December 23, 2010

Acoustic christmas songs (eight mp3s for download)

Enjoy some selected minimalist acoustic christmas tunes by Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience, Whitest Boy Alive), E (Eels) and more. I guarantee you peaceful Christmas atmosphere if you fire up this playlist at medium to low volume on your living room stereo. Happy holidays, everyone!

mp3: Erlend Øye - Last Christmas

mp3: E - Everything 's Gonna Be Cool This Christmas

mp3: Mew - She Came Home For Christmas (acoustic version)

mp3: Coldplay - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

mp3: Seabear - We Like Winterclothes

mp3: Arcade Fire - Jingle Bell Rock

mp3: Okkervil River - Listening To Otis Redding At Home During Christmas

mp3: The Magnetic Fields - Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree

mp3: Uusi Fantasia feat. Eirik Bøe - Barefoot not Naked

My favorite musicians from Finland, electronica trio Uusi Fantasia, recently finally realeased a long overdue follow-up to their fantastic (and brutally underappreciated) 2004 debut Top Ten. The new album is titled Heimo and came out last month. Just like the debut album it's filled with chillout / jazz inspired electronica, but with a few more radio friendly and poppish tracks this time around. One of my favorite tracks is 'Barefoot Not Naked', a collaboration featuring Kings of Convenience's Eirik Glambæk Bøe. A long time friend of Uusi Fantasia, Bøe adds both his soft vocals and his characteristic acoustic guitar play to the track, which ends up as the best (but also only) Norwegian-Finnish song I've heard to date. The voice of Kings of Convenience's Erlend Øye worked really well with Röyksopp's chillout electronica classic Melody AM (2001), and bandmate Bøe suits the similar-sounding Uusi Fantasia landscape perfectly as well. (Check out Bøe's appearance on Cornelius' 2006 album Sensuous for another example of how well his vocals go with chillout electronica).
December 16, 2010

Holiday song from Beach House

mp3: Beach House - I Do Not Care for the Winter Sun

Beach House have had a very successful year. Their third LP, Teen Dream, has and reaped much more critical acclaim, and reached out to much larger masses of people, than their first two albums cold ever dream of. It's featured in many end of year lists as one of 2010's essential records, and I ranked it as my fourth favorite album of the year. Now the band is giving back to its fans, and just announced via Twitter:

We wrote a holiday song for you, thanks for the great year!

The pleasure has been all mine, Beach House. Download the song (it's really good!) via the link above, or via Beach House's official website.

mp3: Asobi Seksu - Trails

James Hanna and Yuki Chikudate of NYC duo Asobi Seksu have given the world the first taste of their forthcoming fourth LP, Fluorescence. Judging by 'Trails', the band has left the honey glazed dream pop sound of 2009's Hush behind, and returned to a rougher shoegaze sound again. On this song, they're so My Bloody Valentine, and I'm loving it!
December 14, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #10 - #1

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#10 - #1

10. MGMT - Congratulations
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: It's Working, Someone's Missing, Flash Delirium, Congratulations

mp3: MGMT - Congratulations

MGMT bashing has been all the rage across the Internet all year long, but I'm not one of the fans who hated the sophomore record. In fact, I think it's fantastic! To be fair, though, the band did bring the bashing onto themselves: After scoring the absolutely massive radio hit 'Kids', and packing their debut album full of equally danceable and dangerously addictive tunes, such as 'Electric Feel' and 'Time to Pretend', the two psychedelica-electropop-new wave-disco playing Brooklyn hipsters dressed in 60s hippie clothing were expected to continue their safe success formula, but it seems like they decided not to out of pure stubbornness. Instead, they threw away all late 70s new wave and disco influences, and instead started playing music that matched their clothing: vintage 60s hippie psychedelic rock with organic instruments. Not only did they change their sound, they also seemed to write songs with a strong focus on the fixed goal of never producing another hit song again. A friend of mine who went to Coachella this year reported that MGMT apparently flatly refused to play 'Kids', even after their fans begged them to do so. They seemed to have reached a position where they felt they could do whatever they wanted, and they decided to don't worry too much about the reactions from their fans.

While Congratulations isn't terribly unaccessible or experimental, it definitely isn't an album with any catchy radio material either. The songs are more progressive, and often straight-out weird, and quite impossible to dance to. The amazing second track 'Someone's Missing' builds up and builds up, nearing something that could have become a danceable, euphoric climax and then … just ends. Right there. 'Flash Delirium' takes us through a jungle maze of ever-changing melodies and rhythms and styles, in a freakish several-songs-in-one-experience that ends up close in style to Beatles tracks like 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun', or close MGMT friends of Montreal's 2007 album Skeletal Lamping (I never understood all the bashing of the latter, either - I loved the unstable songs, the rapid mood and melody changes and general schizophrenia throughout the album, and think is underrated in the same way as Congratulations). In the album closing and title track, MGMT manage fine without the synthesizers of the first album, and the flutes and horns and I-don't-know-what of 'Flash Delirium', and deliver the album's finest track with few more instruments to rely on than an acoustic guitar. With their immense talent, they can pull that sort of thing off easily. They're capable of catchy pop songs as well as progressive and semi-experimental rock, of bombastic synth as well as modest acoustic guitars, and this year they've proven this to the entire world.

9. Janelle Monáe - The ArchAndroid
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Faster, Tightrope (Feat. Big Boi), Oh Maker, Mushrooms & Roses, Make The Bus (Feat. Of Montreal)

Monáe's sound is said to be 'futuristic', but to me, she's more of a time traveller, revisiting all kinds of ages, including the future. For the charismatic singer's amazing debut LP, she serves us a concept album that refuses to limit itself to any single genre or style, taking us both forward and back in time through 70s rock and Jackson-esque funk pop, contemporary R&B, classic soul, futuristic soul-punk and afrofuturism, and more. The concept album tells the science-fiction tale of a Messias-like android called Cindi Mayweather, Monáe's alter ego, in the city of Metropolis. From the ridiculously addictive guitar riff of 'Faster' to the slow ballad 'Sir Greendown''s excellent showcasing of Monáe's incredible voice, to the absolute pop genius and funky horns of 'Tightrope', to the long prog-rock guitar solos and robotic voice filter on 'Mushrooms & Roses', the album is a true masterpiece filled with so many excellent ideas, so much sprawling creativity, such limitless artistic inspiration, and such rare flat-out refusal to confinement into any single musical style, that I really end up with nothing more to say than: The ArchAndroid can't be explained. Give it a listen, now.

8. Broken Bells - Broken Bells
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: The High Road, October, The Mall & Misery

mp3: Broken Bells - The Mall & Misery

I absolutely loved Beck's new sound on Modern Guilt (2008), which I believe he owed much to Danger Mouse's excellent production work. When I first heard that The Shins' James Mercer were to collaborate with Danger Mouse on a new project, I was very excited - another ingenious alternative rock songwriter and beloved artist of mine was to team up with Danger Mouse and his pop production skills! While Mercer kept almost exclusively within the confines of mellow acoustic pop on the first two Shins albums, he carefully explored entirely new soundscapes on the third album Wincing The Night Away (2007), like on the excellent opener 'Sleeping Lessons'. With Broken Bells, he seems to have let himself even more free to explore new styles and sounds thanks to the different project name. Mercer's always-present characteristic voice does give us a constant reminder that this is in some ways is the next Shins album, but this is something more than just a Mercer project: while the Shins is a project that revolves around him, with him writing all the songs and playing them with an ever-changing backing band, the songwriting on Broken Bells was a true collaboration, a two-man effort. Listening to the album gives you the impression that the two great songwriters truly had fun working together. The meeting of the mastermind who wrote 'New Slang' and the mastermind who wrote 'Crazy' has resulted in one of 2010's most fresh-sounding and catchy pop albums.

7. Foals - Total Life Forever
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Miami, Spanish Sahara, This Orient

Foals' 2008 debut album Antidotes was an intense three-quarter hour of fast-paced and danceable post-punk-esque music in the same alley as, for instance, early Bloc Party. This year's follow-up Total Life Forever is much more introverted, slower and my opinion actually much better. Emotional ballads like 'Spanish Sahara' and '2trees' show a new and more mature side of the band, but tracks like 'Miami', with its addictive riff, still gives us something to dance to. From the mood-setting and perfect opener, 'Blue Blood', to the anthemic chorus of 'This Orient', Foals show that they're something much more than just another hip, danceable post-punk band out to score a few hits in the world's indie club dance floors. My top ten is almost completely dominated by North American bands, but Foals manage to save Europe's honor, and released what in my opinion is one of the disappointingly few really interesting British records this year. The Brits seem to give the band the recognition it deserves: UK magazines NME and The Fly recently crowned Total Life Forever sixth best and best album of the year, respectively.

6. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Home, You Wanted A Hit, All I Want, Dance Yrself Clean

On his third and allegedly final album as LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy gives us another hour of pure dance floor gold. Beats that make you want to dance and wry hipster poetry that make you chuckle - it's LCD Soundsystem like we've learn to love it, and Murphy doesn't give any impression of having 'lost his edge' yet - quite the contrary. The opener 'Dance Yrself Clean' initially just slowly builds up, until about 3 minutes into the track, when it explodes into a floor-filling dance track. The album never looses steam from that point, and takes its 00s dance formula through clear 70s and 80s influences such as David Bowie ('Drunk Girls'), Iggy Pop ('All I Want') and The Talking Heads ('Pow Pow') before it climaxes in the mind-blowing ending track 'Home' - which I honestly think is the best song Murphy's ever written. Through almost 8 minutes, the track's hypnotizing beats and Murphy's voice guides us through everything that's great about LCD Soundsystem. Please, Murphy, don't let this final track be the very final track! Thankfully, new statements by Murphy towards the end of the year indicated that the LCD Soundsystem project may live on somehow after all.

5. Eels - End Times
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: End Times, Little Bird, On My Feet, In My Younger Days

mp3: Eels - In My Younger Days

Mark Oliver "E" Everett actually released two new Eels album this year, within just about a half year. Just for this unique case, I needed to invent a special rule for my end-of-year list: No more than one album per artist. Deciding which one of the two albums to choose was easy, however - while August's Tomorrow Morning was quite good too, I still think January's End Times is vastly superior. On previous Eels albums, frontman Mark 'E' Everett has dealt with sad topics such as death and suicide with his melancholic, but still uplifting, wry tongue-in-cheek lyrics, combined with beautiful and addictive melodies. On End Times, the topic for his lyrics is one that he quite rarely explores: love. And, more specifically - unhappy love. The recipe is the same as before, however: His frank and sad tale of the woman he loves leaving him is peppered up with his trademark talent for funny everyday observations. As when he in the title track describes an encounter with a crazy guy standing on the corner of the street shouting 'End Times Are Near' - while everyone else ignores him, E for once agrees with the poor guy - his woman is gone, so he also feels like "end times are here". On several track on the album, E is in my opinion back to songwriting on the same level of excellence as on the Eels' golden age of 1998-1999, where the two masterpieces Electro-Shock Blues and Daisies of the Galaxy were released back-to-back. E has a lot on his mind again this time around, and he presents it in an unpretentious and direct way.

4. Beach House - Teen Dream
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Silver Soul, Norway, Walk in the Park, 10 Mile Stereo

Baltimore duo Beach House left the modest, toned-down, lo-fi indie sound of their first two records behind, and are on this third record strutting with confidence and a new high-production, polished pop sound. Singer Victoria Legrand also seems to sing with a stronger and more confident voice than ever before. I have no doubts where the confidence of the band comes from - they're written their best album by far, and they know it. It kicks off with no less than four amazing pop songs - the sequence of 'Zebra', 'Silver Soul', 'Norway' and 'Walk In The Park' is one of the strongest and most impressive album openings you could imagine. Towards the album, the high-soaring, anthemic and haunting '10 Mile Stereo' presents us with an almost shoegaze-esque wall of sound, and is the definite proof of departure from the toned-down lo-fi music Beach House was known for in the past. Teen Dream is by far the band's biggest success so far, and they've reached tons of new fans worldwide – the proof of which I could see with my own eyes at the two live shows I saw with them this year (in February and July), which were both packed. I can't wait to see how the band follows up this exciting breakthrough album!

3. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: The Suburbs, Modern Man, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), We Used To Wait

For their hugely acclaimed third album, Arcade Fire left the pompous church organs and the political messages of Neon Bible behind, and returned to their childhood for inspiration again. Lyrics-wise, they once again have a clearly defined theme (Funeral's was death, Neon Bible was church and state): memories about growing up in the suburbs. Musically, however, they're everywhere - and so many places they've never set their foot on before. 'Month Of May' is the most straightforward rock song ever, and on 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)' they've moved further than ever from the organic retro sound that made them famous, and fully indulge in electronic disco beats. An Arcade Fire song with pumping bass that you could play right between two eurodance tracks at a party without anyone noticing? Welcome to 2010.

The title track's melody is so good that I don't care that the band used it for two separate tracks, only altering the tune's pace and lyrics. The only other example I can remember of that idea working was on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, where they in the exact same manner revisited the title and opening track's melody for less than two minutes towards the end of the album. Yes, there I did it - I made the Sgt. Pepper comparison. But judging by the almost exclusively positive feedback on this album, and the fact that Arcade Fire have managed a second time to make a hugely successful follow-up album to an outrageously hyped predecessor, and with the Arcade Fire fever's end nowhere near in sight after their seventh year in mainstream spotlight, I no longer think it's unlikely that their songs will still be remembered decade after decade from now on, much like the Beatles'.

2. of Montreal - False Priest
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: You Do Mutilate?, I Feel Ya Strutter, Enemy Gene, Sex Karma

mp3: of Montreal - Sex Karma

I've already covered this album extensively, and have declared my love for it in oh so many ways through the past few months. If you read Norwegian, head over to my very long review here. If you're not too fluent in Norwegian, try this automatic translation of the same review, courtesy of Google Translate - and get a good laugh, if nothing else. Here's an alternate version of one False Priest's best songs (although the whole album has nothing but strong tracks):

On the album, Kevin Barnes sing this track in duet with the 9th place artist on my list - Janelle Monáe.

1. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: World Sick, All to All, Romance to the Grave, Sweetest Kill

mp3: Broken Social Scene - Romance to the Grave

The Canadian indie collective returned with their first proper record in five years. In the last five years, the careers/projects of several key members, notably Feist and the members of Metric and Stars, took off so completely that they're no longer able to make time in their busy schedules to contribute fully to Broken Social Scene anymore. The result: Broken Social Scene has shrinked to a band of no more than six core members. This could have made their latest effort more tame compared to their previous release, the loud and massive self-titled 2005 album, but I honestly don't think it shows - the two de facto frontmen of the band Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning truly are on top of their game on this record, and the two talented musicians' main project is Broken Social Scene and Broken Social Scene only. Opening track 'World Sick' is as massive and 'epic' in its sound as any of the most memorable BSS classics, and on tracks like 'Sweetest Kill' Drew's songwriting shines as bright as ever, spilling his guts to us with his typical frank, direct and touching lyrics. I managed to catch Broken Social Scene live in May, and the enthusiastic 9-piece live band gave me the impression that they were truly enjoying playing together, and that we can expect many more years of new BSS material. The rumors of BSS's death that floated around during the band's 5-year hiatus were definitely nothing but rumors.

December 13, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #16 - #11

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#16 - #11

15. Young The Giant - Young The Giant
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: My Body, Cough Syrup, I Got

Very promising debut album from energetic indie rockers, reminiscent of the debuts of artists such as Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and The Strokes. Read more, or watch the video for my favorite song:

14. Jónsi - Go
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: Kolniður, Hengilás, Boy Lilikoi

Sigur Rós' vocalist Jónsi is way too happy these days to make melancholic, dark and dramatic post-rock, it seems. We could already sense this in the band's 2008 album Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, which was much more upbeat and cheerful than before, only occasionally diving into Jónsi's trademark melancholy. When he released his debut solo album this year, the recipe was exactly the same: happier and more fast-paced music. Turning solo also allowed him to explore several things that were harder to do under the Sigur Rós moniker, namely a complete overhaul of instruments and soundscape, and singing in English instead of Iceland or 'Hopelandic'. Check out the beautiful unofficial video for Kolniður below. It's basically shamelessly copying the style of Sigur Rós' Heima DVD, but I don't care - slow images of picturesque landscapes is what still works the best together with Jónsi's magical voice.

My favorite Jónsi song of 2010 is however not on this album! Check out the almost painfully beautiful 'Icicle Sleeve', a song that for some unfathomable reason didn't make the album, but has been played live on this year's tour:

mp3: Jónsi - Icicle Sleeve (live)

13. Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Some Kind of Nature, On Melancholy Hill, Plastic Beach, Empire Ants

mp3: Gorillaz - Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon)

Damon Albarn and his many friends jump from genre to genre in this very eclectic album that just about anyone can find something they enjoy on. Hip hop legend, 60s/70s alternative rocker, and Swedish-Japanese indietronica singer - an amazingly diverse mixture of artists joined in on Albarn's project this time around, and contributed with their vocals. If you've ever found yourself at a party with a diverse musical crowd in 2010, you'll know that Plastic Beach has the rare gift of bringing together the indie kids, the electronica purists and the hip hoppers in front of the stereo, singing along to the lyrics in peaceful unison. This album is so full of hit material that it's hard to pick any favorite tracks - from the amazing buildup of electronica track 'Empire Ants', to Lou Reed's incredibly cool and nonchalant rapping on 'Some Kind of Nature', there are too many great moments to choose from. But I do know that this is the video I'll always remember this album for, and also that this is the song that will always come to my mind first when I think about the spectacular Gorillaz show I saw this summer:

12. Röyksopp - Senior
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Senior Living, The Alcoholic, The Drug

mp3: Röyksopp - The Alcoholic

For their fourth album, the Norwegian electronica duo went back to their roots - instrumental and atmospheric chillout music. After two albums of vocal heavy electro pop, they returned to their debut album's magical and at times even eerie soundscapes. The latter dominated on this year's album, as it's apparently inspired by darkness, drugs and … senior citizens. Read more, or check out the mesmerizing video for 'The Drug':

11. Vampire Weekend - Contra
//Country: US
//Favorite tracks: Horchata, Holiday, Cousins, White Sky

Ah, the sophomore album - it's never an easy task, and as for indie phenomenas MGMT and Vampire Weekend, we saw two very different approaches this year. While I very much respected MGMT's decision to not just follow the same formula as on their very hyped debut album, with the high risk of disappointing their fans by failing to re-create the debut's magic, I equally respect Vampire Weekend for just giving it a shot - and actually succeeding! The 2007 self-titled debut included lesson after lesson in magical pop song writing, with afropop rhythms that never tried to hide its very obvious strong Paul Simon influences. This year's album includes … exactly the same. And the same number of unforgettable songs. Check out my favorite song now:

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#20 - #16

20. Nóra - Er Einhver Að Hlusta?
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: Opin Fyrir Morði, Sjónskekkja, Skóflaðu Mér

Nóra's five multi-instrumentalists don't only play an impressive amount of different instruments on their debut album, they also wander through an impressively large number of styles. The male vocalist Egill and the female vocalist, his sister Auður, take us through ambitious Arcade Fire-style theatrical-sounding indie, Belle and Sebastian-sounding modest twee, a dark Radiohead-esque song, Nordic folk music and more through the album's fifty minutes of playful Icelandic pop. Download one of my favorite songs now:

mp3: Nóra - Opin Fyrir Morði

19. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks:Take It In, One Life Stand

While I feel that Hot Chip's latest effort in some was a disappointment compared to 2008's amazing Made In The Dark, it is still one of the albums I enjoyed the most this year. When the band released 'One Life Stand' as a preview track in late 2010, I got really hyped - while the track name surely is dorky, and the lyrics as well, they're both so incredibly and unresitably sweet. Hot Chip's short, geeky and shy front figure Alexis Taylor has always seemed like a major romantic to me. When I worked as backstage crew at a Hot Chip concert once, my suspicions were confirmed: I didn't find a wrecked backstage area afterwards, and no signs of wild partying with the local groupies - I found a clean and tidy room with a neat table with nothing to dispose of but a few burnt-out candles, as Taylor apparently had spent a romantic and relaxing evening backstage with his wife, who he of course had brought along abroad.

The whole album is chock full of warm declarations of love the title track's, but at the first listen, I didn't find any tracks that could match the title track's brilliance - until I reached the very end. After a few less convincing tracks, the album ends on the ingenious 'Take It In' - which is not only perfect album closer, but in my opinion also possibly the best song in Hot Chip's entire career. I continued listening to the album, and it grew on me more and more through time. After almost a whole year constantly on my iPod, 'Take It In' still feels as powerful, as fresh and as perfect as when I first heard it. Download it now, and you'll see what I'm talking about:

mp3: Hot Chip - Take It In.

18. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Something Good Can Work, I Can Talk, Eat That up, It's Good for You

Uncomplicated, danceable and uplifting indie rock that any fan of bands like Phoenix, The Wombats or early Bloc Party will appreciate. Read more, or just watch the video below :

17. Holy Fuck - Latin
//Country: Canada
//Favorite tracks: Red Lights, Silva & Grimes, Latin America

Holy Fuck is lo-fi electronic music with no programmed elements, that feels like some sort of danceable electronic post-rock. Latin's their third album, and possibly their most intense one yet. Read more, or just check out the epic video for 'Latin America' below, which includes live footage, a video diary of the band exploring Japan, and very sweet lightning and color effects:

16. Seabear - We Built A Fire
//Country: Iceland
//Favorite tracks: I'll Build You A Fire, In Winter's Eyes, Wolfboy

The Icelandic folk-ish indie poppers return with a sophomore album that mostly revisits the themes, moods and soundscapes of the first. But on some tracks, electric guitars and drums are given a bigger presence than on the very acoustic first album. To me, this has been the perfect album for slow and relaxing Saturday/Sunday mornings, and it's filled with charming and soothing songs that are impossible to dislike. Seabear should be checked out by any fan of fellow countrymen múm's later and more poppy albums. Check out the colorful and beautiful little video for 'I'll Build You a Fire':

December 10, 2010

My Top 25 albums of 2010: #25 - #21

My Top 25 albums of 2010:
#25 - #21

25. Yeasayer - Odd Blood
//Country: USA
//Favorite tracks: Ambling Alp, Madder Red

In the beginning of 2010, Yeasayer returned. Still experimental and weird, yet more accessible than before. This is one of my favorite videos of this year, and it gives anyone new to Yeasayer a good indication of how wonderfully strange Odd Blood is:

24. Best Coast - Crazy For You
//Country: USA
//Favorite tracks: Boyfriend, Crazy For You, Each And Everyday

Bittersweet indie pop about the female vocalist's heartaches - this debut album naturally appealed a lot to me, being a big fan of Camera Obscura (who released one of my favorite albums of 2009). But while being thematically close sometimes, Best Coast goes for a rough and fast-paced surf-rock sound, miles away from Camera Obscura's slow twee. This is simple, straightforward but magical pop music, and hard to dislike.

mp3: Best Coast - Boyfriend

23. Kele - The Boxer
//Country: UK
//Favorite tracks: Tenderoni, Everything You Wanted

On his solo debut, the Bloc Party vocalist finally took the final step towards a completely electronic sound. Read more

22. Casiokids - Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Fot I Hose, Finn Bikkjen!, En Vill Hest

The Polyvinyl signed oddball electro pop band from Norway finally invaded the US this year. Read more

21. Senera Maneesh - No 2: Abyss In B Minor
//Country: Norway
//Favorite tracks: Blow Yr Brains In The Mourning Rain, Reprobate!

Big and beautiful noise. Read more

mp3: of Montreal - I Was A Landscape In Your Dream (Grizzly Bear remix)

mp3: Grizzly Bear - Boy From School (Hot Chip cover)

It's winter again, it's starting to get ridiculously cold again, and once again I'm turning to Grizzly Bear. Where I live, it's been creeping down to 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit / minus 16 degrees Celcius recently, and most of all I just feel like crawling down into some warm place and hibernate until spring, bear style. Since I'm not able to do that, however, turning to the slow and warming sounds of the four Brooklyn bears once more is a good second option.

You've probably all heard the band's three studio albums that are playing on repeat on my speakers these days, but I thought I'd share two rarer tracks with you today. Both are Grizzly Bear doing beautiful interpretations of songs by two of my other favorite bands. In the first, they turn one of the most easily overlooked tracks from of Montreal's most overlooked album into an amazingly atmospheric and layered little beauty, perfectly juxtaposing the soft Barnes vocals of the minimalist original with lush Grizzly Bear-esque soundscapes. In the second, they turn one of Hot Chip's very best, the electronic and synth-driven - and strangely uplifting - Boy From School, into a melancholic and mostly acoustic piece that relies almost exclusively on the beautiful and strong vocals, rather than electronic beat.

Hope you'll enjoy them! And continue to enjoy (or perhaps even discover or rediscover?) Grizzly Bear.
November 24, 2010

New Feist song: Don't Make Me Wait

mp3: Doug Paisley (with Feist) - Don't Make Me Wait

Doug Paisley's album Constant Companion, which came out last month, features Feist on the above song.

Feist's new documentary film Look at What The Lights Did Now has recently been screening on an obscurely small number of cinemas across the world, but according to her website it will be released as a DVD in stores December 6th in Europe and December 7th in North America, with a bonus CD. I'm honestly excited about absolutely any new material from this lady, so I'm looking forward to it.
October 18, 2010

Kele (from Bloc Party) has taken a break from guitars

The career development and evolution of musical style that Bloc Party's Kele has gone through is pretty much a typical nightmare scenario for lo-fi enthusiasts or any strict rock fan who frowns upon drum machines and electronic beats. While Bloc Party's promising earlier EPs and classic debut Silent Alarm saw them mostly wander in rough, unpolished post-punk landscapes driven by dirty guitar solos/riffs, the band took a turn towards slick studio production in the sophomore album Weekend in the City. Then, in the stand-alone singles Flux and One More Chance, and the third and final studio album Intimacy, Kele's growing love for danceable club music made the band delve deeper and deeper into electronic music.

Many old fans were disappointed by this turn, as so many of these all-electronic synth-driven tracks made a total waste of the incredible guitar skills of lead guitarist Russel Lisack, which arguably was one of the band's major trademarks in the early period of their career. While I can agree with those missing Lissack's soaring guitar solos, I for one actually really enjoy Kele's electronic material. It makes a lot of sense that Bloc Party now have (de facto) disbanded (they've officially been on hiatus for about a year) and that Kele has started up an electronic solo project, while Russel Lisack's makes use of his guitar skills on, among other things, Ash's live shows.

Above, you can download two of my favorite danceable electronic Bloc Party tracks, plus another two tracks from Kele's solo album that are stylistically quite close.

Kele's The Boxer came out back in June this year.
Hello internet, here is some electronic dance music I am currently fond of.

//// German DJ Dennis Kaun, also known as Kaos, makes cold sounding but somehow still uplifting electro/house music that takes you right to the clubs of his native Berlin. Both of these tracks are a few years old, but I didn't discover him properly before now, and you shouldn't miss out either!

mp3: Kaos - Lessons In Love (feat. Erlend Øye)

mp3: Kaos - Cerebral Tremolo (Brennan Green Edit)

//// Another German artist, Digitalism is a duo from Hamburg, which together with Berlin is one of Germany's major electronic music hubs. The Daft Punk influenced duo rose to international fame with their 2007 debut album Idealistic, which has been described as 'dance punk' or 'house-rock hybrid'. Their debut was very innovative and fresh sounding, and one of my favorite electronic albums of all time, so I was very excited when they released a new track to the internet earlier this week. Unfortunately 'Blitz Trailer' is literally just a 'trailer' to their upcoming EP, but it still makes me hungry for more. Download it below, and also check out two older tracks if you're new to these Hamburgers.

mp3: Digitalism - Blitz Trailer

mp3: Digitalism - Idealistic

mp3: Digitalism - Pogo (Shinichi Osawa Remix)

//// Holy Fuck is a quite unusual electronic band, with highly progressive songs that fall somewhere between post-rock and electronica in their sound. While Digitalism merge Electronica with the beats of danceable indie rock bands, Holy Fuck pushes electronica towards soundscapes closer to bands like Godspeed You Black Emperor. Another band to emerge from the booming alternative music scene of 00s Toronto, Canada, the members of Holy Fuck of course are intertwined with the other alternative music artists of the city that we have covered so extensively in this blog, most notably Broken Social Scene. BSS producer Dave Newfeld also produced Holy Fuck's debut album, and band member Brian Borcherdt used to play in By Divine Right, a Toronto band who also counts (Broken Social Scene's) Brendan Canning and Leslie Feist to its former members.

mp3: Holy Fuck - Silva & Grimes

//// Norwegian dance-synthpop-band The New Wine (which I most recently covered a month ago) just released their debut album in their home country, and are aiming to internationally release their blend of guitars, funky bass lines and retro Nintendo-esque samples sometime around new year's. Check out the track 'Words on Fire', which in the band's own words is one of the album's "more clubby/dancy songs".

mp3: The New Wine - Words on Fire
October 1, 2010

Ma Ma Mashup Mix Fever

Todays song is created by producer Norweigan Recycling. This mashup contains over 16 different songs from artsts like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Micheal Jackson and Cee-Lo. All miss,mix,&matched and stitched back together into this beautiful mashup.

The song is called "Miracles" and takes its biggest samples from Micheal Jackson, but it goes all over the place and has a great sound quality.

While generally not a huge fan of mash-ups, this song has it's own appeal for its sheer size, artist selection, and decadent feel.

September 23, 2010

Eels videos from Tomorrow Morning

Yesterday, Eels released the second music video from their latest album, Tomorrow Morning. The new video, for 'Baby Loves Me', has a really quirky and low-budget feel to it, a big contrast to the high-production and completely awesome video they released for 'Spectacular Girl' back in July. You can watch them both out below, and be sure to check out the whole new album - I personally think it's the best music (frontman) E has made in years.

What a guy.

mp3: Eels - Baby Loves Me

An unusual Eels video, but possibly one of my all-time favorites from the band's 15-year career. Love the combination of the songs innocent lyrics/sound and the video's plot.

mp3: Eels - Spectacular Girl
September 22, 2010

Video: Animal Collective - Bluish

Animal Collective just released a (belated) official video for 'Bluish', one of my all-time favorite songs by the band. 'Bluish' is from their highly acclaimed 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavillion, and this very trippy video in my opinion matches the psychedelic sound of the album perfectly.

mp3: Animal Collective - Bluish

The lyrics are simply beautiful. Try giving this stripped-down acoustic cover a listen, and this fact will probably become even more apparent to you:

mp3: Sondre Lerche - Bluish (cover)
September 15, 2010

Two slow remixes

mp3: Broken Social Scene - All To All (Spirit If Remix By Kevin Drew & Ohad Benchetrit)

mp3: Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (Eat More Cake Remix)

Turn down the lights, take it easy and enjoy these two chillout remixes. Eat More Cake are a four-piece electronica band from London, here doing a very sweet take on Stardust's 1998 French house classic. Kevin Drew and Ohad Benchetrit are two of the many members of supergroup Broken Social Scene, and here they add their personal touch to one of my favorite tracks off their own band's latest album, Forgiveness Rock Record.

Here are the two originals:

Classic music video that takes me right back to elementary school.

Cute and minimalistic live performance.
September 9, 2010

K.C. Purposely

I already did a post about K.C. Accidental, but with Arts & Crafts re-releasing the albums, I figured I would post a song from the same EP/part I referenced before.

mp3: Silverfish Eyelashes

A song with a lot of build-up, and it's rather long. It's definitely worth it though. There's a reason these two essentially spawned an entire generation of relationships and music that is Broken Social Scene, Arts & Crafts, and all the various bands and histories of each of its members and collaborators.

Enjoy, and try to see them live if you get the chance. An amazing show. Buy their album and a t-shirt!
September 7, 2010

Three new releases

mp3: The New Wine - Delete, Rewind

Norwegian synthpoppers The New Wine (I previously covered them here and here) finally came out with new material in Norway yesterday, the single-track digital release 'Delete, Rewind'. The band will be touring Norway in October and Europe in November. It is unfortunately still unknown when they will start releasing material outside Norway, and also when their fabled debut album - which they reported recording in studio back in May - will finally be out. Good to hear something new from them though, and it makes me hungry for more!

mp3: Röyksopp - The Alcoholic

I posted the first small tastes of Röyksopp's fourth album, Senior a month ago, and now the release date is just around the corner: September 13th is the day the acclaimed Norwegian electronica duo's new all-instrumental concept album is officially released. I've had the chance to listen through Senior in its entirety, and I must say it's definitely darker and less accessible than last year's radio-friendly Junior (the best way to experience the new album, the two musicians suggest, is 'in a dark room with an opium pipe in your hand'), but ultimately much better. Check out my favorite track, 'The Alcoholic'.

mp3: of Montreal - Enemy Gene

Another much-anticipated album that comes out next week is False Priest, the tenth studio album by Athens, GA based indiepop eccentrics of Montreal (out September 14th). Two months ago, I wrote about my anticipations for the album after having heard the first leaked track, 'Coquet Coquette'. Back then, I was puzzled by how the album was supposedly going to be very r&b and funk influenced, while 'Coquet Coquette' really sounded like one of their more straightforward indie rock tracks. Now, after having given False Priest ten listens, the answer is clear: 'Coquet Coquette' is really just an exception, and not representative of the album's style at all. In of Montreal's manic-depressive catalogue, False Priest is the manic answer to the depressive Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer: a hyperactively manic, upbeat, funky and flamboyant affair with an ever present pumping bass and high falsetto throughout its 53 minute playtime. Beyoncé's younger sister Solange Knowles as well as close of Montreal friend Janelle Monáe make wonderful vocal contributions to the album and not only make the whole 'indie pop turned r&b' concept work, but actually seem quite sincere too. Check out the track 'Enemy Gene' featuring Monáe, or read my blog entry about her previous collaboration with of Montreal.
September 6, 2010

Young the Giant

mp3: Young the Giant - My Body

My body tells me no / but I won't quit / I want more!

I'm hooked to this track - so energetic, raw and catchy. Young The Giant are a quintet from Newport Beach, and even though their self-titled debut record isn't out until October 26th, they've already grown a considerable fan base through their very solid live performances (check out the video below to get a taste!) and an EP. The sweet guitar riff, the rough, organic sound, their tireless youthful energy and the hedonistic lyrics on this track remind me of the young Strokes of the Is This It era. I'm looking forward to hear more from these guys next month!

Recently decided to hire an actual band to promote their site after the previous set of commercials did so well. If you are unaware what I'm talking about, then you are surely missing out. The catchy upbeat little ditties in every song actually were entertaining and the goofy face of the band were hard to resist.

(This one is my personal favorite. My first car looked just like that, but was red)

Anyway, it turns out these guys weren't a real band and just actors paid to sing the song. While an effective jingle, the marketing team decided to take it up a notch and do a band search for the new face of The search took a few months and got plenty commercial coverage (including MTV!), but finally we have a winner.

They are the ... Victorious Secrets! (irony)

What does everyone think? Did they deserve to win? The other 3 runner ups will be posted at the bottom of the post if you didn't get to catch them.

For more information on The Victorious Secrets check out their myspace or their official band website. Their pop rock sound is actually pretty infectious.

(exert from their myspace)

Here's what other anonymous people are saying about
The Victorious Secrets!

"They are not too bad actually."

"Hey... they're okay."

" They remind me somewhat of a grungier Sloan. Shocked that this isn't horrible! I'm sure I'll be sick to death of it though. "

"...interesting chord progressions, and lead vocals that don't infuriate me."

"If I have to put up with it, this is perfectly acceptable."

" Something about their songs remind me of the Von Bondies. I kinda don't hate it. "

" It's not horrible... "



The Poets Dance

I Love Monsters

"Dude, you got some ... Arnzt on you"

For anyone living under a rock or for anyone who just gave up on the band, Weezer is releasing their latest album on September 14. Back with a tongue in cheek album cover and title, Hurley**, is set to be more "raw rock and roll" then previous albums and the current single shows this to be true. "Memories" is a step up from the latest batch of Weezer turdlets i.e. Raditude, but will the new album show promise to go back to the days of the famed Blue Album or even Pinkerton? Not quite, but for now we just got to give Weezer time.

"Memories" along with the other 9 tracks on Hurley are the first releases from Weezer on their new label Epitaph. Maybe after the big label move Weezer will start to make more and more sonic changes to a less "pop/rock/radio friendly snooze fest" and more to some of "Say It Aint So".

In the meantime, this song will be rocking most alternative/college radio station playlists for a long while and Weezer will be headlining the ever famous Seattle Bumbershoot festival this sunday along with Rise Against and Hole.

Weezer: Memories

**An album named after the famous character played by Jorge Garcia on the television show Lost. To be honest I was hoping for a Lost concept record, or maybe some answers to Season six but you cant win em all.
August 31, 2010

Your hometown in the new Arcade Fire video

I love Arcade Fire's new album, The Suburbs. I'm personally enjoying it much more than Neon Bible - the nostalgic stories of childhood in the suburbs in their newest effort appeal much more to me, and feel so much more personal and sincere, than Neon Bible's ambitious and grandiose attacks on church, state and society. The band further explores the theme of childhood memories in their amazing new interactive music video 'We Used to Wait', which lets you enter the town you grew up in for some very sweet personalized video collages!

mp3: Arcade Fire - We Used To Wait
August 6, 2010

Röyksopp Adventures in Barbieland

Norwegian electronica duo Röyksopp are releasing their fourth studio album, Senior, on September 13. The album is entirely instrumental, a drastic turn from last year's poppy, vocal-driven Junior. Today, they finally gave their fans a taste of several of the album's tracks, in the form of the extremely weird, quirky and hilarious short film "Röyksopp Adventures in Barbieland". The ten-minute video clip features Barbie dolls, clips of new songs, and the two musicians themselves dressed to look like, er, 'senior citizens'.

video: Röyksopp Adventures in Barbieland

The new album sounds promising, it seems like Röyksopp are going back to their roots: The 2001 chillout masterpiece Melody AM with its many atmospheric, haunting, instrumental tracks.

mp3: Röyksopp - In Space (From Melody AM, 2001)
July 27, 2010

Danky Dank Dank Dank Dank


Juliana Popelka or better known as...

Lisa Dank is a DIY Pop Star who invented herself in the Seattle scene. Love her or hate her, she has the same immediate polarizing effect as Lady Gaga. And that's not only where she stops though, she has the same aesthetic choices in flamboyant clothing and over the top presence.

Not only is she a strong force visually and on stage, but her catchy beats and diva pop star singing are nothing short of intoxicating too. She definitely is not going to be winning American Idol, but her imperfections are easily dismissible for the entire package being presented.

Crazy stage theatrics, commanding stage presence, and in your face pop aren't anything new to music. The only thing is nobody is doing it at such a level that she is now. Sure people can purchase 30$ tickets for a Adam Lambert show, but how many artists do you know can command a stage with the same strength and get everyone moving in a bar suite for 100?

In summary this self proclaimed princess makes indelible pop music with big beats, dance club hooks, absurd lyrics, and the "dont give a fuck" attitude that it takes to keep things interesting.

mp3: Lisa Dank - "On The Radio"

On the Radio by Lisa Dank
July 25, 2010

Dogs! Dogs! Dogs!

While randomly stumbling across Ondemand videos, I saw the band name "You Scream, I Scream" and had to click for a listen. What I found was nothing like I expected. In fact of being some awful crunkcore band, its in fact a rather delightful pop/rock romp about dogs.

The band is fairly unknown, I mean the only Internet sources they have are their own myspace page. How they got on my Ondemand music selection is beyond me, either way I just prefer to see this as destiny to show this adorable song and music video with everyone else.

So without further adieu here is You Scream, I Scream: "Dog"

Hopefully after watching that your all amped up about dogs and are running to your local pet pound to pick up one....

Here's a few other songs to add to that Dog playlist...

The Suicide Machines: "Sometimes I Don't Mind"

Cat Stevens: "I Love My Dog"

July 17, 2010

New Cut Copy material

mp3: Cut Copy - Where I'm Going

mp3: Cut Copy - Lights & Music (Moullinex remix)

Melbourne-based Cut Copy have given us the first taste of their upcoming third album, in the form of the free track "Where I'm Going". It's a tough task to make a follow-up to the hugely popular 2008 album In Ghost Colours - an insanely catchy synthpop album filled to the brim with danceable hit material. Judging by this first track, they're approaching the task by just doing something rather different: the follow-up seems to be 60s and psychedelica inspired, which is a major turn away from the New Order / 90s dance influences of the In Ghost Colours. That's judging by one new track, though - it will be interesting to see how this turns out!

Download the new track above, along with what I personally consider to the hands down best remix of any of the first album's tracks.

Cut Copy's new album is due out early 2011.
July 6, 2010

New of Montreal track: Coquet Coquette

mp3: of Montreal - Coquet Coquette

False Priest, of Montreal's first album in two years, is scheduled for a September 14 release. Being a big fan of the band, and honestly believing that every new album they make always turns out to be better than everything they've done before, my expectations are sky-high. The news I've heard of False Priest so far, and the hints from frontman Kevin Barnes as to what it will sound like, have been rather contradictory and puzzling. On the one hand, the album will supposedly be even more funk and r&b influenced than the funky previous two albums, on the other hand it's supposedly marking a return to 'real' instruments and a more analog rock and roll sound like on the earlier of Montreal releases - away from the drum machines, sequencers, loops and synths from the latest three.

On top of these two confusing bits of news, there's the intriguing fact than Jon Brion is producing the album. The combination of Jon Brion and of Montreal worked fantastically on 2009's excellent Jon Brion Remix EP, so I'm excited about the prospect of Brion putting his magic touch on every single one of False Priest's songs. of Montreal have finally presented a first taste of the album to the world: the track 'Coquet Coquette' was released as a free digital single on June 25th, and yesterday another track, called 'Hydra Fancies', appeared on the internet through the blog Some Kind of Awesome. Both songs certainly sounds different than the of Montreal I'm used to - more polished production than ever before, and a mix of instruments that differs heavily from both the lo-fi rock of the earlier albums and the electronic style of the latest ones. Most of all, though, it just sounds like the band has grown up, and in a very positive way. I can't wait to hear the rest of this one!
June 15, 2010

New videos: MGMT and Gorillaz

MGMT and Gorillaz both released new videos today.

mp3: MGMT - It's Working

Definitely no new 'Kids' (which truly is one of the most memorable music videos I've ever seen), but it suits the song - one of my favorites off the new album - quite well.

mp3: Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill

Cute as always! Nice mixture of CGI characters and traditional 2D cartoon characters, too.
In my opinion, three of 2007's very best and most memorable albums were Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, Panda Bear's Person Pitch and Klaxons Myths of the near Future. All three generated absolutely massive hype, and harvested top scores from record reviewers and/or prizes. Since then, however, it's been been quiet around these three artists. (Well, in Panda Bear's case it's just been the 'Panda Bear project' that's been quiet, as his band Animal Collective have almost constantly been in the spotlight, and enjoyed endless amounts of attention)

Now, the follow-up albums are finally on their way! I got my hands on leaked tracks by all three artists this week, and they're all very promising sounding. I think it's going to be a great autumn for alternative music!

//// New Arcade Fire: The Suburbs and Month of May

mp3: Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

mp3: Arcade Fire - Month of May

While Funeral balanced between the down-to-earth and the loud and pompous, Neon Bible mostly stayed within the latter style, filled to the brim with dramatic church organs and anthemic choruses. If these first two tracks are anything to go by, The Suburbs takes a step down again: 'The Suburbs' is slow, unpretentious and beautiful, while 'Month of May' in my opinion sounds like the most straight-forward rock and roll track Arcade Fire have ever recorded - in a good way!

The Suburbs is out August 2 in Europe and August 3 in the US.

//// New Klaxons: Flashover

Klaxons - Flashover (alternate link)

This sounds like the darker moments of Myths of the Near Future, and I love it. Nothing very unusual or surprising here, but it doesn't sound old either. What is really unusual and rare, is that the four young sophisticated Brits didn't name the song something that's a literary reference! Announcing their return as "here comes the flashover" is pretty badass/cute, though. Good to have you back, guys!

Surfing the void will be out sometimes this fall.

//// New Panda Bear: Tomboy

mp3: Panda Bear - Tomboy

Person Pitch was a dreamy sounding piece of sample patchwork, and it sounds like Panda Bear is continuing the same trend in this year's release. He's been playing a couple of solo shows the last month, presenting a lot of new material. Unfortunaly there are no studio versions available yet, but I'm sure they'll start surfacing soon, with the album only four months away from release. For now, enjoy this live version of the album's title track!

Tomboy is out September 2010.
May 21, 2010

Janelle Monáe feat. of Montreal - Make The Bus

mp3: Janelle Monáe feat. of Montreal - Make The Bus

On Tuesday, Georgia-based soul/indie-pop singer Janelle Monáe released her debut album The ArchAndroid, and the same day she performed the album's first single, Tightrope, on Letterman. The single is a collaboration with fellow Georgia musician Big Boi (of OutKast fame), and is some of the most fresh and funky sounding stuff I've heard since Hey Ya hit the world almost a decade ago.

Her artsy and eccentric persona really shone on her first television performance ever. My favorite song of hers right now, however, is definitely Make The Bus – another collaboration with a fellow Georgia star: of Montreal's equally eccentric and artsy Kevin Barnes. It's arguably more of an of Montreal song than a Janelle Monáe song, but as a big fan of Barnes, I just love what he does in this song.

In Barnes' earlier albums, he made quirky, modest and introverted lo-fi music heavily inspired by the Beatles and 60s psychedelia, but in 2007's Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? he introduced his new alter ego 'Georgie Fruit' on the latter half of the album, and while in this character, he explores a loud, extroverted, funky, shrieking falsetto side of himself that showcases his more recent and different influences, such as Prince. On 2008's Skeletal Lamping, the Fruit character dominated most of the album, but he still never let that side of him completely loose - until he collaborated with Monáe. This is going to be one of my favorite tracks for this summer, for sure!

For an example of one of the songs on Skeletal Lamping that sounds close to this, check out Id Engager and its lovely video.
May 20, 2010

En vill hest (Prince Thomas remix)

mp3: Casiokids - En Vill Hest (Prince Thomas Remix)

Two months ago I wrote about Norwegian electropoppers Casiokids, who since have released their sophomore album Topp Stemning På Lokal Bar. These days I'm hooked to fellow Norwegian Prince Thomas' remix of one track off the album, En Vill Hest. So atmospheric and lush, and I love the way he uses the acoustic guitar samples. Try it for yourself, and have a great and sunny May week!
May 6, 2010

Beardy men

Yesterday, I was riding the tram through the city, and when it passed a small sushi place I noticed that all of its three costumers had big beards.

It looked like they were a band or something. A 'beardy men indie-folk' band.

... like Bon Iver

... or Fleet Foxes

What happened to beardy men indie-folk? Neither Bon Iver nor Fleet Foxes have released any new LPs in two years now. I can't believe it's already been two years. Apparently Fleet Foxes are working on a new album that's going to be released in the fall, though! I'm pretty excited about it, after their very strong debut effort. To be fair, Bon Iver at least did an EP a year ago. Hope they start work on a new LP soon! I wonder how long Fleet Foxes' and Bon Ivers' beards have grown by now.
(their beards pretty small at the start of their tours in 2008, but quite long and manly looking by the end of 2008).
May 4, 2010

Remixed Beach

Speaking of taking the cheerful and bright 'Beach' by Mew and turning it into something sinister and dark, that is exactly what Danish electronic artist Trentemøller has done in his great remix of the song. I've been addicted to this song for about a week now:

mp3: Mew - Beach (Trentemøller Remix)

I haven't been this hooked to a remix of a song with the word 'beach' in its name since my favorite DJs, Brazilian The Twelves, remixed 'Beaches and Friends' (possibly their catchiest and most danceable remix to date):

mp3: Database vs. French Horn Rebellion - Beaches and Friends (The Twelves Remix)

Enjoy, and I hope you'll have the chance to take a trip down to the beach this week and soak up some nice May sun. Where I live, it suddenly snowed today - for the first time in weeks - so my chances are looking pretty bad.
April 28, 2010

Music from Brooklyn

What do all the above songs have in common?
They were all made in Brooklyn! Although it is New York's most populous borough, it still amazes me how much good alternative music has been made within the confined space of these 70 square miles in recent years. I remember there was a lot of buzz about Brooklyn's alternative music scene around 07/08, and in the past two years several of the bands from that period have reached out to bigger and bigger masses, achieving world stardom - like the above four bands.

Animal Collective have since moved away from Brooklyn, though, appearently being tired of the whole place and its people - which they made a point of in their song 'For Reverend Green' (my favorite Animal Collective song, off 2007's Strawberry Jam), where they depicted Brooklyners as 'wasted' and 'depressed'. MGMT have stayed in Brooklyn, but recently announced that "If the fabled Brooklyn music scene does exist, we're definitely not part of it".

The Hundred In The Hands

But there are still numerous interesting new bands emerging from Brooklyn's vibrant music scene today. My most recent discovery is The Hundred In The Hands. This indie pop boy-girl duo lists accessible pop music such as the Kinks, Beatles and Michael Jackson as their main inspiration, something that was evident on the first few songs they recorded. On their debut EP This Desert, however - which is out on May 18 - they showcase a more "ethereal, gauzy side" of their tastes (to quote the band).

To me, the darker soundscape, vocal style and drum machines are slightly reminiscent of the best moments of Ladytron. Ghosts (my favorite track off the EP), with its downtempo, dark but soothing sound, should also be perfect for anyone who loved the XX's debut album and is looking for something new in the same mood. The rest of the EP wanders between different styles, but always combining guitar and coldish electronic sounds in a way that brings artists like New Order, The Cure and (the already mentioned) Ladytron to mind. Check them out for yourself, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do!

mp3: The Hundred In The Hands - Ghosts
April 27, 2010

New video: Mew - Beach

Mew's official music video for the track 'Beach', off their 2009 album No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away, is finally out!

mp3: Mew - Beach(alternate download link)

The members of Danish dream pop / alternative rock band Mew first met each other in the early nineties, when the four founding members worked together on a 7th grade art project. Their project consisted of an art film combining self-composed music with self-recorded video, and was a strong hint of what to come - lead singer Jonas Bjerre still loves to combine video and music in interesting and artistic ways, something Mew fans all over the world know to appreciate.

In all their live shows, bizarre and fascinating backdrop videos always run behind the band for the entirety of the show. These are actually all made by Bjerre personally, who in the meantime between directing his 7th grade art video and breaking through internationally with Mew in 2003 actually for a period also worked professionally with post-production and special effects. For an example of Bjerre's work, check out the absolutely stunning backdrop video for 'Comforting Sounds' (if you're impatient, 4:20 is when the magic begins).

Although Bjerre doesn't produce the official music videos for the band himself, the world is always in for a treat when a new Mew music video is released nonetheless. Due to the band's love for interesting and experimental imagery, they always work with really interesting young up-and-coming directors. 'Beach' was directed by 29 year old Danish director Lasse Martinussen, who also did their last video (Repeaterbeater), and it's truly bizarre and unique - in that special Mew way.

While Beach arguably is the most straigthforward, sweet and bright song on the album, almost naive-sounding compared to other tracks such as the dark New Terrain or the complex and labyrinthian Introducing Palace Players (my absolute favorite track of 2009!), the video is far from naive and sweet. The cheerful song, compared with dark, perplexing and unnerving images, makes for a fantastic music video that makes me once again reconfirm my deep love for these Danish pop geniuses. Enjoy!