The relationship between music and fashion grows ever closer, something that becomes clearer with every Fashion Week. In Paris, Kenzo invited the Aikiu along for the ride for its Spring/Summer 2014 ready-to-wear collection. The Parisian quartet delivered a set of punchy, minimalist remixes of their new wave-inspired jams, reworking "Win" and "Somehow" themselves and handing "Fools" and viral hit "Pieces Of Gold" over to the Shoes and Boston Bun, respectively. The soundtrack accompanied the French house’s latest collection of covetable prints down the runway.
The Aikiu’s debut album Ghost Youth is out now in Europe. In the US, last year’s Pieces Of Gold EP is available digitally.
With the returns of Phoenix and Daft Punk, there’s no doubt that French music is finding a more prominent place in 2013. Sure, those two groups aren’t Versailles’s brightest sons for nothing, and they’ve earned all of their international accolades. But why should they get to have all of the fun? Here are six other coups de coeur that deserve a shot at the spotlight.
True to their name, youth is at Juveniles’ core. The electro-pop duo started getting attention with ”We Are Young,” which may be the only time quarter life crises have seemed sophisticated. “Through The Night” recalls the carpe noctem romanticism of Cut Copy’s “Hearts On Fire,” while “Fantasy” is a nastier disco stomp. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that every song feels like a hit. Their sound is slinky but subtle in its come-ons, so don’t be surprised when you’ve been seduced. Juveniles’ self-titled EP is out now, with a debut album produced by Yuksek (next) on the way. Essential track: “Through The Night” RIYL: Cut Copy, Bear In Heaven, The Rapture
Between producing, DJing, and singing/songwriting, it seems like there’s nothing Yuksek can’t do. The dance-pop artist born Pierre-Alexandre Busson also has a new title: record label owner. A longtime cornerstone of the French scene, he’s now spreading the love with Partyfine, which saw its first release on May 13. Partyfine EP #1 features Busson collaborating with Juveniles (previous) and Oh Land. His work is just as sharp and stylish when he’s on his own–check out any song on 2011’s Living On The Edge Of Time and it will become even clearer that he’s no slacker. Look out for Busson’s DJ sets in NYC at the end of June. Essential track: “Always On The Run” RIYL: Phoenix, Foals, Blood Orange
This Parisian pop-rock quartet got plenty of attention last year for the “Pieces Of Gold” video, which cheekily made vintage porn SFW with footage of the band performing. The song itself is just as memorable, an ode to hopeless romanticism that sounds like looking at the sun. Led by namesake Alex Aikiu, the group combines heartfelt lyrics with breezy melodies to instantly likable effect. They’ll be releasing debut LP Ghost Youth this month, and their new wave-influenced vibes are sure to remain a favorite all summer long–just wait til you hear “Win,” featuring JD Samson of Le Tigre fame. The Pieces Of Gold EP is out now. Essential track: “Pieces Of Gold” RIYL: Hot Fuss-era Killers, Diamond Rings, Miike Snow
With her eclectic style and an eye-catching music video directed by Emily Kai Bock, Owlle might look like Grimes’s chic continental counterpart on paper. Sonically, she’s worlds apart, putting her enchanting voice at the forefront of her sound. Backed by shimmering productions, the few songs the omnichord-wielding parisienne has released so far lean toward the anthemic. “Ticky Ticky” is tears-on-the-dancefloor perfection, while “Disorder” balances a tightly-controlled melody with haunting vocals. No wonder Owlle was also tapped to remix Depeche Mode’s “Heaven” earlier this year. The Ticky Ticky EP is out now, along with an EP of remixes. Essential track: “Ticky Ticky” RIYL: Bat For Lashes, Chairlift
This duo has yet to release an LP, but Philippe Thuillier and Emile Larroche are already carrying on the Versailles tradition. Their laid-back, synth-laced sound made its charming debut on last year’s I Love Japan EP. (For the uninitiated, French people really, really love Japan.) From “Katherine” to “Noël Faded,” Saint Michel found a striking balance between sweetness and melancholy. On latest single “Ceci N’Est Pas Une Chanson,” they make a nod toward Magritte with a clap-along beat, showing a knack for unusual textures. Keep an eye out for their first full-length album, set to be released later this year. Essential track: “Katherine” RIYL: MGMT, Generationals, Tanlines
The AM radio-inspired noodling of early Phoenix records strikes again, this time in the form of Chateau Marmont. Between the singalong harmonies of “Wargames” and the saxophone-laced sprawl of “The Maze,” the Parisian pop-rock trio showcases a diverse sound that’s rooted in the same cozy place. The longtime friends have also lent their more synth-friendly side to amped-up remixes for artists like Ladyhawke and Peter Bjorn and John. Chateau Marmont’s Wind Blows EP came out on May 21, with debut LP The Maze to follow. Essential track: “Wind Blows” RIYL: Alphabetical-era Phoenix, Kings Of Convenience
Now that you’ve recovered from your Fourth of July celebrations, let’s talk about how tomorrow is Bastille Day. France totally puts America to shame when it comes to partying for the sake of national pride, so it’s time to do it all over again. Here are some coups de Coeur for la fête nationale.
Pravda – “Je Suis French”
The name of the song explains everything in this electro-punk take on national identity.
Phoenix – “Napoleon Says”
An old but good one from what the rest of the world sees as the reigning kings of French rock. They’re due for a follow-up to the hugely acclaimed 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but the back catalogue is always worth revisiting.
Housse de Racket – “TGV”
This Parisian electro-rock duo alternates between French and English lyrics, and this highlight from sophomore album Alésia sees them embracing their mother tongue. They’re also known for incorporating “La Marseillaise” into their live show.
The Aikiu – “Pieces of Gold”
This song has gone viral recently, thanks to a music video featuring porn made SFW. The bright and breezy track also deserves it on its own merit.
Yuksek – “The Edge”
France’s best-kept secret is Yuksek, electro-pop artist extraordinaire. His latest single “The Edge,” released this week, exemplifies his brand of dance music for both head and hips.
We Are Knights – “Tears”
Under chilled-out production and hazy vocals, the beat keeps this song as assertive or laid-back as you want to hear it.
Yelle – “Mon Pays”
Despite singing strictly in French, Yelle have always had a healthy audience in America. Even if you can’t understand what Julie Budet is singing about, her tone effortlessly communicates everything against a background of glittering synths.
Anoraak – “Long Hot Summer Night”
This song sounds exactly like its title, all lingering warmth and hints of romance.
Justice – “New Lands”
The latest single from the irreverent Parisians was just graced with one of the best music videos of the year so far, if you’re into futuristic sports.
Make The Girl Dance – “Tchiki Tchiki Tchiki”
The trouble-making dance production duo takes on surf-rock and it totally works.