MySpaced Out: Fortress Europe
The Mouflettes (Lille, France): Even if you don’t speak French, it doesn’t take much listening or imagination to get what “mouflettes” means. These electronica hell-kittens set a high standard for Eurotrash as they crash through tongue-in-cheek techno sleazers like “Bicky Burger” and “Minou” (the double entendre of the cat sounds is unmistakable as the smell of a catbox). Marlene Dietrich would be proud.
Akyla Khem (Bologna, Italy): Blondie meets the Black Keys at the psych ward. This Italian graphic artist/minimalist blues-rocker sings like an animal that would gnaw your arm off if you tried to pet her, and plays her guitar like it’s something that needs punishment. As beautiful as her paintings, photographs and chalks are, it’s her garage ethic that separates her from 99 percent of Italian MySpace music acts. The live tracks rip your ears off.
The dø (Helsinki/Paris): Finnish duo Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy deliver some of the darkest, coolest pop since the Breeders. Tracks like “The Bridge is Broken” and “On My Shoulders” are just grunge enough to keep the prettiness factor in control (and Merilahti’s voice is undoubtedly pretty). The dø on a bill with Rilo Kiley would be magic.
Arcahuetas (Bordeaux, France): Like cricket, French rock is a hard game to follow if you don’t speak French. Greggory Desgranges and his cohorts have created a very effective meld of American roots-rock and Euro-chic. Songs like “A la Errol Flynn” would play well even in American clubs. Charles Aznavour and Charles Boyer, meet Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins.
The Micragirls (Helsinki): Finding The Micragirls in cyberspace is like learning your home is sitting on a nuclear waste dump – but it’s going to be good for you! Another Link Wray offshoot in the Hives/Strokes tradition, with “Queen of the Cavemen” these garage-rock mamacitas suggest it was probably the women who were knocking the guys down with clubs, dragging them by the hair back to the cave, and having their way with them.
Lola Ces (Paris): Ces delivers smart, funny French pop filled with irony, self-deprecation and you-gotta-mouth-on-you sass. Her hilarious “Accro du Shopping” makes a perfect antidote for an overdose of Christmas insanity (the live video is on repeat in my head). When she switches to straight lounge-jazz on “Anamorphose” and “Dependante,” the legitimacy of her vision and talent is undeniable.
Rød Mix (Birkeland, Norway): I was skeptical when I saw the song title “Firehjulingtur ATV” (turns out it’s about riding four-wheelers in the backwoods), but in six songs these cowboy Vikings very effectively covered the alt-country gamut from honky-tonk to biker-bar rockers. Since they’re singing in Norwegian, it’s like listening to border radio: you only catch a few words, but woman trouble and ennui are recognizable in any language. The voices go right through you. – William Michael Smith