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 Even the bands press pictures were outdated and with predictable [and overused] fish eye lens thus, couldn't bear to tar my blog with one but on the plus side, I think putting effort into a good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 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0286244/

The Light Fantastic

Nuit Blanche à Paris, 2 Oct 2010

Djeff Regottaz - Installation Reflexion!? @ Nuit Blanche
L'église-Saint-Paul-Saint-Denis, Rue Saint Antoine

Somewhere along the Seine on Saturday night, I do believe I uttered the exact phrase, 'I don't know how I would ever describe this to someone.' Despite this, as only modern art could, Nuit Blanche certainly demands some sort of discussion. So, whilst one of Paris' long standing contemporary art traditions sprawls into the evening, [and, in fact, the morn] is Nuit Blanche just another crazy contemporary art fad, or a shining light?

Entirely free and open to all, the ninth edition of Nuit Blanche was held here in this magical metropolis just this weekend. Unorthodox art installations reside in the cities churches and loom over it's bridges whilst other poignant visual art pieces are shown in some of Paris' finest theatre auditoriums. These were just a few of the things France's capital had to offer from Saturday evening through to the early hours of Sunday as floods of the French came from far and wide to witness this festival of light fantastic.

Created in 2002 by fun-loving mayor, Bertrand Delanoë (who is also responsible for Paris Plage, the ‘beach’ created along the Seine each summer, as well as the cities Vélib bike system), in partnership with deputy for culture, Christophe Girard, Nuit Blanche aims to bring art to the people in a once-a-year, free of charge extravaganza.

According to French press, it is reported that over 1.5 million people attended the cities acclaimed night of allure and artistry and it is apparent why as one meanders through a barrage of street performers dancing with fire to a curiously accessorised vision of the Hôtel de Ville, adorned with the phrase 'love differences' in a plethora of languages and colours.

No-one can ever really predict what they will see here in Paris; some of the best experiences are to be had wandering through the picturesque streets until you happen across something – in this case, it could be perusing the wide selection of socially labelled crockery in the gardens of Musée Carnavalet or a rare invite behind the doors of the Chambre Professionnelle Des Artisans Boulangers-Patissiers [quite frankly, a bakers Babylon!] only to leave with a goodie bag. Either way, I walked away with une petite pièce of Croissant as well as a piece of Paris, and all before bedtime.

Like the great Surrealist Artist himself, Rene Magritte might have mused; Nuit Blanche, ceci n'est pas juste une Nuit.