Art June 17, 2009 By Timothy Gunatilaka

lelouch title Lelouche

A couple weeks ago we posted an interview with Phoenix’s Thomas Mars in which the singer discussed the far-flung influences on the band’s latest record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Among the varied sources from film and literature was the short film C’était un Rendez-vous. As huge fans ourselves, we thought we’d post Claude Lelouch’s 1976 short separately to make sure everyone could check out this lost classic. Mars succinctly describes the film as a “really dangerous drive,” depicting a law-shattering, first-person thrill ride at dawn aboard a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL. Are we watching a high-speed chase between cops and robbers through the streets of Paris? Or merely a daredevil tour of the city’s most beloved landmarks? We’ll let you find out for yourself.

Music May 25, 2009 By Timothy Gunatilaka
phoenix2 Phoenix
Photography by Pascal Textiera

phoenix title Phoenix

Despite name-dropping Mozart and Franz Liszt, one would certainly be hard-pressed to discern any obvious classical currents on Phoenix’s new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and its lead single “Lisztomania”. And perhaps this is the French four-piece’s master plan; for a record whose cover art shows technicolor bombs about to explode, understated subversion hardly seems the point.  “Vandalism” is the word Thomas Mars initially employs in trying to explain the album’s off-kilter title and overarching ethos, comparing the act of affixing one’s own band to the surname of the composer-god to “a kid drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. It’s like pop art. You take culture and make it your own.”
     Vandalism, culture clash, chaos, contradiction, and brats — such words and concepts appear and reappear throughout Mars’ slightly fractured-English account of his band’s fourth album. Clad in faded leather boots, artfully torn blue jeans and collared shirt, the singer sat down with PLANET over soda at the sun-drenched hotel lounge of NYC’s Thompson LES to discuss the album, the importance of chaos and culture clash, tourism in Versailles, and the magic of fatherhood. (Mars and girlfriend Sofia Coppola welcomed daughter Romy in 2006.)

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1901 Alan Wilkis Remix

Music May 1, 2009 By Timothy Gunatilaka
faunts Faunts
Friendly Fire

faunts title Faunts

This Edmonton act conjures up comparisons to the Notwist and New Order by lushly blending glacial electronics, a haze of shoegaze guitars, and the demure vocals of brothers Steve and Tim Batke. The band has followed their dreamy yet dynamic second album (released in February), Feel. Love. Thinking. Of. with three new remixes now available on iTunes. Mexicans with Guns cuts up “Feel. Love. Thinking. Of.” into a cubist collage shaded with sinister flashes of dubstep. Meanwhile, Belgian disco auteurs Villa refracts the wistful tenor of the title track through a glitchy breakdown worthy of DFA Records’ most jubilant grooves.

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Music April 10, 2009 By Timothy Gunatilaka
lashes1 Bat for Lashes

lashes title1 Bat for Lashes

British mystic Natasha Khan (formally known as Bat For Lashes) has conjured up a monumentally beautiful and eerily poignant follow up to her breakthrough debut Fur and Gold. A lingering potion of Khan’s siren’s call, pagan percussions, and hypnotic synths drives opener “Glass” and surges similarly throughout standouts “Daniel” and “Pearl’s Dream” (which feature Brooklyn tribalists Yeasayer). The delicate pianos and numinous croon of “Moon and Moon” and “Travelling Woman”, meanwhile, bring Kate Bush to mind. Two Suns purports to be a concept piece pitting Khan’s spiritual side against her supposed second persona, a blonde femme fatale named Pearl. Yet, as intricately as the record’s eleven compositions twist and turn, the bipolar pathology looms in name only — and perhaps from an aural standpoint this is for the best. Purported identity crises aside, Two Suns proclaims Khan as a singular talent for this world and beyond.

Greenspace, Music November 18, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
los Los Campesinos
Photography by Jon Bergman

los title1 Los Campesinos

Los Campesinos! are fighting a war. And given that the Spanish word los campesinos translates loosely to “the peasants”, images of Franco and the Spanish Civil War can’t be far behind. But while this Welsh outfit is indeed in the midst of a revolution, the war is being waged between digital technologies and archaic modes of production. This is not to say Los Campesinos are Marxists, or even Luddites, but they do aspire to preserve something more precious: the materiality of musical culture.
     In just the last year, their song “You! Me! Dancing!” quickly turned from breakout single to an imperative mandate at hipster dance parties in lofts across the globe. Yet, less than eight months after releasing their debut Hold on Now, Youngster…, the band has already put out an ambitious second full-length, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed, whose parameters extend far beyond mere music. Only 5,000 hard copies will be released, and there will be no singles. But the limited-edition boxes come with a DVD documentary and a fanzine featuring contributions from Xiu Xiu, Grandaddy, and Menomena.
     “With MP3s now so easy to obtain, there has to be an incentive to want the physical product,” laments frontman Gareth (who refuses to share his actual surname). “As a fan, that should be part of the excitement, and something that’s now missing with a lot of music.

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Music November 17, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
killers The Killers

killers title The Killers

After conquering the charts with the electro-pop of Hot Fuss and polarizing critics with the epic Americana of Sam’s Town, the Las Vegas rockers return with a third album that adeptly synthesizes the disco bombast and rustic sweep of its respective predecessors. It may be hard to take Brandon Flowers seriously on “Joy Ride”, when he so desperately labors to mimic Bruce Springsteen, crooning about “rattlesnakes of romance” that frolic in the rain. Yet on standouts “Losing Touch” and “Spaceman”, the futuristic synths and guitars and funky bass and brass lines fuse to ignite an unforgettable fire.

Music September 5, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
dungen1 Dungen

dungen title1 Dungen

Largely the project of Swedish singer and multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes, the psychedelic rock revivalists return with their signature spectral guitar solos, primitive and groovy beats, and jazzy flights of flute. On this fourth album, Ejstes has delegated, among other instruments, guitar duties to longtime collaborator Reine Fiske in order to focus on song structures, piano-playing, and vocals that are tender with a touch of menace. Highlighted by the warming harmonies of “Mina Damer och Fasaner”, the resulting ten songs present a band (in its truest sense) that’s tighter and more elegant than ever.

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Music September 4, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
airborne Airborne Toxic Event
Photography by Dan Monick

airborne title Airborne Toxic Event

It can all change in a week. Life, death, love, indie rock trends—these are products of moments, not years. Everything can come together, or fall apart, in a flash. For Mikel Jollett, it all changed in March 2006. A writer, Jollett had just started his first novel. Those plans were quickly derailed in days. His mother was diagnosed with cancer, to match his terminally ill father. Jollett himself was diagnosed with a genetic autoimmune disorder, then pneumonia. And he broke up with a longtime girlfriend. “All this shit happened in the same week,” he recalls. “Everyone was sick. I felt sick. I felt everyone was dying. I thought I was going to lose my mind.” One day, Jollett picked up a guitar. He played for four hours straight. The next day, he played for six hours. Then eight hours. Everyday. For a year. “Out of nowhere,” he says, “I realized suddenly I had all this music in me.” As full-fledged songs soon developed, Jollett enlisted mutual friends from the Los Angeles area — drummer Daren Taylor, violinist Anna Bulbrook, bassist Noah Harmon, and guitarist Steven Chen — to form the Airborne Toxic Event.

Music June 4, 2008 By Timothy Gunatilaka
notwist The Notwist
City Slang/Domino

thenotwist title The Notwist

Over two decades, the Notwist have dabbled in both the chugging riffs of indie rock and the synth-glitches of electropop. But six years after the landmark Neon Golden — a gorgeous and infectious album that presaged the appeal of Postal Service — the German quartet has returned with a more melancholic affair. Somber acoustics and wistful vocals suffuse songs like “Gone Gone Gone” and the title track in starkness. “Good Lies” and “Gloomy Planets” both open with gentle strums but soon ignite into an epic swirl of binary blips and whirring synths. It all makes for another superb sonic odyssey.

Tom Waits, 1992. Bleddyn Butcher/Rex USA