Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The end of a decade duty

OK, so even if technically, the end of the decade would be the 31st of December 2011 (we all know that), it's always a big fetishist fuzz when we turn from the 9 to the 0. And everybody launch improper top 10 (to 100) albumofthedecades covering the last ten years (in fact the last 9 years), often without any personalities (zzzzz The Kills, zzzzz Animal Collective, zzzzzz The Rakes, zzzzzzz The Cribs, zzzzz Vampire Weekend). It's funny how everybody love to celebrate a new year by organizing a burial.

And because we got personalities and we're surprisingly humble, let's drop our top 10 and our best-something-category-ofthelast9years. And if you think it's sucks, you're on our blog, show some respect and go fuck yourself. So let's start the nostalgic rock-critic exercise :

1) Is This It - The Strokes (2001)

Ok on that one I don't show any difference with anybody else, but well, would be like pretending that Nevermind The Bollock is a bad album.

Just remember, if you were, let say, 17 in 2001 and desperate to listen to rock and you only had the choice between Radiohead, Muse and Smashing Pumpkins.

Gosh, all my friends were into Radiohead.

Honestly, I was just living by The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, Einstürzende Neubauten and (errrr) Bauhaus. I couldn't admire, well, not even love a band under 35 of age (except Belle And Sebastian, of course, but for rock'n'roll action, B&S is not the best band ever). Which was quite embarrassing.

In those pre-internet days, the access of information seemed to have been trust by technoïd and post-rock trend, and for any little boy dreaming of clever energetic short songs, this period was hell on earth. And The Strokes came. They immediately intrigued me, first because they didn't seems to be fossil-came-to-life (like Thee Gun Elephant, for example) and they didn't had anything of this boring US indie like we had before (I never liked Sebadoh, Dinosaur Jr, just a few songs by Pavement and Royal Trux were looking too dodgy for me then. And remember again, all those band by 2001 were about their 5fh albums, so not really young either).

The great stuff about Is This It, it draw a line. Not between cool and uncool people (well, ok a bit) but inside the rock nation: once again we could pretend once more that techniques, pretentious, covers, never-end gigs, all these things were un-necessary to write good songs. And that a good album never last more than 40 minutes. And we could say once more that The Doors and The Floyd were actual shit.

It seems a bit odd to write that today, after a decade of rediscovery of the immediately virtues but at this time in France, that was more than useful.

Well I will not write anything about the sexy-sm of the Strokes, all I could say is they had a incredible way to dress. Just by looking at them I could feel part of something who were then about to disappear: I could have long hair, tie, shirt, tight jeans and boots without feeling like a loser. I was part of something. It was like the pics of the VU or of the NYC punk I loved coming to life. Like breathing.

Like having somewhere some connections with people who didn't think "hummm yes, the 60's look good, but anyway it's DEAD. Now you need these stupid baggy jeans, these ugly hoods, and those horrible trainers. Do it or you're out."

Ok, end of the nostalgia sequence.

I haven't listen to it for quite long time now and the last time I did I was in a basement and my colleague upstairs started to play it and to scream on it (hello, Graham). And if it came out now I'm sure l would laugh at it. But Is This It just came at the right time and started something we're still on today. And today I feel like I'm a part of it.

2) Chat And Business - Ikara Colt (2002)

That's my actual number one. This time I don't have any nostalgia story about this one. Well one, I bought the album after reading an incredibly good interview of the singer. That's it.

Ikara Colt always been underrated I think, for reasons I never understood. But I think if Chat And Business was released one year later, everybody would have been in love with it. Because it just came a this moment of reconstruction of the new-indie UK scene, a bit before it became the Next Big Thing. So not a lot of people get a hook on it.

I did and I still do.

The thing about Ikara Colt is they sound like anybody else but sooo much better. Full of tension, aggression, like if they would collapse if they stop to play. But it always stay in balance between the HxC tension and the pop side. A great paranoid record which is actually the best The Fall album ever (anyway, apart from Live At the Which Trial and Dragnet, did Mark E Smith ever succeed to be something else than being an alcoholic? No. And don't say anything about Grotesque or Hex Induction Hour. No. Don't.). Feverish drums, minimalist guitars, post-punk bass and this great voice in between (well, no need to talk about the keyboards).

3) Black One- Sunn O))) (2005)

A lot later after Chat And Business and a lot after my mod period, my post-punk period, my goth period and my punk period.

I had to moved to England and I was feeling lonely and totally depressed. I was hardly speaking any English at all and was just staying in my (expensive) room, just living by night and by Soulseek.

Before Sunn O))), I never had a proper metal period if you except Burzum's Filosofen. I was feeling in need of something creeper, harder, weirder and more aggressive than what I could have been listening to before. I started to listen to a bit of noise, a bit of drone, a bit of grind, a bit of doom (anyway, I was mixing up).

I knew about Sunn O))) by some live review on internet and I had the Demo. But I couldn't go further, feeling a bit lost and illegitimate.

Well, so I came to Black One. Who was just so incredibly deep and dark that if I was listening to it loud enough it could calm my feeling, and even made me feel good.

Honestly, Black One is not a record or even music or sound, it's like a medication. In fact, actually like taking a warm bath and it's even sensual. Yes I mean it.

It's occupying your ears, surrendering your body and let yourself abandon your mind to daydream. And not even dark or painful. Just incredibly good.

I know it's suppose to be the black metal album of Sunn O))) and when you listen to it carefully, if you manage to stay awake to yourself, it's true, it's a black metal album. But it's so intense that it's manage to be quasi-magical.

The best was still to discover it's actually working even when you're not depress anymore.

(I can now write that Black One is my feel-good album of the decade, and how much it's beating Good Vibration and I'm finish with this review)

4) Dopethrone- Electric Wizard (2000)

More metal, yeah!!!!!

And still from the pharmacy wardrobe. Electric Wizard is my hangover band. Not only, but after a busy night drinking, nothing is like Electric Wizard. Or maybe a bit Acid King, but the Wizard is still the best.

Have you ever notice how much better all the stoner bands are the day after alcohol/drugs/whatever rather then during the action?

You can dance slowly, have vision of travel in dark tunnels at light-speed, hear echo of voice all along around you, and still think it's perfectly normal.

With Dopethrone, it's the same that all the post-Hawkwind trad but heavier. Like being crushed by a mountain, reaching a point where all you can notice in this amount of noisiness is the feeling of slow beating drums and some distorted echo of some of the most perfect riffs ever yelling in the bottom of the mix. The music is hiding behind this powerful vibrations offering itself just through its owns remains. You can't identify it: there's somewhere, moving slowly but quickly enough for disappear each time you start notice it behind the heavy curtain of distortion. And quickly you're just moving to shadow rhythm and musical ghost.

What's quantifiable in Dopethrone is just the noise, the rest is uncertain. You could have dream it, it would feel the same.

And for those who think I'm talking about shoegaze, it's no, it's heavier, noisier, louder, Sabbather and definitely better. Like a friend of mine said once about Skullflower: it's like MBV but ten time better.

Well, Electric Wizard it's ten time better than Skullflower. (And it's not like MBV, I agree on that.)

5) They Were Wrong So We Drowned- Liars (2004)

I never really get into the first album by the Liars, whose for me, was a lot of useless noise surrounding Mr Your On Fire Mr, We Live Ne Of Compton and This Dust Makes That Mud. So I didn't expect anything from the second. I read reviews who were talking of failure, comparing it to PiL's Flowers Of Romances, but I heard Broken Witch on a compilation and discover their There's Always Room On The Broom 10" with the design of the Einsturzende Neubauten's Strategy Gegein Architecture I, and it just caught me at once. I used to be a big fan of E.N., so I was feeling like having a special connection with these guys.

I absolutely loved the album: I had the impression to listen to a post-punk Sonic Youth, to a twee Throbbing Gristle and to a electro Einsturzende Neubauten IN THE SAME TIME. It's seemed that we were back in the dangerous edge of music again. From Broken Witch to Flow My Tears The Spider Said, I was just feeling like being in a forest at night eating magic mushroom and running naked while screaming children's song.

Certainly one of the warmer trance I ever feel from a record and it let me in a physical tiredness and a semi-consciousness state each time I listen to it.

6) Hand On Heads Side -Hands On Head (2007)

Certainly the tweest band of my top. And for people who don't think so, you're talking about people who were giving chocolate for their easter gig (DSP!/No Age) and cupcake for their 100th gig (KIT/Mika Miko/No Age).

Ok, for those who missed it, HoH is actually the whole Upset The Rhythm team. And UTR were from their Esquilax/Trencher 10'' to the Numbers' Now You Are This vinyl version, and if you except BARR, the best label in the world. And the best promoter in the world. Even BEFORE Chaos Vs Cosmos. Remember the Mika Miko/No Age/PRE/HoH/Look Look Dancing Boys at Barden's? Remember the stage invasion with the girls of LLDB at the end of Mika Miko? And the Psychic Ills/Coughs? The incredible mosh pit for Cough?

Oh my god, so brilliant.

After that, let's be honest, something went wrong. It actually started at their gigs, when it started to be the next big thing for designers of Shoredich, Vice Division.

Anyway, the HoH side is one of the best thing recorded in UK for... long (but you have to forget about the Sticks part). Imagine a whole panda army associate to XBXRX (without the Ian Svenonius/McKay complex of Vice Cooler -and the prog-noise one of Weasel Walter-) in an homage to Fire Engines. A pure genius nonsense barbedwire pop/perfect melody in a train disaster lead by bIG fLAME on a cute green and red 10''. For 15 min.

And it's sold out. And you missed it.

You just missed your life.

(I know, I saw No Age a lot.)

7) Franz Ferdinand- Franz Ferdinand (2004)

Usually, it's here I say I know THE Michael of the song. But because everybody know him, I have to write something else.

We are a few years after the Strokes hype and every band on the planet started to dig into the rock history in order to bring back some remains to fill their records and justify their contract. Gosh, what I loved these years!

Even if almost all these albums couldn't impress longer than one month, most of it always had one song above everything, the one you could kill for hearing. And the best was to see all those bands sounding totally different, playing with different corpses, offering to dig yourself into their favorite period. And Franz Ferdinand was the best one. And the last one. After them, what? Few bands in the mid-2000 London scene who gave us The Horrors (thanks for that, you could have kept it for yourself, you know), what else before the post-New Weird America? Test Icicles? Woooh-hoo...

I loved everything from Franz Ferdinand in the beginning, from their above-everything attitudes to the crazy reports of their gigs, to their dandies and to their elegant songs. They were (and in some way still are) my popular band I (love to) admit to love.

I have to say, and I'm stupidly a bit ashamed of that, but like lots of people they introduced me to 1) Orange Juice, 2) Josef K, 3) Fire Engines, 4) dancing. They could have done it for Glasgow as well, but that one it's finally thanks to The Pastels and Shop Assistants.

And about their first album... just perfect pop from begining to the end. And they bring indie pop to a new point, they actually allowed indie to go somewhere else, to the bright land of milk and honey and musical awards and big success.

Somewhere, where in fact, everything sucks. Thanks for have made Kaiser Chief and Bloc Party possible, guys. Hope you don't feel too guilty, Pandora.

8) Chemical Chords- Stereolab (2008)

In any top, you need to award an old, classic, big and used-to-be-influencial band. Usually, it's the moment for the rock-critic to remenber the existence of Sonic Youth.

For me, it will not be the middle-of-the-road NYC noise living dead legend but the Back From The 80's indie Dead turn German Free Design and mocked since the late 90's; Stereolab.

Yes, the french accent of Laetitia Saddier, yes the dusty museum of synth of Tim Gane, yes even the fake brazillian Sean Microdisney High Llamas O'Hagan, yes the 70's mid-class comfort drop in the 90's postmodernism, all that smell of dust and of frigidity nowadays, but fuck! Listen to Chemical Chords! It's the first album of Stereolab with just only SONGS!

It took for them almost 16 years to succed, but they did great and it's just perfect melodies everywhere. On every songs.

If Chemical Chords caugh the band in their usual retro-futurist exercice (which this time is deeper -they even go back to the fifties easy listening and beyond with their vintage machines) it also got some of the best string arrangement in an early 20 century mood mix with jazzy winds. And one of the best song ever since Family Fodder's Savoir Faire and Debie Harry and the Melody Dog 's Futuristic Lovers, Valley Hi! And the best reverse tape ever with Pop Molecule. Chemical Chord is almost coming from a haunted broken radio playing a dreamy and evenescent soft psychedelia. Asolutely brillant.

9) Ladybird -Shit and Shine (2007)

Let's say it straight, there is nothing in this record. Just a riff and its variations for 42 min. But what a riff. The best one, ever. Like Sister Ray cover by Mötörhead in a Neu! mood.

42 min of heavyness and loudness danceable as fuck, a warfare weapon for urban everyday life going straight to your head and to your nerves. A fantastic warrior jam making Hawkwind sound like a little bird. A fucking riot-starter space-boogie shot who make you ready for fight, for nights out, making you stand for everything. And making you scream powerful. And transforming you in a horrible barbarian deadless monster. WITH A FUCKING GIANT SWORD. IN A FUCKING HUGE CUSTOMISED CHOPPER. IN SPACE.

Lord Sidious, you're a fucking dead man! GNAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWW!

I also could have done a nice and polite review, comparing them to Steve Reich or to Charlemagne Palestine. WITH A FUCKING HUGE WALL OF AMPS.

Well, no, I couldn't.

10) The Glow Pt.2 -The Microphones (2001)

This last place was hard to decided as I feel I had thousand of bands and records to award. So, it goes to The Glow Pt. 2 but I feel in two weeks I would regret it. I could have put the Pastels/Tenniscoat but 2 months is too short in regard to a 10 years (yep, 9 years) top.

And since The Glow was released in 2001 and not in 1999 like I though at first and it's a true indie classic, I feel like I should put it, anyway.

The thing with it is even if I like it, I will not, weirdly enough, putting into my favorite records. So why I do it right now? Well, the thing is it's a true classic, in every meaning of the word. Even if you don't like The Velvet Underground And Nico, or Abbey Road, you still have to put them in a top 10 of the best albums ever. OK top 20, in the case of Abbey Road.

For a quite review, most of the songs are itself forgetable when the production is incredibly amazingly brillant, just like a lo-fi United State Of America recorded in the bathroom of the Dub Narcotic. And some of the melody sound just like a drawn, like if you had to complete it by yourself. Which is quite cute.

A great record. Really, I mean it, even if I don't like it that much. In fact 3/4 of my expanded top below got better songs, but no-one got this vision of an perfect experimental lo-fi pop production.

(and I already feel like I should have put The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recording instead. Or Broken Voyage.)

Greatest Losers: Neils Children

So good losers that you don't even remenber them.

Remenber 2004, I Hate Models and Trying To Be Someone Else For Free? A lad wearing an Anarchy shirt copy and some make up around his left eye who made it in the NME Cool List before turning Duran-Duranesque Goth? His drummer somewhere between the emo kid and the emo kid? The never-end leaving bassist dance?

Get it?

I used to have a big crush on them (I mean, as a band, have you seen how they were looking like?). After Change/Return/Success I waited and waited for an album who was finally released this year after seeing the band changed after discovering dub, then changed to be goth then changed again to turn neo-Postcard and for finally being entierely rip-off by The Horrors.

After almost hundreds of 7'', they end-up disappering for what, 4 years? for finally lose (again) their bassist when the band tried to come back... Neils Children could have been one of the best band of the last (roughly) 7 years and just became the best english joke ever.

Anyway, don't sell your singles of them now, in 20 years, they would become the cultest band from the 2000's. If they don't lose their fans for their comeback. Come on, John, come on, Brandon, you can do it this time.

Best French Album: Vive La Vie- Klub Des Loosers (2005)

This album is followed by my usual french-only disclamer: anyway if you don't speak a good level of french (and I mean, it's not because you understand locals in Paris when you're asking for the Eiffel Tower that you speak french) you will just hear boring funky jazz samples and a guy with a louzy flow who's not even in rhythm.

Signed on the Air vanity label and ditched just after releasing this record, Klub des Loosers is the most darkest and mysantropist thing you can find in French hip-hop. Roughly it's like "everything sucks, I hate myself, I hate you, I hate everybody, and I will kill myself after killing you". But honestly it's write in some way its actually really funny to get pissed on it and shout the lyrics loud. Like TTC but with more guts and hatred.

From all the others (aka the english peoples), you still can try Sous Le Signe Du V feat. Air.


(Yeah, it's THE "Kelly Watches The Stars" Air)

Best Mainstream Song: SexyBack- Justin Timberlake (2006)

Let's be honest, this one is just here because, during this decade also the "Mainstream is cool, maaaan" trend appeared.

Well, usually, it's the "Well, pop is cool, man, not good to be elistist, maaaan" thing. Fucking hippies., And yes, you have to admit that you listen to MJ and Lady Gaga all day long. And that all the Prurient albums or the Frumpies stuff are just there to impress your friends.

Because it is so nice to be able to appreciate both noise and bad R&B, so nice to beeeee opeeeeeeen and not see the difference between pop (cool, melody, feel-good) and mainstream (shit, bad shit and worst shit).

When undeground is still fucking exciting, I don't want to bother with mainstream. Yes, I think ABBA got some fucking kick-ass good songs. And? So what? Do I have to spend my energy to promote ABBA? Does they really need me to put Gold in the chart each christmas? I don't think so. The problem with that attitude is the naivety to pretend that "it's just music".

No it's not. Because without all the networks of fanzines, scenes, blogs, mainstream can still rely on radio, magazine, TV, Murdoch website and look-like (Facebook, Myspace, ...). But do you think that Upset the Rhythm or Social Registry or PPM could afford to release records? No, not really.

And for those who think that Lady Gaga or Madonna (or Bono, but strangly, nobody wants to take his defend) can actually change things in this world from their place in mainstream, you're just fucking naive and you should actually try to believe in politics. At least, there is some hope to change something. You know, by collective action, by common fight, by organization, by strikes and demonstration, by this kind of stuff. You don't need to rely on the head of the entertainment, you need to rely on yourself and on your peers.

Well, you know what? Here we love soft toys and AK 47, we love cupcakes, sweets and feminism, we love birthday card, tea-party and Karl Marx. So come back to stalinism, fuck that trend, stay underground and invent your own entertainment. And if it happen that mainstream is producing sometimes good pop, I prefer to rather miss it than buy it.

Let's launch our backlash op on mainstream now!

No need to put the video here, you know where you have to go. And not even one word on why I think SexyBack is the best mainstream thing for years. (Actually since Cry Me A River)

Fuck you Justin.

Best Lyrics: Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem (2001)

Ah ah ah, James Murphy, the perfect fat-ass record seller.

The one who will always prefer Shoes to Big Star, the one who will never be able to go to sleep without watching closely his records collection (Germans imports! All the good techno cuts from Detroit from 86 and 87! And you can add to that the Sylvester records and all the Gainsbourg from the 60's.), the one who see all his friends achevied to a cult indie star status and who have to stay close to the stereo to vaguely stamp a pile of rare Beatles records all day long or the one who's talking shit with his colleague while he's burning DVD's on the computer of the shop. Or the one who's always listening to Harry Pussy horribly loud to scare customers. Or the one who still don't know how to make work a till after several years in the same shop. Or the one who's bitching about all his colleagues while he's reading The Guardian he bought on expenses of the shop.

Yeah sorry, I can't help it but I have to mix him up with my own memories of selling records.

Record collectors are always creepy alcoholic pathetic losers. And all their little lifes are just turning around music. And girls, but not that much.

So, when one is actually able to get up from a sticky floor (where he was lying for better watching the one quid cds) and when he's able to say something else than "Yeah, fanx, cherr, fanx, all the best", and go to a studio, he can just talk about his records and how he was the first one in NYC to listen to Daft Punk and how he saw all his friends sell their guitars for turntables and how it was affecting him.

It's maybe not glamorous, but when I heard this song and when I actually understood a bit of the lyrics, yes, I wanted to be one of them. I even droped my philosophy study for that. I always had crushes on losers, anyway.

And, finally, the expanded top:

BTW, I read a few weeks ago a french e-zine complaning "We're all agree, nothing happened those last 10 years, not even a single movement, few goods records, it's terrible..." and in the comment all the readers were fighting to put Radiohead as the Best Band Of The Last 10 Years. I actually went down in my comptuter and in my memory and in not even 20 minutes did this list with records who's worth more than a quick listening and could have actually done it in my 10 best records:

Animal Collective's Here Comes The Indians, The Aislers Set's How I Learned To Write Backward, All Girl Summer Fun Band's All Girl Summer Fun Band, ARE Weapons' ARE Weapons, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti's The Doldrums, Ascend's Ample Fire Within ,The Black Angels' Passover, The Blackfire Revelation's Gold And Guns On The 51, Belle And Sebastian's Fold your Hands, Blood On The Wall's Awesomer, Boris' Heavy Friends and Pink, Broadcast's Tender Buttons and Investigating the Witch Cults Of Radio Age, Bratmobiles' Girls Get Busy and Ladies, Womans & Girls, Butcher Boy's Profit In Your Poetry, Cause Co-Motion's It's Time, Chain & The Gang's Down With Liberty, Up With Chain, Christy And Emily's Queen's Head, Chrome Hoof's Pre-Emptive False Rapture, Circle's Forest, all the Clinic's album, Coughs' Fright Makes Right, Dan Deacon's Spiderman Of The Rings, Death Sentence: Panda's Puppy, Kitty Or Both and Insect Awaken, Deerhunter's Turn It Up, Faggot and Cryptogram, The 80's Matchbox B-Line Disaster's Horse Of The Dog, Electrolane's Axes and Power Out, Esquilax's Esquilax Side, Electric Wizard's Witchcraft Today, ESG's Step Off, Fat Truckers' The First Fat Truckers Album Is For Sale, Gang Gang Dance's God's Money, Gentle Waves' Swangsong For You, Ikara Colt's Modern Apprentice, Indian Jewelry's Invasive Exotics and Sangles Redux 2002-2005, Kaito's Band Red,Jeremy Jay's Slow Dance, Calvin Jonhson's Before The Dream Faded and What Was Me, KIT's Broken Voyage, Kites' Peace Trial and Hallucination Guillotine, Konono N°1's Congotronics, Kraftwerk's Tour De France (at last...), Ladytron's 604 and Light & Magic, Jens Lankman's Oh You're So Silent, Jens, Jeffrey Lewis' It's The One Who've Cracked That The Light Shines Through and 12 Crass Songs, The Libertines' The Libertines, Liars' Drum's Not Dead, Le Tigre's Feminist Sweepstakes, Samara Lubelski's Parallel Suns, John Maus' Songs, Melt Banana's Cell-Scapes, Mouthus' Saw A Halo, Slow Globes and Long Salt, NTX's We Are The Wild Beast, No-Neck Blues Band's Qvaris, No Age's Get Hurt, Mika Miko's CYSLABF, Om's Conference Of The Birds, Omar Souleyman's Highway To Hassake, Partyline's Zombie Terrorist, Pastels/Tenniscoats' Two Sunset, Pink And Brown's Shame Fantasy II, Pharaoh Overlord's #4, Pre's Epic Fits, Primal Scream's Evil Heat, Portishead' Third, Psychic Ills' Dins, Prurient's Black Vase. Raccoo-oo-oon's Is Night Peoples, Sian Alice Group's 59.59, Sleep's Dopesmoker, Spider And The Webs' Spider And The Webs, The Sunburned's Z, Sunn O))) Flight Of The Behemoth and Monolith And Dimension, The Swords' Age Of Winters, T.I.T.S.' Throughout The Age and Second Base, Trans Am's Sex Change, The Tower Recording's The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recording, Trencher's Lips, Tv On The Radio's Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, Viki/Hair Police split CD, The Warlocks' Phoenix, Weird War's If You Can't Beat Em, Bite Them and Illuminated By The Light, Whirlwind Heat's Flamigos Honey, Wives' Erect The Youth Problem, Wolf Eyes' Burned Mind and Human Animals, XBXRX's Sixth In Sixes and Wars, Yellow Swans' Descension, Live During War Crimes 1 and 2 and At All End.

That's quite impressive, isn't it ? And lots are still missing and I didn't included some of them I talked about earlier (like LCD Soundsystem for example). And it's not to say anything about the reissue industry who went totally nuts those last years, from Another Sunny Day to Erkin Koray, and from Bobby Beausoleil to The Feelies (at last!) or the whole ESP-Disk back catalogue.

I don't know why, I feel like this time all established journalists will come and complain in their paper that they miss the old good 90's. Please, if you meet one, just punch him in the face and remind him to do his job. Like listening to his promo copies before selling it at MVE. Thanks.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Exciting stuff

Dear people,

I'm sorry we're so lazy (you should actually see us right now half laying, half asleep at the library, which is like our second home). BUT, even though the lazyness is taking over we're still working on the second issue! Yesterday we made an exciting and amazing 3 hour interview with one of our fav musician. I guess, if you checked Ym's facebook you already know who. Otherwise if I say; Glasgow, cute and "twee", you can probably figure out who it is. Both of us think that the next issue will be totally smashing and wonderful! Hopefully you will see it before next year. And since the new year will be 2010, we will of course be doing some kind of list of music we loved and still love during the 10 past years. 10 years is a long period, so it will be difficult doing it. But we'll give it a try!

Well, guess this kind of post is the most common on this blog. Yes, we're lazy and yes we aware of it. Kisses

Thursday, 5 November 2009

French Punk: Bérurier Noirs

The thing is: Les Bérurier Noirs quickly gained a huge popularity with high-school students, those ones who wears long ugly dresses, have dreadlocks, who believe that anarchy means "smoking joints" and see Jim Morrison as the Greatest R'n'R Icon Of All The Time.

Anyway, Les Bérurier Noirs were much more than that. They gave to the far left wing a clear demonstration of autonomy (setting up concerts, labels, fanzine, giving to all the scene the aim to start) and an immortal chorus for anti-National Front demonstration: "La jeunesse emmerde le Front National" ("Youngster fuck The National Front", which is still much better than "If the kids are united...").

So for an overview, Les Béruriers Noirs were a dark-and-nihilist-Rudimentary Peny-lyrics-on-Cabaret Voltaire-sound, turned after a while into a Crass-meet-Crisis-meet-huge-success band.

The beginning of Les Bérurier Noirs is reaaaaalllllllly good. An absolutely amazing scary band sounding and looking like a homemade small guerrilla-unit band. A beat box called Dédé, some dry and minimalist riff and screaming of incredibly scary and aggressive lyrics: anti-psychiatrics ("I got a hole in my head/ thanks Mum, Dad! /Lobotomy, lobotomy"), sick and sordid tabloid tales, i/u/nsane manifestos haunted by death, nuclear war and fascist regimes.

Started as a duo (voice/guitars/beatbox), they quickly accepted anybody from saxophonists (Masto, ex-Lucrate Milk) to dancers, singers (something like 5 people to do a hooligan choir -including Helno, future Negresses Vertes), and a graphic designer. All that with the purpose to create a small force theatre (Ok, my translation sucks, do yours by yourself: "Petit theatre de force"), kind of street theatre (puppets, mask, dance, clowns and other hippy bullshit -you know, the stuff with iron balls and fire) mixed with class-war/anarchist politics vocabulary (they actually did a flyer calling the thievery of Dédé a “terrorist attack”) and punk rock gigs.

Of course it was something of an innocent quite post-modern carnival, but also revealed some of the ambitions of Bérurier Noir: Creating a cultural anarchist society through squat and punk culture. Something not far from Crass. So from the great ideological aim of autonomy and DIY, BxN start to deal with the myth of the "raïa" (something in between the extended band of mates and the punk community). Another French expression about those generations of punks (up to 1987, even after) is "punk à chien"; kind of pre-Grebo sub culture, made of dogs, bad beer, dodgy squats and lost kids on glue. Something not really glamorous. But honest. Bérurier Noir became the voice of this punk generation, against war, nuclear, far right, psychiatrics and, you know, all the stuff the punks fight against when they're not drunks.

And they started to sing of youth crew and unity. And quickly ONLY about that.

So, unfortunately, the late albums are highly unrecommended (from Souvent Fauché, Toujours Marteau, even if the half of the previous album -Abracadabroum- is... how to say that... bad.) Not only because of the lyrics, but also because of this horrible 80's heavy guitar sound. However some songs still works, like SOS, despite this close-to-stupid chorus (SOS, too many selfish on earth/SOS, War is madness... SOS, No soviet, neither US/SOS, no Islam, neither napalm/International SOS).

Just before completely becoming a French Joan Baez-with-patch-and-badge-and-dogs-and-spikes, and just at their zenith, they decided to commit suicide (read; to split) after some separation gigs. Finishing with a "Long life to free Rock"

The funniest thing is still the fact that they decided to stage a reformation (called "deformation") few years ago. And during their first gig, there started in the streets around an actual riot of punks Vs police.

Btw, on the BxN website, you can listen to all the albums/singles/tapes/compilation/flyer/.../ on streaming.


Wednesday, 4 November 2009

French Punk: Lucrate Milk

Put away children and grandmothers, we're talking about eating poo here.

Ok, I started by saying “Lucrate Milk were/are largely despised in the rock circles of France”. Well actually, it’s not totally true. For something like 15 years, they were more forgotten than actually despised.

One thing is Lucrate Milk are one of the roots of Bérurier Noirs. I will talk about them later. And they are actually quite despised in rock circles (a bit like Crass in the UK).

The other thing is the album and 7” were actually unavailable and impossible to find for quite a long time.

Last thing: Lucrate Milk were quite a multimedia project. And the art side of the band (homemade short and deviant films in support for their music) is in the direct idea of what can be punk art. And that art side is what made them be rediscovered a few years ago.

Let’s take that a little earlier. We have seen, France didn’t have a proper punk band for quite long. But there did exist a real punk art.

I didn’t talk about it before ‘cause me ain’t no art student, matey, but there was a graphics band called Bazooka, doing some pre Gee Voucher’s Gee Voucher collage style. Don’t know that much about it, but they succeeded in being invited by the newspaper Libération (then closer to Class War that to the New Labour) to illustrate some articles. It ended up with “shocking” nihilistic humour drawings about paedophilia and concentration camp.

Ok, kind of what you expect from punk artists on acid.

I found Bazooka’s art nowadays quite… let’s say, old fashioned. You have to know well the politic climate of France during the 70’s to get all their stuff. Otherwise it’s look a bit “Look mum, shocking!!!!”

Anyway, those guys finished by gaining a cult following in the autonomy and graphics/design circles (you know the same kind of guy who, in London, works in Shoreditch in those fancy art design workshops, reading Vice and doing skate. You know what I’m talking about –hipster is the word, isn’t it? -)

BTW those guys from Bazooka are still doing some stuff on internet (Disclaimer: a really good level of French is necessary to understand everything)

Back to Lucrate, now.

So Lucrate Milk was a bit like Bazooka, doing design/art/graphics stuff. And punk music.

The Parisian punk scene of that time was totally transformed when you compare it to my first part.

First, some squats were now open and arty punk friendly, lots of peoples start to get into (UK) punk, often from the automony circles/situationist legacy. So there was a long tradition of disturbing/alternative happening/art/concept etc etc.

Punk bands now have some places to play, to discover other stuff, exchange ideas and members, finally creating a whole DIY network. And let’s be honest, Lucrate Milk were their best representant.

Started half as a joke (the musicians chose their instrument by taking the one they hated the most), without a guitar and with a German singer, taking inspiration from Teenage Jesus and The Jerks, opening for Einsturzende Neubauten and Sonic Youth, doing absurd arty b-movies with sex, violence and guts and making their live shows look like weird happenings, Lucrate Milk ended up half DIY arty show for freaks, half end-of-year spectacle for punks on glue.

I imagine you start to be suspicious about the music: if the story sounds amazing and the references are great, the music will be a horribly boring muzak.

BUT, for once, the music is as good as the story. Definitely one of the best post-punk band ever: Gang Of Four/Delta 5/Leeds style basslines with Malaria! singing meets Resident's keyboard and some kind of pre Death Sentence: Panda! feverish sax melodies. It’s absurd, short, violent, brilliant and funny, like your mate puking on himself.

After 3 years of that, two 7” and one album, they finished to disband and enter into legend.

Not yet, but some of them will end up in Bérurier Noirs, creating a little cult following which led to some reissues. The last of them, on Folklore de la Zone Mondiale, the post-Beru label (the very French Southern in that sense), is an integral with some bullshit remix (the remix CD is one of the most useless stuff I ever heard) and a DVD with lots of stupid stuff on it, like Bazooka could have done if those lazy fuckers have bought a camera instead of playing baby foot and smoking weed. And much of that DVD did a lot for the “rediscovery” of Lucrate Milk (right, so nobody know them, but it was worse before!). Bit of a shame, really, the music is still much better than some stoned jokes on videos. (Which is still funny to watch, though)

( it's a shame, I can't find the one with the famous poo-eating scene)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

French Punk: Novö

From 1978-1979, French punk started to transform thank to a heavy use of electronics, under the influence of Suicide, Kraftwerk, The Idiot and the disco (Alain Pacadis and Yves Adrien, from the first punk rock-critics, starts the same move a bit earlier, mostly because of Donna Summer, of Le Palace -the Parisian Studio 54- and the Warholian ideal of plastics). And a bit because of TG. Yes, Throbbing Gristle.

Actually all those bands (Mathematique Moderne, Ruth, Modern Guy, The Hypothetical Prophets, ...) created a real proper French version of electro-pop: Minimalist like The Normal/Silicon Teens or Fad Gadget, but lot more poppy, with often a feelingless, passionless voice singing about consummable items, dressed in strict grey costumes with clean haircuts. It seemed to come from a 70's dystopian sci-fi movie where only a robotic entertainement is exists, cynicly celebrating a consuming society. Although a heavy use of absurd and irony, they were deadly serious about themselves.

Oh, just think about the Talking Heads.

And for the music...If on paper, this scene (Les Jeunes Gens Modernes or Novö) seems exciting, on records, it's much more closer to Wendy Carlos with a Casio toy-synth without any classical training than a disco Throbbing Gristle. Honestly, it's just sounds like Soft Cell without a Nothern Soul influence or some Jacno groupies (who was anyway the Godfather of this scene).

If I quite like the whole idea of a generic and personality-free electro-elevator pop music, I think that post-modernity's got some limits, and that part of the Növo wave reached one of them : it’s actually really boring to listen to.

A few of them were actually beyond that: Taxi Girls, Artefact, and Kas Product. Apart from Kas Product, the two others seem to be a pure product of the 70's autonomious politics: influence of Debord, irony, use of symbolic images, of Burroughs, Ballard, Dick, (but also all the debate about western/pan European identity...and were actually a band, not two guys with a synth)

If Taxi Girls are certainly the best known outside France, they always seems to me largely over-rated. I always saw them like Bowie, fronting Kraftwerk. But the cold self-conscious clever opportunist part of Bowie with a lobotomized robotic band.

Honestly, it's quite bad of me to reduce them to those clichés: even if they sound like a FM-friendly comatose Doors without any energy, they still were from the few who took the rock action for truth. From vein-cutting on stage to heroin addiction and death-by-OD, it's pathetic, we agree, but still impressive.

If in France they're seen (and exported as) the French Joy Division, they were definitely the French working-class (and unstable) Talking Heads. Anyway I don't like any of them.

(After, the guy on guitar will produce Madonna. It’s true, it’s Mirwais)

And now the famous...

More cult and totally unknown, Artefact. Ok I don't like them either, but at least I highly respect them. To be quick, they're the band of the far-right junkie cyber-Christian writer Maurice Dantec (AKA The Worst Son Of Phillip K.Dick) before he turned far-right, Christian and writer, when he was just a teenage pot smoker and science fiction reader .

Artefact deserved much better. Imagine a electronic Pop Group doing Afro-beat or Suicide with a cold sense of krautfunk groove...

Ok I can't describe them: they were higly idiosyntratic, mixing influences, references and obession with a high sense of absurd, finishing by created something looking like a musical post-modern catalogue. From Situationist irony to consumer music, they were mixing disco with electronics avant-garde like nobody before them or after them, and especially NOT in the nineties.

All their stuff (one 12", one album, some demo) is now avalaible to download, which you should do right now.

Maybe because they were from Nancy (east of France) and far away from the center of the hype (Paris), Kas Product sound bit different from the other Novö bands, more complex and more straight forward. Darker, but better. When the rest were passionless and cold, Kas Product managed to bring back some energy and some passion in a retro-electronic music.

The sound is rich, quite distorted with some keyboard riff- more D.A.F than D.A.F. (and unfortunatly some fifties film noir pseudo-jazzy inspiration, which is not always a good idea). The voice took too much of Siouxsie, the same urgent high-pitched theatrical singing, the kind of ‘little girl scared by the Monster-Under-The-Bed’ feeling.

At the end of the day, the albums are actually suprisingly really good, mixing the voice of Siouxsie, the riffs of DAF, the ambiance of Wire’s 154 , the reverb of Suicide and a fest of French accents, with a close-to-the-rupture beatbox.

(OK, it’s actually terribly gothic records).

When the Novö scene were too busy looking at themselves like elegant heartless plastic dandies, Kas Product were quite busy inventing a cold, danceable and aggresive batcave sound that no-one ever really ripped off.

Quite fortunately, because, despite the fact that they’re really good, half of their songs are about to fall into caricature.


Monday, 2 November 2009

French Punk: Stinky Toys, Elli & Jacno, Marie & Les Garçons, Electric Callas

Stinky Toys/Elli & Jacno

The other big piece of pride in French punk is Stinky Toys. Invited to play at the 100 Club, for the punk festival of McLaren, they gained a small cult following. I have to admit I never get into Stinky Toys: The music is fine (even if way too much mod revival), they're cute, but hell, no I can't. Apparently the reason for this cult following is their second album (known as the yellow one), that even our glorious corrector, redactor and man of taste (we're waiting for your article, Michael) admires.

The thing I can tell you about them is: they've got a terrible French accent, the music is alright, they sound like The Who of My Generation, Elli, the singer, is born in Montecasino and looks a bit like Francoise Hardy or France Gall (That should attract all the pervs of the indie community. Come on, you just love Yé-yé because they're cute).

(the language used on that track is still unidentified)

The driving force of the Stinky Toys was Jacno, guitarist who left them in the middle of 1978 to buy an EMS and start electronic music. The result is an album call Jacno and it's cute and kitsch. But really cute.

And after Elli came to him and started to sing with him on some other cute but kitsch but cute records. (OK, I really don't have a damn thing to say about them).

Oh yeah, in 1980, Eli & Jacno wrote a cute but kitsch song for a young girl called Lio, who after became really famous in France and in Japan. (Pervs, it's for you, check as well "Banana Split")

Well... well... well.

Ok, I really like Jacno, he is the perfect French dandy: elegant, funny, great looking, but... that's all, basically.

OK, next.

Marie & Les Garçons

Honestly, in the same kind of "upper-class student with a 60's obsession" I have to say I highly prefer the underrated Marie Et Les Garçons.

Born and raised in Lyon, they were a typical school band except that Marie was the drummer, not the singer and their influences were Nico, The Velvet Underground and The Modern Lovers. And they weren't able to play their instruments.

Actually they could have been called "The French Answer To Jonathan": they give the same feeling of cute love of life and have a great amateur teenage sound. Their songs all observe a great mod emergency circa 66, mixed with some lazy feedback psychedelia VU-type thing. The guitars are melodically abrupt, the solo's have 3 notes, the tempo is quick and the voices are out of tune. And the songs are all around 2 minutes long. And the lyrics have got a naïve feeling of fake lust, close to an early Pastels or a teenage Orange Juice.

Honestly, Marie & Les Garçons get nothing to be punk (a great Gang of Four/Postcard look as well), but everything to be one of the Cherry Red/RT'81girl bands (think Dolly Mixture with a guy singing in French). They would have been perfect to dance along to in your room, face to the mirror, all dressed in polka dots. They were purely genuine love.

(Ok, for the history, they did a 6-songs 12" with John Cale on Ze Records) Cherry Red or KRS or Rhino have to reissue that quickly.

And that's the myspace link.

Electric Callas

Also from Lyon and sharing some members with Marie Et Les Garçons, Electric Callas is the real great loser of the first wave.

Totally underrated and impossible to find, but you MUST check them out, Electric Callas is certainly the first French “punk” band to take a little further the rock’n’roll revival that French punk was at first. What will be called Novö after.

Taking a LOT from Young Americans period Bowie, mixing the feeling of the German trilogy, and adding a good dose of punk pioneers (Stooges and VU for short) with touching elegance, Electric Callas had a incredible sense of measure and balance between the whole dandy supercial stuff (great attitude, shitty music) and the rock’n’roll show (shitty attitude and great music). And they were for sure the first and last post punk-post glam band ever (no, you can’t say Pink Grease). One of the only bands for whom “plastic” would not be a insult but a quality.

Cold, but still incredibly danceable, they did just two 12”in 79 and 80 before disappearing. And those 12” are absolutely impossible to find. Few stuff remains of them (even on Youtube, the only thing is underlit footage with a deficient sound –see below-): one of the best covers of I Wanna Be your Dog on Le Rock d’Ici A L’Olympia, a live compilation (the rest is shit and the compilation became quite cult apparently, it's not really worth spending £30 just for one track), some other tracks on some other obscure compilations (Kill Me Two Time, Sex, 77) and those incredible 12”, W.S.B and Winner. Apparently few years ago, Seventeen (a French punk label) was supposed to release an anthology, but I never saw it.

(Shit, I can' find the youtube video anymore)

After, the leader, Jangil, went solo and is still doing music. Well, despite all the respect and love I have for Electric Callas, I have to say that I’m really not fond of it. Mostly down-tempo sleazy electro (think French Touch). They are certainly some amateurs, but… well. At least on the myspace (one of the best 90’s gif art myspace ever), you can listen to W.S.B and So Chic (from the Winner 12”) –a new version and even if the original is far better, that one is quite cool-