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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pulling the Plug: Alamo Race Track

Show Plug: Alamo Race Track Wednesday night at La Maroquinerie. These guys are distributed by local indie label lovers Fargo Records. Fargo has chosen wisely. ART has been compared, in their different aspects, to Radiohead, early Sparklehorse, and Dakota Suite. Check them at myspace for a sample. The macabre vocals of "Black Cat John Brown," sound as if they were recorded in an empty cave and then layered with folky licks that build to ye-ye background music (a guitar whose effects sound like late 60s early 70s pop organ). It also reminds me of some sort of 45" that I would've heard in gradeschool music class (and that's meant to be a compliment). -Wavy pop to starkly foregrounded vocals, to 60s/70s jangly three-chord pop, and experimental sounds, these guys are worth checking out.

bars for listening to indie pop/rock?

I just noticed that Cityvox lists some bars it claims play indie pop rock. Parisnormaliens will soon investigate. I'm a bit skeptical given the arrondissements that correspond to the bar names and that some are curiously labelled "techno/house" (perhaps that means they're mainly so but also have indie moments? on verra). But if you care to chime in and let us know what you think of them (or anything else here), we lend you our collective indie ears.

La Loco

90, Boulevard de Clichy 75018 - Paris

16 Avis

Le Who's Bar
Pop Rock Indie

13, Rue du Petit Pont 75005 - Paris

12 Avis

Les Planches
Pop Rock Indie

40, Rue du Colisée 75008 - Paris

11 Avis

La Jonque Guinguette Pirate

11, Quai François Mauriac, au pied de la BNF 75013 - Paris

8 Avis

Le Gibus

18, Rue du Faubourg du Temple 75011 - Paris

7 Avis

Le Balajo

9, Rue de Lappe 75011 - Paris

5 Avis

Next One

15, Rue Bernard Palissy 75006 - Paris

2 Avis

Zed Club
Pop Rock Indie

2, Rue des Anglais 75005 - Paris

1 Avis

Le Capricorne club
Pop Rock Indie

5, Rue de Molière 75001 - Paris

0 Avis

Le Rétro République Dancing

23, Rue du faubourg du temple 75010 - Paris

0 Avis

Le Tania
Pop Rock Indie

43, Rue de Ponthieu 75008 - Paris

0 Avis

New Riverside
Pop Rock Indie

7, Rue Grégoire de Tours 75006 - Paris

0 Avis

Monday, January 22, 2007

News Flash: Arcade Fire Show

The first show, March 19, at the Olympia sold out. Luckily another has been added the next day March 20. You can get your ArcFi tickets here.

Peter, Bjorn, and John, Paris 2007

By Essie Lash
Who: Peter Bjorn and John
At: La Maroquinerie
When: Saturday, January 13, 2007

The opportunity to see a great indie band after they’ve started to generate some global buzz, but before they’ve grown too big for their britches, is always an exciting one. Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John’s energetic show at La Maroquinerie on January 13th provided an excellent mix of fan enthusiasm and the band’s own charm and talent, at their peak after their third album’s release (the first internationally) to wide acclaim last year. The basement venue was packed by the time Peter Bjorn and John took the stage after fellow Scandanavian openers Holiday for Strings started the evening off with an atmospheric, synth-y set. Decked out in collared shirts and jackets, the three-piece, comprised (appropriately) of Peter (Morén), Bjorn (Yttling, shown in medias rock, photo top left) and John (Eriksson), took to the stage.

“Let’s Call It Off” got the evening started on an energized note. Peter Bjorn and John is a fairly straightforward three-piece pop band, and “Let’s Call It Off” showcases some of their catchiest hooks and most successful rhythms. The song is an excellent example of the group’s ability to blend diverse influences, from Motown to a British Invasion sound, into catchy power pop. Attendees to the sold-out show were far from aloof, and right away took to dancing along with the exhaustive set, which was an excellent collection of the best songs off last year’s Writer’s Block as well as several tunes from the group’s older work.

Morén, responsible for vocals, guitar and banter with the crowd, introduced the set in French, reading earnestly from small cue cards. The crowd seemed to love this gesture, as well as Morén’s assertion that they were “better than Berlin!” during a singalong to the group’s older song “Big Black Coffin,” (off of Falling Out) and was (not surprisingly) pleased by the group’s performance of “Paris 2004” as well, an upbeat pop song about, appropriately, being young and in love and in Paris. Yttling took care of bass with excellent stage presence, but Eriksson, situated center stage at the drums, proved to be the band’s secret weapon. Much of PB&J’s signature sound, especially on Writer’s Block, comes from the layering of harmonies, whistles, beats and claps on many of their tracks. Eriksson, much more than a drummer (on the band’s site, the description of his musical duties ends with an “etc.”), was responsible for much of these fuller sounds. At any given moment, he could be found whistling or crooning into the mic with a faraway, eerie voice that makes the band’s songs as interesting as they are simple.

Peter Bjorn and John took some new liberties in their performance of their hits as well, however. A highlight was the group’s stripped-down performance of “Amsterdam”, whose album version features a distinctive, driving backbeat and John’s signature whistling. Tonight, Morén’s acoustic guitar strumming stood in for the beat, and Yttling gave a focused performance of the song’s lyrics. For five minutes, the very “up” crowd gave the stage their full attention, and dancing took a backseat to sheer appreciation. Peter Bjorn and John adapted their well-known hit “Young Folks” for the Maroquinerie as well. The catchy pop song usually features a duet between frontman Morén and vocalist Victoria Bergsman (formerly of the Concretes), but in Bergsman’s absence on Saturday, Morén gave the song his all, losing none of the sweetness of the original and actually adding to its danceable appeal. Near the end of Peter Bjorn & John’s satisfying set came “Up Against the Wall,” a highlight on Writer’s Block and at the Maroquinerie show as well, which the band extended well beyond its album length of seven minutes, complete with shakers and frantically energized electric guitar solos.

Since so much of Peter Bjorn and John’s album content speaks to the appeal of travel and the allure of foreign cities (Amsterdam, Paris 2004), their current world tour is doubtless exciting for the three members themselves. But riding on such perfect pop mixed with such infecting live energy, this world introduction to Peter Bjorn and John on tour is a treat for audiences as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Paris Venues, plus Sing-Sing and Eloise update

...Studio de l'Ermitage and OPA

by Jayson
Okay, so they're new to us. But maybe they're new to you too. If not, you still need their information included in our schedule.

I recently had the pleasure of attending an Arlt show at the charming Studio de l'Ermitage, which is nooked away on the equally charming street by the same name just a pebble's roll down the hill from Rue des Pyrenees. (Metro Pyrenees or Menilmontant; I choose the former when I'm tired, the latter is uphill).

The Studio is really a fairly large space for a venue that does not offer the brand names but the independent. I won't reveal my pathetic ineptitude with the metric system (Thank you, Ronald Reagan!) by hazarding a guess of its dimensions. But I'll say that it has a fairly long "classique" wooden bar with a huge mirror behind it (Stella and Guinness on tap, 3euro demis), and a kind of opera-ish upstairs with a few tables just around the square parameter for those who have a penchant for looking down their noses at others....

Arlt, by the way, is formerly Sing-Sing and Eloise (remember? "Voice like a theramin?"). Trivia: do you know who or what Arlt is? What is the origin of this curious moniker? Whether or not you indulge me in quiz show here, we wish them well as their career advances. Check them when you can. You can listen to them, etc. on their myspace page--mais bien sur!

Another recent discovery is the OPA, 9 rue Biscornet, in the 12th (Metro Bastille). This joint appears to be an important opportunity for burgeoning indie rock, electro, and dj acts. It has not been evaluated by Parisnormaliens yet. We'll keep you posted.
That's the update for today, PN's. Be well. Now who or what is Arlt?

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Friday, January 12, 2007

(Revised:Stronger, Meaner, Sexier)MP3 Peep Show: What we're listening to...REVISED...slightly

Or...Riding the Metro with Jayson

by Jayson
This is a new column/series on Parisnormale, which will feature rotating contributors. We will also allow some of you to post from time to time. Just email me (

What is it?
It's an MP3 peep show (curtsies and bows to Siouxsie Sioux): I give you the voyeuristic pleasure of peeping into my MP3 player or old school cassette-walkman and -woman, and also hearing why I find the lineup worthy of a short-lived rotation--all in the context of my morning metro ride to work (in Paris).
Here's what I'm currently listening to, some new, some old school (sorry, I'm too lazy to provide the links to myspace or allmusic, so you'll just have to eat your Cheerios and find the getupandgo to do your own search if need be):

  • Joy Division--Failures. Punky, garagey, influencing, like the VU, a legion of followers, and it still holds up. It's a good way to get started in the morning, running to the metro. Who's on time in Paris (that's right--I conveniently use it to conceal yet another of my flaws)? Missed it again: failure. But man, am I charged now to sprint up the escalator five minutes later at the Gare du Nord correspondence. I think I'll have to repeat that one for an extra burst of energy.
  • Sufjan Stevens--Chicago (acoustic version from Blizzard). My adoration of this song has taken voice elsewhere...It's going to stay in the rotation until I just can't take it any longer. Let's see, shall we, how long that will be. I'm betting a month--you? Now I've lost all that momentum I was reserving for my correspondence.
  • Buffalo Tom--Torch Singer. As I've also said elsewhere, this guy wrote great pop songs with heady lyrics, especially about relationships. Perfect for certain moods. Those of you who know it understand; those who don't will soon understand after you listen. Uh, is it possible to bop your head and weep profusely, simultaneously?
  • Peter Bjorn and John--Let's Call It Off. Calypso meets mod and new wave; also spaghetti Western guitars, with echoing vocals. Very 80s and yet experimental and fresh--which is to say, it's postmodernism at its best. These guys are fun, smart, creative--in a word, Swedish. The lead singer (Peter) has a voice that recalls GBV's Robert Pollard, but with a healthy dose of estrogen. In that sense this group moves interestingly beyond a hybrid of influences that surely conjure the Kinks, GBV, Belle and Sebastian and Sonic Youth. It's sweet, it rocks, it's weird. It's not "a sound"; it's musical creativity at it's best. (And yes, their honey-drippin' "Old Folks" smash is on there too).
  • Kim Wilde--Kids in America (1981). A major underground classic for a generation of post-punk, new wave American 80s rebels, which I've returned to with immense pleasure. It goes down like caffeine and sugar. But it also makes the passengers on the metro laugh at you--no there's no booger on your cheek; your fly is safely zipped; your body is just taking orders from Kim Wilde.
  • Dwight Yoakam-- It only hurts when I cry (acoustic version from the Acousticnet album). Nice playful ironic lyrics to treat heartache and rejection: "The only time I feel the pain/is in the sunshine and the rain/I don't feel no hurt at all unless you count when teardrops fall/I tell the truth 'cept when I lie/And it only hurts me when I cry." A great alt-country songwriter with a distinctive voice. True to the genre, D's songs are beautiful explorations in heartache, in cowboy boots and bolo ties, definitely free of Nashville's right-wing corporate yokes. So now I'm cryin, and the septuagenarian across the way is looking confused, worried, scared. What is 911 in French?
  • Ramones--I don't want to grow up. I dig this rockin' cover of Tom Waits' excellent commentary on modern hardly-advanced everyday life. When I hear my parents fighting, when I look in the medicine cabinet, when I turn on the TV set...I don't want to grow up. It makes the singer long for a dog's life. Indeed, the adults of several generations continue the errors of the past. Even we romantics/idealists need a dose of escapism and cynicism. Old blue hair is soothed by drying tears.
  • Mojave 3--Breaking the Ice. Such sweet indie pop, a la Posies, with well-wrought lyrics. I find my head swaying from lateral side to side on the metro...until I notice the septuagenarian seated across from me cracking up (only 8 minutes after she was busting a gut at me during the Kim Wilde selection and very afraid at the abrupt turn I took at Yoakam).
  • Wolf Parade--Modern World. Methinks me likes this syncopated acoustic-guitar and keyboard-driven angsty condemnation of the ant-hill everyday life of most "modern" cities. Go to Gare du Nord, the busiest subway stop in the world, between 5 and 8pm, stand in the segue between line 5, line 4, and RER B, watch and listen (and see how many times your shoulder gets slammed--just like high school football practice all over again). Can you tell I have a nasty tragi-comic streak? Standing there, taking the hits in the station: it's my form of non-violent protest. Thank you, Wolf Parade.
  • Wreckless Eric--Whole Wide World. This little ditty does a nice job quoting the Cars in an ode to true love (out there like the truth: call Mulder and Scully). Or so it seems. Actually the Cars "Just What I Needed" new wave hit came out in '78 and WE's "Whole Wide" came out in '77. But no matter. The Cars' is better known. I'm sure a lot of other bands begin that way, too. But you're talking to a guy raised on late 70's and 80's radio, then punk. It's all relative, or cultural. But customarily, I digress. In the first few bars, I'm ready for Ric O'Casek to belt out "I don't mind you coming here...." Instead, you get: "I'd go the whole wide world just to find find out where they hide her...Is she lying on a tropical beach somewhere...I should be lying on that sun-soaked beach with her..." and so on. Maybe he married her and lost her? But yes, you're right: I just saw the heartwarming Stranger than Fiction featuring this song performed by the lovable Will Ferrell. Enough already: of course I'm a sentimental sucker. I'm finished taking the hits, I'm descending back into the bowels of the metro, steeled to absorb its unforgiving flourescent lights and wreaking rat dung. Gotta chill a second and nurse that Charlie Horse I picked up on the way up the escalator a few minutes ago.
  • Uncle Tupelo--No Depression. Both senses of the word. This punky bluegrass is to me what Metallica is for some others. It appeals to my inner Bojangles. And I like its politics. I'm going where they're going. Now what stop was "No Depression?" Must've missed it...again.
  • Tapes'nTapes--Cowbell. Violent Femmes but better, revved up and ready to go. A couple of bridges that remind me of the B52's classic Rock Lobster. I'd add to this TnT's Insistor, also in the peepshow and I dare you to try resisting the notorious accelerated "rock head nod" (or indie head bang) with that one. I'm abetted by a bad coffee I picked up on the RER track in wait, while the Dilbert ants scurry about me. I'm worried they'll whisk me away to their data entry desk jobs and make me turn off my MP3 player: "my preeecccccious, my precious."
  • I'm also listening to a slew of Sunset Rubdown and Wolf Parade songs. One of my friends says he dislikes Connor Oberst because the dude constantly sounds on the verge of tears. But actually that's why I like him. Ditto for Spencer Krug of SR and WP. Very heady lyrics and unique vocals within expressionistic musical arrangements. Highly recommended. Also getting my Art Brut on, more about which next time. Now, I'm being belched out of the bowels of the metro beast. No more in the belly of the whale. I'm re-charged to spread the good word: is "peep show" one word or two? Doesn't matter: the French don't listen to anyone to whom they're not introduced anyhow.
I shall end there for today, mes peeps. That's your peep show, or "Riding the Metro with Jayson, boppin' and cryin'" (that septuagenarian is really confused at my emotional swings, but then again, she ain't gettin' the peep show)
Ciao Ciao for now.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

January Calendar


Alt.lang Syne...


Peter Bjorn and John, La Maroquinerie Jan. 13

Les Inrocks, La Maroquinerie Jan. 19, see below; excellent lineup

Pet with Metro Riots, La Fleche D'Or, Jan. 18

Guns of Brixton, Noveau Casino, Jan. 18



Jan. 9

La Fleche D'Or (20me) (No Cover!) Equally exciting offerings. (by BILL)

Jan. 15 Romain Düdek (Fr); rock, experimental.// Benjamin Sportès (Fr); pop sentimental rock.// MIRO (FR); reminds me of a French version of the Greatful Dead.// Travis Bürki (Fr); pop/folk.// Santamaria (Fr); rock.

Jan. 17 Syd Matters (Fr); anglophone Frenchmen. With a folky electronic sound that has potential, their lyrics holds its own among the great indie poets. A must to check out.// H-Burns (Fr); If you like Woodie Gutherie or M. Ward, classic, dust-ballad, style of American folk, this is definitely your man.// Fugu (Fr); total 70s rock kickback: Steely Dan, Paul McCartney etc. Cocosuma (Fr); psychedelic rock. Very interesting cover of Nirvana’s “The Man who sold the World.”

Jan. 18 Pet (All); pop rock.// The Earlies (Uk); psychedelic/ experimental.// Metro Riots (Uk); rock, blues.// Vertigo Quartet (Fr); pop rock.

Jan. 20 Tanger (Fr); rock.// Näd Mika (Ger); new wave, electro-pop. Mostly an electro night.

Jan. 22 Yann Perreau (Fr); pop.// Clement Metapop (Fr); sounds like “M”.// MIRO (Fr)// Paco Volume (Fr); if you just never got what pop French rock was all about, this band does it in English. Fun music.

Jan. 24 Syd Matters (Fr)// Tahiti Boy & the Palmtree Family (Fr); weepy folk tunes. Very Wes Anderson style.// New Pretoria (Fr); Folk rock, country.// Fruitkey (Fr); late 60s sound, bluesy/rockabilly.

Jan. 25 Rien (Fr); post-rock, symphonic sound possibly to excess.// Chateau Marmont (Fr); pop rock with a hint of country.

Jan. 26 The Sokos (Fr); old-fashioned country rock sung with a French accent.// Absynthe Minded (Bel); rock.// Early Day Miners (USA); slightly melancholic but unusually rich in sound. The songs attempt to capture the vast, emptiness of America’s heartland and the road less traveled. Recommended. Udi Kagan (Fr/Is)//

Jan. 27 Yakusa (Fr); rock.// The Holloways (Uk); punk, rock // Cheenah (Uk); slightly lighter version of Talk Taxis// Fatels (Uk); punk.

Jan. 29 Fred Jimenez (Fr); late 70s light rock.// Benjamin Sportès (Fr); sentimental rock.// Hey Hey My My (Fr); similar to Nick Drake or Frank Black.// Paco Volume.

Jan. 31 Syd Matters (Fr)// Hopper (Fr); rock //Mansfield.TYA (Fr); electro/experimental heavily influenced by classical music.// Rhesus (Fr); pop.

Maroquinerie(By Jayson)

Jan. 10 Gomm (FR);Doppler(FR);Boogers (FR)--What's in a name?

Jan. 11 Generic; Mondragon;Warum Joe; Justine.

Jan. 12 Le Nombre; The Vegas (FR) Stooges and Surf;Green Lizard (UK) says they're hardcore but check their site.

Jan. 13*Peter Bjorn and John (Sweden) Hot pick, They say they "combine 1980s synth pop, Motown and noisy guitar rock to tasteful effect." Indeed I hear bizarre 80s hybrids, something like Aztec Camera meets the Knack, Echo and the Bunnymen, and some surfy guitar licks. Highly recommended.

Jan. 15 Eiffel (sold out) Whatever...

Jan. 16 Dum Dum, not sure what this one really is. The Maroq. site says "Slam, jazz urbain & polar." Your guess is as good as mine.

Jan. 17 Lo Cor de la Plana (FR): a choir of men, but more innovative than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Jan. 18 Hot, Hot, Hot picks! Ouch! Les Inrocks Indie Rock Soiree. The Automatic (UK), Myspace site says Blur, Queen, Radiohead, but to me they seem to be yet another contemporary Brit band that's discovered Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, and the Undertones, as well as Blur--catchy; THE SUNSHINE UNDERGROUND, (Leeds, UK) recognizable limey pop vocals meet grungy guitars--also catchy ; + The Clerks (Manchester), Joy Division, Sonic Youth, the Cure haunt their nevertheless musically upbeat tempos. A very good lineup. See you there!

Jan. 19 Duke Special ( Belfast). This guy is touted for a distinctive sound, an artiste, if you will. Influences are Elliot Smith, Tom Waits, and Magnetic Fields, he says. But I hear Ryan Adams a bit in there. The trumpets and piano (almost a la George Winston) do indeed give it a distinctive sound. Give it a listen on Myspace, and check out the photographic resemblance to Robert Smith, sans makeup--very cure-ious.

Jan. 22 Sandi Thom (full); too bad, this indie folk is pretty cool.

Jan. 23 I'm from Barcelona; Nice to meet you, and I'm from Topeka.

Jan. 24 Alamo Race Track (Amsterdam); This Fargo Records act mixes it up a bit, but there's something interestingly "oldies station" meets a lighter Sleater Kinney; the vocals are sweet and echoing; the spritely guitars sometimes sound as though you're watching an episode of "Josey and the Pussycats" in the 70s on Saturday morning cartoons. But then there's something just slightly dissonant about them, like an injection of Forward Russia! If you like hybridity, especially coming from late 60s airy pop, check it out.

Nouveau Casino

Jan. 13: DEICIDE, VISCERAL BLEEDING / PSYCROPTIC (pop rock, they say)


Jan. 24: Brand New (NYC)19h30

Jan. 25: Le Mur, ZEA / BLACK SIFICHI / MUTE. Pop/punk meets electronica experimentation.

Feb. 5: OK GO: These Chicago pop stars rose to prominence first doing soundtracks to NPR shows out of Chicago. Then they produced some of the cleverest videos known to humankind. Should be a fun night.

Point Ephemere (19me)

Sadly, no indie rock scheduled for January thus far.

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Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"