Tahiti 80, Fosbury
The French band Tahiti 80's latest CD is chock full of sunny disco-soul, with lead singer Xavier Boyer's ethereal voice soaring like a sleepy Smokey Robinson above graceful retro dance-pop arrangements. The best songs, like "Big Day," "Changes," and "Chinatown," get the blood flowing, while the gentle "Take Me Back" shows the band can do a spare little ballad just right. "Matter of Time" harks back to Motown. So does "Give It Away," which leads off the extra four-song EP that's been included with the US release. "Cherry Pie," by contrast, leans heavily on techno drums. Both sounds work for this inventive band.
The bonus EP also includes a reverent version of the Turtles' classic "Happy Together," which makes explicit the band's obvious (yet strangely little-noted by the press) debt to bubblegum pop.
There are a couple too many songs on the main CD, but Tahiti 80's curious, light, highly danceable and newly mature sound is very appealing. Listening to it one might think - just for a little while - that we don't live in such a troubled world after all.
You can hear several tracks at their Myspace page.
Carey Ott, Lucid Dream
Listening to Carey Ott's debut on Dualtone Records, I get a feeling of deja vu that often accompanies my first exposure to a singer-songwriter. But what am I hearing, exactly?
Are his high notes a little like Thom Yorke's? Yes, I suppose. Do the slow songs tinkle and droop like Tom Petty's? Yeah, but...
Oh, right. Of course. The Beatles!
In some songs, it's George Harrison, who I suspect might just be the most influential Beatle of all. In others, it's John Lennon. The CD opens with the highly hooky "Am I Just One," followed by "Daylight" in which a Radiohead influence is apparent, as it is in the gently insistent "Virginia." Vocally, Ott often suggests Ray Davies singing in tune, and his "It's Only Love" is clearly Kinks-inspired (in spite of having taken a Beatles song title).
"I Wouldn't Do That To You" is another top-notch song. Indeed Ott's knack for setting fine wordcraft to snappy melodies is evident throughout the CD. In "Shelf Life" he puts a Lennonesque effect on his voice to sing some of his most poetic lyrics: "Warsaw in winter, flowery graves/Can you still hear them whisper your name?/Afraid of the cold spots, caught in the tree tops/Love is a dogfight." He closes the lovely "Kickingstones" with a succinct declaration of the power of song: "Isn't love what you play for?/Don't you have all that you need?"