Friday, 19 October 2007

it's so cold this morning, my breath comes out like steam

It's been a while. My laptop is still broken and whilst borrowing Mademoiselle Gaston's is fine, it makes blogging quite hard, since I have no access to my music -which resides on my now broken- hopefully soon to be fixed, machine.

So apologies for the delays, and again for the lack of files, and stuff and here goes...

If I had to pick a band that epitomized the sound of autumn, it would be Pete and the Pirates. They play guitar-based pop music that at times is quite folky, at other times intensely frenetic – quite reminiscent of most other bands described as “angular” that have emerged from the United Kingdom over the last couple of years.

I definitely think these guys have the potential to be pretty massive in 2008, I had the pleasure to play with them a few times over the last year and constant touring (including SXSW) has seen them accumulate considerable tightness, which culminated in a performance on the Carling Stage at this year’s Reading Festival. I like the way the three voices in the band dovetail often to beautiful effect, their songs not always being led by the frontman, Tom Sanders (who has a sideproject called Tap Tap, that are also worth a listen), but occasionally by the bassist or the rhythm guitarist.

The songs touch on typical themes of love, longing, sex etc. as well as dancing in discos and cooking – they make me want to dance and just feel happy really. They leave you with that warm, fuzzy, feeling inside when you’ve just had some soup and a cup of tea on a chilly day. They are embarking on lots of dates of their own, followed by even more supporting The Young Knives. Album to be released next year. Single “Knots” was out last week, and I imagine if you look hard enough, you can still grab a copy of the wonderfully catchy, ‘Come on Feet’.

Pete and the Pirates - Knots

Annoyingly, the song which perhaps evokes autumn the most (She Doesn’t Belong), I can’t access right now. But I’m determined to post this today. So it’ll have to wait. I will post them when everything is back to normal.


And so now, to recap the last few weeks in terms of gigs dans Paris.

I went to see Menomena at Nouveau Casino upon hearing my flatmate, Census Johnston, rave about them for days. And he doesn’t usually do that unless a band is good.

They were incredible. I mention above how I liked the way Pete and the Pirates used three voices to good effect. Menomena outdo them quite possibly. A three-piece from Portland, Oregon

they consist of

Brett Knopf, who plays keyboards, guitars, glockenspiels and laptop,

Justin Harris, who plays electric guitar, bass guitar, saxophone and foot synthesier

And Danny Seim, who plays the drums.

They all share lead and backing vocals, which I think is pretty impressive given the complex structural nature of the music they play. Their voices all complement each other quite well especially in terms of pitch, I liked the drummer’s voice especially, I’ve heard he has a solo project so expect more writings once I’ve had time to check that out.

Live, it was incredible, partially due to Craig Thompson, a graphic artist. During the performance, he would be drawing animals and people and all sorts on a big, white screen behind the stage. At the end of the performance, this was pulled down and distributed amongst the crowd - I missed out sadly.

Thompson also created the artwork for recent album, Friend and Foe, which is incredibly intricate – it reminds me of one of those password finders they used to distribute with 80s video games to combat piracy.

Here is the recent single, Wet and Rusting, taken from the aforementioned album.

Menomena – Wet and Rusting

Last weekend was an electro double header. Friday night saw us venturing to Rex Club, for the Parisian album launch Berlin based Boys Noize. He definitely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Justice, Digitalism and similar electro artists. ‘Oi Oi Oi’ is definitely worth a listen, and in a club, Boys Noize certainly knows how to work it, building things up brilliantly before unleashing what is arguably his best song to date, ‘Feel Good (TV Off).

His remix work also deserves a mention, having remixed the likes of Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs, Depeche Mode and Feist. A release including remixes of Justice’s ‘Phantom’ is slated for the near future.


Saturday night, after avoiding injury celebrating the England rugby victory under the Eiffel Tower, we headed to Elysee Montmartre for the Institubes Party featuring sets from the likes of Para One, Surkin, Jean Nipon and Teki Latex. Here’s some electro goodness.

Para One - Dudun Dun Du dun dun dun dun dun

Surkin – And You Too

Teki Latex - Les Matins Dans Paris

On Tuesday, I went to see Malajube at La Maroquinerie (translates as the tannery), which is an awesome venue. Malajube are from Montreal, a city which has produced many great bands over the last couple of years – Arcade Fire, Stars, The Dears to name but a few.

Malajube actually sing in Quebecoise French, which is interesting to say the least. In France, most people cannot stand the Quebecoise accent, it’s probably the equivalent of a Brummie accent in the UK. (I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with accents , I just would rather not listen to Brummies sing, or talk ever)

My French isn’t quite at the level where I can understand all the lyrics perfectly, but it really doesn’t matter when the music is of such a quality. They flit from glorious indie pop with a hint of the epic (Montreal -40c), to slightly more saccharine numbers (Pâte à Filo, Le Crabe), the occasional ballad and the odd moment where they rock out completely (Fille à Plumes). I would simplistically describe them as a mixture between Death From Above 1979 and The Thrills. The album, Trompe L’Oeil, is exceptional – currently my favourite album of this year. Easily.

Live, it’s interesting especially as I had no idea really how everything was set up – I caught the tail end of their Los Campesinos! support slot back in June, but they had sound issues, which was frustrating. I would say, on reflection, that they are better on record than live, only in terms of how it sounds though, which isn’t really always what you go to see a band for. You want a performance with a bit of character, a bit of humour perhaps, and passion. And they definitely had that, the lead singer is a character. I think if you saw these guys on home territory in Montreal, it would be insane. Get the album. All the songs on the album also have a corresponding name relating to a disease too, which is nice.

Malajube - Montreal -40c
Malajube - La Crabe
Malajube - Fille à Plumes

On Wednesday, I went to Fleche d’or for a Brille records showcase. We got there too late for Hatcham Social, but caught most of Operator Please and all of Good Shoes. I wasn’t especially taken by Operator Please, they weren’t poor in any way, I’m just not that familiar with any of their songs aside from ‘…Ping Pong’. Anybody who can write a song that catchy, whilst so young deserves a bit of time to grow though.

How Good Shoes aren’t absolutely massive, in a year when bands such as The Pigeon Detectives, The Twang and The Enemy have sold shedloads is beyond me. ‘Think Before You Speak’ is absolutely crammed with songs that all just scream ‘top 10 or 20 single’ at least, but they haven’t really made it past slowburning, underground success.

Perhaps that will change with the re-release of ‘Small Town Girl’ (originally their debut limited only release on Young and Lost Records), which sounded massive on Wednesday night. Quite why the insanely catchy ‘Blue Eyes’ wasn’t released as a single, I don’t know. I think it’s possibly their best song. It was a bit worrying that they only had one new song to play on Wednesday night, but I’m guessing after the upcoming single release and tour dates, they might hide away and work on new songs. I want more new Good Shoes songs!

Good Shoes – Small Town Girl

Right. I’m done for now, might be the last post for a few weeks until my laptop is back up.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

"i wanted to do a comic book"

Dev Hynde feels discomfort playing live. Asked whether he gets that buzz from connecting with an audience, he says: “I kinda don’t! I’m appreciative but I still get really nervous.” In contrast with Test Icicles’ creative beehive, Lightspeed Champion is Hynde stripped, his vocals leading compassionate songs. “When I was recording, I was listening to a lot of hip hop. To be a good MC all you have is your rhythm pattern, the words you’re saying and how effective it is. You can hear it in ‘Midnight Surprise’…” As this charmingly unnatural frontman sings a line, illustrating its melodic emphasis on certain words, the tension between his courage to exhibit and portray such frank music and his concerned shyness is plain.

For this generator of constantly displaced passions, recording ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’ (his pending debut Lightspeed Champion LP) was incidental. “I wanted to do a comic book! I was just writing CDs of 20 songs and giving them to Laurence (Bell, Domino Records)”. Bell passed one demo to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis and Hynde found himself invited to Nebraska to record. “For the album I had a batch of 50 songs”, an example of Hynde’s prolific composing. A gleeful guilt enters his voice on admitting: “The next album… I’ve written it already”. Considering his amassing reels of creative crop, won’t it be frustrating repeatedly touring this debut? “Yeah, it’s a bit much! Talk to me again in February and we’ll see!” True to his comic addiction, Hynde takes the 100 club stage in a Spiderman suit to deliver a captivating set culminating in ‘Midnight Surprise’, the nine-minute melancholic, beauteous single you should definitely fork out for (15th October, Domino, with a basket of b-sides), though avoid the severed radio edit. I ask Hynde whether it works: “It doesn’t, it’s awful!"

Brighton band Elle Milano's new single (29th October) is characteristically intelligent and riotous, but I can't decide whether I like the b-side more, which manages to get sentimental and remain scathing in the middle:

I've gathered some These New Puritans mp3s. Their album 'Beat Pyramid' is out on 5th November (Angular/Domino) and, on the evidence of these, might be amazing.

'C16' - These New Puritans

LCD Soundsystem release '45:33' on 12th November (DFA). Parts 2, 3 and 4 are largely a progressive play on 'Someone Great', by far outshone by ‘45:33 Part 1’. With a ‘Phats And Small’-esque vocal line and bass, James Murphy’s trademark deft layered vocals and beats, staggeringly simple, propulsive piano and a bassline so inviting the song should have been in ‘Superbad’, LCD affirm their songwriting potential alongside their rhythmic dexterity again this year.

Finally here are James Murphy and Morrissey nasal singing in a manner Julie Andrews would commend:

'Disco Infiltrator' - LCD Soundsystem

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

technical issues

My laptop decided to die. Midway through me typing up my re-release extravaganza. It is the problem with downloading too much random stuff. So I'm borrowing my flatmate's for now, but updates will most likely be sporadic for the next week or so, which is shit. All my statistics were saved on the laptop, so I can't even finish the damn re-release thing for now.

Here's a few songs to keep things ticking over. One is from, Foals, who I'm sure you've heard of by now. Cassius is taken from their recent session on XFM. Followed by a bit of French electro, courtesy of Para One, remixed by his Institubes label-mate Surkin. Finally, we have a bit of Canadian indie, from the wonderful Malajube. Their album, Trompe-L'oeil, is possibly myt favourite of the year so far. The track, Montreal -40c, is a shimmering track that manages to be a little bit epic, whilst still being quite poppy. Enjoy.