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 9)

index_20090222_06Looking at the very diverse entries in this “best of 2014″ series during the last weeks, we may very well conclude it was an exceptional year when it comes to French music.
But if you are truly honest there is only one Album of the Year. Or at least one Comeback Album of the Year. Or Filles Fragiles/Sourires Favourite Album of the Year.
And that is of course the magnificent album by the great Coralie Clément. Filles favourite for many years she seems to be lost and forgotten but what a comeback she did make!
To check what Guuzbourg wrote about it, see here.
Only one year ago, we were afraid she would be vanished from the music scene with a nice “Joyeux Anniversiare” and we would never hear from here in terms of full albums. But today, on the last day of 2014, we can rejoice ansd say “hurray, the guardian angel of this blog is back!”.

New Keren Ann album

360_keren_ann_0503Keren Ann was a busy bee in the past years, producing songs for films and tributes, writing an opera, but most of all, being a mom. But now the time has come to start working on a new album. You and I can be a part of that album, via this Pledge Music crowdfunding campaign. You can either pre-order a digital copy of the new album for 10 euros, buy the vest she wore on the cover of her La Disparition album for 625 euros or have her come to your house to play for 10,000 euros. I think 42 euros for a vinyl album plus download is pretty steep, but encouragement of KA is always money well spent.

Best of 2014 (part 8)

fillemystereGee. Last year’s choice was an easy one, crisp, inspiring, animating. But 2014? Maybe I’ve missed out on the really wow albums and songs, but … Salome? Nope. Coralie? Naah. Even Vanessa C. sounded like she caught the more-of-the-same disease, and Stéf Lapointe’s Les amours parallèles was, sorry, Guuz, fourteen fragile touches too much, surely the worst Lolita impersonation I’ve heard in many anni horribili. The most consistent, if quite conservative album concept of 2014 doubtless was Fredda’s Le chant de murmures, a coolly slumberous and laidback Americana hommage heading straight to Paris, Texas, including a highly charming cover version of Francoise Hardy’s Träume.

The song of the year is so fuckin’ Eighties bébé disco pop that even the most technically advanced time machine would immediately crash in the stroboscope blizzard. Especially listen to the no-wave guitar. Actually, the song is from 2013, but what the hell. And now try your music recognition app, s’il vous plait.

See You in 2015

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…

Noël

As you know, I’m a sucker for alternative Christmas songs. Earlier, I posted DCTV’s version of Noël Interdit (click), they also recorded a ‘When Francoise Hardy and Black Sabbath met to record a Wham! cover’ dream version:

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Chic Gamine is the only French-language band on the yearly (and usually great) Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada Christmas compilation (click). On that comp, and on CG’s recent EP, is this really sweet seasonal song:

Best of the Best (part 6): Nevche

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:

Best of the Best (part 5): Mina Tindle

Regular guestposter Mark Sullivan picks an exceptional track by Mina Tindle
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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.