mercredi 6 avril 2011

Poly Styrene, Generation Indigo

Future Noise Music
March 2011

Once described by Billboard as the “archetype for the modern-day feminist”, Poly Styrene was the unforgettable front woman of punk pioneers Xray Spex and is renowned for her discordant vocals and ball busting witticisms. Thirty years on from the band’s shambling, musical rebellion and this iconic female figure of Brit punk is back. With the help of uber producer Martin Glover (AKA Youth from Killing Joke), Generation Indigo is Styrene’s latest solo effort and is a kaleidoscopic view into music genres as the singer strives to move away from old punk tricks.

Worry not loyal fans, there is still some of X Ray Spex‘s signature sounds here. ‘No Rockefeller’ is a sauntering summer number contemplating issues of race while a Spex style sax plays out over Styrene’s smooth vocals. Similarly, ‘Code Pink Dub’s’ offbeat guitar strums and driving bass lines are reminiscent of her fellow 70s sirens, The Slits with Styrene’s reggae rap and pulsing beats.

By contrast, new single, ‘Virtual Boyfriend’, is a step into the modern age for Styrene commenting on the dating troubles of a 2000 teen – “we haven’t seen each other at all, text or a missed call, myspace friend that’s all…” The track, (co-incidentally picked as Video of the Week on 6 music’s Nemone’s show in light of its release last week) is laden with sparkling synths and and 80′s cyber vocals, not too dissimilar to electro duo, Robots In Disguise.

A hearty release to consume, Generation Indigo clearly serves up an exotic range of styles and at some points, you can’t help but wish the ambitious front woman had stuck with just one. The moments of genius lie in Styrene’s ability to hark back effortlessly to those ska sprinkled sounds of the 70′s rather than the album’s chirpy pop hits about her love of rubber soles and coloured canvases that all seems a little contrived.
Poly Styrene once sang the infamous line ‘”People think little girls should be seen and not heard” – thanks to this release, a whole new generation (Indigo or not) can still hear her strong female voice.

*originally posted on thegirlsare


*originally posted on thegirlsare

New York bands are cool. C’mon, there’s no denying this. From the nonchalant swagger of The Strokes to their punk predecessors, The Ramones, the Big Apple is responsible for a plethora of hipsters who all know their way around a great melody. Coasting are no exception to this, despite their small geographical placement a few miles or so west in the NY borough of Brooklyn. But as the Sex and The City starlet, Carrie Bradshaw proudly states ‘Brooklyn is the New Manhattan’, yah?

Geography aside, Coasting are comprised of Fiona Campbell (drums) and Madison Farmer (guitar). The band’s sound is an eclectic and invigorating mix of everything from surf rock to riot grrrl greatness to a lo-fi ambiance not too dissimilar to NME darlings, Warpaint. An obvious comparison in style for Campbell’s primal drums is Sleater Kinney‘s Janet Weiss and this is not a likeness doled out on a mere whim. Hell no, Campbell can drum. The intense and frenzied tom rolls of Same Old Same Oldare reminiscent of Weiss’ spine tingling tom work on Sleater Kinney single, ’Entertain’. Campbell’s ‘other’ band, Vivian Girls, would make for another lazy reference but there’s a spray of surf in Coasting’s sound and even a sense of twee pop in their bitter-sweet girl group vocals.

The all girl duo met while working for DIY godfather Todd P building stages, taking door money and tending makeshift bars late into the evening. There’s certainly an undercurrent of his DIY approach to their recordings and song writing structures too. The group’s method of composition is centred on hanging out, jamming and intuitively running with what sounds right. With tracks titles, like ’Snoozefest’ and ’Hots for Teachers’, this pair ultimately excel in youthful exuberance and FUN. Their Cramps-esque guitars stylings are soaked in New York grunge cool but also, from over the waters, angsty grunge strums that are not a far cry from Male Bonding‘s similarly raw riffs.

Both the Dalston trio and Coasting share a sound that makes for a welcome retreat to yonder days of abrasive drones and slacker pop hits and that’s certainly a sound worth riding the wave of…

Paper Dollhouse, A Box Painted Black

*originally posted on thegirlsare

Many lead singers take the plunge into solo careers and all with varying degrees of results. After the release of Stevie Nick‘s solo album, following her extensive career in Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stone deemed her “The reigning Queen of Rock and Roll”. Courtney Love could’ve only wished for the same reaction to her solo offering, America’s Sweetheart which instead, only saw her ‘reform’ Hole as a guise for her, ultimately, solo endeavours.

Paper Dollhouse is the work of Astrud Steehouder, vocalist and guitarist in London three piece The Rayographs. A Box Painted Black is her debut album and sees Steehouder following the footsteps of Nicks and co and stepping out on her own. Inspired by surreal and Gothic moving pictures like Czech classic, Valerie and her Week of Wonders and band name donor, Paperhouse, Steehouder has created a transgressive collection of folk tinged songs dense with intensity and draped in a brooding backdrop.

Track ‘Loved You More Than Ever’ is a dark and bewildering art performance piece which yearns for a cascade of flickering images to be shown during its swirling vocal progressions and Steehouder’s meandering monologue. It seems only apt then to hear that Paper Dollhouse has recently been working with photographer and writer Nina Bosnic in a live capacity using a variety of sonic and visual techniques including an old slide projector, a Dictaphone and prismatic imagery, to create a show as haunting as it is bare.
Similarly, track ‘Black Oak Tree’ deserves to play out on the edit credits of a classic western movie, with its sombre and Cash-esque Blues riffs and lyrics such as “words carved into the dirt track, so long”. Like the raw and initial demos of Dry that Polly Harvey spun out way back in 1992, A Box Painted Black is a collection of songs bound in emotive tonality as well as a fresh nativity.

As Steehouder says herself, it is “music for scenes in films that haven’t yet happened – but when they do, she is sure to be at the forefront of this cinematic new wave approach.

mercredi 30 mars 2011


With acts like James Blake, Chase and Status and even Miss Spears playing homage to electronica beats in her recent release, dubstep is rife in charts. In a genre that has long been dominated by almost entirely male producers, the dub scene is having somewhat of a facelift and one visage at the fore front of this change is Australian dubstep artist/producer, Kito.

Read the introducing piece on dubstep down under, here :

dimanche 20 mars 2011

Ladyfest Paris 2011!!!

Esben and The Witch @ Point Ephémère, 28.02.11

Brighton is a city renowned for spawning an impressive array of starlets, from the father of electronic dance, Fatboy Slim to the recent rock duo, Blood Red Shoes. Who knew, alongside these indie delights, this sunny seaside shore had something as potent as Esben and The Witch brewing. Tonight’s show at Point Ephémère is the band’s final day of their European tour and as the ominous smoke fills the stage like the theatrical welcoming of a villain, Esben and The Witch greet Paris with their eerie drone.

*Photo by Cheri Amour

The Joy Formidable @ Fleche d'Or - 25.02.11

The Joy Formidable first released their début single ‘Austere’ in 2008, a year when (alarmingly) Canadian crooners Nickleback climbed to the top of the charts once more. In light of this, The Joy Formidable‘s expansive and ethereal sounds were a beacon of light in a sea of otherwise mundane indie. Three years on and Chad Kroegar and co. have just announced plans for their seventh, yes seventh, release. Yet, there is something to be said for a gradual career building and, with their début album The Big Roar finally released just last month, The Joy Formidable certainly prove that slow and steady really does win the race. I was lucky enough to catch up with the Welsh trio before their sold out show in Paris last week to talk about influences, a possible Febreeze sponsorship and incorporating cannons into their stage show…

*Photo by Cheri Amour

jeudi 17 février 2011

Thomas Tantrum,The Birdsong EP

*originally posted on thegirlsare

A surprise shift in direction makes for a welcome return. Thomas Tantrum are back and there's not a hissy fit in sight....

Chances are you will have already heard of Thomas Tantrum. The band, who list Lily Allen as one of their dazzling celeb fans, originally released their first EP in 2008 and made households everywhere sing along to the bands bratty whine of “I wanna talk”, like some kind of teen, well…tantrum. Three years on from their hazy days splashed over the pages of Artrocker and NME, where are they now, you might ask?

New release, Birdsong is the bands latest offering and, as the group bounce back with Cure like guitar jangle, it’s clear a lot has changed for this Southampton four piece in the time they’ve been missing from the spotlight. Gone are the tired rhymes and almost-cringe worthy-rap spats of former tracks like ‘What, What, What’, with its almost Kate Nash accented narrative. Instead, the bands front woman, Megan Thomas’ graceful vocals saunter through the whirling soundscapes with the same shining brilliance as Juanita Stein. Title track, ‘Face the Music’, shows that the band have done just that and seemed to have grown up, not only lyrically but musically too. Now, rather than sounding like some frat party hissy fit, they have the rhythmic swagger and reverb delicacies of bands like The Howling Bells and NME darlings, Warpaint.

The EP’s closer is an epic and empowering piano led ballad and something one could never have guessed would be the product of these former Talk Talk mobile starlets. As the ethereal guitar lines kick in, the track soars into a colossal chorus ofyou’ve been caught” and Thomas Tantrum truly have, in all their new (and improved) glory. Original demands of ”a drum roll when they step outside” may have appeared obnoxious before but, following this EP, only seems just.

Thomas Tantrum‘s new album is set for release this year.

L'Orient des Femmes, vu par Christian Lacroix @ Musée Quai Branley

I am having somewhat of a cultural cluster of blogs [it's not all just about sweaty gigs and concert halls in the city of light, you know!?] and with a plethora of fantastic exhibitions currently on in Paris, it seems only fitting for une blogueusee, comme moi, to expose them.

Christian Lacroix is another fashion house name that you will, no doubt, have heard of. He has boutiques all over the world from Paris to London to Japan and is famed for his Haute Couture which celebrated 20 years on the catwalk just a few years ago. More importantly, he designed a possible gown for the ultimate wedding [no, not the Royals] but Ms Carrie Bradshaw who idly posed in one designer dream after the other for a Vogue style fashion shoot in Sex and The City, The Movie...

Saucy TV series tangents aside and to a more inteellectual reference ...I have been reading a fantastic book over the festive period [no doubt, every Expats survival guide – Almost French by the most talented Sarah Turnball] which actually shed some light on Lacroix for me and, in fact, bears a whole chapter dedicated to a meeting with said designer. In the book, Lacroix talks about the French and how 'elegance française' has been lost. He goes on to add that 'in the past the French had innate taste, refined and personal. Now style is much more petit bourgeois, with the petty rules and silly rivalry of this class'.

As the artistic director of this exhibition, Christian Lacroix's 'L'Orient des Femmes' has certainly broken free of these so-called rules and, instead, harks back to the ancient traditions of some of the most talented seamstresses in the East and skills that are ultimately, being forgotten. Over 150 outfits and sets from the Near-East are assembled inside the contemporary, quay side building of the Musée Quai Branley conveying a strong sense of tradition and ancestral savoir faire.

Christian Lacroix, who dreamed of being a curator in his youth, pays homage to these oriental women and to an art that has been long standing for many years and should be celebrated for its meticulous and opulent designs featured in this exhibiton. You might not see these threads on Ab Fab but Lacroix has certainly done it again showcasing his talent for textiles but also, his hidden aspirations as a curator in his own right.

'L'Orient des Femmes', vu par Christian Lacroix runs until 15/05/2011.

Betty and The Werewolves @ L’International, 29.01.11

*originally posted on thegirlsare

When pondering werewolves, I’d like to think we all hark back to the sketchy (but admittedly, brilliant) hirsute figure of Michael J. Fox in ‘Teen Wolf’. Just like the final scene in the 80′s cult classic where Michael triumphs in the basketball match sans transformation, it is with the same feeling of elation and enthusiasm that one should watch this band. Hailing from London, Betty and The Werewolves are a sparkly and sprightly mix of pop-panache and even boast an inspired track about the wonders of plastic. Despite their lack of eco friendly ethics, one can’t help but love this quirky bunch.

Gay-fully performing to a packed out crowd at L’International tonight, just off Paris’ bustling and vibrant Rue Obkerkampf, the band skip into former single, ‘Euston Station’, which, lead singer Laura proclaims in perfect French, is their “preferred stop on the London Underground”. Betty and The Werewolves have the upbeat tenacity of Letters to Cleo and the sweet vocals of the (frankly, underrated) Lush, particularly on moody track ‘The Party’, with drum-stomp and haunting backing harmonies. Latest single, ‘Paper Thin’ is met with whoops from the Parisians (a rarity, I tell thee), as the band saunter into warm, reverb-drenched tones, reminiscent of hazy days by the seaside as a child eating 99′s on the pier.

Ultimately, Betty and The Werewolves are like a timeless edition of Bunty: with soft spots for both David Cassidy and brightly coloured plastics, and a lyrical honesty that is both endearing and refreshing: “You ask me about The Libertines, who the fuck are they? I only know what happened in the sixties”.
Photograph courtesy of Michela Cuccagna @ Sound of Violence.

'Voyage En Capital', Louis Vuitton & Paris @ Musée Carnavalet

You will probably recognise his work from all the iconic luggage, trunks and trinkets often adorned with the trademark monogram of symbols across their leather fronts. He is one of the leading international fashion houses, has commissioned numerous luxury pieces for everyone from Miss France to The Darjeeling Limited and is one of the most counterfeited brands in the world [he even managed to have a spat with pop princess Britney Spears after one of his so-called-designs popped up in her video...]

Louis Vuitton brings his historical collection of works to Musée Carnavalet this February. Nestled in the bustling quartier of the Marais, Musée Carnavalet is comprised of long standing Hôtel de Carnavalet which is famed for housing Madame de Sévigné and where the Marquise herself penned her famous letters.

The area inside the ornate building has been transformed by the curators of the exhibition in order to bring the Vuitton history to life in both its layout and its pieces. The old street sign from the shop has been perfectly preserved in all its bottle green, glass glory. A charming wallpaper of an illustrative picture of Paris and the Vuittons various workshops and locations serves as both an informative, as well as a novel, approach to showcasing the companies history. An enormous club shape has been carved into the wall at the very beginning of the exhibition that visiters are invited to step through, in an almost Alice in Wonderland down-the-rabbit-hole scenario as we are plunged further into world of Mr Vuitton and his elaborate array of chic travel goods.

On leaving the expo, one is faced with many questions. Who knew, that during the 1930s, one lucky girl could house four Barbie dolls and all their delightful accessories in a specially accommodated Louis Vuitton bag? Did that bed really come out of that trunk? I can fit over thirty two pairs of shoes in this one...does it come in red? Louis Vuitton's Voyage en Capital is certainly a journey. From the Belle Epoque of the 19th Century to his more novel creations for the Red Cross, Louis Vuitton's acclaimed travel accessories are still rife, not only in the capital but all over the world.

Just don't go buying any counterfeits of the stuff, or you'll have Louis to answer to...

Louis Vuittons 'Voyage en Capital' runs until the end of this month.

dimanche 30 janvier 2011

We Are Enfant Terrible - Wild Child

*originally posted on thegirslare

Already a hit song for both The Doors and Iggy Pop, rest assured this is no euro trash parody from We Are Enfant Terrible. ‘Wild Child’ is like the scuzzy electro soundtrack to the latest Skins episode or a drrrtier Le Tigre playing out a track from their This Island remixes. It’s hardly surprising then, with such a sound, the band’s first gig was opening for Peaches.

Rather fittingly, the video for ‘Wild Child’ does feature infants in a hazy, vintage home movie style as well as interspersed band shots filmed under some kind of home-made fort (as one only does during their childhood). A far cry from what their name might suggest, We Are Enfant Terrible are a heady mixture of stabbing synths, distorted drum samples and purring Parisian vocals from Miss Clo Floret. At last a French act worth celebrating, tchin-tchin!


vendredi 28 janvier 2011


Admittedly, the festive period has led to a rather lax approach in writings [from the Right Bank or anywhere for that matter!]. However, heading home to Old Blighty for Noel rather than staying au rive droite, it seemed only fair to wait to pen my insightful tit bits once back here in gay Paris...that and frankly, I was far too busy sipping on tea served in china cups and eating copious amounts of Quality Street.

In need of somewhat of a spring clean as well, I am yet to update with some of my latest, and frankly unbelievable, goings on courtesy of thegirlsare!!

The month of December saw the legendary Melissa Auf der Maur play at Le Trabendo here in Paris celebrating her new record, 'Out Of Our Minds', six years after her debut solo effort. I was lucky enough to meet up with the flame haired reine of bass just before the show to discuss being your own manager, disliking bass players and mosaics of Japanese food.

Read the full interview with the Canadian queen, herself here:

[and as if Melissa could have been any more of a humbling and sweet soul, we even got a tweet for the interview from her!!]

Download the single, ‘Out Of Our Minds’ now.