Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Taratata100% Live au Zénith

Taratata is probvably France's leading TV musiuc show, but last week's edition was a little bit special.

The 528th (!) edition of the show was a live special, briadcast from the Zénith in Paris, with an absolutely immense line up of French musical talent on display.

Some of the names involved? Angele, Her, Shaka Ponk, Charlie Winston, LP, Pascal Obispo, Coeur de Pirate, Amandine Bourgeoise, Jenifer and Marc Lavoine. A wide range of styles and generations, with some well-chosen songs performed.

Musical tributes were paid to Jacques Brel and Charles Aznavour, and artists performed exclusive covers and duets.

Jenifer tackled Radiohead's Creep with Slimane.

Add to that Jane Birkin performing with Eddy De Pretto, with a song written by Serge Gainsbourg for Isabelle Adjani.

Jeanne Added performed with Zazie, playing the title track from Zazie's Rodeo along with a version of Nothing Compares to you, the Prince song made famous by Sinead O'Connor.

Cats on Trees performed Nicolas Peyrac's So Far Away from LA with Nolwenn Leroy, a song that appears on her forthcoming Folk album.

Loved this performance by Hyphen Hyphen with Catherine Ringer of a Les Rita Mitsouko number. Ringer was, of course, the singer with that legendary 80s duo. The song originally featured on their 1988 Marc and Robert album.

I reckon its about time the back catalogue of Les Rita was plundered by some present-day artists for one of those 'tribute' collections that have been filling the racks in Franch records shops over recent years, there's a wealth of great material there.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Alpha Blondy: TV5 Monde Acoustic session

Who doesn't love a bit of French reggae?

Great to see a session at the weekend on TV5Monde's Acoustic show by Alpha Blondy, one of the biggest names in the genre.

Blondy, originally from the Ivory Coast, has been one of the biggest reggae stars in France since the early 80s. His new album Human Race is classic reggae with a modern edge.

It's an interesting session, with the focus on his recently released Human Race album. Of particular note is his performance of Serge Gainsbourg's Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais that appears on the album as well as in this session.

While Gainsbourg was a big fan of reggae, with two of his 70s albums landmarks of the genre, the original version of this song pre-dates his Jamaican period. Nice to hear it getting a sympathetic cover. If you're a fan of Gainsbourg, you'd be well advised to investigate it.

Other songs in he performance are Human Race, Life, Les Paiens as well as two brief interview segments.

Vanessa Paradis: Ces mots simples

A new video by Vanessa Paradis for the track Ces mots simples, the first cut to emerge from her forthcoming new album.

While the song first emerged in September, the accompanying video came out just a couple of days ago.

The song was written by her husband Samuel Benchetrit, the video directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

It's a charming and low key song with a quite tasteful and minimal video by Mondino, an artist who has worked with some of the biggest names in music since the 80s, and most recently created the cover of the new Mylene Farmer album.

The new album by Vanessa Paradis sees her working with author and musician Fabio Viscogliosi, as well as Adrien Gallo from BB Brunes.

Her album Les Sources is due to be released on November 16 and is available to pre-order on digital platforms.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Limiñanas - Russian Roulette

A video for  the new single Russian Roulette by The Limiñanas, one of France's finest purveyors of garage rock.

The Limiñanas: I've Got Trouble in Mind 2
The track comes from their forthcoming new album I've Got Trouble in Mind vol.2 and the video looks like its been just a little bit influenced by the title sequences of a James Bond film.

The album collects some of the bands rare material - singles and compilation tracks - from 2015-2018, following their first Trouble in Mind collection that documented some of their rare material from 2009-2014.

It's a cover of a song by The Lords of the New Church, originally a track on their 1982 self-titled debut album.

The Lords of the New Church were a hugely popular cult act in the 80s whose members were already established figures from the punk scene, vocalist Stiv Bators was in the Dead Boys, Brian James was in the Damned and other members had been in Sham 69 and the Barracudas. They were one of the first bands to adopt a goth style, and released three albums before they split in 1989.

They probably should have been massive, a quick watch of any archive footage of them shows just how much Guns 'n' Roses 'borrowed' from them.

Stiv Bators - who would have been 69 today - died in 1990 as a result of being hit by a taxi in Paris. His ashes were scattered on Jim Morrison's grave in Pere Lachaise cemetery.

It's not the first time a Lords of the New Church song has been covered by a significant French act, with a version of their song Dance With Me recorded by Nouvelle Vague.

The Limiñanas have dates in Germany and France next month and in December, while I've Got Trouble in Mind vol.2 is released on November 16.

Agar Agar: Live in London

If you're in the London area tonight, there's a great chance to see one of France's most interesting acts, with Agar Agar playing at the Village Underground.

They released their debut album The Dog and the Future at the end of September, delivering on the promise held in their earlier releases. The duo's brand of electro pop is as stylish as it is sharp, experimental and bold, but with a subversive wit about it.

Clara Cappagli and Armand Bultheel's background might be art school, but they're no strangers to making genuinely likeable music.

It doesn't seem all that long ago Christine and the Queens were playing venues this kind of size in the UK, and Agar Agar certainly deserve the kind of success that Christines' enjoyed in the last couple of years.

If you get the chance to see Agar Agar, make the most of seeing them in an intimate venue. It won't be long before they're playing much bigger places.

Following their London show Agar Agar are back in France for an extensive diary of live dates around the country, with shows scheduled in all the corners of the hexagon until February.

They play at the Olympia in Paris on December 12.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Her: Neighbourhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to the next chapter.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Jain: Oh Man

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

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

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

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

Angèle feat. Roméo Elvis: Tout Oublier

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Festi'Val de Marne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pépite: Feu Rouge

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

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

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

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

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

Pépite play La Cigale in Paris on October 9.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Alain Bashung: Immortels

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

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

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

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

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

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

En amont is released on November 23.

Charles Aznavour RIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial: October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 John K