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Justice: Waters of Nazareth

Justice: Waters of Nazareth

Release Date:2006

By Jess Harvell | Posted 7/12/2006

The French are weird. Every weekend, their clubs fill up with what we’d recognize as a Friday night crowd at the Ottobar: guys in neck beards and Motörhead T-shirts, girls in hipster mullets and wobbly heels. Cigarettes are smoked. Beers are spilled. Devil horns are thrown. Except instead of punk or metal they’re getting down to house music. It’s a window into an alternate universe where the Bee Gees and Black Flag swapped places.

But the reason French indie-rock kids flock to house is not because they have a special affinity for bongos or Bohannon. It’s because their house might as well be rock. Spearheaded by the label Ed Banger (geddit?), this new French house is music for pogoing, not sashaying, and any swing has been squeezed as tightly as a waifboy’s crotch in a pair of girls’ jeans. Ed Banger’s flagship act, licensed by Vice in the States, is the Parisian duo Justice. "Waters of Nazareth" is the loudest pop-metal single of the year--it just happened to be made on a couple of synthesizers by a pair of club rats.

Most dance music is equal parts high and low end: cut the midrange, drop the bass. "Waters of Nazareth" is all grinding midrange. Opening with a painful blast of digital static, the song is built on one skyscraper-sized riff of sculpted noise and the creepiest church organ this side of The Omen. And what a riff it is--charging out of even the crappiest speakers, obliterating the bass line, threatening to swallow the scraping metal-on-pavement drums like that giant sandworm from Dune. There’s a 1.5-second breakdown, and then the riff roars back in, before everything collapses in a belch of sooty feedback. It’s dead simple, and that’s why so many house purists hate it. But it’s a fist-pumping reminder that a lot of the best rock is great dance music, and vice versa.

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