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!

Side one

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)

Side two

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…