Monday, 30 April 2012

Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvage

Gojira are unquestionably one of the greatest rock bands to have emerged in the last couple of years, and their new album is certainly much-anticipated.

The album, their fifth and their debut oninternational rock label Roadrunner, is entitled L'Enfant Sauvage and comes out on June 25.

Ahead of the album the title track is being made available as a digital single and on the strength of this track the album looks set to be one of the key rock releases of the year.

Gojira's first album was released in 2001, having formed in 1996, and in the last decade they have gone from the metal underground to one of the most respected rock acts around.

With regard the new album, singer/guitraist Joe Duplantier said: "When you become a musician, you don't have a boss telling you what to do so you have to be very responsible,"

"With freedom comes responsibility so I'm asking myself, 'What is freedom? What does it mean to me?'

"L'Enfant Sauvage reflects on that. There's no answer though. There's just life and questions."

Commercial break: Jacqueline Taïeb – La Plus Belle Chanson

A brief appearance in an advert for Lynx's new range of hair product of the track La Plus Belle Chanson by Jacqueline Taïeb.

Taïeb came to prominince in the 1960s as one of the pop singers of that yéyé era. Tunisian born, she relocated to France as a child.

Her best-known song was 7 Heures Du Matin, a hit in 1967 which led to awards for best newcomer and best song at the first Midem festival in Cannes.

She enjoyed some success in the late 60s, although she disappeared from view in the 1970s, returning as a songwriter and a performer at the end of the decade.

She's released a few albums in the last decade, including a compilation The Complete Masterworks of the French Mademoiselle and a collection of new recordings Jacqueline Taïeb is Back.

Last year saw the release of a new track Dégage Song, in honour of the Jasmin Revolution in Tunisia.

The Lynx advert:

The original song:

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Zebda - Un Je Ne Sais Quoi

A new video by the mighty Zebda, whose latest album is certainly one of the contenders for album of the year as far as this blog is concerned.

The song Un Je Ne Sais Quoi comes from the Second Tour album, released in January this year, that marked the band's return last year following their split in 2003.

They were certainly missed - by me at least - and its great to have them back and releasing material that's as punchy as ever. While not still confronting political issues head on, Zebda never let this get in the way of a good tune.

As has been said: "if you can't dance, it's not a revolution worth having."

Zebda came to my attention with their 1998 Essence Ordinare album, which produced their best-known song Tomber La Chemise. They picked up two Victoires de la Musique awards in 2000, Best Song for Tomber... as well as the Best Group award. They also won two NRJ Music Awards for best Francophone Song and Best Francophone Group.

During the band's hiatus, members involved themselves in political issues, and the results from the first round of the presidential election certainly shows that there are a huge umber of issues to be addressed.

Zebda are touring in france in May and have festival dates in the summer across the country

Mr Oizo - Stade 3

Great to see the return of French music icon Flat Eric

His career's been quiet of late, but he's obviously not been idle following his meteoric rise to celebrity status.

I imagine the French tabloids have been covering his absence with all kinds of lurid speculation about what our yellow friend has been up to.

So heartening to see him here, at the top of his game and not looking a day older than we remember him.

Maybe Eric's been working in his acting skills. His dialogue skills put him on a par with most of Hollywood's A list.

There's some music on the clip as well, by someone called Mr Oizo. He's worked with Eric before so he's probably quite good.

Oizo's released the soundtrack for this video, along with other tracks as a free download, hoping no doubt to share some of Eric's spotlight.

The seven-track Stade 3 EP is available free from Oizo’s website. It's not a simple click-and-download affair, users have to navigate the website, Oizo describing it as "like a quest ! a shitty quest, but still, a QUEST."

Demand from users resulted in the site taking longer than it shoudl to run, leading to Oizo commenting on Twitter: "I'm actually happy about this BUG. it's like trying to find a record in a shitty shop. a SLOW shop."

So never mind the puppet, a new release by Mr Oizo and it's available free.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Bernard Lavilliers: Utopia

 An interesting new vesion of a work by political artist Bernard Lavilliers.

He take is work that originally appeared on a 1977 album and bring it right into a mordern context with a contemporary urban soundscape surrounding the words.

The track Utopia appeared originally on his 15e Round album, this new version was re-recorded by Lavilliers, the music by Xavier Tribolet.

Lavilliers notes that the work, 40 years after it was written, remains valid.

During is long career Lavilliers has engaged with a variety of genres, from rock to reggae and Brazillian, so putting the work in a new frame is a natural progression.

The new version of the song is available as a free download from

Monday, 23 April 2012

Martin Solveig: The Night Out

A new video by Martin Solveig, another track - the fifth to come out as a single - from 2011's Smash album.

 The video's a treat for any fan of Paris, that most cinematic of cities. Although as a long-time francophile I accept my judgement may be somewhat open to question.

Anyway, another catchy dancefloor filler and a raft of remixes that remodel the track.

Whether it's as big a smash (sorry!) as Ready to Go or Hello really doesn't matter as the album's raised Solveig's world DJ Rankings - as the Hello video would have it - to the premier league.

Since the Smash album came out he's collaborated with Madonna and while Give Me All Your Luvin' might not have been the hit that it was expected to be, the other tracks on the album and Madonna's tour will certainly keep the spotlight on him.

The new video also brings the Smash video story cycle to a happy ending, with Solveig getting the girl and Lafaille getting to steer the ship.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Record Store Day 2012: Catherine Ringer

With Record Store Day this weekend, a look at some of the French releases coming out to mark the occasion.

The day sees independent record shops stocking limited-edition material specially released for the day, with collectors and fans out early to make sure they get their hands on some of the items.

The day came about in an effort to halt the decline of the independent record shop, once a ccommon sight on the high street and now very much an endangered species.

First the chain stores outperformed them, stacking high and selling cheap the popular releases that the independent store relied on for its day to day income, then these chain stores themselves fell to the internet.

The days of a record shop being not just a retail outlet but also a cultural resource, musical education venue and hang-out are seemingly drawing to a close.

But Record Store Day aims to ensure the independent record shop has a future, by bringing some excitement to the retail experience, and also by showing the value of the independent record shop. It's also as much a celebration of music as it is of retail.

There are a huge number of big names included in the releases, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Abba

Last year saw noteable release by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Team Ghost. This year there are more releases than ever, and again some French music among the vinyl deluge.

This year sees a ten inch release by Catherine Ringer, a seven inch by Django Django, both on Because records.

Francois And The Atlas Mountains releases a split seven inch with Slow Club on Domino record.

A seven inch by Gojira, some with a T short hits the shops, as does a limited to 500 copies M83 single.

Soko releases a single, with exclusive track First Love Will Never Die for Record Store Day

Feist releases a split 7 incl single with Mastodon.

There's also a vinyl album release from the Grateful Dead of their epic track Dark Star, recorded at l'Olympia in Paris on their Europe '72 tour, one of the peaks of their long strange musical career.

See you in the vinyl section.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Festival: Justice at Coachella

Another look back to the weekend's Coachella festival, with the set by Justice emerging online.

Justice played on the main stage on the Sunday evening, although Calvin Harris was playing at the same time, giving dance fans a difficult choice. Rihanna played with Calvin Harris, on their collaboration We Found Love, giving the Scottish DJ the headlines, but from the strength of this video the thousands who went to see Justice were not disappointed.

Justice played an absolutely storming set, one critic on describing one moment as the 'most meta' of the festival, saying they: "slipped in a sample of Jay-Z's On To The Next One...which happens to sample Justice’s D.A.N.C.E. Well done, French dudes."

Credit to festival organisers for making such footage available. For all big events like Coachella attract tens of thousands of people, there must be thousands more who would want to be there. I can remember the days when the best you could hope for was an audio tape with several-generations of analogue hiss. The band gets poorly represented, the actual event forgotten and the fans usually ripped off.

This way we get to hear and see the acts in professional quality and the event gets an international audience who, while they might not actually have been there, will certainly wish that they had been. Who knows, they might get along at some point in the future. Everyone wins.

Justice Coachella-2012 by CatrachoEDDB

Monday, 16 April 2012

Festival: M83 at Coachella

This weekend saw the first weekend of the Coachella festival in the USA.

Held in the desert near Palm Springs in California, the festival aims to be an American equivalent of Glastonbury, but its proximity to Los Angeles, probably the centre of the world's entertainment industry, makes it a massive opportunity for the acts that play there.

As I mentioned earlier this year, a number of French acts took to the stage, this weekend M83 and Justice among the bands performing, David Guetta also playing.

While none of these acts managed to resurect a hologram of Tupac - unlike Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg - and while Radiohead and Bon Iver are more likely to be the names dropped by reviewers - the quality of the French acts playing this year will certainly have won them some influential friends and admirers.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Les Ramoneuers de Menhirs: Quebec tour

A huge number of live dates announced by Breton language punkers Les Ramoneuers de Menhirs.

The band have just begun a tour of Quebec and play fest noz dates and gigs over the summer, then go on to play dates in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in August, and more dates towards the end of the year across France.

Les Ramoneuers de Menhirs not only take Breton language and the Celtic culture into the 21st century, they're active in raising awareness of political issues, from ecology to anarchism, antifascism to anti-nuclear, and put Breton culture into a wider global context of resistance.

The band's most recent album, Amzer an dispac'h - their second - was released in 2010.

Full details on their website:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

François Hollande and Jay-Z

I earlier featured Nicolas Sarkozy's Deezer playlist that was released as part of the presidential election campaign, so to remove any accusation of political bias, I thought that François Hollande deserved a mention.

Hollande's latest campaign video is a bold move to capture the vote of the ethnic population and the resident of the banlieues, a potentially large electorate that is too frequently excluded from the political debate.

For all its well-meaning intent, it's pretty funny. There can't be many party political broadcasts that feature the word "motherfucker" so frequently. Hollande probably couldn't be whiter or less urban street credible if he tried, and that's before you consider the notion of him hanging with his crew of Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Wonder what they would make of the Parti Socialiste massive.

Worth noticing how little you actually see of "FH" in the video, with much more time being given to the voices and faces of voters.

Much of politics is about politicians winning over people who would normally be outside their sphere of influence, and at least he's trying.

There are still 11 days until the first round of voting. If a week in politics is a long time, there will certainly be more twists and turns before the final vote is cast.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Feist and M Ward: Sometimes Always

Footage has come out of Canadian singer Feist singing a Jesus and Mary chain number during her tour with support act M Ward.

The song was originally released in 1994 as a duet with Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star and featured on their Stoned and Dethroned album.

It was a UK top 30 single, and to these ears at least sounds like it evolved from the same bluesy americana swamp that spawned the post-Screamadelica sound Primal Scream would adopt for their Give Out But Don't Give Up album that came out the same year.

Primal Scream, a band formed around former Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie, went on to enjoy the commercial success that always eluded the Mary Chain.

M Ward was the support act for Feist's tour, Ward with a career that has seen him play as a well-established solo artist, as well as playing guitar with Bright Eyes and as half of the duo act She and Him with actress Zooey Deschanel. More significantly for this blog, he played guitar on Alain Bashung's Bleu Pétrole album.

Feist's debut album came out in 1999, the tour supporting her most recent release Metals. While she's enjoyed a hugely successful career, her best known song is probably 1234, which was adopted as the soundtrack for Apple's iPod Nano in 2007.

Feist releases a split single with rockers Mastodon as part of Record Store Day 2012 this weekend, Feist recording a version of Black Tongue and Mastodon covering Feist's A Commotion.

The Jesus and Mary Chain have, meanwhile, confirmed a date at a festival in China in May.

Françoise Hardy - Comment te dire adieu

Politics can be a tricky business, particularly for those who are not actually politicians.

Françoise Hardy says she will leave France if Socialist candidate François Hollande winds this month's presidential election.

It's over Hollande's proposal to tax millionaires 75% of their salaries.

Hardy told Le Point magazine that the policy would leave her 'living in the street' and that she would have to move to London or New York if Hollande gets in.

London's a pretty welcoming place to the non-domiciled super rich, where the tax breaks to foreigners who can say they have a 'residency' outside the UK while they are domiciled there are only a little behind places like Monaco, making it a friendly place for many a Greek shipping magnate, Russian oligarch and Arab oil heir.

She told the magazine that she only earns a meagre 150,000 euros a year, a fact certain to win her friends in the difficult economic times.

I'm reminded of the story about how Phil Collins would leave the UK if the Labour Party won the 1992 UK general election. He moved to Switzerland two years later even though Labour didn't win.

Whether his move to the tax haven was related - Collins said it was not - and the quote was misunderstood - he said he's never been a Conservative Party supporter - the story certainly stuck and Phil Collins has never enjoyed the widespread success he had in the UK in the 1980s since.

However, I'm sure Collins, worth apparently £115m and one of the richest people in the UK music industry and still residing in Switzerland, is not hugely troubled.

Hardy, incidentally, made her first TV appearance in 1962 during an interlude in a programme reporting the results of a presidential election referendum. Charles de Gaulle was president at the time, and the referendum helped secure the powerful position that the president currently has in France.

Politics can indeed be a tricky business.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chart: Sexion D'assaut - Avant qu'elle parte

A look at the French charts after a few weeks, and a major hip hop tune doing very well at the moment.

Sexion D'assaut are probably France's biggest hip hop act, probably the closest equivalent to the Wu Tang Clan, with their floating membership - of up to over 20 members - around several core members, and various sub-groups made up from band members and associates.

Their 2010 album L'école des points vitaux went triple platinum. Their 2012 L'Apogée collection, released in March, reaching number one in France and was certified platinum two weeks after its release.

The song Avant qu'elle parte is a different tone to their previous work, with a more sentimental vibe. It is thought to be a tribute to the mothers of band members JR O Crom and Maska.

This week's top five singles:

1) Gotye: Somebody that I used to know
2) Michel Telo Ai Se Eu Te Pego
3) Sexion D'assaut: Avant qu'ell parte
4) Lykke Li: I follow rivers
5) Nicki Minaj: Starships

Chart details from Disqueenfrance

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Amadou and Mariam feat. Bertrand Cantat: Oh Amadou

A new track from Malian duo Amadou and Mariam featuring former Noir Désir singer Bertrand Cantat.

The track comes from the new Amadou and Mariam, Folila, which was released in France this week.

The album sees them collaborate with other Western artists including Santigold, TV on the radio and Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters.

The duo have been releasing material outside Africa since the late 90s when they relocated to Paris, and while they enjoyed a a successful career, their 2004 album Dimanche à Bamako that saw them collaborate with Manu Chao giving them a huge international exposure. The album won a Victoire de la Musique best World Music album of the year award.

They went on appear at some of the biggest music festivals in the world, including Coachella, the Lollapalooza tour and Glastonbury, and supported U2 on tour.

While Amadou and Mariam are among the best-known ambassadors for their country, Bertrand Cantat remains a deeply controversial figure in light of events outwith his musical career. Many will never forgive him for killing his girlfriend and see his continuing public career as an endorsement of domestic violence.

Even with Cantat serving four years of an eight year sentence, and Noir Désir finally calling it quits, the question on whether or not Cantat deserves to be critically rehabilitated is unanswered.

Cantat recently collaborated with Shaka Ponk, and it seems that his involvement in music is quite different from the material he made his name with in the days of Noir Désir.

The debate about Cantat will continue to rage. While it does, a song that effortlessly returns blues-flavoured rock to its African roots merits your attention.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dominique A: Rendez Nous Les Lumières

A great track by Dominique A, Rendez Nous Les Lumières, from his recently-released new album.

The song is available on his ninth album, Vers Les Lueurs, which has been available in France since March 26.

Dominique A has been releasing work since the early 90s and is one of France's most acclaimed songwriters.

He has worked with Françoiz Breut, writing many of her songs, and has also writted for Jeanne Balibar and Jane Birkin, and worked with Yann Tiersen. Calexico and Francois and the Atlas Mountains have covered his songs.

The song L'été Summer by Julien Doré that I featured on this blog plast year was one of his songs, and his cover of Elli & Jacno's Je T'aime Tant was a highlight of last year's Jacno Future tribute album.

His new album follows his 2009 release La Musique which along with his other earlier albums was recently re-mastered and re-issued with a bonus disc and extra tracks.

Dominique A is touring France in April, and also has festival dates over the summer in France, Spain and Belgium.He plays the Casino de Paris on June 19.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Anna Remix

A new Charlotte Gainsbourg remix has been released, the track Anna (Moonlight Matters Remix) to features on a new EP which is scheduled to be released from today.

The original version of the track featured on last year's Stage Whisper (Live and Unreleased) album and the EP includes the original, as well as the Moonlight Matters version, and remixes by Tom Furse and Clock Opera.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is playing live dates across France in May, with dates in Brussels and Switzerland.

Editorial: April 2012

Another busy month passes, with almost the same amount of posting activity in a month as I managed in the first year of this blog.

The month saw the blog pass its second anniversary, and saw the numer of visitors continue to rise to the point that it is now correct to say there are thousands of visitors every month.

Thanks for coming along. Hope there's something you like.

From this month I aim to be a bit more organised with my reviews, and intend to feature a new album every week, as well as regular looks at French music classics, latest charts and developments in the French muscu world. I also intend to spend a bit more time letting folks know that the blog's here and let folks know about the reviews and articles here.

There are plenty of interesting releases over the next few weeks, with events like Record Store Day coming up as well as more details of France's music festivals being released.

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

Merci et à bientôt