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New clip from Chat

09/07/2014

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Poom

02/07/2014

Could this be the French discofied summer hit we’ve been waiting for? Camille and Siegried, together Poom (from Paris) make a great case:

On Soundcloud:

Listen to their discofied covers of Boris Vian and Brassens (or Francoise Hardy, if you prefer her version):

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Barbara Carlotti at 40

02/07/2014

Congratulations Carlotti! Mark Sullivan looks back at the career of that other Barbara:
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Barbara Carlotti, who is 40 today, has one of the most beautiful voices on the planet. Lovers of francophone popular music are fortunate that she has chosen chanson in its 21st century form rather than classical music or the theatre. In any of these arts Barbara would excel; to listen to her talking or singing makes one realise how wonderful the human voice can be. Guuzbourg’s interview with her in Amsterdam in 2008, the only known one in English, is here.

Barbara Rose Carlotti, born on 2 July 1974, developed her singing talent at the Conservatoire Niedermayer at Issy-les-Moulineaux in the western Paris suburbs.
With her voice, style and mane of blonde hair she has an elegant, positive, open nature which makes everyone love her. This goes with what Telerama’s popular-music critic Valérie Lehoux calls her ‘subversive nonchalance’ – a laid-back style which conceals something deeper.

Barbara Carlotti has produced four albums since 2005. The first,‘Chansons’ with her sometime musical collaborator Bertrand Burgalat, is little known. There followed Les Lys brisés (2006), which brought her to public notice. Her song ‘Cannes’, which portrays the annual Film Festival, was used by Canal+. See her live version and as matched to film of the Festival.
This was followed by L’Ideal (2008), with some excellent songs. ‘Mademoiselle Opossum’, her entry for the Prix Constantin in 2008, in a typically elegant live performance:

She spent three years on her 2012 album, L’Amour, l’argent et le vent which Filles Sourires welcomed in April 2012 as ‘elegant, detailed and classy’.
This included time living in Japan, Brazil and India to seek influences. Valérie Lehoux wrote in her review: ‘Her songs, which remain as French as a Saint-Laurent dress, have picked up some of those sounds, creating a distinguishing foreignness.’ See the atmospheric video for ‘L’amour, l’argent et le vent’:

She has made some intriguing appearances in films, of an artistic rather than commercial type. See her in the short film ‘L’Italie’ here and as the world’s most glamorous tram conductor in a clip from ‘Après la rêve’, filmed on the Grenoble tramway system.

Barbara Carlotti’s concerts have a light-hearted atmosphere, in which the audience feels it is being taken on a journey of exploration, and wonder what she will do next. Typical is her October 2012 concert at La Cigale, Paris – the intriguing song ‘Ouais ouais ouais’ where she put on a mask, and an excellent version of ‘Dimanche d’automne’.

A longer ‘concert privé’ filmed about 2009 for a small invited audience in Paris, ‘Mezzo voce – Barbara Carlotti’ is now available here. This includes two short songs in English – between 30m00s and 35m00s in the 50-minute film.

Carlotti is not just an auteure-compositeure-interprète and occasional actress, but a creator of sounds and words, mixing voices with tones – a producer of and a voice for radio programmes, and is always in demand for that. So she does not need to focus on writing songs or performing all the time.
Recently she has worked with Christophe Blain, a creator of Bandes Dessinées, producing mixed shows of art and music, notably ‘La fille’. She has just finished producing and appearing in a long-running radio series on France-Inter, ‘Cosmic fantaisie’.

What can we look forward to from Barbara now that she is 40? She wrote on her facebook page on 25 June, as the ‘Cosmic fantaisie’ series reached its end, ‘Après 10 mois de fantaisie radiophonique on revient à la chanson’. We can hope for some new songs in the next few years. Interestingly, she shares a manager with La Grande Sophie – the experienced and highly-regarded Judith Levy.

Meanwhile she has issued a EP of songs from her and Bain’s ‘Cosmic fantaisie’. Two can be heard here: ‘Les yeux au ciel’ and ‘Du mouvement’ .

Bonus clip:

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Passiflora

01/07/2014

Passiflora is a gypsy-folk band from Costa Rica, with mostly female members. I bumped into them while searching for music from Costa Rica for a weekly radio column (on the might KX Radio, every wednesday, 8.15 am Amsterdam time). As you know, the Dutch football team plays Costa Rica next Saturday, that’s what triggered my search.
Passiflora sing in Spanish, English and, yes, French. Coeur Privé is a quiet, multi-voiced track that’s in the vein of Emily Loizeau – the English tracks have a more American, almost poppy feel. Read a profile on the band HERE. Rather odd interview HERE. Listen to another version of the French track HERE.

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New Yelle (lyric) video

01/07/2014

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Blondino

30/06/2014

10176261_790733914271977_1133661099785160154_nBlondino doesn’t like limitations, they’re not aiming to please. Yet the first EP by the Paris-based duo (Tiphaine Lozupone & Jean-Christophe Ortega) is a very pleasurable affair.
First track Mon amie is a twangy, brass and strings-infected ballad with a movie end-credits vibe. Think Lana del Rey, produced by Calexico. Tiphaine has the same ice-blue vocal chords like Lana, but with more Birkinesque huskyness.
Next song Oslo steps into La Grande Sophie-territory, a fierce scorcher of a song. But the cherry on the cake is the electronically charged Tant qu’il y aura des hommes. The gothic Hotel Morphée’s a reference, Goldfrapp and Bashung too. Different tracks, different moods, but that’s intentional. Blondino’s named after a novel by Sture Dahlström, they’re influenced by books, movies, musical spectacles and the aforementioned bands.
A highly recommended introduction.

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New Alka video

26/06/2014

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Moodoïd

26/06/2014

Taken from their forthcoming debut album, here are two new tracks mixing Moodoïd’s signature psychedelic pop sound with hints of glam rock and world music and then some. Featuring Melody’s Echo Chamber, Didier Malherbe (from cult band Gong) and Riff Cohen.

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Parfait Eté 2014

23/06/2014

parfait_été2014-300x300Yep, it’s that time again. To round up the best summer tunes from France and Quebec, for the fifth annual Parfait Eté-playlist. This time, I selected 20 synthified songs, because in the last few months, the musical legacy of Elli & Jacno, Lio and Niagara popped up in tracks by new artists like Theremynt, Clea Vincent, DyE and LoVe on the Beat. It’s danceable, it’s upbeat, it’s breezy. And Daniel Chenevez, half of Niagara, is on there. As are some non-French singing, yet very French artists. Have a great summer. Go to Spotify HERE. Cover designed by Wilbert Leering.

And speaking of Lio, guess who released a new (rocking) single today?

Oh, and if you want to keep up to date with current French sounds, follow my New French Pop playlist on Spotify. HERE

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Pully-Québec – Catherine Major & Salomé Leclerc

20/06/2014

Mark Sullivan reports on the Swiss song festival.

Every two years the Swiss town of Pully, a suburb of Lausanne on the shore of Lake Geneva, holds a song festival of francophone music from North America.
It is the initiative of a local politician, Rico Perriard, who began it in 1996. It now includes other villages on the famous wine-growing slopes of the Lavaux.

Big names draw the audience – in 2014, Isabelle Boulay and Lynda Lemay. The income they bring enables the organisers to fly over other singers, who do not attract crowds but are at the artistic summit of Quebec music. This year, Catherine Major and Salomé Leclerc flew from Canada, for their only appearance in Europe this year. (Les Soeurs Boulay also featured, but unfortunately Ingrid St-Pierre cancelled at a late stage due to illness.)

Both Catherine and Salomé appeared solo.
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Catherine Major appeared on 11 June in a large sports hall, on a high stage more suited for a rock or country-folk band. She began with some beautiful piano-playing, and then a number of her well-known songs including ‘Saturne sans anneaux’, ‘Valser en mi bémol’ and ‘Amadeus’. She sang ‘La voix humaine’ standing on the edge of the stage, a-capella, and finished with ‘Le piano ivre’.
The conditions were not right for a fine performance. A singer at the piano on a high stage is not easy to see well, and the lighting was disappointing. The least good feature was that the speakers for her voice were to the sides, so that piano and voice came from different directions. One hopes that next time she will be able to appear in the main Pully theatre, the Thèâtre Octagone, in a well so that the audience looks down on her, and play with good acoustics. Nevertheless, it was good to see Catherine live.
See her in full flow with a band and string accompaniment at Festivoix, Trois-Rivières in July 2012 here with ‘Saturne sans Anneaux’.

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Salomé Leclerc played on 13 June in a tiny theatre, the Thèâtre de la Voirie, with just 60 places, and the audience was very close to her indeed. My photos understate how stunning she is. Tall and slim, at 27 she is the perfect representative of the ‘folk alternative’ side of Quebec music. With her long training in percussion, she can create a fine sound solo from just a guitar – acoustic or electric – and a set of drums. There cannot be anyone else who can do so much by herself in live performance.

With just an hour, she offered four tracks from her debut album – ‘Partir ensemble’,
‘Ne reviens pas’, ‘Love, naive, love’ and the rarely-heard ‘Volcan’. From her forthcoming second album she gave us ‘Arlon’ and ‘Vers le Sud’ and two new as yet unavailable tracks. She was regretful that there was not time in her set to sing some of her best-known tracks – ‘Tourne encore’, ‘Sous les arbres’, ‘Caméléon’. Worth hearing was ‘Garde-moi collée’, most memorably sung live in 2012 on TV5 Monde.

It was a surprise talking to Salomé afterwards, as when she speaks English she sounds European – Swiss even – and not Canadian. Her whole style – appearance and performance – seems suited for this side of the Atlantic. So we must hope that she will be back soon.

The good news for Filles Sourires is that Salomé told me ‘I know Filles Sourires’ and that she has read the May 2014 post about her! Once her second album ‘ 27 fois l’aurore’ is out this September, will Salomé return to Europe ? If she reads this post, I hope she decides on another visit, with her band.