Thursday, 20 January 2011

Retro: Francoise Hardy - The Garden of Jane Delawney

Love this piece of pastoral psyche that was originally done by The Trees, a British folk-rock band, in their 1970 album of the same name.

I think this cover is a great example of how an artist should do a cover version, that is to say, make it their own. Not just an impersonation of the original, but a re-versioning of it so that it is as much a work by the artist doing the cover as it is by the original artist.

It keeps the dreamy quality of the original, but adds a sophistication to it, making it something more akin to Jane Birkin than Fairport Convention.

Bear in mind, she's singing in English as well. It's a strange song and this to these ears at least add to this, giving it a strange sense of 'other-ness.'

Not her best-know song by any means, but a gem well worth a listen.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New: Mylène Farmer - Bleu Noir

I'm always amazed how little known Mylène Farmer is outside France, and what an immensely big figure she is in France.

Any time she does pop up in the media in the UK, she's usually referred to as 'The French Madonna'. Hardly a just comparison, they couldn't be further removed from each other than the fact that both are female and hugely successful artists.

To be honest I've always appreciated Farmer's work more than I've liked it. While I could appreciate the songs and the lyrics, I found the arrangements and production let them down.

My ears, atuned as they are to a more rock background, found the music lacking, a rather tame take on dance music at a time the genre was expanding and innovating hugely.

But hearing some of her new material from her 2010 album Bleue Noir seriously impressed me. Perhaps its because she's working with Moby - is one of the main innovative figures in music over the last few years - but this is for my money Mylene Farmer at her best.

I've been listening to the title track of the album heavily over the last few days and it's one of those songs that just grabs you and doesn't let go. The music and voice are just perfect together. It makes me want to listen to it in a club, at a huge volume, and dance very badly. It makes me want to raise my hands in the air while sitting at my desk listening on headphones.

So is she the French Lady Gaga? The French Kate Bush? Make your own comparisons. Any way its great.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

New: Yelle release title track of second album

If there's a French act that makes it big in the UK in 2011, my money would be on Yelle. They're supporting Katy Perry on her UK tour, so they'll get a huge amount of attention as well as a huge audience.

The band, a three-piece electropop outfit led by the singer of the same name from St Brieuc in Brittany, have already carved a name for themselves in France and beyond with songs line Je veux te Voir and A cause des garçons.

Their appearance at the Coachella festival and a French version of Roby's Who's that girl - and Roby's English version of A cause des garçons (Because of boys)

The second album, their follow-up to 2007's Pop-Up, is due to be released on March 21 in the UK and the title track is available to donwload free from Yelle's official website>

The Katy Perry tour is probably a result of the remix Yelle did of Katy Perry's Hot n Cold, which was released on a digital remixes EP.

Full tour dates below the video.

Tour dates supporting Katy Perry

London Hammersmith Apollo - March 17/18/19
Manchester Apollo - March 21/22
Liverpool Arena - March 27
Nottingham Trent FM Arena - March 30
Bournemouth BIC - March 31
Cardiff International Arena - April 1
Newcastle Metro Radio Arena - April 3
Birmingham LG Arena - April 4
Glasgow SECC - April 5
London Wembley Arena - April 9

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Live: Celtic Connections 2011

It is again the time of year when Glasgow gets a serious dose of Celtic music with the Celtic Connections festival taking place at venues across the city.

There are some 1500 artists and 300 events, ranging from big shows at the Royal Concert Hall to small workshop events for musicians, over a period of 18 days.

As expected, celtic music dominates the programme, but its always a wide and diverse bill, encompassing areas that have been influenced by celtic music such as americana and music with celtic roots from around the world.

Get full details of this year's Celtic Connections from the event's website>

However, for the Vive le Roq purposes the event is a little on the sparse side for French-related celtic music, disappointing when you consider the volume of celtic music from Brittany and how diverse it is.

Previous celtic Connections have seen the likes of Alan Stivell and (if I remember right...) Dan Ar Braz.

But all is not lost, mama Rosin, a Swiss cajun/zydeco act are playing in Glasgow as part of their UK tour

They're playing Glasgow on Jan 22, full details of their tour below the video for their song Le Pistolet


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

News: Scotland to win the Tour de France?

So Scotland might be the host for the Grand Départ for the Tour de France in 2017?

Here's a report I wrote for the STV News website on Monday.

Here's hoping! I wonder if people realise what a big deal it is? Huge viewing figures, massive logistics and millions looking at Scotland in the height of the summer.

The benefits would be massive, so fingers crossed it comes to something. Never mind London getting the Olympics, this is the one I want!

Hopefully the Tour organisers will look at not only the history of the links with Scotland, but also at how we coped with the Papal visit last year and how we deal with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

We should certainly be in with more than an outside chance.

So to mark the momentous occasion (ok, perhaps a little bit prematurely...) here's Breton band Merzhin's Maillot Jaune.

Merzhin Maillot Jaune
Uploaded by merzhin---merzhin. - See the latest featured music videos.

Monday, 10 January 2011

New year, new Roq!

It's the first full week back at work for Vive le Roq for 2011, and I thought it worth flagging up what we're planning for the year ahead.

In short, much more Vive le Roq!

When I got the blog up and running, my intention was to have an update every day, Mon - Fri, but things got in the way, time was against me, etc and it never really got to the level of content that I had planned.

But with the new year comes new resolutions, and a more regular Vive le Roq update is one of mine, starting today and from now on. (Or until I get too busy, obviously!)

So rather than just battering on, I think it makes it easier both for me and for the reader if I get a little bit more organised, so here goes.

I'll have five loose categories, a different one for each day of the week, and a spare one for whenever or whatever...

Monday: Editorial: Something a bit like what you are reading just now, plans for the blog, or something in particular I think deserves special attention

Tuesday: New: Hilighting a new act or song,

Wednesday: Retro: Something from the past that I reckon is worth flagging up.

Thursday: Off beat: Something perhaps a bit obscure or unusual, maybe something that comes outwith the usual pop or rock boundaries. Jazz, folk, experimental...

Friday: Chart: What's making the charts in France. Might be something new, or something that has been significant in the charts, what's at number one, that kind of thing.

Any of these may be dropped or changed or moved about as I see fit, or replaced by any of these spare categories:

News: fairly obvious, something that I reckon merits inclusion on account of its newsworthiness

Interview: probably won't be many in this category, but hopefully an area something that will develop over the year

Live: maybe someone I've seen live, maybe tour information of an act who are in the UK

In short, trying to make some sense of what is a huge field, and hopefully cover as much ground as I can.

Wish me luck!