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Today’s Tracks #8: French special Têtes Raides/ Les Rita Mitsouko/ Thomas Fersen

June 28, 2012

I LANDED on a French Last Fm radio channel and heard a load of keek.

Well, not keek, just the kind of distinctly unhip attempts at British and American rock and new wave we often see our cousins across the channel – latter day Johnny Hallidays who think they are Blondie or Elvis Costello, but who look more like The Cars and sound like, well, I don’t know what.

What do French teenagers into rock and indie do when they get into bands?

Anyway, here are some great examples of how French musicians playing in a French idiom are still going strong – even with William Orbit remixes.

As an aside, looking at the online clips, France seems to have a more grown up attitude to what we would describe as ‘folk’ music – major TV shows play French music without ghettoising it. Something for British channels and radio stations to consider.

First up Têtes Raides a former punk band with major influences from Les Negresses Vertes and they have a member who plays ‘baseball bat’ – you have to have time for any band with a base ball bat player. I love their take on French music.

Next up is Les Rita Mitsouko, a Parisian avante garde art band – massive in France when I went there first in the 80s and one of the few that appeared to do rock the way we think it should be done. Whatever that means.

Here’s the William Orbit remix of their big song ‘Y’a D’la Haine Systeme’, it’s massively camp and should covered by Marc Almond, one of my favourite artists.

Finally, there appears to be a greater role for the ukulele in French music than in British rock, at least on a non ironic level. Here’s Thomas Fersen, allegedly named after former Celtic great Tommy Boyd. You had me at Tommy Boyd.

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