Saturday, November 27, 2004

"sheer joy and enthusiasm" alive & well

French Stairs Article Translated Into Proper English


Original Article In French: http://www.millefeuille.fr/Modules/Chroniques/Fiche/?c_id=397#top

English Translation:

"Those of you who are Silver Jews fans might have heard about The Stairs. The Boston band, a self-produced act like thousands of others no one will ever see mentioned anywhere, indeed managed to get a bit of publicity with their cover of the entire The Natural Bridge record, David Berman's second and best album. Without having heard any of it yet, it was safe to assume that we were dealing with people who had rather good taste and were worthy of interest. The result, named The Unnatural Bridge, is unsurprisingly hit-and-miss, but still pretty nice - the band have recently made it available on Soulseek, along with lots of other unreleased albums (more info-myspace link).

But then, when visiting The Stairs' official website, one realizes that this oddity is only a very small part in an already incredibly prolific discography for such a young band, including loads of side-projects with weird and intriguing names. One also realizes that the real first album of the band, Miraculous Happens, got rave reviews from some of the best American webzines, which didn't really enable the band to get a whole lot bigger. Just one listen to the mp3 they have confirms that their relative obscurity is undeserved. We should spread the word.

This year's EP Chime Away, an 8-song cd destined to fill the wait before the parution of a new album in early 2005, is a good occasion to put a spotlight on these guys who declare sounding like "Neutral Milk Hotel, Guided By Voices, Sebadoh, Olivia Tremor Control, The Beatles, Camper Van Beethoven and Pavement, even if all those comparisons are lazy and cheap". The fact is, though the record actually brings to mind tons of different bands, it never falls into boring plagiarism. For instance, Stop Me Stop Me Stop Me Stop Me (Before I Get Creative), which should in a logical world become a huge hit (but then again, logic...), sounds quite a bit like The Strokes (especially the intonations in the singing), but looser, more intense, filled with hooks and most of all fun. A hit then, some urgent listening. Memory School, which starts off as an almost sappy melancholic ballad only to shift towards a noisy finale, sounds more like Eels, but not even Mister E deals with such a dark brand of humour to evoke somewhat twisted childhood memories: "La la la la/It was the best of times/It was the worst night of your life/La la la la/Your mother chased you 'round with a big old kitchen knife ". Ryan Walsh and his group confirm their skill at the art of counterpoint during one of the best tracks of this record, The Aunts And Uncles Of Three and its catchy cheap synth riff : the opening line going "We're officially bored for the rest of our lives" whereas the sheer joy and enthusiasm of the band is almost palpable.

Chime Away, then, a joyous mess, where one can find a bit of Pavement's slacker spirit, a bit of the ear for melody of some of the Elephant Six bands, fun, energy and talent - largely enough to make up for one or two slightly less inspired moments in the second half of the album. It is strongly advised to go and give a listen to the numerous mp3 available on their webpage, and possibly more (their records being available for very reasonable prices, and sent speedily). A band to support and follow."

Jean-Yves.B

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