Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Grand Corps Malade and the César Award nominations

The César Awards shortlist is unveiled today.

It's a prestigious event, like its American equivalent The Oscars, and among the music related nominations, it's a real pleasure to see one of the biggest figures in France's music scene at the receiving end of four nominations.

His film Patients is on the shortlisted for four awards, best adaptation, best first film, best male hope and. most significantly, best film.

Patients is set in a rehabilitation centre for those with disabilities. Some, like the film's protagonist Ben played by César nominated Pablo Pauly, as a result of an accident, others from birth. It tells of the struggle, despair and resignation they face, as well as the friendship and hope they experience as a consequence of their difficulties.

The film was directed by Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir.

Elsewhere in the César shortlist, music related films are at the forefront of this year's main contenders.

A biopic of the chanteuse Barbara is nominate in eight different categories, including best film and best female hope for Jeanne Balibar who took on the lead role.

Elsewhere, 120 battements par minute is set in the early years of the 80s Aids outbreak and tells the story of activists involved in the early fight, with Bronski Beat's anthem Smalltown Boy taking on a central part in the film. It's got 13 nominations and previously won the Cannes film festival Grand Jury prize.

Meanwhile, singer Camélia Jordana, star of TV reality show Nouvelle Star is in the running hfor best female hope for her role in the movie Le Brio, where she starred alongside Daniel Auteuil.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is nominated for best actress for her part in La promesse de l'aube.

The César awards ceremony takes place on March 2 in Paris.

Eurovision 2018: Madame Monsieur

It often feels like a duty to report on France's Eurovision Song Contest involvement. Despite its high profile, it reflects little of what's actually going on in French music, and as a showcase for talent it leaves most international viewers with the impression that things haven't really moved on since the Eurotrash 80s and that Anglo pop remains the measure by which contemporary music from other countries is compared and found wanting.

So a bit of a surprise that France chose a song this year that isn't actually too bad. This year's representative is the song Mercy, performed by Madame Monsieur, a duo of Emilie and Jean-Karl.

The song speaks about the European migrant crisis, a first person tale of one child born in the midst of it, and the volunteers who help. It's a positive song that doesn't shy away from a difficult contemporary issue.

In an interview the performers said it wasn't a political lesson, they made clear their attitude wasn't about politics but about humanity. They worked with volunteers from SOS Méditerranée in creating the song.

It will be interesting to see how it stands up in the contest. France as always will be automatically in the final round of the competition.

Eurovision 2018 is held in May in Lisbon.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Goldman, 40 ans de chansons

A typically star-studded musical spectacle on TF1 tonight paying tribute to songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman on the 40th anniversary of his career.

Goldman, who now lives a quiet life in London, has all but retired from the music scene but the 2012 Generation Goldman tribute album and its follow up collection rekindled a massive interest in his work after a younger generation of artists covered his songs.

The show tonight features many of those involved in Generation Goldman, with a bill including Nolwenn Leroy, M Pokora, Vianney, Christophe Willem and Garou amongst many others.

Ahead of the show, some of its stars have recorded a version of Goldman's Au bout de mes rêves, a track from Goldman's 1982 self-titled album album.

Slimane: Solune

January 25 sees the release of the second album by Slimane, a follow up to his 2016 debut  À bout de rêves.

Slimane Nebchi was the winner of season five of The Voice: La plus belle voix in 2016. Of the four judges who wanted him after the blind auditions where he performed Vitaa's À fleur de toi, he chose to work with Florent Pagny.

He won the popular vote in the final after performing songs by Francis Cabrel, Christophe Mae and a duet with Florent Pagny.

His debut album was a number one in France and Belgium, the single Paname reaching the top ten.

While there are plenty of questions about whether or not reality TV shows are a valid platform for emerging artists, it does seem to me that these shows in France have produced some quality acts. True, many of these might have made a commercial breakthrough by other means, but we no longer live in a situation where music companies can readily invest in artists over a matter of years. A TV show can raise the profile of an artist in ways that many years of expensive promotion cannot.

Slimane has tour dates around France from March, and he plays the Zenith in Paris on April 7.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Judah Warsky: La Voiture Ivre

As I noted last week, this year has so far been marked by the return of artists I've featured on this blog early in their careers releasing new material that has surprised and impressed me.

The idea of the artists facing a 'difficult album' after their debut seems to have gone, with artists producing confident works that show they have developed their skills displayed in their earlier work, taken things to a new level and gone beyond expectations.

I was looking back at a previous post about Judah Warsky and I found that it was posted within a few days of an earlier post about Owlle.

Judah Warsky is already onto his third album, with La Voiture Ivre the first single from the recently released Avant/Après album.

2012's magnificently titled Painkillers and Alcohol and 2014's Bruxelles showed Warsky was a singular talent among electronic artists, Painkillers and Alcohol described right here on this blog as 'a strange and unique piece of work.'

I was delighted to get his track Bruxelles, capital de l'europe featured on the soundtrack of a Scottish political news programme on a report about European politics. A lot has changed since then, but that distinctiveness he's always displayed remains to the fore Avant/Après.

There's no one like him and long may that continue.

Barbagallo: L'échappée

A sparkling piece of modern French psych from Barbagallo with the track L'échappée coming ahead of a new album.

While Julien Barbagallo is these days pretty well known as a member of Tame Impala, his work as a solo artist and as part of Aquaserge puts him at the centre of France's contemporary psyche scene.

The track comes from his forthcoming album Danse Dans Les Ailleurs, his third solo album, following 2016's Grand Chien and 2015's Amor de Lonh.

Unlike his earlier solo works, which were created on the road with Tame Impala, his new album was recorded in a studio. He chose to record in the Lot area of France, in a studio located in a converted historic building in a rural setting, a former medieval farm where Nino Ferrer lived and worked in the 1970s.

He said: "I wanted a place that would encourage contemplation and whose atmosphere would leave a subtle mark on the recordings.

"The Barberine studio in the Lot district of France met my expectations all contributed to the magi I needed to record those new songs."

Barbagallo have four live dates in the UK next month, with shows in London, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

The Limiñanas: Shadow People on C à Vous

Lovely to see an appearance by The Limiñanas earlier tonight on French TV chat show C à Vous.

It's hard to imagine in the UK an early evening light entertainment show aimed at the widest teatime audience putting on such impressive musical acts.

The Limiñanas have recently released their latest album, Shadow People and while the kind of act that have a cult following and critical acclaim, they're a long way off from the mainstream.

That being said, their 60s psyche infused pop goes down a treat and there really is no reason whatsoever for them to have the widespread acclaim they deserve.

The performance sees a guest appearance by actress and singer Emmanuelle Seigner on vocals.

The Limiñanas are touring extensively, and play at Rough Trade in London tomorrow. They're back to France for dates around the country and play at Le Trianon in Paris on March 29.

Mylène Farmer: Rolling Stone

After months of speculation that new material  was on its way, Mylène Farmer has dropped a new track.

The trailer for the film Ghostland, Mylène's first since 1994, came out last week and was quickly followed by a brief video suggesting the imminent release of the track Rolling Stone.

That track has now come out, a slice of Bollywood flavoured electro pop that sees Mylène working with French DJ/producer Feder. 

Feder's debut single Goodbye was a number one in France and a massive hit elsewhere in 2015, and he's gone on to release more deep house flavoured tracks.

Following the release of Rolling Stone, Feder said on his Facebook page: "Congrats Mylene, glad to be part of the adventure!"

Where that adventure goes next, there's little official word but as always with Mylène there's plenty of speculation. Worth remembering that she's probably France's biggest living music star now, so any new album or tour by her is kind of a big deal. 

Her last album, 2015's Interstellaires, which featured the track Stolen Car - a duet with Sting produced by French DJ The Avener - was a triple platinum seller in France and a top ten hit in 16 countries. It also featured her 14th and 15th number one singles in France.

Since then she's quit Universal Music, where she had been since the start of her career, and signed to Sony Music.

There's no video as yet for Rolling Stone, but one is apparently being shot in Prague and is likely to come out in early February

Ghostland, meanwhile, comes out in France on March 14, with a two days before that at the Grand Rex in Paris. Mylène Farmer expected to attend the event along with the other stars of the movie.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Girls in Hawaii: Indifference - Bruxelles Ma Belle session

A tasteful new session by Girls in Hawaii shot at Brussels Central Station for Bruxelles Ma Belle.

The city's central station isn't normally the most scenic part of Brussels, even though it sees its fair share of tourists.

But a well shot video blog, a great band with a  great song can make all the difference.

Girls in Hawaii have been around since 2003, building up a serious reputation in Belgium and France, with several albums in the top ten in Belgium and 2008's Plan Your Esape making the top 40 in France.

Girls in Hawaii released their Nocturne album last year, and have a schedule of dates around France  from now until their appearances at festivals over the summer.

Halo Maud: Du Pouvoir/Power

Halo Maud's UK debut EP Du Pouvoir/Power features a version of the title track partially re-written in English. It's a powerful track and it works in whatever language you speak.

The EP with its new version of the song is released on Heavenly Recordings, one of the UK's finest purveyors of tasteful indie tunes.

The four track Du Pouvoir/Power EP follows the Paris-based artist's track Baptism.

She said: "It is all about the beginning and the end: Baptism being the second birth (START), Du Pouvoir dealing with self-confidence and how to find your place in the world (CONSTRUCTION), and À La Fin (literally "At The END"), about what we keep and lose after love has gone.

"Dans La Nuit is actually the very first song I wrote in French, and has all been written during the night, and dans la nuit, we float, we escape until the next day is coming.

"The fact that I finally refused to choose between French and English ended up making sense when I signed to Heavenly Recordings, a double sign from heaven!"

Halo Maud has got dates around the UK next month supporting Baxter Dury with her very first show in London on February 23 before returning to France for shows around the country for the next two weeks.

Fishbach: Mortel

A new video by Fishbach, with the clip for the track Mortel capturing some of her live performances.

If there's an artist who deserves to move things up to the next level it's Fishbach. Her A ta merci was one of the highlights of 2017, and she's built on the critical acclaim it generated with a solid audience thanks to her indefatigable touring.

The clip for Mortel was shot at the Les Eurockéennes de Belfort festival, Fnac Live, Le Cabaret Vert and at the Bataclan in Paris.

She's in the shortlist for the breakthrough artist award of this year's Victoires de la Musique awards, giving her an even bigger showcase for her work in front of the French public.

It an only be a matter of time until she's got the same mainstream recognition as Christine and the Queens.

In the meantime, she's still on tour with a series of dates around France continuing until next month.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Coeur de Pirate: Prémonition

A new track and accompanying video marking the return of Coeur de Pirate ahead of an album that marks the tenth anniversary of her career.

Coeur de Pirate's last album was 2015's Roses, an album that reached the top five in Canada and in France.

Since then she's spoken about the possibility of stopping making music, finishing her career and her wish to return to anonymity.

Recent months have seen something of a change of heart though, as since November she's appeared as one of the judges on Nouvelle Star on France's M6 channel.

The high-profile reality show is the French version of Pop Idol, and its 13th series on French TV saw Coeur de Pirate alongside Benjamin Biolay and music industry figures Nathalie Noennec and Dany Synthé.

The show came to its conclusion with the victory of Xavier Matheu in a public vote on December 20.

Her new album, her fourth proper colletion, is expected in the spring. She's confirmed a live date at the Olympia in Paris on October 9.

Laura Cahen at the IFRU

A reminder that this week sees French artist Laura Cahen perform at the Institut français du Royaume-Uni in London as part of the Night of Ideas event being held there on January 25.

Cahen will be performing in the IFRU's reading room, and will then take part in a question and answer session with the audience.

The Night of Ideas at the Institut français features experts from a wide variety of fields, with debate and discussion in areas from music to science, literature to politics with names as varied and as significant as film maker Ken Loach and astronaut Tin Peake.

Laura Cahen's debut album Nord was released last year, a follow up to her five track EP from 2015.

She operates in a unique space that takes elements of jazz, chanson and folk music to make something quite distinctive with a voice that is as surprising as it is haunting.

The Night of Ideas event takes place on January 25 and is free, but advance booking his required. There's more information here.

Charlotte Gainsbourg: I'm a lie

Another new video from Charlotte Gainsbourg, with the track I'm a lie the latest to come from her Rest album.

The song actually makes me think more of Gainsbourg père than most of her other reent work. Something about the repetition of the haunting classical refrain.

I could imagine old Serge performing to a 21st century electronic soundtrack. He always kept across what was happening musically so it would be no surprise for him to have gone in that direction if he was still around.

Charlotte's Rest album really is an outstanding piece of work, each video demands a fresh listen to the track it features, and each listen gives you a bit more from the track that you maybe didn't previously catch. It's a dense and rewarding work.

The video, like the previous clips from the album, was directed by Charlotte herself. And again, she's made a pretty fine job of it.

Charlotte has announced a series of live dates from February, with shows in Switzerland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Japan and the UK.

She plays at La Cigale in Paris on March 28, and at Village Underground in London the following day.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Le Prince Miiaou: Closure

I'm still catching up with some of the releases that came out towards the end of last year, and the track Closure by  Le Prince Miiaou is certainly one that deserves a mention here.

Maud-Élisa Mandeau, as she's known to her friends and family, is one of the many striking female solo artists to emerge in France in recent years.

She's released four albums so far, the most recent being 2014's Where is the Queen? , a sharp collection that featured the likes of Happy Song For Empty People and JFK.

Closure is the first taste of her new album expected later this year, and while the edgy and epic electronics of Closure suggest a move from her earlier indie rock based sound, the distinctive voice with a quirky and smart style remains.

Le Prince Miiaou certainly deserves her crown, and if there's any justice 2018 will see Le Prince Miiaou take her rightful place on the throne.

Owlle: In the dark

If there's one trend that seems to be emerging in 2018, it's the return of acts I've previously featured on this blog returning with new material that's every bit as strong as the work that first grabbed my attention.

Another of these acts is Owlle, with the new tack In the dark. Owlle - known as France Picoulet to her friends and family - is one of the many impressive female artists that have emerged in the last few years in France.

Owlle first got our attention with songs like Ticky Ticky, followed by her debut album France in 2014.

Speaking about the new release on Facebook, she commented: "I'm back and ready to shine." There's no argument with that.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Mylène Farmer: Ghostland film

The trailer has come out of a new horror film Ghostland starring Mylène Farmer, who is now, following the death of Johnny, probably France's biggest music star.

Farmer's last excursion into film was in 1994, with Giorgino, a movie described as a horror/adventure directed by Farmer's regular collaborator Laurent Boutonnat.

Ghostland is directed by Pascal Laugier, a French horror movie director behind movies like Saint Ange, Martyrs and 2012's The Tall Man.

More recently he directed Farmer's City of Love video for the track that featured on her 2015 Interstellaires album.

There was talk of a new Mylène album before the end of 2017, but that came to nothing, but there remains a possibility of a new release later this year with rumours of a 2019 tour to follow an album. We'll see what happens.

Ghostland has a release date of March 14 in France with a premier on March 12 at the Grand Rex in Paris with Mylène Farmer expected to attend the event along with the other stars of the movie.

Brigitte - Palladium on C à Vous

A live appearance on French TV chat show C à Vous by Brigitte, with a track from their most recent album.

Aurélie and Sylivie take their knowing homage to 70s Euro easy listening to a teatime audience, and serve up something cheesier than a raclette.  

Palladium comes from their most recent album Nues, released in November last year. It's their fourth album, and while looking like a novelty act, they've managed to create an impression since their 2011 debut Et vous, tu m'aimes? , an album which reached the top five in France.

Their most recent, 2014's À bouche que veux-tu saw the videos for the singles directed by Aurélie Saada, and a mini album of orchestral versions of tracks from that album came out the following year.

Brigitte are about to set off on tour, with dates in France from January 20 including a run of shows at the Olympia in Paris in May.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Dita Von Teese and Sebastien Tellier: Bird of Prey

A new track from burlesque artist Dita Von Teese from her forthcoming album that sees her collaborate with Sebastien Tellier.

Tellier has often found himself labelled with the 'new Serge Gainsboug' title in the Anglophone media. Mostly  I suspect - because the Anglophone media can't name many other French artists apart from Gainsbourg.

But writing an album for a female artist who wasn't much previously known as a singer was exactly the kind of thing Gainsbourg did, from Brigitte Bardot to Isabelle Adjani, not forgetting the album he wrote for his partner Bambou and the first album by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Bird of prey follows the track Rendez-vous which emerged in November, and sounds very much like something Tellier would have cooked up, even with unfamiliar vocals. Exotic, with a psychedelic flavour and a tasteful retro yet very modern feel.

Von Teese is of course much better known to an Anglophone audience, especially in the USA where she's a proper A-list celebrity. Working with Tellier shows she's got a pretty high standard of musical awareness, I'm sure there's no shortage of artists who would work with her, and if it giver Tellier a higher profile in the US, all the better.

The debut album by Dita Von Teese is released on February 16.

Cats on trees: Keep on dancing

Remember Cats on Trees? Of course you do. Siren's Call was a charming piece of French indie appropriation of a very English style song, and it quite rightly became a massive hit in 2013, reaching the top three in the French charts.

Their self-titled debut was released that year and it made the top ten in France, the following year singer Nina Goern and musical collaborator Yohan Hennequin picked up a Victoires de la Musique award for best breakthrough album for the collection.

But other than a stint as coaches on The Belgian edition of The Voice, there's not been a lot to report in terms of new releases since then.

So it's good to report a new track with an accompanying video, and a new album due out shortly.

Keep on dancing take the duo in a slightly different direction. More dancefloor, less Belle and Sebastain perhaps, but the charm that helped establish them is still there.

The new album by Cats on Trees, entitled Neon,  is due out on March 16. They play at La Cigale in Paris on May 16.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Feu! Chatterton: Ginger

Delighted to see another new track from Feu! Chatterton emerge ahead of the release of their second album. Ginger following the tracks L'ivresse and Souvenir, both of which emerged towards the end of last year.

Their new album is to be titled L'oiseleur and comes out on March 9.

No video this time, but not a problem. This is a strong release, and will sit well on any album.

Their Ici Le Jour (A Tout Enseveli) debut was one of my favourite releases in recent years, an eloquent work carried off with character and style.

Les Inrocks website, an authority on such matters, described them this week as 'one of the most interesting French groups of their generation', something we could only agree with.

The prospect of a new Feu! Chatterton album really makes me thing that 2018 is quietly shaping up to be a vintage year for French music. It's just one of a number of albums by some of our favourite acts with releases scheduled over the forthcoming weeks. It's a long way from Easter and there are already three or four that I reckon could be pretty significant ready to come out.
Feu! Chatterton are touring extensively across France in March, April and May and play at the Bataclan in Paris on April 9 and 10.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Bagarre: Danser seul (ne suffit pas)

We always enjoy a bit of a Bagarre here, so it was a real pleasure to see a new video from the band emerge over the weekend.

Danser seul (ne suffit pas) is the second track to appear ahead of the release of their debut album in February.

It follows the track Béton armé which was released in November but which we featured here just the other week. We really can sometimes be that lazy.

Like all their previous videos, it's a striking piece of work. Bagarre have really an instinct for matching their brand of smart indie/electro with the absolutely correct video. Humorous, ironic and clever, without trying too hard and unafraid to make themselves look ridiculous, the tone is always absolutely right.

Their debut album Club 12345 is released on February 23, and Bagarre play La Cigale in Paris on April 10.

Dominique A: Toute latitude

A new song with a striking video by Dominique A. Toute latitude is the title track of his forthcoming album, due to be released in March.

The video by Sébastien Laudenbach is one of four that will accompany the album, the other three being released in the run-up to the album's release. The four videos for Toute latitude will fit together to a larger complete video.

Laudenbach previously created the award winning animated film La jeune fille sans mains and also created the sleeve for the new album.

Toute latitude is Dominique A's 11th studio album, and it follows Éléor, released in 2015. That album featured the song Au revoir mon amour, a favourite of this blog. Éléor built on the critical and commercial success of 2012's  Vers Les Lueurs, which saw him picking up the best male artist award at the following year's Victoire de la musique award ceremony.

Despite his long and successful career, Dominique A is not taking it easy by any means. He said recently that following his tour for Éléor he found himself inspired by contradictory ideas for new sounds and writing. He was drawn towards rhythmic and repetitive versions of older texts, while the electric atmosphere of live performance giving him the opposing desire for melody and acoustic songs.

The consequence of this is that he's now got two albums set to come out in 2018, the first - Toute latitude - a rock album in the spring, the second - La fragilité - a more acoustic set scheduled for the autumn. There will also be two tours corresponding to the different collections.

Dominique A announced the first of these tour dates last month, and has lined up a series of shows around France in March, April and May.

He has two special shows in Paris on April 14 and 15, when he plays a la Philharmonie de Paris

Friday, 12 January 2018

French album covers of 2017...what's going on?

Maybe it's just my selective viewing, but there really seems to be something going on with album covers released by French solo artists over the past year or so.

Yeah, I know I'm maybe being selective, but none the less...

French, black and white, moody, solo artist released in 2017. 

Am I missing any from the set?

Bagarre - Béton armé

I missed featuring the new track Béton armé by Bagarre when it was released at the end of November, but there's plenty of reason to feature it and catch up with what they're up to.

The video is every bit as striking as the one they created for Claque-le and the song as memorable as anything they've done.

Their last major release was 2015's Musique du Club EP, a five track collection that featured not only Claque-le but also Le gouffre and Ris Pas. Like their debut Bonsoir nous sommes Bagarre EP from 2014, there's not a bad track on it.

Bagarre finally release their debut album on February 23 on Disques Enterprise, the home of some of France's finest acts including Fishbach, Moodoid and Grand Blanc.

Bagarre tour aross France from March, with a date at La Cigale in Paris on April 10. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Laura Cahen: #nightofideas at the IFRU London

A French music event worth getting in your diary if you live in London is an appearance by Laura Cahen at the Institut français du Royaume-Uni at the end of January.

Laura Cahen's album Nord was released last year, and it confirms her as a distinctive artist, with what Les Inrocks describes as a "a beautiful promise full of melancholic beauty."

Her performance in the historic reading room of the IFRU in London will be followed by a question and answer session.

Cahen is just one of the guests at the event that features international guests from a wide variety of fields, from film maker Ken Loach to astronauts Tim Peak and Thomas Pesquet, amid a large bill of writers, philosophers, scientists and politicians.

The Night of Ideas event takes place on January 25 and is free, but advance booking his required. There's more information here.

Feu! Chatterton: L'ivresse

Another new clip from Feu! Chatterton ahead of the release of their second album,

It follows the track Souvenir, which emerged at the end of November, but L'ivresse has a quite different feel to it.

L'ivresse came out just before the Christmas holiday season, giving everyone plenty of time to experience it over the last couple of weeks.

I'm a huge fan of Feu! Chatterton and the prospect of a new album from them is one of the things to look forward to in 2018.

Their debut was one of my favourite releases in recent years, articulate and intelligent but also stylish and playful at the same time. Clever and musically inventive without being too serious, and shot through with the kind of flavour you can only really get from being immersed in a French cultural backdrop.

Feu! Chatterton are touring extensively in March, April and May and play at the Bataclan in Paris on April 9 and 10.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

French flavour at Coachella 2018

The bill for this year's Coachella festival in California sees a noticeable number of French artists this year.

It's a big event, arguably the most prominent music festival in the USA. Given its proximity to LA, it's a major platform for artists aiming to establish themselves in the entertainment industry and to mix with some of the biggest showbiz industry figures.

Remarkably one French act playing this year doesn't really need to establish himself, given that he's already sold more albums than most artists could ever dream of and established and repeatedly broke the world record for concert attendances. But Jean-Michel Jarre has always been a forward-looking artist and has made a career of a pioneering new ideas.

For all his heritage, he's probably aware that many of the well-heeled young Americans won't have heard of him, but given his electronics not only laid the foundations for much of the contemporary music but also continues to push the boundaries and create music every bit as interesting as many younger acts, he should have no trouble convincing the crowd he's a million miles away from a nostalgia act.

French electronics also feature with Carpenter Brut, no strangers to this blog, who play further down the bill on the opening day.

Honorary French artist Benjamin Clementine plays too, Ibeyi are playing in the Sunday and a sharp eye also reveals Petit Biscuit also on stage on day three.

True, none of the French acts have billing over Eminem, Beyoncé or The Weeknd

Coachella festival is held on two weekends, April 13, 14 and 15 and the following weekend April 20, 21 and 22, with the same artists playing each weekend.

Victoires de la Musique 2018 nominations

Details have been released of the nominations for the 2018 Victoires de la Musique awards, the French music awards that can be compared to the Brit awards or the Grammys.

It's a big annual event, a high profile showcase for French music, and it always gets significant media coverage. It also, significantly, focuses on French acts. This year sees the 33rd edition of the Victoires de la Musique awards.

As is all to often the case with this kind of event, there are few surprises, but as always, the breakthough artist and breakthough album categories are the ones that interest this blog the most. Nice to see Fishbach and Petit Biscuit get some recognition. Events and awards like this can give major exposure to developing artists, introducing them to a farn wider audience and help them take their careers to a new level. It wasn't that long ago that Christine and the Queens were playing at small festivals and in nightclub sized venues.

Orelsan leads the nomination, with three mentions - best male artist, best urban album for La fête est finie and best video (or best audiovisual presentation, as it likes to be called by friends) for Basic.

There are two nominations each for Louane (best female artist and best original song) and for BigFlo & Oli (best urban music album and best original song.)

Best male artist
Bernard Lavilliers

Best female artist
Charlotte Gainsbourg
Catherine Ringer

Breakthrough artist
Eddy De Pretto
Gaël Faye

Breakthrough album
Aliose - Comme on respire
Juliette Armanet - Petite amie
Petit biscuit - Présence

Best chanson album
Brigitte - Nues
Albin de la Simone - L'un de nous
MC Solaar - Géopoétique

Best rock album
BB Brunes - Puzzle
Lady Sir - Accidentally Yours
Shaka Ponk - The Evol

Best urban music album
BigFlo & Oli - La vraie vie
Lomepal - Flip
Orelsan - La fête est finie

Best world music album
Amadou et Mariam - La confusion
M - Toumani et Sidiki Diabaté - Lamomali
Oumou Sangare - Mogoya

Best electro album
ALB - Deux
Dominique Dalcan - "empérance
Fakear - Karmaprena

Best concert
Gérard Depardieu - Gérard Depardieu chante Barbara
Julien Doré - & Tour

Best audiovisual creation
Orelsan - Basique (Greg & Lio)
Gauvain Sers - Pourvu (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
The Blaze - Territory (Jonathan et Guillaume Alric)

Best original song
Dommage by BigFlo & Oli
Ton mec by Kyo
Si t'étais là by Louane
Roule by  Soprano

I'll give more on my thoughts about who the likely winners are going to be closer to the actual event.

The 2018 Victoires de la Musique ceremony takes place at la Seine Musicale on Friday February 9.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

France Gall tribute

If the closing weeks of 2017 were dominated by the death of Johnny Hallyday, it's sad that 2018 begins with news of the death of another legend of French music.

France Gall lost her battle with cancer at the weekend at the age of 70.

France Gall began her career as the icon of 60s yéyé style, but unlike many of her contemporaries she went on to have a career that lasted for decades.

Gall was, like many female singers in both France and elsewhere, measured according to the men who collaborated with her. Whether Serge Gainsbourg or Michel Berger it was presumed that she was acting on behalf of the greater - male - talent. The music industry has always had this kind of sexism, and it was if anything more prevalent during France Gall's early career.

But perhaps without France Gall, Gainsbourg would not have reached the creative peaks he did in the late 60s, the Eurovision win with Poupée de cire, poupée de son establishing the international reputation of Gainsbourg as a composer every bit as much as it established France Gall as a singer. It's worth remembering that it was France Gall herself who chose the song from a shortlist presented to her.

It's easy to see why she remains best known for her work in the 60s, as she pretty much established the template for generations of French female stars. Her songs were sweet, but also subversive and smarter than they first seemed. And she wasn't afraid of new or controversial ideas.

Her work in the 1970s with her husband Michel Berger, which whom she worked until his death in 1992, established her as a more mature artist. While perhaps her work wasn't as edgy as some of her earlier songs, many of her songs from this period have gone on to be standards in France.

Her involvement in Berger's musical Starmania would give her even greater acclaim in France. The rock opera was a huge success in the French speaking world, and later singles like Résiste and Ella elle l'a proving that she was an artist that wasn't tied to one particular decade.

While she essentially retired in the late 90s, France Gall remained visible with high profile albums of cover versions and the musical theatre show Résiste featuring her songs.

She was a unique artist whose talent helped give French music its unique style.

DJ Pone - Highways (feat. Jaw)

A new video for the track Highways by DJ Pone, featuring an appearance by Oxmo Puccino.

The track comes from an EP of four remixes of Highways, featuring versions of the track by Skyway, as well as by Apollo Noir, Ughett and Irene Dressel.

It originally featured on his Radiant album which came out in late 2016.  It's a striking and haunting piece of work, with the cinematic video reflecting this nicely.

DJ Pone plays at la Maroquinerie in Paris on February 10.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Charlie Hebdo anniversary

Last year I wrote about the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo killings, one of the far too many acts on infamy that have taken place in France in recent times.

At the time it was hard to imagine a worse series of events, with workers killed for upholding the right to speak without restraint, and that others fell protecting them.

Since then we have had other, darker, days and the Charlie Hebdo killings now seem to have been the opening act of a long-running tragedy that still has not ended.

But we remember that Charlie Hebdo has continued, and how those who wished it snuffed out failed utterly.

Presidents, politicians and worthies from around the world paid tribute to names that were perhaps only well known in the French counter culture, and an act that was intended to silence us resulted in voices raised like never before.

If we are not out of the darkness yet, the strange victory of Charlie Hebdo reminds us that we can show that darkness that it is us who hold the lights.

Editorial: January 2018

Welcome back, and it's good to be here. If 2017 wasn't a peak year for this blog, we're starting 2018 with good intentions and hopefully we can get things back on track.

There's much to report in the world of French music during our festive break, and more to look forward to in forthcoming weeks.

For a year that saw fewer posts than previous years, it was heartening to see December 2017 having the highest number of visitors we have ever had. By quite a margin. Thanks for coming and we really are grateful.

Things will get busier here in 2018, so if you've been one of our new visitors, I hope you find reason to visit again.

As always, you can contact us 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 pretty much just an autofeed when we update with a new article. You can usually find me on my personal Twitter account 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.

Thanks as always to the good folks at Oui Love Music From France .

Merci et à bientôt,

John K