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.

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