The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

04

Damien Rice is playing two shows in Paris this week. He's at the Olympia tonight and tomorrow night (4 and 5 July). Support on both nights is by long-time Rice-collaborator Vyvienne Long.

As we've mentioned before, the Newbridge singer-songer is very popular in France, not least of all because he speaks French in interviews (and speaks it very well, we must add). Also, when he's not touring he spends a lot of time here, and as a result he gives the impression of being genuinely relaxed and happy in France - an impression which to French fans gives the lie to the widespread perception of Rice as being humourless and oversensitive.

French music fans, who tend to value lyrics over melody, generally have a soft spot for sensitive and poetic artists, so Damo's love for France is definitely requited.

The Olympia (around the corner from the equally celebrated Opera) is possibly the most prestigious and iconic contemporary music venue in Paris - it's the spiritual home of Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf, both of whom recorded now-legendary live shows here when at their peak. The cavernous hall is famous for the quality of its acoustics, so an emotive singer-songer like Damo should definitely feel at home here.

Rice's two shows this week follow an earlier French tour in March to promote his second album, '9'. From his Paris concert last March, here's Damo singing 'Cannonball':

 

 


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02

The band with most influence on the Paris scene? The Libertines, who seem to have inspired the formation of half the guitar acts in the city (Plastiscines, for example, met up one of the London band's Paris concerts).

It's somehow logical, then, that the most popular band of the Paris scene sound so similar to Pete Doherty's former group.

Naast, namechecked by every young Paris band as the best of their peers, share The Libertines' raucous rough-cut garage style. In short, your attitude towards Naast will depend largely on your attitude towards The Libertines.

In a further act of imitation, this time of The Ramones, the four members use the band name as their surnames. Hence Gustav Naast the lead singer, Laka Naast on guitar, and so forth. And they also share some of Da Bruddahs' attitude (but, alas, none of their pop quality).

They do show one streak of individuality, however - they sing in French, whereas most of their fellow bands have at least a few English-language tracks.

And they can certainly walk the walk. After a recent Bordeaux gig, where a hostile crowd hurled cigarette butts and beer cans at the stage, Gustav is alleged to have attacked the 15-year-old bass player of local band Cowboys In Africa - specifically, by stabbing him in the eye and body with a fork. At the time of writing, the matter has not yet been resolved.

Not altogether ironically, one of their singles is called 'Mauvais Garçon' ('Bad Boy'). Here's the video:


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29

First things first: we must shatter a popular myth - Django Reinhardt never lost any fingers. For all of his life he had the full set of ten. Look at the picture below right and count them (okay, so you can't see his thumbs).

However, what is true is that, because of injuries he sustained in a fire when he was 18, two fingers of his left hand were badly withered (due to the same incident his right leg was so badly damaged that he had to use a cane for the rest of his life). Although he depended on his two left forefingers to do nearly all his fretwork, he occasionally could use the two damaged fingers.

Disability was not the only obstacle Django had to overcome. He was a gypsy at a time (the Nazi occupation of France) when many gypsies were deported to concentration camps (the Third Reich tolerated neither ethnic minorities nor jazz). He escaped to Britain during the war with the help of a Luftwaffe officer called Dietrich Schulz-Kohn (known to his friends as 'Doktor Jazz') who was a huge fan of Reinhardt and his music. After the war he returned to France and his encampment to the north of Paris - today if you take the train between Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris, you'll still see modern gypsy camps in the same area near the Stade de France.

Reinhardt never adapted to modern life nor sought to join the settled community. Happily for him, the modern world would, out of admiration for his astounding music, often adapt itself to him. One of our favourite Django stories (and there are loads out there) tells of the time that the Belgian royal family, huge fans of his music, invited him to dinner in their palace in Brussels. When salad was served Django ignored the cutlery and began eating with his fingers. After several seconds of stunned silence the royals, not wanting to offend him, also began eating their salad with their fingers.

Reinhardt lived his final years in Samois-sur-Seine, outside Paris, and this weekend the town honours him by hosting its annual festival of the 'jazz manouche' (or gypsy jazz) style he defined.

Django's most famous works are those from his time with the 'Hot Club de Paris', the group he and violinist Stephane Grapelli played with in the jazz bars of Saint-Germain. The recordings that Reinhardt and Grapelli made are essential listening and continue to influence artists of all genres. In particular, we loved the Hot Club Of Cowtown, a Texan trio (now split up, unfortunately) that mixed jazz manouche with country swing. Strangely enough, the English band called Hot Club De Paris plays indie-rock.

From the rare surviving footage of Django in action, here's 'J'Attendrai':


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26
Tarantino soundtrack = quirky, eclectic and interesting vintage pop. Listen and enjoy it now before it all gets played to death. CLUAS Verdict: 8.5 out of 10 Quentin Tarantino soundtracks are ...

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25

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists played an explosive show at the Fleche d'Or in Paris last night. Unfortunately, the turnout was low - in fact, the band's original Paris show (at the Nouveau Casino) was cancelled due to poor ticket sales, and last night's slot on the Fleche's Monday night bill a less-than-ideal solution. Still and all, they were magnificent - and free!

They must surely be one of the hardest-rocking bands around. Sometimes they rock like At The Drive In: furnace blasts of incendiary chords and screaming rage. Other times they rock like Thin Lizzy: southern-fried blues licks with stomping basslines on the side. On 'A Bottle Of Buckie' (from their latest album 'Living With The Living') they even rock like The Pogues. In summary, they rock like The Rock and Rocky Balboa hurling rocks at the Rock of Cashel.

Almost as impressive as the rock is the hair. Check out drummer Chris Wilson's Ronnie Drew-like beard! And bassist Dave Lerner's poodle perm! We haven't seen hair like that since (Snip! - CLUAS Legal Department).

If you want to rock, go to see them. They'll be at Crawdaddy in Dublin this Wednesday night - it's one of CLUAS's Gigs Of The Fortnight. They're then playing the Roisin Dubh in Galway on Thursday and Lavery's Bunker in Belfast on Friday.

To whet your appetite, here's 'Sons Of Cain' live from San Francisco:


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25

Groan. The new single by French singer Amel Bent is called 'Nouveau Francais' and it deals with contemporary social issues - and it borrows a few bars of 'La Marseillaise' to make its point.

We're disappointed because Amel's first album, in 2005, was full of sassy, smart, self-assured Rn'B-flavoured pop - the best of which was the brilliant 'Ma Philosophie', one of our picks of the best French tunes of 2005.

All that summer, groups of girls sang it in streets, on the metro and (if my upstairs neighbour is typical) in their bedrooms. In short, it did more to project and cultivate a positive image of ethnic French women than any political speech or well-meaning social initiative. If that's not political, then I don't know what is.

Now, for her second album ('A 20 Ans', which means 'At Age 20'), Amel is presenting a more mature image - with cliched 'socially-aware' songs written by middle-aged men (and even one by the elderly Charles Aznavour) which are completely out of touch with the young French girls who idolise her.

And as French people are currently recovering from having voted four times in the last six weeks, a climate of political fatigue is probably the worst context for releasing an overtly political record.

What a pity. Anyway, here's that derriere-kicking 'Ma Philosophie', one of the best French singles of the last decade. But be careful -  you can't dance and think at the same time: 


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24

It was Jim Carroll over at the journal of record who tipped us off about Malajube, a five-piece from Quebec whose 2006 record 'Trompe l'Oeil' has recently been released in Europe.

As with a lot of innovative music these days, this album gleefully jumbles up genres  - there are bits of '70s AM rock, new wave, folk and even a touch of indie-pop. It sounds fresh, inventive and full of energy - the immediate (if a bit too obvious) comparison would be to 'Funeral' by Arcade Fire.

So, the new Arcade Fire with 2007's smash hit indie album? Probably not. You see, your local record dealer's just going to bury it in his 'world' music section because they sing in French.

But while singing in French will probably put off a lot of English-language punters, that shouldn't dissuade the French, right? Wrong. French-language music from Quebec is considered deeply uncool here in 'la Hexagone'- behind Celine Dion there's a horde of equally-bland balladeers (names like Mylene Farmer, Garou and Lara Fabian; apologies to any French readers who've just got sick all over their computers) who come to France to seek their fortune.

And French people generally ridicule the Quebecois for their accents, just as they do with the Belgians and Swiss for having the nerve to speak French in a Belgian or Swiss accent (and just like how the Irish accent was mocked in Britain until the 1990s). English-speaking Quebec acts like Arcade Fire or Rufus Wainwright don't meet this barrier (this Maginot Line, if you will) of linguistic credibility.

Malajube have already been and gone around Europe before anyone seemed to notice them - they played in Dublin earlier this month, and supported Arcade Fire here in Paris.

However, they'll be back for some European festivals this August - in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and a French festival called Les Nuits Secretes (at Aulnoye-Aymeries, in the north-east near Lille and the Belgian border). No news yet of any Irish festival appearances - but in the meantime you can listen to the entire album on their MySpace page, and you can watch the video for the wonderful pop thrills of 'Montreal -40°C' below. Remember; in French the 't' is silent in 'Montreal'. Now that's not too scary to listen to, is it?


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23

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We don't know much about this guy (right). He calls himself PacoVolume; he's French but he sings in English. We came upon him only because he supported Simple Kid in Paris last week - however, we spent much of his set waiting impatiently for the Cork boy to come on.

And then right at the end PacoVolume plays his ace: a marvellous song called 'Cookiemachine' which we've heard a couple of times on the radio without catching the singer's name. It has a Super Furry Animals sound to it, and the chorus is wonderful.

It's taken from PacoVolume's album 'Manhattan Baby', which came out at the tail end of 2006. Unfortunately, none of his other songs even come close to the brilliance of 'Cookiemachine', which is just waiting to be a hit! hit! hit!

No video for it yet - but you can listen to it on PacoVolume's MySpace site, along with other tracks of his. There's also an MP3 version of it available at the bottom of this post from music bloggers Milk Milk Lemonade.

 


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21

There's no better way to mark today's French national music festival than with news of new music from France's greatest living pop star.

Manu Chao will release his new album 'La Radiolina' on 27 August. The first single taken off the album is 'Rainin' In Paradize', and you can watch the video below. Warning: it's fairly ordinary stuff -  a real disappointment compared to his electrifying back catalogue. And the video's terrible too. But if you like it, the track can be downloaded for free from Manu Chao's website.

No news yet of European tour dates or an Irish show (he's currently doing shows in North America) - hopefully Irish promoters will have learned by now just how huge an international star Manu Chao really is. In summer 2004 he was booked to play an Irish show at...Whelan's. The show eventually took place at... The Point, which he could have filled three times over, such was the demand for tickets, even with Metallica playing at the RDS arena on the same night.

Some astute Irish promoter will surely book him for a huge outdoor show, certain of the fact that every Spanish, Italian and French person in Ireland (thousands, we assure you - and that's not even including the hordes of summer students) will flock to see him.

Anyway, here's the video for 'Rainin' In Paradize':


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19

In France, the longest day of the year is also the longest night - 21 June is Fete de la Musique, France's national music day. It's a bit like St Patrick's Day but without the parade, the rain or the streetside vomiting.

Every French city, town and village has organised free outdoor musical events of all genres. Many venues also enter into the spirit and put on free shows.

Two Irish acts will play in Paris for the festival. Our recent Eurovision entrants Dervish are in concert at the Irish Cultural Centre, near the Pantheon. Alternatively, Simple Kid is on the bill at the Maroquinerie, a cosy little venue in the east of the city. We know which of those we'll be at.

The festival is now celebrated in cities across the world, and Dublin's large French community is also getting involved.

'French Music Feast' at Crawdaddy features traditional chanson francaise from Thomasi, some self-explanatory rock sounds by Mon Cote Punk and some world music sounds from Killdahype and various other DJs late into the night.

Full details are available at www.myspace.com/frenchmusicfeast


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Nuggets from our archive

2003 - Witnness 2003, a comprehensive review by Brian Kelly of the 2 days of what transpired to be the last ever Witnness festival (in 2004 it was rebranded as Oxegen when Heineken stepped into the sponsor shoes).