The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

11

Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert - WARP 20 (live in Cité de la Musique, Paris)

Review Snapshot: To honour one of electronic music's best-loved labels, a birthday bash featuring two cult figures from different points on the spectrum of that genre. Vibert's DJ set is cool and seductive; Aphex Twin sets your head and entrails to spin-cycle. Two different live experiences but each great in their own way.

The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10

Full Review:
Aphex Twin liveGouging the mind’s ear for two decades now, Warp Records are currently celebrating their twentieth birthday by putting on shows in major cities around the world. The Paris leg at the Cité de la Musique comprises two nights: last night Pivot, !!! and Jarvis Cocker were among those getting the party started (Nightmares On Wax apparently pulled out at the last minute) and tonight Aphex Twin (right), Luke Vibert, Hudson Mohawke, Leila and Plaid are blowing out the candles.

Luke Vibert is here doing a DJ set in what’s normally an installation space at this venue, a combination of museum, exhibition centre and concert hall for all genres of music. Apparently there’s some international turntable code decreeing that artists can’t play their own music during DJ sets, so we don’t hear Vibert’s gorgeous ‘Sharp AZ’.

But no matter: his DJ set is fantastic. He starts out soulfully with the eclecticism, sensitivity and funkiness of Mo’Wax and the boy Shadow in particular. At just the right moments he knows when to up the beats and build excitement before pulling it down into cooler, more cerebral sounds again. Thus he plays with the crowd all during his set, and it’s impossible not to get swept up in it.

Only once does Vibert drop the ball, by working in the vocals from ‘The Power of Love’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. The effect is to make the crowd self-consciously aware that they’re dancing to some ‘80s naffness, like when a film actor gives a corny line straight to camera with a wink. But that’s just a minor blip. Luke Vibert is probably the best DJ we’ve ever danced to, though in fairness we only have as a comparison DJ Wreck-The-Buzz at our local hop.

Dashing into the main concert hall so as to grab a space for Aphex Twin, we caught the end of Plaid’s set. Earlier we had seen some of Leila’s turn. Both seemed impressive enough from the brief glimpse we got of each, so we must check them out in detail sometime. (We didn’t get to see Hudson Mohawke. Sorry.)

As for tonight’s marquee name, Aphex Twin live is an impressive experience. Richard D. James (born in Limerick!) looks less diabolic in person than the distorted face from his videos: in fact, he exudes a kind of Jamie Oliver mate-iness. His alter-ego, though, is gleefully malevolent – those squelchy, distorted sounds trouble your mind and shudder your entrails.

On which point, his visuals feature a gruesomely clinical mortuary sequence that’s not for the squeamish; some punters briefly stepped outside to recall their lunch. In a shout out to the home crowd, we also got a slide show of the sicker images from controversial ‘60s French satirical magazine Hara Kiri.

As for the music, there are times when James coasts along by letting the bare beats drag on for a minute or two, as if he’s filling time while rooting in his bag for another trick. Anyone who came just to hear ‘Windowlicker’ or ‘Come To Daddy’ will have been disappointed; the pretty piano melody of 'Flim' is the only one of Aphex Twin’s more familiar, accessible or ambient tracks to get a (brief) run-out tonight.

But overall it’s a great show. For pop kids like your reviewer, not a regular at live electronica or techno, the sensory blitzkrieg of Aphex Twin was an overwhelming thrill. This is one new customer who’ll be shopping here again, then.

Aidan Curran


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10

A review of the album 'Posthumous Success' by Tom Brosseau

Review Snapshot: The sound of a singer-songer in creative transition and perhaps finding his true voice. This album’s folk foundations are weak when exposed to attentive listening, but Brosseau’s other aspect is an alt-rock swagger that infuses this record with wit and personality.

The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Tom Brosseau 'Posthumous Success'The self-deprecating title of Tom Brosseau’s third album suggests that this North Dakota native may be of that rare species: a male acoustic singer-songer with a sense of humour.

And for the most part this is true. ‘Posthumous Success’ is a likeable sort of record that brings a refreshingly alternative range of influences to bear on the familiar old folk-pop format. ‘Big Time’, with its wry declaration of wannabe ambition, shudders with a treated electric riff that would sound at home on stage at the Enormodome. There’s a triumphant lo-fi sneer to ‘You Don’t Know My Friends’ which is picked up again in a veritable Lou Reed tribute called ‘Drumroll’. That VU sound suits Brosseau and he wears it like he owns it.

Strangely enough, though, he’s less convincing whenever he chooses to emphasise the folk style that probably inspired these songs at the writing stage. Brosseau’s thin, vibrato-drenched voice just isn’t robust enough to carry the weight of sincere balladry. On something self-consciously rootsy like ‘Wishbone Medallion’ he sounds like a college boy pretending to be a gnarled old-time bluesman by putting on a fake moustache and his granddad’s hat. ‘Favourite Colour Blue’ (in two versions that top and tail this album) and ‘Been True’ sound whiny. And ‘Axe & Stump’ is the sort of Ritter-esque laboured lovelorn sincerity best left in the bedsit.

So, to recap: sometimes Brosseau plays and sings with the indie swagger and dry cynicism of a young man, which is where this record fairly buzzes with attitude and personality. Other times he tugs the forelock to traditional folk and blues, and then it all sounds flat and faintly contrived.

Given these two aspects of this album, it’s no surprise to learn that half the songs were recorded in upstate New York and the other half in Portland, Oregon. Whichever of those two locations got Brosseau into his Velvets frame of mind, there he should stay for 100% of his next record.

Aidan Curran


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08

A review of the album 'Royal Family - Divorce' by Storsveit Nix Noltes

Storsveit Nix Noltes 'Royal Family Divorce'Review Snapshot: Balkan folk instrumentals tarted up with punk riffing and a brief spell of shoegazing squall. The genre sound is done well but the lack of variety in the tracks means your interest will wear off very soon, though it's probably good fun live.

The Cluas Verdict? 6 out of 10

Full Review:
The band’s name is sufficiently Scandinavian and melodic to suggest that they deal in catchy tunes – and with that allusion to Hollywood hellraiser Nick Nolte, arse-kickingly catchy tunes at that. Plus, that album title can only be said in a Lydon-esque sneer. This seemed promising.

Imagine our disappointment, then, to hear a full album of instrumental Balkan folk. For that, dear friends, is what ‘Royal Family Divorce’ by Icelandic post-rock supergroup Storsveit Nix Noltes gives you.

If you’ve ever seen a film by Emir Kusturica, then you’ve heard this kind of music in a typical scene of his: the scrawny, scruffy middle-aged peasant somehow manages to pull the sultry young gypsy babe and at the wedding the entire campsite is dancing around to it. (Your reviewer hasn’t seen Kusturica’s film on Diego Maradona yet, so we’re curious as to how he’ll work a Balkan gypsy wedding scene into that one. Perhaps Napoli take a pre-season tour of rural pre-war Yugoslavia.)

Oh, but there’s a bit of modernising and indie-ing up done to the genre: some fairly basic electric guitar chugging through all the numbers. Second-last track ‘Winding Horo’ (most of the track titles have ‘Horo’ in them: we believe it’s Serbo-Croat for “condescending, middle-class Lonely-Planet ethno-tourism”) has a bit of MBV-style screeching, the only point where this record briefly considers taking a creative risk.

Look, it’s not a bad album and were you to hear this music live you’d probably have a good night. But on record the whole thing is samey to the point of boredom: same rhythms, same arrangements, no vocals or variety to break things up. It’s background music for when you’re dancing with a sultry young gypsy, and it doesn’t bear attentive listening.

And maybe it’s just us but there’s something vaguely dispiriting about a bunch of Reykjavik indie kids turning out a Balkan folk record. Perhaps it’s the same culturally-right-on self-satisfaction that makes many fans of Beirut so insufferable. (Your reviewer has a hip local bookstore whose staff we’re thinking of here; we’re sure they’ll love this album.)

But if you’re engaged to marry a Serbian gypsy or a bourgeois-bohemian ethno-tourist, this’ll be a hit at the wedding reception.

Aidan Curran


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06

This Friday, 8 May, is a public holiday in France to commemorate VE Day. Last Friday, 1 May, was a public holiday too, the French being a socialist people at heart despite the efforts of their bling-bling centre-right president.

And Ascension Thursday, 21 May, is also a day off - the French may be socialists in a secular republic but that’s no reason to let a holiday opportunity pass by. Basically, during May no one’s doing a tap of work over here.

It’s fitting, then, that the last weekend of this holiday-strewn month serves up the first important music festival of the French summer. Europavox takes place on 27-31 May in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand.

EuropavoxWe’ve featured Clermont-Ferrand here before: bands like Cocoon and Quidam are at the vanguard of a thriving local scene that inspired Le Monde to call the city the French capital of rock. With the breadth and depth of its line-up, Europavox should put Clermont on the radar of the international pop community.

The first two nights are curtain-raisers featuring French stars Olivia Ruiz and Sliimy, the latter looking and sounding like a cross between Prince and Mika. Serious business begins on Friday 29 May – between three venues (Cooperative de Mai, Magic Mirrors and Le Cabaret) there are appearances by Maximo Park, I’m From Barcelona, Thecocknbullkid and Danish poppers The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, auteurs of the radio-friendly cracker ‘Around The Bend’.

Bloc Party are the main draw on the Saturday night in the Cooperative de Mai. But that same night in Magic Mirrors there’s a tasty show featuring French Letter favourite Emily Loizeau (even if we’re not crazy about her new album) and fellow piano-singer-songer Soap & Skin, one of many fine acts to emerge from Austria recently.

The final night features an impressive folk-pop bill: Herman Dune, Loney Dear, Lonely Drifter Karen… and our own Declan de Barra. G’wan Oirland! For something with a bit more BPM that night, the alternative is Vitalic.

While Declan de Barra is the only Irish act appearing in Clermont, throughout the five nights of Europavox there’s an impressive cast of acts from across the continent. The Scandinavian region is well represented, as you’d expect at any multinational popfest worth its salt – but there are also acts from Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic, countries not normally associated with Champions League-level music. (For instance, we’ve only ever heard of one decent Spanish band: punk-poppers Dover.)

Full details about Europavox are available on the festival’s website and MySpace page. Any Irish people visiting Clermont-Ferrand wouldn’t want to be too smug about winning the Grand Slam this year: rugby can be a painful subject for the locals during late May/early June, the time of the local team’s annual defeat in the league final.

But in the Europavox spirit of pan-continental pop fraternity, here’s Herman Dune, Frenchmen with Swedish roots, and their lovely ‘Try To Think About Me’ from a live radio session in Los Angeles:


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04

Your correspondent isn’t a man for the horses. You won’t find us in the bookies on Gold Cup day, nor studiously examining the racing pages of The Star in our local at lunchtime. In fact, as we can neither eat nor wear anything from them, horses have little relevance to our existence.

Yet even we’ve noticed the unmistakable equine trend in French pop recently. Last year we featured Poney Express and their excellent single ‘Paris De Loin’. That’s “Paris from afar” and has nothing to do with your loins. Then there's a band called Poni Hoax but they're fairly bad. (You'll have noted so far a serious spelling difficulty for these two bands with the word 'pony'.)

Giddy up! It's Pony Pony Run RunAnd now, doubling the horsiness as if to prove the point, here’s Pony Pony Run Run. (We feel obliged to tell you that French people generally speak English quite well. It’s just that sometimes they’re terrible at naming bands.)

From Nantes on France’s Atlantic coast, PPRR (right) are a trio comprising Gaetan, Amael and Antoine. They’ve just released their first single, ‘Hey You’, and it’s a cracker – catchy dancefloor pop that marries too-cool-for-school indietronica to a swooning pop melody. We’re not too far from Phoenix here, and that’s always good for us.

PPRR’s first album, with the no-less-terrible title of ‘You Need Pony Pony Run Run’, is due out on 15 June. You can hear a couple of tracks from it on the band’s MySpace page. They’re due to tour around Europe in the autumn of 2009 – that is, if they survive a support slot to (eek!) Simple Minds in Arles on 11 July.

Oh yes, as we were saying, ‘Hey You’ is a fantastic song - here’s a homemade video for it:


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01

Our regular readers will be familiar with Underground Railroad (below right), the London-based Paris trio whose fine US-style alt-rock earned them a place in our Best French Music of 2008 list. (Fight Like Apes fans may also have heard of them, the Irish band having toured the UK with them earlier this year.)

Underground RailroadWell, Underground Railroad have just released a new E.P., 'Pick The Ghost', to follow up on the favourable reaction to last year's 'Sticks And Stones' album. It continues the good work of their previous record and is well worth a listen. That is, once you get past the slightly irritating but mercifully brief opener, 'Breakfast' and onto the four other tracks of top-quality Sonic Youth/JMC-esque indieness.

Those four songs ('Homeless Town', 'Lots Of Cars', 'Monday Morning' and the title track) confirm a theory we have about this band: they're much better when resident blokes Raphael Mura and J.B. Ganivet leave the singing to guitarist Marion Andrau. At the risk of generalisation, female singers tend to use their vocal range more than males, who are often more conservative in their singing. Like on their smashing 2008 single '25', Marion's warm, melodic voice plays off the dark sonic squall behind her, to great effect.

In New York during April 2009, Underground Railroad will be playing with Cold War Kids in the U.K., Netherlands and France in May. No news of any Irish dates for the moment.

You can listen to tracks old and new on Underground Railroad's MySpace page. For want of a new video from them, here's last year's '25' - great song, terrible video:


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29

We told you a while back about the imminent closure of La Flèche d’Or, the much-loved alternative music venue in Paris. Served with legal injunctions by neighbours due to excessive noise, and faced with renovation works it couldn’t afford, the venue was due to close definitively tonight (30 April), the expiry date of the present lease on the site, a disused train station.

La Fleche d'Or in its current stateWell, La Flèche d’Or is still closing tonight… but it’ll re-open in August. French daily newspaper Liberation  reports that two established Paris live music promoters will take over the lease, spend the summer months carrying out the expensive and extensive works needed to placate the neighbours – and relaunch the Flèche in four months’ time.

The two promoters, Alias Production and Asterios Spectacles (in French ‘spectacles’ are live events, not eyewear) run two other successful Paris venues, La Maroquinerie and La Bataclan, and their new challenge is to make the Flèche reasonably profitable. Until last September the Flèche was free to enter and served up three or four live acts and a late night club. Even with the recent introduction of a compulsory €6 drink purchase, it was still a good deal for punters. Now, though, the new owners intend to supplement the €6 standard charge with occasional concerts by established names where entry will be €15, in line with the usual ticket price at the Maroquinerie.

Meanwhile, the Flèche d’Or’s current staff of 40 are still uncertain about their future.

The Flèche had a similar closing/re-opening drama in 2005, and bounced back with an increased reputation as Paris’s top indie-rock venue. This time, though, will the new Flèche still have the same atmosphere and spirit as the old one? Considering the gentrification of the surrounding area, not to mention the introduction of more frequent full-price shows, it looks unlikely. Still, as long as the current workers can keep their jobs and the new venue puts on decent live music, we won’t complain.

See you up at the Flèche in August, then.


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24
The Champs-Élysées runs up to one side of the Arc de Triomphe, and down the opposite side is the Avenue de la Grande Armée, down as far as Porte Maillot and the bus out to Beauvais airport. This street attracts less tourists, perhaps because you’ll mainly see motorcycle showrooms here.
 
But back in 1928 those showrooms sold cars and at least one American tourist passed by. So the story goes, the visitor stopped at dealerships along the Avenue de la Grande Armée and honked the bulb horns on various cars. The garage-owners’ reactions haven’t been recorded for posterity – just the honking, which you can hear on a piece of music this passer-by, George Gershwin, subsequently wrote. (Strictly speaking, Gershwin wasn’t a tourist – already famous, he had come to Paris to immerse himself in the city’s music scene.)
 
An American In Paris, the filmInstead of a miniature Eiffel Tower or carefully-stashed bottle of wine, Gershwin’s Paris souvenirs were those car horns – he brought back several to New York and added them to the orchestra for the première of ‘An American In Paris’ in December 1928. The idea of the horns was to add to an overall mood of being in Paris, what one would hear while strolling along the boulevards. (Car horns still hog the ambient noise in this city, Parisian drivers being as impatient as they are reckless.)
 
As the circus-like parping of bulb horns suggests, ‘An American In Paris’ is more whimsical than Gershwin’s masterpiece, the epic ‘Rhapsody In Blue’. But that’s just as accurate a representation of being a U.S. ex-pat in 1920s Paris. The title of Ernest Hemingway’s definitive account of this time and place, ‘A Moveable Feast’, gives an idea of the dynamism and socialising on display. The likes of Gertrude Stein held court here, attended on by Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry Miller – and Josephine Baker’s cabaret show caused a sensation. (James Joyce was also here, of course, soon to be joined by a young assistant called Samuel Beckett.)
 
‘An American In Paris’ inspired the 1951 Hollywood musical of the same name, starring Gene Kelly. The composer was already dead, so the film features existing songs by him and his lyricist brother Ira, like ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘’S Wonderful’. The centerpiece of the film is an 18-minute dance sequence to an arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘An American In Paris’, in which a daydreaming Kelly passes through scenes from various styles of French painting.
 
Despite Kelly being in top form, the musical is contrived and unengaging. (What’s more, its Paris scenes were filmed on Hollywood sets and the ‘Parisian’ supporting characters speak very stilted French.) Still, the film beat Brando’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ to win that year’s Oscar for Best Picture. It also won two Oscars for its music, but these went to the arrangers rather than posthumously to Gershwin. (‘Rhapsody In Blue’ would also inspire a celebrated film: it features in the opening sequence of Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan’.)
 
Gershwin’s composition was back in the news in 2008 when the New York Philharmonic played it during their historic performance in North Korea. Unfortunately, we won’t know what Kim Jong-Il thought of this slice of Franco-American frivolity; the North Korean leader didn’t show up for the concert. (Nonetheless, we have a disturbing mental image of Kim Jong-Il honking the bulb horn of his old-fashioned jalopy driving through Pyongyang.)
 
Here's the New York Philharmonic with the liveliest thing to hit North Korea since someone invented a new shade of grey back in 1958. Note how the bulb horn part goes to the young guy with the funkiest haircut (37 secs) - a recent graduate on that instrument, no doubt:
 

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21

In the same way as the summer transfer window gets us excited for the forthcoming new football season, so the April-May period of festival line-up speculation and announcements starts us planning for a summer of music. You in Éire are already dreaming of torrential rain, horrendous traffic jams and alleged campsite riots (allegedly).

But for those of you looking to head off foreign for some sunshine with your live tunes, here begins our annual overview of the French summer festival line-up.

Eurockeennes 2009The busiest weekend for French festivals is the first weekend of July, when traditionally there are THREE big events simultaneously – Solidays in Paris, the Main Square Festival in the northern town of Arras and Eurockéennes in the eastern city of Belfort. Today we’ll look at Eurockéennes, which takes place from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 July. (We'll feature the other two in due course.)

Now in its 20th year, Eurockéennes is perhaps the French festival that’s best known internationally. This is certainly due to the size and quality of its line-up, but also because of its location; Belfort is close to Switzerland and southern Germany so it’s within reach of Euro-railers and backpackers throughout central Europe.

The 2009 programme has marquee names and cult heroes galore. The Friday night features The Prodigy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Alela Diane, Emiliana Torrini, Hockey, Diplo, The Ting Tings, La Roux and The Kills, while that night’s headliners are French rappers NTM. Saturday has Kanye West, Pete(r) Doherty, Friendly Fires, Tricky, Passion Pit, Peter Bjorn & John, home favourites Birdy Nam Nam and Austrian chanteuse Sophie Hunger.

Finally, on Sunday you’ve got Slipknot, Glasvegas, Mos Def, Tinariwen, Florence And The Machine, adopted-Irishpeople Rodrigo y Gabriela and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. But that final day belongs to three heavyweight French acts: Phoenix, Yuksek and Laurent Garnier.

Any questions?

How much will Eurockéennes cost me? If you book on the festival website, you can get a three-day pass (including four days of camping!) for €88 and a one-day ticket for €39. These prices don’t include booking fees, putting-ticket-into-envelope expenses, etc. but that’ll hardly be much. That three-day pass looks like great value.

How do I get to Eurockéennes? Well, Easyjet fly to nearby Basle-Mulhouse airport, and the French national rail company is offering special fares for three-day ticketholders.

Full details of the line-up and practicalities are available on the Eurockéennes website's English page.

From Saturday Night Live recently, here’s another fab new Phoenix track: off the forthcoming ‘Wolfgang Amadeux Phoenix’ it’s ‘Lisztomania’. What’s with all the classical composer references?
 


 

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16

This Saturday (18 April) is World Record Store Day, when punters are encouraged to support their local music dealers. It’s a good opportunity to tell you about our favourite French record shops – and encourage you to tip us off about ones we haven’t discovered yet.

High-street record shops in France are quite good, with breadth and depth to their stock. Should you find yourself in a busy shopping area in a French city, chances are you’re close to an outlet of FNAC, an excellent chain of home entertainment and multimedia stores. Their music space is usually divided into large sections for rock, French, jazz, classical, urban and world music, and each section has its own information desk where the staff (in their distinctive green and yellow waistcoats) tend to be quite knowledgeable. The FNAC on the Champs-Élysées in Paris is open until midnight, like the neighbouring Virgin Megastore (also very good) – there’s something magical about being in a record shop late at night, as if all the best music only comes out after dark. And because the Champs-Élysées is a designated tourist zone, both stores can open on Sundays.

As well as being a fine store, we also commend FNAC for their Indétendances series of samplers and summertime Paris concerts, giving valuable mainstream exposure to up-and-coming French acts of various styles. And the larger FNAC stores have a dedicated space for live performances – in particular we recall a full-on, plugged-in, amped-up set by Grenoble band Rhesus at the FNAC near Montparnasse one Saturday afternoon.

Gibert Joseph on the Boulevard Saint Michel in ParisEven better than FNAC, in our view, is Gibert Joseph (right), a book and music seller that can also be found in many major French towns. In Paris, you can find Gibert Joseph halfway up the Boulevard Saint Michel, the record shop at number 34 a few doors past the bookstore. (Warning: don’t confuse Gibert Joseph with Gibert Jeune, the virtually-similar group of bookshops around the fountain in Place Saint Michel.)

Gibert Joseph’s main virtue is that they sell new and second-hand music side by side. You can even find the latest releases marked with a yellow sticker that says ‘Occasion’, the French term for second-hand, at discount prices and shelved beside new copies at full price. Gibert Joseph has the best alternative music section of any French high-street chain. They also have live sessions. And, if you’ll forgive the digression, the bookstore has new and second-hand English reading material on the fourth floor, though we should also mention the small second-hand English bookstores nearby around the Odéon.

If you crave the real independent music store experience in Paris, simply go out the door of Gibert Joseph, cross the Boulevard Saint Michel and you’ll find rue des Écoles, home to small second-hand shops like Crocodisc. The nearby O’CD has become successful and opened many branches, but at a price: like many small record stores in Paris, it now stocks more DVDs than music.

Then, further along the street, turn right and go up rue de la Montaigne Saint Geneviève. At the very top, just before you come up behind the Panthéon, you have La Dame Blanche, which specializes in jazz and classical music on vinyl. Even if you don’t do the wax, some of those old classical LPs have wonderful sleeves – dig the scary head on young Daniel Barenboim! Half the pleasure of visiting record stores is simply flicking through the stock and finding an album cover that’s surreal, kitsch or slightly troubling. (Another digression: round the corner from La Dame Blanche is the Bombardier, a very nice English pub with filling meals and football on TV.)

But what’s the best record store in Paris? Well, our choice is well outside the city centre – you’ll need to take the metro to Belleville in the east and then push your way through the busy streets of this ethnic, working-class area. Suddenly you’ll fall across Place Saint Marthe, a quiet cobblestone square that has boho cafés on one side. On the other side is the record store, Ground Zero.

Ground Zero record store near Belleville in ParisGround Zero (left) is small and homey – we know it’s a converted house because there’s still a sink in one corner. Like Road Records in Dublin, it stocks the latest indie releases and correctly assumes that you already own the essential classics. Their main trade is in the sort of alternative guitar pop that attracts shy, bookish male punters who then shuffle timidly up to the girls behind the counter.

And, crucially, it sells product from local acts – you’re likely to find records by Paris-based singers and bands displayed in boxes on the counter. In particular, Ground Zero seems to be a favourite of the extended Herman Dune family, who have performed in-store sessions there.

So, this World Record Store Day your correspondent will head for Ground Zero near Belleville in Paris to buy albums and give the twinkly eye to those shop assistants.

On our rare trips outside Paris, we’ve made sure to look for local independent record shops. Should your holidays take you into deep France, we have two recommendations: Planet R in Saint Lô in Normandy and Sofa in Lyon. And there are Gibert Joseph record shops in Versailles and Lyon – we’ve been there, we know that they exist.

If you know any other good record shops in France, especially outside Paris, or if you have a memorable record-buying experience from your school tour or last holiday here, tell us about it with a comment below. Live from Ground Zero in Paris, here's Herman Dune and Julie Doiron singing 'With A Fistful Of Faith':


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Nuggets from our archive

2007 - REM live in the Olympia, by Michael O'Hara. Possibly the definitive review of any of REM's performances during their 2007 Olympia residency. Even the official REM website linked to it.