Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Her: Neighbourhood

A new video emerges from Her, coinciding with the news that the band will not be continuing.

The band, formed in 2015 by Victor Solf and Simon Carpentier, had continued after the death of Carpentier, Solf saying that he had promised to finish their debut album and to continue with the band as long as possible.

He confirmed to an audience in Rennes, their home town, that he had done all he could, and later posted a message confirming that the act woud continue until the end of their tour in February next year, and he would then close this chapter of his live and open a new one.

Victor Solf plans a solo career, saying it is necessary to move forward in his life and to find his freedom again, both artistic and personal.

No doubt it was a hard decision, but it is a completely understandable one.

The decision brings to a close one of France's most promising new acts in recent years. The decision to carry on following the death of a founder member was an appropriate tribute, and the decision to finally bring the curtain down seems right.

With the legacy of Her behind him as a solo artist, Victor Solf can develop his career in his own way.

I look forward to the next chapter.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Jain: On Man

A new single from Jain, with Oh Man released as the second single from her Souldier album.

Souldier was released in August, and it showed a confident evolution from her Zanaka debut. That album was a massive success in France and beyond, the first single from her second album - Alright - giving her a massive summer hit in France.

The new single is a bright piece of electro pop with an ethnic feel, instantly memorable and sure to make an impact. I reckon it will continue to raise her profile far beyond France, she certainly deserves to be an international star. She's certainly got the talent, the style and the songs.

Jain continues her bid to conquer the world with live dates across North America this month, and shows in London and Manchester in November. She's back in France for a large-scale tour of the country's arenas from March until June next year, with two shows at the Zénith in Paris on March 20 and 21.

Angèle feat. Roméo Elvis: Tout Oublier

Another memorable video and song from Angèle, coinciding with the release of her debut album Brol earlier this month.

Angèle has emerged as an interesting voice in French rap, bringing some humour and a unique style. You get the feeling she doesnt take herself too seriously and is enjoying what she does.

Her songs are great, and there's a playful wit at work here that suggests she's smart operator.

Anglophone critics might compare her to Lily Allen, but tshe's probably got more in common with fellow Belgian Stromae.

She plays a showcase in-store performance at FNAC in Paris Les Halles on October 11, and has live shows across France and Belgium scheduled until February.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Festi'Val de Marne

I always enjoy drawing attention to the music festivals that are held in France, and while the overwhelming majority take place over the summer, with something worthwhile on pretty much every weekend, it's good to see things don't dry up completely as Autumn takes hold.

This year's Festi'Val de Marne runs from today until October 20, and sees an impressive number of acts performing across 24 town in the  department in the Île-de-France.

Acts performing include Grand Corps Malade, Miossec and the mighty Feu! Chatterton. Elsewhere, Les Néhgresses Vertes, Pomme and Aquaserge are on the bill, as are Cats on Trees and Hollydays. There's a wide range of styles on display, with local communities getting the chance to experience some well-chosen developiong and estabished acts.

Other events include special shows for youngsters, including one intriguingly entitled Gainsbourg for kids.

With the venues of the Val de Marne easily accessible from Paris, it's no surprise that the festival has had a long history. With the theme 'Where the music embraces the words', this year marks the 32nd time the event's been held.

Hollydays: On a déjà (du SON dans mon SALON SESSION)

A great little acoustic session by Hollydays, playing in an apartment for du SON dans mon SALON.

The duo of Elise Preys and Sébastien Delage have been working together since 2012, and released their Les Animaux EP in 2014, another Les Insatisfaits the following year,

A five-track EP of covers came out last year, where they take on songs originally by MC Solaar, Niagra, Jacques Dutronc, La Petite Sirene and Jean-Pierre Mader. This might give some indication of where they sit artistically - somewhere in the middle between classic French pop and more contemporary sounds.

Their most recent EP release is L'Odeur Des Joints, a four-track affair which came out in February, featuring Je bois, the title track, On a déjà, and the song Léo.

On a déjà,  Léo and  L'Odeur Des Joints all feature on their forthcoming 13 track debut album, Hollywood Bizarre, due to be released on November 2.

Pépite: Feu Rouge

If this blog's been a little heavy with the presence of major artists and big budget releases of late,  it's always worth returning our focus to something perhaps a bit more bite sized.

Feu Rouge by Pépite is something quite lovely, and the video is equally charming. The band describe it as "Closing titles...for the beginning of a debut album." It's the kind of dreamy track that ticks all the right boxes for chilled French pop, effortlessly stylish but not taking itself too seriously.

There's something of a humorous wink towards the 1976 Claude Lelouch short film C'était un rendez-vous in the clip of course. Although there's perhaps a more relaxed feel to it.

Feu Rouge features vocals by Flora Fischbach, whose À ta merci was one of this blog's favourite releases in recent years.

Pépite's Les Bateaux EP was released in 2016, their  Renaissance EP in 2017. We're certainly ready to hear more by them.

Pépite play La Cigale in Paris on October 9.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Alain Bashung: Immortels

A previously unrelease Alain Bashung track has emerged, Immortels was written by Dominique A and it comes ahead of a posthumous album later this year.

The posthumous album can be an artistically risky affair. Fans of an artist will always appreciate the chance to hear 'new' work, but as often as not the work that was left on a shelf was left there for a very good reason.

Maybe it's because the standard of Bashung's work was so high that this was left aside. Whatever the reason, it's magnificent.

In 2011 a  cover of Serge Gainsbourg's L'homme à tête de chou album was released, the only prior posthumous collection of unreleased Bashung material. It was originally intended as the soundtrack for a ballet, and recorded by Bashung for a performance in 2009.

The songs on the new collection were recorded around the time of his 2008 Bleu pétrole album and were mostly in a guitar and voice only form. They were worked on by producer Édith Fambuena, who had previously collaborated with Bashung, most noteably on his  1998 album Fantaisie militaire. She workedd with Bashung's widow, singer and actress Chloé Mons, to create sympathetic arrangements for the original recordings.

2019 marks the tenth anniversary of Bashung's death and the new collection of 11 unreleased recordings seems an appropriate way to mark the occasion.

En amont is released on November 23.

Charles Aznavour RIP

As I write the editorial page for this month, I see from a friend that Charles Aznavour has died at the age of 94. Another great of French music leaves the stage.

Aznavour's career covered seven decades, and as an artist he represented for many a link between the golden age of French chanson and the 21st century. 

There had been some concern for his health in reecnt months after a broken arm sustained in a fall meant cancelled concerts, but on Friday an appearance on France 5's TV's C à Vous showed him in seemingly fine form, as indefatiguable as ever and detailing planned live shows.

Aznavour was a French artist who was known internationally, as respected in America as he was in Armenia, the country his parents came from.

Already the obituaries in the UK and the USA are referring to him, as the French Sinatra. It's the usual shorthand reserved for foreign artists, a quick comparison with an artist the audience will be more familar with.

But Aznavour was much more than Sinatra, writing for Piaf before launching his own career as a singer himself, writing his own material in a business at the time when performer and writer were usually seperate, and performing in a variety of languages for audiences in different countries.  He was also a significant film star in France and beyond.

Meanwhile, he was involved in politics and humanitarian issues, helping Armenia in the wake of a devastating earthquake in the 80s, and protestinng against the right wing in France.

As a performer he remained a captivating presence, taking to the stage long after many of his contemporaries had either died or retired. He loved what he did, and while there was certainly a nostalgia for another era in his shows in recent decades, he carried it off with panache and style.

I don't know if any other artist could compare, or achieve what he managed to do. He leaves an extraordinary legacy.

Editorial: October 2018

As expected, September did indeed turn out to be quite a month for releases.

It's the season of La rentrée, which amongst other things marks a huge number of books being published, and certainly the French music scene has been every bit as busy with some major new products by some of France's biggest artists.

Christine and the Queens, Mylène Farmer and Jean-Michel Jarre  all released either new collections of significant compilations,  and favourites from this blog including Flavien Berger and Grand Blanc released their second albums.

There's been much to enjoy, and I'm pleased to have reviewed a few of these albums so far. I'll have a few more reviews in the next few days and weeks as I catch up with listening to the torrent of new material and doing it justice. 

I'm available by email at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with a couple of obvious changes in the email address that I'm sure you can guess. If you're a PR for a French act, label or event, just drop me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

I'm always pleased to get feedback, suggestions and inspiration. The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, so give us a follow or contact us via there. I'm also on Twitter as @karnag, and usually respond a bit quicker on that address especially when I'm out the office.

If you're on Facebook, be sure to Like or Follow the French Music Podcast UK page, where I'm posting links to French music videos - new and old - several times a day. It's well worth getting in your social media feed.

Thanks as always to the team at Oui Love Music for all their work introducing French acts to the international audience.

 John K

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Les Rencontres Trans Musicales #Trans2018

With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, there's no denying winter is on its way. And with the change of the season we're looking ahead to the big event in December - Les Rencontres Trans Musicales in Rennes.

2018 marks the 40th edition of the festival that acts as a major showcase for some of the best developing artists. There is always a well-curated selection of acts from around the world, but there's always a solid presence of French artists. For many, an appearance at the Trans Musicales is the first major step in a career.

Recent years have seen performances by Benjamin Clementine, Jeanne Added, Stromae and Grand Blanc.

Fourteen names were released earlier this month, but another major tranche of artists have been added to the bill.

Among the French acts this year are rapper Disiz, electro act Dombrance, Ouai Stéphane, RexRegis, The Psychotic Monks, The YD and Venice Club.

From Canada there are francophone artists Hubert Lenoir and  Les Louanges and further afield come Franco-Chilean duo Nova Materia.

Local acts from Rennes and elsewhere in Brittany include Initials Bouvier Bernois, Fleuves.

Already announced are Aloïse Sauvage, Praa, Ryder The Eagle and  La Fraicheur.

I'll feature some of these acts in more detail in coming weeks. There are likely to be some memorable live sets this year.

This year's poster was designed by US artist Brendan Monroe. It's got to be one of the best so far.

The festival runs from December 5 to Sunday December 9.

Review: Jean-Michel Jarre - Planet Jarre

Do we need another Jean-Michel Jarre compilation?  The new multiple-disc selection Planet Jarre looks back on his 50 year music career, with something new, something old and a few rarities as well.

The collection is assembled in four themed sections: Soundscapes, Themes, Sequences and Explorations and Early Works, and Jarre's done a little bit of work remixing and tweaking the tracks for 21st century ears.

Soundscapes collects his more ambient works, with the first part of Oxygene opening the set. It showcases Jarre's breakthrough works, but with the focus on the less commercial tracks and works well.

There's a flavour of the more experimental edge of 70s prog rock running through this work. While he's credited as a major commercial artist, this selection - which covers material up to his 2016 Heart of Noise album - gives us the opportunity to re-assess his work in the context of a more artistic framework.

The second selection - Themes - contains some of his best-known work, with Oxygene 4 and Equinoxe 5 as well as Magnetic Fields 2 and laser harp number Rendez-Vous 2. You'll probably recognise them all, if there's a 'greatest hits' playlist in this collection, this is it.

 I'm not so keen on the tracks Zoolookologie and Bells, and while they've got their place in his body of work, to these ears the 80s synths have dated worse than much of his early work.

Sequences shows his work in a far more contemporary style of electronics. The new track Coachella Opening takes us right up to 2018, and others in this section such as Equinoxe 7 and 1982's Arpeggiator show that Jarre is no stranger to operating in the more dance oriented electronic area. I've always thought that given the right set, Jarre could blow the roof off an Ibiza mega club. Stardust, featuring Armen Van Buuren makes this case strongly.

The final selection Explorations and Early Works gathers some of his lesser known material, including early singles and pre-Oxygene soundtrack works. His debut single La Cage and Erosmachine as well as Hypnose and 1968's Happiness is a sad song all deserve to be on display again, as does the demo excerpt from his legendary Music for Supermarkets single-copy album.

Some may have preferred other rare material to appear, some of the tracks here featured on 2011's Essentials and Rarities collection, but that collection is itself now difficult to locate. This presents them in the way they deserve, held up alongside his most popular and artistically acclaimed work.
There's maybe yet a place for his early Deserted Palace album, early pseudonym singles and for the Dustbins to get their moment in the sun.

Throughout his career Jarre has done more than most to make electronic music popular and accessible, without it being artistically weak. From copies of Oxygene given away free with newspapers to his massive outdoor shows, he's always reached out to those who might give him a listen. Most have come away impressed. There's a generation who are now discovering his work through the current electronic artists, and this collection shows Jarre has been leading from the front for decades, and shows little sign of resting on past glories.

To answer the question in the first paragraph: Do we need another Jean-Michek Jarre compilation? Yes, actually we probably do.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Review: Grand Blanc - Image au mur

I've said before that Grand Blanc are one of the acts I point to when I'm asked if French music actually does has anything to offer.

Their debut album, 2016's Mémoires vives was an assured collection of electro-flavoured rock, and even regular listening since doesn't diminish its impact. Tracks like Montparnasse are as jaw-dropping now as they were when I first heard them.

Wisely they didn't rush to make their debut, coming out as it did two years after their first EP. The time they spent perfecting their craft paid off, with both a memorable first album and a reputation as an impressive live act.

Image au mur doesn't feel like a second album by a band on an independent label. But Grand Blanc are more than a regular band, and Disques Enterprise - home of Fishbach, Bagarre and Moodoïd and other French language acts - punches far above its weight.

There's a lot going on in Image au mur, again you get the feeling they've thought things through, worked at it and allowed things to develop. There are moments of epic rock, like in Ailleurs, but they avoid it being empty gesture. There are thoughtful passages, like the REM flavoured Télévision, but it never gets too introspective.

The production of Image au mur provides an elegant stage for the voices of Benoît David and Camille Delvecchio. In the best tradition of Depeche Mode and New Order, for all their use of technology and electronics, there is a humanity at the core of Grand Blanc that lifts them.

Belleville perhaps continues a tendancy for songs named after quartiers of Paris, a punchy and immediately likeable song with a stylish and sharp Paris punk flavour. Los Angeles a serious slice of electro pop and Rêve BB Rêve a nod perhaps to Depeche Mode and to New York electro-punk pioneers Suicide. Ailleurs might start with a 60s French pop feel, but soon moves into a widescreen epic place, before returning to more Cocteau Twins dreamscape.

Image au mur comes out not long after Grand Blanc supported French rock veterans Indochine at dates in arenas around France and beyond. Listening to the album, you can imagine the same respect and longevity ahead for Grand Blanc.

Mylène Farmer: Live dates in 2019

With the new album by Mylène Farmer on the immediate horizon, radio station Europe 1 say that she will be playing a series of a series of live concerts in 2019.

Europe 1 say that Mylène Farmer will play ten shows at the Paris La Défense arena in Nanterre on the west of Paris.

The Paris La Défense arena is a stadium that can hold 40,000 people when its being used for live concerts.  The 360 million euro building - the biggest concert hall in Europe - has been open since 2017 and regularly hosts sports events and is home to rugby club Racing 92.

The Rolling Stones were the first artists to play there, performing there for three nights in October 2017. Since then, Roger Waters  has played there, with Booba scheduled for next month.

There has been no official confirmation of the shows so far, nor details of the dates or when tickets might be available.

Mylène's last tour was in 2013, with the Timeless tour supporting her 2012 Monkey Me album. That tour saw her perform 39 shows in five countries, France, Switzerland, Russia, Belarus and Belgium. The tour began with with ten nights at Bercy in Paris, the final show of the tour taking place in Nice on December  6 2013.

Ahead of any live dates next year, Mylène has been invited to appear on a TV show focussing on Jean-Paul Gaultier on France 2 next month. The French TV channel is screening a special programme about the French fashion legend, who has influenced a generation of artists in fields including fashion and music.

Gaultier, a friend od Mylène, designed costumes for Mylène's Tour 2009 and Timeless 2013 live shows as well as for some of her videos. Speaking earlier this year, Gaultier said that he could design the costumes for a forthcoming Mylène Farmer tour.

Among the others expected on the show are Catherine Ringer, Indochine and Christine and the Queens.

Mylène releases her 11th studio album, Désobéissance on Friday, a collection that includes the singles Rolling Stone, N'oublie pas and the recently released Sentimentale.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Mylène Farmer: Sentimentale

A new track from the forthcoming new album by Mylène Farmer has emerged, with a video for the track Sentimentale the week ahead of the release of Désobéissance.

It's a fairly basic video, mostly a graphic with what looks like home movies of  Mylène enjoying some down time alone with her dogs. It's perhaps a lower key clip than usual,  no costumes, no locations and no rich cinematography. Instead it has the feel of something more relaxed, perhaps to show a more approachable side to Mylène, or perhaps it was just put together quickly to accompany the release of the track.

Fans will no doubt still be scouring it in minute details to determine exactly the state of Mylène's art.

The single is availeble from all the streaming and legal download platforms. No word as yet on a physical release, but that can't be far away.

Sentimentale is the third track to come out ahead of the release of Désobéissance, following Rolling Stone and N'oublie pas. It was produced by Feder, who aso produced Rolling Stone and is involved in many of the other tracks on the new album,

Désobéissance will inevitably be one of the biggest releases in France this year. The two previous singles have both added to Mylène's impressive collection of number one singles in France since the start of her career in the 80s. It's a fair bet that this one will also make a significant chart impact.

But the real test will be with the release of the new album. It is Mylène's first release on a new label, Sony, so there will perhaps be more eyes measuring its impact than before as well as determining her next moves.

More singles? More film work? A tour? Mylène always keeps her plans well guarded, but the success of the new album may play a significant measure in what Mylène does next.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Lomepal: 1000°C clip

Love this video by Lomepal, taking French rap to far stranger territory than it might normally go.

It's the first track from his forthcoming new album which is due out in December and features a contribution from Belgian rapper Roméo Elvis.

Lomepal's debut album Flip was released in June last year and was one of the biggest selling rap albums of the year.

The Paris-based artist, known to his family and friends as Antoine Valentinelli has attracted a huge number of views to his work on YouTube, released his first EP  20 mesures in 2011, following it with Le singe fume sa cigarette in 2013.

His rigourous live schedule has helped him build up a massive following ahe he plays at the Détonation festival in Besancon at the end of the month.

He's got a sold-out show at the Olympia in Paris on October 4, and he recently announced a tour of the arenas around France, Belgium and Switzerland early next year including the Zénith in Paris on February 20.

Christine and the Queens: La marcheuse

A new video by Christine and the Queens emerges just days ahead of the much anticipated new album.

It's interesting to see Heloïse Letissier portrayed as a bullfighter in the video, albeit one who makes friends with a bull. She's had a bit of a fight so far with critics of her new material and new image, but this track certainly shows more of the crisp electo-pop that made Chaleur Humaine so irresistable.

Like the bull in the video, she'll inevitably win them over.

An English language version of the song - entitled The Walker - will feature on the international version of the new album

Three clips have already come out ahead of the release of the new collection, due at the end of the week in two versions - a French version with 12 tracks and an international version, predominately in English, with 11 tracks.

Extensive tour dates are scheduled around Europe and North America from next month, with shows in the UKand Ireland in November before dates in Switzerland and France in December ending with two nights at the Accorhotels Arena in Paris on December 18 and 19.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Jain: Souldier on French TV

An appearance by Jain on the France 2 TV show On n'est pas couché at the weekend, with an interview and an acoustic performance of the title track of her recently released second album.

I've probably not mentioned Jain's album as much as it deserves. Her debut album Zanaka was a massive seller, leading to her actually making some inroads with an English speaking audience, with appearances on Later with Jools Holland in the UK and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert in the USA.

If there's a French artist likely to follow Christine and the Queens into the uncharted waters of anglo-saxon recognition in the near future, it's a fair bet that it will be Jain.

Her new album was released last month following the release of Alright and the title track as singles.

She's a charming artist who is quite startlingly talented, as the acoustic solo performance on this appearance shows.

She's got a full schedule of live dates ahead to support the new album, with shows in North America next month and two gigs in the UK - Manchester on November 26 and London on November 27 and an extensive tour ahead around France next year.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Rachid Taha at the Trans musicales de Rennes, 21012

Great to watch the live set by Rachid Taha that he performed at the Trans musicales de Rennes, in memory of the huge talent that we recently lost.

Rachid Taha died on September 12, leaving a legacy that few will match. He took the sound North Africa into new places, inspired by (and according to legend inspiring) the Clash, electronica and rock.

From his early work with Carte de Séjour to his 2013 album Zoom, Taha was the kind of iconoclast most artists can only aspire to being.

The set in Rennes was filmed by Arte, and having a performance like this on tape really shows the value of filming these events.

Vanessa Paradis: Ces mots simples

A new single from Vanessa Paradis, with the track Ces mots simples emerging ahead of the release of a new album later this year.

The song was written by her husband, film director Samuel Benchetrit. The couple met during the making of the movie Chien in 2016, Paradis starring in the film that Benchetrit directed.

While musically best remembered in the UK for a hit single she had in 1987 at the age of 14, Vanessa Paradis has gone of to a career that has seen the release of six studio albums so far, collections that have included collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg, M, Benjamin Biolay and Lenny Kravitz.

She's won multiple Victoire de la Musique awards over the years, including best female artist, best pop album, and best music video.

As an actress she's had similar success, from her César award for Most Promising Actress in 1990's Noce blanche to multiple awards for her performance in Café de Flore.

Her new album follows 2013's Love Songs, a double album produced by Benjamin Biolay that reached number one in France.

Les Sources is released on November 16.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Jean-Michel Jarre: Equinoxe Infinity

So no sooner does Jean-Michel Jarre release the massive retrospective set Planet Jarre - a four disc, 41 track collection - than he announces the release of a new album in just a matter of months.

November sees the releas of Equinoxe Infinity, marking the 40th anniversary of the 1978 release of his original Equinoxe album.

I've always liked Equinoxe, and while it perhaps doesn't get the same level of respect as Oxygene does, it really was the work that confirmed Oxygene was no one-off piece, and that as an artist he had more to offer.  

Given the scale of the impact of Oxygene, and the attention it received again with the later two volumes in the trilogy, it's perhaps understandable that Equinoxe has perhaps been slightly overlooked. Time to put that right.

Oxygene's themes were developed over subsequent decades in the two other volumes, and its legendary status secured.  But if you had to pick two Jarre albums that defined his aesthetic, it would probably be Oxygene and Equinoxe rather than any of the other volumes in the Oxygene trilogy.

The concept of Equinox, of anonymous and ambiguous observers watching over us is one that certainly rings true today. Technology might have advanced, but so do the questions that it provokes. Jarre, as always, ahead of his time.

The new collection features two different covers, one showing a future vision of man in harmony with nature, the other showing a potentially more destructive future.

Equinoxe Infinity is released on CD, vinyl and a deluxe box set on November 16.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Indochine: Song for a Dream

A new video by Indochine, with a big budget treatment for the track Song for a dream, from their 13 album.

For such an unapologetically rock number, it's a filmic video without much reference to the band members. Something of a surprise too, as the band were expected to release the track Gloria featuring Asia Argento as a single. Perhaps recent events involving the actor led to it being put on hold for the moment.

It has been a landmark 12 months for Indochine, 13 being released in September 2017. A number one album in France and elsewhere in mainland Europe, the singles Un été francais and La vie est belle getting massive attention. Station 13 was released as a single just last month.

The album has been one of the band's biggest sellers. Not bad for a band that has been around since 1981.

Song for a Dream has emerged as one of the favourite tracks on the album, fans getting the chance to experience it live during the extensive touring they've done to promote the album.

Indochine have more live dates in November and December, including three shows at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on November 14, 16 and 17.

Festival: I'm From Rennes

If I had to choose a favourite French city, Rennes would be a strong contender. It's a scenic and historic place of course, but it also punches well above its weight in terms of its music scene.

Maybe it's the large student population, with a univesity and art school in the city. Or maybe it's something in Brittany's celtic culture, where pubs take a more significant place in society than the traditional French cafe, that helps support a thriving musical culture.

Or perhaps it is because it is far enough away from Paris that acts have the opportunity to practice their craft and develop organically at their own pace and in a supportive environment.

Like Liverpool, Manchester or Glasgow it has a vibrant musical landscape and history of its own, as well as providing a fertile ground for the artists of tomorrow.

While events like the Transmusicales attract international attention, today sees a smaller scale event in the city to celebrate the local talent. I'm From Rennes runs from today until September 23 and sees events at clubs, theatres as well as other venues including public squares and libraries.

The event describes itself as La rentrée de la scene Rennais - the return of the Rennes scene after the holidays.

Tonight sees contemporary rock act Février play at the Champs Libres in the city centre, and Maximilien and Praa bring electro and soul ouotdoors at Place de la Parcheminerie.

This weekend Square Guy Houist hosts microbreweries, street food and rock 'n' roll, with two days of  a German biergarten vibe featuring local brewers, local bands and sets from local DJ.

There's much on offer over the next ten days. I'll feature some of the acts over the next few days, as rather than just list them here, they deserve a bit of attention in their own right as well.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Julia: S.E.X.T.O.

A debut single by French teenage singer Julia, a graduate of The Voice Kids TV show, written by Mylène Farmer and her collaborator Laurent Boutonnat.

Farmer and Boutonnat were impressed by performances the youngster had posted on YouTube and decided to work with her, writing her debut single and overseeing the launch of her career.

Of course, the song's theme is meant to be a bit edgy and controversial for a 16-year-old female artist. All the more likely to get some attention. Maybe it's an echo of a modus operandi established by Serge Gainsbourg in the 60s although if you ask me old Serge had a bit more subtlety, wit and humour about his work.

If it all seems a bit familiar, maybe it is. Julia follows Alizée as a younger representative representative of Mylène Farmer and Laurent Boutonnat. Alizée also featured in a French TV show for kids - Graines de Star - in 1999 before releasing the similarly "edgy" single Moi...Lolita single in 2000.

It was a massive success, as was her debut album Gourmandises which sold over four million copies.
Farmer and Boutonnat wrote the songs on that dabut album and its follow up, overseeing the early years of her career until she was an established name in France and beyond.

Alizée's career continues, with her most recent album being 2014's Blonde. She's also a major star in France due to her appearances on France's Danse avec les stars TV show.

Given the immense popularity of the Farmer and Boutonnat brand in France, and their previous success with Alizée, they've not strayed too far from a successful formula.

As it coincides with the return of Mylène, Julia's debut release has emerged at just the right time to attract a huge amount of attention. Farmer and Boutonnat certainly know what they're doing.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Johnny Hallyday: Mon pays c'est l'amour

If there's a release that will challenge Mylène Farmer's forthcoming new album as the biggest seller of 2018, it has to be the forthcoming final studio album by Johnny Hallyday.

Details confirming the title of Johnny's posthumous collection have been confirmed. The album will be called Mon pays c'est l'amour, the songs recorded in the months leading up to the legendary singer's death in December last year.

The album will be his 51st studio album, and features ten songs including Back in LA, J'irai parler au diable, Je ne suis q'un homme, and Made in Rock 'n' roll as well as the title track.

Johnny's widow Laeticia says that in the album there is a lot of what he wanted to say before he left. It will be an emotional listen for his fans. Hopefully it will live up to their expectations, there's a tendency for such posthumous releases to disappoint.

The cover picture by Dimitri Coste looks a close relative of his portrait used on the cover of Johnny's  2012 album  L'Attente. While the new album features a black and white portrait, it seems to originate from the same photoshoot.

The ten track album will be released on October 19.

Transmusicales 2018: First names announced #trans2018

The first portion of names playing this year's Transmusicales festival in Rennes has been served up by the festival's organisers.

Fifteen of the acts playing the 40th edition of the event have been confirmed. Performances are held in the city centre at venue including the Ubu and the Liberté as well as at the Expo park on the edge of the city. Many of the shows in the city are free.

Transmusicales is a showcase for developing acts like no other. While featuring some of the best international acts, it has an equally well-curated selection of French acts.

Among the acts confirmed so far is Aloïse Sauvage, who might be better known for her performance in the film 120 beats per minute, but has also released several singles since 2015 establishing herself as a significant electro pop artist. Her most recent release, Hiver brûlant, was released earlier this year.

Other french acts include R&B soul act Praa, a Rennes local who has so far released a couple of critically acclaimed singles, Ryder the Eagle, the former drummer with Les Aves who has released a single and an EP so far in his solo career, and there's a DJ set by house/techno artist La Fraicheur.

Elsewhere the bill includes middle eastern psych rock from Al-Qasar, Afro-latin funk from Arp Frique, indie rock from Bodega from the USA, disco act Bruno Belissimo, afropop from Pongo, psych pop from Pressyes, veteran soul act Robert Findley,  Armenian neo-traditional act The Naghash Ensemble.

American punk afrobeat act Underground System are playing, as are South Korean/UK pop act Wooze.

Contemporary (well, 60s and early 70s influenced...) British rock is represented by The Surrenders.

The main announcement of act playing this year's Transmusicales is made on September 20. This year's festival runs from December 5 to December 9.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Editorial: September 2018

September is the month when France traditionally gets back to business after the summer.

Folk return from the south and the west, from beaches or countryside, back to studies, school, work and their regular lives. Shops re-open, cafés return to their regular hours and the country gets back to its normal life after the traditional month away.

It's La rentrée, a special season in France that's also marked by the release of new books, new ideas and new resolutions after a relaxed summer. Time to get serious, time to get busy and time to put new ideas into practice.

September is also going to be a hell of a month for new music releases.

Christine and the Queens release Chris, the much-anticipated second album, on September 21. She's also appearing in London earlier in the month, on September 16, to discuss the album in public and answer questions from the audience. We'll be seeing more of her in November when she plays live dates across the UK.

Elsewhere in French megastar releases, the new collection from Mylène Farmer, emerges on September 28.  Details of Désobéissance emerged last month with the unveiling of a massive poster in the centre of Paris featuring the cover artwork, a photograph by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

The two singles that have been released from the album so far have both reached number one in the French charts, adding to Mylène's impressive record. I'd put money on Mylène's new album being one of 2018's biggest sellers by the end of the year.

There's also a new four-disc retrospective collection from Jean-Michel Jarre celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career released on September 14. Planet Jarre; 50 years of Music ranges from his best known work to rare material, and includes two new tracks and an unreleased demo from his Music for Supermarkets project, the legendary album that was only pressed on one copy before the master tapes were destroyed.

The new collection was curated by Jarre, with some remastering of the tracks to give them a fresher sound.

Elsewhere? There's a new album by Flavien Berger, a favourite of this blog, which drops on September 28. Contre-temps is his second album, a video for the track Maddy la Nuit emerging towards the end of last month.

Also, the very much looked forward to second album by Grand Blanc is in the pipeline with a September 14 release date. Their debut was one of this blog's favourites in recent years, their second sounds so far like something very special indeed.

Meanwhile, there are new albums by Thomas Dutronc and Zazie due this month as well, both due on September 7.

Much to look forward to, much to write about and plenty to listen to. Enjoy La rentrée musicale

I'm available by email at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with a couple of obvious changes in the email address that I'm sure you can guess. If you're a PR for a French act, label or event, just drop me an email.

I'm always pleased to get feedback, suggestions and inspiration. The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, so give us a follow or contact us via there. I'm also on Twitter as @karnag, and usually respond a bit quicker on that address especially when I'm out the office.

 Thanks as always to the team at Oui Love Music for all their work introducing French acts to the international audience.

 John K

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Christine and the Queens: Special London Appearance

An announcement today that Christine and the Queens will be marking the release of the second album Chris with a special appearance in London.

The artist known to her family as Heloïse Letissier, and to followers of her latest incarnation as Chris, will be at the Curzon Cinema in Soho on September 16 in conversation with Miranda Sawyer, and answering questions from the audience.

The event is being presented in collaboration between Because Music UK and Rough Trade Records.

You can get tickets by pre-ordering the album from Rough Trade records. You'll also get a pre-signed 12x12 poster insert. All in all a pretty decent deal.

The album Chris is released on September 21, and she's got live dates across the UK in November.

Jean-Michel Jarre: Coachella Opening video

A new video for a new track by French electronic music legend Jean-Michel Jarre.

Coachella Opening is one of two new tracks on a new compilation album Planet Jarre: 50 years of Music which takes a look back over the electronic pioneer's career.

Coachella Opening was created for his appearance at the US festival earlier this year, Jarre saying " It’s based on the repetitive and hypnotic sequences that only electronic instruments can create."

It features 41 tracks, from the well-know like tracks from the Oxygene trilogy and from Equinox, to less well known early works like Erosmachine from 1969, a previously unreleased demo for his Music for Supermarkets album as well as Herbalizer, another new track.

The collection is divided into four parts, Soundscapes, Themes, Explorations and Early Works.

Jarre's been teasing the release of the new album with a series of online clips where he looks back at some of the highlights of his career.

I'm sure there are some fans who'd prefer to see more new material from Jarre, but he's not exactly been idle in recent years with the third part of the Oxygene trilogy and two volumes of the Electonica collaborations series coming out. Add to this some pretty impressive touring, he's certainly keeping busy for an old guy.

Planet Jarre is released on September 14 as 2CD, four-disc vinyl and deluxe cassette (!) editions.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

BB Brunes: Duel au soleil (Deezer Souvenirs d'Été session)

A great version of Etienne Daho's song Duel au soleil by BB Brunes, recorded in a special summer themes season of sessions for Deezer.

Etienne Daho initially recorded the song for his platinum-selling Pop Satori album, a top five album in France following its release in 1986. Duel au Soleil was one of three singles from that album, reaching the top twenty in 1987.

Pop Satori, his third album, was Daho's first major commercially successful collection on the back of the single and EP Tombé pour la France. Daho would - of course - go on to be a major force in French music.

The BB Brunes version comes from a series of sessions recorded by Deezer France under the Souvenirs d'Été banner, which features contemporary French acts covering classic French summer hits. There's a 19-track playlist on Deezer featuring the likes of Therapie Taxi, Angele, Hyphen Hyphen and Feu! Chatterton.

It's well worth giving it a listen, with quite a few of this blog's favourite acts featured on it. Several of the performances are also available on video. I'll no doubt be featuring a few here in the next couple of days.

BB Brunes released their Puzzle album in September last year and saw the band get a nomination for the Best Rock Album category in the Victoires de la Musique awards in February.

They've got live dates around France in October and November.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Thomas Dutronc: Love

Thomas Dutronc releases a cover of the John Lennon song Love ahead of the release of a new acoustic live album due out next month.

While the son of French pop legends Jacques Dutronc and Françoise Hardy, Thomas Dutronc has carved out a very different musical identity, informed more by gypsy guitar than by yé-yé, more jazz than chanson.

His forthcoming album is released on legendary heavyweight jazz label Blue Note records France. His last release was 2015's Éternels jusqu'à demain, which reached the top five in France.

The album was recorded live during a recent tour, and features 50% unreleased songs as well as some of his solo material, all presented acoustically.

The video for the song is a low key but appropriately tasteful affair.

Live is Love is released on September 7. He's got three live dates in Paris at the beginning of October.

Yelle: OMG!!!

A new song by Yelle, celebrating summer just as the winds of autumn come over the horizon and France returns to work, school and studies.

OMG!!! tells the tale of a man who has lost his lust for life, but regains it when the sun returns. However, the video makes clear the subject of this tale is in fact...a hamster.

The clip for the new track is every bit as over the top as we have come to expect from Yelle. I have my suspicions it might not be broadcast on TV in the UK.

Julie Budet wearing nothing but glitter might be a visual metaphor for the sun in the clip, but in the UK it's more something The Sun newspaper might get excited about.

Yelle haven't released an album since 2014's Complètement fou collection, but there has been a steady stream of songs though, including Interpassion and Romeo last year.

They've been playing live extensively - they were on the bill at last weekend's Rock en Seine festival near Paris - and have made some significant inroads in the USA, no doubt on the back of their repeat performances at Coachella and their association with Katy Perry.

They've got shows in the USA from October, including three night in New York in November. Two nights have already sold out. They're back in France in the new year.


Monday, 27 August 2018

Mylène Farmer: Désobéissance album details

More details have emerged about the forthcoming Mylène Farmer album, her 11th studio collection and much-anticipated follow up to 2015's Interstellaires.

With its title confirmed as Désobéissance, as suggested during her appearance on the final of the French edition of The Voice, the new collection comes out on September 28.

The cover of the new album features a portrait of Mylène by French photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, an artist who has had close associations with music throughout his career. He's directed videos by French artists including Téléphone, Les Rita Mitsouko and Vanessa Paradis, as well as more recently videos for Carla Bruni, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sébastien Tellier.

He's also created clips for Madonna, Don Henley, Bryan Ferry and Tom Waits, as well as Prince and David Bowie. But no videos for Mylène. So far anyway.

Mylène fans will notice she seems to be dressed in a style that perhaps suggests the period settings of her Libertine and Désenchantée videos, work that very much helped established her career.

The new album features 12 tracks, including the two singles that have been released so far, Rolling Stone and N'oublie pas. Both singles reached number one in France, as did Interstellaires which went on to sell over 300,000 copies.

Désobéissance was around 80% produced by French DJ Feder, who collaborated with her on the Rolling Stone single.

Mylène is probably the biggest music star in France, with the kind of career that Madonna would be envious of,  and the release of a new album will be one of the biggest events of this year's release schedule. Fans are already speculating that tour dates could be just over the horizon for next year.

Pre-sales of the new album have opened, with CD with a booklet, vinyl and a special collector's edition CD available.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Christine and the Queens: 5 Dollars

A new track from Christine and the Queens ahead of the release of her long-awaited follow up to Chaleur Humaine

5 Dollars follows Damn, Dis-moi and Doesn't Matter (Voleur de soleil) and she's been getting a considerable amount of attention in the UK ahead of her new album, with cover features in Q magazine and with the Sunday Time Culture section.

She's also appeared on Later with Jools Holland and the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon in recent months.

If her debut album made her a big name, every effort's being made to ensure her second album puts her firmly in the A list. She certainly deserves it.

Chris is released on September 21 in two versions, one in French and the other in English.

She's got tour dates from October, with shows in the UK in November and two shows at the Accorhotels Arena in Paris in December.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Arnaud Rebotini: Flowers for Algernon

A new video by Arnaud Rebotini for the track Flowers for Algernon, created using footage found on his phone.

The title track of his debut EP for Berlin based techno label Off Records has a very acid flavour, and sits alongside three other tracks and a remix of Flowers for Algernon.

Rebotini has featured several times on this blog over the years, under his own name or as part of Black Strobe. He's one of France's most interesting and unconventional electronic producers, his musical career including playing in a death metal band and Black Strobe remixing artists as diverse as The Hacker, Royksopp, the Penelopes and Rammstein.

His original soundtrack for the French film 120 Beats Per Minute saw him rewarded with a César Award, an award as significant in French cinema as an Academy Award is to the industry in America.

The title of the new EP comes from a 1950's science fiction novel by Daniel Keyes.

Rebotini has a full schedule of live dates ahead, including a sold-out performance on board a cruise on the Seine in Paris on September 5.

Grand Bland - Los Angeles

If there's one album I'm really looking forward to next month, it's the second album by Grand Blanc.

Grand Blanc are my go-to band when I'm asked to name an astonishingly good French act that aren't widely known in the UK.

Their Mémoires Vives debut, released in 2016, followed their self titles EP and the Montparnasse, both establishing Grand Blanc as one of France's finest modern electro rock acts.

They spent most of last year recording their second album, and have spent much of this year touring in support of Indochine, one of France's biggest acts. They'll have certainly got the full attention of the many Indochine fans that have seen them.

With the album emerging at the start of La Rentreé, France's post summer holiday period, my suspicion is that it will have an absolutely massive impact.

Image Au Mur is released on September 14, and Grand Blanc have tour dates from October. They play La Cigalle in Paris on November 26.

Monday, 6 August 2018

L.E.J. - Liberté, Egalité...

August us traditionally the holiday month in France, with shops and businesses closed, the roads and the trains heading south and to the west busier than usual, and a song by LEJ getting played on repeat on the radio.

This year France's favourite female harmony act are singing the praises of the country's World Cup hero Kylian Mbappé, the teenager credited with their tournament win earlier this summer.

He was the youngest ever French World Cup goalscorer, and also only the second teenager ever to score in a World Cup final, the only previous one being Pelé, who congratulated him on social media. He was awarded the tournament's Fifa World Cup Best Young Player award.

He's a hero now, and his achievements look set to establish him as a legend. It's well deserved. From his rise from AS Bondy to the national team, he's been an inspiration.

The video captures nicely some of the atmosphere of the event. The action might have been on the pitch in Moscow, but the celebrations were on the streets all over France.

The tournament is over, the winners now back home and another season of domestic football is on the immediate horizon. But a summer hit celebrating the historic event keeps that French feel-good factor flowing a little longer.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Madame Monsieur: Comme une reine

A new single from Madame Monsieur, the act who represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year. Comme une reine comes from their Vu d'ici album which was released in April this year.

Emilie and Jean-Karl went to represent France after participating in the Destination Eurovision TV show where viewers chose them as the act they wanted in the competition. They took part in the televised final of the international event in May.

While Mercy might not have won Eurovision, it did win Madame Monsieur a whole lot of new friends around Europe and beyond. Their song was a good one, far better than the novelty acts that usually take to the stage in that competition, and it deftly tackled a difficult subject.

They were a fine indie pop act before Eurovision and they still are.

Like Mercy, the new single has a political dimension with a positive message about body image, but they don't let it get in the way of the song.

They're touring to promote their album, and played at La Cigale in Paris at the end of June. More dates are scheduled around France in coming months.

Columbine : Cache Cache

A controversial new video by Rennes-based hip hop act Columbine, the first track to emerge ahead of their new album expected later this year.

Columbine released their Enfants Terribles album last year, a collection that has already earned them a gold disc, and they are wasting no time in releasing a follow up.

The video for Cache-Cache ("Hide and seek" in English)  is a strange and quietly disturbing piece, making reference to school shootings. The school prom setting is a scene familiar to anyone who has ever seen an American TV show or film, the members of the band on stage and showing no emotion or involvement whatsoever, the conclusion apparently being a romantic happy ending where the shooter finds love.

It's an ambiguous work with many possible interpretations, all the more so as the act's name obviously makes reference to the infamous American school shooting.

Are they trivialising very real and very tragic events?

How should we react to artists who apparently remain passive in the face of these kind of events?

Do the performers in the video represent a government that fails to intervene?

Does the entertainment industry with its stylised portrayal of violence play a part?

What part do gender stereotypes play in these incidents?

Would an American artist make a video like this and what kind of criticism would they face?

Many questions. It's a video that provokes some difficult reflection.

Columbine's album is released inn the autumn, and they have tour dates across France from October, including two shows at the Olympia in Paris on October 23 and 24.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Zazie: Speed

A new video for the track Speed by Zazie, a song from her forthcoming new album.

She's been a big star in France since her 1995 Zen album, her most recent - 2015's Encore Heureux - reaching the top five in France.

Recently she's been had a high profile in France due to her role since 2015 as one of the coaches on The Voice: La Plus Belle Voix, the French edition of the reality TV show. One of her team, Maelle Pistoia, was the winner of this year's season of the show . It was the second time one of her acts won the competition.

Speed features on her forthcoming album Essenciel - her tenth - which is due to be released on September 7.  That;s not a typo, incidentally. Wordplay, puns and changing the meaning of words by altering their context or spelling have always been a thing for Zazie all through her career.

The track emerged in May, but a video didn't come out until recently. There's maybe  something of Christine and the Queens in the choreography, which isn't a bad thing by any measure.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Oui Love: Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra and Bon Voyage Organisation

Another night of quality live French music in London tomorrow, with another night organised by the good folks at Oui Love Music Made in France showcasing two of the country's most promising acts.

Taking the stage at Archspace are Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra and Bon Voyage Organisation.

Lucien & The Kimono Orchestra have just released a video for the track Horizon, a finely crafted piece of dreamy pop from the Paris-based four piece. It's the title track of the band's recently released EP.

Also playing are Bon Voyage Organisation, who brought their cosmic dance music to Les Francofolies de La Rochelle. I like what they do and will be featuring them again soon.

Looks like a pretty fine evening's entertainment, and given that it's under £10 pretty much a bargain by London standards.

France wins the World Cup: Music stars react

It was a weekend of historic proportions in France. No sooner were the festivities for July 14 out the way than France  picked up the biggest trophy in international sport.

It was an exciting few weeks watching the team's steady progress, knowing full well that any slip up in the later stages would have ended their hopes.

Their victory in 1990 was something special, but with the World Cup actually in France that year the stars seemed aligned in their favour. This time they faced an uphill struggle, and  rose to the challenge magnificently.

Despite not being a big football fan, during the last few World Cup finals I've bought a reproduction France top. Each time the team has crashed out without making much of an impression. This year, needless to say I didn't bother. Obviously that gave them the push they needed to bring the cup back home with them from Moscow.

The France team's win always seems more significant given the number of players with roots outside France, particularly in Africa. It's a reminder that France is at its best when all the country's communities work together and hopefully another step towards eliminating racism from French society.

While the action might have been on the football pitch, France's musicians have been quick to involve themselves in the celebrations. There are so many crossovers between the worlds of sport and music, whether athletes being fans of musicians to artists supporting sports stars, musicians creating songs for events to teams and supporters adopting songs that suit their cause.

Benjamin Biolay, Julien Doré, Jean-Michel Jarre and Jenifer were among the big names who showed their delight across social media.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z wore France tops during their show at the Stade de France.

Meanwhile, iTunes in France had 70s disco anthem I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor in the number one position. Gloria Gaynor herself congratulated the team on their victory. It's a song in France so associated with the National Team than the cover version by Hermes House Band recorded for the 1998 World Cup campaign is at number two.

Also selling significantly are the Queen song We Are The Champions and even La Marseillaise as well as the more obvious Live It Up, the anthem for this year's competition by Nicky Jam, Will Smith and Era Istrefi.

It was an astonishing event for the whole of France, and with sport and music closely entwined it was also a victory for French music as well.

Friday, 13 July 2018

La Femme: Live in the UK

There's a great opportunity this weekend to see one of France's best recent bands playing in the UK, with La Femme playing sets at both the Latitude festival in Suffolk today and at the Citadel festival in London on Sunday.

They've been playing festivals in mainland Europe over the past few days, in the Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia. After their visit here they play France, Hungary, Ireland and the Basque country.

Their Mystère album was one of the French music highlights of 2016, reaching the top ten in France.

A video for the track Elle ne t'aime pas was released in May.

Since their album release they've been playing live extensively, reinforcing their reputation as one of France's finest live acts.

It's a great opportunity to experience some of this in the UK this weekend.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Baloji – L’Hiver Indien (Bruxelles Ma Belle session)

A great session in the Bruxelles Ma Belle series that takes an act and places them in an interesting and filmic location somewhere in Brussels.

This session sees him perform at the city's Royal army and military history museum.

The track originally features on his 137 Avenue Kaniama album, which was released in March on Bella Union records.

It's his fourth solo album, his career as an MC and rapper starting in the 90s when he was a teenager as part of the hip hop band Starfam. After four albums with band, he briefly quit music before returning as a solo artist.

Dominique A: TV5Monde Acoustic session

I've been catching up on a few things I'd missed over the past few weeks, and thought the live session by Dominique A from TV5Monde was a great performance that really deserved a mention here, even if it was originally broadcast a few weeks ago.

Dominique A was on the show to perform tracks from his new album Tout Latitude, his 11th collection, the first of two albums he's got planned for 2018.

Following the tour for his Eléor album he spoke about how he found himself inspired by contradictory ideas.

His electric tour inspired him to write more acoustic songs that were strong on melody, but he also found himself simultaneously drawn towards more rhythmic and repetitive work.

He took these two strands, separated them and came up with the content for two differently flavoured releases.

His performance on Acoustic gave him the opportunity to showcase some of his new work, and to discuss it with the show's host.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Main Square and Beauregard Festivals 2018

It's another summer weekend in France, so there are no shortage of live music events across the country and this weekend sees two of the biggest - Main Square and Beauregard festivals.

 Main Square festival takes place in Arras today, Saturday and Sunday. This year's acts include Depeche Mode, Queens of the Stone Age and Liam Gallagher. Other international acts to take the stage include The Breeders, Jamiroquai and Damian Marley.

The festival has a strong line-up, with a particularly fine selection of French acts, most of which are no strangers to this blog.

The acts representing the local country include Orelsan, IAM, Nekfeu and Justice. Gojira, Girls in Hawaii, Roméo Elvis and BB Brunes are also on the bill. It's a pretty wide selection, from rap to metal to indie and dance, but if there's one thing linking them it's the fact that they're all at the top of  their game right now.

Elsewhere in France, Beauregard is also a pretty big event, held in Hérouville-Saint-Clair in Normandy.  It's certainly got its share of interesting acts and while there is some crossovevr with Main Square, there are a few differences too.

Among the French acts are Charlotte Gainsbourg, Orelsan and Petit Biscuit as well as Hollysiz, Nekfeu, Carpenter Brut and Ibeyi.

If the international acts are more how you measure it, you'll find Jack White, Simple Minds, The Offspring, MGMT along with At the Drive In and Macklemore.

Beauregard has an extra day at the end, aptly called The Day After, which features Depeche Mode and Girls in Hawaii along with Concrete Knives. Interesting to see two of France's top indie bands supporting the Mode. That will be quite a show.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Juliette Armanet: A la folie (rework)

A new single by Juliette Armanet is always something to celebrate, and while A la folie has already appeared on her Petite Amie album, a new version of it gives the song an entirely new context.

A new version of her debut album was released recently, with an extra four tracks.

Petite Amie has certainly established Armanet as an artist, the album having sold over 100,000 copies and won the breakthrough album award in the Victoires de la Musique awards in February.

Her work has seen her compared to some of France's classic singer songwriters and in the space of a couple of years she's gone from developing artist to an act who sells out shows in Paris and plays in front of massive festival crowds such as this month's Les Francofolies de La Rochelle.

The crown she's wearing on the album sleeve is certainly well deserved.

There are, as I've mentioned repeatedly, a huge number of significant female artists emerging in France in recent years, from Christine to Fishbach, and there's little doubt that Juliette Armanet deserves her place at the forefront.

Fnac Live Paris 2018 festival

Today sees this year's Fnac Live Paris festival get under way, with a strong bill of acts performing live at the Hôtel de Ville  in the centre of the French capital.

From 5pm until midnight on July 5, 6 and 7 there are acts playing in the square outside the historic seat of local government, as well as some acts performing their sets inside.

Today sees L'Impératrice, Jeanne Added, Voyou, Petit Biscuit and Vitalic, while Dominique A performs indoors.

Tomorrow has Angele, Synapson and Feder among others while Sting and Shaggy play indoors. Saturday includes L'ordre du périph, Gaelle Faye and Ibeyi. 

Each day also has a playlist from a leading French indie label, Enterprise, Believe and STRN.

While there's no denying it's a great bill, it's also worth noting that it's free. You could hardly imagine a similar event being staged in London without a hefty ticket price.

 I know there are strong arguments against music being involved with commercial organisations, but when the end result is an event that is not only artistically robust but also accessible to all, there's no denying the merit of it. 

Fnac is of course one of France's biggest consumer brands for buying music, so it's a really positive thing to see them stage an event like this. It encourages interest in music, gets the acts to potential fans and benefits the brand. Everyone wins!

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Alain Chamfort :Tout est pop

A lovely little video by veteran French artist Alain Chamfort, who clearly knows who actually are the real stars of the internet.

The clip for Tout est pop claims to be the first music video made by cats.

It's certainly not the worst camera work I've seen, although I'm not sure how they'd cope with the post production, but I'm pretty sure they'd use a mouse rather than a keyboard for the editing.

I'm just grateful they let Chamfort take care of the singing.

It's nice to see an artist like Chamfort come up with a clever clip like this. Like all my favourite music videos, it's a simple idea done well.

The track Tout est pop comes from Chamfort's recent Le désordre des choses album, which was released in April.

Chamfort's got live dates in France towards the end of the year, with a show at the Trianon in Paris on November 15. There are no details as to whether his new entourage will be with him or not.

La Ferme Electrique

With festival season truly upon us, it's easy to focus on the big ticket events, where tens of thousands get to see dozens of big international acts somewhere in the distance.

There are sometimes even a few French acts thrown into the running order, all too often its the same few acts playing across France's summer festivals , promoting whatever they released a few months ago, before they do their headline tour across France in the autumn.

So I always like festivals that are a bit different, with their own distinct identity and a carefully curated line up of artists, especially when you can see them up close.

That's where events like La Ferme Electrique come in. LFE has been quietly running for several years now, 2018 is the ninth edition of the event, taking place in the countryside at Tournan-en-Brie, a short ride from Paris.

This year the two day event features Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp, Sister Iodine, Snapped Ankles, The Monochrome Set and Hyperculte, to name just a few of the dozens of artists on the bill.

Maybe you know a few of them, maybe there are some you're not familiar with, but events like this give emerging artists a loyal following that a slot at the bottom of the bill in a tiny tent at a local enormofest never will. There's much to enjoy here, in the kind of setting you'll never experience even if you've paid hundreds of pounds to stay in your own private yurt with catering and a butler at some massively sponsored commercial event,

Over and above the live sets, there are art exhibitions and installations as well as screenings of music films

True, you won't get to see any of this summer's big names. But who needs to see them anyway? La Ferme Electrique is the kind of event that restores your faith in music and in festivals.

La Ferme Electrique runs on July 6 and 7  in Tournan-en-Brie.