A GUEST POSTING by ALEX G
In 1993, New Yorker Elinor Blake broke up her band The Pussywillows, moved to Los Angeles, and quit music to concentrate on animation. And if she’d stuck to that, today’s Imaginary Compilation Album wouldn’t exist. I mean, it’s an imaginary album so it doesn’t exist anyway, but all the music on it definitely does.
The fact is that practically as soon as she’d moved, she launched into not one but two new musical projects – a punk band, The Shitbirds, with fellow animators from The Ren & Stimpy Show, and her own solo project under the name April March. The Shitbirds didn’t last long (nor did another band she formed soon after, The Haves) but the April March project continues to this day. Apparently there is a new long-player already in the can and pencilled in for release some time in 2018. Maybe 2019, you can’t rush these things.
Blake’s music is largely sixties-inspired, ranging through Brill Building pastiches, garage rock, sunshine pop and psychedelia, but if she’s associated with one particular trait, it’s her Francophilia. Accordingly, Blake’s most frequent collaborator is French writer-producer Bertrand Burgalat whose retro-futurist leanings and love of “ye-ye” pop mirror her own. Burgalat produced six tracks on this ICA (1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8), also co-writing four of them, the other two being covers of songs originally recorded by original ye-ye girl Chantal Goya (Mon ange gardien) and elder statesman of indiepop (says Wikipedia), Louis Philippe (Martine – of which Burgalat produced the original, too).
Of the four remaining tracks, “Chick Habit” is an adaptation of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Laisse tomber les filles”, and probably April March’s best-known number, having apparently popped up in various films I haven’t seen, and adverts I don’t remember. “The Winter Cave” comes from my favourite April March album, the gorgeous winter-themed “April March & Los Cincos”, recorded with the titular Californian quintet, and “Sun Machine” is a quieter number from the 2008 album “Magic Monsters”, made with sometime Beck collaborator Steve Hanft. That just leaves the closing “Stay Away From Robert Mitchum”, dating back to 1993 and the very first April March EP, “Voo Doo Doll”, which was written and produced by Tim Hensley of Victor Banana – a group I don’t know, though if their songs are as bonkers as the ones he wrote for Blake, I would love to hear them!
Mon ange gardien (Dans les yeux d’April March EP, 1999)
Sugar (Superbanyair, 1996)
Chick Habit (Chick Habit EP, 1995)
Life Of The Party (Triggers, 2003)
Coral Bracelet (Triggers, 2003)
The Winter Cave (with Los Cincos) (April March & Los Cincos, 1998)
Eyes Of The Sun (with Dólos) (Various Artists: RSVP Tricatel, 2015)
Martine (Superbanyair, 1996)
Sun Machine (with Steve Hanft) (Magic Monsters, 2008)
Stay Away From Robert Mitchum (Voo Doo Doll EP, 1993)
JC adds…..this is someone I’ve never come across before….and the submission of this excellent and idiosyncratic ICA, complete with the wonderful artwork, is a reminder of the fact that I’m blessed to have such a extensive network of readers and contibutors. There’s more from Alex G tomorrow…
9 thoughts on “AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #168 : APRIL MARCH”
That’s some good ICA writing right there, that is. Looking forward to giving this a spin.
I’m particularly impressed by the artwork. I’ll give this a listen when I get home.
I almost thought I played one of my She & Him albums, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found M.Ward sprinkled over the credtis on the original albums. Which is a quality mark in my book.
This is superb stuff, the writing, the music and The imaginary sleeve art. Excellent work
Glad to see that the striking “Stay Away From Robert Mitchum” is there. I picked up the “Voo Doo Doll” EP just because I was a Ren + Stimpy fan and the John Kricfalusi liner notes, coupled with the ebullient photos of Ms. Blake [on ice skates!] coupled to attract my attention. I only have a few of her albums, but her scorching garage rock album [“April March Sings Along With the Makers”] singing lead on a selection of songs by The Makers [who backed her up], is radically different from most of the Francophile pop she’s made the bulk of her career.
Great post and lovely artwork too. I only know ‘Chick Habit’ thanks to the film ‘But I’m A Cheerleader’, so look forward to brushing up on more April March.
I wish I’d formed a band called the Shitbirds.
I know someone called April who married a Mr May!
Thanks for this, Alex. I Loved Chick Habit in the Deathproof soundtrack but haven’t heard any of her other stuff. Looking forward to giving it a try. Any track called Stay way From Robert Mitchum gets my vote.