When French surf rockers The Wave Chargers released their first full length LP at the end of 2019, it exceeded expectations Their earlier EPs promised good things, but the self-titled disc delivered on all fronts, often sounding like one of the most authentic 60s surf tributes ever. Despite being recorded in Paris and released during the winter, the twelve tunes were a perfect homage to the genre’s legends. The guitar tones from Francis Viel and Louise Sordolliet showed so much of an empathy for the retro style that the bulk of their work could’ve easily passed for long lost Dick Dale recordings. With those high octane vibes joined by a couple of fantastic honking sax breaks, it was a record that served up a gloriously retro half hour; an LP almost to thrill lovers of The Lively Ones, and possibly even the legendary Ventures. In short, they managed to run rings around The Aqua Velvets and other US based revivalists.
French vocalist Emma Sand released her ‘Wonderland’ EP in 2016, but it would be another three years before a follow up would emerge. 2019’s ‘Door To Door’ concerns itself with various musical moods and champions itself as an aural road movie, with the vocalist taking the listener through a handful of musical styles along the way. Lovers of heavily reverbed, retro guitar sounds may well take an instant like to the material, but that’s really only just the surface noise on this particular road. The six songs featured here aren’t necessarily recordings you could love straight away. Sand’s big voice occasionally feels at odds with her band; on first listen, she’s just too loud…but given time to adjust, at least two of these songs slowly unveil themselves as being fairly smart adult pop.
On their second EP ‘Six Pack’, self-confessed “slacker rock” Parisians Normcore are here to remind you of the Reading Festival mud-bath of 1992 and the long, hot summer of 1995. On a spirited homage to various distorted indie rock heroes from decades past, its six songs recycle the best bits of early Weezer, Dinosaur Jr., Superchunk and Pavement with a loving charm, but a heavy French accent throughout gives this distortion-loving quartet a slightly different slant on an overly familiar sound.
According to French performer Chevalien, he sees no black or white, just a world of grey. A similar vagueness could be applied when attempting to categorise his music, as this EP brings together elements of heavy electronica, rap and rock-ish flourishes creating something that is hard to define, beyond slating it as an intense noise.
France isn’t necessarily the first location that comes to mind for pop punk exports, but a few great bands have emerged over the past few years including Connies and the truly excellent Shapers.
Here’s another new band from France – South Berkley, a four piece outfit that should appeal to lovers of post-‘Take Off Your Pants…’ era blink-182. Their second single ‘Glass N Sparks’ provides a decent teaser for their debut LP (‘Too Slow’), which is due this summer.