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Les Sans Culottes



Here's a band so committed to its gimmick, it's ceased to be a gimmick, it's become a way of life. It helps too that the gimmick in question is executed with exuberantly sleazy joie de vivre. Said gimmick/way of life is that Les Sans Culottes are an hyper-kitschy homage to/parody of '60s French pop music. Serge Gainsbourg's lecherous sneer, Brigitte Bardot's criminally short skirts, Françoise Hardy's hearthside romance, it's all here. If you've got a taste for modish ye-ye fashions, day-glo garage bounce, and more unseemly sexual insinuations than you can shake a stick at, then this here's your bag.

They're bunch of New Yorkers, by the way. How's that for pomo irony? From their very name -- the sans-culottes, or "men without fancy breeches," were the "ill-clad and ill-equipped volunteers of the French Revolutionary army" -- these mischief makers have dived into the high camp of their music without looking back. They're so into it, from the fuzzed out guitars and psychedelic electric organs to chaunteuse Céline Dijon's sex-kittenish soprano and chaunteur Clermont Ferrand's knowing growl (even their English lyrics are delivered with cheap French accents), right on down to their absurd assumed names, you may fear for their sanity. Pretty soon, though, the infectious rhythms and come-hither vocals will erase from your mind all questions of where these crazy kids came up with this goofy shtick. And hey, they think they're the real thing, so why shouldn't you too?!

LSC have recorded three albums and a couple of singles. In 2001, the group issued the delightful The Ennui & the Ecstasy on their own Escargo-go Records, a terrific blend of spunky cabaret-flavored '60s garage and fizzy cosmopolitan pop marked by deliciously arch, spittle-flecked vocals in French and comically French-accented vocals. It serves as a kind of precursor to the group's third LP, Faux Realism, released in 2002 on Los Angeles-based Aeronaut Records, which features a few tracks from The Ennui & the Ecstasy, a handful of new cuts long on both rhythm and attitude, and even a remix of their 2001 single "Funky Periferique." Les Sans Culottes are leading the roque & roll revolution, so slide into some two-tones and get ready to do some shimmying.

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