End of the Road festival 2018 – Day One – Thursday 30th August 2018

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That time of the year again… and what a magical and great moment that was. Back for the 4th year in the beautiful scenery of the Larmer Tree Park in Dorset, surrounded by excellent musicians, great audience of people actually here to listen to and enjoy music, birds (peacocks, macaws) but more than anything a friendly and peaceful atmosphere which makes this festival the best of them all (sold out again this year  – 16,000 tickets).

On top of it, the weather was also very enjoyable this year, meaning my traditional rain cape stayed in the bag whereas I was happy listening to awesome bands dressed in a tee-shirt and Converse shoes!

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As initiated in 2016, the festival started on Thursday evening. This was a good warm-up for your beloved reviewer as I started my 30-gig marathon with three excellent concerts that night.

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My first concert of the festival took place under the friendly Tipi Tent stage with a discovery. Laura Misch is a young South-East Londoner female musician who plays on her own…and with her saxophone and machines on stage. It meant sometimes a few software errors but mainly a mixture of beautiful sounds. She is very talented and her music sounds like a very personal R’n’B with an indie rock mindset. Not sure if it makes sense but I personally enjoyed it a lot.
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I then went to the main stage of the festival (the Woods Stage) to catch two very different bands. The first one is called Shopping and can be defined as a queer trio playing post punk music influenced by great names such as ESG or Gang Of Four. I had found their latest Edwyn Collins-produced album “The Official Body” ok but live this London band brings something else. Their drummer has a good sense of humor as well and I was proud to understand both Fanta-sy and Sex Cymbal jokes!

The headliner of the day were my beloved Yo La Tengo. This was my seventh YLT gig and there were as good as earlier in the year when I caught them in London. This American trio could be considered veterans of the indie rock scene but really they get better with age. They are now in a place where they can basically decide which kind of setlist they want to play and which type of concert one could attend. That night was quite focused on their latest quiet sounding “There is a riot going on‘” LP but they also played a few classics, alternating cool Velvet Underground influenced songs, repetitive loops but also ferocious punk rock numbers. Fantastic…as usual.

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Stay posted for Day Two!

March 2018 Album of the month: Buffalo Tom “Quiet and Peace”

Can one have a job and still write such a monthly review? Easy peasy mate, especially in such another good month in terms of quality and quantity. Those who peruse this blog on a regular basis will find familiar names this time…

Album of the month: Buffalo Tom“Quiet and Peace” – Pop Rock – Buffalo Tom was one of the best bands of the 90’s and their style was a kind of Bruce Springsteen meets Nirvana sound. They reformed a few years ago and one of the best gig I attended last year was when they played their classic “Let Me Come Over” album in their entirety. Their recent LP’s were fine but not as good as their peak period so this new album was a real surprise…and such a treat I must say. Their sound is as sharp as that of a young band and melodies are beautiful. Welcome back again guys!

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  • Runner-up: Tracey Thorn“Record” – Pop Electro – One of my favourite female voices ever, Tracey Thorn was the lead singer of Everything But The Girl. She has been releasing records in the last fifteen years on a not-so-regular basis and for this new effort, she has particularly polished her sound. Her voice has changed as well but the emotion is still here. I attended recently a Rough Trade event when she was interviewed by the great John Grant (with whom I had a nice 10-minute chat) and the least one can say is that her music gives more emotion than her slightly cold and controlled personality…

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  • Also recommended:
    • Jack White “Boarding House Reach” – Pop Rock…but also R’n’B! – Jack White takes risks and does not play only blues and rock-shock! A few misshapes but a few amazing tracks as well.
    • Yo La Tengo – “There’s a Riot Going on” – Pop Rock- Moody and Krautrock sounding LP from one of the best American bands of all times.
    • The Men “Drift” – Rock – Every song is different… Is it the best band’s name in rock?
    • Anna von Hausswolff “Dead Magic” – Church organ Metal – A truly amazing and different record from this Swedish female musician and singer.
    • The Breeders “All Nerve” – Pop Rock – The return of the classic line-up from Kim Deal’s main project, now that she is out of Pixies…
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – MGMT – “Little Dark Age

 

Anything wrong with acoustic shows ? Grant-Lee Phillips, Islington Assembly Hall and Yo La Tengo, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, October 2015

Two acoustic shows in a row…without knowing it in advance so no introduction chit chat and let’s go for the review !

  • Grant-Lee Phillips, Islington Assembly Hall, London, 15th October 2015
Grant-Lee Phillips, London, October 2015, cloudy

Remember Grant Lee Buffalo ? They were a American band from the 90’s which published excellent records in a style that could be described between the “Big Music” and folk. Being French, I remember for instance that their song “Fuzzy” had been an unexpected success. If my memory serves me well, they did big tours too either as opening act or as the main one. But that was a long time ago…and now their former leader Grant-Lee Philipps has a more modest career for which he is probably as happy as he was in the days of his previous band. He records regularly very nice records which, although not revolutionary, bring his great touch of tradition and mysticism. His 2006 covers LP “nineteeneighties” was particularly great and part of our best of that year.

Seeing him in the context of the Islington Assembly Hall was a bit weird, first as I was not expecting him to be on his own on stage with only the same acoustic guitar for the whole set but also because the concert hall had a real David Lynch atmosphere feel. This feeling was coming either with the piece of furniture available (the chairs!) but as well with a part of the audience whose crazy dances were reminding of the best parts of Twin Peaks… Apart from this strange context, that was a very strong and moving show that started slowly but surely with nice recent songs before putting the time machine in place for Grant-Lee to play the jewels written with his former band. This was the last date of this tour but the guy plays regularly so catch him if he were to play close to where you live.

Setlist here

  • Yo La Tengo, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 20th October 2015

Yo La Tengo, Shepherd's Bush Empire, October 2015, theatre sign

Different fame context with Yo La Tengo as although we are talking about a band that has been playing for a long time now (first record in 1986), they have been staying in the spotlight ever since in the indie rock world. Here is a band I have seen many times as their mix of slow beautiful songs and powerful Velvetian ones has always been a delight. The last show I attended a couple of years ago as part of the Pitchfork Festival was particularly amazing for instance.

 

Yo La Tengo, Shepherd's Bush Empire, October 2015, band

They just published a new covers acoustic record called “Stuff Like That There” so I was quite excited to hear them play these songs live for the first time. The only surprise is that they were indeed in such an acoustic set-up on a stage surrounded by nice paintings…and calm. Do not get me wrong, the set was beautiful and there were very interesting renditions of cover songs such as for instance “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure but to me what makes this band really great is the opposition they have between two styles. I was quite happy to get standup tickets as I am pretty sure being seated would have meant being lost with closed yes in a dreamy feeling…and struggling not to sleep! Looking forward then to seeing Yo La Tengo in a electric context

One of the most exciting moment of the show was when Gruff Rhys who was the opening act, singer of the Super Furry Animals, came on stage with the band to cover in a Yo La Tengo style one of his band’s best songs. The fan in me is always super excited to see such events happening in a concert and that was awesome.

Setlist here

Best of 2013 : Top 20 !

2013 was one of these years… Every year is great when you are a real music fan as there are reasures to discover in pop, soul, rock, metal, hip hop,…any style. But 2013 was special and I had to put apart excellent records that would have been here other years (hello My Bloody Valentine, Iron & Wine, Franz Ferdinand and many others…). Difficult as well for newcomers to join the crew so good were the more famous artists who had been there forever and/or made unexpected comebacks.

Albums

 

Album of the Year – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Push the Sky away”

 Nick Cave has made so many great albums that a new one is sometimes seen as “another excellent Nick Cave album”. That was my reaction at first and although I liked it a lot, it became slowly but surely my number one throughout the second part of the year. Amazing songs, great lyrics, less guitar, more melodies, Warren Ellis more and more present as lieutenant…and that’s it. We have with Nick Cave an amazing musician and singer, who keeps a very humble attitude and tends to simplify his art with age (as many great painters did in the past) so discover him if not done yet and cherish his music.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Paris Zenith 2013, holding hands

From Paris, November 2013 concert

The rest of my top 20 (by alphabetical order)

  Arcade Fire“Reflektor” Arcade Fire have been back in 2013 and the least one can say was that indeed difficult to miss them being back. Lots of hype around the name (they took the fake “The Reflektors” tag to play here and there), around their new sound (more rhythm thanks to LCD Soundsystem James Murphy), around their mystery guests (hello again David Bowie)… but at the end of the day how were the songs and the LP? Well,…good enough to be in this Top 20 but probably not as good as their previous LP’s “Funeral” and “The Suburbs”. They remain though one of the most interesting bands of our times, the way they are looking for new ways to do music is refreshing (despite the quite irritating marketing plan around it) and with the song “Reflektor” they had an amazing hit.

 Arctic Monkeys – “AM” The little boys from Sheffield are now mid-20’s adults living in California and AM is already their fifth (!) LP. I hesitated a bit before putting this album as well but not anymore after a few recent listening as such powerful and melodic their music still is. For those who love at the same time Brit-pop and stone-rock (me!), this album is a must (and quite well ranked everywhere in the UK).

 David Bowie“The Next day” What can I say except that 2013 was a weird year with the totally unexpected come-back from such a great artist to the music biz but as well amongst the world of the living whereas my indestructible other idol Lou Reed left us in October… The 8th of  January in particular had been an important day with David Bowie showing to the world a new single the day of his 66th birthday and the fact that a new LP was to arrive in March. The Next Day is a superb album, as good as the last ones he had done in the early 00’s and with the usual great partners, such as for instance Toni Visconti at the production wheel or Gail Ann Dorsey on bass. Amazing 10-minute remix of “Love is lost” from James Murphy (again!) available on the limited edition of the album mixing typical LCD Soundsystem and a few musical phrases from “Ashes to Ashes”.

Image result for bill callahan dream river Bill Callahan“Dream River” A new LP by Bill Callahan might be the equivalent of new Woody Allen or Coen Bros movies : very regular in production, you go there more by habit than will, it sounds or looks familiar at first sight or listening but then you realise that these guys are real masters in what they do and that their art is always on top of the rest. No revolution here in Bill Callahan’s music but very humble and funny lyrics with beautiful melodies and a very crafted way to make it sound modern. If you do not know yet this artist, “Dream River” is the album to start with.

Image result for wise up ghost Elvis Costello and the Roots“Wise Up Ghost” I tend to be suspicious and to freeze my enthusiasm when two of my favourite artists from different horizons join forces to make music together as this is often deceptive. Fortunately the association of Elvis Costello with what might be the best hip-hop band of the last fifteen years has given beautiful results. The strength of this album is that both these artists collaborate on a kind of “intermediary” music (say neither rock, nor hip-hop) giving what could be the Tamla Motown sound of today. The most unforecasted collaboration of the year for a very recommended album.

MCII Mikal Cronin“MCII” One of the rare newcomers in this Top 20 list, Mikal Cronin is a young American part of the Ty Segall garage-rock frame. However, his music is more balanced than the rest of his fellow friends with a mix of folk sensitivity and indeed sometimes heavier garage-rock sounds. Melodies are superb throughout this album, which explains its presence in our Top 20.

 Daft Punk“Random Access Memories” Like Arcade Fire, Daft Punk‘s return has been precisely prepared and implemented and one could feel concerned about what was really at stakes. But who cares when the music is so good… and so different vs. what the band had done before. To make it short, let’s stay that Daft Punk went with this record from the numeric to the analogic age with subtlety, envy and creativity. You have been dancing and listening to “Get Lucky” for almost a year now so I will not dare tell you that this single is indispensable and probably the best hit song since Gnarls Barkley “Crazy”. What makes this LP so amazing as well is the way the band and their guests managed to get the best from each others. The real master of this album by far is the fantastic drummer Omar Hakim ; he is the one keeping this heartbeat rhythm throughout the album and making it the work of robots starting being human. (almost) #1 record of the year…

 Darkside“Psychic” Darkside is a project held by the American-Chilean dance music producer Nicolas Jaar with the (great) help of guitarist Dave Harrington. Together, they do produce fantastic electro music, succeeding to make it sound at the same time very fresh and very 70’s. This is probably not by chance that their project’s name is a part of Pink Floyd most famous album. I personally had an amazing experience when I saw them live at the Paris Pitchfork festival so euphoric and dreamy their music is.

 Junip“Junip” Junip is a Swedish trio lead by semi-famous pop/folk singer José Gonzalez and this album is their second LP after “Fields” in 2010. They clearly played tougher with this album, not in the sense that they suddenly starting making death-metal guitar riffs but more in the fact that they mixed their usual beautiful folk songs with new repetitive rhythms not far from those made famous by 70’s German bands (CAN, NEU!, etc…). A real grower too as each new listening make this album better and better.

 Mark Kozelek and Jimmy Lavalle“Perils from the Sea” One of the four (!) LP’s offered this year by the great Mark Kozelek and all surprisingly fresh and different (one is live “at Phoenix Public House Melbourne“, one is a covers LP “Like Rats” and the other one is a collaboration with US band Desertshore). This one is for me the best of the four probably because Mark Kozelek had not been involved in such fresh sounds for years. Jimmy Lavalle is more famous as leader of electro-pop band The Album Leaf and one can feel all what he brought to this collaboration. Red House Painters fans will find Mark Kozelek’s voice as beautiful as ever but probably in more dynamic and smiling environment (do not get wrong, I am the #1 fan of his usual depressive songs…).

 Laura Marling“Once I was an Eagle” Laura Marling is a young 23-year old British singer and this album is already her 4th album (!). I guess I never talked about her before in this blog whereas her music has been a constant pleasure for years now. She put herself in danger here by letting her UK band behind her to record this album in Los Angeles with new musicians. But I would tend to say that the real star of the show is her in all her records so impressive is her maturity and voice for such a young lady. The first four tracks of this record are a kind of post-break up suite when one can really feel the 3 am mood of serene hope after difficult times. If these comments remain unclear, think Laura Marling as the Joni Mitchell of our times, no less.

 The National“Trouble will find me” The National are really getting better and better with each release. This might seem too affirmative a sentence in relation to their last LP’s that have been regularly in our best of’s of former years but this album is a good as all previous ones regarding chords and arrangements but probably stronger in terms of melodies and emotion (“happy/sad”). If you are familiar and attracted to their music, you really should catch them on stage. I saw them live twice in 2013 and this has been every time an amazing moment.

 Nine Inch Nails“Hesitation Marks” Another excellent come-back as the band was on infinite hiatus since 2009 but it looks like the different very good projects Trent Renznor was having on a parallel side were not rewarding him enough compared to the thrill of being back on record and on stage with his main band Nine Inch Nails. Very long and deep album which will request many listening to get over all its treasures. Same as for The National with Nine Inch Nails ; if you like them, seeing them live is a must.

 Prefab Sprout “Crimson/Red” Talking about comeback, this one was probably the most surprising of them all. Of course, there had been a few albums since Prefab Sprout’s great years (basically the 80’s) but more often these good records were recordings from the past. This is not the case with this new album which has been made alone by Paddy McAlloon. After many serious health issues, he is looking now like an old wise man with long white hair and beard but his songs (and voice) are that of a young man in his late 20’s in love. Probably the most moving album of the year.

 Queens Of The Stone Age“…like Clockwork” Amazingly enough, it had been six years since the previous QOTSA album and one did not feel such a long time due to their leader Josh Homme’s presence in many projects. However, he had disappeared for a few months in 2012 as he faced a surgery that did not go well and had a near-death experience. After double-thoughts about his career and the meaning of life, the big man came back to what he is famous for : music that rocks like hell ! Well, sort of as this album is probably the most melodic and quiet one and should bring new fans to one of the greatest bands of our times.

 Trentemøller“Lost” Our favourite Danish dance artist/producer has been back recently with this very good album which did not make a lot of noise amongst the specialists. This is a shame as one can find the post-punk mixed with electro kind of music for which he is so good at (say This Mortal Cole with a Daft Punk Vibe…). Many great guests as well on this LP, including Mimi Parker from Low.

 Kurt Vile“Wakin on a Pretty Daze” This blog’s author is quite a fan of Kurt Vile and I have seen him live twice this year. What makes this young man so good and above the rest of all the fine American rock writers? Probably the way he has of not playing 100% of the biz game and being naive at the same time. Musically speaking, those who like their songs long and repetitive as in the best Neil Young LP’s will get love at first sight with Kurt Vile.

 Kanye West“Yeezus” You all know Kanye West, one of the richest musicians ever, with an ego the size of a continent, his celebrity-life, his ridiculous videos, the way he talks to the media basically about …anything. But this is not the Kanye West I like ; the one I know is one the greatest artists of all times, making fantastic albums in a row, always changing style, inventive and creator of superb melodies. This LP was tougher after the first listening (almost sounding like the NY 70’s band Suicide for those familiar) but deserved attention as this was as good as his best work. Funny as well to hear Daft Punk on many tracks playing dark and scary electro whereas they chose soul sounds for their own LP.

 Yo La Tengo“Fade” Another great LP from Yo La Tengo with as usual the same beautiful split of cool ballads and furious saturated rock songs. Having seen them live this year was as great as before and having the honour to get a 5-minute chat with them at the Paris Pitchfork Festival made my year. In this sad 2013 year where our rock master disappeared, there is no better band as Yo La Tengo to bear the Velvet Underground sounds.

Other top 5’s :

  • New Musical Express (UK weekly mag.): 1. Arctic Monkeys “AM” 2. Kanye West “Yeezus” 3. Queens Of The Stone Age ”…Like Clockwork” 4. Foals “Holy Fire” 5. Savages “Silence Yourself”
  • Uncut (UK monthly mag.): 1. My Bloody Valentine “mbv” 2. David Bowie “The Next Day” 3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Push The Sky Away” 4. John Grant “Pale Green Ghosts” 5. Laura Marling “Once I Was An Eagle”
  • Mojo (UK monthly mag.): 1. Bill Callahan “Dream River” 2. Daft Punk “Random Access Memories” 3. David Bowie “The Next Day” 4. Arctic Monkeys “AM” 5. John Grant “Pale Green Ghosts”
  • Paste (US web mag.): 1. Phosphorescent “Muchacho” 2. Mikal Cronin “MCII” 3. Foxygen “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic” 4. Janelle Monae “The Eletric Lady ” 5. Deerhunter “Monomania”
  • Pitchfork  (US website): 1. Vampire Weekend  “Modern Vampires Of The City” 2. Kanye West “Yeezus” 3. Disclosure “Settle ” 4. My Bloody Valentine “mbv” 5. Danny Brown “Old”
  • Les Inrockuptibles (French weekly mag.): 1. Arcade Fire “Reflektor” 2. La Femme “Psycho Tropical Berlin” 3. Daft Punk “Random Access Memories” 4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Push The Sky Away” 5. Jagwar Ma “Howlin”
  • Magic rpm (French monthly mag.): 1. Aline “Regarde Le Ciel” 2. Phoenix “Bankrupt!” 3. Minks “Tides End” 4. La Femme “Psycho Tropical Berlin” 5. Arcade Fire “Reflektor”
  • New Noise (French bimester mag.): 1. Jessica 93 “Who Cares” 2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Push The Sky Away” 3. Fuck Buttons “Slow Focus” 4. Ventura “Ultima Necat” 5. Marvin “Barry
  • Sound Opinions (US music podcast)   Greg Kot’s 1. Parquet Courts “Light Up Gold” 2. Chance The Rapper “Acid Rap” 3. Allen Toussaint “Songbook” 4. Darkside “Psychic” 5. Savages “Silence Yourself”     Jim DeRogatis’ 1. Savages “Silence Yourself” 2. Parquet Courts “Light Up Gold” 3. Chance The Rapper “Acid Rap” 4. Foxygen “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic” 5. Lorde “Pure Heroine”
  • Fargo (Paris records store): Top 2013 records in no particular order
  • Ground Zero (Paris records store): Top 10 in no particular order
  • Other Music (NY records store): Top 30 in no particular order

Reissue of the Year

Nirvana “In Utero” Much more than “Nevermind” or “Unplugged”, “In Utero” was Nirvana‘s masterpiece. No need to argue beloved readers ; this is a fact ! This magnificent box-set include 3 CD’s of the original album with the mix we all know plus mixes of what it could (should?) have been plus a lot of alternate versions and a tremendous MTV live show (also including as a DVD) which shows all the power of the band and the genius Kurt Cobain was. Read in particular the letter that producer Steve Albini wrote to the band to convince them to work with him to understand what love of music is about.

Music Movie of the Year

Dave Grohl “Sound City” Very moving and energizing movie from Dave Grohl explaining how such a great studio Sound City, California was (home of many historical records such as Fleetwood Mac “Rumours” – great reissue as well this year by the way – and Nirvana “Nervermind” for instance), how it slowly got less famous vs. new technologies and how he bought the mixing desk and brought it back to life. The music is extraordinary throughout the movie and there are many guests bringing back this place to life. Watching in particular Paul McCartney with the surviving members of Nirvana or Josh Homme playing with Trent Renznor is a must. Watch the movie and buy the album.

Pitchfork Music Festival Paris : 31th October, 01 and 02 November 2013, Grande Halle de la Villette

Pitchfork Music Festival Paris 2013

Now in its 3rd Paris edition, the Pitchfork Music Festival held in the beautiful place of the Grande Halle de la Villette is the European cousin of that held in Chicago every year. For those with a slight interest in music or in the digital world, Pitchfork is probably the best musical site today either for the quality of its contents or for the impressive number of interesting things one can fin there on a daily basis (reviews, videos, news, etc…).

The least one can say about the European edition of the festival is that this is for sure now one of the best in Paris. I had attended last year’s edition with quite a lot of enthusiasm but must admit having been lost a bit sometimes in “hard-to-listen-to” music, with the fact that I had been overambitious vs. my old age in wanting literally to watch ALL bands. My program made more sense this year even if I still managed to see seventeen bands in three days.

I read or heard a few jealous comments from a few French media about the fact that Pitchfork was too much about hype and not enough about “real” established bands. This might have been partly true but not for this year as headliners (and less famous artists) were really accessible to all listeners in the right mindset. And what makes this festival really fantastic is the beautiful place where the two stages stand, the audience and its diversity which is probably made out of more than 50% of non-French people, the always excellent food, the pleasure in having a Rough Trade shop within the festival where you can buy vinyl to kill time during the abominable Panda Bear set and last but not least the fact that there is a roof when it rains! Now, what about the music this year ? I tried to classify what I saw in three categories :

  • The electro & dance acts :

Mount Kimbie Pitchfork 2013

To my mind, this is really what makes this festival different from the others. You sometimes have electro acts in big outdoor festivals but energy barely equals subtlety and good music. Completely different mindset here where the festival wants you to dance while listening to beautiful and dreamlike music. Although I was a bit disappointed by the new Australian sensation Jagwar Ma, the two sets from Mount Kimbie and Darkside the first day were pure moments of joy and constant well-being. Darkside in particular is the new project of a American-Chilean musician called Nicolas Jaar where he mixes euphoric dance music with great guitars reefs and a mood not that different from the best Pink Floyd moments.

Hot Chip Pitchfork 2013

I personally ended the festival on Saturday with the great UK band Hot Chip and enjoyed every minute of it. To summarize, let’s say that these guys look like complete nerds but make beautiful music, a crossover between LCD Soundsystem and New Order as far as I am concerned.

  • The discoveries and UFO’s :

Omar Souleyman Pitchfork 2013

Once again, this is what makes the Pitchfork Festival so interesting. Where could you see in such a consistent line-up artists such as the Syrian dance sensation Omar Souleyman (exciting the first 10 minutes but boring afterwards), the teeny trash-pop future star Sky Ferreira (quite promising on stage ; can’t wait to hear the album), the more-than-quite boring Panda Bear (I really have issues with Animal Collective members on stage) or the amazing saxophone player Colin Stetson ?

Colin Stetson Pitchfork 2013

The later was a real discovery for me although his sounds were familiar as he played with many bands, including LCD Soundsystem. Here was a guy who only played four very long instrumentals alone and made it sound as if it were (great) new alien music.

  • The “rock” bands :

Savages Pitchfork 2013

…and for those more at ease with traditional drums-bass-guitars rock sounds, indeed there are such bands @ Pitchfork Festival! But rather than seeing Phoenix for the umpteenth times like in all other festivals, here is the place to see bands that have come exclusively in Europe for Pitchfork.

Warpaint Pitchfork 2013

Although I enjoyed the drums-guitar duo No Age and their energy, I am starting to feel a bit disappointed by the all-female band Savages. Although they are quite hype everywhere, the sub-Siouxsie voice imitation by their singer is a bit nerve-stressing after a few songs. Quite the opposite with the Californian band Warpaint who were back on tour after a long period of time and on the eve of their new LP to come soon.

Yo La Tengo Pitchfork 203

I was very happy as always to see again Yo La Tengo on stage after their Parisian show earlier in the year. Excellent show as always in a pure Velvetian tradition (either they sing beautiful slow-core ballads or furious rock numbers) and it was particularly moving to see them back on stage sharing vocals with Hot Chip for a cover of Pale Blue Eyes, in memory of the great Lou Reed who had passed away a few days before. Great initiative from the Rough Trade store as well where you could meet the musicians after the show for a few words and an album-signing workshop.

Ira Kaplan Yo La Tengo Pitchfork 2013

My best show of the festival though probably came from the beautiful Swedish band Junip led by José Gonzalez. A perfect mix of craftmanship, energy, melodies within a loop-oriented kind of music, that was an amazing performance and their last LP is greatly recommended.

Junip Pitchfork 2013

That’s it for this year. Prepare your 3-day pass for next year as frankly this is not a Festival to miss if you happen to live in Paris or around. And remember, Pitchfork is stronger than rain!

Audience Pitchfork 2013

Yo La Tengo – Paris, Bataclan – 18th March 2013

Experiencing Yo La Tengo on stage is always a delight I must say as an introductory note. They are part of these American bands that never disappoint either through their regular outputs or through their shows. Time flies on and it had been more than three years since their last show at exactly the same place and I was thrilled and excited to see them back.

Yo La Tengo formed in 1984 on the nucleus based by husband and wife couple : Ira Kaplan (vocals, guitars and keys) and Georgia Hubley (voice and drums). Always funny by the way as for us French people ; the masculine name sounding more like Georgia and the female one should be Ira (anyway…). After having played with many bass players, the band finally found their key man with James McNew in 1992 to give the core trio we have known and been loving for many years. The origins of the name come from a quote from a former baseball player (“Yo la tengo” = “I got it” in spanish) and critics have often characterised their music around two kinds of sings : the slow Velvet Underground ballad and the mad and crazy experimental…Velvet Underground song. Quite true to be frank but this is exactly what makes them great as they stick with this formula and manage to sound fresh with every new record. Their last LP “Fade” just went out at the start of 2013 and is excellent as major part of the 12 (!) before this last one (cf. complete discography of the band).

The thrill was even greater when we received the information that there would not be any opening act but instead two sets from the band : the first one acoustic and the second one mainly electric. Both sets last respectively 45 minutes and 1 hour and 40 minutes and the band was on top form (complete setlist here). Nice fake (plastic or wood?) trees on stage, bringing to the sold-out Bataclan theatre a nice atmosphere. Ira Kaplan was however the real star of the show here ; the guy’s personality is divided like his songs between that of a beautiful ballad singer and of a rock mutherfucka when the feedback guitar God orders his disciple to make noise, noise, noise ! (well, you got the picture I guess…).

Yo La Tengo, Bataclan 2013, band seated

Great show overall with many splendid ideas ; the started the song with their new song “Ohm” and played it again two hours later in a more electric version. The encore was particularly nice as well with a few great acoustic covers. Please come back soon guys!