Shit, did you know that Eminem is 41 years old?? I have just found that out since he’s now all over the place with his new (and very good) new album that I will review very soon. This piece of info makes me feel seriously old…
But life is well architecture anyway and a few months ago I have stumbled upon Black Sun, the video of two youngsters who give us their own blend of dubstep, as aggressive as it is melodic. Wow, my friends. Wow. The need to be in a dark steamy room surrounded by hot dancing bodies is almost immediate. So I started my investigations and find out that this awesome little bomb was made by Eleonore and Engus, (two siblings that are only 16 and 17 years old!) under the name Carbon Airways.
I have always heard that new musical trends can only come from the new generations and now I start to seriously believe it! It’s with no hesitation that I then dive completely into this second EP, named Black Sun, mixed by a certain Dave Sardy – go look him up on Wikipedia, your nose is gonna bleed!
The sound is serious and heavy – on one side you have Engus who’s obviously a metal fan and probably an angry guy, on the other you have his sister, Eleonore, with a voice as deep as aerial. You have to imagine what Skrillex would sound like if only he would express entirely his metalhead influences.
With this EP, like with Crystal Castles, listening can be very much like experiencing an out-of-body kind of way (Black Sun), as it can makes you feel like kicking the walls with anger (DNA Providence). There is something out of Prodigy in the way Carbon Airwaves mixes and matches styles and delivers such golden tracks. And then again, it looks like this French duo is only starting to find their path.
And even though Conquest has some minor weaknesses to it, it’s completely forgivable. The only real frustration is that this is only an EP, which contains three (decent but nothing more) remixes. I would be curious to see what these two could do on a LP or, even better, in front of a live audience. What’s really cool is that I haven’t had a musical crush for a long time and I am definitely into these guys. Try it now and thank me later.
Many thanks to Nina!
It ain’t easy to find a band these days that knows how to re-create the much adored 60s psychedelic groove without looking a bit pathetic while trying. A countless number of bands aspire to it but unfortunately psychedelic rock doesn’t just magically happen because you’re wearing a Velvet Underground tshirt.
However since their 2006 debut’s album, Passover, Austin’s Black Angels manage to do just that and they pull it off nicely if not perfectly. They know the formula well and they obviously enjoy it a lot since they have been repeating it for the past four albums, culminating with their latest studio effort: Indigo Meadow. Afterall it’s not for nothing if they’re considered the authority for modern psych rock: they deserve the title. With a sound saturated of reverby and trippy riffs, a flair for dark lyrics and a singer who looks like a trucker but sounds like Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick, it’s safe to say that if you enjoy getting high while listening to The Doors, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy getting high on the Black Angels.
Some may criticize the repetitiveness of their tracks and I myself find the vocal melodies a tad monotonous, but all in all Black Angels is a band who knows how to play and knows exactly where it wants to go through its music. So how about their live performances? Well, after hearing raving reviews of their concerts by my 60s rock loving friends, I had the opportunity to see the Austin quartet (actually now expanded to a quintet) at the Trianon in Paris, a beautiful old theatre/concert hall with an always impeccable sound and a trippy gothic look perfect for the occasion.
The band delivers from the beginning, the sound is great and the psych vibe is further reinforced by the hypnotic light show that sucks you in further down the hole. Like I said, the Black Angels sure love their psychedelia and know how to generate it in an entrancing way. BUT (and this is where I wish this was not 2013 and I was not in Paris) after a few tracks I realize that this is not the kind of gig that you want to see sober. And when I say sober, I mean not stoned. And – fuck me- i wasn’t! Because unfortunately this is not Colorado where I can just bring my weed portable vaporizer to my trippy music gig. This is Paris, France, where lighting up a spliff in a concert hall is considered the highest of crimes, which, as you can imagine ruins the whole psych experience. Afterall would the Woodstock years have been the same if not for the ready availability of non-regulated high quality grass? But being way too lucid for the occasion, I have to say that after 40 minutes or so I got a bit bored of the sound, interesting at first but kind of redundant after a while. Now, if you are like my friends, who came more prepared and dropped some cheap but fun pills with their 10 euros pints of beer, you are definetely going to have a great time during this type of gig.
But yeah, it’s still an engaging and solid live performance compared to many boring ones, and it does live up to the great reviews that i heard in the past. Also, I really feel, and I might be biased because I am a chick (and a drummer) , that the star of the night is drummer Stephanie Bailey who behind her blonde hairs and a tiny frame, is a little force of nature! She hits the drums with no mercy from beignning to end and even though her eyes are stuck on her kit and you can barely see her face, she oozes a special blend of coolness and class that really makes her stand out. Her sound is hypnotically steady, non-pretentious but hard and with a tribal feel, almost animalistic, which I think provides most of that psych groove that we all like in the Black Angels.
The best part of the night? The much awaited encore where we see the introduction of a sitar, awesomely executed, for a couple of very hypnotic tracks. Very trippy, very Beatlesy, Ravi Shankar would be proud.
So yeah, to summarize, it was definitely money and time well spent even though it got slower at the end. I guess what I am saying is that, like many, I dig this brand of psych rock and the Black Angels certainly know how to deliver an entartaining and mesmerizing performance, but if you happen to go to one of their gigs and want to be sure to maximize the experience, don’t be a fool and bring your own drugs!
Has the darling Amanda Palmer found the best way to open a concert? We think so, as even before the opening act, the singer arrived on stage wearing a bath robe to perform her ukulele version of the classic Radiohead tune “Creep”. No tricks: just her voice and a very excited audience. First seconds of the gig and already lots of thrills…respect!
The rest of the night stays loyal to Grand Theft Orchestra as the opening acts are none other than Jherek Bischoff and then Chad Raines with its band Simple Pleasure. A groovy rock with lots of loops, a certain American sophistication and a surefire talent that immediately seduced the audience: Jherek Bischoff’s recipe works and the audience starts to get seriously on fire.
Simple Pleasure is taking over now and the dances formally begin with a lots of appearances form tonight’s hostess, Amanda. It’s all very happy and cheerful and Chad Reines is giving it all on stage to make the public dance. Next was a totally unexpected act that Amanda has invited. Bitter Ruin, a british duo, who came to show us very simply how to break it all down in just one song. Sheer energy + a cat and mouse game between Ben and Georgia: midway between a musical gig and a theatrical performance. A true tsunami of impressive charisma!
But of course: the one we were all waiting for with impatience is the one and only Amanda Palmer. And what better way to properly start than with an excellent (future?) classic “Do It With A Rockstar”, mainly sung by the audience. But… wait a second… The gentleman behind the drum set is kind of familiar…holy hell! It’s the mighty Thor Harris who left us mightily impressed no longer than a few weeks ago when he performed with Swans at Hellfest! It’s funny to see him with a little velvet pair of shorts but, of course, that doesn’t make him any less talented. This big gentle giant is impressive and will give all the energy he’s got. And trust us, the energy is abundant, especially on the Dresden Dolls cover that pleases the audience as it should.
It’s only when the queen of the night decides it’s time that we start sliding into a more attentive and observant atmosphere with a magnificent version of “Delilah”, accompanied by Georgia of Bitter Ruin. Another moment that testifies that these people are old friends getting together for a casual gig. No plans, no big management, no guidelines… Just pure friendship and obvious pleasure to be here. A cover of the distinguished French singer Francoise Hardy? Why not, we are in Paris after all!
That’s also when Amanda Palmer decides to grip us from deep within with “Bottomfeeder” and “The Bed Song”. I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy the studio version of this song…but the live version has completely taken me over and had myself shivering with emotion. I can also say that Amanda was herself almost in tears as well as a good part of the audience. But now back to a more festive and carefree atmosphere with two covers of the Dresden Dolls, the powerful “Girl Anachronism” as a final fireworks. It’s hard for us to admit that the concert is ending there but unfortunately the curfew restrictions of this concert hall are way too strict and prevail on Amanda’s will to continue.
Now even more famous after her TED presentation, the singer stays true to her reputation of being very close to her fans. In fact this was without a doubt one of the warmest gigs that I have had the pleasure to see in the past few years. It’s so nice to have the feeling of an unexpected performance, some sort of wild cabaret. It is perhaps the secret of Amanda’ success: the feeling that everything is possible while so many bands are too predictable and stiff in their performances. Because in the end, it’s cool to do it with a rockstar!
Thanks to Marion for her help!
Amanda Palmer (La Cigale – Paris – 07.09.2013)
Sunday – 1PM
Arrival of yours truly on location.
Tons of festival folks are already taking place on the buses so efficiently put in place by the organizers and bring us to the entry like little tins of tiny, smelly and excited fishes. At the entry the music is already calling us in, like a snake enchanter, and a feeling of festivity is in the air.
In spite of the (first of the season!) super boiling hot day in Paris and the lack of spots in the shadow, people showed up in masses and are eager to start partying. Everything is in place to properly celebrate in style the 15 years (yes, already!) of this cool Parisian festival that is Solidays. Even though the main and most well-known attractions are the 5 stages of the festival that host a variety of artists and performances, we should not forget the true purpose of why this event was created in the first place, which is the fight against AIDS and the reason why a number of super-motivated charity workers are spread around the festival to raise awareness and funds for this important cause.
The party has officially started; everyone is in a super great mood. There are all kind of attractions set up for this edition of the festival: food and drinks from all over the world obviously but also special animation for kids, a few green-corners full of palm trees where you can relax and get a massage (yes! A massage!) and also a place where you can bungee-jump and last but not least a big favorite of festivals in the past few years – the silent disco!
8 PM – the moment I was waiting for: Beady Eye!
Yes, the mood stays high in spite of the arrival of Mr. Moody himself AKA Mr. Liam Gallagher who –and this is VERY RARE trust me – decides to grace the crowds by getting off stage and stepping in the middle of the audience to say hi and receive a teddy bear from an adoring fan. Wait!! Mr. Gallagher what happened? Was it the heat that made him go crazy?? Or was it some kind of collective mirage where we were all dreaming? ( No no I refuse to think I was dreaming…especially because I think I saw him blowing me a kiss from far away…YES! It was addressed to me, I swear!!).
Aaaaanyway if one thing is sure is that the only appropriate way to celebrate this first real day of Parisian summer was by being at Solidays with its variety of animations and musical ecstasy (among my favorites Gogol Bordello and Django-Django that I really recommend in case you don’t know them yet!). Another concert that was definitely long awaited by fans was the one of Asaf Avidan who managed to attract crowds from all over the festival location with his signature voice.
This edition of Solidays will culminate on David Guetta’s explosive electrical performance (it’s much easier to dance now that the evening breeze has set in) which concludes this experience on high notes of general euphoria. Again, happy 15th birthday Solidays and see you next year for your sweet sixteen!
Thanks to Mahe’ for her help!
Yayy ! Joy !! I have to say that I had a hard time hiding my happiness when i received my invite to the Crystal Castles gig. For at least two reasons. First: their latest album is DA bomb and has a bunch of tracks that will be instant classics (like “Plague”). Secondly: my first time with this band was like…the first time, if you know what I mean! That’s why I was really curious to see another time these two strange human beings – Alice Glass and Ethan Kath – in action.
Once I arrive in the mythical Parisian venue L’Olympia, I have fun checking out the audience and see what kinds of characters are populating the place. There’s a bit of everything: some well-dressed hipsters with really ugly hairstyles, some super dark goths, some drunken Australians (a permanent feature at almost every gig) and lots of feminine looking guys and masculine looking chicks. What is this gonna look like once the concert begins, you ask? Like a crazy and chaotic pogo-fest that perfectly fits with the band spirit! Because this gig tonight will be dark and violent, just like the stage décor showing the picture taken by Samuel Aranda that was used for the band’s album cover.
Being that the musical genre here is pretty rough – in a good way – I have to admit that the atmosphere is quite brutal –also in a good way – and it’s fun to hear some blonde princess scream that “people need to calm down, it’s just a concert after all”. Ahahah poor chick. She did not expect two of their most excellent tracks ,”Plague” and “Baptism”, being played directly at the beginning of the gig.
Even though the sound is still slightly rough, Alice is in excellent shape and spirit and starts slamming into the public. What the blonde princess from before needs to understand is that this is not a normal concert but rather a communion between the audience and its goddess. Alice knows that all eyes are on her but she manages to look detached and casual while still offering an awesome performance. Ethan is the opposite since he basically spends most of his time on top of his machines but he does take some time to address the audience…and, you won’t believe it, but I can testify that I saw him smile!
Anyway – new album, new excellent tracks and a gig full of good moments. The song “Alice Practice” puts the audience on fire but the real peak of the night will be on the ferocious “Insulin”. The addition of a drummer on this track makes total sense and the song is the perfect example of how this band can merge some rock and some electronics and give birth to the perfect union. People dance their asses off but dark and violent remain the two key words for tonight’s atmosphere. No silly speeches between the songs, no raise your hands all together now – just some wild lights, strobes and sheer energy.
There is definitely a disturbing element in Crystal Castles’ music and something incredible going on during their concerts. It’s only with the tracks “Sad Eyes” and “Not in Love” that the atmosphere slightly cools down, just so we can try to sing a bit over Alice’s faked voice. And by the way, I have just learned while writing this report that Alice is only 24 years old. Wow.
Even though the end of the show is not as good as the beginning, I cannot say enough how much I am impressed by this band and their performance. Crystal Castles is definitely a unique kind of band, talented, mysterious and slightly dangerous! You’ll never know how you’ll personally be impacted by it but I can guarantee you that the energy is there and it looks unstoppable! FIGHT!
Thanks to Léa for her help!
I like to think that the relationship between CocoRosie and I is like the story of a long friendship. The first contact was in 2005 during an over-excited gig and accompanied by a mystery guest, a guy relatively unknown at the time (a certain Devendra Banhart…). Then, a few lovely encounters at the Mad Vicky Tea Gallery.
Then it was the turn of the albums – The Adventures Of Ghosthorse & Stillborn and Grey Oceans : interesting works, surely, but not as good as expected. Finally, I heard Tales of a Grass Widow, an album definitely superior compare to the previous two, and once again magic happened. I didn’t hesitate for a second when I had the chance to see them live at the magnificent Trianon.
When it comes to CocoRosie, there’s one thing that is undeniable: you never know what to expect during a concert! The visuals, the musicians on stage, the choice of songs are more often than not completely unforeseen! This time, the gig starts in the dark as the artists are wearing fluorescent make up (not exactly the best for us photographers…). The audience’s eyes are obviously following the Casady sisters and waiting for them to make a move. It’s Bianca who opens the bal and manages, once again, to raise the hairs in the back of my neck – in a good way!
I think that this is what makes the magic of CocoRosie. There’s a sort of a perfect balance between the two voices who complement each other flawlessly while they probably wouldn’t work as beautifully if separated. The more time passes, the more these two sisters have learned how to combine their vocal skills so as to create all kind of emotions and atmospheres. Harmelss Monster is a good example for this. Despite the gloomymoment at the beginning of the concert, the act then started to warm up a bit and, helped by an amazing human beatbox, CocoRosie lightens the room little by little before reaching climax during the song “Gravediggress” (a perfect combo of the two voices and an amazing vocal performance from Sierra).
Even though there are indeed some surprises on stage (a dancer/stripper, some electronic beats that keep the energy up), somehow the second part of the show kind of falls back to a less exciting level: maybe it’s because the public is (too?) attentive but not very inclined to dance. It’s surely not tonight that the room will turn into a massive dance floor…and it’s only with the very famous track “Smokey Tabboo” that the artists manage to wake the audience up and force them to move around a bit. Even though the tracks performed during the encore are slightly more animated, I will not get the outburst of energy that I was expecting from both the artists and the audience. Eh well. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t appreciated the gig, far from that! CocoRosie knows how to make good shows and its best quality is knowing how to spicy it up and take some risks. It’s a band that really feels like a happy group of friends and there’s some real cheerful spirit coming out from this little universe.
The only question I am left with… and please allow me to ask: how can you offer such great music and such awful album covers at the same time? Who knows. What I know for sure is that, after a few highs and lows in our long-term friendship, I am happily reconciled with this excellent band!
Thanks to Aymeric for his help!
Coco Rosie (Le Trianon – Paris – 05.28.2013)