Friday, 28 February 2014

Pharrell Williams feat Daft Punk: Gust of Wind

With Pharrell Williams working with Daft Punk on Random Access Memories, it seems that that the
collaboration didn't end with Get Lucky and Lose Yourself to Dance, the two best-known tracks from the French act's 2013 album.

A track entitled Gust of Wind has emerged from Pharrell's forthcoming second solo album called G I R L , the song produced by Daft Punk

There's something of Jamiroquai about Gust of Wind  I reckon, and while the Daft Punk contribution is obvious, it is not so intrusive that it ceases to be a Pharrell Williams track.

It will certainly go down well with all those who were impressed with Random Access Memories and who can't wait for new Daft Punk material.

While Daft Punk teased its audience in the build up to the release of Random Access Memories with snippets of tracks, Pharrell has released an entire track. However, given Pharrell's high profile, the success of the song Happy  and the strength of this track, it looks certain that G I R L  will be one of this year's key releases.

The album gets its official release on Monday March the third.

Sudden Death of Stars: Live in the UK

This weekend and next week sees audience in the UK getting the chance to see one of France's finest new
bands live, with Sudden Death of Stars playing a number of dates across the UK.

The Rennes-based psych pop act are playing ahead of the release of their new album All Unrevealed Parts of the Unknown on March 11.

It's their second album, and it comes out on Ample Play Records, a label set up by Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres of Cornershop.

I saw them live in December in Rennes during the Bars en Trans festival, and their carefully-crafted studio work certainly retains its charm in a live environment.

They are in Liverpool at the Shipping Forecast tonight, Feb 28, Edinburgh The Wee Red Bar on Saturday March 1 and in Glasgow at Stereo on Sunday March 2.

Dates continue at Manchester Band on the Wall on March 4, Bristol on March 5 and London's The Old Blue Last on March 6.

They play Halifax Doghouse on March 7 and Preston The Ferret on March 8 before heading over to France, where they play a number of shows including one in Paris at Espace B on March 14, and homecoming show at the 1988 Live CLub in Rennes on March 15.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

M83: I Need You

A new track's emerged from M83, the song I Need You featuring on the soundtrack for the film Divergent.

The movie is described as "A thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues."

M83 are a perfect choice for a science fiction soundtrack, their work having also appeared on Tom Cruise's Oblivion movie in 2013.

It's based on a book, the first of a trilogy, by American writer Veronica Roth. It's a teenage-audience science fiction work, set in a dystopian Chicago of the future, aimed at much the same kind of target audience as The Hunger Games.

The film stars Shailene Woodley as Beatrice Prior. Others appearing include Ray Stevenson, Kate Winslet and Ashley Judd.

Other artists on the soundtrack include Woodkid - with the track Run Boy Run and I Love You on the deluxe edition - and A$AP Rocky featuring Gesaffelstein with the track In Distress.

Ellie Goulding has several tracks including one new song, and other artists include Snow Patrol and Tame Impala featuring  Kendrick Lamar on vocals.

Divergent is at the cinema in the UK on March 21, with the soundtrack album released on March 21.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Emmanuelle Seigner: Distant Lover

A track by Emmanuelle Seigner, who although an artist initially best known as an actress has pursued a
career in music for several years.

Emmanuelle Seigner became known as an actress with her role in the 1988 Harrison Ford film Frantic, a Paris-based thriller directed by Roman Polanski. She went on to star in his 1992 film Bitter Moon and in his 1999 film The Ninth Gate alongside Johnny Depp.

Other films she's featured in include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Place Vendome.

Seigner is also known for being Polanski's partner, whom she married in 1989.

Her music career saw her move from an appearance in a Death in Vegas video - for the track Hands Around my Throat, to performing songs on the soundtrack of  the film Backstage in 2005.

She released her debut album proper Don't Kiss Me Goodbye in 2006, and her second album Dingue was released in 2010.

The track Distant Lover comes from the album of the same name, which is released  in France on March 31.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Alonzo: A la Dafpunck

A track by rapper Alonzo reveals president Francois Hollande as an unlikely icon of street style, with his scooter and Daft Punk style helmet.

The rapper, known to his family as  Kassim Djae, mocks the president in his new track, and makes a very cool job of it.

Alonzo's usually found as a member of rappers Psy 4 de la Rime. The Marseille act released their most recent album Le Temps d'un instant last year.

Alonzo's most recent solo album was Amour, Gloire & Cité, a top ten album that was released in 2012.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Indochine: Belfast

A new video for the track Belfast by Indochine, the fourth track to be taken from their Black City Parade album, one of last year's most significant releases.

The video's a celebration of the band's live performances, and coming out just days after the band played at the Victoires de la Musique awards, it will certainly capitalise on the band's current high profile.

The electro-flavoured track will be available in a number of remixed formats.

The band have live dates in March, and their tour to promote the album comes to a halt at the Stade de France on June 27 and 28.

The Belfast single is available from March 3.

Jean-Louis Aubert: Isolement

An interesting video for  Jean-Louis Aubert's song Isolement, a track from his album of songs based on
poems by French writer Michel Houellebecq.

Houellebecq makes an appearance himself in the video for the single, which for all its highbrow heritage is a great song.

Aubert is a veteran of the French music scene, one of the founder members of Téléphone in the 70s, before embarking on a solo career

 He initially released the Plâtre et Ciment album with Télephone's Richard Kolinka under the name  Aubert'n'Ko in 1987, before his first solo album proper Bleu Blanc Vert in 1989.

Aubert's last album was 2010's Roc éclair, a collection which although focussing on sombre matters didn't stop it selling over 370,000 copies, an RTL album of the year award and his first solo Victoire de la Musique award for best show or tour of the year in 2012 for the tour that followed the album.

The track comes from Aubert's forthcoming Aubert chante Houellebecq - Les parages du vide which is due to come out on April 14.

 In the meantime, the video will no doubt keep cultural commentators busy for a while.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Clapping Music: 50 free downloads

A nice surprise from the Paris-based label Clapping Music, who have made 50 tracks available as free
downloads from their website. SoundCloud Widget

The record label has done this to celebrate their new website, and the tracks are available until March 20.

Bands on the collection include the wonderful Orval Carlos Sibelius as well as Yeti Lane, François Virot, Centenaire  and My Jazzy Child.

The tracks include back catalogue numbers, as well as demos, unreleased tracks and previews.

The tracks from Clapping Music can be downloaded in their entirety or individually from the record company's website > 

A video for the Orval Carlos Sibelius  track Asteroids came out at the end of last month, the track featuring on their album Super Forma.

I was lucky enough to see them play in Rennes in December and they were the kind of act that required me to immediately acquaint myself with their back catalogue. This download from their record company looks like is the perfect place to start.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Cédric Gervais and Miley Cyrus: Adore You

A video's emerged for the Cédric Gervais remix of the track Adore You by Miley Cyrus.

The song  is the first track on her Bangerz album, one of last year's biggest selling albums internationally. Adore you is the album's third single, after We Can't Stop and Wrecking Ball.

The song wasn't as big a hit as either of it's two predecessors, and Gervais was approached to freshen up the song to give it another chance.

Gervais came to international prominence last year with his work with Lana Del Rey, his remix of the song Summertime Sadness giving her the biggest hit so far of her career.

It followed his own hit Molly the previous year, a top 30 single in the UK. Gervais was originally from France, and DJ'd in Paris before moving to Miami at the age of 15 to pursue his musical career.

He released his debut album Experiment in 2006, following it in 2011 with Miamication.

Gervais won a Grammy for his remix of Summertime Sadness, a major success for a French artist that was slightly overlooked given that Daft Punk dominated the awards so completely this year.

Miley Cyrus doesn't need any help publicising herself - her tour has just started and the press are already running stories about her routines involving foam fingers, giant hot dogs and dance moves -but her music does tend to get a bit lost in the media storm.

But maybe the Cédric Gervais remix will bring more of the attention back to her music again.

Victoires de la Musique 2014

This weekend saw France's most significant music awards ceremony, with the Victoires de la Musique ceremony being held for the 29th time.

The good year for Stromae continues, with the Belgian picking up three awards, and Vanessa Paradis, Phoenix, Johnny Hallyday and Woodkid picking up some new ornaments for their trophy cabinets.

Male artist: Stromae
Female artist: Vanessa Paradis

Breakthrough album: La Femme - Psycho tropical Berlin

Breakthough artist: Woodkid

Chanson album: Stromae - Racine carrée

Rock album: Phoenix - Bankrupt

Urban music album: 1995 - Paris sud minuit

World music album: Ibrahim Maalouf - Illusions

Electronic or dance album: Kavinsky - Outrun

Original Song:  Johnny Hallyday - 20 ans

Musical / tour / concert: M - Îl(s)

Video: Stromae - Formidable

Music DVD: Shaka Ponk - Geeks on stage

It seemed a fairly obvious selection of winners. It wasn't hard to predict that Stromae might do quite well, for example.  But the list of winners doesn't really give the whole picture by any means, as there were some great performances during a programme that showcased some of the best music that France has to offer.

Among the performances were the likes of Cats on Trees, Zaz,  Etienne Daho, Indochine, Christine and the Queens and Grand Corps Malade, along with Vanessa Paradis, La Femme and Shaka Ponk.

I'm sure it's easy to criticise the list of winners, but the talent on show during the ceremony shows that French music is without a doubt in great shape and that there are acts that are not only delivering the best work of their careers at the moment and there are new acts creating some of the best work around.

In short, a great showcase for France's musical talent after what has been an historic year for French musical talent.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Review: Cascadeur: Ghost Surfer

Cascadeur is one of France's most distinctive vocalists, his 2011 debut firmly establishing him as one of the
country's most promising artists.

His follow up - Ghost Surfer - released this month up secures that reputation. His voice both affecting and powerful,  standing comparison to the likes of Anthony Heggarty, Neil Young or Robert Wyatt.

The album was preceded by the single Ghost Surfer, a song I felt initially a bit disappointed by. I liked it, but didn't love it. But given time the song gradually crept in and took up residence.

The album is an assured work, by an artist confident about his vision and certain about how to realise it. His voice rightly takes centre stage, even amidst lush arrangements, whether in French or English and even in wordless tracks like Dark Passenger.

For all he wears his helmet or Mexican mask concealing his face, Alexandre Longo lets his voice reveal more about his personality. Emotional but also playful as well, sensitive but also powerful.

There's art and beauty here, but he never lets that get in the way of a good pop song.

Appearances by Stuart A Staples from The Tindersticks on The Crossing and French veteran Christophe on Collector add elements to the picture, but don't distract from the overall work

Looking here for something that matches the immediate jaw-dropping wonder that was Walker off his debut? Report to The Crossing immediately.  And beyond that, there is much to listen to repeatedly and enjoy for the long term.

Ghost Surfer looks like it will be one of 2014's key releases.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Festival: Rock en Seine

Another French festival unfurls its flag for 2014, and this time its Rock en Seine giving us a taste of what's
coming up this summer.

Rock en Seine, a three day event, has confirmed Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Prodigy, Airbourne and Volbeat among their first names on the bill.

It's not a totally rock dominated bill, with Lana Del Rey and Portishead are also among the others, and France's Etienne de Crécy in his Super Discount guise will also be performing.

The event takes place in the "Domaine national de Saint-Cloud park near Paris, and previous years have seen the likes of The Pixies, Radiohead, Morrissey, REM,  Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire headline.

Arctic monkeys headlined previously in 2011 while Queens of the Stone Age were one of the top acts in 2010.

Last year saw the likes of  Phoenix, Nine Inch Nails and System of a Down on the bill.

Rock en Seine takes place on August 22, 23 and 24 and tickets are available now.

Etienne de Crecy - Prix choc by etiennedecrecy

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Garou: Du Vent, Des Mots.

A new single from Canadian singer Garou, with Du Vent, Des Mots.

It's the second track to be taken from his Au Milieu de ma Ve album that was released in November last year.

The song Avancer was released as the first single from the collection, an album of original songs that comes a year after Rhythm and Blues, an album of covers.

Garou is a high-profile music figure in France at the moment due to his appearance as a judge in The Voice, (The Voice: la plus belle voix as it's called in France) which began its third season in January.

The competition was won last year by one of Garou's contestants,  Yoann Frégel.

Garou established himself in France with the track Belle, released from the musical Notre Dame de Paris in 1997. Garou was one the the three singers on the song, taking the role of Quasimodo.

It was a number one, and remains one of the biggest selling singles in France and Belgium of all time.

His debut album Seul was released in 2000, the title track giving him another number one hit single.

He would go on to have number one hits with the song Sous le vent, a duet with Celine Dion  in 2001, and with La Rivière de notre enfance, a duet with Michel Sardou in 2004.

Du vent, des mots also features the voice of Canadian singer Charlotte Cardin, a veteran of the Canadian version of The Voice.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Superets - 160 caractères pour te dire adieu

A great video Superets for the track 160 Caractères Pour Te Dire Adieu.

The band play a genre they call yéyétronique, a pretty apt description for their modern take on classic French pop.

The song features on a four track EP that came out at the end of January on Enterprise Records.

The band featured on the les InRocks lab Volume 2 compilation which came out in December last year alongside the likes of Moodoid, Le Vasco and Rhume.

I saw Superets live in December in their hometown, and the're a great act to see if you get the chance.

They were a hugely entertaining and engaging act, and I look forward to hearing more by them this year.

David Guetta feat Skylar Grey: Shot me Down

A new track has emerged by French dance producer David Guetta, this time its a cover of the track Shot
Me Down.

The song - originally titled Bang Bang (My baby shot me down) was a hit for Cher, reaching number three in the UK and number two in the US Billboard chart.

It was also covered by Nancy Sinatra, whose version of the song was included in Tarantino's Kill Bill, making it widely heard by a new generation of listeners.

The Nancy Sinatra version was given a complete re-modelling by London electronic dance act Audio Bullys in 2005, reaching number 3 in the UK charts.

Grey has worked with the likes of Eminem, getting a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year for her writing on the song "Love the way you lie", a hit for Eminem and Rihanna. She's also written for Christina Aguilera and contributed to Will I Am's solo album.

She sang on Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP 2, and she also appeared on Moby's most recent album Innocents

The Guetta track is a bit different from his usual material, seems he's absorbed a bit of dubstep recently.

Of course, French music fans will be impressed to hear a little nod towards Serge Gainsbourg's Comic Strip featuring in the song, seems Guetta's lost none of his French touch.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Girls in Hawaii: Rorsarch

A new video from Girls in Hawaii for the track Rorsarch.

The track comes from the Belgian band's debut album Everest, which was released last year.

It's a great piece of synth heavy rock, and one of the strongest tracks on the album.

The band formed in 2000 as a duo of Antoine Wielemans and Lionel Vancauwenberghe, who formed a band a few months laer with their brothers Denis Wielemans and Brice Vancauwenberghe along with friends Christophe Léonard and Daniel Offermann.

Their first album From Here To There was released in 2003, its follow-up Plan Your Escape emerging in 2008.

Everest is the band's third album, and their first since the death of drummer Denis Wielemans in a car crash.

Girls in Hawaii play at the Olympia in Paris on March 18, with dates elsewhere in France following after.

Dead: Live at the Ubu in Rennes

Great to see some more quality video surface of the band Dead, a Rennes-based act who I was fortunate
enough to catch during the Transmusicales even in the city in December.

They're filmed live at the Ubu, a venue in the city, where they played this weekend by city TV station Rennes TV.

I was impressed with Dead when I saw them, their live show taking the menace of 80s dark acts like Sisters of Mercy into the 21st century.

 My review of their December gig is on the site here.

As an aside, it's worth remarking that Rennes TV are doing exactly what a local/city TV station should be doing in terms of presenting emerging talent from their city in the best possible light.  The production is of the highest standards, and absolutely appropriately done for the act involved.

 Dead are the kind of interesting act that deserve attention, but who  might find themselves elbowed out in favour of more commercially recognised acts when it comes to making appearances on national TV.

Local TV is boing launched shortly in Scotland, and while the environment is very different to the one that has seen Rennes TV flourish since its creation in 1987 hopefully some lessons will be learned from their apparent success.

Hopefully we'll see more of Dead before too long, and hopefully Rennes TV will continue to provide a valuable showcase for more of the acts from the city's vibrant local scene.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Solidays festival: First line-up details

Details have been confirmed for this year's Solidays festival at the Longchamp racecourse near Paris.

This year sees M, Franz Ferdinand and Patrice, along with Yodelice, Vitalic and Gesaffelstein.

More names will be added shortly.

The three day event - the sixteenth time it's taken place- is being held on June 27, 28 and 29.

Last year around 170,000 people saw the likes of David Guetta and C2C at the festival which has become one of France's biggest musical events.

It originally started as an Aids awareness event, and it has raised over 2 million euros to organisations fighting the disease.

This year the spirit of Nelson Mandela  is being evoked by organisers, with the slogan "Tee fight must go on" .
Tickets for the festival go on sale on February 14.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

French journalists kidnapped in Syria #6fevrier

Today sees attention in France being given to four journalists being held in Syria, eight months after the first two were taken hostage during the conflict.

Journalist  Didier François who works for Europe 1 and photographer Edouard Elias were taken prisoner on June 6 2013,  journalist Nicolas Hénin who works for Le Point and  photographer Pierre Torres who works for Arte were taken on June 22 2013.

France télévisions is dedicating a special broadcast this evening to the campaigns to free the four journalists being held.

Their kidnap comes amid a situation that sees 22 western journalists held in Syria, and at least 20 others from Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. Others being held include aid workers, medics and an Italian priest.

This situation is by any measure unacceptable.

A concert supporting the four hostages was held in Paris in November last year, and I thought the interpretation by singer Grégoire of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights deserved a mention here.

Concert de soutien aux otages en Syrie... by Europe1fr

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Mondkopf: Hadès

An album that got my attention today is Hadès, the new collection from Mondkopf.

The album's available to stream in its entirity on Mondkopf's Bandcamp 

It certainly merits your time. It's an experimental work, but one that is at times very beautiful in a terrifying way.

It's the fourth album by the French producer, bringing an experimental doom styling to dark electronica.

The album is available to steam in full and is also available as a CD or on vinyl, although in an edition of only 500 copies.

Mondkopf plays in Paris at La Gaite Lyrique on Feb 22, and at the Gibus on March 14 and La Machine on April 20.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains: La Vérité

A video has emerged for the song La Vérité by France's favourite indie rockers Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains.

The song's already been around for a few weeks as an audio track, and it's great to see it getting a video that it deserves.

It takes things up a notch in terms of production values and style, but without losing the charm makes Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains the kind of band they are.

The video was directed by Mathieu Demy, who as well as being an actor of note, directed the film Americano on 2011.

he has appeared in films from a young age, unsurprising given he is the son of Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy, but established himself with a role in 1997 French Aids musical Jeanne et le Garçon formidable.

The track comes from the forthcoming Frànçois & the Atlas Mountains album Piano Ombre, which comes out on March 17  La Vérité will be released on the same day as a single.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Editorial: February 2014

It's been a busy start to 2014 here, with not only a good number of posts over the past few weeks, and a very healthy amount of traffic to the site.

Last month was only a few visits away from our all-time record, building on the large number that we had in December.

There was plenty to write about, and whether it's down to French music getting more press as a consequence of Daft Punk and Phoenix - not to mention Stromae - last year - there seems to be more going on than ever.

Last year France recorded a rise in sales of music, and while 2.3% might not seem much to trumpet, it reverses a trend that has been running for 11 years.

Also, significanly, seventeen of the 20 biggests sellers were francophone artists. Stromae, Daft Punk and Maître Gims the top three last year. Perhaps there's an increased confidence in the French public in their music and as a consequence a greater engagement that's being reflected in sales.

For January being traditionally a quieter than usual month, this year saw a load of new releases - and some I'm catching up with from 2013 - to get through. I aim to now have  regular review every week. So hopefully each Saturday I'll have something to say about a particular release.

February kicks off with some strong releases, with Fauve and Ghost Surfer both releasing new albums this week, and the Les Victoures de la Musique taking place in the middle of the month.

As always, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

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

Thanks again to the French Music Office in London and to the Institut francais in London for their help and encouragement  and also to the various record companies and promoters who have helped.

 Merci et à bientôt

John K