New Music – Phoenix, Foreign Born

I first saw Phoenix supporting Turin Brakes at the wonderful Somerset House, a number of years back. I hadn’t heard of them before and was rather concerned when someone near us said they were French. Now, the French can do many things – cook well, be stroppy, and be insouciant, but music they really haven’t been good at for some time (French rap? Pah!). But this lot were a pleasant surprise; jaunty, tuneful, with a good dose of style, as you’d expect. They are back with a new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and the first song to be put out is called “1901”.

They’ve certainly moved on from the “Everything Is Everything” days; the sound is tighter and the production has moved on in leaps and bounds. It’s got more than a touch of mid-80’s power pop about it, with a soupcon of jittery beats that almost edges towards Vampire Weekend afro-beat. Quite pleasant, and watch it, it’s a bit of an earworm.

LA Band Foreign Born have been playing this morning on my iTunes too. There’s a definite touch of Echo And The Bunnymen grandeur about them and I’m sure looking forward to their new album, which should be out in June. The cut below is from the new album and gives you a good idea what they are all about. And what they are all about is epic stadium-filling art-rock. Lovely.

In other news, YouTube have got into a big argument with PRS here in the UK. It’s meant that some music videos have been removed from YouTube which makes my plan to put loads more videos into my Pitchfork 500 posts a bit redundant. Saying that, I doubt PRS are that interested in Plastic Bertrand. If you don’t know who PRS are, they are (sort-of) the UK equivalent of the RIAA (and not the fancy-schmancy guitar firm¹). They ensure that artists are paid for each play of a song, in public. So if you run a bar, or a pub, or even if you have a company of three people and you play the radio in the office, you have to buy a licence, for thousands of pounds upwards. Having worked in the pub/bar/music industry for some years, I know that PRS live in an alternative reality world where everyone still buys wax cylinders and those gramophones are dangerous new technology. Seriously. So I’m with YouTube on this one. Let’s hope it’s resolved soon – because otherwise a lovely way of sharing music (which leads to people buying more songs and going to more gigs, fact) will be taken away from us.

¹ Should anyone reading this be interested in buying me one of these, I’ll be happy to come over to your house and play “Debaser” by The Pixies very badly in return. Actually, that sounds like a threat. Sorry. What I mean to say is, please buy me one of these and I *won’t* come round your house and play “Debaser” badly.

1901 by Phoenix

Vacationing People by Foreign Born