Friday, 29 June 2012

M83: Oblivion soundtrack

Anthony Gonzales, the man behind M83, is reported to be working on the soundtrack of a major Hollywood film.

He's working on the soundtrack of the SF movie Oblivion, according to The Playlist, a film starring Tom cruise.

The film is being directed by Joseph Kosinski, whose first major film was Tron Legacy.

Tron Legacy was soundtracked by Daft Punk, so it seems Kosinski is no stranger to the French music scene.

Gonzales recently moved to LA to pursue film soundtrack opportunities. His music's always had a filmic quality, and a science fiction film sounds a perfect vehicle for M83's electronic space-influenced sounds.

Kosinski says that he was working on Oblivion before Tron Legacy, and even then was listening to M83. While M83s last album Hurry Up I'm Dreaming established them to a huge audience, particularly in the USA, they've got an impressive back catalogue and Gonzales has proved himself as a first-rate musical visionary.

In some respects I can imagine M83 working well with film in a way like Krautrock electronic act Tangerine Dream did in the late 70s.

It isn't M83's first film soundtrack involvement, having worked on Gilles Marchand's L’Autre Monde (aka Black heaven) in 2010. That film included two new M83 songs and five previously released numbers.

Others to appear in Oblivion, currently in post-production, along with Tom Cruise are Morgan Freeman, Zoe Bell and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Oblivion is scheduled for release in 2013.

Rétro: Claude François: Alexandrie Alexandra

>With the Claude François biopic getting some attention, I thought I'd put on a clip of him doing his thing in his own unique style.

It's a hilarious clip that looks like something that might appear these days in a comedy show. There are many who believe that the 70s were a decade that taste forgot. There are also those that believe French music is rubbish. This clip seems to back those arguments.

However, worth trying to put things into some kind of historical context. This kind of music was in its day seen as pretty sophisticated and modern, to a commercial audience at least. The music business was geared up to be forward looking and  constably in search of the latest trend.

Combine this with a limited opportunity for television exposure, and a television system that was aiming for a wide audience rather than niche target markets - no doubt staffed by workers who were there when things were all done in black and white and keen to make the most of colour - and you can see why spectacle could take precedence to artistic sensibility.

In comparison, it's worth remembering that France certainly didn't have a monopoly on this kind of thing. Cloclo also appeared on TV in the UK, on Seaside Special. Older readers might remember this kind of "Light Entertainment" television. Suffice to say it wasn't exactly The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Cloclo's work wasn't always so disco orientated, but this came towards the end of his career when this was the music that was popular, and Cloclo was always one to keep up with whatever style was in vogue.

Released as a single in 1978, on the day of his burial following his sudden death in March that year, it remains one of his best-known songs.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Gojira: L'Enfant Sauvage

This week ween the long-awaited release of L'Enfant Sauvage, the new album by world-class French rock act Gojira.

The band's career so far has earned them the respect of an international audience, I'm certain this will put them in the first division of the rock scene.

While a rock act through and through, they've remained true to the scene but continued to push its boundaries, incorporating elements from across sub gentres at the extreme end of the spectrum.

While they appeal to fans of thrash or death metal, their music is shot through with a progressive and experimental attitude.

The band are originally from Bayonne, and have been active since '96, changing their name from Godzilla in 2001. L'Enfant Sauvage is their fifth album.

This live track is from the deluxe edition of l'Enfant Sauvage, and was recorded in 2009 at the Les Eurockéennes festival. The track originally came from their 2008 album The Way of All Flesh.

Monday, 25 June 2012

French Music Podcast on French Radio London

A welcome return for the French Music Podcast UK, now a weekly feature of French Radio London.

The channel is broadcast in London on DAB and can be listend to online via their website 

The English language show is repeated on Wednesday at lunchtime as well as available to listen to as a podcast here > 

DJ Parris did a great job running the show as a podcast, presenting some of the best new sounds from France and its return under the wing of France Radio London should introduce it to a wider audience. Meanwhile, the hour-long playing time should give him the chance to play even more of the music he evidently loves.

He's an enthusiastic and engaging host, with a massive musical knowledge and experience of French music. I know in the past I've heard plenty of stuff I'd never heard before, and been well impressed by some of his discoveries.

The French Music Podcast is also worth following on Facebook for an avalanche of French music recommendations.

This week's show featured C2C, Suarez, Revolver, Chinese Man, Kavinsky, Benabar, Jupiter, JunoLips, M83, Area, Soko, Les Innocents, We are enfant terrible, and Laurent Garnier.

Plenty to enjoy there, and much to look forward to in weeks to come I reckon.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Live: Anne B - Exhibition Road Music Day

A look ahead to an event in London this weekend, with several French acts taking to the stage at the Exhibition Road Music Day.

The day-long free event in Hyde Park features Anne B and French soul singer Imay amongst others.

Imay's album The Shape of a Broken heart was released in 2011 and has gone platinum in France.

Meanwhile, London based French singer Anne B's album Outremanche is a stylish mix of chanson with a contemporary electronica feel.

The event is a a follow on to France's Fete de la Musique, and one of the many events being held in the capital over the summer to mark its status as host of the Olympics.

Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better over the weekend as even the best acts can struggle to compete against the worst of the British weather when it should be summer!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

La Fête de la Musique

June 21 is a day that sees music take central place in France's cultural life, with La Fête de la Musique celebrated with events around the country.

The idea is that events should be both pubic and free. Rather than being a festival, the events are intended to be popular and accessible,

This year's theme for the event is Pop is 50 years old, marking the 1962 release of The Beatles first single Love Me Do. The event itself marks its 30th anniversary, the Fête de la Musique initiative being founded by Jack Lang in 1982.

While those in positions of authority like to describe its democatising and intergenerational nature, it is also a huge amount of fun and a real treat for anyone interested in participating or watching music.

France's ministry of culture are paying homage to pop music this year for its enduring impact on musical culture over the past 50 years. while the Beatles didn't make significant inroads to France until a year after their first single, their fourth single She Loves You was their first French hit, their impact was massive.

Not only were their records bought by the French audience, their success led to others taking to the stage, interpreting their work in French and writing beatles-influenced works in French.

This year sees events taking place including a concert at the Palair Royal featuring Buridane, Barbara Calotti, Bertrand Burgalat, 77 Bombay Street and Archimede.

There's little point in listing every event that's taking place across the country, or reciting the names of every act that's on stage. There are just so many taking place that if you're in France you'll find it difficult to avoid a show.

There are shows in public squares, museums, chateaux, parks, stations and hospitals. There are French acts, from legends to young local bands, in every genre from classical to rock via jazz, soul, traditional and world music.

There are phone apps to help you find out what's going on in your area.

Of course, there are many international acts involved in the celebration in France, and events taking place in almost every continent marking the day.

With its inclusive agenda and open minded attitude, La Fête de la Musique is the kind of event that really puts France and French culture in the best possible light.

Cloco: Claude François biopic

The Claude François biopic Cloclo (also known as My Way) gets shown in the UK this weekend at the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.

The film tells the story of Claude François, Cloclo, the artist best known for writing the original version of the song My Way, Comme d'habitude.

It's a story of ambition that drove him to the top, a drive that sustained his place there in the face of massive changes in fashion and musical style, a career that ended with his untimely death at the age of 39.

François shot to fame in the early 60s with his French cover of the Everly Brothers track Belles Belles Belles (originally Girls, grls, girls) and followed it with other French versions of early rock 'n' roll hits.

Live he borrowed the style and look of Elvis, and performed live with a female dance troupe, and managed to keep his act ahead of the rapidly changing musical and style trends of the 1960s.

In '67 he wrote Comme d'habitude, a hit with a francophoine audience before it was adapted to English, becoming one of the best-known songs in the English language.

In the 70s he moved with the times, adopting disco stylings and recording a French cover of the Bee Gees Massachusetts, La plus belle chose du monde.

In '71 work pressure resulted in a collapse from exhaustion, and he took some time off performing, while continuing with a career that saw him running a record company, a magazine and a modelling agency.

His musical career continued after the short break, the hit songs continuing and the live audience unabated.

François died at the age of 39 in 1978, accidentally electrocuted in his Paris flat.

The film will without a doubt raise the profile of Cloclo to an audience who were in the most part unaware that one of the most famous songs in English was originally the work of a French artist, and there's little doubt that the style of his era will impress, if not surprise, a whole new generation.

Jean Floc'h et Grandpamini: Bienvenue Chez Les Bretons

I'm always partial to a bit of rap now and again and I'm a huge fan of Brittany, so I was pretty happy to come across the track Bienvenue Chez Les Bretons by Jean Floc'h et Grandpamini.

Nice to hear a bit of West Coast (of France) rap. Very funny it is too. The half a million plus viewers on YouTube seem to agree as well.

With shout outs to towns and traditions, the song celebrates Brittany with an affectionate humour.

They play in Quimper on July 6 and Brest on July 7.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Vanessa Paradis & Johnny depp

With the news that Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp have split, I though a look at her musical career was in order.

Most of the focus in news coverage on their split is in on Johnny Depp, without her career getting much of a mention. Depp and Paradis were together for 14 years, and have two children together.

Despite being a huge star in France, with a music and film career, she remains best known in the UK for a single released in 1987 when she was 14.

It reached number one in France, and number three in the UK, and remains one of the best known French language songs in recent years.

While none of her other work made such a mark outside France, her music career has continued there with some considerable success.

Following her 1988 debut album M & J that featured Joe le Taxi, her 1990 Variations sur le même t'aime album saw her collaborating with Serge Gainsbourg. The song Dis-lui toi que je t'aime probably being the best known from the collection.

Her third, self-titled album, was released in 1992. It saw her working with her then-partner Lenny Kravitz, leading to songs like Be My Baby, a top ten hit in the UK and another of her best-known works.

She didn't release a studio album again until 2000's Bliss, which included input from Matthieu Chedid (best known as -M- ) Chedid would go on to win two Victoires de la Musique awards that same year for his own work.

Johnny Depp also made a musical contribution to the album. Depp's musical ventures included playing with Oasis and in the band P, which he formed with Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers.

Bliss went on to be  a number one album in France, despite not having a hit single on a par with her previous albums.

Her next studio album came in 2007, with Divinidylle, her most recent studio work. The cover, a stylised portrait of her was pained by Johnny Depp. It again featured collaborations with Matthieu Chedid. It too was a number one in France.

Over and above her studio albums, there have been live albums, mostly coming out following a tour in support of her studio work, including Live in 1994, Au Zénith in 2001 and Divinidylle Tour in 2008. The most recent of these Une Nuit à Versailles came out in 2010 and featured acoustic interpretations of her work.

Most recently she recorded much of the soundtrack for the animation film A Monster in Paris, in which she also starred. The track La Seine - a collaboration with -M- a hit single for her in France.

Meanwhile, her acting career has seen her win a César Award for her part in Noce Blanche in '89 and a Genie Award and a Juntra Award for her part in 2011's Canadian film Café de Flore, with memorable parts along the way including The Girl on the Bridge (La Fille sur le pont) and the animation A Monster in Paris.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Carlos: Allez La France!

Another outing for the French national team tonight, this time against Sweden.

By the looks of things, les Bleues have booked their place in the next round, but hopefully a victory will put them through the group stages undefeated.

So another excuse for one of the tunes that taste forgot, 1998's Allez La France by Carlos, a curious piece of music involving 80s rock, guitar solos and cheerleaders.

Its one from the Vindaloo school of football songs.

Needless today, that was the campaign that saw France win the biggest footballing trophy in teh world.

Carlos was a well-known entertainer, who worked with Johnny Hallyday in the early 60s, and Sylvie Vartin in the mi6 60s to early 70s. He also had his own musical career that spanned the decades from the 60s until his death in 2008, as well as a cartoon series and tv and radio appearances.

Mama Rosin: Seco e Mulhado

A new-ish track by Swiss band Mama Rosin, who take cajun music places its rarely been before.

The track comes from their forthcoming new album, which was produced and mixed in New York by Jon Spencer, from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

The album's expected out before the end of the year.

I featured them before in this blog, with their track Le pistolet, when they played the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow in 2011.

The band, a trio from near Lake Geneva, play a brew of traditional music from the southern states of the USA, where it was developed by the French immigrants who moved from Canada to Louisiana.

The band have been playing live dates in Canada and are due to play in Switzerland and in the UK, along with playing the Interceltique festival in L'Orient.

Despite their music coming from an old source, and the band coming geographically from a country far from where it was developed, Mama Rosin are keeping certainly keeping a tradition branch of French music alive.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Live: Yeti Lane with Damo Suzuki

Next weeks sees Parisian neo psych duo Yeti Lane playing with former Can vocalist and genuine Krautrock legend Damo Suzuki.

The former Can singer has toured for the last few years without a regular band, instead hooking up with local musicians or bands to make each perfomance unique.

I've seen Suzuki perform a couple of times. I have to be honest to say that I found it a bit patchy at times, but given that musicians were working together for the first time and pushed to the limit of their ability in terms of improvisation skills it was a thrilling thing to see.

While it may have been the kind of thing that bands from Suzuki's era were familiar with, in these days of autotune and autocue, bands genuinely working without a safety net are quite a subversive proposition.

Yeti lane's second album, The Echo Show, the band's second. was an assured take on modern psychedelia and prog rock, resolutely modern rather than trying to re-created a genre. As much influenced by My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3 as by Pink Floyd.

Their new single Warning Sensation is released on Monday, in remixed form with versions by Warm Digits and by School of Seven Bells.

The crossover with Suzuki's Krautrock stylings could be quite something, Get along to the shows if you can.

Yeti Lane dates:
June 18 – Brighton – Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
June 20 – Manchester – KRAAK
June 21 – London – The Shacklewell Arms (with Damo Suzuki and Andrew Weatherall)
June 22 – Norwich Arts Centre

Friday, 15 June 2012

Euro 2012: Bleu, Blanc, Rouge by François le français feat. doudou

Another excuse for a French football related tune, with France playing Ukraine in the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament.

In their last game failed to put England to the sword, much to the disappointment of the nation full of France supporters in Scotland, but hopefully this game will put them in a firm position to get through to the next round.

The song was used in the 2010 South Africa World Cup, not one of the finest moments ever in the history of Les Bleues. In fact, it was a campaign that pretty much defines the term 'disaster', with a team surrounded in scandal and an early exit thanks to defeats at the hands of Mexico and South Africa, and a draw against Uraguay.

The song Bleu, Blanc, Rouge by François le français feat. doudou takes a very differnt approach to Johnny Hallyday's song I featured last week.

Needless to say, it still didn't actually do Les Bleues any good though.

The song was performed by TV comedy duo Omar and Fred, regular fixtures on French TV.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Superbus: All Alone

A new single by the band Superbus entitled All Alone.

The band are a five piece, formed in 1999 by singer songwriter Jennifer Ayache, released their first album Aéromusical in 2002.

Superbus won the Best French Act award at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2006 and in 2008 won the NRJ Music Award of the Best French Music Band

Their most recent album Lova Lova came out in 2009, with a greatest hits album Happy BusDay coming out the following year.

The new album is due to be released in September and a tour of France is set to take place in November and December, with dates in Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Rétro: Johnny Hallyday - Tous Ensemble

With Euro 2012 kicking off, and France playing England on Sunday there's no better reason to revive one of the official songs for Les Bleues that have been released over the years.

Football songs are always going to be a strange proposition, a collision between two normally very different worlds and caught between doing something serious and anthemic or self-depreciating novelty.

So if ever there was someone up to the task it is Mr Johnny Hallyday.

The song was released for the 2002 World Cup, in Japan and South Korea and went to number one in France.

Sadly, the team didn't do quite so well, failing to repeat their 1998 win. They were eliminated from the first round without scoring a goal, defeated by Senegal and Denmark.

Johnny, however, went on to put another in the net later that year with another number one in France with the song Marie.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Editorial: June 2012

A quick look back at the past month, following a few days off that coincided not only with this part of the world's first look at sunshine and the Queen's jubilee long weekend.

So with the chapeau melon back in the cupboard, time to focus again on things francophone and musical.

Last month was an extraordinary month here, with the largest ever number of visitors by quite a measure, and one of the posts made last month proving the most popular since the site was launched. We also had our busiest ever day in terms of number of visitors.

Thanks for coming if you're new round here, and if you've been coming for a while, thanks for sticking around.

As we move into the summer the festival dates start to come in thick and fast, from Justice at Loch Ness next weekend to the Fete de la Musique across France at the end of the month. There will be a huge amount of live activity, and I'll be looking for and posting some of the best video that I come across.

There is also the relentless onslaught of new releases over the next few weeks, and I'll be keeping an eye and ear across those as well.

I've not had time over the last month to do much work on the site, but I'll hopefully get to it shortly.

In the meantime, as always, I can be contacted at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the AT and DOT substituted with the appropriate punctuation.

Merci et à bientôt