Thursday, 28 February 2013

April March and Aquaserge: Des tics et des tocs

A great track by April March and Aquaserge, who despite their Rive Gauche retro vibe are in fact a cross trans Atlantic collaboration involving a singer from California and an international band of psychedelic outsiders

April March is a songwriter, singer and francophone from California whose real name is Elinor Blake. She has released nine albums during her career so far, performing in both English and French.

One of her songs, Chick Habit was featured in Tarantino's film Death Prooof. Chick habit was in fact an English translation of Serge gainsbourg's Laisse tomber les Filles, which featured on her 1995 album Gainsbourgsion!, a collection of her interpretations of Gainsbourg's work.

She teamed up with Aquaserge in Paris in 2007, a band featuring Tame Impala drummer Julien Barbagallo, Melody's Echo Chamber collaborator Benjamin Glibert and former Stereolab member Julien Gasc.

Gasc said: "A friend invited us to play as her backing band for the evening."

"I remember Elinor in her fuchsia dress. I thought that she was so classy and splendid in her way of being, moving, of dancing, of singing. She's a muse, our intellectual other half. We're eerily similar in our tastes: music, the arts, literature, cinema, food. We had to do a record together, that was obvious.”

Their forthcoming album was written and recorded between Blake's US apartment and the band's Vallesvilles barn near Toulouse in the French countryside.

On recording there, Blake said: "On warm days we'd have the barn doors to the studio wide open so when I recorded my vocals it'd be to a random audience of birds and chickens."

The album April March and Aquaserge is released on May 13.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Francis Cabrel: Comme Blind Willie Mc Tell

A clip for the song Comme Blind Willie Mc Tell by Francis Cabrel, from his album of Dylan covers Vise le Ciel.

The original Dylan song was never officially released when it was recorded for his 1983 Infidels album, and it remained an out take until it surfaced on his Bootleg Collection vol 1-3 collection in 1991.

It surfaced on bootlegs before its official release, and the quality of the song was such that it was held up by collectors as an example of just how good Dylan's out takes could be, even in what many regarded as the later stage of his career.

The song is now regarded as among Dylan's finest work, Dylan himself performing it live after The Band began performing it and releasing it on their Jericho album in 1993.

Dylan himself said the song was never developed fully and never completed it.

Dylan's recording of the song, a low-key performance that featured him on Piano and Mark Knopfler on acoustic guitar, is one of those rare astonishing works

Despite the song being rooted in an American historical context, the French language version of the lyrics still sounds natural and authentic, with French historically being spoken in some Cajun communities in southern states.

Cabrel's version shows that an artist can still cover a Dylan song, make it his own and keep the magic intact.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Eurockéennes festival in Belfort

Details of another French summer festival have emerged, with some of the acts on the bill of the being confirmed.

 While Blur were already on the list, 18 acts playing at the event have been revealed.

Others headliners are Smashing Pumpkins and Phoenix. There can't be many festivals that Phoenix are not playing this summer. Others include Alt-J, Two Door Cinema Club and Tame Impala, while the ubiquitous -M- is on the bill as is fellow French act Skip The Use.

 More acts will be announces in April. The Eurockéennes festival takes place in Belfort on the fourth to the seventh of July and this year marks the 25th anniversary of the festival, which first took place in 1989.

 More details at the festival's website


Monday, 25 February 2013

Izïa Higelin, Oscar and César Awards

A weekend of Award ceremonies, and one that saw a memorable victory for Michael Haneke at the Césars and recognition at the Oscars.

It was a strange situation with almost parallel award ceremonies, Argo winnning best film at the Oscars, best foreign film at the Césars and Amour winning best film at the Césars and best foreign film at the Oscars.

There might not have been a dramatic win at the Oscars like there was last year with The Artist, but for a French cinema industry that has been as badly hit as any by the recession, and while arguments continue to rage over the economics of film making in France, it remains encouraging that the French industry still has a place at the most exclusive table.

You can argue that the Oscars are always going to put the spotlight most favourably on the American film industry, but at the end of the day the USA dominates cinema like no other country, and the fact that France can still compete here is a real cause for celebration.

Meanwhile, the weekend saw the César awards, which put the spotlight firmly on the French film industry. While Haneke dominated, it was nice to see Argo win in the best foreign film category, but for this blog one name did stand out, with Izïa Higelin winning the best female hope award for her role in Mauvaise Fille.

Izïa Higelin is the daughter of singer Jacques Higelin and a singer in her own right. her musical career started when she was 14, and by 16 she was supporting Iggy Pop when he played in Paris and releasing songs on her MySpace.

Her debut album was released in 2009, her second album So Much Trouble coming out in 2011. While musically very different to her father - I doubt he'd have found himself on the same bill as Motorhead -  she's duetted with him on a couple of his releases.

She's no stranger to awards, her debut album saw her scoop two Victoires de la musique awards: best rock/pop album of the year and breakthrough act of the year in 2010, and in 2012 she won another for rock album of the year with so Much Trouble.

Mauvaise Fille was her debut film, and with the reaction she's received she looks certain to be a very big star before too long.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Hellfest 2013

I've previewed the Hellfest three day metal event in previous years, so I figured this year should be no exception.

Hellfest has become one of Europe's premier metal/rock events, with six stages packed with acts over the three days of June 21, 22 and 23 in Clisson, around 35km from Nantes.

Last year saw Guns 'n' Roses, Megadeth and Ozzy and Friends (Black Sabbath by any other name) play, along with acts covering the whole spectrum of rock and metal, from classic and vintage to new and underground.

This year headliners are Def Leppard, KISS and Volbeat, the main stage 2 presenting Avantasia, Korn and Danzig. At the Gates, Morbid Angel and Arch Enemy play the Altar stage, the Temple stage presenting God Seed, Immortal and Cradle of Filth.

Meanwhile, Neurosis, Manilla Road and Swans play the Valley, and Sick of it All, NOFX and The Toy Dolls play the more punk orientated Warzone.

Other acts include Lordi, Bullet for my valantine, helloween, Ghost, Buzzcocks, Sleep, Cult of Luna, Hypocrisy, Marduk, Finntroll, Anti Flag, The Sword, Korpiklaani, Kreator, Voivod, whitesnake, Europe, ZZ Top, Twisted Sister, Accept and

All in all, around 160 bands play the event. Something for everyone, if you like metal and rock obviously...

The line up at each of the six stages is so strong it could almost pass for six seperate events being held at the same weekend in the same location.

It always surprises me that events like this are not more popular with a UK audience. Maybe a bit more marketing could put Hellfest into the diaries of thousands of fans with the cancellation of Sonisphere in the UK for the second year. While it might be a bit further afield, western France is pretty much on the UK's doorstep and with the line up as packed as it is, it certainly gives value for money.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Indochine: Black City Parade

A very welcome return for French legends Indochine, whose new album Black City Parade has gone to the top of the French album charts after its release last week.

It's the first of 2013's much anticipated album releases, and follows their 2009 collection La République des Meteors,

While the band's history stretches back to the 1980s, the new collection - their 12th - shows that they deserve their continued success.

It's commercial success has been mirrored by a positive critical reaction to the collection in France.

The clip for the track Memoria emerged at the end of last year.

Indochine embark on the first leg of live dates supporting the album in Nancy tomorrow, with dates in the rest of February, March and April. A second leg of dates has been confirmed for the autumn that sees them playing larger arena sized venues around France.

No Paris date as yet, but as Indochine were the first band to play the Stade de France, on their last tour, some large-scale dates in the capital must certainly be on the cards.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Phoenix: Entertainment

The first track has surfaced from the new Phoenix album Bankrupt!

Entertainment was broadcast by Zane Lowe on Radio 1 in the UK, and has since appeared on YouTube with a home made lyric video.

It's probably safe to say that the new album is the most anticipated French release this year.

Earlier details published on the band's website gave the tracklisting as:

The Real Thing
S.O.S In Bel Air
Trying To Be Cool
Drakkar Noir
Oblique City

Details of the cover of the album emerged the other week, and the appearance of a new track gives the clearest indication yet of what the final album will sound like.

Phoenix have confirmed festival dates over the summer, with shows in the USA in March and April beforehand. Their festival dates include Coachella, Primavera, Rock Im Park and Rock en Seine, and confirmed yesterday that they would be playing T in the Park.

Worth the wait since 2009? We'll find out on April 22.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Orelsan: Live at the Jazz Café, London

A heads up for French rapper Orelsan who plays in London later this week.

The rapper, known to his family as Aurélien Cotentin, has released two albums, Perdu d'avance in 2009 and Le Chant des Sirènes in 2011.

Le Chant des sirènes was a platinum selling album, with over 100,000 copies sold since its release.

Last year he won two Victoires de la Musique awards for rap/urban album of the year and for breakthrough group or artist (public choice). this year he was nominated for the best male artist of the year.

As a white male rapper, he's been described as the French Eminem. Probably by anglophone journalists who don't know any French rappers or any other white rappers.

As with many rappers, his success has not been without controversy, with some of his lyrics held up as mysogenistic and inciting violence, others claiming that criticism of his work and cancellation of his shows as a consequence of his lyrics amounted to censorship.

Orelsan plays the Jazz Café tomorrow, Feb 19.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Electro Bamako: Sira

A video for the track Sira by Electro Bamako, taking the sound of Mali into a 21st century wesetn urban context.

The project started in 1999 with Marc Minelli working with Malian singer Mamani Keita, and it has evolved into a three piece band with Minelli, Paul Sidibé and Damien Traini.

The new album is described as a psychedelic trance music helped by computers and mixed with traditional instruments. It's certainly a heady brew if this track is anything to go by.

With Mali making the headlines internationally for all the wrong reasons, it's a timely reminder that the country was until recently better known for its musical output than for its political turmoil.

Electro Bamako show how international musical collaboration can benefit all those involved.

The album Electro Bamako is released in France on February 25 on Celulloid/Rue Stendhal.

Hymne à l'amour

Well, given the day I thought something suitably romantic might be in order.

Hymne à l'amour was a number originally performed by Edith Piaf, who wrote the lyrics. It was first performed in 1949 in New York, and was written about her lover, the boxer Marcel Cedran.

Cedran was to die in a plane crash before the song was recorded the following year by Piaf.

For many Piaf is the embodiement of French music, although personally I've always thought of her as a bit before my time for her work to really register with me.

There have been many cover versions of this song over the years, and the English adaptation of the song was a hit for many artists too, with covers from the 1950s to the present day by artists as diverse as Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Vera Lynn and Nana Mouskouri.

It's very much the kind of song performed by easy listening artists or stars of musical theatre. Not really the kind of thing that I'd normally have on my playlist, but given the romantic theme to the day, it's certainly an appropriate song.

I've included a version of the English language version of the song performed by Jeff Buckley, along with another more recent take of the French language vesion of the song by Josh Grobin.

Hymne A L'amour - Josh Groban by amitie-58

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Francofolies festival 2013

Details have been confirmed of the Francofolies festival that takes place in La Rochelle in July, with what looks like a great bill.

It's the 29th time the event's been held, running over five days and five nights in the centre of the seaside town.

There's a suitably strong French line up and a mixture of genres. Blog favourites like -M- , Saez, Woodkid and Lou Doillon are all plaiyng, along with the likes of Benjamin Biolay, Raphaël and Patrick Bruel. Meanwhile, OrelSan and Disiz provide some rap, and other artists including Olivia Ruiz, Rufus Wainwright have been confirmed.

Around 100 concerts take place as part of the event.

In a special event for the festival, former Louise Attaque singer Gaëtan Roussel presents a concert entitled Replay Blessure on two nights. He will be performing a cover of the Alain Bashung's album Play Blessures - the 1982 album Bashung created with Serge Gainsbourg - and tracks that he himself wrote for Bashung's final collection, 2008's Bleu pétrole album.

Meanwhile, in another special event, Emily Loizeau performs the work of Jacques Demy

The festival takes place between July 12 and 16 and tickets are available from with special early ticket discounts available.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Victoires de la Musique Awards 2013

A weekend of big award ceremonies, with the Baftas and the Grammies taking place, but it was the Victoires de la Musique awards that held our attention.

As always with events like this, some interesting outcomes, some surprises and some disappointments, but always interesting to see how these things go.

Obviously pleased to see Lou Doillon win the best female artist, I'm certain it was all down to her video being filmed in Glasgow.

C2C picked up four awards, winning every category they were nominated in.

No such luck though for -M-, who had three nominations and came home empty handed, or for Sexion d'Assaut who had two nominations and also left with nothing for the mantlepiece.

And I have to say a wee bit disappointed that Lescop didn't pick up an award for best original song after being nominated for his song La forêt.

But anyway, here was where the awards went to:

Male artist
Dominique A

Female artist
Lou Doillon

Breakthrough artist/group (public vote)

Breakthrough artist/group

Chanson album
La place du fantôme - La Grande Sophie

Rock album
Can be late - Skip the Use

Urban music album
Roi sans carrosse - Oxmo Puccino

World Music album
Folila - Amadou and Mariam

Album de musiques électroniques ou dance
Tetra - C2C

Original song
Allez allez allez - Camille

Musical show/tour/concert
The geeks tour - SHAKA PONK at l'Olympia, Zénith and Bataclan


Friday, 8 February 2013

La Grande Sophie: Sexy Boy (Re(cord) version)

A great song and video by La Grande Sophie, an imaginative cover of the Air song from their 1998 Moon Safari album.

I always like cover versions that takes an original song somewhere it's never been before, and take the original as a blueprint for something new rather than as a map that has to be followed to a pre-determined destination.

This version certainly does that.

The track comes from her recently released EP Re(cord) which sees four tracks from her La place du Fantôme album re-recorded with a string quartet, along with a bonus track.

These five tracks also appear on a re-edition of last year's La place du fantôme along with two other tracks.

Victoires de la Musique awards: Best video shortlist

With the Victoires de la Musique awards ceremony taking place tonight, I thought a quick round up of some of the nominated work was in order.

In particular, I thought that a look at the four videos shortlisted for the best clip of the year deserved a closer look.

Some I've featured before, others I've not, but they all certainly give a good snapshot of music videos in France.

We'll find out who wins later tonight.


-M-: Mojo

Olivia Ruiz: My Lomo & Me (Je Photographie Des Gens Heureux)

Shaka Ponk - Let's Bang

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Johnny Hallyday: Dans Mes Yeux

Today sees the publication of Johnny Hallyday's autobiography Dans Mes Yeux, a work that has been much-anticipated in France since its publication was announced.

The book was co-authored with novelist Amanda Sthers and extracts are being serialised in L'Express.

Celebrity autobiographies have been big business in recent years, and most of these are fairly safe accounts that gloss over the star's difficult issues and don't say anything controversial for fear of damaging 'the brand'.

Many are little more than modern takes of the old concert programmes of the 70s, others celebrate 'celebrities' whose career involves little more than an appearance on a reality TV show and occasional pictures in the showbiz gossip columns in the tabloids.

Needless to say, an autobiography by a star with a career as long as Johnny's is bound to be a different story altogether. It's caused a huge reaction in France. I suppose it's only to be expected from a figure who's dominated the country's music scene for so long, and as a consequence probably filled more newspaper and magazine pages than any other celebrity.

He talks about other stars, referring to Michel Sardou as a "reactionary old git" ("vieux con réac"), says Claude François was so jealous of Hallyday's success that he chatted up his girlfriends and exes, and criticised his son David Hallyday's singing career.

As a consequence of the book, Johnny's ex-wife Adeline Blondieau has indicated she intends to sue for defamation, according to Nice Matin.

Meanwhile, Sardou told Le Figaro that while he was happy about comments on the Mémoires of La Rochefocauld, he didn't care about comments on Johnny's.

The book's also revealed Johnny's dislike for left-wing politics, insisting that it drives people to mediocrity. Not that Johnny's politics have been any great secret over the years, he was after all a friend of Nicolas Sarkozy during his time at the Élysée Palace.

However, one interesting line is that he says he once almost signed the Beatles as a backing band while they were working in Hamburg. Obviously it wasn't to be, but the possibility gives a lot of food for though.

Johnny meanwhile has been in London earlier this month recording an English language version of his most recent album L'attente.

We might a while longer waiting for an English translation of his autobiography to be published though.

-M- : Océan

A new edition of the new -M- album Mojo has appeared, coinciding with this year's Victoires de la Musique awards.

The album was originally released in November last year, and the new special edition features extra remixes of the title track by C2C and Willy Moon.

the release comes out just days ahead of the the Victoires de la Musique awards ceremony, that seems Chedid nominated for best male artist, chanson album of the year and video of the year for the song Mojo. I'm sure he'll pick up at least one of these to add to his already large collection of Victoires awards.

-M- is touring extensively this year across France, with a date in London's Koko next month, followed by dates in Paris. There are other dates around France before a return to Paris in June.

Océan is being promoted as the second single from the album, and this video comes from a session he did for the UK website The Line of Best Fit.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Yelle - L'amour Parfait

A new track by Yelle - L'amour parfait - has surfaced, ahead of the release of their new album.

They'd promised that they'd have new material out on Feb 11, but put this song online a few days early.

The song comes from an EP that comes out next week.

The new song is a classy piece of contemporary electro pop that demands a repeated listen. It's a  sophisticated and mature work and Yelle's voice really stands out against the darker beats.

Their last album, Safari Disco Club, was released in 2011 and it saw the band get a huge amount of international attention, including a huge amount of live dates in the USA and support for Katy Perry on her tour.

While the album didn't produce a hit like the song Je Veux te Voir from their 2007 debut Pop Up, it certainly got the band a huge new audience.

The new track is producer by Grandmarnier and Aeroplane, and the EP features remixes by Baadman, Sticky K, Ruben Mandolini and The Phantom.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Woodkid: I Love You

An astonishing song and equally wonderful video by Woodkid for the song I Love You.

Yoann Lemoine, who performs under the name Woodkid,  has become probably better known as a video director than as a musician, having worked for the likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey. His work has seen him nominated for MTV Music Awards, UK Music Awards and a Grammy.

So far in his music career he's released a couple of singles, Iron in 2011 and Run Boy Run last year, both attracting the attention of advertising campaigns and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video for his video for Run Boy Run.

His debut album, to be titled The Golden Age is expected to be released on March 18.

He's got some live dates scheduled, including a shows in Norwich and at the Roundhouse in London in May.

Is I love You the best release of the year so far? Probably.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Editorial - February 2013

 A busy January with plenty of posts, and a good number of visitors to the site as well, our third busiest month ever.

There's little doubt that the highlight was getting the chance to see Jane Birkin playing in Glasgow, performing some wonderful Serge Gainsbourg songs.

February, which again can be a quiet month, sees a few interesting events, with the release of Johnny Hallyday's autobiography, and a new album by Indochine among them.

The Victoires de la Musique awards take place in France next week, giving French music one of its biggest platforms, and the Oscars come at the end of the Month.

Meanwhile, Orelsan plays in London, hopefully giving French rap a bit of exposure in the UK.

Plenty of other releases of course, and details of tours and festivals to be unveiled over the next few weeks, so there will be plenty to report here.

As always, I can be contacted by email at the address johnkilbride AT hotmail DOT com, with the spaces and the appropriate @ and . in the address, or on twitter where you can find us @viveleroq

Merci et à bientôt