Thursday, 30 November 2017

Ibeyi: Deathless on C à vous

A very strong performance from Ibeyi on France 5's C à vous show earlier this week, with the track Deathless.

Ibeyi are the kind of act that thrives in the French music scene. The sisters might be French by birth, but they were raised partly in Cuba, and influenced by Yoruba and Santeria.

Their music takes the best elements of this powerful mixture and presents it with the best modern production into something quite unique.

Their album Ash, their second, was released in France at the end of September, reaching the top 20.

Ibeyi have dates around Europe in early December, and go on to play some shows in South America before returning for more European gigs including London on February 28 and at the Olympia in Paris in October.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Sébastien Tellier and Dita Von Teese: Rendez-Vous

There was always a tendency amongst lazier commentators to describe Sébastien Tellier as 'the new Serge Gainsbourg', but given the fact that many critics and their readers might struggle to name other French artists, you can understand where they're coming from.

Tellier's an artist with many sides to him, but his latest project sees him very closely following the footsteps of Gainsbarre, in that he's created an album for a female act who's perhaps not exactly well known as a singer.

Gainsbourg is well known for the albums he created for Jane Birkin and Vanessa Paradis, but he also created collections for Bambou, Isabelle Adjani and Catherine Deneuve.

The collaborative album between Tellier and Dita Von Teese is the burlesque artist and model's debut album.

Tellier described working hwith Von Teese saying: "When I saw Dita dance to a piece of music I had written for her, I had a feeling that her physical presence and her personality were a perfect fit with my music and I started to compose only for her,”

He added: "When you think that you’ve finally pierced Dita’s mystery, she turns out to be more than ever, a creature of dreams, totally out of reach."

I'm uncertain whether this release will establish her as a singer, or if it remains an interesting diversion to Tellier's career. Either way, it's an interesting development in the careers of two remarkable people.

 Von Teese's album will be released in February 2018 on Record Makers.

Calogero: La vraie vie

A new track has emerged from Calogero, an out take from his most recent album that has been added to a new edition of the album along with a selection of other bonus tracks.

The track La vrai vie features on the special edition of his most recent album, Liberté chérie, which originally came out in August.

Liberté chérie is his seventh album and includes the hit Je joue de la musique and it's already sold over 125,000 copies in France and reached number one in the charts.

The new edition also includes alternative version and a session recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

Calogero is an immensely popular musician in France, his last collection 2014's Les feux d'artifice selling over 800,000 copies and becoming one of the biggest sellers in a career that had already seen two of his albums achieve diamond status.

Calogero is currently working with Johnny Hallyday, having contributed his version of Johnny's Elle m’oublie on the On a tous quelque chose de Johnny tribute album that's currently France's biggest seller.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Festival: Le Print­emps de Bourges 2018

Are we already thinking about 2018's festivals? Some of the big events happening over the summer have already named their headliners, nice to see some of the names emerge for this year's  Le Print­emps de Bourges event.

The big name is Orelsan, who plays on April 26 .  Also on the bill are Juli­ette Armanet and Véronique San­son as well as Catherine Ringer who play on April 24

Elsewhere there are LEJ and Brigitte who play with Rag 'n' Bone Man on April 25

Shaka Ponk, Ibeyi and Hollysiz play the Happy Friday night on April 27 and Rone and Laurent Garnier play the Rock 'n' Beat night on April 28.

Le Print­emps de Bourges pretty much kicks off the annual festival season in France, and it's got a firm reputation for delivering a well-curated mix of artists, this year looks no exception.

 Le Print­emps de Bourges takes place from the 24 to the 29th of April.

Benjamin Biolay and Chiara Mastroianni: C à Vous

A live appearance on French TV show C à Vous from Benjamin Biolay, a musician who has the kind of ubiquity in French music that Mark Ronson has elsewhere.

The performance of iEncore Encore! features an appearance by Chiara Mastroianni who appears with him on the album Volver, released earlier this year.

Mastroianni is perhaps better known as an actress, the daughter of French acting legend Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni.

She was married to Biolay from 2002-2005 and they released the album Home as a duo in 2004.

Biolay's Volver album sees him continue to explore latin music, and features appearance by other singers including Catherine Deneuve and Mala Rodriguez.

I managed to miss out on quite a few very fine live performance on C à Vous over the past few months, and I'm tempted to spend some time checking them out and putting together a page with a few of my favourites.

TV5Monde #Acoustic: Barbara special

A special edition of TV5Monde's music show Acoustic this week, with artists paying homage to French chanteuse and singer-songwriter Barbara.

The show marks the 20th anniversary of her death.

The focus is on classical pianist Alexandre Tharaud, whose recently released homage double album entitled Barbara saw him interpret some of her work alongside Albin de la Simone, Hindi Zahra and Tim Dup who feature on this broadcast, as well as others including Jane Birkin, Vanessa Paradis, Dominique A, Juliette Binoche and Radio Elvis.

It's a mark of the respect and affection that Barbara is held in that a cast like this was assembled to pay tribute.

Songs featuring in the session are  Pierre – Valse de Franz, La dame brune, C’est trop tard, Pierre and Say, when you will return?

Monday, 27 November 2017

Michel Sardou: Sardou et nous

While the compilation album of younger artists performing the work of Johnny Hallyday is attracting  huge amount of attention and subsequent sales, there's also a similar work looking at the career of Michel Sardou, entitled Sardou et Nous.

Sardou, who is 70, recently announced that he intends to retire from performing and recording after a career in music and film that has lasted over 50 years/

His recently released album Le choix du fou has been a massive seller in France where his popularity over the decades has withstood changes in fashion and style, as well as political controversy.

The tribute album features contributions from much younger artists, alumni from Kids United and the Voice Kids, such as Nemo Schiffman, Lou, Ilyana, Dylan and YouTube star Angie Robba.

Robba's version of Sardou's song Rouge, originally from 1984 has been released with a promotional video, with Sardou himself appearing in the clip.

Sardou has been playing some final live dates across France, and plays at La Seine Musicale near Paris from December 26 to January 7 with more dates around the country in February and March 2018.

BB Brunes: Terrain vague / Pyromane

A cinematic recent video by BB Brunes for the tracks Terrain vague and Pyromane, two tracks that feature on their Puzzle album.

It's their fourth album, released in September five years after their last release. It's a difficult situation for a modern rock band to be in at the moment, faced with the possibilities of becoming artistically stale and reheating earlier successful formulas, or adapting to more modern influences and risking losing their audience.

But I reckon BB Brunes managed it well, and while obviously a very commercially orientated act, they've managed to come up with something that sounds fresh and doesn't alienate those who grew up with the band.

The new video follows the release of ones released for the track Éclair Éclair in June and Coups et blessures that came out in August. Lalalove U emerged in March with its wonderfully retro stylings.

BB Brunes have an extensive tour of France in their diary from January to April next year, and play in Paris at the Elysee Montmartre on February 14.

Fishbach: Live in London tonight!

If you're in the London area, there's an chance to see one of France's finest acts live tonight, as Fishbach plays the Garage.

She's in the middle of a large scale tour that sees her play dates in France in December, January and February.

It gives me a great opportunity to feature a recent video of a special show she performed in Paris, in the crypt below Notre Dame in Paris.

Fishbach's A ta merci debut album was released in January 2017, perhaps a bit early to be a  contender for album of the year 2017, but none the less a work that helped establish her as one of France's most distinctive artists in recent years.

With any luck the opportunity to see her perform in London is a chance to see an artist who will before too long get the attention she deserves from the anglophone audience.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Gaspard Royant: Wishing You a Merry Christmas

Can it be that time of the year already?

Yes, that time when a strikingly dressed man comes from a cold part of the world with gifts for all the good girls and boys.

It certainly is, and Gaspard Royant, the king of the Haute Savoie Doo Wop Garage 'n' Roll scene is the man of the season again.

His new collection Wishing You a Merry Christmas features the hit (C'mon Baby) It's Christmas Time - which, like Gaspard's other work, should be a hit by the time you read this along with a bunch of other festive favourites.

Gaspard's released Christmas tracks over the past few years, and this collection brings them together in a fine Christmas bonus.

You can find it on a variety of digital platforms to stream or download and with a few weeks to go until the festive season proper, you've got plenty of time to replace those Mariah Carey tunes in your playlist.

A few words about Charlotte Gainsbourg: Rest

A week after its release, I thought it worth reflecting on Charlotte Gainsbourg's new album Rest.

It's probably the best release of her career so far, and I'm a huge fan of her previous work.

Gainsbourg always faces a couple of major critical hurdles. The first is that she's the daughter of two of France's most famous and critically respected artists. Serge and Jane are both pretty large figures to be measured against. It's difficult for any artist who's the progeny of a famous parent to get the respect they perhaps deserve in their own right.

Perhaps Charlotte's success in cinema has helped her break this perception. I think Serge Gainsbourg  wanted to be a bigger figure in cinema than he managed to be. The films he directed remain an interesting footnote to his biography despite his success with soundtracks and title songs and Charlotte's success showed her excelling in a field that her father only had limited success.

Meanwhile, she was up against the regular sexism that all too many female artists face. The success of her earlier work was too frequently credited to her male collaborators. See how many articles discussing her career mention Beck, Air or Jarvis Cocker.

The new album features production credits by SebastiAn, as well as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from Daft Punk and a songwriting credit from Paul McCartney, but none of these dominate the work that she stages. They set the scene, and it's as classy a production as you could hope to come across.

But it's Charlotte who really shines here. It's the work of a mature artist, confronting real life issues with poetry and grace and probably one of the finest works to emerge in 2017.

Shaka Ponk: Wrong Side on C à vous

An appearance on France 5 TV show C à vous for Shaka Ponk, following the release of their new album The Evol,

Shaka Ponk are one of France's most distinctive rock acts, taking elements of punk rock, dance, funk, hip hop and world music, making the kind of colourful and energetic racket that can't help but entertain.

They've been around since 2004, and have the kind of following that propelled their last two albums, 2014's The white pixel ape and The black pixel ape - which were released simultaneously - into the top ten.

In many ways they take up the challenge set by bands like Mano Negra, producing a music that reflects the cultural kaleidoscope that is present-day Paris.

As a live act Shaka Ponk have a formidable reputation, and are touring arenas around France from the end of January and play Bercy in Paris on March 23.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Les Inrocks 2017 festival

Paris hosts this years Les Inrocks festival until the weekend, with acts, DJs, talks and events at the city's Gaite Lyrique and Casino de Paris venues.

The event, which kicked off yesterday and runs until November 26,  celebrates the 30th anniversary of the magazine, which has become one of the country's leading publications, going beyond music and becoming essential reading for wider cultural and political issues.

Among those on the bill are Ibeyi and Django Django,  while Marie Flore played a set at Les Bains  last night.

Moodoid play on Saturday at the Gaite Lyrique in what will probably be one of the highlights of the event.

Other events include appearances by writers including Will Self and a DJ set by Franz Ferdinand's Paul Thomson.

Organisers say that this year's event is faithful to the publication's ambition to be there when things start, and have curated acts and artists that will feed conversations for months to come.

BB Brunes: Live set on Acoustic on TV5Monde

I've not followed TV5Monde's Acoustic show as regularly as I should have in recent months, and as a consequence I've been looking back at some of the recent sessions that I've missed.

Standing out is the set from October by BB Brunes, one of France's brightest modern rock acts.

This year marks ten years since the band released their Blonde comme moi debut album, a top ten hit in France that established them as one of France's most popular rock bands of their generation.

It's been five years since they released Long Courrier, an album that featured regularly on this blog.
BB Brunes recently released their fourth album entitled Puzzle, described as a more dance-orientated collection.

BB Brunes are touring France extensively form January until April next year and play the Elysee Montmartre in Paris on February 14.

The Acoustic show also an interview with Berald Crames and Adrien Gallo.

The tracks played during the session include Pyromane, Éclair Éclair, Lalalove U, Coups et blessures and Terrain vague.

Lamomali: Solidarité

An uplifting new video that features -M- and a cast of thousands is the latest release from the
Lamomali album, a collection that sees him accomplish his ambition of creating an album that celebrates the musical heritage of Mali.

M has been inspired by Mali since he was young, and for this collection that came out earlier this year he's working with some of the biggest names in that country's music, kora player Toumani Diabaté, Sidiki Diabaté and Fatoumata Diawara. 

The new video features contributions from Nekfeu, Santigold and Youssou N'Dour.

Lamomali are about to release a live album, Lamomali Airlines, in a few days time.

Lamomali have been playing at festivals over the summer, and are just about to undertake a series of live dates at Arenas around France. They've got two shows at the AccorHotels Arena on December 18 and 19.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Louane sings Johnny Hallyday

The various artists tribute to Johnny Hallyday has emerged - just in time for Christmas - featuring a
number of younger artists taking on their versions of classics by Le Rocker National.

On a tous quelque chose de Johnny, released last week, includes contributions from Benjamin Biolay, Nolwenn Leroy and Garou, with 16 tracks, all of which are so well known in France that they have become of standards.

You'll hear then on TV talent shows, and they're regularly covered by other French artists, and it remains a source of bewilderment to many in France that the songs popularised by Johnny are not better known to the Anglophone music world.

Johnny is again fighting serious health problems, but remains indefatigable. 2017 saw a tour with les Vieilles Canailles, and he's recording a new album with Yodelice and Yarol Poupaud, the team behind his most recent studio collection De l'amour.

That 2015 album - his 50th studio album - was a number one seller in France, and went on to pick up the Best Chanson award at the Victoires de la musique 2016 ceremony.

There's also the prospect of a 2018 tour by Johnny on the horizon.

In the meantine, the new collection puts the focus on new interpretations of his work

Louane, who is currently the number one selling album artist in France, has a version of Toute la musique que j'ame. It's a very bluesy take of the song and while she might not have the power of Johnny's voice,  she makes it very much her version of the track.

Bjork to headline We Love Green 2018

Nice to see it confirmed today that the We Love Green festival next summer will feature Bjork as the
headline act.

It will be the iconic singer's only French date in 2018 and she plays on Sunday June 3.

We Love Green is being held at the Bois de Vincennes in the east of Paris, the largest public park in the city.

The festival featured Justice, Solange and Benjamine Clementine in June 2017, with artists playing three stages over two days, two other stages hosting events that reflected the festival's green credentials, including talks and films.

It aims to be ecologically sustainable, and features events to raise awareness of environmental issues as well as hosting a well-curated selection of musical artists from indie-rock to dance and electronic.

Bjork is a natural act for an event like this, a cutting edge artist whose heart is always in the right place.

It's a perfectly sized event, and its location in the city means it's easy to access and to find accommodation for the weekend.

We Love Green 2018 is being held on the weekend of June 2 and 3 and tickets go on sale on November 29.

Melody's Echo Chamber: Some welcome news!

Delighted to see some good news from Melody Prochet, singer with Melody's Echo Chamber following a serious accident earlier this year.

In June she was involved in an accident that resulted in her being in hospital for several months. Her tour was cancelled and the release of her album which was expected to be released this year was postponed.

Melody's 2012 self-titled album was a key release in recent French psychedelia, as much informed by dream pop as it was by the retro future sounds of Stereolab.

The album was produced by her then partner Kevin Parker, from Tame Impala, and was met with a serious amount of critical praise and attention. Noticeably it got a great deal of favourable press in the English language media from the likes of Mojo and the NME.

The track Cross my heart was released earlier this year, ahead of the planned release of her follow-up album Bon Voyage. However, these plans were put on hold as a consequence of her accident.

With her attention fully on her recovery in recent months, a recent update on her Facebook page has been a very welcome piece of good news.

I'm delighted to see things going well for her, and hopefully the message marks the beginning of a new phase in her career that sees health and success for her in equal measure.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Orelsan: Tout va bien

A new video for the track Tout va bien by Orelsan, from his recently released La fête est finie, a
collection that looks like being one of 2017's key releases.

The track was co-produced with Stromae, the video reflecting perhaps a more thoughtful and reflective tone. Stromae, one of the biggest names in francophone rap, has been quiet recently due to health issues, but his presence is on both this track and on the track La pluie.

La fête est finie is Orelsan's third solo album. He resumed his career as a solo artist after working again as half of Casseurs Flowters. The track Basic introduced the album in some style, its video like the one for Tout va bien shot in Ukraine.

The new album has been the biggest selling release of his career so far. Basic has had over 30 million views on YouTube so far. While Tout va bien might have some work to catch up on this total, it's certainly an impressive piece of work in its own right.

Orelsan has got dates in arenas around France and bordering countries from February, and has a gig at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris on March 15

Hollydays: Léo

A very psychedelic flavoured video by the duo Hollydays for the track Léo.

Hollydays, a duo of Elise Preys and Sébastien Delage, recently signed to Polydor in France, are a duo who have been working together since 2014.

They released an EP in 2015, Les insatisfaits, a classy five track affair that followed Les Animaux the previous year.

I featured them in this blog in 2015, and it's encouraging to see their talent being recognised. They've got the potential to make a considerable commercial impact, and to hopefully continue to do some interesting things.

Hollydays release a four-track EP in January.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Moodoïd: Reptile

With my focus being elsewhere last month I missed mentioning the new track by Moodoïd, one of
this blog's favourite acts to emerge in France over the past few years.

Moodoïd, featuring Melody's Echo Chamber guitarist Pablo Padovani, made an impact with their Je suis le montagne and De folie pure singles, their reputation cemented by their Le monde Möö album in 2014.

They're also a convincing live act, I was delighted to have the opportunity see them at the Transmusicales festival in Rennes.

Reptile continues the funk flavoured strangeness mission made explicit with their Au Pays des Merveilles de Juliet cover released earlier this year.

The new track is something that wouldn't be out of place on Prince's Around the world in a day album.

Moodoïd play in Paris at the Inrocks festival at La Gaîté Lyrique on November 25.

Nolwenn Leroy: Quelque chose de Tennessee

Ahead of the release later this week of a various artists tribute album to French rock legend Johnny Hallyday, a clip of Nolwenn Leroy performing her version of the Hallyday classic Quelque chose de Tennessee has emerged.

It's more or less the title track of the collection, named On a tous quelque chose de Johnny, which features contributions from a cross-generational collection of artists including Thomas Dutronc, Florent Pagny, Benjamin Biolay, Calogero and Patrick Bruel.

Some of Johnny's best known works feature, including Noir c'est noir, Ma gueule, Marie and Que je t'aime.

This kind of album has been a fairly constant feature of the release schedule in the run up to the Christmas season, with collections in recent years featuring work originally by Telephone, Daniel Balavoine, Jacno and - probably the most commercially successful - Jean-Jacques Goldman.

Some have been better than others, most stick to a pretty successful commercial format - get some young reality TV stars to perform a song by an act from a previous generation - and it's an item for fans of the young acts or for fans of the older act curious to hear the new versions.

Leroy's no stranger to the works by the Grand Fromage of French rock, and has performed alongside him repeatedly over the years. She appeared with Johnny during the 2002 season of Star Academy she later went on to win, and has since  featured on other TV shows alongside Johnny.

With a cast featuring some of France's big name recent pop stars and a heritage,  reputation and fan following as large as Johnny's, the only surprise is that this hasn't been released already.

Monday, 13 November 2017


London hosted this year's edition of the MTV European Music Awards at the weekend, one of the biggest budget music award ceremonies on the continent.

The focus, being MTV, was firmly on the north American and UK music world, with three awards going to Canada's Shawn Mendes - Best Artist, Best Song and Best Fans. Kendrick Lamar  took best video award for Humble, and Dua Lipa the best breakthrough act.

Coldplay, 30 Seconds to Mars and Eminen picked up the best rock act, best alternative and best rap act awards.

However, the Best Electro award went to France's David Guetta, who performed a set in London's Trafalgar Square after U2, recipients of this year's  MTV EMA Global Icon Award,  played there.

Elsewhere the Best French Act award went to Amir, who picked up the award for the second year in a row.

French-born Amir originally competed in the Israeli version of the TV show Pop Idol in 2006, before eventually signing to a French label. He competed in The Voice: la plus belle voix in 2014/15, finishing third.

He went on to represent France in Eurovision in 2016, releasing his second album Au cœur de moi, a double platinum seller in France. This year his single États d'Amour was released in September, his new album Addictions released at the end of October.

Bataclan anniversary

It's two years on since the Bataclan atrocity, and while coverage of the event moves quietly from music sites to a few paragraphs on news sites alongside a picture of the president as just another routine ceremonial political event, it's worth reflecting for a second on what happened.

Ninety people died at the Bataclan, in a night that saw a total of 130 people killed. It was the worst terrorist attack ever on French soil, and anyone who ever read a music blog, went to a gig or was moved by music could have been in that audience.

That it was the Eagles of Death Metal mattered not at all.  Those behind the atrocity did not discriminated on musical genre, style or artistic merit. Nor did they discriminate on ethnicity, race, country or ideology.

There remains a debate as to whether or not it's appropriate for bands to have played the Bataclan  following what happened. Personally, I think to have closed the venue would have seemed a victory to those who perpetrated the violence.

It's not dancing on the graves of those who died. No one could attend the Bataclan unaware of what happened there. And to go the Bataclan, to celebrate live music, art and culture, to dance, to be happy and free however briefly from the worries of everyday life remains a pretty positive act of defiance against those who would rather see us dead.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Rone: Mirapolis

A new album by French electronic artist Rone is something worth celebrating. Mirapolis comes three
years after his Creatures album, a favourite of this blog.

Mirapolis features contributions by a wide variety of artists including Baxter Dury, John Stanier from Battles,  Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead and Bryce Desser from The National who appeared on Creatures.  Cellist Gaspar Claus makes a repeat appearance. The cover was designed by French film director Michel Gondry.

 Creatures was, to these ears, a work that took contemporary French electronic music to another level, and Mirapolis looks set to do much the same. It's a work that reveals more depth and colour with repeated listening. Expect to see it on a few 'album of the year' lists over the next few months.

Rone played at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris, where he played at the Grande Halle de La Villette last week. His set's available to watch thanks to the good people at Culturebox.

Rone plays in London at the Steelground on Saturday.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Editorial: November 2017

So last month wasn't exactly a success in terms of writing content for this blog. Onwards and upwards.

November sees the new release by MC Solaar at the end of this week after a ten year absence. He's already confirmed a series of live dates for next year to follow up the release.

Last month saw the return of Orelsan, with La fête est finie reaching number one in the charts, a release that looks like the biggest seller of his career so far.

This weekend also sees the NRJ Music Awards 2017, perhaps France's most mainstream music award, and one that normally sees non-French acts dominate the headlines, but it's always interesting to see the results.

So a promise to do better this month, and this time we mean it!

As always, you can contact us at johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

I'm always pleased to hear from record companies, PR companies and promoters, so do drop me an email. I'm always keen to hear new things, and relay information about acts I already know and love.

The blog is also on Twitter as @viveleroq, although that's pretty much just an autofeed when we update with a new article. You can usually find me on my personal Twitter account quicker, @karnag

If you're around Facebook, remember to like the French Music Podcast UK page, where you can get regular updates with both fresh and vintage French music.

Thanks as always to the good folks at Oui Love Music From France .

Merci et à bientôt,

John K