Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Oui Love: Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra and Bon Voyage Organisation

Another night of quality live French music in London tomorrow, with another night organised by the good folks at Oui Love Music Made in France showcasing two of the country's most promising acts.

Taking the stage at Archspace are Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra and Bon Voyage Organisation.

Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra have just released a video for the track Horizon, a finely crafted piece of dreamy pop from the Paris-based four piece. It's the title track of the band's recently released EP.

Also playing are Bon Voyage Organisation, who brought their cosmic dance music to Les Francofolies de La Rochelle. I like what they do and will be featuring them again soon.

Looks like a pretty fine evening's entertainment, and given that it's under £10 pretty much a bargain by London standards.


France wins the World Cup: Music stars react

It was a weekend of historic proportions in France. No sooner were the festivities for July 14 out the way than France  picked up the biggest trophy in international sport.

It was an exciting few weeks watching the team's steady progress, knowing full well that any slip up in the later stages would have ended their hopes.

Their victory in 1990 was something special, but with the World Cup actually in France that year the stars seemed aligned in their favour. This time they faced an uphill struggle, and  rose to the challenge magnificently.

Despite not being a big football fan, during the last few World Cup finals I've bought a reproduction France top. Each time the team has crashed out without making much of an impression. This year, needless to say I didn't bother. Obviously that gave them the push they needed to bring the cup back home with them from Moscow.

The France team's win always seems more significant given the number of players with roots outside France, particularly in Africa. It's a reminder that France is at its best when all the country's communities work together and hopefully another step towards eliminating racism from French society.

While the action might have been on the football pitch, France's musicians have been quick to involve themselves in the celebrations. There are so many crossovers between the worlds of sport and music, whether athletes being fans of musicians to artists supporting sports stars, musicians creating songs for events to teams and supporters adopting songs that suit their cause.

Benjamin Biolay, Julien Doré, Jean-Michel Jarre and Jenifer were among the big names who showed their delight across social media.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z wore France tops during their show at the Stade de France.

Meanwhile, iTunes in France had 70s disco anthem I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor in the number one position. Gloria Gaynor herself congratulated the team on their victory. It's a song in France so associated with the National Team than the cover version by Hermes House Band recorded for the 1998 World Cup campaign is at number two.

Also selling significantly are the Queen song We Are The Champions and even La Marseillaise as well as the more obvious Live It Up, the anthem for this year's competition by Nicky Jam, Will Smith and Era Istrefi.

It was an astonishing event for the whole of France, and with sport and music closely entwined it was also a victory for French music as well.

Friday, 13 July 2018

La Femme: Live in the UK

There's a great opportunity this weekend to see one of France's best recent bands playing in the UK, with La Femme playing sets at both the Latitude festival in Suffolk today and at the Citadel festival in London on Sunday.

They've been playing festivals in mainland Europe over the past few days, in the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. After their visit here they play France, Hungary, Ireland and the Basque country.

Their Mystère album was one of the French music highlights of 2016, reaching the top ten in France.

A video for the track Elle ne t'aime pas was released in May.

Since their album release they've been playing live extensively, reinforcing their reputation as one of France's finest live acts.

It's a great opportunity to experience some of this in the UK this weekend.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Baloji – L’Hiver Indien (Bruxelles Ma Belle session)

A great session in the Bruxelles Ma Belle series that takes an act and places them in an interesting and filmic location somewhere in Brussels.

This session sees him perform at the city's Royal army and military history museum.

The track originally features on his 137 Avenue Kaniama album, which was released in March on Bella Union records.

It's his fourth solo album, his career as an MC and rapper starting in the 90s when he was a teenager as part of the hip hop band Starfam. After four albums with band, he briefly quit music before returning as a solo artist.


Dominique A: TV5Monde Acoustic session

I've been catching up on a few things I'd missed over the past few weeks, and thought the live session by Dominique A from TV5Monde was a great performance that really deserved a mention here, even if it was originally broadcast a few weeks ago.

Dominique A was on the show to perform tracks from his new album Tout Latitude, his 11th collection, the first of two albums he's got planned for 2018.

Following the tour for his Eléor album he spoke about how he found himself inspired by contradictory ideas.

His electric tour inspired him to write more acoustic songs that were strong on melody, but he also found himself simultaneously drawn towards more rhythmic and repetitive work.

He took these two strands, separated them and came up with the content for two differently flavoured releases.

His performance on Acoustic gave him the opportunity to showcase some of his new work, and to discuss it with the show's host.


Friday, 6 July 2018

Main Square and Beauregard Festivals 2018

It's another summer weekend in France, so there are no shortage of live music events across the country and this weekend sees two of the biggest - Main Square and Beauregard festivals.

 Main Square festival takes place in Arras today, Saturday and Sunday. This year's acts include Depeche Mode, Queens of the Stone Age and Liam Gallagher. Other international acts to take the stage include The Breeders, Jamiroquai and Damian Marley.

The festival has a strong line-up, with a particularly fine selection of French acts, most of which are no strangers to this blog.

The acts representing the local country include Orelsan, IAM, Nekfeu and Justice. Gojira, Girls in Hawaii, Roméo Elvis and BB Brunes are also on the bill. It's a pretty wide selection, from rap to metal to indie and dance, but if there's one thing linking them it's the fact that they're all at the top of  their game right now.

Elsewhere in France, Beauregard is also a pretty big event, held in Hérouville-Saint-Clair in Normandy.  It's certainly got its share of interesting acts and while there is some crossovevr with Main Square, there are a few differences too.

Among the French acts are Charlotte Gainsbourg, Orelsan and Petit Biscuit as well as Hollysiz, Nekfeu, Carpenter Brut and Ibeyi.

If the international acts are more how you measure it, you'll find Jack White, Simple Minds, The Offspring, MGMT along with At the Drive In and Macklemore.

Beauregard has an extra day at the end, aptly called The Day After, which features Depeche Mode and Girls in Hawaii along with Concrete Knives. Interesting to see two of France's top indie bands supporting the Mode. That will be quite a show.


Thursday, 5 July 2018

Juliette Armanet: A la folie (rework)

A new single by Juliette Armanet is always something to celebrate, and while A la folie has already appeared on her Petite Amie album, a new version of it gives the song an entirely new context.

A new version of her debut album was released recently, with an extra four tracks.

Petite Amie has certainly established Armanet as an artist, the album having sold over 100,000 copies and won the breakthrough album award in the Victoires de la Musique awards in February.

Her work has seen her compared to some of France's classic singer songwriters and in the space of a couple of years she's gone from developing artist to an act who sells out shows in Paris and plays in front of massive festival crowds such as this month's Les Francofolies de La Rochelle.

The crown she's wearing on the album sleeve is certainly well deserved.

There are, as I've mentioned repeatedly, a huge number of significant female artists emerging in France in recent years, from Christine to Fishbach, and there's little doubt that Juliette Armanet deserves her place at the forefront.