t may be a little bit gauche to really, really like Chromeo. The electro-funk duo love the ’80s, but not in the post-punk way favored by many of their contemporaries; instead, they unabashedly cite Hall & Oates as a primary influence, even going so far as to perform with Daryl Hall at 2010’s Bonnaroo. They’ve unironically covered the Eagles. All of their songs are about women—typically delivered with a wink and a nod—featuring lyrics like, “For sure if I tell you how to do my dance/Baby then you let me get in those pants.”
Singer/guitarist David “Dave 1” Macklovitch’s fashion sense tends to veer toward the Miami Vice side. If Chromeo were the self-referencing type, they would have turned out a song like Das Racist’s “hahahaha jk?,” telling critics, “We’re not joking, just joking, we are joking, just joking.”
However, Macklovitch and keyboardist Patrick “P-Thugg” Gemayel think that it shouldn’t even be a question—of course they’re not joking. And their tightly crafted electro jams show just how serious they are about their music, even when Macklovitch is laying it on thick with “Call me when you’re sad, call me when you’re mad, call me when you’re home alone/Call me when you’re freaky, call me when you’re nasty, call me when you want to…mmm” in “Call Me Up.”
Now, Chromeo have released an album that captures their live energy, recorded in their hometown of Montreal.
The iTunes exclusive release Live from Montreal was recorded at an Apple store for an audience of only 100 people, but they’re obligingly audible with their cheers, handclaps and singalongs. Live, Chromeo’s cheese/sleaze routine is pure exuberance. Macklovitch possesses the sort of preternatural charisma that, even from audio alone, it’s clear that the crowd obeys when he commands, “Put your hands up!” (It also takes a preternatural confidence to pull off songs like “Bonafied Lovin’,” a slick assertion of style and swagger.)
He doesn’t do much in the way of between-songs banter, and Gemayel only speaks through the talkbox that has come to define Chromeo’s sound, but their performance says everything to those 200 dancing feet.
The 13-song set features highlights from 2007 breakout album Fancy Footwork and 2010’s Business Casual, as well as “You’re So Gangsta,” a high point of their admittedly hit-and-miss 2004 debut She’s In Control. The show kicks off with Business Casual standout “I’m Not Contagious” before starting in on the established hits with the fun and funky “Tenderoni.” New and old material blend seamlessly, from the electronic predilections of “Hot Mess” to the smooth “Waiting 4 U,” one of Chromeo’s most effective aggregates of ’80s vibes. The piano-driven oedipal ode “Momma’s Boy” lightens things up after dancefloor banger “Night By Night.”
There isn’t much in the way of live experimentation—a little more talkboxed vocals here, an extra flourish there, an extended intro for “Night By Night” that steps up the drama—but the performance is tight and polished. The set is crafted for maximum dancing, and when Macklovitch simply introduces closing song “Fancy Footwork” with “How about some two-step?”, the crowd’s response sounds more ready than ever.
Live from Montreal does everything a live album should do, capturing the exhilaration of the concert experience. While there is a strong possibility that Macklovitch was sporting a white suit at the time of the recording, the sophisticated musicianship shows that it’s acceptable to be as serious about Chromeo as Chromeo are about Hall & Oates.
Album Review: Yelle – Safari Disco Club
When Yelle arrived on the scene in 2006, it was with “Je Veux Te Voir,” an attitude-packed and hilariously vulgar diss track directed toward rapper Cuizinier for his misogynistic views. The 2007 debut album, Pop Up, spawned two more minor hits with “A Cause des Garçons” and “Ce Jeu.” The French trio, led by singer Julie Budet, established themselves as purveyors of summery electropop. Then, they all but disappeared.
To a certain extent, Yelle have kept busy since their first album, remixing Katy Perry’s “Hot ‘n’ Cold” and appearing on the Kennedy track “John and Yoko,” as well as covering “Who’s That Girl?” by Robyn. However, in such a fast-paced music environment, no one can afford to take four years between albums unless the result is something that could universally be considered a masterpiece. Yelle’s sophomore release, Safari Disco Club, is a good effort that falls short of legendary status.
They’ve grown out of the youthful spirit of Pop Up, though “C’est Pas Une Vie” packs a bright punch, while “Que Veux-Tu” and “Unillusion” make good use of ’80s pop references. Songs like “Chimie Physique” and “La Musique” are much more mature in tone than anything Yelle have released before. There’s also more actual singing from Budet, rather than the sing-rapping previously employed. Safari Disco Club showcases a more developed act, but it doesn’t sound like four years’ worth of growth. The more subdued approach makes sense, but the songs aren’t as engaging as established fans might expect.
The dance scene has changed drastically since Yelle’s debut. This isn’t to say that producers GrandMarnier and Tepr should have gone for a dubstep approach—it wouldn’t suit Budet’s voice, though “S’Eteint le Soleil” has hints of grimey bass—but in an environment where the fresh-faced Londoner Katy B is poised for a takeover, it’s difficult to see where Yelle’s role is now.
The album sounds solid, with plenty of agile synths to spare, but it’s difficult to see what role it plays; it’s not exactly more of the same, but it may as well be. Safari Disco Club is worth a listen, but it fails to assert itself as something that demands listeners’ attention.
Album Review: Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
In the five years since Canadian chamber-rock band Broken Social Scene released its last album, lead Scenester Kevin Drew has ably stepped into indie-stardom, nurturing mass-anticipation for the collective’s upcoming opus.
Enter Forgiveness Rock Record. With the Toronto outfit choosing to explore every bit of the space that their physical largesse affords, the wait has been worth it—even if the album requires a bit of stamina in order to fully grasp the triumph.
Perhaps the group—composed of a fluid membership that often numbers well into double digits—is finally becoming exactly what it is they were likely always going to be: a dramatic, sweeping and engrossing baroque-rock troupe. Besides, it’s not often that a group that has featured a melodica in the past acts as though it’s a power-pop trio, which many of their earlier songs have suggested.
While a lack of sonic cohesion does make itself evident, as the result of a mixed bag of styles that can often distract rather than attract, the significant and unifying thread of Kevin Drew’s Jeff Tweedy-esque, achy vocals equip the entire proceedings with immense heart. Some sort of binding agent is necessary, however, due to the divergent styles showcased. By showing off their skills in Post-rock (“Meet Me in the Basement”), bombastic, arena-anthems (“World Sick”), playful prog (“Chase Scene”) and effective melody making (“Texico Bitches”), it’s quite clear that this is a group that is more comfortable stretching their musical legs than the average listener will likely be sinking their teeth into this album.
Given the amount of time between records, not only is Forgiveness Rock Record an example of good things coming to those who wait, but also, to those who also don’t mind putting forth a little effort to gain great reward.
EP Review: Dan Fisk — Bruises from the Backseat
When an album’s liner notes list multiple banjo players on the same song, you know it’s going to be an enjoyable listen. Dan Fisk has two banjo pickers on“Life and Limb,” from his new solo EP, but that’s not the only thing he’s got going for him on Bruises from the Backseat (out 6/28).
Fisk (an upstate New Yorker who’s spent the past decade in Virginia), has a radio-ready, slightly raspy voice and solid songwriting skills. Album opener “A Thousand Love Songs” is the highlight of the disc, and had it been released fifteen years ago when Vertical Horizon and Matchbox 20 were flying up the charts, Fisk would probably be blowing his nose with $20 bills right now.
The EP’s sole cover is a version of Paul Simon’s “Stranded in a Limousine,” which features fellow area singer-songwriter Ted Garber on harmonica. It feels a little out of place among the more mellow tracks on the record, but it’s definitely a fun listen.
Bruises from the Backseat is a promising solo release from Fisk. Let’s hope a full-length record is next.
Listen If You Like: Duncan Sheik, The Wallflowers, Joe Pug, Jason Mraz
Interviews2 months ago
Deer Tick Digs Deep on new Record the Black Dirt Sessions
Interviews4 months ago
Laurie Anderson as Fenway Bergamot on Punctuation, God and Kierkegaard
Interviews4 months ago
Darius Rucker – The Country Music Interview
Interviews2 months ago
Catching up with Chris Hillman of The Byrds & The Desert Rose Band
Interviews6 months ago
Billy Ray Cyrus – (We Weren’t Allowed to Ask Any Miley Questions)
Interviews8 years ago
Exclusive Interview with GRAMMY-Winner Marc Cohn
Concert Reviews8 years ago
Concert Review: Mumford & Sons at The War Memorial in Nashville
Concert Reviews8 years ago
Concert Review: OK GO at Nashville’s Mercy Lounge