While listening to Ti Amo, the sixth album from Phoenix, I couldn’t help but wonder if the band was inspired by Giorgio Moroder. The album does not sound entirely Italo-disco – although the influence of the dance floor is much more pronounced here, especially at the beginning – but, titles aside, it feels a little cooler, a little more privy to what happened the night before. The band’s sound has been moving slowly the past few albums, from the obvious French electro influence of their early works, to the driving all-the-hits approach of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, to the more synth-based sound of its successor Bankrupt. There’s some sort of consolidation at work here, but with some concessions to the present: no obvious hits, no instrumentals, and an overwhelming “concept album” feel, in all its woozy, hazy, night before tendencies. All this makes for an all right album. Wouldn’t change anybody’s minds (again, no obvious hits) but wouldn’t turn anybody off either. I like what I heard, but I’m ambivalent when it all ended. [NB] | 3/5
“1901” by Phoenix | Yes, I’m writing about Phoenix, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering I’ve written about them many times before. Yes, this is the aberration on the theme, a bit, but yes, this song was released when Shalla was just 16, which both slots into “favorite songs when I was a teenager” and “I am very old indeed”. (This makes the list also before Shalla’s always liked songs with… rumbly? Are those bass lines rumbly? We always had difficulty pinning that right word down.) At least we have a reminder that, while this song was ubiquitous, it wasn’t ubiquitous enough to be terribly tired now. It still sounds proper today, even if now I imagine a car commercial. This also reminds me that my first favorite Phoenix song, “Long Distance Call”, was released in 2006, when I was just getting deep into college, and when she was just 13. I really feel old now. [NB]
“Girlfriend” by Phoenix | At the end of a whole month of Filipino classics (punctuated by, well, K-pop songs) we go back to regular programming with a song that’s applicable because… I’m not gonna say it. No, it’s nothing to do with me. It’s just that, well… well, it’s about someone else, and… well… let’s keep it at that. And the fact that Phoenix is a French band. And that people look up to Sofia Coppola. And that there’s a lemon emoji, but not a mango one. I think. I don’t use emoji completely. [NB]
When it was announced that French band Phoenix would be making a stop in Manila, I swear, there was a collective, almost orgasmic, gasp from indie kids everywhere. Maybe it’s a bit of a “finally, we get a concert for us!” kind of gasp. Maybe it’s an “oh my God they’re going here!” gasp. It is a bit unexpected, but at the same time it is. Phoenix is one of the biggest bands in the world right now: they’ve certainly gone a long way from their decidedly left of center origins in Versailles. From being one of the more (arguably) chilled acts coming out of France, they are now filling arenas with their ethereal take on indie pop. And, once again, I am not going to be there. So here’s a crash course, in usual earthings! tradition. [NB]
In the past few years we’ve seen more relatively out-of-mainstream acts perform in Manila. Gone, it seems, are the times when the only foreign artists who would stop here are 60s and 70s bands targeting baby boomers, or the obviously big pop acts. Now we’ve had visits from Grimes, the xx and Tegan and Sara. We’ve had the Wanderland Festival last April, an attempt at bringing summer festival culture to the Philippines (albeit with half of the line-up being Aussie acts with, likely, a very small following). And, of course, there were the bigger acts, like Joss Stone at Malasimbo (which has been going on for a while and has been, so far, mostly under the radar) and, last month, the Killers.