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CD Review: Bonjour Batfrog 

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(2014, E. A. Recordings)

Steampunk seems to be more about image than art. But in spite of their deep roots in this most intriguing niche of American pop culture, New Paltz's Frenchy and the Punk understand the art of songwriting in such a masterful way that the visual aspect of their thing is almost secondary to the penchant of singer/percussionist Samantha Stephenson and multi-instrumentalist Scott Helland for writing great pop songs. And on this fifth full-length of theirs, Bonjour Batfrog, the duo deliver their strongest set yet.

These 11 largely acoustic songs strip down the kind of vamp you loved on albums like Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds or PJ Harvey's To Bring You My Love into a gypsy-kissed jar of that absinthe-and-moonshine concoction you always knew existed. The imagery of their lyrics, meanwhile, will no doubt sate the thirst for the unusual that long-time Frenchy and the Punk fans have come to expect, especially on tracks like "Bringin' Out the Dead (Edward Gorey Séance)" and "Batgirl," which conjures the notion of Morticia Adams, Lily Munster, and Vampira as the greatest three-woman act network television never had. This Batfrog has some serious wings to fly beyond the parameters of steampunk and into the stereo systems of anyone who loves quality folk punk. Frenchyandthepunk.com.

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