By: Jessica Grose
The United States considers itself an omnipotent entity: We're always waving our big guns around, flaunting our cultural invincibility. Even though we can blow all those other pansy countries out of the water, we sure do seem to spend a lot of time worrying about a measly little part of the EU: France. Whether it's reviling the Frogs for their uppity foreign policy or embracing them for their attractive females and haute cuisine, Americans are veritably obsessed with our French brethren. It follows, then, that a faux-French band of mostly Yanks, Nous Non Plus, has formed to revive the sound of '60s Franco pop on U.S. shores.
The Brooklyn-based group (whose name translates to "neither do we" or, literally, "us no more") rose from the ashes of the similarly themed Les Sans Culottes ("Those without underpants"), an act that crumbled under an alleged tyrannical reign by founding member Clermont Ferrand. The rest of the Cullotes -- including singer Celine Dijon, singer/bassist Jean-Luc Retard, singer Bonnie Day, guitarist Cal D'Hommage, keyboardist Mars Chevrolet, trumpeter Franï¿½ois Hardonne, and drummer Harry Covert -- gathered their undies and formed Nous Non Plus this year.
The only true native in the group, Mlle. Dijon, has the appropriately sultry voice of a Parisian lounge singer. It's easy to picture her sprawled across a piano in some dank cabaret when singing "L'Amant," the opening track off the band's self-titled debut. The album's best songs are straight-ahead French-pop numbers like "Lawnmower Boy," "Fille Atomique," and "Monokini." Francophones will be tempted to sing along; non-Frenchies will mumble along in tune.
There are a few English songs on Nous Non Plus, sung with a faux-French accent by Jean-Luc Retard. The most notable, "One Night in Paris," concerns the most blatantly American of icons: Paris Hilton. Even though it's not in the mother tongue, the track keeps with Nous Non Plus' silly spirit, with Retard offering lines like "Her smile is like a dare / It says to me, 'No underwear!'"
Jean-Luc, Celine, and the rest of the crew will be playing the West Coast in early 2006:
1/20, Los Angeles, CA (The Fold @ El Cid) 1/21, San Francisco, CA (Hotel Utah)1/23, Eugene, OR (Sam Bonds)1/24, Portland, OR (Berbati's Pan)1/25, Seattle, WA (Sunset Tavern)1/29, Los Angeles, CA (TBA)