I'm a late comer to La Blogotheque's Takeaway shows (Andy turned me onto them six months ago). From what I gather, the site is like a French Pitchfork, and when musicians come visit, a video director and sound guy throw some instruments at the musicians and they play wherever they can. Buses, street corners, and hotel rooms are the norm, and the videos (and music in them) are simply amazing.
There's some magic combo of improvisation with nervous musicians using borrowed guitars, standing in a French street where few people recognize them, while a shaky hand camera captures the unamplified sounds. There's something incredible about how it all comes together and you're instantly transported onto the street as a nervous onlooker, instead of an idle observer at a computer. It feels like if a tripod was used, the whole thing would come off as fake like U2 playing a rooftop show, or if the band seemed too rehearsed or comfortable, you couldn't pick up on the energy of the moment.
They're all great, but these are my favorites:
I'd never heard Phoenix before but I enjoyed the videos so much that I bought two of their albums off iTunes. Much to my surprise, the sound on their records is smoothed over and diluted, with none of the raw charisma seen in the live taping. I almost want to rip mp3s from these videos and replace the album tracks.
On the plus side, this means they'll be great live and hopefully next month I'll see them in Portland.