Notices for le Main Drag (2003)
Excerpts from some reviews of le Main Drag. Full reviews are collected at: www.thebonmots.com/words/notices.html
SPIN, August 2004
If Le Main Drag is any indication, the Bon Mots are one of the most promising new bands out there. Before long, they might have a chart-topping double LP on their hands. Regardless, they already have a debut of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik proportions in the bank. Think Spoon with a shot of simmered down Hot Hot Heat and a nod to the Yardbirds to boot. [Grade: A-]
JIM DEROGATIS, Chicago Sun-Times, 1/21/05
Appealingly jangly psychedelic/power-pop quartet that draws on the familiar influences of the Byrds and the Zombies but rises to the top of this always-overcrowded genre by virtue of its strong songwriting, Chris Frantisak's atmospheric keyboards and the swirling production of its 12-song album . . . it's worth attention. At its best moments, it evokes the Rain Parade's classic "Emergency Third Rail Power Trip."
A 12-song gem . . . with many lush layers of pop sophistication. These are not straightforward tunes in the classic sense, but they remain tuneful, spiked by a range of heavily carbonated guitars. Intelligent and appealing just scratch the surface here.
Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover
This is the sort of ringing pop with great rhythm section work that stands out…
Copper Press: Daily Copper Interview with Eric and Mike
Richard Milne of WXRT Radio Chicago sayeth:
"Le Main Drag" is one of the Top 5 Local Anesthetic albums for 2003.
Monica Kendrick, Chicago Reader, Spot Check 11/14/03
[S]ome mysterious alchemy is apparently at work. [T]he debut from the Bon Mots is pretty dazzling. It's a lush, mature, and audacious mix of heady guitar fizz and old-fashioned pop songwriting . . . . definitely worth keeping an eye on.
DAGGER, Issue #34, Spring 2004
I have never seen Chicago's THE BON MOTS live so basically all I have to go on is their one CD called LE MAIN DRAG (Mellifluid Records) that DAGGER contributor John Gray turned me onto, but man, what a CD it is! They take the best parts of late 80's New Zealand jangle (think Straightjacket Fits) and blend it into their own near-perfect stew. Read on readers . . . (Tim Hinely)
AMPLIFIER, July 2004
[D]efies any attempt to easily categorize them as mere revisionists . . .a skewered delivery, an atmospheric, heavily textured ambiance that makes their approach sound slightly somewhat aloof and less embraceable than those they're said to emulate. In that sense, they more accurately resemble bands like the Church and REM, groups that also draw on '60s references but often filter them through a hazy, psychedelic sheen. The droll vocals . . . contribute to this perception . . . there's an understated irony that frequently underscores their bittersweet melodies.
ALL MUSIC GUIDE
The Bon Mots just may be Chicago's best-kept secret. Coy's infectious "Glistening" opens the set with a well-plotted, upbeat pop song chronicling a fascination with cigarette-clutching supermodels. Giving way to Chial's Marshall Crenshaw-like pipes on "Nocturna'"; a lush, dreamy ode that explores the Mots' depth. And for each head bopping, hummable number like "Time Was" and "Under Wraps" that these Windy City cats bring forth, there's a hazy, jazzy "Get Heavy," or a dark, rumbling "Vultures" to cement just how dexterous these guys really are. Coy and Chial bring their game on Le Main Drag, resulting in a dozen keepers.
The Daily Texan, Austin, TX
Indie-pop freshness combined with warm jazzy methodology . . . a lot of their messages do not come pre-digested, but it does make for some flavorful analytical listening . . . though rhetorically eloquent, they help digest some of their heaviness with intelligent instrumentals. With the support of keyboadist Chris Frantisak, whose Wulitzer skills are reminiscent of Billy Preston during his Beatles stint, and drummer Kevin Hoetger, who supplies wicked back-beat jazz flow. (4 and a half out of 5 stars).
A great record from a fine band . . . their raison d'etre appears to be nothing more than to go out and have a fun time making sophisticated yet enjoyable pop. I can't fault them for that, and I don't. "Ghetto Falsetto" is just one of many really great songs. (Mundane Sounds CD Sampler)
MOVEMENT- Jacksonville, FLA
The Bon Mots write really good pop music . . . the best thing musically to come out of Chicago since The Smashing Pumpkins. Let's hope the follow-up to "Le Main Drag" showcases even more of their spider-sense for creating a great pop song.
Splendid Zine, 2/17/04
"The Bon Mots' brand of breathy pop is both hummable and mordant — a rare trait, to be certain — and that lethal combination tags them as one of the brightest stars on the pop frontier."
F5: Wichita's Alt News
Le Main Drag is as funny as it is serious, as innovative as it is familiar and as biting as it is embracing.
Independisc picks "le Main Drag" as its 2003 Disc of the Year
Line after line of lyrics we just want to quote back to people . . . reminds us of The Hollies crossed with The Jam and sprinkled over with a bit of Squeeze and Elvis Costello & The Attractions . . . lyrics that twist a sense of misery in a clever and witty fashion that makes more sense than the logic dictated to us as "normal." Normal is a drag, man.
JUST ADD NOISE 10/31/04
Playing a collection of vintage instruments that would make any collector drool, a truly retrospective study of pop influence is displayed here. The real highlight and main turning point of the record comes in the form of a loungy, sensual shuffle, "Get Heavy": "Took her to the bathroom for a little kiss - In a classic combination of innocence and filth."
An awesome guitar-pop record, with lotsa moogs and other kickass accoutrements, I get some luscious intersecting vibes. Like The Go-Betweens meets The Lucksmiths, The Zombies meets The Byrds, Rufus Wainwright and Joe Jackson, The Smiths meet Elephant 6, both the Matinee and Parasol rosters smushed together, plus a lovely nostalgic feeling that is as much powerhouse eighties college rock hookfest as it is seasoned sixties pop sensibilities.
(Rating: 4+++) Extremely well executed upbeat pop with a difference. surprisingly unpretentious. The tunes have a nice, clean sound and feature some very imaginative melodies. Unlike many of their peers, these fellows don't wear dumb clothes and don't clutter their tunes with noise and weird sounds. Some of these tunes harken back to the British pop from the 1980s. Pretty cool stuff.
The differences in Coy and Chial's writing styles reveal themselves after several listenings, the album flowing as a seamless whole. Chial’s songs tend to have greater chordal complexity, while Coy’s draw on exuberant grooves; Coy has immediacy to Chial’s subtlety. But those lines are not constant, and there is truly a band at work here, not a project for two songwriters. they are not revivalists in the slightest. They’ve absorbed their influences fully, bringing to mind a similarly inclined East Coast trio with two main writers, the Figgs. The arrangements are dynamic, flourishes are never superfluous. Inside the punch and wallop, the songs are built on potent melodic character. The singing is committed and the playing is rich and punchy. What more do you want or need?
South of Mainstream
[L]ove it . . . their combination of pop sensibility, chop shop beats, gingerly sprinkled keyboards, thoughtful lyrics and swashbuckling vocals . . .
Pop Matters 11/04
The Bon Mots certainly live up to their name on their debut album Le Main Drag. Mixing witty lyrics and sly nods to the likes of Elvis Costello and Pavement, their musical chemistry crosses the borders of '90s indie and '80s pop with a smarty-pants attitude.
University Reporter (UR) Chicago
[A] grown up version of bittersweet melancholy. . .
Even though two competing egos and minds are at work, Le Main Drag never feels like two separate albums Elmer-glued together and never approaches White Album territory. Both singers flourish, engulfed in the entire spectrum of spectacular pop music of the 60s, never fearing to unleash a psychedelic guitar solo or just coast along to Beatles-sans-the-facial-hair-esque pop.
Tankboy, Lost In Guyville
1960's chimey guitar surfing over moog keys . . . on this stunning debut.
Chicago's Bon Mots reference decades worth of catchy guitar pop, touching on everything from the 60's sounds of the Kinks and the Zombies to the kiwi rock of New Zealand's Flying Nun label. Mike Coy and Eric Chial trade songwriting duties and vocals throughout the album, yet Le Main Drag retains a cohesive feel from start to finish.