» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Nouvelle Vague
Nouvelle Vague
Luaka Bop Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

August 23, 2005
I've always had a thing for cover songs. I appreciate when a band pays tribute to an artist they've been influenced by. Occasionally, a cover song turns out better than the original (Matt Pond PA's version of "Holiday Road," for example) while some are far worse (Postal Service "Against All Odds," anyone?) but it's nice to see where a band is coming from and how they began.

Nouvelle Vague (French for "new wave") is a cover band. Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux are the two French musicians behind the band. Collin began making soundtracks and dance club songs, while Libaux is a pop song writer/performer. The two of them got together to pay tribute to songs that influenced their songwriting, but do it in a style all their own. They compiled a bunch of works from the early eighties and perform them in a jazzy, bossa nova style, and for the most part, it works.

Since neither artist fancies themselves a singer, they asked a number of popular French female singers to join them in the studio. They said it was important to them that the singer not be familiar with the original version of each song, so that they could each, truly, make it their own. It is an interesting approach, and at times, it succeeds.

The album begins with the Joy Division classic, "Love Will Tear Us Apart". They take this song from the gothic alley where it was created and breathe sexy, bossa nova life into it. Rumor around town is that this song has already appeared on Starbucks compilations; it does fit, as it is a caffeinated summertime love song, but the buzz only gets more bizarre as the album continues. Dead Kennedy's "Too Drunk To Fuck" is a bit unexpected, but it's played off like a walk-of-shame romp. It's giggly and boozed up; a fun take on late night, high-tempo jazz - it feels sorry for itself but stays upbeat.

The highlight of the album is their version of the Clash classic, "Guns of Brixton". The sexed-up whisper of a chain-smoking woman lamenting about a power struggle of class war is like nothing I've ever heard before. The use of bells adds to the surreal texture of the song; it's sexy and mysterious, just the way the Clash intended… oh wait, no they didn't. But still, it works.

Another unique song they cover is "Friday Night, Saturday Morning" by the Specials. The song closes the album and envisions a gloomy spring night through the eyes a woman who feels sorry about the way her life has turned out. She doesn't want to party on the weekends any longer; she'd rather sing beautiful, dreamy pop songs, and does so here.

As an album of cover songs, everything works. The big complaint is that the smooth jazz style gets old halfway through. It's great to play for friends to see the recognition hit their face when they realize what song is being played (and played so unlike the original), but it's not something that will continue to be enjoyed indefinitely, which sets it far from the staying power of the originals covered here.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig



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