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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Late November Picks: Eli Paperboy Reed, Sigur Ros, Noah and the Whale,

November Picks: Sigur Ros, Hot Chip, Joan as Policewoman, Noah and the Whale, Eli Paperboy Reed

Jayson Harsin writing for I V Y paris

It may be getting colder in late November, but Paris is burning (musically too). Allow the cheesy weather metaphors a reprieve for yet another sentence.

On November 15, Paris gets Iced. Iceland's Sigur Ros (featured left) has in recent years been the posterboy for post-rock. Weird, falsetto voices (in Icelandic) and lush interplanetary soundscapes mesmerize with electronic shimmys and drones, as well as high feedback guitar strumming. They give you the sense of orbiting the earth, becoming a human satellite, when you listen.

This year SR released their fifth full-length album, Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust (translation for the couple of readers nonfluent in Icelandic: With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly), which is slightly less wall-of-sound than past albums, containing short, airy pop songs like "Gobbldigook," and clearly distinguishable instruments. The more "tethered" selections of this album may merit the venue choice at the Zenith instead of the nearest IMAX theater. Zenith, 19h30 complet/full (check Craig's List, les Inrocks forum, or try scalpers for some spots).

Next check out the November 16 night of the Festival Les Inrocks at La Cigale. The lineup features Hot Chip, Cut Copy, Late of the Pier, Metronomy, and Kennedy. UK's Hot Chip is perhaps the buzzin'est act of the bunch. Their brand of electropop, catchier than techno thumps and loops, but contagiously danceable, won NME's best album of the year 2006, and their fourth album won album of the month for January 2008 by the influential Mixmag. Witness the video evidence:


On November 19 Brooklyn's Joan as Policewoman rolls into the Maroquinerie with sirens blaring. “Beauty is the new punk rock,” her myspace page somewhat pretentiously announces. Beauty may be relative, convulsive, ineffable, and/or a revolutionary ideal in a time Joan finds saturated with apathy and distrust, but her music is at least an honest chasing after that elusive ideal. The guitar work sometimes recalls the early Cure (such as “The Forest”) at others a nostalgic horn-backed lounge soul, while vocals even recall the silk-throated Madeleine Peyroux or Feist. A pastiche that has yet to arise in the indie world, Joan’s music exudes a fleeting innocence, usually found by dusting off scratchy vinyl.
Witness exhibit number 2:


November 20's Inrocks Indie Club at La Maroquinerie features Noah and the Whale, who is tearing up the CMJ chart in the U.S. What is it those college kids dig in Noah? A catchy indie folk-pop, that features quirky vocals, never to have been corrupted by a voice lesson. Some songs are twangier than others, with a bit of violin in the mix. See for yourself.


On November 27 arguably the greatest new soul sensation returns to the Maroquinerie. Was here in the summer and blew a small Maroquinerie audience away in the middle of les vacances. Perfectly pickled soul vocals moved effortlessly between slow Sam Cooke-d croons and James Brownesey yelps, giving him the unchallenged title of best new indie artist of the retro soul genre (but hey, he could simply take Best New Indie Artist, period). He belted out songs that made the more casual soul fan blink, "Is this a Sam, uh, Cooke cover? Or stammer, "Was that Wilson P-P-Pickett?"

Alas, no, he treated the audience to few covers, but the fact that the Amy Winehouse-led soul revival even wonders about it suggests the Paperboy is the Shit.


This ain't no Blues Brothers cover band. And this ain't another Vanilla Ice. And the live performance is as lively as it should be: a demi-Black Baptist Sunday sermon. No minstrelsy. Just true love. This guy has been studying the soul tradition for years, singing along, letting the spirits stake out a claim in his head and heart.

Honorable Mentions: Wolf Parade, Nov 25, Le Trabendo (beautiful song writing, and equally beautiful, baleful vocals); Mercury Rev, 25 Nov. L'Elysee Montmartre (kings of '90s American indie pop, psychadelic distortion).

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