Les Chauds Lapins


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There's something quite charming about this sophomore album from New York's Les Chaud Lapins (Hot Rabbits). Given the background of the two main members, Meg Reichardt and Kurt Hoffman (the Roulette Sisters, the Ordinaires, They Might Be Giants, etc.), it would be to easy to imagine that everything would be too clever by half. Instead, there's something very appealing about this collection of jazzy, often bizarre French chanson from the 1920s and ‘30s. The lyrics often veer into the decidedly surreal ("Le Fils de la Femme Poisson"), but that only adds to its appeal (the CD booklet includes translations). The strings and trumpet fill out the basic sounds of a pair of ukuleles. At times the whole thing sounds as if it's escaped from one of Raymond Scott's mad dreams, and at others it sounds like the entertainment at a Left Bank café. Even the Reichardt/Hoffman original, "Cette Nuit-Là," sounds right at home next to the vintage material. There's no concerted attempt to be faithful to the old period. Instead, the focus is on atmosphere and mood, and kudos to Frank London for some wonderful ‘30s jazz trumpet throughout. It's a unique vision, perhaps, but one guaranteed to bring a smile.

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