Popham Culture

Popham Culture

Greetings again dear reader! Something has brought us together again, maybe fate? More likely one of the editors hand delivered this to you at Jittery Joe’s. Fate is more romantic, so I’ll just run with it. Fate brought me yet again to the truly unique sound of Electro-Swing band Caravan Palace. I was going to write a stinging parody of the desperately insufficient Republican field, but they are doing well enough in that realm on their own. 

I first heard Caravan Palace four or five years ago through the woefully unequipped laptop speakers of a French classmate who assured me they were incredible. They were.

Because of national licensing, the band’s music was not available in the United States. Most of their stuff is still hard to find in stores, but their eponymous 2008 release is now available on Spotify. Honestly, I find their newer work superior overall. I’m not saying their 2008 release is bad, it’s just that they had some more time to grow. If you are interested, their newer work is available on Youtube. I recommend the song “Clash”. That said, let’s look into Caravan Palace as a whole.

This French group introduces their first track, “Dragons” with a sound that can be only described as 1940’s St. Louis Swing as seen through the lens of the Parisian techno scene. This is the same scene that brought powerhouses like Kavinsky and Daft Punk.  This first track starts off with coffee shop sounds and then rockets you to the moon.  “Scar Scat” brings you to what I can only imagine is a “Big O” android singing scat over a well-oiled backing band. The guitar styling’s of Arnaud Vial would make Phil Keaggy blush.

Sonia Velasco and Camille Chapelière bring forth a sound that is uniquely French through a regular slow waltz and occasional breakneck clarinet.

Whenever we are all long dead, our descendants will want to emulate this. I proudly stand by that as I do all  my other unverifiable claims.

“Ended With the Night” is like strolling through an impressionist painting of the stars, with reflections simmering on the Seine. The album really starts to impress with “Jolie Coquine.” It unabashedly rips you out of your chair and onto whatever danceable surface you can find. It’s last’s century’s sound churned out with the urgency of the digital age. “Ooh” allows you to catch your breath, but then they come back hard with “Suzy”. I must say, “it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.” Play this at your next party and feel cool.

The next track, “Je m’amuse”, really starts to show how well this album is paced. I fall short of calling it musical genius, but I will admit that is a challenge. This song is more electronic than the previous tracks, but Caravan Palace is able to integrate synthesizers in such a way that it doesn’t seem over produced. The rest of the album continues at the same pace, and I couldn’t spoil that for you. Long story short, this French connection brings the old and the new together in a sharp, foot tapping, rush.