Chainsaw Funny Feast LP

Collecting songs recorded between 1998 and 2002, Funny Feast reissues the (complete?) works of France’s CHAINSAW. Featuring original DOGS frontman Dominique Laboube as well as members of the VERMINES, this record showcases a reunion of sorts of these Rouen punk veterans. With a musical style that sways back and forth between earnest, old school Motor City-style rock’n’roll and a sort of unpolished power pop, CHAINSAW’s soulful, heavy, and garage-y sound was built on nostalgia. Influences of the STOOGES and NEW YORK DOLLS are apparent, and at times the singer reminds me of a French version of 1980s Iggy in his delivery. Once in a while some DEAD BOYS mojo surfaces, like on the lead track from the band’s 2000 EP Godzilla’s Got a New Toy, and they close out the album with a trio of solid RAMONES covers. It’s a love letter to the ’70s delivered through a distinctly ’90s lens, and these fifteen unabashed retro-rockers will surely appeal to proto-punk perverts around the globe.

Garage Psychiatrique Suburbain Demos 1981–1982 LP

I gotta admit that my knowledge of first-wave Euro-punk is pretty limited. I know big acts like METAL URBAIN, or KBD-mainstays like the KIDS, HUBBLE BUBBLE, PACK, etc. And I’ll pick up the odd compilation of, say, Dutch punk or French fake punk when they come out, but I’ve never really gone deeper than that. So, it’s no surprise that I’d never heard of this act, who formed in the suburbs of Paris back in 1977 and played together until the late ’80s. But I’d be shocked if I was alone, at least among our (non-Francophile) American readers. Discogs prices on their first few Underdog records—the release that the final versions of these demos would end up on—suggest that they were pressed in pretty big quantities, which, along with the existence of this compilation, seems to suggest that these guys were hardly obscure, at least in France. But I’m not seeing much evidence that these really made it over to the US. It’s a little strange to get your first taste of an act via a demo compilation, but I still got a sense of what the band was about and I actually preferred the rougher demo cuts to the slicker versions that ended up on their records. The ten tracks on here are a mix of ’77 punk and poppy glam, bordering on bubblegum punk—I’d peg their sound somewhere among the CLASH, NEW YORK DOLLS, and PLASTIC BERTRAND. I prefer the poppier tracks—they’re definitely more memorable. “Quan Revient L’été” is a legit hit, and  I think RANCID stole their slow-jam schtick from “Peut-être à Jamais.” Also, it seems their guitarist/vocalist Tom Darnal led a pretty interesting life. After this band, he joined MANO NEGRA (an act that was pretty big in Europe), then moved to the US to become a tattoo artist but also spent a bunch of time in Cuba, which led to him forming a salsa drum and bass band. Wild! Anyway, this is worth a listen!

Gino and the Sharks Just a Few Stitches EP

We’ve got another unearthed “classic” on our hands. But at least this one has a cool backstory! Gérard Mosiniak, aka Gino, grew up in a small mining town in the north of France. His grandmother helped him develop a passion for cooking, which led to him taking up an apprenticeship at a Michelin star restaurant. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, he became enamored with rock’n’roll via LITTLE RICHARD records and the local clubs, which would feature acts like the KINKS and JIMI HENDRIX. It became his second calling, and he vowed to one day sing in a rock band. In 1971, he learned that Keith Richards had recently moved to a villa on the French Riviera and was looking for a chef. Gino got an interview and won over Richards with his cool hippie style. As their live-in chef, he hobnobs with all sorts of famous music folks and eventually uses his ties to Keith to get a gig as a DJ in one of the hottest clubs in Cannes. While there, he falls in love with a Londonite, whom he follows back to England with hopes of making progress on his dream of fronting a rock band. To make ends meet, he gets a job selling souvenirs on Carnaby Street alongside a musician named Neil who’d also moved to London in the hopes of starting a band. Unfortunately, the two are unable to help each other due to a difference in genre preferences. Neil was looking to play stuff that’s a little heavier and a little more technical. Things work out for Neil, though—he moves back to Canada and ultimately hooks up with the band RUSH! Gino gets a job managing the now-famous Great Frog jewelry shop, where he meets plenty of musicians looking to get some sick skull rings, including Lemmy from MOTÖRHEAD, who gives him the advice he needs to start a band, and he eventually recruits the SHARKS, including drummer Pedro Ortiz, who’d go on to play with JOHNNY THUNDERS and DAVID BOWIE. They recorded this three-song EP in 1978, and it was supposed to come out on Stiff Records until their manager picked a fight with the label, and the record was shelved until now. The music is fine…maybe leaning good. It’s pretty typical stuff for first-wave UK punk—dumbed-down, recycled rock riffs that are glammed up a bit—but it’s a little rough around the edges and Gino’s broken English lends the record a bit of a KBD vibe. It’s nothing to get too excited about, but wow, what a story!

Justifié X Paris S’ennuie EP reissue

Self-released back in 1983, this killer punk en français gets the reissue treatment with an extra cut added on. Despite the prime hardcore year of its provenance, JUSTIFIÉ X has more in common with first-wave French punkers like DOGS and GASOLINE. “Radio Libre” wasn’t on the original single, but it was recorded during the same session and fits in seamlessly. If this had come out in 1978, it would have ended up on more than a few want lists. But in the here and now, it just reveals how timeless this kind of rock’n’roll really is.

Les Lou’s Wild Fire 12″

If you dwell in obscure femme-punk circles, there’s a good chance you’ve heard “Take a Ride” by the QUESTIONS—a wildly catchy, almost BUZZCOCKS-ish punky power pop (or poppy power punk?) bop, the song was never officially released, but gets regularly excerpted from a cult 1979 film called La Brune et Moi whose loose narrative (buttoned-up businessman falls in love with an aspiring punk singer) was basically used to stitch together “live” performances from a host of early French punk/new wave acts. The QUESTIONS were actually LES LOU’S, the first all-female punk band in France (two male friends filled in on drums and lead guitar for their film appearance after their original drummer split)—they started out in 1977, quickly landed on tours with the likes of the CLASH, RICHARD HELL, and SUBWAY SECT, but only managed two 1978 comp contributions as their recorded output before falling apart the following year.​​ This four-song archival 12″ clears out the LES LOU’S vault with both of those previously released tracks (a live cover of the SEEDS’ “No Escape” and studio cut “Back in the Street”), plus “Take a Ride” (pulled directly from La Brune et Moi yet again, complete with incidental background sounds!) and the unreleased live track “Wild Fire.” Like fellow French first-wavers MARIE ET LES GARÇONS, LES LOU’S’ minimally-chorded rock’n’roll rave-ups circle back to the VELVET UNDERGROUND/MODERN LOVERS model, with just enough leather-jacketed raw power to push it into punk; Francophone girls occupying their own private ’77 CBGBs. The rest of their recovered offerings might be far from lost classics, but “Take a Ride” is still unquestionably (no pun intended) a stroke of minor genius however it’s presented. 

Les YSS Boys A Funny Story EP

This EP takes the two 45s issued in the mid-’60s by this Congolese beat group and combines them into one smasher of a record. Like a well-curated sampler, you’ve got a little taste of everything on this platter. “A Funny Story” piles on the guitar fuzz and hair-raising screams and booty-shaking bass and just sounds like it’s got a permanent hotfoot. “For Ever” is almost like a lament, but it’s funky as hell. The drums are urging you to dance them blues away and the band chugs along as encouragement. “Langston Hughes” pays tribute to one of America’s greatest poets with more irrepressible rhythms, well-tempered fuzz and a fair share of JAMES BROWN-esque grunts. “Nobody Would Change My Mind” declares its love for a missing paramour and we can only hope they found each other again in the ensuing decades.

The Monarchs Can’t Stand Your Lies EP

From France, these garage rockers deliver a pleasing version of ’60s rock that is heavy on the psychedelia with a definite twist of mod. Honestly, all four cuts sound like they could have come from a Back From the Grave or Nuggets compilation. Mid-tempo throughout, you’ll be left feeling groovy. Can somebody pass me the bong and turn off that goddamn lava lamp?!

V/A Thesaurus, Vol. 5 2xLP

The fifth installment in the Thesaurus series, which presents a cross-section of what was happening in punk/punk-adjacent spheres in France from ’78—’86. Focusing on punk, post-punk, garage, and coldwave, the material ranges from bands like RAVACHOL and ACTEURS who play dark, synth-heavy punk in true Killed By Deathrock fashion, to COCKPIT, who sound like the FEELIES collaborating with the NORMAL, to SURPRISE’s manic No Wave noise with spiky guitars and elephant-like sax interludes. Still others, like STRIDEUR, fall somewhere between JACQUES DUTRONC and the CRAMPS with keyboards. There are 25 songs on this double album, and though there is variety, there are some throughlines. A lot of the songs are pretty synth-heavy. There are loads of strange guitar sounds and other cool noise shit that could be filed under “experimental.” Not much straight up ’77 punk, but that’s not really what the French are known for anyway. Comps like this can be a gamble, but I would recommend this one (if you are able to snag an affordable copy)—it’s a period piece with a lot to say, and a chance to get familiar with some of France’s more obscure artists.

V/A Thesaurus, Vol. 6: Panorama Punk Rock France 1982–1984 2xLP

If you haven’t gotten hip to Cameleon’s series of Thesaurus comps yet, there’s no time like right fucking now to rectify this grave oversight. The kingdom of heaven is within your reach! Your golden ticket is nearly 90 minutes of world-beating punk rock contained herein, slathered thick and heavy across four sides of wax. (Will this be the only culinary reference? Stay tuned.) The hit ratio over the course of these 34 songs is shockingly high, with almost nothing dipping below “fairly sick.” Who knew France’s punk bench was so deep? I mean, sure, there’s some classic early ragers and a couple of game-change type bands that pop up, but this particular installment covers the early-to-mid-’80s, so we’re wandering into uncharted territory. This era, of course, is prime time for hardcore, but the styles presented here cover the gamut. Just a smidgen of the greatness contained within includes: CRISE DE NERF uncannily predict PUSSY GALORE’s dented tin can approach to punk, even ANGRY RATS won’t survive these “New Clear Days” so they rage against the dying of the light, while MOPO MOGO advise you to “Fuck Off.” HUMAN BEING sounds righteously disgusted, much as ELECTRONAZE are full of piss, vinegar, and probably smoke 100 cigarettes a day. OMG ain’t text speak, heathens, but they are deadly punks whipping a drum machine and feedback guitar into a frenzy, while ELECTRODES play fast, urgent punk that reimagines DISCHARGE as a garage band. Speaking of garage rock, VONN’s “Bubble Gum” should have been an international hit. I dare you to remain still while this chewy little bastard plays! There are quality CLASH rips from HEROS and BRIGADES, killer rock‘n’roll rave-ups from BALL’S and TED DESTROYER, weird punk from KARNAGE on “The Cops Are Coming,” and it just keeps going. You might be able to dig up a lot of these gems if you spent a couple years in France, rummaging through every record store and thrift shop in the country. Or, you could just pick up this—excusez mon français—fucking awesome compilation.


From appearances, I thought I had another French D-beat compilation on my hands, but I stand corrected! While still French, the four bands presented here (KARNAGE, OMG, STAKANOV, and MEMORIAL VOICE) all seem to glean influence from the immortal METAL URBAIN, copping their harsh guitars, haywire drum machines, and venomous vocal attack. If you’re a Francophilic punk who has already already worn through your copies of the BIPPP or Paink comps, this will probably be worth your while.