French Power Pop – What is the magic?

The first French band that grabbed my attention was Les Rita Mitsouko in the ’80s.

Upon listening to my random YouTube mix today, a French band that I had never heard before called Manceau popped up in the mix and I was instantly transported away:

This reminded me and sounded like another unheralded and brilliant French pop band a have always loved: Tahiti 80:

Both bands share a love of highly-compressed, radio-friendly tunes driven by jangly guitars, punchy bass, dance grooves and tuneful hooks.

I think these French bands love disco as much as they love British guitar bands of the 60s. You get the tunes, and you get the beat. You can sing along, and you can dance.

The apotheosis of this type of music outside of France has been the music of Phoenix.

Why did Phoenix make it when Tahiti 80 or Manceau are relatively unknown?

Better marketing or management? More extensive touring? All I know is all of these bands are unmistakably French and they all sound great.

Some other French bands to explore:

http://www.frenchmusicblog.com/french-bands

 

 

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Lawrence of Belgravia

Question:

How can a musician so disciplined that he releases 10 classic albums in 10 years in the 1980s (with the band Felt) produce minimal output in the years that followed?

Short answer:

By being true to himself.

Long answer:

See below.

Lawrence get things done, but in his own way and on his own terms.

In the documentary Lawrence OF Belgravia, filmmaker Paul Kelly followed the little-known musical legend Lawrence around for five years. The film came out in British theaters in 2011, but is just being released on DVD this week (five years later). The film is worth the wait because the music is brilliant, and just like Brian Wilson, you want to get inside the mind of the musical creator.

Take an authentic eccentric (in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes) as only the British can produce, a dose a megalomania, and ear for a tune, a dash of sartorial excellence, and you have an indie hipster, but not a star. The Beatles were cool too, and they appealed to the masses. Where did Lawrence go wrong?

In Lawrence’s mind, he should be a superstar. That is why he only has one name. Like Sting or Madonna.

But unlike Sting or Madonna, Lawrence takes the Tube (underground) and has difficulty paying the rent.

Lawrence does not collaborate on outside projects. If you want Lawrence to sing on your album, even if you are famous, forget it.

After Lawrence achieved his goal with Felt of recording 10 albums in 10 years, he moved on to form Denim. Unlike Felt, which had and indie music vibe, Denim took its inspiration from ‘70s bubblegum pop and glam rock. Denim released three albums in the ‘90s, but to Lawrence’s dismay, he did not conquer the charts.

His next (and current) band, Go Kart Mozart, is more of a B-sides band. His idea to was to capture the magic of the B-sides of great 45 singles – where the forgotten B-side was uninhibited, more experimental and often more musically adventurous than the radio hit. Again, though received well by critics, Go Kart Mozart did not tear up the charts.

The music business is both music and business. Perhaps all Lawrence needed was a great manager to handle the business side of things. Maybe one day he will get one.

Most of Lawrence’s music is great, and worth a listen. It will challenge your mind, and maybe even get you onto the dance floor.

In 2018, in his own slow yet meticulous way, Lawrence is releasing new music: it is the fourth Go-Kart Mozart record, called Mozart’s Mini-Mart. 

You can read all about it here:

https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/vbpdpm/lawrence-felt-go-kart-mozart-interview-profile