30 July 2010

The Coral: "Butterfly House"

I could easily divide my music collection into three broad categories: oldies but goodies, stuff I own, and new material. There are “classic” albums that I go back to often, like The Cure’s “Disintegration,” Annie Lennox’s “Diva,” or The Kink’s “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.” These are the kind of albums that have formed and molded my musical tastes. Then there is the stuff I own, some old, some new, that may have been novelty, shit that friends have recommended, or material that was simply sub par. Then there is the new material that I really like. For the most part, this music is full of younger artists, usually within three albums of their career; it is not often that a veteran act makes its way to this group. Something usually happens to bands after a few years: complacency leads them to churn out the same old shit and I loose interest. So when I heard that The Coral was going to release a new album, of which the music was played lived previously, I was on the fence. I was not sure how I was going to feel about it, but definitely leaning towards “stuff I own…” I even debated with myself about getting this album or not, but “Butterfly House” (12 July 2010 in the UK, 27 July 2010 in the USA as an import) immediately jumped into my iPod as new material I love.

Recorded in part at the legendary RAK studios, The Coral sport out a sophisticated neo-psychedelia sound that does not sound dated or contrived. Apparently, they are running away as fast as they can from current trends, embracing the 60s as their model. Earlier in their career, especially at the time of their debut, there was a lot of buzz about this band – that is how I discovered them, because the buzz had them out to be the next best thing since white sliced bread. Then the growing-pains started, years of experimenting with their music and style, which alienated more and more people. The buzz finally started to die out, which as I have always said is a good thing! Finally able to compose music on their terms, and not with the expectations of what is supposed to come next, the band finally reached their fifth album, “Butterfly House.” Straight-forward, sleek, beautifully recorded… any critiques of the band seems to lull away when listening to the album. Let the buzz begin again!

The band has matured, which is the inevitable, but not always the most popular thing to do. (Nothing is more unflattering than musicians post the 30-year mark still singing as if in high school!) Opening with viscerally the most aggressive song, “More Than a Lover,” laced with beautiful acoustic strumming (something I am a sucker for), is the perfect introduction to this musical journey: amazing acoustic guitar arrangements, gorgeous layers of music, and mature lyrics: “More than a lover, don’t you know you’ll always be a good friend to me…. But what’s done is done, so I sing to you a song we left unsung.” No remorse, no regret, just the emotional distance of knowing that life moves on. The chosen lead single, “1000 Years,” with a simple but alluring guitar solo, may lack the catchiness of single trends lately, but it offers up a sincerity that is rare. My favorite track is the carnival-esque “Coney Island.” Having spent many of my childhood days there, with my cousins from Pennsylvania and brother, I always remembered it not as this jovial place, but a locale with a sad undertow. Any joy that came from the place was from our antics – of which there were many. This feeling I always got from Coney Island is captured musically to perfection.

What is the album devoid of? Indie clichés, 80s mania, or obviously made for radio music. The Coral’s “Butterfly House” is one of those sophisticated albums meant to be listened to as such. Though you would definitely get pleasure from listening to any one of these tracks, this is really a musical journey meant to be listened to from beginning to end. This is part of the reason why I refuse to extrapolate this album track-by-track; I would rather hope that you are inspired to listen to it beginning to end. Considering that this is one of those standout albums in the field of releases, it may just end up being one of your favorites.

Track Listing:
1. More Than a Lover
2. Roving Jewel
3. Walking in the Winter
4. Sandshills
5. Butterfly House
6. Green Is the Colour
7. Falling All Around You
8. Two Faces
9. She’s Coming Around
10. 1000 Years
11. Coney Island
12. North Parade
13. Into the Sun – limited edition bonus disc
14. Coming Through the Rye – limited edition bonus disc
15. Dream in August – limited edition bonus disc
16. Another Way – limited edition bonus disc
17. Circles – limited edition bonus disc

Keep up with The Coral at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is their video from “1000 Year” from the deltasonicrecords YouTube Channel.

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28 July 2010

New Wave Videos

So… I was cleaning out some boxes the other day and came across a few mix-tapes that pushed me back twenty years in an instant. This one particular one, 120 minute TDK – my brand of choice back then – really brought back some funny memories. In a nutshell, I made the tape for a friend’s party, who when requesting that I bring music told me, “None of that depressing shit you listen to… bring some of your happy songs.” Well, I can’t say my friend got all those “happy songs,” but she did get an assortment of new wave. I wish I could get some of the other stuff that was on the tape, like Pekinska Patka, but I did manage to find most of the “popular” stuff of its day. Keeping true to my promise of coming on once in a while with some older videos, here are ten great songs: some are still breath-taking, others are even cheesier now than before, but you got to love them anyway. Enjoy!

Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” from their MySpace Video page.

It's My Life (UK Version)

Talk Talk | MySpace Music Videos

Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger” from the EurythmicsVEVO YouTube Channel.

Duran Duran’s “New Moon on Monday” from their MySpace Video page.

New Moon On Monday

DURAN DURAN | MySpace Music Videos

Men Without Hats’ “Pop Goes the World” from the MenWithoutHatsVEVO YouTube Channel.

Depeche Mode’s “A Question of Time” from their MySpace Video page.

A Question Of Time

Depeche Mode | MySpace Music Videos

Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy” from their YouTube Channel: Kajagoogoomusic.

‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” from the TilTuesdayVEVO YouTube Channel.

New Order’s “True Faith” from their MySpace Videos page.

True Faith by New Order

new order | MySpace Music Videos

The Vapor’s “Turning Japanese” from their MySpace Videos page.

Turning Japanese

THE VAPORS | MySpace Music Videos

Information Society’s “What’s On Your Mind” from their MySpace Video page.

What's On Your Mind

Information Society | MySpace Music Videos
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27 July 2010

O. Children: "O. Children"

Imagine for a moment you could mix up Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division, and Sisters of Mercy, and throw in a smidge of a few other things including a new wave sensibility… welcome to the world of O. Children and their eponymous debut (12 July 2010). This young quartet was (seemingly) born out of the ashes of Bono Must Die (unsigned, but truly noteworthy band), and is composed of Gauthier Ajarrista (guitar), Harry James (bass), Tobias O’Kandi (vocals), and Andi Sleath (drums). Taking their name from a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ songs, the band harkens back to the 80s for most of their cues, especially the original post-punk era. Though there is a bit of the shoegaze in them, they are more like Editors than The Horrors. This is not mere revival… they are not capitalizing on the past for quick-fly-by-night notoriety; instead, they are building on a tradition of music, inverting quite a bit of it inside-out, and producing something that is fresh and relevant. Straightforward music in the vein of The Cure or Joy Division, with the dramatic feel of Sisters of Mercy, the band’s new wave sensibility of producing music that is tongue-in-cheek, yet introspective, is obvious from beginning to end.

The album opens with “Malo”; it has the same affect on me as “The Killing Moon.” Though sonically they share very little in common, I understand why this is the case (and will explain below). This is a moody, broody song, with nice synth work. It is a somewhat odd start to the album, and arguably a hard song to follow, but “Dead Disco Dancer” does not let you down. This single, the second track, is somewhere between dreadfully dark and tongue-in-cheek, as it whirls through a narrative that starts, “Wake up, sunny, school is cancelled for the day… The disco dancer is dead… they found him at the track with a bullet in his head…” Eventually, they are digging up his grave, and though this sounds gory, it is actually a playful song, regardless of the lyrics. This is no easy feat to accomplish – to have music and lyrics work in tandem, though they are going in different directions – and it speaks to the songwriting chops this band has.

“Heels” follows – classically a post-punk song, circa early 1982; for those of us really familiar with this era, this song is going to pull a few of your internal strings and you are going to get stuck on it. Another gem on the album is “Ezekiel’s Son” – the darkest song on the album, it is the meeting of dream pop and new wave sonically. “Ruins” exudes ingenious new wave, while “Pray the Soul Away” sports out the most rocking guitar arrangements on the album – I am starting to want to hear this song live. The album closes with the experimental “Don’t Dig”: “Whenever I go, and my last breath is done, don’t make a fuzz…” O’Kandi sings, to the one song on the album that relies more on effects than the actual rhythm; he soon sings, “I’ll be in your head, you’ll forget I was dead.” It is the aspiring wish of all artists, to become immortal through their work… to be kept in someone’s head. And that is an apt metaphor for when you finish listening to this album; it may not haunt you in any nightmarish way, but you will not forget it anytime soon.

I need to say one more thing. If I have said this once, I have said it a thousand times: I hate when people compare the voice of one singer with another, as if sounding similar is a be all and end all to criticism – unless it is impersonation, people are born with their voices, and there is nothing that they can do about it. I can imagine everyone already oozing with lazy comparisons between O’Kandi’s voice and Ian Curtis’. O’Kandi may have a similar voice (he was born with it), but he does not just carry a tune like Curtis. (I am sure there are some that will think that was a blasphemous comment to make.) Actually, O’Kandi is singing, doing more than just carrying a tune; if anything, he is closer in style to Ian McCulloch [of Echo and the Bunnymen fame], with a much deeper voice (hence, why it has the same affect on me as “The Killing Moon.”)

Simply put: this is a good album, not your typical summer time release, and it is not going to disappoint.

Track Listing:
1. Malo
2. Dead Disco Dancer
3. Heels
4. Fault Line
5. Smile
6. Ezekiel’s Son
7. Ruins
8. Radio Waves
9. Pray the Soul Away
10. Don’t Dig

Keep up with O. Children at their MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are their videos for “Dead Disco Dancer” and “Ruins” from their YouTube Channel: ochildrentv

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22 July 2010

The Unravelling Answer 5 Again

I was completely excited when The Unravelling released their debut album, “13 Arcane Hymns” (link to review). From listening to the demo versions to the final product, I was blown away by the depth and beauty of the album…. Two e-mails later, and Gustavo de Beauville and Steve Moore were more than happy to answer 5, again. Everything from hookers and blow to politics get mentioned here, and just as their music, their answers are uncompromising. I hope you all enjoy, and I would like to personally thank Gus and Steve for taking the time to answer 5.

The Unravelling

1. The Unravelling did not play it safe with "13 Arcane Hymns." Though I have used the word "metal," I am not sure that does the album justice. (And I hate the "progressive" label, as I think all artists have a duty to be progressive in terms of anything artistic.) What I hear are many strains of different musical traditions, from rock to metal, from industrial to goth, coming together in various different degrees. When you started composing the album, was this the goal or is this something that happened naturally?

Gus: In terms of the music, “13 Arcane Hymns” took early shape as a maniacal one man project with the aim of creating a body of material that would be enticing enough to attract the right vocalist to complete them. Somewhat of a Venus flytrap or anglefish approach. I was going through a lot of genre experimentation at the time, so the songs reflect this period. It was very new to me because my background up to this point was metal and 90s grunge but traveling to Canada and living alone for a year made me seek out a plethora of interesting new artists. Such as Sopor Aeternus, Sophia, Arcana, Predella Avant, Dead Can Dance, Nox Arcana and Sephiroth, which really inspired me but were filtered through the lens of a "meat and potatoes" (drums, guitar, bass, vocals) musician.

Steve: To me, progressive can get to be a strange word in the context of music - it can mean wildly different things to different people. I don't even know what pure progressive rock or metal, bereft of other style interference, would sound like. I think that in the end, I just don't care enough to research it too closely. That being said, I love a lot of different music, so this kind of schizophrenia comes out in my writing that is probably unusual. I love Dead Can Dance and Dillinger Escape Plan, for example - they would normally be seen as two completely different energies, but I see them both as honest, talented artists. They're both powerful in their own way. The first priority is to write something I feel is good and that I'm inspired by, and the second priority that I try to fulfill is that I feel the work is original.

So not playing it safe was intentional and natural at the same time. We recorded and released this album in the faith and strong belief that there are still people out there who want honesty in their art and music. That is technically our market.

Gustavo de Beauville

2. Metal is one of the genres I feel is in a tragic state; it has become generic, complacent, and repetitive. I have read about the days when metal dominated the Reading Festival and find myself wishing for a metal renaissance. Why do you think this complacency has happened?

Gus: Renaissance.....Such an eloquent way to describe your dismay. It's sad but a lot of bands are a reflection of society I think. They cater to the masses to suckle at the teat of their masters. I firmly believe somewhere out there there's powerful suit-wearing, cigar toting assholes in tall buildings with gold records on their walls going, "They want to shake their asses and swig cheap booze, then give those sheep what they want. Churn that shit out ASAP. I got hookers to bang and blow to inhale." Then bands like Nickelback, State of Shock, Theory of A Deadman, Puddle of Mud, Shinedown, Hinder, Finger Eleven, Seether, Stone Sour, Hedley, Marianas Trench, and Simple Plan get a phone call.

Steve: You could say the same thing about the world I think. The complacency in metal music has probably happened due to lack of inspiration or good ideas, the desire to cater to genre regulations, the need to be part of a crowd, a lack of new learning and an over-interest in anti-religious sentiment without enough intelligent argument or political points, and a general rejection of individuality and artistic expression. I always appreciate when artists and bands dare to do something different. There's a lot of room for it in metal, but you can't be afraid of breaking the rules and leaving the genre if need be. That being said, there are some amazing bands out there today. The ones that blow you away just don't typically tend to be the ones who put themselves in a box.

Geez, that's quite the list, Gus! You forgot Justin Bieber, though it'll probably be a few years yet before he's into the hookers and blow.

Steve Moore

3. Let's continue to speak about complacency: Audiences! From relying on traditional sources for new music, especially radio, and an environment of not wanting to think or feel when listening to music, most listeners have become passive, empty receptacles, who are either scared, uninspired, or too damn lazy to scratch the surface. What would you say to them to get them to scratch the surface and listen to "13 Arcane Hymns?"

Steve: If the description in question 3 sounds like you, you should listen to “13 Arcane Hymns.” Unlike much of the music out there currently, this stuff is real - for better or worse, and that's for you to decide. It's not the feel-good album of the summer, but it offers something strong and worthwhile. If Top 40 is your thing, I wouldn't strain yourself.

Gus: That's a really tough question. I prefer to remember the days when music really inspired and almost defined who you were. Times when Phil Anselmo would rant about the 'trend being dead,' also when Kurt Cobain had to explain what the doodles on his sneakers meant. When Layne Staley had to tell people that drugs were bad and were actually killing him (RIP). When people used to hang on every obscure word from Maynard James Keenan. When Trent Reznor dropped “The Downward Spiral” onto the scene and people thought he was nuts. When “Anti Christ Superstar” came out and the video for “The Beautiful People” was so dark, twisted and innovative it was awe-inspiring. Nowadays it's about having wineries and selling overpriced merchandise. But getting back to your question, I think either it's a state of being young and impressionable and hearing some great bands or maybe the quality of music as an art form has indeed been diluted. I'm leaning towards the later.

Gustavo de Beauville

4. The images in the "Fire Breather" video, which capture a Tibetan protest, really stuck with me for quite some time. But the one thing that I started to think about is what is the role of artists in making political/social statements or allowing their music to be used in that vein. What do you guys think about the meeting of "politics" and music? Is this a responsibility of musicians?

Gus: Ok, straight off the bat, I do not mix politics with art. Yes, the world is a sordid, twisted political place, but I leave these matters to people that are more equipped to resist the machine. Steve does very well in this area and has thus far been the political figurehead for the band. I myself tend to be the wide-eyed dreamer that grasps for the invisible thread in his reclusive comfort zone. Dabbling in the unknown and mysteries of the occult interests me far greater than focusing on the misdeeds of man.

Steve: I don't mix politics and music all the time, but I do it on some tracks. I tend to talk quite often about spiritual or energetic concepts that I feel are potent in poetic form as well. Basically, I think people should be able to talk about whatever the hell they want to, and there should be no stigma attached to it. People arguing for less politics in music and movies are happy pawns. 100 indie pop songs about tube socks and ex-girlfriends and you have a problem with a song about something that actually affects our lives in a profound way? They must have a lot of trust in their politicians to want them to be the only ones to have the microphones in our society. I do not share the same general trust in politicians, so I express that from time to time. At the same time, you can only be responsible for what you project and for what you say, so all I can control is my own voice, and I monitor it fairly closely. I try to make sure what I say is really what I want to project to the world - a positive expression of empowerment.

Steve Moore

5. The natural course of music is that is it is conceived and composed, recorded, and then showcased live. How are you two going to approach the music live? What can we expect?

Gus: We have played a couple of live shows thus far and the response has been very encouraging. At this moment I am working on incorporating psychedelic visuals to our show.

Entertaining and inspiring our fans is very important to us as a unit and a trusted mentor of mine told me to "Go create the show that you want to be at" and that is what I am doing. Crafting out our own mythos and an ethereal aura for the band is my goal. See you on the other side...

Steve: We will do everything we can to push this project to new listeners, so that includes building a successful live show. The shows thus far have been great and we look forward to more. Expect something different. Rants via megaphone most definitely!

Keep up with The Unravelling at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is “Where Will It End?” from their YouTube Channel: Theunravellingmusic.

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20 July 2010

School of Seven Bells: "Disconnect from Desire"

Could I ever pass up good dream pop / shoegaze? No. Welcome to the world of School of Seven Bells [SVIIB] and their sophomore album, “Disconnect from Desire” (12 July 2010 in the UK, 13 July 2010 in the USA). This trio (Benjamin Curtis and identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza) prioritizes composing music by first writing lyrics and creating music that mirrors, augments, and accompany the lyrical content. With a broad range of musical means, from guitars to savvy electronics, they are able to put out the sound of a traditional band, but consistently never rest on their laurels and instead offer up twists and twists and even more twists in the tradition of dream pop and shoegaze. And let me say right up front, what I like most about SVIIB is the fact are not content with rehashing some mythical cannon of dream pop or shoegaze, but rather pushing the envelop a bit further with flirting with synthrock and synthpop.

Not reproducing the sound of some nostalgic canon of shoegaze albums or giving into reproducing shoegaze in any traditional sense (like the revival whores are doing), SVIIB veers outwardly closer to Curve and My Bloody Valentine of “Blown a Wish” and “Soon,” while subtly sharing some aesthetics with Chapterhouse, Ride, or Slowdive. Let me explain… Outwardly, the beats definitely veer closer to something that could be danced to at times – remixes might be really nice – while they arrange and layer their music in the same traditional sense as the shoegaze classics. In terms of the electronic sounds used, there is a bit of synthpop there, and occasionally synthrock veers its head – that “rockish” sound that is purposely synthetic. So with a broader range of references than the “new-nu-gaze,” SVIIB is able to offer up a sound that is distinct from their brethrens, and in many ways much more vital, urgent, and relevant than what others are doing.

The hauntingly sweet vocal arrangements are ethereally beautiful, but continuously grounded by the (often time heavily affected) guitar arrangements. Working in tandem, the guitar and vocal arrangements help to create a warm, welcoming feeling to the songs, which is an obstacle for many electronic bands. The reality is that nothing screams synthetic like drum machines, nothing screams feigned like soulless sequencers… but as other solid electronic acts, they are savvy enough to play between the digital and analogue to create a balance that is often rare, and extremely rare in electronic shoegaze. Not that cold music is always bad (I love my darkwave), that is not what you get with “Disconnect from Desire”: this is a lusciously visceral album, which draws you in track-by-track.

Sonically, opening with an air of frivolity, lyrically the opening track, “Windstorm,” weighs in heavy from moment one: “Wind mills cut through the voids of hiding the imagine, the truth the eyes neglect to see what the heart pursues, then my heart finds a dream in me. It sees you in the untouchable; that’s not to say that I don’t feel the limitations and the dropped from the expectation, it’s not lying but the heart of creation is the only thing proven true to me.” With a bit of the post-punk in those lyrics (reminds me greatly of how “Charlotte Sometimes” flows), the band is given into a bit of stream-of-consciousness, engaging emotionally weighty topics in a serious and poetic way, and not generating prepackaged, clichéd anxiety or despair.

Songs like “Dust Devil” and “Camarilla” reflect that they band is willing and capable of thinking / composing out of the shoegaze box, really infusing synthrock and synthpop (respectively) traditions into the music. But what holds true through every track is that sonically/musically nothing is overdone. Every sound, every effect, is towards an end. And when you finally find yourself swirling into the final track, “The Wait,” SVIIB throws you their biggest twist yet: the most sedate and broodiest song on the album. Moving way closer to traditional dream pop than shoegaze, this is the most minimalist track on the album. Carried by the guitar for the most part, the electronic sounds are there for ambience, the wispy vocal arrangements sooth you, though the words and voices are full of despondency. And though a beat eventually builds up in this epic, the song ends musically much the same way it started, abruptly all but the guitar and keys dropping out.

Sophomore slump? Hell no! This album impressed me even more than their debut. School of Seven Bells’ “Disconnect from Desire” is a solid album, which will haunt your thoughts from the very first listen. So enough faffing…. check out this band and album.

Track Listing:
1. Windstorm
2. Heart Is Strange
3. Dust Devil
4. I L U
5. Babelonia
6. Joviann
7. Camarilla
8. Dial
9. Bye Bye Bye
10. The Wait

Keep up with School of Seven Bells at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and their Vagrant Records page.

Here are two video clips; the first is a video from their debut album (“Alpinisms”) called “Half Asleep” from vagrantrecords YouTube Channel. The second a live performance of “Bye Bye Bye” (at Mercury Lounge, NYC, 9 June 2010) from the supmag YouTube Channel.

Here are some tour dates; refer to their MySpace or Vagrant Records page for more information

7/30: Splendour in the Grass Festival, Woodford, Australia

9/9: Brooklyn, NY USA
9/11: Cambridge, MA USA
9/12: Burlington, VT USA
9/13: Montreal, QC Canada
9/15: Toronto, ON Canada
9/15 and 9/16: Ann Arbor, MI USA
9/17: Chicago, IL USA
9/18: Madison, WI USA
9/19: Minneapolis, MN USA
9/20: Iowa City, IA USA
9/21: Omaha, NE USA
9/23: Kansas City, MO USA
9/24: Denver, CO USA
9/25: Salt Lake City, UT USA
9/26: Seattle, WA USA
9/28: Vancouver, BC Canada
9/29: Portland, OR USA
9/30: San Francisco, CA USA

10/1: Los Angeles, CA USA
10/2: Costa Mesa, CA USA
10/3: San Diego, CA USA
10/5: Tucson, AZ USA
10/6: Albuquerque, NM USA
10/8: Denton, TX USA
10/9: Austin, TX USA
10/10: Houston, TX USA
10/11: Baton Rouge, LA USA
10/12: Tallahassee, FL USA
10/14: Tampa, FL USA
10/15: Orlando, FL USA
10/16: Miami, FL USA
10/18: Atlanta, GA USA
10/19: Chapel Hill, NC USA
10/20: Baltimore, MD USA
10/21: Washington, DC USA
10/22: Philadelphia, PA USA
10/23: New York, NY USA
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19 July 2010

I Am Kloot: "Sky at Night"

I Am Kloot, hailing from Manchester, UK, has been one of those bands that has been on my radar for quite some time, but has never stopped me in my tracks and made me really want to listen… that is, until recently – seemingly a common trend as of late. I headed over to the “Guardian” website, where the latest album has been streamed (link), and I have to say that I was more than impressed. “Sky at Night” (5 July 2010 in the UK, available in the USA as import 13 July 2010) is one of those subtle albums that really paints a picture with lyrics and creates mood with music. And perhaps, like fellow Mancunian bands Doves and Elbow, they are poised now for more recognition, but what I like about the album is that it was not composed for this end. This is music written for the sake of music… that may very well end up being a timeless jewel worth listening to again and again.

Five albums into their career, they seem to have coalesced into one of the broodiest bands out at the moment; luckily, they have not given into gloominess. Much is always made about bands that have been around for years and have not garnished the praise of the mainstream, but that is not a curse in the least. Actually, in most cases, it is welcomed, because existing in the fringes allows artists to create music that is poignant and distinct, not to mention urgent and relevant, and not part of any bandwagon. And that can be said about “Sky at Night.” This has nothing in common with the current trends, and it is evidence that many artists are not interested in making musical references to the 80s.

The album opens with “Northern Skies,” which musical intricacies are mirrored by the lyrical intricacies; it becomes quickly apparent that I Am Kloot “upped” their game for this album. But I was convinced of what a great album this was the moment I head “Fingerprints”: “If Heaven is a place upon your skin that I may have touched from without to within, then dust yourself of fingerprints and grin… and grin.” This is poetic narration at its best, set to a beautiful guitar arpeggio, the occasional piano, and moody strings. This is the kind of narrative song that really grips the attention and imagination. I will say this simply: lyrically I would rank the lyrics with some of the greats out there, like Dylan and Smith.

The most touching song on the album, the lachrymose bit of poetry, is “I Still Do”: “When I was a boy, I looked out at the sea, thought I saw you and me in the waves on a breeze… I still do, still do.” Set to an acoustic guitar, stripped down compared to the other tracks, the hope is belied by the feeling of lost and isolation that the song inspires. The ninth track, “Radiation,” is epic in proportion, with the slowest and most drawn out build-up of any song on the album. As every layer of music works it way in, the anxiety builds, but subsides when the beat finally drops. “Everything we ever thought we ever want, me and you, well it just came true,” affirms the chorus, and though the song is anything but happy-go-lucky-bubble-gum-pop, there is a definite sense that a smile is starting to build, that there might just be light at the end of the tunnel.

Granted, I Am Kloot may not have moved worlds away from what they were doing, but they did perfect it. And quite often, the journey for musicians is to reach that point of perfection. As the album closes with “Same Shoes,” and you are enjoying the jazzy feel, you really start to appreciate the subtle intricacies of “Sky at Night.” For those like me who have heard their past efforts, it may just be time to reconsider what we have thought about this band. And for those who have never heard of I Am Kloot, this is a perfect starting point. Head over to “Guardian,” check out the album, and if you are as convinced as I am, then support the band and get the album.

Track Listing:
1. Northern Skies
2. To the Brink
3. Fingerprints
4. Lately
5. I Still Do
6. The Moon Is a Blind Eye
7. Proof
8. It’s Just the Night
9. Radiation
10. Same Shoes

Keep up with I Am Kloot at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Northern Skies” from their YouTube Channel: iamklootmedia.

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17 July 2010


Been awhile since I posted some videos…. Enjoy!

Sudden Death Over Time’s “Blue Sky Night” (not video, just audio stream – a must listen!) from their YouTube Channel: SuddenDeathOverTime1.

Devlin’s “Brainwashed” from his YouTube Channel: officialdevlin.

Two Door Cinema Club’s “Come Back Home” from their YouTube Channel: twodoorcinemaclub.

Brandon Flowers’ “Crossfire” from the BrandonFlowersVEVO YouTube Channel.

Archie Bronson Outfit’s “Hoola” from the DominoRecords YouTube Channel.

We Have Band’s “Oh!” from the naiverecords YouTube Channel.

Marina and the Diamonds: “Oh No!” from her YouTube Channel: Marianaandthediamonds.

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16 July 2010

Streams of Whiskey Live

Now this I have sat on for too long…

3 July 2010, I headed out to Paddy Reilly’s on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 29th Street in Manhattan (519 2nd Avenue) for a show. On the invitation of a friend, co-worker, and one of the keepers of my sanity, it was set to be an evening of Celtic Punk and Irish Rock. The day started hectically, the afternoon was no better, and the evening even worse, so by ten at night, I was speeding… and I do mean speeding… to get to the gig on time… and it was most definitely worth it. Streams of Whiskey offered up two amazing sets.

So I finally got there and within moments I was with Black Stuff in one hand and my Blackberry in the other (hey… I have to take notes somehow). I was a bit disappointed by the turn out; I guess many of the townies were away for the holiday weekend – this is a cover band that you really should check out.

The problem with most cover bands – whether they are purists or not – is that it is all rote motion. And when the band concentrates on just one artist, it becomes more that rote; it becomes scary imitation without soul. But that is not the case with Streams of Whisky. You never got the feeling that you were listening to The Pogues or any other band – actually, they owned their renditions of the songs, which is very rare for a cover band. For instance, when they performed “Greenland Whale Fisheries,” one of my favorite sea shanties, I never thought of any of the other versions I knew of the song… not the Weavers… not the Pogue’s… not the Dubliners.

Sharing members with Barnacle Bill, Streams of Whiskey is an octet – on stage: Tim Alworth on drums, Karen Kelly on tin whistle, Stuart Klinger on banjo, guitar, and vocals, Sebastian McLaughlin on mandolin and banjo, Yianni Naslas on bass, Daniel Sutton on accordion, Steve Wickins on vocals, bodhrán and swanee whistle, and Jeff “Polly” Young on fiddle. Cover band or not, the more members on the stage (and the less technology), the harder it is to remain tight. These eight were tight; not the tight of rote playing, but the tightness that comes from knowing the songs, knowing each others’ playing style, and being able to viscerally emote in the same manner. Four songs into the first set, “Rising Moon,” this was more than obvious. This octet was in sync with one another.

Let me admit something, I have never been a fan of “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,” but even their rendition of this song had me bobbing my head. Three other great moments included “Whiskey You’re the Devil” – many a drunk night I sung this one loudly for my neighbors! But this rendition on stage sounded more urgent than any other version I have heard of this song. “Dirty Old Town” was “fuller” than I ever heard before – Wickins’ voice just lends itself to really emote in this song. And then there was “Turkish Song of the Damned.” Young’s fiddle was put to the test on this one and surpassed expectations. The entire vibe of this song was amazing; the rendition was definitely slightly darker than the original, but that just brought out the power of the lyrics even more: “The spectre on my back will soon be free, the dead have come to claim a debt from thee.”

Final verdict: great cover band, and you should head over to their MySpace and Facebook, sign up, and keep up with them. I believe they will be on “holiday” till September… but hopefully, if you are in the NYC area and free when they play, you’ll come by for some Black Stuff and good music.

Set List:
1. Misty Morning Albert Bridge
2. Spanish Lady
3. Nancy Whiskey
4. Rising of the Moon
5. Whiskey You’re the Devil
6. Streams of Whiskey
7. Old Main Drag
8. Broad Majestic Shannon
9. If I Should Fall from Grace with God
10. Sally MacLennane
11. Poor Paddy

12. A Pair of Brown Eyes
13. Greenland Whale Fisheries
14. Sayonara
15. Kitty
16. Dirty Old Town
17. Bottle of Smoke
18. Boys from the Country Hell
19. White City
20. Sickbed
21. Turkish Song of the Damned
22. Fiesta

Keep up with Streams of Whiskey at their MySpace and Facebook.
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15 July 2010

Catching up with Via Audio and The Disco Biscuits

Slowly but surely I am catching up… and here are two albums that should have been written about already. Both American (see, I do listen to American music!), what I like about both bands is their range of musical references. They are able to bring in a lot of distinct elements, often time contradictory to one another, and meld it into a perfect song. Both have great pop sensibilities, but both are not trying to produce generic, throwaway, bubble gum pop – actually, I would not call any of this pop by any means. Instead Via Audio and veterans The Disco Biscuits offer up relevant and urgent music that is distinctly their own brands. I should have written about these a few weeks ago, but never had the chance and always get caught up on new music; so I know you may have heard these albums already, so I am not going to belabor the point… just add in my own two cents. Enjoy!

Via Audio “Animalore” (above) /
The Disco Biscuits: “Planet Anthem” (below)

Via Audio: “Animalore”

Like Heloise and the Savoir Faire, Interpol, and The Scissor Sisters, Via Audio offers up music that is distinctly New York. Out of Brooklyn, NY USA, Via Audio released their sophomore effort, “Animal Lore” (9 March 2010), earlier this year. Though losing one member, now a quartet (Tom Deis, David Lizmi, Jessica Martins, and Adam Sturtevant), the music is actually better than the first time around. I had that feeling of a new band trying too hard the first time around with the debut, but this time the music is more alluring and more infectious. With a touch of New York indie, less “folk” but more “funk,” “Animalore” offers up groovy tunes that are party or lounge ready.

The cover (above) of the album belies the music you are going to be listening to. The strong charging ram is not a metaphor, per se, for this album; the music is not confrontational, nor is it in your face. From the opening, you are seduced into a lounging feel; opening with “Hello” – the introduction is a sedate one, but one of those songs that is pretty open-ended in style, other than its obvious 60s references, that you know that anything can come next. It is the kind of opening that leaves the sky as the limit for what is about to come. “Goldrush” then rushes in and is a bit more new wave in feel, with little breathing sound effects in the background; the transition between verse and chorus is one of the most beautiful of the year. But if you thought that the music was going to continue in this fashion, you were dead wrong.

The third song, the lead single, then comes, “Babies,” and the disco references rush in – let the mirror ball start spinning. Sandwiched in the middle of the album is a small interlude, “Too Quiet,” that helps with the transition to “Lizard Song.” “You wanted a monster, here I am,” is sung to an almost tropical arrangement – but kept from that cliché by the guitar work. And as you drown yourself towards the end, whether the melodramatically somber “Olga” or the playful “Happening,” you realize that the range of the band is extensive.

Without drastically changing it up, “Animalore” subtly moves through different styles of music, mixing up the feel song to song. Via Audio never allow you to become complacent with one style, always keeping you on your toes, but never getting gritty or in your face about it. All the time with that New York City sensuality to it, that kind of sensuality that you may be scared to give into, but definitely want to – and should in this case.

Track Listing:
1. Hello
2. Goldrush
3. Babies
4, Tigers
5. Watnted
6. Too Quiet
7. Lizard Song
8. Digital
9. Summer Stars
10. Oh Blah Wee
11. Olga
12. Happening

Keep up with Via Audio at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook,and Twitter.

Here is a live performance of “Babies” from the TenthRowConcerts YouTube Channel.

The Disco Biscuits: “Planet Anthem”

Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, The Disco Biscuits are perhaps the most ingenious band releasing this year. “Planet Anthem” (16 March 2010) incorporates everything from current indie trends to hip-hop, 80s new wave to 90s rock, and yet the album flows effortlessly from one song to another. This is a veteran group that knows how to compose music, knows their way around a studio, and can deliver the goods over and over again. And again, they deliver a schizophrenic collection of songs. Whether urging you to dance or seducing you into passion, this is a band that has not bought into the concept of sticking to one genre only, and is willing to dip their fingers into just about any style of music.

Sure the opening, “Loose Change,” reminds me of “Beetlebum” by Blur, but, as I like Blur, it did not make me cringe at all. In the track, an electronic voice states over and over again, “Money…” as the human voice chimes in the biblical lesson, “is the root of all evil.” Loose change is the root of all evil? Surely loose change can’t be evil? Irony at its best! Then “On Time” (featuring TuPhace) comes in and the party is ready to begin. Easily a contender for track of the year, this is a sleek, sexy, and sensual song that is hard not carried away in… can anyone tell me why radio programmers did not pick this one up? Though the song is not minimalist in sound, it is in approach: only the sounds and effects that add to the rhythm and lyrics are layered in. The song has the singular effect of getting you off of your arse and onto your feet for some dancing.

But the album, as I said above, is schizophrenic, it is all over the place. “Widgets” is closer to indie rock than anything else. “Konkrete” reminds me of industrial music around 1990, with a superior beat – if you were into the heydays of Meat Beat Manifesto, this will be a hard track to pass up. And if you ever wondered what the meeting of Intelligent Dance Music and dreampop would sound like, then listen to “Rain Song.” “The City” has that pyschadelia feel to it, while “Vacation” has that 90s grunge feel.

Then you have a song like “You and I” – just forget the schizophrenia from one track to the next, this is a schizophrenic fest all on its own. Again, another song that is easily a contender for track of the year, this song is simply orgiastic. And, I personally love schizophrenic albums; those kinds of album that you can never predict what is coming next and are often pleasantly surprised by what does come next. And this is what The Disco Biscuits have produced here with “Planet Anthem.” Do not let this album get by you.

Track Listing:
1. Loose Change
2. On Time, featuring TuPhace
3. Widgets
4. You and I
5, Konkrete
6. Uber Glue
7. Rain Song
8. Fish Out of Water
9. Sweatbox
10. The City
11. Big Wrecking Ball
12. Vacation
13. Quad D
14. Save Your Soul, deluxe edition
15. Camouflage Soul, deluxe edition

Keep up with The Disco Biscuits at their homepage and MySpace.

Here is their video for “One Time” (featuring TuPhace) from their MySpace video page.

On Time

The Disco Biscuits | MySpace Music Videos
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14 July 2010

Young Michelin Answers 5

First off I want to thank Jean-Mary, a dear friend, for taking the time to translate English to French, then French to English…. a process that took hours of his time to help me out. I thank you, and I give you a heads up that it will not be the last time!

I had the chance to review Young Michelin’s latest EP (link) and immediately wanted to ask them a few questions. Out of France, their breed of indie is infectious; singing in French, yet catching the attention of many “English” speakers, like myself, they are proof that the indie world is not only Anglo-American and that France has music to offer the world that is fresh, relevant, and urgent! My many thanks to Romain Guerret, singer / song-writer, for taking the time to Answer 5. [Please note, the interview in English appears first, the French follows, and then links to the band.]

1. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

The five members in the group have very different backgrounds: 70s rock, electro pop, garage rock…But what we like about Young Michelin is the love of punk rock, indie-pop, new wave, post punk, and a certain tradition of the French music also.

My favorite English artists are The Buzzcocks, The Cure (first era) [1977-1982], Shop Assistants, The Pastels, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Vaselines, The Fall, The Wake, Talulah Gosh, The Field Mice, The Pogues, Joy Division, the Pixies, Gorky Zygotic Mynci…a lot… a lot of Scottish, Welsh, and American bands, and a few British.

As for the French artists, I can mention those who are the most prominent: the Olivensteins, Eli and Jacno, Taxi Girl, Christophe, Yves Simon, Joe Dassin, Francois de Roubaix, Jacques Dutronc... the groups that are totally unknown in the U.S or England I believe.

For musical influences, I also really love the music of Baroque and the “moderns” (Debussy, satie and company) even though evidently YM does not list it, but paintings, nature, poetry, history, and my childhood are also some indirect influences, but I imagine they are very important in the process.

2. How did the band form? And what is the meaning behind “Young Michelin”?

Young Michelin is a really young group. (It only started in November 2009).

I did the first pieces/songs, and it’s been a year…all by myself with a rhythmic box, a guitar, an old pc…I was very sad, frustrated, and tired with a lot of things: of the music I listen to, the time that passed, of the moving world, of my personal situations (not really rejoicing about any of it).

So I was enclosed with only one rule: write songs with very few elements, in a spontaneous manner, without reflecting or thinking too much, record in one or two takes and allow my sentiment to express itself. The first five pieces were made very fast.

The first song/piece was “Les Copains” (The Friends).

I was very happy with the results. I put the songs on MySpace and was contacted immediately by people/spectators who were touched by the songs. Strangely, the fans were first Americans, the English reacted well to the strange songs; I was very surprised that they reacted because the songs were in French! Then I contacted some musicians, friends, some whom I play with in the group, Dondolo, then we started to rework the music, and write others in a more collective manner.

Young Michelin does not mean anything big…it’s an association of random words... but I love the sound of it…sweet and romantic

“Young” for the Anglo-Saxon side of music, and “Michelin” (an old French name) for the texts in French. What makes Young Michelin stick out is that they sing in French, but I don’t know how the English will be able to understand them! Nonetheless, they know some good pop songs that reflect their tradition (LOL).

3. It seems that it is not only the British are referencing the 80s in their music. Why do you think this is a trend that has started in France? And how would you distinguish it from the British wave of neo-80s?

The music of the 1980s has been present in all contemporary pop music for approximately ten years now!

I think that it’s hard because the music of the 80s cover a large spectrum of musical styles – electro, pop, post punk, indie pop, synthetic pop, new wave – there was really a mixture of everything in the 80s, and it was a decade of transition… a time when the “moderns” used newly introduced technologies and other rockers, punks, purists, disinterested in the “MTV soup” and the sophistication of the excess of productions in that time.

France is the most “electronic” place where people dance to 80s music that emerged before it was influenced. In France, what’s left of the 80s, I believe is the dance music, the synthetic pop and not indie-pop, the jangle pop or the twee pop, historically English genres… The English have more choices, they do not have the synthetic versions, nor do they dance to the music of the 80s.

Here, we don’t have any indie-pop tradition. France was the second patron of Jazz in the 50s, and it almost invented the Disco in the late 1970s, the disco songs have a successful origin of the “French touch” around the world for almost fifteen years now: Daft Punk, Air, Phoenix etc… It’s no longer the same as 2010, but rock in France, which has always been more or less confidential, is totally non-existent in England and the United States, often because the French rock, since 1960, is what we call the “ye ye” and is not related to “singer,” imitated the English and the Americans. Do you have originals in the U.S, whose interest of listening and speaking imitations comes from the country of Johnny Hallyday!??

We have found our specifics, our originality in the electronic music. That shows that there are many things in the French music in the 80s and other good groups “novo”/DIY/ Post punk like Jacno, Taxi girl, Metal Urban, Lucrate Milk, Oberkampf…

4. You quote Guy Ernest Debord on your MySpace page… and this intrigued me very much. Has Young Michelin been inspired by his and other writers’ words? Who? How?

Haha! Young Michelin is not a pro-situationist band! What impacted me the most of Guy Debord and his comrades is the comic and playful character of their interventions... The way they used to juggle with words, their permanent ill-faith, their sarcasm and their fondness for red wine. (Over here, Guy Debord and his work are highly considered by his followers, but unlike him, they have no sense of humor. I think that they lack some clues...)

France is a literary nation with great writers, great poets and brilliant thinkers. Debord is certainly among those who are talented. But according to me, he was, above all, a poet for his propensity to tell the truth. Because poetry, from my standpoint, is all about the truth.

The text published on my MySpace is very beautiful. It comes from the "Panegyric" which is a sort of memory of Guy Debord.

While writing "Les Copains," I had this extract before me. Considering out of its original context, the melancholy that emerges from it inspired me. It summarizes very well the essence of Young Michelin’s music, which shows that the awareness of the purest moments of our lives is behind us. It helps us accept this idea.

Politics do not interest me at all. I have never casted a vote in my life. The ideologies horrify me, only poetry, such as poetry of Baudelaire and the Surrealism, provide me with inspiration. Maupassant and ’’fantasy literature’’ are among my favorite as well.

Besides, the songs of Young Michelin have no literary pretensions. They remain an extension to pop music. Their beat has to be good with minimum content. I do not want to say anything senseless either. The words are more touching when its goes right to the point without too much care for rhetoric. That maybe an explanation of why the non-Francophones tend to react to YM's music.

5. I am writing from the other side of the Atlantic, and here in the United States the mainstream culture rarely, if ever, listens to music that is not American or British. Could you give the readers of SlowdiveMusic Blog a few reasons why they should invest the time in the French indie scene in general, and Young Michelin specifically?

The Anglophiles [and Americans] are not as parochial, protectionist and closed-minded in music. As evidence, I’m doing an interview with an American blog!

You are curious and often more spontaneous than the French people, less inclined to irony. You take things more simply and directly. If you like, you do not look into intellectual things.

Many groups and French musicians have recognition in their country only after being successful ABROAD. This is unfortunate but true.

What I would like to tell your countrymen is that they should put Justice and Daft Punk, Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf, Paris and the Eiffel Tower aside to dig around a bit.

They should start by having interest in French culture, its history, its customs, and finally French music. I first discovered England and developed an interest to it as a country before loving its music. In loving its music, I'm more interested in the history of the country, its customs, its aesthetic, its geography, its specifics...

I do not know, but, for example, they could start by listening to Eric Satie, Debussy, Fauret and Freels, Boris Vian, Pierre Henry, Jean Jacques Perrey, The Dogs, Jacno, ‘’’La souris déglingué’’, Metal Urbain, Christopher, Francis de Roubaix and so many other things.

Why should they listen to Young Michelin? Because I believe that it is an attempt to displace or rather to take the ownership of a specific musical genre from a nation (England) by another (France). It is not simply a copy and paste procedure to imitate the English people or simply for fun, to do the revival, but rather trying to create something original and unique.

While listening to our music, I hope that the Americans will not have the landscape of northern England in mind, but they will also see it as a bit of France. Even if in the end, the themes in our songs are totally universal, readily understandable by any human being sensitive to the horrors of life

1. Quels groupes, artistes, personnalités, genres t'influencent du point de vue musicale ou autres?

Les cinq membres du groupe ont des backgrounds musicaux assez différents, new wave, rock 70's, electro pop, garage rock... Mais ce qui nous lie dans Young Michelin c'est l'amour du punk rock, de l'indie pop, de la new wave, du post punk et un certaine
tradition de la chanson Française aussi.

Mes artistes Anglo Saxon préférés sont les Buzzcocks, The Cure (première époque), Shop Assistants, the Pastels, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Vaselines, The Fall, the Wake, Talulah Gosh, The field Mice, the Pogues, Joy Division, the Pixies, gorky zygotic
mynci... beaucoup beaucoup d'Ecossais, des Gallois, des américains et quelques Anglais!

Pour les Artistes Français, les plus connus, je pourrais citer: les Olivensteins, Eli et Jacno, Taxi Girl, Christophe, Yves Simon, Joe Dassin, François de Roubaix, Jacques Dutronc, des groupes ou artistes totalement inconnus aux USA ou en Engleterre j'imagine.

Voila pour les influences musicales, j'aime aussi beaucoup la musique Baroque et les "modernes" (debussy, satie et compagnie) même si evidemment ça ne s'entend pas dans YM! La peinture, la nature, la poésie, l'histoire, mon enfance sont aussi des
influences indirects mais très importantes dans le processus créatif j'imagine.

2. Quelle est l'origine de la formation de ce groupe musical? Que signifie "Young Michelin"?

Young Michelin est un très jeune groupe car il existe depuis Novembre 2009 !

J'ai fait les premiers morceaux il y'a un an, tout seul avec une boite à rythme, une guitare et un vieux PC, j'étais assez triste, un peu désabusé, frustré et fatigué de plein de choses, de la musique que j'entendais, du temps qui passe, de la marche du monde en générale, de ma situation personelle pas très réjouissante, aussi.

Alors je me suis enfermé en me fixant une règle: écrire des chansons avec très peu d'éléments, de façon spontanée, sans trop réfléchir, enregistrer en une ou deux prises et laisser mes sentiments s'exprimer.

Les cinq premiers morceaux se sont fait très vite. Le premier étant "les copains".

J'étais content du résultat, j'ai mis ça sur Myspace et très vite j'ai étais contacté par des gens touchés au coeur par ces chansons, étrangement, ce sont d'abord des Américains, des Anglais qui ont réagis le mieux à ces petits morceaux bricolés, j'étais étonné qu'ils accrochent parce que c'était chanté en Français! Ensuite j'ai contacté les musiciens, des amis, avec lesquels je joue dans mon autre groupe, Dondolo, et on a commencé à répéter les morceaux et à en écrire d'autres de manière plus collective.
YOUNG MICHELIN ça ne veut pas dire grand chose... c'est une association de mots aléatoire, mais j'aime la sonorité, douce et romantique.

"Young" pour le coté Anglo Saxon de la musique et "Michelin" (un vieux prénom Français) pour les textes en Français donc. Ce qui fait l'intéret et la spécificité de Young Michelin c'est que c'est chanté en Français, je ne sais pas comment ça peut être perçu par les Anglophones? En tout cas ils savent reconnaitre de bonnes pop songs, peut importe la langue hihihih.

3. Il est evident que ce n'est pas uniquement la scène musicale anglaise qui est influencée par la musique des années 80. Pourquoi, selon toi, cette tendance a-t-elle pris naissance en France? Et quelles differences fais-tu entre cette vague néo-80 française et celle de l'Angleterre?

La musique de la décennie 1980 est présente dans toute la pop music contemporaine et ça dure depuis presque 10 ans maintenant!

Je pense que c'est du au fait que la musique des années 80 couvre un large spectre de styles musicaux, de l'electro, de la pop, du post punk, de la pop indie, de la synth pop, de la no wave, il y'avait vraiment de tout dans les années 80, et puis c'est une décénnie de transition, d'un coté les "modernes" utilisant les nouvelles technologies naissantes et de l'autre les rockeurs, les punks, puristes, dégoutés par la "soupe MTV" et la sophistication à outrance des productions de cette époque.

En France c'est le coté plus Electronique et dansant de la musique de ces années là qui a d'abord émérgée en tant qu'influence. En France ce qu'on retient des années 80, je crois c'est la dance music et la synth-pop et pas l'indie-pop, la jangle pop ou la twee pop, genre historiquement Anglais... Les Anglais ont plus de choix, ils ne retiennent pas que la version synthétique et dansante de la musique de ces années là.

Ici nous n'avons aucune tradition indie-pop. La France à était la seconde patrie du Jazz dans les années 50, puis elle a presque inventé la "Disco" fin 1970, le son Disco est à l'origine du succès de la "french touch" à travers le monde depuis 15 ans, Daft Punk, Air, Phoenix etc etc. Ce n'est plus tout à fait pareil en 2010 mais le Rock en France, ça a toujours était plus ou moins confidentiel, le rock Français totalement inéxistant en Engleterre ou aux états-unis, souvent parce le rock Français depuis les années 60 et ce
qu'on appellait les "yé yé" n'a fait que "singer", imiter, les Anglais et les Americains. Vous, vous aviez les originaux chez vous, quel intéret d'écouter de pâles imitations venues du pays de Johnny Hallyday !??

Nous avions trouvé notre spécificité, notre originalité dans la musique éléctronique. Cela dit il y'a beaucoup de bonnes choses dans la musique Française des années 80 et quelques bons groupes "novo" / DIY/ Post punk comme Jacno, Taxi girl, Metal Urbain, Lucrate Milk, Oberkampf...

4. Tu as cité Guy Ernest Debord sur ta page Myspace et cela m'a beaucoup intringué. Est-ce que Young Michel a été inspiré par ses oeuvres ou plutôt par d'autres auteurs?

Ahah! Young Michelin n'est pas un groupe pro-situationniste! Ce que je retiens de Guy Debord et de ses compagnons c'est surtout le caractère comique et ludique de leurs interventions... la façon qu'ils avaient de jouer avec les mots, la mauvaise foi permanente, systématique, le "foutage de gueule" intégrale, et un certain penchant pour le vin rouge. (ici Guy Debord et ses écrits sont pris très au sérieux par ses disciples, contrairement à lui, ils n'ont aucun humour, ils leur manque quelques clés je crois...).

La France est une nation Littéraire, nous avons de grands écrivains, de grands poètes, de brillants penseurs et Debord en était un... Mais pour moi c'était aussi et surtout un poète, dans le sens ou il tendait à dire la vérité, la poésie pour moi c'est la vérité. Le texte que l'on a mis sur notre myspace est très beau, il est tiré de "Panégyrique" sorte de mémoires de Guy Debord. En composant "les copains" j'avais sous les yeux, cet extrait, sorti de son contexte, la mélancolie qui s'en dégage m'a inspiré des images, des tableaux, il résume bien l'essence de la musique de Young Michelin. Avoir conscience que les plus pures moments de notre existence sont derrière nous et arriver à vivre avec cette idée.

La politique ne m'intéresse pas, je n'ai jamais voté, les idéologues me font horreur, seul la poèsie m'inspire, la poésie de Baudelaire, le surréalisme, aussi. J'aime également beaucoup Maupassant, la littérature fantastique...

Après, les textes de Young Michelin n'ont pas de prétentions littéraires, cela reste des textes qui accompagnent de la musique pop,il faut que ça sonne et qu'il y'ai un minimum de fond. Je n'ai pas envie de raconter n'importe quoi non plus, les mots font sens sans figure de style trop compliquées, pas de verbiage, droit au but. C'est pour ça que les non Francophones arrivent à réagir à la musique de YM peut être...

5. J'écris depuis l'autre côté de l'Atlantique et ici, aux État-Unis, la plupart des gens écoute rarement, pour ne pas dire jamais, des chansons qui ne proviennent pas des États-unis ou de l'Angleterre. Peux-tu donner aux lecteurs du blog ''SlowdiveMusic'' des raisons pour lesquelles ils devraient écouter la musique française et plus spécialement celle de ''Young Michelin''?

Les Anglo-saxon ne sont pas aussi chauvins, fermés et protectionnistes que cela en matière de musique, la preuve je réponds à une interview pour un blog Américain!

Vous êtes souvent plus curieux et spontanés que les Français, moins enclins à l'ironie, vous prenez les choses plus simplement, plus directement, si vous aimez vous n'allez pas chercher à trop intelectualiser les choses.

Bon nombre de groupes et musiciens Français n'ont de reconnaissance dans leur pays qu'après avoir connu du succès à l'étranger, c'est bien dommage mais c'est comme ça...

Moi ce que j'aurais envie de dire à tes compatriotes c'est d'oublier un peu Justice et Daft Punk, Edith Piaf et Serge Gainsbourg, Paris et la tour Eiffel et de creuser un peu autour.

Qu'ils commencent à s'intéresser à la culture Française, son histoire, ses coutumes pour ensuite s'intéresser à sa musique, moi j'ai d'abord aimé l'Engleterre en tant que pays avant d'aimer sa musique, et en aimant sa musique je me suis encore plus intéresser à l'histoire du pays, ses moeurs, son ésthétique, sa géographie, ses spécificités.

Je ne sais pas mais par exemple, ils pourraient commencer par écouter Eric Satie, Debussy, Fauret, puis Fréhel, Boris Vian, Pierre henry, Jean Jacques Perrey, les Dogs, Jacno, La souris déglingué, Métal Urbain, Christophe, François de Roubaix et tant d'autres choses encore.

Pourquoi devraient ils écouter Young Michelin ...? Parce que selon moi c'est une tentative de déterritorialisation ou plutot d'appropriation d'un genre musicale spécifique à une nation (l'Engleterre) par une autre (la France), il ne s'agit pas de faire un simple copier-coller, d'imiter les Anglais ou de s'amuser à purement et simplement faire du revival, mais d'essayer de créer quelque chose d'original, d'unique.

J'aimerais qu'en écoutant notre musique les Américains n'aient pas que les paysages du nord de l'Engleterre en tête, mais qu'ils y voient aussi un petit peu de la France, même, si pour finir, les thèmes abordés dans nos chansons sont totalement universels, immédiatement compréhensibles par tout être humains sensibles aux affres de l'existence.

Keep up with Young Michelin at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.
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13 July 2010

Mystery Jets: "Serotonin"

Slightly giving into this 80’s mania, Mystery Jets release their third studio album, “Serotonin” (5 July 2010 in the UK, 13 July 2010 in the USA). No, this is not a new wave or post-punk revival album in the least – and we thank this quintet for that – but there is a feel of classic arrangements with a touch of key effects. Sticking to a mid-tempo pace for the most part, the album is released by Rough Trade, the first album Mystery Jets recorded with their new home. Now, Mystery Jets might have been nervous about joining this eclectic family of artists and having to live up to an amazing reputation, which includes acts such as Belle & Sebastian, James, Mazzy Star, and Scritti Politti. Luckily, after one listen, “Serotonin” proves to be a perfect addition to this eclectic label.

The album is named after that chemical that makes you feel good or makes you a bit whacky, depending on how much is in the mix. And this proves to be a perfect metaphor for the album. There are times, to quote Robert Smith twice, the album is so “it’s a perfect day… to burst, grin, giggle, bliss, skip, jump and sing…” And other times it is more of “nothing ever changes, nothing ever moves, and I run around hysterical in dead persistent gloom.” What is most amazing about the album is that both extremes of serotonin are reached within the same mid-tempo range. They never feign an ecstatic or the harrowingly mundane attitude – keeping a musical balance and sincerity, they allow the sometimes intricate, sometimes simple and direct arrangements and lyrics to carry you on this musical journey.

Opening with “Alice Springs” eerie intro, Blaine Harrison sings, “Freedom is an illusion generated by your brain to deadly cut the words to ever explain. And love is the taste you get on the tip of your tongue; better to have loved and lost than to have lived and never loved anyone.” Beat drops, amazing guitar arrangements, this is the one song that is dying to explode into a frenzy – or is that hysterics? And of course, I am a sucker for a literary reference, and though the use of Tennyson is a bit cliché, it is integrated nicely into the song. “To Late to Talk” plays with the sonic dichotomy of a piano and synths. Then “The Girl Is Gone” comes on, and you wonder to yourself, “Haven’t I heard this one before?” No, you haven’t, but the fact that you would think so is the testament to solid songwriting: the ability to make a song feel so familiar from first listen. No samples and no ripping off another song, there is a familiarity that just draws you into this song.

As the album unfurls, your only complaint will be is that all the songs, somehow or other, revolve around “love.” Then again, ninety percent of music is about relationships, love, break-ups, “please come back to me, I will die without you” mantras. But unlike other albums that typically make me sick to the stomach with all the gushiness, Harrison sells the lyrics, the band emotes sincerity in their music, and the album, at its completion with “Lorna Doone,” is endearing in its own way. And just like the album started with a literary reference, it ends with one: "Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor," by Richard Doddridge Blackmore – a twisted (and wordy) eighteenth century novel; I will avoid the long, tortured plot summary and say she (Lorna) has that happy ever after end.

Solid album, that demonstrates growth from a band that is putting out a third album. With “Serotonin,” Mystery Jets does not reproduce their own or someone else’s past, instead they push forward and are starting to demonstrate the maturity and sophistication that is inevitable when you are reflective of your craft. This is a great album through-and-through, and where as Mystery Jets have never stopped me in my tracks before and made me really want to listen, they succeeded in just that this time around – the third time is the charm, and it is time to take another listen now.

Track Listing:
1. Alice Springs
2. Too Late to Talk
3. The Girl Is Gone
4. Flash a Hungry Smile
5. Serotonin
6. Show Me the Light
7. Dreaming of Another World
8. Lady Grey
9. Waiting On a Miracle
10. Melt
11. Lorna Dane

Keep up with Mystery Jets at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Dreaming of Another World” from their YouTube Channel: MysteryJets.

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06 July 2010

The City of Abacus - Volume 1: MX-41

My thanks to all at The City of Abacus for keeping me in the loop.

Before anything else, I have good news; I was listening to one of my “writing” albums (The Associates’ “The Affection Punch”) when I came across some news on the Internet: Radio 6 has been saved. According to the BBC Strategic Review Interim Conclusions, not only is the station “well-liked” by its audience, but also “was highly distinctive and made an important contribution.” To all the supported and love Radio 6, the support has paid off!

Imagine living in a world where at the end of every week your memories are wiped away from your mind, leaving you tabula rasa. Imagine for a moment a world in which all of your worries and concerns could be dissolved into thin air. Well, in reality, it is happening everyday: between television and radio programmers selling us what is “hip,” partisan cable news stations in the USA dismissing different points of views and trying to brainwash audiences, and reality television telling us what reality really is, we are constantly forced to reconfigure what it is we really think, but just for a moment, imagine even all of that was wiped clean every week. Welcome to the City of Abacus, and let me introduce you to the MX-41.

Volume 1 of “The City of Abacus,” titled, “MX-41,” introduces the reader to the technological “marvel” of the title’s sake. Though Queen Virusos will respond to any request from her subjects, these requests disappear when MX-41 wipes clean of all of their worries. With a tabula rasa for a brain, everyone melts into a reality of conformity and ambivalence. Even our heroine, Freeda, suffers from this ambivalence, surrounded by relics that have “no clear use, she sits and wonders…”

But the plot thickens with a stranger, a fight, a keyboard-looking device, and Freeda’s being unaffected, for some reason, by the scans. The stranger narrates a partial tale, stating, “We were once an advanced city, we enjoyed progress, arts, literature, music… We had ideas. … [W]e were quickly reduced to brainwashed subjects, barely able to question the world around us.” And the adventure begins…

As I have stated before, this is a story that is urgent and relevant to our day-and-age. When we are wiped clean of our concerns and our very thoughts are not allowed to flourish, we lose our individuality, culture, and existence, and conform to living in ambivalence. This is why “The City of Abacus” should be on your must read list over the next few months.

Keep up with City of Abacus at its homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Also, here are a few links of where you can purchase Volume 1:

The City of Abacus homepage (via Paypal).

For those who do not have PayPal, here are some of the national links for iTunes where Volume 1 can be downloaded:















New Zealand





United Kingdom

United States


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