Thursday, 31 January 2013

Jane Birkin in Glasgow: Live review

Coming ahead of the rest of the events in this year's Glasgow Film Festival, an appearance at the Arches by the iconic Jane Birkin performing the work of her former partner the late French music legend Serge Gainsbourg set an auspicious tone for the annual film and music bonanza.

A screening of Birkin's new documentary about Gainsbourg opened the evening, giving a personal look at her life with Serge, before Birkin took to the stage with her band.

Opening her set with the timeless groove of Requiem Pour un Con, it was to be a jazz flavoured evening, with Birkin performing songs that Gainsbourg wrote for her, performed himself and wrote for others.

Time has been kind to his work, songs that she noted were 50 years old were as clever, smart and funny as they were when they were written.

While the smoky late night feel of Les Amours Perdus was reminiscent of Gainsbourg's original, other works like Baby Alone in Babylone benefitted from a sympathetic performance that lifted it from the 80s production of Birkin's album of the same name. Other songs, whether La Chanson de Prévert or La Ballade de Johnny Jane were little short of outstanding.

While perviously Gainsbourg's muse and lover, recent years have seen Birkin become the champion of the Gainsbourg cause, taking every opportunity during the show to remind us about "The most missed man in France.'

Meanwhile, she noted that it only took 40 years for Gainsbourg's Melody Nelson to be widely recognised as the classic it certainly is.

But the evening was more celebration than memorial, Gainsbourg the kind of artist who could turn his hand to a silly pop tune like Comic Strip - complete with sound effects - as he could a poetic piece like Amour des Feintes. Both got an airing, both were in their own way perfect.

Birkin was a warm and charming host, entertaining with stories of meeting fabulous old ladies in Sloan's before the show and tales about Gainsbourg and his work, all this while the band of young Japanese musicians making a strong case for the continued vitality of Gainsbourg's music.

With a  smile that could light up the darkest former railway arch, Birkin wore her iconic status lightly, with a seemingly fragile voice that nonetheless demanded the listener's attention.

As an ambassador for Serge Gainsbourg's work, Birkin's show makes it clear that his legacy is in safe hands.

This review originally appeared on STV.TV

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mylène Farmer: Je te dis Tout video

The new Mylène Farmer video has surfaced, just a short time after it was confirmed that Je te dis Tout was to be released as the second single from her Monkey Me album that was released in December.

Her previous single À l'ombre gave her another number one hit in France, it would be no surprise if this song continued to add to her score of 13 number one singles in France since 1988's Pourvu qu'elles soient douces, nine of these since 2008.

With Mylène Farmer, videos have always been almost as important as the songs themselves, and this one continues that tradition.

It's a great song and a memorable video, and I reckon that a video for a ballad is a more difficult proposition than one for a dance track.

For videos for songs like this, the cinematography matter more than the choreography, and there's more space for imagination in how a song can be portrayed.

More tasteful work here, and I reckon it will be a while until wes see Lady Gaga or Madonna come up with anything like this.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Carla Bruni: Chez Keith et Anita.

A new single by Carla Bruni, as the former first lady makes her return to music with the song Chez Keith et Anita.

With her husband out of office she's probably got a bit more time on her hands and can

The song comes from her forthcoming fourth album entitled Little French Songs and it comes five years after he last release Comme si de rien n'était.

While her day job as first lady kept her busy, she still had time for the occasional release, with her last album coming out during her husband's time in office. Whatever people's views were about her husband didn't stop it reaching number one in the French charts. It was also a critical success, many noting that the songs were mostly her own work, with two cover versions and another song adapting the work of Michel Houellebecq.

Bruni's changed her record label, moving from Naive records to a branch of Universal Music, which suggests the album will be given a much higher international profile than her previous company could have done.

Reports suggest that she's keen to see the release as a continuation of her career as a musician rather than a comeback following her involvement in the world of politics, and the new song certainly sounds like a natural progression on her previous work.

Her new album is released on Barclay records on April the first, and there is a possibility that she'll tour later in the year.

Jane Birkin in Glasgow

Off to see Jane Birkin playing in Glasgow tonight, in what I think is her first ever gig in the city.

She's playing at The Arches as part of the Glagow Film Festival, with a screening of her new short film Souvenirs of Serge, which takes home footage of Gainsbourg and weaves it into a documentary.

She also plays a set of Gainsbourg songs, working with a group of Japanese musicians. She explains on her website: "Why do another tour, another concert?

"Well, when it was going to be conventional, I too wondered why I was singing Serge again, even if it was celebrating the 20 years after Serge's death, even if it was a very personal 40 years since "Melody Nelson" but what did I have to offer... I'd done it all before, Serge in pop, arabesque, classic quator, 14 musicians, 6 musicians, a harp, a squeeze box, violins... this year others have started, their "Serge" was a new point of view, their interpretations... so I started contemplating, putting it all off..."

"Then there was the Japanese disaster ... of unbelievable horror, earthquake, tsunami, and then the ghasly news of the nuclear horror, the like of which we had never witnessed... the images... the gigantic waves pounding down, the cars trying to escape, the people running, the dignified faces of poor parents looking for their children, the numbers of dead and missing mounting, the terrifying views, over and over, the great wave, the fuming nuclear centers..."

"What to do? I have known these people for forty years... "go there" I thought... tell them that back home folk are thinking of them, but get there, "and do what ?" What can I do? ...the only thing I can do... a concert..."

"So this is the immediate result of that concert, Sachiko had fixed up the best Japanese group of musicians in four days! "I'm coming to Tokyo" we were Friday, by Monday I was there...

"When Gluzman asked if I wanted to do the concerts for Serge in America... I said "yes, BUT with these Japanese musicians.

"I had found my reason...

"Here we come... Serge Gainsbourg and Jane via Japan"

She's never been too precious about his music, and rather than keeping it as some kind of museum piece, she's been at the forefront of re-inventing his work, whether in an Arabic context with her Arabesque project or with other bands.

Birkin has certainly done an incredible job in raising awareness of Serge and his music, and has done so to an audience normally beyond the usual reach of French music. Her appearance in the UK has been accompanied by a number of articles in the press where again she takes the opportunity to talk about Serge and his work. 

I think opinions are changing, and Gainsbourg is getting the recognition that he deserves, rather than as just a purveyor of a novelty record, and much of the credit for this has to go to Jane Birkin.

So while it might be her first time in Glasgow (she played in Edinburgh about ten years ago during her Arabesque tour if I remember right) it's not her first connection with the city, performing as she did with Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand for a very modern take on the song Sorry Angel. 

The song originally appeared on the Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited collection that was released in 2006 which also included interpretations by Cat Power, Jarvis Cocker, Portishead and Michael Stipe. It's hard to think that a collection like this would ever have been released had it not been for the work done by Jane over the years.

Monday, 28 January 2013

NRJ Music Awards 2013 winners

Some of France's biggest names were out at the weekend with teh annual NRJ music awards being held in Cannes,a  major showcase for the country's talent as well as an opportunity for some of the biggest international acts to grace the stage in France in front of a massive audience.

Press in the UK were more focussed on One Direction and taylor Swift being in the same building at the same time

Francophone breakthrough of the year: Tal

Female Francophone artist of the year: Shy'm

Male Francophone artist of the year: M Pokora

Francophone group/duo of the year: Sexion d'Assaut

French song of the year: Sexion d'Assaut - Avant Qu'elle Part

Elsewhere, acts like Carly Rae Jepson, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, One Direction and Psy took the international categories, Psy getting two awards, for best international song and best international video.

There were live performance by a huge number of acts, including Nolwenn Leroy, Shy'm, Jennifer, Tal, Mylène Farmer Sexion d'Assaut, M Pokora and Johnny Hallyday.

Sad to see that the official videos on the TF1 website are geoblocked and unable to watch outside France. I suspect any unofficial videos that have appeared on video sites will be pulled before too long, so I'll not actually link to them.

Previous years have seen the performances available to watch internationally online from the official site, so I'll check again to see if the videos become available later.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Mylène Farmer: Je te dis tous

A new single release Mylène Farmer always merits a mention, with 2013 shaping up to be a major year for France's number one female star.

The track Je te dis tous comes from her album monkey Me, released in the closing months of last year, which came out following the single À l'ombre.

To these ears anyway, Je te dis tous is a better track than À l'ombre, and it has an epic feel that really suits her.

A video for the song has been shot and will hopefully appear soon.

Her Timeless tour gets under way in September, with 200,000 tickets selling in a matter of hours it's probably the most anticipated tour in France for years.

Meanwhile, Mylène appears at the NRJ Music Awards this weekend, and will be performing Je te dis tous. She's performed at the ceremony the last two years, with the songs Oui...main non and Du temps, both upbeat numbers quite different from a ballad like Je te dis tous.

No award nominations for Mylène this year though, on account of the album being released too late for inclusion in this year's shortlists.

It still looks like 2013 will be a memorable year for both Mylène and her fans.

M Farmer je te dis tout by sancun

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Rétro: Les Rita Mitsouko - Les Amants

A truly classic song that I'd actually forgotten about until I re-watched Les Amants du Pont-Neuf the other week.

The films is an absolute gem, and while I saw it years ago, it was so long ago that I'd forgotten how good it was.

It was made by Leos Carax, a director who's always had a good feel for music in his films, and this track featured at the close of the movie.

I love the way Les Rita Misouko made a sound that was both rooted in French traditional music but at the same time totally modern. I reckon a listener from 1900's France would have immediately understood their music.

the track came from their 1993 Système D album, their fourth. The band were a duo of vocalist Catherine Ringer and guitarist Fred Chichin. The band began in the early 80s, releasing their first self-titled album in 1985 which produced their first hit, Marcia Baila.

They combined elements of jazz, cabaret and chanson in their work, but with a punk rock flair. They went on to release seven albums until 2007's Variéty, which also saw an English version released.

The unexpected death of Fred Chichin from cancer in 2007 meant an end to the band, although Catherine Ringer continues to perform as a solo artist.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Anaïs: Quizas (Martini Dry)

A new track by Anaïs has emerged, with the track Quizas (Martini Dry) coming out as a download following her album last year.

 The track is cover of an old Cuban song, made famous by the likes of Pérez Prado and Julio Iglesias.

 It follows her album A l'eau de javel, her second studio album, which was released in March last year. The album featured her interpretations of songs from the 40s to the 60s, covering them with humour and style. Several tracks, including Je n'embrasse pas les garçons et Danseuse privée (a cabaret take on Tina Turner's Private Dancer) were released as singles over the course of the year.

 The new track is an out-take from the recordings, according to legend it was stolen by the Russians, then re-discovered in Cairo before being stolen by the Russians again, and finally being reclaimed by the American agent Dan the Automator who remixed it with a cocktail shaker.

While I have my doubts about the truth of this, it remains well worth a listen.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Phoenix: Bankrupt!

, one of the few French bands to have broken through to an international audience, have confirmed that a new album is in the pipeline and that live dates are imminent. They've confirmed that their next album, due to be released in a few months, will be entitled Bankrupt. A brief (and possibly epilepsy triggering) teaser has been posted on youtube, with a brief clip of music alongside some eye bothering visuals. Their last album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, was released in 2009 and established them as not only one of France's most important bands, but one of the most significant modern rock acts around anywhere. It's also been announced that they will be playing at the 2013 Rock en Seine festival in August. The event also features System of a Down and Paul Kalkbrenner, the only two other acts who have been announced so far. Passes for the Rock en Seine festival go on sale on January 22. More details on Phoenix and on the Rock en Seine festival will no doubt emerge in the coming weeks and months.

BB Brunes and Oxmo Puccino sing Dutronc

A great clip from Taratata, the legendary French music programme that marks its 20th anniversary this year, that was shown earlier this month.

Not a lot to it, just two great contemporary French artists playing a  song by one of the scene's elder statesmen.

Jacques Dutronc, it seems, doesn't ever go out of fashion. But they say that quality never does go out of style.

The show also featured Olivia Ruiz,  Orelsan and Grafitti6, and another edition of the show goes on the air at the end of the week.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Coeur de Pirate: Place de la République

A new video by Quebecois singer Coeur de Pirate, for the song Place de la République.

The video for the song by the artist known to her family as Béatrice Martin was filmed in Paris in November 2012 and was directed by Martin herself.

The track is her third to come from her second album Blonde, which was released at the end of 2011. She's not been idle over 2012 though, having given birth to a baby girl in September.

She has a number of live dates ahead in March, April and May in France, North America and elsewhere. She also plays a number of North American shows solo, without her backing band.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Jean Michel Jarre: InFiné by JMJ

A new release by Jean Michel Jarre is always something to get excited about - well I get excited anyway - so it was good to hear about the release of the InFiné by JMJ album, which came out on Monday.

First up, this isn't actually a new Jarre album. Instead, Jarre has chosen 12 tracks from the InFiné records back catalogue.

The label specialises in a blend of classica, ambient, techno and minimal, or as it describes it "easy music for the hard to please." It was established in 2006 by electronic music musician/producer Agoria, founder of the annual Lyon Nuits Sonores festival, and Alexandre Cazac, formerly of  Delabel and PIAS records, along with Yannick Matray, formerly of the musicians and artist's intellectual rights society ADAMI.

Early signings for the label signed artists such as pianist/composer Francesco Tristano and electro artist Danton Eeprom. Since it was set up, the label has encouraged young artists, particularly those from a classical background, to push the frontiers of electronic music.

Needless to say, it's a comparatively small operation on a global scale, with a small albeit loyal audience. Releases by the bigger selling artists subsidise the less commercial releases.

Regarding the Jarre project, the label said: "For the past six years, as a label, we have fought hard to cultivate our unique sounds and spread them beyond the French borders.

"As a new year begins, we thought it would be a good idea to ask a leading figure of the Arts, who shares our ethics, to browse through our wide-ranging catalogue and put together their own collection of InFiné tracks. We loved the idea of having a fresh take on the music we produce, enabling us to step out of our microcosm.

"Jean Michel Jarre accepted this rather odd proposal, showing he cares deeply about our cause and the struggles that come with it. Without the convictions and beliefs he has always had and fought for, our lives would probably be very different to how they are today!"

Jarre wrote: "InFiné is in that league of labels displaying the kind of audacity only to be found in true artists. Like the musicians it represents, it has kept on demonstrating how important it is to have a common vision, a common ambition in order to initiate and finalise groundbreaking projects.

"When I first listened to InFiné’s productions, I sensed a connection and a common approach to art. This desire to venture freely into new territories is what has been driving me since the start of my career and I can see how much Oxygène InFiné provides for its artists."

For those eagerly awaiting new Jarre material, the release will be more of a tease than anything else. But as an exercise in introducing new music to a new audience that will probably be sympathetic to it, the project can only be a huge success.

I can't count the number of label samplers I've come across over the year, many of which go unlistened and unloved and many of which probably deserve better. A CD stuck to the cover of a magazine might get listened to once if it's lucky. But a CD of tracks chosen by an artist whose work you admire is more likely to get the benefit of the doubt.

There are some who criticise Jarre as being a populist, but over the decades there have been few other artists who have expanded the musical horizons of so many people. Whether whether through his legendary city-sized gigs or his giving away copies of his most famous work with copies of a newspaper, he's made what could be a fairly specialist music.

Hopefully the release will get the attention of several thousand new pairs of ears to a label that's releasing some genuinely innovative work.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Lescop: UK release for debut album

I've written before about Lescop, one of my favourite new acts that I discovered last year.

His self-titled debut album came out in October, and I've featured videos for both the tracks La Forêt and Marlène.

So I'm particularly pleased to see the album getting a release in the UK, and another show in the UK later this week.

I didn't get round to listing an album of the year at the end of 2012. I was uncertain who was deserving of the honour, but I reckon that Lescop was the album of 2012 for the Vive le Roq blog.

Hopefully the Victoires de la Musique awards will note this distinction when the decide who deserves the Best Original Song award, with lescop shortlisted for La Forêt alongside Camille, Sexion d’assaut and Marc Lavoine.

Hopefully 2013 will be the year that Lescop gets the attention he deserves and becomes the star that he deserves to be.

Lescop plays in London this week, with a show at Birthdays in Stoke Newington on Thursday night. Fingers crossed we'll see more of him over the next 12 months.

LESCOP en Mouv' Session - LA NUIT AMERICAINE by LeMouv

Skip the Use: Cup of Coffee

A recent video for the song Cup of Coffee by the band Skip the Use.

The song originally came out on their second album "Can be late" which came out in February last year.

For a French band, the song sounds very much like the kind of edgy punk pop that British bands do well and the band have been one of the breakthrough acts in France last year.

Their album has been nominated in the Best Rock Album category of the 2013 Victoures de la Musique awards

Extensive tour dates are planned in February, March and April, May and June across France including a show at the Zénith in Paris on April the fourth.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Lou Doillon: Devil or Angel

An atmospheric video by Lou Doillon for her song Devil or Angel, which sees her wandering around the wilds of Scotland and some of this country's more sophisticated urban environments.

Locations include Glencoe, the Merchant City in Glasgow and the River Clyde, as well as the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow.

The video was shot by towards the end of last year, and even the weather looked great for the outdoor scenes.

Production company Greenwood Films said on their website "It was a real dream shoot to work on, and it’s rare you see so many different people, from Scotland/from France (Speaking broken bits of each others language), Directors to Make up Artists, gel together so well, so quickly, and have such an amazing time whilst producing some amazing work."

It's great to see Scottish locations featuring so prominently in a French music video, and Doillon makes a great and unexpected ambassador for the country.

Doillon, the daughter of Jacques Doillon and Jane Birkin, released her debut album Places in France in September. The album reached number three in the French charts.  It followed the release of her single ICU earlier last year.

She had previously pursued a career in modelling and acting, having worked with directors including Agnes Varda, Guillaume Canet, Bernie Bonovoisin (the former Trust singer), Abel Ferrara and and also with her father Jacques Doillon and her mother Jane Birkin.

Doillon has performed a few live dates in 2012, but undertakes her first full tour shortly. She plays live dates across France in February, March and April, and has been nominated for best female artist and best rock album in the Victoires de la Musique awards in February.

Fingers crossed we'll get to see her perform here in Scotland some time in the future.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Festi-Zad at Notre-Dame-des-Landes

Last weekend saw a music fesival at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (44), but it was an event that was quite different to the  usual corporate sponsored big budget music events

Festi-Zad took place at one of France's flashpoint protest sites, Notre-Dame-des-Landes in the Loire Atlantique department in western France. The site of the event was on land currently being occupied by demonstrators protesting against the building of the new Aéroport du Grand Ouest, intended to replace Nantes Atlantique Airport in 2015.

This Zone À Défendre (ZAD) is being occupied by protest camps and squatters, with opposition to the 580m euro project coming from environmentalists such as the Greens along with anticapitalists and some in the Socialist Party, even though the party officially backs the development.

Meanwhile locals are also opposing the new airport, with a vigorous campaign fighting it. It's become a major confrontation point between the French protest movement in all its shades and the authorities.

It was against this background that the event took place, over January 4, 5 and 6. It saw a huge number of bands, with entrance fee a donation of either food or cash to help finance the fight. Organisers say there were around 30,000 people there, with rap, punk and ska acts perform along with DJs and sound systems.

The protesters said in a statement beforehand: "During three days, we propose to everyone to express our rage - in a partying mood - against all those who decide things about our future so far from us.

"Against all those who, for their own interest, are ready to destroy thousands of square kilometers of our most precious patrimony. The world of this airport is a world of wars, poverty and misery, alienation of populations and destruction of the environment. A world of boredom, a world of death!

"If there is precisely something against which Free Partying can fight, this thing is boredom. In its mental, police, civilized, forced or consumed shape, it doesn't matter. Free Partying and Radical Struggle are melting together in a creative gush that spread the weeds of subversion. Free Partying is life. And life isn't this airport!"

There may have been no big names on the bill, and I'm sure the facilities on offer weren't up to those at the bigger festivals that fill the calendar over the summer months, but events like this show that music remains a vital force in movements calling for social change, as it did in the 60s and 70s and beyond.

"If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution", to use the oft-quoted line attributed to anarchist Emma Goldman.

The weekend event passed without violent incident, but the confrontation continues at the ZAD. It's difficult to see how the matter will be resolved peacefully. It cannot end with both sides getting what they want. There has already been violence between police and protesters in November, and most probably there will be again.

While the protest may not eventually succeed in halting the airport, those involved in the protest movement must be heartened that events like Festizad show that, even if only for a few days, another world can be possible.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Les Victoires de la Musique 2013 shortlist

Awards season is fast approaching, with short lists being presented for the star studded ceremonies that take place in the next couple of months.

certainly the most exciting from a French music point of view is the annual Les Victoires de la Musique, being held this year for the 28th time.

The short list has some interesting entries, with some that we might expect to be present, and a good mix of the established artists and newcomers.

The ceremony is being held at the Zénith in Paris on February the eighth, and is being broadcast on France 2, France Inter and France Bleu.

Male artist

Benjamin Biolay
Dominique A

Female artist

Céline Dion
Lou Doillon
Françoise Hardy
La Grande Sophie

Breakthrough group/artist of the year (public vote)

- C2C
- Barbara Carlotti
- Rover
- Tal

Breakthrough group/artist of the year

- Boulevard des airs
- C2C
- Barbara Carlotti
- Irma

Chanson album

Vengeance (Benjamin Biolay)
L’amour fou (Françoise Hardy)
La place du fantôme (La Grande Sophie)
Il (-M-)

Rock album

Long courrier (BB Brunes)
Places (Lou Doillon)
Super welter (Raphaël)
Can be late (Skip The Use)

Urban music album

Extra-lucide (Disiz)
Roi sans carrosse (Oxmo Puccino)
L’apogée (Sexion d’Assaut)
Le droit de rêver (Tal)

World music album

Folila (Amadou & Mariam)
Al (Bumcello)
Talé (Salif Keita)
C’est la vie(Khaled)

Electronic/Dance music album

By your side (Breakbot)
Tetra (C2C)
Franky Knight (Emilie Simon)
Dusty rainbow from the dark (Wax Tailor)

Original song

Allez allez allez (Camille – writer/composer : Camille Dalmais)
Avant qu’elle parte (Sexion d’assaut – writer/composers : Maître Gims, - Lefa, Mask, Jr Ochrom, Doomans, Adams Diallo, Black Mesrines, Stan-e, Wati-b)
Je descends du singe (Marc Lavoine – Writer: Marc Lavoine/composer: Christophe Casanave)
La forêt (Lescop – writers/composers : Mathieu Peudupin, Gaël Etienne, Johnny Hostile)

Musical show/tour/concert

Ilo veyou (Camille at the Olympia and on tour – Production: UNI-T)
Silence on tourne, on tourne en rond (Thomas Dutronc at the Olympia and on tour – Production: Auguri Productions)
La place du fantôme (La Grande Sophie at the Café de la Danse, at the Trianon, the Olympia and on tour – Production: 3C)
The geeks tour (Shaka Ponk at the Olympia, the Zénith and the Bataclan – Production: Zouave)


FUYA (C2C – dir: Sylvain Richard (20Syl) – Francis Cutter)
Mojo (-M- – dir: Beryl Koltz)
My lomo & me (Olivia Ruiz – dir: Nicolas Houres)
Let’s bang (Shaka Ponk – dir: Frah)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Kid North: Atlas

There's no better way to start the new year on a music blog with a strong new release by a new band, and Kid North certainly manage to do that.

Their first album Atlas was released at the beginning of this week on the Tsunami-Addiction label.

The group, a five piece from Paris, describe themselves as an indie rock band

The track England was released in September as a taster for the album. I'll forgive them their rather geographically dubious map of "England" that graces the cover...

The album is a beautifully crafted piece of work, with a sense of urgency and melancholy that the best left-field pop can summon. It has some of the epic sound featured in some of the best alternative acts of the 80s, whether the likes of Teardrop Explodes or Echo and the Bunnymen or even early U2, but with a hard edge that puts them right in the front line of modern music.

Four other tracks, relief 101, Hide and Seek, Battle Scars and Oxford Bridges were released as a digital EP in 2011, which is available as a free download from their bandcamp site 

Kid North featured on a live acoustic session on Oui FM on Monday, and play at Les Combustibles in Paris at the end of January

Monday, 7 January 2013

Editorial: Bonne année!

The baubles and tinsel have been put away, and it's time to get on with January.

Whether your Christmas involved turkey and xmas pud or oysters and champagne, hope you all had a great time.

It's been a busy time for me, although one that meant less time in the past few weeks to devote to the blog than I normally woulod. Hopefully a few festive tunes that I dropped on the site helped with your holidays in their own way.

It was a great month for traffic to the site, our third busiest month yet, which is hugely encouraging. There were some great releases towards the end of last year, giving a strong finish to what really was a vintage year in French music. In terms of visitors to the site, last year saw things developing dramatically with the overwhelming number of visitors coming in the past 12 months, not bad for a site that's been around since 2010.

Albums by Johnny Hallyday and Mylène Farmer were huge commercial releases, and showed that the established artists can still put out material that matters.

Meanwhile, the year also saw amazing releases by the likes of BB Brunes, Saez, M and Sébastien Tellier, not forgetting acts as varied as Lescop and Gojira putting out material that showed French acts could be world class. Meanwhile, David Guetta continued to rule the dance world, and Madonna bacame the world's highest grossing touring act of the year, on the back of al album that featured Martin Solveig.

2013 already sees new releases by the likes of Indochine on the immediate horizon, and a massive and long awaited tour by Mylène Farmer in the autumn likely to attract a massive amount of international attention to the French music scene in general.

Meanwhile, the Oscar and Golden Globe awards are take place shortly, with France having done particularly well last year. This month also sees the NRJ Music awards in Cannes.

Last year in my January editorial I commented: "This is an exciting time for music, and France is more than ever playing a part on the world stage." True indeed, and I reckon that the sentiment carries well for 2013.

This year's plans? Not to set out unrealistic plans, just to enjoy the music and listen to as much of it as I can, and pass it on. Sound like a good idea?

As always, I can be contacted by email at the address johnkilbride AT hotmail DOT com, with the spaces and the appropriate @ and . in the address, or on twitter where you can find us @viveleroq

Merci et à bientôt