Steve French are the best band you've never heard of. Well, the best band most of you haven't heard of. The five-piece, based in Amsterdam, are, of course, a growing influence on the Dutch underground guitar scene, which for the first time in some years feels like a place if you make enough of a splash the world will start to pay attention. Afterall, in the last few months we can count Canshaker Pi, Pip Blom, Lewsberg, Korfbal, Charlie and the Lesbians and The Homesick as just a few of our great discoveries from there. And top record labels can count some of those names in their list for being enthusiastic about the region, too. Heavenly Recordings signing Pip Blom, last year, feels like the beginning of something justifiably sticking in the massively competitive world of touring and releasing records. The Dutch, it seems, are having a buzz moment. Of course, it's nothing new that there's great music with a DIY spirit gripping the country for years. The Ex being, perhaps, chief among the godfathers of grassroots guitar music there.
But allow us, over here in the UK, to enjoy this moment, this momentum and feel like something is stirring. And allow us the moment to feel that 2019 might be a hell of a year for the scene, too, because Steve French have released an anthemic new banger in 'I Dream of Being a Machine'. It's a cut which ought to galvanise the scene and cause even louder tremors within other scenes looking out wondering where the songwriting and performance in guitar music is at its height in the world.
Ultimately, listening to Steve French new single we feel it erases the discourse that the heyday of alternative guitar music is behind us. The track’s the quality to be shared for generations to come. And it's a timeless charm which makes us think that had this new single been released on the indie chart in the late '80s, Steve French would be one of the bands who maintain cult status thereafter.
If we’re to break down some of the variables that make up the distinct whole of the track by this potentially massively important new band, we can hear distorted, interlocking guitars are woven with a lead vocal emitting expert levels of melody, restraint and charisma. This is underpinned by a drum which evokes the off-kilter charm of Beat Happening and a pummeling bass that punches you right in the chest. You feel in the presence of band with capable of an explosive 'big' sound, yet often finding strength in being poised, holding back their power until the song demands it.
In the accompanying video, which has been shared for the first time today, we can see the band exhibiting their taste for a soft palette which conveys the band’s dislike of anything overly-shiny or overly-produced. Their grunge, post-punk influences don’t align to allow an alternative cinematic hi-fi experience, anyway. Moreover, when there's not a papier-mâché bunny head in the shot, the clip reveals the personnel in the band. And those holds importance because it shows what a polyamorous place the Dutch underground is. Steve French’s shunting of the tribalism that often pervades some guitar scenes means Steve French share three members with Canshaker Pi, though frontman Cees Paris was making music under Steve French before members started to seep in and cross over.
Now, Paris plays second guitar in Canshaker Pi. Canshaker Pi’s frontman Willem Smit plays second guitar in Steve French, and both band’s share a bassist in Ruben van Weegberg. Together with a drummer and third guitarist, it’s a strong, proven line-up, with the chops to cut it on the road on the biggest stages. We look forward to seeing them break borders with Steve French whilst also gallivanting forward with Canshaker Pi.
At the moment, Steve French are still making strides in Holland and have a short tour coming up. But, there’s a debut album called Lightning Tiger Running on the way via Subroutine Records – indeed ‘I Dream of Being A Machine’ is on there – that they’ll inevitably tour soon. The pumeling and glistening indie rock gem of the only other album single out – 'Eucalyptus Heat' – and an EP called Colinton are all that’s out for now, though. And that’ll do just nicely; for now.
Steve French tour dates:
02 - Amsterdam, Melkweg
04 - Utrecht, EKKO
06 - Dordrecht, DOOR