Yearlists (8)

bands_liminanasWhen starting to think about 2013, my first thought was that it wasn’t a good year at all. No highlights, disappointments, a meager year in the FS history.
I listened to everything again and started making a shortlist, with about 20 names.  And then the other year lists appeared. 42 different names (!) of which only 10 made my shortlist….
Maybe 2013 wasn’t that bad overall, and can we hail 2013 in the future as one of the most diverse years in FS history.

So apologies to Vanessa Paradis, Pendentif, and Laurence Hélie who were bubbling under, but here’s a yearlist with a lot of new names…

10. Carla Bruni – Little French Songs
Comeback album of the former French First Lady. All political fuzz set aside, it’s still Carla Bruni, people!
09. Marilou – Au Milieu De Mon Écart
08. Ottilie – La Histoires d’O2 – XIIII
Belgian singer with a  special album, that stayed a bit under the radar. See more here
07. Sarah Olivier – Pink Galina
06. Ariane Brunet – Fusée
05. Sophie Maurin – Sophie Maurin
04.Sally Folk  – Confection
03. Angèle David-Guillou – Kourouma
02. Riff Cohen – A Paris Surprising album. the title song (here) makes me happy everytime I hear it.
01. The Limiñanas   – Costa Blanca
Gainsbourg with guitars.. Wonderful album! (and in january they will come to Holland. Wonder how the will perform life!)
[couldn’t find a clip of their neiw album, so here is an older one!]

Year list (7)

Here’s guestposter Sylvester lookin’ over his shoulder. He will broadcast his best of the year list this saturday and on January 4th, via THIS link.

Father Christmas will have a hard time finding interesting new albums in the category Variété Français. The past few months have not exactly been fruitful for French chanson. On the other hand, in the first part of 2013 the supply was overwhelming! Very difficult to reduce this overload to a Top 10.

10. Thomas Fersen & The Ginger Experiment
In the year he turned fifty, Fersen went back to the rock sound of his debut. Good for him, it compensates for his lethargic voice, which is so much in contrast with his imaginative lyrics. VIDEO

9. Rose – Et Puis Juin
Her third album got rather a poor reception by the critics, but it wasn’t that bad. At least ‘Aux éclats je ris’ was an excellent song to start spring with. VIDEO
8. Carla Bruni – Little French songs
Charming songs about Mick Jagger and about her sentimental, dynamic husband. François ‘Penguin’ Hollande is a poseur, according to La Bruni, but I’m glad his victory made it possible to relaunch her singing career. VIDEO

7. Sanseverino – Honky tonk
His newest album was a tribute to blue grass music, but the jazzy gipsy sound dominated like before. Stéphane Sanseverino remains the best representation of Django Reinhardt on earth. VIDEO

6. Clarika – La tournure des choses
Nice lively cd of the 46-year old singer, who recently was the victim of a death-anouncement-hoax on Facebook. No wonder she prefers old-fashioned means of communication, like letters written with a ballpoint – she sings about it on her new album. VIDEO

5. Hôtel Morphée – Des histoires de fantômes
Promising debute of this Canadian avantgarde popband, with a nice folky psychedelic sixties sound. It took them five years to make their first album, but now they have acquired a taste for it: next year they will record a successor. VIDEO

4. Sophie Maurin – Sophie Maurin
Ragtime piano, bluesy mood, charming voice, interesting lyrics, excellent debutante! I very much liked her first album, wich is varied and vivid, with a slightly melancholic aftertaste. VIDEO

3. Kent – Le temps des âmes
Kent, aka Hervé Despesse, started as an Anglophile punker and now got new inspiration in Berlin, where he performed with pianist Marc Haussmann at a Kreuzberg cabaret. The result is a sober, nearly solemn album, which is sehr gut. VIDEO

2. Alex Beaupain – Après moi le déluge
Beaupin’s fourth album definitely proofs contemporary French chanson is far from dead. Nostalgic realist songs like ‘Grands Soirs’ won’t make history, but are of a timeless beauty. VIDEO

1. Albin de la Simone – Un homme

In the past I thought De la Simone was too self-critial, when he said he could do better. But indeed, his new album is his best – until now. A sympathetic chansonnier, taking refuge from harsh certainties in beautiful compositions. VIDEO

Year list (6)

Guestposter David rounds up his favourites of the year:
Like Steve, on this side of the Atlantic release dates can be problematic. Melanie Pain’s “Bye Bye Manchester” made a yearlist last year, but it shows up to me as a 2013 release. Far and away the number one album for me this year, but there are many other good ones. I thought it would be tough to come up with 10. I’ve had to trim instead. Perhaps not such a bad year for filles, looking back.

11. Elsa Kopf, “Marvelously Dangerous”. The English title misleads a bit, as unlike Elsa’s “Acoustic Joys”, here she sings mostly in French. I confess some of Elsa’s singing is almost too perfect and sweet for me, but every time the music shuffles to Elsa I find myself stopping what I’m doing to listen anyway. A puzzlement. My favorite, “un chat, un chat”.

10. Clarika, “La Tournure des Choses” – Clarika will be familiar to long time “Filles Sourires” fans, but somehow her latest effort escaped mention. Clarika continues to surprise hitting it perfectly with “C’était Mieux Avant”.

9. Maude, “Le Temps Inventé”. First newcomer on this list. Maude’s voice drives every song, clear as a bell, calling Marie-Pierre Arthur to mind, but Maude stays more towards the folk side, as you might expect of a Granby music festival participant. A pity, in a way, as “Coeur En Boule” is far and away the best song on this CD, but I like most of the songs on this CD. Here’s “Si Le Monde” .

8. Mell, “Relationship Cheap”. Drifing away for a moment from the sweetness and light side, clearing whatever the ear’s equivalent of the palate might be, Mell put out another hard driving rock album. “Oh Mon Amour” works on a variety of levels, with Mell’s signature guitar and vocals. Here’s a video of “Un Pied Dans Le Vide”.

7. Anik Jean, “Schizophrène”. Drifting even further away, Anik continues her Goth/heavy metal ways. Anik’s another favorite, and her fourth album doesn’t disappoint, with “Tu Es Mon Enfer” as an example.

6. Maissiat, “Tropiques”. Amandine Maissiat, previously of Subway, put out her first album early in the year. “Tropiques” includes songs from her previous EP, but with enough new material to make the purchase worth it. Here’s a video of Maissiat performing “Havre-Caumartin”.

5. Auren, “J’ose”. If you like Austine, there’s a fair chance you will like Auren. Girl/guitar/acoustic with low voice that carries her songs effortlessly, capturing attention like a whisper in the ear. And she’s pretty, of course. Another video here.

4. Les Soeurs Boulay, “Le Poids Des Confettis”.
I can’t add anything more than Steve has already said. A favorite. Recommended.

3. Robi, “L’hiver Et La Joie”. When I first heard Robi thanks to Filles Sourires last year, I kept a close eye out for Robi’s first album. Wow. The first three songs on this CD got a lot of air time with me this year. Video: Où Suis-Je .

2. Marie Cherrier (pictured above), “Billie”.
I confess I sometimes can’t tell one pretty voice from another. I can always pick out Marie’s, though. My favorite: “Scotch”.

1. Moongai, “Cosmofamille”. I’ve only had this CD for this past month, but it’s already got a lot of play. One of those albums you can play straight through without wanting something different. When Guuz says “this could be big”, I pay close attention. Moongai’s electronic/pop style reminds me somewhat of a U.S. duo, “Bitter:Sweet”. Here’s Cosmofamille.

Morphée Carla Dance 2013 Year List (5)

liminanas_medium_imageThere’ve been better years in French music, but we’ve seen worse. So: Loads of retro, a bit of tongue play, an actress you probably never heard about (I hadn’t), one of Steve’s faves, a Biarritz gang in love with Germany’s capital, and of course a few little French songs.

11. Actually, Vanessa’s Love Songs were a bit of a letdown, especially the Biolay chansons. The most fun is the Glam-inspired Mi Amor, written by BB Brunes’ Adrien Gallo.

Vanessa Paradis – Mi Amor

10. La Masheillaise 1 & 2. If you’re into Gallic pop bâtard, this is the thing for you. Two mash-up compilations featuring few flakes, part playful nonsense, part premier cool. Free download here and there, FS favorite being:

Chocomang – Quel Modèle Veux-Tu

09. The Limiñanas, Costa Blanca. Pictured. More of the same, but still an intriguing blend of hypno guitar minimalism, tongue-in-cheek morbidezza and cinemascope retromania, think Mazzy Star with Edie Sedgwick on vocals, lysergic style.

Limiñanas – Votre Coté Yéyé M’emmerde

08. Jeanne Balibar, Slalom Dance. An album from 2006 I discovered only this year, definitely not the kind of stuff you’d expect of a singing actress, gritty, eccentric, touching, think Gréco produced by Alain Bashung. Balibar also did a fine version of La putain for the compilation project Autour de Reggiani in 2002.

Jeanne Balibar – Sex & Vegetables
Jeanne Balibar – La Putain

07. Hotel Morphée, Des Histoires des Fantômes. A bit too folky for my tastes, but Laurence Nerbonne is a spellbinding – and peculiarly sexy – raconteuse amidst the overcast aura of this gloomy Canadian sunday. Music to listen to with the shades drawn.

Hotel Morphée – La Bête et la Mitraille

06. Malcolm McLaren, Paris. Almost twenty years old, this one was the most-played record on my turntables this year. For some reason, I never had heard of it, and therefore it qualifies as brand new, as witty, literate, upper-class British and intertextual as it gets. Blame it on my awful tastes.

Malcolm McLaren – Miles and Miles of Miles Davis

05. Charles Trenet. Of course, we celebrated the 100th birthday of Trenet in 2013, the national idol who wrote La Mer on a train ride in twenty minutes, writer of almost a thousand chansons, surrealist, poet, entertainer, genius. Here’s his take on immortality again.

Charles Trenet – L’âme des Poètes

04. Helena Noguerra, Année Zero. An uneven one with a two or three bummers, but breathing a hidden, clandestine charm, also featuring one of the most beautiful chansons for some years to come: Appelle moi, written in collaboration with her ex-husband Katerine, a heartbreaker of a song about yesterday, today, and forever.

Helena Noguerra – Ceux Que J’ai Embrassés
Helena Noguerra – Appelle Moi

03. Carla Bruni, Little French Songs. Bruni’s best album, a ravissante roundup of perfect earworms, the ultimate love song for the really big guns (Mon Raymond), a gorgeous shit-eating grin, and a superb Italian version of Charles Trenet’s Douce France.

Carla Bruni – Dolce Francia
Charles Trenet – Douce France

02. Alka, La Première Fois. Maybe someday somebody will find an explanation why this one went down the drain. Oscillating between libido opera, Jane B. breathlessness, highly infectious funk and holy intimacy, La Première Fois is chock-full of vibrant grooves and feels like a long wet kiss on the mouth.

Alka – Pas la Peine Te Dire Adieu

01. La Femme, Psycho Tropical Berlin. Despite the tacky cover and daft title, this is it. The most catchy album of 2013, shamelessly retro, openly aggressive, super girlish, the ideal instrument to club oneself to death. That baise-moi beat rips your shirt off and goes right for … well, you tell me.

La Femme – Amour dans le Motu

Yearlists (4)

alkabalbir1. Alka Balbir – La Première Fois
The absolute number one for me this year. If I only had a Twitter account on which I would have tweeted something about newbie Alka Balbir, it surely would end something like this: #perfect #melancholic #exciting #thrilling #delicate #passionate #hoarse #fragile #debut
Alka – La Vie Par Les Deux Bouts

2. Axelle Red – Rouge Ardent
The biggest surprise of 2013. In fact I gave up hope that the Belgian redhead would record an album that could fully blow me away in all its aspects, but somehow pieces fall into place on this ninth album. And after seeing her exciting gig in Ghent, Belgium last month, I was finally convinced: Axelle has it all. At last.

3. Vanessa Paradis – Love Songs
Contrary to Axelle Red, Vanessa Paradis almost can’t do wrong with every new release. Love Songs might not be the blast ‘Divinidylle’ was, it still stands out easily among all the other releases this year. Miss Paradis is a FS-fav on long stay and my guess is that it’ll stay that way.

4. Pendentif – Mafia Douce
I’m not used to putting a dance album in my yearlist. But sometimes things can no longer be ignored. Pendentif recorded a most perfect post-summer soundtrack to lighten up the days at this time of the year and completely caught me with it. I actually put on my dancing shoes. Well, at least while writing this.

5. Sandie Trash – Salve Regina
An intruder in this years yearlist? Is it delicate, subtle, tender or sensitive? Hell no. Is it loud, wild and uncontrolled? Hell yeah! And I like it. Every attempt to assert that the French can’t make mean and sordid rock is superfluous from now on. Thanks to Sandie Trash that is.

Wishing you all the best for the next year.
Cheers, Maks

Yearlists (3)

Here’s the yearlist of regular guestposter Mordi, he of the world famous Blowupdoll blog:

2013 has been a interesting year for French music – not a lot that I liked, but what did, I absolutely loved passionately. There were also some huge disappointments too courtesy of Alizée and Carla Bruni. but let’s focus on the positives! – these are my frenchie faves 2013:
1Albin De La Simone – Un Homme
WOW! This is probably the most played album in my house, car and i-phone this year. 100 times better than anything he’s released before – the production on this album is perfect- the songs are thoughtful, witty, quirky and beautiful. I am still not bored of it. Recommended listen: Ma Crise

2Alex Beaupain – Apres Moi Le Deluge
I am a huge fan of Alex – such wonderful songs, full of passion. He didn’t let me down this year- an album full of different styles but all with his signature emotive depth. Recommended listen: Vite

3Rose – Et Puis Juin
A subtle album full of beautiful tunes, slightly in the same vein as Berry. Recommended listen :Aux eclats je ris

4Alka – La Premier Fois
(Read my original view on this blog!) All I really need to say is Biolay + Gainsbourg influences + Adjani style vocals (but all with a contemporary feel) = a top album. Recommended listen : D’un amore a l’autre

5Vanessa Paradis – Love Songs
A near perfect album. Biolay is present again here in the song writing. She sounds the best she ever has – less nasal and with a mature confidence. And a double cd too – so much to enjoy. Recommended listen: Les Espaces et les Sentiments

6BB Brunes – Long Courier
I’m not going to pretend this is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard – but for a short while I really enjoyed it. If you fancy a change of scene from delicate female vocals – try something a bit more guitar based. Recommend listen: Aficionado

7 Mylene Farmer – Monkey Me
I know this came out at the tail end of 2012 but it seemed to get a bit lost, so it’s on my list for this year. It’s what you’d now expect from Mylene. moody, melancholy electro-dance numbers. no new surprises from mylene- just a reliable, if predictable, but a bloody enjoyable album. Recommended listen : Elle a dit

Yearlists (2)

2-.-jerrypigeonHere is the yearlist of regular guestposter Steve:

Steve’s Transatlantic take on the year’s top Francophone offerings.

Despite it being a bumper year, only those albums that had an official release Stateside this year were considered. This unfortunately disqualified Pendentif’s otherwise excellent “Mafia Douce”, which to date still hasn’t had a US release (hello Discograph – I’m talking to you), while La Grande Sophie’s “La place du fantôme” was actually released in Europe last year… and there was enough new good stuff to not require repeats – however good they were…

Regular readers will once again note that there’s a strong presence from nord du 49e and theoretically eleven recommendations, stretching a top-10 best of slightly…

10 Chantal Archambault – “Les élans”. One of a number of fine country-folk albums released this year. From Marie-Pierre Arthur influenced toe-tappers (“Tomber frêle” and “Les détours”), delightful country numbers (Les ébats” and “Toucher les cèdres”) to plaintive ballads (“Chambre 16” and “Les élans”), Chantal expertly crafted 12 songs that resulted in “Les élans” being deservedly nominated at this year’s Quebec Indie Music Awards (GAMIQ).

9 This entry works on the assumption that two EP’s sort of equate to one album… Budding actress, model and cash-strapped fashionista Chantal Bellavance turned her hand to song-writing and released “J’attends”, a nigh-on perfect example of contemporary electro-pop. Meanwhile, the New Brunswick trio of Julie Aubé, Katrine Noël and Vivianne Roy – better known as Les Hay Babies – gave us “Folio”, a bilingual country-influenced EP, tinged with beautiful Arcadian-French accents, tight harmonies and a rye sense of humour, evident from the plaintive “Obsédée” to the in-your-face “Chu pas une femme a` marier”.

8 Zaz – “Recto Verso”. Thanks to a heart-felt review in Dutch blog Nummer Van de Dag, I finally realised that one Isabelle Geffroy is a proper Chanteuse and that she can absolutely nail chansons (albeit this album’s opener “On ira” is a perfect pop song) as was apparent from both “La lessive” or the Piaf-esque “Je tant escamoté” (complete with haunting accordion). There’s a great warm jazz undercurrent permeating throughout the album that is topped off with a fantastic (and faithful) cover of Charles Aznavour’s “Ouble Loulou”. Besides, if Zaz is good enough for acclaimed economist and New York Times columnist Professor Paul Krugman, she’s more than good enough for my end of year list…

7 Laurence Hélie – “À présent le passé”. A far more expansive album that her 2010 debut, the melancholic and autobiographical “À présent le passé” mined the rich seam of contemporary French-Canadian folk and the jazz, blues and country of traditional Americana. There’s a frightening effortless in the way that Laurence moved from pop-tinged country (“À présent le passé”) to jazz-tinged blues (“De tout et de rien”) and back again. But it was the slower numbers – especially with the reflective “trente ans” and “La rivière” – that really shone. The album is worth the entry money for those two tracks alone.

6 Alizée – “5”. In which the girl from Ajaccio came back with a vengeance. After a bit of a mauling of “Une Enfant du Siècle”, with her 5th studio album Alizée finally hit upon the mature sound and style that she had been striving for. The album’s opener “À cause de l’automne”, with its retro-60’s feel and sweeping chorus, was as good a pop song as was released this year and set the vibe that resonated throughout the album, featuring a great mix of interspersed catchy, memorable up-tempo and slower songs – from “Le dernier soufflé” to the heartfelt and semi-autobiographical “10 ans”. Alizée has always had a great voice, but all too often never the material. With this album she not only made a damn fine pop record, she finally found a platform to express herself.

5 Hotel Morphée – “Histoires des fantomes” For all the great pop, country and folk albums that the French-Canadian Provinces have produced, the French music scene this side of the pond desperately needs bands capable of producing more albums of this calibre. “Histoires des fantomes” was a dark, brooding – yes, gothic – work. The eleven tracks demanded attention – orchestral strings plucked with chainsaws, Stéphane Lemieux’s solid percussion and Laurence Nerbonne’s distinctive flat, haunting vocals – which evoked an undercurrent of menace. While “Garde à vous” was unashamedly poppy, it’s the darker songs such as “Des histoires de fantômes”, and “Dessine-Moi” that really hit home. The album’s final track is the aptly titled “C’est mieux comme ca”. It most definitely is…

4 Marianne Bel – “Le Balcon”. A beautifully delicate yet intricate mélange of folk, jazz, country pop and mariachi-infused folklorico (check out the horns on “Les outardes”), its hard to believe that this polished and professional album was Marianne’s debut offering as there’s a maturity and assuredness far beyond her tender years on display here. The album set its stall with “Blanc et noire”, a bluesy-jazzy “chanson” – Marianne’s vocals over a simple double-bass which are aided by a brass section that really makes the song lift and soar. Every track on this album is a true work of art and a pleasure to listen to – from the deliciously risque “Dagmar” to the achingly beautiful “Prisionero”, performed note-perfectly a cappella style en español. In any other year, this would be a shoe-in for album of the year…

3 Forêt – “Forêt” Just how good was the debut album from Montreal duo Émilie Laforest and Joseph Marchand? As good an example of inventive indie-rock as was released this year – in English or in French – that’s how good. This is another example of the kind of cutting-edge music that the French-Canadian music scene is crying out for. A beautifully disturbing album – distilling the atmospheric expansiveness of The Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance with a dark psychedelic undercurrent reminiscent of Portishead – the end result, infused with Laforest’s dreamy yet haunting vocals, weaved a surrealistic yet edgy aural landscape. Nine perfectly crafted and varied songs, from “Le verbe amour”, with its chorus that embedded itself in your skull, the driving beat of “Corps maquillés” to the ghostly “Je tombe avec la pluie”. Fantastic!

2 Axelle Red – “Rouge Ardent”. Belgian singer-songwriter Axelle Red’s ninth studio album was arguably her best since 1996’s “À Tâtons”. With a collection of 10 thoughtful, introspective songs, she drew from all of her 20 year career to pull together an incredibly soulful and humble album. Surrounding herself with the cream of Memphis musicians, every track on this album, from the driving “Amour profund” with its wall of horns and precussion, the brooding intensity of “Rouge Ardent” to powerful ballads such as “Quelque part allieurs” and “jusqu’au bout” – all delivered with Axelle’s unique vocal style – was a beautiful hommage to the city and sound of Stax.

1 Les Soeurs Boulay – “Le poids des confettis”. I’d raved about Sisters Melanie and Stéphanie Boulay’s EP last time round, but their sublime debut album exceeded even my (already highly) expectations. This was an album chock full of songs about love, life and heartbreak. At times intimate and introverted (“Mappemonde” and “Lola en confiture”), others bold and extrovert (“Ôte-moi mon linge” and the toe-tapping “Par Le Chignon de Cou”). The sister’s warm and hauntingly rhythmic melodies stood comparison to those of a certain Simon and Garfunkel, especially the way their voices intertwined telepathically. This was a thoroughly deserved album of the year. But don’t take my word for it, “Le poids des confettis” picked up “Folk Album of the Year” awards at both major Quebec music awards festivals (ADISQ and GAMIQ), while the Sisters themselves won Artist of the Year at the aforementioned GAMIQs…

Yearlists (1)

The end is nigh, that’s why we like to round things up. The FS-editors and regular guestposters made up their minds about what they thought were the bestest French albums and/or songs of the year.

Here’s Guuzbourg’s list:

1. Pendentif – Mafia Douce.
It’s retro, yes. But the combination of ‘American beaches and British winds’ worked like a charm. I played this album to death, and I never got bored.

2. Vanessa Paradis – Love Songs.
Of all the Big Stars who released albums in 2013 (Benjamin Biolay, Elodie Frégé, Alizée, Axelle Red), Vanessa took the biscuit. Maybe not as solid as Divinidylle, but Tu vois c’que je vois, Prends garde a moi and even the duets with Biolay (who disappointed with his own album) are very, very good.

3. La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin
Twannggg! The debut album of this Parisian collective is a wild, weird and wonderful affair, ranging from an update of the surftastic Sur la planche to synthified Si un jour. It’s not a perfect album (too many songs), but the ideas, the sultry vocals and the energy make up for the flaws.

4. Forêt – Forêt.
What Steve said.

5. De La Jolie Musique – Plein Soleil.
One could think that French music is all about re-vamping old ideas – this top 5 is almost completely retrofied. So what, I say. I fell hard for this update of the exquisite, rich soundtrack music of J-C Vannier and Francois de Roubaix, with some John Barry touches.

C’est Chouette 2012 Yearlist (7)

liminanasDoubtless there have been more captivating years in French music, and actually, it was more a year of single songs than of entire albums. It was a sexy landscape anyway, full of signs and wonders, and populated by so many people finding their voice. Maybe for you as well.

10. Raphaël, Super-Welter. Raphaël’s Chanson pour Patrick Dewaere is one of the most heartbreaking French songs ever. It’s not on this album which obviously deals with his new faible for boxing. Now he sounds like the missing link between Lou Reed, Bowie and Bashung.

Raphaël – Manager

09. Françoise Hardy, L’amour Fou. Always hated her nice girl schlager attitude. She was so much older then, she’s younger than that now.

Françoise Hardy – Rendez-vous dans une autre vie

08. Olivier Bloch-Lainé, Mercredi. I listened to this one about a year ago for the first time, at Vaea’s flat in the Marais, and it has never left me since. Fuck 2012. It’s 1976, so ultra-tender like it’s never gonna be again.

Olivier Bloch-Lainé, Mercredi

07. La Femme, Paris 2012. Surfin’ the asphalt jungle, riotous, juvenile and way cool. Along with Mathieu Boogaert’s Avant que je m’ennuie and Sebastien Tellier’s Cochon Ville video of the year: Say au revoir to the Eiffel Tower.

06. Dionysos, Bird’n’Roll. Mathieu Malzieu doing the Phantom of the Time Warp Picture Show, rollercoaster sonique style, and of course the French never understood what rock’n’roll is about (me neither). The right approach for a grand spectacle.

Dionysos – Sex with a Bird

05. Juliette Gréco, Ca se traverse est c’est beau … Direction liberté. A saint who hasn’t forgotten about la revolution. Adult cinéma including the finest hommage to proto-surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire ever written.

Juliette Gréco – Mirabeau sous le pont

04. Daphne, Treize chansons de Barbara. Norman Lebrecht once stated that French chanson legend Barbara was »all about the unsaid«. Daphne’s album is nothing less than a highly intimate approach to the spirit of the animal triste.

Daphne – Gueule de nuit

03. The Limiñanas – Crystal Anis. From Perpignan, Dept. Pyrénées-Orientales: The Limiñanas (see album cover above) throw Morricone, Gainsbourg and Fabienne Delsol in the garage blender and shake it, psychedelic sex groove style. Cool as shit, and featuring the sharpest fuzz guitar around.

The Limiñanas – Longanisse

02. Bertrand Burgalat – Toutes directions. Maybe BB follows one or two routes too many, but the ride includes Bardot’s Dance, an extremely infectious 70s style electro/ disco sweeper, as well as the irresistible Sous les colombes de granit, easily qualifying as one of the premier chansons of the year.

Bertrand Burgalat – Sous les colombes de granit

01. Marie-Pierre Arthur – Aux Alentours. Catchy melodies, gritty riffs and sweet, at times angelic moods. Aux Alentours is a revelation, starting in Reference Alley, but heading straight to Reinvention Boulevard in that Grand State of the Art.

Marie-Pierre Arthur – Chacun pour toi

See you in 2013.

Year lists (6)

Sylvester, host of Het Chanson on Dutch Concertzender, is an FS-regular. This is his countdown:

Father Christmas reigns more than ever in France. Patrick Bruel, Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy, Nolwenn Leroy, Salvatore Adamo, Cali, Francis Cabrel, Julien Clerc and many other big names came with new albums in the last two months of 2012. Commercial yes, but artistically not bad. Especially one or two ballads on ‘L’Attente’, of the ageing Johnny (1943) – I wish he would finally give up ‘rock ‘n roll’ and become a full-time crooner. Also good old Adamo at the eve of his 70th birthday surprised with a charming disk: ‘La Grande Roue’, which only just fell out of my Top 10.

10. Dominique A. – Vers les lueurs
Quality songs, quality arrangements, quality band. Too bad I can’t stand the voice of Dominique Ané (1968), but songs like ‘Ostinato’ are irresistible.

9. Marie-Pierre Arthur – Aux alentours
The second album of this rough female bass guitarist and singer from Québec is has a difficult start, but becomes much better from track 4: ‘Pour une fois‘.

8. Stephan Eicher – L’envolée
Demure album of the renowned Swiss musical wizard, perfect for an evening alone, snowed in on the top of a mountain.

7. La Grande Sophie – La Place du fantôme
I like this album of refreshing pop songs, if only because it contains an homage to my favourite medium: ‘Ma radio’.

6. Juliette Gréco – Ça se traverse et c’est beau…

Beautiful concept-album about the bridges of Paris by the 85 year old legend, once the muse of Saint-Germain des Prés. Highlight: ‘Paris se rêve’, a duet with the rapper Féfé.

5. Zebda – Second tour
Successful restart of this multicultural band from Toulouse. Their lyrics are committed but not always directly political. ‘Les deux écoles’, for example, is about the fundamental choice many youngster face when they approach the age of reason: do I want to fill my brains, or my pockets.

4. Ridan – Madame la République
Another committed album which was issued at the eve of the French presidential elections. The single ‘Ah les salauds!’ was banned from French radio, because it left too little to our imagination: ah the bastards!

3. Barcella – Charabia
Cheerful second album of this 30 year old singer from Reims, whose real name is Mathieu Ladevèze. Great lyrics, great voice, great music, very good indeed.

2. Françoise Hardy – L’amour fou
At 68 La Hardy is still the wallflower she was half a century ago in ‘Tous les garçons et les filles’, but much too elegant to be pathetic. Lovely heartbreaking as ever on her latest album; my favourite is the title track.

1. Barbara Carlotti – L’amour, l’argent, le vent
Carlotti has a fantastic voice, which was professionally trained at a conservatory.
Although approaching 40, this is only her 3rd album, after a debut ep in 2005. It’s full of exciting, sonorous and slightly mysterious beauties.

You can hear my favourite tracks on Concertzender Radio: 29 December and
12 January