Best Albums first half of 2010

Thursday, 24 June, 2010

Like last year I’d like to list the best records I’ve heard so far (alphabetically). I haven’t really heard that much music as last year, which might affect my list.

Caribou ‘Swim’, City Slang. “Odessa” is a monster track. And album is not bad, not bad at all.

Joanna Newsom ‘Hav one on me’, Drag City. Newsom tops her beautiful ‘Ys’ with 200 minutes of incredible song writing and singing.

LCD Soundsystem ‘This is happening’, EMI roecords. Dance music with hang over? Sounds like a party at 6 in the morning.

Shearwater ‘The Golden Archipelago’, Matador. Pompous pop music, much like the record ‘Rook’.

The Besnard Lakes ‘Are The Roaring Night’, Jagjaguwar. Vocal based post rocking little gem. Heard them first via Chromewaves.

The National ‘High Violet’, 4AD. Great sound, good and bad lyrics but all in all on heavy rotation at home and at work.

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra ‘Kollaps Tradixionales’, Constellation. Read my review.

Battles and Wolf Parade still to be release later this year. This can become a pretty good year, but I probably need to step up and explore the unexplored a bit more. Else I could get disappointed about 2010.

I would like to mention some good records that I bought, but that are not from 2010:

Ben Frost ‘By the throat’, Bedroom Community Record. Mistake not buying it last year.

Eels ‘blinking lights and other reevlations’, Vagant Records. Emotional and strong.

Interpol ‘Turn n the Bright Lights’, Matador. I’m late. But when I heard “Hands away” I knew I had missed the record and went straight out and erased my mistake.

Prog is not a four letter word’ compiled by Andy Votel, Delay 68 Records. Heard ‘Sun Ui Lim’ at Moteldemoka.com and has not been disappointed about the compilation on obscure prog.

Just listened to… The Big Pink

Monday, 30 November, 2009

I don’t like when bands are getting to much hype. I tend to get uninterested and neglect the fact that the music is good. The Big Pink released their debut “A Brief History Of Love” on 4AD in September this year and it’s a wonderful shoegaze indiepop album.

Sure they sound like early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Spacemen 3 and Jesus and Mary Chain. But then again: all popbands have a reference to another band through history. Who cares?

Favorite tracks are “Dominos”, “Crystal Visions” and “At war with the sun”. Go check it out!

Band website: http://www.musicfromthebigpink.com/
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/musicfromthebigpink

Decorate Decorate unreleased

Sunday, 27 September, 2009

decoratedecorate_normandie I found some old demo recordings and wanted to share two tracks that I believe should have made it for the first record.

The first is an early demo of “11th“. It was originally released as a LIVE version on “Normandie”. I was sitting in a roof apartment with view over Sortedam Dosseringen and it was probably the first song I heard by Decorate Decorate. I was surprised that is was both original and at the same time somehow domestic or recognizable.

Eternity” was never released. Although the ending of the song actually made it as an extension to the track “Europe has no heart” on their second album “Instructions”. This is how Decorate Decorate sounded in the Scandinavian winter of 2006 / 2007. Now the story has ended – and new ones may begin †

Decorate Decorate – 11th.mp3
Decorate Decorate – Eternity.mp3

Electrelane is a rock band from Brighton, England. They have made four albums and a couple of singles, with the exception of their debut, all released at Too Pure (discogs.com). In this blogpost I wanted to write about my passion for the band.

Rock it to the moon (2001)electrelane-rock-it-to-the-moon

The title must be a reference to Herbie Hancooks “Rockit” playing with the words as if “rock it” was “rocket”. NME thinks it’s snatched from AC/DC, but I don’t get it? None the less there are several references on this record. So why not think the same of opening track “The invisible dog” as a reference to The Stooges “I wanna be your dog”? “Long Dark” include a short piece from “Pop Corn” by Gershon Kingsley. And the sound on “Film music”, “Le Song” and “Spartakiade” could be variations from a sixties soundtrack.

“Gabriel” is one of my all time favorite tracks by Electrelane. It builds up slowly to get become a wild and furious rock dance rhythm only to start over again. Gabriel is a kind of an Electrelane trademark.

With the debut Electrelane put them self somewhere around postrock and krautrock. The sound is a mixture of lots of organ playing, hypnotic rhythms, walls of guitars, echoes, sometimes some backing vocals singing “Ahh-ahh-ahhhhh”, but mostly without any vocals.

The Power Out (2003)electrelane-the-power-out

The Power Out is like travelling with the Locomotive that Electrelane put on tracks at their debut album and probably expressed at their best with the last song “mother”.

I remember as I listened to “The Power Out”, I thought it was better than “Rock it…”. I’m not so sure today, but for me I was at that time easier to understand and explore it. “On Parade” and “This Deed” are my faves, but also unexpected “The Valley” should be mentioned.

The new record differs from the former by having vocals. It’s more open and less “intellectual”. The critics called their attitude arrogant and pretentious, while others sheered the unpredictably songs as stand out of “today’s indie music”.

Steve Albini produced the record which probably made it more consistent and traditional in the name of rock. But the interplay between the bandmembers is still creating the essential sound. You are never in doubt that you are listening to Electrelane.

Axes (2005)electrelane-axes

In the beginning of “Gone Darker” there is a horn from a train that bluster through the soundscape. A saxophone sets the tones. And then we are riding with Electrelane. Faster. Faster. “Axes” once again had a lot of positive reviews, but the critics were still not convinced to name it a masterpiece.

I gladly name the gypsy-like track “Eight steps” a masterpiece. And other favorites include “One two three, lots”, “Bells” and “Suitcase”. On the other hand I admit the experiments on “Business or otherwise” doesn’t promote any magical tricks, but rather makes out a strange obstinacy to play whatever Electrelane like.

“These pockets are people” fades into “The partisan”, a successful cover of Leonard Cohen. It’s well done and a good way to use how the songs of Electrelane evolve. But I must admit that listening to the last track “Suitcase” is somehow the same manuscript as we had with “mother” from “Rock it…”. When you hear this song, you have the sum of the whole record.
Maybe. But it doesn’t change the fact that there a plenty of divers tunes and changing melodies, structures and ideas. If you think the song is a repetition of a former, then I’d say it’s another attempt to perfection and write the final song. This approach can be found in poetry as well.

And Electrelane still have some of the same elements from their first record. The sudden shift in tempo, organs and hypnotic guitar rhythm. On “The power out” they extended the instrumentation, and they continued on “Axes”.

Singles, B-sides & Live (2006)

I don’t want to dwell that much on this compilation. It includes the songs from the EP “I want to be a president” and all B sides from their singles (before 2006) as well as some LIVE recordings.

It includes the three cover songs “The Partisan” already mentioned from “Axes”. It includes the Bruce Springsteen track “I’m on fire” and “More than this” by Roxy music.

“Long Dark” is an alternative version release from a compilation in the magazine “Comes with a smile” (Vol 9). Instead of a short piece of “Pop corn” the guitars are playing the mainline from “Push it” by Salt N Pepa in a crushing up-tempo. (I guess – I haven’t found anyone else writing this).

My favorite is “I’ve been your fan since yesterday” that has dreamy choir, distinguished piano and the well-known looping guitars besides the always heartbeating rhythm of the drummer.

No Shouts No Calls (2007)electrelane-no-shouts-no-calls

Not only is the songwriting more traditional connected to the instruments than ever before. The lyrics are more clear, emotional and bare. The repeating “it could be home, it could be home (…)” from the beautiful “To the east” works like when the guitars are looping. It’s not great songwriting, but it somehow gives Electrelane an honest edge far away from the experimental and young debut “Rock it to the Moon”.

Favorite tracks are “In Berlin”, “To the East” and “Saturday”. The last one maybe because it reminds me of somebody. I didn’t praise this record as I heard it the first time. But somehow “No Shouts No Calls” managed to crawl under my skin and become an important album in my collection. It’s truly a good thing to listen to if you are longing for a long lost love.

“Do do do we’re like fish in the sea / but I thought you were the one for me”.

It’s unknown if Electrelane will ever make a record again. In 2007 Verity Susman recorded a two track single under the name Vera November – http://www.myspace.com/veranovember. Mia Clarke has released one record together with Andy More of The Ex called “Guitargument” in 2009 and formed the band “Follows”.

MP3:
Electrelane – This Deed

cold war kids
Back in May Cold War Kids made an interactive video of “I’ve seen enough”. You can see it at their website or at MTV.

It has first come to my attention today and I think it’s really cool. Making it possible to choose which instruments the band members should play and thereby creating the song is fun. I’ve been clicking around for more than ten minutes. And now I’m hooked on the song. Smart move by Cold War Kids. I vote for best music video this year. Next year it might be most stupid?

Review: Brand Neu – compilation

Thursday, 23 July, 2009

brand-neu-compilationI love the Quietus for having lots of balls, humor and character. In another well-written review the album “Brand Neu” is dismissed as “it becomes clear that the problem with it is (…) the fact that someone thought this album needed to exist in the first place”. Jimmy Martins (The Quietus) continues taking down most of the contributions. It does appear he’s accepting some of the songs to be good, but the context and the reference to be a big misunderstanding.

I did – nevertheless – buy the record. ‘Cause I’m one of those who wasn’t born as krautrock was at its best. I first came to know Neu after listening to post rock acts from Canada. Shame on me, or… So maybe this wasn’t a good album for Jimmy Martin, but I do like bands, which use and update the sound of Krautrock, and thereby gain a repetitive constellation, which is kind of a Bauhaus [architecture] version of psychedelics.

Buying this record doesn’t mean I got 14 new Neu songs. How could they have the same magical sound. As I see it Neu used repetition in a spiritual way, where most bands have difficulties just letting the pulse of the song continue unchanged. But to me there are both interesting and / or loyal pieces on this record.

Favorit track is “Titan Arum”. Foals has a math rock approach when using the guitars to build the texture. It gives a feeling of trance, but keeps having my attention on how it evolves. The song should have been 15 minutes instead of five. It’s also a B-side to ‘Red Socks Pugie’.
Holy Fuck gives it a go and history repeats itself. Nothing new or refreshing here, just pure motorik energy. Grrreat!
Kasabian are somehow at the same spot, but they ‘just’ made a high speed Britpop tune with a drum mashine sounding more like Primal Scream. Primal Scream that on the other hand contributes with the extraordinary “Shoot Speed / Kill Light” from the album XTRMNTR. Spot on.
Other mentionable tracks are Hook & The Twin “They’ll Get your head” and Pets with Pets “We only found this place” (originally from a magazine compilation).

I think Jimmy Martin never did ask the right question to himself, when he listened to the record. Is it a tribute to Neu or is it a representative of where the sound of Krautrock is today? Because Krautrock today is, as Jimmy Martin states, ‘cool’ and has got some attention lately.
At least I think this compilation choose an interesting perspective: instead of making coversongs of the Neu catalogue, the songs are all genuine pieces of the bands inspiration and love for the sound of Neu and the brand that has evolved around Krautrock. And this is actually the reason why I think I’m sitting with a compilation that succeeds. There are so many other compilations out there, where the songs have very little in common. These songs will as Jimmy Martins points out not have the same durability as Neu, but I think it’s a document to the continuous history of krautrock.

Best albums first half of 2009

Sunday, 5 July, 2009

DM-Stith-Heavy-Ghostsanimal-hospital-memoryThis is my top 10 list of albums released in 2009 (listed alphabetically).

Animal Collective ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’, Domino. Finally they made me understand why there is so much hype around them.
Animal Hospital ‘Memory’, Barge Recordings. Varied and layered soundscape par excellence.
Dan Deacon ‘Bromst’, Carpark Records. Unstoppable dance punk electronica.
Decorate Decorate ‘Instructions’, A:larm Music. Yes, they skipped the dots. Read my review here.
Julie Doiron ‘I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day’, Jagjaguwar. A female singersongwriter shows her personality.
Mountains ‘Choral’, Thrill Jockey. Warm, rich, detailed drone.
The Horrors ‘Primary Colours’, XL recordings. Absolutely stunning mix of Joy Division and Neu!
Tim Hecker ‘An Imaginary Country’, Kranky. Dense drone and overwhelmingly captivating.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Zero’, Interscope. Sexy and rocking with attitude and popular melodies.
Zu ‘Carboniferous’, Ipecac. Read .chrz review here.

I also want to promote a list of the five best albums I bought this year, but was released last year or earlier.

b.fleischmann, ‘Angst is not a weltanschauung!’. Morr Music. Read my short review here.
DM Stith ‘Heavy Ghost’. Asthmatic kitty records. Probably the record I’ve listened to the most. For fans of Radioheads new material.
Kazuki Tomokawa ‘ Blue water, red water’, P.S.F Records. Read my comment on Tomokawa here.
Mugison ‘Lonely Mountain’, Accidental records. Islandic singersong writer. Really nice, calm and lonely.
Paavoharju ‘Yhä Hämärää’, Fonal records. Folk-electronica from Finland. Mysterious and wise.

reigns-house-on-causewayb-fleischmann-angst
I have earlier mentioned the agreement between Chrz and I giving each other a recording every quarter. In Q1 2009 I got Reigns “A house on the causeway” and now I’m finding reason and time to write a short note about it.

The cover has nine pictures of a foggy landscape. All pictures are looking the same and not looking the same. And this is how I feel about this record. It reminds me of something. Maybe Tarwater as the slow-mo melodies and the recording sound like something from the bedroom. Apart from the parallel to Morr Music there are less clicks and it’s less withdrawn.
To some extent this is a sad record, but as the sadness ends where the story begins and I keep listen to the record as I get familiar with the fog. And as I get familiar with the fog, I see and explore the differences as I listen more careful to the music.

In the beginning of this year I bought B. Fleishmann “Angst is not a Weltanschauung”. The record is from Morr Music and in some way this marks the record inevitable. I bought the record after a review at Cokemashineglow.
Opposite to Reigns the lyrics from B. Fleischmann are mostly personal. It gives the album strength and intimacy.
My favourite track is with vocals (and written) by Daniel Johnston. Johnston is a broken like when a car is broken – but it can get damn (beautiful) sincere in all the misery (look at “Don’t Play cards with Satan”). “Phones, machines and king kong” is actually a simple track with simple (bedroom made) melodies and an unusual heartfelt vocal. It left me speechless wanting to tell the world about it.

Paris is burning.

Friday, 2 January, 2009

ladyhawk paris is burning cut copy remixsam sparro black and gold

Although I’ve already presented a top five songs from 2008, I would like to share an alternative hit parade.

Ladyhawk – Paris is Burning (Cut Copy Remix)
Sam Sparro – Black and Gold
Santogold – Say Aha
Estelle – American Boy
The Ting Tings – That’s not my name

Both Ladyhawk and Sam Sparro are excelling in melancholic, danceable tunes. After reading (forgot where) that Cut Copy had done some great remixes in 2008, I found a dozen on the Internet. The “Paris is burning”-remix is released on a single by Ladyhawk. The other remixes on the single are worth mentioning. I should have listened to Sam Sparros record – but I haven’t made it yet. I’m though pretty sure this is a one hit wonder.
The name “Santogold” sounds to me like Latin America, M.I.A. and stuff like that. But the “Say Aha” is a positive vibe and is not that ruff and dub’ish. Actually, my Last.fm tells me it’s the second most listened track in December, just beaten by the indie one hit wonder by IAMX “Think of England”.
Estelle made a smooth, cool pop hit featuring Kanye West. This is definitely an alternative list on my blog and I don’t think I will ever mention these two artists again. We’ll see.

nirvana-nevermindnirvana-in-utero

The 3rd CD in my humble collection was Sophie B Hawkins “Tongues and Tails” and I don’t remember what the 4th was. (I have a friend (blog) who from the beginning has written down the chronological order, when every album he owns has been bought).
Maybe it was Metallica. It doesn’t really matter. My 5th CD became one of the most important albums I have ever listened to. My first experience with Nirvana was on MTV the same year as I listened to “More Powers Ballads”. At first I didn’t like the single “Smells like teen spirit”. I turned the TV off a couple of times (it was on heavy rotation). But I began to like it more and more. And when starting in school after summer holiday, my musical taste got a fast forward direction.
Namedropping: Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Breeders, some Sonic Youth, Stina Nordenstam, Radiohead, Tori Amos and the Danish Dizzy Miss Lizzy (preferred above Psyched up Janis and Kashmir). Most of the influence came from the radioshow “Det elektriske barometer”, but music was suddenly something I could talk about in school – not just listen to what other spoke about and thought was cool. Indeed an identity was built on music and style. But as I had no knowledge on fashion. And my power of judgement regarding cloths was on the one hand terrible. And on the other hand I did my shopping with my mom. How was she supposed to understand the fashion of grunge artists and sloppy teenagers from independent boarding schools for lower secondary students (there must be a better word)?
Still I had a lot to learn. As Incesticide was put on to the shelves of HMV (later M&M Shop and then Fona 2000), I thought it was a brand new record, not knowing the meaning of b-sides and demos fully.
Going to high school improved the musical direction and my dedication to – not only grunge -but music in general. Going to concerts, night clubs (Dancecore at Stengade 30) or just listening to the records of my new friends added a social and extroverted dimension to something that first and foremost had been something I listened to in my bedroom.
The Grunge wave got me. And I while some records were left behind I continued to play “Nevermind” and “In Utero” when my attention shifted from Seattle, USA to Britain with bands like Pulp, Oasis, Radiohead (once again) and Garbage.