Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: Francois and the Atlas Mountains - Piano Ombre

If E volo Love was the album that made the world sit up and notice Francois and the Atlas Mountains, Piano
Ombre should be the album that sees them make a major commercial breakthrough.

If Bois begins the album with an initially unsettling soundscape, taking an ambient sound and layering it with beats, vocals and finally moving to a full-on sax over electro beats, La Verite brings us straight in to an indie-pop world that's as colourful as it is enchanting.

There's a lot going on in this collection, and if anything the craft that's gone into the recording and production has given the band a more expansive landscape  to explore, and they make the most of the opportunities it gives them.

Piano Ombre is shot through with the unique stangeness that makes  Francois and the Atlas Mountains such an engaging  act.

There are few acts that could bring together African rhythms, indie singer-songwriting and cutting-edge electro without it sounding forced.  Francois and the Atlas Mountains do it effortlessly and playfully.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Mylène Farmer: Timeless 2013 film

An evening at the cinema with Mylène Farmer was on the schedule for many in France this week, with the
preview screening of her latest DVD Timeless 2013 being held at cinemas around the country.

The special one-off screenings were seen by over 100,000 people at 220 cinemas in France,  Belgium and Switzerland, smashing previous records for similar screenings.

The film captured the shows she performed at the Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon last year. A live CD was released last year, in the wake of her tour that saw her play ten nights in Paris.

The film is available as a DVD and Blu-Ray from May 16.

Farmer is apparently working on a new studio album, a follow-up to her 2012 Monkey Me album.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Julien Doré: On attendra l'hiver

A new video for Julien Doré , this time for the song On attendra l'hiver.

The track, like his most recent hit Paris-Seychelles comes from his most recent album LØVE, which was released in October last year.

LØVE gave him his third top five album,  a follow up to his 2011 Bichon album and his 2008 debut Ersatz.
This new track is a more melancholy affar, reflected in the more sombre video that was directed by Doré himself.

Doré recently made the video for Alex Beaupain's track Coule and seems t o be establishing a reputation for himself behind the camera as well as behind the microphone.

Woodkid remixes Pharrell's Happy

An extraordinary remix of Pharrell's international hit Happy, currently sitting at number one in the French SNEP singles chart by Woodkid, one of France's most talented musical operators at the moment.

The song's been a viral success, spawning all manner of videos and covers, but Woodkid re-interprets the track as a piece of orchestral melancholy, something that might sit comfortably on his The Golden Age debut album.

While Pharrell's vocals are immediately identifiable, the music changes things entirely, slow piano and strings giving a different tone to it, making it sound closer to Woodkid's own work than Pharrell's own output.

Woodkid has a number of significant live dates ahead, including the Coachella festival in the USA, a show in Brazil as well as elsewhere in Europe as well as a headline slot at the Solidays festival in June.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Amandine Bourgeoise: Ma Gueule

A new track ahead of the release of Amandine Bourgeoise's new album Au Masculin, an album that collects
her versions of songs made famous by male artists.

The first is Ma Gueule, a song that has become one of Johnny Hallyday's key songs.

Bourgeoise represented France at the Eurovision song Contest last year with the song l'enfer et moi, and while not winning, certainly gave a good account of herself in front of an international audience.

The choice of a song by Johnny Hallyday is an interesting choice for  afirst track from the album to be released, as she supported Hallyday at a number of his shows during his L'attente tour.

Bourgeois was the winner of the sixth series of Nouvelle Star, the French version of the TV series Pop Idol, in 2008.

Other tracks on the album, the singer's third,  include L'eau a la bouche, the Serge Gainsbourg song, and Alors on danse by Stromae.

The album is due to be released on May 5.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review: Élucubrations – Antoine on 45 1965-1969

A great archive release this week, with the Élucubrations – Antoine on 45 1965-1969 collection documenting the early work of the influential French singer-songwriter.

Antoine exploded onto the French pop scene in the mid 60s, his long hair, combat jacket  and patched jeans making him an embodiement of beatnik style, his music an electrifying blend of Bob Dylan and Donovan, shot through with intelligence, humour and attitude.

This new CD brings together three EPs he released, with two rare English language tracks as an added bonus.

There simply isn't a bad track on this collection, from the Dylan-esque Qu'Est-Ce Que Ca Oeut Faire De Vivre Sans Maison to the more straightforward 60s pop of Before The Good Thing (Aint Good No More). It's a fascinating time capsule from a strange and interesting time.

Antoine took on garage rock and psychedelic pop, and left an indelible mark on the French pop scene, with both Jacques Dutronc and Johnny Hallyday inspired to write songs about him.

If there is a perception that the EP format was simply a way for artists in the 50s and 60s to cash in on one decent song by selling it as a bundle of four, this collection shows that the EP format could equally showcase an artist in a way that an LP.

An EP could put forward four great tracks, without the need for weaker tracks to fill the time to make the playing time long enough for an album.

By focusing on his EP releases, this collection captures an effervescent talent in its diversity and energy,  while remaining true to the artist's original vision. After all, he would have taken his time to consider carefully which tracks he'd feature on his EPs, so it's fitting that the same care is being taken here.

Antoine might now be better known as a champion of the sea, with his sailing adventured documented on TV and in books since the 1970s, but this collection shows that in the 60s his star shone brighter than most in France.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Cascadeur: Collector

A second video for the album Ghost Surfer by Cascadeur, this time its the track Collector to be released as
a single.

It follows the title track, which surfaced with two different videos a few months apart.

Collector, a more melancholy number, features a duet with veteran chanteur Christophe.

The video is a suitably atmospheric affair.

The album, Cascadeur's second album proper, has already been one of this year's big sellers in France.
Our helmeted hero takes to the road shortly, with dates across France

Détroit: Le creux de ta main

A new video for a track by Détroit, this time it is the song Le creux de ta main that gets the promotional treatment.

It's the third track from their Horizons collection to be released as a single, following Droit dans le soleil and Null and void.

Now that much of the controversy surrounding the release of the album has passed, and the actual music has had time to be judged on its own merits, it's proved to be one of last year's finest releases.

Obviously questions remain about Bertrand Cantat's comeback, but taken on its own merit the Détroit album stands up well to the legacy of Noir Désir.

This song in particular both brings back memories of Noirdez at their peak.

Détroit have an extensive  number of forthcoming live dates, including three shows at the Olympia in Paris on October 13, 14 and 15.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Daft Punk: Grammy Awards rehearsals video

Some great footage has emerged of rehearsals for Daft Punk's appearance at the Grammy Awards.

It's a relaxed performance with Pharrell, Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers.

Still, a formal enough occasion for the Daft Punk boys to remain in full costume.

It would of course turn out to be a busy night for them, picking up a host of awards for Random Access Memories.

You have to love the audience shots, featuring all the place marking pictures of the celebrities who would be sitting there later.

It has to be said that there's still quite a bit of applause for a runthough of the track. Well deserved, too.

Albert Camus lit L’Etranger / REMIX

An interesting event being held in Edinburgh tonight, courtesy of the Institut français d’Ecosse as part of its
marking the Semaine de la langue française et de la francophonie.

Albert Camus lit L’Etranger / REMIX is an event that brings one of the biggest figures in 20th century French literature into 21st century club culture, in a live experience.

The show centres on a reading of the book L'étranger, by its author Albert Camus which was recorded in 1954, six years before his death.

This recording is brought to life and mixed with contemporary electronic music by Belgian DJ Pierre de Mûelenaere, the performance added to by images mixed live by video artists Orchid Bite.

The show takes a text, acknowledge to be  a classic of modern literature, and creates a contemporary multi-discipline interpretation.

It was originally created to mark the centenary of Camus' birth, and has since been staged internationally, and was in Moscow and Washington at the end of last year.

Literature, music and visual art are brought together and made to overlap, creating a new and unique performance that goes far beyond a simple recitation.

The show is being held at the Institut français d’Ecosse 13 Randolph Crescent, Edinburgh tonight (March 20) and tomorrow (March 21)

A free programme in English and French will be available at the door. Members : £5 / Non members : £8
Albert Camus lit L'étranger REMIX - teaser from ONLIT Editions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Shaka Ponk: Lucky G1rl

A new video from French rockers Shaka Ponk with the track Lucky G1rl released on the week the band put
out their latest album.

The White Pixel Ape came out on Monday, over two yeas since the band's last collection The Geeks and the Jerkin' Socks.

The success of that album put the band firmly on the French musical map, selling over 200,000 copies in France.

The new video follows Wanna Get Free, which emerged in January as the first track to be promoted from the album.

The band recently picked up an award at the Victoires de la Musique ceremony for the best music DVD for their Geeks on Stage collection, documenting a show at Bercy in Paris during the band's tour that followed their last album.

They've got a few live dates ahead of them in Belgium and Switzerland, and some shows in France in May and June, including three nights at the Zénith in Paris in June.

We Were Evergreen: Daughters (session)

A great video of a session by London-based French indie favourites We Were Evergreen with a beautiful
acoustic version of the song Daughters.

The band release their debut album, entitled Towards, on May 5.

They've been a hardworking bunch and have established themselves as one of France's most interesting acts in recent years and I'm certainly looking forward to listening to their album.

We Were Evergreen have been around since 2008, releasing their first EP in 2010,  and they have built a solid reputation no doubt thanks to their regular touring across the UK and elsewhere.

They're also supporting Goldfrapp on tour across the UK from March 26 until April 7, with shows in Birmingham, Salford, Brighton, Portsmouth, Bristol, Reading, Glasgow, York and Gateshead.

They also have a show at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris on May 19

Monday, 17 March 2014

Comett: An appeal for support

I've featured the Paris-based electro indie act Comett here before, their Once Upon a Time/The City of
Lights song, and associated video, getting my full attention in March 2012.

The video went on to win (much deserved) awards, and the band are now looking for crowdfunding to support the release of their debut album My reality is your fiction, which they hope to release later this year.

They also intend to make some live appearances

Comett have been around since they were founded in 2005 by Alex C.P, when they released their first self-produced EP Meeting With The Stars.

They're hoping to raise 3,000 Euros, and have so far raised over 400 euros. They're looking for sums from five euros, which give you their thanks and a namecheck on their facebook and Twitter, to more generous sums which will get you the band playing live in France or even the guitar used on the recording of the album.

Other sums get you special copies of the CD and various other goodies.

It certainly seems a worthy cause if you're into French music, so if you've got a few spare euros you'd do well to throw a few of them in Comett's direction.

Full details of their appeal can be found here >

In the meantime, a reminder of their wonderful track and video.

St Patrick's Day: Alan Stivell - Suite Irlandaise

Since I kicked off this blog I've marked St Patrick's Day as an occasion to celebrate the musical links between France and Ireland.

It's worth remembering that the biggest festival of Celtic music in the world is held annually at Lorient in France.

For a small country, Ireland has inspired generations of musicians from country's far from its shores, and France with its own indigenous Celtic culture has felt this influence more than many.

While Ireland's culture is marked internationally today, France's celtic culture is less well know, but certainly deserving of being celebrated.

Alan Stivell has been since the late 60s one of the foremost ambassadors for France's Celtic music, so a vintage clip of his interpretation of an Irish song seemed appropriate.

Although worth remembering  that even decades after this clip was filmed, the influence of Irish music can still be felt on France's music, with a new generation of artists like Nolwenn Leroy taking it to heart.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Zaz: Gamine

Another track from Zaz released as a a single, the song Gamine coming from her Recto Verso album.

The album was one of France's biggest selling releases last year.

It was the singers second album, and it saw her nominated at the Victoires de la Musique awards last month, and while not a winner, it was another significant step in her career.

She's got a number of arena dates coming up across France, including shows at the Zenith in Paris on May 16 and 25.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Jay-Z and Daft Punk: Computerized

A track has emerged online presenting a surprise collaboration between Jay-Z and Daft Punk.

The track Computerized leaked online, but with little information about it. say that they can confirm that the track is genuine.

It's not certain when the track was recorded, some have analysed the track and noticed Jay-Z's reference to his Blackberry, and noticed that he's been on a contract with Samsung since 2013 which would date it to before then.

Many online commentators reckon that the track dates from around the time of Daft Punk's Tron Legacy soundtrack.

There's always the possibility that it's something more recent, and that a finished version of the track may yet be released.

As is the nature of internet leaks, nothing is certain, but the possibility of more work between Jay-Z and Daft Punk emerging is a fascinating possibility.


Monday, 10 March 2014

Natas loves You: Skip Stones

A colourful and international themed video, appropriate for a band originally from Luxembourg, based in
Paris and featuring two French members, one English, one from Finland and one from the US.

The clip was directed by Thibault Dumoulin and shot in India.

Skip Stones is the lead track from the band's new four track EP.

It comes ahead of their debut album The 8th Continent, expected to come out in summer 2014.

It's taken the band, originally formed in 2008 a while to get to the point of releasing their debut, but by the sound of things it will be well worth the wait.

I'm pretty sure we'll be hearing a great deal more by this band in 2014.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The Plastiscines: C'est la ouate

A new clip by French rock band The Plastiscines, with the track C'est la ouate.

The track comes from the new EP by the all-female three piece, entitled The Rock Cover, which comes out in collaboration with the Black XS perfume by Paco Rabane.

The original version of C'est la ouate was performed by Caroline Loeb who had a hit with the song in 1986. I was a hit in France as well as in Germany, Italy and Spain, and also reached the top ten in Argentina.

The new song is something of a comeback for The Plasticines, whose last release was their 2009 About Love collection that featured their best-known song Barcelona.

They were the first band to sign to NYLON records, a label set up by the Editor-in chief of the style magazine of the same name following the release of their 2007 debut album LP1

Their new EP features five tracks including Blue Jeans, originally by Lana Del rey and Murder on the Dancefloor originally by Sophie Ellis Bextor. Also featured are Sexy Boy by Air, and Wake me up before you go go originally by Wham!  All songs re-interpreted  in the Plasticine's own rock style.

The band have some live dates in France at the end of this month and at the beginning of next, including a show in Paris at La Maroquinerie on April 3.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Judah Warsky: Marre de Tout

I features Judah Warsky before, with the track Bruxelles, capitale de l'Europe, so I'm pleased to see another
track getting released with a video.

Marre de Tout features on his recently released new album which also features the track Think of Me.

Judah Warsky previous album was 2012's  Painkillers and Alcohol album.

Warsky seems to inhabit the strange fringe of the electronic music world inhabited b the likes of Sébastien Tellier, and it's certainly fertile territory.

His album Bruxelles, his second, was released last month on Pan European Recording.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Wolves & Moons: Dreamer

A quite wonderful clip for the track Dreamer by Wolves & Moons.

The music, a quite beautiful piece of folk-tinged rock, is rather fine too.

There's a huge amount of craft gone into this video, and it shows.

The Franco-English band have been around sonce 2011, initially as a three piece, releasing a debut EP in 2012 that they recorded at their home studio in Amiens.

A fourth member of the band was added and the group first played live in their current four-piece line-up in November 2012.

Their second EP, Brother, was released last year.

Yannick Noah: Ma Colère

A new track Ma Colère from reggae star (and former tennis star) Yannick Noah.

It's easy to read a political message in Noah's song, and he's always been a politically involved performer.

The song's already been criticised by  Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front party whose politics are referred to in the lyrics ("My anger is not a front, and it's not anger had the honour of fighting theirs")

It comes ahead of a new album. Noah's last release was the 2012 Hommage collection, an album of covers of Bob Marley songs, and it was a hugely successful release that caught the public's affection for both the music of Bob Marley and for Noah himself.

His last album of original songs, entitled Frontières, came out in 2010.

 Yannick Noah's new album is expected at the end of May

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Review: Fauve: Vieux frères - Partie 1

There's a feeling that Fauve are one of the most hyped acts at the moment, with expectations high about their
debut collection  Vieux frères - Partie 1.

And it is an impressive and confident work. The words urgent and passionate, the music clever and the production spot on.

And this collection continues their previous work, the barrage of lyrics of Voyous sets their agenda, with the feeling they have much to say and little time to say it in.  Requin-Tigres is a more expansive work,  a brief respite before Jeunesse Talking Blues brings back the anger and frustration while Rag #3 is more reflective. Infirmiere more song-based and not a million miles from Stromae.

De Ceux is another densely-worded work, Rag #4 a pause before we enter Tunnel,  guitar weaving around beats and female vocals.  Lettre a Zoe and Loterie are probably the works that will be returned to repeatedly.

It's very much a hip hop album, but with most of the genre signifiers removed.

So Fauve are a collective, rather than a crew or a posse. Their work is spoken word rather than rap, with guitars rather than turntables.

While no doubt breaking down genre conventions in its way, maybe this irritates me slightly. It could be seen as whitewashed hip hop for an audience uncomfortable around black culture.

But Fauve do win you over. It's not as important as it perhaps thinks it is, the lyrics are not always as poetic they probably should be, but there's enough going on to maintain interest, a momentum that persuades you to overlook and forgive any issues you might have. This is a journey that you want to continue.

It's a success despite some reservations. We'll see if  Vieux frères part two secures their position.

Editorial: March 2014

Another month passes at Chateau Vive Le Roq, but February 2014 was certainly an interesting one for
several reasons.

Primarily because it saw Daft Punk's overwhelming victory at the Grammy Awards in the USA. It's hard to think of a time when French music making a bigger impact internationally, and I'd like to think that the consequences of the impact made by Daft Punk will continue to be felt for quite some time to come.

Of course, there's more to French music than Daft Punk, and that fact was made clear also this month. The Grammys also saw the work of Cédric Gervais recogised with an award for Best Remixed Recording, Non Classical for his re-working of Lana Del Rey's Summertime Sadness and Kanye West's Yeezus album getting two nominations,  best rap album and best rap song,  the album featuring contributions by Daft Punk  as well as by Gesaffelstein, one of France's most celebrated young artists.

Meanwhile, the Victoires de la Musique awards in France saw awards going to artist that even the most anglocentric listeners would have heard of - the likes of Stromae, Phoenix, Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Hallyday emerging with new decorations for their trophy cabinets.

But the show also showcased  some of the emerging talent France has on offer, with the likes of Cats on Trees, Christine and the Queens and Zaz taking the stage,  suggesting that while previous generations of French music may have bagged the trophies, there's a huge amount of talented acts waiting in the wings. Hopefully 2014 will be the year some of these acts get the widespread recognition they deserve.

Incidentally, February  2014 saw this site experience it's biggest traffic ever. If you were one of those who came, merci. Hope you liked it and you come again.

All in all, not a bad start for 2014, considering January and February are traditionally one of the quieter periods  of the year for music-related issues.

As always, 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  and also to the various record companies and promoters who have helped.

Merci et à bientôt

John K