8 1/2 Souvenirs

8 1/2 Souvenirs

Twisted Desire


Get out your poodle skirts and let's schwing, baby. The Austin, Texas-based quintet 8 1/2 Souvenirs is breaking out their groovy new CD, Twisted Desire. The band's sound has been called sophisticated, bohemian, cool, decidedly quirky, France-meets-Austin, cosmopolitan pop, swing-influenced rockabilly Texarkana, and that just about describes 8 1/2's infectious collection of tunes. I think guitarist/vocalist (and French expatriate) Olivier Giraud hit the nail on the head when he said, "Our music makes you feel as if you're in a room surrounded by aged wood and there's a pot of thick soup on the stove." In addition to Giraud's talents, the band also benefits from sultry 21-year-old chanteuse Chrysta Bell, who has been known to sashay onstage wearing glitter lipstick, shiny lizard-print pants, and a corset. The cosmopolitan aspect of its music stems from the influence of three-fingered Parisian-gypsy jazz great, Django Reinhardt, (whom the band covered extensively on their first CD Happy Feet), as well as its blending of French, Italian, Spanish, and English lyrics -- mostly about amour, but of course.

Nine of the twelve songs on Twisted Desire are originals, but I must admit I favor the covers. The first track is a jazzy version of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" with the catchy refrain: "Every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man" (ain't that the truth). Some big-band brass, a driving bass line, tight guitar and piano licks, and of course Ms. Bell's oh-so-sexy lyrics, make this rendition even better than the original. Several tunes, such as "L'amour Toujours" and Paolo Conte's "Dancin'," can be described as a mixture of "surf punk enters French café." They certainly make me want to order a Campari, paint my lips and nails bright red, and grip one of those stylish '20s-era cigarette holders. I also adore the waltzy "Lonely in Love," originally recorded by Lyle Lovett, where Chrysta's voice is deliciously moody and a lonesome fiddle leads us down the road of sorrow. The Latinesque "Rhythm Is Magic" is nicely upbeat with undertones of an acoustic Gloria Estefan (thankfully, sans drum machine). It's a joy following 8 1/2 Souvenirs through its many musical excursions on this CD. The band oozes charisma, so much so that I can only imagine how entertaining they must be live. -- Heidi Dierssen

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories