La Bush Resistance
France, Israel, and everything after
Cyann & Ben, a Paris-based quartet named for its two ethereal vocalists, launch minor explosions in the sky where the climactic bursts of color struggle against the gravitational pull of their bleak and atmospheric layers of sonic textures, enhancing the overall cataclysmic effect. The band's third LP, Sweet Beliefs, lights the fuse, then heads for the hills. The electronic convulsions of French artist Turzi, who's collaborated with RTX (ex-Royal Trux), come across like a mechanical breakdown marked by white flashes of krautrock and psychedelia. Similarly, the new album from Franco-American duo the Berg Sans Nipple, Along the Quai (Team Love), is a second-class package dropped and kicked by the Postal Service, meshing titillating electronics with pop melodies.
While in Greek folklore Dionysos is the son of Zeus, in France they're more like the bastard child of Tom Waits and Iggy Pop with a penchant for bizarre and ghoulish stadium anthems. The band's landmark Western Sous La Neige was produced by Steve Albini. Lady and Bird's Keren Ann splits her time and music between France and the States, combining the refined elegance of Paris with the big-city splendor of New York. The songstress' self-titled fifth album is due in May on Blue Note. And while you're at it, check out the reggae-infused hip-hop of Israel's Soulico.
A handful of Holland bands come in search of the pick of destiny. Noisy Amsterdam fourpiece Alamo Race Track merely revved their engines with 2003 debut Birds at Home. Their latest, BlackcatJohnBrown, yet to be released stateside, spills blood on the tracks with the shake 'n' bake of Silkworm and Jesus Lizard. Sex addicts and SXSW veterans Daan and Tjees of zZz thrust organ/drum rhythms like the Doors cock first, rock second with hits like "Ecstasy" and "House of Sin." On the softer side of things, singer-songwriter Joep Pelt is a proud student of the T-Model Ford and R.L. Burnside school of Delta blues, cleaning up the sound of Mississippi with his own acoustic coffeehouse tunes.
A remarkably rare find from the Netherlands, the gnarled and dark folk of Praise the Twilight Sparrow lurks in the backwoods of Magnolia Electric Co.'s Fading Trails, near where the creek drank the cradle. The unsigned trio, fronted by Pascal Hallibert of Templo Diez, purveys truth through bitter poetry that recalls Will Oldham and Smog.
Israel's output springs from the musical hotbed of Tel Aviv, but that's where the similarities between these bands end. Balkan Beat Box, the latest from Gogol Bordello and Firewater alums Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, is a tenpiece capable of turning any party into a festival with its culturally fused dance rhythms. Worth noting, the gypsy punks' 2005 self-titled debut ends with Middle Eastern anthem "La Bush Resistance." A pastiche of the past, RockFour has time traveled through Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and the Beatles' psychedelia ever since switching from Hebrew to English with 2000's Supermarket. RockFour manager, organizational psychologist turned songwriter Anat Damon, pens introspective songs backed by the Time Flies. An Israel native and San Francisco transplant, Ayal Nistor is a one-man band guised as My Second Surprise. On Avoidance as a Way of Life, he pieces together acoustic pop and surf-inspired acid folk tunes.
Then comes the sickness. The thunderous stoner rock of Monotonix marches to the fuzz of Mudhoney and Kyuss; it's safe to assume there's a Fu Manchu involved. The bassless trio's impending debut was produced by Kramer who, judging from Monotonix's live shows, must have had a fire extinguisher handy in the studio, since the band delights in the Buttholian practice of setting their cymbals alight. Though the theatricality of Italy's Afterhours has been lost in translation for more than a decade, that might soon change with Dance for Small Hyenas, following the help of honorary member and producer Greg Dulli of Afghan Wings and Twilight Singers.
Going to Berlin to hear bluegrass is like ordering salsa from New York City, but Two Dollar Bash shows potential on debut On the Road. More appropriate for this occasion is the electrotrash of Peaches, who somehow continues to shock and confuse with her gender-bending antics on Impeach My Bush (XL).
Straight out of Portugal's discothèques, X-Wife and You Should Go Ahead both feed the machines with synth-punk that falls between DFA and Death From Above 1979. David Fonseca, former frontman of multiplatinum Portuguese rock group Silence 4, uses his Orbison-like croon to sharpen his keen pop sensibilities.
The electronic pop of Spain's Ana Laan can come across like the Latin sister of Thom Yorke's Eraser, but her more traditional leanings are best suited for compilations like Putumayo's Music From the Wine Lands. Elsewhere, Busty Duck bangs out a few pints' worth of bar rock from Belgium.
As the World Spins
The Pinker Tones (Spain): Barcelona DJs Mr. Furia and Professor Manso start the Million Colour Revolution from the dance floor.
Kraak & Smaak (The Netherlands): Duo's soul-thumping debut, Boogie Angst, is funktastic.
C-Mon & Kypski (The Netherlands): Renowned scratch artists produce carnivalesque hip-hop that gets lost in Outkast's "Whole Wide World" with polka, samba, and dancehall grooves.
Puppetmastaz (Germany): Berlin's abandoned offspring of the Gorillaz and Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
The Creteens (France): American hardcore in Paris
Fancy (France): Unsigned fourpiece led by guitarist-mom sinks its claws into Joan Jett.
Beangrowers (Malta): Budding pop punk planted by singer and guitarist Alison Galea.
The Wild Eyes (South Africa): Minimalist trio from Cape Town taps equally on Wire and synths.
EUROPEBusty Duck (Brussels, Belgium) Parish II, Wed., 8pm; www.bustyduck.com
Keren Ann (Paris, France) Central Presbyterian Church, Fri., 11pm; www.myspace.com/kerenann
The Berg Sans Nipple (Paris, France) Elysium, Sat., 9pm; www.bergsansnipple.com
The Creteens (Paris, France) Redrum, Wed., 11pm; www.myspace.com/creteens
Cyann & Ben (Paris, France) Ale House, Wed., 11pm; www.everrecords.com/cyannandben
Dionysos (Valence, France) Lamberts, Wed., 10pm; www.dionyweb.com
Fancy (Paris, France) Maggie Mae's, Wed., 9pm; www.myspace.com/welovefancy
Jessica Fichot (Paris, France) Elephant Room, Thu., 11pm; www.jessicasongs.com/singer.html
Prototypes (Paris, France) Exodus, Sat., 12:05am; www.prototypesonline.com
Turzi (Paris, France) Bourbon Rocks, Thu., 9pm; www.myspace.com/turzi
Bird featuring Mark Burgess of the Chameleons (Hamburg, Germany) Elysium, Wed., 10:45pm; www.myspace.com/chameleonsvox
Peaches (Berlin, Germany) Exodus, Fri., 1am; www.peachesrocks.com
Puppetmastaz (Berlin, Germany) Latitude 30, Fri., 8pm; www.puppetmastaz.com
Two Dollar Bash (Berlin, Germany) Jovita's, Sat., 1am; www.twodollarbash.net
The Moog (Budapest, Hungary) Lamberts, Sat., 11pm; www.myspace.com/moogband
Afterhours (Milano, Italy) Whisky Bar, Fri., 8pm; www.afterhours.it
The Hormonauts (Cesena (FC), Italy) Latitude 30, Thu., 8pm; www.thehormonauts.com
Beangrowers (St. Julians, Malta) Light Bar, Thu., 9pm; www.myspace.com/beangrowers
David Fonseca (Lisbon, Portugal) Spiro's, Wed., 9pm; www.davidfonseca.com
X-Wife (Porto, Portugal) Friends, Wed., 9pm; www.x-wiferocks.com
You Should Go Ahead (Lisbon, Portugal) Molotov Lounge, Thu., 9pm; www.youshouldgoahead.com
Dislike (Ufa, Russia) Maggie Mae's Rooftop, Sat., 8pm; www.myspace.com/dislikeufa
Oleg Kireyev & Exotic Band (Moscow, Russia) Copa, Fri., 9:10pm; www.kireyev.ru
Ana Laan (Madrid, Spain) Visions, Thu., 8:30pm; www.nardismusic.com
The Pinker Tones (Barcelona, Spain) Karma Lounge, Sat., 12mid; www.thepinkertones.com
About (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Beauty Bar, Wed., 10pm; www.whataboutabout.com
After Forever (Reuver, Naetherlands) Maggie Mae's, Sat., 12:30am; www.afterforever.com
Alamo Race Track (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Soho Lounge, Fri., 9pm; www.alamoracetrack.com
C-Mon & Kypski (Utrecht, Netherlands) Copa, Thu., 1am; www.c-monandkypski.com
Kraak & Smaak (Leiden, Netherlands) Latitude 30, Fri., 12mid; www.kraaksmaak.com
Joep Pelt (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Copa, Wed., 9pm; www.joeppelt.net
Praise the Twilight Sparrow (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Momo's, Wed., 9pm; www.myspace.com/praisethetwilightsparrow
Zzz (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Latitude 30, Fri., 1am; www.soundofzzz.com
Mor Ve Otesi (Istanbul, Turkey) Red 7 Patio, Wed., 9pm; www.morveotesi.com
Balkan Beat Box (Tel Aviv, Israel) Habana Calle 6 Annex, Sat., TBA; www.balkanbeatbox.com
Monotonix (Tel Aviv, Israel) Flamingo Cantina, Fri., 9:25pm; www.monotonix.com
My Second Surprise (Tel Aviv, Israel) Mohawk, Sat., 8pm; www.mysecondsurprise.com
RockFour (Tel Aviv, Israel) Continental Club, Fri., 10pm; www.rockfour.com
Soulico (Tel Aviv, Israel) Habana Calle 6 Annex, Sat., TBA; www.myspace.com/soulicocrew
SOUTH AFRICAThe Dirty Skirts (Cape Town, South Africa) Maggie Mae's, Wed., 8pm; www.thedirtyskirts.com
Harris Tweed (Johannesburg, South Africa) 18th Floor @ Hilton Garden, Wed., 9pm; www.harristweedmusic.com
Shawn Phillips (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) TBA; www.shawnphillips.com
The Wild Eyes (Cape Town, South Africa) B.D. Riley's, Fri., 8pm; www.thewildeyes.com