Monday, April 14, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

April 8th, 2008: Mercury Lounge, New York, NY: French Kicks w/ The Subjects
Review and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo

Before we get to the recap a very heartfelt thank you has to be extended to the two girls who got me into the Mercury Lounge for the sold out show. Generally getting to cover these shows is not a problem but there are the rare instances where our requests are either not received or declined. In those cases we pay to get in like most of you. Sometimes, however, we rely on a bit of divine intervention and on Tuesday it happened in the form of two very nice concert-attendees. Their generosity is truly appreciated.

Brooklyn's French Kicks second night of a three week residency at the Mercury Lounge (the final night is tomorrow) was sold out. It's the first sold out FK show I've attended and why was I surprised? Playing in their backyard on a Tuesday night is different than playing in Dallas on a Wednesday night. Or Saturday night. Or Friday night. Yes, I saw them a few times in the Lone Star State.

Their new disc, Swimming, is out now on iTunes and in physical form on May 20. And it's excellent. And it was prominently featured during their show. Starting with "Love In Ruins" the band eased into their gig firing off several new songs before going back to Trial Of The Century for "One More Time" that elicited cheers and applause when drummer Aaron Thurston began tapping at his high hat.

Now a four piece, the French Kicks still run their offence through lead singer Nick Stumpf who bounced back and forth between guitar, piano and bass. Yet Stumpf still found moments without any instruments; able to croon, posture and survey they crowd from stage's edge as guitarist Josh Wise and bassist Lawrence Stumpf backed him with soulful ooh and ahh harmonies.

On new songs like "Abandon" and "Atlanta", the Kicks sound was fully fleshed out. It's a sound they've been working toward since their more post-punk early days and perfected on this album. Wise's alarm-sounding guitar work, Thurston's pulsing drumming and cross the slow motion delivery of Stumpf's lyrics that are pulled along like saltwater taffy in those machines on the boardwalk. The music and lyrics were in beautiful contrast to each other and it's this juxtaposition that makes their music so affecting and a must to see live.

Wise took a lead vocal turn on the song "Carried Away" but the set's highlight was always going to be an older song and it came with Stumpf's simple one key piano intro to Trial's title track. A haunting, late night, mid-tempo ballad, bounced along that simple piano tune and finished with a vocal flourish - all the band members plaintively singing the closing line "Yeah, you come to mind" over and over.
For a full list of upcoming shows by the French Kicks check out their shows page.
Next up on PTTO: Cloud Cult/The Form @ Union Hall Brooklyn, NYC (4/17)

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