Friday, 27 January 2012

Sparrow and Mountains

I rather fell for Mesparrow last night, with her Mary Quant hair and her set of loop pedals. Mesparrow (Yes: Piaf/sparrow - They are both small in stature and big in voice, that is where the comparisons end.) was supporting Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains on the first night of Vive La France 2012.

She begins with a basic accapella loop, and sings over the top, taking breaks to add in vocalised orchestrations and harmonies, some twee beat-boxing, sound effects, and on one occasion some gutsy heaving and puking sounds. Each song builds up in this way, before she pares it down, stacks up some more loops and brings her little symphonies to and end. How on earth she can remember what fits where and when and how, heaven knows, there seems to be so so much going on at every moment and each interlocks perfectly into the whole - truly captivating pop!

She took a break to play a smokey torch-song on a huge electric piano, then more multi-part compositions, then closing with a fragile china-doll rendition of 'My Heart Belongs To Daddy' breaking into a bluesy stomp for the choruses, and stuttering the last line over and again like a broken talking automaton.

Then came Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains. The last time I saw him, it was just he alone in the huge Duke of Yorks cinema, creating a cascading wall of echoing drum and acoustic guitar, almost apologetic for his presence on stage. The ("first french signing to the Domino Recording Co") Fránçois of 2012 fronts a taut band of flailing and diving musicians intent on spreading their sweet indie/afro-beat fever and producing a joyful mountain of shimmering lo-fi dance-pop.

I reckon just about EVERY single person left the Green Door Store with a smile on their face and a heap of French joy in their hearts.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Vive La France 2012 begins tomorrow

Brighton's annual French music festival Vive La France begins tomorrow.

L'Amour Electronique will be taking part this year DJing on Friday at The Hope alongside Turzi and Concrete Knives, and then bringing the festival to a close on Saturday night at the after-show party at Plateau [full info about both shows here].

French goodness this week on Radio 6

A bumper week of French-ness on BBC 6Music this week:

On Monday, Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains' new LP E Volo Love was album of the day. They also played a live session on Marc Riley's show [listen again here]. Here is F&TAM's video for their lovely new single on Domino Recording Co.

FRÀNÇOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS "Les Plus Beaux" by domino

On Tuesday, Radcliffe & Maconie spoke to Air on the telephone about their new album and soundtrack to the Georges Meliès film Le Voyage dans la Lune [listen again here]. You can watch and download the film for free via the Air Facebook page.

And on Thursday, between 1pm and 4pm, Radcliffe & Maconie talk to Charlotte Gainsbourg about her new album Stage Whisper [programme info here].

Vive le Québécois

This little batch of beauties arrived a couple of weeks ago all the way from Canada!

5 original compilation LPs of the finest Québécois des années 60s: hommes, femmes and groupes.

I'm still listening my way through them, but was super pleased to have this French version of Johnny Rivers' 'Secret Agent Man' on vinyl at last.

Gilles Brown - Agent Secret
[buy Gilles Brown from]

Devo fans will also remember that their robo-jerk cover-version was best preserved on this early film, complete with Booji Boy doing the hand-jive.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Jonathan Meades on France

If I was the controller at BBC, I'd just go ahead and give Jonathan Meades his own channel to programme as his whim took him. Alas, I am not the controller of the BBC or any other TV channel, but I can console myself that at least Meades has got a 3-part documentary about France that I can watch on BBC4 over the next couple of weeks.

Part 1 "Fragments of an Arbitrary Encyclopaedia" was on last Wednesday (and is available on the iPlayer until 9:59PM Wed, 8 Feb 2012:
"Jonathan Meades travels through Lorraine and explains why, although close to its eastern border, it has become the symbolic, or even mystical, heart of France and a stronghold of a romantic nationalism that is also expressed by such diverse means as typography, music, engineering, exquisite urbanism and, above all, a sensitivity to Germany's proximity."
[choice references include the Mistral typeface, Le Corbusier, Pascal Haüsermann's bulle dwellings (see below), and I give bonus points for some tasty incidental music including France Gall's 'Le temps de la Rentrée']

Part 2 "A Biased Anthology of Parisian Peripheries" airs on BBC4 this Wednesday at 9pm:
"France granted independence to its colonies in the 1960s. That, anyway, is the official line. In fact, through such agencies as Francophonie which notionally promotes the French language and the secretive Francafrique which wields influence throughout much of Africa, the French state is in reality still a colonial power. Jonathan inspects the Parisian palaces of tyrannical dynasties, the sites of political murders and the village where the Ayatollah Khomeini lived in exile."
There is no info about Part 3 yet, but it follows the week after, same day, same time.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

L'Amour à la Chaîne pt.8

Last time on la Chaîne we gave you the delectable Gillian Hills performing a swoonsome rendition of a song by The Zombies, and so the logical next step is...

More Zombies...

Two Zombies...

Zombie Zombie - the French motorik-electronik duo who were possibly named after a ZX Spectrum game, and, according to their myspace, sound like "a Zombie limbo party".  But Zombie Zombie have ceased to exist, no they were not culled - you can't kill a Zombie after all (or can you? Answers in the comments please!) - They just split up last summer.  BOO! HISS!

Zombie Zombie - Psychic Harmonia
[buy Zombie Zombie from itunes |]

L'Amour à la Chaîne: what will be the next link in the chain? Leave your suggestions and reasons in the comments.
Jacques Dutronc - L'Amour à la ChaîneFrançoise Hardy - Je Changerais D'Avis > Les 5 Gentlemen – Cara-Lin > Add N To (X) – Monster Bobby > Serge Gainsbourg – Le Poinçonneur des Lilas > Les Shades – Orage Mécanique > Gillian Hills - Rentre Sans Moi > Zombie Zombie - Psychic Harmonia > ?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Beau Oui Comme Bowie

Today is dame David Bowie's 65th birthday.

Here is a Gainsbourg penned tribute by Isabelle Adjani
(you can enjoy the English lyric translation here)

(for an actress, she's not very good at miming, is she?)

And now, how about some Dave en Français?