Chic Gamine

Chic Gamine

In the spring of 2007, with a chance at a red-hot California showcase looming, three old friends and former band-mates — singers Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne and Annick Bremault — decided to launch something fresh and new. They found the perfect fusion with drummer and percussionist Sacha Daoud and a fourth siren-voiced singer, Alexa Dirks; in a matter of weeks, they were recording in that Montreal home studio, and a band was born.

Then came that demo; then an album; then came opening slots for folks such as Smokey Robinson, the nod on CBC Radio-Canada Revelation's top seven artists of 2009-10, and a shiny 2009 Juno Award for Best Roots/Traditional Album. (A big win that, because they were smack-dab in the middle of a highway-pounding North American tour, they celebrated in a log cabin in Montana instead of the big stage.)

That's the prologue. Now, with City, City (released in October, 2010), Chic Gamine is ready to get to the heart of their story.

Consider the new album a reminder that this is not your grandpa's vocal music. Call it music for a band where all the parts just happen to be played by voices: on some songs, they sing as a string section. On others, they could be horns. But no matter how those vocals rise and fall, the feeling of their movement – the pull in the ribcage, the tingle in the spine – remains the same.

Look at it this way. "Silence can break your heart," Chic Gamine sings on one of City, City's most yearning moments; if that is true, then their songs will mend hearts. There is no silence here, just worlds inside their voices, and voices in their worlds: all five members pen stories about all the beautiful longings of life, tied up by ribbons of exquisite four-part harmonies and Daoud's flashes of just-right drumming.

Needless to say, this approach does not lend itself to easy genre classification. If all you knew of Chic Gamine was their debut album, you might be tempted to call Chic Gamine retro world-beat; after all, there were all those traces of forro (a hat-tip to Daoud's Brazilian upbringing) and old-school R&B and doo-wop and the French chanson that three of the four singers grew up with.

But with City, City (Juno nominated for Roots/Traditional Album of 2011), that old world-beatish genre label seems suspect. True, the basic musical languages are still there: the chanson, the R&B and the voices, the sweet or soul-torn voices. But this time out, Chic Gamine is showing a sassier side, jazzing up the vibe with percolating drum kit beats and sauntering bass. Call it pop-vox'n'roll, or something.

Or just call it Chic Gamine, and leave it at that: five friends, five bandmates, five talents weaving voices and beats into something fresh, ready to show the world just how much fun a band with voices for strings can be.

$10.00 - $12.00

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