Thomas, Branco, Deck and Chris, otherwise known as Phoenix, are our first French controllers hailing from Versailles, a suburb of Paris famous for its impressive palace. What the Kings of France would have thought of Phoenix’s unmistakable brand of dance-rock we’ll never know but they’re no strangers to French royalty of another kind: the band actually got their break as a backing band for Air and they also count Daft Punk, Etienne de Crecy and Cassius ‘et al’ amongst their close friends.
We’ll have more on all that later in the month but we can reveal this snippet from Chris now, “we have a friendly sense of competition with Air when we are both working on new albums, sometimes we finish music at the same time and we get together to listen and see whose album is best, then have a dinner and some wine and we’re friends again”
That all sounds very civilised to us, but the sense of brotherly love within the band and with their friends isn’t all coincidence. Like the Black Lips last month there are genuine brothers in Phoenix (Branco and Chris) but they’ve been playing together for so long they may as well all be siblings. The band started in the early 90s when they were just 13 and not only does this familiarity help them make beautiful music together but also affects the way they discover music new and old: a lot of the music you’re going to hear about in the next month comes filtered through the minds of four people thinking together as one, at times it borders on spooky.
They officially became Phoenix in 1996 but didn’t release their debut album, ‘United’ until 2000. It’s here that you’ll find what’s arguably their best-loved single here in the UK, ‘If I Ever Feel Better’, a euphoric slice of feel good electro-rock that hit these shores like a breath of fresh air when Brit pop had gone stale. Chris from the band is quick to point out that although the song was widely received as a happy-go-lucky kind of track there was something darker at work in there. “On ‘If I Ever Feel Better’ everyone saw it as a party track but we always found that funny because the lyrics are very sad, like ‘no one knows me and I’m lonely,’” he explains.
Unexpected contrasts are looking like a bit of a theme; musically Phoenix have given us a huge range of stuff to shine a light on , from the bubblegum R&B of T-Pain to a series of keyboard music based on the twelve apostles its all to come here on CTRL throughout September.
Fast forward nine years from their debut and the group have enjoyed worldwide success with three more albums, the most recent being, ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ produced by their old mate Philippe Zdar from Cassius. We have signed copies, gig tickets and other good stuff coming up as prizes later this month, so add us as a friend if you haven’t already to be in with a chance of winning those and check back later this week for a whole load of those new music recommendations.
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