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?