French Miami (s/r)

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cd_french-miami.gifThis is one of those odd bands that sounds so amazing on CD you wouldn't expect much from their live show, and so amazing live that you wouldn't expect the same intensity from a recorded product.







French Miami and I have a very brief history. One day they wrote, asking to play a show at Cicero's. I had a full bill and told them no, then I listened to their music on MySpace and told them yes; I would make it happen. Their publicist sent along a CD with the promotional posters and I was hooked.

This is one of those odd bands that sounds so amazing on CD you wouldn't expect much from their live show, and so amazing live that you wouldn't expect the same intensity from a recorded product. In other words, French Miami rock no matter how you listen. The three guys in this San Francisco band-Jason Heiselmann (baritone guitar, keyboards, vocals), Roland Curtis (guitar, synthesizer, etc.) and Chris Crawford (drums) fit together so tightly you don't even miss anything that may be lacking. On stage, they're a powerhouse, barreling through songs with a feverish intensity, each hand on different instruments and vocals a-flyin'.

The intro finds the boys delivering soaring "oh"s, then segueing into the uber-catchy "God Damn Best." You learn quite quickly that a French Miami song is defined by its jangly and inventive guitar lines, wonderfully loud and inappropriate keyboards and full-throated, far-reaching vocals. Sometimes the lyrics are repetitious but it just doesn't matter; the pummeling instrumentation makes the recurring lines and images that much sharper. On "God Damn Best," those words boil down to "Whatcha gonna do with love?"

Next up, "Science Fiction" proclaims "We make the same mistakes." The guitar points and thrusts, laying intricate lines atop dance-ready keyboards. The extended, toned-down synthesizer intro to "Mr. Moment"-itself clocking in at less than a minute and a half-proves that even the best dance music needs a breather now and then. Up next, "Multi Caliber Rifles" is more instruments than vocals, the guitar lines and drumbeats quite pointed and memorable.

A definite standout from the live show was the manic "Lil' Rabbits." Are you ready? Now repeat after me: "We get along." That's about all you need to know here; now sit back and enjoy. The guitar intro to "All On Fire" is singular and captivating, shifting to a pop line beneath the verses before returning to smolder beneath the refrain. "1991" is an exercise in synthesizers, and it's another slow burner. Next up, "S.F.O." brings back the stutter-stepped indie rock sounds with time shifts, beats and chords worthy of a handful of songs-yet here, all in one, it works, and exceedingly so.

Like the live show, the only thing wrong with French Miami is that it's over far too soon. So here, I suppose, is the advantage of disc over performance; you can always hit "repeat." A | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Archers of Loaf, Fugazi, Trans Am (or so I'm told)

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