April March

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Created on: 25 Apr 2006
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Mignonette

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April March (real name Elinor Blake, born in California, April 20, 1965) has had one of the more interesting dual careers, as a cartoon animator (including a stint as a principal animator for the Ren and Stimpy show) and as an indie pop singer/songwriter, more popular in France than in Brooklyn, where she was raised, or in her current home of California.

As a child, March became fascinated with France, and jumped at the opportunity to participate in an exchange program in France in junior high. Today, her albums tend to contain songs in both English and French, which draw heavily on themes and styles from French 1960s pop music.

Beginning in the early 1980s, March worked as an animator for Archie Comics and Pee Wee's Playhouse; in 1986 Blake worked on the Madonna feature Who's That Girl, animating the star in the title sequence and the contemporaneous music video. Her first band, the Pussywillows, was formed in 1987, although their existence was interrupted for a year while March attended the one-year Disney Character Animation program in California. In 1991, the Pussywillows broke up, and March formed the Shitbirds, which lasted until 1995. Since then, March has recorded as a solo artist, and has appeared on some motion picture soundtracks. Most notable is her remake of Laisse tomber les filles into 'Chick Habit' that was featured in the 1999 campy teen comedy 'But I'm a Cheerleader.' Her appeal in the United States has grown with her recent and ongoing collaborations with the Dust Brothers, and in France with her collaborations with Bertrand Burgalat.

source: Wikipedia

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Review of "Chrominance Decoder" on amazon.com "Paris of the Mind" October 28, 2000 by James B. Upright (Jacksonville, FL)

***

I've tried to figure out what it is that draws me to the music of this petite chanteuse, and I think perhaps that it is the stirring of childhood memories: of a world ruled by reruns of ancient cartoons, of squirming in the back seat of the car, listening to the light pop vocal hits of the mid-60's. Only now, the songs are in French as well as English, and include two pieces reminiscent of the scratchy lilt of cartoon music. All of this comes together to engender a feeling of sly sentimentality that comforts my black soul, and leaves me dwelling in my own little Paris of the Mind. April March (A.K.A. Elinor Blake) lays on the spells with such songs as Charlatan and Garcon Glacon, which charm me with their - well, with their Frenchness, while her clear, soft, and intimate vocals set my hormones to trembling. The lush orchestration on Mignonette/No Parachute verges on a kind of transcendent distortion, as Herb Alpert-like horns hone in to keep the pace. Keep in Touch, one of many tracks written by producer Bertrand Burgalat, creates a sense of drifting around, alternately approaching and then retreating from the singer. The singsong approach of Mon Petit Ami makes me think of a chorus of fiercely loyal French school children belting out a personal anthem.
Her affection for the medium of animation comes through clearly in Garden of April, a happy, peppy composition that conjures up images of a chorus of singing flowers swaying in the sun, and Mon Petite Cowboy, a bouncy, fluffy instrumental retake of the Mon Petit Ami theme that inspires visuals of an animated cowboy riding the range on a lopsided horse. These two tracks bring to mind the manic musical explorations of Raymond Scott, the deeply strange and innovative composer who inadvertently scored the soundtrack to our childhood.

Peppered throughout are a few numbers with darker themes: Sugar, a song of lost innocence, Knee Socks, a metaphoric look at girls teetering on the edge of that loss, and Ideal Standard, a darkly humorous stab at a bad marriage gone comfortable.

If you're in need of that warm fuzzy sixties feeling without the attendant nausea of overplayed standards, if you have a childish sense of fun balanced with a finely honed sarcastic sensibility, go out and buy this recording. Let's support Elinor Blake in the style to which she should become accustomed.

James B. Upright, Geekly Post-Dispatch


Discography (Partial)
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Chick Habit, 1995
April March Sings Along With the Makers, 1997
Chrominance Decoder, 1998
April March and Los Cincos, 1998
Triggers, 2003

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