By contributing writer Adam Ogushwitz
When Al Gore invented the internet, he probably had no idea what it would do for music. With the onset of social networking sites and YouTube, Twitter and yes, even blogs, it has become increasingly easy to create the illusion of talent – a “buzz” as it is called. Because of this bombardment of new bands and mediocre music, it is becoming harder to weed out the good from the bad, the strikes from the gutters, the Barry Whites from the Barry Manilows, if you will. (No Offense to Barry Manilow fans.) To help fans of great music avoid wasting precious hard drive space on their computers and iPods, I will attempt to weed through the never-ending piles of auditory carbon to bring you sonic diamonds.
Phoenix, the French love-spawn of a hazy, passion field ménage à trois between Air, The Strokes, and Depeche Mode encompasses simply the best aspects of a modern day indie/electro rock band. Smooth, sweeping landscapes are created and seamlessly blended with groove-based guitar riffs and hard rocking danceable drumbeats to create a truly indelible, polished sound which at times transcends the genre itself.
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Phoenix was formed in the late 90’s after guitar player, Laurent Brancowitz left his band Darlin’, comprised of himself, Thomas Bangalter, and Guy-Manuel de Homen-Christo. While Bangalter and de Homen-Christo donned robot costumes and became French house sensations Daft Punk, Brancowitz and Phoenix released their first album, “United” in 2000. Subsequent albums include, “Alphabetical” (2004), “Live! Thirty Days Ago” (2005), and “It’s Never Been Like That” (2006). While Phoenix has garnered a buzz through their decade long career, a thorough listening of their newest offering will prove why they are at the top of their game.
Their latest album, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” combines indie-pop sensibilities carefully camouflaged between disco and garage rock nuances. Clever songwriters, Phoenix intermingles nonsensical phrases to create a stream-of- consciousness soup, which somehow makes sense to the first time and repeat listener. Encompassing the full spectrum of emotions, Phoenix has the ability to make you laugh and make you cry, often within the same 4-minute song. In a world where too many indie rock bands try too hard to say too little, Phoenix’s vocals, and boisterous sound, come across as modest and genuinely unpretentious. This is a cohesive album which can be listened to from start to finish, from the opening “Lisztomania,’ with it’s head-nodding drum and guitar noodling, to “Armistice,” the final tune, which keeps an upbeat approach to what is a very somber song.
If you haven’t heard these guys yet, now is the time. They are currently gaining major international acclaim from their latest album, which was released May 26 and are currently in the middle of a sold out US tour and then it’s back across the pond for 2 months before returning in September to play at Central Park’s SummerStage for two shows on Sept. 25th & 26th.
Check out more at www.wearephoenix.com
The following is the first post in a new Listening Room series written by contributing writer Adam Ogushwitz.