The No-Talents – “The No-Talents” (1996 / 2014)

notalents2France’s The No-Talents played pure, old-school garage punk.  No frills here.  Hit it hard, hit it fast, and on to the next track.  The 2014 re-release of their 1996 debut includes 17 tracks, only one of which runs longer than two minutes, and that one is a cheetah-ilke 2:01.  The recording is intentionally lo-fi, sounding very much like it was recorded in someone’s basement in one take, but it’s still good enough to be listenable and enjoyable.

About a half dozen of the songs are covers, but most are pretty obscure with the exception of Black Flag’s “Wasted”.  However, The No-Talents picked wisely because the overall flow of the record is never broken.  It’s super-fast rock ‘n’ roll with an attitude, no sugar added.

Muckrackers – “Muckrackers Versus La Fensch Valley Industrial All Star – La Destruction Est Aussi Création” (2012)

If this post was a tweet, I may not have had enough characters to post the artist name and album title at the same time.  Plus this 10″ allegedly has 20 tracks on it.

muckrackers

Frankly I have no idea what’s going on here.  I found this in the Industrial section of Paris’ Souffle Continu record shop, one of Buzzfeed’s “27 Breathtaking Record Stores You Have to Shop at Before You Die,” which is a bold assertion.  While it wasn’t my favorite of the shops we visited in Paris it had the broadest range of material, including books about music, and that gets a lot of points in my book.  The other shops we hit up were genre-specific, which can be great or horrible, depending on how you feel about that genre in question.

Side A is all Muckrackers, while Side B has 10 different bands on it, which is a lot for a 10″.  The A side is heavily industrial, and while much of the B side is as well, but given that there are different bands involved you get some variance.

Given how short the tracks are it’s all a bit disjointed, which is OK, but not great.  I feel like there are some amazing song segments here, just maybe not fully realized tracks.  The record comes with a DVD as well, which I have admittedly not watched yet and will likely misplace since I don’t keep my DVDs with my records.  Which is pretty industrial of me, maybe, kinda.  Or not.

Update – December 24, 2015:  I traded some emails with Emmanuel from Muckrackers and he’s a cool dude who is very passionate about his music and the challenges the people of the Lorraine are facing as industrial jobs disappear.  He also sent me the link tot he website that was created as part of their project, which includes a lot of music from this record.  You can check it out HERE.  Hearing from artists is one of the great things about writing Life in the Vinyl Lane – they’re all so passionate about their projects, and they just want people the hear their music.  So if you’re down with industrial, go check out some Muckrackers!

“French Synth Lovers #2” Compilation (2015)

frenchsynthlovers2Syncrophone is a great little house/techno record shop located in what I believe is the 11th arrondissement in Paris, France.  We visited there a couple of weeks ago and found it to be a fantastic spot, a compact store outfitted with a number of turntable listening stations, a ton of display racks along the walls, and a very friendly guy working behind the counter.  We came away with three records from that stop-off, including this newly released nugget called French Synth Lovers #2, a comp comprised of 10 songs from the 1981 to 1984 period.  We’d enjoyed the BIPPP French synth comp so much that this one was a no brainer.

I liked this record right from the start of the first track, Siflèt’s “Rodger,” with it’s minimal synth sound and female vocals.  A quick review of Discogs seems to reveal that most of these artists released little to no material back when they were active, with the exceptions of the extremely prolific Benoit Hutin and Serge Blenner, who look to have both put out a ton of stuff over the years.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about French Synth Lovers #2 is the number of songs with female vocals.  Three of the six songs on side A have ladies on the microphone, which may not sound like a ton, but consider that two of the other three tracks are instrumentals (there are actually quite a few instrumental tracks on this record).  So there’s that.  I love the way women sound on new wave songs, and while these may be closer to no wave than new wave, it’s a breath of fresh air.

The music is so sparsely simple and deliberate, with an almost 8-bit chip-tuney feel to it and vocal stylings to match that remind me a little of 80s J-pop (or, more precisely, what I imagine 1980s J-pop to sound like…), perhaps most awesomely so on Malvina Melville’s “Fille Cosmopolite.”  It’s near perfection in style.  If you love 1980s synth pop like we do, French Synth Lovers #2 is a whole lot of fun.  Who knows, you might even dance around the room a little while it’s playing.  I’m not saying I did or anything.  But it could happen.  It could.

Acid Arab – “Djazirat El Maghreb” (2015)

acidarabI saw this relatively new release by Acid Arab on the display wall at Paris’ Syncrophone Records a few weeks back.  Holly told me our friend Matt had recently been talking about them because earlier this year they played a festival he attended in Poland, and that was enough reason for me to grab a copy since I’m almost totally out of my element in a techno store.  Turns out this duo is actually from Paris, though their music has a decidedly “Eastern” flavor to it.

We have a few other “Eastern” style electronic albums from Omar Souleyman and Islam Chipsy, but for the most part that’s about it, though that’s enough for me to know that I like it.  It’s the B side where that exotic feel comes to the forefront, with the instrumental playing on “Hafla” giving the entire thing the feel of a Middle Eastern bazaar – I can almost smell the spices, the feel of the heat in the air, and the frenetic pace.  The other B side track, “Amal,” comes at you from a different angle, with a more Persian style of percussion dominating the track making one envision whirling dervishes…

Is the sound true to the region, or is it stereotypical and thus just sounds so to my Western ears?  I can’t be sure.  But I know I like what little I’ve heard of it so far, from Acid Arab and others.  And it might be enough to prompt me to look just a little bit deeper, which is always a good thing.

Record Shopping – Paris, France Style

Bounjour de Paris!

The Life in the Vinyl Lane crew is headed to Reykjavik for next week’s Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, our seventh consecutive year attending.  Since it’s such a long trip to begin with, we figured we’d take advantage of the fact that we were already basically going to be in Europe (though to be fair, Iceland hardly feels like Europe… it just feels like Iceland) and tacked on a few days in Paris on the way.  So after a quick 45 minute layover in Reykjavik, which was just enough time to pick up a box of the magical elixir called kókómjólk that is so good that it must be made by elves and sprinkled with fairy dust, we continued on our way to France.  And since I’m me I made it a point of hitting up a few record shops while we’re here.  Vinyl culture is alive and well in the City of Lights.

Techno Import
16 Rue des Taillandiers

technoimportparis

The techno scene is kickin’ in Paris.  Not only is it being played all over town in various stores and restaurants, but the city also boasts a number of techno-only specialty record stores.  The first we visited was Techno Import, which offered both vinyl and a full line of seemingly very nice DJ equipment – pretty much everything you need to host your own underground party, other than the glow sticks.  Not only that, but instead of a normal record store listening station, they had some dual-turnbable/mixer set-ups so you could see how a pair of records would mix.  The entire time we were there a woman was flat out grooving to whatever she had spinning on the wheels of steel, and she looked pretty happy about it.  The selection appears to be super deep and broken out by various sub genres.

I don’t know much about techno and its various sub (and sub-sub-sub) genres, but I know that in general I like it, so I picked up a few random things including a newly released 12″ from what I believe is a French “group” called Prospector, a double album by Eduardo de la Calle called The Intellinet Prophecy, and, believe it or not, a picture disc with an outline of Iceland on it called, appropriately, Iceland.  Certainly the Icelandic imagery is what initially caught my attention, but what fully sold me was seeing that the B side included a Gusgus remix of this Marc Romboy original.  Sold.  Techno Import is a winner.

Syncrophone
4-6 Rue des Taillandiers

syncrophoneparis

Just a few blocks up the street from Techno Import is Syncrophone, another shop specializing in techno.  A bit of a smaller shop, but packed full of cool stuff including two display walls.  They had multiple listening stations, though I don’t think they had a full DJ set-up like Techno Import did.  I tried to stick with some local French stuff, so with that in mind I picked out a double-comp by Pont Neuf Records entitled Habemus Paname as well as comp of 1980s synth dreaminess called French Synth Lovers #2.  I also added a copy of Acid Arab’s Djazirat el Maghreb because our friend Matt recently saw them at a festival in Poland and had some positive things to say.  Overall two thumbs up.  Unless you don’t like techno, in which case you’ll be able to save your Euros for our next stop…

Souffle Continu
20-22 Rue Gerbier

soufflecontinu

Back in 2013 Buzzfeed posted a list that got the vinyl community all excited not-so-concisely entitled “27 Breathtaking Record Stores You Have To Shop At Before You Die.”  Now, I have no idea how contributor Maria Sherman came up with this list, but it certainly got people talking.  That being said, prior to this trip I’d made it to seven of the 27 (we looked for Elastic Witch on our recent trip to Dublin, but I think it’s no longer open) and found most of them to be really good shops – nice, well organized indie record stores.  Yesterday I was able to mark an eighth store off the list when we stopped by Souffle Continu, a modest sized shop with a fairly broad and interesting selection of vinyl.  Because I need to save ample room in my record back for the riches that await me in Reykjavik, I didn’t want to go crazy here, but I did find a cool French industrial 10″ by Muckrackers called Muckrackers Versus La Fensch Valley Industrial All Star.  I was tempted to pick up a book or two from their strong selection of titles, because I have a lot of music books in languages other than English, but again space constraints made me take a more conservative approach.  A nice spot to check out if you’re in town.

Virgin Megastore
51-60, Av. des Champs-Elysees *Closed*

virginmegastoreparis

We’re staying only a short walk from he world-famous Champs-Elysees and figured we’d stroll it on Sunday night after dinner and hit up the Virgin Megastore since it was supposed to be open until 10PM.  But it was Megaclosed, and in a seemingly very Megapermanent way, since it looked the same both times we walked past it on Monday too.  Not a big deal, really, but it would have been cool to see if we could find some CDs.  So we got iced lattes instead and called it a night, which seemed a lot like winning to both of us.

 

We ran across records in the stalls of a few sidewalk vendors, as well as an outdoor flea market we randomly encountered, but I didn’t bother with these.  There are plenty of other shops in Paris as well, but our time was limited.  That being said, I think we picked out three very good ones, and all three get my recommendation should you find yourself in Paris.