The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

18

Back in the days when this blog was a column typed arthritically on a steam-powered abacus, we featured 'Paris Calling', a 2006 compilation of the French capital's most exciting new English-language guitar bands.

PlastiscinesPick of the bunch were Plastiscines, four easy-on-the-eye French girls who make equally attractive punk-pop in the tradition of The B-52s, The Ramones and early Jam singles. 'Shake (Twist Around The Fire)', one of their two tracks on the compilation, was an especially catchy song that made it into our end-of-year list of the best French music of 2006.

We had high hopes for their first album, which has just been released under the very functional title of 'LP1' - and it hasn't let us down. It's 26 thrilling minutes of punk energy, pop melody and Parisian attitude. Around half the tracks are in English, so it's likely that the album will be released in Britain, Ireland and North America - especially as the girls recently played in London (with Pravda, our other favourite French band of the moment) and New York. No news of any Irish dates yet.

Plastiscines' domestic fortunes have been mixed, however. Despite positive reviews and healthy sales, the record hasn't achieved the sort of chartbusting success anticipated by the huge advertising campaign that preceded its release (although the album fully justifies all the hype). In fact, most of the band's media exposure has been in the fashion glossies and teen bibles - photoshoots and modelling, rather than music discussion. As a result, their credibility has taken a battering.

Their music press appearances have raised hackles among the '4-Real' old punk brigade who can't take female acts seriously and point to the girls' well-to-do upbringing in the bourgeois suburbs west of Paris. However, they are veritable peasants compared to the New York punk wannabes who formed while in a Swiss finishing school, or to the British diplomat's son who followed up his private-school education by writing and singing punk anthems like 'London Calling' and 'White Riot'.

Embodying this blog's mantra of 'catchy tunes by glamorous people', here's Plastiscines performing 'Shake (Twist Around The Fire)' at a special live showcase at the Trabendo in Paris:

 


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16

An unforgivable omission from Jules' overview of music inspired by Joyce's masterpiece:


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15

Feed the world, help the aged: Bono

Now that he's getting older and spending his summers in his south of France villa, Bono seems to have grown out his past habit of abusing elderly Frenchmen.

He is to contribute a song to the new album by Johnny Hallyday, France's veteran rock n'roll icon. The track is called 'I Am The Blues'.

It is not known whether the song will be in English or French, two languages which neither singer is believed to have ever really mastered.

Swiss rock n'roll: Johnny Hallyday, French rock idol currently living in the Alps64-year-old Hallyday is currently recording the album in Los Angeles, with a provisional release date set for October. He recently became a tax exile in Switzerland after failing to secure Belgian citizenship, which would have allowed him to avoid France's high rate of tax.

Bono and U2 are currently in Morocco, working on writing new songs with long-time production collaborators Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.

Update: It's true! It lives! Check out 'I Am The Blues' by Johnny Hallyday, written by Bono and another noteworthy Irish frontman...


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14

Cork's Simple Kid, maker of 'SK2', CLUAS's top Irish album of 2006, is playing two Paris shows over the next week.

First, on 15 June he's appearing with The Servant and Grand National at a venue called Showcase under the Pont Alexandre III (the bridge with the gold eagles that goes between Invalides and the Champs-Elysées, Paris fans).

He'll also be at the Maroquinerie next Thursday, 21 June - a free concert as part of the Fête de la Musique, France's national music festival. Also playing on the night will be Good Books, Fields and Paco Volume.

We will definitely be there. Report to follow


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13

Saint Malo is a quaint old town on the northern French coast. It has kept its original walled city, and it is a favourite destination for French holiday-makers - in particular, Parisian indie kids. Every summer Saint Malo hosts La Route Du Rock, France's hippest music festival.

This year's edition takes place from 16 to 18 August, which is Wednesday to Friday. The strangely non-weekend dates owes a lot to the fact that 15 August is a public holiday in France, so in true Gallic tradition most people will take the entire week off.

As every year, the line-up is achingly indie-cool: it includes The National, Justice, Elvis Perkins, Herman Dune, CSS, Peter Bjorn and John, LCD Soundsystem and The Besnard Lakes.

The strange (and for some die-hard Saint-Malo-goers, controversial) choice as chief headliner is a genuine marquee name - the reformed Smashing Pumpkins, a rare instance of La Route Du Rock hosting (1) a metal band and (2) a megastar act.

Tickets cost an unwhopping €63.50 (yes, sixty-three euros fifty) and are available online at www.fnacspectacles.com.

At the time of posting, the (incomplete) line-up for La Route Du Rock 2007 is:
          

Wednesday 16 August: Justice, The Go! Team, The National , Herman Düne, Elvis Perkins, Robert Gomez, Thee, Stranded Horse
 
Thursday 17 August: The Smashing Pumpkins, CSS, Peter Bjorn & John, New Young Pony Club, The Besnard Lakes, Fujiya & Miyagi

Friday 18 August: Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation), LCD Soundsystem, Voxtrot, 120 Days, Final Fantasy

Check www.laroutedurock.com for updates on new additions to the bill.


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10

French DJ duo Justice release their first album today (11 June). Its title is † - that is, the symbol of a crucifix.

Their sound is just as hard to name - it's the most evil, intricate, banging, catchy, queasy, funky, joyous dance music we've heard in ages. It's a quantum leap forward from 'Homework' by Daft Punk, the record a decade ago which sent French dance music stratospheric .

Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspar Auge are the pair of Parisians behind Justice.  They first came to attention with a remix of Simian's 'Never Be Alone', which they followed with 2005's amazing 'Waters Of Nazareth', a track which causes stomach upsets if you go too close to the speakers.

You can check out Justice when they appear at Oxegen this summer. Be warned - they DJ with two stacks of Marshall amps, so all you PYTs had better mind your eardrums.

Here's the clever 'T-shirt' video for their current single 'D.A.N.C.E.'


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07

Tonight in Paris at a small indie venue called La Boule Noire there's a concert by a French group called Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle.

Fanta-stic: Ultra Orange and Emmanuelle The Emmanuelle in question is their lead singer - French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, best known for starring beside Harrison Ford in Roman Polanski's 1988 Paris thriller 'Frantic'. These days Ms Seigner is actually Mrs Polanski, and the couple live in Paris.

Last year Seigner starred in a French film called "Backstage", the story of a wild rock diva - and the role obviously gave her a taste for the real thing.

You can listen to some tracks by Ultra Orange & Emmanuelle on their MySpace page, and you can watch the video for their single 'Sing Sing' below:

 

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05

Just because we're living a wonderfully glamorous and exotic life in Paris, that doesn't mean that we have lost touch with our roots or forgotten about everyone back in Eire.

We want to give something back to you - and since we don't want to invite you to stay with us in Paris, we thought we'd help the Leaving Cert students among you. So, here's a quick glimpse of this year's French paper:

1. Reading Comprehension:

Read the following extract from a conversation between a young innocent English girl (Jane) and a Frenchman of dubious morals (Serge). Then answer the questions:

Jane: Je t'aime! Oh, oui, je t'aime!
Serge: Moi non plus.
Jane: Tu es la vague; moi, l'île nue
Serge: Je vais et je viens entre tes reins.
Jane: Maintenant, maintenant, tiens!! Ohhhhh *long org@smic groan*

(a) Outline the geographical imagery that Jane uses to suggest that she is well up for it.
(b) How does Serge indicate that he is a consultant proctologist at his local hospital?
(c) In your opinion, how could radio stations and church leaders suffer moral outrage at this conversation, despite not being able to understand any of it? Give reasons for your answer.

2. Writing.

You wish to attend a pop festival in Brittany this summer. Write to Madame Dubois, the local campsite owner and rock impresario, to ask for information. Your letter should include the following points:

- how to get there - by specially-subsidised French state transport, or by one decrepit Dublin bus every hour that gets caught in the traffic jam at the narrow exit to the field/car-park.
- whether a mortgage plan is necessary for ticket purchase, or if the average French industrial wage will suffice.
- if Arcade Fire will be there (as at every outdoor French event this summer, including the French Open tennis final and Monsieur Lenoir's Bastille Day barbecue).
- if camping is available (and if it is expected to be attacked and torched by drunken French hooligans in PSG jerseys, and if Madame Dubois the promoter will threaten to sue you if you even hint that it happened).

3. Oral.

Choose one of the following points to discuss in French with the examiner, using the video (below) of the sample exam (by D. Rice of Newbridge CBS) to help you.

 - How your complete fear and disgust regarding fame doesn't dissuade you from continuing to be a pop star performing before thousands of paying punters.

 - How the aforementioned paying punters should listen in reverential silence and not to sing along, despite being at a music event.

 - How you like sailing your little boat.

(Tip: The examiner may also decide to ask you about your recently-departed co-vocalist and how you're going to continue promoting an album that featured her so prominently. Please bear in mind that storming out of the exam hall is an automatic fail)


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04

The Eurockéenes festival, now in its 19th edition, is one of the more prestigious summer music events on the continent. It takes place on the weekend of 29 June - 1 July in Belfort, in the east of France.

Given that Belfort is virtually the geographical centre of continental western Europe and close to the Swiss and German borders, the festival traditionally attracts a wide geographical spead of punters, especially people travelling around on Eurorail passes. Its central location allows for (relatively ) cheap and easy access - for instance, EasyJet fly to nearby Mulhouse (that is, Basel-Mulhouse EuroAirport).

 As for the festival itself, there are two stages, two marquees and a plethora of big names. Marilyn Manson headlines the first day, which also features Amy Winehouse and the Wu-Tang Clan (backstage that day should be interesting).

The Saturday has a more indie-rock flavour, with The Hives, QOTSA, Editors, Maximo Park, Cold War Kids, I'm From Barcelona and Phoenix (France's best band and long-time favourites of your correspondent). Then after Sunday mass you can see Arcade Fire (playing every festival in France, it really seems), The Good The Bad And the Queen (playing songs from their album The Boring The Boring and The Boring), Antony and the Johnsons, Air, TV On The Radio, Laurent Garnier, Klaxons and more.

A 3-day pass (available online) costs €100, with a 1-day ticket available for a ridiculously cheap  €37 (but add on a couple of euro for booking fees, okay?). There's also free camping and shuttle buses as well as luggage storage for the aforementioned Eurorailers.

More details (in English) available on the English page of the festival's website www.eurockeennes.fr

The full festival line-up is:

Friday 29 June : Marilyn Manson, Juliette and the Licks, Wu-Tang Clan, Les Rita Mitsouko, Amy Winehouse, Kaolin, Justice, Gogol Bordello, Griots and Gods, Clipse, Converge, Peter Von Poehl, Archie Bronson Outfit, Punish Yourself, Hellbats, Iltika, Hollow Corp.
 
Saturday 30 June : The Hives, Queens Of The Stone Age, Phoenix, JoeyStarr, Olivia Ruiz, Editors, Abd Al Malik, Digitalism, Maxïmo Park, Cold War Kids, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, I'm From Barcelona, Bassékou Kouyaté, Tumi And The Volume, Stones Throw, Scanners, Blanche, Deerhoof, Shitdisco, Heavyweight Dub Champion, Stellardrive, For My Hybrid, Navel.
 

Sunday 1 July : Arcade Fire, Tryo, Air, The Good, the Bad and the Queen, TV on the Radio, Antony & the Johnsons, Laurent Garnier, Bikini Machine, Sick of It All, Bitty McLean, Klaxons, Hatebreed, Loney, dear, Goose, Pelican, 65 days of static, Stuck in the Sound, The Audience, Cocoon.

 


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03

TV chat-shows in the 1980s depended a lot on The Drunken Celebrity. In Britain or Ireland this usually meant inviting (for no reason whatsoever) George Best or Oliver Reed, leaving plenty of alcohol in their dressing room, and then gasping in mock horror as they slurred, swore and staggered their way into the next morning's tabloids. It was cynical, depressing and strangely compelling.

In France this role was filled by the country's greatest ever pop songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg. On one of his many notorious television appearances he burned a 500 franc banknote - an illegal act in France.The greatest love of all: Serge Gainsbourg charms Whitney Houston, live on French TV

However, his most infamous antic will always be the time in 1986 when he was a guest on a show called "Champs-Elysées" alongside a young and (then) squeaky-clean Whitney Houston, in her first year as a worldwide star.

Having sung her smash hit 'Saving All My Love For You', Whitney was brought by presenter Michel Drucker (still the Pat Kenny of bourgeois French TV) over to the couch where Serge was waiting. Fairly well tanked up by this stage, Serge gallantly kissed her hand and then proceeded to give Whitney the full force of his charm.

Hands all over her (and with a troublemaking look in his eye) he complemented her in slurred English on her looks before delivering his smoothest chat-up line: 'I want to f**k her'.

Whitney, in fairness to her, reacted in good humour. After gasping playfully at his naughty word, she calmed Serge down by holding his hand for the rest of the interview. And Gainsbourg, for his part, apologised almost immediately.

By contrast, the panicking presenter Drucker (in a Kenny-style lack of coolness) tried to convince Whitney that what Serge had IN FACT said was 'you are very beautiful' - to which Serge responded by clarifying that what he had indeed said was 'I want to f**k her'.

Today, of course, it is still shocking to say you want to sleep with Whitney Houston, but for altogether different reasons.

Re-live the greatest chat-up line of all right here. Fortunately, all the important parts are in English:


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Nuggets from our archive

1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.