French high schools leave a lot of wondering – are they just like us? Typical cliques, bad cafeteria food, the aimless crowding of indoctrinated education, all masked as formal necessity? Well the answer is probably yes and From The Basement can testify that they spent more of their time enjoying themselves and less their surroundings. These three music junkies took to listening parties on the campus benches where they would get lost in music, devote to creativity, and ultimately sow the seeds to growing a band worth notable success. Our stars of this story are Jean Alvarez, Maxime Troyano and Antoine Obitz. They took to their craft, but with a patience and knack for timing that most bands lack and often implode because of. After a two-year period of limited musical interaction they got back together and hit the studio to record a collection of songs bursting to get out.
From the start of the album I heard the bass and rim clicks of “Front House” imply a reggae feel. It was pure auditory association and I was soon disproved in theory when the drums never dropped the 1 and the guitar followed steady patterns instead of quick lifts with the pick. The mix intensifies and everything starts to drive upward until it ebbs away just before you wonder what’s next.
“Interlude I,” as the title might suggest, showcases instrumental work and acts as a bridge between moods. Constant deep drums hold the anchor to a bottomless groove while guitars pluck and shake to balance the treble. Points for originality on the noteworthy grooving in “Chasing Calm,” Obitz uses a lot of sensibility and restraint on the drums while Alvarez plays a sly guitar melody moving almost like something Chris Isaak messed around with in the 90s. And then there are birds chirping. The grand scheme moves into a soft focused beach ballad, interesting turn in this one. Give it a second listen right away.
“Interlude II” starts out with a little more avant-garde instrumentation than its predecessor. The synths blend in and out, the guitars harmonize in a wandering interval and the drums stay focused on a standard yet slightly swung rock beat. “Reward” has a light and fluttery feeling throughout until about the 2:30 minute mark. Things drop in tone and register to deliver some chunky grease rock. Still the flighty guitar lick comes in and the ear is spread with contrasting sound - a theme throughout Battles & Shields.
I find this group to be on to something. Something that will take shape with a little more fine tuning and public exposure. As an international group they have some serious relevancy here in the states and that says a lot. The French music scene is blossoming great artists and I personally can attest to having invested my time to listening and buying various French material. I’m excited for what’s to come in From The Basement’s future. As of right now, keep an eye out. They’ll be busy. They’ll be back.
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