Friday, 31 January 2014

Vanessa Paradis: Mi Amor

A video for the track Mi Amor by Vanessa Paradis, her recently released single.

It's the third track from her Love Songs album to be released as a single since it came out last year.

The album was a continuation of her previous musical style but with a willingness to embrace more modern sounds.

The celebrity tabloids are reporting that Paradis has a new hair style, short brown and curly, with quite a different image from her look in the video.

It comes amid reports that her celebrity ex Johnny Depp is engaged to is new partner.

While it may be a change in her image, as an actress she'll be used to embracing new styles and if the success of her albun last year is anything to go by, she's going into 2014 on a high.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Beat Mark: Breeezing!

A cracking tune by Paris-based four piece Beat Mark, the single Breeezing! released exactly a year ago

Breeezing! sounds like a classic song you've been aware of for ages but have only just heard properly for the first time.  There's something familiar about it that you just can't put your finger on, but it's uniquely fresh at the same time.

The track comes  from their album Howls of Joy which came out on February last year on Ample Play records, a label founded by Tjinder Singh & Ben Ayres from Cornershop.

Apparently Tjinder came across the band entirely by chance during a  holiday in Paris.

More recently they released a split  festive single with Sudden Death of Stars just before Christmas, Beat Mark providing the song Christmas Blossom.  They are currently working  on new material, hopefully we'll hear more before too long.

Daft Punk at the Grammy Awards

An outstanding  night for Daft Punk at the Grammy awards last night, with a total of five awards for the
French duo.

They won the record of the year award for Get Lucky

Album of the year for Random Access Memories

Best Pop/Dup performance for Get Lucky

Best Dance/Electronica Album for Random Access Memories

and finally:
Best engineered album/non classical for Random Access Memories

True, award ceremonies are perhaps not an accurate measure of artistic merit, with winners this year including Led Zeppelin for best rock album and Imagine Dragons for Best Rock Performance, making for some curious choices for sure.

I'm sure most people would have predicted an award for Daft Punk, with Get Lucky a ubiquitous presence and Random access Memories Achieving both commercial success and critical recognition.

But collecting a total of five Grammy Awards is nothing less that astonishing .

Friday, 24 January 2014

Moodoid: Hors d'Oeuvres mix tape

A band I was introduced to last year that look set for greatness this year are Moodoid.

Having seen them live and been bowled over by their EP, I can't wait to hear more by  them, so I was pleased to find this mixtape that they did last month online.

It's as lush, colourful and rich as you would imagine, floating effortlessly between garage rock, world music and all psychedelic points inbetween. Mind expanding stuff.

They are in the recording studio at the moment, and supported DAF in Paris the other night. they will shortly be doing the same for Phoenix.

Can't wait to hear more from them in 2014. In the meantime the mix tape gives you some additional insight into the colourful world of Moodoid.

Thursday, 23 January 2014


A video from IAM, French rap masters who certainly  re-established themselves last year at the forefront of the scene in the last year with two album releases.

Arts Martiens was a number one on France,  this track CQFD comes from their self-titled album that was released towards the end of 2013.

That collection also reached the top ten.

Last year also saw a re-issue of their classic L'École du micro d'argent, their 1997 album that saw them become one of the biggest names ever in French hip hop.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cats on Trees: Siren's Call

One of the good things about January is having a bit of time to to catch up with some of the things that I
missed last year.

One of the acts I failed to give my full attention to was Cats on Trees, who I heard good things about but failed to actually listen to. A grave mistake that I quickly put right this month.

The duo from Toulouse, consisting of Nina Goern and Yohan Hennequin released their self-titled debut album in October last year. Siren's call was their first single.

The album reached the top 40 in France, and has been nominated for the Breakthrough Album category in this year's  Les Victoires de la Musique awards.

They're the kind of act that you instantly like as soon as you hear them, the kind of band you can't believe you haven't heard them before.

I'm certain that 2014 will be a breakthough year for them.

They've got extensive live dates all over France in the next few months, and play at La Cigale in Paris on May 6

Cascadeur: Ghost Surfer

A new clip for the track Ghost Surfer by Cascadeur, ahead of the release of his new album next month.

The track Ghost Surfer emerged last year, and I liked it then, and indeed the video that initially accompanied it, but this new clip adds a touch of humour.

I wonder if Cascadeur, or Alexandre Longo as his passport would have it, will be this year's masked French artist to enjoy mainstream international success in the wake of Daft Punk?

It follows the release of his debut The Human Octopus, which came out in 2011.

His debut saw him nominated for the Prix Constantin in 2011, and songs like Walker established him as a  memorable artist with a voice as unforgettable as his striking  image.

Cascadeur has a series of live dates across France from next month and the album's released on Febuary the third.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Judah Warsky: Bruxelles, capitale de l'Europe

Love this track by Judah Warsky, a cool vocal with a fiery electronic sounddtrack.

A fine sentiment as well,  if I was in the Belgian tourist industry I'd be using this song on a commercial tout suite.

Judah Warsky's previous release was the Painkillers and Alcohol album in 2012, an equally strange and unique piece of work. There's something of the Sébastien Tellier in his work.

He played last year with Acid Arab, and act I featured towards the end of 2013 here, featuring on the track Boys in the Oud.

Hopefully the new track by Judah Warsky is an indication that there's more to come soon. I look forward to it.

Owlle: Don't Lose It

A classy piece of electro released as the new single by Owlle, entitled Don't Lose It, coinciding with the
release of her debut album France.

I mentioned Owlle on the blog here last year, when she played at the Great Escape festival in Brighton, and its good to see her getting some more attention.

last year her song Ticky Ticky established her as an act worth watching, her new album should see her become one of 2014's key acts.

The single features a number of remixes, by  Maelstrom, Pyramid, and one by  US producer Saint-Pepsi .

She's got a series of live dates across France, including one in Paris on February 12 at the Point Ephemere.

Her album has just been released in France, and comes out in March 17 in the UK.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Shaka Ponk: Wanna Get Free

A new video for the track Wanna Get Free, by Shaka Ponk, released as a single ahead of their forthcoming
new album The White Pixel Ape.

It's a wildly imaginative video, exactly what you'd hope for from one of France's most colourful rock acts.

The new album, the band's fouth, is due to be released on March 17.

Their last, 2007's The Geeks and the Jerkin' Socks collection was a huge seller in France. The subsequent live DVD Geeks on Stage saw them nominated for a Victoires de la Musique award in the best music DVD category.

The band are touring shortly, and play three nights at the Zénith in Paris in June.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Celtic Connections 2014

This week sees the start of the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, and while its focus is on traditional and folk music, there're much of interest to French music fans.

The event has been running for 21 years, and was initially established to fill the normally quiet schedule that the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall had in January.

It has since then become one of the world's biggest celebrations of celtic music, and has become a more diverse event. While celtic music remains at its core, it also embraces traditional music from outwith the traditional celtic countries.

A number of French acts play this year's Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, including Dub Inc, one of the country's best reggae bands. They play at the ABC on Friday January 17.

Meanwhile, other acts from the wider francophone sphere take to the stage, including Paris-based Cape verde singer  Mayra Andrade who plays on January 21, who was recently shortlisted in the best World Music Album category in the 2014 Victoires de la musique awards.

Amadou and Mariam play on January 22 at the Royal Concert Hall, and while for technical reasons not performing their Eclipse set, it's a great opportunity to see one of Africa's most popular exports in recent years.

There is a Breton night featuring Barzaz and Ronan Le Bars Group

 Manu Dibango from  Camerooon has been a pioneer of world music, with his blend of jazz, funk, afro beat and hip hop. He plays on January 26.

Also, Winston McAnuff and Fixi play on January 31, reggae veteran McAnuff now living in Paris where he collaborated with Fixi for 1007 Paris Rockin' and 2013's A New Day.

Francois and the Atlas Mountains: Piano Ombre

More details have emerged of the forthcoming new album by Francois and the Atlas Mountains.

The album, which is to be titled Piano Ombre, has ten tracks: Bois, La Vérité, The Way to the forest, La fille aux cheveux de soie, Summer of the heart, La vie dure, Réveil inconnu, Piano ombre, Fancy foresight and Bien sûr.

It is the first Francois album to have been recorded at a proper studio and with a producer.

The album will be available as CD and vinyl, and a limited edition vinyl will include a 7' of the tracks of Sleepwalkers Town and Bus Rouge.

While the marketing campaign might not be as high profile as the one surounding the Daft Punk release last year, the album's every bit as anticipated in some quarters.

The last release by  Francois and the Atlas Mountains caused many to realise that France produced acts as innovative as anything produced across the channel or elsewhere.

Piano Ombre is released on March 17, and  La Vérité will be released on the same day as a single.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The Sudden Death of Stars: Inside Out and Halcyon Days

Two new tracks from the forthcoming Sudden Death of Stars album, which is due out on March 10.

The band, from Rennes, were one of the bands I was lucky enough to catch live on my recent visit to the city, when they played as part of the Bars en Trans festival, an event that takes place in bars and nighclubs across the city at the same time as the Rencontres Trans Musicales festival at the Liberté and Parc Expo events.

Bars en Trans was a much lower key event, but with a vigorous lineup of acts at a wide variety of venues.

While the acts may not have been as widely known as the likes of Stromae,  the smaller venues gave a much-deserved platform for emerging talent.

Sudden Death of Stars were one of the bands I managed to catch,  and I have to say I was pretty surprised as I was listening to them towards the end of 2012, never imagining I'd have the chance to catch them live on their home turf a year later.  A real pleasure.

Anyway, their new album -their second- All Unrevealed Parts Of The Unknown comes out on Ample Play Records, with live shows in Liverpool (Feb 28) and March (March 4). They play in Paris on Friday March 14 and in Rennes at the 1988 Live club in March 15 if you're lucky enough to be in the area.

You can listen to two tracks here on the Quietus website.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Les Victoires de la Musique 2014 shortlist

The shortlist for this year's  Les Victoires de la Musique awards have been announced, probably the most exciting event in the season of red carpets and glittering awards, at least from a French music point of view.

There's no Daft Punk and no Mylene Farmer, despite the success both acts had in 2013. But plenty of interesting choices, even if the field does feature Stromae rather frequently.

This year the event is being held for the 29th time, and is held on February 14.

Male artist

Etienne Daho
Christophe Mae

Female artist

Lily Wood and the Prick
Vanessa Paradis

Album Révélation

Cats on Trees: Cats on Trees
Hollysiz: May name is
La Femme: Psycho tropical Berlin

Breakthrough Artist

Christine and the Queens
Albin de la Simone

Chanson album

Etienne Daho: Les Chansons de l'innocence
Julien Doré: Love
Stromae: Racine carrée

Rock album

Phoenix: Bankrupt
Indochine: Black CIty Parade
Détroit: Horizons

Urban Music album

Grand Corps Malade: Funambule
1995: Paris Sud Minute
Maitre Gims: Subliminal

World Music album

Winston Mcanuff & Fixi: A New Day
Ibrahim Maalouf: Illusions
Mayra Andrad: Lovely Difficult

Electronic/ Dance music album 

Gesaffelstein: Aleph
Kavinsky: Outrun
Elephanz: Time for a change

Original song

Johnny Hallyday: 20 ans
Stromae: Formidable
Maitre Gims: J'me tire
Stromae: Papaoutai

Musical show/Tour/Concert

C2C: Tetra tour
M: Il(s)
Christophe Maé: Je veux du bonheur

Video Clip

Stromae: Formidable
Woodkid: I love you
Stroma: Papaoutai

Music DVD

Shaka Ponk: Geeks on stage
Laurent Voulzy: Lys and love toyr
Eddy Mitchell: Ma derniere séance

Monday, 13 January 2014

Casseurs Flowters: Regarde comme il fait beau (dehors)

A imaginative video for the track Regarde comme il fait beau (dehors) by Casseurs Flowters.

The track comes from the duo's album Orelsan et Gringe sont les Casseurs Flowters, which was released in November last year.

 Casseurs Flowters consists of rapper Orlesan and Gringe, who have been working together since 2004.

Last year saw the pair release their first full album together, having previously released a mixtape in 2004.

Orlesan  has of course established himself as one of France's foremost - and most controversial - rappers, his most recent collection being 2011's Le Chant des sirènes.

April March & Aquaserge: Des Tics et Des Tocs

I mentioned  Des Tics et Des Tocs by April March & Aquaserge  last year, and it's nice to see a video (more a short film even) emerge to illustrate the song.

It's a suitable  video full of retro charm for the song , while I missed on giving it a mention when it emerged at the end of last month, it certainly deserves your attention.

Best to not quite believe the translation subtitles though.

California-based April March has released several albums so far, her song Chick Habit ( a version of Gainsbourg's Laisser Tomber les Filles) appearing the soundtrack for Tarantino's Deathproof

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.

Director Jonathan Caouette said: ""It’s an homage (in some ways to an old Scopitone film, but a mildly surrealistic one ) It has an existential slant to it. The subtitled lyrics are not the actual lyrics. We shot it in my neighborhood in NYC in just one very HOT day.

"The cast and crew were all enormous troopers in the heat. I was thrilled to work on this and I could not have done it without Elinor Blake, Benjamin Schoos, American Apparel,my kick arse choreographer Ovi, my terrific editor Casey, Carry Curran, and ultimately, my friends at Cowboy Bear Nijia. I consider it, in some ways, my first official music video."

Friday, 10 January 2014

Alex Beaupain: Coule

A new clip for the track Coule by Alex Beaupain, directed by fellow musician Julien Doré

It's the third track form his Après moi le déluge collection, his fourth album, which was  released last year. A second edition of the album came out in November, with an additional five tracks.

Beaupain's musical career began in composing songs for stage and films in the 1990, before the release of his first solo album in 2005 Garçon d'honneur.

His film work continued, winning in 2008 a César for the best music for his soundtrack of the film Les Chansons d'amour, as well as a nomination in 2010 for  Non ma fille tu n'iras pas danser and another nomination in 2012 for Les Bien-Aimés.

His 2011 third album Pourquoi battait mon coeur contained the single  Au départ, which was adopted as the campaign song for François Hollande's presedential campaign the following year. The song was a clever re-telling up of the history of the left in France in terms of a couple's relationship.

Beaupain has a series of live dates in France, as he continues the tour he began last year.

Gesaffelstein: Hate or Glory

In the pre-holidays and end of the year business I neglected to give a mention to the new video by Gesaffelstein, for the track
Hate or Glory.

The track comes from his debut album Aleph, which was realeased at the end of October last year.

The album, by the artist known to friends and family as Mike Lévy, was rated as one of the best dance albums of 2013 by US-based Spin magazine.

Meanwhile, his work on Kanye West's Yeezus alum raised his profile even higher, the album - one of the most anticipated of 2013 - going to number one in the US billboard chart on its release, also reaching number one in the UK and in 29 other countries.

The video should help establish the reputation of the the golden boy of French electronica a as a significant artist in his own right.

He's playing live at a sold-out show the Olympia in Paris on January 39 before undertaking gig elsewhere in France and a show in London on February 14.

Meanwhile, he has been added to the bill of this summer's Vielles Charrues festival in Brttany.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Jimmy Page turns 70: A Tout Casser with Johnny Hallyday

Jimmy Page turns 70 today, and while he's rightly celebrated for his work with Led Zeppelin, I thought a link
 to one of his lesser-known tracks was in order.

Page was a session guitarist when he worked with Johnny Hallyday for the track À tout casser, which featured on Hallyday's 1968 collection Jeune Homme. It was written by Hallyday, Georges Aber and Mick Jones, who later went on to success in the band Foreigner.

The song originally featured on a film of the same name.

Jimmy Page was one of London's most celebrated session guitarists from 1962-1969, in the later years doing session work alongside his time in the Yardbirds.

Page previously featured on Hallyday's track Psychedelic, released the previous year, Hallyday seemingly having an ear for what was going in in the wildly energetic music scene of the late 60s.

What's particularly interesting about his work with Hallyday is that the guitar work is so distinctively that of Jimmy Page, and clearly establishing the groundwork for what Page would do the following decade.

Now if only Hallyday had been recruited as vocalist for Page's New Yardbirds the history of Rock 'n' Roll would have been very different indeed.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Francois and The Atlas Mountains: New album announced

A new album's been announced by the UK's favourite French indie band, Frànçois and The Atlas Mountains, to be released in April 2014.

The release comes three years after E Volo Love came out, the album that secured the band in the ears and hearts of British listeners.

Since then they've played live extensively, and more recently their earlier album Plaine Inondable was released by Domino records, their current label.

Last year Frànçois released a cover of the Etienne Daho track Le Grand Sommeil.

Frànçois and The Atlas Mountain begin a tour at the end of March, with shows in London, Bristonl, Liverpool, Glasgow and Manchester in the UK. They also play in Paris and elsewehere in France, along with a show in Germany.

They're also due to play at the Arènes de Nîmes in July.

A teaser video has been released, and while it doesn't say much, it can only be a short time until more details emerge.

Mylène Farmer: Diabolique Mon Ange

With the relase of Mylène Farmer's new live collection Timeless 2013, the track Diabolique Mon Ange has
been selected to get the treatment as a single release.

The video is, unsurprisingly, a live one from the tour that saw her take to the stage around France and elsewhere last year.

The tour came in the wake of  her Monkey Me studio collection which came out towards the end of 2012, and it began with with a ten night run at Bercy in Paris.

The new album, released in December, reached the top ten in France, selling over 100,000 copies.

The Lyon concert in September was filmed for a forthcoming live video release, which is expected to come out next year. It will initially appear as  a limited film release in  March, with a subsequent blu ray and DVD.

Meanwhile, there are suggestions that Mylène is to get to work shortly on a new studio album, and on their news bulletin on January 4 TF1 reported on rumours  that 2014 would see Mylène collaborating with the band Muse.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Editorial: January 2014

Last month saw 2013 off in style, appropriate for a year that has seen French music and artists attain new
heights of critical and commercial success internationally.

I've outlined elsewhere some of the great releases that have come out in the last year, from Daft Punk to Détroit, Phoenix to Woodkid alongside the likes of Moodoid, Stromae, Saez, Indochine, Lescop and Vanessa Paradis.

A visit to the Les Rencontres Trans Musicales in Rennes not only gave me the chance to see a huge number of acts I'd not normally get the chance to encounter, but also gave me the opportunity to meet with artists and their representatives. I'm sure these new connections will help the Vive le Roq French Music blog grow even more in the forthcoming 12 months than it has in the last few years.

December was our busiest month of 2013, both in terms of number of visitors to the site and in number of posts on the site. And it was probably the most fun, with a visit to  Les Rencontres Trans Musicales in Rennes an absolute highlight.

Of course, a crazy month like the one we just had lays down a challenge for 2014. Can we do better? Can we do more?

The confident answer is of couse 'Yes, we can.' Although, to be fair, it's more 'Well, we'll certainly try!"

January tends to be a quieter month for releases, but by no means does it mean there's nothing happening. Award season begins soon, and shortlists will emerge shortly for the likes of the  Victoires de la Musique 2014, and there are live events taking place including some French world acts playing in Glasgow at the Celtic Connections festival.

In the meantime, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

We're also on Twitter as @viveleroq or you can find me at @karnag

Thanks again to the French Music Office in London and to the Institut francais in London for their help and encouragement over the past month and over the past year, and also to the various record companies and promoters who have helped.

All the best for 2014.

Merci et à bientôt

John K