Sunday, 23 September 2007

Paris ...

Paris has a culture to admire; a home of fashion, architecture, food and history. In a recent visit to the city I found myself falling in sync with the easy-life persona it exudes; the notoriety Parisians have gained regarding their relaxed style is something I really adore. European cities are soon finding their musical niche, Berlin being the innovators of all things quirky but its Paris that is leading the way forward, providing us with some sultry delights.Style is an essence that comes so easily to Parisians and something I will be eternally envious of. This inherent ability to be elegant has produced some of the finest work both culturally and practically. However, when it comes to European music, it seems there is an endless gap in the market. For the main part, Paris is known only for a brief Eurovision fame and a glorified covers band, both of which can tarnish a country with the "naff and tacky" music label. Longevity has never been important to the French as a nation, with their timeless artists being locked in the realm of operatic and classically trained musicians. So have the independent been left behind? Do the teenagers have to survive on Edith Piaf? Everywhere there is the sense that our musical counterparts are loosing their identity. Being polished for mainstream ears, so little is left plainly visible for the people who seek obscurity in it finer form. Often it seems we have to travel overseas for that…this enthusiasm to rejuvenate such a traditional musical genre is something that will appeal locally and nationally, and it’s a matter of time before the trilby wearing, winkle picker army of Britain are seduced and lured in by these dreamy eyed starlets laced with dodgy accents and a twinkle in their charming eye.

However its not just the fast pace jangly rock kids that are sweeping the country, it appears the traditional sound of folk has been rejuvenated to appear a more accessible genre than previously thought. This is the Kit are a band primarily originating from Bristol however a swift move to Paris and their sound is transformed. Solely dependant on atmospheric vocals and the odd strum of a acoustic guitar, this reliance on natural sounds causes the band to delve into the world of a genre that should be explore more commonly. “I left her standing there” is a song that can only be described as simplistically genius, with beautifully formed scat harmonies reminiscent of 40’s style ballroom rendez.Pristine yet risqué pop trio The Teenagers marry lyrically obsessive content about America’s most notorious women, with cheeky yet sparkling electro that induces an instant sing-a-long. It may not be anything significant or politically sophisticated but it’s the arrogant simplicity of their attitude that appeals, something to make you laugh and dance with an alternative tinge that seals the bands authenticity. Is fashion and dashing good looks something that is entirely necessary? No. But it’s certainly an added bonus when you take the time to have a gander at teen tykes Les Shades.

Their version of The Strokes classic “Hard to Explain” is vocally slightly bemusing but such a daring move has paid off by both proving their excellent taste in music and showcasing the potential dexterity that lies within such a youthful band. Their striking appearance and loyalty of their home land is a commendable asset. Even though their lyrical content is often French, their appealing popularity is not tainted; it only proves what a seductively attractive and romantic language it is.The girls of Paris are sublimely represented by art rock genii, Plasticines, mastering the fine art of edgy harmonies and the effective use of the old fashioned rock riff to catapult them. This traditional format has been rejuvenated and updated and it seems inevitable that this impressive (and sometimes heavily Americanized) sound will enrapture the hearts of thousand. There are heavy parallels to be had with The Long Blondes; phonetic vocals that crescendo in a fine piece of strength and control is highly reminiscent of the steady and cultural sounds of the stylish Sheffieldonians!

The Parisians have a distinct lack of influence therefore looking to such iconic bands as The Libertines has enabled them to focus on the importance of essential music, and they’re hard work has paid off. The bands have been careful however not to become a carbon copy of already acknowledged British acts, this factor paying dividends when listening to their work. French bands have the drive and determination required to claim “icon” status and is clearly and achievement they wish to accomplish, a goal that only British bands seem to strive for. Parisian talent reaches its peak with de Beauvior influenced Second Sex, a band that with only a splutter of live shows to their name have quickly impressed the MySpace generation with their rough English translations and bizarre variety. “Lick My Boots” is a rustic, raw and captivating glimpse into their potential. Their energy and enthusiasm is shockingly visible, not phased by the pressure that can come with musical talent. Loud vocals and the use of hard guitars smashes the boundaries between thrash and indie; a combination that seems to suit Second Sex. These French bands are both originally iconic and innovative, adding the sophistication so desperately needed in Britain. Our complacent love for mediocre bands is tiresome, and more often than not we settle for the overplayed pub bands that did not even deserve a chance in the first place.This raw passion and love is what the British scene lacks, a disappointing fact but none the less one that needs to be addressed. Maybe a shift in loyalty is needed in order to let French bands such as this make more of an impact in Britain. My suggestion? Ditch the classical stereotypes, throw away the onions and stick on your beret as you get prepared for an all new French invasion.
Hannah xxx
X Berg- This is Pop
Sunset Beach- The Teenagers

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