Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 28 & Mon 29 Oct.

Shipping news from Air

Fashion is a curious thing. With 1998’s Moon Safari, Air helped usher in both the 80s revival and the French pop arrival. Now you can’t move for boy and girl bands cover versions of dubious 80$ standards (of which Westlife and Mariah Carey’s ‘Against All Odds’ was surely the nadir), although we’re still waiting for a few more credible French acts.

After the immense success of Moon Safari (two million sales and counting), Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel were cool enough to count David Lynch as a fan, and edgy enough to be asked to score Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut The Virgin Suicides. Then they had kids, hit thirty and discovered prog rock. Recent gigs have seen Dunckel, walled in by banks of keyboards, don a Dracula-style cape (spiky collar and all) for the two to wade through the largely downbeat material showcased on 10 000 Hz Legend. It’s a far cry from the days of tea, spliff and ‘All | Need’ on the stereo. If Moon Safari was an album to still the beating heart and lift the spirits of the most washed- up party freak, there are times when its successor feels as dark as night, and a hell of a lot scarier.

The band have refuted such suggestions, declaring in one interview that it is in fact a more upbeat album than their breakthrough release. ‘lt’s an explosion of things,’ according to Godin. ‘lt’s an album of life and energy. But it’s not dark. I haven’t suffered anything. Too many artists think being sad gives them credibility. It’s not true. We try to forget our troubles when we make music.’

Godin may be being a little disingenuous the album is certainly not free of troubled emotion but there is a certain joy and real serenity to 10 000 Hz Legend. And the album’s varied textures, with strumming guitars nestling alongside moog synths, electronic beats and distorted vocals, clearly owe as much to dance, trip hop, pop and even country as they do to Yes or Pink Floyd.

Asked to describe the band’s future, Dunckel has in the past taken refuge in Eric Cantona-isms. ‘Air is like a boat,’ he says, ‘and occasionally there are storms. We are part of a family now, with the people who work with us. We feel responsible towards them. A boat is always safer in the harbour, but then it isn’t going anywhere.’ Where their Barrowland dates take them remains to be seen, but it is unlikely to be quite anywhere the audience have been before. (James Smart)


TRANS AM & THE FUCKING CHAMPS 13th Note Club, Glasgow, Tue 23 Oct; Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh. Fri 25 Oct.

'l don't mind any of our albums being called concept albums.’ says an unabashed Phil Manley from the grandly titled NatiOnal Recording Studios in Washrngton DC. ‘The last three Trans Am albums have all been concept albums. The most recent The Red Line may have been more of a mrsh-mash than the previous two but it was still a concept album. I'm not ashamed of that description."

Here is a band better equipped than most to face down one of rock's greatest cvrls. Part- Morphrne. part-Thrn Liz/y. and part-Krattwerk, Trans Am have created some of the best heads down. no-nonsense electro-boogie Since rock went post. Fear not the ‘concept' however. Trans Am use it as a means of presentrng therr albums rather than the way rn which they have dribbled into their navels in a Lamb Lies Down On Broadway style.

Trans Am have no concept of bad taste

They are also ‘.'.rorkrnd wrth concepts that have a better lllf3l()l'\,' r a superb t P [)oub/e [ .x'posur'e made wrth brothers in electroroek l'he Hickrrig Champs has last been released. its an idea that we kind of modelled on the Minute Men

Black Flag collaboration ol the early

8()s.' s; ys Manley. 'We argued over the name for a whrle. \"u’e always thought that trans ()hamps was the best name but the Fucking Champs thought The iuekrnd Arri was better.'

They have also yet to unior‘ix out

exactly hoax/1:: ttl'illtl the-E i) to on stage- at the moment the Champs are r;lo\.'.'r‘ as sup: xvi. max, rust be a L ed‘ /er‘ jarr‘m l()§)(}lll(1'l' for the e'i<:<:~r'i;~. ()7 ma. actually sort soirietnrnu :tatf \i"-./hate‘.’er' the“, (1:: sort {but 'r; ‘.'.'o"th lll‘.’(?f§ll(_]£ttlllt_t. HUI" tia'izls pride lll(}ll‘f3(}l\.'t}f; o'i t'iet' performances thouu". aw: a healthy r'rxalrj, has .2:?‘.(?t)l,i-il 0' past tours, 't's at! grist town: full on rock and rat] says Ma'fiez. Now there's a concept. ‘illll Abrahams

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Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Fri 19 Oct; OMU, Glasgow, Sun 21 Oct.

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