Saturday, June 29, 2013

Chic Gamine - Closer



It has been a long time since a girl band attracted my attention for their music and not just for their sexy looks.  Recently, however, I listened to Chic Gamine's U.S. debut album.  Four Canadian ladies, singers Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne, Annick Bremault, Alexa Dirks, with drummer Sacha Daoud, called in a plethora of session players, both male and female, to support the performance of their original songs. Chic Gamine, loosely translated from the French, means "stylish, mischievous young thing."  After a row through the new album, titled Closer, I can attest that the name aptly describes the band.

The ladies create an unusual soft jazzy bluesy pop rock vibe that is streaked with 1960's girl band nostalgia. By combining Motown and French pop sounds Chic Gamine has created its own "stylish, mischievous young thing."  Four part songs with four part harmonies.  Who does that anymore?  It works because these girls have great voices and write incredibly catchy tunes.  The orchestration is exacting, but sparse, yet, perfect for Chic Gamine's style.  Echoes of Amy Winehouse, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles and The Staples Singers can be heard in many of their compositions.

Pop music isn't usually associated with taking musical gambles. Yet, that is what Chic Gamine is able to do with the genre. For example, ordinarily a band will not write a song with the same name and catchphrase as an American Jazz Standard for fear of immediate confusion and unfair comparison.  Chic Gamine gets away with it on "Paper Moon" because their voices are so enticing and the lyrics and arrangement so memorable. 

The band pushes the album with the song "Days and Days," a piece that has sonic palette similarity to K.T. Tunstall's "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree."  However, for me, it is the least satisfying work on the album because it sounds so derivative.  Still, it is a beautiful song beautifully delivered.

Chic Gamine's music reminds me of a cute, sassy, flirtatious woman playing hard to get.  There is an attractive sensuous excitement to it - like mutual attraction at first sight.  It may not immediately be love, but, you just can't take your eyes, or in this case, ears, off of her.  It is that little bit of naughtiness that keeps you coming back.

The group sang at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, toured with Marc Broussard and received a Juno Award.  With Closer they seek to garner a U.S. audience.  While the music may remind you of a hard to get girl, the album is easy to find.  Just go to their website at www.chicgamine.com.  It will cost you less than a Starbuck's date and, once paid for, will be yours forever.

- Old School





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