Archive for January, 2010

27 Songs From I’m From Barcelona – Song #2

Friday, January 29th, 2010

For the next 27 days or so I could easily have enough content to write about just from one album. The new one from I’m From Barcelona is called 27 Songs From I’m From Barcelona and it is just that. 27 songs from 27 artists in the I’m From Barcelona coop. Each day (starting a couple of days ago) the band will be releasing one song as a free download from the record. On Feb. 22 theoretically you’ll be able to go to the site and download the whole album.

This is a delightful concept and it circumvents the one problem the band could possibly encounter: that is big ego’s. Here’s the song that was released yesterday by Anna Fröderberg.

But Hey Even Though Your Horses Went Away

Good Morning June

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Good Morning June. I wish it were June, right now in Chicago it’s 6 degrees. These five guys from Stockholm are good friends with and are opening for Francis in the coming weeks. As a big fan of FGrancis I immediately put Good Morning June to the top of the pile. And good thing too. I like the bands mix of shoegaze with more traditional alt rock. The band’s lead singer is not afraid to stray into Radiohead/Coldplay-like falsetto. Although usually there’s a good deal of reverb added to the mix making the band slightly more experimental sounding. Here’s the song “Servant” from their upcoming debut EP:

Servant

Swirling pop of Staphan O’Bell – “On The Rooftop”

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Staphan O’Bell has released three new songs that can be downloaded via my new favorite digital service – Bandcamp. The songs are great examples of romantic swirling pop a la Rufus Wainwright. “On The Rooftop” is the song that struck me right off the bat. If this song is any indication than the forthcoming album from Staphan will be one to keep an eye out for.

Pay what you want for the first three songs off the forthcoming record here via BandCamp.

On The Rooftop

Instrumental music from Monogatari

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I’m usually all about the new. But this is not. In fact (at 2 years old) in internet time it’s a little off and already curdling. But I liked the sound of the band Monogatari. They do have an upcoming show on the 30th at Klubb tower of Songs in Malmö to plug and word is they are recording their new album.

Here’s the instrumental track “Monogatari Heart Betronik” from the band’s 2008 album It may have seemed like a sign of hope that the birds followed them out into the vastness of the open sea:

Monogatari Heart Betronic

The Most (video)

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Usually I don’t just post a video. But this one, of a song by the Umeä/Stockholm based band The Most, is good enough to stand alone. The song is perfectly crafted pop circa 1968. The video is well made with just the right amount of surreal images contrasting with sad puppy dog eyes of the female protagonists (plus a little Monty Python animation never hurt anybody).

This song is off the band’s limited edition vinyl EP Moderation In Moderation.

Bear Pilot

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Hey there,

Had a super busy long weekend. I’m back though. My inbox was full (of crap), but this little gem from Bear Pilot stood way out from eveyything else I heard. Bear Pilot is a guy from Lacrosse (but that doesn’t sway me one way or the other). Taken on their own this sampling from Bear Pilot shows promise.

I’ve been promised more songs soon. Stay tuned.

New Year, Same Problems

Bonus

Tears

Best Music in the World for January (Music Alliance Pact)

Friday, January 15th, 2010

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Catalina VinCaleidoscope
Catalina Vin is an Argentine-American singer and songwriter who started learning music at the age of seven. Genuine is her first album, in which her roots are reflected through eight indie-pop songs sung in both English and Spanish, with soft string and piano arrangements. Caleidoscope is one of our favourite tracks.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
SeekaeVoid
Ever since FBi Radio started broadcasting regularly some five years ago, Sydney’s independent music scene has flourished from the much-needed lifeblood and community support that the station provides. A lot of young musicians now have an alternative to Triple J to supplement their listening habits and this has encouraged the more experimental writers to pursue their own distinct sounds, knowing they will be played and heard. Seekae is the clear breakout band out of Sydney’s resurging experimental electronic music. With their abstract vocals and dreamy atmosphere they have earned their place as leaders of the city’s 2010 sound.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
CuruminVem Menina
Curumin is one of the biggest names of the contemporary independent music scene in Brazil. A drummer and singer, besides his solo work, he plays with artists such as Otto, Céu and Guizado. Vem Menina is a samba from his debut album, Achados e Perdidos, released in 2003. His latest album, Japan Pop Show, was released last year and shows his talent to compose funk, samba, rock and electronic songs.

CANADA: I(Heart)Music
Leif VollebekkQuebec
Some people hear Patrick Watson in Leif Vollebekk’s vocals. Others have compared his music to that of Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy. I’m not sure about the comparisons, but I know this: Vollebekk is an incredibly gifted performer and artist, and when his debut album, Inland, gets re-released in a few weeks on hot new Toronto label Nevado Records, all of Canada is going to find out just how talented he is.

CHILE: Super 45
De JaneirosMontreal
Milton Mahan and Pablo Munoz are De Janeiros, one of the most interesting projects in the Chilean experimental scene. In the trend of bands such as Health or Fuck Buttons – that kind of plastic and colorful noise – their sound goes beyond by adding a more playful and “tropical” feeling to it. Chilean net-label Michita Rex have made their sophomore album Plateado available to downloaded for free here.

CHINA: Wooozy
PK14Cuo Guo Le
PK14 is the best post-punk band in China. Formed in 1997, they have released five albums. Currently, they are preparing a new album to be release this year and they will attend SXSW in March.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
Cours LapinCache Cache
Cours Lapin is what happens when four movie score composers (Louise Alenius, Asger Baden, Peder and Jonas Struck) get together to do pop. Their name is French (translated as “bunny run”), their lyrics are in French (of course) and the French chanson is at the root of their mellow, melancholic pop that makes me think of black and white movies (and yes, they’re French).

ENGLAND: The Daily Growl
Thomas WesternYour Front Door
Last month I picked an Italian musician based in England for MAP – this time it’s the turn of an Englishman currently living in Scotland. Thomas Western’s bluesy/folky approach to songwriting is reminiscent of Elliott Smith or Bob Dylan, while his exquisite vocal range is pitched halfway between Tim and Jeff Buckley. Western moved from Derbyshire to Edinburgh last year to complete his university studies and Your Front Door is his masterpiece.

ESTONIA: Popop
UNCANDYLovecool
UNCANDY (and yes, it’s important to write it in capital letters) is multi-talented Maria Juur from Tallinn. Her home recordings have already created quite a buzz in the Estonian indie scene and rumour has it we won’t have to wait long for a debut album. She also records under the name Maria Minerva. Lovecool is featured on new Estonian indie compilation album, Kohalik Ja Kohatu 3.

FINLAND: Glue
VishnudataSilver Falls feat. Suho Superstar (radio edit)
Established in 2003, Vishnudata is a project by electronic dance music guru Ville Lankinen which explores the artist’s techno and house influences. Silver Falls is the closing track of his self-titled sophomore album and progressively it introduces the listener into a shiny ethereal atmosphere and psychedelic soundscape. This radio edit version, which features Suho Superstar on vocals, is included in a recently released EP along with three more remixes.

FRANCE: ZikNation
Ibrahim MaaloufSouma Hia
Born in Lebanon, Ibrahim Maalouf grew up in Paris and began studying the trumped at the age of seven. Ten years later he met Maurice André, who advised him to give up his mathematics studies to dedicate himself to music. Maalouf also had the opportunity to record a song with French singer Matthieu Chedid and this collaboration can be found in the very good Diachronism album. The track Souma Hia carries a great deal of energy.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Get Well Soon5 Steps / 7 Swords
Get Well Soon is the solo project of Konstantin Gropper, a classically trained singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Berlin. His soulful and sophisticated songs take the same path as the likes of Sufjan Stevens or Zach Condon. 5 Steps / 7 Swords is the first single release from second album Vexations.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Exposed By ObserversIn My Skin
Exposed By Observers aim to rape the listeners’ ears, yet are less faithfully wed to punk and more interested in dance-derived rhythms, deploying more tightly coiled riffs and distinctive beats than most screamo bands. Secondhand Youth EP, which was given away for free on their website, sounds like everything they’d ever heard, spewed out and rewired for a different type of moshpit etiquette, a brand new teenage riot. They frantically blend cheap samples, beatbox rhythms, clicks, bleeps, fringes, beeps and guitars with manic electro buzz and raw, squawking vocals. Unsurprisingly, there’s also a noticeable undercurrent of emo here too, but actually feels charged and compelling in the momentary tantrums of In My Skin. Listen loud!

ICELAND: I Love Icelandic Music
BloodgroupMy Arms
Bloodgroup was formed in 2006 by Halez, Lilja, Raggi and Janus during some boring winter days on the east coast of Iceland and they make catchy electronic dance-pop. Debut album Sticky Situation was released on the band’s own label, Sild Ehf, and got excellent reviews. Its follow-up, Dry Land, was released on the Record Records label last month. My Arms is their latest single.

INDIA: Indiecision
Seven DegreesShadows In The Dark
Seven Degrees is a boy-girl punk duo from New Delhi. This irreverent twosome produce angular, infectious punk that’s largely bare-boned yet crashy enough to cause a decent racket. Shadows In The Dark is part of a free compilation album called Stupid Stupid Stupid available on Indiecision. The song is a spiralling, old-school punk tribute that leaves you with the distinct feeling of wanting to get up and not be lazy anymore.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
SeringaiMengadili Persepsi (Bermain Tuhan)
Seringai are one of the finest Indonesian metal bands, often described as a blend of Motorhead and Black Sabbath. Their brilliant lyrics are a social critique of religious extremism, policies, domestic violence and sometimes just about stupid people.

IRELAND: Nialler9
I Am The CosmosRemembering You
Remembering You is a beautiful slice of broody 80s-inspired electronica buttressed on creaking synth stabs and high-pitched melodies. Its creator, Ross Turner, is known for his work behind the drum kit with various Irish bands but stepping out on his own here as I Am The Cosmos, he shows us what he can do in sole producer mode.

ITALY: Polaroid
Port-RoyalThe Photoshopped Prince
There was a blizzard here last week and I found myself listening again to this third album by Port-Royal. It was the perfect soundtrack. Shoegaze, IDM, electro and ambient influences blend together to build an epic soundscape. The Genoa-based quartet used to be on the renowned Resonant label and have worked with Ulrich Schnauss and made remixes for Ladytron and Felix Da Housecat. Now they’re back with a throbbing, intense, unpredictable, brimful of life new record.

JAPAN: JPOP Lover
Green BlossomsHana Akari
Green Blossoms are folky duo Aiko Koga and Anthony Guerra. Aiko sings and plays ukulele, Anthony plays the other instruments. They released their second album, Whiskey Leaves, on US-based Digitalis Recordings last summer. Hana Akari is beautiful, softly-intoned songwriting and its ghostly incantations will stick in the back of your mind.

MEXICO: Red Bull PanameriKa
The Hong Kong Blood OperaCansei De Ser Gangsta
The Mexican alternative scene recently witnessed the rise of a synthetic yet raw punk generation raiding the underground. A frenetic quintet from desertic Hermosillo stood out – The Hong Kong Blood Opera. A bloody opera? More like straight hardcore screaming evil and rough beats. The HKBO got sweaty teenagers shaking their guts and also blew the critics away when they won a nationwide competition sponsored by a monopolic corporation a few years ago. Instead of vanishing like every band from those schemes usually does, they reappeared with a remarkable album titled Not For The Faint Of Heart. The record breaks the rock-band-contest cliché and at the same time mocks the whole mediatic circus and abusive music industry models with killer singles like Cansei De Ser Gangsta.

NETHERLANDS: Amsterdam Event Guide
The Wooden ConstructionsNo No (Hip Hop)
Happy New Year from the Netherlands crew. We’ll kickstart 2010 with one of the most talked-about Amsterdam acts, The Wooden Constructions. Their tribal disco with punk-infused lyrics (which harness the confidence of Mark E. Smith) sit alongside their own blend of twangy guitars and driving rhythms. Their unique musical stylings and great live shows have got the city rather excited about what 2010 might offer for this band and the Amsterdam scene itself. Watch this space.

NEW ZEALAND: Counting The Beat
The Mint ChicksCrush
For three decades, Chris Knox has made some of New Zealand’s most exciting music – from the punk of The Enemy, Toy Love, virtually inventing the country’s indie music scene with four-track recordings of his band Tall Dwarfs and writing one of the nation’s most popular songs. Knox suffered a debilitating stroke last year and to aid his recovery many who have been influenced by him have contributed to an album of covers called Stroke. The roll call includes Jay Reatard, Stephen Merrit, Will Oldham, Lou Barlow and more. Crush, from The Tall Dwarfs’ 1984 EP Slug Bucket Hairy Breath Monster, is performed by The Mint Chicks, one of New Zealand’s most exciting bands.

NORWAY: Eardrums
Sacred HarpNext Time Too
Sacred Harp are a trio from Oslo who recently released their beautiful self-titled debut EP on the small Norwegian label The Perfect Hoax. Their music is quite difficult to describe because it’s so in the middle of everything. It’s dark, but there’s also a lot of light and colour in there. It’s experimental, but it’s also full of pop structures and lovely melodies. It’s sacral and calm, other times almost brutal. It’s music you just have to listen to. The members are from Norway, Finland and Holland, so they really fit the spirit of the Music Alliance Pact.

PERU: SoTB
La MenteLa Problema
In its wonderful fusion of tropical rhythms, reggae and psychedelic electronic models, La Mente has uncovered an inexhaustible source of energy and dynamism which beckons you onto the dancefloor. La Problema is a feast of total madness and one of the strongest songs from La Mente’s new album, Para Los Muertos Y Los Vivientes.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
MalcontentAggressive
Malcontent are a quartet from Oporto led by Sérgio Costa. When you listen to them you know their influences (The Jesus And Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails) and they don’t deny them. They started playing in 2007 and released several promo singles. Finally, they have their first full LP out, called Love The Gun, which the band self-released.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
AieveaJoy Of Life
Vlaicu Golcea and Electric Brother are two incredibly talented multi-instrument players. They combine conventional music with electronic beats and the creative rhythms of Tavi Scurtu, the drummer who juggles with sound. To an already great recipe, we add Marta Hristea’s incredible voice for the perfect nu-jazz experience. After a six-year pause, they’ve just released their second album, Cinema, which can be fully downloaded here.

SCOTLAND: The Pop Cop
GalleriesUnderground Overground
Galleries have only been in existence for a matter of months, yet the quality of the songs on their MySpace page can’t help but mark them out as a band whose reach is sure to extend much wider than the blogosphere. The Glasgow group is made up of three students and, interestingly, BBC political reporter Andrew Black on drums. The lush sounds of Underground Overground beautifully hints at their The National and Jimmy Eat World influences and is taken from Galleries’ forthcoming debut EP. It’s a MAP exclusive download so feel privileged that you’re getting to own it first.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
Sherene’s ClosetStereo Loud
Have we got a classic for you this month! Though now defunct, Sherene’s Closet is still very much celebrated in the Singaporean music scene. You might say it all started with this demo recorded during the now legendary Green Room Sessions, and I hear it’s a bit rarer than the LP version. This should be considered one of the best local songs ever recorded, owing to Gerald Stahlman’s stellar vocal delivery and the raw energy of the rest of the band.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Ashtray ElectricLia
“A quaint mixture consisting of three parts suburb and two parts platteland” make up the phenomenon that is Ashtray Electric. They combine delicate beats, heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies that lead to a rather fresh, unconventional sound, albeit one that gets your feet tapping. Lia has been compared to Editors and Interpol but Ashtray Electric bring a fresh new sound that has them at the forefront of the indie scene, and rightly so.

SOUTH KOREA: Indieful ROK
Apollo 18Warm
Last year Apollo 18 established themselves as one of the very best rock acts of Korea. Starting with a marvellous post-rock-oriented EP, an amazing album followed in which they experimented with hardcore, shoegaze and psychedelic elements. An international version of the first EP has just been released and before the end of the month it’ll be followed by instrumental rock pieces of a more playful kind. Re-recorded to magically sound even better than before, Warm is a stunningly beautiful post-rock piece of epic proportions best played as loud as possible.

SPAIN: Oscuro Magazine
2 Minuts d’OdiCuidad De Dios
2 Minuts d’Odi (“2 Minutes Of Hate”) are part of the “Brave Coast Punk-Rockers” movement which extends throughout the Costa Brava. Cuidad De Dios (“City Of God”) is a song against religion which speaks of the Palestinian problem and the bad influences that hatred and violence can have on a kid growing thirst for revenge.

SWEDEN: Swedesplease
Jenny BjörkqvistTo Heal Your Wounds
To Heal Your Wounds by Jenny Björkqvist is a song that successfully straddles the worlds of indie and folk – it would be as comfortable hanging out with Nick Drake or Jose Gonzalez as it would be spending time with Dylan or Guthrie. Friend and fellow neo-folkie Tim Schmidt contributes vocals on this track.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
Vikesh KapoorMack The Knife
Vikesh Kapoor is an up-and-coming acoustic artist, currently based near Boston, who writes ballads which draw their strength from storytelling-type lyricism. After making appearances in Billboard and The Boston Globe, Kapoor is releasing his Newspress Scare 7″ featuring this great rendition of the Kurt Weill-composed Mack The Knife.

VENEZUELA: Barquisimento
El PactoHyperdance En La Curva De San Pablo
El Pacto are music legends in the city of Barquisimeto. Since 1992, they have been devoted to merging rock, pop, jazz, ska and folk music in a sound so original and vanguardist, they have even influenced famous national bands like Amigos Invisibles. Their shows ususally include circus-like performances with actors and acrobats. Hyperdance En La Curva De San Pablo is taken from the album of the same name.

To download all 34 songs in one file click here

Exclusive first single from upcoming Francis album

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

I know it’s only Thursday but I can’t possibly hope for any more exclusive Swedish goodies so this will serve as the end of the week for Swedesplease. Here in all its glory is the new song from Francis. Not much info beyond that; this is off a forthcoming album recorded by Jakob Grundtman.

I like that this song combines the more torch song aspect of the band’s catalog with its more raucous careening live sound.

The band returns to North America in March:

Mar 10 2010 8:00P Canadian Music Fest Toronto, Ontario
Mar 17 2010 8:00P SXSW Austin, Texas

I Was Never Bored At All

Progjazzelectronica from Köntrar

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I haven’t been as intrigued with a particular sound since I first heard skweee (also the Swedish band The Imps). The mix of organic with electronic in the music of Köntrar is so unique and captivating that I’m speechless.

All this sound is produced by Linus Sundin Eriksson. Of course there’s no genre selected on his MySpace profile. What would you pick anyway – progjazzelectronica?!

Check out the band’s Myspace for a couple more songs.

Framåt-Bakat
Satan Näcken

Tim Scmidt – “Slower Things”

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I mentioned Tim Schmidt the other day in my post about Jenny Bjorkqvist and also back in May 2008. His debut solo record Slower Things is now finally available. It’s out now on the German label Analogsoul and can be purchased through iTunes or AMAZON here and here.

This song is a bonus track not on the album. Like the album title suggests these songs are meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Whether it’s just Tim and his acoustic guitar like on “Brighton Beach” or with a little more acompaniement like on “One Of Them Branches” the songs always unfold with quiet calm.

One Of Them Branches

“Brighton Beach” video

Shotgun Language (The Tallest Man On Earth meets Buddy Holly)

Monday, January 11th, 2010

This is d.i.y. all the way but like they say in the liner notes it’s strewn with emotions and a rough hewn honesty. Shotgun Language is Gustav Berry from Linköping.

This is not tight and this is not clean but it has something, it has nerve.
These songs don’t compile a record. This is a collection of work and songwriting, the first rough and honest expressions of songs – a couple of moments and feelings caught on tape.
This is nerve pt. I.

Through the use of home recording and a couple of nice retro guitars he is able to recreate that warm fuzzy sound of the 50′s. Here’s a nice sampling of his work. Look forward to the debut record from this exciting young swede.

Johnny Electric
I Ain’t Rough

P.S. Here are the technical details of the recording process for all you gearheads:

All things recorded at home on a Phillips Audio Visual D6920 tape recorder with the use of Fender Champion 600 amp, Berrycaster, Gretsch country gentleman, Hagström H45, Levin parlor 1933, Hagström kent tape echo, Hagström rymdklang reverb unit & Gold tone lapsteel

Jenny Björkqvist “To Heal Your Wounds”

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

The best compliment I can give to a song by a Swedish artist is to post their music on my other music blog Songs:Illinois. To be included on Swedesplease you’ve just got to be Swedish (naturally) and intriguing in some manner. But for Songs:Illinois playing the Swedish card gets you nowhere and intriguing is not good a enough for a blog that is reserved for featuring some of the best songs of our generation.

“To Heal Your Wounds” by Jenny Björkqvist is one such song. It successfully straddles the worlds of indie and folk; the song would be as comfortable hanging out with Nick Drake or Jose Gonzalez as it would be spending time with Dylan or Guthrie. Friend Tim Schmidt contributes vocals as well on this track.

Needless to say this song will be linked to from Songs:Illinois as well from Swedesplease today.

To Heal Your Wounds

**Best of 2009 Repost Series** Gothenburg’s Chuck Morgan

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

There are bigger names and more hyped artists from Sweden. But everything I’ve ever heard from Chuck Morgan makes me think he is one of the best unsigned artists in the world. What do you think?

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I don’t know if there’s a term for the sound of Chuck Morgan. The last post I did on this Gothenburg based troubadour tried to peg him as “romantic indie pop”. His new song, “The Best Of You”, continues that sound but adds even more electronic beeps and blips to the mix. So how about “romantica” for music that mixes emotion with electronics, love with bytes, and feelings with 1′s and 0′s?

I don’t know about you but I love this kind of stuff. And Chuck Morgan needs a little love, so please, if you have a music blog, a twitter account, a facebook page, a tumbler, or a Myspace please write about Chuck Morgan (feel free to steal my bandwidth and repost the link to his new song “The Best Of You”). Help out a truly “indie” artist and this truly “indie” blog and spread the word.

The Best Of You

**Best of 2009 Repost Series** DZR:P

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I like these guys. It’s hard to put into words though. They’ll never appear on any other “best of” lists of 2009 but that doesn’t bother me nor should it them.

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So I lied. Here’s my last post before vacation. How could I not post a link to the new song(s) from DZR:P? These guys are a little like the Eels before E got all that Shrek $$$ and sold out or like Beck before he thought he could be an electro funk r n b star. DZR:P is wonderfully odd and on these demos sings like he’s underwater or under a pile of used surgical gauze.

These demos are from an upcoming debut release from DZR:P.

Maybe Tonight
Simple Days For a Simple Man