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PREVIEW: La Route Du Rock
Karl Smith , August 10th, 2015 12:15

Karl Smith looks ahead to a weekend in Saint-Malo, including scheduled performances from Timbre Timbre, Algiers, The Notwist and more.

No, Björk isn't playing La Route Du Rock this year, the festival's 25th anniversary, as was the plan. Yes, it's sad — though, yes, Foals have offered some level of respite.

LRDR is a festival, though, not a headline show at an unpleasant arena venue with terrible beer and a 10.30pm curfew: "cancellation" does not mean cancellation across the board, because what you still have – regardless of who is or isn't playing – is a gathering of brilliant musicians from all over the world who want to play that music to you, you lucky so-and-so.

And, in the case of La Route Du Rock (misleadingly named given the diversity of the acts they've booked; "La Route Du Rock, Pop, Electronica & Etc." has a nice ring to it, I think) you get all that, by the sea, in and around Saint-Malo – one of Brittany's most architecturally banging cities.

If you need more convincing beyond the names below – and if you do, why? — then the festival's silver anniversary party (a great milestone in any walk of life: most of your friends can and probably will come and hang out because they're still alive, maybe they have kids now and a night away from those screaming little shits is exactly what they needed so let's get the fuck down to it, right?) also boasts appearances from Savages, Father John Misty, Ride, and The Thurston Moore Band. As we put it when we doled out a pair of free tickets last week: it's an embarrassment of riches. I, for one, am looking forward to being embarrassed for the first time (of many, many, many times) in my life.

Björk who?

Timber Timbre

Cinematic is an overused word. But I'm going to use it because, like free universal health care and redistribution of wealth, it's the right thing to do. In literary terms, Timber Timbre is the polar opposite of James Patterson: it isn't any kind of enforced pace that keeps you listening to so much as an organic-seeming harmonic ebb and flow that comes from good songwriting and being unconstricted — nodding simultaneously, as they do, to A Silver Mt Zion, Arcade Fire and the most-country country acts you can think of — by the confines of genre definition.

The Notwist

Over the last 26 years The Notwist have covered musical ground in a way that might not too hyperbolically be called Marco Polo-esque: that is to say "fucking loads of it", basically. In their most recent form these guys seem to have taken as much from the livelier elements of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless as from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone's Twinkle Echo and thrown in some of Earth's cavernous soundscaping for good measure. If that doesn't sound good to you then, well, I just don't know.

Dan Deacon

Honestly, I'm not sure what I make of Dan Deacon: maybe I love it, maybe I'm confused by it, maybe both of the preceding are true because this kind of esotericism allows for flux of opinion. At the very least, this music is interesting, possessing at once the melancholy of Interpol, the formidable joy of – uh – The Joy Formidable, and the kind of powerhouse electronic beats and synths that have made the frenetic quality and spectacle of his live shows something of legend.


I will attest to not having been overly impressed the last time that I saw them HINDS play — in a dark, more-than-half-empty bar up the steepest set of stairs I have ever climbed (and climbed is absolutely the right word) in my life. Reading that back, though, it's also fair to say that nothing happens in a vacuum and their performance was – in spite of everything – far from lackluster. The bare bones of it is that the Spanish four-piece make ace, lo-fi, energetic indie music that isn't over-thought or overwrought and comes off better because of it.

Daniel Avery

According to a comment on this website — surely the most reliable matrix of information on the internet — Schopenhauer once said you can judge a man's happiness by what's worrying him. If the same holds true for what worries his eardrums then most of what you need to know about Daniel Avery and his musical inclinations can be discovered in our recent raiding of his record collection. That being said, Avery produces that rare kind of straight up banger held together by a spine of real human feeling that will make his 1am slot a thing of beauty.


Do you like music that's gospel-tinged, hardcore-referencing, politically-charged to the point of collapsing in upon itself and becoming, under its own weight, a singularity of incredible power and celestial beauty? (Yes, I thought so.) Despite all that, though, the most important thing about Algiers is that they're musically and politically faux nothing, emblematic of a very real and very necessary aggression without catharsis.