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CD Review: Elephant Uproar

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Frenchy and the Punk Elephant Uproar
(2013, Independent)

This insatiable, eclectic duo has been ever evolving through their many projects, evident once again on their sixth full-length album. Once a mogul in the hardcore metal/punk scene, neoclassical guitarist Scott Helland teamed up in the late '90s with Samantha Stephenson—the smoky French-born singer, dancer, and percussionist—to form the popular cabaret stylings of the Gypsy Nomads. In more recent years, they morphed into Frenchy and the Punk, and have taken their fresh, fantastical sound to more than 700 shows in America and Europe. Their musical leanings appeal to fans of theater and world music, and such varied artists as Dresden Dolls, Faun, Django Reinhardt, and Edith Piaf.

Elephant Uproar is a creative sidestep away from their last release, Hey Hey, Cabaret. Stephenson's lusty French vocals on "Nevermore the Matador" lure the listener in from minute one, as Helland's gypsy guitar plucking finalizes this mesmerizing opener. The instrumental "Isis Rising" follows, featuring Helland's frantic gypsyesque Spanish guitar and Stephenson's tight percussion. The strictly percussive "Carnival" sends the heart racing into "Rock Paper Scissors," which is also an exhilarating, eccentric drumming duo video (YouTube it, you'll love it). The title track, along with "Orient Express," may be one reason these two are popular at steampunk conventions—their tribal, metallic sounds grab you by the neck. It is no wonder that Yahoo! Music has dubbed them one of the top 25 duos in America. Their next local gig is at BSP Lounge in Kingston on May 8. Be there and be impressed.

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