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France’s forceful foursome Heming Wave knocked me out with their aggressive, atmospheric alterna-rock on 2014’s Our Romance Ghost EP and 2015’s seven-song follow-up My Electric Nights. Sadly, their stint was short-lived, as the band has evidently ended. But they’ve now morphed into this trio (their name is a nod to Le Régent, a much-frequented bar on Boulevard Lafayette in the band’s hometown of Clermont-Ferrand), whose two former Heming Wavers – singer/guitarist Jean-Pierre Bonnetier (now on bass) and drummer Arthur Villaneau – are joined by a new recruit, guitarist Clément Peyronnet. However, the brash and bracing U.K. Britpop influences that Heming Wave invoked – from Catherine Wheel and The Verve to Maxïmo Park and Editors – have been sidelined in favor of a more strident, stentorian style.
Look no further than on the lethargic, lurching opener “No Excuse,” which marries bludgeoning ‘70s blues-rock, sludgy doom-psych, and grimy garage; imagine Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxey Lady” being slowed down to half-speed. On it, Peyronnet’s piercing guitar screeches like the brakes of a runaway freight train, while Bonnetier’s distortion-dripping bass rumbles like hordes of heaving hippos. And on the even murkier “Cocaine Me,” the gooey, glutinous rhythms of Bonnetier and Villaneau burble and belch like molten magma. Even their cover of fellow Clermont-Ferrand folk-pop duo Cocoon’s lighthearted ukulele song “Chupee” (from their 2007 debut LP My Friends All Died in a Plane Crash, whose title Lafayette Regency in turn appropriated for this album; both parody punk poet Jim Carroll’s 1980 song “People Who Died” and its “They were all my friends, and they died” line) is transformed into a lumbering, laborious leviathan, and topped off with Bonnetier’s yelp-punctuated, lung-lacerating bellow.
Blending Catherine Wheel’s Rob Dickinson and a more manic, moping Jim Morrison, Bonnetier always sounds like he’s on the brink of a breakdown. On the frenzied “Frances!,” he rages like a booze-addled Marlon Brando on a Stella-seeking rampage in A Streetcar Named Desire, while on “Lick My Love (Jam Session),” he shrieks with all the subtlety of a liquored-up lout who’s just learned his lover’s left him. Yet there’s power and precision behind his bitter and brooding brogue, and tunefulness behind the tumult. If any record can revive your friends from their rock ‘n’ roll-induced reposes, it’s this one. (lafayetteregency.bandcamp.com)
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