Monday, 19 April 2010

Nantes Loves Electro Too

The guy in the sandwich shop said that the kids love house, but all we could find was an electro night - so we went to see if they like that too. Turns out we were right, the Bloody Beetroots show was packed full of lycées, roughly 16-18 year-olds from the city's colleges. This meant that not only was the bar empty, but the crowd inside the cavernous Halle de la Trocardière were bouncing off the walls.

The band are much heavier live than their plethora of remixes and last year's Roborama would suggest - they even re-brand themselves Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 when they go on tour, adding a drummer to their line up. Adding to the surprise heaviness is the vaudeville of the Venom masks (the character from Spiderman, not some kind of poisoning facewear) the duo wear, as they flit between guitar, bass, synths and microphone.

Tunes from the album sounded like real hits, although they're played regularly at Custard Factory nights they're given new life live, with 'Cornelius', 'Butter', 'Warp' and 'House No. 84' (previously featured on this blog) going off. Add in a cover of the brooding 28 Days Later Theme, a melodramatic bit of Bach's Tocata and Fugue and the PHENOMENAL 'We Are From Venice' (see below) with live strings as a finale, the Beetroots managed to cement their place amongst the best live dance acts in the world.

Chatting at the end, Axwell, an 18-year-old lycéan, said "Justice, SebastiAn, Crookers... it is very exciting" - easy to say if you're 18, wearing Prada glasses and go to a posh secondary school but keep it real at Electro nights in the ghetto end of the Rezé - but that was no barrie to my realisation that as ropy as my French might be, the the only phrase I really needed to know was "j'aime Ed Banger".

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Nantes Loves Reggae

"10 years ago, maybe not so much, but now you walk around and it's reggae party here, reggae party there. The kids like house, but most people listen to reggae." The owner of a sandwich shop on the Rue du Maréchal Joffre, Nantes. He's not wrong; flyers for reggae nights fill shops down the thin cobbled streets of the old city. Much of daily life here is soundtracked by the web radio station, broadcasting reggae and roots music out of Paris, and local reggae heroes Truth and Right.

One of the reasons behind the growth of reggae soundsystems in this city over the last decade is Ras Abubakar, who set up Zion Gate Music - a well regarded Nantes-based reggae label - in 1996. We caught up with him in Oneness Records, the record shop he runs on Rue du Maréchal Joffre. Here he explained that much of the reggae culture here comes from immigration from the West Indies, and his label, along with their house band, bring artists from around the world to record here. This meant that, alongside purchases of Beastie Boys' Check Your Head Curtis Mayfield's Superfly, I managed to pick up a Zion Gate record featuring a singer from Birmingham. 6 hours in Nantes and already I've got a little taste of home.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Hello, the Summer.

At LIFB we can normally be found fighting the good fight against the locust-swarm of terrible mash-ups, a long-lasting fad that invaded the internet the day the world decided that taking recognizable bits from two different songs and playing them at the same time was postmodern and cool. It was when Danger Mouse did it with the Grey Album. It isn't when you do it with Pink Floyd and Soulja Boy.

However, sometimes the concept throws up something that has an existence outside the realm of less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts novelty. New York's Max Tannone - the DJ and producer who gave us last year's Jaydiohead (Jay Z/Radiohead - worked in parts but the rhymes were overwhelmed by guitars and was just a little too angry) - has just dropped Mos Dub, Mos Def rapping over Dub and Reggae classics.

Like any mash-up collection that aims for a little longevity, most of the tracks are produced in such a way that they avoid 'name that tune' obviousness (with the exception of the excruciating Travellin' Underground). Reggae always sounds like summer, and the careful updating of classics, as controversial as it might be for some, is always welcome here - this one is going in the car for those increasingly regular journeys with the window wound down.

And this is our favourite cut:
Mos Dub - 04 - In My Math by lifeinflashback

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Pitchify is Good.

Spotify is the the definition of amazing, I think we're pretty clear on that. But sometimes I open it up and feel totally overwhelmed by what it offers, I just face it with a blank expression as my brain fails to focus on a band or album that I might like to listen to. It's at this stage that I retreat to my 'safety band' - a padded cell of an album that I can put on when my mental jukebox goes into meltdown. More and more frequently have I been turning away from the overabundance of choice that Spotify presents and just listening to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut.

BUT ALL THAT HAS CHANGED! Well, all that has changed when I'm gawping at Spotify thinking 'I wish I could just think of a critically acclaimed non-commercial band to listen to' (which, lets face it, is the prayer I offer up the most often). Pitchify has been linking Pitchfork's highest rated albums to Spotify since the end of last year (and added Drowned in Sound reviewed albums in Feb) and is really very good for suggestions of new things and older things to listen to 'if you like that sort of thing.'