Saturday, 27 December 2014

Playlist: Bureau Export Christmas 2014

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

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

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


Friday, 26 December 2014

La Chorale des Montagnes: Mon Beau Sapin

Another Chistmas song? French Style? Why not!

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

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

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

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Joyeux Noel: Garou - Xmas Blues Medley 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Charles Trenet: Chanson pour Noël

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

The song was originally released in 1956.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mireille Mathieu: Noël d'Aubervillier

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

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

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

Monday, 22 December 2014

Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014: Video highlights

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

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

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

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

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





Gaspard Royant: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Playlist: Disques Enterprise #CoolRaoul

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

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

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

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

Review: Magma - Riah Sahiltaahk

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

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

In short,  it's complicated...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 19 December 2014

Report: Bars en Trans, Rennes 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christine and the Queens: Christine

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the grand unveiling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Les Trans Musicales 2014 playback: Lizzo and I Me Mine

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

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

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

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

Lizzo aux Transmusicales 2014 - Fip Session Live by Fipradio

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

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

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

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

Shy'm: L'effet de serre

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Les Trans Musicales 2014 playback: Grand Blanc

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

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

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

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

You'll probably be nodding in agreement after watching.


Indochine: Le fond de l'air est rouge

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 12 December 2014

Casseurs Flowters: Des histoires à raconter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tal and Corneille: Cheek to Cheek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report: Les Trans Musicales de Rennes 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 5 December 2014

Trans Musicales preview: The Avener

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Darjeeling Speech

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Bison Bisou

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

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

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

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

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Fawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Band Aid 30: Noël est là.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 No one can deny that has been worthwhile.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Main Square festival 2015

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

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

Pharrell Williams will also be performing

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

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

The event has been running since 2004

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

Monday, 1 December 2014

Trans Musicales 2014 preview: Gandi Lake

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

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

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

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

Editorial: December 2014

Well, November was quite a month!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merci et à bientôt

John K