French

Fully Vetted

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When New York's commanding Flower regrettably quit after two LPs in 1990, they split into two great bands. The Baluyut brothers, guitarist Ed and guitarist/singer/songwriter Richard, teamed up with Fontaine Toups in the still-going, indie-beloved Versus. Bassist/singer/songwriter Ian James and drummer Andrew Bordwin likewise formed this group with two more talented ladies, and French's '90s releases were perhaps even better, yet suffered from unwarranted obscurity. That classic French lineup predictably scattered, but James relocated to Vermont, and has somehow managed to maintain French's sound, dynamic, style, and high standards without their assistance. Fully Vetted is another example of his long-patented Mission of Burma/Gang of Four/Wire/Sonic Youth roaring guitar hookfest, with his robust, smoky voice leading the rush like a hockey winger. Vetted is once again marked by forceful, rock-melodic swagger swish like "EWBIAL" ("Everything We Believe Is a Lie"), "Rash," "Behave," the early Undertones-ish "Nerve," and the Wire Chairs Missing-like glider "Wait." Though like both Burma and Wire before him, when he cools it down for the chin-stroking "The Crowds," he's no less puissant. (And an oddly chosen cover of the Beatles' silly, non-LP, mess-about 1970 "Let It Be" B-side “You Know My Name, Look Up the Number” -- the first part of it, anyway -- is surprisingly serious.) Their releases are always hard to find; the place they are plentiful is www.frenchrocks.net.