Posts Tagged ‘Le Villejuif Underground’

The Villejuif Underground

The road to Villejuif’s last record came via a long since obscured and by now largely forgotten indie out of Australia by Camperdown and Out. The band’s lone Popfrenzy LP was a slacker joyride lead by the unfussed grizzle of Nathan Roche. It was a brief candle that was snuffed by circumstance when Roche jumped ship on Australia and headed for France. Once there, though, he cobbled a crew of shoestring slingers that injected the original Camperdown spirit with a dose of Beat Happening clatter and even more leathered laconic sneer. Roche, in his compulsion for geographical puns, dubbed the band Le Villejuif Underground, after the Parisian neighborhood they called home, but the band echoes more than a little of the aloof indignance of their more famous VU forbears.

Though, it must be said, Villejuif is far from Avant and hardly Art Rock. The band is the aural embodiment of a duct taped bass and a Korg with a stuck key. They’re dirt rock and loving it. The sophomore album only embraces this aesthetic further – celebrating backpacking trips, haunted castles, scenes and subscenes all with the mumbled grace of a Stereopathic-era Beck four gins deep. There’s a sense that The Villejuif Underground are both excellent and terrible party guests – they crack effortless jokes and know everyone in the room, but come morning there are limes in the toilet tank and at least one of them wore your slippers home after pelting onlookers with their own shoes from the balcony.

There’s a hipswung grace to When Will The Flies in Dauville Drop?. Roche is convening at the corner of Vaudeville and Bowery (circa ’77) – a poet laureate for the torn t-shirt all-nighters among us. The album burns quick, but the smoke lingers long into the next morning, stuck like hangover cottonmoth to the wrinkles of your brain. With their second LP, the band proves its more than just a whim and already outpacing Camperdown’s legacy.



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RSTB Best of 2016 (so far)

Ok, so deep down I know that the half-year best-of rundown is becoming an expected bit of mid-year clickbait listicle self-love. It’s a totem that’s somewhat unnecessary, seeing how at the end of the year votes get tallied and the same releases get pondered. But since I also have the nagging gnaw that a culture of collective consciousness music press will result in plenty of homogeneous diatribes about what’s been considered the cream of ’16, I figure that it’s worth it to shine some light on a few deserving entities that are gonna to be left out of the party.

Some outlets have gone so far as to tell the world that 2016 has been super stressful for them, what with all the surprise albums needing their immediate attention. Sleepless nights in the review mines, I’m sure. Caffeinated burns through the wee hours that are called upon because absorption of albums over time is heresy these days. No time to listen deep because those other sites are stealin’ your views, siphoning clicks, and by next week those cuts will be far too stale to talk about anyhow. RSTB’s always there to let you know that sometimes its OK to let an album fester under your skin a while. Review it late, review it early, but maybe listen long enough to learn how it impacts you—or at least how it sounds in the car vs. the speakers vs. the headphones.

I’m starting to think that sometimes best should be more relative and less quantitative, and maybe it might be fun if there were a few more outlets with a true voice. But, so went the airwaves, so go the reviews, eh? Ah, maybe I’m just old fashioned. Anyhow, here are the picks. Remember RSTB is never content (n.), and never content (adj.).

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Le Villejuif Underground

I must be slipping in my old age. How is it that the first time I wrote up Le Villejuif Underground’s single “Since Everything Changes,” I didn’t realize that despite a move of country, the Aussie expat in question, Nathan Roche, was from RSTB fave Camperdown and Out? I must have been too excited about the sounds, but its an egregious oversight nonetheless. Camperdown’s record is by far and away one of those nuggets of brilliance that surfaced and then just disappeared without a trace. They perfectly boiled ’90s influences into the kind of reclined and worn slacker pop that feels like its always just been a part of your life. In that respect, Roche, with his new band are still finding their way down the roads of no particular haste with the same detached slink. True to the city pun this time ’round there’s more of a slackadaisical lean on the Lou Reed river of cool, but not to worry Camperdown fans, the Pavement vein still runs thick. Its just that now Roche is tracing the the tributary from Malkmus to Reed in reverse.

This is the record that acts as a salve for your pent up hopes on Parquet Courts. Its your true north star of bummed out bodega cool, late summer saunter and ground down penniless amble. Everything on their eponymous LP feels like the oldest sweater in your drawer; comfortable, stained and putting on airs for no one. Roche is the only holdover from the Camperdown dates, but he’s trained his new recruits well, they inhabit the rumpled reins of his songwriting with a kind of grace that feels effortless, but never lazy. Its noisy, scarred and bruised but not broken. Its the only way to follow up Camperdown. Drop the mic on one act and pick up in a different town, at a different time with a different name. Its the aimless drift of pop that needs to be in your life. LVF aren’t going to insist on anything but they will help you avoid responsibility for a little while. And is that too much to ask?




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Le Villejuif Underground – “Since Everything Changes”

Ah man I’m slipping in my old age. France’s SDZ is a constant source of joy that I’d been remiss about checking up with, but this new slice of slackened and slumped pop via Le Villejuif Underground, who understandably know that their Velvet Underground worship is front and center, is a perfect antidote to what’s got ya down. The track is from their upcoming album for the veteran French label and it’s perfectly downbeat and shaggy, with mussed hair, rolling out of bed at three PM and wondering if it is, in fact a weekday. The band is headed by Aussie expat Nathan Roche and takes their name from the village of Villejuif in which they reside. There’s no shortage of bands that can’t get the Lou Reed monkey off their back but when you know how to inhabit those blues in a way that feels like a comfortable pair of shoes you’ve had all your life, then fuck if I’m the one who’s going to tell you that you can’t pull it off.


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