Song of the day: Megaphone Ou La Mort – "La Poésie Du Travail"

It’s been ages since a band contacted me and asked if I’d mention their music here, so I was thrilled when I received an email last week by a band asking me to mention them. Thrilled!

The band is Megaphone Ou La Mort and they’re from Spain. I was going to mention how unbelievably cosmopolitan they are (they’re based in Spain but the band members are from different European countries) and try to describe their music, but they’ve done it for me with their comprehensive blurb.

One comprehensive blurb comin’ up…

How do two Argentinians, two Spaniards and a French-English bloke team up in Valencia to create this compendium for the darkly inclined?

Well, we could start with influences, couldn’t we?

The list is endless: New York’s new wave punk scene (Television, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Richard Hell), Jean-Pierre Léaud‘s aloofness, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh‘s kitchen sink dramas, Marlon Brando, The Fall, Mr. Mojo Rising, Charles Bukowski, Happy Mondays, New York’s urban subculture in the 1980s seen through the eyes of Jean-Pierre Basquiat, French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, The Smiths, William S. Burroughs, Robert Bresson‘s minimalism, tango, the angelic whispering voice of Chet Baker, Montgomery Clift‘s sad eyes, The Clash, Alain Delon‘s savage beauty in the seventies, Michel Houellebecq‘s nihilism etc. Artists that have considerably inspired and shaped MEGAPHONE OU LA MORT’s sound and vision.

But there might be other motives behind such an unusual union, another necessity at stake. A common disgust, misanthropy perhaps? This world’s cold apathy, grotesqueness or simply man’s obsession with technology and materialism? There’s no bitter resignation here but a real need to spit “it” out.

Two demos (2006’s self-titled “MEGAPHONE OU LA MORT” and 2007’s “THE TEARS, THE HANGOVER, THE FEAR”) gained them rave reviews nationally and coupled with intense, chaotic live gigs eventually led to the recording of their debut CD, Camarade Coma, released in November 2008 and produced by JOSÉ LUIS MACIAS.

If you had already seen MEGAPHONE OU LA MORT in concert, you were in for a treat. The record managed to capture the crude live sound of the band while incorporating sophisticated arrangements. Camarade Coma contains 12 beautifully crafted pop-rock songs, including “Chérie”, with its irresistible bass riff and lyrics full of sexual desperation and chemical decay, and “Le Garçon Rêvé”, a late night lullaby haunted by Paris’ backstreets and dreamy melancholy.

Critically acclaimed musician and author Anthony Reynolds summed it up best: “FEARLESS!” he said after MEGAPHONE OU LA MORT’s 2009 fierce live set at the FNAC record store in Valencia.

(I liked how they were influenced by Montgomery Clift’s sad eyes. There aren’t too many bands around nowadays that are influenced by people’s eyes.)

The band sent me a link to their debut album, 2008’s Camarade Coma, and when I started listening to it I wondered if the guys in the band had chosen the wrong blogger. For example, as I listened to the opening track I was thinking “This is power pop?”.

See what you think:

1. “La Poésie Du Travail

As far as I’m concerned, that ain’t power pop.

So they’re not a power pop band. Fair enough. I was thinking that maybe they sounded more like a moody rock band.

Enter track 2:

2. “Pina Pellicer

Yep. They’re moody alright.

More mood:

3. “Nuit Sans Nuances

By the way, although the blurb above mentioned that the band was influenced by all those impossibly cool people, I reckon Megaphone Ou La Mort can add one more influence to their list. This song reminded me of The Cure:

4. “Chérie

As I listened to more of the album, I kept thinking “Hmm, this sure is moody“…

5. “Sunday Kid

And:

6. “Party Doll

Actually, “Party Doll” is probably the poppiest song on the album.

There was one song that I flat-out didn’t like (“Dolce Vita”), but that was only because of the drum beat in the verses. It’s a beat that I’ve always detested, because every time I hear it I’m reminded of those dreary English bands from the late 70’s like Joy Division, New Order, Echo And The Bunnymen et al, with their “life is too painful and what’s the point of anything” sentiments. I loathe that drum beat:

7. “Dolce Vita

I thought “Esquisse D’un Homme Précaire” was alright, although I’m not entirely sure what it means:

8. “Esquisse D’un Homme Précaire

Things got really continental on “Le Garçon Rêvé”, with pizzicato violins and acoustic guitars playing minor chords:

9. “Le Garçon Rêvé

Maybe it translates as “exquisite man in a precarious position”. (Note to self: Just get out of your chair, Peter, go to the bookshelf, and grab that French-English dictionary…)

And then there were two more songs in a similar vein to what I’d been listening to for the previous half hour:

10. “Wasted

11. “City Song

The last song on the album, “Lutter”, started off unpromisingly for me with some unpleasant sound effects for the first 19 seconds but then it settled down into a regular song:

12. “Lutter

I’ve listened to the album five times now (I have a policy of listening to something at least three times before I make up my mind, and here it took me ’til the third listen before I ‘got’ the music), and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a bit too arty and “cool” for my liking. (I am one uncool listener.) Nevertheless, I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to listen to it (thanks, guys!) because I’m always keen on hearing music I haven’t heard before. And I can honestly say that I haven’t heard this music before. (Trust me: I’ve never heard a multicultural band based in Spain and singing in French before. Ever.) You might respond to it more than I did. If you did, then I have some good news and bad news… The good news: because the band is currently label-less, the chaps/gents/lads/hombres/hommes wanted me to let you know that they don’t mind at all if you download the entire album for free. You can’t argue with a 100% discount*. The bad news: The band is currently label-less. Now, I don’t know the inner workings of the modern music industry, but I can’t see how being without a label can be terribly helpful to a band. I suppose it could mean that the band might not get the chance to make another record. I hope that Megaphone Ou La Mort do get themselves a label, if only to make poppier songs than the ones they’ve already made. (Yes, I’m fully aware that bands don’t make records just for me, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the band said something along the lines of: “Get over yourself, Peter. We make songs for ourselves, not for some blogging fool down in Australia.”) But anyway, that’s Megaphone Ou La Mort. Official website Megaphone Ou La Mort on MySpace Megaphone Ou La Mort on Facebook Megaphone Ou La Mort’s channel on YouTube Megaphone Ou La Mort on Fotolog (*Well, I guess you can argue with a 100% discount if you: a] thoroughly loathe the songs; or b] simply refuse to listen to rock songs sung in French; or even c] have a twisted personal policy on paying for music: “I won’t listen to music I haven’t paid for. No way! You can’t make me!”)

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