Benoit Pioulard
Artist of the Day
By Laura Marcus

Who: Michigan harbors many secrets, one of the most intriguing being singer-songwriter Benoît Pioulard. Although the name triggers images of berets and cigarettes, Benoît, aka Thomas Meluch, is a 22-year-old Michigan native who has been self-releasing albums since the age of 16. In a one-room apartment, Meluch pieces together his work, and his first full-length Precis, released on Chicago's Kranky Records, is an intricate journey through heartbreak and solace.

What's the Deal: Often compared to Elliot Smith and My Bloody Valentine, the complexity of Meluch's work has left many reviewers struggling for comparisons. Although Boards of Canada is a definite influence, Meluch sites more obscure references as sources of inspiration. From the archival films of Bill Morrison, to the Disintegration Loops of William Basinski, Meluch's intellectual curiosity reflects the aural landscape of his music.

Fun Fact: Although Benoît Pioulard isn't really a Frenchman, his mother, a self-proclaimed Francophile, exposed him to the language as a young child. His pseudonym came to him in a dream and sounded just right, so he decided to stick with it. Considering the somnambulistic quality of his music, Meluch chose wisely.

Twilight Singers Play Warsaw
It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

Brooklyn's own Warsaw, the Polish National Home-cum-music venue, was again an unlikely nexus last night, bringing together music lovers and pierogi enthusiasts alike for Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers, who were playing the final installment of three special gigs for Zig Zag Live's concert series.

Portland's Stars of Track & Field warmed up the crowd with their sheer enthusiasm and tightly knit hooks (though it helped that they were wearing ascots, as no one can resist the charm of a well-dressed man).

With a candelabrum, a smoke machine, and enough bravado to make even the most disengaged onlooker crack a smile, the Twilight Singers played their hearts out, and hardcore fans returned the favor by flailing about, singing every lyric. When ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan took the stage for a fist-pumping rendition of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," all hell broke loose.

But Dulli emerged the real star of the evening, chatting with the crowd between songs and making smoking look as cool and as tough as Brando did. Introducing his band members at the end of the show, Dulli summed it up perfectly: "You know who I am, motherfuckers!"

Bat for Lashes Blushes on Bowery
It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

With a clear sense of urgency and passion in her voice, Bat for Lashes silenced an anxious crowd last night at seminal downtown venue, the Bowery Ballroom. Draped in sequins, an elegant, flowing blouse, and vintage frocks, London-bred Natasha Khan and her backing band delivered a hypnotic mixture of sounds from the past and the future (think beautiful, mythological creatures that are fans of Björk and A Certain Ratio) -- within minutes of her opening song "Trophy," the sold-out crowd was transfixed, and Kahn reciprocated, flattered and smitten.

Chiefly delivering selections from her debut LP Fur and Gold, fans giggled in delight as Khan's voice soared above earth shattering drums in "What's a Girl to Do?" while her hand delicately raked across a traditional Indian instrument in "Prescilla." Though openers Lewis & Clarke -- channeling the spirit of Nick Drake -- made a valiant effort at leaving their mark, when all was said and done it was Natasha Khan's name that was on everyone's lips.


Forward Russia! March Through NYC

It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

The Bowery Ballroom was full of sweat, beer, and exclamations points when Leeds quartet ¡Forward Russia! steamrolled through their set last night. "I've heard that dancing in New York City isn't illegal anymore, so go ahead!" exclaimed guitarist Whiskas when his band took the stage. Heeding his call, the crowd pogoed to the group's high-octane dance-punk with as much gusto as frontman Tom Woodhead, who tangled himself in his mic's cord. Unafraid to flail around and jump offstage, Woodhead railed through the tracks off Give Me a Wall, his presence delightfully spastic and his tenor extra vein popping.

Benoit Pioulard
Artist of the Day
By Laura Marcus

Who: Michigan harbors many secrets, one of the most intriguing being singer-songwriter Benoît Pioulard. Although the name triggers images of berets and cigarettes, Benoît, aka Thomas Meluch, is a 22-year-old Michigan native who has been self-releasing albums since the age of 16. In a one-room apartment, Meluch pieces together his work, and his first full-length Precis, released on Chicago's Kranky Records, is an intricate journey through heartbreak and solace.

What's the Deal: Often compared to Elliot Smith and My Bloody Valentine, the complexity of Meluch's work has left many reviewers struggling for comparisons. Although Boards of Canada is a definite influence, Meluch sites more obscure references as sources of inspiration. From the archival films of Bill Morrison, to the Disintegration Loops of William Basinski, Meluch's intellectual curiosity reflects the aural landscape of his music.

Fun Fact: Although Benoît Pioulard isn't really a Frenchman, his mother, a self-proclaimed Francophile, exposed him to the language as a young child. His pseudonym came to him in a dream and sounded just right, so he decided to stick with it. Considering the somnambulistic quality of his music, Meluch chose wisely.

Twilight Singers Play Warsaw
It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

Brooklyn's own Warsaw, the Polish National Home-cum-music venue, was again an unlikely nexus last night, bringing together music lovers and pierogi enthusiasts alike for Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers, who were playing the final installment of three special gigs for Zig Zag Live's concert series.

Portland's Stars of Track & Field warmed up the crowd with their sheer enthusiasm and tightly knit hooks (though it helped that they were wearing ascots, as no one can resist the charm of a well-dressed man).

With a candelabrum, a smoke machine, and enough bravado to make even the most disengaged onlooker crack a smile, the Twilight Singers played their hearts out, and hardcore fans returned the favor by flailing about, singing every lyric. When ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan took the stage for a fist-pumping rendition of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," all hell broke loose.

But Dulli emerged the real star of the evening, chatting with the crowd between songs and making smoking look as cool and as tough as Brando did. Introducing his band members at the end of the show, Dulli summed it up perfectly: "You know who I am, motherfuckers!"

Bat for Lashes Blushes on Bowery
It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

With a clear sense of urgency and passion in her voice, Bat for Lashes silenced an anxious crowd last night at seminal downtown venue, the Bowery Ballroom. Draped in sequins, an elegant, flowing blouse, and vintage frocks, London-bred Natasha Khan and her backing band delivered a hypnotic mixture of sounds from the past and the future (think beautiful, mythological creatures that are fans of Björk and A Certain Ratio) -- within minutes of her opening song "Trophy," the sold-out crowd was transfixed, and Kahn reciprocated, flattered and smitten.

Chiefly delivering selections from her debut LP Fur and Gold, fans giggled in delight as Khan's voice soared above earth shattering drums in "What's a Girl to Do?" while her hand delicately raked across a traditional Indian instrument in "Prescilla." Though openers Lewis & Clarke -- channeling the spirit of Nick Drake -- made a valiant effort at leaving their mark, when all was said and done it was Natasha Khan's name that was on everyone's lips.


Forward Russia! March Through NYC

It Happened Last Night
By Laura Marcus

The Bowery Ballroom was full of sweat, beer, and exclamations points when Leeds quartet ¡Forward Russia! steamrolled through their set last night. "I've heard that dancing in New York City isn't illegal anymore, so go ahead!" exclaimed guitarist Whiskas when his band took the stage. Heeding his call, the crowd pogoed to the group's high-octane dance-punk with as much gusto as frontman Tom Woodhead, who tangled himself in his mic's cord. Unafraid to flail around and jump offstage, Woodhead railed through the tracks off Give Me a Wall, his presence delightfully spastic and his tenor extra vein popping.