Welcome to my French pop and rock section... Here are a few recommendations to albums I've enjoyed that I think you might like as well, ranging from 1960s ye-ye to a few more contemporary albums from France's blossoming indie and electronica scenes. There is also a separate section for older musical styles, such as chanson and musette, if you like the old stuff, too!
Daphne "L'Emeraude" (V2, 2006)
Daphne "Carmin" (V2, 2007)
Da Silva "Decembre En Ete" (Tot Ou Tard, 2005)
Da Silva "De Beaux Jours A Venir" (Tot Ou Tard, 2007)
Sammy Decoster "Tucumcari" (Virgin-France, 2008)
Gabriel Delar/Teddy Raye "Twistin' The Rock" (Universal-Mercury, 2002)
Albin De La Simone "Albin De La Simone" (Virgin-France, 2003)
(Produced by Albin De La Simone & Renaud Letang)
Fun stuff! I came to producer/auteur Albin De La Simone's work in a kind of backwards fashion, discovering him through his work with other artists (Bastien Lallement, et. al.) and listening to later records before checking out this groovy debut disc. I like his clean, well-layered indiepop/power-pop sound, particularly on giddy, upbeat tracks like "Tu Es Lo" and "Du Bon Cote," with its undercurrent of Latin-dance boogaloo... These are balanced by slower, moody windswept synth tunes that don't do as much for me as they used to, but it's all very classy, and definitely the style of French indie that I adore. If you enjoy Benjamin Biolay, Mathieu Boogaerts, Coralie Clement, Vincent Delerm and folks like that, you'll want to check this out, too. Guest performers include Matthieu Cheddid (aka "-M-"), Canadian indie star Feist, and French synth-elder Alain Souchon, whose duet on "Patricia" is an album highlight... Highly recommended!
Albin De La Simone "Je Vais Changer" (Virgin-France, 2005)
Another great set of straightforward, fun, melodically-oriented indiepop, with more emphasis on conventional, guitar-oriented rock-pop than you often find of modern French indie albums. Another record that I enjoyed a lot... Elfish indie artiste Jeanne Cherhal guests on "Ces Mots Stupides..." Recommended!
Albin De La Simone "Bungalow!" (Virgin-France, 2008)
The MP3 download version includes a bonus-tracks live/acoustic version of the entire album!
Vincent Delerm "Vincent Delerm" (Tot Ou Tard, 2003)
The premiere album by this intelligent, deliberate neo-chanson singer... The son of French novelist Philippe Delerm, Vincent is suave, cool, laconic... This crisp, stripped-down set features Delerm alone with his piano, and sounds unlike his later, lusher albums, and is more overtly anchored in the classic chanson tradition. It's classy, though not as compelling and catchy as his later records.
Vincent Delerm "Un Soir De Boulevard Voltaire" (DVD) (Tot Ou Tard, 2003)
Vincent Delerm "Kensington Square" (Tot Ou Tard, 2004)
A lovely, relaxed set with of chamber music-indiepop. Delerm's sparse piano buoyed by bouncy string arrangements... The songs are laconic and open-ended, lazy rambles, easy on the ears and quite delightful, although he may overplay the orchestral card a bit. There are some catchy tunes on here; the duets with Irene Jacob are particularly nice. If you're looking for some of the best modern hipsteriffic neo-chanson, then check this one out. Recommended!
Vincent Delerm "Les Piqures d'Araignee" (Tot Ou Tard, 2006)
What a great record. This was the first Vincent Delerm album I heard, and is still my favorite. It's also the record that introduced me to the Tot Ou Tard label, for which I will be eternally thankful. A delicious mix of pretty-sounding indiepop and brainy neo-chanson, with delightfully deadpan, sexy vocals -- this is one of the finest records I've heard in years, an album that keeps shedding new layers of meaning and emotion every time it plays. Song after song spins forth, evocative, playful, moody, serene... Highlights include the bouncy opener, "Sous Les Avalanches," (with its whistled instrumental chorus) the languid, irresistible "A Naples Il Y A Peu D'endroits Pour S'Asseoir", "Marine" (with co-vocals from the album's producer, Peter Von Poehl, whose own albums I also greatly enjoy...) and "Favourite Song," a hilariously bilingual duet (with Neil Hannon) that's about loving foreign pop songs even when you don't understand the lyrics. Indeed, this whole album is a winner... Highly recommended!
Vincent Delerm "Favourite Songs" (Tot O Tard, 2007)
(Produced by Bernard Desage & Vincent Delerm)
Delerm's status at the vanguard of the current French pop renaissance is driven home by this marvelous concert album, which features cameos and duets with several of the decade's most vital young musicians -- Benabar, Cali, Jeanne Cherhal, Philipe Katerine, Benjamin Biolay, Mathieu Boogaerts -- as well as several elder statesmen of French pop-rock, such as Alain Chamfort, Yves Simon, George Moustaki and Alain Souchon. There are also the obligatory singing French actresses, with Irene Jacob and Valerie Lemercier contributing gorgeous, winsome vocals, while Delerm's close collaborator Peter Von Poehl sings on the dreamy "Marine," and Ireland's Neil Hannon (of the band The Divine Comedy) sings a hilarious duet on the bilingual title track, "Favourite Song." Indeed, this is a collection of favorite songs, not just those of the erudite Delerm, but also of his audience, and his fellow performers. The warm that emanates from every track is rich and enveloping: you can't help but love this album. I also recommend his studio albums, but this concert album is a winner. I thought it was indispensable... until I got the longer A La Cigale set, below, which has all this music and much, much more.
Vincent Delerm "A La Cigale" (CD & DVD) (Tot Ou Tard, 2007)
Awesome. A four-disc set -- two CDs, two DVDs -- documenting Delerm in concert at the fabled Cigale theatre. This includes all of the material on the Favourite Songs album, listed above, as well as a bunch of immensely charming video material, which is every bit as wonderful as you'd imagine... and more! Seeing Delerm interacting with his contemporaries (and many of his idols) is simply delicious and delightful, and he himself is sooooo very cool and charismatic. One disc features a concert of collaborations with other artists, the second is just Delerm and his band (with some wacky video projections as well...) This is one of the best concert shows I've seen... wish I'd been there!
Vincent Delerm "Quinze Chansons" (Warner/Tot Ou Tard, 2008)
While it's well-crafted and a solid set, I couldn't quite get into it the same way as with the previous albums... Some of the sexiness and subtle texture seems gone, replaced by self-consciousness and tighter, more rigid pop production, as well as a musichall vibe that's a bit intrusive. It just doesn't have the same slinky, intimate feel... It's a good record, though: I softened towards it after listening a few times, and would certainly recommend it to fans of his earlier work... You'll just have to try it for yourself.
Julie Delpy "Julie Delpy" (Disques Du Crepuscule, 2003)
I heard a few tracks from this album in the film, Before Sunset and I knew I had to track a copy down... Actress Julie Delpy croons to her own compositions, with just a hint of Claudine Longet and Phoebe Bouffe in there around the margins... Online opinions about this album seem split between folks who love it, and those who loathe it, with French listeners, interestingly enough, leading the charge against the album. Grudingly, I have to admit this really isn't all that good. The acoustic opening tracks, "My Dear Friend" and "Mr. Unhappy," are a nice slice of naifish, English-language twee, but as the guitars get grungier and the songs more convoluted, the album becomes a bit of a grind. Delpy has a voice as delicate as her irony-laden sense of humor, and each needs the proper setting to work its magic... Unfortunately, this disc doesn't always deliver, and on many of the tracks, she leaves herself dangling in the wind, willing to dive into the deep end and take a chance, but bellyflopping more often than not. There's a nice version of "Waltz For A Night," the song she sings at the end of Before Sunset, and though this electro-ed version isn't as moving as the film's acoustic version, it's still a highpoint in the album, and a welcome respite from the more grinding, tortured moments on other songs. Delpy's fans will want to check this album out; some will love it, others will not. I found it pretty disappointing.
Claire Denamur "Claire Denamur" (EMI/Source Etc., 2009)
(Produced by Julien Delfaud & Thomas Semence)
A groovy, slightly unusual French indie-pop album, with subtle American folk and country motifs, including a bit of pedal steel, that set it apart from most French indie albums. Denamur has a lovely voice and a strong sense of melody... A few tracks feature a dixieland/cabaret/show tunes style that goes a little overboard (I wound up de-selecting those tracks) She also wrote or co-wrote all of the material on this album, along with arranger Pierre-Dominique Burgaud. (Also worth waiting for is the hidden track at the end of the album -- a "morceau cache," or "hidden bit" in French -- a lovely song that, in a throwback to the early 1990's indie scene, includes three minutes of silence before the music begins... Not convenient for iPods, but okay on a lazy day at home...) A strong debut, and very easy on the ears... Apparently she has a second album out, which I'm going to try and track down as well.
Claire Denamur "Vagabonde" (EMI-France, 2011)
Pursuing a more expansive (but no less alluring) sound, on the opening tracks Denamur lets the rootsy/country guitars resonate and get a little spooky, ala Chris Isaak, then adds a handclappy backbeat on the power-pop rock anthem "Bang Bang Bang." There's still a strong folk-chanson acoustic vibe as well, as on the whispery "Rien A Me Foutre En L'air," a duet with Emmanuel Da Silva, and on balance this record is as subtle and restrained as her first album. Lovely music - highly recommended!
Deportivo "Parmi Eux" (Universal-France, 2005)
Impassioned, punky alt-rock. A Gallic, Green Day-ish throwback to '77-style punk, with kooky diversions into acoustic stringband cabaret tunes. Mostly, though, it's the clang-clang-clang of treble-heavy electric guitars alongside vigorous, shouted vox. A little slick, but not bad.
Deportivo "Deportivo" (Barclay, 2007)
Still rockin' out, but this time with a broader rock palette, more power-poppy and with more textured production. If you took them super-seriously as a "punk band" then you might see this as a sell-out, but if you're looking for more stylistic variety, this disc might have more to offer than their first. The dips into English-language lyrics don't add much, though: I like it much better when they sing in French.
Des Airs "Lunga Notte" (Crammed Disc, 1982)
This arty Belgian no-wave band had a lot in common with early '80s contemporaries such as Kleenex, the Au Pairs and James White. They play loose-ended, soul-derived avant-y pop skronks, and make fun of French accents. It's not exactly my cup of tea, but might make be an interesting missing link for any hardcore franco-popophiles out there, so I'll pass the info on...
Marianne Dissard "L'Entredeux" (Le Pop Musik, 2008)
(Produced by Joey Burns)
Marianne Dissard is a French expatriate living in the American Southwest, a Tucson-based musician and filmmaker who is friends with the band Calexico, and who made a documentary about them that I'm now kinda curious to see. Her relationship to the band extends beyond the editing room, and on this album, Calexico's Joey Burns helps craft a stunning, sultry French-language pop album that draws on multiple eras and styles... There's an echo of 1960s ye-ye auteurs such as Francoise Hardy, a healthy dose of classic musette and chanson (as seen through the filters of the modern Parisian revivalists) and, perhaps more importantly, the eclectic sensibilities of the 21st Century American indie scene, which brings successive layers of pop, rock, blues and folk to bear, and gives this album a distinctive, alluring feel. Although I obviously like a lot of French pop, hearing this album helped me understand the subtle traps that contemporary French rock still finds itself in, the lingering allegiances to orchestral pop and '80s disco that still give it a relatively static, overly precise feel at times. Here, the all-embracing fluidity of the Americans gives this disc an extra dose of that magical j'ne c'est quoi... If you're a French pop fan, you'll love this album.
Marianne Dissard "Dedicated To Your Walls, May They Keep Blooming" (Self-Released, 2008)
Dissard has also self-released this download-only EP of demo tracks... Haven't heard it, but it's probably cool, too.
Marianne Dissard "Paris One Takes" (Self-Released, 2010)
Combines material from two albums, L'Entredeux and the as-yet-unreleased L'Abandon...
Marianne Dissard "L'Abandon" (Self-Released, 2011)
Dit Terzi "Dit Terzi" (2000)
Claire Diterzi "Boucle" (Naive, 2006)
Claire Diterzi "Requiem For Billy The Kid" (Soundtrack) (Naive, 2007)
Claire Diterzi "Tableau De Chasse" (Naive, 2008)
The Dogs "Different" (Mercury-France, 1979)
The Dogs "Walking Shadows" (Mercury-France, 1980)
Alice Dona "L'Integrale: 1963-1966" (Magic, 2007)
Dutronc "Dutronc! Dutronc! Dutronc!" (Damaged Goods, 1996)
An affectionate, Billy Childish-related, European garage-rock tribute band, honoring the great French pop provocateur Jacques Dutronc. Apparently, this group includes a member of Thee Headcoats, as well as Bongo Debbie of Thee Headcoatees fame. Some Dutronc purists might disavow this album, but I think it's certainly good enough to check out, if you are fortunate enough to find a copy. Along with this album, the band has released several singles and EPs, and supposedly there is another album floating around in the aether... For the full skivvy, check out the Dutronc web page on the Hangman Records site.
Jacques Dutronc - see artist profile
Thomas Dutronc "Comme Un Manouche Sans Guitare" (Universal/Podis, 2007)
The debut album of Thomas Dutronc, son of chanteuse Francoise Hardy and actor/pop star Jacques Dutronc. A mellow, eclectic mix with reverent, nostalgic nods back towards the acoustic swing of Django Reinhardt and the gypsy jazz scene...
Thomas Dutronc "Comme Un Manouche Sans Guitare -- Edition Livre Disque" (Universal/Podis, 2008)
Thomas Dutronc "Comme Un Manouche Sans Guitare Film: Le Live" (Universal/Podis, 2009)
Thomas Dutronc "Silence On Tourne, On Tourne En Rond" (Mercury-France, 2011)
French Music Index
French Chanson & Musette