Watch Phoenix On Fallon, Euro Rock At Its Flowery Best

Ah, Europe. The land of ancient history in its cobblestoned streets, funny electrical outlets in its homes, and an international economic union that has seen better days. It is also home to a distinct flavor of Rock which shares more elements with classical and electronic dance music than it does with the blues or conventional Rock power idioms. And vive la différence. Wouldn’t Rock be a boring thing if everybody did it the same way?

In 2009 Phoenix became one of the rare Euro Rock bands to make a North American breakthrough with their great album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The tracks Lisztomania and 1901 were beautifully written songs with original and extremely hooky chord structures and melodies, all tied together by the sinewy and alluring tones of lead singer Thomas Mars.

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They’ve got a new album called Ti Amo coming out June 9, and from that album they performed the song “J-Boy” on The Tonight Show Tuesday night, and I really enjoyed it. This is a band that has more going on than meets the eye. You hear the plinking synth notes and you tend to think this is just some stupid dance song, but you’ve got to look deeper.

It is a highly textured sound, almost proggy at the start. Watch the two guitarists and you realize they are adding a complicated layer of depth to the song. The song itself seems at first like a two-chord nothing, but the chorus unfolds into an infectious little progression with just the right touch. These guys are solid pros who have carved out their own niche in the Pop/Rock universe, and I’m looking forward to the new album.

I’ve included the studio version of “J-Boy”, but if you’re at all interested I recommend you watch their Fallon performance here. It is way better than the studio version, because this is a band best experienced live, preferably in some beautiful old cobblestoned public square on a warm July night somewhere in Europe.

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