MILF in the bridge... Just goes to show how far behind we all still are...

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How can you not love an american girl from California whose love of 60's french pop is such that she releases album after album of old yé-yé covers draped in gloriously retro album jackets? It's practically impossible, isn't it? Well, her name is Elinor Blake, more widely known as April March. Delicious, isn't it?

The song I bring you here today has made her famous by being featured in two movie soundtracks but there's definitely much more to discover from this evergreen chanteuse. Of curious note is the fact that she has worked as an animator in some pretty high profile projects, namely Pee-Wee's Playhouse and the opening credits and video for Madonna's Who's That Girl. Pretty good, huh?

But I'm going to leave you with the french version of Chick Habit, the Gainsbourg penned Laisse Tomber Les Filles, made famous by another very well-known chanteuse - France Gall. See you soon!

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To me, it's endlessly amazing how incredibly frenetic and vivacious the Yé-yé scene was. I seem to be able to find a "new" singing girl every month. The amazing thing about that is that the level of quality of the songs is most of the times very high. Infectious pop in all its glory.

Today's fille is one Annie Philippe, which had a brief but nonetheless hit-filled career. She somehow managed to make her mark among much bigger names than her on a market that was over-populated with female singers with arguably better song material than her (yes, I'm talking about Claudine Longet, France Gall and even Zouzou). In fact, her voice register is highly reminiscent of one Ms. Gall and if you're fan of the latter, you're sure to instantly become very fond of the former.

Philippe was very fortunate, though to have one Paul Mauriat as the arranger of most of her songs and this is where most of her appeal lies, as I'm sure that there are plenty of his admirers out there. But enough chatting - listen to one of her greatest hits: C'est La Mode.

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Absolutely adorable video for Duckworth Lewis Method's Neil THE DIVINE COMEDY Hannon and Thomas PUGWASH Walsh. More on this eccentric little project one of these days.

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And speaking of beautiful male voices, here's one that ties the post about The Divine Comedy written below and the next video I shall be posting very soon: Scott Walker and his second solo album, simply titled 2.

I've listened so much to his music and voice that he's almost part of my own DNA. He touches all the right nerves and spots and I really feel transported to a very special place in my mind whenever I listen to one of his songs. This album in particular has a handful of my favorite songs from him but I guess I could've picked any album from the first part of his career (which continues to be the benchmark of the continuous fascination he provoques on audiophiles, although he'd be very mad at these words if he read them, with all the avant-garde records he's been putting out recently) and I wouldn't go wrong.

If you like lushly orchestrated pop ballads sung in the most melifluous of voices, this is the record for you. And I leave you with a masterpiece: Plastic Palace People. Until the next post, be safe.

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I just love it when I listen to a new band or sound and it instantly clicks. That's exactly what it happened with Austin, Texas based band Shearwater. They've recently released a new album but I'm still going through their back catalogue and finding a bounty of reasons to write about each and every one of them in here. Today, I'm focusing on their second album proper, Rooks.

Rooks finds Shearwater perfecting their preciously woven sound with even greater epic sounding songs and wide scope-like musical canvas. And then there is that voice. My God. It's been a long time since I've heard such a crystalline sounding male voice, perfectly in command of the song's emotional curves and thematic arches, frail and delicate one second and brave and commanding the other. I'm hooked.

I'm going to leave you with one of its grander moments, The Snow Leopard. Please enjoy it.

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Something strange happens when The Divine Comedy release a new album. Unknowingly to the impending release, I start listening to their records almost as a compulsion and then when I go to their official website to find out what they've been up to recently, I discover that they are about to put out a new album in the near future. Serendipity, they call it.

This is their last one and its title - Victory for the Comic Muse - is a nod to their very first and quite rare album - Fanfare for the Comic Muse - a quite different and very indie-sounding recording that is very much at odds with their following releases.

Victory (...) sees them return to their comic sensibility at its best, combining satirical lines with british wit and heartfelt lyrics often through the course of a single song. It's a trait that its mastermind, Neil Hannon, has been demonstrating again and again to be his main gift and reason behind the band's success. And noone does it quite like him. His character driven songs woven through exquisitely melodic songs are quite a treasure in today's music scene. Not to mention his amazing voice, seemingly intact since he started his career.

I'm going to leave you with my favorite song of the album, the affecting Lady Of A Certain Age. Brilliant, that's all I have to say.

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I love when musicians get all adventurous and grow tired of mainstream acceptance and go out and make the biggest follies that only the most unique minds are capable of. The funny thing is that this sometimes result in the biggest hits of their career. Welcome then to the new phase of Ms. Newsom's musical journey.

Losing her voice and rising up from the ashes with a triple-album (no less) is no mean feat. To anyone's standard, I'm sure. But that's just what Joanna Newsom did and she's receiving high praises from both the critics and (most importantly) the buying public. And although it's a daunting work when one begins to analyse it (and listen to it...), it becomes quite clear right from the start that this lady is special. And that she cooks with ingredients sagely brewed from the most mysterious sources.

It's quite a journey to listen to this album from beginning to end and some might want to take it in chunks. Or one record at a time. But it's in cases like these that I remember my muse Tori Amos' cunning words: "Listening to a record is like making love; if you can't endure listening to a long record, maybe you cannot make love for that long, either". Listen to Autumn. See you soon.

Autumn
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All good things come in threes... stay tuned...

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Continuing in French Lands of the Weird Instrumentals, this one I bring you here today is essential listening to anyone interested in Gainsbourg and funky imaginary soundtracks. Confused? Don't be.

Jean-Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches (The Child Fly-killer) was recorded during the sessions for Gainsbourg's classic masterpiece, Histoire de Melody Nelson. Vannier being Gainsbourg right-hand man during those historical sessions (he was responsible both for the production and string arrangements), he then went off to make this extremely other-worldly album that is at times innaccessible, bewildering, mesmerizing and polarizing. It's one of those that you have to be in the right mood for it or you'll find it completely bonkers and instantly dismiss it. Which you definitely mustn't.

It's a concept album before concept albums became the "thing" to do and it tells the story of a small child travelling through the Fly Kingdom (concept by Gainsbourg, no less). I'm going to leave you with one of its most accessible tracks: Danse des mouches noires gardes du roi, which roughly translates as Dance of the king's guards' black flies. See you soon.

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And while we're on synthesizer music around here (see below), why not remember a true classic of the genre? And here it is: Jean-Jacques Perrey's Moog Indigo, a trail-blazing work of unlimited fun whenever you put it on.

Perrey started his career by selling Ondioline synthesizers and from there to making albums with another very famous synthesizer - the titular Moog - was a shortcut. Funny thing is, he never intended or pretended to be part of some kind of avant-garde movement with a grand scheme of things. His only goal was to popularize the electronic instrument and let's just say that he did more than alright with it!

I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite tracks from this enormously influencial album (just ask any rap or hip-hop artist about the Moog and you'll get some pretty awkward smiles in return...) and while I'm at it, I'm going to wish you a great week. Listen to E. V. A..

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Goldfrapp are seemingly incapable of making a bad record. Head First marks the fifth time they put out an album that is instantly catchy, addictive and barrier-pushing. What are they on and please can we have it, too?

This time around, they're back in time some 20 odd years and it's synth pop and breathy vocals all the way. 80's galore in full-on mode. And amazingly, it works. I have to confess not being particularly fond of that decade, so it's a bit of a surprise when I find that Head First has become my favorite pop record from the 80's, except that it was recorded last year!

Plus, it has the correct total number of tracks - 9, which is all one can take of hearing synthesizers going bonkers and Casio-like beats. The influences are all there to be seen and they do not try to hide them (thankfully) and it makes the record all the more fun for it. I'm going to leave you with Alive, currently my favorite track from Head First and wish you a great weekend - this is the perfect soundtack for that!

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Camera Obscura's follow-up to the immensely enjoyable Let's Get Out Of This Country finds them again on familiar territory: exploring big soundscapes, keeping in mind the Phil Spector legacy and soothing us with the lead vocalist feminine ramblings on men, love and anything that passes her mind. You don't change a winning team, that's for sure.

My Maudlin Career is a perfectly respectable follow-up to one of the best records of late and, if anything, it even succeeds the impossible: it one-ups it. Maybe the songs are not as easily recognizable this time around but that is just a question of letting them enter your consciousness and soon after, you'll start humming them almost unawarely.

Much like She & Him's recent Volume 2, this album surprises in its unwillingness to change. All they have to offer is more of the same and I, for one, thank them for that. I'm going to leave you with the title track - My Maudlin Career, for those not keeping track... - and wish a great week all around.

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Camera Obscura are at it again: making blissfully perfect pop songs. Enjoy the video.

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This is Emily Bindiger's first and only album on a career that encompassed music, film, TV and stage. Really worth your while, too and a shame that she didn't produce more of this wild, spiritual and brave music.

There hasn't yet been a CD reissue of this, her eponymous album with a cover that is strangely reminiscent of another one I posted here earlier. Bindiger singing and songwriting is very coherent throughout the record, with a voice and melodic style that both reminds us of country and irish traditional music. I guess it must be in her genes or something because she is able to travel back and forth these two musical sources with extreme ease sometimes in the course of a single song.

Take a listen to Jesus Said, a wild journey into religion and spiritual freedom and see what you think.

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And speaking of bands that can be filed under the "Baroque Pop" musical section, here's what's probably the most famous of them all: The Zombies.

But, amazingly, it almost was not to be so. Odessey and Oracle is now considered a pop music classic, filled to the brim with gems of compositional brilliance and highly elaborate arrangements. To think that they had such shortage of money at the time of its recording, they were still able to produce high quality material that still sounds as strong today as it did then. Talk about working on a shoe string! And the fact that their own record company didn't believe in the material they were producing! It just goes to show...

After being rediscovered by a multitude of new fans and being hailed as a "lost" masterpiece, they never stopped. Shame that it took them so long. Oh, well - better late than ever, I suppose. I leave you today with A Rose For Emily. Bye.

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The good thing about music is that no matter how much songs or albums you listen to, there are still thousands upon thousands more to discover. So, I guess it's really up to you to go on a journey that lasts a lifetime, a journey that sooner or later it's going to give you something strange or beautiful (or both) that you'll treasure for years to come. And although today's recommendation isn't earth shattering or genius-like, I'm glad I found them.

The Left Banke were one of many 60's american bands that got together and cut an album or two, only to break-up and disband a few years later. The CD era gave these "lost" bands and their records a second life and being rediscovered was both a blessing to them as to us, because otherwise we wouldn't even know about them if it wasn't for those shiny compact discs. Anyway, but on to the music.

Baroque Pop was a term coined to describe pop music that featured heavy strings arrangements and the use of instruments often associated with that movement, such as the harpsichord. The results are both magical and ethereal and very vintage sounding. The Left Banke were one of many bands that used that particular sound to express their musical sensibilities and after listening to their songs, you get the feeling that suddenly you've tapped into a whole other aural dimension, one filled to the brim with imagery reminding us of old houses, green gardens, dusty books and mossy trees. Just my kind of place, actually. See what you think: here's Pretty Ballerina.

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Their Volume 1 was probably my favorite of all the albums I listened to last year, so it was with extreme anticipation that I awaited She & Him's "difficult" second outing, apropriately titled, Volume 2. Thankfully, that sophomore album curse passed them by, because this is a killer album on all fronts and further proof that Zooey Deschanel is a wonderful songwriter.

This time around, the songs are more ambitious in scope, production values and vocal abilities. It's as if they took the best parts of the first album and what made it so good and expanded on all that. The final results are both winning and enduring. Yes, it's got a bit of sunshine pop, a dash of Beach Boys and a good measure of perfectly crafted pop songs that make you feel like everyday is Summer. This is one album I'm certain I'll keep on listening for a long, long time.

I'm going to leave you with Thieves, the wonderful album opener. Keep happy!

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The perfect song to start the Springtime with a smile in your face! I am so glad that Zooey and Ward are back I can't hardly contain myself!

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Another great compilation of french yé-yé songs, this time focusing on the years between 1968-71 and featuring both female and male singers. Pretty wild stuff in here! And great cover art, too designed by the french Andy Warhol, Guy Peellaert.

One other great thing about this compilation is that all of the tracks were on CD for the first time when this came out. Wonderful public service, don't you think? The music, unsurprisingly, retained the same charm and the same power to affect your senses and move your hips. Oh, and there's plenty of undiscovered gems to get you glued to your computer for hours on end just to know that little bit more about that particular track from that particular artist you just cannot get enough of.

One such example is this, La Drogue, by duo Messieurs Richard de Bordeaux & Daniel Beretta. Fantastic song it is, too. See you soon.

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The world of french yé-yé music is seemingly an inexhaustible source of groovy beats, funky melodies and hip girls. This compilation you see on your left - Swinging Mademoiselles - is only one of many you can find out there and it's as good a starting point into that wonderful world of mini-skirts and bob haircuts as any on the market.

The singer I've decided to highlight today is Arlette Zola, a swiss born chanteuse that had a long string of hits and even tried her luck a couple of times on the Eurovision Song contest, always achieving high final chart positions, though never winning. I'm afraid I'm too young to remember seeing her on that ubiquitous TV show, so I guess I'll have to resource myself to some YouTube searching in order to see her perform live.

I leave you for now with one of her biggest hits, Je Suis Folle De Tant T'Aimer, a brisky but daring sounding little number. Enjoy it.

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