Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"New" Venues

Recently added to our sidebar list of venues and bars:

1. Le Tryptique: FUJIYA & MIYAGI (Tirk Records / UK), whose album last year was on many critics best of 2006, are playing March 28, for example. Better get hoppin' on those tickets. And watch for shows here, which will be announced on Parisnormale if we can keep up with all this--which is great, surprising, and even a tad bit overwhelming.

2. La Générale, a squat whose life, I'm told, is rapidly expiring. Punk bands, electro and contemporary art expos. This is said to be Paris' answer to a contemporary art scene that has been nearly moribund for quite awhile, thanks to gentrification and other factors.
10-14 rue du Général Lasalle 75019
M° Belleville ou Pyrénées (ligne 11)

3. La Feline: Menilmontant bar with regular mainly rockabilly djs and live music. See my last post for more info.
4. OPA-Bastille: cutting edge mainly French indie rock and electro. See sidebar for more info.
5. Le Java: quite varying offerings, from indie rock to country, hip hop, electro and techno. Sidebar.
6. Le Klub: some harder rock here and a lot of djing. Sidebar.
Have a good week.

Classified Parisnormalien Info: Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Between Parisnormaliens, okay? I have discovered through the indie grapevine a fairly new bar that specializes in vintage garage, rockabilly, and some punk in the ever-interesting Menilmontant-Jourdain-Belleville area. It's called la Feline, and they have live music some nights (such as this Friday). The owner apparently loves the Gun Club and one of its members flew over here to play a show at La Feline a few months ago. Check them out on Myspace. Nice ye-ye rendition of the Sex Pistol's "Anarchy in the U.K." en francais there. If you miss bars with guys and gals in pompadours, tattoos, and mod dress too, this not to be missed. It goes without saying that you can expect to be glared at if you look too mainstream there. Oh, those superficial rockers...
6, rue Victor Letalle 75020

News Flash: Maroquinerie Shows Cancelled

For mysterious reasons the next three shows have been cancelled at the Maroquinerie: the 26, 27 and 28 FÉVRIER: MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND, EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, FATAL PICARDS. They have been moved to Point Ephemere.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This Month in INdie Paris: Spring Break!

Calendar part I.
by Jayson

It's the last week of wintry February. But the trees are blooming, and the flowers sprouting--insanely!--up on the lush green pelouse at parc Buttes Chaumont (those little yellow and lavender dots in the photo at left are flowers, though I forget their botanically exact title). Spring is here???!!!!My indie dog, Mirth, certainly does like it (well, more precisely, she likes to sniff and pee on it). It's a nice week for an Indie Spring Break in Paris. Perhaps not enough body and jello shots for some of your wild tastes, but I'm sure you can improvise.

Basically, Monday, February 26 really pisses me off. There are at least three great shows running simultaneously, and I'm in such a dither over it, as mom would say. I'll be hitting Tobias Froberg reluctantly, though I'm excited to hear him.
**=ouch! Hot pick! As Robert Smith would wail, "Hot, Hot, Hot!"

Addresses and other info about each club can be found in our right-hand side bar.
Questions? Want to buy us drinks, give us guitar, accordion, or voice lessons, or give us gifts? email us:

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

Mon., Feb. 26: Tahiti Boy's February residency continues.

Wed., Feb. 28: An impressive little lineup for Icelandic Air night at the Fleche.
Holmes, from Vänersborg/Göteborg, Sweden, play indie twang-pop reminiscent of early Tim Carroll, some Whiskeytown (Ryan Adams’ band before going solo) and the Old 97’s—but with Damien Jurado on vocals.

THE JAI-ALAI SAVANT (pronounced hi-a-lie- sa-vant). This Chicago outfit on the Gold Standard Labs label plays an energetically fresh fusion of punk-indie dub, revealing influences, conscious or not, that range from the Clash to the Police and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Loney Dear (Subpop/Dear John), from Jönköping , Sweden , plays bouncy electro and guitar pop with vocals that recall Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle.

These three are joined by VOXTROT (Us) (indie pop), and THEORETICAL GIRL (Uk)

Thur., March 1: Black Daniel ( UK ) melds 70s organ pop with electro and psychedelic influences. Catchy. and Benni Hemm Hemm, from Iceland , play very patiently textured indie compositions that include horn sections, twang (such as pedal steel guitar), and choral vocals in Icelandic. They recall Lampchop and Sigur Ros for some.

Fri. and Sat. March 2 and 3: The Monroes (NL) are a Dutch group that serves up solid, soulful garage rock laced with female vocals sometimes too lovely for the wailing and screeching guitar chords that only reluctantly take their background role in the mix.

Mon., March 5: Li-lund. Lo-fi electro, with influences ranging from Blonde Redhead and Shannon Wright, withsparklingly clear female vocals one finds in twee such as Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap). Newman (Herman Dune) lends his speak-sing to the mix.

Tues., March 6: Minitel (Fr) dub rock; Tinseltown, female vocals sound like a Frankensteinian plot to transplant the voice of Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O into Tori Amos, with some nice light pop accompaniment--inoffensive.

Wed., March 7: Cornflakeheroes (FR)--Compared to Shins and Pavement, supposedly for their irony and sarcasm. Go here for links to the other French bands for the night.

**Thur., March 8: Jamie T (UK) the new AngloSaxon hiphop, somewhere between a cockneyed Beastie Boys, The Streets, and various and sundry dub-punk-disco-hiphop experiments of our day; Stevens (Swiss), Swiss hiphop on Condor Records. (??)

**Fri., March 9: The Debretts (UK): Artrocker mag blessed them with a "ones to watch" tag. Infectious-as-the-plague punk a la Sex Pistols and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It's a virus that just will not die. So why not enjoy it and realize that all those musical anti-biotics are just creating stronger and stronger strands.

Sat., March 10: "Rare Groove Day" music sale and then djs at night : Entrée 1euro de 12h >> 19h according to available space inside.

Mon., March 12: Indie French night. Go here to see links to the French indies.

Tues., March 13: Techno: Bleccccch!

Wed., March 14: Bikini Machine (FR)--"soul rock." Plus other French indies.

Nouveau Casino

**Mon., Feb 26: Bromheads Jacket: Indie Brit punk-pop that has been said to be notoriously devoted to the 70s British punk eruption. However, some of their slower stripped down songs recall mid-career Billy Bragg.

**Wed., Feb 28 The Junior Boys: Here's how Pitchfork described their 2006 EP "So this is Goodbye": "its brittle rhythms and gleaming synths coalescing with the dark shapes and city lights in constant renewal on the other side of my window, the unfamiliarity of my surroundings giving it all a further resonance..." and "glowing synth lines and frigid percussions."

**March 13 : The Supersuckers
If you like to rock and you miss this, well then you super-suck!

**March 16: Kristen Hersh. The former Throwing Muses bassist has amused us with a string of beautifully crafted and critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums. Somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Will Oldham's long lost female twin separated at birth.

Le Divan du Monde (18me)

**Mon., Feb. 26: Tobias Froeberg: Another Nordic indie singer-songwriter in the elastic mold of Nick Drake, Jose Gonzales, and I’m hearin’ pas mal de Simon and Garfunkle and Cat Stevens in it too. And after all, Froeberg's delicate and searching For Elisabeth Wherever She Is (2004) seems a clear hearkening back to S&G's song "For Emily, wherever I may find her."

La Maroquinerie

**Mon., Feb. 26: My Brightest Diamond

Tues., Feb. 27: Explosions in the Sky (honorable mention; check them at myspace—I think it’s sold out. But when there’s a will to stand outside the Maroquinerie repeating “billet, billet?” on a seemingly endless loop, there’s a billet.)

Fri., March 2: Congopunq: Pop Punk / Regional Mexican / Tropical. Though they’re French J, they seem pretty interesting. Check them on myspace. Hell, I'll go if you buy my ticket.

Sat., March 3: No Water Please

**Sun., March 4: Young Blood Brass Band

Mon., March 5:Babet: Uh, I don't know about this. Punchy French female vocals that, for me, seem to conjure up a French singer on a Vegas stage opening for the Rat Pack--to a folky perky background accompaniment.

**Wed., March 7:Brakes: Strange hybrid, but I like it. We're talking a meaner version of Franz Ferdinand but then the next song (such as "On Your Side") might be closer to indie/alt country. Hard to pin down and it demonstrates the kind of campy humor of their compatriots Art Brut. Cursive (Omaha, US) opens for Brakes. Here's what critics have been saying about them: “Kasher has traded such woe-is-me sentiment for a set of more engaging musical arrangements, applying booming gospel voices and Dixieland horns to his band’s spastic art-rock posturing” - Spin

Thur., March 8: Leave: ?

**Fri., March 9:Jamika: Hip Hop, electro, dub, spoken word. Highly acclaimed African-American poetess transplanted in London--eclectic.

**March 14: High Llamas: I thought this was Belle and Sebastian when I first heard it. Light and creative, the latest album (Can Cladders, on Drag City) is woven with strings, tambourines and banjos. Skip the Prozac today and try this instead.

Point Ephemere
March 26: Trans Am, Electro-Indie Rock.

Also watch for weekly announcements about Le Tryptique, OBA-Bastille, Le Java, and La Generale. See the sidebar for more info about these venues.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Girls Vs. Boys, La Maroquinerie, 2/21/2007

I had a foggy recollection of this band live, since I had last seen them around 1997 (yeah, I know, dinosaurus, but so are they). They were vying for the coveted post of godfather of indie rock's hard side of the family, after Fugazi, the grunge bands, and perhaps Sonic Youth, had stepped down or, in the case of SY, to the side a bit.
I wondered how we had aged apart. How would we, once such close friends, receive each other at this reunion? Would we quickly fall back into our mutual understandings as if we had only parted yesterday? Would we be standoffish? Would we even recognize one another? Once I had loved them; they had definitively won my heart with a cover of Joy Division's classic "She's Lost Control" (see video of that cover at end of this review). But long-distance relationships are notoriously hard to maintain.

Ten years later I don't think they've changed so much. I ended up liking them, though, it's true, somewhat less than I did before.

This D.C. post-hardcore band has been known for for its double bass attack, sonic walls of reverbating guitar that appear like cliffs in a musical score and then violently drop off into pianissimo background ravines for the distinctive vocals of frontman Scott McCloud, his nasal almost drawling style uncannily recalling The Fall's Mark E. Smith (though the likeness is sometimes easily overlooked because of the very different background accompaniment to each of these singers). McCloud did the talking with the audience, and didn't come off arrogantly,sometimes expected of a lead singer, even practicing his French with the audience in a gesture of goodwill. And his accent is pas mal du tout.

All of that style re-emerged as if perfectly pickled and re-opened ten years later. The post-hardcore burst of loud guitars, the Fugazi-like relentlessness of some songs or choruses, the soft-loud-soft cycles, the transcendence of three chord, loud, driving punk--all of this made for an experience that can border on the hypnotic. I found myself nodding my entire body at mid-speed, which if you were to transplant me onto a city sidewalk would surely make me a dead giveaway for an escaped mental patient.

I realized there is something sinisterly expressionist about the sound GVSB produces in the end. It seems pent up, potentially dangerous. It's a person with grievances, issues. It is somewhat monotonous in the vocal style and the accompaniment and seems to build in aggression to the point of release, again and again, to the point of exhaustion--a bit like the exhausting hardcore that preceded it. In that sense it's cathartic. Perhaps Freud would've approved of its re-directing these darker impulses into sound and speak-sing.

Nor are the lyrics particularly cheery, despite their openness to poetic interpretation. "As out there as anyone
In the black hole dream," McCloud screeches in "Park Avenue. "I know you can still feel me/In the black hole scene/Do ya still dream/Check ya pulse/Read my mind/You got the access/Treat me like I don't exist. Does the speaker of this poem feel dead, a shell in a scene that has sucked his soul away as if he had gotten to close to a black hole? The sound and lyrics work together in a dark expressionism.

While I, too, approve of this highly expressionistic sound, in the end I realized this is mood music. That is not necessarily a criticism, but if you're looking for levitation try Belle and Sebastian, whose sound, it should be noted, is often much airier than their lyrics. It's good to know that old friends can still have an important place in your life. But I'm still not planning on going to that high school reunion.

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , ,

Newsflash: Air and PHoenix Tickets on sale

Air and Phoenx show June 29 just announced. Tickets will go fast. Check here.
here's the fnac ticket link:

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ever more new joints

We're discovering new venues faster than we can add them to our list on the sidebar. That's great for you/us though. This indicates that Paris is an extremely lively indie city. Much more than people (myself included) have given it credit for. Perhaps some of you on this list, those in Paris would be interested in us starting some meetups at bars?

Triptyque (Le)

Nouveau club dans le quartier Rex, Pulp, Palace ...
Ce lieu ce veut eclectique, jazz, poprock, hiphop et electro ...

142, rue montmartre
75002 Paris
Grands Boulevards

La Java
105, Rue du Faubourg-du-Temple

Le Trabendo
Par de la Villette
211, av Jean Jaurès, 75019 Paris, France - 01 42 01 12 12

Called a discotheque by some reviewers, this place does have indie concerts and djs:
Pont Alexandre III
article about it in French from Libe'

Have Fun, Parisnormaliens!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

February: them bones, them bones, them bare bones

by Jayson
Due to a computer data snafu (it was deleted--note the lack of responsibility conveniently provided by the passive voice), the calendar isn't going to appear except in bits and pieces this month. So here's a shot at the next couple of weeks.

If January got off to a slow start, wow: February is hot and it looks like March just keeps getting hotter. Go global warming in indie Paris! (Kidding, of course: Go green, Parisnormaleans, go green!)

La Fleche D'Or

Feb 17: FOALS (UK), plus Shit Disco (word has it they're The ShXX--yes, the bad pun is my favorite genre of humor). Punk-funk and math rock, Foals are another example of how indie music scenes have rediscovered dance. Gang of Four revved up and wildly complicated. Early electro-techno German influences, but that doesn't quite capture it either. Better give it a listen. Popular in the UK, SD is one of many in the new generation influenced by the Gang of Four and The Jam.

Feb 19: EF (Sweden) Plus

TAHITI BOY AND THE PALMTREE FAMILY Feat. TUNDE Adebimpe (TV on the Radio) : "ef was formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in may 2003. We met under quite human circumstances in may 2003, and soon we stood in a small basement and created quite heavy music. It didn't take long for us to find that melodies, emotions and explosions was more interesting. ef use three guitars, bass, drums, organs, glockenspiel, accordion and a lot of effects to create the soundscapes." Plus from Myspace: "People often say we have the melodies of Explosions in the sky, the heaviness from Cult of Luna and the energy of Drive Like Jehu. A perfect blend! Other bands often mentioned: Godspeed you black emperor, Mogwai and Sigur Rós."

TV on the Radio is well-known. Not sure what to expect of their fearless leader TUNDE Adebimpe. But I reckon it'll be interestin'. Check the kudos for the latest TVOTR sorti: "The latest experiment from TV on the Radio goes horribly right." A- "The disc might be the most oddly beautiful, psychedlic and ambitious of the year...Consider your mind blown."-Entertainment Weekly

La Maroquinerie:

Feb 14: The Fuzztones: These guys have been called "the gurus of grunge and garage." For good reason. They've inspired hundred of bands (and not a few derrieres thought to be unshakeable) since they started on NYC's Lower East Side 26 years ago. Their current tour is proudly called "Horny as Hell." A good way to spend Valentine's Day without a sweetie. No hand-holding expected here, but people might jump all over you.

Feb 15: Les Inrocks: The Inrocks brings us Blood Arm from LA, U.S. Annointed Franz Ferdinand's favorite band, their last album was called, with no hyperbole whatsoever, 24 karet gold and given 4.5/5 stars. Eminently danceable, these guys often remind me of the Clash circa "This is the Radio Clash." Incontournable if you like that sort of thing.

Feb 20: Bonobo (Ninja Tune). Ambient, Chill, Electronica. This is what happens when you give some keyboards, guitars, and a lot of other high-tech toys. Chill soundscapes.

Feb 26: My brightest diamond (Asthmatic Kitty). Another one outta Brooklyn. And yet most of them sound different than the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. Ain't no sound. Certainly not from MY Brightest, whose atmospheric, experimental indie pop is anything but packaged. Powerful yet disciplined, Shara Worden's voice and songwriting makes me think of Chicago's Diane Izzo mixed with Tori Amos' alter ego. I like the jazzed up piano and vocals, which progressively unjazz themselves to a stop, and the fresh experiments with the string family (cello, viola, violin), in songs like "Riding Horses," which sounds at times like "Eleanor Rigby" with the Izzo/Amos vocals and strings. Try this drummer for a different march.

Feb 21: Girls vs. Boys. I shared playgrounds with these guys in the nineties, in Chicago and Lawrence, Kansas. The only better name for a band at the time would've been "Girls Kiss Boys." What? You didn't play that on your playground? Ah yes, the band: they were royalty of indie rock's noise family tree during the nineties, the heirs to Fugazi and Sonic Youth, and many people still think they hold up. Their contribution to a Joy Division tribute album in the 90s remains one of my favorites: "She's Lost Control." If you want yer old school cred, better skeedaddle over to the Maroq.

Feb. 22 Decembrists (Capitol/Kill Rock Stars): Not necessarily fans of the wintery month, this group's name partly refers to the 1825 Russian army revolt against absolutism. Ergo, they give you light and snappy rhythms seething up from below (or from the side? would the army be partly below and to the side?). How else shall we place this product? Organs, acoustic guitar, light electric gheee-tar licks, snare drummer from James, vocals from Neutral Milk Hotel and James again. Mmm mmm Good. Revolt used to be so easy before internet surveillance.

Nouveau Casino

Feb 19 Pop Levi: Synth pop with a distinctive indie voice. Nice xylophones (easily one of the most fetishized indie instruments of the moment, and for good reason) and textured, elongated "ah, ah" back vocals. Up, Up and away:in a word, levitating.

Feb 21 Acoustic Ladyland: Darlings of British critics, this bunch was called one of five groups not to be missed in 2005 by the Observer Monthly and the Guardian. Punk funk/jazz/rock. Judge for yourself in this video.

Feb 26: Bromheads Jacket: Indie Brit punk-pop that has been said to be notoriously devoted to the 70s British punk eruption. However, some of their slower stripped down songs recall mid-career Billy Bragg.

Feb 28 The Junior Boys: Here's how Pitchfork described their 2006 EP "So this is Goodbye": "its brittle rhythms and gleaming synths coalescing with the dark shapes and city lights in constant renewal on the other side of my window, the unfamiliarity of my surroundings giving it all a further resonance..." and "glowing synth lines and frigid percussions."

Divan Du Monde

Feb 16: Like the Gypsy stuff from Gogol Bordello to the Emir Kusturica and Tony Gatlif films? Check the “Jam Tsigane” at 19h and at 21h you get the Tsigane allstars, a rotation of djs mixing gypsy sounds.

Feb 26 Tobias Froeberg: Another Nordic indie singer-songwriter in the elastic mold of Nick Drake, Jose Gonzales, and I’m hearin’ pas mal de Simon and Garfunkle and Cat Stevens in it too. And after all, Froeberg's delicate and searching For Elisabeth Wherever She Is (2004) seems a clear hearkening back to S&G's song "For Emily, wherever I may find her."

Point Ephemer (coming asap)

But for now try:

Feb. 20:
The Album Leaf + Jason Edwards + Corrina Repp

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

MP3 Peep Show--TC

MP3 Peep Show: What we're listening to...Or... Avoiding Reality with Little TC
by TC

Rockin’ my iPod on shuffle (some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue):

[WARNING: Do not listen to all of these songs in one sitting or your mind/heart will instantaneously self-combust]

* Cat Power —Colors and the Kids, from the album Moonpix (Matador) — This is one of those songs that gets better every time I listen to it, but then again, bittersweet has always been my style. Chan croons in her heart-wrenching, yet somehow peaceful voice: “it's so hard to go in the city / 'cause you want to say hello to everybody / it's so hard to go into the city / 'cause you want to say 'hey I love you' to everybody.” I’m not sure there’s a better city in the world to drive that point home than Paris, which, just like Chan, has this way of making you happy and sad at the same time, a poetic ability I will never be able to comprehend, but always remain in awe of. As Dave Grohl once said (of how this songs makes him feel about Chan Marshall), “It makes me want to kidnap her and run away and hide forever.” (SHU)

* Neutral Milk Hotel — Oh Comely — Oh my my my! Who really knows what Jeff Mangum is twangily (yeah, I made up that word) belting out, but whatever it is, I feel it. Many people say this entire album (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea) is about Anne Frank, but honestly, I’m not really sure it matters. Even without knowing the meaning behind this song, it leaves me speechless every time. I’m a girl who’s down for good lyrics and a nice message behind them, but sometimes that’s just beside the point.

* Smog — To Be Of Use — If you’re into naked, lo-fi roc, Bill Callahan is definitely your man- just a guitar and a sweet, slow voice. At some point in our lives (for me, right now), we have this longing in us that we can never quite explain. Listen to this song, and you’ll finally have your answer. You’ll realize that your burning desire is simply to be of use, plain and simple: "Most of my fantasies are of / to be of use / to be of some, hard, simple, undeniable use". But then it ends, and you’re lost again. Repeat?

* Dirty Three — Rain On — The first time I heard this song, it was love at first listen… seriously. I believe I can be quoted as saying, “Wow. This has to be the most perfect introduction to a song… ever (and it's a huge deal for me to praise an artist like that who is not Cat Power). Rain On plays with your heart; the intro teases your emotions like it's about to reveal some big secret, but then decided not to- over and over again. There’s just something about this instrumental Aussie trio that really makes a place come alive; they are all over the place, yet fluid at the same time. Listening to them makes you love and appreciate your surroundings, really notice everything- the chocolate smudged in the corner of a child’s grin, the way the sun hits certain parts of buildings, the surprisingly comforting closeness of the person sitting next to you, etc. I attribute it mostly to the violin, one of the most under-used, under-appreciated instruments ever in present day, non-classical music (in my humble opinion), which is simultaneously seductive and innocent, just like this song.

* Brightblack Morning Light — Star Blanket River Child — These guys (two homeless friends from Alabama) make the kind of music that moves at my speed – extraordinarily chill. With a Rhodes piano, guitar, conga, acorn klave, trapkit, bass, and flute, the magic happens. If you ever want to dream your way out of the big city life for a moment, pop in this track, and you’ll be sleeping under the stars.

* Broken Social Scene — Almost Crimes (Acoustic Version)—Broken Social Scene is a music collective with over twelve rotating members (you never really know who you’re going to get), and they never let me down. Female vocals range from the likes of Feist, Amy Milan, Mirah, and others (all highly recommended), but Leslie Feist graces us with her presence on this acoustic version. As she serenades, “We’ve got love and hate; it’s the only way,” I can’t help but believe her. Life, like this song, is a bittersweet game of love and hate; it's up to you to decide which to focus on.

* Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Antennas to Heaven — I originally started listening to Godspeed because my roommate told me it would motivate me while writing papers, and it worked, but I slowly became addicted, paper time or not. This instrumental piece is messy yet seamless, elegant yet ferocious- --a whirlwind of emotions, if you will. At twenty minutes long, it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride from the country beginning to the French children singing in the middle to the instrumental finale, while still leaving you craving more. Put simply, this song satisfies my greedy desire to have all emotions wrapped up in a nice little bundle of a song.

* The Whitest Boy Alive — Fireworks — Contrary to what the title might suggest, this is not a bad attempt at a white rap group. Ever listen to Kings of Convenience? Take the mood of Kings of Convenience, multiple it by ten, add a spoonful of happiness and a pinch of funk, and you’ve got The Whitest Boy Alive.

* Múm — The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records — As if enough good music hasn’t already come out of Iceland, this group makes for great background music while you’re chillaxin (yes, I'm a victim of the Snoop Dogg industry), mixing both electronic and acoustic elements. The Ballad of the Broken Birdie Records is pure emotion- an upbeat yet mellow instrumental song, which throbs with a sweet layer of atmospheric vocals. When listening to this song, everything else just seems to fade away.

* Joanna Newsom — Peach, Plum, Pear — Who plays the harp? Seriously. Before Joanna Newsom, I’m pretty sure I could never use the words "harp" and "awesome" in the same sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I love all instruments, but when I think of a harp, I think of an old lady strumming it in the lobby of a Mississippi country club during Sunday brunch (a.k.a. a crowd of tightly-cravated cultural conservatives), but that’s just me. However, my impression has most definitely changed in the past few months. Let’s put it this way, Joanna Newsom plays the harp as interestingly/eccentricly as I’ve ever heard, breaking the pattern of conventional, dispirited harp strumming (and her voice is nice too). And although I have no clue what she is talking about in this song, whether it is about empowerment, change, or whatever, it makes me happy. In fact, I’ve even adopted the name of this song as my new catchphrase: Peach, Plum, Pear. What does that mean exactly? Listen, and maybe it’ll catch on.

* CocoRosie — K-Hole — Seeing as how these ladies recorded their first album (which this song is on) in the bathroom of their small Parisian apartment in Montmartre (using random items/toys for the music), I can totally relate to why they’re as quirky as they are. This satirical duo amazes me once again with K-Hole, a seemingly unrelated string of phrases that somehow come together to flow like a normal song. One may ask whether drugs are involved? My guess is yes, and, in all honesty, I’m not really sure it matters.

Oh yeah, and they’ll be in Paris on April 10. I’ve heard they’re amazing live, so I’ll definitely be there, and you should too. Care to join me?

* The Blow — Babay (Eat A Critter, Feel Its Wrath) — The lead singer of The Blow is a former member of The Microphones (who I love et j'adore!). If you listen to The Microphones a lot, you can hear the influence; however, The Blow has a sound all their own; I like to call it "smart-pop." It’s incredibly upbeat with surprisingly sad (perhaps ambiguous) lyrics. It’s pretty much the perfect music for people like me (those who listen to sad music but tend to be in denial about it).

* Ratatat — Seventeen Years — This is exactly the music you need when changing metro lines at places like Chatalet or Montparnasse (yes, this is your opportunity to fantasize about living In Paris, global readers); with this beat (and it’s literally nothing but beats), you can’t help but get a little pep in your step, no matter your mood (or bruises from all the pushing). You can even continue this pep at their concert on February 16 in Paris. Be there or be… well, you know.

* The Books — An Animated Description of Mr. Maps — What could possibly be better than an American college student and a middle-aged Dutch man coming together to make experimental music? As odd as it sounds, The Books are most definitely in my top-five list. These guys have a way of juxtaposing (cutting and pasting) their music with audio clips and ideas from the likes of Ghandi, Chomsky, and others. These guys are the kings of wordplay, and An Animated Description of Mr. Maps is an intriguing smorgasbord of sound clips that are extremely relatable for those of us Americans that who actually venture abroad, ending with this statement: “I want all of the American people to understand that it’s understandable that the American people cannot possibly understand.”

* I’ll pretty much listen to anything that catches my ear, or heart rather. I’m a sucker for a sad song, and I can’t deny it. Cat Power, no doubt, consumes many of my playlists, but somehow I find the time to squeeze in others. Some other favorites include: Bob Dylan (classic), Boards of Canada, Pinback, Ani DiFranco, Girl Talk (a sweet, sweet mix of pretty much every song you’ve ever heard on the radio), Handsome Boy Modeling School, Mogwai, Red House Painters, The Velvet Underground, Minus the Bear, Wilco, Mirah, The Unicorns, etc. This list goes on and on. My friends keep telling me I need to listen to “happy” music, but I’m one hundred percent sure I could never be happy listening to Fergie. So, it’s a Chan Marshall life for me… searching/desiring purity of expression.

So that’s me… A rollercoaster of emotions that’s sure to leave you contemplating life and slightly dizzy, but believe me, you’ll be happy you took the ride…

And the beat goes on…


Categories for the songs in the Peepshow:

SHU: Still Holds Up; not a new release but a great little ditty, for whatever reason the critic can conjure.
HC: Hot cake; this one is right out of the oven, or less than a year old.

Basically this review is all SHU, but was HC not all that long ago...

Just announced: Nouveau Casino hosts Supersuckers and Kristen Hersh

March 13 at Nouveau Casino: The Supersuckers
If you like to rock and you miss this, well then you super-suck!

March 16: Kristen Hersh. The former Throwing Muses bassist has amused us with a string of beautifully crafted and critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums. Somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Will Oldham's long lost female twin separated at birth.

They just keep comin'. This scene has exploded. And for my buzz-cut of the day: keep your ear to the ground for Narrow Terrence shows. They blew me away at La Maroq. last weekend. And yes, they're local!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Alert: Calling All Calexico Fans Tonight!

Monday February 12 at Fleche D'Or, 19h30.
For those of you jilted by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (sold out), why not rebound to Calexico and Tahiti Boy. It's not Calexico itself, but some time collaborator and Giant Sand member Howe Gelb is on stage, as are Calexicans Thomas Belshom and Volker Zandler. Gelb is a master indie pianist (witness his cover of "Iron Man": I rest my case) and poly-instrumentalist, like the Calexicans. It will be interesting to see what the Calexicans are up to in this rare opportunity to see them without their power octet. As almost always, the show is free for a pound of Fleche.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Monday, Feb. 12, HAWKSLEY WORKMAN, Nouveau Casino

HAWKSLEY WORKMAN (this preview from


"This Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a sort of off-beat Ben Folds Five, which is to say he looks at this gloomy world through the prism of a demented humour. He is no stranger to France, having lived here for a year, and has even (somewhat unbelievably) collaborated with Johnny Hallyday. His trademark coyote whine of a voice manages to harmonise itself quite brilliantly, and coupled with folky pop melodies, produces something quite uplifting. It’s amazing that one man could have that much talent shoehorned into him. CG"

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Concert Alert: The Hold Steady, plus Yeti

The Hold Steady
Feb. 11, La Maroquinerie. Tickets still available here (or at the door if any are left).
The Hold Steady are a somewhat unlikely but delicious mix of influences and talents. They are decidedly rockin', decidedly lyrical/cerebral, and decidedly americana-crossed. Depending on your age and your listening range and tolerance for musical multiculturalism, you will no doubt hear Bruce Springsteen, Guided By Voices, Ted Leo, Cake, AC/DC, Modest Mouse, the Replacements, and Social Distortion swimming about in their whirlpool of sound. For me it's a whirlpool that makes me scream , "Take me down, poets; Take me down!" The vocals are often spoken word to a kind of AC/DCish guitar accompaniment, moving into a Springsteenish keyboard chorus and back again. But then it's not a formula, either. So "often" is not "always." And there's "often" an appreciable pinch of country in there, though it mixes so well that it's probably not noticeable to the indelicate ear (I went on Extreme Makeover for music critic ears, so forgive my pride). If I told you it was a pinch of something else, you'd probably love it and never know the difference. Let's say it's a pinch of "boogie woogie." There, now go like it.

They begin their impressive recent (2006) album Boys and Girls in America thusly: 'There are nights when I think Sal Paradise was right/'Boys and Girls in America have such a sad time together....' Sal Paradise was of course the beat (anti-) hero of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. (I also now wonder if that's what Kim Wilde's 80s indie teen anthem was about.)
At other times, you find them ventriloquizing the late great poet John Berryman: "...I surround myself with doctors and deep thinkers/but big heads with soft bodies make for lousy lovers..."
But most of all, this album is true to its title: it is a meditation on (esp. American) teen life, in malls and parking lots, drag racing and struggling with the pressures and structures of a society that are drifting and hardly planned. They burn, they pinch, they result in madness, suicides, prom queens and kings, endearingly iconoclastic "hoodrats," and prep school basketcases. Perhaps it's a bit strong to say, but the themes and tone of "Boys and Girls..." suggests a kind of musical Larry Clarke.
As always, check'em out at Myspace to judge whether my earjob was worth it. See you there?

February, 12 2007 at Kibélé Paris
12 rue de lEchiquier 9º Paris, Paris,
February, 14 2007 at solo à l'Espace Jemmapes (on Canal St. Martin, Quai de Jemmapes)
I told you about Yeti the other day, in my speedo review of the Limonaire show. But I failed to mention that she wails and yawps better than a bansheee and better than Walt Whitman himself (and that's not to be taken lightly since I have personally known banshees and Walt Whitman), and I wish, only wish I could blister my fingers like she does with her dances across the accordion's keyboard. Maybe she'll give me some lessons? She is extremely entertaining, expressive, theatrical, and best of all, sounds good. What if PJ Harvey was a thespian who played accordian? Yeti: it's Dutch, bitch!
See you there, too.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 05, 2007

OH MY G! Ok Go!


This Week in Indie Paris, and new venues

by Jayson
For the week ending Feb. 11, I thought I'd highlight a few likely good choices (since we're a bit late on our calendar for the month, ahem). But first I'll say I had a fantastic time at Le Limonaire (never had a bad time there, come to think of it) Friday night, seeing the extremely entertaining and loveably named Yeti, Mange-moi, as well as Arlt (formerly Sing-Sing and Eloise).

Yeti and Mange-moi were as much theater as music. Extremely energetic and funny as hell (Yeti has a rubber fish attached to her accordion...just like mine), Yeti and Mange-moi were hard acts to follow for my decidedly more sober old standby Arlt. But they don't disappoint, either. I would recommend all of these artists if you see them on the Limonaire bill, or any other. Mange-moi's lead singer charmed me with her chicken dance and trombone virtuosity. They also have a song about spanking and underwear in which they charmingly, gimmickily string a clothes line festooned with some impressive undergarments--I got quite an education--all across the petite salle. I'll spare you the joke about finally getting to see some French underwear...

Monday, tonight, at Fleche D'Or: SOPHIALO REN (Fr/Us).
Even if you don't read French, you can make out the hybrid sound described in this snippet I've pasted from the Fleche site: hip hop, electronic, broken beat and punk rock. Sanguine, I'm tres sanguine.
"Issu du collectif franco-américain Spontane, révélés dans l’underground New-Yorkais, ces musiciens combinent hip hop, musiques électroniques, broken beats et punk rock dans une ambiance psychédélique et novatrice. Le groupe a déjà partagé l’affiche avec Antibalas (Ninja Tune), Roots Manuva (Big Dada) et Dr Israël." There's also a French band in residence this month at Fleche, Tahiti Boy. Their photo boasts a miniature pink piano, which I assume is actually played on stage. I'm a sucker for a pink piano.

Tuesday at Fleche: An American band affectionately called "Flop." Sounds like a nostalgia band for early 90s Seattle--Mudhoney, Nirvana, etc. But their description got me interested--not sure whether that means I'm superficial, they are or both. They claim to have stolen their "friends'" instruments and started their band. How punk is that? Here's their myspace: :
A wonderfully named French band, Lapin Machin, ends the night; they're described as "punk-folk." Sounds promising.

Wednesday at the Fleche D'or: CHARLES CAMPBELL-JONES (London)
On September 24th 2006, Australian keyboardist, songwriter and vanguard Charles Campbell-Jones delivers his debut album Wasting The Duke on Bronzerat records, an unorthodox yet classic journey rooted in blues, glam, krautrock and West Coast harmonies, and bolstered by masterful songwriting. It was recorded over 12 months in various London studios and mixed by Ben Thackeray (Bloc Party, Roots Manuva, Winnebago Deal, etc). Previously likened to Kate Bush, Roxy Music, Lift To Experience and Nut Gone Flake era Small Faces (the psychedelic tracks, not the cockernee ones), CCJ's music combines serious artistic ambitions, beauty and no-nonsense rock and roll.

AT the Maroquinerie (the Maroq) Monday night, tonight, a young Parisian talent showcase. From chanson Afro-folk to electronica. Must be something interesting there.

Tuesday at the Maroq: Son of Dave, polyinstrumentalist formerly of the Crash Test Dummies. Son of a Dave appears with Fink, British electro scene fave.

Wednesday features the sehr noisiche Kiwis, the Datsuns. Check the Maroq calendar if you read French. Some interesting stuff there this week (as is often the case), but it may be worth going to myspace to listen first.

Recently I mentioned the Studio de l'Hermitage as a charming new venue I discovered. Seeing Little Red Lauter at the Bicyclette Saturday reminded me to mention that venue too. One could also add Cafe de Paris. And "one" will add them to our fast-growing index of indie bars/venues in our right-hand sidebar (yes, as opposed to our left-hand sidebar, smartasses).
Have a great week in surprisingly indie-enough Paris.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Indie Show Alert

Saturday Feb. 3, Le Limonaire, Arlt, 8pm.
Same night, My crush of the week: Little Red Lauter, la Bicyclette, 5 rue de Chaumont, paris, Ile-de-France 75019 Cost : free
Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"