Tag: Paris France

New VIdeo: Paris’ Fleur bleu.e Releases a Lo-Fi and Trippy Visual for Shimmering “STOLT 89”

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single “STOLT 89” earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto. 

The recently released video for “STOLT 89” employs a decidedly DIY aesthetic that features the duo goofing off in front of a green screen — and throughout, the video has a blown-out, fuzzy quality reminiscent of public access TV

Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.

When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.

They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto.

Live Footage: MAGON Performs “Shackles of the Wretched” at Basement

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist  MAGON established a sound that he described as “urban rock on psychedelics,” which to my ears seemed indebted to David Bowie and T. Rex. 

The Israeli-born, Paris-based JOVM mainstay released his critically applauded sophomore album Hour After Hour through December Square/Differ-Ant Records late last year. Featuring tracks like  Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour,” MAGON’s sophomore album is a decided change in sonic direction: sonically, the album as the rising singer/songwriter and guitarist says is “somewhere between Ty Segall, Allah-Las and The Velvet Underground.”

Earlier this year, the rising JOVM mainstay played a live set for Groover Obsessions‘ Les Capsules sessions at La Marbrerie. Building upon the attention that live session received, MAGON filmed another live session at The Basement, featuring material from Hour After Hour. The first video sees the Israeli-born, Paris-based JOVM mainstay and his backing band playing the Jim Carroll Band-like “Shackles of the Wretched” with an insouciant and swaggering co

New VIdeo: Morningbell’s Travis Atria Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired Meditation on Climate Change

From 2004-2013, Travis Atria was a member of acclaimed Gainesville, FL-based indie rock act Morningbell, which released six critically applauded albums of material, which includes songs featured in film and television. The band also played sets at Bonnaroo and SXSW and commissioned a custom star show at the Kika Silva Pia Planetarium while on tour to support 2013’s excellent album Boa Noite. Travis also had a side project The Slims, which released two albums and kept him pretty busy bon top of his Morningbell duties. In 2014, Morningbell went on indefinite hiatus when his brother Eric and his sister-in-law Stacie Thrushman-Atria started a family.

After spending a decade of recording and touring, Travis Atria turned to another lifelong dream of his — books. In 2016, Atria co-wrote Traveling Soul, the first biography of the legendary soul singer/songwriter and producer Curtis Mayfield — a major influence on Atria’s music — with Mayfield’s son Todd Mayfield. Traveling Soul received praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. He then wrote Better Days Will Come Again, a biography of jazz trumpeter Arthur Briggs, who was among the greatest musicians of Paris’ Jazz Age — and who spent four years in a Nazi prison camp during World War II, where he conducted a classical orchestra of prisoners.

Adding to a rather productive period for the now-acclaimed musician and author, Atria had been writing new material, which would eventually become his soon-to-be released solo debut, Moonbrain, and at the tine he had started he was searching for the album’s heart. Of course, that process came about in stages: While working on his Arthur Briggs book, Atria went to Paris in August 2017 to see the site of Briggs’ prison camp. On the night he had visited Briggs’ prison camp, the Parisian news reported on the now-infamous Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, VA. For Atria, who was studying World War II history in Paris, it was a chilling to see his own countrymen staging what was a pro-Nazi rally.

The following year, the IPCC released their updated climate report, which said that we were maybe 20 years away from permanently damaging the environment as we know it. Atria, who had been involved in climate activism since 2004 began to fear the world the his niece and nephew would inherit, and decide that the album had to be more than the sensual rock ‘n’ soul he had been known for in Morningbell. Taking Curtis Mayfield’s “painless preaching” as a model fo this solo work, Atria focused on creating the material’s grove, initially steering clear of lyrical polemics — but while still trying to write about the truth about the world. “I felt too few artists were trying to deal with what we’re going through,” Atria says. “I owed it to these kids to try.” 

Unsurprisingly, Moonbrain’s material is a reflection of our time — and it pulls no punches about it, even if they sometimes seem like love taps. The album’s first single “Jazz Cigarette” is a shimmering Quiet Storm-like slow jam featuring shimmering guitars, twinkling keys, smooth horns, and a sinuous bass line paired with Atria’s plaintive crooning. But underneath the sultry, late night grooves, the song is focused on the dire state of the globe’s climate, suggesting that things are really even more fucked up than you think.

The accompanying video was shot primarily on the streets of New York — with most of the footage set in and around the 59th Street Bridge, Roosevelt Island and Long Island City. Throughout, the video reminds us all of the city’s constant activity and constant motion; but with the uneasy reminder that those beloved sites may at some point be in endangered, and real soon.

Moonbrain is slated for an April 2, 2021 release through Gold Robot Records.

Lyric Video: Rising Paris-based Pop Artist Jenn Sarkis Releases an Infectious Feminist Anthem

Rising Paris-based singer/songwriter and pop artist Jenn Sarkis is a true global citizen with her music influences informed by her Lebanese upbringing, French education and a childhood spent in the United Arab Emirates — and her longing to define her own sense of identity.

Sarkis emerged in 2016 with her debut single “Breaking Boundaries,” which received airplay from Virgin Radio and playlisting on Spotify New Talent. Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, the Paris-based pop artist released her debut EP, 2017’s Stay, which featured “Here We Go Again.”

The Paris-based pop artist’s full-length debut is forthcoming — and in the meantime, she released the album’s first single, “When A Girl Says No,” strutting and defiant feminist anthem, seemingly rooted in lived-in personal experience an featuring a slick club thumping and radio friendly production with thumping beats, squiggling Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line, Sarkis’ self-assured, take no prisoners and take no bullshit delivery and a rousingly anthemic hook. On multiple listens, I could easily envision the women in my life shouting along to the song while pregaming for a night out, while driving, when hearing the song in the club and so on.

“When a Girl Says No,” was written to support to the woman across the world, who are speaking up and screaming out “we’ve had enough!” — and then going out to change the world.

Live Footage: Alice Phoebe Lou Performs “Only When I”

Acclaimed Cape Town-born, Berlin,-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and JOVM mainstay  Alice Phoebe Lou grew up in an intensely creative home: her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took a young Lou to piano lessons. As a teenager, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based artist taught herself guitar.

When she was 16, she went on a life-altering trip to Paris to visit her aunt. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a young Lou met some of the city’s buskers and street performers, eventually learning poi dancing from some of them. After completing her studies, she returned to Europe, first settling in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer.

Some time later, she relocated to Berlin, where she quickly developed a reputation as a well-regarded busker — and for a fiercely punk rock-like DIY approach to her career. With the release of her self-released debut EP, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based JOVM mainstay began to receive national and international attention that led to a number of performances at  TED events in London and Berlin during the following year.

2016’s Orbit was a critical success, leading to Lou earning a Best Female Artist nomination at that year’s German Critics’ Awards. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, she wound up playing at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California — and she appeared on bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, and Allen Stone. Lou need the year with three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. Those Berlin Planetarium shows were so popular and in such high demand that additional shows had to be added to her tour schedule in 2017.

In 2018, the live version of “She” amassed over four million views on YouTube, and was featured in Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story — before the studio version of the single had been recorded or released. She then spent the bulk of the year working on the material, which would eventually comprise her sophomore album, 2019’s Noah Georgeson-produced Paper Castles. According to Lou, the album was “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”

The recently released Glow is the highly-anticipated follow-up to Paper Castles, and the album’s material may arguably be the most raw and personal her growing catalog. The material which finds Lou frequently delivering lyrics in a old school, jazzy croon paired with scuzzy guitars, sauntering and strutting bass grooves and mesmerizing piano sequences finds Lou being unafraid to be vulnerable and yearning while embracing songwriting as her truest, most honest form of expression. “I used to feel quite self-conscious about writing love songs,” the acclaimed JOVM mainstay says in press notes,” but now I like the idea that your music can be a friend to someone, and make them feel as though they’re being related to. This album simply poured out of my heart and my subconscious, and there was no stopping the lovestruck nature of them. Sometimes love, love lost and the ways in which these matters of the heart affect us, are the most relatable feelings in the world.”

Much like the rest of us, last year brought challenges both personally and as an artist for Lou. “I spent more time alone than I ever had,” she shares. “I shaved may head. Had an ego death. Fell in love. Had my heart broken. I was a raw little mess. And that was what I wrote about.”

And to celebrate the album’s release, the acclaimed singer/songwriter released a self-directed bit of live footage of her and her backing band performing the slow-burning and hushed “Only When I.” Nodding at Quiet Storm soul, the song, which is centered around Lou’s plaintive and ethereal crooning, twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and a strutting bass line is a heartbreaking and familiar admission of the lovesick and lonely — and full of desperate longing for companionship and that touch of someone you can’t get back.

New VIdeo: Ballaké Sissoko Teams Up with Nouveau Vague’s Camille on a Gorgeous New Single

Ballaké Sissoko is an acclaimed Malian-born, Paris-based kora player. who comes from a deeply musical family: Sissoko is the son of equally acclaimed, kora master Djelimady Sissoko, who may be best known for his work with Ensemble Instrumental Du Mali. Drawn to the kora at a very young age, the younger Sissoko was taught the instrument by his father. Tragically. Djelmady died while his children were very young — and Ballaké stepped up to take the on the role of breadwinner, eventually taking his father’s place in the Ensemble Instrumental Du Mali.

The younger Sissoko has had a long-held fascination with genres and sounds outside of scope of the Mandika people — i.e., flamenco guitar, sitar and others — which, inspired a series of critically applauded collaborations with a diverse and eclectic array of musicians across the globe, including acclaimed French cellist Vincent Segal, Toumani Diabaté, legendary bluesman Taj Mahal and Ludovic Einaudi.

Sissoko’s 11th album Djourou is slated for an April 9, 2021 release through his long-time label home Nø Førmat Records. The album will feature solo compositions and a number of thoughtful collaborations with a collection of diverse and unexpected artists outside of the Mandinka musical genre for which his griot caste is celebrated globally, including Nouvelle Vague’s Camille, African legend Salif Keita, young, leading female kora player Sona Jobareth, the aforementioned Vincent Segal and Malian-born, French emcee Oxmo Puccino among others.

Djourou, which derives its name from the Bambara word for string, can trace its origins to when Sissoko approached Nø Førmat label head Laurent Bizot with the proposition of blending solo kora pieces with unexpected collaborations. The label and Sissoko mutually agreed that he take the time to confirm enriching and challenging partnership with artists, who were fans of Sissoko’s work. The album took a painstaking yet fruitful two years to complete.

So far I’ve written about two of Djourou’s released singles:

“Frotter Les Mains,” deriving its title from the French phrase for “rub hands,” the mediative track is centered around the simple percussive element of Sissoko rubbing his hands back and forth, shimmering plucked kora and Malian-born, French-based emcee Oxmo Puccino’s dexterous and heady bars in French. While being a much-needed bit of peace, thoughtfulness and empathetic connection in a world that’s often batshit insane, the two artists make a virtual connection between the ancient and the modern, the West and Africa — with an important reminder that hip hop is the lingua franca of post-modern life.
Album title track “Djourou,” which sees Sissoko collaborating with leading Gambian-born, female kora player Sona Jobarteh. Centered around the duo holding a musical conversation by trading expressive and shimmering, melodic kora lines paired with ethereal interwoven vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, the track finds its collaborations making a vital connection — this time across both contemporary African borders and across time. Sissoko sought out Jobarteh with a specific wish to connect with the younger generation of kora players — to rejoin with their common forebears, to weave a connective thread across borders that were unknown and unimagined to the griots of the Malian Empire’s presence over much of West Africa.

“When I met Ballaké, we said to ourselves that to talk to each other we had to play together, and that’s how we spoke best: we played under a tree, outside, and part of the melody came to me like that,” Camille recalls. “I wanted to write a song about the kora, the mystery of this instrument, and I started asking him questions: about woodwind, etc. but it’s not a luthier’s song, it’s a love song. Love is fire, love is water. And the sound of the kora is like flowing water.”

“Kora,” was realized with a simple yet strikingly shot bit of live footage shot in Paris’ Bois de Vincennes Park by Julien Borel and Vladimir Cagnolari , which captures the duo’s incredible musical simpatico.

Featuring an accomplished array of players including former and current members of Antibalas, The Easy Star All-Stars, The Skatalies, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaries, The Far East and others, the New York-based collective Combo Lulo initially was conceived a studio project that convened to record a handful of cuts for New York-based label Names You Can Trust (NYCT), including their debut single, released in May 2018. That single, which featured a hybrid of cumbia and reggae helped to quickly establish their sound — a sound that effortlessly draws from and bounces around the Caribbean, finding common threads between cumbia, rocksteady and dub.

Their debut single sold out in a few months, through good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Adding to the growing buzz surrounding the collective, the B-Side single “Canto Del Sol” was featured on NPR’s Marketplace in 2019. 2019 also saw the release of their second single, “The Sieve & The Sand,” which found the members of Combo Lulo incorporating elements of Ethiojazz and Afrobeat while maintaining a spacey, Roots Radics sort of groove.

The collective then teamed up with Panamanian soul singer Ralph Weeks for rocksteady ballad-like re-work of his 1969 slow jam “Algo Muy Profundo/Something Deep Inside” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original’s release. Much like their debut single, their collaboration with Ralph Weeks quickly sold out — while becoming a stable of DJ sets in clubs across Paris, Mexico City, and Los Angeles.

Building upon their rapidly growing profile, Combo Lulo will be releasing their highly-anticipated full-length debut Neotropic Dream on May 8, 2021. The forthcoming album’s latest single “Culebra Mentirosa” features a collaboration with Alba and The Mighty Lions’ Alba Ponce De Leon is a slick and soulful synthesis of dub, dancehall and cumbia centered around infectious and shuffling riddims.

“‘Culebra Menitrosa’ came about because we’re huge fans of Alba Ponce De Leon and her group, the Mighty Lions (also on NYCT),” Combo Lulo bandleader Michael Sarason says in press notes.”She’s got such a classy and nuanced sound as a singer, I thought it would work really well with our music. We invited her to come to the studio and after listening through some tracks, we spoke about the idea of writing a song in the form of a parable and using the animal kingdom as a device to tell that story. The concept came together quickly and Alba developed her lyrics and melodies on the spot. When we were mixing it, we tried to imagine what it might sound like if the classic Colombian Cumbia singer Leonor Gonzalez Mina had flown to Jamaican to have King Tubby mix her album. As I listen back now, I can hear all of that in the final version.

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay MAGON on Groover Obsessions’ Les Capsules

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist MAGON established a sound that he described as “urban rock on psychedelics,” which to my ears seemed indebted to David Bowie and T. Rex.

The Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist released his critically applauded sophomore album, Hour After Hour through December Square/Differ-Ant Records last December. The album, which features Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour,” is a decided change in approach and sonic direction for the Paris-based JOVM mainstay: sonically, the album as MAGON says is “somewhere between Ty Segall, Allah-Las and The Velvet Underground.”

MAGON with his live band recently played a live set for Groover Obsessions’ Les Capsules sessions at La Marbrerie that featured a jammy and trippy version of the aforementioned “Hour After Hour,” one of my favorite songs off his sophomore album and the slow-burning burning and brooding psych rocker “Coucou My Friend.” Both songs in the live session are delivered with an insouciant yet swaggering cool.

New Video: Ballaké Sissoko Teams up With Rising Gambian Kora Player Sona Jobarteh on a Meditative Single

Ballaké Sissoko is an acclaimed Malian-born, Paris-based kora player. who comes from a rather musical family: Sissoko is the son of equally acclaimed, kora master Djelimady Sissoko, who may be best known for his work with Ensemble Instrumental Du Mali. Drawn to the kora at a very young age, the younger Sissoko was taught the instrument by his father. Tragically,. Djelmady died while his children were very young — and Ballaké stepped up to take the on the role of breadwinner, eventually taking his father’s place in the Ensemble Instrumental Du Mali.

The younger Sissoko has had a long-held fascination with genres and sounds outside of scope of the Mandika people — i.e., flamenco guitar, sitar and others — which, inspired a series of critically applauded collaborations with a diverse and eclectic array of musicians across the globe, including acclaimed French cellist Vincent Segal, Toumani Diabaté, legendary bluesman Taj Mahal and Ludovic Einaudi.

Sissoko’s 11th album Djourou was originally scheduled for release this week — but its release has since been rescheduled for an April 19, 2021 release through his long-time label home Nø Førmat Records. The forthcoming album will feature solo compositions and a number of thoughtful collaborations with a collection of diverse and unexpected artists outside of the Mandinka musical genre for which his griot caste is celebrated globally, including Nouvelle Vague’s Camille, African legend Salif Keita, young, leading female kora player Sona Jobareth, the aforementioned Vincent Segal and Malian-born, French emcee Oxmo Puccino among others.

Interestingly, Djourou, which derives its name from the Bambara word for string, can trace its origins to when Sissoko approached Nø Førmat label head Laurent Bizot with the proposition of blending solo kora pieces with unexpected collaborations. The label and Sissoko mutually agreed that he take the time to confirm enriching and challenging partnership with artists, who were fans of Sissoko’s work. And as a result, the album has taken over two years to complete.

Late last year, I wrote about Djourou’s first single, the meditative and gorgeous “Frotter Les Mains,” which features acclaimed Malian-born, French-based emcee Oxmo Puccino. Deriving its title from the French phrase for “rub hands,” “Frotter Les Mains” is centered around the percussive element of Sissoko rubbing his hands, shimmering kora and Puccino’s dexterous and heady French lyrics. The end result is a song that’s simultaneously a much-needed bit of peace, thoughtfulness and kindness in a world that’s often batshit insane, a vital connection between the ancient and the modern, the West and Africa — and a reminder that hip hop has become the lingua franca that binds us all.

Djourou’s latest single, album title track “Djourou” is a mediative track that sees Sissoko collaborating with leading Gambian-born, female kora player Sona Jobarteh, centered around the duo trading shimming and expressive melodic bursts of kora paired with ethereal, interwoven vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, the track finds its collaborators making a vital connection — this time across both contemporary African borders and across generations. Sissoko sought out Jobarteh with a specific wish to connect with the younger generation of kora players — to rejoin with their common forebears, to weave a connective thread across borders that were unknown and unimagined to the griots of the Malian Empire’s presence over much of West Africa.

“You grow up listening to somebody, and that’s the person that has in many ways been your teacher, your inspiration since a very young age,” Jobarteh says of her collaboration with the Malian-bor, Parisian-based kora master. “The first time I heard him, sounded so different to me, the tone that he gets out of the instrument is so different. He says something to me, the phrasing and the melody he picks – and he’s technically amazing, but he doesn’t let that become more than the music. That’s something I’ve always respected about him.”

Directed by Benoît Peverelli, the recently released video for “Djourou” features intimately shot footage of Sissoko and Jobarteh in the studio. The visual manages to convey the meditative peace of the song.