Kalamazoo – How To Hunt A Deer

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Kalamazoo - How To Hunt A Deer

Is it important that I mention that Kalamazoo is French? The band themselves probably wouldn’t think so, and none of their declared influences are european. The Parisian four piece are fully paid up anglophiles, aficianados of the works of Kings Of Leon, Radiohhead, Interpol, Pixies, Arctic Monkeys …. none of them French bands. What does this tell us? That there are no musicians making original rock of any description anywhere in France, Belgium, west Switzerland or anywhere else that French is spoken? This is, of course, not true. For quite a few years now there has been a thriving London/Paris circuit with bands such as This Is Pop, Flairs, Nacional, Golden Silvers and several coachloads of others who find it easier to get gigs, or at least the gig and club nights they want, around Hoxton and New Cross than in their own cities and towns. Aside from notable exceptions such as Guillemots though, and 2006 is a rapidly diminishing memory, French music doesn’t very often break into the UK mainstream, for all that France is a mere 20 miles east of Dover, and I can only speculate as to what reception a band such as Kalamazoo might find in Montreal.

But enough of this preamble. Is How To Hunt A Deer a worthwhile listening experience, regardless of its origins? Yes it most assuredly is. Kalamazoo isn’t quite the artcore experimentalists referred to earlier though. Taking their cues from some very succesful mainstream acts, the quartet are quite determinedly aiming for the festival circuits, with a view to proving that, yes, French musicians do know what a guitar amp is and what it’s for. And crucially, they manage to sound very much like themselves, skilfully assimilating influences as opposed to merely regurgitating them.

So, between first track “Interpolis” and eighth and final track “Void”, Kalamazoo display a range of songwriting styles and some novel touches in the musicianship department, slipping between the 4/4 hihats of “Run”, the near magnetic guitar interplays of “Take It”, onto the more reflective atmospherics of “Change Order” and “The Easiest Song”. Edgier than Kings Of Leon, bluesier than Radiohead, less grimly humourless than Interpol, is Kalamazoo the French Snow Patrol? Or the Parisian Muse? There is a definite tradition of French bands emulating the UK and US scenes, which is perhaps why so little French rock music gets heard outside of its home country. But if more French bands can produce albums of the quality and important, originality which Kalamazoo presents us with on this 8 track release, that situation could change with some astounding rapidity.