Fresh off the Turntable: Caravan Palace


Alex Wilson, General Editor

Caravan Palace is a French group who produce music in the electronic and swing genres. The band uses a mixture of synthesized music and classic instruments (such as the violin and saxophone) to create fast, energized music, with an emphasis on dance and heavy bass. They are primarily known for their work in the modern “electro-swing” genre, a mashup of House music, jazz, and 1920s swing. Caravan Palace has released 3 albums, the eponymous Caravan Palace, Panic, and Robot Face <|°_°|>, and two singles, a remix of “Black Betty” by Huddie Ledbetter and their most recent track, “Miracle.” Their style tends to vary between albums, giving a unique tone and feel to each individual piece of their work.

Caravan Palace released their first album, Caravan Palace, in 2008 to critical and public praise, reaching 11th on the billboard charts in their native France. The album features heavy jazz influences, especially in tracks such as “Dragons,” “Jolie Coquine,” and “La Caravane.” Their first album focuses on a string approach, both alongside and without the strong electronic beats that dominates the majority of their discography. There is heavy use of the string bass, guitar, and violin, which are used for tempo, beat, and melody in several songs. including “L’Envol,” “Jolie Coquine,” and “Brotherswing.” Overall, I would recommend listening to “Dragons,” for an intro to the electric swing genre, “Jolie Coquine,” for the band’s signature mix of string instruments and strong electronic backings, and “Violent Valse” for a fantastic example of one of their slower, more melodic waltzes.

Panic, Caravan Palace’s second album, relies less on the heavy beats that dominated their first, and focuses much more on the atmosphere of their music and the diversification of their sound. While still similar in style and pace to Caravan Palace, Panic, does have several noteworthy additions and changes, such as the significant addition of several new instruments. Also, Caravan Palace includes several newer members from this album onwards, which both broadens and deepens their sound. As a whole, I feel that Panic is somewhat weaker than its earlier counterpart, and several songs lack the cohesion that was demonstrated in Caravan Palace. But, a few songs such as “Dramophone,” “Panic,” and “Rock it to Me” definitely help to make up for that loss, with strong backing beats, vocals, and melodic lines. Panic is definitely still a solid entry to Caravan Palace’s discography, but is the weakest of their three current full-length EPs.

Robot Face, or <|°_°|>, the most recent full-length album by Caravan Palace, is probably their most famous, reaching US, UK, and French billboards. This album features the exploration of an entirely new and unique sound and tone from Caravan Palace’s initial albums. Songs like “Wonderland,” “Aftermath,” and “Midnight” take a darker, heavier tone with a more substantial message, while “Russian” and “Tattoos” have a more energetic and bouncy feel. Robot Face is an interesting new direction for Caravan Palace, with a more prominent electronic overtone and a generally faster tempo. My personal favorite of Caravan Palace’s three EPs, this album is their most energetic and powerful. The song, “Lone Digger,” is probably their most well-known, with 197 million views on YouTube. Overall, Robot Face is a fun album, that helped to boost Caravan Palace into the spotlight, but will also hold them to a high standard for their next full album.

Caravan Palace has released two singles in 2019, “Miracle” and “About You.” Both songs feature vocals heavily, and sound much more similar to the styles of Robot Face than their earlier albums. With the band going on tour internationally later this year, it is speculated that they will release another EP this summer. Hopefully, it will live up to fans’ high expectations, and be better than any album before it.