On the record



If it’s December, it must mean catching the plane and train to Rennes. Thanks to the talent-scouting skills of long-time musical director Jean-Louis Brossard, the city’s Trans Musicales festival has been attracting fans, media, professionals and bands to the French city for the past 34 years. We may think some Irish events have earned their spurs after five or 10 outings, but 34 years is quite a tally.

Les Trans is a completely different beast to the festivals we have here. Instead of the top-heavy nature of Irish and UK festival bills, Les Trans offers a slew of newbies a chance to impress in the giant hangars in Parc Expo on the edge of the city.

The big headliners you’d figure that a 12,000 capacity event needs to pay the bills are nowhere to be seen – Rachid Taha and Vitalic were the biggest names to play the festival last weekend – with emerging acts such as Petite Noir, Sinkane, Nick Waterhouse, Phoebe-Jean and Lou Doillon to the fore.

Add the fact that “Les Trans” has invested heavily in production to turn four or five hangars in an industrial park – not what you’d call natural venues – into proper music-friendly spaces and you have a festival to be admired.

While you can understand why increasingly risk-adverse promoters tend to stick to the summer months for festivals, it’s still striking that there are not more winter events of this ilk on the calendar. Promoters argue that bad weather may discourage fans, but then again we haven’t exactly had great summer weather in recent times.

As Les Trans shows, a decent bill, a good location and attention to detail will always draw the crowds. We’re already planning for Trans number 35 next year.

Now playing



Sinkane (DFA)

Of Montreal and Yeasayer collaborator Ahmed Gallab comes good with action-packed grooves.


Higher Ground (Warp)

Ludice and Hudson Mohawke show why bass is always in fashion.

Nick Waterhouse

Time’s All Gone (Innovative Leisure)

Californian retro soul throwback hits all the right spots.


The City (popcultur)

Teenage French producer Hugo Leclercq’s stunning electronic winner.


Ondatropica (Soundway)

The latest Columbian musical extravaganza helmed by Will “Quantic” Holland.

New music


South African kid Yannick Ilunga was a member of the Spoek Mathambo crew but is now producing dark, beguiling, post-Afro indie pop with some magnificently weird angles to it. Check out Pressure or Till We Ghosts for the new Cape Town swing.



From Baltimore, Phoebe Jean Dunne makes pop music that sparkles and glows with all manner of different tricks and teases. One part Neneh Cherry to one part Santigold, her debut album, Heartbreakers, is full of dashing funk and strong tunes.



The lady from a prestigious French cultural family (Jane Birkin is her mère and film director Jacques Doillon is her père) has ’em swooning with chic folk and boho pop. Debut album Places, produced by Etienne Daho, is a good place to go to find out more.


For more see irishtimes.com/blogs/ontherecord

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