Monday, 31 July 2017

Jeanne Moreau RIP

And so another icon of 20th century France passes. Jeanne Moreau, probably the face of the Nouvelle Vague, the French cinema movement that influenced the world, has died aged 89.

Moreau was for many one of France's most iconic actors.

Her music career saw releases from the early 1960s to her work with Etienne Daho in the last decade, a parallel and less-well known career to her screen performances.

A list of the films she starred in reads like the viewing list for a film studies degree in 20th century European cinema, and the names of the directors she worked with looks like a list of the giants of 20th century film.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Festival: Les Eurockéennes de Belfort

Another of France's biggest festivals is underway this weekend, with the four day long Les
Eurockéennes de Belfort event.

With a scenic location and temperatures expeceted to be in the 30s all weekend, it's the kind of event that British festivals can only aspire to be like.

But are there any decent acts on the bill? Funny you should ask!

It's a four-day long event, with proceedings starting yesterday and continuing until Sunday

Yesterday saw the likes of Iggy Pop, Jain and PNL, Today sees Editors and Gojira, La Femme and HF Thiefaine among the dozens of acts scheduled to perform.

Saturday includes Booba and Justice, as well as Vitalic and Dropkick Murphys.Fishbach and HER are also among the acts.

Sunday features Arcade Fire, Phoenix, Royal Blood and Solange.

Plenty of big names, both French and international, for an event thathas become established as one of Europe's key big summer music events.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Pierre Henry RIP

So farewell Pierre Henry, whose death was confirmed today aged 89.

A giant of contemporary music of the last 100 years, his ideas pushed the boundaries and tested the possibilities like few have done before or since.

It's facile to call him a pioneer of electronic music, there's much more to his work than just that, but it is true to say that his work blazed a trail for generations to follow. His intellectual weigh ensured that electronic music was taken seriously by the musical establishment, rather than just considered a novelty branch of cinematic sound effects which it could easily have been categorised under.

Henry saw the possibilities that were open to music in the 20th century and explored them with curiosity.

La Ferme Electrique festival

Tomorrow sees one of my favourite small festival events take place, with La Ferme Electrique taking place over July 7 and 8 at Tournan en Brie, in the Seine-et-Marne countryside not far from Paris.

Despite its rural setting, it's just an RER ride from the centre of Paris. Free parking, free camping and a two-day ticket that costs less than 30 euros is pretty enticing.

2017 is the eighth time the festival has been held, and like previous years the event has continued to thrive thanks to its innovative programming and a belief in the value of keeping things small and simple.

La Ferme Electrique is actually held in converted farm buildings, with a bar, restaurant, chip shop and pancake place. Nothing grand, but you can bet it will be perfect.

Getting the opportunity to catch some well-chosen emerging acts in a warm and encouraging environment is usually a much more pleasant experience that catching some well-known faces at a corporate enormo-event.

This year's bill incudes Bryan's Magic Tears, Sheik Anorak, Stratocastors and Le VilleJuif Underground among the acts on the Friday.

Saturday has Do The Dirt, En Attendant Ana, Chinese Army, Daikiri, Housewives and Pogo Car Crash Control and others.

It's a varied line up in terms of musical styles, with plenty of talent there to guarantee two memorable nights.

Sometimes you don't need all the facilities of a luxury Glastonbury yurt, just a meadown in France to pitch your tent, with a tap for water and a stall in the morning where you can buy pastries and coffee. Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The return of MC Solaar

Delighted to see the return of MC Solaar, ten years after the release of any significant new material from the pioneering French rapper.

Solaar was in the early 90s an artist who established rap as a serious genre in France, matching sharp lyrics with sounds that were fresh and funky as hell.

His work also had a resolutely French style, shot through with an urban experience that had more in common with les banlieues than the Bronx, and he charted a path others - many with lesser talents - have since followed.

He was also one of the first French rappers to make a mark in the anglophone world.

Solaar's last album was 2007's Chapitre 7, and the annoucement of a new album follows an unreleased track Sentinel Nord emerged earlier this year.

Solaar's new album is due before the end of the year, and a single is scheuled for August.

Monday, 3 July 2017

La Femme at Main Square Festival

The world's certainly become a smaller place in recent years. Not that long ago an event like Main
Square Festival in Arras would have been something of a secret to an anglophone audience. 

Ignored by the music press, the fact that it attracts big names like Radiohead would have been an oddity, obviously just the bands 'warming up' for the proper festivals in the UK.

Besides, don't those European festivals feature those strange eurobands that no-one's heard of? Some of them don't even perform in English...

Thankfully time's moved on, and not only are some of France's festivals reaching out to an anglophone audience but they're making an effort to be not only televised but available to watch online so you can see for yourself what you're missing. And from watching this kind of coverage, who wouldn't want to go to a music festival like Main Square?

The prices compare favourably with the big ticket prices for UK events, the organisation surpasses many of the UK events, the food and drink are a cut above and the weather is almost always better.

This year's Main Square was a three day event at the cenre of the town that featured Radiohead, others included System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Rag 'n' Bone Man. For those looking beyond the anglosphere, there were Jain, Thylacine and plenty of others, including La Femme, one of the finest acts operating in France at the moment.

La Femme are playing pretty much every summer festival in France over the summer. Even if you just go to see whatever anglo American acts are on the top of the bill, La Femme strongly make the case that there's more going on in Europe than just waiting for the big acts from over here to play over there.

Orval Carlos Sibelius: Ordre et progrès

A new release by Orval Carlos Sibelius with the album Ordre et  progrès, one of my favourite French

It's his fifth album, but for the first time his work is in French. His previous releases saw him perform in English.

If there's been a change in language, the music remains a charming take on modern indie psychedelic, if anything with a more electronic edge to this album than on his previous adventures.

I've been a fan since I came across his 2013 Super Forma album, one of the stand out releases in the contemporary French psych sub grenre that seems to have emerged over the past few years.

It's also his first release on Born Bad Records following the demise of the Clapping Music label behind his previous albums. Born Bad

 Ordre et  progrès is the kind of album that you enjoy on first listen, but find yourself returning to again and again, and each time finding another subtle layer of meaning, another shade of colour. It's a rich and rewarding release that deserves a great deal of attention.

There's a great video for the track Coupure Générale that emerged a couple of month ago ahead of the release of the album. Like the best music videos, it's a simple idea done well.

This weekend saw Orval Carlos Sibelius play at the Europavo festival in Clermont-Ferrand, hopefully with more live dates to come.

Editorial: July 2017

A fresh month at Vive le roq, with summer very much under way.

Last month saw the festival season in France in full force, with events like Hellfest, We Love Green, Main Square and others being held pretty much every available weekend.

This month sees that trend continue, with events like The Eurockéennes de Belfort, Vieilles Charrues and Les Francofolies de La Rochelle on the immediate horizon and Main Square just coming to a close with a set by Radiohead last night.

There are also a number of interesting releases that we'll be taking a look at.

Things are getting back to normal service here at Vive le roq, and we'll be producing more articles in the forthcoming weeks than we've been managing in the past few months.Thanks for sticking with us.

In the meantime,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 drop me an email. 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, although that's prety much just an autofeed when we update with a new article. You can usually find me on my personal Twitter acount quicker, @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.

Merci et à bientôt