Loosely speaking, French Miami is a rock band. Using rock music as a starting point, French Miami use its structures as the glue holding together more abstract musical ideas: dizzying, jagged guitar riffs anchored around pulsing synths, harmonized finger-tapping accenting tightly wound grooves, precise stop-start timing. And although part of a lineage of a number of great bands from the Touch and Go/Southern golden era, Jason Heiselmann's melodic, memorable vocals weave the bands more technical ideas into a unique realm which may too gritty for pop, yet too hooky not to be.
Since forming in 2006, French Miami has ascended up the San Francisco totem pole earning themselves a reputation for as a local favorite with their raucous live performances. As a trio, French Miami is busy on stage swapping roles. The lack of a bassist not very noticeable by just listening as their smart guitar interplay and synth work give the band plenty of low end. Singer Jason Heiselmann seamlessly eases between baritone guitar, drums, keyboards, and tackling vocals, while multi-instumentalist Roland Curtis plays double duty as well on guitar and synths. Drummer Chris Crawford stays locked on the drums, his signature BOOM! creating the backbone of their sound. For French Miami, it's not making up for not having enough hands for a bass, it's about pushing the limits of what a three-piece group can play and sound like; without set limits onstage, they're a band that sound more expansive than any "power trio" ever could be.
On French Miami's self-titled debut, the band sought to portray their live show as best they could. They headed into the studio with band hero Phil Manley (Trans Am, Fucking Champs) who committed their unique blend of prog, post-punk, and synth-art rock to tape. The result waxes nostalgic on anthemic 90s recalling Archers of Loaf and Trans Am, more contemporarily incorporates the angular, tense grooves of Battles or Holy Fuck, and pull it of as earnestly as "the Boss" or Fugazi. The end self-titled result is terse and jagged while still melodic, and fueled by hooks just as much as noisy rhythmic abandon.
Just don't call them a rock band.
"Having the traditional two arms doesn't restrict French Miami from showing off by pounding their heaving math-rock intricacy through two instruments at once. Each. Inevitably, the local musos cream themselves at such a sight, but this trio have the ability to get you throwing plenty of irregular shapes on the dancefloor too." - NME - UK
"French Miami manage to combine the anthemic, sweaty-basement-party spirit of Japanther with the speed and prowess of a math rock band (think finger tapping) and the harmonized guitars of the Fucking Champs." - SF Guardian
"I've just discovered my new favorite SF band, French Miami. Yes, the lead singer/guitarist/keyboard-player is a friend of friends, but that's not why I'm so enthusiastic. It's because the band, who played at Fat City last night, plays kickass rock-n-roll with a punkrock edge that kept me dancing (and jumping up and down) the whole set. (Which, by the way, was a relief. Because I hate that avoiding-them-so-you-don't-have-to-lie-and-say-they-were-good thing.) And the drummer, who looks like he's having more fun than you ever will, played some of the most interesting and suprising beats I've heard in a long time -- and certainly from a local band. So go visit them at their website, and tell them to play more often, damnit. " - SFBG NOISE