Archive for July, 2009

Wallenberg – “White Elephant”

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Was sent a link to this sweet, childlike almost mystical song from Wallenberg this morning. Here’s the description from the site and a stream below that.

“A song created around the expression “white elephant”, a valuable possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose cost exceeds its usefulness. Only in this song the elephant is gray and therefor have neither spiritual nor materialistic value. A plain everyday elephant without diamond in his tusks. However, it turns out, he is good and virtuous, and ideal for long rides in the white mountains while playing the banjo. Maybe, the song can also be seen as a metaphor for the costs and efforts involved in creating a piece of music.”

<a href="http://wallenberg.bandcamp.com/track/white-elephant">White Elephant by Wallenberg</a>

New experimental pop record from Erik de Vahl

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Erik de Vahl’s new record is being described as “the straightest pop-songs I’ve ever done but also some more experimental pieces”. You can hear both influences on the single song “Running”. It’s got a Memphis slow jam feel with instrumentation that reminds me of a classic Ann Peebles track, but meanwhile it’s layered in such a way with so many found sounds and samples that it does sound truly experimental.

Erik de Vahl is distributing this new record (it’s a double mini cdr) himself. Follow this link to listen to some samples and order the record for 80SEK/11EUR. Here’s “Running” from the new record.

Running

Swedish Video Wrapup (Chuck Morgan, Movits! on Colbert, Hello Saferide, Hajen and Maia Hirasawa)

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

People (alright just me) have been talking about Chuck Morgan in the most glowing terms that you’d think he’s got a whole PR team behind him. But as you can see in this d.i.y. video it’s really just him and his guitar stuck on a balcony in Gothenburg.

Chuck Morgan – “Spring Is”

Annika Norlin & David Sandström – “Fairytale of New York”

Maia Hirasawa – “The Wrong Way”

Movits! on Colbert

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Movits!
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Tasers

Hajen – Scapegoat @ Peace & Love

Epic Shoegaze from Zeit

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Sometimes the term shoegaze implies a bit of an laid back, passive sound (yes, still a wall of sound, but a restrained wall of sound). On this song from the Swedish band Zeit you get an epic brand of shoegaze. It’s at once heavy and oxygen starved and at other times fragile (tamborines about halfway in).

This song is from the band’s new EP The Glued and Honeydripped (available through The Pirate Bay). The band is currently recording songs for their upcoming debut album; contact them through Myspace and let `em know you like their sound.

Happiness in Times of Misery

Monde Yeux

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I know I’m thought of as a fan of twee and indie pop, which presumes I’m not much of a fan of musicians that can actually play their instruments or of bands that can actually put together a semblance of an intricate pop song. But that’s not the case. In fact in another life I was clearly either a fan of 50′s jazz or eastern European folk because it’s bands inspired by those two styles that often show up here and on my folk/roots site Songs:Illinois.

And that’s the case today with the band Monde Yeux. They play a brand of indie pop that is more fleshed out with larger arrangements, more instrumentation, and better musicality (is that even a word?”). Check out the retro organ intro to “Long Gone” from their upcoming album Duke & The Drug Dealing Dinosaurs or the shifts in time signatures as the song goes from a jaunty pace to a waltz and then to almost punk like feverishness.

Long Gone

Monde Yeux performing “Long Gone” at Hultsfred

Something new from Taxi Taxi

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Here’s a song from Taxi Taxi’s upcoming debut LP that hasn’t made the rounds of yet. I wrote about Taxi Taxi way back when and at the time was intrigued by all the angles (twins, very young, unusual harmonies – did I say gorgeous?) as well as being impressed by their music.

I had hoped that their sound would grow and change over time, but instead it’s stayed rather simple, if now it’s somewhat adorned. Perhaps I was hoping for too much from them. Here’s “Ripest Fruit” off of Still Standing At Your Back Door (Rumracket, Sept. 21).

Ripest Fruit

Swedish video roundup (Mike Snow, Sally Shapiro, Little Dragon, Ison & Fille, MOMOFOKO)

Monday, July 20th, 2009

MOMOFOKO – “Control”

Little Dragon – Live

Ison & Fille – “Ikväll Är Vi Kungar” (med Birgit Bidder)

Mike Snow- “Burial”

Sally Shapiro – “Love In July”

The Best Songs In The World (July MAP Edition)

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

AMERICA: I Guess I’m Floating
Spanish Prisoners ñ Kiss The Lawn Goodbye
Brooklyn’s Spanish Prisoners, fronted by Leo Maymind, create fractured power-pop in the vein of The New Porno’s Dan Bejar (Destroyer). They’re currently working on a new album but in the meantime they’ve released a free three-song EP – download it here – from which Kiss The Lawn Goodbye is taken.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Mi PequeÒa Muerte ñ La M˙sica Nueva
Mi PequeÒa Muerte means “my little death” so you’re probably thinking this is not a particularly optimistic band. That was true for Hospital, their 2004 debut album, which was loaded with melancholic indie-rock tunes and moaning vocals. But this is 2009 and believe it or not, the band’s third album is called Un Futuro Brillante (“a brilliant future”). Maybe that was just pure irony, but in this new effort they define themselves with shiny sounds and instruments, including horns and Moog synthesizers.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Boat Beam ñ The Rain Pauly
So it turns out that Josephine of Sparkadia is now in this gorgeously gentle folky trio in Madrid called Boat Beam, and they seem to be kinda popular (check their MySpace). How crazy is that? I could listen to The Rain Pauly for days.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Nancy ñ Keep Cooler
Five-piece band Nancy have played just a few shows in Brazil and may be more well-known outside the country. They were the first Brazilian band on virtual label RCRD LBL and have been featured on BBC Radio’s Introducing programme, showing their soft indie tunes. Nancy’s members live in different cities and countries so the band’s debut album, Chora Matisse!, was composed on the internet through emails and IM.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Rah Rahñ I’ve Got Faith
When I had to submit my ballot for the Polaris Music Prize (think a Canadian version of the Mercury Prize), the one album that was toughest for me to leave off was Rah Rah’s amazing Going Steady. As I’ve Got Faith shows, the band combine the best elements of Broken Social Scene (with the constant sense they’re just barely keeping everything together) and Arcade Fire (in its epicness), with the end result being a sound that’s all their own.

CHILE: Super 45
Pedropiedra ñ Sol Mayor
Pedro Subercaseaux has been involved with music for almost a decade. Having explored such diverse styles as cumbia, hip-hop, electronica, pop and rock, he has been part of several projects such as Hermanos Brothers, Tropiflaite, Yaia and CHC, gathering a good amount of success along the way. This year Subercaseaux has decided to release his debut solo album, under the moniker Pedropiedra, in which he demonstrates his great ability to craft catchy pop-oriented melodies.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
The Works ñ Live And Direct (featuring Jams F. Kennedy)
It’s time to bring some urban tunes to all ye faithful readers of the Music Alliance Pact. Enter The Works aka producers Twelve Beats and Terry Tester, whom I stumbled across quite recently and whose intriguing fusion of hip-hop and electronica I haven’t been able to shake off since. Minimalist, yet rich on details. Hardly moving, but always taking you places. Their debut release, Yokohama EP, is out now and streamed in full on their MySpace.

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Friendship ñ The Graveyard Shift
Tired of indie bands showing off their ‘African influences’? Well, get ready for one more, although this is done with a lot more bite, distortion and general sense of fun than most.

FINLAND: Glue
Neufvoin ñ Robot
Neufvoin are an up-and-coming indie band who create beautifully-arranged catchy pop melodies with guitars, synthesizer textures and a few other instruments. Apparently, they also like playing with bots and droids. Robot is taken from their debut Robokop EP, six songs produced by Rubik frontman Artturi Taira that journey many different musical landscapes.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Jessica Fichot ñ Un, Deux, Trois (1,2,3)
Born in America to a French father and Chinese mother, chanteuse and songwriter Jessica Fichot was raised in France in a multicultural environment. She is a lot like her hometown of Paris: French at heart, but with a soul that’s truly international. Her multi-ethnic upbringing colors the songs on her debut album.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Bonaparte ñ Gigolo Vagabundo
Bonaparte are a Berlin-based artist collective from all across Europe. Their sparkling weird-folk is powered by Balkan pace and electronic rhythms. Outfitted with crazy costumes, they are one of the most exciting German live acts around.

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
Sudden Weather Change ñ Prey Mode
Sudden Weather Change are a five-piece rock band from Reykjavik who have been compared to Sonic Youth and Pavement. Prey Mode is taken from their debut album, Stop! Handgrenade In The Name Of Crib-Death ‘nderstand, which came out in April on the Icelandic Kimi Records label and will be released in Europe and America in September.

IRELAND: Nialler9
The Holy Roman Army ñ Elegy
Ireland has already produced its fair share of amazing records so far this year and we can now add The Holy Roman Army’s album to that list. How The Light Gets In is the brother and sister duo’s debut and it’s filled with ambient and electronic flourishes with an organic heart. Perhaps it’s not a surprise they are a doctor and a psychologist respectively. Elegy is a perfect example of the band’s yearning for something emotional between the city’s streets.

ITALY: Polaroid
Iori’s Eyes ñ Anchor
Iori’s Eyes are a boy and a girl from Milan who play gentle pop with a dreamy touch. Their music brings together a folk mood and a post-rock background. Their songs sound as fragile and delicate as little toys, but definitely know how to be surprising and poignant. Iori’s Eyes just released their debut EP, And Everything Fits In The Yellow Whale, and I can’t wait to listen to a proper album.

JAPAN: JPOP Lover
LITE ñ Ghost Dance
LITE are a Tokyo-based instrumental band who play experimental rock with striking, groove-heavy basslines. Formed in 2003, their spirit is similar to Mogwai, 65daysofstatic, Battles, Toe and Envy. In May, LITE visited America for the first time, going out on tour with legendary bass guitarist Mike Watt.

MEXICO: Club Fonograma
Hello Seahorse! ñ Universo 2
Hello Seahorse! is the year’s most acclaimed Mexican indie band. With their third album, Bestia, the trio have made the transition into a multi-dimensional group with a masterwork under their belt. Bestia shines in between ghosts and hazy sonic beauty, in a universe of its own, and proves Hello Seahorse! have total control over their romanticized and passionate, sublime creations.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
Urbantramper ñ Southern Hemisphere Blues
Urbantramper are a five-piece from Wellington who are part of a loose collective known as Treeninja. The band produce introspective pop songs that reflect an endearing, naive angst about their place in the world. This is a group with a manifesto! They’re currently considering issues of music distribution, copyright and the impact of these on the nature of the relationship between musician and audience. Urbantramper have a strong back catalogue and a new album due in September.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Silverdrop ñ Real Life
It’s July, it’s summer and it’s time for some fresh and shiny indie-pop from Norwegian six-piece Silverdrop. These are definitely sounds for the sunny days and the band’s new recordings are even more bouncy and energetic than the songs I’ve heard from them before. Silverdrop are currently working on their debut album.

PERU: SoTB
Francois Peglau ñ Spring Lovers Song (Si T˙ Quieres)
Francois Peglau’s songs do not need much explanation, they just happen. They are simple and beautiful – they could be borne from a whistle on a bus or a nice sunny day with friends. Francois moved to London two years ago and Spring Lovers Song (Si T˙ Quieres) is his most recent song.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Andrew Thorn ñ ME Jane
Andrew Thorn is Jo„o Pedro Coimbra, a Portuguese composer/musician/producer and founder of the extremely successful duo Mesa. Andrew Thorn is Jo„o’s way of exploring his creativity beyond Mesa’s sound. The debut EP, Brutes On The Quiet, was released independently (Mesa is signed to Sony/BMG) on July 13 and ME Jane is the first authorized download by the artist and a MAP exclusive.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
Melting Carousel ñ Several Other Universes
Melting Carousel are an indie-pop band from Timisoara with an eclectic approach, ranging from alternative pop to jazz.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
Maple Leaves ñ Easy Speak
Even though Glasgow’s pedigree of producing twee, folky-pop bands (Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura) is strong, few have been as relentlessly joyous as Maple Leaves. With their dreamy girl-boy vocals and penchant for colouring their songs with flute, piano and acoustic guitar, Maple Leaves are guaranteed to put the spring into anyone’s summer.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Force Vomit ñ Liberator
Surfing and punk-rock in the city state of Singapore don’t necessarily go hand in hand due to the lack of any noteworthy waves (both literally and metaphorically). Enter Force Vomit, the antithesis of Singapore’s two shortcomings with their brazen brand of surf-punk that takes the piss out of Singapore’s sanitized idiosyncrasies and semblance of normal life. Sounding like a Dick Dale number cut by switchblades, Liberator should easily find a place in a Tarantino film.

SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Dringe Augh ñ Tutelar
Singer-songwriter Dringe Augh offers lovely songs full of lively guitar play. Over the years he has recorded several demos and his first official EP, Individually Wrapped, was released in June. On the new version of Tutelar, Dringe is accompanied by delightful female vocals from Eunjie Song of modern folk duo Sogyumo Acacia Band.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
MAKTHAVERSKAN ñ German Boy
I was stumbling around the net (MySpace in particular) and came across this band called MAKTHAVERSKAN. I have since learned they are signed to Luxury. Consider this your introduction to the new ‘it’ band from Gothenburg. They are agit-pop combined with post-punk and a little bit of Joan Jett tunefulness.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimeto Musical
Gonzalo Teppa ñ De Conde A Principal
Gonzalo Teppa is a musician, composer and a breathtaking double-bass player. Born in Barquisimeto, he has wowed audiences in Mexico, Brazil, Spain, USA, Colombia and Bolivia. Downbeat Magazine has selected him as solo artist of the year twice. De Conde A Principal is a version of an original work from Venezuelan composer Aldemaro Romero. It belongs to his latest work, Contrabajos De Aldemaro.

To download all 26 songs in one file click here

Alexandra Wennersten – “Heal Our Hearts”

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The folks behind the Swedish band Pinto have started a new netlabel. They have recently released their first single. Frankly I was going to pass on this and let all the other media outlets hip you to it. But then I started playing the song “Heal Our Hearts” from Alexandra Wennersten and was immediately impressed by the heart-on-the-sleave lyrics, sultry vocals, and crystal clear production. Even then I might have still passed but for the male vocals that pop up about halfway in. The song that began as a simple ballad suddenly became a beautiful and heartwrenching duet. More info and the a-side of the single here.

Heal Our Hearts

Gorgeous pop from Skatan

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Let me just tell it to you straight. I haven’t heard anything this promising in a long, long time. In fact, in terms of female singer-songwriters it’s been since I wrote repeatedly about Hajen (here) that I’ve been so excited about an artist. Skatan is the band name du jour of the Gothenburg based artist Simone Andersson Wingfors. And she’s the reason I’m all aflutter today.

How is it possible that a Swede can have such facility with the English language? For this English language speaker, who has a hard time searching for the right word or phrase on a daily basis, it’s even more impressive that the song “Shine” has such powerfully effective (yet simple) lyrics. Skatan’s songs have a bit of an improbable and undefinable trait that early Regina Spector songs had. Her vocals can be beautiful one moment and then dangerous the next. Listen for yourself and come to your own conclusion but for now color me impressed.

Order Skatan’s new EP direct from her MySpace page. And if you work in the Swedish music business I’d consider signing her up before one of your competitors beats you to the punch.

Shine
Surprises

P.S. And totally unrelated but here’s the most recent video from Francis for their song “Take It Easy”

New tunes from Boa constrictor (plus something from Kevin McGrother)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

A serious session of seven degrees of separation courtesy of MySpace led me to the music of Boa Constrictor. The band is huge by indie pop standards with a total of 6 members. As a result their sound is fuller than most and besides the regular indie pop comparisons I could make (REM, any New Zealand band from the 80′s, or even the Cranberries) they’ve got a bit of a Beach Boys vibe.

They’ve got a split CD-R out now on Cloudberry here.

Just Too Soon

P.S. And completely unrelated (plus he’s from the UK) but I love the indie pop of Kevin McGrother.

Week of Wednesdays

“Peace And Quiet Is For Libraries” – Val Venosta

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Val Venosta has loosened up a bit and created their sunniest, most frothy and downright fun song to date. It’s called “Peace and Quiet Is For Libraries” and there is a video too!

Peace And Quiet

Swedish Summer Mix (Via The Lemur Blog)

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Thankfully not everyone is taking the summer off (like me!). The Lemur Blog has just uploaded one hell of a Swedish Summer Mix Tape. With tracks by Jonathan Johansson, Familjen, and The Sound Of Arrows it will surely light up your summer.

June Evenings – Air France
Holiday – The Tough Alliance