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.