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.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Review: Juniore - Magnifique

If you're going to give your album a title like Magnifique, you'd better be sure it lives up to the name.

No such worries for Juniore for their debut UK album, a delicious ten inch collection of eight tracks that takes classic French yéyé pop into some strange and interesting places.

Imagine the scene in an imaginary Dario Argento movie, where the characters stumble into a freaky late 60s night club, and the band are playing some fierce garage pop on stage. Juniore would probably be that band.

Magnifique sounds like Juniore were raised on 60s French pop but gradually got interested in vintage spooky films before distilling these interests together into songs.  There is of course a French sensibility to the work, with a feeling of poetic melancholy and nostalgia hovering like a mist of dry ice, but it works surprisingly well. For all its possible gothic connotations, it's a fun and hugely enjoyable collection.

Juniore have been around since 2013, and released their French debut Ouh là là in 2017 following a string of singles, an EP and a compilation. The band centres on singer/songwriter Anna-Jean, with Swanny Elzingre, Laure Weisdorf, and a shrouded bass player known only as Le Chose (the Thing).

Magnifique is released on Outré on July 7. They're playing in the UK at the end of the month, with dates at Sebright Arms in London on July 25, The Crofters Rights in Bristol on July 26 and Bitch Craft in Brighton on July 27.

Les Kitschenette's: Envoie Moi Un Sexto

A classy performance by Les Kitschenette's of their track Envoie Moi Un Sexto.

The track's actually a French cover of the song Send me a Postcard, originally recorded in '68 by Dutch band Shocking Blue for their Scorpio's Dance album.

Les Kitschenette's update the song's lyrics for the 21st century, but wisely don't mess too much with the original's garage fuzz and organ wig out.

The song comes from their recent 10' album (or 25cm if you're metrically minded...) "C'est pas d'la physique quantique, du chant grégorien ou du lapon !" It's their third collection, featuring a few tastefully curated covers with more than a little French freakbeat flavour.

The video, a well put together live performance,  was shot live at the Nouvelle Vague de St Malo at the album's launch party.

If you like what you see, they play in London at Weirdsville on September 29.

Monday, 2 July 2018

It's Sunday: Projection on a sheet

A solid piece of underground indie psych from It's Sunday with the track Projections on a Sheet.

The band are a duo of Lucas Lecacheur and Dawnie Perry who previously worked together under the name Lemon Swell Duo.

Last week saw them opening for the Jesus and Mary Chain at the Trianon in Paris and you can hear something of the Scottish underground icons in their work, with the drone of the minimal guitars and the realisation that what they're doing is also a very sweet 60s influenced pop gem, albeit in a slower and more glacially chilled style.

Projection on a Sheet was released as a super-limited flexi picture disc last month on Slimer Records. If you're quick you might be lucky.

It's Sunday release their debut album on Howlin' Banana records in early 2019.

Editorial: July 2018

A reasonably busy month here on Vive le roq. You'll no doubt notice that we managed to post a significant amount of material for the first time in a while, hopefully a sign that we are finally back to our normal service.

Yes, I know pretty much every month starts with me declaring how this month will see things get back to the way they were in terms of amount of material I'm able to write but I reckon we've turned a corner, quietly and without too much fuss.

It's been helped of course by some strong releases, and a huge number of events taking place in France and elsewhere that deserve to be covered.

One thing to note this month is that I'm actually not here at the moment. Well I'm away from my desk for the next couple of weeks but I've filed quite a few short articles in advance so there hopefully won't be any major interruption of the service we provide here.

I'm still of course 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