The UnLive | Albums: Good Friends Only I Could See by The French Semester
Posted on March 11, 2010 by Greg
Good Friends Only I Could See came out in 2009, but a friend recently brought it to The UnCool’s attention. The French Semester is a 5-piece band from Los Angeles, and this is their second full album. They have listed influences such as Guided By Voices, Peter Tosh, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Who, The Clash and The Flaming Lips among many others on their MySpace site. Quite a varied and exciting-sounding mix, but I don’t really hear any of those influences in their album. The French Semester mostly sounds like The Velvet Underground minus Nico plus Prozac. It’s home-made and deliberately garage-sounding, but without the explosions of wild, artsy ambition that you get from the Velvets. Good Friends… is a sleepy little affair. All the songs float from one to the next with the urgency of a tropical breeze. None of their tunes are particularly bad, none particularly great.
The way they talk on their website, one would expect a wild convergence of different energies: “Forged from diverse experience in homelands afield such as Vietnam, India, and the Phillipines… (an) ear-pleasing live set that usually ends in a flurry of dancing bodies.” I’m thinking lots of drums… maybe a sitar? Some traditional Asian instruments? Maybe different languages mixed in? Nope. They sound like American guys making indie pop.
Maybe their live show has a ton more energy, but I have a lot of trouble imagining a “flurry of dancing bodies,” at a French Semester gig. All I can imagine is people standing a few feet back from the stage, gently bobbing their heads and sipping their PBRs. That’s pretty much what indie kids do at full-on rock shows these days, so I don’t see how this gently rolling little outfit would provoke anything different.
For me, this is background music. It’s good for playing when you want music on, but you don’t want it to dominate. I wouldn’t spend a full semester with ‘em… a few select occasions will do just fine.
5 of 10
–Greg at The UnCool
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