Category: Phoenix

Pop music review: Phoenix at the Hollywood Bowl

phoenix hollywood bowl
In Phoenix's video for its early single “Too Young,” the French pop-rock band worked at a fish-packing plant. It's a strange scene in itself — these guys were way too good-looking and, in the case of singer Thomas Mars, attached to one too many Coppolas (he has two children with Sofia) to be slinging crates of tuna around a pier. And the band's songs were anything but blue collar — Phoenix's creamy synthesizers and lockstep funk guitar suggested rock music as made by people who know every club doorman in town.

So it's strange to see that Phoenix, of all bands, actually has become a rock act for the working stiff in 2010. You don't sell out the Hollywood Bowl in a vicious live-music economy, as the band did Saturday night, without winning over at least a few folks who might actually hustle the docks by day.
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And here's a video of schoolchildren singing Phoenix's 'Lisztomania'

Because it's almost Friday and we're not made of stone, people. Go spend the rest of your afternoon on the YouTube page of the PS22 Chorus in Staten Island, N.Y., right now. (Hat tip: Ezra.)

-- August Brown

On the charts: Pearl Jam's Target adventure, Phoenix rising and Whitney's steady


Return to form: With "Backspacer," Pearl Jam scores its first No. 1 album in 13 years, Billboard reports. The set sold 190,000 copies in its first week in stores, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's Pearl Jam's first release outside the major label system, but the band wasn't exactly going the DIY-route. In a move that surprised fans, Pearl Jam lined up with big box retailer Target for the exclusive release.

Long associated with an anti-corporate stance, Pearl Jam avoided major fan criticism by still allowing the album to be sold at indie shops and Apple's iTunes store. While "Backspacer" failed to land on the chart with the same impact of 2006's self-titled effort, which opened with 279,000 copies, it is on par with Target's other recent exclusive. Earlier this year, Prince went with the retailer, and ended up with the album "LotusFlow3r" landing at No. 2 after selling 168,000 copies.

Diva tales: It's another solid week for Whitney Houston. Her "I Look to You" is at No. 4 this week, selling 66,000 copies. That's a dip from last week, when she sold 156,000 copies -- a post-"Oprah" sales bump -- but brings her total to 620,000 copies sold to date. That's good news for Houston as the industry heads into the holiday season. With depressed sales making it relatively easy for a brand-name artist to stay in the top 20, Houston should be on target to rack up a bevy of Grammy nominations if she can maintain a consistent sales base.

Expect her to be joined on the chart next week by another diva -- Mariah Carey. Digital downloads of Carey's "Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel" are expected to be solid, as the album is currently retailing at for a budget price of $5.99. But album sales may not be a real indicator for the success of "Angel," as it's a truly ad-supported release, coming complete with sponsored liner notes.

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Live review: Phoenix at the Greek Theatre


The French guitar-pop act Phoenix is a small band that, in the course of doing many little things right, has somehow become a very big one. After the success of the band's fizzy, fantastically named album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" this year, its set at the Greek Theatre on Wednesday night fulfilled the ambitions of mainstreaming indie rock.

It's no mean feat to get thousands of very non-Continental fans to shimmy to meticulous, synth-besotted tunes with lyrics about Franz Liszt. But Phoenix is so casually precise in its pop that its pleasures have a way of sneaking up on just about anyone.

There are various bullet points one must mention when talking about Phoenix. Singer Thomas Mars has a child with director Sofia Coppola, the group had a breakthrough with the tune "Too Young" in her film "Lost in Translation," and they are probably the best-dressed band in rock today. If any performers are wearing scarves and guitars better, they're keeping a low profile.

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