Friday, 31 May 2013

Martin Solveig: Hey Now

A new clip from DJ/Producer Martin Solveig, for the track Hey Now.

Solveig's perhaps best known for his song Hello, a huge hit from his 2011 album Smash.

This new song, which has a huge summer vibe, is a collaboration with LA act The Cataracs and rapper Kyle, and it first emerged at the beginning of the month.

The video was filmed in LA

He's always put a lot of work into his videos, Hello being filmed at Roland Garros tennis stadium, and subsequent videos from the Smash album building into a narrative of the DJ and his manager, including Ready to go which was shot at the Stade de France at half time of a France v Croatia game.

Solveig also collaborated with Madonna on her MDNA album and tour.

As for why he chose such a summery video, he told the Huffington Post: "We had the most depressing winter ever in Europe, so I really wanted to bring a summer vibe.

"This is where it gets tricky, because typically making a summery video in Los Angeles for a sweet song is always on the edge of cheese.

"So, of course, the tricky part is to bring those elements and visually bring all the fun that we had making the song - the sun - without the cheese. I think I managed to do that."

We Were Evergreen: Leeway

Another French band that played in the UK earlier this month that certainly merited another mention are We Were Evergreen.

Their take on indie pop is a charming one that I think we'll be hearing a lot more of before too long, embracing as they do everything from Belle and Sebastian to Arcade Fire, via
glockenspiel, banjo and ukulele.

Infectious songs that can't fail to make you smile, even if there's a side order of melancholy.

They've been together for five years, and the band finally went into the studio to record their debut album in February.

Fingers crossed we get to hear it before too long.

The UK based Parisien trio who met up at the Conservatoire de Musique in Paris, have previously released a couple of EPs, we Were Evergreen in 2010 and Flings the same year.

The band promise that no goldfish were harmed in the making of the video.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

La Grande Sophie: Drawing Jam in London

A look ahead at what looks like a great event in London on May 31, with La Grande Sophie and performing live accompanied by artists creating improvised work.

The show - a Drawing Jam - is part of the BD & Comics passion festival organised at the Institut français in London.

La Grande Sophie has been releasing material since her debut album in 1997, La Grande Sophie s’agrandit

She's released six albums in total, the most recent La place du fantôme bagged her a Song/Variety Album of the Year Victoires de la Musique aWard in 2013.

She released in February an EP entitled Re(cord) , which featured versions of some the songs off the album re-recorded with a string quartet.

Meanhwile, the song Suzanne has been put forward as the third single from the album, following and ne m'oubliez pas and Sucrer les fraises.

A concert by La Grande Sophie would be worth a mention at the best of times, but an event like this looks like a unique opportunity to see something extraordinary.

She's a big enough artist in France to be playing at the Olympia on June 21 with the orchestra of Radio France as part of the Fête de la Musique.

The show on Friday May 31 takes place at the Institut français in London, 8 - 11pm.

BD and Comics Passion is on at the Institut français in London from 30 May to 2 June 2013, and it includes workshops, live drawing, book signings, concerts and movies.

Stromae: Formidable

A remarkable video by Belgian dance artist Stromae for his new song Formidable.

Filmed entirely on hidden cameras, it apparently shows the singer in a drunken state on the rainy streets of Brussels.

The singer, seemingly heartbroken and drunk, sings to passers by and is stopped by the police, who recognise him and enquire if he is ok, they offer him a lift home and keep a close eye on him at a tram stop.

Stromae, known to his family as Paul Van Haver,  initially enjoyed massive success with the song Alors On Dance in 2009, a hit across Europe. It reached number one in belgium and France and a number of other countries as well.

His debut album Cheese, released in 2010, added to his reputation both commercially and critically.

A Victoires de la Musique aWard in 2011 for Electronic/Groove/Dance Album of the Year for Cheese added to his critical credibility

He's Since collaborated with the likes of Kanye West and the Black Eyed Peas

The new video follows the track Papaoutai, both coming from his forthcoming and as-yet untitled second album.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Jenifer: Poupée de cire, poupée de son

A new clip of the song Poupée de cire, poupée de son by Jenifer.

The song was, of course, initially performed by France Gall and written by Serge Gainsbourg, and was a winner in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg.

Jenifer's new album, Ma déclaration, consists of her interpretations of songs originally performed by France Gall.

It's a clever song, commenting as it does on the ironies of pop music, particularly those that apply to a female performer. While the title means 'wax doll, rag doll' it also refers to to wax of records, the 'son' also meaning 'sound'.

The suggestion that the female singer is a 'puppet' is clear, but also that she is aware that she sees the world in an artificial way, and is herself not aware of the realities of love, despite singing about it to those who allow themselves to be seduced by her song.

Jenifer first came to fame as the winner of the first season of Star Academy in France in 2001/2002.

She released her debut album on 2002. Entitled jenifer it sold over one million copies. The song J'attends l'amour released as her debut single reached number two in France. Her follow up release that came out in July 2002, Au soleil, gave her a summer hit. Another two singles followed from that album, Des mots qui résonnent and later Donne-moi le temps

Her second album in 2004, le Passage, also went to number two in France, and earned her a Best French Artist awars at the MTV Europe Music Awards that year.

Another three albums have followed, Lunatique in 2007, Appelle-moi Jen in 2010 and 2012's L'Amour et moi.

She's remained a huge pop star,  L'Amour et moi reaching number three in France and number one in Belgium.

Jenifer has been seen mose frequently in recent times as one of the four coaches in the French edition of The Voice, entitles The Voice, la plus belle voix.

The album  Ma déclaration comes out in France on June 3 2013.

Aline: Elle m'oubliera

An excuse for another mention of the wonderful Aline as they're playing in Paris tonight at the L’Alhambra.

I featured the video for their song Je bois et puis je danse earlier this month, which featured on their album Regarde le ciel, which was released in January.

The band went under the name Young Michelin for a while, changing their name under pressure from a certain tyre manufacturer.

A name change at the time a band are just beginning to forge a reputation can be a disaster, having released a  couple of EPs and a victory in the Les Inrocks CQFD awards in 2010,  but Aline bounced back with a  series of releases that showed that however illustrious their past had been, their present and future were even brighter.

The band are from Marseille, and are a four piece led by singer and guitarist Romain Guerre.

The video sees the band perform a session for the Froggy's delight website as a two piece in a low key version of the song Elle m'oublier, a track that also features on their album

Aline - Elle m'oubliera (Froggy's Session) by FroggyDelight

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Johnny Hallyday: Ten great French versions of English songs

Johnny's English language covers, particularly in the 1960s, saw him established as a one-man embodiment of rock 'n' roll in France, and if you could imagine if some of the best songs of Chuck Berry, Elvis and others were  being attributed to one artist, you can begin to see why.

An early hit for Monsieur Hallyday, was L'idole des jeunes, one that became an early signature song for France's voice of Rock 'n' Roll. The song, under its English title Teenage Idol was originally a hit for Ricky Nelson. While very much a ballad, it established Hallyday as an artist capable of sensitivity, a female-friendly romantic character that contrasted effecively with his macho bad-boy rock 'n' roll rebel image.

There were many French versions of English hits in Johnny's early repertoire. As it was never thought that rock 'n' roll would last, and was little more that another dance craze, record companies wanted to cash in on the 'craze' quickly, and if a song had been a hit in the US it was a good indication that it could quickly meet with similar approval with a domestic audience.

His version of Lets' Twist Again, entitled Viens danser le twist, appeared on his second album Salut les copains, along with an English language version of the song.

But Johnny was more than just an act that re-purposed American music for a french audience. his performances showed that he was every bit as capable as the original artists he was covering, even when they were the best in the business and the songs were widely recognised classics. One such song was La Bagarre, a version of the Elvis song Trouble. While regarded as one of the Elvis's finest moments, Johnny's performance is every bit as good as anything The King was capable of.

Other songs, again instantly recognisable numbers, were handled by Hallyday with a swagger that showed him as a master of the genre. His version of Johnny B Goode saw the song retitled Johnny Reviens, Johnny effortlessly taking ownership of one of rock's most iconic songs.

Another proper rock 'n' roll classic was the song Elle Est Terrible, a version of the song Something Else by Eddie Cochran, one of the finest rock'n' roll performers. It featured on his 1963 collection Les bras en croix. The song changed a few of the references in the original, which certainly didn't feature a Citroën or the Champs Elysées.

A later hit in the 60s for Johnny was this great version of the track that was originally titled Black is Black, a hit for the band Los Bravos in 1966. The original reached the top five in the USA, and number two in the UK. Ironically, they were a Spanish band with a German singer, who recorded the song in English in the UK. Johnny's version of the song was number one in France for seven weeks in 1966. The classic 60s TV presentation of Johnny's version of the song is prettty groovy too. It appeared on his 1966 album La Génération perdue, reckoned by many to be the most significant in his career.

Another late 60s classic was his version of the song Hush, retitled Mal. This era saw Hallyday make the move from being a teenage pop star with a rock 'n' roll background to being a mature rock star. Music was becoming more complex, more assured of its cultural significance. With the likes of the Beatles moving in a direction than inspired movements like progressive rock, and artists like Dylan pushing the boundaries, there was a mood that encouraged experimentation along with a confidence that it mattered. Hallyday, who'd toured with Hendrix and recorded with Jimmy Page, moved to embrace the changes that were afoot with vigour.

The song was written by Joe South and was a minor hit in the US for Billy Joe Royal, but it would be a huge hit for British rock band Deep Purple who recorded it for their 1968 debut album.

There would be other covers of English language songs in the decades to come. The 1970s saw collections like country Folk, Rock from 1972, along with Rock à Memphis and La Terre promise from 1975 rely extensively on French covers, along with 1976's Derrière l'amour collection.

one of the highpoints of this - along with Hallyday standards like Gabrielle and Requiem pour un Fou is the wong Joue pas de rock’n’roll pour moi, a song he's continued to perform. The song, with its musical nod to the Elvis hit His Latest Flame, was originally a hit for long since forgotten soft rock act Smokie.

He would again in 1979 record a collection of songs in 1979 that featured French covers of English songs, which produced the song Le bon temps du Rock And Roll, another song that quickly became a signature song for Hallyday.

But maybe one of the best he's ever done was his cover of the song House of the Rising Sun. Johnny had hit with his version of the song in 1964 under the title Le Penitencier.  While the song was well-known as a folk song, thought to have possibly been an English song taken to the US by emigrants. Many versions of the song were recorded, inclusing one by Bob Dylan on his debut album, but it was popularised in 1964 by UK band The Animals, with the song a number one in the UK and the US.

Such was the success of his version of the song that it continues to be one of the conrnerstones of his back catalogue.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Arne Vinzon: Les Belles Structures

With summer finally here, for some of us at least, a new video from Arne Vinzon takes us back right into the heart of winter.

The melancholic electro track Les Belles Structures comes from the album of the same name, released earlier this month.

I've featured previous tracks from the album, and make no apology for featuring another. Certainly one of my favourite releases this year so far, in a year that's seen some great material released.

Their album Les belles structures, on Dokidoki, is the second album by the band that consists of cousins Arnaud Vincent and Matthieu Devos.

It follows their debut Le Monde Entier, which was released in May 2011.

Arne Vinzon play at Amiens on May 31 with Spitzer and Yan Wagner, and at the Nouveau Casino in Paris with Wilfried on June 3.

Nolwenn Leroy: Sixième Continent

A new video by Breton chanteuse Nolwenn Leroy for the song Sixième Continent.

The song comes from her album Ô Filles de l'Eau which was released in November last year and continues her mission to make Celtic music with a commercial modern sound.

The album is her fifth, and it followed the Bretonne album from 2010, a number one album in France for over seven weeks that featured her versions of modern and traditional celtic songs.

Her latest collection keeps the celtic style, but with the songs more focussed on sea-related themes.

Nolwenn initially won the second series of the TV show Star Academy in 2002 and had her first number one single the following year.

While her previous single from Ô Filles de l'Eau, Juste pour me souvenir, didn't make quite such a big splash, her new clip and her extensive tour dates from this month through the rest of the year show that Nolwenn remains a big fish in the French music sea.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Tomorrow's World: Drive

Last week I featured a round-up of some of the French bands that were featuring at the Great Escape event in Brighton, a festival and music industry conference that acts as a showcase for hundreds of new acts hoping to make an impression on the British.

So I thought that having done a feature - that was helpfully picked up by the good people at the institut français du Royaume-Uni's Culturethèque blog- I would follow it up by a more in-depth look at some of the acts that were featured, one act at a time.

First up, Tomorrow's World whose song  Drive has been one I've been listening to repeatedly lately.

One of the band's members is Air's Jean-Benoit Dunckel, the other is Lou Hayter from New Young Pony Club and together they form a very fine outfit. A side project for both musicians, but one that nonetheless demands your full attention.

their name comes from a BBC TV show that ran in the 60s to 80s, featuring then-cutting edge technology, re-runs of which make essential retro viewing. The programme also featured one of Kraftwerk's first TV appearances in the UK, and was memorable to many as it was on BBC on a Thursday night alongside Top of the Pops.

The track came out on an EP at the end of last month, originally as a special 10' vinyl for Record Store Day, with versions of the song re-imagined by Tom Furse, Yan Wagner and Axel Le Baron.

It followed their self-titled album that was released at the beginning of the month, a blend of cool female vocals and electro soundscapes, with nods to the like of Angelo Badalamenti and the rock 'n' roll pulse of Suicide.

The album's been given the thumbs up by Esquire magazine as one of the best retro-futurist electronic albums from France this year, alongside Daft Punk and College. They've also featured in an NME round up of ten great French acts.

As I'd hoped, the attention to the likes of Daft Punk and Phoenix in the media is giving other French acts a higher profile, and it's not before time.

The band currently have a remix competition for versions of the track Drive, with the winner being announced on June 6.

They're also playing more live dates around Europe in May and June.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ray Manzarek RIP

Another famous name from the world of rock music passes away, with the death of Doors keyboard player Ray Manzarek.

France has always played a central part to the myth of the Doors, as the place Jim Morrison spent his final months, as well as being his last resting place.

Morrison died aged 27, his grave remains the reason for many visits to Père Lachaise cemetery.

There were, for a while at least, theories that he faked his death to live his life in Paris without the weight of the Doors hanging over him.

But Morrison's was just another victim of heroin, in a murky subculture of early 70s France awash with French Connection heroin.

Theories continue to abound about the details, due mostly to the reliability of any possible witnesses being questionable at best, and many of the key figures having subsequently died themselves.

There was however no mystery or ill-informed speculation about the death of Ray Manzarek. Just the sad passing of another musical hero in circumstances that we would all recognise.

The Doors never played in Paris at their peak, they toured Europe only once, a brief tour in 1968 with Jefferson Airplane. A 1970 European tour that would have seen them play in Paris was cancelled - other than a show at the Isle of Wight festival - on account of Morrison's trial in Miami.

But Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger would play in Paris in the years after Morrison, their legend secured, their playing undiminished by the passing years.

Yoann Frégel: The Voice (France) winner/

France's edition of The voice came to its conclusion at the weekend, with Yoann Frégel topping the vote of the second series of the TF1 programme, entitled The Voice, la plus belle voix in France.

He won ahead - just - of series favourite Olympe. Frégel had 28% of the vote, Olympe with 27.8% of the vote.

Frégel was coached by Garou, Olympe by Jenifer.

Frégel's performance of The Greatest Love of All by Whitney houston gave him the pick of the four coaches. The other two coaches, Florent Pagny and Louis Bertignac saw their two finalists reach 25% and 19.2% of the votes respectively.

The final saw Yoann Frégel sing Robbie Williams' Angels with the other finalists, a solo rendition of the Céline Dion song Dans un autre monde" and a duet with Zaz on the song Je Veux.

All the finalists duetted with, Frégel performing I gotta feeling

He also sang Michael Jackson's Earth Song, and duetted with his coach on a version of Amazing Grace.

Yoann Frégel is already well ahead in planning his debut album, with plans to have songs in both English and French. has already said that he's produce Frégel's debut single and is expected to have Frégel opening at his concert at the Zénith in Paris on December 13.

Meanwhile, a third season of the Voice has been confirmed for French TV
in 2014

Saturday, 18 May 2013

France in the Eurovision Song Contest: Ten highlights

Saturday night sees France's Amandine Bourgeoise represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song L'enfer et moi. It's a strong bluesy rock number, and time will tell how it does at the event in Malmo.

Arguably France's landmark moment in Eurovision was France Gall's victory with Serge Gainsbourg's song Poupée de cire, poupée de son. It was, however, an entry for Luxembourg. A victory for the international spirit of co-operation and cross border artistic collaboration, but not a victory for France.

France's first Eurovision victory came in 1958, with the song Dors Mon Amour, performed by André Claveau. France has so far won the contest five times.

The last time France won Eurovision was in 1977, with the song L'oiseau et l'enfant by Marie Myriam

Recent years have not seen France dominate at Eurovision like they did in the early years of the competition. 2012's entry Anggun came 21st in the contest.

Recent years have seen some big names from French music compete for Eurovision, although with only limited success. One that did give a good account was Patricia Kaas, who performed in 2009 with the song Et s'il fallait le faire, which came eighth.

That level of success wasn't enjoyed by Sébastien Tellier the previous year who despite one of the most memorable entrances in recent years, came 18th with Divine.

France's entries have traditionally always been in French, one interesting exception was in 1996 with the song Diwanit Bugale, which was in Breton and performed by Dan Ar Braz and L'Héritage des Celtes, featuring vocals by Scotland's Karen Matheson

Another more recent entry that wasn't in French was the 2011 entry, with the number Sognu by Amaury Vassili, which was performed in Corsican.

It was the second time a song in Corsican was entered into Eurovision by France, following 1993's Mama Corsica by Patrick Fiori.

France automatically qualifies for the finals, as one of the five countries that contributes the most to the European Broadcasting Union. Maybe this gives them an unfair advantage, but over the years I reckon France has done better than the UK in the quality of their entries.

And there have been no 'Nul Points' incidents like the UK got in 2003, or last places like the UK graced in 2003, 2008 and 2010.

For all Eurovision is easy to criticise, it's worth remembering that for many in the UK, the event is the only time in the year that they get the chance to hear via prime-time television music from outside the anglophone sphere.

Eurovision is a strange parallel music world, where normal critical judgement can be suspended and the show can be enjoyed for the spectacle that it is.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Maître Gims: Pas touché

Another track from Sexion D'Assaut rapper Maître Gims has emerged, this time the song Pas touché, a duet with Cuban American rapper Pitbull.

It's another track to come from his debut solo album Subliminal, following the hit J'me Tire.

Other tracks Bella and more recently VQ2PQ have emerged, all very different tracks giving the impression that the 18 tracks of Subliminal will be a multi-faceted affair

Sexion D'Assaut's second album - L'apogée - was one of the biggest selling French albums of 2012, and Gims' new collection is certainly one of the most anticipated of the genre this year.

Gims' solo success hasn't meant the end of Sexion D'Assaut by any means, they're still performing live - including shows in paris on June 1 and 2 - and have confirmed details of their third album, which will be entitled Le retour des rois

Subliminal is released on May 20

H-Burns: Opposite Ways

A video for the track Opposite Ways by H-Burns, from the album Off the map.

The album which was released in February on Vietnam/Because Music, was produced by the legendary Steve Albini. The track Six years came out as an EP in 2012.

Off the Map is H-Burns' fourth album, recorded at Albini's Electrical Audio studios in Chicago.

It follows the album We Go Way Back, and is another classy piece of US-style indie,  albeit one with a French origin.

Opposite Ways also features on a new four track EP that also includes out-takes from the album sessions and a demo version of Opposite Way

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Woodkid: Iron (Live at the Roundhouse, London)

Great to see a French act at the top of their game playing to a sold-out audience in London.

Audience filmed youtube clips are very much the 21st century's bootleg live tapes, complete with dodgy sound quality and too much audience noise.

At best it's a photocopied two colour paper sleeve, the track listings spelled wrongly, the tape is the cheapest TDK that was available and the sound is full of audience noise drowning out the band and there's a lot of hiss from several generations of high speed tape dubbing.

With video clips, you can add ropey camera work to the deal at no extra charge.

Still, it gives a reasonable snapshot of what must have been a great gig, and unlike those dodgy bootleg tapes you're not handing over a couple of quid to a dodgy market trader.

So for those lucky to have been there, and for those who weren't,  this is an approximate look at what at least part of the Woodkid gig at the Roundhouse looked like.

Woodkid posted on his Facebook page: "LONDON - I LOVE YOU ! Amazing crowd tonight"

Woodkid's confirmed he's playing again in London in November, with a show at the O2 Brixton Academy on November 13, and this time he's playing with an orchestra.

French bands at The Great Escape in Brighton

This weekend sees a whole host of French acts play at the The Great Escape festival in Brighton, an event that like the SXSW festival in Austin Texas showcases some of the best new acts.

The sold-out music business and convention and festival runs from May 16 to May 18, with 350 artisps playing at 30 venues around the town.

Thousands of delgates from the UK's music industry attend the events, with many coming from abroad as well. They include publishers, managers, broadcasters, promoters and journalists, in an environment where there is no shortage of excellent acts to catch the ear.

Meanwhile, the public get the chance to catch some wonderful acts playing in the town, a more pleasant and approachable way of seeing a huge number of acts without the downside of being at a festival.

As I mentioned, there are some great French acts playing, with the credit going to the good people at French Music UK for making this happen.

Rather than give a detailed rundown of every act that is on the bill, I thought a quick list with a video from each act would help introduce some of these bands.

I'll feature them in more depth in the next few weeks.

Archipel: Roving Jewel

Archipel play on Saturday May 18 at the Old Ship Paganini Ballroom at 1.30pm and on Sunday May 19 at the Green Door Store at 1am.

More details on the band's website

Aufgang: Kyrie

Aufgang play on Friday May 17 at St Bartholomew’s Church at 9.45pm More about the band on their Facebook page

Christine and the Queens: Nuit 17 à 52

Christine and the Queens play on Saturday May 18 on the Queens Hotel Stage at the French Music Office Party at 1.30pm, and at the Queens Hotel Stage at 8.30pm. More about the band on their website 

Concrete Knives: Greyhound Racing

Concrete knives play on Saturday May 18 on the Queens Hotel Stage French Music Office Party at 12.30pm, and on saturday May 18 at Audio at 8pm. Keep up with Concret Knives on their Facebook page  

Girls in Hawaii: Misses

Girls in Hawaii play on Saturday May 18 at the  Queens Hotel Stage for the French Music Office Party at 2.30pm and on Saturday May 18 at the Brighthelm Centre at 10.30pm

There's more on their website

J.C. Satàn: Taketori Monogatari (The Moon)

J.C. Satàn plays on Friday May 17 at The Hope at 8.30pm  More details on their website

Melody's Echo Chamber: Some Time Alone, Alone

Melody's Echo Chamber play on Thursday May 16 at the Corn Exchange at 11.15pm. The band are on Facebook here

Mutiny on the Bounty: Myanmar

Mutiny on the Bounty play on Friday May 17 at the Queens Hotel Stage at 2.35pm, and on Saturday May 18 at Concorde 2 at 7.45pm. More about the band on their website

Owlle: Ticky Ticky

Owlle plays on Thursday May 16 at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar at 11.45pm More on Owlle on their official website

The Penelopes: Summer Life

The Penelopes play on Saturday May 18 at the Queens Hotel Stage at 7.45pm and on Sunday May 19 at the Blind Tiger at 1.45am Want to know more about The Penelopes? Find it on their website 

Tomorrow's World: Drive

Tomorrow's World play at Digital on Thursday May 16 at 8pm.  More details about the band on their website 

Unno: Whatever Comes

Unno plays on Saturday May 18 at the Green Door Store at 12.30pm More about the band on their website 

We Were Evergreen: Leeway

We were Evergreen play on Thursday 16 at the Metro Hub at 4pm, and at the Dome Concert Hall at 8pm. More on the band's website 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Popopopops: Hypnotise Me

A great slice of indie melancholy from The Popopopops with the track Hypnotise Me.

The band, a four piece from Rennes, have been around since 2007 and won the Les Inrocks Autumn 2009 CQFD (Ceux qu'il faut découvrir) award, an award for underground acts that was also won at different times by acts I've also featured on this blog like Cascadeur and Young Michelin, who now perform under the name Aline.

The band have not been idle since then, and have been building their reputation as a live act and recording their debut album.

The Popopopops said that they decided to make the video themselves, to share moments of touring, recording and of life.

The band's first album Swell came out at the end of March and is available now on ZRP Records.

They've got live dates around France from now until summer

Daft Punk: Random Access Memories streaming

The new album by Daft Punk, Random Access Memories, has finally emerged, although its available as a preview stream via iTunes rather than a full release as yet.

Apparently they have no plans to tour to promote the release of the album. Given the success of the marketing campaign surrounding the release there's probably little need.

Touring to promote the release seems an old school approach to selling records given the way they've virally marketed their new release, with snippets emerging to tease the audience, a slow release of small pieces of information to gradually build up the full picture.

Given the overall collapse of the music industry in recent years, building a release into an event like Daft Punk have done is no small achievement.

In the meantime, another brief clip has appeared, this time showing the album being 'unboxed' by the band, and with a short blast of the track Give Life back to Music.

Meanwhile, there's an in-depth interview with the two guys behind the robot masks on the Pitchfork media website published today. Essential reading.

Random Access Memories is (finally!) available from May 21.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Eurovision 2013: Amandine Bourgeois - L'enfer Et Moi

Rehearsals are underway in Malmö for this year's Eurovision Song Contest, with a strong entry from France from Amandine Bourgeois with the song L'enfer Et Moi

Amandine Bourgeoise won La Nouvelle Star, France's version of Pop Idol in 2008, and she released her debut album the following year, entitled 20m², a top five album in France.

Her second album Sans amour mon amour came out in 2012.

She also opened for Johnny Hallyday during his concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year, and has duetted with the Scorpions on a version of the song Still Loving You.

The song was written by Boris Bergman, the music composed by David Salkin.

For all its' faults, it's worth remembering that the Eurovision Song Contest is pretty much the only time that the mainstream media in the UK gives viewers the chance to experience music from outwith the anglophone sphere.

There are two preliminary rounds ahead of the final, the first on the 14th, the second on the 16th.

France are automatically in the finals on Saturday, when the viewers across the continent will get their say.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Arne Vinzon: Les belles structures

Another track from the electro act Arne Vinzon from their album Les belles Structures, which
was released in France this week.

The band describes the album as "eleven sombre tales to sing in the night while in the forest."

The track Vertiges is the third from Les belles structures to be released as a clip, I featured La route de Dreu last month which followed the , vertigestrack Je ne partirai pas, je n'irai nulle part.

Les belles structures, on Dokidoki, is the second album by the band that consists of cousins Arnaud Vincent and Matthieu Devos.

Their debut Le Monde Entier was released in May 2011, although the band was then only a two piece of Arnaud and Matthieu. Arnaud writing the songs, Matthieu adding the keyboards and the technology.

The band's music is clever and darkly elegant, with a melancholy that recalls the likes of early New Order, with a voice delivering the lyrics with a measured and dramatic gravitas.

They play in Paris on June 3 to mark the album's release.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Aline: Je bois et puis je danse

I liked the song Je bois et puis je danse by the band Aline, but hadn't got round to featuriung it until now, so thought it well worth a mention.

The song's got a nice 80s alternative British pop feeling, I could imagine it as a much-loved 7' on an indie label like Postcard Records from years ago, rediscovered and found to be still as fresh as a daisy.

The band are from Marseille, and are a four piece led by singer and guitarist Romain Guerre. Initially know as Young Michelin, the band previously released a couple of singles and EPs in the last couple of years.

Romain Guerret was previously in a band called Dondolo, who released two albums in 2007 and 2010.

When Young Michelin had to change their name, they settled on Aline because in an imaginary biography of the band, Guerre. told Les Inrocks, he wrote that the band came from the town of Aline, a made-up town, a sad grey town, crossed by an opaque river.

While they weren't able to keep using the name Young Michelin, and even though probably only a couple of people actually read the bio, they kept the name Aline to keep a link to their past.

This song originally emerged on an EP last year and it features on the Aline album Regarde le ciel, which came out in France in January this year.

The band have a number of live dates in France, including a show at the Alhambra in Paris on may 28 with Autour de Lucie.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

David Bowie : The Next Day video with Marion Cotillard

A new video from David Bowie, for the track The Next day,  featuring French actor Marion Cotillard in the video..

A strange clip, awash with religious imagery and a song not a million miles away from his late 70s work.

The video also features Gary Oldman, and the previous clip from the album, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), featured Tilda Swinton.

The track comes from the album of the same name - Bowie's 24th - which came out in March, his first release in ten years.

Cotillard is one of France's best known actors, a part in Taxi in 1998 seeing her nominated for a César award for most promising actress, and another nomination for this awards in 2001 for Pretty Things.

She won the Best supporting actress César award in 2004 for A Very Long Engagement, and best actress César as well as an Oscar for playing Piaf in La Vie en rose in 2007. She was only the second French actor to win this award, and only the third actress to win an Oscar.

She's also starred in Inception, Midnight in Paris, Rust and Bone and The Dark Knight Rises

It's not the first time that  Cotillard has appeared in a music video, she featured in the clip for the track More Than Meets The Eye by Yodelice in 2010.

However, the David Bowie clip is bound to be a bit higher profile, and she's not dressed as a giant eyeball for most of the video like she was for the Yodelice track.

Meanwhile, In 2009 she was
chosen the face for a Dior advertising campaign and featured in an online mini-movie which resulted in a musical collaboration with the band Franz Ferdinand, with Cotillard supplying the vocals on a track entitles The Eyes of Mars.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Therion: Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son

While I was researching an article about Serge Gainsbourg for the  Culturethèque website of the Institut Français, I came across some wonderful clips that I thought deserved a mention here. They didn't really fit into the scope of the article I was writing, but certainly were good enough to highlight here.

You can read the article, with a huge selection of videos of Serge and others, on the Culturethèque website here >

This version of the song Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son by Swedish metal act Therion was one such clip.

The band take the track and re-interpret it as an operatic dark cabaret number, with additional metal muscle.

Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son was of course the winner of the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, written by Serge Gainsbourg and performed by France Gall as the entry for Luxembourg.

Therion have been around since 1987, founded by guitarist Christofer Johnsson. While now known more as a symphonic metal act, they were originally more of a death metal act. I was hugely impressed by their Beyond Sanctorum album when I heard it a few years after it came out, but didn't hear much of their subsequent releases.

It's a long journey from melodic Scandinavian death metal to operatic cabaret covers and I think I've got quite a bit of catching up to do.

This version of the track comes from their album Les Fleurs Du Mal, their fifteenth, which was released in September last year.

The album is a collection of covers of French pop and chanson songs including Gainsbourg's Initials BB and a cover of his Les Sucettes.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Indochine: College Boy video

Indochine have released the video for the track College Boy, the second track to be released as a single from their album Black City Parade.

It follows the first single release Memoria

The album has been the biggest seller of the year so far, having gone to number one of its first week of release.

The video has been directed by Canadian Xavier Dolan whose film J'ai tué ma mère won three awards at Canne in 2009.

The video, which runs for close to six minutes, opens with a warning that it contains scenes that may disturb younger viewers.

It's a powerful message against violence among young people at school, particularly in the form of homophobia, the director saying he wanted to take it to the limit, not to shock, but to show that this situation is possible because theres's nothing to stop it.

Singer Nicolas Sirkis commented that the song can be seen in the context of the debate about equal marriage in France, which has seen protests both for and against, but saying that the song was written before that debate was taken into the streets.

He says that the song is a more general appeal for tolerance.

It's a tolerance not shared by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel, the regulatory body for media in France who judged it as unsuitable for an under 16 audience on account of its violent content. It won't be shown on French TV before 10pm.

One member of the CSA commented that there's enough of this story of violence, and that death is not art, violence is not art and nor is torture, and that these images don't have a place on music channels.

The director said that to say that the clip encouraged violence was completely stupid, and asked if it really was more violent than all the films that appear on our screens every day.

While the debate about the clip rages, it's certainly succeeded in raising a controversial and difficult issue for society to confront.

Justice: Access All Arenas

I've always suspected that Justice were at heart a rock act, and their effortless transition from nightclub to arena seems to confirm this.

Their new live album Access All Arenas presents a recording of their show at the historic arena in Nîmes in July 2012.

The live album's always been the favourite of the rock act wanting to show what they can do outside the studio. They get the chance to present their sound in what they would regard as a more authentic environment, the rock band having traditionally gathered its following through playing live before going on to record in the studio, which either succeeds or fails to capture that live magic.

Some bands reputations have been made by their live releases, whether Deep Purple's Made in Japan or  the Grateful Dead's Live Dead, Kiss Alive or Nirvana Unplugged in New York, the best live albums reveal something new about the band that's not previously been present in their studio albums, letting us see them in a different light.

Of course, there have been many acts who have recorded live albums, then scuttled off to the studio to re-recorded parts that weren't up to standard. Some are little more than a re-recorded greatest hits packages without the expense of getting the band in the studio.

There's also a question as to whether or not there's really an artistic need for a live document of a band these days anyway. Chances are there are dozens of amateur youtube clips of every show circulating within minutes of them being played.

But this collection makes absolutely clear that Justice are a strong live act, their live show a powerful showcase for their music. While still thought of as a dance act, they generate an atmosphere that any rock fan would recognise.

The album shows beyond any doubt that the live spectacle is no longer just the preserve of the rock act of yesteryear.

The album is being streamed online and is available to buy from May the sixth.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Moussu T e lei Jovents

A quick mention here for a live show tonight in London by Moussu T e lei Jovents

The four piece takes its starting point as the multicultural melting pot that was Marseilles of the 1920s and 30s, with a sound that combines Brazilian and southern French flavours.

They come up with a unique sound that's as infectious as it is instantly enjoyable.

They've been releasing material since their 2005 debut Mademoiselle Marseille, their most recent being theis year's release Artemis.

Moussu T e lei Jovents play Cottons in Islington.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Editorial: May 2013

Today, the first of May, is traditionally a holiday in France, but I'll post here today as there's no holiday for the Vive le roq French music blog.

It was a great month in April for French music with some huge releases, such as the Phoenix album and the Daft Punk single generating a huge amount of excitement about French music.

This month also saw a lengthy post on the Culturethèque website of the Institut Français about the legend of French music that was Serge Gainsbourg. You can read the article, with a huge selection of videos of Serge and others, on the Culturethèque website 

There will certainly be more of that kind of article in the future.

Over and above that, it's again been another great month on the blog, with a good number of articles and a good amount of visitors making it one of the busiest months of the year so far.

May sees festival season get under way in France and elsewehere, with many acts putting out new releases ahead of their summer performances, so we should see plenty of new releases this month.

Thanks again to the record companies and others who have been in touch over the last few weeks, particularly the good people at Culturethèque and at French Music UK for their help and encouragement.

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