Sexy movies, nearly every kind of food, existential philosophy...and garage rock? The ever-expanding list of what's better when it's French.
My new favorite song is something called "En dansant le Yah!" just over two minutes worth of Nuggets-era guitar blitz, head-snapping freak beat and Les Breastfeeders' Luc Brien shouting "En dansant le Yah!" to an echo chamber of girl rockers (Suzie McLeLove and Sunny Duval) answering "Hey". It's ear-wormy on the scale of the Knack's "My Sharona", impossible to ignore and even harder to excise from your hard-bop-wearied bones. I'm not even sure how I feel about hooks this insidious... they seem too powerful for mortals to bear.
"En Dansant le Yah!" is the highpoint of Les Breastfeeders' excellent new album Les Matins de Grands Soirs, a follow-up to 2004's much-lauded debut Déjeuner sur L'herbe. Les Breastfeeders, along with fellow Montrealeans Le Nombre, have more or less redefined Francophile garage-rock in recent years, putting hard-fuzzed and harder-partying guitar lines in the services of '60s-friendly three-chord songs. Les Breastfeeders, though, have an element that Le Nombre doesn't. They have women, so that Les Grand Matins sounds very much like The Dirtbombs backing the Shirelles... in French. Sold yet?
They're also, apparently, a bit smarter than the average garage rock band, perhaps due to that wholly superior Canadian education system where you have to learn to read and write not just once but twice in two different languages. (And let's not even get into how much better Canadians are at math than Americans are -- I have 11-year-old nephew in Toronto who knows more calculus than me.) No, let's leave all that aside and just note in passing that Les Breastfeeders reference Candide in their hard-rocking "Tout va pour le mieux dans le pire des mondes", upending Voltaire's philosophical sentiment between drum fills with the observation that "Everything is for the best in the worst of all worlds". Later, they do similar damage to punk rock clichés with a song named "Kill the Idol" and another that translates as "You Are Not My Dog". (Take that, Iggy.) Yet, you can't really take a band with a full-time tambourine player altogether seriously, can you?
But okay, let's just forget that Les Breastfeeders are quite possibly better read than we are, and maybe better looking as well. Because, the main point of Les Grands Matins is pure stupid rock 'n' roll abandon, the kind of riffs and hooks that make you throw your hands skyward and spill your beer on whoever's next to you. "Dansant le Yah!... Hey... Yah!... Hey.... Yah!... Hey" again, again. I want to hear it over and over until it gives me nightmares just like "My Sharona" does... and you will, too. Vive le Rock 'n' Roll!