French Touch | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Newness for your ears: CHIMIQ, Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero

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Cover artwork for CHIMIQ

Yes, this blog has been pretty much abandoned, but there’s always a day when an album comes out that is so excellent I can’t but tell you about it straight away, in more than 140 characters or a quick Facebook post. Today’s project is courtesy of French favourites Pumpkin and Vin’S da Cuero. Before I tell you about them and the brand-new “CHIMIQ” EP, I have to admit that I have been listening to it on repeat since I received the email from Bandcamp in my inbox an hour or so ago and I’m so obsessed about it already and so eager to share it with you that I took a break from work, after barely getting started. Oh, well.
Also, Pumpkin is one of the few artists whose projects I ALWAYS support and buy (or even preorder in this case). My slowly growing vinyl collection therefore includes most of her previous solo albums, as well as “LE BEAU TEMPS” EP and “PEINTURE FRAÎCHE” LP, her previous two projects as a duo with her partner in crime and official producer Vin’S da Cuero, and I look forward to getting my hands on this one.
Now, about the album itself… WOW! is pretty much how I would sum up my reaction after listening to it for the first time. I had already listened to the title track, which was released recently and complemented by an excellent, original and cheeky video that I highly recommend you watch (link below), and it made me very impatient to discover the whole project. What I can always count on with Pumpkin is a crazy flow and crazier lyrics, which often make me smile and/or utter this succinct but pretty accurate “WOW!”. I use crazy in a good way, of course, and I usually feel pretty bad for people listening to her music who are not francophones, because even if music is a universal language and all that, let’s be honest, they’re missing out. The level of lyricism, technicality, wit and smartness is simply impressive. I was already pretty blown away with “CHIMIQ”, but “SCIENCE FRICTION” (pretty clever pun) is on a whole other level in terms of power and emotion. I’ll get back to the subject matter in a second, but simply in terms of lyrical prowess, Pumpkin definitely stands out. To say she has a way with words would be an understatement and it’s always a pleasure for me to listen to her tracks. Hip-hop is not dead, y’all!
Besides the MC’s skills, another quality of the “CHIMIQ” EP is of course the music, with a return to “boom-bap” hip-hop, after experimenting with electronic sonorities on previous projects. Percussive drums, scratches, and beatbox; you can find all the ingredients for an excellent soundscape that welcomes Pumpkin and the guests’ voices and flows perfectly. Yes, it does make me think of the “Golden Era” of hip-hop but of course it’s very current and another proof that you can pay homage to the past while representing the present. This is also a reminder that Vin’S da Cuero is pretty comfortable with various genres and that’s something you can’t but appreciate from a producer. Also, the aforementioned guests are a most welcome addition to the project, from frequent collaborator Sarah Gessler (Beatspoke) to Vicelow and Sly The Mic Buddah aka Sly Johnson aka TAGi, as well as Neue Grafik and Scratch Bandits Crew on remix duties, and frequent collaborator DJ Lyrik (aka A Cat Called Fritz) on scratches.
Last, but definitely not least, the concept and subject matter of the short project is highly relatable and explored in a wonderful way, from “friends with benefits” aka fuck buddies aka “plan cul” for the French speakers, to how to cope with life’s highs and lows, and domestic violence. “CHIMIQ” is an exploration of how chemistry rules our lives whether it is with sex, relationships or depression. As I was mentioning earlier, “SCIENCE FRICTION” really blew me away, dealing with domestic violence in a very clever and powerful manner. Art is a way to spread messages and I commend Pumpkin for dealing with such an important topic that is too often ignored or downplayed. Once again, that’s quite an incentive to get your French lessons on…

Now that you know more about “CHIMIQ”, you can head to Mentalow Music’s Bandcamp page, or simply click on the link below. Listen, enjoy, and support!

 

 

And in case you need some visual incentive, enjoy the official video for the EP’s title track and get up close and personal with Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero.
 

 

Find out more about Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero on the Mentalow Music website and Facebook

Newness for your eyes: video updates [5]

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Still from the video for The Remedy

It’s been a while, right? Right. Moving on swiftly… I watched a few lovely videos in the past weeks/months and I wanted to share them with you, because sharing is caring. Those four videos are completely different and this is great because variety is the spice of life. As usual, I chose them specifically because they provide the viewer with something interesting and original, which is something all artists should aim to do, don’t you think? So, for this edition, you have a wonderful selection of visuals, courtesy of Stevy Mahy, a regular in this section, Mr. Bird & Greg Blackman, Maleiva Kem & James Klynn, and Raashan Ahmad. I told you it was varied! Now, without further delay, let me tell you more about those new(-ish) videos.

First of all, as I said above, Stevy Mahy has been featured in most of those video updates so far. The reason for this is quite simple: all her videos are amazing! This new one, complementing her brand-new single Ban di’w, taken from her upcoming album Renaissance Woman, is as beautiful and inspiring as ever. Singing both in French and Kreyol, Stevy addresses her lover with a delightful, heartfelt declaration, while the visuals present snapshots of a relationship that oozes love, affection and spirituality. This is what dreams are made of… The music is also an invitation to let your mind drift away and to envision a bright future for yourself, or at least it does for me. In case this is your first time hearing and seeing Stevy Mahy, I would suggest you browse this blog to discover my album review for The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip, as well as other posts about the lovely singer.

Then, UK artists Mr. Bird and Greg Blackman team up to provide you with visuals and lyrics dealing with the aftermath of a relationship, which apparently didn’t go too well… Taken from their collaborative album Low Fi Classics, released recently via BBE, Since You’ve Been Gone is undoubtedly among my favourites on the project. The concept of the video is quite simple but works very well and makes the message of the song all the more clear and powerful. While I haven’t really been in this type of situation before, I can still relate to Greg Blackman’s words and feelings. I am sure some of you will recognise yourself though and maybe wish you had said these words to a person or two… The duo also released a remix for this song, courtesy of The Paragons of Goodness, who are none other than Greg Blackman himself and Nathan Wacey. Available with the single, released via BBE last month as well, it’s a great addition to the album and provides a new dimension to this break-up tale.

Maleiva Kem and James Klynn also tell us about love with their new video/short film, taking us on a Cold Path and providing us with an original story to accompany their words. Part of Freedom Hall, a wonderful collective of artists I told you about in the past, they always strive to push boundaries and create art that is all at once innovative, thought-provoking and inspiring. This video is yet another example of their approach and it should not leave you unmoved. Taken from the recently released album of the same nameCold Path blends a lovely melody and Maleiva Kem’s angelic voice with James Klynn’s expert writing skills and candid lyrics. The result is a bittersweet tale that still inspires hope, which I think is what the visuals are all about. The hopeless romantic in me can’t but appreciate that and I’m grateful to the artists for giving me a reason to feel optimistic about love and life right now.

Last but not least, Raashan Ahmad just released a brand-new video for The Remedy, taken from the album Ceremony that was released last year and has become one of my favourites ever. Far from swoon-inducing declarations of love, post break-up relief or complicated feelings, what the American MC offers us is a testimony to his passion for hip-hop. Shot last week in Tokyo, Japan, during his tour in the Land of the Rising Sun, the video is full to the brim of positive vibes and energy. While the storyline is quite basic, the power of the visuals is to make you feel good. That is usually what a lot of Raashan Ahmad’s music is about and I have to say it works perfectly well. As I have been going through rough times lately, I can definitely relate to music being The Remedy, which makes it even easier for me to enjoy the song and video. It actually ranks among my (many) favourites from the album and listening to it, along with watching the MC do his thing in Tokyo, makes me feel better.

Newness for your ears: Chayé Kow, Érik

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Cover artwork for Chayé Kow

I have been meaning to update the blog for a while now… In the same way as life is made of ups and downs, my levels of motivation and inspiration have this way of taking rollercoaster rides, creating severe inconsistency. While listening to the album I am about to write about today, I felt a desire to share. Again. At last. Add a friendly but firm virtual kick in the ass (thanks Keisha ;)) and you get a blog post. Hooray!
While this album is not “recent” by any musical industry standard (which I couldn’t care less about), it is new to my ears and probably many of yours. Hence its presence on the blog in my regular “Newness for your ears” category. Released in 2009, Chayé Kow has this type of timeless sound that makes it enjoyable from the day of its release till… infinity? I can’t vouch for that just now, but I can say that 5 years after it came out, it pleases my ears and that is all that matters to me. I actually first heard about French singer Érik several months before he finally released the album and it was beautiful to witness his journey from new, young artist with an innovative sound to well-known personality in the West Indies (he is hailing from the beautiful island of Guadeloupe) and mainland France. The first songs I heard, sometimes accompanied with beautiful videos, are present on Chayé Kow, making the album slightly familiar at first listen. While a couple of those tracks (On bel jouné and Si ou pa la) remain my favourites, all the ones I discovered were pleasant surprises and made my ears and my soul happy. Overall, the project is a comprehensive introduction to Érik’s universe and a lovely musical journey into his various influences. Singing both in Kréyol and in French, the young man tells us about love, loss and growth, among other topics. In addition to his extremely appealing voice and well-written, heartfelt lyrics, the other strong point of the album is undoubtedly the music. From delicate strings to uplifting percussions and compelling bass and piano, all the instruments appeal to my ears in various ways and each song creates a different atmosphere, allowing me to experience a wide range of feelings. 
Parler de tout ça, specifically, is an emotional tale about the struggles you can encounter in a relationship and, while I didn’t experience anything similar myself, I can’t help but be touched by the quality of Érik’s words and delivery. Another favourite, the closing track, Viré tombé, is an hypnotic number that deeply touches me and entices me to vibrate to the rhythm of the percussions. Quite a wonderful way to end this listening experience and leave listeners enthralled!
As a conclusion to this short presentation, I would like to say that Chayé Kow is one of those albums that seduce me as soon as the first notes of the first song are heard and it will most definitely be listened to on a regular basis. In case you didn’t listen to it when it was released, as was the case for me, don’t fret: music like this is a gift that you receive whenever you are ready. I know I was and it came into my life at the perfect time.

PS. His new album, École créole, was released last year. I have yet to listen to it but I will most probably keep you updated once I do.

Now that you know a little bit more about Érik and Chayé Kow, I invite you to discover the whole album on iTunes (or other various digital music stores). If by any chance you still need convincing, watch the two videos below, for Si ou pa la and Chayé kow, very different but equally beautiful tracks that give you an idea of the variety of sounds and atmospheres you can find on the album. Enjoy and please share!

Find out more about Érik on his website, Facebook & Twitter

French touch: ɘnvol (vol#1), Tum’Soul

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Cover artwork for envol

Oh, hello there! I know it’s been forever and I actually feel a bit weird, typing this after so long, but I dare to hope this is a “real” come back for me and a new start for The Wonderful World of Carminelitta. I won’t digress and write a long-winded introduction explaining why and how I have been away for so long, as it’s not especially interesting. Instead, I want to dive into the matter at hand, i.e. a wonderful little project I discovered today. Tum’Soul is a very talented French producer I became acquainted with in the MySpace days, but as is the case with many artists I first listened to that long ago, I did not really follow his work until I found him again on Facebook a few years ago. After collaborating with many French soul singers, including Osmojam, Rémi aka Tum’Soul (I’ve always loved the pun in his name, which only French-speaking people can understand) is finally ready to spread his wings and take off on his own. The title of the album, coupled with the incredible cover artwork, is a reference to this new plunge the producer is taking, as well as to the concept of the project. Indeed, the music is very atmospheric and makes you feel like you are soaring high in the sky, floating alongside clouds and travelling to distant lands. After a long week of night shifts at work and plans for my weekend to be all about R&R, ɘnvol (vol#1) is the perfect soundtrack to this Saturday afternoon. In addition to the beautiful music, my ears are also quite delighted to enjoy heavenly vocals courtesy of several of Tum’Soul’s frequent collaborators. A little under half an hour long, the project is both a lovely introduction to the French producer’s universe and a teaser for listeners, who may want more to appease their ears’ hunger. However, the replay factor is very good and it is extremely easy to put ɘnvol (vol#1) on repeat over, and over… and over again. This is probably what I will do today, as the music is very soothing and constitutes a great way to unwind. Finally, because of my very sharp sense of detail, I can’t fail to notice that this album is actually the first part of a series, which makes me rejoice and look forward to what’s coming next.

Now that you know a little more about ɘnvol (vol#1), you can discover the whole project on Tum’Soul’s Bandcamp page, or by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the flight!

Find out more about Tum’Soul on Facebook & Twitter

French touch: Le Voyage, Erika Lernot

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Cover artwork for Le Voyage by Erika Lernot

Today being summer solstice and the “longest day” of the year, which means more time for you to listen to and enjoy some beautiful music, I thought it was a good time to update the blog with some goodness. Additionally, today is a special day in France, as well as in several countries around the world, where the “fête de la musique” is celebrated. This celebration, initially launched in France in the 1980s has become a very important event for unscrupulous promoters, bar or restaurant owners music lovers. Even though I am not one to celebrate “commercial” holidays and never need a special day to tell people I love them or enjoy some music, I think it can be a good way to discover new artists and support any type of musical creation. With that said, today is also a way for me to catch up on posts I have meant to feature on the blog in a (very) long time, hence this article about an album that was released in June last year. I already told you about the beautiful and talented Erika Lernot quite a while ago, when I introduced you to her debut EP Le Voyage. After this appetiser, the French singer delighted our ears with the LP of the same name. As full of lovely melodies, enchanting vocals and inspiring lyrics as the EP, Erika Lernot’s debut full-length album is simply perfect. A true “voyage” through music and an invitation to venture in unknown territories, the project is one I have listened to quite regularly since it was released and which never fails to make a smile appear on my face and my body dance to the most lively songs. More

Newness for your eyes: video updates [4]

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Picture from the Imperial Sugar video

It’s been a while since I last posted one of those video updates and since my eyes were blessed by several wonderful visuals in the past days and weeks, I thought it was high time I shared them with you. If you follow the blog regularly, you probably know that I generally don’t post single videos but sometimes the beauty, originality or inspirational message carried by a handful of them tickles my interest. This time around, I have an incredible selection of four videos from artists coming from the States, the UK, Switzerland and France. Variety is the spice of life! The genres and themes of the song are varied as well, which makes for an interesting melting-pot. Anyway, enough rambling for now, let me tell you about the first one…

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French touch: Silence Radio EP, Pumpkin

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Cover artwork for Silence Radio EP

Pumpkin is an artist I discovered quite recently, thanks to her frequent collaborators Supafuh and Teru, but I have since then caught up with her work, to my ears’ delight. When I interviewed her a few months ago in London, I met a passionate and determined woman who was eager to express herself through music and share her views on the world.
Today is a very important day for Pumpkin, as she releases her new EP, Silence Radio, a wonderful project she has been crafting for a long time. Patience is a virtue and it definitely pays off here, both for her and for listeners, who are in for a treat. With features by 20Syl (Hocus Pocus), Ty, Pugz Atoms or Metropolis (Foreign Beggars), to name just a few, the EP still remains imprinted with the “Pumpkin touch”, as the young woman decides to venture on more experimental territories while touching on topics that are in turn personal tales and social observations she is well-known for. In addition to the aforementioned MCs joining Pumpkin on the mic, talented producers Supafuh, Vin’S da Cuero, Quiet Dawn, Josh Fontan (Beatspoke) and DJ Vadim come to reinforce an amazing team and create refreshing instrumentals that allow the lyricists to shine. More

French touch: Histoire de…, Aldrick

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Cover artwork for Histoire de

Ladies and gentlemen, The Wonderful World of Carminelitta is back (again)! I know, I know… I guess there’s no denying the obvious: life has been hectic and my mind elsewhere in the past months, and despite a vague desire to update the blog more regularly and start sharing some music with you again, I was simply not in a space where I felt motivated and inspired enough to do it. After a few attempts which proved to be short-lived, I’m giving it a new try. Many posts are waiting in line, but for tonight, I thought some smooth French soul would be appropriate.

I told you about Aldrick on two occasions, first for his collaboration with French spoken word artist JLS on the album DES MOTS [dé]NOTENT, and second with his acapella EP Dans Ma Chambre. As I already explained then, Aldrick is part of the numerous artists I discovered on MySpace in what seems to be another digital lifetime and I’ve always appreciated his voice, his style and sense of humour. After giving us those very appetising teasers, the French singer finally delivered a long-awaited debut album back in May. While I tend to listen mainly to American artists, as well as a few from the UK, I have to admit I have overlooked artists from my own country for the most part of the last years. When I discover albums like Histoire de…, I am reminded of how much talent France has nurtured and I am therefore tempted to go back to listening to more “homegrown” music. Aldrick is clearly among my favourites and the album is yet another confirmation of his skills. More

Newness for your eyes: video updates [3]

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Picture from Comb My Hair video

It’s been quite a while since I offered some video updates and I stumbled upon a few in the past days or weeks that caught my attention. I don’t usually post videos on their own, but when I see such quality, I have to gather some of them and share them with you. The songs are in different genres and the themes vary, but all those visuals have something in common: they are beautiful and inspiring. A great video only enhances a song and can sometimes make it even more touching, powerful or entertaining. Let me tell you more about today’s selection and why I love them so much…

Fabian Akilles is an artist I discovered very recently, thanks to Dewey Decibel and I’m sure glad I did! Comb My Hair, taken from his album Evil Round That Corner, is a very interesting and uplifting song that everyone should listen to and particularly little girls who sometimes don’t have the best of role models if you consider current mainstream stars. The video is very simple and straight to the point so I won’t tell much more about it, but leave you to enjoy the great song and lovely visuals. You can get the album via Evil Round That Corner - Fabian Akilles More

Exclusive: Better (Teru remix), Cilla K

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Cover artwork for Better (Teru remix)

Cilla K is a wonderful mutli-talented artist from Guadeloupe in the French West Indies who is currently based in NYC and is creating beautiful soulful and futuristic music that pleases my ears. I already told you about the singer/producer a couple of times, but in case you missed them you can catch up with my review of her debut album Fine Line, that was featured on Preach Jacobs’ online magazine Mo’ Betta Soul, or my write-up about New World Lullabies, her excellent sophomore album that was released a few months ago.

Now, to make my ears and yours even happier, she teamed up with fellow French producer Teru, who crafted this lovely remix for You know me better, taken from her latest album. I have to admit I am very excited and happy to present this track exclusively on The Wonderful World of Carminelitta and offer you a double dose of “Frenchness” to enjoy without moderation. More

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