Francoiz Breut

Vif! is the new (ninth, if I counted correctly) album by Cherbourg’s Francoiz Breut. The first two tasters of the album were VERY good, and the album does not disappoint. FB never sounded so groovy, and early Stereolab seems to be of influence on her music. Which is nice. She sings about the power of nature, of reaching out and touching, the power of smelling. And dancing, I presume. This track really stands out:

Barbara Rivage

Second feature on French duo Barbara Rivage (Roxane Argouin, Vivien Tacinelli). The debut album ‘Tout sera beau’ is out, and it’s a cool one. Fresh, bit dark, danceable. I hear Les Rita Mitsouko as much as Françoise Hardy (as Clara Luciani, with lesser disco input), but these two aren’t copycats, no sir. Love Roxane’s low voice, the funky basslines, the electronics. Two examples of their greatness:

It’s Here

The new album by Coeur de Pirate is out. Review on this blog asap. You can listen for yourself on Bandcamp

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!”.

Best of 2014 (Part 4): Stéphanie Lapointe

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.

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

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.

Best of the Best 2014 (part 1)

A few days ago, we asked you to send in the songs and/or albums that rocked your world the hardest this year. In the coming days, the FS-writers (Steve, Sky, FransS, Mark, Guuzbourg, David) will post their picks.
Below are a few contributions by readers (and one regular contribuant).

Mart writes: ‘My Song of the Year is ‘Il pleut’ by Elodie Frégé, from the Bande à Renaud-tribute album. Her voice, the crescendo in the music and Renaud’s remarkable lyrics. He’s a wordsmith in the trues sense. I love the whole album, the covers really add to the original versions.’

Dany (from Germany) writes: ‘My French song of the year is by Les Maggy Bolle, “La Cougar”. Maggy´s from Besançon. I saw her live on a deep romantic summer nigh in the south of France.

Les Maggy Bolle – la cougar – Lure le 13… door Ricky_Banlieue

Iris writes: ‘Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens is the best in the Francophone world that happened to us. It’s a perfect and very original mix of French and English, I just keep playing it.’

Steve (manager of Vanessa Contenay-Quinones) writes: ‘Well Guuz as much as i hate to be blindingly obvious, I genuinely am in love with Vanessa’s bitter sweet and sensual track ‘Pardonne’ taken from her latest LP ‘Made In France!’

Sami writes: ‘So far, my pick would go to Yelle’s ‘Complètement fou’, it has as usual some great energic and danceable tunes, and it’s even better in concert.’

Sami adds: ‘My favorite song is Camelia Jordana’s ‘Ma gueule’, beautiful voice and lyrics,the Ethio-jazz sound, I’ve been really impressed and hope that her next album will be the masterpiece she tried to make with this one.’

Marie Warnant

Pretty soon, we will round up the best of the best, the albums and/or songs that reached places that we never thought would reach (in/on/at) us. Some readers already send us their picks, you still can.
Marie Warnant
My choice for Album of the Year was made, when all of a sudden Marie Warnant‘s third album came flying by. Released in April, but I recently bumped into it. And boy, what a beauty this is. She took a left turn, trading her gentle rock-chanson sound for a more leftfield option. NYXTAPE is inspired ‘by influences as divers as Arto Lindsay, Georges Moustaki and Tom Zé and mixes references from Lizzy Mercier Descloux to David Byrne in her own unique way’, this bio says.
To me, the new sound reminded me of Marie’s fellow Belgian acts like Allez Allez, Antena and some artists on the heralded Les Disques du Crépuscule label from the 80s. It’s funky, it’s quirky, it’s really, really good.