Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New: Thomas Dutronc - Demain

A new release by Thomas Dutronc, a musician who shows that it's possibles for musicians to work in the family business without having to retrace their parents' footsteps.

Thomas Dutronc is of course the son of Jacques Dutronc and Françoise Hardy, but he has forged his own career and enjoyed considerable success in his own right.

He released his first solo album at the age of 34, having studied manouche gypsy swing jazz guitar for years before collaborating with Corsican musicians Antoine Tatich and Jérôme Ciosimusicians in the AJT trio, establishing a reputation on the jazz scene, and working with Jacno, -M- and Françoise Hardy while also working as an actor.

His first solo album Comme Un Manouche Sans Guitar was released in 2007, from which came the hit J'aime plus Paris. In 2009 he won a Victoires de la Musique award for the original song of the year for the song Comme un Manouche Sans Guitare.

Since then he has released a live album, and contributed to the soundtrack of the film Adele Blanc-Sec and the Jacno tribute album Jacno Future.

The song Demain comes ahead of his new album "Silence on tourne, on tourne en rond" which comes out on October 3.

Friday, 26 August 2011

New: Charlotte Gainsbourg - Terrible Angels

A new single from Charlotte Gainsbourg ahead of the release of her new album.

Terrible Angels comes as part of an EP that comes out on September 6, with the double album Stage Whisper coming out on November 8.

It's quite different from her most recent release Mémoir, which came out as a limited edition single earlier this year for Record Store Day, written by Conor O'Brien of Villagers.

Terrible Angels was written and produced by Beck, who collaborated with Charlotte on her IRM album. It sounds more Goldfrapp than some of her more laid back work, and for a track that was apparently an outtake it certainly stands up well beside her other work.

Stage Whisper will include seven previously unreleased studio recordings and 11 live tracks, the studio material consisting mostly of material recorded during the sessions for her 2010 IRM album.

The video is directed by Nathalie Canguilhem, who has worked with Charlotte before on her video for The Songs We Sing as well as with Uffie, David Guetta and St Germain.

Commercial Break: Cassius - Citroen DS4 advert

Another fine slice of French funk quietly making its presence felt in the media in the UK.

I <3 U So by Cassius is being used in the advert for the Citroen DS4 'why conform' campaign.

The track comes from the band's Rawkers EP, released in 2010. Its a great track to use for a car that gives a 21st century re-imagining to a world-famous French marque.

Cassius - a duo of Philippe Cerboneschi and Hubert Blanc-Francart, better known as Philippe Zdar and Boom Bass - have been releasing material since the mid 1990s.

Although maybe not as high profile as Daft Punk, they're very much at the forefront of French dance electronica, working with Phoenix, MC Solaar and Chromeo as well as their own projects that have included a top 10 single in the UK

Meanwhile, the song has got more attention after it was sampled on for track Why I Love You on Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration album Watch the Throne, released earlier this month.

I love the video for the song a nice simple idea done very well, although I've not dowloaded the app yet. The car's not bad either.

The Citroen advert:

Thursday, 25 August 2011

New: Mika - Elle Me Dit

A new song by Mika, from his forthcoming new album, and in a bold move for a UK based singer, he's released a song in French.

Mika's 2007 debut Life in Cartoon Motion sold by the million internationally and snagged him a Brit award and a Grammy nomination

Born in Beiruit to American and Lebanese parents, Mika's got serious French roots, having moved to Paris as a baby where he stayed until he was nine.

The family then moving to London where he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, before going to an English school.

Elle Me Dit is the first song from his third album, The Origin of Love, which is expected to come out in early 2012.

It's the first song he's released in French and others are expected to be included on the album.

Speaking to France Soir in June, he said the album was "A very pop album in English, along with songs in French." He said that for the French songs he worked with a lyricist called Dorian, who wrote the French version of his international hit Grace Kelly.

A great video for the song, featuring a guest appearance by French actress Fanny Ardant.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Gérald De Palmas - L'étranger

A new track by Gérald De Palmas has emerged, coming out ahead of the release on his 'Best of' album, which is to be released in November 2011

De Palmas has been releasing music as a solo artist since the release of his 1994 Le Derniere Année debut album, his reputation established by the song Sur la Route.

Previously he had worked with Etienne Daho in a band, which although not successful established him as a writer and singer, eventually coming to wider attention after winning the Musique de Demain talent show on M6.

His career has so far seen two Victoires de la Musique awards, the first was Male Revelation of the Year in '96. While his second album failed to follow his debut's success, his career enjoyed a massive resurgence in the wake of his 2000 Marcher dans le Sable album and tour, a second Victoires de la Musique award, this time for Best Male Artist coming in 2002.

The Best of Album - released on November 7- includes the song L'étranger as well as De Palmas's own unreleased version of his Song Marie which he wrote in 2002 and was recorded by Johnny Hallyday on his A la ie, à la mort album, giving Johnny not only a number one hit but also one of his signature songs.

Monday, 22 August 2011

New: Jacno Future - Je T'aime Tant by Dominique A

A wonderful version of the song Je T'aime Tant by Dominique A from the Jacno Future tribute album, released recently to celebrate the legacy of the late Stinky Toys, Elli et Jacno and solo artist.

I've already featured the Elli at Jacno version of this song recently on the blog, and I've also mentioned the Jacno Future album, but this is such an outstanding version of the song that I thought it certainly deserved a mention in its own right.

One of the things I have enjoyed most about writing this blog is coming across music that I might never have heard that just amazes me, and this is certainly such a song.

Taking what was en electro song with a female vocalist and re-imagining it this way brings the focus right back to the strength of the song.

There is also a great version by Indochine, which although certainly with its charms is more of a regular rock song than this nicely understated and tasteful take on the song.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Commercial Break: Jacques Dutronc Kleenex advert

I was astonished to hear the Jacques Dutronc song Mini Mini Mini being used as the soundtrack for a new TV advert for Kleenex in the UK.

Never thought of a connection between either the song or Dutronc and paper tissues, but someone in advertising obviously spotted a link between a smaller box of tissues and a 60s French pop tune.

But any excuse for an airing of this classic to a UK audience is welcome. I'm sure plenty of people are now enjoying Dutronc for the first time.

Dutronc is at his finest here, both celebrating and mocking simultaneously with some clever wordplay and a great tune.

It's a wonderful 60s video as well, made all the funnier by the line at the end by his later wife Françoise Hardy that "In England everyone wears a mini skirt, even the Scots."

Bikini Machine, who we featured earlier on Vive le Roq, did a great cover on their 2005 Joue Dutronc album and there's also an interesting industrial rock version of the song by KMFDM on their 2005 Hau Ruck album.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

New: Yann Tiersen - Monuments

A new video for the new single monuments by Yann Tiersen.

The single comes out as a limited edition vinyl 7', which is available to order from

While best known for his work on the Amelie soundtrack, he's had a long career as a musician, his first album coming out in 1995 having been learning piano, violin and guitar from an early age, with a classical training at musical academies.

He has collaborated with Lisa Germano, Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy, Stuart Staples from the Tindersticks, Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins and Jane Birkin

He's was also behind the soundtrack for the film Goodbye Lenin and the documentary Tabarly.

Last year he released Dust Lane, his sixth album, recorded in Ouessant, an island off the coast of West Britanny.

His new album Skyline comes out on October 18, and he is touring the UK in October with dates in London, Brighton, Leeds, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham

Monuments from Yann Tiersen on Vimeo.

Friday, 12 August 2011

New: Jacno Future and Etienne Daho

With two mentions of musician Jacno - the performer originally known as Denis Quillard - in the past couple of weeks on the site, with Stinky Toys and with his later duo with Elli Medeiros Jacno and Elli, I was pleased to hear that a tribute album to Jacno, who died in 2009, has been released.

Jacno Future came out in June, and features his music performed by artists including Jacques Higelin, Brigitte Fontaine, Miossec and Thomas Dutronc.

There are two versions of his key piece Rectangle, the instrumental that established him as an electro artist following the demise of Stinky Toys.

This track Amoureux Solitaires is performed by Etienne Daho, who worked with Jacno on his solo works. Daho has had a long career since the 1980s and is one of the few French artists to have a following in the UK primarily on account of his work with St Etienne.

Daho collaborated with Jacno on Jacno's 1991 album Une idée derrière la tête and on his 1995 Faux Témoin album. Jacno produced Daho's 1981 debut album Mythomane.

The video, directed by Gaétan Châtaigner takes its inspiration from the Fritz Lang film Metropolis, which with its retro futuristic style fits very well with Jacno's musical vision.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rétro: Elli et Jacno - Je t'aime Tant

Following on from last week's clip of Stinky Toys, a clip of Elli at Jacno from their career as a duo in the 1980s.

Their sound on this song was a far more techno pop one than their earlier new wave/punk work with Stinky Toys, but their adopting a keyboard-dominated sound was an obvious continuation of their forward-looking attitude.

Jacno had been inspired by Kraftwerk, and prior to working as half of Elli et Jacno had released a minimalists electro EP Rectangle, which had met with some critical success, which after the commercial and critical failure of Stinky Toys must have seemed like a step in the right direction. One song on the EP featured vocals by Elli, so the decision to continue the collaboration seemed to be an obvious one.

The duo is similar in some ways to the electro duos of the 80s that were hugely popular in the UK, from Soft Cell to the Pet Shop Boys. Elli et Jacno never enjoyed the same mainstream success in the UK that these other acts did, although they did make the front of one of the UK's music magazines at the time.

The electro pop genre was probably guilty of marginalising the female vocalist and while the Human League did feature their female backing singers heavily, only really Yazoo made the most of a female singer. Elli's vocals may not be comparable to Alison Moyet, but she does do a very good line in a and stylish cool vocal.

Elli et Jacno took the pop sound of 60s France and updated it for the new decade, and came up with some great songs along the way and this is certainly one of them.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Live: KKC Orchestra at Edinburgh Fringe

I featured KKC Orchestra when they played at Glastonbury, so I thought a reminder that they are playing three nights at the Edinburgh Fringe was well in order.

They play on the 11th 12th and 13th of August at the Voodoo Rooms White Mink cabaret show.

The event is described as an "Electro Swing Speakeasy" so it sounds like the kind of event that they would fit right in with. With theartre and spectacle, it promises more than an average rock gig, and KKC are certainly more than an average rock band.

The publicity for the event describes the KKC Orchestra as an "Amazing French swing-beat quartet that pit jazz musician brother and sister on guitar and piano respectively against slamming beats, turntables and a French rapper. It sounds improbable but this is a jumping live act..."

The club runs throughout the Fringe, but the KKC Orchestra only plays three nights. The organiserss recommend audience members dress up "To fully participate in the White Mink experience."

The band, a four piece from Toulouse, released their first EP Dig Your Own Swing at the end of May.

KKC Orchestra - Cloche pieds by petitlubzh

Monday, 8 August 2011

New: Seed From the Geisha - Talk Peace to the Wolf

I was very pleased to get my hands on the debut album by Paris-based rock band Seed from the Geisha, Talk Peace to the Wolf.

I've featured them before, having heard a track on an earlier edition of the French Music Podcast UK.

The band are a fine example of what a rock band should sound like these days, epic without being blustering, with an instrumental ability that impresses without straying into self-indulgence and with great songwriting ability underpinning everything.

They remind me of a heavier Manic Street Preachers, and although a heavy rock band, they're not one that takes an easy road and chooses to limit themselves to playing within a restricted genre. Rather they push both the boundaries and themselves a little further and come up with something better as a result.

I'd like to hear more of this band and this promising debut marks them as a band with the potential to progress into something very special indeed.

Some of their tracks are available to hear on their MySpace site here>

Friday, 5 August 2011

Commercial break: Yelle

I came across this advert for Dove shower gel by Yelle, which is pretty funny and a good example of why music and advertising are uneasy bedfellows.

It's an incredibly cheesy advert, I'd like to think that it's knowingly so, but it's pretty hard to tell.

One thing that does strike me is how much the song sounds like a regular Yelle song. Perhaps their songs sound like ad jingles, or maybe they're just pretty switched on to consumerism and marketing.

The advert came out in 2009, and I reckon Yelle have become a bit more sophisticated since then.

I see that Dove are using the Go Fresh slogan in the UK, but I won't hold my breath about whether or not we'll be seeing this advert on the TV here anytime soon!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Rétro: Stinky Toys - Birthday Party

A great clip from a French punk bank from the late 70s. Stinky Toys were from Rennes, and were around from '76 to '79, and were one of the prime movers of the French punk scene.

Like a lot of French punk it doesn't seem to fit our preconceptions of the genre, it doesn't seem aggressive or particularly angry, and more stylish than street.

But the band were right there from the start playing in London at the punk festival at the 100 club in London in 1976, apparently coming across the channel without any instruments or equipment and borrowing their gear from other bands on the bill.

Those other bands included The Clash, Sex Pistols and the Damned and the Buzzcocks. A legendary event that set the agenda for popular music in the UK and abroad for decades.

The band had come into contact with Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren during his time in Paris, and its thought that Stinky Toys singer Elli inspired the punk movement adopting the safety pin as a fashion statement after she wore an outfit adorned with then.

Its strange how contemporary the music clip seems. Kate Moss would be a dead ringer for the singer Elli, while the band sound more like a 2010s indie band than a 70s punk act.

Stinky Toys managed to release two albums during their original career, a self-titled album later re-titled Plastic Faces came out in 1977, but a lack of critical support led to it facing apathy from the record company who did not release it outside France. A second album came out in 1979.

Elli and guitarist Jacno worked as a duo in the 80s after the end of Stinky Toys, both then having solo careers. Elli continues to release music and has a career as an actress, while Jaco died of cancer in 2009.

It's a great clip of the band in their prime, and while the dancing seems to be a little bit less choreographed than we expect these days, I suspect it might be more down to avoiding a wardrobe malfunction than anything else.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Festivals: Les Ogres de Barback at Solidays

I've failed to cover Les Ogres de Barback so far here, and I really should have done something sooner, so here they are with their own video diary of when they played at the Solidays festival in Paris, on June 24.

The festival is an anti-Aids solidarity event befitting Solidarité sida at the Longchamps racetrack that has been running since 1999. The three day event normally features around 150 artists, and this year over 155,000 festival goers got to see acts ranging from Mark Ronson, Cold War Kids, the Go! Team and Moby as well as plenty of French artists including Yael Naim, Têtes Raides and Stromae.

The event aims to raise awareness to the problem of Aids, particularly to a young audience.

Since they former in '94, Les Ogres have released a dozen albums, their most recent being this year's Comment je suis devenu voyageur.

The band fall right into that unclassifiable area of French music between traditional French chanson, gypsy and rock, the only reference point for the unfamiliar ear would be some of the work of Tom Waits, although with perhaps a bit more of a world music flavour.

Their work celebrates the outsider and the marginalised, with a hopeful poetry and popular spirit.

The band have followed a very individual career trajectory over the years, with releases including children's music and collaborations with other artists, and a commercial success that seems to have evolved organically along the way rather than one that seems to have been planned. Despite not toeing any line but their own, they've sold thousands of records and play to some of the country's biggest venues.

With an attitude more in common with punk pioneers like Fugazi, they organise their own tours, their own record label and their own distribution. It seems to be a policy that has served them well, and probably in better shape than those that hitched their wagon to the entertainment multinationals.

Les Ogres - Blog sur la route - Episode 13 by Les_Ogres_de_Barback

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

New: Yuksek - Living on the edge of Time

Yuksek - Pierre-Alexandre Busso - has released his second album, and it is getting some front-page promotion on MySpace ( or My___ as it is these days).

Hopefully it will give the release a higher profile than it might normally have in the UK, but given the fact that that MySpace seems to be becoming is increasingly redundant, its probably not the career break it might have been a few years ago.

But that being said, it certainly deserves some attention, it's a premium slice of French electro that is both uplifting and clever.

Yuksek, from Reims, released his first album on 2007 having begun to perform under that name the previous year. He had been studying piano until then

His debut Away from the Sea came out in 2009, attracting some attention in France, and putting his career as a Dj and producer into high gear. He has worked with acts like the Klaxons and Peaches and remixed acts like Gorillaz, Gossip and Gaga, to list only those that start with a G.

His second album - Living on the Edge of Time - came out last month. While more pop orientated than its predecessor, it's a great indication of where modern electronic music is at, clever and experimental as well as playful and fun.

The album also features all the vocals by Yuksek himself - previously he had used guest vocalists such as Chromeo and Amanda Blank to provide the voices for his music.

He says that the album is an artistic departure from his first album, in that it is less aimed at just a club audience and a more personal work.

He said: ""I admit; mentally, I needed to get away from the new just-for-the-sake-of-being-new trappings of dancefloor culture"

"The saturated synth noises, the crunching beats or distorted mayhem; these songs asked for different things. Like melody, for instance!"

"The synths are still there, but now they are serving the song, and much less the Dj"

Monday, 1 August 2011

Editorial: August 2011

July 2011 was again a record month for Vive Le Roq in terms of visitor numbers, so thanks for dropping by, I'm very grateful.

This month things will be a little different, primarily because for the first two weeks of August I will be away from the computer keyboard and enjoying some holiday time, so rather than hoping to grab some time while on holiday to write up Vive le Roq, and inevitably not being able to on account of being busy having fun, I though I would write up a few articles in advance and hopefully these will publish while I am away.

For July I also have to thank some of the record companies who have been in touch, and this month a special thanks has to go to Cuneiform Records for the round-up of recent Richard Pinhas releases, which should be appearing here over the next couple of days.

I'm a huge fan of Pinhas, and I'm very grateful to him and the team at Cuneiform for the opportunity to review some of his recent work and for him taking the time to sign them for a fanboy like me!

Like previous months, July has given me a chance to not only talk about some music I love, but to also hear some new stuff that I've not heard before. I've thouroughly enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to spending a couple of weeks listening to more new material as well as old stuff that's new to me.

As always, if you want to get in touch I am available on email at John Kilbride AT hotmail DOT com (no space between my first and second name, use the appropriate symbols instead of the AT and the DOT, but I'm sure you probably figured that out...)