Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review - Johnny Hallyday: The Sound, The Fury

There is no shortage of Johnny Hallyday compilations in France, from lazy collections of well-known hits to
massive box sets, but the Anglophone audience has always been poorly served.

The Hallyday phenomenon remains something that's little understood here. At best he's assumed to be a poor imitation of Elvis in his younger days, a purveyor of French-translated anglo hits or an elderly merchant of ballads for women of a certain age.

This compilation shatters any prejudices about Hallyday, and shows that in his early years he was a formidable performer with a rock 'n' roll attitude that was second to none.

The Sound, The Fury on RPM records takes as its source Hallyday's early EPs recorded for Vogue records in 1960 and 1961, the work that established him to a French audience.

French record companies, engineers and producers were back then unfamiliar with rock 'n' roll - then probably seen as little more than a dance craze that was expected to last a summer or two if they were lucky - leading to a rawness of sound and and urgency that makes many of these recordings closer to the spirit of punk rock than to any glossy re-creation of early rock 'n ' roll.

The EP was the format of the era, a format that suited the release of urgent four track bulletins that didn't require the filler tracks of an LP and could pack more of a punch that a single.

While it's not a complete collection of Johnny's tracks for the Vogue EPs, to be honest we're not missing much by being spared his cover of Itsy Bitsy Petit Bikini, instead we get a carefully curated collection of all-killer rock 'n' roll.

The release avoids the more obvious tracks, the hits and the numbers that feature on French nostalgia radio stations, and instead celebrate the iconoclastic rock 'n' roll that Hallyday introduced to France. With the looks of James Dean and a musical talent that probably surpassed even Elvis - Hallyday after all writing many of the songs on this collection - he quickly became France's first rock star.

The release comes from RPM records, whose previous collection of Hallyday's work - the first for an anglophone audience - Le Roi de France focussed on his output at the end of the 60s, a remarkable period for the artist coming to terms with a rapidly changing music scene and taking it in his stride.

The Sound, The Fury captures Johnny's year zero, and makes it clear why he became the star that he remains.

Meanwhile, Johnny Hallyday is to release a new album on November 16, two years after his last studio collection L'Attente.

He's playing live in Paris a short time before then, with shows at Bercy from November 5- 9 with Eddy Mitchell and Jacques Dutronc.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Charlotte Gainsbourg: Emile Haynie - A Kiss Goodbye

A new track featuring the voice of Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The track, A Kiss Goodbye, is credited to Emile Haynie but features the French star on vocals.

Gainsbourg has been spending her time on her cinema career in recent years, and releases have been few since 2011's Stage Whisper double collection.

Since then she's released a cover of Hey Joe, as track from the film Nymphomaniac that she starred in.
Haynie is best-known as a producer, working with the likes of Lana Del Rey, Kanye West, Emeli Sandé and Eminem.

Whether this track heralds a return to music remains to be seen, but Charlotte certainly seems to be on form with this release.

Brigitte: A bouche que veux-tu

If ever there was an act that should have been around when Serge Gainsbourg was at his peak it has to be Brigitte.

The pair, Sylvie Hoarau and Aurélie Saada, celebrate a certain French retro style that wafts effortlessly around the interzone between classy and kitsch, stylish and cheesy.

It's exactly the kind of area that M. Gainsboug operated in, and its easy to imagine they would have caught the bleary eye of the vieille canaille himself, who would no doubt have suggested a collaboration or two.

The video for is  A bouche que veux-tu  a knowing nod to 70s easy listening sophistication, all sparkly glamour and slow shots, the music with its violins and disco vibe a 21st century take on the sound of a San Tropez boit de nuit circa 1978.

The new release comes three years after the duo's debut album Vous, tu m’aimes?, a collection that went platinum in France.

They have a new album that is expected to come out on November 17, and they are touring in October and November with a date in Paris at La Cigale on November 19.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains: Green Man session

A very fine session by Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains at  the Green Man Festival in Wales earlier this month.

The session features the track Summer of a Heart.

The track features on their Piano Ombre album, released earlier this year and a clear contender fo rthe best album released in 2014 so far.

The Green Man Festival also featured Mercury Rev and The Waterboys and dozens of others over a four day period.

Several other bands were recorded for sessions at the Green Man, and they'll emerge in forthcoming weeks.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Cats on Trees: Love You like a Love Song

A new video has come out from Cats on Trees, the duo whose track Siren's Call was one of the most
memorable debut singles in recent years.

The song featured this time is Love You like a Love Song,  a cover of a track originally by Selena Gomez.

It's their third video from the duo, following Siren's Call and Jimmy.

The song doesn't feature on their debut album which came out in France at the end of last year and in the UK a few months ago.

It's a very different version of the song, they've taken the original and re-made it into something very different that's got more in common with their own music than the high-gloss pop of Selina Gomez.

However, sadly the video's not available in the UK, so I'll make do with a rather nice session versionof the track from July.

Their debut album got a release in the UK a few months after France got to hear it, so I reckon the release of the video over here has been slightly delayed to allow the momentum to build up and for the UK to succumb to their charms in the same way the French audience has.

 Hopefully we'll get to see it before too long.

Caravane: Maxyme

A fine slice of modern francophone rock from Quebec's  Caravane, who although a band poised to release their debut album, have also a bit more experience than that might suggest.

The members of Caravane also perform as The Hunters,  an alternative rock act which have been active since 2006 and have released three  albums under that name, Dissent lasts in 2008, Promises in 2012 and Art Electric in 2013.

Over the years they've toured extensively, in Canada and the USA, and also playing in Europe last year.

Their forthcoming debut album as Caravane sees move into performing in French, the band members'  mother tongue.

They've absorbed some of North America's finest rock and combined it effortlessly with their local culture. Nicely done.

The debut album by Caravane, entitled Chien Noir, comes out on September the second.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Festival: Rock en Seine

Paris plays host to a  major music festival this weekend, with the three-day Rock en Seine festival attracting
thousands to the  Hauts-de-Seine department on the outskirts of the capital.

The festival is being held, as it always is, at  the Château de Saint-Cloud's park just west of Paris.

It marks the final big festival of the summer season, and is one of France's biggest music events, sharing as it does some of the acts on the bill at the Reading and Leeds festivals in the UK.

Around 65 bands are playing this year across five stages.  Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys and the Prodigy are the headline acts, along with performances by Lana Del Rey, the Hives, Portishead and dozens of others including Airbourne, Jake Bugg and Janelle Monáe.

Some key French acts are also on the bill, including François & the Atlas Mountains, Etienne de Crecy, Feu! Chatterton and  Petit Fantôme.

The festival's been around since 2003, and previous years have seen the likes of Massive Attack, Muse, Arcade Fire, Morrissey and the Pixes headline.

Last year Paul Kalkbrenner, Phoenix and System of a Down headlined each of the three nights.

Gesaffelstein and We Were Evergreen at Reading and Leeds festivals

A couple of French acts worth watching this weekend if you're along at the Reading or Leeds festivals.

Along with Blink 182, Paramore and the Arctic Monkeys,  Gesaffelstein and We Were Evergreen are on the bill at the events.

At Reading, We Were Evergreen play at the Radio One Dance stage on Friday night, and on Saturday  Gesaffelstein play there.

We Were Evergreen play at the Radio One Dance tent on Saturday at Leeds, and Gesaffelstein are at the same stage the following day.

Musically two acts that couldn't be more different, but both outstanding in their own way, and a clear indication of the current robust health of the French music scene

Thursday, 21 August 2014

M83: Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun

A new video for an old track by M83, coming ahead of the re-issue of three of their early albums next week.

Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun comes from their Before the Dawn Heals Us album, which was originally released in 2005.

Before the Dawn Heals Us, Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts from 2003  and their M83 debut album from 2001 are re-released next week.

Next month also sees two EPs of remixes and bonus material from the early albums.

Those who came to the band following the success of 2011's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming will find much to love in these earlier albums, their epic sound already present, cinematic in the best possible way.

M83 have gone on to Grammy nominations, blockbuster soundtracks and platinum sales, but these three albums show where it all started, and it started in a very fine way indeed.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Gesaffelstein remixes Phoenix's Bankrupt!

Phoenix's Bankrupt album was one of the best French rock releases of last year, and since the initial release
a number of fascinating remixes of tracks have surfaced.

My personal favourite so far has to be the version of Entertainment by Dinosaur Jr, but the likes of Ariel Pink and R Kelly have all had a hand in re-fashioning tracks from the album.

And so to a new version of the title track by French producer Gesaffelstein.

Gesaffelstein's Aleph collection featured on this blog last year, and he was one of the team involved in Kanye West's Yeezus album. He's also worked with the likes of Lana Del Rey.

Gesaffelstein's own material certainly deserves attention in its own right, with tracks like Pursuit setting, to these ears at least, a pretty high standard for modern electronica.

Meanwhile, his version of the title track of the last Phoenix album takes elements of what made both his work and Phoenix's work great, and creates something very interesting indeed.

Andrea Balency: Remix EP and Oui Love Exchange Tour

September and October  sees the  Oui Love Exchange Tour in the UK, with French acts Andrea Balency and NLF3 playing in Birmingham, Brighton, London, Edinburgh and Middlesbrough.

The announcement of the tour comes as Andrea Balency released her remix EP You'll Never Be Alone this week.

The remix EP features six versions  of the song, includung the original. It follows her Walls EP that was released in June this year, featuring the original version of the track.

She's originally from Paris, with a French-Mexican background, and is currently based in London.

Her R'n'B flavoured electronica has been attracting critical praise from a number of quarters. She's supported the Cure on a recent tour, and has played shows at events like SXSW and Sonar.

Andrea Balency's music is a sophisticated and modern pop, a distinctive voice and artistic vision, with the possibility of achieving a genuine popular success.

There are more details about the Oui Love Exhange tour on their Facebook page, and we'll have more coverage of this ahead of it taking place.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Fréro Delavega: Le chant des sirènes

A track by Fréro Delavega  from their self-titled debut album that reached number one in France.

The due, consisting of  Jérémy Frérot and Flo Delavega, first got national exposure on the third series of The Voice: la plus belle voix, the French version of the popular entertainment TV series.

They reached the quarter finals, under the supervision of Mika.

While they didn't win the series, it established them as a musical act and led to the release of their album in July, along with the single that preceded Le chant des sirènes,  Sweet Darling, reaching the top 20 in France.

The track Le chant des sirènes has al the attributes of a song that could be another significant success for the pair. It's charming and likable, and has a mellow summer mood, perfect for late summer listening.

They're touring across France extensively in October and November, with dates scheduled for 2015 as well.

Friday, 15 August 2014

David Guetta: Lovers on the Sun

A new clip by David Guetta, the French superstar DJ who takes to the stage in Glasgow this weekend.

This year's seen the return of Guetta to reclaim his title as the world's number one DJ. His single Shot Me Down with Skylar Gray - featuring a nod to Serge Gainsbourg - already giving him a significant hit.

The new track Lovers on the Sun features  Sam Martin on vocals and was produced by Avicii along with Riesterer, Tuinfort and Guetta himself.

It has been released as a track from a four-track digital EP that also featu8res Shot Me Down, Blast Off and Bad.

The video, which features Ray Liotta, is certainly up there with his previous cinematic clips for Titanium and She Wolf.

Guetta's new album, his sixth, is expected to be released this autumn. It follows on from the global phenomenon that was 2011's Nothing but the Beat, a collection that spawned a ridiculous number of singles over the various issues of the album, including Titanium, Little Bad Girl and She Wolf.

Guetta meanwhile takes to the stage of Glasgow's Bellabouston Park this weekend for the Summer Sessions. Last year the likes of Kings of Leon and Avicii played there.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Daft Punk: Human After All: The Remixes

A new(ish) release from Daft Punk as an album of remixes gets a more widespread release.

The collection of remixes of tracks from 2005's Human After All features remixes by  Sebastian, Justice, Soulwax and Vitalic. It was a originally a limited release in Japan that came out in 2006.

It appeared in Japan again earlier this year, as a 14 track version that included two extra versions of Human After All and two new takes on Technologic.

The new release features 15 tracks, the ten that originally appeared on the Japanese release, the four extra tracks and another version of Technologic, this time by Le  Knight Club, which features Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo.

The new collection is being streamed on Spotify

Black Strobe: Folsom Prison Blues

I've always had time for Black Strobe, watching them develop into something quite special, a darker edged
take on modern electronic sounds that remains well-versed in the more interesting sounds of the past.

Their version of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues is a perfect home for their sleazy electric blues sound.

While it's  undoubtedly a 21st century version, it successfully maintains the menace of Cash's original.

This version was recorded on a rooftop in Paris, a sunny and scenic setting for a dark adaptation of an already sombre song.

The track features on the band's album Godforsaken Road, which  is released on October 6.

I'm certainly looking forward to it, I've features Black Strobe and Arnaud Rebotini a couple of times previously on the blog and their material has always been first class.

I suspect this forthcoming album will continue that tradition.

The band have dates across France in September, October, November and December.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Benjamin Biolay: La Révolution

An interesting archive clip of Benjamin Biolay has surfaced, with the song La Révolution from 1997 emerging

Biolay is of course currently one of France's most successful solo artists, his 2012 Vengeance album his most recent.

He collaborated with Vanessa Paradis on her most recent album Love Songs and has previously worked with some of the biggest established names in French music including  Henri Salvador, Juliette Greco ,  Françoise Hardy and Carla Bruni.

He recently featured on the La Bande à Renaud compilation, with his interpretationof the Renaud song Deuxième génération.

The clip for  La Révolution  predates Biolay's 2001 Rose Kennedy debut album by several years.

The song La Révolution hasn't featured on his albums, and the video shows M. Biolay cutting a very different figure to the one he does now.

The track has not been made available to embed, but it can be seen here on YouTube

Zebda: Une Vie de Moins

I'm a huge fan of Zebda, and looking forward to the release of their new album Comme des Cherokees later this month.

It's also been heartening to see their single Les Petits Pas getting them the recognition they deserve.

However, given what's happening in the middle east I couldn't help but take a look back at a song they released in 2012 that seems if anything even more relevant than ever.

Une Vie de Moins is the kind of song and video that deserves to be shared widely as the murderous events unfold.

Zebda have never shied away from political engagement, and a song like this takes a serious debate to a level that a simple protest song normally would not.

I'm aware the song has its detractors, but it makes the point that most in Gaza are not terrorists, and just want things in life that we in the west take for granted.

I wrote almost two years ago: "Whether pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli, the only real position worth taking is one that values human life and promotes peace. Hopefully this song and video goes some way towards that."

We're no close to peace, but the hope that one day it might be possible is still there.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Lilly Wood & The Prick: Prayer In C

I would never have bet on Lilly Wood & The Prick getting much of a profile in the anglophone world, other than appearing in 'worst named acts' lists, but it looks like their track Prayer In C might actually give them a hit among the English speaking music buyers.

The song's been remixed by Robin Schulz, and other then a passing glimpse in the video, there's no mention of the '& the prick' part of their name lest it offend the sensitivities of the anglophone audience.

It's already been a hit across Europe, and number one in France. Quite a big success for a French electro-folk duo, even one that performs in English.

Of course, that's never any guarantee of success in the UK where 'big in Europe' tends to be understood as 'not as good as anything we produce here.' The usual suspicion of anything outside the narrow anglophone world.

 Lilly Wood & The Prick are a duo of vocalist Nili Hadida and guitarist Benjamin Cotto, and they released their debut album Invincible Friends in 2010.  This got them a Victoires de la Musique award for the best Breakthough Act.

They followed this with the album The Fight in 2012.

Prayer In C originally features on Invincible Friends, and while it was slower and more reflective than the new hit version, it is recognisably the same song.

Interesting to see how a light remixing can take a song to a whole new level of international success.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Adrien Gallo: Monokini

A new video by Adrien Gallo for the track  Monokini, a solo offering by the lead singer of BB Brunes.

The most recent album by BB Brunes was the Long Courrier collection from 2012. This reached the top ten in France.

While BB Brunes take a break, Gallo's pursuing a career as a solo artist and as a songwriter.

Gallo recently provided two songs for Vanessa Paradis's Love Songs album. He's also written for Alizée.

The new video takes its visual cues from the videos of the 80s, and pays  a convincing tribute to the days when videos were simpler and vision mixing was  a novelty.

The new track comes out ahead of the release of his solo album entitles Gemini, which comes out on October 27.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Shaka Ponk: Story O' my LF

A new video from Shaka Ponk, this time for the track Story O' my LF.

It's another track from their White Pixel Ape album, which looks set to be one of the most successful rock releases in France this year.

The album, the band's fourth was released in May this year. Previous singles from the collection include Lucky G1rl and Wanna Get Free.

The band play arena sized venues in autumn in France, Belgium and Switzerland with a show at the Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy on November 20.

Editorial: August 2014

Another great month at the Vive le Roq French music blog with the second busiest month ever for visitors,
and a good number of posts too.

Its' all been very welcome, and if you're here for the first tine thanks for dropping by,  and if you're returning, thanks again. Hopefully you'll like what we do here.

July was no doubt helped by some great releases, and French music festival scene being at its peak over the summer with major events pretty much every weekend no doubt helped.

August is a traditional holiday month in France, but we took our time off last month so there will be no let up on the site this month. Certainly there's plenty of material to catch up on that we didn't have time to cover last month if nothing else!

Meanwhile there are still  festivals taking place, including the Route du Rock on St Malo on August 14 and Rock e n Seine in Paris at the end of the month, a huge event that marks the end of the summer festival season for 2014.

As always, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be. I', 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 again to the French Music Office in London and to the Institut francais in London for their help and encouragement.

Merci et à bientôt

John K