Friday, 25 December 2015

Gaspard Royant: Christmas is Back in Town

Kick back and relax, time to take it easy for Christmas Day.

But not without a tune or two to mark the occasion, so nice to hear  a great one by the ever-reliable Gaspard Royant, the finest exponent of Doo Wop Garage 'n' Roll from Haute Savoie,  with the track Christmas is Back in Town.

It follows his Christmas 2014 near hit Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

2016 sees Gaspard working on his second album, the follow up to the mighty 10 Hits Wonder collection, with former Orange Juice and all round Scottish music legend Edwyn Collins.

Another thing to look forward to in 2016 for sure.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Mireille Mathieu: Colombe de Noel

Proper old school festive chanson with Mireille Mathieu performing Colombe de Noel on C à vous earlier this month.

Mireille Mathieu, now 69, has had a career that began in the early 1960s, enjoying massive success from the mid 60s onwards.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Michel Polnareff: L'Homme en Rouge

A Christmas song from the legendary Michel Polnareff, ahead of a year that sees him touring  and
releasing a new album.

It will be his first since 1990's Kama Sutra album. Since then he's made occasional return to performing,  his profile sustained by cover versions and celebrity magazine coverage.

He's sold over three million albums, and his new collection is one of 2016's most anticipated releases.

Typical for Polnareff, the song  L'Homme en Rouge is an anti-Christmas song. And probably one of the most memorable Xmas releases in recent years.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Vive le Roq Album of the year 2015

A look at French music in 2015 cannot fail to take into account the tragedies that unfold in Paris. Discussing the events in the context of a music blog seems both inapproriate but unavoidable, such was the shadow cast.

To ignore it would be grossly insensitive, but to mention it a crass appropriation of other people's sorrow.

But I've always been interested in French music, and that is what will focus on here. I'll leave the geopolitics to others, but the events that unfolded this year will be felt in the French music world for years to come.

In terms of what else happened in music in 2015,  there might not have been a massive international breakthrough like Daft Punk, but the acts at the current forefront of the French scene have continued to release strong new material.

Christine and the Queens released their debut album in the USA with new songs including the wonderful Jonathan.

Stromae's Quand c'est was one of the year's most remarkable videos, as the success of his 2013 Racine Carrée collection saw him embark on adventures in North America and Africa.

Respectable releases too from stars of previous generations, with new material from Mylene Farmer, Johnny Hallyday and Jean-Michel Jarre all showing that established artists can still have something to offer.

But focussing on five of the best releases of 2015 brings some other acts to mind.

Fauve's Vieux Frères, Partie 2 was the release that saw the act fully deliver on the promise of their debut. As good as that release was, it never quite hit the spot for me as much as I felt it should. No reservations about its follow up whatsoever, and with Les Hautes Lumières  simply one of the best French language songs of recent years.

 A more electronic proposition came from Rone, with the album Creatures. It's a mature and confident album, taking modern electronic music somewhere where it is more cerebral, but remains accessible at the same time.

 Who would have expected an album that saw Grand Corps Malade with not only  Charles Aznavour and also include the return or Renaud? GCM's Il nous restera ça album took seemingly disparate elements in its stride,  and raised the bar when it comes to spoken word performance.

 An album I thouroughly enjoyed was the debut by Blind Digital Citizen, Premières vies, which came out in March. It continues the trend of France producing wonderful genre defying modern rock acts, somewhere between rock, electro and psychedelic with a nod to chanson.

But if an album of the year must be chosen, unquestionably it came from Feu! Chatterton in the form of their Ici le jour (a tout enseveli) collection.

The Paris-based five piece have this year moved from critical acclaim to becoming one of the country's most significant acts. Their influences run deep, from 18th Century poetry, 19th century painters and Alain Bashung , jazz, and indie rock, but the songs on their album sound like no one else.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Yann Tiersen: Porz Goret

A new video by Yann Tiersen, for the track
Porz Goret which features in his new book of piano music.

His new collection  - entitle Eusa - was released in this format rather than as a recording. It features the music for ten new pieces.

The clip was recorded on the island of Ouessant off Brittany, where Tiersen lives.

His most recent album Infinity was released a year ago.

Tiersen plays two nights at The Barbican in London in May 2016.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Zaz: Tous les cris les SOS

A new track by Zaz, with a cover of the song Tous les cris les SOS originally by Daniel Balavoine.

The track comes from a tribute album  entitled Balavoine(s) that sees a variety of artists re-interpret his works.

It includes Raphaël,  Nolwenn Leroy, Christophe, Florent Pagny and  Jenifer.

The tribute album format has been particularly successful in France in recent years,  with the La Bande à Renaud and Géneration Goldman collections both massive sellers that produced successful second volumes.

The interest in coincides with the 30th anniversary of his death, Balavoine dying in a helicopter crash in January 1986.

TF1 broadcasts a programme dedicated to Daniel Balavoine recorded at the Zénith in Paris on January 9 next year.

Meanwhile, France 3 has a programme on December 30 dedicated to Balavoine featuring contributions from La Grande Sophie, Christine and the Queen and  Orelsan.

 Balavoine(s) is released on January 8 2016.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Mika: Je Chante

A cover of a Charles Trenet song by Mika for a new advert for the SNCF.

The advert is a cornerstone of a massive publicity campaign for the French railways, in particular their TGV service.

Mika says that when the project was suggested, he immediately said yes because when he was working with Michel Legrand on a cover of Vive le Vent, Legrand introduced him to the music of Trenet and he loved Je Chante, a song he describes as having the kind of alchemy he tries to find in his own songs.

The song was originally written in 1937, as the title track for a musical film.

Mika has become a French artist by adoption, the new video placing him firmly in the French landscape.

Mika's most recent album No Place in Heaven was released in June.

A fuller version of the video can be seen on the SNCF website 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Selah Sue: Fear Nothing

A new video by Selah Sue, with the track Fear Nothing getting a big screen cinematic treatment.

The track come from her second album, entitled Reason, which came out earlier this year. It follows the release of the tracks  Alone and I Won't Go For More  as singles.

 She has recently taken to Facebook to discuss her fight with mental health issues, a brave move for someone in the public eye.

She's just finished a tour, and has a number of dates scheduled for next year.

Meanwhile, she has been nominated for three major awards in her native Belgium, as best female artist, best pop and best album categories for the Mia's Awards.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Vieilles Charrues artists unveiled

Some of the headline acts for next summer's Vieilles Charrues festival have been unveiled, with some  big names in French music playing, including Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy  and Michel Polnareff.

Polnareff is about to release his first album in 25 years, and has a huge number of live dates scheduled for next year.

Souchon and Voulzy are still riding high on the popularity of their recent collaborative album, and released the track Bad Boys as a new single.

Meanwhile, the Téléphone reformation under the name Les Insus are headliners on the first night.

But it is not just veteran acts, with The Avener - producer and DJ who not only hit it big with his Wanderings of The Avener album but also produced recent work by Mylene Farmer - set to play.

Vieilles Charrues attracted 250,000 people to Carhaix in Brittany last year and the vent has gronw to be one of France's key music events.

Other artists who have signed up for the event include Louise Attaque, The Libertines, Lou Doillon, Major Lazer and Mickey 3d ,Nekfeu and Editors.

More names will be added as the event gets closer.

2016 will be the 25th birthday of the Vieilles Charrues festival, and so far an interesting event looks on the cards.

Vieilles Charrues takes place on July 14-17 2016.

Tame Impala: Let It Happen (Deezer session)

A Deezer session clip by Tame Impala, featuring the band performing Let It Happen in front of one
of the more interesting landmarks in Paris.

The band performs in front of the Géode building is in Parc de la Vilette, the park that is also home to  the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie as well ast the Le Zénith music venue and the Grande halle de la Villette.

The Géode, which is home to an Imax cinema, is a huge silver sphere that sits in the strange and otherworldly landscape of the park which is full of strange and interesting artwork and architecture.

Tame Impala play the Zénith in Paris on January 31.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Grand Blanc: Surprise Party (Clip)

A new video by the mighty Grand Blanc for the track Surprise Party, regular favourites of this blog,  with a clip emerging for their new track Surprise Party.

The track emerged at the end of last month, living up to the expectations that have been raised by the band's earlier releases.

The clip meanwhile displays the same kind of cinematic awareness that they've employed previously.

Surprise Party will feature on the band's debut album,  Mémoires Vives, which is expected to be released on February 19 next year.

Madonna in Paris

An unusual performance by Madonna in Paris, with one of the biggest music stars in the world choosing to perform a couple of acoustic numbers at Place de la République in tribute to the victims of last month's attacks.

She had just played a show at Bercy before appearing in the city centre, performing impromptu acoustic versions of songs including Like a Prayer and John Lennon's  Image.

Those with her included, according to reports, film maker Agnes Varda and Woodkid.

It was a touching and unexpected gesture from a star who you would not expected to seen on the streets of Paris.

But it is the kind of gesture that goes s long way in these troubled times.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy: Bad Boys

A new clip from Alain Souchon and Laurent Voulzy for the track Bad Boys.

It's a surprisingly modern video from two of the elder statesmen of chanson, whose first album together was issued in November 2014.

Three singles have already been issued, and the album been met with considerable commercial success in France

A new edition of the collection featuring a DVD has recently been released.

They've just played a run of shows at the Zénith in Paris and have live shows scheduled until the end of January.

Nicolas Godin: Bach Off (La Blogothèque session)

Wonderful video for the track Bach Off by Nicolas Godin, continuing the series of short music performance films made for La Blogothèque.

The video was shot at Terminal 3 of Orly Ouest airport in Paris and it makes an appropriately atmospheric background for the track.

Godin is of course best known as one half of Air, the act that pretty much defined modern French music from the late 90s.

He released his first solo album, entitled Contrepoint, at the end of September.

Indochine: Live at Le Trianon

A special gig tonight at Le Trianon in Paris, as Indochine mark the release of their new live collection
 Black City Concert with an intimate show.

The live album/DVD/Blu Ray/Box Set was recorded in June last year at the band's two show at the Stade de France, tonight sees them take to the stage of the historic theatre with a capacity of just over 1,000.

Indochine toured extensively following the release of  Black City Parade in 2013. There were three legs of the tour from February 2013 until June 2014, with sold-out shows at arenas throughout France and beyond. It was followed festival dates that summer including a show in London.

This year Indochine have played sold-out club shows at eight European cities.

A live album Black City Tour, documenting their gigs in Brussels on March 2014 came out in December last year in  2CD, DVD and Blu Ray versions.

However the new release should be a pretty different affair.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Mylène Farmer on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

A high-profile appearance by Mylène Farmer in the USA, as she appeared with Sting on the Tonight
Show with Jimmy Fallon performing her single Stolen Car.

It was, surprisingly perhaps, Farmer's US TV debut. Sting is unquestionably a bigger name in the US that Farmer is, and his presence may have helped persuade the show to put her on.

The song was, of course originally by Sting, appearing on his 2003 Sacred Love album.

Farmer's version reached number one in France on its release at the end of August, and features on her  Interstellaires album.

Before they performed their duet, the pair appeared for a brief good humoured interview with Fallon.
There's been more of a focus on establishing Farmer as an artist in the USA with the release of Interstellaires, with an interview appearing in Rolling Stone magazine in September.

An CD EP featuring five remixes of the track emerged at the end of last week, two vinyl releases of remixes are expected at the end of January.

Christine and the Queens: Paradis Perdus (Apes and Horses remix)

 A new version of the track Paradis Perdus by Christine and the Queens, with a remixed version of their cover of the Christophe classic emerging.

The new version of the track was remixed by French producers Apes & Horses.

It doesn't features as a physical release as yet, but Christine and the Queens recently issued a new version of her debut album Chaleur humain, with a selection of bonus tracks.

A slightly different version of the album has also been issued in the USA, with many of the songs now appearing in English.

Christine is currently working on her follow up to her debut, although no date for when it will emerge has been revealed.

Louise Attaque: Du grand banditisme

Lovely little piece of video by Louise Attaque, in the form of a mini-documentary about how the
cover of their new album has been created.

It features the track Du grand banditisme, one of the new titles on the forthcoming release.

The new album, their fourth, comes ten years after their last collection, when they split shortly after its release.

The new three piece version of the band release their album on February 19, the track Anomalie emerging in October.

they've got an extensive schedule of live dates ahead next year, with many of the shows including three nights at La Cigale in Paris already sold out.

Monday, 7 December 2015

LEJ: Get Lucky

It has been a while since versions of Get Lucky were a thing, but proper pop stars LEJ revealed their version of the track in an appearance on France 2.

The trio of Lucie, Elisa and Juliett have had massive success this year with their track Summer 2015, re-versioning summer hits in their own style.

They've released a collection of cover versions entitled En attendant l'album, which includes Get Lucky as well as ten other tracks, with Summer 2015 and Hip Hop Mash Up also featuring.

They're 2016 diaries are already looking quite full, with extensive live dates throughout next year across France including a date at L'Olympia in October at the end.

L.E..J. "Get Lucky"

Flavien Berger: Bleu Sous Marin

A great new clip by Flavien Berger for the track Bleu Sous Marin.

The video by Cosme Castro and Jeanne Frenkel was filmed in one take and was initially broadcast live on the youtube channel of the record company Pan European Recording.

It was broadcast live three times at the end of last month, and one of the takes was selected  to be the final video.

The track features on Flavien Berger's album Léviathan which was released in April  this year.

Bars En Trans videos: Day 2 and Day 3

A couple more videos rounding up the live events in the bars and clubs of Rennes over the weekend during the Bars en trans festival, where dozen of acts played at en event that runs in parallel to the larger Transmusicales festival in the city.

The video for Day 2 featured Kazy Lambist live at the 1988 Live Club, Philemon Cimon at La Trinquette, Hello Bye Bye at La Trinquette, LOAS at La Notte, Midnight Ravers at Le Kenland,  Clément Bazin at Le Chantier, Joycut at Le Bar'Hic, Frankie goes to Pointe a Pitre at L'Artiste Assoiffé, and Don Cavalli at Le Dejazey.

Meanwhile, Day three rounds up Garesud at the pool party held at the Piscine St Georges, Rick Le Cube at Théatre de la Parcheminerie, Lomepal at La Notte, Papooz at Le Dejazey, Pain-Noir at La Trinquette, Bon Voyage Organisation at the 1988 Live Club, Plaisirs at Le Chantier, and Carpenter Brut at the 1988 Live Club.

In short, a pretty good snapshot of a wide range of very different acts concentrated over one weekend.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Transmusicales 2015: Video available

Video report from local TV in Rennes covering this year's Transmusicales festival, with footage of
shows taking place in the city, brief interview clips and clips form acts playing this weekend.

I'm not making it over to the event this year, but it's good to see so much coverage of the event so it's possible to get a taste of what's going on.

Arte Concert have been screening some of the live sets, others are available on Culturebox 

I'll feature some of these in coming days, there's plenty of material available to watch.

Bars en Trans festival 2015

A video summing up some of the shows held in Rennes last night under the umbrella of the Bars en
Trans festival.

The first night of the three-day event, which takes place in parallel to the Transmusicales festival, saw dozens of gigs take place at the many bars and clubs across the city.

This year the festival puts a particular focus on artists from Quebec.

Last night saw the likes of Elliot Maginot, Jesse Mac Cormack, Chouette, Mensch, We Are Match and Adrien Soleiman at the likes of the 1988 Live Club, Le Backstage and L'artiste Assoifée.

The weekend sees the number of shows increase, as does the number and range of artists.

Highlight probably has to be The 1988 Live Club , which has shows on from the afternoon from Alice on the Roof, Mathieu Saikaly, Camp Claude and Krazy Lambist.

Camp Claude had been scheduled last year but had to pull out.

Elsewhere you can catch No Money Kids, Con Cavalli and many others.

For Saturday's highlights, there's a show at Le Backstage showcasing Disques Enterprise artists, with Fishbach and Paupiere and La Trinquette sees sets by Mazarin and Pain Noir.

The 1988 Live CLub meanwhiles hosts four acts inclusing Hollydays and Carpenter Brut.

Three days, with more than a dozen venues and some great shows. Again, great work by the Bars en Trans team and all those involved.

Paupière: Cinq Heures

A new single by the band Paupière, with the track Cinq Heures available ahead of their new EP.

Paupière, from Quebec, are on the Disques Enterprise label, home to Vive le Roq favourites like Granc Blanc, Bagarre and Moodoïd.

The band are a trio of Pierre-Luc, Julia et Éliane, and they make a sophisticated pop, which they describe as at once naive and profound, light and powerful.

It's approachable and easy to like, but there's a lot going on at the same time.

Paupière's Jeunes instants EP is available on January 29.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Saycet: Culturethèque interview

Hats off to Culturetheque for an interview with Saycet during his trip round the UK  as part of the Oui Love 2015 tour.

The tour saw him perform in London, Newcastle, Glasgow and Manchester alongside St.Lô & Acre Tarn.

The video features some nice footage of him performing as well.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Feu! Chatterton: Fou à Lier

A great new video by the mighty Feu! Chatterton for the track Fou à Lier.

The track comes from their debut album Ici le Jour (a tout enseveli), which was released in October.

Feu! Chatterton have taken the step from developing act to critically and commercially acclaimed artists with ease

The band are presently in mid-tour, a tour which sees them play a sold-out date at Le Traianon in Pairs in December, as well as shows at the venue in January, February, March , April and May next year.

Transmusicales Preview: Louise Roam

Louise Roam is another developing artist getting some much deserved exposure at this year's 
Transmusicales festival in Rennes.

She's got three shows at the Aire Libre, during the course of the event, so there's no excuse to miss a set if you're at the festival.

Roam, known to friends and family as Aurélie Mestre, released her first EP last spring. The four track Rapture release shows an artist as familiar with the organic as she is with the electronic, as capable as working with texture as she is with rhythm.

Louise Roam plays the Aire Libre venue on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Editorial: December 2015

December kicks in after what was one of the most significant months I've covered in my time writing this

There's no way around it, the attacks in Paris were one of the darkest moments in the history of the city of lights, a place that for all its reputation for vibrancy and life has known its times of almost immesurable bleakness.

Much will, for years to come, be measured by what took place in Paris this month.

To add my views or opinions seems almost banal and inappropriate given scale of events. My thoughts are with those who were hurt, and with the friends and families of those who fell.

Things go on. To be intimidated out of our way of life seems like a surrender, to hate and to wwant vengeance feels like playing into their hands. The moment's silence has been observed, songs have been sung again, at first defiantly and mournfully, and also full of hope.

Meanwhile, the regular business continues. For December, the releases continue with DVDs by Stromae, Indochine and  Shaka Ponk in the diary.

Live event see a series of sold-out UK dates from Benjamin Clementine, as well as a tour by Caravan Palace. A London date by The Dø takes place in the middle of the month.

In France, the Transmusicales festival takes place in Rennes, alongside the Bars en Trans event that sees several dozen of the city's small venues host a well-chosen selection of acts.

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

If you're around Facebook, remember to like the French Music Podcast UK page, for a regular dose of fresh and vintage French music.

Thanks as always 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