Monday, 31 October 2011

Zombie-Zombie: Halloween

I've featured this band before when they played in Glasgow performing a live soundtrack to Battleship Potemkim, and a mention of their re-interpretation of John Carpenter's theme for Halloween, but I thought it was appropriate to feature it today.

Carpenter's synth music was startlingly effective in creating a sinister atmosphere in his movies, and performed by Zombie-Zombie they sound great in a modern context.

For all Carpenter gets a great deal of well-deserved credit for his film work, his status as an innovator in electronic music has never really been celebrated, so credit to Zombie-Zombie for dusting down this spooky corner of popular culture and shining a light on it.


Friday, 28 October 2011

News: Johnny Halliday at the Royal Albert Hall

With Johnny Hallyday confirming his first ever UK gig next year, I thought a track by the former M. Smet en anglais might be a good way to mark the occasion.

Johnny is playing the Royal Albert Hall on October 15 2012.

It'll I reckon almost certainly be a sell-out, I'm reminded of the time when he played Las Vegas in '96 , with 6,000 fans flying over in chartered planes and probably one of the most interesting dates in his tour.

Still, it was certainly a surprise to see Johnny appearing in page three of the Sun newspaper this morning!

He has already confirmed a number of arena dates around France through the summer of 2012 including three dates at the Stade de France in Paris in June.

Johnny is also expected to release a new album next year, a follow up to Jamais Seul.

Not bad for guy who announced his retirement in 2007. And also in 2009...

Despite his health scare in recent years, Johnny seems in fine form again, and is currently appearing on stage in Paris in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams play.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Lulu Gainsbourg - L'eau à la bouche

A new video by Lulu Gainsbourg for the song L'eau à la bouche, the first single from his forthcoming From Lulu to Gainsbourg album, to be released on November 14.

I featured the song at the beginning of September, but now that there's finally a proper video available I thought it merited another mention.

The video combines a modern hipster styling with a 60s retro feel, referencing the era of his father's original without simply trying to recreate past glories.

It's a great version of the song as well, and in the tradition of the best cover versions it stands up well by itself and shines a new light on the original.

I'm sure it would be easy enough for Lulu to do a straight "tribute" copy of the song, but credit to him for doing something different with it, and it really suits the tropicalia feel. For all his father's version was suitably jazzy, this take of the song sounds somehow more sophisticated and colourful.

Can't wait to hear the full album.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Yann Tiersen - Skyline

Another mention of the great Yann Tiersen, on account of his current tour to promote his recently-released Skyline album.

It's his seventh album, and was very much anticipated following last year's Dust Lane.

He's currently towards the end of his dates in the UK and playing in mainland Europe immediately after, with shows in France, Germany, Greece,Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark as well as Austria and the Netherlands.

He plays in the UK again at All Tomorrow's Parties at Minehead in December.

Skyline was released on October 17 in Europe, and will be released soon in the USA. the single Monuments preceded its release, and was the subject of a very nice video that I featured earlier.

Although best known for his soundtrack work, there's little doubt that with releases as fine as this Tiersen will be recognised as more than just the guy who did the soundtrack for Amélie.

The video is from a performance on the BBC's Review Show in September.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Commercial Break: Pink Floyd and Gini

I thought that with the current interest in Pink Floyd - with the release of the band's back catalogue in different editions ranging from remastered re-issues to massive box sets - a mention was deserved of a French advert that the band did in 1974 for Gini, the popular French soft drink.

The deal was that the band would appear in an advertising campaign, get some money and the company would also put some money towards the band's next French tour, keeping ticket prices down for the fans.

The campaign features a number of magazine adverts featuring the band, in a Dark Side style, obviously looking thirsty because of the desert they've been dubiously superimposed beside in those pre-Photoshop days.

It was about a decade before such commerial involvement between bands and brands became commonplace, and it apparently left a bad taste in the mouth of many of the band's fans. Perhaps more the taste of sour grapes rather than bitter lemon.

The band played a French tour - supporting their Dark Side Of The Moon release and previewing some of the material that would appear in their Animals album- in June 1974 ahead of their British Winter Tour 74, their first live airing of the Dark Side album with the circular screen that would be a trademark of the band's live shows from then on.

However, the Gini sponsorship mean that the drink was promoted in the halls the gigs were held in.

The sponsorship - and the bad feeling that it generated - inspired a song by the band, the so-far unreleased Bitter Love, also know as How do You Feel.

The band were so sullied by the experience of involvememt in the world of commerialism that they never repeated the move. Except for an advert for Nurofen (for headache relief!) and a tie-in with Volkswagen cars that saw a special Pink Floyd edition of the VW Golf released.

Here's a great vintage Pink Floyd clip from French TV show Bouton Rouge with Let There Be More Light. Got to love the presenter Pierre Lattes grooving away like a fifth member of the band. Lattes would later produce the seminal Camambert Electrique album by French-based prog psych band Gong a few years later.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Carla Bruni - You've Got The Silver

In light of the birth of France's First Baby, I thought it worth putting on a video of Carla Bruni doing what she used to be known best for in her pre-Sarko days.

I'll leave the politics and the celebrity stuff to other blogs. There's plenty that can be said there and little point in me adding to the debate.

Bruni has been working in music since 1997, her debut album Quelqu'un m'a dit coming out in 2002, having already worked with Julien Leclerc's 200 album Si j'étais elle.

Her second album came out in 2007, featuting the work of leading poets set to music, and her third Comme si de Rien N'était the following year, after she was married to Sarkozy.

Given her track record with classic rock artists a cover version of a Rolling Stones song seemed appropriate and its an interesting take on one of their many great songs hidden in their back catalogue.

Carla's sound is a sophisticated and jazzy one, along the lines of american artists like Norah Jones. It's a smooth and easy listening experience to sooth troubled ears.

I'm sure given the current difficult times, it's exactly the kind of thing that Monsieur le Président needs to chill out to after a hard day at the office.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Martin Solveig - Big in Japan

A new video from Martin Solveig, Big in Japan, the latest to come from this Smash album.

Like his earlier song Hello it features the vocals of Canadian electro-pop act Dragonette.

The video continues the "story" begun with the Hello video, which came out last year and continued with the Initials S.H.E. video, previewing tracks from the Smash album, and the Ready 2 Go video, released earlier this year.

Both were massive international hits, hello reaching the top ten in ten countries, and number one in several charts, Ready 2 go although not reaching such peaks still reaching the US Billboard top 50 and the top 20 in France and the UK Dance charts.

Solveig has been named as one of the producers of Madonna's next studio album. It's a big break for Solveig to be working with such a massive selling artist.

I've always thought that Madonna's career has been as much about her choosing her collaborators well than about her own talent, so I'm sure he'll have a big influence on her sound.

It also comes at a time when she'll be keen to retain her Queen of Pop title, with Lady Gaga seemingly taking on the role of biggest female figure in the music world without too much opposition.

Whether this is the last chapter of Smash I don't know, but one thing that is certain is that Solveig is a bigger star now than his 'manager' Lafaille would ever have hoped for in the videos.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Prix Constantin: Selah Sue

This year's Prix Constantin winner has been announced, and Belgian singer Selah Sue came out as this year's prizewinner with her debut album.

Selah Sue works in a soul/funk fusion style, an urban sound that is as accessible outside France as it is to a French audience.

Her self-titled debut album was released in March 2011, reaching number one across Belgium and the top ten in France.

The announcement the album was the winner was made at the Olympia in Paris on Tuesday October 17.

The award is similar to the UK's Mercury Music Prize, going to an album by an artist who has come to prominence but who has not had major media coverage.

Its the tenth anniversary of the prize, and ten acts had been shortlisted.

Alex Baupain, Brigitte, Cyril Mokaiesh, Lisa Portelli, Sly Johnson, Bertrand Belin, cascadeur, L, and The Shoes were all selected for the finals along with Selah Sue by a jury of 19 music professionals, including journalists and TV and radio producers.

The ten artists performed live and the winner was announced at the end of the show.

Last year's winner was Hindi Zahra with her album Handmade. Previous winners include Mickey 3D, Camille and Emily Loizeau.

Others nominated in previous years inclued Justice, Stromae, Julien Doré, Thomas Dutronc, Grand Corps Malade, Phoenix and even Carla Bruni, all of which have gone on to take their place among the best-know contemporary artists in French music.

There's always some debate about competitions with regard musical artists, and whether in an artistic matter one act can actually ever be said to be 'better' than another, but in terms of introducing artists to a public who might not be aware of them, it's a process that succeeds for both the artists and the audience.

While winning a prize might not necessarily be a guarantee of an immediate A-List music career - remember that with many of the Mercury Award Winners like Roni Size, Gomez and Speech Debelle have not gone on to be household names - the process certainly succeeds in raising awareness about an artist.

The shortlisted acts receive a huge amount of press and media attention and no doubt win over a few more listeners, and while there might only be one overall winner, all ten certainly win in terms of the benefits of the publicity.

Hopefully some of the names shortlisted this year, as well as the winner, will become the big names in years to come. We'll certainly keep a listen.

Radio station France Inter will be broadcasting a special programme on October 24 and there will be TV coverage of the event on France 2 on October 28 and France 4 on November 9.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Elisa Tovati & Tom Dice - Il Nous Faut

I've not been updating with the latest from the Franch charts for the last few weeks on account of them being pretty static, with David Guetta's gradual world domination taking over the Franch charts as much as elsewhere, and the likes on LMFAO sitting in the top areas of the French charts.

However, one exception was the song Il Nous Faut by Elisa Tovati & Tom Dice.

Tovati is an actress who has also been active as a singer since 2002, when she released her debut Ange Étrange.

This song is a duet with Belgian singer Tom Dice, who competed for Belgium in 2010, coming sixth in the competition.

Dice had previously won the country's X Factor in 2008, and released his debut album Teardrops in 2010, a number one album in the Belgian Flemish charts. His song Me and My Guitar was number one across the country the same year.

The song is on Tovati's most recent album, which was released in June 2011, Le Syndrome de Peter Pan. The album, her third, has been ber most successful so far, and the single her biggest hit, with a top five placing in France and reaching the number one position in Belgium.

This week's top five:

1) Mika: Elle me dit
2) Moussier: Tombola Logobitombo
3) Pitbull feat Marc Anthony: Rain Over Me
4) Inna Modja: French cancan
5) Elisa Tovati & Tom Dice Il Nous Faut

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Herman Düne - Tell Me Something I Don't Know

A heads-up for French duo Herman Düne who are touring at the moment, with dates in the UK at the moment and shows in mainland Europe in November.

The band is essentially a duo of David-Ivar Herman Dune, vocals guitar and songwriting and Néman Herman Dune, drums and backing vocals. For their tour their line up is augmented by bass player Ben Pleng.

Herman Düne has been active since 1999, releasing their debut Turn off the Light in 2000. The band have been getting a higher profile since the release of their 2006 album Giant and its follow up Next Year in Zion.

Their most recent album Strange Moosic came out in May 2011, featuring the track Tell Me Something I Don't Know.

It's a great video, featuring an apeparance by the actor who plays Mad Men's Don Draper, Jon Hamm. Hopefully the presence of a genuine Hollywood A-list celeb will get the band a bit more well-deserved exposure.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Adam Cohen - What Other Guy

While his new release is in English, Adam Cohen merits a mention here on account of his previous francophone work.

I've features Thomas Dutronc, as well as Lulu and Charlotte Gainsbourg recently, artists who have carved out their own musical identities while coming from famous musical families.

Of course, while a famous surname can open doors, the weight of expectation can be a burden. How does an artist live up to the high water mark of the last generation?

For Adam Cohen it must be more difficult than most, as the son of Leonard Cohen - to these ears at least the greatest songwriter ever - the standard that he is expected to reach could hardly be higher.

But with his new album, his third, he carries the weigh lightly, both confident in his own ability and at ease with his family legacy.

Cohen, although born in Montreal, spent much of his childhood in France after his parents separated. He was signed as a solo artist in 1997 after he moved to LA, having spent some time in bands in New York.

His self-titled debut album was released in 1998 and in 2004 a French language collection entitled Mélancolista was released. Between then and now Cohen was involved in the band Low Millions.

Cohen now accepts the legacy of his father, performing his work, and has said that his songs on this collection are reminiscent of his father's earlier work, a sound that Cohen senior has long moved away from as he embraced changes in style over the decades.

While his previous projects have met with critical approval, they've never achieved a commercial breakthrough. Cohen, older and wiser, looks set to finally get some of the credit he deserves in his own right for Like a Man.

Adam Cohen is touring extensively in Europe until the end of the year.

Yuksek - Always On The Run

Another single by Yuksek, Always on the Run, the second to come from his second studio album, Living On The Edge Of Time.

The video is by Skinny (Partizan) - David Hache and Marc-Edouard Leon - who were the team behind Kesha's take it off as well as work by Marina and the Diamonds and Cee-Lo.

Living On The Edge Of Time was released earlier this year, this track being a nice blend of indie and electro that showcases his vocals.

Previously he's featured guest vocalists, this album displaying a change in direction towards a more personal and reflective style, more thoughtful and less nightclub, although still obviously influences by a dance music DNA.

It's quite a commercial number, but more of a song than a simple dance product. It's another step in his continuing evolution as an artist who seems to be moving more towards the area of the songwriter having already mastered the art of the producer.

Yuksek - Pierre-Alexandre Busson as he's known to his mum and dad - is touring France in October and has some dates in New York and a couple of UK shows in November.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Editorial: October 2011

Another month along for the Vive le Roq blog, and we're well into prime release time for new music.

There's been some great music released recently and it's been a real pleasure to hear some amazing new material.

Last month has seen releases by Louise Attaque, Justice, Lulu Gansbourg and Thomas Dutronc that strongly make the case for why I started up the blog in the first place.

There's a huge amount of music coming out of France that deserves a listen, and hopefully I'm doing my bit to get a few new ears to some of it.

I've also been working my way through a mountain of vintage vinyl, so I'll be featuring some older francophonish material as well.

Again we've had a good month for visitors, and hopefully October will see another increase. I certainly intend to get as much as I can on the blog over the next few weeks.

Thanks again to some of the artists, record companies and pr people who have been in touch, it is hugely encouraging to get the positive feedback. Special mention has to be made to teh god people at Francophonie Diffusion.

As always I can be contacted by email on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom. just change the words for the symbol or the dot.

Merci et à bientôt