Thursday, 29 November 2012

Sexion d'Assaut: J'reste debout

A new video from Sexion d'Assaut, the giants of French hip hop, another track from their album L'Apogée.

L'Apogée was released earlier this year, and has gone on to be probably the biggest French rap album ever. It has already sold triple platinum and with the continued release of songs as singles it certainly seems to have plenty of commercial life left in it.

A new edition of the CD sees it released with a bonus disc of six out-takes.

The video for the single was shot at Bercy in Paris and previews a Live à Bercy CD and DVD that was released earlier this month.

They have some live dates before the end of the year, and tour extensively in France, Switzerland in March, April and May next year.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lescop: Marlène

A new video from Lescop, for the song Marlène. It's another track from the artist whose eponymous debut release that came out last month.

Lescop's work is often compared to Joy Division, and on the surface you can see a link, with its post-punk propelled poetry.

I wrote about Lescop last month with the release of the album, and if anything I think its grown on me hugely.

Repeated listening to the collection reveals its full cinematic qualities, caverous and haunted but with a driving urgent quality.

Lescop's previous musical outing with Asyl saw him explore the more art-informed end of the punk spectrum, simultaneously earthy and literate, in the interzone where Iggy Pop meets Dostoyevsky.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Françoise Hardy: L'amour fou

A live performance of the track Pourquoi vous, from the new album L'amour fou by Françoise Hardy.

Hardy has been one of France's best known female performers since her career began in the early 1960s. Her song Tous les garçons et les filles was one of the biggest hits of the yé-yé era.

Her style saw her achieve an iconic status that hasn't diminished over the years

Hardy's career saw her move to a more thoughtful music, performing in a number of languages including English, interpreting songs by the likes of Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen, and performing with the likes of Blur and Iggy Pop.

She also pursued her interest in astrology and published her autobiography in 2008.

Her music's always had a timeless quality, to the point that I thought for some time her early 70s album "If you listen" was one of her recent releases after she re-emerged with her 1996 album Le Danger.

Since then she's recorded several albums, including Clair Obscur that featured duets with other snigers including her husband Jacques Dutronc, a  Victoires de la musique award on the back of the success of 2004's Tand de belles choses collection, a Grande Médaille de la chanson française award in 2006 followed by another collection of duets, the platinum selling (Parenthèses…) album, featuring amongst others Alain Delon, Alain Bashung and Julio Iglesias.

Her last release was 2010's La pluie sans parapluie album.

The album L'amour fou was released earlier this month, coinciding with a novel of the same title.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Nolwenn Leroy: Juste pour me Souvenir

A look ahead to a new release by Nolwenn Leroy later this month, the track Juste pour me Souvenir from the forthcoming album Ô Filles de l'Eau.

Her last album Bretonne, released in 2010, saw the former Star Academy winner establish herself as a major star in France. The album took traditional Breton and celtic songs along with modern works of a similar style, going to number one in France's album chart for eight weeks and one of the biggest selling albums of 2011.

Nolwenn won the second series of Star academy, releasing her debut album in 2003. That album was a platinum seller, and she also scored a number one single with Cassé, the success of Star Academy no doubt helping establish her career. But the longevity of her career is more down to her own talent rather than the work of TF1.

It's hard to imaging a singer from a reality show in the UK having the same success with an album of songs in gaelic.

The song suggests Nolwenn will be continuing the modern folk pop sound of Bretonne, the songs on a theme of the sea.

The album Ô Filles de l'Eau is release on November 26, and Nolwenn also gives her voice to the character of the Tooth Fairy (La Fée des dents) in the French version of the new Dreamworks animated film Rise of the Guardians, a role played by Isla Fisher in the English version of the film.

Nolwenn Leroy plays some dates in France in December, including three nights at the Olympia in Paris.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Johnny Hallyday: L'Attente

I'm sure for many a new album by Johnny Hallyday would be met with little more than a shrug of the shoulders.  More of the same, no surprises here, nothing worth writing about.

But Johnny merits more than this, and not just out of nostalgia or giving him the benefit of his status. For a British listener, if anything Johnny's history and celebrity is more of an obstacle as it's a history we're not part of and a celebrity we're not generally aware of.

We're left with a singer, with one of the most exceptional voices in rock, and whatever musical resources he could want at his disposal, from songwriters to musicians.

Meanwhile, the voice remains in excellent form, despite scares in recent years that medical damage could have taken its toll.

While his work doesn't have the stark bleakness of late-period Johnny Cash, Hallyday was never all about that. The album's an affirmation that for his age, Johnny's in apparently good shape and in a good place.

johnny could have chosen to take it easy and just rehashed some of his past glories, but I don't think that as an artist this course of action would have satisfied him. Even now he's trying new songs, new work and tour dates that see him playing new places.

Of course, there are those who point to the disappointing sales of Jamais Seul as evidence of a talent on the wane. However, this should be seen in the light of all album sales being disappointing now, with speculation that the very concept of an album released on CD might be coming to the end of its tenure as a viable medium. remember that Rihanna, one of the biggest artists internationally at the moment, topped the UK album charts in August with under 10,000 physical and online sales, a UK all time low for a number one.

But the real test is not in sales of the album, or even what the critics think. At the end of the day, it it how the album compares to his other work. While not groundbreaking, L'attente is a collection that holds its head up well amidst one of the most extensive back catalogues in modern music.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

M: Îl

A new release from M, with his sixth full studio album, entitled Îl coming out in France.

The single Mojo was released in September, followed by a video a few weeks later.

The album was recorded in Los Angeles earlier this year.

His last full release was 2009 Mister Mystère, he's been far from idle since with the sountrack for Un monstre à Paris last year and a live album the previous year, not forgetting his collaborative work with Johnny Hallyday on his Jamais Seul collection.

In his career so far, Matthieu Chedid has picked up eight Victoires de la musique awards, along with a César Award for soundtrack work, and it would be no surprise if there are more awards ahead for one of France's most highly regarded and talented contemporary artists.

His live dates in France next year are certainly going to be one of the most anticipated shows of the year.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

November 11: Armistice Day

A post to mark November 11, Armistice Day.

This year, Johnny Hallyday's cover of the French resistance classic le Chant des Partisans.

The song was written by Anna Marly during the war, and was adopted by the French Free Forces and the Resistance fighters in France.

I posted last year about how the tragedy of war is marked in France as everywhere else in Europe, with the sacrifices made by soldiers, civilians and resistance fighters remembered with pride and sadness.

With the hectares of mass graves and the 'Mort Pour La France' plaques adorning  walls throughout the country, the toll of war is impossible to forget in France.

We should always remember and continue to hope for the possibility of peace.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Rétro: Anthrax - Antisocial

Trust's best known song was convered by US thrash act Anthrax on their 1988 album State of Euphoria, an album that came out when the band were probably at their commercial peak.

I'm sure many of their fans were unaware of the song's French origins, originally appearing on Trust's 1980 Répression album.

I have to say that for my money the Trust version is far superior, with a poetic lyric that is spat out with suitable venom.

The Anthrax cover reminds me of an American remake of a French film, the grit and emotional punch replaced by glossier production values and bigger effects. And, despite whatever reservations I might have, a far bigger audience.

However, the song did get exposure to a whole new international audience, it was probably down to the Anthrax cover that the song appeared as a track on the Guitar Hero video game.

Anthrax continue to tour, currently featuring a line up that's closer to what was regarded as their classic line up than they've had for many years. I saw them a few years ago, and Antisocial remained the high point of their set.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Mr President: The best is yet to come

While this wasn't Barack Obama's official campaign song, it really should have been.

I know I featured this song on the blog before, when it was released last year, but given the US election result there's certainly call for it to get an airing again.

I'm sure some broadcaster will use it for the soundtrack of a montage of scenes of the election night drama.

Mr President is a project by Bruno 'Patchworks' Hovart, exploring vintage funk and soul with an authenticity that belies his French origins.

Favourite Fecordings have release an EP collection of Patchwork's 12' extended remixes, and a compilation of material from the label Favourite All-Stars Vol 4 is released in December featuring the track Left and Right by Mr President.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Scott Walker sings Jacques Brel

With the release of his new album Bish Bosch, Scott Walker continues his exploration of the furthest frontiers of song.

While as an artist he has progressed immesurably since his work with the Walker Brothers in the 1960s made him a star, his solo albums, starting with 1967's Scott featuring his interpretations of Jacques Brel songs made clear his intentions as a serious artist.

The work of Jacques Brel would undepin Walker's early solo career, and also influence his own work at the time.

Scott featured Mathilde, My Death and Amsterdam, along with other covers and original material. Brel songs would feature on his subsequent two solo releases, Scott 2 featuring Jackie, Next and The Girls and the Dogs and Scott 3 included Sons of, Funeral Tango and If You Go Away.

By Scott 3, the Brel songs were the only covers on the album, with all the other material written by Walker himself. His subsequent Scott 4 collection would be all original material.

Walker's career would subsequently take strange directions, with albums of easy listening covers (his 'Sings songs from his TV series' came out between Scott 3 and 4) and a re-convening of the Walker Brothers in the 70s, before his muse would take him in his current direction.

Interesting that a singer who was part of the Easy Listening scene of the 70s should be an artist producing such genuinely harrowing work in the 21st century.

Walker's recordings of Brel became for many the definitive versions of these songs in the English language, and have informed other artists who have subsequently performed his work in English, from David Bowie to Marc Almond.

Walker's Brel covers from his first three albums were collected in a compilation in 1981, Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel. The album also included the track Little Things (That Keep Us Together), one of walker's own works. This track was omitted from the subsequent CD reissue of the collection.

Interestingly, he performed a few other Brel songs, including Alone, during his TV show. Recordings of these have not been made available.

Jackie was a number 22 hit in the UK in 1968, despite being banned by the BBC for its lyrical content.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Zebda: Une vie de moins

A song by Zebda, and its associated video, has caused a row for political reasons.

The song Une vie de moins pays tribute to the residents of Gaza, the Palestinian enclave currently under a blockade from Israel.

Lyrics for the song were written by French scholar Jean-Pierre Filiu, a lecturer at the Sciences Po Paris and an expert on middle eastern affairs. he's written several books about the subject is Islam and Palestine, his most recent being Histoire de Gaza. He also wrote a book about Jimi Hendrix in 2008.

Zebda have always been a politically engaged act, and for my money this is the best thing they've done, simple and hugely affecting.

The song was released last month, and has already caused a reaction.

However, the song has been met with criticism from the organisation Conseil représentation des institutions juives de France, who say that it risks promoting hatred of Israel and that the song and the video are anti-Israeli propaganda.

The situation in Gaza remains one of the most politically charged in the world. Whether pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, the only real position worth taking is one that values human life and promotes peace. Hopefully this song and video goes some way towards that.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Editorial: November 2012

As winter begins tuning up, another month begins.

OK, so I've not been the best at keeping up with posts over the past month, but we're entering November with some great releases either just out or coming out shortly.

highlight of last month? Lescop. Simple as that.

We'll put last month's shortage of posts down to adjusting to the new season, or something. My ideal target of over 24 posts in one month still seems to remain a challenge, but hopefully this month...

Why 24 posts? Well, in the first year of the blog I only managed a grand total of 24 posts, so even getting into double figures this month is pretty good in comparison. Looking back it's quite astonishing how far it's come.

Anyway, thanks again to those who have been in touch, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, and you can follow vive le roq on twitter at @viveleroq

Until next time,

Merci et à bientôt