Saturday, 27 December 2014

Playlist: Bureau Export Christmas 2014

A playlist from the good people at the Bureau Export UK to ease us into the post-Christmas weekend.

The Bureau Export have been a source of encouragement and inspiration to this blog for many years, so thanks to them for all the help and for introducing me to some very fine music indeed.

Their Xmas 2014 playlist gives a pretty good round-up of some of the interesting things that have been going on in French music over the last 12 months, and it's an ideal playlist for a relaxed but switched on listen.


Friday, 26 December 2014

La Chorale des Montagnes: Mon Beau Sapin

Another Chistmas song? French Style? Why not!

France has not been immune to the rise of the popularity of the choir in recent years, this take on the traditional Christmas song being released last year.

André Manoukian, behind this release, is one of the four judges on France's version of Pop Idol Nouvelle Star and is the only judge who has been in the series since it began in 2003 until present.

His musical career has seen him work with artists from Charles Aznavour to Janet Jackson, having originally established himself with the production and songwriting work he did with Liane Foly in the 90s.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Joyeux Noel: Garou - Xmas Blues Medley 2014

A Christmas Day post, which I'm sure you'll be reading in the midst of the festive events.

Needless to say, this post was put online in advance and timed to appear today. I'm sure you won't mind.

This year's high-profile star to release a Christmas collection is Garou, with his It's Magic collection.

It's the Canadian's ninth album, released earlier this month, and it offers a blues flavoured take on the festive favourites, in French and in English.

From Vive le Roq, hope you're having a great Christmas.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Charles Trenet: Chanson pour Noël

Another archive French Christmas hit, this time by Charles Trenet, one of France's most famous singers of the 20th century.

The song was originally released in 1956.

Trenet is probably best known for his hit La Mer, which became known to an English speaking audience under the title Beyond The Sea.

His career, however, began before the Second World War, eventually retiring from singing in 1975.

He however returned in 1981, making occasional re-appearances and recordings, and album emerging in 1999 entitled Les poètes descendent dans la rue.

He eventually died in 2001, a true legend of old school French chanson.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mireille Mathieu: Noël d'Aubervillier

A Christmas song from Mireille Mathieu, legend of French song whose career since the early 60s has seen her sell over 120 million records around the world.

Last month she celebrated the 50th year of her career, releasing a 3CD best of collection.

The song comes from her 1968 collection of Christmas songs Le merveilleux monde de Mireille Mathieu chante Noël, which featured this and 11 others.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014: Video highlights

Tthe good folk at the Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014 did a pretty good job capturing in video what was going on over the course of several crazy days in the city.

Nice that the festival was filmed so extensively, and hats off to the team for turning around so much video so quickly.

I've still got quite a few acts that I missed to watch on video, and it's great to have that opportunity.

It gives a flavour of the extent of the events going on, from gigs to sessions, discussions to meetings.

It was a memorable weekend, and one with much to enjoy.





Gaspard Royant: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Gaspard Royant was one of the many acts playing at the Bars en Trans event in Rennes this year.

Although I didn't get along to his show, it was a good excuse to re-listen to his 10 hit wonder album that was issued earlier in 2014, and  it's packed with sharp tunes.

Best of all,  he's just released a Christmas song  so given our current festive mood, what could be more perfect?

We're taking a few days off from the blog here over the next few days.

But I've programmed a few updates in advance so that blog won't be bare and there's still things happening here.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Playlist: Disques Enterprise #CoolRaoul

The return of our regular/occasional interesting playlist feature, where I endevour to embed a playlist from an interesting source into the blog.

I had intended to do this every week, but asd I predicted, I've not been as regular as I could/should be.

So in an effort to make amends, here's one that was put together by the good people at Enterprise Records, the label that's home to the likes of Moodoid, Superets and Grand Blanc.

A tasteful and eclectic selection that certainly merits some of your listening time.

Review: Magma - Riah Sahiltaahk

A release by Magma is normally the sort of thing that could only be approached with caution by the

Magma are not what you might regard as approachable, with complicated concept works sprawling over multiple releases, often decades apart. Albums regarded as canonical Magma work being issued apparently as solo works, a Magma releasing an album under a pseudonym.  Key material scattered over live and studio albums released years apart. That's before we even look at the fact that the songs are themselves generally jazz-informed progressive rock pieces performed in the a language apparently used by aliens.

In short,  it's complicated...

Much of Magma's work in recent years has seemed to be a matter of sorting out the band's legacy, and this album continues that  process.

The album is a short one,  consisting of  a re-recording of the first side of their 1001° Centigrades second album from 1971. Christain Vander was apparently unhappy with that release, the line up changing shortly after it came out.

Vander's always had clear ideas about Magma, getting others to realise the vision has evidently always been a struggle.  Riah Sahiltaahk benefits from a more sympathetic production, and if anything puts Magma more in the light of modern classical than in the outer limits of rock.

Riah Sahiltaahk leaves you wanting to hear more, and if anything, a release like this makes entry into the wonderful and frightening world of Magma that bit easier.

This new release on Jazz Village records marks the start of a new period for Magma, with a major programme of releases over forthcoming months. Other recent works such as K.A. (Köhntarkösz Anteria), Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré and Félicité Thösz are getting vinyl releases.

Earlier work is also getting re-issued and a box set of live material is in the pipeline, following on from their Studio Zund 12-disc box from 2009.

There are also live dates scheduled, with shows in London and Manchester in May.  Riah Sahiltaahk is a strong start for what looks like a key period for Magma.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Report: Bars en Trans, Rennes 2014

The Bars en Trans event held in Rennes in early December is a separate event to the Trans Musicales, but like he Edinburgh Festival and the Festival Fringe, they compliment each other well.

Bars en Trans features more local and French acts, in venues across the city from night clubs to bars, over the course of three nights.

And what's not to like about an event  promising  everything from 'pop/Paris' to  'Doo-Wop/Haute Savoie' and 'Hard-Folk/Ardeche'?

Obviously one problem is that there's so much going on that it's not possible to catch everything, and with the Trans Musicales on at the same time, there are even more clashes between acts I wanted to see.

Rennes is in Brittany, an area of France where bars are more common that Parisian style cafés, and it has the kind of young population  that thrives on events like les Bars en Trans.

Hardy young souls could be seen hitting the city's old town, see some of the bands and then catch the shuttle bus out to the Parc Expo for some of the headliners at the Trans Musicales

Last year I managed to catch a show by Sudden Death of Stars and Orval Carlos Sibelius, one of the highlight of my time in Rennes, so I was keen to make the most of the Bars en Trans.

The show that fitted best with my packed schedule was at the 1988 Live Club and was due to feature Kid Francescoli, H-Burns and Camp Claude, but a late-minute substitution saw Animali perform instead of Camp Claude.

Kid Francescoli presented a very stylish electropop, a male/female due with a drummer, and they made the kind of sound that inspires confidence in French music. Effortlessly modern with the kind of electronics that French artists have always done so well, and a live dynamic that was as much Gainsbourg and Birkin as it was Ellie and Jacno.

Animali may have been the late additions  to the bill, but the quintet from Lyon were no simple fillers, producing the kind of indie rock that fans of 70s progressive acts would have instantly recognised. An act with hidden depth of musicianship wrapped in approachable and crafted songs.

The headline act was H-Burns, who I featured here before, bringing a French take on US indie rock of the 90s. His outlook might be more far west that western France, with a flavour reminiscent of Howe Gelb of Giant Sand but his style is his own. He's got a new album due in January entitled Night Moves, and it will certainly bring in 2015 in style.

Three very different acts, each in their own way superbly illustrating some of the present strengths of French music.

While I certainly did well by attending that particular show, I've been left with the feeling that Bars en Trans is the kind of event that pretty much every show would have been worth going to, and I've now got a massive list of acts to investigate further.

Christine and the Queens: Christine

 A new clip from Christine and the Queens for the track Christine from their album Chaleur humaine.

It's a great clip. Simple and clever and showing her talent as a singer, writer and performer clearly and without distraction.

The album has been appearing on many people's end of year 'best of 2014' lists and looking ahead to next year she's seem a strong contender in the 2015 Victoires de la Musique awards.

I think we're seeing the first steps of an artist who'll only be going on to bigger things in forthcoming years.

Vive le Roq French relase of the year - Moodoïd: Le monde Möö

Time for the grand unveiling.

I've thought long and hard over what release this year should be the album of the year from Vive le Roq. It's a big trophy, a big honour, and the decision is one that can make careers or ruin reputations. It's not a decision that can be taken lightly.

Ok, maybe not. It's not exactly the  Victoires de la Musique, Academy Awards, or the Brits.

But this year, the honour falls on Moodoïd for their debut album Le monde Möö.

I had hopes that their album would be something special having seen them live and enjoyed their earlier releases, as well as Padovani's work with Melody's Echo Chamber. But the album not only surpassed my expectations but has been a work I've returned to repeatedly since, with no loss of its initial charm.

I said in my initial review: "They take one of music's more experimental and fertile times as their starting ground and apply the open-minded musical attitudes of that scene to create something very much their own."

It's a scenic and surprising ride through a strange an interesting place, with detours and excursions but without losing their direction.

Where we go next I don't know. Does the destination matter so much when the journey's been so good?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Les Trans Musicales 2014 playback: Lizzo and I Me Mine

Les Trans Musicales 2014 was a showcase for many acts, giving a platform to an eclectic selection of
emerging artists.

While much of the action was at the Parc Expo, there were sessions being performed and recorded at the Liberté at the centre of Rennes.

The Ubu nightclub also hosted acts throughout the event, and national media were there to capture some of the unique performances that were on offer.

Lizzo was one artist that was attracting a great deal of attention, and as well as a set at the festival a radio session went out.

Lizzo aux Transmusicales 2014 - Fip Session Live by Fipradio

While there many international acts on the bill, there was no shortage of local talent too.

I Me Mine are a wonderful local band, their music influenced by the psychedelic sounds of previous eras, but their outlook something altogether more modern.

They too were captured up close for a session at the Liberté, playing a set there as well.

I Me Mine aux Transmusicales 2014 - Fip Session... by Fipradio

Shy'm: L'effet de serre

An interesting version of the new single by Shy'm,  L'effet de serre unveiled on French TV.

The normally upbeat electro pop track was reworked for the programme C à vous as a piano and vocals track.

It's the second single to be taken from her Solitaire album that was released last month. It's the singer's fifth album.

She's been a major pop star in France since 2005, winning the Danse avec les stars reality TV show in 2011.

2015 sees her embark on an extensive tour around France, with dates from March. Two shows are lined up at Bercy in November.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Les Trans Musicales 2014 playback: Grand Blanc

One of the good things about the modern festival is that so much is now filmed professionally and
shared online.

You can re-watch highlights, or catch things you missed without having to rely on badly filmed and expensive VHS from a dubious source. It's a nice touch that much of the video content is available to watch internationally too.

I know licensing isn't easy, and filming events is not cheap, but the money spent here not only reflects well on the festival but also allows it to reach a far wider audience that those who actually were able to attend the shows in Rennes.

In the review of the event I posted at the weekend , I said that Grand Blanc were the highlight of the festival. Here's the evidence.

You'll probably be nodding in agreement after watching.


Indochine: Le fond de l'air est rouge

A live video by French rock legends Indochine,  with the track Le fond de l'air est rouge from their recent live collection.

The track comes from their  Black city tour collection, released earlier this month.

It documents the band's tour, focussing on their gig at the  Palais 12 in Brussels in March this year. It's available as a double CD and DVD/Blu Ray.

The Black City Tour saw the band play extensively across France ans elsewhere from February 2013 until August this year, with dates in Zénith arenas, two nights at the Stade de France in  June and a show in London in July.

 Le fond de l'air est rouge featured on the Black City Parade studio album, the band's 12th studio alum, which came out in 2013.

The collection showed without a doubt that Indochine remain a significant force in French music,  gathering both critical and commercial approval and selling over 100,000 copies along the way.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Casseurs Flowters: Des histoires à raconter

Apaprently a final release from French rap duo Casseurs Flowters, with a clip for the track Des
histoires à raconter.

The duo of Orlesan and Gringe released the album Orelsan et Gringe sont les Casseurs Flowters one year ago, and are bringing the project to a  close.

The song was, appropriately enough, the final track on the collection.

The two rappers had worked together several years ago before embarking on successful solo careers, and came together again to record the album which was met with both critical and commercial success.

Orelsan's last solo release was 2011's  Le chant des sirènes, which saw him win two  Victoires de la Musique awards and sell over 100,000 copies of the collection.

His success has not been without controversy, with accusations of homophobia and misogyny surrounding some of his lyrics.

Perhaps taking some time out from his solo career, while still enjoying success as part of a different act, will allow him to return to his solo career as a more mature artist.

Tal and Corneille: Cheek to Cheek

A new clip by Tal, one of France's most visible pop stars in recent years,  performing a duet with
Corneille on the track Cheek to Cheek, a hit originally from the 1930s.

The song originally featured on the film Top Hot, which featured Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers, from the golden era of Hollywood cinema.

The new version  comes from the collection Forever Gentlemen 2, which sees this track alongside work by the likes of Ben L'Oncle Soul and Michael Bublé.

The collection, which  was released in October, includes songs in French and English that were originally performed by SInatra, Charles Trenet, Yves Montand and Dean Martin.

The first volume featured singers like M. Pokora, Garou and Paul Anka performing hits of the 1950s. It reached number two in the French charts.

The clip for the song is an appropriately old school cinematic affair, with the pair's  experience on Danse avec les stars no doubt proving useful. Tal featured on the programme last year, with Corneille featuring in this year's competition

Tal's two studio collections Le droit de rêver and  À l'infini have each been triple platinum sellers in France, and her live collection  À l'infini tour was released in November 2014.

Report: Les Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014

Make no mistake, the Trans Musicales de Rennes is a lot to take in, with acts playing in both the city centre in the  early evening and in the halls of the Parc Expo by the airport on the outskirts of the city at night.

It's also an eclectic mix, with acts ranging from the experimental to the mainstream, from France and beyond.

From local acts at the Liberté and the Ubu, it's a platform for emerging talent as much as for more established acts performing to packed halls in the early hours, but principally its an experience to immerse yourself in a well-selected programme of acts.

If last year the event was dominated by Stromae playing a packed out hall on the Friday night, this year saw the same enthusiasm and crowd sizes for the likes of Rone and The Avener in the massive Hall 9.

But the festival gives a massive platform to acts on the rise, with Jungle and Moodoid among those benefiting from some Trans Musicales attention.

The personal highlight this year had to be Grand Blanc. They were and act I'd been looking forward to seeing them, and their take on electro-informed rock  hit the spot.  You could  detect the DNA of bands like the Cure and New Order in their bloodstream, but traces of post-punk French electro pop pioneers like Ellie and Jaco were also evident.

There was much to love in what they were doing, and the fact that they have yet to release their debut album suggests that even greater things are ahead.

Elsewhere, she may be outwith the French focus of this blog, but Australia's Courtney Barnett was a joyful performance, with something of the ragged glory of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Quite what a predominately French audience made of Kate Tempest's spoken word and rap performance was uncertain, but she had the energy of a mildly unhinged by endearing primary school teacher delivering a lesson the assembly was unlikely to forget.

No shortage of acts that deserve a mention in a round-up of the event. Dad Rocks delivered their thoroughly-crafted pocket symphonies, Cosmo Sheldrake's unique electro folk bringing much human warmth to a genre that too-often revels in being austere.

The aftermath of the Trans Musicales gives you much to think about. After the festival itself, you're left with much to follow up.

There are acts you caught briefly and want to investigate further. Others you might have missed completely, but good reports from friends lead you to check them out.

Other festivals play it safe, with bankable big names on the stage year after year. Not so the Trans Musicales, where a spirit of musical adventure is the key.

If you keep your ears and your mind open, you'll be rewarded at the Trans Musicales.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Trans Musicales preview: The Avener

One of the acts taking to the stage at the Parc Expo at the  Trans Musicales de Rennes festival tonight
is The Avener, a DJ and producer and one of the many dance-related acts performing over the event.

His first release was Fade Out Lines, a re-working of the track The Fade Out Line by Phoebe Killdeer and The Short Straws.

The Avener's work on the track reminds me of the remix of Prayer in C by Lilly Wood and the Prick that was an international hit after it was remixed by Robin Schulz.

Not that it actually sounds like that track, just that it takes a source song that you'd normally not associate with dance music, and re-interprets it in such a way that it works for a dancefloor but also retains the spirit of the original.

The Avener presents a house music infused with soul and informed by electro, and come up with something quite classy.

His debut album, to be titled The Wanderings Of The Avener, is expected to be released next year.

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Darjeeling Speech

Another act to feature at the Trans Musicales de Rennes festival are Darjeeling Speech, who are on at the étage venue on Friday afternoon.

They describe themselves as somewhere between hip hop, blues, rock and electro. All in all, not a bad place to be.

Oliver Saf, the force behind Darjeeling Speech is also a member of Rennes-based hip hop act Micronologie, who have been active since 2005.

They released their debut album that year, following it with Art Rythme Éthique in 2009.
They have just released their new album, entitled  Equations Verbales.

As for Darjeeling Speech, Zombies sur le boulevard was released in October.

Their EP Prose Fantomes was due out last month, but will be available soon.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy

Another success for veteran French artists, with the new album by  Alain Souchon and Laurent
Voulzy reaching the top of the album charts.

It follows the new release by Johnny Hallyday to the number one position in France.

The two artists have been friends for decades and it has taken a while for them to finally release a collaborative collection.

Souchon's career stretches back to the early 70s, and he had his biggest commercial successes in the 1990s.

Voulzy is himself an established solo artist, but has collaborated with  Alain Souchon since the mid 1970s. Their new album is the first time the two write and perform together.

The song Derrier les Mots was released as a single ahead of the release, reaching the French top 40.

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Bison Bisou

Another look ahead to a band who are featuring at the Trans Musicales de Rennes festival, and who
are set to perform at the étage venue in Rennes city centre later today.

Bison Bisou are a rock act who have been around for three years and the five piece say they have been influenced by 90s indie rock and post punk.

The five piece act released their first single Swim Against Death in 2011, and their debut album Naive is expected before too long.

Tt seems they've grown on fertile soil, there are echoes of some very fine bands in their music, whether At the Drive In or Fugazi, but rather than just absorbing and repeating earlier left-field guitar rock, they sound like a band who have come up with something  very much their own.

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Fawl

Another look ahead to a band who are featuring at the Trans Musicales de Rennes festival, and who
are taking to the stage at the étage venue this afternoon.

It looks like I'll miss out on catching them, as I don't get into town until late in the afternoon, which is a pity as they look well worth my attention.

They're a Breton based band, describing themselves as a Power Trio, who were formed in Dinan in 2010.

They released a four track Ep in 2013, featuring the tracks Hurt, Fallout, Eerily and Watchmen.
There's something Muse-like about them, but that's not a bad thing in my books by any means.

There's an ambition vision and the musical means to back it up, and I suspect they'll be a powerful live proposition.

Fawl - Iniquity (Live à Des Lendemains Qui Chantent) from VideoTrack on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Band Aid 30: Noël est là.

France's version of the Band Aid 30 song has emerged, with a cast of celebrities performing the track Noël est là.

The cast includes Jean-Louis Aubert, Louis Bertignac, Benjamin Biolay, Thomas Dutronc, Yannick Noah, Vanessa Paradis, Nicola Sirkis and Zaz.

Bob Geldof, the instigator of the original Band Aid song 30 years ago also makes an appearance. Geldof brought about the creation of the French version by asking Carla Bruni to organise it.

For many, of course, the highlight will be the brief re-appearance of Renaud. He remains one of France's best loved singer songwriters, and ill health in recent hears hasn't diminished his profile on account of the two recent chart-topping tribute CDs.

The song has, like its UK equivalent, been released to raise finds for the fight against Ebola.
The UK release sparked debate about whether a benefit single is the best way to do this, as well as serious  discussion about how the west looks at Africa. Other questions have been asked about the appropriateness of the lyrics.

Some things are certain though, and that is that the releases have raised the profile of the crisis in West Africa, and that money has been raised to help those fighting it.

 No one can deny that has been worthwhile.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Main Square festival 2015

Tickets go on sale today for the Main Square festival, a major three-day music event in Arras.

This year the headline act is Muse, and also on the bill is Lenny Kravitz.

Pharrell Williams will also be performing

So far, so international, but representing French music are Lilly Wood and Shaka Ponk.

Mainsquare festival takes place on July 3 ,4 and 5 2015.

The event has been running since 2004

Last year's event was headlined by Iron Maiden, with performances by Détroit, Woodkid, David Guetta and -M-  in front of 135,000 fans

Monday, 1 December 2014

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Gandi Lake

Another look ahead to the fast-approaching Trans Musicales de Rennes festival, with Gandi Lake
delivering a classy slice of indie pop.

The band hails from Caen and list their influences as 60s/70s masters like Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, The Kinks and Fleetwood Mac as well as more modern acts like Sébastien Tellier and The Black Keys via the likes of The Pastels, The Field Mice and The Coral.

The five piece were given the thumbs up by influential French magazine Les Inrocks earlier this year and  Weather Vanes was issued as a single, with the video emerging in September.

It's recently been released on vinyl, with the track Nothing about you featuring in the B side.

Editorial: December 2014

Well, November was quite a month!

Even I'm surprised by the amount of content I've been able to put on the site, perhaps down to better organisation or perhaps down to a huge amount of great things being released over the past weeks.
Most likely a bit of both.

Midway through the month November was already the month that had seen the largest number of articles this year.

And quietly, we passed another landmark, with 1,000 posts on now under our belt.
That momentum has little sign of slowing, as it's just a few days until I'm over to Rennes for the Transmusicales Festival, and a complete immersion in some of the latest interesting sounds coming from France.

I'm be continuing my preview reports, and there will be reviews from the shows that I get too.

Obviously I won't be able to get to everything, remembering that the city also hosts the Bars en Trans festival at the same time, which sees dozens of acts play at bars and clubs around the city.

But that being said, I'll be doing my best and the past few weeks have seen me introduced to some wonderful new acts. I'm really looking forward to it.

Last year saw me introduced to bands like Moodoid and Fat Supper, Exp0, Le Vasco and Superets to name just a few. This year will hopefully be every bit as eye - and ear - opening.

Meanwhile, the relentless pre-Christmas release schedule continues, and live evente are taking place with Yelle and Stromae both playing in the UK over the next few days.

As always, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be. I'm always pleased to hear from record companies, PR companies and promoters, so do get in touch.

We're also on Twitter as @viveleroq or you can find me at @karnag

Thanks as always  to the good people at the French Music Office in London and to the Institut francais in London for their help and encouragement.

Merci et à bientôt

John K

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Review: Johnny Hallyday - Rester Vivant

A new album by Johnny Hallyday is no small matter, he's an artist described lazily as 'The French
Elvis' , but given his influence and the shadow he casts over the French music scene, he's pretty much the French Beatles, the French Chuck Berry,  and the French Bruce Springsteen as well.

Rester Vivant is his eighth number one studio album in a row, a run that began with 1999's Sang pour Sang.

But the commercial success is all very well, but does Johnny still matter artistically?

An initial inspection finds the voice in good form, the songs well crafted and the production -  by Don Was,  who has worked with veteran rock acts similar to Hallyday like Dylan and the Stones - is sympathetic.

To these ears it's better that L'Attente, his 2012 collection that I always though a bit on the safe side compared to its predecessor, 2011's Jamais Seul, which felt more like an artist tying some new ideas.

Of course, L'Attente was a massive seller in comparison to Jamais Seul, so it just shows what I know.
If anything this album charts a course between these two previous albums, and there's no shortage of songs that could fit effortlessly into the canon of Hallyday classics, whether the more introspective Seul or A nos promesses, which wouldn't be out of place on a recent Springsteen album.  If Bruce had recorded in French, bien sur.

Hallyday could easily tread water in terms of releasing new material, but listening to this gives the impression that he's still got the drive  to push himself.

While he's never going to step too far from what he does best, this collection still has plenty of pleasant surprises.

It may not be American Recordings period Johnny Cash in terms of an artist redefining his career through his later period releases, but compared to Hallyday's contemporaries like Tom Jones, Elton John or Neil Diamond, Hallyday remains very much an artist vivant.

Le live du 24-10 (Johnny Hallyday - Rester... by f1334235678

Friday, 28 November 2014

Melody Says: Bang Bang

I always love it when something wonderful pops up unexpectedly on the radio, so it was a real treat to hear the song Bang Bang by Melody Says on Xfm this morning,

Hats off to Jim Gellatly at Xfm Scotland for picking this track as his breakthrough track of the day and to Fraser Thomson for playing it this morning.

French artists, other than a few well-known acts, rarely get an airing on radio so it was nice to hear a young artist getting some well-deserved exposure.

Melody Says,  known to her friends and family as  Alix Lachiver, is a Scottish educated Parisian singer, who sounds like an indie Françoise Hardy.

She's toured extensively, and worked with Pete Doherty, collaborating on the writing of the track Penguins on the recent Babyshambles album Sequel to the prequel.

She has been in the studio with Scottish producer Kenny Paterson, who worked with Placebo and the Lightning Seeds.

Hopefully we'll be hearing more from her soon, and hopefully she'll be a regular feature on the radio.

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Jeanne Added

The Trans Musicales in Rennes gives a showcase to acts  who are genuinely doing interesting things
and who, given the right exposure, could be as commercially successful as they are artistically credible.

Jeanne Added is one such artist, an eclectic artist with a powerful and unique style.  Although working in the more exploratory areas of rock, she's informed by jazz and  songwriting with a unique voice.

Originally from Reims, she studied music there before studying jazz in Paris, then going on to work with a variety of musicians and establishing herself as a solo artist.

Jeanne Added plays at the L'Aire Libre in Rennes as part of the  Trans Musicales 2014 over five nights, with a different support act each night.

Her debut album will be released on Naïve records in 2015.

The song A War is Coming was released this week as the first single from the album, and it looks like her album will be something to look forward to in 2015.

Acid Arab: Mosaïques Festival

Acid Arab take to the decks n London tonight for a DJ set as part of the Mosaïques Festival.

The festival, the 14th time it's been held, also sees a screening of the acclaimed film Benda Bilili! and panel discussions , plus world food stalls and mint tea.

It's being held at Rich Mix on Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch.

Acid Arab  recently remixed the track Think Of Me on the recent Judah Warsky EP

March this year, meanwhile, saw them release their second EP.

Acid Arab played at the Transmusicales festival in Rennes last year, bringing an intense and vibrant sound to an exhibition hall on the outskirts of the city in the early hours of the morning that bordered the middle of the night.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Thylacine

I've featured Thylacine on this bog before, noting how their very cool electro sounded "as influenced
by modern classical music as it is by anything going on in a nightclub".

It will certainly be a pleasure to see them live.

I featured the track Sand previously, a striking piece, and the rest of the material they've released so far is of the same quality.

You'll probably hear their work appearing on adverts and soundtracks before too long, Thylacine has the kind of sound that could add a touch of class to anything.

Thylacine is  a project by William Rezé from Angers, and the second EP Blend was released earlier this year. A new EP is due out at the end of January.

Following their set at the Trans Musicales, Thylacine play at the Nouveau Casino in Paris on December 12.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

David Guetta: Dangerous (Sam Martin acoustic version)

David Guetta's new album Listen dropped his week, a collection of songs that should dominate the
charts over coming months.

The song Dangerous is already a number one in France, as it is elsewhere, but an interesting acoustic version of the song has emerged, featuring the vocalist Sam Martin who features on Guetta's song performing solo with a piano.

While Guetta's version gets the airplay and views on YouTube and TV, Sam Martin's version reveals a completely different side to the song that maybe disappears beneath Guetta's onslaught of beats.

They sound like two very different songs, and reveal the difference that Guetta's work makes to a song.

There are some who would prefer Guetta's take on the song, others might like this version instead.

There's certainly room for both, and there will probably be others before too long.

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Forever Pavot

Another look ahead to the Les   festival, today looking at Forever Pavot.

The Paris-based act presents a technicolour vision informed by the further reaches of cinema, part Ennio Morricone, part psychedelic soundtrack from long-forgotten B-movies.

The group, led by  Emile Sornin have been around since 2011, with a number of singles issued since then.

Their debut full-length album Rhapsode was issued earlier this month on Born Bad records.

Following their show in Rennes, they play in the UK in December, with shows in Reading on December 10, Northampton December 11, Manchester the 12th and London on December 13.

Sable mouvant was issued as a limited edition seven inch single in 2013.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Le Vasco: She Saw Light

 A new video for a track by Le Vasco, with the track She Saw Light emerging from the shadows.

Almost a short film in terms of its length and scope, the clip does a good job matching the atmospheres created by Le Vasco.

They're an act that intrigues and quietly insist on  your complete attention.

Le Vasco are one of the acts that first came to my attention at the Les Trans Musicales festival last December, and they've remained a fascinating proposition since.

Their full-length album Passion Things - apparently more of a mix tape than a debut album proper - was released in December last year, preceded by a self-titled EP in November 2012.

Hopefully there's more by Le Vasco on its way before too long..

Indila: Love Story

A new clip from French pop star Indila, with the song Love Story getting the big budget video

It's the fifth track to be taken from her Mini World album as a single.

The album's been one of this year's biggest sellers in France since its release in February, reaching number one in the charts and selling enough copies to get diamond status.

A new edition of the album's recently been released.

Her single Dernière danse reached number two in France, and number one in other countries in Europe

There's an obvious Christmas and winter theme going on in the new video, which should see it getting some attention for this time of year

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Dad Rocks!

Continuing my look ahead to the acts playing at this year's Rencontres Trans Musicales de Rennes
next Month, today it's the turn of Dad Rocks!

While not strictly French (OK, they are from Denmark...) I've always been relaxed about my definition of French music in this blog, and they are signed to a  French record Label, Les Disques Normal, who are based in Rennes.

The label is also home to acts like Fat Supper and Lady Jane, two acts I had the chance to get acquainted with last year. And I've  been delighted to have had the chance to get to know their work.

The same applies to Dad Rocks!

They make a pretty gorgeous sound, epic and approachable, as welcome as a favourite jumper on a  cold autumn day.

The act has been active since 2010, with Denmark-based Icelander Snævar Njáll Albertsson at the helm.

They released an EP that year, following it with their Mount Modern debut LP in 2011.

 The album Year of the Flesh by Dad Rocks was released in September this year.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Grand Blanc

Next month sees the Rencontres Trans Musicales de Rennes festival, running from December 3 to
December 7.

I'll be over to see the event, a well-selected showcase for emerging and established talent including - as you would expect - some French acts that are well deserving of your attention.

Over the next few days I'll be previewing some of the acts that are playing at the event, as well as updating and reporting from the event once I'm there.

First act to fall under the Vive Le Roq spotlight is Grand Blanc.

They are label mates of Moodoid and Les Superets, two acts that hugely impressed me last year. All three acts are on Disques Enterprise, a label that champions emerging acts performing in French.

Listening to Grand Blanc you can hear an influence of the likes of the Cure and New Order, at least in terms of atmosphere, but Grand Blanc take a more electro approach that locates them firmly in the 21st century.

It would be easy to compare them to the likes of indie electro acts like Bastille or Chvrches, but to be honest I reckon Grand Blanc are streets ahead in terms of doing something interesting.

Grand Blanc realsed their first EP in September this year. Hopefully it won't be too long until we hear more from them.

SACEM Grands Prix 2014

Today's the day of the SACEM Grands Prix 2014, where the organisation celebrates some of the biggest players in the field.

The Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique performs a job like the Performing Rights Society does in the UK, collecting payments of the rights of artists and then distributing these to the songwriters, composers and music publishers.

The ceremony at the Olympia in Paris sees an award going to Johnny Hallyday , who receives the Prix Spécial.

Among the other awards, there's recognition for Lilly Wood and the Prick for Prayer in C, getting the Rolf Marbot Prize for song of the year.

Martin Solveig gets an award for best Electro, The Grand Prize for French Song, creator-performer goes to Pascal Obispo and the Grand Prize for French Song creator goes  Jean-Pierre Bucolo, who has worked with Johnny Hallyday and others.

There are awards for Jazz, traditional and world music, symphonic, humour as well as awards for film directors and music publishing.

The event is being streamed on the website from 8pm Paris time.

Grands Prix Sacem 2014 by SACEM

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review: Comett - My reality is your fiction

I first came across Comett when I chanced upon the track Once upon a time/ the city of lights with its
delightful clip, and I've been awaiting their debut album since.

The album My reality is your fiction finally came out last month, and while they've not rushed into it, the time they've spent putting it togtehr has certainly been worthwhile.

If Once upon a time/ the city of lights got my attention, songs like Don't Turn Off Your Light make it clear that it was no one-off, and the entire collection is infused not only with imagination but also displays ample evidence that they've got the skills to make it real.

 My Reality is Your Fiction is the kind of crafted electro indie pop that convinces you entirely.

At times there are touches of the epic and cinematic that are reminiscent of M83, at other times the off-kilter pop of Air. What's certain is that Comett are capable of greatness.

The European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet just days ago.

This Comett is easier to find but every bit as deserving of exploration.

Playlist: Les Inrocks

Probably time to try a new thing here on the blog, so I though I'd make n effort to link to an interesting playlist every week .

Obviously subject to the usual small print disclaimer of me actually remembering to do it, having the time to make it happen, and keeping it regular. We'll see how it goes.

So, to start, a great new playlist by the good people at Les Inrocks, with 26 French acts well worth discovering.

Not strictly Francophone by any means, many of the acts performing in English, but that's always been a thing in France and I've never been too precious about what defines a French act anyway.

Some acts that we've featured here on the bog before are included, like Husbands and Jessica93, and I reckon I'll feature some of the others here before too long.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Daft Punk: Recognizer - Audi TT Advert

A new appearance by a Daft Punk track on an advert, with a remix of the track Recognizer .

The track comes originally from Disney's Tron Legacy soundtrack, released originally in 2010.

The third generation TT was unveiled at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, and the advert certainly shows it making a dramatic entrance.

While car enthusiasts were pretty excited about the new car, the advert does perhaps ramp up the drama a bit.

Still, what better act to soundtrack some cutting-edge technology than Daft Punk?

Vorsprung Daft Punk, perhaps?

Bikini Machine: Stop all Jerk.

A film noir setting  for the ever stylish Bikini Machine in their new clip Stop all Jerk.

The track comes from their most recent album Bang on time, which was relased earlier this month.

I've features Bikini Machine a few times here on the blog over the years and I've always been a fan of their french-fried take on Yéyé and garage rock.

 The Rennes-based band have been active since 2001, releasing their debut in 2003.

Other releases since in clude a collection of Jacques Dutronc covers Bikini Machine joue Dutronc released in November 2005.

Prior to Bang on Time they released Comme dans un garage  in 2013.

Bikini Machine play in Paris on December 17 at the Nouveau Casino

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Brodinski feat SD: I can't Help myself.

A great track and a remarkable video from Brodinski feat SD for the track I can't Help myself.

It's the first track from a forthcoming album that is due out early next year.

Brodinski's developed a fearsome reputation as a DJ and producer, for both his own work and the remix projects he has been involved in.

He's worked with the likes of Yuksek, Gesaffelstein and Justice over the years, as well as with Kanye West.

His album looks certain to be one of 2015's key releases.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cleo T: Live in London

A London date tonight for French chanteuse Cleo T, who plays at The Social.

Her sound's a sophisticated one, informed by cabaret and classic pop, but remaining a thoroughly  modern experience.

Her debut album Songs of Gold and Shadow, which was released in September,  was produced by PJ Harvey associate John Parish.

She is no stranger to the UK, having played in London in June, and at the Great Escape in Brighton in May.

She's releasing a new single, Comme vient La Nuit, with an EP to follow next year.

She'll be playing live in Europe in 2015, with dates in Italy, the UK and Germany and some shows in the east coast of the USA and Canada too.

Husbands: Let Me Down (don't)

A great new clip by the band Husbands, where you have to love the retro televisions.

The song Let Me Down (don't) is a tasteful piece of electro from the Marseilles three piece.

Their self-titles five track EP was released in June 2013,l featuring other memorable tracks like You, Me, Cellphones

The single comes out as a 12 inch vinyl next month with remixes by Laurent Garnier and Ghost Of Christmas.

The band recently signed to the Sounds Like Yeah! label, co-founded by Laurent Garnier, and an album is anticipated some time next year.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hellfest 2015: Line up details

Details have emerged for much of the bill for this summer's Hellfest festival, the annual metal event in Clisson.

Topping the bill are Slipknot, Scorpions and Faith no more, also at the top are Judas Priest, ZZ Top, Slash, Motorhead and Alice Cooper.

While Download released details tody of four acts on the bill, Slipknot, Priest, Five finger death punch and Black Stone Cherry, Hellfest revealed details of 130 acts.

I've always been impressed by not only the number of acts that are on the festival each year, but the way that pretty much every sub-genre of metal is represented. And there are many, many such sub genres.

Korn, Limp Bizkit, Nightwish, Marilyn Manson, Airbourne and Billy Idol are there, as are Venon, Children of Bodon, Satyricon and Arch Enemy.

More punk styled acts include  Dead Kennedys, NOFX, Bodycount, the Exploied and France's  Les Wampas and Les Ramoneurs de Menhir,

Five finger death punch are also there. No sign of Black Stone Cherry though. So far, anyway.

Hellfest 2015 takes place on June 19, 20 and 21. Three-day tickets have gone on sale today.

Official Hellfest 2014 After Film by hellfestchannel

Mr Oizo: The Church

The new album by Mr Oizo has been made available to listen online, a week ahead of the full release  of the new collection by Quentin Dupieux .

The stream is on the Dazed and Confused website, where Oizo speaks of his time in Los Angeles where he collaborated with Flying Lotus over the re-issue of his second album, the positive experience leading to his continued relationship with his label.

Oizo's been engaged in low-budget high-imagination cinema in recent years, and while best-know for the film Rubber (about a killer tyre...) he's worked on promo clips and music videos as well.

The new album, The Church, follows the release of the track Machyne in September and it's certainly been eagerly awaited by fans of the more experimental edge of the electronic music spectrum.

The new collection, his fifth, comes out on Brainfeeder.

Stromae: Meltdown (feat Lorde, Haim, Pusha T and Q-Tip)

A high-profile new track by Stromae, with the song Meltdown featuring on the soundtrack for the
latest installment of the Hunger Games film franchise.

The track features on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, which is released at the end of November and stars Jennifer Lawrence.

It's likely to be one of the Christmas season's biggest earning films.

The track has an impressive cast list too, with Lorde and Haim as well as Pusha T, Q-Tip featuring on the release.

Stromae takes the lead credit and the production duties for bringing the elements of the track together.

Some of the scenes of the film were, incidentally, shot in the Paris area, with filming taking place in May in Ivry-sur-Seine and in Noisy-le-Grand.

The soundtrack album also features Chvrches, Charlie XCX, Grace Jones, the Chemical Brothers as well as several tracks by Lorde who curated the collection.

Stromae comes to London on December, with a sold-out show at the Eventim Apollo on the ninth.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Charles Pasi: Acoustic

An Acoustic session this week by Charles Pasi, a Paris jazz and blues infused based singer

Acoustic is the music show on TV5monde, a show that gives French artists an international showcase.

Pasi studies music in Paris and Rome, and has been active from 2005, winning an award at the Le festival Blues sur Seine.

His debut album Mainly Blue was released in 2006, his second Uncaged coming out in 2011.

His most recent album, Sometimes Awake, was released earlier this year.

Pasi played at La Cigale in Paris on November 12, and has dates in Strasbourg and Romans sur Isere later this month.

The session sees him play Too many friends,  Up to us,  Little love,  A sleeping scene and Lazy lady as well as brief interviews.

Christine and the Queens: Christine

A lyric video for the track Christine by Christine and the Queens.

The track features on the Chaleur Humaine album that was released this summer, and has seen the act become one of France's most acclaimed new acts.

The track is as good as anything in the album, and we'll hopefully see a fuller video emerge before too long.

Earlier this month Christine featured as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of Canal+. performing  We are Family with Nile Rodger.

Christine and the Queens have announced some new live dates in France in February and March next year, and have just finished some dates in Scandanavia.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Marion Cotillard: Snapshot in LA

A new video by French actress Marion Cotillard for the song Snapshot in LA, a song conceived for the new advertising campaign by Dior.

Music is of course nothing new for Marion Cotillard, given that she starred in the film La Vie En Rose, a role that saw her win an Oscar.

She also teamed up with Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand for the song The Eyes of Mars to launch a previous fashion range in 2010.

Last year saw her feature in a video by David Bowie for the track The Next Day.

In 2010 she featured in the clip for the track More Than Meets The Eye by Yodelice.

The new track sees her collaborating with Joseph Mount from Metronomy, showing that her musical taste remains as well informed as it did in 2010.

La féline: Les Fashioniste

A great track by electro act La féline.

Their single Les Fashionistes is a classy piece of work that both pays homage to the retro sounds of the 80s but with its eyes very much on on the 21st century.

La féline describe themselves as "Julee Cruise meets Christophe, meets the Stranglers" and features singer and guitarist Agnès Gayraud from Paris who has been releasing material since 2009.

The track features on their debut album Adieu l’enfance on Kwaidan Records,  which follows an EP of the same name that was released in May.

If the single is anything to go by, the album will require my full attention very soon. It has the kind of class  that makes you confident you will be hearing about this act a great deal before too long.

The album was released in France on Monday November 10 and La féline play at the Nouveau Casino on Paris on November 27 to celebrate the release of the album.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Live: Petit fantôme at Festival Les Inrocks Philips

A gig in London tonight with the mighty Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains, but one that also features the very interesting Petit fantôme.

The show, the Festival Les Inrocks Philips sees the venerable French magazine behind an outing of quality French acts in the British capital.

Petit fantôme is a project by Pierre Loustaunau, who previosuly played with Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains.

He released an EP entitles Yallah in 2011, and followed this up with a mixtape entitled Stave in 2013.

Petit fantôme is playing a few more dates supporting  Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains before going into the studio to record their debut album.

The gig is tonight at the Scala at  276 Pentonville Road London.

November 11: Armistice Day

I've marked Armistice Day on the blog in previous years, and this year is no exception.

France suffered from the wars of the 20th century like  many others, and the scars remain visible in some places to this day.

It is a holiday in France, for most a day off work, but also a time to reflect on those whose sacrifice ensured the freedom we enjoy today.

While peace may remain as elusive as ever, it remains an ideal worth pursuing even in the times of conflict.

Monday, 10 November 2014

M83: Moonchild

Another older track by M83 getting another moment in the sun, with a new video for the track
Moonchild emerging.

The video marks the latest phase of the reissue campaign that saw new editions of their first three  albums M83, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts and Before The Dawn Heals Us.

Moonchild comes from Before The Dawn Heals Us, a collection originally released in January 2005.
It also featured the tracks Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun and In The Cold I'm Standing , both of which have been featured in recent videos.

On the M83 YouTube channel, Anthony Gonzalez said: "Before the Dawn Heals Us’ is still my favorite… There's something very special about it.

"I remember listening back to it for the first time with my manager at the end of the session, and it was like, “Yeah, that's cool. I'm going to sleep well tonight.”

While it may be some time since we've seen a new album from M83, there's little doubt that their back catalogue is packed full of classic material.

Zaz: Champs Élysées

A new album out today by Zaz,  the collection entitled Paris seeing her focus on Paris and all matters

The album, her third, finds her covering classic songs about Paris including the new single Champs Elysées, a song originally by Joe Dassin.

Dassin was an artist who released music from the early 60s until his death in 1980. Les Champs-Élysées featured on his 1969 album.

The new single follows the previous single, Paris sera toujours Paris, which was originally recorded in 1939 by Maurice Chevalier, a singer who throughout his long career sang many songs in praise of the French capital.

Zaz's previous collection, 2013's Recto verso was one of the biggest selling albums in France last year.

 Her new work is likely to find favour not only with a domestic French audience but with a certain kind of nostalgic francophile whose idea of French music this pretty much encapsulates.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

MTV European Music Awards

The MTV European Music Awards event takes place in Glasgow this weekend, with David Guetta in
the Best Electro Act category.

The list of artists performing an those shortlisted for awards show it's very much a US/UK dominated event. It's being hosted by Nicki Minaj and acts appearing include Charli XCX, Kiesza, Ariana Grande, Royal Blood and Ed Sheeran.

The MTV European Music Awards were last held in France in 1995 at the Zénith in Paris.

Five acts competed for the Best French act local category, which was won by Indila whose Mini World album was a diamond seller and number one in France this year.

The other acts in the French act nominations shortliset were Julien Doré, Casseurs Flowters and Christine and the Queens.

The award has previosuly been won by the likes of Manu Chao and Indochine, as well as Justice and Jenifer. The last two years saw Shaka Ponk win, beating Daft Punk, Maître Gims, Tal and C2C least year, Tal, Irma, Orelsan and Sexion D'Assaut the previous year.

Prior to that, the five nominated acts this year, the pre-nominations list also included Tal, Black M, Fauve, Team BS and  Maître Gims.

But this year's winner is Indila, the R&B styled pop star whose album was one of the biggest French sellers in 2014.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Kavinsky: Sovereign

A new track by French electro master Kavinsky, Sovereign emerging from the his live OutRun tour.

If Kavinsky have a reputation for creating work that fits in with cinema, this track certainly would, but it is strong enough to stand on its own.

It's a heavy piece of electronics that follow son well from his OutRun collection that was released last year.

While his love of the futuristic sounds of the 80s can be heard at fist listen, its as informed by the 21st century as it is by any notion of retro.

Hopefully it's a prelude to more new material. In the meantime you can imagine this brooding piece playing while the stone-faced hero drives through the midnight streets under neon light...

La Bande à Renaud 2: Nolwenn Leroy - J'ai la vie qui m'pique les yeux

With the release of the Bands La Bande à Renaud 2 album at the end of last month, a video has
emerged to promote the album, and the chosen track is Nolwenn Leroy's version of J'ai la vie qui m'pique les yeux.

The track originally appeared on Renaud's 1979 Ma Gonzesse album.

Leroy featured on the first volume of contemporary interpretations of Renaud songs which was released earlier this year to considerable success.

The new volume features return performances by Benjamin Biolay Nicola Sirkis from Indochine and Renan Luce, the son in law of Renaud.

New artists to feature on the second volume include Thomas Dutronc,  Emmanuelle Seigner and Bernard Lavilliers.

The previous volume was such a  success, bringing Renaud to the attention of new listeners, that the new collection is likely to be met with a similar reaction.

Nolwen Leroy meanwhile releases a live collection on December the first  documenting her tour that followed the release of her  Ô Filles de l'Eau album.