Various Putumayo Presents: Paris

As long as there are fine Bordeaux wines to drink, Gitannes cigarettes to be smoked, intellectual conversations to be had, and quite possibly the chance of a shag afterwards, generations will continue to soundtrack these times to the sensual yet carefree sounds of Serge Gainsbourg, François Hardy and the chansons of ’60s and ’70s Paris. Although France may be a bit more conservative these days, there is a nouvelle scene of modern French artists echoing the greats, but adding their own modern twists that are wonderfully highlighted in this compilation from the globe-trotting people at Putumayo. Despite their French lyrics, some of the featured artists like Keren Ann and Coralie Clément — whose breezy, bossa nova inspired "Samba de Mon Coeur Qui Bat” is one of many highlights — have received great applause on this side of the pond. But it is the debonair, cabaret-styled musings on Thomas Fersen’s "Au Café de la Paix” and soft, acoustic guitar on both supermodel extraordinaire Carla Bruni’s "Quelqu’un M’a Dit” and Presque Oui’s "L’ongle” that provide refreshing touches to vintage sounds. Les mains en bas, this is the essential compilation to what’s currently hip in Paris. The only thing missing is producer/musician extraordinaire Benjamin Biolay, who works with many of these artists, and whose three solo albums should be on your list to further explore after using this compilation as a stepping stone. (Putumayo)