The remit of this column is essentially to tell The FADER’s largely American readers about largely British things going on in Britain (and to happily play up to the stereotype of us Limeys as sarcastic, sexually-repressed, weather-obsessed, borderline-alcoholic snobs). However this week there were so many good North American bands in London—Beirut, Holy Fuck, Yeasayer, Effi Briest—that I’ve asked for special dispensation to big up a Yank band this week. Anyway, Effi Briest’s single is out on a UK label, so for the moment, we’re claiming them. Sorry Brooklyn.
At least the story takes place in a venue that couldn’t be much more British: The Griffin pub in Shoreditch. Here dwells Andrew Weatherall (to whom I had to explain the bad review I gave to Two Lone Swordsmen’s ‘Wrong Meeting’ album – in mitigation, I did say the second volume was better and his ‘Sci.Fi.Lo.Fi’ compilation was superb but in the end he admitted that Two Lone Swordsmen are no more anyway) the guitarist from Jam/Style Council contemporaries The Questions (check this for a great slice of ‘80s socialist white soul optimism) and
Charlotte Marionneau aka Le Volume Courbe who put out a pleasantly spooky album called ‘I Killed My Best Friend’ a couple of years ago. Kevin Shields, Hope Sandoval and Martin Duffy all guested on it, so gal’s certainly well-connected and probably likely to do something very good soon, so keep an eye. Anyway, Charlotte and her mate Theo (who is Terry Hall’s son, told you she was well-connected) get on the decks and start playing Velvet Underground and Serge Gainsbourg songs, which creates the perfect ambience for my interview with enigmatic all-girl drone-rockers Effi Briest .
They’ve just put out a brilliantly strange single on Loog (home of The Horrors) over here. It’s called ‘Mirror Rim’ and, impressively, the lyrics are entirely in palindromes. The B-side, a cover of Jim Pepper’s ‘The Newlywed Song’ complete with sinister modal chants, is even better. Live, they make an endearingly primitive post-punk-free-folk clatter that could be The Raincoats jamming with Amon Düül II and Sunburned Hand Of The Man. The cool thing about them is that while they seem tight-knit, each band member has a different take on what Effi Briest is about.
Singer Kelsey is the peppy one, talking about how they used the Theodor Fontaine novel they’re named after as an oracle to find out if they should tour California or not. Guitarist Sara is the pragmatic one, keen to quash any suggestion of magick with some dry humour. Other guitarist Niki is the one with all the cool musical influences. And Corinne, who had the vision for the “all-female noise-rock” band in the first place, is the one who tells me a story about going on family picnics to graveyards. Effi Briest are messy but mesmeric and you investigate forthwith, otherwise we’re keeping them.