Subversion, thy name is April March. Hired by wholesome Archie Comics as a cartoon animator in the early 1980s, March (née Elinor Blake), a French-culture addict, quickly moved into the wackier climes of Pee-wee's Playhouse
and gross-out toonland of The Ren & Stimpy Show
, with a stop in between, to animate Madonna during her "Who's That Girl" phase, for good measure. Not content to simply foist her unconventional scrawls upon the world, she found time to establish a wholly quirky musical career that included the '60s girl-group preservers the Pussywillows, the punkish L.A. threesome the Shitbirds, and her solo endeavors as the Francophilic ingénue March.
A purveyor of Parisian savoir-faire and swinging sounds -- the go-go dancing "Chick Habit," her girlishly mod take on the Serge Gainsbourg song, was a highlight of 1999's But I'm a Cheerleader -- March nonchalantly crafts cool-as-ice lounge urbanity that thumbs its nose at the mainstream without breaking a sweat. Indeed, her most recent disc, Triggers, was one of the most overlooked mood-noir albums of 2003, combining the vocal sophistication of Ivy's Dominique Durand with Broadcast's penchant for obscure floating electronica and Stereolab's pop smarts to create a truly enchanting sound.