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!
-M- "Le Bapteme" (Delabel, 1997)
The wildly eclectic debut album by rockstar Matthieu Chedid, who assumed the persona (and kooky wardrobe) of a character called "M" as a way of dealing with his stagefright. With a giant M-shaped wig and lurid half-glam/half-Elvis costumes, Chedid staged elaborate concerts and topped the French charts, while subtly commenting on the relationship between audience and artist. Chedid is the grandson of poet Andree Chedid and the son of '80s pop singer Louis Chedid: part of the motivation for the -M- disguise was also to obscure his family connections, and allow Matthieu to forge his own artistic identity... Some of this is really clever and cool and some of it is really irritating: probably best taken in small doses.
-M- "Je Dis Aime" (Delabel, 1999)
-M- "Le Tour De -M-" (Delabel, 2001)
-M- "Labo M" (Delabel, 2003)
-M- "Qui De Nous Deux" (Delabel, 2003)
-M- "Au Spectrum" (EMI, 2005)
-M- "En Tete A Tete" (live, 2005)
-M- "Ne Le Dis A Personne" (Soundtrack) (Delabel, 2006)
-M- "Mister Mystere" (Barclay, 2009)
Mademoiselle K "Ca Me Vexe" (EMI, 2006)
A noteworthy modern rocker whose grindy, torturous style hearkens back to Wire, Pere Ubu and the post-punky art-rock crowd, as well as more modern touchstones such as Alanis Morrisette, et. al. A little to difficult for me, but adventurous listeners might want to check this out.
Mademoiselle K "Jamais La Paix" (EMI, 2008)
Mademoiselle K "Live" (EMI, 2009)
Mademoiselle K "Jouer Dehors" (EMI, 2011)
Modern, alt-rock with smooth, solid power chords and half-raspy vocals from Mademoiselle K -- less art-rocky than her earlier tuff, but still vigorous and showing her roots in '80s post-punk. A lot of variety on this album; the first half is more radio-friendly while the second half is more varied and challenging. Worth checking out, if you're looking for French pop that mirrors the American "college rock" of the '80s and '90s.
Yvan Marc "Des Chiens, Des Humains" (EMI, 2005)
Yvan Marc "A Dout De Bras" (Label Diff, 2010)
April March "Chick Habit" (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 1995)
This LA-based indie-garage gal raises the Tricolor for a slam-bang tribute to '60s ye-ye, with seven super-perky French-language pop tunes and a great in-English cover of "Chick Habit," one of those oddball nuggets from the obscure mists of rock'n'roll prehistory. A really fun record.
April March "Paris In April" (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 1996)
This disc reprises some of the songs from the Chick Habit EP, and adds a few more English-language tunes and even more froggy pop... Pretty fun stuff!!
April March "Chrominance Decoder" (Tricatel/Mammoth, 1999)
Although this has some very lovely passages, the album as a whole may test your affection for hipster kitsch. Upping the ante on their orchestral '60s-style retro-pop sound, April March and Frenchie producer/arranger Bertrand Burgalat perfect a Petula Clark-meets-Stereolab sound that may seem a bit overblown or over-clever, depending on your affection for (or aversion to) high concentrations of Martin Denny-style exotica, theremins, pouty little girl vox and the tut-tut-tut-doo-daaah horns arrangements of mod-era mainstream pop recordings (ala Mancini, Alpert, et al...) This is intelligently conceived and skillfully produced, but also rather self-consciously busy and -- if you're not in the right mood -- a bit insufferable. Sweet, but challenging in odd ways.
Gilles Marchal "Comme Un Etranger Dans La Ville" (Magic, 2006)
This collection kicks off with several Gallic versions of country-folk and countrypolitan tunes such as "Billy Brown," "Louisiana Man," and "Everybody's Talkin' At Me", translated into French and done up in slightly psychedelic folk-rock arrangements... It's pretty cool, actually! The rest of the record is mostly standard-issue French pop, though with more cover tunes... Marchal's deep, croaking voice may bring to mind Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields, although that may count as putting the cart before the horse... Still, this has its charms. Not as freaky and weird as you might hope, though.
Gilles Marchal "Les 16 Meilleurs Titres" (Magic, 2006)
Florent Marchet "Gargilesse" (Barclay, 2005)
Florent Marchet "Rio Baril" (Barclay, 2006)
Marie Kiss La Joue "Henri, Valentin Et Les Autres" (EMI, 2002)
Zingy, ebullient acoustic swing, with a dash of DIY folkiness in the mix as well... This is fun stuff, sort of the French equivalent of Americana's Hot Club of Cowtown, or indie rock's Squirrel Nut Zippers. Ann-Marie Quemper's joyful vocals are a delight throughout, and the fiddle and guitar are propulsive and catchy as all hell... This is a marvelously fun album - highly recommended!
Marie Kiss La Joue "Et Si" (2005)
Martial "Premier Pas" (Universal-Polydor, 2003)
Lightweight French trip-hop/hip-hop pop, from rapper Martial Tricoche... There are some interesting touches, including folk-acoustic instrumentation (acoustic guitars, fiddles) which might recall songs like Sinead O'Connor's "Stretched On Your Grave," but on balance, this just isn't my cup of tea. It's pleasant if a bit bland, but this guy's no MC Solaar.
Matmatah "La Ouache" (Sony/Trema, 1998)
An eclectic Breton rock band with kind of a proggy/jam band feel... Some interesting integration of the traditional (Breton) influences, but much noisier and more cluttered than other French rock-folk bands such as Malicorne, etc. Not quite my style.
Matmatah "Concert Matmatah" (1999)
A noisy, live, four-song EP... Includes covers of "Twist And Shout" and the Velvet Underground's "Heroin..."
Matmatah "Rebelote" (EMI, 2001)
Matmatah "Lust For A Live" (Universal/Barclay, 2002)
Matmatah "Archie Kramer" (Universal/Barclay, 2004)
Matmatah "La Cerise" (2007)
Matmatah "28, Capucines" (2007)
Another live album... Tied to the "La Cerise" studio album.
Matilda "Angel Of The North" (Magic, 2005)
Matilda "Get Moving" (Magic, 2005)
Mickey 3D "Mistigri Torture" (Virgin France, 2000)
Mickey 3D "La Treve" (Virgin France, 2001)
Mickey 3D "Tu Vas Pas Mourir De Rire" (Virgin France, 2003)
Mickey 3D "Live A Saint-Etienne" (Virgin France, 2004)
Mickey 3D "Matador" (Virgin France, 2005)
Jerome Miniere "Monde Pour N'Importe Qui" (EMI-Lithium, 1997)
Jerome Miniere "Nuit Eclaire Le Jour Qui Suit" (EMI, 1998)
Jerome Miniere "Du Pic Au Coeur" (2001)
Jerome Miniere "Jerome Miniere Presente Herri Kopter" (La Tribu Canada, 2001)
Jerome Miniere "Petit Cosmonaute" (2002)
Jerome Miniere "Chez Herri Kopter" (La Tribu Canada, 2005)
Jerome Miniere "Si T'Achetes Pas Tu Creves" (single) (La Tribu Canada, 2005)
Jerome Miniere "Herri Kopter Au Grand Theatre" (La Tribu Canada, 2006)
Jerome Miniere "Coeurs" (La Tribu Canada, 2007)
Miossec "Boire" (Play It Again Sam, 1995)
Miossec "Baiser" (Play It Again Sam, 1997)
Miossec "A Prendre" (Play It Again Sam, 1997)
Miossec "Brule" (Play It Again Sam, 2001)
Miossec "1964" (Play It Again Sam, 2004)
Miossec "L'Etreinte" (Play It Again Sam, 2006)
Miossec "Brest Of: Tout Ca Pour Ca" (Play It Again Sam, 2007)
Les Missiles "L'Integrale Sixties" (EMI, 1999)
Nice, perky, whitebread teenpop-style rock, all very clean-cut and sock-hoppy... Like Dion, but not as dangerous. The group vocals are hokey, but not saccharine, and as time went on, the guitars (and the production in general) got a little sharper and more rockin', getting them closer to Dave Clark Five territory. This 2-CD set has fifty songs total, with lots and lots of cover tunes. Kinda fun!
Les Missiles "Le Roi Des Fous" (Magic, 2005)
Les Missiles "Salut Les Missiles" (Magic, 2006)
Eddy Mitchell - see artist profile
Ariane Moffatt "Aquanaute" (EMI, 2006)
Ariane Moffatt "La Coeur Dans La Tete" (EMI, 2006)
Ariane Moffatt "Tous Les Sens" (Audiogram, 2008)
Franck Monnet "Playa" (Tot Ou Tard, 1998)
Franck Monnet "Les Embellies" (Tot Ou Tard, 2000)
Franck Monnet "Au Grand Jour" (Tot Ou Tard, 2003)
Franck Monnet "Malidor" (Tot Ou Tard, 2003)
Top-notch French indie rock, with a strong mix of anthemic pop-punkish tunes and softer, more reflective acoustic songs. Consistently engaging and fun... one of the better French rock records I've heard in a while!
Gilbert Montagne "The Fool: 1969-1972" (Magic, 2005)
Over-the-top, piano-led vocal pop, with a few mildly tweaky touches, but nothing much to write home about. This is mostly pretty tame, kind of like David Gates and Bread, though not as imaginative. He also sings a lot of songs in English, with a thick accent, in a way that's not really that charming. Didn't do anything for me.
Jacky Mouliere "L'Integrale" (Magic, 2005)
Moustique/Gary "Twistin' The Rock" (Universal, 2002)
Two energetic eight-song EPs combined onto one disc that give a prime look at early attempts by French vocalists to get ahold of the booming rock'n'roll sound, and failing miserably. The musical approach belongs to an earlier time -- the pre-Beatles '60s, perhaps -- but judging from the production values and the clothing fashion, I'd guess this stuff was from a little later, somewhere in the 1963-64 era. Moustique (French for "mosquito") yelps and bellows his way through a slew of undistinguished standards ("Stagger Lee," "Good Golly Miss Molly", Arthur Alexander's "Anna") with a clumsy brio that sometimes sounds like a Gallic version of British skiffle, at other times like a sledgehammer being lowered onto goldfish. The other artist, Gary, is livelier and more fluid, but also a bit inept -- he's got a better band, but they sound like one of those American frat-rock groups from the Pacific Northwest, a bit frantic and less relaxed than one might wish. Of course, that does have its charms... Indeed, these are vintage recordings that ideal for kitsch value, stuff you can laugh at and enjoy at the same time. There were certainly better French rockers, but at least these guys really threw themselves into what they were doing.
French Music Index
French Chanson & Musette