Détective is the latest fabulous thing to come from 21st-century renaissance man James Greer. A former member of Guided by Voices and senior editor at Spin, Greer now spends most of his time writing excellent novels. In France, naturally. Greer’s collaborator in Détective is Guylaine Vivarat, a former member of the LA bands Useless Keys and Tennis System. Since Greer doesn’t half-ass anything, Détective have released two EPs, Very Fallen World and Basket of Masks, and a full-length album, However Strange, in the past 10 months; a further double album is planned for March. Oh, and they opened for GBV on a national tour. However Strange is a solid, sophisticated rock album whose songwriting stands out just as much as its musicianship. Vivarat’s low, effortless voice makes even the straightforward “Holy Ghost Citizens Club” sultry and mysterious, but the real magic happens when Greer sings too (“Telephonia” and “Cornflower Blues”). REBECCA WILSON
“Formed in March of this year, the Los Angeles-based Détective is already bursting with talent. Co-fronted by James Greer (former Guided by Voices bassist, rock journalist for SPIN and accomplished screenwriter) and Guylaine Vivarat (ex-Tennis System), Détective often sounds like unpretentious Frenchy shoegaze mixed with Velvet Underground-ish lo-fi goodness. Vivarat’s dreamy delivery combines with Greer’s sweetly sardonic vocals to balance the beauty of the music with the honesty of the lyrics as drummer Rory Modica (Useless Keys) propels even the most otherwordly songs into pop explosions. The band’s debut album, However Strange, is out now on Burger Records. Regrets, I’ve Had a Few: Yes, Guided by Voices is the headliner on this bill, but don’t sleep on this opening band. It might be the headliner soon enough.”
Much of the early buzz about new band Détective has centered around the inclusion of ex-GBV bassist Jim Greer, but there’s more going on here than a slap-dastard dash of rock ‘n roll mixed in with sips of Sassolino.
“one thing i love about listening to détective is that they dont sound 2012. in fact i would place them circa early 80′s to early 90′s, or maybe something 4ad would have put out in that time frame. as i like to liken sounds to personal experiences, this would be the perfect saturday/sunday morning record when you may be a little hungover, or maybe its winter in a northern state and youre all snuggled up in a blanket. shit, i dont know? either way its great stuff.”
“Greer made for a fantastic frontman. Between songs he was bantering with the crowd and cracking jokes that weren’t forced and were actually pretty funny. Whether he was asking about what Louis did that was good enough to make him a saint and scolding the crowd for giving him conflicting information or naming all the member of Guided by Voices except for “that guy who sings or whatever,” he commanded the crowd’s attention and had everyone laughing.
I think Greer’s best quote of the evening was “There are three kinds of rock songs. There are songs about getting fucked up, songs about fucking shit up and songs about getting fucked up while fucking shit up.” Détective managed to play all three kinds, as well as a few tunes made up of all three rolled into one.”
“If you’d done your research, you’d know that James Greer, the man at the helm of LA’s Détective was once a member of Guided By Voices. You could tell by his stage banter that he’d been well rehearsed in how to win over an audience, repetitively proclaiming that each song was about “fucking shit up.” They had a true 90s alternative sound, which didn’t really change too much when Greer’s female counterpart, Guylaine, took over the vocal duties, though she did provide a different sort of bounce to the group’s tunes.”
“The band is best described as a power garage outfit with hints of The Pixies and, obviously, Guided by Voices. Détective played a tight forty minute set. The last song of the set, “Trendspotter,” was a track James had written for GBV back when he played with them.”
“…an engaging brand of artistic, Velvet Underground-influenced postpunk that old-school fans of 90′s indie rockers like GbV, Sonic Youth and The Breeders will certainly recognize…”
I love the lo-fi feel of the band’s first full-length, However Strange. It takes me back to the excitement of the first bands I ever saw in someone’s basement, at long-ago parties. There’s an obvious commitment to making pretty rock – the guitar sound sometimes reminds me of the Feelies and the Velvet Underground. At moments, especially those when Vivarat does the lead warbling, Detective ascends to swoon-inducing heights, as is the case with “Mouchette.”
Détective are a relatively new LA based trio and they really knock me out. Normally, I’m not really shaken by female vocals, I hate to say it but I’m not. Guylaine Vivarat, with her sweet and piercing voice, has truly captivated me. Her vocals paired with the seducing guitars have made me fall in love with Détective. Their songs are perfect for nighttime escapades and moonlit adventures. I’m prepared to stay up all night, I wanna ride this till dawn.
UC: Why did you decide to make music together now?D: We thought it would make a good front for our jewelry smuggling operation. Also, Guylaine has played in a few bands in LA as a bass player or keyboardist and singer, and now she gets to record her own songs, too, in addition to all that other stuff. James hasn’t played in a band since Guided By Voices and didn’t think he’d ever want to play in another band, but we started doing this at first as a studio project and then we played out a few times and had a lot of fun so we decided to keep doing it. Until it becomes not fun, which is when we go back to cat-burgling. (smart move)
This Saturday, a band called Détective plays a record release party at Burger Records inFullerton – and yes, that accent mark is very intentional. Given the group says that it’s referring to one of Jean-Luc Godard’s films, one could be forgiven for thinking the band’s sound is some sort of ye-ye, French ’60s pop tribute — or maybe another riff on the combination of styles that Stereolab brought to bear. (And certainly the motorik chug of “Mouchette” comes notably close at points.) But the sound here is the kind of rough-and-ready rock and roll that will have a lot of listeners flashing back about twenty years, not grunge at all but the larger world of indie rock that received more attention in the space grunge’s success helped open up. This in part is thanks to the background of one of its two key members – James Greer, both a writer and, most notably via a stint in Guided by Voices, a musician with some background in the style. So is his musical partner Guylaine Vivarat, who’s appeared in bands like Useless Keys and Tennis System.
However Strange, the debut cassette by the duo (with help from drummer Rory Modica), is a short, sweet and almost perfectly put together dose of listening that embraces a kind of lost meaning of ‘indie,’ less about neo-campfire singalongs and more about moody raveups and sweet-but-never-cloying contemplations. Soft duets on songs like “Telephonia,” matched against a kind of inspiring guitar surge that thankfully doesn’t sound like U2 at all but which does sound like a classic Flying Nun number from the 1980s, further seal its appeal. And just hearing an involving, softly anthemic song like “Rose Encyclopedia” seems like those two decades plus haven’t really changed at all — not so much a nostalgia kick as a lovely continuation.
Détective play with the Memories, the Shivas and Acorn Bcorn on Saturday August 18th at Burger Records in Fullerton, 9 pm, all ages.
Film At 11: DétectiveJuly 26, 2012
“Rhodesian Man” is the lead-off track on Détective‘s second EP, Basket Of Masks (Catapult), and it’s a great way to kick off a record. Guylaine Vivarat’s sweet, melodious voice carries the song, but there’s definitely help from her bandmates, including ex-Guided By Voices bassist (and occasional MAGNET writer) James Greer. “Rhodesian Man,” is a pretty simple pop song that nods toward ’60s girl groups, and it has a simple, vintage video to match.
I couldn’t help myself but to notice that this LA band do sound a little bit like a crossbreed between GBV and Dum Dum Girls… What makes this band so enjoyable are the imagination-capturing guitar hooks of Greer and the tender and mesmerizing voice of Vivarat… You should definitely check this band as they offer imaginative and mature music for people with subtle taste in music.
The very balmy, easygoing sound of Détective matches perfectly with the late-spring/early-summer weather we feel when we open up our windows.
If you like the likes of galaxie 500 – or anything dean warham related you should love this. its a very low key affair with guylaine singing, very lovely mind you, in french on a couple tracks, and even though i have zero idea what she’s singing that doesnt take away from my enjoyment. definitely of my favorite records of 2012.
The music of the L.A. trio Détective sounds as if it could have come from dusty tapes found in the 4AD archive. Named in honor of the Jean-Luc Godard film, Détective is the collaboration between bassist Guylaine Vivarat (Useless Keys and ex-Tennis System), James Greer (the author, screenwriter and ex-Guided By Voices bassist and biographer) and drummer Rory Modica (Useless Keys). Their second EP in as many months, “Basket of Masks,” trades in coy pop melodies, gritty post-punk guitar riffs and proggy krautrock instrumentals. Their sparse, lo-fi structures don’t sacrifice texture, though; Vivarat and Greer have found the delicate balance between sweet and off-kilter that recall Stereolab and some Morr Music luminaries. “Baskets of Masks,” the follow-up to February’s “Very Fallen World,” is slated for a April 17 digital release and for a May 22 limited 12-inch vinyl release.
I hear a bit of Barbara Carlotti in it, a little Stereolab, some Peppermoon-ish touches, and Guylaine’s blessed with that happy-to-be-sad-tone in her voice that heroines like Hardy have too.
New Discovery: Détective - Basket of Masks EP
I like the guitars, especially the sort of suspension in “Monochrome Girl”… and the jangle, plus the ethereal female lead vocal on “Rhodesian Man”.
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Obfuscationabstract rendition of a definite condition All That Jazz Analog Aquarium Drunkard Art As We Go Up We Go Down audio Basket of Masks Burger Records Catherine Deneuve Coming Soon Détective experiments do not always work which is why they are called experiments film France Guided By Voices Guylaine Vivarat Holy Ghost Citizens Club However Strange Hugs and Disses Instagram James Greer Jean-Luc Godard L'Echec Los Angeles Luis Buñuel Man Near the Surface of the Earth Monochrome Girl Olivier Assayas painting photography is fun Press public performance Quentin Tarantino quote Rally Point Rhodesian Man Robert Sobul rock video Slake Style the lion is our mascot This one time at Bandcamp Toulouse Lautrec Tour Dates