The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

Entries for 'Aidan Curran'

14

Number one in the singles charts in France this week is a track by French-born basketball star Tony Parker.

Don't give up the day job: Tony Parker - basketballer and rapperBy any standards, "Balance-Toi" is a fairly ordinary rap single. However, such is Parker's hero-status here that he could be reciting the Paris phone book and it would still sell metro-loads. Basketball, especially the NBA, is huge in urban France, tying in with rap's popularity here to create an identity and way of life for French teenagers from ethnic backgrounds.

The video for Parker's single is heavy on the bling-bling, but is probably more notable for the appearance by 'Desperate Housewives' star Eva Longoria - Parker's girlfriend.

Personally, from an Irish perspective we'd like to see Colm Cooper rapping about winning Kerry's umpteenth All-Ireland (video featuring, oh, Glenda Gilson or someone like that - and the bling-bling Sam Maguire trophy, of course).

Check out Parker's video here, rap/basketball/showbiz gossip fans!

 

 


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13

While 2006 was a cracking year for French pop, 2007 has been a bit of a let-down so far. New albums by Air and Carla Bruni were disappointingly dull, while most of the guitar bands in Paris are stuck in a Libertines/Strokes fixation.

But we've searched long and hard and finally we've found some hidden treasures that merit your attention.Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, sharing their name with a James Bond soundtrack (a Dionne Warwick song from Thunderball) and a 2005 Robert Downey Jr film, are a four-piece Paris-based band. They make the same sort of epic heartfelt pop as under-rated Limerick band Woodstar, although they themselves describe their sound less romantically as "The Strokes f*cking with Wendy from Prefab Sprout".

They are currently rehearsing material and playing shows in Paris, but have yet to release material.

However, you can listen to some tracks on their MySpace page - we recommend "I'm In Love With You".


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10

Duke Special's show at the Nouveau Casino in Paris on 9 May was extraordinary - a resounding success. We can base this on empirical data: wild cheering, a second encore, the hungry queue to buy CDs after the show. But ultimately it's the emotional evidence that seals the verdict: the heart-thumping, soul-soaring, head-spinning, blood-rushing thrill that makes you want to go home and make your own music so that you could possibly move people in the same way.

In her review of the Duke's Dublin show in March, CLUAS's Anna Murray accurately lauded Peter Wilson's "entire package of performance, affecting honesty and offbeat entertainment that leaves you amazed in its wake". Is there anything finer in Irish pop today than the climax of 'Freewheel', when Wilson builds up power ("come on, come on, come on...") and then simply takes off with a soaring cry of "my soul"? At that moment in Paris last night people cheered, embraced and quite a lot seemed to get dust in their eye. The bare words in cold print just can't do justice to the feeling.  

There were three of them, all in 19th-century vibe - the Duke and drummer Temperance Society Chip Bailey dressed in cavalry jackets like stragglers from the Charge Of The Light Brigade, while Rea Curran on trumpet, accordion and backing vocals modelled the tweed-jacket and bushy-red-beard-with-no-moustache combination of a Punch caricature of a belligerent Irish peasant. Their show had the fresh quirkiness of a music hall act - especially the Harpo Marx-esque Bailey, switching between drums, cheese-grater and an indescribable hurdy-gurdy pole adorned with bells and shakers.

Even as they simply stood on stage, lit by chandeliers in this intimate Paris back-room, they were strange and thrilling to behold. Before each song Wilson stood wild-eyed like some Dickensian parlour-conjurer above his keyboard-draped-in-red-velvet, as if he were about to levitate Lilly Langtry or hypnotise a lord.

The eminent Victorians were joined for a few French verses of 'Portrait' by the wonderful Emily Loizeau, whose magical 2006 album 'L'Autre Bout Du Monde' shares much of Wilson's approach to melodic and heartfelt piano-pop.

Most of the highlights off 'Songs From The Deep Forest' got a play although, such is the abundance of jewels at Wilson's disposal, there was no room for the poignant 'This Could Be My Last Day'. But at least he sang our favourite lyric from 'Salvation Tambourine': "I could go to Paris, I could jump from the Tyre". A reference, of course, to every Belfastman's favourite pneumatic Parisian monument, the Eiffel Tyre. New song 'Careless Heart' (last night a stripped-down piano ballad, tomorrow night probably a revivalist gospel psalm) promises well for more brilliant material from Wilson in the future.

However, he has already fulfilled all of our great expectations.


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08

Les Vieilles Charrues, one of France’s most celebrated summer festivals, is a four-day music event which takes place from 19 to 22 July in Carhaix in deepest Brittany.

 

However, this year discerning music fans can skip the first day – the headliner on 19 July is geriatric crooner Charles Aznavour and he’s the best of that day’s line-up.

 

The serious rock n’roll business begins on Friday 20 July with sets from Peter Gabriel, Arcade Fire (playing every festival in France, it seems), LCD Soundsystem and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, to name the big international names. French punksters Stuck In The Sound are the pick of the domestic acts on that day.

 

Saturday 21 July features Bryan Ferry, Kaiser Chiefs, Sean Lennon, Herman Dune (promising some blissed-out summer sounds) and the brilliant electro-pop of French singer Emilie Simon, whose cracking single ‘Fleur De Saison’ was one of this column’s picks of 2006.

 

The weekend finishes with Scissor Sisters, Sinead O’Connor, Rickie Lee Jones, Klaxons and headliner Yannick Noah, the former French Open tennis champion who’s now a huge music star with his brand of bland reggae-flavoured feel-good pop. Also on Sunday’s bill is the wonderful Emily Loizeau, a piano-playing cabaret-pop chanteuse who we highly recommend.

 

A three-day pass for Les Vieilles Charrues costs only €69.50 – and camping is free for ticket-holders.

 

In addition, the regional train and bus services in Brittany are offering special cheap transportation to and from the festival - for example, €10 return for a train ticket from any station in Brittany (such as Rennes or Lorient, both of whom have air links to Ireland).

 

It all sounds like great value, put on with a view to as little hassle as possible for the festival-goer.

 

Tickets for Les Vieilles Charrues are available online and in English from French ticket outlet FNAC. For further details on the festival, contact the organisers directly at festivaliers@vieillescharrues.asso.fr

French Festival (1): Garden NEF, Angouleme 


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01

We scoured the internet looking for what France's internationally-famous popstars think of the current presidential election. Not much luck, though - we're none the wiser on how Daft Punk or Sebastien Tellier will be voting. Superstar DJ David Guetta and sweaty old rocker Johnny Hallyday are both supporters of conservative candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, and we're fairly sure that the globetrotting Manu Chao would vote against 'Sarko' and his heavy-handed immigration policy.
Pocket billiards: Air, not so keen on female politicians
However, we eventually found a recent interview that Air gave to Playboy magazine while promoting their latest album "Pocket Symphony". Here's the collected wisdom of Nicolas Godin and JB Dunckel on the possibility of socialist candidate Segolene Royal becoming France's first female president:

Godin: Women are worse than men with power—they feel they must outdo men, like Margaret Thatcher. And despite being a Socialist, Royal is like a conservative as well.

Dunckel: She’s pretty but I don’t like her politics—you get the feeling there are people controlling her behind the scenes. The best politician is a good looking man who is quite clever and sane.


So much for the French Enlightenment. Even the journalist - a writer for the world's leading skin mag, remember - found their views "indicative of a sort of Gallic machismo".

We say: w*nkers.


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30

1 May sees a free open-air concert in Paris in support of Segolene Royal, once a French au-pair in Dublin but nowadays the socialist contender in this Sunday's decisive final round of the French presidential election.Campaign posters for Segolene Royal (posted over those of her rival, Nicolas Sarkozy)

The Stade Charlety in the south of the city is expected to be full for an afternoon- and evening-long series of performances by big names from France's chanson francaise scene, none of whom are famous abroad, though. Cali, Renaud, Benabar and Olivia Ruiz (to name the bigger names taking part) make the sort of bland, lyric-heavy skiffle-pop beloved by the bobos (bourgeois bohemians) of Paris. Only rapper Disiz La Peste, writing mainly about France's continuing social and racial problems, promises any sort of abrasive social commentary or spiky sounds.

Meanwhile, Ireland's general election takes place in three weeks - and it's hard to imagine the big names of the Irish singer-songer community mobilising themselves in a similar way, even though (for instance) US military intervention or Israeli-Palestine tension bring out the Victor Jara in the most modestly-talented of acoustic-bashers.

If Irish musicians insist on being political from time to time (although, like our hero Oscar Wilde, we wish they would stick to art for art's sake), couldn't they emulate their French and American counterparts in voicing their opinions on unglamorous domestic subjects (in Ireland: the health service, political sleaze, Traveller-Settled tension) rather than hopping on the bandwagon of this month's fashionable faraway protest issue?


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24

Oh dear. The Immediate’s appearance at La Flèche d’Or in Paris on 21 April was actually as a tacked-on fifth-on-the-bill opener for a show of four other bands - the Dublin group weren‘t even named on the official posters.Now you see them, now you don't: The Immediate

Even worse, they started much earlier than their advertised time of 9:00 - at 8:15, in fact. As a result, we didn’t see them at all. And, as the bar staff later told us, not many other people got to see them either. Eight to nine is evening-mealtime in France, and walk-up punters would still be at dinner either at home or in the restaurant.

So, be careful all you Irish bands visiting Paris and France: unless you’re at a festival, make sure that you don’t get landed with a dead pre-9pm timeslot!

As an aside, three of the other four bands on the night were great. The Wombats (from Liverpool) play energetic Arctic Monkeys-style pop but with a little bit more melody. Marybell Katastrophy are a catchy and interesting electro-pop band from Denmark with (blush) three ferociously photogenic Danish girls on vocals, guitars and synths. And Norwegian rap-funk-punk outfit Datarock were a blast: like a soundclash of ‘Rock The Casbah’, ‘Girls On Film’ and ‘You’ve Got To Fight For Your Right To Party’. Definitely three European bands worth listening to.

As for our own lads, they should have better luck on 24 April when they play a Dad Records showcase gig at a very impressive venue called Showcase, located under the Pont Alexandre III (the ornate gold-decorated bridge that leads onto the Invalides, Paris-lovers).

 

Did YOU see The Immediate play at the Fleche d'Or on 21 April? If so, contact our dedicated Missing Bands Unit at frenchletter(at)cluas(dot)com. Your blogger regrets that there is no reward for finding missing bands.


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24

Planning your summer holidays? Looking for a music festival in Europe? Thinking of coming to France? How about this for a line-up: Muse, Arcade Fire, !!!, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids, LCD Soundsystem, Art Brut, Lily Allen, Klaxons and others - all playing at the two-day Garden NEF festival at Angouleme in the south-west of France on 20-21 July.

Tickets for the festival are still available at the time of posting. If you only have cupla focail en francais, never fear - French ticketseller FNAC has an English-language online service where you can book your tickets in English. Tickets are €41 per night are €66 for a weekend pass.

Angouleme is in the south-west of France, not far from Bordeaux, Limoges or Poitiers. The TGV stops there, which means it's only 2 hours 20 minutes from Paris by train.

The full line-up is:

20 July: MUSE + LILY ALLEN + !!! (Chk Chk Chk) + COLD WAR KIDS + MUMM RA.

21 July: ARCADE FIRE + CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH + LCD SOUNDSYSTEM + KLAXONS + ART BRUT + ANIMAL COLLECTIVE. 

 

Feel free to contact this blog in the more intimate surroundings of frenchletter(at)cluas(dot)com. Your blogger regrets that he cannot "give Leaving Cert French grinds".

 


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21

The Immediate onstage at La Maroquinerie, 19 April 2007

Dublin indie media darlings The Immediate are currently playing a series of shows in Paris.

This mini-residence in the French capital comes only a couple of weeks after they played here at La Maroquinerie on 29 March as opener for Hey Gravity. Unfortunately for them, at that gig they had to try to win over a sparse and less-than-appreciative audience (at one point having to ask: "Come on people - applause!").

This time around, on 19 April, they were back at La Maroquinerie on the bill of French magazine Les Inrockuptible's regular Indie Club night, along with The Kissinmas (from Clermont-Ferrand in central France), The Pigeon Detectives (from Leeds) and Jamie T (from London).

This time the reaction was more favourable: a full house on the night and calls for an encore. If you fancy testing your French, check out the review on French indie music site Sound Of Violence.

You can also watch them perform 'A Ghost In This House' as filmed by Les Inrockuptibles.

The Immediate's Paris shows continue with a concert at La Flèche d'Or on 21 April and a showcase gig for their French label Dad Records on 24 April.


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13

Tonight on French television there’s a compilation of highlights from Rapido, the Gallic-flavoured music show that ran on BBC and RTE from 1987 to 1992.

 

Daft punk: 'Rapido' presenter Antoine de CaunesIn its day it was probably the best music show on TV, mainly because it managed to interview all the big names of that remarkably fertile period when house, grunge, baggy, electro, shoegazing and rap (to name just a few innovations of the time) transformed modern music. The show also created the template for irreverent, fast-paced and eclectic youth culture programmes – ‘The Word’ on Channel 4 was unmistakably influenced by it.

However, most people probably just remember Rapido’s presenter, Antoine de Caunes (above right), with his exaggerated French accent and smirking delivery (of scripts written by legendary rock journalist and Paris resident Nick Kent). In France de Caunes is actually a respected actor, comedian and film-maker – but in the UK and Ireland he will always be the silly, kitsch-loving perv who presents Eurotrash.

Here, then, are both sides of Rapido – first, a 1990 interview with The Cure, introduced by de Caunes in his almost unintelligible Inspector-Clouseau-on-speed accent:

And a rare artefact for Irish music fans – a Kevin Shields promotional interview! The My Bloody Valentine leader is here talking up ‘Loveless’ in 1991 and explaining how it took all of THREE YEARS to make! Little did we suspect that this was Shields at flat-out working pace. Note (1) Kev’s Dublin accent (thus settling for ever the old MBV-Irish-or-not argument) and (2) his hyperactive mile-a-minute personality, which he clearly brings to MBV productivity:

 
 
Contact this blog in the more intimate surroundings of frenchletter(at)cluas(dot)com. Your blogger regrets that you can't "crash with him in Paris".

 


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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).