2015 Année Erotique

stellaSebwax is one of the regulars of formidable bootlegger hideaway BootlegsFR who also participated in La Masheillaise; the guy has a quite rewarding website as well. His amalgam of French hip-hoppers NTM and Gainsbourg’s „Je t’aime“ is as fresh in 2015 as it was when released two years ago.

Sebwax – Serge est encore là (93 vs 69)

Always in for a soixante-neuf, fellow mash-up artist DRA’man fuses Serge with Missy Elliot … Jeez, that sounds like an awful lot of fucking, just like bro-in-mind Serge intended it to be.

DRA’man – 69 Lick Shots

Talking Gainsbourg, how about a splendid instro version of La Javanaise you always wanted to hear, but were afraid to ask? French classical guitarist/ composer Roland Dyens makes an intimate song an even more intimate experience.

Roland Dyens – La Javanaise

For adepts of The Order of the Fragile Vocals: A no less inspired Javanaise version by stunning blonde Stella Le Page (see b&w pic), including an equally ravissant cello and Cinemascope arrangement. Eat your heart out, CdP.

Stella Le Page – La Javanaise

Quite more mundane is Harry J’s fairground loop Je t’aime version from 1969’s Liquidator album, probably the incentive for Serge to try again reggae-style with Sly & Robbie on Aux Arms et Caetera. Caution: Rrralph’s Vomit Bag required after three rounds of listening.

Harry J All Stars – Je t’aime

Last not least for the Sixty-Niner’s nephew. Serge’s nephew Alain Zaoui, but record-wise, Monsieur Alain Ravaillac for you. In 1982, SG produced Ravaillac’s sleaze funk epic La Discométhèque with Goblin-like synth sounds and the immortal opening: „La queue à la main, joint au bec, la Discométhèque“. An overdose of testosterone poetry that Serge commented with a single word: Brill.

Alain Ravaillac – La Discométhèque

Ariane Moffatt

20150122 Ariane Moffatt PortraitAriane Moffatt is one of this blogs favourite artists,although apart from last year’s (wonderful) single “Soleil chaleur” things – at least on the musical front – have been quiet since 2012’s “MA” (although to be fair Ariane and partner Florence Marcil-Denault recently became parents) – but now she’s back – not only with a new single “Debout”, but also a new album “22h22″, scheduled to be released in March.

It’s only January, but I suspect you’ll have to go some to find a better example of dreamy, synth-pop as will be released this year. “Debout” is a stand-out dance-floor filler that brings to mind Fanny Bloom’s “Pan”, and is beautiful and heartfelt song to the power and triumph of love and relationships… Welcome back Ariane!

Rosie Valland

20150121 Rosie Valland PortraitAnd here’s yet another talented singer-songwriter from Québec…

Rosie Valland’s 2014 eponymous debut EP was a melancholic and atmospheric collection of autobiographical songs that created a vista of monochromatic landscapes. With the promise of an album to be released later this year, she’s back with an intriguing teaser in the shape of her new single, “Rebound.”

Similar to the themes of the earlier EP, “Rebound” again has an autobiographical and melancholy feel; but whereas Rosie’s earlier songs were painted with a monotone palette, here there feels as if a hint of colour and depth has been applied to the canvas – there are deft touches of brass and a hint of fragility to Rosie’s voice that evokes fellow Québécoise Salomé Leclerc.

Mauve Lunel

201501xx Mauve Lunel ArtworkPerhaps better known as a textile and graphic designer, “Le temps m’apaise” is the first track from aspiring singer-songwriter (and currently resident of Nantes) Mauve Lunel’s debut EP, “Décembre”, which is scheduled for release on February 26th.

The EP draws on her experiences of the last few years, split between the cities of Montréal (Mauve cut her musical teeth while a student at Cegeps – the general and vocational colleges of Québec – don’t sniff, artists of the calibre of Isabelle Boulay and Ariane Moffatt got their early breaks here), New Delhi (where the songs for her EP were written) and Paris, “Le temps m’apaise” is a calming acoustic folk-tinged pop song that highlights Mauve’s seductively hypnotic vocals.

Unibox

1797421_10152436642313258_2965283131295847025_nThe first French album to really make an impression this year, is the untitled debut by Unibox. Not the most convenient bandname, if you ask me. Google it, you’ll see. Unibox is a six-piece, three girls (Valerie, Alice, Adeline) and three guys (Loic, Theophile, Baptiste). As I understand it, Valentine is one singing the most tracks. The music has touches of early Air (Fille de l’air, Intro), classic chanson (Suis Moi) and restrained Moodoïd (i.e. less psychedelic). The voices, the duets, the gentile atmosphere, it’s breezy, upbeat (even if most lyrics aren’t) and, in case of album closer Cette Nuit, just brilliant. Listen to the full album on Spotify.

Marie-Pierre Arthur

Welcome in the 10th year of FillesSourires.com. Here’s a new track by Marie-Pierre Arthur. Guestposter Mark Sullivan has the news:

Et voilà – Marie-Pierre Arthur is Filles Sourires’ first new song of 2015.
‘Rien à faire’ is the advance track of her third album, ‘Si l’aurore’ (does the title remind you of anything?) due out on 17 February. It catches the ear straight away – and seems a definite move by MPA from folk-rock into pop. The beginning has a late 80s feel: it recalls for me the start of ‘Love Power’, the Dionne Warwick – Jeffrey Osborne number by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. And it’s a potential dance track. It puts Marie-Pierre into yacht rock/AOR territory, Taylor Swift territory even. And it’s better than Swift’s own move from country & western into pure pop.
This augurs well / cela est de bon augure pour l’album.

La Féline

20141217 La Feline ArtworkSo I’d already drafted my album of the year when I recalled a post concerning Agnès Gayraud’s project La Féline. The EP in question, “Adieu l’enfance”, had recently morphed into a full-blown album, so I gave it a metaphorical spin… And the more I listened the more there was this nagging voice in the back of my head that kept telling me that this was a truly gr-r-eat album…

“Adieu l’enfance” is the most intoxicating mix of eighties-influenced dreamy electronic synth-pop, guitar-tinged indie-pop all mixed with spell-binding vocals; “Les fashionistes (au loin)”, outwardly a wry observation on the ‘sameness’ of the fashion police but actually that of the world viewed from the perception of the alienated outsider. The song’s hypnotic beat and Agnès’ breathless vocal style create a compelling soundtrack of a disturbingly dystopian landscape…



“La ligne d’horizon” features the most dreamy synth pop rhythms – complete with a haunting trumpet refrain with a touch of cello that add extra depth and poignancy to the coda; The album’s title track kicks-off with looped-vocals and the most gorgeous of synth-pop rhythms. The vocals are breathless – spellbinding – the chorus is uplifting – a song that does not so much regret the passing of a childhood moment as rejoice; “Zone”, with the must exhilarating – pounding – industrial synth soundtrack, that about half-way through seamlessly transformed into an indie-rock song.

Guitar-fuelled indie rock gets an airing with “Midnight”, a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on The Cure’s “Seventeen Seconds”; the beguiling a cappella “Rêve de Verre”, a resplendent multi-dubbed choir and a hymn to the loss of innocence and “La fumée dans le ciel” complete with gorgeous vibrato guitar that transports you back to the sixties (‘retromania’ as Agnès might say?)

The overall effect of this album is to create a succession of timeless song which expertly blended the familiar with the yet to be discovered. Indeed, the whole raison d’être of the album is captured by “Moderne”; melancholic and thoughtful, a manifesto to the belief that ‘new’ is in fact ‘old’ and newness is just a reinvention of the past. (Agnès touches upon the idea of ‘modern is old’ in the pages of her fascinating blog “Moderne, c’est déjà vieux” (“Modern it’s Already Old”).

“Adieu l’enfance” is, upon reflection, too good an album to pass up…

Best of 2014 (Part 7)

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…