Music Reviews

French Kicks

One Time Bells

Star Time International

Ignoring the “all-things-from-New-York-in-2002-are-fucking-brilliant” hype machine, Brooklyn boys French Kicks sound like a more tranquil version of Jawbox or a less art-damaged Les Savy Fav. Despite what has been plastered in numerous music rags, they aren’t exactly post-punk (though they do have plenty of Dischord-era swagger), they certainly aren’t garage rock (they are, however, undeniably New York) and they’re not really mod (the hooks are a little Britty, but they’re certainly not big enough).

No, French Kicks are tapped into to something that goes back to ? and the Mysterians circa 1966 – that interminable organ note pulsating over and over again in “96 Tears.” It was transcendent, psychedelic, aggressive, ambient and irritating as fuck – all at the same time.

French Kicks deliver The Bleat all over One Time Bells. Opener “Wrong Side” bleats and bleats for a cool 41 seconds, anxiously waiting for the chorus to deliver almost implied syncopation. They love The Bleat … but they also love catchy Brit-melodies. So despite how detached and New-York-cool they sound/act, they can’t resist ooh-ing and aah-ing like they were the goddamn Jam. Soon, The Bleat rides out for another 40-or-so seconds. A band like Everclear would make it shift on every fourth measure – dugga-DAH! dugga-DAH! But the French Kicks are apparently trapped in their own giant metronome.

“When You Heard You” sends the same note bleating and bleating for 43 seconds. “Crying For Show” sends another note bleating into the stratosphere for a mind-numbing minute-and-five before being cradled by an actual melody.

The Bleat defies your body’s natural beat. Most internal rhythms are much funkier. The stuff that James Brown finds. The stuff that Ramones songs are made of. So the French Kicks taunt you with their sharp hooks, forcing you to defy your body’s organic movement.

But, towards the middle of One Time Bells, French Kicks aim for the booty anyway. “Right In Time” appropriates that infernal shuffle that The Strokes stole from Tom Petty’s “American Girl” (and Tom Petty stole from Motown). One Time Bells is fun for the whole body – but only one part at a time.

French Kicks:

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