Friday, 30 May 2014

Anaïs: DRH

Nice to see a new clip by singer Anaïs, as witty and clever as ever.

The song takes its title from the acronym for Direction des Ressources Humaines and she takes a shot at the human resources of the big businesses that dehumanise and reduce employees to disposable business assets.

Much of the video was filmed at Le Parvis of La Défense on the outskirts of Paris, the concrete business quartier. It's one of Europe's biggest purpose-built business districts, full of corporate headquarters as well as the iconic Grande Arche.

Her performance at Le Defence looks a smaller scale than the one staged there by Jean Michel Jarre in 1990, which attracted an audience of 2 million. She doesn't look like she's too bothered.

I've liked Anaïs since I came upon her The Love Album in 2008, her most recent being 2012's A l'eau de Javel which saw her re-interpret standards in her own offbeat electro style.

Her new album, her third proper studio album, to be entitled HellNo Kitty is expected to be released in September.

Yannick Noah: On Court

A new video for the song On Court by Yannick Noah, a song with an appropriate title for a former tennis

His previous single Ma Colère created a considerable stir with its dig at the Front National. While politically provocative,  Ma colère  remained an upbeat track and On Court sounds very much like a summer pop anthem.

The new song comes from his forthcoming album, a his first collection of original songs since his 2010's Frontières album. Frontières was a number one album in France, like album of covers of Bob Marley songs Hommage was in 2012.

Noah's new album, entitled Combats Ordinaires,  is out on June 2.

He's on tour in the autumn across France, and plays at the Palais de Sport in Paris for eight nights between November 5 and November 15.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

DOIST!: Until the Light takes us

A most welcome back to DOIST! whose new EP has just emerged on their Soundcloud.

It features five tracks; Wolf Temple, The Wave, Until the Light takes us, Circles and Until the Light takes us (Commuter mix).

It follows the release of their Black Church EP in April last year.

The dark electronics from the Renes duo are fiercely contemporary, but remind me at times of the likes of Heldon, French electronic guerillas from an earlier generation.

Meanwhile, the title gives a nod to the Norwegian black metal scene.  Musically, that might initially seem far removed from the musical environment of DOIST! ,  but there's little doubt that fans of extreme metal would get what they're doing.

There's a similar disregard for convention and an urge to push things further than before. Mind you,  there's also not so much murder, church burning and dubious politics, which is probably a good thing.

Benjamin Biolay: Le vol noir

A new track from Benjamin Biolay has emerged, and it is a direct response to the results of the European
elections at the weekend.

Biolay is not the first artist to have responded to the apparent rise of the Front National over the years, I linked to the track by Saez Fils de France yesterday as one example.

Benjamin Biolay said in 2012 that he said he was a militant socialist, and was a supporter of president François Hollande. He previously incurred the anger of the Front National over the title track of his last album Vengeance, in particular a reference to the death of former  FN general secretary  Jean-Pierre Stirbois.

Biolay played it down though, saying he was not an anti-FN militant. However, his new track seems to be a bit more direct.

The  new  track makes reference to the song Chant des partisan, an anthem of the French partisans during the second World War.  The use of the image of the black flight of crows over the countryside , which in the original song referred to the Nazi occupation, is a reference that won't be lost on the FN.

Biolay's last album reached number two in France in 2012.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Mick Harvey: Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants

Nice to see a re-issue of Mick Harvey's two albums of English-language versions of the songs of Serge Gainsbourg, Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants.

Harvey, probably best known for his role in The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, released the two solo albums in 1995 and 1997.

Harvey released the albums after the other band he played in,  Crime and the City Solution split. He now focuses on his solo career, having parted company with Nick Cave after playing alongside him for over 35 years.

Cave featues on the second of the two albums, with a version of Je t'aime... moi non plus (here entitled I love you...nor do I) featuring Anita Lane on Pink Elephants.

Across the two albums there's a very well selected choice of Gainsbourg's work, with sympathetic arrangements  and translations that work well in English.

I feel the two albums never really got the recognition they deserved on their release, hopefully the re-issue and live performances will give them the attention that they merit.

Moodoïd: Le Monde Möö teaser

A teaser has appeared online for the much-anticipated (here anyway!) new album by Moodoïd, to be called
Le Monde Möö.

Needless to say, it's a short but suitably eye-popping clip, hopefully giving us a flavour of whatever multi-coloured nuggets they'll deliver.

I've featured Moodoïd repeatedly on the blog, even before getting the opportunity to see them love in December, and hopfully this year will see big things for them.

Their two singles so far, Je Suis La Montagne and De Folie Pure are as fine pieces of modern psychedelic pop as you're likely to find.

Moodoïd played at the Great Escape in Brighton and at the Liverpool Sound City event earlier this month, hopefully it will not be long until we see them here again.

A single is set to come out on June 16, with the album due on August 18

Saez: Fils de France

Still coming to terms with the Euro election result. Shocking is putting it mildly.

A 25% vote for the Front National is no reflection of the France that I know.

France has racists, but it is not a racist country. The electoral victory of the FN will, if anything, encourage those fighting racism that they have more work to do, and that work will get done.

Saez wrote this song following Jean-Marie Le Pen 20% vote in the first round of the presidential elections in 2002. Chirac subsequently won the biggest landslide victory in the final round.

The result saw the Front National's apparent popularity collapse, and the party fall into decline that lasted for a decade.

While the situation today is different, the FN getting another high profile result  may yet again be followed by another collapse.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

François & The Atlas Mountains: Deezer session

A nice new session by the ever popular François & The Atlas Mountains as they continue their march to complete world domination through total musical superiority.

I know there's a possible accusation that I've featured the band a bit too frequently since the release of their Piano Ombre album. Too bad, it's a wonderful album and deserves all the credit it gets.

 François & The Atlas Mountains are a band whose time has come, and Piano Ombre shows them at the height of their powers.

I'll inevitably feature François & The Atlas Mountains again before too long, in the meantime the Deezer session presents a nice up-close and well filmed snapshot of where they are right now.

Tracks played in this session include La Verite, La Vie Dure, La Fille aux cheveux de soie and most recent single The way to the forest.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Jimmy Page: Live stream from Led Zeppelin at L'Olympia event

There's a live stream tonight from L'Olympia of a special event with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.

The event is to mark the release of the special editions of Led Zeppelin's I, II and III albums, which come out early next month.

It's being held at L'Olympia because the new special edition of Led Zeppelin I features a live recording of the legendary band at the Paris venue, recorded on October 10 1969.

The gig was recorded by French radio and broadcast on the Musicorama programme in November 2 1969. The tape was rediscovered in 2007 and re-broadcast later that year.

Bootleg versions of the set have appeared in the past, incomplete and of a lower quality, but the new version has been mastered by Jimmy Page and features the entire nine-song set.

The 1969 Europe Autumn tour was a short one for Led Zeppelin, just five dates long with concerts in Scheveningen, Rotterdam and Amsterdan preceding the Paris show, and one night in London at the Lyceum Ballroom on October 12 following it.

Later that month they would again be off to north America, starting at Carnegie Hall in New York on October 17, where they would continue to establish their reputation as one of the biggest rock bands the word's ever seen.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Shaka Ponk: Acoustic

Another fine edition of Acoustic on TV 5 Monde this week, with France's most colourful rock act Shaka
Ponk in the studio.

Of course, for a band like Shaka Ponk, their idea of acoustic is a little bit more electric than most bands, but it remains a stripped down and up-close performance.

Shaka Ponk released their most recent album White Pixel Ape in March, which featured the singles Lucky G1rl and Wanna Get Free.

 Fans will get plenty of opportunities to catch the band on a bigger stage in coming months, with three nights at the Zénith in Paris in June, festival dates across the country and beyond over the summer, as well as a show at the Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy in November.

Songs in the set they played on Acoustic include Black Listed, Last alone,  Lucky girl,  Wanna get free and On the road.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Plaza Francia: La mano encima

I mentioned Plaza Francia a few months ago, hoping that the project would be something more enduring than  the initial few live dates that were announced, and I'm pleased to see that it has since developed into an album and more live dates.

Plaza Francia is a project involving singer Catherine Ringer - former vocalist with the legendary Rita Mitsouko - with  Müller & Makaroff from  Gotan Project.

Gotan Project have been pioneers in the art of taking traditional Argentinian-influenced music into the 21st,  taking tango and combining it with latin grooves and 21st century electronica.

Plaza Francia take their name from an actual plaza in Argentina, home of the Tango.

The track comes from their album A new tango song book, which was released in France in April.

They've also recently released a video for the song La Mano Encima.

They have live dates around France this month, June, July and August.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Mylene Farmer: Timeless 2013 Film

Today sees the release of the much-anticipated - by her many fans anyway - new DVD/Blu Ray by Mylene

The live DVD Timeless 2013, which was filmed at the Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon last year, captures one of the shows on her Timeless tour, which saw her perform ten sold-out nights at Bercy in Paris, as well as shows elsewhere in the country and in Switzerland, Belgium,  Belarus and Russia.

The DVD follows the release of a 2 CD live album Timeless 2013, released in December last year. The film that has now been released got a special screening at over 200 cinemas in France, Belgium and Switzerland at the end of March.

It's released in three formats: a double DVD, a double Blu Ray or as a collector's box edition. Each has the film of the live show and a pile of bonus extras, the collector's box with a 40cm reproduction of the robot used on stage, which moves and lights up. Yours for 150 Euros.

Following the success of the tour, and the success of the subsequent success of the live album, it's probably a safe bet that this will be one of the biggest music DVD releases in France this year.

The Dø: Keep Your Lips Sealed

A new track released this week by the French/Finnish duo The Dø.

The song Keep Your Lips Sealed is an eclectic and imaginative piece of indie pop by Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy.

The Dø were formed in Paris in 2005 while the pair were involved in work for the soundtrack for the Jean Reno movie L'Empire des loups (Empire of the wolves)

After the releawe of their debut EP in 2005, they continued working on more soundtracks and  released their debut album A Mouthful in 2008.  It was to reach number one in France.

Their second album entitled Both Ways Open Jaws came out in 2011.

The new track comes from their much-anticipated forthcoming third album

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains - The Way To The Forest

A new video by the mighty Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains,  showing that a bigger budget is no hindrance
to creativity.

The song comes from their Piano Ombre album, a collection that's already on the shortlist for many people's album of the year I reckon.

The new single is certainly one of the highlights of that album, and it follows their La Vérité single, which preceded its release.

It's the kind of video that will get them some well-deserved wider exposure, and as I said earlier, I think this is the year that Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains move from the league of indie favourites to the commercially huge division.

In the meantime, a hugely enjoyable piece of rural weirdness from Frànçois and friends.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Le Prince Miiaou: Acoustic

Another edition of Acoustic, this time with a rock flavour courtesy of Le Prince Miiaou.

Le Prince Miiaou is singer Maud-Élisa Mandeau, veteran of four albums who released her debut collection Nécessité microscopique in 2007.

Previosuly she had sung in a metal act with her brother in her native  Poitou-Charentes area, and following a move to Paris to study she continued to be involved in music and developed her style.

Her most recent album Where is the Queen? was released earlier this year, preceded by the single Happy Song For Empty People which came out in November last year.

Her Acoustic session on TV5 Monde includes  the songs Happy song for empty people, Beloved knife, Suddenly,  Alaska and  Hulrik.

Gérald De Palmas: Jenny

 Gérald De Palmas has released the track Jenny as his third single from his De Palmas collection.

The album came out towards the end of last year, with the songs Serait-il ? et Je me souviens de tout released as singles so far.

While the album might not have been as big a seller as some of his previous work, it's a more rocky collection for a singer perhaps better known for his more romantic songs.

The new single is a different version of the song that originally appeared on the album, the new version in French and English

A new edition of De Palmas is expected at the end of June, with the original album expanded with out-takes.

De Palmas is in the midst of live dates across France, with a show at L'Olympia in Paris on May 27.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Maska: Prie pour moi

A new video for the track Prie pour moi by Sexion d'assaut member Maska.

The release sees him alongside his fellow Sexion d'assaut member Maitre Gims, as he now launches his solo career.

Maître Gims was one of France's biggest selling acts last year, with his debut solo album leading to a series of singles.

Maska's already released a couple of solo tracks online in recent months, and featured on the Les chroniques du Wati Boss compilation that came out last year.

 A second volume is expected in the next few months

Maska's debut solo album, to be entitled Espace temps, is expected to be released in October 2014.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Live in London: Divine Paiste and Carlos Orval Sibelius

If you find yourself in the London area, you'd do well to get along to the Paris is Burning event at the
Lexington in N1

The gig is headlined by Divine Paiste and support comes from Carlos Orval Sibelius, fresh from his performances at the Great Escape event in Brighton.

I've written repeatedly about Carlos Orval Sibelius, an act well worth seeing on any occasion, but playing on the same bill as another quality act makes for a great night's entertainment.

Divine Paiste released their debut album Crystal Waves on a Frozen Lake in April. The Tours-based band accompanied the tracks with videos, and I suspect an interesting future is ahead of them.

Tickets are £7 at the door.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Eurovision 2014 - Twin Twin: Moustache

It's the annual weekend when European music gets noticed in the UK,  and gets roundly ridiculed by the
British audience.

It's a fun event and an old-school television spectacular that has endued well into the 21st century, and while rows about the expense and the political backdrop of a continent that is certainly not without its problems at the moment may endure, it remains a worthwhile project.

For its faults, few other non-sporting events encourage so much international co-operation and cultural exchange. And few others provide as much entertainment.

This year it's being held in Copenhagen following Denmark's victory in 2013 in  Malmö, Sweden, with  Emmelie de Forests song  Only Teardrops.

France are automatically in the finals on Saturday, when the viewers across the continent will get their say on who they like best.

Twenty six countries are performing at the final, with France fourteenth on the running order.

France's entry this year might actually do quite well, it's  a funny and catchy song by Twin Twin entitled Moustache.

It doesn't take itself too seriously and to be honest I could imagine it doing pretty well in front of an international audience. Perhaps not a million miles away from Stromae, who has done rather well in the European music scene in recent times.

Here's a nice acoustic version,

Thursday, 8 May 2014

French bands at The Great Escape

Last year I featured some of the French acts playing at the Great Escape festival in Brighton, and this year the event again has a strong showing of French performers, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure. There are also some favourites of this blog on the bill.

Last year there were acts like Christine and the Queens, Concrete knives,  Melody' s Echo Chamber, We Were Evergreen and Tomorrow's World.  They've all gone on to critical and in some cases massive commercial acclaim since, so many of the acts this year may very well do the same.

The festival truly showcases some of the best new talent, and it's great to see so many French acts on the bill.

As Animals

As Animals play at the Spiegeltent on May 9 at 8.30pm, and at the Prince Albert on Saturday 10 at 1.30pm.

As Animals released their debut album earlier this year. More on the band on their website


 BRNS play at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar on Saturday May 10 at 4.30pm and at the Queen's Hotel the same day at 10.30pm.

The band relased a new single Void/My head is into you for Record Store day in France and played a few dates in the UK supporting Etches Catch up with them on Facebook

Cats on Trees

Cats on Trees play the Festival Hub on Saturday May 10 at 2.30pm and later that day at Above Audio at 7.45

I've featured this duo extensively on the blog, and a high-profile introduction to a British audience should do them well. Their website is here

Francois and the Atlas Mountains

Francois and the Atlas Mountains play at the Speigeltent on Friday May 9 at 10.15pm

Indie rock masters and strong contenders for the album of the year (well, on this blog anyway) play beneath the big tent. Keep up with the latest dispaches from the Francois and friends on Facebook

Le Vasco

Le Vasco play at Brighthelm on Thursday at 12.30am, Believe Presents showcase on Friday at 4.15pm and at the Queens Hotel the same day at 7.45pm

No strangers to this blog, hopefully Le Vasco will get some of the recognition they deserve from the UK. The latest from Le Vasco here


They play at Sticky Mike's Frog Bar on Thursday at 9.30pm and on Friday at Brighthelm at 1pm

The mighty Moodoid are another highlight of the event, their debut album much anticipated here.

Orval Carlos Sibelius 

Orval Carlos Sibelius play at the Spiegeltent on Thursday at 1.15

Their most recent is set to get a UK release shortly. More about the band here

Others on the bill worth catching include Persian Rabbit, at the Hope on Friday at 12pm and at the Bermuda Triangle on Saturday at 8.30pm.

Tristesse Contemporaire play at the Bermuda Triangle on Saturday at 1.15 and at the Blind Tiger at 12.45am

 Meanwhile, the mighty We Were Evergreen  play on Friday at the Speigeltent at 11.30pm.

Owlle: Acoustic

Another strong edition of the French music program Acoustic at the weekend, this week featuring Owlle.

The show is broadcast weekly on the TV5 Monde channel.

I first came across Owlle ahead of their show in the UK at the Great Escape festival in Brighton this time last year, and it's been great to see her gain some much- deserved recognition in the 12 months since.

Her first release was the EP Ticky Ticky at the end of 2012, and her debut album France was released in January this year, with the song Don't Lose It emerging as a clip shortly after.

The session on Acoustic features Fog, Ticky Ticky, Free, Don't lose It, Silence as well as a brief interview.

The low key arrangements of the songs in the session make for some great listening.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Yann Tiersen: Secret concert

A secret concert by Yann Tiersen was live streamed on Arte last night, and the video of the event remains
available to watch online.

The show was filmed on the island of Ouessant, off the coast of Brittany in France, where Tiersen lives.

The show took place facing the Nividic lighthouse, one of three on the rocky island.

The rugged yet also fragile landscape provided a spectacular backdrop for Tiersen's music, with an audience of perhaps a couple of dozen people at most in the crowd.

Tiersen's new album, to be entitled Infinity, is released on May 19 and he's got a number of live dates coming up including a show in London on September 26 and Paris on October 27.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Review - The Plasticines: Back to the Start

The third album by French three-piece female rock act The Plasticines came out earlier this week, and it
certainly shows a band that has changed since their last album came out.

A first listen reveals it to be a much more pop orientated work that their previous output.

They've come a long way from their garage rock roots and while they were always on the more styish and polite side of that genre, this collection is firmly filed under modern electro pop.

It's very much a glossy fashion mag perception of what rock should be, no rough edges and plenty of polish,  the guitars are there, but adding texture rather than taking front stage.

But the songs still still sound punchy even if there's nothing like the razor-sharp Pas Avec Toi or barcelona from 2009's About Love. I would like to hear the band as they used to be perform Upside Down, and their cover of Air's Sexy Boy shows a flash of their attitude.

It's not a bad album, just a  massive change from what they've done so far. While their earlier garage rock grabbed you by the lapels and insisted you paid attention, this is more like something you'd hear on an advertising campaign that you'd grow to like with repeated listening.

But in a music scene where Haim are critically lauded and commercially huge, there's certainly a place for The Plastiscines.

Nolwenn Leroy sings Breton anthem at the Stade de France

A major football match in France takes place today, with the Coupe de France final between Guingamp and Stade Rennais.

I'm not usually interested in football, but an all-Breton final of a national game is certainly something that I like, but the main reason that it gets my attention is that Nolwenn Leroy is to perform the Breton national anthem at the Stade de France before the game.

Of course, there will also be a rendition of the Marseillaise, but the Breton singer will take to the stage before kick off to sing Bro gozh ma zadoù.

The song featured on her 2010 Bretonne album, a number one seller in France which no doubt did much to raise the profile of Breton music.

Nolwen Leroy was initially best known as the winner of the second series of Star Academ in France, releasing her debut album in 2003 following her victory. She's since gone on to be one of France's most high profile female singers, Bretonne securing her status and her subsequent Ô Filles de l'Eau in 2012 building on its predecessor's success.

It's not the first time this kind of situation has arisen, with Alan Stivell performing the song before the involving the same two clubs at the Stade de France in 2009.

The two singers, probably the two best known Breton musicians,  have performed the song together. While Stivell has had a long career as a pioneer of Breton music, there's little denying that Leroy has done much to bring it to a new generation.

Whatever the score at the end of 90 minutes, it will be a memorable day for Brittany.


Here's some video of the performance at the Stade de France:

Bro gozh ma zadou by OuestFranceFR

Friday, 2 May 2014

Amandine Bourgeoise: Ma Gueule

A video for the song Ma Gueule, the first single to be released from the new album by Amandine

The track comes from the singer's third album Au Masculin, which sees her re-interpret songs made famous by male singers.

Her first release from the collection is her interesting interpretation of one of Johnny Hallyday's best-know tracks.

Other tracks on the collection include Stromae's Alors On Danse and Serge Gainsbourg's Eau a la Bouche.

Bourgeoise represented France at the Eurovision song Contest last year with the song l'enfer et moi.

She established herself by winning the sixth series of Nouvelle Star, the French version of the TV series Pop Idol, in 2008 and since then has released two albums.

She also participated in the two Géneration Goldman collections that were immense sellers in France over the past few years.

The new album is due to be released next week.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Christine and the Queens: Saint Claude

A new video by Christine and the Queens, this time for the track Saint Claude.

The singer from Nantes, known to family and friends as Héloïse Letissier, has gone from a little-known phenomenon to one of France's most hotly-tipped acts.

Her previous released tracks, including The Loving Cup and Nuit 17 à 52 have given her the kind of attention that led to an appearance at the Victoires de la Musique awards in Paris in February and a nomination as the best breakthrough artist.

Even though she did not win, 2014 looks like a year that will see her develop into one of France's most significant artists.

She's got a number of live dates coming up, including a show at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris on June 18 and festival gigs at Solidays, Les Francofolies and Les Vielles Charrues.

The debut album by Christine and the Queens, entitled Chaleur humaine, is to be released on June 2.

Editorial: May 2014

We're into May and things are busy here as usual. This months sees the annual fun of the Eurovision Song
Contest, but more improtantly there are the beginings of the festival season, not forgetting a number of new releases scheduled for the next few weeks.

A number of great French acts are playing gigs in the UK thsi month, including Moodoid and Orval Carlos Sibelius, both acts I've raved about on this blog. Not forgetting Le Vasco, who are also playing over here.

Both Liverpool's Sound City and Brighton's Great Escape events have a great French presence, and if you are in either areas there are some great acts worth catching.

Also on the road across the UK are We Were Evergreen, who release their long-awaited debut album this 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