The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

07

Sebastien TellierSensational news from Paris tonight - France's Eurovision entry for 2008 is none other than Sebastien Tellier!

Tellier (right) will perform his track 'Divine', which currently features on his recently-released third album, 'Sexuality'. It is understood that Tellier will perform a specially-adapted English-French version of his Prince-meets-Beach-Boys song.

The announcement was made by the contest's official site, who were informed today by the French Eurovision delegation. Tellier will not need to face a national selection contest in France.

This year's contest will take place in Belgrade on 24 May.

France has not won the contest in over thirty years, when Marie Myriam took the prize in 1977 with 'L'Oiseau et L'Enfant'.

The most famous French Eurovision winner, however, represented Luxembourg - France Gall won for the tiny country with Serge Gainsbourg's 'Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son' in 1965. The song has recently been covered by Arcade Fire.

Ireland's 2008 entry has not gone unmentioned in the French media, and already this year's contest is being presented as a duel between Tellier and Dustin, 'la dinde irlandaise' ('the Irish turkey'). Dustin, though, must first qualify from the semi-final stage on the preceding Thursday whereas Tellier goes directly into the Saturday night final.

There's no official video for 'Divine' yet, but the YouTube community has wasted no time in whipping up a patriotic home-made promo:


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06

Sebastien Tellier (live at the Centre Pompidou, Paris)

Sebastien TellierReview Snapshot: An unusual location for, it must be said, a singular performer. The hairy, scary electronician brings his French lover routine to the famous Paris contemporary art museum. Unfortunately, his new synth-ballad material is nothing to get excited about. But the stripped-down version of 'La Ritournelle' was marvellous - and Tellier is always an engaging and entertaining live performer.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
Have you been to the Centre Pompidou? You know where we mean. Wedged between naff Les Halles, sleazy Rue Saint Denis and ultra-hip Le Marais. Ugly on the outside, conceptually-arty on the inside. Music blaring on the plaza in front of it, either cutting-edge Tecktonik dancers or hitsville buskers. From the top, a great view of all Paris.

No better location, then, for Sebastien Tellier to showcase his new album, 'Sexuality', on 29 February last. A mixture of naff late-eighties Bowie, sleazy mid-eighties Prince and ultra-hip Giorgio Moroder and, emmm, Jean Michel Jarre. A concept album about sex, wrapped in sleeve art that's supremely awful: dumb, sexist and ugly. It's a record that's fashionable and traditional at once, and overall that sums up Paris for us.

 A seated theatre within an art gallery is probably not the best setting for this music; it kills excitement and encourages pretentiousness. But Tellier, tall and hairy like his rugby-playing near-namesake Sebastien Chabal, used his assertive physical presence and erratic personality to great effect; he put on a highly entertaining show.

The new material featured a lot of slow, synthy, two-step ballads in an '80s R n' B style: the working title for a track like 'Divine' might well have been 'Love Theme From "Beverly Hills Cop"'. You won't need to hear it. Now and then a vocoder effect would remind us that we were in Paris and that Guy-Man from Daft Punk had produced these tracks for Tellier. In truth, apart from the Jarre-esque 'Sexual Sportswear' there was little to tell the new songs apart.

But why was there a baseball bat lying centre-stage? Would he symbolically smash up the keyboards mid-song and carry on with ukelele? No, it was only a phallic prop: halfway through the show Tellier kneeled over it to give it a few languid, suggestive strokes. That was the beginning and end of any on-stage raunchiness to match the album's theme.

Much sexier was Tellier hunched over the piano, pounding out the familiar rolling chords of 'La Ritournelle'. Even with him slowing down the sung verses and wrecking the romantic buzz somewhat, the song was still as enthralling as ever. It was Tellier's only concession that night to the folksy, shambling style of previous album 'Politics'.

Tellier's scattered unpredicability will always make for fascinating concerts, and it's a pity that none of this volatility has made it into his new material. But that's modern art for you; dangerous people making dull things.

Aidan Curran


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03

Congratulations to Nialler9 on winning (retaining, we should say) the Music category at the Irish Blog Awards in Dublin last Saturday night. We know some music fans here in Paris who have no Irish connections but who have found his blog and are loyal fans. Chapeau!
 
[Your Paris correspondent was very happy to have made the final shortlist. Of course, we'd have preferred to have won... but thanks to the judges for their kindness and our readers for your support. If you've just joined us, your curiosity aroused by seeing our link on the list of nominees - bienvenue!]
 
Michel GondryNialler recently posted some videos by French director Michel Gondry (right), in the news at the moment for his new movie 'Be Kind Rewind'. Gondry is probably one of the most influential, innovative and celebrated music video directors ever, making the medium a real art form. He has made a quirky yet successful jump into cinema, with idiosyncratic films like 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind' and 'The Science Of Sleep' earning excellent reviews.

Gondry's most famous music videos include his work for Bjork's 'Human Behaviour', Massive Attack's 'Protection' (an amazing song and video) and The White Stripes' 'The Hardest Button To Button'.

But did you know that Gondry has directed videos for three Irish acts?

The first was his debut non-French clip: for 'How The West Was Won' by Belfast band Energy Orchard. We couldn't find any footage of it, but we recall that it features the band playing in front of a screen showing old cowboy movies. It was clever in its way but hardly anything special.

The second was for 'This Is It (Your Soul)' by The Hothouse Flowers. A black-and-white affair, it's a streetscene reflected in a concave mirror. Yes, it's terrible.

More memorable is this video for Sinead O'Connor's ferocious 'Fire On Babylon':


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26

Air plan to bring out a special limited edition of 'Moon Safari' on 31 March to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its release.
 
Moon Safari by AirThe two-disc set will feature the original album plus remixes and live session versions of the album's best-known tracks. The package will also include a DVD documentary on the duo.
 
One of the best-loved albums of 1998, 'Moon Safari' combined the lush soulfulness of 'Melody Nelson'-era Serge Gainsbourg with the dreamy, faux-futuristic electronica of Jean Michel Jarre's 'Oxygène'. Selling around two million copies worldwide, the album cemented the popularity and public perception of French electronica, which had broken into the mainstream music consciousness with Daft Punk's 'Homework' the previous year.
 
The Air pair, Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, followed up 'Moon Safari' with an electrifying soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's 'The Virgin Suicides' and a collection of their charming earlier releases, 'Premiers Symptômes'. We highly recommend both.
 
Their post-'Safari' studio albums, however, have been more problematic. In an apparent attempt to puncture expectations of a 'Moon Safari II', their next official release had a harsher, robotic sound which was closer to a bad Kraftwerk parody than to Gainsbourg or Jarre. '10,000Hz Legend' was a relative flop, seen as a stubborn reaction against their previous success.
 
2004's 'Talkie Walkie' tried to revisit the dreaminess of 'Moon Safari', especially in soft-focus singles like 'Cherry Blossom Girl', but with limited success. And the less said about last year's ghastly 'Pocket Symphony' the better.
 
'Pocket Symphony' was all the more disappointing given the high standard of Godin and Dunckel's side projects the previous year. The two collaborated with lyricists Neil Hannon and Jarvis Cocker on Charlotte Gainsbourg's excellent '5:55' album, while Dunckel's intriguing solo album as Darkel was closer to the true Kraftwerk spirit than '10,000Hz Legend'.
 
It seems that Air will forever live in the shadow of their wonderful debut album, but their side projects (including 'The Virgin Suicides') always offer us hope of another masterpiece.
 
'Moon Safari' featured the lovestruck 'All I Need' and the stomping 'Kelly Watch The Stars' (released as a single remix which rocks more than the album track). Our favourite, though, is the poptastic first single, 'Sexy Boy'. Here's the video, where the two lads play astronaut in New York with their toy monkey:


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24

The cultural links between Ireland and France have always been strong. The Flight Of The Earls in 1607 saw us lose our Gaelic nobility, who fled to France and left their loyal Irish subjects behind as a leader-less shower of peasants. Later, Wolfe Tone returned to Ireland from France to try to incite republican uprising and sing republican ballads.

Enterprising mercenary Richard Hennessy so impressed King Louis XV that in 1765 the early Irish entrepreneur was granted the town of Cognac, where he started producing the drink that today is popular both with US rappers and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (apparently a fiend for the stuff).

And, speaking of short leaders with strange hair, Bono lives in the south of France and writes (with Simon Carmody!) the occasional song for Johnny Hallyday. Yes, French culture is all the richer for its Irish influence.

No doubt with this cultural kinship in mind, Gary Moore and Phil Lynott (right) wrote the massively popular 'Parisienne Walkways'. Originally featuring on Moore's 1978 album 'Back On The Streets', the track was released as a single in April 1979 and reached number 8 in the UK Top Ten.

The lyrics, typically for Lynott's non-Lizzy work, are quite maudlin: the narrator is sentimental for "Paris in '49 / The Champs-Elysées, Saint Michel / and old Beaujolais wine" and reminisces about  "those summer days spent outside corner cafés". All very picture-postcard, like.

But then again, no one listens to this song for its two short verses of words. No, 'Parisienne Walkways' features one of the most famous guitar lines in rock, no doubt still accompanied on countless tennis rackets in front of bedroom mirrors the world over.

It's a staple of air guitar competitions (and 'Air Guitar Hits' compilation albums), soundtrack to the hunched-over-the-axe, hair-hanging-over-face, standing-on-mountain-peak position.

You can perfect your moves by watching Moore and Lynott duetting live in the '80s (at the Ulster Hall in Belfast in 1984, apparently, but we're not quite sure). Air guitarists, your cue is at 2 mins 30 seconds:


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21

'Stage Of The Art' is a series of regular shows, starting tonight, that aim to link the London and Paris music scenes. Appropriately, the events are sponsored by Eurostar (the Channel Tunnel train company) and their 'London Coming' cultural initiative.

Stage Of The Art in Paris

The concerts will take place in a major art institution in each capital - in London at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo (a contemporary art gallery across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower).

The opening show, tonight in London, features indie band Poney Poney and enigmatic electronician Sebastien Tellier, who will be playing extracts from his forthcoming album, 'Sexuality'. Then in Paris tomorrow night it's the turn of Laura Marling, Paris Motel and Dirty Pretty Things.

It's fitting that Carl Barat's new band will inaugurate the Paris end of the event; The Libertines were profoundly influential on the current wave of Parisian 'babyrocker' bands like Plastiscines and Naast.

Further twin concerts are scheduled for April 18-19, June 6-7 and July 10-11 - however, no acts for those dates have been confirmed yet.

The concert series is a further example of the close relationship between the two grand old capitals, especially in music. For the London scene, Paris is the home of achingly-hip electronica - hence Monsieur Tellier on the UK bill. In the French capital it's the English NME-indie-band community that's admired, thus explaining Dirty Pretty Things' appearance.

Sponsors Eurostar, with the Channel Tunnel train service, have reinvigorated the relationship - the two capitals are now just two hours apart, and cross-channel daytripping is more and more common. For instance, this weekend: England are playing France in the Six Nations in Paris on Saturday night!

Could a similar concert-twinning idea work for an Irish city? Within Ireland, for instance - a Dublin-Belfast exchange. Or perhaps internationally, Dublin with London, Glasgow, Liverpool... or why not Turin, given the new Juventus link with our national football team?

Anyway, you can keep up to date on the Paris-London series of concerts by touching base with the Stage Of The Art MySpace page, where you can hear tracks from the featured artists.

Sebastien Tellier, continuing the music-art theme, will play a special show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in February 29 - your blogger will be there! Here's 'Sexual Sportswear', the first single off Tellier's new album. As if with the France-UK connection constantly in mind, the track sounds like Jean Michel Jarre and the video looks like a James Bond credit sequence:


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20

Via an EXCLUSIVE from UnaRocks, the first names on this year's Trinity Ball line-up have been announced.

VitalicIf you're putting on the Ritz this May 9 and plan to spend your night in central Dublin's part-time college/full-time tourist attraction, you'll be able to debauch yourself until early-house opening-time to the likes of superstar producer Mark Ronson, Berlin electro-DJ Boys Noize, indie-kid Lightspeed Champion... and le French touch of Vitalic (right).

Vitalic is Dijon-born DJ and remixer Pascal Arbez. He first came to attention with his 2001 track 'La Rock 01' and released his debut album, OK Cowboy, in 2005, from which you might know 'My Friend Dario' - if not the single, then perhaps its trashy video.

Why not visit Vitalic's MySpace page to sample the merchandise? Warning: the background design is fairly trippy and will give you eyeache. It moves around like those Jesus pictures with the follow-you eyes. Surely the CLUAS gaffer would have words with him about it.

Here's the video for 'Poney Part 1' - it features lots of dogs with floppy ears and sad eyes (or is that 'sad ears and floppy eyes'?), so it should appeal to noted music blogger/cute-animal-lover The Indie Hour:


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19

Rarely Seen Above Ground, the electronica project of Kilkenny drummer Jeremy Hickey, appeared at La Flèche d'Or in Paris on 16 February.
 
Unfortunately, your CLUAS Foreign Correspondent (Paris) wasn't there, so we can't bring you a review or any news of how the show went. Please excuse your humble F.C.(P.) for this lapse in our service. If you were there, let us know how the show went.

The least we can do to make amends is to plug Hickey's next Irish appearance. Rarely Seen Above Ground will be on the Phantom 105.2 stage at the Childline Rocks show at the Academy (formerly Spirit, amongst other names) on 28 February.

We understand that RSAG's live show is quite special - Hickey sits in the centre of a huge drum-kit, singing as he plays. Behind him are video projections of him playing the other instruments you can hear in the live mix. You can see for yourself at the Childline Rocks gig.
 
Hickey, former drummer with Kilkenny band Blue Ghost, released an album in 2006 and you can hear some tracks on the RSAG MySpace page.  Here's a taster of his live show, filmed at the Dinner's Ready festival last year.


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18

CamilleAt last, new material from one of our favourite French artists.

Camille (right) has just released her new single, 'Gospel With No Lord'. It's the first track to be taken from her new album, the wonderfully-titled 'Music Hole', which is set for release on 7 April. Another song from the album, 'Money Note', is available from her website.

'Music Hole' is the tardy follow-up to Camille's 2005 album 'Le Fil', winner of that year's Prix Constantin and (no less prestigious) French Letter's Best French Music Of 2005.

There's no news yet of any upcoming Irish shows by the French singer/voice artist, who previously performed in Dublin as part of post-modern bossanova punks Nouvelle Vague. If you fancy the trek to London, she's playing at Koko on 14 May, with dates in Brussels, Hamburg and Paris thereafter.

No video yet for either new track. However, to give you an idea of the Camille live experience, here she is performing her hit 'Ta Douleur' on French television. How would you describe THIS?


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17

Your Paris-based blogger is always glad to find Irish acts who love le French touch. Neil Hannon is a noted Francophile, for instance, and Dark Room Notes paid homage to classic French cinema in their video for 'Love Like Nicotine'.

Les BienAnd then there's Dublin electronica duo Les Bien (right). As well as the French name (suggestively sexy, at the expense of correct grammar - very Parisian), they're an electronica duo and you can't really get more French than that, non?

Mais si! *Gallic shrug* The two lads, Simon and Leon, have a cracking track called 'We Don't Speak French'. It's a fine bit of dancefloor français with, for that extra Parisian touch, a breathy female asking "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" every few seconds.

The tune has come to our attention because of its video by NYU Tisch School Of Arts student Kelly Goeller. Their collaboration is part of the Hot Press/NYU series of videos. An excellent concept - unfortunately, Hot Press thinks that the video is for 'Can't Speak French' by Le Bien. In fairness to HP, though, the band's own website (not updated in a year) calls them Le Bien and speaks about their "raison d'aitre" (they can't spell French either). And Kelly Goeller's site calls the Le Bien too.

But they're Les Bien on their MySpace page and in the photo above. And, given our puerile nom de blog, choosing which band name to use was a no-brainer.

You can hear more from Le(s) Bien at their MySpace page. Here's the aforementioned video for "We Don't Speak French":


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Nuggets from our archive

2004 - The CLUAS Reviews of Erin McKeown's album 'Grand'. There was the positive review of the album (by Cormac Looney) and the entertainingly negative review (by Jules Jackson). These two reviews being the finest manifestations of what became affectionately known, around these parts at least, as the 'McKeown wars'.