Blog of the Week: La Cantatrice Chauve

La Cantatrice Chauve (“The Bald Soprano”) is a French music blog offering streaming music, downloadable MP3s, the occasional video when available, and vintage flyers, covering mostly French punk and alternative music. The title is a nice play on words for the aging among us. Chauve means bald in French. The Bald Soprano covers French oi, punk, new wave, and hardcore music largely from the ’80s, so if you were around then you may have been bald by choice, and if you are still around now you may be bald by nature — in either case it works. The blog is amusing to read, but unfortunately it is only in French. The blog started in 2008 but appears to in a dormant state since January of this year. Still, the site offers a nice, varied collection of music, reminding us that French music wasn’t always as bad as it is now. I get to say that because, one, it is true, two, I lived the for last four years in France, and three, because I can.

Here are some of the musical highlights from the most recent post alone, and forgive me if the groups are well known… 8°6 Crew brings a straightforward ska number from Vieille, France ( 2nd song in the first music player), and Ausweis offers up Pas Demain (midway through the same post). La Cantatrice Chauve calls Ausweis “cold wave,” and if that classification is too granular for you, think Killing Joke, and think very good. And at the player at the bottom at that post, check out Métal Urbain: fuzzy guitars, gravelly voice, and drum machine, well ahead of their time. MKB also offers their disk Feu in its entirety on the site — deconstructed music, confrontational lyrics, highly dramatic, ils prennent la tête I must say, but they are French after all.

There is a lot of good but fairly standard French ’80s punk, oi, and hardcore, so if that is your thing, get the right click button on your mouse ready for a download-fest. Most, I would dare say, you haven’t heard before. The real interest in this blog though, is its extensive collection of vaguely punk music that lived around the perimeter of those standard styles, and it is in that music you can really hear a distinctly French influence, whether it is the jazzy influence of Serge Gainsbourg, the witty vocals influence of Jacques Dutronc, or the aloof cooler-than-thou vocal delivery. If you like new wave, no wave, experimental, or early industrial, you can find some real gems here.

— Owen Peery

And, what the hell — here’s a bonus video from the great Métal Urbain: