Frank (Just Frank): The Brutal Wave; Axel and the Farmers



If John Hughes ever made a movie in France, these two would be on the soundtrack

In my head, John Hughes made a movie in which one of his tortured high school heroines - probably played by Molly Ringwald - travelled to France as a foreign exchange student. She came to terms with things. People learned and cried and hugged and grew in the way that only American Francophiles would or could. And on the soundtrack would be Axel and the Farmers and Frank (Just Frank). As dismissive as this analogy may sound, it pays both artists a high compliment: John Hughes's taste is legendary and he was particularly apt at picking just the right songs to carry the emotion of his characters.

Of the two, Axel and the Farmers stands as the more eclectic and current. Recorded in France and England and mixed by Mark Gardner of Ride, 'Axel and the Farmers' hits a number of buttons, shimmying from shoegaze to the dance floor, mixing up frontman/songwriter Axel Concato's influences without allowing itself to be commanded by them. From the 'Babies'-era Pulp of 'Dream # 7' to the 'Let 'Em In' bass/piano and McCartneyesque vocal swoosh on 'Kids', Concato's record is a whimsical effort and not short on charm.

Meanwhile, the much hyped Frank (Just Frank) -- whose single 'Coeur Hanté' has just been playlisted on NME - make no secret of that fact that they own a Cure album or two. Heavily influenced by the Cold Wave movement of the early 80s, 'The Brutal Wave' is awash with Casio-quality drum machines and cavernous, echoing guitars, and a vocal delivery that owes more than a little to Peter Murphy. Although the Transatlantic duo (Chris is American and Kirti is from Nice) admit a fondness for black metal, it's the early Banshees and Joy Division influences that come out on this record, which successfully invokes the melancholic gloom of a dreary seaside but brings very little in terms of originality to the table. But if you were a moody Molly Ringwald walking glumly along the Left Bank, it would be perfectly serviceable.

Cat Conway