To start the new year here is my list of the ten best French language albums of 2009.
Broadly speaking we have one hip hop, two rock, three ska, one reggae and three humorous, which are predominantly rock-based.
There were several albums that I was expecting to put on this list but discovered were in fact late 2008 releases. It all goes by far too quickly for me.
In the next post I’ll highlight some of the releases that we can look forward to over the next year. While 2009 has been a great year for ska, there is promise from bands such as Vulgaires Machins that we’ll have some top quality rock to get our ears around in 2010.
I couldn’t leave a Trois Accords-shaped hole in this list.
Like all their albums, this release contains some of the worst singing you are ever likely to hear outside of the X Factor but sometimes the inanity of a record such as Dans Mon Corps is exactly what the moment calls for.
Dan Mon Corps came out in October and sees the band from Quebec in just as ridiculous and joyful form as ever. The track Croquer des cous is one of my favourites but gives the game away that these guys, despite their attempts to pretend otherwise, are in fact pretty talented punk/rock songwriters and musicians.
I would have liked to have included Diam’s S.O.S. here but her incessant talking, worse, her incessant whispering between tracks drives me bonkers.
I also considered Diam’s close friend Sinik’s album Ballon D’or in its place. I had wanted to translate the song 4-4-2 from Ballon D’or shortly after the world cup draw a few days after the release of the album at the end of November.
L’ecrasement De Tête is more intersting and enjoyable than either Diam’s or Sinik’s latest releases which is why I have chosen it here.
These guys were the subject of a post in October where I was in the happy position of being able to quote an Only Fools And Horses sketch. Their album art was plastered over Paris metro stations advertising their current tour when I was over there at Christmas.
Their music is also fairly humorous and lighthearted but less shameless than either that of Les Singes Savants or their Canadian counterparts, Les Trois Accords, despite having represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.
I didn’t care very much for BB Brunes’ first album, Blonde Comme Moi. While it had its moments, I found it largely rather empty. I had however been looking forward to their second album, Nico Teen Love ever since hearing the preview tracks on their website. It is altogether a more interesting and accomplished offering.
There are clearly strong influences from bands such as The Libertines and Arctic Monkeys (Black and Blue is almost obscenely Monkeyesque) and when you start listening to the key riff in Bouche B you will be forgiven for thinking you are listening to Queens of the Stone Age. At one point there is even a blatant, though probably unintentional, Pulp riff.
Although there are 15 tracks, over half of them are under three minutes and none of them are over four minutes. I listened to this album for the first time on my iPod while on the treadmill and it did a fine job of keeping me running. It’s rare that I outrun an album and have to “rewind”, but that’s what happened.
Being an ex Star Académie contestant, my very bones tell me that I should avoid Marie Mai’s music. However, I like pretty much everything this Québécoise has ever recorded including this, her third album, released in September. She is an excellent singer and packs her albums full of pacey, energetic pop rock with the kind of distorted guitar backing that air guitarists fantasize about in front of their bedroom mirrors.
I don’t know why but as the years roll merrily forward, I have started to get into Reggae in a way that I had never felt the need to do previously. I’ve always been a ska fan but only recently has this crossed over to the full blown reggae beats of an album such as Broussaï’s Perspectives. As well as some great songs, the production quality of this album is fantastic. Every instrument and vocal sounds crisp and clear on top of the dominant bass.
This album was the subject of my last post which was a long, long time ago on December 6th. With no release from one of my favourites, the Québécois Vulgaire Machins, in 2009 (they have finished recording and are currently mixing their new album), Eiffel released one of the few solid French language rock albums of 2009.
Now we’re at the business end of the top ten, here is a EP that I adore. Five fantastic thumping ska tracks, each one a belter. One of the best EPs ever released.
For most of 2009 I didn’t expect to find an album that would prevent Grand Soir from being my favourite album of 2009. La Ruda have consistently produced great albums ranging in style from the hard rock of 24 images/seconde to the pure ska of Passager Du Réel. Grand Soir in my mind is their best release yet.
Not only did Babylon Circus produce the best album of the year, they were also in my mind the best live band of the year. So good in fact that after seeing them live for the first time in London in October I went to see them again a week later before they left England.
La Belle Étoile was their first release for five years and was a quite a different offering from the previous albums. This album would make my top ten albums of the decade. In any language.