The interview with French duo Justice didn't go very well. Speaking to Gaspard Augé on the phone from their native Paris, there were multiple problems: that disconcerting 10-second delay that occurs on international calls, repeated disconnections, Augé's thick French accent and stuttering English (still way better than whatever I may have retained from my high-school French classes). It was a tough conversation.

It's too bad, but maybe to be expected. Justice's music is certainly a conversation with sources and influences, but it's not always a crystal-clear exchange. The pair has a knack for taking English/American pop hooks—Simian, Michael Jackson—and distorting them through thick French filters and slicing them into stuttering beats. So maybe it's only natural.

Their conversation with American music has even extended to remixes of Justin Timberlake and the appearance of their label Ed Banger's signature visual aesthetic—the Day-Glo cartoon graffiti of label artist So-Me—in no less prominent a place than Kanye West's latest video. (West has become something of an ambassador for French techno in the time since he famously interrupted So-Me's acceptance speech at the MTV Europe VMAs; he and Justice recently went head to head at the U.S. VMAs, and though both lost to Rihanna's "Umbrella," West had nothing but nice things to say about Justice's arresting video for "D.A.N.C.E.").

Their personal engagements in the U.S. have so far been limited to only a few DJ appearances in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, L.A., and Miami. Now they are waging a full-scale tour of American cities, and they're playing live. It was one of the few topics that translated:

"We are bringing a very big synthesizer, called Valentine," Augé said. "We are able to rearrange the tracks live, adding layers and layers of elements. And we also play a few keyboards and use a computer."

Justice's DJ set in San Francisco last fall was fun, and their more recent appearance in Vancouver, BC, in March was an out-of-control party. Their DJ sets are relentless, stacked with banging techno and goofy pop, full-frontal assaults on the body's pleasure centers. But their live show should be even better, maybe something like the deft live reworkings that their elders Daft Punk pulled off at their incredible live show here in July, but likely with much less spectacle.

Augé touched on some other topics, but the discourse tended not to run too deep, given all the complications. He talked about Justice's instantly recognizable sound ("We used some hardware distortion pedals"), their religious iconography ("The religious aspect is part of it, but we also just wanted something very simple and recognizable—like the Prince symbol or Metallica's 'Black Album'"), the difference between the U.S. and Europe ("It's a really different market for electronic music—the U.S. audience is more indie rock"), the band's future plans ("We'll finish the tour in January, and then we might start work on another album or start some collaboration with another artist"), and their grand aspirations ("We are just trying to do the new pop music of 2007").

Justice play Neumo's on Friday, October 12, with DJs Fourcolorzack and Pretty Titty.

On Saturday, October 6, local bands took over Ballard for Reverb Festival, and it was pretty fun, though there was something sad about the mostly empty outdoor beer garden on a brisk, overcast October afternoon.

On the outdoor stage, Triumph of Lethargy Skinned Alive to Death sounded brutal and huge as a five piece, with Spencer Moody and Corey Brewer backed by bass, guitar, drums, and occasional saxophone. Moody bellowed over waves and waves of drone and rhythmic swells of feedback. It was leveling.

The murky, layered sound of Talbot Tagora's recordings was unfortunately lost at their Bop Street Records performance. With the vocals too high in the mix, they sounded like a straightforward punk band, although their dissonant leads, jerky rhythms, and repetitive ranting occasionally recalled Erase Errata.

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Throw Me the Statue's set was, in contrast, totally untroubled and awesome. The five-piece band played in close quarters on the small stage, bouncing around and almost crashing into each other throughout their set. For more on Throw Me the Statue and Baskerville Hill, see this week's music lead, linked on the right. recommended

egrandy@thestranger.com