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Nothing Will Ever Sound the Same: Francis and the Lights & The Gaslamp Killer

July 27th, 2010 by Jeff Simmermon

Nothing blows my skirt up around the earlobes like exciting new music. I’m not talking about a new album by a band that sounds like something that used to be awesome 30 years ago and is repackaging it for kids that don’t know any better. I’m talking about something strange and wild that pricks up the arm-hairs and makes you wonder what the hell kind of strange wind blows on the planet where these songs are sung.

I can’t get enough of the following two acts, so I thought I’d share ‘em with you guys …

Francis Flips

I first met Francis a few years ago when we nearly got into a fight at a bar in Williamsburg. I’m not proud of it. I doubt he is, either.

We got over it, fast, when Francis got on the stage and delivered some of the most heartfelt and refreshing jams I think I’ve ever seen live — before or since. Francis is a white dwarf of soul and meaning, performing with maximum density and immense heat and pressure, fusing hilarity and passionate funk. The end result is a diamond the size of Jupiter’s core — multifaceted, mysterious, worth a hell of a lot more than the ten bucks you’d get charged to take a peek.

Francis and the Lights have a new(ish) album out. It reminds me of those hits I heard on the radio in springtime in the ’80s, back when I had my first crush and the warming air made anything seem possible.

It’s embedded below (or after the jump), but I strongly recommend purchasing the album from iTunes. I particularly like “Tap the Phone” and “In a Limousine.”


I saw The Gaslamp Killer totally by accident at South by Southwest this year. My friend Giselle just said “hey come by, there’s this awesome DJ playing,” and I went mostly to hang with Giselle. Her text would have been a lot more accurate if she’d said “hey come by, there’s this scraggly spastic guy playing brain-melting beats that sound like weaponry from a distant planet.” The bass poured out of the speakers like invisible tar oozing over every single hair on my arms, thudding my adam’s apple like a kick drum while the DJ postured and gestured and flicked his arms and hair like the sorcerer’s apprentice practiced on a feather duster first while texting someone with his free hand.

This video pretty much sums up the live experience:

The Gaslamp Killer, Live @ The Drake, Sept 13 2009. Toronto. from mymanhenri on Vimeo.

He’s got this great ear for vintage Middle Eastern pop music, long lost movie soundtracks, deep bass and hard-edged robotic trills: pretty much all my favorite stuff, and I didn’t even know it. This is my favorite track off of his latest EP:

I’d recommend trying out “All Killer” as a lighter, more relaxing hourlong mix — still intense, dense, complicated an funky, but easier for people who aren’t as into the sound of slam-dancing androids. You can find that on iTunes here.

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