Thursday, 22 March 2018

Rock en Seine 2018: First acts confirmed

Initial details of this summer's Rock en Seine festival have emerged, with a bill that includes some of France's most popular home grown acts.

PNL and Justice are two of the headliners, alongside Macklemore, are among the acts confirmed so far. Both Justice and PNK are among the biggest selling French acts in recent years, and Justice in particular have made a significant impact internationally.

Also revealed are 30 Seconds to Mars, Anna Calvi, Cigarettes After Sex and The Black Angels. First Aid Kit, Stefflon Don, Parcels and King Gizzard & The Lizzard Wizard are among the others.

It's a strong bill, indie flavoured and international, but not ignoring some of France's finest contemporary artists.

More names are to be added to the bill in April.

As it's held close to Paris, Rock en Seine is an event that's particularly easy for a UK audience to access, with all the advantages of a French music festival. Better weather, cheaper prices being among these.

The 16th edition of Rock en Seine, held at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, runs from August 24 to 26. Tickets are on sale now.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Christine and the Queens: New album and tour

Some great news from the Christine and the Queens damp today, with confirmation of a new album later this year along with the announcement of live dates including shows in the USA as well as Paris and London.

Her second album must be one of the most anticipated French releases in recent years given the immense success of Chaleur Humaine, one of the landmark albums of recent years.

A final date has not yet been confirmed for the release, but an exectuve for her record company has described it as "sounding fantastically good, it's going to be slightly different."

There are four live shows scheduled for later this year, with LA on October 27, New York on October 31 and the Eventim Apollo in London on November 20. She plays at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on December 18.

I'd be very surprised if the shows are not accompanied by a considerable amount of promotion on TV and in the media, and I suspect these four gigs come ahead of a fuller schedule of live dates in 2019.

Tickets for her forthcoming shows go on sale on Monday.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Julien Clerc: À vous jusqu'à la fin du monde clip

Love this clip from Julien Clerc for his song À vous jusqu'à la fin du monde.

Featuring actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, it starts with the feel of a serious French domestic drama  before moving into surreal comedy.

The video is the work of director Michel Gondry, who has made videos for the White Stripes, Bjork and Beck. He began his film career with music videos before going on to direct films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (where he won an Oscar), Be Kind, Rewind and The Science of Sleep.

The song's a modern pastiche of 60s/70s French pop that is perfect for the veteran chanteur, who has in his long career performed a good many of the more serious French classics.

Clerc's album A nos amours was released in October last year, his 24th studio collection. Produced by Calogero, it features collaborations with Maxime Le Forestier, Vianney, Brigitte Fontaine and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's sister Carla Bruni. The album's already been met with considerable success, with the songs  Je t'aime etc and On attendait Noël finding an audience still wanting Clerc's brand of chanson.

Clerc's touring to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of his career, following three sold-out shows at l'Olympia in Paris last weekend with three concerts at the Salle Playel starting tonight (March 16, 17 and 18) before continuing around the country until July.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Paris Music Festival 2018

Tomorrow sees the Paris Music Festival get underway, an event across the French capital that sees some well-chosen acts play some of the city's most interesting venues.

The event sees the organisers of France's Record Store Day work alongside the Mairie de Paris, with the intention of creating an event that puts Paris at the heart of international musical creativity. It's as much a showcase for the city as it is for the actual artists playing.

And some of the venues being played are very interesting indeed. With churches, museums and cultural centres hosting events, there are some very interesting and unique live experiences ahead.

Among them, two shows at the archeological crypt on the Ile de la Cité on March 15 and 16 featuring Chapelier Fou and Lenparrot look particularly interesting.

There's some striking footage of Fishbach playing there last year, perhaps not a venue for the claustrophobic, but one with no shortage of history.

There's a wide variety of names taking part, including Yuksek,Yan Wagner and Arnaud Rebotini as well as Barbagallo and Frànçois Atlas.

The Paris Music Festival takes place over March 15, 16 and 17 with ticket prices for each show held down to a very reasonable ten euros.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Mylène Farmer: New album details

Mylène Farmer's spoken in a rare interview, confirming her plans for a new album later this year and another single ahead of it following up her recent release Rolling Stone.

She spoke on TF1's JT programme on Sunday night, where she was on to discuss her new film Ghostland.

She confirmed the new album can be expected in the autumn, with another track emerging beforehand. She's currently working on the album and wasn't able to confirm the final release date yet.

Rolling Stone, a track that saw her work with French DJ Feder, gave her another number one single in a career that's seen her establish a record that few other artists seem likely to match.

Mylène attended the premier of the film in Paris last night alongside others in the cast of the film and its director. It goes on general release in France from tomorrow, March 14.

With Mylène probably now the biggest living French music star, a new album's a kind of a big deal. Farmer's new collection comes three years after Interstellaires and as there was no tour to support that release, fans are hoping that 2019 will see her again take to the stage of the arenas and stadiums around France and beyond.

Indochine: Un été français

A new single from Indochine one of France's most successful rock acts, with a video that gives a breathtaking view of Paris from a vantage point from the roof of the Grande Arche de la Défense on the outskirts of the city.

For all the Grande Arche is one of the capital's most recognisable landmarks, the viewing deck of the 110m tall structure was closed to the public for a number of years. La Défense was constructed as a home for many of France's top businesses and a place where international companies could build their office spaces on the edge of Paris.

The video makes the most of the area's modern strangeness, with its obvious nods towards both the Beatles on the roof of Abbey Road or U2's Where the Streets Have No Name video.

You can't help but wonder what those performances might have looked like if the same drone filming technology had been available in those days. And if they'd had more fireworks.

The song itself is a powerful piece that features on the recent Indochine album 13, Nicola Sirkis inspired by events in the 2017 election that saw the Front National through to the second round of the presidential elections.

Indochine are in the middle of a massive tour with arena dates ahead of outdoor shows this summer, and a second round of shows later in the year including two nights at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on November 16 and 17.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Orelsan: Défaite de famille

A new single from Orelsan, the third from his  La fête est finie album, one of last year's most significant releases.

Like its predecessors  Tout va bien and Basique it features a striking video, this time with the rapper starring as members of his own extended family. The video was directed by Orelsan himself.

It's a nice piece of film for the post-YouTube and Instagram audience, clever and funny while casually playing with the conventions of film making. It reminds me of some of Stromae's groundbreaking work. I expect it won't be long until we see a UK or US act 'influenced' by this piece.

Orelsan's track La Pluie, a duet with Stromae, has also been picking up significant airplay in recent weeks, but Défaite de famille was the track to get released as a single.

Orelsan picked up three awards at the Victoires de la Musique last month for La fête est finie, and its sales in Fracne have merited triple platinum status, but there's probably a lot more commercial life yet in this album.

Madame Monsieur: Mercy video

The more-anticipated-than usual video for the song representing France in this year's Eurovision Song Content has been released.

The track Mercy by Madame Monsieur was the winner of Destination Eurovision on France 2 in January.  Emilie and Jean-Karl's song has a flavour of the electronic tinged indie folk that proved massively popular for artists like Lilly Wood.

The song - a surprisingly decent piece given the usual quality of Eurovision entries, regardless of country - takes a very human stance over the plight of refugees who find themselves in danger on the seas.

The video takes the streets of Paris, Rome and London as the location. Rather than simply representing what goes on at sea, it helps contextualise the situation of the refugees in the cities of Europe. Without being political, it takes a strong humanitarian stance, like the song itself.

France's place in the final of the contest is already guaranteed due to the country's central role in the support of Eurovision.

Will a song solve the crisis in the seas of the Med? Probably not. But will it raise awareness of those who help save the lives of those at risk and of the desperate stories that have driven people to take those risks? Hopefully.

If it achieves this, even to a small degree, it's already a winner in my books.

Eurovision 2018 is being held on May 12 is Lisbon.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Record Store Day 2018: The French releases #RSD18

The full list of the 2018 Record Store Day releases has been published, and as always it's a mixed (12 inch by 12 inch sized) bag of vinyl.

Amidst the eye-wateringly expensive Grateful Dead box sets and the mountain of novelty content that will still be in the racks in four or five years time, there are some real gems.

And more that a few very fine French flavoured pieces of vinyle.

Air's iconic Sexy Boy gets a release as a 12 inch picture disc to mark the 20th anniversary (!) of its release. Another high profile act of recent years, Phoenix, gets a limited edition heart shaped red vinyl release of the track Monologue.

Serge Gainsbourg, another uncontested icon of French music, gets his soundtrack of the movie La Pacha released in full on vinyl for the first tine It's a collaboration from 1968 with Michel Colombier that includes Réquiem Pour Un Con, one of his absolute classics, and features a previously unreleased instrumental mix.

Serge's daughter Charlotte also has a significant release, with a 12 inch of remixes from her recent Rest album. Soulwax remix Deadly Valentine, and there are two versions of Ring a Ring O'Roses.

Another interesting archive release features Jean-Jacques Perry, with his debut Prelude au Sommeil getting its first full vinyl re-release after it first emerged 60 years ago.

More up to date are two releases by The Liminanas, one a 12 inch featuring remixes of by Laurent Garnier and Arnaud Rebotini of Dimanche and Istanbul is Sleepy, the other a seven inch featuring Dimanche and a cover of The Kinks song Two Sisters.

Record Store Day takes place on April 21.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Alexandre Desplat Academy Award win for The Shape of Water

An away win for France at the weekend, with composer Alexandre Desplat winning an Academy Award for the soundtrack to the movie The Shape of Water.

It's the second time Desplat has won an Oscar, having picked one up in 2015 for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel. That year saw him nominated for two different films, the one that eventually won as well as The Imitation Game.

As well as his two wins, he's previously been nominated another seven times for an Academy Award, for films as varied as The Queen, Fantastic Mr Fox, The King's Speech, Argo and Philomena.

He's also previously won two Grammy Awards and three Baftas, as well as three Césars, for the soundtracks for The Beat that my Heart Skipped, The Ghost Writer and Rust and Bone.

The Shape of Water was nominated for 13 Oscars, and picked up four, most significantly the award for Best Picture and Best Director.

Desplat's soundtrack may not have been the critic's favourite for an award this year, that would probably be Jonny Greenwood's work for Phantom Thread. However, The Shape of Water also features a cover of Gainsbourg's La Javanaise by Madeleine Peyroux, hopefully introducing his work to another new audience.

There may have been no French films in the Best Foreign Language category this year, and while Agnes Varda was one of the four recipients of an honourary awards this year, there was no victories on the scale of Jean Dujardin or Marion Cotillard.

But an Oscar for a French musician? Very welcome indeed.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Hyphen Hypen: Like Boys

A new track by Hyphen Hyphen ahead of the release of the electro pop act's second album.

Their 2015 debut Times included the tracks I Need Your Love and We Light the Sunshine which made a significant impact with the French public, while constant touring resulted in them taking home the breakthrough live act at the Victoires de la Musique awards in 2016.

The new video's got a strong flavour of 80s American RnB clips, the song's a serious slice of 21st century girl power that's got its finger on the pulse.

Hyphen Hyphen are now a trio, Zac having left the band which now consists of Santa, Adam and Line.

Hyphen Hyphen's new album is due to be released on May 25

Her: Neighbourhood

A new video with a strong message by Her ahead of the release of the act's debut album at the end of the month.

The release of the album is perhaps more poignant than many others in recent years given the tragic circumstances behind the band. Originally a duo of Simon Carpentier and Victor Solf, Simon died of cancer age 27 last year.

Simon and Victor had been working together for ten years, initially as member of the Rennes based five piece The Popopopops (which we featured on this blog way back in 2013) and had since 2015 worked with considerable success to established Her as one of France's most promising emerging acts.

Their two EPs Tape #1 and Tape #2 showed a band that more than capable of delivering on that promise.

Following the death of Simon Carpentier, Victor confirmed he intended to continue working under the name Her to continue the work they had done together.

In a statement he said: "Together we made a promise. The promise to continue at all costs this magnificent adventure. Today it is his legacy that I carry in me, and it is my wish and that of all the team for Her to continue to carry our music as far as possible."

The track is a positive and uplifting piece, the clip an appropriate one for a world where there are too many walls and not enough neighbourhoods.

As they put it themselves: "We wrote this song a long time ago, and it's still very true today. It's always about hope and unity."

The title track of the new album We Choose came out in January and the album itself is available from March 30

Friday, 2 March 2018

Cats on Trees: Black Lips

Another track by Cats on Trees drops ahead of the release of their much-anticipated new album.

Black Lips sees Nina and Yohan take on a more electro reggae direction. It's tricky for an act to embrace new ideas without diluting their essence, but I reckon Cats on trees retain their slightly wonky charm.

Keep on Dancing, the first track to emerge from the new collection, saw them embrace a more disco friendly focus. The track Blue emerged a short time later.

Their 2013 track Siren's Call established them, a massive selling tune that remained in France's top 20 for months. But their debut album cemented them as something more than a modern indie-folk act that got lucky with one song.

They've taken their time with their second album, by the sound of things they've worked pretty hard defining the essence of their act - sweet piano led indie chanson -  and taken it forward with some new ideas.

The new album by Cats on Trees, entitled Neon, is released on March 16. They've got live dates in April and May and play La Cigale in Paris on May 16

César Awards 2018

France's movie industry gets its big night out tonight with the César awards, and it's encouraging to see some of the country's music getting some recognition.

Obviously it remains to be seen who wins, but with a movie like 120 Battements par minute getting 13 nominations on the back of its Grand Jury prize at Cannes it'll probably make a significant impact. Set in the 80s in the early days of the Aids crisis it tells the story of young French activists, with the music of the era taking a significant central place in the drama.

Elsewhere, there's a biopic of Barbara which has received a total of eight nominations, including best film and best female hope for the star Jeanne Balibar.

But the film I hope does the best is Patient, a movie that is essentially the work of Grand Corps Malade. It's nominated for best film, best debut, best adaptation and best actor. GCM co-directed the movie which is set in a rehabilitation centre for those with disabilities, some as a result of accident, others from birth.

It features the story of Ben, played by Pablo Pauly, who after an accident faces the struggles, despair and resignation, as well as the friendship and hope in the midst of his situation.

I'd be very surprised if it doesn't pick up at least two awards.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is shortlisted for best actress for her role in La promesse de l'aube, and former Nouvelle Star performer Camélia Jordana is a contender for best female hope for her part in Le Brio.

The Céar awards always get overshadowed by the Oscars, taking place the same weekend, but the Césars are an important annual reminder that there is a vigorous cinema outside the Academy's 'Best foreign film' category.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Editorial: March 2018

A successful February on the blog here, the highlight for me being the number of visitors to the site. An absolute record by quite a margin in the last month, not bad especially when you're considering it was the shortest month of the year.

That's all very well, but its the content here that matters at the end of the day. I'm pleased with what I managed to do. As always, could have done more, but there are always a huge number of competing demands on my time and spending time writing planning and organising posts on this blog can often take a back seat.

But on the whole, a successful month. Mostly down to some great releases and news, from Mylene Farmer dropping a new single unexpectedly, to Barbagello touring (most of) the UK, via this year's Victoires de la Musique awards in France.

There was plenty happening last month, and it certainly looks similar in March. The month gets under way with more awards, the César awards on Friday have a serious amount of music related content with Grand Corps Malade up for four awards and 120 battements par minute leading the nominations.

Elsewhere, there are live appearances from Charlotte Gainsbourg in the UK at the end of the month, as well as shows from Kid Francescoli at London's 100 club. Significant releases include the new album from Cats on Trees and Julien Doré, and events in March include the Paris Music Festival which brings musicians to some of the French capital's more interesting locations.

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.

John K