Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Festival: Le Printemps de Bourges

The Le Printemps de Bourges festival pretty much marks the start of the French festival season for
the year.

 It's also such a well-curated event that is gives a pretty good indication  of the acts to watch over the coming months.

Some 30 of the acts on this years bill emerged last month, and the organisers have now revealed the final names.

Already announced were big names Jain, Placebo, Vianney, Renaud, Soprano et Boulevard des Airs as well as Fakear, Talisco, Vitalic, Yuksek and Mr Oizo.

Added to the listings are dozens of acts including François & The Atlas Mountains, Fishbach and Agar-Agar, along with Her, Paradis, Cléa Vincent and Juliette Armanet.

Covering hip hop, electro , indie and rock and all combinations of these, it's an event that casts a wide net and hauls in an interesting catch.

 Le Printemps de Bourges runs from April 18 to 23.

Jane Birkin: Academy Award nomination for film

This year there are no French entries in the Best Foreign Film category for this year's Academy Awards, but a  film featuring Jane Birkin has been nominated for an Oscar.

La femme et le TGV is on the short list for Best Live Action Short Film.

Birkin has the leading role in the 2016 short, by Swiss director Timo von Gunten, playing Elise, a woman whose daily routine for 30 years includes waving at the TGV train that passes her house. Her life changes when she finds a letter from the driver.

The 30 minute film has been described as light and enchanting, bringing to mind work like Chocolat or Amélie.

Birkin's film career stretches back to 1965, with roles in key British films of that era including Blowup,  meeting partner Serge Gainsbourg on the filming of the movie Slogan in 1969.

She's gone on to star in dozens of French and English language films in subsequent decades, with directors including Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard, Bertrand Tavernier and Alain Resnais, as well as Gainsbourg and her later partner Jacques Doillon.

Elsewhere in the Oscars, Isabelle Huppert is in the Best Actress category for the film Elle.

The 89th Academy Awards are held on 26 February 2017.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Carpenter Brut: UK Tour

Carpenter Brut begin a short run of UK dates with a show in Glasgow tonight.

The music a blend of rock, 80s electro, video nasty soundtracks. In short, there's much to love there. Hollywood should green light a raft of films just for the purpose of using Carpenter Brut in the soundtrack.

The Trilogy album from 2015 which compiles his three previous EPs was repressed on vinyl recently, but has already sold out . Another pressing is expected later this year.

The tour sees Carpenter Brut, in the form of Franck Hueso with a guitarist and drummer, play Milton Keynes, Bristol, Manchester, and London and then on to Dublin in Ireland.

After this, they'er  off to North America for an extensive series of dates in March.

Carpenter Brut are also on the bill for the Download festival in Paris on June.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Vitalic: Use it or Lose it

A new track by Vitalic, with the release of the track Use it or Lose it being released

It's the second track to emerge from his forthcoming album Voyager which comes out on January 20.

It's his fourth album

Use it or Lose it  follows the the track  Waiting For The Stars which came out in October last year.

Vitalic has just begun a tour, with shows in France this month and across Europe in February before coming to the  UK in March with dates in Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and London.

He's back to mainland Europe after, with shows including a night at the Olympia in Paris on March 23.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains: Grand Dérèglement

A new video by the very wonderful Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains ahead of the band's new album.

The track Grand Dérèglement sees the band continue their work combining indie music with north
African sounds.

It's as unique as it is enjoyable. they sound like no one else and are instantly recognisable.

The band achieved a significant breakthrough with the 2012 album E Volo Love, their last album was 2014's Piano Ombre.

The new album from Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains entitled Solide Mirage is expected on March 3 and they've got live dates across the UK.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Victoires de la Musique 2017

The early months of the year are very much award season,l and no sooner are the Golden Globe awards over in Hollywood out of the way than details of the big event in the French music awards calendar emerge.

The shortlist for this year's Victoires de la Musique award has been published, with some interesting possibilities among the nominations.

Best male artist sees Benjamin Biolay, Vincent Delerm and Renaud, while best female artist features Imany, Jain and Véronique Sanson.

Breakthrough album features work by Amir, Claudio Capeo and Radio Elvis while the live breakthrough list includes Broken Back, LEJ and Minuit.

Chanson album has Julien Doré, Christophe Maé and Benjamin Biolay and best rock album features Louise Attaque, La Femme and Mickey 3D

The urban music album shortlist has Georgio, Jul and Kool Shen, while the world music category includes Acid Arab, Calypso Rose and Rokia Traore.

The best electronic or dance music album category has Electronica 2 by Jean-Michel Jarre, Layers by Kungs and Woman by Justice.

There are four tracks in the best original song category, A kele nta by MHD, Et je l'appelle encore by Véronique Sanson, J'ai cherché by Amir and Je m'en vais by Vianney.

The concert or show category has Jain, Ibrahim Maalouf and Nekfeu.

Best video features Coward by Yael Nain, Makeba by Jain and The Missing by Cassius.

So no Christine and the Queens or Johnhny Hallyday this year, a few previous winners possibly back for more and a few interesting nominations.

I'll have a think over the next few weeks about who I reckon will pick up the trophies. I'll probably, as in previous years, get it mostly wrong...

The 32nd Victoires de la Musique ceremony is held on February 10.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Renaud: Hyper Cacher

A track from Renaud's album from last year, with a song that pays tribute to the victims of the Hyper
Cacher killings in Paris on January 9 2015.

The album, a thoughtful collection from Renaud shot through with his usual humour, was according to SNEP the biggest selling album in France in 2016.

It was a remarkable return to form for an artist who many would have written off years ago.

The track Héloïse has recently been released as a single, and his tour continues at venues around France and beyond from January 11 with dates confirmed until September.

Ray Lema and Laurent De Wilde: Acoustic session

A new edition of Acoustic, the music show on TV5Monde with a session in the studio by Ray Lema
and Laurent De Wilde.

It follows the release of the duo's album Riddles, an album that saw them working together for the first time, having known each others for 25 years.

Lema and De Wilde have worked across a wide cross section of music, from jazz to world music and orchestral, and they've brought their skills and experience to create something that isn't easy to categorise

On his website Ray Lema says: "This project is more than an encounter. It’s a journey."

The session features four tracks; Liane et Banian, Fantani, Congo Rag, Edward K  and Montecristo as well as an interview with Sébastien Folin.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

We are (still) Charlie

Today we remember the Charlie Hebdo killings, an event that while profoundly shocking was to be only the first act of a tragedy that seems not to have concluded yet.

We remember the 12 victims, those who were doing their jobs when they fell, whether journalist, cartoonist, building worker or police officer.

We also remember that this act of terrorism was intended to snuff out the diversity of our culture, to silence forever voices that disagree with a minority of extremists.

And we remember how they failed.

We remember how the names of the victims were championed, how until then obscure counter-culture heroes like Cabu, Tignus and Wolinski became household names. We remember how the killing of a Muslim police officer brought communities together in mutual respect.

And we remember how communities across the world stood side by side.

It was a dark day in 2015, and there have been dark times since. But we remember that an act that was intended to bring us to our knees brought us to our feet, standing together like never before.

Frédéric Boisseau, Franck Brinsolaro, Cabu, Elsa Cayat, Charb,Philippe Honoré, Bernard Maris, Ahmed Merabet, Moustapha Ourrad, Michel Renaud, Tignous, Wolinski.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Part Time Friends - Here We Are: Citroën C3 advert

A new advertising campaign for Citroën on the TV in the UK, featuring music by French act Part Time Friends, with an English language version of their track Here We Are.

Part Time Friends have been around since 2009, and are a Paris-based duo of Pauline Lopez de Ayora and Florent Biolchini.

They describe their music as West Coast American Pop/Scottish Folk. Appropriate given that it looks like some of the advert was shot here in Glasgow.

It's always good to see a French product being advertised with a French music soundtrack. I know some would criticise it as overly commercial, but I reckon it reflects well on both the product and the act, helping the artist get some play in the UK while also helping the reputation of Citroën for being at the cutting edge.

But above all, it's always a real pleasure to hear some dreamy French pop in an unexpected context.

The song features on Part Time Friends 2016 album Fingers Crossed.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Julien Doré: La Javanaise

A new clip from Julien Doré, with a memorable Japanese language cover of the Serge Gainsbourg song La Javanaise.

The release comes ahead of some Japanese dates from Julien Doré, whose album entitled "&" was one of last year's most interesting releases, as well as a significant commercial success.

Gainsbourg's song was one of his early successes, originally written for Juliette Greco and released in 1963 by both Greco and Gainsbourg.

In the years since it's also been covered by Jane Birkin and Iggy Pop, while Mick Harvey recorded an English language versions.

Julien Doré has an extensive tour across France from the end of February, with dates at the Zénith arenas around the country starting with a show in Amiens on the 23rd. He plays in Paris on May 10 and 11.

French acts at Coachella 2017

The bill for this year's Coachella festival has been unveiled, and like previous years the high-profile event in
California again features some key French acts.

You might have to look in the small print below Radiohead, Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar, but a quick investigation will find Kungs, Brodinski and PNL. All three are, of course,  massive in France and elsewhere.

Coachella is the kind of event that has helped many French acts make a serious impression in the USA, from opening doors to further touring or TV appearances to establishing them as artists in what is a potentially massive market. The Coachella audience tends to be the kind of informed and educated crowd with an interest in developing acts, even ones that are well established outside the USA.

Given the budgets that the entertainment industry now operate with, it's much less likely that American TV and film companies, promoters and record companies will head over to France to have a look around for acts they can work with. Coachella brings them to their doorstep.

It acted as a significant showcase for Christine and the Queens, as well as Stromae, two acts that used an appearance at Coachella to showcase the kind of talent that has been recognised in France and elsewhere in Europe.

Meanwhile, Justice - rightly - take a place near the top of the bill on the closing day of the festival.

Coachella takes place in California over two weekends, April 14, 15 and 16 and April 21, 22 and 23.

Editorial: January 2017

A new year, with a time to reflect on a memorable 12 months in French music and no doubt another busy twelve months ahead of us.

2016 saw Christine and the Queens achieve the kind of success they've enjoyed in France in the UK,  no small achievement for an artist as uncompromising and as unique as Helioise Letissier.

2017 already sees some fine releases scheduled, and a diary full of festivals and events beginning to fill up. Meanwhile, other French acts are getting a great deal of visibility beyond the hexagon, with Jainngetting some serious promotion in the UK and PNL getting a  showcase gig at Coachella in the US over the summer.

While the shadow of atrocities hung over much of 2016, from Charlie Hebdo to the Bataclan to Nice, 2017 has its own set of challenges ahead with an election and the inevitable consequences of that. While this is by no means a political blog, the music world does not operate in a vacuum, and events on the wider stage have repercussions on our small corner of French culture.

New year resolutions? More posts in 2017, that's for sure. Things have made it more difficult than usual to post as regularly as we would have liked towards the end of last year. But we're more than optimistic that we're back at full strength.

The last 12 months have seen a massive upturn in the number of visitors to the blog, so this year our aim is to give our visitors the kind of content that they deserve.

You can get a hold of me at 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. I'm always keen to hear new things, and relay information about acts I already know and love.

The blog is 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, where you can get regular updates with both 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