Albums

French Music - Released June 13, 2011 | Naive

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
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French Music - Released October 19, 2009 | Naive

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Victoire de la musique - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Hailed as the wunderkind of a new generation of French songwriters, Benjamin Biolay has often divided opinion, as his undeniable talents are not always exempt from narcissism. His sprawling double-album La Superbe will provide both admirers and critics with plenty of ammunition. While many contemporary French artists have unabashedly attempted to present themselves as the natural heir to Serge Gainsbourg, Biolay is arguably the strongest contender to the throne. He is a consummate master of the sultry boy/girl dialogue against an ostinato motif of swirling strings that Gainsbourg patented in the '60s, and that since the '90s has seemingly become the Holy Grail of a hefty chuck of the alternative scene (Pulp, Divine Comedy, Tindersticks, Blur, Portishead, Placebo, Suede, etc.). Nowhere is this more evident in La Superbe than in "Brandt Rhapsodie," where Biolay and Jeanne Cherhal act out an entire French film of the "couple conversation" genre inside of a five-minute pop song, with results that are -- much like those films -- as seductive as they can be infuriating. The same applies for much of this album. Biolay is clearly at the top of his game as a composer and arranger, and indeed La Superbe sounds like the ultimate decalogue of French sensuality, but there is a limit as to how many long-winded, cinematic, spoken monologues on sex, the futility of life, and languid bitterness a record can hold. This ambitious but definitely self-indulgent project plays almost like a suite and can too easily become a sensuous sonic blur, one where it becomes hard to discern individually memorable songs. It should be noted, however, that La Superbe was greeted with rave reviews in France, many judging it to be Biolay's masterpiece. Still, in spite of its impeccable realization, one cannot help but to recommend the perfect pop conciseness of early Biolay albums, such as Rose Kennedy or L'Origine, to the lush abandon and excess of La Superbe. ~ Mariano Prunes

French Music - Released March 26, 2012 | Naive

Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Qobuzissime - Hi-Res Audio
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$18.49

French Music - Released November 7, 2011 | Jive Epic

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
Now in his fifties, former Taxi Girl frontman Daniel Darc shows no signs of mellowing with his sixth solo album, La Taille de Mon Âme, continuing to embrace the intensity and scathing attitude he's become renowned for. Produced by Laurent Marimbert (Christophe, Laurent Garnier), the follow-up to 2008's Amours Supremes includes the Les Enfants du Paradis-sampling title track, the Serge Gainsbourg-esque "My Baby Left Me," and the lead single, "C'est Moi le Printemps." ~ Jon O'Brien

French Music - Released October 31, 2011 | Nodiva Records

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
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French Music - Released September 12, 2011 | PIAS France

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Seemingly rejuvenated by his brand new and much younger backing trio, Breton troubadour Miossec's eighth studio album, Chansons Ordinaires, owes very little to the traditional French song its title suggests. Its lyrics may be inspired by pre-war favorites Berthe Sylva and Maurice Chevallier, but after several albums of Gaellic folk and orchestral pop, the follow-up to 2009's Finisteriens is the most contemporary and alternative record of his 16-year career. "Du Bon Vieux Temps" intersperses its stoner rock riffs borrowed from Queens of the Stone Age's "No-One Knows" with carousel-style interludes before building up to an unsettling, jazz-rock crescendo; "Pour Les Amis" echoes the fervent indie rock of Arcade Fire with its pounding organ chords, driving beats, and garage rock hooks; while "Dramatique" begins with some lo-fi, grungy guitars and twinkling glockenspiels before bursting into life with a grandiose post-rock finale. It's a convincing transition, which makes you wonder why Miossec hasn't pursued such a direction before. His moody tones and cynical outlook on life are still very much in evidence, as shown on the psychedelic, mock-protest song "Protestataire" and the politically charged, avant-garde fuzz-pop of "Pour un Homme Couvert de Femmes." But his melancholic poetic delivery is so much more effective when accompanied by the album's prevalent, reverb-laden Wall of Sound, whether it's the guitar-shredding shoegaze of the My Bloody Valentine-esque "Pleine de Voix," the surging, angular alt rock of "D'un Fait Divers," or the dark "Qui Laisse Des Traces," whose somber, opening piano chords and faint pounding drums eventually give way to an atmospheric outro which sounds like it was recorded during the height of a particularly ferocious storm. The aimless art rock of "D'insomniaque" and the chugging, ghostly blues of "Sympathique" mean the album finishes with a bit of a whimper rather than the bang it deserves, but the consistently strong collection of songs ensures that Chansons Ordinaires is by far the most compelling album Miossec has ever recorded. ~ Jon O'Brien
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French Music - Released March 21, 2011 | Columbia

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks

French Music - Released June 21, 2010 | Naive

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Victoire de la musique - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection Les Inrocks
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French Music - Released May 3, 2010 | L'Autre Distribution

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
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French Music - Released March 22, 2010 | Parlophone France

Distinctions 3F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Sélection Les Inrocks
The English-speaking world may only remember Françoise Hardy as a '60s icon, but in France, she is rightly considered a major artist. The truth is that in the course of a 48-year career, Hardy has released 26 albums, almost invariably excellent. La Pluie Sans Parapluie is her first collection of original material in six years, a period the famously reclusive Hardy spent in putting together a duets album, and writing a very successful autobiography. Compared to 2004's elegiac Tant de Belles Choses, La Pluie Sans Parapluie is a much sunnier album, one that immediately brings to mind the lush yet intimate pop of her early-'70s work, such as Message Personnel and Et Si Je M'en Vais Avant Toi. "Sunnier," however, is an adjective that can only be used in comparison, as Hardy's entire oeuvre is the very definition of nocturnal, embodied in her dreamy hush of a voice against velvety arrangements. In this context, it only means that a few songs, such as the opener "Noir su Blanc" or "Champ d'Honneur," are driven by a typical rhythm track of drums and bass, rather than by piano or strings. Hardy writes the majority of the texts, while longtime collaborator Alain Lubrano and a cohort of France's most stylish tunesmiths such as Calogero, Murat, La Grande Sophie, Arthur H, or Pascale Daniel, as well as Germany's Fouxi and England's Ben Christophers, contribute fitting soundtracks to her catalog of longing, regret, and sensuous abandon. A particularly inspired second half includes gems such as "Le Temps de la Innocence" or "Mister," both worthy of a place among her late-'60s masterpieces Comment Te Dire Adieu or Ma Jeunesse Fout le Camp. As most Françoise Hardy releases go, La Pluie Sans Parapluie could easily double as a handbook in French elegance, it's got timeless class. ~ Mariano Prunes
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A71

French Rock - Released October 19, 2009 | Jive Epic

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Sélection Les Inrocks