Few groups have left the impression that this trio did when we first saw them perform at this year's Rock Make Street Festival, where they delivered a compelling performance combining the precision of prog- and math-rock with an addictive melodic streak. It's the rare band that can balance equal parts heaviness and catchiness without coming off as a disjointed mess, and French Miami manages to fuse the two with impeccable skill.
While the guys won us over with their live show, last week they celebrated the release of their first full length effort, a self-titled album on Dinner Party Records. Working with Phil Manley (Trans Am/The F---ing Champs), French Miami (the album) captures the bassless trio's big sound well. It's a brawny record full of sharp interplay between multi-instrumentalists Jay Heiselmann and Roland Curtis on compositions that favor repetition and dynamic shifts. Heiselmann's vocals shift and adapt to the music as it goes, and he can be Mackaye-intense or Ocasek-poppy as each phrase requires. It's an impressive release from a creative group that we hope will emerge as one of the Bay Area's breakout bands in 2009.
We sat down with Roland, Jay, and drummer Chris Crawford a few weeks ago to discuss the band's early quest to find a sound, as well as the inspiration behind the band members' interest in music. Along with the interview, we've included four songs from the new album.
Friday, December 19th
Bottom of the Hill
with Happy Hollows (Los Angeles) and Master/Slave