The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

French Letter

24

Their name almost put us off listening to them. However, our source insisted that My Internal Playground were worth checking out. Once again, our source was correct.

My Internal PlaygroundApparently, they're a duo with names that even the Scissor Sisters would find suspicious: Jiim Burger and Kriis Mac 'otta. Yeah, right! But if that's what they name their group, you'd hardly expect them to come up with decent aliases either. We're not even sure they're from Paris. And there's no picture of him/her/it/them - only this bit of artwork (right).

But they make sunny '60s West Coast pop: they're obviously driving under the influence of Brian Wilson. But don't dismiss them as Justa Nudder Beach Boys Band. Those choons are charming and well-written in their own right.

(Our favourite is called 'Phantom And Desert': can these guys not name anything properly? For their children's sake, let's call a social worker right away.)

Check out a handful of those summery songs on My Internal Playground's MySpace page. No video, though.

 


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22

As you'd expect, the new U2 single is all over French radio. (Are we the only ones to find it similar to 'Diamond Hoo Ha Man' by Supergrass?) Even non-Anglophone French DJs find 'Get On Your Boots' and 'No Line On The Horizon' to be terrible titles.

The other big single on French rock radio these days is from a home-grown contemporary of U2. 'Little Dolls' is the first track off the forthcoming new album by Indochine.

On the go since the early '80s, Indochine (pronounced "Andosheen") remain enormously popular and respected in France - rare for a French guitar band. They tend to plough a similar furrow to The Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo & The Bunnymen - that sort of dark, epic alt-rock. We don't find them up to the same quality as those three mighty groups, but that's just us: their upcoming dates in Europe are selling out quickly.

IndochineThat tour reaches its climax in summer 2010 with a show in the Stade de France, further proof of their enduring popularity. To publicise their concerts, the band have been appearing on posters (right) where singer Nicola (born Nicolas) Sirkis and the bravest of his bandmates are in the nip, modesty preserved by some well-placed type. Giant posters of nudie middle-aged men plastered on billboards and the walls of metro stations: if that doesn't shift tickets then nothing will.

Though Indochine's back catalogue is agreeable yet unspectacular, 'Little Dolls' is quite good. Similar to Muse's 'Starlight', it hangs off a pounding piano riff and swells to an epic chorus. You mightn't pay hard-earned recession euros for it, but it's catchy coming out of your radio. And it's better than the new U2 song.

From a recent French music awards show (the one where Katy Perry was accidentally presented an award meant for Rihanna), here's 'Little Dolls' by Indochine:


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20

Ireland doesn’t feature very often on the news here in France. When it does, it’s generally for the bad things. Your average Jacques le Frenchman knows three things about Ireland 2008-09:

 - We’re bankrupt

 - We Said No To Europe

 - Our rashers are poisoned

The Mighty StefTo counteract all that bad PR, it would take someone superhuman. But we’ll settle for mighty.

And so The Mighty Stef (right) is the first Irish act to visit France in 2009. The cult Dublin singer-songer is playing in Paris tonight (21 January).

The show at a venue called L'Alimentation Générale, which is how a Frenchperson would describe the stock of a local grocery. We haven't been there yet, so we can't enlighten you as to whether they also sell breakfast rolls and milk and the like. (No Irish rashers, that's for certain.)

Stef was in Paris not so long ago, playing on a converted Irish lightship called the Batofar that's docked Seine-side. The Batofar has recently been the scene of repeated public order disturbances and police visits. No connection implied between those two sentences, of course.

Anyway, more Stef info and tunes on his MySpace page. Here's the video for 'Death Threats':

 


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17

Our first French pop discovery of 2009, and if the rest of the year is as good as this then it'll be a vintage year here Seine-side.

Field of dreaminess: AndromakersThose two girls in the photo on the right? That's Nadège and Lucille, and their nom de rock is Andromakers. We believe they're originally from Aix-en-Provence but now based in Paris.

What are they doing under the tree in that field? They're making lovely electro-pop that the marketing guys will surely sell as "if you liked Au Revoir Simone, you'll love Andromakers!"

Anyway, we're smitten by what we've heard so far of them. Best of all is a track called 'Electricity', which we reckon will smite you just as much.

No news yet of any albums or EPs or other product, but you can listen to a few tracks at Andromakers' MySpace page. Sorry, but there's no video of them for the moment, so this post just ends here. Au revoir!


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14

The first big international music event of 2009 comes up this weekend - the 14th annual Eurosonic festival in the Dutch city of Groningen. The pan-continental showcase of around 180 up-and-coming acts (brought to you by the European Broadcasting Union, makers of Eurovision) takes place on 15-16 January. Dutch bands get their own extra day in the spotlight with the Noorderslag festival on 17 January.

Eurosonic 2009Last year’s edition launched Lykke Li (yay!) and The Hoosiers (nay!), and Eurosonic alumni include Franz Ferdinand, I’m From Barcelona and The Magic Numbers. Who’ll be the stars of Eurosonic 2009? (That’s not a rhetorical question; we really haven’t a clue.)

At the time of writing, four Irish acts have been confirmed to appear. Waterford’s Declan de Barra and Wexford lady Wallis Bird will be representing the south-eastern singer-songer scene. Fight Like Apes and The Coronas complete the Irish contingent, appearing at Eurosonic at the behest of 2FM.

France, for those of you here for the Frenchness, is sending eleven acts to the Lowlands. As you’d expect, the Gallic delegation is heavy on electronica. Our Dublin readers will be familiar with Birdy Nam Nam, the turntable team who played an eventful set at the ALT recently. Lesser-known to you may be the dancefloor-friendly Yuksek, the more experimental sounds of Jackson And His Computer Band, electro-trad chanteuse Hindi Zahra and the cinematic dATA.

Away from the repetitive beats, French Letter favourites John & Jehn will be there, along with recent Prix Constantin nominees Moriarty and the Haitian jazz-roots sound of singer-songer Mélissa Laveaux.

Also at Eurosonic will be Hollywood Mon Amour, the new project from Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin. Where NV covered (post-)punk and new wave classics, Hollywood Mon Amour now brings the same chillout converter to ‘80s film songs like ‘A View To A Kill’ and ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. If nothing else comes of Eurosonic 2009, we'll at least get to hear a downbeat acoustic version of 'Eye Of The Tiger'.

The French travelling party is completed by mid-table guitar bands Neimo and Naïve New Beaters.

There are some fine bands from featured country Belgium, notably Novastar, Girls In Hawaii and dEUS offshoot Zita Swoon. Best known of all the bands at Eurosonic 2009 is probably The Rakes – a good reason to check out unknown bands instead. You’ll find the full line-up of acts on the Eurosonic website.

Back to the French acts at Eurosonic; Neimo are currently gaining massive airplay in France with this song, ‘Johnny Five’:


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28
Marion Cotillard with her Oscar for Best ActressMon dieu, is it the end of the year already? Well, before we step into 2009, there remains one piece of outstanding business – we need to reveal our choice of the best French albums and songs of deux mille huit.
 
(But first: have you checked out the 2008 CLUAS readers’ poll and writers’ poll results?)
 
We’ve found loads of great French music during the last twelve months; we hope you’ve enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed and commented during the year - all your feedback, tips and suggestions have been greatly appreciated.
 
So, it’s time to start opening golden envelopes and handing out mantelpiece ornaments. Who’ll join the lovely Marion Cotillard (right) in winning a prestigious honour for France?
 
Albums: No instant classics this year (2006 is looking more than ever like French pop’s annus mirabilis) but plenty of fine long-players all the same. (Links are to the act’s MySpace page.)
 
'Don Lee Doo' by Kim1. Kim ‘Don Lee Doo’
Kim Stanislas Giani clearly adores ‘80s pop mavericks like Prince and Kate Bush, which can only be A Good Thing. His 17th album in 14 years (and he’s only 31) is infused with the spirit of ‘1999’ and ‘Hounds Of Love’ - eccentric but enthralling electro-pop. He also makes his own videos, and every track seems to have its own website or MySpace page. Let’s hope he doesn’t start taking it easy in 2009.
 
 
2. Barth ‘Cuchillo’
Another idiosyncratic Frenchman who’s chopped his name; John Lennon soundalike Barthelemy Corbelet here tempers his Beatles-y indie-jangle sound with a distinct Americana alt-country shuffle and a dash of Ennio Morricone. There’s some reggae thrown in too. As with Kim, half the pleasure of this album is wondering where it’ll turn next.
 
3. John & Jehn ‘John & Jehn’
A likeable mix of ramshackle acoustica and streetwise art-pop from a French couple living in London. Odd packaging: a double album format with a ‘John’ disc and a ‘Jehn’ disc – the only problem is that our copy had the tracks mixed up. Or was this deliberate? You’ll figure it out.
 
4. Underground Railroad ‘Sticks And Stones’
And here’s another French band exiled in London. This young trio were championed by the NME for their angular Sonic Youth-influenced alt-rock – slightly squally and occasionally abstract, but with several cracking singles.
 
5. M83 ‘Saturdays = Youth’
It’s fine stuff, although a whole album of misty synths and oblique mumbling isn’t for everyone. But Anthony Gonzalez (note to self: two ‘z’s) and friends won’t be going home empty-handed – see our ‘Songs’ list below.
 
6. Syd Matters ‘Ghost Days’
Jonathan Morali’s hushed singing style and quiet acoustic arrangements concealed some smart, witty songwriting that plays with the stereotype of self-pitying singer-songers. A record that rewards attentive listening.
 
7. Papier Tigre ‘The Beginning And End Of Now’
A throwback to the early-‘90s U.S. alt-rock sound of The Jesus Lizard and Rage Against The Machine, the debut record by this Nantes band was full of well-written songs delivered with focused energy. Visitors to Eire in 2008, they could do well in a festival slot next summer.
 
8. The Dø ‘A Mouthful’
Charming indie-pop with enough oddness and eccentricity to keep it fresh and interesting. That said, Olivia B. Merilahti’s voice has a certain nails-down-the-blackboard quality, so approach with caution. Imagine how fantastic this album would have been if she could sing!
 
9. Minitel Rose ‘The French Machine’
From Jean-Michel Jarre up to Air, no one does retro-futuristic electronica like the French. Here’s more of it – ‘80s nostalgia infused with 21st century attitude.
 
10. Tahiti 80 ‘Activity Center’
Pleasant, uncomplicated guitar-pop with a sweet, sincere white-boy-soul centre. They’re Big In Japan, we believe.
 
(We also liked: Herman Dune ‘Next Year In Zion’, Apple Jelly ‘Nanana Club’, Mareva Galanter ‘Happy Fiu’, Cocosuma ‘We’ll Drive Home Backwards’, Poney Express ‘Daisy Street’, Stanley Brinks 'Dank U')
 
NOT Album of the Year: Camille ‘Music Hole’
Wow. This one was a real stinker. Graceless egotism, hypocritical sneering at other singers, flimsy songs shored up by excessive vocal effects – a future university course on Disastrous Follow-Up Records would be sure to feature this terrible successor to our 2005 Best French Album. Quite simply, a huge disappointment.
 
Roll of honour ~ Albums
2008: Kim ‘Don Lee Doo’
2007: Dionysos ‘La Mécanique Du Coeur’
2006: Emily Loizeau ‘L’Autre Bout Du Monde’
2005: Camille ‘Le Fil’
 
Songs: Plenty of fine French tracks in 2008. However, unlike the album list, one song stood out as a clear winner, ever since we turned on the radio late one night last April and heard something magical pouring out… (Links are to the video for each track, all working and correct at time of writing.)
 
Dreamy synth-shoegazing, like a cross between My Bloody Valentine and Air. Much-abused music-review clichés like ‘ethereal’ and ‘atmospheric’ suddenly became fresh and essential for describing this song’s chorus, a swirl of keyboards as Anthony Gonzalez sings “Somebody lurks in the shadows/Somebody whispers”. Gorgeous stuff.
 
2. John & Jehn ‘20L07’
A couple singing about how they love each other. No, wait! It’s actually quite funny and charming and catchy! And they explain the chorus so that it all makes perfect sense. 
 
3. Underground Railroad ‘25’ 
Hints of The Cure spice up this twisting, beguiling slice of college alt-rock, featuring guitarist Marion on vocals.
 
Like a midfield genius dragging an ordinary team to victory, sometimes a great chorus is enough to make a memorable song. So it is with this cartoon-punk thrasher, when singer Geraldine answers her own question in a glorious pop technicolour hook. (Note: not Californian band The Dodos)
 
5. Martin Solveig ‘C’est La Vie’
Fancy that! Old chipmunk-face makes a single that’s not only non-irritating but actually a cracking bit of Jacko/Justin dancefloor pop. The album of the same name proved to be a dozen dodgy photocopies of this song, but that’s understandable.
 
6. Poney Express ‘Paris De Loin’
The sound of escaping into the deep heart of the French countryside, cycling through sleepy villages and picnicking on bread, wine, cheese and ham. All that, conjured up by breathy vocals, a pulsing bassline, skiffly drumming and strumming strings.
 
7. Sheryfa Luna ‘Il Avait Les Mots’
For all its popularity and chart success, French R n’B-flavoured pop produced little of enduring quality this year. The exception is this classy single that fused US soulfulness with cold French keyboards. The video is interesting: the plot development at 3 mins 50 secs was the singer’s actual condition at the time of filming.
 
8. Apple Jelly ‘Radio’
It’s the disco-pop cracker from the Alpine foothills that’ll have you going “You know, maybe I should pick up a Boney M compilation sometime!” Such is the terrifying power of this catchy floorfiller. (But get a Chic record instead.)
 
9. Tahiti 80 ‘All Around’
Simple, catchy indie-pop, so radio-friendly that if you hold it up close to your ear you can hear the traffic news.
 
10. Benjamin Diamond ‘This Is It’
Some slick, romantic nightclub-pop by a former UK chart-topper. We figure that this is what Sebastien Tellier was aiming for with his poor ‘Sexuality’ album. (No video, so you'll have to visit Mr Diamond's MySpace page.)
 
(We also liked: Kim ‘Radio Grady’, Emily Loizeau ‘Sister’, Quidam ‘Nos Souvenirs’, Melissa M ‘Cette Fois’, St Augustine ‘Icelandic’, Maya Barsony ‘La Pompe A Diesel', Herman Dune ‘Try To Think About Me’, Syd Matters ‘Everything Else’, Barth ‘Magic Wondermeal’, The Rodeo ‘I’m Rude’, The Dø ‘On My Shoulders’)
 
NOT Song of the Year: Noir Désir ‘Gagnants/Perdants’
You’re a famous rock star who wins early release from prison, having served only half of a controversially short sentence. A year later you bring out your comeback single. Surely you wouldn’t be so insensitive, stupid and out-of-touch as to sing a song that (without ANY hint of irony) criticises the privileged of society while identifying yourself (rich rock star released early from prison, remember) with the poor and oppressed! And apart from the moral hypocrisy of the act, it’s a turgid whine of a ballad. (There’s already a discussion thread here, should you have strong feelings on the matter.)
 
Roll of honour ~ Songs
2008: M83 ‘Kim & Jessie’
2007: Pravda ‘Body Addict’
2006: Vanessa and the O’s ‘Bagatelle’
2005: Camille ‘Ta Douleur’
 
So that’s the year in French music. Here’s our Best French Song of 2008, ‘Kim & Jessie’ by M83 – see you in deux mille neuf
 

 


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27
So, you’ve seen the results of the annual CLUAS polls. You, our suave and brainy readers, gave Elbow their second major prize of the year by choosing Mercury-winner ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ as your top album. We, the aloof and mysterious CLUAS writing caste, had the audacity to reverse your top two: silver for Elbow and gold to Bon Iver for the lovely ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’.
 
If you feel the need to talk about it (for instance, if you = Glasvegas fan), everyone’s waiting for you on this thread over at the CLUAS discussion board.
 
All that remains now is for this blog, the Latin Quarter of CLUAS, to dish out the goodies in our annual Best French Music list. First, though, it may be interesting to see how France’s music publications saw 2008. The French make lists too: let’s compare two of the most prominent to CLUAS’s.
 
Les InrocksLes Inrockuptibles is France’s top music and culture magazine. In their Top 50 Albums of 2008, first place went to MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’. (You may recall that a mere underground train ride away in London, the NME also picked MGMT as their album of the year.) And the rest of the top five: Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, Santogold and (yikes!) The Last Shadow Puppets.
 
We note that Nicole Atkins’ marvellous 2007 album ‘Neptune City’, released only this year in Europe, made the lower reaches of the Les Inrocks list. Has anyone in Eire heard of this wonderful record?
 
Only nine of Les Inrocks’ Top 50 are French albums. (By comparison, with nine Irish records out of 40 the CLUAS readers' poll has a much healthier domestic representation.) At number nine is the highest home finisher, Sebastien Tellier’s ‘80s-synthpop mess, ‘Sexuality’. Camille’s horrendous ‘Music Hole’ finished 12th. One of the nine French albums is Justice’s live album, ‘A Cross The Universe’, which hardly counts as an album for the pruposes of polls. And no place at all for M83’s “Saturdays = Youth”, which finished 18th in the CLUAS readers’ poll.
 
An Irishman writing in English about French music: bizarre. By contrast, it’s not so strange to discover Sound Of Violence, the excellent French music webzine dedicated solely to UK and Irish alternative music.
 
Sound Of Violence has also published its Writers’ Top Ten of 2008. Only British albums, remember, so no MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Santogold, Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes. Of Her Majesty’s pop stars, CLUAS and Mercury laureates Elbow didn’t make the cut – nor did Glasvegas. (No Irish albums in there either.)
 
Foals, then, win SOV’s prize, ahead of The Kills, Portishead and (eek!) Noah And The Whale. Other big names in the top ten are Oasis and Bloc Party.
 
Even if you don’t speak French, it’s still interesting to have a look at the Les Inrocks and Sound Of Violence end-of-year lists. If anything, you’ll see that Paris pop tastes closely follow the London trends.

Here’s a British song about moving to the French capital, from an album that wasn’t in the SOV, Les Inrocks or CLUAS polls - from the self-titled debut by Friendly Fires, this is 'Paris':


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26
So did you get over the Christmas okay? And did Mr Making-A-List-Checking-It-Twice bring you what you wanted?
 
'French Connections' by Martin JamesThis Christmas time, someone correctly figured out that the CLUAS Paris correspondent is quite ignorant about much of the music going on in his beat. Yes, we received a book about French electronica.
 
‘French Connections: From Discothèque To Discovery’ is the uninspired title of the work in question (right), written by Martin James. Published in 2003, it’s a history of French electronic music. We’ve just started reading it and no doubt we’ll be dipping into it on these pages during the coming months, if not years.
 
Two wonderful facts from James’ book: (1) The Village People were assembled by two Frenchmen, Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali, and the group’s original Indian chief was another Frenchie, Felipe Rose. (2) ‘D.I.S.C.O.’ by Ottowan (you know the song) was written by the father of Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk. No wonder he never shows his face in public.
 
However, we have a major gripe: after just one chapter we lost count of the factual inaccuracies, bad style and spelling mistakes that shake the book’s credibility. From the very first paragraph: “Even enfant terrible of the film world Quentin Tarantino grabbed his 15 seconds of disco delight with the 1998 movie Boogie Nights.” Lazy, bloated writing; no internal punctuation; misused metaphors – and Boogie Nights was made by Paul Thomas Anderson, not Tarantino.
 
Furthermore, we learn that Britain’s first disco opened “in 1862” – truly ahead of its time, as Thomas Edison only invented the phonograph 15 years later. And a few pages later, in a book purporting to be a history of modern French music, the name of France’s biggest rock star is misspelled as ‘Jonny Halliday’. It’d be a brave writer who’d submit shoddy copy like that to the CLUAS gaffer.
 
Still, we’re sufficiently intrigued by James’ opening pitch; France invented disco. The word ‘discothèque’ is French, and the first discos – the first nightspots for dancing to recorded music and not a live act – opened in Paris as underground music clubs during the Nazi occupation. The modern disco, with its garish décor, restricted access and air of exotica, also originated in Paris with clubs like Whiskey-A-Go-Go and Chez Regine. (The latter, near the Champs-Elysées, is still open.)
 
As for claiming the disco sound for France, this book is not so convincing. It’s hard to pinpoint one record where Motown pop, funk basslines and Philly soul strings came together for the first time, although Van McCoy’s ‘Do The Hustle’ is generally credited with popularising what we now know as disco.
 
A night on the tiles: CerroneBut a Frenchman can claim to have invented disco’s distinctive four-on-the-floor beat. His name is Jean-Marc Cerrone, a Parisian drummer known just by his surname. On his 1976 album ‘Love In C Minor’, Cerrone (left) put his bass drum right to the front of the mix, kicking out a simple four/four beat. Et voilà: the classic disco rhythm track that anyone can dance to.
 
Apart from percussion, the rest of ‘Love In C Minor’ is what we would today consider cheesy disco: string swoops, synth riffs – and plenty of orgasmic female groaning. Cerrone was notorious for the machismo of his music and album art, with sleeves that feature him as a Casanova-type figure attended to by naked ladies who also appear in his videos. (This is the classic French sexism that persists in the Parisian visual media even today: naked women in ads and magazines are not there for softcore exploitation. Oh no – they’re au naturel.)
 
So, despite selling millions of records Cerrone has dated badly, both sonically and visually. His work sounds kitsch beside that of Giorgio Moroder or Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards. But he still has his fans: Goldfrapp named a song for him on her 2008 album ‘Seventh Tree’ and called her 2005 album 'Supernature' after Cerrone's 1978 million-selling album of the same name. And Bob Sinclar is the self-appointed heir of Cerrone, remixing the older man’s work and keeping it on the chic dancefloors of Paris and the Riviera.

Here’s Cerrone’s biggest hit – the title track from ‘Supernature’. You’ll see what we mean about the cheesy ‘70s sexism:


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21

If Christmas comes, can the end of the year be far behind? Well, no - it'll be a week later, like it always is. And if there's one thing that music lovers associate with the end of the year, it's spending New Year's Eve at the same old local with the same old people and pretending you're having a gas time. Sorry, two things: that and... end-of-year polls! Yes we can!

The results of the CLUAS annual poll will be announced very shortly. Warning: the CLUAS electoral commissioner, fresh back from the ballot boxes of Zimbabwe, has ruthlessly stamped out all messing and multiple voting and what have you. He may have been distracted somewhat when he found Miss Zimbabwe waiting in his hotel room dressed only in 'Vote Mugabe' stickers, but he won't be fooled again.

Our own humble blog (as humble as a Kerryman living in Paris can ever hope to be) will also be having its annual Best French Music poll. Sometime after Christmas, in the last week of the year, we'll list our choice of the ten best French songs and albums of 2008.

Thanks to everyone who has mailed and commented so far to tell us what they liked and hated and went 'meh' to. Have a browse through our 2008 posts and feel free to mail us at the address on the right or leave a comment at any of our old posts.

Benjamin Diamond(We note that 'Saturdays = Youth' by M83, as well as being a front runner in our Ligue 1 domestic poll, is also in the Champions League international CLUAS poll. What are the chances of Anthony Gonzales doing the double?)

Here's a recent French single we like very much - 'This Is It' by Benjamin Diamond (left). Unbeknownst to you (or perhaps beknownst, if you're a pop trivia fiend), you've already been dancing to the sound of Diamond, real name Benjamin Cohen. He was the vocalist on 'Music Sounds Better With You' by Stardust, the UK-chart-topping collaboration with Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk.

Diamond has just released 'Cruise Control', an album of slightly cheesy electro-ballads. Imagine David Guetta trying to seduce you; that's the general vibe. That said, 'This Is It' is a quality bit of slow-set pop.

There's no video for 'This Is It' yet, so you'll have to visit Benjamin Diamond's MySpace page to hear it. So that gives us a chance to revisit one of the rare French tunes to be a hit in the UK charts - the rather tasty 'Music Sounds Better With You' by Stardust:



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20

Over the three years of this column-turned-blog, we've raved repeatedly about the wonderful Emily Loizeau, exhausted every superlative in singing her praises. We're about to do so again.

The best a man can get: Emily Loizeau and her beardy friend.If you've just joined us: mademoiselle Loizeau's gorgeous debut record, 'A L'Autre Bout Du Monde', was our pick as best French album of 2006. By turns achingly melancholic and blissfully optimistic, the album blended pop, folk and cabaret in much the same way as Duke Special, with whom she has recorded and performed live.

Now, appropriately in this season of angels announcing births of messiahs and so forth, we hear that Emily Loizeau's second album, 'Pays Sauvage', will be released on 2 February. So, already one reason to look forward to 2009. The album has been recorded with a plethora of French folk-popsters, including David Herman Dune (formerly of the family group that still bears his name), Olivia Ruiz and Moriarty.

The first single, 'Sister', is available for download from online French music-pushers like iTunes, FNAC and Virgin. Unlike the piano-led pop of her first record, this track is an acoustic folk-pop shuffle, complete with whistling and a brass section. And Loizeau croons breezily over it all, forgoing the cabaret dramatics of her earlier songs for something more laidback. All in all, it's rather charming and a good sign for the forthcoming album.

Being Anglo-French, Loizeau is bilingual and has recorded version of 'Sister' in English and en français. You can hear both on her MySpace page.

And check out the poster (above right) for her Paris shows next spring (ah, springtime in Paris!) that features a bearded lady. Brilliant. We heart Emily Loizeau. (She's the one without the beard.)

Here's a brief snippet from the studio, man, of the English version of 'Sister':


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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.