Monday, November 24, 2008

French Kicks

On Friday night, I braved the wintry temps and hiked aaaallll the way from my apartment on 15th St to the Black Cat, on 14th Street, to hear the French Kicks -- a band whose chords closely fit the textbook definition of indie rock.

While more officially from Brooklyn, I’ve learned that the band is actually quasi-local. Lead vocalist and keyboardist, Nick Stumpf, and his brother Lawrence, the bassist, are both from the area. That could explain Stumpf's love affair with DC's music venues:

We played the Rock and Roll hotel somewhat recently and it was great. Good size, great back stage room, nice folks. The Black Cat is great too though, always love playing there. Those two and 9:30 are all among the better places to play in the country actually, so D.C. wins.

The quartet knows how to put on a good show, pleasing the hipster crowd. Their dreamy pop sounds and catchy harmonies kept my head nodding, and the musical talents (and adorable indie rock star good looks) kept my eyes on the stage. The energy level hovered around 6.5 volts -- leaving me yearning for something slightly more upbeat for a live show, but at the same time reminding me why they’re great itunes companions for cooking or walking to work. Their set included mostly their newer songs, but a few of the oldies, including "You Could Not Decide." Admittedly, I was a little disappointed, as fan of their older records. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying their new sounds from their most recent album, Swimming, which got pretty good reviews, as Pitchfork describes in this illustrative adjective bomb:

Thick with both a springtime twinkle and autumnal heartache, Swimming makes good on the band's early promise. Trading layers of mood and melody and meaning for layers of Pro Tooled artifice, French Kicks have razored off the bullshit, leaving a core of beguilingly honest tunes.

From listening to Stumpf's crooning melodies, you can probably guess which vinyl records keep their turntables warm -- including 80's rockers the Pixies, The Kinks, and The Cure. So it's no wonder that their latest EP, Covers, includes their own interpretation of songs written by the late greats, such as Lindsey Buckingham, the Ramones, and the Shirelles.

Check out their website:
Find them on Myspace here:


Atrios said...

80s rockers the Kinks? their first album was released in 1964.

yes i'm old.

Anonymous said...

He's young. The Kinks went through a "theatrical incarnation" (1973 – 1976) after their "Golden Age" (1967 – 1972) which followed there first commercial success. They returned to commercial success and popularity during the period 1977-1984. It was that comeback period when a whole new generation of kids heard them for the first time. Lola.

Pinko Punko said...

Hilario. Kinks had one song ever on MTV, likely. Come Dancing. QED. Likewise Bruce Springsteen's first hit was made by Courtney Cox in the vid. Good times!

Auguste said...

Just to be clear, you're not saying "Lola" is from the return-to-commercial-success period, right?

Marc Fuller said...

"written by the late greats, such as Lindsey Buckingham"

WTF! This would certainly be news to Lindsey Buckingham. The still living, alive, Lindsey Buckingham.

e. nonee moose said...

Most of the Ramones are still alive too.

Padre Mickey said...

Actually, e.nonee moose, most of the Ramones are dead: Johnny, Joey,and Dee Dee; all dead!

Todd and in Charge said...

Buckingham just released an amazing new album -- he's not dead yet!

And I'm seeing cranky old Ray Davies on Saturday in South Beach.

Elmer's right that a live version of "Lola" was a hit (again) for the Kinks in the early 80s.

darrelplant said...

Saw Ray here in Portland just a few months back and it was an amazing show.

esroheriff said...

When somebody calls Lindsey Buckingham a "late great" it makes me feel REAAALLLY old. Not all of the Shirelles are dead either.

Julia said...

Oy. Nobody is old here. I say that not knowing anyone's age. But still.

The good news is: there are rumors of a Kinks reunion tour. THAT will make people feel old.

Sean said...

hmmmm. hotel, black cat, 9:30, versus Fillmore, Great American Music Hall, Avalon Ballroom and ten others in SF. So DC wins??