Monday, 30 June 2014

Stromae at Glastonbury 2014

This weekend saw the Glastonbury Festival take place in Somerset in England, probably the UK's most significant annual music event.

While the likes of headliners Kasabian, Arcade Fire and Metallica get a huge amount of exposure, there are bands playing on different stages throughout the weekend, and while there is a crowd of 135,000 at the event, the showcase nature of the event means a set at Glastonbury can mean a big step up for any act, wherever they are on the bill.

While not troubling the BBC coverage of the event,  watching it this weekend you'd be mistaken for thinking only the Black Keys, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding performed, Stromae took to the stage. For many it would be their first taste of the artist who is one of the biggest in Europe at the moment, and I'm sure he left with many more admirers.

His performance comes just after Stromae unveiled a new video, this time for the track Ta fête, which has a theme that coincides well with the World Cup, albeit taking a  somewhat different take on the event.

While Racine carrée might have come out a year ago, there's still an audience to be won over by its charms, and hopefully a performance at Glastonbury will help convince an English-speaking audience of the value of music outside their linguistic comfort zone.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Indochine at the Stade de France

Indochine take to the stage of the Stade de France tonight for the first of two if the biggest shows of their
Black City Tour.

They're no strangers to the national stadium, selling it out in 2010 when they became the first band to play at the venue, following the release of their La République des Meteors album.

That performance was documented on their Putain de Stade DVD.

With the first show tonight sold out, the band confirmed a second night on Saturday June 28.

2012's Black CIty Parade album gave the band a considerable boost both commercially and critically, and while the band have been probably France's biggest selling band, they showed beyond any doubt that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Indochine play London on July 14 and at the Les Vielles Charrues festival in Brittany on July 17.

Solidays festival

The Solidays festival gets underway in Paris, at Longchamps, with three days of some of the best live acts in  France and beyond.

The first day sees Shaka Ponk, Fauve and M on the bill, along with La Rue Ketanou, Breton, Vitalic and plenty of others.

June 28 sees Cats on Trees, Gesaffelstein and Rodrigo y Gabriela playing.Franz Ferdinand and We Were Evergreen also take to the stage

 The third day sees more acts that are familiar to this blog performing, with Christine and the Queens, Vanessa Paradis and Skip the Use, along with Woodkid, FFF, Girls in Hawaii and Yuksek.

Solidays has been since its inception an event that has been politically engaged, specifically  in the fight against Aids, especially in Africa. It has raised millions of Euros to help the cause since it was first held in 1999, and the event this year takes its inspiration from Nelson Mandela.

While as an event, it's certainly a worthy one, it's also got a line-up that cannot fail to impress.

Solidays 2014 - Spot TV by solidays

Festival: La Ferme Electrique

A quick heads up for La Ferme Electrique, an interesting little event taking place near Paris on July 4 and 5.

It's a small scale festival in Tournan-en-Brie at the Ferme du Plateau in Seine et Marne - around 20 minutes outside Paris - and over two nights there are around 22 concerts and other events, including film shows and art installations.

 It's the fifth time that the event has been held, and it aims to be a more intimate and involved event, on a  smaller scale than the huge festivals across France and elsewhere, with a   do-it-yourself attitude to encourage co-operation and creativity.

Despite is small scale, the festival still has an impressive bill, featuring  Orval Carlos Sibelius, Italy's Movie Star Junkies, Jessica 93 , and original French new-wave innovator Charles de Goal.

An interesting line-up, and hopefully a great event. More details on their website

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Dø: Album trailer

More news emerging from The Dø about their forthcoming activity following the release of their Keep Your Lips Sealed single.

The duo of Olivia Merilahti and Dan Levy are releasing a new album in the autumn. The release will be accompanied by a film directed by Reynald Gresset.

It will be their third album, following A Mouthful - their debut - which came out in 2008 and Both Ways Open Jaws from 2011.

Live dates are also on the horizon, with shows in France, Germany Belgium and a show in the UK  across October, November and December.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Christophe: Acoustic

An outstanding performance on Acoustic, the weekly music programme on French TV channel TV5Monde,  by Christophe, a French performer who quite rightly merits being described as legendary.

A performer who first came to prominence in the 1960s, his career has seen troughs and peaks since, with lengthy times away from the music scene.

Last year saw the release of the album Paradis retrouvé, and this year the collection entitled Intime was released at the end of March.

Like the Acoustic performance, it features stripped-down versionso fsome of his best known songs.

Songs included in the performance are Les paradis perdus,  Les mots bleus, Les marionnettes, Le beau bizarre and Aline.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Live in London: Vanessa Paradis

An outing in London tonight for Vanessa Paradis, playing at the Forum as part of the extensive tour that
follows the relase of her Love Songs album last year.

It's a rare UK show for the singer, although she's still better known here as the former partner of Johnny Depp, fashion icon and singer of Joe Le Taxi in the 80s than for any of her recent musical work.

Love songs was given a good reception both critically and commercially, the album a  double LP produced by Benjamin Biolay.

Its three singles. Love Song, Mi Amor and Les espaces et les sentiments getting considerable attention, the album reaching number one in France.

She's got more live dates over the coming weeks, including her first show in Spain on June 26, playing at the Solidays festival in Paris on June 29.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Thylacine: Sand

A video for the track Sand, an almighty piece of modern French electro by Thylacine.

Thylacine is  a project by William Rezé from Angers, who previously released the tracks No Mic Stand and Pleasure.

The track comes from a second EP, entitled Blend, to be released on June 23.

I reckon this track is as influenced by modern classical music as it is by anything going on in a nightclub.

Thylacine play at the Point Ephémère in Paris on June  26 .

Louis Delort & The Sheperds: Outre-Manche

A French artist singing the praises of British musical culture is probably custom-made for this blog, so I
could't ignore the song  Outre-Manche by Louis Delort & The Sheperds.

Namechecks for the Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin and John Lennon are all in order for the tasteful slice of folky pop rock.

Louis Delort was a finalist on the first season of The Voice in France. Since then he played in the musical  Les Amants de la Bastille.

The track comes from the trio's debut album. A release date's has not yet been set for its release, but looks well worth waiting for.

Now all it takes is for the song to actually get played in the radio in the UK, although given the usual reticence about playing anything beyond the anglo-saxon music world I fear we might be waiting a while.

More's the pity.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Moodoid: Je suis la montagne session

I've always got the time for a bit of Moodoid, and here's a nice acoustic version of Je suis la montagne.

It was recorded for Le Mouv' in Montreal, where the band are playing at the moment.

Moodoid have just released their new single, a double A-sided affair La Lune and Les Chemins de Traverse.

If the concept of a double A-side makes any sense with a digital release, of course.

Hopefully a vinyl edition isn't far away.

Their debut album Le Monde Möö is expected out on August 18.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Von Pariahs: Skywalking

A very cool video indeed for the track Skywalking by  Von Pariahs.

The track comes from the band's debut album Hidden Tensions that was released towards the end of last year.

The Von Pariahs album is a punchy and energetic collection, imaginative and stylish and this song is a great example of their work.

Hopefully the video will get a few more ears investigating the album, because it certainly deserves to be widely heard.

To these eyes that looks like a Boeing 727 rising from the ruins, but that's probably just my residual pre-teenage planespotter at large.

Still, whatever type of plane it is, Von Pariahs are flying first class and it looks like a long haul flight ahead of them.

They've got some festival dates in France and Switzerland over the summer including the Vieilles Charrues in Carhaix on July 20.

Merzhin: L'Éclaireur

I've always had plenty of time for Breton indie rock band Merzhin, and it's great to see s new video for the
track L'Éclaireur

Merzhin are an act who manage to produce a very decent contemporary indie rock, and effortlessly infuse it with a Breton flavour.

A careful listen to this track reveals the bombarde - a traditional Breton instrument - being played, but it's a million miles away from folk rock.

They've always been an impressive live act, and it's nice to see a video doing them justice.

The track comes from their Des heures a la Seconds album, which came out in March and is being released on vinyl on June 23.

Friday, 13 June 2014

We Were Evergreen: Best Thing

A new video by We Were Evergreen, a band who are rapidly becoming France's finest indie pop export this

The song Best Thing comes from their debut album that came out in May this year. It's been an album that's been a long time coming, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Hopefully their hard work over the years establishing themselves as a live act will pay off and this year we'll see them make a proper commercial breakthrough, following the likes of Francois and the Atlas Mountains into the ears and hearts of a UK audience.

We WereEvergreen have a number of festival dates around the UK over the summer, starting with Glastonbury at the end of this month, also playing at Solidays on June 28 in Paris and at the Café de la Danse in Paris on September 19.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

France in the World Cup: Football anthems

There's no official French anthem for the World Cup this year. Perhaps its a pity, it adds something to the
excitement of the event, but perhaps there's less of a mood for celebrating giving how narrowly France qualified for the finals this time.

Still, it means there's an opportunity for a 12th man to come up with something to unite the terraces and outpace any opponents hindered by artistic merit or good taste. If there's anyone capable to stepping up to the penalty spot and putting it in the back of the net, it's Sébastien Patoche.

 It seems a long time since Zidane and the team paraded the cup in Paris in 1998.

That year the France team adopted a version of the Gloria Gaynor hit I will Survive as their song. It was a new version by Hermes House Band. High energy disco might seem a puzzling choice for a football team, but it didn't hold them back from an historic victory.

I Will Survive - Hermes House Band by iamseb

The following World Cup in 2002 saw a more successful song, even if the French team were not. Tous Ensemble by Johnny Hallyday gave France's Rocker National a number one song, even in Les Bleus didn't actually manage to score a goal in their entire - short - time in Korea and Japan.

There was no official anthem last time, but Bleu, blanc, rouge by Omar and Fred was as close as it got. Not the best song, and certainly not the best campaign by France. Their visit to South Africa was a short one.

Earlier years saw mixed fortune for the French national team, both on the field and in the recording studios.
Mexico 1986 saw Viva les Bleus lead the team to third position, beaten by West Germany in the semi finals.

1982 saw France playing in Spain, with the song Ollé la France by Denise Fabre helping the team into fourth place. Again they fell to West Germany in the semi finals, probably hindered by a song that sounds like a 70s Eurovision leftover keeping their morale up.

Denise Fabre - Ollé la France by gcolombat

Still, in 1978 Jean-Pierre Foucault and Léon Orlandi led the cheerleading, one of them handling what looks suspiciously like a rugby ball in the video. At least these days the singers seem to know what sport's actually being played on the field.

Meanwhile, the Spotify playlists of individual players have been reported on Les Inrocks,  with the likes of Booba and Maitre Gims featuring heavily. Most of the players seem to like their rap and r'n'b. Hats off to Mickael Landreau though for going against type to include Tom O'Dell and Céline Dion.

I am slightly surprised their playlists weren't on Deezer, it being a French company and all, you'd think it was an open goal of an opportunity for them.

But if there is a contender for the best non-official anthem for French-based football it probably should be  Vaudeville Smash's Zinedine Zidane. It features a voice over by Australian poet Les Murray , an internationally understandable lyric - mostly just a list of footballer's names - and a salute to arguably France's finest ever player.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sebastien Tellier: Aller vers le soleil

With just days until the eyes of the world are on Brazil, Sébastien Tellier continues his adventures with the country with the track Aller vers le soleil.

It's an appropriately laid back summer sound, with the video packed with images of endless sands, Bazilian modernist architecture and Tellier travelling through the landscape.

It follows the release of the track Ma Calypso, and l'adulte, these tracks also showing signs of his tropical affectation.

There's something of Alejandro Jodorowsky in the video. with its psychedelic strangeness of the landscape and Tellier's shamanistic appearance in the video.

I suspect the track will feature on many a TV travelogue report on Brazil this summer.

His new album L'Aventura was released in May in France, and is due to be released internationally on July 14.

Amandine Bourgeois: Acoustic session

A new session on Acoustic, the music show on TV5Monde at the weekend, this time featuring Amandine

The session follows the release of her album Au Masculin, a collection of covers of songs originally made famous by male artists like Gainsbourg or Johnny Hallyday.

It's her third album from the former Nouvelle Star winner, and her first since she represented France at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2013. She might not have won, but she certainly did much better than this year's French entry.

The session features a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's L'eau a la bouche, Hallyday's Ma Gueule, Julien Clerc's Utile and Florent Pagny's Savoir Aimer and Alain Souchon's La Ballade de Jim.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Orval Carlos Sibelius: Bowlegs session

Starting the week in fine form with a video of a new session on Bowlegs Music by Orval Carlos Sibelius, for the track Desintegraçao.

Desintegraçao features on the new Orval Carlos Sibelius album Super Forma, which got a UK release earlier this month.

He also played in the UK in May, with shows at Liverpool's Sound city and Brighton's Great Escape events.

Hopefully we'll see them over here again before too long.

In the meantime there are a few dates at the end of June and in July in Belgium and France, and he's playing in Paris on June 20 and July 6.

Renaud: La bande à Renaud

Renaud has become the latest French performer to have his  work re-interpreted by a new generation of artists on an album.

The singer might not have released an album since 2009's Molly Malone, but the new La bande à Renaud collection sees singers like Nolwenn Leroy, Coeur de Pirate and Raphaël and  Carla Bruni pay tribute by covering his songs.

Renaud is a French artist who achieved a certain amount of notorierty in the UK in the 1980s with his song Miss Maggie, concerning Margaret Thatcher who was then at the peak of her powers.

His most recent release was a complete collection box set in 2012.

In previous years, the Génération Goldman collections showcasing the work of  Jean-Jacques Goldman were among the biggest selling albums in France, both topping the charts in France.

 Obviously there are hopes that the same kind of success will come to this new collection. The strength of Renaud's material will go some way to make that a certainty.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Christine and The Queens: Deezer Session

A really nice new Deezer session by Christine and The Queens, with a track or two from their  Chaleur Humaine debut album, released earlier this week.

The album is probably going to be one of this year's most significant releases, she's gone from a little-known but recommended act to a widely recognised artist in the space of just over a year, with a  nomination for best breakthrough artist at this year's Victoires de la Musique awards along the way.

I suspect over the next 12 months we'lls ee Christine and the Queens gather even more recognition on the back of the album.

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

Booba: OKLM

A single straight in at number one in the French charts this week, with Booba's track OKLM.

The charts in France have been fairly static in recent months, with Pharell Williams dominating the number one position for a long period of time, Milky Chance subsequently taking the top position.

But a new release from Booba, probably France's most popular solo rapper, is bound to be a big event, His last album Futur in 2012 went platinum, its predecessior 2010s Lunatic was double platinum.

He released a number of tracks as singles last year, most from the Futur 2.0 issue of the Futur album which expanded the collection to two discs with eight new tracks.

OKLM comes from Booba's  forthcoming new album, due out towards the end of the year.

D-Day anniversary - Michel Sardou: Les Ricains

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, an event that was to be a turning point not only in
the history of France, but for the whole of Europe and beyond.

Elderly men from France, the UK and the USA will be gathering on beaches in Normandy to remember not only the bravery of those who survived, but the sacrifices made by those who did not.

One song that recalled the event in a particularly interesting way was the 1967 hit for Michel Sardou, Les Ricains.

The title, which would translate into English as 'The Yanks', makes the simple case that if it wasn't for the Americans, the French would all be in Germany, speaking who knows what and saluting who knows.

It recalls the sacrifices made by American soldiers, who many knowing no-one in France or little about the country, died on its beaches to defend its freedom.

The song was a hit in 1967, but incurred the anger of Charles De Gaulle, who wanted it to be removed from broadcast on account of it going against the official historical narrative that put France at the centre of it regaining its freedom at the end of the war. It also came as anti-American feeling in France was high due to the Vietman war and France's attitude towards  NATO at the time.

Time has passed since 1944. France, America, the UK and Germany too are very different places, living in a very different world. But the peace we enjoy now in Europe was very much made by those old men gathered on the beaches in France today, and by the young men that died there.

Si les ricains n'étaient pas là - Michel Sardou by phbarrau

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Go North Festival: Le Prince Miiaou and Griefjoy

Tonight sees the Go North festival kick off in Inverness in Scotland, a two-day event for the creative industries in the country and elsewhere, giving a rare -platform to a couple of French acts.

There are talks and workshops, and training opportunities, and also a number of bands playing, at venues across the city, including a few of interest to this blog.

French acts Griefjoy and Le Prince Miiaou play at the Mad Hatters  venue tonight, and if you are anywhere near the city it's a great opportunity to catch two very strong French acts.

Griefjoy released their debut album to critical acclaim last year. A new edition of it came out earlier this year.

They've been playing live extensively in support of the album and the show in Inverness will be a great opportunity of the highland capital to get a taste of their epic electro pop.

I mentioned  Le Prince Miiaou when she played a session for Acoustic last month on TV5Monde off the back of the release of her fourth album Where is the Queen? , which came out earlier this year.

As I mentioned earlier, featuring a French artist playing at a Scottish event is a far too infequent occurance. Hopefully we'll see more in the future

Zebda: Les Petits Pas

A new clip by Zebda, for the track Les Petits Pas, a number with a retro funk flavour that's right up to date.

The band have been working with Yarol Poupaud, of French funk fiends FFF. He's also an experienced producer and has worked with a huge number of French acts, including recently working with Johnny Hallyday as lead guitarist and musical director for his Born Rocker and Jamais Seul tours.

Zebda's comeback two years ago with their album Second tour exceeded most people's expectations, reaching the top three in France.

The band had taken a pause for almost a decade before its release, having been founded in the 80s and enjoying huge success in the 1990s, particularly with their 1998 Essence Ordinaire album.

The band have never shied away from being politically engaged, their last album including the song Une vie de moins which had a video that  led to a row in its depiction of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

But Zebda don't let politics get in the way of a great tune, and in a France currently facing more than its share of political tensions, some music that can help bridge divides is more than welcome.

The new track comes ahead of an album to be entitled Comme des Cherokees, which is  expected out in August 25.

But before that they've got a number of live dates including festivals aroudn France and elsewhere.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Editorial: June 2014

We're fully into summer now, and hopefully enjoying some warmer weather and some cool sounds.

Last month was a busy one on the blog, with not only some great releases to cover, but some very encouraging visitor figures. Merci to everyone who has visited over the past few weeks, hope you like what you found and hopefully see you again.

It was our second busiest ever month for visitors, pipped only by the number of visitors we had in February. It's hugely encouraging to see the number of visits growing in recent months.

June of course sees festival season come into full swing, with events across France throughout the summer. Hopefully I can get some of the flavour of these on this blog.

There were some spectacular releases last month, including those by We Were Evergreen and Yann Tiersen, and hopefully this month will see a few more interesting items coming onto the shelves.

No glory for France at the Eurovision Song Contest in May though, in fact their worst showing ever with only two points and last place for Twin Twin with moustache. I've always thought of Eurovision as a strange parallel universe for music, so no real worries there. It was an entertaining night's telly, and it's always worth remembering that France's greatest victory in Eurovision with France Gall and Serge Gainsbourg was actually for Luxembourg...

This month the results of the European elections showed France in a bad light. But the France I love isn't 25% racist and ignorant, and good people will be doing work to highlight that. Meanwhile, artists will be producing work that brings people together, regardless of whatever artificially created boundaries opportunistic politicians point to. Long may this continue.

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 been in touch with suggestions for inclusion on the site.

Merci et à bientôt

John K