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Phoenix rise with Amadeus

May 28, 2009

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of American bands that have young Euro girls caressing their perf shirts and massaging their egos overseas. When they return home, though, they are working for the local landscape company, playing demeaning local gigs and plotting their next escape to a place where people will not only come out for their show, but purchase lucrative merch as well.

Now, how many times does that go the other way? My wild guess is not many, but I also have no idea how much play the guys in Phoenix get in the City of Lights.

I do know they make addictive-as-crack pop rock that the American public can’t afford to ignore. They haven’t, according to recent appearances on the once-again-relevant Saturday Night Live and the I’m-too-old-to-know-what-channel-it’s-on Hills.

090527phoenixThe freely distributed singles “Lisztomania,” “1901,” and “Lasso” aren’t the only contributions this French four piece has to make to the ear candy dish, though. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix might be the best bad-named album ever. It’s certainly one of the most wonderfully melodic things I’ve heard all year.

I don’t really get the lyrics, but I don’t really need to in these particular arrangements. Lead singer Thomas Mars has a Paul McCartney hum that’s enough to keep me interested in this subtle synth-guitar combination.

The age of bands with violins in them is drawing to a close. Animal Collective is quickly changing the definition of modern rock for us. It’s a future that doesn’t involve many guitars.

Thanks to iTunes, music has diversified so greatly that we no longer have that single unifying force: no Beatles, no Zepplin, no Nirvana. But, America will always need some form of pop. We haven’t had any true pop stars in a long time.

Is Phoenix the next international sensation? I have no clue, but the subtle combination of synth, guitar and addictive rhythm may be all they need.

I didn’t check the press kit to see if they’re cute, but I would guess they are worth a gaze.

When was the last time you heard true pop rock? Nope, Weezer doesn’t count. Let these guys do their thing in your stereo. You’ll thank me a week later when you’re still humming this stuff.

— Shane M. Liebler

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