Archive for the ‘Musique’ Category

h1

Best of 2014 (Part 7)

19/12/2014

MusiqueFrancoWhat actually constitutes a “French” song? I thought about this while perusing an article in the French-Canadian blog L’Animateur Culturel! which – correctly – defines a French song as one that is performed in the language of Molière and not – as it is often incorrectly described – a style.

For me – a Francophone Englishman and someone who passionately believes that a great song actually transcends language – a great French song is actually a great song that just happens to be performed in French. Conversely, I’m not just going to love a song just because the artist happens to be performing the song in French… There has to be a certain “je ne sais quoi” in the first place to whet the appetite.

And because I’ve already decided that it’s a great song, whatever the particular genre (be it pop, alt-rock, indie, folk, etc… depending on what is rocking my particular boat) it is always going to stand comparison against any song, irrespective of language…

“La musique en français c’est n’est pas un style de musique. Y’a de tout en français!” (“Music in French is not a style of music. They are all in French!”)

So when it came to selecting a song of the year – which in many respects is actually far easier than choosing an album (you’re looking at one moment of sheer brilliance as opposed to a degree of consistency over a number of tracks) – I was looking for that one moment that not only perfectly encapsulates the artist, but also would stand shoulder to shoulder with any other song in a similar category that was released this year…

201412xx Filles Sourires ArtworkI’d actually got a short-list of three(!), but ultimately – and having long bemoaned the dearth of innovative French (or french-Canadian) indie-rock artists – there can be only one song of the year.

Hôtel Morphée’s “Dernier jour” is a dark and deliciously subversive thumping alt-rock tune; all pounding drums and repetitive bass overlaid with Laurence Newbornne’s gorgeous rasping, sultry vocals… And then the refrain kicks in, the vocals soar, imploring, there’s a ferocity – at times animalistic edginess here… All of a sudden those trademark syncopated rhythms of orchestral strings are centre-stage. The song literally explodes between the ears… and then it’s gone… replaced by silence… the heart is still pounding…

h1

Best of the Best (part 6): Nevche

13/12/2014

Regular guestposter Adrian Arratoon goes back to his fave track of the year, by Nevche. And looks forward!

Vas-tu freiner? by Nevche was my track of the year, from their Retroviseur album. A haunting, nocturnal, poetic track that was utterly beguiling. The bit where the slightly discordant riti, or Senegalese violin, comes for the first time in was probably the moment of the year in French music for me. The rest of the album is pretty much essential listening too.

2015 already looks bright, listen to the first single of a new album (released next year) by Dominique A:

h1

Best of the Best (part 5): Mina Tindle

13/12/2014

Regular guestposter Mark Sullivan picks an exceptional track by Mina Tindle
ob_ae9bc9_mina-tindle-dsc03275
Mina Tindle’s new album ‘Parades’ hides within it a dance track which must be among the best of 2014 in any language. At Mina’s one appearance in Britain, in London in November, ‘The Curse’ was unknown to most of us the audience until it suddenly began, rather different from her classic style. We stood mesmerized by this unnamed tour de force, with its great instrumental middle part. When Mina (Pauline de Lassus) signed my CD afterwards, I asked her what this extraordinary track was, and she wrote the name for me.

‘The Curse’ is about the idea of rebuilding a relationship (‘Let’s go back to where it felt right’) but then deciding not to (‘And you won’t be around, It won’t hurt so bad’), with the title taken from one line, ‘Magic or curse, I don’t regret’. As a dance track, it deserves a wide audience.

‘The Curse’ is the key song in Mina Tindle’s elegant ‘Green Lagoon’ filmed session, preceded by ‘Pas les saisons’, the much-admired ‘I command’, and ‘Ā Seville’. (Four of the tracks on ‘Parades’ are in English, eight in French.)
‘The Curse’ starts with a run-in at 15m55s. Or watch the song by itself here. Steffen Charron, her bass guitarist, who plays in the film, told me that they were amazed at the perfect location, a restored sand quarry turned nature park just 60 km south of Paris.

A well-filmed performance by Mina of ‘The Curse’ at this July’s FNAC Paris concert is here. It starts at 3m25s after ‘Pas les saisons’. The full set at Paris (40 minutes) is also on YouTube. She does 8 songs: Bells; Ā Seville; Lovely day; Madonne; Too many small things; I command (at 21m35s); Pas les saisons; The Curse (30m56s to 36m00s)

For the background to ‘Parades’ see Mina’s website page. ‘Le Figaro’ now calls her ‘la plus anglophone des chanteuses françaises’.
As if to prove it, here she is singing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on fire’ in Paris last month

Two interviews in English from 2012 (here) and 2014 (here) tell us more about Mina’s background and career. And she is in person charm itself.

h1

Best of 2014 (Part 4): Stéphanie Lapointe

13/12/2014

20141112 Stephanie Lapointe ArtworkIt is safe to say that 2014 has produced a bumper crop of Francophone albums. Many of these have appeared in this very blog and some have even been reviewed by yours truly. Mentally I’m whittling a year’s worth of albums to a top 10… And then Guuz announces that this year we’re going to only nominate one album… just one… our choice for the album of 2014…

So… I’ve thought long and hard about my choice and so with apologies to Hôtel Morphée, Chloé Lacasse, Catherine Leduc and Salomé Leclerc, to name but a few of my top 10 – all of whom are arguably responsible for some of the great albums of this (or any) year. Somehow though I already knew the other nine albums on my list were going to be (very, very) good and I was already anticipating their release. Hopefully someone will nominate them (if not you’ll be able to read about them again elsewhere), but my album of the year has to be the one that not only was I totally unprepared for, but also – and to quote Guuz himself – left me more than a little bit shaken in the process…

Montréalaise singer-actress-author and Unicef ambassador Stéphanie Lapointe released her last album back in 2009. This year she released “Les amours parallèles”, an album that manages to both immediately transport the listener back to les années soixante while at the same time brimming with such timeless quality that the songs here could have been written anytime over the past fifty years. Over ten intimate portraits that describe the many facets of love; good and bad, escape, forgiveness, loss, grief and desire, a brief moment in time has been captured and frozen for all eternity.

Actually if there is an award for team album of the year, then “Les amours parallèles” is the undisputed winner. Already armed with a honey-dripped and mesmerising voice that would be described as nailed-on Fille Fragile, Stéphanie surrounded herself amongst the crème of Québec’s song-writing and composing talent; Philippe B – winner of two Félix at this year’s ADISQ Gala; Jimmy Hunt – GAMIQ award winner and Polaris nominee; award winning poet Kim Doré alongside Émilie Laforest and Joseph Marchand of blog favourites, Forêt, who were also responsible for the album’s production.

From the opening number, the Philippe B composition, “L’oiseau mécanique”, with it’s poignant piano melody and Stéphanie’s voice softly floating above the clouds to the haunting resonance of the English horn on the closing “Nous revenons de loin”, this is an album of terrifying consistency.

The album feels very French – and while it’s not impossible to imagine this album being written and performed in (say) English – it resonates with “Frenchiness” and the echoes of Françoise Hardy, France Gall and Jane Birkin (whose “Pourquoi” has been lovingly reinterpreted here); yet for an album that has a distinctly retro-sixties feel (indeed, even the album artwork harks back to the period), there’s only one song here, “Un jour comme un autre”, that is actually from that era. Originally performed by Brigitte Bardot on her 1964 album “BB”, here the nuances of Stéphanie’s voice perfectly captures the feeling of resignation and despair.

Mention has to be made of the two stunning duets on the album – both written and composed by their respective co-vocalists. The haunting “De mon enfance” is graced by the angelic harmonies of Stéphanie and Philémon Cimon and the only English-language offering, Leif Vollebekk’s “Not a moment too soon”, an incredibly haunting song of sombre and imposing orchestral strings, gentle soothing piano and arresting vocals.

There are also some incredibly thoughtful touches that help bind the songs on this album – heavenly choirs flit in and out of the spotlight, the arrangements – be it strings, piano or acoustic guitar – all perfectly capture the particular mood of a song.

“Les amours parallèles” is a gorgeous concept album that revolves around the theme of love in all of its many guises. It is also nothing short of a masterpiece and deserved of consideration as album of the year 2014.

h1

Spotify Playlist

12/12/2014

All of the bestest French tracks from 2014 in one handy Spotify playlist: HERE

spotify-generic

h1

Best of the Best 2014 (part 3): Salomé Leclerc

12/12/2014

I love the way she pronounces her own name (watch), Salomé Leclaaaarrr. I love the way her sweet singing voice cuts through the darkness and heaviness of her music, as a much needed torchlight in a pitch black forest. I love how she channels Joy Division, Timber Timbre and even Kraftwerk in her songs – I suppose this is what they all would make if they were stuck in an elevator with Salomé. I love 27 fois l’aurore, the sophomore album by the Canadian songstress. I even bought the vinyl version. As one friend, who’s also a record store owner, once said: these days, vinyl albums are works of art. 27 fois l’aurore is my most treasured possesion of this year.

h1

Best of the Best 2014 (part 2)

11/12/2014

What a good year for the filles! ”But you can only pick one”, Guuz godfather of Filles Sourires told us. So here it is, not random chosen of course, but taken from the outstanding album Lunes by this beautiful freckled girl from Canada, Chloé Lacasse. A track that completely fulfilled its promise after the auspicious intro, just as the whole album does: Renverser la Vapeur.

Chloé Lacasse – Renverser la Vapeur

h1

Noel Interdit

10/12/2014

Yes, Christmas music blog Christmas A Go Go is open again and posting odd/good/funky xmas tracks for a month now. Some in French, like this cover of a Johnny Hallyday track, by our American friends of DCTV:

Free download!

h1

Nadine Shah

05/12/2014

Nadine  ShahIn the UK, Nadine Shah has often been compared by music journalists with the likes of P J Harvey and Nick Cave – not exactly artists that you would usually associate with this blog – but I’m indebted to “Gypsy, Death and You” for tweaking my inner indie demon and introducing me to her.

Born on Tyneside to Pakistani-Norweigian parents, as a teenager Nadine moved to London to carve out a career as a jazz-singer. Possessing a voice of frightening intensity (and a haunting style that is at least part-based on her father’s interpretation of traditional Ghazal and religious Sufi songs), she has wowed with her own unique style that conjures up stark, brooding aural landscapes.

Last year she released her critically-acclaimed debut album, “Love Your Dum and Mad” and an EP “Dreary town”, an incredibly poignant and moving song that charts the unravelling of a relationship, as it stales and spirals into the depths amidst recriminations, jealousy, empty wine bottles and cigarette butts…

Earlier this year Nadine re-recorded the song in French as “Ville Morose”, with new lyrics that provide an even darker attraction. This version received rave reviews amongst French Bloggers (here and here); even Nadine was moved to comment that the French lyrics not only gave the song a a different flavour but that it sounds even better in French than in English…

“Ville Morose” demonstrates that not only is Nadine Shah an exceptional songwriter in either English and French, but also adds further proof that a great song will always transcend a linguistic divide. More importantly it demonstrates that not only is she a fantastic singer with the most mesmerising of voices, she’s also a Chanteuse.

h1

De Staat goes Serge

02/12/2014

Dutch leftfield rockband De Staat released Vinticious Versions, an EP with radical different versions of their own songs. On one track they sound like D’Angelo, on this one they channel Beastie Boys and on the one below they re-create a Gainsbourgian atmosphere. On female vocals you hear Janne Schra. THIS is the ‘official’ version.