French rock … in English !

Article published on Dec. 26, 2007
Article published on Dec. 26, 2007
From the very first notes, influences are obviously familiar to your ears. David Bowie, The Who, The Cure, U2 or even the Smiths. They play a light ant stirring rock. Some manage to add this touch of rage or sadness that is the only way to bring deepness to the music.

Most of them are followed by a tiny bunch of fans whose addiction for slim cut jeans and fringed haircuts can only be excused because of their young age. They sing in English. But they are French.

For a long time, French have been renowned for their ability to play English music and to be listened to abroad. But, too often, this phenomenon has been limited to electronic music, with this well-known “French touch” and artists like Air, Daft Punk or, more recently, Justice. And what about French rock then ?

Well, the problem is that today, French rock is still sung in French language. In front of the national tradition of rock-poetry, squashed by the monumental Noir Désir, many actual French rock singers, who mainly have English speaking references, can hardly find their place. Slightly audible in their own country, they don’t have the credibility triggered by the simple fact of being a British citizen elsewhere. Great exceptions like Phoenix and Tahiti 80 could only give credit to the rule.

In the records’ store departments, French rock with English lyrics, is labelled under the prestigious title of “rock indé” (like “independent”). But contrary to what it means for bands like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys or the late Libertines, that is musical freedom, in France “indé” mostly goes together with marginality. You bet, but they play ! Confronted to a moribund record market industry, the only solution left is to go touring, to come up with show dates, again and again. At least, it pays ! French rock stage does exist, and it is ready to conquer the world! Here is a little selection, totally subjective.


Let’s start with those who can’t be ignored anymore, Rhesus and Stuck in the Sound. Pop, folk and even a little of soul, everything can be found in it. But they can’t be more brilliant than when exerting themselves in direct rock, free of any complex. Just to laugh for a while, there are the funny Sly and Gayz or even the Hey Hey My My who will delight  your ears. Sensitive souls will prefer the sweeter and more subtle register of Syd Matters. I also like Pull, with its simple and short songs.


Finally, my favourite, the outsider Staircase Paradox. Pretty rock and pop at the same time, it has, above all, this darker sound that could only attract the 90’s child that I am !

Hurry to discover them !

P.S. : Every link gets to the Myspace pages of these groups, enjoy the listening !

Myspace websites:

Rhesus : 

Stuck in the sound : 

Sly and the Gayz:

Hey Hey My My: 

Syd Matters:

Pull : 

Staircase Paradox :  

Alexis Brunelle

Translation : Sophie Helbert