jeudi 30 décembre 2010

Rendez-Vous 003 : Highway To Yelle

*originally posted the girls are

If first impressions are anything to go by then French electro popsters Yelle certainly catch the eye. From their frontwoman’s colourful command over a style that rivals even fancy-dress-savvy-starlet Lady Gaga, to their tour-de-force pounding drums and jump-start synths, this group are truly making waves. So, with a top five chart hit in France and huge success following a recent tour in North America under their shiny pop belts, surely it’s only a matter of time before London’s Calling?

Chéri Amour: OK so for those at the girls are who are new fans of the band, how did Yelle come about? How would you describe your sound?
Grand Marnier (La batterie. Production. Kinky): Ah, ‘the sound’. I guess the sound would probably be labelled ‘electro pop music’. We like modern music, we like dance beats and we like melodies so it’s a bunch of that. Catchy too because we are from the FM generation!

CA: Your debut album, Pop Up, (released in 2006), was a huge success over here in France, particularly with the track Je Te Voir which reached the top five. Would you say there are many good electro bands currently in France?
Tepr: (Synths. Programmes. Fun) Yes, definitely. There is a scene. There is a scene following Phoenix a little bit. There are a lot of rock/pop bands singing in English here in France too that are doing really well for themselves; bands like Jamaica, Fortune, Pony Pony Run Run.
Grand M: But with regards to electronic music, there are all those people like Ed Banga’s ‘Crusade’ and Kitsune.

CA: But, maybe not what you guys have established – this kind of pop meets electro?Julie (La chanteuse. Sequins. Dance): We sing in French too so that makes us stand out from these kinds of groups.
Grand M: So, we don’t have any musical family here. We are alone. (tiny violin…) No, it’s nice though.
CA: When you were figuring out what you wanted to do musically, were you inspired by your French pop predecessors like Lio or Daft Punk?
Grand M: It’s not a direct influence as you can’t compare our sound to Daft Punk.
Tepr : When we were 15, we were mainly listening to rock bands and Daft Punk‘s first album, Homework, really opened our eyes to dance and that type of music. Homework is full of hooks so I guess, in that sense, it influences us.

CA: What do you think of the revival in recent years of the French electronic scene? Do you feel like you fit into that?
Grand M: Yes, because of journalists. The scene and the movement is quite separate for us though, really. We are a band living in Brittany, France. We are alone… in the countryside. We are not in a scene of underground dance music or anything there.
CA: There isn’t a scene in Brittany?
Grand M: There’s a scene for cows…!

CA: In 2008, you performed an overseas tour in North America and performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. What was that like?
Tepr: It was the beginning of something incredible in the US. We did Coachella and then we had proposals for so many more gigs after that.

CA: You played quite high on the bill that day, didn’t you?
Tepr: Yes, it was a really good slot at 9pm on the Saturday night.
Julie: We were actually playing at the same time as Portishead on the other stage.
CA: What was the reaction in America with all your songs being in French: was this a problem?
Tepr: We still can’t figure out why but the language difference doesn’t seem to be a problem.
Grand M: It’s funny to see people actually moving their mouths, trying to sing along to the words. I mean it’s something that we used to do ourselves when we were listening to those American rock bands when we were 15. It’s all about the energy and the direct feelings, I think.
CA: You’re all very involved in making the music – the production as well as writing. Tell us how this works…
Grand M: Actually I mainly write the songs but do produce some of them. Julie is writing together with me. With Tepr, we also produce some of the tracks alongside one another but he produces by himself too.

CA: Do you think it’s important, this collective almost DIY approach to music? Producing your own records etc?
Grand M: It’s the best way to do work with what you have. We produce all the records ourselves so we can really make the most of things. We don’t have any deadlines. Also, mixing the album, we have the opportunity to try different things. Sometimes it’s difficult when you maybe want to create a bigger sound from the production but it’s more real when you do everything by yourselves.

CA: What is the process like translating your sound from the studio to a live performance?
Tepr: It’s another job but we like it.
Julie: It’s different!
Grand M: Mostly, regarding the drums (as I play live drums on stage and when we make the records), it’s more produced. When I write a rhythm, I might play it but I won’t record it like that. I will record and edit.
Tepr: It’s a big challenge for us. People can feel when it is fake so we are always thinking about this. We finish an album and look at that as one challenge and then move onto the next; translating that into a live performance. We have to adapt all the songs from the album.
Grand M: It’s like a digi-set live but it’s just another process to us.

CA: You are currently working on your second album, Safari Disco Club, set for release in March 2011, oui? How is that all going?
Grand M: Yes, it’s due out in March with a new single out in mid-January. The recording is all done, in fact. We are just waiting for a few changes on the mastering and then we are going to shoot the artwork for it next week. We are working on the music video too. We’re facing all these other exciting challenges now; both live and the music videos.

CA: Do you have tours planned surrounding the release of the new record? Will you be coming back to Paris?
Julie: Yes, in April.
Grand M: And we’re going to open for Katy Perry.
Tepr: We are doing the UK dates with her.
Grand M: That’s an exclusive!

CA: So on the KP topic, you guys were lucky enough to be approached to remix her track Hot and Cold? How was that?
Julie: It was quite hard as we were in the US and didn’t have the facilities of our studio, so had to record it in a bedroom.
Tepr: Grand Marnier and I didn’t meet her but Julie did. At the time, we had such a limited time to record the track, like three days. We recorded the vocals under a blanket.

CA: Obviously, Julie, something you have in common with Katy is your quirky outfits and fashion sense on stage: do you think style is important part to the band?
Julie: I think it is important. It’s certainly part of the fun! For this album, we are working with Jean-Paul Lespagnard who we have already worked with on the Ce Jeu video. He’s a really nice guy. Plus, he is really into our music and gets involved in the whole idea.
Tepr: We like to feel that the people around us are really into the band and what we are doing.
Grand M: Not just into the name dropping.
Tepr: It’s cool to work with Jean-Paul as he is a young designer and he has a passion for life. He’s crazy!

CA: So, what’s next for Yelle, any other projects or collaborations that you can talk about?
Grand M: We don’t have time at the moment really with the new album coming out.
Tepr: We did
The Crookers song, Cooler Couleur, last year and Julie did a cover for the Nouvelle Vague album.
Julie: For the new one, it just came out a few weeks ago (Nouvelle Vague, Couleurs sur Paris; a journey into post punk and new wave French classics).

CA: Which current bands do you rate?
Grand M: Miike Snow, White Rabbit.
Julie: Robyn (Ed - co-incidentally, another fab femme the band have worked with)
Tepr: Dead Mouse.
CA: What would your death row dinner be?(initially there is some confusion translating this idea…the last supper. Subject realised, the band are full of potential cuisine ideas)
Tepr: Avocado.
Grand M: Profiteroles with chocolate.
Julie: Something probably from Brittany, like Crepes.
Tepr: Perhaps, we could make this into some kind of three course meal. For starters, we could do Avocado salad….
Grand M: You know, I would really like to try (gestures at his own arm…)
CA: So, main course… human flesh?
Grand M: Maybe, my own sperm too. Flute of sperm.

CA: Describe Yelle in 5 words.
Tepr: Fun.
Grand M: Pretty.
Tepr: Kinky.
Julie: Dance.
Tepr: Is that 4? One more? Hmm, avocado?
Grand M: I think Avocado is good. It’s a vegetable with a fun shape. Good colour. And tasty.

Naturally. With a fun composition, good colourings and the ability to cook up tasty bite size pop hits, Yelle are the brightest vegetable in the electro pop patch. As the band prepare for tonight’s show at Fleche d’Or, I am informed that Rory Phillips, the headline act for ce soir, can’t make it due to the snow. So, does this mean a three hour theatre style set for Yelle with a intermission and ice cream? “If we are all alone on the bill, I think we will just spin some records after. Maybe even some Katy Perry”.

Yelle‘s new album, Safari Disco Club, is out in March 2011; until then tickets for their shows supporting Katy Perry on her UK tour in March are on sale now and I, for one, am penning that one down for Papa Noel. Electro-ho-ho!

jeudi 9 décembre 2010

Plastiscines @ La Cigale, 27.11.10

*originally posted on thegirlsare

Tonight’s show at La Cigale is the final date in the Plastiscines recent ‘Bitch’ Tour, and judging by the throng of devoted fans as well as many of the bands family and friends (later gushed about in the group’s on stage thank-yous), there’s more to these girls than just their formidable faces and figures. These French sisters are doing it for themselves; and in hot-pants, to boot.

Dubbed as the ‘bébé rockers’, being one of several current Parisian teenage bands, from the moment Plastiscines strut out on stage, one can only gaze in awe at their energetic exuberance: legs flailing, hair tossing and heads banging, the band crash into their set with Sex Pistols venom yet maintain their perfectly executed appearance of ‘rock chic’, as if presented in the latest cult fashion shoot. It’s not surprising then that Editor-in-chief of pop culture mag NYLON, in fact founded NYLON Records and signed the Plastiscines as its first act, after seeing them on the cover of French fashion and style magazine Citizen K.

Lit up on La Cigale’s glamorous and majestic stage like some hot guitar wielding Charlie’s Angels, their slender silhouettes are framed by the impressive light show of flashing strobes. Track Loser is met with an impressive and zealous crowd call and response while Myspace favourites,’Pas Avec Toi and Barcelona (both tracks taken from the group’s new album) demonstrate the bands ability to thrash out tight hooks and nifty fretwork, akin to the super cool nonchalance of The Long Blondes or the hearty backing harmonies of their punk rock predecessors, The Donnas .

One criticism to the set list ce soir would be the not-so-inventive, or indeed necessary, covers of both You’re No Good (first a hit for Linda Ronstadt and not to be mistaken for either the Van Halen or Aswad interpretation] as well as the 60′s classic, Be My Baby. Neither of these rather tired and uninspiring revivals compare to the bands own material which oozes class and confidence.

The girls saunter off after their double (yes, double) encore to a raucous, and more than deserved, final applause. With a glittering array of talent and charm as well as a powerful on-stage prowess, Plasticines truly represent a new rock elite.  Mon dieu, save these queens.

Ms Jones @ Café de Paris, 28.11.10

*originally posted on thegirlsare
Just down the road from the famed Nouveau Casino, Café de Paris is nestled amongst the heart of this capital’s café culture. Head towards the dimly lit back room and a haughty old theatre stage, with some strategically placed ambient lighting and the benefits of an original stained glass ceiling, is transformed into the perfect setting to immerse oneself in a sea of sombre sound waves.

You won’t find much on Ms Jones if you look her up online. Her Myspace is sparse with only mere song samples to go on and no Wikipedia account in her honour either (a resource so easily used as an, albeit not entirely accurate, preface to a band nowadays) Yet, perhaps, this is Ms Jones‘ intention and simply the only elements she needs rather than some crudely constructed online biography like so many of her peers.

Her approach is raw and sometimes a little unconventional (with some eccentric tuning towards the end of the set) yet there is something endearing about the way she exposes herself so wholly and vividly to tonight’s audience. Like Kristin Hersch‘s  haunting opening chords and timid bleats upon the track Sno Cat, the sadness in the room is palpable.

However, for a reviewer that’s more of a wild cat than a sno cat, the performance is ultimately a little bleak; the fragility in her singing is, at times, almost too painful to watch. There are some impressive collaborations though during the set with both friend, Phillip Lamb and fellow performer on the bill tonight, Richard Robert who, as an aside, is a remarkably talented guitar player and linguist – entertaining us with songs in three different languages, no less!

Perhaps, someone should pen that Wikipedia page for Ms Jones after all, if for nothing more than to build upon the bones of this stripped bare songstress. A fan of Hirsh’s delicate discordance and Patti Smith‘s more tender testaments? This petite françaises quivering anguish is certainly for you.

Listen for yourself, here :

Rendez Vous 002 - John and Jehn and Friends, Soirée @ Fleche d'Or, 09.11.10

 *originally posted on thegirlsare

With their new recording, Down Our Streets out this month, John and Jehn are back on familiar soil after making quite a name for themselves in Old Blighty over the last four years. Finding the time to chat before their soirée tonight at Fleche d’Or in Paris, we muse over their new [and clearly popular!] line of home-made merchandise, Jehn’s lesser known movie fame and pitch all things Brit against its French counter parts. So, have they ditched their café crème’s for cream teas and their oysters for eels, or are they still flying the flag for their Republic?

Read the full interview with the dazzling duo, here :

lundi 22 novembre 2010

Rendez-Vous 001: The Rambling Wheels

A ramble in the Swiss Alps...
Dressed up like some kind of hip, Swiss Hives, The Rambling Wheels certainly make a good first impression with their sharp suits and coiffured hair but is there more to this band than just top 'tasches and a good tailor? With the cold of winter nipping at their Furry Tales [co-incidentally the name of their most recent recording], The Rambling Wheels get cosy and cuddle up for a little rendez-vous as we talk about their countries fine time pieces, the great Surrealist Salvador Dali and the joys of the Rubix Cube. Lets get these Wheels in motion!

Chéri Amour: You've been a very busy band this summer playing a multitude of shows and festivals in Europe, how has that all been this going?
The Rambling Wheels: Very well! We’ve been busy touring mostly in Switzerland and France and had the chance to play in some great and important festivals. Besides the tour, we also recorded our new album between July and August... so we were on the road on week-ends and in the studio during the week !
CA: Having recently moved to Paris myself, there a few things that I am already missing from old Blighty [namely Tetley teabags, twixes and pork pies] can you name three essential items you always take on tour with you when you leave snowy Switzerland?
TRW: What we miss the most when we’re abroad is chocolate and cheese...OK, this might sound like a cliché but it’s true! Watches are easy to take with though so we’re always on time !

CA: As for the music scene in your homeland, all female 70s punk band, Kleenex became the first Swiss Wave export hit, reaching the UK Charts and nabbing a contract with [the still celebrated today] Rough Trade Records but what is the music scene like in Switzerland now?
TRW: There are a lot of very good bands in Switzerland, but it’s still very hard for them to get known abroad.... What is special in Switzerland is that we are kind of 3 countries in one ! There are a lot of musical and cultural differences between the French, Italian and German parts. We’re confident about the future of Swiss music though; things are moving now and some artists could really reach an international level, people like Sophie Hunger or Young Gods.
CA: I am sure you have often been compared to bands like The Hives and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion for your hot riffs and rock and roll swank but how would you describe yourselves and what would you say are your influences as a band?
TRW: Yes, we’ve already been compared to the Hives, probably because of the stage outfits and some sharp punk riffs... but we consider ourselves more like an electro-rock band, with a proper identity. We were influenced by 60’s and rock’n’roll music at the beginning and are now moving to something more new-wave, with electro-sound and synthesizers.
CA: As readers of my blog will know, you are a very well dressed bunch of fellows, indeed, and sport both impressive haircuts and facial hair. Would you say that the look and style of The Rambling Wheels is an important aspect of the band?
TRW: Yes, of course. We always considered the band image part of the whole project. We like developing a strong visual identity and, of course, moustaches, outfits and naked cats [check out the bands myspace for this] catch the audience’s attention!

CA: Who had the better moustache, Salvador Dali or Friedrich Nietzsche?
TRW: Salvador Dali

CA: Your album 'Furry Tales' was released last November, are there plans for more recorded Rambling Wheels material soon?
TRW: As we mentioned, we’ve been busy recording a new album this summer in between touring which will be released in March 2011 in Switzerland ! We hope that a release will follow in France close to that date.

CA: We Are Scientists actually did a series of comedy lectures alongside their last release, would you ever consider doing anything similar?
TRW: We like shooting lots of funny videos, like acoustic sessions in the lake or wherever. One day we’ll have more time to make all our dreams come true; who know we might even shoot a Rambling Wheels’ movie ?!

CA: Finally, according to your biography, The Rambling Wheels play rock and roll with real soul but in a game of rock, paper, scissors who would win?
TRW: We prefer playing Rubik’s cube or chess, sorry about that....

A band full of style, wit and clearly a grasp on a good game or two, The Rambling Wheels seem to have cracked the colourful cubed conundrum. Surely it's only a matter of time before they crack Europe too?

Check out the band and get all the latest tour dates at

mercredi 17 novembre 2010

Male Bonding + Papier Tigre @ Fleche d'Or, 06.11.10

It feels as if Papier Tigre need some sort of introductory paragraph all to themselves being A) a French band and B) a GREAT French band. Sounding like some happy collaboration between post-hardcore New Yorkers, Rival Schools and the growl of Welsh alt-rockers, Mclusky, Papier Tigre are certainly not what their quirky, almost Twee, name might suggest. In fact, they are loaded with dynamics and innovative time signatures, not to mention a hefty percussion section. To wit in game form: the Paper certainly has the rock wrapped up.

Self-confessed Fugazi and Q and not U fans, Papier Tigre display an unorthodox approach to a lot of things much like their heroes: with no bass player [both guitarists using an impressive selection of effects and sounds to create a huge sub octave out of nowhere], their unusual song formats and their inventive approach to the art of live performance. Stationed in a linear form across the stage here tonight at Fleche d'Or, drummer Pierre Parois of the group is a tour de force of poly-rhythmic complexity and power and Eric Pasquereau's snaps and cries out over the beats in twisted rhythms. Yet it is the bewildering and bearded lead guitarist Arthur de la Grandiere who is arguably the most dazzling component of this trio. Dabbling between an onslaught of Sabbath style riffs to delicate prog rock intricacies, he is caught hammering harmonics one minute only to then pick up a drum stick in order to beat an extra snare drum the next. He even grapples with a maraca to double up on percussion at one point and one can't help but wonder how many band members one man can represent?

With a will-they-won't-they reunion for Rival Schools looming, fans of the post-hardcore group would do well to cease checking up daily on the bands myspace page for news of their forthcoming record and instead head over the Atlantic Ocean to Nantes, France. Papier Tigre's name may suggest that they are harmless but, in fact, they are a threat to bands everywhere with killer riffs, relentless touring and a winning hand; the one holding the maraca, that is.

Someone once said [or, indeed, branded the term] Grunge is Dead. 16 years on from the days of Cobain and co, it would seem though that the sentiment of the lo-fi, hazy fuzz of the Nirvana era is still rife in the form of Dalston trio, Male Bonding. The bands set is a whirlwind retreat to yonder days of abrasive drones and slacker pop hits. They may not carry the charm of a polished pop group or the guts of a heady rock act but Male Bonding excel in raw, no nonsense grunge greatness.

Their set boasts the majority of their recent full length record, Nothing Hurts, which not surprisingly was released on the infamous US label, Sub Pop just this year. The melancholy hook of 'All Things This Way' and spiky gem 'Crooked Scene' dash back and forth from intense feedback to poetic trills and chorus coos. 'Year's Not Long' is a frantic blast of angsty strums and bounding bass lines charging through horse canter style fills. The sentiment of the melody is a resounding one too; this band have certainly made a mark on the music scene in the brief time they have been performing together.

No, Male Bonding don't offer banterous quips or 'a new sound' but the one they've brought back from the shoe-gazing and dirty days of the 90s has been sorely missed. This band are a refreshing change from NME tartlets and asymmetric haircuts, knocking out a fresh rock energy which they do shockingly well and with a nonchalance that is both admirable and drenched in punk [or should that be teen] spirit.

As line-ups go, these two groups of males bond very well here in the city of light, ce soir.

dimanche 14 novembre 2010

REVIEW : The Corin Tucker Band, 1000 Years. [Kill Rock Stars]
*Originally posted on

Riot grrrls everywhere wept like Alice when their Wonderland unravelled in 2006, as Sleater Kinney announced their indefinite hiatus. Queens of femme politics and one of the essential rock groups of the 90s, their barbed tongues and banshee wails [not to mention, numerous famed albums] were bottled up and marked ‘Play Me’ for future generations. Many trawled through Google searches and blogs to locate the respective women’s other projects; Janet Weiss released albums with Quasi and Stephen Malkmus’ Jicks, while guitarist Carrie Brownstein now hosts her own music blog for NPR; the States principal public radio service.

So, what became of Corin Tucker? The vehement vixen of the group has remained oddly quiet since the bands announcement some four years ago. However, after time home-making with her family in Portland, Oregon, SK fans will be pleased to find Tucker putting down the family scrapbooks and embarking on making her own memories with this new record. Those expecting to be thrust back into the bewildering and huge sounds of The Woods will have to look elsewhere however [perhaps, Janet and Carrie's new super-group, Wild Flag] as this album is a slow burner and more about sentiment and a wholesome honesty than high kicks and rock riffs.

Dragon [a track originally aimed for The Twilight Saga's, New Moon], is sombre and anguished, the delicate finger-picked guitar melodies sprinkled throughout Tucker’s haunting vocal and, like a New Moon itself, almost celestial. Riley and Half a World Away, hint back at the era of One Beat, the latter in particular, with its kinetic and sporadic percussion as Tucker runs drills with her spiralling vocals and militant guitar thrashes. But, it is in the track Doubt where her famous caterwaul is finally unleashed; and my, how we’ve missed it.

Such a juxtaposition between the timid and soft whisper to the distinctive [and sorely missed] wail is really what makes this album so compelling. It’s almost like Tucker wants us to realise that she is more than just a one trick Portland pony with a killer chorus. She has made a home for herself but she has made some changes too.

“That’s the artistic, itchy personality”, Tucker says. “You’re constantly trying to do something different”.
Different she did: this album is a heady mix of sentiment and fragility alongside vigour and passion but all housed in the same formidable femme. The Corin Tucker Band may not be the trip back to The Woods we were expecting but this journey is well worth embarking on too.

Now, that’s certainly one for the scrapbook.

dimanche 7 novembre 2010

Christy and Emily @ L'International, 28.10.10

*Originally posted on - *

As the name suggests, Christy and Emily is quite literally the musical amalgamation of both New York rocker, Christy Edwards and Columbia trained pianist, Emily Manzo. More like the John and Jen of Brooklyn rather than the comedy coupling Chas and Dave, Christy and Emily combine their velvety vocals and whirling keys over a plateau of layered guitars and sounds.

Tonight's date at l'International is nestled in amongst the bands current European tour and in honour of their new record, 'No Rest'[produced by Hans Joachim Irmler of 'krautrockers' Faust, no less]. For this evening, despite the initial duo reference within the name, the two are, en fait, joined by an on-stage drummer with sparing fills and sombre floor tom that only adds to the groups live intensity.

The melody to set opener, 'Firefly,' flits through the crowd as Christy builds up layers of balanced and measured tones, only to enter the throng with two drum sticks in hand, weaving in and out of audience members like a mobile metronome. Edwards is certainly loop pedal savvy; an element to the bands sound that really sets them apart, enabling them to create a sound far more extensive than one would expect from this perfect pairing.

Even the on-stage banter of the group illustrates the true power of this bands fragile folk; they divulge that even the burly hardcore rockers they recently shared a stage with in Prague admitted to weeping through their penultimate track, 'Guava Tree'. As the delicate first chords swoop in, it's easy to see why.

Like the luminous firefly herself, Christy and Emily emit a light that is both powerful and intense. Tonight, Paris is under its bright glare...and it feels electric.


mercredi 3 novembre 2010

London Calling

Never one to stray too far from Old Blighty, I am pleased to announce that I am officially the new Parisian contributor for thegirlsare and will be submitting reviews to the lovely London lot beginning with my tga debut at L'International last week.

thegirlsare is an independent, collaborative project, celebrating and supporting women in music. As a fan of the femme fronted band myself, it's a pleasure to be on board such a fab writing team. Not to mention, writing over the continent and knowing all the folks back home can see it, has to make me that little bit closer to a sorely missed Sunday Lunch..right?

Chin chin à tous!

lundi 1 novembre 2010

Sweet Like Chocolate

Salon du Chocolate @ Parc des Expositions- 30/10/10 - 01/11/10

All this weekend, whilst the world celebrates a spooky Hallows eve by carving out plump pumpkins and the impossible task of bobbing for an apple, the French are far more content to cash in their candy for something a little harder and something that Parc des Expositions seems to have in abundance; something, like chocolate.

Down in the 15th of France's capital, Parc des Expos has opened its doors to all those craving a sugar hit displaying and showcasing a magnitude of sweet treats and chocolate creators that would baffle even Willy Wonka and his bubblegum wallpaper. Not to mention, there is no need for fancy dress nor a golden ticket here either [although entrance is a little steep so you are well advised to take full advantage of all the free samples!]

From the Baileys stand offering out petite sized shots of the creamy liqueur to the rainbow coloured macaroons all lined up like the jars of coloured bon bons in a sweet shop, Salon du Chocolate really is a chocoholics' dream.

So, whilst I hunt around the local markets and supermarchés for my perfect pumpkin, it would seem this weekend in Paris, it's all about cocoa and Kalua rather than cackles and cauldrons. Many leave the exhibition hall stuffed with roasted pralines and bitter coffee cups while the show draws to a close with a catwalk which even features models sporting the stuff; as novel creations and couture are all fashioned out of the cocoa nectar.

Despite all this, like Snow White to the poisoned apple, I am still missing my bucket filled with the crisp fruit and the cheeky toothy grin of an organic orange lantern. All this chocolate contouring is impressive but can they carve a pumpkin?

dimanche 17 octobre 2010

I'm Fresh! You're Pretty + Bryan Smith Industry +The Rambling Wheels @ L'International, 11.10.10

Initially, it's hard not to associate The Rambling Wheels with The Hives. The two bands rocking the same sharp white suits and brandishing similar coiffured locks including some very commendable facial hair in both camps [each with simiarly impressive titles - Dr Matt Destruction/Mr Jon Fox] It would seem then, that the art of good old fashioned Rock and Roll is rife in both Sweden and Switzerland as this Swiss three piece swagger and swank through a set of frivolity and showmanship. Hardcore musicians may dismiss all this jollity but when the boys adorn 5 unknowing girls from the audience with cardboard cut out guitars to join them on stage for their last song, you can't dispute the entertainment factor. Like Roy Lichenstein's take on Pop Art, The Rambling Wheels are the perfect pop tarts sketching songs with the three primary elements; simple hooks from the Blues, jangly, 60s rhythms with Red hot hooks and mellow Yellow merriment. Just as Pop Art didn't strike out with the most radical stance towards Art, The Rambling Wheels aren't rocket science but they sure make a big bang.

The Bryan Smith Industry honestly lost me at their questionable band name. Yet, knowing not to judge a book by its cover perhaps, there really is a darker side to this French foursome hinted at through their name sake and Stephen King fictional star, Bryan Smith? In short, no there isn't. Fronted by a French looking Chace Crawford [Gossip Girl reference, anyone?] The Bryan Smith Industry has a very out dated and tired sound for such an ultimately, young band – a kind of growly 90s Puddle Of Mudd [wah] vocal, one song is relatively pleasing but a whole set is a bit abrasive. One could argue that the boys are Paris based and, après tout, that is fundamentally what I should be exposing on here but it would be a dismal thing to assume this is really all France's capital has to offer.

NB. Even the bands press pictures were outdated and with predictable [and overused] fish eye lens thus, couldn't bear to tar my blog with one but on the plus side, I think putting effort into a good moustache deserves additional photo space for The Rambling Wheels on here.

There was one resounding factor that led me here to see French electro trio, I'm Fresh! You're Pretty at L'International tonight; anyone that can conjure up an electro doused version of the 2 Unlimited classic, No Limit is a definite winner in my eyes [no, seriously check out their myspace!] Look past this 90s nostalgia though and you will find some equally admirable originals. New single, 'Everywhere, Anymore, Anyone,' is bubbly mix of fizzing synths and sugary guitars, with Chupa Chup chants like that of sweet sixteen cheerleaders. Their drummer, and the bands lead singer, is like one part electro robot, one part Steven from Blood Red Shoes [admittedly, not in appearance] with his quick wit and yelps. If Paris had a sound it would definitely be this, just like B.R.I.A.N himself says in the bands former single, 'I'm from Paris, it's crazy! The only thing left to ponder is if they take requests as I am pretty sure that The Outhere Brothers equally deserve some sort of revival....

Horse Feathers, Oh No Ono, Wild Palms, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ Fleche D'Or, 08.10.10

Making my return trip to Fleche D'Or tonight, complete with another cheeky guest list spot courtesy of The Parisian, Bird on The Wire [a London based promotions act, 'bringing the best in new music' to many a European city] have cooked up a collection of assorted representatives for tonight's show and so we are treated to Paris' very own International Song Contest.

Arriving just in time to hear the last tame whisper of Horse Feathers, their music hits me with about as much force as that of a feather. A shame as, hailing from the same state as the late, great Sleater Kinney and Gossip, I was foolish enough to believe all things from Portland Oregon were born and bred on rock and roll. Sadly, Sam Cooper [the front man of the quartet] got a banjo and Mandolin from Santa for Christmas rather than an electric guitar. Not even the [frankly remarkable] discovery that they are actually on the same legendary Kill Rock Stars label as SK, can distract from the fact that they are folk. Feathery, flimsy, feeling-less folk*
*NB. See Damien Rice and/or Mumford and Sons for references.

There was certainly an element of surprise, having never heard Oh No Ono before, when the lead singers first helium harmony broke from his voice box. As if fronted by a Danish Billy Corgan, the bands impressive array of [admittedly rather high] harmonies soars over a sparkling plateau of tinkling keys, whirling rhythms and psychedelic, cyber groove. Hailing from Denmark, a country renowned for bringing us Saturday night pop tart Whigfield, fantastic-plastic Aqua and not to mention, good bacon, this Copenhagen quintet are prime synth pop rump. There are elements of MGMT'S follow up, and controversially more eccentric, album Oracular Spectacular; particularly myspace title track, Helplessly Young. Their songs, and performance, are both tender and perfectly cooked up; a Danish prize export.

Now for a taste of England, Wild Palms dispel my homesick blues with familiar, and hearty, London accents [as well as their 80s chunky knits.] Newly signed to One Little Indian, Wild Palms surge with looming and distorted bass drones and jump start guitars like that of their punk predecessors, Gang of Four. Their somewhat roguish charm is thanks to awkward and angular front man, Lou Hill whose spoken melodies and equally irksome chants are tinged with Talking Heads hooks and Beefhearts burly command. Previous single, 'Deep Dive' stands out tonight with it's reverb drenched guitar chords and tribal beats. Whilst Hills' homely howls swirl around the venue, the haunting memory of new single 'Draw In Light' is enough to make me come over all patriotic. Taking the post punk formula and making a few welcome and innovative additions, Wild Palms prove that British really is Best.


Tonight's final act, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin [who frankly deserve an abbreviation for such an annoyingly long name] complete the all inclusive feel to the night, currently on a European tour from the States. Rather dismally, however, they don't score very highly, reminding me of a poor man's Fountains of Wayne [and that's saying something, not being the most formidable band in themselves] squeaky clean, perfect pop hooks, they don't even last the three song rule as I have a metro to catch and I never really liked Russian history anyway. SSLYBY as an abbreviation doesn't really work and neither does the Americano, indie bravado of this band. If you're looking for that, head for the classics, as Jimmy Eat World play this same venue just next month. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin; do they? Nil Point.

lundi 4 octobre 2010

Rivkah @ L'International, 27.09.10

L'International is a curious place. It oozes Art School bar with a dash of grimy Camden Club and thus, plays hosts to some of the freshest up and coming acts [internationally speaking, of course, name and all] within it's weathered and band sticker sodden walls.

Rivkah could be plainly described, and as her myspace insists on doing so, as a singer/songwriter; often playing the piano and/or synth. A far cry from reality, the suggestion is hardly alluring and only conjures up images of some coy mouse softly singing Sheryl Crow covers to a dismal crowd. Thankfully, as Sheryl so poignantly put in fact, these are the days when anything goes and Rivkah is a refreshing mix of haunting, layered harmonies and tinkering abstract noises and instruments.

Like Île-de-France's own Regina Spektor, Rivkah sprinkles bite size snippets of her vast [and very impressive] vocal range over layers of her own unorthodox approach to percussion and instruments; utilising the mic itself to tap out rhythms on the body of her piano and steadily building the sound of the band through only her sole self.

It is both intriguing and inspiring. At times, it is so French too that I am plunged into the familiar yet bygone days of Les Triplettes de Belleville or its English equivalent [and a thoroughly recommended film choice] Belleville Rendez-vous as her vocals spiral around one another like those of the 1930s ladies jazz trio.

Although not quite the same as the Triplets domicile jam session [the scene in the fancy restaurant] using just a newspaper, refrigerator, vacuum and bicycle wheel; Rivkah is truly imaginative and innovative in her approach to music and it is utterly captivating. She may not be from those parts but I certainly found a Belle in the Ville of Paris tonight. Now, all that's left is for her to branch out with that tired copy of Direct Soir on the Metro...

Belleville Rendez-vous -