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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Concert Picks: End of May, Early June

Animal Collective (NYC)
Almost impossible to classify, psych-folk or synth-pop, sometimes danceable, other times just ponderable, this New-York based group of musicians are nothing if not playfully experimental. Strange, strange, unpredictable sounds come out of their speakers. Is it African tribal dance, Woody Guthrie, and bubble gum pop meets electronica? I don't know, but it's sure as hell captivating.
24 May, Theatre de l’Alhambra

Often discussed as part of the folktronica movement that true to its name uses electronic stuff to complement traditional folk sounds/instruments, this UK band pushes the envelope still farther by incorporating "instruments" little known in Western indie circles: sea shells, for example. Their brand has not gone unnoticed, as their music was featured on the American teen TV drama the O.C. Who says musical styles are doomed to repeat? For those who'd like to see Animal Collective smoke more weed.
Tues 27 May, Le Trabendo

The Fratellis
Hot glam-injected pop-rock from Glasgow, though their sound can change from chamber harmonies to driving rock within the same song. Great citations of T-Rex (indeed, they do a fantastic cover of "Solid Gold Easy Action" from the Hot Fuzz soundtrack). Their debut album set the UK charts aflame, and their much awaited sophomore effort, Here We Stand, hits the UK next month. Strech your neck before the show, as the music is irresistibly head-bobble-able. Shame about the overlap with MGMT.
28 May, Point Ephemere

This Brooklyn psychadelic-tinged synth-rock group is getting huge. And why shouldn't they? Their January release, Oracular Spectacular, lives up to its title's pretensions. Produced by the venerable Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips), the album boasts beaming keyboards and poppish off-beats that gained him entry to the pantheon of indie producers. And hear the critics purr. These guys have been writing witty songs, and producing great electroclash since their college days at Wesleyan, but this album is a landmark. A welcome end to a stellar musical month in Paris.
28 May, Cigale

Chan Marshall is a prima donna, but a sufferable one. Her odd voice, equal parts of grit and velvet, like a high-end high alcohol-content whiskey, gave us stellar albums like Moonpix, The Covers Record, and The Greatest; and songs like "Nude as the News," "Hate," and reprises like Uncle Tupelo's "Moonshiner." She recently came out with another impressive covers album, Jukebox in January. She was long the troubled artiste maudite, marked by the Vh1-worthy bouts with booze and drugs that brought her to what she called a "psychotic breakdown" in 2006. She claims to have taken the sober road these days. Still, some say her live performance is as Cat Powerful as ever.
1 June, Olympia

Festival Villette Sonique
An electro-pop festival at Parc de la Villette. Excellent line up. See full program by clicking here.

3-8 June, La Villette

DEVO (Festival Vilette Sonique):
The great anti-rock, electro-pop pioneers of the 80s are back. Synth-soaked hits like "Whip It" and "Girl U Want" put them at the spear's head for American New Wave sounds, while their critique of "classic rock" masculinity and its cultural context (see their 1978 debut Q:Are We Not Men? A: We are Devo) has been important to a whole generation of global post-punk artists and fans.
With Marvin (expensive, but could be once in a lifetime).
Tues 3 June, 8pm Grand Halle, Parc de la Villette

The Futureheads
While their last album was not, in my opinion, thoroughly dazzling, their cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" packed a surfeit of dazzle-itude. This is great post-punk power pop, reminiscent of The Only Ones.
5 June, Le Trabendo

Mission of Burma and Shellac
Yes, Belinda Carlisle, heaven really is a place on earth. This show brings one of (THE, according to many) the most influential post-punk bands in the world (Mission of Burma) together with one of the most influential experimental noisy guitar acts and legendary producers of the 90s (Shellac and Steve Albini).

The Boston band Mission of Burma no doubt influenced their showmates with their at the time new jagged guitars and rhythms in classics like "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" (as Hermann Goering used to say), "Max Ernst, and "Class War." They openly committed themselves to building additions onto the purposely basic punk edifice, with a kind of choppy guitar style reminiscent of Leeds post-punk trailblazers The Gang of Four but with more complicated time signatures, chord progressions, and overall noisiness (in some songs more than others, to be sure). Forming in 1979 and disbanding in 1983, MoB reunited in 2002 and toured to big American and European audiences with Bob Weston of Shellac on the mixing boards. Since then they've been lauded with critical praise and have produced two studio albums.

Seen as central to the "math rock" and "noise rock" movements of the 90s, which reacted against "straight up" punk-influenced guitar rock of the late 80s and early 90s, Shellac went for minimalist but loud crackling guitars, bass and drums, in odd time signatures, with repetitive measures lending themselves to head-banging or sharp body-lunging dancing in place, and heavily sarcastic lyrics often delivered in speak-sing (try "Squirrel Song" on myspace).
Sat 7 May, 8pm, Parc de la Villette, 25€ (FNAC or Parc dlV)

Radio who? Anybody heard of these guys? I heard they're okay.
9-10 Jun, Bercy

4 July, Parc des Princes

Another no-namer this month. I hear he's a good dancer, better than average folk singer, and excellent karokist of Prince. Could be worth your coup, as they are wont to say in these parts.
July, Olympia

Well, this beautifully noisy act was as name-droppable as Pavement and Sonic Youth in indie rock circles of the 90s. Do they hold up? Have they reached their Zenith or should they rename the club Nadir? Only one way to find out.
9 July, Zenith

Rock en Seine: August 28-29 (Boulogne): I'm not a big fan of the rock festivals these days, but some of you may be interested in some of the artists playing. See their link.

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Formerly "Parisnormale: Paris Rocks"