Today marks the tenth installment of Hugs and Kisses, a weekly Sound of the City column from UK-based music writer Mr. Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press) — one more fucking book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties — and publisher of Plan B Magazine, a title dedicated to writing about music (and media) with barely a nod towards demographics.
A little background for all the younguns. True is the guy who gets “credited” with introducing Kurt to Courtney — so he was, like, there way back when. And while he’s famous/infamous for all sorts of shit, he’s spent the last nine weeks here at our strange little music blog teaching us about stuff like anti-folk (UK), the meticulous German independent label Trikont, Stolen Recordings, and Monster Bobby’s solo work.
And so here is Hugs and Kisses #10, our favorite one so far. If you don’t already know about Le Club Des Chats and French Glue Wave, get acquainted. Cats in cartoon eye patches and silly parachutes, illustrating the adorable hilarity of a 21st century Kleenex or a Parisian Kiiiiii — need we say more? We’ll let Everett.
Hugs and Kisses
The Outbursts of Everett True
This week: French Glue Wave
French band Le Club Des Chats like cats. They do not like dogs. They think dogs are villainous beasts, uncouth, unkempt, unwanted… I’m kinda assuming here, but one would think it a fairly safe bet, from the name of their French label, Le Vilain Chain. Le Club Des Chats do like, however, meowing and squealing and sharp, staccato music that leaps up and down — rickety and patchy and plaintive — like that gallant all-female Swiss band of old, Kleenex. Now, this is a plus: a major plus. When we first played Des Chats’ “Pump Up The Seed!” seven-inch EP in the Plan B offices, our editor Frances Morgan, who hitherto had been having a terrible morning, burst into incredulous laughter at the sound of their kid’s drum kit and cursory guitar lines… and the added ducks. But it was awed, incredulous laughter.
Clearly, Des Chats are not serious (and they’re not really cats, either) but the thing is… the music is awesome. The Kleenex comparison isn’t thrown in randomly: many post-Chicks On Speed bands have been compared to this outfit, particularly if they’re 1) female; 2) play short bursts of rudimentary pop music; and 3) yelp spiritedly, but not one ever really managed to capture the fundamental absurdist spirit of Liliput/Kleenex, not one. I love Erase Errata, I love Numbers… but this ain’t what I’m talking about here. Les Club Des Chats number two (or maybe three), play surrounded by balloons and have lyrics like “He sniffs the clippers/And he stinks like caravan”. It’s fresh, trust me. Hey, wait! Does anyone even read this fucking column? Sign them up now!
So, anyhow… I drop my dog-hating Continental cousins an e-mail, imploring them to send me more oddball seven-inch music — and bless them, but they send me the chain-smoking Le Chevalier De Rinchy, whose 30 (or more)-track seven-inch “Mes Plus Belles Chansons D’Amour” comes across as an arrogantly arch Serge Gainsbourg fan messing with The Residents’ one-minute song Commercial Album blueprint, only even more fractured and baroque: a few bars start up, stop; a few bars of something else entirely start up, stop; and so on. It’s done very straight-faced and reminds me of Plunderphonics gone medieval, or deadpan genius cranky dead Scots poet Ivor Cutler reduced to bare essence — and it’s only weird if your imagination can’t stretch past “unusual,” but nonetheless it’s a pure delight to have turn up unexpected, chivvying for moustache space with a club of dog-hating cats; and it’s in stereo, too! And even finer: it’s in French and they’re clearly having a joke at our dunderheaded English expense, in an inscrutably Gallic way.
The final seven-inch — this one, rather disappointingly, comes with a centre (the other two sport jukebox holes) — is from the Teenage Jesus and the Jerks-loving Laurence Wasser. But hey, I totally love Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, too; so that’s ok, we can be friends and everything, and I bet he digs James Chance’s Contortions too, and we can meet at parties and never be stuck for conversation, assuming we can get past the language barrier, and discuss quite why brusque punk-disco is so sexy, even after all these years, even when it comes packaged on riotously thin warped vinyl, and is given titles like “Der Lift” and ‘Die Frogg.’ I mean, this one, really does sound like all those angry young American post-Chicks On Speed bands like XBXRX only 4 REAL, no disrespect to anyone intended because I love all those angry young American post-Chicks On Speed bands, I really do; and even more, it reminds me of terribly serious, terribly frantic, chafing, modernistic and frenzied early Eighties art house band Big Flame, of whom you can watch a video on YouTube with my good self dancing down the front.
They call this music the French Glue Wave. I like it.
HUGS AND KISSES TOP 5
Reissues lying round on my desk
1. DIANA DORS, “Crazy He Calls Me” (from the Sanctuary Records album Swingin’ Dors)
From 1960: Britain’s own ‘blonde bombshell’ (Fifties style) swings like Frank Sinatra and sings lasciviously like Doris Day. Not like Ms Day at all, then.
2. JOHNNY CASH, “Thanks A Lot” (from the Charly album Original Sun Sound Of Johnny Cash/All Aboard The Blue Train)
It’s Johnny Cash on Sun records! What’s not to like? From 1964.
3. DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS, “Plan B” (from the Mercury album Too-Rye-Ay deluxe edition)
The song that inspired the finest music magazine in Britain: the bonus disc comes replete with an incredible 1982 live concert.
4. ELVIS COSTELLO, “New Lace Sleeves” (from the Universal album Trust)
It’s Elvis! What’s not to like?
5. CRANES, “Dada 331” (from the Cherry Red album Wings Of Joy)
Gothic has rarely sounded so chilling, so empty, so intense.