31 December 2010

The Best of 2010

What can I say about music and 2010? It was simply incredible. Below (not ranked) are SlowdiveMusic Blog’s top ten picks for videos, tracks, and albums, and we all here love just how eclectic this mix is. So, on that note, we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Enjoy!

[Note: tracks or albums listed in alphabetical order.]

Best Videos

Two Door Cinema Club’s “Come Back Home” (video from twodoorcinemaclub).

Editors’ “Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool” (video from editorsofficial).

Shakespears Sister’s “It’s A Trip” (video from ShakespearsSisterTV).

Skunk Anansie’s “My Ugly Boy” (video from SkunkAnansieOfficial).

Destronics’ “The Night a Solider” (video from imetrages).

Melissa Auf der Maur’s “Out of Our Minds” (video from MadMChannel).

The Joy Formidable’s “Popinjay” (video from TheJoyFormidable).

One Night Only’s “Say You Don’t Want It” (video from OneNightOnlyVEVO).

The Pinker Tones’ “Tokyo” (video from thepinkertones).

Post Death Soundtrack’s “Ultraviolence” (video from postdeathsoundtrack).

Best Tracks

Sudden Death Over Time’s “Blue Sky Night” (track from SuddenDeathOverTime1).

O.Children’s “Heel” – check out the preview on iTunes.

Katie Melua’s “I’d Love to Kill You” – check out the preview on iTunes.

Kyte’s “Ihnfsa” (video from kytetheband).

Orphan Boy’s “Pop Song” (video from orphanboyuk).

Holy Fuck’s “Red Lights” (video from youngturksrecords).

The Pipettes’ “Stop the Music” (video from thepipettesofficial).

Hope Slide’s “Topple the Sky” – check out the preview on iTunes.

Hurts’ “Wonderful Life” (video from MySpace Video Page).

HURTS - Wonderful Life (Official Video)

HURTS | Myspace Video

The Courteeners’ “You Overdid It Doll” (video from TheCourteenersVEVO).

Best Albums

Delphic: “Acolyte”

Here are the videos for “Doubt” and “Halcyon” (videos from delphicmusic).

Villagers: “Becoming a Jackal”

Here are the videos for “Becoming a Jackal” and “That Day” (videos from DominoRecords).

Vampire Weekend: “Contra”

Here are the videos for “Cousins” and “Holiday” (videos from XLRecordings).

Northern Portrait: “Criminal Art Lovers”

Here is the video for “Crazy” (video from NorthernPortrait).

Kent: “En plats i solen” [“A Place in the Sun”]

Here are the tracks “Gamla Ullevi” [Od Ullevi”] and “Skisser för sommaren” [Sketches for the Summer”] (tracks from kentchannel).

Marina and the Diamonds: “The Family Jewels”

Here are the videos for “I Am Not a Robot,” “Oh No!,” and “Shampain” (videos from Marianaandthediamonds).

Murder By Death: “Good Morning, Magpie”

Here are the videos for “As Long As There Is Whiskey in the World” and “White Noise” (videos from vagrantrecords).

Corinne Bailey Rae: “The Sea”

Here are the videos for “I’d Do It All Again” and “Closer” (videos from CorinneBaileyRae).

The Unravelling: “13 Arcane Hymns”

Here is the video for “Where Will It End?” (video from theunravellingmusic).

Skunk Anansie: “Wonderlustre”

Here is the video for “Over The Love” (video from SkunkAnansieOfficial).

Keep up with artists / bands at the following sites:

Melissa Auf der Maur: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Corinne Bailey Rae: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Courtneers: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Delphic: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Destronics: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Editors: homepage, MySpace.

Holy Fuck: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Hope Slide: MySpace.

Hurts: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Joy Formidable: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Kent: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Kyte: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Marina and the Diamonds: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Katie Melua: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

Murder by Death: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

Northern Portrait: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

O.Children: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

One Night Only: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Orphan Boy: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Pinker Tones: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Pipettes: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Post Death Soundtrack: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

Shakespears Sister: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Skunk Anansie: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

Sudden Death Over Time: MySpace, Facebook.

Two Door Cinema Club: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

Vampire Weekend: homepage, MySpace, Facebook.

Villagers: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.

The Unravelling: homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter.
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26 December 2010

The Hope Slide: "The Hope Slide"

During the morning hours of 9 January 1965, the largest landslide in Canadian history occured – and though there is a level of hopelessness if caught in a landslide of this magnitude, it ironically occurs right in the Nicolum Valley, close by the municipality of Hope. And that is where The Hope Slide (the duo of Michaela Galloway and John Lucas) took inspiration for their name. Such a big event, the first question that pops to mind is if this independent band could live up to the name? One word: Yes! Their eponymous debut album (28 September 2010 in digital format) is a journey through grandiose soundscapes, overwhelming undertows, and brilliant craftsmanship.

Before going any further, let me make a few important distinctions. What passes, quite often, as dream pop or shoegaze these days is not dreampop or shoegaze. In brief, dream pop has to have a level of etherealness (usually in the vocals, sometimes in the keys or mood of the song) and shoegaze (which is the “child” of dream pop) always consists of some sort of sonic distortion but yet consistently focused on melody. Check … Check … The Hope Slide checks as the real McCoy on both accounts – these are not ironic hipsters trying to capitalize on the past; Galloway and Lucas are carefully crafting music in a duo tradition, expanding the genres and adding in their own special twist to the music. Secondly, they are a band that happens to be electronic, not an electronic band. Perhaps it was circumstances that spearheaded the direction to make music electronically (especially in terms of the beat), but they do not make music to be “electropop,” “electronica,” “synthrock,” or any other catchy label. But, hey, they use a Moog Little Phatty – definitely a reason to give them two thumbs up!

Let’s start with the end, “Parish.” The longest track on the album (almost six-and-a-quarter) and the cathartic epic of the album, The Hope Slide is able to combine ebullience with visceral power. Funky intro and beats, the vocal arrangements another level of “sound,” with a wide range of guitar textures (from ethereal to hauntingly distorted), the beat drops out more than once, giving the faux feeling that the song is about to end, and then joyfully kicking back in. It is the kind of the song that leaves you on the edge of your seat, the kind of song you hit repeat for. When it finally fades out, it is to a wall of distortion.

“The Hope Slide” isn’t just a collection of songs; it is an album. Taking on the gambit in thematic content, unified by the concept of “adversity,” this an album for deep contemplation and emotional release. The most interesting track is “The Survivor”: no beat, no distinct vocals – carried by a simple guitar arrangement and vocal effects, with background “noise,” it is a distinct take on the idea of surviving. I guess if you were a survivor of anything tragic like the Hope Slide, it is not an adrenaline-rush, hyper situation, but rather something slower and methodic, overwhelming but with light at the end of the tunnel. And the track captures just that. That sort of motif is kept in the introduction of the next track, “The Ninth Compartment,” but nearly two-minutes into the track, there is a three-sixty and the electro-rock shoegaze starts.

But each song is an adventure on its own; each song has its own distinct personality. “The Westward Pull” is sonically a world of sultriness, while “A Red Forest” is a world of anxiousness. The opening track, “White Corvette,” is one continual undertow that shifts in intensity again and again, while “Topple the Sky” (ironically) gives you that feeling of drifting through air.

I can easily go track-by-track and say something about each song; this is one of those few albums that I’m simply addicted to each song. Galloway and Lucas have created the dreampop / shoegaze monument of the year with “The Hope Slide.” If you are fan of these genres and bands like Cocteau Twins, Curve, Kitchens of Distinctions, Lush, Swallow, and Ride, this is the band for you. And if you have no clue on who these bands are or what dreampop or shoegaze is, then The Hope Slide is the perfect place to start your journey of discovery. (I know it is a hard sell without being able to share a video, but you have to trust me on this one.) In one word, the album is “Ace!”

Track Listing
1. White Corvette
2. The Prince William Sound
3. Topple the Sky
4. A Red Forest
5. In Ashe
6. The Survivor
7. The Ninth Compartment
8. The Westward Pull
9. Passage
10. Parish

Keep up with The Hope Slide at MySpace.
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25 December 2010

Mutineers: "Friends, Lovers, Rivals"

I was minding my own business sitting in a café in the New York City the other day, laptop out, writing, bent on getting everything written that had to be written by the close of the year; I was listening to some music when a total stranger came over to me and asked, “Are you really listening to Mutineers?” in his thick, I would say Scouse, accent. He joined me at my table, stereotypically I drinking coffee and he tea. We spoke about the Mancunian band and agreed that their debut album, “Friends, Lovers, Rivals” (29 October 2010), was one of the most interesting releases of the year. We agreed that their impressive resume to date (which includes opening for the likes of veteran Bernard Sumner’s [of Joy Division and New Order fame] Bad Lieutenant and The View). But their claim to fame is not having a singular kind of musical reference, but rather their ability to have learnt from 70s, 80s, and 90s, while avoiding all the clichés of the moment.

The vocal stand out in much the same way that Brett Anderson’s, of Suede, does. Nicholas James Mallins has one of the most distinct voices in music, singing with visceral power, his vocal arrangements work with and complement the musical arrangements. And to continue the Suede comparison, the guitar arrangements are as intricate, crisp, and beautiful as Bernard Butler’s. And though some of us (like myself) would be jumping for joy for a Suede-esque band, there is way too much in the mix for Mutineers to be considered so. The use of ambient, whiffling keyboard will remind you of The Cure and fellow post-punks / new wavers of mid-80s (think “In Between Days” and “Just Like Heaven”). The maturity and introspection will make you think of Echo and the Bunnymen and The Lotus Eaters (think “Crystal Clear”). But all these distinct elements are laid over their own brand of pop sensibility that is fresh, relevant, and urgent in the context of today.

The opening track, “Infidelity” (considering the name of the album, brilliant opening track!), starts with a steady beat and keyboard, making you itch for house music, but instead you get a lusciously, ambient soulful song, where guitars and keys compete in the soundscape for dominance. This flows nicely into “Shadow Kisses.” Keeping the same format of the opening track, except poppier. Both of these songs are big in sound, big in feel. Though everything on the album breathes humility, there is a sense that these guys are musically ready for big venues. The closing track confirms this: “Hyde Road.” Typical of bands like The Cure, the opening and closing track of an album are the perfect opening and closing songs for a set – and you can hear the big ending in this song.

“One Last Chance” is one of my two favorite tracks – this song swirls in and oozes perfect pop sensibility without betraying its intricacies and visceral power. It is that kind of pop song that leaves a greater impression than just ripples in water; the song is endearingly haunting. And though I normally scoff at people asking for “one last chance,” the conviction of Mutineers comes right through; they sell the song, make it believable and sincere, making you wish they got that last chance. The other track I am addicted to is “The Auctioneer.” “Don’t walk away… keep on running,” Mallins croons in the chorus, and the music creates that sense of anxiousness that the lyrics are inspiring. And when music and lyrics work so well, so precisely, in tandem, it elevates the song from good to great. And though they reproduce this several times on the album, it is most apparent in “The Auctioneer.”

And for all my fellow post-punk obsessed friends, check out “Stick Together.” This is post-punk for a new generation that does not rehash the exact sound of the past, but applies the aesthetical mindset to a new generation. Ian Curtis and Billy McKenzie are probably smiling down on these guys with this track. And that is the highest compliment I could give.

So why Mutineers? One, one should always support nascent bands, especially one as talented as Mutineers. Two, “Friends, Lovers, Rivals” (which could be the name of a chapter in anyone’s biography!) is an adventure through a luscious soundscape that is infectious and vividly striking, with intricate arrangements that are heartfelt. Three, this is definitely the kind of band and album that leaves you pondering, “What’s the next release going to be like?” And that is sorrowfully missing in today’s fly-by-night acts and releases – who cares what comes next? “Just give me now” seems to be the attitude, but Mutineers has that craftsmanship that leaves you thinking, “What else is up their sleeves?” They have the distinctive sound, the songwriting chops, and the visceral power that bands strive for; I have a feeling that as time goes on, and they congeal and mature as a group, we can expect some more interesting things.

Track Listing
1. Infidelity
2. Shadow Kisses
3. One Last Chance
4. You Use To Be Ok
5. The Landlords Daughter
6. My Words Desert You
7. Apologies
8. The Auctioneers
9. Stick Together
10. Alone In Our Ideas
11. Hyde Road

Keep up with Mutineers at MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is a stream of Mutineers song “Shadow Kisses” and a live performance of “Hyde Road” (while supporting Bad Lieutenant), both from their YouTube Channel: armstrongthomas.

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Viking Dress Answers 5

This posting has a crazy history behind it. From the moment I reviewed Viking Dress (link) and my ever-growing curiosity of the French indie scene, I knew I had to interview Serge Majewski. A few e-mails later, he agreed; questions were translated into French sent and returned, then the process of getting the answers into English went a bit awry. Well after the anticipated date, now Christmas day, my present to my readers is finally the interview with Serge Majewski of Viking Dress. I would like to personally thank him for his patience and for answering 5.

First the interview in English, followed by the French, then links to and video by the band.


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

There are certainly a lot! To be short and not list all the bands, I rather propose a little selection that I prepared especially for SlowdiveMusic Blog – link. There are a lot of English bands from the 80s and American bands from the 70s. I did not succeed in finding Felt, my fetish (or obsession). Maurice Deebank’s guitars really inspire the notes, notably by the title "So Vain" and "Generique". Listen to "Silver Fountain of Paradise Square" availabe on YouTube, a marvelous instrumentals. Another band that I was also unable to find on Deezer: ME and their album, “Fecund Haunts,” which is a true gem, also the inspiration of the release of a title like "Generique" for the right combinations and harmonies. I was also not able to put my hands on the complete version of Brown Eyes by Fleetwood Mac that focuses on the magnificent "Tusk" and that inspired in an unconscious manner the evolution of "Lalies Game." I would also like to equally propose the psychiatric music of the American Van Dyke Parks on “Song Cycle.” Little precision concerning my choice on French bands, they carry themselves on bands singing "ligne claire" (clear line).

To respond in a complete manner to your question, I could equally evoke the foreign strange contemporary literature and rather Anglo-Saxons (that helps me in fabricating or making the words), the scene writer Luc Moulet for his liberty and the English draughtsman (drawer) Glen Baxter.

2. You sing both in French and English, what is your approach to songwriting and how do you make the choice of language?

In my case, even if it is me who writes the lyrics (except for "So Vain"), I've never really considered writing in an extremely thoughtful way, but I try to be as honest as possible while using very few words. Initially, the idea is to confront me in French. I only do it when a piece permits it because English imposes itself most of the time.

Frederick Landini is the producer of three songs on the disc and he helped me define the project. The color of our disc was more important than the choice of language. So this choice was made according to what we wanted to bring out in terms of production and what the whole disc has to communicate at the end.

In general, I do not listen to French pop songs; I do not think that they are captivating. It's very complicated for a French singer to appropriate his own language and create the magic with it. However, it is indisputable that when the French pop dares to use French and manages to marry it successfully to the level of musical requirements of the British bands, it results to new territories that have not been much explored before. Importing the Anglo-Saxon sound and rhythm is what made the success of some bands here. In this field, in 2010, there is the very promising Young Michelin. (Link to the band, and links to review and interview on SlowdiveMusic Blog.)

3. One can easily see a lot of references to the 80s pop in your music, but also has to acknowledge your originality. What do you think of these independent groups whose music and creativity depend totally on the past groups?

Sylvain of Blog On-A-Good-Day wrote a very nice article on our disc where he notices that Viking Dress is part of a musical trend that shows frontal influences. Pop music is economic: The styles and figures are threadbare, discarded and recycled. At one point, I wanted there to be "second hand" in the name of my group. In my case, the initial intent is often a parody. Singers, of my favorite bands, helps for the starting pulse and then I go searching alone with the musicians to bring things back to the surface and give particular importance to elements that seemed accessories in the beginning. I do not consider myself a true songwriter and I am more interested in the research.

4. As this is my favorite song and I'm still not tired of listening to it, could you tell me the story behind “Lalie's Game?”

“Lalie's Game” is the new version of a single that existed at the time of my initial project. This project was called Lalie (tiens tiens). It wasn’t that professional and was more of a home studio, the voices were tampered with and I did the vocals myself. This piece is a loop. I like it, for finding the repetitive structure that can be developed over time and through different periods and variations. The words of this single, very short, and the marine component came somewhat naturally. Pandora's voice (the singer of The Leeds (link), one of my favorite bands from Southern France – they decided to stop with everything this year) was a surprise because it transformed the disc and this single, particularly, to something else and there is a real dialogue between her voice and the guitars. She makes you think of the singer of 90's Lush (a band I barely know). When I discovered The Leeds, in any case, I thought a lot about the groups of the 90's.

The mixing work of the Gallic David Wrench (Caribou, Bath For Lashes…), especially on this track, is also important because it goes into details.

5. The American and the British scenes are very insular and self-referencing, unlike the French scene, I think. What distinctions and similarities do you find between these scenes?

That's true, but it is interesting when the American and the British musicians extend their boundaries beyond home. There is a bit of Jamaican influence in a lot of English punk bands, African’s kora in the guitar playing of the British Johnny Marr or Pygmy’s singing in some songs of Americans Animal Collective. In France, it is a bit unique. I will not be very original in saying that we have always imitated the pop music of Anglo-Saxon countries and I belong to the generation that witnessed the French groups overcoming the complexities of singing in English. The French indie scene has engaged in the international stage and, since then, started making a lot of change and integrating new things. Today, an independent scene is particularly emerging in southern France, where I live.

Frederick, who is the producer of our record, is also the patron of the Midi Festival, in Hyères, my southern city, a festival that is now very well known. Among other things, it revealed some of the best bands in California at this time, including Girls. Our coast is matching the artistic effort of the other side. This is movement in both directions, it's “economic,” I tell you.


1. Quelles sont vos influences musicales et non musicales?

Elles sont bien sûr nombreuses. Pour ne pas citer trop de groupes, je préfère proposer une petite sélection que j'ai préparé spécialement pour SlowdiveMusic Blog - link. Il y a beaucoup de groupes anglais 80s et des groupes américains 70s. Je n'ai pas réussi à trouver Felt, mon groupe fétiche, dont les guitares de Maurice Deebank inspirent beaucoup les nôtres, notamment sur les titres So Vain et Générique. Écoutez "Silver Fountain of Paradise Square," cet instrumental merveilleux disponible sur YouTube. Un groupe que je n'ai pas trouvé non plus sur Deezer : ME et leur album Fecund Haunts, qui est un vrai bijou, est l'inspiration de départ d'un titre comme Générique pour les combinaisons d'accords et les harmonies. Je n'ai pas non plus réussi à mettre la main sur la version complète de Brown Eyes de Fleetwood Mac qui figure sur le magnifique Tusk et qui a inspiré de manière inconsciente l'évolution de Lalie's Game. J'aurai également voulu te proposer la musique psychiatrique de l'américain Van Dyke Parks sur Song Cycle. Petite précision concernant mon choix de groupes français, il s'est porté sur des groupes au chant "ligne claire".

Pour répondre de manière complète à ta question, je peux également évoquer la littérature étrangère contemporaine et plutôt anglo-saxonne, traduite (qui m'aide à la fabrication des paroles), le cinéaste Luc Moulet pour sa liberté et puis le dessinateur anglais Glen Baxter.

En ce qui me concerne, même si c'est moi qui écrit les paroles (sauf So Vain), je ne me suis jamais vraiment penché sur l'écriture de façon extrêmement réfléchie, mais j'essaie d'être le plus honnête possible, quitte à utiliser très peu de mots. Au départ, l'idée est de me confronter au Français. Je le fais uniquement quand un morceau le permet car l'anglais s'impose souvent.

Frederic Landini est le producteur de trois titres du disque et c'est lui qui m'a, lui aussi, aidé à définir le projet. La couleur musicale de notre disque était ici plus importante que le choix de la langue. Donc ce choix s'est fait en fonction de ce que l'on voulait apporter en terme de production et pour ce que l'ensemble devait dire à la fin.

En général, je n'écoute pas de pop chantée en français, je trouve qu'elle se regarde faire et qu'elle est très convenue. C'est très compliqué pour un chanteur français de s'approprier sa langue et de créer la magie. Par contre c'est vrai que lorsque la pop française ose le français et réussi à la marier aux exigences musicales des groupes anglais, on s'oriente vers des territoires qui n'ont finalement pas beaucoup été exploités. Importer le son anglo-saxon, c'est ce qui a fait le succès de quelques formations d'ici. Sur ce terrain, en 2010, il y a les très prometteurs Young Michelin. (Link to the band, and links to review and interview on SlowdiveMusic Blog.)

3. On sent beaucoup de références à la pop 80s, dans votre musique, mais on sent également que vous n'êtes pas dans la copie. Que penses-tu de ces groupes indépendants qui sont dans le repli sur et autour des groupes du passé?

Sylvain du blog On-A-Good-Day a écrit un très bel article sur le disque où il constate que Viking Dress fait partie d'un courant musical qui affiche de manière frontale ses influences. La pop musique, c'est économique : Les styles et figures sont usés jusqu'à la corde, jetés puis recyclés. À un moment, je voulais qu'il y ait "second hand" dans le nom de mon groupe. En ce qui me concerne, l'intention de départ est souvent parodique. Singer mes groupes préférés m'aide pour l'impulsion de départ et je pars ensuite à la recherche seul puis avec les musiciens pour ramener les choses à la surface et notamment donner de l'importance à des éléments qui semblaient accessoires au départ. Je ne me considère pas comme un véritable songwritter et suis plus intéressé par cette recherche.

4. Comme c'est ma chanson préférée et que je ne suis toujours pas lassé de l'écouter, pourrais-tu me raconter l'histoire du titre Lalie's Game?

Lalie's Game est la nouvelle version d'un titre qui existait déjà à l'époque de mon projet initial et ce projet s'appelait Lalie (tiens tiens). C'était plus amateur et home studio, les voix étaient trafiquées et je faisais les choeurs moi-même. Ce morceau est une boucle. J'aime ça, trouver la structure répétitive qui peut être développée dans le temps et passer par différentes périodes et déclinaisons. Les paroles de ce titre, très brèves et l'élément marin sont venus un peu naturellement. La voix de Pandora (la chanteuse de The Leeds (link), un de mes groupes préférés du Sud de la France (ils ont décidé de tout arrêter cette année) a été une surprise car elle a entraîné le disque et ce titre en particulier vers autre chose et il y a un vrai dialogue entre sa voix et les guitares. C'est elle qui te fait penser à la chanteuse du groupe 90's Lush (groupe que je connais à peine). Lorsque j'ai découvert The Leeds, en tout cas, j'ai beaucoup pensé aux groupes des 90's.

Le travail de mixage du gallois David Wrench (Caribou, Bath For Lashes, ..), particulièrement sur ce titre, a également son importance car on rentre vraiment dans les détails.

5. Les scènes américaines et britanniques sont tres insulaires et autoréférencées, contrairement à la scène française, il me semble. Quels distinctions et similitudes trouves-tu entre ces différentes scènes?

C'est vrai mais c'est intéressant quand les musiciens américains et anglais vont chercher ailleurs que chez eux. Il y a un peu de Jamaïque dans pas mal de groupes anglais punk, de koras africain dans le jeu de guitare de l'anglais Johnny Marr ou de chant Pygmée dans certains morceaux des américains d'Animal Collective. En France, c'est un peu particulier. Je ne serai pas très original en disant qu'on a toujours imité la pop des pays anglo-saxons et que je fais partie de cette génération qui a vu les groupes français sortir du complexe du chant en anglais. L'Indie française s'est engagée dans la voie internationale et depuis, elle s'autorise beaucoup de choses. Aujourd'hui, une scène indépendante est notamment en train d'émerger dans le Sud de la France, là ou j'habite en partie.

Frédéric, qui est le producteur de notre disque, est également le patron du Midi Festival, à Hyères, ma ville du Sud, un festival aujourd'hui très influant qui a, entre autre, révélé quelques uns des meilleurs groupes californiens du moment, notamment Girls. Notre côte répond en écho à l'autre côte. Ce sont des allers/retours, c'est économique, je vous dis.

Keep up with Viking Dress in MySpace and Facebook.

Here is the video for “Lalie’s Game” from the Busy Doin’ Nothin’ Vimeo Channel.

Viking Dress - Lalie's Game from Busy Doin' Nothin' on Vimeo.

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23 December 2010

Duran Duran: "All You Need Is Now"

My apologies for having been away, but I have a few more posts before the close of the year. This post here goes out to two of my friends: Dizzy (I miss you!) and TheCandyMan.

I may not have been writing lately, but I have been listening to tons music. Around my birthday I got the perfect gift, the new Duran Duran single, “All You Need Is Now.” An early Christmas gift came about this week, when the band released their thirteenth studio album, also titled “All You Need Is Now” (21 December 2010 as download, physical copies set for February 2011). With the lackluster reception of “Red Carpet Massacre” (13 November 2007), I think many people, like myself, were a bit weary about this release. In my second post on this blog (link), I made reference to “Red Carpet Massacre,” but also got into the idea of veterans in music: “When musicians become established and household names, the misconception that their name alone will carry them becomes prevalent. Musicians have no choice but to be whores if they want to sustain a career of descent record sales and relevance to the music scene. This includes playing festivals, doing appearances on talk shows, and radio interviews. This includes humility and remembering that the music scene is fickle (at best) and constantly changing. Last year's hot track is a fading memory, and depending on past monuments as a model for future albums is a mistake. Music needs to continue to be new and fresh…” And in that continuation, the two most important factors to keep in mind is the ability of musicians to be strong songwriters and amazing performers. And it is almost funny to say that one must keep “new and fresh” in the midst of an 80s revival, but what better time is there for Duran Duran to use something old to make something new and prove that they are not just sitting on their laurels?

Like all the other veterans that are like religion to me (The Cure, Depeche Mode, Annie Lennox, etc…), the other obstacle that veterans have to surmount is their history. Old time fans want “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” and “The Reflex” (Can anyone please explain what they meant by, “The reflex is an only child, he’s waiting in the park. The reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark and watching over lucky clover isn’t that bizarre”?). But unlike countless of late 70s and early 80s veterans that continue to make music, Duran Duran refuses to become complacent. Sure, past experimentations may have failed, but “All You Need Is Now” sways clear of frivolous experiments and obtuse musical references. Actually, they go back to the one reference that they know better than anyone else: themselves!

You cannot listen to this album not think of Duran Duran’s 80s catalogue. No, they are not rehashing the same melodies or hooks, sounds or arrangements, but they are obviously intent on showing everyone crazed in the 80s revival just how music in the 80s was put together, without sounding dated. Furthermore, the sense of urgency has returned to their music. “Girl Panic!” is the perfect example of this. With its near Caribbean-beats, big keyboard arrangement, and the perfect matter-of-fact posturing in Simon Le Bon’s voice, it is that archetypical Duran Duran song that has you on the edge of your seat. Though you may think “Ordinary World” when you listen to “Leave a Light On,” go listen to “Save a Prayer” again. Much more sophisticated than its mold, “Leave a Light On” has the same formula: ambient keyboards carrying the melody with a subtle acoustic guitar in the background. Of course, the lead single can throw anyone off. On the surface, it is close to “Red Carpet Massacre” than anything else, but scratch the surface. That savvy switch from verse to chorus is very “New Moon on Monday.” That odd rhythm / keyboard interplay is “Union of the Snake.” “Being Followed” has that great Duran Duran ostinato like “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” (no one does ostinato better than them!). And of course, any Duran Duran album must have the I’m-Nick-Rhodes-the-keyboard-king moment, and that comes in the final track, “Before the Rain.” Not as obviously steeped in the 80s mentality of Duran Duran, but it is time for some reflection. More so than their American contemporaries, the Brits of the post-punk, new wave, and New Romanticism(!) were continuously reminded of one thing: the Cold War. And perhaps this near Russian waltz, this chilling ending, is a subtle reminder of those days.

Add a few guest appearances (Kelis and Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters) and an amazing assortment of backing musicians (including Mancunian Dominic Brown) you get an album that proves that Duran Duran still has it in them. Urgent and relevant and stylish as they are, “All You Need Is Now” easily flutters through each track with ease, inspiring foot tapping and dancing. This is the archetypical Duran Duran album: fun, innovative, and memorable – and the first album in a while that I am looking forward to seeing the new music live, though they best play “New Moon on Monday”! Check this one out.

Track Listing:
1. All You Need Is Now
2. Blame the Machines
3. Being Followed
4. Leave A Light On
5. Safe (In the Heat of the Moment)
6. Girl Panic!
7. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
8. Runaway Runway
9. Before the Rain

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

Here is the video for “All You Need Is Now” from their YouTube Channel: 07DuranDuran.

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