Phoenix, the incredible (in our approximation) French alt-rock band, possesses everything that a band worshiped by critics and deemed almost holy by modern music experts ought to possess. It has a four-album-strong discography with nary a miss and a coveted place on the cultural mantelpiece beyond music (its music was featured in Sofia Coppola's film "Lost In Translation," and the group is scoring her upcoming film "Somewhere"). Phoenix's appeal spans from college kids to NPR parents, and you can find yourself, well, lost in its high-brow, wordplay-heavy lyrics and lush orchestrations. The band has redefined the depths and dimensions of what pop music can be. Phoenix makes music that by definition of pop music is popular. They're influenced by Michael Jackson. They wins Grammys -- and, incidentally met Snooki). They play late-night shows. You can hear their music on a car commercial. Phoenix's music is irresistible and catchy. But unlike most music you hear on car commercials and on late-night shows, this group's music lives in that rarest stretch of pop music's most intelligent outskirts, in its deepest and most reflective pool.
For the uninitiated, see how Phoenix came upon the name of its latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. See how they met and how they handle mainstream success, and watch Phoenix's "MTV Unplugged" performances after the jump.
"Long Distance Call"