The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


From 2007 to 2010 CLUAS hosted blogs written by 8 of its writers. Over 900 blog entries were published in that time, all of which you can browse here. Here are links to the 8 individual blogs:


Did we, by any chance, happen to give the impression that the Solidays festival is happening in early July this year? It seems that we did: sorry. The annual Paris summer event is actually on a week earlier than last year – the weekend of 26-28 June. We know this because it says so on the CLUAS Foreign Correspondent (Paris) weekend pass. Yahoo!!

Solidays 2009We’re yahooing because the line-up has some cracking names on it. Sunday night headliner: Manu Chao! Saturday night: Amadou and Mariam! Imagine how cool they’ll sound on a summer evening – and even if it pours rain those two alone are worth the trip.

And if that wasn’t enough, the rest of the bill is studded with little gems. Friday night features Yuksek, Digitalism, Hockey, The Dø and Tony Allen. (That evening’s headliners are local rappers NTM, of little interest to us.) Warming up Saturday night for A&M are The Virgins, Alela Diane, Friendly Fires, Girl Talk, The Ting Tings (a hit at last year's festival too), Late Of The Pier and a host of other domestic acts. (Again, local headliners Keziah Jones and Benabar doesn’t excite us.)

Then, along with the boy Chao on Sunday you’ve got a trio of French Letter favourites: Cocoon, John & Jehn and Syd Matters. Plus, there’s Metronomy and the good-time Balkan folk of Emir Kusturica and the No Smoking Orchestra.

There are still weekend tickets available at the ridiculously decent price of €48. The festival takes place at the Longchamps racecourse, conveniently located at the end of two metro lines and (more importantly) within an hour’s summer stroll of Chateau French Letter.

As we explained before, Solidays began as an AIDS awareness event (‘solidarity’ + ‘holidays’) before growing into a large and respected summer music festival. It still honours its origins: proceeds will go to AIDS charities and on the weekend the site will host information and advice tents. Full details are available on the Solidays website.

Manu Chao! From the 2005 compilation of his old band Mano Negra, here’s the fairly deadly uptempo version of ‘Out Of Time Man’: 

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A couple of months ago I was in Guangzhou, that sprawling capital of concrete and spaghetti junctions and home to the Canton Fair. Like Shenzhen, the other big city in Guangdong province, home to the largest concentration of factories in the world, Guangdong is about commerce and being as successful as Hong Kong, which is technically part of Guangdong (once Canton). More suprised was I to find a flowering of musical talent and record labels (like Starsing). My favourite guangdong sound is dombra (a stringed central Asian guitar-like instrument) playing singer Yerboli, an ethnic Kazakh from China's far west, who's moved about the country's richer cities playing in bars and at Han Chinese banquets. Thanks to That's PRD magazine for drawing my attention with their complimentary article timed with the release of Yerboli's article on Old Heaven Records in Shenzhen. Listen to him on myspace.

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Posted in: Blogs, Beijing Beat
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Since their incorporation in 2005, Casio Kids have become reknowned for their epic live performances combining old analogue and trashy keyboards, pop melodies and shadow puppet theatre.  Musicially, the band claim to draw inspiration from artists as diverse as Paul Simon and New Order.

Having spent the first part of the year supporting Of Montreal on their European tour (on top of Eurosonic and SXSW apperances), Tuesday May 26 sees the Norwegian electro-troupe outfit make their Irish debut in Academy 2.  Tickets are on sale now from the usual outlets for €15 but, thanks to MCD, Key Notes has a double pass to give away.  

To win, all you have to do is email keynotes[at]cluas[dot]com (removing the [at] and [dot] and replacing them with @ and .) with 'Casio Kids' in the subject line.  The competition is open until Friday May 15 when a winner will be drawn at random.  As always, Key Notes decision is final.

Casio Kids: Grønt Lys i Alle Ledd


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Posted in: Blogs, Key Notes
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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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Note to CLUAS regulars:
he following blog post has nothing to do with music. And it may appear at first glance to be completely irrelevant. But it relates to the technology we use to run the site (DotNetNuke) which - it is sad to say - your humble webmaster is quite keen on. Read on at your peril and if you get to the end and go 'Er, so what?' you cannot say you weren't warned.

DotNetNukeRecent email exchanges with other DNN Blog Module team members got me thinking about how popular the DNN Blog module is relative to the other 22 free DNN Modules (or "Projects" as they now seem to be called) available via the DotNetNuke mothership. Measuring "popularity" of a piece of software is an imprecise - if not impossible - science. All the same, I made a stab at it by assuming that number of downloads of a module is an indicator of popularity.

Each of the core DNN modules has a stats page on Codeplex (from where the modules are downloaded) and it shows you the number of downloads for each module over different stretches of time (for example here's the stats page for the blog module). I pulled the number of downloads over the last 3 months for each of the 23 modules and the table below brings all the data together, with the modules listed in order of average downloads per day over the last 3 months.

The most downloaded (or popular) module? That'll be the "Form and List (formerly User Defined Table)" module (with an average of 51.9 downloads per day over the last three months). Biting at its heels in 2nd place is the Blog module with 42.9 downloads per day in the same period. I am not surprised to see the Blog module with such a relatively high number of downloads. But I never thought it would be the Form and List module that would top the table (even if I for one have been very keen to deploy its latest version on in order to replace the - dare I admit it? - FrontPage forms that are still used on the site).

Ranking Module Downloads per day
1 Form and List (formerly User Defined Table) 51.9
2 Blog 42.9
3 Survey 42.2
4 Gallery 38.5
5 Announcements 33.0
6 Events 32.2
7 News Feeds 31.0
8 Documents 28.7
9 Store 28.6
10 Forum 28.5
11 Links 24.9
12 Repository 21.7
13 Map 20.9
14 (joint) Feedback 20.3
14 (joint) Media 20.3
16 Wiki 20.2
17 IFrame 17.5
18 FAQ 17.0
19 Reports 17.0
20 Contacts 17.0
21 Help 13.4
22 Users Online 12.6
23 XML 10.6


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Posted in: Blogs, Promenade
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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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Indonesia’s record industry is in tapes. Everyone in the city of Bandung on Java seems to own or aspire to a guitar. A local music scene leans heavily to soft, poppy rock. Local favourites East Station play something like the Cardigans. Young Indonesians are faultlessly fashionable, hip to the tail-piped jeans and a lot of Indie hair dos. There’s an awful lot of bootleg music product hawked on the streets of every major Indonesian city, CDs in flimsy soft packing sold for EUR0.50. Guitars are cheap – Yamaha manufactures locally, sells its entry level acoustics for about EUR40 at the Gramedia chain store in Jakarta malls. There’s a 50-50 break down between folk and classical guitars – the Bandung bands seem to play both.
Indonesia is a very tolerant muslim nation – the most populous in the world. Bandung’s guitar heroes pedal their tunes under the minaret of Bandung’s main mosque – which at night is almost eclipsed by a giant Dunkin Donuts sign.
The tolerance was explained in a song, translated for me, by a clove-cigarette smoking bandman: “Indonesians go to Saudi Arabia for haji, but the Arabs coming the other way to play around with local women.” Jemaah islamiah seems very far away indeed.
Have a listen to one of my favourite Indonesian bands, Dewa 19, on Myspace.


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Posted in: Blogs, Beijing Beat
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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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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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CLUAS facebook gender statisticsIs there less oestrogen then testosterone 'round these parts? Well, according to the Facebook stats for those who are fans of this site, more men than women dig CLUAS...

Since the CLUAS Facebook page was launched last week 104 people have so far become fans of the site, but only 42% of them are ladies and 58% are men. So much for the site's 21st century, progressive equal opportunities policy.

Maybe a dash of pink is required in the CLUAS logo? Or a super-smart javascript that, er, changes the site layout to nice pastel shades if it suspects the visitor is a member of fairer sex? 

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.