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: On 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