Time to round things up, the best and worst songs, shows and albums of the year. The staff of Filles Sourires (Sky, FransS, Maks, me) will post their personal lists in the upcoming days. I’ve asked several guest-contributors and Friends of FS (FOFS) to compile a year list too. One of the FOFS e-mailed me that he was quite disappointed of 2011, French music-wise. And I have to agree. When I go through older posts, it seems like we’ve been posting almost exclusively about Coeur de Pirate, the Gainsbourg family and Benjamin Biolay. Ahem.
That said, I did hear some exciting, fresh and sultry sounds. Here goes:
1. Coeur de Pirate – Blonde. This blog was there every step of the way, it seems. In summer it was Armistice, the mariachirock-project of Bé and Jay. Then came the long (well, several months) wait for what promised to be the bestest French album of the year. La Martin did not disappoint. Blonde is a retrofied, country-and-mariachi’d string-fest. Killer songs, killer production, killer lyrics. On December 4, me and FransS will attend the celebration of CdP’s magnificent talent, when she will KILL the Brussels AB-concert hall. No prisoners!!
2. Brigitte – Et vous, tu m’aimes? Ever since I heard the beatific Battez-vous, I fell in love with quirky Aurélie and Mayane. Their first album is full of sexy odball songs, some in English, most in French. Catchy, weird-but-good, I wonder what they’re going to do next.
3. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Stage Whispers. This will come out next week, I got a promo and I got hooked. It’s a bits’n pieces-album, with leftovers, livetracks and new(-ish) songs. Charlotte’s leftovers are more exciting then the coverversions of Serge’s songs by half-brother Lulu. Listen to Paradisco for instance.
4. Austine – Le calendrier. I didn’t play this as much as I should’ve, for it’s everything this blog stands for: Lolita-voiced, gorgeous girl sings intimate, piano-driven songs about love and life. Austine needs more attention.
5. Salomé Leclerc – Sous les arbres. Honestly, I think Les Quebecoises made a bigger impression on me as an avid listener of French music than their French counterparts. Coeur de Pirate is hors categorie, this melancholy babe is destined for great things. Her album isn’t a five-star affair like CdP’s first big bang, but I songs like Volcan and Partir Ensemble take my breath away. Also from Quebec, also impressive this year: Chloe Lacasse, Catherine Major, Caracol.
(Close, but no cigar: Mélanie Laurent, Claire Keim, Elsa Kopf, Poney Express, Camille, Yelle, Claire Denamur)
There can be only one. Sure, the dvd in the magnificent Histoire de Melody Nelson box lacks the clips, but they’re all on Youtube and on earlier SG-dvds. What counts is the fantastic booklet, the documentary, the outtakes. Worth the wait, worth the dough.
Songs ‘n singles (male and female)
Albums by French singing guys that impressed me? Err…there was Thomas Fersen’s Je suis au paradis, Thomas Dutronc’s Silence on tourne, and then my mind goes blank. A few songs ‘n singles did make a lasting impression:
1. Thomas Marfisi – Les filles commes toi. Britpop, French-style. Very catchy. Looking forward to that album
2. M & Vanessa Paradis – La seine. Didn’t see the film, but this track of animated movie Un monstre a Paris is as good as earlier teamups of M and Nessa.
3. Keren Ann – Je fume pour oublier que je bois. Bestest track on the Alain Bashung tribute Tels Alain Bashung. Keren was involved with several projects this year. And then there was her own album, which failed to impress me. But this danceable cover is very noteworthy.
4. Mighty Mocambos & Caroline Lacaze – Physique. Funkiest funk I heard all year.
5. Benjamin Biolay & Chiara Mastroianni (aka HOME) – D’un rive à l’autre. A LOT of tributes were released last year, the one for Jacno was by far the most interesting one. This duet, between former lovers Ben and Chiara, was one of the highlights.
6. Nicolas Comment – Nous étions Dieu. Gainsbourg, produced by Martin Hannett, I wrote in January. Heavy bass, booming voice, great hook.
7. Philémon Chante – J’arrive toujours un peu trop tard. Canadian singer goes to Cuba to record his ironic, yet compelling songs, with a Cuban accent. Nice.
8. Charles Aznavour – Va. From his most recent, and hopefully his last album. The voice is gone, the starpower is still there. Toujours doesn’t sound like an epitaph, more like a celebration. Take a bow.
9. Lescop – La Foret. I know very little about this guy. I do recognise a brilliant track when I hear one.
10. Miles Kane – The Responsible. Not French, but a cover of a classic Dutronc-track, well done by a Britrocker who’s a big fan of French 60s pop.