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.

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Best music videos 2009

Sunday, 3 January, 2010


Music videos can showcase the artist, serve different purposes or just be small cinematic poems. Music videos has a serious expression since birth of MTV, and although we in some countries have limited access to the videos on Youtube and others, the genre is widely appreciated and Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham and Shynola shall have lots of credit for their work in the past and present.

When I look back at the year 2009, I think there have been several videos that have promoted the artist or song in a highly entertaining way. I like the genre for being something in itself – the videos aren’t always just an add-on.

My top 5 is:

1. Röyksopp – This must be it [open in new window]
It’s difficult to describe how they use the normal music video storyboard and create

2. Ramona Falls – I say fever [open in new window]
Very aesthetic, very pleasing to the eye. It’s a short, but strong movie and I think the music fits beautifully.

3. Coldplay – Strawberry Swing [open in new window]
Impressiv work by Shynola. And do also check out “Life in Technicolour

4. Rymdreglade – 8-bit trip[open in new window]
Very amazing and crazy lots of work behind. Absolutely perfect match between music genre and video style.

5. PomplamooseMusic – Beat it [open in new window]
The development within technology makes it easier to produce your own fancy video. There has been a couple of fun DIY videos. Fx by Kutiman doing a mashup of sounds on youtube and SOUR using the video in a simple but very creative way on ‘Hibi no neiro’.
But Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte behind Pomplamoose Music are very loveable and ‘Beat it’ is a great cover version.

Review: Oneida – Rated O

Tuesday, 1 December, 2009

‘Rated O’ is a 3 x CD album release with around 40 minutes of play on each disc. There are sometimes vocals, some jamming and there is lots of repetition. I do first think of Krautrock and psychedelic rock back from the late 70ies. And compared to other bands of today influenced by the Krautrock genre, Oneida leave it pretty raw and make use of more improvised – or experimental – pieces within the tracks.

The critics have been very dissident. Everybody seems to respect the groups back catalogue. But some like the first CD, and others only like the second or third CD in this ambitious release.

The first CD is a mix of reggaeton, noise and dance rhythms. I’m not that familiar with the sound, but it seems like this raw power tunes gives Oneida a lot of edge and weight. You’ll find a band jamming and playing without direction, but still ending up in a beautiful repetitive part during the “10:30 at the Oasis” (with the help from Trans AM member Phil Manley). Both the opening track “Brownout in Lagos” as well as “The human factor” are primal screams: heavy and alien. I wonder if I ever find myself in all this mess?

The second CD is how Oneida play straight forward rock with a vocal in the drugged chaotic haze. Both “The River” and “I will haunt You” are up-tempo rock songs with reference to the psychedelic seventies. But after two months of listening I’d better make references to Black Sabbath and Stooges. Maybe prog rock indie piece “The Life You Preferred” is favorite track for now.

The third CD is a soundscape of cosmic jamming. Sitar, drums, drones, bells and psych guitar are pulsing and while they are travelling down a moody road, I lose the reference point. I think the influence from Boredoms especially have put its marks on drummer Kid Millions, which comes to expression on this third part of the release. In an interview with the Quitus he tells about the magnificent Boadrum 77 and 88 and meeting Eye getting a more spiritual understanding of being a musician.

Some critics say the record would have been better, if it has fitted one CD and fillers were left out. I must disagree. If I read a book or is watching a movie the highlights alone will not tell the whole story worth remembering.

Last year ‘Preteen Weaponry’ gave me a pleasant surprise. Especially the drumming and repetition seemed steady, lasting and absorbing. What’s going to come next year is not easy to say. But by now having released 10 full albums and several EPs since 1997, the follow up on ‘Rated O’ and last album in the trilogy surely has something to live up to.

Band website: http://www.enemyhogs.com/
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/oneidarocks

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.

Roskilde Festival 2009

Monday, 15 June, 2009

roskilde-festival One year ago I said I wouldn’t participate in the wild and wonderful Roskilde Festival. Two days before I changed my mind and saw memorable performances by MGMT, Battles, Girl Talk and Shantel, while Yeasayers and others have gone into oblivion.

Again this year I am not going. But if I were, there would be plenty of bands to see. The smaller stages have my attention as always. I believe Pet Shop Boys, Coldplay as well as Oasis and Trentemøller are going to kick as at the Canopy stage. But there are a some other bands I would like to promote.

It’s both Karen O’s rock’n’roll attitude as it’s the good melodies and details in the production that convince me Yeah Yeah Yeahs are going to play a great concert. Fever Ray has released a promising album. I’m not sure what to expect – as The Knife only played a few concerts this could both be spectacular or disappointing. I’d also promote White Lies and Friendly Fires for their 2009 dark sound and popular and danceable tunes.

More dark and metal I would love to hear Zu. They are from Ipecac (Mike Patton label) and is all about drone riffs, monster drums and jazz-saxophone. They have some kind of the same approach as Lightning Bolt. I have never seen Isis live, which probably would be enough reason for me to see them. And talking about the heavy stuff I would recommend both Mono and Wolves in the Throne Room.

It’s not going to be heavy all of it. Den Sorte Skole, Hauschka and maybe Shogu Tokumaru have made some impressing releases lately and their approach are never more far out than I think of dancing or dreaming myself far away. Especially Danish act Den Sorte Skole is a must see.

More crazy and edgy you’ll find Gang Gang Dance and Deerhoof. Sometimes Deerhoof gets somewhat annoying in a childish way. Sometimes Gang Gang Dance get too arty farty. However Roskilde Festival must be the perfect place to see these two bands.

After this I’ll probably need to rest and relax. Both Jenny Wilson and Marnie Stern could be nice to see. And The Whitest Boy Alive indeed. If you pass the Lounge stage I’ll recommend you to see the poet Morten Søkilde. His exploration into the sound of syllable is both amazing, beautiful and a somehow kitsch.

Have a nice festival!

decorate_decorate_instructions

‘A child is a rose is a name is a punch in the face’

Does this remind you of the author Gertrude Stein? Well this might be because this very author (along with Morten Nielsen, Michael Houellebecq and others) seems to be a source of inspiration for leadsinger Auring Grimm. He explores the lyrics to let the vocals be more than just an instrument of the band. In the text we find a lot of ‘letters’, ‘stamps’ and ‘words’. The themes are deprivation and love, but there are also themes such as dreaming and letting go (“Away”). I hear the Nordic desolation and melancholy through the album.

In “Brothel” the music is dragging you down, while you listen to the words ‘Look at the water’. I believe the way they drag the listener down to the water is intentional, and I think they succeed in their efforts often. Favourite tracks are “2000 Needles”, “Brothel” and “Away”. It may also be the catchy “Paper cuts”.

On the other hand “Montmartre” seems more blurred than raw, and “Different strengths of white” has many unnecessary effects and seems a bit too polished. It could be a matter of taste?

‘We are unknown addresses / and our hands / are full of letters’

Decorate Decorate have matured. Their mini-album ‘Normandie’ had indirect references to the darkness of Joy Division. Today the band plays more than dark rock. The vocals are British and the music has beautiful references to British shoegazer. Furthermore I must point out that the music and lyrics are more complex. It seems as if the members have opened up as a band. The feelings, presence and intensity are multiple and more various than before. The album is still growing on me.

Bonus: the new ending of “Europe has no heart” is actually a part from an early demo called “Eternity”.

Part 2: Learning to fly. 1989 – 1992

Friday, 26 December, 2008

more-power-balladsmarky-mark-and-the-funky-bunch

I’d like to imagine my musical taste in the early years in school was just as bad as anyone else. Listening to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch while reading Mix (youth magazine) or even better to Vanilla Ice. I even went to see the Movie Cool as Ice just trying to figure out what was all this fuzz about being a fan and knowing stuff about the artist that was not directly related to the music?
Before – or was it at the same time as(?) – listening to these “hip hop” acts a school friend had a mix tape from his brother containing MC Hammer, Army of Lovers, Snap, KLF, Dr Baker, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Cut n’ Move. Or this is how I remember getting these acts to know.
MTV might have had its influence too, as I later was introduced to U96 “Das Boot”, A-ha “Take on me”, Genesis, Michael Jackson and other music videos in heavy rotation.
I remember a sunny summer holiday in lovely Austria where I watched a lot of MTV and stayed inside listening to my new tape “More Power Ballads“. I don’t remember how I got hold of it, but the classic songs – Scorpions “Send me an angel”, Mr Big “To be with you”, DAD “Laugh and ½” and Led Zeppelin “Stairways to heaven” among others – was played over and over.
I bought my two first CD’s in a record store in City 2, a horrible shopping mall. Dr Alban “Its my life” and Snap “Rhythm is a dancer”. I’m happy to tell You that I still have these marvellous albums.