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Les Chauds Lapins (left to right): Meg Reichardt, Kurt Hoffman, Garo Yellin, Karen Waltuch, Andy Cotton
LOCATION:New York, New York
  • Meg Reichardt
  • Kurt Hoffman
  • Garo Yellin
  • Karen Waltuch
  • Andy Cotton

"Les Chauds Lapins (“the hot rabbits”), lead by New York’s Kurt Hoffman and Meg Reichardt, specialize in a repertoire of French swing from the 1920’s through the 40’s. The group has re-arranged long-forgotten French classics for banjo-ukes, string trio, guitar and winds, mixing the rootsiness of early American jazz with the lushness of a Bernard Hermann film soundtrack.

Prior to their turn as French entertainers, Meg Reichardt was best known as one fourth of Americana group The Roulette Sisters and Kurt Hoffman as co-leader of cult instrumentals band The Ordinaires, and as sideman and arranger for such luminaries as They Might be Giants, Frank Black and and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The music on Amourettes oscillates between romantic and quirky, retro and modern, French and American. It appeals equally to fans of roots music, swing and classic film soundtracks.

Les Chauds Lapins is French for "hot rabbits": lust-filled animals intent on seeking — and finding — pleasure. "Amourettes," Les Chauds Lapins' second album, is the result of that quest for pleasure.

Neither Kurt nor Meg are French. Their leap from art-rock and Americana to the world of French chanson may seem far-fetched, but the progression isn't as absurd as it may seem...

...Like the French models they emulate, Les Chauds Lapins take their music off the grid. Their arrangements are true neither to time nor space. Their arrangements contrast scored strings and horns with vintage fretted instruments, most notably banjo ukuleles, a hybrid instrument popular in the 20s and 30s. "Due to the instrument's stretched animal skin resonator, it's got a distinctive sound, earthy, percussive and colored by surprising overtones. Need it be said, banjo ukes are not typical of French music at any point in history." By mixing the Americana quirkiness of banjo-ukes with the narrative versatility of a string trio, they remain faithful to the inventive spirit of the original songs and give them a luster that eschews quaintness and easy cliché.

Their new album, "Amourettes" is a tribute to music Les Chauds Lapins intimately identifies with. "Human passion seems fantastical, unreal—yet it's what drives us to kiss, to embrace, to undress, to do a thousand good and bad things. It's what attracts Les Chauds Lapins to these marvellous songs, which are the pinnacle of a flippant, fantastical, infectious songwriting tradition that blossomed in the theaters, cabarets and music halls of France."

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