Friday, 31 August 2012

French Music Podcast show on French Radio London

Tonight sees the final French Music Podcast show on French Radio London, so a hearty well done to DJ Parris is on order for flying the flag for French music on the airwaves.

There's been some great material played in the series, some of it familiar, some of it less so, and there have been some absolute gems getting a well-deserved airing.

The show is pretty much essential listening to anyone with an interest in or appreciation of French music

The previous ten editions of the show that were on RFL, and earlier editions as well, are all available to listen here > 

It looks like the show will be back in December for a new series, so until then you can follow them on Facebook by liking French Music Podcast UK.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rétro: Johnny Hallyday - Mon Fils

With Johnny Hallyday in hospital in the Carribean, I thought I'd give this week's retro spot to a great piece of film of Johnny in the 60s, at the peak of Johnnymania.

The video is from a performance at a UNICEF Gala in December 1968, the song Mon Fils is a melodramatic work, a perfect teenage opera.

You can hear echoes of Dylan, as well as chanson, but above all there's the sound of a singer pushing the limits of what a pop song could be.

Obviously very much of its era, of course, but it's the kind of work that for other artists would be a highlight of their career.

Interesting that much of Hallyday's work remains not so well known in the UK, where he's though of as either a recycler of American songs into French or as an ageing rocker.

Johnny is expected to resume his tour, which sees him play his first full concerts in the UK in October. Get well soon Johnny, and hopefully see you there.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Alex Ferrari: Bara Bará Bere Berê

Most days listening to what's going in in the French music scene is an absolute joy.

There's a huge number of artists I've come across, whether old or new, whose work has impresssed me deeply. many of these I listened to for the first time as a consequence of putting together this blog.

Of course, this isn't always the case.

This is one such tune, and associated video. Alex Ferrari, the current number one in the French charts with Bara Bará Bere Berê.

There are those who hold French music in low esteem. They'll point to the likes of Renée la Taupe, forgetting the musical careers of Bob the Builder, Crazy Frog and Mr Blobby.

I'll always fight the corner defending French music. But sometimes I can't, however hard I try.

If you thought a singer with a name like Alex Ferrari would deliver some Eurotrash summer dance tune, you won't be disappointed. Maybe Brazil is the new home for cheesy summer Europop.

In its favour I suppose is that at least it's not Carly Rae Jepsen, who has been at number one for long enough.


Friday, 24 August 2012

Médine: Alger Pleure

I've been listening to a fair bit of French rap this week, and this track was one that stood head and shoulders above all the others.

It's an extraordinary piece of work from the rapper from Le Havre with a French mother and Algerian father.

With namechecks for Jean Moulin, Jean-Paul Sartre and discussion of the Algerian independence struggle at its most personal level, it's rap at its most articulate and intelligent, unafraid to confront big philosophical and political issues.

The track comes from the forthcoming album "Don't Panik", on Din records, and comes at the time Algeria marks its 50th anniversary, becoming independent in 1962.

Médine, has released three previous albums, Arabian Panther (2009), Jihad (2005) and 11 Septembre (2004), where he's eloquently worked around the issues of being a Muslim in France, and the social inequalities in society.

He also wrote an article for Time magazine ("How Much More French Can I Be?") calling for France to reject outdated labels that define French people by race, and how the gap between the banlieue and the rest of French society has to be bridged.

The article's still available to read online in English here > 

More information about Médine here>

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sexion D'Assaut - Wati House

France's number one hip hop act are back in the French singles charts with Wati House, a summer-vibed track from their massive-selling L'Apogée album.

The last few weeks have been fairly static on the French charts, with Carly Rae Jepsen holding the number one position for what seems like ages.  Nice to see some French hip hop giving it a challenge.

It's the fifth track from L'Apogée to be promoted as a single, another success from what must surely be one of France's most successful rap acts ever.

As ambassadors of the French rap scene, they've probably introduced rap to a wider audience than any previous act, and I'm sure their success will see other urban acts achieving considerable commercial success.

The album has already sold triple platinum in France, selling 350,000 copies so far.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Eluveitie - The Early Years

I've long had a theory that metal is a modern take on a type of folk music that's been around for thousands of years.

There have probably always been songs about war, brave deeds, evil men and the supernatural sung round campfires by groups of men to a receptive audience of similar young men. I'm sure that these would have been sung to the tempo of a galloping horse, with as much thunder as a hand drum and a lute could muster.

However, modern heavy metal hurdy gurdy and mandolin are quite a proposition, but in the hands of Swiss band Eluveitie they're a natural mix.

The band release a new collection entitles The Early Years on Nuclear Blast records, essentially a re-mixing of their debut album Spirit and a re-recording of their debut EP Ven. Both items have been out of print for years, and had become collector's items as the band's career took off, and both certainly deserved to be heard by the wider audience the band now has.

A special edition also  includes a newly recorded track.

The band released their most recent full studio album Helvetios earlier this year

Eluveite are currently touring with sweden's Sabaton, in what promises to be one of the best metal bills of the year. This video captures them playing at the Summer Breeze Open Air festival in 2008.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Superbus: A la chaine

A winning blend of Gallic cool and modern rock on the new single A la  by Superbus.

It's big-budget production, souding like more pop-orientated Garbage and it's the second single they've released following their hiatus since 2010.

It's always a risk for a band when they make a re-appearance after keeping out of the limelight following a period of success. Superbus took a step back despite their Lova Lova album being their biggest seller of their career, and there are no guarantees that any band can just return to where they left off.

Fans can move on, and styles can change while bands aren't on the scene.

But it can also give them a chance to think about what they're doing, concentrate on what they do well away from the treadmill of promotion and the pressures of delivering more product.

All Alone came out in June, the first outing for their new material, and it certainly seems like the break has done them good.

Their new album Sunset is expected to be released at the end of the month, just in time for La Rentrée.

A series of club dates around France with some shows in Belgium and Switzerland are scheduled for the end of the year

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sebastien Tellier: UK tour dates

With last night's Olympics closing ceremony in London, and its focus on British music, I was wondering how the event would have unfolded had France won the right to hold the Olympics.

Would Johnny Hallyday be headlining? Who else would be on the bill. M83? Justice? One likely candidate would be Sebastien Tellier.

For a resulutely French artists, he's getting a higher profile certainly in the UK, playing in London in July as part of the Traction festival following the release of My God is Blue in the UK the month before.

More significantly he's undertaking dates across the UK at the end of the year.

He's been playing dates around France and the rest of Europe already, with more to follow in October and November, including shows in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

He plays the casino de Paris on december 3, before heading to the UK for shows in London, Broghton and Leeds.

The tour then concludes at the Arches in Glasgow on December 9.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Yannick Noah: Redemption song

This week sees Jamaica celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence, and for a country of under three million people it certainly punches above its weight in terms of its international status in the world of music.

As a genre, reggae remains hugely popular, and while the 'classic' reggae sound of the 1970s still resonates, its various mutations and adaptations, whether dub, dancehall or ragga have had a vital influence on contemporary hip hop and R'n'B.

As with pretty much everywhere else, reggae found a place in France, Gainsbourg's work in the genre in the 70s putting it squarely in the mainstream. His reggae albums remain fine examples of the genre, choosing as he did some of the best musicians at what many regard as the peak of their skills.

In subsequent years the torch has been passed to other generations, and it continues to burn brightly in their hands.

Yannick Noah is now a widely-known French singer, despite initially coming to public prominince as a tennis player in the 80s and early 90s.

He's had several number one hit albums, the song Aux arbres citoyens from his Charango collection giving him a number one single.

This track comes from his recently released 2012 album Hommage, where he pays tribute to Bob Marley by covering some of his best-known songs including Buffalo Soldier, War and I shot the Sheriff as well as Redemption song.

La Route du Rock: Festival

This weekend sees the La Route du Rock summer festival in St Malo in Brittany.

The festival has been running since 1991, this year's event being the 22nd time it's been held.

With a very open-minded indie and international outlook, prevous years have seen the likes of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, PJ Harvey and Mogwai playing.

The town is a great venue for a festival, with shows taking place at a number of venues in a seaside town at the height of summer.

This year thirty bands play at three venues, the beach stage, the auditorium of Le Palais du Grand Large and the castle stage at the 18th century Vauban castle.

On the bill are the likes of Squarepusher, Spiritualized, Yeti Lane and Dominique A on the Friday, the Saturday sees Mark Lanegan, the XX and Breton, along with a second show by Dominique A.

The Sunday features amongst others Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Mazzy Star and the Walkmen.

Quite a few of the shows will be shown live online at Arte's Live Web website including Spiritualised, Dominique A and Alt J.

Julien Doré: L'été Summer

Given our current (probably brief) heatwave and the fact that the whole of France, or so it seems, is off on holiday, an appropriate summer song was in order.

L'été Summer comes from Julien Doré's last album Bichon, released last year.

He's come a long way since winning Nouvelle Star, this year saw him getting a  nomination for best video in the Victoires de la Musique awards, and best male performer nomination in the Globes de Cristal awards.

So far this year he has been playing live extensively in France this year, with more dates in November. A limited edition live DVD Concert à la Ferme has also come out.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains: Edge of Town

A new video from the UK's favourite French indie act Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains.

The single Edge of Town is another track from their breakthrough 2011 album for Domino records E Volo Love, and it sis hard to imagine a more perfect relaxed end-of-summer soundtrack.

The African feel gives it a nice feelgood bounce, perfect for this time of year.

They've got a few festival dates in August and September, and a few shows in mainland europe in September and October including one at La Cigale in Paris on October 18, before a tour of the UK at the end of October, with dates in Scotland, Northern Ireland and in Dublin.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Hellfest on Arte

This weekend saw Franco-German arts channel ARTE running a documentary about this year's Hellfest festival, which was held in Clisson from June 15-17.

Every year since 2006 the town, near nantes, hosts one of Europe's biggest metal festivals, this year featuring some of the biggest names in rock from Guns 'n' Roses and Ozzy Ozbourne to smaller bands representing pretty much every genre in contemporary rock music.

While hugely popular, rock music has never attracted the serious critical attention that it deserves, so it's hugely encouraging that a channel like Arte taking it on board.

Over 110,000 fans attended the event this year, and Hellfest returns on June 21, 22 and 23 next year.

Sadly I wasn't able to watch the documentary online, as music rights are a complicated things for broadcast companies and while they may have permission to broadcast music from an event and put it online, they don't have the right to do so in other countries, hence the video of the broadcast is geoblocked.

If you are in France or Germany, you might be abel to watch the video here

Anyway, a number of the performances at this year's festival have been made available to watch online on the Hellfest website, I thought the Dropkick Murphy's with their celtic punk particularly appropriate for a Brittany (almost) based festival. Their intro tape, Foggy dew, was of course covered by Alan Stivell.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Festival Interceltique at L'Orient

This weekend sees the Festival interceltique get underway in L'Orient.

with Breton fest-noz events, concerts and parades taking place in the town, its a festival like no other. While focussed on celtic music, it takes the broadest definition that sees it include acts from beyond what would normally be regarded as traditional.

The programme features local and international acts, including Breton legend Dan Ar Braz and the Buena Vista Social Club from Cuba, and there is a particular focus on French Canadian acts this year, with names like Roch Voisine and Buffy Sainte Marie.

There are, of course, acts from the Celtic nations of Europe, Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, The Isle of Man, Galicia and Asturias. The music ranges from pipe bands to punk rock, with the formal programme boosted by events taking place in bars and cafes around the town until late at night.

The festival runs from today (Friday August 3) until August 12.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Rétro: Michel Berger

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Michel Berger, who died of a heart attack aged 44

Berger's best known work in France was probably the Starmania musical he co-created, but his work with Françoise Hardy and France Gall - who he married in 1976 - as well as his solo career that began in the mid 60s.

As a solo artist his first major success came in 1973 with Écoute la musique (Quelle consolation fantastique), following it in 1975 with the album  Que l'amour est bizarre which spawned to successful songs, the title track and Seras-tu là ?

In 1980, however, his Beauséjour album led to three hits, La Groupie du pianiste, Quelques mots d'amour et Celui qui chante.

His '83 album Voyou featured the memorable songs Diego, libre dans sa tête and La minute de silence.

In 86 he stopped performing as a solo artist, concentrating on writing for France Gall, although he went on to release the album  Ça ne tient pas debout and an album of duets with France Gall entitled  Double jeu in 1992, released just weeks before his death.

His work with Hardy and Gall revitalised the careers of the two singers, ensuring their careers continued into the 70s and beyond. He also worked with Johnny Hallyday, writing and producing his Rock 'n' Roll Attitude album in 1985 and collaborating with him on the Johnny à Bercy live album.

Berger was one of the most significant figures in the French music scene over the 1970s and 80s, and his songs and reputation ensure that even 20 years after his death he's remembered with affection.

Meanwhile, France Gall is currently working on a musical featuring his songs, due to see the light next year. His work looks set to be remembered for years to come.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Garou: Le Jour Se Lève

A new release, Le Jour Se Lève, by Garou, the Quebec singer known to his parents as Pierre Garand.

Garou became known initially for his work with the Notre-Dame de Paris musical, getting a number one single in '98, but he went on to a massively successful solo career, his debut album Seul, which came out in 2000, selling over 1.5 million copies in France.

The title track was a number one hit and the album one of the biggest selling French language albums ever.

The single Sous le vent, a duet with Celine Dion gave him another number one in France, as did the song La Rivière de notre enfance, a duet with Michel Sardou.

His most recent release until this year was the album Version Intégrale, released in November 2010.

He plays in Paris on November 18 and his new album is released on September 24.

Editorial: August 2012

Another tremendous month here at vive le roq, with last month continuing the upwards trend in visitors. We've again had the highest number of visitors to the site.

Not bad for a month that saw the site essentially on autopilot, getting by with pieces that were pre-written before I went off on holiday.

But we still managed to keep the number of posts high, a solid 22 posts ranging from look back pieces about Jon Lord and Chris Marker, new releases by the likes of France and Black Strobe, some live shows in the UK by some of France's biggests names and the whole debacle of Madonna's dates in France.

Also I've finally been taking a look at the vive le roq twitter feed, which I'd let slip. It will now tweet out the blog posts as they go on the site, and hopefully attract a bit more attention to what's been written here.

You can follow us on twitter @viveleroq

This month? More of the same, and more of it hopefully. I've still not managed to get past last June's record of 27 articles, I'm always optimistic at the start of the month that this will be the month that I pass the record.

However, rather than just aim for quantity, hopefully the writing will be worth reading. The music will certainly be worth listening to, that's for sure.

As always, if you're a promoter or a band you can contact me at johnkilbride AT hotmail DOT com, with the  @ and dot replaced as appropriate.

Merci et à bientôt