le manche

matt has often pointed out to me that being born and raised in dover makes me practically french. i'm not sure about this, but i do like a lot of french music. despite the fact that air and justice have done a lot to restore french cred and that gainsbourg and brel will always be hipster faves, there is a perception that not much has ever came out of the place, which is a little unfair. and the same goes for belgium, while we're at it.

what follows is some of my french faves, or at least ones i could think of and that were on youtube. pourquoi? parce-que.

znr were the duo of hector zazou and joseph racaille. they liked satie, especially the silly bits. they liked short songs. they liked the clarinet, they did two albums, of which my favourite is traire de mecanique populaire, from 1978. the four tracks from it below don't quite sum up their range, but they are quite swoonsome and somehow very french, even though there's not much accordion around. i got into them because they were championed by chris cutler's wonderful recommended records, and i think i was initially kind of baffled by them. joseph racaille's solo stuff is good too. he's ended up as one of france's foremost exponents of the ukelele, but we won't hold that against him.

francoise hardy
i was rather taken aback when i realised just how much ms hardy i'd been listening to, according to last fm. i really like her 70s stuff when she began to take a bit more control over what material she sang and started writing her own. and she's still at it too, with a new album just out. and that stuff's good as well. strangely i hate hearing her sing in english for some reason, but i'd argue that french is one of the best sounding languages to sing in (along with portugese). whatever. you may find this to be unashamedly saccharine and dripping with eurovision stylee MOR awfulness, but i don't. so there.

here's a band who gave birth to their own sub-genre (zeuhl), wrote songs in a fictional alien language (take that, sigur ros) and sounded like a mix of james brown, carl orff, john coltrane and god knows what. christian vander, their leader, is about as french as sun ra was american, if you get my drift. snooker legend steve davis's favourite band, as everyone knows but somehow can't quite believe. even thought they want to. and this rocks.

pierre bensusan
he's very good.


Matt said...
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Matt said...

Yes, and the other great advantage of French music is the low level of personal washing indulged in by the protagonists. No danger of them having an unnecessary shower every time they go into the studio.

Peter said...


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