Archive for June, 2012

Don’t you just love it when you rediscover a band?

Perhaps it is a song lyric dropped into general chit chat that sparks a memory. Perhaps a trivial everyday sound or tone makes the association. More often, and conventionally, a rustle through the old record collection helps revive the hidden gems.

One, I’m not sure which, of the above instances facilitated my recent unearthing of Editors‘ albums. Signed to Kitchenware Records, a truly independent Tyneside label, the Birmingham-based band have achieved platinum status. A true success! 

Their debut The Back Room (2005) signalled their Lights, Camera, Munich arrival on the music scene, earning them a Mercury nomination. 2007’s follow-up An End Has A Start furthered their chart success, rocking in as a #1 album. Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors [below] reached #7 in the singles chart.

 

Third album In This Light and On This Evening consolidated their commercial glory, again entering [and briefly residing] as a #1 album. Spawned from this sleeve was the excellent synth powerhouse Papillon.

Though Tom Smith‘s vocals do echo a la Ian Curtis, there is in my opinion little substance in comparisons with Joy Division. Nor for that matter do Editors even faintly remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen, one of their supposed influences. Moreover, only Interpol, a contemporary outfit, sound at all similar.

Anyroad, it’s knocking on three years since Editors’ last release and they have slowly slipped out of the public consciousness. Earlier this year the news broke that Editors and lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz had parted musical paths. Editors will continue, we are assured, as a three-piece, their 4th record is hotly-awaited later this year.

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I have Arcade Fire to thank eternally.

As an agency worker (currently) the assignments I am given are varied: both in their nature and entertainment value. Alas, for four days last week I was lumped into the nauseous, madness-inducing environment of a reprographics dungeon. The only solace of the job was that one of the scanning machines, when operated, sounded reminiscent of this particular song intro. Thus, Half Light II (No Celebration) was my light at the end of a very bleak tunnel lined with guillotines, hole-punchers and stapling machines! Funny what music can do for you.

 

Toy are a band causing a stir. How many time have we heard that before?

Visually they resemble (to me at least) a reshuffled, slightly unkempt Slade-looking outfit, plus señorita Alejandra Diez on keyboard. They are also three parts Jing Jang Jong: singer Tom Dougall, guitarist Dom O’Dair and bassist Maxim Barron having since separated from Joe Lean.

Motoring,  below, is a blur – and I’m not just talking about the video’s psychedelic effects. No acute guitars, Toy’s second single is fuzzier than a heavy night on the juice. To use a cliché, Motoring is a “wall of sound” with the drive of an Ash song.

Released on Heavenly Records, a London-based label under the mighty umbrella of EMI – can Toy be truly classified as indie? Probably not.

 

Under their YouTube clips, Toy are described damningly as “the best Horrors tribute band out there” – a statement backed by the act’s close association, support slots and public receipt of praise from Faris Badwan’s troupe. However for me Toy’s sound is a lot less dark and dismal.

Listen to Toy’s first single Left Myself Behind here.

Dionysos are a six-piece, six-album rock band hailing from the Rhône-Alpes région in south-west France, one of the country’s 27 regional jigsaw pieces. The band hit homeland fame with their first major label record release entitled Haiku (Coccinelle video here). It is for two reasons that Dionysos are special: their eccentricity and their linguistic abilities.

To illustrate the first point, Dionysos have songs in their locker called bizarre things like Le Roi en pyjama [The King in pyjamas] … L’homme qui pondait des œufs [the man who lays eggs] and Le retour de Bloody Betty [the return of Bloody Betty]. Secondly, the act fronted by Mathias Malzieu write and sing in both French and English. How many English bands can reciprocate?

A particular song I have chosen to extract from the Dionysos catalogue is called Thank you Satan. Taken from the group’s Whatever the Weather: Electrique album (2003), Thank you Satan is a romp of a tune that grows in force towards an eventual blunderbuss impact. A ukulele – overlaid with Élisabeth Maistre‘s soothing voice – provides an alluring yet harmless opening, only to be replaced by feathery violin strings and Malzieu’s pitch-perfect vocals. Later a baritone guitar begins the devastating march towards the end.

 

Dionysos (named after the Greek god of wine, theatre & ecstasy) certainly instill ritual madness in the listener with this frenzy of strings and percussions. More infectious than a supervirus…

Another reason I like this song is because of the Leo Ferre album hommage on the YouTube video which recalls the album art of The Futureheads – News & Tributes. Oh and the lyrics, which can be viewed here underneath the clip, are fantastic. References to the Bastille, Mr Mozart, Chateau Margaux and mon préféré – “the laughter of skulls”.

Ever wondered why French music persistently fails to cross the “English” Channel, swamp our shores and pervade our playlists? Strange, non? Especially given that the Irish Sea continually fails to drown the wails of Jedward, Westlife, B*Witched & co. Neither did the North Sea successfully submerge the Barbie Girl antics of Aqua. The mighty Atlantic Ocean rarely proves an insurmountable obstacle for the hordes of American acts. Mysteriously though, the 21 mile stretch from Dover to Calais is some kind of Bermuda Triangle for the tricolor-waving troops of French bands…

This next post aims to change that fact, beginning with an introduction to a most eccentric act called Dionysos that I shall label the French Bellowhead.

Hopefully this post will help the English & others unearth French bands from across the Channel, or what the French call la manche [the sleeve]!

Merci et aurevoir.