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Aurevoir Simone_Still Night, Still Light

Au Revoir Simone

by Roger Young / 08.08.2009

David Lynch doesn’t tweet often. When he does it’s either a meditation awareness message or an announcement for a new episode of The Interview Project. So when he tweeted his love for a band called Au Revoir Simone I had to hear them. To my immediate dismay I discovered they were from Williamsburg in Brooklyn, that den of the painfully hip. I bought it anyway, because I trust David.

Three ladies, three keyboards, a drum machine, vocal harmonies. They’re kinda like Vangelis meets Saint Etienne. They’re twee and they swell and soar through layers of synth like candy floss. There is little dark about ARS; even the sadness tinged aural tide of “Shadows” is tempered by a poppy beat and lyrics. “I’m moving on, I hope you’re coming with me”. But they are far from an upbeat happy pop band. There is something in the light density of tone that evokes a sad whimsy, something to do with the breathy vocals bass-less-ness of the drum machine. Listening to them is like floating away on a summer cloud.

It would be easy find ARS’s hipness painful if one took it to heart too much. On first listen Still Night, Still Light is disposable and inessential, but something in its overly simplistic introspection and driving melodies brings me back again and again. In fact, driving is the perfect thing to be doing while listening to ARS. It’s perfect music for a drive to beach, while thinking of those mild and delicious forgotten hook-ups.

Standout tracks include “Shadows” and “Trace A Line”, which can be bought here: http://www.aurevoirsimone.com/

Listen to some tracks here: www.myspace.com/aurevoirsimone

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  1. djf says:

    Hey Roger Young, when are you gonna review more local albums? I can find a multitude of reviews for the likes of ARS all over cyberspace, but people making music on my doorstep get little to no coverage at all.

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  2. Roger Young says:

    Ja ja, but to exclude international music would be silly.

    That said. I listen to a lot of local music and right now there are maybe 3 albums worth talking about, the first Wrestlerish, which has yet to find a release, the Gary Thomas album which is only avaible by mail order and you’ll get to read that next week and the KingB album which has, wait for it, yet to find a release.

    There is a lot of average stuff out there and I only concern myself with the really good or the really bad. The stuff that makes me go meh? I mean why bother?

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  3. djf says:

    “The stuff that makes me go meh? I mean why bother?”

    ….well, so that others who may want to check it out get an informed opinion. There is a lot of local music being recorded and released at present and unfortunately very little of it gets reviewed. This, in my opinion, is one of the biggest current barriers to the development of SA recorded (and subsequently performed) contemporary music – there are plenty of talented people out there making a lot of effort to contribute recordings, but very few journalists willing to contribute towards putting all of this in perspective and to give the public an honest opinion and a more comprehensive view that will help quality music thrive in this country.

    Surely the silliest thing of all is that there are local bands who you believe in but that you do not write about, instead joining the minions across the globe who froth at the mouth over Wilco and ARS? And the fact that an album is not formally “released” (what does that really mean in this age of digital distribution anyway?) is no excuse to ignore it even though you believe in its merits? Maybe they’ve yet to get much attention because they haven’t had enough media coverage and….

    I’m finding it harder and harder to understand how anyone in South Africa can call themselves a half-decent music journalist while paying less attention to the stuff happening under their noses than the stuff on other continents that already enjoys saturated coverage.

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  4. Roger Young says:

    I’ll review anything that anyone wants me to. I’ve got three albums here that the bands have sent me and asked me not to put the reviews up until the distribution contracts are signed.

    I go to 3 live gigs a week, seeing about 6 bands, I watch 4 films a week, listen to about 4 new albums, local and international, and read two books. From that I select what excites me, I don’t discriminate between local or international. I think that by assuming because people are contributing they need to be spoken about is dangerous, we lower our standard for local product. And by discussing inferior or average product we validate it. I think the bigger releases that are average need to be discussed, esp if others are frothing about them. But I see and hear a lot of stuff and quite frankly it’s exhausting to constantly have to come up with new ways to say “this is crap and/or derivative”

    But I do appreciate the sentiment, purely because yes, why write about something that’s getting press elsewhere, esp if we are just going to echo that opinion, when there is so much happening here that people are not writing about. My principal reason for doing so is simple, I like to point to things I like that are accessible so that when I discuss stuff that isn’t regular readers will have an idea of my likes and dislikes so that they can base their choices on their perceptions of mine. It’s an ongoing conversation.

    We at mahala do this for the love of it, we do it for mahala, so I never pretend to be any semblance of a decent, half decent or merely passable journalist. I’m just a guy.

    But yes, thanks for your continued pushing, it makes us try harder. And I will.

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