dimanche 26 septembre 2010

Heart Of Brass

A flurry of tiny metal trinkets adorn the Pont des Arts bridge where couples come bearing their lovers name upon an engraved lock. 'Love Padlocks', it would seem, are now somewhat of a trend, not just here in Paris but all over Europe.

Students in Hungary clamp their charms to a wrought-iron fence in a narrow street linking the mosque in the city's main square and the magnificent medieval cathedral either as a symbol of the struggle to complete the study program or a symbol of their commitment to one another. Similarly in Latvia, where newly-weds adorn the bridge with their tokens of devotion and then consequently throw the key into the lake. It's even stirred some sort of social communities. Take Germany, for example, where after locks began branding the Hohenzollern bridge's metal frame, the bridges operated threatened to remove them but was forced to relent in the face of public opposition.

So, with a multitude of Europeans now proclaiming their love in a more rigid man made material, is this an analogy for a more set and solid relationship? Not so in Paris, it would appear, where many of the little charms have their own codes to release them should one of the party wish to take back the token of love and perhaps, even reuse the same sentiment. It's the 21st century, we can't just lock down love on the first strike, right?

Fundamentally, the locks are a quirky and kitsch site as one strolls towards the Rive Gauche here in gay Paris but for me, a lock [primarily, the throwing away the key scenario] conjures up images of a prison cell and a long stint in the same secured environment and I'm not quite sure that's the sentiment I want hanging over me or my suitors. A far more touching story in my opinion [be it fictional] is that the same bridge is also, used in the final episode of Sex and The City where Carrie is swept off her feet [it's taken like 7 series!] by her Big romance.

For now, I'm going to say I'm an advocate for the conservative code keeper, after all it took Miss Bradshaw a whole anthology of episodes to bag Big. Under lock and key seems a little foreboding to me and when it comes to matters of the heart, I'd much rather be classy than brassy...

vendredi 24 septembre 2010

A Day In The Marais

Andy Warhol, «Warhol et la danse» 11 septembre au 16 octobre 2010

7, rue Debelleyme, 75003 Paris


Rachel WhitereadGalerie Nelson Freeman, 75004


mardi 21 septembre 2010


I don't quite know what to make of Lilly Wood and The Prick. Many a renowned act has been built on the band name formation; Bill Haley and His Comets, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and, more recently, Florence and the Machine but does a plus in your band name equal plus points with the listener?

They certainly seem to have won over an impressive portion of the Parisians with over 10,000 fans on their Facebook page, the duo [who are co-incidentally based in France's capital] describe themselves as 'folk electronic pop'. Tune into the recent video for their single, 'Down The Drain,' and you'll find Lilly dolled up as a sparkly, chic version of Snow White which almost reminds me of pop tartlet Katy Perry and her eclectic style and props. Lilly's crisp, sweet vocals, like that of the poisoned apple, are sprinkled over the minimal sounds of a haunting acoustic guitar in the verse akin to the spine tingling harmonies we see in our very own Brit Based electro trio, Chew Lips.

There are some other elements to the band though that do steer away from this sultry Snow White and into a far more generic pop/folk format [even with a heightened American accent in myspace track 'Hey it's OK' that is not too dissimilar to that of radio friendly and 'born secular' Jenny Lewis]. Some of this can become quite repetitive and the velvety vocals of 'Down The Drain' are far more pleasing to the air than that of the, almost nauseating, chorus melody of 'Water Ran' – 'Don't you like the way we made love that day.'

Who knows, maybe Lilly and The Prick are the next Florence and The Machine here in Paris but, for me, a simple equation [just like the addition in the name] better illustrates my point – increased inclusion of clattering chords + extended electro contribution – generic and bland pop pap = Definite ones to watch.

Lilly and The Prick play La Maroquinerie, Paris on 24.09.10

dimanche 19 septembre 2010

Grrrr Block Party - le quartier Montmartre - Fortune + We Are Enfant Terrible @ La Machine, 17/09/10

There is something going down in the neighbourhood of Montmartre this evening and, as a newcomer to Paris, I feel it only fitting I investigate this further. Held through the idyllic and quaint streets of Montmartre, over 30 boutiques, bars and galleries are partaking in the second hosting of 'Grrrr Block Party'. Parisians spill out into the tiny back streets whilst the crème de la crème of DJs and performers delight and entertain. It's comparable to that of a city street carnival only on a much vaster scale and all the pubs involved are cosy, independent establishment with surly French barmen stashing away the money for each Grolsch beer [putting the Grrrr into the Block Party] in the drawer of an old bureau. Even little corner shops have installed and partitioned off their aisles to become a bar in themselves and are offering their cans at a reduced price. There is just such a great feeling here; a youthful and vibrant spirit soaked in rose wine and Kronenbourg [that's mille six cent soixante quatre]. As for the [frankly stupid] motorists who try and drive down the roads here, as the party envelopes all of the arrondissement, they are simply met with jeers and their car suspension to be severely tested as they are rocked to and fro by the roof rack. Monkeys on safari or l'espirit du block?

The after party that follows this evenings soiree is hosted at The Machine which is directly next to the iconic Moulin Rouge. Amongst the DJs down in the Machine's glitzy basement, there are two bands on the bill tonight, both of whom are co—incidentally Paris based. We Are Enfant Terrible are an odd collection of people to look at on stage. They comprise of a guitarist, [and clear brains behind most of the musical arrangements and use of the laptop] a drummer/total showman [who spends most of his time bouncing off his drum stool and largely playing the fool] as well as a front woman [with a very fragile frame and in a shocking scarlet jumpsuit] holding the mic and audiences attention. The songs are a heady mix of electro and punk but their live performance is rather ruined thanks to the parading percussion section; at one point, the drummer actually ascends the side of the stage to make some kind of heroic dive back onto his kit but this is more stupid man than super. The last song and the band bash out a brave but fantastic spin on Nirvana's 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter,' which really plays on their dynamics of digital beats and purring Parisian vocals. In short, definitely listen to We Are Enfant Terrible and if you ever get the chance to see them live, position yourself as far away from the drummer as possible.

Oddly enough, I actually reviewed Fortune's album 'Staring At The Ice Melt,' when I was writing in Norwich and, with a flattering 7/10, [which speaks very highly from my normally barbed tongue] I am very excited by the fortune of finding the Parisian pop tarts headlining tonight's bill. Fortune, in fact, began life as Lionel Pierres' solo project but has been effortlessly translated with sparkling synths and swelling bass lines for the live arena. Fortunes sound is stuffed and drizzled with hot pop hooks, jagged guitar chords and vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on a Hot Hot Heat record. Their songs, and lyrical content, embrace going out, celebrating and finding paradise; the natural musings of a group brewed in the city of love. The drum outro of their latest single ‘Bully’ alone would make anyone want to sit in their bedroom alongside their laptop and cook up similar electro goodness. A fortuitous co-incident finding the band on at the end Montmartre's marvel of a street party, j’adore Fortune.

samedi 18 septembre 2010

Fang Island + The French Horn Rebellion @ Fleche D'Or : 10/09/10

I found a great English site just before departing à Paris listing a multitude of things to do in the city from clubs, to art installations, to live shows. One of the many shows listed on here were Brooklyn based bands, [I am easing into the Parisian music scene!] Fang Island and The French Rebellion.

Fang Island take to the stage first this evening although don't seem to have dressed up for the occasion at all; both lead men retaining their hoodies throughout the entire set which both puzzles and unimpresses me. Penned as 'math rock' in the blurb for the show tonight, I'm prepared for the asymmetrical time signatures and angular chords  but sadly as the three guitars kick in [a little excessive, perhaps?!] it seems more like cock rock to me. There are A LOT of synced riffs here. On a more positive note, the bass player is very charming and does speak very good French to the moderately enthused crowd. Plus, he dabbles on the synth during a few of the bands numbers which is both a welcome and well executed break from the onslaught of strings.

The French Horn Rebellion are, as the name suggests, proudly boasting the use of a French Horn throughout their set, however, this is much more classy than brassy. Labelled a happy equation of Shychild and Chromeo by the NME, I am already excited and as the sparkling synths begin, I am hustled into a panting and heavily adoring throng. Having already bagged the Single of The Week with Les Inrockupitables [this French music magazine now incompasses everyday politics as well as cultural news, cinema listings and reviews] it's easy to see why this duo of keys is such a hit. Their Europhoric sound spans out over grime, disco and, dare I say it, the eighties. Not to mention, they make a hell of a sound for a two piece...or does the horn make them a trio? Either way, a French Horn was certainly what Paris has been missing; join the Rebellion now.



jeudi 16 septembre 2010

Home Sweet Home

From buying bread to taking their morning coffee, Parisians have certainly elevated everyday living into an art form. As for where they actually reside after carrying out these chic daily tasks is anyone's guess. Indeed, it is a very difficult task for anyone to locate accommodation in France's capital. Particularly when you are a student and on a meagre budget [I happen to fall into both of these categories].

Trawling through the papers and internet adverts, I have become skilled at spotting the inevitable scam artists offering their à la mode appartment for an impossible 200 euros a month. You just have to send over all your details [and the hefty deposit, of course!] having never actually seen the place you are set to live in bar the selection of modified catalogue pictures that have been cleverly attached to your return email...

Luckily, my deposit and little pennies intact, I do manage to secure a few potential viewings.  Even then the pickings are slim. Arriving a few minutes late at one appointment, you are met by a furious and elderly old man who continues to show you around the potential room. Foolishly, you believe the first door he opens to be part of the home you will actually be staying in; lavish, jacquard print curtains frame the windows, antique Queen Anne style chairs stand haughtily dans le salon, it certainly is bijoux. He cruelly, however, leads you past this Parisian delight and to a far more bleak looking entrance to the back stairs. Six flights up [and sans lift!] you are shown to a room that, quite frankly, resembles a cell. There is the luxury of maybe a 30cm gap in the wall that could be crudely labelled as 'a window'. The shower is down the ['Shining' style] corridor. I walk briskely in fear of spotting the two demonic twins somewhere along it and leave via the back entrance vowing to contact him in hurried French.

It took me a week to hunt down my final lodgings and I couldn't be more pleased. Now to find the best boulangerie here and drink my morning coffee [tea in my case - I am English, after all!] with a certain smugness...