Band of the Week: Caravan Palace

caravan

 

The term electro-swing isn’t one that people, generally, immediately understand, it’s a genre that really just has to be heard to get. Caravan Palace is a French electro-swing/gypsy jazz band, who allegedly got their start providing soundtracks to silent porn films. The band’s unique sound comes from mixing the guitars of gypsy jazz, the big band sound and drums of swing music, and the sounds and beats of electronic music. Shockingly enough, most of the band are amazing swing dancers too. If that still sounds a little confusing, let’s go right to the music.

First off is the band’s live performance of “Rock It For Me” complete with mid-song Lindy Hopping:

Their recent album Panic is much more danceable than their debut. Songs like “The Dirty Side of the Street” and “Clash” add jazz and swing accents to dance beats enough to give a nice entry point to anyone unfamiliar with the band. “Dramophone” also does this but there is a certain complimenting that it accomplishes, almost playing call and response between the two genres in a way that feels natural. “Beatophone” steps to the side of a large number of the songs on the album that have a more dark-reverb filled feel, and tries to add the dance vibe to those, it also peaks with a very peculiar sounding keyboard solo. There is also the slower, spacier songs like “Sydney”, “Queens” and “12 Juin 3049” that show the band have a versatility and make better demonstrations of their love of French music and Gypsy Jazz  to create some truly beautiful songs.

Their self-titled debut is similar but with more violin and a rawer feel. The few standouts are songs like “Suzy” that have some great violin fills as well as scat solos but still drives the beat enough to keep it from becoming to saturated in parts. “Jolie Coquine” takes an interesting turn with the mix of violins and nylon guitars in electronic music when it takes these elements from itself and distorts samples of them for its own chorus.

To finish is the band’s song “Dramophone”:

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