Tone Deaf Records

New - Les Calamites - Encore! 1988-1987 - LP

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LP version. Includes eight-page booklet and download code. Wouldn't it do them justice to rid Les Calamités (literally "the calamities") of the embarrassing phrase "girl band", durably stuck to their skins and plaited skirts? It's nothing but a pink puffy cloud obscuring their true importance as a "band" full stop, as well as their fleeting though mind-bending trajectory. In just a few months going on stage with a handful of original songs recorded here and there, they became, from Dijon to Rouen, Paris to Toulouse, Bordeaux to Strasbourg, the darlings of an uncompromising rockers' demanding scene. Tolerated by some, maybe, they were also consecrated, certainly (should they have needed the accolade). The trade-off was a succession of quick and distinctive verse-choruses for which the adjectives "fresh" and "light" seemed to have been invented again. They delivered just as many covers, which gave an idea of the origins of their songwriting: one foot in the fifties (on the dancefloor), the other in the sixties (in the garage). All of this leading to their final hit, a successful incursion in the top sales with a popular song for everyone to hum at ease, from seaside campsites to the cool kids of the capital. Everything the Calamités touched, with their classy, rigorous, casual ways -- plus just enough amused detachment -- turned into gold. Small-scale, three-voice anthems sung with a style given both by arrogant innocence and cheeky ease. Without playing the cards naturally assigned to girls (sexy attitude, feminist clichés, dilettante groupism) they managed to combine a pop teen spirit with a shameless rock n' roll energy. The Calamités were however and at once, one step behind -- some kind of '50s-60s classicism -- and one ahead thanks to their writing talent and French lyrics. They lived in Beaune, Burgundy, and do so mostly uneventfully. It's the early '80s. One thing leading to another, with a repertoire made up of just as many covers as personal compositions, they find a drummer after trying many, fire up local, then national venues, befriend the Dogs and other rock n' roll bands and recorded an album, À bride abattue, for the label New Rose. Coveted by fanzines, then approached by the magazines Best and Rock & Folk, they also appear on regional then national television, from Les Enfants du Rock all the way to Platine 45 with Jacky. When all the doors seem wide open, they choose to focus on the end of their studies instead. Caroline definitely moves on, while Odile and Isabelle push things just a bit further and treat themselves to a hit that easily makes its way into the Top 50: the famous "Vélomoteur", fan-produced by Daniel Chenevez -- one-half of the successful duo Niagara and a savvy producer.