French Bands That Make Us Say "Oh Là Là!"

That's Plastic Bertrand, but you probably know that song better from the traveling sequence in National Lampoon's European Vacation or better yet, the basis for the Elton Motello track "Jet Boy Jet Girl."

Quality French rock and roll has sometimes been hard to come by, but when it hits, it slays. As far as modern French jams go, they really know how to do electro right, but in the '70s they made some of the best sleazy punk rock. Keep in mind these guys were probably already living the scummy Parisian lifestyle long before the late Malcolm McLaren co-opted it for the Sex Pistols.

Serge Gainsbourg is worthy of his own blog post apart from this one, but we don't have the time to even delve into him singing songs about banging underage chicks or smoking Gitanes naked on a rooftop. Google Gainsbourg if you are feeling frisky (and not at work).

French rock band Phoenix blew up last summer and turned in one of the most talked-about performances at last year's Austin City Limits Music Festival. With singles like "Lisztomania" and "1901," the band has even been snagging airplay on modern-rock stations like The Buzz; it's kinda fun hearing Nickelback, Phoenix and some old-ass Pearl Jam in the span of a ten minutes. Who knows, maybe the station is changing?

We picked some of our favorite French bands of the past few years to get you ready for Friday's pretty much sold-out Phoenix show. (As of Thursday afternoon, only a handful of tickets remained. Buy them here... if you can.)


For the past two decades, Air has been ambient and slinky electronic rock. 1998's Moon Safari is their magnum opus, with the soundtrack for the 2000 film The Virgin Suicides a close second.


Justice (or "just-eece" as the duo pronounces it) is the Metallica of electro. After 2007's Cross album, they commanded sellout crowds inside arenas all over the world. Rocks Off saw them play a warehouse at SXSW in 2008, and we still can't find our faces.


Picking up where My Bloody Valentine and the like left off, M83 makes soft, watery swaths of indie-rock, and are increasingly finding themselves in high demand. They have a distinct Giorgio Moroder thing going on too, if you dig on him. They made a stellar opening act at last year's Killers date at Verizon Wireless as well.

Daft Punk

Not many bands command as much reverence from almost all sides of the musical landscape as Daft Punk. Kanye West samples them and bites off their aesthetic, and bands the world over wish they could be as smoothly innovative as the forever-masked duo. DP live shows are not just dates on a calendar, they are events - just check out concert doc Daft Punk's Electroma.

Tahiti 80

One of the least-known of this group, and sonically the closest to Phoenix, Tahiti 80 still has a fervent following on both sides of the pond. They are quite comparable to Of Montreal in terms of experimentation and scope, and even throw Stax horns in their stew from time to time. Check out 2004's A Piece of Sunshine to get a head start.

Phoenix plays with Two Door Cinema Club, 8 p.m. Friday, April 30, at Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas (Bayou Place), 713-230-1600 or

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty