The Music Safari: Putting French Rockers BB Brunes on the Stéréo

The cool kids of French rock: Karim Réveillé, Félix Hemmen, Adrien Gallo and Bérald Crambes of BB Brunes

As part of la nouvelle rock scène française (“the new French rock scene”), BB Brunes formed in 2005, joining the ranks of what the French media called Les Bébés Rockers (“Baby Rockers”), marked by their youth, good looks and post-punk influence.

Lead singer Adrien Gallo first attempted to form a band in 2000 called “Hangover” but was disbanded after a few years when a member left the three-piece group. With childhood friend and drummer Karim Réveillé, Gallo formed BB Brunes with the addition of guitarist Félix Hemmen and bassist Bérald Crambes.

Their influences are clear: Gallo sites The Strokes and The Libertines as inspiration, and once you listen to their latest album, Long Courrier, you’ll start to wonder whether it is just another Strokes album but in French. While BB Brunes mostly records in French, they also have songs in English in the hopes of going international like their contemporaries, Phoenix.

While Long Courrier isn’t a total departure from their original sound, it does show that these four lads have grown up, graduating from the “Baby Rockers” class. The band recorded this album in Paris, London and New York with the help of British producer Alan O’Connell who has worked with Gossip and Bloc Party. It’s a bit more pop rock than garage rock, marked more by synths and keyboards. Long Courrier, which translates to “long haul,” was released last September and has charted comfortably in France but has also found a spot in the Belgian and Swiss charts.

Their lead single “Coups et Blessures” (“Bodily Harm”) was released last July and has stayed in the Top 10 of both the Belgian and French charts. Gallo sings about nearly falling in love with a girl but rethinking it because she’s too volatile in a voice that attempts to emanate Julian Casablancas, except with more polish and less grit. The track is rife with poppy synths and is rightfully representative of the musical direction of this album. However, solid guitar riffs keep the song from becoming alternative.

The fifth track of the album “Hémophile” is more classically rock, written by guitarist Hemmen. The title translates to “hemophiliac” and the song evokes the empty feeling some nights bring, when it seems like there is nothing to do. A strong bass-line and a melancholic guitar paired with Gallo’s pleading voice perfectly conveys the ennui of life. A guitar solo towards the end of the track will have you tossing your hair about but it ends too quickly, and you’re forced to put the song on replay so you can rock out once more.

If you dig their rock sound more, check out “Lala Queen,” which is filled with booming bass-lines and surging guitar solos. If you want more interesting instrumentals, check out “Au Garde à Vous.”

The French music scene is definitely worth exploring especially with Phoenix set to drop a new album in 2013. Other notable artists to check out are C2C, a DJ group that has sick beats on their newest album Tetra, Skip the Use for some more French-people-speaking-English-and-having-cute-accents-goodness on their debut album Can Be Late, and Yelle’s Safari Disco Club for electro-pop dance music.

BB “I play instruments while looking sexy” Brunes

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